Scarlette Letter – September 6, 2015

Students of happiness agree that certain habits foster feelings of contentment, peace, and joy. These habits include:

Gratitude – The sense of accomplishment that comes from tired, slightly achy, muscles

Affirmation – I am tolerant

Attitude – Feeling tenacious

Activity – Recovery

Nurture – Meditation for fifteen minutes

Enrichment – “Take in life cheerfully”

Nourishment –

Scarlette Begonia Scarlette Begonia Scarlette Begonia

Giving – I helped Mom solve her Jumble puzzles, on request. Then I “Amazon Primed”  a new pair of slippers for her.

Connection – A gathering of many, friends and acquaintances, old and new, for a surprise celebration of thirty years of marriage for a couple of lifelong friends

Simplifying – Today’s story is about simplifying.

Story – It’s a Beautiful Life

My life is beautiful.

Constancy, variety, clutter, simplicity.

Because my life is beautiful, I take pictures. I take lots and lots of pictures. I take lots of criticism for taking lots of pictures. But that’s what I choose to clutter my life up with; pictures. I take pictures of everything I eat, for example. I do this for two reasons; to kind of keep a journal of my dietary escapades in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle and, because, frankly, I think food is beautiful. I take pictures of all the places I go, all the things I see, the people I love, that is the diary of my life and, as I am lousy with dates, it is also a record of events I oft refer back to. (Continue Reading)

It’s a Beautiful Life

My life is beautiful.

Constancy, variety, clutter, simplicity.

Because my life is beautiful, I take pictures. I take lots and lots of pictures. I take lots of criticism for taking lots of pictures. But that’s what I choose to clutter my life up with; pictures. I take pictures of everything I eat, for example. I do this for two reasons; to kind of keep a journal of my dietary escapades in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle and, because, frankly, I think food is beautiful. I take pictures of all the places I go, all the things I see, the people I love, that is the diary of my life and, as I am lousy with dates, it is also a record of events I oft refer back to. I can remember the month and the day, almost to a freakish degree, but don’t ever expect me to remember the year without referring to my pictures! They bring me joy and they are a ready and practical guide to my history.

I experience a certain level of frustration with some of the pictures I take, my food pictures, at home, in particular. There is so much “ugly” and so much “sameness” in my home environment, I feel they compromise the beauty of the subject matter, food, or otherwise. Like power lines across a lovely landscape, I am challenged with finding varied and lovely backdrops for the food I consume several times a day, several times a week. At home. It’s not that the kitchen, or the house, is unattractive, it’s that it is always the same tablecloth and there are cords and phones and appliances always visible in the background. There are the little piles of papers on the table I can’t seem to omit from the frame no matter how I aim the camera. Petty annoyances. Very petty. But, annoyances all the same.

When I take pictures of my meals in my room, my office, or while dining outside on the deck, I have many, I think, lovely options for backgrounds, for landscapes, to enhance the beauty of my feast. This is of my choosing and by my design. This is my beautiful life.

I believe, to my core, that I have a beautiful life, literally and figuratively. True, I am always seeking change, but I like change, I crave the excitement, I flirt with the variety, I tempt the adventure. Whether that change is moving to a new city or using a tablecloth different today from yesterday, it is change and it is welcomed. So, as beautiful as my life is, I’m counting on it to change. You can look out the same window or at the same painting, every day of your life, and it is no less beautiful, but there is so much more to see. My beautiful life, by design, will be ever changing, and this, I wish to collect in photos. Photos are the only clutter I wish to keep, and digital, at that.

What it is about the kitchen I often eat in that I abhor is the clutter and the constancy. Clutter and constancy are two things I try to hold at bay in my beautiful life. It is not my kitchen, it is my mother’s, and, as I currently live with her, in her advanced age, it is the kitchen I use to prepare and, sometimes, consume my food. My mother loves constancy and allows clutter. I’m not standing in judgement, she has a beautiful life that just differs from mine. I am mostly tolerant, but dream a different dream.

As an example of our differences, for the brief and lovely time I lived alone, after leaving my husband and the kids went off to college, and before returning home to accompany my mom, I had a few lovely tablecloths and a variety of colorful napkins and placemats. No two meals were on the same combination of linens! Each was unique and lovely and fun and stimulating. Beautiful.

