Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year is upon us

I am sitting here at home listening to my police scanner and "amateur night" is turning out to be just that. Already their is an intoxicated patron at Twin Pines casino who fallen off the bar stool and has hit his head requiring medical attention. A car has driven off Silverado trail into a ditch with four people involved. The transport helicopter cannot land due to poor visibility, so an ambulance has been dispatched from Napa.
So, tomorrow I am going to Dillon Beach for a pot luck lunch at my friend Dave 's place. I will be taking a friend named Melissa who I have enrolled in my rock hunting and painting pursuit.
I plan to show her Russian Gulch where I go to collect most of the rocks I use to create Spirit Rocks . I am looking forward to a great day.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Holy Night

After stopping off at my nephew Edward’s house in Napa to deliver gifts for his extended family, I went to Mass at Mt. La Salle. It used to be a midnight mass, but the retired Christian Brothers who live there, like to get to bed early. The chapel was filled with many people who I hadn’t seen in years. Brother Richard did the second reading which he described later as a run on sentence... offering no periods, commas or ellipses. Richard was my sponsor when I was studying to become a Christian Brother after my first year in college. He told me that I reminded him of Jesus Christ, which left quite an impression on me. Needless to say, I had to go out and prove him I was quite the opposite, yet still very much in need of redemption. He gave me a copy of a poem called,” The hound of heaven” which talks about the unrelenting pursuit of God’s love for us.That was years ago. I gave him one of my Spirit Rocks and he was very thankful. The Liturgy of the mass was splendid. The choir was accompanied by a violinist and organist. The sound was awe inspiring. Later after the reception, I drove back to Napa and went to a meeting. One of several that was being held over Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Inspired by the glow

Today I am following a new direction in my artwork. The emphasis will be on glowing. I like things that glow, reflect, refract or otherwise direct light in a visually pleasing manner.Mostly, things that either glow, sparkle, twinkle, shine from the outside or inside either right before dawn or just after dusk. This is why early Spring and early Fall are my favorite times of the year.As much as I enjoy the coziness of Winter, I must say that it is very much like the dog days of summer, where boredom and ennui creeps in and longs for change... any change. The Spirit Rocks were just a start. I am interested in creating something perhaps in 3-D, that will provide a sense of wonderment for a small child. Christmas tree lights and the fascination with glowing things are prevalent this time of the year. My apartment has several electronic gadgets that support my computers that have small colored lights of red, green and blue. Sometimes I think that it is because of these lights that I have all the computers. They just look so cool !

Thursday, December 09, 2010

This one’s for you

December 14th is my friend Eric Swenson’s Birthday. I know, because he is one year ahead of me in the "number of years on the planet” category. I hope that he is having a great time up there in Port Townsend, Oregon. I heard someone say that 60 is today’s 40. Too bad for Eric because he is now 61.God, I hope that he is feeling more like 41 because that is how I remember him. I hope this sentiment is true for every one of the baby boomers that are still walking the planet. Remember when we used to "Not trust anyone over 30?" Now it's more like, just don't trust anyone ! LOL

Lately, the cloudy days around here have made me feel a bit melancholy.Yet it is wonderful to stay inside and create stuff. Today I worked on a new design for my Spirit rocks. I printed out a bunch of stickers with this upside down face on it. The “upside-downers” are fun to do. They say that if your nose runs and your feet smell that you are built upside down. That is what I tell people when I give them this particular rock. It is appropriate for this time of the year, because a lot of people have the sniffles.Anyway, after I print out the stickers, I cut them to size and paste them on the front side of the painted rock. Then after they are firmly sticking, I spray a coat of varnish over the top for protection. Then voila ! a new product is born.If you would like to see more of these rocks, go to my Spirit Rock blog. Just click on the link in the list on the right.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Productive Day

I got up, showered and went to Dr. Mike to pick up some fresh water. Then I went to the Christmas Bazaar and bought a beeswax figure and some Fuyu persimmons. Back to my place to paint some rocks and finish putting together my reflector tables ( see above ). Then I went to Ace hardware to get my next door neighbor Antonia a tarp to cover her deck like the one I have covering mine. I decided to have this be an early Christmas present for her. Then after painting a few Spirit rocks I rode my bike back to the Christmas Bazaar to give two rocks to a couple of vendors who were about my age and rather attractive.Hmmm... where am I going with this? To the Tractor Parade which starts right about now and goes down main street in Calistoga ( Calistoga has the most parades of any small town in California ).Fun times !

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Having options

Testing the new blogging app on my iPad. It's called "Blogger plus". it's nice having another option when it comes to creating and posting blogs. Naturally,I only have a handful of readers that check in now and then. It is great when they post something however. It makes me feel like a news reporter on special assignment. If only I had a special assignment to devote my attention. Lately, I've been experiencing a little boredom. Painting beautiful rocks can only get you so far...

