T Minus 1

The meeting went well yesterday. Now we wait for the next step. But what a thing to deal with when we’re grieving for our Lovey. Skipper slept most of the day, then got up for lunch at around 3 p.m., let out a big howl, and ran upstairs and went back to sleep. Shadow ran around like a crazy man, knocked over his cat tree, howled, and ran upstairs. I feel like doing the same. Instead, I’m blogging. 🙂

Grieving for Buddy was so all encompassing – I didn’t want to go through that again. But you can’t really tell yourself not to. You must grieve. Wondering how long it took to get over the initial grief, I realized, well, until Rich was in the hospital. That put things into perspective. But maybe that was just a temporary halt to the grief and the grieving only lessened as we rebuilt our lives, just the 4 of us, by changing our environment. We had a brief 4-month stop in Portland, Oregon for Rich’s job, and then Sunnyvale, California for a year.

So maybe a move would be a good thing, although if it’s Florida, this would be the first time the “original” 5 of us wouldn’t be going. No Buddy. No Lovey. Somehow that feels less than, although we’re already talking about getting a new girl kitty once we get settled, should we move on.

The hardest part is watching Skipper grieve his Lovey. They truly were husband and wife. When we first got Skipper, well, it was love at first sight for me. I felt so guilty because I’d sworn my allegiance to Ginger. I didn’t think I could ever love a kitty more than I loved her. He knew she was the Queen and he gave her proper respect, treading lightly, giving her a wide berth as we hugged the walls. When she was gone, he mourned for 3 days, and then he realized he was the new King and he took over, as the dominant cat.

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Buddy and Skipper, brothers, as Kittens

Three or four weeks later we brought Lovey home, and Skipper fell in love immediately. He was so much bigger than her, but he was very gentle, and came to her rescue whenever he thought she needed it. Even when Rich picked her up to show her the outside, Skipper would give us a look that said, “Hey, be careful with her!” And those two were inseparable. He became hers – she was very possessive – and I had to admire Skipper from afar. Now I have him back but it’s not the same because the real joy of Skipper, as it turns out, was watching him with his Lovey. It’s so painful to see him mourn her. I want to take away his pain and bring his Lovey back.

After Buddy left, he was the brother-in-law, Lovey and Skipper only grew closer. It was a beautiful thing to see, and I’m thankful to have witnessed it. But I’m grieving for so much more than just Lovey. I’m grieving for Skipper and his Bride.

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Skipper and his Bride of 15.5 years

Flu Shots and Krispy Kremes 2014

One year ago today we wrote about getting our flu shots and then Halloween Krispy Kremes in Mountain View, CA in a post called Flu Shots and Krispy Kremes. We’ve decided this is our new tradition so after our flu shots, we drove over to the Krispy Kreme store and went inside to see what this year’s offerings were.

We ended up getting a few of each, a dozen in total, and sat down and shared the pumpkin cake donut – so delish – notice one is missing in the photo.

donuts

Later we tried the pumpkin cheesecake and didn’t really love that as much. Our favorite remains the Spider – the Halloween version of our favorite creme-filled.

Yes, we were really sinful this weekend in Sin City and ate way too many donuts, but that was our big indulgence this weekend.

 

Why We Go Out to Eat

Trying to find a way to fit today’s topic with Two4Disney’s theme of Wining, Dining & Disney, I decided to title it “Why We Go Out to Eat.” The truth is, we’re so annoyed by this California bag law that we grocery shop less – dine out more.

The good news is we have a Fresh & Easy within walking distance so we often pick up a handful of items and skip the bag. The government enforces a 10 cent per bag charge but it’s the principle that counts. Banning plastic bags and charging for paper bags is a lame way to handle the issue of trash. But so far California and Washington State have both instituted such laws. You’d think that Oregon, the king of environmental laws, would jump on the bandwagon, too. But, I guess they’re just too smart for that. 🙂

Check out these articles:

New Plastic Bag Laws Receives Mixed Reactions in Oakland

The Trendy Drive to Ban Plastic Bags: Does It Really Help the Environment?

We find ourselves shopping less and getting by with as little as we can just to avoid this whole bag issue, because bringing your own bags is complicated and annoying and not that useful, in the long run.

