A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Category: Rambling off the Vineyard Trail

Off the Vineyard Trail #3: A Wedding in WA Wine Country

Life can be full of irony. For example, I was literally in the middle of Woodinville Wine Country a couple weekends ago and left without visiting a single winery. As you know, occasionally, I like to write about wine and here was a golden opportunity. You could have tossed a bottle any direction and hit a winery and yet, I might as well have been in Death Valley. Surprisingly, I’m not entirely depressed about this fact despite feeling like the boy in the bubble after gazing longingly at winery upon winery and not being able to stop. To emphasize the irony, here’s a map of the area. 



Our hotel was four miles up the winery crowded road from Chateau Ste. Michelle at the bottom of the map. There’s only one reason I’d skip this golden opportunity: I love my brother and his wedding ranked higher than me tasting my way through Washington! The breathtaking beauty of the area was a nice consolation. 

img_9592Mt. Rainier welcomed us on the approach into Seattle. I swear I could have climbed out on the wing and skied down it, that’s how close it felt.

img_9601Sadly, my brother has lived in the Pacific Northwest for nearly a decade and I’ve not once gotten to visit him. I could use the excuse of how expensive it is to go or I might just be a lousy sister. We got up early the next day to explore Seattle with the promise to be back to Woodinville before the 6pm rehearsal. Ha! I’ve been in rushhour in NYC, LA & SanFran but Seattle is a whole different ballgame. With only one day, we hit the highlights: Space Needle, EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum with the Star Trek experience (my baby brother’s a sci-fi nut), Pike Place Market with the flying fish and Starbucks.  


img_9661We enjoyed the view from the top of the Space Needle. Although, Seattle might need to call an exterminator. 




The Space Needle’s outside balcony causes you to unintentionally bump into fellow tourists and get a mild case of motion sickness. There should be warning signs on the doors telling you to brace yourself and leave the coffee cups inside. I watched more than one unsuspecting viewer stumble suddenly into the retaining wall. You’d have thought there was more than just cream in their cup.

Wavy floors of fun

Wavy floors of fun

Next we hopped the Monorail, after paying an exorbitant $4 for a round trip ticket, to watch the sport of fish flinging and ogle the birthplace of $5 cups of coffee. Pike Place Market is a multi-level, cavernous indoor/outdoor farmer’s market on steroids. You can walk for days through the winding passageways and still not see every booth or vendor. 


Scent of money, er, coffee.

Scent of money, er, coffee.




img_9705After playing Turbo Tourist, we got to enjoy a rainy, no wait it stopped . . . . it’s raining again . . . ok, it really has stopped, outdoor Fall Wedding. This was our first family gathering since our mom’s passing in April and it was a much needed welcome celebration. My dad had warned me to dress warmly because it’s more north than Oklahoma. Yeah, I know geography! 55 degrees in Seattle during the rainy season isn’t the same as 55 degrees in Oklahoma. It’s cold. However, Fall in Washington is wonderful. It rained the night we arrived and the trees were dressed in brilliant colors the next morning. My brother and his lovely bride tied the knot at a farm (ironically, not a winery but there was one down the street) and it even stopped raining for the reception. 





A rainbow blessing for the newlyweds.



It was your typical wedding with dancing, hoop-la hoops, badminton and family tattoos. My new sister-in-law fits into our goofy family perfectly and she plans ultra-awesome weddings. 

No tramp stamp for me, thanks.

No tramp stamp for me, thanks.

I did get to drink Washington wine: 14 Hands. Lovely. And sample beer from a keg of Mac & Jack’s African Amber to go with the delicious Falafel Food Truck fare. I think food trucks may be the wedding trend of the future!  

Wedding Caterers

Wedding Caterers

In the end, despite no wineries visits, it was still a very enjoyable trip. And all those wineries gives me a really good excuse to visit my brother and sister-in-law more often in the future beside just wanting to see them. 😉 

Until then, 


Me and my lovable goofball.

Me and my lovable goofball.

Off the Vineyard Trail #2 – It’s Marching Band Season!


