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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scarlett’s Letter August 27, 2013

It may have seemed like a perfectly ordinary Tuesday, but it wasn’t. Today was “National Just Because Day”. That could open the doors to many exciting things and to an extraordinary day! Just because.

I decided to go for a run this morning. I didn’t run at all last week. I had every intention to run while traveling, but the logistics always get weird with unusual surroundings, dinners in restaurants and showers and running and impending darkness. I had lots of excuses, and that just makes me feel worse; using all those excuses.  So I went out to one of my favorite running areas today, Dry Creek Road and did a fast four miles. Okay, well, fast, for me. Dry Creek Road is on the western edge of the Oak Knoll District and is one lovely vineyard after another. I kind of knew this, but not really. I sailed past one vineyard with a sign roadside that had beneath the vineyard name, “OKD” and it only took me a few minutes to figure out that meant Oak Knoll District. Well, I had a little help, perhaps, from a sign about a quarter mile up, on the opposite side of the street that spelled it out for me, “Oak Knoll District”. I sailed past that sign, too. Well, maybe I felt like I was sailing, I probably looked more like I was shuffling, but we’ll just say I was sailing past, just because. Other than it being quite sunny and not too shady, because of all the vineyards, and, so, a bit warm, it is a lovely place to run and is quite populated with other runners, walkers, dog walkers, stroller pushers and cyclists. It was a fine morning for a run, a fast four in the OKD. Just because.

As I run I often am struck with brilliant ideas for writing; topics, themes, sayings and word play. Today, I thought, since I was running in the OKD I should find a winery to taste at today, in the OKD. Tasting Tuesday. Why not? Just because, right?  After I got home and did my core workout, took my cool shower and answered a few emails, I went online to find a winery in the OKD to try. I perused several wineries and decided to find one as close as I could to where I actually ran. I settled on Trefethen (emphasis is on the middle syllable). I’d never been to Trefethen before, so that made it an even better choice. I like trying new things; just because.

I prompted Siri with the address, since it was just a few short miles from home, I figured Siri could handle the job and I wouldn’t need Armando and all his bells and whistles. Armando is my voice activated Garmin Nuvi that supplies lane assist, superior graphics, speed limits and how far in excess you are of the speed limit, as well as an ETA. For a quick trip in a familiar town, Armando is a little overkill. Siri, however, took me a longer route than I would’ve chosen had I known precisely where the winery was. Siri got me within about a mile and instructed me to park along State Route 29 and walk the rest of the way. I almost made Siri walk the rest of the way. Instead, I followed my keen navigational instinct and turned right, off of State Route 29 onto Oak Knoll Avenue, where the address was listed and where, at the intersection, was a winery sign. Perhaps my keen navigational instinct wasn’t really necessary, but I got Siri to the winery and she was still yacking about me continuing on to the next major intersection and doing something. Just because, I guess.

The drive into the winery was pretty impressive. I think the driveway was nearly as long as my trip up State Route 29! The winery is housed in a very impressive building, as well, not ostentatious, but statuesque, definitely. I was greeted as soon as I walked inside and the Napa Neighbors discount was happily recognized. A free “Classic Tasting”, four wines from a list of eight; four whites, a rose and three reds. I was introduced to the sommeliers who were knowledgeable beyond what most winery staff are. I was told the details of the estate; purchased in 1968, just one year after my family moved to Napa. It is the largest contiguous estate in the Valley and all of their grapes are grown on the estate. They grow enough grapes for their own production and are able to sell 30% of their crop to other wineries. They provided a map of the estate, for reference, so you could see the source of the grapes for each wine you tasted. I love visual aids! This was the best thing since the three-dimensional relief map at Ceja! As I am fonder of reds than whites, I was first given the 2011 Pinot Noir off the more expensive, “Reserve Tasting” list. It was fantastic. I then worked my way down the list of reds on the Classic Tasting with the 2010 Cabernet Franc, the 2010 Merlot and the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. My official four tastings were spent, but, still, I was offered more. I moved to the “Reserve” list and decided, based on the exclamations of others in the tasting room and the price per bottle, on the 2010 Dragon’s Tooth. I decided to cap things off with the S.I.N. – Summer in Napa, 2012 Rose. Just because! I didn’t taste anything I didn’t absolutely love! I was hard pressed to decide which ONE bottle to buy to take with me to Alaska this weekend. While I pondered my purchase, I was offered a taste of the 2011 Late Harvest Riesling, which isn’t on any tasting list, but, “just happened to be opened”, just because. Again, as I’ve said before, and I think I’ve made a liar of myself, I don’t like dessert wines. The last four, of four, dessert wines I’ve tried, I really enjoyed. It may have something to do with the fact that I’m always told they would be delicious with bleu cheese. I think anything is delicious with bleu cheese, and I think this may influence my palette just a bit.

