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Mendocino County Today: Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016

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LIGHT RAIN ALL DAY IN BOONVILLE, leading some to think the predicted Thursday storm might fizzle. Satellite views show that on Wednesday the bulk of the storm was drifting a little to the north and that northern Mendo and points further north will get the heavier rain that’s predicted. But the satellite tracks are guesses. Either way, Thursday will still be a heavy rain day over all of Mendo. But northern Mendo will get more than southern Mendo. The rainfall totals will depend on how fast the storm moves through, but could reach three or four inches in the more rainy areas.

THURSDAY MORNING: it's raining hard in Boonville at 5am; the Yorkville rain gauge has already surpassed three inches from this storm, and the Navarro River level gauge is on the rise. 128 may close Friday, which will then begin a stretch of dry days and cold nights.

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by Clark Mason

The cause of a Mendocino County coast house fire that killed two sisters early Tuesday is still being investigated, according to officials.

The names of the girls, ages 9 and 14, who perished in the two-story farmhouse near Manchester, could take several more days to be officially released, due to the identification required through dental record comparison, according to Mendocino County Sheriff’s Capt. Greg Van Patten.

The Cazares family girls, ages 9 and 14, who were killed in the Manchester house fire Tuesday. (courtesy,

The family of five was sleeping when the fire broke out early Tuesday morning.

Officials said smoke alarms awoke the father around 1:40 a.m. He, his wife and son — all sleeping upstairs — escaped through an upstairs window. The two girls, who were on the ground floor, did not get out of the burning house.

Van Patten said there was so much smoke, the parents and their son had no other way out other than through a second floor window.

“Once they were outside, there was no way to go back in to save the girls,” he said.

South Coast Fire Protection Chief Capt. Gregg Warner said arriving firefighters, including one volunteer responding from only a half-mile away, were unable to enter the fully engulfed home.

“Several attempts were made to go inside and rescue. It was just too intense heat,” he said.

The loss of life weighed heavily on emergency responders.

“It’s hard for me to deal with it. It’s always a struggle with children, especially at this time of year,” Warner said.

The Mendocino Coast community was coming forward with a number of food, clothing and furniture donations for the family, who was being housed at an undisclosed location.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Cazares family. To donate, go here.

The GoFundMe page set up for the family had tallied more than $15,000 toward a $50,000 goal by Wednesday morning.

(Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

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AS RESIDENTS of the deep Potter Valley outback, Polly Franklin and her son, Daniel, like most Mendo outback residents, worry about fire. And like most outback people they prepare for that fearsome eventuality as best they can, hoping it never happens. Polly doesn't actually live in Potter Valley unless she is fighting absurdities like the one that has befallen her and her son.

ON THE ADVICE of a licensed forester, based on fuel loads on their parcel and the ongoing drought, the Franklins installed a large water bladder to get maximum wet weather water storage for dry weather fires. The surplus bladder was the least expensive storage device they could find.

THE FRANKLINS installed the bladder, and it filled just fine in the rainy months. But in April of 2013, the bladder ruptured, possibly up to 50,000 gallons of pure spring water into a small, ephemeral crease in the land normally free of water even in storms. The crease runs down a mild slope and eventually into the Eel River. There was minor damage which quickly became invisible with re-growth.

RESPONSIBLE citizens that they are, the Franklins called Fish and Wildlife to report what had happened. Fish and Wildlife alerted the State Water Board, and three years later the Franklins, people of austere means, are drowning in fines totaling a preposterous $381,000.

THE IRONY here, as irony veers into ruin for the Franklins, is that the Franklins did everything right in installing the bladder, and when the spill occurred, immediately reported the spill to get advice and assistance on what to do about repairing the damage done, which was no more severe than the occasional mid-winter flooding that occurs naturally.

BUT THE STATE FORCES of wildlife protection noted a nearby but inactive pot garden during their inspection of the spill, and the Water Board decided to make an example of the Franklins, seeking preposterously large fines based on exaggerated estimates of damage.

THERE WAS NO active gro at the time of the spill, although Daniel Franklin had seven registered patients for the Franklin property, meaning even where there was a gro it was fully permitted personal growing for Daniel and his seven registered patients, who shared crops only among themselves.

THE AFFECTED run-off channel has fully recovered, as verified by licensed forester Estelle Clifton who reported in November of this year, after a storm, that the channel "was stabilized, no fresh erosion noted, water in the stream flows clear."

SPILLS like this happen all the time in one form or another. Erosion from grape growing and overgrazing are common. And you certainly don’t find vineyard owners or outlaw pot growers reporting their spills, cooperating with authorities or paying for repairs and restoration unprompted.

BUT THE BELEAGUERED Franklins fully expect the Water Board, convening in Santa Rosa this Thursday (15 December), to rubber stamp the imposition of the wildly unfair fine on the Potter Valley family.

THE HEARING before the Water Board will take place on Thursday the 15th of December. The case documents are on the agency's website: The Franklin matter is the 5th item on their list with the Franklin rebuttal to the giant pile of bureaucratic exaggerations as the last item in the list of exhibits:

WE NOTE that several of the Water Board exhibits, and probably half of the pages in their case, are all about the purported sales price of cannabis and the amount a person can harvest per plant in the years since 2013. But there’s no evidence of marijuana sales from the small cooperative pot garden, no record of law enforcement interest in the garden or the spill. The State's pot asides have nothing to do with the Franklin case, and they certainly have nothing to do with justice or fairness or even consistent fines.

