Tag Archives: Ithaca NY

Local Turkeys Hang Out at The Piggery

Well, it’s that time again. Time for obligatory Thanksgiving blog posts! What to cook, what wine to serve, and how to survive the holidays abound. Me and the tattooer are staying local this year, and that means we’ll be putting on the traditional dinner at Casa Molina for family and friends that want to swing in. We try to keep it simple, local, and delicious….but this year we are going really LOCAL.

Turkeys roaming at Autumn's Harvest Farm in Romulus, NY

Turkeys roaming at Autumn’s Harvest Farm in Romulus, NY

First up, the turkey. In the past, my dad has had the fresh turkey hook-up from having owned a restaurant for twenty years. This year, I’m super excited to bring the bird! Today, we grabbed a little thirteen pound turkey from our friend Heather Sandford, who with husband Brad Marshall own and operate local pig farm and butcher shop The Piggery (follow the link for their beautiful blog and website). Incredibly, my husband and I were lucky enough to score a REAL PERNIL from them last Christmas, which was rated as ‘absolutely divine’– that came from Puerto Ricans that KNOW their pork, and it is VERY serious business.

The Piggery, Ithaca NY

The Piggery, Ithaca NY

The Piggery has a retail space in Ithaca (423 Franklin St, down by Red Feet Wine Store) that has a fantastic selection of their far raised pork-plus goodies from all over the Finger Lakes, from cheeses, breads, spreads and oils, plus beef and poultry sourced from Autumn’s Harvest Farms in Romulus, NY. Our little Thanksgiving turkey guy lived a happy, pasture life, wherein he roamed free and ate certified organic grains, bugs, and all the good stuff turkeys eat in real life. No factory farming here, kids. This is how our great-grandparents did it….no antibiotics or chemicals, just quality meats from well lived and cared for animals on local farms. Here is a pic of the star of the show…

The star of turkey day 2015

The star of turkey day 2015

Next up, what booze I’ll be bringing to the table…local wine, hard cider, brews, and cocktails to enjoy with your holiday spread and beyond!

Harvest in the Finger Lakes 2015

Fall in the FLX

Fall in the FLX

I’ve been off the grid! Gentle readers, sometimes business takes it all out of you for a bit, and quite frankly being business owners was rough for a patch. I’m happy to report things are currently fantastic at our tattoo shop, and I’ve been able to once again turn my attentions towards the fields and this year’s harvest bounty.

It’s finally October first, which means lots of the grapes have already been harvested and pressed around the Finger Lakes, and one of the busiest times of year is here! Tasting rooms will be extremely lively on beautiful fall weekends, so if you’re visiting, be civil and expect crowds of other tasters. The good news is, the views are heading towards incredible – enjoy, and don’t be in a rush. The Finger Lakes are all about taking a breath and enjoying some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Pick some apples, peep the fall leaves, hike a waterfall, taste some locally made wines, ciders, beers, spirits…chocolates….cheese…

Beauties in the sunlight

Beauties in the sunlight

Harvest 2015 is in full swing, with lots of grape picking, pressing, and cellar happenings currently in the works, area wide. My Instagram feed is currently full of grapes being pressed, yeasts going in and fermentation starting, and lots of rain gear the last twenty four hours! It’s been dry and warm the last two weeks, so many growers got their grapes in before rains started in earnest. Our local weather called for over three inches of rain into today, with more over the weekend. Hopefully it dries out so that everyone gets their remaining crops in!

It’s also fun to see the apple farmers harvesting for their upcoming vintages of hard ciders. The movement is growing nationwide,  and the Finger Lakes area is at the center of high quality, heirloom farmed fruits, classically made, dry to off-dry, sometimes fermented in bottle, hard apple and pear ciders. This coming weekend (October 3rd and 4th) is the Apple Festival in Ithaca, with FLX Cider Week also kicking off. I’ll be attending some local happenings on that front, so stay tuned! October is going to be fun, and fall is the best time of year to be in this area, in my humble BoozyWife opinion…that’s why we tend to stay local until the snow flies again….

