Friday, March 28, 2008

Precious time with Amelia

Time with Amelia is getting frighteningly precious these days, now that we know she's going off to Cal Arts in Fall. She works two jobs, goes to school, is in a band, takes bass lessons and has a social life, so time with her is limited these days. But this week it's Spring break, so we've had lunch together 3 days in a row. She even let me buy her some clothes yesterday!!

Today we went to a gorgeous garden called "Sonoma Botanical Garden." You'd never know you're in Sebastopol once you step foot inside. I want to go back next month when all the rhododendrons are in bloom - they're just now starting. Camellias are the big thing right now, and they had some pretty spectacular ones.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A few of my favorite art blogs

I just thought I would mention a few blogs and websites of people who's work I admire. I look at these sites regularly for inspiration, motivation, and just to be wowed.

My amazing (former) boss Dennis:

Dennis's equivalent at the Seattle Times, Gabi Campanario:

Enrico Casarosa, Pixar story artist, Founder of Sketchcrawl and new Daddy:

Martha, amazing watercolor sketcher from Berkeley:

Blog of a graphic designer whom I do not know. But we share a passion for all things Orange:

A felter extraordinaire (see "filz")

Another felter extraordinaire and daughter of our friend Ruth:

Ernie "Hardware Wars" Fosselius

and last but certainly not least,
The amazingly talented SuperDaughter Amelia:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lifestyles of the unemployed

I haven't been to Oahu in years, and I've been trying to figure a way to justify a trip over there for Judy's birthday in June. Well, a couple of weeks ago a postcard came in the mail offering us 2 roundtrip tickets to Honolulu with accomodations if we listened to a one-and-a-half-hour sales pitch for a Vacation Club. We've never done anything like this before, so I asked a few friends who have done it what it was like. They all told us to expect the hard-sell, but you do get a nice gift at the end. I then went online and tried to dig up dirt on the company, and basically only found some people who had bought into it and were not happy with the deal. Well, we decided it would be worth the torture, so today we drove over to Napa to listen to the schpeel. I tried to envision what the sales technique would be so that I would be prepared, and my guess was pretty close. Those poor people couldn't have invited 2 less-likely-to-buy people! We were both totally turned off by the deal. 5-star resorts do not appeal to us, sorry. Plus we sort of lied about our income, and told them our last two vacations were to the Eastern Sierras and Baja (oops, forgot about that France trip) so they didn't even really end up pressing us too hard. We walked away with a voucher for a trip to Oahu! Now, we shall see if we get the dates we want -- but we both felt it was fairly painless and worth the drive. Afterwards, we drove through Napa and visited our old college where we met and my old house. Then we drove up valley to St Helena and had lunch and bought some Easter goodies at Woodhouse Chocolate. We drove home over Spring Hill Road/St. Helena Road, which was gorgeous and mellow. A very nice day!

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Lunch (the second course):

French radishes from the garden:

On Thursday, I got to tag along with my friend Michele on a private "Culinary Tour" at Chalk Hill Winery. Michele is a food writer, and is doing a story on these $150 tours for the next issue of Savor magazine. Talk about lifestyles of the rich and famous. Gheeze Louise. Chalk Hill is a 1400-acre estate winery. On the property is lawyer-owner Fred Furth's estate, the winery/tasting room (open only by appointment), 7 guest houses (to bribe, I mean host distributers and prominent wine-club members), an organic garden complete with 10 chickens, vineyards, lakes, a chapel, an one of the largest equestrian centers in the Western U.S. The equestrian center is for Fred's wife Peggy and her trainer. Apparently there are six horses. Six. I never saw hide nor hair of one of 'em. We were driven down to the organic garden, where the gardener gave us a tour. We got to sample from a gorgeous array of freshly picked spring vegetables that he had laid out, including white asparagus. Then we were taken up to the equestrian center at the top of the property, where they also have their culinary center. The horses on this property live better than most people (they have their own jacuzzi) and have names such as "Lord Chalk Hill" and "Lord Frederick." The floor of the humongous indoor arena is composed of FAKE dirt. (Real dirt would stir up too much dust.) They've planted 1400 tulips outside the barn on either side of a flagstone path leading up to the culinary center. The full-time French Chef, and his sous-chef prepare meals using foods primarily from the organic garden. We were treated to a private 3-course meal, paired with wine. The meal was incredible, and the chef came out to meet us afterwards. I was surprisingly comfortable, considering how out-of-my-element I was. Fortunately, the two young people showing us around were nice and un-pretentious. Plus it helped that there was a dead bunny rabbit on the flagstone pathway through the tulips.

This is the indoor arena, where they once had a fundraiser with the Russian National Symphony. The dirt is fake. It's composed of cork and something else; I forget what. The timber for the building was a gift from Alaska after Fred Furth represented the state against Exxon. They closed Hwy 101 in the middle of the night in order to transport the beams up to the estate.

The 1400 tulips. (I didn't photograph the dead bunny)

Friday, March 14, 2008

She's gone.

It's really hard to fathom. Our red chicken was attacked and killed on Monday by some unknown vicious animal. I feel terribly, terribly guilty because I was home when it happened, and I heard her squalk. I even went outside to check on her, and could not find her. So I assumed she'd just scared some faral cats away like she'd done so many times before. But when Amelia came home from school, she found her body on the front lawn. Dave thinks it was a dog; I think it was one of those stupid cats that have been stalking her for years. We buried her in the back yard. She gave us 7 great years of companionship, and I will miss her so much. Now we have no chickens.