Monday, April 25, 2011

Where Men Win Glory

My latest book selection for the Bolgia Book Club was Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer. 

Our book club is a little different than most.  It has been around for eight years.  It is equal parts men and women.  The books are selected by the host.  Our order of rotation and basic rules are contained in a pickle.  The pickle is passed when the next book is revealed at the end of the meeting.  There is always food and wine (we live in Napa, after all.)

I heard about a new local book club called the "Commando Book Club" - which does not allow food or beverages.  Our group would not long survive with such austerity.

The last book we read was The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason.   I thought the Pat Tillman story might be a fitting follow up to a rather fey attempt to re-write the story of Odysseus.  There was almost universal acclaim for this book, and it is a hard crowd to please.  Don't they look hard to please, critical and picky?  In this photo they are sipping a small glass of homemade limoncello.  Do I need to provide the recipe?  The big jar on the table is the new batch - about 35 days into the first stage prior to addition of the simple syrup.  The rose is our latest Leap of Faith bottling - 2010 Merlot Rose.

We had a wonderful conversation about war, kleos, what is a justified war, heroism, epic poetry, and of course the life of a remarkable man told by one of our great story tellers.

We also had spring lamb stew:

...and a luscious savory mushroom (and chanterelle) bread pudding.

We ended with two kinds of homemade cookies and lemon milk sherbet made two ways, one with Meyer lemons, and one with Felicia's sour lemons.  After the side by side tasting, sour lemons are better for lemon sherbet.  Meyer lemons are too sweet and lack the tang of the Eureka lemons.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Paeonia redux

The garden feels the fine effects of a bountiful winter of rain.  Almost two years ago we went to Oregon in late May to visit iris and peony farms. The post Paeonia shows some of the photos from that trip.  Now our own tree peony "Hephaestus " has set buds and bloomed for the first time in our yard.  This huge bud is just opening.

The colors of the irises, roses and peonies rival the jewel windows in the Rhine House at Beringer vineyards.  I just toured the site again on Friday in preparation for a conference later this summer.

I thought this looked more floral than the picture I snapped of the jumping trout.

At sunset an orange iris lit the west side of the yard.  This was my reward for Easter afternoon weed pulling.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

garden walk

After a long wet winter, flowers and fruits are everywhere in the garden.  I took a long delayed look at the garden today and snapped a few pictures in advance of the next rain storm.

We have a special love for peonies - tree peonies, Itoh hybrids, and herbaceous peonies.  This is one of the tree peonies, just opened this week, and full of buds for weeks to come:

One of the other tree poenies, a blushing deep rose that hides its center:

The fruit trees - apples, cherries, fig, quince, avocado and citrus - are all blooming.  The pears and plums have already set fruit.

Tiny pears:

Morello cherries:



and first ever blooms on the avocado tree:

We do not know if the avocado will set fruit, but are eager to see what happens this year.  Sadly, the "Elephant Heart" plum flowered very early and did not get pollinated.  We see no fruit at all on the very vigorous tree planted two years ago. 

We have neglected the garden this winter, just as I have neglected this blog.  Music, politics, work, and a host of activities have kept us both distracted.  Spring renewal is happening anyway.

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