White Winter Dreams


I tend to look up a lot at this time of year. The winter sky is an amazing pallet of steel blue and gray, as ominous clouds race across the horizon. Each winter storm brings snow to the Sierra, and occasionally to Bay Area peaks. But never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d see an ice rink in Montclair.

Last week’s Montclair Village Stroll offered skating to little tykes, who really took to the experience. Most had never been on ice, and they looked more like bumper cars than skaters. But it reminded me of the times in Montclair when winter really embraced us. As in 1988, when it snowed during my Christmas open house. And a few years later, when big, white flakes swirled through the air as I did laps at the Hills Swim Club. And more recently, when we had enough slushy stuff to build a snowman in our neighborhood.

Winter is my favorite season. While some may hope for sunshine, I pray for snow. And if it spills over from Lake Tahoe to the Bay Area, then my season is complete.

AROUND TOWN: Montclair’s newest merchant is a punk rocker who moved to the Bay Area several years ago with her band “The Spam Grenades.”

Today, she owns Cinder Bischoff Designs in Ink at 5772 Thornhill Road, where her silk-screened clothing and artwork shines in the little gold shop with the T-shirt-shaped sign. Cinder’s creative streak can even be seen in her name. Her friends call her Cinder Block, a moniker she used when she helped start a music merchandising company in Oakland in 1989. That business ballooned into an operation that employs more than 150 people today. But for Generation Xers, she may be best known for her punk band Tilt, which toured with Green Day in the 1990s. Like most artists, Cinder draws from her life experiences. Her art “releases pressure,” as she puts it, and is considered deeply intriguing, if not downright violent. Perhaps it’s the perfect gift for that unique individual on our list. If not, it’s still an interesting place to peak in.

LIFE SAVER: Taylor Miller knows how to keep cool under pressure. As a retired Oakland police officer from the hills, he’s seen just about every emergency situation. So it’s no surprise to hear that he saved a life, recently, on a vacation in Amsterdam. His wife, Julie, says they were walking along when a guy literally fell to the ground right in front of them. Taylor gave the man CPR and started his heart in seconds.

“I’m sure the guy was shocked to see my husband on top of him, practically kissing him,” laughs Miller. But a stranger’s lips are a small price to pay for a new lease on life.

METER MADNESS: Raise your hand if you think the parking situation in Montclair is getting out of hand. Readers are complaining about the dozens of broken meters all over the village. Some motorists are keeping plastic bags in their cars to mark the mangled meters — but they’re still getting tickets. Talk about the Grinch who stole Christmas.

E-MAIL BAG: The controversy over a tree removal plan at Montclair’s St. John’s Episcopal Church has spawned at least one Web site and a documentary. Reader Molly Dutton-Kenny says Skyline High School junior Adam Brooks has started the Web site www. thornhilltreelovers.com. And a senior at Bishop O’Dowd, Scott Hanshew, is doing a documentary on the subject.

“You know it is an interesting story when even teenagers start standing up for trees,” Dutton-Kenny writes.

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