#WBC15 WineBloggers Invade the Finger Lakes! A Brief Overview of #WBC2015

imageAfter a long week of jumping through hoops as a tattoo wife and shop owner, it was a pleasure to attend the Wine Boggers Conference 2015 in the Finger Lakes area of NY, or as I like to call it, ‘home.’

Over two hundred and fifty wine writers and bloggers would be participating in a three-day weekend (plus some pre and post excursions!) of wine tasting, exploration, seminars, and networking. I’m an old pro at the tattoo convention scene— but a wine blogger convention? What was that going to be like? I had a few notions, but seeing that it was to be held in our backyard of viticulture in the Finger Lakes area, I couldn’t miss it! This area is exciting, vibrant, and on the cusp of great things…I wanted to see what the OTHER bloggers thought, as a way to see our area (and my ‘hood) through fresh eyes.

All three days were pretty heavily scheduled with events, some as writing workshops, mentoring, and pro panels, excursions to several different wineries and events, and LOTS of wine tasting.

Karen MacNeil and women in wine

Karen MacNeil and women in wine

Keynote presenter Karen MacNeil, wine goddess and author of The Wine Bible, was as inspirational as she was fierce. HERE is a woman to idolize, ladies….strong, professional, and absolutely taking no shit from anyone. Honestly, if that was all the conference had for me…Karen’s words would have been enough. She’ll get a post all of her own, because Karen is an incredible spirit– that the women in the wine industry MUST recognize — as a door opener and trail blazer. She may be in Napa now, but she has the heart and fire of a New Yorker. One of my favorite quotes that she dropped on women in the industry during the weekend was, in relation to sexism in the wine industry: “the barrier has never been sex, it is mediocrity. The door is open, walk through it.” ABSOLUTELY!

a few of my favorites

a few of my favorites

Tastings were a huge part of the event, and I counted over seventy-three wine tasting notes over two days that I took–not too shabby! LOTS of spitting, kids….don’t try to be a hero. You will fail and quite possibly make an ass of yourself.

The tastings ranged from the normal table and pour, to a “speed dating” version of a tasting (wine makers came to your table with their bottle, gave some wine notes, and had five minutes with you, then it was off to the next table!), to a mystery bus excursion….get on the bus, go to a secret location, have an AMAZING TIME, return later to hash out where we all ended up!

Element Winery is taking things to a new level in the Flx

Element Winery is taking things to a new level in the Flx

BoozyLife ended up on the bus headed to Element Winery in Arkport, vision of the incredibly talented and hard-working Master Somm Christopher Bates-whose  dinner and wines will get their own post as well, because I saw things happening there that DEFINE what the Finger Lakes can and will be to the wine industry, in the near future and beyond.

In short, the weekend was exactly what I was hoping it would be, and it opened my eyes to magic happening right under my nose! BoozyLife can’t wait to share some of the wine makers and their creations with you all, because the Finger Lakes are where it’s all happening right now in New York State.

Now, just let me sort out all of these tasting notes…

Cider Maker’s Afternoon with Autumn of Eve’s Cidery — Finger Lakes Cider House

Eve's Cidery flight

Eve’s Cidery flight at Finger Lakes Cider House

The Finger Lakes area is a special place, and a majority of that feeling comes from the people that live and work here, love the land and enjoy sharing their creations and joys. Artists come in many shapes and styles, from winemakers to painters and potters, and are often on hand to share their creations. Due to a love of sharing hand crafted beverages and information, local artisans often take time out of the creation of product to meet and pour for their public.

