Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reflecting on Rilke

So grateful for Krista Tippet's On Being. Especially this recent episode.

It brought me back to a Rilke poem I read years ago...
I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I've been circling for thousands of years
and I still don't know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?
It causes me to pause, breathe deep, and let out a long sigh. How I have been circling for thousands of years. Yes. I have.

Joanna Macy talks about her spiritual journey in the link above...and I found so much resonance with her ideas and feelings. I am so thankful that a show like On Being (previously Speaking of Faith) exists. This is a program that I doubt would have had much listenership in the decades prior. But I believe that our world is shifting. And I feel like On Being is a sort of artifact of that shift.

Yesterday, as I listened to this episode (again, linked above), I was brought down to earth, back to my self, my Self. And reminded who I am and what I have been doing with my life. Still, in so many ways I do not know: Am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Harvest and Crush 2010

Wow, it's been such an amazing fall...our first real harvest as ENSO Winery. It's been so much fun, such hard work, and we've been getting great props all around.

Thought I'd share this video that Jon Irvine put together for us. It just makes me smile...

ENSO Harvest / Crush 2010 Video from Enso Winery on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

ENSO September Tasting Parties

Yo, yo. We're releasing some wine! We have bottled our '09 Washington Dry Riesling as well as our '08 Washington Malbec/Grenache blend. They're both lovely wines.

If you're in Portland or the Bay Area this month, please swing out to one of our tasting parties, try some wine and buy a case (or at least a bottle)! We'll be offering great "start-up" discounts.

We've launched the new ENSO website to keep you apprised of all that's going on and to give you a place to order. Check it out...

Here is the flyer for the Portland party on September 18th. Please pass it along / feel free to repost it. RSVP on Facebook here.

And here's the one for our Oakland party on September 11th. Same...and here's the RSVP for that one.

Really hope to see you there for this historic (at least for me) event.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Some Pics from Camping

We just returned to Portland from a 10-day trip to CA. We were at Donner Lake with Holly's family, South Lake Tahoe with my family, and then we went camping on Lake Siskiyou with some good friends.

Here's a picture of my family on the last day at Tahoe...

And here are a few from Lake Siskiyou...

And more here and here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Hold It High For Me

Thanks Ritter...

For every cry in the night
Somebody says, "Have faith!"
"Be content inside your questions"
"Minotaurs inside a maze"
Tell me what's the point of light
When you have to strike a match to find?

So throw away those lamentations
We both know them all too well
If there's a book of jubilations
We'll have to write it for ourselves
So come and lie beside me darling
And let's write it while we still got time

Reflections on Timothy Lake

Thursday, July 01, 2010

A New Poem

908 SE 35th Avenue
by Ryan Lee Sharp

I wake up early
But only as my choice
Clean and measure
6 cups water
4 level scoops
Press the button and

Open the backdoor
Creaks and bells
A mixture of blue, white, and green
Walk the vines
The fence that lines the perimeter
Hold hands with my unknowing inebriators
A manicure for those gone astray
And cord to pull them back into line
Turn my back to the cherry tree
And re-enter the Home

The Children quiet and content to "be"
Something I can tell them about
But may never show them

Two mugs clank
One thick-lipped
One thin-rimmed
Milk, cream, and coffee made singular

A delivery to the Wife
Who has slept well, taken a hot shower,
And now greets me with a smile
So familiar that I don't recognize it as such

Cheers! to deep breaths
Another power button, perhaps a shower of my own,
Or words from a distant friend, asking if it's all a dream

Monday, May 31, 2010

90 Minutes of Perfection

Drove up the Columbia for a short hike this AM.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Language and Symbol

Nothing I haven't said before, but Sam Keen says it well in his book In The Absence of God. Sorry these are so small and that they are images, but c'est la vie. The first 2 paragraphs really get at the relationship between language and symbol while the following paragraphs speak of the relationship's subversion and manipulation for power and solidarity.

