Entries tagged with “Toby’s Feed Barn”.


Hello again. After posting on this blog every week for 10 years, I abruptly stopped without explanation 14 months ago. Well, I’m back. Here’s what happened.

Keeping me away had been some damnable eye problems: first, temporal arteritis (an inflammation of the artery through my temples that feeds blood to my eyes); second, botched cataract surgery on my left eye.

The temporal arteritis began with an extreme headache in my scalp that ultimately required half a day in Kaiser’s emergency room. I was prescribed a lengthy — perhaps too lengthy — regimen of Prednisone (a steroid). It stopped the pain and prevented me from going blind, but some of its side effects are still with me. My balance standing and walking is not what it should be.

The botched surgery, which occurred in January, is also continuing to take its toll. I should have been forewarned when the surgeon often seemed impatient discussing the operation in advance. During the surgery, she nicked the inside of my left eyeball, causing the lens to start falling out.

The result was double vision and poor focus. I’ve now received two more operations from another surgeon to repair the damage. The lens has been stitched onto the eye’s retina, and my vision is improving. I won’t need another operation if the progress continues, but that won’t be determined for sure until November.

In any case, as a result of my Prednisone problems and damaged left eye, I needed some R&R and stopped posting.

A secondary problem with the cataract surgery was to postpone dental surgery that was glaringly needed as a result of breaking off two front teeth last December. Because of the eye surgeon’s concern that the dental surgeon’s painkillers could interfere with her cutting into my eyeball, I had to spend half a year without two prominent teeth.

In an unsuccessful effort to hide the gaps, I began wearing my moustache extra long. Finally, after the last eye operation, I was able to get my dental surgery, which, in turn, meant I could resume trimming my moustache back and no longer feel slightly self-conscious whenever I smiled in public.

Dave Mitchell at the No-Name Bar in Sausalito

The No Name Bar in Sausalito is an unusually friendly place, and now that my moustache and teeth are fixed, I can again openly enjoy the Michael Aragon Quartet. (Photo by David Fischer)

Like many people in frustrating circumstances, I’ve dealt with my woes by hitting the bars. I was already going to the No Name Bar in Sausalito almost every Friday night to mingle with Bay Area illuminati and listen to great jazz. As it happens, I’m a fan of the Michael Aragon Quartet, which has performed at the No Name virtually every Friday for 33 years.

The No Name has a patio out back where there’s frequently a chess match, and smoking is permitted. People mingle easily as if they were all at a cocktail party. My usual “cocktail” at the party, by the way, is an Irish coffee.

Sarah Burke, server, and J.J. Miller, the barkeep, at the No Name.

I don’t know if it’s coincidence or merely that I like coffee, but the other bar where I hang out is Toby’s Coffee Bar in Point Reyes Station. Most days in early afternoon, I sit at an outdoor table reading the morning Chronicle, drinking a mocha, and chatting with friends as they walk in and out of the post office next door.

Toby's coffee bar in Point Reyes

Reading The San Francisco Chronicle while getting a tan at Toby’s Coffee Bar. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

It’s a cheerful spot, and I spend enough time there that a few townspeople have started to refer to my table as my “office.” Were I consuming booze instead of coffee, by now I’d be one of the town toss-pots (the term at the end of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that Shakespeare uses for sots).

Barista Jenna Rempel of Inverness at Toby’s Coffee Bar.

Barista Jenna Rempel of Inverness at Toby’s Coffee Bar.

Because I’m now living life in the slow lane, I’m able to resume blogging, but it remains to be seen whether I’ll be able to do so every single week as in the past. At least for the moment, I have enough material on hand to keep going for a while. So goodnight for now. It’s good to see y’all again.

One of Point Reyes Station’s best-loved merchants, Chris Giacomini, proprietor of Toby’s Feed Barn, suffered serious injuries Tuesday, March 31, when he fell from a loft in the building.

Chris (foreground) frequently lets the Feed Barn be used for fundraisers and other community events. Here he and a throng of townspeople clap as they watch President Barack Obama’s 2008 inaugural address on a large-screen television in the building.

Chris fell about 20 feet, landing on the cement floor, shattering a wrist and ankle, as well as receiving major bruises. He’s already had surgery and is scheduled for more this coming week, but he is recovering, according to his family and staff. Get well cards can be dropped off at Toby’s.

•            •            •

New business.

Dan Thompson, owner of Perry’s Inverness Park Grocery and Deli, last Thursday opened a bistro called Gather on the east side of the store in a room created from a onetime railroad car.

From 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, Gather serves dinner featuring organic meat and vegetables, small-batch wines, unique beer, sours and cider. Lynn and I had dinner there Sunday. She ordered chicken with kale, mashed potatoes, and hush puppies. I ordered potato cakes with sauteed greens, caramelized baby carrots, mushroom ragout, and créme fraiche.

What we got was Parisian-style haute cuisine with a down-home presentation. We shared a bottle of hard cider, which came with canning jars for drinking glasses. Lynn and I loved our dinners, but the portions were so large we couldn’t finish them and we brought quite a bit home.

