Monday, December 14, 2009

The Sparrow

Brittian first mentioned this book to me. Mind you, he mentions an awful lot of books to me. Second, I believe I heard the author (Mary Doria Russell) on Speaking of Faith on NPR. After borrowing the book and thumbing through the first first 3o pages or so over the course of a few weeks, I finally was hooked.

I don't know when it happened, but I dropped all other readings and was suddenly and totally engulfed in this story of a Jesuit priest on a mission to make first contact with aliens. Weird, right? But knowing that my own journey in and out of faith and doubt was at least somewhat similar, I felt deeply connected to several characters in the book.

I'm not going to tell you the plot or describe the characters. If you wanna read the book, pick it up. You won't regret it.

But there is a passage toward the end of the book that really resonated with me and I thought that I would share that. It's something the main character (Emilio) of the book is saying, considering his trip to this new planet and all his experiences, both beautiful and horrific (to say the least).

"You see, [this] is my dilemma: ...if I was led by God to love God, step by step, as it seemed, if I accept that the beauty and the rapture were real and true, then the rest of it was God's will too... But if I am simply a deluded ape who took a lot of old folktales far too seriously, then I brought all this on myself... The problem with atheism, I find, under these that I have no one to despise but myself. If, however, I choose to believe that God is vicious, then at least I have the solace of hating God."

Powerful. The issue of God's agency in the world, especially in terms of dealing with pain/evil, is not a light topic. And I feel that Russell dealt with theodicy in a fairly thoughtful way. One that, at least to me, met me where I'm at.

What good is God for? is the question that persists. Personally, I wouldn't label myself athiest, but I really don't know that the existence of God matters much to me anymore. What difference would it make?

Keep in mind, I'm not saying that I have not been deeply formed by a tradition that holds God's very existence at it's center. I am stating where I'm at now.

I can hear the barrage of potential questions and flaming exhortations that could come in response to this post, and I'm fine with that. But I really wonder why this is such a delicate subject to approach.

My holiday gift :) to you are these questions to ponder...

What if there is no God?

Would it really change your life drastically? Are you certain?

And what does that say about you? About us?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

ML -The Barrel is Bleeding!

Well, a quick update...

The wine is really coming along. We blended about 2 1/2 gallons of our Petit Sirah into the barrel. We had tried a test blend and loved it, so we took the next step. We wanted the PS to have some time in the barrel to get some breathe-time.

Even at this point the flavor profile is quite complex. We are hoping the oak and fruit flavors will come more into balance. The mouthfeel is viscous and has velvety tannis already. We aimed not to press too hard on those seeds.

I am trying to keep the temp of the room around 70-75' as to promote healthy secondary fermentation. But it's difficult being that it's in the 30s at night here!

The plan is still to bottle in Fall or Winter 2010.

Still not sure if we will fine or filter the wine. We want to make sure it's of highest quality, so we'll figure that in the months to come.

Stay tuned!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Grapevines as Metaphor for Life Development

There can be no denying that the vine reacts in a similar way to humans in relation to performance: the best results are obtained when subjected to a certain degree of stress. The idle and cosseted person merely gets fat and rarely produces anything of interest and, similarly, the vine in rich soil yields much foliage and fat grapes, which produce dull wine. In well-drained poor soil the vine is forced to develop a large root system which penetrates deep into the sub-soil in search of moisture and nutrition, and in so doing it picks up an abundance of minerals that find their way into the grapes.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Where Do We Go From Here?

...The Words Are Coming Out All Weird.
Where Are You Now That I Need You?

(from Radiohead...if you didn't know)

I think this is a huge question facing most people (especially those living in post-modern societies) today. It might be a question that defines so many of our divides and poses the greatest anxiety we, the emerging world, generally feel.

Most of us can see that we're in a mess of some sort. We can all acknowledge that there is pain, hardship, unfairness, inequality and other such things in our world. We can look back and say that some of the decisions we made collectively and personally have led to this point...whether we point the finger out or in. And most of us do both on some level.

But where do we go from here? How do we "get out of this mess" if we can agree that we are in one? Even if you don't think things are so bad, you still would agree that the questions How do we continue? How do we progress? are crucial questions.

There are, of course, several answers to these questions. Trillions upon trillions of paths and possibilities, both personal and communal.

