Wednesday, 24 July 2024



Today we will be discussing vanilla and I will be giving you the exotic information that you don’t get on the “vanilla” daytime food shows.

Send the kids away; some of this information is for adults only. This will be an easy thing for me to write, because the one thing I have a lot of in my head is X-rated information. (I can only feel sorry for my wife who is going to be deleting paragraph after paragraph, isn’t she?)

Start the background music now … Bow-chika-Wha-WOW!

Vanilla is native to Central America and Mexico and was first cultivated by the Totonac people, but when the Aztecs conquered them in 1427 it became their mandatory tribute to the Aztec’s monarch Itzcoatl. Eventually many cultures in ancient Mesoamerican began to grow it. The Aztecs named the vine “tlilxochitl” meaning “Black Flower” after the blackened bean.

The mythology of vanilla from the Totonac people says that the goddess Princess Xanat ran away with her mortal lover, so her father – in an effort to stop the dude on deity action – sent priests after them to capture them.

When caught the pair was beheaded, and anywhere their blood hit the ground a vanilla vine grew. Princess Xanat considered it her way of blessing humans and a way to stay near them. Even in its origins, the myths surrounding vanilla are tied up in forbidden love.

The vanilla bean is the fruit of a particular species of orchid, which gives us another shocking bit of information in our study. The root word for orchid is the Greek “orchis,” meaning testicles. This comes from the fact that an orchid’s roots form a pair of tubers that look like testicles.

Of the 20,000 varieties of orchid, 60 produce a vanilla bean-like fruit, but only the three subspecies of vanilla orchid produces something actually valuable.

Hernan Cortes brought back the vanilla vine to the Old World but to their dismay Europeans never reaped any vanilla beans from the plants. They failed to understand that in its native habitat the orchid was pollinated specifically by the Melipone bee which is only found in Mexico.

Some believe that bats, birds, honeybees and hummingbirds also pollinate the vanilla blossom, but the actual amount they do is negligible. To complicate the process even more, the vanilla flower is only open for a few hours of one day, and if it isn’t pollinated the flower withers and dies.

In 1836 the Belgian botanist and horticulturist Charles Francois Antoine Morren was drinking coffee in the town of Papantla, the northernmost city in Veracruz, Mexico (and today the region’s biggest producer of vanilla), when he noticed the small black Melipone bees entering the vanilla flower near his table. Within a few days he noticed vanilla beans begin to form.

He then worked to develop a way to hand pollinate vanilla, but it is said that his method was too labor intensive and cost prohibitive.

In 1841 vanilla vines were being grown on the island of Reunion not far from Madagascar, and a 12-year-old slave named Edmond Albius created a new method of pollinating the flowers using just a small twig or blade of grass and his thumb, making vanilla cultivation far simpler, faster and much more profitable. His method is still the primary method in use today.

While Albius’s contribution to the cultivation of vanilla on the island did get him a shortened prison term at one point in his life, he died in poverty at the age of 51.

The word “vanilla” comes from the Spanish “vainilla,” which is the diminutive form of “vaina” meaning “sheath,” and so vainilla means “little sheath.” The root of vaina comes from the Latin word vagina meaning sheath for a sword.

Oh great, First the term “manhole” is changed to “personhole,” and “actress” seems to have disappeared altogether, but what will “vagina” be changed to be more politically correct? I’ll let you folks work that one out.

There are some stories that claim that vanilla was so named because of they felt the orchid flower looked similar to a vagina, but that seems to be more reverse comparison more than truth.

Vanilla is grown in tropical climates throughout the world, but there are three main growing regions that produce arguably unique types of vanilla pods.

Madagascar grows the same plant as Mexico and Central America, Vanilla Plantifolia, having been imported in 1840. The beans from this region are called “Bourbon vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the alcohol of the same name.

The island of Reunion was once called “The Isle of Bourbon” when the French House of Bourbon ruled the region, and it was at this time that vanilla started its production on the island. Bourbon Vanilla is widely known for being intensely flavored with thick, oily skin and potent seeds. Madagascar is the world leader in the production of vanilla.

