One moment in particular got Sebastopol youth-baseball umpire Les Thayer to sensing that he really was meant to be chosen to help officiate a seven-country tournament in Kutno, Poland.

While manning first base in one game, Thayer found himself strongly drawn to the left-handed kid who played that position for the team from Romania.

He was the best player on the team, despite wearing a glove several sizes too small for him and tennis shoes instead of cleats.

It happened that Thayer had brought to the European Regional Tournament an extra pair of Reebox rubber cleats and the lefty first-base glove his son, Michael, had used through the Seniors level of Sebastopol Little League.

Thayer discovered that both the glove and the shoes would fit the first-baseman. He was all the more certain he had to give them to the lanky, personable kid upon hearing his name: the Romanian version of Michael.

"Talk about a God-sent moment," the umpire said.

He's also liking to tell about the interpreters who were assigned to every dugout to help the players with the official language of the games, Polish. They were all local girls, 15 to 18 years old, and just beautiful.

Thayer said they were most helpful but their presence on the benches had coaches telling their players, in so many words, "Hey, hey, hey, eyes on the game!"

FULL OF DIRT: Folks at Sebastopol Hardware didn't just shake their heads at word that somebody stole the two large redwood garden beds the store had sold to Corona Creek School in Petaluma.

Store co-owner Doug Bishop, who personally makes the garden boxes, phoned the school at once to tell teachers Marj Clagett and Diana Lowry that Sebastopol Hardware was sending down two more — at no cost.

They're already filled with good dirt by the two teachers, who are keen to offer more Corona Creek students the experience of growing their own food.

Soiled but grateful, Clagett said, "I've never been so happy to have a sore back!"

AMERICA'S GOT ICE: Sonoma-grown pro ice dancer and two-time Olympic alternate Kim Navarro hopes we'll all vote for her on Tuesday.

The Santa Rosan and her longtime skating partner, Brent Bommentre, will be on NBC's "America's Got Talent," live from Radio Music Hall. They and two other skaters and two aerialists will perform as "Aerial Ice," an act conceived by former local Jill Schulz, daughter of late "Peanuts" creator and ice rink owner Charles Schulz.

Kim, an El Molino High alum who was still short of 12 when Schulz invited her to appear in a holiday ice show as Woodstock, said from New York her team will compete Tuesday and return to the show Wednesday to see how they did in the viewer voting.

You might check out Aerial Ice's Facebook page at

Kim said it's been "such a wild adventure" to perform for the TV show. At a time when ice skating has slipped from public view, she's loving the chance to get it back into prime time.

(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and