Skip to content

Happy Winter Solstice! And news from the #ThomasFire in Ventura CA

December 21, 2017



Today is the Solstice, and here in the northern hemisphere, it is the first day of Winter — and the shortest day and the longest night. It’s a time to reflect and be grateful for the return of the Sun.

“The sun shines along the passage floor into the inner chamber at newgrange during the 2013 Winter Solstice.” Photograph: Alan Betson

It’s a magical time at many places around the world because people have marked this transition from darkness to light in many special ways like New Grange above where the light shines through this portal.

I’ve been missing in action here on Art Predator because #ThomasFire erupted in Ventura county on Monday December 4, 2017 and spread to Santa Barbara County and before it is through, it is predicted to be the largest fire in California’s history possibly reaching 275,000 acres and not fully contained until early January. 

While we did not have to evacuate, the fire hit too close to home: mandatory evacuations were just one block away from where we live, and we know too many people who have lost their homes.

The fire hit right during the last week of classes, disrupting school for colleges and universities in the area including UC Santa Barbara and Ventura College where I teach which was repeatedly evacuated and then closed down due to unhealthy air and water. It was insane trying to figure out how to get research projects and other work that was due plus final exams so that students would get credit for all of the hard work they had done.

Thomas fire in Meiners Oaks, CA near the famous Ranch House Restaurant (photo by John Walsh)

For the final essay exam, one of the questions I posed was to tell their fire story, and to connect with at least two course texts. They could also write about he fire and tell their story for extra credit. I will be publishing a few of these in the coming days — I am sure you will be as moved by them as I am.

I did somehow manage to get a few posts up at Wine Predator because I had deadlines and commitments and it also gave me a chance to talk about the fire:

So let us take a few minutes here to celebrate the occasion: while over a quarter of a million acres have been burned and perhaps a thousand structures destroyed, only two people have died: one fireman and a woman who died in her car during evacuation.

as of 12/21/17

If you are so moved, please DONATE TO THOMAS FIRE VICTIMS.
Text UWVC to 41444 and 100% of the donations will go directly to those affected by the fires.

In addition to sharing some of the essays from my students, I will be sharing a few of the many worthy GoFundMe links as well as photos from friends.

I don’t know if the following is a solstice ceremony or not, but it seems fitting to the occasion.



One Comment leave one →
  1. December 22, 2017 8:27 am

    Happy holidays Gwen! I look forward to reading your students’ posts as well as whatever else you are working on for 2018. Take care and be well!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Taxi Talk Without Tipping

Querus Abuttu

The "Q" Review

Jack Elliott's Santa Barbara Adventure

. . .tales from one man's wanderings, regional insight and history

The magical world of wines from Grocery Outlet

The best and the worst of Gross Out.

Stephen McConnell

A Daily Journal of Fruit, Structure, Varietal honesty, and Balance.

Sonoran Images

Photography by Steven Kessel


Diary of a Wine Student

Syrah Queen

Wine, Food & Travel Resource

The Paper Plane Journey

About my passion for wine and travel

Briscoe Bites

Booze, Baking, Big Bites and More!

Mythology Matters

Matters of Myth, and Why Myth Matters

Smith-Madrone News

Good Thoughts & Great Wine from Spring Mountain, Napa Valley

Fueled by Coffee

Lifestyle, food, parenting, DYI

Bottled Bliss

Day-colored wine, night-colored wine, wine with purple feet...

Do Bianchi

Negotiating the Epistemologic Implications of Oenophilia


Global wine culture

Elizabeth Gabay MW

Wine, Food and History: from the Rhone to Piedmont

Budget Trek Kashmir

Family run Company Specialist Trekking in Jammu & Kashmir, North Indian Himalayas

Oldfield's Wanderings

Objects in blog are closer than they appear

Memorable Moments

With Lists & Adventures That Keep Life Interesting

Vinos y Pasiones

Información acerca de bodegas, vinos, gastronomía y enoturismo.

Best Tanzania Travel Guides

from Kilimanjaro to the Serengeti and beyond


The Best Guide in Tanzania

Pull That Cork

Wine makes our life more fun.

Always Ravenous

Adventures in Food and Wine

Joy of Wine

"Wine cheereth God and man." -- Judges 9:13

Side Hustle Wino

If you're not having fun, you're not doing right.

Vineyard Son Alegre

Organic Wine And Olive Oil From Santanyí, Mallorca (Spain)

L.M. Archer

wordsmith | consumer, b2b + b2c

What's in that Bottle?

Better Living Through Better Wine!


My humble wine blog


When food and wine click!

The Flavor of Grace

Helene Kremer's The Flavor of Grace

The Swirling Dervish

Wine Stories, Food Pairings, and Life Adventures


Living La Vida Vino!

Dracaena Wines

Our Wines + Your Moments = Great Memories

Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

Gretchen L. Kelly

Sonya Huber

books, essays, etc.

%d bloggers like this: