A little bit about a lot of things:

• Special day in Newman last Thursday, when about eight banners honoring local residents serving in the armed forces were mounted on Highway 33 light poles.

The banners pay tribute to those who serve, and remind us of family and friends who are working in defense of freedom.

A number of families were on hand to see their loved one’s banner go up, making the moment all the more moving.

The banners are part of the Yellow Ribbon program organized by a Gustine couple to show support for those in the military. Theirs is a West Side effort, not confined to any particular community, and I was very pleased to see Newman leaders embrace the program.

Our men and women in the armed forces are more than deserving of the recognition. The banners are a gesture of support that lets them know that their service and sacrifice are not forgotten at home.

Our communities are justifiably proud of those who serve. 

• Congratulations to Gustine FFA member Darren Borba, who won prestigious State Star honors in the ag placement division during the recent California FFA convention. That’s a lofty honor, one which reflects years of dedication and hard work. Darren didn’t stop with the State Star recognition, as he was also named the state ag services proficiency winner. He will advance to national competition in each of those categories.

Nicole Moitozo had a pretty decent convention for the Gustine blue-and-gold contingent as well, placing fourth in the state job interview finals and earning a $7,500 scholarship from the Almond Board of California.

Congratulations to both for a job well done....and to Gustine FFA.

The Gustine chapter continues to be a model for others to follow, which is testament to both its motivated members and to its veteran team of advisors, who have instilled a standard of success throughout the program.

That doesn’t happen by accident, only through hard work.

Gustine FFA continues to make its school and community proud.

• Spent a lot of time and effort researching various gopher remedies in recent weeks, heard a lot of good advice from people who know a lot more than I do about such things, and even tried some pretty off-the-wall approaches to dispatching our unwelcome underground rodent plant poacher (are gophers rodents?).

I had some ideas of my own on ridding our property of the gopher, but none of them were really good ideas and some might have caused problems....or injury.

We were getting desperate, though, after several weeks of seeing plants literally disappear overnight, seemingly sucked into the earth without a trace, so I was just about ready to try anything, good idea or not.

Watching your garden disappear and seeing larger plants dying off as a gopher feasts on the roots is frustrating, to say the least. We have plants everywhere, so our back yard was probably like some sort of gopher smorgasbord.

We tried fancy traps (no luck), flooded the tunnels (again, nothing to show for our efforts) and other measures....all to no avail.

Then we got wise, and went back to the basics by leaving our cat out all night long......took about three nights, but we woke one morning to find that Molly had dispatched a gopher.

We’re hoping at this point that we didn’t have gophers in numbers, but I guess time will tell if Molly’s work is done. In the meantime, we’ll keep a watchful eye and try to stay one step ahead of the varmints. 

I’m a little conflicted as I study our two household pets.

I’ve never been a big cat person but Molly certainly earned her keep and helped us out, while our dog Zoey wouldn’t have the slightest idea to do with a gopher if she did manage to catch one. Zoey did try, we realized, as early in the season she was going absolutely nuts digging in the garden dirt.....sending soil and plants flying everywhere. That was far out of character, and we eventually realized that she was probably hearing the gopher beneath our feet and trying to reach it.

Made one heck of a mess, but didn’t come up with a gopher to show for her efforts.

Nice effort....but some things are better left to the cat.

• This is a little extreme, isn’t it?

Local weather observer Marge Carvalho recorded a high temperature of 100 degrees last Thursday, marking the first time this year that the mercury has hit triple digits. But it won’t be the last.....so for now enjoy the more moderate temperatures forecast for this week.

It’s only a matter of time before Mother Nature cranks up the summer heat in earnest.

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.