Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fires rage towards four of my favorite Napa vineyards



Sunset over early Spring mustard flowers in Screaming Eagle Vineyard on Silverado Trail Road.
Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley wine country.
As I write this newsletter, with the fire situation in Napa and Sonoma counties changing by the hour, I’m not 100% sure that four of my favorite Napa vineyards will be spared from the devastating fires ripping through the wine country.


Early Spring valley fog begins creeping over Cain Five vineyard in the hills above Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley wine country.

At least four Napa vineyards are totally destroyed or significantly damaged. One Napa winery—Signorello Estate—has been completely destroyed. Nine other wineries reported damage to their winery, outbuildings or vineyards. 

All 5000 residents of Calistoga evacuated, and there are 1000s of homes already destroyed in the Napa- Sonoma area. This will be a vintage to remember.



Cain Five vineyard
Wednesday evening: I just received an email from Christopher Howell, winemaker at Cain Five Vineyard, that they are safe for right now.
Big oak tree in Cain Five vineyard in the hills above Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley wine country.
Early Spring valley fog begins creeping over Cain Five vineyard in the hills above Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley wine country.
The distinctive rock outcropping dominates the Cain Five vineyard in the hills above Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley wine country.


Screaming Eagle Vineyard
Spring mustard flowers in Screaming Eagle Vineyard on Silverado Trail Road. While the wine consistently receives rave reviews from critics, my problem is two-thousand dollars a bottle prevents me, a common photographer, from enjoying the wine. USA, California, Napa Valley. 
Sunset light colors the hills above the Spring mustard flowers in Screaming Eagle Vineyard on Silverado Trail Road. Napa Valley.




Oakville Ranch Summit Vineyard
Springtime view of Napa Valley looking towards Calistoga and Mt. Saint Helena from Oakville Ranch Summit Vineyard, Napa County, California,


Newton Vineyard
View of Newton Vineyard on Spring Mountain above St. Helena in Napa Valley, California.
Napa Valley wine country.
A hot air balloon and fog float in the Spring green Napa Valley below Newton Vineyard on Spring Mountain above St. Helena, California. Napa Valley wine country.

Looking at the lush view in these photographs, I can only imagine what the Napa hills and valley will look like after the fires rake through the area with their smudged black fingers.















Monday, September 11, 2017

Reflecting on America's 9/11: bees or missiles, which is better to twart an attack



On this anniversary of America's 9/11 attack, I can't help recall a story I heard from the tiny Bedik tribe tucked away in the remote southeast corner of Senegal.

My illustration of the Bedik story of bees killing attacking Muslims. Bedik tribe, Senegal, Africa.

On my first journey to the Bedik, the village "historian" told me the story of how Muslims once attacked the tribe because they refused to be converted to Islam.

It was terrible. Many Bedik were killed in the attack. Out of desperation, the tribe prayed to their spirits for help. The spirits then sent bees, many bees, which killed the Muslim attackers. The bees saved the tribe. And they still refuse to become Muslim.

On my second trip to the Bedik, not long after 9/11, I heard the story again, this time from the chief.  

Now, all these years later, I'm still trying to grasp similarities and differences between the Bedik story and 9/11.

Bedik village, Senegal, Africa.

Faith that their spirits would help by sending bees, saved the Bedik. 

America sent missiles. Will that be enough to save America?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Cows power China to become one of world's largest wine producers



When I visited Dynasty, one of the largest wineries in China, I went out to one of their vineyards near Jixian village in Tianjin area. Here I found cow-power fully used.