Tasting Tuesday, just because on National Just Because Day!
Tasting Tuesday, just because on National Just Because Day!

I finally settled on the Cabernet Franc, of all the wines I tasted, I think my Sweetie will enjoy this one the most with the hint of cherry, tobacco and raspberry. I will save it for my trip. And I will share. Really I will. Just because! I also bought a silver horse head wine spout aerator. I first spotted it wine tasting in El Dorado County and have been lusting after it ever since. I found it online, but there isn’t nearly as much romance in having purchased it online as there is in purchasing somewhere you can talk about. Right? So, now, in the trunk of my car, along with two DSW bags, is a lovely carrier bag from Trefethen Winery in the OKD. Living with Mom is quite a bit like being married, I have clandestine purchases I feel like I have to sneak into the house. The aren’t really clandestine, but I just can’t take the remarks when I bring home “more shoes,” or “more wine”. And now that it’s kind of a game, it just makes me want to buy MORE shoes and MORE wine! Just because!

You have to admit you have a problem in order to have a problem. No problem.
You have to admit you have a problem in order to have a problem. No problem.

Alas, it is Tuesday. Do you know what that means? It’s Taco Tuesday! I love tacos. I can find a way to make almost anything into tacos. There is just something about putting food into a warm tortilla, folding it in half and having it spill out all over the plate, the table, and your lap that makes it so much more delicious! I made my meal into tacos last night, it was Mexican Monday. Tomorrow is Wrap Wednesday. I planned on having salmon salad for lunch and ended up having an apple, a carrot and celery with peanut butter, instead, in the interest of not having a lot of preparation and dishes mid-day. I really wanted salmon salad, I mean, I “helped” catch the salmon. Not physically, but I did offer a lot of moral support. I did behead, gut and wash the salmon alongside the Copper River at Chitina, then helped jar them, so I have a personal connection with these jars of salmon. So delicious! So, I made salmon salad tacos for Mom and me for dinner tonight. It may not sound very traditional, but they were very, very good and I’d eat more, now, if there were any left! Just because!

I have a very personal relationship with this jar of salmon.
I have a very personal relationship with this jar of salmon.
Taco Tuesday. Salmon salad tacos. Just because.
Taco Tuesday. Salmon salad tacos. Just because.

It is getting late, Mom has just gone to bed and that means I can now sneak my DSW bags and wine purchases upstairs. I managed to move them from the trunk of my car to a hiding place in the garage on the pretense of “taking the recycles out”, which is another clandestine operation. “Recycles” are usually one or two more empty beer or wine bottles than I think Mom would approve of, so I wait until she has the TV on, with a game show, the news, or Chopped on full blast, and I take the bottles out to the bin so she won’t hear them “clink” and so I’ll have enough time to shuffle the newspapers over them. It’s kind of a sport. And a way to avoid the inevitable question “did you have a second beer tonight?” Maybe. Just because.

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 10, 2013

I slept like crap. In a literal sense, I don’t think crap sleeps. And neither did I, so, I slept like crap. But, when my alarm went off at 4:30 AM, I got up, according to plan, drove to Sacramento and ran with my running club. Actually, I got there about an hour early. I plan for road construction, traffic, cops and stupid drivers. There weren’t any cops so I beat the traffic, sped through the construction zones and passed the stupid drivers. With my hour, I listened to music and wrote in my journal; everything I’m grateful for today. A whole page of tiny, tiny print. Good for me.

