Monday, October 29, 2012

Walkabout ~ October 27, 2012

I'd been on the computer for most of the morning and decided some exercise was in order, so I grabbed my camera and headed out for a circuit around the vineyard next door. Temperature in the mid 70's and color everywhere. Hard to believe it's almost November.  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Oh Well ~ October 26, 2012

What are the three things a homeowner doesn't want to hear?

  1. You need a new roof
  2. Your septic system is shot
  3. You really should replace your well
I don't know if the proper word is "fortunate" but we do have the first two covered; the roof is in good shape and the entire septic system and leach field was replaced in 2006. Thank the goddesses for home equity.

We recently did the annual filter change on the house water system(Sebastopol well water is famous for bacterial iron). The increase in the volume of water to back flush the filter tank started shutting down the well on a nightly basis. After three years the jet pump, 100' down the well, is no doubt once again clogged with iron and manganese. The well cannot recharge fast enough to keep pressure tank at optimum levels.

The new morning ritual of walking down to the well to restart it and picking up the paper on the way back up to the house wasn't an ideal long term solution, especially with winter approaching. What are the options? 

  • Pull up and replace 200' of piping and the jet pump to the tune of about $1,000 ~ assuming that is the only problem
  • Install a water storage tank $6,700
  • Replace well estimated cost $17,000 and be done with it

The first and second choices are less expensive, quick fixes with no guarantees. The well is 60 years old and the stability of the old iron casing had to be part of the equation. Technology has changed dramatically in the last several decades so we decided to replace the well. The old one is still operational and we'll use it for the drip system in the vegetable garden.

The arrival of all the equipment, logistics of getting into place, and the process itself has been quite entertaining for the troops up here around our little compound. The sand chairs atop one of the compost piles provide prime viewing.

Set Up

Day Two

Weeks Well and Pump has been drilling for two days and will probably finish up on Monday. The old well is 240' so we'll go down to the same depth. All the tailings and slurry must stay on site so they built an earthen dam behind the garden for the water, soil, and sand, all of which is non-toxic.

Our neighbor, Engineer Mike, mused that it was too bad we couldn't find the Mother of all Gopher Dens and pump the slurry underground. Visions of cartoon tunnels and herds of gophers leaving town put a smile on all of our faces.

I walked down to the "wash" just before sunset and was fascinated by the colors, shadows and small tracks that already ran across the face. Stay tuned for Chapter Two.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ethereal Beauty ~ Oct 25, 2012

We just got back from a short jaunt up to Butte County to see my Aunt Betty and her husband Bob. They are 93 and 95 respectively and delightful company. We went up to tag along when they met with an attorney to update their trust.

The four of us are heading out for a more entertaining adventure on November 5th. They're taking the Land of Legends, Wild, Wild West bus tour through historic sites in Arizona and we're going to meet up to spend a couple of days exploring and looking into family history.

The trip took us through Lake County via Hwy 20 and we saw a lot of the damage caused by recent lightning fires. The ground and brush are burned away, and though the trees are burned their leaves remain. It created a rather other worldly vision in the changing light of a passing storm, an ethereal beauty hard to describe.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday Coloring Book ~ Oct 21, 2012

Rumor has it we're going to get rain tonight so we decided to take a walk at Riverfront Park just outside of Windsor. Got some good exercise, a few photos, and checked out bass fishing possibilities. Rod is now, after all, a gentleman of leisure, a fledgling retiree, and elder of the hood (well besides me). He's looking forward to some uncommited time and then will start scouting out volunteering opportunities. He's seen how much I enjoy my two days a week at the Legacy Shop Annex in Sebastopol.

Chicory Blossom

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Trisha's in the House ~ Oct 20, 2012

Rod was fixing one of his infamous kitchen sink stir fry breakfasts with  spinach, bell peppers, red peppers, potatoes and garlic from the garden and fresh eggs from our next door neighbor. As I walked through the kitchen, he commented that the red peppers were hotter than he expected. He asked me what I thought and handed me a small piece to test. At first crunch my eyes went wide and I started waving my hands in preschooler sign language ~ too hot, too hot, too hot. He agreed to only use a few and cook them beyond redemption so there was only a little heat for flavor.

