To spend a day in northern California’s Russian River Valley is to love it. Pillowy morning fog nestles between the rows of a vineyard. Pickups rattle down narrow, windy country roads. The dog roaming around the parking lot of the winery tasting room is always allowed inside.
Washington, D.C.-area folks will have the opportunity to enjoy the sites and tastes of this premier Sonoma County wine region on Wednesday, Feb. 6, when filmmaker Joe Nugent brings his film “From Obscurity to Excellence: The Story of Grapes and Wine in the Russian River Valley,” to the Letelier Theater in Georgetown. Tastings of sought-after wines from the Russian River Valley will be included in the $15 ticket.
The Russian River Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) is renown for its Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, its perfect grape-growing weather and the down-to-earth nature of its people. The growers consider themselves farmers, many who’ve been farming the same land for generations, and the winemakers are mavericks who tried things with wine that surprised everyone, including themselves.
Nugent’s film tells the tale of this region’s rise from an undervalued backwater to an AVA whose name on a label increases the price tag. It’s a one-hour history lesson on the area’s settlement by Italian immigrants, struggles after Prohibition and blossoming as a premier wine region. Nugent, a Russian River Valley grower himself until he recently sold his vineyard, snagged interviews with legendary growers and winemakers like Joe Rochioli, Jr., Davis Bynum and Burt Williams of Williams Selyem.
Nugent is bringing his movie to Georgetown’s 85-seat Letelier Theater as part of an American Grand Cru Society event. American Grand Cru Society is an organization hoping to recognize and identify best-in-class American vineyards. The Society will be serving wine tastings from Williams Selyem, Hook & Ladder and Lauterbach Cellars.
Flipping through the new Crate and Barrel catalogue, I was struck by a photo near the back. A shot of two handsome guys having dinner at a candlelit table. Big glasses of wine. Warm smiles. Most importantly, the guys sat catty corner to each other, only the corner of the table separating them.
It reminded me of the times I’ve gone to the movies and saw two men who were obviously friends sit with an empty seat between them as if to announce that they were not interested in sitting close to a man. In the Crate and Barrel catalog, the first ad I’ve seen of its type, these two handsome men were definitely glad to be sitting next to each other.
Love comes in all shapes and sizes. Slowly but surely, with all the effort it takes to push a boulder up a mountain, it seems the world is starting to accept that. We as a society have passed same-sex marriage rights and we’ve voted openly gay politicians into seats of power. Trust me, I know I know I’m using a very fuzzy, hearts-and-rainbows “we.” But the situation for people just looking for the freedom to love who they want to love, while still far from perfect, has improved.
It’s nice when mainstream media reflects that. Advertising, with its credo to entice without offending, loves to cling to tired traditions, which is why cleaning product ads still believe men are allergic to brooms. Crate and Barrel probably wasn’t worried their “Us&Always” ad would offend the urban and hip audience it aspires to attract, but they still took a chance with their photo of two happy men sharing a romantic meal, a chance I don’t see others taking as I flip the channels or scan through magazines.
If nothing else, it’s a step. The next step, I guess, is that the appearance of an attractive gay couple being used to sell a product loses its notoriety. We can hope that one day, the sight of two men or two women openly appreciating each other becomes so commonplace, it’s no longer notable enough to write a blog about.
Groggy and sleep-deprived the other morning, I cursed author Ruthie Knox and her debut novel Ride with Me, a steamy and funny contemporary e-novel about a man with secrets and a woman who no longer believes in love on a cross-country bike trip. I’d bought the book the night before at 10 p.m. with every intention of reading for thirty minutes and then snuggling into a good night’s sleep.
God only knows what time I put the book down. I do know that when I stumbled downstairs the next morning, I was able to finish the book in the time it took to drink my morning coffee.
Damn you, Ruthie Knox.
