Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day

What a glorious day!

Some family is sharing this week with us and our spirits are aligned: arise early, a cup of freshly brewed coffee, work out, swim a bit, quiet conversation while relaxing in the hot tub, and a light breakfast to follow.

The telephone rings and calls are placed back and forth as we exchange our greetings and well wishes with children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters, aunts and cousins!

And yesterday we received wonderful news from our dear friends: their daughter-in-law had arrived safely from Iraq via Kuwait... Ireland... Maine... and was finally in Colorado where she would finally be met by her husband. Likely they will have to stay there for a little while as the snow comes tumbling down, and that sounds like a good thing with her having been gone for 15 months. Alleluia!

How truly blessed we are to live in this country and enjoy the freedoms we have.

We hope you all have made it a special day.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Joyous Christmas

Our message to you this joyous Christmas and holiday:

"Just as one season evolves into another
and growth continues, so do we.

May we always find the willingness and
goodness within ourselves and the strength
to demonstrate only acts of kindness,
understanding and love with those
around us.

May you know Peace and Joy with yourself
And your God, not just during this
Christmas season, but throughout the year."

With Love...

Our family wish you a most joyous Christmas and holiday, a happy and prosperous New Year, and may God keep us safe and bless us all.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Wine Country Fun, Part I

Travel to Sonoma and Napa valley for a visit and discovering new wineries this time of year is something we enjoy doing. It is generally a 2-3 day stop en route to North County San Diego. The Worldmark Windsor in Windsor, CA has been a great place for us to stay, and from there we have explored much of Napa and Sonoma, but the Dry Creek valley north of Windsor was where we decided to focus our attention this time.

Along Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg are more wineries than one can visit in a short period of time, so we chose a few. Generally they open around 10 a.m. so it was on our agenda to begin at that time with Dry Creek Vineyard, only to find it did not open until 10:30, so we opted to be on our way.

Well known Simi was our first taste test and it did not disappoint as we left with outstanding wines, an assortment, from a great tasting '05 Russian River Valley Chardonnay to Petite Syrah to a fine 2005 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Jim, at Simi, suggested we stop up the road at Papapietro Perry, known for their limited production of Pinot Noirs and Zinfandel, and it was a memorable stop. We talked with the gentleman pouring our wine and he proceeded to tell us how he had visited Oregon and had some of the Pinot Noirs, and when he returned to California, he "... just couldn't imagine why I would ever drink Oregon wines again". Hmm... not the most appropriate thing to say to the visitors who just said they really liked Oregon Pinot Noirs. Additionally, although we purchased a half case of their wines, he charged us $10 to taste! the only winery to do that during our visit. Not cool for return visits.

Sbragia Family Vineyards was further north. The owner, Ed Sbragia had been a longtime lead winemaker at Beringer in Napa, so we should find some good wines, and we did. A nice visit, and relying upon the quality of the other wines tasted, we took home a Zinfandel which was not available for tasting due to limited supply.

Ferrari-Carano, stunning winery and grounds, proved to be another winner, but by now my taste buds were not as discerning. My husband and I usually share the tasting from one glass, so there is not a large volume as they pour a small amount, but after several wineries, the tendency is for things to run together unless you have an opportunity to cleanse your pallet. Sorry to say that all of these had no offering of the usual crackers which tends to serve that purpose.

We were told that another must stop was Preston's, especially for the bread they bake daily. As we entered the grounds the sign indicated they had just closed... for a Christmas party. We went inside anyway, and since we would be quick, they allowed us to purchase a loaf and some fresh olives. Hungry we were, so we headed for downtown Healdsburg and the restaurant Zin.

Mexican beer battered green beans with Mango salsa... bet you can't eat just one of these appetizers... crisp fresh beans in a tempura-style batter. As a main course my husband ordered a Mexican Cobb salad. It sounded good with the roasted chicken, romaine, cabbage, tomatoes, scallions, cheese... but nowhere did it mention a pervasively dominant smoked flavor (as in a liquid smoke) which overpowered the taste of the salad. Whew! I nearly ordered the same, but thankfully enjoyed a tangy Mexican sausage served over mashed potatoes.

