FOODPATHS® - December 2016 - January 2017
On the Road with FoodPaths® & Phyllis

“Where in the World are Phyllis Gillis and her Cosmic Gremlins?”

I’ve heard that a lot lately.

Rest Assured, my friends, let me borrow and paraphrase from the words of the great American humorist, novelist, and social critic, Samuel Clemens, best known by his pen name, Mark Twain: “Rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated!”

It is true that the Cosmic Gremlins and I have gone missing from the public sphere for a few months, but geeezzz! Can’t a girl and her gremlins take a break?

We’ve been ON THE ROAD!

As we come to the close of 2016 and enter the new year, we want to share a bit of where we have been and what we have in store for 2017.

We enjoyed a lot of BBQ…

… we dropped in at Albuquerque’s extraordinary Balloon Fiesta…

… we did a lot of bleacher-sitting…

And more bleacher-sitting...

... we did a lot of roaming.

One woman, two cameras, one computer, an SUV without a GPS, a couple of Cosmic Gremlins, and a whole lotta’ curiosity bringing Boots on the Ground, Behind the Scenes stories, from real farmers and their families, to the kitchen tables of our families.

*         *         *

For the past half decade, FoodPaths has been based in the Napa Valley, our home and place of employment. Tenure in the region has been an educational and entertaining venture, certainly for a City Girl that never expected to become an expert in agriculture. When we think of the Napa Valley, we think of wine, romance, and fantasy weekends, often forgetting that a bottle of wine must come from someplace, and it isn’t concentrated grape juice.

The wine business is based in agriculture, governed by the most demanding CEO in the world, Mother Nature. I’ve seen hail decimate acres of grapes, and the effects of drought parching previously fertile soils. One day I witnessed honey bees dying from disease; the next day a tree in my yard hosted a healthy bee swarm of thousands. I have acquired enormous respect for those who spend their lives working to feed others.

I learned how sophisticated, precision agricultural equipment and machinery is changing the face of farming, and how, despite the ongoing media coverage of food, much of the world’s population still does not have adequate food to eat.

At the root of it all are farmers growing real crops and wrestling every day with the uncertainties of bringing food to market.

FoodPaths has, as its mission, to connect the crossroads of food.

For much of the recent past, we have focused on California farmers, mostly because we have been based in one of the world’s largest and most productive agricultural regions. Increasingly, the Gremlins have been restless, particularly after being aroused at 3:30 a.m. in the blackest of night by what has become known as the Napa Earthquake of 2014.  In those early morning hours of August 28, the earth shook unmercifully for what was only 30 seconds, accompanied by a deep, growling alien noise akin to being locked in a Surround Sound movie theatre, ear drums about to explode at the depth of the unmerciful noise. It didn’t take long to understand that we had just experienced a 6.1 magnitude earthquake.

Despite my house looking like Mother Nature’s version of a tossed salad, and while there was an awful lot of mess to clean up and repair, we were still standing.

*         *         *

In the aftermath of flying glass, airborne food, refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, and all manner of appliances skidding across the kitchen floor, virtually every dish, pot, pan, and bottle tumbling out of cabinets and shelves from living room to library, bedroom to bath, and office to garage emptying themselves, The Gremlins decided it was time for a road trip.

It would take another year to repair, sell the house, and leave Napa behind – Destination Unknown.

*         *         *

After picking up three books for guidance --  Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” George Orwell’s “Down and Out in Paris and London,” and Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quijote,” -- The Cosmic Gremlins and I headed out.

I have been asked, as a woman, whether I was concerned about traveling alone.

My answer, then and now:  Not a bit.

We have been absent for awhile, but we have been busy, stepping out from the familiarity of California and into a vast countryside of backroads and highways and amazing people, never knowing who we will meet, or what we will find.

For now, we will share some of our pictures from our journey into “other lands.”  In a few months, we will bring you a new website, and new stories.

As a reminder, the Cosmic Gremlins do not take kindly to copyright infringement.  If you would like to reprint or use our original and copyrighted photos, please contact us for permission at:


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