Sprucing up for Spring Benicia's Colors Inspire Interiors Bringing in Beauty: Low Maintenance, Water-wise Gardening
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Features Solano Land Trust's 25th Anniversary 6
8 Editor Graphic Design
Why We Love Benicia Colors 13
Samuel J. Adams Mary Marino Beth Steinmann Christina Strawbridge Sue Sumner-Moore
Low-water Gardening Yields Lovely Results 8 Smooth Sailing for Benicia Yacht Club 12
Advertising 707.853.5226 Published by Polygon Publishing, LLC
Departments Fashionista: Stylish Entertaining Channels the Sixties 15 What's new on beniciamagazine.com 17 Interview with Architect Steve McKee 20
firstname.lastname@example.org Printed locally with soy ink & no trim waste Please recycle PO Box 296, Benicia, CA 94510 T 707.853.5226 â€˘ F 707.745.6757 Ad changes/editorial deadlines: the 1st of the prior issue month New ads: the 8th of the month
Looking Back 21 Calendar of Events 22 Cover photo: Entrance to Rob & Margaret Stroreleeâ€™s Spacious Benicia home Photo by Jerry Bowles
All opinions expressed in this magazine, including articles and paid advertisements, are those of the authors alone. Benicia Magazine does not endorse any product or service in editorial content or advertisements, and can not be held liable for their use.
From the Editor
Shopping Locally I am a Benician. Grocery shopping in Benicia is very costly. Raleyâ€™s sells a bag of Goldfish for $2.50, Grocery Outlet in Vallejo sells them for $0.99 cents. This can be said about their poultry, chips, drinks, vegetables, cheeses, soups, cereals and so on. Customer service is superior at Raleyâ€™s, but for the same product, food pricing is so much lower at Grocery Outlet. As far as online shopping, both Raleyâ€™s and Safeway have online shopping. Goodwill even offers their selection partially online. You make some really great points. I am interested in the responses in next monthâ€™s issue. â€“Michael Cowley
Benicia Fan I am an ex-Benicia resident living in Virginia. Benicia is my favorite place to visit; please let me know how to buy a subscription to Benicia Magazine. â€“Cheryl Empink
Kudos I have enjoyed Benicia Magazine since the first issue. I especially love reading the Interview. I get to know some extraordinary people who live, work, and/or affect life in this beautiful town. â€“Doug Houser
Small Oversight, Big Difference I imagine I'm not the first person to point out the slight error in Christina's 'Royal Wedding' column. Diana was Princess of a Small British Nation rather than the Princess of Cetaceans. That extra little 'h' makes for an amusing difference. â€“Mernie Buchanan Ed. Note: Amusing, yes, but world-traveler Christina knows the difference between Wales and Whales. The rush to deadlineâ€™s last minute changes inadvertently made for a good chuckle.
Wedding Issue I love what you ended up with on the March cover. The boots are priceless. â€“Adriene Rockwell
Sprucing up for Spring In middle childhood, I used to draw houses. Possessing no drafting skills, I spent hours embellishing rather crude attempts at a perfect floor plan for our family of five. Modest means and two brothers left me yearning for my own space, so the houses of my dreams always included an entire third floor suite just for me. In fairness, if my brothers were nice to me that day I made the houses four stories so they could have their own spaces, too. Now as middle-adulthood empty nesters, Mike and I wonder what to do with all the extra space, and look for inspiration as we inch slowly towards retirement. Our home and garden features in this issue are a natural outcome of wanting to spruce up our homes for spring, and address the changing needs of lifeâ€™s stages. We are fortunate to have local resources whose owners, experts in their industries, can help us do just that. In addition to running award-winning businesses with great showrooms, they make staying abreast of building and design trends a priority. In talking with the pros, one home industry trend became clear: businesses that arenâ€™t incorporating sustainable practices are being left behind. Originally planned as a feature for this issue, there was enough information about green practices that we moved it to the website's sustainability blog instead. This month we also begin our new column, Feedback, where readers comment on articles or what's happening around town. Whatâ€™s on your mind? â€”Jeanne Steinmann email@example.com
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Solano Land Trust