It’s the first week of August and temperatures outside are over a 100 so that can mean only one thing: Marching Band season is here and we are right in the middle of Band Camp. I have two lovable band geeks (trombone and clarinet) who got up before daybreak on Monday morning to prepare for another year of Battle of the Bands. Our tiny town alone has three high schools and the stakes for ‘Best Band’ bragging rights are high. I’m impressed every year by the number of students who willingly endure grueling hours of practice, sunburn, heatstroke and blisters to be able to strut their musically choreographed talents before a football crowd on Friday nights. Let me tell you, it’s good times!

Camp is a 12 hours a day, total immersion experience where only the truly committed survive. By Monday evening, our clarinet player (a freshman trying to keep up with her hyperactive brother, a junior and trombonist) reported they’d lost four. After Wednesday morning, some had moved to the color guard, others quit and in the end, 26 clarinets had fallen to 13. The summer heat had taken them out. Literally. I guess the sight of fellow bandmates being carted off the field was unnerving or it could’ve been the uniforms they were issued. Who knows? Regardless, I’m convinced that any kid who survives marching season is as tough as the football team. Forgive me, it’s the crazy band parent pride talking.

When we became “band parents” two years ago, we’d only heard faint rumors about the commitment required for band. That first month about killed me but my son was so excited to have finally found his tribe, I curtailed the complaining and tried to enjoy the exhausting experience. I’m pretty sure that’s when my two cups of morning coffee jumped to three. Then came the first marching contest. Wow. This was seriously Big Time. Well-equipped, mini band villages sprang up all over the  stadium parking lot. Each band had their territory  carefully staked out with school flags, tents, equipment trailers, buses and RVs. At our “band village”, a couple of the dads had set up a large tent with chairs, tables, and a 60inch TV to watch the football games. A second tent was for serving  meals. Massive grills and coolers lined the periphery. They grilled chicken. And served homemade potato salad, baked beans, fruit, corn on the cob and dessert. I recite the menu because I naively thought serving sandwiches would’ve been sufficient. Shame on me! We are raising band champs, people! How else will we beat the eastern Oklahoma schools? They need real meals to succeed! Then it hit me. Band was serious and subsequently, band parents (like football, dance, soccer, baseball, etc.) have no lives, I mean, love their kids. A lot.

Actually, it’s been a great experience for our whole family. I’ve seen my kids grow and excel and they’ve gotten to hang out with some pretty incredible people. Then there’s the band parents and their crazy dedication. They will do anything and everything for the band: cook 200 hot meals, hem uniforms, drive equipment trailers at 3am, host 70 girls for a sleepover, lift heavy show props. Whatever’s needed.

Which brings me to the last few days of camp and the start our third marching season. It’s 100+ outside and the oven’s on cause I’m baking dozens of chocolate chip cookie bars for band camp lunch.  The transformation is complete. I’ve morphed into a crazy band parent.

GO WOLVES! Beat Broken Arrow!

Now for a little band humor . . .

done band


Zombie band


dino band



Off the Vineyard Trail #1

This is the first post of a new feature called ‘Off the Vineyard Trail’. It’s a short diversion from the daily focus on wine and a sort of ramble down the faint, wild paths that wind through the main course of life.



Grief is a funny thing.

You never know quite how you’ll respond when you’re confronted with it. I’ve watched from the sidelines while others grieve. I’ve lived through the loss of classmates, neighbors and external family so I assumed I knew how I’d handle things when it was someone even closer. It would be managed with graceful dignity. Ha. Who did I think I was? Queen Elizabeth? The woman has turned emotional control into an art form. No, I’ve learned in reality grief is wildly unpredictable.

I’ve discovered grief sneaks up and catches me in the most mundane moments. Surprise, surprise! We live 99% of our lives in the mundane, ordinary moments. You know, just unimportant, everyday tasks, like doing the dishes or buying milk. Everything appears to be going fine and Wham! I find myself with tears dripping off my chin. It makes no sense to me. And it’s even more baffling when it happens at places like the car wash or the grocery store. I find myself making ridiculous excuses to alarmed strangers for why I’m tearing up by the mangos.

“Oh, would you look at the mangos! So beautiful! The red! The orange! That perfect oval shape. My Aunt Rita’s mango salsa is a shoo-in at the Fair this year with these sublime specimens. I’m all verklempt just thinking about it! I’ll finally take down that snotty Mitzy Garner and her 5 years in a row win! Blue ribbon, I tell ya! Blue Ribbon!”

