Thursday, July 31, 2008

Time for Breakfast

Early day visitors to this blog may remember a bowl of soup at Ardella's. Then there was the divine eggs benedict presentation at Ardella's. We are due for another plate, and what could be more interesting than the food someone else is eating. This has all the fixings of a casual California breakfast in a diner at its best: eggs scrambled with spinach and smoked salmon, fried potatoes, a split and toasted English muffin with raspberry jam smeared on (do the English eat English muffins?), tea with a small pot for refills, and little sealed shots of cream for the tea or coffee. Also on the table is a bottle of ketchup (sometimes spelled catsup), which she wisely doesn't use. There are people out there who never eat eggs without ketchup or Tabasco sauce, but the habit mystifies me. I missed including the salt and pepper shakers in the photo (bad blogger, bad, bad). The bill/check for the meal is already on the table, so they must have asked for it early. Have I mentioned that Ardella's is a good place to eat?

Hey! The Blogger dashboard tells me this is post number 150 for Willits Daily Photo!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fanciful Footwear

I'm running short of time tonight, so what better than to dip into the spring photo archives for a shot I have long wanted to display. The shop owner of Mazahar on Main Street takes regular trips around the Near East, and often comes back with interesting new inventory. These desert boots were among her finds, and are so inspiring. I wonder if I can find anything in my closet I could customize with such abandon.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Red Hats

About a month ago, I was wandering along Main Street, looking for photo opportunities, when I started seeing a number of people through the window of the Purple Thistle restaurant wearing bright colors. Then several more individuals strode past me, and darted off to the pathway to the patio area I was seeing. Now, I tend to be a hermit, and few people actually know me, although they might see my face around Ardella's lunch counter, or at the market. But I decided to take the plunge and follow a rabbit down this rabbit hole. What I found was the Red Hat Society in all their red, purple, and white splendor, gathering for a meeting. I was allowed to freely wander about with my camera clearly in hand, looking for angles and opportunities. I noticed a special enchantment in the air, and soon found the source, Jay Gordon. I introduced myself to the famous man-about-town, and told him of my blog, and why I was taking pictures. Suddenly, I stood amid a special presentation inducting Mr. Gordon into the Society as an honorary member, complete with hat. Smiles of irrepressible delight are the expressions people usually have around Jay.

Lo! And Behold! He included a very kind nod to Willits Daily Photo in his weekly column in the July 25th Nickel & Dime circular. Bless him! More Red Hats...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Truth Window

Straw bale construction tradition calls for a "truth window" exposing the straw behind the plaster. This one is inside the St Francis in the Redwoods Episcopal Church sanctuary. For the non-zen portion of Zen Monday, see the Animoto, or more images of the interior in my Overflow blog.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Little Lake Valley

It is so wonderful to start getting our clean air back. This is a view of Little Lake Valley from a tiny turn-out on Sherwood Road. It's a familiar sight to the thousands of people who live up in Brooktrails and beyond, but I rarely get up that way. On the horizon, you can still see the lingering smoke of the many lightning strike fires started more than a month ago, and still being contained and controlled. We usually enjoy the spoiled expectation of pristine skies, giving us beautiful lichens and healthy lungs. The mountain in the middle is Red Hill (note the color of the soil on its base), and you may even be able to see the letter "W" up on its right shoulder [I just checked that, and you can't at this resolution]. On the near valley floor is the north end of Willits, although I don't know what the open lots are all about. In the near foreground of the photo is a plant called poison oak. As its leaves turn red, it is easier for newcomers to recognize. Woe be to anyone using its pretty leaves for toilet paper in the woods. One of the hardships for the convict crews and other fire fighters on these incidents is the vast rangeland covered with this stuff. I've heard that when it burns, the smoke is especially miserable if inhaled. Once again, hail to the many professionals and volunteers who have worked so hard for so long to engage an unprecedented number of simultaneous fires in our region.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Red and Re-Read

This flashy display expressed the red-hot July we have had with our fires and often soaring temperatures. The Book Juggler sells used books, sheet music, DVDs, and guitar strings in addition to three rooms packed with tomes needing a new home.

