Category Archives: Wine

Space Time and Teenagers

sloth

Last night I had my least favorite recurring dream, the missed flight dream.

Are you familiar with this nightmare? You’re supposed to take a trip but you’re running hopelessly late. In mine I’m miles from the airport, have not packed, have not even dressed and my airplane is leaving in 30 minutes. Every single time.

I hate every moment and still, it keeps coming back to me.

Yesterday, I finally realized why.

I have this dream because I have sloths.

SONS! I mean, I have sons.

I have three wonderful sons whose range of speed goes something like this:

Slow

Slower

Impossibly Slower than That

and

Not Moving at All.

 

My everyday existence is a miss-flight-mare, no matter what is on our agenda.

Me: “The movie starts in a half an hour.”

Son speed: turtle.

Me: “If we leave now, we can go to the game store before it closes.”

Son speed: turtle with a broken leg.

Me: “There is a man outside giving away tickets to Disneyland for anyone who can get to him in 5 minutes.”

Son speed: turtle with a broken leg riding on the back of a dead snail.

Yes these are teenagers, yes they have boundless energy, yes it makes no sense, and yes I am not exaggerating.

Yesterday I told my son (still in bed and pajamas even though I’d spent the last 2 hours telling him to get ready) that we were leaving in 10 minutes. When I checked on him five minutes later the only advancement he had made was to take his shirt off.

When I asked him if he was ready know what he said?

“Almost”

Almost?

“In what universe?” I cried. “By what stretch of the imagination are you “almost” ready to go? A blind fish on tranquilizers could get out of this house faster than you!”

Kidding. I didn’t say any of that.

Telling a teen to hurry is like honking at someone because you want their parking spot.

You think it will speed things, the opposite happens.

Anyway he was moving, we hadn’t hit full stop yet. And besides it is far more important that he understands no matter what, I love wine…

HIM! I mean, No matter what I love him…

Stop laughing Wine. That was totally believable! Hey I had that dream again, are you free later?

 

 

 

The world as a restaurant

 

Here’s a headline we can all get behind:

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Several years ago I went to dinner in Korea with a group of co-workers.

If you know me you know that I believe there is nothing more fun and delicious than Korean barbecue so that dinner, in Korea with people I enjoyed, should have been awesome.

But it wasn’t. That dinner was a KBBQ exception. When the waitress brought out the platter of meat that day, it was drama for dinner.

The coworker to my right (Muslim) couldn’t eat pork but the restaurant (mad cow cautious) wasn’t keen to serve beef. The ensuing discussion prompted the coworker on my left to warn that if cow was procured it better (for the sake of their respective immortal souls) be cooked on a separate grate. Meanwhile across the table three American southerners used the confusion to steal the flustered waitress’ cooking tongs because they’d eaten enough KBBQ to know that no self-respecting Korean would ever let the meat char to the delicious carcinogenic levels said men desired.  

Now if you have ever convinced a Korea restaurant to alter their menu for you for any reason you…

  1. are my hero and,
  2. fully understand what a nightmare that meal was.  

(Actually grown guys playing tong keep-away was pretty amusing so maybe “nightmare” is a bit strong)

Anyway, I’d forgotten all about that dinner until last week when I read these two articles:

From the Irish Independent:

Burnt food may cause cancer

And (I kid you not, less than 24 hours later) from the NY Times

Charring is the new it cuisine 

So if I want to live long I absolutely mustn’t blacken my meals but if I want to live happy I absolutely must. Where does that leave me?

Hungry, that’s where. And maybe that’s been the problem all along. Maybe we’re all just hungry.

The world we live in (like that dinner and those articles) is fraught with people of differing ideas, preferences, beliefs, goals, sports loyalty, beverage addiction… Demand that it all mold into one unified path towards the future and you risk ending up (like me at that dinner and after reading those articles) – hungry.

(or on a diet of boiled chicken and I ask you, when has boiled chicken ever make anyone truly happy??)

What is the answer? I don’t know and I’m not suggesting we stop looking. I just think in the mean time, maybe we should all have a sandwich.

Yeah peace and sandwiches*… maybe some of that wine…it couldn’t hurt. 

I’ll set the table.

 

*lest my blatantly western sandwich offer offend, feel free to eat instead a panini, gyro, banh mi, kebab, arepa, bacadillo, taco, piroshki, vada pav, chivito…just stay away from the blood of your enemies. That would probably not be productive. 

