Artists, rescuing dogs and other ongoings in GE
The good news from Glen Ellen
Our autumnal equinox arrived last Saturday and I’ve already plugged in my little desk-side portable heater. It’s not nearly chill enough to light the fire that warms Creekbottom through the winter; that will come later, though soon, perhaps.
If perchance that makes you picture my handsome Sweetie chopping and stacking cords of wood, think again.
A couple of years ago we had Ron Prusko install a gas unit in our fireplace. Like, the famous pianist of my childhood, Vladziu Liberace said, “I love the fake.” I agree.
Plus, the fake fire is more environmentally friendly protecting the fresh air in our little hollow of Glen Ellen. Still, I must admit I miss the smell of smoky fires redolent of the aroma of childhood camping trips.
Good news of a lovely, late summer ceremony. Blake Rector married his longtime sweetheart Megan Klenow at K-2 Ranch on Trinity Road. The Glen Ellen fellow met his Sweetie Megan when he was just in fourth grade at piano lessons. Best wishes to the happy couple. May you always make beautiful music together.
Ann Zollinger sends good news about recent rescue efforts by our Glen Ellen firefighters: Her huge friend, Jasper, a 180-pound canine of the St. Bernard persuasion, had an infection and “could only make it to the bottom of the driveway,” en route to medical aid, shared Ann. “Then Chief Peter Van Fleet arrived first at this ‘incident,’ faced with no light task. Engine 3281 showed up shortly at the scene and the patient was loaded into the back of the truck. Then the firefighters met us at Dr. Bob Wagner’s where Jasper was carried into the office on a stretcher. The firefighters stayed to help maneuver him, but also out of concern.” Ann adds, “Not to mention that Dr. Wagner serves on the board of directors of the fire department.”
Ann ends with good news, “Jasper will most likely make the Glen Ellen Village Fair parade to support the our fire department, thanks to the incredible care from Dr. Bob, Pam and Julie. Jasper will help at the beer booth. The bad news is he may be cleverly disguised as a toy poodle.”
Ann is a huge supporter of our Glen Ellen Fire Department (www.glenellenfire.org) and for years, she’s joked that her dog Jasper is the entire Avalanche Rescue Team. Ann was pretty impressed at our firefighters’ support of our community, of all species.
Susan Nuemberg, Bouverie docent and an English professor emerita from the University of Wisconsin sends good news about events at Jack London State Historic Park.
The first is a family film, “Klondike Fever,” a 1980 adventure film starring Rod Steiger and Angie Dickinson. It portrays Jack London’s travels from San Francisco to the Klondike goldfields of Canada in 1898. The film will be shown on Saturday, Sept. 29. The park opens at 5:30 p.m. for picnics, with the film starting at sunset, around 7:30 p.m.
Admission is $10 general, with children under 12 free.
Bundle up for evening chill (which will bring home the Klondike environment) and bring low lawn chairs or blankets; chairs are not provided. Purchase your tickets at (www.jacklondonpark.com).
I think this film would be even more exciting for the family, if you spent the afternoon visiting the House of Happy Walls and hiking to Wolf House ruins.
On Monday, Oct. 8, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the House of Happy Walls will be the place to hear the inaugural kick off to the Jack and Charmian Lecture Series. Jay Williams, a renowned Jack London scholar and author, is the speaker. His talk will be followed by a Q&A session. Tickets are $10, which includes parking. Buy your tickets at the park or online at www.jacklondonpark.com. Seating is limited, so don’t wait to check the website.
The next event for families is Sunday, Sept. 30, when everyone is invited to hike to the ancient redwood with a stop at the Pig Palace. Children 7 and older will enjoy this four-mile intermediate hike. Susan suggests you bring plenty of water and wear sturdy shoes. This is the last of a series of free Sunday morning hikes in September led by volunteer docents. Meet in the upper parking lot for a 10 a.m. start.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been an occasional guest in Wendy Wellender’s fourth-grade classroom at Dunbar School. My visits are short, since I’m just there to meet my lovely mentee, a student in that class. But even in a ten-minute visit to that classroom, I’ve seen exciting teaching and involved students, eager to learn, enthusiastic about science.
