Tag Archives: Cloverdale

The Cloverdale Jolly Green Giant

“From the valley of the jolly (ho, ho, ho)…Green Giant!”

How many of you remember that jingle for Green Giant brand vegetables?  I sure do!  In fact, we still eat Green Giant canned and frozen vegetables fairly often.  (We especially like their corn nibblets and baby peas.)  We’ll be eating some of the corn nibblets tonight, as a matter of fact.

The jolly Green Giant of the vegetable variety is precisely that: a large, green humanoid who wears a pointy green hat and funny clothes and strange shoes.  He doesn’t look very menacing, but if he stepped on you it would bode well, my friends!

Today is a photo of a green giant.  Well, not really,  He only appears to be a green giant because it is a macro shot.  On Sunday afternoon, this dead critter was discovered in the back yard.  I meant to shoot him on Sunday afternoon (but forgot) and then again on Monday afternoon (but forgot).  For better or worse, I remembered today.

I think this is actually a member of the grasshopper family, though he looked a bit different than the kind of grasshopper I’m familiar with from the great state of Iowa.  He has bulging red eyes (spooky!), long, droopy feelers protruding from his head (scary!), his body is plated with armor that can deflect high velocity rounds from an M-1A Abrams tank (well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration) and he can fly (faster than a speeding bullet, or maybe a slow bullet?)

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to the Cloverdale Jolly Green Giant!

Forget “Bigfoot”…This Monster Flies!!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 42 BC, Marcus Junius Brutus, a leader in the plot to kill Julius Caesar, committed suicide when his cause was lost and he was defeated in battle at Philippi by Marcus Antonius (Anthony) and Octavian (who would later defeat Anthony and become known as August Caesar).

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: all you arachnophobes (people afraid of spiders) will be thrilled to know there is an average of 50,000 spiders in a one-acre patch of green, grassy land.  They are, though hated by many, very beneficial as they consume over 100X their number in other insects.


I’m not a big car fan.  I’m a photography, golf, Dodgers, Dolphins, Rams fan.  But I do appreciate looking at a beautifully maintained and painted vehicle.

Every year, Cloverdale hosts a car show on the main street.  It was this past Saturday and I took my camera down and shot approximately 125 pictures of various cars, trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles.  I’m in a rush today, so I’m just going to share this picture today without much commentary, but I liked this because of the colors and engine.  I would have liked to hear it running in its full-throated growl!!!!

Hot rod at the Cloverdale car show, 9/10/11

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1940, four teenagers near Lascaux, France, followed their dog down into a cave and discovered the 17,000 year old Lascaux cave paintings.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: before passing a law in New York City in 1978 that made it mandatory to clean up after one’s dog, dogs used to deposit 40 million pounds of dog excrement on the streets every single year.  Now, I’ll bet that’s more than you really wanted to know, right?

Big Wheels Keep On Turnin’

Those words in the title were, of course, immortalized by Tina Turner in “Proud Mary.”  Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels did a song about wheels, and even John Denver managed to sneak in a reference to wheels in his song, “Back Home Again”, claiming that the sound of the wheels on the 4-lane made it colder. There’s even a kids song about how the wheels on the bus go “round and round.”

We make a point nowadays to notice who invents things.  Have you ever wondered who the first human was who invented the wheel?  Could there have been an invention that was more significant to human development?  I suppose it could be argued one way or another, but just think about it.  The wheel revolutionized so many things.

Of course the first wheels were probably just a slice out of a tree, or perhaps a slab of rock that was ground down into a wheel shape, but my bet would be on the slice of tree trunk because it would be much easier to have made it than making one out of rock!  It was probably only after tree rings had been in use for a while that someone thought to themselves, “You know, these things wear out pretty fast.  I wonder if I could make on out of rock?”  And, voila!, as they say, the rest is history.

Today there was a car show in Cloverdale.  The main street through town was lined with cars, motorcycles, trucks…and people.  I had been looking forward to the car show, not because I’m a big fan of cars, but because you can get some really interesting and colorful pictures of cars at car shows.  Today I treat you to a photo of a wheel, forged from aluminum, I’d guess.  I know it is pretty brightly exposed, but I liked the effect.  So, tada!  The wheel – so shiny and bright that there are reflections of other cars and things visible!!!!

Fancy car wheel...

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1963, 20 black students entered schools in Tuskegee, Mobile and Birmingham, Alabama, after a standoff with governor George Wallace.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: St. Bernard of  Menthon is the patron saint of mountain climbers.  He built way stations for tired travelers in the Alps, and it is for this man that the great dog breed of St. Bernard’s is named.


