Enjoying a ‘rosy fingered dawn; a visit from a big cat

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Sylvia Crawford/Glen Ellen Columnist


Last week I experienced a phenomenon that I’ve been waiting to see for a lifetime. Rising around 6 a.m., I watched Homer’s proverbial “rosy-fingered dawn” fill the eastern sky with an array of colors not unlike the Peace Rose.

From sweetest pale pink of a rosy glimmer to a glorious golden yellow glow, the morning sky was alive with hues invigorating. I sat for a spell in my corner window chair taking in the lovely scene surrounding me. Finally, and ever-so-subtly, the light shifted, and a blazing clear autumn blue overtook the sky, drowning out the delicate pastels of the short-lived rosy-fingered dawn. I thank Homer and his adventurous Odysseus for alerting me to the possibility of such glorious morning light. Life in this beloved Valley is surely a blessing, no less than the Odyssey’s mythical world.

Collin’s cat

A little excitement ensued last week on O’Donnell Lane (in the center of Glen Ellen) when high school student Collin Kemp went out to his car around 5:30 p.m. There, by the driver’s side, stood a mountain lion. Collin managed to beep his horn a few times (using the electronic key, I suppose) and, in a barely perceptible tawny flash, the lion vanished into the creekside brush.

My Sweetie was just headed out to his workshop about that time and heard some large creature moving through the bamboo at the edge of our yard. He claims he never thinks about mountain lions (though I certainly do, with respect and admiration … mingled with a fair amount of due fear), at least not while crossing our yard (he clarifies), but the sound in the bamboo was not quite like a deer.

Right then it occurred to him that there was a huge cat nearby. He paused a moment before dismissing the thought. A few hours later, we heard Collin’s story, and he thought again. We kept the two Lappies in that night.

As it happens, the project Bill was working on in the shop were dog shelters. Now that Sweetie is finished, the dogs occupy two matched houses (one features a fierce wolf medallion at the roof peak, fashioned by Schuyler as a young scout; the other sports a shining heart, as befits its resident). We hope this keep Sisu and Karhu, and us, safe.

Hills are alive with

the sounds of music

When home is a narrow Valley surrounded by the Mayacamas to the east, and the Sonoma Mountains to the west, mountains take on more importance than the Valley floor.

And why not? Our hills are mostly populated with indigenous fauna and flora while the Valley is choked with vines. I prefer to lift up mine eyes and elevate my soul. My soul is also elevated by the beautiful music that resounds throughout this region.

A musical message of peace and love

Grammy nominee, and 11th-generation Sham Chauvasi Ghavana singer, Sukhawat Ali Khan of Glen Ellen recently received the Rumi World Music Achievement Award for his recordings and performances. The World Music site features his new recording of the 1972 Bollywood classic “Chingari.” The Glen Ellen Sufi vocalist records on Casa Ganesh Records using traditional techniques blended with a distinct California (even Glen Ellen I’d say) flavor. This blend imbues his songs with a mystical nature-praising aura that makes them tenderly prayerful, yet musically approachable.

The video that accompanies this award-winning song shows Ali Khan in a lively and mesmerizing number that highlights his lithe and graceful dancing.

His fluid movements call forth the four essential elements: fire, first from sunlight, then in a blazing beach bonfire; water, first through misty forests, then to a roiling ocean; air and earth, too, play prominent parts creating a whole that is a prayerful meditation on the harmonious forces bringing peace and love into our lives. You can see Ali Khan’s video on the Casa Ganesha records website.

Ali Khan is talented musician who works with a world music fusion band, Mirchalya.

Last year, on an evening visit to Marsha and Pat Moran’s Henno Road bungalow, Ali Khan and his partner, Sachiko Kanenobu (a famous Japanese pop singer of the ’70s, now a Glen Ellen neighbor) gave a little concert. Ali Khan sang for us and played the harmonium, a beautiful wooden box instrument with a keyboard and bellows. The music was enchanting and Ali’s performance was intriguing. While Ali’s songs were in Hindi and Bengali (I think), he interpreted each one, gently weaving the stories along with his song; all in all, a memorable evening.

Precious tape needs copying

Meanwhile, Sachiko is looking for someone with musical engineering experience to help her. As a Japanese pop star of the ’70s Sachiko travelled the world. One of her stops was in Cologne, Germany, where she was interviewed by Allen Banks and sang a few songs for German radio.

Recently a German friend sent Sachiko a recording she made of that interview and short concert. Sachiko said, “I was … whoa,” indicating that she was amazed by the singing of the young woman she once was. “I was a fearless woman of powerful rock and roll.”

