September 2006
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Month September 2006

Thoughts on a crisp fall weekend…

I’ve been entertaining (and being entertained) lately, so this evening is some of the first time I’ve had for writing in a week or so. Last weekend I was over on Stuart Island, at my friend Marc’s annual birthday shin-dig: ten friends, 56 unique wines (most in magnum), four days, and a 65 pound whole pig roasted Cuban-style in an above-ground pit made of 48 cinder blocks, steel pipe, rebar, and diamond-wire mesh. I rented a small boat from the folks at Mitchell Bay Landing and buzzed over to Stuart, a very pleasant crossing. The boat was a bit small for the return trip, given the waves and the wind, but I made it just fine and felt very Scandinavian the whole way, spray in my face and the boat bouncing around on the waves.

Our friend Paul Costigan, lately of Coi Restaurant (see my review back in June) and formerly the manager of Rare Wine Company in Sonoma, stayed over on Stuart for a few days after we all left for some autumn solitude. He came over on a water taxi on Wednesday, and Madden (at Steps, in Friday Harbor), made a terrific meal at which we drank a 1996 Leflaive Puligny AOC and a beautiful (but fully mature) 1964 Rioja Alta. Paul stayed the night and then grabbed the taxi back in the morning, in time for my friends Ron and Miki to arrive from Seattle.

Ron is preparing to walk the Shikoku Pilgrimage in Japan, leaving next week and returning in early December. This is a route which covers 88 temples on the island of Shikoku in Japan. This is a long-term goal for Ron, so I’m glad he’s got a chance to do it. We did some training hikes here on San Juan, including a terrific walk around the rocks and headlands at South Beach, and made some terrific food. They left this afternoon, and I’ve got a couple of days before heading off to see my friend Larry for a bit.

So I’m relaxing with a book, a glass of Tempier Rose, and enjoying a perfectly clear but chilly fall afternoon. The deck is permeated with the scent of woodsmoke from my stove, I’m softening a bunch of sun-dried tomatos in a dish on top of the woodstove, and everything is perfect. I’m reading the last of Christopher Hill (at long last), diving into Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle as my fiction bed-time reading again, and just picked up Jan Narveson’s classic The Libertarian Idea at Serendipity (which I think is the best bookstore in the San Juans). More on the latter in a future post.

Tomorrow it’s back to work on the house, and hopefully stacking the first load of my winter firewood.

A quick update…

I have to apologize for my lack of posting.  Between house stuff in Seattle, and finishing the unpacking up north, I haven’t had much to say lately.  This morning I’m headed up to Stuart IslandDsc_0035 (across the channel and west a bit) to visit some friends, and since it’s one of the islands without ferry service (or other utilities), I’ve rented a boat from Mitchell Bay Landing for a few days.  I’m hoping to get a picture of the house from the water later this morning, before heading up.

The painters are (nearly) done and office furniture arrived this Monday, so I’ve been able to begin the final unpacking of boxes and books.  The office is shaping up nicely and already I’m spending more time there than camped out at the dining room table, which passed for an office previously.  It’s nice to be unpacking all the books now that the walls are (nearly) finished; for one thing it’s great to have my books available, and I have to admit it was getting old pawing around stacks of boxes in the garage.  Soon I’ll be able to empty out the garage enough to actually park a car in there. 

The weather has turned decidedly chilly and grey, and it’s clear that autumn is really here.  There are still sunny days, but they’re accompanied by chillier temperatures and a bit of wind.  A hard rain last night prompted me to finally take down the umbrella on the deck furniture, and I suspect that evenings spent sitting on the deck will be much fewer now, and mostly accompanied by sweaters and long pants, rather than my usual shorts.

But the autumn has its compensations; the island is getting a bit quieter, and within a few weeks the tourist traffic will probably be down to a slow trickle.  In a week or so my firewood will get delivered, and then I can start having a nice fire whenever it’s cold in the house. 

I’ll be back next week with more.