2016 FALL STUDIO SALE
Friday, September 16 1-5pm
Saturday, September 17 10am-4pm
All summery clothing marked at wholesale or lower.
Selected fabrics for sale at $4/yard
Raffle info below
The Blessed Tomato
So many tomatoes! Early Girl, Black Krim, Momotaro, Green Icicle, Sungold, San Marzano, Nebraska Wedding. Labor Day for me means a visit with my sister, Holly, and brother-in-law, Paul, at their sheep ranch/farm in Mendocino County, where Paul hosts an expansive Tomato Tasting/BBQ that feeds and entertains 30-50 people: family, friends old and new, and clients of Paul’s veterinary practice. At least 12 feet of tables are set up exclusively for the tomatoes, presented on paper plates with their variety written on the edge, salt shakers and knives handy for sampling. This year there will be at least 35 varieties to taste: small, large, misshapen, bulbous, red, orange, yellow, pinkish, and green/red striped. The last is named Berkeley Tie Dye. He can provide this prodigious array because he plants over 100 tomato plants of at least 25-30 varieties. The rest come from gardener-guests who plant other kinds.
Paul and Holly started such gatherings early on in their marriage when they bought their first country house. They had their first garden and their first flock of sheep. Back then, the meat, too, was named: we had Leg o’ Jack that first year. Holly would bake the pies from blackberries picked on the property, Paul would marinate and BBQ the meat, they made salads together from the bounty of the garden.
Over the years Holly and Paul had kids (two of the human kind and two of the caprine kind) and moved twice, but at each home there has been a large garden and a flock of sheep. The late summer BBQs have been a regular in their lives and ours. I’m not sure when the theme of these Labor Day events became so heavily geared toward the multitudinous colors, shapes, sizes and flavors of tomatoes, but it might have been the year Holly and Paul went to Italy.
About that time Holly couldn’t walk so efficiently anymore. Her MS had progressed enough to where Paul brought the wheelchair to Rome. They were there for a week while Paul attended an equine vet conference. They got to know the neighborhood somewhat in their explorations of the city, including where the good bathrooms were. While heading towards one near the Vatican one morning, a man beckoned them through a doorway in the Vatican’s wall. By following him, Holly and Paul found themselves with other folks in wheelchairs in the front row of a very large crowd awaiting Pope John Paul who was about to hold an audience. After his teachings and benedictions, Holly along with all the other disabled people were paraded by the Pope who blessed each of them and their caregivers with a touch. And just like at Disneyland, the tender moment was photographed. Of course they bought the picture despite their Lutheran leanings. With the help of PhotoShop, the Pope has invited us to Tomato Tastings for years.
Paul loves to cook with fire, he even has a wood burning stove in his kitchen. So after the tomatoes and antipasti come the wood oven pizzas, the dough prepared by Paul and assembled by some of the younger guests. Then out of the smoker and six Weber line-up come three flavors of ribs, smoked pork roast, chicken wings and a sensational 27” chicken/seafood/fava paella. We guests supply the remainder of the menu: mostly salads and desserts. They are too hard to cook with fire…
Long before all this, Eric and I arrive to help out – Eric with the food, me with Holly. I’m good with scissors, so I’ve become Holly’s hair stylist and pre-party is a good time for her new coiffure. She is always in a wheelchair now, and I have to be up-to-date with my Pilates so my back won’t crumple with the bending over. Having multiple sclerosis means withering in the heat, so I don’t take Holly outside to the festivities until all the food is ready. She gets to sit at the head of the picnic tables and I sit next to her to help. Before the paella and three kinds of ribs are ready, Paul calls everyone’s attention to thank them for coming and to toast Holly, “my inspiration!”. We all toast Holly, Paul, and each other before digging in.
Holly likes the ribs with blackberry barbeque sauce best and she can maneuver those herself. We are always a little on the edge of things, Holly and I. Partly because we can’t move around easily, and also when it’s too hot or Holly is tired, we go inside for a rest as the party carries on. We come outside later for dessert and Holly perks right up with pie and ice cream in front of her!
I know Paul is finally able to relax when the cooking is done, all the attendees have eaten and are telling stories and guffawing. He brings out a tray of tiny glasses and the limoncello to round out the sumptuous meal, because “We all need a digestif!”. This year we’ll have a special treat: Holly and Paul’s daughter, my niece Paloma, has spent the year making several digestifs of other flavors and will present ‘Paloma’s ‘cello Bar’. I can’t wait!
Once again this year I will be raising funds for the MS Society’s Waves to Wine Bike Ride in their on-going campaign to find a cure for this debilitating disease. And this year I’ll conduct one last raffle. For every $25 you donate to help me toward my goal of $5000, I will enter your name into my studio raffle! The prize winners can special order a shirt or jacket from any bolted fabric in my studio. This year I will pick three winners at my holiday studio sale in December. Last year’s winners are wearing their prizes right now! Every dollar is much appreciated. Here’s my personal page for donating on line:
If this link doesn’t connect, copy and paste into your browser.
Or send a check made out to the MSSociety to the address below.
1030 Colusa Avenue
Berkeley CA 94707
510 527 2487