There is a movement towards farming, the ‘old ways’ of doing things, hand crafted goods, and knowing where things were grown and sourced. Heirloom fruit trees are the base for incredible ciders, and we were lucky enough to attend Cider Maker’s Afternoon with Eve’s Cidery at Finger Lakes Cider House. The beautiful new tasting room area (located near Ithaca in Interlaken) is located at Good Life Farm and is definitely worth checking out if you have the chance. Orchard ciders, along with a gorgeous view (and yummy food pairings) made for a beautiful excursion up the lake on a Sunday afternoon. Awesome cider craftswoman extraordinaire Autumn, of Eve’s Cidery (checkout their website for notes and purchases–they ship!) took a day away from the orchard and tanks to pour a selection of their still, sparkling, and ice ciders. Served with each step of the flight was a special local tasting spread–check out the ciders and pairings we tried! The menu really illustrated the food friendliness and drinkability of dry, champagne style ciders…

Scatterseed

Scatterseed Sparkling Dry Cider

Eve’s Cidery Tasting Menu w. Pairings

Summer Blend. Still and Dry. Lemon-lime nose. The mid-palette is airy, tart and juicy, Kumquat, bitter orange peel and chalk. (7.5% ABV, <1% RS) Paired w. Smokey Baba Ganouj, housemade

Scatterseed. Estate grown. Dry. Champagne Style. ML fermentation vintage ’12 blended with ‘13 and bottled with a tirage. Dry, chewy, sparkling cider with aromatic layers of rich earth and ripe fruit. (8.1% ABV, 0.06% RS) Paired w. Peach Salsa, housemade

Darling Creek. Estate grown. Semi-dry. Champagne style. A blend of English and French bittersweets and bittersharps, fruity American cider apples and seedling varieties. The aroma is a play between sweet- honeysuckle, apple blossom and red apple; herbal gin, licorice, and allspice; and green tomato and sapling. The mouthfeel is big and thick with a soft but dry, velvety texture. The finish is full and balanced with lingering notes of sweet sour apricot. (8% ABV, 1.5% RS) Paired w. Rye Bread w. Butter, Wide Awake Bakery, Kriemhild Dairy

Essence. Estate grown. Ice Cider. Aromas of caramel, baked apple, and all spice. A heavy bodied and viscous mouth feel are balanced by a succulent acidity. Sugar and acid find equilibrium in the finish. (10 % ABV, 15.5% RS) Paired w. Ginger Ice Cream, Good Life Farm and housemade.

The Summer Blend was a delicious thirst quencher, aptly named for afternoons at the lake or on the deck. The acidity cut through the richness of the baba ganoush and added to the tanginess. Tough pairing, eggplant can be, but it was quite lovely and bright. I went home with a bottle of the Champagne style Scatterseed, a very dry and velvety sparkling cider with full tannins and a long finish.

Eve’s Ciders are served in NYC at Wassail on Orchard St. as well as scattered retailers in the know at the moment. Check out the website for a full list of shops that carry Eve’s in NYC as well as in the Finger Lakes! You’ll be glad you did, they truly are creating something special with every bottle. Eve’s Cidery Website

BoozyLife on the Road in France!#twithaca #Pertuis #AIXProvence #Corsica #HolidayInk5

I love this view...and this man.

I love this view…and this man.

Holiday Ink 5

Holiday Ink 5

BoozyLife is on the road in Southern France! I have amazing pictures and video of the weekend we were invited to from Holiday Ink 5 as well as from some of our travels through Pertuis, AIX Provence, and now Corsica on the Mediterranean! Thank you to David de Pertuis, his wife Stéphanie, and his beautiful and gracious family for hosting us in such comfort and hospitality. Truly, we feel so blessed and can’t wait to see you all in NYC this fall!

Pertuis with friends!

Pertuis with friends!

My wifi availability is spotty at the moment, and the adventure has provided way more than I could squish into one post anyway….so there will be a few on this journey once we return to the States. Currently, we’re visiting friends at the studio Generation Tattoo in Ajaccio, Corsica–incredible local farmers markets, and a view of the port that will never leave me. Enjoy a few GoPro shots and keep your eyes open for more posts in the coming week! See you soon, Ithaca—

The goods

The goods

BoozyLife TV IS LIVE!

So, in case we haven’t met, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I get frustrated REALLY easily, have a hands-on approach to learning that borders on aggressive, and I have a tendency to throw it all out and start over–rather than try and make it work. All bad things I’m trying to work on. Life lesson alert!

On the first day of 2015, me and the man took the GoPro out for its first shoot. We had a blast driving up the lake, and excitedly got home to edit the footage. Imported the video clips, started editing….and promptly crashed the Mac due to lack of memory. I will be buying an external hard drive SOON.

