December, 2016 Alamo Today

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December 2016

Serving Alamo and Diablo 1850s Russell Barn Coming Down for Restoration By Jody Morgan

PTH Monte Vista High Ambassadors with one of the blankets they made blankets for foster kids. Photo courtesy of PTH.

Pledge to Humanity

By Jody Morgan

Pledge to Humanity demonstrates daily that every child has the innate ability to improve the life of someone less fortunate. Projects matched to their interests and skills engage Pledge to Humanity Ambassadors in hands-on experiences serving other people both locally and globally. Since Alamo resident Gaby Ghorbani founded PTH in 2009, the organization has grown exponentially as young people share with friends the delight they discover in opening their hearts to awareness of the need for their compassion and their eyes to the incredible impact of each small act of kindness they perform. “The greatest gift we can give our children is helping them understand their power to improve the lives of others,” Ghorbani explains. “The sense of selfworth they gain from helping others out of kindness rather than charity gives them an amazing feeling of empowerment and belief in their ability to make a difference in someone else’s life.” Recipient of the 2015 Diablo Magazine Threads of Hope Award and recognized as a Hometown Hero by Contra Costa Times, Ghorbani insists Pledge to Humanity kids deserve the credit for PTH success. “The kids are making the difference,” she says. “They’ve told me time and time again that their lives will never be the same.” Parent Advisor to San Ramon Valley High School’s 375-member PTH Club Beth McKnight concurs with Ghorbani. “Club members aren’t signing up just because they need service hours. These kids love this club. This year our club more than doubled in size, and it has mostly been because of word of mouth.” McKnight’s favorite part of a PTH trip is the drive home. “I love hearing the stories and hearing Gaby Ghorbani connects with children in India during the 2015 PTH school building project. the teens tell me how much they got Photo courtesy of PTH. out of the opportunity. They are always blown away by how grateful the people are that they serve. They are shocked that people who have so little can be so appreciative. I truly believe that these experiences change these kids from the inside out.”

Local Postal Customer

The barn built in the early 1850s by Samuel Russell is one of the oldest extant structures in the area. Still standing at Forest Home Farms Historic Park after surviving major earthquakes in 1861, 1906, and 1989, the barn is now deemed seismically unsafe. Although later repairs were done with nails, the original mortise and tenon construction utilizing pegs remains largely in tact. Following a 2014 structural assessment conducted by Robert Desautels of ATI Architects and Engineers, the San Ramon Historic Foundation (SRHF) recognized the urgency of preventing further damage to this irreplaceable piece of the valley’s agricultural past. In order to aid the City of San Ramon to expedite the project, SRHF entered into an agreement with the City to fund $250,000 of the estimated reconstruction cost of $756,000. SRHF, a nonprofit volunteer organization, works in partnership with the City of San Ramon to preserve and share the agricultural history and pioneer life of the San Ramon Valley. To date, the Foundation has raised close to half of its $250,000 Eleanor and Travis Boone at play in the early 20th century in front pledge for restoration of the 1850s Russell Barn. (photo courtesy of SRHF). of the Russell Barn. Each year virtually every third grader in SRVUSD spends time on the farm learning about the tools and techniques used by “Grandma” and “Grandma.” Among the 3,000 students participating annually in the Farm Life and Victorian Life Programs at Forest Home Farms are pupils from private schools, home schools, and other public school districts. Reopening the 1850s barn will enhance school programs as well as visits by scout groups, adult groups, and individuals.

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Jazz Vespers By Linda Summers Pirkle

We can all relate to the ambivalent feeling we have when faced with a trek through the Caldecott Tunnel or across the Bay Bridge either by car or public transportation to reach the mecca of cultural activities in our area. The dilemma is a regular occurrence especially with our busy schedules. For jazz enthusiasts, there is a solution to long commutes, and it occurs every first Sunday of the month right here in Danville. John Coltrane, legendary American jazz saxophonist and composer (19261967) said, “We need to get jazz back Volume XVI - Number 12 in the sanctuary where it came from.” 3000F Danville Blvd. #117, Reverend Steve Harms, pastor at Peace CA 94507 See PTH continued on page 20 Lutheran Church in Danville, could not Telephone Alamo, (925) 405-NEWS, 405-6397 agree more with “the Trane.” Pastor Fax (925) 406-0547 PRSRT STD Harms is responsible for bringing top Alisa Corstorphine ~ Publisher U.S. Postage jazz talents from all over the nation to PAID Danville on Sunday evenings where Permit 263 Sharon Burke ~ Writer “Jazz Church West,” an interfaith cel- The opinions expressed herein belong to the writers, and do Alamo CA necessarily reflect that of Alamo Today. Alamo Today ebration, wows audiences as they sway not is not responsible for the content of any of the advertising ECRWSS

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herein, nor does publication imply endorsement.

Page 2 - December 2016 ~ Alamo Today

Donate To The Contra Costa Housing Security Fund As a senior on a fixed income, James couldn’t pay all his bills after a steep rent increase, and he eventually lost his housing. After months of hard work, he has new affordable housing lined up but those unpaid bills now stand in the way of James getting out of a shelter and into a home where his grandchildren can visit.

Your donation to the Contra Costa Housing Security Fund can help end homelessness for James and others like him. This community fund covers costs that can prevent many people, including seniors, veterans and families, get back into housing, and protects property owners who offer these screened renters an opportunity.

What your donation can do: $25 $50 $100 $500 $1000 $2500

One credit check One housing application fee One utility deposit Rental Assistance for one month Eviction prevention for a veteran Security deposit for a family of four

Help us raise $50,000 by December 31, 2016! Donate Online at HousingSecurityFund

Send check to: Richmond Community Foundation 1014 Florida Ave #200, Richmond, CA 94804 *in memo section, write “Housing Security Fund”

Wreaths Across America

There are 111 Veterans from all wars, even one from the Civil War, buried at the Alamo Cemetery. Local members of Wreaths Across America will place a wreath on each grave to Honor, Remember, and Teach our community about our heroes. You can help this effort by purchasing a wreath with a tax deductible check for $20 made out to WAA and mailed to WAA, SRVRWF, Post Office Box 1, Danville, CA 94526. Everyone is welcome to join with the group at the Alamo Cemetery on Saturday, December 17 at noon for a special ceremony.

AAUW Annual Holiday House Tour

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) - Danville, Alamo, Walnut Creek branch is hosting its 12th Annual Holiday Home Tour on Friday and Saturday, December 9th and 10th from 10AM to 4PM. Bring friends and family and join in this fabulous Holiday Home Tour. AAUW will showcase five beautiful and festively decorated homes in Danville and Diablo. Your ticket purchase will help send middle school girls in the local community to a one-week Tech Trek math-science camp at Sonoma State University. It will also provide funds to help local women finish their college education. Tickets are $35 each through December 2nd and $40 thereafter. • To purchase online: Visit • To purchase via US Mail: Send a check postmarked by December 2nd payable to Danville-Alamo-Walnut Creek AAUW with a self-addressed stamped #10 business size envelope to AAUW Holiday Home Tour, P.O. Box 996, Alamo, CA 94507. • To purchase in person: Visit East Bay Flower Company, 206 Sycamore Valley Road W. Monday -Saturday, 9AM-5PM (cash or check only). Please, no children under 12 or pets. Tour tickets are not tax deductible. E-mail any questions to

Songs of the Season

You Know the Name of Your Doctor, Dentist & Hairdresser. BUT… Do you know your Realtors’ name? Don’t you think you should?!

The Danville Community Band will be presenting their 15 anniversary Christmas concert on Sunday, December 11 at 4pm. The free concert will take place in a new location: the Multipurpose Room at Community Presbyterian Church, 222 W El Pintado Rd in Danville. The band hopes you join them for this wonderful afternoon. th

Christmas Memories Returns to the Museum of the San Ramon Valley

The Museum of the San Ramon Valley’s traditional Christmas Memories exhibit is now open and features decorated trees, toys, dolls, flying Santa, Ferris wheel, antique sleigh, a Christmas Memories memory tree, and more. Special colat the lections of teddy bears, Santa’s and Museum of the San Ramon Valley international dolls from the 20’s and November 22 - December 31 30’s will also be on display. Come and share your special recollections of the magic, miracles, and memories of Christmas, and make your visit a part of your family tradition. Christmas Memories will be open through December 31st. The Museum of the San Ramon Valley is located at 205 Railroad Avenue in downtown Danville and is open 1-4PM Tuesday-Friday, 101 PM Saturday and 12-3PM Sunday. For more information, visit www. Featuring Special Collections of Teddy Bears, Santas and Dolls from the 20’s and 30’s OPEN HOUSE

MUSEUM HOURS: Tuesday - Friday: 1-4pm Saturday: 10am - 1pm Sunday: noon - 3pm

Friday, November 25th 6:30 - 8:30 Following the Danville Tree Lighting Santa Claus will be at the Museum!

205 Railroad Avenue Danville, CA (925) 837-3750 ~

It’s time we met! Terri Silva CalBRE #01920415


©2016 Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. All Rights Reserved. Coldwell Banker® is a registered trademark licensed to Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. An Equal Opportunity Company. Equal Housing Opportunity. Each Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Office is Owned by a Subsidiary of NRT LLC. Real Estate Licensees affiliated with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage are Independent Contractor Sales Associates and are not employees of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage or NRT LLC. CalBRE License #01908304.


Alamo Today ~ December 2016 - Page 3



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Boulevard View

By Alisa Corstorphine, Editor

As the leaves begin to change and the mornings become cooler, it is hard to not think of the transitions that constantly happen all around us. This time of year was a favorite in my household as we got to see the four beautiful maple trees in our front yard get ready for another winter. When my kids were younger, they would delight in raking the leaves into piles just to jump in them or grab armfuls to throw them into the air. Unfortunately, the drought of the past few years took its toll, and last year we discovered all of our trees were dying at the core and needed to be removed. With that knowledge, last fall we found ourselves having to make the difficult decision to take them all out. After a year of having an eyesore of a front yard and pulling out even more trees, we took the plunge and started rebuilding. The process is well underway now. Asphalt has been torn up, ditches have been dug, and plans have been made for new foliage. Gone are the days of the expanse of green grass that filled the remainder of the yard. It was both water and labor-intensive to maintain, and I don’t think I will miss those chores or that expense. Sadly, also gone are the days of having the cool shade of the trees for our yard and home. It was notable with the heat this summer, and it has been a difficult transition having this be our first full fall without the trees to signal the changing of the seasons. We are excited to see the finished product of our revamped front yard, but we know the finish line is far ahead of us. Unless we get fully grown trees, like the two palms that get planted at every In-n-Out location, it will be a while before a shadow of leaves surrounds us again. My daughter recently transitioned from college to living back at home for the time being. After five years away, she is now adjusting to post-graduate life and adulthood. Still easing into the routine of a 40-hour workweek with a commute and working on finding her next steps with home as a landing base, she’s found the adjustment to this new phase of life to be simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting. My middle son has never been a fan of transitions and change. When we

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moved to the Bay Area from Seattle during his first grade year, I vividly remember him in our Seattle dining room wrapping his arms and legs around our kitchen table bench like a monkey and saying, “I’M NOT GOING!” Fortunately, he survived that transition, and now he is at an age where he is in charge of his own changes. He recently moved back to his old college town of Santa Barbara and has been transitioning back to the familiar lifestyle he grew to love during his college years. My oldest son has been living in the South Bay for the past five years, and he is also not without his own transitions. After working for various tech companies in technical roles, he found his passion in technology sales for a startup. Finding the right product to sell and the right company culture is difficult though, and he has found himself in the position of being the new member on the team multiple times. In less than 10 years smartphones like the iPhone have changed the landscape of communication and entertainment. Like many families, we noticed our land-line home phone had fallen into disuse, morphing from a family utility to becoming popular only with telephone solicitors. As our use of cell phones for communicating has become the norm, we decided it was time to cut the cord, and we let the family “home” phone number go. We had no idea how attached our kids were to the institution of our “Home” phone number, and we had some sad (adult) kids as a result. My brother-in-law related a similar story with his 40 year old “kid” as well. Completing the transition from one generation of telephony to the next was a painful but necessary step. Our kids and extended family friends will all be descending upon the home of their childhood for the holidays and staying for various periods of time. We will celebrate the changes in their lives in our special and familiar ways with lots of good food, good company, board games, and our pets surrounding us. We’ll know that no matter where we are and they are in life, and no matter what the front yard looks like, things like family are our foundation and what is important to us. Come the new year our newspapers are ready for their own change and transition. Be on the lookout for our new logo, new masthead, and new website! It is something long in the works and a transition and change I am excited to share with all of you. I hope your holidays are calm, joyous, and fulfilling.

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Bikes Wanted and Helpers Needed!

The 15 Annual Adopt A Family Bike (AAFB) program is being held at the old Richard’s location located at 225-A Alamo Plaza, Alamo. Please donate any bikes that have been outgrown or no longer used. Bikes will be cleaned, have safety checks and minor repairs made, and then be distributed to local non-profit organizations. Bike donations will be accepted the evening of December 2, and December 3 and 4 from 10AM to 4PM. Financial donations to help cover cost of helmets, parts, and locks is also greatly appreciated. Please make any donation checks payable to St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church of Danville. In addition, volunteers are also needed to help clean and repair bicycles - no experience is needed. Stop by for an hour or two, or stay all day! To see the schedule, visit or email AAFB was formed in 2002 at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Danville. Parishioners found that Adopt-a-Family wish lists from Monument Crisis Center clients often included a request for bikes as a means of transportation. In the first year, 2002, 45 bikes were refurbished and donated. In 2013, 389 bikes were distributed, reaching a new annual record! To date, over 3,100 bikes have been refurbished and donated. The bikes are a daily necessity for the majority of the recipients because many cannot afford bus fare to get to school, work, or appointments.The joy in a child’s eyes and the gratitude from an adult recipient are immense. The bikes make a HUGE difference in their lives, and there’s always a need. th

Assistance League of Diablo Valley Schedules Prospective Member Coffee

Since 1967, Assistance League® of Diablo Valley, a nonprofit member volunteer organization, has improved lives in our community through hands -on programs. You might have heard of its primary fundraiser, the Assistance League Way Side Inn Thrift Shop, a well-known landmark located at 3521 Golden Gate Way in Lafayette. In response to the needs of our client base, Assistance League of Diablo Valley is reaching out to those of you who would enjoy clothing elementary schoolchildren for a more successful educational experience, performing educational puppet shows for schoolchildren, reading to second grade students, or helping in providing emergency clothing, food, and supplies to those in crisis. Two recently formed philanthropic programs concern implementing art in the classroom and staffing the Listen Program which helps identified students with verbal expression. Two other programs the group supports address the needs of our seniors. If you are interested in spending quality time and meeting energetic and upbeat people while helping those who are vulnerable, please phone 925-9340901 to inquire about a Prospective Member Coffee scheduled for early January. For more information, please visit

Alamo-Danville Newcomers Club

Are you new to the area or a long time resident, newly retired, or an empty nester interested in making new friends and participating in various social activities? The Alamo-Danville Newcomers Club is a women’s organization whose purpose is to enrich the lives of all its members and their families in a social manner. Check out all our club has to offer by visiting The next new member Alamo-Danville Newcomers Welcome Wine and Cheese event will be held December 9th from 6:30PM to 8:30PM. RSVP to

Alamo Today ~ December 2016 - Page 5

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Jean Paul Gaultier Necklace For Swarovski $199.99 at FREE Gift Wrap Walnut Creek, Broadway Plaza Danville, The Livery

New Art Exhibit and Opening Reception at Blackhawk Gallery

Alamo Danville Artists’ Society (ADAS) will host the opening of Blackhawk Gallery’s new exhibit ‘Transitions.’ Gala Reception will be held on Saturday, December 3 from 5 to 7PM with wine and hors d’oeuvre. The exhibit will be on view seven days a week from December 2 to February 5, 2017. The reception and exhibit are free and open to the public. The ‘Transitions’ exhibit features one guest artist and forty-one member artists. Guest artist Jeff Kent will be showing his hand-crafted cribbage and chess boards. Members’ artworks include paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, photographs, and wearable art. The exhibit is curated by Debby Koonce, Kerima Swain, and Beverly Turner. Blackhawk Gallery is located at 3416 Blackhawk Plaza Circle in Danville, in the Blackhawk Plaza. Gallery hours are Monday-Saturday 10AM-8PM and Sunday 11AM6PM. Holiday hours are December 24 10AM-5PM, December 25 closed, New Year’s Eve 10AM-5PM, and New Year’s Day closed. Founded in 1977, ADAS is a non-profit corporation supporting local artists and providing monetary contribution in support of art programs in the San Ramon Valley School District. Gallery artists donate a percentage of their sales to support the Art in the Schools Program. For additional information, call (925) 648-8023, or visit the ADAS website at or the gallery website at www. ADAS’s Facebook page can be found at Oil on Canvas by Tom Lemmer - Blackhawk Gallery Artist

