Friday, June 26, 2009

Lovely stay!

Such a nice several days sharing Grape Hill with David and Barbara, who flew directly into WW from LA. In the mornings, I managed to get in the plumbing for the outside shower (to be completed within another month). We also brought out a new flat screen TV which I have mounted in the upstairs bedroom. Fun and challenging to get everything working and hide the wiring. I also got in the sun shade that goes with the new window upstairs.

What a nice treat it was to stay upstairs for the very first time. Warm nights lead to us figuring out to open the bathroom windows to create a cross current that cooled everything down to a lovely temperature. There is always the air conditioning, of course, but it is nice to "teach an old dog new tricks" and figure out ways to work with nature rather than against it.

The vines are looking better and better every year. We seem to have the gophers under better control, but I won't ever let down our guard against those little buggers! The cab and syrah should be very productive again, with more cab franc and merlot coming in now.

We spent Monday evening in Waitsburg, where we had scrumptious little plates at jimgermanbar and I revisited a Diablito...really good, but not quite as sublime as the last time when Jim has the special peppers. Olives were just not the same. Then I had a Fernet-Luxardo, which triggered all sorts of creative juices. I decided then and there that I would be cooking dinner Tuesday.

Melissa joined us for dinner with an amazing salad out of her garden...lots of lovely greens and Thai basel...bitter and sharp and cool green flavors all coming together. I put together a tamale pie with braised chicken and chiles, poblano and jalapeno and chipotle, plus nopales and queso fresca. First time with using masa and I could not face adding the lard so I went with a couple spoons of grape seed oil. It came out very well! With some of our 2007 blend out of the little vineyard, there were smiles all around! I almost forgot...there were fresh local asparagus in the store that I blanched quickly and served crisp. So good! We ate at Big Table and watched the sunset then moved over to the fire pit to sit around and chat in the twilight. One of the highlights was hearing hte howl of a coyote down by Dry Creek, followed by a cacophany of dogs and coyotes answering from out in the hills.

After everyone went to bed, I stayed up to lie on the chaise lounge and watch the stars. Some very nice occasional shooting stars. In August, when the stars really shine, I'll have learned how to use the cool telescope that Sue and the kids bought me for my birthday. Can't wait!

Barbara made these amazing hot cereals with exotic grains and fruits and melted cheese...holy cow were they great! How does she know how to do these things??? David and Barbara bought us a blender for Grape Hill. Frankly, beyond milkshakes and margaritas, I haven't a clue about using a blender, but her natural cooking is an inspiration!

Really pleased that they seemed comfortable with everything and seemed to take pleasure in the simplicity that we have come to love. We keep debating putting in a hot tub, which could be very nice, and then thinking about the hassles of taking care of it and about the cliches of needing that to let down our hair. Really don't need it! I'll get the shower done and we'll see...

Oh. On the way back to Seattle we decided to take a longer way and try driving over Chinook Pass beside Mt Rainier. Beautiful scenery and not at all a grueling ride...the extra 1 1/2 hours was well worth it. Later this summer, Sue wants to show me the south route up the Columbia Gorge.

Friday, June 12, 2009 I write this to myself?

So. I haven't fully figured out this blogging activity. Is this my private diary? Does anyone else ever read this? I've never had a comment. Are comments enabled? I'm keeping a diary!

David and Barbara are coming up next week to spend time with us at Grape Hill. I cannot wait to see them! I will still have the plumber out to put in the lines for the new outside shower, but the shower itself will have to wait. The plan is to get the post in place and set up the shower head, and I will build the stall next time out.

David and Barbara will be staying downstairs, so this will be the first time that Sue and I have stayed upstairs in the huge bed. Looking forward to that, too. Just picked up the new LCD TV for the upstairs, along with the mounting bracket, so I will get that set up and also install the real blinds for the new upstairs window (if they ever arrive!).

These last visits to Grape Hill have been theraputic, which was welcome considering the stresses that we have been under. But this trip, this is all for joy. Joy in being alive, joy in sharing Grape Hill with great pals, joy in getting level again after a long tough patch. Too many people are hurting right now, more than ever it seems so.

I'm going to fly a kite.