Erin Ann Nell is in Windsor, affixed to news of the purging of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and rather wishing she were back home in an oasis 225 miles west of Cairo.

"I'm excited and nervous and the whole bit," said the Healdsburg native, who has lived for most of a decade in Egypt. She believes the military overthrow of Morsi is a good thing for that country, but she does fret over how Morsi's allies in the Muslim Brotherhood might respond.

"They've been known to do some pretty bad things," she said.

Nell, who's 54, once ran the Cabaret Sauvignon nightclub in Sonoma. Today she owns and operates the Bedouin Castle hotel and a travel agency in Egypt's Bahariya Oasis.

She lives there with her husband, Nader, and son, Jesse, who stayed home when she flew to California to visit her mother, Shirley Nell, and take care of some business.

Erin Nell's view is that the uprising did not seek to unseat Morsi because he is Muslim, but because he was "a really bad leader" who soon after taking office as Egypt's first democratically elected president placed himself above the judiciary.

She said ordinary Egyptians also are fed up with problems they blame on his government: regular power outages, garbage dumped along the streets and a maddening shortage of gasoline.

Though she's a bit sorry to be away from Egypt at this moment in the country's history, Nell is pleased to be back in America for the Fourth of July.

"It's the first time in 10 years I'll be able to see my fireworks — and eat hot dogs. Pork, yes."

YOU MILITARY? If you're active-duty or a veteran and you feel like seeing a movie Thursday, Columbia Pictures and Santa Rosa Entertainment Group invite you to take in "White House Down."

Only on Independence Day, Columbia is thanking members of the armed services and vets with free, first-come first-serve admission to the action film at scores of theaters across the country.

If you'd like, bring your military ID and a guest, who'll also be admitted free, to a screening of the flick. It's showing at the Roxy and at Airport Cinemas.

DINNER AT LUTHER'S: A bench made from Luther Burbank's beloved Cedar of Lebanon, which was weakened by disease a century after the famed horticulturist planted it in his yard in about 1893, isn't the only extraordinary thing to be auctioned at the July 13 benefit garden party at his home and gardens.

Someone will buy a dinner for six prepared by chef John Ash and served at the dining room in the Burbank home across Sonoma Avenue from Santa Rosa City Hall.

This is a first. The volunteers who maintain the historic site ( say no one has dined there since sometime before Burbank's widow, Elizabeth, died in 1977.

It's been much longer, of course, since Luther Burbank himself enjoyed a meal there. He died in 1926 and was buried beneath the great cedar that's now so many keepsake benches.

(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and