Life Creeps In

You are currently browsing the archive for the Life Creeps In category.

Once again, I’ve been absent. Just not in me to write a thing about our endeavor. Why? I think the wind got knocked out of me after I detached a bit and read through The Grande Dalles’ five-year vineyard anniversary post. Holy crap. We experienced all that in five years?! Then I found out the universe was under hold of Mercury Retrograde, so that put it all in perspective, my lack of interest,  AND I started reading William Boyd’s Any Human Heart, and am now consumed in my free time to swallow up the next sentence of the fictitious Logan Mountstuart.  I’ve also been putting off Summer’s newsletter; I have a few more weeks until Summer is no longer here, so I should make it. And there you have it.

Instead, I’ve been cultivating my little garden, enjoying my time with Scott and Sam, especially our weekend overnights to the vineyard and trips to the Deschutes River; I’ve been contemplating childcare other than myself for Sam again (it’s time!); what else….we went to the Wasco County Fair mid August, which was a great time, not really sure how our sponsored Demo-derby car did; had some family guests (Scott’s parents), and for the most part, I am enjoying what Summer we are having.

And oh, yes. On a lark and a feeling that someone just ought to know, (about how we used Google Earth to locate our ground) I wrote to Google about our endeavor – I told you all about this. Well, we entranced and inspired the right people, and now things are rolling; we’ve been contacted by Google’s PR firm, Cutline Communications, in San Fran and have just been interviewed by a local newspaper, and we found out we will be featured in a Google Earth marketing campaign, a story they’re highlighting to celebrate Google Earth’s history, set to launch September 28th! Not bad, with Mercury Retrograde and all that.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

That’s what the local print shop guy, Dave, asked me, when I went in to drop off our James Beard Foundation event brochlets (not really a brochure, not really a pamphlet) we’re hauling with for our Thursday James Beard Foundation “Columbia Terroir” event with local chefs Aaron Solley and Suzanne Bozarth from the James John Cafe. I had to think. How was it? “Busy,” was all I could come up with. Here’s what I had been doing:

1. tweaking links and whatnot to connect our website to new e-comm site, hosted by Nexternal. all the nitty gritty. thank goodness for the Nexternal support. my gal Shauna is a dream. and thank goodness i love learning another language. it’s fun, but not when there’s a little 2.5 year-old tugging at you, or sitting on your lap with “wandering, happy keyboard fingers,” if you know what i mean.

2. tweaking design and layout of Columbia Valley Terroir brochure that I essentially wrote and designed. not being trained as a designer doesn’t help me catch the tiny things that are noticeable when printed (margins and stuff), thank goodness i have the software to fix it. but, oh, my shoulders from hunching over my laptop! but the big one was the cover image — we finally settled on something very pretty. you want a sneak peek, you say? well, ok – here you are:

This is the view from our vineyard, with a little photoshopy-shop going on for the grainy texture.

3. saving hummingbirds. ok, not saving them, but making sure my friend’s frozen feeder got replaced with non-frozen syrup, so her little hummers could eat while she was away.

4. getting fitted for an outfit my crazily talented designer friend Yvonne is making for me, specifically for the James Beard event. she and i had a project together some years ago that didn’t take off, and I asked her if she would be interested in starting it again by getting her designs in front of a NY crowd. not that i’m a runway model, and not that squeezing between tables at the snug James Beard foundation constitutes a runway, and not that, oh — well, anyway — there’s been some back and forth and i can’t wait to wear it.

5. going to our POD storage unit  we rented to declutter our little farm house with when trying to sell it (that’s been way over a year now) that we have not yet moved to our new house (a good 1/2 year already), to dig through and find an outfit just in case #4 (see above) fell through. i found some, but they don’t fit anymore. note to self: do something about that mama belly. enough is enough. it’s time.

