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Posts Tagged ‘Wine’

On the day my sister Kay woke from her coma and left the hospital – the same hospital still holding her mother and grandmother captive – the movie “Lost Weekend” was playing at the local Scranton movie theatre. I can see her now, in the back seat of a car, looking at the marquee and thinking to herself, “I lost a whole month.”

The Flapper’s automobile accident had been on the Fourth of July, and Kay was unconscious for a whole month. She’d “lost” the first month of summer picnics and ballgames. It’s a humbling feeling I’m sure to wake up and discover the world went on without you; dogs were fed, gardens watered and someone took care of the baby. No child at fourteen should have to care for her younger brothers, her crippled mother, and a ten month old baby sister. But that was her misfortune, her karma, our Year of Living Dangerously.

This week, the first hazy, hot and humid day of the summer, our air conditioner died and I felt like I lost a whole day.

Bob and I went out to run some errands and returned to a very hot house. The HVAC people who had installed a tankless water heater just a few months earlier, were booked solid. Temps would hover near 90, but they said they could come “tomorrow.” The Bride kindly offered us dinner in her freezing cold house, and of course we accepted. She wanted us to stay in her garage apartment overnight, but we said no thanks.

That night, we opened windows, found a fan, and attempted to sleep. After all, we are both stoic. We grew up without air conditioning, and we never needed it while we lived in the Berkshires.

The next day a young technician arrived and spent four hours troubleshooting our combo gas furnace and electric air conditioner. It was installed in 2015. Would I sound like an old codger if I complained about planned obsolescence? It does seem like major appliances used to get “fixed” when we were first married, and now more often than not, something needs to be “replaced.” Lucky for us, we only needed a new capacitor.

Still, our crooked crystal cottage could hold the heat in her walls. It took many hours for our unit to cool the whole house to a comfortable temperature. I don’t remember much of that day – trying to plant outside in the shade, refilling Ms Bean’s water bowl and checking her breathing to see if she was still alive. Animals are smart about the weather, she switched into hibernation mode immediately.

The 1945 movie Lost Weekend was about an alcoholic. Ray Milland plays a writer who goes on a “four day bender.” I’ve never experienced a blackout while drinking, I was always told I’m a lightweight. But these last few weeks of men debating a woman’s sovereignty over her own body have made me want to pop open a wine bottle again. And over this past weekend, our country experienced FOUR mass shootings…

I’m exhausted and tired of this fight, in a country where barely 1/3 of the population gets to impose their rules and religious beliefs on the rest of us . They want the freedom to carry guns, without a permit, like it’s the wild west. They want to legislate our wombs.

The problem with overdoing alcohol is the next day you pay. I heard Jane Fonda say she doesn’t have many days left in this life, and if she drank a martini tonight she would lose the next day. So I’ll pop open a Pellegrino and keep writing. I’ll try to stay grateful for all the little things in this life, like the Love Bug graduating from elementary school.

I don’t want to lose another day.

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Waking up to snow a few days ago was the perfect start to Spring Break.

I always loved flying off to our favorite island in a storm, and returning to a spring full of robins and daffodils. The Rocker and Aunt Kiki flew cross country to attend the wedding of the last, single, Parlor Mob bandmate. The drummer with “Oh Yeah” tattooed across his chest said “I Do” to his new bride this weekend. And our Bride and Groom’s family took off for the mountains.

We stayed home in Nashville – to pack for The Big Move, and run our temporary kennel of three rescue dogs!

I’ve let a sober January turn into a sober February and March so far. Before the 2016 election, I’d gotten used to a glass of chardonnay with dinner; but afterwards it turned into wine while cooking dinner during a pandemic and after dinner and a tornado too. Day drinking was never my thing, although I do remember a certain soccer mom who brought a thermos of vodka cocktails to a practice in the 80s.

I’m not opposed to drinking, in fact, I’ll probably be the first to order a margarita whenever we go out to an actual restaurant again!

I’m remembering my foster Daddy Jim, every now and then he’d stop off at a bar for a beer and leave me in the car. I know, he’d be arrested today, but back in the 50s this was normal. Especially if your foster mother didn’t allow any alcohol in the house! The Flapper was a coffee addict, her liquor cabinet was locked up tight. She always said there was NO alcoholism in our family. And by filming my brother drunkenly climbing a set of stairs after his high school graduation, and showing the film every so often, she tried to insure our sobriety.

