Bob Klindt – September 19th, 2011

I met with Bob at his home on Guntley Road between Philo and Navarro, nestled among vines just above the Valley floor off Hwy 128. We each drank some water and shared a plate of salami and cheese as we chatted away…
Bob was born in 1945 in Bozeman, Montana, at the nearest hospital to where the family lived in the small town of Big Timber. His father, Hank was from a German/Danish family from the Schleswieg-Holstein region between those countries who came over to the States and had settled in Iowa and Nebraska in the 1850’s. Bob’s grandparents, William and Henrietta, settled in Big Springs, Nebraska where William became a bank teller. They had six children and Bob’s father was the youngest of the four boys. “They grew up during the Depression and were very close. I have been around them and they are a bunch of goofy guys, always laughing together, with many memories of their antics growing up.”
Bob’s mother, Carol Ankeny, was from a primarily French family who had come over before the Revolutionary War. Some were ‘Daughters of the Republic and one was a French officer who fought the British in that war. “My maternal grandfather was in farming and always with plans to get rich. He lost everything in the Depression and then decided to look into the oil business, driving around Colorado and Nebraska and wherever he saw wildcatters drilling he would check it out and perhaps invest. He never quite found a good one and the best he ever got was some mineral rights on some properties… That side of the family was strict Presbyterians, very formal – very different to the Klindt’s. My mother was very matronly and became a teacher in Big Springs. My father went to pharmacy school in Reno, Nevada and became a pharmacist in Big Springs where my parents met and were married in 1939.”
First son Jan was born in 1941, by which time they had moved to Wyoming, and then after the move to Montana, along came Bob in ’45, sister Mary Ann in 1949, and Tom in 1950. “My father had some conflict in Wyoming when his local competition claimed his pharmacy credentials were not valid there so he opened a store on the Lodge Grass Indian Reservation, where drugs were sometimes secured by livestock as collateral until money could be found… After a pharmacy in Big Timber closed down, my parents got a loan from my maternal grandfather and opened a new pharmacy there. My Dad was the new business guy in a very close-knit community and it was hard to get accepted for a time. He overcame this by working 14 hours a day and always being available, day or night, for both his customers and their animals, if they needed drugs. He eventually joined the city council and was on the school board.”
“We went to church every Sunday with my mother. My Dad did not go but never discouraged us form going. He worked all the time. I went to the kindergarten there and some of them are still friends. It was the same gang of kids all the way through school, up to an including Sweet Grass High School – home of The Sheepherders! Yes, we had a mascot who was a shepherd with a corncob pipe in his mouth – that has caused some problems for some people in recent times. The town of Big Timber had about 1500 people, and the whole county, which was pretty big, had only 2500. Our high school was about 200 kids… I have many very positive memories of growing up there. Football was my sport at school when I would be a ‘nice guy turned angry’. I played full back and linebacker on defense and was the team captain… Academically I was pretty good, B average – it was a tough school, with the parents of many of the kids being well-educated from back east. The community was primarily of Norwegian descent, farmers and ranchers and in a beautiful spot with the Crazy Mountains to the north and Yellowstone to the south. Personally I was never into horse-riding or cattle work, I was a town kid although I did enjoy hunting for deer for a few years.”
“I starting mowing people’s lawns when I was about 12 or 13 and would drive the mower in the car trunk to my jobs. I also helped people to get the hay in at harvest time but thought there had to be an easier way to earn money so I did some house painting and went on to do that for two summers at high school and for two more when I went to college… Big Timber also hosted a rodeo every year – the biggest one-day rodeo in the northwest, with parades, a dance, and rodeo. It was a big deal in town and Gene Autry attended along with the top riders from around the country. They would set up ‘The Longest Bar in the World’ – four blocks long! Beer drinking with friends was a big part of my life in Montana; camping and drinking beer. We’d hunt for deer but the whole thing was more about being with buddies and drinking beer together. Later I decided that hunting wasn’t really a sport and turned to fishing – I wished I’d found that earlier.”
Bob’s high school years occurred during some turbulent times in this country and they played a big part in his life at that time. I was very interested in the civil rights movement despite only ever seeing one black person in Montana. Even though I had grown up there my opinions were different to those of many of my friends. I was amazed at some of their attitudes. Sometimes it seemed like it was me against the class and I was called ‘nigger-lover’ but it never went any further than that. I studied the topic at home a lot and was influenced by my parents and the liberal church that we were now going to – a congregational church that became the United Church of Christ, with young ministers, liberal thinkers on civil rights issues. It was a broad-minded church and open to discussion to their beliefs. I once gave a sermon about the church’s role in civil rights – it received a polite response…”
Bob graduated high school in 1968. It was expected that he would go to college and he went to the University of Montana. His older brother had gone to the campus, to the engineering and ‘cow college’ in Bozeman. “I did not know what I wanted to do except that I wanted to get away and did so, to the liberal arts school in Missoula, Montana. I took a double major in Economics and Political Science but was more into partying than anything else when I was at college. I was arrested for being drunk in public just two weeks into my first semester and my friends and I soon took full advantage of 10-cent beer Mondays at the pizza parlor, and nickel beer Thursdays somewhere else. I joined a fraternity, which made the drinking even more acceptable. I did o.k. in the first year but gradually my grades declined. My Dad had become mayor of Big Timber to collect the $100 month stipend that went towards my college payments. There was lots going on politically but my interest had faded a bit and I was not really involved anymore. It was a waste of time in many ways and I missed many classes but I did study the books and somehow I maintained adequate grades.”
As graduation approached, Bob still had no idea what he wanted to do. He had worked part-time at a paper mill in his last two years at university and knew he wanted to get out of Montana and experience more of the world. “A buddy and I planned to go to New York City but he backed out at the last minute. I graduated in 1968 and, despite knowing I’d flunk the physical if I was drafted because of a heart issue, I still did not apply for any jobs. Instead I borrowed some money and headed to San Jose, California where another buddy from the fraternity lived. I drove out there and turned up at his parent’s house to find out that he had left to go to the University of Texas. They invited me in and I stayed with them for a few weeks anyway.”
Because of his heart issue, Bob failed a few physicals for jobs he applied for until one accepted him – a finance company in East San Jose. For a time he became a debt collector and ‘Repo’ man!… In November 1968, Bob started a new job in social work for the Santa Clara County Social Services, earning $600 a month. “I started working with people I had been collecting money from! I had no experience and received little training but soon settled right in and made great friends in the department. We were like a family and I stayed there for fifteen years.”
During those years, Bob resumed some of the political activism of his earlier years. He was involved with Cesar Chavez’ United Farm Workers Union and their boycott of Safeway; he was part of the ‘Free Angela Davis’ movement that worked to secure the release of the civil rights activist; took part in anti-war marches; and became a union steward in the Social Services Employees Union. “Our union was very well organized and we won in two cases against the State that followed strikes along with nurses and transport workers.”
Bob stared to date neighbor Val and, following the birth of daughter Nichole, they were married in 1972 and lived in an apartment before buying a house in East San Jose. “I liked it there, there is much more to it than the appearance. My activism dropped off after getting married but I kept in touch with many people from that and my work during that time.”
In the seventies, Bob had taken up the hobby of beer making which moved on to wine making. “With Val, I made apricot wine and blackberry wine and in 1973 at the Home Winemakers Competition we won blue ribbons and the apricot wine won Best Fruit Wine in Show. We did it again the following year but it wasn’t very good. Over the next few years, we would get friends together and pick grapes and make wine in our garage and by the late 70’s I began to look for abandoned vineyards. We got hold of some very good grapes in the early 80’s as the hobby became more serious and we would always have five or six barrels in the garage. Then in 1983 Val and I were divorced but I maintained visitation rights to my barrels for a time!”
Now that Bob was single and, having been laid off following governor Reagan’s cutbacks, he made plans with a friend to open a bistro but had no collateral so this was dropped and he came up with an idea for an antique business. This opened in 1984 as ‘Time Bandits’ and while “it never made any money to speak of, it did o.k., although it did mean that our house soon became filled up with all sorts of junk… Meanwhile I continued to look for a place to start my own winery…”
In 1985 Bob moved to a new job at the Santa Clara County Medical Center. “Governor Reagan had laid off many social workers but due to length of service some were eligible for rehire. I was one of those and joined a training class being taught by Claudia. We were a lazy group who didn’t make much effort while she tried very hard to help us. I liked her but thought she was just not interested in me. We would all play volleyball at lunchtime and one day she knocked me down after blocking my spike right back at me. She helped me up and pinched my ass as she did! I asked her out to a San Jose Earthquakes professional soccer match and afterwards we went to the Saddle Rock cowboy bar in downtown San Jose. We had a great time and she was not just my boring teacher anymore. However, she still did not show any real interests so I pursued her until she relented and we start to date regularly, and we were married in 1985.” Claudia and her two kids by previous relationship, Kevin and Kelly, moved in with Bob, and later Nichole joined them.
The search for a winery was still going on and in 1989 the ‘Time Bandits’ store was closed – “it had been a lot of fun but there was no money in it. That summer Claudia planned a getaway weekend for the two of us to some place called Boonville. I had never heard of it. We came up with two friends and went to the Buckhorn brewpub and had a great time, ending up with me singing on stage. The next day we took a look at this property, then owned by Milla Handley (Handley Cellars Winery) and Rex McClellan. It was twenty acres with a house and a 1000 gallon wine tank. We all loved it and decided we would go into this together. Three weeks later our house in San Jose was up for sale. Our offer was accepted in the fall of 1989. Our friends backed out of buying the property, which we did alone, but we formed a company with them in a winery business there, each couple investing $20 K in that. We stayed in San Jose in a rental house after our house was sold – the kids were still in high school there. We came up virtually every weekend for five years before moving here full-time in 1994. Nichole was out of school and the younger kids stayed with their father in San Jose – they didn’t want to move here.”