Thursday, November 25, 2010


“Life”is the name of Keith Richards new book and it is a pretty good read.He and I are both Sagittarius, and it seems that when we aren’t creating new adventures , we’re reflecting on how we got through the last one. The Stones are an iconic group that were instrumental in forming a lot of my generations late adolescent values of originality ,rebellion and creative pursuit.They always have been able to write their own ticket.The music and lyrics continue to intrigue me and are listened to often. Not always the mainstream hits like "Jumpin’ Jack Flash" or “Satisfaction", but more selective pieces like, “Memo to Turner” or “Can’t you hear me Knockin’ ”. These nuggets are stored away in my ITunes favorites, and only get pulled out occasionally depending on my mood. When I think about the Stones, I think mostly of Mick Jagger; Although Keith’s role is as essential to the success of the formula that is the Rolling Stones. Mick is someone who Keith almost seems at odds with at times, and if he weren’t such a necessary vehicle for transmitting the gestalt of the work, would probably not be as successful as a solo artist.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday go to meeting

I went to St. Helena Catholic church this morning and sat next to a little kid that made farting noises with his mouth which had the back rows of the church red with blushes and side glances. It was too funny and the culprit was hardly even two. After mass, I sat at the Coffee Roastery and had my first cup of Joe in around three months. Man was it good ! Suddenly, I felt erudite and verbose !
I wanted to chat it up with everybody! After the coffee and my usual Jalapeno bagel with cream cheese I headed off to the Tucker Farm meeting. Later on, i headed home and worked on my Spirit Rocks. I haven't come up with a consistent prototype yet, but I am getting there. I am at least numbering these rocks so that I will be able to personalize them as I sell them. Friday is when I showed my methods for packaging and designing these rocks to a women I know named Melissa. She likes crafts and has created some beautiful hand painted eggs, so I think she will enjoy taking on a new creative challenge. I am looking at getting these items in a Christmas fair as soon as I find out who to contact.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Today was a quiet day. I stayed at home until noon and then went over to help unpack a truck for the Food Bank. It didn't take long and I was back at home working on how I want to package the Spirit Rocks. I am thinking about using them for fund raising purposed or some such. I haven't decided. The last thing I want to do with them is sell them. It's not that they aren't marketable, it's just that I really despise attaching a value to something I have loved into existence. The same is true for the chefs hats. I absolutely love giving them to kids as a gift, just to see their reaction. The Spirit Rocks have a special meaning for me that is beginning to be revealed. To me, they are about focusing and centering on something good, so as to bring you out of a blue funk. I don't know how to use them yet, except that I think that having them under the light to charge them is an awesome exercise. Then to observe them until the glow fades is a good way to drift into a meditative state.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Creative Pursuits

It's Monday morning around 7am and the sun is just coming up. I took some Melatonin to help me get some sleep last night. I take a quarter of a tablet. Any more than that and I feel groggy the next day. Yesterday it was beautiful outside and the wind made everything look crystal clear. The wind was warm and felt tropical as I sat out on my deck reading a magazine.Earlier, I painted a few more Spirit rocks to add to my collection. I may drive out to the coast this week to gather some more rocks to paint. The other thing I accomplished was designing a box to package them, much like a pet rock only this is the next version. A rock that glows in the dark and has its own web page.It would be nice to code each rock separately and have a personal code that would unlock a 3-D figure that would be the rocks own individual "Spirit". This is something that I may develop down the road. I have a friend that is a master at Flash and HTML 5, so I will see if this is something he would like to pursue.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Rainy Sunday

A nice little storm passed through today, and the rain was refreshing. After mass I went to the Napa Valley Coffee Roastery for a cup of Hot Chocolate and a Jalapeno Bagel ( Toasted with Cream Cheese and butter dontcha know ).Then I drove by the CIA and had a good laugh. The World's of Flavor Conference is going on and it is typical that the event should be faced with the extra annoyance of showers. I feel for the Staff that has to work this event, but this is usually the last big blow-out event before they go into the quiet season. Too bad I'll be missing it. When I got home I turned on a Blues station and broke out my color pencils and began to draw. Above is the creation that emerged. I started with those eyes, and went off from there. It's nice to just sit and practice using color and lines to formulate an idea. I added this to my portfolio, which you can visit by clicking on this link:

Friday, November 05, 2010

November Peace

This short movie clip is of Lake Hennessy, which I feature on this blog from time to time. It is one of those places here in the Napa Valley where I can escape to find Serenity and Peace. Today was no exception. Earlier I was bored so I found an old pair of suede slip on shoes and I ended up painting them metallic blue ( Yes, just like the Spirit Rocks in my previous post ). I feel goofy wearing them, but also somewhat liberated. The shoes went for the brief hike up into the hills you see featured in the video above.Then around 6pm I headed back into town and then up to the Friday night meeting at the St. Helena Hospital. Afterwards I met with a group of people to have a late dinner at Amigos in downtown St. Helena. It was fun fellowshipping with my friends from Napa. Everyone had a few yarns to spin and a lot of catching up to do. It was a fun day today.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Today began with mass at O.L.P.H. ( Our Lady of Perpetual Help ) Where Fr. Manny told the same dumb tequilla jokes during his sermon and the two bellowing babies in the back made his homily all the more very difficult to hear. During the prayers of the faithful I submitted that we pray for the Giants to win the pennant, which got a good laugh. I'm glad it cheered everyone up. After mass, I went back home and spent the day painting more "Spirit Rocks" like the ones you see above. This is my latest creative/ crafty pursuit.Yes, they are painted with metallic and glow-in-the-dark paint.They dry real easily and are fun to make. I let some of the neighborhood kids pick one out to take along with a handful of Snickers bars when they came by my apartment trick or treating. They are such great kids around here.I heard that their was a parade downtown where the whole community gets to take pictures and gawk at all the interesting costumes, but I opted to just hang out at home.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Focusing on Art

The rains are on the way and still the Giants are in the World Series to play their second game in San Francisco. They won the first one and hopefully this one won't get rained out. Go GIants ! Tomorrow they go to play in Texas.