The view of the Giacomini Marsh as seen from Gather. Throughout the day, the bistro is also a fun place to have espressos and to eat sandwiches, salads, etc. from the deli.

At the moment, the walls are adorned with nature photography by local resident Daniel Dietrich.

Here’s some history of the place. In the 1920s, Michael and Filomina Lucchesi Alberigi “bought about five acres on the marsh side of Inverness Park and moved into a large home there,” the Jack Mason Museum publication Under the Gables reported two years ago. “They built barns behind the house. They grew vegetables and eventually used a small house next to their home as a general store. Later it also had a small café and became the social hub of the village.”

In 1949, the Alberigi family leased the old store to Annie and Victor Turkan to run while the Turkans built a larger store across the street. “After the Turkans retired, their daughter Wilma Van Peer — who lived next door in what is now Spirit Matters and had the first television set in Inverness Park — ran it,” Under the Gables notes.

Waving Bear, one of Daniel Dietrich’s photos currently on display in Gather.

In the 1960s, Vern and Diane Mendenhall bought the grocery and expanded it. The bistro part of the building, which is an old railway car, was added as a diner. The enterprise went through two more ownerships before Dan bought it more than 30 years ago.

In the early 1970s, the railroad car section housed a pizzeria before becoming a succession of bakeries under various names and owners. Under the name Foggy Mountain Bakery, it was run by Mountain Girl (Jerry Garcia’s first wife) along with Kate Gatov and Irene Keener. Later Station House Café founder Pat Healy owned it for a brief time, as Under the Gables notes. It was also Knave of Hearts Bakery run by Matthew and Robin Prebluda; Debra’s French Bakery (Debra had been a partner of Brigit Devlin in starting the Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes Station); and more recently the Busy Bee Bakery.

•            •            •

Mainstreet Moms at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, will present an informational evening led by historian Dewey Livingston regarding Caltrans’ proposal to replace the Green Bridge in Point Reyes Station. The meeting will be in the old gym at West Marin School.

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A couple from England misjudged a turn at Highway 1 and the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road at approximately 3 p.m. Monday, and their motorcycle ran off the highway. The Harley Davidson traveled a short distance in a roadside ditch, careened over a driveway’s culvert and back into the ditch where it knocked down a 25 mph sign.

Highway Patrol officer Will Thompson (pictured) said there was no evidence the motorcycle had been speeding. Neither the driver, Michael Hacker, 55, of Kensington, Ashford, in the UK, nor his passenger, Kay Hardie, 53, was injured although their rental motorcycle was damaged, and their trip to Mendocino was interrupted.

A guy is driving through Chileno Valley when he sees a sign in front of a ranch house: “Talking Dog For Sale.” He rings the bell. The owner answers and tells him the dog is in the backyard.

The guy goes into the backyard and sees a nice looking Labrador retriever sitting there. “You talk?” he asks. “Yep,” the Lab replies. After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk, he says “So, what’s your story?”

The Lab looks up and says, “Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA. In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country. I was able to sit among spies and world leaders because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping.

“I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running. But jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn’t getting any younger, so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals.

“I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I’m just retired.”

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog. “Ten dollars,” the rancher says. “Ten dollars!” the guy exclaims. “This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?”

“Because he’s a liar,” the rancher replies. “He never did any of that crap.”

More canine lore. Even after the brick Grandi Building in Point Reyes Station was reinforced a few decades ago by putting a steel frame inside the building, some concern remained that bricks would pop out of the wall during a major earthquake. That resulted in a warning being painted on the building, but within weeks, pranksters changed “PARKING” to “BARKING.” Nowadays motorists routinely ignore it. This year, the vacant building will turn 100.

Earthquakes are not the only threats to bricks in Point Reyes Station. Here a Western gray squirrel gnaws on a brick outside of Mitchell cabin. Why? “Because they have rootless teeth that keep growing, they must gnaw continuously to wear them down,” explains the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. “Otherwise they would be unable to close their mouths and their teeth would continue to grow and eventually prevent them from feeding.” — Photo by Lynn Axelrod

Lynn and I were enjoying a couple of mocha coffees at Toby’s Coffee Bar Sunday, as we often do, when she noticed this sign on the front of the building. I had no idea what “orse” means, so I looked it up. Turns out its most common meaning in British English is “not comparable.” In short, there’s no stable that can compare with Five Brooks.

Further down the main street I spotted this small sticker on a steel beam that’s part of the Palace Market’s external frame. Chu is a Chinese surname, but that doesn’t explain the sign. I was laughing at it when a woman walked past, read the sign, and with a laugh remarked, “Well, it’s not me.”

A hummingbird flew into Toby’s Feed Barn Sunday and apparently lost its way among the skylights high overhead. There would be no practical way to get to it or catch it, so I’m just hoping it finds its way out soon.

