Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cheektowaga White!

My how half a score will just fly by! Last Friday was our 10th anniversary, so to celebrate we called in the grandparents and took off for a weekend at Lake Chautauqua (a town that surely was the inspiration for Gary, Indiana a la The Music Man). Good weekend, although it was off to a rocky start (see Magnus Patris for blown tire story). Our goal? Celebrate us, take a golf lesson, and sample some wine, not necessarily in that order. Last summer I did a day trip wine tour with some preschool moms, and had such a good time I wanted to go again but with Mike.

Unlike the wineries in Leesburg, the Lake Erie wine samplings are FREE.... and much tastier than those in Virginia (but I'm a sweet wine drinker, and the Niagara grape seems to be the thing to grow in this region). We came home with 16 (yes 16) bottles, and since I'm a one glass a week wine drinker this should keep us stocked for quite a while. So far my favorite is Penn Shore Vineyard's Lambruscano because it's so fragrant. But our stop at Schloss Doepken takes the cake just for sheer amusement's sake. After following the directions, we pull up not in front of a store, but a farm house. The sign told us to come on in, so we did, calling out b/c it didn't appear anyone was home. "I'm a'comin' said this voice, and around the corner is J. Simon Watso, vintner and proprieter. He's wearing red suspenders, leaning on a cane, and was 85 if he's a day. We spend 15 minutes just listening to him gripe about a double hip replacement, reading a 'recent' article (published in 1993... "read the first page and the first column", said he) about his winery, and patiently waiting to taste one of the 12 bottles he had lined up on the counter. He handed me a bottle and told me to read the label aloud. I got about halfway through, finishing with the winery's history, and moving onto the wine's description when he yanked it out of my hand and said "that's for me!" OKAY! Next, he pulled out a stack of little plastic cups (Mike thinks they were Nyquil cups, but I maintain they were little communion cups), and he said "These are the rules of the house: We don't dump. We don't gargle. We don't spit, or any of those affectations." And we were off. For each wine, he had a precise description which he re-enacted with gusto:

This is an exceptional oak aged Chardonnay. It's perfect for any special occasion such as Thanksgiving, or even just with grilled .....SWORDFISHHHHH.

This is CHEEKtowaga WHITE. CHEEKtowaga is a little town outside of Buffalo, where I used to fly out of, and I figured if we named a wine CHEEKtowaga WHITE, and everyone from CHEEKtowage bought a bottle, we'd be SOLVENT.

This is September Rouge. On a late summer evening if you drive down Route 20 with the windows down, this is what you'll SMELL.

At the end (we were there 30 minutes, when mercifully another couple entered), we felt like we had to buy some of his wine. And actually, Mike really liked his Apple Crisp wine (meant to be served warm). Two bottles of that, a bottle of the house wine, September Rouge (my favorite), and CHEEKtowaga WHITE. Just because there was a pink flamingo on the front. On our way down the gravel path Mike wondered which of us would be blogging about him first. I guess I win!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Fare thee well, Mrs. Greenthumbs

Now that we have a new house, and I'm done having babies, and life seems to be settling down, I'm turning my attention to yard work. Knowing that a green thumb is cultivated, not created, I pulled out my one and only gardening book: Cassandra Danz' Mrs. Greenthumbs: How I turned a Boring Yard Into a Glorious Garden and How You Can Too. Perhaps you remember her? Mrs. Greenthumbs had a regular appearance on Regis and Kathie Lee as well as the Today show. Her wacky sense of humor (really OUT there) was just so much fun. Her book is hilarious, and I've had it for years, which is about how long it's been since I've read it. But I wanted to mentally prepare myself for a FUN experience (gardening is not really my idea of fun. Work, yes. Fun, not so much. I'd much rather have the garden without the gardening.) And I ask you: what's a new project without a new purchase? Off to Amazon I went to get another one of her books, where I discovered that they're OUT OF PRINT! Heavens to murgatroid... get me to Google ASAP! And this is what brought me to a very sad revelation... Mrs. Greenthumbs died six years ago of cancer! She was 55 years old. And I'm just so sad about that. Of course I didn't know her personally, but I felt like I did (she wrote in a stream of consciousness style that made you feel like she was talking to you). I guess with the kids and the old house renovation, I missed that news (it was in the New York Times for heavens' sake!) I'm sad that this gifted gardener, hilarious woman and all around happy sounding person is no longer around. Tragic.

So in tribute to Mrs. Greenthumbs, I did make a purchase tonight. Spring Hill Nursery had a coupon (she would have appreciated the thriftiness), and there's a lilac bush, a butterfly bush, two Shasta daisies, six daylilies, two Sedum and a jumbo perennial grab bag headed my way. I'm pulling out the graph paper and am starting to plan.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Things I Learned Today

1. Sam's Club photos really stink.
2. Wet evening grass in an early Pittsburgh May is REALLY COLD on bare feet.
3. My patio is 12 feet deep by 24 feet wide.
4. I'm a glutton for punishment.

Anyone have any ideas for what I can do to spruce up this yard? Consider that most of our yard is being torn up in a few weeks to rebuild a retaining wall, and that I have two small children who will want to help.

And while you're thinking on that... what colors should we paint the door, front porch and trim? That's going to need repainting soon, and the beigy beige beige-icity that is my house leaves me so drowsy I can barely stay awake. It's a swell house, we're enjoying it but GOSH... can you say VANILLA??? You get points for creativity. And by points I mean I won't hit you up to babysit the boys.