What’s Your Story?

If you have no story to tell, something, somewhere, isn’t quite right.

Not a day passes that we don’t experience something worth sharing, whether it’s something we observed, something we heard, something we participated in, something we remembered from the past, or even something we are planning for or dreaming of in the future. We all have a story to share.

If we feel we have nothing worthwhile to share is it because we are sitting idle, waiting for life to happen? Do we wait for other people for the company, or to have enough time, or enough money in order to acquire experiences we feel are worthy of sharing? Do we dare not to dream because we fear we’ll never be in a position of “doing”? If this, in any respect, is the case, our story, presently, is a tragedy.

Scarlette Begonia

One of the best storytellers of the day is Casey Neistat, filmmaker and vlogger. He recently traveled to Madrid for a speaking engagement. During his vlog shot from there, in a moment of reminiscence, he recounted the story of his first trip to Spain; he was young, still a teenager, with a young child to support, he worked as a dishwasher. Yet, he managed to set aside enough of a small sum of money that he could manage to pay for a trip to Europe with his older brother. Casey’s story was a reflection of his priorities; he still supported his child, he worked very hard, and saved diligently, and he traveled and experienced, that he’d have life experiences to grow from and stories to share. He had very little time and he had very little money, but his passion for life and experience inspired him to find a way. Because of his commitment to experience and to storytelling, he has followed his passion into a self-made career as an independent filmmaker and YouTube artist.

There is a way, but it won’t likely come find us while we sit idle and wait. We must pursue, we must go forth, if we want amazing adventures to tell tale of.

And yet, stories don’t have to be of an epic adventure to be worthy of telling. Some of the best stories are relatable because they are ordinary events, just well told and joyfully shared.

Scarlette Begonia

If we feel we have nothing worthwhile to share, is it because we don’t have the confidence to think others will find value in what we have to tell. This, too, would make our story a bit of a tragedy. Almost any story told with confidence and passion is worthwhile. There is humor, there are observations, there are plenty a worthy tale that can stem from the most mundane of events. The success of a story has only a little to do with content and much more to do with delivery and with engagement, which stems wholly from confidence.

Confidence, much like working very hard at a job and diligently saving money for a trip to Europe, takes commitment and practice and fortitude. And confidence will serve us well in every aspect of life. Confidence is a practice, like yoga or tai chi or ballet, like singing or playing the violin, once proficient, there is always another level of excellence to achieve. It is infinite. But confidence is critical, it is a life force.

Scarlette Begonia

And even with experiences to share and the confidence to tell them, there will be the few who will still not hear, will not listen, and this is never a reflection on the story or the storyteller. As much as storytelling is an art, so, too, is listening. The best storytellers are the best listeners; the best listeners are the best storytellers. As author Bryant H. McGill has been quoted, “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” Every story, every tale, every storyteller, will have a critic, too, from time to time. The quality of our story does not rely on the reaction of the listener, but the joy it brings us to tell and to those who truly hear. Do not be discouraged by those unwilling to hear, it is their loss, completely.

I often share stories of my simple, little life. In some cases, when I have an attentive audience, I feel I can tell the greates tale. Other times, when my audience isn’t connected or focused or willing, I struggle to even form intelligible sentences. I was, the other day, at the salon for my brow and bikini wax and as the hot wax was slathered on and the cool wax ripped off, I shared my tales of the weeks since my last visit. Here, I always find the perfect audience. May I suggest, if you struggle to find a willing audience with whom to share your stories, I have found the very best listeners, of all time, to be aestheticians. I have never had an aesthetician who wasn’t a great listener, who didn’t respond in all the right ways to all the stories I have to share. Your aesthetician, if you’re into bikini waxes, knows you in a way even your doctor doesn’t. There is a level of familiarity and intimacy with your aesthetician that can hardly be duplicated with anyone. I can get smooth and pretty and practice my craft of storytelling! Just thought I’d share.

Scarlette Begonia

Storytelling is a very large part of life; books, songs, movies, dance, photography, television shows, art, and poetry, are all just stories arranged into various mediums. Stories fill our every day, and, true, while many make a profession of telling a story, in one form or another, the rest of us are no less capable. We need only experiences to share and the confidence to express ourselves, and, we too, can tell a story!

So, what is your story?

Scarlett’s Letter October 12, 2013

What an outstanding and amazing day!

