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    Their mascot says it all: You show the world. You are the Phoenix.

    They come to Pacific Grove Community High School for many reasons, but they’re all going places when they graduate. On their last day of high school, they were finishing up their yearbook and looking forward to the summer vacation. Younger students were working on the computers, painting banners, reading. The students are self-motivated and have diverse skills and aspirations, and the best part is that they all seem to be friends.

    L-R front row: Jenna Rambo, Joey Davies, Persis Tomingas, Kyle Sumpter. L-R, back row: Chris Butler, Mikey Selbicky. Top, Michaela Miller. Bottom, Petika Hilton.

    L-R front row: Jenna Rambo, Joey Davies, Persis Tomingas, Kyle Sumpter. L-R, back row: Chris Butler, Mikey Selbicky. Top, Michaela Miller. Bottom, Petika Hilton.

    Read more…»

    Pacific Grove History, The news from 1912

    PGHS Class of ’09 Valedictorian: Jeehee Cho

    By Cameron Douglas

    In the summer before her seventh grade, Jeehee Cho moved from Pleasant Grove, Utah, to Pacific Grove, California. Since then, her academic and athletic achievements have accelerated to the honor of class Valedictorian for 2009. Jeehee took time out from her busy schedule to stop in and chat with Cedar Street Times.cho

    CST: What motivates you?

    CHO: Education is a big part of the Korean culture. My dad came to the U.S. to go to graduate school at Brigham Young University, and decided to stay because there are so many educational opportunities in this country. He wanted his children to have that. Education has been a really big part of our family. My parents have always supported me through it. They’ve never pressured me. They just told me to do my best. Going off to college, I take that same idea. I want to gain a better understanding of everything that’s going on. I want to have enough education to educate my children as well.

    CST: Are you thinking of home schooling at some point? Read more…»

    Scholarships, honors for PGHS 2009 graduates

    At a special reception on May 19, 2009 for seniors, their parents and guests, a number of scholarships and awards were presented to graduating Pacific Grove High School seniors. The awards were presented by the donors, faculty and staff. We are pleased to present the list of donors and recipients.

    Pacific Grove Rotary Club Scholarship …………………………Anna Spade & Alexander Spears
    Presenter: Stephanie Lee

    A T & T Pebble Beach Junior Golf Assoc. Junior Golf Scholarship ………..Michael Yanoska
    Presenter: Ted Hollister, DVM

    Granite Construction Company Golden Rule Leadership Award ……………..Lillian Clements
    Presenter: Spencer Wright

    C.L. & Mary Dean Kier Scholarship…………………………………… …………………..Sarah Dennis
    Presenter: Ms. Lou Godfrey & Mr. Sam Kier

    Pacific Grove Masonic Lodge Scholarship #331 ……………………… Alison Lord, Anna Spade
    Presenters: David Salinger & Kurt Ferguson

    Monterey County Association of Realtors Scholarship ………………………….Brandon Cepress
    Presenter: Ms. Noni McVey

    First United Methodist Church …………………………………………………Uri Hong & Jeehee Cho,
    Presenter: Sam & Betty Kier Read more…»

    “Tiny Treasures” Miniatures Show and fundraiser at PG Art Center

    One of our most popular events, the “Tiny Treasures” Miniatures Show is also a major fundraiser for the Art Center. Thanks to the generosity and support of local artists and donors, we have a wonderful collection of miniature artwork on display again this year. We have received donations in a variety of media, including acrylics, beads, ceramics, collage, crayon, cut paper, digital art, drypoint, encaustic, etchings, glass, gouache, graphite, hand-dyed silk, jade, jewelry, mixed media, monotype, needlework, oils, pastels, pen and ink, photography, stonecast, and watercolors.

