Saturday, March 22, 2008

Motorcycle Mama? Hardly.

I had my first motorcycle training class the a few nights ago. And I'm all, Yikes!

I don't know whether to summarize the experience as:
What was I thinking?!
Why do motorcycle riders have a death wish?
Or, Vespa for sale.

For now, I am going to use past experience as my guide. A few years back I earned my SCUBA certification. It was very hard, very scary, and I really didn't think I could do it...but I MADE myself do it to prove something to myself: that I was neither a quitter nor a coward. In the end, I passed and not long after that I found I was no longer afraid of clowns. Bonus!

It would appear, however, I am afraid of motorcycles! And why not? The class is all about how dangerous riding can be. They talk about the freedom of riding in the open air, sure. But also the fact that you see more, and experience more, including but not limited to, injury and death.

I know people use extreme sports as a means of connecting with the true meaning of life. It's an addiction for some. They need to face death in order to feel truly alive. Yeah, about that...I don't need to face death to feel alive! I am having a hard enough time facing life. The way I see it, death is the can of Red Salmon (or for you vegetarians, the jar of Lemon Curd) in the pantry. It's there. You know it's there. You might eat it. But not today, thanks.

Vespa for sale? Nah. Death wish? Nah. Courage to face my fear? Right on! Ow!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Under the Zinfandel Sun

ZinBitch. That's what the tattoo said. Four Vines Winery was passing out those little fake tattoos, the kind you usually see at a kids carnival in the form of a peace sign or a Tweety bird. In this case Rhonda and I were at the Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival, aka ZinFest.

ALL the wineries were pouring Zin. There were verticals all across the horizon. For those of you who aren't wine-types, a vertical tasting is where you sample the same variety from the same winery across a range of vintage years. A horizontal tasting is where you sample the same variety and same vintage year from a variety of wineries. A blind tasting is when you don't know what you're tasting, and a flight is when you are given small servings of a few wines (or tequilas!) in order to learn differentiation.

In the case of tequila flights, there is always the chance it will eventually become a blind tasting, or a vertical "dancing naked on the tabletops" tasting, or a horizontal "sleeping with the enemy" tasting, or worse, the humbling "praying to the porcelain god" tasting.

The most memorable part of the night--aside from the tremendous relief I felt when my live auction bid was outbid by a woman more heavily under the zinfluence than me--was the cheese, of all things. The needle on my cheese-o-meter all but broke the glass. I'm afraid I'll be forced to call a meeting with Borden, Kraft, and even Tillamook..."We have to talk." I will gently begin. "About the quality of your cheese. You see, here's the thing...". I don't know if I can do it. Wait, I know! I'll pour them a big ol' Ridel full of this year's event blend and see if that doesn't soften the blow.

This year it was Steve Felten, from Norman Vineyards who took 30 barrels of zin from 30 different wineries and blended "almost all" of them, he reluctantly confided, into the 2008 ZinFest special blend. It was fantastic. Thank you, Steve, and also thank you Gary Eberle who (as did with a few other donors) doubled up his donation when a second live auction bidder offered to pay $4000 for the same package that had just sold for the evening's (I think) high bid of $4000.

The next day, I dragged Rhonda off to Moonstone Beach and we bellied up to the rocks until the icy wind started to burn a bit. We found a less windy spot and taunted the seagulls by refusing to share our garlic rosemary, or our onion cheese bread. Nature of course, rules the day, and if for no other reason than to show us her blustery prowess, mother wind snatched an empty styrofoam clamshell and sent it off into the sea where some tide-pool docent will no doubt curse the rude defiler of nature who so wantonly despoiled the pristine coastline with manmade trash. There was nothing wanton about it. We swear. We also relented. We gathered up the remains of the feast and headed back to the car, looking forward to that special moment you get when you get out of the cold wind and close the car doors and flip your frozen hands like pancakes on a griddle on the sun-baked dash. And it's so quiet and cozy in there...until two minutes later when you can no longer breathe.

No doubt to punctuate its power, the wind, just as we were getting in, threw up another gust and flung an empty bag out of the back seat and over the cliffside where it is sure to be found around the neck of a mother sea otter, her baby still clutching to her belly as the two drift helplessly in the surf...on the next episode of "Man: The Ultimate Predator" tonight on Animal Planet.

