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From the Publisher David King

Gotta Give ‘em a Lot of Credit I need to give credit to those whose images made it possible. On the cover, Diablo Gazette photographer Micah shot the “Lost in Space” robot. Do you remember its name, without cheating? I couldn’t. I had to cheat, even though as a kid I favored that show over Star Trek. All I can remember is him saying “Danger! Danger!” It’s B-9. Yes, B-9 Environmental Control Robot (aka G.U.N.T.E.R. which was an acronym for “General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Robot) was in Concord at the recent highly successful Comic Con event, as was a few other celebrities and Superheroes. Kristen Cumings did the Jelly Bean Tiger. Just, wow! There’s more about her and her artwork on page three. When I interviewed Kristen, I forgot to ask her if her floor is knee deep in Jelly Belly jelly beans all the time, like my son’s room is with Lego pieces. If not, I am going to have a talk with him. The photo of the sky was from Concord’s Charles Lindsey CSK Photography, he does great work. The heart-shaped cloud is from God, who also does great work. We employ the best over here. Oh, and I have to mention 123RF. com for the graphics used in the other

headlines on the cover. Here’s credit to our new writers. Big 103.7’s Carolyn McArdle. She’s very witty, and can be heard mornings on Big 103.7 radio. But best of all, she’s one of us because she lives in Concord. Jill Hedgecock, the program manager at Mount Diablo Writers Club is writing book reviews, “Book Ends”, page 14. Brian Larsen, Garden Manager at Heather Farms, has a new column, “Gardenwise”, page 17. Dan Ashley’s “What Really Matters” is not in this edition, but will return next month. Dan has been extremely “busy” and committed to broadcasting from downtown San Francisco at the Superbowl Experience on ABC7 KGO. I can envision what he would have written anyway -- “What Really Matters” by Dan Ashley. “SUPERBOWL 50!” I’m so jealous. Remember Valentine’s Day is coming up. Or else, as B-9 would say, “Danger! Danger!” if you don’t.

David King

Love Your City: Apply For Boards And Commissions, Run For Council by Edi Birsan Concord City Councilman Forget the flowers and chocolate unless you are bringing them to the City Clerk who is everywhere, overworked and under-appreciated. Instead bring a filled out application to apply for the city's boards and commissions. If you are really into the love fest of civic duty, apply to run for City Council. Like so many other things that will be said on Valentine's Day, voicing your sense of “giving back” and love to the community is just bunk without concrete ACTION. Nothing demonstrates your courage to love your community out loud as getting involved in running it. Remember, silence never moved a politician. Get involved, whatever your election political party. You will find that at the local grass roots level there is a tremendous overlap of Republican and Democrat values in things like drivable roads, safe drinking water, safe homes, and total astonishment at the ability of

Walnut Creek Meter Maids to nail your car within seconds of the meter expiring. You will also find that there is in most cities an almost invisible political party that in my youth was called the 'old boys club', and now-a-days I refer to as The Dark Side. Only by regular residents getting involved and demanding to be heard and to speak for their community can we make our great democracy work. In fact, at the local level I often say that you can touch the face of democracy and stare into its soul, though we all may want to slap it around a little, and hide it from little children that are easily scared. Nevertheless, it is the best system we have and it needs your love and participation to keep it from atrophying in the shadows of apathy. So go beyond the serenade of good will for your love of city, get off you butt and do something. If you want advice or help I am available even for running in the 2016 race in Concord where I will be going. It does not matter your background: civil service/civic love. It does not need to be fearful.

What Really Matters

By Dan Ashley

will return next month.

Happy Valentines Day, Who Are You? By Carolyn McArdle

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve given a prize away on the radio to a winner who, while they’re giving me their mailing address says, “I live in Concord” and I get an excited feeling in my body like a kid who went to Baskin Robbins praying for gumball ice cream only to discover they’ve just loaded a fresh drum of it! “Yay! We’re neighbors!” I say, and they usually reply with “Great.” Clearly my excitement that we share the same city is a little bigger than theirs. I live in Concord and I work on Big 103.7 hosting the morning show. Concord has been my home since 1979. I’ve pretty much grown up here and have no intention of ever leaving the Diablo Valley. Why would you ever want to leave this area? With all of the amazing restaurants and the open space, the great people in our area and the fact that we are 2+ hours from Tahoe and Monterey and thirty minutes from San Francisco (I know, on a good day) and less than an hour from the wine country, I see no reason to leave. Speaking of the wine country and vacations to awesome cities like Monterey and Tahoe, etc., Valentine’s Day is this month and I have a question for you. Is it selfish to wish Valentine’s Day wasn’t an official day where everyone makes a big deal out of celebrating their relationships? Am I bitter? Not at all. However I will tell you this. I spent the past six years as a single woman, dealing

with people that didn’t know me, wishing me a “Happy Valentine’s Day” on February 14th for way too many years in a row. Last year, I went to my local drugstore to pick up a bag of cotton balls, only to be bid goodbye after paying for my purchase with “Have a great Valentine’s Day!” What??? When did Valentine’s Day become so official that people wished complete strangers a “Happy Valentine’s Day?” Look, I love love. I love that people love each other. I am in love too but I just don’t think Valentine’s Day needs to be a “holiday”. Am I alone in thinking that in a relationship, every day should be Valentine’s Day? What I mean is, the way you treat me today shouldn’t be any different on Valentine’s Day. I tried to get into a local sushi restaurant in Concord a few years ago on Valentine’s Day on a weeknight with three friends and the wait was two hours! Typically on a weeknight, we would walk right in and each could take our own booth! So go out and love your significant other on Valentine’s Day. Buy that special someone a gift. Tell them you love them one more time than you typically do because it’s Valentine’s Day. But promise me one thing. Promise me that you will treat them that way on a day other than Valentine’s Day….or every day for that matter.

Carolyn McArdle is the morning radio show host weekdays from 6am-10am on Big 103.7

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Bean There Done That: Local Artist has Jelly Belly Fame Some people land unique careers or jobs that are just really cool. Kristen Cumings is one of those lucky people. She is a Jelly Belly jelly bean artist. Since there is only one in the country, we were curious, how does one become a Jelly Belly bean artist. Kristen Cumings is from the Midwest. She was born in Indiana, and went to college in Illinois where she met her husband. Both are musicians. In 1996, they moved to the Bay Area to become freelance orchestral musicians. That worked for awhile but eventually she retired her horn and started painting. Kristen has had an interest in art her whole life, but she never thought it would be something she would do professionally. Then she began entering her work into local shows and galleries. In 2009, a friend who worked in the marketing department at Jelly Belly, owned an acrylic painting Kristen had done of his daughter. He knew that Jelly Belly Kristen Cumings

was looking for someone new to do “bean art”. Jelly Belly had been commissioning artist since the 1980’s to make art out of their product, but hadn’t had anyone do it for awhile. “He asked me if I wanted to do this and give it a try. So, I did and it was really fun,” she said. Then it sort of snowballed. “I did another piece for them that year.” Kristen said. She had created a piece from an image of Herman Rowland, head of the Jelly Belly Family. “It was presented to him as a gift for his 50th year anniversary of being a candy maker.” A professional relationship was born. “The next year, in 2010, I was commissioned to do a whole series of famous reproductions such as Mona Lisa, The Girl with the Pearl Earring, and Rosie the Riveter.” Kristen’s work quickly grew in popularity. So much so, that Rachael Ray invited her onto her national TV show. In 2011, Jelly Belly hired Kristen on

Above, “The Great Wave.” Below, “The Girl with a Pearl Earring.” a more permanent basis. She has been their artist-in-residence for the past four years. “I do several pieces for them a year. And they send me to events to talk to people. It’s a really fun job.” Usually, Jelly Belly will pick a theme for a series of artwork such as the Masterpieces, or the Endangered Species. “The theme will be Comic Con this year.” She is participating in a bunch of Comic Con Events. New York City, Chicago in March, Seattle in April, and back to New York City in October. The tour will incorporate her artwork. “I will start creating the art at the event, but they take 100 to 150 hours to complete. After 3 or 4 days, 8 hours per day at Comic Con, I bring the pieces back to the studio and complete them. Each piece are 4’ x 5’ and takes 12,000 Jelly Beans.” Her artwork is on display at the Jelly Belly Visitor Center in Fairfield. They recently opened a new gallery so that

opening.” “I also did one for Dylan Lauren, daughter of Ralph Lauren. She owns a candy shop in New York City, and Jelly Belly commissioned me to do a portrait of her.” Kristen proudly recalls. Her art is extraordinary. We published a few of them for this article. You can see more of them at her website at www. It would be well worth the trip to Fairfield to view the entire gallery in person to admire in full size. The pieces are finished with a protective resin so they are not edible, but with pun intended, we can safely say, they are certainly eye candy.

“The Mona Lisa” they can display more pieces to the public. They have the reproduction masterpieces upstairs in the gallery, and their endangered species series are displayed in the lower level. Kristen says on occasion she has had offers to do private Jelly Belly art. “Most people don’t have thousands of dollars lying around for art. However, a woman named Lola, who owned Lola’s Sugar Rush candy store in Colorado commissioned me to due a portrait of herself to hang in the shop for its

“Rosie the Riviter”

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Dr. Condoleezza Rice Comes to Concord, Headlines 30th Anniversary of East Bay USA The East Bay Leadership Council celebrated the 30th Anniversary of East Bay USA with a presentation from the 66th United States Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice. The former Secretary of State took the stage at the Concord Hilton, with 400 people in attendance and delivered a keynote that addressed the arc of the international order over the last 70 years and why Americans should not tire of their role in the world. She spoke to specific challenges to the international order since the end of World War II, most notably the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001. “After September 11th, every day felt like September 12th,” said Dr. Rice as she reflected on being the National Security Advisor on a day when the United States was attacked on its own territory for the first time since 1812. After September 11th, it became clear to Dr. Rice that “our country is most vulnerable by those who operate from ungoverned territories” rather than the large nations who dominated the international order for decades. “That’s why today we worry more about Yemen, Somalia, and the great swath of land between Iraq and Syria where ISIS operates,” said Rice. However dangerous the world has become, Dr. Rice seemed more concerned with the state of the country’s K-12 schools. She described America’s inequitable education system as “the greatest national security threat that

we face today. “Poor kids are stuck in failing neighborhood schools, a lot of them minorities, and it is the height of inequality to condemn those kids to a poor education,” said Rice. Dr. Rice made clear that she believes in the innovative, creative, and risktaking private sector to “create jobs and build communities.” Dr. Rice also highlighted the importance of organizations like the East Bay Leadership Council in “mobilizing people who care about their communities.” And while the former Secretary of State’s poignant keynote inspired the first of two standing ovations on the night, Dr. Rice’s unscripted question and answer portion of the program was most impressive. She fielded questions from moderator Ann Notarangelo on topics ranging from the recent Iran deal, Donald Trump, skillsbased learning, and what she looks for in a President of the United States. When pressed on whether she would ever consider running for President of the United States, Dr. Rice made clear that she had her dream job as Secretary of State. A job well suited for Dr. Rice, who prefers policy to politics. Dr. Rice’s poise, sincerity, and intelligence stood out when faced with a wide variety of questions and inspired the second standing ovation of the night. For a list of sponsors and future East Bay Leadership Series events, visit www.

