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Valley People (April 8, 2020)

MURIEL ELLIS of Yorkville has died. Mother of Terry Ryder also of Yorkville, Muriel was perhaps best known in the Anderson Valley as a devoted and formidable participant in the Trivial Pursuit nights at Lauren's Restaurant. A full obituary is pending. An interview with Muriel by Steve Sparks is available on-line at

BOONVILLE’S a ghost town, the internet slower than slow. A computer wizard says the net is slow because everyone’s at home streaming movies, which takes up a lot of bandwidth, the magic cyber-highway on which the movies and all the rest of the round-the-clock deluge travels.

PAGING DR. DOOHAN. Mendo's chief medical officer, or a surrogate (Dr. Drew Colfax?) ought to appear daily on all the local radio stations, youtube, newspaper websites to update the county on the plague. If there's nothing new to report, take questions. As it is, we're all left to pick up reliable information where we can, which means lots of people are picking up unreliable info. 5 o'clock, every day. Also, why are so many county workers still going in every day and doing nothing when they get there? Essential personnel only should be required to report.

SPEAKING of doctors, how about the Colfax boys out of the hills of Boonville? Grant Colfax is the Bay Area's go-to medical guy, while his younger brother, Drew, is a Mendo go-to medico. Home schooled, the both of them.

IN LIEU of testing, it's impossible to say how many Mendo people have the virus. We're still at four say the same sleepy reports out of Doc Doohan. Forty in Humco, but they have a third or so more people.

FROST FANS have destroyed the sleep of a thousand or so Anderson Valley residents for most of the past seven days. And a thousand people is a conservative estimate. When these appalling annual nuisances kicked off in the spring of 2014 we complained loud and long. A community meeting was convened to stop them, which not only went nowhere but the grape people announced in our faces that their grapes were more important than our sleep, regardless of age or medical condition. So the ava went to court, arguing that frost fans were not covered by right-to-farm legislation because they are freshly introduced. These things aren't roosters, day-time tractors and cows, they're the sound equivalent of giant combat helicopters that can and often do clatter on from midnight to past dawn. That argument was a dead letter in the wine-dominated local courts. And here we are. 

THE ARGUMENT that the introduction of massive industrial machines timed to work in the middle of the night didn't go anywhere in the wine-dominated county offices or its courts. We didn’t exactly “lose” because it was clear that nobody at the County level was going to do anything about serial violations of legal regulations of decibel levels since the County quickly took the position of the grape growers. So we settled with the three individual neighbors of ours in SoBo after they upgraded their fans to less noisy models, seeing that neither the courts nor the county cared about anything but the grapes, hardly an essential ag crop even before the coronavirus. Pursuing flagrant disregard for the  noise laws not to mention ordinary neighborly thoughtfulness, would have bankrupted us with no real chance of improvement. All we wanted in the court case was a permit process like the one that grape growers said was in place, but was not. Philosophically, frost fans are of a piece with the industrial nature of the chemically-dependent wine business, sold to the gullible public as farming. 

LATELY, the ceaseless cyber deluge has included a whole lot of salacious invitations like this: “Bruce, I really enjoyed our last meeting. Let’s do it again soon, big boy.” I imagine myself slumped over dead at my computer with these lewd final communications amid my e-mail as Boonville’s emergency services people say things like, “Gee, the old guy was quite the perv. Who would have thought?” Let the record show I do not know, and have never known, carnally or otherwise, anybody named Misty. Or Krystal. 

A READER ASKED US LAST WEEK if any of Anderson Valley’s many wineries are producing hand sanitizer, apparently thinking that wine is some kind of disinfectant — or not having a clue about what’s involved. Producing anything like the concentrated antiseptic level 70% alcohol requires a distillation capability which we are not aware of in Anderson Valley. Just to confirm, we asked local grape grower/realtor Anne Fashauer who agreed that she didn’t know of any. Besides, even if you have a still to distill raw wine into brandy, it’s only about 35-40% alcohol, and reconfiguration would be required to produce twice the concentration of alcohol. By percentages alone if you had a gallon of wine at say 12% alcohol, that would translate to maybe 7 ounces of nearly pure everclear type alcohol, or about ten ounces of 70% alcohol. (The highest proof grappa we’ve ever heard of is 60% alcohol and that stuff would knock out anybody, maybe even including a virus.) (Mark Scaramella)

THE NAVARRO STORE offers a full range of delicious, reasonably priced to-go food if you’re down at the Deep End or just passing through. The burritos, to name one delectable, will keep you going all day.

BOONVILLE’S Boont Berry Farm; Lauren’s; Mosswood; the Redwood Drive-In; the General Store, all offer great take-out food, while the Boonville Hotel and Pennyroyal Farms have weekend specials and food baskets but call for particulars.

