Cornelia Sieber-Davis stands behind the curbside pickup booth, wearing a brown Lake County Farmers’ Finest t-shirt, her bright eyes framed by her bangs and the white mask covering the rest of her face. It’s Saturday in Kelseyville, and the Farmers’ Market is in full swing. “Many people choose to order online,” she says, bustling to move signs and boxes filled with produce. “And every week we’re getting more and more things to buy on the website. I get the orders and aggregate them all here.” She shuffles a box around and puts something else in it. It’s an adjustment to interesting times that seems to be working. The table is filled with boxes waiting to be picked up. While we’re chatting, a woman wanders over to the booth and pokes at a peach. “These are for curbside pickup,” Cornelia says brightly. “But, you can buy some just over there.” She points across the open area. “They’ve got plenty.” She chats for a while with the woman and shows her some of the olive oil on sale. It’s just one of the many items it’s possible to find at the market. You can find original paintings, jams and jellies, all different kinds of veggies, as well as honey, succulent starts, herbs, fruits, and cookies. It’s a cornucopia of Lake County’s finest.
David and Trudy Wakefield started The Bloom in 2018 to showcase the best parts of Lake County and to provide a local outlet for community events, arts, music, and writing.
Picture this: It’s early evening, late spring. Between the emerald blue sky, popcorn clouds puff into the distance, building in thicker clumps as they bump into the Mayacamas Mountains. Below them sits Clear Lake, flecked with the smallest specks of whitecaps. The mountains rise from the lake in a motley assortment of greens and tans that blend into grey-violet as they back into the distance. “I’ve got a friend who has a place in Lake Geneva,” Craig says, “and she sent me some photos of the view. I said, ‘That’s a great view. Now look at ours.’ And I sent her photos of the view from my deck. ‘Wow,’ was all she said. I mean, the view here is drop-dead gorgeous. All those places have got nothing on Lake County. I feel like we’re on vacation 24/7,” he says, a smile in his voice. “It doesn’t seem like I’m working with a view like this one.” But that’s not entirely true. In fact, Craig has been hard at work, developing a new line of ducks called Good Ducks, which are in fact the only rubber ducks that are 100% made in the USA. “You know, the funny thing is that I own this business one hundred percent,” Craig says. “I never took an investor. I don’t like being told what to do. I knew who I was and what I could do, and it’s a fortuitous thing that it’s turned out this way. Because if I had to report to a board, they probably wouldn’t have let me do this. They would think it was too much risk, too much of an expense. We had to find a whole new way of molding the ducks using food and medical grade materials to make the safest rubber ducks in the world for teething babies. But we’re going to end up selling tens of thousands of them.” He pauses. “And we’ll sell millions of them if we do it right. It’s a better mousetrap, and definitely a safer one from what’s currenty out there.”
This year turned out differently than all of humanity planned. Who would have thought that instead of watching our daughter march and get her AA, we would be standing with her on the side of the road, hoping that people would show up? Instead of a huge graduation party, we hauled a table and a bunch of balloons down to the edge of our driveway and set up decorations and chairs. Soon people started showing up, and each gave her something special. A new mother came by to congratulate Emma and wish her a happy future. Emma’s former employers showed up. They had taken Emma in with no experience and watched her grow up inside their business. They loved her more like family, and blessed her into a bright tomorrow, filled with success. Neighbors came by, each bringing flowers, balloons, and well wishes. Old friends sat in their cars with their windows down and cheered Emma’s graduation. And my daughter’s smile filled her face. We’re not alone in our experience. Schools all over the county have had drive-by graduations and parades with people waving and honking their horns, celebrating the class of 2020. Isn’t it amazing? We still have each other. We have friends, neighbors, and relatives who go out of their way to drive by a person’s house on a Saturday afternoon or to honk as they pass by a home with a “Class of 2020” sign in the front yard. It’s the best of who we are in a hard time, coming together to share in each other’s joy. Class of 2020, it may not be the graduation you expected, but we’ll never forget it. It’s the one where our community came together to cheer you on. Happy Graduation, class of 2020. Your future is bright.
In the April 16, 2020 and May 14, 2020 issue of the Bloom Weekly, the email incorrectly listed the Column “Commercial Real Estate Insights” as first published in The Lake County Bloom. In the May 21, 2020 issue of the Bloom Weekly, the email incorrectly listed “Designing to Fit the Vision” as first published in […]
Stimulus checks have started showing up in our bank accounts and the mail. So why not put the check to good work, helping our county through a tough time? That’s where the #StimulusChallenge2020 comes in. JenniferStrong, owner of Strong Financial Network, started the idea in March by offering an experience as a drawing prize for those who donate $25 or more to the LARCA (Lake Area Rotary Club Association) Emergency Relief Fund. “We’re just trying to help the community,” she says, her clear, confident voice coming through the phone line. “One thing about Lake County is that we’ve been through a lot of difficulties in the past five years, and we’re pretty resilient. But some of us need some help. That’s when I came up with the idea for #StimulusChallenge2020.” The #StimulusChallenge2020 isn’t just for people to donate; it’s also to bring the community together. When you donate to LARCA, you also have the chance to win a unique, Lake County experience, such as tastings, pizza classes, and a day of sailing on the lake.
