Know your neighbor: Linda Hayward, solar cooking extraordinaire

“Who knew, we, modern advanced societies, could cook with free abundant clean energy from the sun? It seems like going backward is the answer to moving forward as we respond to the demands of our changing world. (Solar cooking) is one fun, gratifying way to do that.”
– Linda Hayward, Land Park resident

Shown here is Linda Hayward of Land Park from about four years ago, before the addition of her SunOven cooker. / Photo courtesy

Shown here is Linda Hayward of Land Park from about four years ago, before the addition of her SunOven cooker. / Photo courtesy

To Land Park resident Linda Hayward, the joy of solar cooking lies in the thrill of cooking in a sustainable way. The retired Lisbon Elementary School teacher first became aware of solar cooking about 21 years ago by attending a workshop where the class made a box cooker from scratch, which included cardboard and newspaper for insulation.

When she needed to be away all day at work, Linda would put a meal in her cooker and aim it in the direction of where the sun would be at midday. “I knew nothing would burn and the food was still warm for dinner or needing only minimal heating,” Linda said.

And, back then, when she taught at Lisbon, Linda regularly cooked with her class. In an interview with the Land Park News, Linda explained her work with the now-closed Pocket area school. “We would put a Cook-it (panel cooker) in the middle of the quad at Lisbon School. We had a ‘Solar Cake Lottery’ until each classroom in the school had won one of our cakes, eagerly delivered by the students,” she explained.

Just recently, a former student found Linda again by searching her name along with Solar Cookers International on the Internet, leading to their happy reunion. “We now correspond about cooking and other things. How rewarding is that,” Linda said.

As a retiree, Linda now has time to use her cooker almost every day during the summer. “I have minimal air-conditioning in my house, and letting the sun provide the energy keeps my kitchen cool,” she said.

Speaking on the environmental movement and popularization of solar cooking, Linda said people seem to be fascinated with the concept of solar cooking but few make the leap to “own” it. “I think we’re getting close to a time when many people see it as an alternative to wood, gas or electric cooking to minimize carbon output. Now that there are spiffy, efficient cookers available that are being sold in environmentally-savvy stores, it may catch on. I feel that the global impetus is gaining momentum and will show the way with positive results in desperate communities. Perhaps there is local appeal for learning the skill and having equipment available for disaster relief,” she said.

At home, she has four cookers, each she uses with a distinct purpose – her original box, which holds a big pan of lasagna; the simple, easy-to-take-along Cook-it; the SOS sport cooker, which is made from recycled plastic and holds two round black pots; and her most-used Sun Oven, which holds one pot, but can be tilted to capture the angles of the sun in the morning and earlier and later seasons of the year, and reaches temperatures slightly more than 300 degrees.

Rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, potatoes and hard-cooked eggs for potato salad, summer squash, green beans, chili beans, pea soup, lasagna, steel cut oats, corn bread, spare ribs, chicken wings, chicken thighs, whole chicken, chicken broth from the bones, meatloaf, pot roast, pork shoulder for sliders, pasta sauce, taco filling, apple sauce, peach galette, cookies, and cake are all regular solar cooking menu items.

Linda has been involved with Solar Cooking International for more than 20 years. She remembers fondly the big cook-out she participated in on the west side of the Capitol many years ago with cookers covering the whole lawn. “It’s amazing how many box cookers were active in those days. Being a demonstrator at the California State Fair year after year was another highlight. For several years, I served as a volunteer coordinator for demonstration requests and bonded with many like-minded friends who were willing to give their time, often in full-sun, that way. We went to Earth Day events, the (Sacramento) Zoo, Davis Whole Earth Festival, SNFC (Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op), downtown businesses and state buildings, school campuses, etc. During these last few years, I helped by hosting gatherings in my backyard for the SCI family and making donations.”

Currently, Linda is gearing up for Solar Cooking International’s convention in Sacramento during the week of July 13. “The guests are from different parts of Africa. I’m looking forward to hearing about their African projects. Knowing that solar cooking can make a big impact on communities where fuel is scarce and water can be made safe for drinking by pasteurizing with the sun, is the biggest positive outcome for this simple low-technology of passive solar cooking,” she said.

The convention culminates in a daylong festival in William Land Park on Saturday, July 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be solar cooking demonstrations by local and international chefs, solar cooking classes, a solar chef picnic, and kids’ activities. For more information, visit

Long-time C.K. McClatchy metal shop teacher leaves legacy

Sad news hit the C.K. McClatchy community of latter years on May 7 with the passing of long-time metal shop teacher, Ray Allinger, who many described as a good-natured, happy individual who enjoyed his retirement with a zest of life and adventure.

