bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
It’s raining. Has been off and on all afternoon and evening. And it’s glorious!

I love it. Southern California needed it. And it’s even the perfect kind of rain – steady, constant and not too hard for half a day and then back again a few days later for the last week. Exactly what this drought hardened and, in large patches, fire-stripped of all of its protective ground cover, land needs in order to actually absorb the water like normal landscape instead of rejecting it all in a flurry of flooding and mudslides. Ah, California! Blue skies, gorgeous weather but, from time to time, the state will actively try to kill you. ;) But I digress…

So, right. Rain. Lovely, beneficial for all concerned today and adored by me. I was already working from home today, so I got to curl up with my laptop in front of the living room windows with tea and good coffee. I put on Dark Side of the Moon and Minstrel in the Gallery and a lot of Duke Ellington and Miles Davis even though hardly any of that goes together outside of my head because, well, I feel like it all goes with the rain. And I wrote and wrote…okay and I also answered a metric f-ton of email and random requests, so it wasn’t quite as productive a work writing day as it could have been but, even so, projects moved forward and I finished a couple of pieces I’ve been needing to get to, so truly a good day all around.

Then this evening after dinner, I curled back up with the not work laptop to work to meander my way through a little not work writing with a glass of wine, still listening to the rain fall. Today was also just the barest hint of the beginning of Spring Training which, once the games start, is basically the baseball equivalent of coffee from the Heart of Gold – almost, but not quite entirely, unlike… – but it does mean that real season is right around the corner. And the new series of Top Gear starts here on Monday and I have new books. So, this is basically just a run by posting of general contentment. *happy sigh*
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
I’ll admit that my personality leans a lot more toward the cynical side of things than the bright and sunny. A lot, a lot more. I tend to think of this as being practical rather than anything negative and I suppose that speaks volumes. But I don’t usually think that the Universe is just plain out to get me. Not usually. This week and change however? Yeah, this week made me wonder.

So, last week a big scary wildfire more or less ended at our doorstep. It’s Los Angeles. We have so many wildfires here that we’ve named an entire season for them and I do live tucked up in a canyon one highway turn below Angeles Crest Forest, as do many people across the northern border of dozens of cities the entire breadth of LA County. So, while this was our closest call yet, it does happen from time to time and none of this is anything remotely special. Unpleasant, frightening in the moment, but no more than that and our house and 99% of the others are all still standing so, yay!

It follows then that this week started with the aftermath of that unexpected little adventure. Coming home after two days evacuation, the house reeked of smoke because, hey, the hills that end right across the street were still smoking, and looked like it had been ransacked by two people in a twenty-minute frenzy for anything important and easily portable because, well, that’s pretty much what happened.

I was expecting all of that. Unpleasant, yes, but in a weird I’m really fucking grateful kind of way. That I could have dealt with. Unfortunately my poor cat is quite elderly and the shock of the whole thing plus breathing all of the ick in the air was too much and crashed her system. We had to put her to sleep on Tuesday and I just – we weren’t – that was just too much. We only lost her sister in October and she was fine – for sixteen-year old cat definitions of fine – just before the fire and, wow, unexpected and kind of brutal, really.

So that set the tone for a week filled with seemingly nothing but varying degrees of ick, from the anniversary of the death of a very close friend that’s recent enough to still be a pretty raw wound to just the garden variety work level of ick – too much work on my end, too little on his – to the lingering, prickling kind of sad of going through the daily household routine without my usual calico shadow alternately purring and scolding me.

We’ve all been there before and no single piece of it is anything I just can’t handle. Hell, I can even handle all of it at once, I just really, really, didn’t want to. Especially with all of the petty, little stuff mixed in, my week sounds like some sort of early Hollywood serialized melodrama, one too stupid to even be a campy kind of good, so it’s shown in the earliest reel before most of the audience has filed in. It is to the point that, when my tire blew coming home from the office Friday night on particularly bad for this sort of thing stretch of freeway – Naturally! – once I found enough shoulder to pull over to and landed there I just started laughing. Really, Universe?! Really?

But, it’s Saturday so this should all be over now and next week has simply got to be better, right? Thank Bob for a quiet Saturday brunch with my husband and books. And for sangria, lots and lots of sangria. And probably for more wine later, most likely lots and lots of that too. And for a quiet weekend in where nothing more can get us.* Cheers!


