Santa Barbara, California

 

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Whether you enjoy hiking, fine-dining, water sports, lazing on the beach, culture, or a great night-life, Santa Barbara has something for you. We certainly went from the very sublime at the Botanic Garden to the crazy but wonderful Summer Solstice Parade!

Santa Barbara is sometimes referred to as the American Riviera. Its beautiful beaches, majestic mountains, and colorful culture make Santa Barbara a premier location.

Santa Barbara is a 2-hour drive north from Los Angeles or a short hop from any corner of the world via the Santa Barbara airport. Santa Barbara’s harbor is home to the world famous Stearns Wharf, a great destination for the entire family. Visiting the zoological gardens makes for a great family day-trip.

 

With sweeping views to the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Santa Barbara Channel Islands and stunning landscapes, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a great place to explore California’s native plant diversity.The Garden’s 78 acres encompass a variety of cultivated displays as well as stands of natural coast live oak and riparian woodlands. We saw redwoods,woodpeckers,beautiful plants and views from almost every corner.

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The next day we went to the Summer Solstice Parade. What a riot!

Summer Solstice Parade began in 1974, as a birthday celebration for a popular artist and mime named Michael Gonzales. In subsequent years, their parade joined forces with a Summer Solstice Music Festival coordinated by Michael Felcher, sponsored by The Santa Barbara Museum of Art, staged at the Sunken Gardens to celebrate the longest day of year.

The Parade and Festival is the largest arts event in Santa Barbara County, drawing crowds of over 100,000 spectators from around the world.

The Summer Solstice Celebration has evolved into creative and original display of floats, giant puppets, whimsical costumes and masks of more than 1,000 parade participants. There is dancing, music, drumming and drama that is fascinating to watch!

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Woodstone in June

Lots going on at the house and the barn-that is for sure! Inside the house the plumbing and electrical have all been installed, inspected and now the insulation is going in. We are using closed cell foam insulation that has a higher R value, will give the house a smaller carbon footprint and is the best insulation you can use right now.

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What a mess when they are finished spraying!

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On the exterior, lots going on as well. The septic field has been finished to the north of the house. In the front of the house they are digging to create the space to put the drainage pipes from the gutters for the rainwater to drain into the field. They are also starting to build the stone wall which will be on the south and west side of the house,as well as a stone wall around an area north of the house. In addition, they are creating a veneer with stones around the base of the barn.

The inside of the barn is moving quickly- we have now finished the wood shop and the garden shed and are working on my office.

The trim is going up on the house and the barn. When that is finished, the barn will be shingled in red cedar and the house will have clapboards that are pre-painted in Agate Gray 2213 (very soft off-white) by Pratt and Lambert. We are waiting for the windows to come for the barn as well. All windows on barn and house are also Agate Gray. The windows on the house came to us pre-painted by Little Harbor in Berwick, Maine. They also made the doors which are already painted in Ben Moore Essex Green.

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The apple trees that we moved last summer…only one has made it. A real bummer-was a very tough winter for them. We did put in 7 new ones too-they are doing great!

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You’ve Got A Friend still Going Strong!

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James Taylor is one of my all-time favorites. For those of you not in Boston, I thought I would share this article in the Globe this morning. FYI- there is a new Sirius station for James Taylor -channel number 17!

WASHINGTON, Mass. — James Taylor hasn’t released an album of original songs in 13 years, but he certainly hasn’t been idle.

The legendary singer known for “Fire and Rain,” “Sweet Baby James,” and “You’ve Got a Friend,” who has sold 100 million albums, won five Grammy awards, and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is explaining what he’s been up to in anticipation of the release of “Before This World,” which comes out June 16.

Taylor, 67, settles into a couch on the screened-in porch of his spacious contemporary home nestled in the woods of Western Massachusetts. His loyal pug Ting lounges by his side. Unfailingly affable, gregarious, and accommodating, Taylor offers a visitor a fruit plate and silences some wind chimes, and at one point he even stops to gently pluck a caterpillar off his leg and release him back into the wild.

So why so long?

To begin with, Taylor has toured nearly every year in the United States and sometimes abroad. “I get a huge sense of gratification from playing music and from being in a room with an audience that is there to hear it, [where] there is some kind of a connection that happens,” Taylor says.

He’s hosted events at Carnegie Hall, crafted a series of guitar lessons available for free on his website, and appeared on awards shows. And in the 13 years since his last original release, he has made five other albums, including a Christmas disc, two collections of covers, and two live recordings.

Of course he’s also been spending time with his family — his wife, Kim, and their twin 14-year-old sons Rufus and Henry, doing homework in the next room — as well as his two adult children, Sally and Ben, from his marriage to Carly Simon.