Highlights of Mayor Laura Hoffmeister’s State of the City Address Mayor Laura Hoffmeister gave her State of the City presentation on January 28 to a full room at the Concord Hilton. Such speeches tend to focus on the positives. It was a pleasant presentation of pleasantries. She had plenty good news to share. Here are some highlights. On the economic front, Concord is successfully working its way through years of economic recovery from a recession that was particularly severe to this area. However, Concord is rebounding with a few firsts in the areas of employment, revenue and in new business development. Employment is up. Concord ranks first in total number of jobs in Contra Costa County. Unemployment rate for Concord is at 4.9% down from 11.2% three years ago, pacing ahead of the California at 6.3% and the nation at 5.5%. Unemployment rate for the county is 4.5%. As for revenue, Concord ranks first in total sales in the county and thus first in sales tax collected in the county. Business development drives both employment and revenue. So how does Concord look to expanding businesses? For companies expanding to Northern California, Concord was the first choice for Lazy Dog Restaurant, Lucille’s Smokehouse, and Capriotti’s. For those expanding specifically to Diablo Valley, Eureka and Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches both chose Concord first. Habit Burger and Noodles restaurants also came to Concord. U-Haul International lists Concord first on a list of growth cities. The recent makeover at Willows Shopping Center has established a main street access bringing about new, active retail space including Eureka’s, Ike’s Sandwich Shop, Rick’s Ice Cream. Dos Coyotes and Border Café’ are coming soon. Under construction inside Sun Valley Mall, Round 1 selected Concord as its first East Bay location. Round 1 is similar to a Dave and Buster’s or as Mayor quipped, “a Chuck E. Cheese

for adults.” Sun Valley Mall is also reinstalling its food court. In the “Coming Soon” category, Buffalo Wild Wings is building at the former Marie Calendars on Diamond Blvd. Park-N-Shop is getting a much needed upgrade with new tenants Bonjour Bakery and Café, Roberto’s Cantina, Rockin’ Crawfish, Lulu’s Kitchen and Steamboat Restaurant (Chinese Hot Pot). Concord has become craft beer central for that burgeoning industry with a whole host of participants: Black Diamond Brewery, BJ’s Brewery, E.J. Phair Concord Alehouse, Epidemic Ales, Hop Grenade, and Hop Heavy (coming). The Concord Naval Weapons Station Reuse Project is the largest infill site in the Bay Area. Concord has the largest new open space area, and GoMentum is the largest test facility in the nation for self-driving cars. CenterCal is a new 30-acre retail center underway at the former Chevron site on Diamond Blvd. This is Concord’s first new shopping center in the past 20 years. More housing is planned for Concord. Rennaisance Luxury Apartments Phase II construction of 179 units begins this year located on Concord Ave. at Mira Vista. Concord Village, bordered between Willow Pass Rd, Salvio Street, East Street and Port Chicago Hwy. is constructing 230 units. Autumn Brook Development on Risdon is building eight single family homes. Oakmont Senior Living has broken ground near Waterworld on a 56-unit retirement community, plus 20 more for special care tenants. Mayor Hoffmeister’s ends the luncheon with this reminder,” It’s been a bumpy road, but the bumps are smoothing out, the economic road we are now on is new and different, we are in different times and a more global and interconnected economy.”

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Valentine's Rose Petal Heart FrugElegance By Carol and Randi, The Frugirls

Owners of FrugElegance by Design, Home Decor & Staging Professionals We love Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, after the major December festivities, followed by packing it all back up, the thought of decorating again can feel more than daunting. Keeping costs down, a few “FrugElegant” touches can go a long way. We have some incredibly easy DIY (do it yourself) decor projects that will bring out the inner crafter in just about anyone. And add the warmth & sentimental feeling that comes with Valentine’s Day. This Rose Petal Heart Sign costs a whopping $2! Or go for a larger size and it can be $4 - $5. It is super easy and inexpensive DIY décor idea that we hope

you try and enjoy. Supplies Needed: One bag of silk rose petals, one heart-shaped sign, glue, a glue gun and one pencil. Note that if you buy a larger size heart sign, you will need an extra bag of rose petals. Start by gluing the petals around the edge of the heart sign. Glue one petal at a time or glue a short line for each 2-3 petals. Try not to use long lines of glue because the hot glue dries fast. After the full edge is complete, it is time to fill the center. Take a petal and twist on a pencil, eraser side down. Dab some hot glue on the petal and place it on your heart. (The pencil works as a guide to prevent your from burning your hand with the glue). The spacing can be as you chose depending how much fullness you like. The closer and tighter you glue the petals, the fuller your heart will be. We keep the petals close together for a super full and fluffy look. Some optional ideas: Mix petal colors. We saw pink, white and red petals in stock at our local Dollar Store. You can also add a little bling by gluing some crystals throughout the heart. The good part is, you can do whatever you want to satisfy your artistic preference or to accentuate the heart depending on its purpose. It is perfect for home and even holiday

Easy Home Improvements to Drive Away the Winter Blues Jennifer Stanovich Realtor Whether you've just moved into a new house or are preparing to sell, don't let the fact that it's cold and wet outside stop you from getting started. Here are some projects you can tackle while its raining outside! Change the Paint. The winter months are the perfect time to brighten up those walls with a coat of paint. Since you will have less ventilation during the winter, make sure to choose low voc paints that have lower odors and fumes. Paint a whole room or create a chalkboard wall in your kids' playroom. Upgrade the Fixtures. This simple upgrade can give new life to kitchens, baths and doors. Changing out faucets, doorknobs, outlet covers and light fixtures can upgrade your home and give you a whole new outlook. Consider switching round knobs for lever-style so that children and elderly family members can operate them more easily. Simply switching out the bathroom vanity light fixture can change the entire appearance of your bathrooms. Trim the Walls. Add pizzazz to your walls with crown molding or chair railing. Even if you don't have a garage full of power tools, you can cut foam molding — molding that is not made of wood and can be cut with a simple saw and miter box— and create beautiful designs on your walls and ceilings. Scrape the Textured Ceilings. If you're very ambitious, you can scrape the "popcorn" or "cottage cheese" texture

off your ceilings. Before you begin this project, check to make certain the texture is not made of asbestos. Homes built prior to and in the first few years after the 1978 asbestos ban often had asbestos fibers mixed into the texture. After the ban, paper, Styrofoam or other products were used to create the texture. If your home is affected by asbestos texture you should consider having a licensed professional handle the removal since the asbestos must be disposed of properly in accordance with prevailing laws. Install New Flooring. Winter is an ideal time to have new carpet or hardwood installed. Your professional carpet layer is only too happy to have winter work when construction typically slows down and the controlled indoor heat speeds up drying time for flooring adhesives. Modernize Your Thermostat. If you haven't already done so, now is a great time to change out your old thermostat for an energy-saving programmable model. In fact, according to the US Department of Energy, you can save up to ten percent (10%) on your energy bills in both winter and summer by programming your thermostat to match your family's lifestyle. You can set your heating and air conditioning unit to adjust upwards or downwards when you are sleeping or away from home at work and school. These tips compliment of Virtual Results. If you have questions about which upgrades will improve your home's market value, call Jennifer Stojanovich Better Homes Realty 925-567-6170.

See her ad right.

decor. Hang it on your wall or front door or lean it on a mantle or entry table (see picture). This is also perfect for a wedding, a shower or other party decorations. Be sure to use different colors, such as pink or blue hearts for baby showers!!

We hope you will take some time to come visit us at the blog www. where we have more FrugElegant DIY (do it yourself) Valentine's Day Decor Ideas. Leave a comment or just say HI so we know you stopped by! Happy Valentine's Day!

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Resident Tales Sponsored by the Diamond Terrace 55+ retirement community in Clayton.

School Daze Sweethearts by Marge Crawford In the lower elementary grades, I had problems with dyslexia. Then, with intervening help from my mom, my big sister, and teachers, I entered fourth grade with good reading skills. During those early grades, my preference in ‘boyfriends’ ran toward the “machotype”. So, William D. was my choice. He always chased me during our games of tag on the playground. He performed spectacular feats on the schoolyard swings. And he could open my thermos bottle with the tightly closed cap with ease! As my reading skills improved, I realized that I really liked words- their various meanings, pronunciations and their use in the vernacular. Radio shows were one source of my growing store of words. At home, such shows as The Breakfast Club and One Man’s Family were my favorites. Next door, at my uncle’s house, my big sister and I listened to I Love a Mystery and The Shadow! They were a gold mine of language not encountered elsewhere. They added to my lexicon some very tough gangster-talk which I filed away in my growing mental vocabulary. In fifth grade, I qualified for the top reading group! Included in it were my best friend Joan Hart and Bobby G. I admired him and chose him as my boyfriend because he was smart, excellent in every school subject and also quiet and unassuming as well as fun. With my increase in scholarliness had come a big change in which boys I found attractive! One day, our reading group was busy reading the story called The King of the Golden River. The teacher had assigned the role of the youngest prince to me. Joan and Bobby were the two elder princes. Of course, the two elder brothers hated the little brother because he was the King’s favorite. As we came to a dramatic part of the narrative, the quotations of the brothers stood out there in stark print on the page. We students loved to ham up our parts! The whole story was in flowery, Elizabethan language. As the two older brothers (Joan and Bobby) grabbed my arm (so as to do away with me), I looked at my lines on the page: “O, dearest brothers! Please unhand me! Surely you would not harm me!” Somehow my mind rejected this speech. It decided harsher words were needed here, so, I opened my mouth and blurted: “You dirty, rotten rats! GET YOUR MITTS OFF ME!” No sooner than the words had been uttered, I began to feel very red in the face! Everyone in the reading group stared at me, dumb-founded. Then the kids, the teacher, and I, burst into laughter. My most embarrassing moment in my life (so far) had just occurred. One day, soon after the incident, Bobby G.’s mother came to my door. She said, “Bobby wanted you to have this.” She handed me a little gift wrapped box and

a note. The box contained a small brooch wrought in bronze. It was in the form of a doghouse! It had a door on the front which opened and inside, one of Bobby’s school pictures was fastened, looking out at me. The note read, “I guess I’m in the dog house now.” Well, I was floored by this gift and

the note. What had Bobby done that would make him think that I was mad at him? Sure, he had laughed at my crazy performance, but so had I and everyone else. The next day at school, I thanked him for the gift. He replied, “You’re welcome”, but didn’t comment further. I wore that little brooch often and kept

it in a container of special memories for years. Then, it and all the other mementos slipped from my mind and my possession. However, as I riffle though my childhood memories (at the age of 86), that little pin holding Bobby’s picture, pops into my mind again.

