Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sad Afternoon

I was doing dishes today, and I heard a car go by and then a loud thump. Cars go by my house too fast much too often, and I thought someone had just hit the dip going too fast. A few minutes later I hear a woman cry out. At first I couldn't tell if it was laughter or crying, but after a few seconds it was clear that it was more of a wailing. Regardless of where in my house you were, you could hear this woman's agony.

I went outside to see if someone was hurt, and then I saw it - a bright white furry body laying dead in the middle of the street. It was my neighbor's dog. The thump was the dog being hit.

At this point half the neighborhood has come out of their houses to see what happened. I was actually having a hard time holding back some tears. I usually get sad when I see animals on the road that have clearly been hit by a car, but the sound of the woman crying made it heartbreaking.

Lucas was weaving himself between my legs, trolling for attention, and I thought about how aweful it would be if he ran out into the street and were hit by a car. And of how fast people drive around my neighborhood (another of my neighbors likes to have his friends over so they can all race their motorcycles around the block; it's very loud and obnoxious), and thinking to myself that they really should put in some speed bumps or something.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Bobby and I were driving around today, and he tells me he'd received a text message from a classmate of his - turns out he has a test on Monday, and he needs to go study. He was driving and trying to type a response, and eventually just handed me the phone and asked me to finish the message and hit send. When I did, the original message pulled up, and it read something like "what's up norconian,..." and something about meeting up to study.

"She calls you Norconian?"
"Yeah, she was saying something about her car being stolen the other day and that she'd had to go out to Norco because that is where her parents live. Turns out she went to Norco High."
"Yeah, class of 98 even."
"No way! What's her name?"
I said the last name of a Colette I knew in high school.
"I don't know her last name." So I start describing the Colette I was friends with in high school. "Yes....Yes....Yes..."
He hands me his phone again. "Send her a text asking if that is her last name." So I do.
She replies with something about how that is a terrible photo... she's assuming he's looking at an old yearbook.

So he calls her up, and she gives him a little flack about looking through old yearbooks.
"Actually, I'm in the car. I was just telling my girlfriend about you being from Norco, and she guessed your last name...." He paused and then said my name.
I can hear her get all excited on the other end of the line, and then he hands the phone to me.

Bobby was laughing a little to himself, listening to us excitedly say our hellos and how-are-you-doings. I suggested that instead of meeting up at the school, Colette should just come over and have dinner with us, and they could study here. She thought that was a great idea, so we set a time. I had already planned on making steak with an arugula salad (arugula that I had picked from my garden the night before actually) so we just picked up another steak on the way home. Dinner was lovely, and it was great to catch up with an old friend. She had been living in London for the last few years, so we had lots of Europe stories to tell each other. And we both had stories to tell about the years since we'd last seen each other. She and Bobby probably didn't get as much studying done as they should have though.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

In Pursuit of Shade

I wanted shade over the patio area that the patio cover doesn't cover. And I thought about how nicely the grapevines in the front yard at my parents' shade the courtyard there, and it would be kinda fun to make wine. So I bought some vines - one a Merlot from Home Depot in a pot, and a Pinot Gris and Cabernet Sauvignon from someone on eBay selling bare root grafted vines. But I'm me, and then I start wondering about the best place to plant and how much to water the vines to grow the best grapes, etc. So I buy a book - From Vines to Wines - and I start reading about how to grow grapes for wine, and here I run into a little hiccup in my grand plan.... when growing grapevines for the purpose of making wines, you would prune the plant much differently than you would for shade. In fact, proper pruning would negate my whole shady patio cover plan.

But now I'm all worked up about making wine, and have decided that is more important than my shade idea. So I'm planting grapes for the purpose of home winemaking. I even decided that I'm going to plant the vines I already bought elsewhere for the shade aspect (still not sure where), then I'm going to prep the ground where I want to plant my wine vines this fall and order new vines to plant properly in the spring. Cause I want to do it right. And that leads to more questions in my head - how long does it need to be aged, at what temperature, etc.