Preceded in death by his first wife Mary and his brother Doug, Ray is survived by his wife Bonnie, son Chris (Patti), daughter Carla (Jason), brother Grant, grandsons Joshua, Lauren, Nathaniel, Luke, Nicholas, Alexander and Matthew.

Richard, as his family called him, was born in Berkeley on May 20, 1931, and spent a great deal of time when he was young with his beloved cousins, hunting in the fields and mountains and fishing in the creeks of Butte County. He fondly remembered going to the 1939 World’s Fair on Treasure Island. While he was only 8 years old, he was allowed to go unsupervised with friends, just as young as he was with only 50 cents in his pockets, 10 cents for the train to get there and back and 40 cents to spend on food or whatever he wanted.

He proudly earned his Eagle Scout Award in 1947 with six other friends in Troop 24. Ray graduated from Berkeley High School in 1950 and Chico State University in 1957. With the generous help of friends and his brother Doug, Ray built an adobe brick house with a red tile roof on 10 acres in Wilton in 1967 and lived there until his death.

One June 1, hundreds of former students, friends and family gathered at Ray’s adobe home for his celebration of life service.

Ray’s wife, Bonnie, spoke with Valley Community Newspapers about the ceremony and about her and her late-husband’s many years together.

“It was a gratifying (turnout at the ceremony),” Bonnie said. “(Ray) had a huge diversity of interests we were involved in. He was a very, very wonderful, giving person in that he was always willing to help people,” she said.

Sadly, Bonnie explained that while over the last eight to 10 years, Ray suffered from many different health issues, involving various kinds of operations, he continued to persevere with a hopeful attitude. “We had many, many years of happy times. We were together for 28 years. It was a nice, wonderful relationship. As he started going downhill, we had to alter our lives, but he still remained happy and he did a good job with that. In the latter years, he was in quite a bit of pain. We have to look at the fact he’s gone but that he’s not in any more pain. He was very positive in his approach of getting over stuff and trying to get back to a normal life where he could still work in his shop and do his iron work and participate in his social activities he enjoyed. He was a happy person.”

Recalling how they met, Bonnie explained it all happened in “1986 or 1987” during an educational trip to visit a vocational school in Arizona.

“Three of us went down there from the Sacramento area. I had seen him in other vocational department affairs. He and the other industrial education teacher were both really nice guys. We had a lot of fun. We learned a lot. We discovered we enjoyed similar interests. That was the beginning. But, we all came back to our regular jobs and came back to work. We didn’t get married until 1992. We just meshed beautifully. We enjoyed each other. He had a lot of diverse interests. I enjoyed them. He enjoyed mine. He was a friendly person. He enjoyed people. He loved kids. He was good at relating with students,” Bonnie said.

During his teaching career, Ray taught at Stanford Jr. High School, part time at Sacramento City College and metal shop at C.K. McClatchy High School until his retirement. Ray was an active member of the Wilton community. He and Mary took square dancing lessons at the Alta Mesa Community Center and he thoroughly enjoyed being the auctioneer at the annual Box Social dinner. He was also very active in the Wilton 4-H Club. Ray took great pleasure in being Master of Ceremonies and planning and participating in evening entertainment at the annual Alta Mesa Fair. Many Wilton kids will remember sitting on the floor in his house stamping, carving, stitching and dying their various leather projects in the leather craft class he taught in 4-H. Ray also made a hand-engraved wood sign for each child that showed an animal at the County Fair. Each sign had the children’s name on top and their show animals’ names below, attached with two chains, to be hung outside the pen or stall. In addition to 4-H, Ray was a valued member of the Western Festival Committee and an active member of the Elk Grove Optimists. Ray loved the Alta Mesa Gun Club. He helped organize and also participated in the shoots, and he held the positions of treasurer and president over his many years of involvement. Ray and Bonnie also enjoyed jazz and assisted for many years for the setup of the jazz festival in Old Sacramento.

Ray loved to fish. Family vacations often revolved around locations with a lake or creek that he could put a line in. These included places like Butte Meadows where his Aunt Grace had a cabin, Weed to visit Father Mellow and Jackson Meadows with Wilton friends.

