Monday, November 9, 2015

Halloween Mania

I love Halloween. That is an understatement I'm sure- but whatever Halloween nutter you want to classify me under, that's who I am and I don't care.

Every year we have special visitors. They are Mr and Mrs. Bones and my family have come to adore their antics, looking forward to October 1 when they arrive so scantily clad on our doorstep.

They play with the kids.

Play with eachother.

Blow up our bathroom.

Have spinal tap moments.

Play with the kids some more.


I mean really, it's the Elf thing but with Skeletons right?

Still a bundle of fun!

We already miss them.

Now what am I gonna do with all my extra time?

(Insert maddening laughter here) 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Lost in the hills of FOXEN


                           Lost in the hills of FOXEN
                      American Girl- by Tommie Vaughn

The adventure had begun. I was absolutely lost somewhere within the northern hills of the Santa Ynez Valley, and I must admit I was somewhat nervous as my family and I drove farther and farther into the Foxen Canyon with little to no directions as to where we were going.  My cell phone service had stopped working for only fifteen minutes, so of course I was sweating as we bumpily bumped down the road, our camper in tow bouncing wildly behind us, and I closed my eyes trying to remember the one landmark detail I had been told to look for.
The old white house. No, not thee White House, but an monument just the same in the vineyard studded Valley, this vintage whitewashed Victorian home on the left hand side of the road, where our turn would follow suit and we would continue up onto the private road of the Doré families property. We had been invited by Paul Doré, son of Dick Doré, the co-owner and co-founder of FOXEN Vineyards, who played host to this lively occasion know to the FOXEN family and friends as “May Party,” an annual celebration forty-one years strong.
Enter into the Fox’s Den
After we took our turn, climbing higher and higher into the hills, I raised my eyebrows to my husband who shook his head, mumbling something like “It’s gotta be up here somewhere.” And just like that, we rounded the corner into a large flat oak tree studded parcel with campers, tents and RV’s dotted in every direction, all seeming to surround a giant stage that was built into an even more giant savannah oak tree. String lights hung from the branches of nearby trees and long white tables with green tablecloths surrounded a massive BBQ station that was smoking with rotisserie meats. People were everywhere, talking and laughing, playing horseshoes as children played Frisbee and dodge ball in an open field. I breathed a sigh of relief as my kids cheered from the back seat. We had made it and now it was time to relax, meet the family, play some music and drink excellent wine.
The day went from worried to wonderful in about 30 seconds, as we were greeted by the charismatic Paul Doré and the lovely Jenny Williamson Doré, who handles FOXEN’s Marketing and California/Florida sales and just happens to be the wife of Dick Doré, who’s warmth and excitement I instantly loved, as she told me the legacy of this historic property. 

TV: FOXEN has a strong family lineage, with the land dating back to the 1800's. Can you tell me a bit about the family history, including FOXEN’S namesake William Benjamin Foxen?

JWD: The winery is named in memory of William Benjamin Foxen, an English sea captain and Dick’s great-great grandfather, who came to Santa Barbara in the early 1800s.  In 1837, this Santa Barbara County pioneer purchased the Rancho Tinaquaic, a Mexican Land Grant that originally totaled nearly 9000 acres and comprised most of what is now known as Foxen Canyon.  Captain Foxen adopted the distinctive “anchor” as his ranch cattle brand, which has become a trademark of the winery.  Benjamin Foxen and his wife Eduarda Osuna raised sheep and 14 children on the ranch. In the 1880’s, Eduarda and Benjamin’s oldest child, Ramona, married another Englishman Frederick Wickenden, and built an adobe home, stagecoach stop and a general store. The old, white wooden victorian home, that still stands today, was built around the original 2-room adobe structure built by Ramona and Fredrick Wickenden.

Eduarda’s step-father was Santa Barbara’s presidio captain and their home was where the San Ysidro Ranch is today. In fact, the family’s original adobe room is preserved by the San Ysidro Ranch today. Because of the influence of Eduarda’s father, Benjamin Foxen was able to purchase the Rancho Tinaquaic, and became Santa Barbara’s first anglo land owner. Foxen used the proceeds from selling his ship to purchase the Mexican Land Grant property.

