All posts by winecountrydiaries

I live in Sonoma with my husband, two sons, three cats, one dog, some fish and 600 vines. My blog is a weekly journal of sorts, sharing my love for writing, wine and wine making, gardening, reflections, friends, travel, poetry, good food and cool places I might happen on. I look forward to sharing my musings in the wine country and beyond with you.

Hello on this Sacred Sunday

I like the idea of you being out there, me here, sharing in an intimate, yet quiet exchange on this Sacred Sunday. 

I breathe in and out, and savor these precious times, wondering if you might be doing the same?

I pick the last of our sunflowers and put it in a vase. It’s sunny face makes me smile and relax into the day. I have made a home here, among the grapes, the garden, the Redwood trees.

“Your True Home Is the Here and Now,” Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Master & Activist writes this in Lion’s Roar magazine. He talks about the 5 Practices to Nurture Happiness, and how to find one’s true home. 1. Letting go. 2. Inviting Positive Seeds. 3. Mindfulness-Based Joy. 4. Concentration and 5. Insight. He says, “We each have many kinds of ‘seeds’ lying deep in our consciousness. Those we water are the ones that sprout, come up into our awareness, and manifest outwardly. ”

As I think about his wise words, I water my seeds by connecting with each of you through my writing.

I wish you peace and joy on this Sacred Sunday. May you find what fills your soul tank. Thank you for being in my life.



Sunday Morning Funnies

Dear readers,

I hope you get a “Giggle and a Grip” out of my Sunday Morning Funnies. (And if you don’t there’s always the news.) Monicas iphone photos 418

I like to pretend that Sundays are my lazy days, a time to regroup, recharge, and reboot when I’m by myself, or with my colorful family and friends (you know who you are).

The words, regroup, recharge, and reboot place an emphasis on the prefix “re-“, which means “back” or “again”; and according to, ‘re’ appears in hundreds of English vocabulary words. For example: reject, regret, or revert. Hmmm…I prefer my re-words, don’t you? How about rejoice? That’s good one.

Like my dog, Ella, she knows how to do it.

Fall 2016 009

Sigh. I wish I could be more like her. She’s a master at the Art of Doing Nothing. And I mean nothing. Zippo. Zilch. She’s not even aware of her god-given gift! Talk about unfair!

Then, there’s my cat, Shelby. She doesn’t engage me much when I’m busy running around. She just looks up and yawns, as if to say. “Get a grip, will ya?” In fact, she doesn’t give a rats-ass (actually she might if it’s a rat), if I rest or not. Why would she?

She’s too busy cleaning my room, doing the laundry, and paying my bills.

Monicas iphone photos 673

As for my Sunday Tips:

  • Make time for a power nap.
  • Don’t under-estimate the power of ignore.
  • And the next time you think you hear your pets talking to you, see a doctor!

Note: And no, I’m not a cat person, or a dog person. I’m a Muppet person.

Happy Sunday my friends!

What Needs Pruning in your Life?

Every year at this time, the vineyards call our attention. My husband, Dan and I live on an acre of land and tend to 600 vines in Sonoma. Come the break of Spring, the vineyards ask to be freed of their dead weight, scraggly wintry branches they’ve been holding up for far too long. The vines need room for the sun and time to breathe before the birth of little pink bud-babies.

After months of rain, the dormant vines received their wish yesterday. A group of hired-hands came together to alleviate the vineyards from their weighted past. With clippers, they made space for possibility, vast and beautiful as the Sonoma sky.


Photo Credit: Deborah Parrish Photography

I soak in the beauty of scarcity that only comes at the tail end of winter. I feel lighter now, knowing the heavy work is done. As I stare out my living room window, the vineyard landscape is breathtaking: open and stark. I am reminded that I too, need to prune the things in my life that no longer serve me, so I can make room for more life-affirming, joyful acts.


Being a lover-of-lists, here’s what I am pruning out of my cluttered life to make way for more open, life-sustaining fulfillment, like candles. Heart candles!

Here’s my list:

  1. Less Whining = More wine! More friends and more wine.
  2. Less News and Social Media = More reading, writing, listening to music.
  3. Less Talking = More Prayer, meditation, and silent retreats.
  4. Less Clutter = More sanity!
  5. Less procrastination = More ‘Be Here Now’ activity.
  6. Less seriousness = More laughter!
  7. Less planning = More trust to let the day unfold.
  8. Less pressure = Enough with the should have, could have, would have thinking!

As the old saying goes, “Less is More.” The recipe for simplicity.

What do you think needs pruning in your own life? I wonder. (Hope it’s not me. Haha).



The Power to Soar

I just finished reading a book called, Circling the Sun, by Paula McLain, a powerfully written novel about Beryl Markham, a woman brought up wild in Kenya, Africa. If you loved Out of Africa, this unconventional story is for you.

Beryl was involved with Deny’s Finch Hatton and hungered for his love for most of her adult life. She endured societal scandals as well, swept up in a love triangle between him and the writer and Baroness Karen Blixen who also loved him deeply.

What stays with me was Beryl’s fearlessness, a pioneer in her own right. She was one of the first women racehorse trainers,

“We read to know we’re not alone.” C.S. Lewis

There’s nothing like a good book to keep us company. And nothing more intimate and graceful, the experience between the storyteller and the listener. The writer writes, the reader reads. The bond is cemented. This silent exchange requires nothing of the reader but their time and attention for the length they are willing to give the book.

I have spent many a fine hour lost in a good book. Here is a list of my book faves, in hopes they will become yours too. They are not in any particular order.

  1. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
  2. My Antonia, Willa Cather
  3. A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
  4. Circling the Sun, Pam McLain
  5. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
  6. Out of Africa, Isak Denesen
  7. The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah
  8. The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd
  9. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
  10. Love Warrior, Glennon Melton
  11. The Distance Between Us, Reyna Grande
  12. Of Human Bondage, W. Somerset Maugham
  13. To Be The Poet, Maxine Hong Kingston
  14. Portrait Of An Artist, Laurie Lisle
  15. Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now, Maya Angelou
  16. All Creatures Great and Small, James Herriot

More to come…

Look to Art and Beauty

Since my father passed away, I have been looking to art and beauty in the everyday. When he was alive, there wasn’t a hummingbird, a great oak tree, a good history book, a classical piece of music, or an oil painting of the beautiful English countryside that he didn’t take close notice, appreciate, and share with me. There wasn’t a day he didn’t notice Nature’s bounty and beauty, or a brilliant work of art.

As I carry him with me, I am reminded with every death, there is rebirth. For every person who dies, a baby is born. For every inhale, there is an exhale. I, of course, have intellectualized these truths, but not until I experienced my father’s passing, did I know what rebirth felt like to die to the past and weave a new life for myself.

In the book, The Second Half Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom, anthropologist and author, Angeles Arrien states, “We are all born with a great dream for our lives. A dream that may have been derailed along the way by family and career responsibilities or submerged by our own choices. In the second half of life, after your roots have gone deeply into the world, it is time to resurrect this dream.”

As a writer and insight practitioner, I look to art and beauty for inspiration. A lover of silence and creativity, the two go hand in hand, to provide the Inner Peace I value as much as the breath. Every morning, I walk my dog, then sit down to write, read and wonder about the mysteries of life all around me. Continue reading Look to Art and Beauty