Different plate, different napkin
Different plate, different napkin

Variety.

My mom has two tablecloths for daily use, oil cloth and elasticized about the edge, big floral patterns that remind me of what interior designers crammed homes with in the 1980’s. There is one tablecloth for winter and one for summer, exactly like the bathroom décor for the past twenty years. May I also confess to you that beneath the everyday tablecloth is a second tablecloth, for padding, and beneath that is the most beautiful, solid oak table, cut on the quarter grain, that you will never see, like the special occasion tablecloths that only adorn the table briefly if company is nigh, or the stacks of lovely china and the sterling silver that have only seen the light of day twice, ever, that I can recall. But, really, you will never see the oak table in the buff, no matter how special a guest you are.

Same tablecloth.
Same tablecloth.

I came home from a business trip to find a package on the back counter. Contained in clear plastic wrap was a tablecloth, an exact replica of the tablecloth presently on the table. With grave concern for my mother’s mental acuity, thinking she had ordered the tablecloth not realizing she already had it, I inquired. She said the elastic on the old tablecloth was stretched out, had I not noticed? So, a new, an exact duplicate, was ordered as an improvement to our well-being and lifestyle.

Same tablecloth. Different plate, different bowl, different napkin.
Same tablecloth. Different plate, different bowl, different napkin.

Constancy.

As for clutter, I find it tiring, truly, it drains my energy and zaps my enthusiasm. I am not immune from clutter, none of us are, I have my own clutter, and pots calling kettles black, Mom and I are always intolerant of the other’s clutter. I truly believe mine is to a minimum. I moved five times in five years, I have kept only what I’d be willing to move again. I have made continual and concerted efforts to further declutter, on a regular basis. I have limited space in my rooms, my storage unit, and my life, for anything, much less the unnecessary. I find a great deal of satisfaction and a real sense of freedom in letting go of things I truly don’t need or use on a regular basis. I love to liberate things that weigh me down to become someone else’s stuff.

Same tablecloth.
Same tablecloth.

Mom’s clutter consists of unused items that have just always been there, décor and dated electronics, and paper. Lots and lots of paper. She carefully writes the date on each and every piece of mail that is received and files it for further handling at a later date. Further handling may consist of paying the bill within, ordering the items advertised, sending the donation requested, or letting it pile up precariously in “the office” until shredded. She shreds junk mail. She spent an entire day, a full eight or ten hours, shredding the accumulation of worthlessness one day last week. What doesn’t make its way to the pile in the office, resides on the kitchen table or on two of the four chairs around the table. It was occupying three of the four chairs until I moved home and wished to sit to eat. When company threatens, the piles are shuffled away to the office at the very last moment before the doorbell rings and are quickly returned to their respective kitchen resting place as the front door closes behind them upon the guest’s retreat. The company only tablecloth as quickly disappears. I don’t even see it happen, it just occurs, quickly, as if by ninjas.

Different plate. Different napkin.
Different plate. Different napkin.

Until I required two of the three bedrooms this house affords, those two bedrooms were for overflow. When company came, all that was about was put within and the doors were closed. I have no idea where all that stuff has made its way to, with my occupancy, but I am certain it is somewhere.

I’ll admit, I’ve lived similarly, but not entirely by choice, when I was living with my husband, who I would have to say is as close to a hoarder as I’ve ever known. Entire rooms in our various homes were “off limits” to guests, and every surface was filled to capacity with all the things. The accumulation. The stuff to be dealt with at some later date. Like when we moved, but, even then, most of the stuff, including piles of long dusty, faded mail, was tossed into a cardboard box, taped shut, labeled, moved, and never again reopened. If something of importance was buried in such a box, a copy was requested from the original issuer and then piled somewhere until dusty and faded, boxed and moved. I’m breaking out in hives at the recollection of this.

Different plate. Different napkin.
Different plate. Different napkin.

Clutter.

“My” kitchen, my beautiful kitchen, is in storage. All of my beautiful things, my pretty plates, my beautiful bowls, my lovely linens, and my special serving pieces. I don’t have a lot of things, just a few carefully selected pieces. Please. Remember, I moved five times in five years; I’ve kept only the very few things I absolutely adore! And, in “my” kitchen, I only have an item or two out at a time. In “my” kitchen, there are so few things, in total, that all the things have ample and generous space in a few cupboards. In “my” kitchen, one beautiful piece or another is brought out to compliment the meal of the moment, it is put away when the dishes are done, which is immediately, and the next meal is entirely differently accompanied.