TV: Your husband Dick Doré and viticulturist Bill Wathen are the founders and the only owners of FOXEN Vineyard and Winery. The winery has a land lease with the Doré Family. How did the two meet back in 1985?

JWD: You are correct that Dick and Bill made their first wine together in 1985, but they met years before in the late 70’s at a party and became friends then.
They founded FOXEN at the historic Rancho Tinaquaic in northern Santa Barbara County, that has been in Dick’s family since 1837.  

It is very fitting that FOXEN makes its home on the 2000-acre Rancho Tinaquaic, on which the land remains in Doré family hands, who are direct descendants of Benjamin Foxen. We welcome visitors at our original tasting ‘shack’ at 7200 Foxen Canyon Road, and our new solar-powered winery at 7600 Foxen Canyon Road that was completed in 2009.

TV: What wines are Foxen's specialties? And what’s new at the vineyard? 

JWD: We are best known for our Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, but our Syrahs and Bordeaux-style wines are also some of the most highly-acclaimed wines to come out of Santa Barbara County. 
Our Estate Tinaquaic Vineyard produces Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and a bit of Petit Verdot. It is dry-farmed, which is becoming more and more difficult in this historic drought.

TV: Your friends and family campout “May Party” has now become legend, how many years has this been going on now and how did it start?

JWD: Dick started May Party 41 years ago, and invited a few families to camp and “party”. It has grown over the years, and Dick delights in the fact that three generations of his family enjoy this fete. Three years ago, Dick turned over the hosting duties to his son, Paul Doré.

TV: Being a part of your campout gave me an insight on how strong your family ties are, and I loved seeing such strength and community between you all. Does everyone help out around the vineyard as well? I know both yourself and Bill's wife Becky Barieau work hard with the label, what about the rest of the family?

JWD: So, only Dick, Bill, me and Becky run Foxen’s winery and Vineyard activities. Actually, since last year, daughter Kaitlin manages our California sales. Bill was educated as a viticulturist, so he handles all of the farming in addition to being our winemaker. Dick and I divide the sales duties. I handle the marketing and communications, while Dick oversees the business. And Bill’s wife, Becky, is a CPA and the perfect person to be our controller. It’s a partnership that has grown and worked well for 30 years.

TV: What does the future hold for Foxen? Any chance of a new tasting room on the Santa Barbara Wine Trail?

JWD: With our two tasting rooms, we have our hands full and have no plans for additional tasting rooms. Sorry!

Ok, Ok so a girl can dream right? It was about this time that I was distracted by the lively music that had started up on the stage and lasted into the wee hours of the morning, featuring local darlings The Caverns and LA’s melodic mastermind Omar Velasco. (hot tip: Omar will be playing at Fig Mountain SB on Saturday May 30) It was a party to end all parties, with the friendliest family in the Valley… and you better believe I cannot wait to go back next year- bumpy roads and all. For more information on FOXEN wine and vineyards go to: FOXEN or call 805-937-4251.

