They’re Back! Tag!! We’re It!!!

Graffiti and other forms of vandalism seem to be a part of urban life these days.  On the East Side of Petaluma, I have noticed a sudden up-tick in graffiti (gang and tagger crews) in our public parks and trails…

They're Back! 002They're Back! 003

And if they tire of painting their symbols on public or private property, there is always a public toilet somewhere that can be turned over for sport…

They're Back! 004

A recent column in the Press Democrat reported that there was also an increase in graffiti in Santa Rosa.  The  article argued that graffiti could be reduced if we just provided a space for the “graffiti artists” to perform.

Of course, art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  I wonder what the columnist would think of this piece of  “art”…

They're Back! 005

Sigh…

It’s looking to be another long…hot…summer on the East Side…

They're Back! 007

Petaluma’s Wine Newsletter

Yesterday’s post on how to determine whether wine has gone bad, prompted me to create a new category to which future posts by Petaluma’s Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino may be found.

A few details on the Instituto…

  • The Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino is located in the Casa Madrone de Vin Ordinaire.
  • The Instituto has a Tasting Room–La Centre de l’Experience du Vin de Petaluma.

The Instituto’s  Champagne is only a bubble off!

Our vino has much “gout de terroir.”

Our grapes have no wrath.

The Instituto will issue an “irregular” newsletter each Monday…or Tuesday…from time to time…if we feel like it.

Until next time…

Petaluma’s Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino

Chief Wino &  Solo Vine Manager (We have only one vine)–Frank
First Secretary-Vinnie Parducci
Second Secretary- Guido Marcucci
Third Secretary-Gustav Von Da Vee
Treasurer-Minnie Da Moocher
Counsel–Horace Rumpole of Chateau Fleet Street Claret
Vat & Barrel Managers-Jay Gaulo
Restaurant Manager-Al Fresco
Food Director–Sushi Tira-Misu
Director, Financial Planning-Two Fingers (as in “a-one-a,” “a-two-a”) Sabastiani
Director of Protocol & Arbiter of Taste–Marthe Stuarda
Tour Director-Expresso Camino Freeway
Movie & Video Critic-Francois Fjord
Bouncer–Sumo Cum Laude “Big Fish” Sashimi
Chats du Vin Extraordinaire—Hannah Sue & Gracie Mae (The Claret Kitties)
Tristan E. Isolde-Director of Cheap & Trashy Personal Counseling
Enchy Latta—Director of Catering
Jerry Attrick–Senior Citizen Wine Consultant

Petaluma’s Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino

Petaluma is in “wine country” and as such presents many opportunities to enjoy some of California’s liquid fruit of the vine.  There is a very interesting wine institute (fictional, of course) in Petaluma that enhances the wine experience.  Consider this recent newsletter…

________

Members frequently ask how does one determine if a newly opened bottle of wine has gone bad

Here are a few tips from our staff…

Subtle Hints

  1. The fumes cause the California authorities to issue an emergency “Spare the Air” day alert.
  2. The cat runs TOWARDS you seeking protection.
  3. The bottom of the bottle falls out when you pick it up.
  4. Your guests insist upon an independent taster before sipping.
  5. Twenty men in white protective suits from the state environmental toxic spill authority appear at your front door.

Strong Hints

  1. The police raid your house searching for a Meth Lab.
  2. You open the refrigerator and find that the contents of the wine bottle have eaten through the bottle, fridge and floor taking out four apartments below you.
  3. Representatives from the Chinese Army offer you $6 Million for the bottle.
  4. Erroneous seismic readings of 7 or higher are reported everytime you pick up the bottle–and you did not feel a thing.
  5. Your cat starts to bark when you open the bottle.

Irrefutable Evidence

  1. You hear the theme from Ghostbusters when you open the bottle.
  2. The independent taster dies.
  3. Twenty men in white protective suits with radiation badges and Geiger counters from the Atomic Energy Commission appear at your front door.