In the mean time, we loaded the video clips (now a much lower resolution) onto my iPad and I’ve been playing with app editors until the needed memory upgrade. It’s not perfect, but you get the idea where I’m headed…and if I can just get over getting frustrated, I’m sure that I will get a lot further ahead in this boozy life….cheers!

CLICK ON THE LINK TO WATCH THE FIRST BOOZYLIFE VIDEO OF 2015

OUR FIRST BOOZYLIFE VIDEO

New York State Finger Lakes Bubbles To Ring In the New Year

Chardonnay vines in the snowAre you looking for some bubbles to bring in the new year, but, as always, you want to drink locally made NY booze? The Finger Lakes region is LOADED WITH local wineries that produce world-class sparkling wines (it’s only called Champagne when the booze is made in the Champagne province of Northern France, with certain grapes…your wine nerd moment for the day. The more you know, right?) Grape varieties vary from traditional Chardonnay to blends utilizing hybrids like Cayuga White, and styles range from dry and off dry to sweeter with crisp acidity. There is such a range of flavors, from fun and fruity to dry and slate stone–everyone can find something to drink happily.

These are some of the BoozyLife’s favorites, but there are LOTS to try now, so let me know if you loved one I didn’t mention. I’m always looking out for YOUR recommendations too! Click on the blue link for each winery–it’ll take you to their Sparkling Wines menus. You can also find MANY of these in your local wine shop. Ask around, and if they DON’T carry something you’d like, MENTION it to a manager! The Finger Lakes sections of our wine stores are growing, thanks to the interest and exposure of the area. Hey, if we’re good enough for the New York Times… 😉 Here are a few of my faves!

Dr. Frank Sparkling list. Traditional double fermentation in bottle- labor intensive process and delicate, beautiful bubbles.

Sweedish Hill Styles styles range from dry to sweeter, one of my very favorites is the Blanc de Blanc-crisp, off dry, with a light citrus and green apple nose.

Lamoreaux Landing Very traditional, standout sparkler. Only one style, and it is damn good. 2007 Blanc de Blanc still on shelves, made from 100% Chardonnay grapes-crisp acidity, mellow creamy finish.

Damiani Wine Cellars Traditional Sparkling Wine, as well as a fun Italian style Prosecco sparkler – 2012 Bollicini.

Red Tail Ridge Winery produce a few different styles of sparkling wine, including one of my faves, the Sparkling Teroldego-a sparkling red with jammy, juicy red fruit and black raspberry notes. Only 53 cases of the 2011 vintage produced, so grab it while the getting is good!

HAPPY 2015 to all of my new readers, as well as everyone that’s supported this venture along the way! I can’t wait to get this new year going, so many things in the BoozyLife works….Stay tuned!

My Last Tattoo for 2014: BoozyLife

Ready for round 2

Ready for round 2 and shading

Well, it seems appropriate that my last tattoo sitting this year will be with my husband, in our shop, and will complete the fancy lettering above my knees–BoozyLife. Why appropriate? Lefty traveled to Europe, Korea, and Japan this year, almost exclusively known for his fancy lettering. Now, I will finally have some of it on me to show off! Plus, I’m pretty invested in my new career path of beverage aficionado, so why not? Beverage aficionado, tattooed lady, dog mom. Sweet!

(L-R) Client, Norm, Big Sleeps, Lefty Bastard, Tin-Tin, and Boog Star, Paris 2014

(L-R) Client, Norm, Big Sleeps, Lefty Bastard, Tin-Tin, and Boog Star, Paris 2014

I’ve met some interesting wine writers and professionals that are intrigued by tattoos, and wino tattoo artists that want to tour wineries and distilleries. I’m looking forward to bringing my two favorite things together for another round. Stay tuned, there should be a YouTube channel coming soon…there will be things you need to SEE, not just read about. Trust me, kids.

