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Holiday Shopping Guide Turn to page 10



October 9, 2009


Despite the heat, Oktoberfest draws big crowds from Bay Area ANDRÉ GENSBURGER Clayton Pioneer


MAYOR’S CORNER Everyone needs to care for park That nip of fall is definitely here, with shorter days, cooler nights and the kids planning for Halloween already. We had a great Concerts in the Grove series this summer and circulated a survey at the final concert of the season so we can get your feedback as we plan for next year. In case you missed the last concert, it’s also posted as an interactive file on our city Website, We’d love to hear your ideas, so fill it out, save it as a new file and then you should email it to City Clerk Laci Jackson at as soon as possible.

See Mayor, page 4

Clayton Valley students feel the sting of budget cuts TAYLOR TOVREA Special to the Pioneer

As school began at Clayton Valley High on Aug. 31, students smiled and laughed as they reunited for another year. But those smiles were soon replaced by frowns as the deep gash of state budget cuts became a thorn in everyone’s side. After years of cuts to education, there is nowhere left to turn but the classrooms, and CV students are certainly feeling the effects. For the 2008-’09 school year, state funding was $5,629.82 per pupil at Clayton Valley. The funding per pupil has been cut to $4,812.62 for the 2009-’10 school year – for a loss of $1,442,678. In addition to losing 1/15th of the funding from the previous year, the contribution from the General Fund to the high school athletics program has been cut completely. Also eliminated from the General Fund budget are 23 class sections (the equivalent of 4.6 teachers), a

See Budget Cuts, page 17

André Gensburger/Clayton Pioneer

‘BEER!’ A TOAST FROM THE INTERNATIONALS draws cheers from the more than 500 gathered under the tent in the Biergarten at the sixth annual Oktoberfest. Despite the heat, record-breaking crowds turned out the weekend of Sept 26-27 to celebrate German beer and music at this annual CBCA sponsored event.

The temperatures were triple digit, but the beer was cold and Oktoberfest 2009 over the Sept. 26 weekend drew its usual large crowds from across the Bay Area. At noon on Saturday, Mayor Julie Pierce tapped the keg and with glass raised in a cheer to the crowd, kicked off the annual event. The keg had arrived just moments before on a cart pulled by Chief, the same Burmese Mountain Dog that did the honors last year. The six-year-old dog rested in the shade after the short parade from Ed’s to the Biergarten. “The hot weather really affects him,” said Chief ’s owner Larry Bohlig. As in the past the traditional and lively Biergarten music was played by The Internationals along with Bavarian Dancers entertaining the crowd under the big tent, interrupted every now and again by the band shouting out “beer”. The tent seats about 500 and every seat was taken. Every age was represented from the smallest babies to the most senior of citizens.

See Oktoberfest, page 2

Principals call for creative solutions and parent support to meet budget crisis ANDRÉ GENSBURGER Clayton Pioneer

“What are you going to do?” Clayton Valley High School principal Gary Swanson asks about the tight financial situation faced by all the Mt. Diablo Unified schools. “We’ve lost two office staff. We’re making do the best we can,” he added. “People need to understand that things might take a bit longer than usual.” That was the general consensus of administrators one month after the start of a school year in which high school athletics are based only on the promise of parent funding through individual fees as well as massive fundraising through the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Association. In addition, CVHS has 70 more students than last year with all classes operating at the legal limit. “Getting a schedule change for your child this year

What’s Inside Around Town . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Club News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Obituary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

is next to impossible,” said Swanson, whose hands are tied by the budget crisis. RELIANT ON PARENT

TIME TO GET CREATIVE Diablo View Middle School principal Patti Bannister considers the school year off to an

optimistically strong start. “We have a healthy enrollment,” she reported of the student body count close to 700. “We’ve even had a welcome back picnic.” Of course, there are budget cuts. The librarian is now down to two days a week instead of five. However, parent involve-

ment always impresses her. The Parent Faculty Club is encouraging parents to support the school with a dollar a day donation to offset some of the cuts. “We use the money to improve our technology,” Bannister said.




paying for instructional assistants and a nice chunk of money for classroom supplies. “Teachers got $1,000 per classroom,” he noted.


Likewise, Mt. Diablo Elementary principal Bob Dodson looks on his school’s class-size increases as a necessary response to a difficult situation. “We lost our 20-1,” he said of the student-teacher ratio. “Classes have up to 31 students instead of 20.” Dodson thinks the crisis situation has made kids more resilient, even though it’s difficult for staff as more bodies demand individualized instruction. “We lost a custodian and a vice principal,” he added. “Our classrooms get cleaned every other night now.” Dodson is thankful for the parent body that fundraises for the school, bringing in $130,000 this year – including

Classified . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Directory of Advertisers . . . . . . . .5 On the Net . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Financial Sense . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Deal with It . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

Real Estate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Holiday Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Church News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Doc Talk (New) . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

Community Calendar . . . . . . . . .16 Teen Talk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 School News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Movie Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 Book Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

See Principals, page 3

Theatre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 Food for Thought . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Weather Words . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Garden Girl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

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Clayton Pioneer •

October 9, 2009

Around Town 7


Hot temps, cold beer bring big crowds to downtown for Oktoberfest, from page 1


“Saturday was quite busy,” said Mary Ann Lawrence, event organizer for the event which is sponsored by the Clayton Business and Community Association. “It draws people from all over the Bay Area,” she said, pleased by the event turnout. Outside the Biergarten, arts and craft booths, food and drink vendors all clamored to fill orders as the thirsty and hungry crowd weaved in and out to see what else was there. Arm bands on those waiting in line for beer proved they were over 21. Noticeable this year was a larger than normal contingent of law enforcement as Clayton’s cops on bicycles fanned out to make sure that everything was under control. This year, the local police were joined by officers from the Alcohol and Beverage Control. “ABC’s responsibility is to make sure license holders are following the rules and regulations of their licenses and to make sure that all was safe in that regard,” said Clayton Chief Dan Lawrence. “They were at our event doing just that for the festival as well as the surrounding establishments.” “They were observers,” said Lawrence, who considered the the added police presence to have been a good thing. “There were no disruptions,” she said. “It was a pretty mellow crowd.” “It is a multi-generational event,” Lawrence said. “It’s nice to see children and their grandparents at the same table.” 4

From top left:

1. While the grownups sweltered in the biergarten, these tots had a better idea – keeping cool in the splash around at The Grove.. 2. Terry Johnson (left) with her friend Trudy Huenninghaus (a Concord resident originally from Germany). Trudy gives an enthusiastic thumbs up to the Clayton Oktoberfest. “The band is even better than last year,” says Trudy. “They don’t even notice the heat.” 3. CBCA members Debbie Mullins, Howard Geller, Wendy and Eric Moore. “Saturday was record-breaking in every way,” said Debbie. 4. Sarah Litwiller and Laura Chase wipe down tables in the Biergarten. The girls are members of the CVHS Cross Country Team which volunteered to help with cleanup for the event. 5. Left, Event Chair Maryann Lawrence chats with friends between polkas 6. Life-long friends, Lillian Passaglia (left) and Gertrude Terheyden, learned the German dances as toddlers and have been dancing together all their lives. Their met as children when their parents immigrated to the US from Austria. 7. Former mayor of Benicia, Pepe Arteaga with wife Heidi, says “This is like a mini-Munich,”


Photos: Tamara Steiner/Clayton Pioneer












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Clayton Pioneer •

Page 3

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Around Town YMCA raising funds for youth scholarships


DIGNITARIES AND YMCA SUPPORTERS GATHERED SEPT. 24 to launch the annual Strong Kids scholarship fundraising campaign. Back row, Clayton Mayor Julie Pierce and Wendy Moore. Front row, Clayton Police Chief Dan Lawrence, Concord Mayor Laura Hoffmeister, Clayton Valley YMCA board chair Eric Moldonado and program director Jennifer Beck.

The Concord/Clayton YMCA kicked off its Strong Kids fundraising campaign on Sept. 24 with a reception for supporters at Centre Concord and the announcement that the branch name was changing to the Clayton Valley YMCA.

Principals, from page 1 The school has purchased Elmo document cameras that allow teachers to use a digital projector to display a textbook far more effectively than with the standard overhead projector. “Some of our classroom televisions are on their last legs, too,” she added. Another benefit this year came from a Wells Fargo Adopt-A-School grant of $1,000. And then there is the Garden Club’s project, which has supplied the school with fresh vegetables for salads while teaching students a valuable skill. Seeing the financial picture as in flux, Bannister is optimistic while always expecting that things could get worse. “That’s where you’ve got to get creative, out of the box. You have to support the programs we have,” she said. “Attitude is the only thing you can control,” Swanson said. “We’re doing the best we can.” If all 1,900 parents supported the dollar a day goal at CV, he added, programs such as the librarians could be restored. SPORTS IN DIRE NEED While the athletic foundation has lofty goals, concerns are prevalent that a lack of parent fees are leaving the program short of the needed funds. Whether this results in sports programs cut short earlier in the year is unknown, although it’s a distinct possibility raised by board members who know that the money is just not there to fill the void. “We have to collect the gate revenue,” Swanson said, noting that those fees are equally important. There is a 5K fundraising run for the athletic foundation at 9 a.m. Oct. 18. at Newhall Park. Swanson hopes that every parent will push their child to participate. “They need to be involved,” he said. “When you go through the tough times you find out, like in the Great Depression, that people worked together to make things better.” To sign up for the 5K Run/Walk, visit

The Clayton Valley branch hopes to raise $280,000 for scholarships to offset the cost of recreation and after-school programs for families who can’t afford the full fees.

“This is a chance for kids to reach for the stars,” KGO-TV anchor Dan Ashley said in a video message to supporters. “Strong Kids connects kids in need with the services they need

most.” The YMCA provides community recreation programs for the city of Clayton, however, the Clayton Community Gym serves the community of Concord as well. “You don’t really realize the boundaries,” said Concord Mayor Laura Hoffmeister, who also works full- time for the city of Clayton. “We’re a community and the Clayton gym is really the only recreation facility in Clayton and this end of Concord.” “It’s a wonderful collaboration,” said Clayton Mayor Julie Pierce, who was co-chair of the effort to build the gym. Clayton Police Chief Dan Lawrence encouraged support of the Strong Kids campaign. “Kids need something more to do than just hang out or skateboard in the park. The program is important from a law enforcement perspective.” To donate to the Strong Kids Scholarship Fund, visit or call 8891600.

Mikayla Alcock ‘locks’ it up Two years ago, Mikayla Alcock learned about Locks of Love when her mom, Sidney, donated her hair to the organization. Wanting to follow in mom’s footsteps, she began growing out her hair. Last week, she cut her hair to donate to the organization that makes wigs for children faced with illness-related hair loss. Mikayla is a fifth-grader at Mt. Diablo Elementary School. Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that makes wigs for children facing illness-related hair loss.

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Clayton Pioneer •




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Club News Garden Club readies library garden beds for spring planting Several years ago, the Clayton Valley Garden Club partnered with the City of Clayton to plant and maintain the garden beds at the Clayton

Library. Through the years, the beds have become overgrown with invasive plants. On Sept. 15, The Garden Club, in conjunction with the

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Behind Cup O’Jo next to the Royal Rooster


VOLUNTEERS AND GARDEN CLUB MEMBERS spread plastic over the garden bed at the Clayton Library as they wrapped up a joint effort to rid the area of weeds. From front: Ankush Bhatia, Carla Thompson, Nancy Harvey (standing), Jin Luo, Arthur Westman.

CLAYTON VALLEY WOMAN’S CLUB The club will hold its annual membership drive at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 1090 Alberta Way, Concord. The featured speaker is Houston Robertson, a well-known writer and storyteller. She will speak about “Aging as Renaissance,” the freedom and




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In addition to fabulous attendance at our concerts, The Grove Park has been getting a lot of use in the only 18 months since we opened it. Concert attendees have been wonderful about policing their areas and putting their trash and recycling away. It’s wonderful to see how much our community enjoys the park, but it’s also disturbing to see how much downright abuse it’s getting from some of our young people. Despite the addition of additional trash and recycling cans, littering continues to be a problem in the after-school hours. The play area, which was designed for children 5-12, gets used by all ages and is starting to show it. We’re already having to repair the resilient surface under the swings due to the feet of bigger kids that are dragging on the ground. The baby’s bucket swings were not designed for adult-sized people to stand in and we’ve replaced them several times already. STEP-UP IN ENFORCEMENT The complaints continue to come in about the ongoing violations of the prominently posted signs prohibiting the riding of bikes, skateboards and scooters in our community’s parks and downtown. Despite extra police patrols in the Grove Park, skateboarding and bicycle riding by young park-users is common.

Week of Caring joined efforts with a group of volunteers from Chevron for a clean up project. The United Way Week of Caring is administered by the Volunteer Center of the East Bay and for one week, different businesses let their employees off for half a day to volunteer on non-profit projects. Chevron is the largest participant for this event. The group of six, headed by Jin Luo from Chevron, and members of the Garden Club, undertook a solarization project to rid the bed of unwanted vegetation. After cleaning the bed, the volunteers covered the bed with clear plastic. The heat is absorbed by the soil while air is eliminated by the plastic covering causing seed death and eliminating any roots left behind. In the spring, the bed will be planted with drought tolerant, noninvasive plants.

