What’s Up This Week – 12.8.24

This is the time of year when I look back on the last twelve months to learn more about you, our readers. Turns out you didn’t care much for the two articles I wrote outside of Lake County. Sonoma and San Francisco have their thing, but you read The Bloom to learn more about life here. So, I’ll probably stick to local stories in 2024 for our lead articles. Even so, our largest readership is still San Francisco and the Bay Area, followed by Sacramento. Sorry, Lake County, you are still in third place. 

Our newest column, the Pay It Forward series by Lori Armstong, turned out to be a huge hit. You still love our science pieces by Kathleen Scavone, the Music Guide, and Gene Paleno’s Lake County History. So, what’s going to be new in 2024? I’m so glad you asked. I’m looking at expanding our poetry and arts section to include more of you! I’ll keep the suspense building until the New Year. Stay tuned because I think you’re really gonna like it. 

In the meantime, you are in for all kinds of good things this week. We’re continuing our Holiday Shopping Guide series when we visit Lakeport. Then catch up on our recent Pay It Forward–it’s a good one–followed by Backstage Lake County by Charise Reynolds and a mental health piece. With all these heartwarming stories, don’t forget to catch up on the Music Guide, all kinds of good news, and local history! Whew, that’s a wrap. Have a great weekend, Lake County, and happy holidays to you and yours.

What’s Up This Week – 12.1.23

As the year winds down and I reflect on 2023, various thoughts come to mind that I’d like to share with you. Here’s one of them: This year, many people have asked me about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and whether I plan to implement it into The Bloom. I even had someone suggest that if I didn’t adapt to it, I might be lost as a writer and left behind—oh, the horror! So recently, I experimented with an AI (whom I’ll refer to as Aimee because it seems fitting) and had her write some mental health articles and a few restaurant reviews just to gauge her capabilities. To my relief, Aimee, in my humble opinion, falls short. However, from a certain editorial perspective, I give her full credit. Yet, from an artistic standpoint, and dare I say, a human perspective, she is lacking. She lacks the magic and spark that any good writer possesses. I’m sorry, Aimee, but I don’t see you becoming a regular contributor to The Bloom in the near future. Rest assured, readers, everything in The Bloom will continue to be written by real people, and any financial support you provide goes to our human writers. Whew, that was a close one!

This week, we’re continuing with our holiday shopping guide as we visit Kelseyville. If you were distracted and missed last week’s shopping guide, be sure to check it out because Middletown has a few new businesses you may not know about. Don’t miss Kathleen Scavone’s piece on Lake County’s biodiversity and culture. Then catch up with a bit of mental health, written by yours truly. Head over to the Music guide, read lots of good news and a bit of poetry. Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you at one of the many parades happening all over Lake County!

What’s Up This Week – 11.24.23

Well, ready or not, the holiday season is in full swing! As usual, the last autumn leaves are ready to give way to a winter slumber, and we remember and give thanks. The Bloom wants to thank you, our readers, for generously supporting us. And a huge thanks to those who advertise in The Bloom. Thank you all. The Bloom can’t do what we do without our community support. And speaking about our community, one of my favorite things about living in Lake County is our small businesses. Our small business owners are our friends, neighbors, and community leaders. And the simple fact is Lake County would not be what it is without them. So The Bloom is thrilled to bring you our shopping guide in Middletown with a couple of brand-new businesses for you to check out! Then, catch up with our most recent Pay It Forward article and one new addition for the holiday season. For some, the holidays might not be the happiest time of year, and we want to include a weekly article reflecting that. As always, don’t miss out on what’s happening with our live music venues, some good news, poetry, and history. From the bottom of my heart, I am grateful for you, and I wish you the happiest Thanksgiving.

What’s Up This Week – 11.17.23

Well, it’s that time of year again. We are about to get really busy for a while and then go back to a more normal pace come about January 2nd. There’s so much to do in such a short period of time, it seems. And when the new year rolls around, we’ll probably think of so many things we wanted to do and just couldn’t fit it all in. In any case, we’ve already filled our calendars for the rest of the year with must-dos!

For the past three years, The Bloom has put together a holiday shopping guide every week between Thanksgiving and Christmas to support Lake County’s small businesses. I never could have imagined that our businesses would need support now as much as they did during covid, but, the truth is, they do. So, without further ado, we’re going to get a jump start on our shopping guide by sharing some great local wines meant to pair with your holiday meals and time with friends and family. Then, join Kathleen Scavone as she talks about the amazing terroir in Lake County and the science that makes our wines exceptional. And don’t forget to catch up with Mike Guarniero and the Music Guide–there’s lots going on in the area over the weekend. Then add a little good news, some poetry, and a dose of local history to make a great start to your weekend!

