Really? A Winery Here?

That’s what I exclaimed as hubby and I were driving back through Arkansas toward Tulsa from Memphis. We tend to travel the back roads when possible because you never know what and who you will find. If we like something we will grab a bottle or two to bring home, and if they sell them a couple of wine glasses.

We drove west out of Clarksville, AR on old hwy 64, crossed I-40, passed through Hartman and Coal Hill, and unbeknownst to us were entering Arkansas wine country. I will admit it was simply beautiful. The green hills along the Arkansas River running south of the Ozarks blew me away. After passing a couple of signs for wine tasting I said lets stop at one of them. He was onboard, so we stopped at the Post Familie Winery in Altus, AR. It was a very friendly tasting room, rustic and comfortable. They had a couple of good dry wines. A Seyval (similar to a savignon blanc) that I liked (rare for me,) and a red I had never tried but enjoyed, a Chambourcin.  We bought a couple of bottles.

FYI, I am a dry red wine fan. I love a really good Cabernet Savignon.

Another time I said the same thing was on the southern tip of the Big Island, HI. We drove south out of Kailua-Kona where we had been staying for seven days and heading to a B&B in Volcano for a couple of nights. The two-lane highway wound and twisted through the most brilliantly colored flora and vivid green trees and ferns I had ever seen. This desert girl was enraptured. We saw a sign for Volcano Winery! We had enjoyed the best coffee and now a winery. I was ready to toss my return ticket in the lava. The wines in Hawaii have amazing fruits blended into the grapes, very floral. They packaged very nicely for us the three bottles we brought back.

Hubby and I had a great trip with our destination actually in the middle of the whole vacation. We headed to Red Lodge, MT for a family reunion which took us through Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, and New Mexico. We used our National Parks Passports to find places to visit on our travels. We were pulling a fifth wheel so we could stop in RV parks or road side rest areas, and the occasional Walmart boon-dock. On our way through Nebraska (on a back road) we found an RV park and a winery in a small town near Scotts Bluff in western Nebraska. The winery has since closed and I don’t remember the name. I will admit these were not the best overall wines, but there were a couple we liked and brought some bottles back with us.

The Arizona wine country has some award winning bottles, and the area is in the rolling hills of Southeastern Arizona. Many of the vineyards were started with vines from Napa, Sonoma, and Europe. You drive south out of Tucson to Sonoita, AZ on AZ-83. In Sonoita you will find some retailers who can provide maps to the area wineries. There are also a few in the Willcox area. I really like Coronado Winery, Flying Leap, and Kief-Joshua the best. Many of these have their own vineyards and supplement with area grown grapes from different vineyards. If you are in Southern Arizona and have the time it is worth the trip through the area.

With a road trip coming up in a few months we are looking forward to finding new wines to try and fill our Passport to the National Parks book with some new stickers and cancellations!

Cheers!

-N

 

 

 

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What makes a friend?

What makes one human appealing as a friend? Are there certain characteristics and behaviors that attract others and draw them into a circle of friends?

Because my father was military we moved a lot when I was young. Consequently my friendships were very transient.  I believe this made it difficult for me to form lasting friendships.  My sisters and I are close, but they now have their own families to concern them. I had no real idea of what a lasting friendship looked like.

Until I met Kristen. For some reason she wanted to be my friend.

We met at work in 1985 and are still friends to this day, although she now lives in  St. Louis. We connected immediately, even though she was ten years younger than I. She would call me and want to hang out, would invite me to join her for a weekend at Rocky Point, Mexico. She thought of me when she was going somewhere and would often get me a small gift. She would drop in with a rose bush or small tree for my yard. She spent weekends with Chuck and I and the kids, she liked being with us.

She taught me how to be a friend. When she married I actually was a bridesmaid, not the wedding singer I usually was (although I did sing a song too), which felt very special. We spent lots of years enjoying our families together.

Her move made me realize I didn’t have a network of friends.

The people I know don’t seek me out. I would love to have a couple of girlfriends to do things with yet, I hesitate. Maybe I’ve become the kind of human that others say “Hi” to but I offer nothing to motivate them to be buddies. Perhaps I need more self reflection to know what is about me that keeps acquaintances from getting closer. I see pics on social media of people getting together, making the effort to connect, enjoying human interaction, and it gives me pause.

I know writing and sewing are solitary activities, but I love talking and laughing at happy hour or at my house with the music playing and a bonfire fire going and sharing a bottle of wine with friends.

Is it me?

Cheers!

-N

No cure for travel bug

I was born into a military family. When I was six months old my father was transferred from Harlingen, Texas to Yuma, Arizona. This began a life of travel for our family, thanks to the US Air Force. It was all I knew and I adapted well to this transient lifestyle. I made easy but not lasting friendships, and I looked forward to the next assignment my father was given.

By the time I started high school in Tucson I had lived in Texas, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Japan and the Philippines. In 1971 my father retired at Davis-Monthan  AFB in Tucson.