    Donations have been received from Juanita Anderson, Robert Armstrong, Jo Dean Axline, Carolyn Berry, Carole Bestor, Joanne Bevilacqua, Meg Biddle, Beverly Borgman, Patricia Borgman, JoAnne Perrault Boulger, Al Brevard, Josie Anne Cameron, Fred Carvell, Clark Coleman, Alex Collier, Noriko Yoshikawa Constant, Debra K. Davalos, The Estate of Dianetha, Phyllis Donohue, Charlene Doran, Tom Dornbach, Michael Duffy, Renee G. Eaton, Sandra Eckhart, Gene Elmore, Edward Eyth, Mark Farina, Snick Farkas, Rene Flippo, Jane Flury, Caroline Gordon, Jacquelyn Haag, Julie Heilman, Mary Hill, Peter Hiller, David Hohmann, Art & Cindy Horning, Peggy Hutton, Rama P. Jama, Barbara Johnson, Cheryl Kampe, Anita Kaplan, Ruby Katayama, Michaela Kempton, Cleo Kent-Davy, Joann Kiehn, Mary Kay King, Carole Klein, Anne Kmetovic, Santoshi Lama, Jim Lambert, Francyne Laney, David Lazarony, Ed Leeper, Brooks Leffler, David Leonard, Jeanne W. Lilly, Laura Lockett, Janet K. Long, Karen Mahaney Low, Elaine Mackoff, Jim Maraccini, Rick McGarrity, Pat McKitrick, Alicia Meheen, George Menasco, Elizabeth Meyer, Barbara Monning, Steven F. Munsie, Delphie Myron-Russell, F Nguyen, Nancy Nix, Arlene Vonnegut Nolan, Barbara Norton, Helen Ogden, Demaris L. Olson, Claire Oppenhuizen, Marie O’Rielly, Andrew Passell, Corazon T. Patricio, Connie Pearlstein, Rita Pescatore, Michelle Pisciotta, Peter Plamondon, Marcia Poroy, Maria Prince, Nancy Raven, Cynthia Ricketts-Wasley, Marybeth Rinehart, Alice Geller Robertson, Paige Robertson, Gary Shallcross, Gloria Shaw, Yana Shevchenko, Peter Silzer, Rebekah Sisk, Susan T. Reith, Patricia Skinner, Tim Sloan, Lesley Anne Spowart, W. F. Stone, Jr., Colleen Sundquist, Pamela Takigawa, Gretchen Taylor, Sheila Tanguy Tracey, Julie Terflinger, Robin Way, Al Weber, Sally Weil, Laura Williams, Don Wobber, Fay Wu, Terrence Zito, Patricia Zobel, Helma Zeuge, and several Anonymous Donors.

    Each piece of art is displayed above a box, into which ticket holders may place raffle tickets. Ticket sales will begin at 7 pm on opening night, Friday, May 29, 2009, and will continue through the drawing at 7 pm on Wednesday evening, July 8th. Tickets are $3 each, or 10 for $25. This is a great opportunity to do some shopping for gifts or for a little something to adorn your own walls. Support the Art Center and have fun at the same time!

    Trees that should never be planted in Pacific Grove

    By Bruce Cowan

    BLUE GUM EUCALYPTUS (Eucalyptus globulus)

    There are roughly 600 species of eucalyptus, all from Australia.  While some, such as red flowering gum, make satisfactory landscape trees, the one most common locally is definitely a problem tree.

    Problems include:

    Huge size and rapid growth–witness the two by the Pacific Grove Post Office, much too large for most yards.

    Branches can break and fall at any time.  Trees can blow over in strong winds, endangering life and  property.

    Bark and leaves litter the landscape and poison soil for other vegetation.  Round seed pods scattered around can cause sprained ankles.

    Extremely invasive–in the forest it crowds out native plants, including pines and oaks.  Under dense groves of blue gum, little will grow but numerous eucalyptus seedlings and poison oak.

    Extremely flammable; Eucalyptus forest fires in Australia are the hottest in the world.

    Cut down for removal, or after a fire, blue gum resprouts and grows quickly with many new trunks.

    Note: While honored as a home for overwintering monarch butterflies, the monarchs actually seem to prefer clustering on pines and cypress at P.G.’s Monarch Sanctuary.  Strong winds can blow butterflies more easily out of eucalyptus than out of pines or cypress, increasing monarch mortality.


    Acacias seen locally are all from Australia.  All have proven to be invasive in our forest, spreading by seed that can last  for decades in the soil.  All have flowers full of allergenic pollen; the pollen is what provides the yellow color.  Most are considered shrubs, not trees.

    BLACK ACACIA (Acacia melanoxylon) is a truly fast growing tree which can be deceptively attractive in early spring with its handsome form and cream colored, pollen-laden flowers.

    Invasive in the forest and in landscapes, it spreads not only by seeds but by suckers that arise from the roots, like bamboo.  One tree can eventually become a dense grove.  No respecter of property lines, black acacia suckers will come up and grow quickly in neighbor’s yards, in shrubs, against home foundations where they will eventually cause considerable damage if not pulled out.  Pulling is a temporary solution, as new suckers rise quickly.  An unwanted black acacia that is cut down for removal soon sprouts even more suckers that quickly become a forest of fast growing acacia trees.

    Blue gum eucalyptus and black acacias are problem trees, not only for the property owner but to neighbors as well, and are a threat to the natural forest.

    A Timeline: Del Monte Hotel and Naval Postgraduate School

    1880.  Charles Crocker, railroad magnate, opens the first Del Monte Hotel.  Three thousand would-be guests more than Crocker has space for apply for rooms that first week of operation.

    1887.  The hotel burns and must be entirely replaced.  One firefighter loses his life during the fire.  The Seventeen Mile Drive opens, wending its way from under the flag at Del Monte to the Lone Cypress in the wilderness park known as Pebble Beach.

