7 May 2007

Scherzo in the sun

(More photos in this set available at Flickr.)

On Saturday, C. and I went to a great 5 de Mayo party hosted by the former president of the board of the school he works at. Horticulture is just one of her many talents, and her garden is absolutely amazing. It includes 80 varieties of roses (!), a huge array of succulents, native California plants, and more.

I found myself lamenting the fact that my apartment only has north-facing windows, and so I get no direct sunlight in the winter and only about an hour’s worth per day in the spring and summer, which isn’t enough to really grow anything – except happy cats, it seems! I love that Scherzo has figured out how to take full advantage of whatever morning sun he can get these days.



Vespers, our lovely, fluffy, soft, cuddly, and incredibly LOUD black cat, has an unfortunate habit of sitting outside our closed bedroom door and yowling her fool head off at about a quarter of too early most mornings. She is not begging for food or water, since we feed the cats at night, nor is she clamoring to be let into the bedroom or to be petted — if we open the door and invite her in she’ll sit there and look at us like we’re space aliens, and if we try to play with her she’ll scamper away. She just wants us to be on the same side of the door as she is, which at 5 a.m. is asking a little too much of two night owls who often have work days running from 9 in the morning until 9 or 10 at night.

Keeping the bedroom door open at night is not really a workable solution, since Scherzo, our part-Russian-Blue who is still kittenish at five years old and into absolutely everything, will spend much of the night knocking things off the dresser and generally making a racket. What we really needed to do was to fit Vespers with a snooze button.

Enter our trusty friend and the cats’ worst enemy: the vacuum cleaner. C. hit upon the idea of stationing the vacuum outside the door, running the cord under the bedroom door and plugging it into an extension cord equipped with an on/off switch. When Vespers starts yowling in the morning, he flips the switch on and then quickly off again, causing the vacuum to make just enough noise to startle the cat and get her to abandon her post outside the door. This morning she started sounding reveille again a little while after we “hit snooze,” but it was from somewhere else in the apartment so it wasn’t nearly as difficult to doze through.

Now all we need to do is muffle the bathroom cabinet doors she has figured out how to repeatedly open and (loudly) shut, and Operation Reclaim Sleep will be well underway!

Dinner tonight was a collaboration: pork chops brined with apple cider vinegar and braised in white wine with a white wine reduction (by C.), skillet-roasted Yukon Gold potatoes with thyme, and Brussels sprouts braised with a little water and then sauteéd with toasted pine nuts and minced garlic (by me).

C. opened the Roshambo 2004 Rock Paper Scissors white for the pork braise and reduction, and the rest of the bottle was a perfect accompaniment to both cooking the dinner and eating it. This is an inexpensive table wine that’s great with food – medium-bodied, crisp and accessible, with not too much oak (the way I like my Chardonnays!) and a silky texture. My favorite nuance in this one was green apple. All in all, not a very complex wine, but definitely enjoyable.

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I’m not sure where we picked up this bottle, but it was probably at Whole Foods. I think we decided to try it because we’re enamored of a Syrah rosé that I think is also by Chateau d’Aussières, though I cannot for the life of me find a link. Or maybe we’re completely wrong about that and there is no connection.

Anyway, we opened it tonight to go with a humble meal of leftovers, just the two of us at home with the cats, the type of night on which we’re usually reluctant to open “the good stuff”, or something we’re sentimentally attached to. It’s a Syrah-Grenache-Mourvedre-Carignane blend from the Languedoc-Roussillon region, and deep garnet in color with medium body. My (undereducated) nose is not detecting much in the way of complexity or invitation. The first sip is spicy, tannic and earthy, which I like, but this gives way to a rather unpleasant and overpowering rose-petal potpourri note (I wish I were joking) on the back of the tongue. C. says he gets a yeasty flavor from this, kind of like a Beaujolais Nouveau.

In short, though this wine is far from undrinkable, we probably wouldn’t buy it again. But since someone doesn’t have to be at work until 10 a.m. tomorrow, the lucky SOB, I have a hunch the bottle will get finished.

EDIT: Actually, the bottle didn’t get finished until I finished it the next night. The potpourri-ness was toned down after several hours in a vacuum-stoppered bottle, but I still wouldn’t go out of my way to drink this wine again.

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The scene: Last night, 11 p.m. or so; C. and I are back home after our respective rehearsals; Vespers (the black cat) is zipping back and forth across the apartment making her “I’ll kill you, you helpless plastic toy” noises.

C.: I wonder why their hunting instincts come out when they haven’t been fed yet?
Me: …
C.: …
C.: Oh.

(C. would have you know that he set his own self up for that punchline, but he’s too chicken to comment and tell you himself. Bach bach BEGACH, baby!!)


21 April 2007

Yesterday, 4/20, was my birthday. I opened a couple of great gifts from C. at midnight: the first two books in A Song of Ice and Fire, a series that I want to re-read in its entirety while waiting for the fifth book to be published (come on already, GRRM!), and some pot.

I took the day off work and meant to spend it in dolce far niente. At one point I needed to find a stamp to send a friend a card, but I had no idea where C. had put them during his latest … well, you can’t call them cleaning sprees; they’re more like shoving-stuff-around-before-people-come-over sprees. Not that I blame him – I do the same thing. Clutter in and of itself is OK with me, as long as the stuff is useful and I know where everything is. That was not the case with the stamps, however. I went through the piles I thought they would most likely be in, but no dice.

Frustrated, I was seized with the impulse to do some real cleaning. I attacked the piles and after 2 hours of work ended up throwing out a couple of big kitchen bags’ worth of junk, putting other less junky stuff in the Goodwill stash and some in the Secret Santa regift stash, and re-organizing other items to more appropriate places in the apartment. I also got rid of two bags of styrofoam packing peanuts, otherwise known in this household as devil spawn, and flattened and recycled some empty cardboard boxes. And I still felt like I hadn’t even made a dent.

I spent the rest of the day reacting rather disproportionately to the actual problem – mostly angry and sad that we have accumulated so much useless crap (a subject for another post), and beating up on myself for various things, like not being a better housekeeper, letting this make me sad on my birthday, being so self-critical (no, really), etc.

Several people phoned and I had some lovely catching-up conversations, and then I had a gig in the evening and C. took me out for a great dinner between the warmup and the concert. And I have to say I felt a lot better after that dinner and after singing Handel for 3 hours. But the funky weird depression stuff, even though some can be chalked up to monthly hormonal swings, scares me a little. And it’s just another in a relatively long list of things I complain about and never seem to actually get around to dealing with. Kind of like the useless crap.

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