Boyes Hot Springs, Neighborhood Phenomena, People, Wonders and Marvels

Tony Perez and His Garden

March 2019. Bonita Way comes into Central here, hence Street View’s address.

November 2019

Sometime between March and November of 2019, Tony started constructing his installation of flowerpots, plants, garden ornaments, lumber, and concrete blocks on the side of the street in front of 67 Central Avenue in Boyes Hot Springs. I originally assumed his name was Richard because of the sign he posted in 2021. The sign, which is not up currently, is a bit puzzling, but I’m glad he gave himself credit, no matter what name he used.

November 2019

Tony was born in Nayarit state, Mexico and came to the U.S. 50 or 60 years ago (he’s a bit vague on this). He has worked as a landscaper his whole life. “I know how to take care of plants,” he told me.

Joanie Bourg via Facebook:

“He used to come into Sonoma Mission Gardens where I worked for many years.. order plants or buy soil. The thing that struck me about Tony was his super boisterous laugh and spirit, and he obviously worked hard as a gardener.. I would see his truck everywhere. He’s a larger than life dude. I’m also a gardener by profession, so I know just how hard the work is. I love his fighting spirit.”

He has worked at that trade until he got sick. “The doctors took my money, and I’m still sick,” he said.  He will go back to Mexico when it’s “time for the ‘cementary’,” he joked. He usually walks with two canes, which he made himself, because he doesn’t like the store-bought ones.

November 2020
November 2020. The object with the four “tines” is made from ceiling fan blades.

Tony has lived in the apartments next door to his garden for five or six years.

His garden evolves with the seasons. He grows geraniums and plants annual flowers in season. He also uses artificial flowers. Periodically he paints the pots a new color.

November 2021
November 2021

Tony drives a Ford work truck. I find it charming that he has replaced the Ford logotype on the tailgate with stick-on lettering, which is slightly askew. It’s a very competent looking truck.

Tony’s Ford, 2021

Tony’s garden is getting noticed on social media, probably because it’s close to a popular restaurant, and it’s so great!

From the Instagram of Charles DesMarais, former art critic for the S.F. Chronicle
March 2022. Building back up (“better?”) Tony had winterized for 2021-2022.
March 2022
Tony with his custom-made cane.

Thank you Tony Perez for your gift to our neighborhood!

This post will be updated as Tony’s Garden evolves.

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Agua Caliente, Architecture, Boyes Hot Springs, Fetters Hot Springs, History, nature, Trees

The Filterra Report

This is not a Filterra, but a similar product, installed on Rancho Drive near the intersection of Elaine’s Way.

Filterra units were installed as part of the sidewalk and streetlight project started under Redevelopment in 2009.

What is a Filterra?

What do they do?

Were the wrong plants used?

Has maintenance ever been done?

Are the missing plants going to be replaced?

Do the plants get watered in the dry season?

According to the brochure:

“Filterra  is an engineered high-performance bioretention

system.” What is a bioretention system? Read on.

Location:El Molino restaurant at Central Ave.

How does Filterra work? Again, from the brochure:

“Stormwater enters the Filterra through a pipe, curb inlet, or sheet flow and ponds over the pretreatment mulch layer,

capturing heavy sediment and debris. Organics and microorganisms within the mulch trap and degrade metals and

hydrocarbons. The mulch also provides water retention for the system’s vegetation.

2. Stormwater flows through engineered Filterra media which filters fine pollutants and nutrients. Organic material in the

media removes dissolved metals and acts as a food source for root-zone microorganisms. Treated water exits through an

underdrain pipe or infiltrates (if designed accordingly).

3. Rootzone microorganisms digest and transform pollutants into forms easily absorbed by plants.

4. Plant roots absorb stormwater and pollutants that were transformed by microorganisms, regenerating the media’s

pollutant removal capacity. The roots grow, provide a hospitable environment for the rootzone microorganisms and

penetrate the media, maintaining hydraulic conductivity.