I drove to Napa this morning thinking that it was Friday and got to the dentist's office only to realize that my appointment isn't until tomorrow. It was not a futile trip though, because I went to see my friend Arnie, who is currently at the Queen of the Valley Hospital getting treatment for pneumonia in his lungs ( yikes ! ) He has to stay there until they get the infection in his lungs under control. I hope he will be out soon.

Trader Joes is my favorite place to shop because they have the best products and value for my money. I made a stop there to buy vegetables, nuts, crackers, avocados, ginger chews, cranberries and some tahini sauce. So now you know what I like to nosh on. Yesterday I went for a hike up to Coyote peak at Bothe State Park. I did some artwork in the morning, and hiked in the afternoon. Today it is a little too overcast and it may rain tonight,so I'm going to take a pass this afternoon. Besides, my feet hurt after only a four mile hike... sheesh !

A friend of mine suggested that I paint some not so common fruits and vegetables that are used in the kitchen. This is how I spent the day. The other thing I've been painting are "Spirit Rocks" that I will be giving out on Halloween. No really... these are pretty cool. I got some rocks from the beach out at Jenner and found the smoothest and roundest ones around. Then I got some nice acrylic metallic paints to cover them. Then I paint small designs with glow in the dark paint on top. More to come...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cozy Cocoa

It is raining today , and it is looking like winter already. These are the days where I usually stay inside and draw or fiddle around on my computer or make something in the kitchen. I had a big breakfast after mass, with turkey bacon, a cheese omelette with jalapeƱo peppers and avocados. Then I prepared two slices of whole grain rye toast and topped it with yogurt butter and fig jam.I also made myself a cup of cocoa with cinnamon just for giggles. I am now making another cup because the first one was so good.
Nothing like a hot cup of cocoa on a cold, wet day. As a youngster we used to make it with warm milk and plop a marshmallow on the top. I can honestly say that I don't think I can remember the last time I had a marshmallow, can you? They were a highlight of my youth, especially on camping trips. Roasting a few on a stick was great fun, except when you burnt the roof of your mouth from eating the damn thing while it was still roasting.

In less than two months I will be 60 years old. This fact freaks me out a bit because I still feel like my life is just getting started and I am already past middle age! I know for certain that I am a late bloomer when it comes to maturity. I have to make all the mistakes there are to make in life before I get something right.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Compiling Artwork

It has been a while since I have thoroughly reviewed my portfolio and all the other art work I've kept over the years. Yesterday I went through my collection and framed a few pieces and went on to archive some others. My game plan is to submit some smaller work I've done to the Napa Valley Museum this weekend for a small format show coming up.I've also upgraded my photo gallery to include a lot of my more recent works. Above is one i did a long time ago but added a few embellishments just to make it interesting. I call it the "Shaman".

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Crush

It is sunny and beautiful outside again today. Yesterday was 10-10-2010 and the Giants pulled a little bit closer to making it into the playoffs. Saturday I went to help my friends Dick and Carol Uschyck, harvest and crush grapes. This has been and event that takes place every year about this time since 2001, and this was the first time I participated. A few years back I designed a label for their Merlot which they have used to make gifts which they give out during the holidays. What makes this amusing is that the grapes they harvest are from their "vineyard" which is basically a rather small yard in front of their house which we jokingly call the "lower-forty". What is so surprising, is that they usually get about two tons every year! The juice is very sweet and nutritious but don't worry. I won't be sampling the juice after it ferments. That would be road I won't be traveling down again. Dick invited me to stay and have dinner with the family which was great. They made tacos and we sat around exchanging stories about life in the Napa Valley as I drank my water. Carol gave me two jars of her fig jam to take home with me. They are nice people and good neighbors.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Staying busy

My creative juices have been flowing. I have been spending the time beefing up my portfolio and reorganizing all my art work. Today I came across a Mandala I created at SRJC about ten years ago. I added some color and filigree to make it into a more complete piece. It looks to me like an Alaskan tribal motif by the Eskimos there. I will have to look up the name for that style. Anyway, I've been enjoying these cool Fall days in Calistoga.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Staying Connected

It's Tuesday and the clouds were out this morning, but gave way to some beautiful sunshine this afternoon. I was not able to post to this blog earlier today because my internet connection was out. I called Comcast and they determined that it was the modem that was faulty and I ended up driving to Napa to get a new one at the Comcast store. Luckily, I had some shopping to do at Trader Joe's so it worked out well for me. When I got back I plugged in the modem and called Comcast to activate it. Unfortunately, they couldn't do that yet assured me that they would stay on it and scheduled a technician to come out at 2 PM. When the technician arrived he checked the new modem and determined that it was not the modem but the cable going to the box on the outside of my apartment. Yikes !! That box has been padlocked for a year, so that no one could access the cables and the former landlady was the only one with the combination. The Comcast guy told me that he would stick around until I found a way to open it. I ended up calling the Calistoga Housing people to see if the combination could still be found. No luck. Then I drove to ACE Hardware to purchase a hacksaw to cut the lock. That worked. I didn't think my day was going to proceed this way, but thankfully I am back on the internet and won't have to go through any withdraw from this crazy dependence.

