I've been thinking about how to write about something so precious as love. And my beautiful grandparents can tell the story through theirs.

They met. They fell in love . She picked him up in a pretty dress and said" let's go to Iowa today and get married". And they did. They, like many other couples back then, were forbidden to marry as he was catholic and she, Lutheran. 

They had 5 children. They had a farm and my grandfather worked at Banta for years. 
I grew up going there every single weekend. As I got older,  I continued to keep them a huge part of my life. 

Im not sure how to describe something so dear. or how to tell you how important they were. 
Words haven't been able to come together. 
Sentences never seem to form. 
I think about their life and how it formed mine. I think of the love they shared. It wasn't the usual story book kind of love- pretty and respectful and fantasy-like. It was raw and Aggressive and completely real.
They fought, and yelled, and held hands at the tAble. They nuzzled each other, made fun of each other and grabbed each other inappropriately.  She hit him with a fly swatter when he acted up. She told her often he wanted to trade her in for a newer model. They fought over cookies and coffee and who's turn it was to start the stove for hot wAter. 
But you could see it always. 
The love. 
The faith. 
The emotions. 
They were ultimately so in love-to the point where they seemed lost if the other wasn't there. They laughed at each other always. I would catch her looking at him, just staring at him, shaking her head. And so proud. Of me and every single other family member. She made all of us feel like we were the favorite.
I shared my faith with them. We went to church together and that's were most of my blogs funny stories cAme from. Even if your religion was different then mine or you have none at all, it was easy to appreciate the stories and even easier for me to talk about God because of them. 

And my heartache is there. Like nothing I've ever felt before. Everything else in my life seems not as important. Or maybe it really is just more important. Clarification has taken the stage and all These little things that I was holding and that I thought were so big - they are gone. Feelings have changed immensely in me. Some have gone away and some have strengthened. I have also taken note of myself and have had more than one conversation with myself about my past, present and future. 
I've taken some major steps in having a more honest, communicative, positive and meaningful life. 
Im getting rid of obligations that aren't mine to carry. 
And I'm smiling much more. 
I've never felt more content with my insides as an adult. And that's the gift they left me. Love, faith, clarification and the right to believe in myself, as they always did. I am like them. I am not the usual.  

Oh Gram - She taught me to love God, be forgiving and always remember who you and where you are going. 
If you've been in my house, it's a jungle, like hers. Her love of plants has rubbed off. 
She was an amazing cook and I'd like to think I'm pretty good at it too. 
She loved wine and I KNOW I'm VERY good at that...she also sent cards and handwritten notes all the time and I do as well. There is something amazing about getting a handwritten card or letter in the mail. I love it so I try to do that with fam and friends. 
Throughout the last 15 years i have been sending my grandparents post cards from every trip i have been on. I have already found over 60 as we clean out the house. I know she loved living through my travels and always loved to read the postcards to gramps and anyone else who would listen. I love a sunrise and sunset and try to see them both on a daily basis and have woken up more then one person and dragged them out to see it. My gram loved watching them too. And she could forecast the next days weather by what the sunset looked like. 
My gramps was one of a kind. He loved me . I knew that. He told me all the time. He always had a soft spot in my heart. I will never forget dancing with him so many times, his hand on my back and a smile on his face. I won't forget his love of stealing spoons everywhere he went as we still find them everywhere around the house. 

My faith has continued to be the light to see me through terrible times. 
And then its been there as comfort in amazing times.
I love them. More than I've ever loved anything else. They were the only sure thing I've ever had. The only thing I knew was always there. Unconditional love is real. They showed it to me every single day. And they were so proud. I was never embarrassed to speak of my successes or my life. 

They have touched my life in every facet. My traveling- I always send postcards. 
When I speak at wine events, I always started with a story about them and finished with one too. 
Most Sundays I would go to church and go after for cookies and that awful instant coffee. I thought about them during the week and would talk to them often. I never realized how much they were intertwined until they are now gone. 
And that's because of most of you. 
Since that awful night I have received so much support. I've gotten almost 50 cards and they still come in the mail. 100s of Facebook posts and inbox messages. Tons of emails and texts and phone calls. Some of you added to my Jungle by sending flowers or plants to my house or the church. Some of you sent money which I donated to the church's new building fund. Some people came to the funeral to support my family and listened to a lovely service. My job was so supportive and gave me time off and I had 2 full pews of support. Wineries from California sent flowers and wine (thank you and yes I already drank it all). Other families sent food to our homes knowing we weren't thinking of cooking and didn't have time or the effort. Some of my customers bought food, sent flowers and sent out company emails to make staff aware. People who didn't even know me well, have sent cards and showed their condolences. A wonderful man I've met through wine events showed up at the funeral to meet them as he'd heard so many stories through me. How amazing. 
  Then there was My closest friends and loved ones.  Who were just there.  All the time.  And I wasn't easy or pleasant I'm sure. 
I am so overwhelmed by everyone's love and support. It makes me weep. It gave me peace. it restored my faith in people and what we can look forward to in a time of need. I have no idea why I deserve it but what I can say is its them. My grandparents. Their love has shone through. You all see it in my writings and in MY posts. That kind of effect is mind blowing. I'm humbled still. Thank you so much 

And my life will move forward with the millions of memories I have. They will make me laugh, cry and smile. I was so blessed to be a part of their love story.
Their life did end with the most classic Romeo and Juliet love story....leaving this world just 25 minutes apart. They couldn't live without each other here in the world and their was no way they wanted to find out what life was like in heaven without each other. Their heaven WAS each other. 