5. The plant trunk and foliage utilize nutrients such as Nitrogen and Phosphorus for plant health, sequester heavy metals into

the biomass, and provide evapotranspiration of residual water within the system.”

They filter out contaminants in storm water using plants, soil, and microorganisms. Clear?


Page one of the Storm Water Treatment Plan of the Highway 12 Redevelopment project for sidewalks and streetlights. Dated 9/30/08. The table lists eight Filterra units. This is for the first phase of the project. When the entire project was done, there were twenty-one.

Page two shows the units near Thompson St. the drawing shows two units at the parking lot. Only one was installed.

Filterra locations

There were two problems from the start: the trees were not watered, or not watered enough, in the months after they were planted, and they were repeatedly vandalized. Well, three problems actually. Some of the units were installed in sidewalks so narrow that you couldn’t easily push a baby carriage around them or walk two-abreast around them. This is particularly glaring on the west side of the bridge over Pequeno Creek.

The units on the Pequeño Creek bridge, west side. the removal of the tree in the foreground might be considered a practical adaptation rather than vandalism.

From the “Common Issues” section of the brochure:

“the most apparent sign of an issue with a Filterra is dead vegetation. A dead tree will not absorb any pollutants through its roots. If you notice any of these issues occurring in your system, or if you have recently installed a unit that needs maintenance, it’s time to call AQUALIS. Our maintenance and repair teams will ensure that your Filterra units are regularly inspected and operating at peak efficiency,” and

 “Typically, using vegetation that naturally grows in the area is the best option, and there are specific plants required by the manufacturer. If you notice that the plant in your system is dying, it may be because the wrong type of vegetation is being used.” What species were used? I know one of the units contains nandina domestica, a decidedly non-native plant that has toxic berries and is considered invasive in some places in the U.S.

Current conditions of the plants in the Filterra units: 12 alive, 5 vandalized but still alive, 4 completely missing.


In 2021 your correspondent had this exchange with Supervisor Gorin’s office about maintenance along the highway.

My original question:

Hello, 

Can you tell me who has responsibility for the areas between the sidewalks and the building along the highway in the Springs? These areas are always full of weeds and look terrible. A Caltrans worker told me the County was responsible per an agreement. At any rate, nobody is paying attention to them. Also those “Filterra” trees need attention. Thanks!, Mike

From: Karina.Garcia@sonoma-county.org

Mike,

Below the response from TPW:

…the trees in the filterra bioswales in the sidewalk are the responsibility of the county.  Evidently, these trees have been repeatedly destroyed/broken by the public.  Anything behind the sidewalk is the responsibility of each property owner.  This means that the property owners are responsible for the grass strips noted below.  Thanks!

Let us know if we may be of further assistance.

Kindly,

Karina

From: Mike Acker <ackermichael6@gmail.com
Sent: Sunday, November 7, 2021 8:59 PM
To: Karina Garcia <Karina.Garcia@sonoma-county.org>
Cc: Arielle Kubu-Jones <Arielle.Kubu-Jones@sonoma-county.org>; Hannah Whitman <Hannah.Whitman@sonoma-county.org>
Subject: Re: Highway 12 jurisdiction

EXTERNAL

Thanks you Karina, 

I’m very impressed that you work on Sunday, but do get some rest!:)

Mike

On Nov 7, 2021, at 8:52 PM, Karina Garcia <Karina.Garcia@sonoma-county.org> wrote:

Dear Mike,

On behalf of Supervisor Gorin thank you reaching out and bringing this matter to our attention. We also thank you for providing a clear description and picture.

Your email was shared with our Caltrans contacts as well as Sonoma County Transportation and Public Works. I am including Arielle Kubu-Jones and Hannah Whitman from our office for follow up, as I will be out of the office for a week starting Tuesday.