Celebrates 25 Years By Beth Steinmann What do rolling oak woodlands, vernal pools, steep grasslands, vast marshes and spring wild flowers have in common? These are all part of Solano County's diverse landscape. In the past twenty-five years, the Solano Land Trust has protected over 20,000 acres of such habitats. Founded as a result of litigation between open space advocates, land developers and a municipal government, this organization has a unique take on land use issues. According to current executive director Nicole Byrd, the board of directors encompasses developer and business perspectives, the smart growth community, the Green Valley Landowners Association, farmers and habitat restoration specialists. Their goal is to permanently protect farmland and open space in Solano County, using innovative and non-confrontational techniques; and perhaps even more importantly, to connect the community with that land. When times are tough, it can mean sink or swim for organizations that rely on state funding. Byrd says funding has been one of the greatest challenges for the Land Trust in recent years, but maintains a positive outlook, stating that an economic downturn is a great time for an organization to become introspective and examine its internal structure, as well as diversify fundraising means. Also, as people are really looking at how to save money and stay close to home, exploring the land in our own backyard becomes a great option. Protected lands range from just north of Vallejo to east of Fairfield and Vacaville and most are available either through docent–led tours or public access. Rush Ranch, located in Suisun marshland, covers more than two thousand acres and is home to about 230 species of birds alone. Native Americans of the Patwin tribes inhabited the area around the ranch, seasonally, for thousands of years before the Spanish and European takeovers. For most of the last century the land was owned by the Rush family, who made no changes to the tidal marshlands on the property, which has allowed for important scientific contributions to their study and the protection of local species. Rush Ranch is available for hiking, picnics, fishing, meetings rentals, overnight stays, events and weddings. It’s home to two volunteer groups–the Rush Ranch Education Council brings thousands of second and third graders out each year to experience the blacksmith shop, learn about the history of the Ranch, and have a chance to connect with the land. Access Adventure, directed by John Muir’s grandson Michael, is responsible for getting folks with mobility challenges to the marshland, and uses wheelchair accessible horse-drawn carriages to provide a unique wilderness experience. Rush Ranch is open to the public from 8am to sundown, seven days a week. Lynch Canyon and the Jepson Prairie Preserve are also open to the public. Lynch Canyon creates a buffer zone between Vallejo and Fairfield and is full of sweeping views and oak woodlands. It’s currently open weekends and is home to the annual Lynch Valley trail run each June. This rigorous 10k run isn’t for the faint of heart, but is held in tandem with a free community hike, open to the whole family. The Jepson Prairie Preserve is one of the few vernal pool preserves left in California. Vernal pools are special habitats home to rare species that dry up in the summer, making one of the highlights of this preserve and its ever-changing environment. The largest ‘pool’ is ninety-three acre Olcott Lake, which is home to fifteen rare or endangered species, including the vernal pool fairy shrimp and the California tiger salamander. Springtime is host to vibrant and spectacular wildflower displays.
“…most folks don’t realize that you can actually get in there and explore.”
Continued on page 12 6
Photos courtesy of Solano Land Trust
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10am-5pm Arts & Crafts Booths, Music, Food, and Games for Kids 2pm Blessing of the Fleet Decorated Boat Parade Ducky Race 6-8pm Dinner prepared by A Taste of Life Catering 8-11pm Dancing in the Norton Lounge
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All Gardens Should be a Work in Progress By Jeanne Steinmann Pam Hughes, a local landscape and interior designer with with a dramatic art and dance background, sees garden design as choreography. Inspired by a project's site, Hughes integrates her client's gardens to the architecture of the home. After ascertaining the goal of the landscape in terms of function, maintenance and budget, she handdrafts the design plan. “I like the tactile approach of drafting by hand, not with a computer. I hand-color my designs.” She refers to her own yard, which was chosen to be on the League of Women Voter’s annual garden tour in 2010, as an unwitting test garden for designing around dogs: her 110-pound Anatolian Shepherd puppy loves to chew and has figured out how to jump the fence. Viewing design from an eco-friendly, water-wise perspective, Hughes uses grasses and ornamental succulents in her designs, to beautiful affect. She says she’s “not big on lawns,” they require too much water, fertilizer, pesticide and maintenance. Hughes feels that all gardens should be a work in progress, and shares these tips for a successful landscape: — Always do hardscape improvements first. — Drought-tolerant plants need well-drained soil. Amend Benicia’s clay soil with organic compost. — A water feature is always nice, even if it's just a birdbath or simple fountain. — Incorporate raised vegetable beds or fruit trees into the landscape.
