It's not every day I get to interview a semiprofessional whistler who has lost her whistle, so I was intrigued to make a phone call to Doris Miller, of Sunol, to follow up on this curious news tip.

It seems this past summer, Miller and her husband were on their way to Yellowstone after visiting friends in Oregon. Driving in hilly terrain just over the border of Washington along the Snake River in Idaho, the vacationing couple noticed an unoccupied Pontiac Firebird rolling downhill and coming straight at them.

The car was being trucked home by a couple of guys who were going to fix it up, said Miller, but it slipped free of its tie-downs and took to the road itself. Within moments, the car collided head-on with Miller's car.

While Miller's husband, Dave, suffered broken ribs and was not hurt too badly, Miller suffered a broken neck, lung injuries and other serious trauma. She also lost her ability to whistle.

Turns out Miller is known by many locals as the "Whistling Lady of Sunol" for her whistling performances often at the end of the second act at Sunol Repertory Theater performances.

After spending a month in the hospital and a rehabilitation center in Spokane, Miller, who first moved to Sunol in 1964, is now home and recuperating.

"I still can't whistle," she said, "but I'm healing and confident I'll be whistling again in time for the March season of the Sunol Repertory Theatre."

As I hung up the phone with Mrs. Miller, I couldn't help but be encouraged by her positive outlook. And then I searched online for the Sunol Repertory Theatre and learned that it was founded in 1982 by Tom and Vicki Harland. The theater offers wonderful melodramas and donates all its profits to benefit students at Sunol Glen School. Now that's worth whistling about.

also worth a whistle: In a few days my mother will celebrate her 80th birthday.

Born in Minnesota, my mom, whose name is Janet, moved to Venice in Los Angeles when she was a young girl. She met my dad when they were kids in school. My parents married the day my mom graduated high school and while my dad was serving in the Air Force. About a year later, my brother was born. Then I came along in 1956, followed by my sister. My folks beat the odds by staying happily married until my father passed away five years ago.

I credit my mother with my love of writing. She started writing poetry when I was little. I was curious what she was doing, and soon I found myself amazed at how stringing words together in just a certain way can recreate the actual experience of life. Now living just a few minutes from my house, my mom is one of Pleasanton's newest residents, and she absolutely loves our city.

Happy birthday, Mom. I love you.

Contact Jim Ott at jimott@sbcglobal.net.