July 4, 2009

On Independence Day: From our nation's capital, checking in on some sad, shocking news and ongoing controversies in Walnut Creek

Flying home tomorrow and have had a lovely time visiting family, and wandering around Virginia, Maryland and, of course, the District of Columbia.

Oh, and happy Fourth! Earlier, my son, brother, sister-in-law, and cousin were down at the Mall, and paid a visit to the Lincoln Memorial, where we stood in that cool marble structure, next to Lincoln's great statue, and re-read the words of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural address. A parade, with marching bands, was making its way along Constitution Avenue. Up and down the mall, people were setting out blankets and camp chairs to mark their spot for the big Fourth of July fireworks celebration tonight. We'll be watching fireworks closer to my brother's home in Arlington.

Yes, we made it to the Holocaust Museum, the Newseum, the Smithsonium's American history collection, and to Monticello and Mount Vernon. We also drove up to Baltimore to visit a friend. Alas, no art museum visits on this trip--I'm with an 11-year-old boy with limited patience for genius paintings and sculpture--except that we stopped in to get some gelato in the concourse cafeteria of the National Gallery.

I really have been off the cyber network this week, which has probably been a mentally healthy thing.

However, I just had a few moments to catch up on some news from Walnut Creek:

--The very sad loss of Romila Higgens, 41, and her 5-year-old daughter, Indali Higgens, at Montara Beach Monday. The San Francisco Chronicle said the two were knocked down by waves at the beach, which is notorious for its rip current. Romila, known to friends and family as Angie, was the owner of All in the Kiln, a ceramic studio in Walnut Creek where children and adults can paint their own potter. Indali, called Indu, had just finished kindergarten.

-- Walnut Creek's first murder of 2009, and it involved a teen-aged boy, and it happened not too far from where I live! Jonart Suacillo Yambao, 17, was dropped off at Kaiser medical center's emergency room early Thursday with fatal stab bounds. Police later arrested Daniel Avanesyan, 18, of Walnut Creek, on suspicion of the killing. Apparently the stabbing happened at a party near Clover Lane and Nicholson Road. Police "are aware of circumstances" surrounding the killing, according to the Contra Costa Times, but are declining to comment.

Actually Clover Lane and Nicholson Road are sort of near where I live, and that intersection is not too far from another of Walnut Creek's more recent homicides. This killing involved the March 20, 2008 shooting death of Joshua Rhoads in his family's home on Boulevard Way.

--Finally, the Neiman Marcus battle continues, in pro and con letters to the editor of the Walnut Creek Journal and the Contra Costa Times, and in the comments on this blog. Fifty comments on the message board for my little commentary about how the fight over Neiman Marcus has become a battle for the soul of Walnut Creek...

Well, I'm glad to provide a forum for people to discuss this issue, perhaps in ways they didn't feel they could in other forums. I'm impressed by the thought that people have put into their comments.

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