Back to home base. Oh, what the heck. There's Dry Creek Vineyard up ahead, so we better stop for we likely may not return. They offered crackers! We tasted more good wines, but I don't believe we appreciated them as much had they been first on the list, and we did not leave empty handed. Later we found that for seven years in a row they have been chosen as the official wines for the Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

We had enough time to relax and get ready for dinner at one of our favorite spots, Restaurant Mirepoix, which has been a must for us over the last four years. Located in a small home in quaint downtown Windsor, it is an intimate experience in French Bistro dining, wonderful food and they only seat about 24 people, so reservations are required. We generally take a bottle of our best newly discovered wine, pay a corkage, but decided to forgo this time for the taste buds said, not tonight. Dinner was very good, but the menu this time seemed to disappoint... a lack in variety? My husband settled for steak and I for a quiche... not exactly what we had in mind. Next year we'll give it a go, one more time.

Time for a good nights rest and we're at it again tomorrow. Part II to follow.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'

The early morning fog moved in and stayed with us for most of the day. Right outside the kitchen window the frost bitten copper colored flowering heads of Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light' continues to offer enjoyment in the winter garden.

We generally cut the grasses back around the end of February as we see the fresh new growth emerging. The very narrow green blade of grass has a tiny white band and appears to be silver when viewed from the distance. Its habit remains upright and arching at 4-5 feet in height throughout the year, and as fall approaches and the foliage begins to fade into bronze, the delicate reddish flowering plumes stretch upward and outward.

We love the ornamental grasses. . . practically maintenance free and they offer much interest and pleasure throughout the year.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Warmth In a Storm

Considering the storm we just had in the Pacific northwest and in lieu of the number of calls and emails we have received from everyone concerning how we "weathered the storm", I thought I would post this letter which I wrote to many of my family members this morning. From this you will see that all is well and that there was another purpose for writing.

Hello everyone,

It is finally light enough that I can see to write this letter to you. As the back side of me is being warmed by the small wood stove in the corner of our kitchen, I am reminded of being young again, back “home”, with the thought of that old “Warm Morning” stove in the “big room”, and except for the coal cook stove in the basement kitchen, that was the only source of heat we had for the four rooms on that level plus the 2 attic bedrooms.
(I am thankful that is a memory.)

The last several days the Oregon coast has been experiencing 90-100 mph winds while inland we have had gusts of around 50 mph. Needless to say our power went out last night around 7, and since it had done that earlier today (for a couple hours) and the day prior (again a couple hours), we just assumed it would be back on some time during the night as we slept.

So as it goes we awakened around 4:30 this morning to a rather cool house and knew the power was still off. My husband said, “I’m going to build a fire… or better yet let’s go down the hill and get a cup of coffee at McDonalds”. We dressed, dislodged the mechanism from the garage door so we could manually open it, got into the car and headed down the driveway only to be confronted with a large tree which had fallen, blocking egress, and power lines dangling in the air along the side of the road. Back up the driveway and chain saw in hand, my husband and I returned, he cutting the large logs as I threw the branches and smaller cuttings into a pile and all the while being cognizant of the wire's position. We then continued down the hill until such time as our electrical co-op might answer their phones.

Our morning was not as pleasant as we had anticipated, but clearly the times 'way back then ' were more difficult for everyone. But there were good times too, and because of our struggles we learned how to earn our way. Look at each of us now and what we have compared to what 'Bobu ' (means grandmother) had. None of us has to pick up coal along the railroad tracks or first heat the water we carried prior to bathing.

Our homes are warm, clean and comfortable, and all we do is flip a switch or turn a knob to make it all happen. We have the best and more than we need, and I don’t believe we know hunger anymore. Thank God. I am thankful for where we are and who we have all become.

That is quite a bit of reminiscing in order to get to another point of the letter: some time ago I told several of you I would make a copy of the family photo with our grandmother Tekle and grandfather Joseph. Aunt Stella, although you had not yet been born and Bobu is holding my mother, I believe it may be the only photo of your father with most of the children. (taken 1921)

I used my digital camera to take a picture of the portrait and scanned it into my computer for there was no other way. When I removed it from the frame, I found the photo to be curved and extremely brittle; in fact, it has developed a crack and any additional handling will only cause it to crumble. Evidently the glass has held the cardboard-like material intact and protected it all these years. My guess is that it will eventually disintegrate just as some of the faces are beginning to fade. When I talked with a photography studio about getting a better quality print, they said it had to be flattened for a better reproduction, so of course that was not an option. So with this we have now preserved this piece of our history and the photo as best we can, and it can be added to your genealogy books.

We will be doing a little traveling during the holidays and wish everyone a wonderful Christmas, Happy New Year, and we look forward to speaking with you soon.

Know that you are in our thoughts and prayers and that we love you.