After my evening with Mom last night, and her temporary hearing loss, I was a little hesitant to leave her for the better part of the weekend, but as I only planned on being an hour or so away, and could be back to assist, if need be, in fairly short order, she encouraged me to go. We figured, if worse came to worse, she could call me and speak to me, she just wouldn’t be able to hear me, but I would drop whatever I was doing and be on my way.

My day started early, as planned. I left the house at about 5:00 AM and headed for the river for a fifteen and a half mile run with my running club. If you asked me to sit down and design the most perfect day and setting for a nice, long run, I couldn’t have come up with anything better than what we had today. It was cool to begin, not cold, but cool enough that I hesitated to take my hoodie off. Once we got moving, though, it was perfect. The day warmed as the sun continued to rise above the golden leafed trees. The river sparkled and glinted in the slanted sunlight, reflecting the golden hue of the rays that filtered through the autumn colored trees. It was a good run, and nearly as hard as it sounds, fifteen and a half miles. It was rewarding and I’m confident that my mid-week workouts are benefiting me well.

I made plans with one of my favorite Meet-Up groups, the “Forty-Something Women’s Group”, happy hour and the “Second Saturday” art walk. Obviously, after running fifteen and a half miles I was not happy hour/art walk ready. It would be completely crazy to drive all the way back to Napa, shower, change and drive back to Sacramento for an evening out with the girls, only to drive back to Napa, again. I decided to use one of my abundant “free” hotel reward nights. Our happy hour and art walk event were to focus in the Midtown Sacramento area, so I booked myself a room immediately across the street from Capitol Park, where the State Capitol building resides. Brilliant, I know.

After my run, I grabbed a couple of street tacos at Rubio’s, which were good, but as soon as I headed downtown, I regretted. There are so many fantastic restaurants in Midtown, I could certainly have found something amazing to gnaw on, instead. But, then again, I spent $4 on lunch. I checked in to my hotel and took a nice, long shower. I had the luxury of getting ready as slowly as I liked. I had plenty of time before happy hour and just enjoyed the ritual a girl has in getting all ready for an evening. No one to rush me, no one to sit impatiently nearby knowing better than to rush me. I don’t really like being alone, a lot, but now and again, especially for a “girls’ night” the solitude is replete.

Even with abundant time well spent, I was ready a full hour and a half before I needed to be. It would’ve been tragic to just sit about inside my hotel room on such a splendid Sacramento day, so, I took to the streets. Having lived in this area for thirty some years before my recent return to my hometown, Napa, I’ve seen Sacramento change, considerably, for the better. Today, I decided to be a “tourist in my own town”, a pastime I definitely recommend to anyone, anywhere. I walked out into the warm, sunny afternoon, across the street, with no real plan, direction or agenda. I only knew that at 5:00 PM I needed to be at Zocalo’s a few blocks away to meet up with everyone.

As I meandered down the sidewalk I spotted the rose garden in Capitol Park, and so, I crossed the street and wandered around there for a bit. I don’t know what it is about capitol buildings, but I never cease to be attracted to them. The history, the stature, the architecture, I love it all.

Midtown Sacramento, as I mentioned, has no shortage of restaurants. It is the “it” neighborhood, these days, and full of life. Most of the houses are neat, tidy, landscaped and, apparently, well loved and a source of pride. The few houses that aren’t quite as well kept actually look like they are occupied by the younger, trendier, artsier types, for whom I have respect, admiration and a wee bit of jealousy. Art abounds, here, too. I took it all in, without entering any shops or galleries, I was saving all that for later, with the girls. I just walked.

Since I was in the neighborhood, again, having a history of my own here, and always being attracted to historical sights, in general, and, more specifically, mine, I headed to the site where the Sigma Chi fraternity house had been back in the mid-1980’s. I was a Little Sister for Sigma Chi, the charter year, and have many found, though, perhaps blurry, memories of those days. I wasn’t sure if I’d find the house standing, or replaced with some other structure. It’s been a while. As I rounded the corner, there it stood, and about as run down and beleaguered as I remember it. I was happy to find it there, like a touchstone of my youth. The Lambda Chi house was still standing, next door, though equally dilapidated. Some things, I guess, don’t change, or change more slowly.

At 5:00, I made my way to Zocalo’s to meet the ladies, have a couple of drinks and another couple of street tacos. I spent $4 on food and $20 on two glasses of wine. Oh well, I guess I have my priorities straight! I didn’t settle for the house wine, but, instead, had the Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon, one of my “staples”. Good stuff.

