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Lorraine’s Lowdown: Pumpkins are like people

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Our Humble Hamlet tried to salvage a decades-old tradition by organizing a COVID-safe, six-foot socially distanced Halloween parade for children, but plans were nixed by public health regulations. The GeeVee parade was scheduled to end with volunteers in full PPE handing out pre-packaged bags of safe treats — arguably the best costumes during these strange times. Instead, over-the-top Halloween decorations and photo opportunities abound downtown (see photos). Fair warning to other towns that champion their Halloween celebrations: GeeVee is bringing it…

You Had Me at Fried Apple Fritter Nuggets. The made-to-order tummy yummies are just one lure of the 29th Annual Pumpkin Patch at Bierwagen’s Donner Trail Fruit and Farm Market. The fourth-generation farm in Chicago Park is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday thru Halloween. Grab a wagon and pull it through the patch until you find the perfect pumpkin. The food booth (think Happy Apple Kitchen cuisine from across the street) is open weekends. The Kids’ Play Area has been COVID-closed this year, but 10-year-old Leroy the Longhorn with his six-foot wide horns remain. “He’ll eat out of your hand, but he won’t let you pet him or touch his horns,” says self-proclaimed Retired Grouchy Old Sage Chris Bierwagen. “Leroy really guards those big things…”

Viewing the Scene through a Child’s Eyes, 4-year-old Annabelle Meyers marveled, “Look at all the tiny baby pumpkins! Pumpkins are like people. They come in all different shapes and sizes…”

The Bierwagen Farm was once sprawling, but now portions have been leased to others and new Ag Endeavors spawned in ChiPark. Chris’s nephew Kevin Pharis and wife Amy sell grass-fed beef and small-batch free-range chicken, turkey and eggs at Pharis Farm (http://www.PharisFarm.com); Jeremy Mineau’s Super Tuber Farm grows and sells organic root vegetables and more (http://www.SuperTuberFarm.com); and Molly Nakahara and Paul Glowaski, who operate Dinner Bell Farm (http://www.DinnerBellFarm.com), grow Certified Organic fresh flowers and raise Animal Welfare Approved pigs. All embody the pioneer spirit and love of the land…

Trick or Tri Tip. The Rotary Club of Grass Valley hosts a drive-thru dinner fundraiser 4-6 p.m. on Halloween (http://www.GVRotary.org). Order in advance, then don a costume to drive through Lyman Gilmore Middle School’s parking lot to pick up your tri tip, ‘tater salad, beans and garlic bread. Proceeds benefit youth programs and scholarships…

From Orphan to Millionaire. A new book chronicles the life of George Starr, who managed the Empire Gold Mine for cousin William Bourn and was instrumental in creating Memorial Park and the Bret Harte Inn. Historian-author Gage McKinney was inspired to write “Gold Mining Genius: A Life of George Starr” when he and Retired General Orlo Steele visited years ago in the living room of Vince Seck, a fan and collector of Starr material and memorabilia. Vince is the esteemed former GeeVee police chief who has portrayed Starr for a quarter century at Empire Mine State Park events…

Orlo Is One of the Few Remaining Locals who, during the last years of industrial mining, mucked the depths of the Empire Gold Mine to help pay his way through Stanford University. Orlo retired in 1990 after 35 years of active service in the US Marine Corps. “One week later, I returned to government service as the Director of Security for the Federal Aviation Administration at FAA headquarters in Washington DC,” says Orlo. “My wife Cathy and I moved back to Grass Valley in 1994. We are living in the house in which I was raised on Alta Street…”

Gage Dedicated his Book to Vince and Empire Mine volunteers, with a respectful nod to Orlo. “The book is an occasion to celebrate Vince and Orlo,” says Gage, “while examining the career of the man who resuscitated the Empire plus a succession of Grass Valley mines, providing jobs and livelihoods for many. Starr helped lay the foundation of the Grass Valley we know today…”

Grass Valley Florist literally goes the extra mile on some of its deliveries (http://www.GrassValleyFlorist.com). When delivery driver Audrey Delgado discovered one of her customers wasn’t home, she called the customer’s cell phone, learned where the customer was, and drove the distance to deliver the flowers there. “We do what our guts tell us to do for our customers,” says Ingrid Peterson, GeeVee Florist Owner. “One time we had two sympathy deliveries for two sisters, and one wasn’t home. We tracked her down at her sister’s house, so we were able to deliver both bouquets at the same time. Sometimes you have to be a bit of a detective…”

More Flowers. Kim Pedley is a sales clerk at Rare Earth Landscape Materials who knows rock, and she also has a green thumb. For the past 10 years, Kim has created large, colorful cottage mix flower bouquets which she sells for only $8 at the Rare Earth office Tuesdays and Saturdays. Kim, who says this year’s flower-growing season has only two weeks remaining, adds basil, mint oregano, and other herbs. Says Kim, “Flowers are my joy, my zen…”

Happy 40th Anniversary to The Magic Carpet in NevCity. Paul and Eileen Jorgensen started the business in 1980, and were joined eight years ago by the husband-wife team of Peter Cohen and Carolien van Straten. Their anniversary sale runs through Monday (http://www.TheMagicCarpet.biz). “We offer vegetable-dyed Oriental rugs, and all are hand-knotted,” says Peter. “We support Cultural Survival projects, weavers, and their communities in rug-weaving countries such as India, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Nepal. We also help provide free quality education to children in rural India…”

Retail Therapy. Nevada County’s Habitat for Humanity ReStore is looking for volunteers (http://www.NCHabitat.org), from stocking shelves to customer service…

“Nothing Is Impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m Possible.’” — Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993), British actress and humanitarian…

Whenever possible, please send your happy news to [email protected]



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