I ran five fast miles with my pace group in the coolness of the early morning. It was sunny and bright and many fitness enthusiasts were out on the American River Parkway. It was immensely enjoyable. After the run, and some stretching, I ran into a good friend, not ran into, bumped into, no, not bumped into, saw. I saw a good friend of mine and went over to chat. When speaking of runners, one must be careful with the selection of words or the visual is more graphic than it should be. We chatted for a while and caught up some before I drove back to Napa. The trip home was not nearly as quick. Lots of traffic. All stupid people. I’m convinced there must be a large convention of tap dancers this weekend, somewhere in the Bay Area and I think everyone westbound on Interstate 80 was a participant, and they were practicing, tapping their brakes for absolutely, positively no other reason than for the sheer, twisted pleasure they derive from it.

I’d planned on taking Mom to a different tasting room in Downtown Napa today, she seemed eager last night, but had an excuse handy today. I got cleaned up after my run and decided I’d go anyway. By myself. After my shower, I wrote for a bit and was working on that whole “now” and “grumpy” thing from yesterday and earlier this week. I felt I was making progress. Then the mail came.

A Department of Motor Vehicles registration notice for my car, due July 20, 2013. Hello? It’s August. I changed my address with the DMV when I moved several months ago, and have even received my new drivers license at my “new” address. Which is, actually, my (very) old address, but I’m probably the only one that keeps track of my movings about. Apparently, with all the fees and fines we pay to Department of Motor Vehicles, their system isn’t sophisticated enough to match registered drivers with registered vehicles and at least make an inquiry if there’s a difference. So, I paid a $50 penalty for not figuring out the nuances of their inefficient and ineffective system. And to top it al off, I needed a smog certificate, too, another $62. That DMV notice should have arrived in May or June, thank you U.S. Postal Service, I do have a current and valid forwarding order in place. Whatever. I could’ve hand carried it from the post office at my old address to my new one several times over in that period of time. Crawling. With one hand tied behind my back. Blindfolded.

I paid my DMV fees and changed Meep’s (my Civic’s) address online. I went to the smog check place, and, at first, thought it would be a fab idea if they offered wine flights while you wait. Then, I had an even better idea and this may be my million-dollar idea; How about a tasting room, with high quality snacks, free Wi-Fi, gourmet coffee and a lending library. Come in, sit down, hand us your keys and tell us what your car needs. We’ll send it out to be serviced, wherever you want, and when it’s done, we’ll drive you home, tipsy, in your own car, all fixed up just the way you want it. Whad’ya think?

Meep passed smog, and I was worried. Though Meep is a “newer” car, we have 89,000 miles now, and the five cars ahead of us didn’t pass. To celebrate Meep’s accomplishments, I parked, for free, in the Clay Street Parking Garage, in Downtown Napa, and went to Ceja Vineyard’s Downtown Tasting Room. They offer wine by the glass, wine flights, light snacks and, although I was tempted, I actually didn’t indulge in the wine and chocolate pairing. Next time. They also have a standard wine tasting for ten dollars consisting of four tastings. For Napa Neighbors, this is free. So I had four generous tastes, a Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir, their “House” Red, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Because I’m cute, or talkative, or both, I got two bonus tastings, a Merlot, which I bought a bottle of, and the dessert wine. Generally, I loathe and despise sweet dessert wines, but I totally enjoyed theirs, either because it was the last tasting, or because it was genuinely good. The tasting room was completely full, standing room only. So I stood. I’d been sitting all day; in the car driving to and from Sacramento, and at the smog-testing place, so I welcomed standing.  Besides, the seating was all occupied with young women with strollers and fussy babies. Which I think should be outlawed, or, at the very least, there should be an additional charge for, which should then be reimbursed to the rest of the customers. I received a very high compliment from some tourists from Austin, Texas as they left.  On my pink Steve Madden flats specifically, and how they just made my entire outfit. Big grin. Cheers!