Vidya Quigley and Sarah Olsen from the Sonoma Ecology Center offer nature-inspired lessons in Wendy’s class every Thursday. I’ve watched them demonstrating flower dissection and identification, describing pollinator behavior and characteristics, and playing outdoor games involving predators and prey.
While my mentee and I are always eager to walk over to M. J. Arner’s exciting mentoring center, Vidya and Sarah’s lessons provide a compelling reason to linger in the fourth-grade room. It’s just one of Dunbar’s dynamic programs.
As for the mentoring center: what a joyful place. M.J.’s warmth and enthusiasm is extended equally to mentor and mentee. Everyone feels nourished by her care. Besides, it’s fun place to hang out. One week, my mentee taught me how to make three-dimensional origami balls, while another time we sat quietly talking, drawing and writing.
This past week, we were hardly quiet, however. Mentee and I, along with M.J. played a raucous round of Apples to Apples, a fast-paced word game that can be highly competitive. The object is to match nouns with adjectives, with the winning combination being highly subjective. It creates lots of laughter and the three of us didn’t hold back. The cards created plenty of talk to about. We discussed what each of us thought creepy or boring or exciting and more. In the end, the fourth-grader beat us both, fairly and proudly.
A year or so ago, when I signed up to be part of the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, I didn’t know what to expect. Of course, I pictured spending time with a youngster, learning more about that child and being together each week.
What I didn’t anticipate was the fun and laughter that we both share: the giggles and silliness that have become part of my weekly hour at Dunbar. And the learning, too. Not just from me to mentee, but just as much from mentee to me.
The mentoring program is not just a good program, it’s great – much better than I ever imagined: Nothing like teaching school, which I loved, and nothing like being a parent, which was one of my great joys. It’s all new.
M.J. Arner is quick to share that there are always more children needing mentors at Dunbar. The same is true of every school. If you have even the slightest inclination to explore this great opportunity, call Dunbar’s Mentoring Center at 996-7328 or the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance office at 938-1990.
Dennis and Ann Zeminski, of Wolf Run, travel extensively sharing his art in galleries around the country. I also enjoy seeing Dennis’ work that enlivens the alcoves at Bob Rice’s Breakaway Café in Sonoma. I look forward to seeing what Dennis will offer this year at the Sonoma Valley Plein Air show on Saturday, Oct. 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Sonoma Plaza. I believe that Dennis is the lone Glen Ellen artist to be included in that show. I’d like to see more of his work locally. Same is certainly true of Glen Ellen Village Market neighbor, artist Douglas Fenn Wilson. That Glen Ellen artist’s work is an even more rare sight in his hometown, though we know his work is admired and in collections throughout the country. Maybe we’ll have a chance to see more Wilson artwork soon.
Along with you, we are pondering two emerging projects in our village. The first: smack dab in the middle of town. Something big is arising at artist Wilson’s home next to the Glen Ellen Village Market. It looks like more than just a residence: the new building dwarfs Wilson’s good-sized studio near Arnold Drive, where his house used to be. It looks palatial and beautiful, a life-sized embodiment of his artwork. It’s an intriguing project. In our imagination, it will become a showcase where Douglas will share his beautiful art with everyone: a gallery, a museum. Time will tell. Meanwhile, we watch the construction.
Just as puzzling are the two barns that suddenly appeared across Highway 12 from the Bouverie Preserve’s driveway. Someone told me they are organic barns. With what purpose I wonder. It was hinted by another friend that those barns are for processing and sales of truffles, that pig rooted delicacy. But that sounds too good a fantasy to be so. When I discover this mystery, I’ll let everyone know. So far, I’ve been too intimidated by the chaos of construction to investigate. Not willing to walk on a worksite sans helmet, I’ve let my imagination provide the answer. No doubt, someone among my readers knows. Call me. I like reporting good news.
