A Day

Golden Gate Bridge

The prettiest bridge in the world’s loveliest City.

Today was a good day. I’ve been struggling with nearly daily migraine headaches and so I’ve been taking two medications every day to try and help prevent them. Today, they worked. Hooray!

I drove into the City for two doctor appointments having to do with these headaches, and I never cease to be awed by the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge. Here you can see the fog hanging in the distance.

First I visited my cardiologist, Charlie Morris at California Pacific. He’s a terrific doctor and an amazing human being. He’s been traveling to Haiti since the earthquake, working to prevent pregnant women from dying from preeclampsia in a small rural clinic. He had photos on the walls of the examination room from his most recent trip, and a poem that he wrote about his experience:

Haitian Highway

Driving down the river of road,
dark legs populate predawn darkness
trudging toward work of survival,
erectly head-bearing
sacks of flour, red plastic buckets,
even flats of fresh baked bread;
hard working hardness everywhere
baked by Haitian sun.
Roads unmask rain revealed stones
harsh as the language of honks
talking at the shoulder walkers.
Goats skitter from the steel faced predators,
schoolgirls cluster
and swarm aside like swallows,
overloaded motorbikes weave in constant pre-fall.
Pothole cratered river of commerce
paused by speed bump panhandling
from the reckless acceleration toward progress
overcrowding everything that moves
past half completed
or decayed
cinderblock dreams
crowned by the unfinished optimism
of second story rebar,
past areas cordoned off by contained emptiness
of feral vegetation,
jumbled stew of development decay.
Motocross taxis buzz like gnats waved away
in clouds of trucks on diesel life support,
abandoned car wrecks, night’s road reefs,
lie bleaching frustration
at the everyday slowness of everything.
These eyes observed
in the rear view mirror
can never grow accustomed
to the flies on the faces of children
too malnourished to make the effort,
can never not see
the lone father walking this black tarred faith
to hoe a field of rocks. ~~ 9/3/13

I feel so profoundly fortunate to have this guy treating me, and to remember that people like him are in the world doing good science, writing poetry and working to make the world a better place.

Off then to dermatologist to get botox shots all over my head in an effort to minimize the migraines. He had these phalaenopsis orchids in his lobby. What beauty.

Moth orchid, orchid

Phalaenopsis orchids.

Then a trip to Tiburon, where I rented for seven years, to deliver our wine to Paradise Food. A nice trip down memory lane, and another view of the bridge.

goldengatebridge, Golden Gate,

Golden Gate Bridge from Tiburon

I got home just in time for us to lock up the chickens, feed the dog and head down to Sonoma’s Square for the Plein Air Art Festival’s Quick Draw. The Festival is an annual week long event that celebrates outdoor painting. The juried group of artists come from around the country to paint in and around the Sonoma Valley all week and then from 10 – 4 on Saturday, they display the fruits of their labor for sale. Tonight, the artists were given 90 minutes to paint a scene from the Square and prepare it for display and sale. It was fun watching the artists select and paint the scenes that called to them, and then see the finished paintings shortly thereafter.

Plein Air, Outdoor painting, Sonoma, Sonoma Mission

Plein Air artist at tonight’s Quick Draw event, painting the Sonoma Mission

For the past two Art Festivals, we’ve housed the talented artist Michele Usibelli. She’s back again with us this year, and this was her Quick Draw painting for tonight. She did a beautiful job capturing an afternoon scene in front of Basque Cafe.

Plein Air, Outdoor painting

Michele Usibelli’s plein air painting of Basque Cafe

Last stop – the Farmer’s Market.

Pumpkins, Sonoma Farmers Market, Sonoma

Pumpkins and Squash

Sonoma, Farmer's Market, Sunflower

Sonoma Farmer’s Market

What a nice day.


Goodnight all.






This year’s pears


This year’s pears

We have two espaliered pear trees – one grows Anjou (the green, chubby and very self-confident variety on the plate above) and the other grows Bartletts (also known as Williams and they are a slender, blushing, more reserved type).

I have been waiting for them to ripen when my husband pointed out that the Bartletts were rotting on the tree! I picked several and he was right – they were like mush in my hands, so the chickens got an unexpected feast. I read up a bit and learned that they should be picked when still relatively hard, and allowed to ripen for seven to ten days inside. Hmmmm…

So, I picked what we had left and thought I’d share a few great recipes that I love to make with our (surviving) pears this time of year.

