Posts Tagged With: wine


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My son Ken and his wife, Laurie stopped in with their two little dachshunds for  an hour to play in the snow. They went out and threw snowballs and watched the dogs discover  “cold white stuff.” We had a brew and a chat.  A nice interlude. Even nicer because Ken has not lived in this county since he graduated from Bret Harte High School in 1979. I really like the idea that my kids live close enough to casually stop by.  All but one Kristanne, who will stay in Las Vegas, at least until her son graduates high school.

I spent part of the day going through old picture albums and travel scrapbooks, with some Christmas carols playing, and  a cuppa warm cider for my trip down memory lane.

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On my machine, I have “scrapbooks” too. I found this one of  lighting the tree from 2011.

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And this one of Laurie and Kristanne sharing a glass of wine.  Kristanne and Virginia and their families will be missing this year, so we’ve planned a get together that everyone can attend in January.

Even when you are retired, weekends are special. It is easier to relax and enjoy the season. Boy, am I getting to rocking chair age? Or what?  Hey, I’m, lovin’ every minute of it.


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My partners in crime and I decided to attend the Music In The Park last Friday,  put on by volunteers from the Community Club, supported by the merchants and alternately by the Arts Council. Above is left to right, Sue, Janice, Becky and Jan. Everyone brings snacks and drinks and networks with friends.  Or, you can buy dinner from a local caterer and buy wine and soft drinks from the club’s “Hut”.

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While you don’t have to be a Community Club Member to enjoy the event, the club invited members to a repast of wonderful hors d’ oeuvres and a free glass of wine preceding the music. The food was so scrumptious  and good, I wasn’t sure I should buy dinner. Now that I’m on the road, I don’t volunteer anymore, I only pay my dues.

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Small towns in rural Calaveras County have no city services and the Community Clubs step in to provide garbage service, pay for street lights on Main St. and so on. The volunteers provide an excellent service and I love being a supporter. This woman is a smiling ambassador who makes sure every one is happy. I’m forgoing names because I see so many new faces.

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The women pouring wine and drinks from the Hut were so busy I had to grab them in a rare moment to get a picture,.

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I’ve worked with Peggy before. She’s been a member for a while, but I think I have them all beat. I’ve been a member since 1979 or 80.

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These volunteers sell the drink tickets so those pouring don’t have to fiddle with money and change.

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Other members are there to enjoy and have worked in the past like myself. Kind of retired, temporarily anyway.

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The music was provided by a group called Sequoia. A mix of lovely folk tunes and original instrumentals, great listening music.

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Sometimes the bands that play are very danceable. Not this group. But, Walt Marcus and his wife decided that one lively tune was very danceable and they gave us all a show as they did a lively jig much to the delight of the crowd.

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It doesn’t get much more fun than that.

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It might look like we are a bunch of drunks, but, not true. Jan is a teetotaler and the rest of us didn’t even finish one bottle of wine. We tried, though. To see all 17 of the photos I took, click the link below.

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The Angels-Murphys Rotary Club holds an all you can eat Shrimp Feed each year as a fund-raiser. I’ve missed the last four years since I’m usually back on the road by now. It was fun to go to the park, listen to the music, visit with friends, eat lots of shrimp and feel like I’m supporting a good cause at the same time.

My son breezed through this morning and asked me a question. “I see Rotary uses that little gear on their literature, so, what does it stand for, Rotary? I basically knew they were a fraternal, charitable organization. But his question stumped me.  I hadn’t given it much thought. I went to Wikipedia and learned that they stand for Service Above Self.  The cogged wheel symbolizes a rotating wheel  because the original founders rotated their meetings at each others houses. Rotary was so popular,  it grew  rapidly and steady meeting places are used by all Rotarians, now.  If you’d like to check out the link and read more:

The park is friendly and summer casual. Not many places can you dance bare foot.

Everyone was having a grand time including the band members:


I have a special spot in my heart for Rotary because they sent my youngest daughter to Egypt on a Scholarship after she graduated High School. Her experience there was life changing, meaningful and rewarding. I am ever thankful to this group,  as is she.

Another highlight for me, is visiting with friends like Ginger La Jeunesse.

Shelly and Gene Cervantes.  You never see this couple without big  smiles.

Cindy, whose daughter I had only met once, yet I’ve known Cindy for twenty years. (I’ve misplaced Cindy’s last name, somehow.)

And Matt, who owns a coffee roasting business, informed me he had given up drinking coffee. He said he doesn’t need a pick-me-up in the morning and he just got bored with drinking it. And, I’ve just started drinking coffee after 38 years without it. I’ve only had four cups of coffee, these past four mornings. I decided to do it after reading in my Medical newsletter how good coffee is for you. In moderation, no more than six cups a day.

And, I chatted for a while with Liz and Steve Milliaire, the winemakers I credit with getting the wine movement really moving in this area. Liz doesn’t make wine but she was chief promoter when they moved here to make wine for Bardon Stevenot in 1979. They produce wonderful wines under their own label as well.  Ahh! Time well spent is its own reward.



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Standford University just completed a study about the way men and women relate to friends. I was pleased to find out that I fit healthfully into the study, because I treasure my girl friends and always take time out  to play catch-up with my friends when I’m home.  Lizz and Sharon popped over for an afternoon with a couple bottles of wine. A former neighbor, Lizz lives in Sacramento now and I hadn’t seen her in five years.

Of course we celebrated, and nibbled but what we do mostly  is gab, gab, gab.  Guys don’t do it like we do.

