Coming home last night, the neighbors were drinking beer out front. I said hello, and they wished me a good night in a heavy Michoacan accent. It was pretty OK, but because it's so hot here we had to open the guest bedroom window, and the talking and drinking didn't make it particularly easy to get to sleep either.
Thie morning, the cats are playing with wine bottles in paper bags. It's noisy but fun. I'm trusting that neither Digit nor Nibbles tends to pee on this category of toy, so I'm just leaving them be for now.
Yesterday was long. Stopped by the Dutch store to get some appel bollen for breakfast - too cold, no flavor - then headed over to Santa Cruz to see Michael, Helen, and Anya. They all seemed fine. Went by a small shop in Santa Cruz called Soif to see about buying the last of their 2001 Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier, but they had sold out of all of it. Somehow, the owner suggested I just buy a case of the 2002 at basically his cost, about what it costs in Australia - no problem. He's going to talk to his dealer on Monday and see if we can do a deal somehow. It all sounds so illicit... Helen was working up at the shop at the UCSC botanical gardens, so we headed up there to fetch her; then we headed over to Bonny Doon winery, which was absolutely jam packed. They've added tables to jam in about three times as many customers as they used to accomodate... creepy. Tasted some of their wines: Clos de Gilroy, Old Telegram, Cigare Alternative B, etc. I hate to say it but I think I'm basically over their winemaking style, by and large. Some of their stuff is still brilliant - I did like their sweet Viognier, even if it didn't have that oily thing going on - but their reds all seem to have been microbubbled to death or something. It gives them a really distinctive silky texture that just feels boring and/or wrong. I don't like it. Still, what's good is good. I left with a bottle of the viognier as well as their recioto di Barbera, which mamoosh and I drank the day before I left for Australia. Mmm, good.
Once out of there, we went back to Santa Cruz via a very circuitous route - via Felton, which is definitely not on the way back. Michael had picked up a Graves at Soif and decided we should drink it with figs and goat cheese. Sadly, though, we were running out of time; we didn't get to drink it, although we did get figs on the way home. Ah well. Maybe next time? At their house, we turned around and left for San Jose immediately. We were going to meet up with Phillip Bond, a good friend of mine. Phillip and I started within a week of each other at Netscape; although he left just over a year late for Google! - a wise decision - we remained good friends. With people like that working at Google!, I'm absolutely confident they'll continue to do well. Anyhow, after Dan napped for an hour back at Brian's, we met him in Campbell for Eritrean food. I noticed a "wine bar" kinda thing down the block, so I suggested we stop in there for something to drink while waiting for my appetite to return [we had a huge Mexican lunch at 2 pm on the wharf in Santa Cruz, and I was far from hungry]. Overpriced and pretentious as all hell, I wasted money on an incredibly flabby Californian sauvignon blanc for Dan, a corky, watery Blauburgunder from somewhere near Stuttgart for Phillip, and a very acceptable Oregon pinot gris for me. I keep thinking that there has to be somewhere out there where you can get a decent glass of wine for $4, but I haven't found it yet. There once was a place in Kensington, CA where this was possible, but I haven't been there since 1989.
Anyhow, when that was done, we moved down the block to the Eritrean place. As with most South Bay Eritrean restaurants, this was marked by a bunch of Eritrean refugees hanging out at the bar, drinking coffee, and highly unlikely looking whitefellas sitting in converted diner booths, chowing down on huge plates of stuff that seems exotic but which is actually in the new edition of The Joy of Cooking. [Yes, I was surprised to see recipes for ye doro tibs in the book's Kwanzaa section.] Anyhow, the food was excellent, and the waitress was a really friendly, obviously grew-up-in-California Eritrean-American with a great sense of humor. Phillip filled us in on all the latest Internet heinousness - I have yet to check out any of the sites he mentioned, but I'm sure they'll be revolting - and it felt like 1998 all over again, but in a good way.
After the bill was paid, we drove back to the Lone Star for one last stand. Dan chatted with Jimmy about plans, I mostly stood there and wondered if I recognized anyone I knew. I didn't, so I just waited for friends to show up. There was great hope that either bearzbub or zombietruckstop would show, but - sniff - neither did. However, Richard Tanner, everyone's favorite dentist, did, and I did get some quality Richard time in before I left. Thank God for that. On the way out, none other than funkybearmartin had just arrived - he's looking mighty fine these days, let me tell you. He just seems so much more relaxed, so much happier than when I first met him earlier this year. I can only assume this has something to do with throwing in the towel at work & taking some time off.
11.45 and we were on the road back home to San Jose, hot weather, nosy kitties, car alarms, drinking on the sidewalk, no milk in the fridge... Dan's back asleep now I think but when he wakes I'm going to drag him off to Hobee's and then back up to The City. I aim to find a Cal sweatshirt today... and fly home this evening.