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NEIGHBORS : A Close Shave : Taj Mahal got lost on the way to a rain forest benefit, but Kenny Rankin filled in.

June 07, 1990|Leo Smith

Everything went just as planned for the Taj Mahal/Leo Kottke rain forest benefit concert at the Ventura Theatre May 29--everything except Taj Mahal. He took a wrong turn on Route 99 coming back from the Strawberry Festival in Yosemite, and couldn't find his way to the Oakland Airport in time to catch a plane heading south.

So in his place stepped Ventura's Kenny Rankin. "There's a trapdoor in the back of the stage and when there's trouble they open it up and in comes Rankin," he said. Actually, Rankin is a big advocate of protecting rain forests. "In the spirit of survival I showed up. It's the least you can do. We're insignificant in comparison to the enormous responsibility we have. It's not too late, but it's getting later."

And what was Rankin doing when he received the emergency call to fill in? "I was watching Phoenix and Portland playing in the (NBA) playoffs. It was the third quarter. I was in my underwear, and I hadn't shaved."

Remember the ghost that supposedly was haunting a bunkhouse room on the Christy Ranch out at Santa Cruz Island? Well, Camarillo ghostbuster Richard Senate and about 29 others, including one medium, went ahead with the planned seance over the Memorial Day weekend. And they may have contacted the mysterious lady in green.

"A woman called herself Mary Morrison Reese. I don't know how the name is spelled. She didn't spell it," Senate said. "She said in the 19th Century her husband was involved in smuggling illegal Chinese into the United States. But he would rob them, tie them up and throw them overboard. She claimed to be the lady in green waiting for her husband to return or for a mass to be said in her name so she could rest in peace."

Senate spent the night of May 27 in the haunted room to see for himself what was going on. "I had a nice encounter," he said. "There's a window looking out to the porch. When anyone walks on the porch it creaks. At 10:58 I saw a figure in black go past the door and there was no sound, not even a creak."

Conclusion: "I would dare say," Senate said, "that there is a ghost at Christy Ranch . . . a wandering shadow, some leftover sadness of a long forgotten tragedy." Yikes.

By the way, if you're wondering how Christy Ranch got its name, the seance provided its own answer. "A personality came through named Tomas. He had worked here," Senate said. "Someone asked him who Christy was and he said it was a joke. He said Christy was the cook. I guess he was so possessive they named the ranch after him."

As wonderful as the story sounds, Marla Daily of the Santa Cruz Island Foundation thinks the island was named around the turn of the century after Samuel B. Christy, the dean of mining at UC Berkeley.

When the Ventura County Rabbit Breeders Assn. gets together with the California chapter of the Angora Rabbit Society and the Northern California Angora Guild, it's a safe bet there will be a lot of cottontails hopping around. How about 1,000 of them. All at the Ventura County Fairgrounds June 9 and 10.

And that means a lot of rabbit food--some pellets, grain, oats, barley, hay, carrots or apples. But not necessarily lettuce.

"There's some kind of drug in it," said Velma Paquette, rabbit coordinator at the fairgrounds. "I have people tell me, 'I just go to the store and get celery and lettuce.' I don't know about celery, but the lettuce is a bad habit."

Lettuce a bad rabbit habit? What's up, doc? Dr. Robert Clipsham of the California Exotics Clinic in Simi Valley said there is a chemical that grocers spray on the lettuce that, while nontoxic to humans, can cause diarrhea in rabbits. In addition, lettuce can be rough on a bunny's tummy.

"If they've been eating pellets and hay and then they eat lettuce," said Clipsham, "it's like going down to Mexico and having a fish taco. The gut just isn't ready for it."

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