Happy Weekend.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Taking Time (and Kia Meng) to Smell the Roses

Friend in from Malaysia. Rainy day in Washington Park.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Update On Our Wine

As Dan posted on his new blog, our homemade Zinfandel is coming along quite nicely. Just racked it into a neutral barrel to get the wine off the yeast sediment that was created. This is one of the natural ways to get around filtering.

I am considering a fining option which would remove a bit of the diacetyl characteristics left by malolactic fermentation. Decisions like this are tricky as you begin to open Pandora's box. But alas, the butterscotch-y flavors are a little too pronounced.

All in all, it's becoming a really great wine. A few more adjustments and then we should be ready to bottle. Exciting.

Monday, April 26, 2010

More Campbell Snippets

Wow. I am about 70% of the way through Pathways to Bliss and I have just loved it all so far. But the library tells me it's due today and I cannot renew, so I'm going to jot down some quotes I really dug.

He uses Freud and Jung quite a bit in exploring Western understandings of id, ego, superego, social pressuring, shadow, etc.

He points at our shadow—our deep suppressed subconscience —as something we must all come to terms with at some point. All that we have desired (id) and been told that we cannot have (superego) needs to be recognized and dealt with, he suggests. There is great potential lurking in those dark depths.

It is, of course, a scary thing to consider...because who knows what the collateral damage could be.

Okay, the images...

And more...

Okay, time to get going on the day.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Basement Livin'

It's been so great to have Dan and Bethany living in our basement apartment for the last year or so. But it's soon time for them to venture back to the lovely little town named for Saint Francis. Dan's going to be pursuing a Doctorate in Nursing and they'll both be finding better jobs (fingers crossed).

Anyway, that opens our basement as of June 1st to the highest bidder. Just kidding. But seriously, we will be looking for a person or a couple to rent our basement as of June 1st.

It's a great little spot. Sunny for a basement. Nice size. Open floor plan. Full kitchen and laundry area. And it's in the hippest part of SE Portland!

If you are interested (or know someone who might be), please email me. Thanks. I can't find any pics, but I could shoot some and email them out if someone would like to see the place.

Down The Street


Pink Snow

The cherry tree has given up most of it's petals. Beautiful, this
fleeting thing called "bloom".

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"I and the Father are One"

So grateful to my cousin Nathan, who recommended that I pick up a book by Joseph Campbell. I looked at my library for Myths to Live By, but couldn't find it. I settled, instead, on Pathways to Bliss. The title barely gets at the book's content.

Anyway, I'm loving this book. I'm always into books about human development and the evolution of social (and religious) constructs. I have been on a path of discovering the myths I have bought and sold and lived by. And this book has been very helpful.

He tells of the importance of myth in each and every culture, the importance of heroes, the importance of symbol. And he suggests that we allow the supposed line between fact and fiction to blur frequently with regards to myths. In our modern age, we have become fixed on "hard facts" and historic proofs.

I'll probably get around to posting some quotes later, but I just read this section and had to share it...

"In [Christianity], we do not emphasize the inner experience of identity with the divine. Rather, we emphasize the means of achieving a relationship to the divine. Ours are religions of relationship: A relates to X. Of course, in the Orient, A equals X and doesn't equal it, both at the same time. Relationship and identity are two different formulae."

And this put into words some thoughts I have been having, namely: Perhaps Jesus isn't someone to emulate in a sort of moral, political, literal way, but rather a model of what a true human could be. And perhaps we aren't to live a second-hand life, lent to us by a Jewish Rabbi 2000 years ago. Perhaps we are to find our own experience, as he did.

He was killed for blasphemy, for suggesting identity with the Ultimate as opposed to merely relationship with It. This is such a significant difference, one I continue to try to get at here on this blog. What we need is in here...not out there.

Anyway, if you want some great reading, check out one of Campbell's books.

PS - Dig my generic Zen-y picture? :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ironic Licensing

Strangest thing: I got an email from a friend who said that one of our songs was on an ESPN program. Begin Again, in fact.

