Wine and baseball–a pairing as perfect as a diamond

Wine and baseball–a pairing as perfect as a diamond


San Francisco Giants fans have a slew of wine choices at Oracle Park. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Wine and baseball? Who knew it could be a winning combination.

Such was the outcome on Memorial Day when the Giants won 14-4 as I sipped a can of wine.

It had been way too long since I witnessed such an offensive onslaught in person. The weather was perfect, the entertainment outstanding, and the adult beverage refreshing.

I opted for wine instead of beer because I had read Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, is beefing up its wine game.

Last fall the Giants hired master sommelier Evan Goldstein. (There are only 269 master sommeliers in the world.) This was a first in Major League Baseball. The Giants reportedly were the first to even serve wine at a stadium when they introduced the fermented grape in 1977 at Candlestick Park.

Goldstein’s goal, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, is to increase wine sales from 80,000 glasses a year to 100,000 this season.

Learning that wine and baseball fit like a glove. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

While beer still seemed to be the adult beverage of choice based on the number of kiosks and cups in hands, Oracle Park has a wine bar on every level. I didn’t walk around enough on this particular day to see what, if any, differences might be between them.

What I found was wine was available at multiple locations. Or course the choices were not abundant at each kiosk.

I opted for a can of She Can. I liked the name. I had never had wine in a can before. Never had wine at a baseball game before.

The California white—that’s what it’s called—was refreshing on this warm day. And a can, well, that’s like two pours so that was a nice bonus. It made the $15.25 more palatable. Wine on tap was $14, but I don’t know what was on tap. A carafe would have set me back $57.

While the sommelier intends to do some pairings in the future—not sure that will be for the average fan or those who pay more for their tickets or for players. I had organic tater tots with my wine. (I used to be an ardent fan of garlic fries, but have finally said they aren’t good anymore and cost way too much money.)

Clearly, ballparks are not meant to be healthy experiences. OK, they can be, but I choose for them not to be.

I don’t know if I will make my rounds through the wine choices at my next games. I might go back to beer just because that is my ritual. But a night game, well, a robust red might just be more appealing than a cold beer. Oh, the hard decisions in life.

Whatever I’m drinking, let’s just hope the Giants win.

Book Review: Mixed feelings about ‘Girl, Woman, Other’

Book Review: Mixed feelings about ‘Girl, Woman, Other’

Few books leave me wondering if I would recommend it. But such is the case with Girl, Woman, Other (Black Cat, 2019) by Bernardine Evaristo.

I liked this book. The storytelling was great. I was captured by each person. So, yes, it was good.

The book delves into the lives of multiple people, with the main characters Black British women. At times their ties to Africa were relevant. Diversity is a central concept in the book—from sexuality to age to work to socio-economic status.

My problem was with there being 12 distinct characters it was hard to understand who was connected to whom. It’s almost like I needed an org chart to fall back on to remember who was who.

It didn’t help that out of the gate it was disarming to have it written without traditional punctuation. Once I got over that minor hurdle, all was good. The writing/layout style actually added to the book’s uniqueness.

One thing I realized while reading this book is that I don’t read enough from non-U.S. authors or books based outside the U.S. that aren’t travel oriented.

Memorial honors all those affected by 2018 Camp Fire

Memorial honors all those affected by 2018 Camp Fire


The Butte Strong memorial pays tribute to 2018 Camp Fire that tore through Paradise. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Charred trees, foundations without a building, chain link fencing around the hospital, businesses that no longer exist. The reminders of the 2018 Camp Fire that incinerated Paradise are everywhere.

Then there is the memorial to all those who survived and the 85 who lost their lives.

It is on the back edge of the parking lot at Magalia Community Church. This is one of the towns that was also severely impacted by the PG&E caused fire, but which seldom gets much attention.

While the memorial is intended to last generations, two vinyl tents are sad reminders that help is still needed for many of the survivors. A Paradise resident said this is where charitable giving still takes place, even with the five-year anniversary coming up this fall.

The Butte Strong tribute is aptly placed so Sawmill Peak, one of the natural icons of the area, is integral to the structure. The vista here is one of hope, one of resiliency, one of strength.

The river rock foundation seems to honor being on the ridge above the Feather River.

The 14 layers of red brick appear to mark how the area is rebuilding itself one layer at a time.

One plaque lists the name of those who died. The other tells the story of how this region was settled, including the famous 54-pound gold nugget, and many details about the fire.

The fire consumed nearly 240 square miles, destroyed 18,804 buildings, and became the state’s largest hazardous material cleanup.

The plaque ends with: “… Paradise isn’t gone; it’s strength and spirit persist within the surviving community and it’s deep, fireproof roots. Day by day, life and beauty will be restored to this special place.”

Cracking irrigation system leads to lessons in drip lines

Cracking irrigation system leads to lessons in drip lines

Irrigation projects, even when the area is small, can be time consuming. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

A geyser can be refreshing when it’s 100-plus degrees out. But when that water is jutting into the air from the irrigation system, it is so not a welcome relief.