Photos by Jerry Bowles Garden design by Pam Hughes Design, email@example.com
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Benicia Education Foundation Sunday, April 4th www.beniciarunforeducation.org %VENTS + 2UN s K 2UNWALK s MILE FUN RUN
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Casino Night at the Commanding Officerâ€™s Quarters Benicia Rotary & Benicia Soroptimist
5/20 & 5/21
Lesher Center for the Arts
present A delightful evening of gaming, finger food, raffle prizes and fun!
May 7, 7-11pm Benefitting educational scholarships and projects in Benicia
â€” Blackjack â€” Roulette â€” Craps â€” Texas Hold'em â€” No Host Bar
To The Beatles Michael Smuin
Commanding Officerâ€™s Quarters One Commandantâ€™s Lane Benicia
Requiem (World Premiere) Amy Seiwert
For more information, call 707.746.4343 or email DSmikahl@ci.benicia.ca.us or HBowles@ci.benicia.ca.us
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Tickets: $30 each or two for $50 Available at Bookshop Benicia and Benicia Main Street
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Burgers, Burgees, and the Beer Can Series:
Good Sailing on the Horizon for the BYC By Samuel J. Adams Think “Yacht Club” and the projector at the back of your mind might reel through some images of white and beige linen, TV footage of The Captain and Tennille, and a sleek ship skimming through green waves, its happy crew of adults cupping tanned hands around salt-rimmed drinks. In other words, it all sounds very fun, safe and relaxing, but this impression betrays the origins of the clubs’ eponymous vessels. The word “Yacht” derives from the Dutch word, jagen, which means hunting (jagen shares the same Germanic roots that would later sprout that enlivening spirit, Jägermeister). For those fearing that the next sentence had something to do with seal clubbing or penguin poaching, fear not: the word refers to boat-hunting, the primary vocation of pirates, and of the aggrieved Dutchmen who went out to recapture boats from said pirates. Anyone who pays attention to the grim piracy situation in the gulf of Aden could easily see that “yacht” doesn’t really describe the vessels used by contemporary marauders, and the only eye patches on today’s yacht enthusiasts were put there by a swinging boom or botched LASIK surgery. And it’s been pretty much this way for almost two centuries— barring the surgery. In a fun bit of cultural recycling, the vessels whose speedy, sturdy design once enabled rogues to apprehend loot and hostages became the useful toys of well-off folk who considered the yacht’s speed and grace as ends in themselves, and used the vessels to expand the field of recreational activities far beyond the reaches of summer’s shoreline. Russia claims the first Yacht Club (called The Neva Yacht Club), with the date placed around 1718. But their claim is a little iffy: the club was a governmental initiative of Czar, shipbuilding enthusiast, and all-round mountain of mortifying manliness Peter the Great, and a proper yacht club should be the product of the free assembly (and ample capital) of boat-minded citizens. The first one of those is the Royal Cork Yacht Club, founded in Ireland in 1720. As to those patriots out there dying to add Yacht Clubs to the list of true-blue American Firsts—sorry, Canada put one on the continent before we did (Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, 1837). Benicia’s Yacht Club has existed since 1972. A handsome two-story white building that looks over the Marina with a balcony that is the envy of every sunset enthusiast who passes beneath it. Steve Gilliland, member since the mid-80’s and current Vice Commodore, describes the club as “low-key, friendly, and
open.” Gilliland mans a 44 ft. sailboat called “Current Affair” (note to punsters everywhere, if you want a pun to last you could do much worse than writing on a large boat). Gilliland is also BYC’s event chairman, and is centrally involved in the Opening Day ceremonies taking place on Saturday, April 16. Artists and craftspeople pitch their tents around the grounds, kids take part in a rubber duck race, and non-members get a chance to hang out in the club. The centerpiece of this celebration is “the blessing of the fleet”, a tradition with deep roots in Mediterranean fishing communities. In BYC’s version, members decorate their boats according to a designated theme (this year’s is “Island Time”), line up in a prescribed order, and parade their boats through the harbor to receive blessing from a member of a local clergy. After the parade has past, judges deliberate over which boat had the best decorations. Anyone who’s spent much time around sailors knows that the jargon of their pastime can sound a little obtuse, and slightly Dutch, so Opening Day gives folks a chance to, as it were, test the waters (although the absolute best way to this, Gilliland counsels, is take a guest ride on one of the boats racing in the Thursday night “Beercan series” beginning this Spring). Sailing expertise, while honored, is not mandated: not every member knows how to tie a fine mariner’s knot