Ouch. My whole body hurts, but it’s okay. It’s because I’ve been helping harvest wine grapes.
This morning my Charles and I got up at 4:30 after going to bed late because we saw Billy Bragg
who was fucking awesome (sorry, Mom). I haven’t been so stoked to be at a show in quite some time. Anyway, this morning we had a bit of oatmeal, chugged two cups of coffee each, and departed to Montoliva Vineyard & Winery
. We were supposed to be there at first light, and so we were.
Equipped with gloves, pruning shears, and buckets, (plus I scored the one and only stool, lucky, lucky me) we headed out to pick us some Sangiovese
. It was cold, it was wet, it was back pain and knee pain, and we had a blast. Mark Henry, vineyard owner and winemaker extraordinaire was a wonderful host, as was his wife Julianne – who made us the most scrumptious brunch – quiche and apple sausage and pumpkin scones and mimosas, oh my!
Mark, Julianne, & their awesome wine*
Then it was back out to harvest some more. Everyone moved a bit slower as our bellies were full of good food and our backs had been given the opportunity to stiffen. At the end, we got to hang out, drink great wine, and thieve some vino from a barrel. (One of my favorite things. I always feel like such a VIP.)
It was the best Halloween my Charles and I have had in a long time. We ache and it’s great. And hopefully, we helped contribute a little bit to the creation of some kick ass Sangiovese
.*photo from Montoliva's FB page. Seriously -- check out their wine already!
I guess I'm getting those French Doors after all. It rained. And rained. And rained this weekend, more like a waterfall than rain, actually. My Charles got up at 1:00 in the morning on Sunday and took it into his head to check my office. It's a good thing he did. He saw the beginnings of the same water stains that had existed on the floor before all of our work.
I didn't take any pictures. I was too bummed about it. Plus, how compelling are water stains and rolled-up towels inside the track of a sliding glass door? Methinks you can probably imagine that.
It ended up being a good thing that it's taking us so long to finish up the room. If we had already put the flooring in, well, disaster! Because we hadn't gotten to that point, we're going to take the hardware store guy's suggestion of duct taping plastic sheeting over the door until spring. Yep, you read that right -- duct tape and sheeting. Family stuff will definitely take precedent over a permanent fix for the next few weeks, and it will give us ample time to save up for a super swanky new set of my coveted French Doors.
I took a day-long sketch class yesterday. It just seemed like fun, and I haven't sat down and sketched anything in quite awhile. It was at the junior college across the street from work, so my Charles dropped me off on his way. The butterflies that are always present on the first day of class did their thing. It had been a long time since I felt them, so even though there
was nervousness of the unknown, it was fun to acknowledge them.
I had forgotten how much fun using a pencil could be. Our teacher was a sweet, soft spoken woman from France who was supportive of each person's techniques and different levels of advancement. She brought her daughter's toys for us to sketch, lots of spheres and fanciful shapes.
My favorite piece of the day was an incorporation of different magazine photos. She told us to choose pictures that could be incorporated to tell a story. I instantly fell in love with the photo of an old, wizened woman carrying a huge bundle of sticks on her back. As I drew in the outline of he bundle, the form of wings appeared. A photo on an earlier page showed palm fronds, and her wings appeared.
It was nice to focus on laying down a quick impression, not belaboring a piece, keeping it a transitory experience. Our teacher thought I must be an art student, so that was a major compliment. It was a very good day, and then the SF Giants won the playoffs, so it was even better. My Charles and I went to bed exhausted from this week of much work, but happy. When he got up at 1:00 this morning and checked the door in my office, that mood quickly changed, but I'll leave it for another post.
Tonight is my work’s annual meeting. It can be a bit of a yawnfest if you break it down into what HAS to happen: Board of Directors’ presentation, potential bylaw votes, etc. I’ve been in charge of organizing it for the last two years. (I guess I should probably add event coordinator to my resume.) My opinion is that we have to have the meeting, so let’s make it fun. This year’s theme is Oktoberfest, in honor of that glorious tradition’s 200th anniversary. I don’t find event planning too difficult, but the day of can be pretty stressful. This morning, I got in the car and blasted the Future Bible Heroes and got my blood pumping and a smile on my face for my 14 hour day.
The tomato season is leaving us, and we ended up getting a pretty glorious amount for a year of wonky weather. My CSA gave me the best thing to do with extras: cut them in half, lay them out on a casserole dish, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper and cook in a 350 degree oven until the liquid completely cooks off. Then you just put the goopy stuff in the freezer and use it for pasta sauces during the cold days of January. Good stuff!