First of all, my dear friend and fellow farm-gal, Gail gave me the recipe for Pear Chutney. I make it every year and my husband just shovels it on to roast pork, or BBQ pork tenderloin. And, because I make pork for Thanksgiving (instead of turkey), it gets gobbled up by family and guests. It also makes a wonderful gift.

Pear Chutney

3 cups cider vinegar
2 lbs brown sugar (it’s good for you because of the molasses, right????)
6 lbs firm pears, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cups golden raisins
3 TB fresh ginger, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1tsp cayenne pepper
4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
4 tsp mustard

Bring vinegar and sugar to boil in a large kettle. Add remaining incredients. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, over very low heat. It will take at least 1 1/2 hours to cook down and the mixture should be thick. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Store in a cool place.

Deborah is a WONDERFUL home chef and incredible gardener who lives in town with her charming husband. They had us over for dinner a while ago and served this pie. It blew my socks off. I’ve made it since and topped it with ice cream. Deborah said she’s made the pie with and without a bag and there was no real difference. I did it without the bag and thought it was great. I’ll give the recipe with the bag, in case you’d like to give it a try. Let me know what you think either way!

Brown Bag Apple Pear Pie

3 apples, pared, cored and sliced
3 pears, pared, cored and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
4 TB flour
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
dash of ground cinnamon
1 unbaked 9″ pastry shell
one large paper bag

Combine flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon; cut in butter until mixture is smooth. 

 Heat oven to 400 degrees. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine apples, pears, sugar, flour, nutmeg and cinnamon. Turn into prepared pastry shell.

Prepare brown sugar topping and spread over fruit slices. 

Brown Sugar Topping

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar 
dash cinnamon
1/4 lb butter

 Slide unbaked pie into the paper bag and fold ends over and secure with paper clips. Bake 45 minutes; remove pie from bag and continue to bake 30 minutes longer or until apples are tender OR if you do not use the bag, cover the pie with foil (shiny side down) and bake for an extra 15 minutes. 

Let me know what you think if you try either recipe.

A few links for you to enjoy:

When we first planted our two-acre vineyard, I thought we’d probably get about 5 cases of wine. What did I know? The 2012 vintage is still in barrels, but we expect to get about 400 cases! Here’s a great article that helps explain, on average, how much wine you get per vine! We won’t ever be quite as prolific because we’ve spaced our plants a little farther apart than normal (eight feet from center to center of each plant, and six feet between each row), and they are head pruned, which can improve quality, but lowers yield.

I love people who make their clothes into a personal style statement. Especially men. Most guys would look like clowns in this outfit, but this guy pulls it off. How does that happen?

Are you watching Breaking Bad? Have you seen Jimmy Fallon’s parody? Here it is.

Several nights ago, my hubby was out of town and I heard some sort of otherworldly, horrible scream. The dog went wild, which of course freaked me out. I wound up calling 911, and three officers appeared. I described what I’d heard. They couldn’t find anything. I figured it out. Check out this link and listen to the brief video titled “scream of the red fox.”  Yup – that’s what I heard. I feel like an idiot.

I LOVE this plan to save unwanted dogs. Claim each pound puppy as a unique breed and build a campaign around the idea, “when you adopt a mutt, you adopt a unique breed.” Change the world.

Tell me what you’re baking these days.  I love hearing your stories.





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What do you look for in a guy?

On an early date with my husband.

On an early date with my husband.

OK, I’d passed the fearsome 40 mark and was still single. I had quasi-given-up-hope, and quasi-pulled-out-all-the-stops-to-meet-men. Part of me kept reminding myself that Katherine Hepburn lived a full, long and happy life as a single woman, and part of me was furiously dating away on Match.com and asking everyone I knew to set me up.

On March 13, 1999, four and on-half months after that big birthday, I hit the jackpot. I met the man of my dreams on a blind date that a friend (thank you Bob) set up. We married on July 7, 2001.

Wedding kiss

I do, I do, I do.

I love My Guy for so many reasons.

1. He takes care of me.

This ranges from bringing me to the ER if I have horrible multi-day migraines even though I cry that I’m too sick to move, to packing me lunches when I leave for the day to make sure I don’t skip a meal, to buying me Lindt chocolates every time he goes to the grocery store to bringing me coffee in bed and laying out my pills every morning. A few years ago, I commuted to Southern California for a job for nine months. He sent me flowers every week and he snuck in a box of candy and a card into my luggage one time. He takes care of me.

