Friday, March 30, 2007

Livin' la vida vino

We stayed at the Freed Estate vineyards from Monday through Wednesday. It was so much fun. We caught the train down to Eugene and my mom came and picked us up.

Waiting at the train station was sort of romantic. It's an old train station, and the entire interior is made of marble. It's not quite like the old days where people can see you off just outside the train, but there was an old crazy homeless lady who was frantically waving at the train as we passed her. Here are Tania and Talula at the station.

Traveling by train is really quite comfortable. Even a freakishly tall man like Joey could stretch his legs out. The seats are pretty large, and they recline quite a bit. The recline isn't like the insulting recline of an airplane seat.

Trains have dining cars and lounge cars. We ate lunch and had some drinkie-poos in the dining car. It was so lovely to sit and look at the scenery with my family.

We got to the vineyard around dinner time. Now, when I say that we stayed at a vineyard, you might think I am talking about some stately hotel-esque property. No. It's a cross between living in a trailer park and camping. My parents need to go through a lot of loopholes to be able to obtain permits to build on their property, so they live in trailers for now. Since they live right next to the Umpqua River, they're in the flood zone, plus their property is zoned for agriculture uses only. So, it's really "livin' off the grid." It was a wonderful few days of country living.

This is the deck that their friend Jim built. It has become the main hangout area. Notice the fireplace that my mom scored at a yard sale for $80. She talked them down from $150. That's my mom. She gets what she wants.

My 'rents on their deck with the beautiful Umpqua River in the background.

Tania and her Tutu and Granddad.

Lu tolerated baby jail much more happily than I thought she would. Everywhere is dirty and dusty, so you can't put a baby down anywhere. Baby jail was the solution.

My handsome man in front of the vines. During summer, they will be much more green and lush. Joey had such a great time being out there, doing farmer things. I think he's found his place in life.

The neighbors have peach trees, pear trees, and apple trees. I am not sure which have the pink blossoms, or which have the white blossoms, but they both sure are beautiful.

Tania and her little friend, M. Don't they look related? M.'s grandma, my mom's friend, has the most fabu sewing room. She has enough fabric to open a store, and she has top-of-the-line equipment. She sews, knits, crochets, quilts, name it.

Tania and Tutu underneath the Freed Estate sign. The print is of a watercolor my mom painted. The same picture is on all of their wine bottles.

Joey and my dad pounding posts into the end of each row of vines. Jim is driving the tractor. Joey loved doing this work. He was so happy all day long.

Tania and her friends getting a ride on the four-wheeler from Tutu. We were visiting all of the neighborhood horses, cows, and sheep.

Tania and her friend G. jumping on the trampoline.

We visited a winery called Champagne Creek Cellars. My dad sells them grapes every year. Joey and I had a wine tasting and bought a bottle of Pinot Noir Reserve.

We picked up some old wine barrels to half and use as planters. Joey is loading them up into the truck. What you don't see here are the photos of us getting stuck in the mud after my dad tried to pull some sweet move. It took about an hour for the guys to tow us out.

Joey and Lu watching South Park in our trailer.

Tania planting pumpkin and squash seeds down by the river. The ground is a really good mix of soil and sand, very moist, and perfect for planting squash and pumpkin without having to take any real care of the plants.

My mom's new tractor. Isn't it cute?

Some seriously handsome man leaning on a John Deere. Ooh, I want to have his babies.

This is the laundry room. The large tank above it holds water, and the sun heats it because it is drawn to the dark color of the tank.

The shower is right next to the laundry facility. We have hot showers. We also have flushing toilets, after years of using an outhouse.

My dad built a greenhouse to keep cuttings in until they are ready for planting in the ground.

Vine cuttings to go in the greenhouse.

A couple of the trailers. Ours is the last one. I'm pretty sure the old owners used to cook meth in it, so we should probably not use it...

Tania driving the four-wheeler. She drives it all over the vineyard. She gave Lu and me a ride. That Tania sure is a thrill-seeker. She flies over bumps and has a need for speed.

It finally got sunny the last day we were there. The vineyard is so beautiful.

They label each row of grapes with a initial indicating the type of grape and the number of the row. This one is the 14th row of Syrah. They also grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Viognier, Chardonnay, and Tempranillo. Their Merlot has won a few awards, including the Oregon State Fair Bronze Medal. Their Syrah has been bought by several vineyards and made into very expensive wine.

This is a pump that irrigates water from the river. The river is where all of our running water comes from.

Tania in one of her hiding spots down by the river. This place is so easy to play at. It's so easy to imagine you are a fairy or a princess or anything you can think of!

On the drive home, we stopped at Henry Estates winery. It is a beautiful property, where they hold concerts and festivals and wine tastings during the summer. Their wine is too expensive.

Tania and Lu swinging on the playground at Henry Estates.

My mom and Lu swinging.

When we finally got home, my mom and Lu bonded over Cheerios.

After we ate some pizza, we finally took real showers and fell fast asleep. My parents left for Hawaii the next morning. We have decided that we are going to spend the summer down at the vineyard after Joey finishes school for the term. We are so excited to work hard and swim in the river and go to the local concerts, festivals, and wine tastings. It is going to be the best summer ever!

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Magical Sorceress Named Lu

Once upon a time, there was a magical sorceress named Lu. She saw her visions through a crystal ball, but not how most witches saw into their crystal balls. No, this special creature had to bite her crystal ball to see the future.

One day, a wicked man came to ask Lu to tell him his future. He came dressed as a plain peasant man, and pretended that he was kind and meek when he spoke to the great sorceress Lu. But Lu said, "See here, wicked man. My crystal ball says that you're a no good and vile creature! How dare you try to fool me!"

The wicked man retorted with, "Well, that's not even a crystal ball at all! It's metal! How dare YOU try to fool ME!"

Lu laughed casually and said, "Touche, my friend. Touche."

The wicked man asked, "So you're not a magical sorceress after all?"

To which Lu replied nervously, "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Well," inquired the wicked man further, "does your stupid metal ball even work?"

Lu answered, "I don't really know, but look! It's shiny."

Indeed, it was shiny. But was it magic, Lu secretly wondered?

Lu was faced with a dilemma. If the ball wasn't magic, she should cast it away!

No wait! It's shiny! Lu could not part with the metal ball, magic or no magic.

But she had a great, super, amazing, awesome idea! She'd put on her magic hippie beanie! Surely it would help her to see the future.

Mwah-ha-ha! Lu laughed wickedly. Now, all the world's power was hers!

But her conscience would not allow her to stop thinking about her abandoned metal ball. What if it was magic?

And was the hat even magic? I mean, who wears fluorescent yellow anyway?

Oh, of course! Curses, curses! The wicked man had tricked her! He was after the magic metal ball and had distracted her with the blasted hat!

Stupid hat! Stupid, stupid!

Well, perhaps fluorescent yellow is okay, what with the 80s being so fashionable these days.

But I tell you, I pity the fool who messes with me! That wicked man is in deep trouble!

And with that, Lu put on her superhero cape.

But what would her plan be?

Ha ha! Of course! She would turn the wicked man into a pair of men's underwear...bikini, a thong! Mwah-ha-ha!

All of the people of the village were so thrilled, that they rewarded the magical sorceress named Lu with thousands of toys.

At first, Lu was ecstatic! She was like, "Eff yeah!"

But the toys didn't make her happy for very long.

In fact, just three moons later, she was found sobbing on a pile of peasants' laundry.

And what happened in the end, you ask? Well, the magical sorceress named Lu was found by a handsome bearded king and a beautiful white-haired princess. They all lived happily ever after in a white castle, where they played hide-and-seek and watched movies every day.