Monday, July 30, 2018

City Daily Photo Theme Day, August 1, 2018: Music


When they are the toes of flutist Sarah Brady who is keeping time to the music she is playing at the Portrait of an Artist performance at Pepper Bridge winery. Sarah was one of 30+ musicians from around the country who participated in the 11th annual Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival during the month of June. 

Although it may be difficult to see in this photo, my front row seat allowed me a unique vantage point to watch her toes move rhythmically to the sound of her flute and the piano accompaniment. 

Which is why I chose this photo for this month's CDP theme--music. 

And scroll down further for more music-related photos from Sarah's performance as well as the final Festival Series 4 performed at the GESA Powerhouse.

I don't read music, but this looks like a seriously difficult piece.

As noted in the WWCMF program, Sarah Brady is known for her commitment to pioneering modern music as a member of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. She is also a devoted teacher at the Boston Conservatory. In addition, Sarah plays with the Boston Symphony or at a music festival in Italy, depending upon the time of year and her schedule.

This Portrait of an Artist 3 performance was held at Pepper Bridge Winery located in the wine district south of Walla Walla. Beyond the vineyards, the Blue Mountains can be seen along with gathering clouds on this summer solstice evening of June 21. 

The spaces used at the wineries are actually the guts of a winery's production unit. But for these WWCMF performances, the huge stainless steel vats are removed and replaced with seating and miles of electrical cable for the sound and lighting. It's not an easy task, but the result is an intimate setting in which to experience wonderful music.

The final performance of the Chamber Music Festival--Festival Series 4--was held at the GESA Powerhouse theatre which seats 300 people. It was the cherry on top of the hot fudge sundae for me, and left me anticipating the week-long festival in January, 2019, as well as the month-long festival next June, 2019.

For more theme day photos from other CDP bloggers around the world, click on this link:

Sunday, July 1, 2018


Oh Give Me Land, Lots of Land

Last century, in 1998 when I was 20 years younger, I rode my bicycle from Seattle to Washington D.C. with the Big Ride Across America. I was one of 750 riders who pedaled 80-100 miles a day across the northern tier of the United States. Along the way I saw lots of beautiful places, but nothing any more beautiful than the countryside of the rolling wheat and canola fields of the Palouse in my home state. They filled my spirit.

I no longer ride my bike on long distances, but even by car the rolling hills around my home town remain my spiritual place. The clouds make it even better.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Collage 2-Abeja Winery

A Magical Evening

With a backdrop of concrete walls and floor and stainless steel fittings for winemaking, I attended my second performance in the month-long series of music events included in the Walla Walla Chamber Music festival. It was billed by my friends and loyal WWCMF fans as the ONE performance not to miss, so I came with high expectations. I was not disappointed.

I learned quickly the audience protocol for these performances which is to arrive early in order to choose the best seat available, and then meander around the venue, purchase a glass or bottle of wine, chat with friends, or in my case, take photographs.  And because I am not a wine drinker myself, I have not had the opportunity to visit many of the 100+ wineries and vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley. So this has been a win-win for me--lovely venues to photograph along with beautiful music to listen to. 

The big white barn has always been a favorite sight for me on my bicycle rides up Mill Creek Road and back, remembering it being there long before it was re-purposed as part of Abeja Winery. 

While normally the barn serves as the main building for the Abeja wine-making operation, for the two WWCMF Collage performances, the giant stainless steel tanks had to be removed and replaced with rows of seating and extensive electric cables for the dramatic lighting of the musicians and solo dancer.

While the main performance area was in the center of this theatre-in-the-round formation, musicians played from all corners of the space, including the second level making an already intimate setting feel even more so. Seen below is Timothy Christie, founder and artistic director of the WWCMF, as well as one of the musicians.

Flutist Sarah Brady performs as one of the many Collage musicians.

Walla Walla dancer Peter de Grasse performed two solo pieces in the center space accompanied here by PROJECT Trio.

PROJECT Trio again plays a lively animated piece just an arm's length from the audience.

At the end of the second half, all of the musicians assembled in the center space to play in the finale.

A well-timed intermission gave attendees a chance to view one of Walla Walla's remarkable sunsets.

Sunday, June 17, 2018



This was my second visit to Old Homestead Alpacas, being enticed to return by notices for their Open Barn event last Saturday. The fact is, I was so impressed at my first visit in May during a Learning on the Land event by Blue Mountain Land Trust, that I welcomed the public invitation to see what's new on the farm. 

