Today in My History
(I'm not even going to bother with this until I get home--too much work)
Our 2008 Holiday Letter
IN MY OPINION
Cinderella Books Read in 2008
"Keeper of the Bride"
FUNNY THE VLOG
A Cousins Christmas from Bev Sykes on Vimeo.
16 December 2008
I have had more wine today than I have had all of last year, I'm sure.
I slept so-so on the couch here and was so intent on making sure I woke up before anybody discovered me there that I actually woke up every hour until I finally got up at 6. Then I realized that I had left the computer in the bedroom, where Walt was sleeping and I didn't want to wake him up, so I sat here listening to music on my iPod until Mike finally woke.
When I finally checked e-mail, there was sad news. Poochini had died, Ashley reported. It was not unexpected. I'd been suspecting that the little guy wasn't going to make it. She said Tosca was doing fine.
Carlos came in around 9 to get us started on our gourmet breakfast (Belgian waffles, apple sausage, broiled grapefruit) and to report that Bush had shoes thrown at him in Baghdad. I'm afraid we giggled. He suggested I look on You Tube to find the video, which I did. As we were watching it, my cell phone rang Ashley's special ring (a dog barking). I answered it and asked how she was "not good," she replied.
There was something in her voice that made me ask if Tosca had died and she said that she had. Apparently Tosca had managed to get herself out of the box she was in and into the cage and from there thru the bars of the cage and she fell onto the floor. I don't know how long she was there, but Ashley thought she was OK when she put her back in the box, but then later she found her dead. As I thought about it later, that floor is awfully cold and if she was there for any length of time it could have so shocked her that she would not have recovered. I feel very sad about it, but sadder for Ashley. We knew going into it that saving the puppies was going to be iffy. Not only were they very young, but so very, very tiny. It's why I didn't let myself bond with them yet. I'm sorry that it had to be Ashley who had to deal with both deaths.
We got on with our day. Carlos gave us a fascinating history of Ambrose Bierce, a writer for the San Francisco newspapers, who actually lived in this house, a few blocks from his friend, Robert Lewis Stevenson, who suggested Bierce move here for his health. We are on the second floor of the house, which was originally the ground floor. When they decided to expand, the roof could not hold the weight of a second floor, so they raised the original house and built another floor under it.
Bierce was eventually killed in Mexico when he went down to be an observer of fighting there. His body was never recovered. Gregory Peck apparently visited here when he was preparing to play Bierce in the movie Old Gringo. In fact, he sat in the very spot where I am sleeping. I feel so special.
We were meeting our friend Audrey at a restaurant at 1 p.m. and had time to kill beforehand so, naturally, we looked for a winery to visit first. We ended up at Mumms Napa, the champagne/sparkling wine folks. We were too late for the most recent tour, but we sat in the tasting room and tested some of their wines,
after which we took a tour through their photo gallery, mostly photos from the Ansel Adams gallery in Yosemite (though not photos by Ansel Adams himself...or of Yosemite either!). I think this was one of my favorite photos of the day.
We had a fabulous lunch at Bistro Don Giovanni, where we all had raviolis with lemon cream and/or butter herb sauce.
But my favorite thing written on the menu was meant for the younger set. It reads: Pizza per Bambini, Tomato, Mozarella, fries, no green stuff. (Pizza and french fries and no salad for little kids!)
After we left Bistro Don Giovanni, we stopped at Merryvale Winery, where Audrey had told us we could have free wine tasting. They had a gorgeous formal tasting room, all decked out for Christmas...
...and after Char discovered she and the barkeep shared a love of college football, he couldn't have been nicer to us! (Go Bears!)
But the best of the day was yet to come: Castello di Amarosa, which I described as "Disneyland for the wine lover." An authentic faux Medieval castle which opened its portcullis last year at the northern end of the valley. It was built by Daryl Sattui, who also owns a former monastery and a Medici palace in Italy, as well as the V. Sattui winery here in the valley (my 6 degrees of separation here is that the founder of the winery is related, somehow, to the woman my father dated before he met my mother).
It was pouring rain when we arrived and I felt like a drowned rat by the time we found shelter. It was also snowing along with the rain and Walt said my hair looked like it was frosted with silver.
We were too late for a tour, but we did see most of the castle, including the magnificent Great Hall and the tasting room downstairs. I will get up a folder of pix when I get home. I took lots. We did miss the dungeon, which is supposed to be set up with torture equipment such as a rack and an iron maiden Sattui apparently bought for $13,000 in Pienza, Italy (no water boarding equipment, tho).
The nice thing about visiting an authentic faux castle is that nobody is going to yell at you for taking flash photos of the authentic faux frescos.
We returned to the B&B just in time to meet John and Lisa, the real innkeepers, who are friends of Rich and Pat, and who joined us for cheese and...more wine! If you'd like a cheese recommendation try to find l'explorateur, a triple cream brie as smooth as butter. We're going to try to find some at the local gourmet market tomorrow before we go home.
No time for games tonight. We sat around the table having our "dinner" (pita chips, guacamole chips, and veggies) and how the discussion progressed from Prop 8 through the planet Xenu to the Foucault Pendulum at the new Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park is a testament to how easy conversation flows when you have friends you have known for nearly 50 years. (If you want to know how the Foucault Pendulum keeps swinging, there's a bird dunking his head in a big bowl of water over and over again at the top, unseen by visitors to the museum!)
I don't think there will be wine tasting tomorrow, other than our breakfast mimosa. I think we are just going to turn our wheels toward Davis once we have finished the eggs benedict. But it's been a great, if brief, getaway. I feel sad that I'm going home to only 3 dogs, but I'm glad Ashley was there for Poochini and Tosca when they died.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
A beautiful rainbow outside Merryvale Winery
MILES TO NOWHERE: 89 miles