Honestly, my sleep has been so much better. In sleep hours alone, I figure I’m buying myself a few extra years of life. I was listening to a classical music station on the radio when an advertisement came on for a hospice care facility. Its mantra was – “Calm Comfort Clarity.” And my immediate response was – why can’t I have that now?

It turns out, I can…

… except for the war in Ukraine. Every day I wake to a sense of impending doom. Russia puts nuclear weapons on alert, another journalist is killed, and today we learn of a pregnant woman dying from an air strike in Mariupol. We can see her body on a stretcher. her left hip drenched in blood.

Every day I wake to see if the capital city of Kyiv has been invaded. The shelling of innocents in that city started four days ago, and still its citizens fight for their freedom. They say they would rather stand tall than live on their knees. Putin’s tanks and missiles are getting closer to Poland. I wonder what NATO will do. Will Biden step up to the bully?

What can we Americans do? Ignoring a bully like Putin won’t stop him – it was silence and indifference that allowed Hitler to invade Poland after all. I would like to put my money right in the hands of those Ukrainian people who are staying to fight for their land. A British Twitter writer I follow suggested we book an Air BnB in Ukraine, but is that a good plan? That would just help the top 2% of the population that has wifi and property to rent to others.

“The reaction to Russia’s onslaught on Ukraine has inspired innovative new ways of supporting people on the ground. Two students at Harvard designed their own “stripped-down” version of Airbnb to quickly connect Ukrainian refugees with emergency housing, Google rolled out an air raid alerts system for all Android phones, and the US State Department has even partnered with GoFundMe to establish a channel for businesses, philanthropies, and individuals to support organizations providing humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians. Separate from individual customer bookings of Ukrainian properties, Airbnb has started a refugee fund, where it is aiming to offer free, short-term housing to up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine.”

https://www.vox.com/22973133/ukraine-russia-airbnb-booking-donate-effective-altruism

I don’t mean to imply that the war is damaging my serenity. I’m about to move again, and that is my American, immediate stressor. I’m not bunking in a metro station or learning how to make molotov cocktails. I’m not running for my life. Just be careful what you say to your children and grandchildren about war and freedom. Now is the time to be clear-minded. Our country must light the way forward.

How many humans do you need to put up a chandelier?

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At daybreak, I hear Ms Bean’s clickety paws on the floor, and the bedroom door closes. If I’m lucky, I might get another sleep cycle. When I wake from my Covid dream, the one about keeping Great Grandma Ada away from the crowded dining hall at Camp St Joseph, I have to change my nightgown. Bob likes our bedroom freezing cold at night, and I’ve been sweating glowing a lot lately.

Breakfast is easy; but first, coffee. I know Bob loves me because he keeps the Keurig carafe filled with water. I need to wake up with a big mug, my only caffeine fix of the day. And I like to watch a few cable news networks in the process – how many more deaths, what state is seeing a spike in virus infections, what does, “Defund the Police” actually mean?

Breakfast is a banana, covered in vanilla yogurt and granola. My favorite Hudson Henry granola from Virginia, the orange bag with pecans and chocolate. We order it in bulk, direct from the company. I pour myself a big glass of green iced tea, and flip open my laptop.

Bob eats Eggo waffles most days and doesn’t like watching the news in the morning. He’d much rather watch Rachel Maddow at night; we are the exact opposite in our daily news consumption. I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I watched Rachel before bed. Or if I did, my Covid nightmares would get worse.

This morning, he’s in the living room with classical music and his iPad. Soon, he’ll be outside watering the garden.

In my office, I check in on Twitter, the BBC, and the New York Times, in that order. Did you know that Winston Churchill was a racist? An idea for an essay is percolating in my mind. I look up and out the window, something has caught my eye. Beyond the parking lot across the back alley, a shirtless man keeps popping up doing jumping jacks. Intrigued, I stand to get the full view – eight push-ups on the ground followed by the jump.

Some people miss the gym more than others.

Around 9am Bob pops in to say he’ll be walking Ms Bean, and I hear her happy joy circle dance by the front door. He yells back, “By the way, I fed the starter.” My cell is off and Bob knows not to disturb me when I’m writing. How do I know? I know this because I overheard him tell a friend that Tuesdays he’s on his own in the morning! Well until 11am anyway.

