A small Slump

I’m bereft of things to say–and this is mostly because school starting up is taking me out of the loop on anything other than lesson planning, kid discussions, yearbooks and newspapers. This, combined with the ongoing bulging neck disc saga leaves me rather wasted at the end of a day and the result is…not a lot to say.

I’m being referred by my physician for a cervical epidural shot in hopes that it will give me some pain relief. I’ve had these before in the lumbar area and they worked pretty darn well. So–I kind of hope they work here. If they don’t, it’s off to the surgeon for a “quick fix” as they say. Still, I’m doing PT and exercising and trying really hard to get rid of symptoms. Positive thinking has been part of that.

Wine-wise, Brian says he has secured some Nebbiolo grapes as well as Barbera from the Los Alamos region and that is good news. Los Alamos is a mecca for grape growing–hot in the daytime, cool ocean breezes at night—it works well. Very Italian-style growing season for our Italian grapes. Should be nice.

August is at an end and as usual here, it is very hot–and right now, humid. Steamy even. I reckon that’ll all change soon when the East Winds start to blow and we’ll get dry, low-humidity, heat with high winds and then….the fires will return. Zaca Fire is largely done–but there’s plenty more brush out there. Here’s hoping and praying that things are less windy–and less torched this year.

Well–a veritable hodge-podge of not very exciting stuff. I seem in a slump. It’s not a “black dog” slump, no. It’s more of a “I’ve-got-a-lot-to-do-and-my-schedule-has-radically-changed” kind of slump. Once I get used to it, I’ll have more to say. Count on it.

The wonders of Bordeaux

I would be hard-pressed to tell you that tonight’s dinner was a meld of great partners. It wasn’t. For, it was taco-night in the Storer household and my wife was hard at it making all the fixin’s and setting them out for all of us to build our assorted crispy or soft tacos. I had one of each, for the record. Well, OK–I had two crispy ones–and one soft one. Still….

And we know that with taco night comes the manifest joys of beer. One should drink what goes with the eats–but I didn’t want to. I was in wine-mode and so I pulled an unlikely suspect from the wine-fridge.

Petit Verdot is a Bordeaux grape that is usually found as a blended part of French Bordeaux wines–like Cabernet Sauvignon. Usually–a French Bordeaux will have in it Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It’s relatively rare to have just Petit Verdot. But, here in the New World, we’re less about region–and more about the grape. So….Petit Verdot.

This one, by Lucas and Lewellyn, was quite good. Its flavors are a little hard for me to peg–but that’s because for some reason, I don’t define fruit tastes as well as a sommelier should. Still–this was a smoky, rich–cherry and herbal wine with a nice finish. OK–it didn’t go with the tacos really well, but it didn’t not go with them, either. In other words, it stood up to the rather sharp flavors that tacos represent–and that means it has all the right marks of a good Bordeaux. This would be delicious with lamb or beef, roasted meats with heavy or cream sauces–and I think it would have been delicious with heavier chicken dishes, like Chicken in a brandy-cream sauce (one of my personal faves) or even Chicken Marsala.

This was a nice change of pace from the usual Central Coast Pinot Noir or Syrahs that are so prevalent in my home. Good stuff.

The beginning of an Interesting Year

I know that I should have something spectacular to say on this, the first day of my 17th year of teaching. But, nothing. Plain old–nuttin’. The day was hot–“…the Capels abroad and if we meet, we shall not ‘scape a brawl…” OK–enough Shakespeare. But it was hot–and sticky. I smelled myself by third period.

Got a quick break to go hear Edd and the new band play up at our alma mater, California Lutheran University. They were tremendously good musically and the sound system they had was just beautiful. Edd’s wife, Leanne was there–and she said something with which I concur–my friend Edd, with whom I’ve played a lot of music, could very easily make a living as a studio musician. He’s that good. He’s spontaneous, he’s inventive and he’s interested in the sound of his music.