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Contra Costa Wine Group hosts 38th Annual Wine Judging Richard Eber It’s 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek. While most folks are still sipping Starbucks at this moment, ten wine experts are gathered at St. Paul’s Cafeteria to carefully sniff, analyze color, and ultimately taste eight glasses of wine to determine which one is the best. Welcome to the Contra Costa Wine Group’s (CCWG) 38th annual professional judging of vino, mostly produced in the garages of its 75 members. Each year the club, which has been recently named Wine Club of the Year for the third time in five years by Winemaker Magazine, holds its competition where gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded for different varieties of red, white, and dessert wines. The CCWG has been around since 1972 and relies on its member’s love of winemaking to be the guiding light behind the club’s activities. “Our success is based upon our location in Northern California near high quality grapes, the wonderful sharing of information among members and the spirit of the club,” states the group’s President, or should we say “Wine Czar” Bonneau Dixon. Inside, volunteers mark each entry, clean glasses, and present wine groupings to the judges. Then they tabulate the results. Most of those who tendered the 99 entries in 2016 are more interested in the evaluation sheets they receive than winning awards. They take great pride in their work. For the members, the quality of the wine means everything. Winning awards at wine tasting functions merely adds credence to their dedication to the craft. Of course, this event was celebrated with a potluck dinner. What is wine with out food? The cuisine ranged from polenta lasagna to pulled pork sandwiches. Home winemakers are usually “foodies” who appreciate all aspects of their dining experience. CCWG members reside primarily on the 680 corridor from Martinez to Livermore with several members living in Concord, Clayton, Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill. They all understand the purpose of the organization is to make the best wine possible by improving their methodology each year. Monthly meetings hosted at a member’s house include a happy hour of drinking each other’s vintages followed by an expert speaker on some aspect of winemaking. Making Wine, Above, Bette Felton of Danville tastes the white wines. Below, attendees get food from the potluck.

Above, Judges evaluate wine at the CCWG’s 38th Annual Wine Tasting Event. Below, Emily Wu, Ashely Wu, Matthew Guo and Anaya Fields experience the wine-making process. Some members grow grapes on their properties, but most purchase from growers in the area. The process normally takes from ten months to a couple of years after grapes are harvested before they are bottled. Following the harvest, a great deal of work goes into the first month including crushing (removing stems), fermenting (converting sugar to alcohol), pressing, filtering, and placing into containers (mostly barrels). Adding chemicals to regulate acid, PH, and possible diseases that could damage the wine are the main activities in the following months. During this time the wine needs to be racked (pumping out of the barrel) and sulfated every 6-7 weeks prior to bottling. Throughout this whole process, for most CCWG members and millions of other wine makers worldwide, the tasks from stomping the grapes to corking the finished product is very much a fun, family-friendly activity. The Judges Many of the judges are professionals who work in the business. Most are sommeliers and/or professional winemakers. Brent Davis, a graduate of Fresno State, is winemaker at Bent Creek in Livermore. He looks for balance, elegance, aroma, finish and of course tastes to evaluate different elements he is evaluating. Similarly, UC Davis grad Aaron Luna, the winemaker for Fenestrate Winery in Livermore claims “taste is partly defined by aroma. The two are a package deal.” Wine judge Vlatka Bathgate of Orinda feels her diverse training makes her better as a judge. Her family owned a winery in Croatia. There she received a degree in Viniculture studies and performed a stint as a winemaker in New Zealand prior to immigrating to Napa. Vlatka then became a Sommelier studying at Greystone in St. Helena. Maria Terry of Walnut Creek is a professional Sommelier. In her business, Terry educates groups on proper pairings of various wines with food. The Winners: This was no beauty contest, nor was politics involved with the selection process. It was a blind tasting with plain brown paper bags covering each bottle. Longtime CCWC member David Hicks was awarded Best In Show for his 2014 Clearlake Viognier. In the red category, newcomers Mary Rogan and Alan Nunns win first for their 2013 Napa Meritage. For the judges, the task of evaluating 99 entries is an act of love. There is no monetary compensation. They are content receiving a six pack of quality wine from the group. At the awards dinner, Judge Maria Terry was asked if she grew tired of drinking wine. As a judge for the CCWG, she distinguishes between evaluating wines and enjoying them. To this she raised a glass and replied “There is a difference between tasting and consuming wine. I like to do both.”

Wine bottles

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Where Everybody Knows Your Name Sugar Plum Restaurant Celebrates Ray Rosenblatt’s 20th Anniversary You read that title right. The restaurant is celebrating Ray Rosenblatt. Many people will work at a job over an extended period time and become bored, and even learn to hate it. This is not the case with Ray, owner of the Sugar Plum Coffee Shop in Concord, now celebrating his 20th year as its owner-operator. His love and enthusiasm for Sugar Plum is as strong today as it was from day one, February 13, 1996. Sugar Plum is no ordinary coffee shop. For one, it is always busy. Its friendly, community, social atmosphere may be its preeminent service. I asked him why he believes it’s been so successful. “It’s almost a cliché, but in all sincerity, I love coming here because I like interacting with people. I enjoy it very much.” Ray tells me. “We are not cooking in the back, we are cooking in the front with the people. I don’t look at them as customers. They are more like friends that happen to come here. Our conversations are like conversations two friends would have. The only thing missing is the nighttime and there’s no beer in front of us or a glass of wine. It’s breakfast instead.” “So like a bartender with food?” I asked, with “Cheers” theme song entering my head. “Exactly! It really is. It sounds corny, but it’s the truth in my heart. I am sincere when I interact with people because I enjoy it that much. I know their life and they know my life, and they know my children and I know their children. I know their health and the different things that go on. That’s what makes it so fun for me. I don’t mind getting up at four in the morning, to be here before five to get Right, the interior of the Sugar Plum Restaurant. Below, the exterior of the Sugar Plum Restaurant. Below right, waitress Bernie McKay holds her coffee pot.

everything ready to open at 6AM. I tell people all the time that if I had to have a job, this is the best possible job I could ever have in my life. “My former partner didn’t always understand this, he always thought people would come for the food, but that’s not it. They also come for the environment. They come for the fun and the enjoyment of knowing people and meeting new people. A lot of people make this their social outlet. They have made so many friends just talking among each other sitting at the counter. Soon they are coming in at the same time and sitting at the same table together. That happens so often, because they are comfortable being here. And that’s what I try to present to people and I enjoy being a part of it,” Ray says with unbridled enthusiasm. “When you took over in 1996, did you make any changes? “ I asked him. “We didn’t change a lot. It was successful. But we did change some of it. We kept the same menu but we brought in better quality food. We bought a better bacon. We bought a better sausage. We are known for our smoked applewood bacon. We’re known for our biscuits and gravy. We make our own hash browns. They are not frozen or dehydrated. They are fresh everyday. We get potatoes delivered twice every week. It’s a lot of work. But we enjoy doing it.” Ray is not a native of Concord, although he’s very much a part of it. He bought a house in Concord to be close to his parents and hasn’t moved since 1984. “I grew up in Berkeley, moved to Long Beach for a number of years, and came back to this area to be near my folks who

Above, Ray Rosenblatt grills in his restaurant. Below, former waitresses at the Sugar Plum Restaurant. lived in Walnut Creek. I raised two boys here and love it here,” he said. Ray became interested in the restaurant business as a junior in high school. “They had a program that we would go to a hotel and learn about hotel restaurant operations. We worked six weeks in different stations within the hotel and restaurant area. When I graduated from high school I went back and got a job there.” He cooked for a number of years in different places. “The money was not very good in cooking back them”. So Ray got into retail management and worked for Thrifty Drug Stores for 11 years in their management program, seven years as a store manager. After that, Ray and a friend both went to restaurant school at San Francisco City College. “We always said we wanted to get a restaurant together.” They bought a sandwich shop in San Francisco and ran that for seven years. “We doubled the business, but the San Francisco business climate was getting whacky and we were tired of commuting there every day.” So they sold it, and found Sugar Plum through a broker. “It wasn’t advertised for sale, but the broker knew the owner,

Jeanie Mocho, and knew that she was in her 70s, tired and wanted to sell it. We bought it on February 13, 1996 and never looked back.” The City has honored Sugar Plum Coffee Shop for its longevity in Concord. After all, it is Concord’s 2nd oldest running restaurant, having started in the early 50’s. (Barney’s Hickory Pit is the oldest.) The business started on North Main in Walnut Creek and on Concord Blvd. as a bakery-restaurant in the early 50s. The current building was built in 1955 with three sections. Sugar Plum had the middle section. It introduced its coffee shop and expanded into the other sections in November 1959, and became known as Sugar Plum Coffee Shop and Pastry. Ray tells of the next 35 years in swift detail. “In the early 60s, it sold to a waitress, who sold it to another waitress, who sold it back, who then sold it to Jeanie who was in her 70s. She ran it for a couple of years. I bought it from her.” One other interesting aspect that speaks volumes about the Sugar Plum Coffee Shop’s environment, waitress Bernie McKay has been working there for 23 years, and her mother, Faye Jaramillo was a waitress before her, since the 70’s. Ray may not be the only person who loves it there. Sugar Plum Coffee Shop is located downtown Concord at 1815 Colfax Street. If you’ve never been there, stop in, congratulate Ray, and give it a try. It won’t be long before he will know your name too. Happy 20th Anniversary, Ray!

