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Emma Donovan of Sebastopol delights at hearing her daughter, Alice, sing.

But it's both sweet and painful for her to hear the 14-year-old entertain smitten nurses at San Francisco's California Pacific Medical Center. Alice's family and others who care about her are working to get her cured of leukemia and singing back at home and at her middle school, Twin Hills.

The eighth-grader needs a bone-marrow transplant. Her mother's employer, O'Reilly Media, has arranged to hold a marrow drive from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 4 on the O'Reilly campus on Gravenstein Highway North.

Being tested as a potential marrow donor involves just a cheek swab. In the event of a compatibility match with Alice or another patient awaiting a transplant, the process of becoming a marrow donor is rather more involved. But it has become far simpler than it once was.

Staffers with the Oakland office of Be The Match Donor Registry say ideal candidates usually are 18 to 44 years old. Both of Alice's parents and her sister, Harriett, who's 15, were tested but are not matches for Alice.

Alice was in the hospital for Christmas. Her mom said she and her husband, Steve, and Harriett hope their ailing songbird will be able to return to Sebastopol soon for a late family celebration.

More than that, they yearn to get her cured and home for good.

VERDICT FOR ORCHID: She wasn't born with a law book in her hands, but Orchid Vaghti can't remember a time when she did not aspire to defend the rights of the accused.

Vaghti was just 16 when prominent Santa Rosa criminal defense attorney L. Stephen Turer brought her on as a summer intern. She was 17 when Turer offered her a job as a receptionist, 19 when the lawyer made her his legal assistant.

After hours, she attended SRJC and then Empire School of Law. She passed the bar on her first try and began assisting Turer with cases.

Here recently, Vaghti, now 28, worked the first case of her own.

It grew from an unneighborly dispute among two households of Petaluma-area residents who share a private road. Vaghti said it was ridiculous that her client was placed under citizen's arrest and then charged with a crime.

She was prepared and persuasive in court, and her client was acquitted. She said after winning her first solo case that she's ever more certain that she's doing the right work.

As for mounting the defense in that particular case, Vaghti said, "Now that it's over, I absolutely loved it. When it was happening, I couldn't wait for it to be over!"

ART 'PASTA KING' IBLETO had to sit and take it when the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors heaped on the praise and presented him the first-ever "Golden Noodle" award.

Restless as ever at age 87, Art could only tap his foot as supes took turns thanking him for constantly offering to serve his famed pasta for free at community benefits — including those that raised big money for both the county's Regional Parks and Animal Care & Control.

This is a man accustomed to being the one who ladles it on.

HAIR TODAY: Going back to school after the holidays will be a bigger deal than usual for brothers Romeo and Jerry Baltazar of Rohnert Park.

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Their friends, teachers and classmates have always seen them with their hair long. Real long. But last Friday, Romeo, 9, and Jerry, 7, sat down for their first haircuts — ever.

Stylist Laura Wiemeyer-Keita of Santa Rosa's 4th Street Studio snipped from each a beautiful braid that the boys will donate to Locks of Love for kids who've lost their hair to disease or medical treatments.

Romeo and Jerry said it's never been a problem, wearing their hair nearly to their belts. Their mother, Ashley, suspects they may not miss the occasional, "Are they boys, or girls?"

(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.)