Gloria Marie Gustafson April 15, 1928 to Sept. 24, 2006 Gloria Marie Gustafson passed away peacefully at her daughter’s home on Sept. 24, 2009, after a seven-year struggle with Alzheimer’s.

value shifts of aging. Guests are welcome. The club has almost 100 community-minded women of all ages who have joined together to provide community service in the Clayton/Concord area and beyond.

Mayor, from page 1 starting at

October 9, 2009

This “mass non-compliance” is discouraging use of the park by others and we’ve received many letters of complaint. Repeated warnings to the offenders have had no impact. So, effective immediately, the Clayton Police Department will be stepping up the “educational effort.” The increased enforcement will include issuing citations to all persons observed violating the Clayton Municipal Code sections prohibiting the riding of bikes, skateboards and scooters in city parks and the downtown area. They will also be citing for other offenses, including lack of helmets. Fines begin at $50. A second offense is $100 and third and subsequent offenses are $200. The fines for violations in the downtown area generally are $100, $200 and $250, respectively. These are not out-of-town kids – they are Clayton kids. Please remind your family members of the rules so we don’t have to write too many citations to get the point across. THE PUMPKINS ARE COMING! On a brighter note, Halloween is coming soon and that means pumpkins! It’s time for our family’s annual trip to the Clayton Pumpkin Patch for a day of fun with the kids and grandkids. There are also lots of other

community activities to enjoy. Our Clayton Community Recreation Program run by the YMCA invites you to the second annual BOO! Night and Pumpkin Carving Contest, 6-9 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Clayton Community Gym. Call 889-1600 to sign up, then bring your pumpkin, explore the Haunted House and spend the evening with friends. Pumpkins will be judged in several categories, so grab a pumpkin and start carving. The Clayton Farmers Market will be open just four more Saturdays this year, winding up on Oct. 31. There will be special pumpkin activities every Saturday. Come down in costume on Halloween and you could win a Best Costume prize. Look on their Website,, for great recipes all year-round, too. The Clayton Community Library’s Fall Used-Book Sale is next weekend, Oct. 16-18. Stop by and pick up a good book. A quiet weekend afternoon and a good book to read – sounds lovely. And while you’re marking your calendar, make a note of the annual Halloween Ghost Walk of historic places in downtown Clayton with appearances by celebrity “ghosts” on Oct. 31. Bring your flashlight and meet at Endeavor Hall at 7:30 p.m. for the hour-plus tour. And now to practice carving my pumpkin for the contest. As always, you can contact me at Let me know what you think.


She was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., and worked as a secretary at Las Trampas and a court clerk in Walnut Creek, retiring in 1993. Her many interests included sewing, cooking and crocheting, but her favorite was dancing. Gloria touched lives with her generosity and caring, loving spirit. She will be remembered for her robust laughter, joy and incredibly fun sense of humor. Her devotion to her family and friends will be a treasured memory. She was “mom” to many people. She loved children and babies and would stop to smile and greet as many as she could. Gloria is survived by daughters Carol (Don) Henderson, Barbara Creech and Lois (Dave) Wullenweber; grandchildren Alison Creech, Shawn Henderson, Kristin and Charlie Wullenweber; brother George (Marit) Lofmark and cousin Helen (Jack) Barkus. Services will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, at St. John’s Parish, 5555 Clayton Road, Clayton. A reception will follow at Clayton Community Church, 6055 Main St. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Millman Respite Center, 2071 Tice Valley Blvd., Walnut Creek, CA 94595.

October 9, 2009

Clayton Pioneer •

Rattlesnake Bite - Correction P.O. Box 1246 6200 Center Street, Suite H, Clayton, CA 94517 TAMARA AND R OBERT S TEINER , Publishers TAMARA S TEINER , Editor A NDRÉ G ENSBURGER , Reporter and Feature Writer P ETE C RUZ , Graphic Design B EV B RITTON , Copy Editor J AY B EDECARRE , Sports B ETH N EUDELL , Advertising Sales C HRISTINA S CARLOTT , Administrative Assistant

In the last issue of the Pioneer, we reported that a local man had been seriously injured by a rattlesnake bite (see front page of the Sept. 25 issue.) In the story, we reported that a neighbor elevated Mr. Hoelmer’s leg while waiting for paramedics. This was incorrect. The neighbor correctly applied compression to the wound and kept the leg below heart-level. We apologize for the error.

Tel: (925) 672-0500 Fax: (925) 672-6580 Tamara Steiner André Gensburger Beth Neudell Send ads to Send Sports News to Send Club News to Send Church News to

Send School News to

CLASSIFIEDS Classified rates per insertion: Non-profit: $12 for first 30 words, $.20 each additional word Individual/non-commercial: $18 for first 30 words, $.30 each additional word Commercial: $48 for first 30 words, $.40 each additional word To place your classified ad over the phone, call the office at (925) 6720500 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. Or, you may fax your typewritten ad and credit card information to (925) 672-6580. All classifieds must be paid for in advance by credit card (Master Card or Visa)


We will not accept any ad that discriminates on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, nationality, family status or disability. The Clayton Pioneer reserves the right to reject any advertising we believe is unsuitable.

LET US KNOW Weddings, engagements, anniversaries, births and deaths all weave together as part of the fabric of our community. Please let us know of these important events. We ask only that the announcement be for a Clayton resident. You will find the appropriate form for your announcement on our Website. Attach your photo to the form. Make sure the image size you are about to send is at least 3 MB but not bigger than 6MB. The only format we accept is JPG. You can also mail or bring your print to the office and we can scan it for you. Also on our Web site are forms for submitting Community Calendar items and press releases for your organization.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR The Clayton Pioneer welcomes letters from our readers. As a general rule, letters should be 300 words or less and submitted at least one week prior to publication date. Letters concerning current issues will have priority. We may edit letters for length and clarity. All letters will be published at the editor’s discretion. Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number. We will not print letters from “anonymous.” E-mail your letter in a Word document to Letters MUST be submitted via E-mail.

Clayton YMCA The Y is seeking donations of supplies and items for use in the summer day camps and the after-school programs. Please call Jennifer Beck at 925-692-2364 if you have books for all ages, old movies (PG and G rated), all types of board and interactive games and anything else that would be appropriate for kids.


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Pleasant Hill, CA– Make a Difference at a Hospice Thrift Shoppe Volunteer at one of the Hospice Thrift Shoppes located in Alamo, Danville, Walnut Creek, Concord and Antioch. You will have the opportunity to help customers, stock shelves and prepare merchandise for sale. Thrift shops are an inexpensive way to find old treasures or vintage clothing, but for the volunteers in our thrift shops, it's a way to make a difference in a meaningful way." Anna’s Attic Volunteers Volunteers needed at the Hospice of the East Bay thrift store. The address of the store is 5350 Clayton Road. Call store manager, Debbie at 674-9072 or Lamont Campbell at (925) 766-5066.

Dentist Children's Dentistry of Walnut Creek . . . . . . . . . .938-2392 Jason Renner, D.D.S. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-2800 Richard Rissel, D.M.D. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-2800 Dining and Entertainment Clayton Club Saloon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .673-0440 La Veranda .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .524-0011 Willows Theatre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .957-2500 Educational Services Katherine Palau . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 510-207-7467 Financial and Insurance Services Benton, Mureleen - Ameriprise Financial . . . . . .685-4523 CD Federal Credit Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .825-0900 Doug Van Wyck - State Farm Insurance . . . . . . .672-2300 Ferrante Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .674-1755 Richard Littorno - Attorney at Law . . . . . . . . . . . .672-6463 Funerals Ouimet Funeral Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .682-4242 Home and Garden Abbey Carpet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .686-9901 Bee Hive Ovens, Al Fresco Imports . . . . . . . . . . .672-9547 Blue Water Pools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .519-2013 Clear Splash Pool Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .216-6245 Floors to Go Danville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .820-8700

Hospice of the East Bay – Anna’s Program Anna's Program, (formerly Hospice and Palliative Care of Contra Costa), is seeking dedicated, caring volunteers to provide home companionship and practical support for women with recurrent breast cancer. Women served reside in Central or East Contra Costa. To apply for free training, call Hospice of the East Bay at (925) 887-5678 and ask for the Volunteer Department, or email Anna's Program is generously supported by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Anna's Attic Thrift Shop, and other community donations.

Keenan Heinz Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .288-0159

Clayton Historical Society Museum The Clayton Historical Society Museum needs a greeter for two hours per month from 2-4 p.m. Wednesdays or Sundays. No experience or extensive knowledge of Clayton history is necessary. Call the museum at 672-0240 and leave your name.

Monte Vista Veterinary Hospital . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-1100

Lewis & Lewis Carpets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .939-2145 Nichols Landscape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9955 Pans on Fire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .600-7267 Utopic Gardens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .524-0055 Welcome Home House Cleaning . . . . . . . . . . . . .584-5980 Mailing and Shipping The UPS Store . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-6245 Personal Products and Services Bella Mia Spa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .680-7792 Roberta Claire Photography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .625-1123 Sport Clips Haircuts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .368-4264 Pet Services Aussie Pet Mobile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .800-738-6624 O’Brien Family Pet Care . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .899-7354 Rodie’s Feed and Country Store . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-4600 Real Estate and Mortgage Services Flannery, Patty - Diablo Realty . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-0541 French, Lynne - Windermere Real Estate . . . . . .672-8787 Kavanaugh, Mike - RE/MAX Accord . . . . . . . . . .383-6102 Laurence, Pete - RE/MAX Realty . . . . . . . . . . . .890-6004

Clayton Community Library We are seeking to fill the following volunteer positions: (All positions require a minimum age of 13 years and a 6 month commitment. Some training provided). Shelver - to shelve and sensitize library materials. Various days/times. Tutors Requires good communication skills, patience and a desire to help students in the community. Contact: Arlene @ 673-9777 or email:

Lopez, Stephanie - Coldwell Banker . . . . . . . . . .932-7329 Morucci, Kim - Intero Real Estate Services . . . . .280-8563 Rahimzadeh, Helen -Coldwell Banker . . . . . . . . .932-7375 Vujnovich, George - Better Homes Realty . . . . .672-4433 Recreation Clayton Bicycles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2522 Clayton Valley Bowl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .689-4631 Oakhurst Country Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9737 Senior Services Diamond Terrace Senior Retirement Living . . . . .524-5100

Our professionals are here to serve you: Amir, Jameson, Gary, Alex and Peter

Services, Other

Mechanical repairs and computer diagnostics including 30K, 60K, 90K factory maintenance on all European, Imported and domestic vehicles.

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Appliance Repairs by Bruce, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2700 Computers USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-9989 Recycling Center & Transfer Station . . . . . . . . . .473-0180 The Cutting Edge Knife Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2723 Shopping Clayton Books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .673-3325 Donna’s Quilting Loft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-0401 Pacific Coast Farmers Market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .825-9090 The Royal Rooster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .672-2025 Travel

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Clayton Pioneer •

October 9, 2009

Military moms support each other, troops through Blue Star organization


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The stars shone brightly on a recent Monday night meeting of the Contra Costa Blue Star Moms. Clayton residents Jill Lorenz and Debbie Fautt joined other members, most of whom have children in the military, exchanging stories and offering support. The Blue Star Mothers of America was formed in 1942. The Contra Costa chapter had its first meeting on Jan. 17, 2008. At that time, the group had seven members. It has grown to 97 members. Chapter president Deborah Burrow estimates the group raised $58,000 in 2008. Funds are used primarily to send care packages and other necessities to troops serving overseas. The chapter sent 897 packages in its first year. One of their biggest donors is the Clayton Business and Community Association, which has given two $1,000 donations thus far. “We feel the service members are over there fighting for us, and we need to do something for them,” said Sue White of the CBCA. “We cannot do what we do without the support of our community,” Burrow noted. Fautt described the contents of the care packages as “things to remind them of home.” Boxes typically contain socks, wet wipes, cosmetics, lotions and a handmade pillowcase. Also included is a handwritten postcard from a member of the community. Burrow’s eldest son, Senior Airman Paul Beasley, recently returned from a tour of duty in

Denisen Hartlove/Clayton Pioneer

CLAYTON RESIDENTS AND BLUE STAR MOM ASSOCIATE MEMBERS JILL LORENZ AND DEBBIE FAUTT sort through bags of the shirts the Blue Star Moms wear to public events. The number of stars on the shirts indicates how many children the wearer has serving in the military.

southern Iraq. “We’d be working normally around 13 hour days, but sometimes 15-17. It was a nice change of pace to go to the mailbox and see we’d received something in the mail,” he said of the care packages. “For a lot of the guys, they were meaningful gifts. Some of them didn’t get mailed anything, so when they got something it was pretty meaningful.” Other chapter projects include the Kuwait Project, which provides civilian clothes for service members returning

home through Kuwait, where uniforms are prohibited. On a more local level, the group prepares meals for veterans attending counseling sessions given by the Concord Vet Center. “We found that if we fed them, they came,” said Burrow. “We wanted to make sure they got the attention, the counseling that they needed.” Members provide support to each other, as well. “Our most important main goal is to support one another,” said Burrow, who described her anxiety when her sons were deployed.

