All the Sonoma County victims who died in the October fire are commemorated at Robert Starkey's memorial table at Regional Park.
Intrepid photographer Robert Starkey met his best friend, an elderly McNab Border Collie named Zoe, when he moved to Oakmont. A friend from San Francisco couldn't keep the dog anymore, so he brought her up to stay with Starkey, and Zoe was able to spend her last years with him until she died in 2014. Her moniker was “Zoe the Happy Dog,” and she was. “That was the worst death I ever experienced in my life,” Starkey recalled. His grief led him to sponsor a memorial picnic table at the Sonoma County Regional Park, one of their favorite walking spots. Soon, other people began placing small memorial rocks with the names of their perished pets on the table. A tradition of collecting the stones and clearing the table on Memorial Day brought nearly 400 people there in 2017. So it was only natural that Starkey thought to expand the memorial to include everyone who died in the October fires in Sonoma County. It's a more somber table now, but how fitting to have this memorial in the Regional Park, which burned so badly, but has reopened and is already starting to regenerate. Visit Zoe, the Happy Dog on Facebook, and Starkey at www.facebook.com/robertwstarkeyphotographer/.
As Bonney Philbin was evacuated from the fires, and didn't know if her Adobe Canyon Road house was still standing or not, for some reason she thought about her Christmas ornaments, and what a blow it would be to lose them. Bonney said, “40 years of a few ornaments a year, some from my parents, some my kids had made in kindergarten, seemed an emotional loss that, fortunately, I did not experience, but others did.” From that thought, she came up with a concrete way to give back. With help from her daughter-in-law, Susan Philbin, she began amassing lights and ornaments, some from friends near and far, some from a cousin in New Orleans who went through Hurricane Katrina, some from the San Francisco Flower Mart, and best of all, homemade ornaments from Mrs. Casey's and Mrs. Jimenez's kindergarten classes at Grant Elementary School, Bonney's grandchildren's school. Pronzini's Christmas Trees in Petaluma donated 12 fresh-cut trees, and Susan and Bonney put together packages of trees, lights and ornaments which they delivered to Kenwood families who lost their homes and are now dispersed throughout the county. Bonney said she wished they could have given trees to more people. “The people I met were so wonderful and made my Christmas.”
Over the past few weekends, a hearty group of close to 100 volunteers armed with rakes, shovels, and 35,000 daffodil bulbs embarked on a huge project to light up the Trinity Oaks area in Glen Ellen that was especially hard hit by the wildfires - just wait a month or so.
Mini-excavators (thanks to Geary Construction and Sonoma Valley Landscape) were used to prep the planting sites, which covered the whole stretch of Dunbar Road (plus side streets), from Sonoma Highway to the Arnold Drive intersection. Some people bought bags of bulbs at discounted prices from Sonoma Mission Gardens and Swede's Feeds. Another source was Bill the Bulb Baron in Moss Landing. There was also essential assistance from Quarryhill Botanical Garden, which is accepting donations to cover the costs of thousands of bulbs.
The next step is to plant wildflower seeds in the area, to attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. If you want to help with this next part of the Dunbar Blooming Project, contact Anna Pope at email@example.com. And stay tuned!
There's a new priest in town. The Rev. Doyle Dietz Allen is the new Rector of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church and she's just arrived here from Tucson. Priest Doyle accepted the offer at the end of September, and despite, or maybe because of the horrific fires we experienced, she couldn't wait to get out here and get to work. She writes, “My husband Tom and I are so thrilled to be here in Sonoma County. I am honored to serve such a loving parish, and we look forward to getting to know many of you in this community. Tom and I most recently come from Tucson, Arizona, where I served at St. Alban's Episcopal Church. We come with Kita, our longhaired, blue-eyed Siberian Husky puppy. She loves it here as much as we do! This area has so much to offer (the food is superb and the scenery is beautiful!) We look forward to sharing it with you. Please stop by to get acquainted.”
John and Sherry Magers are back from a Mediterranean cruise to celebrate their 50th Anniversary on Aug. 12. They visited Venice, Croatia (Split and Dubrovnik), Montenegro, Athens, and the island of Santorini, along with four other Greek Islands. Sherry said, “We were so lucky to have beautiful sunny weather everyday and no crowds.” Congratulations, John and Sherry!
That's all I have room for. Don't forget that we do NOT publish a January 1st issue of the paper, so the next time we chat will be Jan. 15. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year!
And remember, if you have an item for Village Chat, you can email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 833-5155 and chat me up! -AQP