Then I found out they had pulled into my driveway and failed to notice my new bottle fence. So, out we went to see it.

We decided, maybe we needed more than snacks, and hopped over to Pizza Plus and enjoyed their chicken pesto pizza.

Back to my place for more gabbing. I’m really into health, doncha know. Sharon is a beader and I blogged a magnificent piece she did last year and this morning, coincidentally, I heard from Sig, the woman who had designed the piece she made, which is exquisite.  You can see it at the following link:   Sig said it took her 80 hours to design it. Amazing!

So, we returned to the bottle fence, and Lizz  pointed out I have a lot of liquor bottles on the fence. Wine bottles, too.  So, now we have a couple more bottles to add to the fence. Hey, it works for me.  Maybe Sharon should bead wine bottle covers.

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Tasters usually snug up to the tasting room bar for the fine wines at Chatom, and maybe enjoy a bit of chocolate or an olive spread and cracker. I love the sunny tasting room at Chatom, and the wines, the frog balls and other eccentric gifts but once a year during the Christmas Season, Chatom hosts a party in the barrel room for members.

It is one of the best parties of the season and Margo, Karen, Jan and I enjoyed the wonderful food and camaraderie even though I’m no longer a member. Gay Callen started the winery in 1982 or 3, I believe it was. My youngest son planted vines for Stevenot’s Vineyards under her direction in 1979 .  She later developed her own vineyard. He developed a high school  crush on Gay and loves to tease and remind her about those days. (Doug wasn’t the only high school boy with a crush on Gay during that planting season.)

These two women, and a guy, who was taking a break when I took the picture, have played this party every year for the last twelve. Beautiful voices that rival some famous folk singers I’m fond of. Unique about them is Chatom’s Christmas Party is the only gig they play. They enjoy it as much as we enjoy them.

Singer and hunter seems a strange combination.  Though I’ve never gotten her name, she confided she had recently made her first kill. My look must have expressed alarm. “Its more humane than the way our meat is raised and killed,” she defended. “A head shot kills instantly, there is no suffering.”  She hails from a hunting family. I do too. My father was a great hunter, and we farmed and butchered our own hogs and chickens. I was taught to handle a gun at age six and encouraged to hunt partridge. I never did like killing any critter. Even when I was a competition skin diver, I disliked killing the fish and never hunted outside of a meet. I’m not being judgmental of her choice to hunt, just surprised. Her statement is absolutely correct about the way our meat is “factory farmed” and killed. In a word, inhumane.

As we wandered about the room, visiting with anyone in sight, courteously, we introduce ourselves to each other, but the names all float away in my head. This woman approached me because we have the same Christmas bell earrings and a necklace. Just fun, cheap costume jewelry from years past. She told me something very funny I intended to blog. It too, floated out of my head. I  enjoy chatting with friends and strangers. After all, a stranger is just a friend you don’t know well yet.

Santa was present again this year from Copperopolis. He has no role in the party but does play Santa for non-profits, free of charge. A service he loves to provide.

Jan wanted her picture taken with Santa to prove to her grandchildren Santa is real. It is nice to have a Santa with real hair and beard. And it was very nice to join the throng at Chatom’s barrel room and taste and nibble for an hour or so. There was a time when I would get dismayed at how early the Christmas season started. Not now!  I enjoy the extended party season and all the wonderful colors, music and special treats. Of course, I don’t have young Children and a dream to perpetuate at Christmas. I just have fun.



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Oh, blimey, I’ve been home for five days and in my blog I’m still on the road. My brain has this need for chronological order, which Jim would refute. But, travelers, even if you don’t stop and sip, you can’t help but love wine country. The vines change character depending on the time of year. In places they undulate across the hilltops in beautiful patterns. We traveled twisty, quirky highway 128 until it ran out. Switched to 29, then 12.  The back roads whenever possible.

At a pull-out we stopped and grabbed a couple of pictures of plump grapes waiting for their transformation to wine.There are now hundreds of wineries to choose from.  Move in for a year or two and try them all.

At the main intersection in Calistoga, Busters Smoked Ribs and Chicken is some of the best barbecue you’ll taste West of  Kansas. No fat on these ribs, no steam cooking, simple wood smoke does the entire job. At this point, we could have driven the Silverado Trail, which parallels 29, a gorgeous scenic drive. It bypasses the small towns, Napa, Yountville, St. Helena, and others. We chose to wend our way through the  colorful towns,  both have something to offer.

A friend once complained the drive on highway 12 through the Delta is boring. Not to me. Rough and too many potholes is a fact. Jim has to cover his head when I open the cupboards for fear a can will drop on his head after a road like this. A wind farm popped into view,  new since I’d driven it.

Small sloughs,  fishing and boating defines much of life here and gives you a feel for the place even without stopping.

The  island ferrys are gone.  The time will come when  drawbridges will be obsolete. Even now,  the amount of traffic on the road that stops for a single small boat whizzing under seems ludicrous. River traffic isn’t what it used to be. Paying a bridge tender is costly. The only constant is change, so enjoy them now, they are an endangered species.

We arrived in Stockton on October 9th, missed the Derby, and missed a train museum on Highway 12. I promise myself every time I drive that road to stop at the train museum.  There are no warning signs. Suddenly, the driveway appears and you are past it before you can say:  the space between the words Pig and And, and And and Whistle is uneven.”  You won’t find a place to turn around on Highway 12  until you are several miles past.   “Such is life,” says Jim.

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