“We have moms who call one another at two in the morning. They just need to talk to another Blue Star Mom and be comforted.” Patty Floyd’s two sons, aged 22 and 26, both serve in the Army. She appreciates that the Blue Star group members aren’t “pushy.” “I was concerned about that,” she added. “You get involved in an organization, and they’re going to call you every week. They’re not like that. … You can do as much or as little as you want in the organization. They’re there for you, 24-7.” Members are careful to steer clear of politics, as well. “People say to us, ‘Are you happy that your son’s at war?’ ” said Burrow. “Of course not! No mother is happy that their son or daughter is over serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. But we’re proud of them for answering the call of duty.” “Everyone wants them to come home, but we want them to come home feeling like they were there for a purpose,” said Fautt. In the meantime, she vowed, “we’ll continue to support them in every way we can.” The Blue Star Moms meet 6:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Countrywood Clubhouse, 1706 Countrywood Court, Walnut Creek. From 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 24, the group will be collecting donations at the Concord Veterans Building, 2290 Willow Pass Road. Or drop off items 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 7 at Wal-Mart, 1021 Arnold Dr., Martinez. Donations most needed are small toys and items for service dogs. Donation drop-off sites are also located around the area. For more information, visit

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Apple, sharing Websites cement music revolution

- Leah Gomez Owner, Clayton Resident

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Apple has released the latest version of its popular iTunes media player. The release should make music fans happy because it caps off a revolution in digital music sharing. The new iTunes 9.0 includes a long-sought feature called


Home Sharing, which allows people to easily play and copy music from computers on their home network. In the past, people had to search their hard drive for music files and then manually copy them from one computer to another if they wanted to share their favorite rock and roll hits. The program makes it easy for me to browse my brother’s iTunes playlists, select the songs

I want and then copy them to my computer in seconds. It will even transfer songs that he bought at the iTunes store to my computer. If I wanted, I could import entire playlists of music. While iTunes 9.0 ensures that just about anyone with a computer can share music, this sharing revolution has also taken place over the Internet. is one of the largest music sharing Websites.

Part Facebook, part Internet radio station, Imeem lets you search and play songs from a vast collection of tunes while sharing your discoveries with friends and family. Imeem is a nice alternative to Internet radio Websites like Pandora, where you can’t immediately pick a song and listen to it. On Imeem, you can search

See On the Net, page 15

Now or Selling? Interviewing For Agents HAVE A CHO U O Y W IC E O N and Teams When Experience, Integrity no and Local K wledge Count

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October 9, 2009

Clayton Pioneer • www.claytonpioneer .com

Page 7

Women entrepreneurs get start-up help from local business group ANDRÉ GENSBURGER Clayton Pioneer

With recent headlines of businesses failing and massive unemployment rates, it comes as a pleasant surprise to learn of an organization that helps women start their own businesses and become financially selfsufficient. The Women’s Initiative for Self Employment (WISE), with a local office in Concord, is helping women from the Bay Area through classes, training and support. Clayton resident Dayle Henrikson is one such beneficiary. When her prior employment in the auto industry failed because of the recession, a friend put her in touch with WISE. There she learned much of what she had missed the first time in business and was surprised with the complexity of things every business owner should know. “They walk you through everything,” Henrikson said, “including writing a complete business plan, something I had never done before. It was enlightening and challenging.” A 27-year Clayton resident, Henrikson and husband Rod decided to launch a business that grew out of their personal experiences. “We’ve started a little business helping the elderly,” she explained about the many services that are often needed but hard to find for senior citizens. “Women who participated in our training between 2003 and 2007 increased their annual

925-939-2145  2615 North Main St., Walnut Creek

André Gensburger/Clayton Pioneer

WHEN CLAYTON RESIDENT DAYLE HENRIKSON started her senior services business, the Women’s Initiative helped her prepare a business plan for the new venture. household income by more than $14,000,” pointed out Tanya Caldwell of the Women’s Initiative. According to MicroTest, a division of the Aspen Institute, WISE is a top-ranking microenterprise organization. A microenterprise is defined as a business with no more than five employees and start-up costs less than $35,000. On Sept. 17, 50 women graduated from the initiative’s business training program, including Henrikson. “I started the class in May,” she said, delighted with the experience and the support. With unemployment reaching 11 percent in the county and

15 percent of residents living in poverty, Caldwell hopes the programs can make a difference. The initiative has a 20-year history in the Bay Area that includes pushing low-income women toward self-sufficiency. Offering training in both English and Spanish, the program asserts that the average participant income doubles four years after the program – with 71 percent enjoying steady sales five years down the road. Scholarships and stipends for child care and transportation are available for very low income women to ensure that no one is turned away for lack of financial resources. A revolving loan fund disburses loans

from $1,000 to $25,000 and connects women with assetbuilding opportunities. “We’ve put the wheels in motion,” Henrikson said of her new venture, R & D Assists. “It’s based on the services we provided our aging parents to make their lives easier.” Caldwell says Women’s Initiative clients’ incomes grow an average of $900 a month, from $1,185 to $2,079 a month. “Their stories are inspirational and relevant in the current economic climate.” For more information, contact Caldwell at 603-2770 or visit


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When deciding where to invest, consider the cost of risk aversion MURELEEN BENTON FINANCIAL SENSE The world changed dramatically for U.S. investors on Friday, Oct. 10, 2008. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 8,451, dropping more than 18 percent for the week – the worst week on record. In the panic, frightened investors began fleeing corporate stocks and bonds. The stampede from the stock market didn’t stop until March 10, 2009, when the Dow closed at 6,926.

The panic of ’08 forced many investors to redefine risk. Some swore they would never return to the markets. Those who stuck to that pledge missed out on a 50 percent rebound from March 10 to Sept. 1, 2009, when the Dow closed at 9,311. Instead of riding out the turbulent times by sticking to a financial plan and making gradual adjustments to their portfolios, panicked investors sold everything at extremely low prices. Then, they stayed on the sidelines as the markets began to recover. In an attempt to completely avoid risk, these all-or-nothing investors actually took on con-

siderable risk – the risk of opportunity cost. Now these panicked investors who remain in short-term Treasuries are earning next to nothing on their money. And there is yet another risk to consider inflation risk. As investors seek safety, liquidity and yield, they should also consider inflation risk – the possibility that the value of their savings will decrease as purchasing power is eaten away by rising inflation. Some investors might be tempted to seek higher yields from longer-term Treasuries. But these can become a trap if interest rates and inflation continue to rise.

Reinvesting in corporate stocks and bonds will expose investors’ money to the potential of more losses. But that is the risk required to earn the gains that prudent strategies and diversified investing can bring if given a long enough timeframe. Consider speaking to an advisor about your investment goals, time horizon, and income and protection needs so you can create a financial plan that includes investment strategies that might be appropriate for you.

Mureleen Benton is a Certified Financial Planner. Call her with questions at 685-4523

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Page 8

Clayton Pioneer • FREE Dog Wa with pur lk cha of 4 walk se s

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As a history buff, I am aware that life in the centuries before ours did not come with a sense of longevity, security or health. Life often ended quickly from a variety of causes, including many we take for granted today. And so when my wife and I rescued a small 10-year-old Chihuahua-Italian greyhound from the county animal shelter in July, the last thing we expected was to wind up watching the dog overwhelmed by involuntary spasms. The seizures would strike without warning, throwing the house in turmoil. But there you have it: a small animal with no life mission but to extend love to those who belong to it, laying on the floor, body twitching and jerking as though it was being electrocuted – which in a sense he was as his brain fired off uncontrolled electrical impulses, turning him into a ragdoll within a second. The vet told us he also had a heart murmur and could not rule out, at first, a heart problem. Either way, our little rescue was in trouble and was destined to have a complicated life. There is medication to treat seizures and epilepsy in animals, but it is a trial and


error process to find the dose that offers the best relief from the internal electrocution. This comes at a cost to the animal, with the medication slowly destroying organs that ultimately will fail and end the life of the animal too soon. The alternative is an even earlier death. Abraham Lincoln said: “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” He should know, having had a rich, albeit short life. As I watched my dog Gizmo during one of his attacks, it made me consider how much of life we take for granted. Such as the “simple”

acts of breathing, eating, interpreting the sensory inputs we have and deciphering their meaning. We add understanding and a set of values and choices that we hope will enrich our lives. And often we guess wrong. The millions of parts that make up our physical shell must work together flawlessly in order for us to function at a base level. Include talent like that of a worldclass violinist and you increase the number of parts that must function flawlessly. Turn back the clock a few centuries and a family of 10 would lose half its members shortly after birth. Those who lived faced a life of hardship and either died in servitude or in battle, usually by their early 20s. Today, as a man of 50, I can reasonably expect another 20 or so years of quality in my life before having to worry about parts not working. And each year, that baseline increases. I am told that within a generation the lifespan of an average human will be in excess of 120 years, almost a hundred years more than my ancestors a few centuries ago. Gizmo seems to be unaware that he has seizures, or at least the details of the


DEAL WITH IT blood work done and the time and cost of the vet to determine this malady. Like most dogs, he seeks simple pleasures before being rudely interrupted by his own body. The look on his face is more bewilderment than pain or fear, although fear must certainly be present as he struggles to regain lost footing only to have his body hurl him in a different direction. As I watch, or hold him waiting for the storm to subside, I consider my own good fortune to not have this affliction, to not be one of the millions who suffer from epileptic attacks while their friends and family helplessly watch, uncertain what to say or do. Life is short. Our world has many shortcomings. People can be all the negative things one can imagine. In the end, it is a dog’s day that we all share. And if we are lucky, we get to deal with it.

André Gensburger is a staff reporter and feature writer for the Pioneer. His email address is

Franny and Mae West are ARF’s Adoption Stars Welcome!

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Franny is a loving and playful four-year-old who can’t wait to bond with her new family over a training class! She would enjoy meeting new people and brushing up on her manners as well. Franny would dearly love any family with children ages ten and older. The adoption fee for adult dogs is $225 and includes 60 percent off one 7-week dog training session. Mae West is a sweet little girl that will mesmerize you with her personality. She can be shy at first, but once she gets to know you, she’ll be your buddy. Mae West should be an INDOOR ONLY cat, and would appreciate a calm, quiet household with children ten years and older.

FRANNY The adoption fee for adult cats is $50. Meet your forever friend at Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, 2890 Mitchell Drive, Walnut Creek, during adoption hours: 3 to 7 p.m.

MAE WEST Thursday and Friday, Noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The primary caretaker must be present to adopt. ARF also encourages kids 16 and younger and canine family members (dog adoptions only) to be present during the adoption process.

Would you like to be part of the heroic team that saves the lives of rescued dogs and cats? Can you share your talents to connect people and animals? ARF volunteers are making a difference! For more information see our website,, or call 925.256.1ARF.

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October 9, 2009

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Page 9

Trying to make a listing ‘fresh’ isn’t a good idea I have had my home on Q the market for several months and it hasn’t sold. My realtor told me we should take it off the market for 30 days and then relist it as a new listing. Is this a good idea? – W.A., Concord The reason your realtor A wants to do that is so people will look at it with fresh eyes and perhaps not even know that it was on before. In the past, realtors were allowed to withdraw a listing and immediately relist it as new so it looked like a new listing on the Multiple Listing System. It was a common practice for some realtors to do this every 30 days. The Contra Costa Board of

Realtors realized this was a deceptive practice, so they changed two things. Now, the listing has to be off the market for at least 30 days before one can enter it as a new listing. Meanwhile, the total time it has been listed will show up on the listing even if it was previously listed with another realtor. This way you can get a full recent history of the listing. If you are motivated to sell your home, I wouldn’t suggest taking it off the market. The ideal buyer could come along during that 30 days it is off and you would have lost out. What sells a home is price, presentation and exposure. Have your realtor prepare a current Competitive Market Analysis for the time yours has

Travel tips for the prime of your life


SENIOR MOMENTS As a senior, you finally have the time to go on the trips you have always wanted to take. But where do you start? This is a question many seniors find themselves faced with as they embark on a new journey in their lives. Finding the right company to help you in your search is crucial for a memorable experience. If you aren’t a travel aficionado and want to travel someplace unfamiliar, look for a company that is experienced at providing travel services to seniors. Travel agents and companies that are not seasoned with senior travelers’ needs will not be as wellequipped to prepare you. Some people worry that companies geared toward seniors offer boring, unadventurous vacation options. If you want a laid-back and relaxing vacation, certainly a senior-oriented travel agency will be able to satisfy your wishes. However, if you are looking for a more action-packed

excursion, these companies will also provide just what you are looking for in a vacation. Be specific with your travel agent as to your desires. Whether it be scuba diving or horseback riding, make sure you say so. If ever you don’t feel that the company is up to par, don’t hesitate to go to another place or a different agent. It is advisable that senior citizens don’t make vacations a solo operation. It is better and far safer to travel with at least one other person. If you have a group of friends who you think may be interested in joining you on a trip, ask them to come along – the more the merrier. Family members can also make fantastic travel partners, creating terrific family memories to share. When traveling with a group, you also may benefit from discounted rates from travel companies. With medical advances allowing for longer, healthier lives, seniors are looking for ways to enjoy an active lifestyle. Whether it be walking or biking tours or a trek to an exotic location, there are many ways seniors can enjoy an active lifestyle at any age. For information on the best senior travel for you, contact AARP or AAA for great guides and offers for senior travel. Kelly Ferro is Marketing Director for Aegis of Concord. Send comments or questions to

been on the market. Perhaps you need a price reduction. How does it show? Is it clean and in good repair? Is it staged with inviting accents? Ask your realtor what they are doing to expose it to the market. The other reason to leave it on the market is because we aren’t certain where the market will be in the next 30 to 90 days. If more competition comes on, then prices could soften further. This hasn’t happened yet, so it is a great time to get your home sold.