Recently, our family ran into a dilemma. We bake our bread at home and were running low on yeast. So I went online to get some more and saw that the price had not only doubled, but it wouldn’t come for a month. So, what were we to do? Not only was our homemade bread at stake, but also the evening’s long-awaited plans. Stir-crazy and stuck at home, our family had planned on making calzones, then having a family-only drive-in movie on the patio. But we were out of yeast for the dough. In my moment of despair, Juicy’s Pizza in Lakeport came through. Not only can you buy one of the best pizzas in the county there, but you can also pick up a few staples that you may be having difficulty purchasing. Right now, they are selling the following: Org. Beehive All Purpose Flour- $8.24/5 lb Org. Artisan Baker’s Craft Plus Wheat Flour (bread flour, used in our dough) $8.50/5 lb Org. Whole Wheat Fine Flour- $8.28/5 lb Fleischmann’s Instant Yeast- $5.50/1 lb C&H Cane Sugar- $2.80/1 lb After a quick stop, we came home with two pounds of yeast, enough to get us through not just our calzone night at home, but enough to keep us in bread for a while. That evening, Planet of The Apes splashed across the white bedsheet we had stretched over a rope. Kids curled up in blankets huddled in their chairs. And on each of our laps sat a calzone made with Juicy’s yeast. Call it a COVID miracle; it’s a great example of how the Lake County community has come together to help each other out during a tough time. If, like our family, you enjoy cooking and baking at home, having this resource is a great opportunity and one that supports a great local business as well. And, of course, Amy Hinson and Marinda Scott, owners of Juicy’s, still sell their amazing pizzas, complete with sourdough crust, artisan toppings, and homemade sauce. It would be foolish to go through the work to drive there only to pick up flour. Every pizza that Juicy’s offers is impressive; we try to get something different every time we go, and always are happy with our choice. Juicy’s pizza is located at 155 Park St, Lakeport, CA, and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 1-7 pm. You can reach them by calling (707) 413-3080, or by visiting their website at juicyspizza.com.
The early April sun just warms the crisp air and flecks across Clear Lake. Clouds puff across the sky, touching Mt. Konocti and sliding their way across Mt. Hannah. Orchards, pastures, and horse corrals with white fences edge Highland Springs Road as it winds its way towards the Mayacamas Mountains. There, nestled between vineyards, stands the small tasting room of Olof Cellars. Cindi Olof, co-owner of the winery, stands inside, a mask and gloves on, filling up a case of wine. Right now, Olof is offering a special—a case of their wine for $100. “It’s an incredible deal,” Cindi says, adjusting her mask. “That’s $8 a bottle for a $35 a bottle of wine.” She pauses for a second, thinking. “Or $125 a bottle in Napa.”
Carl White, owner of Danny’s Roadside Kitchen, opens the heavy doors to his smoker. A white cloud envelops him, obscuring his red t-shirt and fogging his glasses. He pours a little water in the bottom, creating a billowing thunderhead. “Hang on just a second,” he says. You gotta wait for the steam to clear.” This article first appeared in The Bloom on November 15, 2019. However, during the Coronavirus lockdown, Danny’s Roadside Kitchen is still open and Carl is still serving his spectacular barbecue. Give it a try if you haven’t yet.
On most days, it’s possible to see Jimmy Tannous cooking outside, tongs in hand. In front of him, dozens of chicken thighs sit on a rack suspended above a bed of charcoal coals. Every few seconds, he pokes a thigh, then flips it; when cooked, he pulls it off and replaces it with a new piece of meat. Those thighs are full of flavor, unique, and designed to go with his spectacular sandwiches. When asked for the secret to their unique and decidedly wonderful taste, he points at his chest, and says, “It’s the guy who cooks it.” Jimmy’s Deli and Taqueria has been a Lake County institution for decades. The deli moved to its current location in Lakeport in 2008 and has been creating great food since then. It’s common, during regular times, to see a line stretching out of the door at lunchtimes. Everyone knows that it’s the place to go for high-quality, inexpensive food that not just fills, but satisfies. If you live in Lake County and haven’t visited, you’re in for a treat.