Moving up the Valley was a “no-brainer” for Bob – “I had always kept my small-town mentality, I guess. It was very different for Claudia – she was from a military family and had lived in Europe for a time also. She had been a manager and supervisor in social services at a hospital and was on a good salary. I got a job in social work with Child Protective Services based in Ukiah and found out at first hand that there were some crazy things that happen in this county – it’s another world here. I was with them for five years until 1999, and after being the social worker solely responsible for the coast from Westport down to Gualala when I started; by the time I left there were four social workers and several aides covering that area. It was probably the most important five years of my life. Wine is just wine. That work was very hard but very important and meaningful.”
Over the next few years it got to the point when doing the wine-making and the job became too much and in 1999, through total exhaustion, Bob decided he could not give enough time to the job and retired to concentrate on the wine making. “I had also had to deal with the A.V.A. newspaper referring to me as the ‘Nazi child-stealer from Hell’ over a period of six months before the newspaper finally listened to my point of view on a certain case and stopped this false accusation… I still think about many of the kids and their families that I worked with in those days, particularly the reservation kids in Pt. Arena, many of whom were totally emotionally destroyed. I hope they have survived.”
Bob and Claudia soon made many friends in the Valley, in the wine-making business particularly – the Koblers at Lazy Creek, Alan Green at Greenwood Ridge, Phyllis at Pepperwood (now Esterlina), Pat Daniels and the Bennett’s at Navarro. “We have never had a huge social life here, mostly amongst the winery folks. We do attend many local events such as the beer festival, the Fair, various fundraisers. We have not had as many people over here as our house is not as nice as most of theirs – it is still a work in progress… We have always struggled financially here, ever since the beginning and we still are. We had a strained relationship with our partners and eventually bought them out. They were the marketing side and we are not very good at that unfortunately… Then there was a period of time when a movement began trying to stop wineries on this road and the rest of Holmes Ranch. It was frustrating but seems to have stopped at this point. We had a tasting room nearby at the Floodgate for a year or so then shared one with other wineries in Boonville for four years or so before returning to our own again in 2005 at the Floodgate. This has helped in some ways but does mean more costs. Small wineries are always going to struggle… I was a volunteer for the fire department for three years or so before my heart issues surfaced once more and I have had three major hospitalizations but feel ok now and hope to get lots of jobs done around here this year, ones that have been on hold for a long time…”
I asked Bob for a verbal image of his father. “Always working – either at the pharmacy or on the house or at meetings. We were not close and did not buddy- around but I had great respect for him and had no sense of alienation. My parents were very social and were at the center of the town’s community and progress. My Dad led groups to get lights for the sports fields, for cable television in town, for a sewage plant and landfill, when prior to that it was all dumped into the river”… And his mother? “Very patient and tolerant. She raised us and was a great cook – she told me about the birds and the bees.”
I asked Bob for the reasons he liked the Valley. “It is small like Big Timber. The sense of community”… And dislikes? “It is very isolated from many cultural events. The continued antagonism with some people on Holmes Ranch.”
What about Bob’s responses to various Valley issues?… The wineries and their impact? – “They have had a positive impact in terms of providing jobs and income. It seems that young people were leaving but in recent years there has been a steady increase as they find work in tasting rooms. Tourism is about the same I would say but there are more wineries sharing that business now”… The A.V.A. newspaper? – “I don’t like it. They never seem to check the facts, or at least they never used to. However, we do like to check in with local events and people so every so often we say we should start buying it again”… KZYX & Z local public radio? – “I don’t listen that much”… The school system? – ‘It seems to be a decent school with dedicated teachers but….”… Marijuana and drugs in the Valley? – “It has gotten out of hand. It seems to be a major talking point and the county’s reputation is centered on it. Lots of people seem to be sitting around most of the time and growing pot, seeing it as an easy way to make some money. I am not against it and legalization should happen. Methamphetamines are a different issue of course…”
To end the interview, as I do each week, I posed a few obvious and some not-so-obvious questions to Bob and asked him to just reply as spontaneously as possible…
1. What excites you; makes you smile; gets your juices flowing creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “Enjoying the view from our deck with a glass of wine or beer. This is a beautiful place.”
2. What annoys you; brings you down; turns you off creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “Having to worry about finances.”
3. What sound or noise do you love? – “The ‘cha-ching’ of a cash till!… Making Zinfandel while listening to rock and roll, or Pinot Noir listening to jazz or classical music.”
4. What sound or noise do you hate? – “The humming of a computer – it reminds me I have things to do.”
5. What is your favorite food or meal? – “Braised short ribs.”
6. If you could meet one person dead or alive, one on one for a conversation, who would that person be? – “Cesar Chavez or Martin Luther King – people dedicated to their cause and struggle.”
7. If you were sitting at home and a fire broke out in the building, what three things would you make sure you took with you? – “My computer – my life is on there! Art work we have here, old family photographs.”
8. Do you have a favorite film/song/book or one that has influenced you? – “The movie would be ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Wolfe?’ with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. I like challenging films like that; a book would be ‘Catch 22’ by Joseph Heller or ‘The Magus’ by John Fowles; a song – perhaps ‘Aquarius’ from Hair or Scott McKenzie’s ‘San Francisco’… I have lots of memories from those days of the late sixties of going to the Concerts in the Park. One of my favorite bands was ‘A Beautiful Day’ with Mitchell Holman, now a long-time Valley resident. I also had a crush on 1963 Playboy model Donna Ronne – another Valley resident in later years. I thought she was the perfect woman and there she was at a Valley pot luck one day, by that time working at the County Dump in the Valley.”
9. What is your favorite hobby? – “Woodworking – I’m finally getting some done.”
10. What profession other than your own would you like to have attempted if you were given the chance to do anything? – “An attorney. As a social worker I found myself often doing that sort of job.”
11. What profession would you not like to do? – “All day in an office.”
12. Tell me about a memorable moment; a time you will never forget. – “My first year in California. It was such a cultural shock and change.”
13. Is there something you would do differently if you could do it over again? – “I probably would not have started a winery of my own and stayed as a winemaker.”
14. What is something that you are really proud of and why? – “The gratitude shown to me by the families who thanked me for the work I did that gave their kids a life.”
15. What is your favorite thing about yourself? – “That I try to be open-minded to new ideas and people’s values.”
16. Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “You did alright. You had good values and tried to follow them.”

Published in: on September 29, 2011 at 4:53 pm  Comments (1)  

Keith Martin – September 8th, 2011

I met Keith at the A.V. Market in Boonville and we decided to have our chat in the relative privacy of the deck behind the ice cream store, a little further down the road…
Keith was born in Gridley, California, near Oroville, by Chico, to parents Kenneth ‘Red’ Martin and Lois Jones. The Jones family were German/English who had settled in the Carolinas in the late 1700’s and were part of a farming community. His grandmother was English and grandfather an orphan who had left the region to work in the oilfields of Texas, where Keith’s mother was born. “My father’s family is from a shady background and I don’t know much about them other than that they lived way back in the sticks in southern Arkansas. My grandfather was half-Cherokee, his mother was a squaw, which makes me one sixteenth Native American. My Dad was born in Texas, just over the border from Arkansas, and he worked in a lumber mill in Hot Springs, Arkansas.”
In the mid-thirties, during the Depression, both families had moved up to California, as they followed wherever the work was in the agriculture industry, as so many people from Oklahoma (Okies) and Arkansas (Arkies) did at that time. “They were the Hispanic migrant workers of their time, going to wherever the work was, picking fruits and crops, all the way up to the Bakersfield and Fresno areas. My father’s family settled in Gridley, a farming community and County Fair town of perhaps 2000 people on Hwy 99, where my grandfather became the foreman on a large ranch. He had four sons and a daughter – my father was the oldest. The boys all went into the military in World War 2, my father joining the navy. The Jones family, who had left Arkansas in 1936, settled in Gridley in 1942, buying a small farm on the outskirts of town, between Gridley and Butte. My mother was the oldest of three girls and a boy.”
Keith’s father did not the agriculture work. He had been a diesel mechanic in the navy but had always loved being a lumber guy and wanted to get back to the woods. He knew a family from Arkansas that had moved to Anderson Valley and acquired a mill across the highway from Jack’s Valley Store. They needed a truck driver and convinced him to come to the Valley. “My parents had met in Gridley and were married in 1947. He was a hot-rod and motorcycle rider, she was still in high school and her family were not sure about her choice of husband. Anyway, later that year, my father, his father, and my mother’s father came out here together. My father and his father-in-law stayed but my grandfather returned – he kept the ranch foreman job in Gridley for the rest of his life. I was born in 1948 but my father stayed in the Valley, driving trucks for various mill companies. Then, when I was six months old, in early 1949, my mother and I came out here to join him in the log cabin he had on land way behind the Boonville Hotel, at Eason’s Trailer Park. There were several trailers and the one cabin, where we lived with no water or electricity.”
Keith’s grandmother joined the family and they all lived there for about three years. “During that time my Dad got re-acquainted with many people he had known in Arkansas. Most of the migrants here had come from the same area of Arkansas, just as most of the Mexican community have come from the same part of Mexico. News had spread back to Arkansas about all of the logging and we had a cousin who owned a mill on Ornbaun Road – we were all connected but all broke!… My family became acquainted with Cecil Charles, the grandfather of Bill and Norman Charles, great grandfather of Diana. He owned a large mill behind what is now the motel on the east side the highway across from the Veterans Building. There were perhaps fifteen houses there with a family in each and they all knew each other well. Cecil’s son was called ‘Twink’ and he became a very close friend of my Dad’s. It was Twink who called my Dad ‘Red’ because he would grow a beard around Fair time and it was red… As Cecil aged, Twink took over the business and with he and my father becoming such good friends, we moved on to the Charles property when I was about four years old.”