I swear. It was an accident. We would never. Sorry.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Someone Saved My Life To(day)

I got a speeding ticket today.

I had been entering a phone number into my contact list, and just as I put my iPhone down I glanced up and saw this cop looking to nail some dumb sucker with his radar gun. I slowed down just to be polite.

Next thing I know, my window is down and I’m saying, "Hello, officer. No, I didn't realize this was a 25 mile an hour zone. I think I must have thought it was a 35." (That's true, I did.) Later, I remember someone telling me this was a well known speed trap. It's a steep hill and you have to brake the whole way down to keep it at 25. I hate that. It feels like brake abuse.

At first, I "prayed" to the angels to enlighten the officer who stopped me. "Help him see I am not a threat to safety..." it began. "Help him change his mind."

Then I got this huge cosmic head smack that "arrested" my selfish prayer. I was indeed a danger to myself and other drivers. I had been texting all morning. On the freeway, winding through the Del Monte Forest, and now in a residential area. Furthermore, that morning I had eaten a burrito, drank a cup of coffee and a bottle of water. The only departure from my usual in-car routine was I had not put on my makeup or brushed my teeth. Well, not yet anyway. I was going to do that after I checked my email.

Instead of getting mad, another well-documented cause of bad driving, right up there with drunk driving and road fatigue, I showed remorse even going so far as to express gratitude to the officer. He could have saved my life, or yours, today just by intervening at that moment. The good and the bad walk hand in hand.

Several cars passed by as I was being written up. When the red Corvette went by going a painfully slow 24.7 mph I said, "You're welcome." My ticket-getting experience had obviously slowed him down, too.

I guess this means I get to go to traffic school (again). I think I'll do it online this time. Although it would be kind of amusing to attend a hotel conference room traffic school like I did 10 years ago, with a pack of 90 mph speed racers, and a few cell phone talking red light runners. That was the time the instructor went around the room asking us to admit our "crimes." This time mine would be an innocent "36 in a 25." Until, of course, the instructor reminded us all that statistically more people are killed or maimed in residential areas at low speed than on the freeway. Online it is!

My only other pressing decision is to decide what my new bumper sticker should read: "I go the speed limit. Go around me if you feel you must." or "I see you back there. I just don't care." or "I won't go faster just because YOU want me to. "

Nah, too whiney. Maybe I'll just stick with RonPaul2008.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Vespa by Any Other Name

I picked up my bitchen new Vespa on March 6. Together we rode off to Monterey, with the scooter strapped in the bed of my pickup like the M half of an S&M couple. The occasion was to meet up with friends and support our mutual friend, Allyson Sanburn Malek, who was showing her art pieces in a three man show of abstracts in the upstairs gallery at the Monterey Conference center, which to this day people call The Doubletree-- even though the adjacent hotel has been the Portola Plaza Hotel (now Portola Hotel & Spa) for several years. I guess the tide turns slowly. A few people still think Clint Eastwood is the mayor of Carmel when in fact he was mayor for a single term twenty years ago and the current mayor, Sue McCloud, is in her fourth term.

Mary Titus and Johnny Apodaca were the other two "men" in the show. I don't buy art as a rule, but I am proud to say I have two of Allyson's original works from the "Perfect Pair" series. They are paintings of two pears, by the way, not me and my Vespa. What struck me was a piece from Mary's collection. From across the room I just knew it was going to be called "Moonstone Beach." I was wrong. It was untitled.

I had just been to Moonstone Beach in Cambria the previous day and was struck by the wonders of this coastal hideaway and the user friendliness of its long, flat beach. It's a "deep" beach both front to back (dry land to water's edge) and deep as in ankle deep. You sink down when you walk on it. Even though I had lived all those years on the coast--in Carmel with its steep dune of white sand, and Pebble Beach whose pebbles you can count on a dozen hands, the rest of it beige wet sand--I had never cozied up to the beach part of coastal living, primarily because of the sand. What a messy thing sand is.