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The Diablo Gazette’s

CALENDAR OF EVENTS Club/Support Group Events

The Clayton Valley Garden Club resumes its meetings in February (the second Tuesday of the month, February through November). Here are the details: Clayton Valley Garden Club - 7p.m. February 10, Diamond Terrace 6401 Center St., Clayton. Guest Speaker Troy McGregor – Garden Manager at The Ruth Bancroft Garden, and Australian native, will discuss “Bullet-proof Plants”. Contact: www. February 9: Clayton Valley Woman’s Club will welcome Joan Morris as their guest speaker. Ms. Morris is the pets and wildlife columnist as well as garden writer for the Bay Area News Group. Ms. Morris will be talking about ways to coexist with wildlife in our gardens. The Clayton Valley Woman’s Club meets at 10 AM at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 5555 Clayton Road, in Clayton. Anyone who would be interested in hearing Ms. Morris or would be interested in the Clayton Valley Woman’s invited to attend. Meetings are held the 2nd Tuesday of each month. For more information call Sheila t 925-672-7947 or visit www. February 13: Mt. Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club (CWC) Local author Roy Mash will present “Word Selection: Building a Strong Story Foundation” at Zio Fraedo’s Restaurant, 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill. Mr. Mash will discuss the best way to express an idea, which words or expressions might work best, and how selecting one word over another leads to new ideas. He is the author of Buyer’s Remorse, and is a long-time member of the Marin Poetry Center. He has published poetry extensively, and is the recipient of the Atlantic Review International Publication Award. Sign-in is 11:15 am, followed by luncheon from 12:00 pm to 12:45 pm, and program from 12:45 pm to 1:30 pm. Registration is $25 for CWC members, $30 for guests. Reservations are required, and must be received no later than noon on Wednesday, February10th. Contact Robin at, or at 925-9339670, or sign up via Pay Pal: click “buy now” on the Mt. Diablo website. Expect confirmation only if you e-mail your reservation. The California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch web address is: http://

Free Healthy Lifestyle Expo at Senior Center Feb. 26 Concord Commission on Aging and Senior Center invite everyone to “Age Strong, Live Long Healthy Lifestyle Expo” at the Concord Senior Center, 2727 Parkside Circle in Concord on Friday, February 26, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This is a free one-day event promoting good health awareness and encouraging participants to assume responsibility for their own health. The expo will provide information about services, resources and products that benefit older adults, their families and caregivers. A free tote bag will be distributed to the first 500 attendees. More than 40 vendors and service providers will offer valuable information to seniors and family members. Sessions will offer participants the opportunity to sample juiced fruits and vegetables, a presentation by Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts nursing students. Presentations by Dr. Leonard Chuck, MD, on healthy aging: “Better, Stronger, Younger: Don’t Get Old”, and “Make Room For Sugar: What

is Diabetes” are scheduled at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Visit the Mobile Vet Center (Department of Veterans Affairs) at the expo and learn how they service veterans who need help transitioning to civilian life. Bring your medications or a list of them including dosage. Walgreen pharmacists will be available to answer questions about your medications and possible interactions. Take advantage of the various health screenings and services provided by Diablo Clinical Research, Senior Helpers, and Gurnick Medical Arts. Have your cholesterol checked, your blood pressure checked. Come for heel scans or a massage. Learn about the classes, activities and programs the Concord Senior Center offers. For more information, call the Concord Senior Center, (925) 671-3320, and press 1 or visit www.cityofconcord. org/healthfair. See our ad on page 16. March 31: Mt Diablo Amateur Radio Club - Ham Radio General Class License Training starts Thursday at 06:30 pm (This is the second level Ham license) The Salvation Army Corps, 3950 Clayton Rd., Concord CA 94521, Fireside Room. Registration required - Email: HamRadioClass@

Concord Senior Center, Stanford Self Management Workshops: Thursdays from February 18 through March 24, at the Concord Senior Center. For people with chronic health problems, choose from two times - 9:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. The fee is $10 for the six-week workshop. Each participant in the workshop uses a copy of the companion books, Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions, 4th Edition, and the Chronic Pain Workbook. Workshop sessions are highly participative, and build confidence in the ability to manage your health and maintain active, fulfilling lives. Subjects covered: 1) techniques to deal with frustration, fatigue, pain and isolation, 2) appropriate exercise for improving strength, flexibility, and endurance, 3) appropriate use Danville @8pm, and will feature a terrific of medications, 4) communivcating lineup of some of the very best Bay Area effectively with family, friends and Jazz Musicians, most nationally and health professionals, 5) nutrition, 6) international performers. Here's the decision making, and 7) evaluate new schedule: treatments. The Chronic Disease Saturday, February 20: The Manny Self-Management Program is open Moka 9PC Latin Jazz Band, with guest to family, friends and caregivers. For vocalist Nicolas Bearde more information on the program, Saturday, March 19: Vocalist extraordinaire, Kenny Washington & Trio visit Saturday, April 16: The Leon Joyce, Jr. Organ Trio with Wayne stories/. DelaCruz & Smith Dobson,V Registration is limited. Register Saturday, May 21: Sultry early. Visit Vocalist, Clairdee & her Trio Activities. The course number Tickets are $25 at for the 9:30 a.m.workshop series Series tickets for all 4 shows are $80, and is 99940; the course number for available by calling (925) 735-1226 or the 1:30 p.m. session is 100186. by email at redmustang52000@yahoo. For more information, contact the com or at the door. Concord Senior Center at (925) 6713220.

Jazz Goes On Despite San Ramon Library Closure As many of you know, The Main San Ramon Library at The Marketplace closed last fall for an extensive renovation and will not reopen until sometime in 2017. Prior to the closure, The Library produced a series of jazz concerts for the community each year for 20 years, with the last series being in fall of 2014. As a community service, a grass roots effort is being put forth independently by one of the jazz fans and member of the Library Jazz Committee to produce a series of four shows this spring to bridge the gap while the Library is under renovation and to raise money for The San Ramon Library's extensive Jazz Collection of materials, one of the largest collections in the country available to the public. The shows will be held at Peace Lutheran Church at 2031 Camino Tassajara in

Have an event coming up? Email your event info to:

Diablo Gazette • FEBRUARY 2016 • Page 10 • | •(925)-298-9990

Home & Garden/ Farmers’ Markets Home & Garden/Farmers’ Markets Concord Tuesdays, 10am to 2pm, year-round, rain or shine, Todos Santos Plaza. •Concord Thursdays, 4pm to 8pm, odos Santos Plaza. Clayton, Saturdays 10am - 2pm Baldwin Dog Park closed for maintenance. The Baldwin Dog Park at 2700 Parkside Circle will be closed for eight to ten weeks. Residents can use the Newhall Dog Park at 1351 Newhall Parkway during the closure. Concord’s dog parks are very popular, getting a lot of use. The annual maintenance program keeps the parks in good condition. Newhall Dog Park will undergo maintenance when the Baldwin project is complete. Dundracon 40 – February 12-15 at San Ramon Marriott: Gaming Convention. Seminars, Larping, Board Games, card games, dice games, electronic games, artwork, developers, miniature combat games, combat demonstrations with knights in armor and more. For more information www.dundracon. com. Galindo Home and Gardens - 1721 Amador Avenue, Concord CA (map) Visit the fully-restored 1856 Victorian home of Francisco Galindo, one of Concord’s founding fathers, and his wife, Maria Dolores Manuela (Pacheco) Galindo. This includes the 1875 addition by Francisco Galindo’s son, Juan “John” Galindo. Tours are Sundays 1pm – 4pm and by appointment. For further information, contact the Concord Historical Society www. Concord- Free Healthy Lifestyle Expo at Senior Center Feb. 26 “Age Strong, Live Long Healthy Lifestyle Expo” at the Concord Senior Center on Friday, February 26, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This free one-day event promoting good health awareness and encouraging participants to assume responsibility for their own health will be held at the Concord Senior Center, 2727 Parkside Circle, in Concord. For more information, call the Concord Senior Center, (925) 671-3320, and press 1 or visit healthfair. Daddy Daughter Dance Saturday, February 27, at the Oakhurst Country Club, 1001 Peacock Creek Drive, Clayton. 6:30 p.m. through 9:00 p.m. Music provided by DJ Terry Newberry. Includes delectable desserts and beverages, and a complimentary professional photo. Dads, grandpas, uncles, friends and mentors of all ages are welcome. This year’s decorations will feature a royal “Princess” theme. Princess

The Computer Kid’s Magic Night Solo Opera Educates and Entertains! Solo Opera’s family opera Hansel and Gretel was wildly successful this past December. “The kids loved our Hansel opera, especially Our Witch! I can’t wait for them to meet the new set of characters in our upcoming modern Computer opera. Without knowing it, they are being exposed to the art form in a way they can appreciate and understand,” stated Artistic Director and Founder, Syliva Amorina. Solo Opera is up for the Challenge of presenting more opera for children and families in the community. For their second production in the Storybook Opera season, Solo Opera has chosen a very unique educational show for all ages, the one-hour comic opera, The Computer Kid’s Magic Night. Written in 1986 by Joann E. Feldman, March will mark the 30-year anniversary of the piece. The story concerns Mickey, a little boy who spends all of his time playing computer games and neglects his studies, friends, piano, and outside activities. One night, he accidentally types magic words into the computer and several characters pop out. Each character has a fondness for a special subject such as language, math, music, travel, and sports. They convince Mickey to use the computer to learn about these subjects and spend his time more wisely. The opera, ahead of its time in 1986, is even more relevant to audiences today. Not only are many children hooked on their wireless devices, but adults and parents are as well! This opera is a fun way to address the problem of too much

attire encouraged. $25 per couple, $5 for additional daughters or guests (age 3 & under are free). Sign-ups can be handled online at http://bit. ly/Daddydaughterdance . By check, mail to Clayton Community Church, 6055 Main St., Clayton 94517. For questions contact Carol Gaiser at or (925) 8905301. Martinez, Farmers Market, Sundays, 10am to 2pm, year-round, Main St. and Estudillo.

Megan Stetson (Mrs Perry Patetic), Daniel Ostrom (Mickey), Michael Orlinsky (Mr Perry Patetic) technology and how important it is to have a well-rounded education and life. The opera will contain a cast of eleven singers (10 adults and 1 child, double cast) who will be accompanied by a threepiece ensemble of piano, synthesizer, and percussion. The show will be directed and produced by Solo Opera Artistic Director, Sylvia Amorino. The conductor will be William Long, associate conductor of Opera Parallèle. It will star Daniel Ostrom and Angelina Wahler as the computer kid, Mickey, the husband and wife team of Torlef Borsting and Cass Panuska, Giovanna Hutchinson, Darron Flagg, Sara LeMesh, Jonathan Smucker , Diane Squires, and Nick Volkert, Megan Stetson and Michael Orlinsky. Projections will be by Frédéric Boulay and scenic design and build by Adam Puglielli and Rooster Productions. The opera runs March 4-5, at the Lesher Center for the Arts.

