I love live performances . . . music, dance, theater . . . and here in the Santa Ynez Valley we are fortunate to have a wonderful outdoor theater in the round at the Solvang Festival Theater that is performed by the PCPA.
To celebrate my friend Andrea's birthday, we headed to Solvang to see their recent performance of Oklahoma. Not a big fan of the movie I was skeptical, but the actors changed my mind. Fabulous casting and performances!
This agave is in the front "bowl" of my property . . . I am always in awe of quickly they seem to shoot up their majestic stalks and how efficient they are at capturing the slightest amount of moisture to stay alive!
Some days are just like that . . . no matter where you go or what you do, you come away so much the richer (or more frustrated) by the experience or information learned.
Today started with a guided walking tour, sponsored by the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art, of the newly designated Santa Inés Historic Park with property steward Wayne Sherman. Joining me were friends Deborah (aka Gypsy, for those who followed my Morocco blog) and Joan.
The tour began at the Old Mission Santa Inés, one of California's 21 missions spread out between San Diego and Sonoma that was founded in 1804 by Father Estévan Tapis of the Franciscan order. We learn that much of the original church was destroyed in an 1812 earthquake centered near Santa Barbara. Next, we head downhill through an old Mission walnut grove and past a relatively newly replanted olive grove to one of California's earliest industrial sites — a once water-powered grist mill (1819) and fulling mill (1821). The latter permitted the production of much finer wool cloth.
While the former property owners did a lovely restoration of the old mill buildings, the State Historic Parks, in my humble opinion, were remiss in not replanting heirloom olive varietals that would have been authentic to this property — especially since they are growing olives now in hope of generating some needed funding to offset the expenses of managing the property.
Cindy Douglas, Farm Manager, leads us first through a discussion of the walnut grove, which is one of the cooperative groves that produce organic walnuts and walnut oil under the La Nogalera label. Our friend Mary Jane (aka Mama Rosa on my Morocco blog) is also a walnut farmer / ember of the cooperative.
Next, we head to the Tutti Frutti hoop greenhouses to discuss the organically farmed heirloom tomatoes and other row crops they produce. Unbelievably (and sadly), we are told that 50% of their production is sold through national chain grocery stores such as Whole Foods and Safeway, while 10% is sold through the several weekly farmers markets in Santa Barbara / Montecito / Goleta and the Food Bank, and 40% goes unsold / unused. Incredible. Part of our discussion is the need to bring farmers such as Tutti Frutti in contact with local restaurants, schools, hospitals and other end-users. However, it also seems hard to understand why the cost of their produce at Farmers Markets is priced lower in order to sell more. Or, why someone has not created a local business to use the healthy, yet unsold produce to make commercial sauces, tapanades, etc. And, at this point we are only talking about one farm and one of their crops!
To be fair, the 50% of tomatoes being sold through national chain grocery stores has more to do with their crazy notion that consumers only want certain size and perfectly round tomatoes. Really, Whole Foods . . . get real!
Some friends and I saw this really fun and thought-provoking one-woman play last night . . . Manchester Girl.
It is a mostly biographical piece about escaping life in Northern England via the Tokyo modeling world in the 80s . . . taking you on "a vivid journey of hilarious culture clashes, discos, drugs, and heartbreak. Manchester Girl received a Fringe First Award in Edinburgh and will be opening in New York in September as part of the United Solo theatre festival.
By the way, Sue and her musician husband Robert Cray live in our fabulous Santa Ynez Valley!
My friend and walking buddy Deborah sent me this pic today of one of my pups on while on a recent walk. Peetie was as fascinated with the wild pigs as they were with him . . . snort, snort, snort!
My friend Marsha organized a girls night out — dinner at the Santa Ynez Kitchen followed by Jeff Bridges and his band performing at our local saloon . . . fun!
Today my sweetheart would have turned 62 . . . cheers to you darling for a life well lived and well loved.
"I love you as many times as there are stars in the heavens x infinity . . . and that's a lot!"
To celebrate, I joined friends Deborah and Katherine at the historic old stagecoach stop Mattei's Tavern in Los Olivos for a pop-up wine pairing dinner — Rue Saint Dominique & Quóc Lô 1A — in collaboration with Les Marchands Wine Bar (Santa Barbara). The food was a brilliant fusion of east/west created by Mattei's chef Robbie Wilson and the French wines selected by Les Marchand master sommelier and co-owner Brian McClintic perfectly complemented each of the four courses. Rick would have loved it!
The draught is finally starting to get people's attention. Last week, the folks who cleared much of our property last winter — Brush Goats 4 Hire — gave a presentation at our homeowners association's annual meeting to offer their services to reduce our exposure to fire hazards. This was followed on the heels of our water master confirming that the water table in the Santa Ynez Valley is down about 25 feet. Yesterday, Governor Brown declared a drought state of emergency, followed by one of our local valley communities calling for voluntary water reduction. Global warming?
With California is now facing the driest year in recorded state history, what's a gal to do? Bring back the goats! Earlier this week about 50 brush goats moved back on to the front "bowl" of our property to eat down the dried grasses and munch back the lower story of oak and scrubbier trees. The first night Simba and Peetie, a neighbor's Great Dane, and the two Anatolian guard dogs kept us all awake until about 2 AM barking at the full moon, coyotes and each other. Thankfully, the last few nights have been quiet!
Today a group of friends and I elebrated the coming of 2014 at Beckman Vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley. Fine wines, good food, lots of laughs and great fun!
I am an artist and writer who aims to live life consciously and creatively with no "Plan B." My musings include experiences from my travels as well as those who inspire me.