How great is this???Rain, fog, sleet, and snow right here in the North State! Most of us had forgotten what it was like, so those of us who spend time outdoors are like a bunch of kids strolling around oblivious to the cold and wet, trailing wet dogs, mud and cold drafts into the house behind us and generally making nuisances of ourselves to those trying to maintain some sense of cleanliness and order. The only real drawback is that so many folks have apparently misremembered everything they ever knew about driving automobiles under winter conditions, as well, and you feel (with some justification) that you're taking your life in your hands every time you venture onto the highways and byways of our little part of Paradise. But, in fairness, it's getting better now that we're into the third full week of the pattern; most who were going to have accidents have already had them. At any rate, we're spending most of our time sitting by the window where it's snug and warm, just catching up on stuff (like this) that we should have done several days back.
One upside to procrastinating, however, is that I still hadn't begun writing when the newest crop of clowns and bozos descended on the quiet little town of Burns, Oregon, which is almost close enough to be called a neighbor, allegedly in order to defend the freedoms and restore the rights of its citizens, who were, unbeknownst to most of them, being trampled on by that Great Satan, the federal government. What that means is that the self-styled "militiamen", led by the Bundy brothers who, along with their father Cliven, made news a couple of years back by facing off with the Feds at their ranch in Nevada over a little matter of roughly $1,000,000.00 in unpaid fees for many years of grazing their cattle on public lands. Apparently the Bundys feel entitled to use the people's lands for their own private benefit for free, and the government doesn't see it that way (nor do I, for that matter). Anyway, rather than make a fuss and cause bloodshed, the Feds backed off, the Bundys declared victory, and now believe that they're bullet-proof and can do anything they damn well please. Which brings us to the present day, with them and several dozen more of their ilk occupying a Federal nature sanctuary headquarters compound in southeastern Oregon, waving their guns around and claiming they're going to liberate the land. They also are claiming that they're communing with God, but that's another issue. Bottom line is that they're a bunch of thugs who have turned to domestic terrorism in order to try and further enhance their cowboy-welfare lifestyle (i.e. living off the American taxpayers), and the people of Burns want them out of their town and their lives. And it appears that the Harney County Sheriff, a plain-spoken man named David Ward, may be prepared to remove them and send them on their way if the Feds don't have the fortitude to do so. (The FBI says that it is "monitoring" the situation, but has somehow decided that it's a "local law enforcement problem" rather than theirs, which is strange given that the terrorists are unlawfully occupying a property belonging to the federal government and have declared that they are never leaving until the government surrenders ownership. Sounds like a federal problem to me, but what do I know).
Anyway, all this annoys the hell out of me. In the first place, I don't like bullies or terrorists of any race, creed, color, or persuasion, least of all home-grown ones who are supposed to know better. In the second place, I don't like bullies screwing around with my part of the world; I'm with Sheriff Ward. Let's get them out of there before they hurt someone, then lock'em up. Last I heard, threatening someone with physical harm or death is a crime and needs to be dealt with. Okay, enough for now.
A rare thing happened over Christmas: my mother-in-law, who drinks a total of maybe three bottles of wine a year, one glass at a time, presented me with several bottles that had been recommended to her by a clerk at her favorite Sacramento grocer's. Two were pinot noirs, which shall go un-named (sorry, Barbara), but one, a red "Rhone-ish blend", turned out to be an outstanding find. That wine is the 2012 Phantom, from Bogle Vineyards. Phantom is an interesting concoction of petite sirah (41%), zinfandel (31%), cabernet sauvignon (20%), and merlot (8%). Surprisingly, the cab is out front on the palate, providing lots of black cherry notes, and a leathery-dusty component in the nose. The zin and petite sirah contribute deep purple-black color and a jammy-briary rusticicity to the flavor profile that is perfect for winter stews, roasts, and soups. I didn't detect the presence of the merlot anywhere, but I didn't biss it either; don't know what it could have added to this really nice offering froma winery that we overlook too often here. We recommend it, particularly at the $17-21 price tag, depending on where you find it. More workingman's wine.
And, in closing, congratulations are due little Mt. Shasta City which, not surprisingly, sits at the foot of Mt. Shasta just outside the park entrance. A pretty, quaint and laid-back mountain village, it has just been named America's Top Hippie City for Stressed-Out Progressives by ReverbPress.com. This comes as no surprise to The Hillsider, being a close neughbor, but it may to some, especially given the fact that it topped such high-profile bastions of hipdom as Madison, Wisconsin, Ashland, Oregon, and Berkeley, not to mention Marfa,Texas and Madrid, New Mexico. Far out is right.
Later. Happy snow.
PS: Sorry, but ran out of time before I got to Zinfandel Grille (one of my favorite restaurants). Coming next...