Sonoma Trip Report Day 2: MacMurray Ranch

Taste of Sonoma
MacMurray Ranch

It was a beautiful, sunny, 82 degree day as we pulled into the grassy parking area on the property of MacMurray Ranch in the Middle Reach of the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County wine country. MacMurray Ranch was purchased by actor Fred MacMurray in 1941. Fred raised award-winning cattle on the ranch for 50 years.

The ranch has been owned since 1996 by Gallo Family Vineyards (450 of the ranch’s 1500 acres are now planted with Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Zinfandel vines) and managed by Fred and June Haver’s daughter Kate. We met Kate at the Winemakers Dinner last year at Disneyland. She invited us to visit the ranch, but we didn’t know when we would get the chance — until now.

We felt the history of the ranch as we walked toward the event we were attending — the Sonoma County Wine Country Weekend Taste of Sonoma. And we felt very privileged to be here — the ranch is open to the public only for a few special events like this.

Because we purchased discounted tickets for this event with a Visa Signature card, we were invited into the Visa Signature Lounge where special wines and local cheeses were being served.

After enjoying the lounge for a while, we ventured to the other tents representing the four appellations of the Sonoma wine country: Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, and Sonoma Valley.

Some of the food and wine we experienced in the tents were:

Vineyards
Ashton Vineyards, Balletto Vineyards, Buena Vista Carneros, Chateau St. Jean, Deerfield Ranch, Deloach Vineyards, Delorimier Winery, Ehret Family Winery, Everett Ridge Winery, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Frick Winery, Geyser Peak Winery, Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Hartford Family Winery, Harvest Moon Winery, Hook & Ladder Winery, Kendall-Jackson, Kenwood Vineyards, Kokomo Winery, MacMurray Ranch, Mill Creek Vineyards, Rancho Zabaco, Ravenswood Winery, Roadhouse Winery, St. Francis Winery, Simi Winery, Stryker Sonoma Winery, Terlato Family Vineyards.

Wines
Barbera, Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Chardonnay, Cinsaut, Fumé Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Malvasia Bianca, Marsanne Roussanne, Meritage, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Primitivo, Rosé, Sagrantino, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Syrah, Viognier, Zinfandel, as well as special blends like the new Director’s Cut Cinema (Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Sirah) from the Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

Food
Bear Braised Prawn over Creamy Polenta with Montasio Cheese and Spicy Coulis (Hopmonk Tavern), Burrata Beef Tartar BLT with Heirloom Tomato Jam (Simi Winery), Gruyere Cheese Gougere, “Mano Formate” Guanciale, Grilled Fig, Argula & Fig Vin Cotto (The Girl and The Fig), Kobe Beef Slider (John Ash, Vintners Inn), Ricotta & Pork Meatball, Brioche Bun, San Marzano Tomato Sauce (Estate), Summer Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Caviar (Mosaic Restaurant), Zin Biscuits with House Cured Ham (Zin Restaurant).

This does not cover all the food and wine we enjoyed. We did not, however, come close to trying something from all 200 wineries and 40 food booths.

Between visits to the tents, we relaxed at the picnic tables set up on the property and took in a lovely view of the ranch house that Fred had renovated for his family.

We also visited several other interesting places:

Gloria Ferrer Bubble Lounge
We enjoyed the Blanc de Blanc and their other special bubbly blend with some snacks.

Grilling Station
After watching a couple grilling demonstrations, we tasted the grilled angus beef with roasted poblano sauce.

Sonoma County Marketplace
We wandered through the vendors’ booths, stopping only once for a sample of the microbrew beer from Third Street Aleworks Brewpub.

The Prune Barn & Kate MacMurray
The highlight of the day occurred when we visited the Prune Barn. Here Kate MacMurray was giving a history of the ranch and her family, as well as explaining the pictures and memorabilia displayed in the barn. After listening to Kate’s talk, we explored the barn and its memories. Then we got to talk to Kate personally and remind her that we met her at the Disneyland Food & Wine Festival. She was so sweet, talking with us, holding our hands, and telling us how happy she was to see us again and how grateful she was that we were supporting this wonderful event and the charities it helped. Kate is a very special, gracious woman, much as you might imagine her father was.

