22 October, 2014  |   1 Comment

October’s Wriggly Bits

This October is squirmy.

I put my knee on it,
to hold it down,
to make it comply with
ME

But October will have none of that.

So far today, 39 silos. Dorothy calls them ice cream cones.

We visited my family in Wisconsin.
October wriggled out of my grip.

James and family

My mom and her husband sort though hundreds of boxes of collections. They are moving. Assisted-living-2-bedroom-apartment and they couldn’t be happier.

I wish the American Way gave more aging parents this love.

Girls and grandma

There are more boxes to sort than there are years. I hate these boxes.

I stomp and whine
I don’t want to be faced with all the evidence of my bad decisions.

No one does.
October escapes me again.

Principals award

Boxes of high school and college journals, reams of letters and artwork.
Heartbreak’s long game.

Cousin's room

It’s not a sadness,
it’s more of the resigned sigh
halfway done with my life.

Poetry award

We returned Napa’s harvest bustle. Winemakers and vineyard workers work all night long. Grape trucks turn in front of you on the highway, dropping sticky purple fruit onto your lucky, lucky car.

Grapes

The air smells like wine.
Hundreds of thousands of tons of grapes being squished within 10 miles of my house and it is in the air.
October found a secret way out.

6 August, 2014  |   1 Comment

Wine Wednesday: Barnacle Bubbles

Govino gls

We were encouraged to share our knowledge at Y&YY. We were encouraged to teach that magic only we know how to make.

Uncovering what I might know enough about to share was tough. I mean, there are all these experts in the world about everything. They all know better than me.

Wait. Wine.

I know wine.
Better than that, I know people who know more than me about wine.

My newlywed friend Erin from Acme Fine Wines and I put together a little tasting in the spirit of Y&YY.  She found wines where the producers reworked, retooled and reinvented their corner of the modern wine world.

And that brings us to: Barnacle Bubbles.

More accurately, the wine is named Bisson Abissi, Spumante Metodo Classico. It’s from Liguria, Italy and was bottled in 2011. $101.

Piero Lugano is a winemaker from Italy who wanted to make a Methode Champenoise styled wine. He just didn’t have the space to age sparkling wine the way sparkling wine needs to be aged.

So Lugano put it in the ocean. As Acme Fine Wines says, “The temperature is perfect, there’s no light, and the rocking of the waves acts like a riddling rack, gently moving the lees through the wine.”

He got approval from the Agricultural Ministry in Rome (no small feat). They determined that there would be no environmental impact, so Lugano put his wine made of Vermentino and Bianchetta grapes in a big cage that he then dropped into the Mediterranean Sea.

“Thirteen months later, the bottles were still intact; however, the sea certainly made an impact. The bottles were covered with algae, seaweed, and barnacles, all of which were carefully cleaned, dried, and preserved onto the bottles. The result? A pale yellow wine with tiny, soft bubbles, the palate reveals sweet ripe stone fruits, swiftly followed by bracing acidity and an almost salty minerality.”

What a story, right? A delicious wine with the sea on the bottle, cleverly created, with a good story to boot.

Sneaky, Y&YY, you’ve found a great way to get me sharing.

No one paid me to write this. I like Acme Fine Wines, I like this wine and I thought it a cool story to share.

24 July, 2014  |   6 Comments

The Cherry Cordial Revolution

Probably thinking about Grandma Yeager's candy drawer.At 96, my Grandma Clara Yeager (far right) was pissed. A tough Irish broad who raised all 5 of her children during the Depression, she had broken her third hip and could no longer stay at home alone.

Dad and his siblings sent her to live at Woodbridge Nursing Home.

We visited her once a week. My sister and I sat on the end of Grandma’s twin bed watching Star Search while Grandma groused at Dad for putting her there in the first place.

She had a legendary sweet tooth. Fifty years of grandchildren still talk about that candy drawer in her house.

So, when Grandma established a Woodbridge candy drawer, we assumed she had come to terms with staying at the nursing home and the grousing would stop.

One day, a nurse took Dad out of the room for a private chat. My sister wasn’t there that day, and Grandma took the occasion to make a request.

“Listen,” she said, grabbing my hand tightly. “Next time you come, bring me a box of Brach’s Cherry Cordials. Here’s 3 dollars. For some goddamned reason, they won’t let me have them. Put the cherries in my sweater drawer at the bottom, the drawer above my candy drawer.”

Grandma rarely talked to me, much less made a direct request so I didn’t ask why. Soon my dad returned to the room and it was clear this was secret.

A few days later, I bought the cherry cordials at the drugstore across from my middle school.

That night, from the computer, I overheard a conversation between my parents

“…leaving the cherries all over the nursing home.”

“What?”

“She’s sucking the chocolate off the cordial and spitting the cherry out. She leaves them all over the nursing home. The nurse said Mother refuses to comply. The home has offered napkins, containers, special times of day but still, she leaves the sucked on cherries on windowsills, in drawers, in the art room, on the piano, on the table in the cafeteria.”

“So no more chocolate cherries,” said my mom.

Cherry Cordial RevolutionNow I knew Grandma was unhappy with the nursing home, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to be complicit in this… sabotage.