Friday, October 01, 2010

October is here

Fall is upon us, and the days are getting shorter. The harvest for a lot of the Zinfandel grapes will begin either this week or early next week. It should be crazy busy for the grape pickers. The late harvest is to allow for more "hang time" which will increase the "brix" which in essence is the sugar content of the grapes. They are around 25 brix presently and may go higher. This also means that the alcohol content could be higher too ( not that this matters to me ). If you live in the Napa Valley, it is always fun to watch as the leaves turn from green to yellow to red. You can also smell the must of the grapes just by sticking your head out the window of the car at certain points up and down the valley.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Good orderly direction

Today is my sister Martha's Birthday. I sent her a gift certificate for two cooking classes at the CIA. I hope she enjoys them and comes away with more skills that she can add to her already bountiful set. The temperature should rise up over one hundred degrees today. It was the hottest day on record in Los Angeles yesterday. It is still early enough in the day, so I haven't turned on the fan or air conditioner yet. Presently, I am working on a couple of pictures to add to my portfolio. I will post them as soon as they are ready to be put online. During the past couple of days I've been reflecting on the events of my life. It is difficult to stay in the moment. It is important for me to set out to accomplish a few tasks every day. I am going to start with baby steps.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A legend of the Fall

Looking at my previous blog, it is ironic that I have a picture of the Main entrance to what many consider to be the best of the best in west, facing eastward. Because that is the doorway view from the desk where I have worked, laughed and cried for the past seven years and nine months. I have since walked through this portal perhaps for the last time. As I right this, I have been "shown the door" as they say, with a warning not to step on these hallowed grounds again. To the best of my knowledge, Monday marks the last day I was allowed to work as Concierge at this beautiful facility. This happened on the last day of summer as the Autumnal equinox began it's yearly sojourn. One could have said that I should have seen it coming, but like the last of anything, I was the last to know. I am sure there are big lessons to come from this, and certainly more shall be revealed. Suffice to say that if Pride cometh before the Fall, This Fall happened on very short notice. As it turns out, the woman in this picture is Janice who worked the same position as me eight years earlier. I had the distinct pleasure of giving her my final tour on my final day.That's a badge that she is holding which designates her as a "Tourist". In some ways, I think this is what we all are ... really. Just tourists.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Peak of the Season

This is the time when all the " Seasoned" tourists arrive in the Napa Valley. They come for the numerous festivals, weddings, tastings and crushing parties that all take place during our harvest. For the staff and students here at the CIA, it adds up to a lot more work all around. It has been difficult getting through the day with a gazillion tasks and distractions that seem to be happening all the time.Today, I will kick back and do my laundry, get my tires rotated and perhaps do some shopping. If I even do this much, it will be enough. My serenity is directly contingent upon my spiritual growth. My relationship with my Higher Power is numero uno.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Light my fire

It was a very pleasant evening at veteran's park in downtown Napa. I showed up for the last hour of the show which featured a few original members of the band The Doors. Ray Manzarek was on keyboards playing along with the Napa Symphony.What a hoot! These 50 somethings were singing along, and pretending to pass around a fake doobie. I caught their shenanigans on video. All in all, everyone seemed to be having a good time. I hope your Labor Day was as fun as this party here.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Elevating the Humble

It pleases me when people will make a request by asking, " May I ". I want to bend over backwards to make whatever we have, available and open to them. But when people come in like they own the place and demand to see our teaching kitchen, I have to let them down easy. If I have learned anything on this job, it is how to be of service. I cannot promise things that cannot be delivered, and by the same token I cannot favor one person over another. Thankfully, I have met the most gracious people in the world and have learned that people will generally treat you as well as you extend yourself to them when they arrive. First impressions are lasting, and no one should ever miss the opportunity to make a great first impression. Today, it is my hope that our Special Events team doesn't think that I am being persnickety when I point out that Greystone has been looking rather crumpled when I come to work after a wedding has taken place. The fact is, that a lot of stuff gets moved or is lying around waiting for someone else to pick it up . The problem is that it has to be picked up.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Summer winding down

Today we are experiencing a heat wave in St. Helena. The temperature is slated to go above 105 ☠ Yikes! I will be in an air-conditioned environment however, and will probably spend most of the day inside. It is Tuesday and this is my "hump" day now that I have Fridays and Saturdays off. I will drink plenty of water today and will be stopping by Dr. Michael Mulaney's office to pick up some more Kangen water this evening. This Kangen water is an ionized water that has a high alkaline profile. My system has been fairly acidic for some time so I have been converting to a healthier lifestyle by consuming up to eight - eight ounce glasses of water every day. You should always drink before you get thirsty. Water is the best hydration fluid. I have been off coffee now for over four weeks. Good for me. The picture above is of a healthy salad that I was indulging in last Thursday.