NOTE: IN THE YEARS 2012-2014 the Region 1 Water Board (for the entire northcoast) fined three people a total of $120,000; but from the Franklins they want $381,949.

THE NORTH COAST Regional Water Quality Control Board is located at 5550 Skylane Blvd. Suite A, Santa Rosa 95403-1072. Take the Sonoma County Airport exit.

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PETER REIMULLER of Point Arena has a better guess about why Bosco and his NorthWest Pacific (NWP) railroad are sitting on a bunch of hazardous Liquid Propane Gas (LPG) Tanker cars on a spur line near Vallejo than we had:

“I read your article about propane storage down in the Vallejo area. The only reason that Bosco would have to store propane down there is that it is dirt cheap right now. So they’re trying to hedge the market by holding on the cheap stuff until the price goes up. For the last few months LPG has been around 50¢ a gallon, wholesale. They’re almost giving it away. So I think it’s a cash-promoting scheme, not just a storage scheme.”

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(Sorry to see it go. Never had a bad meal there.)

Facebook friends around the world: As you know The Restaurant and the building have been for sale for a couple of months. I have received and accepted an offer and things are moving forward to complete the sale within 90 days. The buyer is Silver Canul, a local restaurateur, who plans to move his restaurant, Mayan Fusion, into The Restaurant space, serving lunch and dinner, and offering beer, wine AND spirits.

Silver has been looking for a new location for over a year hoping for a larger location in the downtown area. He plans to expand his menu but also will retain the Mayan flavor.

This is bittersweet for me - I've had 17 fantastic years here - 15 of them as Jim's partner, and the last two and a half on my own. The Restaurant has been well-loved by thousands of loyal patrons, and hundreds of employees over the past 43.5 years. It's one-of-a-kind, and part of a dying breed of small, family-owned fine dining restaurants. Until our last day you can expect the same high quality food, service and ambience.

If you are holding a gift certificate, we suggest that you use it in the next three months.

Oh, don't forget or wait until the last minute to make your reservation for New Year's Eve, as we expect to be fully booked that night - call us: 707 964-9800. We'll be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas day but then we will be open every day (including Tues and Wed) until January 3rd, then back to our regular schedule, closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We're decorated for the holidays, and added some permanent lights to our awning which brighten up the block. Come see us soon!

The Restaurant Management

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “When I broke up with my girlfriend — I'd have a lot more girl friends if these bastards let me out of the yard more — I played her Andrea Bocelli singing Time To Say Goodbye. Both of us teared right up. Bocelli is going to sing at Trump's inauguration, which means Trump at least knows musical talent when he hears it.”

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CHARLES REYNOLDS, the tough guy who sucker punched Ken Fisher and killed him outside Boomer’s Bar in Laytonville, appeared at his pretrial conference Wednesday morning and confirmed, as did prosecutor Luke Oakley, that the trial would go forward as planned for January 23rd. He faces charges of assault with great bodily injury (i.e., death), not manslaughter and not second degree murder — charges that Fisher’s family and others say are insufficient for the killing of Fisher. Judge David Nelson voiced some annoyance that there had been no negotiations in the case, and Mr. Reynolds’ lawyer, Macci Baldock reported that there had been no offers. Mr. Deputy DA Oakley confirmed that this was the deal: “plead to the sheet,” as the lawyers say: “You have two choices. 1: Take it. 2: Leave it. (Apparently the DA thinks that the charges are not subject to further reduction.) Ms. Baldock, after a consultation with Linda Thompson in the foyer of the courtroom, conveyed her professional opinion and the offer to her client, and he rejected it. Ms. Baldock, however, indicated there might be some wiggle-room by asking for another pretrial conference, January 10th 9:00 am, pretrial motions on the 19th, jury trial on Monday, the 23rd.

(— Bruce McEwen)

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THE ATTRACTIVE MS. JOSEPHA BASURTO, she who sprayed the warden with the fire extinguisher, practically slept through her arraignment this morning. First she slumped down (it’s darned hard to get comfortable in shackles and chains), then leaned over and napped on another prisoner’s shoulder. After a while, the corrections officer took her out for a restroom call, and on the way Eugene “Bear” Lincoln (seated by the door, awaiting his hearing) said he would send her some money — for her commisary or lawyer fees wasn’t clear because the C.O. told Mr. Lincoln, “Don’t talk to her — it’s against the law, a misdemeanor.”

Mr. Lincoln was there for his prelim, but his wife fell ill and had to be taken to the hospital, so it was postponed again, until January 10th 10:00 am. The marijuana cultivation felony charges will be pursued, after all, contrary to my earlier report that it was all dismissed except the felon with a firearm allegation.

It seems this same Game Warden has pictures of a creek next to the Lincoln homestead that has been diverted into a pond for the pot patch, and the chemical fertilizer runoff, is replacing the natural stream flow. Prop. 64 can’t touch this kind of deal, we are given to understand by the DA, so the felony cultivation charges will resume.

We hope Mrs. Sonia Lincoln is well, as this couple are long-time pillars of the community, as they say, and revered countywide for good works like the offer to help Ms. Basurto, even at legal risk to themselves.

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A Fort Bragg man was arrested after allegedly threatening to get a gun when denied medication, the Fort Bragg Police Department reported.

According to the FBPD, officers responded to the CVS on South Main Street Dec. 7 when staff there reported that a customer was threatening violence.


The suspect, identified as Alan Graham [aka “Captain Fathom”], 77, of Fort Bragg, reportedly began causing a disturbance in the store when he was denied the medication he requested.