I found a book in the back room written by a professor I much admired, Walter Capps, called "The Unfinished War: Vietnam and the American Conscience". I took his class, bearing approximately the same title, in about 1982 at UCSB, which was later featured in a 60 Minutes (news magazine TV show) segment by Ed Bradley. Capps was a religious studies professor, and it shaped his approach to current affairs. It was the only college class I had that could move me to tears. He was later elected to Congress, but sadly died of a heart attack in his first term. He was very wise, and attuned to the experiences and needs of our veterans. We sure could use him now.

RedBooks Jigsaw PuzzleRedBooks Jigsaw Puzzle

Friday, July 25, 2008

Zucchini Alert!

Yes, it's that time of year again. Roll up your windows, and lock your doors, because your colleagues, neighbors, and friends of friends may harbor a summer squash plant in their garden. If they do, and you aren't vigilant, sacks of the seasonal vegetable will suddenly appear on your car seat when you step back from that post office errand. The most commonly grown squash in this region is the little zucchini, or not so little if the gardener lets them get out of hand. A herd of voles hollowed out a two-footer in my mother's garden, and set up contented housekeeping inside it some years ago. As a college roommate of mine once quipped, a single properly irrigated plant produces enough zucchini to feed a family of twelve throughout summer. Californians have been trying to invent new ways to use up excess zucchini ever since they became fashionable to grow - grilled zucchini, stuffed zucchini, pureed zucchini soup, zucchini bread, zucchini quiche, zucchini hidden in meatloaf, and as I discovered being prepared at a recent farmer's market, zucchini fritters! To your health.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Subject to Control

The trouble had been going on for years, apparently. She had a restraining order against him, and he was prohibited from possessing firearms. She had broken off their relationship long ago, and had moved on with the man she married. But there can be a madness among men, in many cultures around the world, that insists on owning women.

Willits is a small city with a small staff, and she was the municipal payroll officer. The first responder on the scene was the fire chief, who just happened to be going to the bank when she was shot to death in her car, in this parking lot. The gunman had killed himself immediately. Someone called 911. Try as he might, with his calming competence, the fire chief could not save this woman, this colleague, with his bare hands. He was able to rescue her girlfriend, in the car seat beside her, badly bleeding from two bullets that may have passed through her friend. The police chief arrived, and saw this woman he had gone to high school with, now dead. It happened last November. I did not know her, but this event grieved many, many people, and she will not be forgotten. The shock echoed through all of us.

Such madness is never, ever about love. It is about property, and about control.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Beware of Bull

Seen on the road to the sewage treatment plant, another example of animals used as sentries. But I never did see the bull here.

BewareOfBull Jigsaw PuzzleBewareOfBull Jigsaw Puzzle

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Guard Llama

The flock of gray geese looked so appealing that I had to pull off the road to attempt a photograph. They quickly fled the corral, not from me, but from the sudden appearance of a big, ragged llama. He zeroed in on me, climbed up the gate a bit, and bared his teeth while issuing guttural threats. The only thing between me and death, he said, was this puny gate. Intrepid City Daily Photo Blogger that I am, I retreated only after getting the shots. I am free to photograph!, I said, as I leaped back into my little truck and hurried on my way.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Al's Redwood Room

As you can see from yesterday's photo, Al's Redwood Room is currently a stand-alone establishment and serves American and Thai food along with a full bar (meaning every kind of alcohol, not just beer and wine). The business originated in the ground floor of either the Willits Hotel or the Van Hotel, I don't remember which, further up the street. Al was Al Greenberg, who was friends of Dr. Raymond Babcock and Ridgewood Ranch owner Charles S. Howard, and often served up drinks to Red Pollard, the famous jockey of Seabiscuit, during his recuperative stay in the area. The current establishment retains the ornate carved wood bar from the old hotel days. This sign was recently refurbished, and is presented by request of Palm Axis.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Royal Recreation

