Scarlett’s Letter November 29, 2013

Remember that list from a couple of weeks ago? The one I didn’t finish and would have to tackle when I returned from New York and San Francisco? I made a dent, today, I made a small dent in the list.

And, no, I still haven’t gone to storage to get the damned coffee grinder. I still have an unopened pound of Peet’s whole bean coffee in my cupboard in the garage and I am still frequenting the coffee shop a mile from the house. In fact, I am even “the mayor” of the Browns Valley Yogurt and Coffee Shop on Foursquare. True, I may be one of twelve people in Napa that uses Foursquare, I am likely the only Browns Valley Yogurt and Coffee Shop customer that does. I win. I rule.

The dent I made today, no, not my five expense reports, and I am beginning to stress a little about those. I really need to get them done. Oh, how I loathe doing expense reports, especially really big scary ones, like New York. Especially when the really big scary New York one contains a great deal of personal expense that has to be a) acknowledged and b) separated out from reimbursable expenses and c) paid for by me. The dent I made today was my room.

I moved “home” in February, it is November, and until late this afternoon, there have been boxes I have been shuffling about, opening, rummaging through, shuffling, and restacking, multiple times a day for things like underwear, socks, purses and shoes. The closet, as in only one, which, by the way, is way smaller than any closets, as in at least two, I’ve had in the past several years, has had several boxes of “things” that were Mom’s that she said were mine, or were, at least, mine to deal with. The dresser and dressing table drawers were all full of matter of questionable worth; old magazine articles, outdated maps and trinkets gifted over the years and kept out of duty rather than affection. On one of my trips, I made certain that no boxes blocked access to the drawers and Mom finally undertook the task of the dressing table first. Partially. Five of seven drawers are empty. And I am so hoping she doesn’t get her “sewing” drawer mixed up with my “toy” drawer, they are dangerously close to one another. But, girls, the toy drawer, like real estate, is all about location, location, location. Proximity matters. Mom doesn’t sew so much anymore anyway. Let’s hope.

The dresser was, at last, emptied, completely. The closet, again, was mine to deal with.

So, after a fast four-mile run to declutter my head, I spent a few hours decluttering my room. It was amazing. I liberated my purses and shoes, my underwear and lingerie and organized everything in a manner, though not perfect, a manner I am fairly certain I can tolerate for a bit. Two of the boxes in the closet I had to deal with contained framed pictures of my kids for all of time. I will never own a home large enough to display them all, so I think I’ll unframe them all, scan them, store them in an album and donate the frames. No dusting that way, either. You know I hate dusting.

The third box, a Rubbermaid tote, actually, a large Rubbermaid tote, I’ll add, was full of, and I kid not, old Martha Stewart Living magazines, Reader’s Digests and newspaper clippings. The minimalist within was apoplectic. I have been coexisting in a house where I know much of this matter resides. On one edge of the kitchen table, there is the one pile of mail and reminder notes written on tablets made from years and years of printed out Facebook pages. My dad would print out my Facebook wall for Mom to read, which I find painful to admit, and, yes, she still has them all, but has now cut them in half, put them in stacks and stapled them into “notepads”, which I find even more painful to admit. There are piles of newspapers and clipped out jumble puzzles on two of the four kitchen chairs. And, there is a pile or two of similar stuff, mostly mail, I think, downstairs in the family room. I don’t spend much time down there because the television is almost always on, usually on the news, and really, really loud, three things I am very sensitive to, so those stacks are out of sight and out of mind. The rest of the matter resides in drawers, closets, cupboards and boxes in the garage. I’m sure there are mountains of such matter and I know some day it will haunt me. But, there is no more such matter in my room. My room is matterless.

Oh, then there was the Fisher Price Family Farm, barn, silo and all the little animals. And the tractor with the cart. I played with it for a while, then placed it in the pile to go to storage. You do know it makes a mooing noise when you open and close the barn door, even still, after all these years in the back of the closet.

I have two boxes ready to go to charity, two marked “bathroom” left to unpack, but, no drawers in the bathroom have been afforded to me to unpack into, yet, and two boxes to go to storage. But, for all I did manage to unpack and the organization that took place is huge in enhancing my level of contentment at home, in my room. It is good.

And the day got even better!

This evening I met with my besties from all of time, Janelle, Janette, Eden and Gloria, for a multi-faceted celebration. We’ve all turned fifty now, as of Thanksgiving Day, with Janelle’s birthday, we are all now a half century old. The other celebration, Gloria’s victory over cancer.

A couple of Janelle’s friends joined us for the festivities, and every time the doorbell rang, more wine was produced. Janelle is a fabulous cook, her passion and her trade, and made us a fantastic Asian noodle salad. I asked if I could bring something and the option was left open, without a helpful suggestion, I could bring whatever, if I could think of something to go with Asian noodle salad, or nothing at all. I’m always a bit self-conscious about my prowess in the kitchen in Janelle’s company, so, I made the one thing I am really good at; a beer run. I brought a cold, mixed six-pack of premium porters, lagers and brown ales.