BOTH the Boonville and Philo post offices now leave their outer and inner doors open, the better to spare patrons the hazards of unprotected hands to door handles. And both have plastic shields at their counters. Knock on wood — your head will do — but the farther you get from the population centers, the farther you are from the virus. Only four cases in Mendo, none in Lake, and the spread in Sonoma County seems statistically, encouragingly and slow. 

LUCINDA ANDERSON, often a resident of Anderson Valley, has been named to NorCal's first team young women's soccer teams. Lucinda is a senior at Marin Academy, San Rafael, and the daughter of Robert Mailer Anderson and Nicola Miner, niece of ava editor, Bruce Anderson.

ONE of the Anderson Valley's many beauties is the wild yellow irises at the Scharffenberger Winery, Philo, just now coming into bloom. 

THE DAILY "LOVE TABLE" in front of Boont Berry Farm was lushly set with fresh loaves of bread and hand packets of homemade (?) butter, plus a variety of other baked goods. All free! And whomever the baker is he/she knows his/her way around an oven. Wonderful stuff, and a great gift to our sector of besieged America. 

JUST IN. I'm reliably informed the Love Table is the work of the The Land, formerly Shenoa, the orgasm collective at the far end of Rays Road, Philo. Orgasm collective? Well, the way I understand it, it's a group of purplish-oriented wealthy people who, uh, pay a lot of money to fine tune their watchamacallits, and prefer doing it in a rural setting, hence Philo. Whatever, as the young people say, they make a righteous loaf of bread perhaps, as I further understand it, because the guy making that righteous loaf is none other than the Tassajara bread guy whose bread book used to be in every hippie home back when there were hippies.

DAYLA HEPTING, formerly of the Anderson Valley, writes: “Sounds like AV is about the same as Malta Montana as per CO-VID 19. I had felt relatively safe here in my nursing home with our restrictions which are lockdown, no visitors, no trips out except to doctors, temps taken 2x daily, masks and sanitizers provided, that is I felt safe until yesterday because supposedly we had no cases in Phillips County, but yesterday I learned only 9 people in the county had been tested! So really we have no idea! I also read a study made in Iceland where they have done extensive testing dating back to February when the virus hit China. Their data shows 50% of infected people were asymptomatic! Contagious yes, but no symptoms. It is also true that there is an incubation period of 5 to 14 days during which time you are contagious without even knowing you have it. So today I started wearing the masks and doing the hand sanitizing. If you would have talked to me a year ago which is right before I came into the rest home I would have told you “just draw me up a big fat syringe of pure powerful corona virus and shoot it up into that vein in the crook of my arm because I don’t give a  bleep if I live another day!” But now, after a year in the rest home, I am a powerhouse again, happy and ready for 10 more years so I will be damn unhappy if I get that CO-VID 19 and die on a ventilator 20 days later. No sir! Not me! I plan to live!”

MENDOCINO SPORTS PLUS reported three somewhat confusing medical calls in Anderson Valley on Thursday based on limited scanner traffic. So we asked AV Fire Chief Avila to expand on the incidents and clarify them.

THE FIRST was at 12:41 pm in response to a report of a 53 year old female fall victim, unresponsive, at the Boonville Post Office. The originally requested air ambulance for the unresponsive woman in Boonville was canceled and one of the two responding ground ambulances took the woman to the hospital in Ukiah. The other ground ambulance was redirected to two related incidents in the Yorkville area which occurred during the response to the Boonville Post Office. 

FIRE CHIEF AVILA said that the second call a few minutes after the first one for a “confused female” who was “feeling ill” was for a woman who was one of two passengers in a vehicle incident near Yorkville. The Yorkville incident generated a third call a few minutes later for a vehicle about a mile from the first vehicle. The individuals involved in those two incidents were Oregon residents, and, Avila said, “intoxication was a factor,” so they were evaluated by the paramedic in the ground ambulance and cleared and then released to the CHP. (One can only guess what the drunks in those two vehicles were doing that ended up with a confused and ill woman and arrests of all but one of the Oregonians.) A call to animal control was also canceled when a possibly abandoned dog in one of the two Yorkville vehicles which at first appeared to need attention was found to belong to one of the involved individuals not taken into custody by CHP. We may see whoever was arrested at the scene appearing in an upcoming booking log. 

A LOCAL WRITES: "Besides pot, wine and beer are considered essential. I have seen busloads of farm workers trucked into AV from Ukiah. Any winegrapes grown will not be wine until two years down the road so certainly not essential for this crisis??"

HOWL DOWN THE PLAGUE. Lots of Bay Area communities are wolf-howling for a few minutes every night at 8pm. The idea is to howl support for the front line people whose work requires them to risk their lives. And solidarity in the face of this monster that’s swallowing our lives. I howled the last coupla nights out in front of the ava office, central Boonville. A dog howled back from the area of the Boonville Hotel. If anyone else heard me they probably assumed I’d at last gone totally 5150. I’ll howl every night from now until we’ve beaten it. 8pm. Be there.

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