This photo was taken on Flag Day last month, which coincided with the annual Redwood Run of Harley Davidson motorcycle enthusiasts. It's just an ordinary shot of Main Street, but I pulled it out today in honor of the outside possibility that the King of Jordan, Abdullah II, is vacationing in the region. So far it's just a rumor, but some southern Humboldt county bloggers have eyewitness reports of an entourage looking very much like a head of state trying to be inconspicuous, but failing because an entourage is never inconspicuous in Garberville, especially if it involves Highway Patrol escorts and heavily armed guards. We don't know positively, we're "just sayin'". The last intel report had him at the lovely Benbow Inn, which serves beautiful meals in a rustic-chic Victorian setting beside the Eel River just north of our county line.

So why this picture of choppers? Well, the reason the King might be around is to tour the highways on his Harley Davidson! He's a motorcycle fan, and a noted adrenaline junkie, and rode along the coast of Big Sur last year. So, none of this speculation is out of the question. Plus, he was just in Idaho, Colorado, and Oregon in published reports, so it could all fit together. But I'll bet he went to the coast, not through our inland valley. Oh, well, he's welcome just the same.

Well it's official. The King of Jordan did stay at the Benbow Inn last Thursday night. The Benbow Inn blog confirms it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Another Abandoned Railcar

This one says it's a Seaboard System car, among other things.
SeaBoardSystemCar Jigsaw PuzzleSeaBoardSystemCar Jigsaw Puzzle

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mendocino Queen

Mendocino Queen Honey Company offers their Willits made product with these words:
Mendocino Queen is committed to sustainable apiculture. We do not treat our hives with pesticides and we are breeding our queen bees in order to help the bees select their own way out of their present dependency on chemical treatments. Our honey is always raw and the flavor reflects the diverse array of flora in the Willits valley.
I wonder if they really have a solution to the mysterious hive collapse problems we hear about across the country. I'm always pleased to see so many honey bees on the flowers in my garden, so maybe I'm contributing to this local enterprise. In winter, they enjoy the rosemary blooms; in spring, the Lamb's Ear; in summer, the oregano and thyme flowers; and in autumn, the Chaste Tree flowers.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Buckeye and Swallowtail

California Buckeyes are native to the interior coast ranges, and are related to chestnut trees. The name comes from the appearance of the large nuts as they emerge from their shells. The trees have evolved to tolerate the long, dry summers, and frequent droughts here. They always drop their leaves before any of the other plants, which shortens the number of weeks their big leaves aspirate moisture. But this year ended its rainfall much earlier than usual, so even as this plant is still opening blossoms, some have turned brown, and some of its leaves are yellowing in preparation to drop. This swallowtail butterfly is working against the clock to get its job of pollinating done so some nuts can form in time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

3D Memories

I wasn't the only person with a camera at the rodeo. I saw a fellow near the arena gate with a fancy rig that held two cameras about a foot apart. I didn't give it much thought and probably assumed it was a way to get good coverage of the action. I didn't realize until the next issue of Nickel & Dime came out that he was producing stereoscope type images! Several businesses that distribute this "good news" paper had the red and blue eye window headsets for activating the effect, and they turned out great! It looks like the printer was off alignment if you don't know what's going on without the special glasses. Craig Gardner was the wizard-photographer, but he doesn't list a website. You can enlarge this photo for contact information. This was shot at a table in J.D. Redhouse after I'd already cleared my tasty dish of raspberry ripple ice cream. Next time, I'll share.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Do The Locomotion

The Willits Frontier Days celebrations wouldn't be complete without demonstrations of antique railroad equipment by Roots of Motive Power. This all volunteer organization is for enthusiasts of steam power and old time heavy machinery who put in countless hours reconstructing, repairing, and operating prized examples from the past century and a half of logging and construction. This was one of the opportunities for the public to take rides around the now complete loop track these men built, and to learn a little about how such engines work. For folks with more than a passing interest, they also offer steam engineering and safety classes every April. Check their website for more information.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Miss CCPRA Is Ready

The Willits Frontier Days Rodeo is sanctioned by the California Cowboys Pro Rodeo Association, so points earned here by competitors accumulate toward championships and prize money, etc. offered by the organization. Safety riders on horseback seem to monitor the arena, and guide livestock to their exit shutes, and help retrieve dropped gear, and otherwise provide appropriate assistance. Among these is Miss CCPRA, who competed herself for the prized role of promoting rodeo. The rules seem mighty tough to me.