We used to drive Ms Berdelle to 11am T’ai Chi at the Y on Tuesdays, but now we set up two yoga mats on the floor in the living room. Bob has decided to join my Zoom Beginner Pilates class. He’s read my post and gives me feedback like any good editor while we gather foam rollers, balls and exercise bands, the tools of the senior set.

During Pilates I find out there’s a fire burning in Tucson, where my instructor’s mother lives, and she had to be evacuated last night. I try to concentrate on cracking a walnut between my shoulder blades, sticking my tush out, and what I’m going to make for dinner. I try not to think about climate change.

After Pilates Bob asks, “Do we have any plans for lunch?”

Luckily, I don’t have any plans for lunch, so we decide to walk down to the Vietnamese restaurant and see if there’s a table on the socially distant patio. We haven’t been out to eat in three months. Unluckily, all the tables, which is maybe half of the usual tables, are occupied so we pick up two ready made salads and walk home. I really miss going out for lunch.

Long ago Bob told me I was making him fat because I’m a pretty good cook, a backhanded compliment for sure – ever since that day, whenever I cook something for us to eat, he gets to make his own plate. You see, somewhere along my feminist learning curve I decided that I was supposed to plan and shop and cook a delicious dinner every single night… for 41 years… but not breakfast or lunch.

I never got the memo that I didn’t have to cook dinner. I still look with wonder at younger women who say they never cook. I mean, is that even possible?

After lunch we decide to make a Shipt order on my computer. Bob likes to do this with me, he drags in another chair so we can sit side by side while we discuss the status of milk in the refrigerator. We would rarely go grocery shopping together in the past, but he needs more bread flour. Bob is now on his fifth try at perfecting sourdough bread, in my vintage Dutch oven.

“You should see, my starter is growing!” Bob tells me proudly and we discuss the merits of sourdough baking – damp towels, parchment paper, bubbling.

The afternoon is upon us and it’s time to start our day, so we go back upstairs to shower and I change my yoga pants and floss my teeth. I’m responding to comments on social media about my blog on my phone and doing laundry when I hear a timer go off. It’s time for Bob to “do something” big, there’s lots of noise in the kitchen. I think he’s making the dough, or maybe it’s time to “stretch and fold.”

Then my phone bings and we have to drive-through the pharmacy and get a case of wine curbside delivered.  We suit ourselves up in masks and head for the car. As soon as I start the engine, my cell rings so loudly on blue tooth that we both startle. Four people call us in that 15 minute round-trip ride. A brother has a tax question, a grand daughter has a bee bite, a neighbor has a medical consult, and what color gray should the Bride paint her new bookshelves?

We arrive home and I Google “panzanella” salad. What a great Italian idea for the heel of a sourdough loaf of bread! It’s also close enough to 5 o’clock somewhere to pour a cold, glass of unoaked Chardonnay. But first I must feed Ms Bean.

Then I tell Bob to pick some kale, and I pick some tarragon. Chopped garlic and tarragon, mixed with a little honey mustard and salt and pepper, then add Balsamic vinegar and some good EVOO. I wash and halve some cherry tomatoes, tear up the kale, and Bob’s picked a pepper too. I improvised and threw in some leftover pasta salad and added some cubes of Swiss cheese, but any hard cheese would do. I combine the chunks of bread that I’ve dried a bit in a hot oven with the veggies and pour the vinaigrette over it all.  https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-panzanella-italian-bread-salad-recipe-206824

We had to dance around each other in our galley kitchen since Bob was kneading or rolling dough while I was assembling the salad, but he pronounced it my best summer salad evah!

Time for another stroll with Ms Bean. She’s super excited because I’m joining them. We’ve relaxed our puppy sniffing rules a bit, but we still don’t stop to pet other dogs. Sometimes we talk, but half the young people in our neighborhood are not wearing masks. How can people be so callous? Our Mayor has decided to keep Nashville at Phase 2 of re-opening, but we’re staying home in our own Phase 1 for the most part.

The bread is sitting on the counter rising, and we’re ready to wind down. Tomorrow morning the sourdough bread goes in the oven. We might play Scrabble or watch Netflix tonight. Or talk to the kids on the patio across the way, they are both residents at Vanderbilt. Our kids are driving to the beach for a well deserved vacation from Covid.

We could all use a vacation about now.