Jason Chavez, owner of Kelsey Creek Brewing Company, stands behind the bar, pulls on a tap, and begins filling a two-liter growler with a Mixed Berry Sour. Behind him, a sign sits on a shelf. “Don’t cry over spilled milk,” it says. “It could have been beer.” Over the speakers, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and The Highwaymen sing, “The road goes on forever, and the party never ends.” Jason chats about his beers as he pours, tilting the growler to the side as it fills. His long dark hair, pulled back in a ponytail, hides under a NY Mets hat backward on his head. A long, spiraling dragon tattoo winds down his arm. It’s been four years since Jason and his wife Caroline took over Kelsey Creek Brewing. Since then, Jason has used his creativity to craft unique, tasty beers that cover the spectrum of brewing tastes, from dark, malty stouts to ultra-light, crisp lagers.
In response to the COVID-19 emergency, the New Digs Shelter in Place Food Drive was created to support New Digs clients experiencing lost wages by delivering personal care packages to those most vulnerable. Deliveries include fresh fruit, an array of non-perishable food, laundry soap, diapers and baby formula when needed. The project is actively seeking donations.
The day has finally closed; it’s eight o’clock in the evening. Daylight has settled into twilight, and the sky, purple-grey, slowly dims to black. Then, off in the distance, a loud, lingering noise rises from the valleys, bounces off the mountains, and echoes through the night air. It’s time for the community howl. People all over the county pop out of their homes, stand in their backyards, and do their best wolf imitation. A little over a week ago, the howl came to Lake County, echoing across the rooftops in Hidden Valley Lake, reverberating off Cobb Mountain, and bouncing off the waters of Clear Lake. Perhaps it’s a whim, but every night, like clockwork, it happens. It’s true; we’re all cooped up right now. The evening howl is a great way to work off some steam and to remember that we still do have neighbors, and they may be a bit weird, too. Our family looks forward to the moment when the clock strikes eight. Then we pop outside, stand on our patio and let go. “Hawoooo!” we yell, and our dog chips in for good measure. Then we stop and listen. There, in the valley below us, an answering “Oooooooo” rises in the night air. There’s another human out there! We howl back and forth for a few minutes, sharing a small connection during a time when our entire society is disconnected. Sure, it seems a little bit silly, but it’s so lovely to let all the frustrations and worries out and just howl. For those few moments, there’s no SIP, no COVID, no stress, just a call into the evening air. You can call it cheap therapy, a sure sign of our county’s loneliness, or just plain strange. Whatever you think of it, it’s happening all around you. And oh, it feels so good just to let go. So, tonight at eight, head out to your backyard and give your best wolf imitation. And if you’re too cool to make a fool of yourself, don’t worry. We’ll howl louder for you.
If you live in Lake County and haven’t been to Castle Donuts yet, you’re seriously missing out. This shop creates donuts that fill people’s fantasies. It doesn’t matter which type you choose; you can’t go wrong. From bacon maple bars to custard-filled, chocolate-covered donuts, from old-fashioned to glazed, from apple fritters to bear claws, Castle Donuts makes them all spectacularly.
I know. It’s fun to be home, but after a while, it begins to wear on the psyche. Eating, sleeping, and binge-watching Netflix all are enjoyable in their own right, but it’s going on three weeks of staying at home now, and perhaps you’re looking for something new and exciting. Have no fear! Even during the time of COVID-19, there still are things happening in Lake County. That’s why we’ve created a new Online Calendar for your enjoyment. It’s full of interesting and exciting things. Want to share your music, poetry, or writing, but don’t have an outlet? Check out the Virtual Open Mic happening every Friday. Want to learn something new? You can attend an Aikido class, a Mindfulness group, or take an art class, all from businesses here in Lake County. Is all the laziness getting to you? Why not take up a Dance class or Pilates? You can find it all in our Online Calendar. So take a few minutes and give it a look. You might be glad you did. Are you hosting a local online event or class? Get in touch with us, and we’ll make sure to get it posted.
It can be difficult going online right now. It’s already stressful enough during normal times, but when a crisis happens, people can become alarmist and feed our already-growing fears. After another morning of reading bad-news social media, my wife Trudy offered me a well-known piece of advice from one of our childhood heroes, Mr. Rogers. “When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news,” he said, “My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” It’s a valid point; in every crisis, every disaster, good people are working to help others. Lake County is a prime example: we are delivering food to neighbors both old and young, calling old friends who may be lonely, and doing our best to be neighborly and still stay six feet away from each other. Our public health officers and police are working overtime to ensure our safety. Grocery stores now have special hours for the elderly and immune compromised. Restaurants and wineries are offering curbside delivery. Companies are removing late fees from our bills. It’s good to look for helpers; they are everywhere, looking to assist neighbors even if it just means staying at home to keep others safe. There is no doubt that our world will be different after this crisis; tough times always bring change. But that change doesn’t always have to be for the worse. Sometimes, we may want to break down and cry at the misery happening in our world. We may feel helpless to change it. But that’s not true. No matter how bad things are, we are all doing our part to lessen the stress we’re under; it’s visible in the kindness and generosity happening all the time within our community.