However, some little fans have a hard time focusing on the roping and riding action when ice cream issues must be negotiated. Amid the layers of drama, Miss CCPRA remains "Cowgirl Tough" and stays attuned to her job.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Arte Y Pico Honor

My thanks go to Kelly, at Geneva Daily Photo, for honoring me with the the Arte Y Pico blog award. Here are the guidelines for this recognition:

1. Recipients choose five blogs considered to be ‘deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and which contribute to the blogging community, no matter what language they are in’.
2. After selecting your honorees, list the name of the blog author and a link to his/her blog so they may be visited by everyone.
3. Each award winner has to display the award, and include name and link to the blog that conferred the recognition.
4. All award winners will link to the Arte y Pico blog so that everyone will know the origin of the award.
5. Provide a copy of these guidelines.

The originator of the award appears to be a doll crafter in Uruguay (I used Google Translate to examine the site). On the one hand, it is a way for the originator to show his humble wares (so you can decide whether you want to click on that link or not 8^)), but on the other hand, it's lovely to be offered such an acknowledgment from a fellow blogger in whatever form it arrives. This particular exponential chain appears to have just started in June, and who knows how far it will reach. No money lost, no money gained. Most of the blogs I've been visiting lately have been part of the loosely affiliated City Daily Photo community, but I'll break this out from that circle a little more with my list of five. It will be up to the listees to decide whether they want to receive it and pass it on:

1. Kym of Redheaded Blackbelt and Other Strange Connections

She writes beautifully and compellingly of her life adventures, as well as community news in southern Humboldt county, California, and beyond. Her photos are superb!

2. Elisa of Elisa Saca Fotos

Elisa is the sister of an Argentine CDP blogger (his site is great too!), and her photography is marvelously original.

3. Desiree of The Adventures of Chopper Chick

Readers of Redheaded Blackbelt were just recently pointed to this exciting, action packed blog of a professional helicopter pilot. She seems to do every kind of copter work.

4. Ms Puddin at A Taste of Fresh Banana Puddin'

Her blog is rated NC-17 for a reason. She has twenty-something, beyond-sex-and-the-city attitude, holding nothing back. It's a funny and fresh view of life that I don't see much of anymore, because I'm really close in age to her parents. In fact, I'm acquainted with her parents - long time residents of Mendocino county. She probably won't get off on an old lady noticing her blog, but that's sort of why I'm listing her.

5. Palm Axis of Palm Axis

An artist in the Los Angeles area, this blogger presents her own art as well as the well observed art, nature and history around her - three things that matter to me as well.

Manure Flecked

"Manure flecked" and "mud-colored underdog" were terms applied to Willits by a nationally distributed "news"-paper about five or six years ago, when a "reporter" visited here shortly after a Frontier Days parade, all back when some attention was drawn to us by the Laura Hillenbrand book "Seabiscuit: An American Legend" and the subsequent movie. But not wanting to be saddled with the pejorative epithet again, it looks like the Scouts came to the rescue, shovels in hand. Perhaps it was good training for a political career. If you want to find out more about Seabiscuit and Ridgewood Ranch, over the mountains to the south of Willits, please visit the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sheriff's Posse

This beautiful Appaloosa rump carries one of the Mendocino Sheriff's Search and Rescue Horse Posse members. That bay roan is a beauty as well. I wasn't much aware of this all volunteer organization until I looked them up on the internet for this post. When someone is missing in the vast hills and forests, rivers and lakes, these are the regular folks who are called up to put their skills to work. And just yesterday, Pasadena Daily Photo posted a photo and story about search and rescue training going on down in that city - check it out!

