MIKE LANGLEY, 60, has died. The popular, long-time resident of the Anderson Valley, died from a heart attack at a Chico restaurant. He had been in failing health since 2008 when he suffered a stroke. Mike had been living part-time in Butte County, part-time at his old place on Anderson Valley Way, Boonville. Mike and Patti Langley, and their daughter Beth, were my neighbors for thirty years. Good neighbors, too, undoubtedly better neighbors than my raucous crew deserved. We attended their family gatherings, they attended ours. Mike was a wonderful raconteur whose stories about The Valley's many vivid personalities were always fascinating. I also knew Mike's parents, Denver and Zola, for many years. Mike's passing is truly a death in the family, a death also felt by many people beyond the Anderson Valley who remember Mike and Patty's always witty Trading Time show on KZYX. A memorial service will be announced.
GRANGE MASTER GREG KROUSE: “The AV Grange has got its hands in the dough again, or at least it will this Sunday at the Local Organic Pancake breakfast from 8:30 to 11AM. BLTs were a success and will continue. The offer remains: musicians eat for a few tunes as do poets with a few poems. There are whole farm plates (3 cakes, bacon, eggs and drink) and Mom servings (smaller portions) for kids, Moms and seniors with reasonable rates. A great place to start Sunday or meet up with pals. Often very nice music as well.”
DEPUTIES WALKER AND ESPINOZA often get called out of The Valley to cover the more active crime areas on the Mendocino Coast and the Ukiah area. You can tell when they've spent a couple of days exclusively at home because there are a flurry of arrests of the usual suspects, and the tweeker community goes back into hiding. In the past few days, Kenneth Bloyd has been arrested for possession of methamphetamine, his brother Ricky popped for being under the influence of methamphetamine. Josh Bennett has been encouraged to relocate, and was recently spotted in Fort Bragg.
VERY NICE PIECE on the Madrones in Sunday's Chronicle, Philo's very own little Mediterranean-like complex of tasting rooms, four “opulent guest suites,” and Sun and Cricket, proprietor Jim Roberts' eclectic collection of garden stuff. Just met Jim himself who joked that he'd lived here for twenty-five years but our first encounter. Charming guy, and I really do have to get out more. I haven't visited that property since Brian Blumberg was running his plumbing business out of the bunker-like green concrete structure that sat at that site for years. Mr. Roberts has, to say the least, transformed the place.
COME CAST your vote in the 2013 local tomato tasting at the Boonville Farmers Market this Saturday, September 9th! Be a judge of this year's best tomato variety from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. by tasting delicious entries from Brock Farms (last year's winner and the reigning 10-year champs), the AV Community Garden, Philo Hill, the McEwen Family Farm and more. With music from Leslie and Michael Hubbert and the bountiful harvests of our local farmers at this time of year, this is one market you do not want to miss!
SCANT as they are, here's the accident reports for the week: A drunk, not identified, severed a power pole near Jack's Valley Store Friday night, and a head-on collision between a small pick-up and a big pick-up near Meyer Family Winery, Yorkville, miraculously injured no one.
COACH DAN KUNY'S 2013 football Panthers got off to a roaring last Friday in Laytonville, knocking off the host Warriors, 74-14.
FROM ALL ACCOUNTS, Michelle Hutchins, the new principal at Boonville High School, is off to a great start. Much enthusiasm from students who, after all, are the point of the place, and 8 new teachers, the whole of it, you could say, creating a whole new vibe of the positive type. A smart, energetic high school principal makes all the educational difference in the world, and we at last seem to have one.
THE FAB ICE CREAM SOCIAL, Terry Ryder writes of Yorkville's annual bash: “Attending the Yorkville Ice Cream Social on Labor Day I recognized Alex Farber and Citlaly Correa smiling and efficient doling out the delicious homemade food and drinks. I was sitting with my mom eating five of the fifteen different salads available- including a spicy black bean/mango/red onion combo and a really garlicky Cesar which were both tops. Next to us were two more high schoolers Gaby McDonald and Julia Brock with Gaby's mom Jan Pallazola also enjoying the food and hubbub. Later I saw Julia at the book sale. Knowing that she is a cartoon animator I showed her a quirky book I was buying filled with wacky vintage characters. The highlight of the event was the entrance of Yorkville's new quick response firetruck “7464” under arching sprays of fire hoses in a true water salute. Very poetic and reminiscent of the crossed sword tunnels formed for ceremonial occasions down through the ages- very nice touch. In attendance were Fire Chief Colin Wilson who congratulated Yorkvillians for raising and contributing 112 thousand dollars towards fire fighting equipment in the past several years alone. Colin is slated to retire this in November (big party Oct. 6th) and his successor Andreas Avila is scheduled to begin on October 1st. Joanie Clark long time loyal Fire Department and CSD secretary will also be retiring in December. Congratulations to the Yorkville Community for putting on a really fun and fine event with the added benefit of supporting the indispensable Yorkville Volunteer Fire Department. I’m uncertain who all the real worker bees were but I know that Valerie Hanelt did a huge amount of work to put together the book sale, Victoria Flood assisted her with sales. Hard worker Peter Gordon was everywhere and where he wasn't Tina Walters was. Kay Jablonski did a lot and board members Lisa Bauer and Diane Taylor must also be commended for their part. As an ongoing sound track to all this action were Sue Marcott on piano, Kevin Owens on guitar and Steve Derwinski on Sax. Go Yorkville.”
