Monday, April 21, 2014

Wines I'm Drinking: 2011 Argentina Copado Torrontés

Lately I've tasted quite a few examples of wine made from the Torrontés grape, many of which I've enjoyed, so I picked up another I happened across today--this one the 2011 Argentina Copado Torrontés, from the San Juan region of Argentina. Brief tasting notes follow.

A very pale gold, as most Torrontés wines are. The wine smelled fresh and sappy with exotic hints suggestive of coconut, citrus, and beeswax, with a touch of Sauvignon Blanc-like gooseberries and with restrained floral scents as well. Sipping the wine, it was tart at first, with the citrus element (limes, perhaps?) predominant. There was a fruity sweetness and more body on the mid-palate, with a hint of coconut milk and a little tannin in the middle as well, followed by a long, slightly unctuous finish. This has somewhat less of the refreshing acidity of the best examples of Torrontés I've had, bit it doesn't come across as heavy either. Not great wine, but interesting and affordable--one of my favorite kinds of wine.

The labeling is a bit odd. I'm not entirely sure of the name of the maker. On the back of the bottle, the wine is described as having been produced by "Facility I. N. V. No. H72312 for CIAL S.A. Exporter No. G89670." I'm not sure what that means, although it's probably nothing ominous. I imagine this is the product of a local cooperative. Quite drinkable and an excellent value at only $3.99 at my local (Santa Rosa, CA) Grocery Outlet. For more wine reviews, use the Wines I'm Tasting tab on the right. More about Torrontés wines (or use the search box above).

I have no financial connection with the producer, importer, or retailer of the wine reviewed. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wines I'm Making: New Growth on the Vines (April 17, 2014)

The grapevines in our backyard have come to life again. As usual, the Sangiovese vines are ahead of the Cabernet vines, but all the plants have leafed out. The longest shoots are about a foot long. It's almost time to thin the shoots and to spray the new growth with sulfur for the first time this season. In the photo above, you can already see the tiny flower clusters that will become this year's grapes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Cocktail Glass Collection: Negri's in Occidental, California

Negri's is a hotel in the small town of Occidental, California, in Western Sonoma County. The hotel has a bar with an old school neon sign out front. This example has a skewered cherry, I believe--the neon looks red, anyway. I suppose it's a Manhattan that sits atop the lettering.

To see others in this series of photographs, click on the "cocktail glass collection" label. 

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 37 (Santa Rosa)

Another collage. This one using circular elements and remnants of the indigo and orange papers I made a while back. Acrylic on paper, mono-printed elements, graphite, collage. Image size 14.5 x 16.9cm. April 1, 2014. Click on the picture for a larger view. For more, use the "Art I'm Making" tab at right.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Music I'm Listening To: Garrick Ohlsson with the San Francisco Symphony (April 11, 2014)

I attended the April 11 performance of the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall with Herbert Blomstedt conducting. There were two pieces on the program--Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 before intermission, with Garrick Ohlsson at the piano, and Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 after the break.

The Mozart concerto is probably his best loved, his best known. How many times have I heard it on the radio or on recordings I own? I have no idea, but I'd never heard it performed live before. And what a pleasure to hear Ohlsson play it with such precision--every note articulated, every note in its place--played without fuss, without idiosyncratic imposition of self. This was perhaps the purest Mozart I've ever heard. Ohlsson seemed transparent. By none of this do I mean to suggest Ohlsson's playing was mechanical, lacking emotion, or sterile: Quite the contrary. Ohlsson's genius was very much evident. By communicating the writing so simply and clearly, he achieved far greater emotional impact than many who try much harder. Ohlsson appeared concentrated and involved, entirely confident and content, engaged in a restrained dialog with the orchestra, focused on his fingers and the keyboard with no extraneous movement. It was simple. It was beautiful. It was simply a beautiful performance. The audience was very appreciative, bringing Ohlsson back on stage several times (although the hoped-for encore did not materialize). I noticed in the program  that Ohlsson uses cadenzas by Radu Lupu, one of my favorite pianists.

During my freshman year of college--when I first started exploring classical music seriously--I listened to Bruckner  quite a lot, but moved on to other things fairly quickly (there was so much new to hear). Doubtless I've heard snippets of Bruckner on the radio since then, but I can't recall sitting down and listening to a recording of a Bruckner piece since that time--for several decades, in other words--and last night was the first time I'd ever heard anything by Bruckner live. Although, I do vaguely remember that the Symphony No. 4 was my favorite of the symphonies, the familiarity of the piece was something of a surprise--at one time, I must have known it well--but I've never heard it before like last night.

