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Awesome hail storm, judging senior projects

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Sylvia Crawford/Glen Ellen Columnist

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Raining marbles

Before I share stories of our friends and neighbors, I can’t resist mentioning spring. The wow – what a spring, it is. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting old and can’t really remember, but I’ve rarely experienced such a beautiful season in Glen Ellen. The clouds are right out of a Constable or Ruisdael painting, and the rolling green hills are what have inspired GE artist, Patrick McMurtry. The bountiful fields of wildflowers are like those that Monet treasured in Argenteuil. While the creeks babble their gentle call, squabbling jays herald the glory of nature.

Last week’s hail storm was awesome. I was sitting with my fellow Bouverie board members under the new red metal roof of Gilman Hall when the hail erupted. The thrilling cacophony drowned out voices. The storm featured hail stones “the size of marbles,” as one young student shared, just back from a Bouverie hike with his school chums from Santa Rosa. The children and their hardy docents all arrived back at Gilman Hall, somewhat wet, but none the worse for wear. Most were sporting ponchos that wise docents keep on hand. I’m confident that those students will long remember their adventurous day at the Bouverie, with slippery trails all the way home to the hall.

Graduating students help beginning students

Former Dunbar student Alixya Soto-Pomeroy is now a senior at Sonoma Valley High School. She and her friend Isabella Valdez have been working this year with the K-2 special education class at Dunbar, with the help of the teacher (and their mentor) Norma Yukich.

As Alixya shares, “We visited the class on several occasions and did fun and challenging projects with the students,” while noting, “As a former Dunbar student, it was fun to go back and help at the school.”

The girls have planned an art show of their students’ work to coincide with the annual Easter Egg Hunt held at Dunbar School, which happens on Saturday, April 19, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. We applaud the efforts of Alixya and Isabella and the special ed class, and are looking forward to seeing their projects.

The students’ artwork will be set up in the area near the solar panels, which provide a nice area of shade even on the sunniest day. Donations will be given to the Special Education Program at Dunbar School.

Senior projects abounding

Meanwhile, I received an email from Holly Kyle inviting me to participate again this year in the senior project judging at Sonoma Valley High School. Although I’ve had many friends doing this for some years, I’d always been busy on that date. Last year was my first chance to experience the senior projects. I was suitably impressed.

The students I judged put their hearts and souls, hard work, and heroic efforts into their projects. While their presentations varied from fair to excellent, I was impressed with how even the most apparently shy or nervous student did well in presenting a project they cared about.

Holly invites not just me, but any community adult to help judge senior projects. She’s looking for 350 to 400 volunteers this year. If you are fluent in Spanish, all the better.

Senior project presentations take place on Tuesday, May 13 from 5 to 7:30 p.m., with refreshments and check-in beginning at 3:30 p.m. My only complaint, and rather minor at that, last year’s signage was inadequate for folks unfamiliar with the high school campus. I had to wander a bit before finding where I belonged.

May I suggest that a few of Annie Falandes art students design a map to guide us? To join with your fellow citizens in judging the senior projects, call Holly now at 938-5958, or email her at holly@sckyle.com. She’ll follow up with specific information about a week before the presentations.

Animal house opens doors

This coming Saturday, April 12, our Glen Ellen Veterinary Hospital will be holding an open house from 9 a.m. to noon. Drs. Nichole and David Brooks, the new docs at the Veterinary Hospital, will be there to greet all guests, as will their assistant, homegrown Glen Ellen gal, Nicole Dunham. Offering treats for animals and their people, raffle prizes for families, the office welcomes all canines and their families to their offices at 13700 Arnold Drive.

As a special treat, Pam Wagner is back in the office for just a month. She’ll be happy to visit with you at the open house and share her adventures in North Carolina where she and Bob have settled. Of course, they miss their dear friends in the Sonoma Valley, but are finding many new friends in beautiful Pinehurst. However, we doubt that Pam has found a suitable karaoke partner to replace her dear friend Lori LaFlores, but you might ask … or even request a song to prove it. We doubt Pam will comply, but we bet she will laugh, which every bit as good.

Music and song at Woman’s Club

If you enjoy joyful singing, I’ve got a recommendation for you. I received an email recently from Shelley Richey, the Vox Populi member with the biggest, best smile – always. I have never seen Shelley be grumpy or down; even better, she lifts everyone’s spirits, mine especially. I gotta love her for that. You can bet the dear women at the Sonoma Valley Woman’s Club love her, too. She’s become their most ardent supporter and fund-raiser.

Shelley recently asked me if I’d write about the next Woman’s Club fundraiser that she’s organizing. The event is a concert called “Voices in My Head,” featuring some of the top male musicians in Sonoma Valley. “OK, Shelley,” I responded, “but what does it have to do with Glen Ellen?”

Turns out lots. Within a short few minutes, Shelley wrote back with a whole list of Glen Ellen connections for the cool guys performing “Voices in My Head,” It’s going to be a rockin’ vocal concert and dance, featuring our friends and neighbors in Glen Ellen.

Chris Espenlaub, a snazzy singer, was once a psychiatric technician at SDC, which he says, “was still called Sonoma State Hospital” when he started. Chris is an accomplished musician, plus simply an all around good guy performing for years with Vox Pop.

As a now-retired psych tech, Chris worked at SDC from 1976 to 2009. From the early ’90s until retirement he worked in the off-residence vocational program as a trainer.