I think I have probably lived through some of the most fascinating events in human history.  I don’t know if anything can compete with the excitement and achievement of the Apollo moon shots of the tail end of 1969 and the early ’70’s.  It is nearly  incomprehensible to me that my children have not been alive for a single one of those events…and to them, it’s ancient history.  They’ve never had the excitement that surrounded humans setting foot on another heavenly body.

Well, today I had to take a picture or two.  I went outside as the sky was starting to grow dark, and shot the sliver of moon over the hills.  I took the picture from the sidewalk in front of our house as it was dusky.  Tomorrow I hope to get a lot more pictures that I may be able to use for blog posts in the coming days.  Here’s hoping!!!!  What I shot tonight did very little to relieve my photographic antsy-ness!

Moon sliver over Cloverdale, 9/1/11...

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1864, Confederate General John Hood and his troops abandoned the city of Atlanta.  It was occupied the next day by Union General Sherman.  The city was soon ablaze.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: new home shoppers top request for an extra room is to have a separate laundry room, the top item for 95% of such shoppers.  Next on the list is an extra room to serve as an office, requested by 66% or new home buyers.

Summertime and the Living Is Easy

Remember that old song, “Summertime”?  It went something like this:

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,
The catfish are jumpin’, and the cotton is high,
Your daddy’s rich and your mama’s good lookin’
So hush, pretty baby, don’t you cry.

Well, there ain’t no cotton growin’ in these here parts, but there are vines growin’ to beat the band, trying to make up for time lost during the cool and wet spring we’ve had.  This summer (knock on wood) hasn’t really gotten hot yet, but while us folks appreciate that, it’s not the best for the grapes.  They like HOT days and cool nights – all which helps make Alexander Valley the perfect place to grow the little rascals.

I have very fond memories of my dad taking me fishing in the Raccoon River back near our farm in Iowa.  I remember the sound of the turtle doves cooing along the banks of the river (it was really more like a stream, but in Iowa it sufficed for a river!), the gurgling of the water, the rustling of the leaves.  Our fishing gear back then wasn’t very fancy by modern standards: the poles were metal and the reels were just regular bait casting reels – no computers or anything built in them like you can get today which tell you how far you cast, etc.  It didn’t matter.  We had a great time together!  I spent many happy hours with my dad fishing during my early life.  How I wish he were still here so I could take him fishing again.

I didn’t see any catfish jumpin’ from the First Street bridge here today in Cloverdale, but there are likely some lurking down under the brush along the banks of the Russian River and out at Yorty Creek.  This picture was taken looking northeast from the First Street bridge and shows what the Russian River looks like here in the summertime.  Tomorrow, I’ll feature a photo of a local resident availing themselves of the cool water that I also took.  As I said, it’s not hot, but it was probably around 90, so you’ll understand tomorrow why the featured swimmer was in the water.

Until then, keep the catfish bait on the hooks, kick your shoes off, dangle your toes in the water, pull your hat down over your eyes…and doze off!!!!

The Russian River from the 1st Street Bridge, Cloverdale, CA

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: the riots in Watts (in the Los Angeles area) broke out.  In the following week, 34 died and over 1000 injured.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: we do love our pooches!  According to a pet owner survey, 79% of Americans give their doggies a present for their birthday and/or on holidays.  I’m all for it…for all they give to us, they deserve it!!!!

Cloverdale’s Rockin’ Tonight

Tonight is the first Friday Farmer’s Market for the summer of 2011 in Cloverdale.  We went down and did our bit to support the local economy by eating out tonight (since vacation is right around the corner, Laurel didn’t want to cook and I don’t blame her.)  So, Laurel had BBQ pork ribs from Hamburger Ranch (they were DELICIOUS!  Highly recommended!) and I had the tri-tip sandwich (DELICIOUS) and we shared a bit of pasta (EXCELLENT!) Plus, we bought some peaches to take on our vacation for snacks…figured that was better than snacking on Snickers and Peanut M & M’s.

Word had spread that the band that was coming for the free concert tonight was really good…and I don’t know if everyone was out because the weather has finally turned and the excitement of the first Friday Night Live of the year was tonight, or if people came out because of the band, but there were CROWDS of folks tonight!!!!  The band was good – had a very nice sound – but it wasn’t really our kind of music, but they sure had people up on their feet dancing.  I’ve never seen the crowd in front of the stage even anywhere as close to crowded as it was tonight.  It is a lovely night in Cloverdale and folks were taking advantage of it.

