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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Endangered California Tiger Salamander! - OAEC Video

Sonoma County's Endangered
Tiger Salamander
Video from the Occidental Arts
& Ecology Center
Water Institute

We hope that you will enjoy and find our latest project of interest.
Please forward it out widely and/or blog about the plight of this amazing animal and its threatened Valley Oak Savannah & Vernal Pool world!!

This is another collaborative project between Ben Zolno, Brock Dolman and Jim Coleman of ZoDoCo Productions, with special thanks to Dave Cook!

The fate of our distinct Sonoma County population of California Tiger Salamander hangs in the balance pending a process and decision over the next year by the California Fish and Game Commission. Please encourage them to list this species population as “endangered” (see info below and in video)!

BTW - Note: No salamanders were harmed in the making of this film.

Sal E. Manderly Yours, Brock

SAVING THE CALIFORNIA TIGER SALAMANDER ...This beautiful amphibian is a discriminating species that can only thrive in unique — and now extremely rare — habitats. As California's vernal pools, grasslands, and oak woodlands disappear, the tiger salamander has fewer and fewer reasons to grin. The species' plight is particularly extreme in Sonoma County, where development threatens 95 percent of remaining salamander habitat, and the Santa Barbara population — although it was luckily listed as federally endangered in 2000 — is still on the verge of going extinct.

This is a special report on the slayings of rare California Tiger Salamanders on a Sonoma County Road, and one easy thing you can do to save the rest of them!

It will take only 45 seconds of your time to save California Tiger Salamander in Sonoma County.

The California Fish and Game Commissioners have one-year to decide if the rare California Tiger Salamander in Sonoma County should be listed as "endangered". If they don't list it, the protections that come with an endangered status will be lost. Contact these folks and remind them that scientists agree that they are, in fact, endangered, and that the Sonoma County California Tiger Salamander should be listed by the State of California as an endangered species!

California Fish and Game Commission
1416 Ninth Street
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
Phone (916) 653-4899
Fax (916) 653-5040
(e-mail is fine, but if you take a minute to print it out and mail it, it has a much bigger impact!)

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Conscious Dying and Conscious Grieving

There is No Death
Mystical Pathways to Conscious Dying
and Conscious Grieving

A talk by Terri Daniel, author of
A SWAN IN HEAVEN: Conversations Between Two Worlds

This workshop explores the myths and misconceptions that have created a fear of death in our culture, and offers an extraordinary metaphysical perspective on the dying and grieving process.

Using interactive exercises, guided meditation and after-death communication techniques (ADC), participants will acquire unique tools for navigating the dying and grieving process. Based on Terri's experience as a hospice worker, channeler and grief guide who works with assistance from The Other Side, she uses interdimensional journeying to gently guide participants into contact with the higher realms, where out-of-body experience and death itself are seen as simply the continuation of life in another dimension.

Terri Daniel is a channeler, hospice worker and author who teaches after-death communication techniques as a path to understanding loss and grief. Her book, A SWAN IN HEAVEN, is based on dialogs with her son, who died at age 16 and now shares insightful, inspired teachings from the Other Side.

WHEN: Saturday, May 30 - 10 am - 6 pm
WHERE: The Yumtha Center for Conscious Living and Dying
4115 Ross Rd., Sebastopol, CA.
COST: $80 - $140* sliding scale/ includes lite lunch
RSVP: Dr Anna Bonas Yumtha Metta Care Center - 707-829-6893

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Beyond Bailouts: REAL Economic Solutions - David Korten

David Korten has just come out with a book ("Beyond Bailouts: Agenda for a New Economy") describing the different approach he says we need to take to address our current economic crisis.

WCG reader and columnist Patricia Dines recommends David's book -

Dear Vesta,
I'm so delighted that David Korten has just come out with a book ("Beyond Bailouts: Agenda for a New Economy") describing the different approach he says we need to take to address our current economic crisis. I've long appreciated the quality of Korten's thinking/ideas so I look forward to reading it. While I'm a big fan of Obama, I think he's accepted standard economic thinking too much, at a time when we need to seriously change that direction. Hopefully the Prez will also keep his word to listen to us, AND we'll speak up for positive proposals. That's why I'm so thrilled that Korten has written out his perspective AND some ideas we might propose.

I've included his essay below. But this is the short version that Korten articulates (which I see also) - that we can't prop the current economic system up, no matter how many gazillions we take from future generations - that the economic breakdown is the predictable result of real problems with our economic approach - and thus the only way to come out of this in decent shape is to make key shifts in our economic system.

But the good news could be that we use this opportunity to finally align our system with true wealth, making it easier for people to earn a fair living while taking care of the planet and building community - things that are too often challenging to do under the current system.

I hope you find this of interest.

Patricia Dines

Dear Reader, [of Yes! magazine]

You may be catching some of the media excitement around Dave Korten's just-published book, Agenda for a New Economy. With Wall Street crashing and the government flailing, his message to replace Wall Street with a financial system that works for Main Street is catching fire.

Now here's a secret about this book. Dave wrote it in a mere three weeks! The genesis was his article for YES!, Beyond Bailouts: Agenda for a New Economy. When Dave's publisher read it, he asked Dave to turn it into a book, and they targeted the launch for January 23, when Dave was set to deliver a keynote address at Trinity Church in the heart of Wall Street. So Dave literally wrote night and day, the words pouring out from a lifetime of thought. Dave said "I feel like I have lived my whole life to write this book."

I was with Dave in New York and accompanied him to his interview with Amy Goodman for Democracy Now! After Amy finished her interview with Dave, she discovered I had been friends with Barack Obama's mother so she called the camera crews back to interview me about our friendship. I think you'll enjoy both these interviews.

Fran Korten
YES! Magazine

Yes! Magazine - Path to a New Economy

Don't Fix Wall Street, Replace It
by David Korten

Why not an economy of real wealth?

The current economic debate centers on how best to revive our existing economic system through some combination of a Wall Street bailout and a job-creating economic stimulus package. That amounts to trying to revive an economic system that has failed in every dimension: financial, social, and environmental. Rather than prop up a failed system, we should use the current financial crisis as the opportunity to create a system that works. Trying to solve the crisis with the same tools that caused it is the definition of insanity.

As individuals, we humans appear to be an intelligent species. Collectively, however, our behavior ranges from supremely wise to suicidal. Our current collective economic insanity is the product of an illusion—a belief, cultivated by the prevailing economic orthodoxy, that money is wealth and that making money is the equivalent of creating wealth.

Money is merely an accounting chit with no intrinsic value—it is useless until we exchange it for something of real value. Wall Street’s specialty is creating money for rich people without the exertion of producing anything of corresponding real value. They increase their claims against real wealth without increasing the supply of goods, making it harder for the rest of us to meet our needs.

Real wealth is, first of all, the tangible things that support life—food, shelter, clothing. Of course, the most valuable forms of real wealth are those that are beyond price: love; a healthy, happy child; a job that provides a sense of self-worth and contribution; membership in a strong, caring community; a healthy vibrant natural environment; peace. Our Wall-Street-driven economic system makes fantastic amounts of money and actively destroys all these many forms
of real wealth.

We have been in thrall to a pervasive cultural story, continuously reinforced by academics, government officials, and corporate media, which led us to believe our economy was functioning splendidly even when it was quite literally killing us. You have heard this story many times:

“Economic growth, as measured by Gross Domestic Product, creates the wealth needed to provide material abundance for all, increase human happiness, end poverty, and heal the environment. The faster we consume, the faster the economy grows and the wealthier we become as the rising tide lifts all boats.”