The answer to Where? often comes with a corresponding Says Who? (sometimes cleverly disguised as Why?). And there might also be the corresponding contextual question In what situation?. This is important to recognize. Authority is the issue I was attempting to wrestle with in my There Is No King post. I understand that I was, in some ways, suggesting a new locus of authority that made some folks very uncomfortable.

Months back I posted that I believed that values are arbitrary and contextual. I was trying to address the ideas that we have about the Out There. I'd like to quote from one of my favorite books, Oh, The Places You'll Go,

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

It's no big leap to assume that most of us are waiting on something/someone. And by waiting, I mean yielding authority to, waiting for the Out There to take us somewhere. Where Are You Now That I Need You?, the lyrics say. I need You.

Is there any way to pull ourselves away for some sort of objectivism on this matter? Can we observe why we choose to do what we do? I mean, really why. Not "because it says..." or "because he...". And why do we respond the way we respond? Why do we feel aligned with certain ideas or groups? Where does our hurt truly comes from? Why do we so badly need the Out There?

Listen, I'm not suggesting that we have to give up our Out There, whether it be a religious tradition, political party, neighborhood ethic, family story, whatever. I'm just saying we should call it for what it is and recognize that we choose it on some level. We are the givers of meaning. We give authority to the story, asking that it give us meaning back. But the real authority is right here.

So where do we go from here? I hardly know. Well, I have some ideas, but those forms aren't nearly as important to me as how we interact with forms, these inevitable disposable forms.

On we trudge/gallop/run/glide/dance/breathe.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


It was great to have Adam and Robyn join us this weekend up here in Portland. It was a weekend filled with yummy food (both in and out), cellared wine, and great conversation.

The weather was damn near perfect: Cold and crisp, bright and clear.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Mind and Health

I'm continuing to read Tolle's A NEW EARTH. And it continues to hit me right where I'm at. It reminds me a good deal of what Friedmann said in A FAILURE OF NERVE and what DeMello is talking about in AWARENESS.

I just began the chapter that deals with emotions and the mind, and I thought I'd share a bit from the book...

Although the body is very intelligent, it cannot tell the difference between an actual situation and a thought. It reacts to every thought as if it were a reality. It doesn't know it is just a thought. To the body, a worrisome, fearful thought means "I am in danger," and it responds accordingly, even though you might be lying in a warm and comfortable bed at night. The heart beats faster, muscles contract, breathing becomes rapid. There is a buildup of energy, but since the danger is only a mental fiction, the energy has no outlet. Part of it is fed back to the mind and generates even more anxious thought. The rest of the energy turns toxic and interferes with the harmonious functioning of the body.

[We] are beginning to recognize the connection between negative emotional states and physical disease. An emotion that does harm to the body also infects the people you come into contact with and indirectly, through a process of chain reaction, countless others you never meet.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Well There It Is

Unbelievably smart and sad to me...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Get your Groupon

If you live in one of these cities...

...then please sign up for Groupon. It's a killer deal where you buy "coupons" with scores of other folks. Like paying $15 for a $35 gift card to your favorite restaurant in town. And it's a different Groupon for sale each day.

And if you sign up below, it gets me a small kickback, so what are you waiting for? It costs nothing to sign up!

So seriously, sign up.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Remy Sharp!

Arriving in at 9.5 lbs at 4:04am today.

Follow him at...

Friday, November 06, 2009

Oregonian Vino

Dan and I had the chance to do some tasting at the Southern Oregon Wine Association's "gala" last Sunday. It was a nice chance to meet some winemakers and try some local-ish wines...and all for free because I sorta "won" the tickets.

Most people don't realize that Oregon isn't just home to world-class Pinot Noir. In fact, southern Oregon is better suited (as is eastern Washington) to warm-climate grapes like the great Bordeaux varietals and some of California's favorites like Zin and Syrah as well.

Below is the review I wrote. It's mirrored here on the Oregon Wine Blog. Enjoy...

Last Sunday was the perfect day for tasting the wines of Southern Oregon. The rain let up for a bit, making the crossing of the river from SE to SW beautiful and clear. It's a wonderful thing to taste wine from southern Oregon...and even more wonderful when it's brought to my town.

