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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

Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Toy Drives of Sonoma County

Taking Care of our Children on the Holidays

Below is a story of one family's personal efforts to provide toys for homeless children. There are Toy drives throughout Sonoma County as we approach the Holidays - Please participate in one close to you and let us know of Toy Drives not on our list. Please e-mail information to
Christmas in October Fundraiser for Homeless Children

My family and I were sitting around the dinner table when my oldest son Aidan, who is almost 7, asked, “Mom, can I help give some food to the kids who don’t have any?”. After I wiped the tears from my face, I gave him an absolute firm “yes!”.

That night we got on the computer and started researching places where we might be able to help. We came upon Catholic Charities out of Santa Rosa. They were excited to hear from us and have been extremely helpful from day one.

It started out as possibly bringing cupcakes to the kids, or helping to serve dinner, but my son wanted more. We suggested to Catholic Charities maybe a toy drive. I requested that they send us a list of all of the children living in the shelter with their names, age and gender. Two days ago, I received this list. There are 60 children living in the shelter with their families, ranging in age from 2 weeks old to 15 years old.

Aioli Delicatessen organized a toy drive for these less fortunate children to bring a smile to their faces in this tumultuous and uncertain time in their lives. We assigned people a boy or a girl with an age.They in turn buy a gift that was age appropriate and brought it to Aioli in Forestville.

Community support made it happen! We thank everyone who participated to this a worthy cause.

Autumn Opitz
Aioli – A Gourmet Delicatessen
6536 Front Street
Forestville, CA 95436


Fire Departments:

Graton Fire:
Please bring new, unwrapped gift to:
• Graton Post office on Ross Road
• Graton Fire Station on Ross at Graton Rd.
• Graton Commuity Center, Graton at Edison on Dec. 13th
• The barrell at Andy's Market on Hwy 116 North

Forestville Fire:
Please bring new, unwrapped gifts to:
• Forestville Fire Dept on Mirabel Road
Toys will be distributed to The Forestville Giving Tree Program and Toys for Tots

Sebastopol Fire:
Please bring new, unwrapped gifts to
• Sebastopol Fire Station on Bodega Hwy west of downtown.
If you have ideas and gifts for pre-teens and teens it would be very helpful - thank you.

The Giving Tree Program:
Front Street Hair Salon
6681 Front Street in Forestville
Please bring unwrapped, new gifts until December 23rd.
Benefits children from Sonoma County Family, Youth and Children's Maintenance Program (Child Protective Services)

River to Coast Children's Services
Give Santa a hand this year by donating a toy or gift certificate for a child, ages toddler through teen. Please drop off donations at River To Coast Children’s Services. For gift ideas, check out the Christmas Tree in Westamerica Bank, in downtown Guerneville.

Guerenville Holiday Community Dinner & Toy Drive
Friday Dec 25 1-4p.m. Guerneville Vet's Hall on the corner Church & 1st Street. Bob Burke plays Santa, Russian River Sisters and The Metropolitan Church of Guerneville co-sponser this community-wide free dinner. All welcome!!! For donations or to volunteer please call-Leslyn Dooley 869-0660 or Mary Mount 695-3980. Also we are Toy Driving this year on our own sooo please call Leslyn Dooley 869-0660 or Mary Mount 695-3980 for pick up or drop off. We needs to gifts for peole of ALL ages quite honestly!

Redwood Gospel Mission Homeless Shelter
Please drop toy donations to any Redwood Gospel Mission store at:
1821 Piner Road, Santa Rosa

Thru Dec 24 ~ Children's Village Toy Drive ~ I'd like to extend this offer to all of you and your friends, family and co-workers... in an effort to collect as many toys and gifts for the Childrens Village Christmas Party, Family Optometry Center will be hosting toy drive here in the office from now until Christmas: 1559 Farmers Lane, Santa Rosa, CA 95405, 707-571-2020, There will be a box in the lobby for unwrapped toys and we are also giving each person who comes in with an unwrapped toy $25 off their purchase along with a gift. We will be providing Christmas Trees, filled stockings, dinner and a morning of fun for the children at The Children's Village as well as a 'house stocking' for each of the 4 houses on site. Any donation is greatly appreciated.

Grub for Gifts Exchange
Peter and Annette White, owners of Sugo Trattoria in downtown Petaluma, wanted to help. They have created a weeklong “Grub for Gifts Exchange” in their restaurant to benefit Toys for Tots. Visit Sugo Trattoria for lunch or dinner Dec. 14 – Dec.21, 2009, bring in a new, unwrapped toy and receive a free order of Sugo’s acclaimed Bruschetta Trio. Happy Holiday’s from Sugo Trattoria’s Family to Yours! Sugo is located at 5 Petaluma Blvd. South, Petaluma, 707-782-9298,

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Sonoma County Wine

Where there’s smoke

More times than not it’s the toast on the barrel and, occasionally, the varietal of the grape that produces a smokey quality. In 2008 Northern California as well as Central & Southern California experienced numerous fires and depending on where the vineyard was located, there may or may not have been smoke damage. Grape growers, vineyard managers and winemakers jointly worked to identify the vineyards that were smoke damaged, however, the proof is in the wine – ie, after fermentation, some winemakers found smoke damage to be too pervasive for bottling and decided to bulk-sell the wine (ie their grapes will be blended with other wines and sometime other varietals to create an inexpensive every day wine). In some cases, smoke actually enhanced the flavor of the wine depending on how neutral the barrels used were and how the grapegrower, vineyard manager and winemaker worked with the vineyard to produce the final wine. Let’s revisit this subject next year, however, I have found 2008 to be actually quite elegant, oftentimes the smoke has been beneficial, creating another layer and element to the wine that I find to be quite enjoyable. Let your palate be the judge.

Thanksgiving Again!

Riesling and pinot noir are two varietals that are really complimentary to a Thanksgiving Dinner. Riesling, with a light demi-sec or slight residual sugar provides a subtle sweetness that pairs well with squash or carrot soup and even dessert, such as pumpkin pie. Pinot Noir, being so versatile, carefully selected, will work with everything from turkey to goose and lamb. This year’s Riesling release from Ventana (the 2008), retailing at $12, has much less mineral finish than the previous vintage and is a great complement to turkey.

A great value Pinot Noir is the River Road Reserve 2008 (retailing at $18) – with sharp red fruit, and generous spice on the palate, this is a great complement, once again, to a Thanksgiving Dinner – turkey, goose, and possibly ham, however I wouldn’t pair this up with lamb. Another Russian River Pinot Noir that is perfect for Thanksgiving is the Davenport 2005. 100% Dijon 115 clone. Retailing at $35, this pinot noir will work across palates from turkey to lamb – the perfect pairing, though this is a small production and not much around.

With the cooler weather, rosés have suddenly fallen out of favor, however Rosé D’Anjou (France) is a lovely sipping rosé of pinot noir and works very well with Thanksgiving Dinner, retailing at only $10 it’s a great value. For the chardonnay lover, - Balletto’s Teresa’s 2008 Chardonnay (Russian River Valley) is 100% stainless steel and 100% inoculated which provides that “buttery quality” that some people like and a nice racy acidity that will complement most rich turkey dinners (retailing $15).

For those who like to celebrate the holidays with Champagne, Louis Roederer Brut Premier now retails under $50 and has nice cracked wheat, easy flavors, baked apple - an elegant edition to any dinner, birthday, and upcoming holidays.

Carol Shelton’s 2008 “Sweet Caroline” made from the organic Fanucchi vineyard on Wood Road in the Russian River Valley is a late harvest trousseau gris and a terrific pairing for desserts such as apple tatin, apple pie, and, my favorite, aged goats milk cheese. It will also work very well with a starting course of butternut squash soup. The wine has a slight effervescence (infused by the winemaker). There are delicious stone fruit flavors of nectarine and white peach, also a demi-sec (retail $15, 375ml).

