Greetings one and all. If you are sitting comfortably then I shall begin. As I am sure nobody is aware, in two weeks, on these very pages, the 400th Turkey Vulture column will appear! Obviously there will be parades and celebrations throughout the western world, or at least the western end of Anderson Valley up at The Nest. In anticipation of this event (and with little else to report on this week), I thought it might be mildly interesting to re-print a few observations taken from that very first column. It appeared in the AVA on November 24, 2004, and it would seem that for as much change as we have seen over the past decade, many things remain the same.
Valley dwellers and those beyond. As I travel in and around the beautiful Anderson Valley I am able to observe all sorts of weird and wonderful goings-on from my bird's eye view. Many sightings are strange yet true and my interpretations of them may well appear cruel but hopefully fair and just. You be the judge.
Just this past week I was witness to a delightful Monday evening at the local hostelry, The Buckhorn Saloon. As always the beers were excellent and this was not just the opinion of those who produce them. The AV Brewery Crew, who were there in force, but also those of many others who were in attendance. There was much eating, drinking and merry-making as Monday Night Football played on the TVs. And, to complement the ales, the bar provided free snacks including some delicious bacon and cheese on potato skins and plates of spicy nachos. A fine time was had by all, added to by a smiling face behind the bar. always a pleasant bonus. Well done to owner Diana Charles and the Gang, thanks for a fun evening.
The following day, I stopped by The Farm Supply to pick up some animal supplies and keep my appointment for my aging and injured dog with Dr. Katy Summers from the Mendocino Animal Hospital. She, or one of her fellow vets, is at this venue almost every Tuesday afternoon (2-3.30pm; call to confirm) and a marvelous job they do too! It is a vital service to many people in the Valley and the care, knowledge, and genuine concern of Katy and the other vets are second to none. Their cause is aided and abetted by the animal-loving Nancy and Dave Gowan who do a splendid job of their own in owning and operating the Farm Supply and should be thanked for providing this venue for the vets to perform their magic.
As I made my way to the coast along Highway 128 on a rainy day a couple of weeks ago, I and many others found ourselves hindered in the desire to drive at a safe but efficient 45 mph by a “stranger in a strange land” (a tourist) who insisted on a 25 mph speed. He was in a nifty little sports car and being right behind him I could make out his middle-aged appearance chattering away to a much younger woman at his side in the passenger seat. The road was slick and overtaking somewhat perilous yet as we passed numerous turnouts he refused to pull over and I watched as he continued to regale his “friend” with no doubt fascinating tales. Finally, with seven cars behind me I had to make a move and on a stretch of road where visibility into the distance was clear I made my move. As I went by I gave him my old “vulture” stare and a look of incredulity. Predictably, not wishing to be “questioned” in front of the friend, the man “bravely” flipped me off! What is it with these folks who, while they are entitled to drive at any speed they wish, seem to think that everyone else has to. and then when their annoying behavior is pointed out to them they react in this way? As I often say, to those few who listen, the road is a place where one is often thrown into some sort of confrontational interaction with people one would never normally have anything to deal with in one's daily routine.
Last Sunday afternoon, a good friend of mine and I were ruminating about ruminants (i.e., thinking deeply about sheep) as we relaxed on a hilltop above Yorkville surveying the valley below. He clearly had a topic of some concern on his mind and as we each popped open a can of Guinness he turned to me and said,” TV (his short for Turkey Vulture), have you ever wondered why they call them sheep-herders or shepherds when they actually work with flocks of sheep not herds?” Before I could come up with some sort of witty reply he added, “I guess “sheep flockers” was never going to stick.” He is a wise man.