But every time he floated the idea of making a new album, other obligations popped up. So he finally took decisive action: He sequestered himself in a friend’s apartment in Newport, R.I., one week a month for several months in 2013 and 2014, so he could focus on writing lyrics.

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“I’m glad to know that’s what works now, because the next time I have to write I’ll start off that way,” he says with a chuckle.

Taylor acknowledges having felt some trepidation: “I wondered if I still had anything to write about, and how the songs were going to turn out.”

And even after nearly 50 years of success, he knows his music isn’t for everyone.

“Some people hear my music and are just put off by the fact that it’s pretty. And there’s no doubt about it, primarily I’m interested in singing pretty,” he says. “There are people, it occurs to me, [for whom] if it doesn’t sound gritty and raw and slightly painful, it’s not genuine. And I’m not of that opinion.”

Lately, Taylor has been mulling a documentary he saw about Japanese traditional artists, recognized in their country as “living national treasures.”

“These are arts that people give their lives to, and at a certain point they become masters of, and maybe they will affect it three percent or something,” he muses. “They’re repeating an art form and recapitulating. . . . It’s a useful way for me to think of my music. It is not all things for all people. It is something that I was partially born with and partially given and partially discovered on my own. . . . I learned it from other people. I stole it from other people. . . . And people in turn take it from me.”

Taylor remains grateful for the generations of fans who have embraced it, and for the good fortune he has experienced along a path that for many years was bumpy because of depression and substance abuse — a topic addressed on the new album in the sprightly “Watchin’ Over Me.”

“There’s the luck of being in the right place at the right time. There’s the luck of having survived some serious demons that killed so many people. There’s also the luck of having an audience that sustains me, that feels like a community,” he says. “My overwhelming feeling generally these days is gratitude, for how things have turned out. For the life in music that I’ve been allowed.”

“Before this World,” which features guest appearances from Sting and Yo-Yo Ma, is the 16th chapter in a story the Boston native has been telling since he was signed to Apple Records in 1968 and met the Beatles.

For the casual fan, all the Taylor hallmarks are there: the richly textured vocals, the elegant finger-picked guitar, the lyrics that range from poignant and meditative to playful and cheeky, the unfussy production.

But for close observers, there are also fleeting moments — names, phrases, musical motifs — that trigger a sense of recognition, hearkening back to earlier songs.

“I’m re-encouraged that I can still do this and it still works,” Taylor says of such tracks as the moving piano ballad for his wife “You and I Again,” the Latin-flavored “SnowTime,” and the wistful “Stretch of the Highway,” a paean to the twin pulls of a musician’s life, the road and home. (“Getting that balance right is life’s work,” he says.)

“Before This World” was recorded primarily at the Barn, the recording studio and offices right down the hill from his home, with his longtime backing band and producer Dave O’Donnell.

“James just keeps on growing and getting better and better,” says drummer Steve Gadd, who has also played with Eric Clapton and Paul Simon. “It’s just a pleasure for me to be around him, not only him as a friend but as a leader and a musician, too, he’s very inspiring.”

Even after the long hiatus, O’Donnell says, “from the moment the band showed up and he sat down and played the first tune. . . it was pure joy.”

Taylor is eager to extend that joy to the concert trail, including his annual Fourth of July show at Tanglewood and a concert at Fenway Park Aug. 6 with longtime buddy Bonnie Raitt.

Taylor’s band will also play “Before This World” in its entirety at a performance presented by Sirius XM at New York’s Apollo Theater on the day of the album’s release. And the satellite radio company is hosting a James Taylor channel through June 21.

Taylor acknowledges having received lots of advice over the years on what exactly his next album should be, from country to standards. But in the end, he said, it came down to this: “If I have a couple of more James Taylor records in me, I should make those.”

 

In Boston Globe Tuesday June 9,2015 by Sarah Rodman

 

“Too Perfect To Pass Up”!

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CONCORD — Harvesting asparagus is back-breaking work. “There’s a lot of up and down, moving down the row,” says Lise Holdorf of Barrett’s Mill Farm as she and business partner Melissa Maxwell and assistant grower Rachel Klepner stoop to cut the green spears about an inch or two above the ground. Their white buckets fill with asparagus still warm from their soil cradle. They’ll repeat this early morning routine every day through mid-June until the field is picked clean.

Holdorf, 35, and Maxwell, 33, have operated Barrett’s Mill Farm for a year. Holdorf was raised here, Maxwell in Connecticut. They have a five-year lease from the Town of Concord and live in the farmhouse on the land. In order to make the finances work, they’re in the fields six long days a week and do occasional odd jobs on Sundays.