He says, “Shortly after I began working at SDC, I moved to Glen Ellen for the first time, renting from Marge Everidge on O’Donnell Lane for about a year. Over the years, I rented four other times in the Glen Ellen area, my last stay ending in 2009,” noting that I may know two of his other landlords, Sue Braito and Vivian Swanson. I certainly do know all these good neighbors.

Then Chris goes on to tell me, “Gregg Montgomery and I first met in the late ’80s at work when he was still a psych tech in the vocational program and I was working on a residential unit. For a time in the early ’90s we both worked as vocational supervisors. Cliff Zyskowski, (another member of the group) was there at that time, too, in the same capacity.”

Gregg Montgomery is another fantastic featured performer in this fund-raising concert. He worked at SDC from 1971 to 2011 (40 great years) as a psychiatric technician and an assistive technology specialist. Gregg has been featured in several past Index-Tribune articles and honored by his colleagues for his creative approach assisting SDC clients in mobility by inventing machines specifically for each client.

In addition, Gregg is currently on the board of directors of the Glen Ellen Historical Society. For five very happy years, Gregg also lived in our town. His stories about those years at Londonside are fascinating and paint a picture of a time when Glen Ellen was a quite different town than it is now. You can find Gregg’s tales on the Glen Ellen Historical Society website.

So thanks to Ed, Shelley and the rest of the folks from Vox Populi, your Glen Ellen credentials are are good – impressive, even.

So now, without hesitation I can give a shout-out to my dear neighbors and friends who read this column: Join me on Saturday, April 12 from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the historic Sonoma Valley Woman’s Club, 574 First St. E., in downtown Sonoma for “Voices in My Head,” a concert and dance by some of the male singers of Vox Populi, Sonoma’s rock and roll chorus, led by maestro Mark Dennis. Tickets are on sale at Heidi Geffen’s popular Sonoma treasure house, Tiddle-E-Winks. Or call 939-6933 or 322-5273 to reserve your tickets. Your ticket price will help support improvements at the Sonoma Woman’s Club.

Plus, you’ll have a rockin’ good time, with flavors of the old Londonside alive and well in Sonomatown today.

Fearless at Cinema Numina

If by any chance, you aren’t up to kicking up your heels and dancing, I have another, somewhat quieter suggestion for Saturday evening, April 12. Though a less active evening, it will certainly be thrilling in its own way.

Glen Ellen resident, neighbor and film expert, Terry Ebinger will be presenting “Fearless,” a fascinating film that explores “soul loss and retrieval, self forgiveness and the search for meaning in the ashes of a life undone,” Terry shares.

She claims, and I thoroughly concur, “Fearless” is “a hidden gem, not to be missed.” Jeff Bridges stars in this 1993 film by Peter Weir. Rosie Perez, Oscar-nominated co-star plays a poignant survivor. Bridges’ thrillingly unbalanced walk on the edge of a skyscraper is worth the price of admission alone.

Terry follows the film with an intensive and thoughtful discussion of themes and philosophies. “Fearless” will be shown at Santa Rosa’s Cinema Numina, 550 Mendocino Ave., at Cherry Street, in the quaint, historic chapel of the Church of the Incarnation.

Jack London Book Club

Fellow Bouverie docent and Jack London scholar, Susan Nuernberg recently held the first Jack London Book Club meeting at the park on a pleasant Friday afternoon. I was engaged with the new vets in town, Nichole and David Brooks, and so missed the book club meeting. I want to share Susan’s news about the first book club meeting and note their next gathering. You won’t want to miss that, on May 16, from 2 to 4 p.m., featuring London’s autobiographical “John Barleycorn.” Here’s Susan’s recap of the first meeting, “The Jack London park is now sponsoring discussion-led workshops on London’s writings, which started last Friday and focused on his autobiographical novel, “Martin Eden.” With over 30 self-identified London aficionados (including some docents at the park), the conversation ranged from thought-provoking to down-right insightful.”

While Susan is a noted scholar, she is also a great group leader. Two of my friends who attended the meeting raved about the insights they gained through Susan’s carefully led discussion. I hope to see you all at the next meeting. London’s book about the lure and danger of demon alcohol can’t help but be fascinating, especially in this Valley ripe with grapes. While it’s an adjunct to fine meals for some, it can be a dreaded tumble for others. Let’s see what Jack’s cautionary tale has to share.

Two legs good, Four legs better

In a column soon, I will have praises to sing of Rob and Robin Lyons and all of the folks of Pets Lifeline. But, those tales will wait for another week, maybe slow news day. Meanwhile, I’ll just hint that the two Finns, Karhu (meaning bear in Finnish, my Mama’s native language) and Sisu (meaning courage, and a whole lot more, in Finnish) are great fans and loyal friends of Pets Lifeline, as well as Dr. Nichole Brooks. As for Humphrey, the bi-humped bactrian of Lyon Ranch, he loves carrots. And, as the American Lung Association suggests, “He’s the only camel who will touch my lips.”

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The Folks in Glen Ellen column also appears online. Look for it at www.sonomanews.com/Life-History. Or look for my name, way at the bottom on the home page at sonomanews.com. Want to see your own name in the news? Share your stories 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 Creekbottom@earthlink.net. Glen Ellen chatter rarely requires timeliness; however, if your news does, please be sure to contact me at least two weeks before your desired publication date.