At this writing, I don’t know if the government will be extending it. Some of the things that are being analyzed are how much it is actually costing vs. how many additional sales are being made due to the credit and how many sales would have been made anyway without the government incentive. They have to consider the buyer who will buy sooner for the tax credit but would have bought anyway in later months. In that case, there will be fewer sales in subsequent months.

What is the first-time I am thinking of listing Q buyer tax credit and Q my home for sale. The when does it expire? Is the last time I sold a home, it government going to extend it? – R.S., Concord Anybody who has not A owned a home for three years is considered a first-time home buyer for this purpose. It is actually the government subsidizing the purchase to help reduce the inventory. It is 10 percent of the purchase amount or $8,000, whichever is lower. The transaction must be closed by Nov. 30, 2009.

became unbearable – with realtors calling at short notice or, even worse, coming without calling. Some called and said they were coming and never showed up. Is there a way to avoid this in the future? – C.M., Clayton I will be the first to A admit that some realtors are simply rude. They are not

tors keep their ethics as a priority. It is important to make your house easy to show so it doesn’t get skipped on a buyer’s tour. Usually the more showings you get, the shorter your home is on the market. You must decide with your realtor about showing instructions that will make you comfortable. A lockbox on the door with the instructions to give a proper amount of notice (perhaps one or two hours) is common. The new lockboxes realtors use record who has used them to get the key. This is very secure, because your realtor can read these through the computer and get a list of the agents who have shown your home. If you are finding that some realtors aren’t following the instructions, you might have your agent leave the lockbox with you. When someone wants to show it, they will have to contact you and make an appointment. You then can put the lockbox out on the porch for


REAL ESTATE them. However, most realtors follow the rules so this might not be necessary. Have all your items that you use while living in your home ready to be stashed away on short notice. It is good to try to accommodate the showing if you can. This one might be the one who is going to buy your house. Send your questions to and look for your answer in a future column. French is the broker/owner of Windermere Lynne French & Associates and a Clayton resident. For any real estate needs or questions, contact her at 672-8787, or stop in at 6200 Center St. in Clayton.

thinking of your convenience but their own. Fortunately this is a small minority. Most real-

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Police Log TWO WEEKS ENDING OCTOBER 1, 2009 ACCIDENTS Sept 26, 5:00 p.m., Easley Dr. Hit and run ARRESTS Sept. 19, 11:04 a.m., Clayton Rd. and Lydia Ln., A Clayton man, 23, was issued a citation for driving without a license after being stopped for a vehicle code violation. Sept. 22, 11:37 p.m., Clayton Rd., a Concord woman, 27, was stopped for a vehicle code violation and issued a citation for driving without a license. Sept. 23, 4:11 p.m., Clayton Rd and Center St., a Stockton man, 25, was stopped for a vehicle code violation and issued a citation for driving without a license. Sept 25, 11:38 p.m., Kelok Way, a Concord youth, 17 was contacted for identification purposes and found to have alcohol. The youth was arrested and released with a promise to appear. Sept. 28, 9:07 p.m., Kelok Way, a Concord man and woman, both 18, were arrested

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for possession of marijuana. They were released with their signed promise to appear. Sept. 30, 5:29 p.m., Keller Ridge and Eagle Peak, a Livermore man, 50, was stopped for a vehicle code violation and arrested for driving with a suspended license. Oct. 1, 4:25 p.m., Inverness Way, a Concord man, 18, and a Concord man, 19, were arrested after police responded to a report of a residential burglary in progress. BURGLARIES/THEFTS Sept. 18, 1:08 a.m., Kirker Pass Rd. Commercial Burglary Sept. 19, 8:39 p.m., Main St. Petty theft Sept. 27, 7:34 p.m., Clayton Rd. Petty theft Sept. 29, 2:26 p.m., Clayton Rd. Grand theft Sept. 30, 8:02 p.m., Tiffin Dr. Attempted burglary

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Clayton Pioneer •

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October 9, 2009

Clayton Pioneer • www.claytonpioneer .com

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Fall and it’s Brownie time othing says “holidays” like rich chocolate brownies. As the days get shorter and fall nips the air, forget about the cold, no-cook desserts. Drag out the baking pans, heat up the oven and bake up a batch of these scrumptious, chocolate-y brownies.


CHOCOLATE RUM BROWNIES yields 16 brownies Ingredients 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/8 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon 1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden 1 1/2 tablespoons water 1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces 3 large eggs, at room temperature 1 cup sugar Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside. Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon. Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evapo-

rates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It’s important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you’ve got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it’s better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment. Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you’ll

have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won’t be completely incorporated and that’s fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan. Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature. Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil. Serve warm or room temperature with whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce. Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

AL FRESCO IMPORTS WWW.ALFRESCOIMPORTS.COM Founded in 2004, based in Clayton, and run by husband and wife team, Fiona and Larry Hughes, Al Fresco Imports provides outdoor lifestyle products to customers across North America. Their flagship product is the Bon Appétit Magazine award-winning terracotta Beehive Oven, imported from Portugal, where it is handcrafted by third-generation artisans. Sold throughout the USA and Canada, the Beehive Oven is a self-contained and portable woodfired oven on an iron stand with wheels, that lets you experience the pleasures of wood-fired cooking anywhere in your yard. The Al Fresco Imports Beehive Oven cooks delicious pizzas in only two minutes, as well as tender breads, succulent meats, desserts, fish, and caramelized vegetables all touched by the magic of wood fire. Al Fresco Imports also offers accompanying terracotta cookware, tablecloths, and a range of pizza and wood-fired oven tools. Toll free: 866-305-2675

NICHOLS LANDSCAPE The winter months are a great time to reevaluate your home’s landscaping. You’ll have plenty of

time to plan and plant your new grasses, trees, and shrubs before the blistering heat of the summer. Nichols Landscape is a full-service landscaping company featuring state-of-the-art techniques, professional employees and heavy-duty equipment to handle all your landscape needs from start to finish. “We specialize in all kinds of installation, including the installation of sod and plantings,” says Nichols. “We can install pavers, concrete, patios, arbors, decks, sprinkler systems, low-voltage, lighting and retaining walls. We can also do awesome stuff like waterfalls and bridges.” Don’t trust your lawn and landscaping to amateurs! When you need a contractor you can trust with the design, appearance and uniqueness of your yard, call the professionals at Nichols Landscape. For a free estimate call (925) 672-9955, or email, or visit A complete photo gallery is available to view online.

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of chemical smells and one-hour haircuts. Now guys have a place that’s just for them. Sport Clips Haircuts is where guys can go to have a championship haircut experience. Sports on TV Guy smart stylists. Steamed towels. Shoulder and back massages. That’s what guys want and that’s what Sport Clips delivers. You won’t find chemical smells because we don’t perm or color. We just cut hair the way that guys want it cut. Check us out at the Clayton Valley Shopping Center (925) 673-5686. We are between Bronze Buddha and Tavo’s Pizza. Ask for the MVP treatment.


Come let us pamper your body, mind and spirit in our luxurious day spa. Slate walls evoke the sense of Old Italian ruins, while water fountains, cupid fairies, and grapevines add to the Italian-inspired atmosphere. There are four treatment rooms, two pedicure stations, one manicure table, and a sunless tanning area in the spa. Relaxing music plays in each room and treatment areas. The spa’s customized European Facial incorporates a cleansing, exfoliation, face, neck, and shoulder mas-

sage, extractions (if necessary), a hydrating facial mask, and aromatic moisturizer and sunscreen. Our massage therapy and spa body treatments are of the highest quality and are customized to your personal health and beauty needs. We specialize in professional skin care providing facials, manicures, pedicures, waxing, microdermabrasion, cellulite treatments, airbrush tanning and body wraps. Let our friendly professional staff guide you through the journey to total relaxation.

DONNA’S QUILTING LOFT After almost two years of offering friendly and knowledgeable quilting advice, notions and a huge quantity of quilting fabric, Donna’s Quilting Loft will close December 31. In the meantime, the store is chock full of exquisite quilting fabrics, so stop in now to take advantage of an incredible sale, currently 40 percent off all material. This is an unbelievable opportunity to stock up on fabric for quilting projects for this year’s holidays and for projects for years to come. Donna will continue to offer quilting services on her Gammill Classic Long Arm computerized quilting machine. She will work

her magic providing the finishing touch to your quilting projects now and in the future. Stop in to see how she works and the quilts she’s made. You might just get bitten by the quilting bug.

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PANS ON FIRE Pans on Fire is full of unique, entertaining and exciting ideas for the holidays! Try a cooking party! Gather a group of friends or co-workers and cook up some fresh pasta and sauces, or learn how to put on a full Thanksgiving dinner in three hours. With our fun daytime or evening classes you’ll learn how to prepare the entire menu, then sit down to enjoy your creations (even with wine, if you wish!). We offer several classes open to the public each month, too. Need a turkey brine, a fruity olive oil (now being served at Chez Panisse), a Swiss-made non-stick (non-teflon) pan, or a cooking gadget ensemble for kids? We’ve got everything for the serious as well as wanna-be cook. Pans on Fire is located in old downtown Pleasanton, just a half an hour from Walnut Creek. See

us online at or call us at (925) 600-PANS.

THE ROYAL ROOSTER Tired of the same old look available in every national chain store? The Royal Rooster has both hard-to-find antiques and custom-order furniture to fit your needs. Not just a furniture shop, The Royal Rooster also sells unique gifts for friends and family of all ages, including the popular Webkinz and a line of Melissa and Doug Toys. Their French Country specialties include gorgeous stationary and bath items for every occasion, including distinctive lines such as Thymes Bath & Body, Caldrea, Lollia, Sonoma Lavender and LaLavande French Soaps. Corporate gifts and personal shopping services are also available. The Pantry is stocked with delicious gourmet foods including Stonewall Kitchens, Barefoot Contessa, A Perfect Pear and Elaine’s Toffee. The Royal Rooster is located at the corner of Center and Diablo Streets in Clayton, behind Cup O’ Jo Coffee House. (925) 672-2025.

Page 12

Clayton Pioneer •

October 9, 2009

Clayton Sports CV football coaches Pardi, Coakley go way back JAY BEDECARRÉ Clayton Pioneer

The Clayton Valley High School football team is expecting to make another appearance in the North Coast Section playoffs, perhaps to even exceed last year’s NCS runner-up finish. However, it wasn’t always so for Clayton Valley football and a pair of Clayton men who go back decades together since first meeting have been pivotal in bringing Eagles football to this successful place. Herc Pardi had already established himself as a successful high school coach at Pittsburg High when he returned to his alma mater and took the reins as head coach in 1996. The first year Pardi’s team was 2-8 – the school’s eighth straight losing season. At the end of that 1996-97 school year, Jerry Coakley retired as a teacher and longtime coach at Mt. Diablo High. Coakley became a “team consultant” for Clayton Valley for the ’97 football season, working with defensive coordinator Jeff Gargalikis.

“He was a great resource on how to run a program the right way,” Pardi says. The Eagles ended the eightyear drought with a 9-3 record, second-place league finish and NCS semi-final berth. “We used his experience to turn our program around,” Pardi says of Coakley, who is now 72 years old and the defensive coordinator for the Eagles. Pardi’s coaching credentials rank high in Northern California. Among his finest moments was Dec. 7, 1991, when his Pittsburg Pirates won the NCS football championship for the third time by defeating three-time defending champion De La Salle. It would be 12 years before DLS lost another football game, winning 151 in a row from 1992-2003. Pardi was interviewed countless times over those dozen years, asking for his “secret” to beating the Spartans. At CVHS, Pardi’s Eagles tied De La Salle 17-17 in 2004, the only game against a Bay Area opponent DLS has not won since that 1991 game vs. Pitt.

INTERACTIONS ON THE FIELD The Pardi-Coakley pairing goes back to the 1960s. Pardi was a participant in a Concord Recreation summer baseball camp where Coakley (then a coach at Salesian High School in Richmond) was an instructor. As a CVHS junior Pardi got a job officiating intermediate

Mike Dunn/Clayton Pioneer



before old pal Herc Pardi brought him on to the Clayton Valley football staff in 1997.


school flag football, and Coakley was his supervisor. In 1970, Coakley had become the head baseball coach at Mt. Diablo and Pardi, a recent CVHS grad, played for him in the summer for the Concord American Legion team. They squared off as coaches in Colt League baseball in the summers from 1973 through ‘76, with Pardi handling the Clayton Colts and Coakley the Concord Colts. In 1973, Coakley’s Concord team tied Martinez for the league title. Coakley asked Pardi to be the third coach and business manager for the team in tournament play. Coakley also coached Mt. Diablo High basketball when the great Todd Lichti (later a Stanford star and NBA player) led the Red Devils. On the football field, they first crossed paths in 1979 when Pardi was head freshman coach at Pittsburg and Coakley was in the same position for MDHS. “We beat them on a ‘hook and pitch’ play 14-6,” Pardi remembers.