6. prayed that #4 didn’t fall through since i didn’t have Plan B to fall back on (see #5 above), and had very little time, money or energy to go find an outfit, because clogs and jeans and wool sweaters, my standard portland togs, wouldn’t fare well at an NYC evening event in the West Village.

7. being a solo mama — scott was away on saturday, a drive to seattle to meet with a Masters of Wine residing there– and wasn’t I on pins and needles about THAT. would he like our wine? he LOVED our wine! and then scott was off again on Sunday to the farm, to meet up with a friendly farmer who has an absolute PERFECT smile (you do, Dave!), who was going to do some work for us. it gets too hard to coordinate farming with weather and scott’s full-time work — thankfully Dave has time and is willing to help. so while i’ve got all that going on in the back of my head, sam and i were out at the park, going to Yvonne’s fitting, helping hummingbirds, and taking a nap. ahh.

8. the standard laundry work. does it ever end?

yes, it was a busy weekend and somehow, very invigorating.

How was yours?

Tags: , , , , ,

This question has gone through my mind many, many times over the past 5 years, but never more often than the last few weeks. Financially, we have a lot riding on this. Of course the second vintage is in barrel now, and 2010’s will be shortly, but as the old saying goes, “The first impression is everything.” Right before the 2008 harvest I was at the vineyard with the winemaker who would help me make the wine, and he said that he couldn’t guarantee any specific qualities in the wine seeing it was the first harvest from a new site and so on. My response to him was, “All I care about is when people taste our wine they know that it could only have come from The Grande Dalles and our vineyard.”

I think we’ve captured that in our first vintage, but the problem is it’s not easy to sell something unique, and you can multiply that problem by 10 when it’s coming from someplace new and from “unknown” people. I wonder, should we have made wine more in the vein of what people expect, you know, “yummy,” “jammy,” “inky-purple,” “fruity,”  “unctuous,” etcetera? Would that make it easier to sell? Then I ran across this quote on Vinography from Matt Kramer’s new book Matt Kramer on Wine:

Isn’t taste what fine wine is all about? Nope. You’d think it would be, but it’s not so. Let me push this further: the purpose of fine wine is not to give pleasure, but to give insight. . . . The greatest wines literally mark the land for us. They tell us something about the earth that we could not otherwise know. This is their pleasure, an insight so intrinsic that it endures and repeats itself over generations. Everything else is just, well, taste.

What Matt says is exactly what I’ve thought about wine and our wine for years and years. There are a whole bunch of good tasting wines out there, but in my opinion the ones that show what Matt Kramer calls “somewhereness” are far and few between, particularly those from the US. I know new and unique things are almost always initially viewed with skepticism, I just hope that at some point people “get it” about our wines.

Tags: , , ,

Hat? Check.

Coffee? Check.

Wool socks? Note to self, get some.

Laptop? Check.

Cell phone? Where IS that? Ok – check.

Lots of books to catch up on? Double check.

Toilet paper for public bathroom? Triple check.

Ladies and Gents, I’m back in the Car Office again.

After a fairly short break in real life but like an eternity in web life, I’m right back here at Columbia Park, in north Portland, Oregon, in the car. “Where have you and your Car Office been?” you ask? Well, why don’t I just tell you?


The bird netting is being taken off as we speak! Yoohoooooo! That’s right everyone. We’re gearing up for harvest this week. Boy those grapes are taking their sweet time this year! Have had some recent frost scares, some rain scares, but looking at the forecast for the rest of the week

we’re good to go. Scott says the sangiovese still needs some time, but the riesling, cabernet sauvignon, and tempranillo will be snipped by Friday. I’ll try to wing Sam and myself out there for some live, on the spot reporting…

Now on to me. Ha! Seriously. I’ve enjoyed this time away from writing/blogging and here’s why: When we first planted our vineyard, all our freetime went there. All of it, and boy, did it piss me off when I no longer had the vineyard fever like Scott did. We were down to one car, my old Subaru, my autobahn and mountain baby I had with me when I lived in Germany and week-ended in Switzerland, and then my solace when I returned to the States as solo gal, that old suby my trusty trusty on all my Pacific Northwest adventures. Nope, it had been relegated to the farm car, and we had a vineyard to plant, dammit! Anyway, I didn’t want to feel pulled in two directions again, especially now with Sam in our lives.