or clean a hull, nor do they need to. It’s a social club too, with a buffet on Wednesday, live music on Fridays, and a rotating assortment of fun events—spaghetti dinners, crab feeds, and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations with green beers. A sizable percentage of Yacht Club members don’t own boats. But with a club like theirs, who could blame them? Inviting, bright wood stools gird a well-stocked bar in the center of a large room further distinguished by trophies, hanging televisions, and space enough to seat hundreds, or provide room for an impromptu bit of couples dancing. A colorful row of burgees hang out of the blue-painted beam running across the ceiling. To solidify the informal vibe, BYC calls the room the “Emperor Norton Lounge,” after one of the great benevolent eccentrics in American Culture (Norton proclaimed himself emperor of America and traveled the streets of San Francisco in Imperial regalia, issuing decrees
on various subjects and producing his own unconvincing but nevertheless honored currency). In an effort to make BYC more kid-friendly, they’ve recently added a rec. room fitted with a flat screen TV and a Wii gaming system. Opportunities for BYC fun extend far beyond our little slice of the straits. The Yacht Club sponsors and enacts “Cruise Outs,” overnight/weekend missions where the fleet travels to other Northern California Yacht Clubs (BYC in turn is a popular destination for other clubs). And then there is September’s famous Jazz Cup, an intense daylong race from Treasure Island to BYC. And more excitement lies ahead. In the future, the club plans on growing their junior sailing program (open to all interested youths), and possibly acquiring some larger boats to foster a beginning adult course as well, and give nonowners a chance to enjoy the more pronouncedly maritime privileges of club membership. So whether there’s a salty sea captain within you you’ve been dying to free, or you’d just like a nurse a beer on a Friday afternoon without dealing with any of the inconveniencies endemic to dive bars, there’s a club in town for you, and for one special day, you can get in for free. B
Solano Land Trust Continued from page 6
life.” It’s a goal of the organization to purchase more property around Lake Herman, and connect trails to the Bay Trail and the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Other long-term goals include focusing on high value agricultural land, working harder to support the farming community, and finding more ways to get local kids out to the land. Byrd says they are currently working with UC Davis business school interns who are conducting market research and putting together a survey to help target community outreach, find out what people think of how the organization has performed, and draw folks into the planning process. Ultimately, according to Byrd, they want “the whole community to feel like the land we own is their land.” This 25th Anniversary year is busy for Solano Land Trust, with a slew of events geared towards diverse areas of the community. Upcoming events include the Kite Festival
at Lynch Canyon, April 23, the Rush Ranch Open House, April 30, the Farm Fresh Feast, May 21, and the Aim for Ag and Open Space, Sporting Clay Shoot & Luncheon, on August 20. Staff and volunteers are working hard to ensure the success of these events. The goal this year is 250 new members, which is lofty, but Byrd is confident in their success. In celebration of twenty-five successful years, the Land Trust is offering a special rate of $25 to join. Membership fees are tax-deductible and include the Vistas Newsletter, invitations to special events, and the knowledge that you are helping protect working farms and natural areas in your county. The Solano Land Trust has a new and comprehensive website, www.solanolandtrust.org, where you can find information about the land, the history of the organization, upcoming events and more. Visit the preserves this month to catch brilliant and vivid wildflower displays. B
The King-Swett Ranches are particularly special, explains Byrd, because “we can all see these hills from the freeway, but most folks don’t realize that you can actually get in there and explore. The fact that they are currently only accessible by docents makes them even more special to me because you know that your visit is a unique opportunity.” The King-Swett Ranches are the closest preserves to Benicia, stretching across 4000 acres between Blue Rock Springs and the 680 freeway. The primary docent, Jim Walsh, “shares his love and knowledge of these ranches to all who visit, and he brings the natural and cultural history of the ranches to
Michael Trahan Design
Inspiration Is Where You Find It Tumbled and faded beach glass, collected from a sheltered cove along Benicia's waterfront, provides inspiration in a colorful pallet of blues, greens, yellows and greys, reflecting the town itself: the Strait, parks, sand and fog. We asked Interior Designer Michael Trahan to illustrate how these colors could be woven into the living room of a Southampton home.
