Journal: 2016


Some recent good news has spurred me to start digging through all the remaining memorabilia that i’d not already got rid of.  Most particularly going through my collection of slides and photos that started when i got my first 35mm camera in 1957, a task that i’d been putting off for decades even though i’d made it much easier by throwing away unreviewed all of my later photos during my Depression of 2002.  Didn’t throw out the earlier material because it was in a different place and i was too depressed to find it.

This time, I dug out my old projector and set to work looking at the slides.  There were some surprises, the first being that i took so few photos most of my life.  For example, one roll of film was enough to cover all five years i spent teaching at Midland College, which is not so much a comment on me as on Midland.  Worse yet, not a single shot there was worth looking at twice.

The only period during which i took a lot of photos was during my stay in Europe when i was in the Army 64-66, and i came home with several hundred.  What amazed me as i reviewed them was that i was able to recall in the great majority of instances the city in which they were taken and quite often, the name of the building i was photographing.  Virtually all of my photos were of architecture and landscape, and i had neither talent nor good equipment, so even though looking at the photos gave me the joy of remembering my travels, the only ones worth saving were some i took of the Keukenhof in April, ’66 and which i retrofitted into my coverage of the Keukenhof 39 years later during one of my stays in Amsterdam when the flowers were just as lovely, but the trees were 39 years taller.  See Amsterdam by Foot and scroll down to “Zondag 15 mei 2005 – Keukenhof”.

Even back then i was reluctant to take photos of people, so it came as no surprise that i found precious few of my friends and family in the fifties and sixties, but there were a handful that i’ll be converting to tifs and attaching to emails as soon as i can figure out how to use the slide to file feature on my scanner.

Meanwhile, here’s a photo that was taken when i was rafting the South Fork of the American River in about ’83.  The young woman to my right is clearly howling with delight over the time of her life, but my head was down for more leverage as i paddled for our lives.

South Fork of the American River

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Great Success

Regarding Apple vs. the FBI: Is the door to your home so strong that it’s a threat to national security?


Yes, i know that my most popular posts among both my fans are those describing in painstaking detail instances in which i’ve screwed up, but let me take a break from that and write up an occasion on which everything went right.

In my previous post i said i’d gone through all my old photos and slides and had found a few that were good shots of friends.  Well, i figured out how to use the scanner to convert slides to tif files, and i sent to friends those files i thought they’d enjoy.

The response was gladdening.  Everyone liked ’em.  A first cousin once removed got back to me that the shots i’d sent of her late uncle were the best she had of him.  My favorite was a shot of three friends and me posed with our racquets on a tennis court where we’d regularly played doubles until we graduated from high school and went our separate ways, and that one led to an excellent extended email dialogue.  Another that got a good reception from two who were in it was of a pile of a half-dozen college freshmen deeply involved in a dorm floor wrestling match that involved large amounts of shaving cream.

The moral of this story is to go through all those old photos and share them with folks in them.  You’ll all love it.  Do it now before you die or something.

Meanwhile, we’re having what is hopefully just a break in this year’s lifesaving rains, and i’m taking advantage of the sunshine to get out of the house.  Is it springtime here or what?

springtime in Petaluma

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I don’t trust either one of ’em. The difference is that Apple wants to sell things to me or information about me to others, while the FBI wants to throw me in jail until they figure out, at their leisure, something to charge me with.


My Dutch friend Rina’s father had been given an opportunity he couldn’t refuse to work for free in a German factory, and then, after the factory was bombed in early ’44 was bid auf Wiedersehen and allowed to walk back home.  Luckily, his factory was in the Ruhr, so it was only 300 km.   At only 30 miles a day, you could do it in a week.  Well, if you weren’t a factory slave who’d been overworked and underfed for several years and couldn’t take the shortest route.

He got home as the serious food shortages hit and saved his family from starvation by sneaking out at night to parks where he remembered tulip beds and returning with a sack of bulbs, a source of carbohydrates that Rina says doesn’t taste too bad when you’re really, really hungry.

Of course we Americans had some minor hardships.  For the duration of the war, automobiles were not made since the factories had been converted to the manufacture of jeeps, trucks, and other military vehicles, not to mention tanks and airplanes. And since the Japanese had cut off supplies of rubber, new tires for civilian vehicles vanished, and there were rubber drives collecting old tires, garden hoses, and smaller rubber items to be converted into tires for the military.