There was great demand for a good diesel mechanic and so Keith’s father quit truck driving and became Twink’s main guy, his Mr. Fix-it. “There was not much work for most people in the lumber industry during the winter months but my Dad never stopped and we did not see much of him. In those days, the early fifties when may be the Valley had 1500 inhabitants, there were kids everywhere – where there’s Arkies there’s kids! I spent hours and hours in the hills on the east side of the Valley and got to know the trails and creeks very well. I went to the schoolhouse at the Veterans Building for 1st grade, then the school in the Fairgrounds buildings for my 2nd grade. My 3rd and 4th grades were at the elementary school and my 5th and 6th in the building next door, the old high school building. My schoolmates included Charlie and Wayne Hiatt, the Tuttles, the Wellington kids, and Wayne Schoenahl, whose family had the apple orchards where Farrington Vines are now – just north out of Boonville, past the first bridge on the right. There were very few Hispanics here then, hardly any actually, and I think I only ever saw one black person – a cook at Weiss’s bar and restaurant. My 6TH grade teacher was Jewish and that was unusual too…
“The Valley was still apples and sheep mainly, with very few vines. The bars and restaurants did well – Weiss’s, that was owned by old folks who were like my grandparents; The Boonville lodge, a scene of many conflicts in the days of the early Okie and Arkie settlers; The Track Inn down the street, and the bar in the hotel. We didn’t go to any of these that often, preferring to visit family in their homes, up and down the Valley, instead. I was not very good at school – I didn’t care about it until I had left. I would much rather be exploring the hills with the Rossi kids – we were always on their property, next door to the Charles’. I would help their family during the harvest of the hay and my Dad built the bridge to their house across the creek. He also helped put in the firewater pond on the property – used to spray the logs with water in the summer. For us it was a great big swimming hole.”
Keith had two brothers – Teryl born in 1952 (who died in a auto accident in 1972) and Scott born in 1957, and a sister, Helen, born in 1959. “This was a unique place in the 1950’s because the poor roads kept it isolated and therefore resistant to change. It was paved only from the C.D.F. station, just south of Boonville, to Flynn Creek Road – it was dirt road to the coast from there. The local people were expected to help with the road maintenance – the county didn’t do much. My Dad helped on that, both with the road to Cloverdale, Hwy 128, and to Ukiah, Hwy 253, which was also a dirt road before then, when it took an hour to get there with so many bad potholes in the road. Boonville was really off the track back then and tourists had to make a big effort to get here… Hendy Woods was not a State Park, it was privately owned and you could drive in there from behind where the Farm Supply is now, across a ford to where the parking lot for the park now is. The park is where the community used to meet for the July 4th Picnic… My parents both played music and would perform up and down the valley at various places from Cloverdale to Navarro, often at Weiss’s, and I have many fond memories of being there.”
Keith’s mother was a regular at the Valley’s Baptist Church, in the Fairground building, and then by the mid-fifties on A.V. Way next to the Prather house. His father was a member of the Odd Fellows Men’s fellowship who met in the building behind the Ambulance building in town – soon to be a medical marijuana dispensary. “He was President for a couple of years and would organize the July 4th Picnic and dinners at The Fairgrounds which the Odd Fellows would sponsor. My Dad still had his interest in hot rods and would build cars to race around the track at the Fairgrounds – it went outside the rodeo arena but is no longer there. I spent less time around town than many kids – I was a loner up in the hills, sometimes with Bill and Norman Charles. I would see my Dad maybe for an hour or so a day – he was always working. My mother raised us and she loved the outdoors and taught us a lot. She was our ‘teacher’ but was not very strict with us and, as we were in the town, we did not have many chores to do like some kids who lived on the farms and ranches.”
In 1960, the family went to Gridley for Thanksgiving, as they did most years. Both sides of the extended families still lived there and it was an occasion everybody looked forward to. They were gone for a couple of weeks or so and when they returned to the Valley the mills were closing everywhere. “It was incredible – within a year most of them had gone! The Charles Mill closed up and my Dad had no job. His brother was in Sacramento, working for Aerojet General, in the new space-related industry and my Dad found work there and we moved to Folsom where I went to a new school, which I did not like at all. We moved to Orangevale after a couple of years where my parents bought a house and I attended Bello Visto High School, from which I graduated in 1966.”
Keith did not like his high school years. He was a “nerd” who was only really interested in science stuff – the space race was on!. “I was an outsider but through my Dad I met a guy who worked at Aerojet who had worked with the German scientist, Werner Von Braun after his move to the States. I was only fifteen but we started a ‘rocket club’, building rockets in Sacramento and transporting them to Nevada and setting them off. We would go to the Black Rock Desert, where Burning Man Festival is held these days, and send these fifteen-foot rockets up into the sky. In 1964 we went to New Mexico and let off rockets and met with astronauts who were attending a conference, including Robert Goddard, a famous space and rocket engineer. I was only interested in this kind of stuff, or electronics at school. Then, in my senior year, I was to be the assistant to the audio-visual teacher but he died just a few weeks into the first semester and I got to run the small department with virtually no supervision. I got to build a lighting system for the drama department that was quite impressive. It was a big deal and made the local press.”
The local school district started a program for students gifted in certain areas and with Keith showing great promise in the new and relatively simple computer world, he was able to spend half of his senior year at school in one of these programs, thus skipping lots of the regular schooling which he did not enjoy anyway. “I was the teacher’s pet and I’d get to visit various company’s computer systems and check out their processes. I got to meet a professor at U.C. Davis who taught me a lot and when I graduated in 1966, the Bank of America asked him and others to ‘help this kid out.’ They sponsored me and I received an education sort of unofficially, by visiting places such as Pacific Telephone, IBM, and B of A, in the mornings after they had processed their data at night.”
After graduation, in 1966, Keith had returned to Anderson Valley and got a job at Philo Lumber for a year, pulling green chain – taking wood off the conveyor belt. “That was dangerous work but it gives you great muscles! It was well paid too. Our whole family moved back and Dad went to work in the woods once more. We lived in the yellow house that is on the edge of Hendy Woods, owned by the Gowans, a family I had known fairly well. My Mom had worked in the apple sheds for Cecil Gowan and I had helped her when I was at school here. Later that year, I moved on to Hollow Tree Lumber Company off Fish Rock Road where I ran the log-kicker but I then had a twenty-foot fall and had to quit the woods and returned to the Sacramento.”
To earn a little money when not studying computers, Keith worked at Rico’s Pizza and by 1970 had become “their sort of adopted son.” He learned the business from Rico himself as they expanded into twelve pizzerias. His parents had moved to Placerville with his Dad once more working ion the woods and when the opportunity came along to open a pizzeria nearby, in Camino, with Rico’s blessing, Keith was given the chance to run it. “That was good for a time but after visiting a friend of mine in the town of Helper, in southern Utah, I found that I really liked it there and, with Rico, we opened three restaurants in the area and moved there for a year or so. On our return to California, I moved in with Rico and his wife to their home in Eldorado Hills between Sacramento and Placerville and embarked on a series of restaurant ventures in the area… It was a crazy time and at one point, with Rico and his wife getting old, I was running four places.”
In 1972, he met Diana and they were married several months later. “She didn’t want to work and thought I was rich. Not true – she had to work with me. For two years we ran a restaurant in Chico before selling up and returning to Sacramento where she got a job as a legal secretary for the California Department of Justice and, after one last go in the restaurant business – at The Sutter Club in Folsom, a restaurant/theater venue for six months, I decided to go into the world of computers. In 1974 started my own programming business dealing with business payrolls. At some point I met a guy who had a telephone answering service for about 2000 doctors. We became partners and by 1978 had combined our businesses into a computerized answering service. I took over the retail part of the business – this was the time that Radio Shack was staring up and small computers were being introduced and I specialized in networking these computers.”
Keith stayed in the computer business for about twenty years. When not working, he and Diana, who had son David in 1974, liked to camp and would often come to the Anderson Valley area to do so. “The Valley always kept drawing me back and we’d camp at Hendy Woods. The Valley was home.”
In 1985, his wife’s friend, who worked at a bank, told them of a restaurant that the bank had foreclosed on and they decided to take it over. “It was in Cameron Park, near to the airport. It was a big operation, a classy restaurant/bar. We got it for $5K but it was a lot of work and we sold it a few months later. No more restaurants! I was strictly in the computer industry from then on, as a consultant contract programmer by 1990. A couple of years later, with my interests going one way and Diana’s the opposite, we divorced and I moved to downtown Sacramento, after always living in the suburbs. One of my clients was the title Company where Diana worked. I did a little work for them where I met Mike. He liked camping too and over the next few years, along with a group that grew to about twenty folks, we’d sometimes come to the Valley. In 2000, we were here and I told him how this was where I had grown up. In 2002 we were here once again and I noticed that the restaurant at The Boonville Lodge had closed. We checked it out and the owners, John and Candy, no longer wanted to run the restaurant part of the business – they just wanted the bar. It was a fantastic deal. I could not help myself and we opened Lumberjack Pizza a few months later. I wanted to do take-out only – that was enough for me and all that it was intended to be, but I just fell into the restaurant thing once again. We did not want to do six days a week, just three days of take-out – it did not turn out that way…”
“We lived on Ornbaun Road for a couple of years and then moved to John Scharffenberger’s property on Hwy 128 just north of Philo, in a renovated 1947 apple dryer where we have been for seven years – it’s like living in a park and we love it there. We made a living at Lumberjack for a time but the real problem was that we did not have our own lease and when John and Candy sold the business the new owner, Tom Towey, wanted to have the restaurant to be part of his business. We had to get out.”