Eugene O’Neill Foundation Announces Playwrights’ Theater Event for January

3 xO’Neill 5 ColorFoundation ad The Eugene in Danville begins the new year with a Playwrights’ Theater presentation of Eugene O’Neill’s play, Dynamo. The 155for Saturday, January 7 at 8PM and Sunday, January 8 at 2PM at the Museum of the San Ramon Valley, 205 Railroad Avenue staged readingAlamo is planned 180 for the presentation are available online at or by phone at (925) 820-1818. in downtownLafayette Danville. Tickets Danville 190 When thinking about the plays of Eugene O’Neill, the only American playwright to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, it is usually his most popular plays that come to mind: A Long Days Journey into Night, The Iceman Cometh, or A Touch of the Poet. All these later works by the playwright were written while he and his wife Carlotta lived at Tao House in the Danville hills from 1937-1944. “Many of O’Neill’s earlier plays deserve attention because they help us to see how the writer grew and made changes to American drama that literally changed theater in America,” says Eric Fraisher Hayes, manager of artistic programs for the O’Neill Foundation. “Dynamo is an excellent follow up to The Emperor Jones, which the Eugene O’Neill Foundation produced in September at the O’Neill National Historic Site in Danville. In Dynamo, O’Neill utilizes multiple expressionistic devises to help the audience delve deeper into the truths of the characters,” says director Hayes. Dynamo focuses on Ruben Light who feels betrayed by his religion and his family. He searches to make sense of the world and strikes upon the belief that electricity is really the god that governs his life. Light sees the awesome power of the Dynamo as a replacement for all that he has lost in life. “O’Neill’s dramatic tale of a desperately seeking young man is a powerful, and seldom produced gem. Dynamo is part ‘Days of Our Lives,’ part ‘Hollywood Squares,’ and part Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho,” says director Hayes. Dynamo was first produced in 1929 at the Provincetown Playhouse in Greenwich Village. It came at a time when Eugene O’Neill had already gained notable recognition. By 1929, he had already received three Pulitzer Prizes for his early works -- Beyond the Horizon (1920), Anna Christie (1922), and Strange Interlude (1928). Dynamo is a component of the annualWalnut Play- Creek, Broadway Plaza wrights’ Theater series by the Eugene O’Neill Foundation, with staged readings in January and May of O’Neill’s early plays, and works by playwrights influenced by O’Neill. The Eugene O’Neill Foundation is a not-forprofit organization that works closely with the National Park Service in coordinating educational, community, and performance programs at the Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site in Danville and at locations in downtown Danville. Information on the programs of the Foundation is available at

December 2016

Homemade Holiday Workshop

Alamo Today ~ December 2016 - Page 7

The Town of Danville is offering a workshop designed to help tweens create lovely handmade, crafty holiday gifts on December 8. Participants between the ages of 8 and 12 years old will get into the holiday spirit by creating personalized gifts for their friends and family at this fun craft workshop. Parents are welcome to stay and craft with their child throughout the event. Tweens will also have the chance to package their crafts at the giftwrapping station. In addition to holiday crafts and good cheer, refreshments will be served. Pre-registration is required at www.danvillerecguide. com using activity code #10349. Homemade Holiday will be held from 4PM to 5:30PM at the Danville Community Center, 420 Front St. For more information, contact the Danville Community Center at (925) 314-3400 or email

Diablo Choral Artists Presents Christmas Pudding

Diablo Choral Artists Presents Christmas Pudding, a concert of traditional English songs featuring works by Rutter, Tavener, Vaughan Williams, Byrd, Holst, and more. The concerts feature a Christmas carol sing-along. Shows will be held Friday, December 2 at 8pm, at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, located at 66 St. Stephen’s Drive, Orinda, and on Sunday, December 4 at 3pm, at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 1601 Mary Drive, Pleasant Hill. For tickets or information, visit or call 925-680-7089.

BRW Christmas Luncheon

The Blackhawk Republican Women (BRW) cordially invite you to a purely social event, their annual Christmas Luncheon featuring the United States Marines collecting Toys for Tots, music by the Devil Mountain Chorus, and the installation of Officers for 2017. The luncheon will take place on Thursday, December 8 at the Blackhawk Country Club with check-in and social starting at 11:30AM and the luncheon and program beginning at noon. The cost is $30. Everyone is welcome. Please bring unwrapped gifts for ages 6 month through 12 years of age for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation. Entertaining the attendees will be the Devil Mountain Chorus, champions of the Northwest Division of the Barbershop Harmony Society for the last two years. Please make your reservations by e-mailing or calling Jane Parish at or (925) 216-6663, then mailing a check made payable to “Blackhawk Republican Women” to her at 366 Jacaranda Drive, Danville 945062125 to arrive by Monday, December 5th.

Alamo School Field Moratorium

After a busy season of baseball, soccer and other field sports, it is the time of year to let sports fields rest. The Alamo Elementary School Field will be closed for turf maintenance December 1 through February 28, 2017. Field moratoriums are necessary in order to give maintenance crews the opportunity to conduct routine maintenance on the fields by aerating, re-seeding, and giving the turf time to rest, heal, and grow in preparation for 2017 spring activities. For more information, contact Victoria Skerritt at Contra Costa County Public Works at (925) 313-2272 or e-mail

Volunteer with AARP Tax-Aide for 2017 Tax Season

Do you like working with people? Are you good with numbers? Contra Costa County AARP Tax-Aide is looking for volunteers to become members of a team providing free tax preparation for individuals of all ages. Tax-Aide volunteer positions include Tax Counselors who are trained by TaxAide and certified by IRS, and Client Facilitators, who schedule appointments and assist clients at tax sites. Orientation is in November 2016, and classes for tax counselors start in January 2017. Service is from February through April 15, 2017. If you are interested, apply online at or call LaVerne Gordon at (925) 726-3199 for additional information.

Contra Costa Housing Security Fund

The Contra Costa County Council on homelessness has developed the Contra Costa Housing Security Fund to accelerate the availability of “affordable housing” for rent-ready clients who could pay monthly rents but who are homeless due to lack of savings for “entry fees,” etc. This program seeks to help seniors, veterans, and families get back into housing. Currently donations are being accepted to provide willing landlords with financial assistance and assurance for rent-ready clients. Funds raised go into the “Housing security Fund” which is administered by a 501(c)3 and are tax deductible. Funding for the program is dependent on community and individual donations and it is not funded by the county. The goal is to raise $50,000 by the end of 2016. To find out more, visit the Housing Security Fund Crowdfunding Page at

Treats for the Troops

Thank you to all of our supporters! Service group Delta Nu Psi will again be collecting “gourmet junk food” to send to our servicemen and women in Afghanistan. Delta Nu Psi will continue sending packages as long as American military members are in the War Zone. Much of the food sent is not normally available to the troops. Collections will be held at CVS in Alamo on Friday, December 2 and at Lunardi’s in Danville on Friday, December 9. Both collections will take place from 11:30AM to 1:30PM. Please come to either store, and shop for our service personal. For more information, visit Money for postage is also always appreciated. Please help Delta Nu Psi provide our men and women in the War Zone with a touch of home.

Sons in Retirement San Ramon Valley

Looking for things to do in your retirement? Consider joining Sons in Retirement San Ramon Valley Branch 128. The group has monthly luncheons with interesting speakers and good fellowship. Additionally, members have lots of fun participating in a variety of activities such as golf, tennis, bowling, bocce ball, movies, bridge, reading, computers, and much more. Many other activities such as travel, dine outs, excursions, baseball games and holiday parties include spouses, friends and guests. The next monthly luncheon will be held on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 11am. At that time, the guest speaker will be Alex Coate, General Manager of EBMUD. Admission is $23 which includes luncheon, guest speaker, and a great opportunity to socialize with at least 150 other retirees from the San Ramon Valley. To reserve a space, please email info@SIR128. com by Thursday, January 12th. Please note that meetings now take place at The Bridges Golf Club, 9000 S. Gale Ridge Rd, San Ramon. For more information about this retirement branch and activities, please visit

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More Foster and Resource Families Needed

By Supervisor Candace Andersen, Contra Costa County, District 2

Youth living in our community need your help. Contra Costa County’s Children and Family Services staff has been busy preparing to implement changes to our child welfare services program resulting from the passage of AB 403, Continuum of Care Reform. The Continuum of Care Reform draws together a series of existing and new reforms for our child welfare services program, designed out of an understanding that children who must live apart from their biological parents do best when they are cared for in committed, nurturing, family homes. The goal is to ensure that youth in foster care have their dayto-day physical, mental, and emotional needs met; that they have the greatest chance to grow up in permanent and supportive homes; and that they have the opportunity to grow into self-sufficient, successful adults. Contra Costa County (CCC) has been planning for the January 1, 2017 implementation of Resource Family Approval (RFA) for the past 12 months. RFA is an important shift in the way that Children and Family Services approves caregivers as it supports placement with families that can provide a lifelong connection by determining permanency approval up-front. Over the past year, Children and Family Services has also developed new strategies and a renewed focus on recruiting and retaining quality non-relative and relative resource families. In CCC we have approximately 1,100 children currently in foster care. Children who are separated from their families are often placed in foster homes. We have a great need for resource families who are willing to provide emergency, temporary, or long-term care for our youth. It is best for children to be able to stay in their own communities, remain in their same schools, continue to play on their same sports teams, stay connected to their same faith-based organizations, and see their same doctors. Sadly, there is a critical need for homes for youth of all ages, 0-18. Children are waiting to be nurtured and cared for by families in our community. Please consider becoming a foster or resource family in CCC. There are some very basic requirements to become a resource family: • You must be over 18 years old • You must reside in CCC • You may be married or single • You can work outside of your home • You can live in an apartment or house • You must have adequate space and meet the State health and safety standards • You must have sufficient income to meet your own family’s financial needs • You must have a desire to help and care for a child in our County. When someone chooses to be a resource family, they become an important member of a team of professionals who are dedicated to the welfare of children in their care. Each child placed will have a social worker. Social workers play a key role in the foster child’s life and are readily available to assist resource families in their efforts. In addition to coordinating birth parent visits, court appearances, and therapeutic services, social workers are oftentimes a resource family’s link to a variety of resources. Additionally, there are groups such as the Foster Family Network (FFN). The FFN is a chapter of the California State Foster Parent Association, Inc., with the goals

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Lost Dog!


If you find her and your name is drawn!

Alamo Zoe is Missing

Alamo Zoe has become lost in this paper... Search through Alamo Today and see if you can find her! She is very small, so you will have to look hard if you want to find her.

To be eligible send a letter telling us where you found her, along with your name and address, to: Lost Dog! ~ Alamo Today 3000F Danville Blvd #117 • Alamo, CA 94507

Kyle Toy is our winner!

Alamo Elementary School By Stan Hitomi, Principal

It is a common practice to highlight our many incredible volunteers in this monthly column. At Alamo we recognize how extraordinarily fortunate we are to have so many volunteers at our school. As you would expect, we have a top notch PTA and Edfund, as well as large numbers of parents volunteering in the library, garden, chorus and band, at recess/lunch, and in our classrooms. Most of our volunteers are parents, relatives, staff, or students that are currently at Alamo School. But this month I want to spotlight a very unique group of individuals who no longer have an explicit connection to our school but continue to volunteer...sometimes long after they or their children have left Alamo School. Elaine McClintic’s two children attended Alamo School starting in 1990. While they were at Alamo, Elaine served on the PTA in a variety of roles. She helped to create Alamo’s first Career Day and our first Family Science Night, and she served on the Site Council for several years. Elaine’s children have long since left Alamo School, but she continues to be a familiar face on campus. For the past six years Elaine has been a volunteer in our Science Lab. Having a background in science, she shares her enthusiasm for science with all of our students. Holly Warburton has been the beloved percussion accompanist for the Alamo School Chorus since 2006, when her daughters were singers in the Chorus. She has volunteered her time and “rocked out” for us on her drums for the past 10 years, continuing long after her girls graduated from Alamo in 2009. Having her live percussion instruments in our concerts and performances really makes the music come alive. Alamo School is so blessed to have Holly sharing her talents and passion with us! Our volunteers are not limited to adults. Nick, Lauren, and Jake Furman are members of a family that attended Alamo School in the 2000’s and 2010’s. All three of them have returned to Alamo School, as they continued in middle and high school, to provide 1:1 tutoring for 4th and 5th grade students in math before school. They have served as positive role models in both academics and leadership for Alamo students. In addition, they collect end-of-year school supplies and spend the summer refurbishing them for low-income students, creating back-to-school packages that benefit students and teachers in disadvantaged communities. Olivia Romo (Alamo School class of 2015) is our youngest volunteer. Olivia takes Spark PE at Stone Valley Middle School starting at 7:15AM every day, and with the block schedule at Stone Valley she is out of school at 12:40PM on Thursdays. She comes to Alamo on Thursdays at 2PM and stays until the end of the day. Last year she volunteered in 2nd grade and sometimes worked one-on-one with students who had work to complete, provided general help/answered questions as students worked at their desks, helped with rehearsals for the class play, and did prep work. This year Olivia works with kindergartners and helps them while they’re at music - keeping the kids on task, helping with instruments, and providing an extra pair of hands and set of eyes as they learn. We are so lucky to be surrounded by a community that continues to support our school, long after the official ties have ended. This is another reminder that “Once you become a part of Alamo School, Alamo School will always be a part of you.” Go Mustangs!

The Holiday Season

The Holiday Season at Alamo School means that our hallways will be filled with the sounds of music. We look forward to our annual traditions, including our Winter Concert, the Alamo Tree Lighting Ceremony, and chimes at our PTA Holiday Luncheon. This year we will also be able to hear our chorus sing at Alamo Plaza and the Livery & Mercantile on December 10th. In addition, the chorus and advanced strings will be performing at the SRVUSD district office on December 21st. The Holiday Season is also the season of giving, and our PTA will be holding their annual Adopt-A-Family Program for our Sister School, Lake Elementary. The drive is being led by Jill Newcomer, a parent who graduated last year but is returning to fill the vacancy to lead the program. Kudos to Jill!

Alamo Today ~ December 2016 - Page 9

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Rancho Romero Elementary School By Skye Larsh-Faraghan, Principal

We have entered the holiday season. Schools were closed during the week of Thanksgiving. Now, we have just a short time before the longer Winter Break. I wish for our children to embrace the magic of the season. One step we can all take is to appreciate the incredible diversity that exists right here at Rancho related to interfaith, customs, and traditions. Our children want to be included, to be understood, and to understand. Through December and January, Rancho families will rejoice in a variety of holidays: Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Shi’a, and Pagan to name a few. Since 2013, one of our key district initiatives has been Culturally and Linguistically Responsive (CLR) teaching and learning. The goal is to support and encourage all students to become more engaged in their learning and to feel connected and included in the educational environment. In December teachers will deepen scientific knowledge in the area of how boys learn and brain-based connections along with strategies that validate, affirm, build and bridge home culture with school culture, whether in terms of gender, religion, nationality, or ethnic background. These conversations and inquiries help us understand different cultural aspects and how they intersect with stereotypes, unconscious biases, and judgements. With understanding comes improved support for our students and a safe place for all. Another area of emphasis is the FAIR Education Act. Fair, accurate, inclusive and respectful treatment of all persons is a law. Senate Bill 48, FAIR Education Act, is a California law which compels the inclusion of political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities; as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people into educational textbooks, literature, and the social studies curricula. Many age appropriate titles are currently available in the Rancho Romero library. A school library committee comprised of parents, teachers, and library/media specialists are in the process of adding additional books, digital resources, and lesson plans. On behalf of Rancho Romero, we look forward to bringing together our

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beautiful and culturally diverse community. Below are messages from very diverse human beings from around the world. “All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness. The important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.” ~ The Dalai Lama “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” ~ Desmond Tutu “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” ~ Mother Teresa “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.” ~ Carl Sagan “The mind is everything. What you think, you become.” ~ Buddha I wish all of you a merry and bright holiday season.