Walnut Creek Diablo Valley Farmers Market Saturday 9a.m. - 1 p.m. Shadelands Business Park, N. Wigett Lane and Mitchell Dr. Heather Farms Adult Education Series “From the Ground Up” Begins The Gardens at Heather Farm’s Adult Education Series, “From the Ground Up” kicks-off this month. The full schedule of classes is as follows: Feb. 19 – Floral Arranging with Najat Nicola (9:30 am) Feb. 26 – Floral Workshop with Najat Nicola (9:30 am) Mar. 4 – Propagation with Brian Larsen (9:30) Classes typically range from $15 to $30. Visit www.gardenshf. org or call (925) 947-1678 for more information, fees and member discounts. Walnut Creek First Wednesdays Street Festival This family-friendly evening includes live music, a street full of local vendors, arts and crafts, and the aroma of tasty treats, both sweet and savory, under festive Tivoli lights as families stroll down Cypress. Free hot chocolate and apple cider are available to warm up the winter night. Every first Wednesday through June 2016. Admission: Free! Cypress Street, closed for foot traffic only between N. Main Street and Locust Street. Go to for more information. Contra Costa Certified Farmers Market Sundays 9 am - 1 pm, Year Round, North Locust St between Giamona and Lacassie St. (925) 431-8361 San Francisco The Great San Francisco Crystal Fair takes place at Fort Mason Center on February 27-28. It’s our 29th Anniversary. Crystal Fairs feature the crystals, minerals, beads, jewelry, metaphysical healing tools – and more. Fort Mason Center, Bldg A; 2 Marina Blvd. at Buchanan, San Francisco. Hours: Saturday 10-6; Sunday 10-4: Admission $10 (good for 2 days - each in party) Children 12 and under free with parent. Contact info: Jerry@; (415) 383-7837.

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Visual Arts/Theatre/ Music aRt Cottage- February 2 – 27. Timothy Aguino Exhibit. Tim has a unique style using bright colors and bead work in his art. His passion is his art sharing his Native American heritage with the world. aRt Cottage is located at 2238 Mt. Diablo St. Concord. All are welcome to the artist reception Feb. 6 from 1pm – 5pm. Food & Wine will be served at this free event. OSCAR NOMINATED SHORTS IN WALNUT CREEK –Feb 6, 7 and Feb 13 at 7:30 PM. Mountain Shadow Film Society presents the Live Action, Documentary and Animated Shorts Oscar nominees. Even the most ardent film fan has a hard time seeing the shorts before the Academy Awards show but here’s your chance. The showing of the films will be in the Oak View Room of the Walnut Creek Library located at 1644 N. Broadway in downtown Walnut Creek. Mountain Shadow Film Society, a non-profit, volunteer organization, asks for a $12 donation at the door. More information about the films, including a trailer, and Mountain Shadow Film Society is available at http://mountainshadow. org or by contacting Mountain Shadow’s president, John Bennison at Valentine’s Day Comedy Show with Johnny Steele and Friends -- Sunday, February 14 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM, Martinez Campbell Theater - What better way to spend Valentine’s Day? Johnny Steele and Friends will be bring you a 90 minute laugh-filled evening to enjoy with your sweetheart, friends, family or just bring yourself! Johnny Steele is Winner of the San Francisco International Comedy Competition. If you are going to a pre-show dinner at one of the many downtown restaurants, be sure to call ahead. Let them know you are going to an 8pm show. http://mainstreetmartinez. org/merchants-dining This is a general admission show, no reserved seats. Doors open at 7:00pm. Must be 21 and over. Have a valid photo ID available. More info call (925) 228-3577. Martinez Campbell Theater - 636 Ward St Martinez, CA 94553 Solo Opera’s The Computer Kid’s Magic Night, a family oriented opera that your kids will enjoy, is scheduled for two performances at the Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek. March 4, (Fri) at 7:30 pm, March 5, (Sat) at 2:00 pm. Tickets $25 Youth, $ 30 Seniors, $35 Adults. Purchase tickets by phone (925) 943-SHOW; or at the Lesher Center box office. For more information, visit www.SoloOpera. org. Oakland Symphony “Notes From Vietnam” Friday, February 12, 8pm Paramount Theatre, Oakland. Oakland Symphony’s latest

CSAA Insurance Group Hosts Bring Your Parents to Work Day, Prepares 2000 Meals for Those in Need

symphonic celebration of world music with Emmy Award-winning composer/performer Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ and Broadway and Hollywood star Michael Urie (Ugly Betty, Modern Family.) Program: Dvořák: “Carnival Overture”, Britten “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” with Michael Urie, narrator; Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ “Lullaby for a Country (World Premiere) with Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ, đàn tranh zither No-host drinks and free lobby entertainment beginning at 6:50 pm. Tickets start at just $20!


Above, Sima Betpera, mother of employee Evita Betpera, packages meals for Stop Hunger Now. Below, Vanessa Chan and her parents Jimmy and Mae pose for a selfie as part of the “Bring Your Parents to Work Day” event at CSAA Insurance Group. We’ve all heard of “Bring Your Son or Daughter to Work Day”. CSAA Insurance Group, hosted its first ever ‘Bring Your Parents to Work Day’ at its headquarters in Walnut Creek. For years, parents have been one of the biggest influences on their child’s future career plans, yet a global Linked In study reports that one in three parents do not understand what their children do for work. CSAA employees were joined by their parents to share an inside view of their daily work life. In addition, employees and parents spent part of the day packaging meals for Stop Hunger Now, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending world hunger. Over the past two years, CSAA Insurance Group and its employees have packaged more than 338,000 meals and contributed over 2,000 volunteer hours to help Stop Hunger Now. Stop Hunger Now gets food and lifesaving aid to the world’s most vulnerable people. Since 1998, they have provided over 225 million meals in 73 countries. CSAA Insurance Group offers insurance to AAA members through

•DANVILLE: First Sunday of every Month: Cars ‘n Coffee, On the First Sunday of every month, automotive enthusiasts gather in the parking lots of the Blackhawk Automotive Museum to share their vehicles and admire the other fabulous classics, exotics, rods and anything else with wheels and a motor. There is no fee for Cars & Coffee. Also, the Museum opens at 9am on Cars & Coffee Sundays. 8am-10am , Blackhawk Museum • 3700 Blackhawk Plaza Circle • Danville p:925.736.2280 •, carsncoffee.html Concord: Todos Santos Park OFF the Grid Mondays

partnerships with AAA clubs in 23 states and the District of Columbia. The company was named one of the 50 most community-minded companies in America by Points of Light in 2014. “CSAA Insurance Group is excited to partner with Stop Hunger Now,” Cagan said. “Our employees enjoyed teaming up with their parents to assemble over 2,000 meals for those in need.” Judging from the photos, the parents enjoyed it too.

Registration opens this month for adult softball leagues. This popular program serves hundreds of residents each year with leagues to accommodate all skill levels. Or try Pickleball, a new addition that combines badminton, tennis and table tennis. Pickleball classes start in March for beginners or intermediate players. Pickleball drop-in hours are available at the Willow Pass Tennis Courts five days a week. Call(925) 671-3423 for information. Walnut Creek: Off the Grid Every Tuesday; 1380 N. California Blvd. from 5-9pm; Live music from 6-8 pm featuring, Quinn Deveuax , Food truck lovers rejoice! The community of Walnut Creek can come together to enjoy a variety of Off the Grid food trucks, live entertainment, wine and beer garden, and lots of tasty reasons to come back every Tuesday with family and friends for this ongoing weekly event. The rotating lineup of nine food trucks in Walnut Creek will include: Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen, Gyro Stop Kebab G, ADOruBOwl, and IzzyA’s Frozen Custard Find the full lineup available at http:// The Great San Francisco Crystal Fair; February 27-28, 2016, Fort Mason Center, Bldg A, 2 Marina Blvd. at Buchanan, San Francisco. Hours: Saturday 10-6; Sunday 10-4; Admission $10 (good for 2 days each in party). Children 12 and under free with parent.

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Fundraisers Pancake Breakfast - Supporting Veterans of foreign Wars – 2nd and 4th Sundays includes eggs, pancakes, sausage, beverage. 8 – 11 a.m. Willow Pass Road, Concord $5, $3 Children under 12. www. Ygnacio Valley High School Athletic Boosters Banquet - Support YV students by attending the biggest fundraiser of the year. All proceeds support YV sports teams! Saturday, March 12, 6:30pm-10:30pm at St. John Vianney Church, 1650 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek. Adults Only. Dinner, Auction and Raffle. Items such as tickets to Disneyland, Gourmet Dinners, Reserved Graduation Seats, and much more! Catered by Kinder’s BBQ No Host Beer/Wine Bar. Tickets: $35 each if purchased by February 19th. $40 each if purchased after February 19th. Tickets must be ordered no later than February 27. Reserve a table of 8 in advance!

Government East Bay Leadership Council Register for an evening reception with Assembly Member Jim Frazier. Thursday, February 11. 5:30pm 7:00pm at Scott’s Seafood in Walnut Creek. Take this opportunity to interact with the Chair of the Transportation Committee. Light h’ordeurves and beverages will be provided. •Concord City Council, 1st, 2nd and 4th Tuesdays, 6:30 pm, Council Chambers, 1950 Parkside Dr, Concord. Or watch online at http:// agendas/council/ Concord Planning Commission 1st and 3rd Wednesdays 7 p.m. Concord Chamber, Concord Civic Center 1950 Parkside dr. •Clayton City Council, 1st and 3rd Tuesdays, 7pm. Hoyer Hall, Clayton Library, 6125 Clayton Rd, Clayton.

Workshop to Manage Chronic Pain Coming to Concord Senior Center The Concord Senior Center and the Partners In Care Foundation are co-sponsoring the Stanford SelfManagement Workshop for people with chronic health problems. The workshop runs for two-and-a-half hours, once a week for six weeks at the Concord Senior Center. Starting February 18 through March 24 participants can choose 9:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. workshops. The fee is $10 for the six-week workshop. Participants are encouraged to register early as size is limited. Two trained leaders, whom are non-health related professionals with chronic diseases themselves, will lead participants to make weekly action plans, share their experiences, and help each other, solve problems they encounter in creating and carrying out their selfmanagement program. Each participant in the workshop uses a copy of the companion books, Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions, 4th Edition, and the Chronic Pain Workbook. Workshop sessions are highly participative, where mutual support and

Hillendale Home Care Best of Home Care Leader in Excellence Award Hillendale Home Care received the distinguished Best of Home Care Leader in Excellence Award from Home Care Pulse, the leading firm in quality assurance for private duty home care. The Leader in Excellence Award was given to the select home care businesses that consistently ranked among the highest in 18 or more quality metrics assessed by Home Care Pulse. As a Leader in Excellence, Hillendale Home Care is now ranked among the best home care providers in the nation, and 1 of 7 home care businesses in California. To qualify for this award, 10% of Hillendale’s clients and caregivers were interviewed each month by Home Care Pulse over a 12-month period regarding areas of care such as caregiver training, compassion, communication, scheduling, responsiveness, and overall quality of care. “Receiving this award is a great achievement as it represents the extra steps we take to provide an enjoyable place for our caregivers to work, and a business that prioritizes customer service,” says Bridget Waller RN, President of Hillendale Home Care. The award highlights the top-

