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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Luther Burbank Benefit Dinner

*This is a much delayed post.  My brain is a bit fried from fiddling with data and I decided to take a brain break.*

For years I've always heard that the Bowers are related to Luther Burbank, the famous botanist.  Supposedly, he was a beloved uncle of Dave's great grandmother.  I figured he was actually related or perhaps he was a good family friend who wasn't related to the family, but was referred to as an "uncle."  One of the first things I remember about the Bower family is that all the men look alike, except for Michael, who looks just like this famous botanist (quite true, actually).

A few months ago I decided to look further into this relation.  Not wanting to pay for genealogy services, I had to poke around online on many different sites and build a family tree from this free information and the Bower heritage scrap book I borrowed from Gualala.  It turns out Burbank had something like 14 siblings and his father was married thrice but had children with only two of the wives.  Like him, many of his siblings didn't have kids, but of course I couldn't find the names of all his nieces and nephews (let alone the nieces married names!).  The sketches I made were messy and confusing with all of these people and the letters/pictures/stories in my scrap book.

When I told Peggy about my searches she finally went out to the storage building, dug around in a box, and found the family tree information for me.  So Luther Burbank's sister Sarah had a daughter named Lizzy who had one child, a girl named Amy who eventually married Dave's great grandfather, John.  After all this wondering, discussing, and finally getting the answer Dave and I decided that Luther will be the name of our second born son (if we get one).  So there you have it: someday there might be a Luther Bower (Lute, for short).

Anyway, during this poking around online I came across an event being held at the Luther Burbank Gardens in Santa Rosa on Saturday, September 8.  There was to be charity dinner in the gardens, highlighting some of the fruits Burbank developed during his life.

Cute idea: green beans in the water

I arranged for Eddie to spend the night with a friend and got us a hotel near Santa Rosa.  I was sooooooooo excited to dress up, mingle with people, sip on local wines, and eat local/sustainable/historical foods.
Us, all ready to go eat some scrumptious foods and meet new people!
Me standing at the back of the famous greenhouse.
A view of the gardens
A handsome man standing at the front of his great--fifth-uncle's greenhouse
The menu
First course: a plum popscicle
Second course: raviolo (singular of ravioli)
Third course: succotash (basically tomato jelly over corn pudding).
Fourth course: chicken pot pie
I didn't take pictures of the other courses, unfortunately.

So that all looks amazing, right?  Well, it started out great...but then by the second course, Dave was in the bathroom barfing.  You will recall that only two weeks prior Eddie and I had come down with the stomach flu.  We're not sure what Dave got that night, but it sure sucked (can a stomach virus last in the house for 2 weeks?).  I'd shared drinks with him all day and I didn't get sick that time.  Who knows.  We texted back and forth and he kept urging me to stay and enjoy the food.  But eventually I left (just before dessert and speeches) because I felt so bad for Dave.

We considered making the 1.5 hour drive home but I'm glad we didn't because he barely made it back to the hotel.  That night consisted of him going between the bed and the bathroom, me running downstairs to refill our ice bucket and buy Gatorade, and both of us trying to sleep.  Poor Davie.  It took him a few days to feel 100% again.

Eddie, of course, had a fabulous time at Renee/Kelly/Jeff's house--playing, doing art projects, etc.  We played at a new park, had a picnic dinner, and generally stayed out of the house for the rest of that Sunday so Dave could recover in peace and quiet.

I'm confident that our next visit to the Burbank Gardens will end much more happily and healthily!

On a happier note, Burbank also wrote a book about raising kids called The Training of the Human Plant.  Mind you, he never had kids, but he had some great insights.  My dad has had a quote from this book hanging near his desk at home since my childhood:

"Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water-bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud-turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb, brooks to wade in, water-lilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hayfields, pine-cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets; and any child who is deprived of these has been deprived of the very best part of his education."

I heartily agree.


steph.kelley said...

A darling — and very true — quotation. You and Dave look spiffy in your evening attire! So sorry for him (and you too) that it didn't end as well as it began. Still a lovely garden, and lovely tribute to a distant ancestor. xoxo

Mariah said...

I love that quote!