Last Sunday morning was anything but peaceful. Our wine country neighbors were hit with a major earthquake. And while Oakland and Piedmont didn't get much of a jolt, it was surely a wake-up call for all of us.

Doug Mosher put it best when he sent out this email from the Montclair Safety & Improvement Council: "Remember, the Hayward Fault is a mile or so away ... we all need to be prepared!" If you haven't already done so, get your neighbors together for CORE training at http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca1/groups/fire/documents/webcontent/oak047987.pdf)

Around town: It takes a village to keep local shops open and a Great Good Place for Books needs help. Owner Kathleen Caldwell has been watching the summer receipts and says GGPB had its slowest June and July in seven years. "I didn't sleep very well," she says. "I decided I needed to be honest with people." Caldwell is urging us to shop locally and please check out her list of fall reading events.


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Cheap parking: Readers are seeking the scoop on cheap parking now that Montclair is testing flex meters. First, there are 50-some merchants who validate for up to three free hours in the parking garage. As for cheap meters, It's $1 per hour on the west (far) side of Moraga, from La Salle to Mountain and west (far) side of Mountain from Moraga to Snake. If money is no object, the $3 meters are by "coffee corners" (Mountain from La Salle to Moraga and Antioch streets and Antioch Court.) See a meter map at http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Parking/Montclair/index.htm.

Tidbits: Chef Henry Vortriede is going out with a bang. He says his goal is to make the food and service even better in Montclair Bistro's last month. The restaurant will close in mid- to late September and reopen as Chowhaus with Montclair husband and wife chefs Joe Schnell and Tracey Belock.

Meanwhile, chef/owners Fred and Elizabeth Sassen are having a farm-to-fork Labor Day barbecue at Homestead (4029 Piedmont Ave.) What's on the menu? For $30 ($15 for kids 10 and younger) you get baby back ribs; corn on the cob with chili lime butter; salads, beans and house-made bread and Popsicles. The BBQ starts at noon and lasts till the food runs out.

Street art: Since we're glued to our smart phones, we might as well make good use of them. Friends of Sausal Creek has put little QR codes on the placards in their Montclair mosaic planters. Scan them, and you'll get information on the drought-resistant, native greens growing in the planters.

Animal tales: What's harmless and hairy and looking for love? The male tarantula, which comes out of its burrow each autumn to mate atop Mount Diablo. A 19th century scientific expedition described Mount Diablo's tarantula as " possessing fangs the size of a rattlesnake's and delivering a bite generally considered fatal." Truth or arachnophobia? Find out by booking a trek through the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association or by email at mtdiablohiker@aol.com or sweettrails00@gmail.com.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at ginnyprior@hotmail.com or on the web at www.ginnyprior.com.