Stone Valley Middle School By Jon Campopiano, Principal

Thank you for rising up and showing our PRIDE with the Run For Education event. Last school year we had 81 families participate and had the lowest participation rate of all SRVUSD Middle Schools. This year, beginning with our assembly at Back-toSchool Night we proclaimed that we would “go for it” and make a huge statement in regard to participation rate. Led by parent volunteer Danielle John, we exceeded all expectations and rose to the highest participation rate of ALL middle schools and high schools in the entire district! Over 65% of our families, over 400 runners, participated along with our mascot Larry the Lion and our band led by Mr. Loomer. Not only did we have a ton of fun, but we were awarded over $6,500 that we have used to purchase classroom chrome books for our students. Thank you again for showing the spirit and PRIDE of our campus culture. Our school Ed Fund and PTA met this month with the SRVUSD Director of Facilities, Daniel Hillman, to get an update on the status of our school improvement projects. The bid process is broken into different categories of work. At this

See Stone Valley continued on page 10

Page 10 - December 2016 ~ Alamo Today

Monte Vista High School By Dr. Kevin Ahern, Principal

Autumn is completely upon us, and Monte Vista’s students and faculty are looking forward to a welldeserved Thanksgiving Break. There are literally dozens of activities going on at our campus this time of year with academics being the major focus as our seniors finalize and submit their college applications, take one more crack at the SAT or ACT test, and keep focused on their present courses and activities. Some seniors have already made an early decision, and with that Monte Vista honored eight student-athletes from the Class of 2017 at our annual Early Signing Ceremony. These MV students signed National Letters of Intent in baseball, cross country, golf, softball, and swimming to compete at Hawaii Pacific, Santa Clara, St. Mary’s, San Diego, UC Berkeley, and UCLA. The Monte Vista community is proud of the accomplishments of its student-athletes, and we look forward to more signings as well as other accomplishments as the school year unfolds. Monte Vista’s Visual and Performing Arts Departments continue to dazzle us with a wide variety of amazing performances while earning high accolades in the process. MV’s Dance program, led by director Sue Gordon, performed to three sold-out audiences over the first week of November. The following week, our Drama Department performed Look Homeward, Angel to three packed houses, as well. Not to be outdone, Monte Vista’s Marching Band took first place at the Napa Field Show on November 12th. Monte Vista’s Concert Band will perform two holiday concerts on December 7th and 9th at 7PM in the MV’s Al Gentile Theater. And we can’t forget MV’s nationally recognized Choir Program, which will be offering three holiday performances on December 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the Al Gentile Theater at 7PM. Please check the Monte Vista website for tickets and more information. Monte Vista Athletics have been on a roll the past few weeks, earning EBAL Championships in Football, Women’s Tennis, and Women’s Volleyball. For MV’s Tennis and Volleyball teams, this year’s banners represented EBAL Championship three-peats. Our young women in both sports took things further recently by claiming their third consecutive NCS Titles: Tennis defeating Amador Valley 4-3 and Volleyball defeating Redwood 3-1. Both teams are now preparing for the CIF-State playoffs. Football continued its march towards an NCS title by soundly defeating Irvington, 52-0 in the first round of the playoffs. This win came on the heels of a 9-1 regular season where the Mustangs concluded their season with a 32 – 20 victory over rivals San Ramon Valley before dropping a tough game to nationally ranked De La Salle in week #10. The Mustangs then faced the Heritage Patriots on November 18th with the winner stamping a ticket to the Division I NCS Championship Game. Not to be outdone, Monte Vista’s Women’s Golf, Men’s Water Polo, and Women’s Water Polo all had excellent seasons in the EBAL and qualified for the North Coast Section post-season. In addition, MV’s Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams were poised to defend their NCS Titles on November 19th in Hayward. The highlights of the past couple weeks have been amazing, and as always, we are honored and humbled by the recognitions earned by MV’s scholars, artists, and athletes. We invite everyone from the Monte Vista community to come support the Mustangs as we vie for even higher aspirations.

Volunteers Needed

White Pony Express (WPE) is a nonprofit group dedicated to helping to end hunger and poverty in Contra Costa County. The program has been so well received that additional volunteers are urgently needed to help keep up with its rapid growth. The need in our communities remains great. Seven days a week, WPE Food Rescue volunteers take trucks to supermarkets, restaurants, and farmers markets where they pick up thousands of pounds of surplus food—high quality, nourishing food (fresh meats, dairy, eggs, deli, baked goods). Most all of this food is distributed to those in need within two hours of the donation. In its first two and half years, WPE delivered more than 3,000,000 pounds of food (equivalent to 2,500,000 meals) that the hungry would have gone without. Also, in addition to rescuing food, WPE collects donations of new or likenew clothing, shoes, toys, games, and books. More than 250,000 of these items have been distributed to those in need in the past two years—all free of charge, through WPE’s unique “Mobile Boutiques” and its Direct Distribution program. Interested volunteers please contact Mandy Nakaya at 925-818-6361 or mandy@ For more information, visit

San Ramon Valley High School By Ruth Steele, Principal

The holidays are finally here, and before we know it the first semester will be over! There are many different events happening in December. The best place to keep up with everything going on at SRVHS is on the “SRV Weekly” button in the middle of our website. You can also follow me at “principal@ SRVHS” or the Wolfpack at “WERSR” on Twitter. Our weekly bulletin is also archived under that tab. If you are looking for Christmas gifts, don’t forget about our Winter Boutique on December 10th. This is a sophomore class fundraiser and a great way to find some fun and affordable gifts for family and friends. One of our current projects is assessing how well our new bell schedule is working. Anecdotally, our students seem to really appreciate getting some extra sleep during the week and having time during Access to get caught up in homework or to get help from teachers, but we need to gather data to see whether there are any adjustments that we need to make for next year. We are in the process of designing surveys for parents, staff, and students to see whether the schedule changes have achieved our goals: lowering stress, helping all students to get the help they need, and giving everyone some time back during the school day. These surveys will be going out in January. Finally, this has been a difficult fall in terms of the election campaign and the associated media coverage both before and since the election in November. There is no doubt that when there is so much negativity (from all groups) on the news and on social media that we see an impact on our campuses. Over the last couple of months there have been incidents on many campuses that can be tied back to the current political climate and associated media coverage. This presents a great opportunity for us to remind our students that regardless of someone’s political, religious or personal opinions, no-one deserves to be attacked or harassed. Our children struggle to make smart choices on social media to begin with, and watching how celebrities, politicians, and athletes behave online is not helping! We have been collecting resources on our website as we run our December assemblies on digital citizenship, and some of these might be useful in supporting discussions within families about how to keep social media more positive. Please check out our resources button at the top of the website if this is something that you are working on at home. Our children need as much positive guidance and support as possible to help them navigate both their evolving personal and social world. It is not something that they can figure out by themselves.

Stone Valley continued from page 9

time, the SRVUSD school board has approved the bids for the fire sprinkler system and plumbing. Work has begun in those areas. During the rest of November, the facilities department began reviewing bids for the final portions of the project. The SRVUSD school board will receive recommendations on the current bids at the December 6th Board Meeting. At this meeting, if there is an acceptance and recommendation to approve the bids, work will begin right away. Please visit for ongoing updates about our building project. We all know how busy the holiday season is, and it is no different on campus. Here are some of the great activities that occurred on campus during November. • Our student leadership class participated in a student led conference at Cal High School focused on building positive, kind, and empathetic relationships. Our leaders came back to Stone Valley with many new and exciting ideas. • Our School Site Council met and reviewed our school and district goals. • Our newly formed “Kindness Team” met to begin intentionally planning school and community events to promote positive relationships. • Our PTA sponsored a parent education night focused on digital safety, “Cyberstrong.” • Officer Topete of the Sheriffs department met with our 7th graders and presented on the need to make positive decisions with social media and build a safe digital footprint. • Students and staff participated in the Special Olympics event at Ygnacio Valley High School and played soccer with passion, spirit, and teamwork. • Our 8th grade WEB (Where Everyone Belongs) and teachers hosted a “Scary Movie Night” for our 6th graders. It was a night filled with food, games, movies, and positive relationships. Thank you for your ongoing support of Stone Valley Middle School. I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season.

Alamo Today ~ December 2016 - Page 11

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Page 12 - December 2016 ~ Alamo Today

Quick Trips

Moss Beach By Linda Summers Pirkle

We all know the Bay Area is a treasure. We are lucky to have wonderful places to hike with walking and biking paths in our many preserved spaces and perfect weather to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Our cultural activities rival any other place in the world. San Francisco is still the most beloved city by just about everyone. There are indeed many choices of things to do for the resident and visitors to the Bay Area. But, where do you go when life gets a bit overwhelming? For me, the beach is the destination of choice when I’m feeling blue. Ever since I was in high school, whenever I wanted to “get away from it all,” my favorite destination has been a beach. Being the Northern California native that I am, a beach experience is not like one in SoCal with the relentless sun and white sand. Beach time San Francisco style is SO much better: steep and rocky cliffs overlooking the ocean and cool, damp weather. I feel renewed when I hear the thunder of waves crashing and feel the blanket of fog around me. On a recent cool November day, my husband and I set out for an early morning quest for restoration to Moss Beach, located 20 miles south of San Francisco. The James V. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve near Moss Beach, established in 1969, is a Marine Protected Area and home to hundreds of marine species. On our recent visit, we arrived at low tide (check the Visitor’s Center’s tide chart to see if the tide dips below 1.0’) and watched four kids enjoying the tide pools and following the rules to tread carefully and not disturb or remove anything from the beach. Anemones, barnacles, mussels, algae, sea stars, crabs, and sea urchins are some of the creatures that can be found. I have to admit, tide pools are interesting, but I was captivated by the fat and happy harbor seals we saw resting on the beach. There must have been at least 50 of these creatures stretching and sleeping on the shore. Looking out to the sea, we also saw the sleek seals bobbing up and down on their way out to find food and hopefully not become food for their predators. If you don’t want to hike down the steps and cross the little creek (it can be

slippery) to get on the beach, there is a strategically placed bench located just a few minutes walk from the parking lot. Known as the “bench with a view,” this is a perfect perch to watch, listen, and repair. Moss Beach Distillery, located up the road from the reserve, is a great place to enjoy more great views along with delicious food. The restaurant is a historical landmark and has a colorful history. Built in 1927, “Frank’s Place,” as it was called in the day, was one of the most successful speakeasies of the era. James V. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is located at 200 Nevada Avenue, Moss Beach. Their website is Call (650)363-4021 for reservations for tours and groups of 10 or more. The Friends of Fitzgerald Marine Reserve (FFMR) is looking for participants to join their 2017 FFMR team. The Volunteer Training Class consists of 10 Saturday classes plus six additional hours spent at the reserve with a mentor. Classes are held on the coast side near the reserve and at the reserve. For more about the FFMR volunteer naturalist training class, email Susan Evans at from December 1 to January 7. Moss Beach Distillery is located at 140 Beach Way, Moss Beach. Their phone number is (650)728-5595. Linda Summers Pirkle, travel consultant and long term Danville resident, has arranged and led tours for the Town of Danville for several years. Inspired by the many wonderful places to visit in the Bay Area, she organizes day trips, either for groups or for friends and family. “What a great place to live, so much to see, so much to do.” To share your “Quick Trips” ideas, email Coverthemap@ California coastline from a “bench with a view” at James V. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve near Moss Beach.

Croatia - A Beautiful Discovery By Audrey Combs

It is difficult not to love Croatia, particularly if you like the color blue. Blue sea, blue sky, and blue textiles: there is no end to the breadth of the blue Croatia has to offer, nor the depth of its hospitality. If one is looking for towering white sandstone walls and beautifully crafted marble facades, which speak to the long history of conflict and conquest between the Ottoman Empire, the ancient maritime power struggles with the Venetians, and the modern history of the Balkan Wars, look no further. Well-developed for tourists of all backgrounds, pocket books and interests, Croatia has it all. After all, the makers of Game of Thrones chose to film here for good reason. Dubrovnik is a highlight not to be missed. Located in the south of the country just 30 miles from neighboring Montenegro, its 9th-14th century walls are brimming with lush ferns, hidden cafes and bars, and beautiful modern art galleries. An afternoon in exploration of so many hidden gems is truly enchanting. Spend an hour or two walking along the wide avenue on top of the medieval wall surrounding the fortress, and gaze from hundreds of feet above into the teaming center of town to one side and the stunning Adriatic Sea to the other. Enjoy a local olive oil tasting, or try many of the delicious Croatian wines in one of the many small shops specializing in local artisanal products. Heading up the coast to Split lies another Adriatic gem. The impressive undercurrent of thriving local businesses and de mode young people amongst the walls of the thriving old town sets the tone for a modern stay in an ancient city. The gastronomy of the city is particularly impressive

Christmas Cheer By Monica Chappell

For hundreds of years people have pontificated about wine. From famous artists and politicians to anonymous writings that capture the meaning of wine, here are some of my favorite holiday themed wine quotes. Raise a glass and read on! • I’m dreaming of a wine Christmas. • I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, but if the white runs out, I’ll drink the red. The weather outside is frightful, but the wine is so delightful. As long as we have wine, the holidays will

• • be fine. • All I want for Christmas is WINE. • It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full. There is clearly room for more wine. • Home is where the wine is. • Dear Santa, Please bring me tons and tons of more wine so I will be jolly and merry all year. • Save water drink wine. • Life is what happens between coffee and wine. • People who say I am hard to shop for clearly don’t know where to buy wine. • If anyone asks, I’m drinking all this wine to collect corks for a Pinterest project. Enjoy the holiday season. Cheers! Monica Chappell teaches and writes about wine in the East Bay – . To place an ad, share a story, or for more information about our papers, call 925.405.6397 or visit our website

Alamo Today ~ December 2016 - Page 13 with a range of cuisine from the typical Dalmatian fair of grilled fish and stewed potatoes with chard to fusion Spanish-Japanese ramen. Like Dubrovnik, the setting of the old sandstone walls with live guitar echoing in the plazas cannot be beat. The ferry ride to Hvar Island from Split is 90 minutes through beautiful blue channels between the countless islands of the Dalmatian Coast. The many regular visitors to Hvar include Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Tom Cruise, and for good reason. A playground for celebrities and locals alike, Adriatic aquamarine is the perfect backdrop for a refreshing Aperol Spritz while admiring some of the most impressive yachts in the world tied to its shores. With a long history with the Venetians, the Italian food here is not to be missed, nor the local cured olives. Truly, Croatia is a country with endless secret coves and hidden beaches to explore. After a day spent in the 75-degree salty sea, start an evening with a perfectly crisp glass of white wine and award-winning Ston oysters followed by more of the day’s catch and a variety of desserts. The good news is that most people have not caught on to this amazing and relatively unknown travel destination. The bad news is that Croatia has too much to offer for this to last long. Audrey Combs recently traveled to Croatia with her cousin Dayna and her aunt Ilene Ferguson, owner of Alamo World Travel. Alamo World Travel specializes in cruises, customized vacations, and tours worldwide. Allow them to help you plan the perfect vacation. For trip advice and planning, call (925) Advertorial 837-8742.

Got a Bucket List?


Vacation Showcase is back!