Those of us who are looking towards having gamey or red meats and would like to look at great value red wines – here are just a few, exceptionally good in their price point – PKNT Carmenere, Chile, dry and spicy ($7), Tierra Brisa Malbec 2008, Argentina ($7), will work really well with red meats or gamey cuisine. Puerto Viejo Malbec 2008, Argentina: dark, rich and uncharacteristic of a 100% malbec. Although big on the palate, very smooth; an exceptionally good sipping wine and outstanding with roast vegetables, roast turkey, roast meats - at $9 one of the best value malbecs I’ve tasted in a decade.

Wishing you all a Happy and safe Thanksgiving!

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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Efren Carrillo - Our Community

Please join us on December 8th for a forum on Disaster Preparedness at the Guerneville Veteran’s Building from 6-8pm. This forum will focus on area agencies and their capabilities to respond and assist in the event of flooding or other disaster in the Russian River area. Panelists will include County Fire Chief Mark Aston (also Head of Department of Emergency Services), Monte Rio Chief Steve Baxman, Russian River Chief Sean Grinnel, Forestville Chief Dan Northern, County representatives from Transportation and Public Works, Community Development Commission, Sheriff’s Office, PG&E, American Red Cross, and the following community groups: West County Community Services, West County Health Centers, and the Russian River Disaster Preparedness Committee. Each agency will discuss their area of expertise, new capabilities offered, and then the group will be available for questions and comments.

After a tremendous amount of hard work by River area community members led by Jan DeWald, California Housing Opportunities West (CHOW) has been formed to provide staffing and oversight to the Emergency Shelter opening November 15th at the Guerneville Veteran’s building. After searching far and wide for a permanent location for the shelter (over 80 properties were visited), the decision was made to return to last year’s location for what is hoped to be a final year. This is truly a labor of love and compassion by the group, which operates on a shoestring budget while providing shelter and meals every evening and morning to those in need. If you are able to assist CHOW with volunteer time or financial support, please call Jan at 707-478-3718.

Supervisor Shirlee Zane, newly appointed Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (SCAPOSD) General Manager Bill Keene, staff from the District, and I traveled to Portland at the beginning of October for the National Land Conservation Conference. SCAPOSD presented to the Conference on the topic of integrating multiple strategic objectives in land conservation. We discussed the District’s approach to stewardship which addresses climate change, source watershed protection, local food, healthy livable communities, and the engagement of diverse, traditionally underserved groups. Bringing together the original mission of land conservation with the emerging challenges of our increasingly urban population to meet the needs of the community is another way that SCAPOSD is showing leadership nationwide.

On November 7th, the Leadership Institute on the Ecology and Economy held its first annual Sustainability Awards event. Three individual honorees were celebrated for their commitment to the environment, and I’m pleased to announce that all three were Fifth District residents. The awards recognize community leaders who have displayed remarkable achievements in creating socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable communities. Honored were Ann Hancock (Climate Protection Campaign), Mark Inman (Taylormaid Farms), and Evelina Molina (Youth Green Jobs). Group projects honored were Sonoma Mountain Village, the Accountable Development Coalition, and Petaluma Bounty. Congratulations to them, and our community which has benefited from their efforts.

Recent months have seen a good deal of attention to the County owned dump and our solid waste dilemma. While our problem at the landfill will not be resolved without a good deal of cooperation and effort from everyone in Sonoma County (from individuals to all Cities and County government), it is never too late to take a look at what you can do on your own to reduce waste. Source separation of the various components of your personal waste stream can vastly assist in reducing green house gas emissions, and increase the likelihood of re-use and recycling.

One of the simplest, yet most powerful, things each of us can do is to separate any food products and divert these to your green (compost) can. You’ll not only reduce the component which causes methane production, but Sonoma Compost will have more raw material to return back to our gardens…that’s what I’d call a win-win.

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Duncans Millings from The Blue Heron

The Merchants, residents and visitors sure are enjoying this gorgeous fall weather! Foot traffic through our stores has been quite enjoyable with all things considered. The radio contest for a new Duncans Mills slogan has received a tremendous response! With the winner of the One Thousand Dollar (Yes $1,000) grand prize shopping spree being announced on December 12th during our holiday tree lighting, so tune in! Congratulations to the winner and the merchants of Duncans Mills for a job well done!

Sightings: Effren Carillo at the Duncans Mills Town (Hamlet) meeting attended by over 45 participants. Not too shabby for a populace of 85 eh’? Discussion centered on the dangerous crossing in town and potential remedies. We need people who speed up when they hit our straight stretch of Hwy 116 to simply slow down so people and pets have a chance at crossing the street from one side of town to the other.

Christine Canelis as a terrifying mother with pug child in the Day of Dead Residents costume parade. Billed as the worlds shortest parade. Have you seen our Main Street?

Rumors: A Duncans Mills air show. (what?) And plans for the return of the ever popular Russian River Submarine Regatta. (right, wait, is this a precursor to another low flow debate?)
In other news: Gloria Tamagni’s of Weavers and Dreamers fame is on the move again, after the holidays the girls are taking over the Duncans Mills General store. January the move is on, They will now be known as the Tamagni’s General Store. So stop, shop, and snack! Come and see the holiday train and trolls before they move. With their “daily” Holiday Sale up to 30% off! Sorry Ladies, I just had to throw in the “daily” part.

Also on the move is The Horse and Butterfly Tea room. With a new owner and a new name; Brian Trombly and Ron Harmon have purchased the shop and renamed it Mr. Trombly’s Tea. Specializing in all things tea, with over 65 fine teas to choose from. A large selection of Vintage and new teapots, as well as many tea accessories. They also feature a tea of the day which you can sample. I personally discovered that a tea set is a fantastic, last minute, “geez I forgot again” gift idea. The gift went over very, very well I must say.

The Quercia Gallery featured exhibit is “Bowls, Bowls, Bowls”. Hand thrown soup bowls for the warmth of the Holiday Season. Come in and choose the bowl that fits your hand. A great gift idea! Everyone loves soup. Opening December 5th, with a reception from 3 - 6.

The log cabin on the West side of town, Antiquarian, becomes enchanted for the holidays. With gorgeous décor, locally grown Protea flowers and an eccentric mix of antiques.

Cape Fear hosts Holiday Dinners and Thanksgiving was their usual exceptional buffet where they make you feel part of their extended family. Call them to see what they are doing for Christmas 865-9246.

A favorite stop of mine is Jim and Willie’s. With Willie being the dom and Jim the sub. With Sir Jim saying his wares range from the “sublime to the ridiculous”. (did I just say that?) A quaint, whimsical antique shoppe reminiscent of jolly olde England located in the Country Stores Courtyard of Duncans Mills.

On a personal note, after coming to play (work) in this quaint little Hamlet for the past year, I wish to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for the tremendous “welcome back” that the Blue Heron has received. It has been a challenging, mind numbing and huge learning curve for the O’Bryan Brothers. The love shown to us and the Blue has been incredible and we Thank You all from the bottom of our hearts. Well Jaime’s heart at least as everyone knows by now that Tom has none! Ha.

Coming in December, with a date soon to be announced, will be a community wide (free food buffet) Hosted by The Blue Heron. In appreciation of the warmth and love bestowed upon “The Blue” by our great river citizens. (and a few derelicts such as myself, gotta love those guys).
Yes, live music as always with never a cover!

ps: please bring doggie bones for me to bury as winter is on the way!
Yours in kind,
Duncans Mills, CA

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Eliza B.

By Cecil e Lusby

I first met Eliza B. in the mid-1980s at Santa Rosa Junior College when she was a student needing my help getting resources through the Enabling Services Department. I don’t remember whether her issues were neurological or emotional, but we always stopped and talked whenever our paths crossed. She was a brave, but fading hippie and I a part-time politico. She seemed happy with her classes most of the time, rarely venting any discontent. My son and I helped her move once, but we never understood who or what it was she needed to leave behind so suddenly. After she lost her job and dropped out of school, I didn’t see her for about a decade.

You wouldn’t know her now.

