What I Love About My Job! (In 60 Seconds or Less) – Dustlight Productions

Movies.  I love them.  Especially those that capture the “3 Es”  (enlighten, educate AND entertain).  It naturally follows that one of my favorite genres is the documentary. With a lifelong fascination of the movie making process, I am one of those people who always stays until the end of the movie.  And by the END, I mean the REAL end, after all of the credits have stopped, we’ve been assured no animals were harmed in the making of the film, and the popcorn sweepers are storming the theater.

In considering whom I should approach for my next “What I Love About My Job!” 60-second interview, my friend Jeanne Rawlings immediately came to mind.  A beautiful, talented filmmaker (who also happens to love and live in Chico), Jeanne’s impressive 30-year background includes being honored with TWO Emmy Awards (nominated for SIX) and working with the likes of National Geographic Society, Discovery, ABC, and the Army National Guard,

Jeanne’s company, Dustlight Productions, also offers commercial production, writing and editing services.

And what does Jeanne love about her job?  Take a 51-second listen:



If there is one thing I love more than documentaries, it’s animals.  Check out Jeanne’s promotional video for Butte Humane Society’s recent fundraising gala:  https://vimeo.com/56798436

Like big tractors and earth-moving-type machines?  Check out the interesting story of “Linetrac 1“: https://vimeo.com/31985086

Click here to view Jeanne’s impressive portfolio and here for her contact info.


SACRED STONES – Abbey of New Clairvaux

Q: What is 1,000 years old, weighs two tons and hangs out in a monastery/winery?  (No, the answer is NOT “ChicoLaura”!) A: One of the “sacred stones” being used to construct the “Chapter House” at the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, CA (just 20 miles north of Chico).

Our Soroptimist of Chico club was treated today to a fascinating presentation by Jerry Olenyn and Karla Johnston, representing the Sacred Stones Project at the Abbey of New Clairvaux.  Who knew stones could be so interesting?

Moved in 1931 from a Cistercian monastery in Ovila, Spain to San Francisco by millionaire publisher William Randolph Hearst at a cost of $85,000, the stones were intended to be used at Wyntoon (his estate near the McCloud River).  He even had a structure designed by famed architect Julia Morgan (who designed his San Simeon estate).  But then came the Great Depression, and the stones sat languishing for decades in Golden Gate Park, where some of them were used as borders in the Japanese Tea Garden.

Then In the 1990s, the stones were given to the New Clairvaux monks, who started using them to reinforce their monastery buildings with concrete and steel to meet modern earthquake codes.  A few years ago the monks embarked on a huge undertaking: reconstructing the Chapter House on their spacious grounds.

Read more about the reconstruction here: http://www.kcra.com/news/18779644/detail.html#ixzz1nA4uph7z

In 2010, Chico’s legendary  Sierra Nevada Brewing Company announced its joint venture with the Abbey of New Clairvaux to begin production of Belgian-style abbey ales.   Named “Ovila” after the 12th century Cistercian monastery, Santa Maria de Ovila, the ales have proved wildly popular.  Part of the profits go to help with the Chapter House reconstruction.

It’s been years since I visited the monastery, but I definitely plan to go in the near future.  Click here for info about day visits; you can also schedule a weekend retreat if you are really wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in our techno world!


Chico Makes it into Sunset Magazine!

“In Autumn, Chico’s weather cools to crisp–a perfect time for a stroll or bicycle ride along Esplanade, the town’s main drag.”  So states the inset on p. 21 of the October 2011 issue of Sunset magazine.


Along with several lovely photos, the two-page spread mentions such Chico hot spots as Bidwell Mansion, Campus Bicycles, Made in Chico, Tin Roof Bakery, the Honey Run Covered Bridge, and even Warner Street (named after Warner Brothers Studio, which filed the 1938 “Adventures of Robin Hood” here).  And, of course, no article about Chico would be complete without mentioning the crown jewel, Bidwell Park.

In researching this post, I came across a really fun site featuring many Chico “urban legends.”  Check it out; very interesting! (Perhaps you can even confirm or deny some of the stories.)


Filmed in Bidwell Park: Adventures of Robin Hood


Ahhhh, Drakesbad. One of my favorite places in the world, and less than two hours’ drive from Chico!
One of the few lodgings nestled in Lassen Volcanic Park, Drakesbad Guest Ranch dates back more than 100 years. In fact, Chico founder John Bidwell and his tiny-but-powerful wife Annie used to vacation there to escape the valley heat.
When my sons were young we often stayed in one of the cozy, rustic cabins for a few days (whatever the vacation budget would allow at the time). What a great family retreat! Rowing on Dream Lake, playing board games in the lodge, hiking up to the boiling mud pits, stargazing from the huge hot spring pool, stories by the campfire at night. And the best thing of all (from a mom’s viewpoint): three delicious meals a day at the cookhouse–no shopping/cooking/cleaning! Also, no phones/TVs/video games (in fact, the only electricity is provided via generator to the cookhouse; cabins are lit by kerosene lanterns!) Horseback riding is offered too, but we had our own horse at home so never took advantage of that.
(Click here to view photos from my recent visit to Drakesbad, and click here for some great OLD photos I came across online.) I recently discovered a wonderful opportunity. When camping at Warner Valley Campground (just 1/2 mile from Drakesbad, 1st come 1st served, one can reserve a meal at the Drakesbad cookhouse, and then have use of the facilities all day. Now THAT’S a great deal! (Drakesbad is only open through mid-October; check out their web site or call 1-866-999-0914 and talk with Billie or Ed for more info or reservations.