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Aunt Helena

Aunt Helena

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Serranus Clinton Hastings' grave marker, St. Helena Public Cemetery

Monumental grave marker of Serranus Clinton Hastings, first chief justice of the California State Supreme Court and founder of Hastings College of the Law. He owned an estate in Rutherford and over 500 acres of vineyards in four counties.

Between the rapturous choruses of Handel’s “Messiah” and fond farewells to two wonderful people who chose lives of dedicated service, today’s (jumbo-sized) column has me feeling warm and fluttery inside. Or maybe it’s just that steaming mug of hot chocolate I've been enjoying …

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What’s a St. Helena Christmas without Craig Bond’s St. Helena Chamber Singers performing Handel’s “Messiah”? Tickets went on sale Wednesday for performances at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, and 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, at the St. Helena Performing Arts Center. Get tickets at the Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company or at brownpapertickets.com (search for “Messiah St. Helena”). Get tickets now for $25 or pay $30 at the door — assuming there are any left by then, which is by no means guaranteed based on past sell-outs. Thanks to sponsors Corison Winery and Rombauer Vineyards. (November 16 update: The concerts have been postponed to late April.)

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Warmest wishes to Rosa Cachu, the longest-serving staff member at the UpValley Family Centers, who retired at the end of October. She led twice-weekly bilingual playgroup sessions in St. Helena and Calistoga, working with over 200 kids and their families. “My time at the family center has been marvelous,” Rosa said. “The family center is so important, because it provides resources that people in the community need. I have had the great opportunity to serve the community and I have learned so much. Seeing a smile or getting a hug from a child is such a precious gift. I have been so fortunate to be a part of the family center." Jenny Ocon, executive director of the family centers, adds, “Rosa served the family center as a dedicated employee for over 20 years. She has been a great example of our guiding values in action. Rosa has worked with hundreds of local families, forming relationships based in trust, dignity, respect and cultural sensitivity, equity, and collaborative action. She is a gem!” (And lest there be any confusion, she is not the same Rosa Cachu who was recently injured in a major car accident on Porter Creek Road.)

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Goodbye also to the Rev. Anne Clarke of Grace Episcopal Church, who’s accepted a call at a church in Michigan. Grace Church hosted a special celebration on Sunday to see her off. I wish her the best and thank her for contributing to the Star’s Thursday Pulpit column.

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One thing to know about St. Helena High School's Cleo McClain — he can run! He broke the St. Helena track record at the Oct. 20 Cross Country Meet at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. And he's only a junior, so I'll bet this won't be the first record he breaks. Huzzahs to Cleo!

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Calistoga author Zia Wesley has high praise for UpStage Napa Valley's Playwright Festival, which concludes this weekend at Grace Episcopal Church. "Each offering was written by a local author and all were very well written," Wesley writes. "Between plays, the cast and director held 'talkbacks' where audience members asked questions and this proved very interesting, especially for the last, most thought-provoking piece. 'Pictures Don’t Lie' by Diana Graynor is a conversation between two Black professionals about the January 6 storming of the capitol in Washington D.C. and it sparked a lively discussion among the almost exclusively White audience. It made me reflect on my responsibility as a White woman living in a white-washed community. I believe we all left thinking about what we might do to support racial equality here and elsewhere." Wesley says the festival "might be the most interesting ticket in town for live, original theatre that is worth seeing, and at $20 (for three plays), the cost is just slightly more than one movie. The last series of three different plays runs this weekend." Get your tickets are upstagenapavalley.org.

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Dawn Horton sends word that the November meeting of the Upper Napa Valley Republican Women will be held on Monday, Nov. 8. There will be a meet-and-greet at 11:30, and the meeting will be at noon. "The speaker will be Andrew Bossert, who will discuss the withdrawal from Afghanistan," Dawn says. "The meeting will be at 3111 St. Helena Highway N. All Republican women are welcome. To make a reservation call Dot at 963-3151."

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Oprah Winfrey is out with another list of her Favorite Things, and the Model Bakery’s English muffins once again made the list. What’s their secret? Proprietary focaccia bread dough, cornmeal, and clarified butter are involved – I can tell you that much. If you’ve never had one, immediately drop whatever you’re doing (barring life-saving surgery or something of that sort) and head to the bakery.

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St. Supery’s Giving Tuesday Chats continue at 4 p.m. Nov. 9 with “Every Mother Counts,” featuring model, filmmaker and charity founder Christy Turlington, who advocates for equitable maternal care around the world. Get a free Zoom link at stsupery.com/givingtuesday.

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An eagle-eyed reader of the New York Times caught a fascinating local connection in the Times’ Oct. 28 front-page story about the controversial legacy of Serranus Hastings, a chief justice of the California Supreme Court and founder of the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law. “Mr. Hastings, who died in 1893, is buried in a cemetery in Napa Valley, where he had extensive landholdings,” writes reporter Thomas Fuller. “His grave is marked not so much by a headstone as a small monument, a granite obelisk that stands out amid the evergreens of the St. Helena Public Cemetery.” A photo of that monument is attached to my story. My compliments to Mr. Fuller on his comprehensive and well-researched story.

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Here’s an item for the 2022 calendar, assuming you have one already. Gary Fishman’s photographs will be on display at Brasswood April 3-30, with an opening reception on April 3. More details to come …

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My thanks to the county and the contractors who’ve expedited repairs to Silverado Trail and could reopen the road as soon as this weekend. In the meantime, please avoid unnecessary trips and, if you must travel, be patient with your fellow drivers as you navigate the gridlock.

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Aunt Helena shares community news and events from around St. Helena.

Aunt Helena shares community news and events from around St. Helena.

Aunt Helena shares community news and events from around St. Helena.

Aunt Helena shares community news and events from around St. Helena.

Aunt Helena shares community news and events from around St. Helena.

Aunt Helena shares community news and events from around St. Helena.

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