Graham reportedly told staff members he would come back with a gun and rob the business in order to get the medication, the name of which was not disclosed.

Graham was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats and attempted robbery and booked into Mendocino County jail.

ED NOTE: The Captain is off his meds. Again. But the 5150 Suite at the County Jail, in the winter months, is undoubtedly much more comfortable than Fathom's woodstove shack on the Albion Ridge, especially considering the guy is 77 and has to hump his own firewood. The DA is hardly likely to prosecute this one.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, December 14, 2016

Bassett, Coggins, Fitch, Magpie

EASTON BASSETT, Covelo. Trespassing.

DANIELLE COGGINS, Ukiah. Failure to appear.

FREDRICK FITCH, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun,controlled substance, probation revocation.

CALVIN MAGPIE, Sacramento/Willits. Pot possession for sale, probation revocation.

Miles, Nielson, Ryken, Williams

DAKOTA MILES, Ukiah. Meth possession, probation revocation.

DEVIN NIELSON, Laytonville. Vandalism.

WILLIAM RYKEN JR., Fort Bragg. Suspended license, unlawful display of registration, resisting, probation revocation.

CRYSTAL WILLIAMS, Redwood Valley. Protective order violation.

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by Andrew Scully

Brad Richter, Classical Guitarist
Preston Hall, Mendocino
December 8

I took a journey last night. I pulled on my 4th layer of clothing and prepared to buck into the nearly horizontal rain of a dark and stormy Mendocino night. As I stepped out into the darkness that seemed crowded by the howling winds, and the even darker storm clouds concentrating at that very moment in the National Capital, I wondered for a moment if it might be better to drive.

But I walked. Across the wet grass, saturated and oozing from the avalanche of water that had fallen, I crossed the familiar gravel near the fire station, then Little Lake, the Coast highway, and the dark beyond. Then the lights of the village. No one else out it seemed. And I walked hurriedly, late now, to the church.

I came thru a new way, unfamiliar to me, following a path that connected gavel walkways and came out into...the church courtyard. The radiant white spire, familiar to many, was utterly dark.

Preston Hall, however was not dark. As I entered, rustling with soaked through outer-jacket, I was utterly transported. It was warm, and lit only by small white Christmas lights — a few strands twisted about the beams of the ceiling. But these were enough. There were several images hung on the large windows in the hall — they were Nativity Scenes from the Christian story of the birth of Jesus. But these were not the old musty things. These seemed new and beatifically, and beautifully re-imagined.

The guitarist was seated in front of one of the translucent tapestry's, which depicted a woman in a pose of thanksgiving and happiness, arms reaching for the sky in beautifully muted hues. It seemed to me a universal image of joy. And it shimmered in the light.

The guitar player sat on a stool, and the held the guitar on his lap with the neck fairly upright, so that his left hand, fingering the notes, was very near his left ear. Brad Richter was well into a piece when I came into the space, and the group of people seated about him on padded folding chairs was listening in rapt silence. I was intensely aware of how loud my entry had been. I was certain that my breathing was too loud, that they would be able to hear my blinking as I tried to stand utterly still.

But of course they could not, because they were absorbed in the music, and focused on the guitarist and their own thoughts. This was delicate music, subtle. So intricate and detailed but so soft. Classical guitar, it seems.

Our musical interpreter for this evening was Brad Richter, He is tall and pleasant looking, with a pony tail, and he is surprisingly, from Oklahoma. I have seen many musical performances. The range and ability of human talent is truly staggering. Yet, Richter's performance was something of a phenomenon. He was obviously producing these notes — many, many notes, with his two hands and only these hands. I could observe this. But I could not, even though I was watching him do it, explain how he did it.

I watched closely, yet I could not discern how he was able to execute all of those notes. 164th notes, and perhaps beyond. I do not know. But Brad Richter must have been plucking very very rapidly indeed, certainly with eight, but likely all ten fingers, to produce those notes. Yet. His hands — and the tops of his fingers seemed hardly to move at all. I could sense movement of his hands on the instrument. But he seemed able to conceal the very tips of his fingers — doing 90% of the work, I imagine, with the top of his hands. Hence phenomenon.

Brad Richter has a gift and he has a few missions. One is to learn, perform and motivate, and most importantly to seek out new people that should play the instrument. Another is the notion that guitar instruction deserves equal footing and rigor as other orchestral instruments because it is one.

He has spent several years “on tour” across North America, tour, performing recitals. The tours enable his cultivation and mentoring of promising young guitarists across the hinterlands and metro areas alike. His particular interest seems to be in finding and connecting with young people — often from harsh backgrounds, who otherwise never might have played. Kids that opportunity has passed by.

Richter transitioned his music with stories. Along his travels he heard about and sought out a young man said to have promise on the Comanche reservation in Oklahoma, a boy named Sherwood. Richter came to know and mentor the boy in guitar, and indeed Sherwood from the Comanche Nation became a gifted guitarist. A favorite fishing spot for Sherwood was a place called Marble Falls, in Oklahoma. Sherwood and Richter fished there several times. Richter matter of factly told us that Sherwood, this young man of exceptional talent and promise, “passed away at 24”. Further verbal detail was not forthcoming. But then Richter played Marble Falls on the guitar. He said it reminded him of Sherwood when he played it. I think it reminded everyone there of Sherwood.

