Valley People (July 22, 2020)

ACCORDING to a letter from PG&E, some of us Boonvillians will lose power on Wednesday, July 29th between the hours of 12:15am and 6am while “new overhead equipment is installed.”

SOCIAL MEDIA POST raises a timely point: “As a community member I have an observation and concern. Out of 199 positive cases 116 of those are of Hispanic/Latino decent. And yet as I run my essential errands I notice first that only 1 store out of 5 I walked pass had any signage in Spanish. It was a long convoluted explanation of covid19 that became covered by other signage when the door opened. Second there are no universal signs. Some stores have hand written cardboard signs. Some have the long explanation of covid19. If as a town, county and state, we are required to wear a mask to help stop the spread then shouldn't there be universal clear signage in more than just English?”

IT'S OFFICIAL: No county fair this year, also known as the Boonville Fair since the annual event is Boonville-centric, but whatever it’s called the Fair it's not happening this year. First cancellation since its World War One-era beginnings.

MEANWHILE, down at our deserted school yards, Superintendent Michael Warych reports: “We've spent the past three months developing a plan to partially re-open schools on August 11. It's a hybrid model: students are allowed to choose between continued full-time distance learning at home or a combination of two days of in-person instruction on campus and three days of distance learning. With recent developments, we've now developed an alternative draft plan to simply continue Districtwide full-time distance learning. Our Public Health Officer has formally recommended not re-opening for any in-person, on-site instruction. In addition, it seems there's a reasonable possibility that Mendocino County will be placed on the State's watch list, which would prevent in-person instruction. I've recommended in the Board agenda that the Board: 1. Approve the plan to continue distance learning indefinitely, effective August 11 2. Approve the plan to partially re-open (the hybrid plan) to be implemented if and when it's safe to do so, 3. Review the status of our instructional plan at least monthly at regular Board meetings.”

AV FIRE CHIEF ANDRES AVILA REPORTS: AV Chipper ProgramI was approached by the Mendocino Fire Safe Council (MCFSC) about partnering in a chipper program for Anderson Valley. The MCFSC recently bought a chipper but needed a place to store it, along with a chipper program manager, and to find trained labor to conduct the chipping. It is currently sitting in Hopland and not being used. In addition to the chipper they have received a $75,000 grant from PG&E which needs to be used in full by November. We have met several times on the matter and are coming up with a plan to implement a program here in the valley.I have agreed to coordinate project requests and provide fuels reduction consultations for neighborhoods that could benefit from the chipper program. Our initial survey to the various Anderson Valley Fire Safe Communities and Roadsheds have resulted in 38 requests so far. This project interest should result in the chipper being active for a time. I have spoken with Jim Brown at the fairgrounds and he is willing to house the chipper out of the weather to support the valley getting the benefit of the program. The funding will be used to hire a certified contractor (one out of the area contractor is available but we are going to solicit local contractors) to conduct the chipping and be available for small fuels reduction projects in high risk and common areas. We are drafting agreements and RFPs now to get this program rolling as soon as possible. 

HAY! HAY! HAY! $7.10/bale, several hundred available. Call Kirk at 895-2949. Supports Boonville Airport

QUEENIE’S Roadhouse Cafe in Elk is open. Outside patio dining and to go orders. New hours Friday Saturday Sunday and Monday 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Curbside pick-up. 707-877-3285. As are in Boonville, Lauren’s, the Redwood Drive-in, Boonville General Store, and sometimes the Boonville Hotel.

IT'S NICE UP THERE, a reader writes: “I’ve realized philosophically I like going to the  Boonville dump. What’s not to like? It’s surrounded by ripening huckleberry bushes (aka PIE), the dump guy is cute, there’s cool stuff, and your neighbors show up. PLUS, everybody ends up there, figuratively and literally. It’s a great social leveling. I’m thinking of bringing a folding chair and a dog-eared book and STAYing there. It’s peaceful. If I stay long enough, they can dump me.”

HELP FUENTES RECOVER. Iconic Mendocino artist Larry Fuente’s home and art studio were tragically destroyed in a fire on Friday, July 3. Nationally known for his elaborately adorned assemblage sculptures, Larry lost much of his life’s work in the devastating fire. We send our condolences to Larry as we reflect on the magnitude of this loss within our local and national art community. Please join the Mendocino Art Center’s board, staff, artists and volunteers in support of Larry – donations at any level are greatly appreciated! Help us reach our $10,000 goal! https://www.gofundme.com/f/larry-fuente-fire-fun The Mendocino Art Center hosted Larry’s exhibition, “New World Hoarder,” August/September 2019. Mendocino Art Center http://www.MendocinoArtCenter.org

