Monday, October 31, 2011

Bleeding Fingers

Well, it is Halloween, so I needed a blog title like that. It's also (almost) appropriate.

I need to return to Wineapalooza because we met so many wonderful people and tasted some extraordinary wines and those deserve to be shared, so I'm pushing on with it, even though I'm months behind. In fairness to me, I didn't anticipate signing a book deal in the midst of Wineapalooza. I have been a writing maniac of late (hence, the bleeding fingers --or, um, figures of speech), working on The Dog Lived manuscript and it seems like as soon as I look up from the keyboard, another week has flown by. And there is so much going on! So much more to share! So, here's my new  scheme wishful thinking hope and prayer plan. I'm going to give you a little of the remainder of Wineapalooza, and then a little something else. Then wineapalooza, then something else. All of which requires me to actually blog.... Hmmmm.. Well, let's get started.

Wineapalooza left off at the cabin randomly named for Mark Twain. The next day we were in Madera, where we had no winery reservations and thus slept in. Which turned out to be a good thing, because there weren't many wineries (um, none) open on Monday and making wines of the Forgotten Grapes varietals. So we drove on out to Sanger where we visited the Cedar View winery. And what a gorgeous stop that was! I mean, look at this:

Right? How could I not share this with you? Favorite wine at Cedar View was the Alicante Bouschet (see if you don't know that that is!). And in the "it's a small world" category, the owner/ winemaker, Jim Van Haun, and I had a friend in common, so I brought back a bottle of his rose' wine for her (Hi Stacey, if you're still reading this even though you know I lived.) Here's Chris with Jim and his wife Debbie in their tasting room--with a copy of Touring & Tasting magazine open to the page that features them. It's like we're tourists. Only with taste.

For the record, at this point in the Wineapalooza Mother of all Wine trips, we have visited 31 wineries and sampled 269 wines. It was time to head to Paso Robles, which, not coincidentally, is where I dream of living some day.

And for the current "little something else" of this blog post, on this, the last day of "Breast Cancer Awareness Month" I want to share a little news with you. I'm coming up on my 3 year "no-cancer-versary." Well, that will actually be January 28th (the 3 year anniversary of my surgery and thus the last time there was any visible signs of cancer in my body), but that seems right around the corner doesn't it?   I mention that only for context....see, last week I packaged up my wigs and scarves and even the styrofoam head to hold the wigs and donated them to The Pink Ribbon Place. And, I'll admit, it was a strange feeling. Uncomfortable. What if the cancer returns? What if I need these again? And, I can also tell you that I kept the wigs, t-shirts, scarves, etc. all together in a laundry basket in a corner of my closet. I had not looked at those items in a long, long time. So I had a rush of emotions pulling everything back out. It was difficult looking at them again. In the end, that's what made me decide to go ahead and donate the items. That was a different time in my life and it's over. These wigs and scarves can help somebody else now.
Goodbye red...somebody else needs you now.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blog Obssession

Hmmm...perhaps we should just agree that I'm going to post a Wineapalooza blog post, then something else, then Wineapalooza, then something else...because Wineapalooza and all the fascinating and delicious wineries we visited deserves continued blog posting. But also, there's so much else going on now and I can't seem to catch up! Wineapalooza only has 3 more days, but as you've probably learned by now...many of the wineries we visited deserve and require their own posts. What's a wine lover to do?

And did I mention...I have a book deal now? And a deadline for turning in a manuscript? Right! So I'm busy with that writing. I'm really enjoying it. Polishing some chapters, throwing out others, re-writing, writing entirely new's all good. But time consuming. Because, right, I have a "real" job. And Seamus. I have Seamus and therefore must meet Seamus's demands for attention, cuddles, food and walks (and not at all in that order). And ever since the book deal, Seamus's demands have increased. It's like he knows.