So, what’s on for 2015? More Finger Lakes wine and spirit recognition, lots more travel, more tattoos….and who knows…who would buy a BoozyLife wine bag? I’m thinking it’s time to start a BoozyLife revolution 😉

 

Surviving the Polar Vortex: Ice Wine and Good Point Tattoos with Cory Ferguson & Eddie Molina

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to visit our tattoo family at Good Point Tattoos in Oakville, Canada for more work! The shop is owned by our good friend and tattooer Cory Ferguson, who specializes in dotwork, blackwork, and a continual assault of puns. I was there as a client this time, for the continuation of my sleeve, and for collaboration background of my phoenix backpiece. Cory’s geometric work on my left arm now extends across my shoulders, and will eventually scatter my chest as well. My husband Eddie Molina is collaborating with him, and added the smoke tendrils that swirl through the geometric pattern in this last session. I had two incredible artists work on me for several hours this weekend, and I’m so excited to show off their progress! Everything is really starting to tie together, and I dare say I look like a heavily tattooed woman…at least, from the back!

After all of that tattooing, I needed a DRINK! The weather screamed for an Ice Wine tour, so after two days of needle poking sessions, I grabbed my purse (NOT over my shoulder….OUCH) and we hit a few wineries on the way home to the States.

First stop, Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery. The beautiful tasting room has high ceilings and an elegant feel, and I’m struck by the views. I really love grape fields, and they are no less stunning in winter. The tasting bar crew was friendly and helpful, even during a slow Monday afternoon. I tasted their Vidal Icewine 2006, as well as the Cabernet Franc Icewine 2011. The Vidal was an Ontario Wine Awards Bronze winner, silky apricot and pineapple, sweet with a bright acidity. It was fresh and crisp, with a finish of honey. The Cabernet Franc 2011 was a very different ice wine. Aged in Stainless and French Oak, the red was much less sweet, and had a lot of smokey character. Oak balances with strawberry,  honey, and even a touch of currant and citrus on the end. Paired beautifully with a sample of 70% dark chocolate.

Next, we hit Fielding Estate Winery and their Wine Lodge tasting room, complete with fireplace and furry blankets in the loungers. Recognized as one of Canada’s Top 10 Wineries in 2013 according to their press, owner Curtis Fielding was named 2012 Grape Grower of the Year by the Grape Growers of Ontario Association. The view of their fields includes wind turbines, used to help warm the vines with moving air. The bar was pouring tastings of their 2012 Riesling Ice Wine. Aged in stainless steel and neutral French Oak, the color was a lovely medium gold. A sweet intensity was followed by a much softer light mouthfeel, the lingering finish was quite delicate.

Our last Canadian stop was Rosewood Estates Winery – Home. This is essentially where I dropped the ball and the Ice Wine tour became the Merlot stop. What can I say? I LOVE REDS. I tried to stick with the plan. I did. But then, I saw the 2010 Merlot Reserve on the tasting menu. I asked for a pour. “We’re sold out, but I still have a bottle to taste. Would you still like to…?”

“YES PLEASE,” was my answer. Ohhhh, yes.

Winemakers Notes 2010 Merlot RESERVE:  Picked by hand from low yielding vines, sorted first in the vineyard and then at the winery selecting only the very best clusters. The clusters were gently destemmed then separated into small fermentaiton totes. The intact berries were cold macerated for 5 days then were warmed up to allow the natural yeasts to start fermentation, which lasted 3 1⁄2 weeks. Manual punch-downs were perfromed twice daily. Select French oak barrels were chosen for this Merlot, spending 15 months in both new and seasoned barrels, each barrel taking on unique characteristics. Final filtration was completed the day of bottling.

I LOVED it. I was sad there was no more, and it had sold out. I have told countless tasters from behind the bar-“get it while we have it, once it’s gone it’s gone.” Then, something amazing happened. Our taster started pulling tasting boxes apart in the back room, looking for ONE bottle for yours truly. SHE FOUND ONE! I took it home happily, and I ended up with a bottle of Merlot on the Ice Wine tour. Great customer service, on top of a beautifully made wine. We made a break for the US border, it was getting late and I was feeling fine.