Kitchen appliances bore me. True, there are some I find indispensable, a couple I don’t have I find highly desirable. But kitchen appliances, like Victorian children, should not be seen or heard, unless or until absolutely necessary. If the appliances don’t have a place in a cupboard, they don’t have a place in “my” kitchen. I honestly think I could keep kitchen appliances to a toaster and a coffee grinder. I might enjoy a really nice espresso machine, but that would be an obscene luxury item and it would require quite a bit of real estate in a cupboard. And constant care and cleaning. I gave my last not very expensive espresso machine to my son, but then, for a bit, moved in with him and had to endure its very infrequently used existence on the counter top. It required dusting. I loathe dusting.

Truthfully, as for pots and pans; I could thrive with my cast iron skillet, a high quality sauce pan, and a stock pot. The cast iron skillet serves for everything from Dutch oven to sauté pan. I yearn to keep it simple.

Different bowls. Different napkin. Same tablecloth.
Different bowls. Different napkin. Same tablecloth.

Knives and forks and plates and bowls and chairs and napkins; in my dream kitchen, there’d be just enough for me, for mine, and for a bit a bit of company, and no two items would match! They’d be eclectic and collectibles, new and ancient, and I’d let each guest select the color and pattern that struck them! And, when not in use, they’d be tucked in a neat stack in their appropriate cupboard or drawer.

“My” spaces would be decorated only with flowers, an ever changing bit of art or whimsy, a seasonal and varietal splash of color from a valance, a pillow, a candle, a picture book, a cozy throw, and a few photos.

Clothes and shoes, if they don’t fit in the closet or I haven’t worn them in a year’s time, off they go to Goodwill. I caught myself, only once, replacing my thick plastic hangers with thinner wire hangers so as to fit more into the closet. I can be cagey like that, brilliant, but devious.

Books are down to just the ones I am likely to refer to or reread, and, unless of a whimsical, interesting, varietal, and only occasional coffee table picture book, they are being replaced with electronic versions as can be afforded.

I am as paperless as this still paper dependent world will allow. I scan and shred daily. Mail that is not vital or relevant does not even enter the house. I subscribe to electronic statements and no print literature, and I call catalog companies who send me print catalogs and beg them to stop. I threaten to stop doing business with those who will not honor my “paperless please” requests, and I follow through.

As Mom and I “clutter bash” each other I have to remind her, like dieting versus a healthy eating lifestyle, simplifying and decluttering is a lifestyle. Simplifying and decluttering is a lifestyle you choose and that you live, each and every day of the rest of your life, it isn’t something you do for two weeks and then pray for lasting results, like the cabbage soup diet. Like choosing wholesome ingredients and carefully planning and preparing healthy meals, keeping the clutter that accumulates in our lives to a comfortable level takes commitment and a permanent change in behavior.

My beautiful life, in its perfected form, is a life where company can arrive unannounced and my world is clean and inviting, simply, effortlessly. Simple, uncluttered surroundings require so much less effort; less dusting, less scrubbing, cleaning happens daily with a quick swipe of a cloth across a smooth, empty surface. Dishes are done as they are used. Nothing accumulates. Everything has a place and is replaced in its place after use. This is so exciting to me I can barely contain my glee in describing this! This is my beautiful life, I have lived it briefly and yearn for it again.

Simplicity.

My life now, in my childhood home, beautiful in execution, but not in aesthetics, with all that I need and all that I use, quartered in two bedrooms, with the exception of one of the two closets, and some highly contentious space in the middle of the garage floor. My beautiful things that do not fit into Mom’s home, that I don’t require regularly, are stored, at a huge expense, in a storage unit a couple of miles away. Were this house, or a house a fraction the size, vacant, my beautiful life would easily fit within, without clutter. Simply. This is my vision, it has been my reality, and it is what I lust for now. It is the lifestyle I choose, like being active and eating clean, it’s what makes me feel joyful. I love my life. It’s a beautiful life.

