My hubby and me.

Between the Lines Trueheartgal

My hubby and me.

My hubby and me.

When I first started this blog in May 2011, I did so with the intention of giving folks interested in our Trueheart Petite Sirah wine an inside look at life on our vineyard. While I love our two acres of award-winning grapes, and am constantly awed at the beautiful and ancient rhythm of growing and making wine, I simply do not know enough to write about it regularly and passionately.

What can I write about regularly? What am I passionate about? Midlife. Aging. I am fascinated by how other women are or have navigated this road. How my mother, aunts and grandmothers did it, how are my friends younger and older, movie stars, my sister, strangers on the street, women on Instagram, and women in magazines doing it? How do I want to do it – especially given that I can still hardly believe I’m on the road?

As I have been committing myself to blogging about midlife, I have been reaching out to other midlife bloggers to build a community of women. I recently discovered an opportunity to be showcased in the “Between the Lines” series featuring women over 50 writing about blogging at midlife, created by and hosted by Katie of Katherine’s Corner. Katie is typical of many women who are blogging at midlife, she is encouraging, helpful, curious, competant and helpful.

I feel so lucky to be aging at this time. Women my age (I am 57) are allowed to be beautiful, strong, sexy, athletic, smart, successful, creative, playful, fashionable, smart-ass, inventive and wildly adventurous. In other words, we are allowed to be full, vibrant human beings, a luxury denied to in large part to my mother, and wholly to my grandmothers. In addition, I have been blessed with good health.

While I feel lucky to be aging now, many aspects remain difficult. As a young person, I could sleep anywhere, anytime and wake up rested. Now, I sleep with a mouth guard and a C-PAP, and I wake up exhausted. My dermatologist tells me, “there are sinkers and saggers – and you are a sinker” (a thin face with hollowed out cheeks, and temples). Doctors start every sentence with the phrase, “as we age.” Arthritis limits my flexibility and my endurance. I had a frozen shoulder for two years, and now that it’s gone (after a painful procedure and tons of physical therapy), the other shoulder hurts. My sex drive – once strong and healthy – is now, well… neither. I can’t see my food unless I wear readers. I have developed acid reflux, so I take a daily pill,  elevate my head when I sleep and watch my diet. No matter how much makeup I wear, the best I can hope for is, “you look so rested.” I cannot remember any names or nouns, I mostly remember verbs – “what’s her name went over to that place, oh, whaddaya call it?” I have yet to find a church I can relate to, develop a spiritual practice, meditate regularly or learn yoga.

My relatives are aging (which is a good thing as my husband would say), and I have already lost friends. My 40th high school reunion is taking place this summer and it seems just impossible that some of my classmates have already died.

I have been reluctant to write about these topics. They are personal and sometimes less than attractive. I am not a former fashion editor, spiritual guru, award-winning author or a gerontologist. I just want to write about what I struggle with, what I’ve found that works, and seek answers for challenges that I, and many other women face.

When I talk with friends, we are all trying to figure this out. We are all doing it differently. We are all a bit shell shocked. It seems we blinked and our youth vanished. We opened our eyes to find ourselves in midlife. Perhaps, in my case, not getting married until I was 42, and not having children made me blind to my own aging. Perhaps I spent years unconsciously denying it, holding on to my youth too long.

I will still write about relationships, share favorite recipes, tell stories about our miniature Bantam chickens, two acres of Petite Sirah grapes, life in Sonoma and the Northern California wine country, being a step-grandparent, aunt, daughter, sister, friend and the deeper questions. But I will be adding occasional posts about midlife. I hope you’ll join me on this journey.



Mother’s Day Gifts for Moms in Assisted Living


It can be difficult to find a wonderful Mother’s Day gift if your Mom is in Assisted Living. Space is at a premium in Assisted Living rooms, so extra “stuff” is out. Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with since my Mom has been living in Assisted Living:

Photo books. I’ve made several photo books using iPhoto. The process is made ridiculously easy, and Mom is able to enjoy wonderful memories at her leisure. I’ve never used Pinhole Press, but they are also supposed to be very good. You can also just go to a gift, art or photo shop and purchase an album,and fill it with your favorite photos and include your memories about what made each moment so special.

A tablet. We bought my Mom an iPad several years ago and she loves it. It is small and compact so it doesn’t take up much space. Social connection is so important, and she stays in in touch with her friends and family. My Mom has always loved technology, but even for people who aren’t tech-lovers, today’s tablets are easy to navigate. The options are endless, making them a great source of communication and entertainment.

A calendar. My brother has been making a homemade calendar for our Mom for several years, and she treasures each one. Most photo stores have websites that make putting a calendar together easy, and Walgreens is one of many good options.

Cards. Of course a Mother’s Day card is essential. If you can pull it off, have your kids or nieces and nephews (in my case since I don’t have kids) make cards by doing drawings,  paintings, or their own personal messages. If that isn’t an option, you can do it yourself. Nothing beats homemade in my book.

Flowers. My Mom has a beautiful room with a long, deep window sill, and she also has a terrific green thumb. I love giving her flowers or plants, and she gets endless enjoyment from them. A phalaenopsis orchid is always one of my favorites to send because their impossibly beautiful blooms last for several months, and in the right conditions, they will rebloom.

Candy. See’s Candy is my Mom’s favorite, and she loves their Nuts & Chews. Of course, if your Mom is diabetic, or on a restricted diet, candy may not be a great idea. You could consider fresh fruit or another gourmet snack from Harry & David. Be sure to order by May 4 to take advantage of their free shipping offer!

Your time. Of course the best gift of all, is spending time with your mother. I am heading home to spend several days with my Mom in Wisconsin, where I grew up and she continues to live. I hope you are able to spend time with your Mom this Mother’s Day.




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Lemon trees bursting with fruit at Trueheart Vineyards in Sonoma, California. Lemons. Trueheartgal.

Damp Lemon and Almond Cake


Our Myer lemon trees are laden with fruit. Lemons. Trueheartgal.

It’s citrus season here in Northern California, and orange and lemon trees are heavy with fruit. We picked our Myer lemon trees (see them bowing down under the weight of all their fruit above) a few weeks ago. I am always looking for new recipes to use them in, and then I found Nigella Lawson’s Damp Lemon and Almond Cake from her How to Be a Domestic Goddess cookbook and I knew I found my nirvana of flavor combination. Almonds? Oh yes. As a kid, I used to walk miles to a candy store that carried marzipan. And I love the fresh, biting sweetness of lemon. Together they are so surprisingly nice. The cake is not too sweet, and very, very moist.

Our Myer lemon trees are laden with fruit. Lemons. Trueheartgal.

The recipe is so easy, I hope you’ll try it and let me know what you think.

A few links from the web you might enjoy:

Ridiculously obscure fun facts.

Top 10 movies of 2015 by a Slate reviewer I really admire.

Nurturing long-term loving relationships.

I’m still obsessing over the Oscar outfits, and here’s a look at the least boring among them.

A palliative care doctor’s thank you letter to David Bowie.

I never get tired of hearing Man of Constant Sorrow.

Great list of 15 Things I Learned in My Fifties.

A pilot’s-eye view of life in the sky.

Here in Sonoma, we have been getting loads of much needed rain, and flowers are blooming everywhere (including our camellias, below). They are predicting more rain on the way. Hope you have a wonderful week!

Camellia flower at Trueheart Vineyard. Lemon. Damp Lemon and Almond Cake. Trueheartgal.