    1909.  The school of Naval Marine Engineering opens at Annapolis.  Only ten students are enrolled, but this school is the forerunner of the Naval Postgraduate School.

    1919 – Crocker interests are facing difficult times, financially.  Samuel F. B. Morse gets support and buys the Del Monte.  Hotel property comprises 20,000 acres.

    1924 – Hotel Del Monte again burns.  Its wooden roofing, siding, and framing fuel a second conflagration.  Two wings survive this blaze.

    1926 – Hotel Del Monte reopens.  The hostelry is constructed of non-wood materials so that the structure won’t burn again.

    1943 – Owner Sam Morse offers his hotel to the U. S. Navy after the Japanese attach Pearl Harbor.  The structure houses a pre-flight training program for naval aviators.  Its football team, competing against civilian schools, becomes the terror of the Pacific Coast.

    1951 – The Naval Postgraduate School moves from Annapolis to Monterey.  The long string of canvas-covered trucks resembles, according to one spectator: … another westward migration in Conestogas.

    1954 – The campus master plan is determined.  Seventy distinct programs eventually evolve.  NPS becomes a degree-granting institution.

    1956 – Hotel Del Monte is renamed Herrmann Hall in honor of the admiral in charge of moving the navy’s school.  Much of the hotel’s ambiance is retained.

    2005 – The navy is presented a federal historic preservation grant for work on Herrmann Hall.

    2009 – The Naval Postgraduate school celebrates 100 years.  This year’s Concert on the Lawn (Monterey Symphony) and other Memorial Day activities stress the centennial.

    The Naval Postgraduate School: For 100 years, a shrine to excellence

    Because it’s housed in a historic hotel, spirits of former guests linger to celebrate

    By Jon Roland Guthrie

    Barbara Unger, a public information employee volunteering for service as a Memorial Day tour leader, saved the very best for … well, dead last. 

    That’s when the guide mentioned that in addition to several decades “as the finest resort hotel in the world” plus a half-century housing first the United States Preflight Training Center and then the Naval Postgraduate School, NPS had one little piece of history that should not be left unentombed.

    This venerable structure, formerly the Del Monte Hotel, serves as home to several ghosts.

    “Three of these haunts are most popular,” Unger said.  “These three are named in descriptive terms.  There’s the fireman, the spirit of a person who lost his life battling one of the two conflagrations that swept the facility.  There’s Gentleman in Gray.  And Woman in White.” Read more…»

    Southeast Asia: A Cook’s Paradise

    As the number of Thai and Vietnamese restaurants on the Monterey Peninsula will attest, Americans love Southeast Asian cuisine. According to www.cuisinet.com, Southeast Asia stretches east from India and Bangladesh to the southern border of China, encompassing the mainland countries of Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and the island countries of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. Each country has dishes influenced by its history.  For example, in Indonesia and Malaysia the prevalence of Islam has virtually eliminated pork from the diet.  Vietnamese food retains the flavors of centuries of French occupation and Filipino food is enhanced with Spanish and American accents.

    All Southeast Asian cuisines, however, share many staple ingredients and methods of cooking. A standard Southeast Asian meal strives for a harmonious balance of textures, temperatures and flavors:  hot (spicy), sour, sweet, salty and bitter (optional). These cuisines are known for their liberal use of fresh, not dried, herbs and spices. Fresh cilantro leaves, ginger, lemongrass, chilies, mint and garlic are typical ingredients.

    Lemongrass:  Exotic but Locally Available

    Melissa’s Great Book of Produce reports that lemongrass, widely used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking, is used like an herb to add citrusy tartness and fragrance. It looks a little like an elongated, sturdy green onion.  Lemongrass is fibrous and somewhat woody. Most often it’s the cream-colored bulb at the base that’s used to flavor sauce, soup and curry or in stir-fries and marinades for grilled meats.

    Buying and Storing

    Melissa’s advises to look for firm, unblemished, wrinkle-free stems. The fullest bulbs are most desirable.  Store in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator up to 4 weeks.  Keep dry as moisture causes deterioration. Or freeze finely minced, peeled bulbs (see Preparation) in an airtight container up to 3 months.  Scoop out portions as needed and use frozen.


    Trim off a tiny bit of the bulb’s base if tough.  Use the bottom portion, just 2 – 3 inches of bulb. (The upper portion stalks can be cut into 3-inch pieces, crushed and used to infuse broths and curries. The stalk is removed before serving.) Remove and discard 2 or 3 tough outer layers of bulb.  Place the remaining bulb in a mini food processor and pulse to finely mince.


    Lemongrass is available domestically year round. On the Monterey Peninsula  lemongrass is sold  at Grove Market in Pacific Grove, Nob Hill on Lighthouse in Monterey, Whole Foods in Del Monte Center and Star Market in Salinas.