Gasoline and motor oil were strictly rationed and the national speed limit was reduced to 35 MPH to save not only gasoline but also tires.  Oilfield workers, like my father, were not drafted since they were critical in the domestic production of fuel for the war.

In addition to items like shoes and clothes, food was also rationed.  For civilians, chocolate pretty much disappeared by the end of the first year, and rationing of most foodstuffs was begun in mid-’42.  Coffee was rarely found even if you had a ration stamp for it. Rationed foods started with sugar and included meats, butter, fats, oils, cheese, all canned and bottled foods, and dried beans.  This rationing also encouraged civilians to grow fruit and vegetables in “Victory Gardens” since your family could eat all it wanted of what it grew and then barter any extra to others in your area.

My father was a “pumper” in those days, which meant that his job was to keep a bunch of pumping jacks working properly and on the correct schedule, and pumpers were provided houses out in the country in the vicinity of their pumps.  So Daddy planted a large garden, and then when it came into production, built a sty, bought a young sow, fed her what we didn’t eat from the garden until she reached adulthood, had her bred, and then bartered her children.  The ones we didn’t eat.  So we were well fed compared to city folks.

Then in ’44, Daddy got a promotion, but this meant having to move to an apartment in Longview with no garden, so like everyone else’s in town, all our food was rationed.  One of my earliest memories was of my mother letting me help her in the kitchen by mixing the little envelope of red powder into the white oleomargarine and stirring it while i watched it miraculously turn yellow so it could better masquerade as butter.  (You needed the same ration coupon to buy oleo as you did for butter, but butter was a lot more expensive.)

Another fine memory from this time was a visit from my uncle, who was in the army and thus, unlike civilians, could get chocolate.  He brought a six-pack of plain Hershey bars, which my mother immediately took charge of and instituted her own rationing program.  A full serving of this fabulous treat i was too young to have tasted before was one square, and the method of consumption was to place the square on your tongue and, without chewing, allow it to melt in your mouth, thus greatly prolonging your enjoyment.  Optionally, you could wolf it in five seconds, but you weren’t getting another until after the next dinner, dessert not being served at breakfast or lunch.

What in the world, you ask, prompted this essay?  Well, i’m going through all my memorabilia and throwing into the recycling bin stuff like all my photos, diplomas, certificates, photos, and letters of appreciation from former employers, but in one of the folders i found my WWII ration books.  Yes, even small children were issued ration books since they had to eat, too.  And with their books, you could get canned milk, which was not sold to adults.

The best overall online source i found on WWII rationing was the Wikipedia article.  Take a look for a great deal more information than i’ve provided.  If you want more details, you can find them by surfing around in other links on the subject, as it was a complicated system.

Meanwhile, here’s the cover of my empty War Ration Book Two.

War Ration Book Two

Yes, that’s the name i was using when i was two.

And here are the remaining food stamps in my War Ration Book Four.  The whole system was extremely complex, but the red stamps were for meat, and they were almost all used up by the end of rationing after the war.  The blue and green were for different categories of processed foods, but even though we obviously liked the blue category better, i don’t know the difference between what you got with it as opposed to the green.

War Ration stamps from book 4

But don’t worry.  We won’t have rationing again because the whole point of rationing is to prevent the richest from buying up everything and leaving nothing for the rest of us.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Responses

New Friends

Me, i’m for Bernie. Hillary would be just slightly less of the same.


I’ve been living in Petaluma since mid-September and have found it a warm and friendly town.  That said, i had not actually made a friend here until a couple of weeks ago when my nice upstairs neighbor called to the attention of a fellow occupant of this complex that i rode a Segway.

That man was Christian St. Claire, born in Belgium but living in this country much of his adult life, a mechanical genius and a fascinating man who, among other interests is keen on electric vehicles.  He owns electric mopeds, skateboards, hoverboards, and unicycles.  Not to mention several Segways.  Yep, there are two of us in Petaluma.  He’s the one who wears a cowboy hat instead of a helmet, and i’m already on his case about that.

So we’ve hit it off, and he’s proving to be an inexhaustible source of information about Petaluma.  For example, the other day he took me into Skippy’s Egg Store, 951 Transport Way, off N. McDowell. Despite the name, it does not limit itself to eggs although it does specialize in them.  Unfortunately for Skippy, i have recently discovered that a vendor at the Petaluma Farmers’ Market sells duck eggs, which i love even more than chicken eggs, so i’m no longer in the market for chicken eggs.  Skippy’s is a small market with a limited selection, but what draws me is Costcovian prices for dairy products, including Strauss milk and cream in returnable glass bottles as well as Clover milk.

