24 May 2010

Wine Racking & A New Garden

A couple days ago I was practically bed ridden because I was so sick. I had spent the morning expelling everything in my bowels and was left with no energy and a very uncomfortable body/stomach the rest of the day. Orson kept me in good company however. Joel was good enough to snap up some happier moments in my day.

Luckily that only last a little over 24 hours and I feel completely better now. I've been sick so much this year that having a 24 hour bug was a piece of cake. I still don't know why I keep getting sick and perhaps going to the doctor would be a helpful thing. Oh well.

Today, after several months of being overdue: I racked our wine! It was a process full of trial and error but luckily I did it while all the fellows were at work so I was able to make as big of a mess as I wanted and error all I wanted. It was messy to say the least.

We started these wines last summer and today I decided I wanted to be productive and finish that part that has been hanging in the back of my mind for several months. Every time I would look over and see the corner table full of wine jugs I would think how we need to rack them but it sounded time consuming and like a big endeavor. And it kind of was. I ended up needing to mop up the floor after I was done but no one ever complains when that happens.

Here are the empty jugs! Each one contains about the amount of liquid as fills four wine bottles. Which was nice to figure out.

I didn't get many in process photos because it was so wet everywhere and I didn't want to mess up my camera. So here are most of the bottles corked (racked) ready to head down to the basement. The red thing in the corner is the bottle corker. It grabs the neck of the bottle and pushes the cork down into the neck. I'm clearly not proficient in using it yet, and/or we bought too big of corks. While they aren't perfect I think it does the trick. We're going to try to do more wine this year (dandelion, salmonberry, elderberry, thimbleberry, more blackberry -- PNW native wines!).

Then I put them in our fantastic basement cellar/closet. Some of the shelves have black walnuts that are drying on them from last fall. We babied those walnuts far more than we really needed to. Maybe I'll tackle cracking those tomorrow.

The three bottles closest to the camera (bottom left) are ginger-lemon champagne. That is a shorter process than wine even though we treated it like wine. Altogether we bottled four ginger-lemon champagnes, 4 peach, 4 blackberry-rosehip, 4 raspberry and 3 plum-cherry wines. (19 bottles of fermented alcohol altogether). They're still not quite finished so I'll reserve the naming of flavors and bodies until I've tasted the finished product. The blackberry-rosehips are the most interesting of the wines, far more complex than the rest of fruit wines. And the champagne tastes like an English garden. Maybe I'll reserve the fluffy abstract descriptions for later.

Also, while I was down in the basement I photographed my studio space which I cleaned up the other day. I disassembled a half finished piece which I intend to put together again later this summer. This piece was taking up lots of space and just making everything look like junk. So I cleaned it up a bit.

Now onto our garden! The onions and garlic and doing wonderfully. I'm just about the "behead" the garlic of their flower shoots (also known as "scapes" in the gourmet food world). I won't be doing this to the onions though because they are specifically topsetting onions which means they put out onion seeds at the top that are actually little bulbs which you can save and replant the following season.

I was finally able to plant all the seeds I'd been wanting to plant -- lots of long germinating fall harvest plants and lots of summer delectables (sweet winter squash, corn, sun flowers, transplanted tomatoes, beans, peas, broccoli, beets, brussels sprouts). We'll see how well they germinate. The weather has been very cool recently and I'm afraid that direct seeding them was perhaps not a smart idea in Oregon. Dumb.

I also planted a patch of space in the front yard that we prepared in the fall. People often times walk by and look perplexedly at our patch since it it in the middle of the grass. I'll admit its a funky patch but hopefully it'll look more normal when there are full bushy plants in there this summer. I'll take pictures when its filled out a little more.

Our apple tree is also doing remarkably well. I thinned the apples as much as I possibly could, the taller branches can be for the birds if they want. Its so full of bouncy ball sized fruits that are getting bigger and bigger by the day!

I can hardly wait for the day when they all get big and delicious. I hope they stay on the tree this year. We have been more actively caring for the tree this year because they do so much better when people actually pay attention to them. Cool. :0) I can't say that our Italian plum is doing nearly as well. I've counted just a scant few. We won't be rolling in plums this year which is a shame. They were so delicious and tart. I suppose you can't have everything.