The logical conclusion from this story is that the faster we convert useful resources to toxic garbage, the richer we are. The only true beneficiaries of this obviously stupid idea are a few very rich people who reap financial gains from every economic transaction—whether the
transaction cures a disease or clearcuts a rainforest. It is a system that deifies money and dilutes wealth.

In contrast, the Main Street economy is comprised of local businesses and working people who produce real goods and services to meet the real wealth needs of their communities. It has been battered and tattered by the predatory intrusions of Wall Street corporations, but it is the
logical foundation on which to build a new, real wealth economy of green jobs and green manufacturing, responsible community-oriented businesses, and sound environmental practices.

Let Wall Street corporations and their phantom wealth machine slip into the abyss of their own making. Devote our public resources to building and strengthening Main Street businesses and financial institutions devoted to creating real wealth in service to their local communities.

David Korten wrote this article for the Spring 2009 issue of YES! Magazine, Food for Everyone . David's latest book is Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth (published by Berrett-Koehler, Feb 2009). Read an extract . David is also the author
of the international bestseller When Corporations Rule the World and The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community . He is co-founder and board chair of YES! Magazine , and a board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies .

See more details at:

Winter 2009: Sustainable Happiness
Beyond the Bailout: Agenda for a New Economy
by David Korten

(This article inspired David Korten's new book)

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Our Economy in Crisis - A Reader's Perspective

Another Crisis Wasted
By Larry Stirling

Philosopher Garrett Hardin committed suicide a few years too soon to witness his prediction of our economic Waterloo coming to fruition.

Hardin’s notion, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” employed the quaint example of a village green overgrazed by neighbors’ cows eventuating in everyone going without milk.

Thus the fate of Easter Island in miniature and the fate of our economy in colossus.

His view was that any resource held “in the public interest” ends up being guarded by no one then subsequently raided by everyone.

That includes the bogus notion that there is such a thing as “The full faith and credit of the United States Government.” There isn’t. Congress does not hock their own land or sign personal notes for their debts. Instead, they impose their disastrous decisions on us.

Dr. Hardin made the mistake of assuming government was a benign force and could be entrusted with policing “the common.”

The government, under its present unchecked democratic control, is a wholesale plunderer of the ultimate public resource, the energy and intelligence of its citizens. Liberal governments treat our businesses and us as slaves to be taxed of resources and steal our time through “mandates.”

The Libertarian’s have this right. Government bribes us with other people’s money and bribes other people with our money grabbing an unconscionable chunk for themselves during the transaction.

Government is a pernicious form of economic cancer resulting in two totally perverse public policies destined to bankrupt any nation: the vilification and over taxation of the productive simultaneous with the creation, adulation, and subsidy of an ever-increasing group of dependents.

Or as Dr. Hardin put it, “We fail to mandate economic sanity because our brains are addled by compassion.”

Dr. Hardin spent many years teaching at the University of California at Santa Barbara. If he were still alive he would have had a clear view of the latest crises generated by our California state government.

The courageous Republican legislators saw the state’s stupendous deficits for what they are: a clear signal that something is mightily amiss in the constitution and operations of California.

To their everlasting credit Republican legislators demanded change.

For months, they were brutalized by the liberal press and their own “RINO” governor for “not understanding” the needs of the voracious state bureaucracy along with their fellow travelers in local government and the myriad other tax-dependent constituencies.

In the end, a few Republicans, instead of demanding reengineering of the state, caved in to the unimaginable pressure.

Thus the courage of the stalwart Republicans was squandered and another crisis wasted.

Already a group of several hundred people have held a rump “constitutional convention summit” in Sacramento to rethink the states current governing document and to find ways around the
Republicans and their sole leverage, the two-thirds vote requirement for annual budget adoption.

Convention proposals include: the elimination of term limits; creation of more, smaller districts to pack the legislature with more liberals; and promoting even more voter fraud by permitting Election Day voter registration.

Every one of those proposals might as well come right out of an ACORN elections-policy committee and probably did.

Each of the above suggestions will substantially steepen our state’s present financial death spiral.

It is true, the state’s unwieldy constitution does need to be amended but here are three major changes needed.

First and foremost constitutionally reverse the disastrous U.S. Supreme Court case ruling in Reynolds v. Sims (377 US 533) which required all state senates to be reapportioned on the basis of population contrary to what their constitutions explicitly provided.

It is the nature of democracies that they lean toward bankrupting their governments. There has to be some brake on that tendency. Thus the existence of senates.

The U.S. Senate is based on geography: two senators per state irrespective of population so that the small states would not be overwhelmed by the large.

California’s constitution, paralleling the Feds, should provide for one senator elected from each county for the same reasons.

The practical advantage of senates is to calm the process, to reflect, to bring some wisdom to the hot-headed, rampaging, greedy Assembly proposals: “to saucer the hot coffee” as George Washington urged upon Alexander Hamilton.

All that was lost at the state level thanks to the Sims decision. Instead of providing mitigating reflection, urban senators were forced to join the spending rush to keep local assembly members from knocking them off their perches.

Next, constitutionally forbid further state borrowing for the obvious reasons. Make it a “pay-as-you-go” rather than an “owe-as-you-go” budget.

And finally, add to the constitution the office of State Auditor. California suffers from major fraud and internal inefficiency. Since there is no constitutional officer designated to check on such profligacy, it goes effectively unaddressed in our state.

Time to think outside the deficit.

Larry Stirling - Retired Superior Court Judge, San Diego

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Friday, February 27, 2009

FORESTVILLE: A Roundabout at Mirabel Rd and Hwy 116

Forestville's Roundabout Dreams Come True
By Vesta Copestakes

Forestville citizens have been dreaming about, designing and lobbying for a roundabout at the intersection of Hwy 116 and Mirabel Road for at least a decade - if not longer. In the February 2002 issue of the Forestville Gazette, Robert Tanner, local advocate for ecologically responsible transportation solutions, illustrated his design and explained why a roundabout would be a vastly superior alternative to a four way traffic signal at this busy downtown intersection. Alan Tilton, Sonoma County traffic engineer and owner of Case Ranch Inn in Forestville, designed several versions of a roundabout and presented them to committees, supervisors, Caltrans planners and Sonoma County Transporation department planners. But until the head honchos at Caltrans and SoCo Roads retired, there was little hope that this alternative to a traffic light in town would ever have a chance of becoming reality.

“Time is on our side...yes it is!”
“Good things come to those who wait.”

Unincorporated towns have a hard time pushing their own agendas in county government. It's the main reason why the Forestville Planning Association was established years ago. Developments that threatened the serenity of our home town were coming our way, and we needed to at least have a say on what came to town. Town meetings were established to create opportunities for information and discussion. The rumble of gravel trucks through town from the two gravel quarries has always been a concern and the proposed bypass around downtown keeps getting farther and farther away as every year it becomes more expensive.

People are attracted to the Small Town spirit of this West Sonoma County community. The thought of a four-way traffic signal in the middle of town has brought many people in from the forest to protest potential air pollution from idling engines as well as braking and accelerating trucks at a traffic signal. We've been proud of being a town with no traffic light.

But the intersection of Highway 116 and Mirabel Road has become a problem as the community grows. Early mornings before school starts has traffic backed up as cars wait at the end of Mirabel Road for Hwy 116 cross-traffic to open up. The hill heading into Pocket Canyon blocks the view of on-coming traffic. There has to be a solution.