With the “Meet-Up” concept, you go online, find activities that interest you, and sign up for groups that participate in those activities. There are “Meet-Ups” everywhere, nationwide. I belong to several; a salsa dancing Meet-Up, a pole dancing Meet-Up, a hiking and adventure Meet-Up, a women’s wine-tasting Meet-Up and this Forty-Something Women’s Meet-Up, which is my favorite. By far. I’ve been participating as much as I can with my travels, and now the distance I live from the group. It took a few events before I really felt like I fit in, before I was recognized, but that is true of any social group. This group has been, by far, the most welcoming and warm of any I’ve participated in. Now that I’ve been around for a couple of years, even though not always present, I am greeted with enthusiasm and joy, which, of course, is returned in kind. There are always new ladies in attendance, too, and I do my best to make them feel immediately welcome and to get to know them. I do love meeting new people!

There were probably about fifteen of us in all, and after a couple of drinks and a bite to eat, we took to the streets to find art. Second Saturday is a tradition in the Greater Sacramento Metropolitan Area, actually encompassing all of the unincorporated areas, suburbs, neighboring towns and even neighboring counties. The galleries all stay open into the night, many offering music and wine and food. It is a lovely way to enjoy art and to visit different parts of town. Midtown, though, as I mentioned, is definitely the “it” area, these days, so Second Saturday is a bit more of a spectacle. There are people in the streets and in every empty lot, open-air art marts, demonstrations, live music, and all kinds of activity. The bars and restaurants are all brimming full, and, as the weather is perfect, the sidewalks act as added seating areas for most of the restaurants and bars and even some of the art galleries. It is almost carnival-like.

We make our way through one gallery. That’s it. One. Then, somehow, we end up at a Turkish bar/hookah bar, where we had Turkish beer, Turkish wine, and, for most of us, our first hookah experience. It was outrageous fun and I’m glad to have that crossed of my bucket list. I don’t see it as a regular indulgence, but I’m glad to have experienced it, and especially with such a fun-loving group of women. We laughed so hard I think the twenty-something’s that surrounded us were, perhaps, a tad bit jealous!

In our advanced years, at “forty-something”, our energy was beginning to flag a bit. We forced ourselves to one more pub, had a beer, stifling yawns, and decided to call it a night. I think it was, perhaps, midnight, I don’t know for certain. It wasn’t too terribly late, and, as luck would have it, our final pub was two doors down from my hotel. I was so happy to crawl into my king-sized bed and sleep off that fifteen and a half mile run, the wine, more wine, the hookah and the beer.

Morning will come quickly, I’m sure. I have big plans for the day, tomorrow. First and foremost, I’d planned on brunch at a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try, the Firestone Public House. In chatting with one of the “new” ladies, she asked where the Firestone Public House was, in relation to where we had happy hour. I told her where it was and that I planned on having brunch there. She will be joining me! I don’t mind dining alone, if necessary, but I am so happy to have company and conversation!

As I see it, in our effort to evolve into the people we want and deserve to be, we have choices. So often I hear folks complain that they don’t have friends available to go do things with, that they spend their free time at home, watching TV. That, I’m sorry, is a choice. There are so many opportunities out there to meet people, like-minded people, to have experiences, to meet even more people. There are as many opportunities to enjoy the sights and the surroundings alone, on occasion, too. Never let being momentarily solitary cause you to feel like you aren’t welcomed in public. I spend more time alone in public places, enjoyably, than I do at home. I relish a public place where I can be around people, perhaps strike up a conversation, have a glass of wine, a pint of beer, a cup of coffee, or just sit and read, write, or dunce around on the internet, all things I could do at home, but that I often find more fun in public. We shouldn’t overlook opportunities to get out of our rut, our routine, our family room and our TV ritual. Be inspired, be empowered, there is life outside the front door, down the street, in your town, or, maybe even the next town over. Just think of all you may be missing by staying home, comfortable in your sweats, catching that show you could just as easily record and watch later, after having gone out into the world to live life. Enjoy!

What Once Was Lost Now is Found

I have a confession to make. I lost something. It wasn’t just something, it was a handmade gift. I didn’t lose the whole thing, just one quarter of it, but without that one quarter, it wasn’t just incomplete, it wasn’t whole. I felt terrible. This was so unlike me, I’m quite careful about such things. You could even say compulsive. Perhaps even anal.