I’ve been to the Ceja Winery property in the Carneros District during “April in Carneros” a couple of years ago, which I highly recommend. It’s a lovely property and I enjoyed some wine, vineyard-side, with some of my very dear, longtime friends. They feature a couple of Bocce ball courts and host many events that I also intend to follow up on, at some point, soon. If I remember correctly, there is salsa dancing. Big grin. Cheers!

As I have quite a sleep deficit going for the past several nights, and last night in particular, and I got up early, ate a light breakfast, drove, ran and drove and ate only a half of a peanut butter sandwich and a nectarine “for lunch”, in traffic, those six “little” tastes of wine were more potent than they should’ve been. Luckily, for me, Downtown Napa, the “west end”, where Ceja’s tasting room is, is on First Street, which is pretty much a straight shot at a consistent thirty-five miles per hour, from home. Just in case, I always keep Trident Whitening Gum in my car; for two reasons, to freshen the breath (subliminally meaning, disguise the wine odor) and whiten the teeth (subliminally meaning, disguise the red wine stains). I did see a CHP, but made a point to follow him, rather than him, me.

So, not so surprisingly, I had an excellent day and I don’t even remember what I was grumpy about earlier this week! Combine endorphins from running with “therapy” (driving really fast on the Interstate with really loud music), getting stuff done (car registration and smog certificate) and wine tasting (in a tasting room and not my bedroom) and you have certain happiness! Big grin. Cheers!

 

Lovely wines at the Ceja Vineyard Tasting Room on First Street in Downtown Napa.
Lovely wines at the Ceja Vineyard Tasting Room on First Street in Downtown Napa.

 

Scarlett’s Letter August 4, 2013

I was awakened this morning by the sound of a closing door. It wasn’t the slamming of a door, but perhaps the slightly exaggerated closing of a door. Whether it was intended to wake me up, or not, I don’t know, I think it was, and it did. A request for attention, perhaps, a somewhat consistent theme in this household. And so my morning “ritual” began.

In my baggy sweats, I headed downstairs, first to the kitchen. Mom was in her chair, in her robe, eating her breakfast, one course at a time, reading a couple of newspapers. The newspapers are spread across about 75% of the table. Ads in one pile, the “news” in another. I say good morning and put some water on to heat up for coffee then go downstairs to the garage to collect the ingredients for my breakfast. My pantry and refrigerator are in the garage, and I really don’t mind. I figure segregating my organic, Whole Foods fare from the over-processed, pesticide laced, GMO, loss leaders upstairs is unnecessary, but gives me a certain peace of mind. Plus, that extra trip up and down those stairs a few times a day certainly must have some benefit.

Back up in the kitchen, I go about making my breakfast; berries, a shirred egg, a strip and a half of bacon, and oatmeal. I make my coffee in the coffee press once the water is boiling and sit down with my entire meal organized in front of me. One of my idiosyncrasies is to photograph all of the food I eat. I use it as a “journal” of sorts and I happen to think food is highly photogenic. So, I take the picture with my iPhone, trying ever so hard not to include any of the newspapers spread across the table.

Um, breakfast, isn't it beautiful?
Um, breakfast, isn’t it beautiful?

Before I head to the kitchen every morning, it is reasonably silent; just the sounds of the fixing of food and then, the shuffling and turning of newspaper pages. Once I enter the kitchen, though, thoughts are spoken out loud, every news article is commented on and the noteworthy sale items in the thirty-four pounds of advertising included with the paper are read aloud. Often, the more puzzling puzzles are discussed, for the purposes of collaboration. I busy myself with deleting ads from my email inbox, addressing any emails that may require my attention, sending my customary “good morning Love” text message and perusing Facebook, being certain to lustily acknowledge any birthdays. It has been brought to my attention, though, that I am not being conversational when my iPhone is present. I feel the same way about the newspaper, and, I don’t really consider reading the news, the ads, and, worst of all, my horoscope and the horoscope of everyone we know, the living and the dead, out loud, conversation. If I were in charge, we’d each read what we chose in silence. Then converse actively, engaged, on a topic of agreement. Clearly, I am not in charge. Out of respect, I guess I’m okay with that.