Richter used his guitar to tell other stories. The guitar, through Richter, told a Comanche story — familiar in many cultures - of a grief-stricken Comanche Chief's voyage to the land of the dead. Of his mighty effort — all the strength that a warrior king could muster — to bring his daughter, killed by a rattlesnake bite, back from that dark and foreboding place. The guitar told the story. Wardrums and snake rattles, the girls ascent toward the light, and her quickening heartbeat. And then.

He played the sounds made by a family grandfather clock, not just the stoke of the bells but also the strange and mysterious sounds that the clock made. The creaking and ratcheting that could be heard as the mechanical gears, the pulleys and sprockets, executed the bell sequence.

The sounds and music that he was able to make vividly brought back to my mind some of my most cherished childhood memories. It was quite amazing to me that sitting in Preston Hall, on a cold and wet December night, Richter and his guitar hearkened back to my mind boyhood reveries more than fifty years past. Of nights falling to sleep on the floor of my Grandmother's simple home, warm and utterly safe, listening to the fire crackling, and to the soothing music of the Grandfather Clock.

But other sounds of the guitar reminded me that my Grandmother's clock produced many noises in addition to the familiar tick-tock. Quite like the clock, Richter's guitar captured the stately and imposing, and faintly mysterious person, of my Grandmother Alice Scully.

Richter is able to create all these sounds using very simple objects, toothpicks and clothespins, and other such. But this is not the “cheater bar” placed upon the neck of the instrument and used by most modern guitarists. Instead, Richter uses these small tools to create music. They are active participants in the performance, not passive.

He told a couple of amusing stories:

Q: How do you get A flat Minor?

A: You drop a piano down a mine shaft.

Q: How do you get A flat Major?

A: You run over him with a tank.

This was, as Richter helpfully explained for this distinctly pacific crowd on the Pacific, “a military joke”.

The music lifted me out of the wet sodden fields into mid-19th Century Spain, by means of a guitar piece heavily influenced by North African Moorish culture. And I could hear it. In the undulating waves of the warm sand that spread under my feet, in the fair skies and seas of that lovely land. A much simpler time, perhaps less threatening. The music did this.

All of this would have been more than enough. But there was one other element to the evening, an unexpected twist.

The catch?

Well it's very simple, quite like the story if Johnny Appleseed of olden days. Richter founded a program called Lead Guitar. Lead Guitar is how Richter and his cohort continue their work and joy — to keep finding and inspiring those Sherwoods. The local partnership is established with the Mendocino School District and is facilitated by the Presbyterian Church in the village

This work must continue. Money is needed to fund a matching grant for a middle school program of structured, fun learning.

This money must be raised, and it is out there, in these bucolic hills and hinterlands of Mendocino county and hereabouts. Donations should be made prior to January. Inquiry should be directed to the MUSD or the Church.

That is why the music is so important. Because for a moment, indeed for what seemed a very long time, I was not in the middle of a dark and stormy night in Mendocino. For that moment, the music granted me a reprieve even from the madness and the scrambling and the darkness concentrating in the national capital.

No. Those thoughts were far from my mind as I listened to Brad Richter. For what seemed a long time, sitting in Preston Hall in the bleak midwinter, I was long ago, in the part of Spain influenced by the warm currents and dry spicy air of the Mediterranean sea. Southern Spain in the 1800's, flavored and by the Moorish people of North Africa. I could hear the guitar. The sun was warm on my face. And I was breathing, very deeply.

Copyright©2016; all rights reserved

(Andrew Scully lives in Mendocino.)

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Why do you follow me?

Any moment I can be

Nothing but a laurel-tree.


Any moment of the chase

I can leave you in my place

A pink bough for your embrace.


Yet if over hill and hollow

Still it is your will to follow,

I am off;…to heel, Apollo!

—Edna St. Vincent Millay

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by Louis S. Bedrock

Since my retirement in 2010, I no longer need to get up at 4:30 a.m. to avoid heavy morning traffic en route to work at PS 30 in the Bronx. However, I still get up before sunrise every day in order to put out my two birdfeeders, observe the songbirds that visit them, and chase off enemies. My cat is helpful as she usually begins walking on top of me very early in the morning and doesn't stop until I get up and feed her.

I take in the feeders between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. and often put them out again an hour or so before sunset.

This morning, while juicing beets, carrots, kale, grapes, green apples, celery, ginger, and cucumbers, and preparing oatmeal from scratch, I noticed that there were no chickadees, titmice, cardinals, or nuthatches visiting the feeders--not even George, a raggedy old nuthatch I've known for several years and who has no fear of me. George lands on the feeders while they're still in my hands, brushes against my head en route to the feeders, and buzzes me as he leaves. No kidding: the little son of a bitch flies right at my face and then bails out at the last second--like a pilot dipping his wing.

Anyway, there was no bird traffic this morning, not even the clouds of the damned sparrows or finches that I must chase away because they crowd out the other birds and can quickly empty a feeder. This lack of activity is usually due to the presence of a cat or a hawk in the vicinity.

Domestic cats kill between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds each year.

( ).

I love cats and have lived with one or another in the house since 1968. However I do not let them outside.  It's bad for the cat and it's bad for birds.

I occasionally see a cat scaling the fence or crouching behind the Rose of Sharon shrubs and chase it away by shooting it in the ass with my Daisy BB gun. However this morning, it was not a cat that had scared away the birds. When I looked out the kitchen window that faces northwest, I found myself staring into the unfriendly eyes of a red tailed hawk that was perched on the wire fence adjacent to the driveway. I've seen him or her in the yard before. Once, he chased a terrified sparrow right through the Rose of Sharon. (The little bastard managed to escape.)