Election hangover. Hanging out the other day in my nest high above the Valley, while still finding myself somewhat astonished by the actual election results and Bush’s re-election, I was not at all surprised to hear certain viewpoints from those entrusted with the upcoming four years of leadership in this country. Now I do not wish to get too political in my musings, and I rarely will, but some things just have to be commented on. For instance, the new senator for Oklahoma has called for not just the outlawing of abortion but for the death penalty for doctors who break such a law. Another new senator, from South Carolina, has said single mothers and homosexuals should not teach in schools. And a third new senator, from South Dakota, is a creationist and no doubt looks forward to the day when such theories appear in schoolbooks. Whatever your beliefs, surely these extreme convictions are no way to mend a wounded and divided country and one can only hope that the inevitable attempts to introduce such radical conservative social policies into law are unsuccessful. But what do I know? I'm just a simple Turkey Vulture in the country with Valley “stuff” to prey upon.
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Ahh, that was fun. Onward. Public Service Announcements. Calendars and pens at the ready. #689. The AV Historical Society’s annual meeting at The Grange is on Sunday, March 23 at 1pm. This year’s program will feature a short talk by Valerie Hanelt about the cemeteries in the Valley and will be followed with a presentation in photographs and words by Valley historian Wes Smoot and his co-author Steve Sparks on their upcoming book. “Anderson Valley Buildings and Homes. Then and Now.” #690. The Vets will not be making any more visits to the Valley this month. However, they will be here on two Thursdays next month, April 10 and 24. #691. The Community Singing at Lauren’s is this coming Saturday, March 29 at 8.30pm. Go along and sing-along. you will know lots of the songs. I guarantee it! #692. The Winemaker dinner to benefit the AV Housing Association is also on Saturday, March 29. This will be at Scharffenberger Cellars at 6.30pm. Call 895-3525 for more information.
Here’s the menu for the Community lunches and dinners over the next week at the Senior Center in the Veterans Hall in Boonville. The Center asks for a $6 donation from seniors for both lunches and dinners and charges $7 for Non-seniors for lunches and $8 for the dinners. Tomorrow, Thursday, March 20, the lunch, always served by Marti Titus and her crew at 12.15pm, will be Sausage Skillet, Pasta, Cabbage, Apple Spinach Salad, Quinoa Salad, and Triple Layer Mud Pie for dessert. Then next Tuesday, March 25th, the dinner menu, served at 6pm, will feature Chicken Enchiladas, Rice, Refried Beans, Corn, Orange Gelatin, Salsa, Tabbouleh Salad, and Dessert Nachos. Remember, all ages are welcome! Hope to see you there.
Moving quickly on to a few of the topics and Valley events under discussion this week at The Three-Dot Lounge. yes it’s “Moans, Groans, Good Thoughts, and Rampant (and surprisingly reliable) Rumors” from my favorite gathering place in the Valley.
…I was among the 60 or so folks who attended last Saturday’s graveside ceremony in Boonville in honor of the late Joyce Murray. Grieving husband Ross was surrounded by family members and friends and was in surprisingly good spirits despite the inner grieving that is undoubtedly going on at the loss of his “best friend.” I know he will miss her terribly and her passing is a loss to many local folks too.
…The St. Patrick’s Day celebration dinner at the Fairgrounds in Boonville on Saturday evening to benefit the AV Senior Center was a very enjoyable event with over 100 folks in attendance. The food was good and somewhat Irish-like, the drinks flowed steadily, and the cake auction a big success, ably called by Auctioneer W. Dan with Robert Lindsay’s “world famous” mud-pie fetching the highest bid of $50. And may I just add that the efforts put in by the Senior Center Board month after month are second to none, and one hopes the seniors appreciate them!
I’m outtahere. Until we talk again. Keep the Faith; be careful out there; stay out of the ditches; think good thoughts. A final request: “Let us prey.” Humbly yours, Turkey Vulture. PS. Contact me with words of support/abuse through the Letters Page or at firstname.lastname@example.org. PPS. On the sheep, Grace. … Hi, George. hope you and Sheila are well. … Hi, Silver Swan. Behaving yourself? Hopefully not!