I started with an IPA, then the sparkling wine arrived, so I had some of that, too, simultaneously. Then the chilled Jessup Cellars white was opened, so I had some of that. With dinner, a Terra D’Oro red was uncorked, so, yah, I had some of that, as well. For the record, I did not have any of the blush sparkling wine, though I don’t know why.

After dinner, with Janette as our designated driver, we all piled into the largest vehicle in the driveway and made our way to Silo’s in downtown Napa for a night of Motown music, dancing, and, yes, more wine. We ended up at Empire, at the “west end” and somehow I found myself drinking a lemon drop, poured from a pitcher of the stuff on our table. Things were a bit fuzzy by this point in time, and the last thing I remember with real clarity was really not wanting to drink the lemon drop. I nursed it for a while and texted a bit with my Sweetie, just home from another trip to Coldfoot. I remember overusing emoticons and being grateful, for once, for autocorrect. We always punctuate our texts with emoticons, but I’m pretty sure there were three full rows of emoticons in one text I sent. I consider it poor form to reuse the same emoticon in the same text, with the exception of the red heart and the kissy lips, those two can be used to fill the last row at the end, for emphasis, and to make the message symmetrical in appearance. For the record, there are not enough heart shapes in my emoticon library to fill three full rows of text, I definitely overused certain items. Shame. And, as for autocorrect, I usually do battle with autocorrect, I use big words that the engineers at Apple don’t use, I guess, and I make up my own words, like “matterless” and “declutter”. But, when drunk texting, I am a very poor typist but a much more diligent proofreader, and, so, appreciate autocorrect more than usual, at least as long as I am able to still form intelligible phrases.

And that was about it. I remember that each time Eden and I had to climb into the back back seat of the car, because we were “the bendy people”, it became progressively more difficult. I think I had become, perhaps, too bendy, during the course of the evening. Extracting myself from the depths of the back back seat that last time I do vividly remember and there will be a bruise. Maybe more than one.

I did manage to get home in one piece, only having to navigate myself about two blocks and into the driveway. This task I have practiced for many, many years long before I was of legal drinking age. And, once upstairs, just like old times, tiptoeing, even in my Guess boots, across the squeaky, hardwood floor of my room, careful not to wake the ‘rents, I peeked out my window, down onto my car in the driveway, just to make sure it was a) actually there, b) parked straight c) parked in the middle of my half of the driveway, and d) not halfway into the (closed) garage. Aces.

Scarlett’s Letter July 17, 2013

Today, I am half a century old. I don’t feel it. Thank goodness.

I’ve taken the day off of work and it is mine to do with what I want. What do I want?

I remember when I turned forty. I remember when “we” turned forty, my group of friends from high school, and earlier. We’ve been friends, forever. The oldest of us has a February birthday and she has always sort of been our “leader”. The first to drive, the first to be able to attend R-rated movies without a parent, the first to be able to buy alcohol, legally. I’m next, with my July birthday. Two birthdays in September, one at the beginning, one at the end. The youngest of us has a late November birthday.

The year we all turned forty, my February friend was thrown a secret, magical surprise party, by her husband. It was thrown at a winery, in the caves, and for some reason, I was unable to attend, some conflict with leadership and kid activities, if I recall. Which is regrettable. But, the party was grand, by all accounts, and attended by many, and the surprise was total and complete. Salute to the man who can pull off such a masterful surprise for his wife! From planning through party, impressive.

My November friend had a big birthday party for her fortieth, too. Not a surprise, as she is the master party thrower and entertainer, but a large fete, again, attended by many. Falling on Thanksgiving weekend, and with the whole family in tow, we set off late and ended up stuck in traffic for nearly four hours, and only half way there, the night now nearly over, we aborted and returned home. Organizing my family, at that point in time, in particular, my husband, was like steering the Titanic through a slalom course; impossible. Not one to appreciate parties or social gatherings, they upset his constitution and caused an undue amount of stress and anxiety for him, and so, for all of us. It was barely worth the effort, I preferred go alone, but that was a whole other problem. So, we rarely made these social gatherings, and the cost was high.

The September girls celebrated their fortieth birthdays on their own, that I know of, no large forets were held.

My fortieth birthday was a surprise all its own. Now, my thirtieth had been a big party, all my plan, all my doing; a weekend of camping, loud music and wakeboarding with friends at a lake in the Sierra foothills. My husband hated it. Every single minute of it. And was none too quiet about it. Which made it miserable and awkward for everyone in attendance, for the whole weekend. Never again, I vowed. As my fortieth approached, I secretly hoped a surprise was being planned, a party with friends and food and celebrating. I knew better, but I liked to entertain the idea. I kept quiet about my birthday, I didn’t make any hints or suggestions, provide reminders, or anything. I just kind of wanted to see what would happen. I got pretty much what I expected; a great big surprise! My daughter was at camp, so on my actual birthday, mid-week, we decided to go out to dinner, my husband, my son and me. This was not anything unusual, we went out to dinner more than we ate at home. When asked where we should go, I mentioned a restaurant we didn’t normally go to, one that was a little more expensive than our “usual”. Still, no mention of the date or the significance of the date. The restaurant was agreed upon and my husband, my son and I followed the hostess to our table. I ordered a very nice glass of red wine, which was not unusual behavior. I ordered my dinner, nothing extravagant. But when I ordered dessert, an eyebrow was raised. Wine and dessert? At which point I said “Surprise! It’s my fortieth birthday!”

