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Trudy Wakefield

Trudy is the owner and editor for The Bloom. The Bloom's dedicated to showcasing all the good parts of life. If it's good news, you'll probably find it here.

The Organ’s Breath of Life: Experiencing the Power of 7,455 Pipes

It is an unmatched sound that most of us have heard many times before. Its reverberating music fills the ear and body with notes high so high they prick the ears and so low they shake the ground. Collectively, its delicious music brings a full-body encounter. Nothing quite compares to an organ’s music, but absolutely nothing compares to listening to it in a cathedral. Welcome to the monthly organ recital at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. 

Flower Therapy: Bell Haven Flower Farms

Some of my fondest memories of my childhood include multiple visits to the beautiful Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island. The serene gardens are perfectly manicured, with not a plant in less than spectacular form. The garden is a discovery of delights; it seems to never end on its meandering trails and bridges. If you’ve been before, then you know. Of course, moving to Lake County was a dream come true for us. It’s filled with natural beauty, rugged landscapes, oak groves, far-reaching vineyards, and a one-of-a-kind life-giving lake. 

But nothing quite compares to a professional garden, right? Well, thankfully, we have a spectacular and unique offering in Lake County. Bell Haven Flower Farms, resting on the shores of Soda Bay, is a breathtakingly beautiful place, open for private events and, on occasion, to the public. However, if you aren’t able to visit, Bell Haven also has a florist shop in downtown Kelseyville, where once you step through the doors, you’ll discover a cornucopia of flowers.

“I Make Wines That Drink Well” – Gregory Graham Winery

“I call myself a winegrower,” Greg says. “I’m my own vineyard manager, and at the end point, I’m a winemaker. It’s not about getting tonnage. It’s about growing high-quality fruit. Grapes don’t ripen at the same time. I pick them over three weeks to ensure they are picked at the peak.” And it shows in his wines. Every bottle at Gregory Graham is distinct, unique, and thoughtfully created. “I would put my grapes and wines against anyone,” he says. “I put my thumbprint on the wines.”

Four Great New Reasons to Visit Upper Lake

Not too long ago, I received an email from Lynne Butcher telling me there are several new businesses that have recently opened in Upper Lake. Lynne would know. Lynne and Bernie Butcher are the proud owners of the recently restored historic Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing, which hosts live music Friday through Monday in the courtyard year around. Their businesses are already two great reasons to visit Upper Lake, and I couldn’t wait to see more, so I eagerly set up a day trip to see for myself.

Bold Food and Good Beer: Romi’s Brew and BBQ

You can smell the smoker as soon as you enter the parking lot of Romi’s Brew and BBQ in Nice. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll get there just as someone’s taking ribs out for the evening’s dinner. The char, dense and smoky, fills the nostrils and overwhelms the senses, making it impossible to crave anything but a full rack of those mouthwatering ribs–and you haven’t even opened the door to the restaurant yet.

Essential Lake County: The Boat Races

The odor of heated fiberglass fills the air. I’m trying to keep up with what’s happening but can’t see through the smoke of the car with the blown head gasket trying to round turn one. Who’s in first? It doesn’t matter. A roar comes from the crowd watching turn three. It looks like a couple of boats got stuck together, and one car’s dragging the other around the track. I glance at it for a second, then get distracted by the major crash happening directly in front of the grandstands. A boat’s disconnected from its chain and cartwheels in front of the Blazer. The driver twitches the steering wheel, not to avoid it, but to ensure he gets a direct hit. He aims directly for the bow, and it explodes into a spray of fiberglass and old steering cables.

Your Alternate Reality Awaits: Lakeport Cinema

It’s all things bright and sunny as we pull into the Lakeport Cinema parking lot. The outside wall of the cinema hangs pictures of upcoming movies that will grace the screen in the near future. Ahead are a row of black glass doors. And in this moment, an alternate reality is about to begin. It goes something like this:

There is a set of black glass doors, unlike any others. Oh, you’ve seen doors like these everywhere you go, but what’s behind these particular doors brings a new state of mind to your everyday life unlike any other.

Start as Visitors, Leave as Friends: The Big Valley, Small Farms Tour

There’s nowhere like Big Valley and no farms like these. Mark Lipps says the tour is simple; just bring yourself, a positive attitude, and a smile. And if you didn’t come with a smile, you’re sure to leave with one. “We would love all visitors of Lake County to experience the different priorities a Lake County Big Valley small farm can embrace,” Mark says. “Come explore all of our farms for a great drive around the area. Start out as visitors, leave as friends.”

