COLUMNS

What’s Up This Week – 3.24.23

Five years ago, if someone told me I’d be co-owner, writer and editor of a local online paper, I would have laughed till tears ran down my face. And yet, here I am. Turns out, I absolutely love what I do. I get to experience so many new and interesting things in Lake County. My life is far from boring and full of surprises like this one, Operation Tango Mike. Last week I was fortunate to attend one of their packing parties and celebrate their twenty-year anniversary in Lake County. I knew what they do is amazing, but I had no idea the impact it has made in our community and the impact it would make on me personally. I’m happy to tell you all about it; I can’t say enough good things about this organization. And here’s another one for you! The Soper Reese Theatre in Lakeport is hosting New York Vocalist Astrid Kuljanic and Lake County favorite Ben Rosenblum on the 26th. They are kinda a big deal, and it’s not too late to get tickets! It looks like sunshine is in the forecast for the weekend. Here’s hoping for some great adventures. Have a great weekend Lake County!

20 Years, 25,000 Changed Lives: Operation Tango Mike

It’s another Thursday night in Lake County. We seem to be between rain storms, and even the sun has made an appearance as a promise of spring’s return. The sidewalks and streets of Lakeport are exchanging wet asphalt for dry. The day’s work is done, and most people are heading home for the evening. But on 11th Street, many are gathering, some strangers and some friends and acquaintances. My husband and I pull into the parking lot, dispersing a group of 4-H girls so we can park. Two men in Army uniforms approach the front doors to Umpqua Bank, and we know we are where we’re supposed to be on this third Thursday of the month in Lake County. 

What’s Up This Week – 3.17.23

This week, we’ve seen it all weather-wise. My husband and I had the pleasure of eating at Grilligan’s Island for the first time on Tuesday. While waiting for our meals, I looked out the window at the turbulent water on the lake. The wind was blowing, and the waves rolling as if we were at the ocean. What caught my eye was a pair of ducks floating on the surface as leisurely as if it were a fair day in May. The contrast astonished and delighted me to see nature unamazed or befuddled by some wind and rain. It put a smile on my face for sure. Another strange sight I saw this week during my travels was vineyards completely submerged by standing water on the Russian River. I guess that when we pray for rain, we need to be more specific on how much we would like at one time. This week we’re happy to tell you about our fantastic meal at Grilligan’s Island. Plus, Kathleen Scavone talks about banana slugs. Turns out that they do have a purpose in nature besides sharing their slime on hands or bare feet! Nope, I’m not a fan of them, but not everything in nature has to be my cup of tea. I hope we’ve all had a chance to enjoy the sunshine before we hunker down for more rain. Stay safe and have a great St. Patrick’s Day and weekend, Lake County.

Better Than a Three-Hour Tour: Grillagan’s Island

It’s a blustery day in Lake County. The wind whips the palm fronds stretched across the restaurant’s facade and across the highway, the lake, muddy brown, froths and splashes against the bulkhead of Lucerne Harbor Park. It’s cold, rainy, and miserable outside. But inside Grillagan’s island, it’s sunny, warm, and tropical. Calypso music plays on the speakers, tropical prints spread across the walls, and fishing nets hang from the ceiling. It’s the perfect place to get away on a short vacation and enjoy some great food. Cold, wet weather calls for grilled cheese and tomato soup; we all know that. And there’s no better place to enjoy it than at Grillagan’s Island. They specialize in grilled cheese and offer multiple ways to enjoy that delightful sandwich.

Going Bananas with the Banana Slug

A walk in any one of our county’s 32 parks can provide you with a saturated experience of sensations. Depending on the season, you may enjoy the depthless silhouettes of trees against the Technicolor smear of cloud cover, fog blurs of ducks as they decoy amongst the tule reeds along the lake, whole worlds encapsulated in water drops upon tender tips of pine needles, or you may enjoy birds and bugs singing about their homes. Famed photographer Ansel Adams said, “I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful – an endless prospect of magic and wonder.” Now, to some, the lowly banana slug may be a repulsive little critter, but as I took a brisk walk along the creek and nearly squashed one, I decided to take an up-close- and-personal look at the lowly little slug.

Backstage Lake County: The Rules of Comedy at MMS

The Middletown Middle School (MMS) is putting on their Spring play. This year, it’s The Rules of Comedy, by Peter Bloedel. I had never heard of this show, but since my son is doing the sound, I was able to read the script. And, boy is it a good one! The MMS students and director, Joleen Jessen, have some great material to work with. . The show runs Friday, March 17th and Saturday, March 18th in the cafeteria of the MMS campus.

