Upside Down Pineapple – The Encore

Happy National Pineapple Upside Down Day!

There is a day, a national day of recognition, for upside down pineapples.
There is a day, a national day of recognition, for upside down pineapples.

You depraved souls! You know who you are!

I have written nearly three hundred articles over the past year and a half. Some have been funny, some have been serious, some have been touching, some have been a bit caustic. Some articles have been popular with my public, my readers, others have been completely ignored. But one article stands out from all the rest, combined. There is one article, over a year old, now, that is searched on, read, re-read, perhaps and, statistically is off the charts over all the rest.

Upside Down Pineapple.

I don’t think it was my best article, not my funniest, but it is, by miles, the most popular. How do I know? Like most bloggers, I pour over my stats. Regularly. I can see how many people, from which countries, are reading my stuff. I can see what tags are most fruitful and I can see what search terms people are using to find my blog. I pour over my stats about as much as some of you scour the internet for information on what an upside down pineapple in your grocery cart may mean to those in the know. “Upside down pineapple” has been my most fruitful post, ever, pardon the pun!

What does it mean? What does it mean if it's upside down in your grocery cart?
What does it mean? What does it mean if it’s upside down in your grocery cart?

People love to party, that’s all I’ve got to say! Oh, I know! I was shopping yesterday, with the rest of the country. I’d kind of forgotten the mania surrounding Easter. My kids are grown, they’ve moved far away. We don’t dye eggs and hide them in the yard after bedtime, or before sunrise, pretending to be some deranged, confused, and highly dexterous rabbit. I was giving more though to what time we should plan to be at the restaurant for brunch on Easter Sunday in order to avoid the “after church crowd”, at my elderly mother’s request. Apparently, she wants to celebrate Easter, but avoid the Christians. And now, I have to factor in the “after shopping with a pineapple upside down in the cart” crowd! Yikes!

We beat the Christians!
We beat the Christians!

Another thing I didn’t consider was my safety, shopping, yesterday. The parking lots were jammed, the stores all had crazy, long lines, except for the Verizon wireless store. And Ulta. Miracles do happen! No waiting at the Verizon wireless store, on a Saturday afternoon, after many have received their income tax refunds. I haven’t, I won’t be getting a refund this year, but I was still parting with dollars yesterday. After the Verizon wireless store, I went to Ulta because I was out of my favorite fragrance. Last time I ventured into Ulta on a Saturday, the line for the cash registers had forty people backed up past the fake eyelash display with the cardboard cutout of Katy Perry and deep into the mascara aisle, like the newest Disney themed ride attraction! Or a Harry Potter film on opening night! Yesterday, I was the only soul at Ulta.

So, where was everyone from the jammed parking lot? The egg aisle of Target. And there were no eggs to be had. Employees in red shirts were frantically searching the back catacombs of the store for a, hopefully, large, forgotten supply. Even outdated eggs would have sufficed, I’m guessing. Do people really eat all those eggs they hard boil and dye? For the sake of the ozone and the excessive emission of greenhouse gases, let’s hope not! “Honey, drive the Prius down to Target and get a few dozen eggs so we can hard boil them, dye them unnatural colors, hide them in the yard, find them again and then eat them all and fart a hole in the sky.” Maybe not. It must have been mayhem when only a carton or two of eggs remained in the cold case because there were a couple of cartons upended and broken on the floor. The two Target employees not manning the bank of cash registers in the front of the store or looking for more eggs in the back, were trying to mop up the messy egg goo from the floor. Somehow a large bag of flour was involved. All they needed was some shortening, sugar, and a pineapple …

After this scene, I dared not venture in to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, which are normally chaotic on Saturdays! Even though Whole Foods had their scheduled wine tasting, I could not be tempted into the doors do that store on this day. I feared not only the egg shoppers, but also the pineapple shoppers, scampering around the store, pineapple upside down in their cart, peering, hopefully, into the carts of all the other shoppers, practicing for the national holiday only a day away. National Pineapple Upside Down Day! I went home and scrounged for lunch fixings from my very empty fridge. And drank wine I had on hand. No eggs, no pineapple.

The other reason I didn’t grocery shop yesterday? I left my reusable, cloth, grocery bags at home, again. You just don’t go to Whole Foods, load up your cart and then choose between “paper or plastic”. Once in a great while, maybe, you make a small purchase sans environmentally friendly bagging options, but not a whole cartload! And not today, of all days, the eve of these two food centric nationally recognized holidays!

Happy Easter, too, by the way.
Happy Easter, too, by the way.

