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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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shepherd Bliss Learns from Two Year Old Children

The Magic of Two-Year-Olds

By Shepherd Bliss

The biggest surprise of my 2010 was relationships with four unrelated two-year-olds, who are so full of magic and life-giving vitality. I am 66-years-old and have never had two-year-olds in my adult life. They have become this college teacher’s teacher.

I have known Ruby since her birth. I remember when a dozen adults commemorated the passage of Diana seven years after her death. Our sadness differed from Little Miss Goldilocks, as some call Ruby, who was bubbly and buoyant. I known that death and life are theoretically connected, but there it was in her presence and continuing enthusiastic participation in life. Ruby’s energy managed to shift ours and lift our sadness to joy as we remembered the good life that Diana had. Children belong not only at weddings, but also at funerals and memorial services.

River came to my farm one day, and we immediately recognized each other as kin. River re-parents me, though I am thirty-three times as old as he. He radiates contact with some primordial energy that was there before we arrived and will continue after we expire. He tends to unite people and draw their attention closer to the ground as they watch him interact. Yet when he visits my classes he sits calmly in one of his parent’s laps and seems to give even deeper attention than some of my adolescent students.

When we play together people ask if I am the grandfather, since there is a physical resemblance, given our olive skins and long eyelashes. I just smile in response.

Ruby is one of River’s “girlfriends.” They have such a unique dance when they see each other, open their arms, and move toward each other. They even hug and kiss.

River’s French grandparents recently visited. They modeled the importance of the grandparent-grandchild relationship. These two-year-olds evoke the grandfather archetype in me, which feels as if it has a biological base. I do not have my own children.

Nor did I not have grandfathers. Lightning struck one dead on our Iowa family farm as he went out to get his son. The other, whose name I bear, being the third in this line-up, was thought to be dead. But in my thirties we got a letter from him, in his long search for his first-born son. “I’m too old to start having a father,” my father responded, since he had been told that his father had abandoned him as an infant. I, however, responded, and we struck up a good conversation. My brother even met our grandfather, and liked him. “Deceased” was on the envelope of my last letter to him, as we were planning to meet.

Such memories return as I think about the grandfather energy, and how important it can be, and why I refused to father a child. Fortunately, I had wonderful uncles, on my mother’s side, especially my farming Uncle Dale. He was my sweet masculine model.

Opal came to me through River when we were at a farmers’ market. She began following River. Like Ruby, Opal is blonde and bright blue-eyed. River and Opal recently connected for some Christmas music. River got there first with his dad Laurent. When I arrived they were sitting on the floor together. After a while Laurent wanted to buy some books, so he placed a meditative River in my lap. Then Opal arrived; she got very excited and started jumping up and down when she saw River, who looked at her and then back to the calming music. Opal had so much excitement at seeing River that she did not come very close—electricity in the air--but walked around him into the store, smiling and looking his way, as if inviting him to follow. This come forward/go back went on for around half an hour, much to the delight of others in the store. They finally touched, but only briefly.

We then went to a restaurant to eat. By this time River was getting more excited. After eating he would alternately chase Opal around the restaurant and lead her on, again to the delight of the adults there. Once outside on the grass, the chase continued as they climbed up the “mountain” where I was standing guard, keeping them away from the road, and would send them down.

River initiated the “All Fall Down” game, verbally and physically. Opal would repeat the words, but did not seem to understand them at first, or fall down. Eventually she did fall down on the grass. It was as if they were bowing with devotion to the ground that holds all of us up. I watch how quickly they learn, especially from each other, if they are protected by adults, but not over-protected. They fall and with the aid of those flexible spines get up again. By falling we can learn how to be flexible and get back up.

Opal and River also ended up hugging and kissing. Both Ruby and Opal seem to take more initiative toward River, who alternately holds back, responds, and takes some initiative.

At Ruby’s recent second birthday party I met Asher, the youngest of this gang. He came toward me with his arms outreached, as if he recognized me. I instinctively bowed to him and opened my arms, picking him up. He promptly laid his head on my shoulders, which he did a few other times that night, both of us with large smiles. I later invited Asher and parents to a night-time boat festival on the Petaluma River. His eyes were full and his smile bright, as he pointed at one boat after another that came by, drawing our collective attention. His joy ignited our joy.

There is so much that I adore about these four young ones. I teach communication to college students. Each of these children, in their own unique ways, are peak communicators. They radiate connection, curiosity, sweetness, tenderness, and vulnerability. They have a lot to teach adults, as well as other children. It reminds me of the phrase from the old book, “Be ye not like a child, you will not get into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

There is another side to this story of my growing attention to two-year-olds. The recent death of two-year-old Callie Murray hit me hard. She would have been three on the day that I began writing this, Dec. 25, the birthday of baby Jesus. She was walking across the street hand-and-hand with her mom Ling Murray on Dec. 1. A student from Sonoma State University, where I teach, who was using a phone in her car at the time, crashed into them, killing tiny Callie and severely injuring her mother.

Since then I have had trouble getting that crash out of my mind and my nightmares, so I have been talking to my students about the dangers of texting and cell phones. May tiny Callie’s tragic death guide us to appropriate behavior. May we adults cherish and nourish the life that all young ones bring into the world and care for them.

I look forward to seeing each of my two-year-old friends again into whatever future might remain for me. So however old you may be, it is not too old to have young children in your life, to enjoy them, and be part of the village that we all need—young and old. They need us and we need them.

My 78-year-old friend Doug Von Koss recently sent me the following that James Broughton wrote on his 80th birthday: "Stand firmly, sit serenely, mutter profoundly, sing outrageously and dance all the way to your death."

Shepherd Bliss teaches at Sonoma State University, has maintained a farm in the Sebastopol countryside since l992, and can be reached at


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Monday, December 27, 2010

Confidential HIV Tests in Sonoma County

Face to Face Adds Rapid Oral Testing 
to its HIV Prevention Efforts
Confidential HIV test with results in 20 minutes

In acknowledgement of World AIDS Day in December, Face to Face, a local non-profit organization serving Sonoma County since 1983, is now offering confidential rapid oral HIV testing every Tuesday, from 2:00 – 4:00 pm. No appointment is needed. A donation of $15 is requested, but no one will be denied due to inability to pay. The donations will be used to support expanding the program.

The Face to Face office is located at 873 Second Street in Santa Rosa. The new testing program is a partnership with another local non-profit, Drug Abuse Alternatives Center (DAAC), where the test is also available. The collaboration is an effort to expand accessibility and outreach, and make it easier for anyone to get tested and receive their results in just 20 minutes.

Sonoma County Department of Public Health estimates that there are more than 2,000 Sonoma County residents living with HIV. Recent studies estimate that approximately 25% of people infected with HIV are not aware that they have the virus, and are largely responsible for new infections. Studies also show that once a person finds out they are HIV+, they will likely change their behaviors, including practicing safer sex. It is also very important for an HIV+ person to get early treatment for the disease which has improved survival rates dramatically. Excellent medical treatment and supportive services are available in Sonoma County from a coalition of HIV service providers including Face to Face and DAAC.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults and adolescents receive routine screening for HIV, and that those at high risk for HIV should be tested annually.

“Despite the government’s elimination of HIV prevention funding, we must find ways to inform and educate everyone in our community” stated Rick Dean, Executive Director of Face to Face. “We are relying on our volunteers to distribute condoms and educational materials as well as speaking in the local schools.” Face to Face’s Speakers Bureau goes into classrooms with accurate and age-appropriate information. A Health Educator gives the facts on HIV and how the virus is transmitted, and a Positive Speaker (a person living with HIV/AIDS) talks about their personal experience. “The speakers put a real face on the epidemic, and the students listen in a completely different way” says Dean. “We are very excited to add HIV testing to our prevention program and plan to expand the days and hours of availability as staff and volunteers are trained to be test counselors.”

In addition to HIV prevention, Face to Face serves nearly 600 men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS in Sonoma County with a variety of services including housing, transportation to medical appointments, benefits counseling and case management.

For more information, log onto:

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

First Conservation “Fish Bank” Along Coastal California

NOAA Approves First Conservation 
“Bank” Along Coastal

NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Fisheries Service has approved the East Austin Creek Conservation Bank designed to permanently preserve and restore over 400 acres of prime habitat for the preservation and recovery of federally endangered Central California Coast Coho salmon and threatened steelhead. The bank will be managed by the Wildlife Heritage Foundation in perpetuity.

A conservation bank is a free-market enterprise that offers landowners an economic incentive to protect, preserve and restore habitats for species listed as protected under the Endangered Species Act. In exchange, the landowner banks habitat “credits” that may be sold to groups like the Federal Highway Administration, the California Department of Transportation, local agencies, and others to compensate for adverse impacts on threatened or endangered species, or their habitats, caused by proposed projects.