Scarlette Letter – September 4, 2015

Students of happiness agree that certain habits foster feelings of contentment, peace, and joy. These habits include:

Gratitude: I am grateful to have plenty of quiet time alone to create and reflect

Affirmation: I am present

Attitude: I am feeling solitary and content

Activity: Aerobic shoe shopping (rest day for long run tomorrow)

Nurture  – A hedonistic pleasure; I sat in the shade on the sunny deck, read a chapter in a novel and enjoyed an IPA with lunch. For dinner, a chapter from a Wayne Dyer audiobook, “I Can See Clearly Now”, and a chapter from the audiobook “Life of Pi”.

Enrichment – Every living thing has something to share, watch, and learn

Nourishment –

Scarlette Begonia Scarlette Begonia Scarlette Begonia

Giving – Good “carma”. I make it a practice to let cars merge or turn ahead of me in traffic. I also allow pedestrians to cross. I committed these acts several times, today, in the very crowded Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s/Target parking lot and good carma paid off; I got the best, shadiest parking spot in the whole lot!

Connection – Only social mediocrity, I mean, social media.

Simplifying: I dropped off a bag of clothes and a pair of boots at Goodwill. But then I bought a pair of shoes. A small pair of shoes, I think I’m net ahead, for the day, in the matter of matter.

Journaling – Today’s Story

The Playground Bully

Do you remember being a kid, out on the school playground, during recess? You’d play with your friends and try to avoid the playground bully.

I’m an only child, and, as a kid, I struggled with two things. Having very little exposure to social norms for children until grade school, I had no real examples to emulate. I was, initially, very bossy. I bossed my friends around, told them what we were going to play and how we were going to play it. I remember once recess, in particular, the two girls I’d been playing with, started to yell at me. They told me what to do and what not to do, and they weren’t very nice about it. I started to cry and they told me that’s how I treated them all the time. I was instantly reformed. From that point on I suffered more from shyness and fear of not being accepted, until adulthood, though, I think I’ve now almost overcome that affliction, too!

I also remember a large, swarthy, brusque girl in my class. I was quite tiny and she made about two of me. In the second grade. Her name, believe it, or not, was Helga. And she was a horror! She was the first bully I ever encountered, though certainly not the last. I still encounter them!

Helga called kids names, mean names. The standard playground response when someone called you a bad name was to retort, “I know you are, but what am I?” Which usually elicited a worse name. The better and more final response, we found, was, “What you say is what you are!”

These words, actually, ring very true throughout life. People tend to look externally for a frame of reference for self. If a child is told they are dumb, they believe it, they adopt that as truth, and are shaped by that for a very long time, even, perhaps, for life. We have become aware of what the fashion and entertainment industry has done to our self-perception with airbrushed and impossibly perfected images of models and stars; we feel inferior, imperfect, fat, and ugly, when in fact, we just don’t have a team of makeup artists, airbrush artists and Photoshop editors to craft our appearance on daily basis.

Scarlette Begonia

So, what do you say you are? What do you tell yourself, about yourself, on a daily basis? And what lasting and damaging effects do you think that cruel, playground, bully has had on you?

As  students of happiness, we need to be aware of the words we hear and how we allow them to influence us, and the most important words we hear are the words we say to ourselves, silently or aloud. Be kind. Be kind to others. Be, especially, kind to yourself, in word, in act, in deed. What you say is what you are.

Scarlette Begonia

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 August 28, 2013

In the new consciousness it is easier to overlook the unconsciousness in others. Don’t strengthen it by dwelling on it. ~ Eckhart Tolle

My lesson, for myself, for today. Another way to put it, I need to learn to bite my tongue. Most of the time. There is no virtue in correcting others if there is no harm or danger in what they are saying. I am going to grow very quiet. Especially at home.

I spent the day with Mom. I am so emotionally spent I’m physically tired.

This is representative of how my whole day went:

Mom: Where do you want to go for dinner? Pizza and beer at the new place, Thai food at Mini Mango, or that Tacqueria (we’ve both heard amazing things about and both have stated, repeatedly, we’d like to try).

Me: Any of those are fine. (Giving her the opportunity to choose what she’d really like).

Mom: Well no one else is here to help decide! (I think she’s prompting me to be decisive).