I caught Sheriff Tom Allman blinking there - sorry Sheriff.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ropin' A Star

Whatever you do, do not interpret this as a scene from Dr. Strangelove. This is not meant to depict Slim Pickens riding a nuclear warhead, hooting and hollering, in the climax of that movie. Just put that out of your mind. (It's a great movie - if you haven't seen it lately or ever, do rent it.)

The theme for this year's Frontier Days was "Ropin' A Star", and this entry won the under-20ft. class judging for the parade. See the star on the top of the truck in front, and the rope extending to it? Hey, they really went for it!

A variety of other entrants are pictured on my Overflow blog.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

NYT Features Mendocino County Volunteer Fire Districts

I just got word of a New York Times write up about our county's local volunteer fire fighters, featuring especially how they responded to the early alarms in the Mendocino Lightning Complex fires of the past weeks. The story was in the July 7th edition (Monday). Link to it here.

We still have a long, hot, dry fire season ahead of us, and these tiny rural units need funds to replace and repair equipment and materials that have been used up. They also need to pay for training for any new recruits they can muster.

If you feel inspired to send a check, here are some addresses, kindly provided by CalFire:

Albion-Little River FD
P.O. Box 315
Albion, CA 95410

Anderson Valley FD
P.O. Box 398
Boonville, CA 95415

Brooktrails FD
24880 Birch St.
Willits, CA 95490

Comptche FD
P.O. Box 154
Comptche, CA 95427

Covelo FD
P.O. Box 36
Covelo, CA 95428

Elk FD
P.O. Box 151
Elk, CA 95432

Ft. Bragg FD
141 Main St.
Ft. Bragg, CA 95437

Hopland FD
P.O. Box 463
Hopland, CA 95449

Laytonville FD
P.O. Box 399
Laytonville, CA 95454

Leggett Valley FD
P.O. Box 32
Leggett, CA 95458

Mendocino FD
P.O. Box 901
Mendocino, CA 95460

Redwood Coast FD
P.O. Box 245
Pt. Arena, CA 95468

Redwood Valley-Calpella FD
P.O. Box 385
Redwood Valley, CA 95470

South Coast FD
P.O. Box 385
Gualala, CA 95445

Ukiah City FD
300 Seminary Ave.
Ukiah, CA 95482

Ukiah Valley FD
1500 S. State Street
Ukiah, CA 95482

Westport FD
P.O. Box 63
Westport, CA 95488

Willits-Little Lake FD
74 East Commercial Street
Willits, CA 95490

Piercy FD
P.O. Box 206
Piercy, CA 95587

Whale Gulch FD
76850 #B Usal Rd.
Whitethorn, CA 95589

My particular thanks go to the Comptche department for fighting the Navarro Fire that nearly consumed my mother's home.

Tiny Foal

I had the hardest time choosing which photo to lead with tonight; not to do with my photography, but rather that all the miniature horses paraded by Junior Bear Ranch were so beautiful! I got distracted by the Wikipedia information about horse colors first of all, then I looked up the ranch's website and fantasized about owning one or two of these little guys. Apparently the human family of the ranch has expanded, so they need to downsize the equine family for a while. I've selected several more shots of them waiting to proceed in my Overflow blog. If you take a look there, you can tell me which one you would choose.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I was late to the beginning of the rodeo, having just gotten off work, so my vantage point for the end of the opening ceremonies was not good. The national anthem was sung by some local sisters, while a color guard of the American Legion presented the national, legion, and POW/MIA flags. I was able to see them as they exited the rodeo arena in formation, and then stood down. You'll notice the American flag is not allowed to touch the ground, and even at ease these veterans carry it ahead of the others. Since thier founding, after World War I, this organization has promoted the Flag Code, so if you ever have questions about how to display and care for the U.S. flag, they are the ones to ask.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mexican Splendor

A spectacular contingent of Mexican riders and folkloric dancers patiently waited in their appointed position for the parade to start moving. Much of their signage was not yet visible, and was in a hurry to get back to work. For this group, again, I took a number of photos I liked and found it hard to choose which one to post on Willits Daily Photo. Some others are on my Overflow blog on the post with the same name.