I was not happy about it. My sisters felt very different than I.

2There were so many places I wanted to see, but my dad was done. His retirement after 20+ years was what he wanted. Before his service in the Air Force he had spent active duty in the Navy then post WWII in Navy reserves as a very young man. So to him his military career was completed.

However, I had acquired an incurable case of travel bug.

I love going someplace I have never been, finding my way around, and fitting into life in that locale. Becoming acquainted with the locals who give you tips on the best places to eat, shop, and relax is enlightening and empowering as a traveler. Regularly I get what I think is a sort of travel depression from longing for the sights and sounds of a distant place.

My dilemma is the disposable cash to fulfill these desires.

So I study photos, history and literature, immersing my mind in what is still left to discover about places like Istanbul, Edinburgh or Budapest. Amazing as it may seem I’ve never been to New York City and count on it, that it’s on my bucket list. I would love to travel from Tuscany to Sicily trying local wines and food. I want to hike the Appalachian trail, spending the days finding the secrets of the mountains. I would love to sit at a bistro in Paris within sight of the Eiffel Tower, watching humanity pass by. Diving in the Florida Keys or the Red Sea, walking a forest of Blue Bells in Kent, waiting for Civil War ghosts at Gettysburg and riding the train from Tokyo to Misawa in Japan. You get the drift.

Desiring the unknown, compelled by different culture and language, finding out what I need to collect for understanding from the next stop and pushing myself toward discovery, I dream of skies, stars, food, faces, and an understanding that my journey will ultimately bestow on me is thrilling.

Immersing yourself in a new environment and culture is the best way to accept the differences and similarities in all of us.

Cheers!

-N

(P.S. My father was movie star handsome!)

 

 

I needed this!

I just came in from outside where I was sitting on the front steps, wine glass in hand, watching Millie go crazy with her toy in the steady rain falling from a very cloudy sky. This friends is my perfect day. 20160802_110957

After what seemed like months of oppressive heat and dryness, we are being refreshed with wonderful rain. My yard is green, my dog is loving the wet grass and cool rain, and I am feeling renewed.

The rain was coming in the form a roll cloud to the north. I was watching it move toward me.

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I hurried inside to grab my phone and once I was outside the breeze picked up and it started to sprinkle. I am lucky that Catalina is near the mountains and higher in elevation making it easier for us to grow green stuff!

20160802_111143My front yard. We are very green right now.

It is a good day to write.

Cheers!

-N

 

 

 

Laptop is sick

For a year now I have had issues with the power on my laptop. The cord doesn’t plug in with a click that  means it is well seated. Also the cord will gradually works its way out and I lose power.

Well today it is doing this weird thing, sort of the way the WalMart stores have the lights dim and then brighten. My computer screen is doing this. It gets dark, then brightens and I have it plugged in right now.

I really can’t afford a new one right now. Just not in the budget. Glad everything is saved on the cloud. Too crazy. Time for wine.

Cheers!

-N

Wine and whiskey

Today started so nice and mellow. A cup of coffee on the back porch while watching the birds swarm the bird feeders, and chase each other around chirping brightly. Chuck repeatedly tossed a toy for Millie who loves the daily morning fun. It really was rather dreamy and chill for the three of us.

I am refurbishing some metal outdoor chairs with new paint and padded seats, very Pinterest of me, so a run to JoAnn for vinyl for the seats was in order. I already had purchased the paint so this would give me all the supplies I need to begin.

While out we also had to make a stop at Planet Scuba on First Ave. to drop off two unused BCD’s for consignment. In case you don’t know what a BCD is, it is a vest divers wear that holds the pressurized air tank and can be inflated/deflated to create neutral buoyancy underwater-buoyancy control device. Hopefully they can sell them for us. It would be great if we can get back to diving more, it is fun but we haven’t been able to do much of it. BCD’s are easy to rent from a dive shop, especially so if you are on an out of town dive trip. It is much better than trying to pack and check with the extra weight. My mask, regulator and fins are personal to me, one is fit to my face-no leaks, one goes in my mouth-not sharing that one, and one fits my feet perfectly. The rest of it I can handle renting.

After these two stops we were right across from Total Wine at Wetmore and Oracle in Tucson so it made sense to stop in for wine and whiskey. Chuck also picked up some cigars. I was trying to find a really good red wine and out of the corner of my eye I saw a young man who was at the Bordeaux tasting a few months ago and I knew he was well versed in reds. So I took off to find him. A sales person asked if she could help me and I told her who I was trying to find. She said, “That’s Justin. Let me call him.” In just a moment here he came.

After telling him what I was looking for he directed me to an Italia20160414_122841n, a Spanish and an Argentinian. He was so helpful and attentive, so I asked him if I could take his pic for my blog and explained I would be sharing about my day. He said sure and so here is Justin. Should you visit that location and need assistance he is the man for you. Not only is he knowledgeable he is cute too.

