Monthly Archives: March 2008

On Food Patrol – Smoothie King

The Smoothie King and His Assistant

One of my favorite food/beverage spots in Santee is the Smoothie King located in the Albertson’s center across from Santana High School.  The shop, which is a franchise, is owned and operated by Greg Hagen, who is a great supporter of community activities.  Greg was an underwriter for many years, but wanted to be his own boss (I can understand that).  He says he was attracted to Smoothie King because it is more than just a fast-food type of establishment.  He liked that there is a nutritional focus to the drinks, including various types of supplements, and that they carry healthy snacks along with the drinks.  He also likes that it is a simple business – not a lot of bells and whistles like some places.

As I said, Greg is very involved in the community.  He provides smoothies for special lunches at the high schools, and he’s always at community activities like the Santree Fest, and he will be at the Santee Business and Craft Fair in June.  Add to that, he’s just a great guy.  Oh, did I mention he caters functions as well?

Is this just shameless promotion of a local business?  No!  I’m not ashamed at all.  Honestly, it’s a good product and a good place to go, owned by a good man.  Check them out and see if you don’t agree with me.

Courtney Case Whips up a Smoothie

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Dead Owl Society

Okay, some of you might not like this post or the picture, but I’m putting them both up anyway.  Here’s the story: my wife and I decided Sunday to take a nice bike ride around Santee Lakes.  Talk about a wonderful place to ride – but I’ll write about that another time.  What I want to write about now is what happened as we were riding back to our car (we had decided to park outside and ride to the Lakes for a little extra exercise and to skip the car fee for the day).

We were heading north on Fanita Parkway, past Lake Canyon Road, when I saw something out of the corner of my eye.  I called to my wife, who was ahead of me, that I thought I had seen a dead owl in the grass.  We went back to check, and sure enough, there was a great horned owl lying there.  If you have never been up close to one of these birds, living or dead, then you are missing something amazing.  Even in death this bird was awsome – from the curved beak to the huge talons, this is a bird that was made for successful hunting.  Our best guess was that it had been hit by a car, because the neck appeared to be broken.  What was surprising was the fact that this was 4:30 in the afternoon, normally too early for these birds to be out and about.  Maybe it had happened early in the morning, but there was no sign of insects on it – not even ants.

Somehow we just couldn’t let this beautiful bird rot by the side of the road, so we thought of the Mission Trails Regional Park.  My wife just happened to have a flyer from there in her waist pack, so we called them up.  They already have a great horned owl on display, but one of their volunteers does grad work with SDSU at a center up in North County, and he is collecting native wildlife specimens for display there.  So, without further ado, we got the car, bagged the bird, and drove over to the Kumeyaay Campground.  The three staff members at the ranger station were just as impressed as we were with the bird.  My wife, being a huge owl-lover, couldn’t resist touching it and feeling the soft feathers and sharp claws.  Of course, being a nurse she made sure to disinfect her hands properly afterwards.

So what is the point of this post?  Well, probably several.  First, Santee is blessed with an abundance of wildlife, if we will just take the time to go out and look for it.  (I’ll be writing about Santee Lakes soon, and will include a number of pictures.)  Second, I think is the point that we couldn’t just leave it there.  If this had been a more secluded area, maybe in the woods, we probably would have left nature to take its course; but this was out in the open and we were concerned that someone might do something to the owl.  Even a dead animal deserves some respect.  Finally, here was an opportunity to provide others with the chance to see one of these maginficent birds up close, as part of an educational program.

I hope maybe some of you will take the time to get out and enjoy the natural world that surrounds us – even in your own backyard.

Great Horned Owl Great Horned Owl - Close Up Owl Talons

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March Chamber Mixer

The Price Self Storage Team

This month the Santee Chamber of Commerce held its monthly After-5 Mixer at Price Self Storage on Buena Vista.  It was a great turnout, with about two dozen Chamber members present.  Our hosts were Managers Will Roberson and Janet Bock, and Assistant Dawn Owens, and if they treat their customers half as well as they treated the Chamber members, well, that’s saying quite a bit.

