Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,
written September 17+
A week diary. Another normal week: family, wine,
bocce, and garage construction. The family part refers to Mamo
getting yet another heart pacemaker. At 94-years-old, she managed
to out-last three devices and needed a fourth. She went into the
hospital on Tuesday and came out on Wednesday, tired but with the new
heart aid working just fine. As "routine"as the operation had
been described, everyone is relieved it is over. (Unfortunately,
one old pacemaker wire has since gone out of service, so yet another
operation looms in a few months.)
Wednesday morning, I
visited the Yribarren Family Vineyard, 20-minutes west of home in
Kerman, California. My goal had been to look at their
bocce fields, since they had announced a weekended tournament.
Unfortunately, theirs are grass fields, so provided no guidance for our
own backyard construction project.
All was not lost however, as the winery was doing their annual bottling
and had invited customers to come and take a look. Yribarren,
like most small vintners, contracts a service for bottling.
A trailer-installed bottling plant is brought in, complete with crew.
In a few hours, the contractor transfers all the liquid from the
vintner's "barrels", actually large plastic tanks, to pallet loads of
bottled and labeled wine cases.
far, our only other diary-significant activity this week was the
initiation of our backyard bocce court. (Construction details
below). We still don't know how to play, but I have hung our sign out and we'll see who shows up to give us instructions.
|Wendy Yribarren explained the process for me while I tried some pictures.
Bottle boxes are emptied at the end of the trailer and the bottles
march along past a filling machine, cappers and corkers, label
application, and back into the white boxes. In a few hours, the
entire year's production is packaged and ready for a bit of
storage. Yribarren will release these 2012 and 2013 wines next
month, at their annual "Grape Stomp". Hopefully, we can make that
On Saturday, we tried to solve a bit of our ignorance.
There was a bocce tournament school fund raiser out at the Yribarren
winery and we decided it was a fund raiser worth supporting. I
mean, it's held at a winery, how serious can it get?
All in all, it was a great day. We learned a little about both
bocce and about the grape and almond farms of the local valley - and
about a very nice group of people. We'll return next year, after
we practice at home!
|The Yribarren family opened their vineyard home for a fund raiser for the Houghton-Kearny K-8 School
There were three grass courts set up. Terry explained the rules
and our team, "The Strangers in a Strange Land" was the last team of the
It was all good fun, win or lose. ("The Strangers" mostly lost.)
Sunday started early.
I was out of the house at 5:15 am, headed for the Clovis Rodeo grounds
for the annual Clovis hot air balloon event. I took way too many
pictures, but how can one not when all those colors are around?
|The coffee and cinnamon bun trailer was supplying the early crowd and crews.
the crowds and all seven balloons did start to arrive, I found myself
just hanging around "Dave" and his balloon as he did his meticulous
Dave got the weather report and permission to take-off. He, in
turn, gave instructions to his pick-up crew and they started the
Adding heat inflated the balloon, Dave took on his passenger, and was gone, the first of the pack.
Meanwhile, the others were launching, successfully avoiding any nearby hazards.
The winds were very calm and the balloons passed overhead like slow-motion dancers before drifting west.
my way home, I saw one balloon just ahead of me, so I tried to
follow. It landed in a very narrow parking lot on the Fresno
State campus. The pilot later said he'd prefer more space, but
the wind determines where the balloon goes much more than the
pilot. ("Grace" was the pilot's mother, who truly must have been
looking out for him from above.)
After all that, I needed to speed home for a patio breakfast with the
whole family, from one-year-old Zaiden to 94-year-old Mamo. Marianne
had prepared a great spread and everyone seemed to enjoy
themselves. We worked in an explanation of bocce and a walk in
the neighborhood for Mamo.
Next week we will travel over to Monterey, but that's another story.
John and Marianne
Meanwhile, the garage is finally done except for rain gutters (why we need them in this desert I have no idea.)
|On Monday, a little more concrete.
On Thursday and Friday morning we made progress on garage details, and the final bocce.
The bocce court started as a rough mixture of decomposed granite and
oyster shell chunks. Gary and Rick spread oyster shell "flour"
and after two flour treatments and three or four rollings, we are
calling it done!