We license the ISOAUT album through PumpAudio and they can license our music to whomever would like to use it. We get just a few bucks out of it, but it's nice to think that these songs begin to take on lives of their own...going out into that world of ours.

Still, how strange...a sports program.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Enso Winery

So, long time coming...

I'm starting a winery. Here in Portland. With my friend Chris, who is currently the assistant winemaker at Arcane Cellars (the winery that I also work at).

This has been a dream of mine for some time. I have imagined Holly and I moving to some pastoral place in the Sierra Foothills after the boys are graduated, planting some vines, and making some wine as we age gracefully, with no weight gain.

But that's a helluva long time from now and I thought, what's wrong with Portland? Why not start now?

So we are.

We are making our first commercial batch of wine this fall in Chris' garage. It'll take the better part of a year for that wine to become ready for sale, so doing it in his garage will keep overhead low. Next summer (2011), we'll find a spot here in Portland, hopefully not far from our house, where we'll move the gear to and open a tasting lounge to try, drink, and buy our wines (and perhaps some other folks as well).

We're calling it Enso Winery. The idea is capturing balance, creativity, and existential expression (of ourselves, the terroir, the year) in our wines.

Here's a little snippet I came across after Holly suggested the name...

"It is believed by many that the character of the artist is fully exposed in how he draws Enso, and that only one who is mentally and spiritually whole can draw a true Enso."

We're planning on making a Zin and a Malbec, some Petite Sirah and Mourvedre, and our whites for this year will probably be a Pinot Gris and a Riesling. We'll also make a rosé out of some of our reds. Very exciting.

So, that's it. We have forms filed with all the different regulators (we're talking 100+ pages of stuff), agreements with grape growers, gear on its way, barrels in storage. Just a matter of time.

Oh, on the topic of grape growers, true, we are not growing our own. And that's something that I am both grateful for and disappointed about. Some day, I hope to tend the vines that will produce our wine, but it's too high a cost and too huge a risk to undertake just now.

For now, an urban winery in Portland, Oregon seems just right. A place to share fine wine, host events, and connect people. Yah, that sounds nice.

Stay tuned...

Website (not really functional yet)

Saturday, March 06, 2010


I had a conversation with a good friend today and it reminded me about this quote from Anthony de Mello...

"May I become your disciple?"

"You are only a disciple because your eyes are closed. The day you open them you will see there is nothing you can learn from me or anyone."

"What then is a Master for?"

"To make you see the uselessness of having one."

Exactly, I would say.

My friend responded, wondering if this wasn't what Jesus meant when he told his disciples that 1) He had to leave so that 2) They could do more than he could even do.

All takes me back to what I said months ago.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Why I am Grateful to Have Been Raised Christian

Part of my journey has been to realize that I am in a particular place and time, formed uniquely by this place and time and the other places and times in which I was a baby, a child, a teen, a young adult, and now. So many assumptions about how the world really works. A great many people realize in adulthood that our assumptions aren't necessarily wrong, but they are unique to each one of us.

As I have distanced myself more and more from what is generally called Christianity, I feel that I have been afforded the chance to see it from several perspectives. And while I no longer feel bound to that tribe as a specific identity, I really do appreciate the formation process it offered me as a human being.

I have realized that by specifying and binding myself to something in particular, I am able to see the limits of myself, of people, of ideas, etc. It offers a context to view the grand human experiment. Not much happens in a vacuum anyway. :)

Each person learns about life in some sort of environment...and mine was specifically American and Protestant...even more specifically, white, middle-class and southern. :) While a great many of my peers were being formed by a broader American worldview, I was brought up in narrower, ethnically-tribal story.

A great many of you know that I didn't just grow up in this story; I bought and sold it, too. I was it's poster-child for a good deal of time. And this wasn't inauthentic. I have always wanted to understand the world and God and myself. Christianity was one of my first channels by which to do that.