In 2006, Mike went to the A.V. Brewery and in February 2007 Keith to the A.V. Market general store. “Mike did not like the restaurant business at all, and I was definitely done this time, or so I thought, once again… In early 2009, The Highpockety Ox, formerly The Buckhorn Saloon, closed after being unable to pay the high rent to the landlord Ken Allen, owner of the A.V. Brewery. Ken decided he wanted to open it once again – he had built the original brewery there and had run the brewpub in its early years of the late 80’s and early 90’s. He offered me 25% of the business if I ran it. I agreed, but had nothing on paper. There were many problems with the building, he hadn’t spent any money on it for years, and for a few months I fixed the place up, everything from the plumbing, to the heating and air-conditioning, to the flooring, and the beer system. We had an opening date set, May 10th, 2009 – Beer Festival weekend. I had even ordered the food. Then with one week to go Ken backed out and pulled the plug on the whole thing. I went to see him and he just said ‘No!’ I was left with nothing and just an hour or so later Ken was already walking through the building with a local real estate agent……”
Keith returned to his job at the A.V. Market. “I never really liked the business side of the restaurant business. My grandmother taught me how to cook and that is what I liked to do. I sat down one day and worked it out – I have been the owner or part-owner of sixteen restaurants! Sixteen too many I sometimes think…”
I asked Keith for a verbal image of his father. “A stranger. He was always helping others, not us. It is a big regret of mine that I did not get to know him better, although we did get some time shared together in his later life. I have perhaps done the same thing with my own son, David, who is Chico with his mother and we are not in contact”… And his mother? “A teacher. I learned a lot from her. Everything I like is thanks to my mother’s input. My love of music came from her mainly. I played the piano and learned the accordion when I was six – I still have one.”
And what does Keith like most about the Valley? – “I love the pace of the Valley – slow. And that you know everyone and that people care about each other. It is paradise”… And dislikes? – “The prejudice that still exists here I’m sad to say.”
I then asked Keith for his brief responses to various Valley issues… The wineries and their impact? – “Some good, some bad. I don’t like the absentee owners but have no problem with those that live here and contribute. If it wasn’t for the wineries this place would have dried up and blown away after the apples and sheep were done. I guess I view it as a necessary evil – the same way as I see the lumber industry – if done right it is fine, if not then that’s not good for the Valley”… KZYX & Z local radio station – “I haven’t listened for years”… The A.V.A. Newspaper? – I read it every week. Bruce McEwen’s court reporting is the first thing I read”… Marijuana? – “I’m not going to judge. I couldn’t care less if they legalize it – they probably should. As for the new dispensary planned here in town, I think that is nuts. There is no money in it here and it’s a bad location they have chosen because of all the controversy being created”… Changes in the Valley? – “Well, fifty years on since I lived here growing up, I have to day I liked it more then. It has sort of gone downhill but I am glad there are still some of the old families here.”
To end the interview, as I do each week, I posed a few obvious and some not-so-obvious questions to Keith and asked him to reply as spontaneously as possible…
1. What excites you; makes you smile; gets your juices flowing creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “My dogs – Milo and Bo, a chihuahua/pug mix and a terrier/Jack Russell mix.
2. What annoys you; brings you down; turns you off creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “Noise.”
3. What sound or noise do you love? – “The wind blowing through the Redwood trees.”
4. What sound or noise do you hate? – “Loud trucks or motorcycles. That reminds me – in the late fifties the Hell’s Angels came here two summers in a row and tried to take over the town…
5. What is your favorite food or meal? – “Prime rib – I ate it every night when I had that restaurant in Cameron Park!”
6. If you could meet one person dead or alive, one on one for a conversation, who would that person be? – “Robert Goddard – the pioneer of rocket science.”
7. If you were sitting at home and a fire broke out in the building, what three things would you make sure you took with you? – “A picture my grandmother painted on a piece of wood; my computer – too much stuff on there to lose; photos of growing up…”
8. Do you have a favorite film/song/book or one that has influenced you? – “A film would be ‘The Sound of Music’; the tune would be something by Beethoven; I don’t read much – my Dad was the reader. When he wasn’t working he would be reading. Perhaps a science fiction book by Ray Bradbury.”
9. What is your favorite hobby? – “Now it is working with stained glass – making model ships primarily. It used to be science or music growing up. I did get a senior letter for football but I never liked sports.”
13. What profession other than your own would you like to have attempted if you were given the chance to do anything? – “Probably something to do with the legal profession. I would like to have been a judge!”
14. What profession would you not like to do? – “Anything that involves manual labor.”
15. How old were you when you went on your first date? Where did you go? – “That would be with my wife to be when I was about twenty-five. Before then I was too involved with my computers and nerdy stuff and those things didn’t match with dating.”
16. Is there something you would do differently if you could do it over again? – “Everything! I wish I had known better certainly.”
17. Tell me about a memorable moment; a time you will never forget. – “The first time I flew a rocket that I had built.”
18. What is something that you are really proud of and why? – “Well, maybe proud is not the right word but the smartest thing I ever did was to get married.”
19. What is your favorite thing about yourself? – “That I am a ‘jack of all trades’… That I am a loyal person.”
20. Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “Go and give it another try.”

Published in: on September 22, 2011 at 5:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jose Luis Orozco Espinosa – September 3rd, 2011

I met up with Jose Luis in Boonville but because he had some watering of vines to do at his job with V. Sattui Winery, a large company in Napa, we headed for the vineyards that they own here, situated to the east of Hwy 128 at the south end of town. It was very hot but we sat in the much cooler pump house with Jose Luis in a very low beach chair and me on a large water pipe that led out to the vines, with a small table between us on which I could write my notes. ‘These interviews are not all glamour’, I thought!
Jose Luis was born on August 1st, 1961, which means he recently celebrated his 50th birthday. His parents are Jose Orozco and Esther Espinosa and he is the oldest of seven kids – four boys and three girls, with one brother dying as a child. The Orozco family is originally from the Mexican state of Jalisco, a big family that has always been in the farming industry, mainly agriculture. The Espinosa’s are from La Laguneta in the state of Michoacan, where the majority of the Valley’s Mexican community are originally from. They too have a large family, many of whom live here in the Valley at this point. Jose Luis’ parents met and were married, settling in La Laguneta.
“La Laguneta is very rural, smaller than Boonville. When I was seven, my father wanted to get a better life. He was not a rich man and we moved to a large ranch of over three hundred people called Arroyo Seco, near to Puerto Vallarta so that he could support the family better. My uncle lived there and he set this up for our family. I went to school there but I was a dummy and no good in school. Now I realize that education is important and if I had known that I would have tried harder. I played some football (soccer) at school and my parents made sure we went to church every Sunday. I still go now and believe strongly in God and the Virgin Mary. My Daddy was very strict. He tried to teach me to do my best and told me to be honest with people. I remember one day I took some chili peppers from a neighbor and my Daddy caught me. He took his belt to me and followed me back to the neighbor’s house and made me return them. It was a good lesson for me. I am strict with my kids too. My mother was more flexible. He is still alive in Mexico and he is still strong – working in the fields at seventy-six years old. My mother passed away a few years ago of throat cancer when she was sixty-two… I still do bad things that I’m not supposed to do but I pray to God for forgiveness. I am honest but not perfect. I try to treat people good – that is my intention. Sometimes I make mistakes.”
Jose Luis grew up thinking that if he could get to America it would be a dream come true. His Uncle Carlos worked here in Anderson Valley for the Mailliard family on their large ranch and he suggested that Jose Luis came to work there. “I had always thought I wanted to come to America. I knew I would like it here and the system of government is better than in Mexico. There are problems here too, I know, but it is more honest here… I have always worked here – with my Uncle at first, then Bob Lawson’s Christmas trees, then Gowan’s Orchards, then Steve Williams Vineyard management, and now for V. Sattui Winery. But I am not here for the money only; I like it here in many other ways.”
“I worked in Puerto Vallarta as an office boy for an architect who worked from a hotel on the beach. I just did his errands. His name was Eduardo Del Rio and he was very good to me… Then in 1979, when I was seventeen, I left Puerto Vallarta with my family’s blessing and went to Tijuana on the border. On nine nights over the next two weeks I crossed the border. I went through tunnels, across the river, walking and running over the road. One time when I crossed the river I nearly drowned. I cannot swim and when I fell down I went under the water and could not get my breath. There was somebody next to me who pulled me up. I don’t know who it was but I thank God someone was there – maybe an angel. Every time I was caught by the guards and dropped back inside Mexico – in those days they just did that, now they take people many, many miles back into the country and keep much better records of those they catch. Back then I came up with eight different names and they could not check things so well. There were no computers and fingerprinting was not done. On another night I was with my friend and we hid under bushes when the helicopters flew over and flashed their big lights down on all of the people crossing. They rounded everyone up except me. They were leaving the area and I was alone under the bush. I was very scared and stood up and shouted out to the border patrol guy, telling him I was there. They took me back to Mexico once again. I decided to give it one last time and that was the ninth – it was when I finally made it and I paid the coyote – the guy who leads us across and arranges the next step.”
Jose Luis arrived in San Ysidro, California and stayed in a motel briefly before going to Los Angeles where he was met by family members and driven up to Yorkville in Anderson Valley, where he was to live with is Uncle for a time, working there on the ranch. “I was very social in Mexico and had many friends. Now I have twice as many here. I like to be friends with people. If somebody does not like me then I will leave them alone. If somebody wants to be friends, then I open my hands to them.”