More avian mishaps. Two red-winged blackbirds with injured legs have begun showing up at Mitchell cabin. Neither Lynn nor I could figure out what happened to them, so Lynn asked Dave DeSante, president of the Institute for Bird Populations in Point Reyes Station. His only guess was that they’d gotten their legs tangled in something unknown. So far, at least, they’re surviving. — Photo by Lynn Axelrod

•        •        •

A passenger in a taxi leaned over to ask the driver a question and gently tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention. The driver screamed, lost control of the cab, nearly hit a bus, drove up over the curb and stopped just inches from a large, plate-glass window.

For a few moments everything was silent in the cab. Then, the shaking driver asked, “Are you OK? I’m so sorry, but you scared the daylights out of me.” The badly shaken passenger apologized to the driver and said, “I didn’t realize that a mere tap on the shoulder would startle someone so badly.”

The driver replied, “No, no, I’m the one who is sorry. It’s entirely my fault.
Today is my very first day driving a cab. I’ve been driving a hearse for 25 years.”

Despite a drizzle that at times became a downpour, crowds turned out Friday evening in Point Reyes Station to celebrate the Yuletide.

It was a town-wide celebration: a Path of Lights on the main street, a Holiday Crafts Fair in the Dance Palace, a party with live music at Point Reyes Surf Shop, and a Christmas party including Santa Claus and carolers in Toby’s Feed Barn.

West Marin Senior Services sponsored a Lights of Life tree-lighting ceremony to honor loved ones who have  passed away. The pine, which grows in the median between the Wells Fargo Bank and the Palace Market parking lots, each year takes on added significance as the town Christmas tree.

The Path of Lights is symbolized by a line of luminaria along the main street, and the luminaria unfortunately suffered from the wet weather. Luminaria, of course, are small lanterns consisting of candles standing in sand inside a paper bag. It took only a couple of downpours for the splash to extinguish several lights.

The crowd outside Wells Fargo Bank.

Strumming her guitar, Harmony Grisman again this year led a crowd in singing songs of the Yuletide.

The 44th annual Holiday Crafts Fair in the Dance Palace.

The obvious skill in the work of clay artist Molly Prier of Inverness inspired praise from fair-goers.

Dusty Rose Designs brightened a corner of the Dance Palace with tie-dye-style clothing.

Eden Clearbrook from the Garden of Eden sold herbal elixirs.

Ana Maria Ramirez (center) and Lourdes Romo sold handmade clothing and accessories.

The annual Christmas party in Toby’s Feed Barn.

Santa Claus spent the evening posing with families who wanted their kids photographed with him. Meanwhile, the line of parents and their children waiting to be photographed at times reached 15 to 20 feet long.

West Marin singer, composer, musician Tim Weed here performs ‘Oh Holy Night’ for the crowd in Toby’s. Earlier in the evening, the Common Voice Choir led caroling in Toby’s.

Part of what made the evening so enjoyable was its being so homespun: the crafts, the music, and the food. When I saw a young mother with a baby on her lap sitting on a bale of hay in the Feed Barn, my first thought was, “Away in a manger….”

Point Reyes Station today was unusually busy even for a Sunday. The firehouse was the scene of the 27th annual Pancake Breakfast and Benefit for the Point Reyes Station Disaster Council while Toby’s Feed Barn was the scene of the annual Papermill Creek Children’s Corner Carnival and Chef Off.

It almost looked like there was a fire at the Point Reyes Station firehouse Sunday morning. All the engines were out on the street, and smoke from a fire-extinguisher demonstration was billowing nearby.

Fire engines are moved out of the firehouse every year to give people a place to eat. The breakfast was again organized by Larry Thompson, a county fire department engineer and paramedic.

Inverness Volunteer Fire Department helped Marin County firefighters staff the fundraiser. Here Inverness firefighter Burton Eubank serves pancakes and sausages while Inverness VFD Chief Jim Fox flips a pancake.

Lynn Axelrod, the Point Reyes Station Disaster Council coordinator, sells raffle tickets at the pancake breakfast.

Smokey the Bear gives a thumbs up as sales of raffle tickets and pancakes, along with donations, bring in $9,635  for the Point Reyes Station Disaster Council.

A firefighter demonstrates cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at the entrance to the firehouse.

Children got a kick out of being hoisted in a rescue basket operated by a member of the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team.

Other kids had fun pretending to operate jet boats belonging to the Search and Rescue Team.

Youngsters line up for a ride around Point Reyes Station in a fire engine. “Adults can ride too,” one firefighter told me, but I wasn’t about to take up some of the limited seating.

Only four blocks from the firehouse, The Papermill Creek Children’s Corner Carnival, a benefit for the preschool, began just before the pancake breakfast ended. Here Carolyn Placente of Point Reyes Station (left), chair of the preschool’s board of directors, handles the cashbox. Her kids, Dylan and Cherise, graduated from the preschool and now attend Inverness School.

The Papermill Creek Children’s Corner Carnival offered a variety of attractions, ranging from gourmet food to pony rides to live music to archery from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday in front of Toby’s Feed Barn.