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A Luncheon and Fashion Show Featuring Women and Men's Spring Clothing
Christina S Fashion Destination
Be Chic Boutique Present
Lucy in the Fashion Sky with Diamonds A Luncheon and Fashion Show Benefiting Benicia Community Action Council and Senior Meals Program April 27, 2011 Administrative Professionals Day 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM Benicia Clocktower, 1189 Washington Street Tickets $35 â€” For Ticket Information Contact: Mike Caplin 707-746-0380 Helen Estes 707-745-8127 firstname.lastname@example.org
FASHIONISTA Entertainment Trends
Revisit the Sixties By Christina Strawbridge Growing up in the sixties, Saturday evenings were my parentâ€™s night to entertain in our home. With five kids it was easier and probably less expensive to invite friends over for a game of Bridge, cocktails and dinner than to go out. On the day of these mini-events we were all given chores to prepare for the evening. Besides cleaning and setting up card tables and chairs, Mom would have us create corsages for the ladies who would be attending. We were allowed to pick flowers from a neighborâ€™s garden and wrap them in ribbon with a little greenery. I always thought it was a lovely touch and it kept little hands busy. One of Mom's favorite menus included fondue. The fondue craze hit America in the 1960's with the little pots of oil, cheese or chocolate, and delicate long forks for dipping. It was a lot different than the usual fare: a platter of meats, olives and cubes of cheese rolled around a toothpick. I secretly thought that it was popular because it took women out of the kitchen and into their card chairs. The other "new" concept of the time was crock pots. This liberating device would cook meat or sauces all day long on a timer, eliminating standing in front of the stove for hours, and allowing my mom to take a part time job. The crock pot was not as elegant as the fondue pot but both played a part in the Women's Liberation Movement. Who knew? In 2011, the pots are back! A recent cooking demonstration using a crock pot, performed by Chef Maynard Oestreich of Beniciaâ€™s Sailor Jackâ€™s restaurant, aired on KRON-TV (Channel 4). As part of the Benicia tourism effort it was arranged that Maynard and Weekend Morning News host Henry Tenenbaum would cook a Super Bowl recipe and dish about why Benicia is such a fun place to visit. During the interview Henry noted that Benicia is â€œa hotbed of great food with a fabulous art scene.â€? From miniskirts to fondue and crock pots, the sixties was an era with a big impact to our culture, then and now. Hereâ€™s the recipe, as written by the chef:
Chef Maynardâ€™s Zinfandel-glazed Crock Pot St. Louis Spareribs Crock pot veterans: resist the urge to add more liquid. This recipe serves 6 cavemen or 9 normal-sized persons and requires a large capacity crock pot.
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Ingredients: 7 lb. St. Louis cut pork spareribs 1 bottle Zinfandel, I prefer Frank Family 1 cup brown sugar 1/3 cup Cajun seasoning 4 tbs fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 cup yellow onion, minced 1/4 cup chopped garlic 2 cups chicken broth, low sodium 12 oz bottle store-bought BBQ sauce, I like Sweet Baby Rays
Method: Combine wine and sugar in a sauce pan and simmer to reduce to half volume, about 18 minutes at high simmer. Rinse and dry racks, score inside of rack on the bone side in a crisscross pattern. Season with Cajun seasoning and pepper. Depending on the size of your crock pot, cut racks into 2 or 3 pieces. Combine wine syrup and BBQ sauce, add garlic and onions and toss to coat. Add chicken broth to crock pot and layer rib sections into pot, cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. Cut into individual ribs and toss in degreased liquid in the crock pot and serve hot with a lot of napkins. B
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Camellia Tea Room Voted #2 - Best Tea House in the SF Chronicle/SFGate.com â€œBest of the Baylistâ€?
