When is a weed a good thing? When it brings us together to whack, pluck or pull it. On Aug. 3, neighbors will gather with shovels and sheers to spruce up Montclair Park.

We all have our memories of this sweet urban park. Our kids went to camp here and played on the banks of the picturesque pond. Like so many children before them, they caught crawdads with hot dogs and "rode" horseback in the western village. This place was their playground; their fishing hole and their link to a simpler time when children played tag in the filtered sunlight and let their imaginations run wild.

Wouldn't it be good to give back to our town and rekindle some of these memories? If you're free Aug. 3, grab your family and friends and come down to the basketball court in the park between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. There's work for everyone -- weeding and pruning and general cleanup and repairs. Montclair merchants such as Crogans, Crown Liquors and Rustica will bring the refreshments if you provide the manpower. See www.montclairvillage.com for more information.

Around town: Add Homestead to the impressive list of new restaurants in Oakland. Local chef Fred Sassen is the co-owner of this farm-to-fork venue, opening next month on Piedmont Avenue. Sassen was the executive sous chef at Farallon, and more recently, Camino in Oakland. Homestead opens Thursday in the historic Julia Morgan-designed building at 4029 Piedmont Ave.


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Ear candy: Several Oakland musicians will join national recording artists at next weekend's Art + Soul Oakland Festival. The downtown event is now 13 years old and fills four stages with all genres of music on Aug. 3-4. Check out the list of performers at http://artandsouloakland.com/lineup.htm.

Animal tales: From the "who knew?" file comes this little tidbit from pet expert Sherry Burdic. She says never let your dog hang out the window while you're driving -- unless, of course, your dog has goggles. Dogs can get nasty dust particles and bugs in their eyes that can scratch their corneas. This problem can be solved with a pair of designer dog goggles, but do you really want your dog sporting more expensive eyewear than you wear? Better to keep paws and heads inside the vehicle.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by phone at 510-723-2525, by email at ginnyprior@hotmail.com or on the web at www.ginnyprior.com.