Shoots Out of a Dry Stump

This old tree witnessed history – seasons of plenty and of want, Napoleon’s armies, two world wars, and generations of farmers – only to be felled one day by a chainsaw – its majesty sacrificed for firewood.

It’s glory may gone but not its will to live – new shoots are testimony to spring and the hope of life to come.

Ramble at Gold Creek Pond — Travels Through My Lens

I had intended to write more about San Diego this week, but life has a way of interrupting our plans and intentions, c’est la vie. Instead, I will post a short blog about a recent stroll we took around Gold Creek Pond, and next week I’ll continue writing about San Diego. Gold Creek Pond is […]

via Ramble at Gold Creek Pond — Travels Through My Lens

Instagramable Selfies? Really?

Edinburgh Castle is the icon of the city. The thick walled fortress, perched high on a rocky hill, houses the history of a proud nation, the crown jewels of Scotland, and the blood of brave fighters that defended their country. Just outside the gate stood a solitary piper, proudly dressed in kilt. Surrounded by a crowd of tourists jostling to take a selfie with the piper, most ignoring the courtesy of dropping a coin or two into the bowl on the ground, few, most likely, even aware of the rich history of the Scots. The selfies taken that day, all along the crowded Royal Mile, will appear on Instagram, for it is truly an “Instagramable” place. 

The Independent, a British newspaper, found that 40.1% of millennials chose their travel destinations based on how well the photos would look on Instagram (Independent March 2017). A google search of “Instagramable” returns 3,630,000 links. 

These days any travel destination is overrun with folks taking selfies, selfie-sticks are standard travel gear for many, for posts that will end up on Instagram, feeding hopes of “likes” and “followers.”

I get it, for I too post on Instagram, and I too crave the likes and followers. (Feel free to take break from reading this and follow my feed.) So I am not anti-Instagram, and in the end not anti-selfie. Photos of travelers in foreign lands have been with us since the invention of the camera, they become treasured memories.

Travel should be more than selfies, likes, and followers. The joy of travel is to get away from the “must see” places crowded with groups on tours, rushed from site to site, with only time enough to snap an Instagramable Selfie. These folks may correctly claim to have “seen” a place, but they missed out on experiencing the people, the culture, the beauty of the place. 

The late Anthony Bourdain said that if your trip to Paris is filled only stops at the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower  then you have not seen Paris – I totally agree. We were on our 5th trip to Paris before we ever went up the Eiffel Tower, thanks to the crowds it was a complete disappointment. When I think of Paris it is the quiet places and cafes, like La Table du Luxembourg in the Luxembourg  Gardens. I sat there one sunny day sketching the park, while sipping un verre de vin blanc.   Paris 2005 (20)

This is why I sketch, it takes longer than a selfie. To sketch you have to really see, study, think about where you are. In the process you take in the place, see the people, hear the sounds, smell the flowers. 

If you are not a sketcher, give it a try. If you are a photographer, please keep taking the kind of photos my wife takes and posts at Travels Through My Lens. But take more of the places and less selfies. And above all slow down, it is not a race. Sit in the cafe, have the glass of wine, then when you get a real feel for the place capture it with your camera. I guarantee the pictures will be far more Instagramable. Both photographers and sketchers are artists, our goal is to capture the moment, to be true to what we experience in a place. That genuineness will come through when you post it for us all to enjoy. I want to see the place, an occasional view of your charming person in the frame is fine, but show me the place, and what makes it special.

Keep travel sketching, and photographing travel, then share it for us all to see.

Changes in the works

January 1994 at the Holiday Inn in Racine, Wisconsin to May 2, 2019 at this Best Western in Silverdale, Washington – 26 years, five continents and over 3,000 seminars. The seminars are over, they pretty much ended 6 months ago, only did 4 in all of 2019.

So far this year I have only flown three times, 5,912 miles. By June of most years I was already MVP with Alaska Airlines, on my way to Gold Status, with 30 to 40 flight segments already logged. What a change. I will hit my Million Mile status with a couple of flights planned for this year.

So, this is a year of change. Coffee shops, beaches, and arboretums have replaced the Alaska Boardroom Lounges. A shoulder bag and pochade boxes have replaced my roller-bag. Blue jeans, paintbrushes, and pens are the attire and tools of the day. And the closest thing to a seminar are the sketching workshops I lead. I love it and don’t miss the travel as I feared I would.

