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February 18, 2020

Racy blends

In between winter storms, a bright, sunny weekend beckoned me out to a wine tasting at Miramar Vineyards. Several groups, celebrating various milestones, filled the expansive patio, overlooking a vastness of vineyards and rolling green hills. Nearby, a team of wine drinkers played bocce ball on the shaded court.

Seeing nature through photography

If you enjoy the outdoors, it is likely you are a photographer. You are on the trail and come around a bend. Suddenly, the world drops away and a vast landscape stretches to an incomprehensibly distant horizon. When nature shows off like this, it is natural to want to preserve it in pixels.The grand landscape will always be the top priority to a hiker with a camera, but with practice, photography can also be a window to natural beauty that we routinely pass by unnoticed.Over the years, I have been to a handful of photographic seminars, always in a place of special natural beauty. But I am not sure that Yosemite or Point Reyes is the best place to learn to see beyond the usual wide angle landscape. If you gave a camera to a monkey in Yosemite Valley, he would likely return with some nice photographs. How could he miss? But could he take a good photograph in a vacant lot?I believe that the measure of a good photographer is one who makes extraordinary images in ordinary surroundings. Cultivating the heightened visual acuity necessary to create images like this is an excellent way to bring us closer to the natural world. Getting out into nature is important, but when we go, we should strive to walk into it and not just through it.I am better at preaching it than doing it, but photography has helped me open my eyes to natural beauty that I would have otherwise passed without notice. It has awakened me to the beauty of nature at my feet or close at hand that I never saw before. It has challenged me to see with a child’s eyes and discover extraordinary sights in ordinary places.With this in mind, photography becomes as much a practice in expanded seeing as the pursuit of a picture. You don’t need a hoochy-coochy Nikon SLR to do this. Next time you hit the trail, grab your pocket camera. Use your hike as an opportunity to really look at the “ordinary” sights you pass. Is there a spider web bejeweled with morning dew? Are some fallen maple leaves resting on autumn’s tawny grasses just so? How about the brightly colored lichen on that rock? I wonder if a photo of the sycamore trees reflected in that creek pool will look like one of Monet’s impressionist paintings.It is a bit surprising, but I have learned that images of simple scenes like this wear far better on a viewer’s eyes than the photo of the alpine peaks bathed in alpenglow. Mark my words, you will take that image off the wall while the picture of the maples leaves on the grass continues to please.The possibilities are endless. As we look more carefully, we begin to see more deeply. In the process, we learn that the ordinary things we pass without notice are indeed extraordinary.

Burning for you

All marriages have their struggles, but women whose husbands are running toward flaming danger while everyone else is running away face special struggles.

