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.
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
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.
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Next step is to inoculate the new wine with malolactic bacteria to induce malolactic fermentation, which converts some of the malic acid in the grapes to lactic acid, which softens it--standard procedure with red wines. This wine will be ready to bottle in about a year. The 2019 wine is ready to be bottled now--the next wine-related task that awaits me.
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Saturday, October 3, 2020
The ash is easily removed. The problem is that "fire taint" is caused not so much by ash from distant (relatively speaking) fires, as in our case this year, but by prolonged exposure to thick smoke, which is absorbed directly through the grape skins and by the leaves, later migrating toward the fruit. I'm hopeful that the grapes we've just harvested won't suffer from taint as we have had only a few days of really bad smoke. We'll see.
The crushed grapes will undergo a two-three day cold soak now (or a cool soak anyway) until I inoculate the must. I plan to use the Rockpile yeast strain this year as my notes say that's what I used in 2015 and our 2015 wine turned out to be very good indeed.
Sunday, September 27, 2020
The Republicans now are, of course, correct in saying that the President has a right and a duty to appoint a new justice. The point is that President Obama had the same right and duty (why does this need to be explained to anyone?). Objections now to appointing a justice so close to the election are based on a sense that to give Mr. Trump another appointment is a double insult to President Obama and Merrick Garland--and that to block another trump appointment is only to right the original wrong. The Republican party has sunk lower than I would have ever thought it could go.
A juice sample before harvest showed a brix of 19.5 degrees, which, corrected for the temperature, is around 20.25 degrees. The crushed grapes tested at 20.25 brix and a specific gravity of 1.080. As I often do with the Sangiovese grapes, from which we make rosé, I bumped up the specific gravity with a small addition of corn sugar (450 grams or so), which raised the specific gravity to 1.090. That should yield a wine of about 12.6% alcohol. The pH of the must was 3.58. I crushed the grapes a little after noon and will press them this evening after they've had about six hours on the skins--which is less than usual. I frequently leave them overnight, so that they've typically had about 18 hours before pressing, but that would mean pressing first thing in the morning and there won't be time to do that before work starts. The color this year is likely to be a bit lighter than usual. We'll see.
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Boyum looks at a series of films more or less current at the time of writing, using them as examples of adaptions well done, adaptions that failed, and adaptations that she contends outdo the original.
Examples include The Innocents, The Great Gatsby, The French Lieutenant's Woman, and Apcalypse Now, which she examines from the point of view of perspective. She looks at Women in Love, Ragtime, Tess, and Daisy Miller in an examination of style and tone. In a chapter that considers metaphor, symbol, and allegory, she uses A Clockwork Orange, Lord of the Flies, Wise Blood, and Death in Venice as examples. Her final main chapter, which looks at the problem of communicating thought, dream, and inner action through film and takes as its examples Slaughterhouse-Five, Under the Volcano, The Day of the Locust, and Swann in Love, is followed by an essay on The Magnificent Ambersons. The author argues persuasively that, contrary to the received wisdom, film versions, while not always successful, can be works of art in every way the equal of their source material and that in some instances they are even improvements upon the original. She is a staunch defender of the adaptation.
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Many of the seeds are completely brown, suggesting the berries are ripe even if the sugar is a little low. Do I wait or do I pick soon and chaptalize, if necessary? A little research is in order. I'll have to go back and look at what I've done in the past. It's hard to remember the details from year to year. I need to refresh my memory.
Saturday, August 1, 2020
Thursday, July 23, 2020
Colville describes himself, again in the preface, thus: "...the money saved by my parents' carefulness (which never verged on meanness) went on providing their three sons with the best and most expensive education available; and though they were far from being cadgers, they had enough devoted friends and relations to provide their children with pheasants to shoot, horses to ride, yachts in which to race and pleasant country houses in which to stay.
"Thus in 1936, when I came down from Trinity College, at the age of twenty-one, I had not been stinted of pleasures and had even, in the days when travel was still an adventure, been to the Soviet Union, steamed down the Danube in a barge, crossed Asia Minor in a third-class railway carriage, spent ten days as a guest in the monasteries of Mount Athos and learned to speak both French and German with fluency. I had also won two scholarships. However, I was well aware that I must soon earn my living with greater urgency than some of my university friends."
While Colville did not come from great wealth, perhaps, his family was comfortable and with numerous connections to people of the upper classes. While at times he sounds a trifle snobbish (particularly to an American) his is the perspective of a man with the kind of education and breeding that it might be nice to see in people in public service again, and some of the most interesting comments he makes are about the US generals and politicians he and Churchill work with when dealing with the United States, particularly later in the war. The Americans, if not laughed at, are generally regarded as sincere but poorly educated and naive.
There is much of interest here about Churchill the man—his quirky habits, in particular—and about the workings of Parliament. The deep respect for and expectation of fine oratory in the House of Commons obvious in the time and effort Churchill and the author put into speech writing will probably seem alien to those of us used to US politicians and, especially today, when we are led (if that's the right word) by a man who is obviously both of limited mental capacity and limited education. If Eisenhower seemed sincere but poorly informed to Colville, how would he have characterized a Mr. Trump?
Some of the diary will sound like gossip—Colville rarely misses an opportunity to comment on the beauty, charm, or intelligence (or the lack of any of these) of the women he meets or on the effectiveness (or lack of it) of the politicians he works with. There is quite a bit about behind-the-scenes maneuvering among the politicians of the day. The coverage is uneven, and there are some startling omissions. For example, while there is a great deal of comment on Churchill's efforts to push Roosevelt into providing Britain with more aid in the early stages of the war, the attack on Pearl Harbor that finally precipitated US war participation is not even mentioned. The atomic bomb is barely noted. That said, a very interesting and entertaining read, not least because of the writer's excellent writing style, a product, no doubt, of that expensive education. Recommended.
Saturday, July 18, 2020
This year has been a struggle on many fronts, creating art among them. The work I’ve done so far this year has been slow in coming and has not come with ease, but, I suppose the important thing is to keep at it. I’m a firm believer in the idea that good work comes from the process, that no amount of planning ahead, at least in my case, is ever of much value. I start with one idea and before long that idea has vanished and something quite different is in front of me and seemingly pulling the strings. I content myself by knowing that I always retain the power of final judgment, that it is I who decides whether what emerges is worth presenting to the world or not.
This is Untitled Collage No. 220 (Santa Rosa). April 10, 2020. Acrylic on paper, acrylic monotype, found paper (handwritten music, postage stamps, wine label), collage. Image size: 19.9 X 12.1cm (7.8 x 4.8 inches). Matted to 20 x 16 inches. Signed on the mat. Signed and dated on reverse.
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
Saturday, July 11, 2020
Friday, June 12, 2020
[Not too long after posting this, I saw a Gulf Fritillary in the garden--which I don't think I'd ever seen before. A very pretty butterfly.]