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Valley People (December 25, 2019)

PATRICK KALFSBEEK has died. Known locally as the bee guy, Patrick, 57, lost his legs at age 16, not that his handicap seemed either to slow him down or dim his unfailingly merry spirits. We met him when he appeared one day to ask if he could place a small number of bee hives to the rear of our acre. He said we had “a great spot for bees. They’ll love it here.” And they did, apparently, judging from the quality of the honey Patrick gave us the very next year. Sam Prather down the road also took a few hives as did other locals who, I’m sure, were as beguiled by this evanescent farmer from Arbuckle as we were. We saw Patrick only three weeks ago when he stopped in with gifts of honey, persimmons, tangerines, and almonds and, as always, refused to take so much as a dime in return. He looked thin and drawn, and it occurred to me that Patrick may have been saying goodbye, but this was a man utterly without self-pity, and he was as jolly and as bright as ever, and when Patrick’s sister called Monday morning to say he was gone ….. well, the news hurt. “I’ll have the hives back pretty soon,” he’d said as he drove off that last day, smiling like he always did.

A STRUCTURE FIRE broke out around 10am Tuesday morning (17 December) in downtown Boonville in an area behind Lauren’s Restaurant and the Live Oak building. First responders quickly hooked up fire hoses to the hydrants at the Fairgrounds across the street as smoke billowed up behind the two prominent retail establishments. It is believed the fire started in the rear of a small home in an area roughly 50 yards from Highway 128. Boonville native Eddie Carsey owns the site of the blaze and several nearby structures. The fire was out by 1pm, having effectively destroyed the small house, which also served as a small daycare center. No one was hurt. Highway 128 was closed in both directions for about 30 minutes.

AV FIRE CHIEF Andres Avila said Tuesday’s fire was the sixth in a string of structure fires in Anderson Valley since Thanksgiving, three of them in downtown Boonville, none of them arsons. 

MELISSA BLAISDELL WRITES: "Many of you may have heard that our dear friend Sarah Ryan lost her house and just about everything she owns yesterday due to a freak fire. She is going to need a lot of help as she lost her home (for herself and her 14 year old), her place of business, and valuable musical equipment which she (and we) use for our musical career. 

If you want to help, here's how :

Send her a note at P.O. Box 976 Boonville, CA 95415

Support the GoFundMe Campaign linked below:

Help Sarah find a new home for herself and her preschool business.

WALK OFF THAT HANGOVER. ”Our Gift to you this New Year’s Day - free day use for Hendy Woods State Park for All Mendocino County residents - covered by the Hendy Woods Community - Know your zip code. There will be an interpreter led walk through Big Hendy Grove - starting at 11 am in the Day Use Area. 

THE FIGURE seems classified, but how mucho dinero have the generous people of the Anderson Valley raised to re-shelter our fire victims? I know one guy who scraped together $2700 he really can't afford to get a rental for one vic. He oughta be reimbursed, and he probably will be. The entities collecting money are primarily two:

(1) The Community Foundation of Mendocino County
204 South Oak Street
Ukiah, CA 95482
Phone: (707) 468-9882
Fax: (707) 468-5529


(2) Sueno Latino via Donna Pierson-Pugh at 707-684-0325.

FRIENDS of the late Christine Lopiccolo have installed this memorial to their friend at the Navarro tree where she died last year, one of whom remarked, “Funny thing is, when I stood there, I felt something like she was here with me.”

ANDERSON VALLEY Community Services District board member Kathleen McKenna’s suggestion that the Board consider hiring a consultant to work on a possible parcel text was tabled last Wednesday night when the rest of the board thought that the timing might interfere with the District’s ongoing water/wastewater project, not to mention pending countywide tax measures.