    Lemongrass-Speared Grilled Chicken Satay with Thai Peanut Sauce

    Recipe courtesy www.globalgourmet.com/food/kgk (Kate’s Global Kitchen food blog)

    This unusual and exotic presentation yields appetizer-size servings.  For a main course, double the recipe and serve with rice. 

    Yield: 4 servings


    Marinade and chicken

    ½ cup canned coconut milk

    ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2 large limes)

    ¼ cup peanut oil

    2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

    1 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger

    1 teaspoon sugar

    ½ teaspoon minced garlic

    4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 4 ounces each)

    4 lemongrass stalks (about 9 inches long)


    1-1/2 cups canned coconut milk

    6 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

    3 tablespoons brown sugar

    3 tablespoons soy sauce

    3 tablespoons minced onion

    2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste              

    1 tablespoon minced garlic                        

    1 tablespoon minced fresh lemongrass

    2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar

    1 teaspoon minced lime zest

    ½ cup minced fresh cilantro leaves

    3 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves


    Place the coconut milk, lime juice, oil, cilantro, ginger, sugar and garlic in a mixing bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar.  Cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 3 strips and let marinate in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 hours.  Remove the outer leaves of each stalk of lemongrass and cut the thinner end at an angle to make lemongrass skewers; set aside.

    To prepare the sauce, place the coconut milk, peanut butter, sugar, soy sauce, onion, curry paste, garlic, lemongrass, vinegar, lime zest, cilantro and basil in a large saucepan.  Bring just to a simmer while stirring but do not boil. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.  Turn off the heat and strain the sauce before serving.

    While the sauce is cooking, thread the marinated chicken strips onto the lemongrass skewers and grill over direct medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until cooked through.  Serve with the warm peanut sauce.

    I found that by soaking the skewers for a little while in water they worked better when threading the chicken.

    Betsy Slinkard Alexander provides freelance writing and public relations services with a focus on the food industry.
     She welcomes your ideas for future columns and can be reached at (831) 655-2098 or betsyslinkard@sbcglobal.net

    East Garrison: the book and its author

    By Jon Roland Guthrie

    A Book Revieweast-garrison-coverweb.jpg

    Gwyn Weger says that her newly released book, East Garrison, was conceived while she was standing at the deeply tinted window in her office, musing while she stared outside into a world shrouded in heavy fog. She wondered what it would be like for someone to be stranded somewhere-anywhere-on the vast outlands of the former Fort Ord, an abandoned military base. She remembers shuddering.

    Gwyn’s mind slipped into the past, to her growing up with an alcoholic father who was fascinated by Nazi ideas, Hitlarian ideals, and WWII memorabilia … counterfeit or not. At one time, Gwyn recalled, her father required his daughter to help fashion fake Nazi mementoes for resale as the genuine articles.

    Her father gradually fleshed out as one of the leading characters for Gwyn’s nascent novel.   Read more…»

    Meet Molly Speacht: PGHS Salutatorian

    By Cameron Douglas

    When the Pacific Grove High School Class of 2009 holds its Commencement, the Salutatorian will be Molly Speacht. (For those who don’t know her, it’s pronounced “Speck.”) Salutatorian is an academic achievement akin to winning a silver medal at the Olympics – no small accomplishment. It’s the latest in a string of successes for Molly, who served as Princess Amethyst in the 2007 Feast of Lanterns Royal Court. Cedar Street Times managed to catch up with Molly and her very busy mom, Lisa Maddalena, of the Pacific Grove Library. Read more…»

     Be Careful What We Wish For—-becoming a green society too often has its unintended pitfalls. 

          Its many important uses propel paper into the forefront of why we must limit its use, and aim to use as much of it in a recycled form as possible. The remnant Boreal Forests in the Northern States, and the larger ones in Canada are rapidly being depleted as they are being felled for making paper pulp. The numerous species of songbirds and both small and large mammals that inhabit these green and beautiful habitats, are losing their homes too rapidly. Many of our so-called winter birds breed in these evergreen coniferous forests, before they migrate here. Species such as Mountain Caribou already severely endangered, are precariously low in numbers in the northern Rockies, and even in Canada, they exist minimally better. Read more…»

    Heritage House Awards 2009

    (pictured award-winning home on Lobos)

    By Cameron Douglas and Darci D’Anna

    More than 60 residents, council members, architects and guests enjoyed the annual awards presentation of the Pacific Grove Heritage Society at the PG Natural History Museum on May 8. Donna Stewart, Maryanne Spradling and Steve Honegger presented awards and thanks to homeowners, architects, builders and others for their hard work. Read more…»

    Stone’s Pet Shop: Love everybody who comes in

    Stone’s Pet Shop is a shining star in a somewhat clouded local retail economy. “We’re growing and thriving,” says Tom Radcliffe, who owns the store with his wife, Louise. “Every month is our best month. … We’re doing just fine.”

