What’s Up This Week – 9.22.23

My daughter failed her driver’s permit test by only one question. With tears in her eyes, she said, “I was so close,” and she was. I couldn’t help but think back to when I failed my first test too. It was a horrible feeling. In the end, sooner or later, she’ll be driving with the rest of us. You know that, and I do too. But it’s funny how those moments stick with us for better or worse. So it goes.

This week we want to share a different kind of moment, a beautiful moment in Lake County when we attended the Lake County Wine Auction. What an event that was! And we’re so excited to tell you all about our most recent Pay It Forward small business. If you haven’t been before, it’s a fun surprise. We’ve also got lots of good news in the community, poetry, all kinds of live music to choose from, and of course, your weekly dose of local history. The weather is fair, and there’s plenty to do, so have a great weekend, Lake County!

Changing Lives for Everyone in the Community: The Wine Auction

The day’s heat still wavers in the air, hiding behind tent flaps and resting in the still evening. The sun still has an hour to hang around before finally disappearing behind the mountains, and it’s gleefully watching over the hundreds of people milling around The Mercantile in Kelseyville. Here you’ll find winery owners and administrative assistants, school principals and county workers, exterminators and nurses, congressmen and construction workers. This cross-section of folk shows up every year for the same reason, and it’s not to swelter in the early evening heat. They’re all here for the Wine Auction, one of Lake County’s most important charitable events.

Pay It Forward – Exotics by the Guy

Exotics by the Guy is a locally owned and operated custom store that offers a wide variety of the most sought-after foreign and rare snacks, drinks, cookies, and candy. They also offer Naruto cards, Pokemon Cards, Love Stickers, Croc Charms, Funko Pop figures and so much more. Exotics by the Guy has been in business for eight years with five-star reviews.

What’s Up This Week – 9.15.23

So I celebrated my birthday this week. Hooray for another loop around the sun! Then it occurred to me that The Bloom and I share the same birthday month. To be honest, I’d never really thought about that until this year when The Bloom turned five. All the more reason to celebrate.

On that note, enjoy our second feature article on Ripe Choice Farm and Catering. Holy cow, does Tammy Lipps take hospitality to a whole new level. And be sure to join Kathleen Scavone when she visits Rodman Preserve, a Lake County Land Trust treasure. And, of course, we have all the local live entertainment going on in the Music Guide, lots of good news, poetry, and history. It’s a great start to the weekend, Lake County!

Rodman Preserve: One of Lake County Land Trust’s Treasures

The alchemy of photosynthesis worked its magic on grasses, trees and wildflowers across the landscape of Lake County after the rains finally arrived. Kelly green tempera paint colors outline the forest, while lush tree trunks are alive with mosses. At Rodman Preserve you can take a Saturday walk when the Lake County Land Trust (LCLT) opens its gates to the Preserve’s hundreds of acres. Rodman Preserve and Nature Center is located at 6350 Westlake Road in Upper Lake. We were welcomed at the property’s entrance by the breathtaking view of one of the resident ospreys as it flew above us with its prey secured in its talons! Rodman Preserve was acquired in order to safeguard the land’s natural habitat and preserve the existing wildlife area with its prolific nesting, feeding and breeding environs.

What’s Up This Week – 9.8.23

This week I had the pleasure of meeting with our literary editor and a writer at a locally owned coffee shop. As luck would have it, our pleasantries got interrupted by other greetings from several other people I knew while we were standing in line to order our coffee. At one point, I had to apologize and ask if we could resume our conversation once we got our order and sat down. Then it occurred to me; this is common for those of us who live in Lake County. You will always run into people you know, and it is okay to stop one conversation to chat with another person. In fact, it would be considered rude to not acknowledge people you know. I don’t recall my previous city life being this way. What a beautiful community we live in.

This week I’m thrilled to tell you more about The Bloom’s five-year anniversary celebration at Ripe Choice Farm and Catering. Let me tell you, it’s the place to be for any occasion! Wowza, what a lovely evening it was, and what an honor to celebrate it with our writers and top donors. Plus, we’ve always got our Music Guide, all good news, and some lovely poetry from an Indian poet for you to catch up on. Wherever your journey takes you, have a great weekend!