All I know, on this Spring day when most folks of the Christian faith will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, some of you, based on my stats, an alarming number of you, will be wandering, hopefully, through some grocery store, up one aisle, down the next, with a pineapple, upside down, in your cart, in “need” of something far more than milk and a loaf of bread, “celebrating” this national calendar day that probably has more to do with a style of cake than a style of life! But have at it! And I’ll go so far as to say, I’ll bet there are a few who will celebrate both occasions! I only hope you can find a grocery store open today!

Me, I’m skipping church, a tradition of mine for the past several years. I’ll pray at home. Then I’m headed to brunch. And maybe the grocery store, if I can find one open. I have a strange hankering to bake an unusual treat; pineapple upside down cake.

Delicious breakfast with Mom, and not many Christians, this morning at Napa Valley Biscuits.
Delicious breakfast with Mom, and not many Christians, this morning at Napa Valley Biscuits. Best chicken and waffles I’ve ever had, and I’ve had LOTS!

Scarlett’s Letter August 18, 2013

You guessed it. Another trip to Sacramento.

Not quite as early, but still requiring copious amounts of coffee. Mom went with me, again.

 

Third trip to Sacramento in as many days means coffee. Lots of coffee.
Third trip to Sacramento in as many days means coffee. Lots of coffee.

Since we missed out on chicken and waffles at our “farewell” lunch with my son at Cafeteria 15L, we decided we needed to try again. Sunday brunch. Is it bad that our waiter from Friday recognized us and laughed at us for returning? I know, deep down, he understood. This was all about chicken and waffles. Oh, and the bottomless mimosas.

Cafeteria 15L The Chicken and Waffle Capitol of the Capitol City.
Cafeteria 15L The Chicken and Waffle Capitol of the Capitol City.

I think Mom was awake for the whole trip to Sacramento. Bless her heart, so it was pretty much one inquiry after another, questions I couldn’t possibly answer, then long, disjointed stories that probably had a point at inception but didn’t when all was said and done, followed by random, pointed, statements that provoke me into fury. Bridled fury, but fury, nonetheless. I’m not so sure this is done unwittingly. It may be fun to see me turn red, bite my tongue and smile anyway. I introduced Mom to Pandora. I put the “Big Band” station on, which I like a lot, and I knew she’d appreciate. I even successfully taught her how to pick up the phone, without touching the thumbs down button, to view who was playing. And I still don’t think she totally understood. She still calls my phone “the Facebook” and emails, text messages, chats, and Facebook messages are often “faxes”. The bottomless mimosa made everything all right, again. For both of us, I’m sure. We do really love each other. I know she talks smack about me. I’ve caught her in the act.

Yes, the chicken and waffles were Uh-mazing! And if there were a gun to my head and I had to choose the best chicken and waffles I’ve ever had, just shoot me. They’re all different, and I’ve tried many. I still love “the original” at Roscoe’s in Long Beach (and other locales). Fremont Diner in Sonoma is hard to beat, but Cafeteria 15L adds a peppery gravy and a maple pecan butter that just puts it over the top. And I do love over the top.

CHICKEN AND WAFFLES and BOTTOMLESS MIMOSAS!
CHICKEN AND WAFFLES and BOTTOMLESS MIMOSAS!
Four orders of chicken and waffles and bottomless mimosas. The food coma set in before the first bite.
Four orders of chicken and waffles and bottomless mimosas. The food coma set in before the first bite.
A picture of my son taking a picture of me taking a picture of bottomless mimosas. The food picture thing; is it hereditary or socialization? We may never know.
A picture of my son taking a picture of me taking a picture of bottomless mimosas. The food picture thing; is it hereditary or socialization? We may never know.

After our fab brunch, we headed back to my son’s house to collect things that won’t fit in his luggage for his upcoming move to Hawaii, pretty much his library. The plan; I will package the books up in U.S. Postal Service Flat Rate boxes and send him one every couple of weeks. You’ve got to love flat rate! The last little package of love I sent to my sweetie in Alaska cost me $15. If I had sent it regular USPS, by weight, it would’ve cost $65. If you haven’t discovered flat rate, do. And, the boxes are free, in the lobby of the post office, 24/7, and are perfect for birthday gifts and Christmas gifts of many sizes, in case you kind of forgot to buy boxes and you only have three hours to wrap everything before Christmas happens. Or, if, perhaps, you spent your entire Christmas budget on gifts, and shoes, and forgot to buy boxes. Free is good.