Peeking through the windows, we love the way Tom Rice’s art studio looks on any evening. With the gathering crowds surrounding Ari and Erinn Weisswasser’s Glen Ellen Star, we’d guess that Tom might remain open to entertain the foodie folks. Not so; not yet. We suggest he give it a trial run. Folks who love to eat works of art, might also be inclined to buy permanent works of art. We’ll watch, and report.
Another talented Glen Ellen artist is Patrick McMurtry, fantasy landscape painter. Fantasy artist you might ask? Yes, Patrick paints landscapes of our Valley, but many are invitingly unrealistic: trees swirl in unseen winds while rocky hillsides seem sculpted by Vulcan. Flowers bloom in dreamy profusion and broiling clouds pattern the sky. Patrick’s paintings are full of mystery and movement. Not merely Sonoma Valley landscapes, Patrick’s paintings reshape our image of this Valley.
But last week when we were happily lapping lane by lane in the ACAC pool, we didn’t stop to talk about artwork, but about good news at the Sonoma Developmental Center, where Patrick worked for many years.
Yes, it’s soon time for the Butler oaks to display their spectacular autumn dress and wow us all with nature’s splendor. Patrick let me know about the tree replacement project underway right now along Arnold Drive, where those magnificent specimen trees don their autumn foliage to our delight.
Patrick reminded me that Sonoma resident Peggy McAleese’s father, Dr. Fred O. Butler, SDC superintendent from 1918 -1949, was responsible for those trees, hence eponymous moniker. Those East Coast native oaks have adapted beautifully to their new home, our hometown. As I recall, Peggy once told me that she was a teenager when those trees were first planted. Now? Well, Peggy isn’t a teen, neither are those venerable oaks.
During the past week, diseased trees were being replaced. And not just with meager seedlings. These are big trees, well on their way to maturity. Whoever is responsible for that decision, I personally and gratefully thank, including Peg, her Papa, and all the folks at the State Developmental Center for keeping that great Glen Ellen tradition alive: our beloved Butler oaks will continue to thrive, the young among the old, history blending with the future.
Speaking of trees, a couple of weeks back, I wrote about the redwood trees in the Blanchard’s back yard, referring to them as a grove. In truth, there are just a few of those magnificent trees at the Blanchard’s house. But, given history, even one redwood might be called The Ronald Reagan Memorial Grove. Of course that made B.J. Blanchard chuckle as she shared that her father who “lived his retirement years in a cathedral of redwood trees near Forestville” used to parody Reagan’s infamous, “If you’ve seen one redwood tree, you’ve seen them all” with “If you’ve seen one politician, you’ve seen them all.”
If truth be told, that long-remembered quote isn’t actually what Reagan said. His actual words were, “A tree is a tree. How many more do you have to look at?” But among us North Coast tree huggers, the message was clear and B.J.’s papa told it like it was, and like it is.
I began this column reminiscing on senses that stir one’s memory (ah yes, the sweet smell of wood smoke). I end here with a fragment of a poem from Dixie Willson that I used to share with my students back in the day. It’s best read aloud: I like the fall/? The mist and all/? I like the night owl’s lonely call/ And wailing sound?/ Of wind around.
Willson is a little-known writer, yet one of my favorites. There, I’m in good company; Tom Wolfe cites Willson as his inspiration to become a writer. If you want to indulge your longing for autumn poesy with all of Willson’s melodic verse, web search “The mist and all.” Then move on to Robert Frost’s “O Hushed October Morning Mild,” as you enjoy autumn in Glen Ellen.
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Share your good news with friends and neighbors in Glen Ellen. Call or write me at 996-5995 or P.O. Box 518, GE 95442. Or email me at email@example.com. Glen Ellen chatter rarely requires timeliness; however, if your news does, please be sure to contact me at least three weeks before the run date.