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SMITH: Oh, no, God won't mind the blues

Published: Monday, December 10, 2012 at 7:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 10, 2012 at 7:07 p.m.

Father Matt knows Christmas isn't joyful and merry for everyone.

“For so many people, the holidays is a time of loneliness and grief, of remembering loved ones who are gone,” says Matt Lawrence, rector of downtown Santa Rosa's Church of the Incarnation.

This year, he and members of his Episcopal congregation are doing something cool for folks feeling out of synch with the holiday cheer.

They're bringing in a blues band Saturday and inviting everyone who's of heavy heart to come sing along.

“We want people to know they aren't alone,” Father Matt says.

Leading the band at the 7 p.m. Blues Christmas Service will be singer/keyboardist/harmonica player Rick Schaefer. He performed with the Hoodoo Rhythm Devils and was musical director for Maria Muldaur.

Father Matt did give some thought to the propriety of having a blues band bare its soul inside the Mendocino Avenue church's historic, redwood sanctuary.

“I've come to the conclusion that God is everywhere and God is in the blues,” he shares, “so the blues can be in church.”

THEY LOVE DOGS and right about now, Sebastopol's Leslie and Michael Fassio are feeling better than ever about humans, too.

Before Thanksgiving, the couple packed up their truck and camper trailer and four dogs and trekked to Bakersfield for the Australian Shepherd Nationals dog show.

“We did very well,” said Leslie, who works in sales at Martin Ranch Supply. After the show they headed for Arizona to visit family.

The Fassios were on U.S. Highway 93 through a desert area north of Wickenburg about 7 one night when the camper started to sway and then fish-tailed wildly, causing the truck to roll into a culvert.

Neither Michael, a retired real estate executive, nor Leslie was hurt. But they were beside themselves to discover that two of the dogs — Eve, an adult female, and 8-month-old Takoda — had jumped out of the truck's cab through a broken window and run off into the pitch-black desert.

At this point, humanity and Facebook kicked in.

Passersby stopped to help, and one woman took the Sonoma County couple home.

Leslie texted Takoda's breeder, DiAnna Williams of Fresno, and told her the pup and Eve had run off. Williams got to work on Facebook.

Word of the missing dogs spread friend-to-friend and people throughout the region northwest of Phoenix came to help.

“You want to talk about social networking doing its job,” Leslie said. “We had a total of about 40 people searching” — two of them pilots who refused the Fassios' offer of money for fuel.

Two days after the crash, a fellow spotted Eve and used treats to draw the frightened dog close enough to grab her. Four days after that, the same guy found and gathered up Takoda.

Leslie couldn't be more grateful to everyone who went way out their way to help them. She said the outpouring sure “put the thanks in Thanksgiving.”

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