We headed home. Maybe it was the mimosas, maybe I’m just exhausting to be around. Perhaps both. But Mom slept the whole way home. There was a wreck in Vacaville that had traffic backed up for miles. We were down to a crawl for, well, most of the drive. It took absolutely forever. I was getting sick of the Big Band station, but didn’t dare change it. Mom would occasionally wake up, utter a provocatively ignorant statement and then go back to sleep before I could rebut. Example; “Is that a TAPE we’re listening to?” Snore. “No! It’s not a tape! They don’t even make tape players anymore! Do you see a tape player in the dash of my car? Why would we listen to Internet radio on the way to Sacramento and a TAPE on the way home?”  I deserve sainthood. Perhaps Mom does, too. We do love each other.

When we got home, Mom went up and took a nap. I seized the opportunity to finish a creative venture I’ve been wanting to work on, uninterrupted, for a couple of weeks. Then I wrote. And it was good.

I had eggs for dinner.

I HAD to have eggs for dinner.
I HAD to have eggs for dinner.

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!

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.

Scarlett’s Letter June 20, 2013

Still in New York City! This is the longest NYC trip I’ve ever been scheduled for and I’m finding I STILL don’t have time to do everything I want to! Each and every time I come to New York, I discover new and amazing things, some of them so fantastic that I just HAVE to do, see, eat that same thing again. So, after several visits, you can imagine, my repeat list is growing to fill almost a week itself. To take in new sites and scenes and restaurants, to visit friends in the area AND revisit all my MUST DO AGAINs is getting a bit crazy and makes for a fairly frantic visit.

As a repeat visitor from afar, what are my MUST DO AGAINs? I always, always, always MUST have a meal at Serendipity3. I MUST go to Magnolia Bakery for a cupcake and I MUST have a few, very specific pieces of Jacques Torres chocolates. I am also drawn to Times Square like a moth to light. I just love the spectacle and the energy, I guess because I, myself, am energetic and often make a spectacle of myself. I am also quite likely to have Waffle and Dinges from a street vendor, preferably in the new and improved smaller size with Spekuloos atop. I am also a repeat offender at Dhaba Indian on Lexington. I am a big fan of Central Park and window-shopping on Fifth Avenue, I am a HUGE fan of Bryant Park. I like parks. Time permitting, I will often do a multi-park downtown to uptown subway trek; Battery Park, Union Square, Madison Square, Bryant Park and Central Park. I know there are many others, but these are each conveniently located by other traditional stops; Whole Foods and Eataly, for example. If I happen to have enough time on my hands, I will walk from park to park to park to park, finishing at Serendipity3 with my Magnolia Bakery cupcake in a box and a small bag of chocolates from Jacques Torres, which I take back to my hotel for later consumption. At Serendipity 3 I am focused on that Frrrrrozen Hot Chocolate after my meal, often my only dessert splurges of the week.

As I am not a trust fund baby, though I love Broadway shows, I usually only splurge on one show per year. Last night was my one; Mama Mia. Love it!!I have a compilation of ABBA songs whirling through my mind, from the time I lay my head on my pillow last night, all night while I tried to sleep, and even now. ABBA songs.

So far this week, I’ve done the park to park tour, with the exception of Central Park. My daughter and I plan to run there on Saturday morning, which will be a first! I’m looking forward to it, I just hope my feet aren’t worn out by then with standing to teach for eight plus hours a day for five consecutive days PLUS all the walking we’re doing in the evenings. I’m sure I’ll manage.  I’ve done the Broadway Show and Times Square. Tonight? Serendipity 3. Dhaba later this week. And window-shopping on Fifth.

I’ve thought of publishing a guide “Scarlett’s Whirlwind Tour of the MUST Dos in NYC”. But, I think New York City is to each visitor something different. We will all be drawn to different activities, different types of food and sites and scenes. And for all of us, there is plenty to keep us interested and entertained, no one guide could possibly satisfy all, most or even any other visitors. For those of you who have never experienced this place, might I suggest you add it to your bucket list? Whether you appreciate crowds or urban places or not, I think this city is something everyone should experience even if only once. There are as many quiet, serene areas as there are crowded, noisy and bustling places. There are places to walk, to ride, to run, to (urban) hike, even to fish. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination, much like everything else in life, only limited by the limitations you have in mind.

I love NY!

Mama Mia!
Mama Mia!
Like a moth to light.
Like a moth to light.
Serendipity 3 Frrrrozen Hot Chocolate (and a hot fudge sundae)
Serendipity 3 Frrrrozen Hot Chocolate (and a hot fudge sundae)
From Roosevelt Island
From Roosevelt Island
The Tram to Roosevelt Island
The Tram to Roosevelt Island
Landmarks everywhere!
Landmarks everywhere!