 

 

Life Edit

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Is it age and wisdom that gives one an unquenchable thirst for change?

Or is it simply total exhaustion followed by too much wine?

You work hard, play hard, learn the rules, break a few, get ahead, fall behind, start over more times than you can remember and after a while, you are a prime target for a good bottle of wine and some serious self evaluation.  

Or maybe that’d be a cheap box of wine and a bucket full of crazy ideas?

(don’t judge me)

Either way, you’re ready for a life style renovation. I know I am.

It’s time for a culling.

 

This year I’ve decided I’ve no space in my life anymore for:

Unattractive or uncomfortable undergarments. I just can’t. Life is too short to feel anything but relaxed and gorgeous all the time.

Besides, there is far too much CCTV these days. Remember when you could release the fabric clinging to your tushy without it going internet viral? Good times.   

 

I am also totally over:

Self induced drama that doesn’t come in book or video form. I’ll listen to your story when the final season airs, but this ear is not available for details of your trashy self in progress.

Pull yourself together and quit wasting your energy on anything that isn’t making someone’s life better.

Or don’t and come to a tragic end.     

Either way, until there’s a book deal, do not involve me.

 

I am absolutely giving up:

Being angry about things I can’t change. The world will forever find something to disagree about, rain’s gonna fall even though I’ve made plans and, no matter how hard I beg, donuts will always be fattening for my thighs, but never my boobs. *sigh*

 

And to wrap up this year’s life purge, I have but three words:

Nylons no more. Maybe I’m late to this party, but what were we thinking? Nylons embody everything that should be eradicated from women’s fashion: lack of durability, complete discomfort, and absolute pointlessness.

They don’t even keep you warm.

 

Ahhhh…I feel better already. 

Now its your turn. What are you going to dump this year?

 

Size Matters

“…wine, a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.”                                                                      Benjamin Franklin

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Sometimes the pros of living in a small town struggle to outweigh the cons.

Take for example dining. As far as fine dining in this town goes, what we lack in quantity, we lack equally in quality. And so, when a new restaurant opened recently it wasn’t all that shocking to learn the wine was served from a vending machine ‘by the pour’. Your options? 6 ounces or 8.

Classy joint.

Then again, it’s probably not the pour policy I take issue with so much as the pour options.

6 ounces? Shouldn’t all pours be 8? At least?

But maybe I’ve lived here too long. It wasn’t long ago that I realized “no wine before its time” was clearly intended for people who have never been snowed in.

And that saying about life being too short to drink bad wine? Isn’t life too short to spend it making trips to the liquor store? Finish the bottle, learn from the experience, and make better choices next time.

Of course this comes from the same girl who believes there are no bad bottles of wine, only quitters. Have another glass or two. You might change your mind.

So back to that pour…

Sure, I’ll take 6. Next I’ll have ¾ of a fillet minion, carpe half the diem, never finish the book, kiss on the cheek, and go to bed without dessert.

Amateurs.

“In victory, you deserve champagne. In defeat you need it.”

                                                                                     Napoleon Bonaparte

 

 

Girls gone wild, Alaska style.

No scandalous photos and no gutter talk this week. Mowgli can’t stand it anymore. I pushed him to the edge and suffered his wrath.

He sent me to camp.

Girl camp. No men. Just a one room cabin, some wine and a handful of stunning and brilliant ladies getting back to nature.

(Stop that. I know what you’re thinking and I told you no gutter talk.)

Following is a photo journal of what happens when extreme weather and one woman’s childish behavior results in her husband kicking her out into the wild for a weekend to find herself.

 The Gear:

 

 

Cross country skis, snow shoes, enough warm clothing to qualify one as a life sized advertisement for REI, and one pink flask.

DO NOT forget the flask.

 

The Location:

 

 

The View:

 

A good place to focus if you don’t want to fall down…

 

 

 

…or in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, with friends like this it doesn’t matter where you’re focused. Nice rabbit ears.

 

 

 

And then, beauty

 

 

 

 

 

 

and more beauty and…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow snail races? How does this even happen? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, back to the cabin

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset, Northern lights, food, wine, and great conversation.

Until it’s later and there’s more wine, brighter Northern lights and even better conversation…

Which practically screams for more wine…

maybe some chocolate…

probably some singing…

definitely some more wine….