We entered the Governor Hotel and quickly assessed that we were the only 2 people under age 40. Not that there's anything wrong with people 40 and over, but I am constantly amazed at the lack of under-40-ers that show up to these things. All my friends drink wine, and they're mostly in their 20s and 30s. Hmm.

We picked up the tasting guide, surveyed the room, and chose the wineries we'd taste from. It seemed that spending time with just a handful of the wineries present allowed us to actually hear a bit about the different winemaking decisions, vineyard practices, and visions for each bottle of wine poured.

It was enlightening. And discouraging. All at the same time.

Parts of southern Oregon seem quite suitable for Rhone varietals, so many folks had planted Syrah and Viognier. One winery had also planted Marsanne and Rousanne. There were the usual suspects as well...Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Tempranillo. And there were some slightly more obscure varietals like Petit Sirah (obscure for Oregon), Cab Franc, Albariño, and Dolcetto.

Misty Oaks '07 Cabernet Franc was a solid and inky. They were pouring it, but not selling it. D'oh!

Agate Ridge served up a nice, smoky '06 Syrah. It had a very sweet nose, perhaps from the barrel. Nice medium body and delicate finish. Their whites (Viognier and Marsanne/Rousanne) were reminiscent of the buttery Chardonnays that I don't particularly care for. It probably had a bit to do their barrel-fermentation and the grapes general lack of acid.

Folin Cellars poured out of bottles with glass stoppers. It was fun to get an earful about cork taint! Their '06 Estate Tempranillo was yummy. Nice structure, tons of tannis to stick to your teeth, not as acidic as many Tempranillos. I bet you could cellar this for a few years and find yourself with a gem of a wine!

The '04 Pinot Noir from Henry Estate Winery was dead-on cherry cola. A little vanilla and black pepper as well. Probably our favorite Pinot for the event. The years in the bottle had really allowed the wine to soften and settle. Quite a treat at $30!

Spangler Vineyard's Petit Sirah is always solid. The '06 (which they were out of) blew us away in the past. It was nice to get acquainted with their '07. Lots of white pepper and a surprising amount of fruit for this varietal.

The Dolcetto from Palotai Vineyard & Winery was light and spicy. I bet it'll be a hot commodity for Thanksgiving this year.

Pebblestone Cellars seemed to be the only winery represented using Viognier in their Syrah. The co-ferment the dark Syrah with about 3% Viognier to make the color even richer. The complexity of the color compounds increases when these ferment together. This is an old French secret.

But the big surprise was the Giradet Wine Cellars' Baco Noir. Never heard of it? Neither had we. Full of bacon fat (hold the grease) and blueberry jam, with a long, chocolaty finish, this was my wine of choice. Apparently they smuggled this hybrid grape in years back. And they seem to be the only vineyard growing it in Oregon.

All in all, it was a fun time. I'm excited to see how these wineries and vineyards continue to evolve and experiment. I remember one winemaker saying, "Yah, we tried this or that idea a few years back and then tweaked it the following year." I like hearing stuff like that. People who are still up for some risk-taking, even if it means creating something less-than for one vintage. It keeps things interesting!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Enneagram Type 3

Well, while I don't want to limit people by typing them, the enneagram does do a good job at categorizing people. My friend Dustin is suspicious of such things, and I'd tend to agree with him in this: If you can develop a system with types/categories, then you can prejudge people unfairly. It also can be unhelpful in that it can cause you to dismiss people based on a few unshared interests/tendancies. We confuse Reality with our categories for understanding reality.

Still, I find the enneagram to be quite helpful. I don't trust it as How the Universe Works, but rather (as Wilber would say), a map to the Kosmos.

Anyway, I am a 3 with a 4 wing. Holly is a 2. Reading up on types and how they interact really has helped us in several ways. Here's a little rundown of how 2s and 3s work together.

There is a particular way that this pairing works as a team: Twos like to put the spotlight on others, and Threes like to be in the spotlight. Twos like to be the power behind the throne, and Threes can be happy being the point person for the couple. As long as healthy Threes appreciate the lavish attention of the Two, this arrangement can work well. In a sense, this is almost an ideal political couple—socially adept, energetic, virtually radiating charm and self-confidence, inviting others (by their manner and attractiveness) to join them in some way. Twos and Threes can be dazzling—a couple so widely admired and socially gifted that they become icons for their social sphere and time. More...

