Scads of Santa Rosa Plaza shoppers had to wonder about the dozen-plus women — all wearing faux reindeer antlers — who hoofed from store to store as though they feared the sleigh would leave without them.

It's pretty sweet, what was going on.

The women all work as office or clinic techs at Montecito Veterinary Center in Rincon Valley. All received a memo from vets Grant Patrick and Steve Diehl, asking them to gather one recent afternoon at 5.

Then and there, each received a personalized packet containing the clip-on antlers, $250 in cash and instructions: They were to get to the mall and, with antlers affixed, spend $150 on themselves, $50 on a named co-worker and $50 on whomever they pleased.

They had two hours.

I gather they were panting from all the running, shopping and laughing when they reconvened at Roberto's Trattoria Lupo for a lovely four-course dinner with their significant others and the vets, and more gifts.

Pretty humane treatment.

CARMINA SALCIDO, a survivor of the ghastliest killing spree in Sonoma County history, is working to build a better life for herself and her daughter, Zophia Angela, who turns eight months old today.

Carmina gets a little boost this evening from Cindy Corcoran, owner of Cin City Burgers on Rohnert Park's Southwest Boulevard.

Corcoran is having Carmina in from 5 to 9 p.m. to sign copies of the book she and writer Steve Jackson wrote about how she came through the murders by her father, Ramon Salcido, that nearly wiped out her family in 1989 and left her with a scar across her throat.

Corcoran will also give Carmina 20 percent of the night's sales proceeds. "I'm just trying to help her out," the burger lady said.

USED TOYS will begin a new life Saturday at the Posada celebration for immigrants' children at Roseland's Sheppard School.

Larry Carlin of the co-sponsoring Social Action Committee at Congregation Shomrei Torah said plans are coming together nicely for the 4 to 7 p.m. party for low-income kids, but right now organizers are short on toys. About 500 people came last year.

Carlin (larrcar@comcast.net) and the Posada's other Santas would love for folks to bring new, wrapped toys (marked with gender and age) to Shomrei Torah by Friday. They're open also to gently broken-in toys.

IN D.C., Santa Rosa school board president and SRJC prof Frank Pugh was trudging along Pennsylvania Avenue after a meeting when he spied a familiar face.

Frank thought he recognized the man walking toward him, and when their eyes met a "good to see you" look came to both their faces.

"As we passed each other," Frank related, "I heard him say in a rather low voice, &‘Good afternoon, senator.'"

Frank chuckled to himself as he wondered whom he and the other fellow thought each other was. He's pretty sure he wasn't mistaken for either of the senators from California.