Some days, winter’s not all that bad.

(P.S. Mowgli feels better too.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Other Martha Stewart

My sister is getting married this month and for reasons beyond human comprehension and all things remotely sane, she made me in charge of the food.

The wedding is in five days.

This morning I realized there are only two thoughts I‘m capable of wrapping my squishy brain around:

1. I’m almost out of Xanax.

2. I miss the woman who taught me how to cook (L, who passed away 8 years ago), LIKE YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE.

 

L was an amazing and intense woman who taught me almost everything I know about combining people and food. She was a kitchen god and my personal pantry Sacagawea. L single handedly navigated me out of a spam and velveeta wilderness (no offense to the manufactures of those unique food products) and saved me from a slow and tasteless death. L was my mentor, friend, task master, occasional drinking buddy (she introduced me to the Martini) and educator. L was also, technically, my mother-in-law.

I met L when I was gastronomically ignorant and newly married to a charming man who was (according to legal documents) L’s son. While L undisputedly  birthed Mowgli, after that the relationship lines grow fuzzy. In his youth Mowgli spent more time conversing with wild animals and foraging for berries than he did talking to L. L, for her part, spent more time creatively interpreting the law and, consequently, running from it than parenting Mowgli. Therefore, calling her his ‘mom’ was a bit of a stretch Her parental shortcomings aside, one thing L would not tolerate was uninspired chow and that was exactly what I used to serve. So she took me under her wing and into her kitchen and improved Mowgli’s diet a thousand fold.

L, like most 5 star chef’s, settled for nothing less than the best. Which was challenging because even those she was not a rich woman, her food always was. L had questionable morals. What she lacked in material wealth she often made up for in felonious behavior.This, it turned out was awesome for my expanding palette, but hell on our bank account.

Even with all the bad, I still miss her. Especially now, 5 days before the event of the century whose success hinges on my ability to remember how many pounds of meat will feed 120 people and how many hours ahead of time I can boil and egg.

L, if there is internet in the great beyond and you are reading this, think about me. And for the love of Julia Child, don’t let me F*&% this up.

Wisdom from L. One day I’ll write a book of them. For now:

“The only way to keep a clean stove is to never use it.” This is one of my all time favorite L-ism. How can you not love such a brilliant excuse for what is simply a case of extreme laziness? I only wish L had an equally smart reply for a dirty bathroom.

“If you’re going to make one cheese cake, you may as well make five.” Trust me, this is 100% true. Where one stores five spring form pans and what exactly one does with five incredibly fattening cheese cakes after they are made, however, are separate issues.

“Never rely on a new recipe. Always, always test what you are going to serve BEFORE the day of the event.” Iron clad advice. Ironically, L generally restated this immediately after crying:

“Shit, shit, shit! Why didn’t I test this recipe?”

and finally,

“One bottle of wine is enough for 5 glasses of wine, or 2.5 people, or me.”

 

 

 

Girls night, peanut butter, and oil

Last Friday, after almost two months of thwarted attempts, neighbor T and I finally executed operation “save my sanity”.

AKA: Girls night.

No easy endeavor. Remember my birthday? Yeah.

 

Leaving the kids in Mowgli’s care (be afraid, be very afraid, just not right now because we have to go enjoy ourselves) T and I stepped out for…

What I told my kids:

Dinner, conversation and maybe a drink.

How that translates:

Rich haute cuisine, some very serious bitching, and cocktail after cocktail after cocktail…

Guys, it’s time for a reality check. Bitching is not an unfortunate side effect of girls with booze. It is a sacred rite of womanhood. It is crucial to our survival. It’s cathartic, rejuvenating. Our attachment to it runs so deep that if a woman finds herself at a bitch session short on material she is very likely to make something up.

What’s that you say? Sounds like a silly waste of time? Fruitless distraction? Just a way for us to avoid you?

I have two words for you gentlemen: Preseason football.

 

Friday we were in sore need of a night out. Too much drama paired with too little sleep (and, for my part, the fact that Mowgli had shot down every one of my blog ideas, leaving me scrambling) had us in a ripe mood.

The restaurant (the most expensive one we could find because spending wads of cash increases the therapeutic effect of a bitch session) was packed. Incredibly a large table was cleared for us straight away. Pleased, T and I placed our purses on empty chairs while near by a family of five stuff into a booth.