Mike Dunn/Clayton Pioneer

CLAYTON VALLEY HEAD FOOTBALL COACH HERC PARDI has enjoyed his time coaching at his alma mater.


Besides his high school coaching duties, Pardi also was active with youth basketball, softball and CYO programs over the years. He points with pride to people who have played for him and gone on to take up coaching, including Jerry Haflich at American River Community College, Vic Galli at Pittsburg High, Brian Hamilton

Mike Dunn/Clayton Pioneer

CLAYTON VALLEY HIGH’S FOOTBALL TEAM IS HOPING ITS CURRENT SEASON CAN BE AS SUCCESSFUL at that during the school’s Golden Anniversary in 2008 when the team was undefeated in league play and went all the way to the North Coast Section championship game. The Eagles begin league play next Friday, Oct. 16, at Mt. Diablo in Concord.

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at Concord High, Tony Darone at Mt. Diablo and Lisa Hobson at Clayton Valley. The current CV football staff features Pardi’s fellow alums Les Garaventa, Paul Reynaud and Dan Gentry. The Clayton Valley football program has seen the number of players in pads drop to about 100 this fall. “The economy and athletes specializing in one sport” account for the reduction from “good years of 125 players,” Pardi explains. The school district’s elimination of funding for high school sports has also hit home for the Eagles. COOPERATION WITH THE FALCONS On the plus side, Pardi is pleased with the efforts of the Clayton Valley Athletic Association football teams. “President Dave Cooney (another CVHS grad) has been super supportive,” Pardi says. The CVAA Falcons run tackle football teams for 7- to 14-yearolds, teaching fundamentals to youngsters before they reach high school. “(Former) Falcon players can block and tackle,” the Eagles coach praises. This year’s Clayton Valley team completed its non-league schedule undefeated in five games and begins Diablo Valley Athletic League play Oct. 16 at Mt. Diablo. Pardi says Ygnacio Valley and Mt. Diablo have been successful in pre-season, yet he sees Concord (“very athletic”) as the Eagles’ toughest test in defending their DVAL title. CVHS and Concord meet Oct. 23 in the Eagles Homecoming game at Gonsalves Stadium. Pardi, 57, and Coakley will continue to coach as long as it remains fun. “We’re in it one year at a time,” Pardi says.

October 9, 2009

Clayton Pioneer •

Help the Pioneer cover the local sports scene. Send competition results, story ideas, announcements, sports shorts, etc. to Please attach a high-resolution photo whenever available.

Page 13

Clayton Sports

CVHS Boys’ water polo has a junior look JAY BEDECARRÉ Clayton Pioneer

Mike Dunn/Clayton Pioneer

DEREK ANDERSON HAS BEEN THE STARTING GOALKEEPER FOR CLAYTON VALLEY BOYS WATER POLO since midway through his freshman year. The junior is a returning all-DVAL performer.

A trio of juniors, Derek Anderson, Kenny Johnson and Kevin Adams, forms the nucleus of the Clayton Valley High School boys’ water polo team, and third-year head coach Matt Vecchio has mentored those players since they were freshmen. “Each year, the boys have further embraced the right attitude, the winning attitude,” Vecchio notes. The Eagles have a winning record entering the stretch run this month leading to the DeLong Tournament in Modesto Oct. 23-24 and then the important Diablo Valley Athletic League tournament

Oct. 29-30, which gives the winner an automatic berth in the North Coast Section playoffs. The Eagles were in NCS five straight times through 2007 and have aspirations of making it back there this year. Vecchio, yet another Clayton Valley alumnus who has returned to the school as a coach, juggles his work time in sales with directing the Eagles boys’ water polo program. He calls on two young assistants and recent CVHS grads, Chris Mills and Nathan Nejad, to handle the junior varsity team and help him with varsity duties as well. “I also get staff support from one of the team dads, Craig Johnson, when needed,” Vecchio adds.

Clayton girl becomes youngest golfer to make hole-in-one at Oakhurst JAY BEDECARRÉ Clayton Pioneer

While watching the greatest female golfers in the world in Blackhawk last month, 9-yearold Clayton resident Jessica Hevener was basking in the glow of the hole-in-one she scored at Oakhurst Country Club on Labor Day. She became the youngest person to score an ace at the local course, which opened in 1990. The hole-in-one came eight days before the ninth birthday of the Mt. Diablo Elementary School third-grader. “I never thought I could do it,” Jessica says. Head pro Barret Hendrickson estimates there have been about 150 hole-inones during the nearly 20 years of play at Oakhurst. A study by Golf Digest says the odds of an average amateur player making an ace are 12,000 to 1. Jessica was playing with her mom and dad, Mary Anna and Rick Hevener, and her twin brother Andrew. “Jessica teed her ball up on the 92-yard par 3 and took a swing with her driver,” her dad recounts. “It bounced just off the green, hopped and rolled right into the cup.” Jessica was “very happy and excited” and decided to stop playing for the day after her accomplishment. The family joined Oakhurst last October. The twins have been playing golf since they

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The head coach encourages his players to participate in multiple sports. “When I was in school (Class of ’93), most kids played two or three sports. Now there is so much specialization,” he says. “We have boys who also play baseball, wrestling, volleyball and, of course, swimming. I think it’s important for kids to have a multi-sport experience.” On the other hand, Vecchio credits the development of his team to the fact that many of the boys play club water polo, especially with the 680 Drivers club of Walnut Creek, during the winter and summer. “I’ve got a great group of kids. I imagine most coaches say that, but I really mean it,” Vecchio says. “They enjoy being around each other. Many have grown up together and they are learning how to win together and how to finish games.” High school water polo matches feature six field players and a goalie playing four seven-minute quarters. Goalie Anderson won the varsity starting berth midway through his freshman year and made all-DVAL as a sophomore. While Anderson is racking up impressive save numbers in goal, his high school and club teammate Johnson is the Eagles leading scorer. Adams, another junior team leader, is a strong offensive force for CV. Vecchio describes his team as “excellent defensively” and cites seniors Taylor Bredell and Aaron Blatter for anchoring the defense in front of Anderson. On offense, he says the Eagles are strong outside shooters. When he was a varsity play-

Mike Dunn/Clayton Pioneer




CVHS BOYS WATER POLO TEAM. The junior Adams and his classmate Kenny Johnson provide the Eagles with their offensive spark.

er at Clayton Valley, Vecchio played for head coach Dennis Bledsoe – now the CVHS girls’ varsity coach. “The school has had a lot of coaches in the aquatics program in the past decade. When you look at the successful high school programs – De La Salle, Las Lomas, Monte Vista, San Ramon and the Lamorinda schools – they all have oncampus pools,” Vecchio adds. He knows the economic times aren’t right, but he has hopes that the efforts of CVHS boosters, Mt. Diablo YMCA and Cal State East Bay Concord campus to build an aquatics facility get rekindled.

Sports Shorts Photo courtesy Hevener family

CLAYTON’S OWN JESSICA HEVENER was just over a week shy of her ninth birthday when she took out her driver at Oakhurst Country Club on Labor Day and hit a hole-in-one at the third hole.

were about 6 and have participated in the Oakhurst Golf Camp as well as the First Tee birdie program at Boundary Oak in Walnut Creek. “My wife picked up the game a few years ago. She is taking lessons and learning,” Rick says. “Our goal is to be able to play as a family. Our biggest accomplishment to date is playing the nine-hole course at Golden Gate Golf Course in

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San Francisco. In fact, we played there two days before Jessica got her hole-in-one.” Tiger Woods made his first ace at age 6, while Michelle Wie was 12 before she made her first hole-in-one. During the ladies pro golf tour stop in Blackhawk, a 13-year-old from Livermore, Casie Cathrea, grabbed headlines when she recorded a hole-in-one during her first round.

Off the golf course, Jessica is in her second season with St. Bonaventure CYO basketball. She has been part of Clayton Valley Little League for four years, this past season in the outfield and second base for the undefeated Racers in minor division softball. American softball pitcher Jennie Finch is one of her sports heroes, along with golfers Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis.

5K RUN/WALK TO BENEFIT HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS The United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation is holding its largest fundraiser, a 5K Fun Run and Walk, at Newhall Park in Concord beginning at 9 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 18. Runners and those looking for a nice Sunday walk are encouraged to sign up. All proceeds support high school athletic programs at the six Mt. Diablo Unified School District high schools, including Clayton Valley. Every participant more than 8 years old receives a commemorative T-shirt. The event is sponsored by Diablo FC. Register online at DIABLO FC SOCCER SKILLS ACADEMY Diablo FC, in partnership with the Mt. Diablo Soccer Association, is holding a Fall Skills Academy 5:30-6:30 p.m. Fridays through Nov. 6 at Boatwright Sports Complex in Concord. The renowned Diablo FC professional coaching staff will teach boys and girls 5 to 10 years old basic dribbling and juggling skills, passing and receiving the ball and ball striking. Youth of all skill levels from novice to those ready for competitive soccer are invited to attend. Sign up at or come to the next session.

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Clayton Pioneer •

October 9, 2009

Deacon-in-Training hopes to inspire congregation to get out and serve DRE#00906625

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Patricia Pearson is in training to become a nag. Pearson, a former telecommunications manager, has answered another kind of call. She is now a deacon-in-training in the Episcopal Church, based at St. John’s in Clayton, for the next year. According to Episcopal tradition and practice, a deacon is an ordained person whose role is to interpret to the congregation the

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Church News CLAYTON VALLEY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH “A Celestial Omnibus” returns to the church at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12, with stories by Anne Taylor and Bernard Malamud read by local actors. All are welcome. “Liberty and Justice for All,” a discussion group on the place of the church in politics, continues at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, for four more Wednesdays. Discussion leaders will be Rev. Gail Doering and Rev. Will Mcgarvey of Pittsburg Community Church. The church will celebrate Oktoberfest 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17. The event includes food and prizes.

The church is at 1578 Kirker Pass, Clayton. For more information, call 672-4848 or visit

needs and concerns of the world, in addition to liturgical duties. The deacon also serves as a model for parishioners to go out into the world to serve people in their communities. Or, as presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori puts it, deacons are called to be “the nags of the church.” “Priests are so busy with the multiple activities of running a parish and meeting the pastoral needs of their congregations that there’s never enough time to address the overwhelming community needs that are out there,” Pearson says. “A deacon’s ministry is to serve all the people in the community, particularly the poor, the sick, the weak and the lonely.” Pearson believes everyone can and perhaps should be doing something to help in the community, and one of the roles of the deacon is to inspire his or her congregation to get out and get involved. Each Episcopal deacon finds his or her special call to service. For many years, one has overseen a jail ministry at San Quentin, working with longterm inmates. St. John’s two deacons, Rev. Chris McManus and Rev. Trish Ross, are involved in the Clayton parish with adult and youth education and healing activities. They also volunteer with Midwives on Missions of Service (MOMS), a program that takes them twice yearly to Africa. There, they train midwives in Sierra Leone, one of the world’s poorest countries. Pearson’s community sights are set closer to home, to work with the ill and dying in the Clayton-Concord community as a hospice chaplain and with

Tamara Steiner/Clayton Pioneer

St. John’s Patricia Pearson plans to work as a hospice chaplain when she completes her deacon training next year.

Meals on Wheels. “We are blessed to have Patricia as a part of our ministry team at St. John’s, Clayton,” says Rev. Peter Champion, rector of St. John’s. “She brings a passion for serving those too often ignored or underserved in our society. She also brings a thoughtful and incisive mind and a fresh set of eyes. She will be a tremendous help as St. John’s seeks to understand how God is calling our parish to be of service to the community and the wider world.” Pearson is in her final year of the three-year program at the

Episcopal School for Deacons in Berkeley. The program emphasizes both academic study and church and community service. At the end of her studies, and with approval by a number of church committees and the bishop of the Diocese of California, she will be ordained as a deacon. While engaged in her studies and service, Pearson works parttime as a paralegal for a San Ramon law firm. She and her spouse, Sharyn, live in Danville, where Patricia had been, and Sharyn remains, a member of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church.


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A few weeks ago, I was hiking with my family in Big Sur. We were enjoying the vibrant blue ocean erupting in white sea spray as it crashed into a rock. Smiling, I turned to look at my daughter standing in the brush. It was then that I noticed multiple black dots on her legs and the dots were moving! On closer inspection, I saw that she had ticks all over her pants. My son proudly counted 15. We immediately started flicking them off before they could find exposed skin. After quick body inspections, we high-tailed it out of there. A tick is an ugly creature about a quarter of an inch in length that lives on blood. That means you, me, deers, whatever. A tick acquires a meal by sticking his nose (called a hypostome) into the skin of a mammal. Once in the skin, the tick uses its nose barbs to hold on. It secures its position by secreting a cement-like structure into the hole it created. Once the tick is full, which

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DOC TALK can take several days, it will detach and look for another buffet. It wouldn’t be a big deal except for the fact that ticks can transmit diseases when they feed. Diseases include Q fever, Babeiosis and Lyme disease. The good news is that the likelihood of disease transmission is only 1-3 percent and has to do with multiple factors such as the presence of the disease in the tick, the location of the pathogen in the bug and the length of time that the tick is attached. So don’t panic and run to you doctor when you notice a tick.

