Thursday, November 28, 2019

Desert Trail Column - November 28, 2019

Many people took advantage of the free turkeys that were given out at our community center this past week. This generous distribution was made possible by Friends of Wonder Valley, and we thank them.


On Saturday, November 30, author William Hillyard will be at our Wonder Valley Community Center, 80526 ½ Amboy Road at Blower Road, at 3 p.m. to read from, discuss and sign copies of his new book “Welcome to Wonder Valley.” Books will be available for purchase at this event.


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 Carson Bevins who turns eight this week. Happy birthday,  Carson!


Godwin Christian Fellowship, 6389 Godwin Road at 29 Palms Highway, holds church services every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Before the service, coffee and refreshments are available from 8:30 to 9:30 and there is a Prayer/Bible Study from 9 to 10:15. Children’s Church for eight years and younger is held from 11:30 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. Every third Sunday there is a Birthdays and Anniversaries Celebration Luncheon following the service. On Thursdays, a Worship and Prayer Meeting is held from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Memorial bricks are available for $119 each to memorialize a loved one, family name or beloved pet. For further information, please contact Pastor Max Rossi at or 831-234-6848, or Brother Wally Currie at 760-449-8683.

 Handy Hint:  An old deck of playing cards can come in handy. A card can be used as a shoehorn or as a screwdriver for tiny eyeglass screws. It can also be folded and placed under the short leg of a wobbly table or chair to steady it.

 Today’s Thought:  In 1946, bikinis, Slinkys, car phones and Tupperware were all introduced to consumers. The first mobile phone conversation took place in a car in St. Louis, MO. The bikini, named after the nuclear tests in the Bikini Atoll lagoon in the Marshall Islands, went on sale after debuting at a Paris fashion show. Academy Awards included best picture “The Lost Weekend,” best actor Ray Milland and best actress Joan Crawford. In the National Football League Championship game, the Chicago Bears defeated the New York Giants 24-14. In the World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Boston Red Sox 4-3. And Karen turned four!

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

Monday, November 25, 2019

Special Friends

I am sliding feet first into my 63rd Thanksgiving holiday and I'm reminded of what I'm thankful for and why I'm thankful for it. Many many years ago I met special friends, friends that would always stay with me, those friends are my records and the artists that made them. As a young kid I immersed myself in rock and roll, country, and the blues. Those are the friends that are always there, you can always go be with them, with your headphones and your dreams.

As I sit looking out over the desert on this cold Monday morning I'm reminded of how I got here. First off it's fate that I'm in the desert, I always knew it would happen I just didn't know when. Now that I'm here I sit and reflect on what I'm thankful for this holiday season and why I'm thankful for it. Music has been such a wonderful part of my life and as a youngster it was my refuge. I would stay awake late at night sometimes, in my room, listening to the local radio station WHFS in Bethesda Maryland. That station single-handedly brought the music to me that shaped my musical tastes and cemented my love for the sounds of the Laurel Canyon music scene. I visioned California as where I wanted to be, that's a long way from Northern Virginia however and it took a while. I got into the local sounds around DC and southern rock. I discovered the blues and bluegrass.

 When things got tough at school or home and I didn't know where to turn it was always to the songs, to the artists that had become my best pals. After I got a job and  I didn't have to depend on my parents to buy music for me I would go to the record store for hours on end just flipping through the bins. I would have the local proprietor play me samples of the music I was interested in, he was glad to do it, another customer for the music business. Little did he know, or did I know, it would become a lifelong obsession, collecting music, collecting friends that would always be there.

So like this scene early in Almost Famous, my records set me free. The Allman Brothers, Jackson Browne, the Eagles, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Gram Parsons. There were so many many more that even I lost count quickly. I bought my turntable and the accompanying equipment from delivering newspapers. All the money that I made went to music, went to finding new friends. I'm thankful for that, because now, today, as I write this I know it was the right thing to do and I have that to always look to when I need guidance in the every day trials and tribulations of growing old. It's almost as if I were good friends with these folks, these musicians, these rock stars.