Mexico also grows the varietal Vanilla Plantifolia (once known as Vanilla Fragrans), a large flavorful pod, but the quality varies extremely from orchard to orchard and also from season to season. Prices also vary greatly due to hurricanes and poor standards.

Tahiti grows Vanilla Tahitiesis, a smaller, very fragrant though mildly flavored pod with thinner skin. This type of vanilla is chiefly used in the production of perfumes and is not considered a major competitor with other culinary vanillas.

Uganda has a fledgling vanilla industry that is a priority in the country. It is currently only supplying to industrial consumers. The largest grower in the country claims to be able to produce a more potent vanilla in only four days rather than the standard six months. If true, this could completely change the vanilla industry.

The third vanilla orchid, Vanilla Pompona, is sold to the public mostly as an ornamental vine and produces a very large banana-like bean. Commercially it is used only in non-culinary applications.

Women and children are the main pollinators of vanilla since it is believed their hands can move more swiftly and accurately than men’s. The average vanilla pollinator can pollinate between 1,000 and 2,000 flowers a day. Once the flower is pollinated the bean will grow to its full size in about six weeks, but it will still need to stay on the vine another nine months before it is mature and ready to be harvested.

Once picked the beans are dipped in boiling water to stop the growing process, then they are rolled up in a tarp before nightfall and stored until morning when they are unrolled to sit in the sun to dry and cure. The bean will change from looking like a long string bean, as it severely darkens and shrivels, and a light crystalline coating will develop. This process will take about 20 days.

After that they are set in trays to ferment for three to six months before the vanilla is ready to be graded and sold. The massive amount of time and labor involved is the reason vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world, proceeded only by saffron. Estimates say that 40 percent of the cost of the vanilla bean is due to this hand pollination.

Artificial vanilla was created as a by-product of the paper making process since lignin vanillin, a vanilla-like flavoring is naturally found in wood and other natural products. This lignin vanillin is naturally extracted from the wooden barrels that wine and other alcohols are stored in.

The Tonka bean was once used as a vanilla substitute and used to stretch vanilla extract but since it is full of coumarin, an anticoagulant which is lethal in large doses, the Food and Drug Administration has banned it in the U.S.

The French, who are the world’s second largest consumers of vanilla (America is the largest), still use the Tonka bean. Artificial vanilla can be made from many products, even coal tar being one of them, but now-a-days most are made chemically. Personally, the methods used to make artificial vanilla put me off so much that I gladly pay the extra price to have natural vanilla extract.

In the 17th century an American, Dr. John King, prescribed vanilla extract as an early version of Viagra. There may be more to this than just a quack remedy since recent controlled tests done at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago found that while several odors do in fact increase penile blood flow. On average, lavender and pumpkin pie showed the most increase of 40 percent, however older men showed a considerable response to vanilla.

In 1762 a German physician Bezaar Zimmerman wrote that 342 impotent men were turned into amazing lovers after using a cure of a vanilla-based tincture. Coincidentally perhaps, Thomas Jefferson imported the first vanilla beans to the United States in 1789 after he was the ambassador to France and was introduced to the flavor on the continent. Vanilla rapidly became popular in the United States.

Vanilla has long been purported to be an aphrodisiac which has kept it popular in perfumes and seems to be the chief scent of exotic dancers everywhere. Coca-Cola is the world’s largest buyer of vanilla and caused the Madagascar economy to crash when “New Coke” switched to using artificial vanilla. Madagascar recovered with the demise of New Coke.

Stealing vanilla during times of exceptionally high pricing is a significant problem. Vanilla producers may actually scar vanilla beans while still on the vine, and that scar will remain on the bean permanently giving the grower the ability to identify any stolen beans. This scar is typically a series of pin pricks or a cut with a knife. Think of it as branding cattle.

The best way to get the full experience of vanilla is to use the bean pod. Used in custards and pastries, the pod is split lengthwise and the seeds are scraped out. The seeds and pod are then tossed in a pot of heating milk to flavor the whole dish. The pod is removed after a little while, but the black seeds remain, giving a distinctive look that lets the diner know that real vanilla beans were used.