The East Austin Creek Conservation Bank is located in the lower Russian River drainage and adjacent to the Austin Creek State Recreation Area; an area with perennial flows of cold water provide good habitat for salmon and steelhead, particularly during the critical summer rearing period. The location of the bank is designated in the draft Central California Coast coho salmon federal recovery plan as a “core recovery area;” the highest priority site for habitat restoration and preservation for critically endangered coho salmon.

The bank owner, Mrs. Nancy Summers, is not only conducting extensive restoration work but is also providing a new home for young coho salmon produced from broodstock raised in captivity by the collaborative Russian River Coho Salmon Captive Broodstock Program. The landowner has allowed program staff access to the bank property for in-stream habitat monitoring, fall out-planting of coho salmon this year, monitoring of adult returns and possible additional out-planting in later years. This represents a significant achievement of agency and landowner partnership on endangered species issues. The preservation and restoration of the property will also have ecosystem benefits by providing habitats to many of the rare and endemic plants and animals that depend on these habitats to thrive.
For more information regarding the bank please visit and scroll down to the East Austin Creek Conservation Bank.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at or on Facebook at

On the Web:
Photos of East Austin Creek Conservation Bank:
North Central California Coast Recovery:
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service:
Russian River Captive Broodstock Program:

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Sebastopol Rare Fruit Tree Swap Meet

Rare Fruit Gardeners 
Swap-Meet – Open to Public

January 29th 10:00AM until 2:00PM, at the Veterans Memorial Building at 282 High Street, Sebastopol 95472, open to the public, is the Scion (cuttings) and Plant Exchange where commonly over 500 varieties of common, rare and experimental scions and plants from all over Northern California are available free. There are grafting and planting demonstration classes for beginners, plus experts and hobbyists to answer. Custom trees can be grafted by experts for attendees on-the-spot for a few dollars. Bring bags, tape and pens to mark your acquisitions. Entry fee is $5, then all the cuttings and classes are at no extra charge. No patented or GMO plants are allowed.

CRFG has local events throughout the year, including garden tours, fruit tastings, juice pressings, and classes. Membership is $41 per year including national membership and the local chapter, and includes events and an interesting fruit-gardeners' magazine. More information and membership is available on the web anytime at


There are literally thousands of varieties of trees, vines and shrubs that bear edible fruit. Most people are familiar with only the most common varieties of fruits that are available commercially in stores. Many of these commercial varieties are available primarily because of the durability of the fruit for shipping, handling and storage rather than for best flavor. Even though the best tasting fruits can be too fragile for commercial distribution, they are perfectly suited to the home-gardener. Anyone with at least a six foot by six foot patch of open sunlight can successfully grow a tree with delicious fruits, even if only in a box of soil on pavement. Up to 4 trees can be planted in the same hole. Multiple fruit varieties can be grown on the same plant by means of simple grafting techniques, resulting in a "fruit salad" tree! Properly selected fruit-bearing plants can also be used for edible landscaping, proving a pleasing visual display in addition to gourmet treats.

Many of the best-tasting fruits are only available from specialty catalogs and growers, or through hobbyist organizations like California Rare Fruit Growers (CRFG). CRFG promotes interest in all aspects of fruit growing, with special emphasis on rare and unusual fruits. North Bay CRFG members in "Luther Burbank country" get together regularly to taste fruits, trade plants, and to swap tips on local growing techniques and what grows best in local conditions and micro-climate pockets. Many local members grow over 100 varieties of fruit each in their back yards!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Stroller Drive for Homeless Women

Homeless Mothers Need Strollers 
for Their Babies

Community First Credit Union is collecting strollers to benefit mothers who are served by the generosity and kindness of The Living Room in Santa Rosa.

Baby Strollers are the single most critical and consistent need of the women and children who are helped by The Living Room. Drop off a baby stroller in good mechanical order directly to The Living Room. Monday through Friday, between 9a and 1p. 636 Cherry St., Santa Rosa, CA 95404. Between Mendocino and Humboldt. 579-0138.

You can also drop off a well-conditioned stroller to either of Community First’s full-service branches in Santa Rosa, M–F, 1–5p. 501 College (@ Mendocino) or 70a Stony Point Rd. (south of Finley Aquatic Center)

The Living Room is the only daytime drop-in center in Sonoma County that serves homeless and at-risk women and their children. If fills a special need in conjunction with other community agencies, providing clients with a place to be during the day when shelters are closed. It is also a critical first stop for women who are on the verge of becoming homeless, the first place that at-risk or newly homeless turn to for relief and referral guidance.

For every accepted stroller you donate:
Community First donates $10 to The Living Room
–– and ––
Community First gives you $10 toward the CFCU account of your choice

Learn more about how YOU can HELP these mothers and children!

707/546-6000 ☎

The Living Room
636 Cherry Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95404 (view map)

Main Office:
Office: 707-579-0138
Fax: 707-579-0228
For Volunteer Information:
For Drop-In Center:


The Living Room is a day time drop-in center that provides a safe haven to ease the adversity of homelessness in a kind and caring atmosphere. For women and children who are homeless and at risk, The Living Room provides comfort, support, resources and services to meet basic needs and to assist in attaining self-sufficiency and stability in their lives.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sonoma County CASA Seeks Volunteer for Neglected Children

Mentors Needed for Neglected Children

Every day in Sonoma County, children are removed from their homes because they have been abused, neglected, or abandoned. Through no fault of their own, these children are made dependents of the Juvenile Court and enter a world where an overburdened legal system sometimes cannot hear their voices.

These youth need a CASA advocate to provide consistent and personal support as they go through months and sometimes years of legal procedures. All too often, the children are moved from one temporary placement to another, never knowing what it is to have the comfort of a permanent home.

The CASA volunteer provides human contact that the kids need and the adult experience and savvy the court needs to make better decisions for them. Juvenile court officials have identified an additional 36 youth who need advocates and CASA is appealing to Sonoma County residents to volunteer. CASA advocates are asked to spend a minimum of 10-12 hours a month on their case.

Executive Director, Millie Gilson, states that there are approximately 135 volunteers, and hopes to recruit another 20 with the next training.

The training, which takes place over three and a half days begins Thursday, January 20th, then runs from Tuesday, January 25th through Thursday, January 27th. Classes are held at CASA’s office at the Los Guilicos complex near Oakmont in Santa Rosa. For more information, contact Gilson at (707) 565-6375.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Redwood Seedling Reforestation by Forest Unlimited

Volunteers are needed to help plant 
on beautiful Sonoma County land.

This January, Forest Unlimited will be planting approximately 2,000 two-year old redwood seedlings for reforestation and erosion control at Wild Wood Retreat, a stunningly beautiful 500+ acre location in the hills above Guerneville. The proposed county Jenner Headlands-Austin Creek Recreation Area trail will pass through part of this property. The only thing we are in short supply of are volunteers to help plant the trees.

Forest Unlimited is a 15-year old 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation headquartered in Cazadero. Its mission is to protect, enhance, and restore the forests and watersheds of Sonoma County. Please visit our website at

The planting dates are on Friday, January 7th and Saturday, January 8th. On each day, we will rendezvous at 8:30 a.m. in Guerneville to carpool. The morning session will end at around 12:30 and the afternoon session will end around 4:30 p.m. We could use your help, even if you can plant for only half of one day. All equipment and a free indoor lunch, including drinks and snacks, will be provided. Vegetarian food will also be available.

The seedlings average about 18-inches in height and are not difficult to plant. These trees will be protected and will not be subject to future logging.

To sign up and/or to ask any questions, please contact us: Carl Wahl, Project Manager, at 874-9268 or or Bob Nelson, Project Manager, at 874-1740 or at,

Upon sign-up, we will send you further information regarding rendezvous location, car-pooling, appropriate attire, etc. Please tell your friends, and thanks.


Great Big Trees

By Victoria Wikle

What is the biggest tree? You know the answer.
The coast redwood (sequoia sempervirens) is the tallest living species on Earth. Redwood grows along the coast in SW Oregon and NW California in foggy areas. Often they can reach heights of 300-350 feet and diameters of 16-18 feet. More than a dozen trees exceeding 360 feet in height are now growing along the California coast. The largest tree was measured at 364 feet high and 20 feet diameter.

How fast do they grow?
Redwood trees can grow very rapidly. Young trees develop a narrow conical silhouette--the highest branches reaching upward, the lower ones drooping. This shape changes with age. Young redwoods use sunlight so efficiently (3-4 times more than pines) that they can grow even in deep shade. But with full sunlight and moist soil, a redwood sapling can grow more than 6 feet in a single growing season.