One of the things I liked the most about buying records was what I learned not only from the music but from the liner notes. Records are making a comeback, but not like what it was back then, records where everything, it's how we listened to music. There were no digital downloads, or streaming, there weren't even cassettes, eight tracks or CDs. What we had were those big vinyl discs, clicks and pops, surface noise in all its glory. But that's what the music was, it was full, it was rich, it was warm and it filled the room with glorious sounds. 

Around the holidays when all the relatives would come, drinking eggnog, laughing and remembering old times I would feel like I needed to get away, to get away from the old folks and be off to myself. I would walk to the bus stop and get on a bus across the river to Washington DC, to be with my friends at Tower records. 

Tower was open all through the holidays, and I would get there when they opened and spend hours listening to new things, looking through all the bins, trying to find the next new friend within their vast collections of music. I would usually buy something, even if it was only a music magazine because I couldn't always afford to buy records every time I went. I would buy Creem,  Rolling Stone and later New Music Express. I'm not at all sure why I didn't get a job there, I guess it would have been interesting but probably I would have tired of it because I wouldn't have been able to just listen to music all day I would have been stocking shelves and answering questions where the latest Beatles record was or how soon the new Rolling Stones record would be in. No it was better just to be a customer, a music geek and a kid.

Nowadays the music streams and it's free and musicians don't get paid. We wonder why the music isn't like it used to be, well that's because it's devalued. When you devalue something you take away much of its ability to influence and become more than just notes and lyrics and harmonies. I think that's probably why today's kids don't see artists as their friends they see them more as stars, as commodities, as business entities.  

So on this Thanksgiving I sit at the beginning of my senior years with friends many don't have. I'm thankful for those friends, I'm thankful for the music, for truly the music is in me.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Community Meeting - December 7, 2019 1100 AM

I will be hosting a community meeting at the Community Center and be providing several updates and lunch will be provided.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Desert Trail Column - November 21, 2019

On Saturday, November 24, there will be a Thanksgiving Potluck following the 10:30 a.m. service at Wonder Valley Community Church, 82575 Amboy Road at Kuhns Road. This is also the last day to turn in Christmas shoeboxes that the church is collecting for children at an orphanage in Mexico. For further information, call 760-391-0480 or 760-401-6128.

 Also on November 24, Godwin Christian Fellowship, 6389 Godwin Road at 29 Palms Highway, will have a Thanksgiving Celebration Luncheon following their 10:30 a.m. service. Call 831-234-6848 or 760-449-8683 for further information.


We send out Rainbows-of-Chrysanthemums-and-Topaz to Sharon Fangmeyer who celebrates her special day this week. Happy birthday, Sharon!

Karen’s Commentary:  I deposited a check into US Bank’s ATM, the machine malfunctioned, my deposit wasn’t credited and out came a printed notice instead of a receipt! I stood in a LONG line inside, then was told my ONLY option was to call the number on the notice. I called and was told that the check SHOULD be credited to my account WITHIN 10 WORKING DAYS, and my “claim” SHOULD be resolved within 45 DAYS!! Customer, beware.

 Darlene’s Commentary:  When I look into the western sky at another gathering of unbelievable colors and shapes that change before my very eyes, I know I am in Wonder Valley! I have never lived anywhere else where I could watch such gorgeous, incredibly beautiful sunsets while sitting in my own yard. Thank you, Mother Nature! I like you when you’re not making a huge killer wind or a lightning and thunder symphony!

Susan Doggett operates a federally licensed wildlife rehabilitation facility right here in Wonder Valley. She receives no outside funding, supporting her facility by designing and selling custom jewelry and custom logo sportswear. She is an accomplished artist who teaches many types of arts and crafts to both adults and children, and she is an instructor for the State of California Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Care Standards. If you would like to help Susan continue to save wild birds, please consider purchasing a one-of-a-kind necklace, bracelet, anklet or pair of earrings from her jewelry line “For the Birds.” If you find a sick, injured or orphaned wild bird, call Susan at 714-637-8355 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.