Workers use traditional cow-powered transportation for their morning commute out to the vineyards and other crops. Hebei province, Tianjin region, China, Asia.
Once in the vines, cow-power pulls the plow. China wine country, Hebei province, Tianjin region, China, Asia.
This view shows the business end of cow-power plowing. Here workers till the soil around peanuts planted between rows of Cabernet sauvignon vines. No space is wasted in China. Hebei province, Tianjin region, China, Asia.
You just can't beat practical cow-power: milk in the morning, engine for the morning commute to work, plenty of power to pull the plow and finally transportation power for the ride home at the end of the day. And if you had a lawn, the cow is your lawnmower.  Hebei province, Tianjin region, China, Asia.
Obviously, one disadvantage of bovine power happens during work breaks when the free-roaming cow can sneak a snack from the vines.  Hebei province, Tianjin region, China, Asia.
Break time in  the vineyard. Hebei province, Tianjin region, China, Asia.
Heading to the next vineyard block. And that's how Dynasty winery grows some of its wine grapes. Hebei province, Tianjin region, China, Asia.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My Rotary Club visual presentation about acceptance in Sherwood Oregon


As part of their peace effort, the Rotary Club asked me to give a visual talk about acceptance. They saw the work I've done in Africa, where I went looking for the primal roots of my beliefs and religion in the Birthplace of Modern Humans and found much more.




Little village children taught me to look through my first eyes, my child's eyes of acceptance and exploration. 

In a remote corner of Ethiopia, when I asked Konso elders what advice they would give world leaders, one elder replied: "Tell them that we are all made by God. No matter what your tribe, no matter what your religion, we all bleed the same color blood." Then he raised his hand with fingers outstretched and concluded: "We all have five fingers." 

Come hear how the village children's acceptance of a stranger and the remote elders wise words inspired me. 

I've invited President Trump. 

Please come so we can all be inspired to move forward on September 6, 6:30PM at the Sherwood Library Community Room, in Sherwood, OR 97140.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Ethiopia's remote Suri tribe: Fall of Man woman's fault



Originally humans had a direct connection to God. 

So say the elders, chiefs, shamans and storytellers of the remote Suri (Surma) tribe in Ethiopia's Omo River region. 

"Long long ago there was a rope from earth to God," explains Bolagedong, the eldest Suri chief. "So in ancient times people had a direct connection to God.

"Humans could climb that rope at any time to visit God," contines Bolagedong. "The only rule," the chief hesitates for drama, "humans could not bring anything with them up the rope."

This is my illustration of the Fall of Man story I heard from the Suri tribe. Omo River region, Ethiopia.
"One day the woman decided to bring her grinding stone. As she started to climb up for a visit to God, instantly the rope fell to the ground. 

"People lost their direct connection to God."

So today we don't have a direct connection to God.



Three things struck me about the Suri Fall of Man story:
1) I wondered which was older, the Suri story or the one in the Bible. 

2) For me, the Suri story is easier to understand. A rope makes sense. An apple, not so easy to bite.

3) And why is it always the woman's fault? 


Suri tribe. Omo region, Ethiopia, Africa.

Monday, May 29, 2017

One kid's chores in the Birthplace of Modern Humans



Hamar tribe, Omo region, Ethiopia, Africa.

Leading the family cattle to the watering hole is a daily chore in the Birthplace of Modern Humans, Africa.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Mursi tribe elder confirms my photo-illustration perfectly depicts God.


"Is there a God?" I asked the Mursi tribe elder.


This is my illustration of God as described to me on my first trip to the Mursi tribe in 2001.  Mursi tribe, Omo River Valley, Ethiopia, Africa.
That was one of the questions I asked the elders, shamans, chiefs, storytellers and witch doctors of Africa's most remote tribes.

"Yes, there is a God," said the Mursi elder. "He is powerful. He has no legs and has a rainbow colored chest. And he flies through the air." Then the elder emphasized, "And he can kill a man instantly."

Mursi tribe elder explaining God. Mursi tribe, Omo River Valley, Ethiopia, Africa.

On my last trip to the Mursi in 2014, I showed elders at the distant village of Belle my illustration. Without hesitation, they said, "Yes, that is God." There was no doubt.


In 2014, a Mursi elder in Belle village confirms that my illustration perfectly depicts God. Mursi tribe, Omo River Valley, Ethiopia, Africa.