We learned of the enneagram several years ago from some friends in Minneapolis, MN. At that time, I wondered if I was an 8...but all these years later, I realize it was my 3-self wanting to be an 8 (like many of my mentors).

I have found the enneagram to be very helpful and would suggest you take a look at it. There is a test (which sometimes can work), but what I find most helpful is to read through each type's basic desire and fear and place yourself. Enneagram Institute and 9types both seem to be good resources for this such thing.

I think this sort of thing is fun if not taken too seriously. In so many ways, I am all of the types. And in so many ways, the enneagram has my number (really). Enjoy!

PS - Here's a table below that's worth checking'll need to click on it.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

There Is No King

Holly and I loved WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. It was emotionally moving, visually stimulating and well-written. I've gotta say Dave Eggers is a new force to be reckoned within the screenwriting world. Did you see AWAY WE GO? Wow.

There are so many beautiful psychological issues that are brought up in this film. And it's all done in a quite un-cliché sort of way. The frustrations of childhood, nearing adolescence, split home, parents dating again, sibling rivalry and exclusion. Stuff that most of us deal with in our later life as well. Perhaps our childhood is hyperbolic of what the rest of life will be like...I dunno.

There is a scene where Carol (the monster that, in some ways, represents Max's father) realizes that Max isn't really a king; he's only been pretending. And it just destroys Carol. He had been waiting and waiting and waiting for a real king. Someone to make sense of it all. Someone external to himself that would bring happiness, stability, sanity, hope. There had been several "false" kings who had come before Max (and met unfortunate fates), and they had left this group in a sort of constant existential turmoil, wondering what to do and how to live. This island is characterized by the confusion of a group in need of a leader...a group that refuses to turn inward to find it's own center.

"There is no king," the characters say. It's heartbreaking to watch Carol go through grieving process of this realization. But it seemed the only way to freedom...and the only way to have a healthy relationship with Max...or anyone.

Of all that the movie offered, that is what resonated most with me. I see so many of us scrambling to find signposts for how to live, what to do, where to go, etc. So, so, so many people externalize, not trusting themselves to find their own center. We use religious figures, political affiliations, authors, partners/spouses, careers, even celebrities to tell us where to go and what to do. But, of course, we hear all their words through our own filter, both personally and communally (which has layer upon layer).

What if we were to actually trust ourselves? And why do so few of us do this? We have been taught to trust only things that are "out there." We have built theological systems based on the smallness of myself. We disguise that in so-called humility when really, most of it is about a dis/mis-trust of self. We don't even know how to listen to ourselves very well. We busy our minds and bodies with things to do, studying the words, thoughts, actions of historical and contemporary figures.

Sure, sure, we do not come to realize ourselves alone. But still we are the only ones who can change ourselves. I am the only one who can change myself.

LET YOUR LIFE SPEAK (by Parker Palmer) was such a powerful book for me because it told me that it was okay to trust myself, even when I follow it into the dark places that I was taught to fear. That only by going deep into one's own self (psychosis, passion, leanings, etc.) can one free oneself.

I think this might be one of the greatest obstacles to human (social, spiritual, economic, educational, etc.) development. But the overcoming of this obstacle might just be the key to freedom.

There is no king. Deal with it.

Holly in GENERATE Magazine

Some of you have already seen it, but we just got our last week and were very happy to see Holly's art featured so prominently. Some snapshots...

Really cool to see her new pieces in print like this. Thanks to all the great folks (Mak, Tim, and Paul "Best Designer We Know" Soupiset) for putting this together. Breath-taking.

Subscribe here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Evolve or Die

Probably the two most spiritually influential books for me over the last few years have been Ken Wilbur's A THEORY OF EVERYTHING and Edwin Friedman's A FAILURE OF NERVE. These books have given words to feelings I have had. They also took me further than I could go on my own.

These books are quite different, but they have a common thread: They both base their hypotheses on evolutionary theories. Their assumption is that creation is going SOMEWHERE. Wilbur uses spiral dynamics as well as his 4-quadrant approach to get this across. Friedman uses evidence from how our survival instincts have caused us to bond together (or remain separate and distinct) only when it is useful on an evolutionary level.