Officers & Staff  of The Internationale Instituto De Vino Wino

 La Centre de l’Experience du Vin de Petaluma

Chief Wino &  Solo Vine Manager (We have only one vine)–Frank
First Secretary-Vinnie Parducci
Second Secretary- Guido Marcucci
Third Secretary-Gustav Von Da Vee
Treasurer-Minnie Da Moocher
Counsel–Horace Rumpole of Chateau Fleet Street Claret
Vat & Barrel Managers-Jay Gaulo
Restaurant Manager-Al Fresco
Food Director–Sushi Tira-Misu
Director, Financial Planning-Two Fingers (as in “a-one-a,” “a-two-a”) Sabastiani
Director of Protocol & Arbiter of Taste–Marthe Stuarda
Tour Director-Expresso Camino Freeway
Movie & Video Critic-Francois Fjord
Bouncer–Sumo Cum Laude “Big Fish” Sashimi
Chats du Vin Extraordinaire—Hannah Sue & Gracie Mae (The Claret Kitties)
Tristan E. Isolde-Director of Cheap & Trashy Personal Counseling
Enchy Latta—Director of Catering
Jerry Attrick–Senior Citizen Wine Consultant

Petaluma–On The Ligther Side

From time to time, I come across scenes that make me chuckle.  In these times of economic crisis, layoffs, and general malaise, I think it best to be reminded that there is a ligther side to life.

In short, a little “whimsy” goes a long way these days!

Consider this sign in front of one of our churches…

Fat Cat Cat Mint May 24 2009 001

…and on the flip side…

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Neighborhood cats still enjoy the intoxicating qualities of cat mint…

Fat Cat Cat Mint May 24 2009 003

…with the usual catmint hangover…

Fat Cat Cat Mint May 21 2009 026

Blight–Graffiti & Trash Creeping Back…

For several years I documented the progress of graffiti and  trash in our public areas, trails, and parks.  Over the last few months, it seemed as if these symptoms of urban blight were on the decline. A tribute, perhaps, to the various volunteer efforts to clean up our parks and trails.

Granted, I  severely restricted my surveys and searches for such scenes starting last year as it was pointless–not to mention, risky–to pursue the subject any further.  I did take some solace that  the frequency of these “incidents”  seemed to be trending downward. 

This morning I was reminded that graffiti and public trash are still around. It was too obvious to ignore…

Gang Graffiti In A Park

Lucchesi Park May 20 2009 001Lucchesi Park May 20 2009 002Lucchesi Park May 20 2009 003

Soccer Field Trash

On the soccer field in the same park, trash was blowing across the field…

Lucchesi Park May 20 2009 004Lucchesi Park May 20 2009 005

As least I did not find any swastikas or other “hate” graffiti. For those interested in a photo documentary of hate graffiti in Petaluma, go to Petaluma Swastikas & Racial Tags.

Petaluma Gets Its Sheet (Mulch) Together…

More and more people have been acting to reduce or eliminate their lawns–not a bad idea in our part of the world considering our water supply limitations and drought conditions. I have reason to believe that Petaluma’s Stage One Emergency Contingency Plan for water use reduction may be called into play sooner rather than later. I suspect that Stage Two may not be far behind.

Recently, the City of Petaluma decided to join the sheet-mulching lawn conversion community after persuasion by Trathen Heckman, Daily Acts and David Iribarne, Water Conservation Coordinator for the City of Petaluma. 

The first sheet-mulching project on city property was at the Cavanagh Recreation Center in Petaluma, May 15-17… 

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Yovanna Biebereich provides the background for this project in her recent Argus Courier Article

Over the hot weekend, volunteers and members of Daily Acts transformed the almost 2000 sq ft. of turf using the sheet mulching technique. Several landscapers and landscaping companies also donated their time.  Other landscapers/permaculturalists did the design work, mainly Erik Ohlson of Permaculture Artisans and Patrick Picard of Equinox Landscapes.

Approximately 150 people registered and/or participated in some or all of the events and workshops related to the event…Day 1  May 15 001

Even better, some pledged to get rid of their lawns (Names redacted by yours truly)…

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On Saturday, Mayor Torliatt stopped by to check things out…Day 2  May 16 007

The volunteers braved the heat (assisted by occasional cooling hosings) to complete the project…

End of The Day 016End of The Day 020

The temperature presented a bit of a challenge, particularly on Sunday, when it hit 96 degrees as measured by my thermometer.  I did manage to collect photos from all three days to document the transformation of the lawn areas.

To get a sense of the day, you can view the photo album by Clicking Here.  When the program opens, take advantage of the full screen option.