How do they reproduce?
Redwood reproduces both sexually and asexually. Redwood begins
producing seeds at 5 to 15 years of age. Redwood cones release tiny brown seeds (125,000 weigh about a pound) when mature. A single tree may produce six million seeds in a year. Of these seeds, only a small number germinate and grow into seedlings. Redwood also can sprout from the roots of parent trees, from dormant buds in the burls at the base of a tree, or from fallen trees. If a tree is cut or burned, a family circle of trees ("fairy ring") may sprout up from the stump. These sprouts, because of already established root systems, grow more vigorously than seedlings and so are the more common form of reproduction. In fact, successive generations of sprouts are really "clone trees". Thus the genetic information of an individual redwood may be thousands of years old, dating back to the first parent.

How old are they?

Paleobotanists report finding fossil redwoods, dated up to 160 million years old, throughout western North America and along the coasts of Europe and Asia. Redwood fossils in California seem to be more recent, limited to rocks less than 20 million years old.

What is special about their roots?
The root system is composed of deep, wide spreading lateral roots with no taproot. In the floodplain environment redwood uses "the endurer strategy." After flooding and stem burial, redwood will develop a new and higher lateral root system from buried buds on the bole of the tree. While the repeated flooding and deposition of soil (often to depths of 30 inches) kills competing vegetation, redwood endures. The bark is up to 12 inches thick and quite fibrous that helps mature trees survive fire.

Did you know there are white redwoods?

Redwood is one of the few vegetatively reproducing conifers, readily regenerating from stump sprouts in the wake of a major disturbance (typically fire). One peculiar consequence of this is the occurrence of “white redwoods,” which are trees that originate as root sprouts, do not use sunlight for energy, deriving all of their carbohydrate from the roots of their photosynthetic associates (which are not necessarily related, as root grafting is common between redwoods). White redwoods are found only in old-growth forests, where the overstory biomass of photosynthetic redwoods is colossal (redwood forests have the highest aboveground biomass loadings in the world) and the white trees are generally less than 3 meters tall. However, white redwoods up to 60 feet tall are known to exist. Trees clad in fresh foliage are snow-white.

How do redwoods relate to water?
Redwoods are a hydrostatic marvel. They can siphon water upward to great heights, fighting gravity and friction every inch of the way. And during the dry summers in California, the coast redwoods actually create their own "rain" by condensing heavy fog into drenching showers that provide welcome moisture to the roots below.

Why do redwoods thrive in foggy places?
Scientists believe that redwoods take in much of their water directly from the air, through their needles and through canopy roots that the trees sprout on their branches. Lofty "soil mats" formed by trapped dust, needles, seeds and other materials act like sponges to capture the water that nurtures these canopy roots. Moisture from fog is thought to provide 30% to 40% of a redwood's water supply.

What else lives with redwoods?

Redwood forests also support many plants and animals. Squirrels, deer and raccoons are frequently seen residents. Nests of the endangered Marbled Murrelet and the Northern Spotted Owl are found almost exclusively in old-growth redwood forests. The yellow banana slug spends its life grooming the forest floor. Tree companions include Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and California bay (Umbellularia californica). Some of the other plants that grow under the tree (more about these in future columns):
California hazelnut (Corylus californica)
Evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum)
Western azalea (Rhododendron occidentale)
Woodrose (Rosa californica)
Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus var.velutinus)
Redwood sorrel (Oxalis oregana)
Redwood violet (Viola empervirens)
Sword fern (Polystichum munitum)
Wild ginger (Asarum caudatum)
Alumroot(Heuchera spp.)
California wax myrtle (Myrica californica)
Bleeding heart(Dicentra formosa)
Lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina)
Five-finger fern(Adiantum aleuticum)
Giant trillium (Trillium chloropetalum)

Where can I see old growth redwoods?
A nearby example of the redwood forest is the beautiful grove of old redwoods at Armstrong Redwood Preserve in Guerneville. The Preserve allows free parking and free walking admittance all year round.

Do redwoods make good garden plants?
Yes, they do especially in their native range. How many have you planted?

® Victoria Wikle

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Geyserville Community Column - December 2010

A Glance Back in Time
November brought us such amazing fall colors, for this is the time that acres of vines display reds, oranges and yellow ochre leaves viewed against various hued mountains and hills. It is a wonderful time to get out your cameras or paint brushes or just take in the extraordinary beauty of mother nature who paints a gorgeous picture every day.

This year was rather cool and in doing our final harvest it was discovered much of our tomato crop stayed green. I googled what to do with green tomatoes and discovered they can be made into a delicious chutney.  Mummy’s Kitchen is offering this delicacy as a sauce for the Egyptian Sesame Chicken they are serving.

By now many have experienced their traditional turkey dinner and it is time to face the end ot  the year holiday season. All the lovely leaves are falling and soon bare vines will be reaching out their gnarled  and twisted branches against a backdrop of neat rows in fields and hills as green replaces the golden grasses that divide their unique forms. Our ever changing landscape.

There will have been a tree lighting in the Visitors Plaza on Geyserville Avenue on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving...Santa Claus will have been there to the delight of local children as well as singing carolers from the town, with all others welcome. Geyserville merchants will be lighting up their places of business then too and it should be quite a festive time. 

In addition to the frivolity barrels placed strategically will give townsfolk a chance to offer presents to those less able to have toys or food in these hard times. There  will also be collections for our soldiers in Afghanistan.

December Events
DEC. 4th — Terroirs wine tasting room will have an event called Red Velvet where you can meet Santa Claus and listen to a rocking band called Rush Hour. This is a benefit for the Healdsburg Animal Shelter.

DEC. 11thIsis Oasis Theatre will have a Winter Solstice Harp Concert at 8 p.m. $20 at the door, You can have dinner before hand at Mummy’s Kitchen on the pavilion  from 5 p.m. till the show begins. This trio of harpists called Triskela play an eclectic mix of traditional world music along with original works. Diana Stork, well known in the harp world, along with Shawna Speteri and Portia Diwa will be playing the harp, singing , and using other instruments in this very special celebration of the light returning.

Many of the wine tasting rooms on Geyserville Ave. will have special events during this holiday time.
DEC. 18 &19 — There will be a festive wine tasting at Meekers, the tasting room that occupies an old bank complete with vault now filled with wine. No doubt the whole town will be flowing with local wine, and the lights of the season twinkling merrily.

Shopping in Geyserville

If you are shopping for a gift for a wine enthusiast you can certainly find something unique at one of the five tasting rooms on the quaint block that constitutes the small town of Geyserville. These very friendly and inviting places are offering not only wine but some clever wine related gift items.

There are other tasting rooms still in Geyserville but more outlying, like Pedroncelli and the new Francis Ford Coppola winery now complete with a shop, and a swimming pool (which will not be open during winter).

There is the historical Bosworth Hardware Store that is filled to the brim with not only hardware but gifts  galore. It’s thrilling to walk the 100-year-old wood floor to view the array of merchandise that you will not see anywhere else — perfect for women who have cowboy type guys in their lives and vice versa; and there are grandma grabbers with terrific things for little kids.

You can browse within the two relatively new vintage shops on opposite  ends of the town. This is another opportunity to find treasures of the past that will delight you, so different from a trip to a department store.

Finally, there is the Isis Bazaar for those who love ancient Egypt. This shop is on the grounds of Isis Oasis Retreat Center, which is presenting a special holiday package for those who would like to have an alternative relaxing staycation from Cnristmas through New Year’s with meaningful activities each day and ending in a costume party.
Come explore Geyserville for fun and shopping before the year ends!


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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Russian River Water and Fisheries Public Meeting

Public Meeting Scheduled on 15-year Plan for
Russian River Fisheries, Water Supply

A 15-year blueprint to help endangered and threatened fish while maintaining the region’s primary water supply is the subject of a meeting scheduled 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., Monday, December 13, at the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 575 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa

The Russian River Biological Opinion was released by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in September 2008. This 15-year plan requires the Sonoma County Water Agency (Water Agency) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) to modify Russian River water supply and flood control operations to prevent harm to endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout. The Public Policy Facilitating Committee (PPFC) – comprised of elected and appointed officials from public agencies throughout the region – meets annually to review progress.

“The Water Agency has made significant progress over the past year in an effort to comply with the Biological Opinion, spending significant resources to improve fisheries habitat,” said PPFC Chairman Paul Kelley, a Water Agency Director and a member of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “It is not business as usual for the Water Agency and the delivery of water to 600,000 people -- given the Biological Opinion. The PPFC meeting will be a venue for the public to get up to speed on this progress and meet face-to-face with Russian River Biological Opinion stakeholders.”

The Biological Opinion requirements include reducing minimum summertime flows in the Russian River and Dry Creek (known as the “Fish Flow Project”); changing the way the sandbar is breached at the estuary in Jenner between May 15 and October 15; and enhancing habitat in Dry Creek.

