Thursday, June 30, 2016


silliness ahead, but first

joy of the season
    This lovely specimen is an Amaryllis and is generally known as a Christmas bloomer. At least that is normal but this gift to Lana from daughter Katherine has chosen summer to bloom.

   And to keep it interesting, a companion is also preparing to bloom.
    And all of this makes perfect sense as we have begun our tradition of "re-visiting" the past season's Christmas cards.
    A few years ago Lana suggested we spend a few minutes each evening after dinner looking at last season's cards, enjoying them again and remembering those who sent them.
    Though many have abandoned the "old" custom of sending cards, I remain hooked on the sentiment, beauty and civilized act. In the rush of the season the cards are often read hurriedly. Bringing them back for act II is fun, refreshing and stirs a wee bit of that spirit-lifting Christmas cheer. Now with the Amaryllis in bloom let me wish you A Merry Christmas.
     Dickens had it right.

    So, lets drill down and unpack this journalistic narrative sans the big data and pivot to media jackals who must have decided not to go there, there being a moment to listen to themselves. Hashtag, #!
     How many times have you heard some talking head talk about the "pivot" to--who knows what all or whatever? In most recent usage it has been the pivot to the general election. But maybe they really want to pivot to # hashtag!
     It's one of those buzz words that are cliche' almost the moment they are uttered. Whatever!
     In the recent past there was the "let's drill down" a newer version of "let's unpack this" whatever.
     Oh you say you "don't want to go there?" Sorry. That's our "Narrative."  You know, narrative can also be historical.  What was the silliest thing I heard? "Barrack Obama's historical narrative was more important than Hillary Clinton's narrative and that's why he won 8 years ago."  
     You'd think narrative was maybe something they wore, or a body part, as important as it was. Could it have been a #narrative? 
      But we won't go there, since most people have decided they have already been there or figured being there wasn't so bad. So, maybe it is safe to go there. Whatever!
      And maybe going there is what gave everyone this uncontrolled desire to say hashtag. I must be utterly un-hip. When someone sneezes I want to say Hashtag! 
      So, so now when someone comments or begins to answer a question they frequently begin with So,.  That is so, with a pause.  Is that a thinking moment, a deep breath moment or whatever? I think maybe their brain is just about to do a #pivot.
      Not sure what the big data would say about any of this.
      Can we pivot to the #English teachers, #writing teachers, #journalism professors, #editors and ask WTF? When did whatever pivot from being the tool of hormonal teens to a frequently used word of illumination and enlightenment from #television experts?  Must have been a stealth pivot about the time Facebook became a journalistic institution. 

     See you down the trail.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


     Spotted at twilight a young red shouldered hawk. As Dave our bird expert neighbor tells me, the species is not dimorphic so the sex can not be determined. It is an impressive raptor. 

      This is the tale of two Billionaires, both of them doing business in our beloved Paso Robles wine region and what a difference there is.
      You've read recently of Stewart and Lynda Resnick admitting they "were asleep at the wheel" when their Wonderful Corporation cut thousands of California live oak trees, denuded a hill side and without permission began building a reservoir that would suck millions of gallons frightening neighbors their wells would dry up. The Resnicks, who purchased the once prestigious Justin Winery, said they were "ashamed and embarrassed" as San Luis Obispo County continues an investigation.
      Then there is a billionaire you may never of heard of but who has done much to make this a better planet. He also owns a winery.

