COLUMNS

THE BEST WAY TO SPEND A FRIDAY NIGHT IN LAKEPORT

The hum of boats on the lake fills the background as growing shadows dance further and further out into the rippling water. Live music swells from the gazebo in Library Park. Children play in the playground, and the sounds of their laughter mix with the rhythm of the band. This moment in time is one of my favorite reasons for living in Lake County. I take my first sip of Chardonnay. The sun finally rests behind the roofline of Juicy’s Pizza and the roar of unmuffled racecar engines drifts our way from Lakeport Speedway. We consider our choices for the rest of the evening. We could leave the concert in the Park, catch the races and still make it to the drive-in. We decide to box up our pizzas and put off our decision for a while. 

Poetry Everywhere: The Main Street Poetry Box Project

Clear Lake Campground rests on the edge of Cache Creek and has welcomed visitors for decades. RVs, tents, and trailers stretch along the creek’s banks. Kids play ping pong under the covered patio; an older couple sits in their foldup chairs, sipping on coffee. It’s another summer Saturday at the campground. But there’s excitement near the office, where Lisa Wilson, owner of Clear Lake Campground, Georgina Marie, Lake County Poet Laureate, and Gary Maes, the mastermind behind the Main St. Poetry Boxes, check the alignment of the newest poetry box. You may have bumped into a poetry box while wandering down Main Street in Kelseyville or wandered by one in Middletown. There, if you take a second, you’ll notice a well-made wooden box mounted to a wall, a poem tacked inside. It’s all part of a plan to spread poetry throughout the county.

My Friend Gene

I first met Gene three years ago at Judy’s Junction in Upper Lake over a cup of coffee to discuss publishing his Lake County History serially. By the time I got there, he was already sitting in a booth, coffee in hand, waiting for me. Even in his 90’s, Gene had a large presence. Sure, he walked with a hunch and held a cane, but the years he spent playing football and bodybuilding had left their mark. As I talked with him, he stretched his arms wide to make a point, and they reached out past the edges of the booth, able to encompass not just the table but me as well.

Finca Castelero: A Hidden Retreat

Summer’s bright mid-day rays shine through the green rows of an expansive pear orchard, reaching towards Mt. Konocti. Directly behind, acres of grapevines stretch towards Kelseyville. Far above in the oak trees, two pairs of curious eyes peer out from their residential barn owl home as if curious to see who we are and what we’re doing far below.

“It was the trees. That’s what we first fell in love with when we saw the property.” Christie White, co-owner of Finca Castelero, motions upward with her arms, showing us the owl house they built, as we walk towards the barn. It’s obvious how one would fall in love with the oaks expanding far above the Airbnb cottages, not only bringing shade but that charm that comes with larger-than-life oak trees. Oh, the stories I could tell and the stories still to be shared, they seem to say.

Backstage Lake County: Meet Middletown High School’s New Drama Teacher

After many years, Mrs. Cynthia Radford has retired and one of her former students, Carrie Ann Eve, is stepping up to take her place. Eve will be teaching Drama for the ninth through twelfth grades, Advanced Theatre, and Technical Design. She will also take over the Drama Club and the National Thespian Society for Middletown. She was the President of the Middletown High School Branch when she was a student at Middletown High School and she finds it pretty cool that she’s come full circle.

Essential Lake County: The Boat Races

The odor of heated fiberglass fills the air. I’m trying to keep up with what’s happening but can’t see through the smoke of the car with the blown head gasket trying to round turn one. Who’s in first? It doesn’t matter. A roar comes from the crowd watching turn three. It looks like a couple of boats got stuck together, and one car’s dragging the other around the track. I glance at it for a second, then get distracted by the major crash happening directly in front of the grandstands. A boat’s disconnected from its chain and cartwheels in front of the Blazer. The driver twitches the steering wheel, not to avoid it, but to ensure he gets a direct hit. He aims directly for the bow, and it explodes into a spray of fiberglass and old steering cables.

Juneteenth Celebration at MAC Brings Good Vibes

In honor of Juneteenth, Freedom Day, the Middletown Art Center joined with several Lake County musicians, performers, and chefs this past weekend to celebrate the newly established national holiday. The evening’s events began in the back studio of the MAC as an intimate group of guests listened to an on-stage conversation between Clovice Lewis, musician, composer, and educator who shared his story of music, race, and social justice with host Sabrina Klein. Lewis graciously expressed his love for playing the cello and the genre he coined “Jazzical,” jazz and classical style combinations, both of which were major influences in his past.