Knox uses the unusual setup of a cross-country bike trip to strand two strangers on an island of isolated bike trails, unknown scenic towns and dark and intimate camp sites. Tom Geiger, a dark-haired tattooed cyclist with the world on his shoulders, is tricked by his sister into riding the TransAmerican Trail with Lexie Marshall, a pretty school teacher with a schedule to keep. Although he’d rather ride alone with his guilty thoughts, Tom doesn’t feel comfortable abandoning a woman on the trail. Lexie feels safer with a partner, but feels stuck with the hot but taciturn guy whose grumpiness might ruin the trip she’s waited a lifetime to take. She quickly makes up a husband so that Tom won’t think she’s relying on him to “fix my flat tires and service my delicate lady parts.”
Romance on a cross-country bike trip? Huh? But Knox keeps the focus off the chapped asses and flies in the teeth and instead hones in on the hot showers, the get-to-know-you dinners and the building intimacy between two opposites who must rely on each other while trying to resist staring at the muscular behind in front of them pumping a bike up a hill. Knox is able to build in believable barriers that keep the tension building…and building…and building. Her hot love scenes and the emotional changes in these two characters determined not to love are certainly worth the wait.
Knox has three books and a novella coming out in the next six months, according to Amazon, so it’s a good time to catch up on last year’s releases from an author recommended by writer Cecilia Grant, who I deeply respect for her intelligent and sexy historicals. Like Grant’s historicals, Knox’s “Ride with Me” was smart, steamy and one-of-a-kind.
At the end of last year, I fell in love. She’s neat, well organized, color-coordinated and blue. A beautiful rich blue. She’s my binder.
I picked her up in October, overwhelmed by all the projects I was juggling: a new book, freelancing, homework, my own branding efforts and a business idea. While I worked on each project everyday, I never felt like I was moving forward with any of them. Or if I was, I couldn’t see the progress through the noise.
But using her to help me organize my projects, chart my goals for each project and map out time during an eight-hour workday to make a step toward each goal has literally brought me joy. My husband remarked that I was fondling my new binder so much that it was like my new boyfriend. “She’s too brilliant to be a boy,” I replied. “She’s my new girlfriend.”
Step 1: Before you go, list your projects
What are you juggling as a writer? Make a list of your projects. I was able to categorize my work as personas: the novelist, the employee, the student, the freelancer and the mogul (a bit of humor on my part.) Once you know how many projects you need supplies for, then you can head to the store. I knew I needed supplies for five projects.
Step 2: Choose a binder, tabs, blank paper and calendars
I chose the Arc System by Staples (no money received from them; they don’t know I’m alive), because I like the size, the colors available and the fact that the paper pulls out without having to open the binder. But any notebook with tabs and paper you can reorganize will do. You’ll need to buy as many tabs as projects you have, so I bought five. You can purchase your organizers’ monthly and weekly calendars, or you can just print calendars from your computer.
Step 3: Buy color specific pens and sticky notes
Purchase a different colored pen or marker and as-close-to-matching sticky notes for every project. Why? You will use the markers to write on your calendar and the notes to jot quick reminders. When you’re looking at your monthly or weekly calendar, the different colors for each project will help you quickly assess your workload: Are you working on every project every day? Is one day missing one of the projects? Being able to visually see the time spent on each project will be an important part of your time map. The color-coordinated note will also help you quickly remember what project each note is for.
Step 4: Putting it together
The joy of this binder is that it will keep you focused on the immediate steps that will get your long-term goals accomplished. So only put in the current month and week’s calendar and a small amount of paper for each tab. Try to do anymore than that, and not only does your brain get overwhelmed, so does your binder. Your calendars go first, then your tabs and paper. Stick the sticky notes (again, just a few) to the back inside cover of the binder. The Arc System had a handy flap for my pens, but you can always use a pencil bag attached to the binder.
