Sunday, August 31, 2008

Study in Yellow, Gray, and Green

This long vacant storefront has a new tenant, and reminds me I have a watch in need of a battery. From the sidewalk on the other side of Main Street, the lines and colors just grabbed me. I created an album of variations using Photoshop Elements, which you can see by clicking on the image below. I suggest the slideshow mode when you get there. Any favorites?

Study in Yellow, Gray, and Green

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Air We Breathe

The play equipment area at City Park as been refurbished and fenced in recent years. I suppose it helps keep kids from running into the not always quiet streets, given their still developing sense of consequences. The No Smoking sign is for those adults who should know the hazards very well by now, but just don't seem to think.

Unlike July, August has been a very good month for breathing, and while we still have dry weeks ahead of us before the protective rain comes, so far we haven't endured any more fire-starting lightning strikes. May the clear air continue.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ice Cream Remedy

It has been hot, hot, hot in Willits (107F) for the last few days, so a salubrious visit to JD Redhouse for some ice cream is just the relief anyone could need. Sweets, pet supplies, blue jeans, and horse tack, all in one place. I found a nice little tooled leather billfold that I just had to have, and then settled down for some deliciously zippy ginger ice cream. Here's the Animoto of more pictures.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Street Names

Way back in the early days of Willits, the settlers/developers decided to name many of their streets after some counties in the region. So we have Mendocino, Humboldt, Marin, Alameda, and San Francisco Avenues mixed among more generically named Valley, Redwood, State, Commercial, School and Main Streets, to name just a few. Over in Mendocino village on the coast, the streets are named after various towns in the county, so they have Ukiah, Covelo, Albion, and Little Lake Streets (Little Lake was absorbed into the Willits[ville] charter). But it seems to me that this could have been confusing for postal delivery, back when handwritten envelopes may not have followed a completely standardized format, and may not have been clearly written, or been water smudged. I can only imagine it could be something like the famous Abbott and Costello routine, "Who's On First?". Thank goodness for postal codes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Year of the Potato

I'm not kidding. The United Nations declared 2008 the International Year of the Potato. I've known it for a while, because before I had this blog, I used to read a lot more of the eclectic articles vetted by Arts & Letters Daily. There are thousands of varieties, and they all started as wild plants in Peru and the surrounding mountainous countries of South America. As for this picture, well, I was just enjoying that dappled light at the farmer's market.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Open Government

Willits is a small town, and the city council members have regular "day jobs" in addition to their responsibility to govern city functions for a population of just over 5000 people or so. They also do not have office space of any kind provided at City Hall. So our mayor, Holly Madrigal, decided to set up "office hours" to meet with any local citizens with questions or concerns or congratulations. You'll find her at her desk at the weekly farmer's market, providing a model of open government.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hair Coloring

I only get my hair cut at Jixi Salon, but they offer a range of other beauty and spa services as well, including hair coloring as pictured here. They've just moved into a nice new location with lovely landscaping and big windows all around. I also like the products they use, without heavy synthetic smells slamming your senses. I've tried some hair color adventures in my day, but I'm currently content with my natural two-tone silver and brown. You simply can't get that look reproduced in any salon, anywhere. Even one as good as Jixi.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Solar Panels

The days are growing noticeably shorter here in the northern hemisphere, but, as is typical in California, we will get little rain before November. A local electrician smartly collects as much energy from the sun as he can, for as long as he can, on the roof of his workshop.

I'll be out of town for a few days - Mom's 80th birthday!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Centennial Monument

Situated at the center of Bud Snider Park (sometimes called City Park), this marker was set in place in 1988, the 100 year anniversary of the official cityhood of Willits. I suppose the wide ring of railing protects it, a bit, from casual vandalism. With the current drought, and mandatory water rationing, I suppose flower beds would be impractical. At the far boundary of the park, you can see the Farmer's Market at full thrust on a hot summer afternoon.

I'll be out of town for a few days - Mom's 80th birthday today!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cutter Lumber Co. Pallets

All those thousands of pallets scooped up by thousands of forklift drivers in warehouses from here to Timbuktu have to come from somewhere. Cutter Lumber, just to the west of town, is one of the manufacturers. I found truckloads of them, ready to ship out.

I'll be out of town for a few days - Mom's 80th birthday!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Shanachie Pub Sign in Summer

I recently noticed how gloriously colorful the warm and friendly Shanachie Pub's sign is, with the carefully tended flower baskets the owner graciously places at all his properties. I didn't do it justice back around St Patrick's Day, so I decided to post it again now. You can also see the interior from a few months ago.

I'll be out of town for a few days - Mom's 80th birthday!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ells Field

Ells Field is the municipal airstrip serving the Willits area these days. It used to be on the floor of the valley, but apparently the winter fog made it difficult to use year round, so this mountain ridge shoulder was found about three miles out of town, and has been in use for several decades. For over a month, it was a staging site for the helicopter crews fighting the Mendocino Lightning Complex fires. A blogger called Chopper Chick described her experiences of that event.