Six professional chefs from West Marin donated their time and skills for the fundraiser, said food organizer Leslie Durkee. They were: August Temer, the Sand Dollar in Stinson Beach; Shannon Gregory, the Marshall Store; Jennifer Lutrell, The Fork at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company; Matt Elias, Saltwater Oyster Depot in Inverness; Mary Margaret Stewart, the Siren Canteen in Stinson Beach; and Ed Vigil, Perry’s Deli in Inverness Park.

Selling pastries.

Five Brooks Stables in the Olema Valley provided pony rides as part of the fundraiser.

At a small petting zoo in the Feed Barn’s parking lot, two calves relax oblivious to a youngster rushing by.

With encouragement from Valerie Saenz, who ran the “Eyeball Toss,” youngsters try to get a golf ball to land in a vaguely skull-shaped target made of plastic cups.

Inside Toby’s, numerous little girls were eager to have their faces painted.

Kids tested their archery skills under the guidance of Richard Saenz of San Quentin. Richard is an instructor in the prison machine shop and also does contract work for NASA.

Without question, the physically largest attraction for kids inside the Feed Barn was a maze formed from bales of hay. It took some of the youngsters awhile to find their way out of the maze, and because of all the activities in town, it took some of their parents awhile to find their way out of Point Reyes Station.

Nor was Point Reyes Station the only West Marin town who chose to have some civic fun on Sunday. While all this was going on in Point Reyes Station, down the road in Bolinas, a Health and Safety Day — complete with helicopter demonstrations, firetruck rides, and fire-extinguisher training — was scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the firehouse and Community Health Center.

Saturday was the 65th anniversary of the start of Western Weekend. It began in 1949 with a women’s group, Companions of the Forest Circle 1018, holding a festival, fashion show, and cake walk in their hall on Mesa Road in Point Reyes Station.

The following year, members of the Lions Club, many of whom were married to Circle 1018 members, added a parade and a livestock show for 4-H and Future Farmers of America members. For more than three decades, Western Weekend’s proper name was the West Marin Junior Livestock Show.

Sunday was the parade’s 62nd anniversary. The 1982 and 1983 parades were called off after thousands upon thousands of spectators — a number of them unruly bikers — began showing up for parades. The 4-H Fair, however, continued uninterrupted.

A color guard from the Coast Guard followed by the Sheriff’s Mounted Posse led Sunday’s Western Weekend parade down Point Reyes Station’s main street.

With lights flashing and sirens wailing, a procession of county and volunteer fire department vehicles was near the head of the parade as always.

Western Weekend Queen Summer Cassel will be a senior at Tomales High this fall. She lives in Inverness.

Western Weekend Princess Alyssia Martinez will be a sophomore at Tomales High this fall. She too lives in Inverness.

Grand Marshal of the parade Angelo Sacheli, who retired after 36 years as program manager in West Marin for county Health and Human Services, rode with his wife, Cathy Hall.

The Nave Patrola, as it does every year, spoofed the Italian Army in World War I. The group won 1st place in the Adult Drill Division.

In the early 1970s, an official from the Italian Consulate in San Francisco complained to parade organizers, the West Marin Lions Club, that the patrol disparaged Italians, what with its seemingly confused marchers colliding with each other and going off in all directions. Defenders of the patrol replied that many of the members are of Italian descent.

Inverness Garden Club won 3rd place in the Adult Street Show division. Among the activities of the club, which this year is celebrating its 80th birthday, is maintaining flower beds in public places. The group also provides scholarships for college students from West Marin.

Parade announcer Robert Cardwell (right) with other parade judges sat in the sun at a table on a flatbed truck parked next to Toby’s Feed Barn.

The Point Reyes Light float won 3rd place in the Adult Float division. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

Riding on the float once it got rolling were: editor Tess Elliott (middle); reporter Samantha Kimmey (standing at right); board member Jacoba Charles; reporter Christian Peak (at desk); guitarist Ramon Cadiz; a West Marin School student named Hiroki (who lives with his aunts Laurie Monserrat and Tor Taylor in Point Reyes Station); columnist Víctor Reyes (standing); Ingrid Noyes (driving her truck); photographer/office manager David Briggs (in cab) with his and Tess’ son Elliott on his lap; business manager Diana Cameron; ad sales representative Harry Korss; former ad department staffer Lynn Axelrod; and this retired publisher.

We riders threw rolled up newspapers to onlookers, as well as wrapped candy to the kids.

A wearing of the news: Three of The Light’s distaff staff wore dresses adorned with newspapers. From left: Jacoba Charles, a member of the paper’s board of directors; Tess Elliott, editor; and Samantha Kimmey, reporter.

KWMR FM community radio in West Marin won 2nd place in the Adult Float division.

Tending the Wells Fargo stage in front of the bank were branch officers Edith Rojas and Jeff Schrotl.