There are over 250 naturally occurring compounds found in natural vanilla but since 95 percent of vanilla beans imported into the US are used to make extracts, they are a lower grade of vanilla. Most people have never experienced high quality vanilla, and until Lake County gets a dedicated spice merchant the Internet will be the best place to purchase real vanilla for your home.

And yeah, I was right; a lot of this column was deleted for being over the line. You can thank my wife for protecting your psyche.

Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community. Follow him on Twitter, .

The so-called “pure trust” – also known as the “constitutional trust” or the “common law trust” amongst its many other names – is neither a pure nor a legitimate trust. It is a scam that continues to be perpetrated for upwards of 50 years now.

It is promoted as asset protection against creditors and income tax freedom from the Internal Revenue Service. Unfortunately, the opposite is true.

The California courts and the IRS have been combating these trusts for years (see People vs. Lynam, 261 Cal App 2d 490 (1968) & IRS Notice 97-24 at ).

Now let’s unravel some of the mystery.

According to pure trust promoters, American/English common-law allows the creation of separate legal entities into which anyone can irrevocably transfer their property for management and protection by others.

As the entity “is created” under the English common law (and not any state’s own statute), the pure trust is allegedly independent of any state’s sovereign law and not subject to any state law nor answerable to legal enforcement under state statutory laws.

The promoters argue that the United States Constitution and certain US Supreme Court cases validate pure trusts.

As anyone with formal legal training recognizes, however, the proof is a very misleading and purely argumentative. There is no true legal support for the pure trusts as they are drafted.

Promoters often use guile and charm to deceive people wanting to believe all the “good things” about pure trusts.

Not attorneys themselves, they justify avoiding licensed attorneys because attorneys only prepare ordinary “statutory trusts” under state law and because attorneys either do not understand pure trusts or they do not wish to let you in on their inside secret.

Like the story of the emperor’s new clothes, however, many people simply are unwilling to admit to themselves that they do not see what in fact does not exist when it comes to the lack of legal substance; yes, ladies and gentlemen, the emperor really is exposed when it comes to pure trusts.

So what is the truth?

The truth is that these “trusts” are shams that can get you into a great deal of trouble with the IRS and otherwise create a great legal mess.

These trusts will NOT provide you with any legitimate asset protection against your creditors. Moreover, as these trusts are not drafted by attorneys, they are technically deficient in how they operate.

So, even if they potentially provided asset protection and tax minimization, the internal flaws of these trusts make them hard, if not impossible, to administer.

All that glitters is not gold. Make sure you secure your future wisely, rather than buying into something that really is too good to be true.

Dennis A. Fordham, attorney (LL.M. tax studies), is a State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law. His office is at 55 1st St., Lakeport, California. Dennis can be reached by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 707-263-3235.



LAKEPORT – For the past several months, numerous sightings of mountain lions have been reported around Lake County, and now a new report has come from the Lakeport area.

Three separate witnesses reported seeing a mountain lion near the dumpster behind Kmart on S. Main Street on Wednesday, according to Lakeport Police Officer Jim Bell.

Bell said the people who reported seeing the big cat said it left northbound past a nearby office and went into a shrubbery south of the county's corporation yard. It was described as being 4 feet long, not counting its tail.

“I went over there and looked around and didn't see anything,” said Bell, who nonetheless said he isn't discounting the reports.

He went on to advise nearby businesses of the sighting.


Lake County Animal Care and Control first received the report and notified Fish and Game, which reportedly said they wouldn't respond unless the animal was being aggressive. The agency then contacted Lakeport Police, according to Animal Care and Control Deputy Director Bill Davidson.

Over the summer there were numerous reports around Lake County of lions, which were seen in areas including Kelseyville, Nice, Lucerne, Clearlake Oaks and Lakeport.

Lakeport has had several reports this summer, including in the north Lakeport area, where a woman and her dog confronted a cougar, and behind Burger King on Lakeport Boulevard. Bell said he previously responded to a report of a mountain lion on 20th Street.

Bell said he's noticed a large deer population this year. “It seems like there was a lot more this year than past years.”