Then, back to the publications where we are working on building both our newspaper and our yearbook into respectable classes and printed material that have something to offer. Running a high school publication is controlled chaos–and sometimes it’s not so controlled. The only organization there is is when the final product comes out, but before that–there isn’t much. And in many ways, that’s what makes it fun.

Sofie had her first day in American high school and seems to be happy with it. She’s very bright–and her class load is a heavy one, but it seems imminently within her grasp. It’s a real treat to have her here and her presence changes our lives in such positive ways. Sue is a fine “mom” to a teenager and Shannon is a great “little sister.” What a fascinating school year it will be…

A fireplace, a glass of Eberle Cab–and summer's end

It is perhaps a nice tribute that on this last weekend of summer, I am sitting in what I lovingly term “my office” which is in fact the side patio of my home which is accessed by a set of French doors off the dining room. I have a fire burning in the chimineia, not because it’s particularly cold–though it’s not hot either–but because it’s a little cloudy and Peanut and I went for a dip in the doughboy and that was definitely cold. No heater there.

It’s also fitting, perhaps, that the grilling of chicken that was to take place has had to move indoors as the summer propane ran out. I filled it last in either May or June and it has now winnowed down. Five gallons lasts a while, though. Pretty well worth it in my book.

Sofie has settled in nicely and today we took her to Santa Barbara to see the sights and have some lunch. We met our area coordinator for the Cultural Homestay group and we shopped at Paseo Nuevo as well as traipsing out onto the Santa Barbara pier. So–now, a glass of Gary Eberle’s wonderful Cabernet at my side (redolent of smoke and cherries and hints of vanillia at the edges–man!), I’m preparing to start the school year while at the same time winding down into whatever will be the next step in my neck and shoulder issue. PT is somewhat working, but I have intermittent ups and downs and it gets old after a while. Enough of that, though.’

School started for me Friday with meetings and the like. Sofie will join the herds on Monday morning as summer of 2007 goes into the books and we wind into the fall and another year in the classroom. I’m done reflecting, pretty much. Reflection is for people who have accomplished what they want to accomplish. I’ve not done that yet. I’ve some goals I want yet to achieve and this year is a year for that. A little more money, a little less time–but preparing for next summer’s vacation which will be Peanut’s biggest trip yet, and a few writing gigs I have yet to explore. Oy. I’m rambling.

Well—Happy Saturday.

My 17th Year in American Public Schools–Sofie's First

Sofie arrived safely last night and slept until around 10 this morning. Her travel plans were some 20 hours from home near Antwerp to here in Ventura County. What a day! It’s now 8:40 and she just bid me good-night. I imagine she’s pretty tired.

We kept her busy with school registration and some swimming at Aunt Laurie’s house. We fed her a lunch of hamburgers from The Habit and Sue cooked dinner of Halibut and veggies. She’s going to love it here.

I finished my first full day of steroid therapy for my neck and shoulder. I actually don’t know what good it will do, but I have to believe it will help. Combine it with P.T. and I just may have something. Or not. Time will tell…..and tomorrow begins year 17 as a teacher. Wow! Hard for me to believe.

Still, I cannot help but feel like the black sheep. This piece by Victor Davis Hansen is far more agreeable to me than any of the claptrap coming from the NEA or AFT. I really do believe that public schools as we know them have numbered days. And I’ll tell you–having my daughter now ensconced in the terrible district where we live–and having to register Sofie today so as to make her a number in the great cog of the high school—well, perhaps that change could come sooner rather than later. But what do I know?

Laugh….Really Hard!

As part of my public service, I provide Jim Gaffigan for your listening and viewing pleasure. This guy is very funny–and I’ve become such a fan, I’ve started to talk like him. Enjoy….

School Daze

Wine is scarce, but school’s kicking in. I’ve been back at it the past few days getting ready to welcome my 17th batch of young uns to my classroom. I printed out class management and syllabus papers today along with a few other goodies–got some time to arrange my room, get into the groove as it were. This year sees me doing p/t at another school as well. Somis Academy is a local home-schooling/distance learning facility and I’ll be helping them out with a yearbook as well as teaching a class on Shakespeare. The extra scratch will be nice, but all the prep. has me a little up in arms.