Christian has introduced me to his teenage son, who lives with him, and his friend Jo Ann, who doesn’t.  Actually, he’s socially voracious, seems to know half the population here, and enjoys taking me in places he knows and introducing me to everyone.  Great fun.  And through a process of osmosis, chunks of my French are returning.

Here’s a Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) at Jo Ann’s place.  She’s a gifted gardener and has an astonishing variety of flowering plants as well as a good range of edibles.  The more i see of her, the more i enjoy her.

Zantedeschia aethiopica


Christian has also taken me to the truck farm of a friend of his, Mikel, a man from whom i’d already bought produce at the Petaluma Farmers’ Market.  Small world.  I’ve been after him to bring me in some fresh green garlic, and now that i’ve seen him growing it with mine own eyes, he’s committed to bring some for me next Tuesday.

He and Christian are planning to buy a couple of kids at the auction next week to barbecue since it’s the season and the males are cheap.  I mentioned that i’d love to get involved with this because i’d never dressed a mammal larger than a rabbit.  Christian intuited my hidden agenda and casually mentioned that he’d already laid claim to the brains.  Aaargh, foiled again, but at least we got to trade brain recipes.  Watch for headlines about the breakout of the world’s first cases of Mad Goat Disease, centered on Petaluma, California, and luckily so far confined to only two victims.

Meanwhile, here’s some fava beans (Vicia faba) in the truck garden.

fava beans

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Responses

Proof That It Works!

Homeland Security is focusing on the lesser danger: 2001 is the only year in history in which more people here were killed by Islamic terrorists than dogs.


Oh, my goodness, every time i do a good deed, i get paid back several fold immediately.  Here’s yet another instance.

Last Sunday i kindly took my friend Christian along to the Marin Farmers’ Market so i could introduce him to the market and to some of my favorite vendors.

Well, we both had a good time, me because i got to show him to my vendors and he because he kept running into Francophones he knew, and it was like old home week.  Not, of course, that i didn’t also enjoy trying to resurrect my French.

So i got a great time out of that.

Oh, but it got better.  As we were leaving the market Christian wondered whether we might take a detour on the way home and stop by the Northwestern Pacific drawbridge i’d told him about at the mouth of the Petaluma River.  Sure, it’s a fascinating bridge, and i’ve written about it on several occasions even though i’ve yet to see it closed.

So i cut east on CA 37, pulled off at Black Point on Harbor Dr., turned right on Bay Canyon Rd, crossed the railroad tracks and hooked an immediate left onto little Beattie Ave.  Some avenue, the thing is semi paved and only about a hundred yards long until it passes through a cluster of houses and deadends at the railroad tracks.  Ignore the Private Road sign because it isn’t.

We got out and scrambled up the steps to the tracks, walked down 30 yards to the Keep Out signage at the beginning of the bridge (which is valid since this is the railroad’s bridge), where i left Christian to venture farther while i gimped back to the car.  I’d barely got settled when a pickup pulled up behind me and a man got out, climbed up the stairs, and disappeared down the tracks toward the bridge.  Strange, i thought, since he didn’t seem to have a camera with him and who else would go out there?

I pondered this for a couple of minutes, got out of the car, and immediately noticed that the pickup was equipped fore and aft with those adapters that would let it ride on railroad tracks.  Omigod, he works for NWP and he’s either going to perform some barehanded maintenance, or he’s the bridge tender.

I scrambled up the steps to discover Christian approaching.  Yep, it was the bridge tender and the train is coming.

My feathers drooped as it swept me that this sure was a fine day not to have brought a single camera with me.  Luckily, Christian has one of those smart phones with a camera in it, so he was able to take a video as we sat there beside the tracks marveling as the bridge slowly swung closed and then the train rumbled past and over the river.

Here’s a still shot he took as the bridge was beginning to close.

NWP drawbridge opening at the mouth of the Petaluma River

And here’s the excellent video he made.  Do click on that link and turn on the audio, as his narrative adds to the experience of watching the bridge and the train.  Yes, you do have to sign up for Dropbox to see it, but they don’t ask for a bunch of personal info on you.

If this post whets your appetite for bridges, you might want to click around in my Bridges menu.  Most particularly in The Bridges of the Petaluma to see more photos of this drawbridge.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff

Considering the passionate intensity of Senator Feinstein’s support of domestic surveillance and her war on public encryption, I think Orwell got it wrong: It’s Big Sister who’s watching you.