Kyle Orr, a spokesman for California Fish and Game, said mountain lion sightings aren't always verified, so his agency doesn't have any statistics on whether or not mountain lion reports are up this year.

However, one of the primary factors used to estimate the mountain lion population in an area are deer populations, which fluctuate in regions, he said.

“As a rule of thumb, if you have a lot of deer in an area, you have mountain lions present,” said Orr.

Orr said estimates for the mountain lion population in California range between 4,000 and 6,000.

He said the animals have a huge territory; an adult male lion's range can exceed 100 square miles. That means if you see a mountain lion in the morning, it could be long gone by the end of the day.

Orr emphasized that mountain lion attacks on humans are exceedingly rare, with only 14 verified attacks and six fatalities on record since 1890.

In California mountain lions are a protected species that can only be hunted with a special depredation permit. Department of Fish and Game records show that 119 depredation permits have been issued in Lake County since 1972, with the largest number – 17 – issued in 1997. In 2008, two such permits were issued.

Neighboring Mendocino County has the larger number of depredation permits issued statewide since 1972 – 630, according to Department of Fish and Game records.

When the food and water sources for deer dry up, or when weather conditions worsen, the animals can be found moving into subdivisions and neighborhoods, said Orr. If mountain lions are seen in such an area, it's because they're tracking the deer and “just being mountain lions.”

Orr said seeing a mountain in an area where they're not normally seen isn't necessarily a cause for concern.

But the prey-predator relationship makes it all the more important that people not feed deer, said Orr.

“Not only is it illegal in California, it attracts mountain lions,” he said.

He suggested deer proofing and landscaping to keep the deer – and, therefore, mountain lions – away from homes. It's also important to trim brush to reduce places where the big cats can hide.

In rural areas, covered shelter is important to protect vulnerable livestock like goats and sheet. Horses also can be attacked but that's rare, said Orr.

He advised that people should not leave small children and pets unattended.

People shouldn't hike, bike or jog alone, especially in the early morning, at dusk or at night. If a person sees one, they should face the animal, make noise, wave their arms and throw rocks. If small children are nearby, they should be picked up.

And, in the rare case of an attack, Orr said it's critical to fight.

“The key with mountain lions is in fighting you're not acting like prey,” he said.

For more information visit the Department of Fish and Game's “Keep Me Wild” Web page at .

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

LAKE COUNTY – Programs to assist seniors took a big hit in the state budget signed this summer, and now local groups are looking for solutions.

In July Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used his blue pencil to eliminate state funding for all aging programs, an action that saved the state about $10 million in general fund expenses but is costing much more to a system that serves about four million seniors, according to an estimate from the California Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

The specific programs affected include support for Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers, care management and food distribution.

“The governor cut everything,” said Derrell Kelch, executive director, California Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

Impacted were services critical to seniors, frail people and the poor that are provided by an aging services network that has, over the years, leveraged state funds to generate millions of dollars to help frail seniors maintain their independence, said Kelch.

The governor's cuts mean a tough scenario not just for the state's 33 area agencies on aging, but on local delivery programs such as Adult Day Care-Respite of Clearlake, which offers two days of care in Clearlake and one day in Lucerne weekly. Kelch said Alzheimer's cuts amount to about $1.2 million statewide.

As of July 1, “No state money is supporting this program,” said Adult Day Care-Respite of Clearlake Director Eva Johnson.

The program used to get about $16,000 – often more – from the state to provide respite care for Alzheimer's patients. This year, they're only getting around $5,000, said Johnson.

“There used to be a lot of respite money out there,” she said.

Kelch said the explanation for the cuts is that health and human services is the largest area of discretionary dollars, and an area where the state has the potential to make cuts.

He explained that the cuts to aging programs originally weren't on the governor's cut list, but by the time of his third budget proposal revision, those programs were included.

“The problem with these cuts is these are on top of some huge cuts we took last year,” said Kelch.

Over the last five years, aging programs have experienced cuts totaling 45 percent, he added.