After breakfast, which has been taking way longer than it should lately, I make my way upstairs and get ready for whatever the day has to offer. With no real plans for the day, we’d discussed perhaps visiting a winery that has been on “our list”. My wine club selection of the month was ready to be picked up at V. Sattui Winery, which we could cross off the to-do list, as well. We made our “spontaneous” plan, grabbed a picnic basket and a few supplies and headed “up valley”, a few hours later, Mom and me.

We’ve been wanting to visit Grgich Hills Estate Winery in Rutherford. We’ve passed several times in the past few months and each time we say, “we need to go there some time.” Mike Grgich made wine history in 1976 when his Chardonnay won the Paris wine tasting. Recently, a movie was made about Mike and it has been on Mom’s movie list. Sadly, it isn’t available through Netflix, so she’s been wondering how she’d be able to see the movie without purchasing it.

Grgich Hills Estate Winery
Grgich Hills Estate Winery
Grgich Hills Estate Winery
Grgich Hills Estate Winery
The Napa Valley Wine Train stops at Grgich Hills Estate Winery. How cool is that?
The Napa Valley Wine Train stops at Grgich Hills Estate Winery. How cool is that?
Grgich Hills Estate Winery
Grgich Hills Estate Winery

We were among several visitors at Grgich Hills today, being a sunny Sunday in the Napa Valley and a couple of days after the harvest began. The winery and tasting room, compared to others in the area, is nice but not ostentatious. It reminded us both of the “old” Napa winery tasting rooms, dim, cool, concrete floor, simple rough, wood bar and forthright, well-informed sommeliers to assist. They offered a couple of tasting options, one of their Napa Valley wines, which are widely available, then another more expensive option, with more exclusive wines, not widely available. We went for the ordinary, since that is what was complimentary with the Napa Valley Vintners “Napa Neighbors” program. In other words, five samples of legendary, though widely available, Napa wines, for free. Of course, you have to ask for the Napa Neighbors discount, and for a 100% discount, I’m happy to do so. Our sommelier was very good, Simon, from Philadelphia. He was friendly and informative. Mom asked about the video, whether it was for sale at the winery. Simon said it was available, for free, with the purchase of six bottles of wine. I glanced at the price per bottle, at between $30 and $60 per bottle, the purchase of six in the next year is remote, in one day, impossible. Simon said sometimes he is able to work something out, though. I got the impression it was pretty much at his discretion.

Grgich Hills Estate Winery
Grgich Hills Estate Winery
Grgich Hills Estate Winery
Grgich Hills Estate Winery
Thank you Napa Vintners Napa Neighbors Discounts for the complimentary tasting!
Thank you Napa Vintners Napa Neighbors Discounts for the complimentary tasting!

We enjoyed our five wines, a Chardonnay, a Fume Blanc, Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. I prefer, much prefer, reds to whites, but found both white wines to be quite nice. In other words, I didn’t cringe or shudder when I swallowed them. The reds were all fantastic, and I would’ve loved to buy a bottle of each, but I do have to buy gas, groceries and make my car payment. With an upcoming trip to Alaska on my calendar, though, I did buy two bottles, and was given 10% off, again, for being a local. As my bottle of Zinfandel and Merlot were bagged I, emboldened, perhaps, by the red carpet “locals” treatment, and/or the five generous tastes, I asked if there might be a chance at snagging a copy of the video. But of course! And in the bag it went!

Our first tasting.
Our first tasting.
Our second tasting.
Our second tasting.
Our third tasting and one I purchased.
Our third tasting and one I purchased.
Our fourth tasting and another I purchased.
Our fourth tasting and another I purchased.
Our final tasting and one I wish I could've purchased.
Our final tasting and one I wish I could’ve purchased.

Triumphant after our conquest at Grgich Hills, we headed north to St. Helena to pick up my monthly club selections at V. Sattui. Two more zinfandels. Good thing I like Zinfandel! Mom and I decided not to taste wine, here, too. The cops are pretty thick on Sunday afternoons. We did spend some time at the cheese sample counter, though. We bought a sandwich, some strawberries and a small crème brulee for our picnic and headed out to the wooden tables on the grass in the shade of the trees. It was crowded, but several tables were only half full. We shared a table with a young family, a man, his wife and two children. They were chatty and we compared notes on the wines. Mom and I enjoyed our picnic and headed home quite content.