I became aware of my loss when my cousin, an artist, last visited. We got onto the topic of skulls as art, and ethnic and tribal art over lunch. I mentioned that my son’s former girlfriend was an artist and had made and given to me, as a gift, four hand etched tiles that, when placed together, made a skull. When we returned to the house, I went upstairs to retrieve the tiles from where they are carefully displayed on my small bookcase by my window to show my cousin. I have them stacked, dead in the center. The bookcase is out of the way and doesn’t get much traffic, so, doesn’t get bumped or knocked. I figured it would be a safe location for the tiles. When I took them downstairs to spread out onto the kitchen table, there were only three tiles. I ran back upstairs and looked and looked and looked for the fourth tile. I looked behind the bookcase, in case the tile had fallen. I looked all around the bookcase and even inside the books to make sure it hadn’t fallen between two, or within one. No tile. My mom was pretty insistent that it must be on the floor behind the bookcase, but I’d looked, and it wasn’t. The tiles are heavy enough that I couldn’t imagine the lace curtain on the window next to the bookcase, even in a hurricane force wind, being capable of knocking a tile off the top of the bookcase. I was certain that, in my move, I’d neglected to unwrap the tile from the U-Haul wrapping paper I buy, by the box, with each and every relocation. I know I’d wrapped the tiles with my other “treasures”, usually the last things to get packed, and after riding in my car or in the front seat of the moving van, they are the first to get unloaded and the first to get unpacked. I rooted through a couple of boxes still lingering around, but found no tile. I was now afraid I’d tossed the tile out with some of the wrapping paper. I felt a little sick.

I considered sending a Facebook message to the artist and giver of the gift, telling her of my loss and asking her if she could recreate the one tile, for which I’d be happy to pay. I delayed. Or procrastinated. Or chickened out. I felt careless. As I said, this is not like me. I’m quite particular about such things, and I have considerable experience moving, I just don’t lose things in the process of moving. I mean, you should see how I pack and label boxes, you’d understand.

The other day, weeks after the discovery of my loss, after wine tasting, so a little buzzed, I was rooting around behind a small, upholstered chair, in my room, near the bookcase I had the tiles on. I was in search of something unrelated. I keep caboodles and other tidy containers of things like hair accessories and gloves, sunglasses and nail polish, under the chairs, out of sight, but close at hand. There, on the floor, behind the chair, upside down, was the missing tile, unbroken. Intact. I was so relieved, I did a little happy dance and reunited the piece with the rest of the set, which had been moved to another location, further from the window. The tiles are now spread out rather than stacked, defeating, or at least mitigating, the force of gravity that apparently displaced the reclaimed tile.

What once was lost, now is found. My tile art pieces are joined together once again.
What once was lost, now is found. My tile art pieces are joined together once again. Artwork by the talented Kayla Verseput.

What other things of value have we lost? Whether out of neglect, carelessness, or just with the passage of time. Are there things in life we’ve lost that we’d dearly love to find, to reclaim, a treasure of some sort? Not knick-knacks or pieces of art, not tangible items, but things more valuable, things that are, perhaps even, priceless. Perhaps our self-confidence, our ability to trust, faith, our health, love, our purpose, our ability to forgive, hope, our energy, enthusiasm, passion, courage, our integrity, our inspiration, motivation, our self-esteem.

Like the tile, we may not even realize what’s missing until we need it, until we go in search of it. The discovery of our loss, though far greater in magnitude than my tile, will cause a sense of panic, of confusion and even sorrow and despair. We will wonder how we could have displaced something of such value, something that money cannot replace.

We will spend time trying to figure out how, or even if, we can possibly regain what has been lost. We may feel despair at the thought, or, in some cases, the certainty, that it cannot. At this point, many falter and resign to the loss. Then, and only then, does the loss become real and certain.

Recognizing the loss is our first step. Coming to terms with it helps us begin to take the steps to find what once was ours. We can begin to plan, to set goals, to move in the direction of restoration. We can find our inspiration, foster our motivation. Be assured, that once we have found again what was lost, whether self-confidence, our ability to trust, faith, our health, love, our purpose, our ability to forgive, hope, our energy, enthusiasm, passion, or our self-esteem, it may seem different than in its original form, it will likely be much better. At the very least, we will have a better appreciation and more respect for it. We will take better measures to safeguard it, to care for it, to keep it, much like the tiles on my shelf.