Maybe our cosmic bitch was leaking and they wanted to give it room. I’m good with that.

Our bitch session, broken down:

Stage one: FML

“Everything sucks.”

“All of it.”

“Kids are hopeless.”

“A mess.”

“At least the waiter is cute. Maybe he’ll flirt with us.”

“He’s gay.”

etc. You get the idea.

 

I ordered a drink called ‘The Prickly Pear’. I don’t usually do fruity drinks but the name reminded me of Baloo the bear and simpler, happier times… T ordered a pink martini.

 

Stage two: one upping that culminates in peak bitch.

“The toilet broke when the kids flushed a teddy bear.”

“Mine flushed the cat.”

“I hate my job.”

“I wish I had a job to hate.”

“My youngest has a potty mouth.”

“My youngest has Tourette’s.”

“Lucky bastard.”

“Where the hell is the calamari?”

“Screw it. You should try the Pear.”

 

She does. We decide it is the superior drink.

 

Stage three: Alcohol induced silver lining.

“The thing about husbands is they’re men.”

“Yep, they can’t help themselves.”

“School started again.”

“Thank God.”

“This salad is heavenly.”

“Low-cal?”

“Surely.”

“Busboy, on your six!”

“He’s yummy.”

“Yeah. Probably gay as well but I bet he’s smart enough to know his tip is tied to our good time.”

Then we spend a moment or two trying not to look like dirty old ladies. At least, that’s what I was doing. T has a lot more class.

 

Stage four: Riding the wave

“This is, hands down, the best girl’s night ever.”

“Yep.”

“Wouldn’t change a thing.”

“Nope.”

“Dessert?”

“Maybe another Pear?”

 

Three hours, and one Pear short of “tiny bubbles”, later the restaurant closed. We left, not quite ready to call it a night, but revitalized enough to face the chaos that surely awaited us at home.

Miraculously, our houses were still standing. Not only that, the kids were fed, pajamed and tucked in!

OMG. It was the mommy version of a kitchen pass!

“Glass of wine?”

“Your bottle or mine?”

A short while later our night crossed over from tension reliever to the kind of fun that ensures a very unpleasant next morning.

But we didn’t care.

By then, our husbands were superheroes! Our children gifted! We were beautiful and charming and our lives so enviable EVERYONE wanted to be us. In fact everything that came out of our mouths that night was of such brilliance I was certain I had a years worth of genius blog fodder.

Somewhere between the Malbec and falling asleep in my cloths, I even took notes.

 

Yes, I woke to a hangover but it wasn’t anything my post bitch euphoria couldn’t handle. I floated around all morning on billowing clouds of ‘good time had by all’. Ahhh.

Plus I totally knew what my blog was going to be about. Snap!

Then I found my notes.

Mowgli's idea of funny

Crap.

Instead of pages of witty banter I’d written only two words:

Peanut butter and oil

??

Well, at least the Pears were good.

 

 

 

PS. Thanks to T’s clarity Friday, I now know that “Peanut butter and oil’ referred to the time we met a guy in Russia who worked for an oil company and had a pallet full of peanut butter in his apartment. If that sounds like an amusing tale AT ALL, please let me know.

 

PPS, to save the innocent (and our marriages) the details of the bitch session are entirely fictional. No actual cats were flushed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donna Reed Crisis #57 (OR: why I didn’t blog yesterday)

I had a great weekend, really, see the photo. Saturday my phone broke and that was a bummer, but at the same time I was sated in fabulous weather, friends and beer, so it didn’t totally ruin the mood.

Then came Monday. Why is it always Monday?

It started simply enough: coffee, shower, typing the first few lines of a blog on how WONDERFUL life is…

the blogger as a beer commercial

Then I remembered Mowgli’s grandmother was coming to dinner. Not that her visit would cause anxiety. Grandma is wonderful, loving and complimentary. Still, she is the family matriarch and deserving of all the respect and a clean house, behaved children and impeccable meal, display. Therefore the “to do list”: the list of all that needed to be accomplished to guarantee Grandma was received in the manner she so deserves. And even that was no great cause for alarm. It was a short list and there was plenty of time.

Hmmmm…except there was all that laundry. We’d been camping all weekend. The laundry room overflowed. And, thanks to a recent remodel, our laundry room is doorless. Filthy smelly clothing inched into the hall.