When the Crinella/Thiessen project was presented, it was designed around space for the proposed Hwy 116 bypass that comes off Mirabel Road, wraps around the north end of town and comes out past Forestville School at the east end of town. Caltrans had plans of taking the west end hill down to provide a safe line-of-site coming into the intersection from the west. But a traditional four-way stop takes up too much land, and power and maitenance costs are prohibitive. As time passed and the Thiessen Forestville Town Square project went into design review, the County asked Orrin Thiessen to redesign how his development fit with a roundabout instead of a four-way intersection. It was the first ray of hope that the county would be receptive to the roundabout solution.

Notice of a public hearing on Febraury 26th came as a surprise to many. The lone illustration of a roundabout brought joy to every Forestville roundabout advocate's heart. At last, county traffic planners and Caltrans have seen the light for our community, and there's hope for our roundabout dreams.

The Forestville School auditorium was packed to capacity with residents and business people anticipating what road planners had to say. Many were surprised at the enthusiasm Caltrans planners have for roundabouts, pointing out how much safer they are then four-way signalized intersections, etc. Roundabout advocates also brought up the superior safety for pediestrians
who have less distance to travel across a roundabout intersection. Air Pollution concerns were met with praise for slowly moving traffic and no idling engines. With the exception of landowner Ramona Crinella whose land is impacted by this design, people were in general agreement that a roundabout is a vastly superior alternative to a four-way traffic signal at this vital downtown intersection. Many of Ramona's objections can be met with a slight change in the design presented and is already a considered alternative.

Caltrans and SoCo Transportation employees presented drawings, statistics and even an animated computer illustration of how gravel trucks will come through the roundabout - a consistent concern for many. In the end, the community embraced the concept and it looks like our roundabout dreams will come true starting in about two years. For everyone in the community who treasures having no traffic light in Forestville, it looks like we get to keep our downtown traffic-light-free - at least for now.

Below is a report from Forestville Planning Association president Richard Naegle, written prior to the public hearing. It covers timing and funding for both the intersection and the proposed Forestville bypass:

FPA REPORTS The Forestville Planning Association
By Richard Naegle

Many of us have been wondering if there has been any progress on plans for the intersection improvements at Mirabel/Hwy116 as well as for the proposed Bypass around the downtown. In December I questioned Tom O’Kane, Deputy Director of Sonoma County Transportation and Public Works, about these issues. His responses are below.

Hwy 116/Mirabel intersection improvements
“-- according to the 2007 Measure M Strategic Plan, this project is considered Phase I of the Forestville Bypass project – surprisingly enough, the intersection improvement plan is moving along through Caltrans - County staff has met on several occasions this summer & fall w/state personnel to coordinate on a final concept – as you probably know, the state originally had indicated that this would be a signalized intersection, incorporating a number of geometric changes – however, they are favorably considering an alternative design for a round-about – as w/any project that involves Caltrans, there are still an number of hurdles to overcome before this intersection project becomes a reality & we begin the detailed design – I am hopeful that we will receive the go ahead from the state in mid-2009 to proceed to design – once we have this approval from Caltrans, we will be in a better position to give a time frame for construction to begin.”
Forestville Bypass
“– this is a Measure “M” project – the total cost is estimated to be approximately $13.7 million, including the Hwy 116/Mirabel intersection improvements – Measure “M” is shown to contribute $2 million – the project statement indicates that the balance will come from other sources – traffic mitigation funds will supplement the funding, but development donations are also anticipated - the staff has discussed w/ Caltrans the potential for the state to assume the operations & maintenance of the bypass once it is completed – there are some significant right-of-way requirements that will be imposed if this is the approach that is ultimately taken – the County’s capital budget indicates that the construction phase of the project is still several years away.

It is important to note that the turndown in the economy has a significant impact on the revenues for transportation – sales & gas taxes are down substantially – the state has withheld our funds from various sources & while they will ultimately release them to local jurisdictions, it is uncertain when & how this will occur – this uncertainty plus the declining tax revenues has adversely affected our work program schedule – we will continue w/the Hwy 116/Marbel planning w/Caltrans & hopefully, the revenue picture will change for the better at the time we are ready to bid the work…”

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

BUSINESS PROFILE: Almost Home Doggie Day Care

Creating Their Dream Job,
Forestville's Sherrie Owens & Kim Crumb
Almost Home Doggie Day Care

Jake, a Mini-Pincher, visits in half-day increments to rid him of separation anxiety and a fear of large dogs. He no longer cries and barks at the gate of the indoor area. Instead, tail up and wagging, he’s traipsing along near Chubbaca, a large Malamute/Shepherd mix, and Peyton, a lovely Golden retriever, with a smiling Cavalier in tow.

Jake’s real life next door dog, Stella the Cavalier, recently lost her Golden Retriever companion. Jake and Stella have always barked and snarled at each other through the fence, but had never met nose to nose. Their people like each other, but the dog animosity is tiring. Today Jake is showing Stella around the yard and as an “old timer” seems to comfort her on her first day. Without leashes, fences, and turf to defend they are free to be friends.

When Kim and I met, I was breeding Golden Retrievers. Kim knew it was true love when I told him that I loved him as much as my dog Sam. We’ve been married almost thirty years, and have always had at least two dogs in the household. Kim is a Handyman/Carpenter Extraordinaire and has even engineered fire trucks for a living. I have been a Chief Financial Officer for a multitude of not-for-profit organizations. Over the years we have discussed various ideas about a business revolving around dogs.

Late last summer, just a 1½ miles south of downtown Forestville, we found a terrific location for lease on Highway 116. The building is 2,000+ square feet, with over ¼ acre of fenced yard at the back. The owners of the building, Jack and Pat Sissel, allowed us to transform the building and yard into a safe, fun place for dogs. We have set up separate areas inside for large and small dogs, and are able to introduce a new dog to the others without an overwhelming rush of wet dog noses. The yard is also partitioned, but is gated to allow the sections to be joined for maximum running and chasing.

When we have dogs for an overnight stay they go home with us. For our “sleep-overs” the dogs spend the evening by the fire, and then go to bed with our dogs in the kitchen. Because of limited space we only have about 4 dogs maximum that we take home. We had a couple of dogs stay two weeks with us during the Christmas vacation.

We have a fantastic raised bathtub with a ramp and warm water. You can bathe your dogs yourself, or we will bathe them for you. This is a wonderful way to keep your bathroom clean, and spare your back in the process.

Brown ears flopping like thick furry wings, Sophie, the Springer Spaniel rockets by me, pea gravel scattering as Sonoma the Beagle chases after her, intent on the tug she has managed to wrest from him. They dash through one of the gates and on up through the bushes at the rear fence. About the yard, singly, or in small groups several more assorted dogs rest, play, or sniff. From a dog’s perspective this must be perfection, and it is pretty darn great for us too.

Sherrie Owens and Ki crumb: 707-823-4663

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EFREN CARILLO: Budget, Water, and Health Care: Facing a Drought!

Budget, Water, and Health Care: Facing a Drought!

My first month has been a whirlwind. Even before taking office, I attended briefings on our County’s dire budget position. Our General Fund deficit is projected at over $22 million in the coming year. Administrators began the process of analyzing our position and planning action earlier this year than ever before. As a result we’ve already begun the difficult budget process, balancing our dwindling resources with our ongoing commitment to vital public services.

While Sonoma County finds itself in better financial shape than many other County governments in California, we still face difficult decisions. Working with community members, we will ensure that we emerge from this process preserving needed services and with an honest budget that reflects our citizen’s priorities.