The more I process and vet the images from Frontier Days this year, the more I appreciate the diversity of our community. It's a small town, but also far-reaching, with so many different voluntary service groups, cultural groups, proud small businesses, and public servants/officials - all out there showing off their best selves in the parade, saying "I'm here with you, I'm a part of you". Communities around the world have their rituals, and Frontier Days is the Willits spin on that Americana. So, please bear with me, if you're interested at all, because I don't usually do a "series" of photos on this blog, and I have quite a number more of this event to offer.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Frontier Days Barbecue

The Frontier Days Barbecue is part of the 4th of July day's events, and the preparations start the day before in order to have all the beef cooked and ready for hundreds of picnikers following the parade of the late morning. Recreation Grove is outfitted with a sheltered serving area and concrete platforms for the cooking rigs. Best of all, it is shaded by the canopy of towering oak trees. A lot of volunteers work for many months to pull everything together, and some folks who have lived in Willits in the past make a point of always coming back for this holiday.

For more photos of the barbecue, please click here to link to my Overflow blog. You'll find a belly-full of images that just won't fit on Willits Daily Photo.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Code Pink Bakes Up Some Justice

The local branch of the anti-war group Code Pink were out in force for the Frontier Days parade. The small population of Mendocino county encompasses a broad spectrum of political and social views, and everyone seems to co-exist when livelihoods are not directly threatened. More photos of Code Pink before the procession are on my Overflow blog.

I must admit, I had a goosebump moment at the rodeo on Friday when the announcer, killing a few minutes between roping events, asked the audience if they thought McCain would be our next president. I didn't hear much of anything, but I assumed a typically Republican crowd was just caught off guard. A moment later, he asked who thought Obama would be president. A clearly audible roar of approval came out. I had heard support previously for Obama, from a Republican I see regularly, but I was not prepared for the rodeo reaction. I think the announcer was very surprised. Amazing and inspiring.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Frontier Days Rodeo

July 4th was a big day for pictures (parade, barbecue, rodeo), and I was not sure where to begin. Getting down to basics, the Willits Frontier Days Rodeo claims it's the oldest continuously operating rodeo in the state, with this being its 82nd year. It's only since living in Willits that I've begun to appreciate the events, with my favorite being bullriding. That is to say, I watch it, I don't do it. This rider was going for the full 8 seconds.

There will be a lot more of this day's pictures in the next few posts, with liberal use of my Overflow blog, but tonight, I'm beat.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Patriotic Storefront

It may be vacant, but this empty building on Main Street is still showing its colors. Today is Independence Day in the U.S. There will be a parade and rodeo today, but I'm one of the folks who always has to work during much of the festivities of our annual Frontier Days. I'll see what I can do about getting some pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Like hoaxes around the world - bug-eyed aliens in Area 51, crop circles in England, a monster in Loch Ness - Bigfoot was once a something of a folk legend in the redwood forest region. These ideas have been useful for marketing and tourism in their various locales, and some people have sadly taken them all too seriously. Thirty or forty years ago, there was a counterculture/back-to-the-land/new settler/hippie collective/commune over near the coast called "Bigfoot," but with a wink I'm sure. However, you don't hear about this old myth very often any more. Unless you happen to pass closely by the empty market building behind the Hotel Van, you probably wouldn't give him a second thought. The vivid teal green and yellow are actually a reference to the local high school colors.
BigfootMural Jigsaw PuzzleBigfootMural Jigsaw Puzzle

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


A while back, I encountered a man who had rigged up his own electric car with the added functional virtue of charging itself with powerful solar panels on its roof. He said his initial investment in components (superduper batteries, photovoltaics) may have been expensive compared to Petroleum burning cars, but now he never has to pay for fuel, since he doesn't even have to plug it in. I wish I knew how to make one.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

July Theme Day: "No...!"

The lion at the entrance to Howard Memorial Hospital serves as an extra warning not to park in the emergency access lane.

To see how over 150 other City Daily Photo Bloggers interpreted this month's theme, click here to view thumbnails for all participants.