Monday, June 28, 2010

New tire swing in Rio Nido!

While enjoying an evening barbecue with our neighbors – whose deck overlooks the Rio Nido Playground, Dog Park, and Community Garden – we noticed that our daughter, her friend, and other neighborhood kids were gleefully gathered around the park’s newest feature. A fabulous new tire swing had suddenly appeared out of nowhere!

In the dappled, golden sunlight of this warm summer evening alongside the grassy banks of the dry seasonal creek, the kids took turns on the swing – sometimes in pairs – while the others pushed. Their laughter echoed through the canyons as their toes brushed over soft, green grass, purple irises, and then pointed towards the canopy of redwood branches lacing over the pale, blue summer evening sky.

My neighbor, Karyn, stood amongst the children (including her slender, pretty tween-aged daughter and her twin three-year-old sons) with an air of immense satisfaction, because she had been planning the installation of this new tire swing for some time. She obtained the tire and rolled it over from her home on the other side of Rio Nido, while her husband pushed the stroller with the twins. Then, she tied a rock to a length of rope and threw it over the tree branch, and looped it through. They somehow managed to tie the tire securely, and … voila! Instant fun!

The playground is mainly set up for younger children, and “I wanted there to be something for the older kids,” Karyn explained. Sure enough, after the younger crowd had dispersed, a group of teenagers passed by, instantly gravitated to the swing, and enjoyed an hour of good, clean, fun.

Times like these are what make me love living in Rio Nido.

Dog days coming soon to a park near you …

The Dog Park in Rio Nido has proven so successful that the folks at Russian River Parks and Recreation have decided to build another one on currently vacant Parks and Rec-owned land in Guernewood Park. Although the proposed dog park has generally been well-received, some Guernewood Park neighbors have expressed concern about the lack of adequate parking nearby to accommodate the potential influx of local dog lovers and their furry companions.

The new Dog Park may improve – or possibly exacerbate – a recent, ongoing problem for Guernewood Park residents. During a chance conversation with a Guernewood Park denizen at Safeway – our local social hub where the elite meet and greet – she mentioned that ever since the “No Parking” signs were erected in the Hacienda neighborhood of Forestville, increasing numbers of teenagers and young adults now gather around the site of future Dog Park in Guernewood Park and wreak all sorts of havoc at the nearby beach.

This is confirmed by other reports from recent visitors to this beach who – looking somewhat shell-shocked – vowed never to return. Their descriptions evoked visions of Daytona Beach during Spring Break, but with more mullets and generic beer in those kegs.. At first, I assumed that zealous neighbors had staged these shenanigans (folks do tend to get a tad protective of their neighborhood “secret beaches” around here), but on closer inspection, this formerly lovely stretch of river frontage does appear a tad shabbier these days.

The new Dog Park definitely has potential for providing a nice, shared community space to this already-charming neighborhood. Here in Rio Nido, the Dog Park has helped neighbors get to know each other better. Some now get together for regular play dates for their doggies the way doting parents do for their young children, and it appears that a new romance or two have blossomed as a result. I do hope that the folks in Guernewood Park – who have a Home Owners Association and generally seem to be cohesive and well-organized – can get together and incorporate their vision for the future of their neighborhood into the new Dog Park.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Things that totally tick me off: Like PAYING FOR FLUORIDE!!!

Here in Sonoma County, a lot of folks believe that if stuff has chemicals in it, then it can't possibly be any good. That's why just about every other County puts fluoride in their water, except for Sonoma County. No wonder so many folks have crappy teeth around here.

That's why -- now that my husband has been out of work for a year & neither of us have been able to get jobs that pay health insurance -- we have to drive way the heck out to Costco every month & pay $10 per month -- so our daughter can have freaking FLUORIDE TABLETS so her teeth don't rot & so she can have the appropriate amount of fluoride which most children receive WITHOUT having to fulfill & pay for prescriptions.

I'm thoroughly disgusted. What in Sam Hill do we pay for our property taxes ANYway?

Go with the (Low) Flow ...

