THERE ARE SOME big weekends in Boonville — fair time, rastafest, the annual beer party, a variety of wine events, and so. But the first weekend in December is right up there with the rest, what with the 56th annual Redwood Classic Basketball Tournament and the Unity Club's Holiday Bazaar in the Apple Hall. The basketball can be quite good with strong teams from Hoopa, Cloverdale and that Bay Area powerhouse, Branson, once upon a time an exclusive girl's school among whose graduates was Julia Child, the famous chef. Branson, based in the posh community of Ross in Marin, went co-ed some time ago, and then began handing out scholarships to kids who just happened to combine scholarly aptitudes with superior basketball abilities. So then, you can take in some hoops then dribble yourself on down to the Apple Hall for the Unity Club's bazaar offers a startling variety of homemade goods, edible and decorative, perfect as Christmas gifts.
THE ARCTIC chill that set in Tuesday morning makes the nighttime Christmas lights illuminating so many Boonville homes somehow more necessary, their coruscating splashes of vivid colors against the dark lifting the spirits of us all.
LOOK WHO'S 80! Happy birthday, Bill Holcomb, from the Holcomb, Toohey and Pardini families, and right behind them the entire Anderson Valley community. Everyone should look so good at 60, and this guy's finishing off his eighth decade!
A NICE LADY called Tuesday morning. Yes, we do get calls from not-so-nice ladies, but civility is the norm as it was in this case. The nice lady was looking for information on the “Velvet Sisters,” after whom her Hartford Court Winery has named a pinot noir made from grapes grown near Navarro. She wondered if I might know of the real Velvet Sisters of Anderson Valley, of whom vague memories whisper down through the mists of time in a reference to local women, circa World War One, who came back from a trip to British Columbia clad in expensive velvet dresses. Given the isolation of the Anderson Valley in the early twentieth century, the slightest departure from the ordinary, especially as it occurred with women, instantly became big local news. I thought perhaps the Velvet Sisters could have been of more recent vintage, stylish hippies maybe. So I did a quick poll and found that there's a new cheese at Pennyroyal Farms called “The Velvet Sisters,” and several respondents said the term rang faint bells, all of them musical. No one was able to identify women who went by The Velvet Sisters. But the thought of three 1910 Anderson Valley farm girls freeing themselves from their daily rural drudgery for a romantic journey to far away Vancouver is the most satisfying.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES: Ukiah Unified, beginning in January, will offer dinner and take home snacks “to provide increased food security to children in at-risk schools.” Of which Ukiah qualifies as one, as does every other district in Mendocino County except, perhaps, the Mendocino School District. Ukiah's school district isn't entirely disinterested here; they'll make a few bucks on the program but, like the food stamp program that is crucial to the 40 million Americans who are also “food insecure,” the late afternoon meals will feed Ukiah's “food insecure” young people a third daily meal.
COLIN WILSON may be retired as The Valley's fire chief, but he's already pulling a full shift as an ambulance volunteer, further proof that a good man just keeps on doing good.
PG&E'S tree trimming along Anderson Valley Way is more like denuding that stretch of road than a mere trim. It'll be a couple of years for the trees to get back to their welcoming rural fullness especially along the hundred yards bordering the Tebbutts' place.
MIKE 'FLICK' McDONALD has led Boonville's girl volleyballers to their fourth consecutive North Coast Section Division 6 championship. McDonald, a teacher at Boonville Elementary, will retire after 30 coaching seasons. The most recent championship came at the expense of Rincon Valley Christian here in Boonville. AV finished with a 26-2 record, 12-0 in the North Central League III. Lead players included Heather and Chelsea Teague, Juana Manriquez, Stephany Garcia, Danielle Andersen, and Alex Farber.
THE TAHJA FAMILY is proud to announce the birth of the fifth generation on the family ranch in Comptche. Born on November 9, 2013 River Kenneth Browning-Tahja weighed 9 pounds 8 ounces and was 21 inches long. Proud parents are Fern Tahja and Brian Browning of Caspar and Comptche. Prouder grandparents are David and Katy Tahja of Comptche, and Renee Brown of Black Canyon City AZ and Charles Davis of Portland, Oregon. The new Tahja-Browning family plans to build a house on the old home place next year.
CINDY WILDER Holiday Dinner at the Philo Grange on Sun Dec 8, we still need 1 turkey baker, 1 meat carver, 1 server, 1 greeter, and some dining room cleanup about 7:30. Thanks!
ALARMED LOCALS wonder why the Navarro appears to be running black as it wends its way beneath the Greenwood Bridge. Opinions vary. One guy says it's because of the mushroom compost pot growers use as fertilizer, but there aren't big grows, or even many small ones, along the Greenwood stretch of the river. Another guy says there's “a lotta algae on the river bottom that makes the water look black, but the water's fine.” A lady river watcher says the river water has been tested and the tests came back with evidence of non-life threatening contamination, which is omni-present at all times of the year.
IF YOU'RE looking for a Christmas tree from a local source, and local is where you should be looking, look no farther than the Anderson Valley Farm Supply in Philo. A wide variety of stocking stuffers for the holidays also available. 895-3884.
ARLENE GUEST, fighting off a life threatening affliction, is moving north to live with her mother in Medford, Oregon. (One-on-one with a life threatener, put your money on Arlene.) A long-time resident of the Anderson Valley, Arlene, for years now, has almost singlehandedly kept central Boonville trash-free. Every morning, even in the most daunting weather, we see Arlene faithfully picking up after the previous day's consumerist indulgences. Her volunteer work as Boonville's groundskeeper is the kind of large community benefit we won't notice until she stops doing it, and the public areas of town again become littered and unsightly. Arlene, not so incidentally, has also spent many mornings clearing debris from beneath the bridge over Anderson Creek to Mountain View Road, an unsung task that should have been undertaken by the high school kids responsible for most of the litter, litter strewn in a stream that at least in theory supports steelhead and salmon. We will miss Arlene and her devotion to our dusty little town, and we'll miss just as much her bracingly candid commentary.
WE'LL ALSO MISS Anel's Restaurant, Anel of the perfect smile who goes with it. Anel's will close at the end of the month, another small business unable to afford central Boonville's rents.
SHERIFF'S LOG: On the week, not much crime in the Anderson Valley, testament to the work of resident deputies, Craig Walker and Luis Espinoza who, like Santa Claus, know who's been naughty, who's been nice. The two deputies' effectiveness here means they spend much of their duty time in Ukiah and other of the County's crime hotspots. Last week, we had a bad check at AV Market intercepted by an alert clerk, unspecified vandalism on Indian Creek Road, a burglary on Anderson Valley Way, and a certain Mr. Mendoza, 23, of Philo, arrested for misdemeanor public intoxication.
RAW TV, a British television production studio, is producing a new reality show. They're looking for “TV-colorful” loggers to sign on to a three-month job in Siberia. We thought immediately of Dan Kuny, a logger who looks the part and is among the most colorful guys you'll meet on or off television. The guy's a walking reality show.
A POT PERSON responds to the ongoing argument about driving under the influence of marijuana: “As someone who has smoked it since the 60s to date, I’m going to say that MJ is not safe for driving. If you're stoned enough to feel stoned, that's too stoned to drive. I believe you drive slower, but better response time is ridiculous. That being said, I agree that cellphones are a threat, but far greater? Come on. Texting yes, talking no. Now, comparing MJ to alcohol. No question alcohol is a far greater danger. The bottom line is, there are things that are more dangerous, but, MJ is not safe.”