Saturday, July 10, 2021
Sunday, July 4, 2021
Above is Untitled Collage No. 224 (Santa Rosa). September 15, 2020. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monotype, collage. Image size 12.0 x 12.6cm (4.7 x 5.0 inches). Matted to 11 x 14 inches. Signed on the mat. Signed and dated on the reverse.
Below is Untitled Collage No. 225 (Santa Rosa). October 15, 2020. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monotype, collage. Image size 6.4 x 6.1cm (2.5 x 2.4 inches). Matted to 8 x 10 inches. Signed on the mat. Signed and dated on the reverse.
Click on the images for a larger view. For more of my abstract monotype collage work, visit my website. https://ctalcroft.wixsite.com/collage-site
Saturday, July 3, 2021
They decided to take this journey in 1990, shortly after the Soviet Union fell apart. Many advised them not to go or offered them only half-hearted encouragement along with vague warnings. But go they did. They slept in haystacks, churches, the homes of strangers, and dismal hotels in some of the poorest parts of Europe, where time seems to have passed more slowly than elsewhere in the world. They are met sometimes with indifference or incredulity, sometimes with hostility, but most often with surprisingly generous hospitality.
Godwin's On Foot to the Golden Horn (Picador, 1993) is a dreamy travelogue written in evocative prose that seemed worth the time it took to read, although I was never entirely sure of the motive that prompted the adventure and the end seemed a bit anti-climactic; Istanbul was the end-point of the trip, but the story ends just as the travelers arrive there. Godwin's mystery series, featuring the eunuch Yashim as the detective, are more informative about the city itself—or at least about Istanbul as it once was.
I don't understand the chemistry exactly, but it appears that grapes absorb smoke through their skins (and more easily the closer the smoke exposure is to harvest). That exposure can lead to the presence in the grapes (and any wine made from them) of volatile phenols that we perceive as off flavors and scents (I understand the main culprits are free guaiacol and 4-methylguaiacol).
I went ahead and harvested our grapes and made wine from them. The Sangiovese, as usual, I made into rosé, thinking that the short time rosé wines spend on the skins during the winemaking process would reduce any smoke effects. The resulting wine is a bit more pungent than usual, but quite drinkable. The Cabernet, on the other hand, smelled funky from the outset and sampling the young wine suggested it was beyond hope. As a result, I neglected it. I couldn't quite bring myself to dump it out, although I had resolved to do just that. Time went on. It sat in its containers, on the lees, until last week without racking. Normally it would have been racked into clean containers, treated lightly with sulfites, and I would have added oak staves sometime around December or January, after malolactic fermentation finished.
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Click on the image for a larger view. For more unintended art, see my blog Serendipitous Art.
I'm hoping that wildfires won't be an issue this year, but the winter of 2020-2021 was one of the driest on record. While that is good for suppressing mildew, it doesn't bode well for fires in the area.
In the entryway to the house, 12 gallons of Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc from 2020 still sits, neglected, in large glass containers. I had given up on it. It had an off smell and taste caused by the smoke and the ash that dusted the vines at the end of the season. After doing some research, I decided the only way to save it might be to have it distilled into brandy, but the companies I called said the smallest batch they do is 200 gallons. I had given up on it but had been able to bring myself to dump it out. And so it has been sitting and still it sits. But, yesterday, I tasted it it for the first time in a couple of months (it should have been racked and sulfited already many weeks ago), and, strangely, the taint seems to be gone..... Perhaps it will be worth taking to completion after all?
I'm hoping for the best this year. So far, the bees seem happy. They are bringing in nectar and pollen from the sea of flowers blooming in the garden, which is near its spring peak.
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
The book was slow going in large part because of the extraordinary detail it goes into about Hogarth the man, his work, his milieu, and the London that was the backdrop to his life, including a great deal about the politics of the day—a subject I always find hard to follow and retain.
I had always thought of Hogarth (or my Hogarth/Daumier person?) as a printmaker and satirist. Perhaps the greatest revelation reading Hogarth was the realization that Hogarth was a fine painter, and rather more down to Earth than the best-known painters of the generation that followed him—Gainesborough and Reynolds—who always strike me as being somewhat too refined (a matter of taste, of course). I had never really thought about how Hogarth worked, but I suspect, if asked, I would have assumed his famous prints were conceived as prints, engraved from sketches, but it seems that Hogarth in most cases did full-blown oil paintings of the subjects that became his prints and that the prints were engravings of the paintings, often cut by Hogarth himself, who got his start apprenticed to an engraver (although as he got older and busier, some of his work was engraved for him by others).
