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Firefighters seem to have gotten the upper hand on the horrendous fire in Lake County. Even though it hasn’t burned as many homes as last year’s fires, it’s still caused widespread hardship for our neighbors. The St. Helena Police Department graciously stepped in and answered the call for Mu…

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I know it feels early, but school is already resuming. Wednesday, Aug. 15, is the first day of school in the St. Helena Unified School District. That means a few things. First, slow down while you’re driving and keep an extra-close eye out for kids walking to and from school. Second, conside…

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Is it me or does the brooding new paint job on the St. Clement house north of town convey a certain gothic grandeur worthy of Ann Radcliffe? Count me as a fan, although historical purists are welcome to disagree.

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So much to tell you today! Let me start with more good news about the Street Piano at Lyman Park. Bill Ryan sends along the attached photo of Andrew, a San Francisco man who stopped to play some classical music on it. Andrew told Bill he took up the piano in college. Twice he said, “Thanks f…

At the top of this week’s mailbag is a note from Janet Peischel with great news for us music lovers. The St. Helena Street Piano, damaged by a vandal in June, is back in business. Actually it’s a new interim piano at Lyman Park, freshly tuned by Terry Miller and installed by David Lider, who…

This was St. Helena’s first Fourth of July in decades where you didn’t see people setting off safe-and-sane fireworks around town (at least not openly). I’d feared it might detract from the ambiance of the holiday, but I was wrong. Between the Bike Parade, the Saint Helena Community Band con…

I’m going to take the risk of revealing something that’s well-known among longtime locals, but might be a secret to newcomers and visitors: The world’s most luscious peaches are grown at the corner of Silverado Trail and Deer Park Road. What we all lovingly remember as Dr. Dinwiddie’s peach …

The Pawnee Fire in Lake County, which by Tuesday morning had burned 11,500 acres and destroyed 22 structures, is a grim reminder that it’s fire season again. St. Helena is not immune from risk, so please clear at least 100 feet – and preferably 200 or 300 – around your house. Encourage your …

Javaholics, rejoice! Caffe Della Valle opened last Friday in the former Sogni Di Dolci space at 1142 Main St. The interior has been spruced up a bit, but the concept is very similar: coffee, pastries, breakfast, lunch and of course beer, including Mad Fritz by the bottle and draft. Check it …

My fond congratulations to the St. Helena High School Class of 2018. If you missed last week’s front-page story about what a few of the students are planning college- and career-wise, please check it out. And, if graduation ceremonies give you a thrill, attend Pacific Union College’s commenc…

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve made a summer resolution: I will not complain about the heat. Nope, not all summer. You won’t hear a peep from me – right up until the moment I fall into a stupor from heatstroke due to this blasted heat! Ahem — pardon me. That resolution goes…

This is my last missive before Tuesday’s election. I won’t presume to tell you how to vote (much less how I voted), but allow me to humbly encourage you to please, please cast your ballot.

Just like every morning should, this column is starting with coffee. Last week I mentioned the closure of Sogni Di Dolci. Now comes word that its replacement, Caffe Della Valle, is holding a job fair seeking “amazing baristas and servers to provide friendly, responsive, amazing customers ser…

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.

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