While the Mozart performance was superlative, the Bruckner was even better--one of those concert hall experiences that make you inwardly (sometimes outwardly) giggle with joy, one of those experiences that give you goose bumps. I don't know what to say except that the orchestra--always very fine--seemed in top form, every performer in synch with the rest of the players and with the conductor, who must know this piece very well, as he conducted with no score.

The tempos seemed perfect throughout. The challenging horn entrances were handled beautifully. Blomstedt elicited wonderful performances especially from the darker sections of the orchestra--notably the double basses, the bassoons, the low end of the brass section, and the violas. Easily the best performance of the Bruckner Symphony No. 4 I've ever heard--and am ever likely to hear. While it is a very long piece and it gets a bit repetitious (especially in the third movement), it's full of melodic invention and textures and it has quite a few hooks that satisfy. My thanks to the conductor and all the performers for giving me a new appreciation of the piece.

The rest of the audience seems to have felt much as I did. A sustained standing ovation began immediately after the maestro lowered his hands. Blomstedt, looking a bit frail but very lively nevertheless, delighted in acknowledging the various sections of the orchestra. I think the French horns and the violas got the biggest surges of applause. I'm happy especially for the violas, who always seem to get less attention than they deserve. A memorable evening.

Photo of Herbert Blomstedt courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony (uncredited). Photo of Garrick Ohlsson by Philip Jones Griffiths, courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony.

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 36 (Santa Rosa)

Another collage, again using paper either painted directly with acrylic paints or mono-printed. This one uses vaguely calligraphic effects in some of the elements, notably the orange section on the far right and the central magenta swatch. April 1, 2014. Click on the picture for a larger view. For more, use the "Art I'm Making" tab at right.

Beekeeping: Bees Are Back

I lost my bees last season--again. The hive has been sitting empty all winter, inhabited mostly by foraging ants. It was getting to be about the time to find a new swarm. I was going to post an ad on Craig'sList, as I did last time I needed bees.

Last year, I picked up new bees from a man in Vallejo with a couple of hives, one of which had swarmed. The swarm was hanging in a plum tree over his garage. Retrieving it involved climbing up on the roof. This year I've been spared that kind of trouble. I noticed a few bees around the hive entrance at home about a week ago and a lot of activity a few days later, suggesting a swarm had moved in on its own. Checking today, I see normal spring activity--a lot of bees coming and going. Bees coming in are packed with pollen, so they're raising brood. Nice to have the bees back.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 35 (Santa Rosa)

Another collage. This one very small (only 6.7 x 7.7cm), but size is not always important. Acrylic on paper, mono-printed elements, collage. April 1, 2014. Click on the picture for a larger view. For more, use the "Art I'm Making" tab at right.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Plants I'm Growing: First Blooms--Rhododendron

One of our Rhododendrons has just come into bloom. The first flower opened on April 8. I realize that I've lost track of the name of this one, but it's pretty nevertheless.

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 34 (Santa Rosa)

 New collages. Four new collages, to be exact, made in a spurt of activity between bouts of work in the past ten days or so--both the translating work I do and the landscaping work I've taken on at one of the local wineries.

This one is all in indigo tones. It has a somewhat maritime feel, although that was not intended. Something about it also reminds me of the 1950s--again unintended. I work strictly in the abstract--with color, form, texture, line. Acrylic paint on paper, mono-printed elements, collage. April 1, 2014. Image size, 14.2 x 12.2cm. Click on the picture for a larger view. For more, use the "Art I'm Making" tab at right.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Rain: Another Two Inches (April 2, 2014)

Heavy rain yesterday and the day before has added another two inches to our total for the 2013-2014 rain year.  Our total now stands at 21.25 inches. That is still low relative to an average year, when we would have had well over 30 inches by now (32.62 inches is the average for April 1), but I'm beginning to feel like the upcoming summer won't be as dire as it looked like it might be earlier in the season. Oddly, the one Santa Rosa weather station I monitor online (and use for the average rainfall data I report here) is showing only 16.45 inches--a large discrepancy. Normally our numbers are very close. Perhaps the rain this year has been more localized than usual?