Four Great Mexican Restaurants in Lake County

Lake County has an abundance of Mexican restaurants, and most all of them are wonderful. Everyone we talk to has their favorite, but there’s nothing wrong with trying something new. Of course, there are more than just four great Mexican restaurants in Lake County, but, if you’re looking to try something new and enjoy some great Mexican food, look no further than this list. 

A Perfect Partnership: The Saw Shop Public House and Blue Zones

Main Street Kelseyville is a little busier than normal this Tuesday afternoon. With the recent warmer temperatures, mother nature is coaxing all of us to get out and about. Patrons leave Sophies Day Spa with a scoop of ice cream in one hand and a bag of goodies in another. A man leaves Bell Haven Florist with a bouquet and a smile in his step. Outside the Saw Shop, the covered patio and heaters remain in place just in case this warm spring weather should change its mind and bring us more rain. But the sky is clear and blue, and the rain seems a distant memory. It’s not a question on whether to eat outside or not. It would seem an insult to spring and its beauty to do otherwise.

Art, Wine, and Relaxation: Wine in the Willows

Without a bit of research, I don’t know that I could say which came first: wine or art? I’m sure it’s art. But it seems to me, as far back as we look, both seem to be intertwined in humanity as long as we have been human. And what’s not to love about both? They bring great joy and an ever-changing and evolving perspective. That’s why when I learned Wine in the Willows was recently repurchased, I breathed a great sigh of relief, knowing that wine and art would not lose another supreme location. 

Not Your Ordinary B&B: The Featherbed Railroad, Part 2

There’s a crisp chill in the air this April afternoon. Gray clouds are high over Clear Lake, reminding us of recent rains and storms. But all is quiet today other than the sound of the residential Grebe calling for its mate. It’s easy to get lost in the view sitting on the porch of La Loose Caboose. But we’ve already decided to write about our experience. I mean, how often do you stay at a B & B and laugh as much as we already have after seeing bras hanging from the wall, mirrors over the bed, and the neon light glowing “La Playpen” over the sleeping area? It’s already too much fun.

Not Your Ordinary B&B: The Featherbed Railroad, Part 1

“Where are you staying?” her blonde hair frames her bright smile. 

“The La Loose?” my husband states with an I’m ready for anything at this point sound in his voice. 

“Oh, the La Loose!” Jami’s smile brightens even more. “Well, be sure to add a bra to the collection if you have one you want to spare. Some of our guests have done that,” she says it so motherly, hospitably, and oh so matter of factly, like I’ve heard this conversation so many times before in my life. 

My shock is real. I try to hide it. I’m sure I fail. I’m equally sure my husband is too. “Oh!” I say as delighted and with as little fear and trepidation as possible.

Enjoy Tasty Tamales at Betty’s Tacos

On Highway 20 in Clearlake Oaks sits an unassuming white building with red trim. It’s the home to Betty’s Tacos.

Betty’s tacos has a menu full of great items from oversized tortas to burritos, sopes, and salads. But, if you’re going there, you’ll have to try the tacos. Each four inch corn tortilla is filled with flavor; the beef is seasoned and tender, chopped fine, but not too small. Topped with tidbits of lettuce, cilantro, radish, grilled onion, a squeeze of lime, and the salsa of your choice, it’s bright, juicy, and tangy.

20 Years, 25,000 Changed Lives: Operation Tango Mike

It’s another Thursday night in Lake County. We seem to be between rain storms, and even the sun has made an appearance as a promise of spring’s return. The sidewalks and streets of Lakeport are exchanging wet asphalt for dry. The day’s work is done, and most people are heading home for the evening. But on 11th Street, many are gathering, some strangers and some friends and acquaintances. My husband and I pull into the parking lot, dispersing a group of 4-H girls so we can park. Two men in Army uniforms approach the front doors to Umpqua Bank, and we know we are where we’re supposed to be on this third Thursday of the month in Lake County. 

Better Than a Three-Hour Tour: Grillagan’s Island

It’s a blustery day in Lake County. The wind whips the palm fronds stretched across the restaurant’s facade and across the highway, the lake, muddy brown, froths and splashes against the bulkhead of Lucerne Harbor Park. It’s cold, rainy, and miserable outside. But inside Grillagan’s island, it’s sunny, warm, and tropical. Calypso music plays on the speakers, tropical prints spread across the walls, and fishing nets hang from the ceiling. It’s the perfect place to get away on a short vacation and enjoy some great food. Cold, wet weather calls for grilled cheese and tomato soup; we all know that. And there’s no better place to enjoy it than at Grillagan’s Island. They specialize in grilled cheese and offer multiple ways to enjoy that delightful sandwich.