Get Your Dose of Local at Kelseyville’s Side Street Market

Sabrina Andrus, owner of A+H General Store and maker. roams the side street, a big smile on her maskless face. “This is a new thing for me,” she says, referring to the novelty of being outdoors with other people and no masks. “It feels a bit weird.” She and her sister Caitlin are the co-visionaries behind the market and have created a place where people can enjoy high-quality, locally crafted goods. It’s not a farmers’ market, though there is produce, and it’s not a craft fair, though there are candles and soap. Instead, it’s a market for the many artisans that live in Lake County. The sisters are proud to note that everything sold at the market is grown, produced, or made here in Lake County.

Pick up Some Spectacular Spices at Thai American Market

Every time I have been to Thai American Market, I’ve been impressed with how Dale and Yupa go out of their way to make Asian food accessible. It’s easy to walk into an Asian market in the city and have absolutely no idea of what to purchase. I’ve walked out of stores with a can of quail eggs and three different types of rice noodles, only to go home and have no idea of what to do with them. That won’t happen at Thai American Market, because neither Dale nor Yupa would never allow it. Just walk into the market, tell him what you want to make, and they will walk you through exactly what you need to create that perfect Asian dish to impress your spouse and friends. He even places recipes along the shelves, just in case you see something but aren’t sure how to make it.

Around Here It’s Always The Ripe Choice

May winds blustered their way around Ripe Choice Farm’s barn, hurrying in the late arrivals of the Konocti Women’s Service Club (KWSC) luncheon. A few ladies stood in line to pick up a glass of wine, but most everyone had gathered inside, talking as if they hadn’t seen each other in years. In fact, it had been over a year since they had met, making this more like a family reunion than a meeting. Ladies gathered around the tables scattered throughout the barn, each decorated with wildflowers and tablecloths, making the barn warm and welcoming.

A Journey Seven Years in the Making: Middletown Farmers’ Market

We spot Ben Hittle as we walk into the Farmers’ Market in Middletown. He stands underneath a gigantic oak tree, sunglasses pulled up onto the striped beanie pulled tight on his head. He’s selling trees. “It’s a cedar,” he tells us, his blonde goatee framing his smile, “and it can only be found in two places in Lake County. It’s an endangered species.” “That’s incredible,” I reply. “What type of cedar is it? “I don’t know,” he responds. “I’ve looked for hours and spent way too much time on the phone trying to figure it out. Nobody knows. No,” he pauses. “Somebody knows. I’ll find them.”

Rooted in Poety Podcast, Episode 1: An Interview with Beulah Vega

In our inaugural episode, Georgina Marie discusses poetry with poet Beulah Vega. Beulah Vega is a writer, poet, and theatrical artist living and working in California’s Bay Area. Her poetry has been published in The Literary Nest, Sage Cigarettes, Walled Women, and Blood & Bourbon among others. Her first book of poetry, ‘A Saga for the Unrequited’, will be published in August of 2021 by Fae Corps Publishing. And her theatrical production company: Heroines, Harpies, and Harlots will present the second annual Sonoma County Women’s theater festival “In Their Own Voice” starting May 8th. She will also be reading as part of the Eclipse Lit launch party/American Foundation for Suicide Prevention fundraiser on May 22nd. She is still amazed when people refer to her as a writer, every time. To listen, follow this link or visit https://www.lakecountybloom.com/rootedinpoetry

I Love Poison Oak

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.

SPRINGTIME IN HIGHLAND SPRINGS: THE BEST PLACE TO BE

The blue and emerald lake opens before us on the trail, like the sky cutting deep into the ground. Under the shade of the slender oak trees me, my brother and my dad look at the freshly green hills rimming the water. Under my hiking boots, baby grass carpets the ground with Spring. We decide to take the trail around the lake, though all the trails at Highland Spring are magnificent this time of year with the scent of Spring lingering in the air. Small blue flowers scatter the ground, like a handful of diamonds that slipped from someone’s pocket. And tall, dusty purple wildflowers grow with long and dark stems, their buds dispersing in different directions from the top, like poufy hair or a chandelier.

Retrotastic: Step Back in Time at the Lunchbox Museum

The Laughing Lady leans back and guffaws, her huge, smiling body rocking. Meanwhile, the boy above her sticks his tongue out, then slowly draws it back in. The nutcracker wiggles back and forth eagerly, while blackbirds desperately try to get out of the pie. But it’s just getting started. The kittens search for their lost mittens, while Giannini from the Bank of Italy in San Francisco looks on impassively. The Fonz, the Man From U. N. C. L. E, and Atom Ant all make an appearance, as does Fozzie Bear. It’s just another afternoon at the Lunchbox Museum in Nice, where Deb Clarke showcases her massive collection of retro Americana.