V. Sattui Winery. We come here at least monthly, to pick up my wine club selections. Always love the flowers.
V. Sattui Winery. We come here at least monthly, to pick up my wine club selections. Always love the flowers.
Mom at the cheese sampling counter at V. Sattui Winery.
Mom at the cheese sampling counter at V. Sattui Winery.
V. Sattui Winery. They have picnic fixings, which is good,  because you can't bring your own.
V. Sattui Winery. They have picnic fixings, which is good, because you can’t bring your own.
Who doesn't love a picnic? It seems to be a lost pastime. Replaced, perhaps, by the ever popular BBQ.
Who doesn’t love a picnic? It seems to be a lost pastime. Replaced, perhaps, by the ever popular BBQ.
A picnic without wine isn't actually a picnic. My opinion. But one that matters.
A picnic without wine isn’t actually a picnic. My opinion. But one that matters.
Requisite picture of my plate.
Requisite picture of my plate.
Our creme brulee.
Our creme brulee.
Me and Mom.
Me and Mom.

Really, a fantastic day for a day without plans! Cheers!

Scarlett’s Letter August 3, 2013

I ran with the herd today. It’s been a while.

I’ve mentioned before, I belong to an excellent running club in the Sacramento area along with 500 hundred other people or so. Due to travel for work and vacation and weekends away with girlfriends and all, I haven’t run with the club at all this season, which began in June. Since I’ve been running on my own, all alone, and have made some progress pace wise, I was unsure which pace group to run with today. The plan was an eight mile run, and I’ve been running about six and a half or seven, on my own. I last ran with the “Gold 12:00’s”. The club is divided into several color groups, each focusing on the appropriate distances, paces and walk/run intervals based on the goals and abilities of the members. When I started running a little over a year ago, I was a “Red 13:30”. I promoted myself over the course of the year to the “Gold 12:00’s”. On my own, I’ve been running about, on average, 11:00 minute miles, but for a slightly shorter distance and I’ve been challenged. I decided, upon my arrival this morning, to run with the “Gold 11:30’s”. My ultimate goal this year is the “Green 11:00’s”, and ultimately, maybe, the “Blue 10:00’s”. We’ll see.

SacFit Running Club
SacFit Running Club
SacFit Running Club
SacFit Running Club

It was a fantastic run, and seemed almost effortless. Eight miles along the beautiful American River Parkway, the gem of the Sacramento area and something I have cherished and enjoyed for over thirty years. I ran alongside one of my favorite coaches, who also, for whatever reason, moved up a pace group. We chatted a little as we ran and we both agreed, running is so much easier in a group, in a regular group, your group. Like a community. I’ve been thinking a lot about the word community lately and have even expanded on it and what it means to me, and in general. Community is important.

SacFit Golds!
SacFit Golds!

After my run, I headed back home to Napa full of energy and feeling very satisfied and accomplished. After showering, I took Mom to the wine tasting room I stumbled upon a couple of weeks ago, “The Taste at Oxbow”, which offers four or five free tastes to Napa locals.

I ordered the Brie plate to share with Mom and we enjoyed our time there. One of the gals who works at Taste recently adopted a dog, Pickles, from a couple who had to move to assisted living. Pickles spent her time cruising around the tasting room policing the floor for crumbs. I do really miss having a dog in my life, but, at this point, it is probably best and I can get my pooch fix by enjoying other peoples’ pups.

The Taste at Oxbow
The Taste at Oxbow
The Taste at Oxbow, the Brie Plate with brie from Marin French Cheese Company
The Taste at Oxbow, the Brie Plate with brie from Marin French Cheese Company
My favorite sommelier at The Taste at Oxbow, Pickles.
My favorite sommelier at The Taste at Oxbow, Pickles.
I did not leave Oxbow empty handed.
I did not leave Oxbow empty handed.