Friday, August 20, 2010

On top of the heap

Or underneath it? I never seem to know or care these days. I have been driving a rather modest and dare I say, crummy little car for the last fifteen years. I am almost scared to talk unkindly about it for fear it may stop running as well as it has for over 190,000 miles. If I change the oil, I will probably try to drive it through the next winter instead of getting a new one. It has gotten me around in spite of it's rather banged up appearance. I wanted to purchase a cute little white Jetta a few weeks ago, but my neighbor sold it. Damn. Now I have been thinking of that Jetta almost every day since.I definitely want a white car because I like the way they get seen. I don't want to be missed as people pull in and out of traffic. I have been affirming that the perfect car is now manifesting for me in my life, in totally satisfying and harmonious ways for the highest good of all concerned.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Eight, Nine Ten

Okay, so it's August ninth, Two thousand ten. We have someone who decided to have their wedding here at Greystone on a Monday night ( How quaint, huh? ) Anyway, it is already creating a bit of a hassle among the staff here, because the Atrium is being decorated and the tourists are getting confused.Already, the entry to the store has been compromised because of the insistence on having drapery above the door. Several people have already bumped up against the stands and have almost knocked them over. I am trying to keep my cool because the Concierge is usually the first to get blamed for anything. Thankfully, I am just here to do MY job and not anyone elses ( which, by the way had to get sorted out when I first came to work here ). The Concierge is the go-to person at the main entrance.Usually we are the last to know about any types of protocol regarding special events.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Plum Tuckered

Giving tours 3 times a day can be a bit draining, unless I play around and modify it each time I give one.Today I was so exhausted that I pointed to the flags in the atrium and exclaimed that they represented the many ways one should know how to prepare an egg. People looked at me like I was nuts. luckily, they had a sense of humor as well and I was quickly able to point out that the flags actually represented the major wine growing regions of the world at one time. Now that was true and far more plausible when I said it.This week I was tipped a 20 by a guy who looked and acted like he had a little too much wine. I humored him throughout the whole tour so I guess he appreciated that.Last night I sat and ate Hog Island oysters on the terrace and drank Pellgrino water at a table with five female coworkers.Ah life is good ! ( so long as I didn't have to pick up their tab !! ) Right now I am home and wondering what my next two days off will look like.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Review of this month's posts

Okay, I have been exploring the Social Media a little more now that I have a new IPhone 4, and a bit of the know-how in posting videos both on my blog, FB, Twitter, QIK and Google Buzz.It's a big step into the unknown,only because I haven't asked all the questions there are to ask and it is all still a bit overwhelming. Below is the video I took in San Antonio at the big ALAMODOME Showdown with the friends of Bill. You can see that the place is filled to the Rafters with lots of special people. I ended up spending the night in my car because all the rooms near downtown San Antonio were BOOKED SOLID. I felt so grunged out the next day, but luckily I found a motel not far from the Conference Center and RIverwalk area. Before that though, I scoped out a community pool where I took a free swim along with a hot shower to freshen up. My higher power was with me the whole time I was there. It was an incredible experience even though I missed hooking up with the folks from the Northern California Fellowships.Waaaaaahh ! Anyway, I will be going to these again in the future.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Let there be peace in the valley

Hi, This is a silly little video I made for fun. I am poking fun at the fear some people have about "illegal aliens". I hope you like it. Today I am going for a hike with my friend Dave. We will explore Lake Hennessy which I haven't done in quite awhile.Yesterday, I baked my buns up at Harbin Hot Springs and had a great time swimming, soaking and sweating. I have also begun this regime of drinking a ionized water that is reaping me numerous health benefits. The other thing I am working on is my creativity. It seem that I will have to head off in another direction until I can find my muse again. Sometimes I have to change directions to get a better perspective on things.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Warm Summer Day

It's one of those days where I slept in, and did very little. Eventually I got my laundry done and fed myself, but only feel motivated to drive into St. Helena to get a cup of coffee at the NV Coffee Roasting company. I feel safe there. I have not been feeling too secure lately. I am not soliciting help, but perhaps I should be. The world seems to be in pretty bad shape, and it is not at all what I envisioned as a comfortable place be as an adult.It doesn't even feel safe to disagree with people anymore. Everyone seems on the defensive... so less inclusive as they once were.How sad.Perhaps it's because I am on vacation and feel compelled to be doing something...anything !