Asparagus is a perennial crop that Barrett’s Mill — and the town — is well known for. “This farm, in particular, has sandy, well-drained soil that is great for asparagus and strawberries,” says Maxwell. Local restaurant 80 Thoreau makes good use of the flavorful spears on its menus. Co-owner and general manager Ian Calhoun, who lives down the road from the farm, stops by a few mornings each week to buy asparagus for the restaurant. “It’s exciting to see a couple of younger farmers take over stewardship of the land,” he says.

“The beginning of June is when [the farm] takes off,” says Maxwell. Strawberries ripen, along with radishes, salad greens, sugar snaps, beets, and herbs. The farm’s Community Supported Agriculture starts on June 9. For the 20-week season, members can fill up a tote bag with harvested vegetables and also venture into the pick-your-own fields to rustle up some strawberries and additional veggies. The farm’s Barrett’s Bucks program, says Holdorf, “is a smaller commitment and you don’t have to come every week.” (Bucks cost $275 for an equivalent farm store credit; a CSA share is $660.)

The farm became available after former owner Patrick McGrath died in 2012. The town bought the century-old farmstead and in December 2013 requested proposals from farmers who wanted to lease the property. Included are approximately 12 tillable acres, a residence, greenhouse, farm stand, and barn. The women’s business plan was chosen by the town and in March 2014, the two moved in, Holdorf with her husband, Matt Conroy, a high school teacher, and baby daughter Cyra.

Holdorf was happy to return to the town where she grew up. “It was too perfect to pass up,” she says. Maxwell had been looking for a farm for a number of years. “It’s unique in this area to find something that could support two people, she says. The women had worked together for a half-dozen years at Appleton Farms in Ipswich.

With a full year under their belts, the duo is expanding the planted fields from 4 to 6 acres. “We started small,” says Holdorf, adding that they benefited from lots of helping hands. “The neighbors and farming community in town all supported us,” says Maxwell. In addition to the 50 or so vegetables and herbs they grew last season, this year they’ll be harvesting strawberries, garlic (scapes will be available mid-June, the bulbs in the fall), cipollini onions, red onions, and a mini broccoli variety called Happy Rich.

As women farmers, Holdorf and Maxwell are in good company. According to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, female farmers represent 32 percent of all principal operators in the state. That’s more than double the 14 percent of women principal operators nationwide, according to 2012 data. The disparity is due mostly to the abundance of small farms in the Bay State — there are over 7,700 farms, many of which are just a few acres in size — as compared to mega operations in other regions.

The Barrett’s Mill lease costs the women $1,400 per month, which includes the farm land, buildings, and residence. The duo invested their own money in used tractors and implements as well as tools and supplies to build tables for a greenhouse and farm stand. Before they moved in, the Concord Housing Foundation had raised funds for renovations to the farmhouse and to convert it into a two-family home to accommodate two farmers. “It’s in excellent condition and a good place for a family to live,” says Holdorf.

The farmers made a small profit in the first year. “We did a careful budget over the winter,” says Holdorf, which allowed them to hire one full-time grower and four part-time field and farm stand workers for spring and summer. “This year we’re hoping for long-term sustainable income for us,” she says.

In Concord, both Macone Farm and First Root Farm are owned by women. Susan Macone, 64, has run what was her family farm since the early 1980s. “We do everything the old-fashioned way,” she says, growing award-winning tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, green beans, and other vegetables. She sells her produce at the neighboring Brigham Farm Stand.

First Root owner Laura Sackton, 29, grew up in nearby Lexington and currently manages 4-plus acres with Cheryl Nunes. They grow about 40 different vegetables, most of which are sold to 225 CSA members. Sackton, who cofounded the farm in 2009, says, “A lot of young people who didn’t grow up on farms are being drawn to farming.” For her, the satisfaction comes with “being outside and the hands-on, always changing work.” The young farmer speaks highly of Concord as a place to set down roots. “It has a supportive agricultural community and people are excited to buy local food.”

Concord also has a vivid history. Directly across the road from Barrett’s Mill Farm sits the old, brown and weathered Colonel James Barrett House, part of the Minute Man National Historical Park. The colonel (and his home) played a key role in the first battle — and first victory — of the Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775. After Paul Revere warned of the British Redcoats’ advance, the story goes that Barrett’s sons buried the Colonial militia’s weapons and munitions in the fields around the house to hide them from the British.

While the land is old, the Barrett’s Mill farmers are new and as dedicated as their forebears. With every planting (and plowing and weeding and harvest), they’re hoping the soil will be fruitful for at least another 100 years.

BARRETT’S MILL FARM

449 Barrett’s Mill Road, Concord, 978-254-5609, www.barrettsmillfarm.com

in Boston Globe,Wednesday June 3, 2015 by Lisa Zwern