Gold Country Denizens

FBI, murals, music, science, restaurants

By: Susan Rushton
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Bob Snyder, who arranges the speakers for the Friends of the Auburn Library NOON Program, asks that I share the information that FBI agent Angel Ruffcorn will return on Friday, March 16. She was scheduled to speak a couple of weeks ago, but her duties prevented her from speaking the whole hour. So she’s coming back.

… I bumped into Stan Padilla at Bowman Post Office. “It’s finished,” he said, with a smile of relief. When he said “it,” he meant his gigantic mural, “Flight,” installed in the Golden1 Center in Sacramento. This piece is a collaboration between Stan and his daughters and granddaughter Nava, Nalii and Sophia. I learned this from Stan’s Facebook page. You can investigate it, too, and be stunned by the beauty of their “Flight.” Congratulations, Padillas.

… It’s a delight to have books in our midst by local authors. Even authors who used to live here. Writer Barbara Gay and former Auburn resident, artist Libby Nickel, have collaborated on a series of children’s picture books focusing on Travis and Mollie, a goldendoodle and a beagle. You probably remember Gloria Young’s Jan. 20 (Journal) interview with the two women. Winston Smith Books has one of each of several in the series, all focusing on two dogs who are buddies. I hear grandchildren like them.

… At the farmers’ market last Saturday (promoting Silver Screen —, I set up my table next to Chance of Showers String Band. I love sitting next to musicians, and not only because people slow down to listen, so it’s easier to lure them to my table. I also love watching children caught by the music and the musicians. So often they stand mesmerized, staring, fascinated. It’s lovely.

Mike Holmes said hi, detouring through the market on his way to Old Town and the Chinese New Year celebration. He showed me a red envelope the size of a playing card, and labeled it a “hungbao,” which … means red envelope. Aha. He said he had several, and they’re “traditional packets of money, and at New Year’s people pay their debts. I guess I’ll go down and pester them.”

Jackie Weston’s kids Evelyn, 4, and Solomon, 1, got caught by the music, and I had a chance to be amused by the words on Jackie’s hoodie: “World’s OKAYest Mom.” Turns out Jackie’s been here since dirt was invented: “My mom’s Merrill Kagan Weston,” she said. Ah. APi-Marketing. Those Westons. “Yeah. She’s involved in Soroptimists (International of the American River) and AAUW’s Trivia Bee.” Jackie said it, I didn’t. (The Bee is March 24 at the State Theatre; information at,

… I attended Music for Humanity at Pioneer United Methodist Church last Sunday. As always, talented local musicians entertained us for a wonderful cause: helping people lift themselves out of poverty and hunger. The donations received were shared by Prosper Placer and Interfaith Food Closet.

In addition to being entertained, I learned that Colla Voce holds its next concerts May 4 and 7 at Pioneer, and May 6 in Grass Valley. Information:

We also heard Colla Voce Children’s Choir, directed by Anne Vaaler. Before they started singing, Anne told us that “these are wonderful singers and great human beings. So we’re in good shape.” Good — I can stop worrying.

The moment I sat down (next to Ansje Correa, here since 1979), Don Anderson descended on me. He told me that he was a judge at the eighth annual Placer County STEM Fair, held yesterday at William Jessup University. Indeed, because the Navy League is a sponsor, and Don is deeply involved in the League, this is his third year as chair of the League’s STEM committee. And, he said, E.V. Cain has sent a team. Don, let me know earlier next time!

… The Music For Humanity organizers saved the favorite group for last: Dr. Bach and the Jazz Practitioners, who made it clear that they got as big a kick out of entertaining us as we did listening. Charlie Gehlbach told me later he was tired when they started playing, “but not anymore. This stuff gets me going!” That’s obvious, always. As bassist Mickey Bennet has told me more than once, “We have more fun than anybody.”

Jessica's Café isn't open yet, but it's getting there. Several weeks ago I chatted with Jessica Mok and Aaron Kopp at Uptown Signs, who’s working on a sign for the café in Gold Country Mall. It replaces Eric's Home Plate, which replaced Bernie's Hot Dogs.

… Finally, speaking of arriving restaurants: Recently, I told you that the space on Maple Street formerly known as Meat and Potatoes — which replaced Latitudes — will soon become a Cajun restaurant. Wrong. At Celebrity Chefs last Thursday, I met Jim Besselman, the owner of this new enterprise, and he wants me to let you know that “It’s going to be Southern, not Cajun — high-end barbecue.” Plus he’ll distill his own bourbon and whiskey. He also clarified what “soon” means — “September or October.”

I apologize for passing along an inaccuracy, and I will watch that space with fascination.

Another correction: Butt Lady Sally Dawley says Auburn Running Company has donated seven pairs of shoes to her cause, not three. That’s even better!.

That’s my town. Got any items for me? Email me at