I have Trisha's Christmas Cactus in my living room on a corner shelf where it thrives back lit by two windows. I looked up from the breakfast table and noticed it had two huge salmon colored flowers. It usually doesn't start blooming for another month. I told Rod to take a look and said "Trisha's in the House". He looked at me and smiled "I knew that from the way you reacted to the peppers" remembering her distaste for really hot food groups.

My cousin Gordie taught me a card game called Idiot's Delight. You turn up one card at a time, always playing with the last four cards showing. If the 1st and 4th cards are same suit you can remove the two cards in between. If the 1st and 4th cards are the same you can remove all four cards. The object is have no cards at the end of the game. It took me 18 years to win my first game. On one of our road trips I taught Trisha how to play. It took her exactly three tries to win her first.

My last conversation with her in November 2010 was about our plans for Thanksgiving and her birthday. After we had gotten off the phone I realized I had forgotten to tell her I had won a game of Idiot's Delight the night before (probably the 4th time in 20 years), so I called her back. We had a great laugh and she told me I'd have to school her again, it'd been awhile since she'd played. Little did I know...

Rod and I play cribbage with breakfast every morning. Sometimes when he's pondering a move at great lengths I'll pick up the deck, shuffle and start a game of Idiot's Delight. Holy crap! It took me a second to comprehend the fact that I had won a game, the first since 2010. I screamed "I won, I won, I won" and whooped loudly. Rod gave me a double high five and we burst out laughing.

Trisha was indeed "in the house" this morning. I will forever miss the girl, but I know she's always with the posse. Celebrate life and the ones you love ~ kindred spirits will always be at our sides.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday Rocks ~ October 16, 2012

Leaves changing
Indian Summer
Chocolate tomatoes

And the Giants blew the feathers off the Cardinals last night
Life is good!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tis the Season ~ October 13, 2012

I'm not a political person. My idea of the news is the Daily Show. Newspapers are for the funnies and the crossword puzzle. Now we seem to be on the 24/7 political channel: Most of our mail is recyclable, the phone is on permanent screen, and the TV is overrun by talking heads, mudslingers, analysts, and wannabes. I cannot wait until November 7th when things get back to semi-normal.

Anyway, there's a new radio station in Sonoma County called Funny 95.5 and its 24/7 comedy. A great co-pilot when you're in the car dodging idiots and trying to maintain your cool. This quote from the irrespressable Will Rogers got me to thinking about the art (and I use that term loosely) of politics.
Everything is changing.
People are taking their comedians seriously
and the politicians as a joke.

I started researching political humor and found some priceless thoughts and observations that might lighten your day and get you to thinking.

Will Rogers ~ The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected.
Harry S. Truman ~ My choice early in life was either to be a piano-player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference.
E. E. Cummings ~ A politician is an arse upon which everyone has sat except a man.
Alfred E. Newman ~ Crime does not pay as well as politics.
Charlie Chaplin ~ I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.
Ronald Reagan ~ Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.
Ernest Benn ~ Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.
Adlai Stevenson ~ I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends... that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.
Unknown ~ Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly and for the same reason."

Voting Girl I Pin-Up - wall art mixed media collage 8"X10" within 11"X14" matboard

So step up to the bar, cowboy up, and face the task at hand: attempt to make sense of the voter pamphlet, inform yourself as best you can and vote. There's a $5 fine for whining and you can't complain if you didn't show up ~ I said that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Eating Dirt and other Observations ~ Oct 09, 2012

Some days are made for walking
Autumn leaves, a camera,
woolly clouds, a breeze

Noon beckoned us to the Laguna
for lunch on a shaded bench
birds and squirrels, no sign of cold
content to let the day unfold

A stop at Fircrest for picnic parts
Garlic roasted turkey and Swiss
the choice a cinch
Rod asked for whole wheat bread
It'll get squishy and flat I said
The deli girl smiled and
suggested a whole wheat roll
it'll stand up to condiments and tomatoes
and keep it's soul

The lady next to me laughed
and said you're right
remember squishing Wonderbread into
indistinguishable sights?