For this post though, I'd like to share a blog and website that I've recently discovered. I'd like to share the Dog Cancer Blog with you. Not to depress you, but because it's filled with valuable and promising information. Dr. Dressler has a book out now too, called The Dog Cancer Survival Guide. Man, oh man, do I wish this book existed when Seamus was diagnosed and going through treatment. When Seamus was first diagnosed with cancer, I really couldn't find a lot of information and that only added to the stress. And Seamus's original oncologist was not a particularly communicative (or, um, nice) person. Eventually, Seamus's doctor was switched (at my request) and we were assigned to a wonderful young woman by the name of Dr. Autumn Dutelle. She was fabulous and answered all my questions patiently and genuinely and in a way I could understand. Dr. Dressler (the author) seems that way too. And I bought his book even though Seamus's cancer is far behind him. I find the book fascinating and the blog is too. So I'm sharing. Because, sadly, 1 in 3 dogs gets cancer. That means one day, one of you might need this book and this Doctor's advice for your beloved pet--so your doggie can kick cancer's ass just like Seamus did.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wineapalooza Returns...with Mark Twain

Where did we leave off??? The world's longest wine tasting tour has now turned into the world's longest blogging journey. But, I believe when we were lasting tasting (virtual) wines together, Chris and I had just left Irish Vineyards and were headed into Calaveras for dinner. You've heard of Calaveras County right? Made famous by Mark Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" short story? We were there for wines, not frogs, but still...I'm a fan of Mark Twain. Which explains (barely) why when I saw a small road sign that said "Mark Twain Cabin" I asked Chris to turn off the road and head to the cabin. Chris and I both love those road trips where you just see strange/interesting/ weird things and drive to them, so he turned off the highway and away we went. We winded up this road with no traffic whatsoever and seemingly heading nowhere or at best into someone's ranch or private home. Our first sign of civilization was actually this peacock:
Because we sort of figured it wasn't a "wild" peacock. And sure enough we came upon Mark Twain Cabin...and it had some visitors besides us:

But still, no people.
We parked and approached the, Mark Twain was here...:

and so was I!! Okay, kind of a book geek that I was excited about that, but I was. Until I read the plaque, which said this:

WTH??? Ah, the importance of an apostrophe. It was not "Mark Twain's Cabin" it was "Mark Twain Cabin" in a cabin merely named after Mark Twain!! I could do this at home. I can name a tree "Mark Twain Tree" or my hot tub "Mark Twain Jacuzzi" or hell, I'm going with "William Shakespeare Garage." If I just get a plaque and a road sign, I will lure people in. But why? WHY??? 

We did get a big laugh out of this, and yeah, we blamed all the wine we had for our being so gullible. Then we searched for the hidden cameras (oh, those Rotarian jokesters!).  But, on the other hand, it was a beautiful drive and we had a beautiful sunset on our way back down the winding road.

Our trusty wine-mobile.
Don't you just love road trips??

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Best Advice for BC patients...Including Burping

Spry (inspiring healthy lives) posted an article on "The Best Breast Cancer Advice" from breast cancer survivors. I'm quoted. You'll recognize my usual classiness since I mention burping. No, really. It's a good thing. Check it out.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Laughing at the Big C

(I will finish wineapalooza, I swear...but I had to share this).

Because I was criticized for not taking cancer seriously (um, seriously???), because I hate all the pink-bashing negativity, because people feel the need to remind me that my breast cancer might recur and kill me (gee, thanks, because, you know, I never think of that on my own) and because the thought of judging someone for how they handle cancer or how they deal with it after is ludicrously funny to me..

I love this article: Laughing at the Big C.

And my favorite quote is this:  
“I hope people take away the idea that there’s no right or wrong way to respond to the disease. We all screw up.”


Also, on a more serious note, I found this article on the advances in breast cancer treatment to be very informative, so I'm sharing it too:

Breast Cancer Treatments: No Longer One Size Fits All.

And this was the most reasonable discussion of the "Pinktober" Breast Cancer Awareness Month controversy that I've seen (and, yeah, there's controversy....surprises me too): The Huffington Post

I can't be all wine all the time. It is October after all.

