Sunday, December 25, 2011

Doo Wop White Christmas

Frankly, I think people who yearn for a white Christmas are nuts, and I've always thought the sentiments expressed in Mr. Berlin's famous song are drivel, but this arrangement is one I can truly wrap my head around. I think Birdie (a fellow blogger who has some very emphatic ideas about everything connected with the concept of a white Christmas) might even like this.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Care Package

Here's our annual holiday gift from Us to Us, from the good Camaldolese monks of New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur.

The main attraction is a 3-pound fruitcake, so drenched in brandy it makes your eyes water every time you open the package. It's coated with honey, and sticks to everything - the foil it came in, your plate, your fork, your fingers, the roof of your mouth... it's heaven!! So rich, a half-inch slice is entirely sufficient for one serving! Now, I know there's no middle of the road regarding fruitcake - you either love it or (like most people) hate it. I happen to totally love the stuff, and don't care how many other folks don't... the more people who hate it means the more there is for me!!

Truffles should be one of the five major food groups as far as I'm concerned. Here, we have a box of six truffles that weighs almost half a pound! Dark chocolate on the outside, and dark chocolate, or milk chocolate, or maple, or cherry, or raspberry or amaretto on the inside! There are no words in my vocabulary, or, for all I know, in the English language, to adequately describe these lumps of chocolate gold!

Fudge... Imagine the creamiest, richest, most buttery, most chocolaty, most decadent fudge you can think of... that's what this stuff is. Sigh...

And the Holy Granola... so crunchy, chewy and spicy... sprinkle some over your Greek yogurt, add a couple of spritzes of honey, and listen to that yogurt sing the Hallellujah Chorus!!

Friday, December 9, 2011


Here's the newest addition to our family... Willie. Named after the rough and tumble Willie Nelson, our Willie was a scruffy street boy before our neighbor, Sandy, managed to connect with him. He spent about a year on her enormous back patio, always happy to accept her food offerings, but always wary and hiding when any of us tried to approach him. Finally, the cold weather got to him, and we were able to get him into a carrier and took him to the vet for a physical and a fixin'. After a week or so of adjusting the routine at our house, we were able to bring him here to his "forever" home. After a few more weeks, he's socializing quite well, with only a few hisses and scuffles from some of the more cantankerous, older members of the family. For our part, we adore him... he quickly learned his name, and has turned out to be the world's biggest snuggle bug, and will give you as much lap time as you want, whenever you want. Though he enjoys sitting on window sills and looking outside, he runs away whenever a door opens, so I'm pretty sure he's quite happy being an indoor boy! We're happy too!

With Alessandro...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Open Studios 2011

Ack! I almost forgot to post about this! The Vallejo Artists Open Studios Tour took place over the weekend of November 12-13. (See my post of November 8th for a look at the incredible array of work from the many talented artists in Vallejo.) This is the second year I've participated in this phase of the event. In previous years, the tours were produced by the now defunct Vallejo Artists' Guild. When the Guild died a few years back, Open Studios died with it. Now, thanks to a few ambitious and dedicated souls, who simply don't have enough on their plates (NOT), Open Studios Vallejo lives again. YAY!!

This year I was asked by my friend, Renaissance woman, Nell Blackwell, to share her studio for the weekend. I leapt at the opportunity, because Nell's studio is located downtown in one of the hot spots of the arts community. Besides, Nell is cool beyond words, and hanging out with her for the weekend seemed like a totally fun idea. And it was! We had lots of visitors, lots of food and wine, and the weather was absolutely perfect... full sun... no wind... it felt like early summer.

Here's Nell's side of the studio:

And my side:

Plenty of food to keep us and our guests going...

A couple of our guests:
Luna Gilligan and Tuolumne...

John Ebersole, one of my favorite artists on the planet...

And the stars of this studio: Nell (r) and Me...

Alas, sales were anything but brisk, but it was a wonderful weekend anyway, and we'll be doing it together again next year.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Beauty To Soothe the Soul...

I love orchids! Surprise!! How could I not?? I grew up surrounded by them... football field-sized greenhouses full of them, a library of books, and an army of gardeners who lived and breathed every aspect of orchid culture. While I've never been interested in competing with my grandfather in growing the exotic varieties, I can truly exercise my love of them thanks to the incredible supermarket where I shop! Apparently, they've hooked up with a local Phalaenopsis breeder, and are constantly featuring new and exciting hybrids... few of which I can resist! While I'm a member of the American Orchid Society, and read their monthly publication from cover to cover, I'm more interested in the eye candy factor than the nuts and bolts end of things. I just adore their beauty, and orchids supply beauty in spades!!

