Monday, August 29, 2011

It's late August in Yolo County


On our way to a jazz concert in Brooks, California, we passed peach orchards and vineyards along the way. It reminds me that vendange is coming. These grapes will be ripe for picking in no time.

Amusing musing about wine: "In vino veritas, in aqua sanitas." In wine there is truth, in water there is health.  À votre santé!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Gamble Garden

I often travel to distant lands to see the world when I have a beautiful world waiting for me to discover right here at home. So this week I embarked on a journey to explore my "backyard". And was I surprised to find three exceptional gardens which I hadn't visited before! The first of these is the Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden in Palo Alto. Elizabeth was the only daughter of the co-founder of Procter & Gamble. She bequethed her estate to the City of Palo Alto which together with the Garden Club of Palo Alto maintains the property with the mission of providing horticultural and environmental education to the community as well as the historical preservation of this 1902 estate.

The Gazebo

The Gazebo is not original to the garden. It was added in 1996. In the photo above, late afternoon sun casts a rainbow over the vine covered Gazebo lending it a magical presence.

California Style Garden Room

The plants selected in this section of the garden are resistant to oak root fungus and are drought intolerant. But more importantly, it is an area of tranquility.

Cutting Garden

In the Cutting Garden, summer's best blooms are ready to enliven the Gamble house. Here dahlias in variegated colors stand out from  the pack. The floral beds change with the seasons.

Cherry Allée

The path leads from the sundial to the  grotto fountain.  In the spring, it's a mirror of  white then pink from the blossoming Japanese Flowering Cherry trees that line the way.

Fruit Trees

This is an amazing way to grow trees. Antique varieties of  apples and pears are "espaliered" - trained to grow horizontally from the center trunk. This tree is from the genus Malus.

Carriage House and Patio

Renovated in 1987, the Carriage House is now used for classes or business seminars and social gatherings. It's at the back of the  main house with  magnolia, Victorian Box and Japanese maple trees keeping the patio cool.


Whimsical touches like this frog prince fountain surprise visitors as they stroll through the gardens. Birds must love the bird bath in the California Style Garden Room. And the exquisitely pruned rabbit standing right outside the Tea Room or the scarecrow in the Roots and Shoots garden are delightful especially to the junior gardeners.

The garden is open everyday during the daylight hours and is free! The house is open from  9 a.m. to 12 noon. For more information about the Gamble Garden here's their website link and address: 
http://gamblegarden.org/
1431 Waverley, Palo Alto, CA
Phone: 650-329-1356
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Images by Charie


Friday, August 12, 2011

Pretty in Pink

Pretty in Pink piggy banks

On Highway 152 in Gilroy, there are many roadside fruit stands offering cherries and strawberries for just a dollar a basket or a bag of oranges at the same price. I had passed a sign down the road advertising 6 ears of corn for a dollar and stopped by Casa de Fruta to investigate. But I was distracted by the nuts, dried fruit, candy, fruit wine, bags of garlic, and decorative pottery.

Taffys in pink (cherry) and other flavors

Ahh, there are always sweet nothings to tempt you when you're so intent to keep to your diet. Now I remember why I shouldn't stop at these places. I must recite my mantra: I came for the corn, the corn, the corn.....


There's also a store within the complex that sells cookies and ice cream. It's right next to the carousel and the choo choo train. It must be hard for the kids to resist ice cream after playing out in the sun. My problem is choosing which cookie to buy.


Fruits, of course, are the better choice. But did you see the price of pineapple? $4.99 each for a Maui Gold pineapple. Ouch!!  It's leveling up to the price of gold in the stock market.

So I went home empty handed. And I wish I bought a piggy bank.

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Images by Charie

Sunday, August 07, 2011

12 Hours in Honolulu


I was not disappointed at all that I was rerouted through Honolulu instead of flying nonstop to San Francisco from Tokyo recently. While waiting to board the plane, I thought of all the things I could do in Honolulu during the 12-hour layover. And the more I thought about it, the more pleased I was that I had this opportunity. Except for one thing. I needed a hotel in Honolulu where I could take a quick nap, shower, and leave my bags while I was out wandering about town. I called several hotels but none of them had day rates let alone allow me to check in earlier than 2 p.m. After a few more calls and before draining my cellphone's battery, I got a room at the Airport Hotel for $136.00 and they picked me up from the airport.

Wiped out from the long trip, I fell asleep immediately and woke up when my alarm went off. It was 1 p.m. so I hurried to make the most of my time. Luckily the bus stop was just down the street and I didn't have to wait long before the bus bound for Ala Moana came up. I was at the shopping center in about 30 minutes. Ala Moana Center has grown to include more than 200 stores and restaurants, a far cry from the old days when it only had Sears and Liberty House as its flagship stores. Now there are several department stores and upscale boutiques like Chanel, Hermes, and Tory Burch, to name a few.  I like to shop here because I can find resort wear, perfect for sunny climes like the Philippines.


There's a food court downstairs on the makai(ocean) side. I was hungry for fish. And at the Steak and Fish Company, they had fresh grilled mahi mahi served with two scoops of rice, steamed string beans and corn. As you can see, I was given a generous serving which I couldn't finish but I got a plastic box so I could take my leftover with me to San Francisco. :)


After lunch I walked across the street to Ala Moana Beach Park. It was Friday and people were just getting off from work. Some families were enjoying the quiet beach as I was. This is the best time to come to the beach when the sun is not as fierce and it's pleasant to walk the three mile course around the park. A few people had set up their fishing poles and were patiently waiting for their catch. The kayaking groups had yet to claim their kayaks.


There is a bus stop on the makai side of the Center so it was easy for me to catch the bus back to my hotel. After repacking my luggage, I catnapped and woke up in time to board the free shuttle to the airport. All in all, it turned out well except that I didn't have a chance to pick up my favorite malasadas. But it might just as well be. I don't need the extra calories.

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Images by Charie