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GE optometrist is Hall of Famer, motorist showers flowers

for sylvia

Sylvia Crawford/Glen Ellen Columnist

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Optometrist’s optometrist eyes daffodils

Grand Glen Ellen congratulations to Glen Ellen neighbor and friend Dr. Darrell Carter. He was recently elected to the Optometry Hall of Fame at the University of California.

Darrell’s sweetie, Mary Kate, shared the news with me, all the while laughing about how tough it was to find the proper outfit for such an elegant affair in the Bay Area. The reception, award ceremony, and dinner were held at the University Club at the very top of Memorial Stadium with towering glass walls featuring views of the gleaming sunset across the bay.

Mary Kate said, “I knew what I should wear, I just didn’t want to get out of my usual Glen Ellen outfit of New Balance tennies and blue jeans.”

No doubt, she found the right fashion to proudly accompany Darrell to the event. He was an optometry professor at UC for 35 years, and then continued to teach part time. Highly respected among his colleagues, Darrell’s specialty was treating eye diseases with pharmaceuticals. He did innovative work in this field, later sharing his findings with his many students.

While I was talking to Mary Kate I told her how much I admired the bright daffodils that lined Arnold Drive on, above, and below their property. She smiled and said I needed to thank her good neighbors Jeanne and David Everidge, who live in the Glen Ellen Gatehouse. After filling their own yard with those blazing yellow harbingers of spring, they lined the road with extras. Good move, David and Jeanne. You make our village shine with the glory of spring, even before it arrives. We thank you. And suggest the same to other Glen Ellen gardeners.

Flower flinging fairy godmother

My friend Marsha Sheahan and her sweetie, Tom, shared one of my favorite stories left over from Valentine’s Day. Apparently, they were waiting in a long line of folks outside Sondra Bernstein’s Glen Ellen restaurant, Fig Cafe. The wait turned into a romantic Glen Ellen happening, thanks to a passing motorist. As the driver slowed the vehicle (I imagine a silver coach, though Marsha didn’t specify), this fairy godmother, a Valentine messenger, showered the crowd with bouquets of flowers … red and pink carnations, and white daisies, each a blessing of love.

Marsha and Tom said they were both thrilled to experience a little Glen Ellen magic.

Now, I can’t guarantee it, but it’s my guess that the cupid of Arnold Drive was most likely Tasha Jacobsen. It’s just the kind of trick she likes to play, making folks happy and sharing her bounty of flowers. And, if it wasn’t Tasha this time, she has done it before. Heads up, my fellow valentines!

The rest of the story

As for me, I knew about the flowers, but not because I was there to see them scattered. My sweetie and I spent Valentine’s Day in the most romantic place we can imagine, the ocean. Wandering the tide line along the roaring Sonoma Coast made our day memorable. With a thick, enshrouding fog obscuring the hills and a vivid bright sun on the water, the scene was dreamily romantic, slightly unreal and blessedly beautiful.

The next morning, still daydreaming, I stood in the back of our living room, a space I call the library, where bookshelf-lined walls embrace a tall, narrow window … Sweetie calls it the library window at the prow of Goodship Creekbottom. Glancing out the corner window, I caught a glimpse of the morning sun sparkling on Calabasas creek. There, snagged on a rock midstream, two flowers rested.

Snagged on a rock

Immediately, I began to make up a story about them. Employing dear Samuel Clemens’ formula for creative journalism, “a wholesale return of fancy for a minimum investment of fact,” I conjured up a fantasy of star-crossed lovers, caught in a turbulent whorl of water, marooned momentarily in safety, but fearfully awaiting the storm.

So much for my day-dreaming. Marsha and Tom’s story was simpler. And more true.

Nonetheless, the storm did come with lashing rains (for which, all but the marooned blooms, are thankful). Those balanced blossoms let loose their hold, and disappeared forever. I had admired their beauty and appreciated the reverie they provided. Now they were gone.

Art saves the day

But not entirely gone, not forever. The next day, our good neighbor, Mike Witkowski, sent an email of his latest photos, as he’s often apt to do. Since retiring from teaching, Mike has become a constant photographer and his images are often beautiful and awe-inspiring. We’ve been blessed with Mike’s artful photos of hawks in trees, otters in lakes, bubbles mimicking amphibian eggs and more. Oh so much more.

There, hidden midstream in one photo of this latest batch, were the flowers, my fellow travelers, my inspiration. Huh? Aren’t we all just marooned for a short stay as the wild world whirls around us? But there is always, we hope, the next rock. I like to think so.

If you read this column online, you just might be able to see Mike’s flowers. What story could you conjure from his fine photograph? If you are a former student of Mr. Mike, or even a former student of Mrs. Crawford, send me your story. From a short single paragraph to a multi-paged tome, we welcome your creative meanderings. (Ask your teacher if you’re not sure what that means.)

If you send me a story you’ll be acknowledged in this column and the best story will even win a little bit of Glen Ellen magic. What might that be? A surprise. Of little monetary value, but memorable enough, I hope. My email address and post office box number are at the end of this column. I’ll accept your stories in either venue.