2001 Chateau st jean cinq cepages Cabernet Sauvignon
A glass to remember on a bad night. Made my night better. It was layered wiith cocoa and intense lingering qualities
Picture this - 
  A perfect fall day in Napa Valley....the vines changing color like the autumn leaves in Wisconsin.  The temp at 60- weather where a coat is too much and a sweater is just right.  There was a crispness in the air and a buzz that would of made you thought that this was a spring day - with the bees buzzing around, pollinating every blossom they could......but no! What was this BUZZ!  These People were gathering from all over the country for one thing - the exclusive first showing of the movie SOMM.....
  A little background here.  This movie follows 4 Advanced Sommeliers, all with different personalities, all with different skills but all with one hope- to pass this bad ass test to become one of the elite few to call themselves - Master Sommelier.
  The producer is Jason Wise.  A handsome, outspoken, young and exciting guy whose excitement is almost contagious.  He wears his emotions on his sleeve and is a very humble soul.  He is thankful and full of life and hope.  I was lucky enough to spend 11 days in Italy with him and his also handsome and talented sidekick, Jackson Meyers.  I was blessed to have been chosen through the Guild of Sommeliers to go to Italy with 4 other gents.  I was the only woman with 5 male super tasters and the 2 guys filming for this movie- all while traveling through whats known to be the most romantic  country in the world.....Imagine it...Really it was a dream.  We drank wine, talked shit and ate like kings and queens....and then drank some more!  We even got asked if we were part of the "bachelorette" taping as I was the only girl on a table of 16 at the Banfi Castle in Tuscany! HA! And then there was that damn FERNET BRANCA! 

  Anyway - So a great bond was established and then I hear the news that the movie is finally coming out and BAM - here I was....In Napa Valley about to see this masterpiece.  
  The movie was great in many ways. Jason took each of the 4 guys and really let their personalities come through and shine.  I felt like I knew all 4 guys when I left the Opera House that night and just by watching this movie!  Jason created a movie that was serious and ultimately funny.  I held my breath on parts, gasped on some and laughed my ass off on others.  
  The music in this movie was magnificent.  I was tapping my toes sometimes and others I wouldn't even know the music was there and then all of a sudden your mind would drift to the music in the back out of nowhere.  
  I also believe the wine business needs a movie like this....not one where its always perfect and a love story and everyone lives happily ever after.  And also Not one that focuses more on this paradise and fantasy world that most wine focused movies end up being.  The Wine business and wine world is hard work, determination and mostly- willpower.  Now... don't get me wrong.....it can sometimes be glamorous and completely awesome....like being able to get free poured Krug all night long is pretty stellar!  And waking up in the middle of a vineyard at the winery that I was staying at for free because of my friend owns it.  And going horseback riding in the vineyards and drinking the very Cabernet they made from the vineyard I was sleeping in. (sigh - I love the wine world) But still - to get to that point takes time, loyalty and tons of glasses of wine and sleepless nights and long days that lead to longer nights. Its not all wine, food, travel and fun.    
  These 4 guys are not crazy- they are relentless in getting what they want.  This test isn't just hard....its hardening.  And they should be commended for even trying to pass it.  As Jason and his partners should be commended for thinking up this idea and then making it happen.  He has what it takes, just like these 4 guys did - to put their life on hold, work extremely hard and be focused, to achieve their dreams.  They did it.  He did it.  
This movie made me want to do more with my life and re-sparked a feeling that I didnt even know had left me.

Going to napa? Call and make and appt at buehler. Tell them I sent you. Amazing family. Amazing wine Amazing drive.
Recycled beauty. Grape leftovers. I love wine country
Queen of Pop, striking a pose, the material girl, the virgin on a holiday and so much more....Love her or hate her - shes a first class performer.  There is NO comparison.  
  She started 2 hours late but put on a grand performance for 2 and a half hours that would make anyone forget that she was even late.   Her new album - I love it.  Its raw, loving, hateful, angry, happy, relentless, and appropriate for anyone going through a divorce (as she was)

She is more in shape then most 20 year olds and her willpower must be intense.  She was political and made it known that she didnt care who you voted for as long as it was Obama!
My three favorite songs on this new album were Love Spent, gang Bang, and Best Friend. She played them all - and on "Best friend" I shed a tear.  Losing your partner - no matter what the circumstances- is crushing.  

Then came the Classics - Vogue, Holiday, Like a virgin, erotica, Music and ending this magical show with - Like a prayer!

She danced the night away and only slipped backstage for seconds to change her outfits.  Her dancers kept you busy and the show playing in the background on the screens was intense.  gang Bang was the best "show" I thought by far - 

I was lucky enough to be able to be so close to actually touch the catwalk stage.  I got some amazing video and some even better pics.

Madonna Concert #5 in the books - Not my favorite tour of hers but damn close.  I dont believe any other singer/dancer/musician has had more of an impact on me and my life - then her.  

Her career is over the top - just like her.

What a gal....a tasty, herbed bird. I love early thanksgiving with a 3 liter of mt veeder on a gloomy Sunday with close friends.
Cranberry bog. Have you seen one. What a sight. A tart and puckered up sight.
Veritas winery. Virginia. Amazing. I wanted to move in. The owners Patricia and andrew were full of charm, the wines were tasty, the inn on winery property I stayed at was over the top....and a fat New York strip for breakfast paired with blanc de noir bubbly. Nestled among the vines you could have woke up and thought you were in Italy,napa valley or Australia. No,Virginia. I am going back and very soon.
Ps. The best wine I had in Virginia was veritas petite sirah. Straight from the owner. Great mouthfeel.

Viognier, Cabernet franc.....all the non stand alones anywhere else, delicious here
A "can't sleep" kind of night. The rain is loud and I'm dreaming of biting dogs.