At Brittian's suggestion (and by the persuasion of Krista Tippet's SPEAKING OF FAITH podcast), I am reading Eckhart Tolle's A NEW EARTH. I am really only into the first chapter, but I already vibe with a good deal of his assumptions about how the world works and where we find ourselves.

His theory is also based on the idea that humanity is at a crucial moment of evolution. And it is, again for me, very compelling. He primarily seems to be pointing toward a more inner type of evolution (inner in both a personal and communal sense...the two "interior quadrants" Wilbur would say). Perhaps he'll broaden this to a larger internal-external, 4-quadrant approach by the end of the book, we'll see.

Brittian and I had a short conversation via text yesterday about this idea of "Evolve or Die!" which is a sort of slogan that you tend to hear in some of the more progressive/liberal/environmentalist circles. Tolle points to the idea that (as many evolutionary theorists would agree with) we came from the water. At some point along the way, some creature climbed out of the water...and slowly, over the course of a good deal of time, land-based animals began to appear. But the fact that Brittian brought up is that we still have fish and reptiles (that never became birds) and other "lower species" as I've heard them called.

And I wonder what this means regarding the greater global consciousness. Must we all evolve? Wilbur offers a comforting (for me) way to look at this...through spiral dynamics...which while moving on a sort of linear path, it doesn't assume hierarchy, but rather a holarchy. But what would it mean if most of the leading edge of "progression" in this world was to happen in the West? Brittian and I both had a sort of visceral response in opposition to that idea...for why would WE be the ones? We, the people of violence, massacre, atom bombs, etc?

Truly a good many of us have felt a good deal of guilt about our place as privileged, white, American, European, whatever equals powerful people. We have been ashamed, questioned our assumptions about identity, reframed historic figures to speak out against us (as some sort of penance), and generally felt lower than humble.

But then I thought of Mandela's oft-quoted comment, "Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure." And I think that we are afraid that WE REALLY ARE THE ONES. It seems arrogant, ridiculous, and downright awful. After all, hasn't this mentality been the thing that has fueled the likes of Manifest Destiny?

But perhaps we (certainly me) have thrown the baby out with the bathwater a few too many times. And this is where Friedman was helpful for me. Getting over our desire to do everything "right" and instead aiming for the good...for a fucking decision at all! I mean, how many of us are stuck, wondering, weighing the options, waiting for some ridiculous notion of external confirmation (how many times have I groaned while hearing, "I'm waiting for God to show me what to do."). Bogus! We have failed to listen to our own selves, to believe in ourselves.

"Your playing small does not serve the world," says Mandela. And perhaps he's right.

I think we stand in a great moment in history. And perhaps I'm wrong. But I do think that we have this opportunity ahead of us. And perhaps this opportunity is not available to all people in all cultures at all times (something that in the past would have discouraged me from thinking some of these thoughts). But perhaps it is available to some of us.

What do we do with that? I'm gonna read on with Tolle and see what he has to say.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Reflections on WineMaking

Here are some photos Holly and Bethany took along the way...I'll post them every once in a while.

We'll start with cleaning and crush. We rented a big ole crusher-destemmer from the local brew shop to help us process the 1/2 ton of grapes we got. The machine takes the stems out and lightly crushes the grapes. In ancient times (and still today in some circles), people actually do stomp these with their feet. We were happy to let technology work for us. :)

I brewed up my FreshHop Pale Ale for the occasion. We all drank our share that evening, finishing off about 4 of the 5 gallons in that keg. Mmm.

I think it'd be worth it to click on the images to get them bigger!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Press Cycle: Syrah


Sent from the future.

To reach me in the present, call me at 503.662.2120 or email me at
or visit me online at

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I must say that I was so disappointed this year for Sept to roll
around and for Zupan's/Meyer not to carry this fine beverage. What

After some searching, I found some at the Meyer in Hollywood. Thank G
as my sis says.

HopTrip is a real treat. And it's only available for about 1-2 months
each fall. Made from wet hops (or fresh, undried hops), it is the
smoothest Pale Ale you've had. This is the beer I modeled my last
batch after.

So happy it's here. And happy to be drinking it this evening.

Ahh Autumn

My favorite time of year.

Monday, October 05, 2009


The wine is in the barrel, so today is the day to innoculate te wine
with Malo Lactic Bacteria. This is also called secondary fermentation.
In contrast to primary, where yeasts convert sugars to co2 and
alcohol, secondary is the act of converting malic acid (think apple
tartness) to lactic acid. This makes for a smoother feeling and
tasting wine.

