Monday, November 18, 2019

Thanksgiving turkeys for Wonder Valley.


Friends of Wonder Valley, a 501(c)(3) organization, with a mission of enhancing the lives of those living in Wonder Valley, is pleased to announce that we’ll be giving away up to 60 Thanksgiving turkeys to Wonder Valley residents on Saturday, November 23, 2019. Sign up starts at 10 a.m., at the:
Wonder Valley Community Center, 80526½ Amboy Road, Wonder Valley CA 92277.

The turkeys will be distributed at the WVCC sometime after 12 p.m. (noon). There will be UP TO 60 turkeys. Turkeys average 12-14 pounds. You are not guaranteed a turkey. This event will be first come, first served. Any turkeys not distributed will be donated to Food for Life.

  • You must be a Wonder Valley resident to receive a turkey. 
  • One turkey per parcel. 
  • You will be asked to fill out a form and to provide PROOF OF RESIDENCY in Wonder Valley. You may fill out the form at the food distributions on November 19 or 20, and then just sign in on Saturday. 
  • If you are picking up a turkey in Twentynine Palms you will not be allowed to pick up another turkey in Wonder Valley - we want to be sure that everyone gets a turkey. 
  • You must be present to pick up your turkey. 

The Wonder Valley Community Center will open at 10 a.m.

If you have any questions, please call Teresa Sitz at (760) 367-9880.

Bill Hillyard book event.

Join us to hear William Hillyard read from and discuss his new book, Welcome to Wonder Valley.

Local author Catherine Connors will interview Bill about his book starting at 3 p.m., on Saturday, November 3, at the Wonder Valley Community Center, 80526-1/2 Amboy Road in the shadow of the palm tree cell tower, in Wonder Valley.

Bill will sign copies of the book, which will be available for sale at the event. Contributors to his Indiegogo campaign will have the opportunity to pick up a copy of the book, as well. All are invited to join Bill later for a Natty Ice at The Palms.

This event is sponsored by the Friends of Wonder Valley. Admission to this special event will be free, though a donation at the door is always appreciated.

Two suspicious fires.

Two suspicious fires in Wonder Valley Sunday morning

County Fire Battalion Chief Scott Tuttle reported a fire at Valle Vista and Falderman about 1:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. A second fire was reported at Blower and Pioneer about 3 a.m. County Fire and the Combat Center responded to both fires.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Down A Dark Desert Highway

Five years ago, when we first visited Wonder Valley, I was looking to find a place to retire that was less hustle and bustle than the Live Music Capital of the world in Austin, Texas. In Austin music was a stone's throw from wherever I was at the moment, and I can't deny I miss it sometimes. The Hi Desert however has a thriving music scene that is actually probably more deverse than Austin, unbelievably, and that becomes both a blessing and a curse in many ways. I am still feeling my way around it using baby steps to discover new sounds and new artists.

Here in Wonder Valley, we have a single business that takes the form of such badassery that it is a legend here where the summers reach 120° and your eyes dry in the sockets. The business I am describing is the Palms Restaurant. The vibe is sometimes similar to something out of a Quinton Terrentino film if the screenwriter was Sam Peckinpah. 

When one enters the big wooden door there is a feel of brilliant disarray, not unlike the bar scene in Star Wars, where it is not at all unlikely to encounter a wide swath of unique souls from older desert rats like myself to much younger beings adorned with mohawks. On my most current visit a young lady replaced more standard desert attire with frilly granny panties as her sole means of attire below the waist. Every visit can provide new visuals, but the vibe, what makes the Palms soo cool is constant and chill beyond anything I've ever experienced in a regular hang.

The dominant vibe is cozy, not unlike the famous Boston bar of TV fame, but at a moment's notice it can turn into a more raucous one that is similar to the hardcore clubs I frequented in my younger days like the 9:30 Club and Black Cat in Washington, DC where I grew up.

All genres are well represented for the most part except honky tonk, which is unusual considering the history of the Hi Desert love affair with Gram Parsons. Now that the weather is cooler, I wear my Cosmic American Music colors in hopes that the next Grevious Angel comes wandering in to take the stage.

If one feels closed in, because it can get very busy at times, out beyond the back performance space is the majestic palm covered back patio and an outdoor stage with its own tour bus and guillotine sometimes used to solve customer disputes.