Shortly after visiting with Kate, we stopped by the Visa Signature Lounge again to try all the cheeses and some more wine before departing the ranch after an incredible day of wine, food, history, and the personal touch of Kate MacMurray.

Next post: Photos from this event

Sonoma Trip Report Day 1: Timber Cove Inn

This trip came about because of what I mentioned in the previous post – after a long, hot, dry Las Vegas summer with outings only to Disneyland and the beach, we were craving something a little more rustic. And we got it at Timber Cove Inn on the Sonoma Coast.

It had been 12 years since our last visit to this rustic hideaway on the ocean. Since then we had lived in Oregon twice, Ohio for a year, Florida for four years, and Las Vegas now for two and a half. What would it feel like to return to Sonoma?

We were happy to learn we could fly directly to Santa Rosa from Las Vegas, avoiding the big 3 airports in the San Francisco Bay Area. From Santa Rosa the drive to Timber Cove was about 1-1/2 hours but the last few miles are on narrow, curving, winding roads.

As it turned out, we found out our flight would be 2 hours late – only after we were already at the airport. This was not happy news because we’d planned on arriving before dark and hoped to pick up some picnic fixings and some wine along the way to enjoy an evening meal in our room. This delay put us driving in the dark on a very foggy evening and it was quite a tense drive. At that time of night, cows are known to come down from the hills and hang out on the side of the road – and they took us by surprise when we saw the first one inches from the car.

But we arrived safely and after checking in at the front desk (you used to check in at the bar – this would be the first of a few changes that took place after the remodel just 2 years ago), we made a reservation for dinner in the waterfront dining room.

The dining room seemed more rustic this time – plain tables with no tablecloths like we remembered – and the menu had changed. Instead of entrees such as seafood pasta, the entrees were all protein-based such as salmon, halibut, steak, chicken, lamb, and risotto. Rich ordered the steak and I ordered the risotto and we shared. Both were absolutely delicious and the serving size was not too large, which we were concerned about with eating so late at night. By the time we finished dinner, it was close to 9:30-10:00 pm. (The next night we shared the Halibut and the Salmon after hearing rave reviews at the firepit.)

Friday night is locals night and there was a Latin band/singer in the lounge and grey-haired Bay Area ex-hippie types were dancing – especially one group of women. I chuckled because it was so Northern California. As a brief note, Rich and I met while living in the San Francisco area – he lived there for 18 years and it was 22 years for me for an average of 20 years. 🙂

Our room was at the far end of the main building. All rooms at Timber Cove Inn are funky, to say the least. We had the room with the strange jacuzzi so deep you’d have to have a ladder to climb out of it, and a sauna of all things. So 1970s. But the fireplace was wonderful (gas – not wood like before). When we went out to sit by the firepit after dinner, we discussed the individual weirdnesses of our rooms.

Unfortunately, one Bay Area woman (I knew it before she even said where she was from. In fact, I blurted out, “What part of the Bay Area are you from?”) was dominating the conversation, and you could tell the rest of us wanted to throw her off the cliff. lol! This was not my idea of a good time – especially on my vacation. But I suspect she’d had a little too much wine to drink so I’ll have to overlook her obnoxious behavior. But the romantic, private setting we’d enjoyed before was starting to feel like group camp out by the firepit. You never know who you’re going to be sharing it with, but the San Rafael dentist sitting closest to us did play a little trick on her.

Here’s how the firepit conversation went. When you arrived, the obnoxious woman from Alameda would say, “New person, new person, you have to tell us where you’re from” and when you did, she’d say, “I’m sorry.” Ha, ha, ha! She didn’t like my answer when I said I was from all over. She didn’t like it when I said I’d been having adventures. She especially didn’t like it when I said I was now living in Vegas.

So what did the dentist say when she made a point of saying, “There’s a child here” as if that was a terrible thing? When asked where he was from, he said he was the poor white trash living in the trailer park down the road. That shut her up – for a moment. Actually, he made a point of telling all of us he was paying $400 a month each for 3 slips for his little vacation on the ocean.

Finally, her little group left and the rest of us (most from Orange County in Southern California) had a fun, normal chat around the firepit. We left that group close to midnight. How ironic it took a little firepit on the ocean to keep us up that late when we live in a town that stays open 24/7.

I’ll post some pictures taken of the coast in the next post.