What once was lost, now is found. What you have lost, you too can find, you need only to keep searching, it’s there, I assure you.

Scarlett’s Letter August 15, 2013

I made it to an advanced yoga class this morning, it was exhilarating. I’ll be feeling it, for sure, for the next couple of days. Very worth the effort of getting up early, getting things together and heading out the door before work.

This evening was the “Dress to the Vines” event at Jessup Cellars Gallery. Mom and I got all gussied up and set out a bit on the early side. Mom stresses out a little about “traffic”. I find it amusing. At every stop light, if there are more than three cars, she exclaims “Here they all are!” I will sometimes alter my route for dense traffic, in a large city I am well acquainted with, where I know I can a) save significant time and/or b) I can keep moving. There is something about keeping moving, even if it adds a minute or two to the overall travel time, that I find preferable. In Napa? Traffic worth a detour? Joke.

So we arrived at the winery, which is twenty minutes from our house, oh, about an hour early. They closed two minutes before our arrival to prepare for the event, so we couldn’t even go in and have a glass of wine while we waited. It was hot out and even hotter in Mom’s “air conditioned” car. The A/C works on the passenger side, but not on the driver’s side. And she has leather seats. I needed another shower. I sweat more on the twenty minute drive to the winery than I did in an hour and a half of strenuous “advanced” yoga in a heated studio.

We sought respite with a cold beer in the bar of a popular Yountville restaurant across the street. Redd Wood. Mom has been wanting to try it, but after our visit, I’m not so sure. She thought it was ugly inside. I rather liked it, I thought the architecture, design and decor were pretty cool.  The menu looked great, too. She couldn’t understand the layout or why there were so many employees and no guests. It was 5:03 PM. The bartender said they were booked solid every night, beginning at about 7:00. I’m going back.

Salumi, cheese and wine before the event at Jessup Cellars.
Salumi, cheese and wine before the event at Jessup Cellars.

We ventured back across the street a few minutes before the event was scheduled to start. We were the first to arrive. By far. I felt a little awkward noshing on all the cheese and salumi before any other guests arrived. But we did. And had our first glass of wine. After our beer. We made conversation with all the winery and gallery folks we saw the day before, again, being made to feel very welcomed. The panelists were all there and one of the women looked very, very familiar. In a state with nearly forty million residents and God only knows how many tourists, this time of year, what are the chances?

People began to arrive and stood around chatting with one another with apparent familiarity. Mom wanted to sit, so they let her into the gallery a bit early to choose a seat. I mingled a little longer in the tasting room and then joined Mom in the gallery. The panelist speakers and the moderator were going over some last minute details. It was the moderator that looked familiar, she looked like the mothers of one of the Boy Scouts in a troop I helped lead in a Sacramento suburb several years ago. What are the chances? Finally, I could stand it no longer. Yup, it was her, Melissa Haines, a Wine Consultant based in Sacramento. What a small world.

Wearable art - Jessup Cellars Gallery
Wearable art – Jessup Cellars Gallery
Wearable art - Jessup Cellars Gallery
Wearable art – Jessup Cellars Gallery
Wearable art - Jessup Cellars Gallery
Wearable art – Jessup Cellars Gallery
Wearable art - Jessup Cellars Gallery
Wearable art – Jessup Cellars Gallery

The gallery had been transformed over night; new pieces had been brought in, featuring “wearable” art by Cynthia Carey, Rory Castillo, and Cari Borja. Tables had been set up with notes to review and three wine glasses for some pairings for each guest. Since the theme was fashion, there were a couple of models in gorgeous gowns designed by Colleen Quen of San Francisco, one in the color of champagne, the other in the color of a rich, red wine. The speakers on the panel were all women, Mary Olin, the Wine Fashionista from the Huffington Post, Kaye Cloutman, Editor in Chief of a GEV (Gastronomique en Vogue) magazine and Karri Grant, Consulting Fashion Stylist from Sacramento.  Personally, I loved the “Sacramento” influence here tonight. Way to represent! Sacramento is on the map, make no doubt.

Panelists for Defining Wine Country Fashion: The Who, How, When with Masters of Wine Fashion
Panelists for Defining Wine Country Fashion: The Who, How, When with Masters of Wine Fashion

An Effort to Evolve

Panelists Kaye Cloutman, Editor in Chief of a GEV (Gastronomique en Vogue) magazine and Karri Grant, Consulting Fashion Stylist from Sacramento.
Panelists Kaye Cloutman, Editor in Chief of a GEV (Gastronomique en Vogue) magazine and Karri Grant, Consulting Fashion Stylist from Sacramento.