What’s Up This Week – 3.10.23

Having lived in snow country, it’s easy to reminisce on its beauty and some of my favorite snow memories. I’ve even wondered if I would like to live further north someday just to have that experience again. I can honestly say the past two weeks have cured me of ever wanting to live where it seriously snows, and it becomes a very real and intimate part of my life. No, I think I prefer visiting the snow on occasion and having the snow visit me a few inches at a time before quickly melting away. Just today, the family took bets on when the three feet or more of snow piled on our patio will melt in these warmer temperatures. Mind you; it has to be all gone. My guess is Saturday, and if I win, I get a beer! If I lose, I might get a beer anyway, especially if it’s from Kelsey Creek Brewery. My husband and I stopped by only a few days ago, and I can tell you their spirits are as good as ever. On that note and considering this weather, it seems fitting to re-release a little piece we wrote on Buskin’ For Brewskies. It’s a great thing to do when the weather has you blue or thirsty, for that matter! We’re also excited to bring you our next Pay It Forward article, where Lori Armstong introduces us to Fixin’ It Up With Sandra. And if you’ve met Sandra, you know what a lovely person and business owner she is. It seems we are going from drought concerns to flood concerns this winter. Go figure. All I can say is, have a safe, dry and warm weekend, Lake County!

Buy Mike and Danny a Beer: Busking for Brewskis at Kelsey Creek Brewing

Tuesday afternoon in Kelseyville, August. Mike Guarniero and Danny Prather perch on barstools next to the front window, half-full beer glasses on the floor next to them. Danny’s taken the lead on a Neil Young tune he’s finishing, and odds are they’ll switch it around on the next song. Between the two of them, they could play all day and never repeat a tune. Danny gives a hearty strum on his guitar as the song ends, then grins as he leans over and takes a sip of his beer. Caroline Chavez, co-owner of Kelsey Creek, sees his glass empty and quickly brings over two full ones. “Now everybody,” she says, walking the smooth walk of a skilled bartender, “You all need to pitch in. I’m the only one buying them beer right now.” Mike and Danny happily grab their full brewskis, sip off the foam, and start a new song.

Pay it Forward: Fixin’ It Up With Sandra

Our latest Lake County business feature was Gillian Gallagher, owner of The Angry Baker Kitchen Store, who chose to Pay it Forward to Sandra Campos, owner of Fixin’ It Up with Sandra. The catch is that I will not choose the next business to interview, but the current spotlighted business will choose who I will interview next. Local businesses will Pay it Forward. Fixin’ It Up with Sandra is a unique store offering homemade and hand-selected distinctive gifts – everything from homemade festive wreaths to room sprays to a wide array of homemade candles and more.

What’s Up This Week – 3.3.23

Well, I can’t say that snow is all that unusual in Lake County, especially for those of us who live in the higher elevations. But, I will also mention that I don’t know that I have seen that much snow accumulation in a twenty-four-hour period of time since I’ve lived on Cobb. There’s being snowed in, and then there is twenty inches of snow and ice snowed in without power just to add to the fun. Luckily there were no emergencies at our home to cause us too much distress. It was much more of an adventure than drama. We finally got to do the one thing we’ve always wanted to do–sled from the top of our property all the way down to the street. And when I say “we,” I really mean “my kids.” Never mind, they are all either teens or young adults. But when it snows, age really doesn’t matter, does it? This week I can’t think of anything better to write about other than our recent snow days, just because. I hope you had your own epic snow adventures to remember, especially when we hit the triple digits in just a few months! Hard to imagine that for sure. This week we’re also excited to publish a local, emerging author, India Akua Mendonça. Her piece is where we usually publish poetry. And be sure to catch up with Kathleen Scavone as she talks about seeds. Happy almost spring, everyone, and have a safe and great weekend!

Snow Day

The early morning sun’s bright winter yellow-blue hues glow between the slats of the window shades. There’s a stillness and unearthly quiet that can only mean one thing–the world is covered in a blanket of snow. Consciousness continues to drift in as a low hum of a generator from a distant neighbor pierces the stillness telling everyone the power is out. The realization that today is a snow day announces itself as a fact, not a maybe. No one is going to work or school today. Mother nature has decided that for us. Another reality sinks in–there’s no rush, no hurry to start the day or to leave the comfort of a warm bed. A smile and sigh seem the only definite choice for this moment.

Seeds- Nature’s Book of Knowledge

As I was juicing some fragrant apples left for us by the visiting black bears, I held some of the shiny mahogany-colored apple seeds in my hands. I recalled the kids’ entertaining themselves by stringing seeds for necklaces after using my super heavy, old Champion juicer back in the day. Simple pleasures. The apple seeds also brought to mind the diverse ways nature has of distributing seeds. Seed dispersal is unique to each species.

What’s Up This Week – 2.24.23

This week we’ve gone from T-shirt weather to snow again in Lake County. It’s a gentle reminder it’s still very much winter here in Northern California. The highlight of my week was tasting a twenty-year-old port wine when I picked up my wine club shipment. My husband and first tasted this port when it was ten years old and have been waiting in great anticipation for its twenty-year release. All I can say is it was like a Christmas present in a glass. There was no denying I was a fan of how it turned out. My only regret was not bringing home a second bottle so I wouldn’t have to decide whether to save this bottle for a “special” occasion or to enjoy it now. These are just some of the great joys and burdens of living in arguably one of the world’s best wine regions. How lucky are we! This week we wrap up our winter camping series with a surprise. It’s not often we leave Lake County, but this adventure does just that. We’re also excited to share the next Pay It Forward article featuring another locally-owned business. A hats off to you for braving the weather and supporting our local businesses this weekend. Whatever your plans are, please be safe out there and have a great weekend Lake County.