Representatives from the Water Agency, the USACOE, NMFS and California Department of Fish & Game will make presentations on the Fish Flow, Estuary and Dry Creek projects. The public will have an opportunity to comment.

For additional information, please contact Ann DuBay, (707) 524-8378 or

Sonoma County Water Agency provides water supply, flood protection and sanitation services for portions of Sonoma and Marin counties. Visit us on the Web at

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sonoma County's BIG Holiday Calendar by Leigh Douglass

Leigh Douglass is the Gazette's thoroughly dedicated “Calendar Girl” and she does her job with remarkable enthusiasm. She has made a collection of everything to do for Holiday Fun in Sonoma County with URLS and Phone numbers for more info - AND - you can go to the Gazette's on-line calendar for complete information on each listing:

Take a look and enjoy this splendid Holiday Season!


to Dec 23 ~ Stained Glass Ornaments ~ Ages 5+. $5+ per piece. 1:00-4:00 pm, Aurora Colors Stained Glass Art, 10 Enterprise Dr, Suite D, Rohnert Park ~ RSVP: 707-588-1200 ~

to Dec 26 ~ Art Cards ~ Unique cards local artists. Open House Dec 4, 11:00-5:00 pm. Quercia Gallery, 25193 Highway 116, Duncans Mills ~ 707-865-0243 ~

thru Dec ~ Holiday Gallery ~ Cards, ornaments, giftables, + fused glass by Michelle Copeland. Open House Dec 2 to 9:00 pm. Russian River Art Gallery, 16200 First St, Guerneville ~ 707-869-9099 ~

to Jan 3 ~ Celebrating the Holidays ~ Imaginative gift ideas. Local Color Gallery, 1580 Eastshore Rd, Bodega Bay ~ 707-875-2744 ~

to Jan 3 ~ Holiday Gift Gallery ~ High-quality, giftable art. Healdsburg Center for the Arts, 130 Plaza St ~ 707-431-1970 ~

to Jan 7 ~ Charlie Brown Christmas Tree Grove ~ decorated by people, organizations, & businesses of Windsor. On the Town Green ~

Dec 3-4 ~ Studio Sale ~ Award-winning local artist Jim Sullivan. 10:00-4:00, 1921 Joy Ridge Rd near Occidental ~ 707-874-9927 ~

Dec 3-5 ~ Dance Palace Holiday Crafts Fair ~ Free. Fri 3:00-9:00, Sat-Sun 10:00-5:00, 503 B St at 5th, Point Reyes Station ~ 415-663-1075 ~

Dec 3, 10 ~ Christmas Benefit - Brenda’s Beads ~ 1:00-4:00 pm, Russian River Senior Center, 15010 Armstrong Woods Rd, Guerneville ~ Brenda,

Dec 4-5 ~ Dickens of a Holiday Craft Fair ~ 60+ booths with handcrafted items. $2. Sat 9:00-5:00, Sun 10:00-4:00, Finley Community Ctr, 2060 W College Ave, Santa Rosa ~ 707-543-3737 ~

Dec 4-5 ~ Goddess Crafts Faire ~ A community celebration of the coming of winter through women’s art, music, & dance. $5-$13 by donation. 11:00-7:00, Sebastopol Community Center, 390 Morris St ~ 707-823-1511 ~

Dec 4-5 ~ Holiday Boutique ~ Unique & beautiful hand-crafted gifts from local artists. 11:00-5:00, Studio Maresca, 16120 Watson Rd (off Armstrong Woods Rd), Guerneville ~ Sandra Maresca:  707-869-9419,

Dec 4-5 ~ Holiday on Florence! ~ Weaving, jewelry, pottery, paintings, cards, folk art, natural botanicals & more. 11:00-5:00, 343 Florence Ave, Sebastopol. ~ 707-280-2607 ~

Dec 4, 11 ~ Visions of Southeast Asia ~ Global marketplace sale. 4th 5:00-8:00 pm & 11th Noon-5:00 pm. Uribe Studios, 461 Sebastopol Ave, Santa Rosa ~ 707-887-9540 ~ Deborah,

Dec 4, 11 ~ Holiday Ceramics Sale ~ Functional & decorative pieces. 10:00-4:00, Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 6780 Depot St ~ 707-829-4797 ~

Dec 5 ~ Zen Fest Holiday Sale ~ 9:00-4:00 pm, Masonic Center, 373 N Main St, Sebastopol (across from Safeway) ~  707-829-1129 ~

Dec 11-12 ~ Holiday Crafts Faire ~ Raffle, carolers, food, Santa! Free admission. Sat 10:00-5:00, Sun 10:00-4:00, Occidental Community Ctr, 3920 Bohemian Hwy at Graton Rd ~

Dec 17-19 ~ Holiday Wonderland Craft Faire ~ Back by popular demand! Fri 11:00-7:00; Sat 10:00-6:00; Sun 10:00-4:00, Monte Rio Community Center, 20488 Highway 116 ~ 707-865-9956 ~


Dec 4 ~ Holiday Open House ~ Christmas merriment & entertainment abounds amongst Downtown Petaluma Merchants. 11:00-5:00. ~ Marie or Jenny, 707-762-9348 ~

Dec 4 ~ Winter Faire ~ An old-fashioned holiday outing for young & old. 11:00-4:00, Summerfield Waldorf School & Farm, 655 Willowside Road, Santa Rosa ~ 707-575-7194 ~

Dec 4-5 ~ Holiday Open House ~ $2. 10:00-4:00, Luther Burbank Home & Gardens, 204 Santa Rosa Ave ~ 707-524-5445 ~

Dec 5 ~ Holiday Parlour Tour ~ $15; under-17 free. 6:00-9:00 pm, around historic downtown Petaluma. Heritage Homes of Petaluma ~ 707-762-3456 ~

Dec 6 ~ Children’s Holiday Program ~ Stories, songs, & hot chocolate with author Marsha Diane Arnold & local poet Gail Larrick. 6:30 pm, Healdsburg Regional Library, 139 Piper St ~
707-433-3772 ~

Dec 9 ~ Holiday Cookie Exchange ~ Bring two dozen + your recipe & leave with two dozen! 2:00 pm, Sebastopol Area Senior Center, 167 N High St ~ RSVP: 707-829-2440 ~

Dec 11 ~ Breakfast with Santa ~ Stop by for complimentary pancakes, eggs, bacon, coffee & juice. 8:30-11:00 am, Palm Drive Hospital, 501 Petaluma Ave, Sebastopol ~ 707-823-8511 ~

Dec 11 ~ Christmas Stopping ~ Meditation sit-in with Transition Sebastopol and Heart & Soul. 3:00 pm, shopping center location TBA. ~

Dec 11 ~ Hurrah for the Holidays ~ Stories, songs, & a craft for children ages 2-6 with a caregiver. 11:00 am, Rohnert Park-Cotati Regional Library, 6250 Lynne Condé Way ~ 707-584-9121 ~

Dec 11 ~ Once Upon a Gingerbread House ~ Come & make a gingerbread house with us! Children ages 4-10 with their parent or caregiver. 11:00-1:00, Sonoma County Library, 211 E St (at Third), Santa Rosa ~ 707-545-0831 ~

Dec 11 ~ Madrigal Dinner ~ Music, dance, fine food, & conversation. $15-$60. 7:00 pm (6:30 doors), Forestville United Methodist Church, 6550 Covey Rd at Center ~ RSVP: 707-887-2020 ~

Dec 23 ~ Community Christmas Celebration ~ Food, fun, & services for homeless & low-income families. Free! 11:00-6:00, Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Rd, Santa Rosa ~ 707-578-1830 ~

Dec 25 ~ Community Holiday Dinner ~ All Welcome! 1:00-4:00 pm, Guerneville Veteran’s Hall, Church & 1st Street ~ Leslyn 707-869-0660 or Mary 887-7374


Dec 2 ~ Windsor Holiday Celebration ~ Carriage, trolley, & train rides, strolling carolers, elves workshop, more! 5:00-8:00 pm, Windsor Town Green, 9455 Bell Rd ~ 707-838-1260 ~

Guerneville Holiday Extravaganza ~ Theme ‘World Dance Celebration’ ~
707-869-9000 ~
Dec 2 ~ 5:00-9:00 pm, Merchant Open House & Tree-Lighting Ceremony
Dec 4 ~ 7:00 pm, 10th Annual Holiday Parade of Lights

Dec 3 ~ Chanukah Celebration ~ Russian River Jewish Community potluck dinner. Music by Jubilee Klezmer Ensemble. Members free, guests $8. 5:30 pm, Russian River Senior Center, 15010 Armstrong Woods Rd, Guerneville ~ 707-869-3273 ~

Dec 3 ~ Cloverdale Tree Lighting ~ 44th Annual! Pictures with Santa, hot cocoa, cider & donuts. 5:00-7:00 pm, Downtown Plaza ~ 707-894-4470 ~

