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Bird’s Eye View

Greetings one and all. If you are sitting comfortably then I shall begin. I was approached last week by a keen Valley observer who asked me if I knew why all the “original” hippies settled here in Anderson Valley, and Mendocino County in general, back in the late 60s and early 70s, and why the nouveaux hippies of subsequent generations have continued to do so. I could only respond that I thought it had something to do with the fact that there are no jobs here! Ha! Ha! Ha! And that is your joke of the week. (Or is it an observation?)

On Sunday afternoon, instead of eating a very large dead skunk on Highway 128 by Gowan’s Oak Tree, I decided to have a “cultural” afternoon and attended the Anderson Valley Historical Society’s Roundtable Discussion held on Sunday at the Grange. I was very pleased that I did. Along with about 130 other folks I was treated to a discussion lasting about an hour-and-a-half on life in the Valley in the 1930s and 1940s, as remembered by those who lived here then, most of whom still do so. Those who shared their stories with us all from the stage each deserve a mention: Clyde Price Jr., Ben Van Zandt, Catherine Nobles (Sinott), Donna Cox (Reilly), Berna McAbee (Walker), Eileen Brown (Pronsolino), Wes Smoot, Marian McAbee (Crosby), Gloria Ornbaun (Abbott), Pat Hulbert, and Eva Pardini (Holcomb). It was a most enjoyable event and to see history unfold before your eyes was both an exciting and poignant experience, I must say. Oh, and I should add that the complimentary snacks and refreshments, while not dead skunk, were quite delicious too.

With this visit to The Past clearly in my mind, what better topic for your Quotes of the Week? I think we have some good ones. Let’s start with these words from Daniel Webster (1782-1852) a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts, who said, “The past, at least, is secure.” Then there are these words from Mary Webb (1881-1927), an English romantic novelist and poet of the early 20th century: “The past is the present become invisible and mute; and because it is invisible and mute, its memoried glances and its murmurs are infinitely precious. We are tomorrow’s past.” Here are a few wise words from Edward Thomas (1878-1917), an Anglo-Welsh writer of prose and poetry, who opined, “The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet.” And, perhaps inevitably, let’s finish with this very succinct remark from the bard himself, William Shakespeare (1564-1616), “We have seen better days.” On a personal note, I must just add that, in my humble opinion, such events as the one held last weekend can teach us so much and the study of history in general plays such an important part in making the right decisions for the years ahead. I can only hope that future generations of Valley dwellers are made aware of this.

Public Service Announcements. Calendars and pens at the ready. #236: The vets from Mendocino Animal Hospital are back. They will be at The AV Farm Supply tomorrow, Thursday, February 16th from 2-3:30pm. They have asked me to inform you that you do not have to arrive early and then wait a long time; everyone showing up at anytime before 3:30pm will be seen. And while you’re there why not support our local Farm Supply with a purchase or two. Without them there’s no vet visit and it’s a great service to have on our doorstep. #237: The International Alsace Varietals Wine Festival is this weekend, Sat/Sun, Feb 18th/19th at The Fairgrounds in Boonville. Go to  for more details. #238: The 21st Annual Variety Show is coming up in a few weeks, March 9th and 10th to be precise, at The Grange on Hwy 128. Call 895-3580 to sign up and you don’t have to be a musician to do so! #239L Talking of The Grange, their monthly meeting is next Tuesday, Feb 21st at 7pm.

Topics and Valley events under discussion this week at The Three-Dot Lounge — “Moans, Groans, Good Thoughts, and Rampant Rumors” from my favorite gathering place in the Valley.

…The AV Film Festival Board members enjoyed a drink or two with several 3-Dot regulars in celebration of their recent very successful event which, they inform us, made a healthy $1869 in profits. This will be distributed to the AV Senior Center ($500), the AV Animal Rescue ($500), the AV High Film Class ($400), The Grange ($169), and one scholarship for a high school senior (to be announced) towards his or her college education ($300). Ya gotta like that.

…A 3-Dot regular informs us that he was witness to an altercation on Gschwend Road last Saturday afternoon which saw one very drunk man fall over twice without being hit once! The inebriated man had been confronted by an angry couple who had apparently had enough of the drunk’s frequent angry and abusive tirades at the end of their driveway, which often ended in threats to themselves and their dogs and the throwing of beer cans over the fence, not to mention a number of abusive phone calls to their home. When confronted by the couple, the drunk fell over backwards, merely as a result of being stared at and verbally rebuked from a few inches away. That often seems to be the case with such folks. Sad but true. His glasses fell off and after being assisted in getting up, he was offered the spectacles back. He took a swipe at snatching them from the outstretched hand but with his judgment clearly impaired he missed and his momentum led him to go crashing to the ground once again. The couple did not help him get up a second time.

…Another regular was in SF this past weekend and he bumped into an old friend, former Mayor Willie Brown, who told him that there will be a real surprise in store for President Obama when he comes to town later this month. You might recall that just a couple of weeks ago, when he was in Harlem, Obama stepped out of his professional character when he sang the opening bars to Al Green's hit “Let's Stay Together.” It was a rare glimpse of the guy hanging loose. Well, his San Francisco host, Robert Mailer Anderson, nephew of the AVA’s Supreme Leader, Bruce Anderson, has lined up the Reverend Al himself, for the president's fundraiser to be held at the spacious home of Robert and wife Nicola Miner on Pacific Heights. Who knows, maybe Al and The Prez will sing a duet? For over $30,000 you can be a guest there to see it.

…”Sheep loose on Anderson Valley Way; heading for downtown Boonville!” Not for long with lifelong Valley shepherd Sam Prather and by-passer/helper Nick Schwartz on the job. It seems that during the strong winds last week, a tree had fallen onto a short stretch of the fence surrounding the field at The Big Barn just north of Boonville, where a dozen or so sheep are kept. On Thursday evening, two of them “made a break for it” through the new-found gap and were approaching Highway 128 and threatening to go into town for a night out — to cause havoc at the Trivia Quiz at Lauren’s Restaurant, some people believe. Remarkably, a passer-by recognized one of them as “Gail,” a sheep she had raised from birth and had given to the local shepherd with that small flock at the nearby Big Barn field. She explained this to Sam, who also lived nearby and the Master Shepherd, with help from Nick and Sam’s sheep dog, returned the two miscreants to their pasture before dark. Sam, who has been in the sheep business all of his life, could not help but chuckle, “Gail? Gail! Sheep with names! This business is in more trouble than I thought it was!”

…Finally this week, it seems that one of my readers is delusional and under the impression that The Old Buzzard, in his comments a couple of weeks ago about Cycked, the group striving to get bike lanes around these parts and beyond, was against their idea. I read the column again and one would hope that even the least discerning of readers would not interpret comments by Buzzard such as “the idea behind this latest fundraiser is a good one and I wish them well” and “one hopes that the community as a whole is not indifferent to such an idea,” as being negative remarks on the group’s plans. He clearly supports the group’s idea, but I guess some people have difficulty understanding the written word these days, particularly if those words present reasonable views that may be contrary to their own. While supporting the premise, the Buzzard wisely brought up some realistic concerns with the plans but I guess certain people around here cannot cope with such things. In this particular case, the person seems to be “cycling through cloud cuckoo land,” trying desperately to remain removed from reality. Good luck with that.

Until we talk again, Keep the Faith; be careful out there; stay out of the ditches; think good thoughts; and may your god go with you. Oh, and of course, one final request, “Let us prey.” Humbly yours, Turkey Vulture. PS. Contact me with words of support/abuse through the Letters Page or at PPS. Hi, Silver Swan – behaving yourself? Hopefully not!

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