Anita Watson, my favorite server down at Bob Rice’s Breakaway Café, sent good news recently. One of her dear friends is tops in the nation, once again. Congratulations to Debbie Emery of Glen Ellen whose blog “My Journey Past Breast Cancer” was voted one of the top breast cancer blogs for the second year in a row by Healthline, an online health encyclopedia and resource.
In recognition of Debbie’s blog the Healthline website says, “Debbie is a true warrior and survivor in her fight against cancer,” suggesting that you can “gain strength from Emery’s blog.” And it is true.
Au’makua, alpacas, maremmas, oh my
Debbie’s home page features a lovely painting of a hummingbird, which she calls “My Au’makua” (Hawaiian spirit god). She also emphasizes her multiple and happy roles as wife, mother, grandmother, alpaca farmer, fiber fanatic and gardener.
In addition to her cancer blog, Debbie also writes for Brookfarm, the alpaca farm that she and her husband, Mark, run on Sonoma Mountain. That blog, called the “Poop Scoop,” details the adventures of their small herd of alpacas along with their guardian dogs (a big and shaggy breed known as Maremmas, from the Maremma region of Italy, where for centuries they have guarded sheep from hungry wolves). No doubt, the job of scooping is a frequent chore on the farm, but Debbie can make even that sound fun, such is her enthusiasm.
A recent post on Debbie’s cancer blog recalls her brother Richard Dallara’s 1985 heart transplant and the international media attention that he received.
As a newspaper story from that time states, “Dallara was the first patient in California to have mechanical assistance for both sides of his heart, and the fourth patient in the United States to receive two pumps at the same time.”
I remember the news stories well because Debbie and I were both Dunbar moms at the time. Then, like so many others in our village, I was sad when Debbie’s brother Richard, a former marathon runner and a happy fellow, died some seven years after his transplant. But, as we all understood, those seven years of life were a wonderful gift he received.
And in receiving he also gave: Richard’s surgery was early in the development of artificial hearts and heart transplants. His surgery led the way to a greater understanding of these life-saving procedures. Procedures that have brought renewed life even today to folks in Glen Ellen.
We know a dear neighbor in our village who has personally benefitted from the added knowledge of heart transplants, getting a good new ticker of his own.
Though I respect that individual’s wish to remain anonymous, I just want to convey how happy I felt catching a glimpse of this good Glen Ellenite walking down Arnold Drive recently.
As for Debbie, we thank her for the courage and encouragement she shares in both of her blogs. You can find them online by simply searching her name.
Peripatetic Onchorhynchus redux
Last Tuesday morning, the very day my column hit the streets, I heard from Steven Lee who read my fish story. Briefly, if you missed it, I stated in last week’s column that all of the trout in New Zealand hailed from Glen Ellen, specifically citing the species Onchorhynchus mykiss.
That story, verified by a Bouverie docent trainee Skye Miller, was given a bit of hometown detail by Steven, a board member of our Glen Ellen Historical Society.
Steven writes, “I just saw your article on the Glen Ellen trout in New Zealand. I have heard that story as well, but have never personally seen any direct evidence of said transplantation. However, it is likely true.
“Glen Ellen did have a fish hatchery in the late 1800s. It was the LaMotte fish hatchery, named after Alfred LaMotte who owned a large piece of Glen Ellen land along Sonoma and Graham Creeks and extending up what later became the London Ranch.”
Steven goes on to share, “The hatchery site is what eventually became the Jack London Estates lake, or Lake Idelle. It was never profitable and didn’t last long.”
Finally, Steven clarified his theory, “The hatchery was never in Sonoma Creek. It was just to the side of the creek with a water diversion/flume coming off of Graham Creek.”
Steven included lots of old timey photos, which I hope he’ll share on the Glen Ellen Historical Society’s Facebook page. Trusting Steven’s scholarship, and despite his modest claim of “likely true,” I think the story is entirely true.
As for Onchorhyncy … his mug shot, which accompanied my column last week (the online version of it), is one that I’ll always treasure. Best mug alongside my column ever. Better than mine, I think, and judging by his knowing smile, he’s no doubt a better teller of fish tales as well.
on the fire line
Mary Neuer Lee, jewelry artist, teacher and proud mom recently shared some good news with me. Her son, Keenan Lee, is now a Santa Rosa firefighter. He, along with others from Santa Rosa, attended the recent Schellville fire, arriving on an engine out of Rincon Valley. Mary shares that Keenan misses his friends at Cal Fire, but working for a city fire department is a dream come true for him.
As for Cal Fire folks at that inferno, Nils Derickson, another homegrown Glen Ellen fellow, was apparently the Cal Fire caterpillar operator who kept his cool while “flames appeared to nearly engulf the tractor at some points,” as the Index-Tribune story reported. All that, after just returning home from battling the Yosemite blaze. Our thanks to Keenan, Nils and all of the other firefighters from Glen Ellen and beyond.
Meanwhile, in work not any less dangerous, but undeniably cooler, Mary’s younger son, Aylan Lee, is, like his older brother Keenan, following his passion.
Aylan is a rafting guide on the Rogue River. He recently completed training in Hell’s Canyon.
As for Mary, she keeps busy teaching folks jewelry design (at various venues around California, including Sonoma’s own Community Center). She’s just happy that the boys that she and her husband, George, raised have pursued their passions and found great jobs. What more can a mother wish?
Leslie Vaughn, president of the Glen Ellen Village Fair committee, writes with an important request. On fair day, that is Sunday, Oct. 13, she will need several adults or older teens at 9:30 a.m. for a couple of hours to help vendors unload their cars. She promises no heavy lifting involved – that’s the vendor’s responsibility. The help is necessary to keep car parking to a minimum during unloading, a busy pre-fair time. As for the fair excitement, that begins at noon when our parade commences.
Leslie is also looking for volunteers at Kids Alley. They want to make sure that the teens who volunteer all day (among them, Leslie’s daughter Kelly and her friends from Sonoma Valley High School) get a break to enjoy the fair themselves.
Leslie emphasizes that even if you can only help for a couple of hours, you are needed. That’s not much to give on our fair day. Won’t you please call Leslie Vaughn, 935-9163 or 494-6197, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll have more great fair news soon, just make sure you mark your calendar for Oct. 13 as a day of excitement in Glen Ellen.
Sadly soggy Varanasi
Finally, last week I learned that the lovely Sonoma Ashram where my friends and I meditate weekly, has suffered huge losses in their sister ashram in the ancient North India City of Varanasi during the recent floods on the Ganges River. Sonoma’s Baba Harihar Ramji recently returned from the Varanasi ashram where he was able to encourage the staff and the orphans who live there, offering them the calm of loving prayers and attention.
While the waters have now receded, the difficult work of restoration will soon begin. Their most dire losses are in the eco farm that they have tended so carefully. It is unlikely that any crops have survived the devastation.
We in this Valley are familiar with the long, slow recovery that mud and debris require. If you’d like to learn more, Google the Sonoma Ashram’s website and look at Bal Ashram in India.
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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 or more before your desired publication date.