I began to volunteer at FISH, the Catholic Worker, and then the Interchurch Pantry. Every now and then Eliza would show up in line, get her food, and disappear. I believed she was having a tough time making ends meet. As the years passed she would grow flustered when she recognized me at the Pantry. Her blush has now weathered into a permanent sunburned ruddiness; the look of the outdoorsy Irish often resembles that of the chronic alcoholic or the homeless. Sometimes the pink lingers on even after sobriety. After decades as a food distribution worker, I still am not sure. With my father and grandfather both relentless drinkers, I am familiar with the pattern, but reluctant to jump to conclusions. I have never seen Eliza drinking or under the influence, yet she has always been vulnerable in a harsh world. I never witnessed her being impolite, not “clothed and in her right mind,” as James Baldwin used to say.

Last month I brought my recycled coffee cans to be refilled at Taylor Maid’s beanery.
As I approached the store’s entrance, I saw a green water hose move and a garbage bin shift on its wheels. Then I saw a woman against the wall, her hair now shining silver. She moved quickly, setting the bin at an angle to block my view, but I saw the bright blue eyes: it was Eliza behind the dumpster, not wanting anyone to see her scavenging. My old friend did not want me to see her. After a long fight, she has come to this. Perhaps she had not recognized me, so out of respect for her privacy, I left her alone behind the bin. Was I wrong? Was I missing an opportunity to acknowledge someone I knew? Or was I sparing her embarrassment after seeing that she had slipped through the cracks? All these thoughts ran through my mind as I bought my coffee. Stepping outside, I looked around, but she had gone, and now the memory of her troubles my conscience.

Eliza is still out there, still one of us. What separates us now is the awareness that she has fallen in a society that blames the poor for their situation. Because of my mother’s struggle as a working divorcee, I know that many poor people try hard, work hard and still have nothing to show for it. Sonoma County now is full of the formerly employed and underemployed. We are not so different.

Even though I was able to work, be a mother, get an education, and retire with a pension, not every life travels an upward arc. Some of our peers fall by the wayside, and witnessing them fills some of us with an anxious need to keep striving, while others realize how much we have to be thankful for. The next stage is responsible gratitude, remembering those still in need. It is a call and response. For our thankfulness to be effective, it is necessary to work together as a community to prevent more suffering, more hunger, and exposure. Once again, it is the dark, chilly time of year to remember the Food Banks and Pantries from the bright warmth of your home and hearth.

Please give to the Interchurch Food Pantry of Sebastopol; P. O. Box 579; Sebastopol, CA 95473

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Home: The Very "Leverage Point": PERSPECTIVE

Home: The Very "Leverage Point" 1

by Mr. Jan Hearthstone

The most obvious place where a meaningful intervention would start a profound change for better in the whole world is the basic unit of any community--a home. It is at home where we grow up and learn the basics of living as humans; it is where we should go to get well, to rest and to recuperate; it is at home where we get ready, time after time, to interact with the world outside our home. However, the "home" of today is very different from what it ideally ought to be.

A "home" today is an indicator of our social system's dysfunctionality 2. Consider this: It is obvious to everyone that humans need to rest, to sleep, to take care of their basic needs to be able to function well within the society. To take care of all these essential needs should, of course, be done at home. Everyone knows that to be homeless is to be avoided at all costs. Yet it is commonly accepted as a good thing when prices of homes go up and thus homes become less available. Logically, rationally this does not make any sense!

As a result of this the society as a whole suffers. A "home", as we know it today, is frequently a source of discomfort, anxieties, a source of existential stress, and this results in a plethora of societal ills that plague the whole society.

People who don't have a proper home are more likely to suffer from lack of rest, sleep, from financial worries (about finding a good home, about having to pay the rent, mortgages, taxes...); They, due to this stress, are more likely to engage in criminal activities, they are more likely to become physically and mentally affected, and generally the unavailability of a good home to most members of the society creates stress that ultimately permeates all parts of the society.

The obvious solution to this conundrum would be to ensure that instead of a home to be an expensive privilege, to have a home, no matter how humble a home, should become a thing necessary for people to have in order to be able to function well in the society. In short--instead of a source of stress, a home should become a source of comfort, a place to where one goes to become well.

The most expedient way to make sure that a home becomes a secure and a sustainable foundation of the society would be to change only one thing: the right to sleep, to rest, and to be able to take a basic care of one's basic necessities should be introduced into the constitution as an inalienable right; No more, and no less.

To constitutionalize all the basic things that are necessary for a satisfactory quality of life as basic rights would alone ensure an organic unfolding of all necessary adjustments in the social fabric. An unfolding into a profound and lasting relief that would be felt all across the globe.

People need land to live on, to have their homes on. The surface of Earth is a valuable and also a limited resource. A resource that is too valuable to let any irrational, fickle commercial interests to be in charge of. Land is precious, it has to be manged intelligently--all kinds of life, not only humans, need it for living; An unnecessary stress, felt by all directly and indirectly, is caused by the gross mismanagement of land that is currently in existence--a stress that we hardly can allow to exist, especially in times of ecological and social crises that we are faced with these days.

A good stress-free home (one's castle indeed!) should be the basis of any truly civilized society, regardless whether the times are good or bad. At home is where culture is being continuously re-created. If there, at home, is any lack what-so-ever, it will adversely affect the whole of the civilization.



Note 1:
"leverage point"--a term probably most popularized by Donella Meadows - - (Accessed 11/17/2009), and others, led by Jay Forrester at MIT, who were involved with "Limits to Growth" initiated by the Club of Rome -> - (Accessed 11/24/2009).

Note 2:
2. any malfunctioning part or element: the dysfunctions of the country's economy.
3. Sociology. a consequence of a social practice or behavior pattern that undermines the stability of a social system.

check online for redactions;

by Mr. Jan Hearthstone - ModelEarth.Org

Creating Lasting Peace:

If we, the people, were really sincere about having real Peace in the
world, we would pursue creating Peace by peaceful means more actively
rather than by relying on our military might!


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FILM: Leap of Faith: Fast Lane to Farmstead

"Leap of Faith: Fast Lane to Farmstead" took the Best of Eco-Cinema, Special Jury Award from the 2009 Napa Sonoma Wine Country Film Festival, the same week the film is available to buy on DVD!

For every copy sold, we will be donating a dollar to the Farm-to-Consumer Foundation, in support of their ongoing mission to educate people about sustainably farmed food and teach small farmers how to protect themselves from ever-increasing regulation by Congress. Please support the film and the Foundation - spread the word about "Leap of Faith", or give it as a gift this year:

I am thankful for America's small farmers and how much they care about the food they grow for us. We'll keep doing whatever we can to ensure their survival as business gets bigger and food gets faster.

Alexandra Austin
Mind-Made Media
818.485.2554 - O
323.836.3289 - C

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Community Spirit, Generosity, Creativity Ignite Food Bank’s Winter Food & Funds Drive Launch

The Redwood Empire Food Bank launched its annual Winter Food & Funds Drive this month, appealing to residents, businesses and organizations to help the leading hunger relief agency in Sonoma County provide for families left hurt and hungry by the great recession.

“In our 22 year history in Sonoma County, the need for food relief has never been greater and, accordingly, our need for support from the entire community has never been greater,” said David Goodman, Executive Director of the REFB.

“The good news is that we received a tremendous boost of support as our annual three-month-long drive was just getting under way,” he said. “A Healdsburg wine company donated $20,000 raised through an employee program. A group of medical workers asked their employer to send to the REFB the cash that normally buys each employee a $20 holiday gift certificate, resulting in a $10,000 contribution to the food bank. And a group of Sonoma County friends and REFB volunteers hosted a book sale that raised $1,872 to fight hunger.”

“It’s this kind of community spirit, creativity and generosity that will enable us to help thousands of our Sonoma County friends and neighbors feed themselves and their families,” Goodman said. “We’re appealing to all our loyal supporters for continued support, urging them to dig just a little bit deeper this year, and calling upon others who haven’t helped in the past to do so now.”

The annual winter drive runs from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31.

The goal is to collect $160,000 in cash and 200,000 lbs. of food.