Camping, Part 6: Surfing

There we sat week after week, watching the surf and our kids attempting to catch the perfect wave to ride into shore. Occasionally they got carried in standing, but more often than not, they came into shore tumbling and rolling. The thought of joining them in the wash cycle of the ocean didn’t seem all that appealing. Onlookers looked on with a little envy and wonder. There is definitely the feeling that those in the water were the cool people, and those of us on the beach in our dry clothes were definitely missing out. They were in the water, and we were not. Plain and simple. 

Pay It Forward – The Angry Baker Kitchen Store

I am happy to present to you our second local business spotlighted in the Pay it Forward feature – The Angry Baker Kitchen Store. The Angry Baker Kitchen Store is a boutique kitchen store offering unique gifts, expansive classes, gift registry and gift cards. Gillian has been known to create some mouth-watering temptations available at her store – everything from shortbread cookies to vanilla white chocolate cupcakes and much more.  

Camping in Lake County, Part 5: Quail Mesa Ranch

The cool crisp air and clear nights make winter a great time of year for RV exploring. A stillness can almost be felt as nature slumbers in these shorter days and long nights. But it’s no bother with the added layer of a blanket and a hot beverage next to the crackling campfire, the only sound to be heard on this dark, peaceful night. Welcome to Quail Mesa Ranch, your Harvest Host for the evening. 

Newts- Nature’s Cute and Stocky Amphibians

January’s rains brought out a bevy of newts. Rather, I should say an ‘armada’ of newts, as the collective noun is called! According to the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website, up until now, the newts have been undercover, hiding beneath stones, leaf matter, in crevices, and under stumps where they hibernate during the cold weather.

Pay it Forward: Infinity Consignment Boutique

Our local businesses deserve some love after the challenges from Covid-19 and our recent struggling economy. Every month two Lake County businesses will be highlighted through a unique series of questions. The catch is that I will not choose the next business to interview, but the current spotlighted business will choose who I will interview next. Local businesses will Pay it Forward.

Backstage Lake County: Romantic Fools

Ten years ago, local theatre couple John Tomlinson and Barbara Clark shared the stage “examining love, lust, dating, and romance” in the two-person comedy Romantic Fools by Rich Orloff. Now, a decade later and married to each other, they are re-examining these characters and taking us along for the ride.

Camping in Lake County, Part 4: Six Sigma Ranch

By mid-summer 2022, We’d become experts at RV camping. We found some kind of compromise between the comforts of RVing and the nostalgia of tent camping. While we enjoyed the comforts of a bathroom and kitchen on wheels, glamping chairs, and carpet to boot, we decided the sleeping bags would stay. After years of tent camping, sheets seemed wrong, while zip-up flannel bags somehow seemed like a token to the good old days, even in summer. This was our final resolution between the two worlds.

Rain Power

Recent cloud cover over Lake County sets a hopeful scene for much-needed rain. Normally, our county is the recipient of around 37 inches of the elixir of life. It does a heart good to witness the greening of our hills and valleys. Then, deer, elk, and large avian species such as ravens and turkeys stand out like silhouettes amongst the greensward. With almost any amount of precipitation, the liquid that makes life on our planet possible prompts our creeks and lakes to gleam and flicker as flashes of water flow into the various coffers.

Far From Ordinary: Andre’s Lounge

“Do you hear that?” I asked after just stepping out of the Gaslight Grill on Main Street Lakeport. It was an ordinary Thursday evening, or so I thought. The winter chill and seasonal lights brought a festive glow and the perfect ending after a delicious dinner. We’d just finished a mouth-watering bacon blue cheese burger, fried pickles, a fresh seasonal salad, and a pint of good beer. It’s always the perfect meal experience with the friendliest faces and consistently some of the best food in Lakeport.

That Hole in the Wall: Asian Dragon

I’ll never forget the first time I found my favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant. You know the place I’m talking about. It’s all about the food, convenience, comfort, and, most of all, consistency. No, this isn’t where you go for a business meeting. You go there because it’s quick, convenient, and your personal favorite spot for any number of reasons. 

Nature’s Repeating Patterns

A morning walk has me thinking about patterns in nature. The pinecone I happen upon has arranged itself into a swirl of notches and seeds. Logic and order lays itself out as though it is nothing out of the ordinary. Patterns in nature inspire both admiration and curiosity. Of course, human curiosity is nothing new, since philosophers and mathematicians have been pondering petals of a flower or observing the pattern of a tree’s rings for centuries.

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