My most important piece of advice is to prevent the tick from attaching in the first place. When you go out in the brush, wear long pants and tuck the pant legs into your socks. This prevents any skin exposure. Apply insect repellant to any exposed skin and do frequent “tick checks.” After your hike, do a fullbody tick check looking closely in the armpit and groin areas. If you find a tick that is embedded, remove it as soon as possible. Everyone I talk to seems to have a different idea of how to remove a tick. Let me set the record straight. First off, do not try to burn the tick off with a match or other heated object. This will probably burn you and it will cause the tick to regurgitate its stomach contents into the wound, leading to increased risk of infection or local reaction. Do not try to suffocate the tick with petroleum jelly, nail polish, alcohol or gasoline. A tick only breathes

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three to 15 times per hour. Thus, they are difficult to drown. Attempting to do so may give you a reaction to the stuff that you use. The best way to remove a tick is to use tweezers or forceps. Alternatively, you can use commercial tick removal devices. Grasp the tick by its head as close to the skin as possible. Do not squeeze too hard as this may cause the tick to regurgitate into the wound. Apply slow, steady traction to the tick on a perpendicular axis from the skin until the tick releases. Then kill it. Check the skin for any retained pieces and try to remove them with forceps. Then clean the skin with antiseptic and apply antibiotic ointment to the area. The question of antibiotics after a tick bite always arises and the consensus from the medical community is that they are not needed. You are more likely to have a reaction to an antibiotic than to get a disease from the bite. We are trying to avoid using antibiotics in general as our overuse of these medications has contributed to the emergence of resistant bacteria to which no antibiotic is useful. You should see your doctor after a tick bite if you develop a rash, headache, fever, stiff neck or if you can’t remove the tick completely. Dr. Birdsall is the Medical Director of the Emergency Department and Chief of Staff of John Muir Hospital in Concord. He lives in Walnut Creek with his wife, Dr. Marian Birdsall, and two children. Please email him at David.

October 9, 2009

Clayton Pioneer •

Page 15

Clayton residents receive Bon Appetit Hot 10 award Once upon a time, Fiona and Larry Hughes went to Portugal, where they found some European magic in the form of the Beehive wood-fired oven and Al Fresco Imports was born. A July call from Barbara Fairchild, editor of Bon Appétit magazine, capped an exciting five-year journey when the Clayton couple received the magazine’s prestigious Hot 10 Award for bringing authentic European wood-fired pizzamaking to the backyard. “It’s a lofty award,” Fiona said, noting that past recipients include Julia Child, Robert Mondavi and Alice Waters. “Bon Appétit flew us to New York and put us up in a Manhattan hotel for the awards.” The fairy tale doesn’t end there. They’ve been featured in the Los Angeles Times and Sunset magazine as well. “The phone’s been ringing off the hook,” said Fiona. Handcrafted by third-generation artisans, the oven caught their eye in Portugal because of its intrinsic beauty as well as an appealing functionality. The free-standing, terracotta oven does so much more than just cook pizza in two minutes. “It was the same kind that was in use before the time of the Romans,” Fiona reported. After the couple ate a meal

FIONA HUGHES WAS IN GOOD COMPANY when she received the Bon Appétit Hot 10 award from TV personality, Ted Allen for the BeeHive Wood Fired Oven. Previous recipients include Julia Child and Robert Mondavi

prepared in the Beehive, they were sold. “It tasted incredible,” Fiona said. “It’s a very healthy way to cook and the Mediterranean style is very popular now.” Delighted with their find, the Hughes brought one home. Life would never be the same. “We changed our careers because of it,” Fiona said. Prior to the discovery, Fiona was an executive in public relations while Larry worked with

Lucent Technologies. They decided to start a company devoted to innovative, woodfired ovens for outdoor entertaining with the Beehive oven as a flagship product. “It normally comes without a stand,” Fiona explained. “We had the stands custom made by Moose Metal of Concord. We like using local companies wherever possible.” Creating the oven involves powder coating the metal in a

process that gives it the same strength as automotive metals, able to resist the elements while looking attractive. “The oven fires up to 1,000 degrees (Fahrenheit), which makes it ideal for cooking anything from pizza, meats, salmon – just about anything that you can cook in a conventional oven.” At a fraction of the price of building a permanent system in your backyard, the Beehive oven can go with you when you move. Marketing the oven worked well once Fiona decided her market niche. She managed to get in some name catalogs, including Williams-Sonoma, helped by her position of holding the solo rights to import the oven. “When I first saw the Beehive, I knew that my longing for a wood-fired oven would finally become a reality,” said customer Anna Kosova. “Now I’m experimenting with fish and meats – all succulent with an amazingly rustic flavor.” Like any good fairy tale, the road to the Bon Appétit award took an interesting twist. Two years ago, a Bon Appétit food editor called for information about their wood-fired stoves and the Beehive in particular. “Better than my telling you, let me show you,” said Fiona, who promptly arranged for a Beverly Hills’ client near the editor’s office to graciously allow her to demonstrate the oven in the backyard.

“So here we are sitting in Beverly Hills, outside,” Fiona recounted. “His jaw dropped.” She prepared a full meal, steak with vegetables and fixings, to show how well it worked. “I love it,” she said. “It sizzles when it cooks.” The magazine featured a blurb about the oven that also mentioned Al Fresco Imports. Fiona believes people are

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On the Net, from page 6 for just about any song, artist or album and begin listening within seconds. You can create playlists of your favorite music and listen to them as often as you like, for free. The songs play at CD quality. I searched for songs by popular artists like Paul McCartney, Mariah Carey and Lady Gaga and was able to pick the songs I wanted and put them into a single playlist. Internet radio stations, on the other hand, tend to be more random and will sometimes include songs I don’t want. The Website even lets you upload your iTunes music collection, playlists and all, and listen to it wherever you have an Internet connection. Because you can add songs from another user’s playlist to your own, Imeem’s collection grows richer the more people upload. For example, I was able to find several obscure songs by an artist I like on one woman’s playlist. Notably, you aren’t allowed to

upload copyright protected music purchased from Apple. You can use Imeem’s iPhone application to listen to your music while on the go, without having to take up your phone’s memory. Another popular music sharing Website is This site uses a sharing system like Imeem’s, but is more helpful for tracking music you listen to and learning more about artists. is much cleaner than Imeem, although it doesn’t have as large a collection of music. You can use to search for individual artists to read their biographies, see their list of albums and find related artists. This last feature is particularly useful. On Carey’s page, for example, you can see how other artists compare to her music. uses a “similarity meter” to gauge whether an artist closely resembles Carey’s R&B style. For instance, Whitney Houston, Beyonce and Janet Jackson have

music that has “super similarity” with Carey, while Rihanna is listed as having “very high similarity.” You can also download a special application that will sync with iTunes and track your music. This application will update your profile on, so your friends can see what songs you are listening to during the day. The application keeps track of every song you’ve listened to. I’ve heard more than 15,000 songs since 2006. My friends can even create a radio station on based on my favorite songs and artists. The new iTunes, Imeem and are a threat to music subscription services, along with Internet radio, as they make sharing any type of music free and easy. That’s a change worth singing about. Mark Freeman is a student at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, studying economics and English. He enjoys creative writing and is a reporter for the school paper. Questions/comments can be sent to

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Clayton Pioneer •

October 9, 2009



In Clayton Through October Clayton Farmers Market Special Halloween activities this month. 8 a.m.noon Saturdays, Diablo Street in downtown Clayton. or 800-949-3276.

Close by Oct. 9-31 “The Texas Chainsaw Musical” Takes the classic movie beyond any ordinary realm. Willows Cabaret, 636 Ward St., Martinez. or 798-1300. Oct. 9-Nov. 1 “Broadway Bound” The third part of Neil Simon’s autobiographical trilogy, with Onstage Theatre. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. 943SHOW or Oct. 9-Nov. 7 “Oliver!” Contra Costa Musical Theatre presents Dickens’ classic tale. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. 943-SHOW or

Nov. 4 Holiday Boutique More than 20 vendors, free entertainment and food/bake sale to benefit Highlands Elementary School. 1-7 p.m., 1326 Pennsylvania Blvd., Concord. Contact Stephanie at 783-1238.

CLASSES Nov. 3 “Could It Be Dyslexia?” Learn about the classic warning signs and solutions to the struggles with reading, writing and spelling. Presented by April McMurtrey, a dyslexia specialist. Sponsored by Mt. Diablo Adult Education. 7-8 p.m., Mt. Diablo Elementary MultiUse Room, 5880 Mt. Zion Dr., Clayton. Free. 6857340.

AT THE LIBRARY The Clayton Community Library is at 6125 Clayton Road. Most programs are free. 673-0659 or Through Dec. 1 Patty Cakes Story time for babies to 3-year-olds. Child attends with caregiver. Drop-in 11 a.m. Tuesdays. Through Dec. 3 Picture Book Time Story time for 3- to 5-year-olds. Child may attend without caregiver. Drop-in 11 a.m. Thursdays.

Oct. 11-13 California Symphony The season opens with visual motion artist Michael Moschen. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. 280-2490 or

Oct. 16-18 Used Book Sale Most books $1. Half off most books Sunday. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 17 and noon-4 p.m. Oct. 18. Preview for library foundation members, 4-7 p.m. Oct. 16.

Oct. 12-Nov. 8 “Barefoot in the Park” Neil Simon’s nostalgic look at newlyweds. Willows Theatre, 1975 Diamond Blvd., Concord. 7981300 or

Oct. 19-Nov. 19 Clayton Reads The second annual Clayton Reads features “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson. A free copy of the book may be picked up at the library starting Oct. 19, as long as supply lasts. Readers are encouraged to pass the book on to friends and neighbors. Events include: “Islamic Contributions to Civilization,” 7 p.m. Oct. 26; “The Miseducation of Pakistan,” 7 p.m. Nov. 2; “Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum,” 7 p.m. Nov. 4; “Midwives on a Mission of Service,” 2 p.m. Nov. 8; “Daughters of Afghanistan,” 7 p.m. Nov. 9; “Three Cups of Tea” book discussion, 7 p.m. Nov. 16; and a Tea Party, 4 p.m. Nov. 19.

Oct. 23-Nov. 21 “Witness for the Prosecution” Center REPertory Company presents the Agatha Christie drama. 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. $18-$41. or 943-7469. Halloween Oct. 23-24, Oct. 30-31 Ramirez Family Haunted House Family and friends come together again to put some fear and fun into Halloween. 7-10 p.m. Oct. 23, 24 and 30 and 6-10 p.m. Oct. 31, 1903 Meredith Court, Concord. Free. 689-6211. Oct. 28 Boo Night Includes pumpkin carving, games, a costume contest and trick-or-treating. $2 donation for Haunted House to support Strong Kids campaign. Sponsored by the YMCA. 6-8 p.m., Clayton Community Gym, 700 Gym Court. Oct. 31 Ghost Walk Led by Clayton historian Richard Taylor. Meet at 7:30 p.m., Endeavor Hall, 6008 Center St., Clayton. Bring a flashlight; costumes optional. 672-6171.

FUNDRAISERS Oct. 11, 25 Breakfast with the Veterans of Foreign Wars 8-11 a.m. the second and fourth Sundays, Veterans Memorial Hall, 2290 Willow Pass Road, Concord. $4 adults, $2 children under 12. Oct. 18 5K Fun Run/Walk Sponsored by the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation, to benefit high school sports. 9 a.m., Newhall Park, Concord. Register at Oct. 24, Nov. 7 Blue Star Moms Holiday Donation Drive Donations most needed are small toys, plus items for service dogs. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 24, Concord Veterans Building, 2290 Willow Pass Road. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 7, Wal-Mart, 1021 Arnold Dr., Martinez.

YMCA Register at or 889-1600. Or, contact Jennifer at 692-2364 or Nov. 7-Dec. 18 Youth Basketball For preschool through fifth grade. $113, or $123 non-residents. Nov. 7-Dec. 19 Youth Flag Football For first through sixth grade. Contact Brittney at 692-2362 or Through June 17 Middle School After-School Program Fun, safe, supervised environment for children with indoor/outdoor activities, homework help, healthy snacks and monthly special events. $220 a month for three days a week; $300 a month for five days.

NATURE Oct. 18 Oil Canyon Odyssey Five-mile rugged hike. Meet 8 a.m. at MP #43 Contra Loma/Black Diamond Mines. Register at 1888-EBPARKS option 2, 3 course 22537. Oct. 25 Flaming Ecology Learn about fire on a two-mile moderate hike. Meet 9 a.m. at MP #42 Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. No registration required. Nov. 8 Save Mount Diablo’s Trail Adventure Includes a half-marathon, 10K run, family hike and lunch. 9 a.m., Castle Rock Park, Walnut Creek. $35 before Oct. 28, or $40.