Moonstone Beach is a true pebble beach. It is a marvelously pebbly beach. The messy kind of sand is a few layers below the smooth surface stones, with a layer of teeny tiny smooth pebbles in between, providing just enough of a barrier to keep the sand off the surface of the beach and you. On Moonstone Beach you can lay flat on your stomach, or flat on your back, or up on one elbow without benefit of blanket or towel and arise sand-free. The stones themselves are as smooth as hard candies that have been sucked for 10 minutes...when in reality they have been sea-buffed for decades. They are jade, moonstone, somethingacite, and every shade of black, brown, grey, green, rust, and tan rock, with occasional bits of opaque white tumbled shell, and translucent sea glass in very cool man-made colors like Seven-Up green and Milk of Magnesia blue. In a way, thank heavens for the slobs who leave their trash on the beach for the waves to pulverize it into these colorful gems. Now stop it!

Mary's untitled abstract was pale like the color you would imagine a moonstone to be if you had never seen one, but only heard the name. And there was a suggestion of a horizon, with a hazy, lone rock out to one side, like Morro Rock. And it was brightly lit, like daytime, warm and pink like sunset yet cool like the shore. And there was just enough brown, not enough to make the painting dark, but to give a nod to the dark brown of the pebbly beach. Untitled or no, that was an abstract of Moonstone Beach.

Yeah, about Bruno. After bringing my Vespa home, and releasing it from its bondage, I rode it up and around the back of the house and parked it by the pool. Almost IN the pool, whoops. I wanted to see it when I woke up the next morning, sunning itself out back. This morning I realized I can't name my new scooter-toy Bruno. For one, it is disrespectful to the real Bruno, who is not an object, a toy, or in any way own-able by another person, and for another, my Vespa is obviously a girl! Pearl white, with a red leather seat, this sexy little scooty patooty is without a doubt a girl Vespa. We're talking Vegas show girl, girl. Country western singer girl. Beauty pageant girl. She's all girl. And from what I have told you Bruno is not. From my observation I would say he is, as multi-dimensional a man as he is, utterly devoid of a feminine side. If you don't believe me now, you will the first time you see him, or more convincingly, hear his voice. If you ever find yourself needing a name for a male German Shepherd, Bruno is a good bet.

To take the naming of the Vespa one step further I have come to question this whole gender bended humanification of an object path I started down. I find it is throwing a bit of a monkey wrench into my spiritual awakening. In "A New Earth" not only is the notion of stuff ownership challenged, the notion of labeling things is too--a notion until now foreign to me, as I actually labeled my label maker if you must know.

To appreciate the fragile, fleeting beauty of a flower is not to know its botanical name, its growth habit, nutritional needs or propagation schedule, no. To appreciate its fragile, fleeting beauty is to be present, and not think about it. Just be. Perceive it for what it is at this very moment, the present moment. See the flower as it is, not think about what it is called. Not what it WILL be, or was. Or reminds you of a time it a good time or a bad one. Appreciate its beauty right now. Don't plan to see it tomorrow. Don't regret you didn't see it yesterday. Don't put so much of your identity into it that when it is gone, you feel you have also lost a part of yourself. Don't suffer a personal sense of loss when it wilts, or a deer eats it. Don't yank it out of the ground, wrap its stem in a paper towel, drive across town, and hand it to someone with an expectation that they will be grateful for all you have done, for sharing the beauty, for braving the traffic, for thinking of them. Just enjoy the fragile fleeting beauty of it with a still mind, in the present. It is remarkably easy to do, and the enjoyment you get from the exercise will surprise you. You don't need to drop acid to see magical colors and hear trees speak.

My Vespa, and I suppose I can say "my" because my name is on the title, is sturdy, fleet, and beautiful and when I ride it I will enjoy the freedom of an open air ride. And if anyone asks, "Where's Miss Daisy?" I'll have to say "Well, I'll tell ya. She's gone, but before she left, she bought me this-here scooter. Wanna ride?"

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Good Day to Say Goodbye to Daisy

Today I sold Miss Daisy. The new owner of this 1971 VW Super Beetle is as happy as I am. For one, I am happy for Miss Daisy because now she won't be neglected. I'm happy for Lisa because she is going to LOVE driving Miss Daisy. And I'm happy for me because now I can buy my Vespa, who until further notice will be named Bruno.

Last night I and a half a million others logged in to to hear Oprah interview Eckhart Tolle about his book "A New Earth". It was the first of 10 classes. The prayer for the server didn't stick, but the video did. I gave up after about 10 minutes of wishful thinking. It's like a DVD that sticks and freezes--you think if you wait a few more minutes it will miraculously clean and repair itself, when you are better off accepting the fact that this is one situation where positive thinking has little effect. Eject. Wipe. Insert. Play. Works every time.