Kevin Bone, James Sibley and a cast of excellent barkeeps will keep a drink in front of you at all times and Laura Sibley makes the best burgers and fries on the planet. You can afford to over indulge because this ain't no over priced hipster hang. No the Palms will never drain your bank account. 

I hope if you wander down that dark desert highway on your way to Sin City or La La Land, you stop at what us desert rats consider the best damn watering hole around. You may even see rock and roll royalty like Miss Pamela Des Barres dancing to the Americana sounds of Mike Stinson.  Just walk through the door and say, Cosmic sent me..

Ronnie Ruff
Wonder Valley, California

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Desert Trail Column - November 14, 2019

The USDA Food Distribution will take place on Tuesday, November 19 at our Wonder Valley Community Center, 80526 ½ Amboy Road at Blower Road, from 9 to noon. No need to come early – you’ll be in and out in a jiffy!


On the same day, the mobile medical van will be at our community center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Appointments are not necessary. Care will be provided regardless of insurance status or the ability to pay. Call 760-365-9305 for information.

A reminder about the Christmas shoeboxes destined for a Mexican orphanage. Plastic “shoeboxes” are available at Dollar Tree and can be filled with useful items and/or fun things for kids. The only restriction is anything that looks like a gun. The deadline for these boxes to be dropped off at Wonder Valley Community Church, 82575 Amboy Road at Kuhns Road, is November 24. Call 760-391-0480 or 760-401-6128 for information.

 Mark your calendars for some upcoming events. At Wonder Valley Community Church, there will be a Thanksgiving Potluck on November 24, and Ryan Brown will be a special guest speaker on December 29. On December 7, there will be approximately 30 small planes flying in to Twentynine Palms Airport to deliver approximately 5,000 toys to Marine Corps representatives for their Toys for Tots Program.

 Most events at our WVCC are sponsored by our local nonprofit Friends of Wonder Valley. For additional information on any local event, contact WVCC Coordinator Teresa Sitz at or 760-367-9880.

We send out Rainbows-of-Chrysanthemums-and-Topaz to Karen Meyers who turns 77 this week. Happy birthday, Karen!


Also, Sherry and Bill Hague celebrate their years of marriage this week. Happy anniversary, Bill and Sherry!

 Here are some phone numbers Wonder Valley residents might want to keep handy. Southern California Edison (for outages) 800-611-1911, County Roads (includes pothole reporting on Amboy, Godwin, Pinto Mountain and Valle Vista) 760-366-3572, Susan Doggett (injured birds, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.) 714-637-8355, County Animal Control 800-472-5609, Sheriff’s Department 760-366-4175 or 760-956-5001 (911 for emergency only), County Code Enforcement 760-995-8140 or 909-884-4056, Veterans’ Crisis Hotline 800-273-8255-Press 1, Crisis Walk-in Center (24/7) 760-365-6558, Domestic Violence Hotline (24/7) 760-366-9663-Press 1, Community Crisis Response Team (7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily) 760-449-4429 and Suicide Hotline 800-273-8255.

 Handy Hint:  To save yourself a lot of hassle and save cabinet space, too, buy containers with lids that are interchangeable. In other words, the containers may be different sizes, but they all take the same size lids and everything stacks neatly.

Today’s Thought:  When people tell me “You’re going to regret that in the morning,” I sleep till noon because I am a problem solver.

Until next time . . . remember to take time to enjoy the WONDERs all around us.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Artist Spotlight -- Cathryn Beeks

Ronnie: Cathryn, what do you absolutely love about music?

Cathryn:  As a listener? Music is a time machine. When I hear a song my memory takes me back to the first time I heard it...or the best time I had while hearing it. I am transported and I can smell, see, feel, and experience that time again. It's a magical time machine and I can go back to any time I want, visit any place just by selecting the right song.

As a performer music is medicine. It cures my panic attacks and anxiety and depression. It makes me feel like I'm creating and giving back, makes me feel like I'm contributing. It also feels a little like a lottery, if I can JUST write the perfect song I'll be set for life (laughing). I love all of that stuff about music.   

Ronnie: What brought you to the desert from San Diego?  The desert can be an influential place on us, how has the desert colored your music?

