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Sonoma County Gazette
Occidental Oriented by Gino Gaffney

Good Morning Occidental!

Feb 5, 2018


It’s currently 5:24 am and I am in the storm before the calm. No, I’m not talking about the local weather which thankfully has provided a few storms since last I wrote, balancing out a bit with the generally calm winter we’ve had. I am preparing to leave town (and country) for the next three weeks tomorrow and my body and mind are both in a state of storm.

What do I pack, how much can I get done in the next twenty-four hours? Those kinds of thoughts and actions are raining down on me currently. Mind you, this is a storm of my making and one that I am quite excited to be a part of.

The theme of this Gazette issue is “Love Knows no Boundaries,” and it comes to mind for me now as well. I love to travel, be it far away or close to home. Traveling can provide the opportunity to expand our boundaries, be it with experiences had, exotic food tried, or friendships made or strengthened. I have been very lucky in my life, traveling extensively since childhood. Thanks Mom and Dad, I Love you! A feeling that is very strong for me now, and one that I can remember feeling all those years ago is the Love of returning home after a trip. We are truly blessed to live in one of the great areas of the world. I absolutely Love my property, Occidental, West Sonoma County, California and all the people and places near and dear within those boundaries. Sometimes when we distance ourselves from the things we love, it can remind us how deeply we love them and to express that love more fully when they are close at hand.

My heartfelt condolences go out to all family and friends of Bill Wheeler who passed away on Tuesday the 16th at the age of 77. If you’ve ever seen his beautiful paintings you know he was someone who loved where we live. He will be missed greatly. 

February has several events going on at the OCA. On Sunday February 11 @ 4 pm. Occidental Center for the Arts presents Sandy and Richard Riccardi: Cabaret! Laugh along with the talented comedy cabaret duo of Sandy & Richard Riccardi as they combine ‘tastefully raunchy’ original comedy songs with progressive political parody plus expert musicianship to charm your socks off! $22 Adv/$25 at door includes chocolates at table. Bring your Valentine or your own loveable self to OCA’s acoustic ‘sweet spot’, with cabaret seating and fine refreshments for sale including champagne, wine and beer. Wheelchair Accessible.  707-874-9392.

Saturday February 17 @ 7 pm Cajun Mardi Gras Dance Party! with Suzy Thompson & Aux Cajunals. Renowned roots musician/fiddler Suzy Thompson sings and plays Cajun accordion, fiddle and guitar joined byEric Thompson, vocalist daughter Allegra plus other fine musicians for some foot-stomping, smoking hot Cajun blues and dance music. Suzy has performed with Louisiana’s finest and formed the award-winning ‘California Cajun Orchestra’ among other well-known bands. $20 Advance/$25 at the door includes Dance lesson at 7pm! Dance space available. Beads will be provided; costumes optional but fun! ‘Let the bon temps roll’! Fine refreshments, beer and wine for sale .

Downtown Sidewalk constructionWhile I won’t say that I have loved the construction taking place in town, it is nice to see the progress being made and knowing that it will help members of our community and the tourists that support it to be more safe as they navigate our little slice of heaven. There is news afoot that thanks are due to Supervisor Lynda Hopkins for making a verbal commitment to dedicate $50,000 of Tourism Funds for the completion of the downtown sidewalk across from the Firehouse. It will address the hazard caused by bicycles, pedestrians, and motorists all using the same space on Bohemian Highway. I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt for us Occidentalites to call or write to thank her, and to express our keen interest in having this project become a reality immediately.

By the way, my trip is to Panama where my Dad lives the majority of the year. It’s a wonderful country full of beautiful people and sights to see. My big dream for this trip is to get to swim with Whale Sharks, fingers crossed and stories to follow. One of my loves in life is all things spicy, and Panama makes some of the best. Hit me up when I return in the middle of February if you want to try some hot sauce I will be bringing home with me.

I have only managed to get on my bicycle once since the new year, but hey it’s a start. Perhaps I can squeeze in a ride in the next twenty-three hours before I leave.


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