Love the long hair!

At the check out we were helped by a very fun and cool woman named Megan who approved of the bitters we bought and confirmed our impression of Justin. We left with a box full of spirits and the joy of meeting two very nice humans.

It was a fun day.

Cheers!

-N

Oh man, I like these people

I’m sitting in my writing place. This is it! Dark chocolate and a Napa Cab nearby.writing place

Maybe I should change the blog to vinowithchocolate, but I digress.

My ebook will be available on Amazon in twelve days and I smile whenever I think of it. I can’t wait for the readers to meet Mitch and Amanda.

I’m building followers on my blog, my Facebook author page and Twitter which amazes me. I love followers and I welcome as many as there are out there.

I have started my next book. I had a lot of it roughed out, a lot of research done-love research-and it is well plotted so the writing has started to flow. Flow is the optimal word to describe what is happening. These are really fun people to write for. My heroine is a dream to write dialogue for with her voice in my mind. She is spunky, immature, adventurous, spoiled and sexy. My hero is, well, a hero, you know-tall, dark and handsome-oozing testosterone.

The male voice and perspective is the part where my husband steps up.

I’ve mentioned this before, he is a man’s man and will tell me when I’m writing my male characters too soft or not in a true gender POV.

He’s the first one to go through the story for errors and inconsistency. Like me, he is an avid reader, but not in this genre, so he has fresh eyes.

My stories are historical so the research is paramount to it being valid as not only a romance but in giving the reader a stimulating historical experience. I had someone ask me if I would want to live in the time I am writing and I had to be honest and say-um no. I like central air and heating, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant and feminine hygiene products. But in my study of the times and people there were people who blew my mind.

I have been mulling the idea of a biography of an amazing woman who lived in the late 1800’s. She was who I would have wanted to be had I lived in the time she lived. She watched history be made. We’ll see.

Time to get back to work. I need more iTunes music.

Cheers!

-N

Feeling crazy young

I just had the absolute best time. My nephew is painting my house, he’s a pro. Yeah he’s getting paid. Anyway, his daughter, my so extremely cool niece Trinity and her buddy Casey came by. They live just down the road so the girls walked over to ride back with my nephew Kris.

I turned on the music (of course) and I began doing my aunt duty by giving them lessons in wine tasting, mind you no one underage drank anything, but I showed them the finer point of wine tasting. Using a Malibu red blend I demonstrated what to do and what to look for. They took to it like the pros I expected from them. Trinity is related to me, and Casey is her friend so is awesome by association.

We talked, pretending to be grown ups as I described varietals and the best year for red grapes. We made fun of people who drank fruity wines and sweet Rieslings, you know the routine.

It is my duty to help.

Then we went into my office and Trinity saw the books were being packed up and my laptop open. This girl knows me well. We started talking about my writing and what they had happening in their lives. Such cute girls. These are the girls I did the Cupid Shuffle with at my nephews graduation party, but I digress.

I said, “Listen to this song,” and I played Walk Away by Kelly Clarkson, then Try Me by Jason Derulo. Then I played…House Party by Sam Hunt. There was excessive teenage girl squealing and then the three of us proceeded to sing at the top of our lungs and dance like it was a Hollywood dance club! We were laughing and singing and dancing and the years between us were gone.

God that was fun!

I think this needs to happen very often.

Cheers!

-N

 

 

Writer multi-tasking

Coffee-check, cell phone-check, window open, laptop on.

Open blog, open story for final edit, open new story, start writing.

This is my standard process and the way I get started. Moving between all the projects is comfortable and stimulating for my brain. I feel good about what I’m doing. I am predictable, but don’t tell anyone! I want to be perceived as this mysterious artistic human others are compelled to try to understand but can’t get past the wall of creativity.

Millie will come and lay down beside my feet while I work. She will tell me if someone is there while I lose myself in thought or get wrapped up in letting the words flow. When Chuck is here he will come and stand at the door to watch me or he will come over and give me a kiss then leave me to my words.

I think he is proud of what I am doing.

I have three reference sheets of descriptive words taped on a computer monitor I no longer use. It’s amazing how helpful those words are to my creative mind. Where I sit while working I am next to a nice sized window. As often as possible I have it open to engage with the sounds of dogs, birds and the leaves of the trees moving in a breeze. I have four plants in the room so I can breathe.

Tinkerbell is all over the place. I love fairies and pixies. A former boss used to call me Pixie.

The wine is for afternoon and evening writing. Gotta have wine, ha ha.

Cheers!

-N

A writer’s New Year’s Eve

I’m sitting here with a glass of wine doing a very critical editing of my manuscript. It is cold outside here in Southern Arizona. It has rained all afternoon and the temperature is dropping. I don’t think it will snow but if the skies clear tonight it will be a very frosty morning.

This weather is stimulating and refreshing. I wish a Happy New Year to all. Don’t forget to believe in fairies.

Happy writing.

-N

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