Archive | September, 2015

Visiting Spirits

24 Sep

Last night I had a dream. I saw my Granny, who passed away the year T was born, sitting at a desk some distance from me. She looked like how remember her, not as she was in her last few years when she became rather frail, but like she did when I was little and would put her hair in pink cushion rollers every week.

I was happy to see her because I usually see Pop in my dreams, if anyone. My grandfather used to tell me that when he died he would become my guardian angel and watch over me. At the time I used to pooh-pooh it (I didn’t like to imagine him gone, you see). Since his death I’ve seen him twice in dreams. So I do wonder if, maybe even hope that, he is fulfilling his promise. When I have the occasional rough patch in life, I sometimes even…I wouldn’t say pray–my grandparents were quite religious and I am quite not, so neither of us would say pray–but I “think” at him. As my guardian angel, I am sure he would feel it his duty to care for me during dark times.

Pop was obviously very special to me and the way he loved me was completely different than anyone I’ve ever known. But in day-to-day life, Granny was often the one I really talked to, who I would call on the phone and just chat with, the person whose little bits of wisdom I find myself returning to often. In the three years she was alive after Pop passed we became very close; out of everyone I knew, including my husband, she was my greatest comfort when I lost my first pregnancy. So in some ways I miss her more–or as the French say, elle me manque plus–she is more missing from me. Sometimes I still catch myself planning to call her.

I told her this in the dream, and that I was so happy to see her. She said she was sorry she couldn’t see me more often (or really, that I couldn’t see her), but that they did hear me whenever I talked to them.

Her smile was striking, just really beautiful.  It’s hard to describe what she was like. I want to say she was glowing, but not like a halo or an aura or something. It was more like warmth, like she was radiating coziness. She was also–and this is true of the two times I’ve dreamed of Pop as well–almost more real than life. Not like when you dream of people you know and they’re obviously a dream person. Flat somehow, like a recording or a projection. She was really real, almost like she was there in more dimensions than the usual three.

I noticed then that her voice was that of a young woman’s. I realized that must have been what she sounded like when she was young, like my age. She said that was it exactly. I should mention that it was like we were talking in our heads, and it was more in ideas than clear sentences like I’m writing here. I observed too (again in my head) that she didn’t choose to look like a young woman, only to sound younger. She looked “tickled,” to use one of her words. I felt like she was glad I noticed, or happy that I caught on to that. I thought later, on waking, that maybe she thought I’d like to see her that way.

We may have talked more in the dream. If we did, I sadly don’t remember it. I hope I told her I was sorry I couldn’t sing His Eye is on the Sparrow at her funeral, as she had asked me to, but never brought up again after she saw how excruciating it was for me to sing at Pop’s service, not even when she knew she was dying. I know I slept more, I did not wake up immediately as one tends to do from lucid dreaming. When I did wake up, I didn’t remember this dream right away. It wasn’t until lunch, when I was reading a magazine where people were sharing spooky experiences, that I remembered it.

I’m not really a religious person. The supernatural interests me but I’m first and foremost a scientific thinker. I don’t know if I really received a heavenly visit from my deceased grandmother last night, or if it was some deep subconscious trick of the mind. I do know I hadn’t been thinking of her or Pop the day before, the autumnal equinox. But this morning, I went to read her obituary again, which I wrote for the paper and still have on file.

Today is the day we buried her four years ago.

Do you believe in dream visitations? Share your experience in the comments.

 

Stop Everything: Your New Fall Wardrobe is Here

14 Sep

When I was growing up my mom was really into hunting for old stuff. She had an antique business and could spend hours scouring the booths at antique shoes and flea markets looking for treasures to resell (or decorate our house). She was also really good at finding gems at places like Goodwill or Value Village (vintage pumps for $4? Yes please). Although I liked seeing the spoils, I used to hate, I mean hate actually shopping at any of these places with her because it took FOREVER. Recall, these were the days before Kindle and smart phones.

Of course my mom has the last laugh because now, I am that person. Well, I don’t have an antique booth, and I may never be as thorough a treasure hunter as she is, but I love culling through old stuff trying to find something good.

Which brings me to thredUP.* Have you guys heard of this?

*This is not a sponsored post. I’m just a very satisfied customer. All of the items featured in this story were bought with my own money.

Basically, it’s an upscale consignment website. People from all over the place send in their very gently worn (and in some cases brand new) better brand cast-offs and the site resells them at steep, I mean steep discounts (usually 70% or more). It would not be hard for me to spend hours just paging through everything remotely in my size and snapping up dealzies.