Kindly,

Karina

My answer: Thanks for your reply Karina. That the areas in question are the responsibility of the property owners does not square with the fact that Caltrans cleaned up a large strip in Agua Client a few months ago. At the time, the worker told me it was really the county’s responsibility, but they were doing it. However, if it really is the responsibility of the property owners, how can the County help inform and coordinate efforts at clean up and beatification? Whoever has the legal responsibility, it’s a community matter that effects us all. We fought long and hard for the sidewalks and street lights and are happy to have them, but these eyesore diminish that positive impact. Below is an example of the cleanup Caltrans did in July.  (Image)

Actually, Caltrans was cleaning up the sidewalk of debris that has fallen from the private property along side. But my comment about this being a community matter, no matter who is responsible for what, stands. The County should lead on this, as on many other matters on which they are hands–off.


A Tour of The Filterras

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Boyes Hot Springs, nature, Neighborhood Phenomena, Photographs, Trees, Wonders and Marvels

A Neighborhood Phenomena Sampler

Fences and trees: they have conversations, disputes, collaborations. Time is involved.

Around and through.
2021
2007
A gentle push.
Stately interruption.
Direct confrontation.
This one deserves special mention. Actually it deserves an award for adaptive reuse. During the house addition build, the old garage was torn down, but the back wall was retained and incorporated into the new fence.
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Art, Boyes Hot Springs, Collection/Obsession, Neighborhood Phenomena, Photographs, Wonders and Marvels

Twenty-four Views of the Tank

Artists and obsession:

Hokusai created the Thirty-Six Views both as a response to a domestic travel boom and as part of a personal obsession with Mount Fuji.[5]Wikipedia

Hokusai3

Artists, aging, and obsession:

“I have drawn things since I was 6. All that I made before the age of 65 is not worth counting. At 73 I began to understand the true construction of animals, plants, trees, birds, fishes, and insects. At 90 I will enter into the secret of things. At 110, everything – every dot, every dash – will live. To all of you who are going to live as long as I do, I promise to keep my word. I am writing this in my old age, I used to call myself Hokusai, but today I sign myself ‘The Old Man Mad About Drawing.'” ~ Hokusai

“Mount Fuji is a popular subject for Japanese art due to its cultural and religious significance. This belief can be traced to The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, where a goddess deposits the elixir of life on the peak. As the historian Henry Smith[3] explains, “Thus from an early time, Mt. Fuji was seen as the source of the secret of immortality, a tradition that was at the heart of Hokusai’s own obsession with the mountain.”[4]Wikipedia

Here in Boyes Hot Springs, we have a similarly visible, tall monument, and while the Spa does not claim to bestow eternal life, it definitely makes life more enjoyable, and is a worthy subject of an artist’s obsession.

tankfisheye

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“It all adds up to a reminder that, even as the art historians have been slowly trying to squeeze the history our their discipline, artists have been assiduously turning them selves in to historians, archivists even collectors of a sort.” Barry Schwabsky, The Nation Magazine, April 2014

tankwithcaption

SMISpaimage

“Historically revered by Native Americans for its healing power, the elegant Spanish mission–style Inn boasts an enviable location atop an ancient thermal mineral spring, flowing from 1,100 feet below the surface. The tranquility and beauty of this environment is echoed throughout the 40,000-square-foot spa, which offers endless opportunities to find your energy.” From the SMI website

 

Photographs courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society and the author.

 

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Architecture, Boyes Hot Springs, nature, Neighborhood Phenomena

Waste Space

HighwayPlanCover

In 2008 final construction drawings for “Phase 2 Stage 1” of the Highway 12 sidewalk project were issued. The drawings are detailed and very specific, as they would be. Everything is spelled out, down to the design of the hardware used to hold up mail boxes, sign details, and the depth of fence posts.

MailboxDetail

FenceDetail

HighwaySigns

 

One thing that was not thought about is the space created, or delineated between the edge of the sidewalk and buildings, fences and walls along the highway. Formerly just part of the shoulder of the road, these unpaved spaces became the chaotic province of weeds and trash, unclaimed and untended by anybody.

 

HawthorneThomsonLayout

Layout of the Hawthorne-Thomson stretch

This 300’ strip on the east side of the highway between Hawthorne and Thomson is a good example.