*Editor’s Note: Bourbonneat would very much like the Universe to note that her assertion should in no way, shape or form be taken as a challenge. Bourbonneat is already quite thoroughly impressed with the Universe’s powers of messing with her life and requires no further demonstrations of same, thank you very much.
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
Paso Fall Colors 1 - online

Behold, fall colors in California! Granted, yes, per our largely deserved reputation for oddity, these fall colors are in fact in a vineyard, not occurring in more traditional foliage. I took the photo in question last month at one of my favorite vineyards in Paso Robles, far out on the west side. Now, if I had actually remembered to pack my camera for our trip last weekend, I could show you entire fields of harvested grape vines with leaves gone crimson, russet and gold instead of this small beginning. But, still. Fall colors. California. See, we have seasons beyond fire, earthquake, and sunny and 75…though that last one is an awfully nice “season”.

Anyway, it was a lovely weekend in one of my favorite places, but we’re back in town and it’s back to the grind of work now. The wine has all been cataloged and put away and the sum total of the “collection” is, as usual, more than moderately ridiculous. Of course, just recently there was news of a for-sure/possible/maybe/imminent/several years down the line/oh no we’re all doomed!/oh yes, we got better, global wine shortage, so the next time the amount of wine in the house raises eyebrows I’ll just claim that we’re stockpiling in preparation. ;) 

Somehow, I only found out about the Oz and James Big Wine Adventure in California earlier this year. James May, one of my favorite witty, explainers of things, visiting my pet wine region (and the rest of California’s wine country)? How this escaped my attention, I have no idea. But the outcome is that on my last few visits to Paso Robles I’ve had the show fresh in my mind and it is a lot of fun to have the reminder of both how much and how little things have changed. I was also pleased to see that James and Oz visited a few of my favorite vineyards. Eberle is indeed phenomenal and the Anarchy James waxed poetic over at Four Vines (now renamed Cypher, but still run by the same delightfully quirky, incredibly talented guy seen on the show) is an absolutely luscious blend year in and year out – and that vineyard has two newer blends that I like even better! Many of the wineries that were small and inexpensive at the time James and Oz visited the region have grown large or gone boutique – not that that’s a bad thing – and newer wineries have cropped up to fill the small and inexpensive niche. But the overall feel of the region remains the same, quirky, creative and oh so friendly.

Once, trying to explain the difference between California’s more well-known Napa and Sonoma regions and Paso Robles, to a friend, I said that Napa/Sonoma is wine, cheese and trendy tunes, while Paso Robles is wine, street tacos (or something delicious off the winemaker’s grill!) and classic rock. Both are truly lovely, but I’m much more of a Paso girl…and, let me tell you, I would certainly prefer to be back there this week than back at my desk. Pour me another glass of red!
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
…or, rather, one bitters fest coming soon.

Bourbon, a comfy armchair and a sinfully good book, right? Normally I reserve the sinfully good book descriptor for works of fiction, but I do think this one happens to live up to the moniker in a number of different ways.

Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas

Bitters 9781580083591_p0_v1_s600


Part cookbook. Part bartenders’ manual. Part thorough history of a quirky subject. This book offers sinfully good recipes for alcohol, traditionally the most wicked of ingredients ;)  and is truly also a sinfully good read…if, you know, you like lovingly detailed histories of minutiae, which I, for one, absolutely do!

The subject matter also pertains somewhat to Bourbon, so clearly it fits my theme. Because Bourbon neat is truly a lovely thing, but Bourbon used properly in an old school cocktail, heavy on the bitters, or simply Bourbon with bitters, can be even better.

We’re handy do-it-yourselfers in this house. He brews beer. We both cook and bake a lot. I make pickles. He makes jam. So naturally, after pouring over this book, making my own bitters was something I had to try. Bitters require nearly a month of various infusion stages and I am only two weeks in on my first two attempts. But even at this proto bitters stage, both smell absolutely divine. The apple cinnamon is already welcome in my Bourbon any time. Ditto the key lime in my Dark and Stormy. Suffice to say, this book is already a winner and, barring anything unforeseen in the next two weeks, well on its way to becoming a much loved and well used kitchen companion as well.

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January 2015

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