Your intrepid reporter seeks to find out whether or not our part of the Russian River provides good clean fun for ourselves & our children for the summer of 2010 & gives it a rock-solid go-ahead!
Q: What do you do when your Kayak capsizes on the Russian River during a low-flow summer?
A: Get out & walk.
As both of my readers know, I'm NOT a huge fan of the current "Low Flow" water management policy for the Lower Russian River. When folks talk about "Low Flow" around here, it refers to a Federally-mandated policy designed to limit water flows for the Lower Russian River to 70-90 cubic square feet per minute (CFM, which also means "Come F*** Me", believe me, I know, I've worn those kind of shoes in days gone by), so the estuary at the foot of our River doesn't break through to the Pacific Ocean & thereby allows baby salmons to hatch & grow in an ideal habitat. I agree with this in principal, but find the policy to be flawed in multitudes of ways which could cause permanent economic damage to our home-spun tourist industry.

Last summer's "Low Flow" policy -- imposed by drought in addition to habitat preservation -- proved a disaster. Locals & tourists alike found the shallow swimming holes & billowing algae blooms to be utterly loathsome. Even the briefest excursions for my friends & I who have young children resulted with our children contracting ear-aches, stomach-aches, pink-eye, and other ailments.

This summer's different. For starters, we've had abundant rainfall. As a community, we've also demanded that we approach "Low Flow" & habitat preservation in a new way.

In our second "Low Flow" year, in the wake of heavy rainfall, I decided to test the proverbial waters with my 8-year-old daughter starting with Johnson's Beach in downtown Guerneville. My daughter ADORES paddle boats for their rock-solid stability, loathes canoes for their "tippi-ness" & feels neutral about Kayaks because she has never ridden on one.

Thanks to "Low Flow", my preferred option of renting a kayak at Johnson's Beach was the only option available to us. We plunk down our $10 for a generous hour, life-jackets, paddles for both of us, & a swift push-off & off we go. We push off from Johnson's Beach, paddle under the Bridge, and -- voila! -- FREEDOM! My eight-year old daughter gets the rhythm & pushes her paddle away from shore. The River runs clear & cool & we watch the rocks skidding by beneath us. Eventually, we need to stop & drag our kayak along as we drift into the shallows, but we could have avoided this by staying in the channel.

The River runs clear, fast, & smoothly ... we lose our paddle, lunge for it, & grab for it ... OOPS, I've screwed up -- then off we go, in deep, clear green water, paddling past Mallard ducks with their ducklings trailing behind, tiny swallows swooping about, tiny humming birds alighting upon the enchanting foliage on shore, & huge Blue Herons taking off into the sky.

All along we pass by these beautiful vacation homes with people who feel as excited as we do about all the beautiful creatures who cross their line of vision. We paddle by, & the River flows by swift & sure & clean. Most of the time, we can see to the bottom.

Perhaps this can work for all of us, I danged well hope so.

If not, I'll always feel grateful for the spectacularly beautiful day we had.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Russian River Chamber of Commerce activities

In an attempt to staunch the flow of local business closings, our Chamber of Commerce arranged for John DeGaetano of the Small Business Advisory Program to host a May 24th Marketing workshop for local business owners. Unfortunately, a scant five people participated, due to the 3:30pm-5:30pm meeting time. Which genius scheduled that one? DeGaetano, an advisor to the Russian River Chamber of Commerce, also hosted two seminars back in March, entitled, “Marketing your Business in the Community and in this Economy.” With all ironic smirks aside, I wish I could have attended one of these programs, they sound interesting.

Actually, our Chamber of Commerce has been quite busy lately with the lovely hanging baskets which decorate downtown Guerneville; the Give Back Tuesday fundraisers at the Rainbow Cattle Company; the Stumptown Daze parade; and the June 3rd "Chamberee" schmooze-fest during which members from eight Chambers of Commerce throughout the County gathered at the Pacific Coast Air Museum to share ideas and services.