       Hansjorg Wyss was educated in Switzerland as an engineer and earned an MBA from Harvard. He sold his medical equipment manufacturing firm for $21.3 billion. Since then he has become "one of the most philanthropic people in the world" according to Forbes Magazine. 
      In one instance Wyss gave $250 million to Harvard to establish a cross discipline institute for biologically inspired engineering. Read here about its extraordinary work.
          Around the world his philanthropic giving is making a huge mark in science, conservation, the environment and more. He's leaving an indelible mark on wine making as well.
     He purchased the Halter Ranch Winery and added another 900 acres on which he created a preserve for the California oaks, the kind the Resnicks were decimating. He also added a wildlife corridor and began diligent water reclamation and protection, the opposite of the Resnick ethos. 
     Before he created the modern Halter Ranch Winery he had a team look at the best practices of grape growing, harvest, wine making, resource use and all aspects of the industry all over the planet. He then began to establish and improve on those best practices in what could well be the most efficient winery in the world.
    His manager, Skylar Stuck is exemplary of the class of the operation.  Stuck is a Johns Hopkins economist. It is my guess an objective of the Halter Ranch operation is to create a model of the absolute best way to operate a vineyard and winery with regards to resource use and protection, sustainability, efficiency, viticulture, wine making, customer relations, marketing and good citizenship.
     Halter Ranch has some 20 thousand feet of storage caves. They have a water conservation and gray water reclamation process that would be the envy of municipalities. 
      The Resnick operation, which also sells Fiji Water and Pom Wonderful, has been to dilute the quality of a once great winery by seeking more volume and sales which led to the trouble they are in.
       Wyss and Halter Ranch are continuing to fine tune sustainability, responsible agriculture and sound practices. In the long run, and the short as well, the model for the rest of the world is the intelligence, care, quality, precision and ethic of Wyss and Halter Ranch. There is more to life than the chasing of commoditization. 
       Wyss and Halter demonstrate one can be corporate and large but maintain a conscience. And they make an excellent wine!

can you see it?
     The frame below is a kind of eye test. Can you spot the "walking stick?"  The insect hides well. Identifying it is made a bit tougher by the somewhat out of focus head. It was a challenge to shoot and the thing was terribly uncooperative with the photographer.

local culture
   a wonderful brunch in Diane's garden
very provencale'
Zongo time in Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo
concert season is underway

the extraordinary Symphony Jeunesse
middle and high school students from San Bernardino
directed by Miche'le Brosseau-Tacchia
performing in Cambria
    See you down the trail.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Make restitution in Paso Wine Region
    The Tribune reporter Lindsey Holden reports Stewart and Lynda Resnick, owners of Justin Vineyards say "they were asleep at the wheel" when their company cut thousands of oak trees, denuded a large hill side and began work on an illegal holding pond that would have sucked 6 million gallons of water, frightening nearby neighbors and farmers worried about their wells. Holden quotes them as saying they are "ashamed and sorry."
     The good news is they plan to give the 380 acre parcel to a local nonprofit group and say they are looking for conservation opportunities. They promise to plant 5 thousand new oaks.  
      As we have noted previously neighbors and other growers were worried by the Resnick actions. Since our original posts the LA Times and the San Luis Obispo Tribune and other media have given the growing story a lot of attention. Major restaurants have dropped Justin Wine from their menus and boycotts of the Resnick products Fiji Water, Pom Wonderful and Justin wine have begun. All of these products are produced by Wonderful Company. 
      The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors issued stop work orders and is investigating potential violations.  
       Holden reports Wonderful reported income of $3.8 billion 
  in 2014.  Since the Resnick purchase of the prestigious Justin label from Justin Baldwin they've experienced staff turnover, loss of a premier winemaker, have increased production levels and begun a mass marketing campaign.
Long time fans have dropped membership in the wine club and complained about the drop in quality of the product. The Justin operation is "corporate" while the majority of Paso Robles appellation winemakers are smaller, independent, boutique, mom and pop and artisan.