The conversation moved on
to how did we survive our youth
No seat belts and leaded paints
roller skates, no helmets
enough to give a mom the faints

We stayed healthy in spite of dangers faced 
no distraction from TV, video or phone
We played outdoors from dawn to dusk,
ate dirt and skinned our bones
Wearing bandaids like medals we regaled
we created our own resistance
and lived to tell the tale 


Love Strong, Laugh Hard, Be Kind

Monday, October 8, 2012

Night Moves ~ October 4, 2012

Grape harvest is in full swing in Sonoma County. At the vineyard next door the show got underway at o'dark thirty and I mean o'dark. The lights, tractors and voices woke me up about 3:30am. Normally I don't hear a thing, but it's been hot for a few days so we've been leaving the windows open at night.

The klieg lights seemed extra bright and not being able to resist a potential photo op, I bundled up and toddled outside with my camera. A pea soup fog hung low over the vineyard, magnifying the lights ten fold, but there was no fog where I was standing on our driveway about 30 feet to the north.

You couldn't see anything but you could hear all the sounds of the harvest clear as a bell: tractors and the clanking of small trailers on the rough rows, the thump of grapes into boxes, and the shouts, laughter and chatter of the workers. 

The sight was rather otherworldly like something from an old black and white B movie about an invasion from space. I stood out there for ten minutes taking it all in. Conclusion ~ I wouldn't trade this little piece of dirt on a dead end road for the world. Magic happens here, real and imagined.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Emandal Farm Day 2 ~ Sept 29, 2012

We awaken in our little down filled nest at Ohana Cabin about dawn. It's quite chilly since we'd left the windows open all night, but flannel jammies and sheepskin boots are at the ready for the short walk down to the outhouse (some cabins have plumbing but the outhouses and showers are quite delightful). Reminds me of camping when I was a kid.  

Breakfast isn't until 9am so once the sun is up we decide on a walk up to the lake. Up really means up ~ we haven't been to the gym in a couple of months and are huffing and puffing like a couple of old war horses, but our reward is this pretty little lake. Rumor has it there are some good sized bass hiding among the reeds. We walk down the road a bit and come to a place that overlooks the entire valley below. The view is absolutely stunning. There's a giant gong up there made from an old acetylene tank. We heard it a couple of times during our stay so my guess is that the hardy of heart let the world know they'd made it.  

Breakfast is buffet style: eggs, bacon, homemade biscuits (to die for), Tam's jams, fresh fruit, and oatmeal with all the accouterments. We gather at the plank tables in the great room for coffee, conversation and a hearty meal. To settle our meal it's time for a walk through the gardens and down along the Eel before it gets too hot.

I was fascinated by this wonderful compass created from old machine parts from around the farm.

The river is only a short distance down the hill from the compound. It's calm and just sort of meanders this time of year, but there are some great little swimming holes and small rapids you can hear from certain spots along the trail.


We found out from Tam that they're going to remove the last of two old vineyards sometime in the near future. She knows Rod makes walking sticks and canes and told him to stop at the vineyard on the way out get a few samples. I have a feeling we'll be returning to Emandal with the truck for some prime raw materials.

Late morning we head out and stop at Buster's Burgers and Brews on Main Street in Willits for lunch. Great food and we got to watch the last quarter of the 49er game against the hapless Jets. I remember when Don Meredith used to sing "Turn Out the Lights, the Party's Over" and that sure would have been appropriate here!