Once, riding my bike through a wooded area of neighboring Cranford, I saw a red tailed hawk nail an unfortunate squirrel. I never knew that squirrels could scream, but this one did. It had good reason to do so as hawks eat their prey alive. My friend Linda told me that one time a hawk ate a baby rabbit on her roof and she had to listen to the damn thing screaming for half an hour.

I tapped on the window but the hawk didn't move. So I opened the window. It still remained perched on the fence. I clapped my hands and shouted, "Get the fuck out of here", and the hawk, after giving me an insolent glance, gracefully flew off toward Warinanco Park where there were plenty of squirrels, rabbits, mourning doves, and pigeons.

* * *

Hawks and cats are lethal enemies of my songbirds. Sparrows, starlings, and finches are pesky enemies who crowd the feeders, rapidly eat all the birdseeds, and block chickadees, titmice and other songbirds from the feeder.

Finches are actually themselves songbirds, but they come in such large groups that they quickly empty the feeders. So they are enemies.

Blue jays and mourning doves are bullies that intimidate the smaller songbirds. Nuthatches are feisty, have weaponized beaks, and will fight their way to the feeder, but they are the exception.

Squirrels will climb up the slender poles and pillage the nuts and seeds.

I shoot squirrels in the ass with the BB gun as I do with the cats. If they persist, I kill them will my powerful Benjamin pellet rifle. I don't like squirrels: They damage trees, lawns, and buildings. Once I found a squirrel in my basement and recklessly shot it with my .22 Marlin rifle.

Blue Jays are aggressive and annoying. I can scare them away easily--they're all bluster. I never shoot at them.

I wouldn't shoot at a hawk either. They're magnificent and possess what Blake has called "a fearful symmetry" although he was talking about tigers. My own domestic tigress, Calliope, has her own fearful symmetry as, taut and motionless, she watches the birds from the bedroom window, quivering with the instinct to get at them and kill them.

I often eat breakfast and read by the kitchen window overlooking the feeders. If it's not too cold, the window is open. The chickadees and nuthatches greet me with a "chickadeedeedee" or the characteristic honk of the nuthatch, and occasionally fly at the window before veering off in another direction at the last moment--just as George does when I stand outside near the feeders.

* * *

I live in industrialized central New Jersey and had no idea of the variety of birds in the area until I started putting out my bird feeders, the gift of friends who were cleaning out their basement.

After a few weeks, I had observed so many birds that I didn't recognize and whose names I did not know that I bought The National Geographic Field Guide to Birds In North America.

In addition to the chickadees, titmice, cardinals, and nuthatches, my bird feeders have hosted juncos--who like cardinals are primarily ground-feeders and eat the "runoff" from the feeders, flickers, downy woodpeckers, red bellied woodpeckers, an Eastern towhee, a Baltimore Oriole or two, a red breasted grosbeak, and a wood thrush.

Although they didn't eat from the feeder, several yellow crowned night herons prowled around the yard for a couple of years competing for worms with the robins. Late last summer, I saw a couple of hummingbirds circling the feeders. I bought a special feeder, filled it with nectar, and hung it from my maple tree, but the guys haven't returned. Maybe they will next summer.

One new guest to whom I've gotten attached is a plucky winter wren who has startled me by landing and feeding while I'm standing two feet away. This round little chocolate colored character, who wears eyeliner, has also hopped into the basement and even had the temerity to jump into the small orange pail in which I keep the birdseed and started eating. When I tried to shoo her out of the house, she was not intimidated and hopped around for a while until she got bored and brushed past me into the yard where she stopped to refill at the feeders before going on to other activities.

* * *

Last winter, my neighbors and friends Santos and Maria got tired of the cold weather and moved to Florida. Their former house is adjacent to my backyard. Santos was a sports fisherman and used to share his catch with me; Maria is a great cook and would occasionally bring over her delicious homemade pernil con arroz y gandules before I became a vegan. When I went to Florida I would bring back grapefruit and oranges for them and for my neighbors Al, Marlene, and Brielle.

The new people who have moved in are strange and unpleasant. They are two grotesque women who look like Robert Crumb characters because of their enormous backsides. They have two little girls living with them. They have put a swimming pool in their back yard. They are vulgar and hostile, unlike my other neighbors.

They accused me of being a Peeping Tom and although I tried to explain that I was only interested in feeding and watching the birds, they would shout and curse at me in the afternoons when I was in the window or my backyard:

—You old white motherfucking pervert; I saw you watching me when I was in the shower.

—Old motherfucking white pedophile--you likes to look at little black girls in bathing suits.

—Old white motherfucking pervert.  Don't you have nuthin better to do than spy on people?

They even called the cops on me late one afternoon.  Three young cops came to my front door and told me of my neighbors' complaint.  I invited them into the kitchen and showed them the birdfeeders.

—I've tried to explain to my neighbors that I was just watching the birds at the feeders –I told the cops.

—Hey, what do you call that little one that looks like a jet fighter? —asked one of the cops who was standing next to the window.

—That's a nuthatch. It may be George –I said.

One cop asked for my personal information; another walked around the living room, which was cluttered with a bicycle and bicycle stuff as I had done a 40-mile ride earlier that afternoon.

—Wow! Is that a woodpecker? –asked the cop by the window.

—Yeah, it's called a "downy woodpecker" –I said.