Some months’ ago, Sam’s daycare ended, thankfully, not that he had a bad time there, but I didn’t like how the gal tweeted about green sale sweaters and a lot more when she was supposed to be engaging with the kids. Geez, louise! That experience solidified how precious our boy was, and somehow I felt guilty to have put him in that gal’s care. I also finally “heard” the lyrics, when Bert sings to Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins, “…childhood slips like sand through a sieve,” and boy didn’t that tug at my heart. Having just moved into a new house last month (yes, there are loan gods!), I essentially have just been hanging out with our very sweet boy in our new digs, and boy am I happy for it.

But now I’m ready to return to this (it’s time!), and thankfully have found a VERY COOL nanny who comes to our home twice a week, and then I escape. Back in the car office again. Look for more coming soon.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We were out at the farm yesterday and as soon as I got out to open the deer gate was an overwhelming sweet smell of forest-fire smoke. Yesterday there was a fire raging in central Oregon, near Sisters to the south of us, 133 miles (214 km) away; a fire in Walla Walla to the east-northeast of us  (160 miles/257 km) had grown in size, from 4,000 acres to 20,000 (1600 – 8093 hectares) from Friday;  and the wild fires almost due west in Siberia were sweeping across the Russian Federation landscape (mileage could not be calculated on Google Maps) and supposedly their smoke reaching the States on the jet stream. I don’t know what’s happening in California, or if the Montana fires have been maintained, but as much smoke-scented air there was, from wherever it may have come, the day was thankfully under the conditions the most pristine I’ve seen it. Cloudy, but blue sky like from a 3D viewer. And wind. Lots of wind.

Tags: , , , ,

This was written on Sam’s Birthday, two days ago, but due to that day’s party and our Mt. Hood Railroad trip yesterday, it’s getting posted today.

Hip hip hooray! Our little one’s two today! Scott’s just going upstairs to get him from his getting shorter-yet-still-sweet Sam nap, guests to arrive in an hour or so, probably later, knowing this crowd. Backyard is decorated with crepe paper flutters hanging from the apple tree, a birthday toad, and bunch of balloons, and the Mother is just finishing up her version of a Thomas cake.

I’m taking a moment’s rest, for, besides running around with b-day prep, the wine life and other life necessities have crept in. The first one is the new threat of wildfire. It’s been hideously hot here, and now thunder clouds are beginning to accumulate near Mt. Hood, causing a swath of land to be under fire-alert, and our vineyard is in that swath. Lovely.

Then, the marketing aspect — meeting with the designer (the gal I’m swapping my writing with) and web programmer, to find out we need to rethink website to keep costs down and now I’m really under the gun to get all the copy written. ARgh. This following that same morning a sewer scope for the new house we’re trying to get so we can FINALLY get out of this shoebox (I’ll have to share one day, or not, the long story of why the farm prevented us from getting even a much larger house. You can imagine…tax returns showing losses, arsehole banks who caused all this mortgage trouble being bigger arseholes than ever before… you get the picture) — anyway — it’s a lovely small, but larger than this shoe-box home very close to a great 80-some acre forested Portland city park, Pier Park, yet still not in The Dalles or on our land, which is where we want to be. And then somewhere between the scope and the design meeting, a lovely chat with an editor from, where I actually cried recounting the sacrifices for this endeavor. Geez. I thought I had been through all that with my therapist!

But for now, Sam’s two. And we have a party. And the sun is shining, and it’s not as hot as it’s been. As long as the fires don’t come, what a great afternoon lays in store.

Tags: , ,