•Martinez City Council, 1st and 3rd Wednesdays. City Hall, 7 pm, 525 Henrietta Street, Martinez. Or Listen online at http://www. minimumSystem.htm, http://www. •Walnut Creek City Council, 1st and 3rd Tuesdays, 7 pm. Or watch online at services/citizen/granicus.asp •Pleasant Hill City Council, 1st and 3rd Wednesdays, 7:30 pm, Council Chambers of the Pleasant Hill City Hall, 100 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill. Or follow online at http://www.

success build the participants’ confidence in their ability to manage their health and maintain active, fulfilling lives. Subjects covered include: 1) techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, pain and isolation 2) appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance 3) appropriate use of medications 4) communicating effectively with family, friends and health professionals 5) nutrition 6) decision making and 7) how to evaluate new treatments. The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program is open to family, friends and caregivers. For more information on the program, visit health-self-management-workshopsstories/. Register for the workshop at The course number for the 9:30 a.m. workshop series is 99940; the course number for the 1:30 p.m. session is 100186. For more information, contact the Concord Senior Center at (925) 6713220. See ad on page 16.

performing home care businesses in the nation. Such awards are designed to help families that are looking for in-home care for a loved one to recognize and choose a trusted home care provider. “We’ve been impressed by their commitment to their clients and caregivers, as well as the quality of the overall care they provide. They really stand out in their market as a top home care provider.” says Aaron Marcum, CEO and founder of Home Care Pulse. Hillendale Home Care has been providing home care assistance since 2002, founded by Bridget Waller, RN, Hillendale. “Our mission is to maximize the independence and autonomy of our clients while they remain in the comfort of their home.” Home Care Pulse is the home care industry’s leading firm in performance benchmarking and satisfaction management. Home Care Pulse is an industry resource for education, business development, agency certification, and proof of quality, including the Best of Home Care® Awards. See our ad on page 17.

Support Groups Al-Anon Family Group 7:30 p.m. Mondays, St. Martins of Tours Anglican Church & Preschool, Concord. 932-6770 or www.ncwsa. org. Alcoholics Anonymous - 939-4155 or Bereavement Support Group:1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month, 4:30 6:00 pm. pre-registration. Call (925) 887-5681 The Bridge A bi-weekly program that provides support in a safe place where grieving children, teens, adults can share their experiences using art, play, journaling, music and conversation. The Bridge program starts and ends with each school year, running for approximately 9 months. pre-registration. Call (925) 887-5681 Cardiac Care Support Group - 7 p.m. second Thursdays, John Muir Walnut Creek or Concord. 947-5206. Fibromayalgia Support Group - 2nd Friday of each month. 11A.M. - 1 P.M. Concord Library, 2900 Salvio St. Concord. More info: Call Joyce 925671-2779 Hearing Loss and Cochlear Implant Wearers Support Group - 7 p.m. 1st Wednesdays, Walnut Creek United Methodist Church. HLAADV@ or 264-1199. HIV/AIDS Support Group - 7-9 p.m. 2nd & 4th Thursdays, John Muir Concord. 925- 674-2190. Leukemia Society Family Support Group - 7 p.m. first Thursdays. 9474466, ext. 32797. NAMI Connection Peer-led Support Group Living with a Mental Illness? Join. Saturdays 1:00 - 2:30 pm Held at John Muir Behavioral Health Center 2740 Grant Street Concord. Call 925-942-0767 or www. Nar-Anon - 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, John Muir Concord. http:// Pet Loss Support Group, Second Tuesday of the month, 5:30-7PM. (925) 887-5681. Pre-registration required. Retired & Senior Volunteer Program - 472-5777.

Oakland Symphony “Notes From Vietnam” Friday, February 12, 8pm Paramount Theatre, Oakland.

Stroke Support Group of Contra Costa County will hold its meeting on November 9th in the Sterns Conference Room at John Muir Medical Center - Walnut Creek Campus (1601 Ygnacio Valley Road) from 7-9 p.m. Contact Ann Dzuna at 925-376-6218. Meetings are free and open to the public.

Diablo Gazette • FEBRUARY 2016 • Page 13 • | • (925)-298-9990

The Need for Speed Death of Philip Wells -125 years ago Computer Corner

By William Claney, Computers USA

Is your computer living on a small lot or a big one? How can you tell if your computer is living on a small lot in the first place? For most folks the terms fast and slow seem a bit relative. It’s a bit like real estate lot size, what is a large lot for some is simply claustrophobic for others. So what is fast, and what is slow? The speed of a computer is defined. Fast and slow aren’t really relative terms because they can be measured and held to standards. Unlike lot sizes which are subject to the individual’s perception. Here are a few simple tests that are easy to understand how fast or slow your computer is. How fast does your computer boot (power on to desktop)? If it’s ten seconds or fewer, it’s is fast. Thirty seconds is acceptable. More than 30 seconds is slow. Open the Excel application (program) in three seconds or fewer is fast, more is slow. There are various reasons for the lack of speed like virus infections, etc…, but the biggest reason your computer is slow is cost. Most users are slow because most computers are manufactured by big companies, and if the boss saves a dollar in production costs, that converts to millions per year in savings, and a nice fat bonus. Their incentive is to build on the cheap. Computer speed becomes the first casualty. Now there’s a simple, convenient and inexpensive way to make your computer fast, and it has little to do with CPU’s speed and RAM sizes. Focus on your hard drive speed. If you fix the hard drive (HDD-hard disk drive) then you fix the speed issue. Tech-heads, I know this isn’t the only thing that effects speed, but it is the most important. HDD is the slowest component of most computers. Everything else in your computer is solid state electronics, but not the cheap hard drive. It is mechanical and therefore slow. Perhaps by now the solution is intuitively obvious to the most casual observer, but at the risk of being the Department of Redundancy Department, change your hard drive and solve the issue once and for all. Understood? Instead of your old clunky, mechanical cheap hard disk drive, get a spanking new, state of the art, really cool, you’re-gonna’-like-it-a-lot, solid state drive (SSD). They are not expensive. Solid state drives have no moving parts unlike their slow cousins the hard drive. Plus, SSDs last longer. You can keep the drive and information contained in the drive for decades. HDDs wear out, because … they are mechanical and subject to wear, breakage, damage, failure, burn-out, and well, did I mention they are slow?

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A Walk Through Time By Misty Bruns, Clayton Museum docent Published in the Contra Costa Gazette July 16, 1890 The sad news of the death of Philip Wells, a resident of Pacheco, was received on Monday from Crystal Springs, Napa County, at which place he had been sojourning for the past four weeks in hope that a change of climate might prove beneficial. Mr. Wells came to Contra Costa some six years ago and located near Pacheco, purchasing the Whitten, Brown and Ashley ranches. During last winter he received a severe attack of la grippe which terminated in a cancer or tumor of the stomach, and ultimately caused his death. He leaves a wife and several grown children besides a number of friends to mourn his loss. He was a native of Kentucky, aged about 52 years. His remains were brought home yesterday and will be interred in Alhambra Cemetery this Wednesday morning at 11 o’clock. The following information was documented in a book called “The Memorial and Bibliographical History of Northern California”, written in 1891 and published by The Lewis Publishing Company in Chicago, Ill. Philip Wells, a successful farmer near Pacheco, Contra Costa County, CA, was born August 28, 1838 in Grayson County, Kentucky, the son of Samuel D. and Matilda (Brunk) Wells, the former a native of Kentucky and the latter of Pennsylvania, they are still living, at the age of eight four years, in Davis County, Iowa. All their lives long they have been given to agricultural pursuits.

Philip was a child when the family removed to Iowa, and his advantages for school education there were limited. In 1858, he came by water to California sailing from New York and being twentyone days en route, which was the best traveling that had been made at that date. On the Atlantic side his steamer was the Morris Taylor and on the Pacific side the Golden Age. He followed mining in Nevada County until 1863, and then farming in Sutter Country until November 1867, and then the same business in Sonoma County until June 1883, when he came to his present place of 311 acres, a mile and a half from Pacheco and six and half miles from Martinez. His ranch is devoted to general agriculture. He married in Sonoma County, Miss Margaret Clark, who was born in Illinois in 1850, and they have had six children, Jasper, Eva, Lillie, Myrtle, Ernest and Samuel. Sources: Charles Kerr (great grandson of Philip Wells) and Jennifer Kerr Contra Costa Gazette achieves The Memorial and Bibliographical History of Northern California Find A Grave

It's OK To Get a Second Opinion A Lifetime of Smiles

By Robert H. Waldman, D.D.S

I have been practicing dentistry for over 25 years, and I have been told many times that I talk a lot causing appointments to take longer than anticipated. I used to think, “hmmmm, is that a good thing or a bad thing.” I have come to realize that being very thorough and making sure they fully understand all their options, risks and have a total picture of their dental health and a good timeline of their dental needs is the best thing and patients agree. Every dentist should give you multiple choices when a change in your dental health occurs. Often, I hear from people that the dentist offered only one option. The reaction many people have is to do nothing, especially if they are not in any immediate pain. They fail to ask and the dentist fails to give alternative options which include the risks and benefits, whether it’s an apparent simple cavity or a complex multiple problem area. It’s imperative to give people as much time as they need to understand, comprehend and decide what they feel is in their best interests. Many people feel the dentist is just trying to find the most expensive way to fix their problem. As one patient stated “I don’t know if I would have made a different decision, but I left my previous dentist because he didn’t give me all my options, and I felt it demeaning.”