—You're 71? –exclaimed the cop taking my information.

—He's in good shape because he rides a bike –yelled the cop in the living room.

—What the hell is that? –asked the cop at the window.

—It's called a "northern flicker".

—You were a teacher in the Bronx? –asked the cop taking my personal info.

—Yes. For 18 and a half years.

—We're sorry to have disturbed you, Mr. Bedrock. We're going to stop by your neighbors' house and explain the situation –said the cop who was taking my information.

—I'm going to get a birdfeeder –said the cop by the window.

* * *

My neighbor and friend, Al, was offended by the women's language and more offended when they parked their BMW in their backyard, which is adjacent to his, and started blaring vulgar rap music to scare away the birds. Al and his lovely wife Marlene care for their wonderful 12-year-old granddaughter, Brielle. They were appalled at the language these women used in front of their own little girls. They did not like Brielle hearing it.

When Al put up an opaque white plastic fence between his house and their house, I asked Al to ask the workmen to put up one for me too.

The fences haven't impeded the birds--or the squirrels or the cats, but the women don't bother me anymore.  And my new fence will be handy for hanging a humming bird feeder next summer, inshallah.

* * *


Experts fear excessive regs may encourage black market

by Jane Futcher

State officials and cannabis activists at the 13th Annual Emerald Cup in Santa Rosa called for solidarity among farmers, environmentally sound agricultural practices and caution in creating onerous regulations.

An estimated crowd of 30,000 poured into the Sonoma County Fairgrounds Dec. 10 and 11 to celebrate the fall cannabis harvest. Many sampled tinctures, salves, edibles, and buds in the 215 prescription area; viewed the latest trimming, irrigation, soil and farming technologies; snapped photos of the world's largest joint, and packed 100 educational panels and workshops.

“Pay your taxes,” said Fiona Ma, chair of the California State Board of Equalization, at the Government Officials panel Dec. 10. "We are more than happy to help you comply.”

Ma urged the audience to follow local and state compliance regulations, get seller's permits and  "put money away" all year to pay income and sales taxes. “If we do come and audit, and you are collecting but haven’t been remitting, it is very serious.”

At the same panel, California District 2 Assemblyman Jim Wood, an author of the Medical Marijuana Safety and Regulation Act, advised the audience to beware of consultants who promise they can procure state licenses for medical or recreational cannabis businesses. He implored entrepreneurs ask such consultants three questions: What qualifies you to be an advisor? How long have you been in California? And do you have three references I can talk to?

The chief of the state’s new Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, Lori Ajax, said her agency does not want to “over-regulate” and that business owners should not to assume the bureau has all the answers. “We need your help and feedback and comments,” Ajax said.

Brian R. Leahy, director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, advised cannabis entrepreneurs to learn the rules and regulations that apply to operating a legal business in California.

"The California Environmental Protection Agency is now in your life,” Leahy said.

Mendocino County Supervisor John McCowen attended the government panel and told state officials during the Q & A period that if state and local cannabis regulations are too onerous, “People will stay outside of the system.”

Casey O’Neill of HappyDay Farm in Laytonville asked farmers at a community organizing panel to get active, make their voices heard at county government meetings and be ready to compromise where they can.

“If you are not at the table, you are on it,” O’Neill said.

Workshops also focused on plant genomes; pest and mold management; soil building; “rescheduling,” or removing cannabis from the Bureau of Narcotics Schedule 1 substances list; branding and marketing, and terpenes — the enzymes that give plants their smells and flavors.

To ensure cannabis retains its terpene varieties and strength — which panelists said can give products a strong market edge — Samantha Miller of Pure Analytics and Josh Wurzer of SC Labs recommended that growers cure plants in cool temperatures, keep curing humidity low, and dry plants gently.

At a Sunday breakfast for members of the California Growers Association, CGA Executive Director Hezekiah Allen called on his 900-member organization to pressure state legislators to remove what he termed the new state "harvest tax” contained in the new state medical and recreational regulations, effective Jan. 1, 2018.

The taxes include a state excise tax on cultivation of $9.25 per ounce of marijuana flowers and $2.75 per ounce of marijuana leaves. All retail sales, medical and non-medical, will be subject to a 15-percent excise tax in addition to regular state sales tax.

"What happens if you have a test and can't sell [your product]?” Allen said of the harvest tax. "There's no state refund if you can't."

The CGA is recommendsing that the Legislature replace the harvest tax with a distribution tax; replace the leaf tax with a product tax; impose a tiered-tax rate, and establish a tax exemption for cottage cultivators growing up to 25 mature plants for outdoor cultivation or 500 square feet or less of total canopy for indoor cultivation, on one premises.

According to Allen, the Legislature can change the new tax provisions, but they must receive calls and comments immediately in order to make changes by March, after which changes are nearly impossible to make.

"They need to know the ag community can't bear this tax,” Allen said.

Like many speakers at the Cup, Allen extolled the marketing and branding value of appellations, the labels that link agricultural products to the geographic locations where they are grown.

But Allen had one caveat.

"No more bickering over which county grows the best. No more indoor versus outdoor. The urban-rural divide must end. Country mice, get comfortable in the cities.

"This isn't just about bottom line and gross dollars,” Allen said. “This is about people like you. This is about towering redwoods. This is about sustaining agriculture and the places that we care about."

(Jane Futcher is host of The Cannabis Hour on KZYX.)

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Friends and colleagues,

Most of you know I've been working for the PBS series Independent Lens for the last year and a half -- producing short videos based on their films -- for distribution to journalistic outlets.