Point Reyes-Olema 4-H Club members rode on a truck provided by Clover-Stornetta Dairy. The group won 2nd place in the Kids’ Float division.

Onlookers crowded both sides of the three-block-long parade route down the main street.

Halleck Creek Riding Club for handicapped young people, which meets in Nicasio, won 2nd place in the Kids’ Horse division.

The Aztec Dancers are known as much for their colorful headresses as for their dancing to the beat of a drum. The group took 1st place in the Adult Music division.

The Marin County Free Library’s float thanked West Marin residents for helping pass Measure A on Tuesday’s ballot. The measure renews for nine years the parcel tax that provides funding for the library system, and it carried with 77.7 percent of the vote. The entry won 1st place in the Adult Vehicle division.

Mainstreet Moms, a get-out-the-vote group which began here in 2004, is now countrywide. The West Marin group meets in Point Reyes Station. It examines political issues and is fighting fracking. In the foreground are Mary Morgan (left) and Kathy Callaway. The group won 1st place in the Adult Street Show division and won the overall Best Street Show. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

Papermill Creek Children’s Corner preschool in Point Reyes Station was formed in 1972. The float won 1st place in the Kids’ Drill division and won for Best Drill overall. _________________________________________________________________

In Saturday’s 4-H Fair, Camilla Taylor of Point Reyes-Olema 4-H exhibited a six-month-old Holstein calf named Kay Kay. Camilla, who lives on Bivalve Ranch, said she showed the calf to get it comfortable with the crowds and noise it will encounter in larger livestock shows this summer. ____________________________________________________________________

Olivia Blantz of Nicasio with two Pygmy goats, Nigel (left) and Annabelle. The latter belongs to Olivia’s sister Phoebe.

Olivia, who is a member of Point Reyes-Olema 4-H Club, said the two goats are cousins and were born the same day in February 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s spelled Rabbits. From left on far side of table: Point Reyes-Olema 4-H Club member Ellierose Jackson from Nicasio exhibited a nine-week-old Angora rabbit named Joey; Tri-Valley 4-H Club member Nicole Casartelli showed a Castor mini-rabbit; and San Rafael 4-H Club member Erin Rose Charlton showed a three-year-old Lionhead named Finnegan.

One of the 4-H leaders laughingly told me that a year ago a kid accidentally left out the “T” in an “American Rabbits” sign, making it appear that some “American Rabbis” were entered in that day’s competition. _____________________________________________________________________

In the judging of 4-H projects Saturday, Ruby Clarke won a gold ribbon and Best in Show for a dress. Ashley Winkelmann won a blue ribbon for a romper made for infants, as did Camilla, Olivia and Phoebe for the rompers they each sewed.

The Blantz girls also took ribbons for: photography (Phoebe) and lettuce (Olivia).

Ashley also won a gold ribbon for a knitted hat and a gold for her cake decoration. Ruby took another Best in Show for her tale, “How the Cat Got its Tail.” Her mom, Rhonda Kutter, called it “a tale of a tail.” ________________________________________________________________

Toby’s Feed Barn hosted a barn dance, as well as the queen coronation, Saturday evening. Providing the music was the band Ingrid Noyes and Friends. _____________________________________________________________________

Meanwhile at the entrance to the Feed Barn (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

As a benefit for the Aztec Dancers, women on Saturday evening sold Mexican dinners and beverages. I enjoyed a delicious pork tamale and a glass of horchata, with which I was unfamiliar. I’m still not sure what all was in it, only that it was white and tasted of cinnamon and vanilla. All in all, a first-rate discovery.

Western Weekend, West Marin’s annual salute to its agricultural heritage, was held Saturday and Sunday in Point Reyes Station with a parade and 4-H animal competition.

Pete Tomasetti and his wife riding a 1941 Farmall Tractor followed by a 1938 Allis Chalmers tractor driven by Ben Wright together took first place in the parade’s Farm Vehicle category. _____________________________________________________________

The Point Reyes-Olema 4-H Club’s animal show in Toby’s Feed Barn Saturday. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

Hugo Stedwell Hill of Inverness holds an American blue rabbit, which is a heritage breed.

Dorothy Drady of Nicasio, who was watching over the exhibit, gave this account of the rabbit’s evolution:

The American blue was originally bred in Pasadena in 1917 and became the most popular breed in the country because of demand for its fur and meat.

By the 1970s and 80s, the breed was almost extinct. In the 1990s, the American Livestock Breed Conservancy placed the American blue rabbit on its “endangered” list. Nonetheless, there are now fewer than 500 worldwide.

The animal show was smaller than in previous years because some 4-H members who usually take part will instead compete in the Tri-Valley 4-H Fair Sunday, June 9, from 9 a.m. to noon. It will be held at the Pomi Ranch on the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road near Union School.