A current Japanese singer, Miwako Yuge, has been recording some of Sachiko’s early songs. Now Sachiko is eager to send her a copy of the German tape. Perchance, one of my readers could guide her to someone local who can help with that project. If you are a recording artist and can help Sachiko make a copy of the tape, please give her a call at 938-3299.

Jazzy music charms local dogs

Meanwhile, I’ve been entertained lately listening to the group Somebody Else’s Nightmare’s new CD, “Strength and Kindness” by Joe Holiday and friends. Joe wrote all the songs, arranged the music and produced the album. It’s a jazzy, easy-listening album that provides just the Autumnal background I need to keep my thoughts from drifting too far afield.

My favorite song of the bunch is the gentle, new-age rap “The Light Will Show the Way,” and, indeed, it does. Another special cut “Lonely Town” has a classic, good sound with a memorable melody.

Though invited, Sweetie and I were out of town when Joe Holiday and his friends held their CD release party at the Annex Wine Bar in Sonoma. Had we been around, we definitely would have attended. Among the performers was one of my long-ago Catholic school students. Alex Garcia has grown into a masterly musician who plays with many local groups.

Joe Holiday is an eccentric and talented fellow whose heart is devoted to music of all kinds. What little time Joe has left from his musical pursuits, he’s busy with dogs.

All kinds of dogs, beginning with his beloved lappie (that is, a Finnish lapphund), Jocko, who is slowly learning that his world revolves around Joe. But Jocko is rarely the only canine at Joe’s house.

He runs a doggie BandB that is popular with many local folks. Joe’s intention, as I understand, was to have his doggie daycare in Glen Ellen in Earl and Anne Warren’s little snug house (which for many years after Earl’s, then Anne’s, deaths, was Roseann’s haircutting place). Alas, something went awry and Joe didn’t end up around the corner, but somewhere south of Glen Ellen.

The folks and their canine friends who avail themselves of Joe’s services talk about him with glowing praise. It’s pretty clear that Joe loves dogs and the affection is readily returned.

A regular on TV shows back then

Joe has an interesting history and I’ll just give a few teasers here; it’s best to get the whole story from him. As a kid, beginning at the tender age of 7 or so, Joe Holiday was a regular on television shows ranging from Roy Rodgers and Dale Evans Variety Show, to the famous Art Linkletter Show. He’s travelled around the world, played much music along the way, and is now happily ensconced on the edge of Sonoma, not too far from Glen Ellen, the happiest little village in these parts.

Cavalcade of Howls

Last Thursday, Sweetie and I trotted down to Sonoma town to take in the Cavalcade of Howls, a song-writers performance featuring Jeff Falconer and Jon Williams, two of my favorite local musicians.

What talent packed into one little room that night. It wasn’t just Jeff and Jon, but other folks as well, including a couple from Marin who had us all howling over their original piece, “I’ll never ride the bus in L.A. again.” Then Jon’s mom, Judy Williams, entertained us with a couple of old favorites, including “Mountain Dew,” which had us all singing along, as Judy requested. For such a tiny snip of a lady, Judy has a powerful good voice.

But it was Jeff and Jon who drew us to Sonoma. Jeff opened the show with a favorite, “Love is transitory; friendship is an art,” and oh yes, so true that is.

The bar at Murphy’s is not an ideal venue for these intimate performances where two songwriters come to exhort and enlighten us with their poetry. I wish that Murphy’s performance space, the Snug, had been opened for this important event. Maybe, next time.

Nonetheless, it was great; an evening of rousing, moving, family entertainment that is uniquely local and heartfelt. I laughed with John’s “Shake ya booty like you should,” and sang along with Jeff’s, “Act like you care.” Both of these gentle men are excellent performers and gifted song writers. It was a joy to join them.

Among the audience were beautiful Catherine Del Chiaro, good neighbor Suzy Wulff, Kenwood folks Ron and Judy Williams, Jeff Dreyer, Gregg Montgomery (of the Glen Ellen Historical Society) and many other folks.

Jeff intends to take this song-writing gig on the road. Look for him and his fellow performers around and about Sonoma.

Along with Jeff and Jon, two of my other favorite song writers and performers are Garen Patterson and Deirdre Egan who have performed recently at Sheana Davis’ Epicurean Cafe. They, too, are worth the trek to town. See you there, amid poets of song and word.

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The Folks in Glen Ellen column also appears online. 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.