Best of Out & About, Jan. 27, 2017

Take your fitness resolution outdoors and discover a few of the nearby hidden hiking gems for the Hike the Magnificent Seven #PixInParks Challenge. Seven handpicked hikes present picturesque settings for a selfie or group photo as proof of completion. Check out the trails at Coyote Lake Harvey Bear Ranch County Park or Mount Madonna Ridge in Gilroy. Share your photo using the hashtag #MummyMountain or #TieCamp. Submit photos from all seven hikes from now through Friday, Dec. 1, 2018. For complete instructions go to of the RoosterExplore traditions observed by the Asian culture at the Children’s Discovery Museum, Lunar New Year celebration and usher in the Year of the Rooster. Parents and little ones will have fun watching cultural performances and seeing live roosters at the petting zoo. Get the kids involved in culturally relevant arts and crafts and learn calligraphy from artist Jin Feng. Come have a blast on Saturday, Feb. 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 5 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Museum on 180 Woz Way in San Jose. Production: please use: Fungus Fun HikeBe fascinated by fun fungus as you hike along the Timm Trail, Spike Jones Trail and more in search of Coe Park fungi. Your guide, Chris Macintosh, is an expert in identifying the many mushrooms and fungi along the trails. Wear sturdy footwear and layered clothing, and be prepared for possible encounters with poison oak and ticks. Pack an easy lunch and bring plenty of water for this moderate hike on Saturday, Feb. 11 from 9:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Meet at the Hunting Hollow Entrance off of Gilroy Hot Springs Road. Parking is $6. Reservations are required at Artist ShowGilroy Arts Alliance presents an exhibition featuring the art of Richard Young. Young’s works include his highly regarded Toward Tranquility paintings originally created for the Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art. Young is a celebrated artist and a local businessman in Gilroy and has taught painting, sculpture and computer graphics at Gavilan College. The exhibit will be on display through Feb. 19 at the Gilroy Center for the Arts on 7341 Monterey St. For more information go to gilroyartsalliance.comCrab FeedTrained service dogs and disabled persons go together like crab, pasta, salad and garlic bread at the Operation Freedom Paws (OFP) Inaugural all-you-can-eat Crab Feed benefit. Lend your support to OFP, which pairs disabled veterans, adults and children with rescue dogs and then trains them together to making a great team for life. If crab is not your thing, request a Cornish game hen as an alternative. There are two chances to participate: Saturday, Feb. 4 or Saturday, March 11 starting at 6 p.m. at Old City Hall Restaurant on 7400 Monterey St. Tickets are $60 for adults and $35 for kids 10 and under. Go to or call 408-641-7137.Country HouseThe Limelight Actors Theater is opening the season with a straightforward, humorous and dramatic performance with The Country House by Donald Margulies and directed by Kevin Heath. The story surrounds a family of performers who have gathered at their summer home for a weekend of unexpected turns involving simmering jealousies, romantic outbursts and passionate soul-searching. Bring your own dinner and wine beginning on Friday, Jan. 27 through Saturday, Feb. 18, at 8 p.m. or on Sunday for a matinee show at 2 p.m. Curtain goes up at the Gilroy Center for the Arts on 7341 Monterey St. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at HILLHiking HistoryGet outdoors and do a little hiking, if the weather allows, with Peninsula Open Space Trust, and explore the rolling grasslands, oak woodland ridges and sage chaparral of Rancho Canada del Oro Open Space Preserve. Join up with docent Paul Billig, who will take you and your friends through many of the preserve’s landmarks and share details about the natural history of the park. Plan to meet up for this relatively slow-paced, 4.3-mile hike on Sunday, Feb. 12 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., next to Calero County Park in Morgan Hill. Sign up to get meeting location and other details at VALLEY Children’s MusicalThe Gilroy Children’s Musical Theater presents Broadway Movie Musical where local youth perform songs from hit shows such as Wicked, Matilda, Legally Blonde, West Side Story and Fiddler on the Roof, recreating Broadway’s greatest moments on film. This full-length feature film will have its final premiere on Sunday Jan. 29, at 4 p.m. at the Cinemark’s Century 20 Oakridge Theater at 925 Blossom Hill Road in South San Jose. Limited tickets are $16 and can be purchased at for WineJoin in on one of the best runs and liveliest parties of the year at the San Jose Ultimate Wine Run where the wine will be flowing. The event will be packed with surprises and the itinerary includes a rocking DJ with dance floor and amazing food trucks. Pack up the lawn chairs and blankets and bring all your friends to experience an epic evening on Saturday, Feb. 11 from 3:30-7:30 p.m. at Arena Green East Park on North Autumn St., San Jose. Register at of find them on facebook.WATSONVILLEGarden ClassesJoin UC Master Gardeners for Demo Garden Class and get hands-on training for various garden needs. Learn about training systems for grapes with Art Nathan who has 40 years experience in the vineyards. You can learn more about basic rose care with Dawn Avery. Candice McLaren will be teaching her “Chix in the City, Hens in the Hood” class for anyone interested in raising chickens. Classes begin on Saturday, Jan. 28 and run from 10 a.m.-Noon monthly at the UC Cooperative Extension on 1430 Freedom Blvd., Suite E. For more information go to

Miss Violet O’Possum

By Colleen Grzan

Remembering the past

I recently came across a envelope full of old photos of my mom when she was a child. A relative had sent them to me after she passed away, and I guess I was not ready to look at them at the time. Now I see in the photos a beautiful child posing in front of a quaint south Boston brownstone, alongside relatives or friends whose faces I do not recognize. I remember my Irish family members as so much older than the folks pictured there. They were all characters who loved to sip whiskey and sing songs of the old country, but you would never know that looking at their stern, stiff expressions in the photos. I wonder what they were doing and saying just before the photos were taken, and I wish their names were listed on the backs. It would help me distinguish between my endless relatives named Mary.

Down matching

Two months ago I shared a summary on a new down payment program designed to help buyers manage the high cost of living in the Bay Area through a shared appreciation investment. Since that brief introduction, the program has improved and is worthy of a quick refresher.

Wine your manners

Don’t wear fragrance. Colognes can interfere with your (or other’s) ability to sense some wine’s delicate notes.

Baby it’s kale outside

A number of years ago I was on a tour of Highgrove Royal Gardens in England. At this, the private residence of Their Royal Highness, we marveled at the beautiful hostas and ooohed and aaahed over the meadows of wildflowers. It was all quite stunning, my dears. And at the end of the tour guide slowed her pace. She lowered her voice nearly to a whisper as she announced “And here … we have … the California Wild Lilac!” Sounds of delight and awe rippled through our tour group. My colleague and I exchanged quick glances—so much build up for a native California plant that we routinely fly by on the highway without a second thought (no booing here, I truly love our hardworking ceanothus). And I couldn’t help but think about how much coddling and care must go into keeping that Mediterranean climate-loving shrub happy so far from its native soil.

Best race yet

It took 160 hours of training for a 7 ½ minute improvement. To set a personal-record (PR) at the California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento on Dec. 4, I had to train harder than ever. That meant running 60 miles a week, six days a week (Sunday was my lone day off). My “recovery” runs were anywhere from 7 to 8 miles.