[Update: Another 0.50 inches overnight on the 3rd and on the 4th brought the total to 21.75 inches.]

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Words I'm Writing: A Poem (April 1, 2014)

I generally don't like reading poetry. Too often it's cryptic. Too often it's self-indulgent--little more than an author's in-joke--deliberately obfuscatory, or simply obscure, but that doesn't keep me from once in a while perpetrating the same.


A pearl
Is what an oyster conjures—
A sheath of smooth, bright nacre
Over sand that wounds

But what oyster
On what wave-lashed rock
Is ever asked to form a pearl
Not over jagged sand
But to fend against
What is keenly longed for

And not once in a lifetime but twice
To shut away the selfsame haunting grain? 

I began this more than five years ago. I came across it today by chance and changed a few words that finally made it seem finished. Virtually no one will understand it, but I imagine poems are somewhat easier to decipher than visual art, which I fairly regularly create while feeling no need to explain. So, here is a poem: Make of it what you will.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Birds I'm Watching: Odd Bushtit Behavior (March 31, 2014)

Spent the day indoors today (March 31, 2014) because of the rain, but I didn't have to go out to do some bird watching. The birds came to me--one bird, anyway--a female Bushtit that spent several hours flitting back and forth through the dense plant growth near one of my living room windows. I watched the bird on and off for quite some time. No sign of nesting material, but it was clearly occupied doing something--and alone, not in a flock. She pecked at the window repeatedly and for no apparent reason, making a circuit of a fixed number of perches near the glass over and over again. She was loud enough that I could hear her from upstairs. I'm wondering if she's looking for a nesting site? I got some good close-up photos of her. I wonder what she was up to? Perhaps just pecking at her reflected rival in the glass....

For more about birds and birding in Sonoma County, see my Website: Sonoma County Bird Watching Spots. 

Rain: Getting There…. (March 31, 2014)

The past week has been a busy one, mostly stuck at the computer working. It's been a good thing to hear rain outside my office window for much of that week. It's rained off and on and there is more rain in the forecast for the next few days. We need all we can get. I've recorded another 2.0 inches at my house since last reporting.  That brings the 2013-2014 rain total at this location to 19.25 inches--still well below normal, but we're getting there. And more rain is on the way.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 33 (Santa Rosa)--March 23, 2014

A new abstract collage in indigo and peachy tones. This one ended up divided into two zones. It looks like a cut-away view of a piece of land with a blue chthonic zone below and something ethereal above. That was not intended and not important really. I just liked the colors and the textures of the acrylic mono-printed and painted paper elements I used. The image is 11cm x 14.5cm. Click on the picture for a larger view. For more, use the "Art I'm Making" tab at right.

Places I'm Visiting: Lake Tahoe (March 23, 2014)

Sunny and warm is not usually the sort of weather I associate with skiing, but I spent a pleasant two days at Lake Tahoe this past weekend on the slopes in beautiful weather. It was just cold enough at the higher elevations that strenuous skiing was comfortable. It was the first time I've been on skis in a couple of years. The snow was sparse, but more than adequate. The sun on the snow-powdered mountain tops was beautiful under fluffy clouds. On the slopes, the conditions were much better than I expected, actually, but everything remains outrageously overpriced.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wines I'm Drinking: Four Torrontés Wines from Argentina

I've been aware of wines made from the Torrontés grape (grown mostly in Argentina) for some time, but I've tasted a number of particularly good ones lately, and my appreciation of this grape continues to grow. It's origins are thought to be in Galicia, in the northwest of Spain, where it's still cultivated in Ribeira (although an alternative theory says Torrontés vines were bred from seeds of Muscat of Alexandria brought to Argentina from Spain). Outside of Galicia, Torrontés is cultivated in Alicante and Yecla (both east of La Mancha, in central Spain). The grape is grown in small quantities in Chile (notably in the Pisco region, where it's called Torontel or Torontel Verdil) and also in Uruguay, but most and the best examples seem to come from northern Argentina. There are three varieties--Torrontés Riojana (named for the La Rioja region), Torrontés San Juanino (from the San Juan region), and Torrontés Mendocino (from Mendoza). This last is said to be rare and lacking the distinctive fragrance notable particularly in Torrontés Riojana. According to Hugh Johnson, Torrontés Riojana makes the finest wines, particularly in the high-altitude vineyards of Salta province. At their best, Torrontés wines combine a rich, slightly exotic fruitiness with crisp acidity--often reminiscent of the Albariño wines of Rias Baixas. They can be quite heady, like Viognier, while having the crispness of a good Sauvignon Blanc.