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.

Celebrate With the New Bloom!

My, how time flies, The Bloom is turning five this year! Can you believe it? Not only that, but The Bloom just incorporated and, you may have noticed, we have a new domain name, thebloom.news. Thanks to your monthly donations, The Bloom has been and continues to be free to all who subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

So what does all of this mean? We want to celebrate, of course! So here’s the deal. Donate $10 or more monthly, and you’ll get Bloom stickers in the mail. Donate $20 a month or more, and expect to get a Bloom hat or T-shirt–your choice! And for our top monthly donors, you will be invited to a one of kind dinner with The Bloom and its writers in late summer or early fall. So if you’re already donating, keep it up! And if you’re not already donating, it’s not too late. If you donate for three consecutive months, you’re in on the goodies. So let us spoil you as we celebrate together! Click on the button below to donate.

This week we’re happy to tell you about our recent trip to one of our local theaters. And don’t forget to check out our recent Pay It Forward article as we visit another local small business! Plus, don’t forget to check out our weekly poetry. Finally, in between visiting your live music venues, be sure to check out the annual Buckingham Test and Tune as the tradition returns to Lake County once again. Have a great weekend Lake County!

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.

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.

My Blue Zones Journey: The New Year

My hat’s off to those of you who kept your New Year’s resolutions regarding diet throughout the whole year. As for me, I didn’t go overboard, but I enjoyed every bite, morsel, and crumb of all my favorite holiday foods knowing January and healthier choices were just around the corner. And here we are, well into January and the start of our new year. Now I know a thing or two about vegetarian food and may share some of your concerns regarding, shall we say, the way it tastes? I was raised vegetarian, and I am pretty familiar with a vegetarian diet. I know for sure two things: I hope I never eat my mother’s lentil/walnut meatloaf again. And I will always have bacon in my home from time to time.

A RealAge Journey: The Holiday Test

How’s your RealAge journey going? If you’re like me, trying to fit in a health plan in the middle of the holiday season comes with its ups and downs. But I just downloaded the Sharecare App, and already I’m learning new things. Did you know that how long you can stand on one foot with your eyes closed is another indication of your real age? It is worth looking at once you’ve finished your RealAge test. Going back to the holidays, I can honestly say there are many things I did well over Thanksgiving and one thing I’m going to improve on during this Christmas.

I Love Poison Oak

It’s springtime again, and all the bushes and flowers are slowly coming back to life. This slow budding of the new season also is happening with one of my favorite plants: poison oak. Even in its budding, it’s beautiful. Three small leaves poke out, bright green and red-orange. They spread across the ground, wind their way up trees, and work their way across fields. Then, as summer is followed by fall, they turn golden, red, and orange, covering those fields with a painter’s palate-worth of color. However, not everyone feels the same way that I do about this plant. “I hate it,” most people tell me. But that is something I could never, ever, do. You see, my love for poison oak is hard-earned.

Complimentary Tastings, Free Appetizers, Discounts on Rooms – Why Wouldn’t You Want to Get a Lake County Winery Passport?

Spring’s in the air, and it’s a great time to get out and support some of our local wineries and businesses. And what better way to do it than by getting a Winery Passport? It’s got complimentary tasting at eighteen Lake County wineries, plus a host of other perks. Pick up a free appetizer at the Saw Shop Public House when you purchase an entry, enjoy a complimentary kayak rental from Clearlake Campground, or get a discount on a room at one of several places, such as the Tallman Hotel or The Lodge at Blue Lakes. You’ll pay $66.95 per passport, and once you go to a couple of wineries, you’ll have paid for it already. For more information about the program and to purchase, head to the Lake County Winery Association Website.

Got Some Writing Skills and Want to Make Some Cash? The Bloom is Looking for Restaurant and Winery Reviews

The Bloom seeks quality restaurant and winery reviews. If you love Lake County’s food and wine and have the ability to tell a story, get in touch with us. We’re looking for storytellers, not reporters, and consider the ability to communicate an experience of vital importance. For more information, check out our submission guidelines.