The concern now is that cuts to the programs will put seniors at risk, and end up with many of them being placed in nursing homes because of loss of services, according to Clay Kempf, president of California Association of Area Agencies on Aging and director of the Area Agency on Aging for Santa Cruz and San Benito counties.

Kelch and his agency pointed to a recent study by UCLA and the Insight Foundation indicates that 40 percent of older Californians struggle daily to meet their basic expenses of food, shelter and health care.

Lori Sweeney, senior program manager for the Lake and Mendocino Counties Area Agency on Aging, said the concerns for aging programs started in the fall of 2008, when longterm ombudsman funding was pulled.

She said Alzheimer's day care programs in both Lake and Mendocino were facing a $65,000 cut if all funding was eliminated.

Sweeney said nutrition programs are OK at this point, with about $70,000 for both counties coming from stimulus funds. She said the money had to be spent by 2010.

The local gleaners programs also were looking at losing $19,000 in funds, said Sweeney, and the Linkages program, which crosses both counties and receives about $300,000 a year, also was in danger. It offers case management for seniors who don't qualify for medical services.

Sweeney said a saving grace for Johnson's Lake County respite program is a small amount of federal AAA Funding, which offers her about $3,000. A similar Alzheimer's program in Fort Bragg doesn't have that funding stream, said Sweeney.

Since the local respite group was founded in 1997, it has served more than 150 people, according to Johnson, whose late husband suffered from the disease.

Having recently turned 80, Johnson continues to work hard to lead the program, which is a more challenging proposition with less funding.

Because of the cuts, and the fact that local respite services now are serving about 10 people – five people less than normal – Johnson said she had to lay off two full-time and one part-time employees. Volunteers are helping cover more of the services now.

The cuts are especially scary, said Johnson, because people are living much longer. She cited a statistic that 50 percent of those who live into their 80s will develop Alzheimer's.

“Memory loss is one of the biggest difficulties for caregivers,” said Johnson.

Johnson said clients don't have to have Alzheimer's to participate.

“We're out there to help people,” she said.

She said a year's worth of respite – on a two-day-a-week, 100-day-per-year schedule for clients – costs $3,500. Clients and their families used to get $300 per month to cover services, but now they can only get, at most, $1,000 annual scholarships.

However, even if they can't pay that amount, “We never turn anybody away,” Johnson said.

She said the clients have a lot of fun during their time at respite, which gives their caregivers a break from the constant care that is needed for some seniors.

Activities include hands-on projects, said Johnson. This past Tuesday, they made Halloween cupcakes.

“We really have a wonderful program,” she said.

Johnson said she thinks her program will squeak through, although programs such as AAA's Alzheimer's day care resource center have disappeared, and the Redwood Caregiver Resource Center – which provides respite vouchers and case management – took a 70-percent budget cut.

To keep going, Johnson is marshaling her local resources.

The Redbud Health Care District gives Adult Day Care-Respite of Clearlake a large grant annually, and the group recently received about $260 through a donations matching program offered by Mendo Mill and Lumber Co.

A recent fundraising effort, in which she put out a letter to community members, brought in $5,500, but more is needed.

“We're not gonna give up easy,” Johnson said.

To find out more about the services offered by Adult Day Care-Respite of Clearlake or to donate, call Eva Johnson at 707-279-4836 or write to 3067 Willow Road, Kelseyville, 95451.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

LAKE COUNTY – Lake County is going to be chock full of fun events for Halloween this weekend.

With Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, many groups and businesses are joining together to create safe and fun events for the whole family, giving parents some additional options for enjoying the holiday with their children.

The following is a list of fun events planned for Friday and Saturday around Lake County.


  • Orchard Park Assisted Living and Memory Care Community, 14789 Burns Valley Road, will host free Halloween festivities starting at 3 p.m. Saturday. Featured will be a ghost and goblin parade, costume contest, prizes and refreshments. For information call 707-995-1900.

  • The city of Clearlake will host its fourth annual Halloween Trick-Or-Treat Party from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Clearlake City Hall, 14050 Olympic Drive. City staff and police officers will volunteer their time to dress up and hand out goodies and reflective treat bags to community children as a safe alternative to trick-or-treating in unknown neighborhoods. Refreshments also will be available for children and parents to enjoy. Cameras are welcome. For more information call 707-994-8201, Extension 106.

