Windy, rainy VD + birthday

I took time off from week to spend the day with Lisa for her birthday + VD. After failing to drop off her laptop @apple to get the dvd/cd drive replaced (they were quoting a 3-5 day wait due to a backlog of machines to work on), we headed to Napa for the day with all 3 dogs in the dog-van. The morning was off/on rainy, but once we got into the afternoon, it started coming down… we need the rain tho, so its a good thing. I don’t think the folks in Napa were looking forward to the super heavy rain this weekend tho, since they are hosting the Amgen “Tour of California” bike race and with Lance Armstrong coming out of retirement, they were hoping for some big crowds. I wonder how many folks are going to stand out in the pouring rain to watch some soggy cyclists plod by.

Anyway, we hit up the St Helena Olive Oil shop to try some oil, balsamic vinegars, etc. Pretty good stuff, tho Lisa did have to keep reminding me sort of like you don’t go wine tasting to get smashed, you don’t go oil tasting to have lunch (trans: don’t eat all their bread, etc). We wandered from there up to Calistoga. Neat shops, but sort of the the rains coming, those shopkeepers really focus on soaking customers. We bought nothing there.

I’ve passed by it several times while in Napa, but this time we stopped … at the CIA. Yes, the vaunted CIA. Ok, well, not THAT CIA…
No, it wasn’t part of my plan to live out something from of my current favourite show, Burn Notice. Its the Culinary Institute of America. Big cooking school. Lots of neat cook books and kitchen tools of mass destruction. And scones. They had really good scones in their coffee shop.

We finished up with a late lunch at Rutherfords Grill (great cornbread) and made our way thru the heavy rain back home. As soggy as it was, it was great to spend the whole day with Lisa.

Tonite we’re having 50+mph gusting winds and heavy rain is heading our way again. The horses are getting tired of being cooped up. They did get some outdoor time today in the round pen (all the pastures are muddy/wet). But the next few days look pretty wet again, so I expect they’ll continue to cool their hooves in the barn til midweek or so.

Another kitty sighting

Got a call from one of our neighbors further up the hill – they saw a cougar down by the end of our driveway a few nights back. And when he was out walking his dog, there was all sorts of commotion in the wood across the street from our place a day or so later. He was thinking maybe the cat was bringing down something (deer, calf?). Anyway, clearly, kitty hasn’t left in spite of the lack of the lamb buffet being available. Another neighbor does have some sheep so that might attracting the cat, but theirs are right up near their house and they have a dog outside with them.

We’ll just be really careful with the horses and make sure they aren’t left out in the evening…

Jeep facelift

A few weeks back, we finally took Lisa’s 2001 Jeep in for some work. Over the years, the cheesy stock carpet had degraded, so we yanked it out. The fabric top had gotten worn/stretched, etc. Pretty much, it was looking beat inside. With the top off, the barn cats started living in it and made a mess of it.

I called around to a few Rhino liner dealers and settled on the one up near San Francisco – kind of a hike, but Jim was straighforward and gave us a good price. The plan was to spray the entire interior floorpan with the Rhino stuff – basically a flexible plastic type goo. Also, he took all the fabric off the rollbars and sprayed those too, but with their black truckliner material. The flexible stuff in the floor pan is great with the dogs – they don’t slip around on it and its softer on the paws than the raw metal was before.


It took a couple weeks to get the Jeep back, but that was mostly because Jim had a sprayer equipment failure. Once he had everything working, he got it done quickly and it looks great. He even refinished the wheel flares which had faded to a funky greyish-white color.

The dogs like it a lot. Lisa hasn’t put the passenger seat back in yet – there is a big poofy dog pillow there now.

A tale of two wines…a showdown, if you will, at 1:30 am, PST. 1:55am

It’s late, Art the Husband has staggered off to bed “I’m sooooooooooo beat, heavy sigh, stumble stumble stumble” Um. Okay. Hey, buddy, remember, I’m the one with the flu, pace yourself accordingly. To which I receive no answer. Oh well. I’ve popped my nightly Ambien and have settled into an armchair with an old copy of Gourmet magazine. I figure I’ll flip thru it for articles and recipes of interest, mark them and then enter them into the digital Wonderland of Recipe Goodness that exists on my MacBook. Ambitious goal at best, seeing as I’ve got approximately 15 minutes lead time before I’m flat on my ass asleep. But I’m a fast reader. Until I get to this article by some French dude (now, wait, this is good) pooh poohing anyone’s ability (especially we Americans, pssshhhht) to evaluate a wine’s merits when the only factor is the glass. Same wine….tasted out of different glasses. Blah blah blah, proves nothing, blah blah blah oh look, we fooled you stupid Americans by adding food coloring to a Chard….tee heee heee, le trick le trick le trick! Sneaky French, oh how I adore them so…..and then a lightbulb flickers and my magaziine drops to the floor. I have wine! and I have glasses!! I have different wines and different glasses!!!! And I know someone who is very French!!! This has absolutely NOTHING to do with the article I just read, but I’m going to try something!

I run, sort of in a straight line (we’re 10 minutes into the Ambian now) to the pantry and grab two bottles of wine:

Project Happiness, 2005 bottled by the happy winemakers at Oreana Winery on Santa Barbara, CA

It opened clean and happy, and loved loved loved the glass I chose for it.

And then, No Man’s Land, 2006, bottled in Bulgaria from fruit grown in that 5 mile strip of land that separated the worlds of Socialism and Capitalism.

The cork tore in huge open wounds when I attempted to free it, the wrapping at the neck of the bottle peeling off in shards. Yes, that’s barbed wire you see pictured on the bottle.

Personally, I’m not so much swayed by the glasses I’m sipping from, but more intimidated by the labels each bottle sports. One clearly would like to be my drinking buddy, the other seems to want to be left to breath at a table somewhere just out of my line of sight.

Project Happiness, is smiling my direction whilst it strips the upper layer of cells from my tastebuds in it’s acidity. I can only manage 3 pulls from that glass before smiling painfully and waving bye bye as it swirls down the drain.

No Man’s Land fared better, much to it’s displeasure I think. Far smoother but still rather flat and tannic. It’s attempts to push me off by circulating several pieces of broken cork past my lips have failed, as I will finish the glass and pour half another. The broken cork is no worry, I have a rubber one for just these occasions. It will be put up for tomorrow’s dinner. It’s not a great wine, but I don’t plan on making a monumental dinner. I will, however, use the body of it’s competitor to make the sauce that will grace the pasta that will hold court with No Man’s Land tomorrow at supper time.

Woah. Time for bed.