Here's my newest "baby"... when I bought it, it was only a stalk, with one open bloom, and about a dozen tightly closed buds. I've been patient and loving... talking to it every day, and playing only the mellowest of Jazz while I work in my studio, where it resides on my desk. It's rewarded me beyond my wildest expectations by opening a new bud every few days or so, and now, it's so heavy with beautiful blooms I've had to add extra clips to hold it to its stake! It still has a couple of buds that haven't opened, but I can't wait any longer to share its beauty!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

We Be Feeling Purely Punk...

I went to the doctor on Tuesday for my annual physical. Blood work mostly okay... glucose okay, electrolytes fine, liver enzymes amazingly okay in spite of the quantities of Jack Daniel's I've imbibed this past year, cholesterol still up a little, but getting better, blood pressure normal - now to try to make that happen without drug assists. Inoculations... way out of date and, well, that's the crux of the issue...

For years I've fought inoculations because I recall being made deathly ill back in my (very) younger years by some kind of "flu shot". Besides, my asthma notwithstanding (and my asthma doctor is constantly howling at me to get a flu and pneumonia shot), I haven't had a sick day in quite a few years... not from the flu, and certainly nothing resembling pneumonia. My PC (primary care) doctor assured me that nasty reaction was from years ago, and that current inoculations are all made of synthetic stuff and don't contain any "bad critters" any more, and, thus I shouldn't be concerned about any weirdness. Gullible me... I caved, and allowed myself to be subjected to her suggested barrage of "preventative aids"...

As a result, I've spent the past two days in the throes of flu symptoms that would lay any normal person low. I, being far from normal, have been set on my ear, and feel like I've been shot at and missed, and shit at and hit. Perhaps it was all due to the fact that, in addition to the flu shot, I also received a pneumonia shot, a tetanus/whooping cough shot, and a shingles vaccine. It all happened so fast... the cute, chipper little nurse breezed into the exam room and poked me with flu and pneumonia in the right arm, and shingles and tetanus/whooping cough in the left before I knew what hit me. Had I not been reeling from a rather painful breast exam, and gritting my teeth behind that horribly invasive, but necessary, exam and pap smear only a woman would understand, I might have decided to protest such a bombardment of needles coming my way.

A good friend told me my experience sounded like what was done to him the day he joined the Army. That's a comment I've heard many times in the past from a lot of guys, so, in addition to my endless thanks and appreciation for anyone who served in any way in The Military... I feel for you guys!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Vallejo Artists Open Studios - 2011

This weekend, November 12-13, from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm both days, many of the awesome and talented artists in Vallejo will be opening their studios, or, as in my case, hitching up with other artists in their studios, to dazzle the public with their incredible art! This event will be amazing, interesting, colorful, mind-boggling, stunning, exciting, and many other things, to everyone who attends. Perhaps the most important thing it will be is Eye-Opening. Sadly, there are many folks in the Bay Area, and, indeed, in Vallejo itself, who are totally unaware of the wealth of talent that exists in their midst. Over 50 artists will be displaying their work in this weekend-long parade of flair and genius!

Where to begin??? It's best to first visit the McCree-Goudeau Gallery, 930 Marin Street at Florida, and pick up one of the colorful calendars, which contains a list of artists, their media, a picture of their work, and a map, to enable you to proceed on your self-guided tour.

Last Saturday, there was a preview reception at the Gallery, and here are pictures of some of the art which was on display... listed alphabetically by artist.

Nell Blackwell
Acrylics, Calligraphy, Photography

Xavier Bon
Acrylic on Canvas

Wendyn Cadden

Geraldine Ensminger
Stained Glass, Clay Whimsies & Ceramic Botanicals

Mary Jane Etchegaray-Szalan
Mixed Media

Sarah Anne Evans
Watercolor, Landscapes, Mixed Media, Acrylics, Pen & Ink

Karen Feagins
Ceramic Masks, Mugs, Bowls, Vases, Mushrooms, & Shoes

Matthew Gerring
Mixed Media

Francie Gross

Laura Hering
Mixed Media, Gilding

Belinda Lang
Jewelry, Ceramics, Painting

Bernard Lipari
Mixed Media

Michael Marino
Ceramics & Wood

Mark Martin
Mixed Media

Adam Musto
Ceramics & Metalwork

Matt Neubauer

Susan Noll
Oil, Acrylic, Pen & Ink

Orna Pascal
Painting, Textiles, Basketry, Collage

Rick Pasterchik
Eucalyptus Bark Sculpture

LaVonne Sallee
Recycled Altered Barbie Art

Kemper C. Stone
Gourd Drums, Carved & Pyro-engraved Gourds

Carl Theodorski
Mixed Media

Gretchen Zimmerman
Soft Sculpture & Mixed Media

And, if you can believe it, Many More!!!