Sunday, July 26, 2009


Living in California it is hard to imagine not having visited Yosemite; but this year another brother, John, and his wife Patti visited - and asked if we would like to go to Yosemite with them. We took a whirlwind trip up to the high country to show them the highlights of this vast park. It's an impossibility, though. Most visitors see the Yosemite Valley, but see none of the high country, the giant sequoia groves, Hetch Hetchy, the Tioga pass, the high alpine lakes, the charming historic Wawona Hotel. Ah, well, we did the best we could in two days.

The Merced River

Being a fan of all things historical, I took them to the Ahwahnee Hotel.

Patti, John and Anna at the first overlook...

And here's Patti enjoying a little light reading in the Ahwahnee lobby.

Finally,a little hiking... and I got to try out the new and improved hip joint.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Que Syrah

The annual Napa Home Winemakers Classic was held last Saturday, July 18 at St. Supery Winery.  Our home wine making group, Leap of Faith, dutifully entered our wine in the competition for the 15th year.  Now they only permit one entry per group/label.  Of course our new hardly even bottled yet 2007 Late Harvest Syrah Port won a first place. It is "hardly even bottled yet" in that we only bottled 8 bottles for this event.  The rest of this lovely wine is still in the barrel, waiting for our labels to be printed. We will get together before the harvest this year and spend a day bottling.

Last year we entered the 2003 Zinfandel Port (about 20% late harvest Cabernet) and won first place.  Even though we have made port only twice, we seem to have struck a nerve or a taste bud.

The day was beautiful - and not too hot...

The event benefits the Dry Creek - Lakoya volunteer fire department and is staffed by young and good looking firefighters. It is not a bad way to spend a lovely summer afternoon in Napa.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Napa fourth of July

This year we stayed home for fourth of July, along with everyone else in town.  We were invited to a wonderful barbecue - and the host was surprised that almost everyone accepted.  A last minute email went out to round up additional tables for the feast.  This was not just any barbecue, but a southern (specifically North Carolina) barbecue.  The menu included pulled pork, corn on the cob, sliced fresh tomatoes, black-eyed peas, cooked greens, potato salad, cucumber salad, okra and tomatoes, cole slaw, soft rolls, Napa wines, pecan pie, black bottom pie... Guests brought some starters - including pimento cheese, chopped liver, deviled eggs, and catfish pate.

Earlier in the day we had a home grown parade - with the Wells Fargo stagecoach as the big "shew". 

After our leisurely afternoon, we ambled down to the river to watch fireworks.  

It was a great day to think about Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton - subjects of three books I've read this past month.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

the wabe

There is a wabe in Napa County.  A wabe is defined as, "The grass plot around a sundial. It is called a "wabe" because it goes a long way before it, and a long way behind it, and a long way beyond it on each side." 

This is a rare wall mounted sundial - missing its gnomon.  The gnomon is the piece that casts the shadow on a sundial.  This building is one of the last unrestored "ghost wineries" of Napa County - a winery built before the Volstead Act - known as "Prohibition" -- 1920 - 1933.  This winery site was also the home of a real ghost resulting from an awful murder in the 19th century.  Our hope is that the ghost of Jules Millet has finally reached a peaceful rest.

Practicing in the area of historic architecture has many rewards (mostly uncompensated) because the stories are so rich and varied - stories told by the owners, the buildings, old photographs and historical documents.  If we successfully obtain a Use Permit and zoning text amendment for this site, it will thrive again as a winery.  In September we will know...