In addition to getting secondary going, today we start stirring the
lees (the sediment at the bottom of the barrel...mainly spent yeasts).
For this we have a plastic/steel stirrer that we attach to a low-speed
power drill.

We will keep the temp around 70' and hope to see bubbles soon!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Racking to Barrel

Yes, yes, it is a little sooner than we had anticipated, but we
thought it best to transfer earlier.

The barrel smells sweet and the time is right. Here goes...

Friday, October 02, 2009


Well, we pressed this morning. Pics to come. Got about 73 gallons or
so. We will lose as much as 10 gallons along the way due to racking
and evaporation. And then we will also end up with 3 gallons of Petit

What a fun, wet day. And here are our spoils to enjoy right now. An
extra few liters. Yum.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Time to Press

Brix count is below zero. It is a good time to press. Tomorrow AM.


Enjoy this old tune...

Wake up again, the gentle leaves are falling
Wake up again, the wind has blown me through
Another night of impatient waiting for you...

Consider getting someone some music from The Cobalt Season through our website. And celebrate fall!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Work Today

Drove with Chris to Dundee to get some Pinot samples.


Dan is one of the partners in this fermentation venture. Here's us
pouring the Petit Sirah must into a carboy for settling. It was just
at 5 brix (% sugar), so it'll keep fermenting for a bit. Transfering
before complete dryness ensures a good co2 environment. It's gonna be
a tasty beast!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hydrometer Tests

We try to check the sugar percentage each day or so to see how the
fermentation is coming along. The lowest count is 3% in one bin and
the highest is 12% in the bin that we cold soaked for 3 days.

Adam gets in town Thursday night and we are scheduled to press on
Friday morning. Should be fun.

Friday, September 25, 2009


So to homebrewers this probably looks like racking. Which it is. But
with fermenting musts, it's called Delestage. It's the slow process of
draining the juice and then returning it so as to oxygenate the must.

2 of our 5 bins are producing a lot of H2S which smells like eggs.
Yum. No big. But time to address the prob.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


3-4 times a day, Dan and I take sugar and temperature readings to see
how fermentation is going. We also stick our arms in and remix the
juice and skins/seeds. Because fermentation creates co2, it's bubbles
push the solids to the top. Punchdown mixes everything back together
so we can hopefully achieve a properly extracted Zin.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cold Soak

We are cold soaking one of the batches. This means getting the
temperature below 50' for a few days so as to inhibit fermentation and
allow time to sit and extract certain flavor and mouthfeel elements.

We tried to simply use ice in bags but eventually we stepped up and
bought dry ice. Hence the witch's brew!


Here are the four yeast strains we are using.

I, Chemist

Brix seem to be very high...27.5'. We will probably need to add water
and acid to bring it all into balance.

Greatness in Wait

It all is still. Bins washed. Grapes turned into juice. 1 of 5 cold
soaking. Another 1 of 5 a fortunate bunch of Petit Sirah. Tomorrow I
aim to collaborate with the yeast after making some measurements.
Tonight we all sleep. Much work to be done. Much work to be done.

A great evening with friends. A great wine awaits us 18 months from now.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Deed is Done

The Stage is Set

Now we wait for the delivery of the grapes. 9pm estimate. Should be
followed by 1-2 solid hours of work and drinking.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nicest Spam I've Ever Received

Got this in my inbox this morning. No link to click on, no banner, and the website seems invalid anyway. Well, how do you like that? [Said like Ed Norton in Death to Smoochy]

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Images/Art Dealing With Community

Think in a broad sense here. Community could mean people, bacteria, plants, etc.

We're working on the latest CONSP!RE and the artwork I'd love to curate would deal with community on a sort of subversive level. If you have anything you think we should check out or anything that you'd like to submit, please do email me here ASAP.


Monday, September 07, 2009

Thom Yorke Ain't Got Nothin' on Me

Well, he might, but I can pull off his do without seeming like a crazy

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Here are some hops I found laying in the middle of the road on the way to the winery the other day. They grow in vines and this is almost a whole mature vine. Basically a crapload of hops.