(Oh, and if you feel like supporting a breast cancer cause in all means, feel free to click the link in the upper right hand corner and support my Team Legal Beagle in the Pink on Parade breast cancer walk supporting The Pink Ribbon Place breast cancer resource center. We don't do research. We help women get the mammograms and support they need. I think that's worthwhile.)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dog Blog Hop

I never quite know how these blog hops work, but I do know that I really want to go read allllllll of these doggie blogs. (Which would also give me a brilliant excuse not to be writing the memoir, you know, the one I'm on a deadline for...not a good excuse, just a brilliant excuse.) Must...keep....writing....but these dogs are so!...Look, cute doggies!!...  No! Must. Write. Now.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Best News Ever

We interrupt this Wineapalooza trip to bring you some very exciting (well, to me anyway) that is far more relevant to this blog. News that I've been bubbling over with excitement about for some time now but have had to (very, very impatiently) wait to mention. News that had been a long time in the works and....oh the heck with it:

THE DOG LIVED (AND SO WILL I) memoir will be published in October, 2012 by Sourcebooks!!!

You careful readers will remember that I signed on with the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency last November. And Sarah Jane has been ever so patiently working with me to perfect the proposal and several sample chapters. She then diligently set about selling it to a publisher  and I am ever so pleased that we have found the perfect home for The Dog Lived (and So will I) memoir  (and so far, that's still the title of the book too!) with Shana Drehs at Sourcebooks. I've still got work to do, but I'm super, super excited. October 2012 sounds like a long way off, but there's much to be done to launch a book and now it even seems a little overwhelming, but all so very exciting. I sold my memoir! Somebody wants to publish my book! And Shana, who will be my editor, is a dog lover too so that works out very well.

Seamus has already started making his demands for additional steak, chicken, and also toast. We know who the book's real star is.

(I expect I'll have much more to say about this, assuming I have time to blog...what with all the memoir writing I have to do!! But for now...I just wanted to share the news.)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Kiss Me, I'm at Irish Vineyards

 Part 2 of Day 9 of Wineapalooza

Once again we were running short on time. It's not as easy to taste thirty wines a day as you might think. We did not have time to get to the winery we had originally picked out to visit next. We knew we'd maybe get one more winery in on this day if we picked one quick (I still don't get why tasting rooms close at 5...isn't that when drinking is supposed to start??). Chris let me pick and I picked a very obvious choice...Irish Family Vineyards.

I'm Irish. Chris is part Irish (and part German; so as he likes to say, he wants to take over the world, he's just too drunk to do it). It's like it was meant to be that Irish Vineyards tasting room was just right there. When we walked in we were greeted immediately by a very enthusiastic and smiling man named James, who instantly handed us glasses and began to pour the wine. I like that in a man.  Turned out James was the owner/winemakers dad. We got to chatting. And to drinkin.' And then to shopping (more on that in a bit...because I bought more than wine.)  We've now had several wine tasting experiences, on this trip alone, where we enjoyed the wine and the folks making it in equal measure. Irish was one of those places. James' introduced us to his wife and his son Russell (the winemaker)
The Irish Family

and of course we got to talking all things wine and Irish. This was a great way to end the wine tasting on Day 9. Russell loves Touriga wine, so obviously he has good taste. Other favorites included the 2010 Malvasia Bianca and the 2008 Alicante Bouchet. And the "Pog Mo Thoin" wine which is a blend of 7 grapes and means "Kiss My Ass" in Irish. Which brings me back to the shopping...

I bought shirts for my brother and my niece, because they're both Irish too and they were coming for a visit for their birthdays, shortly after we returned from Wineapalooza. I didn't know until I gave them the shirts and they unfolded them that the back of the shirts said "Pog Mo Thoin." So, yeah, I gave my 15-year old niece a shirt that says "Kiss My Ass." Yeah, I'm that aunt.

We had a nice meal in Murphy's at an Italian steakhouse and then set out for Madera...and that drive resulted in another of the "god I love road trips" experiences. Which, of course, gets its own blog post....

Is it the wine that makes wine guys so handsome? Discuss amongst yourselves.
Back soon!