FIRE CHIEF Andres Avila told the Board that the structure fires in recent weeks were the worst series of fires in recent memory in Anderson Valley. The Chief said that several factors contributed to the fires: the old materials and construction of the buildings with multiple layers of roofing, common attics, and the absence of separating firewalls; response delays occurred when people did not call 911 when they first observed a fire. "Always call 911 first," insisted Chief. Apparently some locals called the firehouse, or friends, or other neighbors, before they called 911 which delayed firefighter response. Also, in some cases, there was initial confusion about the locations of the fires when callers gave road names or homeowners names that refer to more than one place in the Valley.

THE ABSENCE of a reliable water supply in downtown Boonville was also mentioned. There are two hydrants at the Fairgrounds but what is now being referred to as the Lodge Fire (because the building that housed the famous old Boonville bar was destroyed) drew down the Fairgrounds’ ground water supply and had to be supplemented with water from down the street. Chief Avila also reminded the Board and the public that proper address signage is important for firefighters. Signage details are available at the firehouse. 

"The troops performed well, the equipment worked well,” said Avila, “but it's discouraging to lose as many structures as we have been the last few weeks." 

THE FIRES have left two large piles of rubble in the center of Boonville, which now join the unsightliness of the abandoned Ricard building down the street. Poor old Boonville has never looked so forlorn.

BECAUSE the destroyed buildings depended on “existing/non-conforming” water and septic systems, both areas will be hard if not impossible to rebuild to modern building code standards. However, as several people have observed, if the water/wastewater system now being planned by the district is ever built, both buildings could be much easier to rebuild. 

As to the causes, no official determination has been made. "The fire next door to Lizzby’s Restaurant definitely started in the first house, Unit A, in the kitchen/stove area," said the chief. “It was not a candle, not drugs, and not arson.” 

The District is accepting donations for locals displaced by the recent spate of structure fires. Donations will be divided equally among displaced persons by the Sueño Latino organization. Sueño Latino can also be reached directly via Donna Pierson-Pugh at 707-684-0325.

IN THE LAST THREE WEEKS there have been six fires in Anderson Valley that resulted in the loss of homes and businesses. This many structure fires in such a short time is some sort of record for us — and not one we're glad to see set. None of these fires were suspicious, and there is no connection between the events. Laundry, cooking, wood stoves, and other every day factors contributed to these incidents.

Thanks very much to our volunteer firefighters and supporters for answering the call to duty so frequently over the last few weeks. Thanks to the network of support that is coalescing around the families who have suffered losses. 

Stay safe, and in an emergency, do not call your firefighter friends until after you CALL 911! (AV Fire Department Chief Andres Avila)

AV HEALTH CENTER director, Chloe Guazzone, confirms that the Center has purchased the house on Highway 128 almost directly opposite the AVA bunker. The new quarters will be used for admin space; the cabin to the rear of the house will house for visiting medical personnel. "We have outgrown our building and have a dental and medical expansion soon to start. We looked for office space in town but in the end, we found it a better choice to invest in a property that could serve both needs. This will save us quite a bit of money in the long run."

THE DAY AFTER. The final Quiz of 2019 will take place next Thursday on the 4th Thursday - 26th December, Boxing Day - with a special Holiday Edition for all the family. Happy Holidays to one and all and I hope to see you at this evening of brain-teasing, delicious food, fine wine, and a few beers. Cheers, Steve Sparks, The Quiz Master

ANDERSON VALLEY'S newest restaurant opens in the Farrer Building, central Boonville. Uneda Eat in Boonville began with a soft opening Friday and Saturday December 20-21 and 27-28. We will be open for our regular winter hours (Wed-Sat 3-8ish) after the new year on Thursday January 2nd. We are interested in supporting local purveyors (quail, produce, etc.)! You can reach us at or 895-2222. 

COOLEST CHRISTMAS CARD ever comes from Bob 'Wood Duck' Fowler, our talented Boonville neighbor whose unique works of art will bring big bucks someday on the Antique Road Show.