Several years after his first wife Mary passed away, Ray met Bonnie and began a second, happy chapter in his life. They enjoyed being a part of a dinner group and traveling to their their travel trailer (and later their motor home) and overseas. He also loved the fishing trips he took to Alaska and Mexico. After retirement, Ray continued to work with ornamental iron, creating beautiful railings and gates for the custom brick homes his brother Doug built as well as for the homes of many neighbors and friends. In later years, his iron work drifted to creating bells from oxygen tanks, each one with a unique hanging attachment. He sold some of the bells and also enjoyed donating one each year for the Optimist crab feed.

In the late 1970s, Ray’s close cousin Fred introduced him to diving for abalone in Fort Bragg and he was hooked. This was the beginning of many cherished family trips to the coast. Ray loved diving, spearing fish and just sitting around camp visiting, and the evening sing-alongs where he would play his banjo. Throughout the years, additional family and friends would come along and soon become part of the annual group.
Retired McClatchy teacher and counselor Jim Coombs said Ray was one of his favorite teachers to work with. “We had lots of laughs together. He was truly one of the best educators I met in my 38 years as a teacher/counselor, definitely in my top 10. He was so good with the kids and made a major impact on many hundreds of lives. I never saw him give up on a kid, no matter how big an asshole the kid was. Today our schools miss the likes of Ray and Chuck Warner (print shop teacher) who gave those non-academic kids a chance to succeed.”

Jim shared two quick stories that came to mind in regard to Ray.

As the Vietnamese immigrants became more integrated into school life, Jim would call them in and ask them if they would like an American first name to go by, which would end up on their transcripts.

Jim did this for many kids and it became a joke around the lunchroom. But one day, Ray sends this poor kid who is not Jim’s counselee in with a sealed note. The incident is still clear as crystal in Jim’s memory. “The kid stands there while I read (the note). In huge letters Ray has written his name: FU KING YU. In quotes, he says, ‘NEEDS A NAME CHANGE.’ I asked the boy about doing this and his response was ‘FU KING YU is bad name.’ So in less than one minute, FU KING YU became KENNY YU and life was much better for him thanks to Ray. From then on, I was Kenny’s counselor whenever he had a problem even though I wasn’t his counselor.”
The other story had to do with Ceila “BOOM BOOM” Boomhower, who was Ray’s sixth period teacher’s assistant. “BOOM BOOM was pretty accurate in describing her and all of the boys loved having Ceila in sixth period as she never wore a bra, and, boy were they big,” recalled Coombs.

“(Celia’s) fifth period teacher was an old biddy who still lived in the 1930s and every day she would send Ceila out of fifth period with a note that said, ‘Needs a bra.’ She wanted Ceila suspended for violating the dress code. After this had happened about five times, Ceila and I made a deal that would get me fired today. Ceila brought in a bra and put it in a drawer in the back of the guidance clinic. After 4th period she would pop in and put on her bra. After fifth period, she would pop back in again and take it off for Ray and the sixth period class. Ray and I had many laughs over Ceila and the bra story.”

Joking aside, Ray clearly made a difference in many students’ lives.

Starting high school averaging C and D grades, one of Ray’s former students, Kerry McColloch, said things turned around because of his metal shop teacher. “(Ray) was the dad I never had. That’s saying it mildly,” Kerry said. “He set me on a path that straightened me out. Ray had a knack and ability to get through hard-headed, dumb kids our age when we thought we knew everything. He put the fear of God in you. He had a way to teach you without you knowing it.”

While Kerry excelled in metal shop and continued his studies in college, he followed his then-new-found dream of opening a RV trailer repair and storage business (McColloch’s Rv Repair & Storage, 2420 Harvard St.) and hasn’t looked back. That motivation and courage to start the business on his own volition, Kerry said, was inspired by Ray. “It’s a good feeling to have. I put my two kids through college. And this all goes back to Ray. Three years ago, I told him all of this and it made him cry.”

Bob Sertich, a college-bound 1967 McClatchy graduate, said Ray was his class’s sponsor. “I was a class officer and Ray would always encourage us to do stuff we didn’t think we could do. I remember him saying, ‘Bob, you can do this.’ He was really positive and encouraging. I had lost my dad a few years before I started at McClatchy. There were male teachers and the principal who took care of me. There weren’t that many people who didn’t have a father. It’s not like today with divorces. (Ray) was one of the males who filled the void.”
As Jim Coombs stated: “Even as his health began to fail in recent years, Ray kept an optimistic attitude and stayed as active as his health would allow. Ray will be remembered for his positive outgoing personality, his willingness to help a friend, soup parties, tool loan cards, horseshoes, his beautiful iron work and his love of playing the banjo and ukulele. In addition to his family, Ray leaves behind many dear friends from Wilton, people he met during his teaching years and from traveling and the industrial education guys he befriended.”