The most recent occurrence was at the mailbox. I’ve kept up on the bills so it wasn’t a final notice for our Netflix account. Although, if it had been, I’d probably reclaim countless hours of my life back that are spent endlessly scrolling the “Suggestions for You” list while trying to find something to watch. No, it wasn’t a bill. The river of sympathy cards was now a trickle and have actually been replaced with happy, cheerful cards containing checks and gift-cards for my daughter’s graduation so absolutely no danger there. No, lurking among the colorful cards and invitations to graduate parties, was a plain white envelope. Harmless. But all it took was a glance at the sender and the waterworks started flowing.

The cause of this latest torrential downpour, you ask? A car title.

Yes, a car title. This should have been a joyous occasion where I hollered “Hallelujah! Thank you, God!” and cheerfully locked it in the firebox. But no, sorrowful tears. The sort that looked like we’d just received an eviction notice.

See, our daughter got a car for graduation from the grandparents. Every 17-year-old’s dream come true! Now before you get the impression my parents are as rich as the Rockefellers (does anyone remember the Rockefellers anymore? I guess I should say Zuckerbergs, instead), it had originally been a laptop. However, since my dad isn’t able to drive two cars at once until Ford develops that driverless type and my mom definitely won’t be driving, the graduate got a car. You might see her zipping around town. Dashing off to Starbucks. Racing to work. It’s red so you can’t miss it. She even picks up her siblings for me. It’s great. She loves it.

I hate it. Sort of. I should love it too, since I don’t have to spend half my life in the carpool line anymore. It should produce profound thankfulness but when I see that car it reminds me of what’s happened to us. However, with each new day, I’m slowly coming to terms with it sitting in the driveway. Ironically, I had been praying for a car. I just wish the Lord had chosen a different route in which to give it.

So I cling to the Bible verse in 1 Chronicles 16:34 that says,

 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!”


1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

And sometimes start crying while shopping in the plumbing aisle at Lowes.

But that’s grief for you.


photo credit: zastavki.com

Rambling Down a New Path



In the past two months, our family has gone through some major life changes due to the simple fact my mom has died. With any unexpected life change i.e. job, moving, birth and in our case, death, there’s an adjustment. Ours has been trying to find the “new normal”. And because of this, blogging about wine hasn’t been high on my list of priorities. To be honest, my heart hasn’t been into most of the usual activities. I do still love wine and reading about wine and talking about wine and wine places and experiences. It’s actually been therapeutic and a pleasant distraction to live vicariously through other’s wineblogs/blogs but I question the existence of my own. 

I know I fumble around and am oft times lazy with writing, fact checking and coherency on this blog. And there’s the continual challenge of posting pictures that stay upright! However, I truly do have a growing passion about wine and the need for a place to share the enthusiasm and excitement it creates.

So, after a few weeks of thoughtful pondering, I’ve decided to keep going if only because it’s nice having a place to send out random thoughts on wine into the cosmos. They’re sort of like little birds released from a cage. The few posts I’ve been able to cobble together lately have actually given brief moments of relief to my aching heart. And where else can I regurgitate what I’ve learned during #winestudio sessions or my growing awareness of the true depth of my ignorance on wine? Plus, there’s the constant burning desire to share whatever cheap bottle we’ve opened on a Thursday night.  So, in conclusion of all this rambling, I’ve decided to start a new feature that has nothing to do with wine. Instead, it will mainly focus on navigating this new path God has put me on in dealing with the grief of loss and change. Wine will definitely still be the Star but occasionally there will be a ramble away from the vineyard.

Well, dear fellow blog friends, thank you for listening, reading, clicking the ‘like’ star, and commenting on past posts and just being here. It’s meant a lot to me. I’m not sure exactly what’s going to happen but I do know once I’ve walked through this Valley of the Shadow of death, I’ll once more enjoy chatting about wine with you and sharing all the lovely and amazing places it can take us.

And as summer warmly approaches and the plethora of whites, rosés and sparklers are chilled and opened, may you find yourself enjoying the sweet company of friends and family while sharing a lovely bottle of wine. In other words, to quote the New York Times Wine critic, Eric Asimov, “Wine to me is entwined with pleasure, joy, fun, family, and friendship.”

May it all be yours. Cheers!



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