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Valley People (Oct 29, 2014)

DIANE PAGET, 69, 40-plus-year resident of Anderson Valley, activist, community organizer, and acupressurist, passed away in her sleep on Wednesday night. A potluck lunch and memorial for her will be held at the Anderson Valley Grange on Sunday, November 2nd at noon. Diane requested that people bring or wear any art or craft items she had made for them. And bring your own dishes for the potluck, please. (— Jade Paget-Seekins)

DIANE was one of the handful of community members, writes her good friend Barbara Goodell, who gathered to begin AV Foodshed 10 years ago. She was also our Boonville Farmers' Market manager for two years. She was an instrumental part of the beginnings of our Mendocino County Local Food Guide, the Not-So-Simple Living Fair, the Boonville Winter Market and other Foodshed activities too numerous to mention. She will be greatly missed by our community. We had an impromptu mini-memorial for Diane after the final Boonville Farmers' Market this morning.

Diane Paget
Diane Paget

ED SLOTTE is at home recovering from a heart attack and other maladies discovered after the popular Boonville logger and basketball coach was airlifted from a job site near Manchester two weeks ago for hurry-up treatment in Santa Rosa.

CAL FIRE will lift the Countywide Burn Suspension this Saturday (October 25th). The 2014 Fire Season has not yet been declared closed, so burn permits are still required, obtainable at your nearest CalFire installation. Local fire departments will presumably also be offering permits soon.

STOPPED in at the refurbished Elder Home Sunday afternoon and was most impressed at how pleasant the space is, and what a terrific job the many involved locals have done making it available. Anne Bennett showed me around, and I swear that  is one dynamic lady of the rare Get 'Er Done type. A local elderly couple is already moved in to the other side of the spiffily redone duplex, and it’s spoken for.

"ON 10-25-2014 at about 5:20 PM, a Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy observed a vehicle with an excessively loud stereo being driven by Arturo Rivera-Garcia on Highway 128 in Boonville, California…"

THUS BEGINS Rivera-Garcia's trip to the County Jail for inflicting his boom box on central Boonville. Deputy Walker, bless him all his days for taking boom boxes personally. And white powder. And driving under the influence. And driving on a suspended license.

ONE WOULD THINK a guy traveling under these conditions would not be eager to call attention to himself, but…

REMINDS ME of a similar episode responded to by the now retired Deputy Squires. That day, a man next door had his boom box cranked up so loud it was rattling windows at your beloved community newspaper and making it impossible for us to work through the din. I peered over the fence to ask the guy to turn it down. He glared back and tweeked the dial like he was turning it up. To old for hand to hand combat, I was tempted to shotgun the boom box, which was one of these massive jobs housed in the trunk of this particular moron's vehicle where, I assumed, it could cause serial annoyance as the fool drove down public streets.

SO I CALLED Deputy Squires. He soon drove up, climbed briskly out of his patrol SUV and, without a word, ripped the thing, still playing, out of the trunk of the guy's car, slammed it into his patrol wagon and drove off. That's what I call problem-solving and effective community policing. I got a few residual death glares over the fence, but it was quiet after that.

THE FROST FANS are the next community nuisances that will soon become a responsibility of law enforcement. They're a lot more intrusive than some remedial reader's boom box, and they're much louder and they play for much longer periods of time — try midnight to 8am. The County has a noise ordinance, as the boom box precedent establishes, and the County has an obligation to enforce it, as the boom box precedent also establishes. But the wine and vineyard people are much more formidable than a lone cretin driving around deliberately annoying people. We'll see what we shall see on the frost fans.