Although the gate to the runway and pilot facilities was wide open when I visited, signs on the fence indicated that I would be shot, arrested, and then shot again (by the Feds) if I dared to enter without authorization. I was too afraid to take pictures of the signs.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Valley Oak Branches in Summer

I showed some lichen earlier in the year, and here you can see it steadily holding on even after months and months without rainfall. It is harmless to this magnificent Valley Oak (Qurecus lobata), which was an important source of acorns for the Pomo people. The dark green moss on its bark gives added contrast in the range of textures and colors.

ValleyOakBranches Jigsaw PuzzleValleyOakBranches Jigsaw Puzzle

Monday, August 18, 2008

Rasta Shop

Few Jamaicans or Ethiopians live in Mendocino county, but the exotic Rastafari motif is popular among many of the semi-illegal herb growers and users. This shop, in part of the Van Hotel building, caters to those seeking Bob Marley t-shirts and hemp fiber textiles, among other things. The enormity of the shadow economy in Mendocino cannot be overstated.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Willits Starbucks

Poking around Wikipedia on the heels of yesterday's post, I looked at the Safeway, Inc. article. The Willits location was one of the supermarkets getting the Safeway "lifestyle" overhaul, resulting in a more attractive physical plant, as well as the installation of a Starbucks kiosk and expanded bakery and deli services. It's a big chain in the western US, headquartered in northern California, and used to extend even overseas. It's also a big employer here in town, with union protection for its workers. But the local Mariposa Market, which sells organic and often regionally sourced products, is expanding as well, and plans to be moved into its larger new building before the end of the year.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Think Local

There has been an effort to raise community awareness of local businesses in Willits, and the economic importance of spending dollars at these places, where the dollars will recirculate within the community at a much higher rate than is true of big "chain" stores. So, for example, when I buy ice cream at JD Redhouse or books at Leaves of Grass, no portion of that money goes off to pay dividends to corporate shareholders. When a local family makes a profit, they obviously are more likely to spend part of that money here. The boardroom giants in New York (or wherever) will not. The bumper sticker on this bike says "Think Local, Buy Local, Be Local".

Friday, August 15, 2008


Last week, I found several Datura plants growing in the same vacant automotive service development as pictured here and here. It is deadly, unless you don't take quite enough to kill you. In that case, it's highly hallucinogenic, and has a long history of use for religious, and even defensive, reasons (disabling the enemy). By looking at the leaves, it seems these are Datura innoxia, a different species of Datura than Jimson Weed, which has spiny leaves and is found in desert regions. Having said that, I don't believe this is native to Little Lake Valley, so I must assume it would have been planted for its decorative qualities.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Willits News

The Willits News has been in print since 1903, and currently publishes on Wednesday and Friday each week. Once upon a time, all the small town newspapers were independently owned and operated, but in an era of rising costs and competing media, this paper is owned by the same corporation that owns the Ukiah Daily Journal, the Fort Bragg Advocate, and the Mendocino Beacon among others. But we are lucky to have a news publication serving such a small community at all, and it is the place to look for truly local news.

The window of their office is filled with old typewriters and other equipment once used by the paper, giving a sense of continuity with the past.

I’m out of town for a few days, so won’t be able to respond until I get back. Thank you for your visits.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Luvya 57

I saw this fine looking car in a fenced field a while back. I hope it gets on its feet again before too long.

I’m out of town for a few days, so won’t be able to respond until I get back. Thank you for your visits.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Market Pendants

The Willits Farmer's Market includes vendors who are decidedly not farmers, but offer a refreshing variety of handcrafted goods. While I continue to take weekly deliveries of a half bushel basket of bio-dynamically grown produce from Live Power Farm, thanks to folks like this jewelry seller, I still can find tables of other items of interest to browse. I can't always make it to Bud Snider Park (also called City Park) before it closes down, but when I do, I can count on many friendly faces under the shelter of tall, arching trees.

I’ll be out of town for a few days, so won’t be able to respond until I get back. Thank you for your visits.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Elusive Sorrel

I have been trying for months to get a good shot of horses being ridden downtown, after someone mentioned they thought that would be unusual to see. I have especially wanted to get a picture of a horse going by the window of Ardella's Diner, and that has become a standing joke, for the many times I've missed it. Well, today when I finished breakfast, and the diner had closed down, I got in my little truck and started away, when Behold!, there was the beautiful sorrel (red) horse and rider I wanted to catch!

The horse always continues at a pretty steady walk, which I discovered is quite the moving target when you have my limited skills. The gal asked me what the photo was for as she passed by, but then she explained "He doesn't stop for anyone...." So I answered her question as she rode away. "It's for my Blaaaaaaahg! My Blaaaaaaahg!" I hollered over the sound of passing traffic, as I watched her and her horse shrinking into the distance. So I didn't get the name of the horse or the rider. I could not decide which shot to put up front here, but ultimately this one made it to Daily Photo because it shows Highway 101/Main Street at its most starkly urban self, contrasted with the horse. The other contenders are in my Overflow. And yes, for the Animoto fans, the Sorrel in Animoto.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I love the looks of this "craftsman style" building. It has a small plaque saying it was build in 1905, one year before the massive earthquake that shook not only San Francisco, but Santa Rosa, Ukiah, and Willits. The brick facade of a hotel in town collapsed and killed a man, the temblor was so strong. Many brick chimneys fell down as well. But this office building must have weathered the shake, probably with some repair. I'm told it started out as quarters for Northwestern Redwood Company, not to be confused with the railroad company, and is located at the intersection of Commercial Street and the railroad line, diagonally across from the train station. It still seems to be in use, but I don't know who occupies it now.