I hate driving. I didn’t even get my license until I was 34. But some things become a necessity, and me behind the wheel became one of those things.
I still don’t drive nearly as much as my Charles. Since his dad went into hospice, we’ve driven 13,500 miles to go back and forth from the Bay Area to our home.
Even though cars aren’t really my thing, I do enjoy the opportunity for tune-age. Those 13,500 miles have offered up a ton of music blasting time. My Charles prefers more folksy stuff, but for my own indie ear, I’ve come up with the perfect playlist for the drive there and back again.
In no particular order, my album list goes something like this:
Pavement, “Slanted and Enchanted”
Smog, “Wild Love”
Amanda Palmer, “Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele”
Tom Waits, “Rain Dogs”
Eels, “Blinking Lights and Other Revelations”
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “The Boatman’s Call”
The Moldy Peaches, “The Moldy Peaches”
The Magnetic Fields, “69 Love Songs”
and depending on whether or not we want to push our sad off until later:
The Flaming Lips, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”
Cat Power, “The Covers Record”
I’ve also played old tapes of my radio show, but because I was such an indie snob in college, my Charles doesn’t really appreciate them too much.
It’s supposed to be a long, cold, dry winter in Cali this year because of a small La Nina. We’re prepping by purchasing two cords of firewood which we’re now stacking. Since our driveway is so squirrelly, we had the firewood guy dump it at the end of the driveway. That means that we have to toss it down the hill to get it to where we’re stacking it. If you’re interested in a workout for your core and shoulders that doesn’t involve a gym membership, this is the way to go. I’ve been tossing a half a cord a day, and boy my body is protesting.
As well as chucking wood better than a woodchuck, I’m also making warming belly delights. Last night’s meal was a heat treat on the tongue and in the gut. It also amped my metabolism, so even with the beer I had to accompany it (my favorite Lost Coast Great White), dinner was burned off in no time.
Golden State Jambalaya
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Chorizo Sausages, Diced
1 Medium Onion, Diced
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, Diced
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1 Large Slicing Tomato, Diced
1 Basket Golden Cherry Tomatoes
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
5 Thyme Leaves, julienned
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1/4 Cup White Wine
1 1/4 Cup Chicken Stock
1 Cup Long Grain Brown Rice
5 Small Pieces of Fresh Okra, sliced into 1/2" rounds
(Seasoning Mix: 1 tsp Paprika, 1/2 tsp Black Pepper, 1/2 tsp Dried Red Pepper Flakes, 1 tsp Salt, 3 Bay Leaves)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot over medium heat, add Olive Oil and sauté the Chorizo until slightly browned, then add 1/2 of the Onion and Bell Pepper and sauté until tender. Add the Okra and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the Tomatoes and cook for about 1 minute, then add the Tomato Paste, Fresh Thyme, and Oregano, cook 1 minute more. Add the Rice, cook 1 minute. Add the Stock, Garlic, White Wine, Seasoning Mix, and the other half of the Onion and Bell Pepper. Stir well and bake uncovered for about 30-40 minutes, or until the Rice is cooked, but still has a little bite.
One of my Charles' wine vendors keeps inviting us to events. It's terrific that he thinks of us and gives us the opportunity to do enjoyable, wine related type things. It's just been a tough year for extracurricular activities -- work and family matters taking priority over things we might find fun.Saturday, we decided that it was high time for a treat, so we went to work early and then went to the Festival.Wine and food went as follows:Avanguardia Wine with food from Carpe Vino, Baumbach with Max's, Chatom Vineyards with Cafe Delicias, Truckee River Winery, Secret Ravine with Old Town Dessert Cafe, Vina Castellano with Bootlegger's, Vintner's Cellar with Awful Annies, Naggiar Vineyards with Latitudes, Fawnridge, and Pilot Peak with Club Car.We, obviously, tried wine at each of the places we stopped. We didn't eat at every location. Sometimes the lines were just too long to attempt it, others just didn't look that appealing. Carpe Vino made a kick-ass pumpkin soup with vanilla brown butter. It made me feel all soft and squishy when I sipped it. Awful Annies served us a seafood chowder that was to die for, and Bootlegger's had a shrimp dish that was the perfect amount of decadent as well as a cheese and prosciutto plate that was scrumptious. It was interesting to discover that the Nevada County wineries tended to be better than their Placer County counterparts. I don't think it was just because we're more acquainted with the Nevada County wines. They seemed more polished, mature, and had a better sense of self. Of the new wines tried, Vina Castellano and Fawnridge were the big winners. We were the most impressed with Fawnridge. (They were the only winery that was graced with one of my Charles' business cards.) Their Chardonnay had a touch of Orange Muscat that gave it a lovely, unique flavor, and their red table wine was a pleasure. After all of that wine, (we tried two to three wines at each location) we needed an actual meal. We stopped at our Auburn standby, the Auburn Alehouse for some tasty pub food. It didn't disappoint. We both opted for the Alehouse Brisket with fries. Man, their fries are tasty! Their menu describes the Alehouse Brisket as a "slow smoked Angus beef served with sautéed onions, our Old Town Brown BBQ sauce, and house slaw on a garlic-grilled French roll." Their slaw is pretty groovy too. Plus, the portions were large enough, we had leftovers for lunch on Sunday.