  • The Lake County Area of Narcotics Anonymous will host a Halloween dance and speaker meeting from 6 p.m. to midnight on Halloween at the Clear Lake/Callayomi Masonic Lodge at 7100 S. Center Drive, Clearlake. The evening features a speaker meeting and dinner to be followed by a DJ dance. The suggested donation is $10 for adults, but no one will be turned away. Please bring a potluck dessert to share. Children are welcome at this event. For more information visit .


  • Hidden Valley Pet Palace, 18983 Hartmann Road, will host its second annual pet costume party at 1 p.m. Saturday. Prizes will be awarded for the best costumes. Everyone is welcome. For information call 707-987-1981.

  • The Hidden Valley Community Church Harvest Party, 18160 Spruce Grove Extension, will take place from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday. The theme for the free family event is “Blast From the Past.” There will be a wide array of contests – involving costumes, hula hoops, Bazooka Bubble Gum Blowing and pumpkin carving. There will be two grand prize raffle drawings, plus drawings for bikes, gift certificates, movie tickets, an art basket and lots of candy for the kids. The Beaudettes will provide musical entertainment. For more information visit or call 707-987-3510.


  • The Kelseyville Sunrise Rotary Club and the Kelseyville Business Association will present their “Oldies But Ghoulies” gala costume ball to benefit the Kelseyville K-12 Schools Foundation beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday at Big Valley Grange Haunted Hall, 1510 Big Valley Road, Finley. There will be evil spirits, monster munchies and prizes for costumes. Live music will be provided by Without a Net. Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door. To get your tickets visit one of the following Kelseyville merchants: Riviera Foods, 9730 Soda Bay Road; Polestar Computers, 3930 Main St.; Kelseyville Lumber, 3555 N. Main St.; Studebakers, 3990 Main St.; or Lyndall's Sports Stop Grill, 4220 Main St.


  • Lakeport Elementary School's annual Halloween parade will take place from noon to 12:30 p.m. Friday in downtown Lakeport. The parade will begin at Natural High School in the 800 block of N. Main Street and travel down to Second Street. Spectators are welcome.

  • Clear Lake High School will hold its annual homecoming parade from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday in downtown Lakeport. The parade will travel from Clearlake Avenue to Martin Street.

  • Lakeport Kiwanis will host a Halloween party for the county's children from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Clear Lake High School gym, 350 Lange St. The free event is open to children of all ages and their families. There will be game booths, all with candy prizes, and a costume contest starting at 7:15 p.m.

  • Faded At Four will host its own Halloween Eve Frightfest beginning at 9:30 p.m. Friday at TJ's Downtown Bar and Grill, 370 S. Main St., Lakeport. Get out your costume, dress up and go rock with the group. There will be a costume contest, drawings and great music. The event is limited to those aged 21 and over. There will be a $5 cover charge.

  • The Lakeport Main Street Association is hosting a downtown trick or treat event from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Visit the businesses displaying orange and black balloons. Play games at C&G Enterprises and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies at Angelina's Bakery. There will be candy, goodies and a costume contest in three age groups – 6 years old and under, 7 to 12, and 13 years and older. Prizes will be awarded in front of Museum Square at 5 p.m. For more information call 707-263-8843.


  • Downtown merchants are hosting the second annual “Lower Lake Safe Halloween” from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. There will be fun for the whole family, including goodies and prizes on top of free fun and entertainment, plus a magic show.

  • The “Lake County Has Talent” contest will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Lower Lake High School Auditorium, 9430 Lake St. Admission costs $20 for a family, $10 per adults and $5 per student. Admission to the Halloween carnival is free although there are ticket fees for individual carnival events. Proceeds go for the Lower Lake High School Music Program and TV PEG Channel 8. For more information visit or call Barbara Christwitz at 707-995-0940.