One bright light at this difficult time is Sonoma County’s ongoing leadership in advancing climate protection efforts. The Board has begun its process for launching the Sonoma County Energy Independence Project. Under legislation that passed last year (AB811), Sonoma County is poised to be first in California to establish an innovative and wide spread renewable energy generation and water and energy conservation program for residential and commercial buildings.

This effort, which will not cost tax payers one dime, will allow home and business owners new access to green technology that save energy, water, and generates green house gas free energy. This program will also provide green jobs employing our residents. I’ve just returned from meeting with Obama Transition Team members in Washington, DC about securing funds for this innovative program.

Sonoma County has a broader climate protection agenda which includes reducing green house gas levels by 25% of 1990 levels by 2015.

Without a torrential downpour in the next month, we are heading into what has been dubbed the most severe drought in California history. A February 2nd news conference held by the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) raised the red flag that reservoir storage levels in Lakes Sonoma and Mendocino are at or near historic lows.

Also announced was the lowering of Russian River water releases to Federally mandated minimum flows in order to protect Coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead trout, which are listed on the endangered species list. Agriculture, recreation, and tourism also depend on water releases and will be affected by drought conditions.

Preparing for worse case scenarios, SCWA will call for a minimum 30% rationing order by early March.

This drought will affect us all. If we do not heed a call for reducing water usage, Lake Mendocino levels are projected to reach a level so low that portions of the Russian River may run dry! Urban water users consume about half of the water taken from the Russian River, while agriculture consumes the rest…and in the West County, many of us depend on private wells for our water.
SCWA is working with grape growers in the Russian River watershed to develop irrigation best management practices which will help reduce water use, and is working to implement a volunteer monitoring program of water levels throughout the Sonoma Valley basin to evaluate how the drought is affecting groundwater.

Reduce the amount of water you use starting right now!

Health Care:
Health programs have been targeted for reductions due to the State of California’s projected $41.6 billion deficit this fiscal year. The Governor proposes many actions including eliminating the California Children and Families Commission and eliminating 50% of local funds paid to support children’s programs.

The Sonoma Children and Families Commission (Sonoma First 5), is a valuable and effective resource which has expanded local enrollment in quality early childhood education programs, increased children’s access to health insurance and pediatric dental care, and provided parent education and support.

Fortunately, President Obama signed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization which will expand health coverage to approximately 12,000 children in Sonoma County. Making sure that every child in Sonoma County has access to affordable health care is critical to children, their families, and our community. For more information about the Healthy Families program, contact: Access to Health Care at 565-4471 or (Spanish speakers) 565-4476

I am truly enjoying my work for the Fifth District. If you have any concerns or questions, you’re welcome to contact my office at 565-2241-kindly, Efren

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ASK ECO GIRL: Pursuing Your Green Job Dreams

Pursuing Your Green Job Dreams

Dear EcoGirl: I want to get a green job, so that my work can help nurture the planet’s well-being. Where do I start? Signed, Job Seeker

Dear Job Seeker: Thank you for your question. Yes, greening our work activities is a vital way for us to be part of the solution. So, it’s wonderful to see eco-jobs being increasingly discussed in books, magazines, websites, courses, and conferences.

Even President Obama’s proposed economic stimulus plan includes provisions for creating green jobs, and encouraging a clean-energy economy, by investing in renewable energy, efficiency, public transit, and the like.

This combination of ecological, economic, and employment objectives has been championed for years by grassroots activists, such as the Apollo Alliance ( and Van Jones, president of Green for All and author of The Green Collar Economy.

Through this approach, we can address multiple problems at once — reducing fossil fuel use (thus trimming greenhouse gasses and health-harming pollutants); generating good jobs (hence lowering poverty rates and encouraging economic equity); and even saving money.

However, to achieve these outcomes, we need to pay attention to the details. For instance, with so many folks wanting to seem ecological, it’s vital that we ensure that truly earth-friendly approaches are prioritized and funded. To further explore the definitions, claims, and realities of green jobs, check out the articles at ( and (

Steps to success
So how can a job-seeker skillfully align with this trend?

1) Make a realistic plan. Paid jobs in this arena are still just emerging, so this isn’t necessarily a quick way to make money. You’re more likely to succeed if you connect to your passion, plan for the long-term, and develop your ability to produce tangible results.

2) Refine your understanding of green, recognizing that it’s a spectrum not an absolute. Despite our common casual language, jobs aren’t really dividable into green and non-green ones, but rather come in varying shades.

My first criteria in assessing any activity’s green level is: How quickly and meaningfully does it help us shift from a negative to a positive relationship with the planet’s vital systems? With time so short and the tasks so large, it’s vital that we emphasize actions with the most impact.
Viewed from this perspective, earth-nurturing jobs can include not only those making essential new eco-products, but also those repairing old items, selling used ones, implementing energy efficiencies, and more. Especially look for activities that reduce fossil fuel use, resource extraction, habitat destruction, pollution, and waste.

3) Green the job you have. Explore ways to better align your company’s offerings and actions with the planet’s needs, thus reducing your organization’s eco-footprint and positioning it well for the future. Green’s current popularity can improve your proposal’s chances. Also, trim company expenses in ways that are eco-friendly (such as buying select quality products), not earth-harmful (such as purchasing cheap throwaway items). Encourage your field’s industry groups to support governmental ecological targets, recognizing that everyone’s survival depends on a functioning planet. Also, green your personal job activities, for instance by carpooling, biking, or taking public transit to work.

4) Look for green job options that fit you. If you’re seeking a new eco-job, don’t limit yourself to the “green collar” jobs being primarily suggested for blue collar workers. Not everyone would make a great solar installer. Instead, consider the skills you want to offer and the causes and organizations you’d like to serve. Even green companies need accountants and salespeople!

5) Continue developing yourself. Educate yourself about sustainability, to understand the remedies that will really make a difference. Cultivate the skills you’ll need for the roles you want to play. Connect with earth-friendly allies and organizations, to stay informed about this trend as it evolves. Consider volunteering, to gain both experience and credentials.

There are many resources to help you on your chosen path. Here are three to get you started.

• The Feb. 28 Santa Rosa gathering, “Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference Report Back Panel Presentation,” will feature representatives of the Youth Green Jobs Sonoma program (, 236-7335).

• Hopland’s Solar Living Institute (, 744-2017) offers classes on sustainable living.

• I’ve created a webpage with links to green jobs (
Email your questions about going green to for possible inclusion in future columns. View past columns at . “EcoGirl: Encouraging the eco-hero in everyone.”

© Copyright Patricia Dines, 2008. All rights reserved.


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CINEMA CHATTER: Defiance. Revolutionary Road, Revolutionary Road

Defiance, Revolutionary Road, The Rape of Europa

The best movies are the ones that make you feel like you are in the movie living it instead of sitting somewhere only watching. Director Edward Zwick has created a World War Two action adventure that pulls you right the forest of Belarus, A small country between Poland and Russia in Defiance.

The Nazi’s are moving east to Russia looting, killing and arresting Jews for deportation to the labor camps. You are introduced to the Bielski brothers who come home to find their parents and their sister slain by Reich followers and vow revenge. These Jewish freedom fighters Tuvia (Daniel Craig) and Zus (Liev Schrieber) didn’t seek their revenge in the usual way.

They started camping in the forest to be safe and slowly different refugees drifted into their camp. Every time they go foraging for food the scouts would return with 3 or 5 more displaced Jews. Eventually they realize they needed to build a community deep in the forest where they could be safe.