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4-H Club members taking part in the animal show included, front row from left: Ashley Winkelmann, Nicole Casartelli, Ellie Rose Jackson, Phoebe Blantz, Rachel Stevenson, Eva Taylor, Katie Stevenson. Onstage from left: Ruby Clarke, Willow Wallof, Brinlee Stevens, Nina von Raesfeld, Point Reyes-Olema 4-H Club president Audrey von Raesfeld (with clipboard), Olivia Blantz,  Camille Taylor, Caroline von Raesfeld, Marlowe Ural, Gabriel Ural, Stran Stevens, and Max Muncy. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod) _____________________________________________________________

4-H member Olivia Blantz won a top poultry award for her Mille Fleurs type hen of the Belgian d’Uccle Bantam breed.

Mille Fleurs, which is French for 1,000 flowers, refers to the many white spots of feathers.

(Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

 

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Point Reyes Station’s main street was lined with almost 2,000 parade watchers by starting time at noon Sunday. For the hundreds of children on hand, it was a grand party. _____________________________________________________________

Elise Haley Clark sang the National Anthem acapella just before the parade began. Despite her youth, she sang with poise and drew warm applause from the crowd. _____________________________________________________________

The Marin County Sheriff’s Posse had one of three color guards in the parade, along with the Coast Guard and the National Park Service. ____________________________________________________________

A procession of county and Inverness fire engines followed the color guards at the start of Sunday’s parade. _____________________________________________________________

Western Weekend Queen Sara Tanner, 16, a sophomore at Tomales High, earned her crown by selling the most Western Weekend raffle tickets. ____________________________________________________________

Western Weekend Princess Camille Loring of Marshall, is a senior at Tomales High. She was the runnerup in ticket sales. _____________________________________________________________

The entry from “Return to the Forbidden Planet, Shakespeare’s Forgotten Rock ‘N Roll Musical,” took first place in the parade’s Adult Music category. Singer Phillip Percy Williams (standing with microphone) wowed the crowd with his cover of Gary Puckett and the Union Gap’s song “Young Girl.” The musical is scheduled from June 20 to 30 in Tamalpais High’s Caldwell Theater. _____________________________________________________________

The Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Western Weekend Parade was Jim Patterson, who is retired after having been principal at different times of West Marin School and Tomales High. ____________________________________________________________

Papermill Creek Children’s Corner marched and rode down the parade route to publicize the preschool’s upcoming summer camp. ___________________________________________________________

Main Street Moms, who each year have a political entry in the parade, this year called on California Governor Jerry Brown to join the fight against fracking. Fracking, which uses water under pressure to force petroleum and natural gas from underground rock formations, has been blamed for polluting groundwater. _____________________________________________________________

The Nave Patrola, which spoofs the Italian army in World War I, as always was a hit of the Western Weekend Parade. This year the bumbling marchers took second place in the Adult Drill category. _____________________________________________________________

Drakes Bay Oyster Farm, which is fighting a court battle to renew its permit to operate in the Point Reyes National Seashore, entered a large float that carried company workers followed by a band. As the National Academy of Sciences and others have shown, the Park Service has repeatedly faked scientific data in trying to make a case for evicting the more than 80-year-old company.

A man at center in the foreground holds up “Want a Sign?” — inviting parade watchers to join the entry and carry a “Save Our Drakes Bay Oyster Farm” sign. _____________________________________________________________

(Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

Having supported the oyster company’s cause for several years, I decided I ought to carry a sign.

All went well as we marched semi-rhythmically down the main street to the beat of the band. When we reached the finish of the parade, however, I personally had a bit of excitement.

I was handing my sign to someone sitting on the lowboy behind Lunny’s stopped truck when the truck slowly started up and one of the trailer’s wheels rolled onto the outside edge of my right shoe.

Lowboys are designed to carry heavy equipment, so the weight was substantial. For a couple of moments, I couldn’t move my shoe, but although the wheel was pinching my foot, I didn’t feel any great pain. As it turned out, I had somehow managed to squeeze my toes to the other side of my shoe.

The truck continued to slowly roll forward and soon freed my foot. Nancy Lunny, wife of oyster farm operator Kevin Lunny, saw what had happened and hurried over. “Are you all right?” she asked anxiously. In fact, I was exhilarated from having survived the close call unscathed and told her with a laugh, “I’m perfectly okay.”  ____________________________________________________________

A the conclusion of the parade, the Marin County Farm Bureau put on a well-attended barbecue outside of Toby’s Feed Barn. The Doc Kraft Band (under the blue canopy at right) performed country rock ‘n roll music.

Later that afternoon while thinking back to the parade, it occurred to me that my experience with the trailer wheel  just might be a metaphor for the oyster company’s fight for survival. The Lunnys may be getting squeezed, but they’re not going to be crushed.

 

 

She’ll be missed. Thursday was the last day of February, which also meant it was Kathy Runnion’s last day working in the Point Reyes Station Post Office. With the Postal Service eliminating employees, closing post offices, and stopping Saturday deliveries to save money, Kathy accepted an early retirement offer.