IT HASN'T RAINED, really rained, since December. January through March were dry. Every stream in The Valley, including the three large enough to qualify as rivers, is down to a trickle.
THIS ALARMING warning has been distributed by the Humboldt County Health Department, which is “urging users of the Mad River to avoid contact with algae in the lower Mad River in the area above the Blue Lake Bridge and below the Mad River Hatchery. This week, a dog wading in this area suffered symptoms consistent with those of ingestion of toxic blue-green algae. The dog survived and is recovering. A blue-green algae bloom can present a health hazard to those swimming or playing in the river, especially children and pets. We recommend that people stay out of the water where significant algae are present, and keep their dogs out of this part of the river at this time. Other areas that are warm, slow, stagnant and muddy are to be avoided, especially areas with floating algal mats. DHHS is aware of 11 dog deaths which may have been caused by blue-green algae poisoning since 2001.”
A CORRESPONDENT on this week’s letters page says our Navarro River is running low and toxic because of vineyard chemicals, but I've asked people who might know if they think Anderson Valley's streams are ill in the way that some of Humboldt County's rivers are ill. (HumCo's public waterways are tested by their Health Department, and their health department is warning people to keep their dogs and children out of streams where there are algae blooms.) Dave Severn dives into the Navarro every morning. He says there is indeed plenty of algae blooms, and says the water is quite murky. “I'd like to be able to say the wineries are guilty but I don't think so. And I don't think this algae to chemical algae.”
Bill Allen writes: “I can only tell you what I've observed from the Greenwood Rd. Bridge, and points northward toward the mouth. At the end of June the river looked more like one would expect to see in late August or September: the flow was very low, slow, and there were already large algae blooms. In addition to growing in fairly warm, slow moving water, algae blooms can be an indicator of high nitrate concentration, i.e., fertilizer run-off. Unless someone will go down there and test random samples from various spots along the river, who knows? Of course, it looks even worse today.”
WHO REALLY KNOWS how the rivers of Mendocino County are being affected by a long dry spell like this year. So many more people have legal draws on the Russian, the Navarro and our many lesser streams that the cumulative effect of them is impossible to know. All of them occur in a context of no monitoring. Most of these neo-straws in the streams have the riparian right to go on sucking up the water until at least mid-March, the end of the rainy season. But this year, since it hasn't rained, really rained, since December of 2012, with vineyards and who knows how many dope grows continuing to help themselves to whatever water is left, one has to fear for the long-term well-being of the County's watersheds. Vineyards aren't supposed to store stream water in the hundreds of ponds they've built, maybe thousands of ponds by now, but who can tell where the water in these ponds comes from? And the marijuana planters, of course, operate outside all concern for the environmental effects of their grows.
SUPERVISOR McCOWEN, that rare elected person who spends much of his off time cleaning up debris from inland streams, says, “I am not aware of any routine testing of the creeks or rivers. I believe Public Health tests some of the ocean beaches and estuaries but not rivers.” McCowen, along with Supervisor Pinches, is presumed to believe that pot grows present the biggest hazard to the County's rivers and streams. They've both said that before.
ANOTHER PERSON close to groups that keep watch on local streams says that from what she can gather from “researchers doing studies in the watershed and from agency folks, that besides too much sediment, too high of temperatures, and too low of flows, there are ways that the river is showing some encouraging signs of health — we still have wild runs of Steelhead and coho salmon and researchers that recently stayed at Rivers Bend on the Navarro were commenting on how healthy the river looked to them(despite the low flows) with all of the caddisfly larvae that they were seeing. Caddisfly larvae are good indicators of water quality as they have a very low tolerance of pollution. Lower down in the Navarro system, with the bar closed all season, it would be good to have more studies of the water quality. But, I can tell you that nutrient and chemical load has not been identified as a problem in the Navarro.”