Dec 7 ~ Service of Remembrance ~ A quiet service of candlelight & reflection. 7:00 pm, Community Church of Sebastopol UCC, 1000 Gravenstein Hwy N, Sebastopol ~ 707-823-2484 ~

Dec 8 ~ Service of Remembrance ~ Music, reading of names, & candle lighting. 6:30-8:00 pm, Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa ~ RSVP: 707-535-5780 ~

Dec 11 ~ Lighted Boat Parade ~ The 20+year tradition continues! Free. 6:30 pm, Turning Basin, Downtown Petaluma ~ 707-763-9725 ~

Dec 11 ~ Old Tyme Celebration ~ Hot cider & cookies, plus the arrival of Santa. Sometimes it even snows! (with an assist from the firefighters…) 11:00-4:00 in front of Cazadero General Store. Rain will move us to the Firehall. ~ Natasha Pehrson,

Dec 12 ~ Santa visits Graton ~ All welcome for surprises, juice & cookies, free pics with Santa. Bring a new, unwrapped gift for ‘Toys for Kids’. 1:00-5:00 pm, Graton Community Clubhouse, 8996 Graton Rd at Edison St ~ Barbara, 707-823-0570

Dec 19 ~ Cazadero’s Got Talent ~ Bring the whole family for candlelight service, skits, singers, & strummers. Delicious desserts. 6:00 pm, Cazadero Community Church, 6205 Cazadero Hwy ~ Twila, 707-632-5865

Dec 19 ~ Yule Ritual ~ with Starhawk & Northbay Reclaiming. $15-50 by donation. 7:00 pm (6:30 gathering), Sebastopol Community Center, 390 Morris St ~ 707-484-7786 ~


to Dec 12 ~ Coat Drive ~ Bring gently used coats to Sebastopol Christian Church, 7433 Bodega Ave ~ 707-823-8242 ~

to Dec 15 ~ Holiday Wish Program ~ Select an ornament with a child’s wish & return the wrapped gift to WestAmerica Bank, 16264 Main St or Frank Howard Allen, 16203 1st St, Guerneville ~ 707-869-3613 ~

to Dec 16 ~ Adopt-a-Family ~ Active 20-30 Sebastopol #63 is collecting toys, clothes, games, gift certificates, & non-perishable food items for local families in need. ~ Samantha, 707-536-3252 ~

to Dec 31 ~ ReUse Campaign ~ Seeking blankets/towels, jackets, hats, & gloves for local organizations serving people & animals in need. Frank Howard Allen Realtors Guerneville, 16203 1st St ~
707-869-3865 ~

to Jan 17 ~ Warm Coats &; Warm Hearts ~ Partnership between One Warm Coat & Burlington Coat Factory, 311 Rohnert Park Expy W, Rohnert Park ~
707-578-1830 ~

Dec 5 ~ Toy Run ~ Bring a new, unwrapped gift for Toys for Tots. Register 9:00, Ride w.Santa Noon, Lunch 1:00 pm. Cloverdale Citrus Fairgrounds, 1 Citrus Fair Dr ~ Geraldo 894-3910 or Jay 239-0500 ~

Dec 13-15 ~ Gift Box Assembly ~ Put together food boxes & toys for the community. 5:30-7:30 pm, Redwood Christian Fellowship Church, 7789 Healdsburg Ave, Sebastopol ~

Dec 18, 20-23 ~ Gift Wrapping ~ Your donation benefits Paws for Love. 9:00-1:00, Barnes & Noble, 700 4th St, Santa Rosa ~

Toy Drives ~ Donate new, unwrapped toys for children that would otherwise go without.
to Dec 10 ~ Sebastopol Volunteer Fire Department, 7425 Bodega Ave ~ 707-823-8061 ~
to Dec 23 ~ Forestville Fire, 6554 Mirabel Rd ~ 707-887-2212 ~


Masters in this Hall ~ Celebrate the Season with the Sonoma County Chamber Singers. By donation. ~
Dec 3 ~ 7:30 pm, United Church of Cloverdale, 439 N Cloverdale Blvd
Dec 4 ~ 3:00 pm, Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa
Dec 5 ~ 3:00 pm, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 1300 St Francis Rd, Santa Rosa

Occidental Community Choir ~ Holiday music of the 1500s to Today. $13-$15 ~ 707-874-8622 ~
Dec 3 ~ 8:00 pm, Subud Hall, 234 Hutchins Ave, Sebastopol
Dec 4, 11, 12 ~ 8:00 pm, Occidental Center for the Arts, 4008 Bohemian Hwy
Dec 5 ~ 3:00 pm, Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa

Renaissance Glory ~ The Festival Consort presents vocal & instrumental music celebrating the season. $15. ~ 707-528-6370 ~
Dec 3 ~ 7:30 pm, Petaluma Arts Center, 230 Lakeville St
Dec 19 ~ 4:00 pm, Church of the Incarnation, 550 Mendocino Ave,
Santa Rosa

Dec 4 ~ Holiday Concert ~ SRJC Orchestra, Santa Rosa Children’s Chorus, reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’, Santa visit! $5. 3:00 pm, Santa Rosa Bible Church, 4575 Badger Rd ~ Cynthia 707-528-8884 or

Sing-Along Messiah ~ 707-829-4797 ~
Dec 5 ~ Rehearsal ~ Optional. 4:00-6:00 pm, Sebastopol Center for the Arts,
6780 Depot St
Dec 11 ~ Performance ~ $6 ea, $15 family. 3:00 pm, Sebastopol United Methodist Church, 500 N Main St

Dec 11, 12 ~ Warmth of Christmas Musical ~ Sing-along! Bring-along a coat to donate. 6:30 pm, Sebastopol Christian Church, 7433 Bodega Ave ~ 707-823-8242 ~

Dec 12 ~ Christmas Concert ~ Hand bells & Choir. Sing-along encouraged! Refreshments. 6:30 pm, First Presbyterian Church of Petaluma, 939 ‘B’ St ~
707-762-8269 ~

Dec 12 ~ Holiday Hoedown ~ Arann Harris & Farm Band, Warren Hellman & the Wronglers, sing-a-longs, Holiday sweater contest. All ages. $10+2 cans of food. 6:30 pm (5:30 doors), Mystic Theatre, 23 Petaluma Blvd N, Petaluma ~

Dec 18, 19 ~ Yule Tide Musical Showcase ~ With local artists. Sing-a-long, too! 18th 8:00 pm; 19th 2:00 pm. Curtain Call Theatre Co at the Russian River Hall, 20347 Highway 116, Monte Rio ~ 707-524-8739 ~

Dec 19 ~ Family Christmas Sing-along ~ with Mr. Music. $5/$10. 4:00 & 7:00 pm, Sebastopol Community Center, 390 Morris St ~

Dec 19, 21 ~ River Choir ~ International Festive Choral Music to celebrate the season. By donation. 19th 4:00 pm; 21st 7:00 pm. Guerneville Community Church, 14520 Armstrong Woods Rd ~ 707-869-3273 ~

Dec 10 ~ Christmas in Old Europe ~ Old World Carolers a cappella choir. $10 by donation. 7:00 pm, Sebastopol United Methodist Church, 500 N Main St ~ 707-823-7971 ~

Dec 31 ~ New Years Eve ~ Dance Party & Celebration. $15/$20. 7:00pm – 1:00am, Sebastopol Community Center 390 Morris St ~ 707-823-1511 ~

Dec 1-3, 10-11 ~ Rancho Cotate High School’s International Thespian Society. $3/$8. 7:00 pm, 5450 Snyder Ln, Rohnert Park ~

Dec 1-19 ~ $10-25. Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun 8:00 pm; Sat-Sun 2:00 pm, Sonoma County Repertory Theater, 104 N Main St, Sebastopol ~ 707-823-0177 ~

Dec 2-18 ~ $12-$15. Thu-Fri-Sat 8:00 pm, The Imaginists Theatre Collective, 461 Sebastopol Ave, Santa Rosa ~707-528-7554 ~

Dec 3-18 ~ $8/$15. Fri-Sat 7:00 pm; Dec 12 2:00 pm. Cloverdale Performing Arts Center, 209 N Cloverdale Blvd ~ 707-894-2214 ~

Dec 3, 4 ~ A Christmas Memory ~ and other Holiday stories. presented by Petaluma Readers Theatre. $12. 7:30 pm, Pelican Art Gallery, 143 Petaluma Blvd N ~ 707-765-2007 ~

Dec 3-11 ~ How the Lorax Stole Hanukkah ~ $5/$8. Fri-Sat 7:30 pm, Sun 2:00 pm. Analy High School Theater, 6950 Analy Ave, Sebastopol ~ 707-824-2360 ~