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Back from San Antonio

Well it was a whirlwind couple of days but I am glad to be back. The heat was not as unbearable as previously thought. When I arrived we had huge cloud breaks and torrential downpours. Drove from Austin and got to the conference in time to attend the meetings in the Alamodome. Went for a swim in the morning and explored the Riverwalk downtown. Later on, I drove out to see the CIA at the old Pearl Brewery. It is quite impressive. I look forward to hearing about what it will look like when the rest of the building is renovated. Visited the San Antonio Museum of Art which was exhibiting a show of psychedelic art. All in all an interesting trip.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Still on the fence

As of today, I have not gotten a ticket for San Antonio, and I am still open to the possibility. When I come home from work this evening, I will either book it or I won't. If I don't, it means another "staycation" around Calistoga. I really don't feel like going anywhere at this point, but a lot is weighing on my mind. Today is another gorgeous day in the Napa Valley and the weekend is likely to be hot ( like San Antonio wouldn't be?? ) So I guess it is six of one and a half-dozen of the other. The only difference would be that I would be saving some money if I don't go, yet passing on a very significant gathering of the tribes. Oh decisions, decisions...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

July approaching

Many things are coming up as this month ends. Dave Keegan is a friend who is returning from Italy who I plan to get together with to celebrate his birthday. San Antonio is the city chosen to commemorate the 75th anniversary of a Fellowship of which I am a member, and am currently planning on attending, even though I am registered and don't have a plane ticket or hotel reservation. My vacation begins on friday. Everything else seems to be okay... I still owe money for my student loans and the rent is due for this coming month. Let's see, what else? It's three o' clock in the morning on Tuesday, June 29th, 2010. I am wearing my snuggie that my nephew Edward gave me as a Christmas present last December and I am typing away, trying to make a blog. It is sorta like taking a crap at this point. Be well until my next post.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Trudging forward

Today is Sunday and I started the day with a bagel and cup of Joe at the Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company in St. Helena. It has been a couple of weeks since I have written in my blog, but at least now I have a few things I can feel comfortable about writing. I have rekindled a relationship with Veda who I took an Art class with many years ago at Napa Valley College. We have a few mutual friends and a few things in common. She is an artist and convinced me to attend the Italian Chalk Art Fair in San Raphael this past week. The picture above is my creation. I was sponsored by a bike shop. but my design is rather nebulous and doesn't really fit into any particular category ( I just thought that it would make a nice tattoo ). In any event, we spent the day in the hot sun creating our pieces that turned out to be quite grueling, yet fun at the same time. I like Veda, but know my self well enough to proceed slowly as I get to know her. So far, I have found her to be fun, entertaining and interesting. I will keep you posted...

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Sunday morning sunshine

Feels so nice.This morning the sun came out, the birds were making a racket, but you could tell that the day was going to be pleasant. I skipped mass and went to the Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company for a Machiado and a Jalapeno Bagel with butter. Work was pleasnt and I had the opportunity to take some Iraq war veterans on a guided tour of the CIA. These guys were all affected with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. You could tell that they were a little skittish and didn't always seem present in the moment. Point of fact, that at times they just seemed to wander off on their own when they couldn't deal with what was happening in thier surroundings. One guys was a bit concerned about the elevator, but seemed okay after I told him that we would only be going one floor up to get to the barrel room. All in all, I was glad that I took these guys around. They really deserve our heartfelt gratitude for serving in such torn up, God-forsaken places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Trying to make sense of it all...

Today is another cloudy day with possibility of showers. It is late May and the temperature has not gotten above 60 in the last three days. Coming to work, I am greeted by two tourists at 9:30 AM who are insisting on making sure that their reservation has been made for 1:15 PM in the restaurant. After booting up my computer I see that they indeed have a reservation. Next question... " Is your store open to the public ? " Uh, yes it is. What time does your restaurant open? It opens at 11:15 AM. What time does your store open? It opens at 10:00 AM. "We drove all the way to see this place. Do your students prepare a balanced lunch in the kitchen? Uh, yes they do. At this point I am ready to say something that could get me in a heap of trouble,so I swallow my pride and smile. Momma told me there would be days like this.

I just realized that the picture above is very telling after the continuing news about the Oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. This saddens me greatly, and I pray that there is a way to plug it and clean it up after so many days of spillage.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Blogging on

Today I felt it was necessary to blog because I haven't done so in a while. Who has any time anymore? I worked today and got through it. That is what it was like at work today... I got through it. Just like this blog... today is just got through it.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Rise and Shine

Cockadoodledoo ! We celebrated mother's day on Saturday at my nephew Edward's house today in Napa. My friend Veda drove up from Fairfax to join in and meet the wonderful group of people that is my family. It was a pot luck, and because I don't particularly like to cook I bought a box of See's chocolates and some lollipops as the dessert. I was really impressed with the way Edward and Antonella take such good care of their guests. Edward made some bratwurst that was included some caramelized onions that were prepared in beer. He cooked some separately just for me because he is considerate of the fact that I am an alcoholic in recovery. Veda seemed to enjoy meeting the whole gang and everyone was very kind to her and made her feel at home. Most of her family lives near Sacramento, and she recently lost a brother, so I think it was just enough of family that she could take at this time.I realize after we left around 5:30PM just how much I appreciate what my family has done for me over the years. If it weren't for my brother in law Ernie, an0d my sister Martha, I don't know how I would have made it through the 80's living in San Francisco. The same goes for my brother in law, Hamish and my sister, Rita. It is gatherings like this that makes me want to stop and count my blessings.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Back and Forth

The bear in this picture looks like he is trying to do some exercise. The picture reminds me to do my exercise every chance I get.
The weather has been wet and dry, back and forth all week long. I rode my bike 14 miles on Sunday to St. Helena from Calistoga and back. Then I up and ran 10 laps around the local High School track yesterday, just to keep my momentum going. It will be so easy to slough off and not pursue the goal I made in the last blog. Today I refused to drink coffee and have switched to Green Tea. I am still dog tired after yesterdays run. I definitely need to get back in shape.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Food is fuel

When I turn 60 in December, I want to weigh in at 160 lbs. This is the goal I have set for myself. As i write this, I am 35 lbs. over that goal.
I went to see my cardiologist yesterday and was informed that I have high blood pressure and need to go on a regular exercise regime. I also am beginning to take a daily pill for my blood pressure along with the statin I am already taking for my cholesterol.