Torrontés clearly makes excellent wine when carefully handled. Often Torrontés wines are a bargain. Retail prices of the wines I tasted range from about $8 to $20, although I purchased all four at my local Grocery Outlet for $3.99-$5.99 a bottle--examples from recent vintages (2010 and 2011) from a number of different parts of Argentina. I tasted the wines blind. Brief tasting notes follow.

2010 Cas'Almare Mendoza Torrontés
This was the palest of the four wines I tasted--a very pale gold. Bright and attractive in the glass. Floral notes on the nose. Oak scents. Pear blossom. Hawthorne. Something sappy, but also with the kind of petroleum scents often associated with a good German Riesling. Overall, a nice perfumed quality to the nose. White peach. Subtle hints of muscat. Very attractive. Nicely balanced on the palate. Rich, fruity sweetness followed by a rush of good balancing acidity. Good "dance" of fruit and acid on the mid-palate. Nice, lingering, slightly tart finish. Has a little tannic bite to it. Interesting hint of bitterness on the very end. Really enjoyed this one. After tasting all four wines, I felt the Cas'Almare wine was distinctly a cut above the others, but I liked them all.

2010 Medrano Estate Torrontés
Medium Gold. Considerably more deeply colored than the Cas'Almare wine, although the Alberti 154 wine was a little deeper in color. Scents of honey and wood predominant on the nose, but with floral hints. Sandalwood perhaps? Somewhat more exotic florals than the first wine. Citrus hints, too. Later there was something that put me in mind of stewed tomatoes, which was not as odd as that may sound. On the palate, a little lighter in body than the first wine, but with an attractive, delicate richness. Lower in acid and therefore not as bright as the Cas'Almare wine, but nicely balanced. Moderate to good length. Something woody on the finish. Hard to describe, but nuanced and tasty. My second favorite of the bunch.

2011 Munay Cafayate Salta Torrontés
Pale straw color, but not as pale as the first wine. Scents of fresh vegetation, wood, and something spicy at first. Hints of white peach and something suggestive of pine resin. A complex medley of plant scents. Chrysanthemums, maybe? Honey or beeswax. Later, umeboshi (dried, pickled Japanese plums). Light on the palate. Less fruity than the first two wines. Very dry. Much more on the mineral side of things. Moderate length. Somewhat unfamiliar flavors. Slightly astringent. Less immediately appealing than some of the other wines in this group, but tasty, if not my favorite.

2011 Bodega Calle Alberti 154 Salta/La Rioja Torrontés
This wine is a blend of Torrontés grapes from the Salta and La Rioja regions. Deepest in color of the four wines. Medium gold. Citrus scents. Orange water. Honey, beeswax--reminiscent of a Costiere de Nîmes wine. Sandalwood or some other scented wood. Distant hint of muscat. Almonds. Gardenia. Gewürtraminer-like lychee scents. Softer, lower in acid than the other wines at first. Moderate length. Interesting resiny character to the finish. A little more tartness as the wine lingers on the tongue, but overall, seems a trifle austere. Has some tannic astringency. Tasty, but less distinctive than some of the other wines. Preferred this to the Munay wine, but all four of these wines seem worth trying.  

I have no financial connection with the producer, importer, or retailer of the wine reviewed. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Serendipitous Art: White and Orange Tree Bark (March 17, 2014)

As today is St. Patrick's Day, I suppose I should have found something green to post, but I offer this pretty tree instead. I love the dull orange and off-white patterning--the irregular dark areas and the lines of little dots. Unintended art. Serendipitous art. I did snap this photo outside the Green Music Center--maybe that counts?

For more unintended art, see my blog Serendipitous Art.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Plants I'm Growing: First Blooms--Michelia Yunnanensis, Rosa Mutabilis (March 11, 2014)

Warm weather has coaxed out new flowers in the garden. On the 11th, the first buds of this year opened on the Michelia Yunnanensis (a magnolia relative native to the Far East) at the side of the house. I love this plant for its deep green foliage and the beautiful cinnamon-colored covers on the buds. The 11th was also the first day of blooms on the large wild rose, also on the side of the house. This is Rosa mutabilis chinensis. It lives up to its name. The color of the blossoms is highly mutable, changing as the flowers age.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 32 (Santa Rosa), March 8, 2014

There's a large pile of painted paper scraps on the floor of my office/studio. Yesterday, I began combing through them, looking for the more interesting pieces. Having set aside a few scraps with appealing colors and attractive patterns, I began to set some of them side by side and quickly came up with a new composition, again using mostly indigo and orange. Although unintentional, this one has something of the feel of a landscape.