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8BMM"SUt+FXFMSZt(JGUTt+VEBJDB*UFNT Real Estate Litigation and Land Use Amber Kemble Of Counsel Venus Viloria Berdan Associate 835 First Street Benicia, CA 94510 Tel: 707-747-5206 Fax: 707-747-5209
Gallery Hours: Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday 11-5, Friday 11-7, Saturday 10-7 707.748.1336 www.lindsayartglass.com 109 East F Street, Benicia, CA 94510
This month at
Beniciamagazine.com April Web Features
Shabby Chic with a French Flair: Benicia Arsenal's Hip Chick Designs
Poetry Contest March's winning poem was Pickleweed Clan by Dorothea Barth. Read it on the Community page! Urban Farming Takes Off
Photo Contest Congratulations to March's winner, Maureen Quick, with her photo Pink Dalia, in Golden Gate Park.
Blogs Carquinez Straits Stitchers Annual Quilt Show
Summer at SPSVâ€Ś
Something for Everyone K-12
18th Annual Benicia Classic Car Show May 1, 9amâ€”3pm Historic Downtown Benicia
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We Need You THE BENICIA HISTORICAL MUSEUM
Find out how rewarding volunteering can be! Call Us... Weâ€™d love to hear from you. Museum Days/Hours â€˘ Wednesday - Sunday â€˘ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm 707-745-5435 â€˘ 2060 Camel Rd. â€˘ Benicia, CA 94510 www.beniciahistoricalmuseum.org
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An Interview with
Steve McKee By Sue Sumner-Moore Benicia architect Steve McKee has put his drafter back to work after an 18-month hiatus. “I’m the first guy in the chain of command who gets to see when things pick up,” says Steve, who specializes in designing home additions and remodeling projects. “I’m the right amount of busy these days. Three years ago, I was too busy and a year and a-half ago, I wasn’t busy enough.” While residential work was slow, Steve did some architectural layout work on commercial businesses, including the Rellik Tavern and Lucca restaurant downtown. But he’s bestknown for his work in homes around town and for his architecture-themed column that appears monthly in the Benicia Herald. He is launching a blog—www.smckee.com/blog —in part to learn more about what people want to know about his profession. After more than 20 years in business, he knows some projects never make it past the planning phase. His first design as an architect was not built. “It was a multi-family senior housing project—34 units, three stories—that was never built. It was going to be on Military. I still know it by heart. I would have loved to have seen it built,” he says. That project brought Steve, 52, and his wife to Benicia at the end of a year-long trip around the U.S. and Mexico. They moved here in 1989 and started remodeling their own home as he built his business. They have two children, a daughter in college and a son at Benicia High School.
You earned your bachelor’s degree in economics and ended up in architecture. How did that change come about? There was no love of economics on my part. … I was pretty far along with it when I rediscovered architecture, which was a path I’d been on since boyhood. I got sidetracked in high school by several things, like an oafish drafting teacher. I applied to the master’s program in architecture at UCLA and I didn’t really have any projects. I had a simple portfolio that I submitted and it wasn’t good enough. But a professor I’d had (as an undergrad there) pressed them on my behalf and I got on the wait list. I’m not sure what my life would be like without that.
Did you always plan to specialize in home architecture? I gravitated to houses. You can never quite master them. There’s a human layer of living that goes into each one in different ways. People know how they want to live, I know how to give it shape.
Do you have any design signatures? I hope not. I like to adopt the wishes of the people I work for. This is their home. But I am known for doing my own structural drawings and calculations. Normally an architect passes off that work to engineers; very few architects do the structural engineering. …It streamlines the process for the clients. You can think about the structural elements while you design, and you’re not waiting for drawings to come back from the engineer.