At least I knew how to turn the system off.

I am not a gardener. I am not into irrigation. But I am a homeowner, so it was my responsibility to figure it out. Oh, this damn adulting business is so tiring.

My sister, Pam, who is into gardening and irrigation helped fix the flaw. In the process she taught me a few things.

A little digging leads to better understanding of the irrigation system. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

But then it kept splitting from the blistering sun beating down on the black plastic tubing. Each time I could fix the problem on my own. Even so, I was skeptical of this line; so worried that when mom and I both were gone at the same time last summer we had neighbors on call to turn off the system in case water was shooting everywhere but on the flora.

I knew this spring I would be replacing the entire line to feel confident about taking off and wanting to not be wasteful with water.

I started digging. This was after getting the rock cleared out so I could see the dirt. This dirt. It’s hard to call it that. There are so many rocks. It’s so hard. It’s amazing anything grows in it.

I got to a point where I didn’t want to dig anymore. My sister said keep going, and that she would be coming to help. Phew. We found where the line tied into the main system. We saw how the PVC pipes went under the driveway.

A text to the former homeowner resulted in photos from when the system was first put in. Very educational and could be good to know in the future.

Water system working, with the larger rock marking where the dogwood will be planted in the fall. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The folks at Ace (always knowledgeable workers there in every subject matter!) got us outfitted with what we needed to do the job. They knew we meant business when we walked in looking super grubby; my sister with her gardening knee pads still on. She did all the talking, explaining what we were doing.

Back at the house we put in the new line. But it was cold on this particular May day so we called it quits.

I waited until it warmed up to make the holes in the line in order to add the thinner tubing and nozzle. I’m sure these things all have more technical names, but that part of my education is still to come.

We had two sand bags that I used to fill in the hole and cover the line. Back went the rock.

Yes, the lines were tested multiple times before they got covered. Let’s hope there are no geysers in the yard ever again.

Graduation season triggers memories of high school, college

Graduation season triggers memories of high school, college

Kae Reed graduating from high school in 1983, left, and from college five years later.

It’s easy for graduation season to conjure up memories of your own walk across the stage to receive your diploma, be it high school or college.

June marks 40 years since I graduated from Clayton Valley High School and May was 35 years since getting my degrees from San Francisco State University.

I wonder about graduates today who didn’t get to enjoy all of the rituals of high school or antics in college because of the pandemic. Or maybe they are stronger for having gone through such uncertainty at an early age.

Graduations are such a celebratory event—as they should be. But you couldn’t pay me to go back to high school or college.

Photos from Kae Reed’s last year in high school, left, and last year in collge.

While adulting comes with a slew of obstacles no one tells you about (which is probably a good thing), I will take this phase of life over my teen years. It’s not that high school or college were bad years; I just don’t want to repeat them.

Still, it was fun to discover some photos from way back when. To remember friends, to see what I looked liked, to be reminded of fun times.

I’m one of those rare people (or so it seems) who knew the career they wanted from an early age, pursued it, stuck with it, and am still a writer to this day. I have fond memories of working on the paper in high school, less so about the paper in college.

Still, college afforded me the opportunity to be president of our chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, which allowed me to go to the national convention that was mostly comprised of working journalists, not students. I was also president of a political science group that took an annual trip to Sacramento to meet with legislators. We hosted an event where then Assembly Speaker Willie Brown was the guest of honor. That was a big deal.

Brent Brinkerhoff and Kae Reed at senior ball.

What I remember about the actual graduations is the high school event was at the Concord Pavilion—so much nicer than a football field. The principal, Chuck Jordan, gave me a hug—one of only a few he handed out. That probably wouldn’t be allowed today because of the many (mostly men) who don’t understand unwanted touch.

Anyway, Principal/Mr. Jordan, was a tennis player. That’s how we got to know each other. His wife, Lee, coached tennis at one of the other area high schools. He and I kept in touch after graduation until he died in 2008.

At SFSU, graduation was on the field. I would say football field, but they didn’t have a team while I was there. It was one of those typically gray, foggy San Francisco days where you should have an umbrella to stay dry, but it’s not raining so you don’t have it. Graduates and attendees were soggy by the time it was over.

SFSU’s tennis program was disbanded after the one year I was on the team.

I had become so frustrated with the journalism department that I walked with the political science group. (I majored in both.) I received a great education, but there were instances that rattled me—like one instructor (who just died this spring) who was so strung out on coke that he often skipped class or barely functioned if he showed up. Our complaints to the administration went nowhere. Oddly, we became colleagues at the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle.

While working on the college paper I told the advisor, a different guy, I was going to be gone a week and asked to turn in assignments ahead of time or more afterward. He said fine. I got back and he had no recollection of this conversation. My memory is I got a D that semester on the paper. Thank goodness no future employers asked to see my transcripts.

Like most phases of life there are good and bad memories. Fingers crossed life continues to bring mostly positive experiences that turn into wonderful memories.