    How have they done it? Read more…»

    Dance Show May 26: Senior Project

    Melissa Karasek is putting a lot of her heart and soul into her Pacific Grove High School senior project. The active young woman, along with her friend and team member Tatum May, has produced a dance show which will include no less than twenty numbers, all to benefit the American Cancer Society. Some of the dancers are members of the Breaker Girls dance team, but it is not solely a Breaker Girls event. Read more…»

    Happy 25th Anniversary, Monterey Bay Aquarium!

    A strange idea can accrue from a scuba dive among the forest of waving kelp off-shore near the abandoned Hovden Cannery.  At least it can if the year is 1977-78, if your group is from John Hopkins Marine Research Institute, and if the divers include the likes of Julie Packard, Nancy Packard Burnet (Julie’s sister), and Dr. Steve Webster. Read more…»

    PG Family portrait: The Sweigerts

    By Cameron Douglas

    Readers of this newspaper may recall a poem that appeared in our April 24 issue as part of our Young Writer’s feature. The poem, penned by PGHS student Julia Sweigert, was titled, “Ellen.” The words carried such a strong feeling that we wanted to learn more about Ellen and her family. The Sweigerts – Jan, David, Joshua, Ellen and Julia – generously agreed to an interview. Their house sits on a hill in what could be called, “Pagrovia Heights.” Here is the Sweigert family, starting with Mom.   Read more…»

    Camp Okizu

    Ellen Sweigert’s leukemia treatment took a turn for the better with the family’s discovery of Camp Okizu, a summer camp for children with cancer. The camp is located at Berry Creek, California, 70 miles north of Sacramento.
    When a child is diagnosed with cancer, things change. It becomes very hard for that child to engage in activities the rest of us take for granted. Camp Okizu was set up to provide a “level playing field” for kids who have lost their hair during chemotherapy, had to face a limb amputation or suffered a relapse after months or years off treatment. Okizu is the only place other than the hospital where children undergoing treatment for cancer can interact with others in the same situation. It provides them with a true camping experience, free from having to be the “different” kid. Read more…»


    By Julia Sweigert

    She walks with the rest

    The same, yet different.

    She stands out alone

    Smaller, but so much bigger.

    She lags behind while

    Trying harder than anyone to keep up.

    She holds a special place in my heart as in the

    Hearts of so many others

    Irreplaceable, she is so perfect

    In her own unique way.

    Some may talk about her or

    Laugh or point at her.

    *Does it care? Does she care?

    Once they know her,

    She becomes a precious jewel in

    Their lives.

    Amidst change and hardship

    She remains the same,

    Dependable and strong.

    *Italicized line taken from Robinson Jeffers’ poem Carmel Point

    Pacific Grove’s Chautauqua Hall: A good place to do things since 1881

    By Jon Guthrie

    More than a century ago, the comment labeling Pacific Grove a “queer” community appeared in an Arroyo Grande newspaper called the Herald.
    “Pacific Grove,” opined that publication, “is a pretty, but queer place.  The methodistical rules are stringent and newcomers are left kicking.  Business places are not allowed in residence blocks.  Boarding and lodging houses are not considered businesses, but the butcher and baker are.  One can roller skate in Pacific Grove, but not dance; can croquet, but not billiard.  Nary a card can be turned there, nor a bower played.  Spirits are not tolerated, except by those enjoying a tipple while in hiding.  The best thing that can be said about Pacific Grove is that it’s a nice place to be away from.”
    In the Grove, free-thinkers gathered to lament their community’s classification as “queer”.  Said one, who admitted the charge was truthful: “I would gladly put my money (invest) in the Grove, but you can’t get the class of people here who spend money.  Under such conditions you can’t increase the local trade nor build new houses.  Merchants and mechanics and laborers can never thrive in what is now only a camp meeting ground.” Read more…»

    Asilomar on a Sunday

    This is why we live in Pacific Grove.

    48th Annual Wildflower Show


    The three-day event was held at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History. Hundreds enjoyed the examples of native California wildflowers on display.

    Send money, not trash!

    trash-a-thon-featured.jpgThe 8th grade graduating class of Monterey Bay Charter School, most of whom have been together since kindergarten, held a “Trash-A -Thon” on April 17 not only to raise money for their upcoming graduation trip, a five-day rafting venture on the Klamath River, but also “to help Pacific Grove,” in the words of Hannah, one of the students. As of 11:30 that morning, they had raised $986 and the proceeds were sure to go higher. The students said they were helped in great part by “Philly Billy” Clements who, when approached, not only donated $20 but took the litter pickers around to fellow merchants and raised $150 for them. In-kind gifts from other Pacific Grove merchants included a box of donuts, much appreciated by the hungry students, and some coupons. They were also handed a full bag of garbage and found a piece of cash iron which added to the weight of the total — 335 pounds by 11:30 a.m. The preponderance of trash, according to the students, was cigarette butts. Another interesting find was a dead bird. The students were assisted by their teacher, Ted Maehr, and Pacific Grove City Council Member Deborah Lindsay.  The class was also planning a car wash to help raise funds. Anyone wishing to donate — and please send money, not trash! — can send a check to MBCS 8th Grade, 1004 David Ave. #B in Pacific Grove.