In their June 2010 newsletter, the Chamber of Commerce announced that funding is available to landlords or businesses who wish to improve the appearance of their storefronts. DeGaetano will also provide local businesses with free advice by appointment. If you're interested, please stop by the Chamber or call them at 707.869.9000.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Local businesses report suckiest summer EVER

Egads, I thought our chronically sucky economy was FINALLY starting to turn around. Alas, this recession is the gift that keeps on sucking. Downtown Guerneville looks lively, yet some retailers say this has been "the worst summer ever." Visitors come in to look, but don't buy anything. The folks from Vine Life -- a downtown wine shop which also sells art and novelty items -- have reportedly sold their shop to an investor who plans to move the operation to Discovery Bay, of all places. This will be a sad loss to our community ... and yet another empty store front.

Speaking of empty store fronts, I'm wondering when the landlords plan on getting a $#@%! clue & lowering their rents to realistic amounts that retailers and other small businesses can afford. They shouldn't be allowed to make downtown Guerneville look like cr@p.

Local philanthropist Bob Burke passes away.

I returned home from giving garden tours at the Applewood for the Resorts in Bloom fundraiser, logged into facebook and received the sad news from Hayley Yount Severe's post:

"I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live." -- George Bernard Shaw. DEDICATED TO BOB BURKE ... REST IN PEACE GENTLE SOUL.
Mr. Burke owned the local landmark Burke's Canoe Trips and campground, but is best known for Bob Burke's Kids, a non-profit dedicated to providing terminally ill children and their families with fun and enriching outdoor activities, holiday parties, and other events. The Disability Services and Legal Center was to present Mr. Burke with its 2010 Independent Living Legacy award on June 30th.

It's sad to lose a wonderful old-timer like him. Part of me hopes it's a "Mark Twain" scenario in which reports of his death were "greatly exaggerated".

PLEASE bring back Lalita's tamale cart!

Does anyone know where Lalita & her tamale cart have gone? I desperately crave those tasty, savory morsels. She usually dishes them out in front of Dennis Judd's Rusky Rika Dachas affordable housing project (formerly known as "that crappy-looking housing complex") on River Road every day, starting around lunch time until they sell out. Alas, I haven't seen Ms. Lala since February when Mr. Judd began improving the property, which he purchased in Fall 2009.

Did he kick her out? Or did Ms. Lala flee because the ridiculously named "Rusky Rika Dachas" made it impossible for her to serve tamales with a straight face. Actually, she's been visiting her grand children in Southern California a lot & maybe she's moved down there permanently. Sigh. Lalita, PLEASE COME BACK!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 2010 post-election haikus ...

Alas, I did not post my recommendations in time for the June 8, 2010 elections. I hope my negligence didn't leave both of my readers mentally paralyzed & unable to vote, thereby skewing the results of this sparsely-attended election.

Hopefully, the unique and valuable perspectives so briefly & concisely stated in my post-election haiku poems will at least partially make up for the damage caused by my brief inattention.

Voters increase funding for
Russian River Fire Protection District

Measure F, F-Yes!
So Fire Dept. can save our homes
(which are STILL worthless).

Voters reject PG&E's thinly veiled attempt
to prevent communities from establishing public utilities.

You can "offer" us
the "right to vote," but you can't
make us vote your way.

Jill Ravitch ejects incumbent Stephan Passalacqua

Too few convictions,
Too many injustices,
un-spellable name.

How Mike McGuire crushed Debra Fudge

Pound lots of pavement;
Make thousands of facebook friends;
Add lots of money.

If you like these, please feel free to forward them or re-post them with a link!

Rio Nido Web site's up!

Woo hoo! Rio Nido has a real Web site now. Check it out for news, events, announcements, and other useful information for residents & visitors. The site is still a work in progress & we welcome any comments & feedback you may have (please email them to websters @ rionido . net). The site was created by the Rio Nido Task Force's Business and Economic Viability Committee. The Rio Nido Task Force is a grass-roots community group seeking to create positive change. The Business & Economic Viability Committee is lead by local resident & O'Reilly Press online community guru Marsee Henon, and its members are Adam Flaherty, Kim Holliday, Domenic Farnocchia, and yours truly.