I’ve been really missing having horses, too, but, again, I placed my horses in other homes because I simply couldn’t provide them with the attention they deserved, and they really weren’t fitting into my short-term financial goals, like being able to buy groceries and gas. But, when you have a passion for something, like horses, and you can’t fully indulge, there are ways to include that passion in your life. While supporting a horse, boarded, properly vetted and shoed may be beyond my means, an occasional lesson may not. If there’s a will, there’s a way. This is on my “to-do” list for the next month; take a riding lesson.

This evening, I worked on a video project I’ve been wanting to put together, and while I think it’s fricking hilarious, the quality isn’t quite right. I had camera and lighting issues. It’s a good thing I had a really good time filming it, it occupied the better part of my evening, and will probably occupy the better part of tomorrow evening when I re-shoot it. As it involved food, and wine, I will definitely want to stick with my work out plan for the next week. Well, for the next forever, actually. It has been a rough month or two on my fitness goals with all the traveling, dining out and partying. To one’s self remain true. I banished my muffin top a long time ago, and it seems to be seeking a reconciliation. It shall not happen. Time to make an effort to get back to the effort.

High calorie video project in the works.
High calorie video project in the works.

Scarlett’s Letter July 20, 2013

I have been such a slug this week. Just back from a month away from home, a week and a half for work in New York City and a few days in New Jersey, then just over two weeks for a wonderful, amazing and adventure-packed vacation in Alaska. And back to work within hours of my return home. Long days on the phone with clients, teaching the finer points of audit software skills. My “free” time has been spent trying to get caught up on outrageous (NYC) expense reports and other administrivia, plus trying to catch up on a few blog posts.

There may have been a fiftieth birthday in there, too. But, here it is. Saturday. As you can imagine, over a week in Manhattan, followed by vacation and the celebration of a birthday, my eating and workout habits have been sort of sidelined. For three weeks. The last deliberate attempt at exercise was a short, hot, run in Central Park. And here it is. Saturday. I belong to two running clubs, one in Napa, where I live, one in Sacramento of such high quality and superior coaching that it is worth the hour and a half drive. I’d intended to make the drive to Sacramento today, but a quick glimpse at the weather and the planned track workout changed my mind quickly. Forecast temperatures were 102 degrees, and the track at CSU, Sacramento is notoriously hot. The track workout, I rationalized, would not really benefit me as far “off-program” as I am right now. What I really need are some miles on my shoes. The local group set off early, and fast, and far, and, again, what I really needed were some miles on my shoes, and not necessarily fast miles. Just miles. To get back into the swing of things. So, with every ounce of gumption I could muster up, I got out of bed, pulled my hair into a ponytail, pulled on my yoga pants and a jersey from my first half marathon. I laced up my running shoes, ate a quick, light breakfast, and set off. I intended to run between three and five miles, depending on how I felt. I felt pretty good, and it wasn’t, yet, too hot, so five miles it was. I was so proud of myself! I love it when I actually do what I think I should do. There is nothing worse than letting yourself down and nothing better than the satisfaction of having done what you knew you should. Does this make sense?

After my run, though, I had a whole day with no plan. A whole, beautiful Saturday and no one around to conspire with to find trouble to get into. I’ve been stuck close to home pretty much all week, with the exception of my birthday and a meal out and some errands yesterday, okay, and lunch out. But I really, really, really think I might die if I had to sit at home on a lovely, sunny Saturday. So. I didn’t.

What to do when you have nothing to do; a lesson from Scarlett. Something. Anything.

There is always something to do or to see, even if you have no plan, little money, and no one to get into trouble with. You just need to be creative and willing to try something new, all by yourself. And so I did. After a couple of errands, I planned on going to my favorite public Wi-Fi hotspot in Napa, Oxbow Public Market, a collection of food and spirit vendors in a “market” type environment. The Wi-Fi is weak, but the people watching and festive atmosphere more than makes up for it. I enjoy working from there, in complete, total and blissful anonymity, because everyone there is a tourist, but me. I work there for a couple of hours every now and then, for a change of scenery.