Goodman said the impact of the global recession on low-income people and working families is reflected in the increase in requests for assistance throughout the network of food programs operated by the Food Bank and its 146 partner agencies from all parts of Sonoma County.

The number of families and individuals needing help since the recession began in 2007 has increased 40 percent. The REFB now serves 70,000 people every month in Sonoma County. Also up 40% is the number of kids relying on REFB’s Summer Lunch Program, which increased from 54,125 meals served during summer break in 2008 to 75,824 meals served this past summer.

“Those are the kind of big numbers we’ve been facing for months, and they help explain why our spirits were lifted when we received three large cash donations as we prepared to launch the winter drive,” he said.

Goodman explained how these three cash donors raised their contributions.

Ascentia Wine Estates of Healdsburg conducted a wine discount program for its employees and family members at its wineries in California, Washington and Idaho. For every case of wine sold during the one-month program Ascentia donated $5 to the food bank. The total: $41,000 for food banks in three states, including $20,000 for the REFB.

Sutter Health in Sonoma County normally gives its employees a $20 supermarket gift certificate during the holidays. This year, the employees asked Sutter to give the money to the REFB. The total: $10,000.

A group of friends who call themselves BACK and give “back” to the community by volunteering at the REFB, scheduled a book sale in a vacant downtown Santa Rosa office. They created a flyer, promoted the event via email and a Press Democrat ad, and had a two-day sale. Three hundred people showed up to buy books from a selection of 2,000 volumes. Total sales all going to the food bank: $1,872.

“We can turn those three donations into about $128,000 worth of food for people in need thanks to our efficient food acquisition and distribution system and the 5,000 volunteers who make our programs possible,” said Goodman. “It’s a huge return on donors’ investment, and we’re hoping other businesses, organizations and social groups will follow these examples.”

Funds and food raised during the annual food drive will go to supporting the 70,000 regular recipients of food assistance every month, including 10,000 seniors and 30,000 children. Food also is needed to help fill-out the tables of low-income families during the holiday season. And it will keep the REFB’s warehouse stocked to support Sonoma County’s network of hunger relief agencies in the first quarter of next year.

Lee Bickley, REFB Community Relations Manager, said there are many ways people can contribute.

On Nov. 10 The Press Democrat will deliver to 58,000 residential subscribers a “Fill’er Up Holiday Bag” along with the daily newspaper. Subscribers are urged to fill the bag with non-perishable canned and packaged food and deliver it to a participating food or drug store listed on the bag or to the Food Bank, 3300 Industrial Drive in Santa Rosa.

The newspaper’s bag also will include a self-addressed envelope if donors want to give cash instead of food.

Bickley said some 5,000 bags will be distributed through community food drives around the county. Additionally, 4,000 bags will be available at the checkout counters of Friedman Brothers building supplies stores in Santa Rosa and Sonoma.

Bags of food as well as groceries donors may pick up while shopping can be deposited into REFB food drive barrels this week at Safeway, CVS/pharmacy, Lucky, Food Maxx and G & G Supermarkets, and also at Whole Foods markets beginning Nov. 13.

Bickley said the REFB has sent out 200 flyers announcing the annual effort, and that the Food Bank is encouraging households, faith-based groups, service clubs and businesses to conduct food drives at their places of work, meetings and other events.

“We have 450 barrels, small food boxes and holiday bags ready for anyone or any group that needs help collecting food,” she said.

For more information on starting a food drive, contact Billy Bartz, Food & Funds Drive Coordinator, 523-7900 Ext. 27, or

Bickley said the Food Bank can’t accept homemade food or food in glass containers. But, she said, the Food Bank welcomes all the frozen turkeys donors offer.

“For most of us the holiday season is a time of joy, but for 70,000 who are hungry the holidays and winter can be the hardest times, and that is especially true during this recession,” she said. “We ask everyone in the community to help our neighbors in need by donating food, money or volunteering. Even a little goes a long way.”

The annual food drive in Sonoma County and throughout the Bay Area is receiving marketing support through broadcast media and food outlets. Those include:

1. ABC/Safeway’s “Share Your Holiday Food Drive.” Watch for barrels in Safeway stores.
During Thanksgiving Week, ABC will be conducting its Thanksgiving Drive. Donors who give $250 or more will receive on-air recognition by Spencer Christian during the 6 p.m. news.

2. Lucky & Food Maxx “Holiday Drive.” Watch for barrels in stores. Shoppers can make donations at check stands by purchasing a $10 or $20 bag of food that are displayed at the front of the stores.

3. CBS/Whole Foods “Food for Bay Area Families.” Watch for barrels in the store that Whole Foods is decorating with its own special wraps to promote the drive. REFB has been selected to benefit from Whole Foods’ 5% Community Giving Day on Dec. 8 when each store will set aside 5% of their net sales for the Food Bank.

4. NBC/CVS/pharmacy: On Nov. 21, NBC will be encouraging viewers to drop off food at a CVS store in their local community. The Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce will have volunteers at CVS/pharmacy stores to distribute a list of most needed foods and ask customers to support the REFB food drive. NBC on Nov. 23 will announce the total amount of food collected on behalf of REFB and other Bay Area food banks.

5. KFOG: KFOG Radio on Nov. 7 will release “Live from the Archives 16,” a special music CD KFOG produces annually to benefit area food banks. It will be available at Bay Area Peet’s Coffee and Tea locations and online at REFB has received over $157,000 from these CD purchases over the years.

For more information, contact David Goodman or Lee Bickley at 707-523-7900.


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The Petaluma Kitchen Needs Volunteers & Donations

The Petaluma Kitchen is a community kitchen, located at 301 Payran Street. The Kitchen provides a no cost, continental breakfast and a mid-day meal seven days per week, 365 days a year to low and very low income men, women, and children, and residents of Petaluma’s single adult homeless shelter, the Mary Isaak Center.

• Breakfast daily from 7:30 to 9:00am
• Lunch 11:30am to 1:00pm Mon-Fri, 11:30am to 12:30pm Sat-Sun

The Petaluma Kitchen serves over 100,000 meals a year with the help of over 10,000 volunteer hours from community members who come to sort donations, cook, serve, and clean. In addition to providing nourishment to those in need, staff and volunteers are often the first contact for individuals and families who need referrals to other community resources, such as housing, clothing or medical care.

In addition to the meal service, the Petaluma Kitchen also provides weekly supplemental or emergency groceries through the Food Box Program. Those wanting to receive a food box must apply at the Kitchen, Mon – Fri 9:30-11:00am, and meet the income requirement. Food Box recipients may chose to pick up their weekly box or to have it delivered on Saturday morning. Every Saturday volunteers deliver Food Boxes to low and fixed income families, seniors and others in our community.

Volunteer Opportunities
We are looking for regularity in scheduling as well as folks able to be ‘on-call.’ Hours run from 7:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every day.
Volunteers who want to help on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day must contact Lyn Van Tighem at 707-765-6530 x111 to be scheduled.

Meal Service Opportunities:
• Donation Pick up drivers - Pick up food donations at local grocery stores and deliver to Kitchen. Must have a valid driver’s license and insurance. (7:30 to 12:30 a.m. daily)
• Cooks, Prep Cooks, Servers and Soup Stirrers (8:00 to1:00pm daily)
• Clean Up – Dishwashers and more. (11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. daily)
• Donation Organizers -Help sort donated food. (8:00 to 10:00 a.m. daily)
• Food Drive Coordinators – Plan and carry out a food drive to stock our shelves!

Food Box Program Opportunities:
• Food Box Builders
o Mon – Wed – Fri (7:30 to 9:00 a.m.)
o Sat (6:00 – 9:00am)
• Drivers – Using own car, deliver food boxes to families on the program in Petaluma. Must have valid driver’s license, proof of insurance, and be willing to have driving records reviewed by our insurer. Saturdays from 9am until complete (usually 1-2 hours)

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Redwood Empire Food Bank Opens WIC Store at Santa Rosa Headquarters

The Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) is expanding its hunger relief safety net with the addition of a new store at its Santa Rosa headquarters to serve low-income women and children eligible for food assistance through the federal WIC program.