Please join us Tuesday, January 24th from 5:30 to 7:30pm at Crow Canyon Country Club Meet our favorite travel partners, enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres, receive special event discounts, and win prizes including our Grand Prize Drawing for round trip airfare to Hawaii for two! Please RSVP to 925-837-8742

Stop by our new office in the Alamo Courtyard 3195 Danville Blvd #4, Alamo

Page 14 - December 2016 ~ Alamo Today

Alamo Today ~ December 2016 - Page 15


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Page 16 - December 2016 ~ Alamo Today

The Care of Mature Trees By Blaine Brende & Joe Lamb

Entering my sixth decade, the gathering stiffness in my joints deepens my appreciation that living systems change as they age. Trees also change as they grow older, but, for trees and humans alike, how gracefully we flower in later life is not determined by genetics alone. Long life for humans is a relatively new phenomenon. Our Paleolithic ancestors seldom lived beyond 35 years of age, and they would, I imagine, marvel that the average American now lives to be 78. However, long life for trees is nothing new. Methuselah, a bristlecone pine growing in the Sierras, has attained the astounding age of 4,838 and is the oldest documented living organism on our planet. It lifts my heart to acknowledge that the pine nut, which grew to become Methuselah, sprouted its first needles 2,268 years before the birth of Buddha, 2,832 years before the birth of Jesus, and 3,402 years before the birth of Muhammad. To promote long life, reduce the stresses on your trees. The densely packed clay soils common to the East Bay produce many stresses. Compacted soils lack air spaces and inhibit the movement of oxygen. Clay soils are soggy when wet (which promotes root rot), but they are hard when dry (which promotes drought stress). Improving the porosity of the soil by mulching, aerating, and, sometimes, by radial trenching reduces the stress on your tree. Mulching is the easiest and

Gratitude Turns What we Have into Enough

By Cynthia Ruzzi, Sustainable Danville Area

With winter holiday decorations appearing long before autumn’s entry, it is difficult to stay focused on the purpose of one celebration before being thrown into another. In an effort to turn this to my advantage, I’ll use this mashing of holidays (Thankchristkahyeargiving) to pledge myself to 2017 resolutions before the last day of the year. Finding inspiration from the best of the holidays, my resolutions center around healthy choices for my family, home, and community–I hope you will find some that work for you and your family. 1. Gratitude turns what we have into enough. Before entering any store or ecommerce site, I will take a moment to be grateful. I will then ask three questions: Does this purchase truly fill a need? Is it the healthiest choice for my family and the environment? Am I using this purchase as a substitute for something else? 2. Go meatless more than once a week. Besides the health benefits of reduced cholesterol, 25% of the Earth’s surface is used to grow food for livestock, and 20% of greenhouse gases are produced by this food source–more than all modes of transportation. 3. Wash clothes in cold water. Only 10% of the energy used by a washing machine is for the motor while the other 90% of the energy is spent heating water. Following the advice on the label of my plant-derived laundry soap, I’ll use cold water to wash most of our clothes. 4. Make energy efficient home upgrades. Look for rebates and discounts for everything from window replacements to solar with PG&E SmartEnergy Analyzer. 5. Dim the lights. LED light bulbs may seem costly, but when you consider their lifespan verses a traditional bulb, it makes ‘cents.’ And now with dimmable LED lights, you can achieve the ambience you desire from dining room to bedroom. 6. Walk or bike instead of driving once a week. There’s decidedly more traffic on the roads in the Tri-Valley lately. Commit to replacing at least one two mile trip a week to travelling by foot or bike–perfect for an outing to breakfast, the library, or accompanying your children to school. 7. Buy half a dozen 12oz stainless water bottles. The smaller size makes it easier to stash in a bag or carry–and I’ve find plenty of places to fill throughout the day verses carrying a liter around. With a few extra bottles for the car, I’m sure to have water when I want it, without giving into an impulse purchase. 8. Use a real mug for coffee and tea. I don’t know anyone who thinks coffee tastes better from a plastic-coated paper cup, yet it is estimated that 14 million disposable cups are thrown away each year–enough to circle the

cheapest of these techniques. Two or three inches of quality mulch under the canopy of the tree, but not piled against the trunk, helps to keep the soil soft, moist, and cooler in the summer. Aerating aids soil porosity and reduces stress. To aerate the tree, use a deep root irrigator to drill many one-inch diameter holes to a depth of around 30 inches throughout the zone under the tree’s canopy. Pruning to remove dead and diseased branches reduces the stresses on the tree. Many fruit trees suffer from diseases, both fungal and bacterial, carried from flower to flower by pollinating insects. After entering through the flower, the infection spreads, usually slowly, down into the woody tissue. Pruning to a point below the spread of the disease increases the lifespan of the tree. As with humans, stresses can have cumulative effects. When pines are drought stressed, they are unable to make the sap they use to drown burrowing insects. Oaks suffering from oak root fungus have trouble taking up water and often suffer from drought stress. When planning elder care for your trees, several factors beg consideration: What is your emotional attachment to the tree? Is the tree a hazard? Will it become a hazard in the future, and, if so, when? What will it cost to maintain the tree? Will it attain ‘sabi,’ the beauty of aging, if given the correct care? I hope that as I grow older I accept Roethke’s challenge and ‘dare to blaze like a tree.’ If you wish to extend your tree’s lifespan please call 510-486-TREE (8733) or email us at for a free estimate. Additionally, go to our website to see before and after pictures, client testimonials, and work in your neighborhood. Advertorial Earth 55 times and weigh 900 million pounds. Most coffee shops will serve you in a real mug, or bring your own and add your own flair. 9. Eliminate toxins from your home and yard. Sixty-two toxic chemicals are found in the average home, and the EPA estimates that indoor air is 100 times more polluted than outdoor air. Convert wood fireplaces to gas, switch to green cleaning supplies, and watch out for ‘off gas-ing’ from new carpets, furniture, and paints. 10. Treat water like gold. Convert under-utilized grass patches to native and drought tolerant plants. Check drip systems and sprinklers for leaks, and water plants deeply instead of often–always choosing morning over afternoon and evening for watering times so water doesn’t evaporate in the heat of the day. 11. Eat an organic apple a day. What is old is new again. If it worked for our grandparents, then in most cases it should work for us. Don’t choice convenience over whole, unprocessed food that is better for you, your family, and the environment. 12. Signal and defer to those on your right. You’re not imaging things. There is more traffic on the roads in the Tri-Valley. I haven’t met a driver that can read another’s mind, so please remember to signal your attentions three seconds before changing lanes. When approaching a stop sign intersection about the same time as another car, always yield to the car on your right–it doesn’t matter that you stopped a second before; they have the right-of-way, and they’re your neighbor. From our house to yours, we wish you a joyful Thankchristkahyeargiving. Follow us at

Cinema Classics

Father’s Little Dividend By Peggy Horn

This month’s Cinema Classic recommendation is a sequel to last month’s selection, Father of the Bride. It is Father’s Little Dividend, (1951) starring the same principle stars as in the last movie, Spencer Tracy, as the father, Stanley Banks, Joan Bennett as the mother, Ellie Banks, Elizabeth Taylor as their daughter, Kay Dunstan, and Don Taylor as Kay’s husband, Buckley Dunstan. Once again the movie is directed by Vincente Minnelli and produced by Pandro S. Berman. The writers are Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, and Edward Streeter. This movie is just as sweet, funny, and well acted as the one that preceded it. In this one, Kay and Buckley are a married couple, settled in an apartment and carrying on with life. One evening they have a dinner party for their parents, and they announce that they are expecting a baby!

See Cinema continued on page 17

Life in the Alamo Garden

Alamo Today ~ December 2016 - Page 17

Autumn Color Ablaze in Alamo By John Montgomery, ASLA, Landscape Architect #4059

The autumn months of October, November, and December bring a joyful change to the gardens of Alamo. Autumn marks the change from the growing season to the cycle of rest and rejuvenation. As your plants prepare for a period of rest and rejuvenation, a whole new life cycle brings vibrant colors, scent, texture, and calmness to your garden. Creating garden environments that take advantage of the seasons enhance the all-year-around pleasure of your garden. Autumn is a wonderful time in a garden. Trees, shrubs, ground covers, and grasses bring a whole new dimension of color, scent, and texture as they prepare themselves to rest. As I work with my clients in creating their landscape, I think about how we can have the garden be active all year around. So I select a plant palette that takes advantage of the seasons. The characteristics that can be used in the palette include color, texture, structure, scent, and movement. A good all-year-around plant palette has a diverse mix of trees, shrubs, perennials, ground covers, and ornamental grasses. Color can be provided either by flower or leaf. Colorful trees like Nyssa Sylvatica (Sour Gum), Red Sunset Maple, and Chinese Pistache are vibrant as the evening snap of chill fills the air. Red-twig Dogwood or Sango Kaku Japanese Maple has vibrant bark color. As winter approaches, Autumn and Mexican Sage bloom profusely. Texture can be found in leaves, seeds, and bark. As plants prepare for rejuvenation during the winter, they begin a last spurt of growth, bloom, and seed head expenditure. Crape Myrtle wonderfully flowers and turns to spent seed heads and bark peel. Other shrubs bloom and seed in a last ditch effort to propagate. Structure is an element of design that can really be taken advantage of during the fall. Multi-branching trees and shrubs with intricate or bold branching can provide a dramatic accent that will add pizzazz to any garden. Multi-branching trees like Crape Myrtle, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo,’ and Buckeye can accent the drama of an autumn garden. As leaves drop and begin to expose the bold and intricate branching, new garden accents are created for new focal interest. Autumn is the time to take in the wonderful aromas your garden can create. The heat of our Indian summer brings the strong scent of California Bay, sage, rose, and forest floor. Often times you will see roses springing to bloom as fall daytime temperatures sore. Most sages bloom during autumn. I like to take advantage of deciduous trees and shrubs when they begin to drop their leaves. Besides the vibrant leaf colors, they can dapple the landscape floor, adding texture and scent as the leaves begin to decay. When the first rains of fall arrive, the aroma of the forest floor can fill the air. Autumn also brings soft warm nor-easterly breezes through Alamo. Movement is an element I like to take advantage of in your garden environment. Ornamental grasses such as red fountain grass, California fescue, and Morning Light Miscanthus are profuse by now with seed heads that gracefully sway and add gentle movement to your landscape. Perennials that are spent and dying back can also provide interesting movement if left uncut as they move into winter. Alamo’s unique climate allows for a long growing season yet brings forth a good autumn and winter for rejuvenation. Planning for seasonal change is an important aspect of my design philosophy. A hot tip from your local Landscape Architect: If you’re looking forward to installing your landscape project in the spring, fall and winter is a great time to start the design process for your garden so you’re ready to enjoy it next summer!

Gardening Quote of the Month: “I am rich today with autumn’s gold, All that my covetous hands can hold; Frost-painted leaves and goldenrod, A goldfinch on a milkweed pod; Huge golden pumpkins in the field, With heaps of corn from a bounteous yield; Golden apples heavy on the trees Rivaling those of Hesperides; Golden rays of balmy sunshine spread Over all like butter on warm bread; And the harvest moon will this night unfold The streams running full of molten gold. Oh, who could find a dearth of bliss, With autumn glory such as this!” ~Gladys Harp If you would like me to write on any particular subject, email your ideas to or for design ideas visit or www. Advertorial

Cinema continued from page 16

Everybody is thrilled with the idea except for Stanley. He just can’t figure out what exactly is annoying him about the prospective baby until he is slapped on the back accompanied by a hearty greeting of, “Grampa!” The ensuing movie provides the preparations being conducted for the upcoming birth, and it’s all very funny and all very real. After the baby is born, there is a clash between Stanley and the baby resulting in a barrier being raised between the two personalities. Stanley keeps a respectable distance from the little baby, but family intervenes. At the conclusion of the movie, I will be surprised if you’re not dabbing your eyes just a little…I know I did! This movie didn’t win any awards, but it is so good. The dialogue is humorous and clever, and the occurrences in the film are plausible. And all this laughter and fun can be yours. Happy viewing! Musical Notes – From the same era as the movie comes,Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook, (1957). Frequently referred to as the ‘First Lady of Jazz,’ Ella Fitzgerald at the age of seventeen, decided to change her Amateur Night debut performance from dancing to singing. It was a wise move as you may hear in this songbook.

Page 18 - December 2016 ~ Alamo Today

Clip Notes

By Jody Morgan

Twisting greenery into circular shapes is a craft pre-dating written language. The Old English root of “writhe” (to twist) and “wreathe” (to encircle) is “writhan.” Traditions leading to decking doors in December with rounds of evergreens are as culturally intertwined as the branches forming the festive decorations. Greco-Roman antecedents documented by contemporary historians are easiest to trace, but practices of tribes encountered by Roman conquerors also contributed to determining the seasonal display. Wreaths were the only tangible prizes awarded to artists and athletes competing in the Pan-Hellenic Games, held at four locations at different times of the year. Beginning in 776 BC, victors at Olympia received an olive wreath.

What’s Up By Jim Scala

From December into late spring the planet Venus will grace our evening southwestern sky. It is easily seen against a twilight sky. Since Venus sets at 8:20PM on December 15th and sunset is at 6:50PM, it will be visible against a dark sky. Then as the month progresses it will be a little higher each evening. Observe regularly with binoculars and watch it become larger and go through phases like our Moon. On December 15th, it will appear like a small quarter moon.

The Christmas Star

Venus, the brightest star in the December sky, prompts the question, “Was that the Christmas Star?” or more cynically, “Was there really a star of the Magi as the Bible says?” The answer to both questions is yes, and the Magi did travel from Persia (now Iran) to observe the unusual event. However, careful study shows it was an occultation, of Jupiter by the waning crescent moon in the early morning sky of April 17, 6 BCE – over 2,017 years ago. An occultation is when the Moon passes in front of a star. The picture that graces this article shows how the moon and Jupiter would have appeared to someone watching just before the lunar crescent passed in front of Jupiter. Since April was the lambing season, shepherds were watching their flocks throughout the night, as described in the book of Matthew. Zoroastrians, who were the astronomers and astrologers of the day, had accurately predicted the occultation and their leaders, priests known as the Magi, traveled to witness the event. Their astrologically-based religion predicted a King would be born under the occultation, and the priests would have brought gifts as depicted in the Bible. It was visible from a very small area in Israel around Bethlehem and only the Magi knew it would occur. Since the shepherds were out in the fields, they would have easily seen the occultation against the dark, early morning sky – as the picture illustrates. If an occultation of Jupiter occurred now, professional and amateur astronomers would travel far to observe and photograph the event. Similarly, the Zoroastrian astronomer priests traveled to witness the event. Jupiter now graces our morning sky. Use binoculars to see its disk and all four of its Galilean moons. There are no observing events on Mt. Diablo in December.

At Delphi the laurel wreath crowned winners. Pine was used at Isthmus and wild celery at Nemea. During the games the often-warring city-states honored a truce so citizens could travel safely to the events. Possibly winners hung their trophies on walls or entryways. However, harvest wreaths fashioned from wheat or other suitable plants from the most recent harvest did adorn doors. The practice of eliding celebration of the harvest season with festivities marking the winter solstice follows customs far older than the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the shopping frenzy of Black Friday. Thousands of years ago, the Roman celebration of the harvest recognizing their agriculNEW YEAR tural deity Saturn occurred on a single-day in late • CARPET NEW FLOORS! autumn. Gradually, Romans began staging the event • HARDWOOD honoring Saturn later and later in the year. EventuRUGS ally, they blended it with other holidays, creating • CARPET the week-long festival of Saturnalia running from • HARDWOOD CUSTOM RUGS December 17th to December 23rd. Similarly, the Pil• RUGS LINOLEUM grim’s 1621 party we call the ”First Thanksgiving” occurred sometime between September 21st and the • LINOLEUM TILE beginning of November. Legislation approved by Congress in 1941 proclaimed Thanksgiving Day to Family Owned Business be the 4th Thursday of November, directly preceding Since 1989 December’s holiday season. The joyous generation of goodwill accompanied 3344 Mt. Diablo Blvd. Lafayette, CA by exuberant feasting and drinking enjoyed during 925.284.4440 Saturnalia extended to giving slaves the chance to dine in splendor dressed as their masters (although License# 708486 some sources claim slaves still had to do the cooking). Evergreen wreaths decorated Roman doors, and bunches of holly were given as gifts. Many pagan cultures throughout northern Europe, uncertain the sun would rise without human intercession, created evergreen wreaths to perpetuate the cycle of the seasons and the return of light following the darkest day of the year. Some winter solstice celebrants added candles to the wreaths, placing them in each of the four directions to represent earth, air, fire, and water. Sixteenth century Lutherans are credited with appropriating that practice, hanging wreaths with four candles in churches during Advent to mark the weeks preceding Christmas. But evergreen wreaths are not everlasting. In Living Wreaths, Teddy Colbert writes: “In Ulm, Germany, where I taught school before I married, townspeople followed the European Christian tradition of hoisting advent wreaths with four candles to the rafters of churches and wine stuebels. Homes, classrooms, and shop windows had smaller versions.” Sadly, she recalled, “The advent wreaths were glorious, but as weeks progressed they became less lovely and more hazardous.” When she moved to Southern California, she realized that even the most luxuriant wreath ordered from a northern supplier soon crisped on her sunny door. In 1976, Colbert enrolled in Dr. Crummet’s Container Gardening Class at UCLA. She was determined to make a wreath that would remain fresh and vibrant throughout the year. Solving the problem of what materials to use and how to give plants sufficient soil to survive without having the dirt drop out took time. Finally, in 1977, Teddy succeeded by placing soil between two florists’ wreath frames and wrapping moss secured by the type of flexible copper wire used by bonsai artists around the tubular container. Crummet encouraged her to begin with succulent cuttings that rooted readily and did not need frequent watering. Pleased with the result, Colbert notes, “Although the living succulent wreath can be used for the holidays, it is not a Christmas wreath that goes out with the New Year’s trash. It can be used throughout the year – for many years – becoming more of a tradition with each event.” Today, the creation of living wreaths isn’t limited to planting succulents. Improved moisture retentive soils combined with slow release fertilizer allow designers to craft wreaths with ivy, flowering plants and even colorful vegetables and herbs to harvest. Displaying wreaths throughout the year follows multi-cultural precedents as time-honored as our December holiday traditions. Distinctive floral wreaths once designated a family’s residence before house numbers were common.

