And The Beat Goes On…

My last post was on Oct. 8th, 2017, day one of the infamous fires that ravaged Sonoma County that fall. An almost wordless post, it was more a tribute to the resiliency of the people of Sonoma County and our cherished first responders. The County was again threatened this past week with hot temperatures and dry winds from the east, the perfect conditions for a repeat performance of the tragedy. Infrastructure failsafes are now in place but to say many suffer from PTSD during these red flag episodes would not be an overstatement.

Today in an attempt to restart my stalled blog, I am posting a more light-hearted story. However, light-hearted is a relative term because as a vineyard owner, we now have to add bears to the list of possible crop spoilers that we have to contend with every season. Click here to enjoy this story about the bears of Navarro Winery in Alexander Valley. At least they have a sophisticated palate!

Black bear, cinnamon phase, in forest


Story from Food&

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Sunday, October 8th, 2017…

…an impossible post to write.

Red Dog has survived the firestorm. We stayed after mandatory evacuations; some would say that was crazy on our part, others who know Tom and I will understand that we did not take this decision lightly. Nor did we make it alone. A few other neighbors also stayed and we worked together to patrol our area, protect what structures we could, and work out our exit strategies if need be. I cannot even come close to recounting the stories that you have probably already read in the papers and on social media. The network news has also shown their viewers a peek into the depth of the tragedy that unfolded in the very late hours of Sunday, October 8th.

I will say that when we went to bed on Sunday night, it was peaceful. Several hours later the wind was shaking the house and moments after that we smelled the smoke and rose to see that the sky was orange in three directions. And so began a week of ups and downs that left us exhausted but grateful. PTSD is a very real thing; I can feel it even though I am standing on property that remained unscathed. I cannot even fathom how people who lost everything are feeling this stress.

So, rather than creating a week-long scenario on this blog, I am posting some pictures from the firestorm in no particular order or theme. They just moved me…



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View from the next door neighbors


Rancho Adobe Firefighters came for coffee



Historic Barn lost




First Engine that arrived in our subdivision



Fire at neighbor’s vineyard


Firefighters at camp




The rebuilding of the Santa Rosa area will be slow and painstaking…keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Love, Tom, Deb, and Honey



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Iceland – 1.5 days in

It’s 12:00 midnight and we are in Skogar, on the southern coast of Iceland. Our first night was a pretty much benign visit to Reykjavik, the capital and, you know, the typical; good food, City center walk, three hour nap, another City center walk, more good food, two shots of Jäger (yes, you read that right!) and a last hit of Icelandic Schnapps or as they call it Black Death. Slept well…next morning, lets hit some sites! Golden Circle, check…wait! We are almost stuck in the snow on the way to the geysers and from what I have heard a pretty incredible waterfall. Bummer, we beat a hasty retreat. On to Skogar along the southern coast…maybe we will have better luck?

GPS! OMG!  What a nightmare. Good thing we have our wits about us and know when Garmin of Iceland is off her rocker! But more about that later. On the way to our destination, we meet some shaggy Icelandic ponies, some inquisitive sheep who came out to greet us as we walked along the road, and argue with Siri of Garmin, henceforth known as Sarmin. Finally we arrive at…

Skogar…lovely little town, lovely falls. Our hotel is cute and clean and exactly where we thought it would be despite Sarmin. We unpack, open some wine and relax for a few. Dinner is at 9 so why not hit the hottub and sauna? It’s crowded, but we can finish our bottle there…

So, how many people does it take in a hottub in Iceland to have fun? Well as it turns out, not that many, especially if they are native Icelanders! After we lamented the poor Sarmin directions, we heard a really sad GPS story: the guy from New Jersey who two weeks ago believed too much in his Garmin ( Mind you, the guy is a Icelandic folk legend now! BTW, Sarmin does not like Reykjavik. We know, as she tried to send us to the local Íslandsbanki 20 minutes outside the capital city. Our first day!!! Thanks Sarmin, we could use the cash on this trip but we really don’t think their lounge is all that comfy.

Another topic: how not to get killed in Iceland…always good to know! Don’t trust your Garmin, don’t turn your back on the sea on the black beaches at Vik, and don’t climb on the active icebergs at Glacier Bay! Wow! A wealth of good advice all of which we will heed! Thank you, gang…great time, new friends!

Anyway, we are tucked in, it’s late and I am on Northern Lights patrol. Nothing yet, but the weather is clear and the wind is howling so why wouldn’t I want to put on my snow pants and parka and head outside for the show? Maybe I will invite Sarmin to tag along…

Maybe pics tomorrow…Wordpress is not cooperating! Good night!



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Sonoma Stillness

I opened my Red Dog blog tonight and realized that it has been over a year and half since I last posted. Astounding to me that time flies so fast and that I have not deemed it necessary to write another post. But life happens, trips are taken, vineyards are ripped out and replaced, and, well, just well… Stepping outside the front door with Honey tonight has compelled me to open the dreaded wordpress site and bang out my thoughts.

What first drew me to take a look outside was the silence; no constant rustle of leaves from the sometimes unrelenting winds of Sonoma Mountain, or the far off sound of farm implements bringing in the harvest. Even traffic in the distance seemed muffled and respectful of this quiet autumn equinox. I watch a few birds flying low, actually hearing their wings gently moving through the early night. And I realize this is a big reason why I live here…peace and serenity are not easy things to find nowadays.

Tonight as I write this, we have one block of pinot noir already picked and happily fermenting in their bins, another block of pinot that is soon to be harvested, and the biggest part of the vineyard planted to root stock that will be ready to be grafted in the spring. Farming is not the easiest and we can only hope going forward that the vineyard stays healthy. After the beautiful gift I was given tonight, one thing I know for sure is that this occupant at Red Dog Ranch will be happy.


“It’s not really drinking alone if your dog is home” – Honey


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Istanbul, early evening…it is raining and the streets are wet and slippery. Even so, the streets are crowded with people bundled up against the cold winter chill and the shops and restaurants are doing a brisk business. I return to the hotel after an early dinner consisting of a small borek and a glass of red wine. My borek tonight was vegetarian by choice, filled with lightly sautéed mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes; the wine a fruity Turkish red of some unknown varietals…it was a simple meal, but satisfying. My first day alone in the center of Istanbul has ended and it went well; a return to the Grand Bazaar, a peak into the Blue Mosque with its dazzling mosaics, a lovely cup of coffee shared with an elderly English gentleman I met along the way. I have overcome my fears; the culture, the language, the transit, and made peace with this city of minarets. Tomorrow holds infinite promise…I await the call of the muezzin.


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Oh! The mojitos…

The sound of pounding surf on crystalline beaches; salt spray and sand on skin and hair plumped by the humidity of a warm Caribbean breeze; the soft sway of the ship rocking you to sleep back and forth, back and forth; the steel drums playing the happy yet haunting beat of the islands; the thrill of ocean sailing on a 12 meter sailboat; sarongs and sandals, ocean swimming and snorkeling; counting the many colors of blue in the Caribbean waters; the mojitos. Oh, the mojitos…

(For all my friends in the Midwest (and elsewhere) click here to open up a new tab with some appropriate background music then either return to the post for my slideshow or pause first to enjoy the delightful images on the YouTube screen!)

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“I know I should be leaving this climate.
I got a verse but can’t rhyme it.
I gotta go where it’s warm. ” – J. Buffett

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September Harvest

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September 20, 2013 · 5:52 pm