fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

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…15½ hours later…

Sean, Chris and I are in Duvall, Washington, for the next few days. What a trip getting here! Chris and I departed home about 5:15 a.m., picking up Sean along the way. It was smooth sailing through most of California, but in Dunsmuir hit the weather I had worried about: snow. The rain had begun to show evidence of some mushy-ness a few miles earlier, but there was no evidence on outside of the impending storm. Slowly, it became obvious that snow had been falling for a while as drifts were piled on the side of the highway. Eventually I slowed to about 40 mph. With thoughts of putting on chains drifting through my head, we finally emerged from the fluffy stuff near Weed. We charge ahead, only to be slowed down near the Siskiyou pass, where angry clouds were spitting snow in our path into Oregon. With concentration and the awareness that at least three cars had slid off the road, I drove carefully and in constant fear of other drivers, including that of a tractor trailer rig, who flew past us in the slush. But we made it into Oregon without incident, and were rewarded with blue skies through much of the Beaver State. The remainder of our drive was relatively uneventful, save for the darkness that quickly descended at this higher latitude as we began to negotiate the sometimes narrow and often winding roads towards Duvall. But we made it, tired and a bit hungry, but happy to have made it.

P.S. We woke up this morning to a winter wonderland…perhaps 2½ to 3 inches of light snow.


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…a “merry” little christmas…

In the end, Christmas 2006 seemed to be destined to teach us to appreciate when our little Christmas season goes smoothly…something that I, apparently, have taken for granted for all too many years. It all started with a hectic schedule two weeks before the holiday, as Karen and Adam traveled hundreds of miles – yes, literally hundreds of miles – to various GGBC rehearsals and performances. That, in itself, did start this little snowball from, um, heck. It was the constant exposure to the Petri dish of germs that is called BART. The week before Christmas, both Adam and Karen came down with some sort of cold. Maybe it should be referred to as “The Cold that Stole Christmas.” While Adam recovered relatively rapidly, Karen descended into congestion, a sore throat and various aches and pains. We held on to the hope that she’d recover and only a few of us might head to Christmas Eve dinner. Unfortunately, Karen’s father, our gracious cook and host for Christmas Eve dinner, was admitted to the hospital, where the doctors wanted him to enjoy a turkey dinner and stay through the day after Christmas.

So, rolling with these curveballs (yes, mixing metaphors), Sean and I decided we could head to Christmas mass at 9:00 p.m. instead of trying to stay awake for midnight mass. All was good as mass started with “Joy to the World,” then the opening prayer by the pastor, who introduced his co-celebrant, who then said an opening prayer…in Vietnamese! Sean and I look at each other. But I was there, and by gum, wasn’t going to leave. Thankfully, about half of mass was in English. And it was entertaining as we were visited by “The Christmas Cat,” a feline named Gilbert by the St. Dominic’s School kids, who walked up a side isle, behind the altar, then in front of the alter to sniff at the manger scene.

I guess out travails can’t compare to that of Mary and Joseph. Merry Christmas to all!

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…and GGBC makes the radio…

Driving to work this morning, tooling along the relatively vacant roads (a bonus of the few days before Christmas), when I began to hear bells. No, not entirely isolated to my cranium…it seems that KCBS sent a reporter out to check out the Golden Gate Boys Choir, of which Adam is a part. (See previous post.) As soon as we find out if there is a podcast of this story, I’ll throw it up here. In the meantime, if you can tune into 740 AM, I’m sure that story will be run a few more times this morning, before the performance at 101 California Street in San Francisco.

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adam makes the paper

Adam and the GGBC Bellringers.

Adam and the GGBC Bellringers.

Adam, along with his fellow ringmasters, can be found in a photo in the San Francisco Chronicle today! The photo ran with an article about the Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bellringers’ Christmas season performances. Adam appears almost dead center in the picture above the article (third from the left). He’s been attending the GGBC summer camp for three years and participating with the group for just about as long, and joined the GGBC last year during its trip to Italy.  I’m not quite certain where this photo was taken. 

You can find the article on page twenty in the 96 Hours section or find it online at (You can see a larger version of the picture by clicking on it.)

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for your holiday shopping pleasure

From Dave Barry’s “Christmas Shopping: A Survivor’s Guide”…

On Gifts for Children:

This is easy. You never have to figure out what to get for children, because they will tell you exactly what they want. They spend months and months researching these kinds of things by watching Saturday- morning cartoon-show advertisements. Make sure you get your children exactly what they ask for, even if you disapprove of their choices. If your child thinks he wants Murderous Bob, the Doll with the Face You Can Rip Right Off, you’d better get it. You may be worried that it might help to encourage your child’s antisocial tendencies, but believe me, you have not seen antisocial tendencies until you’ve seen a child who is convinced that he or she did not get the right gift.”