So what I'm trying to say is that, given the immense number of traditions I could have been brought up in, I'm quite happy about having been brought up Christian. Being a part of a church and youth group gave me social connection that I needed as a child. I was nurtured by people who were not family, I was given opportunity to develop my gifts, and I had a safe place.

Growing up in a religious world also offered me the possibility to think critically about dominant culture. This is something that has taken me a long time to appreciate, as this trait of religious folks is generally quite off-putting or plain mean. Christians judging people for doing what was "normal" by most people's perspectives. But what is normal anyway? That's simply the norm for some particular story.

My ability to eventually critique Christianity came from my experience within Christianity. And I deeply cherish that.

Though religious people are sometimes caricatured as all being bigotted and judgemental to outsiders, they deeply love their own. And sometimes some of them love outsiders as well. :) I definitely felt that love. I would suggest that an inordinate amount was poured out on me. And I am forever grateful to people I know and people I will never see again for that.

Thing is, you must be raised some way. You must have some bias, some understanding of social (or ethnic) boundaries. You have to develop a way of understanding the world. And I guess all I'm trying to say is that I'm glad that my experience—my tribe—was Christianity.

And that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Plum Prospects

Last year, our plum tree put out but 3-4 inedible pieces of fruit. I'm sure part of it was bad pruning and years of neglect. But part of it might have had to do with poor fruit set last Spring since the wind killed most of the blossoms as soon as they opened.

Fingers crossed for this year's harvest.


She came early this year, the cherry blossoms telling us of what's on the horizon.

Monday, March 01, 2010

One of My Favorite Smells

Whole, dried hops in boiling wort.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Holly, The Artist

So happy to see Holly back in her groove. Encaustics seem to suit her

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Assumptions of Perspective

I had a conversation with an old friend the other night. It became clear that we view the world in fairly different ways. And though I strained to find some form of common language, I kept finding our conversation growing more and more polarizing/distancing (or a different word I cannot find?).

I have certainly taken a different path than many that I have run with in the past. They notice. And I certainly notice. And I begin to make assumptions at each new stage, just like those who "stayed behind" still maintain assumptions. Try as we may (or try as some of us may), we cannot entirely rid ourselves of perspective, bias, or assumption. I'm sure most would agree with me on this. But we all have a limit on which aspects of our perception we'll allow to be criticized or deconstructed.

Yesterday, I came across this little 2 minute video from TED Talks. If you haven't heard of TED, you must check the site out. Check out this little video below.

I really do believe that the best way to move in new directions, get fresh perspective, and truly grow in a "whole" sense, is to familiarize oneself with a contradictory wisdom, approach, or perspective. And don't just approach it at a distance; try it on!

Some would suggest that this is a very slippery slope. And to that I say, Slide Away! What are you so afraid of? Losing yourself? Your faith? Your identity? Betraying God? Being disliked? Being wrong? Betraying your tribe?

Well, there are consequences for our actions, no doubt. But inaction can be more dangerous that fierce action in an opposing direction. Something I must consider daily.

I know that I will never loose myself from my subjective perspective...and now, more than ever, I can recognize that as the thing that allows me to be me. I am formed by a blend of my experience and (hopefully) some seed of person inside.

But to realize that I have assumptions can be quite liberating. So I try to recognize my perspective as just that: My perspective.

Perfect Winter Day

This has been such a mild winter, save a particular week in December. The buds are already bursting which is a little worrisome. But generally, I am very content with this beginning of 2010.

Friday, January 29, 2010


The salt air always revives me. I look forward to coming back soon to
walk the beaches and hills and contemplate...and be grateful.

Friday, January 22, 2010


I am in a good place. Head space, locale, lifepoint. I certainly wax and wane. Energy ebbs and flows. But generally, I feel good.