Currently, the Saw Shop is offering meals for four people for $40. “We originally started the family dinners in February,” Weston said. “On Monday nights, we were doing a ‘dine and donate’ for local charities. Then, about three weeks ago we decided to do the family-style dinners daily. Now every night there’s a different family-style meal available. You get everything you need to take home and have a complete dinner.”
Sure, it’s a stressful time right now. It would be impossible not to feel at least some anxiety about the situation happening in our world. It’s scary, for one thing, and it affects not just our health, but also our financial security. And, to be honest, Lake County has been through enough stress in the past few years to last several lifetimes. But don’t despair; hold on to hope. You see, while the rest of our nation is being tested, we in Lake County already know how to manage. We’ve been through fires, floods, and outages. And we’re still here. Sure, you can’t sit down at Juicy’s in Lakeport and enjoy a slice of one of their beautiful pizza pies, but they do curbside delivery now, and each bite will taste just as good in your mouth. Yes, you may not be able to walk through the beautiful lobby of the Castle in Lucerne to one of New Paradigm College’s amazing events, but you can take a class there for free, right at home. Hey, you’re not busy right now, and it’s not like you’ve got a lot going on, so why not take a mindfulness class? No, you don’t need to go anywhere. It’s all online. Just because things are tough doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do to help. In fact, now’s the best time to do it. Our local businesses need it more than ever. Grab a lunch at Buddha Thai Kitchen, pick up some wine at Fults Family Vineyards and head off for a picnic at Anderson Marsh; the trails are open. The marsh is waking up with the beauty of springtime on Clear Lake. It’s a sight you don’t want to miss. Right now, we’re social distancing, and can’t get closer than six feet to each other. But even though we’re stuck at home, it doesn’t mean that we have to be socially isolated. In fact, right now, we most need to come together. During the fires, people of our county helped their elderly neighbors evacuate. We came together then. During the outages, people offered to deliver generators and free gas to those who had no electricity. We came together then, too. Yes, this time is scary. Yes, it’s hard. But we know how to do it. We’re going to make it through this tough period. We’ve done it before, and we are doing it again.
The early spring day feels sunny and warm, easily in the low 70’s. Sparrow Daydancer and Punkie Lachnit sit on a raised garden bed filled with budding purple and green kale, sharing about their work with the Middletown Community Garden. Started in 2018 as part of North Coast Opportunities (NCO) Gardens Project, it serves as a place for gardeners and aspiring gardeners to work a plot of land.
Everyone was full when the seafood came. After moving the uneaten tri-tip and lobster around to make room, two students, struggling with the weight of the five-gallon bucket, each grabbed a corner and poured it in a heap on the table. At least ten pounds of King Crab legs, mussels, steamer clams, crayfish, shrimp, potatoes, sausage, and corn all piled in the center of the table, creating a mountain of high-quality seafood.
It’s springtime again, and all the bushes and flowers are slowly coming back to life. This slow budding of the new season also is happening with one of my favorite plants: poison oak. Even in its budding, it’s beautiful. Three small leaves poke out, bright green and red-orange. They spread across the ground, wind their way up trees, and work their way across fields. Then, as summer is followed by fall, they turn golden, red, and orange, covering those fields with a painter’s palate-worth of color. However, not everyone feels the same way that I do about this plant. “I hate it,” most people tell me. But that is something I could never, ever, do. You see, my love for poison oak is hard-earned.
“In the past, the city had tried three different times to get a road tax and failed for several reasons. We didn’t want the money to go into the general fund; we wanted it to go into the roads. The third time that we tried, it passed because we focused on the roads. That required a 2/3 vote, and it was close.” He chuckles at the thought. “It’s been three years since it went into effect. Before that, our average road repair maintenance budget was approximately $200,000 annually. In the last two years, we’ve spent $2.5 million each year. And we did that. We, the people of Clearlake, did that. We’re proud of that.”
“Life was different in the ’60s here,” Russ begins. Clearlake Highlands was a going concern. In the summertime, it was busy on Lakeshore Drive, with people walking up and down. Austin’s Beach was full of people. Back then, cruising Lakeshore was a big deal. Have you ever seen ‘American Graffiti?’ he asks. “The Highlands was like that back then.”
It’s nine in the evening at Robinson Rancheria. The Kentucky Jugglers have finished warming up and kick into their first song, “Keep on Rockin’ me, Baby.” On the left of the stage, Danny Hogan, a black cowboy hat on his head and cowboy boots on his feet, plucks away at his bass. It’s been a while since he’s played; over a year ago, he was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. But now he’s back, and stands tall, thumping away to the beat. Tonight is special, and not just for Danny. Once the band found out about Danny’s illness, instead of replacing him, they decided to stop their gigs and wait until he got better. Tonight, they are playing together for the first time in over a year.