We made it into the States and off of the Thruway, and I decided to drive down Route 89 along Cayuga Lake for our last stretch of the journey. It was almost closing time, but I made one last stop-Sheldrake Point – Sheldrake Point Vineyards. I love their winery, I love the tasting staff, their wines are delicious…it’s a local jewel. I had also heard fantastic things about their 2013 Late Harvest Ice Wine, and had to make that the grand finale of our trek. I’m SO glad that we DID–that was our favorite Ice Wine of the day! The best description is ‘winter sunshine in a glass’. Fruity, acidic, sweet, balanced…but MORE. Bright. Gorgeous mouthfeel, silky and lasting intensity. It won BEST AMERICAN RIESLING at Canberra International Riesling Challenge 2013, and was awarded Double Gold from the New York Food & Wine Classic 2013…just in case you don’t trust this palate of mine. Nice to know it’s less than 45 minutes from beautiful Ithaca, NY…or as we call it, HOME. It’s so easy to drink Local here…Ithaca really is Gorges. 🙂

 

Home is where the Heart is…On the Bus, with Loretta Leu

Sitting on the wall with Loretta, 2013

Sitting on the wall with Loretta, 2013

Loretta and Demetra“Home is where the heart is….on the bus.” -Frank Zappa, Wet T-Shirt Nite

It has taken me almost exactly two months to finish writing this blog post, and I’ve thought about it every single day. After our trip to the Montreal Art and Tattoo Show held in mid September, my husband hit the road with a vengeance. Paris, London, Barcelona, Eddie toured around for two international tattoo shows in just over three weeks, plus a few guest spots with new contacts. I stayed home on this sudden European jaunt, helping to run our tattoo shop and keep things from burning down at home. Eddie had watched Filip Leu tattoo a one sitting backpiece in Montreal, and had been ready to travel, draw, and tattoo compulsively soon after. The London Convention was calling; so was Barcelona. Off he went. I was a proud tattoo wife from across an ocean.

The Montreal Art and Tattoo Show 2013 was possibly one of the most memorable conventions I’ve experienced. The energy was electric. Everyone was excited to see the Leu Family, and tattoo artists traveled from near and far to watch some of the world’s best tattoo artists practice their craft, live. I was given the exceptional opportunity to sit down with the First Lady of tattoo, Loretta Leu aka Maria, wife of Felix, and talk shop about tattoo life, family, wine, and our beloved dogs. According to the Leu Family Iron site, Felix and Loretta started tattooing in 1978 in Goa, India, and essentially raised their four children as bohemians and exceptional artists. They are possibly our most well known tattoo family, as well as the most respected, and I found Loretta to be sweet, straight forward, gracious, and very candid. I asked her if I could possibly sit and interview for her for a bit, so she gathered her jacket and we decided to sit outside of the noisy, buzzing convention hall for some fresh air.

After some brief introductions, Loretta lit her cigarette and said, “So? What did you want to know?”

Where do I start? I asked about all of the travel she had done over the years with her husband Felix and their four children. Was that a difficult undertaking?

Pause. “I had traveled a lot already in my life with my mother, I had traveled a lot with Felix before we ever got into tattooing. We didn’t start until we were thirty-five, both of us. Tattooing was really a Godsend; it saved our asses, because we always lived an alternative lifestyle, with four kids, already. So, it was always difficult finding ways of surviving. We didn’t want to go work in a shop, we found things to do, we made crafts, we went and lived in Spain, cheaper places, we would find ways of being able to carry on, the way we wanted to live with our kids…you know, without working for the man kind of thing…but it was always difficult. We got a bit of help from my mother sometimes, Felix’s mom when things were really tough, so when through sheer coincidence this chance came into our life, it seemed the perfect thing, you know, because you are your own boss, you don’t need to sell it in the sense that they come to you because they want a tattoo. You could be on a beach in Brazil with a little tattoo case, start talking to someone in a café, go back to your hotel room or whatever, settle on a price, and if they want a tattoo you tattoo. It is a very direct thing. We were both already artists, started that way originally, so it seemed perfect. After we started tattooing, we still did a bit of traveling.”