There are trips planned, but for pleasure. Off to Oregon for the 4th of July to visit friends and family. A day trip to Port Townsend in August for my birthday. September we head to San Diego for a wedding and time with friends. Then off to Tokyo for another wedding in November, with a side trip to Seoul.

When we get back from Japan it will be time to kick the France planning into a higher gear. If we are to move there in April/May there is a lot to do. The visa process takes about three months, lots of documents to secure, dossiers to create for us and for our cat, as well as a trip to San Francisco to appear at the French Consulate office.

Though, as many before me have observed, I am so busy now I don’t know when I ever found time to work, still there is more time to reflect on food we cook and eat, places we visit, and tips for both. So time to get this blog back into action.

Food, a celebration of Gratitude

It is Thanksgiving morning and the preparations are well under way. Every dish is a reminder of how much we have to be thankful for.

IMG_1127The turkey has been in the brine since yesterday morning, this is Tricia’s one day a year for turkey, but I have never had better, she does it so well. The brine has apples, rosemary, herbs, mustard seed, fennel seed, onion, cranberries, a bottle of white wine, and probably a lot I am forgetting. Then she will put herbed butter under the skin.

Don’t overcook your turkey, 163F is perfect. The days of cooking turkey for 5 hours like they did generations ago are gone, it only dries it out. If gravy is the only way you can swallow the turkey it is overcooked, it should be juicy and flavorful.

I baked skillet cornbread for individual puddings that will be stuffed with collard greens. We boiled and mashed the potatoes that will be used for a potato casserole with a parmesan-butter-breadcrumb crumble.

IMG_1776Tricia made her fabulous cranberry sauce, none of that canned jellied stuff, her’s is cooked like you would jam, with Chambord Liqueur added.

We picked out a bottle of a 2010 D’Alfonso-Curran Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, California.

I think someone is bringing pumpkin pie, but desert is never high on my priority list so I am not sure.

So all that is left is a bit more cleaning – windows in the dinning room, mop the floor, blow the leaves off the driveway – then it is down to the final prep.

Wherever this day finds you and however you celebrate, alone or with others, take a moment to be grateful for all that you have. I am reminded of the Psalm, “He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” Even when life is hard there is much to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving from theWinsketcher.

Wines Not To Drink For Thanksgiving

Pinot is good, be sure its from Oregon

the drunken cyclist

Thanksgiving is this week here in the U.S. and that means that just about every wine blog in the country will have a post on what wines to serve at Thanksgiving. They will all cite the fact that it is near impossible to find a single “perfect” wine that will pair well with all the foods that will find their way on to the table.

And they would be right.

I would hazard to guess that most wine people spend more time figuring out what wines to consume on Thanksgiving than they will spend exercising the following month trying to burn off all those extra calories consumed.

I say: don’t waste your time, as there is no “perfect” Thanksgiving wine. Instead, follow these simple guidelines on what not to do.

Don’t be bold: Unless you are at home and can go down into the cellar to grab something else, now is not the time…

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I changed the site name

Welcome to Been there Eating this – the new name for my travel and food blog. For some time it has bothered me that my old site, Been There Reading This was not quite right as I had not posted a book I was reading for a long time. What I write about here is travel, food, and wine, so the name change makes sense. All of the old blogs are in the process of being imported, so if technology works all will be well.

Faites Votre Choix….

This is a delightful read


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My friend and Napa county neighbor, the Traveling Wine Chick, had the winner’s honor of picking the theme for this Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #MWWC19 . I can only hope the dissertation I am about to put forth is worthy of her motif – “choice.”


I had the good fortune of being a guest at the wedding of two dear friends in Biarritz, France. Merely a week from this last Saturday, I was strolling the gardens and walking the halls of a beautiful chateau on Lac Brindos surrounded by nuptial brilliance and celestial beauty (the wedding designer is genius and there was no expense spared for this union.) I could go enviously on and on and on giving you enough time to stitch a voodoo doll of my likeness, but I shall refrain.


Biarritz is a gorgeous seaside city on the Bay of Biscay, on the Atlantic coast in southwestern France. A luxurious destination that is popular with tourists…

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