Music I'm Listening To: Julia Fischer with the San Francisco Symphony

I attended the March 7, 2014 performance of the San Francisco Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting. The program included only two pieces, Pokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1 and The Symphony Fantastique, by Berlioz. Violinist Julia Fischer was the soloist in the concerto. I wish my understanding of music were at a level that would allow me to persuasively articulate what it is about Michael Tilson Thomas's conducting that bothers me. I find it hard to put into words and always suspect my own ignorance is at the root of my dissatisfaction rather than something I'm hearing. After all, Michael Tilson Thomas is Michael Tilson Thomas. Who am I to complain? Still, I consistently find him inconsistent.

Julia Fischer is a fine performer. That was apparent when she gave the audience an exhilirating encore, playing the final movement of Paul Hindemith's Violin Sonata in G minor with verve, but the Prokofiev was something of a disappointment--much as I love the music. Thomas took it more slowly than I'm used to at the outset while other sections seemed rushed, and Fischer's playing felt a trifle mechanical in places and lacking passion. It was as if the soloist and the conductor hadn't quite agreed on things. Perhaps it doesn't matter. The encore was worth the price of admission. She played the solo violin piece with confidence and conviction and got a standing ovation in return. The other performers on stage watched her with rapt attention as she played. I've noticed performers watching soloists that way before. I always wonder what they're thinking. Is it simply a pleasure to watch another fine musician? Are they hoping to learn something? Are some of them jealous? Are they annoyed that they won't get home as early as they had planned on?

Between 2000 and 2004, Fischer played the Booth Stradivarius, owned by the Nippon Music Foundation (the violin Arabella Steinbacher now plays), but in 2004 she purchased a Guadagnini violin made in 1742 or 1750 (depending on which source you believe). I don't know much about Guadagnini, but I thought the instrument had an unusually sweet, even tone throughout its range. According to the Wikipedia article on Gadagnini, his instruments have been owned and played by the likes of Wienawski, Ysaÿe, Vieuxtemps, and Joachim, and more recently Arthur Grumiaux and Victoria Mullova, which seems a strong endorsement.  

I had never heard the Symphony Fantastique live before. I enjoyed it for that reason alone. It's a richly orchestrated piece, which means there's a lot to see (as well as hear). As always in San Francisco, the woodwinds stood out. The conducting seemed uneven, though. The first section, came across as without direction--a series of inconclusive crescendoes and decrescendos. The third section seemed to drag, too, although the Symphony players were in top form during the rest of the performance--and top form at the San Francisco Symphony is very high, indeed.

Photo of Julia Fischer by Kasskara, courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony.

Plants I'm Growing: First Blooms (March 9, 2014)

With some rain now behind us and warmer weather, the garden is beginning to come alive again. On March 5, the small Rhododendron called "Pink Snow Flakes" began to bloom. The Kerria by the side wall started blooming at about the same time--a plant I know by its Japanese name, yamabuki. On March 6th the first of the species tulips Tulipa bakeri started to bloom (above). Only a few of these are left. I planted hundreds, but they were discovered one summer by the ground squirrels. The squirrels dug them all up and ate them. They are slowly spreading again. The Nanking cherry (Prunus tomentosa) began blooming on the 6th as well. The large Ray Hartman Ceanothus started blooming around the same time (below). The dwarf peach and dwarf nectarine behind the house are both in full bloom now, along with the golden currant bush (Ribes aureum).

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 31 (Santa Rosa), March 5, 2014

And yet another collage. This one did not come easily. I re-worked it many times before coming up with something I liked. And then I lopped off its head, so to speak--cutting off an additional section at what is now the bottom of this composition that had more of the orange elements in it. Ultimately, I liked it best like this, having removed that extra orange portion and then inverted the image. Funny how a piece can seem almost right but continue to irk. Sometimes what finally fixes it is the addition of something new. Sometimes, as in this case, it's a subtraction. The fun thing about collage is that the subtracted bits often find their way into other pieces.