The highlight of the panelist discussions, for me, was the wine and scent pairing conducted by Mary Orlin. Generally, fragrance and wine are mutually exclusive. Fragrances worn will influence the olfactory senses when tasting wines. So much so, that tasting room personnel are “forbidden” to wear fragrances while working. So to deliberately pair wine and fragrance was sort of a departure from tradition. We were given test strips with different fragrances created by Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studio to pair with selected Jessup Cellars wines. There were two fragrances for each of the three wines, and they were selected specifically to enhance the unique characteristics and qualities of each wine. Rob Lloyd, the winemaker for Jessup Cellars was on hand to further narrate the pairings. Fascinating and delicious, in every respect. What a divine olfactory experience!

Mary Orlin, Wine Fashionista, Huffington Post - Wine and Perfume Pairing
Mary Orlin, Wine Fashionista, Huffington Post – Wine and Perfume Pairing
Strong fragrances and wine tasting do not mix. Notice, in most tasting rooms, the flowers are not fragrant, by design.
Strong fragrances and wine tasting do not mix. Notice, in most tasting rooms, the flowers are not fragrant, by design.
Mary Orlin, Wine Fashionista, Huffington Post - Wine and Perfume Pairing
Mary Orlin, Wine Fashionista, Huffington Post – Wine and Perfume Pairing
Mary Orlin, Wine Fashionista, Huffington Post - Wine and Perfume Pairing
Mary Orlin, Wine Fashionista, Huffington Post – Wine and Perfume Pairing
Mary Orlin, Wine Fashionista, Huffington Post - Wine and Perfume Pairing
Mary Orlin, Wine Fashionista, Huffington Post – Wine and Perfume Pairing
Mary Orlin, Wine Fashionista, Huffington Post - Wine and Perfume Pairing
Mary Orlin, Wine Fashionista, Huffington Post – Wine and Perfume Pairing

What struck me the most, though, about the whole event, was the fact that the panelists, the moderator, the designer, the winemaker, the artists and the curator of the museum, are all self-defined people. Each very confident, each very powerful, and each a pioneer in their respective fields. They each transformed their passion into their livelihood, their career. They created their own niche, their own market, their own following because of their passion, their confidence and their willingness to step over boundaries and obstacles to make their way. They each evolved, with significant, individual effort, based on their passions, their goals, and their commitment to those passions and goals, into confident and fulfilled leaders within their fields. This epitomizes the possibility and opportunity each and every one of us have, if only we endeavor to focus on our passion, commit to our goals, and make the effort to evolve into who we deserve to be.

Scarlett’s Letter August 14, 2013

I ran this morning! According to plan! Yay for me!

I set out about an hour later than I would’ve liked. I arrived at the “dog park”, where I park my car, just in time to see the hot air balloons being packed up. Though I’ve seen it all before, I’d love to see them landing. That will be my goal, to begin running early enough in the morning to see the hot air balloons in flight.

Happy Winesday! I decided I needed to go tasting at Napa Cellars and Folie a Deux (same place) because I happen to be a fan of Ménage a Trois (still the same place), a Trinchero Family Estates brand. I actually have a YouTube video project under way involving Ménage a Trois and thought a little visit, in person, was warranted. My life sucks, not. As a Napa resident, I have license (as in my drivers license) to taste for free at many, many wineries and tasting rooms in the Valley. So, when I’m sitting home with my workout done, my work done and nothing better to do, I just go wine tasting. It’s cheaper than drinking wine at home. Sucks to be me. Not.

The offering at Napa Cellars/Folie a Deux today were excellent. I took Mom along with me, I had to twist her arm. No, I didn’t, she is a willing accomplice. Their tasting consists of three wines from one winery or the other, Napa Cellars, obviously, being Napa wines. Folie a Deux are Sonoma wines. With my accomplice, we were both able to taste all six. The pours were not terribly generous, but there was (just) enough that we could both get the gist of the wine.  I selected the Napa Cellars selections and Mom, the Folie a Deux. We’d taste, then swap glasses. This is kosher in the Valley, in case you’re wondering. I tasted the Napa Cellars 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, the 2012 Pinot Noir and the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon. Mom had the Folie a Deux 2012 Chardonnay from the Russian River, the 2011 Merlot from the Alexander Valley and the 2011 Zinfandel from the Dry Creek Valley. Al fantastic. I headed home with a bottle of the Zinfandel and a unique bottle opener in the form of a high heel shoe, with red soles (swoon). I have a penchant for unique bottle openers. I had to buy it while Mom was otherwise occupied.