  • Lucerne FLOW will hold a fundraising dinner and dance from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center, 10th and Country Club. Music will be provided by Blue Moon. The dinner will be moussaka (with and without meat) and salad. Wine and beer will be available. Costumes are encouraged, and there will be a prize for best costume as well as a raffle. Tickets are $13 in advance, $15 at the door. For tickets or more information call 707-739-6788 and leave a message.


  • Wiloth Equine Therapy and Riding Center is hosting a pumpkin patch from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. There will be hay rides, horse rides, jump houses, baked goods, vendors and pumpkins. The pumpkin patch is located at 20740 Butts Canyon Road, at the corner of Butts Canyon Road and Highway 29 in Middletown. For more information call 707-355-1280.

  • Expressive Motion Dance Studio, 21720 Highway 29, will host a Halloween haunted house from noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The suggested donation is $2. For more information call 707-987-8197.


  • The Sons of Italy will host a Halloween dinner and dance on Saturday at the club hall, 2817 E. Highway 20. Costumes are encouraged but not mandatory. There will be a contest for anyone who comes dressed up. Enjoy a buffet meal of roasted Cornish hens, wild rice, vegetables, green salad and rolls, which then will be topped off with yummy cake for dessert. The bar is open for socializing at 5 p.m. then dinner will be served at 6 p.m. Enjoy dancing to the music of John Zimmerman right after the meal. All tickets cost $14 at the door. For more information call 707-274-9952.

For those adults enjoying themselves on Halloween, be sure to designate a driver if planning on drinking alcohol during the fall festivities.

If anyone finds that they're unable to drive and need a tow, AAA of Northern California will offer its free “Tipsy Tow” program to everyone. From 6 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday drivers, potential passengers, party hosts, bartenders, and restaurant managers can call 800-222-4357 (AAA-HELP) for a free tow home of up to five miles.


The service will provide a one-way ride for the driver and vehicle to the driver’s home. If there are additional passengers who need a ride, they will be taken to the driver’s home as long is there is sufficient room for them to be transported safely in the tow truck.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .



THE GEYSERS – A 3.6-magnitude earthquake occurred near The Geysers steamfield late Friday.

The quake occurred at 11:52 p.m., according to the US Geological Survey.

Its epicenter was located two miles east of The Geysers, four miles southwest of Cobb and four miles west northwest of Anderson Springs at a depth of 2.7 miles, the US Geological Survey reported.

Several smaller quakes were reported shortly afterward, with the largest measuring 2.9, according to the report.

US Geological Survey records showed that the agency received numerous reports from people who said they felt the quake.

Responses came from as close as Kelseyville and Middletown and in Sonoma County, and more than 300 miles away in Coursegold.

On Oct. 22 a 3.1 quake was reported near The Geysers, as Lake County News has reported.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

LAKEPORT – Firefighters were able to contain a chimney fire in a Lakeport home on Wednesday before the rest of the home caught fire.

On Wednesday at around 9 a.m. the Lakeport Fire Protection District responded to a reported chimney fire at Hartley Road and 20th Street, according to a Thursday report from the agency.

The Lakeport Fire Protection District responded with one chief officer, one truck company and

one advanced life support engine.

Chief Ken Wells arrived on scene within four minutes to find a single story, single family home with a confirmed fire in the chimney and possible fire extension to the attic.

Under his direction, entry and roof teams made a “swift and coordinated attack” and contained the fire in the chimney before further structure involvement, the district reported.

Salvage and overhaul lasted just over hour and no injuries were reported.

While the fire investigation has not been competed yet, possible contributing factors include inadequate chimney maintenance, according to the district.

The Lakeport Fire Protection District reminds all residents to follow the National Fire Protection Agency recommendation for annual chimney cleaning and inspection by trained professionals.

In addition to fires, poorly maintained chimneys can lead to toxic carbon monoxide poisoning, the district reported.

With winter fast approaching, it is imperative that homeowners adequately maintain heating systems to prevent tragedy from occurring, officials said.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

LAKE COUNTY – Autumn is deer mating season, which means deer are on the move and less cautious about darting out into the road.

The California Highway Patrol has reported numerous collisions between vehicles and deer in recent weeks, and official are urging drivers to be particularly cautious at this time of year.