Meanwhile, I’m still in PT for the neck and shoulder–the disc bulge and all. I have good and bad days and I really do want to avoid surgery if possible, but I don’t know how successful I will be. There’s only so long I’m willing to wake up every morning already in pain. That time is coming soon and I am in hopes that the next few weeks sees me decreasing said pain. That’d be nice. It really does get uncomfortable.

Sofie arrives tomorrow night from Belgium. She’s probably getting ready to go right now and head our way. Poor thing–it’s a long day of travel B.S. tomorrow for her and unfortunately, she’s booked on Delta Airlines, perhaps the worst airline in the history of the United States when it comes to customer service, from Atlanta to Los Angeles. From there, she has to get through customs and over to the United Express terminal to board a puddle jumper from LAX to Oxnard Airport. This makes it convenient for us, Oxnard Airport is about 15 minutes from here, and very inconvenient for her. I have my doubts as to whether or not all of her luggage will be with her. But–no matter. It’s the life of a world traveler–and she’s young. She can take it.

Well–night has fallen and sleep is calling. Peace, gentles.

Dean Makes Landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula

There is no doubt that hurricane Dean caused some major suffering, killing 12 in the Caribbean before its landfall at the Yucatan Peninsula this morning. But–the fears of so many have vanished, thank God, with the fact that his landfall was in a sparsely populated area and when he hit, he nearly immediately dropped to a Cat. 3 hurricane as the eye became disorganized and cloudy.

Could he do more damage? It’s not clear whether he will be able to reorganize over the Bay of Campeche, but chances are he will not. If he does indeed strengthen, it will only be temporarily as he makes his way toward the mountains of Southern Mexico where he will meet with forces greater than himself and be smashed into so many thunderstorms.

It’s fascinating stuff, really. But let’s say prayers of thanks that so many were spared–and prayers of compassion for those who were affected.

I sold out…

So, yes-I did it. I became an Amazon.com associate last night. I’d been thinking about it for quite a while but I didn’t do it because I was afraid that people wouldn’t like the idea of me peddling things on my site. But, realistically—it’s not a hard sell. If I come across a book, an item, a piece of computer hardware or software that I think is worth it–I’ll mention it. If you, my glorious readers are interested–you follow the link. If not–you don’t. No pressure.

Still following Hurricane Dean, though I am not a weather blogger and I’ll leave that to the fine folks that are. Dean is now past Jamaica and while the damage there is bad–it could have been far, far worse. Brendan Loy points out that because he didn’t hit land, Dean will have the opportunity to grow. He’s already gotten to monster-size as a Category 4 storm, but a day in the Gulf may push him to Cat. 5 status and that is official monster territory. The Cayman Islands are next on the hit list and after that, Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Say a prayer–offer help–and batten down the hatches.

Dean Moving South-Eye of Storm misses Jamaica

While we’re on the subject of hurricanes, I strongly recommend the following book–a Lutheran initiative–about the help and service offered to the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Katrina. Yes, I’m an Amazon associate–and this book is my first offering. So, humor me please, follow the link and buy yourself a copy. You will not regret it.

Update: Dean is pounding Jamaica and they have had a bad day. It’s not as bad as it could have been there. However, there’s plenty of damage in Kingston and the whole island is experience hurricane force winds of some type. Dean remains a Cat. 4 storm officially, though as he moves across the Caribbean into the Gulf, he will probably increase. Best guess now is landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula on Tuesday. There are a lot of people who will need a lot of help.

Here’s a tape loop of Dean’s pass at Jamaica…

This looks like good news. It’s worth noting it, then–of course. Dean may have weakened (though he’ll strengthen again) and he’s only delivering a glancing blow to Jamaica it seems. That is a happy thought. Let’s hope is leftward (southward) trend continues. If it does, it could weaken Dean a bit because the storm will disorganize a bit. Again, good news worth hoping for…

And this too is interesting on a Sunday morning–especially as I prepare to go to church today. Perhaps prayer really can turn a hurricane…