Tuesday, 13 January 2009

The Adventure of Living Up Here

Everything is an adventure when you live here. Today the sky is grey with thick flakes floating down. Tonight the wind will pick up and the temperatures plummet. I hope that we don't end up with hydro wires down again.

I spent the first part of the morning taking my car to Chelsea to have the muffler re-installed or slung and the underside of the car oiled. Denis said when he drove me home, "My God, you really are out of the way. You have stepped back in time," and wondered how I managed.

Yesterday when I was going through the adventure of bottling the wine, I wondered how many more batches I would be able to do before the effort outweighed the advantages. Oh, when you go to DeFalco's all you see are old couples puttering about with their bottles and corks, so it is not that old folks can't make wine. The man bottling next to me had made special wooden cases with handles for his. I was envious, and I worried about the state of my cardboard cartons once they had endured the whole adventure.

This adventure began in early December when I started the two batches.

A week before I was to bottle I spent a morning washing and soaking the labels off six cases of bottles. I needed at least 60 but took an extra dozen just in case some were unsuitable.

The morning of the bottling I loaded three cases of empties on the sled and hauled them up the hill and then up the road for 1/4 kilometre to the car. After arranging them on the back seat, the dogs and I headed back down with the empty sled and repeated the process with the second set of three cases. Then I brought the dogs in and got ready to go to town.

The hour long drive to town was sane and simple and I arrived early. After getting a cart I loaded up the six cases and took them in to start the bottling process. First the sterilization, then the actual bottling and corking. Then the boxes were re-loaded onto the cart and taken out to the car, and I drove home with one abortive stop for wool at Wabi Sabi (they are closed on Mondays) and a fruitful one at the IGA at Farm Point for produce.

Then began the boxes' last trip through snow. I hoped they would all hold up. It is easier to bring full bottles back from the car to the house than empty bottles up to the car. It is all down hill, and even if you have to be a bit more careful to avoid upending the sled on the speedways, their weight acts as a steadying ballast. I made the first trip alone and the second with dogs.

Remi was so excited to see me that he made a leap at me when I was climbing the first steep hill with the sled. He landed heavily on my breast, almost pushing me all the way back down. As I scrambled to keep my footing on the slippery path I decided to teach him not to do that again because his owner will have very tender breasts when he is most excited about seeing her again. Later, on the second hill, he jumped up to give me a kiss and managed to bruise my lips with his skull. One more sharp reprimand and he settled down.

We got the second sled load of groceries and wine down without incident and I trucked them into the kitchen. I was too tired and hungry to do more than brush off snow before getting some lunch.

Then began the labeling. These labels were self adhesive peel-offs ... much easier than the old type I was used to, so that went well, except that there are six bottles of indeterminate type because I got some Shiraz mixed up with Amarone ... oh well, mystery red.

Shrink wrap next. Every time I do this I wonder whether to use a hair dryer, a kettle or a pot of boiling water. After trying all three (in the wrong order) I discovered that the pot of boiling water works best. One bottle made an alarming fizzing sound (likely over-filled) but the others were fine.

Last step, all the bottles went upstairs to the cool closet in my den. In the spring when the heat is turned off, they will make the return trip to the main floor where they will rest for the summer months before heading back upstairs for the last part of their year long sojourn.

I hope the boxes survive intact. I would sure like to make some of those wooden carrying cases.

I will likely make more wine in another couple of months. Maybe I can design and build the cases before those are ready for bottling. It might be an investment that would make the adventure a little more pleasant and secure.

Post Script:

Denis was supposed to come and get me at 4:30. The car was not ready and he couldn't get away and it was 7:30 when he drove through the blizzard on almost impassable roads to get me. He was really worried about my driving home ... but I managed ... almost all the way. I had to park at the junction of my road and the municipal road as my road was not plowed. I called Leonard to tell him that the key was in the car so he could move it to plow. He informed me that he had a slow leak in his tire and probably would not be plowing tonight.

Tomorrow is garbage day and they won't come up without a cleared road.

Dan is coming for Remi at 6:30 a.m. and will have to walk in through knee deep snow as I did.

I HAVE to get to the pharmacy because my prescription has run out. That will be relatively easy. I just have to dig out behind me where the municipal plow has gone by and back out.

Oh well ... what would I do without the problems that create the adventures I live with?

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