With over a thousand refugees these brothers take old men, women and children deep into the forest and set up a community putting everyone to work building, cooking sewing all the necessary skills to keep all these people housed and fed. This community forms its own militia and do their share of resistance fighting too; Cinematographer Eduardo Serra does his job so well you can feel the chill of the temperature and almost taste the snow.

Screen writers Edward Zwick and Clayton Frohman have taken this little known true story of resistance and survival in a time of massive death and destructions. Composer James Newton Howard’s Oscar nominated score is the perfect punctuation to this larger than life story of courage and leadership. Of all the Nazi stories available this season I think Defiance is the most cinematically exciting in all aspects.

If you prefer your wars in the home Revolutionary Road is for you. Director Sam Mendes often delves into complicated family issues. Previously in The Road to Perdition and American Beauty he cut through behavioral veneers and gets right to the issues of humanity.

Revolutionary Road is a bleak and startling look at midcentury life, warts and all. Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio portray Frank and April Wheeler who fall in love, marry and move to the suburbs of New York and have children. Once they are firmly ensconced into their comfortable lives these two people how trapped they are by their choices and how unfulfilled their lives are. The acting between these two is so intimate you feel like a voyeur watching some scenes.

Screen writer Justin Haythe Gives us a story teeming with passion while being both concise and austere. Kudos to the production designer, costume designer and art directors who nailed the era in all details large and small. It was easy on the eyes (Thank You Roger Deakins) while being emotionally gut wrenching. A hard movie to watch but a beautifully crafted film with amazing acting by the whole cast.

My documentary pick is The Rape of Europa. This remarkably informative documentary of how the Nazi war machine systematically fleeced European museums and citizens of great art. The sheer number of pieces stolen was staggering.

The documentary also tells what length the curators of the Louvre in Paris and The Hermitage in St. Petersburg went to so they could protect the art. They even moved the enormous statue Winged Victory from the Louvre. When the Russians arrived in Germany they took as much back to the homeland as they could.

This fantastic film continues by explaining how art historians and curators rescued what they could and tried to reunite the art with the families and museums that lost them. Ownership by some pieces is still being sorted out.

If you are interested in European art or prefer documentaries this one entertains and informs also. Congratulations to Directors Richard Berge and Bonni Cohen for producing such a comprehensive time line to the greatest art theft in history.

If you prefer home viewing to theatre going there a some Oscar nominated films available for home viewing. Right now The Visitor, The Duchess, Dark Knight Wall-E, Man on Wire, In Bruges, Iron Man, Tropic Thunder and Vicki Christina Barcelona are all available. On Feb 20th Frozen River with Melissa Leo’s nominated performance that is really special will be available and finally on Feb 17th The Changeling with Angela Jolie will be available for home viewing. Enjoy the plethora of fine movies available now it is quite a treasure chest of experiences.


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Allergy describes a hypersensitivity reaction in which the body displays an excessively or abnormal sensitive response. Sources of allergens vary from person to person and may include various foods, dander, pollens, molds and yeasts. In foods, some reactions are immediate while others do not take place for several hours. Asthma, itchy eyes, rash, swelling, tiredness and acute gastrointestinal distress are common presentations of this type of immediate response. Delayed food reactions are thought to be more common than immediate food response. Poor diet, stress, infection, chemicals, drugs, environmental toxins and genetic predisposition are possible contributing factors to the development of allergies.

In Chinese Medicine, food allergies can be both an excess and a deficient syndrome. It is up to the Spleen and Stomach to provide transformation and transportation of all foods which enter the body. I remember seventeen years ago one of my Taoist teachers said “if you don’t know what to treat you can always treat the Spleen/Stomach and get good results.” Hippocrates said more than 2000 years ago, “All diseases begin in the gut.” We have to look at the digestive system when we try to treat any degenerative disease no matter how unrelated it may seem to the condition. I have seen in my practice that the patients who have long standing problems, such as headaches, allergies and excess phlegm, have all been allergic to some food, which they eat almost daily. Several of them recently went through a food allergy test and one patient suffered form a severe allergy to garlic while the other one suffered from an allergy to milk. Since having the food allergy test both have done incredible with the results and changes they have made.

The role of the enteric nervous system is to manage every aspect of digestion from the esophagus to the stomach, small intestine, and colon. The connection between the brain lies at the heart of many woes both physical and psychiatric. Ailments like anxiety, depression, irritable bowel, ulcers and constipation manifest as symptoms at the brain and gut level. The majority of patients with anxiety and depression will also have alterations of their GI tract. In Western diagnosis, gut flora protects your immune system. In Chinese Medicine, the Spleen/Stomach suffers and then the immune system is thrown off and is responsible for the allergic reaction. When this occurs due to a deficiency with the organs, the reactions become hyperactive and the person starts reacting to foods and the environment. The emotion for the Spleen is over-worry and over-thinking and these two help create a deficiency in the organ system. I believe in our society that this is a common response to stress and work. The Stomach during these times cannot perform its function properly due to this type of emotion. The Spleen/Stomach has three basic physiological functions: digestion of food, absorption of nutrients into the body and keeping toxins out of the body.

It is my experience that people who have never had allergies often become allergic after sustained damage to their Spleen/Stomach. If a patient is eating something everyday that they are allergic to than these systems are becoming depleted over time. In Western Medicine, when the immune system is not functioning properly the mucous membranes start over-producing mucus and there is an overabundance of phlegm that just hangs out in the body. Because the system is breaking down, the Spleen/Stomach can no longer transform and transport this phlegm and it gets lodged in the body. Our immune system can malfunction in at least three ways. First, it can be weakened so that it cannot mount up an adequate response to fight off usual stresses as seen in cancer. Second, it can overreact in a way where it is hypersensitive to normal stimuli, as occurs in asthma, migraine or food allergies. This result is not only using up the immune reserves of the body, but it may cause immune reactions that create tissue injury. Third, it can go on as mentioned to create auto immune reactions against our own tissues. In either way, a food allergy test along with acupuncture and herbs can help rebalance the system back into a healthy, vibrant individual. I am continuing to be amazed at the transformation that my patients are experiencing due to these types of changes.

Marcy Basel is currently in private practice in Sebastopol and has been using Acupuncture and Herbs for over seventeen years. She has an extensive pharmacy on location and does Nutrition and Cranial Sacral work. To make an appointment or to get information please call 707-824-8747. Marcy also offers a free fifteen-minute consultation on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.


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GAIL'S GARDEN: Questions and Answers About Gardening

The first in a continuing series: Everything you wanted to know about gardening, but were afraid to ask

Do you have a gardening question you have always been afraid to ask?
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What is the difference between a perennial and an annual?

An annual is a plant that only lives for one year: we are all familiar with annual vegetables like tomatoes, peas, and corn which must be replanted every year. In the flower garden pansies, California poppies, petunias, and sweet peas are all familiar annuals. These annual plants complete their life cycle of birth, flowering, seed production, and death within one year. They are almost always grown from seed: either by you, the home gardener, or by the nursery where you buy them in 4” pots or six-packs.

A perennial is a plant that normally lives for several years: in the vegetable garden we think of artichokes, rhubarb, and asparagus. Some perennials are evergreen, some lose their leaves, and some die back almost to the ground, but in all perennials at least the root structure persists throughout the year to produce new growth in the spring. In the flower garden there many common perennials that die almost to the ground in cold weather: Peruvian lily (alstroemeria), Shasta daisy (Chrysanthemum maximum), gladiolus, and iris. Common evergreen perennials for our Mediterranean climate are lavender, rosemary, penstemon, and deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens: a wonderful California native grass).