Volunteer cheese heads meet Girl Scouts

Meanwhile back to my friends Marsha, Tom, Tasha and Mike. I could fill a whole column with tales of each of them. But here’s just a little taste. Marsha and Tom shared the flower-toss tale while sitting behind the desk at Sheana Davis’s Cheese Conference. They were volunteering their time, registering folks and greeting guests while my friends and I stood around, cheese samples in one fist, Girl Scout cookies in the other. Well, if truth be told, only the cookies were hand-held. Cheeses rested on a plate, though not for long. As for those cookies, they have apparently been provided at Sheana’s conference for the past four years, courtesy of Dunbar teacher, and Girl Scout Mom, Renea Magnani. Her busy little scouts must rake in the cash at that event. Their sugary cookies are a great antidote to the salty cheese … and vice-versa.

Meanwhile, my friends Marsha and Tom turn up at more fund-raising and educational events than I’d guess anyone could manage. They could easily be awarded as “volunteers of the year” by a passel of organizations. I’ve seen them at film festivals, community center events, ditto for Vintage House bridge games. But they’re not just there to enjoy the event; they’re working. I admire this method of meeting folks and making others feel welcome and happy. Thanks Sheahans!

Fashionistas Trashion Tasha and sister Charissa

As for Tasha, I heard recently that she’s entered the Trashion Fashion Show again this year, along with her sister Charissa Drengson, who’s a natural for this event. Charissa re-purposes clothing all the time, using others’ castaways to create beautiful fashions. I’m eager to see their entries this year.

Mr. Mike shoots moveable beast

Meanwhile good Mr. Mike continues to please friends and neighbors with his artistic photos. My favorites this year include all of his photos from a mid-winter birding trip to the Central Valley, along with his moving video of Bryan Tedrick’s moveable coyote. Bryan’s sculpture is, undoubtedly, a masterpiece, but for those of us unwilling to inhale the dust of Burning Man, Mike’s video brings it alive.

Boys cut teeth on slugs ’n’ bugs

As for other folks in the news this week, a Glen Ellen mom of two boys called me to share their good news. Regina and Richard Conkright are proud of their adult sons and have every reason to be. Both boys attended Dunbar, Altimira, and Sonoma Valley High School, while their dad worked with Gary Freeman at Sonoma Volkswagen in Glen Ellen, repairing a village full of slugs ’n’ bugs. Meanwhile, their mom, Regina, plied her skills as an actor, and a Dunbar volunteer, among many other jobs. But it’s her sons’ accomplishments as adults that I want to share.

The mechanic

Older son Damon Conkright works in Southern California as a professional supercross race mechanic. If you’ve ever watched those high-speed, tricky motorcycle races on ESPN, it’s talented mechanics like Damon who keep those machines on the track. Damon works with Team Teddar on the pro-circuit. While he learned mechanic skills with his dad, he has perfected his talents still further to become a world-class craftsman.

Regina says that Damon’s motto has always been, “Yes you can,” and he doesn’t allow failure. No doubt a good trait in his profession. When he’s not at the track, he’s happy at home with his lovely wife, Amity, and their 4-year-old son, Wyatt. Yes, of course, little Wyatt also happens to be Regina and Richard’s beloved grand baby.

And the soldier

As for Damon’s younger brother, Royce, he is presently deployed on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army. Regina is very proud of her son, but she also feels the emotional turmoil of having a son in the line of duty.

She deals with her anxieties by helping other Army wives and mothers. She’s a great listener and a thoughtful woman, making her a good confidant and friend to others.

Royce has, for the most part, had an excellent four years in service to our country. His initial assignment was in Bavaria, Germany, which is a beautiful place. Then he landed back in the U.S. at Fort Hood in Texas, before heading off to Afghanistan.

Dunbar days (back in the)

Many of my local readers will be familiar with the Conkright gentlemen. All three of them attended Dunbar and excelled in sports, enjoying track, football and baseball. Yes, even Papa Richard. Regina played baseball, too, but not at Dunbar.

Regina and I had a great time laughing together over slugs ’n’ bugs and lively boys.

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Slugs ’n’ bugs abounding

The slugs ’n’ bugs being Volkswagen vehicles, of course, buses and beetles. These days, Richard and Regina work together running a mobile auto repair business. Together, but separately. Regina says, “I’m the boss, and I take care of the business end. Richard is the mechanic. So he’s anywhere from Marin to Santa Rosa every day.” Regina says she’s very happy with her life in good old Glen Ellen, claiming it would be perfect if only she could bring the beach back to our town. I concur.

But hey, who knows. With climate change just around the corner, it may yet happen. Gurgle, gurgle. Like I said, those marooned flowers were just biding their time, so like the rest of us, beating on, boats against the current, in this little corner of paradise.

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Want to see your own name in the news? Share your stories with friends and neighbors in Glen Ellen. Call or write me at 707 996-5995 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.