Artistic flow at the river’s edge

On a warm and Delta breezy evening, psychedelic colors illuminated the Sacramento River with their warmth and coolness, spinning out of control from the careful hands of two friends – Ryan and Nate.

Finding comfort in nature, they practice swinging these tethered weights, also known as poi, until the flow of the rhythmical patterns solidify into Celtic-shaped knots.

“It kind of just flows. You make a big circle, then a small circle, and a small circle, small circle, big circle. It’s like a pattern. So if you go at the right pace, it never really stops at any point. It’s Zen-like and a little bit mindless,” Ryan said.

Mindless, perhaps, but their minds are transfixed. The hardest part, Ryan said, is just letting go and allowing the tear-drop shaped, silicone vessels expose the programmable LED lights that changed from solid pinks and blues to rainbow and strobe.

While speaking about his progression into the art form known as flow, Ryan said: “I felt the more I let go and just let it happen, it feels more natural and it flows. I guess that’s why they call it flow because it flows out of you versus trying to manipulate it yourself.”

On another evening, Ryan was there spinning poi as his best friend hula hooped to the sound of waves crashing from the speed boats cruising up and down river.

With effortless control, the hula hoop traveled up and down her body, dancing around her arms, neck, chest and waist, as time seemed to stand still, and as the music of the night, reverberated through portable speakers connected an iPod.

Always interested in fire dancing, Ryan said he found poi through some sleuthing around on the internet. “I saw fire dancers doing it and I thought, ‘wow, that’s really cool. But how do you get to that point? You can’t just practice with fire.’ So I found a tutorial online that taught me how to make sock poi.”

Starting with old knee-high socks, Ryan filled them with rice to make a ball and twirled them around for about a week and a half, but that’s all it took. “I was just hooked; I couldn’t put it down. I thought this is something I could get into, so I just started to do some research.” About five or six months ago, Ryan found the website,, where he said he bought his poi. “I had them for a good month and I was on the fence about it, but then I just fell in love with it, and I really haven’t stopped since.”

The Carmichael Seniors Club celebrates its 45th anniversary on April 10

The Carmichael Seniors Club most senior members, Virginia Wells and Elsie Lambert are in their 90s. Photo courtesy of Valerie Hobin

The Carmichael Seniors Club most senior members, Virginia Wells and Elsie Lambert are in their 90s. Photo courtesy of Valerie Hobin