After leaving the job with his Uncle Carlos, Jose Luis worked felling trees for Lawson’s Christmas Trees in Yorkville, earning $2.35 hr and living in a cabin on the property. “He was a real good man – all of my bosses have been good guys… There were not many wineries back then in the early eighties – just Husch, Edmeades, Navarro, Lazy Creek, and some vines here in Boonville, just north of town, now owned by Roederer. After about three or four years I felt like I wanted a change and so I got a job with Gowan’s Orchards – mainly working with apple trees for $4.50 hr. I was there for fifteen years. James Gowan was the boss and I was his right-hand man, always with him. I moved onto the Gowan property and lived there. I always have lived where I worked – I have been lucky that way. Jim was a very nice man to me. I cannot thank him enough. He died a few months ago and I hope God has him in a good place.”
In the early days of his time here, Jose Luis would sometimes go out and have a few beers in town after work at Mary Jane’s Cantina – now Lauren’s Restaurant. “The Boonville Lodge was just down the street and there sometimes fights in both places. I went to them both and in those days there were lots of people who were not friendly, but I got on with everybody and had no problems. There were some tough guys at The Lodge – Ernie and Tony Pardini were two of them but they were o.k. with me. We were all young guys and a little crazy. Sometimes a few American guys would go to Mary Jane’s but most times nothing happened. There are few troubles these days between the Mexicans and Americans.”
Like many in the Valley’s Mexican community, Jose Luis visits his home country over the Christmas period and one year he went with his friend Jose Mendoza to Guadalajara where the Mendoza family lived. He met Jose’s sister there – Maria Elena. “I saw her and really liked her but did not say anything. In 1990 she came to the U.S. to see her family in Ft Bragg and I visited her there. I then sent her flowers through a friend of mine. She worked out who the flowers were from and I asked to her to go out with me. We started to see each other and I would drive to the coast to see her. I did that for one year – it was love, oh, yeah. We got married in 1991 and Jose Luis Jr was born in 1992 and Analilia in 1996. We lived on Gowan’s property in a little trailer. Once I was married I pretty much stopped going to the bars – we needed money and my wife would be mad if I wasted it at the bar. She got a job in the cafeteria at the elementary School and we both worked hard to earn money to support our kids.”
After many years at Gowan’s, Jose Luis was injured and almost killed in an accident with some heavy machinery. “I badly mangled my lower arm and wrist. I continued to work one-handed and pushed myself but that was no good for me so in the end, around 1997, I decided to leave and I got a job with Steve Williams who managed some vineyards in the Valley. Grapes had taken over from apples and sheep and we worked all over the valley in different places, managing vineyards and ranches. One of those was the property owned by Erin Weintraub and Anne Bennett. In 2004 this was sold to V. Sattui Vineyard and they planted lots of new vines. After being with Steve Williams for six or seven years I moved here and became the vineyard manager for V. Sattui and have been here ever since.”
“I have tried to go to Mexico every year but have not been in the last two. I go to see my Daddy in Puerto Vallarta and also to La Laguneta. I work many hours and drink a few beers after work but I don’t go out much. I do go out sometimes – to the Redwood Drive-In or Miz Potrancas Mexican Restaurant next to The Lodge, or sometimes Alicia’s Restaurant. I also have been to the new Buckhorn and like it… I do like to watch the adult soccer league that is played every Sunday here. I go to see La Laguneta play and really enjoy that. They were doing good this year but have lost a few games now. If you are the coach you have to get the opinions of the players and make a good team spirit. One day I would like to coach La Laguneta and I would include every player’s opinions – that can be good sometimes. A good coach has to know futbol and the mind… We have our big rivals, Valladolid, here in the Valley and we have lost too many times to them in the last few years. They are really good and they bring in players from other places to play for them. That is not breaking the rules but they are already good without these guys. I look forward to one day beating Valladolid. We have to learn from our mistakes in the games against them. Many of these games are close but they always just beat us.”
I asked Jose Luis what he most liked about his life in the Valley. “I like everything about the Valley. The way people treat me, the schools, the roads, my friends and family here. I am the guy who is thankful for everything – thanks be to God. I go to Mass every Sunday at 4pm and sometimes to Confession. I try to not have any cares or worries about the world and my head says go to church and all will be well.”
What was an image Jose Luis has of his father? “A real tough man; a good man. He tried his best to make me a good man”… And his mother? “She was always on my side.”
I now asked Jose Luis for his brief thoughts on various Valley talking points… The wineries and their impact? – “They are good for the economy of the Valley and bring in the tourists and their money. Most of them treat their workers well. Sometimes the workers are wrong – when they will not stop work in the hot sun. People think that the bosses are making them work but they are not. We are told we can go home in that kind of heat but the guys say ‘No’ – they want to work and get the money. It is a situation that is not good for them or the owners. The owners should force them to stop – some of the wineries are too ‘flexible’ about this and that is dangerous”… The A.V.A. newspaper? – “I like it and read it. I like the local pages”… KZYX & Z local public radio? – “I listen sometimes”… The schools? – The schools are very good – the kids get a good service there. There are lots of people looking to solve the drug problems there They seem to be doing a good job and the drug use is down but still a problem, I think”… Drugs in the Valley? – Marijuana is a miracle cure for some people, for others it helps them relax. It is legal in some ways so if this is a free country and it makes you feel a little better then, as adults, you should be able to smoke a little. Kids start smoking it too early though and want to experiment at a young age and sometimes it leads to other drugs. I’m talking about the meth here, that is a dangerous thing and can ruin brains.”
To end the interview, as I have being doing each week, I posed a few questions to my guest. Some of these are from a questionnaire featured on television’s “Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton” and some I came up with myself many months ago. I have also recently added a few more new questions and hopefully you will find Jose’s answers interesting and illuminating…
1. What excites you; makes you smile; gets your juices flowing creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “I believe that if I am angry I must stop that feeling. I feel very comfortable in this world. I love life, everything about it.”
2. What annoys you; brings you down; turns you off creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “If somebody confronts me… Or if I wave at someone and they ignore me.”
3. What sound or noise do you love? – “I love the sound of Mexican music… American country music too – Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.”
4. What sound or noise do you hate? – “Loud music… Spinning tires and fast driving.”
5. What is your favorite food or meal? –
6. If you could meet one person dead or alive, one on one for a conversation over dinner, who would that person be? – “President Obama – my angel. I like him alot. I would cook dinner for him and share a few beers. I would enjoy that very much.”
7. What scares you? – “People with guns.”
8. If you were sitting at home and a fire broke out in the building, what three things would you make sure you took with you? – “My papers, family pictures…”
9. Do you have a favorite film or book or one that has influenced you? – “The film by Mel Gibson – ‘The Passion of Christ’… I am not a reader – that is my daughter.”
10. What is your favorite hobby? – “Movies and gardening.”
11. What profession other than your own would you like to have attempted if you were given the chance to do anything? – “Ever since I lived in Mexico I wanted to be a sheriff in this country, or a C.H.P. officer.”
12. What profession would you not like to do? – “I hate spraying but it has to be done.”
13. How old were you when you went on your first date? Where did you go? – “I was twenty-two years old. We just hung out.”
14. Is there something you would do differently if you could do it over again? – “I used to smoke too much and wish I had cut back on that… I wish I had done more education and found something more productive for my mind.”
15. Tell me about a memorable moment; a time you will never forget. – “When my son was born – the first. Before he was born, I imagined how he would look and that is how he was.”
16. What is something that you are really proud of and why? – “My family… My brother-in-law, Jose Mendoza… My job and making sure the grapes are healthy…
17. What is your favorite thing about yourself? – “There are some good things and some bad… I help people if they need help… If somebody is hungry I will feed them.”
18. Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “I think he will say ‘Welcome.’ So may be ‘You have done bad things, Jose Luis, but I have the scales here and the good things you did are bigger and heavier – welcome.’ He will know – he knows everything… “
“I also want to say a big ‘Thank You’ to all the people who have helped me in my life and who like me. I will hope to do the same for you folks too. I am always going to try to do the best I can.”

Published in: on September 15, 2011 at 5:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Deanna Apfel – August 29th, 2011

I drove a few miles up the Philo-Greenwood Road to the Apfel house where I was warmly greeted by Deanna and 12-year old Sheltie dog, Rosie. We sat down with some homemade lemon juice and began our conversation…
Deanna was born in Maryland. Her father’s family were of English/Scots heritage and had come to this country in the 1800’s. Deanna’s grandmother died when her father was very young and her grandfather remarried. Her father did not get along with his stepmother, so he left home in Ohio at the age of sixteen, never graduating high school, and joined the navy by lying about his age. Her Mother’s family were German/Austrian/Irish. They were farmers in Virginia and in the years before World War 1. Deanna’s mother grew up in Virginia where her father was the overseer of a large tobacco farm. “My grandfather saved his money and they moved to Pennsylvania where he bought a farm of his own, without my grandmother, seeing it. She said she would not move there because of the busy road, so he sold it for a profit. My mother was one of nine siblings – she had four older brothers and four younger ones. They said she had spoiled the perfect baseball team! And she did love baseball and was the only one with her own room as she was the only girl. There were always a ton of family and friends around and she always said she had a great upbringing despite not being close to her mother who doted on the boys.”
The farm was a busy place and the family all sat down to dinner together, often with workers and her brothers many friends. “My mother said there were frequently more than twenty people for the evening meal. It was a self-sufficient farm with everything from livestock of all kinds to fruit and vegetables, wheat, etc. It was in a small town near York, PA, about the same size as Boonville. Our cousins owned a farm nearby and we were always around each other – our vacations were even spent on the farm when I was growing up and we rarely saw my father’s side of the family. ”
Deanna’s father had become an aircraft mechanic in Washington D.C. after his time in the navy. Her mother had been a dental assistant out of high school in Pennsylvania and then went to beauty school and a job as a hairdresser which she didn’t like so she moved on to work as a telephone operator for National Geographic. My parents met at a dance and started to date, with my father staying in the boys’ bedrooms when he visited the family farm. He had three jobs at one point – as mechanic, a parking garage attendant, and handyman. They had talked about marriage but my grandmother was opposed to the marriage because she thought he would not be a good provider. My grandfather liked my Father. My Grandfather was a very sweet man and we all loved him very much. Anyway, my parents eloped and got married in 1938, and for a time they kept it a secret.”