MENDOCINO COUNTY MASTER GARDENERS are inviting applications for the winter 2015 training leading to Master Gardener certification by University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE). Successful applicants typically share a love of gardening and seek to gain garden related knowledge, enjoy the company of fellow gardeners and give back to their communities as Master Gardener volunteers. The rigorous UCCE approved course will run weekly from January 21 thru April 29. Most classes will be offered at the Extension offices, 890 N. Bush, in Ukiah with a field trip to Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Sessions will be taught by UCCE specialists and other gardening professionals. The Master Gardener Program operates nationwide and in Canada to equip home gardeners with science-based information so that they can serve as volunteer coaches and teachers for others in their communities. Trainees receive approximately 50 hours of classroom and hands-on instruction. Applicants should expect to contribute to their communities by volunteering on Master Gardener projects for 50 hours in the year after their certification. Applicants must be Mendocino County residents and have access to online communication and web-based resources. The $200 fee covers books, materials and instruction. For additional information, contact the UC Cooperative Extension office in Ukiah at 707 463-4495 ( or MG Coordinator Wendy Roberts at 707 937-4702 (

AILEEN ELIGIO reminds us  that AV High School will hold a blood drive on Monday, November 3rd from noon to 4pm in the high school gym. Walk ins welcome. "Be sure to come well nourished & hydrated. Please eat a good breakfast. Each donor will receive a t-shirt!"

THE LAST TIME I tried to give blood I was trying to sell it because I wanted to write about the experience. I think they were paying $40 bucks a pint, and after filling out all the paperwork I was told I was too old. My fellow donors were a desperate collection of street people, drug addicts and drunks, and I wondered why I, a healthy, albeit semi-alcoholic Senior Citizen, was not cash-worthy, while the twenty or so other people in the room were clearly not. The young woman in charge explained that the blood of older people is, for reasons I've forgotten, is somehow not as desirable, at least for the purposes of a commercial blood bank, as that of younger people, even if those younger people are objectively decrepit. AV High School is not a commercial blood bank, so come one come all.

ODD, ISN'T IT that Rancho Navarro got about two inches of rain Saturday while Boonville got nary a drop, again confirming Ken Montgomery's ancient observation that the Anderson Valley is really a collection of "micro-climates."

UNSOLICITED ENDORSEMENT: Eagle Tech Collision and Towing, Randy Hatcher proprietor, Cloverdale. My ancient Honda Civic was towed to Eagle Tech last week. Randy and crew almost instantly diagnosed the prob and solved it just as quickly, all for a reasonable price and with such jolly bonhomie I kinda felt like hanging around a while just to chat with these guys.

USEFUL COPING STRATEGY spotted on a Ukiah bumpersticker: “Try Not To Be A Dick.”

RACHEL OLIVIERI drives one of the longest mail routes in the United States. Our Jan [Walker] The Mail Lady is also right up there in daily miles travelled, and both these remarkable women work right here in Mendocino County, Jan The Mail Lady out of Yorkville, Rachel out of Willits. Rachel describes her route:  "I have one of the longest USPS contract routes in the US - 150 miles - 2 counties - 3 zip codes - about 180 customers - super rural - 50 miles of gravel switchback roads with two summits 3000-3500 ft." To amuse herself, Rachel, on her breaks at the higher elevations, builds cairns. "Cairn building started really small and than grew into something unintended as most things I tackle do. This is a collection of Cairns (free standing — self-supporting rock markers) just off a large collection of mailboxes for rural customers. It was built, literally, one or two rocks at a time over the course of Spring-Summer. I have a whole series of different sites that I will post if some find it interesting."


MARTIN BRADLEY has done some preliminary research on the county farm, which, at one time, was Mendocino County's strategy for the humane care of its habitual drunks and miscellaneous incompetents: "Spent a half hour in the online Ukiah Daily Journal archives trying to find the roots of the inmate honor farm. "I found this reference right away which is a good start. June 1, 1954. The first months of the publication of the Ukiah Daily Journal, merging the papers that preceded it. Five questions submitted to the candidates for Mendocino County Sheriff Coroner. Of the four men running for Sheriff in '54, question 5 was: "Are you in favor of establishing a county jail farm for Mendocino county? From what I gathered, there was a Farm at the State Hospital, and it sounds like some jail inmates did work there with residents."

EARLIER, there was a County Farm on Low Gap Road. The State Hospital at Talmage, which housed everyone from the criminally insane to drunks and, later, drug addicts, always ran a farm as productive work and training for inmates.