For instance, can we please talk about this Alexander McQueen coat that wants to be part of my life? It is 79% off people. Of course I still can’t afford it, but dang, that’s a good deal!

I prefer to shop at middling brands that normally I could only afford one or two minor pieces (J Crew, Madewell, etc.) that coordinate with my existing wardrobe. I also love to get a good helping of the cheapest brands thrown in (Forever 21, Old Navy) because that stuff is often never worn (idk, regret purchases?) and will be literally, like $4 or $5. That’s the price of a latte!

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Cardigan: J Crew via thredUP, Dress, bag: Target, Shoes: Xoxo (old), Sunglasses: free swag from P’s vet clinic #donthate

ThredUP is easily searchable by pretty much every filter you can think of: type of garment, size (it will automatically look for equivalent sizes to compensate for the fact that brands size differently), brand, condition, style, and price. And for you designer snobs out there, they have those all cordoned off in a separate section. Descriptions include fabric content and washing instructions, if any of you other mamas have sworn off hand-wash only for the forseeable future. They also have shoes, scarves, bags, and accessories.

It’s like going to the Buckhead Goodwill store, only without the gross smell and the selection is from the entire country. Kinda makes you want to attempt to be a fashion model (SNORT).

Skirt

Top, Shoes: Forever 21 via ThredUp, Skirt: Max Studio via ThredUp, Anklet: Jewelry auction via my grandma, On Nails: Julep lacquer in Soleil (fingers) and Julep (toes)

Dress: Miss Me via ThredUp, shoes: Target, Clutch: Mark, Earrings: Vintage

Dress: Hello Miss via thredUP, shoes: Target, Clutch: Mark, Earrings: Vintage

ThredUP also has children’s clothes, mamas. I got T a complete back to school wardrobe for less than two twenny-twens (are we still saying that? No? Well I am).

It’s a lot of fun, because you get to hunt for things without having to stand up. Just beware–items can only remain in your cart for 24 hours. Once they’re removed, somebody else could snatch them up! (Fellow wafflers, don’t fret: it doesn’t happen that often…I can usually retrieve my finds from the “recently removed” list in my cart…but I did just miss out on a perfecto classic denim jacket in this way, so. Fair warning.)

H&M Jean Jacket 6

The one that got away…

Of course not everything is perfect. Sometimes the flaw on something is not as tiny as they say. They used to do these mini curated collections but have since stopped, and I really liked that feature because thousands of items can be overwhelming to sift through, even for natural born raised hunters like me. But their return policy is pretty good (100% store credit, or refund minus a flat $8.99 for shipping).

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Pants: Gap via thredUP, Top: Heritage 1981, Scarf: local boutique, Shoes: Sam & Libby, Earrings: Bauble Bar, On Nails: Julep lacquer in Margit

Excited yet? You should be, because if you visit the site through Cushion Cut’s link, you’ll get $20 to shop with. No catches! Just click on that link (except yes, you’ll need to make an account, blah. But you’d need that anyway to get stuff shipped to you). That’s all you have to do! (This is very special guyz–$10 credits are the norm).

Happy fall shopping!

 

P.S. Want more free stuff? The nail colors in this story are all from Julep, a polish company that makes breathable nail color (so your nails don’t turn yellow–ick). I subscribe to their monthly box o’ polishes and am pretty obsessed. If you want a free box (three colors!) just click here!

Yonah Mountain Vineyards

11 Sep

Over Labor Day weekend, P and I escaped to North Georgia for a winery tour. I actually purchased the tour for P’s birthday back in June, and we just now had a moment to take advantage. Our first anniversary was celebrated at Chateau Elan, so we hold a special place in our hearts for wine [tours].

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It was an absolutely perfect day. At 83 degrees some would call it hot–but to my cold blooded self it was paradise. When we pulled down the winding drive to the tasting room, the vines rose up to greet us.

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Vineyards are actually quite common in North Georgia. I could never figure out why–I mean, any of you guys that are not from this state, have you ever heard of Georgia wine? But I learned on the tour that the composition of the soil is almost identical to Napa Valley. I have trouble imagining it, but I guess it makes sense. Why else would there be four vineyards (and a Cabbage Patch, HA) in Cleveland alone?

Yonah Mountain Vineyards (named after the eponymous mountain looming in the background–more on that later) is pretty new, only seven years old. They have a unique octagonal tasting room that is, in a word, fancy.

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The oak in the middle distance is more than 100 years old. Normally you wouldn’t have a tree so close to the vines, but the owner couldn’t bear to cut it down.

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Inside the octogonal tasting room, even the bar is octogonal.

