Esteemed wine columnist Lettie Teague pulled a dangerous road assignment for the Wall Street Journal:
Go to Healdsburg and eat, drink, shop, soak, sunbathe and explore for three days, then write a story that will make Journal readers across America so jealous that they will detest you.
Teague pulled it off gloriously. Her weekend story praised many of greater Healdsburg's best attractions. And I was surprised that she hailed one winery hospitality employee by name, recommending that visitors to Healdsburg seek him out.
At Quivira, she wrote, "Ask for Ron Washam, a raconteur and local character who works the tasting room on Sundays."
Wow. I phoned Washam and discovered he's quite the somebody — a former longtime sommelier who writes the satirical and often hysterical Hose Master of Wine blog. He said he'd never met fellow wine writer Teague before she walked into Quivira, but, "I've made fun of her many times."
Both of them know you don't get smacked by the Hose Master unless you're pretty good.
MONTESSORI IS a different approach to teaching that's been used to good effect for 40 years at Santa Rosa's Brush Creek Montessori School.
With preparations in high gear for Saturday's anniversary gala at the elementary school, alumni are reflecting on what the Montessori approach did for them.
"It made me think differently," said graduate Davis Greinke, who's now 18 and wrapping up his first year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. At Brush Creek he liked the three pages of lightning math that woke up his young brain every morning.
Davis' older brother, Daniel, also at SLO, appreciated the lively Montessori classroom discussions that encouraged active participation.
And, added the 21-year-old materials engineering major, "I didn't have to ask permission to go to the bathroom."
ONCE PRIED from a coastal rock, an abalone cannot be stuck back on.
So what do North Coast game wardens do with the abalone seized from poachers?
Well, the state has donated enough flash-frozen, perfectly edible Mendocino Coast abalone for more than 200 people at a benefit feed June 9 in Forestville.
Proceeds from the unusual feast at Burke's Canoes will boost children and adults served by the Community and Family Service Agency and Bob Burke's Kids.
A legal, all-you-can-eat
abalone dinner on the Russian River? I know I've had that dream.
GOOD BLOOD: The decades-old rivalry between Santa Rosa High and Montgomery may save lives next week.
The Blood Feud happens Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Blood Centers of the Pacific on Bethards Drive.
In the first four years of the Panther vs. Vikings blood drive, donors gave up 358 pints. The goal this year is to push the total above 400 pints.
It's a pretty nice way to start the summer, to shed a little blood for your school.
Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and firstname.lastname@example.org.