The Ripe Choice Experience

Have you ever experienced something so wonderful that you struggle to find the words to describe it? That’s me at The Bloom’s Five-Year Anniversary party at Ripe Choice Farm and Catering. I’d been in contact with Tammy Lipps, owner of Ripe Choice, for several weeks leading up to the event. I knew I wanted it to be something unique and memorable. Although several of our restaurants promise all those things, I knew I was looking for something a little more intimate, quiet, and off the beaten path.

Welcome to the Ripe Choice Farm: The early evening glow reluctantly gives way to the onshore breeze that promises cooler temperatures. But for now, a glass of sparkling wine, under twinkling lights and the small chatter amongst friends, makes for a delightful distraction. The barn’s high ceiling helps absorb the day’s warmth amongst its exposed wood.

The setting seems right, country, rustic, and yet elegant. Locally grown flowers adorn the center of the tables. Linen napkins and a formal place setting all promise tonight is not an ordinary Sunday evening.

What’s Up This Week – 9.1.23

Hello Fall. Every year, you take me by surprise. Do you know what else marks September? The Bloom celebrates its Five Year Anniversary! The celebration has already begun and will continue through September. If you are a monthly donor of $10 or more, expect some free merch from The Bloom in the mail in the next few weeks. Also, The Bloom will be at the Pear Festival to give away even more free merchandise. The point is, we want to celebrate with you!

What else is up? Well, the Lake County Fair, of course! Pick a day, go every day, but go to the fair and show your support. The fair is a Lake County tradition that’s so important to our community. But first, catch up with a short history of The Bloom, then learn about CLERC, the Clear Lake Environmental Research Center. Kathleen Scavone shares about it and their local ongoing environmental projects and programs. Plus, you can read our third-place-winning poem from our recent Poetry of the Outliers competition. After that, you’ll have time to read everything else that’s new in The Bloom. And see you at the fair! Have a great weekend, Lake County.

The Bloom Turns Five!

Well, well, well, The Bloom is turning five! Can you believe it? I feel like a proud parent bragging about their kid. And perhaps that’s appropriate when considering how The Bloom became The Bloom.

Five years ago, the editor of The Middletown Mercury announced his retirement. It was a huge bummer for us readers because it was one of the only sources of good news about Lake County.

So my husband and I had the crazy idea of taking over the Mercury, you know, as a hobby. Well, six weeks later, we became proud owners of a local newspaper. But, for a few legal reasons, we couldn’t keep the name or the subscription list, so we were on our own.

Discovering CLERC: The Clear Lake Environmental Research Center

Have you ever heard of CLERC? CLERC stands for Clear Lake Environmental Research Center. CLERC is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization now located in Lakeport in the historic Carnegie Library building at Library Park. The threads of CLERC’s tapestry are far-reaching and address the needs of our unique county through their varied projects and programs. The purpose of CLERC, as mentioned on their interesting website is ” To bring science, education, government, tribal and business groups together to resolve issues involving Clear Lake, to study the unique properties of Clear Lake and the surrounding area and, to coordinate programs and projects that focus on solutions to environmental and economic problems locally and worldwide.”

What’s Up this Week – 8.25.23

The end of summer marks a new kind of business as families adjust to a new school year and harvest season kicks into full swing for our local wineries and all things agriculture. One of the things I love about Lake County is we know how to make the most of every season and end it with a bang. This weekend is the third annual Blackberry Cobbler Festival on Cobb. Be sure to check out the press release for details because it’s easy to make it a weekend up on Cobb with so much to do all weekend long. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out!

Also, take a minute to join me at a Blue Zone-inspired dinner at the Blue Wing. It seems that the Blue Zones influence is everywhere in Lake County, and we at The Bloom couldn’t be more thrilled about that. Blue Zones offers all good things for Lake County. And be sure to catch up on our most recent Pay It Forward article and the second-place poem in our Poetry of the Outliers competition. Whatever your plans are for the weekend, be sure to include the Cobbler Festival. See ya there!

Blue Wing Celebrates Blue Zones Approval

Rarely have I had a meal so thoughtfully prepared and served. The Blue Wing serves consistently good food, so when I learned that they had just become Blue Zones approved in Lake County, I couldn’t resist attending their celebratory dinner; I have already learned that anything Chef Pablo Aguilar does will be nothing short of breathtaking.