WALKING IN THE DARK. Anderson Valley Way and Lambert Lane are relatively car-free, especially early in the morning when I huff and puff my three daily miles. I know these treks so intimately I can walk them in the dark. Which I often do in the winter’s limited light. Not a soul stirs on Lambert Lane, especially after you get across the bridge, and I wonder how much longer before that ancient structure falls into the creek. But Anderson Valley Way? Twice over the long years, out either long after dark or an hour before daylight (thanks to non-daylight savings time), I’ve found that AV Way can be positively thrilling. You night hawk compulsives know how it is; you carry a flashlight but after your eyes adjust you snap off the light and truck right along, national government radio's frenetic accounts of yesterday's catastrophes piped in through your earphones as you're borne along on a tsunami of distortions of what you take to be reality, the skies the diamonds of poem and song. Was it one of the Russian writers who has a priest assuring a child that when we die we each get our own star, each sized according to our earthly significance? Anyway, one late and very dark night with an impenetrable tule fog right down to the pavement, visibility zero, I walked straight into a sheep. I jumped back in shock and alarm, the beast clattered off. I know the road from innumerable mornings and nights pounding its pavement, but I remember that night it was so dark my flashlight was useless and I'd slowed my pace, waving my walking stick (and dog repeller) side to side like a blindman, but I still hit the sheep's mid-section. Then, one recent, early morning about five, no moon, no illumination of any kind, the glib lib, Tanzeena Vega just signing on government radio after glib lib Hartman (am I the only person in the County who ever hears these people?) and I know I'm the only person walking in all of Anderson Valley, a thought I find oddly comforting, and darned if a guy walking from the other direction suddenly appears, and appears so closely I feel him brushing past me as he moves on without saying a word as I, startled out of my ancient skin, shout, "Hey! Wot the hell?" But he just kept on going like some kind of zombie. When I report this positively weird occurrence to leery colleagues, one guy says, "It was probably that one-armed Mexican. You know, the drunk guy." No way. I know that guy. And he knows me. He wouldn't do that. Anyway, when he's drunk he sorta careens, he doesn't stiff-walk, and zombie man was a stiff-walking white guy, I'm pretty sure. Besides, nutso behavior is pretty much a white man's franchise. More prosaically and much less ethnically biased, another friend writes off the episode as, "You dreamed it. Never happened." I was rather insulted. I'm old, and I know I'm slipping, but I still know dreamland from awake, if not woke. Then, thinking about it over the ensuing days, maybe he was just another early morning government radio exerciser, maybe a fellow OCD vic, someone who just has to keep to his routine. Maybe there are two people in the County who hear Hartman and Vega in the morning.

DAYLA HEPTING WRITES: I am sorry to hear that the Boonville Lodge burned. What a great American bar. A legend, not just in the Anderson Valley but far and wide. I remember back in the early 80s when my ex Rick Hepting and I had decided to leave Berkeley and move to Boonville, mostly because of Bruce Anderson and AVA. Rick Hepting was the master of repairing The IBM Composer which was a portable typesetter designed like the IBM Selectric typewriter. That’s how we came to know Bruce. These machines were already ancient then and often needed repair, so Bruce had to make the trek to Berkeley to await the magic repairs of Rick Hepting. Harry something or other [Blythe] who published the Mendocino Commentary also had a ramshackle IBM Composer so he too had to see Rick in Berkeley frequently. When I told Harry about our move he was aghast. He said Boonville was just a pack of rednecks, hippies, and Mexicans fighting like cats and dogs. That’s when I first heard about the Boonville Lodge. He repeated much of what you have recounted in this story, especially dwelling on the Mexicans’ rebellion and siege on the rednecks at the Lodge. He suggested we move to the wilds of Sebastopol. We knew right then that if we had any reservations about the move to Boonville, they were gone now. Harry sold us over the top. We moved to Anderson Valley and it never did disappoint. Just one quick story. I will never forget when the young Bloyds tied some hapless guy to a chair and drove all up and down 128 in the back of their pickup in the late night hours. When they got bored with that they picked him up chair and all and left him in the lobby of the Boonville post office for the post mistress to find in the morning! What a great place Boonville was in those days, and she wore the Lodge as a crowning jewel!”