TUNE IN. Free Wildlife Virtual Summer Camp

Wildcare is a wildlife rescue and education facility in San Rafael, one of the finest in California. They are offering a free virtual summer camp for children kindergarten through 7th grade. If you have young people at home, or if you are interested in wildlife or wildlife rescue--give it a look. It's FREE and they are an excellent facility: discoverwildcare.thinkific.com

(Ronnie James)

BILL HAND. Many of us remember Bill and his traveling vet’s clinic: Betty Lou Whaley writes: “I’m writing a short piece on Bill Hand who worked as a vet on the coast many years ago. He parked his "MASH” van on the beach east of Big River Bridge, and specialized in low cost spaying of cats. Does anyone have anecdotes they would be willing to share?” Marco McClean shared: “I’m not sure if it was Bill Hand or some other vet, but in like 1980 I heard on the radio that you could bring your pet to this vet truck for free; I didn't know that it was just to get a shot. A few months before, I had got a kitten from some people giving them away from a cardboard box by the front door of the grocery store, the way kids used to do. It got sick --weak, lethargic-- and I didn't have enough money for a vet, and Late Night Liz or Suzy Zipp or Rick Bondor or somebody at KMFB had said about the free vet, so I took it to the address, stood in line for about half an hour, and when I got to the door I said, "My cat is sick." The man exploded in fury, pointed to the western sky, shouted, "Take it the hell out of here! This is for well cats!" I fled, mortified. The cat died about a week later.” 

FACE MASKS continue to be available for those that need them; that would be any that don't fit snugly around the nose, cheeks and chin. 

For those around you please consider a mask replacement if: 

* Your mask has a one-way vent that exhausts your breath out to everyone else.

* Most bandanna face masks are not snug around the chin and let your breath out through the bottom, and the fabric is too thin to be protective of others. 

* Many people are wearing sagging, drooping and just poor fitting masks.

* Most fabric masks that are commercially sold at stores are not the minimum of 2 layers of cotton. A single layer of synthetic knit does not protect others. 

* Large people need L, XL or XXL masks, children don't fit in adult size masks.

Anderson Valley Mask Makers are willing to assist. Please contact me by private message, call my local land line at XXX-3249.

Anyone who wishes to contribute cash may, the funds will go towards supplies.

BURGERS AT THE YORKVILLE MARKET! Call in (707 894-9456) or come down and pick up the best burgers in town. In our deli case we have salads, deviled eggs, and a batch of delicious chicken enchiladas ready for you to grab and go. We also have cottage pies, and sausage with peppers and polenta in our freezer. Enjoy the beautiful summer weekend! (Lisa Walsh)

THE BLACKBERRY MAZE. The other day we received an email request for a shipment of our jams to a family in Boise. Before they moved recently, they used to buy them at the SF farmers market from our son, Cameron. The email read in part “We love your jam! We used to buy it every month at the Clement Street farmers market in San Francisco but we moved away this year. We are running out of our stockpile.” Attached was a picture of their young son with a big smirk on his face and holding a half-eaten jar of fig jam. I responded, sending our product list, thanking him for the love, and requesting he choose back-up items since many of them are sold out.

He sent his list and all but the four seedless blackberry jams were available. Since the blackberries are just ripening, Juan and I got to work in the “Blackberry Maze”.

The “Blackberry Maze” is literally that, a diabolical creation of Cameron’s originating from a small patch of Himalayan blackberry bushes growing in a boggy area at the foot of our fields. Normal people would have dug them up and used the space for crops. Instead, he propagated more vines around a wooden maze of his own design. Over several years the plants developed huge canes and in the summer when covered in leaves, flowers and fruit, it becomes impossible to see in. He spent endless hours pruning and shaping and when I was harvesting some crop or other in the nearby field, I would listen to the grandkids and their friends giggling and jabbering and daring each other to find the way out. It became so big and tall and appetizing to birds and Cam had just learned to weld, that he designed a cage of welded rebar covered with chicken wire, top to bottom, to keep the grackles from nesting in it and eating all the berries. It is huge, 54’x40’x12’ tall, and watching him and Juan put the top wires on was amazing. No one died but there was some blood!

So, Juan and I donned our elbow length thorn protection gloves and safety goggles and entered the maze, after which I wrote back to let the family know that the shipment would be delayed. Since we have no blackberry jam left, Juan and I went into the "maze" (an immense blackberry construction which I call my son’s "folly"), and picked 12 lbs which we will transform into jam for you later this week. Hold on. It's coming.”

The response was: “Wow that is incredible. Take the time you need.”

After well over an hour of picking, we brought the berries into the commercial kitchen and weighed and washed them. Steve then performed the strenuous task of deseeding by grinding the berries in the Vitamix then pushing them through a large metal cone sieve with a rubber spatula. We save the seeds to make blackberry margarita mix. When done, we had two large Cambros full for Aaron to can the next day and Steve had two sore arms and hands.