Technology Matters By Evan Corstorphine

What a great time to be in technology. There are so many innovative products available right now. We’ve seen the digital revolution move from personal computers into laptops with WiFi, then into smartphones, and then into tablets such as the iPad. The next stop in this connectivity revolution is nothing less than the connection of everything to everything. The industry phrase for this is “The Internet of Things,” or IOT. Put succinctly, the IOT is the convergence of multiple technologies, including ubiquitous wireless communication, and may include any object or appliance that can have intelligence and connectivity added into it, to enable or facilitate interaction by a third-party. Let me provide some examples. Example: I purchased a Google Home device and have put it in my living room. The Home is voice-controlled and acts as a sort of automated butler to control devices and functions around my house. Both the Home and Amazon’s “Echo” product are the leaders in the personal butler products for home use. If I say, “OK Google, play solo piano music,” it automatically connects to the music service I use (Pandora), then finds and plays solo piano music for me. If I wish to increase volume, I say, “OK Google, increase volume,” or “OK Google, increase volume 25%,” and it’s done. This is barely scratching the surface of what’s possible. Because the Home and Echo products have written their software with open interfaces, there are a plethora of manufacturers who have connected their services to these platforms. The idea is that in lieu of using smartphone apps or websites, we can perform common tasks with either pre-programmed logic triggers or with voice commands. Example: I have a new sprinkler controller for my home made by “RainMachine” with IOT capabilities built into it. Using the Home or Echo, I can say, “OK Google, turn on the front sprinklers for 10 minutes,” and watering will commence. On the other hand, it also has built-in intelligence to link with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and it will adjust the amount of sprinkling according to the weather forecast. This includes

Alamo Today ~ December 2016 - Page 19 increases or decreases in watering if it’s extremely hot, cool, or raining. For years there have been products designed to allow central control of the lights, outlets in your home, and even your garage door opener. Now that the internet has caught up with this technology, these devices can now be integrated into the IOT scheme using the Echo or Home products. For instance, I can say, “OK Google, turn on the living room lights,” when I walk into the room. Or when I hear something outside, I can say, “OK Google, turn on all outside lights” so I can investigate. The opportunities to integrate devices based on conditions, actions, or your desires are endless. We’re seeing many devices, such as security cameras, light switches and outlets, sprinkler controllers, furnace and air conditioners (via “Nest”), and much more all become part of the equation. Check out the website The website name stands for “if this then that (IFTTT),” and it aptly describes the logic this web engine allows you to engage to accomplish different tasks. For example, let’s pretend you use a FitBit or other branded exercise tracking watch. Because you’re trying to get enough exercise, you’ve set the FitBit for a daily goal of 10,000 steps. If you really want to hit that goal, you may need a reminder if you are being more sedentary than expected. Using IFTTT, you can set it to check into your fitness app at a certain time of day and then remind you with an email, an alert, or a text message that you’re running out of time to meet your goal. Example: You live on a busy street and want your garage door to open automatically when you arrive. Using IFTTT and the GPS built into your smartphone, you can teach the system to trigger your garage door to open automatically when you arrive in your driveway. There are thousands of “recipes” on the IFTTT website, and thousands more are coming. Your imagination is the only limit on what is possible. I encourage you to check it out and whet your appetite. As we move into the post-PC era, we at PCIO are shifting gears to help you address the technical challenges of our highly interconnected environment at home and your office. If you have a challenge you’d like to explore with a seasoned professional, give us a call at 925-552-7953 option 1, or Advertorial email

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COMPUTER SERVICES: PCs/Macs/Tablets/Smartphones • Upgrades • Maintenance • Networking • Data Recovery • Virus/Malware Removal • Back-up Solutions • Email/Hosted Exchange • Internet of Things IT DESIGN & IMPLEMENTATION: IT Strategy Development • Network Design • Infrastructure Assessment • Cloud Services INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT: Proactive Desktop, Server, & Network Monitoring and Management • Office Move Management • Disaster Preparedness • Monthly Service Agreements


Page 20 - December 2016 ~ Alamo Today

The Pyramid

By Peter T. Waldron

At Spectrum Wealth Partners, we focus our energy on what we call the Family Legacy Pyramid. This pyramid focuses on three main elements: Is our Community OK? - Charitable Desires: Civic, Religious, Community Groups. Is our Family OK? - Estate Planning, Estate/Asset protection, Business Succession, Exit Planning, 529 Plans. Are we OK? - Retirement Income, Long Term Care, Asset preservation, Spousal Income Needs, Sickness & Injury, Income Taxes, Property & Casualty. In this month’s article, I will go over the details of this pyramid. As you can see, there are many elements to the three layers of the pyramid that we need to consider. First is the base, “Are we okay?”. Many people begin their estate planning with a basic will and trust, as they should. We then find that a lot of clients get into in-depth estate planning without confirming that they are in fact OK. One example is setting up irrevocable trusts or moving assets to the name of the children without ever confirming the first step “Are we okay?”. Therefore, at Spectrum Wealth Partners, our first focus is confirming that our clients are OK. Questions that we ask include: 1. Are the clients going to be able to retire with the assets they accumulated? 2. If the client has to go into a long-term care facility, would they have enough assets to cover the additional expenses? 3. If one spouse predeceases the other, are there enough assets to take care of the surviving spouse? 4. If one spouse becomes disabled, what does that impact have on the planning that has to be completed? What we try to do is isolate and, with a high degree of certainty, confirm that our clients meet the first element which is the foundation of the pyramid. This foundation must be solid and meet the expectations, goals, and objectives that the client started out with.

Once we’ve confirmed our clients are OK, we then move onto “Is our family OK?”. Questions that we ask include: 1. Do the children have their college education paid for? 2. Do the children have the education and understanding of their parents’ estate so that when they receive it, they have the stewardship to handle a wealth transfer? 3. Have the children focused on putting money away for the grandchildren’s college? 4. Do the children have money to buy their first home? 5. Have the children done planning themselves? 6. Have you set up an intergenerational family bank where you can leverage your excess wealth to start companies, to buy real estate, and/or to fund your community objectives of giving to charity? Once we’ve confirmed that our clients and their family are OK, we then focus on the community and making sure that their charitable objectives have been met. It may be a church, a civic organization, or a major university. We’ll show them ways to integrate that into their overall plan and limit their exposure to risks of spending down money that could go to help them and their children. The Spectrum approach to financial planning is to look at the intergenerational overview of assets, overview of objectives, and tying in a process for making informed decisions. We do this by looking our clients’ objectives and the potential solutions to those objectives. Our clients will then have an implementation schedule to maximize their potential with regards to hitting those objectives. If you’re interested in learning more, don’t hesitate to give us a call for a complimentary review of your situation. You can contact me directly at peter. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing how we can help. Peter T. Waldron: California Insurance License #0E47827, 3201 Danville Blvd. Ste 190 Alamo, 925-786-7686. CRN1648603-112116 Peter T. Waldron is a registered representative and investment advisor representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a broker-dealer (member SIPC) and registered investment advisor, offering insurance through Lincoln Marketing and Insurance Agency, LLC and Lincoln Associates Insurance Agency, Inc. and other fine companies. This information should not be construed as legal or tax advice. You may want to consult a tax advisor regarding this information as it relates to your personal circumstances. The content of this material was created by Lincoln Financial Advisors for its representatives and their clients. Advertorial

PTH continued from front page

SRVHS PTH Club members choose projects from a variety of options including working with Special Olympics and Challenger Baseball kids to building playhouses for Habitat for Humanity and getting new and good-as-new toys ready for White Pony Express to distribute. They prepare food at soup kitchens and make fleece blankets for foster children. A newly instituted Student Advisory Board is focusing on identifying needs to be met in four different areas: Senior Citizens, Soup Kitchens, Community Outreach, and Food Banks. McKnight notes, “Many of these teens have never been exposed to real poverty, addiction, people who are truly hungry, or folks with serious mental illness. PTH gives them a chance to spend time with folks that struggle with one or more of these issues. They learn that these are real people and learn to have more compassion for those who are in need. They learn to look these folks in the eye rather than looking away.” PTH Board Member and Parent Advisor for Monte Vista High School’s PTH Ambassadors Janet Nunan reports, “In September the Ambassadors attended Glide Memorial Church and gave six hours to feeding the homeless. I think it opened all of our eyes to see firsthand how little some have – how much we have, and that we can bridge that gap by merely giving our SRVHS PTH Club members made 500 sandwiches for a homeless shelter time.” Nunan describes a moment that captures the essence of the experience. “When we were in Concord. Photo courtesy of PTH. leaving our service at Glide Memorial Church, we were starving and tired from a good day’s work. Regardless of his hunger, one of the students gave his lunch to a man we passed on the sidewalk who was hungry. That made my heart swell.” Ghorbani sold two successful business franchises to dedicate her life to passing along the insight she gained as a privileged 10 year-old living in Mexico. Riding home in her family car one day, she spotted a boy no older than herself struggling to survive by selling candy and gum on the street. Since that moment, Ghorbani has never been numb to poverty or need. By helping others in every way she could, Gaby learned the value of tackling huge issues one step at a time. “Stand up and fight for what is right, even if you have to stand up alone,” she advises. “I love to equip kids with the knowledge of what a giver can do for someone else.” Ghorbani launched PTH with modest expectations. She spoke with students in leadership groups in local schools. One middle school student wrote, “I learned so much about how just $1.00 could help kids in Kenya, India, China, and even in the streets of San Francisco! I really like that you don’t care about the big checks of money. All that matters is taking some time to go volunteer or visit.” Soon she found other students were asking to be invited to work with PTH. Now thousands of local youngsters are involved in PTH projects annually. Guidelines for small groups wanting to form PTH clubs include all that’s needed to succeed. The extensive list of potential projects begins with ideas as simple as collecting candy for Blue Star Moms to ship to soldiers overseas. An outline for making meetings fun emphasizes the value of being part of a team and gaining a sense of responsibility as well as belonging. Youthful participants pledge to: “Be kind to everyone even if they are not kind back; Be aware of the needs and feelings of others; Be mindful that my words and actions affect others; Be patient with others; Volunteer to serve others and be grateful for

See PTH continued on page 30

Procrastination? Make a New Year’s Resolution!

Alamo Today ~ December 2016 - Page 21

By Robert J. Silverman, Esq.

Over the 23 years I have practiced law in the estate planning arena. A large percentage of my clients have commented that they were sorry they procrastinated – some for years and others for decades – in establishing (or reviewing and updating) their estate plans. Fortunately, most felt relieved and pleased when they completed the project. Moreover, they indicated that the process was much easier and less stressful than they expected. Several years ago, I read with keen interest a Wall Street Journal article titled “Never Procrastinate Again.” Below, I’ll outline a few major points raised in that article and highlight key “take-aways.” The article stated that scientists define procrastination as, “The intentional delay of an action despite foreseeable negative future consequences.” Examples of “foreseeable negative future consequences” you and your loved ones could suffer by procrastinating estate planning are: i) Tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary probate fees and costs, ii) Substantial time and inconvenience in estate administration, iii) Public versus private handling of your affairs, v) No control over distribution of assets to young adults or beneficiaries with special needs, and vi) Court appointment of people (you might not want) to manage your finances, health care, and/or minor children. Most of my clients and most of those who live in this community are pretty successful people. It would be logical to surmise that when successful people procrastinate on certain projects it’s because they are perfectionists who are somewhat paralyzed by their desire to do everything perfectly, and the associated anxiety over the process causes them to avoid getting started. Interestingly, however, studies indicate that it is not perfectionism or anxiety that prevents people from getting started. Nor is procrastination synonymous with laziness or simply poor time management. So, why do people procrastinate, and how can one overcome the tendency to procrastinate? Evidently, high levels of stress experienced by procrastinators causes them to shift focus to immediate rather than distant matters. Fascinating studies are being conducted in many countries with therapy and even software being developed for habitual procrastinators. Meanwhile, some scientists believe the following represent constructive tools to remedy - break the cycle of - procrastination: 1) Break down the project goal into concrete sub-goals, and commit to the exact time you will start to work on the task 2) “Just get started!” - Don’t get overwhelmed by a long list of tasks or intermediate steps that may be required to complete the project 3) Remind yourself that completing a task now will help you in the future (and putting it off won’t make it more enjoyable) 4) Give yourself a reward for not only completing the whole project, but also for finishing each sub-goal. So, if you are procrastinating about estate planning, how might these tools help you break the procrastination cycle and thus avoid the potentially profound negative future consequences? In my estate planning practice, the process is generally broken down into these concrete sub-goals or steps: i) Contact my office to engage in an introductory discussion about your situation, obtain a fee quote, and have your preliminary questions answered, ii) Complete a Confidential Client Questionnaire, iii) Schedule a meeting to discuss and decide upon key provisions of each estate planning document, with my guidance and support, iv) Review the documents I prepare and send you,

v) Schedule an appointment to discuss and sign the documents, and vi) (If you establish a Living Trust) retitle assets into your Trust with my instructions and support. Forgive yourself for procrastinating - make a New Year’s Resolution and just get started. Be sure to reward yourself each step of the way! * Estate Planning * Trust Administration & Probate * Real Estate * Business Please contact me to request a complimentary: i) “Estate Planning Primer,” ii) Real Estate titling brochure, and/or iii) introductory meeting. Mr. Silverman is an attorney with R. Silverman Law Group which is located at 1855 Olympic Blvd., Suite 125, Walnut Creek, CA 94596; (925) 705-4474; This article is intended to provide information of a general nature, and should not be relied upon as legal, tax and/ or business advice. Readers should obtain specific advice from their own, qualified professional advisors. Advertorial

Page 22 - December 2016 ~ Alamo Today

By Roger Smith, Alamo Improvement Association Alamo Farmer’s Market is Year-Round

Yes, our Alamo Farmer’s Market is open year-round! Enjoy easy access and parking including an entrance from the Iron Horse Trail for bicyclists and hikers. The Alamo Farmer’s Market features fresh vegetables, strawberries and citrus, honey, cheese, olive oil, hummus and almonds, making the Alamo Farmer’s Market a great experience for shoppers. Looking for something that is uniquely delicious as well as nutritious that you family will sure to enjoy? See what Hummus Heaven from San Leandro has in store for you. They bring health food with a European and North African twist to the original Middle Eastern hummus recipe. The Marinated Artichoke Heart recipe is a signature classic. Bill Harlow, General Manager for All Bay Farmers Markets, is working diligently to keep the Alamo Farmer’s Market open year-round. Bill along with Alamo Plaza Management, and AIA have been listening to Market shoppers as to their experience. Please stop by and share your thoughts. The Alamo Farmer’s Market is open every Sunday from 9AM – 2PM. Make it part of your Sunday!

Pipeline Safety

The Pipeline Safety Trust’s conference titled “Pipeline safety in transition: Will changes lead to safer pipelines?” recently took place in New Orleans. The complete agenda is available on their website The following is a summary of some presentations. The Petroleum Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Alan Mayberry Associate Administrator presented updates regarding pipeline safety. Of note, PHMSA has learned that: 1) Repair criteria and schedules allow too many sizable and growing anomalies to remain in service for long periods. 2) Poor analysis of discovered defects (rationalize not excavating defects rather than aggressively seeking to investigate and discover injurious defects) exists and 3) Examples include Plains Petroleum Pipeline accident in Santa Barbara (2015) under called ILI indications and failure to validate tool performance. PHMSA supports and endorses

Jazz continued from front page

to the beat of renowned musicians. Jazz Vespers has a history that dates back to the 1960’s. Pastor Harms explains,“Back in 1962, drummer Max Roach in a conversation with Pastor John Garcia Gensel (1917-1998) whose ministry was to serve the N.Y. jazz community said, ‘We both do spiritual work but I can’t make that Sunday morning gig. What are you going to do about it?” That partnership produced evening services at 5PM ( an agreeable time for night-owl musicians) at St. Peter’s in Manhattan by jazz musicians for jazz lovers. Thus began pastoral care for the jazz community that included Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Herbie Mann, and many more. Duke Ellington composed a piece for the ministry and called it Shepherd of the Night Flock. Pastor Harms, who has a Masters of Divinity and a MA in Theatre Arts, is part of the team who has been bringing exceptional jazz to Peace in Danville for the past twelve years. He says, “ I was fortunate to cross paths with Ed Klitsch who had ‘imported’ jazz to Philadelphia and San Francisco. He had the jazz connections and I turned it into an interfaith celebration.” Jazz Church West at Peace Lutheran in Danville gets calls from agents in New York and LA who say,“My guy is going to be in the Bay Area, could he do that church gig?” Harms shared that every year at least half of the performers say,“This is the best damn gig I’ve had all year.” One performer explains the Jazz West experience this way, “You don’t understand how good this is. As musicians, we practice endlessly but you only go so far with that. It’s the audience who says, ‘take me further, go there, back off, be gentle with me’---and their responsiveness generates our creativity—to do things we’ve never done before, which is the point of jazz. This crowd is so tuned in; there are no distractions, pure focus—and sparks fly. This is why I got into jazz.” Some of the musicians who have performed at Peace include Marcus Shelby’s

the Pipeline Safety Management System (PSMS), moving toward zero accidents. Why are there so many failures on new pipelines, and what needs to change? PHMSA’s Western Region Director, Chris Hoidal reported on what is regulated, including pipelines categorized. System Type Miles % of total Operators Hazardous Liquid 207,981 8% 482 Gas Transmission 301,257 11% 1,026 Gas Gathering 17,711 1% 369 Gas Distribution 2,168,599 80% 1,343 Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Katherine Butler reported on the Southern California Edison Natural Gas Leak in Aliso Canyon (Porter Ranch/San Fernando Valley) on October 23, 2015. It was the largest methane gas leak from a storage facility in US History. The leak released approximately 90,000 metric tons of gas from October until February when the relief well was sealed. Residents within five miles of the leak reported numerous respiratory difficulties. Pets of all types were similarly affected. Four thousand households were temporarily relocated outside of the leak zone, and schools were directed to relocate. Eighty-one percent of households reported symptoms, and 61% of households sought medical care. The Climate Central website stated that “The Aliso Canyon gas leak in California…after a four month effort to contain it, has brought new attention to methane. The gas is roughly 86 times as potent as carbon dioxide as a driver of climate change over a period of 20 years, or 35 times as potent over the span of a century. The Aliso leak spewed enough methane into the atmosphere to equal the greenhouse gases emitted by more than 440,000 cars in a year. Learn more at, news/us-global-methane-emissions-spike-climate-central, or Alamo is a special community that all of our residents can be justifiably proud to call “Home.” Established in 1955, AIA’s mission is to “preserve the semi-rural character of Alamo,” the place we love to live. Consider becoming a member of our 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to preserve Alamo’s unique beauty and status. Please visit for information on AIA, articles of interest to Alamo residents, membership forms, and more. Now is the time to renew or become a new member of AIA. Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season.