Do you have any favorite projects?
In the 20 years I’ve been in town, if there is a trend, it’s that people like being in historic-type housing but want to live with convenience, openness. There’s a need for just enough enclosure to give an area some style, to define it. They like to work with the kitchen, to open it up to the life of the house. …You can set the dining room off with a little half wall and a Craftsman column so you can have a dining room table with a light fixture centered over it and not have it just floating in space.
Yeah, a few. There’s one on the corner of El-Ane and Cove Way with shingles that makes a strong Craftsman statement. There’s my house—we’re about to do some more work here. It was built in 1885 and I got it about 85 percent right 22 years ago, and we redesigned it eight years later and got to 97 percent. Now we’re about to start on the kitchen. We’ll redo it and then this house will be a humdinger. I’m in the process of having a T-shirt made with five houses on it: those two plus a neo-classical Queen Anne in the 100 block of West I Street on a rare vacant lot downtown, there’s a Mediterranean on West K Street, and a cottage on West J Street that had some fire damage.
How are people incorporating green building ideas and materials into their homes?
You also worked as a builder early in your career. How does that affect your work now?
People are very into calling for stuff that makes sense— more insulation, tighter-fitting windows—but not this
For about 10 years, I spent more time as a builder than as an architect. Working as a builder was an invaluable education.
What trends have you seen in home design over the years?
obscure stuff you see in all the magazines. There’s a level of green building that’s not always easy to do. Then there’s stuff that makes sense, things like putting a radiant barrier in roof sheeting. It keeps heat out of the attic. That’s an easy one to embrace. I’m also a fan of thermostatactivated attic fans. California is pretty far out ahead on this stuff. Before we single-handedly live with only fluorescent lights, I’d like to see the 49 other states embrace some of these things.
I learned to think like a builder, to understand the reality of building a project.
What did you learn? That there are some really smart builders out there, framers who are really keen of mind. I learned to respect that, and that makes it easy to go on job sites and have rapport with the crew. I also respect that there’s real money here. People are putting their life savings into this.
How do you start the design process with new clients? I get a phone call and we talk for about 5 minutes and figure out if it will work for both of us—the timing, the work to be done. We take three, maybe four, meetings. … The first meeting is wish-list making. The final meeting is lighting. It typically takes two and a half months.
How do you encourage good design decisions? I let everyone talk at the meeting. Sometimes there’s a weird dynamic between a husband and wife. Sometimes it’s important to state possibilities so everyone sees the big picture. Sometimes they don’t know if they want an addition out back or to add a second floor. They don’t know what they can do that structurally. I’ll get a call because they’re tired of spinning their wheels and need to know what’s possible. That’s usually a most productive meeting.
What would you tell your 25-year-old self? There’s not a whole lot I’d change—well, maybe buy this stock or that. That’s half a lifetime at my age. Life’s worked out pretty well for me. I’ve reconnected with some old friends on Facebook and not everyone has that experience. Happily, I don’t have many regrets, though I wish I’d redesigned my kitchen earlier. I only wish I had known then what I know now. B
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By Mary Marino As spring nears, the activity at the Benicia Historical Museum heightens as we host tours for kids of all ages. Our tours include the Museum, Powder Magazine, and the Industrial Exhibit. The student visitors, generally third to fifth graders studying local and state history, have one additional stopâ€”the hands-on experience. They become those long ago youngsters, with stations that take them through the chores necessary to sustain the entire family as they struggled to eke out a life without electricity, running water, supermarkets, cell phones or automobiles; all while facing the elements of nature. The first stop is the Bucket Brigade. If a fire broke out, townspeople needed to supply the water for