ON THE SUBJECT of water and water quality, the UC Extension people are sponsoring a walking tour of water saving secrets led by County Inland Master Gardeners. “Ukiah neighbors will share their tips and techniques for having a beautiful yard with a lower water bill. View and learn about legal grey water systems, drip irrigation, mulching, and water thrifty plants. You can grow herbs, fruit trees, flowers, and vegetables using less water. Meet Saturday, September 21, 9am at the Ukiah United Methodist. The tour will last until 11:30 and covers about 1.5 miles. This event is co-sponsored by the City of Ukiah Water Utility. Contact Louisa 707-485-1290 for more information.
THE SAME WRITER raising the alarm about the current condition of the Navarro says some local Hispanic kids are being taught at home to hate Whitey. I've asked the young, and I've asked the not-so-young among local Hispanics about it. They say they haven't heard of any local families who might be propagating this particular form of mental illness in their children. I seriously doubt that anybody is. Seems to me that we all get along pretty well these days, but I can remember when the first immigrants, circa '75, were often on the receiving end of crumb bum behavior from the more primitive sectors of the gringo community, but that's long over, not that there isn't an episode now and then. If there was any kind of racism prevalent in the schools we'd be the first to hear about it (and expose it.) If you've got names and specific episodes, we're all ears.
HUGE CROWD at Dave Evans' Navarro Store Saturday evening to hear the great bluesman, Charlie Musselwhite. Charlie himself tweeted, “I was making some noise and Dave said it was the biggest turnout he's ever had. There was a crowd of smiling dancers of all ages. Lots of old hips. Everybody happy.”
THE EMENDAL CHORALE, based in Willits, will be singing songs of peace in the Mendocino County Fair parade in Boonville on Sunday September 15th at noon. Everyone is welcome to join us, to either walk or ride with our entry “1,000 Grandmothers for Peace” You may bring a large picture of your grandchild or grandmother to carry. Inspired by the Holly Near song “A Thousand Grandmothers” we want to “send in a thousand grandmothers, they will surely volunteer” with all their wisdom and love, to bring peace to the world. Check out www.emendalchorale.org for a video of our 2012 Willits Fourth of July Parade entry, or for more information. Meet at Anderson Valley High School in Boonville at 11am on September 15th. Wear a hat for the sun and bring water. There will be a truck and trailer for those who would rather ride. For more information call Dobbe at 367-5946. Grandfathers, grandchildren, anyone who yearns for peace, you are all welcome too!
JERRY YOUNG of Mendocino County's basketball Youngs, and the son of our very own Jim Young, is now a senior at Linfield College, Oregon. Jerry is majoring in mass communication and is now the play-by-play guy for Linfield's volleyball, basketball and softball games, already having racked up a 100 broadcasts.
MAYTE GUERRERO writes: “Just realized I had a typo in the cheerleading article last week. It’s Corey Morse, not Corby Morse.”
A RECENT STORY in the Ukiah Daily Journal described several small farm ventures in the Ukiah, Potter and Anderson valleys, including that of Nikki Ausschnitt and Steve Krieg, owners of Petit Teton in Yorkville. We learn that Nikki and Steve were recently hiking in the Sierras where they climbed Mount Langley (14,000 feet) “and there was not a speck of snow to be seen anywhere. No snow on Whitney, no snow on any mountain in their view of the lower Sierra range. Ausschnitt says, 'This is the first year it's been like this; we've always previously seen patches of snow in the higher elevations on the northern side of the mountains.' “They are lucky to have water at all in Yorkville, notorious for being dry, for their five-acre farm.
'We have four pages of Excel spreadsheets guiding our rotating watering schedule. We have the main field, the lower field, the raised beds, the hoop house, the greenhouse, chickens, pigs; they all require water. We have drip on everything. Our 100-tree orchard is young and requires a great deal of water. The watering schedule tells us how much we water every individual row. We have 32 rows in our main field each 80 feet long. We are constantly adjusting the schedule to add to or eliminate certain crops. Whatever rainwater falls on our hill is ours; then it goes to Rancheria Creek. Normally, in October we are low; this year we are running low in August. The wells are not replenishing adequately. We have had three years of low rainfall; you cannot create water; it's only what falls into the watershed. It's scary this year. It's obvious to me; it's climate change -- drought here, floods in Missouri. I don't obsess about this but if there's not enough water, we won't be here.'“