Village Fair fun, artists on the ARTrail, Vogue and memories of prom
Just as I was ready to begin this column, thinking of it as the waning-of-September column, I realized it’s October. Oh dear, that big wheel keeps on turning. At the end of this column I’ll share one of my annual September joys, one that never fails to surprise my Sweetie and may even surprise you. If it’s not printed on this page, be sure to check the online version of the “The Folks in Glen Ellen” at www.sonomanews.com/lifestyle-History/.
So, welcome to October, my favorite month of the year. The mellow softness of our golden washed Valley is ripe and rich throughout October.
Romantic poet John Keats’ beautiful “Ode to Autumn,” penned Sept. 19, 1819, in honor of his beloved England, surely describes our Valley in October. It is said that he wrote this poem after an evening walk in the countryside near Winchester. It is believed to be the most anthologized of all English poems, so I know you’ll easily find it online. While this poem has sometimes been called a reflection on death; I find it, conversely, ripe with rich sensual imagery that describes life in all its bounty. Life as it is all around us, even today, even in Glen Ellen.
I also bet my Pollinator Pals, Ann Peden and Craig Scarborough, will love the lines Keats gives over to bees. Check it out.
2012 Glen Ellen Village Fair
The most important part of today’s column is for all the folks who want to participate in our annual Village Fair, a whoop-tee-do day of fun and games celebrating the splendor and bounty of our town.
Every year, the Glen Ellen Village Fair takes place on the second Sunday of October. This year’s FANtastic fair will be Oct. 14, beginning with the gala parade winding its way down Carquinez more or less at noon. At Arnold Drive, the marching folks veer left (as befits our Bohemian burg), then veering right (only momentarily) over the Sonoma Creek Bridge and ending shortly in front of the Glen Ellen Village Market. Our parade may be among the shortest, but no doubt, among the most exuberant. Small but fierce, we might say, echoing Hermia’s words.
Following the parade, the streets are open for roaming, shopping, eating, playing and visiting with friends, old and new.
If you want to participate in the fair, clip and save these contact numbers. Kids Alley: firstname.lastname@example.org or Shannon, 996-3352. Vendor booths: email@example.com or Leslie, 935-9163. Quilters: firstname.lastname@example.org or Lisa, 996-9305. Parade: email@example.com or Trina, 935-9030. General information and T-shirts: firstname.lastname@example.org or Leslie, 935-9163. You can also visit the fair site on Facebook at Glen Ellen Village Fair.
Longest short parade
While I haven’t heard much news about who will or won’t be in the parade this year, I have caught a few bits of gossip. Among the fancy vehicles, we’re looking forward to Stefan Szabo’s FANtastic 1952 Bentley. He’s been working on that car off and on for a dozen years, and it’s ready for our fair now. Be sure to wave at Stefan’s nephews, riding along in their first-ever Glen Ellen Village Fair parade.
We also expect to see Natasha Drengson and her madcap troupe of friends and family. Whenever I’m not marching elsewhere I like to join these FANtastic ladies and their wild get-ups. Expect something wonderful, as ever, from them.
As for the elsewhere, I’ll be marching along with my Bouverie Preserve friends, so give us a holler and hoot as we pass by. The preserve will also have a booth set up with information after the parade. I recently learned that the docent council president of the past year, Diana Sanson, first learned about the preserve at our Glen Ellen Village Fair some years ago. It’s turned out to be a place she loves. Stop by their booth and find out about next fall’s docent training classes with leaders Carol Wood and Richard Wasson.
The grand marshals for this year’s parade were recently announced on Ken Brown’s radio show. Congratulations to recently retired Dunbar School teachers, including Sandi Everett, Mike Witkowski, Sandy Lane, Linda Steinberg, Melissa Gossett and (posthumously) Kathy Krempely. We love the good folks from our local school and are happy to honor them.
Mini donuts, paper Cohens,
The list of vendors and nonprofit organizations at this year’s fair numbers around 70 with some hometown favorites returning.
We’ll have lots of good food, including special treats like Harvey and Georgia Cohen’s cranking donut factory creating those delicious mini-delights, plopped into paper cones and devoured while still warm. Dyani Bachelder will be on hand as Balloonatrix creating balloon animals, hats and toys, as well as face painting.
The center of the fair is always the music stage with hay bales set around for relaxing between eating and dancing. Matthew Dickey has been coordinating and leading the entertainment portion of the Glen Ellen Village Fair for many years. In fact, the president of the fair board, Leslie Vaughn says, YEARS! Shouting it in all caps. He’s done an extraordinary job and the entire fair committee is grateful to him.
