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Historical Society retreat, photos in Jack London Village

Sylvia Crawford/Glen Ellen Columnist

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Historical retreat

This Saturday, Jan. 18, the good folks of our Glen Ellen Historical Society hold their annual retreat. They’ll be looking at plans for this new year, unfolding now. You don’t need to be a member of the board to attend their daylong event. It begins at 10 a.m. continuing into late afternoon. Only current board members can vote, but everyone can contribute ideas and enthusiasm. Mayflower Hall, in the heart of our village, at 5311 O’Donnell Lane, is the place. You’ll be welcomed by board members Arthur Dawson, president; Archie Horton, vice president; Angela Nardo-Morgan, secretary; Mary Kate Carter, treasurer; Charles Mikulik, cultural resource officer; and members at large Marge Everidge, Anne Teller, Phyllis Heppe, Steve Lee, Jim Berkland, Gregg Montgomery, and Pat Carlin. Emeritus members, always honored, may also attend (if not in person, always in spirit); they include, Dorothy Johnson, Pat Mazzini, and Bob Glotzbach. See you there.

Forward to the past

Recently a few members of the Glen Ellen Historical Society completed a gorgeous gallery of historic photos lining the corridor of the main building at Jack London Village. Find the photos in the hallway adjacent to Yeti and leading to Olive and Vine.

The project was funded by a grant from the Sonoma County Landmarks Commission. Jim Shere wrote the grant, then Don Ponte, local artist, designed and built the display panels and mounted the photographs. Further help was provided by artist Archie Horton and woodworker Michael Everidge. David and Maria Shere did the coding and design for the society’s website. Each display includes small narrative plaques with QR codes (a sort of hyped bar code so that you can access detailed information via your smart phone while visiting the displays). I love this novel juxtaposition of technology enhancing history. Bravo to the Glen Ellen Historical Society for forward thinking while honoring our past.

Taking a celebreak

My personal hustle and bustle of family festivities surrounding the holidays seems to have slowed (and believe me, in our extended clan, tribe, sept and settle, celebrations abound, unbound by any specific religion or nation). As I gaze across my cluttered desktop (which also serves as the dining room table), I see a couple of Michael Chabon’s novels which await my reading (either I read them now or devise another round of excuses to my beloved book club friends who might be tempted to boot a lack-luster reader, as it seems I seasonally become). Next to those two tomes is a pile of old New Yorkers. Not merely members of my sweetie’s side of the family (as a friend once joked to me as I explained that old New Yorkers were piling up in my bedroom). It’s just magazines. But magazines that I love curling up with by a warm fire, especially as these days remain oddly cold, and even more oddly dry.

Young visitor recalls old Glen Ellen

Today, foregoing the need to tackle column subjects, I promised myself that I would tackle the pile of New Yorkers, I would enjoy the fire, and I would do little else. But one doesn’t always get what one wants, but one does get what one needs (so says old Mick, that dancing fool). What I needed were several visits from old friends, which I thoroughly enjoyed, even if it delayed my quota of reading for that day.

Among those visitors was my dear, young friend Jeff Smith. Well, I suppose it might be a bit of exaggeration to say that Jeff is young … but you know how it is with us old folks: once you know someone in their youth, they always retain a certain air of youth no matter how much time elapses. Jeff is certainly in that category.

Sweetie and I first met Jeff when he was a just barely a teen, a sweet, bushy blond kid, who lived just up the street. As I got to know him, I employed Jeff for various household duties: he walked our wild and mangy black lab a lot, which was a great gift to me. He also helped us with various yard tasks. Back in the day, I loved to push my manual mower around the yard much of the time, but not always. Ditto for raking leaves. Jeff always seemed to come around just when I needed him. I still appreciate Jeff and though I don’t see him as often now, I always enjoy a sweet nostalgic talk with him.

Sometimes Jeff and I reminisce about Trinity County, where Jeff lived for many years and where my parents’ summer home is. Other times, it’s all Glen Ellen. Last week we even discussed the pain and joy of knee surgery. Jeff’s visit brightened my day even as it delayed my reading. My book club friends are patient and understanding, and so they will accept my heartfelt excuse for not reading.

Cookies, toffees, fruitcakes abounding

We’ve also had visits from long time friends. Lee Schein (who always comes bearing the gift of her elegant, low fat, low-sugar cookies), then Judy Laursen, who’s as much a longtime friend as one can have (reaching back more than five decades). Jude and I rattled over plenty of old territory, discussing wild times and indiscretions long in the past. But we quickly arrive at discussing the present, which is every bit as interesting as the wild past: yes, calmer, but nonetheless engaging.

Ann Peden visited for dinner, nursing a broken arm, bruised face and blackened eye, with a thrilling cautionary tale about minding one’s footing while racing around doing garden tasks. Though thrown for a bit of a bummer, Ann was up and about quickly.

