“The wise musicians are those who play what they can master,” observed Duke Ellington. And perhaps Audrey from Sonoma should take that to heart the next time she’s enjoying the lilting melodies of the street buskers outside area supermarkets.

Audrey wrote in recently to call attention to the accordionists who hold court in front of Whole Foods and Safeway. “Sometimes their wives are there and there is usually a sign saying, ‘I have three kids,’ and an open bin for money,” describes Audrey.

But after taking in the polka party on multiple occasions, Audrey observed that “sometimes the ‘musicians’ take a rest but the music keeps going.” Without dating us to our 1990s glory days with an “Is it live or is it Memorex?” reference, we’ll simply agree with Audrey’s suspicions that they’re playing to a recording.

“Ingenious on the one part,” sums Audrey, “but on the other part I hate being had.” She generously left it to us to decide whether this is a Glass Full or Glass Empty. We’ll, of course, go with the former. As someone once said, “A gentleman is a man who can play the accordion – but doesn’t.”

Mary Maddux wrote in recently with a warning during these dog days of summer. She and her pooch pal Leia – “as in Princess Leia,” she stressed – had begun an innocent walk on the Fryer Creek bike path and ended up with a scary trip to the vet.

Sonoma Valley open space is teeming with foxtail, a grass whose seeds Mother Nature cleverly designed to bore into the ground. Unfortunately, Hordeum murinum also has a tendency to bore into dogs.

“My dog was sniffing at the side of the path, and then started sneezing violently, pawing her nose and was clearly distressed,” described Mary.

Cut to: the veterinarian’s office, where the doctor immediately diagnosed that a foxtail must be at play – and, sure enough, a prickly spikelet was working its way up Leia’s nose. “She had to be sedated to have it removed — not fun for her, for us, and an expense to boot,” added Mary.

Mary has since traded war stories with pet owners who have had foxtails removed from Rover’s eyes, Fido’s ears and from inside Mr. Woofers’ body because, as Mary so delicately put it, a “foxtail awn can only travel one way once it’s entered an orifice.” She also heard a sad story of a dog that died due to “foxtail complications.” Take heed, Sonoma – it’s foxtail season from May through September. Check your pet for foxtails. Let no stone, nor bodily orifice, go unturned.

Jason Walsh