Kathy on Thursday said her goodbyes while serving refreshments in the post office’s lobby. One of the reasons for doing so was to assure postal customers she was in good spirits and hadn’t “gone postal,” she joked. With her are Oscar Gamez from Toby’s Feed Barn (at left) and David Briggs from The Point Reyes Light (at center).

Kathy, who lives in Inverness Park, worked 24 years for the Postal Service — 14 years as a clerk in the Point Reyes Station Post Office, four in the Bolinas Post Office, and one in the Inverness Post Office plus five years as a rural carrier in Glen Ellen.

It’s not that Kathy had been angling for early retirement. Seated at a Toby’s Feed Barn table near the post office, Kathy (at right) in November 2011 distributed American Postal Workers Union literature. The flyers urged the public to back a congressional measure, House Bill 1351, so that the Postal Service would be saved rather than savaged.

“The problem,” the APWU explained, “is that a bill passed in 2006 is pushing the Postal Service into bankruptcy. The law imposes a burden on the USPS that no other government agency or private company bears. It requires the Postal Service to pay a 75-year liability in just 10 years — to ‘pre-fund’ healthcare benefits for future retirees… The $20 billion in postal losses you heard about doesn’t stem from the mail but rather from [the] congressional mandate.”

Unfortunately, Congress as usual wasn’t up to protecting the public interest once politics got involved.

Another lost cause. Kathy (right) in May 2008 joined other West Marin residents in trying to dissuade the Vedanta Society from letting the Point Reyes National Seashore use Vedanta property as a staging area for slaughtering a herd of fallow deer. Estol T. Carte (center), the Vedanta Society’s president, listened to the polite group of demonstrators but promised nothing and delivered just that.

US Senator Dianne Feinstein, then-Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, then-Lt. Governor John Garamendi, famed zoologist Jane Goodall, and the senior vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, John Grandy, PhD, were likewise on record as opposing the impending slaughter, but the Park Service was out for blood.

Nearly all the fallow and axis deer in the park were gone within months despite recent assurances from the National Seashore that the killing would be carried out over 11 years, which would allow time to take another look at whether to get rid of all the exotic deer. It was one more frustrating flip-flop by the Park Service, which in 1974 had insisted the deer belonged in the National Seashore because they were “an important source of visitor enjoyment.”

Kathy feeding denizens of a Planned Feralhood enclosed shelter at a Nicasio barn.

Retiring from the Postal Service will not take Kathy out of the public eye, however. For 12 years she has headed Planned Feralhood, an organization that traps and spays or neuters feral cats.

More than 700 of them have been adopted for pets. Some of those which could not be domesticated were let loose but with feeding sites established so they don’t have to fight over scraps of food and garbage. Others are being cared for in Planned Feralhood shelters.

Planned Feralhood recently became a non-profit corporation after operating for years under the fiscal umbrella of other nonprofits. Donations can be sent to Box 502, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956.

Two gray foxes basking in the sun as seen from a rear window of the Point Reyes Station Post Office. The foxes are on the roof of a shed that’s part of Toby’s Feed Barn and adjoins the Building Supply Center’s lumberyard.

In December 2009, I was at home one morning when I got a call from Kathy at the post office. I’d probably like to get a photo of a pair of foxes sleeping just outside a post office window, she said. I grabbed my camera and rushed into town, managing to get there in time to record the scene.

Two days before she retired, I received a similar message from her: “I’ve got a downtown wildlife story for you that needs investigation.” Naturally, I asked what was up. Kathy said she had seen some kind of hawk — although not a red-tailed or a red-shouldered hawk — walking on the cement floor  just inside the Feed Barn next door.

People were at the coffee bar in the entranceway, but they didn’t seem to worry the hawk, which was surprising because hawks tend to avoid humans. Kathy added that all the small birds that used to nest among the rafters of the Feed Barn had disappeared.

I asked Feed Barn owner Chris Giacomini about this, and he confirmed the birds had disappeared, but he didn’t know about the hawk. It seems a hawk had discovered good hunting at Highway 1 and Second Street. All the pigeons that used to perch on top of the Grandi Building also disappeared for awhile, Kathy told me, but a few have returned.

With Kathy’s retirement from the post office, Point Reyes Station is losing not only a first-rate postal clerk but also a first-rate observer of the wildlife to be found in the town’s commercial strip.

The 63rd annual Western Weekend, which celebrates West Marin’s agricultural heritage, drew one of its largest crowds in a decade last weekend.  On Saturday, the West Marin 4-H Fair, the Western Weekend queen’s coronation, and a barn dance were all held at Toby’s Feed Barn.

Sunday’s events began with a noontime parade down the three-block-long main street of Point Reyes Station. Despite the short route, the parade lasted more than an hour because street performances frequently stopped the procession. In addition, a few entries upon reaching the end of the route took a side street back to the starting point and made a second pass through town, thereby lengthening the parade.

Following the parade, the Marin County Farm Bureau held a chicken barbecue in Toby’s parking lot while a band played, people danced, and 4-H members sold pastries.

