Life Itself

On Friday, California Governor Schwarzenegger declared a water emergency for the state, and warned that we can't count on upcoming years to be any better. Leaking toilets, cracked underground pipes, leaving the water running while brushing teeth - all add up to wasted gallons of this necessity of life. Some people can't stand to drink plain, pure water. I savor it, like this glass at Ardella's Diner.

The Mortuary

There's one mortuary in town, Anker-Lucier, located on the corner of Commercial and School Streets. The red tile roof with white stucco is rare in this county, and reminds me of the Spanish Colonial Revival style found in more southerly parts of the state. There were a couple of Mexican land grants in Mendocino, but the Spanish era missions came no further north than Sonoma county.

I did not personally know Dave Tiller, but earlier this week he lost his long battle with pancreatic cancer. I do know that he was a police officer who touched many lives here in Willits, and his memorial will be this Saturday. Photos of a barbecue to raise funds for his treatment trips to San Francisco were posted here last June.

Corraled Black Cattle

Little Lake Valley offers wide swathes of pastureland, but I read recently that the dry winter we've been having has slowed the natural growth of grass on the fields and hillsides. What currently look like putting greens ideally should be full of lush grazing by now. At a season not normally requiring it, ranchers have had to purchase supplemental feed for their herds. It's a clear indication of the fragile balance of nature with local economics. The Willits Action Group is exploring what it would take to revive local grain and legume farming, and have started by investing in small scale storage facilities, and offering shares in the commodities to the local population. If the capacity and demand can be put in place, the our area's own farmers might be willing to fill the void.

Bunny Dumpster

I'm not entirely clear on what all the spray-paint tagging on the one dumpster means, but at least I can read the word "bunny" on the right. Can anyone tell me what it says on the left?

These were just the outer edge of a large collection of commercial sized dumpsters, apparently being stored on the big lot next to the Solid Wastes of Willits transfer station. They turned out to be fun photo subjects, so I may have to post some more from that excursion. The large structures in the background are part of the Willits Redwood Company mill, across Blosser Lane.

Water Feature

This big vacant lot is smack-dab in the middle of "old" Willits, and is right next to the Deco house on the Hiram Willits property seen yesterday. To the south is the Van Hotel. To the west is St Francis in the Redwoods church, at the intersection of Main and Commercial Streets. I've been in Willits since 2001, and this is how it has always looked - puddles in the winter, dry potholes in the summer. It would be great to keep it open with a vast food and medicine producing garden, with all the Highway 101 traffic lumbering by, but maybe the owner has other plans. Right now, it serves as a sort of downtown art installation, with random amoeba shapes dispersed all across it. A sea of holes.

The deeper history is that the Willits Hotel used to stand here. It had over a hundred rooms, and included all sorts of traveler's amenities, but was torn down more than fifty years ago. I would have thought anything else built here since then would still be standing, but I don't have more information about it. It catches rain. Hurray for rain!

Deco in Blue

Moving away from the Craftsman Challenge set forth by Laurie in South Pasadena, this house is a rarity in Willits. Although it's without much of the embellishment associated with Art Deco, this building includes many of the elements that followed on from the post-Craftsman era. Extremely simple and lean in comparison to the woody struts and and natural materials of Craftsman design, and even further removed from the lacy Victorians, the glass brick flanking the front door was a huge leap in visual ideas. Also note the oval curve of the front step overhang. This is located across the street from the Van Hotel, under several big redwood trees. The booklet that told me about Churchill staying at the Van tells me this was constructed on the site of the old Hiram Willits farmstead in 1936. That must have been a shock. The former Willits house was a two-story Victorian dating back to the pioneer's settlement of 1857. Now, in its turn, this house is historic as well.

Shuster's Truck Lot

The "domino" effect of the shrinking economy will likely put the squeeze on any number of local businesses. The Shuster family has been around here for generations, and their fleet of white trucks are commonly seen on the roads of the region. Let's hope they "keep on truckin'" for a long time to come.

Winter Bee

Willow catkins are opening up these days, offering plenty of pollen for bees to gather in their leg pouches.

Loose Caboose

The Loose Caboose is a popular sandwich eatery tucked away on Wood Street behind the Book Juggler, with their dining patio leading to the restaurant. As you step through the gate, this fantasy painting greets you with childlike conceptions of castle and rainbow and fairy, along with a "loose" caboose, unaided by a locomotive. The railroad theme is appropriate for a town with so many rail connections, and so many fantasies of seeing them all operate again.

Dog Laws

This sign was posted all around the periphery of the cemetery. I suppose the neighboring properties have livestock, and when mourners bring their pets some conflicts ensue. Tucked away on this edge of the lot, the grave of an infant lies, long gone in 1910.

Mariposa Metamorphosis

I wasn't around Willits for the beginnings of Mariposa Market, but I'm told they once were located in the shop spaces behind a wall I posted on this blog last spring. For the past decade, they have done business behind this iconic mural. Now, once again, they have metamorphosed into a new and larger space, right next door to the last one, on the site of the old Skunk Motel. They dedicated themselves to natural and organic foods, health products and clothing way back when only "hippies" were interested in such things. Today, they have more mainstream competition, but seem to be going strong on greater mainstream interest.

METALfx Employee Patio

The outdoor break area is too damp for comfort these days for employees of METALfx. A recent story in the local paper indicates far greater discomfort is looming for them if this manufacturing company decides to leave town. The hope is that they will sufficiently retrench by simply consolidating their two Willits plants into one. If that doesn't pencil out, 150 jobs will go somewhere else.