On Gifts for Men:

Men are amused by almost any idiot thing — that is why professional ice hockey is so popular — so buying gifts for them is easy. But you should never buy them clothes. Men believe they already have all the clothes they will ever need, and new ones make them nervous. For example, your average man has 84 ties, but he wears, at most, only three of them. He has learned, through humiliating trial and error, that if he wears any of the other 81 ties, his wife will probably laugh at him (“You’re not going to wear THAT tie with that suit, are you?”). So he has narrowed it down to three safe ties, and has gone several years without being laughed at. If you give him a new tie, he will pretend to like it, but deep inside he will hate you.

If you want to give a man something practical, consider tires. More than once, I would have gladly traded all the gifts I got for a new set of tires.”

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the man in the middle

Last night Sean was awarded the title “Defensive Player of the Year” for the 2006 Benicia Panthers football team for his work in the middle linebacker position.  He was surprised to find out that he was also selected for the 7th annual Vallejo Times-Herald All-Regional team. Next week he’ll be honored at the 7th annual Times-Herald/Vallejo Elks football awards dinner, where first-team athletes from the Solano County Athletic Conference, other conferences and Solano College will be honored.

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wine country wandering

Karen and I had a chance — or more accurately created a chance — to have an aimless day of sorts. Adam had to be in San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall at 9:00 a.m. Sunday for a concert, and after leaving him with the group, wandered off in search of breakfast. Which we promptly found one block down and to the left at The Crepe House. It’s a nice little place, offering crepes, eggs, omelets and your basic breakfast foods. I opted for a cheese, ham and mushroom omelet, which came with pan fried potatoes and thick sourdough toast. Karen splurged on eggs Benedict, accompanied by two “plain” crepes (with lemon, butter and powdered sugar). It was nice to enjoy a hearty breakfast without rushing off.

After a quick stop at the office so I could set up the artificial Christmas tree, we leisurely found our way to Sears Point with the thought of stopping at wineries we typically pass by on our way to others in the more northern Napa or Sonoma valleys. And we were pleasantly surprised at each of the three wineries we visited. (I believe that all three only sell on premises or to restaurants.)

At Roche Carneros, our first stop, we sampled the standard range of wines from the area. The 2005 Carneros Estate Chardonnay is a very good, balanced white. We found the other wines to also be generally good, but I was very impressed with two dessert wines: the 2005 Taramix and the 2005 Late Harvest Merlot. Both are more subtle than most dessert wines, but the late harvest merlot was unlike any wine I have ever tasted. As a blush, a slight presence of tannins works a bit against the sweetness to leave a fresh taste on the tongue. Definitely a great wine for a hot summer day!

Just down the road we entered the long, sweeping driveway to Viansa Winery & Italian Marketplace, which focuses on Italian and was established by Sam and Vicki Sebastiani, with Sam part of the well-known family behind the Sebastiani Vineyard & Winery. It’s quite a view from this winery’s hilltop location. The last half of Viansa’s name truly reflects what we found inside, with Italian foodstuffs and merchandise, as well as a small deli. Generally, the wines were good, but I think we were both very impressed with the 2004 Prindelo, which is a blend of Primitivo, Teroldego and Zinfandel. We also both enjoyed the crsip and clean 2005 Arneis. (Arneis is a reputedly difficult to grow Italian grape, while Primitivo is considered by some to be the ancestor of California’s Zinfandel. Teroldego is a rich red similar to Zinfandel.)

We continued northeast on Hwy 112, intent on heading up Hwy 12 to Sonoma, but before the turnoff spotted a smallish sign touting the funny little Larson Family Winery. I say funny because the first sign along the semi-private and rather rundown road states something like “Winery: .4173485 miles.” Further down the road another old wooden signs warns one to “Beware of Kamikaze squirrels.” This is another small, family-owned place with some surprising wines and hosted by a golden retriever named Buddy. Here you can find the 2004 Wingo White Carneros jug wine sitting alongside to a very nice 2005 Carneros Cuvée Rosé and what I would call an incredible 2003 Meritage. Speaking of rosés — it must have been inevitable that they make a return. But don’t turn your nose up at a rosé without first tasting it…I have very surprised at how good varietal rosés can be. (It’s not your father’s Lancers anymore!)

The rest of our day was fairly relaxed, dropping by Sonoma Jack’s for some cheese and food, visiting a few stores such as Pier 1 Imports for some Christmas goodies, before winding our way home.

P.S. I’m figuring that since we didn’t buy some of the wines that we enjoyed, a return trip will be in order soon!