IN OTHER HISTORICAL look-backs, the subject of the proposed dam on Anderson Creek has come up. We're talking the 1970s. The basic idea was to divert the winter flow of Anderson Creek to a holding area, aka lake, on the Bradford Ranch from where Lake Bradford would be piped to Boonville for domestic use via two proposed routes — one behind the Fairgrounds, the other a little farther south, and thanks to Emil Rossi for recalling the details. The scheme, on which the state had signed off, was abandoned when it didn't pencil out, math-wise.

I HEARD an oblique reference the other day to Mrs. Ricard of the Ricard Fire Hazard in South Boonville, that abandoned row of storefronts at Haehl Street and 128, the reference being that Mrs. Ricard is a native of the Anderson Valley. Anybody out there know her maiden name? Anybody out there care to speculate on why she might want to maintain an eyesore on our one and only main street?

COACH KUNY called to make sure we knew that Will Lemons had a heckuva game in Point Arena last Saturday, racking up 20 tackles, which is indeed a heckuva game. If the Panthers get past Laytonville at Laytonville this Friday night, they will be the Northcoast's undisputed small school football champs, but champs with one more mountain to climb at the Redwood Bowl here in Boonville when they'll play either Point Arena and Mendocino one more time.

WEDNESDAYS at America's last newspaper, where life on the very bottom rung of free enterprise bumbles along, is a day of dispatch and delivery by the editor and publisher. He likes doing it, Mr. Ed Pub, does. He likes staying in touch with his customer base, not all of it hostile, he says. He also looks forward to a solid six hours with books on tape. It's hard to get six straight hours with a book-book, modern life being as hectic as it is, and over the years Mr. Ed Pub has logged a lot of long books he otherwise wouldn't have gotten to. He wouldn't want to drive every day like he does on Wednesdays, but once a week amounts to respite, a kind of mobile r&r for beleaguered Ed, and from here we move seamlessly on to the first person for a true life adventure.

ON THE LAST LEG south Wednesday afternoon my radiator  blew up. I was four or five miles north of Cloverdale when a steam cloud suddenly obscured the road and my '98 Honda Civic collapsed. I coasted into the turnout exactly one bend beyond rescue on Highway 101, as the mini-catastrophe commenced and developed.

My Civic has 225,000 hard miles on it. Despite years of rough use and housekeeping neglect, it has never betrayed me. When it died Wednesday afternoon I thought maybe it was telling me, “This is what you get for treating me like this. Never in all our years together not so much as a single exterior dusting, or a good vacuum, a kind word.” The windshield's been cracked for years; the remains of ancient meals lie under the driver's seat. I was surprised recently to find a bundle of papers from 2009 in the trunk. My wife, who doesn't drive, complains of the engrimed interior every time she climbs aboard.

But here's my thinking: Call it a utilitarian approach to transportation, and I speak here as the son of the man who ran out of gas twice in one day! I get my Civic's guts lubed and tuned at regular intervals, which isn't much in the way of true affection but it isn't neglect either. Would you rather have a bath or bypass surgery? My mechanic told me years ago, “These things run forever. This one is very strong.” So long as it gets me there, is my thinking. I could care less what it looks like. I've never washed a vehicle in my life. At my wife's insistence I've run it through a car wash a few times, but life is way too short to squander precious minutes caressing a pile of locomoting steel and plastic.

And I'm old. My car's only 16 but ancient in car years. I'm trying to calibrate my exit with my Civic's last gasp. If I shuffle off about the same time my car does, I'll feel a kind of final mortal gratification at having avoided buying a new one. I like my Civic, and until Wednesday it had always liked me.

Disabled by the side of busy 101, I grabbed an empty container and made my way down to the Russian River, naively assuming I could simply refill the radiator and get on my way. The radiator cap seemed loose, and I thought that was the cause of the steam eruption. I would fill the radiator with the Russian's finest, screw the cap down tight and me and my Honda would be off and running. But the Russian River water I'd scooped up ran right on through the radiator and down onto the littered ground.

I considered my options, quickly realizing I only had one — the kindness of strangers.