After settling down in D.C. Dean and Reba started a family. They had three daughters Elizabeth (Betty), Dorothy (Dotty) and Deanna coming along after the war. “My mother was a ‘mom’ and Dad became a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. We moved to Pennsylvania, to Shiloh, a town near to Dover, when I was young and Dad got a better job as a car salesman. He was very funny and had a great sense of humor. His outgoing personality suited his job well… Then when I was three, we moved to Richmond, Virginia and Dad ran a pet store for a time before we moved again, to Maryland where he found work for the Navy Department. My mother was a bank teller when I was in 5th-grade. My father finally got his G.E.D. as an adult and, now in his thirties, he became an accountant for the navy.”
The family lived in suburban Maryland, not far from Washington D.C. “I bicycled to school and back, in fact I was always on my bike. I was a very social kid and there were many children my age in the neighborhood. We were always out playing and it was quite idyllic. Then, when I was about ten or eleven, two high school girls, both very popular girls in my sister’s class were murdered and their bodies found in the wooded section of the park we used to play in, not far from our house. It was the last day of school for them and they had been shot many times. This had a major impact on the whole neighborhood for a long time and I had a hard time staying at home alone. Actually, about five years ago, a classmate of the girls, who had been an outcast at school, confessed on his deathbed to their murders… After the murders, we were given a lot less freedom, particularly because no suspect was found. The park had been an important part of my life and now it was off limits. They cleared many of the trees and we weren’t allowed to go ice skating on the pond and school summer programs were cancelled there.”
Overall, Deanna had what was a life fairly typical of most white suburban families of the fifties era. “We sat down to dinner as a family every evening at 5.30pm and you could not be late for that. I enjoyed my elementary school and junior high years and did very well over that time. As a young teen, during the holidays and summers I was a candy-striper volunteer at a local hospital, among a number of other part-time jobs in department stores and five and dime stores. I had to clean house on Saturdays although this was not onerous – we expected to have to do our chores in those days. Dad had a quick temper so it was left to Mom to enforce the discipline and she would occasionally spank us if necessary. Then when I hit high school age I went a little crazy. In D.C. the drinking age was eighteen and we all had false I.D.’s at the age of sixteen so we’d drive into the city, just twenty minutes away, and drink and smoke. My parents had only ever taken us to a restaurant occasionally and that would have been a Howard Johnson’s so it was great to go to an Italian restaurant, drink some wine and then head off to a bar for the rest of the evening… This behavior had its consequences and ultimately my grades were affected in a number of subjects, dropping from A’s to C’s. However, although my parents were disappointed, the end result was never in any real doubt and I graduated on schedule in 1964.”
Deanna’s parents had not graduated from high school and her one sister had done some time at the community college so there was no emphasis from the family to go on to university. However, Deanna enrolled at the University of Maryland to study business but after just one semester she dropped out. “Again my parents were disappointed and told me they were never paying again for me to go to college. I was just not ready for it – not all kids are. National service of some kind would have served me better. I found a job as assistant to the bookkeeper in the office of a real estate developer in D.C. I met her son who had graduated from the University of Maryland and would start medical school in the fall and we started to date. It soon got quite serious although his mother, the bookkeeper, stopped liking me when it did. I left the job, left the apartment I had with friends, and moved back in with my parents. I took some night classes in shorthand and typing while there. This led to me getting a job at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore as an assistant to the treasurer. My boyfriend was now at the University of Maryland Medical School and we’d hang out with people, many of whom had college degrees, except me, so I took some more evening classes in liberal arts and math over the following couple of years. My parents moved to the suburbs between Washington and Baltimore and I would commute to work from their home until we got married in 1969 and bought a row house for $12,000 in Baltimore, right across from Johns Hopkins. We took a honeymoon month and traveled across the country and back, camping in the national parks. I had never been camping before; my family had never done that. As I said earlier, we stayed on the farm for our vacations. Visiting the farm was my summer vacation; farming is in my genes. Those were turbulent times in the U.S and yet I was not involved at all really. My parents were conservative and I wasn’t part of the anti-war movement, apart from being barricaded in at work one day by the protesting students.”
While in medical school, Deanna’s husband was safe from the draft but after graduating he was liable once again and so he took an internship with the Public Health Service, which was considered military service. He did an internship in Baltimore and a residency in San Francisco, part of which rotated through Tulane University. We had an opportunity to live in Alexandria, La., Columbus, Ga. and New Orleans, which was great fun. Good food too!
When he finished his residency, he began to look for a practice in California. “We almost ended up in Marysville, but found the perfect practice in Ukiah. We bought a thirty-acre property with twelve acres of vines and an old house south of town. It was a wonderful rural property and I was in heaven.”
Deanna soon made friends with a neighbor, Diane Shugart with whom she shared a cow that they would both milk every day for five years, one on each side. She worked hard on the garden and took classes at the community college, including viticulture, feeds and feeding, a butchery class, a pottery class. “We were also trying to get pregnant during this time but were unable to do so. Then we were given the opportunity to adopt and in 1978 one-day old Essie arrived. My husband knew a Dr. Apfel and his wife Susan, who had adopted too and I met with Susan and passed on some of Essie’s baby clothes for their daughter Lily who was thirteen months younger. When Essie was 3, my husband and I split up and I moved into Ukiah.
Deanna had attended the community college for her remaining credits in accounting. “I decided I needed a profession pretty fast and after finishing at the community college in1983, I went on to Golden Gate University to get an accountancy degree, graduating in 1985. In the fall of 1984, a friend of mine, an emergency room doctor, and I went camping with our kids to Hendy Woods in Anderson Valley in order to go the to the annual Mendocino County Fair in Boonville. The girls were on the merry-go-round when a guy walked by with his daughter and said ‘hello’ to my friend. She knew him as the local physician, Dr. Apfel, whom I had never met. It turned out he had been the doctor in the Valley since 1976 and his wife had passed away when Lily was just one year old. We chatted and it was love at first sight. I told him it was cold in the woods and he looked at me with his hazel eyes and invited us to come over for coffee the next morning. I had fallen for this man and knew there was a mutual attraction. That evening I talked about this with my friend and the next morning we left the campgrounds but were unsure of the directions and went the wrong way. We ended up a few miles further north on Hwy 128 at what was at the time Steve and Janet Anderson’s home – now the Blue Meadow Farm of Pam and Roy Laird. Janet, with baby Emily in her arms, obviously knew the doctor and where he lived. We drove up here and there was no answer at the house. I went in and walked through – Mark was outside at the back in the garden, surrounded by beautiful flowers. Be still my heart! We had coffee, exchanged phone numbers, and my friend and I and the kids went back to San Francisco.”
On the following Tuesday, Mark was in the City to observe a surgical procedure on the daughter of a local family. That evening Deanna was really not sure if he would call her as arranged. She was on the phone talking to her friend and the line was therefore busy. Meanwhile Mark was equally as nervous wondering if she would know him. Finally they got to talk and he came over for dinner to her house on Irving Street and 7th Avenue. “He came over the next evening for dinner too – bringing a bouquet of flowers, wine, and shrimp, which he cooked! It was all too good to be true. He even has a gift for Essie. That Friday I had a court date in Ukiah for my divorce and I met up with Mark at the Boonville Hotel – then owned by Vern and Charlene. Mark had arranged for a baby-sitter for Essie and Lily – Annie Stenerson. Essie and I ended up staying for the weekend. I didn’t want to leave – I definitely knew this was the guy for me. We saw each other every weekend either in the Valley or San Francisco where I lived and on June 1st, 1985 we were married – the same day as my graduation ceremony which I therefore missed.”
Deanna needed to work for 2 years for a CPA firm, which Mark encouraged her to do. She was hired by Arthur Young in San Francisco and they moved down to Berkeley in August for two years, where they bought a house and rented the property on Greenwood Rd., although they did visit most weekends and stayed in their guest house, a 100 year old schoolhouse. “We had lots of fun for two years in Berkeley – it’s not as frantic as the City but close enough to all that if you feel like it. We made friends, the kids made friends, and Mark worked in urgent care facilities in the Bay Area. I finished my C.P.A. qualifications in 1987 and we returned to the Valley for good.”
People were not interested in hiring Deanna part-time as an accountant; in fact after all of her efforts she never really did pursue this career. She became a stay-at home Mom with the kids in elementary school and took art classes by Paula Gray and creative writing with Jan Wax. “Mark worked locally and also worked a few days a month in the emergency room in Ukiah – earning more than I could as a part-time accountant. I did do one audit for the senior center but other than that I was a busy mother. I volunteered at the school and was on the elementary school site council for a couple of years. Socially Mark and I would go to the film nights put on by Eric Labowitz and Melvin ‘Woody’ Wood at Brad Wiley’s barn – that was a lot of fun. We also went on regular camping trips with friends the Goodell’s (Rob and Barbara), the Anderson’s (Steve and Janet), the Duvigneaud’s (Jean and Anne), and Rob Giuliani and Lee Serrie and would visit friends in the Bay Area too. Then our neighbor, Jean Duvigneaud, decided to run for school board and suggested I do so also. I did and ended up being on the Board for eight years. It was hard work and not an easy position to be in.”