Moonstone Beach, Cambria Ca     
    It is always a good place to clear your head. Politics, discord, warm temperatures and whatever disappear in the breeze and lullaby of the surf.

the intersection 
 the solo walker
 the mystery of where rocks land-why here?

 closer looks

 the world awaits

In a Council Chamber not far away
   The once revered Justin Winery took a verbal beating before the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors investigating land use irregularities and tree cutting on Justin property.
    Lindsey Holden of the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports dozens of farmers, residents and environmentalists decried practises by the winery owned by Stewart Resnick and his Wonderful Company.
     The county is considering penalties for trying to build a water storage pond and grading violations that neighbors say threaten their wells.
      Supervisor Bruce Gibson is quoted as saying "it is the most appalling demonstration of corporate greed I've seen in a very long time."
       Holden reports Chairwoman Lynn Compton told of how growers talk about how they grew up respecting the land and caring for it  "And then you have some out of town corporation....and they really come in and spoil it for everyone."
      As we posted previously, when Justin Baldwin owned the winery his product was highly regarded. Since sale to the Resnick group the wine appears to be just another commodity in a business that sells Fiji Water, Pom Wonderful and other products. Several fine dining establishments have dropped Justin and many former fans talk about a cheapening of the product. The ethos of Justin seems entirely out of place and character in the Paso Robles appellation which is gaining reputation for quality and a friendly and accessible counterpoint to Napa, a corporate wine region. 
      The Board of Supervisors is considering new Oak protection ordinances for that rural area, similar to those in place elsewhere.

The Gun Fight
    It appears the next battle ground for gun control, safety and regulation will be in state legislatures. The Supreme Court has permitted state regulation, consistent with their rulings on the Second Amendment. Further the US Congress is impotent and under the control of the NRA and their fellow gun industry lobbyists.  
    The state level fight worked for previous social issues, including marriage. In addition former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg vows to fight the NRA perversion of Congress. He's probably got deeper pockets and is a lot tougher than LaPierre.

    Interesting times we inhabit eh?

    Remember to take a walk once in a while.
    See you down the trail.

Monday, June 20, 2016


      As temperatures "over the hill" on the other side of the Santa Lucia mountains rise, it draws moisture from the Pacific through the Templeton Gap, Highway 46, and leaves this side of the range shrouded in a cool marine fog.
    It ghosts in, filling valleys and creating a mood and ambiance. Evening is the preferred time of this cooling mist during summer. We can transition from bright cobalt sky and sun to a wispy fog in just moments.

or leave
    Boomers grew up with the concept of "the melting pot," America as place where diverse cultures met and lived jointly. Somewhere along the timeline it became important to some that they not share a common good and still honor their unique history, instead they became tribal, standing off and finding fault with meeting in the middle. Subsequently sub groups grew, denigrating shared culture and fostering an attitude that a melting pot culture was wrong. Now there are some who would destroy what we have become to live according to their precepts, imposing them. Yes there are external threats, Isis and that sort, but homegrown separatists exist. I'm not sure how it happened, when the disrespect began, when narrow and selfish emerged. Thank heavens that view remains less than normative, but it's growing. As generations spend more time on screens and less in real life interaction I wonder if we only exacerbate it.
Diversity, where heritage and culture are celebrated is beautiful and makes the whole stronger and more interesting.


African Guitar Summit at Live Oak Music Festival
    Frequent readers have seen previous posts from the Live Oak Music Festival, a premiere fund raiser for central California coast public radio, KCBX.
    Nestled in a magnificent live oak grove near Lake Cachuma and the San Marcos pass north of Santa Barbara, it is a weekend of magnificent music, camping, family gathering, fun and merchandise.
     This year's snap shots tend toward the vendors.

   As they say "peace, love and dirt." It's become a multi generational affair over the last 28 years. This year daughter Katherine joined us for the first time and she too approved!

     As the county continues its investigation of the Justin Winery ownership for large scale cutting of oak trees, improper land clearing and lying about their intent, a boycott of Justin wines has begun.
     Several San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles restaurants have dropped Justin wines. Individuals are stopping their purchase of Justin as well. Once owned and operated by Justin Baldwin, it is now the province of Stewart Resnick's big business empire that includes Fiji water, Pom Wonderful and other products.
     Neighbors have expressed concern about Justin's  intention to build a lake or reservoir that would have sucked huge amounts of water out of the already hard pressed aquifer. Longtime fans complain about the change the new owners have brought to a once prestige wine maker and for the attitude they evince in a friendly and family like wine region. Stay tuned.

    See you down the trail.