Now, while you’re looking at this picture, I’ve got to go eat the sticky-bun that I got from one of the vendors (a bakery).  Eat your heart out!

By the way, we have folks coming to stay at the house and care for the dogs…so the place won’t be abandoned while we are gone…but I may not be able to post daily depending on what time I get access (if I get access at all!), but I’ll try to post pictures as we make our journeys as I did when we were in Hawaii.  Here’s hopin’ I get some good shots!

A crowd for Friday Night Live in Cloverdale tonight...

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1935, after one day without imbibing alcohol, Dr. Bob Smith and his friend, William Wilson, founded Alcoholics Anonymous.  It marked the beginning of the rest of their lifetime without alcohol…something that has been accomplished with the help  of AA for thousands of others!

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the word “beet” for the vegetable, reminded chefs of the way animals bled when they were cut open.  The word comes from the Latin bete, which means “beast”.

Bang the Drum

Have you ever heard of taiko?  If not let me describe it to you.  The word taiko means big or wide drum.  Taiko is a Japanese form of drumming.  The largest taiko drums, called odaiko, are the largest drums in the world…in fact, some are too big to move and the odaiko are typically found only in Japanese temples or shrines.  One is 2.4 meters long and wide, weighs 3 tons and is made out of a single piece of wood from a 1200 year old tree!  The drums themselves are of Chinese origin and came to Japan somewhere between 500-300 B.C.  Modern taiko in Japan goes back to only 1951 and Daihachi Oguchi, a jazz drummer and the acknowledged  Grandmaster of modern taiko, who began forming taiko ensembles for performance. He died in 2008 when he was hit by a car.

Taiko drumming is very energetic…and often very loud, as it is typically played by an ensemble of numerous drummers, all playing in sync.  My first exposure to taiko came when we attended a taiko concert at Stanford University while our youngest son was there.  The group, Kodo, is perhaps the best taiko group in the world.  Their drumming is so vigorous that they train for it by running multiple marathons each week.  If you EVER get a chance to see Kodo perform…GO DO IT!  They are absolutely incredible!!!!

This past Saturday afternoon, the Yokaido Taiko group came and played 3 numbers in Cloverdale as part of the Arts Alliance.  It was a fairly small ensemble (about 7 or 8 people), but they did a fine job.

From the Yokaido Taiko presentation in Cloverdale, 6/4/11

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1893, Mahatma Gandhi was thrown off a train in South Africa.  It would be a turning point in his life as it marked the beginning of his philosophy of passive, non-violent resistance.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: cheddar cheese accounts for about two-thirds of all cheese sold in America.

Snails Playing Trumpets

OK, I admit it.  Much of what passes as art these days doesn’t impress me at all.  Now, let’s talk about Michelangelo – that guy was an arteest!!!  Oh, that the guy, what was his name again??? DaVinci, I think…he was not bad, but I still like Michelangelo better.  Sometimes, all it seems one has to do is gather up enough of something and slap a label on it and a price tag of $5,000 – $100,000 and they and others will call it art.  It’s been made evident when people collect urine and put it in a bottle and call it something like “Tears of the Angels”, or get a bunch of toilet paper and wad it all up and call it something like “Confusion” and  you can sell it for a fortune!

But, on occasion, I run across some art/sculpture from a modern artist that I think is really cool.  Each year, the Arts Alliance of Cloverdale sponsors a sculpture competition.  Sometimes I think it’s good, but sometimes I really don’t like a certain piece of art.  I have to say, though, that this year I really liked nearly all of the pieces that are on display in the area of the city plaza.  I featured one on Friday night’s post (click https://twolfgcd.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/bones/ to see that picture and story.)  Today, I’m sharing another one that I liked.

This piece of art took a lot of patience and work to create!  The bottom two parts are wire frame, with wire wrapped around and around and around to give it a basket-like appearance.  If you click on the picture a couple times to enlarge it, you’ll be able to see that you can see through the upper section and detect the color of the grass behind it.  It was really neat!

But, as I said, the bottom two parts look something like a snail to me (especially the very bottom part.)  When I thought about this picture, the top part that sticks up could be either a snail’s “foot”, but then I thought that maybe the artist’s intent was for it to be a snail playing a trumpet! I’m curious: what do you think it is?

