February 25, 2012

Wintering in San Francisco

Thought gardening is a new diversion for me, I’ve always enjoyed botanical prints on the brink of arts and science. On a recent trip to San Fran I discovered how the other coast winters -- as we use summer as a verb thought there is no crime in using winter as a verb also.

This is February? There is not much to say, really, so enjoy the photos.

No, this is not a visit to a gentile botanical garden, this is a city street just off Valencia.

Lush, lush city street.

I could not on good authority confirm that this is a cherry tree, but sure looked like it.

Where is Waldo? Mr. Modern Klatch did the photos for this post. Klatch's first-born and I were caught by the camera.

February 22, 2012

February 19, 2012

February Assortment: Taxidermy to Fine French Wine

Here are a few recent topics of interest, perhaps more non sequitur than usual.
First taxidermy. The word conjures either meth lab or a Victorian parlor. Paxton Gate, a store on Valencia in San Francisco we recently visited, is more of the latter. The shop is chockfull of mounted butterflies, fossil samples, beakers, and, yes, stuffed animals. Sure, some things are a bit on the creepy side (say mice skeletons dressed in the doll sized period costumes), but overall it is like stepping into a cabinet of curiosities.

Butterfly from Paxton Gate
Framed butterflies, Paxton Gate's less morose offering.  Yes, one came home with me. Photo from Paxton Gate.

Paxton Gate runs a children’s outpost a few doors down, mostly thinking child’s toys and books. On the walls there were a few specimen of plush mounts. I have my eye on a certain monkey and a couple bears in the toy room.

Plush Trophy from Paxton Gate
I am thinking this will be just the right finishing touch for the playroom. Photo from Paxton Gate.

I do not write nearly often enough about wine. To restore justice behold this lovely chardonnay from Mâcon Villages. The villages, 43 of them, are in Mâconnais in Burgundy but that’s not important. What is important is that Burgundy’s whites are glorious, chardonnay grape at its best, unlike the trampy heavily oaked version passed off as chardonnay. So please get yourself a bottle to sample.

Photo from my kitchen, just before the bottle was polished off.

For years I've been planning to buy a proper trench coat. No ruffles or vampy spikes. Simple and clean. Not too short, not too long. Not sure why it took me so long, but now this one is on is way from the good people of J.Crew.  Once the package arrives in 3-5 business days, I will be set for spring.
Trench coat from J.Crew
Photo from J.Crew.

A few recent posts:

February 15, 2012

February 11, 2012

Serendipity in Sonoma: Petaluma

Speaking of heirloom tomatoes, as luck would have it we recently found ourselves smack in the middle of Sonoma Valley, passing by the town of Petaluma.

Petaluma has never been on my mental map but just a few days before we boarded Virgin America for sunny California my Baker Creek seed catalogue arrived in the mail. You see, buoyed by last year’s unexpected gardening success, I have big ambitions for growing juicy tomatoes. And Petaluma, on our way to the wine country, is home to Baker Creek’s seed bank!

The seed bank is literally an old bank, with high ceilings, moldings from the gilded age, and thousands of packets of famed heirloom seeds in neat rows.

The Seed Bank on main street, a Mecca! 

Though frankly I am after the fresh veg that tastes amazing, we have been reading up on heirloom seeds. Heirlooms are not hybrids and are not genetically modified (ie natural selection over human intervention).

Heirloom flowers dahlias and morning glory
Neat rows of dahlias and morning glories.

Choosing tomato seeds is not as easy as one might imagine. Pink tomatoes and striped tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and giant tomatoes, Russian tomatoes and Japanese tomatoes. One of the garden-wise employees pointed me to Green Zebras and Pantano Romanesco.

Heirloom tomatoes seeds from Baker Creek
Rows and rows of tomato seeds
In a so-very-California turn of events a couple dudes acquiring seeds for a well known local restaurant (seasonal, heirloom, local, of course), helped round out my picks.

Stay tuned for more gardening updates. And if you know anything about growing tomatoes, be a dear and share your tips.

February 1, 2012

Glorious Venice

Is wordless Wednesday still a thing?
Joseph Mallord William TurnerThe Dogana and Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, 1843
Source: The National Gallery of Art


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