100_0267.jpgSparselySageAndTimely.com extends a warm “Happy Birthday!” to restaurateur Pat Healy of Point Reyes Station (left), who topped 80 on Wednesday.

Pat operated the Station House Café for 30 years, during which time she turned the former hamburger shop into a restaurant praised in Gourmet and other food-and-drink publications.

Pat in June 2005 sold the café to its manager Sheryl Cahill (right), and as of this writing, Sheryl was planning a party with no-host bar for Pat this Thursday (March 29) from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Station House.

100_0272.jpgAlso celebrating her 80th birthday is Missy Patterson of Point Reyes Station, who will turn 80 on Sunday. For 24 years, Missy has run the front office of The Point Reyes Light, where she is circulation manager.

While the job requires dealing with all manner of people, Missy is never overwhelmed, having raised 11 children of her own, the youngest of whom, Duncan, drowned in Papermill Creek while still in his teens.

More than once Missy regaled the old Light’s staff with an account of the time her former husband, Realtor Donald “Pat” Patterson, needed to stop by the Inverness home of Professor and Mrs. Seth Benson on business. The professor taught Zoology at UC Berkeley, and he and his wife (both now deceased) were part of the Zero Population Growth movement.

While the men discussed business, Mrs. Benson invited Missy to chat in the kitchen, quickly turning the conversation to ZPG. “And how many children do you have?” she asked Missy.

“Eleven,”Missy answered, and Mrs. Benson began shouting at her, “Out! Out of this house!” True to form, Missy left feeling amused rather than insulted.

She was my wonderful colleague for 21 years, and SparselySageAndTimely.com sends her a sincere Happy 80th Birthday wish too.

Missy’s real name, by the way, is Rosalie, but nobody around here calls here that. Which gets us to the nature of nicknames.


Not long ago I hired Nick Whitney of Inverness Park, one of the members of Pacific Slope tree trimming services, to cut down two Monterey pines that had died near my parking area.

If the trees had fallen in a windstorm, the worst damage would probably have been to neighbor Toby Giacomini’s barbed-wire fence, but that was enough for me to want them out.

In addition, I wanted a large limb growing over my roof removed from another pine, so Nick sent over a crew consisting of Brian Arnold (seen above), Pepe Franco, and Nacho Franco.


Brian and Pepe (seen above) have trimmed trees at my cabin previously, so I expected — and got — a good job from the crew. Not having to worry about their work, I found myself instead wondering about their names.

I had to do a bit of research, but it turns out Brian is an Irish name meaning “high or “noble,” which should please him. After seeing Brian dangling from the top of a pine tree while avoiding large limbs falling from his chainsaw, both Gaelic meanings seemed appropriate.

100_3272_1.jpgThe common Spanish nickname “Nacho” (at right) was easy for me to check on. It’s merely a shortened form of “Ignacio,” sort of like “Robert” shortened to “Bob.”

In some recent years, the most common name of male babies born in the US was “José,” so it’s not surprising that many guys named José opt to use its nickname “Pepe.” Sort of like fellows named “John” using the nickname “Jack.”

But how in the world did “Pepe” become the nickname for “José?” When I finally found the answer, it surprised even my Spanish-speaking friends.

“José” is derived from the old Spanish equivalents to Joseph: “Josep” and “Josepe.” (In Italian, the name would be “Giuseppe.”) Because the final syllable of Josepe is stressed, it was a short step to “Pepe.” So, Joe, now we all know.