Margie Foster stopped by with Greg and Cherry Hastings, who long ago left bone-dry Glen Ellen for the fogs and damps of Whidbey Island, and we shared tea and Margie’s homemade toffee. Then, as that supply dwindled, Margie Everidge knocked at the door proffering fruitcake. This is a dangerous neighborhood if one is attempting to avoid sweets, which I’m not necessarily doing, even knowing I should.

Old New Yorkers

Visitors have been plenty, but quiet days do occur, blessedly. And that leads me back to my ever-growing pile of unread New Yorkers.

I mention them because I want to alert my readers to a short story that is eerily Sonoma Valley. It’s in the Dec. 16, 2013, issue, the one with dear, courageous Mandela on the cover. If your issue ended up in recycling before you could complete it (as ours sometimes does; and boy, do I fret then), I’m sure you can still get it at the Sonoma Valley Library.

The story I recommend is “Coming Soon,” by Steven Millhauser. Prescient? Let’s hope Millhauser isn’t, at least not concerning our Valley. As for other articles that grabbed my attention, the first of a two-part geology essay by Elizabeth Kolbert, “Annals of Extinction” is another compelling read.

Part two is in the issue following. Not meant to cheer you, it will send you off on an apocalyptic fantasy about catastrophic collapses. On the other hand, maybe reading can wait while I attend to my laundry.

Hanging out

On the advice of neighbor, friend and singer Jane Joost, I spent a little time hanging laundry on my outside line this week. I do it partly to tempt the powers-that-be – in my lexicon that means either the good Lord, or Ma Nature, as the case may be. My laundry is to tempt those spirits in charge of weather to send us rain. I’d happily accept some rain-dampened wash, in favor of a soil-soaking downpour. So far, it hasn’t worked. Neither did my orchestrated (roughly speaking) rain dance for the Bouverie Preserve board members last week.

And so we await the rains, while daydreaming to the Slovenian chorus Perpetuum Jazzile’s version of Toto’s “Africa.” If that can’t bring on the rains, I’m stuck. Meanwhile, while we pray for rain, we always add the stipulation: yes rain, but always in measured doses. We await.

Hot choir cools room

I want to remind you that Vox Populi sings soon. The choir, which includes a good number of Glen Ellen folks, will be performing at the local Woman’s Club of Sonoma on Friday, Jan. 17, with the doors opening at 7 p.m., concert at 7:30. I urge you to be there. Yes: of course to rock out along with the dear and talented folks of Vox Pop, but also to help insure that the lovely old Woman’s Club building gets the air conditioning it truly needs. No more hot sweats in summertime films. Of course, I ran last week’s story about Vox Pop because I love the group. But behind that story is the doggone tale that led these wild rock ’n’ rollers to aid the Woman’s Club. It takes a hot choir to cool the room.

Dedicated to dogs and song

Shelley Richey, who is one of Vox Pop’s founding and most active members, is as dedicated to dogs almost as much as she is to singing. Some might even say more. Her current pal is a rescue dog that was owned by the now deceased John Page. Shelley adopted the big orange-yellow golden retriever when he was 7. That was seven years ago and she and Kobe have been fast friends since.

Among the other human and canine friends they meet at the local dog park are Carol Mattice and her dog, Buddy, a fancy Lhasa apso. While their dogs were romping, Carol asked Shelley if she could convince her choir to help with a fund raising campaign for the Sonoma Woman’s Club.

Keep things rolling, wagging, barking

Shelley, with a heart of gold and energy to boot, agreed, of course. She always does, and the empirical evidence of that is seeing Shelley at just about any musical or theatrical event I attend. Hard at work, yet always smiling, Shelley keeps a lot of things rolling in this Valley.

Through Carol, Shelley was introduced to Dorothy Lund, who is currently serving as the chairman of the trustees of the Woman’s Club. They are in charge of the maintenance and improvements of the beautiful Craftsman building the club owns at 574 First St. E.

Hence Shelley’s involvement in the project, which brings the Vox Populi Choir to the Woman’s Club this Friday. All profits will help provide air conditioning in the building.

Friends human and canine

Meanwhile, Shelley and her fellow dog lovers, members of the Sonoma Dog Park Association, are seeking funds to keep the tiny dog park in Sonoma going. Of course, we out here in Glen Ellen are blessed with the best of all dog parks, but it’s still necessary for our friends, human and canine, to have a good place to play closer to their city homes.

If you’ve got a extra few bills rustling in your pockets post holidays, think about handing them over to the Sonoma Dog Park Association. It’s a 501(c) 3 organization and a worthy one at that. Maybe even one that warrants a concert.

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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 two weeks before your desired publication date.