4-H Fair — Olivia Blantz of Point Reyes-Olema 4-H (left) and Emily Charlton of San Rafael 4-H cradle their poultry prior to the judging in Toby’s Feed Barn. Olivia’s hen won Best in Show.

Emily’s sister Erin Rose Charlton won the Showmanship award in the Junior category for her hen.

Goats — Olivia Tyrnauer’s goat Cinnamon (right) won first place in  Senior Showmanship. Olivia is a member of Mill Valley 4-H.

A Pigmy goat named Sylvester, which is owned by Megan Sintef of Nicasio 4-H, won a first place award in Junior Showmanship.

Altogether five goats were entered for judging in the 4-H Fair.

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Rabbits — Amelia Paulsey, 6, from San Rafael 4-H with her bunny Butterfly is questioned by her mother Kari Paulsey, who happened to be one of the judges.

For the first time in memory, no large animals such as cows and horses were entered in the 4-H Fair. As Allison Keaney, Marin County 4-H program representative, explained: “The fair in general has been running the risk of just not happening. With the alterations of the school schedules over the years, the first weekend in June [became] hard for folks.

“Our fair only had 36 members enter, representing only 25 families. That is actually up from last year. We only had two large-animal entries in 2010 and 2011 and therefore scratched the competition.

“Also, the demographic of our county enrollment has changed. The average age of our members has dropped a lot. We have lots of little members, which is exciting for the future, but members can’t do a large-animal project until they are nine years old.”

Western Weekend Queen Brenda Rico of Point Reyes Station riding in Sunday’s parade.

Parade Grand Marshal Michael Mery of Point Reyes Station.

Marin County Sheriff Bob Doyle (right) rides on a buckboard in Sunday’s parade.

Last hurrah — Lynn Woolsey (D-Petaluma) takes a last ride in a Western Weekend parade as a congresswoman before she retires from the US House of Representatives.

Incumbent Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey of Forest Knolls (center) does some last-minute campaigning during the Western Weekend parade in advance of this week’s election.

Congressional candidate Norman Solomon (D-Inverness Park) and his wife Cheryl Higgins led a large contingent of supporters in the Western Weekend parade.

The Aztec Dancers of Santa Rosa, traditional Western Weekend parade favorites, stopped periodically during the procession to dance to the beat of a drum. The dancers took third place in Adult Street Shows. They also won the parade’s Grand Prize.

KWMR community radio, 90.5 FM in Point Reyes Station and 89.9 FM in Bolinas, was represented by numerous marchers and an elaborate float. The entry won 2nd place among Adult Drill Teams.

Youngsters took advantage of the main street’s curb in order to have front-row seating for the parade — as well as to grab candies thrown from floats.

Adult spectators took whatever seating they could find, which for Gary Martin (left) and Bill Barrett was a spot on the front of the judges’ stand.

The Nave Patrola annually spoofs the World War I Italian Army, with the patrol’s soldiers marching chaotically and sometimes pausing to anachronistically shout, “Il Duce!” The group won the Best Adult Drill Team award, as well as the overall Best Drill Team award.

In the early 1970s, an official from the Italian Consulate in San Francisco complained to parade organizers, the West Marin Lions Club, that the patrol disparaged Italians, what with its seemingly confused marchers colliding with each other and going off in all directions. Defenders of the patrol replied that many of the members are of Italian descent.

The seventh and eighth grade rock band from West Marin School were highlights of the parade. Here the eighth grade performs some rock’n roll classics. The West Marin Kids Who Rock band won first place in Kids’ Music plus the overall Best Music award.

Papermill Creek Children’s Corner preschool in Point Reyes Station took 1st place among Kids’ Drill Teams.

The Wedding Party with Carol Rossi and pugs won first in Adult Animals. Possibly influencing the judges’ decision was their being given the top layer of the wedding cake.

Blazing Saddle — Jason McLean of Point Reyes Station (left) sits astride one of two metal deer he built, with his deer shooting fire out its rear end. McLean’s entry took 1st place among Adult Vehicles.

West Marin Community Services — which sponsors among other things the Food Pantry, the Thrift Store in Point Reyes Station, and the Tomales Bay Waterdogs swimming classes for youths — took 1st place among Kids’ Floats.

A 1920s buggy driven by Ethan McNamara took 1st among Kids’ Horses and won the Best Horse award.

West Marin Pharmacy joined the parade for the first time this year and won 1st place in Adult Music.

Halleck Creek Ranch in Nicasio, which operates a riding club for disabled children, took 1st in Kids’ Animals and the Best Animal award.

West Marin’s own tap dancers, the Fab-U-Taps, provided a street performance called Women of the World for Peace. The group took 1st place among Adult Street Shows, as well as the overall Best Street Show award.

Following Sunday’s parade, the West Marin Lions Club held a chicken barbecue in the parking lot of Toby’s Feed Barn. Members of Point Reyes-Olema 4-H sold pastries, and the Doc Kraft Dance Band inspired people to get up and dance.