CITY MEETINGS Oct. 13, 27 Clayton Planning Commission 7 p.m., Hoyer Hall, Clayton Library, 6125 Clayton Road. 673-7304 or Oct. 20 Clayton City Council 7 p.m., Hoyer Hall, Clayton Library, 6125 Clayton Road. 673-7304 or

CLUBS Clayton Business and Community Association Meets 6:30 p.m. the last Thursday of the month, except holidays, Oakhurst Country Club, 1001 Peacock Creek Dr., Clayton. Call Sue at 6722272. Clayton Valley Garden Club Meets 7 p.m. the second Wednesday of the month. Oct. 14 speaker is Ken Williams of the Contra Costa Master Gardeners speaking on “Integrated Pest Management.” Contact Dorothy at 672-2526 or visit Clayton Valley Woman’s Club Meets 9:30 a.m. for coffee, 10 a.m. meeings, second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 1090 Alberta Way, Concord. Membership drive is Oct. 27. Call Joyce at 6723850. Clutch Busters Square Dance Club Meets 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Mt. Diablo Women’s Club, 1700 Farm Bureau Road, Concord. Contact Dorothy at 754-8117. Concord Stompers Square Dance Club Meets 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Mt. Diablo Women’s Club, 1700 Farm Bureau Road, Concord. Call Jennie at 672-9676 or Contra Costa Blue Star Moms Meets 6:30 p.m. Oct. 26, Countrywood Clubhouse, 1706 Countrywood Court, Walnut Creek. Members have sons and daughters in uniform. Contra Costa Chess Club Meets 7-9:30 p.m. Thursdays, Starbuck’s, 1536 Kirker Pass Road, Clayton. Players of all ages and skill levels welcome. Contact Mike at 639-1987 or Contra Costa Mineral and Gem Society Meets 7:30 p.m. second Monday of the month, Centre Concord, 5298 Clayton Road. 779-0698 or Creekside Artists Guild Meets 7-8:30 p.m. the second Wednesday of the month, Clayton Library Story Room, 6125 Clayton Road, Clayton. All artforms and both emerging and experienced are welcome. Contact Arlene at 673-9777 or Or Diablo Valley Democratic Club Meets 7 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month, Ygnacio Valley Library, 2661 Oak Grove Road, Walnut Creek. 946-0469 or Diablo Valley Macintosh Users Group Meets 6:30-9 p.m. the third Tuesday of the month. Bancroft Elementary School, 2700 Parish Dr., Walnut Creek. 689-1155 or Rotary Club of Clayton Valley/Concord Sunrise Meets 7 a.m. Thursdays, Oakhurst Country Club, 1001 Peacock Creek Dr., Clayton. Includes breakfast and a speaker. Contact Chuck at 689-7640 or Scrabble Club Meets 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. second and fourth Saturdays of the month, Carl’s Jr. Restaurant, 1530 Kirker Pass Road, Clayton. All ages and skill levels welcome. $3 fee. Call Mike at 639-1987 or Sons In Retirement (SIR) Meets 11:15 a.m. first Thursday of the month, Oakhurst Country Club, 1001 Peacock Creek Dr., Clayton. 429-3777. Widows/Widowers Meets for dinner, brunch, theater, etc. This is not a dating service nor is it a greiving class - just a way to meet other people. Contact Lori at 9988844 or

October 9, 2009

Clayton Pioneer •

Getting swept up in the emotions of Homecoming “When I meet a pretty girl and beg her: ‘Be so good as to come with me,’ and she walks past without a word, this is what she means to say ...” – Franz Kafka, “Rejection” The halls of my high school are filled with roses and anxious boys. While this may sound vaguely like Valentine’s Day, it’s simply the default procedure for asking a girl to Homecoming. I have also witnessed scavenger hunts on campus, presents in each class and even songs performed to do the asking. However, I can’t help but wonder if these sweet, but elaborate rituals are blowing the simple act of asking someone to a social event out of proportion. In some cases, asking elaborately can be terribly embarrassing; I have seen rejection on more than one occasion. When a boy asks a girl to go to Homecoming with him in full view of the student body, there’s no graceful way for a girl to decline without appearing heartless or shallow. Additionally, it can present a humiliating experience of


TEEN TALK rejection for the boy. I’ve seen some complicated schemes contrived to ask a girl on a date. In my freshman year, a boy drove his truck up to a girl’s classroom, music streaming out of his windows, so that he could ask her to Homecoming, roses in hand. I’ve also seen someone whip out a guitar and sing a song that he wrote. I understand that it can seem incredibly special, but it’s just an invitation to a high school social event held in the gym. What is going to happen to these people when they propose marriage? I wonder if the outrageous ways of asking someone to Homecoming are

School News CLAYTON VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL Families, faculty and community members are invited to join students in building pride in the school, 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18. Volunteers will provide refreshments for participants of the Newhall Park 5K run to benefit the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation. Then, grab your rakes, gloves, weed eaters, hedge trimmers, elbow grease and gardening tools to spruce up the planters in the quad, remove trash and shine up the campus. Sponsors and donations are needed. Email to donate or volunteer.

heightened by the spirit of competition. Meanwhile, these shenanigans are a surefire way of ensuring that wallflowers are aware of their status. I’ve been in both positions. I’ve felt awkward when I wasn’t asked to social events. But sometime when I have been asked to social events, I’ve felt even more awkward – especially because I didn’t feel that I could decline graciously. While creative ways of asking someone to be your date can be thoughtful and fun, it’s probably advantageous to know exactly where you stand with that person first. Some people take advantage of Homecoming as a way to start a relationship. In that case, a fancier “proposal” could be significant. However, if the date is just a friend, an elaborately constructed moment could be misinterpreted. And if the invitation is declined, all the effort could be in vain. This year, I’ve witnessed many boys asking girls to Homecoming, some with carefully planned invitations and all of them with flowers. I’ve even been privy to a few of the rejections. When I see the various repercussions of asking someone to Homecoming, the amount of energy and emotions spent in preparation for one night seems wasted. Asking someone to Homecoming should be simple. Let’s try to keep that in perspective.

Cady Lang is a senior at Berean Christian High School. She plans to major in English and eventually pursue a career in writing. Email her at cady@clayton

Page 17

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Budget Cuts, from page 1 custodial supervisor and one day from the librarians’ work week. Due to these financial changes, class sizes have soared. Last year, freshman English and math classes held 20 students. This year, ninth-grade English classes have 33 students and math classes have 37. Many other classes have seen a rise in the headcount, as well. “Most of my classes are so much bigger than last year,” said sophomore Joanna Fan. “And most of the teachers can’t handle it and don’t have time to focus on people’s individual needs, which I have a lot of.” Some students have been turned away from classes to comply with the state’s requirements. The chemistry honors program was forced to transfer 10 students into regular chemistry classes due to the 28 students per class limit. “I transferred out because

honors chem was way too full, so there weren’t enough books or seats and people had to sit at the back tables,” says sophomore Adrien Capinpin. World history teacher Jenny DeAngelis’ class is capped at 37 students. “In terms of individual attention, a class of 37 is hard to deal with because of all the things that are going on,” she notes. The decrease in class sections has forced all classes to be filled to the brim. This makes changing schedules nearly impossible without going over the maximum number of students allowed in specific classes. The loss of American Sign Language and the wavering existence of athletics at Clayton Valley are also making an impact. While fall sports have the go-ahead, winter and spring sports will be canceled if attempts to compensate for the lack of funding fail to allow the

school to break even. The district has already raised the sports fees by $50 and increased gate fees. A 5K fundraiser will be held Oct. 18 at Newhall Park. “Cutting sports is going to destroy any school spirit we have left,” says junior Kera Prell. Those in administration are doing their best to keep optimistic, despite the fact that more mid-year cuts are to come this February. Principal Gary Swanson is even more troubled about the future then he is about the present state. He believes people need to realize how valuable a quality education is and that every penny taken from schools now is going to cost our society thousands in the future. “There is going to be a cost tomorrow for shortchanging our education today,” he warns. Taylor Tovrea is a sophomore at CVHS and a regular contributor to her school newspaper.

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10/16 Fri 7pm . . . . . . . .American Girls Club 10/18 Sun 1 pm . . . . . .Douglas Gayeton, author of “Slow: Life in a Tuscan Town.” 10/18 Sun 3pm . . . . . . .Sean Senechal, author of “Dogs Can Sign: A Breakthrough Method for Teaching Your Dog to Communicate.” 10/25 Sun 3pm . . . . . . .Laura Anne Gilman, author of “Flesh & Fire: Book One of the Vineart War,” & Deborah Grabien, author of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps: A JP Kinkaid Mystery.” 10/27 Tues 6:30pm . . . .Ying Chang Compestine, author of “A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts.” Ying will host A FULL CHINESE BANQUET. Seating is limited. Call the store for more information and reservations.

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Page 18

Clayton Pioneer •

Screwball newlyweds in ‘Park’ are a different kind of ‘Odd Couple’ GARY CARR Special to the Pioneer

Brown salad, a hole in the roof and a know-it-all neighbor are some of the challenges to Corie and Paul Bratter as they begin married life in a Greenwich Village sixth-floor walkup. “Barefoot in the Park,” the laugh-filled comedy by Neil Simon, the man who gave us “The Odd Couple,” is the latest at the Willows Theatre in Concord. This nostalgic look at newlyweds and New York in the ’60s is directed by Richard Elliott. It stars Melissa Quine and Brady Wollery as Corie and Paul Bratter, the young couple played by Jane Fonda and Robert Redford in the 1967 film. Quine and Wollery were paired earlier this year in another successful Willows comic staging, “Be My Baby.” The cast also includes Lawrence Robert Rose, Garry

Grossman and Sally Hogarty. Paul is a straight-laced attorney, Corie a spontaneous free spirit. Sparks begin to fly as soon as Corie and Paul return from their honeymoon to find the impulsive Corie’s apartment choice is, to say the least, offthe-wall. Quirky neighbors and a giant hole in the skylight, perfect for a New York City winter! Things get a little too cozy for the young couple, and hilarity and classic Simon one-liners ensue as the power of love gets tested to its limits. Simon is at his best in this heart-warming comedy about sacrifices, new beginnings and not letting obstacles get in the way of what truly matters.

“Barefoot in the Park” runs Oct. 12-Nov. 8 at the Willows Theatre, 1975 Diamond Blvd., Concord. For more information call 798-1300 or

October 9, 2009

Movie Review

‘Meatballs’ may be corny, but it’s still good fun DON PEDRO CRUZ




“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is a lightweight romp loosely inspired by the children’s book written by Judith Barrett and fancifully illustrated by her husband Ron. The animated movie about food that falls from the skies, sometimes in gigantic proportions, adds in a bunch of storylines about children connecting with their parents and trying to be successful and popular vs. being a good person. It’s not exactly groundbreaking in the story department, but it does have a lot of good solid laughs and a cast that knows how to deliver the funny lines. Reminiscent of other recent animated releases, such as “Aliens vs. Monsters,” “Cloudy” isn’t a brand-new dish, but it is prepared well and does what a good animated movie should do: show you things you couldn’t see in real life and make you say wow. A giant fishbowl stunt is both hysterical and breathtaking to watch. The movie centers on Flint, a young inventor whose ideas always seem to go awry. From spray-on shoes to flying rats, Flint’s ideas have enthusiasm and intelligence that always outpace practicality as he tries to win the respect of his town and

Sony Pictures Animation

ASPIRING WEATHER REPORTER SAM SPARKS (ANNA FARIS), INVENTER FLINT LOCKWOOD (BILL HADER) and Steve the monkey are startled when hamburgers rain from the sky. It’s only the beginning of the food storm in “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”

most of all, his father (voice of James Caan), a simple monosyllabic man who runs a bait shop. Flint is voiced by Bill Hader, one of the latest rising stars to break out of the “Saturday Night Live” camp. When he perfects a machine that can create food out of water, Flint finally invents something that really seems to work. But before you know it, this invention goes wrong as well and soon the whole world is menaced by giant hotdogs, spaghetti tornadoes and mountains of leftovers that come with having too much food. Several other storylines weave in and out of the giant food debacle: a formerly

famous child star (voice of Andy Samberg) trying to get back his lost glory, Flint’s father’s efforts to keep his bait shop business alive and pass it on to his son, the TV weather reporter who hides her intelligence so people will like her and the greedy mayor of the town who gets bigger and bigger along with the food. Even a minor character such as Steve the monkey (voice of Neil Patrick Harris), who has about five words in his vocabulary, establishes himself as part of the ensemble with slapstick bits that appear without warning and vanish before they get overplayed. While the story is a bunch of

fluff built around the food sight gags and one-liners, the cast manages to hold it together with great comedic timing. Hader, Caan, Anna Faris, Bruce Campbell and even Mr. T make their characters funny and distinct enough to keep you laughing through a visual food fight that doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value, but still tastes sweet. Don Pedro Cruz is a local freelance writer and graphic designer. Send your comments to

Book Review

War looms large in this complex novel of murder and scandal Photo courtesy Willows Theatre

MELISSA QUINE AND BRADY WOLLERY star in Neil Simon’s in “Barefoot in the Park.”

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In what appears to be a blend of myth, confession and family history, Nicole Helget has created a lyrical world to engage the reader in her debut novel, “The Turtle Catcher.” The book is a family history, but it is also the chronicle of a community. Liesel Richter is the central figure in the story, and though she is flawed, she is no more or no less flawed than any of her kin; she is, simply, who she is. “The Turtle Catcher” begins with scandal, moves swiftly to murder and then rolls back on itself to spin the story out. This novel does not unfold in a linear manner. In this regard, it is like memory. A family history is much too complex to be marched from A to M to Z in an orderly fashion. There are the players to consider.