I didn’t learn about the Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff until all the chef slots were filled, but at least i’m at the top of the waiting list in case there’s a cancellation.  I figure if i get in, i’ll win.  After all, what could Petalumans possibly know about making good chili? I mean, would you go to Dallas to get a New England Clam Chowder recipe? Being an expatriate Texan, i’ll win hands down.  Oh wait, the horrible thought just occurred to me that the judges here might be incapable of appreciating good chili, considering that probably not a single damn one of ’em has ever been to Terlingua.

It comes up in about three weeks, and i’m looking forward to attending even if i’m not cooking.  Actually, it would likely be a good idea to have attended the thing once before becoming a contestant.

The other culinary news is that i’ve discovered a little farm stand off Petaluma Boulevard North that sells really excellent strawberries and have already made a jam of them.  Today i dropped by to return their packaging and pick up a box to eat and discovered that they had on the counter some very nice looking sugar snaps, so i bought some of those to pickle.

Meanwhile, we’re in a positive frenzy of spring here, and everything’s blooming.


I have no idea what that thing above is, but the next one’s the stuff folks here call “ice plant”, a member of the Aizoaceae family.  I’d narrow that down more except that there are 135 genera and about 1900 species in that family.  I’m guessing this one may be in the Delosperma genus.

ice plant. Delosperma?

Here’s a closeup.

ice plant. Delosperma?


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Neighbors

Darby Conley on stem cell research: “If [it] were legal, all you Democrats would be trying to grow little spines in lab dishes.”


For the past three days, i’ve been sitting here watching two new neighbors, a couple of cute little birds (and don’t ask me what they are because i can barely tell a hummingbird from a heron).  They’re trying with little success to build a nest on a ledge beneath my patio roof.  I’ve never built a nest, but i cannot imagine an easier place to build one, and yet these two are utterly inept.  The patio beneath the proposed nest site is covered with bits of would-be nest material that they’ve dropped, but no nest is rising from the ledge.  Apparently, for every piece they add, they knock another off.  I fear they will not be contributing to their gene pool, and this grieves me since i already find them delightful.  Hell, if i knew what they ate, i’d put some out for ’em.

I’ve managed to photograph only one of them, the one who sits on the railing and chirps melodiously while the other one does the work.  I’m guessing it’s the male and am thinking that if he really wants progeny he’ll give her a hand with that nest since she clearly can’t do it all by herself.

Here he is.  If you know his name, contact me.  I’ve gone Googling around for images of birds with speckled breasts, and the closest i’ve found is Cassin’s Finch, Carpodacus cassinii.  But other images of that finch are not even close.  That said, a couple of friends, who by definition know more about birds than i do, say it’s a sparrow.  So i dunno, and for all i know, this could be the female.

Patio bird


Oh, and since i’m featuring fauna today, here’s a Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) who was hanging out in Jo Ann’s garden.

Sceloporus occidentalis



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Butter and Eggs

I do love butter and eggs.  I also Love a Parade.   Oh yes.  And Petaluma’s Butter and Eggs Days Parade and Festival took me back 65 years to the small city parades of my youth when families drove thirty miles into town for the excitement.

And no, we’re not talking about LA’s Rose Bowl Parade or the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans or the Karneval parade in Köln or San Francisco’s gay parade, all known variously for spectacular floats, huge contingents, exquisite satire, bacchanalian revelry, or all of the above.  And hundreds of thousands packing the parade route.

Oh no, let’s scale this down to something appropriate for a population of 59,000.  Spectacular floats?  Well, some effort was put into a good many of ’em, but still.  My favorite was this wonderful rhinoceros truck.

Butter and Eggs Parade


Marching bands?  You bet, four of ’em.  But 76 trombones?  Oh please, lucky to have seven.

Butter and Eggs Parade


Exquisite satire?  Ummm, didn’t see none, nor even much humor other than in some chicken-oriented costuming, like this wonderful crossing guard.

Butter and Eggs Parade

There were lots of contingents of dance schools and clubs, including several Mexican folkloric groups.

Butter and Eggs Parade


Hundreds of thousands packing the parade route?  Actually, i thought the turnout was pretty damn fine for a town this size, as the half of the parade route that went down Petaluma Boulevard was solidly lined on both sides of the street and the food and entertainment venues were pretty well thronged.