NOW it made sense, why she wanted me to put the chocolate covered cherries in her sweater drawer.

Revolt.

Do I help Grandma? Or do I follow the (eavesdropped) rules and refuse to buy Grandma her cherries?

At the time of Woodbridge, I was twelve, I wore thick glasses and headgear. HEADGEAR.

I preferred writing computer programs to interacting with humans and I was growing hair between my eyebrows.

My body was changing and I didn’t like it. I felt trapped. I had no control over the changes happening to me — and I had less control over my living situation.  I felt like I couldn’t make my own decisions. I wanted my own space, I couldn’t have my own space.

I totally got it.
I decided to help.

It wasn’t her fault her body was changing and everyone told her what to do all the time. That was the worst. I knew from experience.

The next Thursday, I snuck the box into the bottom of her sweater drawer. I did this every Thursday for the next 2 months until she died. They never knew where she got the cherries.

Last fall, I toured Woodbridge Nursing Home with my mom. She’s moving into a nursing home this year under far different conditions (willingly! cheerfully!).

I couldn’t help but look in all the corners, on all the windowsills and shelves to see if they missed one – that maybe, just maybe, I’d see one quivering red cherry, sucked free from its chocolate cover.

Cherry cordial, candy of the revolution.

22 July, 2014  |   Comment

Celebrating the Earnest at Y&YY

It was unscheduled, and positive and supportive. I’ve never been to an event like that.

Y&YY was 3 days in Palm Springs at the Ace Hotel and you are already rolling your eyes at this because it sounds so earnest.

It was earnest.
We could use a dash of earnest.

A Palm Springs Sunset

Good people gathered about 300 humans from their community to share what they knew. The sharing was powerful, but not for the “alternative to SXSW” reasons I’d thought.

The sharing was powerful because I discovered my hunger, our hunger for human connection. These lighted boxes are no substitute for hugging, touching, eye-connecting late nights in person. The sharing was powerful because I met people passionate about this internet that has lately reflected the worst in people instead of the best.

Blogging conference evolve, tech conferences evolve and I really hope the spirit of this event affects other educational/networking events.
My roommate was the foxiest. Also the mom-my-est.

Yes, there was a decidedly hippy vibe, supported by their rules for engagement. Yes, I ate up the respect and positivity.

I also ate up a lot of this kale salad.
Earnest kale.
Apparently I’m one step away from shag carpets and encountering sessions.
(Don’t judge.)

I have been on the RVIP since their first year. Apparently, this is something of which I shall now boast.

But if I hadn’t attended that watercoloring mandalas session with Shelia Campbell I wouldn’t have learned about my new favorite way to unwind with my girls.

I am earnest AND I wear a wig. Oh to be 39 in the year 2014.

Put a variety of chill people in a chill place.
Encourage them to share their expertise,
magic will happen.

And even though I didn’t return with a list of action-items, I came back with perspective that people can be great, that events can be rewarding and fun and that there’s hope for this great internet of ours yet.

This internet needs some hope.

16 December, 2013  |   2 Comments

Harry & David and me (notes from a trip)

I think I told you, back in October, that I had gone to Ashland, Oregon with some food bloggers for a weekend sponsored by Harry and David, right?

Sandy from the Reluctant Entertainer put the weekend together. She is a powerhouse connector. Generous with her time and talents, we were treated to dinner in her home — followed up by her daughter’s violin performance. For the entire weekend, she entertained 15 thrilled writers with a weekend filled with treats.

We had the right amount of down time, so that I could get to know this group of digital publishers well — just like the luxury of down time affords. The great meals, at Ashland cuties like the Deja Vu Wine bar added to the connection.

The best part, for me was meeting all this new-to-me talent (although they’ve been doing it for years).
Inspired by Charm
Add a Pinch
Cookies and Cups
Gimme Some Oven
The Little Kitchen
Amanda from Kevin and Amanda
From Home to Roam
The Inspired Room
Bakerella
Bake Your Day
Love and Olive Oil
Skinny Taste

Harry & David put on an amazing blogger event.

It gave me some space to think more about how blogs work, and why keeping a day job makes for the happiest bloggers.

Why should you care? Harry & David employs locals. They make, bake, or grow about 80% of their products. They reminded me a whole lot of many wineries local to me — dependent on an agricultural product, employing locally and being a big part of the health of a community. The fact that they sell beautiful gift baskets doesn’t hurt either.

My secret favorite part of the trip was the trip to the Rogue Creamery. One of the cheeses that knocked my socks off as a young cheese enthusiast was Rogue River Blue. When I host cheese tastings, it’s nearly always on the plate. And here, I was, at their home base, checking out the facilities, loving up on their marketing director.

Another highlight was our trip to Penny and Lulu for lunch. A gorgeous workshop/flower shop/creative/event space, they hosted an amazing lunch with great people.

It’s starting to be a theme.

The more I live in this world, the more I find that people want to help each other be great. Whether it’s something like food blogging or corporate gift baskets, moss-covered chandeliers or cheese companies, the more I get on, the more I see that we want to do our best and help each other out.

Thanks Sandy for an amazing weekend. It meant the world to me.

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