I now have to kick myself publicly because I neglected to get the names of the winners of the 50-50 and Membership Drawings.  I will make sure to do a better job next time.

Speaking of “next time,” the next After-5 Mixer will be April 17 at the office of Dr. Albert Klitzke, DDS, at 8790 Cuyamaca St., Ste E.  It starts at 5:30 and there is a $5 donation for members and guests.  This one will be a special fund raiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  If you do business in Santee, or just live in Santee and have a business elsewhere, consider joining the Chamber, and then come on out for this Mixer. 

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Supporting a Congressional Candidate

Recently I have been approached about throwing my support behind candidates for the 52nd District, so I thought I might blog about what I personally am looking for in a candidate.  Then if anyone can fill the bill, I will gladly support that person.

First of all, I am a relatively moderate person, although I do have some ideals that lean more to the right and others more to the left.  I believe that people need to be taught to take responsibility for their own actions.  I am opposed to government trying to “fix” all of the problems of society when some of the people won’t try to fix their own problems.  It frustrates me when I hear people talking about how they are “owed” this or that for some reason.  We “owe” ourselves the best effort we can give, but no one “owes” us anything else.  So, I am looking for a candidate who believes in showing people how to help themselves, giving them support, and letting them move ahead without putting roadblocks in the way.

 On the other hand, I don’t think that government should turn its back on anyone who needs some extra help to get back on their feet, although it does not have to be the government that helps them.  What I mean is, let’s not get so caught up in semantics that we put those roadblocks up in the way of groups or individuals who are trying to help people get a new start.

The environment is one area where I tend to lean more to the left.  Not so much that I agree that all development is bad, but enough that I see a greater need for protecting our natural heritage sometimes as opposed to unrestricted or poorly regulated exploitation.  One example – I believe that our National Parks and Refuges need to be protected from activities that are completely incompatible, such as drilling for oil, clear-cut logging, or mining.  The candidate I support is going to have to be able to stand up to some of these interests and say “No more.”  But, the candidate also has to be able to stand up to some of the over-the-top environmental groups and tell them the same thing.  In short, I want someone who will try for an overall balance between human needs and the environment.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m looking for someone who is not locked in to one camp or another on any particular issues.  Someone, dare I say it, who will think for himself/herself.  So now you know what I’m looking for – anyone out there interested in applying?

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“The Garden”

The Garden at Cajon Park School

The last time I posted I wrote about the Santree Fest at Cajon Park School, and I mentioned “The Garden.”  This time I want to talk a bit about The Garden – its history and current uses.

The Garden has been around since at least 1991, and is a learning, living garden.  The district actually set up a program that required every school to have a garden of some type, but Cajon Park is one of the few schools that still has one going.  The Garden was originally setup using a $15,000 grant, and has been used by at least 20 different teachers over the years.  Second grade teacher Darrel Eastis is the faculty coordinator for The Garden, but the real work of keeping it going is done by three amazing volunteers – Karen McShane, Judy Crall, and Liz Schmitt.  Karen has been helping in The Garden since 2001, Judy since 2003, and Liz since early last year.The Garden Girls

Under the watchful eyes of these three ladies, students work in the garden watering, weeding, and harvesting the vegetables and herbs.  The garden is all organic, which has the double benefit of avoiding harmful pesticides and teaching the children about good gardening practices.  One of the favorite activities, besides watering, is checking out the worm garden – this is the source of the nutrients used to fertilize the garden patches.  They also like to check out the worm experiment – four boxes of soil and paper full of worms, each group provided with a different food.  (I’m not sure, but I think the ones fed coffee and tea move the fastest.)