What is the difference between compost and mulch?

So many people are confused about this! Compost is the aerobically decomposed remnants of organic matter. When you put your garden clippings into the green bin, the waste company takes all those grass mowing, tree trimming, and rose pruning wastes to Sonoma Compost on Mecham Road in Petaluma. There they are chopped and mixed, aged and heated until they decay into a wonderful, weed-free soil amendment and fertilizer called compost.

See for all the details on some great products for your garden’s long term health, and a healthier planet! You can also make your own compost: check the back of your Sunset Western Garden Book for many different options.

Use compost to amend your soil by spreading it on the surface two to four inches deep, by rototilling it in, or by mixing it into each planting hole you dig (use 25% compost and 75% native soil in the hole). Because of the multitude of soil nutrients and organisms found in compost, it has the unique ability to improve both sandy and clay soils, provide natural time-release fertilizer to all your plants, and encourage the health of beneficial soil dwellers like earthworms.

Ok, so what is mulch? A mulch is anything you spread over the surface of the garden to control weeds, hold moisture, and prevent erosion. A mulch can be organic or inorganic. Inorganic mulches that we see commonly used around Sonoma County are gravel and landscape fabric: these add no nutrients to the soil. A commonly used organic mulch is wood chips: these break down very slowly and add minimal amounts of nutrition to your soil.

So why are some of the composts called mulches? Because compost makes a great mulch! Spread over the surface of exposed garden soil, it provides weed control, holds water, prevents erosion, and feeds the soil: all in one operation. That’s why I use only compost for my mulching needs: two to four inches every other year (with a layer of newspaper or cardboard over any really tough weeds) take care of weeding and feeding my garden: easy, economical, and green. Try it: you’ll be amazed at the results!

Edible and Ornamental!

Yes, the time has come to turn our thoughts to the vegetable garden. You can start planting vegetables outside now: starts and seeds are available at all our great local nurseries.

I know many of us think of the vegetable garden as a separate garden from our ornamental or flower garden, and we try to put it way back in an out of the way spot so that it is out of sight in down times. But I think we need to re-examine this frame of mind: why hide your edibles?

There are so many edible plants that are attractive to look at, why not let them share space with your shrubs and flowers?

There are many advantages to mixing edibles and ornamentals throughout the garden.
If your strawberries are planted near the back door, not only do they provide a nice groundcover around your roses or iris, but they are handy for picking every time you go out. Lettuce and other salad greens grown near the patio are much more likely to get the frequent picking and watering they need than those that languish in the far corner of the yard. When your herbs are grown in pots outside the kitchen door, harvesting and using them becomes a simple and healthful part of everyday meal preparation. I love to grow rosemary near the barbeque where it can be quickly picked and thrown on meats as they cook, or you can use those long stems to make shish kabob skewers.

Herbs like oregano, basil, lavender and sage are very attractive and deserve to be grown in the flower beds for enjoyment of their eye-appeal, as well as their taste.

Many plants which you may already grow as ornamentals produce edible parts which can contribute to your family’s healthy, homegrown eating. Did you know that bamboo sprouts are good eating? Harvest the shoots when they are less than 1 foot tall, remove the tough outer leaves and root section, slice thinly, and boil for 20 minutes (do not eat them raw, as them contain toxic substances!). They are crunchy and nutritious (high in potassium) additions to salads, stir-frys, and soups.

Of course, you will need to use organic growing methods with any plants which you intend to harvest for food. I hope that you have already banished all chemical products from your entire garden, but even organic/natural products can be harmful if eaten: always check labels for safety before using on food crops.

Last summer I visited a wonderful garden in the North of England, Hutton-in-the-Forest, where the flower borders were anchored by apple trees interplanted with roses: beautiful and edible! Rose hips, those large red or orange fruits produced on your roses if you forget to prune, as high in vitamin C, and make excellent jams or tea. Check out rose hip recipes at If you want to grow roses especially for big, juicy hips, varieties of Rosa rugosa are recommended.

Many other shrubs and trees that we commonly use as ornamentals produce edible fruits: oregon grape (Mahonia), quince (Chaenomeles), currant (Ribes), pineapple guava (Feijoa) and strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo). The bay tree (Larus nobilis) is a valuable evergreen ornamental whose leaves can be used in cooking.

Orchard trees and vines can be easily integrated into the garden setting: Meyer lemon, persimmon, apple, plum, and olive are all beautiful and productive in our climate. If you have a frost-protected area, you can try oranges and other citrus. I love an arbor smothered in grape vines: pluck the fruit, then sit and relax a while in the shade.

Don’t forget than there are many easy-to-grow edible flowers that add taste and color to salads, cakes, and even cheeses! Some of my favorites are pansies (Viola), nasturtiums, borage, roses, lavender, mint, and rosemary. For lots of great recipes and fun ideas check out

Start your beautiful edible garden today! If you need planning help, call Gail at 829-2455 for a in-home consultation. Happy home-grown eating!

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February is the month of LOVE. Valentine’s Day offers a wonderful opportunity to stop and look more closely at this ageless subject. Sometimes, the re-examining of a word or topic can pierce the armor we may have placed around the subject and a new way of looking at the topic results. Or sometimes, when we encounter another and are shown great love and consideration, we stop and reshape our way of living life. With such newness, a rich vitality can be rekindled. And what can be more exciting than living life with vitality!

Webster’s Dictionary gave the following definition about LOVE.
“A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection.”

Affection used in the definition of love can be described as kindness, caring, fondness and goodwill.

I think it’s safe to say that all of us want our children and/or the children we know and love to be loving…to treat others with kindness, with care, with fondness and goodwill.

Can we have an active part in assuring that our children do grow up as LOVING individuals?
I believe that you… that all of us have a new opportunity everyday, in every moment and in every way to model either LOVE or non-LOVE! When you are involved with children, you have a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate LOVE.

Every Day in Every Moment
LOVE or non-LOVE!

Children are watching you ALL the time! Even when they do not appear to be. The old saying is that “teachers have eyes in the back of their head”. Well, children have extraordinary perception in their eyes and ears!

Everything you say and do is very much heard. And I’ve even had children pick up on the things I think! So, what amazing opportunities to model LOVE!

Many years ago I was working in a Child Developmental Day Care Center. It was near the end of the day and we only had 4 children remaining. My co-teacher and I were observing the children and talking as they worked on an art project and talking amongst themselves. All of a sudden one of the 4-year-old girls looked up at us and said, “Why do you talk so nicely to each other?” Yes, every moment of every day you are being watched!

Whether you are talking to your co-teacher, your partner, a friend or your child, all conversations and interactions are an opportunity to spread the LOVE!

7 Ways of Modeling LOVE
• Use respectful language & a gentle tone in conversations.
• Invite cooperation, do not demand obedience.
• Create an environment of peacefulness and harmlessness in your home or classroom.
• Offer choices allowing for children’s individual preferences.
• Allow children to see peaceful disagreements occur and peaceful solutions reached.
• Consider your child’s development level when making requests.
• Create an age-appropriate home environment, allowing for your child/rens’ play and work.
In most situations, the way a child is treated is the way a child will respond. And even when a child is being inappropriate, an adults response to him/her, needs to be
polite and harmless. Anger should not breed anger!

Pam Leo suggests if you question whether or not your language is appropriate, ask yourself: “Would I speak in this manner to my best friend?” If not, then perhaps you want to re-think your languaging.