Buy Mike and Danny a Beer: Busking for Brewskis at Kelsey Creek Brewing

Tuesday afternoon in Kelseyville, August. Mike Guarniero and Danny Prather perch on barstools next to the front window, half-full beer glasses on the floor next to them. Danny’s taken the lead on a Neil Young tune he’s finishing, and odds are they’ll switch it around on the next song. Between the two of them, they could play all day and never repeat a tune. Danny gives a hearty strum on his guitar as the song ends, then grins as he leans over and takes a sip of his beer. Caroline Chavez, co-owner of Kelsey Creek, sees his glass empty and quickly brings over two full ones. “Now everybody,” she says, walking the smooth walk of a skilled bartender, “You all need to pitch in. I’m the only one buying them beer right now.” Mike and Danny happily grab their full brewskis, sip off the foam, and start a new song.

Snow Day

The early morning sun’s bright winter yellow-blue hues glow between the slats of the window shades. There’s a stillness and unearthly quiet that can only mean one thing–the world is covered in a blanket of snow. Consciousness continues to drift in as a low hum of a generator from a distant neighbor pierces the stillness telling everyone the power is out. The realization that today is a snow day announces itself as a fact, not a maybe. No one is going to work or school today. Mother nature has decided that for us. Another reality sinks in–there’s no rush, no hurry to start the day or to leave the comfort of a warm bed. A smile and sigh seem the only definite choice for this moment.

Camping, Part 6: Surfing

There we sat week after week, watching the surf and our kids attempting to catch the perfect wave to ride into shore. Occasionally they got carried in standing, but more often than not, they came into shore tumbling and rolling. The thought of joining them in the wash cycle of the ocean didn’t seem all that appealing. Onlookers looked on with a little envy and wonder. There is definitely the feeling that those in the water were the cool people, and those of us on the beach in our dry clothes were definitely missing out. They were in the water, and we were not. Plain and simple. 

Camping in Lake County, Part 5: Quail Mesa Ranch

The cool crisp air and clear nights make winter a great time of year for RV exploring. A stillness can almost be felt as nature slumbers in these shorter days and long nights. But it’s no bother with the added layer of a blanket and a hot beverage next to the crackling campfire, the only sound to be heard on this dark, peaceful night. Welcome to Quail Mesa Ranch, your Harvest Host for the evening. 

Camping in Lake County, Part 4: Six Sigma Ranch

By mid-summer 2022, We’d become experts at RV camping. We found some kind of compromise between the comforts of RVing and the nostalgia of tent camping. While we enjoyed the comforts of a bathroom and kitchen on wheels, glamping chairs, and carpet to boot, we decided the sleeping bags would stay. After years of tent camping, sheets seemed wrong, while zip-up flannel bags somehow seemed like a token to the good old days, even in summer. This was our final resolution between the two worlds.

Far From Ordinary: Andre’s Lounge

“Do you hear that?” I asked after just stepping out of the Gaslight Grill on Main Street Lakeport. It was an ordinary Thursday evening, or so I thought. The winter chill and seasonal lights brought a festive glow and the perfect ending after a delicious dinner. We’d just finished a mouth-watering bacon blue cheese burger, fried pickles, a fresh seasonal salad, and a pint of good beer. It’s always the perfect meal experience with the friendliest faces and consistently some of the best food in Lakeport.

That Hole in the Wall: Asian Dragon

I’ll never forget the first time I found my favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant. You know the place I’m talking about. It’s all about the food, convenience, comfort, and, most of all, consistency. No, this isn’t where you go for a business meeting. You go there because it’s quick, convenient, and your personal favorite spot for any number of reasons. 

Three Ways to Handle a Holiday Hangover

New Year’s Eve is one of the best party nights of the year. It’s a great chance to get together with friends, enjoy some good food, and laugh the night away. If, like me, you enjoy having a good time on December 31st, you may have experienced a vicious New Year’s Day hangover. You go to bed happy, albeit a bit dizzy, and wake up the next morning in misery. Your head’s pounding, your stomach’s in knots, and you can’t quite remember the three hours leading up to midnight. But have hope! (Sorry for the exclamation point; it even reads too loud.) Here are three great ways to handle a hangover.

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