Cathryn: I'd been in San Diego for 20 years and a lot of amazing stuff happened during that time but then I just sort of puttered out around 2016. The world got weird, my writing partner of 18 years moved to the East Coast and I wasn't hosting live shows or my weekly podcast and web series anymore. I was in a funk. I tried exploring different avenues but always ran into road blocks. It just felt like the universe was telling me to move on. My parents are in their 80s and have been in Lucerne Valley for 15+ years and I thought they could use some help around the hacienda so we packed up and moved. 

My amazing husband, who has been a very successful sound engineer for over 20 years in SD, was surprisingly supportive of the idea. He is still mostly commuting/working in San Diego which I hope to help change. Jonny is next level good, bands are blown away by his skills and venues appreciate his professionalism and easy nature. He's been out on tour with some high profile bands and has his own gear for large festivals. Any venue would be lucky to have him, he makes magic with all the buttons.  

I grew up in Lancaster so the desert has been coloring my music since day 1. My 3rd album is called Desert Music, even. I feel like the desert does to music what it does to photos. It adds a special tone, an otherworldly light and a warmth that you can feel and hear in your soul. I am so happy to be back.

Ronnie:  We are happy you are back! Tell me, how would you describe your music?  How do you think others see it?

Cathryn:  I dunno. When I first started out I was all about rock with a funky vibe and then in early 2000s I leaned more towards that Americana thing and since I'm limited as a player the music I write for myself is sorta folky. If I had to categorize I'd say Americana/Folk/Rock. I have no idea how others interpret it. I'm definitely not mainstream although I've tried to be many times in an effort to get publishing deals and what not. I'm pliable, it all just depends on the musicians I'm playing with. Which is another thing I love about music... it shape shifts. 

Ronnie: Shape shift it does, tell me about what you are working on now. Who are the players?

Cathryn: Well, although they're all still back in San Diego my main squeeze is Calamity. We are an all female acoustic rock ensemble and our average age is 50 but we are so immature that you'd never know it. Ha. We are sort of theatrical and hilarious and the music is pretty sweet with 3 and 4 part harmonies and a combined bunch of years of experience on our instruments. We've been together since 2013, the core being myself, Nisha Catron and Marcia Claire. Our coven has changed over the years but we're currently lucky enough to have Patric Petrie on violin and Catherine Barnes on drums. We've been on a "studio tour" recording singles at various studios with various producers and releasing them with home made videos. You can hear it all at the website.. We are endeavoring to keep our momentum going even though it's sort of a long distance relationship now. We write together online and Nisha comes up here a lot to write with me. I'm proud of this band as we've been though a lot, it was even suspected at one point that we may be cursed but we persevered and have accomplished some cool stuff like being nominated for a San Diego Music Award and lately we're getting some great gigs.

Cathryn: I'm also about to release a solo record. Just before we left San Diego I had asked my longtime producer friend Jeff Berkley to record one of my songs, just me and the ukulele. We ended up recording 6 new songs and adding Jeff on guitar and the baddest rhythm section around...Rick Nash on Bass and Josh Hermsmeier on Drums. The collection is called 20 YEARS HERE and will be released on a USB stick that also contains every other recording with every other band I've ever been in plus a bunch of stuff I produced with Listen Local over the past 20 years, like 2 cook book/CD compilations (recipes and music from local bands), tribute shows, a calendar/cd compilation and more. I'm calling it my TIME CAPSULE and it has almost 200 songs plus lots of bonus stuff. I'm selling them for $40 which supports my podcast and web series, The Listen Local Show. You can hear the single FRAMED and order the collection at my website.

Ronnie: Do you think music can be a vehicle for change?

Cathryn: It's the only thing that will save us. It cuts through cultures, beliefs, stereotypes, fear and hate and all the things that divide us humans. It conveys messages in ways that makes people listen and actually hear... it soothes beasts and gives power to the meek. It connects us. It will guide us through this difficult evolutionary period and once we're all living happily ever after on Love and Peace it will keep us there. That's what I think. 

Ronnie: What kinds of things do you like to write about?