Blackberries are not the easiest thing to can, but Aaron is a fabulous canner and has the process and the art down cold. In 24 hours we went from having no jam to having a flat of the most intense, rich blackberry jam ever. It only took Cameron, Juan, Steve, Aaron, and me to produce it, a collaboration we perform daily for everything we grow here; in a fury during the main harvest season and in a more relaxed manner in the winter and early spring months. The joy comes from working together on a common goal with each of us doing what we excel at or enjoy doing, then sharing the pleasure of creating something excellent, real and nourishing. It doesn’t seem like much you might say. And it isn’t really. But it is everything.

— Nikki Auschnitt & Steve Krieg, Yorkville

A LOCAL WOMAN sent us a photo of a fire warning sign with a long list of fire prevention precautions posted at a Mendocino Redwood Co. timber harvest in the Navarro area: “If these operations are this dangerous, why are they doing it now with the high fire danger? And who’s monitoring these operations to make sure they’re done safely, much less sustainably?” 

GENTLEMAN GEORGE HOLLISTER of Comptche clarifies: “All THPs are required to post this sign, and to have a firebox with required tools. From my observation, over the years, the primary ignition source for fires from logging is from crew members. There are other known potential sources coming from equipment that can be readily addressed, but the indiscretion of a single individual is hard to control. Just because there is a sign, doesn’t mean there is an imminent threat from a fire, it means the sign has to be there to avoid a potential CalFire code violation. The person who took the photo of the sign should read it, and post the same at their home. There is some good advice there for anyone living in rural Mendocino County, whether you are a logger or not.”

THERE WAS A BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTEST MARCH Saturday afternoon in Boonville, complete with chants and a police siren that several locals mistook as actual cops patrolling the protest. The Saturday marchers were a different group from the earlier protest marchers. No reports of demonstrations or disorder from Yorkville, Philo or Navarro. (— ms)

OVERHEARD at Boont Berry Farm, young woman to distracted (or wise) young man: "Men are so into the patriarchy." He says, "Yeah, whatever."

IN THIS BUSINESS — the newspaper business — social distancing isn't a big ask. It's built in. But where we used to enjoy a steady stream of kibitzers, whole days now pass without a single visitor. I marvel at these reports from around the country of resistance to commonsense covid-stoppers like masks and keeping one's distance from one's fellow creatures, but see no resistance at all to the distancing basics here in the Anderson Valley. The one recent visitor I did have burst into my house unannounced and yelled at me for not wearing my mask!

MS. REITH, ace reporter for KZYX, is certainly correct about the Supervisors' hiding their deliberations behind Zoom. Their chambers are large enough to socially-distance, besides which few people show up in person anyway while a few tedium connoisseurs watch gavel-to-gavel via youtube. But the public's business is supposed to be conducted in public, and by eliminating in-person attendance the public is shut out.

CAMPING AT HENDY WOODS was suspended because of a significant water leak that was difficult to fix. Day use has remained open, and camping has probably resumed by now but better check.

SPEAKING of Hendy, I took a long look last week at the Navarro, gazing down from the road on the Greenwood Bridge, but it was so murky I couldn't gage the depth from up top, but from appearances it would seem to be deep enough, and apparently is deep enough since no one's died or been injured jumping into it from the bridge, as young people regularly do. I was tempted myself but wasn't dressed for it, and have never cared for forty-foot drops ever since "abandon ship drill" when I was a gyrene. We lined up to step off a diving board into the deep end of a pool at Camp Pendleton, fully clothed, left arm curled up and under the crotch. stepping off without looking down, a long drop, long enough to sting the bottoms of your feet through your boots when you hit water. Coupla guys hesitated and were shoved off, one of them hitting the water spread-eagle knocking himself out, to great guffaws all-round.

MAJOR EXCITEMENT in Fort Bragg last Friday with the grand opening of a downtown donut shop. Lots of reviews on social media, mostly good, although a couple of gourmets had some texture quibbles, and a couple more killjoys complained that some of the people lined up down the street didn't appear to be socially-distanced, as if the self-appointed covid cops knew for a fact the alleged violators were not families or conscientious pod-pals. 

STILL AND ALL, Fort Bragg donuts are up against Mendo's finest, the Boonville Donut, sold exclusively at the Redwood Drive-in, the classic no-frills American donut! 

WE ALL need it upon those dread occasions: Skunk Spray Odor Remover:

  • 1 Quart 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
  • 1/4 Cup Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Liquid Soap (Dawn liquid dish detergent works best)

You may have to lather up your pet more than once. The peroxide and baking soda neutralize the odor, the soap removes the oil that holds the smell. Be careful though, this solution might bleach hair and deck wood or other materials. It was developed by a chemistry professor at Humboldt State College in Arcata. (Ronnie James)

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