Traffic Jam with Solcats, Cork Pullers and Little Red Truck
This year’s lineup of musical entertainment includes the Solcats setting the stage with a little jazz, rock and reggae. They are followed by the Cork Pullers, rocking with Americana oldies. Next up is Little Red Truck with their toe tapping, dance ready country tunes.
We wonder if that group is of part of Fred and Nancy Cline’s wine brand, which we thought had been sold. Sunday’s party will reveal their identity. The music ends with Traffic Jam, hot off their recent win at the Sonoma County Fair Battle of the Teen Bands.
Lush velvets, bright colors
The day ends with the quilt raffle drawing where one lucky winner will walk away with the most FANtastic coverlet ever. Lush velvets and bright colors will warm you through the winter with good memories of this year’s fair. It takes only one ticket to win, but I suggest buying a fistful on the day of the fair. My friend Beth-Marie Deenihan, who won last year’s prize quilt, promised not to buy a ticket this year. But I begged her to buy one for me, trusting in her luck, again. Lisa Hardy will also be peddling tickets Oct. 6 outside the Glen Ellen Village Market, so hedge your bets and buy some both days. It’s not wasted money, even if you don’t win. All profits from the fair go to support various Glen Ellen community groups from Dunbar School to our volunteer fire department and more.
Corvid family cleans up
Among the neighborly guests at this year’s town fair will no doubt be the corvid family. We’ve watched them lately pecking cherry plums from our trees with choreographed delicacy. As they balance and sway on thinly bending branches, neatly plucking plums, I admire their agility as much as their intelligence. Wherever people gather, the corvids are not far behind. If you stay around to clean up after the fair, look up at the criss-crossing power lines. That’s where you’ll find our jet-black friends, hunting among the debris for tasty leftovers.
Music and film at Jack London State Historic Park
While most of today’s news is about our Oct. 14 fair, that isn’t all that’s happening in our happening town. Anne Abrams sent good news about this Saturday, Oct. 6, when Charmian London’s House of Happy Walls will be alive with the sound of music. From 4 to 6:30 p.m., the Jack London Piano Club presents its next concert. Club pianists performing include Pat Bonnoitt, John Dinwiddie, Jud Goodrich, Mae Lucas, Jack Power, Alexia Stevens, Nancy Watson, Carol Wilcoxson and Jim Wittes. They will be playing an eclectic selection of music with vocalist DeAnne Reeder singing Jack London’s favorite song, “Recompense,” followed by Charmain's favorite song, “In the Valley of the Moon.”
Refreshments will be served on the portico at intermission. Tickets are $20, and are available online at www.jacklondonpark.com. Performance space can be reached by stairway only; for more information about access call 938-4827.
Grand piano resurrected
Each piano concert is performed on the 1901 Steinway grand piano purchased by Jack London in 1910 for his wife, Charmian. She was an accomplished pianist and played the piano throughout her lifetime. The Model A Steinway grand piano sat silent after Charmain London died in 1955 until 1988 when park Rangers Greg Hayes and Matt Atkinson decided it should be played again. Park volunteer Leslie Goodrich suggested her husband, Jud, launch the Jack London Piano Club. Martin Andrews, a Steinway technician, tuned and upgraded the piano and it is now a well-maintained magnificent instrument. Beginning with a core group of five volunteer pianists, the club has flourished and now has 25 pianists who regularly provide musical entertainment for visitors to the museum in the House of Happy Walls every Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
‘Yukon Fever’ in the ruins
Last weekend at the Jack London Park’s Movie Night Under the Stars, “Yukon Fever” was preceded by a mellow concert from Glen Ellen songwriter and guitarist Jeff Falconer. Here’s how Jaydub described the scene: “Just picture it: There you are, at dusk on a perfect fall evening, nestled in the ruins of an 1880s winery. You have your lawn chair and blanket, your picnic dinner and favorite libations, and your extra layer of warm clothes, just in case. On the knoll just to your left sits the historic cottage where Jack London lived and wrote. In front of you, the soft glow of sunset highlights the majestic east slope of Sonoma Mountain, with its cascading groves of redwood, fir, and oak, inset with lush vineyards and golden meadows. While you feast your eyes and feed your bod, you’re serenaded by the dulcet tones of your humble correspondent, Jeff Falconer. As darkness falls and the stars twinkle, the movie screen comes to life. What’s playing? Why, it’s “Yukon Fever” with Rod Steiger, Angie Dickinson and Lorne Greene. What’s not to like?”