Before actually heading to the market, though, I decided to put one of my new initiatives into action. I grew up in Napa, and I’ve lived not too far from Napa for some thirty years since moving away. But I really don’t know Napa anymore. I had a conversation with a guy in a wine bar in Seattle last week, he was from L.A. and knew way more about Napa than I did. So, with the convenience of residency, I’ve decided I need to learn more about the wine industry that has pretty much changed every aspect of this once sleepy, unknown little cow town. Yes, cow town, there used to be a lot of cattle, sheep and many orchards, with just a few vineyards. Decades ago. So, my new initiative is to visit at least one different winery per month AND to visit at least one of the many tasting rooms in downtown Napa per month. So, today, a tasting room, just a couple of doors down from Oxbow Public Market, The Taste at Oxbow. I walked in, MacBook tucked under one arm, scarlet handbag over the other. You know, I wear something scarlet in color every, single day. I do. Just because. I took a seat, alone, at the wine bar. The tasting room was nearly full of tourists, sitting at tables and at the bar, all chatting with one another and enjoying some wine.

I was greeted by one of the sommeliers behind the bar, who, I’m sure, probably doesn’t get too many solitary patrons on a sunny summer Saturday. I explained that I’d grown up in Napa and had just recently moved back to town. So had she, from Portland, Oregon, so conversation ensued. I further explained that I wanted to learn more about the tasting rooms in the area so when I had guests I would know where I could take them. I also inquired as to whether there was a “locals” discount“. Yes! They were part of the “Napa Neighbors” program, which, today, here, meant five tastings for free. Free. I couldn’t stay home for that! If I tasted wine at home, I’d have to buy it, right? And even at Target, with my Red Card 5% discount and my additional 10% discount for buying six bottles at a time, I was doing far better here! And this wine isn’t available at Target! After the first couple of samples I was feeling a little punchy, and a little guilty for getting so much for free. I ordered a snack off the menu, a small “wheel” of Brie from a cheese maker in nearby Marin County. With the Brie came local, organic honey (link I love everything about local, organic honey), crackers, and some dry roasted peanuts. For $9. I don’t think I could’ve purchased all of this for $9, at Target, or anywhere. There is nothing quite like a chunk of high quality brie, drug through sweet, golden honey and spread on a crisp, light cracker. With red wine. Best. Afternoon. Ever. For an afternoon with “nothing to do”. Right?

I chatted with the sommeliers and with other patrons and had a fine, fine time. I could’ve stayed home and watched re-runs of Will and Grace or Modern Family, like I did yesterday afternoon. So very glad I didn’t. After my wine and cheese, local honey, crackers and peanuts, I headed to the public market, found a seat, and wrote and wrote and wrote. Why do people sit at home alone when they have nothing better to do? There is something, somewhere, everywhere, to do, to see, to learn, to experience.  A coffee shop, a book store, a park, a pub, a restaurant that doesn’t mind if you linger, for example, McDonald’s and Denny’s locations often have free Wi-Fi, and if you order a cup of coffee or an iced tea, they’ll let you stay for as long as you like. I know McDonalds and Denny’s aren’t the most glamorous places on the planet, but isn’t it just nice to get out, about, and be in public now and then? To experience life first hand?

So I encourage you, like I sometimes have to encourage myself, get out there and find out what there is to do and see in your town, your city, your community. Become a part of your community instead of being a fixture on your couch. Be a tourist in your own town! It is fun and so, so much better than sitting home wishing there was something better to do than nothing!

Free for locals, and fairly reasonable for everyone else! Taste at Oxbow has excellent wines to taste and enjoy!
Free for locals, and fairly reasonable for everyone else! Taste at Oxbow has excellent wines to taste and enjoy!
Is this not better than sitting home watching re-runs of sitcoms on Netflix? Of course! Local brie, local organic honey, and organic peanuts to accompany my free wine tasting!
Is this not better than sitting home watching re-runs of sitcoms on Netflix? Of course! Local brie, local organic honey, and organic peanuts to accompany my free wine tasting!

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.