No dilly-dallying preamble this week, Dear Readers. Straight to the mailbag!

Like the proverbial old gray mare, our elm tunnel ain’t what it used to be, but we still love it as much as ever. It’s good to see Caltrans giving it some much-needed TLC, even if it means removing 10 dead and dying trees. Expect three weeks of one-way traffic between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.…

As I write this, the carts at Sunshine are full of tasty Thanksgiving fixings and you can sense the holiday cheer that always alleviates the chilly winter weather. By the time you read this in print, Thanksgiving will have arrived. May it be a happy and peaceful one, Dear Readers.

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Now this is my kind of weather, Dear Readers! Grab your umbrella if you must, but get out and enjoy these glorious drizzles. Much preferable to a 100-degree heat wave, wouldn’t you say?

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Thank a firefighter dog, check. Eat cotton candy while listening to the Saint Helena Community Band, check. Attend fire department open house and thank REAL firefighters, check. If only every weekend could be as packed with fun as this last one was. Now on to the mailbag …

When the history of St. Helena is written, the most recent chapter might be titled “The love in the air is thicker than the smoke,” to quote what quickly became a popular saying around town. To show just how thick that love is, let’s start with some fire-related benefits.

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St. Helena escaped the fires and normalcy is returning to town, but I expect the catastrophic fires of October 2017 will cast a pall over our lives for many months at least.

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As I write this, the threat to St. Helena is subsiding but not quite past. A few changes of clothes and my most precious documents are still stashed in a “go bag” in case of an evacuation. I’m taking big gulps of fresh air, having taken it for granted for so long. And yet my trifling inconve…

Words fail me, Dear Readers, when people’s homes start going up in flames. Our prayers, our volunteer time, our comforting words – I suppose all we can do at a time like this is be good neighbors.

Dear me! Haidi Arias, Tracey Perkosky, Megan Jones – a few all-star employees who worked on community programs have left city employment recently, and now there’s one more. The energetic Mari Martinez Serrano left the St. Helena Public Library on Saturday after five years. In an email she sa…

Q: What’s special about the number 6,033? A: It’s St. Helena’s official population as of 2017, according to a California Department of Finance statistic cited by the city. So we’ve officially crossed the 6,000 mark.

We St. Helenans tend to be wary of our neighbors in “Yount Vegas,” but I have to admit – they know how to throw a party …

On Wednesday, Sept. 20, the public is invited to “The Bracero Program in Napa Valley: A Two-Part Series.” Part one at 3 p.m. at Rianda House Senior Activity Center is titled “Hidden Stories: Braceros and the Homefront in Napa Valley during World War II.” The second presentation at 5 p.m. at …

Want to be a wine movie producer? Director/producer Rudolf McClain, known for his documentary about merlot, Merlove, has announced his new project about another wine varietal, Que Syrah, Shiraz, and a crowd-funding campaign. The fundraising campaign’s goal is $350,000. Donors are invited to …

The Napa Valley Wine Train will host a multi-course gourmet feast prepared by Chef Donald Young along with wine parings by Inglenook winemaker Chris Phelps at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 9. Tickets start at $269 per person. For reservations and more information, call (800) 427-4124 or visit w…

Readers of a literary bent can join local author and columnist Christina Julian as she dives deep into the world of publishing with her presentation “Author Talk: Book and Magazine Publishing Uncorked” at St. Helena Public Library, at 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 24. Whether you are a budding nove…

Have you been a part of the First Friday Social at the Thorn Hill Vineyards tasting room? If not, you’re missing out! On Friday, Aug. 4, Kristen Van Dyke was playing live music, Scott Turnridge was pouring Thorn Hill wines … I especially liked the 2012 cab, made from Napa Valley grapes … and…

It is official, Dear Reader: We have entered the colorful season. According to Napa Valley Grapegrowers, veraison has begun. Veraison marks the colorful transition from growth to ripening, growers tell me. The grapes not only change color, but also begin to increase in weight – a good thing …

Congratulations to St. Helena student Luke Myers, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts at the University Of Minnesota Twin Cities. Luke was named to the 2017 spring semester Dean’s List last week. To qualify, a student must complete 12 or more letter-graded credits while attaining a 3.66 …