ARTrails in Sonoma Valley
The same weekend as our fair, ARTrails also opens in Sonoma Valley. ARTrails is a free self-guided studio tour, taking place on two weekends: Oct. 13 to 14 and 20 to 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Since you’ll want to park and be ready for the parade on Sunday, Oct. 14, I suggest you visit the artists on Saturday or the final weekend of their open studios.
Among the artists I’m looking forward to watching are three in Glen Ellen, one in Kenwood and a couple of my favorite artists in Sonoma. To locate all of these open studios on ARTrails, visit sonomaarts.com/arttrails/where you can download a brochure with maps.
Vessels of the soul
First in Glen Ellen just off Sonoma Highway is Erika Schmitt who creates amazingly complex pieces of jewelry from found items. She also creates mixed media pieces that reflect her “passion for figurative images and shapes.” Her exquisitely fashioned pieces are built of layers of many materials and are inspired by “poetry, legend and emotion.” She calls them vessels of the soul and that is the name of her website. Erika and her art pieces were featured in the winter 2011 issue of SONOMA magazine. Be sure to visit her open studio. I will.
Erika’s nearby neighbor, former Dunbar School teacher Sandy Lane paints figurative, landscape and abstract imagery that incites the imagination in her studio on Cavedale. Sandy’s paintings are moody and evocative, inspiring the viewer to create the story. They are not narrative paintings, but entirely painterly in form and abstraction.
Christine MacDonald is another painter on Cavedale Road who uses oils to create images of raptors, figures and landscapes. Those who love horses will enjoy her dramatic, abstract images of horses in movement and repose. The power and mystery of our equine friends is beautifully portrayed. Christine also explores the grace and movement of dancers in a series of works that feature lithe bodies, alive with movement. Of her artwork, Christine says, “Painting, for me, is an ongoing search between the known and unknown, seen and unseen. Whether it is of a bird in flight, or a figure moving or focused in stillness, my hope is that there will be a moment when a spark of life occurs.”
Kenwood’s blue plate special
Porcelain and stoneware artists Ray and Judy Watten create functional and decorative pieces for home and garden at their studio on Maple Avenue in Kenwood.
Leaves and flowers, wax pencil and watercolor
Finally, in Sonoma, I suggest visiting the studios of Joanne Monks and Irene Guidici Ehret along with other artists. Joanne’s studio is on Fourth Street West where she uses waxed based pencil to capture the essence of nature in leaves and flowers. Irene, on East Walnut, creates scenes of nature and botanical art in watercolor.
As for that annual September joy which I mentioned at the beginning of this column … that would be the annual September issue of Vogue magazine. Who would have thought this lumpen, middle-aged matron best known for frumpy dressing would be a Vogue lover? Not my Sweetie, who some Septembers must feel plagued as I repeatedly request, “Look, look at this – do you think I could wear this to the opera?”
I’ve been buying just that one issue of America’s premiere fashion magazine each year since I was a teenager. Mom and I enjoyed perusing the pages together, imaging the world where we would dress so elegantly.
Throughout most of my childhood, my mother made many of my clothes. When I was 14 and the only freshman girl at the high school prom in a homemade gown I was embarrassed. Looking back on that now, why did I ever imagine that I was the only one in a mother-created dress? Even still, who had a creation as delightful as my satin and buttercup-hued tulle, all fluff and dreaminess?
By the time I was a high school senior, I adored Mama’s creativity and style, feeling city-sophisticated in a black lace slip dress that she’d fashioned from one of her own abandoned 1940’s party dresses. Even when my friends made fun of me, I was proud that Mom had used James Galanos as her guide in creating a sensational wisp of lace and satin, short and sassy, all thanks to the beautiful photographs in Vogue.
I still love my yearly Vogue. This recent September issue was almost too heavy to read in bed. The three-inch thick glossy pages weighed more than most large hardback novels. Yet, ahhh, the joy of perusing those pages. I spent hours examining the latest in Paris runway prizes. All the while, listening to Michael Michelis’ tape of Paris street music, purchased by my Sweetie at a recent Glen Ellen Farmer’s Market.
While my days of haute couture are gone, the communion with my mother remains strong. With each page I turned, I imagined we were once again together, planning the next party frock. Sweet dreams.
Nothing Jeff; we loved it and we applaud you for rosy prose, good songs, soothing strumming and especially for supporting our beloved Jack London.
See you at the Glen Ellen Village Fair on Oct. 14.
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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. Please be sure to contact me at least three weeks before the run date.