 Handy Hint:  Check all states where you’ve lived to see if they are holding money from a savings account that you forgot, an insurance policy or an uncashed refund check. Go to, find your state and enter your name.

 Today’s Thought:  “Times have not become more violent. They have just become more televised.” – Marilyn Manson


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

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.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Desert Trail Column - November 7, 2019

The Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) meeting will take place on Monday, November 11 at the Joshua Tree Community Center, 6171 Sunburst Road, at 5:30 p.m. Our representative Steve Reyes invites everyone to attend. You may participate if you like, or just sit back and listen. Steve presents issues and concerns of Wonder Valley residents to our San Bernardino County Supervisor Dawn Rowe. Contact Steve at

A newly-formed group Coffee and Friends will meet on November 12 at 10 a.m. at the home of Sharon Fangmeyer, 73883 Manana Drive in Twentynine Palms. All Wonder Valley ladies are cordially invited to attend.

 A free movie “War Room” will be shown at Wonder Valley Community Church, 82575 Amboy Road at Kuhns Road, at noon. There will be munchies, too! Call 760-401-6128 or 760-391-0480 for information.

 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.


Karen’s Commentary:  Well, the Weed Show has come and gone, but the grin on husband Ted’s face will remain for many moons! He had nine entries and walked away with six ribbons – three first place, one second place and two third place! And he came “this close” to winning the People’s Choice this year, missing it by one single vote – what a heartbreaker. And Dar had a great entry, too, that I think would’ve won a ribbon if the story of the items displayed could have been included as part of it. So the absence of a ribbon doesn’t really matter because we both know it’s a winner!

 Darlene’s Commentary:  Out of town, out of mind! (Back next week.)

Friends of Wonder Valley is a non-profit organization with the sole purpose of enhancing the lives of people living and working in Wonder Valley. That’s pretty remarkable! The organization is pretty much the “unsung hero” that operates behind the scenes – not a lot of people actually know how much they have done, and continue to do, for our community. We sincerely thank them for their many hours of work. Donations are always welcome, no matter the amount. Go to to learn more and/or to donate.

 Handy Hint:  When closing up a can of paint, tapping it closed with a hammer always results in spatters everywhere from the small amount of paint left in the can’s rim. To prevent that, simply throw a rag over the lid before tapping it shut.

 Today’s Thought:  If you’re going to complain about something, come to the table with a suggested alternative.


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

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Artist Spotlight : Laura Harmondale

Ronnie : Laura, tell me, what do you absolutely love about music? 

Laura: Music is a magnifier for whatever you're feeling, a spiritual balm in an otherwise harsh and mundane world. It can be wonderfully therapeutic to hear your own pain and joy reflected in the art of another human, expressed from that human's own unique perspective. It will burrow inside your soul and build a nest there. It's a familiar old friend that's always there for you and asks for little in return but respect.

It's a form of alchemy that helps us affirm we are not alone in the world. We're alone together! Almost all of my friends came into my life through my love affair with music.

Ronnie: Not everyone can live in the desert. What brought you here and how does the desert color your music/songwriting?

Laura: first moved here in 2005 from Cleveland, OH. Call it a soul journey...I knew I would die if I didn't make a huge life change. (Everyone's seen the infamous Cleveland Tourism youtube videos, right? If not, go have a laugh!) I'm highly sensitive to my environment, and sensory overload can easily depress me and activate my anxiety. The desert was the perfect place to escape, spiritually detox and start over. The quiet, misunderstood and alien landscape of Joshua Tree seemed to understand and offer a solution. Things were a little slower in the desert then. I hung around for 5 years channeling the songs that would become my first album, Spirit of 73. I joined my first band, singing harmonies in a rock & soul group that had its first gigs at Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace. During this time I was fortunate enough to be invited to live at a local friend's ranch, which was a vital incubation period for my soul. I did a lot of growing there to evolve into the person I needed to become to fulfill my life's purpose...but I still had a long way to go.