    Sea Otter Classic: Don’t try this at home

    “Molten heat with occasional light breezes brought out the crowds for all four days of Sea Otter. Veteran participants wandered around gaping in disbelief at the weather while newcomers buckled at the knees by the enormity of the event. Upsets in Downhill and Dual Stunts kept fans engaged while it was all business for Specialized and LUNA, which plucked podium spots like they were low-hanging fruit.” That’s how Sea Otter Classic publicists summed it up. Our photographer, Nate Phillips, just said “Wow!”

    The event has grown since its first days in 1991 from 300 participants to 9,500 and from 150 specatoes to 50,000 — and that was last year. More than 300 exhibitors  showed their stuff, too, in the sweltering heat.

    There were events for recreational bikers including recreational road and mountain bike tours. Amateur racers enjoyed nearly 200 classes of road and mountain bike racing for all ages. There were Pro/Elite Mountain Bike Races, Pro/Elite Road Circuit Race, and Pro/Elite Gravity Mountain Bike Races (a better name might have been Gravity-Defying!).

    Not only were there plenty of events for adults to watch but there were also events for children: A Kids’ Carnival, Sea Otter Egg hunt, Bicycle rodeo for learning bike safety skills, Bicycle Races and a Kids’ Bicycle Playground.

    The event is scheduled for April 15-18 next year, 2010. Nate will probably be there.
    We expect great things at the upcoming Butterfly Criterium, too!

    A serenade of vines: the saga of wines

    By Jon Guthrie

    It’s nothing new for Pebble Beach.
    Residents have been tippling wines since the 1909 founding of the community, no apologies offered (or needed).  Indeed, land purveyors for the Pacific Improvement Company, original owners, hinted that the ability to openly heft a glass of vintage vino offered strong fillip (motivation) to invest in property somewhere along Seventeen-mile Drive rather than in the too-snooty, teetotaling neighbor Pacific Grove.
    Now, for the second year, Pebble Beach has celebrated its condescending, Bacchanalian ways by promoting Pebble Beach Food and Wine, a festival of the first order.  The event was a real bash, with tickets ranging from $100 to $995 (for the four-days package).  But then … where else could one go to sample such delicacies as lobster soup, yellow-fin tuna, and other culinary classics cooked up (pun, intended) by more than two dozen epicurean masters?
    And excuse us, Pacific Grove; there’s wine galore.
    But for those from either Pebble Beach or Pacific Grove who enjoy being first, the news is bad.  Our California Franciscans were actually among the first to go into the business of cultivating grapes and fermenting wine.
    Take the Carmel Valley route south to Arroyo Seco Road.  Then turn east to the Soledad Mission.  While strolling the mission’s grounds, you’ll hear the haunting echoes of Franciscan vespers whispered in the wind.  Those ghostly prayers, accompanied by the tinkling of tiny bells, are prayers of continuing appreciation.  Long ago, the padres planted a cutting of grape vine.  The cutting took root, chuckled in the sun, and thrived.
    Thus were the grapes of Monterey County given life.

    As early in history as that holy accomplishment may seem to a Monterey County approaching the year 2010, the Franciscans of Soledad Mission actually began their efforts as viticulturists in a manner most tardy.  Egyptian records, dating from 2500 BC, reported crushing grapes by foot and fermenting wines.  The ancient Greeks established vineyards at home and in all their colonies.  The Romans-with the near-perfect soils and climates of the Rhine and Moselle River valleys at their disposal-transformed grape-growing into a science. The Celts, sometime in the 6th century BC, became experts at fermenting fruits into fruity wines.

    During the fledgling years of the United States, the only wine considered worth drinking had to be imported from Europe.  Early Americans produced almost no wine commercially, although some of the earliest vintners (such as George Washington) fermented the juices of grapes or fruits into limited amounts of wine produced at home for home consumption.
    Then, during the 1850s … tragedy.
    Phylloxera stepped onto the European scene.  Phylloxera was an aphid, deadly to grapes.  The Phylloxera plague struck first in Slovenia and quickly spread to Topela, Izola, Piran, and Haloze-prime grape producing regions-then munched its (actually their) ways through virtually all of the Mediterranean vineyards.  Robust vines withered into cadaverous remains.  More than half of all the European and Middle Eastern grape production capacity vanished.  Unemployment boomed among vineyard workers.  Many took passage on sailing ships, heading to the United States where Phylloxera had done no damage.  From these immigrants came the technology needed to transform American wine making from home endeavor to commercial enterprise.

