Sunday, July 13, 2008

A short delightful stay

Just spent three lovely days at Grape Hill, me and Sligo, who would certainly vote for being a full-time Walla Walla dog. Between visiting with his buddies, Buck and Reese, riding in the truck, and running the fields, life is good.

We went twice in to town together, which was a first. I brought a pocket filled with dog treats to coax his most polite behavior. He is now a definite star at Starbuck's, where he gets to sniff lots of other dogs and gets petted by most everybody. Lots of discussion over his block head, that English Lab thing...

I picked up the netting for the vineyard, made plans to start at 5:30 AM with Carlos and his crew, then nobody showed. Maybe I have advanced somewhat, since this hasn't bothered me. My expectations have changed and, more and more, I go with the flow on Walla Walla time. It will get done. This year, the birds can eat elsewhere.

Arnie Grassi and I have worked out the challenges for ductwork through the upcoming addition. According to Arnie, I am not alone in leaving HVAC as an addendum rather than integrating airflow design from the start. That makes me feel a bit better. I will raise the skybridge by two feet and tweak the elevation for the peak. My cupola will house a thermostatically-controlled exhaust vent that should drop cooling costs quite a bit.

Ricky came out with my drawings and it rapidly became clear that these are too unusual to be easily understood on paper. We walked the future spaces and he came to understand the intentions. A little discussion about Gaudi, some chatting about fun with structure and purposeful inefficiencies, and he got it. Structures can be artful and whimsical, particularly when we cast off the oppression of resale considerations. I love that taupe and beige need not apply!

Went to Yungapeti for their killer albanil burrito that Jay turned me onto. Must restrain myself from eating these daily! Lots of friendly argument over the La Monarca truck at the Napa Auto on Isaac versus Yungapeti. Rumor has it that the owners are brothers, which makes the competition still more fun. If either place served an ice-cold Corona, the world would be just too perfect!

On Saturday morning I went by the salami and cheese shop on 2nd and came out with a demi-baguette and a nice mound of salumia salami. Went home and sat out on the patio with my sandwich and an ice-cold beer. 90 degree weather, but the breeze was perfect (night and day the entire stay) and absolute comfort. A big dust-devil whirred in the distance, prompting me to wonder what is the difference between these and tornadoes? A big deer jumped up from the grass pretty close to me and ripped away across the fields. That sandwich was something else...with the cold Pacifico it was perfection!

Friday night I went over to the Blue Mountain Casino (five minutes from Grape Hill). We had a friendly, funny, very loose game of Texas Hold 'Em. Short of playing with my buddies, this may have been the most amusing poker table I can remember. I was playing tight and careful while all around me the other players were bluffing and running up the betting on draws...wild game. Finally, I just decided that discipline be damned (4-8 game so not easy to really get hurt). Things got to be as much fun for me as for the others and I went back and forth, from $40 down to $60 up. Great time! And when I hit four aces for a $380 jackpot, the night was mine.

Thanks to my weak back of late, the drive to and from Bellevue has to be broken up with hourly stops. I stopped at Kestrel on the way out and ended up having a great time hanging out with Dirk, the assistant winemaker from Cape Town. Did not swallow, since I was driving, but we spent an hour tasting both bottles and barrels. Really liked their co-fermented syrah with 7% viognier, their 100% cab franc (in barrel) and their "2-Ton" cab. Good stuff! The skill and enthusiasm was right on! Sue would have loved it, not the least that Dirk is both a very nice guy and great eye candy for the girls.

After the deer incident on my last trip over, I mounted the new deer whistles. The effort took all of two minutes. On my way back to Bellevue, I gave a hitchhiker a ride from Benton City in to Bellevue. Nice kid, Tom, a part-time baker at Tall Grass in Ballard and former ballet dancer. Talked a lot about his hitchhiking adventures to Guatemala and his recent stay in London with his English girlfriend. As we were climbing the east slope to Snoqualmie Pass, Tom yelled "deer" as a big doe rushed toward the side of my truck and then stopped before hitting us. (Deer whistle working already????) He turned and I watched in the rear-view as that deer played dodgeball with the traffic and actually survived crossing the freeway. Hooray for the deer!

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