Letters to the Editor, Jan. 5

The friendly beasts

EDITOR: You may know them as Vintage Kennel Club, a dog ranch and spa for your four-legged family members. But what you may not know is their love of exotic animals. Brian Ness and Michael Weiss have for many years supplied animals for the Valley and beyond nativity scenes. They have three camels, a donkey, and time their sheep to give birth in December to have that ever too-cute baby lamb for the kids to hold.

Very active in their local church, St. Andrew Presbyterian, they never failed to inspire the congregation with their awe-inspiring presence of a huge camel walking through the sanctuary. Christmas Eve is big at St. Andrew, very big, doing four services to accommodate everyone. Except for this year. Due to COVID restrictions, St. Andrew decided to go virtual and record their service. It was beautiful, it was meaningful but it was not the same.

Brian knew he had to do something. “The reason we have these animals all year is to do Nativity scenes. It means so much to the congregation and to see the joy on the children’s faces is precious.” So on Christmas Eve, Brian and Michael loaded up their menagerie and did something very special.

Imagine reading the Christmas story to your children and your spouse happened to look out the window to see a real live nativity scene on your street! Brian and Michael took their Nativity scene on the road along with another family, the Walthards, who were instrumental in supplying the music and playing the parts of Mary, Joseph, Kings, Shepherds and even a toddler dressed as an angel. Together they went to several houses to spread good cheer to some people who could use a lift.

All in all they did eight “pop up” nativities over three days. Don’t worry, they all wore masks under their costumes and each family took separate vehicles. They would put a speaker on the door playing music then wait for the door to open or the heads to pop out of windows. Along with the music they interspersed a narration of the Christmas story. All in all it took nine minutes but the memories would last a life time. There were many tears of joy and at nearly every stop you could hear children’s voices saying: “Hey! There’s a camel down the street!”

As the good Dr. Seuss told us: “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas, perhaps means a little bit more.”

It came, it came just the same thanks to a few caring families, just one of the many reasons that make this valley so special.

Ed Vaughn


Farewell ’Sweetheart of Sonoma’

EDITOR: We lost a dear friend (“Helen Maria Fernandez, 1925 – 2020,” Dec. 29). Her guide for a good life is so wise and simple.

A Faith to live by...

A Self fit to live with...

A Job worthy to live for...

Someone to love, and be loved by.

Truly the Sweetheart of Sonoma

Judy and George Weiner


So SVH, how ‘bout needle disposal?

EDITOR: This is a request to our Sonoma Valley Hospital.

My husband is a diabetic and to dispose of his needles and pens, we have to drive 40 minutes to a facility in Petaluma. We are seniors and this is an inconvenience for us and I'm sure for others. Why can't our hospital let people drop them off at the hospital in secure containers supplied by the disposal company?

The hospital has biohazard collections regularly so why couldn't they offer this service to the community?

Brenda Camilleri

Sonoma Valley

In dank we trust

EDITOR: "Back in the old days," he said, leaning on his wizard cane, “it was called dope.”

Also referred to as smoke, pot, reefer, jay, Mary Jane and a salad of euphemisms. It was never called cannabis, as in, “Yo, bro, got any cannabis?” "Cannabis” was the invention of some doper English major who got off on Latin, and embraced by city councils all over America drooling for tax dollars.

The way to “test” marijuana, a name only used by government drug agencies, was to first smell it and then smoke it. The nose knows was the motto, well, my motto, and it’s still true, and the acid (ahem) test was to smoke the stuff. It was either really good, gooood, all right or junk. Simple, easy, scientific-ish and you’re out the door.

Now capitalism rears its coiffed head, advertising and PR geeks take over, and a perfectly natural substance to get you high is hyped and packaged up the yin-yang. Thanks to the packaging, adding 40 tons of indestructible plastic to oceans and landfills that won’t break down until the year 20,003 (rough calculation), you can’t smell it or even see it at purchase.

So as they say at the bar I hang out in, caveat emptor, which means … trust me sucker, would I lie to you?

Will Shonbrun

Sonoma Valley

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