Finished with our three ounces of wine, we headed south on Highway 29 and Mom jokingly asked if we could take in another winery. At least I thought she was joking, until we got to the traffic light at the north end of Yountville and she mused aloud, “I imagine there must be a tasting room in Yountville.” Okay, I turned left and almost immediately passed Jessup Cellars. They were on the other side of the street with diagonal parking out front, not easy to access in a larger compact car on a narrower street. I headed into Yountville to turn around and to do a quick Google search to be sure Jessup Cellars participated in the “Napa Neighbors” program, which they do. I made my way all the way through town again, which takes about thirty seconds even observing the posted speed limit. We parked out front and found the appropriate door. There were several, all with arrows pointing the THE Tasting Room entryway. We were greeted inside, immediately, by a nice young man who sort of reminded me of Cory Montief in appearance. He inquired whether we wanted to taste, and as the tasting room was full, offered us a seat in the gallery for our first, very generous pour. Mom was relieved to sit, and when space was available in the tasting room, when hospitably offered, she chose to remain seated. Chris, the young man who’d greeted and seated us, brought each of the five listed selections to us along with crackers and, yes, even chocolate. He took very good care of us. The gallery itself was very attractive with wonderful selections displayed on the walls. Chris informed us they were beginning an installation of new art, presently, for an event this weekend, beginning tomorrow night. The gallery was abuzz, people milled about, adding and removing pieces of art. Several other cellar/gallery employees and associates stopped by to chat hospitably. We sat, drank fantastic wine, chatted with everyone who passed, enjoyed chocolate and thought about just moving in. Or maybe asking for a job application. This has been, by far, our best wine tasting experience, of many. So far. It will be hard to beat. I may even switch wine clubs. I can only afford one.

One of the artists, Cynthia Carey, who also oversees the gallery and selects the other artists shown, stopped by for a chat, as well. We were offered the “wine club” discount for tickets for the event tomorrow night, “Dressing to the Vines”. Wine, fashion and art. So, we have tickets. A nice gentleman brought his MacBook over and placed it in front of me so I could order my tickets, online, with the discount code, right there. How nice was that? By this point, Chris had brought out the port for us to taste, which was, as I like to say, a “bonus” wine, as in, not on the tasting list. I am not generally a fan of port, Madeira or other “dessert” wines, but, as these things go, it was quite palatable. Of course, by this time, I’d had eight pours. So, who knows!

I am so excited, even after nine tastings, I hope I am capable of sleep tonight! I am really looking forward to tomorrow’s event. And, as it involves fashion, I have visions of dresses from my closet spinning through my head. I am so grateful for my recent, frivolous spending on dresses and shoes, I actually have options! Glee!

I am capping off my evening by sitting on the front porch, drinking a big glass of water and finishing up a few articles. The next-door neighbors’ little girls are splashing around in their kiddie pool on the lawn. The parents are chatting with families that pass with their little ones. I was a little one in this neighborhood once. My, my. Make the most of every moment.

 

I arrived at the park where I start my run just as the hot air balloons were being packed up and onto awaiting trucks. Must be earlier.
I arrived at the park where I start my run just as the hot air balloons were being packed up and onto awaiting trucks. Must be earlier.

 

The only moose you'll find in the Napa Valley.
The only moose you’ll find in the Napa Valley.

 

How was your run this morning? Mine was awesome!
How was your run this morning? Mine was awesome!

 

Nothing better to do. Guess I'll go wine tasting! Napa Cellars and Folie a Deux (and Menage a Trois). I see begonias!
Nothing better to do. Guess I’ll go wine tasting! Napa Cellars and Folie a Deux (and Menage a Trois). I see begonias!

 

A Scarlett size bottle of Menage a Trois!
A Scarlett size bottle of Menage a Trois!

 

Self explanatory. A sign.
Self explanatory. A sign.

 

Jessup Cellars. Tastings were generous, everyone was very hospitable.
Jessup Cellars. Tastings were generous, everyone was very hospitable.