Drivers should be extra vigilant and follow these tips for driving in deer country, which were compiled by the National Park Service:

  • Be particularly attentive between sunset and midnight, during the hours shortly before and after sunrise, and in foggy conditions. Most deer-vehicle collisions occur during those times.

  • Drive carefully in areas known to have high deer populations. Places where roads divide agricultural fields or streams from forestland are particularly dangerous.

  • If you see a deer, slow down. Others are probably nearby.

  • Use high-beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams can reflect off their eyes and warn you of their presence.

  • If a deer is in your lane, brake firmly but stay in the lane. The most serious crashes occur when drivers swerve.

  • Don't rely on deer whistles, deer fences, or reflectors to deter deer.

  • Wear seat belts.

  • If your car strikes a deer, don't touch the animal. If the deer is blocking the highway, call 911.

“Please use extra caution when driving and make the end of the day a good one,” said Charlie Fielder, director of Caltrans' District 1, which includes Lake County.

SACRAMENTO – Cal Fire and the Office of the State Fire Marshal want to remind Californians that Sunday, Nov. 1, when you turn back your clocks, is the perfect opportunity to change the batteries in your smoke alarms.

“Cal Fire advocates the ‘Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery’ campaign, to help families stay safe and save lives,” said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) Director Del Walters. “By taking the time to replace the battery in your smoke alarm, you can sleep better knowing that you’ve provided one of the best ways to alert your family should a fire occur.”

When smoke alarms fail to operate, it is usually because batteries are missing, disconnected or dead.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the households with non-working smoke alarms now outnumber those with no smoke alarms.

Smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries.

Cal Fire has the following tips on smoke alarms:

  • Test smoke alarms once a month;

  • Replace batteries in all smoke alarms twice a year;

  • Never remove the batteries from smoke alarms, not even temporarily;

  • Regularly vacuum or dust smoke alarms to keep them working properly;

  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years;

  • Don’t paint over smoke alarms;

  • Practice family fire drills so everyone knows what to do if the smoke alarm goes off.

Find more information visit the Cal Fire Web site at .

SACRAMENTO – The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is benefiting from federal funds to help save lives by nipping drinking and driving in the bud.

More than $1 million in grant funds is being used to fund California’s Designated Driver Program through August 2010.

“There’s no excuse for operating a motor vehicle after you’ve been drinking,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Not only is it against the law, you’re putting your life and the lives of fellow motorists at risk every time you do.”

Last year in California, 1,112 people were killed at the hands of an impaired driver. In 2007, another 1,272 victims were killed under similar circumstances.

"While the numbers of DUI fatalities has dropped in recent years, we still have a long way to go with young males," said Christopher Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. "This grant to the CHP gets the message of designating a sober driver right in front of that group."

Last year, according to the Department of Justice, 217,201 people were arrested statewide for driving under the influence (DUI). Among those arrested for DUI in California, roughly 80 percent were male, and 53 percent of the men were between the ages of 21 and 34.

A DUI conviction for a first-time offender could result in jail time, loss of license and fines and

penalties of $13,500 or more.

“The best way to avoid becoming a statistic or spending the night in jail is to be responsible and make a plan ahead of time; designate a non-drinking driver,” added Commissioner Farrow.

The Designated Driver Program consists of community education presentations and information booths staffed by CHP officers throughout the state.

Funding for the program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

Ron Keas photographed these pelicans on Clear Lake on Monday, October 26, 2009.



NORTHSHORE – Lake County is home to an amazing array of birds and wildlife, and on Monday a large group of pelicans created quite a show on Clear Lake.

Local photographer Ron Keas caught hundreds of the big white birds on film.

Keas estimated about 200 pelicans flew across the lake and landed near Lucerne, swimming silently along as Keas followed from a distance on the lakeshore.

“Along the way they kept posing for pictures,” he said.

Keas added, “I love this lake.”

Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .










Upcoming Calendar

07.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
07.30.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.03.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.06.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.10.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.13.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.17.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.20.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
08.24.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
08.27.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

Mini Calendar



Award winning journalism on the shores of Clear Lake. 



Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.