“How does that amount of travel change your life views? Do you always feel the need to keep moving?”

“When you’re younger, I think traveling is really good. Now, I am more than happy to stay home, with my dog, relax in my garden. I think you should see what else is out there, experience other cultures, people-it is only beneficial. Go for it. How do I think traveling changes you? It benefits you. It helps you have a broader view on life, and you see that it can be other ways.” She smiled broadly.

“Filip grew up on the road, so to speak, as did all of our kids. We would settle in places for six months, a year, Spain five years, India four years, several spots. But, you know, but…how shall I say, it’s not where any of us came from. It was just, OK, for two years, this is our house, that’s it. You know Zappa, right?”

I nodded my head and said ‘Of course!’

“That line, ‘Home is where the heart is…ON THE BUS!!’” she laughed, and rowdily sang a bit of Zappa to passing gawking artists.

“If you could give any advice to tattoo wives trying to balance family and this business, what would it be?” She had my utter and full attention-this woman had information and experience that humbles most on this particular topic.

“Advice for the tattoo wife? Oh! I would tell them be involved.”

“How?”

“Be part of it. That was always our experience, we always tattooed in the same place that we lived if possible, we were always together all the time, meaning although we did different things, sometimes Felix did most of the tattooing, I would help, like, clean up, or I learned how to make needles, we were a team. I was very lucky with Felix, in the sense that he was uuummm…well…(pauses)…he was great, and from the beginning when we started sending out photos of work, which was actually HIS work, he always labeled it Felix and Loretta Leu-always.”

“That’s a beautiful credit”, I replied. That acknowledgement is something we all look for.

“In the beginning, there weren’t as many national magazines when we started, but he would never put just Felix Leu. I would feel funny sometimes, and I’d say, ‘look, I don’t think that’s right, that one is your work, that one is (also) your work.’ And he’d say, ‘Yeah, but…you made the needles’, I was grinding pigments and mixing colors at that time, ‘you take care of everything else’…at the time I was doing all the appointments we would clean up together, the work kind of divided up by itself, it’s not like we made lists, but we both had things that we were better at. He was the one that learned to tattoo first, so he was the one that did it. We started getting a bit more work, and I did some too. But I never did the really big pieces. So my advice to tattoo wives is to be part of it, not have a separate life in the sense of OK, you have kids, so tattoo is what he does, and he has a shop and goes there, it becomes very a JOB, and that’s a shame. Then you have separate lives, and I’m a firm believer in a family, as much as possible, doing stuff together.”

I replied that I had always been a career woman, and working with my husband at our business had been a challenge for me, trying to find my place.

“Don’t misunderstand, when I say I believe in working together, once it wasn’t so, like in the beginning we were really broke, so when we got back to Switzerland, we worked really hard, like sixteen hour days, we would take anybody who came to the door, you know what I mean? Prices were way down, and yeah, sure sit down…we’d try not to let anyone walk out without getting tattooed. Once that got better, we got more of a, you know, reputation, more business, better prices, a bit more comfortable, Felix always encouraged me to go on for instance with my art, you know what I mean? And there was me, I was kind of copping out a bit, because it was easier just to do all of the work that I knew needed doing instead of, like, going off into another room to do art. I’m not saying don’t have something else you’re interested in, but if there is a way of working together or staying together I think that’s good as a couple and as a family, to do this thing together.”

I thought about their obviously loving relationship. “It sounds like you and Felix had something very special.”

“It seems special, just because a lot of people have a tendency not to do that anymore…but I think it used to be the way people did it, you know what I mean? The husband, the wife, the kids, everyone made a concerted effort for survival, way back when there was the grandparents as well, to look after the kids while the parents were doing the hard work. And that’s great, I think that is perfect.”

“So, I study and love wine and winemaking; I write about wines as well. Do you enjoy any wines or particular beverages?”

Sighing, “I don’t drink anymore now, and even if I have wine with dinner, I feel like crap. I just decided I can live without wine. No favorite, I guess red over white. Not a connoisseur, at all, even though the town I was born in-I was born in Italy-in a town called Asti, which is where the Asti Spumante sparkling wine comes from. But, I was six months old, so it doesn’t really count.”