Thinking of making an IPA with fresh hops.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

(non) Hiatus

It's been a stellar summer. Wow. It's just been non-stop.

Since we returned from our European odyssey, we have had different folks staying with us almost every day. I bet we've had a combined 20 days of time "to ourselves" since we've been back...and we got back more than 4 months ago! It's been wonderful, having people from all over the world and all across the nation staying with us. We love sharing our life, our space, and our experiences with those we are connected to.

But we're tired. And we're generally ready for summer to wrap up and send us into the calm of autumn, where kids are back to school (and Pax will most likely start pre-school about 3 blocks from here) and lives are "back to normal." Of course, what is normal?

There are weeds to be weeded, fruit to be picked, neighbors to reconnect with, wine to be made, and a baby to be birthed.

But before we enter this next season, perhaps some reflection on what our summer was like...

We (Brittian, Holly and I) hosted 3 HOMESPUN house shows. Each one was amazing and wonderful. We had between 50-80 people at each show. And everyone seemed to have a good time, squeezed into our downstairs and listening to great music while drinking my homebrew. The Cobalt Season even played some songs for the second show. It was great to play music with Holly and Daniel again. And yes, Daniel Dixon relocated to Portland and got a house with Amos.

Dan and Bethany moved up here and are now renting our basement apartment. That has been so wonderful. They are dear friends and love Pax so much. It's great having them around.

I took a part-time job at a winery (thanks to a Craigslist forward from Joel Brady) near Salem (about 1 hour from here). I help them out, pouring and selling wine 2 days a week at local farmer's markets...and by spending a day a week at the winery, assisting however I can...washing barrels, transferring wine, tasting, blending, making chemical solutions, etc. It's been a great fit. Arcane Cellars is a small-batch family-owned winery and each of us there (only about 4) kinda do everything. It's been great to be in the mix.

We re-launched SharpSeven and continue to try to get the word out about our services.

Holly continues to be more and more pregnant. The baby should be here any day...well, he should be here in another 2 months. Don't tell her that's a long time! We're expecting Remy (the name we've settled on) in early November or perhaps even late October.

Dan, Adam and I are making a batch of wine this fall. I secured a 1/2 ton of grapes from eastern WA, piggybacking on the order of a winery. Grapes should arrive later this month and fermentation will begin. I'm geeking out on different yeast strains (we'll use 4 in total) and oak barrels (I got one from our winery that was neutral and took it to a cooper to have it shaved out and re-toasted). Gonna be epic!

The garden did well and we had a great summertime harvest. Several tomatoes still ripening. Soon our figs will be ready, and the pears continue to ripen and drop. I have loved all the green, but now I look forward to a blank slate in the back. Time to lay some compost and add some wood chips around the house to suppress the weeds.

I have been writing some music and doing a few interviews here and there. Perhaps we'll work on a new album in 2010. Not sure what to call it...perhaps Space Odyssey? Or would that be The Year We Make Contact?

Life here is more complex and rich than I could have expected. We're only about 2 weeks away from our 1-year anniversary of moving in. We feel very connected, loved, and busy as hell.

On the point of busy-ness or business, SharpSeven has had a fairly slow year. That has been both good and bad. Not making money is seldom good, but luckily the winery job has helped supplement some income. Our regular clients have been our lifeblood this year. I am grateful for that. So grateful. (And, of course, friends renting space from us is sort of a double-bonus.) But seriously, if you're in need of some design work, please visit our website or email us or give us a call.

I think Holly and I are both looking forward to the cooling of the temperatures and the shortening of the days, the falling of the leaves and the changing of the smells. Autumn is our advent. The earth prepares for the long sleep of winter. I need some hibernation myself, some reflection, some lonely-time.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Taking Some Time Off

Well, as an experiment, I'm taking the summer off from blogging, twittering, and facebooking. My hope is that I'll spend more time locally and relationally. Tending my garden, hanging with neighbors, chatting with guests, reading books, etc.

I'll still be emailing and chatting it up on the phone, so feel free to contact me that way if you'd like.

Also, if you happen to be in the Portland area this summer, feel free to drop by or check out our HOMESPUN CONCERT SERIES. The Cobalt Season will be playing the second one on July 18th.

Holly will keep blogging here and for Pax here.

Comments left here will reach me via email FYI.

Cheers and have a lovely summer!