Cathryn: My songwriting is pretty much my journal. I write about what's happening, what's happened and what I think will happen. I try not to be too literal so that folks can relate in their own way but I always end up writing my deepest secrets for all to hear. This new collection of songs includes a song called Hey Desert which is about me moving back home to hang out with Hart and Carole Beeks, who I adore. Another song, Burning Star, is about fighting depression and anxiety with the knowledge that we are all energy and nothing can destroy us. Small Town is about the divide in our country these past 3 years and Daylight is about how music is medicine.

I've hosted a songwriting event called The Game since 2004. Every few months I throw out a few tittles and the local songwriting community writes a song using those prompts and we all gather and play our songs for each other. It's really cool to see how different songwriters interpret a title, it's been a really fun event over the years. Pretty much every song on every collection I've released in the past 15 years is a Game song. I'm actually hosting an online version right now, inviting people to write a song to the title WHITE NOISE (submitted by Jeff Berkley) and EARTHQUAKE GIRL (submitted by Steve Poltz) and instead of gathering at a venue to perform our songs, we're all posting them on our Facebook page between now and December 31st. All ages, styles and abilities are invited to play. It's a great way to inspire a new song or just keep your chops up, plus you get to meet a ton of other songwriters, most of them from San Diego. I encourage everyone ot play!

Ronnie:  Everyone has musical heroes, mine are The Rolling Stones, Linda Ronstadt, Gram Parsons and in more  decades R.E.M -- who are yours?

Cathryn: In order of appearance in my life: Willie Nelson, Freddy Fender, Janis Joplin, Melissa Etheridge, The Judds, Ani Difranco, Greta Gaines, Gillian Welch. I kind of stopped listening to famous people about 10 years ago because there were so many incredible unsigned musicians who inspired me...there is SO much great music still to be discovered. 

Ronnie:  Tell me a little about your podcast! I love that medium!

Cathryn: Thank you for asking! I moved to San Diego in November of 1999 with high hopes of becoming a rich and famous singer. Once I arrived there I quickly realized that the competition was pretty steep and that my own abilities, while totally awesome, may not be enough to take me all the way. So, I focused my energy on all of the amazing San Diego artists instead and started hosting open mics and showcases to help them find places to share their talent. In 2003 I started calling the showcases LISTEN LOCAL. I learned how to build a website and calendar to allow people to sign up for showcases and then shortly thereafter got my own PA system and I headed out every night to set it up and host shows at various venues, at one point I was doing it 6 nights a week.

With the help of my friend Tim Flack from Idynomite Media I started my first podcast in 2004 featuring these local artist's songs. In 2009 I moved to legit radio on 102.1 KPRi hosting The Homegrown Hour which had been around since the early 80s. I hosted that show for 6 years before the station sold, forcing me to take the show to the internet. The Listen Local Show became a weekly "audio calendar" where I would play music from the bands who would be out performing live that week. Some of the venues would sponsor me in exchange for the promo so I was able to make a little money to support the show. In 2015 I trademarked Listen Local and I added the web show element, too. All of my past shows, both podcasts and FM, are still available and while the shows that were advertised have long since passed, the music is timeless.


Cathryn: I stopped producing a weekly show around 2017, instead offering artist interviews where we play a few songs and chat. Now that I've moved up here I have been reaching out to the local music community inviting them to be featured. I am happy to feature any genre, the only issue is my studio is in my 1978 bread truck here in Lucerne Valley so I'm limited to 2 guests at a time due to space. Anyone interested should reach out to me . I'm also considering starting up the weekly audio calendar again if I can find some supportive local businesses to sponsor the show. Very reasonable rates, give me a shout to discuss! 

Ronnie: When and where can folks get your new record?

Cathryn: It's ready!! I just received my masters back from Paul Abbott of Zen Mastering in San Diego (who is AMAZING) and I'll be shipping out the USB Time Capsules containing the 7 new songs and 200+ bonus songs next week. Folks can order them at my site.. If you don't want to drop $40 for the collection, I'll be releasing these new songs as singles to the public over the next year via my home made 1/2 Fast Film videos so stay tuned at my YouTube channel.

Cathryn, many thanks for taking the time to talk with us and share your music and best of luck with the new record!

Ronnie Ruff
Wonder Valley California

Friday, November 8, 2019

There will be NO MAC Meeting in November as it falls on Veterans Day which is a holiday.  The next MAC meeting will be on December 9.