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It bothers some people, but I relish the proliferation of political signs right before an election. Vote for Dillon! Vote for Perez! Yes on C! No on C! It’s not visual pollution – it’s a reminder that we’re lucky enough to live in a country where we’re free to decide such matters for ourselves.

The closure of Sogni Di Dolci (soon to be replaced with a similar business) has renewed the ages-old (OK, not quite) debate over the best coffee shop in St. Helena. The Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company has a lot of die-hard defenders, but you can’t discount all those Model Bakery fans. An…

Young folks nowadays take quite a bit of heat for supposedly being self-absorbed and addicted to their phones. But I think a lot of that criticism is undeserved. Read on to find out about some local teens who are models of good citizenship …

When you hear about pirates, treasure, wine, romance and the upper Napa Valley, which classic author comes to mind? Do the letters R, L and S ring a bell?

With so much tumultuous and sometimes rather depressing news happening at the national level, what a relief it is to see St. Helena life going on as normal. The rhythm of White Barn shows (don’t miss “Vincent” this weekend), events at the St. Helena Public Library (I’m looking forward to Thu…

Has everyone wrung out their coats after last Friday’s storm? That was a nice gully-washer, wasn’t it?

The temperatures are up, and so is the volume of correspondence filling up my mailbag. Let’s get right to it.

Dear Readers, I have a new friend. He’s a bird I like to call Hector, and he’s established a permanent perch on the passenger’s-side mirror of my next-door neighbor’s white sedan. He’s there perhaps eight out of 10 times I look out my front window, bobbing his head and apparently having the …

My praise to all who organized and participated in Monday’s solemn candlelight vigil honoring Jennifer Golick, one of the victims of the Yountville shooting. It was a classy example of how small towns like ours band together in times of tragedy.

I had the pleasure of watching St. Helena Drama’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof” this weekend, and it was another winner from director Patti Coyle. The ensemble cast led by Frank Lenney, Mia Pelosi, Ileene Christianson-Torres and Hailey Peterson does an exemplary job with the oft-staged…

Is anybody else craving a good hamburger? The countdown is on to Saturday, March 17, when the remodeled Gott’s Roadside is supposed to open. Just like the food, chances are it will be worth the wait.

Am I the only one dreading my next PG&E bill, Dear Readers? My heater has gotten quite a workout during the last few weeks. I wouldn’t be complaining if we’d only gotten some decent rain with all this cold.

Another full mailbag this week. Keep those notices coming, Dear Readers!

Last week’s heat wave had me wondering if I’d suddenly Rip Van Winkled into the spring months. But no, said the frost that greeted me Monday morning. It’s still winter, albeit a troublingly rainless one.

Confession time: I’ve somehow never seen “Fiddler on the Roof” on either screen or stage. Thanks to Patti Coyle and the talented cast and crew at St. Helena Drama, that’s about to change. The beloved musical is coming to the St. Helena Performing Arts Center March 9, 10, 11, 16 and 17. Ticke…

It’s another full mailbag this week, Dear Readers, so let’s get right to it.

No time for preamble today. My mailbag is bursting …

What sad news about the possible closure of the St. Helena Catholic School – for students, parents, faculty, and all the Menegons, Trincheros, Mondavis, Morisolis and other proud alumni who once walked its halls. Let’s hope the community can save it.

The music has disappeared from the airwaves and the Boy Scouts have discreetly taken away the trees, but Christmas didn’t feel over until Friday morning, when I noticed that Vintage Home had cleared out their awe-inspiring seasonal window display. It’s sad to see the holidays end, but someth…

Aunt Helena is on vacation for the New Year’s holiday. Her column will return next week.

The mailbag was a little thin for my last column of 2017 — understandably so, since the folks who usually send me notes are enjoying holiday family time at home. But no worries — I still have a few choice morsels to share.

Christmas songs used to bring out my cynical side, but not anymore. After a year of political strife and fiery catastrophe, I cherish the buoyant strains of “Deck the Halls” and especially the minor-keyed grandeur of “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen.” I’m hoping those are on the setlist for Ma…

Happy mid-December, Dear Readers. The wreaths are hung, the stars and angels are atop the tree, and neighbors are swapping their grandmothers’ recipes for mulled apple cider, all equally legendary. What a lovely time of year!

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!

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