Then I start thinking about aging, and that's a whole new set of questions - if I wanted to buy wine to keep for awhile before drinking, how do I know what kinds keep getting better over time, and how does one know when the peak has been reached, etc. And where the heck in my house could I keep such wine. (Yes, I have trouble controlling the tangential nature of my thoughts.) So now I feel the need to build a cellar at my house too. (My brother Aaron looked at me like I had gone crazy... "When did you become wine crazy?" But when I told Mom about where Bobby suggested we put it - under the brick patio - she said "Oooh.... when do we start?").

The problem is that we aren't buying the house, so if I build, I build for someone else. In fact, I'm apparently not going to have harvestable wine-making grapes for at least three if not four years. So if it ages for 2 years in the carboys and in oak, and then needs to age in the bottle... I'm not even going to be able to taste my wine for 5 or 6 years... if I'm even still at the house! And even then, if it's good, I might want to wait to drink the rest for another 5 years or so. I could be 40 before I'm enjoying the fruit of my first harvest.

What's a girl to do?

I told Bobby these grapevines are a practice run, and I can wait on the cellar if I must. But we did join a wine club this weekend (Ponte Winery in Temecula... we stopped there on the way to SeaWorld), and decided to wait to open a red that we'd bought. And I bought another book - Cellaring Wine. Should arrive tomorrow, which is good, because I should be done with From Vines to Wines by then.

Crazy Real Life Story

So I was chatting with my baby sister, and she had a bizarre story - an event that took place at her husband's place of work - a restaurant. I'm just glad I don't deal with people like this in my everyday life.

Jessica: On friday night there was an incident at fireside

me: an "incident"

Jessica: they ended up loosing 3 employees in one shot
so now Nathan is working super long hours to pick up the slack
they were supper busy
the place filled up in less than 30 min
one of the busers decided to take a table
as soon as he put the order in he came back into the kitchen bitching that it wasn't ready yet
it was behind 7 other tickets
Nathan and Pete told him to chill and that it would be ready asap
he through a fit
"F*ck you guys! I'm working my ass off" etc. etc.

me: wow, that was unnecessary

Jessica: Ya hes a winny little bitch that everyone hates

me: so how does that become 3?

Jessica: So now thats not the way to talk to Pete
So pete responds in turn
"F*ck You! We are all slammed go do your job!"
So this kid gets on the phone with Mommy

me: with mommy, are you kidding me?

Jessica: who also works there and thinks she's the shit
everyone hates her too
shes been woking for foreside for 9 years
She comes down with her man and her daughter in tow
walks through the back door of the kitchen and proceeds to go off on Pete
"You can't fuckin' talk to my son like that you fuckin' pig"
Nathan is just trying to get the work done and is listening to this and starts to laugh at how absurd it all is
The daughter ( who also works there) pipes in
"What the f*ck are you laughing at, you should be laughing at her, the f*cking whore"
in reference to one of the other serveres who just found out that she is pregnant
Elaina, the server, says "f*ck you bitch
So that daughter takes a swing at her and hits Elaina straight in the face
Elaina retaliates by putting the daughter in a head lock and slams her head into the wall
Pete jumps in and breaks it up
Elaina is screaming
loud enough for the customers to hear
"get f*ck out of my restaurant!"
Pete then pushes everyone outside and says thats it get off the property or he's calling the cops
As much as it was not the best way for it to happen
everyone is putting in extra hours and volenteering for shifts to make sure that that family never comes back
Pete is afraid of having to pay unemployment
but Nathan assured him that there is no possible way that they could collect
since then Pete has made Nathan full manager of the kitchen and has given him a raise
he said that he wants to give him more but can't just yet
not until they get back on track

me: that is ridiculous
if they tried to collect unemployment, pete should file a complaint
or sue them for causing a disturbance

Jessica: Actually he is filling apolice report and getting restraining orders
could you image that happening in a restaurant in cali
I was kinda bummed because I missed all this by like 20 minutes
I went into Delta with Nathan and was supposed to hang out till he got off but mike and Vicki came in for dinner so I hitched a ride back with them

Sunday, July 15, 2007

New Obsession

Lately all I can think about is gardening. I never used to be a gardener… hated the thought of weeding (still do actually). But then I like to cook with fresh herbs, which are expensive and always seem to go bad in my fridge. Seemed like it would be so much better if I had a basil plant…so I bought two plants and some seeds. It's so fragrant when I water...