The late August evening brings its predictable slow, leisurely pace when the days are still long, and dining under the late sun’s rays is almost a requirement for any dinner in Lake County. Welcome to the Blue Wing’s courtyard.

Pay It Forward – Kingdom Games

Kingdom Games are locally owned and operated custom gaming stores with three Lake County locations, offering a wide variety of new and used video games, accessories, and an array of tabletop games, including Magic The Gathering-related products. 

Eight Great Places to Shop in Lake County (Plus Three Great Places to Eat)

Lake County’s home to amazing scenery, kind people, and a host of small businesses. Without them, we wouldn’t be who we are. So take a weekend afternoon to get out and discover something new. We listed eight great businesses here, but don’t worry. Surrounding these wonderful places are dozens more, all waiting for you to discover them. 

Escape to Finch Gardens

Just when one thinks they know all the hidden gems in Lake County, Lake County never ceases to prove one wrong.

The sun stands high in the firmament all summer long. Its rays bring radiant, glowing life to all it touches. All things green reach and lean toward its sustenance, and we gleam from their nourishing fruit while they tantalize our eyes with their glory. Gold embers of the sun’s hues frame and mold the weaving greens and bright floral colors of vines, branches, trees, and flowers, of Finch Garden. Helen greets my husband and me when we park in front of her home.

Pay It Forward – Sister’s CoffeeHouse

Sister’s CoffeeHouse is a locally owned and operated custom coffee shop specializing in a variety of hot and cold drinks and mouth-watering grab-go breakfast and lunch options. They take pride in fresh ingredients and stress putting love in every custom order. Their delicious drinks range from Blue Raspberry Shakes to Caramel Frappes with sugar-free and Keto options available. How about a Lavender White Mocha with Blackberry drizzle?

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. 

A Water’s Eye View of Clear Lake

The glistening waters of ancient Clear Lake beckoned one chilly, late spring morning as some friends and I boarded the Eyes of the Wild pontoon boat piloted by Faith Rigolosi for a lake tour. Although the shores were already growing a tangle of weeds not often seen this early in the season, Faith was able to tour the lake with ease. This popular destination lake is around seventy square miles, and is the largest lake within California’s borders. More importantly, Clear Lake is scientifically proven to be one of, if not the oldest lake in North America, at about a half-million years in age. Archaeologists have determined that Indigenous people have lived nearby for around 14,000 years. Clear Lake drapes itself across the landscape in a diagonal formation, with its two arms at the narrows pointing southeast. Sacred and stately Mount Konocti, our dormant volcano rises across the narrows at over 4,000 feet. Both the lake and the volcano hold rich secrets and mythologies, along with their distinctive histories and exquisite beauty.

Pay it Forward – Grillagan’s Island

I am happy to present to you our thirteenth local business spotlighted in the Pay it Forward feature – Grillagan’s Island. Grillagan’s Island is a locally owned and operated custom fast-serve restaurant specializing in a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches, fresh burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, homemade soups, and salads with gluten-free and vegan options available.

Letterbox Treasure Hunting

Letterboxing began in England in 1854 when a man called William Crossing created a publication called Guide to Dartmoor. Then, he placed cards in a bottle on a trail along the moors and when hikers found the bottle, they added their own postcards for the next person to find and then mail at the post office. Now there are formal Letterboxing clubs and Geocaching clubs all over the world. Many have themes such as poetry, stamp collecting, mysteries, etc.  

Get Away From it All: Wild Diamond Vineyards

Let’s face it; Lake County is truly the place you go to get away from the real world. There are few better ways to leave the city, relax, and enjoy some incredible wine. Let me take you on an adventure. 

It all starts on Spruce Grove Road–meander through rural Lake County before turning on the gravel driveway that winds upward towards Wild Diamond Vineyards. Traverse an oak grove, winding higher and higher in elevation as the oaks slowly turn to pine trees. That’s when you know you’re almost there. At the tasting room–or more accurately, mountain top–the world turns truly silent and still. A strong breeze greets you first as you step out of your car, a reminder that the world is far, far below.

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.

Graceful Grebes of Clear Lake

Have you seen them? The swan-like black and white water birds that are known to dance across the waters of Clear Lake, the grebes. Glorious to view at any time of the year, they are most interesting to watch in springtime when they perform a courting dance while rushing or running across the water!

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