"In January 2019, Joshua Oliva, who recently completed his undergraduate studies at UC Riverside, discovered a_brand-new species of firefly while exploring in the Santa Monica mountains." 

Last week, I was showering in our dimly lit outdoor shower room when I happened to look down and noticed in the shadows two greenish colored lights. For a moment I thought I might have had on sparkly earrings one of which was knocked off. Then I touched the object with my toe and it curled up! I picked it up and it uncurled and blinked in my palm, a lizard-like, flatish bug about an inch and a half long with glowing lights on either side of its rear end. WOW. I put it in a jar and brought it with me to the computer, where, after a bit of research, I learned it was a glow worm, a microphotus, the larvae of a firefly. As an east coaster I always wondered why there were no fireflies in California, assuming it was because it was too dry. Now I know better. 

The larvae are carnivores, eating snails and slugs, but the firefly is mainly a herbivore, eating pollen. The shower in which I found the insect is in a small potting shed filled with plants which flower in some seasons, and a small smoker. It is the perfect environment for both the larvae and the adult (and my plants!). This summer I'll visit the shed more often at night in the hope of seeing a firefly flitting about. 

I put the larvae back in the shed into a potted plant near the shower. It winked at me as I put it down. The picture is exactly what I found, but sadly it doesn't show the light sacks on its rear end. You'll just have to imagine them. 

Take care, have wonderful holidays, and we look forward to seeing some of you next year. 

— Nikki Auschnitt and Steve Krieg


  1. Debra Keipp December 25, 2019

    At Harbin Hot Springs twenty years ago, I forgot my flashlight when headed for the tubs after dinner. After dark, on my return to the tent sites at the end of the trail which circled the base of a cliff, I was taking baby steps in the dark as to not fall off the trail, down the cliff, when a domestic cat meowed at me. Unable to see even my hands in pitch black, I spoke to the kitty, who showed me the way on the trail for some distance, as I followed the sound of its meow, as we talked to each other. Halfway back to my tent/camp site, the cat took off up the cliff to leave me, blind in the dark, alone. As I stared down at the trail, hoping to see it, I noticed that the edge of the trail was ever so daintily illuminated. I got down on my knees to get a closer look and found actual bioluminescent salmon-colored larva-like worms glowing in the dark! Glow worms!! I thought they were mythological – just a song from Lysistrata via the Mills Brothers: “Shine little glow worm, glimmer, glimmer. Hey, there, don’t get dimmer, dimmer. Light the path below and lead us on to love”. It’s an old German tune from around 1900. Hell yah!!! Glow worms!!

  2. Debra Keipp December 25, 2019

    You be careful, Bruce, down there walking in the dark on AV Way! I just saw my 14th mountain lion! Most all on Mountain View, it’s true, and mostly all in daylight, but they are silent stalkers, and you’d make quite a meal.

    You are not alone, tho. I listen to Thom Hartmann at 5 a.m., Mon -Fri also. When sleeping later, missing the Hartmann show, listeners have 24 hrs to stream Hartmann on KZYX Jukebox. Most other shows stay on Jukebox alot longer (weeks?) for later listening, fyi. Hartmann tho, has the shortest shelf life of any show on Jukebox.

    Merry Christmas!

    • Debra Keipp December 25, 2019

      Glow little glow-worm, turn the key on
      You are equipped with taillight neon
      You got a cute vest-pocket Mazda
      Which you can make both slow and faster
      I don’t know who you took the shine to
      Or who you’re out to make a sign to
      I got a gal that I love so
      Glow little glow-worm, glow
      Glow little glow-worm, glow
      Glow little glow-worm, glow
      Glow little glow-worm, glow

      (Cool lyrics all of which I’ve never listened to before. Guess I paid more attention to the tempo. Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics decades after the tune was created.)

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