    Even Bacchus, the god of wines, is rumored to be serving Monterey varietals to guests attending his merry bacchanals … such as last week’s fest in Pebble Beach.  Surely these are wines in which Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove, and all of Monterey County can take gleeful pride.

    In 1919, the first vines intended for commercial production were imbedded in the rich soil near Chalone.  Monterey County soon dedicated a full five acres of its land to the growing of grapes.  A meager beginning to be sure, but a beginning nonetheless.  Monterey County wines were here to stay.  Nearly a half-century later, just about the time that World War II threatened, the Monterey County grape industry had leapfrogged across an estimated 600 acres
    Alicia Harby-DeNoon, the late proprietor of Alicia’s Antiques and Collectibles, recalled the sardine and wine days of Monterey with great affection.  “People had fun all the time back then,” Alicia said.  “We laughed so much over the simplest of things.  Even during prohibition, we had plenty of wine.”
    Alicia particularly enjoyed hanging around Doc Rickett’s lab, first in its Pacific Grove location and then on Cannery Row.  “Doc made a ritual of holding a high-wine at five each day.  Never high-tea at four, as the British do, but always high-wine at five.  Doc would lay some Gregorian chants on the phonograph and everyone would sit around talking and drinking a rot-gut sort of bathtub wine.  Doc made a lot of that wine himself right down stairs in his (Cannery Row) laboratory.”
    Alicia paused to think, then continued: “John (Steinbeck) liked to help out in experimenting with the formula.  One of the high-wine experiences occurred one day when John was not there.  Others were in the lab talking and listening to music when a car horn started blasting out on the street.  Doc stepped to the door to see what was going on.  John and Carol were out there celebrating.  John had sold something and used the money to purchase a convertible roadster, the first convertible roadster in Monterey County so far as I know.  They were drinking their own wine and having fun making the cloth car roof go up and down.”
    Doc is said to have purchased most of his wine-making grapes from a farmer in the Arroyo Seco area.  If so, Doc chose his source well.  Red grapes (Bordeaux) thrive at the mouth of the Arroyo Seco Canyon.  Sunlight, reflecting from canyon walls, provides a bit of extra warmth.  The cobblestone-laden soil is ideal for roots.  In secluded pockets like that at Arroyo Seco, Monterey County wine growing began.
    The rest, as they say, is history.  With such a delightful variety of signatures so readily available, restaurateurs soon caught on.  Many-if not most-Monterey County restaurants now serve Monterey County wines … yes, even in Pebble Beach.
    The Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association, a nonprofit group, is composed of professional, wine-growing members.  Each member bottles intense varietal flavors of the sort winemakers love.  So will you.  In Monterey County, world-class wines are more than just a choice of beverage.  Monterey County wines are an adventure.
    And you can even drink them in Pacific Grove!

    Living Wild in PG: Expert Opinion

    By Marvin Sheffield, DVM

    Home owners would protest and be suitably outraged if people unknown to them expected them to pay part of the fee their exterminators charged them for ridding their homes of termites, carpenter ants, hornets, bats,  mold, or their lawns from mole occupancy. However millions of Americans are unwittingly paying without ANY benefits, for an ill conceived agency, a little known Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, originally known as Animal Damage Control.  This Agency was developed in response to the failing Bureau of Biological Survey (whose name falsified the qualifications of its employees), and eventually Congress decided to eliminate the BBS, unless it could justify its existence, which it could not.

    Animal Damage Control its successor, started in essence as the private  lackeys to the open range Sheep and Cattlemen’s Lobbies, who when they were not at each other’s throats, were waging war on American Wolves, Mountain Lions, and Bears. Using aircraft, traps and poisons galore, they virtually exterminated the indigenous gray wolves from the West initially; and eventually through most of the Midwest and Eastern states as well. When the wolves were eradicated, they focused their energies on coyotes, which now had expanded their range in the absence of wolves.  Coyotes also were accidentally released into the Eastern States, when Eastern fox hunters who wanted to revive their “sport”, received shipments of coyote pups instead, and were unaware of the differences.

    Besides coyotes the chief target of Animal Damage Control, Mountain Lions, Bobcats,   Badgers, Western Grey foxes, raccoons, hawks, owls and even Bald and Golden eagles were shot or died as a result of ingesting poisoned baits set out indiscriminately, to placate the ranching groups.   In 1997 A.D.C changed its name to “Animal Services” in order to improve its image to the American Public, who now began to protest the wanton killing of wildlife.