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Murals and a set up for live music (alas, not playing at 1:30 on a Sunday)

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The trademark nautilus bear made many an appearance. As did stone fireplaces.

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Art for purchase adorned the hallway.

This was my favorite piece. I know jack-all about fine art, but I think that, like wine, it's fine if you think it is. Also this was painted by somebody name Patrice Young, which made me laugh. (Patrice is one of P's many strange nicknames).

This was my favorite piece. I know jack-all about fine art, but I think that, like wine, it’s fine if you think it is. Also this was painted by somebody name Patrice Young, which made me laugh. (Patrice is one of P’s many strange nicknames).

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Even the bathrooms were swank, including a bowl of bespoke salt scrub.

We arrived early (P drives like a bat out of hell when we’re on a schedule), so we had time to make the acquaintance of some of the locals.

Yonah means

Yonah means “bear” in the language of the native tribes of this area.

And to plan our retirement.

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Muffy, shall we tee off at 4?

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I simply cahn’t dahling, I’m off to the spa.

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Our tour guide was the owner of the vineyard himself, which was really cool. He started us out with a taste of wine before we even stepped foot out the door. My kinda guy.

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He reminded me a little of my late grandfather. Personable, quick with a cheesy joke, and not hesitant at all to talk about how much things cost–from the $110 bottle of reserve to the $23,000 loading dock to the $450,000 in total expenses last fiscal year. It made me a bit awkward, to be honest, but whatever. The owner was a retired financier, after all, so he was doubtless just speaking his language.

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He told us that Yonah Mountain, that wave-looking bump back there, was the oldest mountain on earth, citing a geologist that told him something about its being the very bottom of the Appalachian chain. Sure, why not?

One of the most unique things about YMV, and the reason I got us this tour in the first place, was that the wine was aged in caves, supposedly the only one in the state. There were many things on the property, according to our guide, that were “the only/largest/best one in the state.”

Like this press, originally purchased by another vineyard to make that Southern classic: muscodine wine, and resold to YMV when it didn’t work on the muscondine’s thick skins.

Another “only” not pictured here is the only stiletto-proof floor grate, put in at extra expense. Not sure if I believe that one.

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An anti-mildew machine that allegedly came from some kind of NASA outlet store. (Where is that and how can I be invited?)

I was imagining a cave as in like, stalactites and bats. But no–in reality it was basically a basement. Although he did, as he said, have the walls painted brown to lend to the authenticity. I about died laughing, I couldn’t even be mad at the bait n’ switch.

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The barrels are made from French forest wood, which is apparently superior to American forest wood for aging wines (and comes at great expense, of course). After their short life at the winery is done, they are resold to a brewery to hold beer. Yay for recycling!

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I don’t always drink rose, but when I do, it’s in a faux cave.

The second, larger cave was a bit more legit. It still wasn’t an actual cave, but it did have, as our guide put it, “Disney lighting.” My photo of the grand effect didn’t turn out and there were too many people on the tour to set up another shot, but here are a couple of the entrance and the barrels that lined both sides of the tube-shaped cave.

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A dark, secret tasting room rounded out the downstairs tour. That’s where all the good bottles were kept.

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The hand-painted frescoes and lighting fixtures were really something. Three hidden Mickey Mouses were somewhere in the paintings, but we couldn’t find them.

Although this tour was perhaps not as polished as a place like Chateau Elan, I learned many more interesting things. For instance, the primary issue grape growers in Georgia experience is an overabundance of rain. You’d think rain would be good for vines, which are after all, plants. But evidently it makes the leaves rot. At YMV they* actually hand-sift through overwatered plants to find those that are still usable.

*they being everyone–all vineyard employees do literally every job, from picking to pouring to [event] planning. 

The last part of the tour was the enormous and brand-new event facility, where you can have your wedding or bar mitzvah beneath authentic “Dancing with the Stars” lighting and sound systems. I didn’t take any pictures because by then we were enjoying our 7th pour of wine.

Suffice it to say, I highly recommend this tour for all those who like a bit of sass with their class–some cheese with their wine, so to speak. Which, honestly, don’t we all?

Although they produce a nice Bordeaux-style table red, Chardonnay is the primary grape grown on their own fields (some of their wines are made from grapes they ship in from Cali). So that’s the bottle we went home with. We wanted to be as gen-yoo-wine as possible.

GET IT!?!

The 411: Yonah Mountain Vineyard tours are $30 per person and are offered three times on Saturday and once on Sunday. Tours include 8 tastings and a wine glass. Menu tastings are $6-$16. Bottles range from $40-$150 and can be purchased online.