Friday, May 28, 2010

More Grapes, Please

The next installment of 'why I've been away from the Pahk':
Project 2. Planting Grapes at Energeia Vineyards

We had two planting weekends where we helped our friends John, Regina, James and Lynette plant Albarino grapes at their pear orchard turned vineyard up on Underwood. The young folks at Energeia are pioneers in growing Albarino in the area. They leave their various day jobs in Portland and Husum to plant for their futures.

Unlike some retirees, we don't care to have an estate vineyard for our house wine. We let other people worry about plants, water, disease, weather, equipment, etc. We help them plant and harvest grapes. And join their barrel clubs if they have a winery. It's the neighborly thing to do.

Albarino (or Alvarinho) is a Spanish (Portuguese) white wine grape, presumably brought to Iberia by Cluny monks in the twelfth century.
Its name "Alba-RiƱo" means "the white [wine] from the Rhine" and it has locally been thought to be a Riesling clone originating from the Alsace region of France, although earliest known records of Riesling as a grape variety date from the 15th, rather than the 12th, century.
The first weekend we planted bareroot stock, as we did with last year's gewurtz (shown right). It's kind of like planting roses. Lloyd worked all day, and earned foreman status. I had a county convention to run so did a short 4 hour shift in the late afternoon.

We were rewarded with great burgers, and the requisite bonfire. James had a good stock of his pear cider available. Wonder where he got all the pears?

It was a pretty raw night, so the fire felt good.
Former pear orchards have plenty of wood to burn.
The embers were particularly beautiful.

The second weekend in May we reversed participation. Lloyd was off installing a watering system with Will at Will's brother's in Hood River. Will comes up from CA for these little projects. So I did the Saturday shift and Lloyd did the Sunday shift.

The plants were more fragile nursery starts, so we had to plant them carefully and set up the grow tubes at the same time. It's a little more time consuming than the bare root planting, but you have more time to commune with your grape plant.

The small plant goes into the deep hole, you cover the roots to just below the first node. Then carefully thread the leaves through the tube, stand the tube upright, push the bamboo stick down to secure it in the dirt, pile up the dirt on the sides to keep the plant cool, and finally, make a watering moat. When you're done, move on to the next hole.

The second annual seafood boil was delicious.
Chef Shaffer can always be counted on for good eats.
James' hazlenut home brew and jug of house syrah were excellent potables.

And the bonfire?
It was scary big.

The biggest yet.
Quite hell-acious, if you ask me.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Anatomy of a Fireplace

Here it is the end of May and I've once again let myself get too far away from the Pahk. I looked over the file of photos for May, thinking, what have we been doing for this to happen AGAIN. Like the Red Sox, who started slow but are on a roll, I'm getting back in the groove.

Project 1. The Fireplace- Start date, March 30
Estimated time to completion: 2 weeks max

Step 1. Remove wood stove, and find it a new home. It's a good stove, but Lloyd just doesn't want to mess with wood, smoke, ashes, etc. Heck, he's retired! He'd rather be building stone walls, or skiing, or camping, or organizing a street festival, or designing websites.

Step 2. Frame in where fireplace will go. Include some bonus seating for our small living room.

Step 3. Box in, wire the outside, and basically stucco it.

Step 4. Decide it's way too tall. Cut down, repatch top.

Step 5. Insert super duper energy efficient natural gas stove unit. Hook up gas lines.

Step 6. Face the box with rock, then lay the hearth stones.

Step 7. Get someone to make the mantel. Meanwhile rearrange furniture.

Step 8. Patch the hole in the ceiling left by the stack removal.

Step 8. Get final inspection. Add mantel.

End date: May 15- Things always take longer than you think they will- Murphy's Law in effect.

Was it too warm to use? Heck no, it was cold all the next week. We used it every night!