Petaluma seems to be a haven for vintage vehicle aficionados, and there were many old cars and trucks in the parade, including some old fire trucks.

Butter and Eggs Parade

Here’s the oldest vehicle.

Butter and Eggs Parade

And the newest.


OK, that’s the SMART train parked at the Petaluma Station.  The city is all excited over SMART, folks packed this train while it was parked there, and we’re eagerly awaiting the opening of service from Santa Rosa to San Rafael this fall.

After i’d photographed every parade entry and – forgetting how awful chili dogs always are in a state where you can’t get decent chili – eaten parts of one at a booth, i met Christian for a drink at a sidewalk cafe on Western Ave just off the boulevard.  He introduced me to Ace Perry Cider, and it was love at first sip.  It was so delicious that i could have drunk several, but fortunately i stood up for a moment as i finished the first and realized that one at 5% alcohol was quite sufficient.  I was looking at the bottle with its drawing of a pear and thinking the Ace folks were indulging in a pedestrian pun until i did a bit of Googling and discovered that “perry“! is the original name for an alcoholic beverage made of pears, just as “cider” was the name of the one made of apples and that furthermore “perry” is also the name of the type of pear, now nearly extinct, traditionally used to make the drink.

I’ve always made it easy for people to be a Bad Influence on me, so i let Christian trick me into having a Lagunitas IPA with him at Seared and then wove my way home on the Segway.

Afterwards, i got to thinking more about the differences i was seeing between this small city parade and the big city ones, and i realized that i was inflating the differences.  The only real difference is one of scale.  In both, the entries are local businesses, organizations, and politicians.  It’s just that those things are all, like the parades, bigger in the big city.

Actually, the main difference i saw was what i didn’t see.  A good time was had by all rather than bacchanalian revelry and bad behavior.  Even though i’m too old for it myself, i still have nothing against revelry, but i sure do appreciate folks in Petaluma behaving better than those in the big cities.






Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Responses

The Last Bridge

Sometimes everything just falls into place.

Like the other day i was coming home on the Lynch Creek Trail and about to cross the bridge over the creek at its mouth when for some reason i took another look at this little narrow trail that heads off to the northwest toward the river.

east bank trail, Petaluma River


The fields have dried out now, so even though the trail is not fully Segway friendly, i thought, why not?  Turned out it was rather interesting to roll along paralleling the east bank of the river past hideouts where folks have nested.

east bank trail, Petaluma River


Best hideout.

east bank trail hideout, Petaluma River


And down inside.

east bank trail hideout, Petaluma River


Another hideout.

east bank trail hideout, Petaluma River


And various trails doubtless leading to other hideouts.



Rather scenic and all that.

east bank trail, Petaluma River


Detail shot.

east bank trail, Petaluma River


More trail.

east bank Petaluma River trail


And then, wow! What’s that ahead? I’ve snuck up from the east on that NWP railroad bridge that i’d been whining about being the only bridge over the Petaluma that i’d not photographed.  Got closer and a SMART train whizzed past.  In all its glory.  Well, part of its glory.  If the damn thing had just whistled to herald its approach, i could have had the camera ready and got the rest of it.

SMART train on the NWP bridge over the Petaluma River


Moving closer to the bridge.

northernmost NWP bridge over the Petaluma River


And now, beneath the bridge.  There’s water here but it doesn’t really seem to be flowing, so i’ve either hit absolute high tide or i’m looking at a pool.  In any case, this does seem to be the point at which the estuary portion of the river ends.

northernmost NWP bridge over the Petaluma River


The bridge from the north side.

northernmost NWP bridge over the Petaluma River


What a wonderful excursion it was, to finally have bagged the last remaining bridge so that i could call The Bridges of the Petaluma complete.

Well, until i got home and downloaded the pics i’d taken and realized i needed better ones.

So i went back a couple of days later in the afternoon to get more pics, and the plot thickened.  Just as i got about twenty yards from the bridge, i spotted a couple of young women sitting in a glade and stopped to talk with them.  Sure am glad i did because you sure do meet interesting people off the beaten path.  After they learned i was a bridge fan, one mentioned that a bit farther on there was another bridge, much smaller and harder to spot.

So of course i pressed on eagerly, following the east bank of the river as it abruptly curved around to the right and then suddenly, there was the other bridge!

other bridge


Oh fantastic, i’ve discovered and photographed a bridge over the Petaluma that i’d neither seen on any map nor read any indication anywhere of its existence, which makes my coverage of the Petaluma River bridges even better since mine will be the only documentation on the internet of this last bridge. C’est moi, c’est moi!