OTHER LINKS

From Lawn To Natural Landscape

In a little over a year and a half, we converted over 1000 sq. ft. of lawn to a low water natural landscape.  The process was described in detail in a series of  articles on  Petaluma 360, which have been converted to a single article which can be viewed by clicking on Journal Of A Lawn Junkie

Today, our “Habitat” (the former front lawn) is now well established with low water plantings. This new “environment” is also “home” to bees and numerous visiting birds–not to mention the occasional neighborhood cat who stops by for an occasional catmint nibble. At present, maintenance requirements consist of monitoring, pruning, and occasional watering. It has been quite an adventure and we have NO regrets…

Habitat 1Habitat 1Habitat 1

However, the “Habitat” concept is not always understood.

  • Last year, several lawn care companies stopped by and offered to place new sod in my front lard.
  • A week ago, a truck stopped and the driver offered to provide “fresh organic dirt” to refresh the landscape. Obviously, the driver did not appreciate the finer qualities of Sonoma Compost products! 

But the best was a door to door salesman who walked past the above scenes to leave this brochure…

Habitat 1

Sigh… 

Some people are unclear on the concept of low water habitat lansscaping…

On the other hand, some pedestrians are literally knocked out of their shoes when they see the Habitat…

Habitat 1

Petaluma’s Streetwalkers–Working for Pennies

STREETWALKING…For Pennies

It is an understatement to say these are tough times for most of us. Everyone I know has cut back dramatically.  People are clipping coupons, staying home and digging in couches and chairs for any change that may have fallen under the cushions.

There is another group of people who walk the streets of Petaluma, day & night, scrounging for cans and plastic bottles.  I have seen the same individuals on both sides of town carrying multiple plastic bags that get larger and heavier as the day progresses…

StreetWalker

At night they look like characters in some medieval village…

Pix A

When enough cans and bottles have been secured, they are compressed before taking to a recycling center for redemption…

PIX B  

This is how some are surviving in today’s Petaluma…crunching cans and bottles…

PIX C

Mayor’s Bike Ride…2009

The  E-mail notice announced the  Mayor’s Bike Ride in Petaluma…

May 9, 2009 at 10:00 am
Meet in the parking lot of the former Mervyn’s building
An easy,  flat 7 mile bike ride.
Fun for all ages and wear your helmets!
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As advertised,  people of all ages showed up to take part in the ride that was planned and organized by Becky Schuerman Choi. Becky is  seen below getting folks together and on the road…
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The weather was perfect–not too warm and not too cool.  

For some reason, this is one of my best memories of the ride…

Collage 2

For a complete album of photos and “Frank’s Famous (Infamous?) Photo Collages” from the ride  CLICK HERE  When the Album opens, select the full screen option.

COUPONS–Ya Gotta Be Careful!

COUPONS! $10 off! $20 off!

40% Coupon & Fourth of July Day Sale!

EXTRA 15% off everything, plus get $10 for every $50 you spend!

While they have always been around, lately there seems to be a tidal wave of coupons and “promo codes” coming in the mail, e-mail, and the newspaper. It is a reflection of our economic times with retailers in Petaluma and throughout Sonoma County doing what they can to encourage people to get out there and shop.

100 Early Bird Specials + Extra 20% Off In Our Stores & Online

We lower over 6,000 prices every week. Dare to compare again!Discount 002

Marketwatch reported on this phenomenon in Retailers try new tricks amid global downturn…

“In response to rising job losses and the declining stock and housing markets, three quarters of consumers have significantly or somewhat changed their shopping behavior–trimming purchases, increasingly seeking deals and coupons, and trading down to cheaper store brands, according to the Retail Forward survey of 4,000 U.S. primary household shoppers.”

Link: MarketWatch–by Andrea Cheng March 24, 2009

Coupons do offer a chance to stretch your dollar. However, there are a few cautions:

1. Make sure that you get credit for the coupon at checkout.  Sometimes the local registers have not been programmed to process the coupon or the clerk may inadvertently enter it incorrectly.

  • In one store, we received credit for a $10  coupon but were also  overcharged $24.01 due to scanning errors. We caught the mistakes after we returned home.  The store was extremely courteous in making a refund.
  • In another store they failed to credit a $10 coupon–in the process of correcting the mistake, they refunded $10.78.

2. Safeway Gas Cards are a great deal if you live near a gas station where you can redeem the gas credits or are able to plan a stop during a regular trip. Otherwise, they may not be much of a bargain if you are driving 20 miles round trip just to get a few dollars of free gasoline.

3. Above all, don’t use coupons or discount offers as an excuse to go shopping. They only represent a savings if you were going to buy something in the first place.