Now I have two cilantro plants (that look remarkably different from one another), a Serrano chile, a pimento yellow bell pepper, a cucumber, some carrots, lemon balm, thyme, marjoram, oregano, Italian flat leaf parsley, an orange cherry tomato plant and a "lemon boy" tomato plant, cucumber, arrugula, and mescalin. Oh, and I just planted two cloves of garlic… they were trying to grow in my drawer, so I thought I would let them live. Grandma already had (and so now I have) a rosemary bush and a sage bush. I'm thinking I need a mint plant so I can make mojitos. Mmmm.

I recently moved my basil from a pot into the ground (about 3 weeks ago), and at the time there was a little tiny vine starting just behind where I planted the basil. I probably would have pulled it out, but it had just wrapped itself around the trellis that was there, so I left it. Found other tiny new sprouts of the same plant throughout the yard, and in general I left it if it was along the wall, but pulled it out when it was in the middle of the grass. A week later it had grown to the top of the trellis (almost all the way up the wall) and now I see it everywhere. Finally figured out what it is... Morning Glory. It has really pretty flowers so I kinda want to keep it, but it grows like a weed just about everywhere so I'm really going to have to be careful it doesn't take over the yard.

I started two avocado pits too, but I don't think that's going to work out for two reasons. First, Lucas keeps drinking the water. He's allowed outside now (we got him some Advantage, so hopefully that works out), and even though he has a full dish of clean water, he prefers to drink the water out of the avocado pits' cups. So every evening I go outside to water, and the pits are completely dry. The other reason I don't think it's going to work out, is because I don't know what you have to do to graft an avocado tree.

I've been reading up… turns out if you plant a pit from an avocado you bought at the store, the fruit on that tree will not taste as good as the avocado you pulled the pit from. Avocado farmers graft all their trees so they will fruit earlier, but it also changes the flavor. So it looks like if I want an avocado tree, I'll have to get a grafted tree. Turns out my aunt has a buddy that breeds avocado trees for people that are starting new groves for commercial production, so she could get me a good deal on a grafted tree. Now I just have to figure out where I'm going to put it.

But first… I have to figure out where I'm planting my grapes. I bought some grafted grape vines. This time they have to be grafted because of Phylloxera, an aphid-like pest that attacks grapevines. Apparently in the 1860s, a North American grapevine was imported into Europe and some Phylloxera along with it. The European grapevines (basically all the ones that grow wine grapes) are not resistant to this pest (North American vines, which grow edible but not wine grapes, are resistant) and the spread of the Phylloxera throughout Europe wiped out anywhere between 2/3 and 9/10 of commercial vinyards. It was like the black plague for wine. Now they graft the European vines onto North American rootstock so that it is resistant to the pest.

So anyway, I bought some grafted grapevines – a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Pinot Gris (aka Pinot Grigio), and a Merlot. I'm now picking out spots in the back yard, and thinking about where I'll train the vines to grow. I'd like to train two of them to interlace to cover the brick patio area that is not covered by the patio cover. We don't spend much time over there right now because it gets so hot. So maybe in a few years I can try my hand at making some wine.

Unfortunately I'm going to run out of space. I want an avocado tree, a lime tree, and a fruit tree of some sort (maybe peaches), but I think that would mean I need to take out a tree for each one, and I don't really want to do that. I've got some cantaloupe seeds that I want to plant, I just have to find somewhere sunny enough. Probably the front yard.

The front yard will be a whole new project. There is a succulent garden out there right now, but I've never been too fond of succulents. I like that we have aloe vera for functionality, but that's the only one really. My uncle apprently loves succulents, so he's been by a few times in the last month to pick some plants to bring home with him. Keeps asking me if I care if he takes them. Not only do I not care, they are more his plants than mine. And I'm glad he's taking them... less for me to clear out later.

But right now I'm focused on the back yard. When they were working on the patio cover they kept piling stuff on the grass, so it wasn't getting watered. Then when that was done, Gma was getting sicker, so no one was paying attention to the grass, and it wasn't getting watered. So over time it got really dry and thin. But for the last 3 weeks or so Bobby and I have been watering almost every morning and evening and it's starting to look so much better. We still have some large bare spots, and some crabgrass, but we're working on it.