See original article in Santa Barbara Sentinel- Cover story- page 14

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Diary of a Song

     Diary of a Song
                      In the Zone by Tommie Vaughn

A song can be like the internal combustion of one person’s soul. No musician knows exactly where that song will derive from, what will inspire it, nor when that haunting lyric line will hit you- but when it does, we are pretty keen to always carry a pen and paper as our emergency memory tools, or a small pocket sized recorder called- a cell phone, so we can begin the creation of this elusive gift from the universe.
But how on earth did that song find you? What was your muse? For a lot of artists, it is from our own experiences that we pen most of our pain away, let it be from heartbreak or happiness, for most it’s the same damn thing when it comes to creating a song. Nothing is sacred and no one is safe, when a songwriter is near and the nearer you get to a songwriter, the better your chances are to inspire their art. It sounds really romantic sure, but let me blow away all those clouds your head is dancing in, because musicians LOVE to write moody songs about heartbreak and demise, so that song you are longing for, may not always sound like music to your ears.
Art imitates life, or is it Life imitates Art?
I’m never sure, as the lines get blurry after so many years but I do know that our song inspirations are indeed the chapters of a book that is uniquely our very own. So could an actual book itself inspire? Of course it could, and local musician Kate Graves, who started The Bushwick Book Club of Santa Barbara County has organized the most creative songwriting exercise, set in the rocking backdrop of my favorite music store The Guitar Bar, for some of the west coasts most talented musicians.
Kate, a heart wrenching talent herself (think folk styling’s like Patti Griffin) is a native Santa Barbarian, who spent a lot of time touring, living out of her suitcase and lugging around her guitar, living in the wet and wonderful city of Seattle. That’s where she first heard of this one of a kind book club, and was able to join in with some legendary songwriters, as they hashed out some of the worlds most beloved literature. “It’s an amazing chapter Geoff Larson has in Seattle, and they have been doing it for years now and have it down to a science. Even offering recordings and radio programs for their performers, it’s quite a show and so inspiring to the artists who participated, like myself”
Back in the 805
Now Kate’s back living in the central coast, so inspired that she decided to take the Bushwick idea of Art inspiring Art to Santa Barbara for her very own chapter. With monthly performances on the Funk Zones Guitar Bar stage, Kate approached Jamie Faletti, owner of GBSB, who loved the idea and opened up his shop’s to Kate and her ever changing line up of local and traveling musicians on the last Wednesday of every month, for their book club performances.
“We are actually the fourth chapter of the Bushwick Book Clubs, the first derived from a group of great musicians in Bushwick, Brooklyn who thought it would be fun to get together and write songs inspired by different books each month, and the idea took off from there. Some artists would write songs, some would take a narrative approach, all with different styles as unique as the artists themselves.  It kinda spiraled up from the underground, to this hip happening scene, combining peoples love of songwriting and literature.” Kate is explaining the history as we sit in the middle of the Guitar Bar itself and I find myself getting excited at the thought of being in a room full of talented songwriters.
 “We just started out a few months ago and we have had some really fun shows, spotlighting a group of eight to ten songwriters. Some have come back each month and some are just traveling through town, so each show is different and exciting to see who is going to show up and how they will interpret the book. It’s also good for artists who need a deadline, it’s a wonderful writing tool and the deadline forces them to work and show up, which is great for an artist who procrastinates.”

Procrastinating artists? Never.
“It’s basically a really fun gig for the artists and anyone who comes for the show. You get to put yourself out there in a less personal way, since the musicians are usually not writing about their own experience but the books. But still, some will take it and run in a direction you never see coming and that’s truly where the beauty of a song and literature can meet.”  
April’s book club book is “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain, following the love affair of Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley. With May’s book being any of Dr. Seuss history of books and June’s “Stranger Music”, selected poems and songs by Leonard Cohen. Kate is trying to keep the books different and interesting, but encourages artists to join even if the book is not your favorite, since that might make for even more depth in your art. 

Do you have to be a pro to play the book club? Yes… but no, not really, not all the time, but get in line quickly because the show books out fast to bigger names who follow the Bushwick chapters, and this months is already full with names like Bobby Hartry, Kathleen Sieck, Daena Jay and Rom Prasado Rao.
The greatest part is this is a real live show that anyone can attend, with intimate performances that are truly one of a kind, and the audience is encouraged to read the books as well, so nothing is lost when each artist takes the stage. Artists who are looking to join the club need only to show up and talk to Kate herself, or contact her through the Bushwick SB Facebook page. Not a songwriter but a poet? Or a rapper? Don’t hesitate, because Kate is happily opening the book club up to a broader range if the talent strikes her. I know where I will be from now on, the last Wednesday of every month. Won’t you join me? Wednesday April 29th at the Guitar Bar, The Bushwick Book Club of Santa Barbara County presents “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain Doors: 7pm Show: 7:30pm $5-10 suggested donation info at or email Kate Graves at

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Book Three

I've noticed recently, I have too many different conversations going on simultaneously in my head.
If this happened to anyone else, they might lock em' up and throw away the key...
But for me- it means

Book Three.