And there he was, Mario Andretti, the first cria (the correct term for alpaca babies) of the season, who was a day shy of being a week old. 
Mario was never more than a few inches away from his mother Indy.

Also new to me from my previous visit was the newly sheared herd seen here with the shearing marks still faintly visible.

As you can see by the photos above and below, the leg fibres are left in tact on Suri Alpacas, which is the kind raised at Old Homestead Alpacas. 
As I learned from my first visit, the leg fur is not valued as a yarn fibre, and so it is allowed to remain. 
Over time it sheds naturally or may be trimmed, but as a rule it is not harvested for its fur-to-fibre-to-yarn potential.

For Saturday's Open Barn, all the female alpacas were together in the Maternity Ward where visitors were allowed to walk among the animals. 
Indy was the first of several females still waiting to give birth in the next weeks or months.

Upon signing the guest book, visitors were given a baggie of feed to offer the curious and hungry alpacas, 
much to the delight of (most) of the children and adults.

While most children waited hesitantly for the Alpacas to approach them, this young cowboy walked alone among the herd, even getting within an arm's reach of new mama Indy and her cria, Mario.

So what does one do with the alpaca fleece once the animals are sheared? For shepherdess Elaine Vandiver, it's just the beginning of the yarn-making process which results in hand-dyed skeins of yarn which she sells or uses herself to knit into exquisitely fine and soft scarves and shawls which she sells in her farm store or online at

The Homegrown by Heroes sign reflects Old Homestead Alpacas' membership in the Farmer Veterans Coalition, a non-profit organization supporting, encouraging, mentoring and inspiring agricultural and ranching careers for returning service men and women. 

The fact that both Elaine and Mike are military veterans with Mike still serving in the Washington Army National Guard is another part of this couple's amazing story.

And if raising and maintaining a growing herd of alpacas isn't enough work while also holding down regular daytime jobs, Elaine and her husband Mike have recently started growing their own flowers to use as natural dyes as well as to sell at both the College Place and Walla Walla Farmers' Markets. 

The name of their flower business, Gholson Gardens, reflects the name of the original owner Nathaniel S. Gholson, who was a pioneer from Iowa and who homesteaded 164 acres. Elaine and Mike own the remaining 10 acres of the original homestead, hence the name, Old Homestead Alpacas.

For more information about Old Homestead Alpacas or Gholson Gardens, follow this link: 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival

With a backdrop of acres of vineyards and the Blue Mountains, WWCMF listeners were treated to the sounds of 
Beethoven's String Quartet in D, Op.18, No. 3. 
While this is the 11th season of the music festival, it was my inaugural event, and I am hooked. 

It could have been the clear blue sky, the late spring setting sun, or the birds singing in the trees above us, but this is definitely the way to listen to music.

This was the first in the series of four Tasting Music events, each being held at a different winery where guests can buy wine by the glass or the bottle to enjoy before and during the concert. 

As part of last night's performance, Timothy Christie, founder and artistic director of WWCMF as well as a member of tonight's quartet, spoke about Beethoven and the piece we were about to hear, explaining to a rapt audience the why's and wherefore's of this Beethoven classic. 
It was a bit of music history and theory that made the subsequent listening all the more meaningful.

While others sipped wine and chatted in advance of the performance, I took advantage of the setting to capture images of the winery and the surrounding vineyards. 
The setting played an important role in creating the memorable visual and aural experience of my first Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival performance.

For more information about the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival, follow this link: 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


Chevy--Then and Now

I grew up living in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan--the Motor City--where 4th grade school children took annual field trips to a steel mill and an automotive assembly line. In addition, my father worked 35 years for General Motors in the Chevrolet division which meant my family drove nothing but Chevrolets. So I have a life-long affinity to Chevrolets, especially old pickup trucks. And when they're red, it's a double win.

So when I pulled into the only available parking spot near the Goodwill store last week next to this old red Chevy truck, I was elated. But it was only as I walked around the truck taking photos from different angles did I see the much newer red Chevrolet SUV parked on the other side-- a red Chevy duo.

And as Dinah Shore would say at the end of her weekly television show (sponsored by Chevrolet) as she threw a kiss to the audience,
Mmmm-Wah! 💖