Well, last Saturday I attended my third Soroptimist Bingo Bash. Unlike your grandmother’s church bingo, this one features appetizers, free-flowing wine, dinner, raffle prizes and 10 bingo games with the value of each game’s prize package being between $ 800-$ 1000. As you can see, some people found the evening shocking.
Last Saturday was the annual Permaculture Festival and Potluck at the Zeni Ranch. Located 15 miles down Fish Rock Road and high up on a ridgetop between Mendocino and Sonoma Counties, the Zenis have been working this land for well over 100 years. One of the great things about this continuity is that a discussion with any Zeni about sustainable farming and perennial agricultural systems is usually bolstered by stories of moonshining and revenuers.
But the true stars of this day are the dry-farmed chestnut trees brought to this country from Italy over 100 years ago. Tall and majestic, their branches stretch across 100 feet and more. The chestnuts themselves actually grow inside of prickly seed pods, so it is important to wear boots (to squash them out of the pods) and gloves to avoid getting stuck. Along with three friends that went with me, we were able to harvest almost 20 pounds!
A couple of friends from San Diego, Marshall and Lois, came up to visit this past weekend. I had a great time showing them around Mendocino and the Anderson Valley because they are both very visual people. Lois is in graphic design and Marshall is a photographer. I saw things I would normally never notice when I looked at things through their eyes.
There is always a reason to celebrate here in Mendocino. Last week, the occasion was the birthday of Blair’s twin Springer Spaniels. All of the dogs brothers and sisters, as well as their parents, attended with their owners. An important tip I learned the hard way — at a dog party, those things that look like brownies may well not be!
Last week, I had the chance to hear one of my all-time favorite musicians, Ottmar Liebert, play in a setting you could only find here in Mendocino.
Greg Gorman, a photographer who splits his time between Los Angeles and Mendocino, had held a photography workshop for a small group of students during the week prior. At the end of the week, he had a small dinner to showcase the work the students had done (really amazing; it made me want to toss my camera in the trash). I was lucky enough to be invited. His friend, Ottmar, was there.
In the studio housed in a converted barn perched on the cliffs above the ocean, after an incredible dinner highlighted by a Pinot from the 25 acre Ampelos Vineyards in Los Olivos, I heard flamenco guitar the way it was meant to be played: acoustic and intimate. It was the first time I have had the opportunity to see, up close, the passion in the face of an accomplished musician as he played. It was an experience I will never forget.
One of the small benefits of being an innkeeper are unplanned things that happen. A friend of mine booked a weekend stay for her sister, her niece, her daughter and two friends to celebrate her neice’s upcoming wedding. They made friends with everyone at the inn and I think they had a pretty good time. I know the innkeeper did.
It’s tough leaving a field you have been in for 20 years and embarking on a totally new career. It’s even more challenging uprooting yourself from friends, family and a large city where you have spent your entire life and moving to a small town of 1,000 people where you know no one. But sometimes you get lucky and make new friends right away.
I got lucky. One of the first friends I made was another guy who closed escrow on an inn in Mendocino the day after I became the owner of Brewery Gulch. It’s been great knowing someone else that is going through the learning curve of inn ownership at the same time. John’s friendship, sense of humor and llamas have really helped to make this transition an easy one. Here’s a picture of John with the newest addition to his family (John is the one on the left).