Neighbors. Uncles. Sin. Redemption. Jews. German immigrants. War. Dysfunction. Love. Malice. Kindness. “In the time just after the big war, when banks weren’t to be trusted and when snapper turtle stew, a cheap meal for the big families common in those days, bubbled on stovetops in farm kitchens, the three Richter brothers led Lester Sutter to the edge of Spider Lake to watch him drown though the sights of their rifles. They drove him in with the barrels of their guns and stood guard among the cattails as the water filled his boots and soaked his overalls.” Though she loves him, it is Liesel’s fault that poor Lester is forced to drown himself. They are a pair of misfits who find

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is that she simply relays the story. With all its quirks, betrayals, prejudices and innocence, the story unfolds and with each page, another layer of meaning is revealed about who these people are and how they arrived where they are in the moment. There is no judgmental tone in the narrative, as if to say: This thing happened, but not in isolation and not without circumstance. Look. Decide for yourself. Cynthia Gregory has won numerous awards for her short fiction. Her work has appeared in Glimmer Train Press, the Red Rock Review, Writer’s Digest, The Sun, The Ear, Santa Barbara Review, Black River Review, Briarcliff Review, Chicago Tribune, Bon Appetit, and the Herb Quarterly. You can write her at

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communion in their otherness. Trying to obviate her existential pain, Liesel betrays slow-witted Lester in a way that ultimately leads to his execution. But it isn’t quite as simple as that. In a fit of anti-German sentiment, Lester’s bitter father had set fire to the Richter family barn, and in the process, murdered a pair of young lovers hiding out in the hayloft. These were the years leading up to World War II and antiGerman sentiment ran high in pockets of America, though the United States was not actually involved yet in the war. In those days, paranoia was enough reason to hate and a flimsy excuse was the only one needed. And in rural America, some communities took justice into their own hands. In a way, Lester’s murder could be viewed as retribution. But you can’t really call it that either, because the incident with Lester is packaged with its own set of complications. The beauty of Helget’s prose

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Clayton Pioneer •

Page 19

Watercress - ancient ‘super’ food splashes on to American tables Watercress is not appreciated in America as it is elsewhere in the world, so chances are that you’ve never tried it. I’ve seen some beautiful ’cress in the stores these days, so it may be time to bring something new to the dining table. A deep green leaf, watercress (Nasturtium officinale) is a pungent, peppery member of the crucifer (mustard) family. Some say it’s bitter, but part of that is due to age and growing conditions. It is remarkable for its nutrient value, with Vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. Watercress is one of the most venerable of green vegetables used by humans both as a food and for its tonic and medicinal qualities – an ancient “superfood” of sorts. It’s said that Greek, Roman and Persian soldiers ate watercress during their campaigns for strength and to ward off scurvy. Egyptian rulers doled out watercress juice twice a day to slaves to increase their productivity, while the Medieval French used the juice to accompany roast meats to balance the meal for good health. The “father of medicine,”





Hippocrates, reportedly located his first hospital next to a stream so he could gather fresh watercress to treat his patients. The ancient Romans and AngloSaxons ate watercress to prevent baldness. Victorian England believed that watercress cured hiccups, toothaches and even freckles. Even today, eating watercress for its attributes abounds. Islanders in Crete believe it to be an aphrodisiac and ancient recipes are handed down from one generation to the next. Many of today’s “detox” diets include watercress, and naturopaths often recommend the green to treat kidney and bladder disorders. Watercress only grows in clear, running water and is intolerant of any pollution. Although native to Europe and Asia, ’cress cultivation is now the highest in the E a s t e r n

United States. At one time, Huntsville, Ala., was known as the Watercress Capital of the World. Highly perishable, watercress should be consumed within a day or two of purchase. I store it in the coldest part of my fridge covered with plastic, with the roots in a shallow cup of water. The ancient Romans were fond of watercress in salads, mixed with other greens and served simply with oil and vinegar, some pepper and cumin seed. The salad tradition continues to this day, although some recipes call for it in soups, quiches and other cooked dishes. Of course, watercress sandwiches are the mainstay of English tea service. GRAPEFRUIT, AVOCADO AND WATERCRESS SALAD ½ c. walnut halves or pieces 1 pink grapefruit 1 ripe Hass avocado 8 slices prosciutto 8 thin slices parmesan cheese 1 bunch watercress, rinsed and large stems removed 1 T. chopped flat-leaf parsley Dressing (see recipe below) Peel, seed and thinly slice avocado. Cut off peel and pith of grapefruit and cut out segments. Discard the juice or use elsewhere. In a salad bowl, toss together all ingredients except parsley. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 tsp. Dijon mustard and 1 T. sherry vinegar. Slowly drizzle in 2 T. olive oil while whisking. Repeat with 2 T. walnut oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add more olive oil or walnut oil if desired, whisking to make a smooth emulsion. Toss salad with dressing, top with parsley and serve.

CREAM OF WATERCRESS SOUP 1 c. chopped onion 1 T. olive oil 1 Russet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes 4 c. vegetable stock 1 large bunch watercress, washed and chopped coarsely ¾ c. half and half ¼ tsp. salt 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and onions and sauté until they turn soft and translucent. Add the potato and stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer the mixture for 10 minutes. Add the watercress and simmer 3 minutes – ’cress should be fully wilted. Stir in the cream and puree with an immersion blender or transfer to a counter-top blender or food processor and puree in batches. Return soup to the saucepan and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Finish with lemon juice and serve immediately. TEATIME WATERCRESS SANDWICHES 8 slices white bread ½ c. watercress leaves 4 T. softened butter 2 T. snipped chives Salt and pepper to taste Cut crusts from bread. Spread butter on one side of each piece of bread. Divide watercress among four slices. Sprinkle chives on the other four slices. Add salt and pepper to taste on the slices with the chives. Assemble sandwiches and cut into fourths. Optional add-ins: thinly sliced cucumber or hard-boiled egg. Linda Wyner, a local attorney and foodie, owns Pans on Fire, a gourmet cookware store and cooking school in Pleasanton.

Long before TV news, Ben Franklin reported the weather WOODY WHITLATCH WEATHER WORDS Ben Franklin is well-known as a founding father of our country and one of its great early statesmen. He acquired a world-wide recognition as an author and newspaper publisher. Franklin’s reputation as a scientist is also well-documented, especially because of his “discovery” of electricity while flying a kite during a lightning storm. Franklin is less well-known as a meteorologist, but his contributions to the world of weather observations and climate studies qualify him as one of America’s first meteorologists. He was a keen observer of natural phenomena and had a knack for deducing cause and effect relationships. In 1743, Franklin made elaborate plans to observe and document a lunar eclipse. Unfortunately, a storm moved through Philadelphia that night and clouds obscured his view of the moon. Later, when he discussed his disappointment with friends in Boston, they remarked that storm clouds appeared in that area a few

hours after the eclipse. That experience caused Ben to make more detailed storm cloud observations and he eventually was able to determine the movement patterns of winter storms. Later, he compared surface wind direction measurements with storm movement observations and was the first person to understand that storms move in a different direction than surface winds indicate. Today it is common knowledge that upper level jet stream winds steer storms, but Franklin was the first to propose this theory. America’s first meteorologist was also our first storm chaser. In a letter to a friend, Franklin explains how he and his son encountered a whirlwind. Instead of watching the dust devil pass by, they followed it on horseback and studied the wind patterns by observing the movement of leaves and dust in the spiral air current. Upon returning home, he drew detailed pictures of the wind spiral, accurately portraying the wind flow pattern. Franklin traveled across the ocean eight times. On his first trans-Atlantic voyage, he regularly took measurements of the

sea water. He noticed a 20degree rise in water temperature as his boat entered the Gulf Stream ocean current. On a later voyage, he measured water temperatures at various depths and correctly surmised that the Gulf Stream was like a river of warm water running over and through the Atlantic Ocean. Ben’s study of the climate effects of human activity and natural events were well ahead of his time. As part of a scientific panel studying the effects of deforestation that resulted from increased farming activities in New England, Franklin and the others described how cleared land absorbs heat and melts snow quicker. He theorized that volcanic activity might influence weather patterns and cloud formation. Franklin hypothesized that the severe winter of 1783-’84 was linked to a major volcanic eruption in Iceland the previous year. Franklin ranks among the greatest Americans who have ever lived. His many contributions to the advancement of scientific thought, including meteorological theory, are due to his unique ability to analyze data and propose rational physical

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Page 20

Clayton Pioneer •

October 9, 2009

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Photinia fraseri, or Fraser’s photinia if you prefer, is commonly planted in Clayton Valley landscapes. This fabulously tough shrub creates a dense hedge or screen. New growth in the spring emerges bright coppery red, eventually maturing to deep green. Flat, white clusters of flowers are both showy and fragrant in the summer. The photinia can reach heights 8-15 feet tall and about half as wide. When installing as a living fence, place every 4 feet for maximum coverage. Photinia needs regular watering to become established but once mature, it needs only biweekly water. Full sun isn’t any problem for this evergreen. Photinia can be found trained as a tree, as well. This shape is excellent for homeowners whose privacy concerns are from second-story windows or decks. The trunks of the photinia trees are already 6 feet tall, and the shrub stands above in its standard shape. Purchase 15-gallon photinia trees for the greatest trunk integrity. You will also need to use tether stakes for stability the first couple of seasons as the trees tend to be top heavy. Those who may not be too

You can find the hopseed with either green or red foliage. Both selections have yellow spring flowers that turn to long, pea-like seeds that move and whisper in the breeze. Once they fall to the ground, the pods break down quickly to become valuable mulch. This shrub would not make a good screen by a pool, however, because the litter will not be appreciated. PLENTIFUL AND HARDY Another tough, adaptable shrub for a screen or a hedge is the Italian buckthorn. Rhamnus alaternus is absolutely wonderful. This hardy evergreen is available with a solid green leaf or a lovely variegated selection. The Italian buckthorn will reach 12-16 feet tall and may reach 1220 feet wide, making it a great addition to large lots. If you have a hillside and need something that will thrive and become large, this is the plant for you. Italian buckthorns have both a flower and a berry. The yellow blossom gives way to a black berry. For me, these tight berries are not a problem as they provide food for our wild birds. If you object to the fruit, then simply shear your bush after bloom.

BRIGHT AND FORMAL The Prunus Caroliniana is my final option for a screen or hedge in the Clayton Valley. A selection called bright and tight is just that, with bright green leaves and a tight, tidy shape. This Cherry Laurel will reach 10 feet tall and 6-8 feet wide. Install in full sun and water regularly to establish the roots. Eventually, the bright and tight will adapt to biweekly water. If your garden idea is one that is more lush or formal, you would probably like the look of this evergreen. Take advantage of the fall season. The rain will be coming, and that free water can be used to establish any fall-planted selections. Go out there and get busy. Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden Contact her with questions, comments or suggestions at

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Clayton Market Update provided by George Vujnovich of Better Homes Realty ADDRESS 23 El Toro Court 7014 Molluk Way 1824 Ohlone Heights 402 Chupcan Place 179 Mt. Vernon Dr 1519 N. Mitchell Canyon Rd 1349 Shell Lane 139 El Portal Pl 312 Mount Sierra Pl 260 Mountaire Parkway 953 Tiffin Dr 6022 Mitchell Creek Pl 93 El Portal Place 106 La Encinal Ct 3087 Windmill Canyon Dr 252 Stranahan Circle

PRICE $750,000 $499,500 $587,000 $510,000 $505,000 $433,000 $427,500 $640,000 $498,000 $612,000 $550,000 $647,000 $695,000 $630,000 $600,000 $425,000




9/24/09 9/22/09 9/22/09 9/18/09 9/2/09 9/1/09 8/28/09 8/26/09 8/19/09 8/14/09 8/12/09 8/8/09 8/7/09 8/5/09 8/4/09 8/4/09

2890 2315 2313 1939 1740 1831 1709 2420 2261 2694 1878 2200 2427 2390 2532 1663

5/3 3/2.5 4/2.5 3/2.5 4/2 4/2.5 3/3 4/2.5 4/2.5 5/2.5 4/2 4/2.5 3/2.5 4/2.5 5/2.5 3/2.5

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Fall planting is upon us. The weather has cooled and the time is right for installing foundation plants, shrubs or trees. Planting for privacy by using a living screen or hedge is desirable for many Clayton Valley residents. Considering our tight, clay-bound soil, recent water restrictions and overall erratic weather, planting a proven hedge will save time and money. There are many choices available to consider and using the Internet to search may actually make the process more confusing. Here are a few plants that are proven predictable and reliable in the Clayton Valley. Dodonaea viscose is commonly called a hopseed bush and is often found planted in new neighborhoods where privacy is limited. Hopseed shrubs are not finicky about soil; they thrive in either rocky or sticky clay situations. At maturity, the hopseed can reach 10 feet tall and almost as wide. Leaves are long, open and airy. Instead of a dense bush, this plant creates a lacy curtain effect. Dodonaea viscose is best in full sun and, once established, it can survive on rainwater alone. This makes the hopseed a wonderful plant for our area.

excited by the common photinia can consider the variegated pink marble photinia. This selection is hard to find but fabulous to enjoy. The pink marble has all the same attributes as the original but is far more stimulating. The new growth is bright pink. As the leaves mature, they show off their cream and green variegation while still holding onto splashes of pink. It is marvelous.

OCT 09 Clayton Pioneer 2009.pdf  
OCT 09 Clayton Pioneer 2009.pdf  

Oktoberfest Diablo View Middle School principal Patti Bannister con- siders the school year off to an RELIANTON PARENT is next to impossible...