In my thirties and forties I was a marathon runner with a 2:50:14 personal best.I was in the best shape of my life and felt invincible. I have suffered injuries and setbacks over the years but have recovered well from a torn mininscus, ankle injuries and a traumatic motor scooter accident that nearly took my life.

Today, I rode my bike to St. Helena and back ( 14 miles ). It is my intention to keep a regular log of my daily activities from now until my sixtieth birthday. I will list both what I have eaten and what exercise I have done .Food is now fuel for my activities, nothing more, nothing less. My goal over the past fifteen years has been to get our of debt and back on my feet financially. I am almost there with that goal. I ask each of you for your support in helping me achieve these goals, and I thank you for taking the time to read this.I love you.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Uneventful days

The weeks have gone by without much happening. Spring seems a little flat so far, so I suppose we are all just proceeding in our own usual ways. The Giants win their opener, then lose the next day because my sister goes to the game to see what all the excitement is about, and blames herself when they lose the second game. The swallows return to Greystone only split a few days later when the rain returns. The yellow yarrow in the herb garden is the one of the few colorful plants that are around to pick and the lavender is too flimsy to put in a vase to display at the Concierge desk. Don't get me wrong, things may not be all that great, but they aren't too crummy either... just sort of flat. Hmmm... it makes it a little difficult to write about anything without sounding like Albert Camus in his book," The Stranger " when the main character proceeds day to day in kind of a mundane existence seeking only survival.

Momma told me there'd be days like this.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Who has time anymore?

Yesterday I went on an 8 mile hike in the hills near Pope Valley with my friend and colleague, Harrison Hood. The day was grey and eventually turned to rain. After about four miles of dodging creeks and muddy trails, I tried to step over a sloppy pile of mud that a bunch of cattle had gone through and fell sideways. Luckily, it wasn't the usual Meadow frisbees that the cows leave, but enough to get my shoe stuck and my pants completely drenched. But hey, I am a novice and should have had the sense to bring the proper gear. The other hikers had the right boots, hiking poles and the latest goretex pants and jackets. Needless to say, I felt foolish and was pretty angry with myself. The group leader then pulled out a pair of clean socks for me to put on !! (Talk about being prepared !) Anyway, the next time I go hiking it will be with the days are warm and dry.

Today, I came to work after a couple of days off, and was prepared to face the inevitable changes and communication glitches that occur.The day goes easier when I turn petty matters over to my Higher Power, but my tendency is still to try and place blame which only serves to make matters worse for everyone.Giving tours, running cameras, printing literature, answering emails, delivering communication and directing traffic are only a few of the duties that have been placed in my per view.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Allergy Season

is rapidly arriving, and my Flonase prescription has already been refilled. I recently purchased a new sleeping bag, a therma-rest air mattress and a lounge recliner to sleep out under the stars on my deck. The last couple of nights have been beautiful, even though it rained hard on Easter. Our company had their annual health screening in the Barrell room today. I found out that I am five pounds heavier than last year, but my cholesterol is good and my blood pressure is down. Yippee ! Now I suppose I will go out in this nice weather and do a few laps.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Easter 2010

The sun is out today but it is expected to rain again tomorrow, Easter Sunday. This is a time for reflection and reverence. I am staying at home for most of the weekend. It is Passover, a Jewish religious time that I find curious. I am sure that every ritual in both the Catholic and Jewish faith is time tested to reveal a particular significance that will lead it's followers to a holy hereafter.
I have been reading about the Pope's recent troubles with the covering up of the child abuse that has taken place in many of it's churches throughout the world. Not just the church in the United States, but the churches of Ireland, Germany and other places throughout Europe. It looks like the Vatican is scrambling for more cover, instead of taking the strategy of more transparency and openness. One would hope that Pope Benedict ( formerly Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger ) will continue to come clean with any information that remotely implicates himself, his brother, the German archdioceses or the Irish Catholics. This is not a time for covering up, it is a time for Revelation.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Gaels gone mild

Okay, So i watched as the St. Mary's Gaels got stomped in the Sweet Sixteen NCAA Basketball Tourney as Baylor went on to the Elite Eight. At least now, we won't have to face Duke.Traveling to S.F.'s ATT Park to watch the game on the Jumbotron was an experience. One of the Alumni donated money to have this free event for all the Gaels goin' wild. It was sad to see us lose, but it was great catching up with a few of my class mates that made it there. Afterward, I drove back to Calistoga and stoppped in St. Helena to get a free cheeseburger at the new "Gotts" that used to be "Taylors Refresher". A big legal battle is developing over the switching of the former name.
Today, I am back at work and I really am not feeling very prepared today. I drank enough coffee this morning to make me a little "thin-skinned" . Tomorrow is another day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Springing

