Friday, November 22, 2013


I’ve had the same mailing address since 1969. My folks had to get a po box for the brace shop after the earthquake. The building got torn down We had two earthquakes in Santa Rosa on the night of October 2, 1969 registering, like, 5.6 and 5.7 on the Richter Scale. I remember my sister was on the toilet for the first one. It splashed her on her butt. My mom, all 5'2" of her, ran to the kitchen to try and hold the cabinets shut. My dad ran out to the deck to see what he could, and saw a flash of light from town. I sat there on the floor like a dummy. By the time it was over, I'd finally figured out that I was supposed to be under my desk, or a doorway, so something. We all got in Mom’s ’68 Plymouth (read: ‘Boat’) and went downtown to check out the shop and clean up the mess. There was plaster on the floor, mostly along the edges. The machinery was fine. Shit got knocked over, but I don’t recall seeing any major damage, which is really amazing because there were huge display windows facing third street and lining the entry to the shop. We’re talkng like eight by ten foot panes or more. They weren’t even cracked. After we checked out the shop, we went to check on my parents’ friend Chuck Chapman’s liquor store out on Cleveland Ave. I guess the place was a shambles – glass and booze all over the floor. That’s where I first heard “I’d like to have helped clean up, but I was afraid I’d cut my tongue. On the way back home, we stopped so Dad could check on his friends Bob and Dieter at The Black Forest Inn. That’s when the second quake hit. My mom, my sister, and I are sitting in the boat (remember the ’68 Plymouth ?) and it starts rocking like a bouy in a storm and my mom yells at me “Randy, stop rocking the car!” And I answered “Mom, I’m not doin’ it!” Dad came out the big black wooden doors first and headed straight for one of the columns supporting the roof to hold on to. Bob and Dieter followed him out and saw Dad hugging that column, and from that day on gave him credit for holding up the building. When we went into town the next morning, third street, where the shop was, was a mess. Part of the wall above the Miramar had fallen. I saw a corner of the building fall off later that afternoon while KGO was interviewing my parents. (An interesting note: I never realized my dad had an accent till I heard that interview on TV. Really.) The bottom floor of our building looked OK, but in the apartments upstairs, there was a gap a foot wide between the wall and the ceiling. So they tore the building down. The Till Two, The Court Market, Western Union, and all the apartments with newly acquired skylights, along with our shop, I’m not sure, but I figure the market probably closed. Western Union went somewhere – they still mattered in those days. PG&E had some kind of offices there. I’m not sure what happened to them, but I think they got torn down, too, and Pac Bell, or whatever they were called at the time, expanded into their space. That’s the only building that survived – what’s g.enerally regarded as the ugliest building in town. Go figure. I think Till Two relocated somewhere down Santa Rosa Ave. So did Lou Saare. We found a place in a little strip mall across the creek from Memorial Hospital, down the row from the Music Box, a bar where the Raiders hung out when they trained at the El Rancho. Of course, while my parents looked for a new place, they needed a place to get their mail, so they got a box at the main post office. That’s where I get my mail

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I've seen the sun look like this. It was in 1964. I remember there were a lot of fires in the hills above Rincon Valley when I was a kid. Usually they burned ten or fifteen acres of somebody's pasture where some teenagers were smoking or lighting off fireworks. Rincon Valley Volenteer Fire Department would come out with their engines and dads would head up the hill with wet blankets and shovels, and a brigade of kids with shovels or hoes or maybe nothing at all would be stationed a safe distance from the flames. 1964 was different. The Hanley Fire burned 52,000 acres from Mt. St Helena to Brush Creek Road. The Nunn fire was spreading east from Kenwood. We all listened to KSRO to find out how close the fires were. They reported that they were evacuating Community Hospital. (Or County Hospital, or Sutter, or whatever.) Folks were watering their roofs. Highway 12 was crowded with evacuees. We sat at the top of our hill looking out over the valley and watched the red glow, sometimes an occasional flare when an oak tree burned. Or maybe a barn or a house. We'd have seen the same looking east if the the hills hadn't blocked our view. More than 300 structures burned, 150 homes. I was more afraid then than I've ever been. The next day, half the desks at Sequoia Elementary were empty. We knew where the fire had burned - we could see it. We knew whose ranches were burned. Those kids weren't at school that day. And as the sun lowered into the smoke-filled horizon, it became an orange disc in a haze of grey. Much like the picture.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hi wine lovers. I work in a pretty premium winery in Russian River Valley. If you know me, you know where. I'm gonna ask my boss if I can use real vineyard names and stuff, but wineries get pretty hush hush about stuff this time of year. Last year I wrote a running commentary on my facebook page during crush. I'm going to do it here this year so I can reach a broader audience. Also so I don't bore all my thirty or so facebook friends with all this winery shit. That said, we finished bottling yesterday and we got grapes today. We don't bottle a lot of wine, so we don't have our own bottling line. We bring in a mobile line, built into a semi trailer. Of course, they schedule their work months in advance. So they pulled out yesterday, and grapes came today. Grapes aren't as predictable. We got a little under four tons from our 'Reserve' vineyard. I think a lot of wineries use 'Reserve' either for a blend that they think represents their best or a blend of things that can't stand on their own. We have a vineyard that's kind of inside another vieyard (?) that we call 'Reserve'. Since I've been at the winery, we've only put it into our non-vineyard blend. We got a little under four tons of Reserve today. Little tiny clusters of little tiny berries, I was told. I don't know the brix yet, and I don't know if I could tell you anyway, but they tasted nice and sweet and kind of like blackberries, to me.