Hwy12planting2009

October 2009, soon after construction was finished. Broadcast wildflower seeds are just sprouting.

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November 2016. Weeds and exotic grasses grow mixed with a few California poppies surviving from 2009.

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2019. Property owners have planted palm trees.

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Other examples of wasted space.

The new sidewalks, streetlights, and other amenities provided by the project are much appreciated in the community. It’s a shame that the interstices of the design were not dealt with originally, but they now represent an opportunity for creativity and community engagement. Let a hundred fledgling landscape architects bloom!

 

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Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano, History, nature, Resorts

The Arroyo of Arroyo Road

Update at the end of post

“As Ellen Dissanayake has observed, the function of art is to “make special”; as such, it can raise the “special” qualities of place embedded in everyday life, restoring them to those who created them…”

“Psychologist Tony Hiss asks us to measure our closeness to neighbors and community and suggests ways to develop an “experiential watchfulness” over our regional ‘sweet spots,” or favorite places. Seeing how they change at different times of day, week and year can stimulate local activism.”

From The Lure of the Local, by Lucy Lippard.

It’s all about paying attention.

Susan Sontag

 

lilycreek

New Map:

DrainageMapwText

“Open water” is represented by the dotted brown line. The dark blue is the storm sewer which starts at Central and Verde Vista and ends in the Sonoma Mission Inn grounds. Map courtesy of Sonoma County.

 

The course of the seasonal Lily Creek starts somewhere in the open space above Monterey Ave. (in the “Mountain Avenue Canyon”), goes under the street at Central and Verde Vista, travels below ground along Verde Vista, pops up at the corner of Verde Vista and Arroyo, ducks under again then is visible curling around the foundation of a house on Las Lomas, then parallels Arroyo Rd. traveling through back yards.

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In the open space, looking towards Mountain Avenue.

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Looking northeast from the corner of Central and Monterey towards the top of the drainage, circa 1910.

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At Central Verde Vista, a complicated bit of engineering.

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After the rains, December 2019

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The creek runs under Verde Vista and pops up briefly at Arroyo Road

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The majestic stone work of the old Larson Villa guards the creek’s appearance at the corner of Arroyo Rd. and Verde Vista

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On Las Lomas.

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In 2009 a property owner put the section of creek through the lot near Vallejo and Arroyo underground. Although this was engineered and done with county permits, the work constricted the watercourse and provided a place at its head for brush and debris to pile up, blocking flow. This has remained a problem.

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Flooding, February 2019

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July 2019

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February 2019

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West of Vallejo St, the bed goes through the yards of three houses, and then dives under Highway 12 at Arroyo.

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The original Mary’s pizza Shack at Arroyo Rd. and Highway 12. The creek was undergrounded here in the 1980s. The old concrete guardrail at the creek can be seen in both photos.

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Entrance to the Sonoma Mission Inn, 2019

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Entrance to the Sonoma Mission Inn, circa 1950. Photo by Zan Stark.

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On the other side of the highway it enters the grounds of the Sonoma Mission Inn. It is first seen there where a large grate covers the entrance. This was put into place, so it’s said, to keep miscreants from crawling through the culvert and into the grounds. It daylights briefly near the swimming pool, then disappears into the brush.

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Just west of the SMI it takes a turn to the south, paralleling Happy Lane and Sonoma Creek. It crosses West Thomson near Happy Lane, behind the Ratto place, skirts the end of Academy Lane and then Fairview Lane, and enters Agua Caliente Creek near the Finnish American Heritage Association (Old Maple St.)

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Lilly Creek behind the Ratto place, where it goes under West Thomson.

It’s curious that what is essentially an east-west water course would turn south very close to Sonoma Creek.

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Behind FAHA, near Sonoma Creek.

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Sonoma Creek near its confluence with Agua Caliente Creek and Lily Creek and the bridge between Verano and El Verano.

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I like to think that the bullfrog photographed in 1922, “near El Verano,” was found somewhere under the “Bridge between Verano and El Verano.”