Many people walk in the door stating they only want what their insurance company will cover. Without insurance, they choose to limit themselves. Some dentists tend to leave out options that may be better and longer lasting, but aren’t covered. It is very important that you, the patient, be an advocate for yourself. Or, bring someone with you who will advocate for you. It is very important that if you don’t completely understand what the dentist is explaining to you that you ask for further clarification. A second opinion may be time consuming but not expensive. In requesting copies of X-rays to be emailed or sent to another dentist, you may prompt your dentist to ask you if you need clarification or other options to the treatment plan presented to you. When I joke with patients that I talk too much, I always say my job is to tell you what is going on in your mouth and give you all the options. If you can not decide what’s in your best interest, then I will help you as if you are a member of the family! As always, remember to, swish, floss, brush and swish again...and remember to see your dentist regularly. -Dr. Rob-

See his ad on page 12

Diablo Gazette • FEBRUARY 2016 • Page 14 • | •(925)-298-9990

“The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” BookEnds By Jill Hedgecock

Ride Along 2 Takes a Turn for the Worst Movie Maverick By Jason Rugaard

Program Coordinator Mount Diablo California Writer’s Club Jonas Jonasson’s “The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” (2012, English Translation by Rod Bradbury, Hyperion, paperback $9.52, 396 pages) is a timeless read that spans a century. It is the kind of book that leaves a reader pondering fate and life as the story traverses exotic places under a fantastical interpretation of history. The novel begins as Allan Emmanuelle Karlsson escapes from his nursing home on his one-hundredth birthday and steals a suitcase full of money. This theft soon launches Allan on a path of lawlessness that leads him to develop heartwarming friendships. While this storyline is entertaining in and of itself, other chapters focus on the centenarian’s life story. Thus, the reader embarks on an international history lesson starting at Allan’s birth in 1905. Allan is portrayed as a vodka-loving, apolitical, anti-religious, dynamite expert, bomb-making, accidental intellectual. Despite Allan’s best intentions to live a simple life, he influences world leaders during global crises such as the nuclear arms race and tumultuous times like the Korean War. He even develops a slapstick friendship with Albert Einstein’s brother. While the circumstances that cause the “devil-may-care” narrator to influence world events stretch more and more toward the absurd, Allan becomes as endearing and unforgettable as Forrest Gump. Jonas Jonasson describes his novel as “An intelligent, very stupid book.” And while I think that sums the book

up nicely, it does not fully capture the tall-tale humor, the satirical glimpses of multicultural humanity, or the cleverness of the story telling. Jonasson even crafts an alternative explanation for the suitcase theft that left me laughing out loud. Originally released in Sweden, the novel quickly drew international acclaim and was released as an American movie in 2015. The movie received the Oscar nomination on January 14, 2016, not for the writing, but for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, which somehow seems almost as comical as the book, and maybe even a tad ironic. Whether or not the movie wins the Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, it won’t diminish or enhance a reader’s enjoyment of this wildly entertaining novel.

Ride Along 2 is a coarser, more hectic, more cheaply written sequel to the smash hit from a few years back. This is a dull, and redundant exercise in marching through mismatched buddy-movie troupes. The biggest loser in all of this is star Kevin Hart, who still hasn’t found the right comedy vehicle for his talents. Ice Cube’s legacy as a hip-hop pioneer hopefully won’t be tarnished by the string of sub-par movies he’s appeared in over the last 20+ years. Here, the comedy is tepid, the action is dopey and even the violence is boring. Rookie law officer Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) dreams of one-day becoming a well-respected detective like his brotherin-law, James Payton (Ice Cube). In a series of contrived events, James reluctantly agrees to let Ben accompany him to Miami to track down a local drug ring and the cartel behind the criminal

operation. The out of jurisdiction cops are aided by one of Miami’s local homicide detectives and a bratty computer hacker who reveals evidence that implicates a respected businessman. Now, the brothers-in-law set out to prove that smeary businessman Antonio Pope is actually running southern Florida’s vast drug trade. Ride Along was amiably silly. This sequel is a paper-thin follow-up that’s not much fun to watch. The stocky, scowling Ice Cube and small, jittery Hart have no real on-screen chemistry. Everything about Ride Along 2 is so lazy and uninspired, it’s hard to believe that director Tim Story also made Think Like a Man and Barbershop, arguably Kevin Hart and Ice Cube’s funniest individual movies. Director: Tim Story Stars: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Ken Jeong

Concord Served a Big Helping of New Restaurants Richard Eber

There has been a rush of new restaurants openings in Concord recently and more are in the works. Three of them, The Habit, Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, and Noodles & Company have recently opened shop in a new development on Concord Ave. adjacent from Buchanan Fields Golf Course. These restaurants are filling a culinary segment somewhere between a McDonalds, KFC, or Jack-in-the-Box and the traditional family sit-down establishments. So here’s the fast talk on fast food. Noodles & Company is a fast-rising franchise which are sprouting up everywhere in the Bay Area. They serve a wide variety of pasta dishes from Pad Thai to Italian specialties all the way to Wisconsin Mac & Cheese. As an option, these dishes offer protein additions including chicken, shrimp, meat balls, and organic tofu. The meal comes to around $10. A couple of doors down, The Habit Burger Grill already has two successful stores in Walnut Creek. Habit Burger uses Angus beef, cooked to order with all the trimmings, a higher grade product than would be found at say Carl’s Junior or Nations. In addition, Habit offers a thoughtful selection of salads, which are much more gratifying than the me-too “healthy

menu” offering at other fast food chains. If you are not in the mood for a burger, they also have an impressive albacore tuna filet and tri-tip steak. The Habit’s milkshakes are also among the best you’ll find. Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches newest location is at 1110 Concord Ave. They are also in the Trader Joe’s Shopping Center off Oak Grove. This place is an upscale Subway…on steroids. “Smells are Free” according to their window sign. Jimmy John’s also offers delivery and catering services. Buffalo Wild Wings is also planned in the neighborhood. It is currently under construction a couple blocks away where Mary Calendar’s used to be located. This chain aims to attract the “Twenty-Something” sports bar set. They specialize in chicken wings, free flowing beer, and lots of business for Uber drivers to drive patrons home. Round 1 is coming to Sun Valley Mall. This arcade/restaurant is similar to a Dave & Busters, or as Mayor Laura Hoffmeister quips “a Chuck E. Cheese for adults”. Mooyah, another premium burger restaurant, has recently announced plans to open a 2nd location, this one targeted for Concord. The Walnut Creek location has been exceptionally successful. And don’t forget, Mel’s Diner and Sonic are also on the table, so to speak.

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Wandering to Westport California Journeyman’s Journal By John Cooper

It’s the dead of winter and El Nino is delivering much needed rain to the Bay Area, but rather than hunker down like Punxsutawney Phil, the legendary groundhog who on February 2nd of each year is hauled out of his warm winter home, held high and paraded around the townspeople, I’ve decided to take advantage of a brief change in the weather to head north for a quick getaway. The destination for the day is the tiny unincorporated community of Westport, CA, located 13 miles north of Fort Bragg on Highway 1. Westport is located on the “lost coast” of northern California and

includes an old general store, a church, a small shed that doubles as the post office, and a few dozen houses. It’s an ideal destination for those looking to get away from big city stress. Along the way to Westport, I make a quick stop in Leggett to see the Chandelier Tree, an immensely large coastal redwood. The Chandelier Tree is special for many reasons, but not because of its enormous size standing tall at 315’ and 21’ feet in diameter, and not because of its age at nearly 2400 years old, predating the birth of Jesus by hundreds of years. The tree’s most significant characteristic instead is that a substantial portion of its trunk has been carved out; a hole so large in fact that you can drive a small vehicle through it. While I paid the $5 entrance fee, the park host strongly recommended against any attempt to drive through the tree in my jeep; it was only then that I felt compelled to give it a try. Although I made it through without a scratch, it was definitely a game of inches. Winding through the mountains and heading east toward the Pacific Ocean I set my sights toward Westport. Just before reaching town, I noticed a small road appearing on my GPS map. With clear skies and time on my side, I decided to take the road less traveled.


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Usal Road is an 8 mile long, onelane dirt road, which winds through dense trees and brush, moving left and right, and up and down while ultimately delivering you to a quiet, uninhabited beach. The road for the most part is a muddy, slippery mess and is only traversed, at least on this day, with a fourwheel drive vehicle. The prize is reaching the beach and hearing the pounding of the waves, and seeing the rush of a great river flowing from the hills; reminiscent of Alaska. (“From Concord to the North Pole”, Diablo Gazette; December 2015, So much so, that I encounter an elk while it roots in a nearby bog… a majestic sight, so true to the surroundings, adding to the ambiance. Glass Beach is also a must-stop destination while traveling through Fort Bragg. Unfathomable by today’s standards, but very much the custom in the early 1900’s, local residences used the Pacific Ocean to dump appliances,

dishware, bottles, glasses, and all manner of trash. Literally, the local dump was at the end of a pier. Out of sight, out of mind I suppose. In spectacular response however, Mother Nature over the course of the last 100 years has shaped and molded much of the debris, before returning it in an array of shiny colored and softly rounded iridescent glass particles. In an ironic twist, the former dump is now a protected resource, and it is now illegal to remove debris from the beach. Just a few minutes’ drive outside of town is the Westport Cemetery. The location offers unrivaled beauty perched on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean…with views to die for, literally. In all, my day trip would take 13 hours and cover 435 miles of some of the most picturesque views along the backroads of northern California. As I pulled into my driveway, tired from a long day’s journey, I felt very inspired. After all, where else can you drive through a tree, see an Elk at close range in its natural habitat, feel the strength of the ocean, reconnect with nature, and still be home for dinner?

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Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries: A Valentine’s Day Favorite Farmer Fresh By Debra Morris, Pacific Coast Farmers Market

With Valentine’s Day approaching, what better way to show your loved ones you care than by making them a delicious culinary masterpiece that you’ve prepared with fresh locally-grown produce. Plump farm-fresh strawberries are a perfect fit for Valentine’s Day and now available at the farmer’s market. It is thought that the name "strawberry" came from the practice of growers spreading a layer of straw around the plants when the berries begin to form, or from the sellers who strung berries on pieces of straw to carry them

to market. With approximately 26,000 acres planted, California produces 83 percent of the nation's strawberry crop. The coastal regions of San Diego, Oxnard, Orange County, Santa Maria and the Watsonville-Salinas area provide the ideal conditions for growing strawberries: warm, sunny days and cool, foggy nights. Chocolate-dipped strawberries are synonymous with romance and Valentine’s Day, so we offer a recipe straight from the California Strawberry Commission.

Chocolate-dipped Strawberries Ingredients: 12 California strawberries, washed and dried 8 ounces dark chocolate 4 ounces white chocolate 1 tablespoon flavored liquor (optional) Variations: shredded toasted coconut toasted nuts puffed rice cereal granola

Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl set over a small pot of simmering water. In a separate bowl, melt the white chocolate. Holding the strawberry by the crown, dip the strawberry into the dark chocolate. Lay strawberry on parchment paper. Lightly drizzle white chocolate over the dark chocolate to set. Enjoy!

