Thursday, July 19, 2007

Wining and Dining through Sonoma and Napa

Let's see the Sonoma Weekend was constituted of two main things -- race walking for a few hours and wine for the rest of the weekend. Which seemed to suit the three of us just fine. :-)

The race was Sunday so we "trained" Saturday by breakfasting on tasty pastries at the Chalet, then we headed to town to check in at the race headquarters and meander through a bit of Sonoma. We visited the mission --
which was so authentically preserved that the rafters were tied with animal hide --

After a bit of Sonoma culture we wandered through hilly, winding roads to Clos Pegase winery in Calistoga. It's beautiful even if you (like me) aren't the fan of modern art:
Primarily we went there because they used to have a Chihuly hanging in their cask room, but no longer. This was what it *looked* like:
It turns out that it was a temporary installation for a Napa Wine Auction in 2000. Rats. No Chihuly for me. Despite the absence of world-class art glass, it was a beautiful place. The tasting was interesting, but not particularly educational. It struck me as a little too much Coyote Ugly and a little too few personnel of taste and decorum. Too bad; it's a very stately place.

From Clos Pegase we headed for Mumm and their patio of sparkling wines. Talk about tasty! While it was loud and very sunny, we enjoyed their outside patio, the view, and our 3 glasses each of "champagne." img_4092
Mind you, it was let's-see-what-Ruth-can-try weekend so I had closer to 4.5 full glasses. Let's just say it was a very pleasant afternoon, shall we? Pleasant enough to be grinning gloriously in the commemorative photo at their sign --

From Mumm we headed off to Sonoma's central park around City Hall for the Red and White Ball, a festival of wine and food tasting. If you were there, we were some of the few not wearing red and white --

Saturday evening, one of the very hefty squirrels at Sonoma Chalets was busily remodeling his nest in the eucalyptus outside our cottage. img_4044 I can't prove he was the squirrel who tried beaning me with a wild plum earlier in the day, but he was certainly related, and he gave the distinct impression that h might like to toss some fruit at someone. The property had these beautiful wild plums trees all over it -- they were quite tasty, but they looked like cherries -- long stems and all. See:
img_4046 img_4043

Sunday dawned...... much later than when we got up!!!!!! We dropped my BIL off for his early bus at the high school parking lot. Like high schoolers everywhere, boredom creates prankishness. Meet the school mascot at 6am:
And here he is that afternoon:
I for one, must applaud any school with a dragon for an emblem! :)

While my race walking heroes were off doing their thing, I wandered around the main square in Sonoma, checking out City Hall (where does everyone park who works there??? There's maybe 10 spots in its lot.)
But in City Hall's tiny pond I got to meet an adolescent heron (species pending until I go get the Sibley's)
And I also bonded with my usual-- lots and lots of flowers --

Sunday afternoon's adventures in wine will have to wait until tomorrow. I'm too tired now to manage coherency.


The Joys of Sonoma part 2

So let's see, where did we leave off? Ahh, the B&B -- it was The Sonoma Chalet. Joe, the owner, has a series of cottages all decorated in period style that are lovely and homey. Don't come if you "need" to watch TV or if Junior can't live without video games. If you want to be entertained, I'd suggest Laura's Cottage -- you can spend some quality time telling stories about "The Lamp."
img_4178 img_4025
My stories revolved around a gay Vulcan minstrel. ;-)

The view from our chalet's porch included much wildlife --
Deer who liked the plants around the Chalets:
A frog who liked our front step:
Turkey vultures and the occasional Golden Eagle and hawk who, in groups as large as 12, surfed the air currents off the hill behind our chalet:
A crazy woodpecker who guarded his telephone pole very zealously:
And my very favorite -- California Quails who came out in a covey of 15 our last morning looking for breakfast:

Part three, Adventures in Viticulture, tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Napa joys part 1

Ah, wine can be a wonderful thing. I've never been a huge fan. What can I say, I'm a sweet-wine girl in a dry-wine world. But I'm just back from a weekend in Napa and I'm a happy girl.

My purpose in Napa was to cheer my sister and brother-in-law on in their half-marathon and 10k race walk (respectively) efforts. I sucked as a cheerleader, but they did so well, they didn't really need me. Check out the happy couple post race: img_4176 img_4214

And here's my sister holding court on the hill of Sonoma's Train Depot Park waiting for Tom to come in from his extra mileage:

Allow me to introduce Paula, family friend and fellow victorious race walker:

Sonoma was wonderful, beautiful, lovely. We stayed in a quiet B&B at the base of a wooded hill which was home to quail, deer, wild turkeys, turkey buzzards, and possibly some golden eagles. Get this, I survived a whole weekend in a cottage with no TV! No TV!!! Honest to pete -- no CSI, no NCIS, no Bones, no FoodTV, no Girls Next Door. It was amazing although disconcerting at first. lol But more on that and the pics tomorrow :)

Recently finished: Charlaine Harris' Definitely Dead -- it's been a long time since I've read someone new and simply couldn't wait to find out what would happen next. Bravo Charlaine! It was so fun I went right out and booked myself a membership to CopperCon in September where she's writer guest of honor! I can hardly wait.
Currently reading with enthusiasm: Simon Green's The Man with the Golden Torc. It's about time it was out. :-)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Here I am

Jeez nearly an month. And what a month it's been. I know, I know. I owe updates, but I don't have all that much to show because what I've been working on is.... ... shhhhh.. a secret. So, you don't get to see much yet. Sorry. You'll live, trust me.

What I can share is my pathetic progress on:
Midsummer Nights Designs' "Quaker Meeting House"
Midsummer Nights Designs -- My Quaker House as of 7/11/2007 and I simply must say that working with the Silk n Colors blue is WONDERFUL !!!!

Then we have a little progress on Mirabilia's "Halloween Fairy"
Mirabilia Halloween Fairy as of 7/11/2007

And a bit of progress on a Dutch motif I'm going to make into a Christmas ornie. I'm doing it in Carrie's Creation "Highland Hills" and DMC blanc -- that Highland Hills is so perfect for Christmas!!! The picture just doesn't even coe close to showing the vibrancy and inner glow of the color.
Durch motif Christmas ornie as of 7/2007

On other fronts, The Yellow Tree is in its shedding-fuzzy-pod stage (its most unattractive period). But the patio is gracing us with The Lavender Tree. I don't know what it's called either, but it sure is pretty. It got passed over in the smell category though -- no scent at all. The Lavender Tree The Lavender Tree

If you really want to know what I've been up to for a month, allow me to introduce my desk. I leave tomorrow afternoon for Napa. When I leave this needs to have a certain amount of respectability...... yeah, I'm accepting all prayers! lol counter 7/11/2007 counter 7/11/2007 counter 7/1//2007 It's slightly better than these pics since I sent 13 hours at the office yesterday and made a tiny dent in the desktop-- it would have been a bigger dent if I hadn't been tagged to hunt down a zoo where we could sponsor a capybara (that's the world's largest rodent, and an amphibious one at that, in case you were wondering). To balance the 13 hours, the pictures don't show you the floor. Honest to pete, I'm doomed.