A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tidbits from Napa

First, sorry to report that Ed didn't do anything particulary endearing or funny during our trip. Well, he did have that cooler incident last Sunday, but that was post-Napa.

The trip was fun - I'm glad it was a gift because Napa has gotten way too expensive and crowded to go there on my own dime any more. But the B&B was wonderful, the breakfasts (that would be the second "B") were really good, and we tasted and bought a lot of wine. Wineries in Napa are mostly big. And now they all charge $10 to $45 for a tasting! Keeps a lot of drunks off the roads, but it does add up. We went to one place where they gave us a free taste of their Rose before we started on the pricier wines. It wasn't very good, quite bitter as a matter of fact. We noticed that, on the fact sheet, where they tell you the amount of time each wine was aged, this one said, "None". So that was our first clue. Then the girl behind the counter said, "This is just a fun wine - not one of the serious ones." The price for a bottle was $30! I gotta tell you, for $30 bucks I want a VERY serious wine!

Lots of little things from this trip brought back memories. The bathroom in the inn (which was built in 1919) reminded me so much of my grandmother's bathroom in Tucson. The same small tile on the floors, little built in shelves, the colors. Everytime I went in there I felt like I was transported back about 50 years.

In the main part of the inn, there was a little grate on the floor. It was one of those old-fashioned grates that have the checkerboard pattern. This brought me back to my great-grandmother's house. She had those grates on the floor for heat. When my brother was about two, he fell down on one of them and burned a checkerboard pattern on the back of his little leg. Don't know if the little bucko still has a scar (42 years later), and I don't plan to look.

Then there were the manzanitas. Driving through Napa we saw many manzanita trees and bushes. The trunks and branches are a cherry red color and they are really very pretty. When my parents bought their first house in Tucson, it has a corner brick fireplace. My mom really wanted a manzanita branch to put on the fireplace as a decoration. So the whole family piled into cars and drove to Sabino Canyon or Mount Lemmon - can't remember which one. We scouted around for just the perfect bush and my dad and uncle climbed the hill to cut down the bush. While they were up there carefully pulling off the leaves, cleaning the branches, complimenting themselves for being brave enough to climb the hill (remember, they were from Chicago) and do this wonderful thing for Mom, a Sheriff's car drove by. The Sheriff stopped, got out, and in his best Tucson drawl said, "What are you boys doing?" "Oh, we're just getting a manazanita branch for our house." Sheriff said, "Don't you know that it's illegal to take any plants out of the desert and that could cost you a fine or some jail time??" Why, no, they did not know that. My dad and uncle got pretty scared, my cousin and I started crying because our dads might go to jail, and my mom - well, my mom just wanted her damn branch!

So, my dad says, "Do you want us to put it back?" To which the Sheriff said, "Well, you can hardly do that. Go ahead and take it, but don't ever take anything out of the desert again." And, trust me, they didn't. That branch hung on our fireplace for years. Mom would hang Christmas cards on it in the winter, and Easter Eggs in the spring. Here's a photo that my dad took when he got to the top of the hill, and one of my Mom and sister in front of the fireplace.

And, last, but not least, there were the accordians. We went to an Italian Restaurant the first night and the entertainment was a rather elderly man (even older than ME!) playing the accordian. Everything from Italian songs, to show tunes, to (god help me) Beatles songs. My cousins, Ken and Sonny, had to learn to play the accordian when they were little. Being Italian and all, it was sort of a right of passage. When we moved to Dayton and then to Tucson, we would often get long-distance calls from my aunt in Chicago so we could hear the boys play. Ken's entire repertoire was Mona Lisa. So we heard varying versions of that. Sonny's "song" was Celito Lindo. He never really wanted to play for us so the phone call usually sounded like this:

Aunt: Hi! We wanted you to hear Sonny play his song
Us: Yippee!
Aunt: Come on, Sonny. Play for Aunty Rosemary.
Sonny: No, I don't want to.
Aunt: Sonny, get over and play.
Sonny: [now crying]. I don't want to play it.
Aunt: [voice an octave higher}. Get over here right now and play the song or, so help me, you're gonna get it!
Sonny: [now crying louder] Sniff, sniff, sniff [while playing Celito Lindo)
Us: Wow, that was really good. Thanks, Sonny
Sonny: [dead silence]

Needless to say, neither of them became concert accordionists.

So, that was Napa. Mostly a lot of great memories. Some really good wine. Two lovely dinners out. And a nice relaxing way to spend a birthday.


Jenni said...

Poor Sonny. Childhood was rough for him.

Chris said...

OMG...I am so jealous. I would love to go to Napa. Sounds like a good time was had!

Fleur de Lisa said...

For $30, I want a really good wine too!

The old photos are fantastic, Sandy.
I'm so glad you had a good trip.

Chatterness said...

Sonny and Celito Lindo!! That's great! Gotta play celito lindo for everyone...especially on birthdays!! Wow! Glad u had a great time!

Nikki said...

Sounds like a great time and I am glad Ed had a break from the funniness! Even funny people need to relax right? I love walks down memory lane, nostalgia is the best! :)N

Jo said...

Your trip sounds fantastic...good food and good wine. What more could you ask for.
Have always wanted to take a wine tour. Ahhh someday.:0)