I have been reading a good bit more than usual. Brittian loaned me Klosterman's latest offering...EATING THE DINOSAUR. And while I'm only 20 or so pages in, I am reminded that a great many of my feelings/hunches about the world are shared by more people than just me. I love books that remind me of this fact: I am not alone. Though the guy is a total ass, I really appreciate his perspective and meanderings. My sister lent me SEX, DRUGS, AND COCOA PUFFS a couple years back and I liked that as well. He reminded me a bit of Douglas Coupland, but more ass-ish.

I have also been listening to a book on CD (er, iPhone mp3)...THE HOUSE OF MONDAVI. It chronicles the immigrant family's arrival to the New World, it's trek across the US, finally arriving in California's Napa Valley. And from there, taking over Charles Krug, with Robert Mondavi eventually starting his own winery which would later be sold to Constellation (the largest wine corporation in the world, if I'm not mistaken).

I have been taking walks every other day or so through the neighborhood, rain or shine. I'll take in a good bit of the book each walk. Such a fantastic tale of deceit, success, ego, and family.

Holly bought the new book by Randall Grahm (of Bonny Doon fame). It's called BEEN DOON SO LONG. And while I feel like alot of their wine turned to shit (as he agrees, even as early on as in the introduction!), I have appreciated their iconoclastic approach to the wine industry, scoffing at Parker scores and pissing off wine writers left and right. They also have grown (and bought) unusual varieties of grapes, made ridiculous wines, and had some impressive labels.

Seems like Grahm had a sort of wake-up experience and is now planting a small biodynamic vineyard near Santa Cruz and going to be producing much smaller-batch artisan wine. Sounds good! His perspective–not just on winemaking, but life itself–is very inspiring and resonant. I am reminded that I really appreciate those that push into this journey called life, trying things on, trying things out, changing when we can, how we can. Really pushing into the fabric of existence.

I raise my glass (er, cup of joe this morning) to 2010 - The Year of The Book!

BTW - Thinking of mixing wine and coffee, the Mondavi family drank their morning coffee in the old Italian way...with a tablespoon of red wine added to each cup. Hmm. Doesn't sound quite right...especially if you throw creamer in as well!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New TCS Project for 2010?

I continue to work on new tunes here and there, attempting to find some traction for a sixth The Cobalt Season project. Lots going on in life, so it continues to be a sort of back burner project. But still I'm moving ahead, slowly. And I hope to have something to share this year.

I wrote this little ditty as a sort of preface to the album. Well, preface is overstating it a bit, but...

Bullshit prose!
Pedantic rants!
What will he do next?

Perhaps build an archetype?
And universally beloved

Or show us the world?
Free of Empire
As it should be
But might never

Perhaps He will amaze us with complexity?
Juxtapose criminals and saints
The history of G-d

Or perhaps he will sink low?
Drag us down with him
To the ground
Near hell
Nearer heaven
Nearer us/we/them
Nearer me

Always me
Always me

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Catching Up

Does anyone else get a little depressed after reading a book (fiction, in particular)? The book is over, you put it down, filled with emotion. And then, in the days following, you find yourself a little low?

I do. I so seldom read fiction that I guess I really get hit by it.

Come to think of it, I felt the same way after the final episode of Six Feet Under.

Anyway, I just finished Children of God (Mary Doria Russell's follow-up book to The Sparrow...see previous post). I loved it. The two books a matched pair, vamping on similar themes. Different, all the same. Highly recommended reading for your 2010.

Now I continue with my prior reading list...finishing Tolle's A New Earth along with a slew of winemaking and wine industry books for pleasure. Oh, and to top that off, this year I've got textbooks. Yip, I'm back in school.

This quarter finds me taking Chem 104 and Intro to Viticulture (the growing of grapevines). In Spring, I'll continue with Chem 105 and Chemical Analysis of Must and Wine. It's fun to be back in school, but I am honestly a bit overwhelmed by the homework sometimes.

I continue to plot out what my future in wine could look like. Some great ideas being floated and this year looks promising. Stay tuned.

Oh, well, there's a baby crying...gotta get.