By Andrew Tonkovich

Dogumentary evidence

May gray and June gloom predominate  in  the  flatlands, but  gorgeous  clear  mornings cheer  canyonites  and  inspire, with daily dog walker, musician, photographer, and roadside documentarian  Dion  Sorrell sharing excellent micro-portraits of Modjeska Canyon taken on the slow, deliberate go as he chaperones the hounds in his care. Photos of man, beast, flora and fauna present a vivid calm of natural abundance before whatever firestorm arrives when our greenery goes brown. Cradling his iconic kendo martial arts shine sword-stick, Sorrell’s “accidental photography,” as he modestly describes his lovely pics --- recently of intrepid tadpoles wriggling in shallow Modjeska Creek --- may perhaps be only accidentally  brilliant, but  Dion  walks the walk, after all, as many drive by too fast to notice, much less capture these reassuring scenes, posted on Facebook.

Local pride:  “Bonny” indeed

The lucky buyer who ends up in Bonnie Smith’s Modjeska Canyon cottage garden home inherits a  strong  dose  of  good  canyon community  karma  along  with the deed to a 2,000 sq. ft., four-bedroom creekside house with a picture window-perfect yard designed by the professional landscape  designer-contractor  (Bonnie’s Gardens), featuring apricot and other trees, drought-tolerant plants, and plenty of visiting hummingbirds and butterflies.

The longtime canyon resident relocates  soon  after  35  years, leaving  her  small  part  of  our world  even  better  than  when Smith, a young 67, arrived with then-husband  Ron,  co-founder of  a  landscaping  business  and participant in community life, famous for her bunco nights, book club  and  “ladies-only”  holiday white elephant wing-dings.  The couple had a first date in Modjeska, a field trip leading to build-ing a house adjacent to Harding Truck Trail, marriage, and raising three kids together, along the way working with Silverado Elementary PTA, donating original landscaping to the Children’s Center, and volunteering with Fire Watch.

Divorced now and grandmother of four, Smith organized garden tours to benefit the Modjeska House across the street from her digs.  Bonnie’s grateful for friendships, and the care received from neighbors  during  her  convalescence from a 2011 hip injury, including a fundraiser which helped this gregarious and always-active independent businesswoman stay afloat when she could not work.

Bonnie voyage, friend.

Give a hoot

Tucker  Sanctuary  Director Marcella Gilchrist unveils a sadly instructive visual aid accompany-ing her latest cautionary eco-tale, a non-mystery story featuring her dead  animal  collection  permit, one ex-owl, and rat poison.  The victim, a Great Horned found in Ladd  Canyon,  finds  its  permanent home in the facility’s nature diorama after a local taxidermist worked his magic.  But the formerly healthy bird (now  “specimen”) arrives with a further lesson to offer as helpful teaching display:  when  canyon  residents use poison to murderize vermin, the  unhappy  collateral  consequence  is  dead  wild  birds  and beasts.

Local unpride

If  you’ve  joined town hall telephone meetings organized by Congresswoman Mimi Walters’  staff, you know that she takes darn good direction. Regardless of callers’ questions, or even  modest  challenges to her positions, our 45th District Rep enthusiastically reads  whatever lines are prepared for her. As phone calls with relatives who go on and on about their health, a voter could easily set down the phone, wash his dishes and return having missed not a thing.  Perhaps not surprising then that Walters, among a select(ed) group of seven Republicans, hit her line spot-on perfect, voting recently, as coached, against an amendment upholding executive orders barring  discrimination  against LGBT  employees  by  religious organizations  contracting  with federal agencies.  Un-fun fact: in the most recent election, fewer than half of registered voters cast ballots for U.S. representative.


Senior  canyonites enjoy  hot meals on Thursdays, noon, at the Community  Center  with  guest speakers, such as local  musician and  teacher  Buddy  Lang, who recently presented a talk on Civil War music and instruments. Complete schedule of activities, classes, governance is posted at

Silverado Branch Library welcomes new librarian Laurie McIntyre from Foothill Ranch, with 35 years’ experience in Children’s Services. Laurie joins Ruth, Daniel and Lucy in hosting the annual summer reading program, June 27 – Aug. 1, with games and crafts Wednesday evenings, 7 p.m. Pre-school story time continues Thursday mornings at 10.

This  month’s  locally-themed reading  suggestion  is  anything by  Ann  Stanford  (1916-1987), esteemed  OC-born  and  raised American poet whose centennial year this is. Vigorous nature lovers might start with her “The Bulldozer,” from The White Bird (1940):

The deer, coyote, and the snake/Slowly retreat up higher chaparral/(I saw three deer stand by the road to graze; They watched the hills cut off like wedding cake.)

Brown blood of clot trickles into the gorge./Bulldozer terraces hills’ wooded breasts./Flags blazoned salesrooms where, by death of oaks/And mountainous labor, level lots emerge.

Forerunning suburbs, thunderous of power/Ruthless ambassador, the scything blade/Admits no wilderness it cannot change,/Nor any altitude it cannot lower.

June 2016

Canyon Beat:

Pictures, pals, politicians and poets