Regarding the poor toddler who burned his little feet at Crane Park on Father’s Day, I headed over there during the Farmers’ Market and that bridge was already sizzling hot to the touch – and it wasn’t even noon yet. My best wishes to young Jorge Nicolas Cortes, who seems to be heading towar…

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The highlight of Calistoga’s Fourth of July parade, hands-down, was seeing a cowboyed-up Geoff Ellsworth, a member of the St. Helena City Council and a massively entertaining and good-natured individual, rocking away on an electric guitar and imploring us all to “Stay Cowboy.” To learn more …

Hello, Dear Readers, and welcome to July. I hope the fireworks show was a blast (it’s still 34 hours away as I write this). Happy birthday, U.S.A.

A package forwarded by the Star staff — how exciting! What could it be? A copy of prolific poet Eileen R. Tabios‘ new book “Manhattan: An Archaeology.” And what’s that tucked right behind it? A copy of “Blue,” written by Wesley St. Jo and Remé Grefalda, blurbed by Eileen herself. The first l…

Complaining about the heat will just remind me of what a nuisance it is. So you won’t be hearing a trace of whining from me, Dear Readers.

Wasn’t last week’s paper a hoot? Two pages of fresh-faced high school grads, a surprise party for the delightful Lisa Montelli, the heroics of rookie firefighter Elliot Bell, a splendid wedding proposal (congrats, Brian and Tasha), reports from the wine auction, a cute feature on Phoebe and …

If you’re not hungry right now, just wait. You will be. This column will be rich in gastronomic content.

Memorial Day carries meanings so deep and resonant that it needs no flash or trendy embroidery. I thank American Legion Post 199 for recognizing that fact, and for holding another dignified, classy ceremony at the cemetery Monday. The sound of “Taps” makes the hairs on the back of my neck st…

A St. Helena High School student, overheard on Monday: “The summer weather is here, so where’s summer vacation?” Patience, my good young man. It will be here before you know it.

Yearly rituals like graduation, Auction Napa Valley and that moment when one realizes that Main Street traffic is truly horrendous are fast-approaching, Dear Readers. The year is zipping by. The word “summer” even makes a cameo appearance in my first item …

My haul from the first St. Helena Farmers’ Market of 2017 consisted of strawberries, apricots, cheese enchiladas, spicy chicken tamales and (of course) popcorn. If you missed it, you’ll have another shot from 7:30 to noon on Friday at Crane Park.

Don’t you hate it when you rummage through your medicine cabinet for an aspirin for your headache, only to find expiration dates corresponding with previous presidential administrations? Hats off to Officer Fil Bianco of the St. Helena Police Department for getting a 24/7 pharmaceutical kios…

Last week’s police log was a sad litany of alcohol-related arrests, public disturbances, shady interlopers, and miscellaneous items stolen from parked cars. There was even a caviar caper, which seems like a more appropriately St. Helena-ish crime. So let’s all mind our wine intake, lock our …

No, Dear Readers. I refuse to accept that Haidi Arias, St. Helena’s recreation manager, is moving to Vermont at the end of April. The Pacific Union College alum kept the peace on the oft-contentious bocce courts, organized sports and camps for youngsters, ran the Teen Center, and even took o…

Let’s all hope these April showers bring some May flowers. I’m all for rain, but it should have the decency to show itself the door by the time the Giants start playing home games at AT&T Park.

Granted, it’s not ladylike to mention it, but the pinprick of perspiration under my arm last weekend reminded me that spring is finally here. May it reign in all its blooming glory.

You’ve got to put this on your weekend calendar … and beyond that, please attend. Word is that the Saint Helena Community Band and the Sebastopol Community Band will be playing a joint performance at the new St. Helena Performing Arts Center at 2 p.m., Sunday, April 2. This noteworthy event …

A tip, Dear Readers: The phrase “Ukrainian Egg Dying” is guaranteed to get your note to the top of my mailbag. Try saying it quickly and repeatedly. It’s delightful!

The only thing that could keep me cooped up inside the house with such exquisite weather outside is the writing of this, my weekly missive to you, Dear Readers. I hope you’re spending as much time out there as possible.