A few years ago, I vowed my fiftieth would be an unforgettable party, the world would be invited. As the year approached, I thought maybe a chauffeured limo through the wine country with my closest dozen friends, or so. As the year arrived, and it became evident that wasn’t going to happen, with busy lives and tight budgets, I downshifted. Maybe five people I’m acquainted with, who happened to be free, in a Civic.

I woke up, today, late, and against my whole, sprouted grain snob attitude, consented to eat Eggo waffles with my mom. Which I washed down, quickly, with mimosas. What is it bout Eggo waffles, they don’t retain heat for two seconds? I have never eaten a warm Eggo waffle. And they don’t brown, they go from frozen and pale to dark, dark, dark brown and too crunchy to cut with a serrated knife, in about two seconds. But no matter the degree to which they are burnt, they are cold before they touch the plate, butter never melts on them and the warmest of maple syrup quickly congeals on top. Thank God for mimosas.

I received a phone call from my daughter and son-in-law from Saratoga Springs, New York after the first mimosa. We chatted and they wished me a happy birthday. I felt loved. I miss them.

I exchanged texts with my son, I’d made noise about going to DiRosa Art Preserve or to Castello di Amoroso for the chocolate and wine tasting tour, by myself, so he wasn’t sure where I’d be or what I was up to. And there I was, at the kitchen table, sticky with maple syrup, silly from mimosas and still in my PJ’s. He was free for the day and his close friend was home from a semester in Brazil, before returning to school in Hawaii. It was agreed, they’d both come down to help us celebrate, in some way, my half-century birthday. I’d have to pay for their gas, and part of their dinner, but it was worth the price to have them in attendance. So, it was four of us, in a Civic. We went to V. Sattui Winery for a tasting, then to Longmeadow Farmstead for dinner. It was low key, but it was a splendid day. I am determined to continue celebrating in my own way over the next week, or so. I have a few tricks up my sleeve, a few bucket list items I may seek to satisfy. We’ll see how it goes, but I do not intend for my fiftieth birthday week to pass without some sort of commotion.

As far as the girls go, now that we’re all turning fifty; my February friend had a big get together at a local tavern. I was in Alaska. I missed it. With the rest of our birthdays coming up in fairly rapid succession, and one of the September girls in what appears to be, hopefully, a permanent remission from cancer, a treatment plan for life, and a prognosis of, as she put it, “I’ll be alive until I die, just like everyone else,” we’ve decided a girls’ retreat to a winery estate villa for a weekend of celebrating is in order, and so that comes up in a couple of weeks.

I guess with age, comes a certain amount of wisdom and certain amount of flexibility and understanding. Yes, I’d love a big party, but the people in my life, whom I care for a great, great deal, are not and never will be the big party planners or participants that I may be. I don’t love anyone less for that. And making such plans on my own, and “requiring” people to attend for which it maybe a hardship is not fair, so I am understanding and flexible and appreciative and will celebrate with all those I love, each in their preferred manner. I know that I am loved and that is better than any drunken limo ride. I suppose this comes from maturity, goodness knows I should have THAT by now, I’ve had fifty years to practice!


So this is fifty? Eggo waffles for breakfast? I want to go back!
So this is fifty? Eggo waffles for breakfast? I want to go back!
V. Sattui Winery
V. Sattui Winery
Family and friends at V. Sattui Winery for wine tasting.
Family and friends at V. Sattui Winery for wine tasting.
Longmeadow Ranch Winery
Longmeadow Ranch Winery
Longmeadow Ranch Farmstead Restaurant for my birthday diner.
Longmeadow Ranch Farmstead Restaurant for my birthday diner.
Longmeadow Farmstead - birthday dinner - a delightful "wedge salad" split four ways.
Longmeadow Farmstead – birthday dinner – a delightful “wedge salad” split four ways.
Longmeadow Farmstead - birthday dinner - fresh, local oysters, split three ways (the fourth wasn't interested).
Longmeadow Farmstead – birthday dinner – fresh, local oysters, split three ways (the fourth wasn’t interested).
Longmeadow Farmstead - Salmon and succotash. I LOVE succotash! I love salmon. There's a difference between LOVE and love.
Longmeadow Farmstead – Salmon and succotash. I LOVE succotash! I love salmon. There’s a difference between LOVE and love.
COOKIES!!!! At Longmeadow Farmstead - split four ways!
COOKIES!!!! At Longmeadow Farmstead – split four ways!
Three generations of "Begonias", as it were.
Three generations of “Begonias”, as it were.