As well as attending many Valley events and benefits, Deanna’s love of travel further afield has been an inspiration for one of her main interests – quilting. Her trips to Mexico, France, Spain, Egypt, and South Africa have been particularly memorable and more recently she and Mark have been to Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. A color and composition class with Paula Gray led to her being exposed to a book on Amish Quilts that really got her into that world. “I had always sewn, done crafts, knitting, embroidery, etc. Then the light bulb went off – ‘I can do quilts’, but not necessarily in the style of my grandmother’ – these would be designs with color, lots of it. I met Joyce Patterson who was in a quilting class on the coast and after I had made one I joined too and have now been in the Mendocino Quilt Artists since 1995. Everyone in that group has become an important part of my life and there are currently thirteen of us who meet twice a month. I was very pleased with the reception my recent show at Lauren’s Restaurant received. I am also in a women’s book club with people such as Karen Altaras, Denisse Mattei, Kathy Cox, Mary O’Brien, Janet Anderson, Jill Myers, Gail Wakeman, Helen Papke, and others. We meet at each other’s homes, there is no dinner, and we discuss the book for two hours. We do have an annual pot luck, hosted by Mark and me, to which husbands are invited and the Cheescake ladies host our Christmas party.”
Other than all that, Deanna is kept very busy in the garden and with the goats, chickens, and fostering of cats, not to mention Rosie the Sheltie dog and her volunteer efforts continue with her role on the A.V. Housing Association Board. “My mother was in assisted living in Maryland at the age of ninety-two – my father had passed many years earlier in his late sixties), but in 2001 she had a minor stoke. I visited her every few months or so but she decided she wanted to move out here and stay with us. Mark became her care provider and she decided she never wished to go into a hospital again. She lived with us for three years, a time that was very special and precious. She was always such a cheerful person to be around and she loved Rosie, for who she always carried treats around. She died peacefully just before her 96th in November 2004.”
I asked Deanna for a verbal image of her father. “Meticulous, handsome, totally in love with my mother, but a traditionalist in terms of the male/female roles”… And her mother? “We all adored her; warm, nurturing, funny. She had a great laugh and I always enjoyed being around her.”
What do you like about life in the Valley? “The sense of community is first; the natural beauty is important to me. I also enjoy the solitude and quiet, and that we are not far from the coast.” And anything you do not like? “The noise of logging trucks and that it takes too long to get to an airport.”
Next were Deanna’s brief feelings about a few valley issues… The wineries and their impact? – “Being on the Housing Association, I wish they would be more supportive of us and more interested in providing decent housing for low income workers in the Valley. We need land and buildings, not just on their properties for their workers. We are getting some help now and I hope this is the beginning of a more effective relationship”… KZYX & Z local public radio? – Fabulous – a total asset for the Valley and so entwined in Valley life at this point. I cannot imagine the Valley without it”… The A.V.A. newspaper? – “I don’t read it every week and when I do it’s mostly the Valley people section, local news, and the interviews”… The school system? – “They do the best they can. It makes me so angry, the lack of money spent on schools in California.”
To end the interview, as I do each week, I posed a few obvious and some not-so-obvious questions to Deanna and asked her to reply as spontaneously as possible…
1. What excites you; makes you smile; gets your juices flowing creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “Just a beautiful day – one that makes me feel like skipping. I often feel really joyous.”
2. What annoys you; brings you down; turns you off creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “Long, cold winters.”
3. What sound or noise do you love? – “Birds singing, the owls at night, the wind in the trees. The palm trees in Hawaii.”
4. What sound or noise do you hate? – “Dump trucks backing up to collect their load of gravel… all noisy vehicles on Greenwood Rd.”
5. What is your favorite food or meal? – “A healthy breakfast – papaya, mango, with yoghurt, and lime juice, with a little granola.”
6. If you could meet one person dead or alive, one on one for a conversation, who would that person be? – “Nelson Mandela. Traveling around South Africa in 2002 we could see and feel what he did for that country and it had a big effect on us.”
7. If you were sitting at home and a fire broke out in the building, what three things would you make sure you took with you? – “My computer – it has all of my photos on it, my quilts, and Rosie too, of course. I assume Mark is safe – otherwise he’d be first, or may be Rosie!”
8. Do you have a favorite book or one that has influenced you? – “I read ‘The Secret Garden’ when I was nine and it made me a reader. It was also the inspiration for one of my quilts.”
9. What is your favorite hobby? – “Well, gardening, I’d say… Quilting is a passion and even a necessity… Traveling too of course.”
10. What profession other than your own would you like to have attempted if you were given the chance to do anything? – “As a kid I wanted to be a nurse… And in my imagination perhaps a veterinarian.”
11. What profession would you not like to do? – “A job inside all of the time, and in a city. An accountant!
12. Tell me about a memorable moment; a time you will never forget. “Meeting Mark and falling in love.”
13. What is something that you are really proud of and why? “My quilting, my art. Having the show at Lauren’s and seeing what I’ve been doing for ten years or so.”
14. What is your favorite thing about yourself? – “That I’d rather be a giver than a taker ”
15. Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “Mark is right over here”

Published in: on September 8, 2011 at 3:37 pm  Comments (1)  

Floriane Weyrich – August 22nd, 2011

I met with Floriane at her home on Clark Road, on property owned by Roederer Estate Winery where she lives with the Roederer ‘boss’ – husband Arnaud, and sons Maxence and Mathis. We sat down at a table next to a window overlooking the vines and, with a jug of fresh lemon juice made with lemons from the tree outside, we began our chat…
Floriane was born in Caen, Normandy – a city badly bombed in World War 2, just ten miles away from the D-Day beaches, to parents Jean-Marie Mellion and Nicole Etienne. On her mother’s side the family is from an isolated spot in Brittany although her grandparents moved to Normandy after the war and her grandfather worked for the railroads. Her father’s side have been in Normandy, from Ecots, like Boonville in terms of size since the mid 1600’s, a rural family, although her great grandparents were tailors in the city of Lisieux, and therefore a little better off. The families were neighbors and both sides of the family were Catholic, attending church regularly, which is where Floriane’s parents met. “Everyone was Catholic – we had a few nuns in our family, and a priest too, and the whole town went to church. Normandy, in northern France, is very Catholic and I was born and raised in that religion – my husband, Arnaud, is from Alsace and was raised Protestant.”
By the late sixties, Floriane’s parents’ relationship was developing but her father was a pilot in the French Air Force. Eventually Nicole said he had to choose between the planes and her and he made his decision – they were married in 1970. Floriane was born in 1971. “My name was supposed to be spelled with two ‘n’s – Florianne, but my Dad got it wrong when it was registered so that was that. I have a younger brother, Gatien, born in 1974, and sister Charline in 1976. My mother got her teaching credentials and was a kindergarten teacher for thirty years. My father did just one year at college. In the early days he sold, installed, and maintained furnaces, started his own business when I was about seven, doing the maintenance of these large industrial furnaces for various industries from asphalt companies to large hospitals – they were huge appliances and it was a niche thing that he got in to. Both sides of my family were very working class and it was tough at times, although as kids we never suffered from it. I grew up in the city but when Dad started his own business we moved to the nearby village of Feuguerolles, only ten minutes from Caen but definitely in the countryside.”
“We raised various animals on our small farm – a few sheep, rabbits, ducks, chickens, geese, turkeys. It got a bit out of control and we ate rabbit alot! We started with just three sheep but it turned out that one of the young ewes was a ram! I had various farm chores on this small property where we also had potatoes, green beans… After our move, I did not go to the local school and stayed in school in Caen. I think I suffered from that, because this meant that I did not get to know the local kids very well at all. I did that for seven years until I was fifteen and went to high school, when the local children had to go into the town too as there was no local school for their age in the small village. I was a very good student, I must say. Good at most subjects although in France if that happens you are pushed towards mathematics. I liked art but was talked out of doing it by the teachers and counselors. My parents were easy-going and not pushy either way. I never really questioned what I liked – that isn’t the way in the French system. I took English and German and then Italian too. For the last two years at high school you get to drop a subject or two but still study several all the way to the end. I was good at math and enjoyed it but it was not my passion. I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up! I was good at school but the system was one where you are just fed information. It was very old-fashioned and not at all interactive. It is still more or less the same apparently and the kids are not engaged enough, in my opinion”.
There was no school sports – that is not the way in France. Sports are an activity you do outside school and you have to join a club of some sort. I took up horse riding out of school and that became my passion. The flat plains of Normandy are horse-riding country and Floriane spent many hours at the local riding school. My closest friends early on were my siblings and we were outside a lot, despite all the rain we get in Normandy… My parents had bought a 200 year-old house and there was lots of renovation work to be done – it took about twenty-five years. My friends in high school were not sure about visiting me there with the construction work always taking place so I mainly socialized at school, although with all of our extended family close by, much of my time out of school was spent with them.”
At the age of eighteen, Floriane graduated from high school and attended prep school to get her ready for the Grandes Ecole – a system of education higher than university, and very hard to get into. “This was in Caen and for two years I did forty hours of school and almost as much again for homework. It was very stressful and some of the teachers seemed to enjoy humiliating the students, both boys and girls, and some were basically sadistic. Many students dropped out but I passed after the two years – I would not wish that experience on my worst enemy. I guess they see it as a way of sorting out the best students – but unfortunately it is done in an eighteenth century style.”
During the summer breaks high school and the prep school, Floriane found jobs at work camps – similar to the Peace Corps. She worked in Tunisia, Belgium, and even in Arizona, helping on various projects such as castle and monument renewal and gardening. “You did not get paid but your room and board was provided. I enjoyed my experiences and it was a great way to discover other cultures. In Arizona, I was on a sort of commune, working in the fields and orchards and also in construction – hanging sheet rock and plastering.”
Floriane had specialized in biology, physics, and math at the prep school and she now moved away from Normandy to the south of France, to study at Agronomy College in the city of Montpelier. “I was twenty and with the studying so much easier in comparison, and with so much more freedom, I partied all the time. I took a biology and math major, studying viticulture too, and was there for three years, obtaining a masters degree in Food Technology. I had met Arnaud at the college, where he was studying viticulture, and we were seeing each other regularly before moving in together for a couple of years. You don’t ‘date’ in France; there is no process or protocol about what you can and cannot do at various times of the relationship. It is just not part of the culture. You do what feels right.”