Students Check Out a Scarecrow in The GardenI’m not sure how many teachers make use of the garden these days, but I do know that several of the lower grade teachers have “garden days” where they send half the class at a time to work in their class plot.  Other times teachers will have breakfast in the garden for the students, and at least one teacher, first grade teacher Penny Gordon, has a weekly “Lunch with the Teacher” for select students.  Besides the teachers and students, The Garden has it’s local visitors such as skunks, opossums, raccoons, snakes, and squirrels.  The most unusual group, though, was a hive of bees that had set up shop underneath the workshed for three years.  That was one set of visitors that finally had to be evicted – for obvious reasons.

There are quite a few projects to come in The Garden.  Recently the school received a $500 grant from Wal-Mart and another $5,000 grant from the state to help make the garden ADA compliant.  A walkway was poured to allow for wheelchair access, and Lowe’s donated the materials for a raised planter bed, which will be accessible to disabled students.  In addition they will be putting up shade in some areas and removing a nearby pine tree that blocks the sun.  The Garden will be teaching students for many years to come.
Liz Schmitt tends the worm experiment boxes

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Santree Fest 2008

Santree Fest 2008

Santree Fest 2008

Yes, you read that right – “Santree” – as in the Arbor Day Foundation’s “Tree City USA” program.  Santee is one of the nationally-recognized “Tree Cities” in the country, reflecting the city’s commitment to urban forestry programs.  If you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of trees in the community, particularly in the city parks.  In fact, the parks are so full of trees (considering the need to balance open and recreation space with trees) that this year the Santree Fest was held at one of the local elementary schools.  Cajon Park School, located just a few blocks north of Santana High School and across the street from Woodglen Vista Park, was the site of this years “plant-in.”  Several dozen parent volunteers joined with The Honky Tonk Kingscommunity groups and local businesses to plant trees along the north and east sides of the school and in the newly landscape entry area.  Among the local businesses that provided worker and/or supplies were The Hartford and Best Buy.  The festivities included music by the Honky Tonk Kings; goodies from Coldstone, Hot Dog on a Stick, Smoothie King, Starbuck’s, and Souplantation; and displays from community groups and businesses.

img_1907.jpgThe weather could have been a little sunnier, but the cloud cover did make the work easier than full sun would have.  The festival was scheduled to begin at 10:00, but it looked as if much of the planting had gotten started before that.  By the time my daughter and I arrived around noon most of the planting on the north fence line was pretty much completed (not that I had planned to help with the planting – I’m a photographer, not an arborist).  It was obvious that everyone was having a good time – there was no griping or arguing that I could hear going on from the volunteers, the folks who had just come to watch or enjoy the booths were smiling – it was just an all-around good time.

Cajon Park School was a great location for the festival – and not just because it’s my daughter’s school.  They have a wonderful program there that gets the kids directly involved with growing things – The Garden.  That’s what it’s called, and that’s what it is.  On the west side of the upper campus is an area that has been set aside as a garden, with plots for most of the grades 1-6 classrooms.  They have a multitude of edibles there, from carrots and radishes to snap peas and broccoli to cabbages and chard.  The garden also has an herb area with thyme, oregano, parsley, and nasturtiums (edible flowers that have a peppery taste to them).  There is enough to write about that I will devote another blog just to The Garden.

Santee Teen Center BoothBack at the festival, there were quite a few community groups in attendance.  The Santee Teen Center had a booth that not only informed people about the center, but also had little craft activities that the teens helped younger children with.  CalFire was also there with Smokey Bear and a brush rig, and I had a nice chat with one of the firefighters from the squad.  My daughter really enjoyed talking to the volunteers from Mission Trails Park and checking out the skull models they had – a skunk, a raccoon, and a coyote.  I’m sure she will be bugging me to get over to the park again soon.  The Wildlife Rescue group was also there with a hand-raised crow that someone had been keeping as a pet until it got to be too much to handle.

Santee holds the Tree Fest every year, so if you missed this one keep your eyes open in 2009.  Maybe they will be planting at a school near you.
Mission Trails Regional Park Booth<Rockin’ to the Honkey Tonk Kings

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