Actually, I’m pretty sure that the artist didn’t intent either of those things – I have no idea what was in her/his mind, but it was attractive and obviously took a lot of work.  I liked the semi-translucent appearance because of the way the wire was round about the frame, too.  So, from this art critic, it gets a thumb and a half up!!!

A snail playing a trumpet?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1956, making his second appearance on Milton Berle’s ‘Texaco Star Theatre”, Elvis Presley sand “Heartbreak Hotel”, his number one hit.  The television critics were not impressed and roundly panned him, saying that his performance looked like “the mating dance of an Aborigine.”

On a more sober note, on this day in 1968, Bobby Kennedy was celebrating his victory in the California presidential primary when he was shot in the head and killed.  I’ll never forget it: I had been listening to the Dodger game on the radio (in Antioch, CA, nonetheless!) and had fallen asleep.  When I woke up, the radio was still on and the news of the shooting was being relayed.  What a shocker and tragedy it was!

TRIVIAL FOR TODAY: the famous Rosetta Stone was found in 1799 near the small Egyptian town of Rosetta.  It proved to be the needed key to unlock the hieroglyphic writing of the ancient Egyptians.  That’s where the name for the language training series that you see on TV came from!  (By the way, when I went to London on a business trip once, I got to go to the British Museum and headed straight to the Egyptian section as Egyptian history has always captivated me…I turned a corner and passed through a door and right there, to my left, was the ROSETTA STONE!  I about fell over!!!!  I was close enough to reach out and touch it…but I’m sure I would have been promptly escorted out of the building if I’d done so!!!)



Bones.  They are what give you a framework for all your muscle, ligaments, tendons.  If we didn’t have bones, we would be like an amoeba – a rather shapeless blog, that when pushed from one direction in another one, we’d “flow”!  Your skeleton is what allows your body to bear weight.  While muscles power movement and enable you to lift things, the skeleton is what ultimately provides the support.

You already knew that, though, didn’t you?  Well, I had to have some kind of introduction for my picture tonight, so hopefully you’ll forgive me for that lame introduction!  Well, here’s some stuff that you probably didn’t know.  Your skeleton accounts for 30-40% (half of that being water) of your total body weight.  The largest bone in your body is the femur (upper leg bone), and the smallest is the stapes bone in your middle ear.  Your skeleton also protects most of your inner organs (brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, etc.)  At birth, a newborn has over 300 bones in their body (although the number can vary from individual to individual, and Wikipedia lists both “over 300” and “over 270” as being correct for infants, but by the time they are an adult, they will be down to about 206 (again, there is some variation from person to person). All six functions of the skeleton are: support, movement, protection, blood cell production, storage and endocrine regulation.

OK…enough of that!  On to today’s picture.  Why am I writing about bones?  Because the city of Cloverdale has unveiled the most recent sculptures for this year’s sculpture contest.  I went down in the rain this evening to shoot pictures of the ones I liked…and this was my favorite!  Now you know why I’m writing about bones….

HDR image of a skeleton in Cloverdale Plaza

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1940, the evacuation of 335,000 Allied troops from Dunkirk was completed when an amazingly courageous flotilla of military and private water craft combined to evacuate the trapped soldiers and avoid a horrible slaughter.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: a turkey should not be carved until it has been out of the oven for 30 minutes.  This allows the internal cooking caused by the high internal temperatures to complete.  The internal juices will have stopped running, making it much easier to carve into neat, clean slices.

Back Yard View

I used to live in some pretty flat, boring places (geographically and meteorologically speaking).  Many people do live in such places and they will spend their lives living there.  One of the things I’ve been blessed to do in my life is live in many different environments (Iowa, southern California, northern California, Florida, the Bay Area, North Carolina and Maine) and I’ve really enjoyed them all.  I feel very fortunate.

We feel fortunate to live where we do now – Cloverdale is a wonderful town in many, many ways.  Yesterday’s blog was a photo I took on Easter morning out of our front door.  Today’s is a picture shot the same morning from inside the house, looking out the back window towards the mist-shrouded hills on the east side of town. Oh, and yes, that is my hammock in the bottom part of the picture…a gift from my wife and kids from a few years back for my birthday!

I’m convinced that God loves beauty.  After all, He invented it!

I hope to experiment a bit with some photographic techniques in the next day or two.  Standby to see how it turns out!

View from the living room window...

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1980, an American commando mission designed to rescue 53 hostages from Iran, failed and 8 commandos died when a helicopter collided with a tanker aircraft.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: a midden is a pile of trash left over from a kitchen or dinner table.