You never know when your happy smile, or your kind words or your caring actions are just the LOVE that is deeply needed by an individual in that moment!

Your LOVE is like the pebble being dropped into the pond, creating ripple after ripple.

Your LOVE likewise spreads person to person to person to person!

Sharon Ann Wikoff holds two California teaching credentials and is an EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Practitioner. Sharon hosts the radio program, The VOICE of CHANGE. This month she hosts the teleclass: Creating Play Environments for Children. Details can be found on her website:

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ASK THE LOAN MAN: Buying a House with No Money Down

Can I still buy a house with no money down?

I was kind of stuck on what to write for this month’s article and so I started to look back at what I had written over the years and I saw headlines like these:

Is now a good time to buy a house? – January 2008
Risky Income Documentation? – August 2007
We have hit rock bottom and we are clawing our way back up! – March 2008
Time Travel for better interest rates. – May 2008
Can I still buy a house with no money down? – February 2008

I realized that I could take any one of these topics and write about it today. Yes, I know I said that we had hit bottom in March 2008 and there is a chance I was wrong…… the funny thing is I believed it then and I think I believe it now. What can I say, I’m a positive guy.

A lot has changed in a few short years, I was writing about risky income documentation in August 2007. Stated Income, NO DOC loans and the like were available then and a few short months later they were gone. So what I decided to do was steal my own headline from a year ago and write the article today with the rules and programs of February 2009… so here goes.
Last year I wrote that there were 5 different loan programs that will allow you to get into a home with no money down. Several of those programs are now gone along with DPA’s or Down Payment Assistance Programs but we do have 2 true no money down programs available today and we have a couple low down payment programs available as well.

We have USDA home loans and VA home loans available with no money down. Both of these are government programs and both are available to a very specific group of people. The VA is for veterans or a veteran and their spouse. The USDA loan is available to people who make less than 115% of the median income for their area and want to live in smaller cities and towns (all of west county is OK, Windsor, Sonoma, Agua Caliente fit also). The other commonality of these loans is that they require funding fees but no monthly mortgage insurance (that’s good!).

We have a very special loan just for teachers that is backed by their retirement system. I am talking about a Cal STRS loan with just 3% down payment. Teachers, you will need to have 1% of your own funds and 2% can be a gift from a family member. This loan is unique in that you get a regular 80% 1st mortgage and then we get you a 17% 2nd mortgage from Cal STRS and there are no payments due on that 2nd mortgage for 5 years. I would love to help some teachers with this loan, I want teachers to be a part of the community and own a home here and I do believe now is the time to make that happen.

Lastly we have good old FHA loans which was a huge part of my business in 2008. FHA requires a 3.5% down payment and it can all be a gift from an appropriate source. With this loan, there are no income or geographic restrictions and you don’t have to be a teacher or a first time buyer. FHA is a little more lenient on credit scores and job histories as well. This has proven to be a wonderful tool for many people and it is a good market for FHA loans.

So….. yes Virginia! There are no and low down home loans available today.

I welcome questions about home loans and the real estate market in general. Please let me know what you want to hear about in future articles.

Hans Bruhner, CMPS is licensed in CA & HI. If you have a question, please contact Hans at (707) 887-1275 or or stop by First Priority Financial, Inc. is licensed by the CA DRE #00654852.

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MITZVAH MOMENTS - Wonderful Ways with with Water

And you thought last year was dry! We may be entering the worst drought in California history. After two dry years, Santa Rosa’s rainfall since July is only 42% of normal. January’s rainfall was just 0.61 inches––10% of normal. The depth of the Sierra snow pack (61% of normal) and its water content (76% of normal) will be even less if the unseasonably warm weather we’re having continues.

Rationing’s on the way. Although February is expected to somewhat wetter, it won’t bring the 12 inches of rain needed to bring totals up to normal. On February 2nd, the Sonoma County Water Agency projected water storage to hit new historical low levels and warned that a minimum of 30 to 50% mandatory rationing was likely within weeks. The daily water use per person in a single-family home averages just over 69 gallons, so we may need to reduce that to about 35 to 49 gallons. Switching to more efficient fixtures and regularly stopping leaks can reduce daily use per person to 45 gallons––without significant lifestyle changes. However, simple lifestyle changes can reduce our usage further. We all need to go on “drought watch” right now!

Toilet flushing uses 25-30% of a household’s water––5.8 billion gal/day in the U.S.
• A leaking toilet can use up to 200 gal/day of water. Put 2-3 drops of food coloring in the tank to check. If the water in the bowl changes color within 30 seconds, there’s a leak.
• Replace pre-1992 toilets with low-flush toilets (1.6 gal/flush instead of 3.5 or even 7 gal/flush). Better yet, new high-efficiency toilets (HETs) use 20% less water than low-flush toilets. Several water companies are offering rebates of $150 to make the switch; get information at or call your local water company.
• If you aren’t able to replace your toilet, put a ½ gallon plastic bottle filled with water in the tank and save ½ gallon per flush.
• Don’t flush the toilet unnecessarily and don’t use it as a wastebasket for facial tissue, hair, and etc.

Other water wasters––
• A garbage disposal uses 4 gal/minute of water; to keep it from smelling, the water needs to run for 30-60 seconds after the food scraps are shredded. Try composting instead; go to or call 707-565-3375 for some easy options. • A faucet leaking one drop a minute can waste 2700 gal/year of water. For information on repairs and water saving, go to
• Running the tap while brushing your teeth can use 10 gallons of water vs. ½ gallon if you wet the brush and rinse briefly.
• Washing hands or shaving under running water uses 4-19 gallons more water than filling the basin.
• Showering for less than 5 minutes can save 1,000 gal/month. Every extra minute uses 3-7 gallons of water.
• Only watering outside between midnight and 6 AM can save 300 gal/month.
• Not watering when it’s windy can save another 300 gal/month.
• Go to for more water saving tips.
When the economy slows down, so should your speed. In a North Carolina study, economists found that when government revenues dry up, police write more speeding tickets––for every 1% drop in government revenue, the number of traffic tickets per capita the next year increased by 30%. So save yourself money, use less fossil fuel, and reduce global warming by driving slower.

PG&E projects lower heating bills this month. The slowing economy has reduced natural gas use by industry and businesses, so more is available. However, fossil fuel use ties in with global warming, climate change, and water shortages. So it’s still critical to reduce our consumption. PG&E is offering discounts for using less gas. Go to to see clever talking “appliance-grams,” with tips on saving natural gas, which you can also send to family and friends.

Here’s a sweet mitzvah for you, your health, and the planet. Eat more chocolate––make that Fair Trade chocolate. Dagoba® Organic Chocolate seeks sustainably grown cacao from producers that reinvest in communities and the environment. Go to for more information. Find Dagoba® chocolate at Whole Foods and Pacific Markets. Part of the proceeds from each bar helps to fund tree-planting projects in Costa Rica.

Tish Levee
© Copyright Tish Levee, 2009. All rights reserved.


Hi Mitzvah,

I read your blog Wonderful ways with water and would love to part of the solution. I am the inventor so SelectAFlush ( which is a Dual Flush Conversion kit that fits most toilets. The kit can be purchased on our website for under $40.00 and saves thousands of gallons of water for families. I love the fact that they don't have to throw their toilet in the dump which adds to the green factor. I thought you might want to add use to your blog as another tool in the water savings tool box.