As the bingo numbers are read on a typical Thursday at the Carmichael Seniors Club, 89-year-old Nora Savage is in luck. A number of hers was called out, but she didn’t notice right away. Not until her daughter, Kathleen Thomas piped in: “Mother, would you like to take advantage of I-24?” The response was deadpan: “Would? Oh, yes I would.” “I keep an eye out. (Mom’s) health is good, but she’ll get distracted. I just make sure she doesn’t miss a number,” Kathleen said about her mom, who happens to be the longest standing member of the club. Nora, a long-time member who joined the club 28 years ago, was recently joined at the meetings by her retired daughter, Kathleen.
Kathleen said she really enjoys spending time with her mom and the club is just another opportunity to do that. She drives her mother to the club meetings when she herself joined back in January. “She went for years, and when I retired, I went as a guest a couple of times. She had friends who would pick her up. None of them drive anymore. (Mom) said she would just take Paratransit, but I said, no, I will just go with you.”
Nora’s favorite thing about the club? Just spending time with people. She lives by herself and she’s known a lot of those ladies for years. She keeps coming back because of the fun and enjoyment she gets from spending time with her friends she’s made over the years.
At the club, birthdays are celebrated; potlucks are shared; and bingo is enjoyed, explained club president Valerie Hobin. “Frequently a bus trip is planned to local casinos. The latest venture is attending local theater production matinees. The club enjoyed the performance of ‘Scrooge’ at the Christmas holiday season.”
The club recently received a proclamation from the Carmichael Recreation and Parks District acknowledging the 45th anniversary. As the club forges ahead, its objective is to increase membership after a recent decline.
Meanwhile, Kathleen is the youngest club member. “It just seems people working longer, raising grandchildren. The club is great. You get to get out to the community,” she said.
Added Valerie: “Club attendance is steady, but it has decreased in the past few years due to many other senior activities in the community and seniors moving into retirement complexes.”
In an interview with the Arden-Carmichael News, Valerie said there has been attrition over the years with folks going into retirement homes. “Often they just get too busy once they get into retirement homes,” she said.
Valerie said the club works closely with retirement facilities who have their marketing staff introduce members to their facilities. “Often we will have them play bingo and have them reach out to the community.”
It may be a double-edge sword for the club’s membership base – making it so easy for seniors to come to the club, get information about retirement homes, and then leave the club. So, as, Valerie explained: “It’s always nice to build up the membership. After all, new people are retiring all the time.”
The Carmichael Seniors Club is “just a social group” though if there are speakers, they are generally on safety or security issues. The club has started attending theater productions, like those at the nearby Chautauqua Playhouse.
Valerie described her involvement with the club over the years. A member since 1999, she said that first year she was involved, members urged her to lead the group as its president. “I said, ‘no,’ but by 2000, I was, which was fun because of the new millennium,” recalled Valerie, who had a three-year term then. After a hiatus as president, Valerie is back. She said some of the changes over the years involve outreach. “For being seniors, they really reach out to the community. The little theater productions, they enjoy those. We try to carpool so everyone can attend,” she said.
Molly Solis, a past president who has been a club member for six years, added that many members help non-driving members with transportation to the club meetings and activities. Molly speaks highly on her experience at the Carmichael Seniors Club. “I have developed so many new friendships,” she said.
While the club has attracted mostly women over the years, men are more than welcome to join in the club activities. “Men come and go,” Valerie said, stating that at one time, there were eight in the club, so some Fathers’ Day, there was a big to do. “We had a hot dog luncheon. They got pampered,” Valerie said.
She remembers one male member in particular who used to make wooden trucks. He lead the group in a special work project held at his home, where club members painted them. After a few work sessions, they donated them to the Sacramento Children’s Home. “You just don’t get much more satisfaction than to donating to children.”
The club meets the second and fourth Thursday of every month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bingo follows each session. The annual membership fee is $10. A 50-cent charge is paid each meeting at the door for coffee and condiments.
For more information, call Valerie at 916-487-5525.

Faces and Places: Egg hunt and pancake breakfast

Carmichael’s annual egg hunt and pancake breakfast was held on April 19. Children met the Easter Bunny and enjoyed gathering candy-filled eggs. The event featured vendors, arts and crafts, golden eggs and more.

Every 15 Minutes Mock Drill at New Technology High School

Designed to enhance teen awareness on the effects of drug and alcohol related automobile accidents, Argonaut Park, which neighbors New Technology High School, was transformed the scene of a deadly collision on May 1.

With a New Tech teen laying flat on top of the hood of a car and his “brains” splattered there, the simulation is intended to increase the students’ awareness of potential outcomes associated with such decision making. While it was just a simulation, student responded with utter shock, as evidenced by some of these photographs. There were real police and firefighters supporting the event as well as the California Highway Patrol and Office of Traffic Safety who was there taking a proactive role.

According to The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 12,998 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2007. This represents a 3.7 percent decline in drunk driving fatalities from 2006. On the one hand, it’s positive that fatalities are declining especially – the 15 percent decrease among underage drunk driving fatalities. On the other hand, 12,998 families still received a visit from law enforcement, telling them their loved one wasn’t coming home due to an entirely preventable crime.

Compose Yourself: Songwriting workshop at SCC set for Friday

“Compose Yourself” is a day-long journey into the heart and soul of songwriting with world-renowned composer and singer-songwriter Lourdes Pérez. This workshop will assist individuals with no prior experience writing lyrics or composing music to move through a process of writing songs.

Pérez will engage the participants in an animated process of gathering words, phrases and themes to be combined to create song lyrics. Participants will then be introduced to choosing various chord progressions, rhythms and the emotions these choices evoke. Using this method, melodies and rhythms will then be selected and applied to the lyrics. The small group uses this method to compose a collective song by the end of the morning, which then opens a window to imagine and create an individual song by the afternoon, with Pérez’s one-on-one guidance.

From traditional Spanish ballads to songs with modern, socially conscious themes, Pérez is a perfect fit for a workshop in the interdisciplinary program, as she mixes politics and art in a one-day workshop, which is open to the community at large.