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What’s a person to do in the middle of this Impeachment Trial, this theatrical show, a “foregone conclusion” as Andrew Yang has said? After reading that Republican Senators have been leaving the room, fidgeting with finger spinners, looking “weary and bored” according to the Associated Press, I thought our neighborhood association had a splendid idea – wine tasting!

My Go-To wine lately is “A to Z Wineworks” from Oregon, but I was willing to expand my horizons.

On Friday night we all gathered at Richard and Linda’s townhome that sits on the edge of a park. Our sommelier Calvin was delightful; he poured a delicious chardonnay from the Finger Lakes Region, “Fox Run Vineyards.” I happen to like love unoaked whites, and he told us the climate in upstate NY is similar to Chablis in France. The motto on their website is “Drink wine, Be happy.” https://foxrunvineyards.com/

Unfortunately, drinking wine hasn’t been making me happy since 2016. But I’m willing to keep trying.

Did you know some of the best wines today are coming from Virginia and Texas? Still, one of the finest unoaked chardonnays hails from California, at $90 a bottle – Williams-Selyem 2017. “California makes more wine than any other state in the United States. Not only does the state grow a variety of noble grape varieties like Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, there are also plantings of lesser-known varieties such as Nebbiolo, Roussanne and Mourvèdre to name just a few.” 

Ever since the Rocker and KiKi moved out to LA, I’ve imagined myself a California girl. A most Progressive state, with no humidity, no mosquitoes and plenty of sunshine! So naturally Mr T hates it, why else would his administration threaten to cut federal aid unless the state drops its requirement that private insurers cover abortions. Governor Gavin Newsom said:

“California will continue to protect a woman’s right to choose, and we won’t back down from defending reproductive freedom for everybody — full stop.”

The California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, tweeted: “We will fight this by any means necessary.” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/24/health/abortion-california-insurance.html

It’s hard for me to think of a more vindictive and malicious president in our history. He has been impeached, and knows he will most likely NOT be removed from his office, he will continue to hold his radical right-wing “rallies” and run again for a second term. Like every good con man, while we are all (A) looking at the Senate, bemoaning the lack of civility, he is (B) attacking a woman’s basic human right – to have control over her own body.

Again, this bully of a president threatens to withhold funds, but now instead of Ukraine he attacks California to please his base of white Christian zealots. “Let’s start by acknowledging that women are not things. Before we talk, like we have to, about what the attacks on abortion access mean for this anxious, awful political era, let’s establish as a ground rule that women are not vessels, or incubators, or an undifferentiated natural resource. Women are human beings whose human rights matter.”  https://newrepublic.com/article/153942/criminalization-womens-bodies-conservative-male-power

This is why your vote matters. This is why senators should actually be listening to Adam Schiff’s arguments, paying attention and not just getting their panties in a twist over his “head on a spike” comment. The GOP needs to stop whining and do their damn job! Remember that the GAO said Mr T BROKE THE LAW. Remember you can actually call on witnesses that were in the room. Remember the documents you are demanding are being withheld by the White House… We now have a tape of him saying Lev should “take her out” about the Ukraine Ambassador.

Our democracy is being held together, tenuously by our free press. Calvin and Linda are welcoming us into a new decade, this next week will no doubt set the course.

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This morning while scrolling through Twitter, I saw that a new Ms America was crowned last night. While I was group texting with the kiddos about the Democratic Debate out in LA, a Virginia Tech Hokie walked away with the crystal tiara in Connecticut. And get this, Camille Schrier is a biochemist who didn’t have to strut in a swimsuit competition; she did, however, demonstrate a cool science experiment as her talent!

The new Miss America told the crowd during introductions that she plans to get a doctor of pharmacy degree at VCU, in Richmond, Virginia. She has undergraduate degrees in biochemistry and systems biology from Virginia Tech.  https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/19/entertainment/miss-america-2020-trnd/index.html

But let’s return to the debate. The best take-away from Twitter is that Amy Klobuchar is the Goldilocks candidate: “…she’s not too young, not too old; not too hot not too cold; not too left, not too right.” She was the only candidate in the room with Chuck Schumer and Nancy and Mitch, trying to iron out the rules for an Impeachment trial in the Senate.

Amy brought her Minnesotan Nice self into the dust-up between Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth warren when they were discussing “wine caves” and “purity tests” and who has more money than whom –

I did not come here to listen to this argument,” she declared. “I came here to make a case for progress.” Of course, she added, she herself had never been to a wine cave — although she had visited “the wind cave in South Dakota.”