In 2010 I moved to Nashville to work on the production team of the Music City Roots show. I made some great connections, but decided to return to the desert in 2018 after my riverside cabin home flooded. I lost almost everything including a pickup truck and an 27-foot RV, which actually flooded all the way up to the roof! The neighboring Amish community graciously took me in for awhile and nurtured me while I figured out my next move. Where else do you go to dry out after such a wet disaster? I'm happy I came back to the desert. Even if it means I have to endure a few upturned noses and interrogations from the new wave of desert scenesters who think I'm another newbie or LA transplant.  High desert dwellers can be very territorial, and understandably so, because we have something rare to protect. It's healthy to remember that there's always someone who was here before you.

Ronnie:  Artists sometimes see their music differently than listeners, how would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?

Laura: It's basically folk country with influences across the board of roots & "Americana" music...I love bluegrass & Appalachian sounds, classic 60's & 70's country, 90's "alt-country", classic rock, indie rock and I even had my punk rock phase in my teenage years. I don't try to make my music sound like anything in particular, but I trust the songs that come to me; they're like a crystalized composite of everything I've ever loved. I ask the songs what they want and need and let them just become.

Ronnie: I know we share a lot of friends from different Gram Parsons groups, does his music influence your work in any way?

Laura: Absolutely, in fact he's made more of an impact on me than any other artist. I wouldn't have been aware of Joshua Tree if not for Gram's legendary life story. How can you feel such a close connection with someone who checked out almost decade before you were born? Gram wrote in one of his journals that 100 years from now he would be a magician. And that proved to be true; we now have several generations of musicians that credit him as a catalyst to their art. Obviously he was super aware and understood the everlasting and far-reaching power of music, and that he would be an influencer long after death. He knew what he was doing.

Ronnie: We all have music heros, I'm betting we share a few. Tell me about your music heroes.

Laura: Gram & Emmylou, Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch, Jay Farrar, Jim Lauderdale, Charlie Louvin (actually got to perform with him at Spaceland, his last show in LA before he passed away), Victoria Williams. There are so many more but I owe a lot to these particular path-pavers.

Ronnie: We live in crazy times. Do you feel music can be a force for change? 

Laura; Yes, a change of heart, social change... it's an excellent vehicle for propagating a message. It's too bad it is rarely utilized that way. The pop music dominating the airwaves currently feels very low-vibrational to me, like they're trying to hypnotize the masses with oversexualized and violent programming. There's definitely a dark agenda there. The other side is that we now have tools literally at our fingertips which bring production and distribution straight into the hands of the creators. The outreach potential of your message is limitless. So it's more vital than ever that we take special care with the messages we are propagating!

Ronnie: You stay so busy, what are you working on now?

Laura: I've been tracking a new album, Old Cardinal Gem Mine, at Red Barn Recorders in Morongo Valley. It will be my first full length release since 2011. These are songs mainly composed in two different cabins; my former TN home before it flooded, and a primitively off-grid tinyhome on the Appalachian trail, which triggered an  abundant flow of ideas, since I was so off-grid I had to drive 5 miles to send a text or phone call. The rest of my time was spent collecting and filtering creek water to drink, and gathering fallen firewood for the woodburning stove, my only heat source (besides the 7 feral cats hanging out there). One of the tracks, Better Way to Fall, was composed in another off-grid home in the Amish community, where I was allowed to live for almost a year, housesitting for a traveling family. That was an incredible experience! 

Ronnie: What is your favorite song you've written and why?

