Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cool Week...Heatwave & All

Dawn is my favorite time. With a huge white moon to the south, yesterday a rich red dawn rose up from the northeast, slowly spreading an orange glow across golden fields. Temperatures were already in the low 80's and the breeze felt like a velvet caress.

We spent lots of time on the chaise lounges during a wondrous week at Grape Hill. On Friday night, the moon glow across the just-harvested golden wheat made the vista look just like we were gazing toward the Sahara. Goodness, I can only imagine how Monet would paint that one view across time...the shifts in color are easily as dramatic as his haystacks.

On Sunday, the mercury hit 108 degrees. Hot, yes, but entirely dry and really charming in small doses. We certainly were glad for having built the house with double-thick walls, tons of insulation, and hearty air-conditioning. Between the ceiling fans and the insulation, the AC cooled everything to 72 degrees at only 1/3 output. (We could probably drop the interior into the 50's!) The magical warm nighttime breezes more than compensated for daytime highs. We were tempted to sleep outside, but then again we were also enjoying switching between channels to catch as many Olympic events as possible.

We have been developing the habit of impromptu exploration; who can resist turning down a road called Halley Gultch or Marvel Reach? I have determined to make a collage of these great road names. Sue is getting into photographing old barns and silos. We tease one another, but both pursuits are pretty neat. Since we are on a search for the perfect cupola, every new turn offers excitement. We are turning into people who others might easily make fun of, yet these jaw-dropping views are the real deal. Steve and Lisa came out for a very joyful two days and they were a little smitten, I think. Lisa has always wanted to have a home on the water. We could not possibly be more landed, yet she felt the ocean thing quite a bit while looking out over the expanses. One of our most fun times was a delightful meal on the terrace at The Whoopemup in Waitsburg. Great company, really good food, perfect views in every direction, and that amazing warm breeze!

Sue and I explored into the Blues by driving out Lewis Peak Road all the way south and east until we looped back along the ridges turning north to Waitsburg. These are real mountains! On some of the ridges we were able to look down across the Walla Walla Valley all the way to Touchet and Wallula and then turn our heads the other direction and look down steep slopes to deep green thickets a couple thousand feet below.

Another great outing took us to breakfast at the Oasis (Sue is a tough judge on biscuits and gravy...says it was outstanding). Neither one of us liked the stinky cigarette smells, but cut the place some slack, being that is it in Oregon (smoking inside remains legal) and it is seventy years old. We met the British owner, late of California, and he was great...loving his adventure in buying the old place two years ago and really proud of the food quality. They are sourcing local vegetables, carefully buying and handling all their own meats, and selling literally tons of their favorites, including the top prime rib in the Valley. I had the patty-melt. No joke, the sandwich was giant, the fries were perfect, and I ate every bit. Still hated the cigarettes, but the food was magic. Afterward, we visited local gardens for U-pick veggies and then drove out to the Seven Hills area to look over the vast vineyards. Very interesting to see that all the cab and syrah and merlot were deeply-colored. Far higher heat units in these vineyards, which will harvest weeks ahead of us. Sue pointed out, just today, our first cluster with one purple grape amidst the green.

I spent our final morning today working with Carlos to put up a new steel post where we will remount the radio dish for the broadband system that drives our internet and VOIP phones. As it turns out, the erratic on again-off again issues seem to be coming from interference off the metal building. So, we got out and set a pole into concrete, trenched out 60 feet and buried conduit, and now Columbia REA will be able to come back and use the line that I left in place through the conduit to pull through their cable. With a bit of good fortune, we will have a continuous uncorrupted signal!

During the week, we spent time with contractors to walk through the expansion plans. Now, it is up to them to bring the numbers in to make the addition a reality. Part of me will miss having things just as they are, but then again, there are some very cool surprises yet to come!

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