It’s Easy to Help Out: Support The Bloom and Watch Us Grow

We want to thank you for being a part of our vision. It’s you, our readers, who make what we do possible. And we’re succeeding! In our first two years, we’ve shared our vision with over 104 countries and tens of thousands of different people.
However, our mission still needs some love to grow. With your support, we can add more columns, write more restaurant reviews, profile more of our best businesses, and showcase the tremendous outdoor opportunities our county has to offer.
That’s why we’ve set up an option to support The Bloom financially. It’s a great way to help promote our positive message and further The Bloom’s vision. We’ve set up donations to be simple: starting at $5/month, you can help us move forward. Once you donate, then comes the fun part: watching us grow. The Bloom has lots of plans in the works, and your support will allow them to become a reality.
We believe that when we help each other, we will all succeed. Financially supporting The Bloom will not just help us grow; it will also help our local economy, as we are all about encouragine local businesses. We are a community-focused organization, and none of our efforts would be possible without the help of people and businesses like you. Your support is greatly appreciated and will make a difference.
Thank you for being a part of our community and our story.

TO SUPPORT THE BLOOM, VISIT https://thebloom.wpengine.com/support

The Thankfulness Game

Right now, our nation is being challenged. At times it seems like our current crisis can bring so much division that we forget what we have in common. We all want a roof over our heads and food on the table. We all search for happiness. We all want to feel hope.
Even so, we are in the midst of racial, health, and political issues that have yet to resolve. Each day seems only to stir the pot more. These in-between moments when everything is uncertain are the most discouraging. It’s hard to stay happy with so much fear, anxiety, and anger happening in our world.
On the days our family gets down, we like to play the Thankful Game. We call it a game, but it’s more like an idea. The only rule is to think of things we’re thankful for. No, it doesn’t solve the world’s problems, but it helps us remember the good things we do have while we address the stressful issues happening in our society.
Here are five things that we at The Bloom are thankful for, in no particular order:
1. We are thankful that we have the right to gather in peaceful demonstrations. No matter what we believe, we have the right to be heard.
2. We are thankful that as a community, we have looked out for small businesses and supported them when they might have otherwise closed their doors permanently.
3. We are thankful for our essential workers making sure our basic needs are met.
4. We are thankful for countless volunteers who look out for those who are most vulnerable.
5. We are thankful for you, our readers.
We realize that the Thankful Game doesn’t change anything, but it does remind us that we still have hope. It shows us that beauty and goodness can speak just as loudly as hate and fear. It shows us that even though the world is in turmoil, we can still find peace. We are surrounded by beautiful things. Let’s not lose sight of that.

The Lake County Howl: Letter from the Editor 4.3.2020

The day has finally closed; it’s eight o’clock in the evening. Daylight has settled into twilight, and the sky, purple-grey, slowly dims to black. Then, off in the distance, a loud, lingering noise rises from the valleys, bounces off the mountains, and echoes through the night air. It’s time for the community howl. People all over the county pop out of their homes, stand in their backyards, and do their best wolf imitation.

A little over a week ago, the howl came to Lake County, echoing across the rooftops in Hidden Valley Lake, reverberating off Cobb Mountain, and bouncing off the waters of Clear Lake. Perhaps it’s a whim, but every night, like clockwork, it happens. It’s true; we’re all cooped up right now. The evening howl is a great way to work off some steam and to remember that we still do have neighbors, and they may be a bit weird, too.

Our family looks forward to the moment when the clock strikes eight. Then we pop outside, stand on our patio and let go. “Hawoooo!” we yell, and our dog chips in for good measure. Then we stop and listen. There, in the valley below us, an answering “Oooooooo” rises in the night air. There’s another human out there! We howl back and forth for a few minutes, sharing a small connection during a time when our entire society is disconnected. Sure, it seems a little bit silly, but it’s so lovely to let all the frustrations and worries out and just howl. For those few moments, there’s no SIP, no COVID, no stress, just a call into the evening air. You can call it cheap therapy, a sure sign of our county’s loneliness, or just plain strange. Whatever you think of it, it’s happening all around you. And oh, it feels so good just to let go.

So, tonight at eight, head out to your backyard and give your best wolf imitation. And if you’re too cool to make a fool of yourself, don’t worry. We’ll howl louder for you.


It’s springtime again, and all the bushes and flowers are slowly coming back to life. This slow budding of the new season also is happening with one of my favorite plants: poison oak. Even in its budding, it’s beautiful. Three small leaves poke out, bright green and red-orange. They spread across the ground, wind their way up trees, and work their way across fields. Then, as summer is followed by fall, they turn golden, red, and orange, covering those fields with a painter’s palate-worth of color. However, not everyone feels the same way that I do about this plant. “I hate it,” most people tell me. But that is something I could never, ever, do. You see, my love for poison oak is hard-earned.

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