For information about the Craftsman era of architecture, check out what Laurie said on her blog, Glimpses of South Pasadena

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Blueberry Days

Watchful neighbors of City Park will notice some evenings when an odd assemblage of grown men and women just seem to "turn up" at one edge, some sitting in their cars, or standing in solitude several yards from each other. Several might gather along a particular fence rail, fewer still on the picnic table bench across the street. Are these kidnappers planning their next move? Or maybe undercover agents on a stakeout? Or a strange religious cult in meditation? The names of the folks pictured here rhyme with Ursula, Greg, and Mary.

No, I can tell you, these people are actually waiting for the delivery van carrying the much longed-for blueberries they ordered for the summer, back when the bees hadn't even touched the flowers. Gloria, our farmer, brings our vegetables down from Covelo, then continues south to Ukiah, drops off more veg to subscribers there while she meets up with the blueberry producer from Boonville, then comes back up to Willits with our shares of the berries on a second "drop". Don't tell Gloria, but sometimes when she's late coming back, the motley crew of farm sustainers has a little more reason to chat. "Is she supposed to be here at eight?" and "I hope she's okay." See an Animoto visual show of the action when Gloria finally arrives, and we reach to receive our food from the hand of the farmer.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tie Dye

Several of the clothing shops on the Main Street promenades have made a habit of showing their wares out on the awnings, easily attracting the eyes and the feet of passers-by to take a closer look. Mendocino county is famous for wine, redwoods, and, uh, the lingering hippies of a generation ago. Mad About Tye Dye [sic] still offers these vintage looking garments, and certainly everybody should have at least one.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Lamb On a Stroll

That's right, fleece on a leash. I'm a glutton for mutton, but I wonder if this means this pet has a name. I see a week of chicken dinners ahead of me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

All Others Will Be Toad

I'm sure this is a common joke sign available in novelty shops in any number of cities around the country. (Click on the image to enlarge it.) But how many of you can say it has been intentionally and officially installed in the parking lot of your county justice center and city hall? I know, some of you locals worry that if I keep blogging these things, everyone will want to move here.

[Edit Aug 7] I just found a similar sign on Cheltenham Daily Photo this week!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

In Residence Since 1916

I wandered down a street I had not explored since starting Willits Daily Photo, and found an unexpected sight. The strip of white trim-board over the front steps says members of the same family have been in residence there since 1916. Modern American life is usually full of grown children moving away to jobs in other towns, and even other states. Somehow this family has maintained a steady economic foothold for at least one offspring in each generation over the last century. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you may even see somebody on the porch.

Monday, August 4, 2008

August Evening Art

Saturday evening, I ventured out to investigate the music on offer at the Mendonesia Cafe, and my trek took me right past the Willits Center for the Arts. Music was playing, people were gathering, and the place just glowed with a reception for a new show by three artists, "I Dreamed I Was Not Alone". Sheri Howe, Jim Shorba, and Cynda Valle are all local, and very interesting. I've got an Animoto of more pictures, or you can view full sized images on my Overflow.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Mendonesia Wall

I strolled past the open door of Mendonesia Cafe recently, and spotted the late afternoon sun illuminating the interior wall through a window I photographed before. The owner currently displays artwork done by some Mendocino College painting students.

Last night, an accordionist named Amber Lee rocked the house.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


The Ukiah Mac Users Group actually holds half its monthly meetings in Willits, a half hour drive north of Ukiah. These are the ones I attend, even though my iMac desktop doesn't transport, so stays at home. But there are always plenty of laptop users, and one of them will hook up to a projector for viewing what is on screen. The Apple site is almost always useful when new products are the topic of interest, or if someone has a question about how to use one of the many programs or functions. Plus, we are usually joined by Bob Laughton, the host of Point and Click Radio on KZYX. He is always upbeat, and a total Mac enthusiast, with knowledge of how to do just about anything. He has suffered through many of my latest online discoveries, as I bounce in my chair and ask if he's seen the Jackson Pollock paint dribble site, or would he like to make recordings for Librivox, or has he played miniature golf, or explored Universal Leonardo? And Willits Daily Photo? And the City Daily Photo Blogs? And you must take a look at Dreamlines and the Deleted Images gallery or WordCount...

Friday, August 1, 2008

August Theme Day: Metal

I've been too timid to ask anyone what these tube vents are for, but they and the door are metal, painted a brilliant blue. There's no doorknob, only a key operated lock. It's at the back of a clothing shop. I wonder what would happen if you just reached in...

The first day of every month is a Theme Day among City Daily Photo Bloggers like me. This time around, 183 have signed up to interpret "metal". Click here to view thumbnails for all the participants. You will find yourself on a wonderful journey around the world.