Collage of paper painted with acrylics and mono-printed elements also made using acrylic paints (image size 16.5cm x 13.2cm).

More Rain (March 6, 2014)

It's clear again this morning, but we've had rain on and off the past few days. In all, 1.20 inches has accumulated in the rain gauge since last updating the 2013-2014 rain year total, which is now 17.25 inches at my house--although others in Santa Rosa are reporting somewhat lower totals.

Keep it coming. We're still well below normal.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 30 (Santa Rosa)

I just finished another collage. This one features some curved elements. I recently found a good paper cutter that cuts circles--which will make it possible to add more curved lines to the work I'm doing. Curves made sense here because of the spiraling line in the upper part of the composition. This is another piece made from painted paper using acrylic paints and from mono-printed elements (16.5cm x 18cm).

For more, use the Art I'm Making label at the right.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Rain: More Rain (February 25-26)

We got another 1.4 inches of rain on February 25-26. It drizzled most of the night on the 25th. After a lull in the morning on the 26th, we got a good downpour. That brings our total for the 2013-2014 rain year to 15.25 inches, although some locations in Santa Rosa have had as much as two or three inches less than that. We are still well below normal (nearly 12 inches below normal), but every little bit helps, and more rain is forecast in the coming two to three days, with the bulk expected to come tomorrow, the 28th.

[Update: Overnight (on the night of the 27th and into the 28th, we got more rain and it was very windy, but I found only 0.6 inches of rain in the rain gauge in the morning--much less than the howling last night suggested I'd find. Still, I'm not complaining. That brings us to 15.85 inches at my house, although the online station I most frequently monitor for Santa Rosa is reporting only 12.85 inches. Normally, our totals are fairly close.]

[Update: By the end of the 28th, we had had 0.8 inches, which brings the total to 16.05 inches.]

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Cocktail Glass Collection: The 500 Club, San Francisco

I found myself walking along Valencia St. in San Francisco yesterday, winding my way back to my car  after an appointment--a lot of interesting shops there. I walked a few blocks on 17th St. on my way back toward Dolores Park. At the corner of 17th and Guerrero, I spied The 500 Club, apparently a well-known dive bar, judging from Internet comments I found. I photographed the sign out front to add to my Cocktail Glass Collection--a collection of photos of the martini glass signs in front of bars I began last year (not very seriously, I just enjoy seeing good examples of variations on a theme). This one actually has two martini glasses incorporated in the sign--a large one in neon and other lights perched on top and a smaller all-neon glass at the bottom. Both have skewered cherries.

To see others in this series of photographs, click on the "cocktail glass collection" label. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Wines I'm Making: 2012 Cabernet Bottled (February 21, 2014)

I bottled our 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc today, putting eight gallons of wine into newly washed and sanitized bottles. From the tastes I got while siphoning the wine, it's turned out very nicely. In particular, it's got more ripe fruit flavors than in some past years. I won't be able to truly judge the wine until it's settled down and I can sit down with a bottle over a meal, but I'm hopeful that we've made another good batch. Now it's time to design a label for this wine, but also for our 2013 rosé (from Sangiovese), as well as the hard cider we bottled on December 23 last year. I need to hurry. The cider is quickly disappearing.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Plants I'm Growing: First Blooms--Golden Currant and Two-toned Daffodils

First blooms in 2014 on the two-toned daffodils in the front garden on February 18. The golden current (Ribes aureum) in the back garden began blooming on February 17.

[Update: The dwarf flowering peach in the garden began blooming this year on February 21. The dwarf nectarine began blooming on February 27.]

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 29 (February 18, 2014)

I finished another new collage recently. This one is something of a departure for me because it includes a found object--a numeral three printed on a slip of white paper. It was the wrapper around a bundle of silverware at one of downtown Santa Rosa's brew pubs (The Third St. Ale Works). Normally I don't use found objects because I don't trust them. They tend to fade or yellow, but this one seemed relative safe. It's printed on plain paper in a single color--black--and black tends to hold up. Otherwise, I've again used paper painted with acrylic paints, along with mono-printed elements made with acrylics on paper as the raw materials for the composition, although this one also includes a couple of lines in graphite as well. In the photo here, the lower section looks black, perhaps, but it's actually a deep indigo. Only the numeral is black.

For more, use the Art I'm Making label at right.
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