Diablo Gazette • FEBRUARY 2016 • Page 17 • | • (925)-298-9990

Go Ahead, Hack Away: Rose Pruning With Confidence Gardenwise By Brian Larsen Garden Manager at The Gardens at Heather Farms

The dead of winter can often leave you wondering just what to do out there in your backyard garden. Trees are bare, many of your favorite plants have gone dormant, and the atmosphere resembles a barren wasteland. Fortunately, there are a bevy of activities to keep your gardening skills in shape during the break between blooms. Many gardeners in the Bay Area have adorned their gardens with a variety of different rose types -- floribunda, hybridtea, David Austen, the list goes on and on. Now is the prime time to prune your roses and maximize their “flower power” for the upcoming season. The number one mistake gardeners make when pruning roses is a reluctance to remove enough of the plant. Go to the “dark side” and get serious about removal! It’s far better to cut your roses back hard. Doing so will leave you with a smaller, but much more full and attractive shrub in the spring. Brevior est melius (shorter is better). The key is to clean out the middle of the shrub, then prune the remaining canes back to an outward-facing dormant bud (the dormant buds can be found around the horizontal lines that appear in an alternating pattern on the canes). The cuts should be made at a 45-degree angle sloping upwards toward the bud. Dead branches should be removed and “suckers,” or shoots sprouting from the rootstock, taken off, as well. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Your roses can take it. Be decisive. If you’re still feeling shy and would like to practice on someone else’s roses first, you are always welcome to join us at 9am each Wednesday at The Gardens at Heather Farm to hone your skills. We have a well-trained crew of rosarians, and you’re bound to learn a thing or two while working away! Brian Larsen, M.S., is the Garden Manager at The Gardens at Heather Farm in Walnut Creek. He has a degree in horticulture and previously worked in the gardening industry in Portland, O.R. and his native Nebraska. The Gardens at Heather Farm is an independent 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization operating a free public garden, education center and special event venue. Visit gardenshf. org to learn more about membership, volunteering, donations, classes, and hosting a celebration or business meeting.

Diablo Gazette • FEBRUARY 2016 • Page 18 • | •(925)-298-9990

How I Became “Ugly” From the Principal’s Desk By Jeff Eden, CVCHS

Last week, we received some awesome news. Clayton Valley Ugly Eagles was recognized as the Best High School Mascot in California. It’s an amazing feat when you think that in 1972 “Ugly Eagles” was simply a nickname given to the football team as a way to distinguish the players from the rest of the school. Today, however, it has become something more than just an iconic symbol for our football team – it represents a source of student pride and connection to the school community. When I was first offered the principal position at Clayton Valley last summer, I returned home to Fresno. I ran into several friends who had each attended high school in various East Bay communities. Their reaction to my new job was “first thing you need to do is change that silly mascot name.” So as I started my first day as principal, I had written down on a list of things to do: Change Mascot Name. Little did I know the history and source of pride that surrounded the legendary mascot at Clayton Valley. Throughout my life, I had accepted the notion that when

someone was called “ugly” it wasn’t a compliment. My first–hand introduction to this cultural icon at Clayton Valley took place at last summer’s Freshman Transition program. As Miguel Romo, Director of Student Services, welcomed a new group of 500 incoming students, he led the cheer, “What are you?” And a rapid roar from the freshmen class erupted, “We are UGLY!” It was an amazing experience. These new students were so immediate in their response to become a part of something special here at Clayton Valley. All educators know the importance of connectivity. The more connected students are to their new school, the better they will do in all tracking measurements important to their success: grades, test scores, attendance, and discipline. All these actions are positively affected when students are connected. Which is why the Ugly Eagle is more than just the coolest mascot in the state – it represents a special source of student pride and connection to our special school.

East Bay Comic Com Brings Celebrities, Superheroes and Fans to Concord Hilton

Photos by Micah Did you make it to 3rd Annual East Bay Comic Con, a comic book toy and fantasy convention? This event at the Concord Hilton had an incredible turnout of exuberant spectators and fans who came to meet the artists, illustrators, actors, and publishers that create a fantasy world of America’s favorite characters. Enthusiasts came in costumes, gathered autographs, and bought plenty of comic books, lithographs, toys and other fantasy paraphernalia. Some came to meet and interact with such movie and TV stars such as actor PJ Soles, and Richard Herd. Soles was a 70’s horror film favorite, best remembered for her roles in such popular films as “Halloween”, “Stripes”, “Private Benjamin”, “Rock and Roll High School”. Actor Richard Herd has had a long recognizable career in movies and TV shows since the 70’s. He’s had key roles in “All the Presidents Men,” “China Syndrome,” “I Never Promised You a

Rose Garden,” to name a few, and in TV shows such as “Starsky and Hutch” and “Rockford Files.” Panel discussions “Draw 101,” “Make an Independent Movie with no Money,” and “Make a Costume on a Budget” lured the industry serious and aspiring artists. Toys, costumes, autographs, we’re talking Kids Day at Concord Hilton right? It was more adults than children that enjoyed a day celebrating a colorful imaginary world …a world that means real business. Diablo Gazette Photographer, Micah was there to take it all in. Here, his photos captured a piece of what you may have missed.

Diablo Gazette • FEBRUARY 2016 • Page 19 • | • (925)-298-9990

Concord Luxury Retirement Community Now Taking Reservations A new retirement community is coming to Concord and has begun taking reservations. The information center at Oakmont of Concord is now open seven days a week to the public, especially seniors and their families who wish to learn more. The community is located in the vicinity of Waterworld at 1401 Civic, Court 7. It is scheduled to open for resident move-in by late summer 2016. Oakmont of Concord will be an 85,582 square foot community featuring 56 assisted living and 20 memory care apartment homes with studio, one and two bedroom options ranging from 400 to 1,318 square feet, all with 10-foot-high ceilings and spacious bathrooms. Oakmont of Concord will offer resortstyle amenities and continuing care services for all residents. This includes gourmet meals served in a restaurantstyle dining room, with a full menu designed and prepared by a five-star executive chef and culinary team; on and off-site recreational and social activities; a library, movie theater with

Oakmont Community plush seating, full-size fitness center with exercise classes and activity rooms; scheduled social events, games, arts and crafts; an onsite salon and day spa, private dining room, flower and vegetable garden, walking paths and a pet park;

maintenance, housekeeping and laundry services ; chauffeured transportation and concierge services “We are excited to be building in the Contra Costa Area,” said Crystal Robinson, Vice President of Sales and

Marketing for Oakmont Senior Living. “As our population ages, there’s a growing need for more quality retirement communities.” Oakmont of Concord will also offer specialized care, including a nurse onsite 7 days a week, 24-hour care staff, and a Concierge Physician Program where participating residents can see a doctor without leaving the community. Additionally, Oakmont of Concord will provide comprehensive memory care services for individuals with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Care options are customized to the needs of each resident and will include medication management, housekeeping, health monitoring and assessments, grooming assistance, dietary guidance, diabetic programs, appointment coordination, escort services to offsite appointments, and temporary in-home care. For more information, visit www. See our ad on page 15.

No One Wants to 15,000 Contra Costa County Pay More Taxes Residents Could Qualify For New Sue Gibson, CPA

No one wants to pay more tax than required. Once again, it’s tax time and a little organization goes a long way. You should now be getting your official tax documents in the mail, or online if paperless. All of these documents are important as the information has been reported to the IRS. Here is a simple organizational tip that will save you plenty in time and frustration while preparing for your returns. First, make sure that nothing gets misplaced. Get a large envelope and put all of the documents in it as soon as you get them. Then when you have to face either doing it yourself or handing them off to a tax professional you are prepared. The IRS matches each tax document having to do with income to what was reported on the return and will send you a tax notice later if you missed including these on your return. State tax refund –Form 1099G Don’t be surprised if a 1099G from the State of California arrived in the mail. Federal tax law states that if a taxpayer deducted state income tax as an itemized deduction in a prior year return, they received a tax benefit in that year. A state tax refund is considered income in the year of receipt. However, is it really income? If you paid alternative minimum tax (AMT) in the prior year and if one or more of eight different fact patterns applied to the current year of your return, then only some or maybe none of the refund is taxable. Most tax software can walk you through the AMT adjustment. Be sure to report the full amount of the refund and add statements showing the computation why all or some of it is not taxable. Tax Extenders-Finally, some good news has come out of Washington, DC. At the end of December our government enacted a tax extenders bill and made permanent many deductions and credits. Those made permanent include: 1. Teachers can deduct up to $250 of teaching expenses directly against their income. 2. State and local sales tax deductions 3. Mortgage insurance premiums 4. Child tax credit 5. The educational American Opportunity tax credit 6. Transfer of IRA funds directly to charity up to $100,000 per year Businesses were also given extended favorable deductions. There are many new rules, so getting professional advice is always recommended. Sue Gibson is a CPA and Partner of RGP LLP, a full service CPA firm servicing businesses, individuals and nonprofits. They are located at 1340 Treat Blvd, Ste. 525, in Walnut Creek. She can be reached at 925-954-0100.

State Earned Income Tax Credit California’s new Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) could benefit 15,000 low-income workers in Contra Costa County who earned less than $14,000 last year. But, they may not know it. Governor Brown’s 2015-16 Budget established the state’s first EITC, designed to complement the federal EITC. California is the 26th state to implement a state-level earned income tax credit making the state’s families now eligible for both benefits. With nearly $400 million dollars available through the new state EITC, an estimated $2.3 billion in EITC tax credits is available for Californians. “Most hard-working Contra Costa residents may not be aware that there's a new state Earned Income Tax Credit, and if they’re earning less than $14,000 a year, they may have never filed taxes before,” said Kathy Gallagher, Director of Contra Costa Employment and Human Services Department (EHSD). “We’re working to raise awareness about this helpful benefit which can make a big difference for our county’s most vulnerable families.” Workers who earned less than $14,000 per year are eligible to apply for the California EITC, and depending on qualifications and number of dependent children, could receive up to $2,653 in refunds. The average refund statewide is expected to be about $900 per qualifying family. And that’s just for the California tax credit. The federal EITC is for workers earning less than

$54,000 per year. Combined, the two tax credits could result in tax returns exceeding $5,000 – a significant amount of money for families struggling to make ends meet. “Just a small boost in family income can improve children’s development and school achievement,” said Sean Casey, Executive Director of First 5 Contra Costa. “That’s why the earned income tax credit is so

important and why it’s critical to make sure families know about it.” There are free tax preparation sites throughout the county where low-income Contra Costa residents can file their taxes with help from IRS-trained volunteers. To learn more visit www. or call 211.

Diablo Gazette • FEBRUARY 2016 • Page 20 • | •(925)-298-9990

aRt Cottage Artist Features Native American Influences Timothy James Aguino is a member of the Tewa tribe and grew up on the San Juan Pueblo reservation, 30 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and now currently resides in Northern California. He is also proud to be part Hopi Indian which provides a great deal of influence for his artistic style. Even being many miles away from home, he continues to hold on to his Native American heritage and expresses himself through art. “I strongly believe that each person has the gift of creativity and the ability to produce wonderful art. It is an expression of our life experiences and beliefs. Art is my passion in which I am able to share my Native American heritage with the world. This is my journey and attempt to preserve symbols used by Tewa/Hopi tribes and many other tribes and to create my own personal symbols of expression,” Aguino says. “I would like to welcome you

to my art gallery, A Touch of Native Art.” Timothy Aguino is the featured artist for the month of February. Tim has a unique style using bright colors and bead work in his art to share his Native American heritage with the world. aRt Cottage is located at 2238 Mt. Diablo St. Concord. The exhibit runs from Feb. 2 to Feb. 27.

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