 

We even got chocolates!
We even got chocolates!

 

Begonias!
Begonias!

 

Look, I even took notes. Only I know what they all mean.
Look, I even took notes. Only I know what they all mean.

 

 

 

 

Scarlett’s Letter August 1, 2013

Just your basic day. I didn’t have a training or consulting assignment today, so I dabbled with this and that for work. My cousin was to stop by to pick up some items from Mom to sell at her next garage sale. Mom and I are both trying to lighten our load a little, and my cousin loves to find and sell things at her frequent garage sales. It works out well for all involved.

I have a collection of cousins, on both sides of the family, Mom’s side and Dad’s side. I have always cherished my cousins. As an only child my cousins were the closest thing I ever had to siblings. My parents married a little later in life and, so, I came along later than my first cousins. My first cousins, on my dad’s side are a little older than me, my second cousins are actually right around my age. Not that this matters, they’re all fantastic. My cousin who visited today has been an absolute Godsend. As I travel about the country for work, since she lives only about twenty or thirty minutes away, she has been there, when needed, when I couldn’t be. During my dad’s illness preceding his death, she was available at a moment’s notice to drive, to assist, and to support. I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for this.

Now that my dad has passed and Mom has her own health challenges, and my schedule, even when not traveling, can be somewhat unpredictable, my cousin makes herself available to drive my mom to her appointments in the neighboring town. Mom is okay driving to the clinic, locally, but the one in the next town is, now, a rather daunting trip for her, alone. If I am home, and not on a conference call, I will tag along. Any time my cousin visits, there will usually be a lunch out. And even though today’s visit was not related to a doctor’s visit, we had our lunch out.

Lunches out, Mom, my cousin and myself, have become a “tradition” that I truly appreciate and enjoy. Three ladies, three generations, enjoying food, drink and conversation. We carefully select our lunch venue and ponder our menu choices aloud, almost in collaboration. My cousin appreciates food much as I do, as more than just nourishment, but as art, as an expression and something worthy of being photographed before being savored.

My cousin is, and has always been, an artist and is extremely creative. Both a painter and a photographer, she sees art in almost everything. I see it, too, but haven’t made art so much a part of my identity as she has. She is gifted, talented, and insightful. I just see neat things and take pictures of them with my iPhone. There are many family resemblances, that now seem to be manifesting, or, at least, we are becoming aware of them; certain preferences in color, in style, in fashion, in architecture, landscaping, and in the art that is just inherent in our surroundings. And a certain joie de vie.

Conversations that unfold between us reveal many alignments and I find this fascinating. As a child, of course, these similarities were not so apparent. She was the mother of the (second) cousins with whom I played and with whom I got into considerable trouble. But now, myself being middle aged, the playing field is a bit more leveled, if you will, and I am discovering more about myself with each opportunity for a visit.

After a fantastic lunch today, at Cielito Lindo in downtown Napa, having passed one of our favorite boutiques on the way to our lunch destination, it was agreed we would stop in after dining. I’d spotted, and, yes, taken a picture of an adorable dress in the window. At Betty Girl’s Boutique, Kim, the owner (the boutique is named after her mother, Betty, who passed away some time ago), makes dresses out of vintage clothing, combining bodices and skirts, adding and removing elements and creating absolute magic. The dress in the window spoke to me. After lunch, I inquired about the dress. It was my size. With some encouragement from my cousin, only a wee bit of encouragement, I tried the dress on. It fit and was fabulous. I came out of the dressing room with some prompting, strutted, twirled and talked about where I’d wear this dream dress. My mom, the voice of practicality and reason, tried in her subtle way to dissuade me. My cousin said, “You’d be crazy not to buy the dress.” And so, I did. I am delighted. I am thrilled. There are pictures. And I now have three occasions to wear this fantastic, one of a kind dress! So, now, I find myself getting into considerable trouble with a cousin, yet again!

Sopes at Cielito Lindo in Napa. Delish!
Sopes at Cielito Lindo in Napa. Delish!
The dress in the window at Betty Girl's Boutique
The dress in the window at Betty Girl’s Boutique
The dress, on, at Betty Girl's Boutique
The dress, on, at Betty Girl’s Boutique
Poor, naked window mannequin at Betty Girl's Boutique
Poor, naked window mannequin at Betty Girl’s Boutique
The dress is in the bag!
The dress is in the bag!