Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday, Monday

The first day of the week has a bad rap, and for many years, I was right in there with all the Monday-phobes. For a while, Mondays were so disheartening that I began to dislike Sunday night too. And then, towards the beginning-of-the-end of my "professional" career, I didn't like Sunday at all, that's how much I was not looking forward to Monday.

During two lengthy sabbatical leaves from work, my feelings toward the maligned Monday started to change. Mondays were good because everyone else had to go to work, and I could get the stuff done that I didn't want to waste my weekends on! And when I finally permanently "quit my day job," and moved up to the vineyard to live and farm full time, Monday took on a whole new and wonderful rhythm.

Who knew, when I said I Do, that I would eventually come around to love Mondays?
  • On Monday, the newspaper (I read two every day) is thin, so I can read them cover-to-cover by about 8 am.
  • The crossword puzzle, which I love to do every day, is easiest on Monday. After the challenging Sunday NYTimes version, I love feeling super-smart on Monday!
  • I love that tourists love my home area in Wine Country, but I am hesitant to take long bike rides with all the weekend wine tasters (drinkers?) out on the road. Monday is blissfully calm for cyclists.
  • The new work week has a positive connotation for me. I look forward to the week of vineyard work ahead and also documenting and crossing tasks off the list.
I think I'm making up now for the lost time... 1/7 of my working lifespan was kind of wasted, not even counting the lost hours of Sunday appreciation. I now practice the enlightening sports of "being present," living in the "Now," and non-resistance to "what is." And it's working! I'm happy, feel free, and yes, I love Mondays! Who knew?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rock Star

In my teens and twenties, I had a fantasy about being a rock star. Hearing Pat Benatar singing "Heartbreaker" or "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," Ann Wilson with "Magic Man," or Joan Jett's "I Love Rock & Roll" all made me break out my air guitar and start rockin' on the imagined stage! A few months after my wedding, when I was almost 30, I remember hearing Dave Edmunds singing "I Knew the Bride When She Used to Rock and Roll," and hoped that I would continue to be eager and enthusiastic about rocking out!

10 months into my marriage, I'm still rockin' ...
This is with my NC gal pals, beach weekend, summer 1990

In the 20 years that I've been living in California, I've met many different kinds  of "rock stars," from celebrity chefs and winemakers to famous technology innovators and world class athletes. I'm grateful that my definition of rock star has expanded, since I now recognize that my personal fantasy of being a rock star has just been realized. Who knew, when I said "I Do," that my chances for becoming a rock star were actually increasing instead of decreasing?

This past Friday, we delivered the bounty from our eighth harvest, the 2011 crop of syrah and grenache, to Robert Biale Vineyards. My sisters-in-law and I stationed ourselves on the winery crushpad, helping to sort the fruit as it traveled from the 1/2-ton bins to the crusher. Eponymous winery co-founder, Bob Biale, asked if John and I would come sign 4 cases of wine bottles for them.

We took pens filled with metallic silver ink, and signed each bottle with a flourish. There were two cases each of Biale's 2007 and 2008 vintages of Kiger Family Vineyard Syrah. The winery will sell these bottles to their enthusiastic customers who really enjoy making a more personal connection with... you guessed it... the rock-star winegrowers! They're talking about doing a special event in the Spring when the 2008 bottles are actually released for sale, and John and I would come to the winery and pour our wine and talk to "The Biale Beloved."

Who knew that I would ever really get my chance to be (or at least feel like!) a rock star?! I better start thinking about my costume now.... Hmmm, wellies or sequins?

John and I pouring "Kiger wine" at a Biale event in 2010

At the winery in 2010 with the barrels of not-yet-bottled Kiger 2008 Syrah

Monday, October 17, 2011

For most of my working/corporate life, I maintained two distinctly separate wardrobes: one side of the closet for work clothes, one side for play. There was little-to-no interchangeability between them. And then there were the shoes... I won't claim to have been competing with Imelda Marcos, or even Sara (!), but I did love shoes and had many pairs, each in its own box, consisting mainly of "pumps" of every color and heel height for work. Today, I still maintain two distinctly separate sets of clothes: one set that is presentable in public, and the other set for working in the vineyard, garden, or with the animals.

