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Bird’s Eye View

Greetings one and all. If you are sitting comfortably then I shall begin. So how was your Christmas? Did the new sweater fit? Did it still fit after dinner? Did you keep the receipt for your nephew’s broken toy? Why was Uncle Stan so drunk and was that the reason Grandpa was rude to him? Why did Cousin Betty go for a nap and not return? Who was that long-haired slacker that teenage niece Tiffany was talking to on the doorstep? Why was Aunt Jenny crying? Did you ever find the new puppy that went missing? And to make matters even more worrisome and confusing, next up it’s the Amateur’s Night Out of the Year – New Year’s Eve! Try to enjoy yourselves, and if someone is behaving badly then I suggest you just smile and walk away. You know it makes sense.

Speaking of parties and drinking, please be careful. Get your designated driver organized and stay away from the ‘Train Wrecks’ (Tequila and Whisky) – that’s just a silly idea! Which segues perfectly into the first Quote of the Week, this one from Miguel De Cervantes, author of ‘Don Quixote’ and Spain’s greatest literary figure: “Drink moderately, for drunkenness neither keeps a secret, nor observes a promise.” Wise words of advice but not easy to follow for many of us!

And here’s a story for your hangover reading pleasure and perhaps to give you a pick-me-up knowing that there are always people ‘suffering’ more than you are. It comes from my #1 fan, “Perturbed of Philo, California” who writes, “Dear Turkey Vulture, Happy Holidays to you, Hummingbird, and all the gang up at The Nest. Let me share with you a very brief yet moving Christmas anecdote about one specific memory that my family always shares over the holidays. My great Uncle Ernest was born in 1908, and he had all his own teeth until the day he died. This isn't as impressive as it might at first seem, however — he died aged sixteen when he choked on a turkey bone on Christmas Day 1924.”

Public Service Announcements; Calendars and pens at the ready. #521: Useful numbers at this time of year. For road conditions and closures call 1-800-gas-road (427-7623) and for power problems and outages call 1-800-PGE (743)-5000. I just thought you should know. #522. As mentioned here last week, the Vets from Mendocino Animal Hospital have cancelled their planned visit to the Valley for tomorrow, Dec 27. They will be here on two Thursdays next month — January 10 and 24. #523. The Senior Center remains closed for the holidays for another week; re-opening on Thursday, Jan 3rd. #524. Are there any ‘proper’ New Year’s Eve parties open to the public this year? I think I should have been told! Sure, there is Bert’s lovely annual event, and various private or semi-private events, some of which I will attend as an invitee or simply gatecrash with a bottle of Roederer L’Ermitage Rosé, but I am unaware of any that the masses can just turn up at. Perhaps I hanging out with the wrong people? #525. As mentioned last week, the Valley’s two Crab Feeds are coming up!! Yes, folks, a couple of the most popular events of the year are just around the corner and both will certainly sell out. The first, to benefit the Senior Center, is as always on the 3rd Saturday — January 19, followed just two weeks later, a week earlier than usual, on Saturday, Feb 2, by the event to benefit the Catholic Church organized by the irrepressible Gloria Ross. A ticket for either (or both!) would be a great Christmas gift so for the first feed call 895-3609, and the second it’s 895-3071.

The Three-Dot Lounge is closed for the holidays but that did not deter a few regulars from coming up to The Nest to take part in a debate of vital importance. As many regular readers will be aware, every year I give out awards for various ‘important’ aspects of culinary life here in the Valley: Best Fries, Best Classic Spicy Wings, Best Strawberries, Best Meat Lovers Deli Sandwich, and Best Burger. This year the decision on the latter item on this list was the most difficult to date and so I opened up the debate to various 3-Dot regulars. In the end I just had to go with a three-way tie between Libby’s succulent masterpiece; the perfectly prepared delight at Lauren’s Restaurant; and the one which may well have changed my whole ‘burger philosophy’ – the stupendous Buffalo Burger at The Buckhorn. Let the cows live; eat the buffalo! If the year ahead looks uncertain, at least here in the Valley we can put our concerns aside and always enjoy a great burger. And ya gotta like that!

From our 3-Dot regular, The Old Buzzard, who incidentally does not eat burgers from the local restaurants, preferring sheep’s eyes, squirrel livers, and deer testicles, comes another in his insightful series ‘The Approach of the Apocalypse.’ Buzzard reports, “Not for the first time around here, and not for the last I’m sure, the conversation at The 3-Dot turned to the ‘luminaries’ who live here in the Valley. After skipping quite quickly through names of current residents such as the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker (‘The Color Purple’), accomplished actor Rene Auberjonois, and Nobel Laureate Kary Mullis, inevitably the less celebrated but perhaps equally famous, or rather infamous, names of those who at one point lived here were discussed in greater depth. Many readers not from this area may not be aware of this but perhaps they should be told that the list includes convicted killer Charles Manson (of the Manson Family), formerly of Gschwend Road in the Christine Woods region; Jim Jones of People’s Temple fame and a member of the AVHS faculty in the late sixties; convicted sex offender and kidnapper Kenneth Parnell, resident of Mountain View Road in the early seventies; serial killer Charles Lake, commune-dweller in Philo in the early eighties (just before embarking on his diabolical murder spree with Charles Ng in Calaveras County); and ‘Tree Frog’ Johnson, formerly of Boonville in the seventies, another infamous child abductor/abuser who befriended a number of Valley folks during his time here. I mention this because it is a topic that quite often surfaces in discussions around here but it is clearly a topic that should not be made light of it. Obviously these days the Valley is an exceptionally friendly, generally harmonious, and frequently community-minded place to live. However, these former Valley People, the perpetrators of some of the most heinous crimes imaginable, all once lived here and that fact is a small but unique part of the Valley’s history, albeit in a way that some choose to ignore. I’m sure this information does not appear in the Chamber of Commerce’s literature although I imagine if it did, and ‘Tours of Evil People’s Homes’ became a tourist attraction around here, then that really would indicate the imminent Approach of the Apocalypse. I’m just sayin’.

Inappropriate banter for the New Year? Oh, dear, have I upset somebody? I’ll guess I should get my coat and leave. So until we talk again, Keep the Faith; be careful out there; stay out of the ditches; think good thoughts; may your god go with you. And all the very best in health and happiness for 2013. The final request, “Let us prey.” Humbly yours, Turkey Vulture. Contact me with words of support/abuse either through the Letters Page or at PS. Hi, Silver Swan – behaving yourself? Hopefully not!

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