Backstage Lake County: Minnie Cannon Elementary Hosts Virtual Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

During a time when everything has been uncertain, a group of students at Minnie Cannon Elementary School have managed to hold on to a little bit of normalcy. In January of 2020 Sharon Huggins, the fifth grade teacher and the 2019-2020 Minnie Cannon Teacher of the Year, decided she wanted to start a book club to share her love of reading with some of her students. She chose The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy even though it was above grade level because it “appealed to her sense of humor, love of science, and goofy nature.”

Complimentary Tastings, Free Appetizers, Discounts on Rooms – Why Wouldn’t You Want to Get a Lake County Winery Passport?

Spring’s in the air, and it’s a great time to get out and support some of our local wineries and businesses. And what better way to do it than by getting a Winery Passport? It’s got complimentary tasting at eighteen Lake County wineries, plus a host of other perks. Pick up a free appetizer at the Saw Shop Public House when you purchase an entry, enjoy a complimentary kayak rental from Clearlake Campground, or get a discount on a room at one of several places, such as the Tallman Hotel or The Lodge at Blue Lakes. You’ll pay $66.95 per passport, and once you go to a couple of wineries, you’ll have paid for it already. For more information about the program and to purchase, head to the Lake County Winery Association Website.

It’s February. How’s Your New Year’s Resolution Holding Up? Give it A Fresh Start at Mix Lakeport

“We’re creating healthy alternatives for people,” Josh says, finishing up the smoothie while Margie rings up the customer. “When I discovered this, I worked at the post office, and Margie was at CVS. Hang on.” He pulls out his phone and scrolls through it. “Here it is.” He flips the screen our way, showing a picture of him with a neck brace. “I had to go through neck and spine surgery and felt terrible. But I lost 100 pounds in ten months, and feel great. Margie lost 50 pounds.” He’s bouncing around the shop, full of energy.
Margie’s just as excited as Josh. “It’s a healthy café,” she adds. “We have protein waffles, protein donuts, vegan options, and a fitness and recovery menu. “We are making a healthy, active lifestyle hub. It’s more than coming in and getting shakes.”

Greenview Restaurant at Hidden Valley Lake: From Planning to Pivoting

Hidden Valley Lake is located in the southern part of Lake County where residents can enjoy more than a dozen amenities in and around the 102-acre lake including a semi-private 18-hole championship golf course and modern camping facilities. The Hidden Valley Lake Association supports more than 100 jobs in hospitality, private security, landscape maintenance, finance and other industries.

See A Need, Fill A Need; How an Essential Middletown Business is Supporting Community During the Pandemic

While unloading disposable surgical masks and hand sanitizers for Middletown area small businesses and nonprofits recently, we asked Chanele Hellwege why she started her shipping, packing and vehicle registration business on Hwy 175 in Middletown, she responded, “See a need, fill a need.” And that is how Middletown Mail and More got started.

Got Some Writing Skills and Want to Make Some Cash? The Bloom is Looking for Restaurant and Winery Reviews

The Bloom seeks quality restaurant and winery reviews. If you love Lake County’s food and wine and have the ability to tell a story, get in touch with us. We’re looking for storytellers, not reporters, and consider the ability to communicate an experience of vital importance. For more information, check out our submission guidelines.

Holiday Reading from The Bloom: A Child’s Christmas in Wales

Over the years, our family has enjoyed some Christmas reading. We’ve read through The Little Match Girl, The Elves and the Shoemaker, A Christmas Carol, Sherlock Holmes and The Adventures of the Blue Carbuncle, and many other great stories. But one of our favorites is poet Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales, which we read every Christmas Eve. It’s a beautiful story that shares Christmas memories from over one hundred years ago. If you’re looking for an enjoyable short read, here’s a link to a public domain version:http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks07/0701261h.html

A Perfect Place for Last-Minute Presents: Lakeside Arts and Gifts

It’s the holidays in Lake County. The pale winter sun reflects in spots and flashes off Clear Lake. A few bass boats putt along the shoreline, their owners flicking their lures into nooks and crevices, then winding them slowly in. At the nearby park, a couple sits at a picnic bench, eating lunch. And hidden off to the side, tucked like a treasure to the left of the boat launch, sits Lakeside Arts and Gifts.

A Gamer’s Paradise: The Game Hub

Kyle’s owned The Game Hub for ten years now, and he’s gotten to know his customers. “I wanted to be a teacher,” he says, “but went a different direction. I fell in love with running a business. But it’s cool to see people grow up and keep coming in.”
As he chats, his daughter pulls white sticker off a label sheet and puts it on his hoodie.
“What you doing?” he says kindly. “Are you putting stickers on my back?”
“No, she replies, then waits for him to turn around before putting another one on.

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