firefighting from their wells, streams or riversâ€”and everyone lined up to get water to the fire, bucket by bucket. For the home, water was again hauled from a source, hopefully nearby, bucket by bucket, for cooking, bathing, laundry, and for the crops and animals. A yoke slung across the shoulders enabled the carrying of two pails at a time. Laundry involved large buckets and scrubbing boards. The key was to wring out the water before hanging the clothes on clotheslines. Families grew their own food and raised animals, large and small and ground corn or wheat by hand with a mortar and pestle. Games and toys were very simple, mostly handcrafted. To mirror how walls were built in a home, our students make adobe bricks from dirt, straw and sand, then put them into a form to dry. It was not an easy life and the chores were not optional, but life-sustaining hard work. With their chaperones as leaders, our young guests really dig into the spirit of these work stations, which hopefully provoke some thought after they return to their twenty-first century lives. Hurrah for the simple life! The Historical Tours are one of many areas where volunteers are needed. To become a volunteer, or for more information about our tours, visit beniciahistoricalmuseum.org. B
A Billion Acts of Green Earth Day 2011 1VPU[OL*P[`VM)LUPJPHPUJLSLIYH[PUN,HY[O+H` HZP[YLSH[LZ[VV\YJVTT\UP[`
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Kidâ€™s activities and lots of Vendors! On Site Recycling
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April Calendar of Events
Capitol & Fischer-Hanlon House Guided Tours 1-4pm Capitol tour 1-4pm, Fischer-Hanlon tour, 2pm Thursdays and Fridays 115 West G Street 707.745.3385
4th Annual Run for Education 8am
Kiwanis Annual Easter Egg Hunt 12-2pm Free to kids 2-10 years, face painting, candy, prizes City Park, First Street & Military
2nd Annual Administrative Professionals Day Fashion Show & Luncheon 11:30am Fundraiser for Community Action Council Historic Clocktower, 1189 Washington Street Contact Helen Estes 745.8127
Opening Day Certified Farmers Market 4-8pm Fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, gourmet food First Street between B and D Streets Beniciamainstreet.org 707.745.9791
Stone Hall Comedy Series 8pm Rocky LaPorte & Andrew Norelli Benicia Historical Museum, 2024 Camel Road Beniciahistoricalmuseum.org 707.745.5435
Walk, run, volunteer, but don’t miss out on the fun First Street Green, First and B Streets Benicia Education Foundation BeniciaRunForEducation.org
Benicia Old Town Theatre Group Presents “The Nerd”
Fridays and Saturdays 8pm, Sundays 4pm B.D.E.S. Hall, 140 West J Street Beniciaoldtowntheatregroup.com 707.746.1269
City of Benicia Earth Day 2011 4:30-7pm E-waste recycling, kid's activities, vendors Veteran's Memorial Hall, 1150 First Street 707.746.4278
LUNAFEST Film Festival 7pm Celebration of short films by women Fundraiser for Breast Cancer & Namaste House Haley Horn Auditiorium, BHS, 1101 Military West Benicia Soroptimist, 707.746.4358
Arts Benicia Presents Family Art Day 1-3pm Kids wanted! Come have fun and be creative Arts Benicia Gallery, 991 Tyler Street, Suite 114 Artsbenicia.org 707.747.0131
Benicia Plein Air Gallery Reception 5-7pm April featured artist: Sue Wilson 307 First Street, Benicia Beniciapleinair.com
Benicia Artists Open Studios 10am-5pm Arts Benicia Gallery & Artist Studios 991 Tyler Street, Suite 114 Artsbenicia.org 707.747.0131
2011 Quilt Show “Spring on the Straits” 10am-5pm Quilts, wearable art, vendors and refreshments Carquinez Strait Stitchers, 707.553.8700 Historic Clocktower, 1189 Washington Street
BENICIA UNIFIED SCHOOLS
How do enrichment programs help students?
Studies show that drama, art, dance, sports & music significantly enhance student memory, reasoning abilities and verbal and mathematical test scores.
Visit www.the350project.net to see how shopping locally improves the town you live in.
Student learning is our top priority. BUSD has a wide range of competitive sports, including:
— Football, basketball, baseball & softball — Badmitton, tennis & volleyball — Swimming & water polo — Soccer & Track — Wrestling Great schools, quality programs. Benicia Unified School District 350 East K Street
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Tosch Dental Schedule a check-up and cleaning and receive
Ronald J. Tosch, DDS
l 707.745.2130 l 118 West K St., Benicia, CA 94510 l
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Benicia Magazine and beniciamagazine.com are a print and online niche magazine for Benicia California.