I say it still counts. A wine connection is a wine connection, right? I’ll take it!

Shifting topics for a moment, “I am in love with my old english bulldog Madison Mae, and I hear you also have a little companion? Tell me about your dog, and her very unique name?”

“Ha! Lilu Multipass! The Fifth Element, that movie, I love the part where she says ‘Multipass! Multipass!’” Her face lights up even more. Why are tattoo folks almost always dog people? We all seem to have dogs that we treat as family.

“She’s a Tibetan Lhasa Apso and I’ve always wanted one. I said if I got a dog, it would be that. She’s great, she’s great with people, kids, just some dogs she does not like. Sometimes, it’s like I’m apologizing, she’s never hurt another dog, but even if it’s a big dog, she’ll grrrrrr….and then bark bark bark! I’m going like, sorry! Sorry! We’re in the mountains in Switzerland, so she is off of a leash mostly with me, where I walk her is mostly either forest or fields. She never strays; she’ll tear off and chase a fox or something, then come running back like, where is she? Did she leave? No, but she’s great. I obviously didn’t get her to replace Felix, but I got her initially for my health, because I realized I’m still smoking, and I’m too lazy to walk unless there is a visitor, but since I have her I’m out every day. Even in the winter, she’s so cute in the snow, pouf pouf pouf, snowballs stuck to the fur. What I like about this breed is while they are people dogs, they are alarm dogs, but she’s also independent in the house. It’s not like she has to be glued to me, she has her spots that she likes to do her siesta, I work over there, and then you think they’re asleep, and you walk past, and you just see the eye open, kind of following you, what is she doing…that’s been a big thing in my life the past three years. It gets me out there, I feel healthier.”

“Loretta, so why am I such a terrible client for my husband now? I used to sit for hours, now its, just….”

“No matter how different we are in our lives, we tattoo conventioneers have this one thing in common. You know what it’s like to get a needle stuck in you, and I know what it’s like!” Giggles. “And getting tattooed by artist husbands…it’s the worst!” More laughing and eye rolling, bonding through difficult tattoo sittings with our spouses. Real talk from Mama Leu!

She continued, “‘would you stop crying?’ It’s terrible to sit. I think it’s because they get nervous, they don’t want to fuck up, and then you get upset, and I can remember….this one (points to her throat tattoo) like, really hurt, and I’m like (whines) crying…he’s I can’t work if you’re crying…I’m going to stop NOW…and I’m like (whining) no, no finish it…ugh, terrible (laughing).”

“Of course I wish Felix was here as well, but that’s the way it went. I’m not unhappy with getting older in the sense of course I don’t like aches and pains, and the things that don’t work so good anymore, but I like the freedom-the mental freedom I feel now. It’s different.”

Different how?

She smiled and glanced to the side for a moment. “It’s not like anybody was holding me back, I was holding myself in this place. And now, I’m so totally free of, like, I can get up when I want, I can go to sleep when I want, if I decide to walk over there, I don’t have to report to anybody and let them know where I am, there is a lot of freedom in getting older. Maybe I’ll make a tee shirt that say’s There’s Freedom in Getting Older!” she said, laughing at the idea. “But there is! It’s not all bad, what’s coming down the road.”

I told her I was looking forward to sharing any and all adventures that Eddie and I have in our future, together. Easily one of the most inspiring and generous spirits I’ve been blessed to talk with and be inspired by. Thank you to Loretta for taking time out of your busy weekend to talk with me, and for sharing the knowledge and love so easily. I’ve been much more involved, and as the universe sees fit….we’re getting on the bus. “Viva la Vida,” she signed a sticker for our resident female tattooist Colby Pou. Viva la vida, Loretta! Thank you again for your insights, see you out there…

LiLu the beautiful Lhasa in Loretta's rose garden, at home in Switzerland

LiLu the beautiful Lhasa in Loretta’s rose garden, at home in Switzerland

Loretta at work in Montreal, 2013

Loretta at work in Montreal, 2013

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