Thursday, January 31, 2008


A few years ago, I was living up at Mont La Salle in the hills west of Napa. This is the Christian Brother's Property, and I spent a year living there, and working as a maintenance man. One day, after a long draught the brothers were at breakfast and one of the monks looked over and asked the other," Who was that woman Maureen, that you asked us to pray for during the prayers of the faithful?" The other Brother replied," I was praying for More Rain !! not Maureen !! Today, it seems like the rain just keeps coming. It was supposed to be intermittent but the weather report says that it will probably be around for the whole weekend.The Mustard Festival is gearing up, and the crews are putting up the lights and stages for this weekend's event.I will bring my camera and post some shots as soon as they are available.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Who reads this stuff?

Okay, I suspect that this blog is just an exercise in vanity and futility, but I never kept a diary for very long so this is the next best thing. Today, my motor scooter is on my mind. Yesterday I was able to get it started, but I have been needing a new set of rollers and timing belt installed since last October. It is started to concern me because there is a little "play" in the back wheel which makes it shimmy a wee bit. I also had to buy a battery charger and remove the battery for recharging. It was VERY difficult. I finally got it out, but lost a screw and an Allen wrench in the process. They dropped down into the front of the faring and I can't get them out unless the whole faring gets removed. I'm a little flummoxed because I have been on such good terms with the dealer ,and they have been most helpful in the past.I think it may be the manufacturer's fault. Aprilia is an Italian company and I happen to own the only scooter of it's kind in Northern California. Naturally, Revolution Moto wants to secure Original Equipment Manufacturing ( OEM ) parts to support the integrity of the scoot and to keep the bike under warranty. My problem is that I need to find a way to drop the scooter off at Moto Mechanica (the maintenance shop) and get back home to Calistoga, or find a way of entertaining myself for six hours while the scooter is being serviced. This is not what I had in mind when I purchased this machine... I envisioned minimal maintenance and endless hours of scootering.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Start building the Ark

It is so wet outside that we now have been warned of flooding here in this part of the Napa Valley. A few years ago, we had a very distinctive lake across the street in Markham vineyards. Hopefully, it won't be as saturated as it was in the past. My car hasn't got much tread left on the tires and my scooter is down with a battery that needs to be recharged, so I am holding my breath until Spring. Last Monday, I came to the CIA to be interviewed by a fellow named Bob from the History Channel for their show, "Modern Marvels". It seems that they wanted to know more about Brother Timothy's Corkscrew collection which I was only too happy to serve as curator.The show will air on April 4th, so I am going to have my sister TIVO it, because I don't have a Television connection.I must say that I am not an expert on corkscrews, but I probably know more than your average Joe off the street. Luckily, I was able to give fairly decent explanations of the devices as I tried hard not to look at the camera.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mac World 08'

Yesterday, I drove to San Francisco after an appointment with my dentist, Dr. Young. It looks like I am going to have to get a crown replaced, so I opted for gold. After my appointment, I drove south and ended up parking up near my sister's house on 21st street in the City.I brought my camera and sunglasses,as it was a nice day and Mac World is always good for some impromptu shots. The registration line took an inordinate amount of time to get through. Even though I had pre-registered,they couldn't locate my priority code, so I had to fork over 5 more bucks. Last year was $20.- for an exhibits only pass. This year I paid $45.- (( what a rip ! )) The exhibits were so-so, and I've gotten more out of Mac Worlds in the past than I did this one. The highlight for me was finding a VGA adapter for my MacBook (which I got at the Mac Store... not the Moscone Center where the Conference was held ) and finding foam earplugs for my Etymotic earplugs.I think this will be the last year I will attend, unless something extraordinary beckons me to return.Today is the "Worlds of Healthy Flavors" Conference at the Culinary Institute of America. It is busy and I hardly have had time to type this blog.I didn't sleep well last night. My scooter didn't start this morning, and my mechanic doesn't have the new parts I need to service it. This is not a good sign.I will have to pray more about getting really happy where i am in the moment.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Learning Mexican

I met with my neighbor Andre and his wife Devon last night. After some discussion around a cup of coffee,we decided that we could help each other learn each other's respective languages. The game plan as it stands now,is to write a paragraph each week and have the other critique what has been written.Andre understands and can communicate much better than his wife,Devon. However, she is going to be practicing just as much as he, and will be testing as he grapples with the finer points of the language.We both have Spanish/English dictionaries, so it'll be a hoot seeing what the other comes up with; It has been established that we will write about our experience during the week,and submit to the other what we have written every Tuesday. We shook hands on it.No fair copy and pasting anything. This is a gentleman's agreement. We shall see how it turns out.Today I read what I had written to someone who is bilingual and this person told me that what I had written was understandable, even if I got the tenses mixed up.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Kris moves on...

Today the clouds came and filled the sky with a dark pallor. The blustery winds kicked up and blew dirt and leaves all over the main entrance to the building. Many folks still came in to see if the store was open as I sat and drew pictures most of the day. At one point, the palm trees were swaying back and forth outside as the rain began coming down in almost vertical sheets. We have learned that our buddy Kris is leaving. This was quite unexpected. Now it looks like no one is making use of the umbrella stand I put out by the main entrance. Chef Andrew made some split pea soup for lunch at the De Baun for anyone dropping by for a hot bowl. Upstairs, Carmello made roast chicken for the rest of the skeleton staff. The maintenance guys from Sodexho were busy the whole day taking down the Christmas decorations, putting in new flooring, and mopping up a pipe that burst near the Campus Store. All in all, it was a long miserable day for them. I was happy that the day went by quickly. Two more storms like this are on their way for tonight , tomorrow and Saturday. Flooding is anticipated, and snow will be falling down around 3000 feet. It saddens me that our special agent Kris's last day (Kris Christopherson from purchasing )will be on Sunday. He is a great guy, and will be sorely missed. Fortunately, He has found a position at Osprey Sea foods, which should be a good fit for him. He is a dedicated and inspired individual, and I wish him all the best as he leaves the CIA.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

How's O8'

It is already early into 2008 and I've accomplished an early goal.I drove with my friend Dave to San Francisco to run with the Dolphin South End Runners across the Golden Gate Bridge. Yes, it was freezing cold and windy ... but ENVIGORATING !! Dave was ahead of me most of the way, but I caught up to him at the finish. All in all, we covered about four miles. Two over and two back. Afterwards we drove to the Embarcadero to meet up with my old running buddy, Dan McGill. He is now 81 years of age,and lives alone in a high rise on Battery Street. After buzzing us into his building, we visited his apartment to change clothes before heading down to the Hyatt Regency for breakfast. Sandy Olsen, who is also a dear friend, met us in the Atrium. I ordered Eggs Benedict while the others ordered a variety of dishes like waffles, omelets and the like. We sat and chatted over copious amounts of Coffee, this was long after we had eaten all of our food. As we parted ways, I remarked how pretty Sandy looked, and how well we have aged. Dave and I walked with Dan back to his place before heading back north to the Wine Country.That evening, we went to see the movie, "Atonement" which was in my opinion, a movie that is trying too hard to be an Oscar contender.It has wonderful cinematography, an interesting (and I use that term, diplomatically) screenplay,but tended to be drawn-out and over-produced.If it gets nominated for even two oscars, I will be suprised.