Beginning this fall, pregnant women, new mothers and children under the age of 5 will be able to redeem their WIC vouchers for nutritious food at the REFB where they also will obtain advice and information on other vital hunger relief programs for themselves and other members of their families.

David Goodman, executive director, said the introduction of a WIC Store is a natural fit for the REFB, which is the largest hunger relief agency on the California coast north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

“We see this as a unique opportunity to widen our safety net for people in need,” he said.
“Women and children served under the WIC program are also eligible for our own food relief programs,” Goodman said. “By operating our own WIC Store we will be able to provide the nutritious foods these women and children receive through WIC plus make sure they take advantage of other programs such as our special programs for kids and our regular food assistance distributions.”

Goodman said the REFB WIC Store may also offer other products not covered by WIC.
“There are many ways we can help low-income families stretch their budgets, such as offering them discounted diapers and other common household necessities for families with infants and young children,” he said.

The REFB received final State Department of Public Health authorization to operate a WIC program on Monday. Goodman said the REFB plans to have a WIC Store open by September.
The REFB is only one of two non-profits in the State of California authorized to operate WIC stores. The other non-profit is the Yolo County Food Bank.

WIC is the common abbreviation for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. It is a federal health and nutrition program administered by the state.
WIC helps low-income families by providing vouchers for buying healthy supplemental foods, such as milk, juice, cereal, baby formula, eggs, produce, beans and other staples, from WIC-authorized vendors. The program also provides nutrition education and helps families find healthcare and other community services.

About 12,300 women and children receive WIC assistance in Sonoma County. Statewide, the program serves 1.4 million people.

Goodman said the REFB WIC Store will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday at the REFB headquarters, 3320 Industrial Drive in Santa Rosa.

WIC customers will be served by a bilingual staff and food bank eligibility workers who can direct mothers and families to other food support services including for kids the Every Child, Every Day – Summer Hunger Initiative, After School Snacks for Kids, Megan Furth Harvest Pantry, and Emergency Food Assistance program as well as other food and produce distributions open to all who are need.

“Low-income mothers and families with very young children need to get as much food into the household as they can,” he said. “Having WIC part of our hunger relief program will help do that.”

REFB staff also will be ready to direct women and others who are not yet WIC qualified how to apply for the WIC assistance.

Goodman said the REFB will welcome WIC recipients into a friendly and easy environment where participants are always treated with dignity and respect.

“Supermarkets do a good job serving WIC customers, but sometimes in a busy grocery store, especially when there is confusion over eligible foods or some other mix-up, a WIC transaction can cause delays at the check out stand,” he said. “This can lead WIC recipients to feel embarrassed or unwelcome.”

“That won’t happen here because at REFB our single reason to exist is to provide hunger relief to people in need,” Goodman said.

Working with 133 partner agencies, the REFB provides food to some 60,000 people a month in Sonoma County. It is also a source of food for pantries in Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

Goodman said the addition of the WIC Store to the REFB operation is part of on-going efforts to increase the REFB’s impact on hunger. The REFB is also developing a line of food products that will provide busy families with ingredients and recipes with which parents can quickly prepare nutritious meals for the dinner table.

“We are pursuing opportunities that are perceived to be out of our reach by many people,” said Goodman. “We’re like the little dog that has no perception of its size and tries to bite the big dogs. We strive to be as big as possible to better serve our community and its people.”

For more information on the REFB or WIC Store, contact Goodman at 707-523-7900.

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Camp Meeker News

I feel like Rip Van Winkle here. When last we spoke, I was writing for the late and much lamented Russian River Monthly, which ceased operations last spring. Let me give a shout out to George Klineman, my fine and hard-working editor at that paper. Of course I’m in good hands now: west county journalism has few better friends than Vesta Copestakes.

Let’s see if I can recap the interregnum between my last column and now. Actually, it was pretty quiet there in Camp Meeker for a while. No sewer controversy, no cell tower controversy. Speaking of that cell tower, it could be said that the last chapter of that episode was written a few weeks ago, when the “reMeeker” slate swept four candidates into office at the Camp Meeker Park and Rec board, leaving Cathie Anderson as the only returning board member. We congratulate Jeffrey Fawcett, Seth Murchison, Michael Ming, and Lynn Watson on their victory and wish them the best. They have announced an ambitious agenda and they will certainly need our help in enacting it. For that matter, we are down four “concerned citizens”, so we’ll all need to step it up.

Before we discuss that future, let’s take a moment to thank the outgoing Board members – Fred Meyer, Gary Helfrich, Amy Lemmer, and Aimee Crawford – for their hard work and their many accomplishments. The most visible of those accomplishments can be seen down by the post office. There, instead of a decrepit old dam and a choking bramble of blackberry vines, you will see an elegant new pedestrian bridge crossing a peaceful, natural looking creek bed. It’s not natural, of course – the new creek bed is the result of some hard engineering work by local firms Prunuske-Chatham, Streamline Engineering, Questa Engineering, and a metric ton of hard organizing and funding work by the Camp Meeker Park and Rec Board (CMRPD), the Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District (GRRCD), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

I was wandering down there yesterday. It’s pretty exciting. You can walk through the whole area from the culvert to upstream of the firehouse if you’re willing to get your feet wet. It looks like it will be a nice place to walk, to picnic, to spend time with friends. You have to visualize a bit – I don’t know how much work remains to be done. At any rate, the new trees planted will take some time to grow to their full potential.

The other big thing the outgoing board did for us is they kept a fairly ruinous sewer project from being imposed on us. While nothing eventually came out of the hundreds of hours those board members spent keeping up with the tonnage of tedious lawyerly reading, something nothing is the best possible outcome. Our incoming board will have to take up the mantle here and lead us toward a wastewater solution that works for Camp Meeker in coming decades.

I’m excited about the future in Camp Meeker. It’s true that things got pretty heated as we tried to decide the cell phone tower issue. I’m hoping we can all learn from our mistakes on that one, and work in a more civil, neighborly and cooperative fashion on our many important future projects, from the wastewater issue to the sudden oak death issue. Once we tackle those important issues, we will have earned some fun. We can get started on that “cultural revival” the reMeeker folks are touting. I can’t wait to get started, and for future issues I will be researching and reporting the illustrious cultural past of our lovely little forest.

One last note before I go. Outgoing board member Fred Meyer took some pretty nasty personal shots in the last couple of years, from people who disagreed with his political positions. Consider this about Fred: you don’t have to guess where he stands. He speaks his mind, even if he knows you’re not going to like what he says. Even though he’s not on the board any more, he’s still our VFD Fire Chief, and I hope you shook his hand and thanked him at the spaghetti dinner a couple of weeks ago. He’s earned it.

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Cazadero News & Events

As the clouds gather outside of my cozy cyber-hut, I find the prospect of rain quite pleasant! Most of us who live on the ridges and in the valleys of our usually verdant hamlet know that while the sun is fabulous, we need the rain to refurbish creeks and keep the tall redwoods healthy.

This time of year encourages us all to weatherize our abodes - a good place to find help with this is the 1st Saturday 15% off discount sale at Cazadero Supply. As the upcoming holidays promote festive gatherings, Raymond's Bakery will provide special orders to make your life easier! Stop by and sample tasty baked goods, ice cream and yummy pizza!

The Cazadero General store will sponsor the Annual Old Time Xmas celebration downtown on Saturday, December 12th,beginning around Noon. The always enjoyable event features a special parade, bar-b-q and the possibility of 'snow'!! Several of your favorite local craftpersons will offer their delights for easy shopping.

The Russian River Jewish Community holds its Annual Chanukah festival/Latke feast on Thursday, December 17th-5:30 at the Guerneville Senior Center on Armstrong Woods Rd. All are welcome-bring Chanukah menorahs and candles to light, food to share and be ready to dance to Jubilee Klezmer Ensemble. Call 632-5545 for more information.