In an interview with the Land Park News, event organizer, international studies professor at Sacramento City College, Riad Bahhur is a huge fan of Pérez. Asked which songs of hers are his favorites, he said, “I like all of her songs. She has a range. One song is not like any other. It’s hard to describe. It’s like describing a painting to someone. Her own music is like that. She has a powerful voice and the themes range from love to resistance.”

Bahhur recalled a 2009 performance at SCC in which Pérez sang. “She created an intimate space. She has an amazing rapport with the audience. The Argentinean singer Mercedes Sosa just passed away and Pérez did a homage to her, and the students really clicked with her,” Bahhur said.

In a phone interview on Wednesday, Pérez described what Sosa meant to her and why she chose to dedicate her performance to the singer. “Back in 1995, I was asked to perform at her concert. Then I wrote a tribute to her. Then I got to sing with her in Boston and in Austin, which was a beautiful coming together. Singing with her was a highlight. To many in Latin America, she meant a voice of beauty and honesty. When I met her, it was like meeting Mother Earth in voice. She meant a lot to me. It was a great honor. She taught me a lot. She shared her life story with me and everyone she met,” Pérez said.

The intimate environment of the workshop is poised to be a special treat to students, especially those who may find sitting in front of blank sheet of paper a daunting experience. “Once in a while I do a workshop and open the opportunity to those who may want to learn how to write a song. There are many different ways to write a song. But this workshop will break the steps down,” Pérez said.

Pérez will help the students get words onto paper and watch them unfold. During the process of writing the song, the class develops chord coordination with flash cards. They will do different combinations and people will choose what sound goes with their song. She’s done it with children, with adults. “There are no age limitations to how to write a song. It’s really a fun process. It’s for all ages. At the end of the workshop, everybody leaves with a song of theirs,” Pérez said.

SCC will be Pérez’s only stop in Sacramento before returning to Texas. Speaking highly of her visits to SCC, she said: “It’s always been fun, a lot of work, but I get new ways of thinking and seeing the world. City College is a beautiful place. It’s stop for nurturing the soul.”
This program is offered jointly by the SCC Cultural Awareness Center and International Studies Program. Those requiring special accommodations should contact DSPS at 558-2087.

If you go:

What: Compose Yourself songwriting workshop
When: Friday, May 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Cultural Awareness Center, Sacramento City College
Contact: Prof. Riad Bahhur at or 650-2738 to register.

Sutter Children’s Center, Sacramento welcomed its new therapy dog on Tuesday with a party in her honor

Marty, a black Labrador/golden retriever mix, didn’t have to entertain her guests, they were glad to come to her.
Patients of all ages – and their families – came to the playroom on the sixth floor of Sutter Memorial Hospital to welcome Marty, the hospital’s fourth therapy dog, and second currently on duty. Marty lay on the carpet as children took turns petting her and rubbing her tummy.

Marty even had some ice cream (made especially for pooches) to commemorate the big day.
Millie, who’s been at Sutter Memorial for more than nine years, joined the celebration and loved getting as much attention as her new colleague.

Millie and Marty are graduates of Canine Companions for Independence, which provides highly trained assistance dogs to people with disabilities and to professional caregivers providing pet assisted therapy. Their unique bedside manner brings joy and comfort to the youngest patients.

Paige Springhorn, Sutter Children’s Center child life specialist and Marty’s handler, has seen firsthand the influence Marty has had since coming to hospital in February.

“Children who are in the hospital have an instant connection with Marty,” she said. “Marty loves kids so it’s easy for them to approach her. She allows the kids to take their minds off their illness.”

For children who may have a dog at home, having Marty around allows them to spend time with another canine and feel that sense of familiarity.

One patient, Ben, has a Chihuahua at home and often takes Marty down the hall for walks. He enjoys the time to take care of Marty, even if it’s brief.

Marty has adapted well to her new surroundings and was anxious to get to work after graduating from CCI with Paige in January.

Paige and Marty spent time at CCI’s Northwest Regional Training Center in Santa Rosa. During the training, students are strategically matched with assistance dogs and learn how to work with them safely and effectively. The dogs are trained two years prior in up to 40 commands before they are ready to graduate.

Sutter Children’s Center, Sacramento’s Child Life Program added its Pet Therapy Program in 2003 as a way to help ease the minds and fears that children have while staying in the hospital. The dogs play a large role in supporting children and families, becoming part of their hospital routines, often times helping with physical therapy, relationship building, motivation and emotional support.