Step 5: List your immediate goal for each project
What is your first goal for each project? This should be written down, in eight words or less, on a piece of paper that will go directly behind the appropriate tab. A completion date and appropriate notes should also go on this sheet. These immediate goals will help you focus on the steps you need to take to get up the mountain. Additional notes and to-do lists can go behind. As each goal is completed, rip it out and fill in another page.
Step 6: Filling in the monthly calendar
Now that you have your immediate goals in mind, your monthly calendar can help you map out when you’re going to accomplish those goals. Write in real-world events that may conflict with your work schedule in black. Then write in any goal completion dates in the colored pen you’ve chosen to represent that project. Then, map out the time you will need to spend on the project to reach that completion date. Be realistic. If you know you have an all-day meeting, don’t write that you’ll spend three hours on another project. Given enough planning, an hour a day is enough time to get you where you want to go.
Step 7: Filling in the weekly calendar
Finally, use your project pens to fill out your weekly calendar. I prefer to do this on Sunday, before the onslaught of Monday morning makes me frantic. Again, block out real-world events in black. Then, using the monthly calendar as a guide, specify the time you will be working on a project (say, from 9 a.m. to noon) and what you want to accomplish during that time. Many times, I will leave Thursday and Friday relatively blank and fill those in later based on what I was able to accomplish earlier in the week.
Simply writing it down in a binder won’t make it happen. But now you’ve written down your project goals, you’ve set completion dates and you’ve mapped out the time. Like I said, isn’t she beautiful?
CONTEST: Win Tix & Merch from Delta Rae
If you follow us on Twitter, you probably already know about our new love affair with Delta Rae. Their latest, Carry The Fire, has the NC Natives taking off (you have probably heard their hit - ‘Bottom of the River’ on the radio), and you have a chance to see them LIVE on our stage January 5th and even get a signed poster and CD from our friends too!
- Send us your photos CARRYING THE FLAME – sparklers, lighters in the air, you at your welding job, it’s up to you! Get creative!
- Tweet your photo to @930Club with the tag #DeltaRae930 to enter to win a pair of tickets AND merchandise from the band!
Winner picked at 12PM on Friday, December 21st.
Last week, I gave my 11-year-old son love advice, a tip that I hoped would stick in his little brain about how to stay in love once the goose bumps and pheromone highs have passed. This week, I asked friends and family what one bit of advice they would give to a child about staying in love. Some of these adults have children. Some of them don’t. Some of them are masters of lasting relationships. Some of them aren’t. The one rule: I asked them to keep their advice at two sentences. Kids have short attention spans.
I’m going to compile all the advice into a slideshow that I’ll premiere next week. But I thought I’d go ahead and give you some of the gems now.
My young son and I were in the car discussing the living arrangements of his friend whose parents are divorced when my sweet and empathetic boy said, “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that doesn’t happen to my kids.”
It kind of broke my heart. I would have loved to have said, “Indeed, you won’t get divorced,” and given him a helpful tip – like looking both ways before he crossed the street or checking his fly before walking into a room – to prevent disaster from hurting him.
It was only when he said, “It’s so hard to find somebody perfect,” that I realized I did have something to tell him about love, a tip I could press into his malleable brain in hopes that it would make a difference as he looked for that disaster-free mate.
“Be with someone who likes you just the way you are,” I said. “And who you like just they way they are in return.” Forgive the improper grammar. You know what I mean.
It’s too hard to be perfect, I told him. Find someone who likes your imperfections. Who makes you feel good about yourself because of your quirks. Someone who doesn’t want to change you. And someone you don’t want to change, because you know that if you tried to re-engineer one of their flaws, you’d be messing with one of their beauties as well.
Find the person whose too-loud, raucous laughter in public is something you appreciate as part of the fire that makes her so fun in private. The person whose search for music that sometimes makes you wince is something you admire as part of his refusal to let life become stale.
I don’t know if this tip will help my son avoid a far-off-future divorce. So far it’s worked for his Dad and me. If you could give a child one tip on how to insure lasting love, what would it be?