I was shocked when i rode out on it and saw that the river had dwindled to little more than a small creek and almost dry at that.  Well, yes, our rains have stopped but i would have expected there’d still be some drainage.  But i thought no more about that when i got to the end of the bridge and looked ahead across the field and saw that the trail continued, although much less traveled.  Then i realized that that speck on the horizon was the back end of the Factory Outlet complex and that i could have an interesting circular excursion by just following the trail to the outlets and then cutting back home along Petaluma Boulevard North.

trail toward the factory outlets


Alas, when i got up to the outlets i encountered a very substantial fence with a stout, securely locked gate.  Bummer.  So i returned home with the consolation prize of the day’s additional photos and the discovery of a new bridge over the river.

It was only when i was sitting here writing about the adventure that it dawned on me that the young woman had not, in fact, told me that the second bridge was also over the Petaluma River but that i’d just jumped to this conclusion.  Nor had it occurred to me that if the bridge had been over the Petaluma, i’d have been on the west bank of the river after i crossed it even though i was fully aware that the Factory Outlet mall was on the east bank.  Nor that since the river is down in a considerable ravine both at the railroad bridge south of this second bridge and at the bridge leading to the Factory Outlet mall north of here, the ravine at this point couldn’t possibly be so much shallower.  Grrrrr.

See, when i thought the riverbank took a sharp bend to the east shortly north of the railroad bridge, it was not the river bending but rather a little creek emptying into the river with trees along its bank, too.  The creek roughly parallels the railroad tracks and cuts under CA-101 alongside them.  So the second bridge is over that creek rather than the river.

Also, the trail continues alongside the creek but ends abruptly at 101.  Bicyclists and pedestrians, of course, can go along NWP’s roadbed under there, but not a Segway.

trail toward 101 paralleling railroad tracks


Nor can the Segway cross the Petaluma on the NWP bridge, so all this exploring, as much fun as it was, effectively led to nothing but a good laugh at myself and dead ends for a Segway.  There is no Northwest Passage.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Responses

Petaluma Chili Cookoff

I have trouble believing in any religion whose god issues rules about how you should treat your slaves.


Oh, i’m such a small town booster.

Now it’s the Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff.

I wrote earlier about seeing a poster advertising the cookoff and wondering what in the world Petalumans could possibly know about chili?  I mean, between Petaluma and Terlingua there’s a thousand miles of desert punctuated by a couple of mountain ranges, not to mention another 500 mile grind up the central valley.  Still, i was eager to attend the event and even put in an application to be one of the chefs.  Fortunately, all the slots were full, which is really for the best since applying to be a chef was ridiculous, not ever having attended one of the events.

I did a trial run for Jo Ann and Christian to get an idea how Petalumans might react upon tasting real chili for the first time in their lives.  Made a half batch of my chili, cranberry beans, cornbread, braised spinach, and wall rocket salad.  For dessert after a stroll on the riverbank, a flourless almond torte accompanied by a 1998 Special Select Late Harvest Johannisberg Riesling from Beringer that i’d had tucked back.  The chili went over well, especially since i held back on the chile powder.

So last Saturday was the big day, and a festive one it was in Herzog Hall at the Petaluma Fairgrounds.  It was packed with folks having a good time, what a wonderful communal spirit.


Booth after booth of offerings, including every fire department for miles around.


Plus plenty of civilians.


And how silly it was of me to have thought i could enter this competition by myself.  In the first place, the sheer quantity of chili i’d have to make to give hundreds of people a little paper tasting bowl of it.  And in the second place, i’d need a team purely for the logistics of serving the chili.  Not to mention coming up with a gestalt and perhaps costumes.

As it was, i had a great time and tasted many of the entries in the “meat” category, skipping the vegetarian and vegan stuff and those that seemed to be mostly beans.

How were they?  Well, some of ’em were OK, a few were pretty tasty, but none of ’em was what i’d call real chili since authentic chili contains little but meat and chiles.  Hell, some of those that advertised themselves as “meat” chili would actually qualify under FDA rules as a vegetable dish since they had so much tomato and onions and beans in them.  Not to mention the sugar.  Oh please.

These folks are too far from Terlingua to know what good chili is, so it’s just as well that i simply attended the cookoff rather than trying to participate in it.  What i applaud is the spirit of the cookoff because that’s what Petaluma has in abundance.






Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Responses