Me: (Decisively) Pizza and beer is a little heavier than I’d like to eat tonight. I love Mini Mango, but we’ve been there a lot. How about the tacqueria?

Mom: But we had fish tacos last night!

Do I keep deciding until I decide on the restaurant she’s apparently already decided on? I’ve retreated upstairs. I hear the television on downstairs. I have an appointment for a two-hour massage in a couple of hours. I’m really looking forward to it.

Mom and I successfully made a donation of several boxes and bags of stuff at Community Projects, then another at Cope, according to a longstanding plan. We’d planned on enjoying a winery together, “wine-tasting Wednesday”, since I needed to go “Up Valley” to V. Sattui to purchase a special box designed for checking an entire case of wine as luggage, perfect for my trip to Alaska! On Mom’s winery bucket list was Cakebread Cellars in Rutherford on the St. Helena Winery. Like Trefethen, yesterday, Cakebread Cellars has been a family owned winery since the late 1960’s, producing their first vintage in 1973. They have 62 acres surrounding the winery, itself, and another 900 here and there around the Valley. They also purchase grapes, some, even, from Trefethen, as I learned yesterday. When visiting Cakebread Cellars, do call in advance for a tasting appointment. We were fortunate enough to be able to walk in and taste, but only because it was a Wednesday afternoon and most of the tourists coming from the Bay Area are deterred because the San Francisco Bay Bridge is closed, today, through September 3rd. They were gracious and also honor the Napa Neighbors Discount Program with their standard tasting of six wines, the “Select Wine Tasting”, normally $15, complimentary.

Nancy poured for us, and just for the two of us, as luck would have it. Tasting, in nice weather, occurs out under the sycamore trees by the flowerbeds, viewing the culinary center and the winery building. Nancy was a wealth of information on the wine, the winery, the family and the area. Having her to ourselves allowed us the chat and swap stories of lifetimes spent in the Bay Area and in Napa. It was like having wine with friends!

As I state, on nearly a daily basis, I prefer red wine. Cakebread does offer an exclusively red wine tasting, by appointment. It is $30 and is not available for the complimentary Napa Neighbors Discount. I will return for this tasting another time. The wines selected for the “Select Wine Tasting Menu” were comprised of three whites and three reds. I enjoyed them all, yes, whites included. We started with their 2012 Napa Valley, Sauvignon Blanc. They describe it in their accompanying brochure as every fruit in the market, except peach, and all I tasted was peach. It was delightful. The second wine was a 2012 Napa Valley Chardonnay, also very good, followed by the 2011 Napa Valley Carneros Reserve Chardonnay, which was even better. Our first red was a 2011 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. I am fast becoming quite a Pinot fan and this wine did not disappoint my amateur palate. Don’t tell Miles that I prefer Merlot to Pinot Noir, even still. My two favorite wines were the last, as the big, bold reds usually are last in the line up. First of my two favorites, and the one I could afford to bring a bottle of home, the 2011 Lake County Zinfandel. The best wine of the day, and a little out of my price range, at least with as much as I’ve been spending on wine lately, was the 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I envisioned both the Zin and the Cab accompanying a moose steak very nicely. The Zin being half the price of the Cab, Zin it is!

I am, at this point, starving. I’m not quite sure what to do about dinner; eat crow, cook for myself, or go to the tacqueria by myself, it is, after all, conveniently located in the same shopping center as my massage center!

Cakebread Cellars
Cakebread Cellars
Cakebread Cellars
Cakebread Cellars
Cakebread Cellars
Cakebread Cellars
Cakebread Cellars
Cakebread Cellars
Cakebread Cellars
Cakebread Cellars
Cakebread Cellars
Cakebread Cellars
Wine tasting under the sycamore tree at Cakebread Cellars.
Wine tasting under the sycamore tree at Cakebread Cellars.
Wine tasting under the sycamore tree at Cakebread Cellars.
Wine tasting under the sycamore tree at Cakebread Cellars.
Wine tasting under the sycamore tree at Cakebread Cellars.
Wine tasting under the sycamore tree at Cakebread Cellars.
Wine tasting under the sycamore tree at Cakebread Cellars.
Wine tasting under the sycamore tree at Cakebread Cellars.