Once home Rod and the kids next door, Maya and Evan, made fresh lemonade and we sat on the porch with their mom Carol and shared tales. She'd just got back from a trip with her girlfriends.

So here's a toast to adventures down long dusty roads, surprises around every corner and finding common ground.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Back to Emandal Farm ~ Sept 28, 2012

Setting the Scene ~ I introduced my husband to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV in February so it seemed only fitting that I bring him up to Emandal Farm and Not Just Cowboy Poetry as an extension of his 65th birthday on Sept 25th. I made my first trip to Emandal in 2009 with friends Carol Ewert and Trisha Pedroia. Go to my Oct 2009 post entitled "The Beautiful Side of Somewhere" for a little history on this incredible jewel of a place overseen by Tamara Adams and her family.

The Art of Packing ~ We're only going to be gone overnight but you'd never know it by looking in the back of the Honda. As always we're ready for anything: six hats (cowboy to sun), a duffle of footwear (sandles, boots, sheepskin slippers and tennies), two jackets, camera, a small cooler, walking sticks, emergency pack, plenty of water and a duffle bag each to cover any fashion possibility. Our credo is if you can haul it, take it. And if we decide to spend another night out somewhere on the way home we're prepared.

Getting There is Half the Fun ~ We left home around 10am for the 90 mile drive north on Hwy 101. Emandal is about 16 miles east of Willits via back country roads (the dotted lines on road maps). Tamara is very explicit about not using navigation equipment to find the place. You may end up in next county east or a parallel universe for that matter. From about the middle of the directions I quote "Now you are back on Hearst Willits Road. Go up and down and around and about on this road until you reach the Eel River. There will be a sheep farm on the north bank and you'll see a cabin and then a home on your right. As you continue straight you'll notice a big silver bridge on your left (do not go over the bridge). And further down "if you have questions call 707-459-5439 but realize cell reception ends when you leave the Willits Valley". If it's your first trip to Emandal I'd recommend a co-pilot with Tam's directions in hand.

The last part of the drive is about 8 miles of graded road, a term I use loosely. It's better described as a washboard. Rod's convinced that's how Tam turns their cream to butter ~ road trips.

The Apple Pie Throw Down ~ What a way to start the afternoon. As part of the fundraiser for the Willits Library many guests paid $5 to taste of each of the 16 homemade pies. It was our responsibility to pick the Peoples' Choice winner and we all took the task very seriously. Rod's going to enter next year. He wants to win one of those engraved rolling pins!

The Show ~ The show featured two talented entertainers and storytellers. First up was Dick Warwick, a rancher and self proclaimed Barnyard Yarnbard from eastern Washington. He shared stories and poetry gleaned from his ranch life at home and adventures in Australia. Listen to "Buckaroo Braggadocio" at 

Up next singer/songwriter Dave Stamey who's been a cowboy, a mule packer, a dude wrangler, and is now one of the most popular Western entertainers working today. He's won numerous awards including the Will Rogers Award from the Academy of Western Artists. It has been said that his "The Vaquero Song" is one of the greatest Western songs of all time. Check out this link:

The Weather ~ It was supposed to be in the triple digits but it was in the 80's with a nice breeze. The late afternoon show was held on the shaded lawn with guests sharing homemade picnics with family and friends. Bare feet in the cool grass make for a happy combination. 

Food and Conversation ~ After the show, we all took a little break and then lined up for a delightful buffet dinner. All the food is raised and prepared on the farm.

We sat down with strangers at large round tables on the porch and left with new friends and acquaintances. Poet Dick Warwick shared stories with us, one couple met at Emandal 45 years ago and regaled us with the history of the farm, and Scott and Paula are from Graton just down the road from us. After much laughter and a sumptuous dessert of homemade brownies, blackberry and vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce we all excused ourselves and toddled up the hill to our rustic cabins by the light of the harvest moon. A day well spent.

For more information on:

Emandal Farm  
Dick Warwick
Dave Stamey