My work clothes are what I tend to reach for first in the morning, even for times like right now while I'm "up in my office, working" on my iMac. There are t-shirts of every color, long sleeved and short, including many with old corporate logos and project slogans. Hand-me-down t-shirts from old work-friends. Jeans that have frayed and old chinos that I just don't want to wear "out" anymore make their way to my work-clothes pile. But the shoes... that's the theme for this posting.

Out in the garage, in the single-car bay that houses much of our farm equipment and Wally (our John Deere Gator), is a rack of shoes. They are mostly mine, a few of John's, and there are even a few stray pairs left by various in-laws! There are a few pairs of my work boots, a few pairs of old sneakers and clogs, old flip flops, and then there are my Wellies.

Who knew, when I said "I do," that my favorite pair of shoes would be my blue Lands' End Wellie boots? I slip them on at least twice a day, all year long. With or without socks, in shorts or long pants, and occasionally even while wearing a skirt.

With Jackie, our (now deceased) black ram lamb. Jeans tucked into Wellies.

They are comfortable, even for hours at a time. My feet stay reasonably warm, but don't overheat. My feet easily slip in and out of them, they have good traction, and they keep my feet dry. I even keep an extra pair around for visitors who volunteer to work, including my parents. 

Mom, in my spare pair, preparing the wine bottles
Dad, wearing my Wellies in the vineyard

My Wellies are the outdoor version of my favorite comfy slippers. Who knew how far from my shoe-crazy roots I would fall? Or maybe, in a more enlightened way of thinking, I could ask who knew how far I would progress? And who knew that I would still feel just as attractive and engaging in my Wellies as in my high heels?! (And I think John agrees :-)

Toasting our 22nd wedding anniversary last week just after
we finished crushing and pressing the grapes for the 2011 Rosé.

Monday, October 10, 2011

I was crawling around on all fours the other day, halfway between the vegetable garden and the vineyard, happily pulling weeds. The ground was softened from the first rain of the season the day before, allowing me to easily pull out the entire weed and its roots. I was blowing away stray strands of hair from my ponytail and humming a tune that was stuck in my head. Even inside the work gloves, my hands were dirty.

Not for the first time, a thought occurred to me: Who knew that I would be so content crawling around in the dirt, ridding my world of these evil weeds? Who could have guessed that I even could be? I was smiling, giggling to myself, and imagining myself saying these things out loud.

Who knew, when I said "I do," that I would someday choose to spend hours systematically eliminating weeds one-by-one with my own formerly manicured hands? On my own land, in my own vineyard, and in the dreamscape that I live in with my husband and menagerie. It all started as his idea, his passions, and his study and inspiration more than 14 years ago. I was a willing participant, but I never imagined what life would be like to live on a farm or a ranch or a vineyard, let alone work on a farm or ranch or vineyard, let alone MY OWN farm/ranch/vineyard! Yet here I am, six years after quitting my "day job," blossoming as both a person and a farmer/rancher/winegrower.

The number of "who knew" items on my list has been growing by the day and week, and I think a few out there might enjoy following along. My mother-in-law has been telling me for a while that I ought to write a book, but that's only because she doesn't yet know what a blog is. 

So here it is, my first post: Who knew, when I said "I do," that I'd happily spend hours pulling weeds? I know it's an illusion to think even for a moment that I can actually control the weed population in my organic vineyard and surrounding land. But the satisfaction of pulling a nasty weed and all its nasty, neighboring spawn was very real. It was a tangible effort, satisfying the analytical and quantitative parts of my brain. It was tactile, and I have the callouses to prove it! The smell of the moist earth, the nearby lavender, and the recently-spread wood mulch were delicious. And the resulting "tidiness" brought me joy, even if it is just a temporary visual state. And at least all of the new weeds will be from old seeds, making it that much easier to remove them before they make any new seeds.

I relish the chance to share my tales, life lived by me: a farmer, a farmer's wife, and a woman learning and practicing to truly love "what is."