Anton Schwartz, jazz saxophonist and composer who is performing in December at Peace Lutheran Church. Photo by Phil Meyer.

Big Band with 25 performers, Mad and Eddie Duran on his 90th birthday (he played with Charlie Parker), The Saxophonistas- a women’s sax quartet, Gerry Grosz Jazz Kitchen, John Calloway, Clave Unplugged, vocalist Clairdee, Steve Heckman, Kenny Washington, and many more. Check out Jazz Church West at Peace Lutheran at or call 925-648-7000. The church is located at 3201 Camino Tassajara, Danville. Jazz West sessions are free. It’s a casual evening and light snacks are available after the jam session. Performances start at 5PM every first Sunday from October-June. Anton Schwartz on sax and Inga Swearingen,vocalist will perform in December.

Liberate Yourself with Health! By Michelle Brown

You can have all the worldly possessions you heart desires, but when you are sick it becomes infinitely clear that enjoying these things is impossible without good health. Many people choose to neglect their health; they simply wait for their bodies to shut down before they prioritize it. Do your future self a favor, and be an advocate for your wellness today. Liberate yourself from unhealthy habits. Do everything possible to make health your number one priority. While sickness will find most of us at some point, there’s a whole lot we can do to lessen the effects. It’s even possible to eliminate some viruses and conditions by implementing healthy habits daily. I may not know you, but I care about you. It is the mission of my company, Gumsaba, to help you live well. A healthy community benefits all of us. Nutrition consultations with 24 hour food recalls, meal plans, and affordable healthy meal deliveries are services we and our partners provide. We offer outdoor group fitness classes, private training and accountability, free group walks, hikes, and runs for people of all fitness levels. These are just some of the programs I have in place to help this amazing community thrive. Take advantage of all this and more by visiting Get access to healthy, tasty recipes and motivation through our blog that will support you on this meaningful and important journey. Mental health is an aspect of wellness that challenges us all at some point. Whether it’s work stress, family stress, or the weight of the world sitting on our shoulders...these things break us down. They wreak havoc on our immune system, and they change the balance of our hormones. Stress and uncertainty often effect our sleep patterns and leave us drained. Medical remedies may work, but eventually the dosage will need to be elevated, or a more powerful medicine will need to be taken. Medication may serve a purpose for a time, but when it comes to stress management, it is not an ideal or permanent solution. Studies show that people who have healthy habits live happier lives. Exercise is proven and often prescribed for mental health. Exercise releases feel-good hormones and provides the kind of stress we quickly adapt to. This allows us to manage all kinds of stress more efficiently. On the same note, the food we eat can cause major hormonal imbalance. Fast foods, processed foods, soda...these are not what human evolution is built to thrive on. While junk foods may feel like a quick fix, the crash will leave you more depleted and reinforce the path to sickness. Treat your body with care. You only get one. If exercise is new to you, start with walking. Eventually your body will acclimate, and you will be able to handle moderate to rigorous exercise a few times a week, which is very beneficial for stress adaptation. Make whole, nutrient rich foods the dominant food on your plate. Your body will begin to crave them and stop craving junk. You will handle all the stressors of life better in a healthy body. Putting your health first may seem like a daunting task. While it is true that some changes are difficult to make, they are not impossible. All it takes is one step, one moment, one choice at a time. Liberate yourself. Make health your number one priority in all that you do, and you will be making a priceless investment in your future. Michelle Brown is an ACE Certified Medical Exercise Specialist, ACE Certified Personal Trainer, Spartan SGX Coach, Martial Arts and Self Defense Expert, TRX Level 2 Certified Trainer, Certified Trigger Point Rehabilitation Therapist, SCW Yoga Level 2 Instructor, Competitive Vegan Athlete and owner of Gumsaba Fitness Programs. Michelle has been helping clients surpass their goals since 1998. Gumsaba offers outdoor fitness programs, personal, small group and sport specific training. Join Gumsaba for a FREE CLASS. Visit and click get started to redeem your free class with promo code FALL2016. Advertorial

Alamo Today ~ December 2016 - Page 23

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Enjoy Our Patio Dining Monday - Saturday: Lunch and Dinner Sunday: Dinner only We Offer a Full Bar and Lounge 3168 Danville Blvd, Alamo Margaritas are a House Specialty 925.405.6397 Upcoming Community Meetings and Events

AIA - Alamo Improvement Association - Please visit for upcoming meetings - Creekside Community Church -1350 Danville Blvd. Alamo MAC (Municipal Advisory Committee) - First Tuesday of each month 6pm - Alamo Women’s Club P2B - Police Services Advisory Committee - First Monday of each month, 5pm - Meets at Sheriff Substation, 150 Alamo Plaza P5 - Round Hill Police Services Advisory Committee - Second Wednesday of each month, 7pm - Meets at Round Hill Country Club - Lower Level Meeting Room CERT classes - Community Emergency Response Team - Visit www.

Alamo Police Services Advisory Committee October 2016 Reports

Alamo police responded to 42 crimes which included alarm calls, burglary, court order violation, non-criminal death, disturbance, drugs, forgery, grand theft, mentally ill hospitilization, interfering with public officer, outside assist, petty theft, probation violation, property found/lost, suspicious circumstances, identity theft, warrant arrest, and weapon violation of probation.

Reported Incidents

• Jennifer Ln, Residential Burglary: A home on Jennifer Ln was burglarized. The responsible(s) took advantage of an unattended open garage door and stole several boxes of clothes from the garage. The scene was processed for evidence, and the case is currently ongoing. • Stonegate Dr, Residential Burglary: A home on Stone Gate Dr had been burglarized. The responsible(s) entered through an unsecure door in the middle of the night and stole jewelry. The scene was processed for evidence. Several leads have been obtained and are currently being pursued.

Page 24 - December 2016 ~ Alamo Today

Abdominal Wall Hernia By Michael Baker, M.D., FACS

Abdominal wall hernias are among the most common of all surgical problems. More than one million abdominal wall hernia repairs are performed each year in the United States. Two-thirds are inguinal hernia repair, reviewed in an article in this publication in August, and one third are “ventral hernias.” A hernia means that some part of the contents from within the abdominal cavity-- some fat or sometimes a part of the intestine-- protrudes through an abnormal opening, weakness, or tear in the muscles of the abdominal wall. Ventral abdominal wall hernias occur in several locations, and the most common are epigastric, umbilical, and incisional. Epigastric hernias occur in the muscles of the upper abdominal wall, on a line between the breast bone and the navel or umbilicus. Umbilical hernias occur near the navel, which has a natural weakness from the blood vessels of the umbilical cord. Incisional hernias can develop soon after surgery or many years later. They affect more than 10% of patients who have had abdominal surgery. Hernias can cause burning, pressure, or pain. They can be caused or enlarged by excess abdominal pressure due to being overweight, excessive coughing, or pregnancy. Most hernias can be diagnosed by physical examination, as there is often a visible bulge. Your physician may ask you to cough or strain in order to make it more obvious on examination. If it is difficult to determine with certainty, then physicians will sometimes order an ultrasound exam or a CT scan. Hernias may be reducible – the contents put back into the abdomen – or incarcerated, when it cannot be reduced into the abdomen. There is a risk that the incarcerated contents become strangulated (the tissue dies), making this an emergency and often a more complex and dangerous operation. A hernia does not get better over time, nor will it go away by itself. There are no exercises or physical therapy regimens that can make a hernia improve or heal. Hence, most physicians encourage repair of hernias in patients who

Barn continued from front page

are medically able to undergo the procedure, even if there are no symptoms but especially if it does not reduce into the abdomen. Symptomatic hernias and those that are incarcerated should almost always be repaired. Hernia repair requires a trip to the operating room and the ability to tolerate anesthesia. Most all hernia surgeons strengthen repairs with a mesh of woven material to bolster the muscles and prevent hernia recurrence. Hernias can be repaired with a traditional “open” incision or use of a minimally invasive technique with a laparoscope to enter the abdominal cavity and repair from the inside. Open surgery mandates doctors make an incision which must be large enough for the surgeon to fit his/ her hands or surgical instruments inside the abdomen. Open surgery allows doctors to see and touch your organs and tissue while operating. Minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopy) is done through a few small incisions using long, thin surgical instruments and a camera. The camera sends images to a video monitor in the operating room which guides surgeons as they operate. Robotic surgery is the next evolution of minimally invasive approach and features a magnified 3D high-definition vision system and special instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human wrist. This enables your doctor to operate with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity, and control. There is early data that suggests there is less post-op pain and faster return to activity with robotic procedures. Your surgeon will choose the technique which they feel is the most appropriate for your age, medical conditions, surgical risk, and potential outcome. Each type of repair has its advantages, risks, and benefits. Recovery time is variable, but most patients can return to light activity within a few days. Timing for return to work or vigorous activity will be recommended by your surgeon. Dr. Baker is a board certified General Surgeon, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and a retired US Navy Admiral. He is the Senior Partner of West Coast Surgical Associates (formerly Walnut Creek Surgical Associates) with offices in Walnut Creek, Concord, and San Ramon. For more information, call (925) 933-0984 or view the surgical team at www. Advertorial

The ATI assessment included recommendations for four farm buildings. In the spring 2014 edition of SRHF’s newsletter The Barn Burner, dedicated docent and Board member Dall Barley writes: “After reviewing the draft report the Foundation determined that our priority should be to renovate the ‘Ole 1850s Barn’ to a point that would ensure its survival for future generations. We also wanted to give the public access to a portion of the interior of the structure to allow viewing the building from the inside to see techniques used in its construction.” Quoted on October 14, 2014 in an online post, Desautels explains: “Respecting the old traditions and methods, while using modern day technology, is a challenge we face on this project.” Once ATI completed the design phase, the City asked for construction bids. On June 30, 2016, the City executed an agreement with HM Construction. Restoration requires dismantling the barn. Each piece will be carefully numbered and stored pending reconstruction. During the estimated four-month duration of the project, HM Construction will maintain a security fence around the work area so that farm programs can be safely conducted without disruption. Part of the barn sits on top of rocks, but the floor is dirt. A foundation will be added during the reconstruction. At least one of the hand-hewn beams is a replacement. Shortly after the City of San Ramon acquired the property in 1997, they found a 35-foot beam failing. An online search found a historically correct replacement at a wood salvage site in Mendocino. The original roof was wood shingle. The present roof is corrugated metal. In her presentation on the project, long-time SRHF Board member Pat Boom says, “Milled lumber has been used in the rebuilding of both the north and south sheds. It is not known how much of the vertical board siding is original, but inspection of the wood shows that it may have been painted red-brown originally and later white.” Photographs from 1906 and 1907 indicate that the lower southern shed was added c1907. That part of the barn Samuel Russell and his wife Esther built this barn on the they named Forest Home Farms in the early will hold interpretive materials and be opened to the public. The larger area that once housed animals and farm property 1850s. Photo by Jody Morgan. equipment as well as storing crops and hay will be visible from the newer space. When the Mexican War ended in 1848, California was ceded to the United States. Soon after California achieved statehood in 1850, Jose Maria Amador began selling parcels of his extensive land holdings. Samuel and Esther Russell purchased 750 acres from Amador in 1851-1852. They raised six children on the property they named Forest Home Farms. The house they built using redwood from the Moraga hills may still exist as the northernmost part of the 1900 Boone home connected to the main house by a breezeway. Samuel served as San Ramon’s first postmaster from 1852-1859. In his journal published as Up and Down California 1860-1864, William Henry Brewer, who made the first documented botanical collections on Mount Diablo, describes camping “at the farm of Major Russell” in September 1861. “The sky was very clear, the stars and moon bright, as we went to bed under some lovely live oaks by a little brook. The brook had ‘broken out’ after the earthquake in June last – it is good water, and Russell says it is worth $5,000 to his farm.” After Samuel Russell’s death in 1863, the Shultes and then the Arendts held the property before Numa and Minnie Boone purchased Forest Home Farms in 1899. Money from Minnie’s inheritance financed the construction of their 22-room Dutch colonial home. Their son Travis and daughter Eleanor were born on the farm. Travis, always called “Bud,” was successfully employed in Hollywood when he met his future wife Ruth. They married in 1929. Numa had just taken out a $10,000 loan to buy additional acreage. Following the stock market crash, the bank repossessed that land, but Travis managed to use the Homestead Act to keep the rest of the farm in the family. See Barn continued on page 27

Proven Antidotes to Holiday Stress By Joree Rosenblatt, MA, LMFT

The holiday season is never as easy, peaceful, and joyous as we hope or expect it to be. And while there is a plethora of wonderful and joyous moments during this time of year, sometimes we are even too stressed to notice or appreciate them. Additionally, I know that this election season has added an unprecedented degree of stress with the unknowns of our political future. But stress is stress, regardless of its source. It has serious implications on your mind and body, and it can be difficult to manage, especially when many things pile on at once. Studies show that nearly 70% of doctor visits are due to stress-related symptoms; getting a handle on them will benefit you in the short and long term. Try some (or all!) of the following proven stress-busters.

Take deep breaths

This is self-explanatory. Our breath is the best tool to calm our brains and our bodies - the key is remembering to use it!


One of the root causes of stress is our emotions, and gaining insight and awareness into them can help to control them. To do this, slow down, connect with your breath, get into your body, and practice looking at life situations, your thoughts, emotions, and sensations with an “it is what it is” mentality. Eventually, you’ll see what is arising more objectively and that “it” begins to have less control over you and your mood. Not having to label everything

Foster continued from page 8

to inform, educate, and support the resource family community in CCC. Before a child can be placed in a home, potential resource families must become certified by the county to provide care to foster children. The first step in becoming certified is to attend a brief orientation held by CCC Children and Family Services. At the orientation, individuals can obtain an application to become a certified caregiver along with other information regarding the process of becoming a resource family. This orientation provides a chance for individuals to meet and interact with others who may be interested in becoming a foster or an adoptive parent. For orientation dates and locations, please contact Jamie Rucki (925) 602-6930 or toll free at 1-866-313-7788. After making the commitment to become a care provider, the next step will be to attend trainings, offered at our local community colleges. The trainings are designed to enhance the ability of the resource family to meet the needs of a foster child. Financial assistance is available to the care provider, to help meet the needs of the foster child. Foster care benefits provide cash aid on behalf of needy children in foster care who meet the eligibility requirements established by County, State, and Federal law and regulation. I have personally seen the difference foster and resource families make in the lives of children who, through no fault of their own, are separated from their parents and families. This potentially traumatic situation is eased by the great support and comfort received from a caring family. A resource family has the ability to lay the foundation for success in a child’s life. For more information, visit My office is here to serve the residents of CCC District 2, which includes San Ramon, Danville, Alamo, Walnut Creek, Saranap, Parkmead, Lafayette, Moraga, Canyon, and Orinda. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can provide you TMwith additional information on this topic or on other County issues. I can be reached at or 925-957-8860.