Snow melt pushes Lake Oroville to within capacity

Snow melt pushes Lake Oroville to within capacity

Lake Oroville, Lime Saddle: Aug. 21, 2021 (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It has been dramatic watching Lake Oroville rise since the beginning of the year. Even more astonishing is how far it has come since I moved to Butte County in 2021.

Lake Oroville, Lime Saddle: Jan. 27, 2023                                                                                                                         (Image: Kathryn Reed)

In 2021, Lake Oroville hit a record low 628 feet. The previous record of 645 feet was set in 1974.

Capacity is 900 feet, what’s called a full pool. On May 23,  it was at 891 feet, with water being released into the Feather River in anticipation of more snow melt.

Lake Oroville, Lime Saddle: Feb. 18, 2023 (Image: Kathryn Reed)

That record amount of snow in the Sierra, well, it’s filling reservoirs throughout California.

The parking lot at Lime Saddle, one of the boat launches for Oroville, only a few months ago was full of houseboats. There wasn’t enough water for them to float in.

Lake Oroville, Lime Saddle: March 18, 2023                                                                                                                      (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Last weekend the parking lot was full of boat trailers with people out on the water for the day.

Lake Oroville, Lime Saddle: May 23, 2023                                                                                                                         (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Instead of looking like something out of an apocalypse, this reservoir is inviting, with people swimming, water skiing, fishing and enjoying their houseboats.

Now if only we could wave a magic wand to have more predictable rain/snow as well as summer heat.

Culinary expo a lesson in all things nut

Culinary expo a lesson in all things nut


Nuts came in all different forms including liquid at the May 13 festival. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Whole nuts, nut hummus, nuts in ice cream, flavored nuts, candied nuts, nuts turned into milk, nuts in salad, nuts in rice. After a day at the annual California Nut Festival I definitely felt nuttier.

I suppose what was missing was nut flavored wine and beer, but I’m pretty sure that was a good thing. The local non-nut infused adult beverages were wonderful to wash down all the nuttiness.

This festival started in Chico in 2006. After all, the city is known for its walnuts and almonds. (The l is silent if you are in the ag business, so that would be pronounced am-unds.)

This was my first time to try red walnuts.

“Red walnuts are not genetically modified. Instead, they were created using natural methods of grafting Persian red-skinned walnuts onto larger and creamier English walnuts. To retain their red color, they should be shelled by hand,” according to the Bertagna Nut Company website. This Chico company was at the festival sharing red walnuts with people. “Machine shelling causes the red layer to dull and chip. These nuts are larger in size and the shells are a little harder than other walnut varieties, while their trees grow slower. Since there are limited amounts of producing trees, these rare walnuts are currently only found in high-end stores, some farmer’s markets, and online.”

I didn’t realize how special they were until after the fact. I suppose if I were a nut connoisseur, I would have realized in the moment to have appreciated the rarity of the red nut.

Learning about the various types of walnuts. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Considering this particular Saturday was in the 90s, cold beer and ice cream were some of my favorites. Tiny glasses from Mulberry Station, Feather Falls Brewing and Farmers Brewing all quenched my thirst.

I preferred Shubert’s pistachio to their toasted almond ice cream.

Bacio’s Catering had a delightful wild rice concoction with a minimal amount of nuts.

The thing is I usually don’t like nuts in my food. After an afternoon of crunching my way through various samples, I might have to rethink that.

Lots of cheese was available, but that was not the best considering it’s hard to keep cheese appealing on a hot day.

A couple local olive oil purveyors shared their liquid gold.

Patrick Ranch was a great setting for the event. Two stages had music which complemented the laid back vibe. It wasn’t head banging. Just the right amount of amp and a good variety of musicians.

Partaking in the sampling of locally grown food was a fun way to spend a few hours.



Book Review: Learning about John Bidwell and California

Book Review: Learning about John Bidwell and California

Some books are difficult to get through, but are important to finish.

In this case, I wanted to know more about John Bidwell, the white man credited with founding Chico. After all, there were plenty of Indians calling this swath of California home before he arrived by wagon train so it’s hard to say he discovered the area. It was also part of Mexico when he first came west.

What might make this book appealing to those who have no connection to Chico is all of the California history. Bidwell’s contribution to the state’s agricultural industry is well documented here and elsewhere.

John Bidwell & California: The Life & Writings of a Pioneer 1841-1900 (Arthur H. Clark Company, 2004) by Michael J. Gillis and Michael F. Magliari in some ways is like two books in one.

Each chapter starts with the authors telling something about Bidwell like his life in politics (he was in Congress), his interactions with Indians and the Chinese, the Gold Rush and so much more. The second half of the chapter is Bidwell’s writings on the chapter subject.

I would recommend skipping the first chapter. If you have read anything about wagon trains crossing into California, this will just bore you and might have you putting down the book for good.

Another way to approach the book might be just to read what the authors wrote or just Bidwell’s writing. Together there is a lot of repetition. While this is clearly not an overwhelming recommendation of the book, for anyone interested in learning about Bidwell or California, this is a very informative book.

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