I refuse to carry a cell phone, preferring the fates to this odd compulsion in millions of my fellow citizens to be constantly in touch. “But you should have one for emergencies.” I should also have a month's supply of ammo in case I have to go to Covelo, and a hazmat suit for driving past Santa Rosa, maybe a football helmet in case something falls out of the sky… You get my drift here? Listen to me, goddammit! Life is precarious! Totally random! Anything can happen to you at any time! You are not safe from the time you're expelled from the womb until the day you turn up your toes. You start worrying about possibilities rather than probabilities next thing you know you're rotating your tires and buying life insurance!

So, my car is dead and I don't have a phone. What to do? I'll get some good person to pull over and use their phone, that's what I'll do. I'll go as high as twenty bucks if they'll let me call Triple A on their dime. I got out my Triple A card, walked over to the edge of the highway and waved it at southbound traffic, trying to look elderly and needy and harmless all at the same time.

Lots of the looks I got were, of course, quizzical. “What's that old hippie doing? Why's he waving a credit card out here in the mild middle of nowhere?” A guy in a Prius honked and gave me the finger. He must have recognized me or he harbored some crazy random hostility for old guys standing alongside highways. You never know. There's a lot of unhappiness out there.

I'd only been pathetically brandishing my Triple A card for a few minutes when a youngish Asian man pulled over. He was driving a large work pickup. A beautiful Alsatian focused its eerily blue eyes on me out of the back seat. I explained myself. Without hesitation he handed me an iPad. I've never seen this particular gizmo close up, let alone operated one.

The Samaritan dialed Triple-A for me. The woman dispatcher, sitting somewhere far, far away, was having trouble getting my location. “I see you've been with us for many years, sir, are you in a safe location?” The geriatric assumption was clear enough. “There is no such thing as a safe location in this life,” I wanted to say, but I wanted to get home for the ball game more than I wanted to smart ass an anonymous Triple A dispatcher.

But when she went incorrectly through my location for the third time I knew I was screwed. No tow truck was coming for me out of Cloverdale or any other place. “I've got you on emergency priority, sir,” the dispatcher assured me. “They'll be right there.” That was double down on No Help Coming. I was going to have to hitchhike on down the road to fetch my own help. What with GPS and Google Earth and Total Government Surveillance, Triple A can't find a broke down American and his battered Japanese import on a major California north-south highway?

I thanked the Samaritan and tried to give him a twenty. “No thank you,” he said, and drove off.

I waited an hour and a half for the tow truck before I gave up all hope of a Triple A rescue. I later found out that the tow truck had looked for me all that time, too, Triple A having placed me miles south from where I was.

Back out to the highway, this time with my thumb out. Almost instantly, a huge classic American car with three Indians in it pulled over. “Where you goin', bub?” the driver asked, and all in the same breath, said, “Get in.” I knew this man instinctively helps people, as did my earlier Samaritan, and I marveled at the odds of two real human beings in a row in one day.

“Lisa,” the driver said to the woman in the passenger seat, “look up the tow outfits in Cloverdale.”

Lisa produced a phone book and began her research. The big guy in the back seat with me was so preoccupied working on a fistful of Scratchers, and I knew from his indifference that his dad helped people all the time. I was just one more rescue, and minutes later I was at the desk of the excellent Eagle Tech Collision and Towing, central Cloverdale. The Indians wouldn't take any money either, and I was home by the third inning, in plenty of time to see the Giants relievers give up five runs to the Royals.

One Comment

  1. debrakeipp October 29, 2014

    One day when I worked at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, I got in my car at the end of the day and started it, with my purse sitting next to me in the seat. All of a sudden I heard my muffler make a funny noise and got out to check it, inadvertently locking the door behind me – and the car running with my purse in the front seat.

    What to do? In the days before cell phones… Finally a co-worker came out and called AAA for me. I went back to the curb and waited.

    A little yellow AAA like pick-up without identification on the outside of truck pulled up behind me. A young black man got out secluding a slim jim under the long of his arm and popped my door open for me. I handed him my AAA card.

    He said, “Hey lady, I ain’t triple-A. Have a good day”.

    And he got in his car and drove off.

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