Dec 3-19 ~ It’s a Wonderful Life ~ A Staged Radio Play with Music. $5-$15. Fri-Sat 8:00 pm; Sun 2:00 pm. Pegasus Theater Company at Rio Nido Lodge, Canyon Two Rd ~ 707-583-2343 ~

Dec 4-5 ~ The Night Before Christmas ~ Presented by Teresa Lubarsky’s Healdsburg Ballet. $10-15. Sat 7:00 pm & Sun 2:00 pm, Raven Theater, 115 North St, Healdsburg ~ 707-433-6335 ~

Dec 5 ~ Classic Christmas Films ~ $4+non-perishable food item. Spreckles Performing Arts Center, 5409 Snyder Ln, Rohnert Park ~ 707-588-3400 ~
Noon ~ Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
2:30 pm ~ Albert Finney is Scrooge

Dec 11 ~ Twisted Christmas Live 8 ~ Will Durst, Reed Martin, Debi Durst, John Moran, & more! $15/$20. 7:30 pm, Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa ~ 707-568-5381 ~

Dec 17 ~ Film: Christmas in Connecticut ~ $2 by donation. 2:00 pm, Sebastopol Area Senior Center, 167 N High St ~ 707-829-2440 ~

Dec 19 ~ Stories of the Winter Season ~ Theatre ‘on the spot’ from audience stories. $12-$15. 4:00 pm, Occidental Center for the Arts, 4008 Bohemian Hwy ~ 707-874-9392 ~


Celesta Farms ~ 3447 Celesta Ct, Sebastopol ~ 707-829-9352 ~

Davis Tree Farm ~ 3700 Vine Hill Rd, Sebastopol – 707-823-1544

Fisher Farms ~ 2870 Canfield Rd., Sebastopol ~ 707-823-4817 ~

Frosty Mountain ~ 3600 Mariola Rd, Sebastopol ~ 707-829-2351

Garlock Tree Farm ~ 2275 Bloomfield Rd, Sebastopol ~ 707-823-4307 ~

Grandma Buddy’s ~ 8575 Graton Rd, Sebastopol ~ 707-823-4547 ~

Graton Fire Assn. ~ (formerly Del Davis) 3750 Gravenstein Hwy N,
Graton ~ 707-823-7939

Hill Tree Farm ~ 100 Watertrough, Sebastopol ~ 707-829-2583

Larsen Tree Farm ~ 391 Marshall, Petaluma ~ 707-762- 6317 ~

Liberty Tree Farm ~ (formerly Wolf’s) 241 Liberty Rd, Petaluma ~ 707-490-6011 ~

Little Hills Tree Farm ~ 961 Chapman Ln, Petaluma ~ 707-763-4678 ~

M & M Ranch ~ 880 Austin Creek Road, Cazadero, 707-632-5602 Table-Top Live Trees $10 - $40 OPEN 91m to 9PM

Reindeer Ridge ~ 3500 Mariola Rd, Sebastopol ~ 707-829-1569 ~

Santa’s Trees ~ 11389 Barnett Valley Rd, Sebastopol ~ 707-823-6635

Spirit of Christmas ~ 3660 Gravenstein Hwy N, Sebastopol ~ 707-823-6751 ~

Sunshine Living Trees ~ 294 Palm Ave, Penngrove ~ 707-664-9335

Victorian Christmas Tree Ranch ~ 1220 Gravenstein Hwy N, Sebastopol ~
707-823-0831 ~

Wallinfarm ~ 840 Ferguson Rd, Sebastopol ~ 707-823-6973

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WINE BANTER: 2010 Vintage, Wine Road Tasting Tours: John Haggard

Let’s Reminisce
The Summer of 2010 seemed more like a flash in a miner’s pan. With cool days and cold nights, aggressive vineyard management was required in order to salvage the 2010 harvest which included dropping fruit, cutting canes and leaf pull to allow sunlight to reach the grape clusters. The 2010 vintage reminded me in many ways of the 2003 vintage – just as challenging and one vineyard manager described the winery crush pad as being more like “triage”. This is not to say that the 2010 vintage is a loss. I’m looking forward to touring several wine cellars February / March and tasting wines from the different AVA’s of Sonoma County.

Oftentimes, cool weather, such as the 2010 vintage bring about a less concentrated flavor, leaving red wine vintages with a slightly lower alcohol and possibly a sharper edge of red fruit characteristics, other times leading to a leaner, sometimes watery finish. For those of us who like a late harvest wine, this season could be seen as mostly a wash due to a lack of heat, especially later in the season. If late harvest wines are your forte, the 2009 vintage will certainly fit the bill.

Warm days and warm nights and a long picking season – especially the fall – which is what is needed to produce a great late harvest wine, was what we experienced in 2009, not in 2010. Back in 2005 when we had one of the longest picking seasons in a century – some extraordinary wines were produced across the board, and numerous great quality late harvests wines - if it’s any consolation, the 2009 vintages have been some of the finest I’ve ever tasted since 1987, and they’re just starting to be released.

The 2009’s Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio as well as a dozen other varietals have already hit the market. With only a sprinkling of 2009 reds on the market now, next year should be very exciting, given the appeal of the wines I’ve tasted to date. To get a head start on tasting both 2009’s and 2010’s, Sonoma County rolls out some special events in the Winter – take advantage of these dates:

19th Annual Winter Wineland
Winter can be a great time to experience Sonoma Wine Country. Over 100 wineries participate in Wine Road’s Winter Wineland with tastings of library wines, vertical tastings, food pairings and educational tours and a great opportunity to taste some of the 2009’s just released - with wineries participating from all of Sonoma’s appellations including Alexander Valley, Sonoma Valley Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys. The cost is $40 Weekend; $30 Sunday Only; $10 DD both days; prices rise $10 at door. For more information, visit:

33rd Annual Barrell Tasting
For those persons looking ahead and wanting to taste the 2010’s, plan a trip to Sonoma County in March in time to participate in Wine Roads Barrell Tasting March 4-6 and March 11-13. For more information, visit

On a sad note, I’d like to say “Thank You” to Tai Olesky, the owner of Mosaic Restaurant and all of his staff members for having cared for so many of the guests I’ve sent over the past years. It was with great sorrow that I received an email informing me that Monday, November 22nd would be their last day in business. It is not only a loss for Forestville, but Sonoma County.

And on a much lighter note, I’d like to congratulate Carlos, Sylvia and staff at the Applewood Inn for having garnered a “Star” from Michelin. With the Farmhouse, this now gives our Russian River two Michelin Rated Restaurants. For more information on the Applewood Inn, visit Please note the website for the Applewood Inn indicates the restaurant will be undergoing restoration during the month of January.

For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to drop into Boon Restaurant in Guerneville, I recommend a visit. Though small, they have put together an exceptional selection of wines by the glass or bottle which pair perfectly with their unique, simple and well-chosen menu.

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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Friday, December 3, 2010

Small Shops of Sonoma County Shopping Tour 2010

8th Annual Shopping Tour

By Vesta Copestakes
Welcome to my annual mission to inspire holiday shoppers to hit the roads in Sonoma County and explore small cities and small towns - out-of-the-way stores and businesses owned by local entrepreneurs.

I know - plenty of our local people work for large corporate stores. But the percentage of their hard-earned dollars that stays in our home is small. Our money needs to stay here to repair roads, pay for childrens' education, purchase support services like fire fighters, police and the small army of individuals it takes to maintain this place we call HOME!

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ASK ECOGIRL: Nurturing Holiday Green by Patricia Dines

Nurturing Authentic Holiday Green

Dear EcoGirl: I want to be eco-respectful this holiday season, but with so many companies claiming to be green, how do I choose products that are truly better for the earth? Signed, Confused

Dear Confused: Thank you for your great question. Yes, it’s been fascinating for me to watch over the years as green has been moved from the “wacky” fringes to the everyday mainstream.

On the one hand, it’s wonderful to see the increased participation that’s so essential to steer us away from destruction. However, this popularity has also attracted folks who slap on fake green façades and make it confusing for us to know how to really make a difference.

So here are some suggested ways you can take actions that really do serve our beautiful and precious earth, this holiday season and all year ’round.

How to Choose Truly Earth-Friendly Products
1) Look for products and services that indicate the specific green criteria they meet, with evidence. Look under the surface. Don’t just accept unsupported vagaries such as a nature scene on a label or the word “earth” in a brand name.
2) Learn the definitions of common eco-words, to know what they mean and don’t mean. Some words have strong legal definitions, such as “organic,” while others have no definition in law, such as “green” and “sustainable,” and thus mean different things to different people. Identify the criteria that are most important to you. You can learn more at
3) Recognize that no company or product in our modern world is completely ecological, because our culture is so complex and interwoven. Instead, items can be just more or less green, based on specific measures.
4) Go beyond buying replacement green products to greening your activities. For example, you might start by buying recycled paper towels, then later swap to reusable dish towels that avoid the waste of disposables

Ideas for Greening Your Holidays
• Look for authentically eco-gifts, including those that are energy-efficient, minimally-packaged, locally-made, sustainably-harvested, less-toxic, natural, organic, fair-trade, “previously-owned,” recycled, and recyclable. 