2. He loves to shop and will hold my purse.

Captain and MVP of his college rugby team two years in a row, he was also awarded a statue engraved with “Outstanding Trainee” out of 600 men during his six-months in basic training/advanced infantry training (AIT) for the National Guard during which time he was also platoon leader. He thrived playing competitive basketball into his mid-50’s. Many of his golfing buddies say he is “the most” competitive person they’ve every played with. He is a marksman with a gun, and loves to hunt. In other words, my guy is a tough guy.

But, he also loves to shop. For me, this is equivalent to having Rachel Zoe (stylist to the stars)as a best friend and hanging out with Sean Connery during his smoking hot 007 days all at once.

He carries my 15 pound purse. He isn’t threatened if I drive. He watches “The Bachelor” with me. He is a neatnik and loves interior design. Today, he helped me pick out table linens for a baby shower I am hosting.

3. He is a goofball. He is so self-confident, he doesn’t take himself too seriously and loves to tease and have fun.

My man loves to laugh.

My man loves to laugh.

Me and my guy, reliving the 70s.

Me and my guy, reliving the 70s.

4. When the going gets tough, he sticks.

He was very, very close to his Aunt Helen growing up. She was his “other mother,” and they had a wonderful relationship that seemed to be based on their mutual passion for laughing hysterically. The first time he introduced me to her, I couldn’t understand a word either of them said for the next 15 minutes, because they were each laughing so hard trying to tell stories.

A few years ago, we got the word that Helen was finally losing her battle with cancer. We flew back to Missouri to be with her. She was at home, laying in her bed.

I had never really faced a dying person before. I had lost loved ones – grandparents, uncles, my favorite cousin – but it all happened far away. I couldn’t imagine what we should say or how we should act.

I hung back as I followed my husband down the long hallway to Helen’s bedroom. He strode into her room and sat right next to her on the bed, took her hand and looked her in the eyes. He didn’t sugar coat anything by saying he knew she’d pull through, and he didn’t talk about happy memories. He looked right at her and told her how much he loved her, how all the things she’d done for him over the years helped make him the man he was, how he would treasure what they’d shared, and he told her that he’d take care of her husband.

I was awestruck by his courage and his ability to love in the face of loss. She died the next day. I could list so many stories where he leans in to tough times, and I love him for it.

5. He is good to my girlfriends.

He sincerely loves hanging out with my girlfriends and talking about life, work, parenting and love. He gives them warm bear hugs, and he plays with their kids. He gives his honest advice (when asked), and he listens well.

6. He is crazy about kids.

He loved raising his three kids, and he loves nothing more than playing with our nieces, nephews and six grandkids. He’s a kid himself and loves wrestling, squirting kids with hoses, pretending to be scared of the tunnels at Train Town, playing games and having fun. He’s also famously strict about manners, honesty, cleanliness and organization.


My guy Santa and our niece.

I didn’t grow up in a big family, didn’t babysit much, and don’t have kids of my own. But, My Guy has taught me how to be really pretty good with kids through his example. That means the world to me.


My Guy is a wonderful grandpa.

I didn’t think these were I would’ve listed as the most important when I was looking for someone, but they are the magic that makes me love My Guy more every day.

What traits do you treasure most in your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner? Any that surprise you? Tell me your stories!

A few fun items for you to enjoy:

I think this theory on why relationships work is hilarious (and true).

Why relationships work.

Why relationships work.

The best idea for wrapping paper I’ve seen in years.

These were not our wedding vows, but I thought they were beautiful:

I marry you with my eyes wide open. I promise to fully appreciate the gift of my present to support your growth and encourage your power. To take responsibility for my own behaviors and apologies. To participate in a home life that is peaceful. Inside and out. Knowing that there can be trust for what happens when you forgive. Forgiving self. Forgiving others. Growing every day. In you I have found relief. I intend to keep it. 

I just subscribed to this blog, and I loved this recent post with ten little-known chicken facts that states chickens are actually real dinosaurs.

Great recipe for one of my favorites – chiles rellenos.

Whoopi Goldberg is going to direct a movie about Moms Mabley, which given how little most of us know about Moms, and how influential she was, I’m excited to see it.

I used to LOVE watching Arsenio Hall, and I’m glad he’s back. Check out this article with video highlights of some of his most amazing interviews – he doesn’t back off and it can make for terrific interviews.