Thank you,
David Bauer
SelectAFlush LLC
"A Little Flush Goes A Long Way"
Dual Flush Conversion Kits
Our Product:

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Sonoma County Restaurant Review - Chef Patrick's in Guerneville

Chef Patrick's in Downtown Guerneville
in Pat's Restaurant is a Wonderful Surprise

Restaurant Review
By Carolyn Horan

CHEF PATRICK’s in Pat's Restaurant in Guerneville

In this job, I am always on the lookout for an interesting restaurant that has great food, friendly staff and reasonable prices. I was enjoying my weekly massage with Pam Hedinger, owner of Touch of Heaven in Guerneville, when she told me about Chef Patrick who serves dinner at Pat’s Restaurant in Guerneville on Main Street. Now Pat’s, for a long time, has been a favorite place of mine for breakfast and lunch because of their good food and good service. Pat’s is in a long narrow building with a counter on one side and booths on the other side. Next to the kitchen at the back is a rather dark room with tables which also connects to Pat’s bar. So I was a bit skeptical about this new gourmet chef. But one Saturday evening four friends and I went to check it out. Eureka! Like magic, about 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. a sign goes up outside the window of the diner that says “CHEF PATRICK”. We entered through the bar and a friendly gentleman greeted us. When we told him we came for dinner he escorted us through the door into the back room. A very friendly waitress then joined him and we were on our way to a unique culinary experience.

Our party ordered different entrees so we had a chance to taste them all. Two people had Fillet Mignon with blue cheese, I had sole stuffed with crab, one had lamb and the other savored the special Risotto dish. Every meal was cooked to perfection and the presentation was first class. We all shared a crème brulee and the signature dessert, “Bread Pudding” (which was the best I have had in a long time). The most expensive entree was the steak which ran about $23.00. The prices are very reasonable, including the wine. What a pleasant surprise since the cost of wine can often be the most expensive part of your bill.

When I interviewed Patrick Wong I found he lives in Petaluma with his wife, Sandra, and their two children, a boy 7 and a girl 6. He met Richard Hines, owner of Pat’s, who agreed to lease space to Patrick to operate his business. Pat’s is open for breakfast and lunch from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Chef Patrick comes in about 3:30 to start cooking for the dinner service which starts at 5:00 p.m. This works well and gives Patrick a chance to pick up his kids from school before he goes off to Guerneville. Prior to coming to Guerneville, Patrick worked in San Francisco for a private catering firm that served wealthy clients and private parties. When he came to this country from Vietnam Patrick found that he could get work in the restaurant business. He ended up going to a cooking school and worked for a time for the Sheraton Hotel. When I asked him why he decided to become a Chef he said he now loves cooking and creating good food, he likes meeting his customers and making them smile. In general, he said everything about his career is “all joyful”.

Patrick said he can’t afford to advertise but he steered me to a web site called Trip Advisors where people send in tips from their travels. I found comments from people who had visited the Russian River area that rated Chef Patrick’s highly and comments were all positive. Here are three examples: “Amazing find – unlikely spot.” “What is he doing in this little town? We don’t know. We just feel lucky we found him.”

“Unbelievably good.” The day I did this interview the waitress said a couple having a drink in the bar had come for dinner because they had heard of Chef Patrick. She had their card which she showed me and the patron was an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America.

Here is what Chef Patrick’s says about his cooking. He specializes in French and Italian cuisine and emphasizes preparing basic “comfort” food at reasonable prices. Everything he makes is gourmet using seasonal food and local fresh produce because the prices are a good value when in season. He creates different flavors using a variety of spices and each recipe is unique.

I loved the food and the service was excellent. Chef Patrick does all the cooking and still finds time to check on your table and make sure you have everything you need. That might not last as the word gets out. The menu is varied and includes things like Pan Seared Salmon, Roasted Pork Loin, Chicken Marsala, Saut’eed Prawns Provencial, grilled New York Steak, Vegetarian Capellini and more. The prices are reasonable and I think you will have a good time and be glad you gave Chef Patrick a try. Dinner is served Thursday through Monday between the hours of 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. The address is 16236 Main Street, Guerneville, CA. The phone number is 869 9161.


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WINE BANTER - Value Wine - By John Haggard

Finding a Value Wine You Can Afford

As an owner of a wine store during a recession, I have noticed that we now sell twenty wines under $10 as opposed to just two four years ago. There is a huge demand for every day wines, no doubt because of the current economy.

First of all, what is value? To me, there are two key elements that make a value wine (one of them is often lacking): price, AND quality. It’s very easy to find inexpensive wines. The task, is to find inexpensive quality wines, and that makes a “value wine”.

How are some wineries able to produce a quality wine at, say, $9.99, and another, not less than $49.99. Well, there are the usual supply and demand factors involved, mixed with some regional factors. In Sonoma, for example, there are the costs of doing business in California, tied with real estate costs making the average bottle start out significantly higher than its counterpart in, say, France, Spain or Portugal, where many families may have owned the land for centuries (usually the mortgage is paid off by now…) and bottling costs and other costs associated with producing wine are significantly lower as there are rather less government restrictions on producing wine where it has been done for so long.

I am the first to always try and buy local, but it has been my experience that finding value wines from Sonoma is a task, but well worth the effort to find them. By definition, most of Sonoma’s wineries are small production and it takes large production to get lower costs. There are some you will find at supermarkets (Chateaux St. Jean chardonnay), and, of course, the Russian River’s own Korbel produces quality sparkling wines that are readily available just about anywhere. White wines are less expensive than reds on average. Bohemian Highway (actually bottling in Napa), produces some whites that are really exceptional for the price – from their Chardonnay which is lightly oaked to their Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, all retailing at about $8.99. They make a selection of reds too, but I have found their quality is consistently better on their white wines. Balletto produces a range of quality local wines that are relatively inexpensive. Their pinot gris, ($12+), has soft round fruit flavors and is a delicious sipping wine which can be paired with lighter fair such as Caesar salad, white fish and poultry. Their 2007 pinot noir, which is one of the best vintages I’ve tasted of their pinot noirs ($20-25), though youthful, will age well and can be opened now if decanted for a minimum of thirty minutes. The Balletto Zinfandel from 2006 ($19+ retail) has great structure, red and black fruit and isn’t your typical barbeque wine in this price point, and their Syrah from 2006 ($20-$25) stands up to many $40 syrahs.

Some local wineries are producing great blends. Sapphire Hill’s “The Harlot” is a blend of Russian River Zinfandel and Syrah, a big, robust, red-fruit filled dry red wine with ample new French Oak delivering a vanilla spice to the wine ($18+). Malm Cellars of Sonoma makes a “Cross-Blend” of Sonoma County Syrah and Cabernet which is broad but not tannic on the palate. Spicy red fruit, hints of vanilla, with a long finish, pairing well with foods such as a grilled rare flank steak ($18+).

Portugal and Spain produce some wonderful value wines and are easy to find locally in Sonoma. I find the tempranillo’s from Spain to be great food wines. Tempranillo is a red grape varietal and one of the top selling red table wines from Spain. The Douro and Dao regions of Northern Portugal produce excellent red value wines, many retailing under $10 here, great for sipping or pairing with food. These red wines are often soft-tannined wines with subtle mineral notes and low alcohol.

Bulk buying will bring the price down of your wine purchases. We offer mixed case discounts as do many retail stores. Wineries will offer you further discounts if you join their wine clubs. Shop local, shop around.

John Haggard is owner of Sophie’s Cellars, The Sonoma Wine & Cheese Market in Monte Rio, California. Sophie’s Cellars is open 11am – 7pm, closed only on Wednesdays.


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