Here's a new, original, 3-part series, "The Hanging," that I commissioned and senior produced.

Not exactly holiday cheer -- it tells an eerie Southern Gothic kind of story: Was the death of a Black teenager in North Carolina a suicide (the official ruling) or a murder?

I hired my old FRONTLINE World colleague, Orlando de Guzman, to produce it.

And Rachel Raney, another longtime colleague from FRONTLINE World and KQED, supervised it back in North Carolina where she lives and works at the local PBS affiliate.

Our online series is running on The Atlantic and the website of North Carolina public TV.

Each part is about 8-10 min. The final Part 3 posts tomorrow (Thursday).

Dec. 14 The Atlantic THE HANGING Part 2 of 3

The Racist Undertones Behind a Death in a Small Town

December 13  The Atlantic: THE HANGING, Part 1 of 3-part series

The Suspicious Death of a Black Teen

Dec. 13, 14 and 15 UNC-TC, North Carolina:  THE HANGING, 3-part series*

Despite the grimness of the story and the Twin Peaks feel, I wish you all happy holidays and a respite from the state of the world.

Steve Talbot, San Francisco

* * *


Barry O. will leave his presidency with the following legacy:

– Islamic State (those silly J.V. guys) multiple catastrophes in Syria, Iraq and branch offices worldwide viz. Europe, Phillipines, Egypt, Sahel, etc.

– Foreign affairs disasters from Ukraine and Crimea to Lybia and Afghanistan (still there after 15 years boys and girls.)

– A marvelous $20 TRILLION national debt.

– Trade deficit averaging $500 BILLION per annum.

– ObamaCare: “If you like your doctor, you can keep him/her.” Uh huh.

– How many people on Food Stamps (SNAP:) nearly 50 million!

– Race relations in the USA at a 50 year low. Police killings routine. 
Chicago, an actual Democrat love-fest with 468 murders last year and 2900 shootings. Nice.

Too many other “accomplishments” to mention, but you get my drift.

Approval ratings are just like the political polls in this country – eyewash, hogwash and bullshit provided by propaganda organs of the State, and other controlling parties (those evil fuckers in charge.)

Barack “Barry Soetoro” Hussein Obama has been an unmitigated failure, but you may believe what you like and go back to watch some Ellen, or NFL football, or the Food Network, or whatever nonsense takes your mind off of concrete actuality.

Have a nice day otherwise.

* * *

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Brenda Hall will be playing “Songs for Shelter” on the dulcimer, Friday, December 14, from 6:30-8:30pm. All tip jar donations will benefit the non-profit organization S.O.S.- Networking for Mendocino Coast Companion Animals. This free concert will be held In 'The Ravens' bar. Please stop by, bring friends and enjoy fantastic food, or a drink, and enjoy the best festive holiday decor on the coast. The melodic tones of the hammered dulcimer are sure to please! Free magical concert, beautiful holiday decor in cozy surroundings, and a way to help animals, what could be better!

Hope to see you there!

Carol Lillis

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by Dan Bacher

As a big Pacific storm was slated to drench northern California, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced today it will increase water releases to the American River below Nimbus Dam on Dec. 15 at 9 a.m. from 15,000 cubic feet per second to reach 35,000 cfs by 1 p.m.

This is the largest increase in releases in one day in the past several years, at least since 2011. Peggy Manza of Reclamation said the purpose of the increased releases was for “storage management/flood control.”

“Please route any release in excess of Power Plant capacity through the river outlets,” she said in a memo.

“Should inflows continue at current levels or increase, additional releases may be required,” noted Shane Hunt, Reclamation spokesman, in a news release.

Hunt said increased releases are based on “changing conditions and are necessary to maintain space in Folsom Reservoir for projected Sierra runoff.” Current storage in the reservoir is around 158 percent of its 15-year average for December.

He advised, “People recreating in or along the lower American River downstream of Folsom Dam to the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers can expect river levels to increase and should take appropriate safety precautions. Some inundation along the American River’s recreational trails and at Discovery Park are expected.”

When I called the media contact at the Bureau, everybody had already gone home for the day and nobody was available to answer my questions. I will report any additional information if and when somebody calls back or emails me.

The increased releases occur at a critical time for struggling fall-run Chinook salmon and steelhead on the American. The salmon run is near its end as fish spawn in the river or have already spawned. The high flows are expected to wash out many of the freshly laid salmon eggs from the gravel beds.

The winter run of steelhead, listed as an endangered species, is starting to move into the river.

Due to the high river flows, Discovery, Howe Avenue, Watt Avenue and Gristmill Parks, Campus Commons Golf Course, William Pond Recreation Area and the American River Parkway multi-use trail at mile 20 will be closed Thursday-Sunday.

Midnight Reservoir Elevation and Flows for Folsom may be found at Reclamation’s Central Valley Operations Office website at Current American River conditions may be found at the Department of Water Resources’ California Data Exchange Center website at

* * *


When: Wednesday December 21, 2016 12 noon to 3 p.m.

Where: Alex Thomas Plaza in downtown Ukiah

Investments from Wells Fargo, Chase, and Bank of America fuel construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Join us as we keep the pressure on these banks to divest their financial support. If you have an account with one of these banks, this is the ideal time to withdraw your funds and close your account.

We will be led in a prayer, hear inspiring speakers, and then march to the banks carrying a giant black snake (which we will be-head as a ritual to conclude the event). We will share special holiday carols at a bank of our choice.