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Alamo Today ~ December 2016 - Page 25 as good or bad, with this “just is” mindset we practice having an evenness of mind (also known as equanimity) in learning to respond and not react. Through experiential practice, studies have proven how this creates and strengthens new neuropathways, allowing you to respond more effectively to life’s struggles.


Cultivate an “attitude of gratitude”! Neuroscience tells us we have a negativity bias. For self-protective reasons, we are evolutionarily designed to focus on the negative. It takes conscious effort to look for the good, and when we intentionally looking for the good, we find more good! Studies also show that cultivating gratitude can help boost positive emotions while helping to buffer against negative ones. Focusing on gratitude will not prevent the negative stuff from arising, but it helps to diffuse it and allows us to respond with less reactivity. Practice being grateful for the little things (e.g. a friendly barista steaming your latte) as well as the big things (e.g. the health of you or your loved ones).


Watch a video of a baby laughing, and within minutes the release of endorphins from smiling or laughing will likely lessen your negative mood. Studies show that laughing can improve your health by relaxing your whole body, strengthening your immune system, and balancing your nervous system (especially when laughing face-to-face with another person, which will also increase connection and create shared experiences) all the while triggering emotional changes in the body that will reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.

Get outside

Being in nature has a profound effect on people’s well-being. Scientist Roger Ulrich found that hospital patients whose window overlooked natural settings showed shorter recovery times, needed less medication, and reported a more positive hospital stay as compared to those patients who didn’t have visual access to nature. It’s also been proven that smelling grass reduces heart rate, blood pressure, and even road rage! So, next time you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, go outside! Soak in the fresh air, stop and smell the roses, and connect with the natural environment around you.


Even if you dread working out, it will still have powerful positive effects for your body. Studies show that exercising reduces the levels of your body’s stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, while aiding in the production of endorphins, which are your body’s natural mood elevators and pain killers. And it’ll help you keep fitting into your jeans after all the holiday pie.

Have more sex

Studies show that when we are in an intimate relationship, we heal faster, get sick less often, and live longer. In addition, having sex can release the “feel-good” hormones such as oxytocin and endorphins, counteracting the stress hormones. Increasing these positive experiences and feelings towards your partner will help identify them as someone you can rely on during stressful or difficult times. So, go get it on! If stress continues to be something you struggle with beyond the holiday season, and you would like opportunity to practice these tools more in depth, check out or feel free to call me for more info at 925-212-2996. At The Bay Area Mindfulness and Therapy Center, I work with individuals and lead mindfulness classes on helping Advertorial people get unstuck and live their optimal life.


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Page 26 - December 2016 ~ Alamo Today

The Eye Opener

Happy Holidays 2016 & the Year in Review By Gregory Kraskowsky, O.D., Alamo Optometry

Another year is almost in the rearview mirror. It is during the holiday season that I like to review the year which has past and start thinking of the year ahead. We have made some positive changes this year to improve the office, patient care, and choices for our patients when considering lenses for their computer glasses. Our major addition to the office in 2016 for improved patient care was the Optomap. This technology takes a digital image of the retina without dilation. It is safe to use for all ages since there is no radiation. It is a great tool for many reasons. It gives the patient the ability to view the structures in their own retinas. For documentation purposes, it forms a baseline to be able to compare against moving forward. If there is a retinal condition, it allows the patient to view the exact problem, and it can be used to monitor treatment. Since it is very difficult to detect subtle change over time, a digital image is much better than what can be documented in your medical record. Even though the Optomap is a valuable tool in providing comprehensive eye care, it is not meant to completely replace dilation. Dilation is still the standard of care for evaluation of the retina. However, the Optomap will be used as an adjunct to dilation for documentation and to monitor the retina for any changes in between dilations. To aid in patient communications to and from our office, we have started using Solution Reach. Those of you that have been at the office in the past two months have already been introduced to this program. Instead of phone calls, postcard reminders, and voicemails, most communication from the office regarding exam confirmations and reminders and eyewear notifications will now be done through email and text. Since most of us have smartphones at this point, it made sense to move to this new technology because we were finding that most patients are more comfortable communicating through email and text than phone. In addition, it is hard for most patients to call the office during their work day, so going this route enables patients to confirm appointments and receive notifications when it is convenient for them. We also believe that our staff will now be better able to spend more time with our patients in the office due to the fewer phone calls that need to be made. However, to make this technology work, we need to have a cell phone number and email address, so make sure all information is current when you contact the office. In addition to improving patient care and the patient experience, there have also been improvements in the field of lenses to help patients see better and more comfortably. Lens designs, specifically for the computer and to help combat computer fatigue, have made strides in the past year. These single vision lenses can be worn full time if wanted and allow the patient

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to see their computer screen and phone with less strain while not making the distance blurry as in your traditional computer lenses. In addition, the anti-glare coatings with blue light protection can severely limit the amount of harmful blue light getting to the eye from prolonged use of the computer, phone, or gaming device. As the holiday season approaches, it is important to remember to exhaust your flexible spending accounts (FSA) before the end of the year. The government has a wide range of specified costs that qualify as a medical expense. Included in that list is any vision correction device (glasses, computer glasses, contact lenses, sports goggles, etc.) and sunglasses. As long as your purchase is made by the end of the year, it will count on your 2016 account balance. Our office has grown again this year thanks to our patients. You continually support us and go above and beyond by recommending us to your friends and family. We believe in providing quality service and care, and this is what our patients deserve and have come to expect from us. Our office extends best wishes for the holiday and a prosperous new year to all of our patients and the local community. Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear. He can be reached at 820-6622, or visit his office at 3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165 in Alamo. Visit our website at, and join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @Alamo Optometry. Advertorial

A Gift to Our Community – the Cancer Support Community By Jewel Johl, MD

As a medical oncologist, I see patients who are enduring physical and emotional stress caused by cancer. While working to eradicate the cancer, I always take into account the condition of the body and mind. From the time of diagnosis to after completion of treatment, psychosocial support is always recommended for the patient, their family members, and caregivers. One of the most valuable resources in our community for cancer patients and their families is the Cancer Support Community in Walnut Creek. For over 15 years, my colleagues at Diablo Valley Oncology and I have referred our patients, friends, and loved ones to them. The Cancer Support Community provides services free of charge include counseling; support groups; nutrition, exercise, and patient education programs; and much more. So far in 2016 over 2,200 patients and their families made 22,000 visits to Cancer Support Community. Through their programs, they enable cancer patients to achieve an improved quality of life. All of their programs and services are evidence-based to positively impact cancer treatment outcomes and/or immune system functioning, and they are all delivered by professionals who are licensed or certified in their area of expertise. As the year draws to a close, many people embrace the spirit of giving by making tax deductible contributions to nonprofit organizations and charities. Please consider making a year-end gift to the Cancer Support Community annual appeal, “Campaign for Hope.” All funds raised will help this organization continue to provide valuable programs and services for our local community. Please plan to attend a Holiday Boutique & Fundraiser, sponsored by Diablo Valley Oncology at our facility in Pleasant Hill located at 400 Taylor Blvd., front lobby, on December 9th from 1-4pm. Vendors include Sloat Garden Center, Amphora Olive Oil, Chloe + Isabel, and Beauty Counter – all donating a portion of their sales to the Cancer Support Community. For more information call 925-677-5041. Dr. Johl is a Board Certified Medical Oncologist and Hematologist with Diablo Valley Oncology & Hematology Medical Group and serves on the Board of Directors for the Cancer Support Community. To learn more about Dr. Johl and Diablo Valley Oncology, visit The Cancer Support Community can be reached at 925-933-0107 or www. Advertorial

Ageing Hands

By Dr. Jerome Potozkin

Not too long ago a woman named Ellen consulted with me for signs of ageing. When the consultation began, I was a bit confused. Ellen looked younger than her chronological age of 68. She had been a long-term user of sunscreen as well as excellent medical grade skin care products. She was doing all the proper things. She confided in me that she had her eyes done, had a facelift, and took advantage of Botox and fillers. She looked great, natural, and not over-done. Most people that I see want to look like the best natural version of themselves and not like a distorted version. I could not figure out what could be bothering her until she took off her gloves and showed me her hands. She was embarrassed by the ageing appearance of her hands which were thin skinned with prominent veins and multiple brown spots that she referred to as liver spots. Her hands simply didn’t match her overall youthful appearance. She could not understand why she had liver spots when she could not recall ever having eaten liver, and her primary physician told her after a recent physical that her liver was normal. Ellen is not alone as I have treated many patients for the signs of ageing on their hands. Firstly, liver spots have absolutely nothing to do with your liver or ever having consumed liver. They are called solar lentigines and are caused by long term sun exposure. It is not unusual to lose volume and subcutaneous fat in the back of our hands as we age. This loss of volume can make veins and tendons appear more prominent. Fortunately, we have solutions to both problems. The brown spots on the back of the hands can be treated in multiple different ways. Some people will freeze them with liquid nitrogen. We use the PicoWay Laser to treat these spots as it has fewer risks than liquid nitrogen. The PicoWay emits a beam of light that is selectively absorbed by the brown pigment. The laser light flashes on and off in picoseconds, so fast that heat is not spread to other normal skin structures. Picosecond lasers have dramatically improved how we treat pigment spots and tattoos. This allows us to remove the brown spots with minimal risk to surrounding structures. We can usually accomplish dramatic change in one or two sessions. In addition to treating the brown spots, we can also treat the loss of volume. Some patients will elect to undergo a procedure known as autologous fat transfer. This procedure is sort of like a mini-liposuction. It is performed in the office and does not require general anesthesia (being put to sleep). We typically extract some fat from the abdomen, thighs or hips and then inject it into the back of the hands. Some of the fat has the potential to create a longlasting change by acting as a living graft, whereas some of it will go away in several months. To perform this procedure, the individual must have enough fat to remove and inject. Many patients simply don’t have enough fat. For those slender individuals, we can inject a commercially available filler such as Radiesse into the hands. Radiesse can restore lost volume, minimize the visibility of veins and tendons, and provide a smooth natural result. Ellen underwent treatment where we injected Radiesse into her hands, restoring lost volume and making the veins much less noticeable. In addition to this, we treated her brown spots with the PicoWay laser. When I saw Ellen at her two month follow up visit, I knew we had accomplished our goal as Ellen was no longer wearing gloves to her visit. She held her hands up and was happy to point out that now her hands matched her face. Dr. Potozkin is a board certified dermatologist who has been serving the local community since 1993. His fully accredited dermatological and laser facility is located at 600 San Ramon Valley Blvd, Suite 102 in Danville. He is accepting new patients. Please call (925) 838-4900 or visit Potozkin. Advertorial com for more information.

Alamo Today ~ December 2016 - Page 27

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Barn continued from page 24

Ruth and Travis moved to the farm in 1930 and worked off the debt through long hours of hard labor and ingenuity. Among Travis’s inventions was a walnutharvesting tower that safely carried pickers to the tops of the tallest trees. He died in 1981. Ruth was forced to sell chunks of the farm for use by utilities and the building of new schools. In 1997, Ruth gave the remaining 16 acres to the City of San Ramon as a memorial to her husband. When she died in 1998, the City included Ruth in that memorial. The nearby David and Eliza Glass House, built in 1877, was moved to the property for preservation. In 2002, Forest Home Farms was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historical Resources. Holiday on the Farm, a popular annual event, happens on Saturday, December 10 from 11am-3pm. Sponsored by SRHF in cooperation with the City of San Ramon, the festival features photo opportunities with Santa in his sleigh and live reindeer. Stuff-a-bear, old-fashioned games, bargain-priced gently used ornaments, a puppet show, and food are all part of the fun. The Gift Shoppe will be open with special holiday items. The Glass House, decorated for the season, will be open for tours. Forest Home Farms Historic Park at 19953 San Ramon Valley Boulevard, San Ramon is open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-4pm. Saturdays 11am-2pm free Fun on the Farm events for the whole family are available. The Welcome Center gives visitors a chance to watch a video of an interview with Ruth Boone narrated by Pat Boom. (The video is also available on YouTube.) The Gift Shoppe offering an ever-changing selection of items for all ages is open Saturdays from 11am to 2pm. Proceeds help SRHF fund special projects including the Russell Barn restoration. A plaque will be installed in the renovated barn with the names of generous donors of $1,000 or more to the Barn Restoration Fund. Contributors of $100 or more will receive a Foundation Farmers Market Bag. Pledge cards are available in the Welcome Center. Contributions can be mailed to SRHF, PO. Box 1, San Ramon, CA 94583. For information on SRHF visit For a complete schedule of events or to schedule a Forest Home Farms or Glass tour or program, visit www. and click on Parks.

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Page 28 - December 2016 ~ Alamo Today

Your Personal Nutritionist How to Survive the Holiday Season Without Gaining Weight By Linda Michaelis RD, MS

This time of year I often hear my clients say, “How can I enjoy the holidays without overeating and gaining weight?” or “Oh! I will just start dieting again on January 1st,” or “How can I say ‘no’ to all of the goodies offered?” Below are a few tips that have proven successful. The key to success during the holiday madness is to become mindful of your eating. What does this mean? This means developing a moment-to-moment awareness of what you are eating. It means paying attention to your thoughts about the food, taste, aroma, and sensation in your mouth. It means becoming aware of how you eat and then what you eat. For example, when you are eating quickly without savoring your food and then rapidly taking another serving, you are not eating mindfully. When you first arrive at a party and prepare a plate, think, “Do I really like this food? Is it one of my favorites, and is it as good as I thought it would be?” This is mindful eating. Practice moderation, not deprivation, because deprivation will only cause a backlash of bingeing and overeating. Some of my clients are chronic dieters who are so focused on the role that food plays in losing weight that they do not allow themselves to enjoy food. I teach all of my clients to enjoy holiday parties and to learn that occasional overeating does not mean instant weight gain. The day after the occasional overeating, you will find that if you return to eating mindfully, you will be eating less. Too many people throw in the towel when they overeat at a party and get upset with themselves and end up overeating again. One effective tool to mindful eating is to observe what you do with your silverware when you are eating. Do you keep it in your hand the entire meal, or do you put it down between bites? Do you prepare another bite while you are still chewing? You are not eating mindfully when your attention is on the next bite instead of focusing on what is in your mouth. Put your utensils down when you are chewing.