• Trim your giftee’s everyday eco-footprint and expenses. For instance, they might appreciate a refillable Thermos for coffee or tea (to replace Styrofoam cups); a battery charger and rechargeable batteries (to save the cost of new batteries and reduce toxic waste); cloth napkins (instead of paper ones); or a pretty cloth grocery bag (the best answer to the paper-or-plastic debate!).

• Support local organic food and wine, as gifts and at your events. This nurtures both our local eco-allies and healthier local ecosystems. Find leads at

• Buy less-toxic toys. See PIRG’s “Trouble In Toyland” toy safety survey, plus easy ways you can help keep toxics out of toys, at Also, speak up for the long-needed action finally being taken to reform our key federal toxics law, TSCA, at

• Avoid cheap throwaway items. They’re inexpensive to buy because of our short-sighted economic system, but costly to the earth in resources extracted, energy used, and landfill space.

• Discard responsibly.
Setup an easy system for guests to help recycle holiday trash. Also, recycle your old techno-toys, to keep toxics out of landfills and ecosystems. More recycling information is at

• Share your love of nature with others. Take nature walks and watch nature videos to learn about and be inspired by the beauty and vitality that are the foundation supporting all life on earth.

Finding Out More

You can explore more ideas for showing your affection for Mother Earth on my website, including past columns that can help you buy green on a budget, choose truly eco-gifts, reduce holiday waste, and savor eco-wine and bubbly.

I also invite you to give folks my “insanely useful” Ask EcoGirl booklets, titled Healthier Housekeeping and Detoxing Your Life. They’re an easy, affordable way to inform and nurture your loved ones. Quantity discounts are available, and all proceeds support my eco-work.

So I hope you find this information helpful, and that everyone has the very happiest of holiday seasons!

Become an Ask EcoGirl Facebook fan to show your support and receive my ongoing eco-information. See


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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sonoma County Restaurant: Off the Track, Forestville

The holidays are upon us and this newspaper is filled with wonderful suggestions of locally owned and operated stores to find quality and unique gifts for family and friends this season. Maybe you love to shop or it may be your worst nightmare, but as long as you are out why not consider taking time to connect with a friend or just take time for yourself to relax over a sandwich or piece of pie and cup of coffee. There are many places I could recommend for a quiet lunch and a chance to go over your shopping list to make sure you didn’t forget anything.

I like to shop in the local businesses in the west part of the county, not only for the great selection of gifts, but for the availability of good lunch spots, from Bodega Bay to Sebastopol, from Healdsburg to Petaluma. If you check the Gazette Web site you will find some of the places I would recommend on the list of Restaurant Reviews. And here is a new one.

OFF THE TRACK CAFÉ in Forestville is a family restaurant. Alicia Schroeder is the one who will most often greet you when you walk in the front door. However, her brother, Aaron Keyser, may be on duty too. The pies are made by Alicia’s mother, Eileen Keyser, along with her delicious cookies (she won 1st place for her chocolate chip cookies at the Harvest Fair this year).

When the Schroeder’s (Alicia and her husband Ryan) opened this restaurant they decided to name it in honor of Ryan’s father who, in the past, owned a restaurant by this name in southern California. Once the name was selected the family began to do some research about the history of the railroad in Forestville. As a result they have decorated the restaurant accordingly.

There is a large mural done by Jonathan Solter (the artist who painted the mural at Andy’s Market) on one wall depicting railroad scenes, a large photo of a train that fell off the track in 1905 in Cazadero, other photos from the Historical Society show scenes from Forestville in the early 1900s, and a window that connects the front part of the train — ah — er restaurant with the lounge in the back looks like a ticket window. (See picture of Alicia). A toy train on the counter has about 5 cars and the engine — off the track, of course. Alicia says people who come in tend to put the train back on the track — come to think of it, I have done that myself.

Off The Track Café is open Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. They have a large selection of coffee drinks and I stop often for my cappuccino. Although I don’t like flavored coffee of any kind I tried the Pumpkin latté last week and it was really good. They serve baked goods and various pastries that are made daily. They have Breakfast Burritos served with home made salsa: fire roasted paseo chilies, potatoes, eggs and mozzarella; sausage, eggs, potato, cheese and grilled scallions; or bacon, eggs, potato, and white cheddar for $5.50.

A selection of Paninis served with salad includes: Pastrami and white cheddar cheese with sauerkraut and sweet grain mustard; Lemon rosemary chicken with parmesan cheese and roasted garlic aioli; or Sausage with white cheddar cheese, balsamic roasted peppers and caramelized onions for $7.50 and an eggplant, goat cheese and tomato panini for $6.50.

There is a kids menu for $3.50. You can also get lox and bagels $4.50, fruit cups, $3.00 or a slice of fresh cake $2.50 or pie $3.50. There are soft drinks, teas, and Gelato to finish off your lunch.

This restaurant is family friendly. There is Wi Fi so you can check your email on your laptop or there are two couches where you can just relax and read the paper or play chess on the coffee table. The address is 6544 Front Street in Forestville and the phone number is 887-1400.


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Coverdale Community Column - December 2010

Unchained: Cover to Cover Books
Blame it on doppelganger chains, discounters, online shopping and, lately, ebooks. The hard fact is that twenty years ago the U.S.A. had about 5000 independent bookstores. Today? Maybe 1500.

Not good news for a biblioholic, like me, who never saw a book she did not crave to hold, read and own. (Paperback romances excepted!) 

So, although I might visit a chain, shop online, download and toy with the idea of Kindle, my bias is for real books sold in real bookstores by real book people. That’s why I chatted recently with Susie Hare, owner of Cover To Cover (C to C) books, about the challenges and joys of being of an “indie” bookseller in the 21st century.

A liberal arts major at Sonoma State focused on Elementary Ed., Susie became active in the respected family business, Growers Supply in Geyserville, where they provide “what people need”. About 8 years ago, noting that Cloverdale lacked a bookstore, she decided to open Cover To Cover to provide “what people want” and, at the same time, make a contribution to our community’s life and economy. It meant getting to know an entirely different customer base as well as a complex, constantly changing business.

After a stay on 1st Street, moving to the popular Antiques and Uniques building on So. Cloverdale Blvd. provided increased contact with downtown shoppers including regional and out of state tourists while being directly opposite the Underground Café, with its great coffee and healthy menu, created a tempting combo: a good read with a good feed!
C To C is an attractive, inviting space with cheerful colors and head-high open bookshelves, comfy seating and a variety of gift ideas including (hint to my family and friends): games; puzzles; music; bookends; soaps; candles; greeting cards and more. Add an owner blessed with a rare instinct for knowing when to chat and when to leave you to yourself and it all makes for relaxed browsing and hassle-free buying.

Susie is a “huge reader” whose late mother-in-law, Pat Hare’s, work on behalf of our library resulted in its community room being named in her honor. Oddly enough, being a bookseller means less time to read at will or at random due to all the “sampling” time required to keep up with new releases so she can knowledgeably talk books with customers, recommend titles for the whole family and recognize the value of recommendations received.

Unlike chains, C to C doesn’t lease its prime display space for piles of one or two titles in an attempt to tell you what to read. Rather, you find a range of genres, titles, authors (including locals who have done signings there) and even gently used books. The choice is yours because Susie knows her customers are “indies”, too!

Don’t believe the rumor that youth isn’t reading traditional books. Susie sells lots of kid and teen lit., including for book reports and papers. Many young people love to recycle so used books could become a bigger part of C to C’s inventory. Donated books are sold to benefit our library, too. Any chain do that?
What’s popular these days? Escapism! As Susie observed, many of us welcome a chance “to go into someone else’s life for a while” so mysteries are big and, for teens, it’s still vampires.

Nimbler and more responsive than chains or online retailers, C to C adapts quickly as customers’ tastes and needs change. For example, Susie’s looking into offering ebooks at competitive prices while customer service remains both sincere and efficient. No email hell or “Please hold” here.
Prices? Surprise! C To C can beat chains and onlines. Susie’s supplier is one of U.S. leaders. As a result, the myth of higher costs is dispelled as she explains how buying is now simplified, electronic and global. To gain a price advantage, C To C’s orders are bundled with others. On a special order, C To C passes on savings from free shipping and you’ll likely receive it in 3 days.

Story time’s up! To learn the rest visit Susie in person at Cover To Cover; 124 No. Cloverdale Blvd.; Tues.-Fri. 10-6; Sat. 10-5; 707-894-4556.