I've been feeling like painting. Without my office, I usually stop before I even really get going because of the pup demanding attention, baseball games on t.v., etc.
But Sunday I was left with some time to myself and a very tuckered Bodie. (We had played tons and tons of ball earlier.) I started thinking about adolescent gulls. They look a lot different than their adult counterparts -- gray and slightly drab when compared to their bright white destiny. "Dreams of Gulls" was born. It's a pretty simple piece, white and silver and gray with undertones of black. Texture was created with a couple of extra screws that were laying around. It turned out pretty well, understated but shimmery. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. My Charles saw it and asked, "Is that going in your office?" Though it could have been an innocent question due to the fact that my office is also gray, I also took it to mean it really wasn't up his alley.
Texture -- because it was less than a wall that needed new texture, we chose this spray variety. It worked pretty well, though if that's low odor, I don't even want to think about the regular version. Also, it didn't cover 110 square feet. We need to buy another can so I can finish texturing, but it was a good option. We didn't need to rent equipment. The nozzle was easy to use and it sprayed easily. I used the sheetrock mud knife to knock down the peaks, and it looks like the rest of the walls, so hopefully no one will know the difference.While I was at it, I also pulled down the little girl shelf that had been hanging out in a corner of the office. The can of spray texture is hanging out on it in the picture. It had been installed with galvanized screws. Seriously, wtf were these people thinking? It was a bitch to remove, and I ended up damaging the existing drywall a bit. I patched it up right away, and that part of the wall will be hidden behind the built-in bookcase I'm putting there, so the sacrifice of dented drywall was worth getting rid of the tiny, girly shelf.Next up: My Charles and I attended the Auburn Wine & Food Festival after work on Saturday and tried TEN wineries' creations.
Slightly different lighting
Make this. I don't care if you're on a diet. Make your tastebuds do the happy dance. It's simple. It's this
+ eggs, milk, oil, a dash of salt, and this
. That second this is the secret ingredient that will make everyone swoon. Use it instead of icing. Yes, I usually bake from scratch, but I created this manna from stuff just laying around my house. It's gloomy and cold like everywhere
, so fill your house will the smells of warm sugar. Thank me later.
Note to self: don't blog when you're still recovering from a major food poisoning experience. I've been finding editing problems since I posted that last blog o' mine, and as an editor as well as a writer, I hate that! Apologies for throwing you out of the reading over and over due to odd spelling, undeleted prompts, etc.I'm still recovering my stamina, and that's showing itself in some major ways. When we got home from work a couple of nights ago, I realized that I needed to take down our sail shade. It's helped so much with our energy bills! But I was tired and decided I'd do it the next day. At four the next morning, my Charles and I woke up to a downpour. Oops. I wish I had gotten a picture of the sail full of water. It looked like a thin, deep canvas U, pregnant with rain, resting on the deck rail. The weight almost pulled one of the poles from the ground.We're not going to be doing much work on the house this week. It's another take it easy week for me, and now my Charles has come down with a cold. So instead of an update from us, I thought I'd recommend a few really terrific blogs to read instead. I call these my "everyday blogs," sites I systematically check to keep my happiness level up:The Reluctant Floridian (though now she's in SoCal)My Favorite and My BestDesign BlahgShmitten KittenThe Brick HouseDear Future HubbyThe Bowie BrideI love you muchSTFU, ParentsCatalog LivingThe Broke-Ass BrideHyperbole and a HalfOkay, this is only a partial list, some of my absolute favorites. Obviously, I have a bit of a blog reading problem. No wonder I haven't been devouring as many books recently. Anyway, I love them. I hope you do too. Have a lovely week.