The swallows have returned to make their babies and head south to Capistrano sometime in July. The Enchanted magnolias have blossomed and we have had a lot of tourists over the past weekend for the Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives Conference.I went on a nice little hike to a place called "Zin Zin Falls" not far from Lake Berryessa on my days off. It was eight miles round trip. You can say that I was pretty spent by the end of the hike. I ate a tub of yogurt before I laid down to rest that evening and it helped assuage the pain I usually get from cramping, sore muscles. It worked. This is the type of weather that motivates me in to action. I make promises to myself to start exercising more, but there is only 24 hours in a day, and I usually have other things I want to do with my time.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Marching on

The weather is wonderful. The skys are clear. Today, we are having the Healthy Worlds of Flavor Conference at Greystone. I will only be there today and Sunday as the event will be held over my regular days off. It seems that the Mustard that fills the rows in the vineyards will soon be plowed under to add nitrogen to the soil. The days seem like they are getting longer now that we have set our clocks forward and the sun stays around until late in the day. Beautiful days are ahead. St. Patricks' day was yesterday and came and went without a lot of fanfare.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Moving Forward

Everyone and everything is taking on a certain color.Even my co-workers Susan and Liz look, uh... fresh after having seen "Avatar" . Now with the clocks moving ahead an hour, everyone is gearing up for Spring.Last Sunday was the Napa Marathon with the local winner crossing the finish line in 2:56:23 I would have beaten him in 1984 with a personal best of 2:50:14 Now after having had my meniscus repaired on my left knee, Thirty pounds heavier and 25 years older... well, you get the picture ). I do miss running long distances though. It was a cheap natural high when the endorphins produced a buzz that would last a day or two. My exercise regime nowadays is climbing a flight of stairs accompanied by heavy breathing and the only high being the altitude.

Wednesday is St. Patty's day and next Sunday is Palm Sunday. The swallows will return then, as it is also the Vernal Equinox. I should also mention that yesterday was my thirty-third sober birthday. I can still recall the half pint of Royal Gate vodka and eight Heineken beers that brought to the brink. Thank God for all the support of family and friends for putting up with me during those early days. Thank God for the running too... It helps me blow off steam while getting healthy. Perhaps I will get back to it this summer. I know that swimming will be on the agenda. Come May, the pools will reopen at Bothe State Park and in Calistoga. I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Schedule Change

This week will be the beginning of my new schedule change. I will begin working almost regular business days. My days off will be Friday and Saturday instead of Monday and Tuesday. This suits me just fine. Working weekends can be a grind. Fridays can be the worst because most of the people in the education department are trying to get things wrapped up before leaving on Friday afternoon.Lately, I've been spending more time drawing and painting with watercolor pencils. Then I scan my work and modify it in Photoshop.I love the way I can enhance my images using Photoshop.

Friday, March 05, 2010

My Brother, a Swedish Hero

I was just sent a very moving flash video of someone that finds my brother to be a great hero. I see not a hint of any blantant gushing, or idolatry...only a warm, heart-felt acknowledgment of the great human being he is. Now take the time to download and see for yourself . Just click on the following link, and allow two minutes to witness this well deserved tribute.

My Brother

Also, if you are in the Chicago area, you may want to visit his web site, for he is truly the

Chicagoland Santa

Now excuse as I am trying to remove a swollen tongue that is caught in my cheek.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Great looking flower

This is a lovely passion flower which is so enchanting. It looks just great.The rains earlier this week have saturated the soil and the creeks are full. Yesterday though, a huge earthquake rocked Chile.It was 8.8 on the Richter scale and the death toll is currently at 720 people and rising. Haiti occurred some weeks ago, and that was in the 7's, yet the area was much more densely populated and killed a lot more people. Sitting here underneath a massive amount of Tufa stone sometimes makes me a little nervous even as I type this blog.If Greystone has survived three major quakes,it has to be said that nothing is really earthquake proof. We like to say that we are seismically safe here. We point out many things on the tour of this place, and usually take time to reveal the spots where many steel supports were installed, and showcase the overall condition of the building.I heard Wanda Sykes on NPR the other day comparing blogging to keeping a diary. She is so right on with her observations.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Open House not for the dogs

Today was our monthly Open House at Greystone. We had prospective students from all over the area, but not as many as last month. We have taken a "don't call us, we'll call you stance" when it comes to inquiring about admission to the CIA. In the past we have invited guests to come to our Open House only to find that they were more interested in a free tour with bakery goodies, than inquiring about our educational programs. Last month we had around 100 people. This month was more like forty people. Big difference. The Campus store, Viking Kitchen, Tasting bars and Chocolate Room are almost in full operation. The next big hurdle will be the Cafe and Bakery which will be a restaurant that is run by our students. I have been enjoying giving tours lately...since that is a new thing that generates revenue. Ask me again in a couple of months how I am doing with all this. The cute little puppy in the picture is my co-worker Eileen's dog, Pierre.
She emailed me the picture.