In 1993 Arnaud, who was a year ahead of Floriane, had found a job with Roederer and was sent to their winery in Anderson Valley for a year. In1994, after graduating, Floriane began work at Perrier, the water company, as a research scientist in their facility near to Montpelier. She moved on six months later to a job in food safety with Dole – the dried fruit company. Arnaud was in the Valley during the phylloxera grape plague and he stayed from 1993-95 during which time Floriane came to visit and did some work in the laboratory at Roederer before returning to France in 1995. “Arnaud had suggested we stay in the States and I had said ‘Never!’ It was just too far away from home and family. Plus the Valley was too isolated for me, I thought. I did not know anybody as we had been staying in Ukiah. I took a job, based in Paris, working for the big retail company Carrefour where I was in charge of food safety for seven hundred stores. Arnaud returned and moved in with me. It is tough to be a wine worker in Paris and so he took a job in Quality Control, also for Carrefour. We both got to travel around a lot and saw many different settings and wineries. The job was not his dream but it was a great learning experience. I was on a plane a couple of days a week and it was a very stressful but we got to ‘play’ in Paris at the weekends. I was also still in touch with several friends from college in Montpelier and a few from prep school.”
Floriane realized that this was the way things had to be at the start of their careers. She and Arnaud kept the fact that they were a couple from their employer as traditionally this is not acceptable in retail and stores. Then she became pregnant and they were married in 1996, son Maxence being born in 1997 and then Mathis in 1999. “I took three-months off and then went back to work – the kids go to nursery at four months. However, the kids were always sick from the germs at school. It was hell. I thought about that small valley in the country.”
Arnaud had kept in contact with the people at Roederer and when they asked him what he was doing he told them and sent in his resumé. “With all the stress of the job and the issue of the kids health it was a good time to go. We were also sick and tired of Paris. Mathis became very sick and we had to get him out of there. With winemaker Michel planning to retire, Arnaud was offered a position and it was a great opportunity for him. All four of us came over in April 2000 for one year to see if I liked it. We lived in the Blue House on the Roederer property off Clark Road and the kids’ health improved and I was happy as a full-time Mom of a one and three year old. I decided to make it work and soon made friends with parents of other kids – the Klein’s, Jeanne Eliades, the Schulte-Bisping’s. There was a period of transition and the kids spoke French. They went to daycare with Ellen Saxe on Greenwood Ridge and were soon speaking English and French with an American accent!”
After a year the family returned to France and lived in the center of the city of Reims– a city of about 300,000 people in the Champagne province. “We had stuff in Reims and Paris, everywhere it seemed – we ultimately moved eleven times in ten years. The apartment was unfurnished and there was no parking with lots of traffic – all very different from our experience in Anderson Valley. I was rehired by Carrefour and worked from home while Arnaud continued his training with Roederer. We stayed for a year but returned to the Valley in August, 2002 and then moved in 2003 where we have lived ever since, in the two-story White House at Roederer.”
The two boys attended pre-school and kindergarten as Floriane volunteered at the school. She had received a generous severance package from Carrefour and this allowed her to set up a consulting company for the food safety industry. “However, it turned out that the regulations were not as demanding here as in France and my expertise was not relevant locally, although I did do some consulting for Roederer and a cooperage company in Napa – a French company with European standards. Meanwhile when Adam Springwater found out I was French he assumed I must know something about soccer so he asked me to help him with the Youth Soccer program in the Valley, which I did for a few years. In 2004, I also took on a radio show on the local public radio station, KZYX & Z, with Joelle Signorelli called ‘French Touch’ and after a couple of years I took it on by myself. I continued my horse riding with Brenda Stone and got to know other horse people in the Valley. It seems like in the last couple of years I am never at home, mainly due to my horse passion and through the school where the kids are always busy with something.”
Rod Basehore approached me one day and asked if the kids might be interested in being in one of his plays he does with the A.V. Theater Guild. They had done the drama camps with Charlotte Triplett and so they went for it. I took the kids to the rehearsals and soon I was involved backstage and generally helping out. It was for the kids – I had no ambitions in that area. I could never see myself on stage, never. The kids did the play the following year in 2009 and I did do one little skit in that, after Rod persuaded me. It was stressful but fun. I thought it was a one-time thing and there were no kids in the 2010 play. Then earlier this year Maxence said he wanted to be in this year’s play. Rod said he wanted someone for a small part so I said I’d read the script. It turns out the part of Honey Ray had been offered to Patty Liddy who did not have the time this year. The part was not small – it was a main role with lots of lines. It was Patty’s part and I am not that good. Rod said he felt I could do it. I started to rehearse and liked the cast and we were soon all really into it. It was a really fun experience I never thought I would have. Marcus Magdalena has taken over from Rod as director of the Theatre Guild and I look forward to doing some more.”
Floriane did lots of fundraising for the Elementary School and was volunteer chairperson for the PTAV. (Parent Teachers). This whole scene became a big part of her social life. Then in 2010 she became assistant to the director of the A.V. Winegrowers Association – Janis McDonald, which involves lots of work with the Alsace and Pinot Noir festivals. “It is part-time and just enough. I have stopped my involvement with the Elementary School and starting a PTAV branch at the Junior High/High School. I remain very involved in my kids’ lives. I have given French lessons to some people who have asked and we encourage our own boys to follow their French culture with books, writing, and food. I still do lots of riding, with people such as Anne Fashauer and Milla Handley and my horse is boarded on Holmes ranch Road at Sharon and Deborah’s place. He is sixteen and called Ricky. That remains lots of fun to me and I do it every other day, mainly dressage in the ring. It is very good for me, very therapeutic, almost meditative.”
I asked Floriane for a verbal image of her father – “A risk-taker. That is not easy in France. It is very different here.” And her mother? – “The opposite of Dad. She loves kids and is a great cook”…. And what does she like most about the Valley? – “I get to do things I never would have done in France. In this country you can fail and start again”… And what don’t you like about the Valley? – “People leaving.”
I now asked Floriane for her brief responses to a few Valley topics that frequently crop up… The wineries and their impact? – “Well it is one crop that can legally bring in enough money into the Valley to support the families who live here. It makes money off the wonderful land we have and hopefully does it in the right way. It’s too bad that there are so many absentee-owners of wineries – those that are run by people not involved in the community in any way. They make their money here but do not contribute and that is an unfortunate in-balance”… KZYX & Z local public radio? – “I’m glad it is here. I see that there is lots of hard work put in by many people and I enjoy working there. John Coate and his team have done a great job when you see the numbers – the station was in financial peril with $200K in debts but he has worked to bring that down to $50K”… The A.V.A. newspaper? – “When we first moved here I did not like some of the slander that was in there. The wineries have had some bad experiences with the A.V.A. and that’s too bad. There should be a more open and friendly dialogue between the two, and others also – the paper, the wineries, the radio station are all potentially great resources to the Valley”… The school system? – “I love the school system and remain very supportive of it. The teachers are dedicated and are inspiring to the kids. It is regrettable that people are leaving and taking their kids to schools elsewhere. My kids are doing very well in the local system. I like public schools – we had a revolution in our country to get them!”…
To end the interview, as I have being doing each week, I posed a few questions to my guest. Some of these are from a questionnaire featured on television’s “Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton” and some I came up with myself. I asked Floriane to just reply as spontaneously as possible…
1. What excites you; makes you smile; gets your juices flowing creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “Learning new things.”
2. What annoys you; brings you down; turns you off creatively, spiritually, emotionally? – “Complaining, whining people.”
3. What sound or noise do you love? – “Laughter.”
4. What sound or noise do you hate? – “Barking dogs at night.”
5. What is your favorite food or meal? – “Rillettes – goose meat – served cold. It’s like a paté.”
6. If you could meet one person dead or alive, one on one for a conversation, who would that person be? – “My grandparents on my mother’s side. I wish I had had time to ask them more questions about their lives, their childhood, their history, the war.”
7. If you were to be left completely alone indefinitely on an isolated island in the ocean, but with unlimited provisions, what three possessions would you like to have with you? – “A sun hat; a Swiss army knife; pen and paper.”
8. If you were sitting at home and a fire broke out in the building, what three things would you make sure you took with you? – “Family photographs and our pets – everything else could burn and be replaced.”
9. Do you have a favorite film/song/book or one that has influenced you? – I have many, but none that were life-changing or that influential.”
10. What is your favorite hobby? – “Well that would be horse-riding, my passion. I also like cooking. I cook a lunch and dinner almost every day for the family – we generally go to Lauren’s on Friday evenings for dinner. It is a meal each time – we don’t do sandwiches. It is part of what I regard as my family job.”
11. What profession other than your own would you like to have attempted if you were given the chance to do anything? – “A psychologist maybe, or a ‘horse whisperer’.”
12. What profession would you not like to do? – “A toll booth worker.”
13. How old were you when you went on your first date? Where did you go? – “As I said earlier, we do not do the dating thing. We get straight to the point. It is straight to the point, no planning.”
14. Is there something you would do differently if you could do it over again? – “I wish I could have found a passion earlier in life.”
15. Tell me about a memorable moment; a time you will never forget. – “The birth of my kids.”
16. What is something that you are really proud of and why? – “My family here – that we are still here after ten years
17. What is your favorite thing about yourself? – “That I am very committed and reliable, I do not flake out… People feel they can confide in me a lot – I guess I inspire trust.”
18. Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “You did a good job, Floriane, come in…”

Published in: on September 1, 2011 at 3:40 pm  Leave a Comment