The complexity of the prints is extraordinary and because so much of the detail refers to contemporary events and people, a good portion of their meaning is likely lost on most modern viewers without some kind of annotation, and Uglow provides that, bringing each of the major works to life, pointing out the significance of the smallest details.
She fleshes out Hogarth, the man, too—as the painter and famed satirical printmaker he became—but also as a supporter of native British artists facing what he thought was too much fuss over artists from the continent working in Britain, as a champion of the rights of engravers (he was in large part responsible for legislation that helped protect engravers from piracy), and as a philanthropist (he was very much involved in the founding of London's first institution to protect abandoned babies, which, shockingly, Uglow points out, were common at the time, often left by the side of the road or somewhere equally exposed, to die. The book's subtitle—A Life and a World—is apt. Recommended as a portrait of a man, of a great city, and of a bygone age.
Monday, March 15, 2021
Since last reporting, we have had rain on and off, mostly recently yesterday, March 14. We've had 1.70 inches of new rain. That brings our total for the 2020-2021 rain year to 12.00 inches--still very, very low. By this time of year, normal rainfall is usually about 30 inches. Rain is in the forecast again for later this week. We'll see....
[Since writing the above, we've had an additional 0.7 niches or rain, bringing our total for the current rain year to 12.70 inches. The above still applies. We have had very little rain this year. This is the lowest level of rain we've had in the 20 years I've lived in Santa Rosa.]
Sunday, February 28, 2021
Click on the image for a larger view. For more of my abstract monotype collage work, visit my website. https://ctalcroft.wixsite.com/collage-site
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
In the past week, we had some rain again—a total of 1.15 inches of new precipitation. That brings our total for the current rain year (ending September 30, 2021) to 10.30 inches. By this time of year we should have had well over twice that much. This remains the driest winter I've experienced in the 20 years I've lived in Santa Rosa.
Sunday, February 7, 2021
For those who don't know, "Clos du Val" is a well known winery in the Napa Valley, but, more importantly, it is also the name of a Premier Cru plot in Auxey-Duresses, one of my favorite little Burgundy villages. As my last name is Talcroft, I called our "winery" "Clos du Tal" as a pun on Clos du Val. This is appropriate, though, as the French word "clos" refers to a walled vineyard (our word "cloister" has the same root) and our little vineyard is behind a stone wall. I call the vineyard "Stone's Throw Vineyard" as the vines are a stone's throw from the house.
Saturday, February 6, 2021
Sunday, January 31, 2021
In the past few days, we've had some more rain, although today, January 31 was clear and sunny. Since last reporting, we've had 2.65 inches of new precipitation at my location in northeast Santa Rosa. That brings are total for the 2020-2021 rain year to 8.20 inches--still about ten inches below normal for this time of year. Rain is forecast for tomorrow and the day after (February 1-2). Let it rain, let it rain, let in rain.
[Edit: More rain did come. We've had an additional 0.95 inches since the above was written, bringing our total so far to 9.15 inches. Every bit helps, but we remain further behind normal than I've ever seen before. At this point in the season, we should have had more than twice that amount.]
Sunday, January 24, 2021
I've heard, however, that smoke taint can develop over a few months, but I'm hopeful. I'm hopeful also that our Cabernet grapes from 2020 will not have been tainted, but we won't know for sure until next autumn when it comes time to bottle that wine (so far, it tastes fine). Next winemaking chore will be pruning the vines. I also want to post an image of our 2019 Cabernet, which I've just labeled.
Elsewhere in the garden, miniature cyclamen (Cyclamen coum) and camellias are in bloom, as are a smattering of other winter-blooming flowers (candytuft and mustard mostly). Daffodils are on the way. Spring will not be too far away, but much-needed rain forecast in the coming days will slow things down a bit. Looking forward to the rain. The more the better.
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Below is Untitled Collage No. 221 (Santa Rosa). July 16, 2020. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monotype, graphite, collage. Image size: 34.4 x 25.3cm (13.5 x 9.3 inches). Matted to 24 x 20 inches. Signed on the mat. Signed and dated on reverse.