Why Bruno? I am like many women who have "this guy" in there past who affected them deeply in some way and it's almost always a pheromonal thing. As wrong, as bad, as not Mr. Right as he is, he still owns a piece of our hearts and we can't shake the feeling for love or money. 

My first ex-husband told me once that even though he would never do cocaine again, he knew he would always want to. I totally get that. I have no desire to have (the real) Bruno in my life, but like the non-smoker who collects Zippo lighters, I can't give him up entirely. And like the Vespa, he is Italian. Well that's not true, he's American, but his people came from The Old Country, as did a few of mine. I've been to Italy and seen the pitiful crop of men they grow over there. I can only say that our American Italians are superior in quality, and California American Italians are even better. So to honor California, America, Mr. Wrong, The Old Country, and my new Italian scooter, I think the name Bruno is going to stick. 

If you want a piece of Bruno, too, you can buy his wine under the label DiBruno. He is a marvelous winemaker. His woman, Chris, is a winemaker, too. They are perfectly paired.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Welcome to Wild Oats Way

I was born in 1954. Today I am 54 years old. March 3, 2008 is the beginning of my year. And it would seem it is also the beginning of my blog.

I am reading "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose" by Eckhart Tolle. Tonight I will be online with hundreds of thousands of other men and women taking the first class in a 10 week course on this book.

If there is a prayer for a server, pray it.

Future blog posts are bound to be on the progress of my awakening to my life's purpose.

Today, cosmos-willing, I will sell my 1971 VW Super Beetle "Miss Daisy" to a woman I met in my past life, in other words, yesterday. When her check clears, I will go to Santa Cruz and buy the Vespa that is calling to me.

Happy Birthday, Dear Lori, Happy Birthday to Me.

I was inspired to start a blog today by Teresa Holladay of MLMs I Love (dot blogspot dot com).

I recently became a distributor of Mona-Vie, the premier acai blend. It is a functional beverage containing a blend of Brazilian acai berries and 18 other fruits, and it is quite delicious. Acai berries are very high in anti-oxidants. I feel like I'm rusting from within, so I'm trying to stop that with Mona-Vie.

I know acai looks like it should be pronounced with two syllables and a K sound, like a lazy version "okay" but actually the c is pronounced with an S sound and the word is a very tidy three syllables [asaˈi]. If I knew how to do it I'd type the c with a cedilla like this: açai. Well lookie there! I just made a good and proper c with a cedilla! (for Mac users, type option + c) (for PC users, type "")

I extend my thanks to Teresa and her blog--high in anti-scamidants. I was able to descamificate Mona-Vie to my own satisfaction. It was disconcerting to see the words Mona-Vie and scam side by side when I first searched it. It was all a big misunderstanding, if by misunderstanding you mean slanderous misinterpretations of the facts by a competitor. No scam to fear here, boss.

To my knowledge, neither anti-scamidant nor descamificate are real words. I am an uncertified, unlicensed, amateur "wordametologist" however. That is to say, I "make up" words. (hyuck, snort, get it?) My apologies to the linguistic puristas out there. Here's another one that'll curl your hair: A cosmologist studies the make up of the universe. I first heard that from a woman who had been working to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. My girl friend Francesca made up wordametologist. You will hear more about her in future posts.

I read Teresa's evaluation of Mona-Vie's parent company, Monarch Industries. She gave them a good review, and I trust her judgement. Thank you, Teresa, for helping me with that, and also for inspiring me to launch myself into the blogosphere today.

Why "Wild Oats Way" for a blog name? Well, I'll tell you. I own a vineyard. A real small estate vineyard. It is called Wild Oats Estate Vineyard because Wild Oats Real Small Estate Vineyard was unwieldy. I also like the message "wild oats" conveys. It is, unfortunately, confused with wild oaks when spoken, and wild cats when I'm not careful with my hand writing. I can see neither being a problem here.

Speaking of names, when Miss Daisy sells and I buy my new Vespa, I'll need a name for him. Due to the fact that it's sexy, Italian and you ride it between your legs I'm guessing about the him part. Then again, it's coming from Santa Cruz, so I could be off by an entire gender. It is metallic white and has a red leather seat. If you would like to help me name "him" feel free to suggest away. I'll start everyone off with this suggestion: Bruno. Your turn.

Lori Oliver (Kohn)