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Sonoma County Gazette
Feeling Graton by Jennifer Butler

What's Going on in Graton?

Nov 23, 2017


Hello Graton! I hope that you have all had a loving and peaceful holiday season. Happy New Year! I wish you serenity, health and happiness in 2018.

I’m afraid that an usually busy end of business year with budgets due and annual reviews along with a particularly nasty flu has kept me out of town most of December. I didn’t get out much and when I was home, I was feeling so puny that I didn’t get to my daily walks with my woofie Sadie. Therefore, this edition is a light side of news.


 I do want to let you all know that Ellen Swanson has an adorable free library which she restocks regularly! Please visit 8893 Jeannette Ave up on Graton Heights. You are encouraged to stop by and check it out! Thank you so much Ellen for having this wonderful community resource.  


The big news is the corner lot is being reopened! I have been told by Katie Bowman that it will be a wine tasting room by West County family Bowman Cellars. A spot for locals to come hangout on a regular basis; listen to live music from local musicians, enjoy a glass of wine along with small plate offerings from locally sourced farmers and chefs. Also, both Katie and her husband were born and raised in Sonoma County and live just down the road. Katie’s grandfather is Andy Skikos of Andy’s produce. They want you to know that “We aren’t some big winery coming in trying to change the dynamic of Graton.... we loooooove West County and all of its unique charm” Bowman Cellars will be opening by February. The Bowman family are 5th generation Californians. They weren’t handed a family business but rather built it all on their own. I have talked amongst you neighbors and I understand our shared apprehension because of past experiences with non-local oriented business but I have a good feeling of optimism for Bowman Cellars. We do want the Bowman family to feel the support of the community. I wish them great success with a sustainable business that brings even more eclectic life to Graton. And one that we can all enjoy.


Jonathan and Maureen are very romantic. They have three anniversaries. There is the day they met, the day Maureen moved from Canada to SF and of course their wedding day! Maureen and Jonathan met August 28th 1974 while traveling on the Vancouver  – Montreal train. While the train was delayed in Calgary, sweet young Maureen and her friend met Jonathon who had been hitchhiking from Belize. Jonathan the longhaired poet from SF wanted to see the fall colors in Nova Scotia and he met Maureen because he was hungry and she was eating a delicious smelling chicken. So you could say that it was love at first bite! They met and hitchhiked all around Canada and eventually South America. Maureen moved to SF to be with Jonathan but found SF to just be too much cement. So they decided to move north. They first moved to Forestville where they had their two sons Aaron, owner and Chef of Al’s place in SF and Sean who is an illustrator/Animator. In 1987 they moved into a tiny house in Graton.

Sweet Maureen retired from nursing in in 2000 but then did social work as in Adult Protective Services. She “retired” in in 2014 only to become active in so many community organizations. Maureen gives to her community and volunteers much of her time! She is involved with Morgan Horse Ranch, Red Cross, and she and Toto (her cute dog), give their time to Pals Literacy Program. Maureen loves Graton because it is in the middle of her most “favorite county in the world”. She loves the people, being able to take many beautiful walks and be so close to the coast. She said that she in particular wants to thank the Graton Fore Dept. and really appreciates all the people who volunteer there. Maureen would like to see a downtown green grocer and a local eating establishment where locals are welcome her little dog too. 

Jonathan, is the author of over 100 children’s books. Beside the endearing Froggy series Jonathan has written many books always incorporating his love of nature. Jonathan is a very humble and generous person who is grateful for his success. He says that when he sold his first book after 12 years of driving to SF every day for a union job, he felt like he was floating 15 feet off the ground! Jonathan was born at Brooklyn Naval Hospital and moved every 1-3 years until he was 14. Called the “luckiest guy on earth” by his wife Maureen, Jonathan spent 3 years in Puerto Rico as a child where he would snorkel every day and rode his horse ironically named Lucky along the beautiful beaches. Surely this is where his love for nature and travel began. Jonathan, loves his life in Graton. He would like to see a healthy business that is for locals and is intimate, preferably one that has a pizza oven and offers outdoor seating where they can bring their little dog too.

Maureen and Jonathan are wonderful, kind and interesting neighbors who have contributed to raising so many of the kids in the neighborhood. Family and community centric and obviously still in love. Maureen puts it simply “I love to cook and Jonathan loves to eat”. Match made in heaven.


Oh my! If you have the Nextdoor App then you have read some interesting, amusing, heartwarming and helpful posts. You have also read some downright insane comments and very mean posts. So I am curious… has anything you have read or written caused problems between you and your neighbors? Has your relationship changed because of an interaction? If you have a story to share on how this app has personally affected you as a neighbor, I would like to hear about it as I will be covering it in January’s issue. Please e-mail me your story.


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