Menopause Matters

By Timothy Leach, MD, FACOG, CNMP

In upcoming columns I will review what happens to lower genitourinary tissues like the vagina and bladder when a woman’s circulating estrogen goes away. In prior columns I reviewed the time frames for the menopausal transition and defined menopause as starting 12 months after a woman’s final menstrual period (FMP). Hot flashes, typically the most common symptom that women associate with the menopausal transition, go away in over 90% of women within 5-7 years. What many women don’t associate with their FMP are the changes that occur in the vagina and bladder that may not be noticed until five years after their FMP. Unlike hot flashes which often go away, bothersome changes in the vagina and bladder don’t get better with time. Anatomic and physiologic changes in the vagina associated with menopause are directly related to reduced circulating estrogen levels and aging. The high concentration of estrogen receptors in the vagina and the opening of the vagina modulates tissue health. Low levels of circulating estrogen after menopause results in physiologic, biologic, and clinical changes in the vagina and bladder. Anatomic changes include reduced collagen and elastin and thinning of the tissues which can cause altered appearance and function. The smaller/inner labial lips can become thin and regress, causing the opening of the vagina to retract and become narrow, all which can result in pain with intimacy. Physiologic changes can result in fewer blood vessels and reduced vaginal blood flow, and diminished lubrication which leads to decreased flexibility and elasticity. These anatomic and physiologic changes can lead to decreased strength and increased fragility which can lead to daily discomfort or pain with intimacy. Approximately 20-50% of US women experience symptoms such as vaginal dryness, itching, burning, or UTI like symptoms from the anatomic and physiologic changes mentioned above. These symptoms can occur during the peri-menopausal transition when menses are spacing out or may not be noticed until several years after the final menstrual period. Women at high risk for breast cancer or those who

If you are eating finger foods, put the food down in between bites. Sit down and eat when at a party instead of eating standing up to improve mindfulness. Become aware of your hunger signals. Eat when you are hungry, and stop when you are satisfied. There is no need to eat until you are uncomfortable to enjoy the party. It is OK to say no thank you when offered an appetizer that you do not like. Do not overeat from pressure, and do all you can to be true to yourself and not give in. The number one rule for party eating is not to arrive at the event too hungry. If you do, you are setting yourself up to fail where you will almost inevitably overeat. Have a substantial lunch the day of the party, not just have a bowl of soup or salad. Have at least 4-6 ounces of protein and a cup of veggies. Skip the breads which you will most likely have at the party. Have tuna stuffed in a tomato or an egg white omelet with diced ham and veggies. If you are asked to bring a dish, bring one that will help you through this event. Bring a shrimp cocktail or skewered shrimp, roasted veggies, or grilled asparagus with balsamic glaze. These items will balance your meal, especially when the offerings are starch and fat laden. Make time for your exercise program. You can burn off 300-500 calories with an intense hour of exercise. Arrive fashionably late and create a plan when you walk in based on the offerings such as having just a few appetizers and two holiday cookies. During the holiday season I counsel my clients by phone or email. We speak often and I try to “hold their hand” through holiday parties. My clients give me an idea of what will be served, and we role-play the event starting from the beginning of the day through the feast. It gives the people I work with a sense of confidence to attend a party with a plan in mind. It is a constant thrill for me to hear how they have been able to sail through parties with even more enjoyment and without overeating. Nutritional counseling is often covered by medical insurance such as Aetna, Hill Physicians, Sutter Health, Health Net, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, UHC. Call me at (925) 855-0150 about your nutritional concerns or email me at Visit my website at for past articles. Advertorial have already had breast cancer are often prescribed medicines (to reduce future risk) which can have negative effects on vaginal mucosa. The old term to describe these symptoms was vulvovaginal atrophy, or VVA. The term VVA has recently been abandoned because of negative connotation with the word atrophy and that bladder symptoms were not mentioned. The current term accepted by the North American Menopause Society ( is the Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause, or GSM. Treatment of GSM should be made available to all symptomatic women who are bothered by these symptoms and are interested in treatment. Sexual difficulties and chronic irritating symptoms may result in ongoing discomfort and/or personal or interpersonal distress. Some women may complain of interruption of activities of daily living because of severe vaginal dryness, whereas others only complain of pain with intimacy. First line treatments include nonhormonal over-the-counter (OTC) products such as vaginal moisturizers (like placing moisturizers on your skin) and personal lubricants. A company out of Luxembourg, Pjur (, has a complete line of water and silicone based products for daily use. If non-hormonal interventions are not successful in ameliorating symptoms, minimally absorbed vaginal low-dose estrogen can be considered in women who have no medical contraindication to its use. Another helpful internet resource I share with patients is ( This professional website created by a gynecologist is devoted to genitourinary health in peri-menopausal/menopausal women. Next month’s column will go into more specifics about medical management of GSM. Visit my website at for links to resources and our Facebook page, Timothy Leach MD, for more information. My office is located at 110 Tampico, Suite 210 in Walnut Creek. Please call us at 925-935-6952. Advertorial

Is Food a Problem for You?

Overeaters Anonymous offers a fellowship of individuals who, through shared experience and mutual support, are recovering from compulsive overeating. This is a 12-step program. The free meetings are for anyone suffering from a food addiction including overeating, under-eating, and bulimia. The group meets Wednesdays at 6PM at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Lafayette. Visit for more information.

Alamo Today ~ December 2016 - Page 29

Alamo’s 1st & Only Pediatric Dentist! Alamo Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics Welcomes Dr. Allan Pang Dr. Pang completed his undergraduate degree at the University of California, San Diego. He earned his Doctorate of Dental Medicine at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. After Tufts he completed a General Practice Residency at University of California, Los Angeles. Thereafter, Dr. Pang practiced general dentistry in the community of Los Gatos, California for two years. It was during this time that he realized how much he enjoyed working with his pediatric patients and returned to school to specialize in Pediatric Dentistry. His residency in Pediatric Dentistry at New York University-Bellevue Hospital in New York City allowed for him to have extensive training in treating the well child and those with special healthcare needs such as children with craniofacial disorders and developmental disabilities. Dr. Pang has been in private practice since 2008. He is a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist, a Diplomate with the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, and a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

(925) 831-8310

Page 30 - December 2016 ~ Alamo Today

Natural Relief from Arthritis Pain By Dr. Kristin Moore, DC

The mild fall weather has started to fade, and the cold, stormy days are here to stay. Have you ever noticed that when the weather begins to shift, your pain tends to increase? This is a sign that you may be suffering from arthritis. There is absolutely nothing worse than getting up from a seated position and feeling like you are still hunched over. This is especially true when it takes you a good five minutes of walking to start to feel normal again. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to jump out of your chair and not feel the nagging pain? And wouldn’t life seem so much easier if you could get up out of bed and not hobble around for the first hour of your morning? Now, more than ever before, there are many natural, holistic treatment options that can help decrease or sometimes completely eliminate your arthritis pain. Arthritis is typically caused by uneven wear and tear on your joints. This is a normal process of aging, and most adults over the age of 45 have some degree of arthritis (wear and tear) in their spine. Unfortunately, there is no noninvasive treatment that can fix or reverse the physiological signs of degenerative arthritis. However, the symptoms (i.e., the pain or stiffness) can most often be reduced. I typically use some combination of the following three treatments to help to reduce arthritis pain. 1. Class IV K-Laser Therapy Class IV laser is a form of light therapy that helps to bring more oxygen and nutrients to the site of arthritis in order to help your muscles and ligaments begin to relax and heal. It also helps to pump away inflammation and edema that can build up around the joints of the spine or in the soft tissue throughout the back and neck. K-laser therapy is very gentle but incredibly effective at treating the symptoms of arthritis. 2. Cervical Spinal Decompression Non-Surgical spinal decompression can be used to help to distract and open up compressed spinal discs in order to restore proper motion throughout the spine. The treatment can also take pressure off of the nerve roots, and stretch and release ridged and contracted muscles and ligaments. 3. Gentle Chiropractic Care Gentle chiropractic care can be incredibly effective in the treatment of back COMPUTER SERVICES, IT DESIGN & IMPLEMENTATION, IT INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT

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pain caused by arthritis. Misaligned vertebrae in the spine can cause the uneven wear and tear on the joints, thus creating the arthritis in the spine. That being said, gentle chiropractic alignments work best for the treatment of arthritis. By using a gentle hand-held tapping tool in a very specific line of correction, the pressure can be taken off of the nerve and can reduce the pain. On top of providing the above services, I may also incorporate kinesio-tape, active release of restricted muscles, aromatherapy, as well as a postural assessment. My goal is always to help my patients reduce their pain as quickly as possible! Many times I will give at-home stretches and exercises along with diet changes which all help to speed up recovery time. The best way to find out if this form of non-invasive treatment could help eliminate your arthritis pain is to call our office and set up a complimentary, 15-minute consultation. This will give me an opportunity to ask you specific questions about your condition to help me to determine if this type of care is right for you. To schedule your consultation, please call our office at (925) 362-8283 or send me an email at My office is located at 125-G Railroad Ave., Danville. Please also visit my website www.alignAdvertorial

PTH continued from page 20

what I have; Help people in need and have fun at the same time.” In partnership with We Charity (formerly Free the Children), PTH supports school building, clean water, sanitation, and health initiatives in Haiti, Ecuador, India, and Kenya as well as projects in Mexico. Brianna Lane, currently preparing to graduate from the University of Southern California with a degree in Management of Non-Governmental Organizations, began working with Gaby prior to the founding of PTH. As a sum- SRVHS PTH Club members add wigs and clothing to new dolls for mer intern in 2015, White Pony Express distribution. Photo courtesy of PTH. she traveled with PTH to India to add space to an existing school. Brianna continues to volunteer with PTH. “Gaby wants children to have hands-on service experience. She believes your heart changes once you see the people you are serving,” Lane remarks. “For Gaby, the focus is not on fundraising or quantifying what has been accomplished. For her it is about improving the lives of others, improving the way Pledge to Humanity serves needs locally and globally, but most importantly expanding the number of children who have the opportunity to have the heart-changing experience of connecting with their ability to improve the lives of others.” An annual Gala is the major PTH fundraiser. Gaby draws no salary and all participants in PTH travel (Gaby included) pay their own expenses. The 2017 trip to Kenya is already full. Once a trip schedule has been planned, Gaby sends out the call for those on the email list to come to an orientation meeting. Sign-ups quickly exceed available space. A middle school student on the 2016 Ecuador trip asked to speak at this year’s September Gala. “Though it was not the most comfortable trip, it was arguably one of the best trips I’ve taken,” he proclaimed. “It was eye opening, fulfilling, educational, filled with camaraderie and fun, in addition to an opportunity to help others and achieve accomplishment.” Want to learn more? Interested in starting a Pledge to Humanity Ambassadors group or donating time, talent, or treasure? Visit www.pledgetohumanity. org or email or

Alamo Today ~ December 2016 - Page 31

A Path to Happiness

By Barbara Persons, MD, Persons Plastic Surgery, Inc.

Recently, a doctor friend was interviewing college applicants at an Ivy League school. When asked what the participants wanted to be, two separate candidates confided: plastic surgeon or investment banker. What on earth, I! These aspirations might seem similar: two careers, each offering the hope of success and prosperity. Shouldn’t we all pursue such dreams? I offered the best advice I could. “I know very little about investment banking,” I said, “but from my perspective as a plastic surgeon, I believe there is another choice you must make first.” I explained that long before mastering the field of surgery, a person must first choose to become a physician. I explained that this path means caring for people and finding joy in it. Any medical student will tell you that the moment they entered training, family and friends began asking for counsel. I am sure that most of my colleagues will remember those first years of medical school; everyone asked us for advice, and we probably gave it, thinking we already knew so much. That kind of enthusiasm shouldn’t change over the years, but unfortunately it sometimes does. So when I was asked recently about how to choose a career, I found myself answering a bigger question. Is it possible to dedicate oneself to something truly loved? And does that choice include a commitment to service and compassion? The answer is yes. For me, going into medicine was a calling. I became a physician for two reasons. The first was simple: a sense of duty. The second is one I hold dear: the wonder of forming relationships with people in their time of need. Some might describe it as a sacrifice; holidays, weekends, nights, and personal time are dedicated to help patients. But it has never felt like a sacrifice to me. Being a physician is honorable, and it offers me purpose. It gives me great pleasure, and although it is not always easy, there is at least one person each day who sends me home feeling good about what I do. Sometimes my job is challenging, but the most difficult moments pale in comparison to what patients feel when they are in pain or chronically ill. In my experience, many doctors forget the idea of what it feels like to be a patient. Separating ourselves can be a way to keep an even keel, but this risks alienating the very people we are trying to help. It is tempting to believe that work is better left at the office. “Don’t take your patients home with you,” I have been told. And although it is important to maintain a good balance between my personal and professional life, I do, ultimately, take my patients home with me. I think about patients in my car as I drive home, I reflect on them in the evenings, and I look forward to seeing them when I wake up in the morning. Medicine is part of who I am, and I don’t think of it as a job or occupation. Rather, it is something I have chosen because I believe in it. This perspective has actually helped me be a more energetic surgeon and a more complete person. It is thus that I think those of us with a stronger sense of calling are more resilient to that which is challenging in our profession. We enjoy what we do. It informs us, shapes us, and makes us better people. Becoming a board certified plastic surgeon took more than an a decade of training. But along the way, I was a doctor to my patients. I find comfort in the fact that simply caring for people is something I still do on a daily basis. Over the years, I have watched our healthcare system transform and policies evolve. Many of us feel swept up in the changes; we are not sure what to predict and how it will affect us. I hope that whatever system emerges will allow doctors to follow their calling, as I have done. I hope that if we have been called to serve, we will be able to do it. How will that happen? Who among us should choose this path? These are difficult questions. In the end, however, I have begun to recognize that even the most complex questions have a simple answer. For me, the answer is taking care of my patients and finding joy in it. I am so grateful to have found my calling, for it is one that inspires and rewards me in equal measures. I am a surgeon, but I am also a physician; both are roles I am honored to fulfill. Dr. Barbara Persons is a Plastic Surgeon and owns Persons Plastic Surgery, Inc. located at 911 Moraga Rd, Suite 205 in Lafayette. She may be reached at 925.283.4012 or


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Page 32 - December 2016 ~ Alamo Today

The Combs Team Professionals You Can Count On


I am delighted to deliver another positive Real Estate report as we near the end of 2016. I wanted to review what I consider to be the average Alamo family home of four bedrooms equipped with two to three baths and see if the upward market trend we observed since 2012 can be seen here as we near the end of 2016. At the peak, the 2006-2007 time frame, the average price paid for one of these 3,000 sq. ft. homes was $1,512,000, selling at a stratospheric price of $504 per square foot. Supply was low and demand was very high. If you recall those bygone days, the competition for Real Estate was so hot that in a typical sale you had to beat out four to five other bidders to obtain an Alamo home. The Alamo market declined, most significantly from 2007-2009. In 2010 the multi-year free-fall was showing signs of being broken and by the end of 2011 the market found bottom. Through the first 10 months and 16 days of the current year, the price for Alamo family homes has increased significantly compared to last year. The current average sales price stands at $1,593,000 compared to $1,469,000 in 2015. This represents a price increase of 8.4% over the previous year and pushes us $81,000 higher than the previous 2007 peak. Dollars per square foot increased in lock step from $487 to $530 for an 8.8% increase. For the year a total of 81 homes in this classification have been sold. Inventory remains low with only 14 similar properties currently on the market. They carry an average list price of $1,676,703 and a $532 per square foot price. The active listings have a list price range Alamo Family Home from $869,000 all the way up to Alamo Family Home $2,198,000. Alamo family homes $1,593,000 are selling at a rate of 7.3 per $1,550,000 $1,593,000 month. Current inventory sits at a $1,550,000 $1,469,000 $1,450,000 two month’s supply. This is still a $1,469,000 $1,450,000 $1,362,000 $1,350,000 wee bit on the low side. I do believe $1,297,000 $1,362,000 we are moving towards a more $1,350,000 $1,250,000 $1,297,000 normal market supply of between $1,250,000 $1,150,000 three and six months of inventory. $1,108,000 $1,150,000 A total of six homes are pending $1,050,000 $1,108,000 sale at this time. 1 3 5 $1,050,000 Years Last year I predicted our rate 1 3 2012-2016 5 Danville Family Home



Dollars Per Square Foot


$440 $420


$ sq. foot


$380 $360 $340





3 4 Years 2012-2016


92 5 -9 8 9 -6 0 86

Alamo Real Estate - Home Prices Up 8.4%



Call the Combs Team

This is Rockcliff Country

Average Sales Price Average Sales Price


Years 2012-2016

West Side Alamo, Mt. Diablo Views

of growth would slow 4 bed 2-3 bath homes Sales Alamo and inventory would in$ Sq. Foot Avg. Price Size Sq. Ft. crease. I was wrong on Year 2012 $ 379 $ 1,108,000 2923 both predictions. Inven2013 $ 445 $ 1,297,000 2914 tory declined compared to the previous year and 2014 $ 456 $ 1,362,000 2986 average price increased 2015 $ 487 $ 1,469,000 3118 significantly. I’m find- 2016 ytd $ 530 $ 1,593,000 3096 ing sellers are not really motivated to sell as their home values continue to rise faster than any other investment. I suspect that Proposition 13 and the advent of reverse mortgages are compounding the low inventory problem in the Alamo market. Last year’s interest rate increase taken by the Federal Reserve had a temporary dampening effect on the market that was shaken off as the selling season progressed. It’s unclear if the Federal Reserve will move rates up again. Are we in a Real Estate bubble? Nine years have passed since the big crash. Even with the recent run up in home prices, the average Alamo home has appreciated a mere 5.4% since 2007. That works out to be something a little more than 1/2 percent per year for nine years. Today, interest rates remain 30% lower than back then and average income in Alamo has increased by more than $10,000 per household. Add all this to our continuing job and population growth, small increases in new home building, and incredibly tough lending standards, and it’s a challenge for me to believe we are in the midst of a Real Estate bubble. If I were asked to characterize our current market, I would repeat last year’s assessment. “Strong” is the best word to describe it. May you and your family have a joyous Holiday Season and may 2017 be your best year ever. Happy New Year! It’s important to remember that there really is no “average” home and no two homes are exactly alike. Computer generated estimates of your home’s market value are probably wrong. If you would like a multi-dimensional analysis of your home’s current market value, based on years of Alamo market experience, please give me a call 925-989-6086 or send me an email For more Alamo and Danville Real Estate articles, please visit our website at

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Data presented in this column is based in whole or in part on data supplied by the Contra Costa and Alameda MLS service and other quoted sources. Joe Combs, Nancy Combs, The Combs Team, J. Rockcliff and the MLS service do not guarantee the accuracy of this information. DRE #0144125.


J. Rockcliff Realtors 15 Railroad Ave., Danville CA. 94526