 

It’s time to take a breath, pour some egg nog and take the Grands to see the Nutcracker!

What could be better than Tchaikovsky and magical Christmas dreams? I remember actually using a steel nutcracker to crack open walnuts around the holidays, I even remember sticking cloves in oranges; today we light candles for scent and buy our nuts pre-cracked, in bags all ready for baking. But according to a German folktale, nutcrackers symbolize strength and power, with an ability to guard the family against danger – like Russian dancers, or an army of mice.

Kind of like a Ring doorbell for that matter!

Old traditions are changing with the times. Beauty pageants are no longer all about perfect measurements and teeth. Science can be sexy. Women and gay dudes can run for president and maybe even win in the new year. And dancers of all colors can twirl on their toes under the spell of Herr Drosselmeier.

But the big news that’s not getting much coverage is that Billy Graham’s publication, “Christianity Today,” is calling for Mr T to not just be impeached, but removed from office. The editors called his attempts to shakedown a foreign leader for his own personal gain “…profoundly immoral.” I wonder if his legions of devoted followers will listen, or even care?

“He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone — with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders — is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”  https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-12-20/trump-outrage-tweet-christianity-today-impeachment

If Mr T is removed from office, Mike Pence would be President; no moral confusion there. Enter the guy who can’t be alone in a room with a woman other than his wife

So Happy Holidays Everyone, whatever holiday you’re celebrating!

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Things are heating up here in Nashville. Literally. Temps are headed into the 90s this week, and Bob got the gas fire pit to work just in time for summer. Naturally I decided to make my famous not-too-spicy-turkey-veggie chili last night; always a good way to get rid of all the remaining vegetables lurking in the fridge, including some parsnips that were sprouting greenery.

On Sunday our little neighborhood had its annual “Sip and Stroll” garden guzzle! Basically it’s a good excuse to drink with your friends and neighbors whilst walking around outside. A truck leads the way to 5 gardens with wine and beer on tap! Last year we had a blast, so I packed up my insulated summer wine goblet and headed east. The magnolias are in bloom, redbuds are leafing out and flowers were everywhere – lucky for us, when the rain finally exploded, we could take cover inside an open garage.

My 92 year old neighbor Berdelle’s son was in town for another outdoor lesson in T’ai Chi on Saturday. I loved practicing under the trees in her secret garden with 7 other women, listening to the haunting sound of a train whistle among the bird songs. It transports you to another time and place. I remembered all my attempts at gardening; my border of rosa rugosa in Rumson, my feeble plot to plant fig trees in Charlottesville just so the deer could enjoy them.

This morning is T’ai Chi at the Y and I’ll ask Berdelle if she’d like to attend a rally right after our class downtown to support Planned Parenthood. Maybe we will laugh about the “great” state of Alabama because in the darkest time we must find humor. AL has added insult to injury today – not only did it pass the most restrictive anti-choice bill in decades, its public television station has refused to air a cartoon episode of an anthropomorphic aardvark named Arthur! Why?

Because Arthur marries his same-sex partner. Oh the humanity!

The Bride’s friend Tamara from Duke wrote an excellent article about her abortion, or involuntary miscarriage, years ago that still rings true. I double dare any anti-choice person to read it! https://www.huffpost.com/entry/heartbeat-involuntary-miscarriage-and-voluntary-abortion-in-ohio_b_2050888

Ultimately, these TRAP laws and heartbeat bills are incremental infringements on our constitutional rights as Americans. They are lead by far-Right zealots who would like us to follow their own brand of religion, which tells them that marriage is between a man and a woman and that life begins in the womb, with no exceptions.

Not even when a fetus has no brain tissue and would never survive after birth, not even if a child is raped… They really need to stop legislating a woman’s uterus! Our First Amendment guarantees our freedom from religious tyranny, of any kind. That’s why our ancestors immigrated to this country.

So I’ll put on my big girl boots and march again this morning for #StoptheBans after T’ai Chi, I’ll donate to Planned Parenthood, and maybe I’ll break out my insulated wine goblet too. I’ll carry a sign and chant a chant. I’ll stop to smell the gardenias and keep fighting as if my grand daughter’s life depends on it. She’s got the bees knees!

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