The Annual Light Parade in downtown Guerneville is Saturday, December 5th and features a fabulous array of lighted floats on Main Street. Immediately afterwards, the KGGV FM 95.1 FM 'River Home Companion' at the Oddfellows Hall welcomes all at 8 p.m.-performances start at 8:30. Tasty snacks and a great raffle make this a great fundraiser.

The students at the Montgomery Elementary School celebrate Thanksgiving together on Wednesday, November 25th. The Winter Play will be performed on Thursday, December 17th-7 p.m. at the Fire Hall. Winter break begins on Dec.21st and school resumes on January 4th, 2010!

The Cazadero Community Club continues to raise money and contribute it to the MES, Cazadero and Ft. Ross Volunteer Fire Departments and for local scholarships for Cazadero El Molino graduates. The recent Halloween Carnival attracted many children and adults, with the Fire Department's scary Haunted House a big attraction. Thanks to Cal Poly(Catherine Canelis' school) for the pumpkin donations!). Club meetings are on hiatus until Tuesday, March 2nd-7 the Fire Hall. Please join your friends and neighbors in planning and participating in these great events throughout the year!

CORRECTION: many thanks to the terrific kitchen crew of Jeffrey and Mike Dahle at the Old time BBQ.

Wishing a Very Happy Birthday to Tess Bryant, turning 23 on Nov.27th, Sonoma County Poet Laureate Mike Tuggle celebrates his birthday on December 1st, Heather Lough also celebrates her 23rd on that date, Mike Nicholls celebrates on December 3rd,followed by Brittany Lough turning 33 on December 6th and Lauren Lough-turns 26? on December 20th. A great family celebration time! Be sure to check out the West County Gazette Calendar for local Crafts faire listings.

I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving and remind you to call me at 632 5545 or email with info for your Cazadero Column!

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Russian River News Info

Dec 5 - River Home Companion Variety Show - Join KGGV for our annual fundraiser following the Parade of Lights in downtown Guerneville, on Saturday at the Odd Fellows Hall. This year's theme is "At Home on the River." Doors open at 8 pm, show starts at 8:30 pm. Yummy refreshments and extraordinary raffle prizes.
Now in the Russian River Redevelopment Project Area:
Small Business Assistance Program

In an ongoing effort to equip small businesses with opportunities to grow and prosper, the Sonoma County Community Development Commission and the Russian River Chamber of Commerce have partnered with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Santa Rosa Junior College, to provide no-cost professional business advising to local businesses. All appointments are one-to-one and confidential.

The SBDC can help with business planning, marketing, record keeping, accounting, management, taxes, cash flow, capital access and acquisition, pricing and cost control, and other areas of small business operations. In addition the SBDC will offer workshops customized to local business needs. Businesses located in the Russian River Redevelopment Project Area can participate at no cost.

For more information, or to make an appointment, contact the Russian River Chamber of Commerce @ 869-9000. All counseling sessions take place at the Chamber, 16209 First Street in Guerneville. Chamber membership is not required to participate in the business advising program
For more information on the SBDC see their website or call 524.1770.
Russian River Volunteer Registry

Valerie Hausmann of the Russian River Chamber of Commerce is gathering information on people willing to volunteer their time to the community. With a roster of individuals, their skills and passions, she will be able to help match people with projects with volunteers who can help. If you are interested un registering – or if you need a few volunteers to complete your goals, please contact Valerie at 707-217-9613 or e-mail: Valerie has registry forms she can e-mail you or you can pick one up at the Visitors Center 16209 First Street – on the Plaza in downtown Guerneville.

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Astrology Nov-Dec 2009

December is the darkest month of the year. It calls on us to go inside, both in the context of indoors as well as within ourselves. This is a time to contemplate, past choices and actions as well as to plan for new beginnings in the New Year. This year we have a useful tool with which to do this. Mars, the planet of action, initiation and assertiveness turns retrograde on December 20th. and remains so until March 10th.

Mars pertains to anything we do that is physical, from working out, to building something, to being sexual. It retrogrades approximately every two years, for about ten weeks. The longer Mars remains retrograde, the less physical drive and energy we have. So, in combination with the season, this is not a time to start anything significant. Our interest in the project may dissipate and our interest in completing it follows accordingly. If circumstances conspire to demand that we must start something at this time, it’s advisable to start slowly and allow the activity to pick up speed once Mars turns direct.

This is not to suggest that we just focus on the present and forget everything else. Mars retrograde is a good time to complete previously unfinished projects. It’s a good time to research things to do in the future and even to plan and strategize when to start and the best ways to do them.

Mars is in the sign Leo, and will remain there the entire time it is retrograde. Leo can very loving and playful. It is creatively expressive, sexual and athletic. Thus, in general, review and pan activities that involve these qualities. If you know or have a copy of your natal horoscope, you can personalize this transit even more by noting the house (area of life experience) where the sign Leo resides in your chart. This is the house where you can take greatest advantage of the Mars transit at this time.

Mars is a fiery energy and Leo is a fire sign. The temptation to go and do something, perhaps even something big or grandiose, could be strong. If it involves having a good time, especially during the Holiday Season, go for it. This is not a time to just sit around and think. Especially because of the long nights and short days, this could lead to seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as depression. Leo loves to party and entertain. Use those tendencies as ways of fending off inner darkness. But keep your expectations and expenditures small. A get together with a few good friends will feel better and be more fun than trying to throw a party for neighbors and fifty friends.

The influences of a retrograde planet actually begins prior to the day of its retrogradation and continues for a while beyond its turning direct. We call these extra days “the shadow”. Mars retrograde shadow began in mid-October. After it turns direct in March the shadow will remain until mid-May. Some of us may have been feeling this shift for a while. Whether we are already feeling it or not, however, the shadow period is a time to become aware of the slowing down of our drive and impulse to act. This rate will continue even after the retrograde period is over. Tune in to your body. It will let you know when and at what rate to slow down, stop, review, plan, when to go forward and when to pick up speed in the New Year.

Aries: Since Mars is your ruling planet, you may have a harder time during its retrograde period. It is your nature to initiate projects. Trial and error could be your mantra. Growth for you at this time involves digging all those unfinished projects out of the cabinets and garage. Completion can help you to learn one of the hardest but most important lessons for Aries: patience.

Taurus: Challenges come up from mid-month on. These could involve intimate relationships, emotional and/or financial. Be precise about your goals in these areas and state them clearly, but don’t be so stubborn about maintaining them that it creates alienation from your partner. Growth comes from your willingness to be open to innovation and experimentation. Satisfaction can come even if you don’t get everything that you want.

Gemini: The full Moon in Gemini on the first provides an opportunity to express your deepest feelings to those closest to you. This honesty could produce a sense of vulnerability, and others may feel overwhelmed with the information. In the long run, however, this type of interaction can create a sense of emotional well-being for you and feelings of stability in the relationship.

Cancer: Strong desires to be of service could manifest for you this month. This could come from actually doing something for others or by simply sharing with them information that would be beneficial for them. Mid-month in particular could bring a variety of situations and people, possibly outside your regular social circle or daily routines. Growth for you comes from being discriminating about what to share, with whom, at what time and in what way.

Leo: Physical activities, including holiday shopping and party giving should be done early in the month. Feelings of love and generosity will abound for you at that time. After that, pay attention to the energy that you actually feel in your body. If you run through an internal stop sign you could feel very depleted by the holidays or early in the New Year.

Virgo: Early month could bring conflicts or power struggles with children or lovers. Be clear about your goals and needs in those relationships. Growth can come from sticking up for yourself. One option, to resolve at least some of the issues, is to play. This could be in an artistic context or simply doing something that you find fun and enjoyable. Doing something like that with whomever you are in conflict with makes it a particularly delicious experience.

Libra: This is a good time for you to do some deep introspective contemplation. Writing, either in journal or creative form, could be a good way to access valuable internal information. It doesn’t matter if you share this with anyone. It’s a way to gain perspective about yourself. Being at home and sharing time with family and good friends could bring some deep bonding and emotional fulfillment.