On November 30th, six people in Ukiah withdrew $36,200 from Wells Fargo and initiated the closing of 11 accounts as part of a #NoDAPL day of action! The following day, Wells Fargo executives agreed to meet with Standing Rock leaders to discuss their grievances. Let's keep the pressure on!

If you plan to withdraw money or close an account, please see our online "Pledge to Divest/Withdraw" at or contact with your name, contact info, and which bank you are divesting from.

Facebook page:

* * *

Facts About Wells Fargo's Relationship To DAPL:

* Energy Transfer Partners is the parent company of Dakota Access, LLC, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Wells Fargo is their financial gatekeeper.  Many banks are invested in ETP, but as ETP’s “administrative agent,” Wells processes all the investments the company receives and helps arrange all of its funding.*

* Energy Transfer Partners is the parent company of Dakota Access, LLC, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline (this changed on November 23rd when ETP reorganized under the auspices of Sunoco Logistics, one of its subsidiaries).

*Wells Fargo has extended $560+ million in credit lines to companies behind the pipeline — namely Energy Transfer Equity, Energy Transfer Partners, Sunoco Logisitcs, Phillips 66 and Marathon. Phillips 66 and Marathon are slated to ship oil on the pipeline. Energy Transfer Equity is the parent company of Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics.

* Wells Fargo, which is owed $42 Billion by the oil and gas industry as of 2015, is among a handful of US banks holding huge amounts of oil and gas debt.

* Wells Fargo is the US’ most scandal-ridden bank of the moment.  From 2011 to ’15, the bank reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in extra profits by opening around two million bogus customer accounts and charging these unknowing customers interest and fees.

* Wells Fargo hosts an annual conference in New York City to arrange meetings between pipeline builders and pipeline financers.

Further Info:'s-banking-dakota-access-pipeline 

— Jenny Burnstad


  1. Jim Armstrong December 15, 2016

    Nice piece on Brad Richter.
    On the video, sounds very much like Andres Segovia, especially giving the distinct feeling that he has a hidden partner.
    I saw Segovia a few times. The silence of the audience was palpable as well as necessary.
    He would sometimes stop playing while a noisy late-comer got settled.

  2. sohumlily December 15, 2016

    Between the ravens and the feral cats, I rarely get birds to visit my feeder.

    A b-b gun would be useful, but would bring the wrath of my neighbors down on my head. And they’re already mad at me (still) for not voting for Hellery.

    Thanks L.B.

    ps On my walks near Benbow I’ve been seeing a pygmy owl. When he/she’s around, I’ve noticed there are zero birds out. 2 weeks ago was walking up from the river and stopped to ascertain the source of a loud commotion coming from a group of birds in an oak tree next to the path, screaming what seemed to me (anthropomorphising again) to be warning calls. I thought it must be me who they were concerned about, but upon closer inspection spotted Mr/Ms Pygmy Owl ripping into his/her freshly ‘taken’ lunch…one of the poor little birds’ friends or a family member. O nature is cruel. And yes, pygmy owls hunt during the day.

    • LouisBedrock December 15, 2016

      “I believe the common denominator of the universe is not harmony; but chaos, hostility and murder.”

      Werner Herzog

      A Barred Owl

      The warping night air having brought the boom
      Of an owl’s voice into her darkened room,
      We tell the wakened child that all she heard
      Was an odd question from a forest bird,
      Asking of us, if rightly listened to,
      “Who cooks for you?” and then “Who cooks for you?”

      Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear,
      Can also thus domesticate a fear,
      And send a small child back to sleep at night
      Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight
      Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw
      Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.

      —Thank you for your kind words and your story about the owl, kindred spirit.

      • Harvey Reading December 15, 2016

        The biggest nuisances in my back yard are the house (English) sparrows and the horrid Eurasian collared doves. Both are aggressive to other birds, including native mourning doves, a few of which used to to stick around for months every year. Last year I had several cedar waxwings, western tanagers, and Bullock orioles. This year, none, but even more of the Eurasian invaders. In years past, before the collared dove invasion, it was common to see two or three species of warbler, occasional chickadess, and many more nighthawks at dusk. I attribute the decline in sightings of all but the nighthawks to the weed doves.

        • Jim Armstrong December 15, 2016

          You can legally take your Daisy or your pellet gun to the House Sparrows as you can to Starlings as they are both introduced species and without protected status.
          Hopefully Eurasian Collared Doves will soon join this status. They are edible, besides.
          I am not really sure how the laws vary state by state.
          There is guy on Cape Cod with a fun website:

          It covers east coast birds better than west.

          • Harvey Reading December 15, 2016

            Eurasian collared doves are free for the taking, in any numbers, by most any method of ‘legal take’, here in Wyoming, but discharge of weapons, including air-powered weapons, crossbows, bows, slingshots, etc. is not allowed in town, and for very good reason. I have no desire to be hit by a stray pellet or BB and, particularly not by an arrow, bolt, or bullet. Nor do I care to have my property damaged by such. So, far, the collared doves tend to stay in the more developed areas, like towns and cultivate areas. How long that will last time has yet to tell

          • LouisBedrock December 16, 2016

            Great link!
            Thanks Jim.

  3. Harvey Reading December 15, 2016

    Re: Care-a-Van

    Back in the 70s there was an outfit of the same name in Sonoma. They provided services, mainly transportation as I recall, to old folks in the valley. No punchline, just a recollection.

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