Laura: My favorite song is usually the one I'm currently working on. A favorite from my upcoming album is the title track, Old Cardinal Gem Mine. It's a sweet and simple reflection on a precious afternoon spent with my mom in the Blue Ridge mountains at a little roadside gemstone mine operated by two children and their grandmother. I was touched by the way they make their living in the isolated North Carolina mountains. Sometimes you want to change the whole world but it's only within your power to affect the person sitting next to you. What would the world be like if we all did that? I'm anxious for the album to come out...I hope people will hear the song and flock to the gem mine! 

Ronnie: Thanks for the conversation Laura, I look forward to hearing the new songs!

Follow Laura on Instagram



Ronnie Ruff
Wonder Valley California

Friday, November 1, 2019

MBHD Mobile Medical Van

The Morongo Basin Healthcare District Mobile Medical Unit will be at the Wonder Valley Community Center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., on TUESDAY, November 19 , 2019. The WVCC is at 80526-1/2 Amboy Road, in Wonder Valley -- next to the old fire station.

This coincides with the Salvation Army Food Distribution.

A Nurse Practitioner will be on board, providing primary medical care and screenings, and if necessary, prescribing lab tests and refilling prescriptions. Some immunizations are available.

Medi-Cal, IEHP and most insurances are accepted. A discounted fee-for-service is available for those without insurance. Care is provided regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.

Appointments are encouraged. To schedule an appointment, call 760-365-9305.

Walk-ins will be accepted as time permits.

Morongo Basin Healthcare District seeks to improve the health and wellness of residents who live within its designated boundaries. Services of the healthcare district include the Morongo Basin Community Health Center with offices in Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley; and LIFT Transportation Services, providing free, non-emergency transportation to medical appointments. Business offices of the Morongo Basin Healthcare District are located at 6530 La Contenta Road, Suite 100 Yucca Valley | 760.820.9229 |

Salvation Army Food Distribution, Wednesday, November 20

The Salvation Army Food Distribution takes place starting at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 20 at the Wonder Valley Community Center, 80526-½ Amboy Road, Wonder Valley, CA 92277. The Community Center is located between the Fire Station and the palm tree cell tower.

The distribution is first come first served, and ends when there is no more food. The distribution is open to Wonder Valley residents, who self-certify on site. No documentation is required, though you will need to fill out a form the first time you attend.

The distribution will be “shopping style.” You will take what you like from a selection of food from Trader Joe’s. Please be mindful that people behind you need food, as well, and only take what you need. There may also be a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables.

USDA Food Distribution, November 19, 2019

The USDA Food Distribution will begin at 9:00 a.m. and ends at noon on TUESDAY, November 19, at the Wonder Valley Community Center, 80526-½ Amboy Road, Wonder Valley CA 92277. The Community Center is next to the Fire Station.

Low income Wonder Valley residents self-certify on site. No ID or other documentation is required. You may pick up ONE (1) box for a neighbor, or they may pick up ONE (1) box for you, IF a signed pick up form is presented. One pick up per person. Pick up forms are available online at They are also available at the WVCC on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., and at the kiosk outside the WVCC the week before the event.

For more information, call Teresa Sitz at (760) 367-9880.

The text below is required.

Nondiscrimination Statement
In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3) email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Well Owners Association this coming Sunday, 11/2

Dear fellow well owners,

Our fall meeting will take place at 4:00 p.m., this coming Sunday, November 3, 2019 at the Godwin Christian Fellowship hall, 6389 Godwin Road, in Wonder Valley.

I attempted to call some of you but my reception has been so bad the last few days it was not possible to communicate.

I do hope you will be able to attend and bring a well owning neighbor.

Your reply by email if you will be attending [or not,]will be appreciated.

We expect to discuss SB 307 among other things.

President Max Rossi asked that if anyone has any issues they'd like to be put on the agenda to let us know.

As has been the custom we will be collecting $5 dues for the coming year. If you are unable to attend, you may mail your dues to:

Dale Basin Well Owners Association
7446 Bonnie Dunes Road
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277

If you need to know your dues status, you may email me. Calling has been difficult this week, but you are welcome to try.

Olympia Rossi