The latest issue of Editor & Publisher magazine has a feature called “10 Newspapers That Do It Right,” and my favorite local paper earned an honorable mention for its St. Helena Star/Napa Valley Vintners Tasting Panel, in which 20 to 25 grapegrowers, winemakers and other wine professiona…

I’m no sports fanatic, but I do get excited when the Giants start spring training. Maybe this will be the year they recapture the Spirit of ’14 … and ’12 … and ’10 …

My mailbag is bursting this week. Let’s start with an esteemed economist making an appearance in St. Helena …

Rad women, movies about women, a young woman making St. Helena proud — all coming your way ...

Cupid pulls back on his bow as Valentine’s Day approaches. May his aim be true, Dear Readers. So often we yearn for a blissful arrow through the heart yet get shafted right in the eye instead.

Infinite oodles of news and a very finite word limit in which to report it. Let’s start with some not-quite-ancient history …

What a week in politics, Dear Readers! Ready for some more? Then here you go …

No time for much preamble this week. My hopelessly spoiled cat is taking a few minutes between naps, leaving my lap temporarily unencumbered and freeing me up to write my weekly missive to you, Dear Readers. Writing my column and having a cat on my lap are two of my favorite past-times, but …

I hope you all weathered the storm safely. I managed to stay dry and, most important, warm and toasty – as I’m sure my utility bills will reflect.

January tends to be a slow time for community events, but not where the St. Helena Public Library is concerned. Gingerbread, literature, history, trees, art, one of the valley’s most genuinely exciting fundraisers – prepare for an all-library column.

What a cracking good storm that was last week! How ironic that just as water is seeming so plentiful, the price of the stuff is about to go up ...

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It’s starting to feel like Christmas in St. Helena, thanks to the Chamber of Commerce’s new decorations downtown. Wreaths and decorative signs on the electroliers, the holly jolly wreath/banner stretching across Main Street, the “I didn’t know they grew that tall” Christmas tree at the corne…

What do Christmas, hidden rocks, grass-fed beef and a little hound named Tiffany have in common? Why, they all found their way into this column …

Lots to report today, so let’s get started with exciting news for my fellow jazz fans. The St. Helena Public Library is hosting artist Carol Bowie and author Alicia Schooler-Hugg, the nieces of jazz legend Charles Mingus, for a discussion of their new book “Art & Soul of Jazz: A Tribute …

The Star staff tells me I have an early deadline to meet (something to do with the Thanksgiving holiday) so no dilly-dallying today. We have a train to catch …

My goodness! Judging from the woeful expressions on the faces of some of my dearest friends last Wednesday morning, one would think that their favorite team had been eliminated from the playoffs, their savings wiped out by an online scam artist, their Facebook pages hijacked by a hacker with…

I don’t know the outcome of the election, but I do know that by the time you read my column it will be over – and that in itself is cause to rejoice. I’ve undergone invasive medical procedures that were more pleasant than this presidential campaign. Here’s to getting on with our lives and re…

Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan (just typing that phrase is a pleasure) once recorded a tribue to Delta bluesman Charley Patton’s classic “High Water Everywhere.” The foreboding lyrics keep popping in my head during these heavy rainstorms. If you’re worried about rising water at your home or busine…

Haven’t the last few weeks been a blast? The Harvest Festival and Pet Parade, Homecoming, Rianda poker tournament, appealingly cool weather – this might be my favorite time of year in St. Helena. I hope you’re enjoying it too.

“There will come soft rains,” Sara Teasdale wrote. She didn’t mention there would be fairly heavy ones too. I hope everyone enjoyed the storm as much as I did. Homemade chai tea, a cat, a great book (“The Nix” by Nathan Hill), the pattering rain – I had no complaints, Dear Readers.

I live a wild life. Case in point: I spent three hours on Sunday morning researching the 17 propositions on the Nov. 8 ballot. I came up with five yeses, 10 nos, and two measures I’m ashamed to admit I can’t make heads or tails of. If only someone could help …

An orange flier showed up in the mail from Minister Carol Fink – we appreciate the ability to touch and feel an actual news release, rather than just receiving the information electronically. Anyway, the good minister is inviting all of you to an annual Blessing of the Animals at 4 p.m., Sun…

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