AddendumLilyCreekIT1977

Addendum 2

Tracy_Irwin_Storer

Courtesy Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46299918

 

Tracy Irwin Storer was a biologist, not an artist or a poet or a historian, but a trained observer nonetheless. He thought it was worthwhile to note, in 1922, that “the French bullfrogs for sale,” he found near Boyes Hot Springs, “had been caught locally, along the creek, by two small boys.” Posterity thanks him for that evocative snapshot.

StorerNotesElVerano

Thanks to Dan Levitis for showing me how to find field notes from the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology.

Addendum 3, December 20, 2019

 

Photos from author’s collection. Index Tribune courtesy of Sonoma Valley Historical Society.

 

December 2021 Update: Lily Creek with water!

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GrapesMetaGrapes

Boyes Hot Springs, nature, Neighborhood Phenomena, Photographs, Wonders and Marvels

Grape vines and “grape vines”

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Art, Boyes Hot Springs, History, nature

Neighborhood Phenomena

StrawberryiesConcrete2019 copy

Strawberries among the weeds, in concrete, Boyes Hot Springs, 2019

NEIGHBORHOOD PHENOMENA

With thanks to artist Jack Baker

One of the main objects of the Springs Museum is the study of Neighborhood Phenomena.

Perhaps not to define it to precisely is best. However, we can say that NP may be exceptional things or mundane things seen in an exceptional way. Collecting (and it is an exercise in collecting) NP is an act of noticing, something that it is all to easy not to do in an environment that is so familiar as we pass through it daily.

Photography is a good mode for collecting NP, as is sketching, sound recording, rubbings, or actually picking up objects (but try not to disturb the environment. Observers should limit their impact on the world being observed.) Study over time is of interest, so repeated visits to sites are encouraged.

Here is a list of some of the possible categories to look at.

How trees and built environment interact

Signs. What they say, how they change.

Pavement and how is deteriorates.

Plants in all their many different forms

Animals among us, including pets

Infrastructure such as wires, drains, etc.

Design-everything built is designed, if only by default

Holes in the ground

Mounds of things

Stories

Further Inspiration: Artists as collectors. Collections as art:

“The mission of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is to inspire wonder, discovery and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds.”

“Including those items is part of the museum’s effort at redefinition, although the curators were drawing on an eccentric set of collections that were never really part of the natural history tradition. The facade of the building still bears its original title: Los Angeles County Historical and Art Museum. In fact, the art collection became the heart of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the early 1960s, when the “natural history” title was adopted.”

“It all adds up to a reminder that, even as the art historians have been slowly trying to squeeze the history out of their discipline, artists have been assiduously turning themselves into historians, archivists, even collectors of a sort.” Barry Schwabsky, the Nation April 2014

 

“As Ellen Dissanayake has observed, the function of art is to “make special”; as such, it can raise the “special” qualities of place embedded in everyday life, restoring them to those who created them…”

“A starting point, for artists or for anyone else, might be simply learning to look around where you live now…”

“Psychologist Tony Hiss asks us to measure our closeness to neighbors and community and suggests ways to develop an “experiential watchfulness” over our regional “sweet spots,” or favorite places. Seeing how they change at different times of day, week and year can stimulate local activism…”

Quotes from The Lure of the Local, Lucy R. Lippard

 

The collection, and, by extension, the museum is a work of art:

“Bottle Village began as a practical need to build a structure to store Grandma Prisbrey’s pencil collection (which eventually numbered 17,000) and a bottle wall to keep away the smell and dust from the adjacent turkey farm. However, it was her ability to have fun and infuse wit and whimsy into what she made, which over time became the essence of Bottle Village. Practicality alone would not explain The Leaning Tower of Bottle Village, the Dolls Head Shrine, car-headlight-bird-baths, and the intravenous-feeding-tube-firescreen, a few examples of her delightfully idiosyncratic creations.” From the Bottle Village website. http://www.bottlevillage.com/

17,000 Pencils!

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