Above is Untitled Collage No. 222 (Santa Rosa). July 18,
2020. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monotype, collage. Image size: 10.7 x 14.3cm
(4.2 x 5.6 inches). Matted to 11 x 14 inches. Signed on the mat. Signed
and dated on reverse.
Click on the images for larger views. For more of my abstract monotype collage work, visit my website. https://ctalcroft.wixsite.com/collage-site
Monday, January 11, 2021
Since last reporting, we've had a little more rain—1.30 inches to be exact. That brings our total for the 2020-2021 rain year (which runs through September 30, 2021) to 5.55 inches. As I keep saying, anything is better than nothing, but we're still far below normal for this time of year. Average rainfall for January 10 is approaching 15 inches. No new rain in the forecast at the moment.
Monday, January 4, 2021
Saturday, December 12, 2020
A little rain overnight on the 11th and this morning has added 0.40 inches to our total for the 2020-2021 rain year. That total still stands at only 2.0 inches. Normal rainfall by December 12 is four to five times that. We will be seeing serious drought conditions in the coming year if we don't start getting some good storms soon. Some new rain is forecast for tomorrow morning, but we're unlikely to get the 6-8 inches we would need to catch up.
[Edit: Additional rain has added another 0.45 inches to the total. So, as of December 15, we have had 2.45 inches or rain this rain year at my location in Northeast Santa Rosa--seriously below normal.]
[Edit: More rain on the night of the 16th and into the morning of 17th added 0.70 inches of new participation. That brings the total so far for the year to 3.15 inches. Still way below normal, but, every little bit helps.]
[Another update:] Rain subsequently added 1.2 inches to our total, bringing the total as of January 2 to 4.35 inches at my location---still woefully low. Normal rainfall by this time in the year is a little over 14 inches, so we're about 10 inches below normal. More rain is forecast for this week. We'll see.]
Thursday, December 10, 2020
I just don't get it. There is no evidence there was widespread fraud in the election, no credible evidence of significant lost votes, stolen votes, or altered votes. There were, by all accounts, more safeguards in place this time than there were four years ago, no dispute about vote numbers anywhere except where Mr. Trump feels he should have won. The Georgia vote has been counted THREE times, some of the Michigan vote and the Wisconsin vote counted TWICE with no significant change in the totals. There were Democratic losses in the house and elsewhere, despite the supposed ability of somebody, somewhere to steal a presidential election (somehow, it's always only Mr. Trump who is the victim).
Mr. Trump is a documented liar, a documented narcissist, a documented con artist. These are facts, well known and accepted for decades based on his record of business failures and fraud in the real estate and casino businesses in New York and elsewhere and on the way he has treated the people he has worked with and who have worked for him. This is not news. He's behaved this way for decades.
People complain about how the media are always attacking him, always going after him, never giving him a break. Do they not stop to think that he attracts this relentless negative attention because he is a relentless transgressor? How many times do you have to see the same behavior repeated to accept that there is a pattern there? That is not entirely a rhetorical question; I wish I understood why people are willing to forgive him over and over and over and over and over again despite the obvious.
People still believe his lies about the election having been somehow anything but an honest loss. There's no mystery here, no conspiracy. More Americans voted for Joe Biden where it counted than voted for Donald Trump. It's that simple. If nothing else, it should make people suspicious that suddenly Fox News became evil in the eyes of the president the moment it contradicted him.
I really do not understand why people believe anything he says—why they persist in taking him at his word. I really do not understand. I wish I could understand. But I can't.
Sunday, December 6, 2020
Click on the image for a larger view. For more unintended art, see my blog Serendipitous Art. http://serendipitousart.blogspot.com/
Saturday, November 21, 2020
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Last Thursday, November 12 we had a little rain--about 0.4 inches--but yesterday (November 17) and today we've had a decent downpour. It finally feels like fire danger is over for the year after an evacuation in August (much earlier than usual--because of fires started by lightning in many parts of the state in the absence of rain) and then fire scares again in October.
The last rain we had was on May 13, in the 2019-2020 rain year. This new rain is the first of the 2020-2021 rain year, which goes from October 1, 2020 to September 30 2021. So far there is 1.20 inches of new rain in the rain gauge, bringing our total to 1.60 inches (way below normal for this point in the year), but it looks like there will be at least a little more rain today.