    I had locked horns with ADC, when engaged in Livestock practice in Arkansas and Texas; and they asked me to falsify my necropsy reports on livestock that died of bacterial or viral diseases. These “good old Boys” wanted me to change my necropsy findings to “Wolf or coyote predation” so that the livestock owner could then fraudulently collect reparations from Uncle Sam for their “losses” on Public Lands. I turned then down firmly and flatly.

    Animal Services is an unnecessary and wasteful agency that still adheres to its unsound biological practices of animal predator extermination. Removing a raccoon, or ‘possum from an attic or basement, does not justify your tax dollars being squandered and diverted to  this agency.

    -Marvin J. Sheffield, DVM

    Barber’s ‘Spirit Ride’: Amazing things happen

    Each year, Fred Reynolds and three of his close friends save their money for a motorcycle trip, which they usually take in late September. On their journey, they stay vigilant for one thing – people needing help. And when they come upon someone in need, amazing things happen. Read more…»

    The Jewel on the Hill: Barbershop serves in many ways

    By Cameron Douglas

    There is a rare red-white-and-blue gem in the Forest Hill Plaza shopping center, standing as tall and proud as the tradition it represents. A striped pole to the left of the entrance proclaims, “LOOK BETTER – FEEL BETTER.” Go through the door and find yourself transported to another place and time in a true sanctuary for men – although women come here too. Read more…»

    Accentuating the positive: Jamaica Sinclair and Encore Boutique

    Thriving in a recession

    By Laurie Gibson

    Jamaica Sinclair has a diversified worklife, with several business activities all contributing to her success.

    She’s the owner of Encore Boutique, teaches dance at Monterey Peninsula College, and is also a professional dancer, performing in belly dance shows with her troupe at events like Good Old Days and also at local venues such as Amir’s Kabob House. In addition, gives belly dance classes at her shop.

    “They all go together,” she says. “It’s like having my eggs in different baskets.”

    Her energy and enthusiasm have helped her sustain that full schedule over the years. “What’s got me this far has been my outlook and my attitude,” she says. “I guess I’ve always looked at it like the cup is half-full.”

    This perspective is reflected in a small sign in the window of her shop, which reads: “We wish to announce that due to prior plans and commitments, we are unable to participate in the current recession.” Sinclair says the word were emailed to her a while ago by a friend, and she took it to heart. To Sinclair, the message of sign is “we create our own reality. … My philosophy is, ‘We’re here now, and we can choose how it can be.”

    One of Sinclair’s recent choices has been to limit her exposure to TV news as a way of helping her keep a positive mind-set.

    She has some ideas for those trying to get beyond the negative headlines.  “Do something for somebody else; make a difference in someone else’s life.” Volunteer service to others-including youth. “They’re so full of hope,” says the mother of three. She also stresses community involvement and connection with friends as alternatives to a bunker mentality. “I think that’s what we need: a change of perspective.”

    Another option Sinclair offers to help people snap themselves out of the doldrums and boost their own morale is to go outside. “Take advantage of the beautiful place where we live,” she says. “We’re so lucky to live here.”

    Although sales at her store were healthy during December, business has fallen off lately. Sinclair has responded in various ways. “I cut back in every way I can, and try to be more creative.” She also does a lot of cross-promoting with allied businesses, such as Amir’s, where she performs Saturday nights. She’s also included more items in the sale racks at Encore Boutique.

    She has owned the boutique for eight years. The specialty and focus of her shop is “fun, unusual clothes” that range from blue jeans to belly dance costumes. Like many self-employed people, her business reflects her values. “I have the resale shop because I’m into the recycling thing,” she says. “The world is shifting into the whole idea of reuse. We have to recycle.”

    Sinclair gives a different spin to the mass media’s relentless drumbeat of downbeat statistics. Instead of focusing on the unemployment rate, she notes California’s current employment figure shows that a full 90 percent of workers in the state have jobs-and are contributing to the economy. “Things seem to be looking up a bit,” she says.

    But, in a nod to the tenuousness created by a challenging business climate, Sinclair also encourages consumers to seize the moment. “If you see a cool store, and you want to stop, do it now because it might not be there [in the future],” she says. She also reminds PG residents to consider shopping at Central Avenue businesses.

    Both humor and positive thinking are important contributors to success, according to Sinclair. “I think we need more fun,” she says. “People need to enjoy themselves and don’t be scared. Why ‘pre-worry’? It is what it is.”

    “Let’s love the situation we’re in and learn how to cope.”

    Old-fashioned fun, yesterday and today

    Good Old Days

    By Jon Guthrie

    Exactly one century ago, the excitement began.

    Pacific Grove planned a gala celebration that would mark the community’s heritage, history, and beauty, both natural and human.  A queen would be elected, never mind that queens aren’t normally elected, and she would be called the Queen of May.  Community members could visit various polling places to cast a vote by contributing cash.  The newspaper of the day, Pacific Grove Review, kept track of the voting and posted changing results almost daily. Read more…»

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