At any rate, we have some good garden guards that have just been born. They are tiny yellow things right now but later in the summer they will rule the garden and cover much of the space in their webs. We have a really great garden and I'll be the first to say its because of these guys, the lady bugs, the chickens and our cat. They all catch the pests really well and efficiently. It makes me happy that I don't even need to use *organic* pesticides or deterrents, I have free pest control!

19 May 2010

Celebratory Weekend

This last weekend marked the end of the school semester for me and a celebration of my friend Kelley's birthday so to celebrate we went to Seaside, OR and stayed in a cottage. It was really lovely and relaxing after an intense semester and demanding roommates.

But first I will share the end of the semester projects. This is my final piece for my advanced studio thesis class. Sleep Pod #4 to be exact.

I used only raw wool and silk organza. I felted the wool into sheets and then needle felted the sheets together to form the structure (you can this employed in actuality later in this post).

This piece is a documentation of my radishes (there are 30 of varying types and sizes). This was for my Homeland class in which we were instructed to be involved in a 4 x 4' plot of space or to do a community piece. I initially wanted to scatter wild flower seeds along my bike route between my house and school, but I was kindly reminded by my professor that things grow awfully slowly in the Pacific Northwest, due to the long cold spring. So I just watched my already planted radishes and transcribed their process onto paper with ink. Each individual drawing represents a radish in my garden and it shows the progress of each with a series of enlarged lines.

And these are some of the radishes I pulled the next day.

And this is another piece I did for that class. It was in response to reading Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion. In that one of the characters describes the PNW as being suffocatingly green all the time, everywhere you look, which I completely resonate with. I did a hand-pulled linoleum print with green water-soluble ink and underneath the print I hand wrote out each season. This could potentially be a much bigger piece with several more prints made, further pushing the idea of always green.

On to the coast! We got to the cottage in the afternoon on friday and it suited us all pretty well I'd say. Here is Grandma Kelley and Grandpa Brady.

And a happy picture of Joel.

Clara and I then walked to the beach. Here's what the walk looked like.

We started at the house. Its the little one in the middle.

Then this is two houses away, and the entrance to the beach is in between the two houses on the horizon.

Then you walk between those houses and see lovely little sand path in the dune grass.

As you crest the dune you can see the ocean and the beach.

The sand was really warm and the wind made it turn into ripples on the beach.

As I was saying before, Clara and I went to the beach and I installed my Sleep Pod #4. I found three driftwood logs and made holes to sink the poles into. Clara was the lovely documentarian for the majority of these photos.

Photo courtesy of Clara Lee.

I'm thinking of becoming the next Andy Goldsworthy.

This is my version of Rivers and Tides.

I must say I am thoroughly satisfied with how this turned out. Clara was a good sport in helping me carry the heavier log poles and documenting the whole thing.

After we got back we hung around and had dinner. Nick G. barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs (try the housemade all-beef Whole Foods hot dogs -- my and Joel's first since not being vegetarians, delicious!). Most of the weekend was centered around eating, drinking and being merry (or beating Larry if you prefer, or perhaps not). Excuse the poor lighting and white balance...

Clara modeled for us some Grajamas (Grandma + Pajamas = Grajamas) which we all thoroughly enjoyed.

The next morning for breakfast Joel and I made breakfast casserole for everyone.

Then as a team we all walked to the downtown main drag via the beach which was about a mile, not bad at all.

Clara and I walked ahead of everyone so while we waited Clara buried me in the sand, then Kelley came and made me fins and collaboratively, I believe, they made me a very large dick. Which I can't say wasn't thoroughly amusing.

And this is probably the single most embarrassing picture I've ever taken in my entire life. Ecstasy, pain? Who's to know?

Anyways, moving right along. We went into town and found a candy store that had bins and bins of bulk candy and wonderful bottled drinks. I got birch beer which is very similar to root beer but even more delicious. We played the role of tourists very well.

Me, Nick G. and Brady coming out of the candy store.

Then we walked back to the cottage along the beach.

And then sat in the warm grassy sand dunes.

After this Clara, Kelley and I got mats and blankets (even though the sand is warm, the wind is not) and went back out to lie on the beach and nap. In the mean time Brady's friends came to the cottage and started cooking dinner which was truly amazing: thick vegetarian lasagne, barbecued chicken and steak and a salad from their garden (lettuce, water cress and mizuna).

It was just what we needed. Relaxing, no responsibilities, no phones, no computers, and 100% rejuvenating.