Monthly Archives: May 2012

A Weekend Retreat

We are fortunate to have generous friends who offered us their home in Geyserville for a weekend get-away. Bob and I agreed that we’d focus on relaxing, and not do our usual see-and-do-everything-possible that we tend to do (and enjoy) when we go somewhere new. This was not somewhere new to me as I’ve used this house for writing and reading retreats previously, but it was the first time Bob and I (and our dog Trixie) were getting away there. It was an amazing weekend – and we felt rejuvenated, relaxed, and reconnected after just a couple of days. Wow! Here are some highlights:

Fabulous views all around of green fields, vineyards, towering trees. The was air infused with eucalyptus and oak. All around us birds called, crickets and cicadas buzzed. It was amazing. We went on a couple of hikes that made us feel like we were a world away.

A fuzzy picture taken of a fox that wandered past the house at dusk. We also saw other wildlife – deer, lizards, bats, and many birds (red-tail hawks, turkey vultures, a great blue heron, robins, scrub jays, a hummingbird, etc.)

Bob took this picture on one of our hikes. I love the moss covering the bark.

Sometimes unplanned photos are the best – I wanted to snap a shot of the daisies (are they daisies? I’m less sure about flora than fauna) behind barbed wire, but Trixie decided to stick her head into the shot.

Of course we did a little wine-tasting and dining out and about. This amazing appetizer of triple-cream mozzerella and maitake mushrooms mixed with crispy pork bits was the starter for our meal at Diavola’s in Geyserville.

These flash- fried calamari at Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar in Healdsburg were the absolute best I’ve ever had! They were perfectly crisp and crunchy on the outside and tender (not at all rubbery) on the inside. The tangy-sweet orange chili sauce was delicious!

The best meal we had over the weekend was at Catelli’s in Geyserville. Unfortunately I neglected to take photos. Bob had the Michael’s pasta of penne, mushrooms, sausage, homemade sauce and moscarpone. He thought the sauce was perfectly balanced and the housemade sausage divine. Bob is a tough sell so when he loves a meal, it’s a big deal.  I had the most incredible penne with butter garlic sauce. Sounds dull, but it was so buttery good that I am craving it now!

Of course no trip is ever complete without stopping in a bookstore. Copperfields Books didn’t disappoint and of course I ended up buying a couple of books (including the journal in my hands in the above pic)!

For most of the weekend, though, we read. It was leisurely and relaxing. Bob also played his ukelele and we watched episodes from the DVD set I got for Bob a couple of Christmases ago of The French Chef. (Note to adults: Try taking a sip of wine every time Julia says “butter” and you will end up drunk faster than you can melt butter! LOL We gave up after half an episode!)

Before we packed up to go home at the end of a perfect weekend, we stopped by the Francis Ford Coppola winery. We enjoyed walking through the small museum and gift shop. Did you know that filming for Apocalypse Now was supposed to take 16 weeks but ended up taking a year and a half due to troubles and mishaps? And that Coppola so believed in the film that he financed it himself? That’s dedication! And rough work for cast and crew in the jungles of the Philippines!

This is the desk and chair used in most of The Godfather films.

I loved all the displays – seeing the original script for The Godfather, Coppola’s handwritten notes of the actors he was considering, and this one, his Oscars!

It was a lovely weekend retreat for sure! We may try to do another similar one down the coast in the near future! Thanks to our friends for letting us stay at their fabulous home!

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Our Japanese Garden

Bob and I have long desired a Japanese/Zen garden, but we moved too often to seriously consider it. Now that we’ve finally settled somewhere and have no plans to move and now that we have a fenced in backyard, this dream became a real possibility. Then, we went to Kyoto last fall and visited the amazing gardens. We were awed and inspired. It was time. We hired the awesome 5K Construction and Design who did a great job with our sewer line replacement and new driveway project, to design and install our dream garden. They made our dreams come true!

We do love our backyard with an outdoor living space, our fruit trees, and room for vegetables and herbs to grow. Here’s a before shot of the area of our yard we just didn’t love:

The bushes annoyed the heck out of both of us – with their tangles and tiny flowers. They grew too quickly and made the yard look shabby and crowded. The only thing we liked about this area was the shed and the Japanese magnolia tree (which blooms gorgeous pink flowers every spring). We discussed what we envisioned with the designer, showed him photos of our visit to Kyoto, and this is the dream garden we ended up with:

Clean lines, plenty of space, and a meditation deck/bench! Perfect! Bob and I personally picked out the large rocks. The original fountain we agreed upon was a rock bubbler but the company went out of business. We found this deer clacker fountain instead. We had to have 5K mute the sound a bit (since we didn’t want to annoy the neighbors), but otherwise everything came out exactly as we’d hoped!

I sit on this bench almost every day to practice mindful meditation, relax, contemplate, think of new story ideas, listen to the sounds of birds and the neighborhood, and daydream. On weekends, Bob joins me and we enjoy a glass of wine and great conversation.

This is my view when I sit on my bench. Lovely, yes?

Another view of our garden. Thank you 5K and crew!

I wish you could hear the lovely sound of the fountain – the water trickling as it fills the bamboo, and the water splashing the river rocks as the bamboo clacks against stone. Nice.

Bob and I found this authentic (made in Japan) stone “temple/lantern” in Japantown, San Francisco.

We bought this bell in Kyoto after visiting one of the many gorgeous gardens there.

Peace and love! Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

–debbi

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