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Sebastopol Community Column - December 2010

Holiday Giving
By Sarah Gurney
Gift giving is going to be different this holiday season. People have less money to spend and people seem to want less. I have some suggestions for holiday shoppers that will simplify the rituals of gift exchange.

Look for smaller items. Rather than the big toy set – with roadways, buildings, and vehicles – find a single car and imbue it with memories of playing together.

Consider how long-lasting a gift might be. Some folks enjoy necessities or consumables – gifts that are experienced and used and don’t gather dust on the shelf – artisan bread or soap or home-made granola. Or search for a gift that is durable and long-lasting…a 10-20-or-30-year lifespan? Family photos in a special frame? A wool muffler?

Purchases don’t have to be new items.
Visit our many “thrift” stores and find your gift in another person’s give-aways - a warm jacket, a flower vase, work shirts, a kitchen appliance. Reuse, recycle, restore.

If you have time and can plan ahead, you could make your gifts by hand. Creativity and originality make these gifts life-time treasures. A potholder, a trivet made from used wine corks, a wand of lavender?

Time itself is a gift. Seek out friends and enjoy a potluck meal or play [ukulele] music together. Chat with an elder, holding hands.

Volunteer yourself in service to an organization whose goals matter to you. The opportunities are boundless – from practical tasks, like stocking food pantry shelves or packing delivery boxes to singing in patient-care facilities.

Some of us may be short on free time and choose to give money to our favorite non-profit organizations that provide vital services. No gift is too small; each contribution adds support.

Keep in mind that locally produced purchases from a locally owned business or contributions to a local organization support a person – not a corporation – who could be a friend, a neighbor, or a family trying to get through these difficult times. Give a gift to your community.

Millers Candy Closes
By Robert Bialkin
It is with a heavy heart that Millers Candy Emporium in Sebastopol has now closed. Millers was a wonderland of candy, sweets, and toys for anyone young at heart. Millers wasn’t just a candy store, but a place to have fantastic birthdays or spend the afternoon roaming through miles of classic or modern candies. This place was magical. The nastalgic feel was certainly one of Millers’ defining features.

At first it appeared that holiday shoppers and stocking-stuffers in Sebastopol would have to settle for Rite Aid to assist Santa in providing children with candy for stockings and ginger bread house construction materials. However, when one door closes another one opens. Upon my return home from a trip I noticed the store was closing. I immediately started working with Millers to open another candy store and ensure Sebastopol was not without a sweet shop this holiday season.

I am happy to announce that we have expanded Honeymoon Frozen Yogurt and opened a delightful candy store right next door to the yogurt shop at 7106 Bodega Avenue in Sebastopol. We will be working with Millers to ensure the shop continues to carry some of the locals’ favorite candies.

We will be stocking the shop based on your requests and suggestions in order to create a store that truly reflects the tastes of Sebastopol. Please stop by or call (707) 829-YUMM. We realize we can never be as awesome and grand as Miller’s, but what we lack in size we hope to make up for in sweets!

Honeymoon Sweet Shop will continue to serve Millers’ incredible homemade fudge, which can also be purchased online at if you still have a fudge coupon. And don’t worry if you have an unused Miller’s gift certificate, as they would be happy to redeem it. Simply call (707) 829-9040.

The Miller’s team would like everyone to know that it was a great honor to serve the patrons of Sebastopol. They thank you for your letters of support, and will miss you all!


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Petaluma Community Column - December 2010

We all know Petaluma loves to dress herself up for holidays. Halloween was a HOOT and now comes The City of Lights Driving Tour! From Dec 3rd to December 27th the grand dames of Victorian Petaluma apply their Christmas make-up and many businesses, including Heritage Salvage, compete for Best Of! Maps are available in the Petaluma Post, the Marin Independent Journal, the Petaluma Visitor Center and online.

Come join our flirtatious city and light up your holiday! . . . And yet another example of Petaluma putting herself on display, even though the city charged $12K, many great contributors helped keep another Petaluma institution alive. I was warmed by the attendance and feeling at the Veterans Day Parade. Although I do not agree with war as a means to settle disputes, I do honor those who believe in their mission enough to put their life on the line for their country.

Petaluma has so many magnificent attributes – the architecture, its gateway to wine country, its progressive artist community with its agricultural roots and her penchant for dressing herself up – but there is a singular deep rooted ability to give which makes our community so rich. This community gives. Our recent fundraiser for Danny Cox was a case in point. This town just keeps on giving.

One of the things that make Petaluma such a special place to live is the soft infrastructure that is always there for people in need. When you walk the streets of Petaluma at night in safety and brag about what a wonderful feeling this town has, remember why that is. COTS is the Committee on the Shelterless, Breaking the Cycle of Homelessness, including the Petaluma Kitchen.

Petaluma Bounty, Healthy Food for Everyone. 

The Bounty is in need of your help; they have distributed 100’s of thousands of pounds of food but are struggling with budget.

Petaluma People Services Center
is dedicated to improving the social and economic health of our community by providing programs that strengthen the dignity and self-sufficiency of the individual. 

Just as much as the old Victorians, The Petaluma Downtown Association, the great clubs, art programs, galleries and restaurants enhance this community, it is these vibrant organizations that cover the Bottom Line.

Rather than buying a plastic toy made in China from a big box store, there are two ways that really help your community, Follow Vesta’s Shopping Tour and buy locally made gifts from locally owned stores, or consider donating some moola to the organizations that help the needy in your community!

Many blessings to you all!
Smile on your neighbor; do a good turn . . . Peace!


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Bodega Community Column - December 2010

Things sure do come and go. Summer finally came in what, mid-November? And now winter’s back. My poor little fruit trees do not know what to do. They were blooming in October.

Food-wise, our new ice cream store came and went, too. I had not even gotten through all of the flavors. Maybe it was just too late in the year for ice cream. They closed before the week of Indian summer even hit. The kids are sad, but the free-for-all ice cream was a real bonanza!

I certainly hope that the two new chefs at the Casino stay awhile – at least until I can get through their menus. Though of course we greatly miss the chefs gone by, Dominique Rooney (Tuesday through Friday) and Mark Malicki (Saturday through Monday) are capturing our hearts through our stomachs. It’s looking like Bodega is actually vying for position on the map of culinary destinations.

Dominique (alleged granddaughter of Micky) hails from Sugo Trattoria in Petaluma, and Mark was the owner/chef of St. Rose. They’re using locally grown ingredients and everything. Prices are amazingly reasonable for the sophisticated offerings they are serving up. We do hope Steve will get back on his feet and bring back his pizza, though. Good old-fashioned pizza is important to a town like ours. And we are wishing Mateo well at the Valley Ford Fish Bank. I better check that out for my next report.

OK, it’s not ALL about food. I think it’s pretty exciting that 16 of our local Artisans Co-op artists will be showing their work at the Gualala Arts Center. The opening reception is December 4 from 4-6 p.m., and the show will run through January 2, 2011. The line up is spectacular with weaving, sculptures, baskets, photographs, knitted finery, jewelry, gourds, art glass, pottery, water colors and pen and ink drawings.

I just have to plug one more event, because it will support our new 4-H Club – the Sea Squids, for one reason among many. The African International Music Festival will take place on Sunday, December 5 from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Sebastopol Veterans Memorial Hall on High Street. Three international aid organizations have joined together to put on an incredible multi-cultural family event featuring performances by a great variety of international bands, delicious ethnic food, a silent auction and a holiday gift bazaar.

The bazaar will offer items made by 10 local organizations, including the above-mentioned Sea Squids. If you buy your tickets from Marilyn Collins or myself (478-6107 or 876-3093), four-fifths of the price of admission ($15) will go to our fledgling club. The whole event is set up to support and connect kids and groups from around the world, and promises to be a wonderful evening. For additional information contact Please go!

Holy Smoke!
It is old news by now, but I just have to take some space to thank all the firefighters from far and wide who saved Bodega on September 25. A lot of commotion and a lot of emotion was stirred up by that fire. At first we thought maybe someone had burned the bacon at Bodega Land Trust’s BLTs for BLT fundraiser. I guess a wild fire heading towards town adequately justified the low turn out. But what a blessed turn of fate that there was ample good food ready to feed the firefighters instead. I remain a firm believer in silver linings. Bodega really must be magically protected
Our hearts and thoughts remain focused on Ben Hakala who was seriously hurt in the fire. His brother Dolan reports that he is on the mend. The amazing efforts to raise money for Ben by fellow fire fighters and friends is yet another example of the silver lining of crisis.

I have to admit that it was only then, that I finally got what they mean about heroes. It’s not like in the movies. It’s just your neighbors, in sooty slickers, looking a little tired and maybe a little scared – working to save your town – for nothing. Eat your pancakes and buy more bricks everyone! We need those guys! And we still need to finish that firehouse.


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