Scorpio: Although Mars is the co-ruler of Scorpio, you might have an easier time during its retrograde period than other signs do. The key is not to try to do too much. Powerful feelings of love and generosity could give you a false sense of energy and you could wind feeling depleted. Take advantage of the good impulses, but remember to tune in to realistic energy limits and boundaries.

Sagittarius: Physically and socially there is an abundance of energy for you, especially early in the month. You could feel drawn to be of service to others in your community or simply to share your positivity with those closest to you. Either way, compassion and concern for others helps to boost your spirit and your consciousness during the holiday season.

Capricorn: This is a time for deliberate and methodical activities. Slowing down is good, but don’t stop doing what you enjoy and what is productive. Growth comes from learning to share with others in balanced and harmonious ways. You don’t have to lead the parade or take responsibility to make sure everyone else is having a good time. If others see you enjoying yourself, they can follow your example by making sure they are benefiting from their own experience.

Aquarius: Take time to go within this month. This could take the form of a spiritual retreat, extended periods of meditation or having fun with art projects. Whatever activity works for you, opportunities lay in spiritual growth and consciousness development. Being with others who share the same form of communion enhances the potential of the experience for all concerned.

Pisces: Powerful feelings of compassion and a drive to be of service to others abound for you all month. There may be challenges to your philosophical points of view, but the confidence to maintain your beliefs helps to overcome those disputes. Growth comes from developing the attention to detail that enables you to be most effective in your contributions.

Rio Olesky offers classes and private consultations in Sonoma County. Join Rio for his annual Perspectives talk on Tuesday January 5, 2010 at The Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. For more information about Perspectives 2010, regular classes or to make an appointment for a reading, call Rio at 707-887-1820. Check out his website:


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Occidental News & Events

Tons to report this month, so no introduction!

Harmony / Salmon Creek School
The big news this month is that the grading of the soccer field on campus is virtually done. Also, visitors and parents may notice the new boulders and trees in the triangular “peninsula” of land in the parking area, as well as progress on the planting area to the west of the new building. Drip irrigation, picket fencing, and new plantings are forthcoming, so stay alert!

The first Phone-a-thon Pledge Drive has just finished. As parents have proven by their generosity that they are committed to a new playground structure, securing additional large-donor contributions will be starting up soon. And speaking of the play structure, the committee will have decided which design to buy, by the time you read this! Thanks goes out to all who have already contributed so much.

Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary
Locals Night will make its final appearance of the year on Thursday, December 10. For only $10 per person (free with spa treatment within seven days), enjoy an enzyme footbath and Japanese tea and treats. Bring your friends for added fun; reservations are required as space is limited, 707.823.8231.

Occidental Community Choir
Share the joy of beautiful music and the warmth of community spirit with the Choir this December. The Occidental Community Choir is, in their own words, “a home-grown, quirky, non-profit group of dedicated singers and composers bringing both original and traditional choral music to the West County.”

New music director, Sarah Saulsbury, is a Sebastopol native who has been singing on and off with the choir since the age of thirteen.

Winter Moon, the 32nd Winter Concert Series, deftly blends choral repertoire from across the ages and genres - from sacred motets to the sparkling modernity of “little tree,” an e.e. cummings poem set to music. As always, there is a generous helping of OCC original compositions.

Concerts are at St. Philip's Center at 3730 Bohemian Hwy in Occidental, Friday Dec. 4th, Saturday Dec. 5th, and Saturday Dec. 12th at 8pm, and Sunday Dec. 13th at 3pm. Tickets are a $15 donation ($13 for Seniors 62+, and Free for Children 12 and under). For more information, contact:

Holiday Crafts Faire
The Occidental Community Council* is pleased to announce the 24th Annual Holiday Crafts Faire, a longstanding tradition in the community. The Faire will be held on Saturday and Sunday, December 12th and 13th at the Occidental Community Center (located on the corner of Bohemian Highway and Graton Road) in Occidental. The event will be open from 10am – 5pm on Saturday and 10am – 4pm on Sunday. Admission is free.

This Holiday Crafts Faire has something for the whole family, showcasing handmade crafts. In addition to highlighting over 35 local and regional artists and showcasing their special holiday pieces, there will be entertainment, wreaths, daily special guest appearances by Santa Claus, fabulous food, and more.

The Ceres Community Project will provide the food, preparing a special selection of fantastic healthy food. All proceeds from the sale of the food will go towards their program (bringing local teens together to learn about whole food and cooking while preparing organic meals for families who are facing health challenges).

Members of the famous Occidental Community Choir will be visiting the Holiday Crafts Faire throughout the weekend to sing holiday carols. For more information please contact Sherry Huss at

*Established in 1986, the Occidental Community Council is an all-volunteer, non-profit corporation. Representing a diverse cross-section of the community, it meets once a month to discuss investing support and resources locally. Its entire budget is derived from the Holiday Crafts Faire.

Tennis Court Update
Thanks to the efforts of David Dillman and Diane Senia, the community of Occidental rallied financial support last month to resurface the tennis courts at the Occidental Community Center. The ‘like-new’ courts were finished on October 9, and will bring new life to Occidental, where tennis classes for local kids can be offered again.

As you can see, community is thriving here in Occidental. As the holidays approach, please earmark as much of a donation as you can for the play structure at Harmony Salmon Creek (and call me to confirm, 707-874-3669). Kids from all over West County will thank you!

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De Schmire Restaurant: Petaluma CA

“When I first walked in that back door I knew some day I would like to own this restaurant.” That is the thing that crossed Danny Eastman’s mind when he went to work for De Schmire Restaurant in Petaluma 24 years ago. Danny started by washing dishes, moved into learning prep work and then the entire restaurant business through ‘on the job’ training.

The Restaurant was originally a candy store, later turned into a restaurant where people lined up to savor the good food served on wooden tables with benches. Later Matt Roche and Robert Steiner bought the restaurant and enclosed the patio and replaced the picnic benches with individual tables, white table clothes and napkins, creating a different dining atmosphere. They taught Danny Eastman all he needed to know by the time he purchased the restaurant in February of 2007. A month for painting and sprucing the place up and Danny was ready to go. He had help from Andrew Lujan who started at this restaurant himself as an apprentice in 1975 and is now the chef. Andy Lujan developed his taste for cooking from his mother who was a well known pastry chef. Andy also has worked in other French Restaurants, such as La Petite Bergier and Daniel’s in Marin County and The Bistro in Santa Rosa. Two other team members are Judi Mitchell who takes care of the front of the house and Greg Call, another chef, who has also been around for about 20 years creating the tasty meals of the house. These three chefs get along very well as the kitchen is rather small and it takes real coordination to work around each other.

Dan runs the business and purchases all the food as well as serving as part time Chef and Front of the House. He buys locally, getting meat from Rancho Veal (where he gets his sweetbreads), produce in Penngrove, fish from San Francisco, and his duck from Reichardt Duck Farm. His menu is extensive. He tries to have 3 or 4 fish dishes, chicken, beef, duck, veal, and 4 specialties every night. Danny’s specialty is his soups. He always has French Onion and Roasted Garlic Mushroom, but there are other special soups offered at different times. This week it is pumpkin soup. Last week a customer said, “I’ve eaten onion soup all over the world and this is the best I have ever had.”

The menu is French cuisine and entrees are extensive. The selections include: Filet Mignon , New York Steak or Sauté de Beouf ($22 to $24); De Whole Schmire combines filet mignon and jumbo prawns Portuguese (($28); Rack of Lamb ($29); Sweetbreads ($29)’ Veal Morel ($25); Chicken dishes ($20 - $28); Roast Duck ($20); two Prawn dishes ($22); Salmon ($21) Halibut ($22); Sole Dore ($21) and Paris Nights – a medley of fresh seafood, scallops, prawns, sea bass and mussels served in a creamy saffron sauce ($22). On top of this every night they have 3 or 4 Specialty Dishes.

There are 7 selections for Appetizers ($7 to $9) and 7 different soups and salads ($5 to $7) on the regular menu. The desserts include a chocolate mousse and crème Brule. The wine list changes but you can get wine by the glass, or a bottle of white wine which ranges in price from $30 to $45 and red wines ranging from $30 to $55.

