Sunday, September 30, 2012

Shameless Plug #4: Michael Reardon

Sonoma Fountain by Michael Reardon

He's off again, leaving Princess and me to take out the garbage and do lovey-dovey on the sofa all by our little furry selves.

Uh huh, Sonoma Plein Air, the week-long festival of plein air painting designed to raise funds for art education in the Sonoma public schools starts tomorrow. And, for the first time in years, there is no rain in the forecast!

The artists (all 40 or so of them) spend the entire week painting outdoors in Sonoma County and then showcase their work at two big public events: a gala dinner and art auction on Friday evening (it's already sold out, so wish them well) and an art show and sale on the Sonoma Plaza on Saturday from 10 - 4pm.

Sounds like fun, huh?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Your Civic Duties

Yeah, yeah, they say it's your civic duty to vote, and they're right.  Donating blood (and I don't mean playing rugby) is also your civic duty, but lots of people don't do that either.

Personally, I think that donating blood is more fun than voting, even with that big ol' needle:  first, all you have to do is show up and they are soooo very grateful (kinda like your parents at dinnertime.  Although it's always good to wash your hands);  second, they serve cookies and juice;  third, you really feel that you are truly helping out.

But you still gotta vote. Even without the cookies and juice.  And this year, in case you weren't paying attention, you have one big-ass election to work with. On November 6th, to be precise.  So if you're not registered to vote (or can't remember, or just moved, or whatever), start here.

Even if you will be away from home in November, you may still vote, only you have to do it by mail (yup, you'll also need one of those things called "stamps"). But first you have to be registered.

Then you can request an absentee ballot. For an absentee ballot, click here and let them lead you through the process. It's really easy, but do it soon. Because in many states, even by early October, it may just be too late.

As for donating blood?  Keep in mind that you can do that pretty much any time of the year. And rugby - who knows exactly when that season is?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Amaryllis Summer and Winter

Winter Amaryllis

We all know and love those happy holiday blooms of the amaryllis (hippeastrum cultivars) which brighten up winter's short, dark dampyness. Often they even come packaged with their own pot of dirt. They grow, they bloom, look lovely, fade, and then get thrown away. And the following year you buy new ones to shine during those dark days.

That's cool. But what do you get if you keep them throughout the year and allow them to re-bloom?

Summer Amaryllis
Well, what you get is is a monster-blooming, hunk'o flowering thing that won't let up.  Last winter, (after five or so years here), my amaryllis had four stalks of flowers in January. And then in March, it popped out another two stalks ready to bloom. Pretty nice.

After its winter blooming cycle, amaryllis need to go outside for a summer holiday.  And what happens then?  You get another one or two blooming stalks appearing in August. Bad timing, because that is pretty much when they should be stashed in the garage for a long, quiet nap.  Nonetheless, sure lovely to see in the summer.

I would like to say that this show-off performance is utterly miraculous, except that I have two plants that act in this same silly way. And I would love to take credit, but really, it's all their own personal glory.

For (very) complete details on keeping amaryllis bulbs going for years and years, click here.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Well, That Was Fun...

and delicious! Last Saturday, my friend Liz and I went out to Annie's Annuals & Perennials to taste tomatoes from Brad Gate's Wild Boar Farms. The tasting at Annie's seems to be a yearly event.

The weather was windy, cold and nasty (welcome to August), but the tomatoes sparkled. We all tasted a wide range of tomato varieties, many of which were discovered and bred right on the farm. And we all had opinions.

For Liz and me, the yellow "Porkchop" tomato was the hands-up scarfing-down most favorite.  We also really liked the "Green Zebra Cherry". (I bought some of those and fed them to my husband that night. He approved.) And "Evan's Purple Pear" tomato was soooo sweet (Evan was at the tasting, too) that it almost didn't seem like a real tomato.

Wild Boar Farm sells tomato plants and seeds, so I'm preparing to buy some Green Zebra seeds for next year. I would love to pretend that I can grow the large, heat-seeking Porkchop tomato here but I take my disappointments too seriously. And in fact, for cherry tomatoes, the Green Zebras are really big...

If you are not into tomatoes, you still get to wander through the most amazing array of flowering plants anywhere. With lust in your heart. And wish that you had an estate. With staff, of course.

I bought only one plant. Liz gathered up four. Or was it five? In all fairness though, that lupine was irresistible.