“Our pet therapy program is very unique,” said Amy Medovoy, Sutter Children’s Center, Sacramento’s child life coordinator. “There are not too many programs like ours in the country. And we’ve had a lot of success. The children love our dogs; we see it in their faces every day.”

Recognized Elmhurst elm spared the ax…for now

A giant Siberian Elm on T Street which appeared slated for imminent removal has received a temporary reprieve while arborists determine if the sprawling tree is at all salvageable.

The tree, estimated to be between 70 to 100 years of age, is notable to surrounding residents for its extraordinary horizontal limb, which appears to defy gravity as it extends over the grassy median known officially as Sunset Park. The City of Sacramento’s Urban Forestry Division recently placed a notice of removal on the behemoth’s trunk, which caught the attention of many citizens.

Pamela Graudushus lives in Elmhurst and enjoys walking under the shade of the tree canopy on T Street. She can’t understand why the tree, with its green leaves and unique appearance, would have to be removed.
“I walk my granddaughter down here and she loves this tree,” says Graudushus. “They can’t replace this tree, it would take 100 years. This really needs to be looked at before anything is done.”

That reaction and outreach from other people who are concerned about losing the tree seems to have had an effect. Tim Dailey works for the city and is in charge of overseeing this elm’s future.

“We started receiving calls about the tree after the notice went up, and with all the interest in doing whatever we can to save the tree, we’ve decided to conduct more testing before any decision to remove the tree is made,” says Dailey.

Branches on the top of the tree have shown signs that Dutch Elm Disease is present. Over the past three years, crews have removed several large east-facing branches that have died. While the city has attempted to mitigate the risk up till now, the tree may be reaching the end of manageable lifespan.

“Normally, we test for disease at the trunk, but that process effectively kills the tree,” Dailey explains. “What we’re going to do instead is remove more dead limbs from the top and conduct thorough testing to see if Dutch Elm is the issue here.”

The tree’s trademark horizontal branch has never been a concern to the city up to this point. All observations to date indicate that the limb is healthy and solid.

“Everybody loves that (branch)”, says Pat Leonard, who lives directly across the street from the tree. “People get out of their cars and take their picture under it.”

Another Elmhurst resident is planning to hold his daughter’s wedding ceremony under the elm in June. For now, it appears that the tree will likely still be standing for special event. What happens after that will depend on the test results.

Interested parties are encouraged to contact Tim Dailey at 808-6336.

Poppies are blooming all over East Sac

Each spring colorful wooden poppies throughout East Sacramento announce the East Sac Garden Tour, a benefit for David Lubin Elementary School. The self-guided walking tour—held each Mother’s Day weekend, make it a perfect outing for moms and families—offering locals and visitors alike the chance to peek into a neighbor’s garden.

This year’s seven gardens, concentrated in East Sacramento’s beautiful Fab Forties neighborhood, range from a stately, blooming entertainer’s delight (complete with swimming pool and hidden secret garden areas) designed by renowned landscape architect Michael Glassman to a sunny urban farm with clucking chickens, enclosed raised beds, and a peaceful pond designed by the owner, as well as shady retreats, leafy glades, edible gardens, and more. All the gardens are beautifully embellished by local designers and florists, such as Haus, Geographica, and Kerrie Kelly Design Lab.

The tour, which marks its sixteenth year this spring, benefits the students of David Lubin Elementary, providing funding for enrichment programs such as art and school gardens, as well as teacher aides. In addition to the gardens, the school grounds are free and open to the public, who can visit an artisan boutique (perfect for Mother’s Day shopping), appreciate a student chalk art show and the school gardens, and grab refreshments at the Sweet Stop or the food trucks on campus, which are new this year. A Tea Garden luncheon held at historic Sutter Lawn Tennis Club (tickets $15) offers relaxed refreshment.

Whether you’re a dedicated gardener seeking ideas, a novice seeking inspiration, or simply a visitor hoping to enjoy the special atmosphere of this historic neighborhood’s most beautiful yards, this year’s tour has much to offer.

Tour tickets are $20 in advance and $25 (at the school) on the tour dates of May 10 and 11. Luncheon tickets are $15. Tickets are available at David Lubin Elementary, 3535 M St.; online at; and at several local businesses, such as East Sacramento Hardware, Talini’s Nursery, and more (check the website for a full list).