When I decided to cover a restaurant in Petaluma I asked some “foodie” friends for a recommendation and without hesitation heard, DE SCHMIRE. The atmosphere is inviting, and both the service and the food are very good. As you know, French Cuisine is noted for delicate sauces that are part of the different dishes. You won’t be disappointed at De Schmire.
The restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Wednesday through Sunday they are open for dinner starting at 5:30 till closing (about 9:00). It is helpful to call in for dinner reservations so Danny has staff on board for crowded evenings, and you will be assured of a table. The phone number is 707 762 1901. There is a banquet room that holds 35 people. It is popular for Holiday Parties, Weddings, Birthdays and other special events. The restaurant is located at 203 Bodega Avenue in Petaluma. It is very close to downtown and parking is available across the street.


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Scattering Ashes: Moral but Illegal

Q: We have acquaintances who would like to have their ashes scattered over Sonoma County. Is that legal?

Signed: “Dotting” Paradise, Lovingly.

Dear “Dotting” Paradise:
What an interesting query - it caused me to don my researcher’s cap! As I sauntered through the California laws relating to cremated remains and the sort, I discovered a few interesting quirks. First, technically it is against the law to dispose of any human remains unless it is in a cemetery. What’s the “penalty” if you violate this law? Technically, breaking this law is classified as a misdemeanor, meaning it is a criminal offense and our Sonoma County District Attorney could file charges against the offender.

California is the largest state by volume for cremations. (Japan has the highest rate of cremation - 95%!) Now, with that said, I suspect that many Californians unknowingly violate the law by honorably scattering ashes under the cover of dark or discreetly, without the threat of prosecution. Not that I am encouraging to run afoul of the law, but the numbers do speak for themselves (and I don’t recall the last time I read an article about a family being prosecuted for illegally disposing of the ashes).

Now, hold on. Don’t lose hope to honor your loved ones and to also stay on the right side of he law. Most laws are a tangled weave of exceptions! You have a few options. You can legally dispose of the ashes one of the following ways:
• Door #1: In any church or religious shrine, with their written permission
• (H & S Code sec. 7054.6);
• Door #2: In “areas where no local prohibition exists” (H&S Code sec. 7116); or
• Door #3: At sea, which is defined as 500 yards from the shore. (H&S Code sec. 7117).

Let’s take a closer look behind Door #2—in areas where no local prohibition exists. This is a very broad exception. In essence, the key here is implicit or implied permission. For example, Smokey the Bear would even approve of you scattering ashes in our national parks - you just have to get a special use permit (Yosemite, for example, regularly issues such). Likewise, there is no prohibition against scattering the ashes on private land, with the land owner’s permission, of course. But be wary—if the private property owner goes to sell the land, he or she is supposed to disclose the existence of the human remains. Makes sense, if you think about it.

Now, let’s take a peek behind Door #3 - scattering at sea. Anyone can scatter the ashes, as long as they have a water vessel and a permit from the County. Yeap, that’s right. Ya gotta go by our Public Health Department (625-5th Street, Santa Rosa; (707) 565-4407) and they will help you with the paperwork. You just need eleven bucks and a copy of the death certificate. Now, when I first heard about this permit requirement, my cynic thought, “Oh, just another finger in the pie - government trying to control”. Oh, but contraire… if you think about it, the permit creates a permanent paper trial in case relatives of loved ones want to know where the remains are or visit the general site. Think of it as a “paper marker” for the future family genealogist who comes behind you.

Thanks for the great question - made me think and work - no easy answer. But as John Galsworthy quipped, “The beginnings and endings of all human undertakings are untidy”.

DEAR READERS: Do you have a legal question that is burning in your mind (but are afraid to ask an attorney…cha-ching…cha-ching)? If so, please send your questions to Debra A. Newby via email (contact information below). Your name will remain confidential. Although every inquiry may not be published, we will publish as many as possible. Finally, this Q & A Legal Column is intended as a community service to discuss general legal principles and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Debra A. Newby is a resident of Monte Rio and has practiced law for 27 years. She is a member of the California, Texas and Sonoma County Bar Associations and currently maintains an active law office in Santa Rosa. Her law practice emphasizes personal injury law (bicycle/motorcycle/motor vehicle accidents, dog bites, trip and falls, etc.) and expungements (clearing criminal records). Debra can be reached via email (, phone (707-526-7200), fax (526-7202) or pony express (930 Mendocino Avenue, Suite 101, Santa Rosa, 95401).

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Your Watershed: Coastal Cleanup, River Cleanup and Illegal Dumping

Where can you find 2,400 pounds of dumped metal, 116 tires, 108 cubic feet of recyclables and seven thousand pounds of household garbage? Sadly, you can find all of that in the Russian River. That is what 350 volunteers collected during this September’s Russian River cleanup event in the stretch of river between Cloverdale and Guerneville. Another 2,757 pounds of trash and 961 pounds of recyclable materials were collected by 226 volunteers from 39 miles of Sonoma County coastline.

The Russian River Watershed Association acknowledges and thanks the hundreds of volunteers who participated in September’s River and Coastal Cleanup events. By removing trash from coastal and river shorelines, we protect wildlife and water quality, and we beautify our environment.

Although some of this trash is the result of careless littering, another significant source is illegal dumping along our creeks, rivers, and coastlines. Household garbage and discarded appliances, tires and other items are dumped along creeks, rivers and roadside ditches throughout the county. In addition to compromising the beauty of our waterways, illegally dumped materials pose safety and environmental risks to people and wildlife as they can leach hazardous chemicals, block drainage ways and cause flooding.

A coalition of Sonoma County agencies has been working collaboratively to implement the “Keep Sonoma Clean” program which is designed to aggressively combat illegal dumping and littering along county roadways. Features of the program include:
• Illegal dumping remediation to remove and properly discard illegally dumped materials from areas with a high incidence of chronic dumping
• Expedited response to illegal dumping activity for more rapid cleanup of dump sites, and to discourage additional dumping at those locations
• Varied and convenient legal disposal options including drop-off locations and community clean up events
• Preventive barriers, signage, lighting and surveillance to make it more difficult for individuals to discard unwanted items illegally, and to identify and catch perpetrators
• Enhanced code enforcement to enable county Hearing Officers to conduct abatement hearings
• Media relations and community outreach to modify attitudes and educate the public about littering and illegal dumping
• Follow-up monitoring and reporting to determine which combination of methods most successfully prevents illegal dumping.

Surveillance cameras have been installed by county road crews in rural sites around the county where illegal dumping is common. This program has been successful in catching illegal dumping in action. The first criminal case prosecuted in Sonoma County resulted in the perpetrator being fined $250, assigned 40 hours of community service and placed on one-year of probation. Other cases are pending

A website,, has information on illegal dumping, how to report a site or dumping in progress, and legal disposal options in Sonoma County. Public awareness and education about illegal dumping is key to this program. In addition to the website, the County is posting signs, using radio advertisements, and distributing information at community events to get the word out about the illegal dumping problem.

It’s important for all of us to get involved. If illegal dumping is not reported, the problem grows. Simple actions on your part can help keep a small problem from becoming a big problem. Here is what you can do to help:
• If you see an illegal dumping is in progress, contact the law enforcement agency for that area. Be prepared to provide as much information such as: the location, a description of any vehicle or individual involved, and a license plate number. Illegal dumping that occurs within city limits should be reported to the local police department; in unincorporated Sonoma County it should be reported to the Sheriff’s Department.
• Report existing illegal dump sites by calling 877-565-DUMP (3867). For comprehensive information about legal ways to dispose of unwanted items in Sonoma County, visit the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency’s web site at or call the Eco-Desk (707) 565-3375.

Do your part to keep your community clean and green.

This article was authored Cristina Goulart of the Town of Windsor and Lisa Steinman of the County of Sonoma on behalf of RRWA. RRWA ( is an association of local public agencies in the Russian River Watershed that have come together to coordinate regional programs for clean water, fisheries restoration, and watershed enhancement


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