Add to list: wash cloths. At least the stinky ones and enough of them so that the rest will fit into the hamper.

 

First thing to do was get into town for supplies. The fridge was bare and serving food at a dinner party, (they say) is kind of essential.

Oh, and there was my broken phone. Yes, that phone, my smart phone (see previous posts). Those things are like heroin. One taste and you are hopelessly addicted. By Monday I was missing it pretty bad.

So, Add to list: cell store. Didn’t really have time for that, but smart phone withdrawal symptoms are wicked. I was worried I’d hurt somebody.

 

I didn’t even make it to the car before, Brrrrrrummmble!!! Men in yellow hats followed by lots of heavy equipment arrived and set up shop on our tiny, dead end street. Whaaa? Remember that French drain that hasn’t drained properly since Oh, early 2003? We’re fixing it today and while we’re here, choking off the entry to your driveway. We’ll let you out but not until you ask and we move two dump trucks and a back hoe out of the way. Awesome.

But, I am not complaining. Thank you, thank you MOA for fixing it. Finally. It’s been eight years. Waiting one more day was out of the question. ?

Departure to town attempt #2. This time I left checking the clock. Yes still enough time. What’s that Mowgli? The guest list changed? Along with Grandma expect Cousin, Uncle and Uncle’s girlfriend who we are not entirely sure even likes us? Right about then, stress. Just a little.

The AT&T store was packed (when is it not?). I went anyway (I had no phone!) and when it was finally my turn who did I get? The trainee. Thankfully he was sandwiched between two experienced clerks. With the help of those two (when they could spare a moment), the warranty guy on the phone, and me (no, the battery goes in this way. Yes, I am an authorized user on the account, look here…) we got… nowhere.

Result: an hour gone, cell still broken and added to my to-do list is instructions from warranty guy to plug my phone into a home computer then call them back for more help. Again, not something I really have time for, but MY SMART PHONE IS NOT WORKING!!

At the grocery store I ran in to a girlfriend I’d been meaning to phone. Since phoning was no longer possible, I felt compelled to stop and chat.  And, spent more time doing that than intended. Next chance I got to view the time was at the check out. Yikes! Better move faster…

 

After weaving through the maze of giant diesels in front of our house, I plug in my phone and used Mowgli’s phone to call warranty while simultaneously putting away groceries, prepping dinner and making a late lunch for my starving children. (They’re not pleasant when they are hungry and we were having people over. Important people.)

Then I remembered I forgot to take the fish out of the freezer.

Outside: digging in full swing. Inside: warranty gal on hold, computer downloading a program that will (fingers crossed) fix my phone, PB&J sandwiches almost assembled and a fish brick in the sink under running water trying to rapid thaw. Oh and I still need to vacuum… What time is it??

Then I remembered I forgot to buy wine. Full on stress now.

I explain the situation to warranty gal who is incredibly understanding and lets me hang up on her. Fifteen minutes later I’m staring at rows of wine trying desperately to remember which one Uncle’s girlfriend drinks (see what happens when you have no phone? You have to remember stuff). Then I cry to the liquor store guy about my day so far and how convinced I am that this will be the worst dinner party EVER. I’m a chatterer, it’s what I do. That and I am inspired to explain to everyone within visual range why I’m filling a grocery cart with booze on a Monday afternoon.

That’s when the liquor store guy morphs into Gandhi and says the most sage thing I have ever heard from a guy who peddles alcohol:

“Usually when you think thing are going to be great, they suck and when you think they are going to be horrible, they’re awesome.”

Ah so wise. At least now I can be positive about harboring negative thoughts.

 

I race back. Zipping from the laundry to the vacuum cleaner and back again, I snap at everyone. The kids hide. Mowgli comes home and I tie him to the computer and repairing my phone. Thirty minutes later, nothing. Warranty gal’s program doesn’t work. The fish is still frozen and it suddenly occurs to me we don’t own enough chairs. That’s when the internal discussion begins: exactly how early is too early for a martini?

 

Guess what? The liquor guy was right.

Grandma, Uncle, Cousin and Uncle’s girlfriend arrived an hour later than we thought giving me copiousness amounts of time to finish my list. MOA repaired the drain and cleared the road before then too. The children were entertaining, the fish was perfect and I picked out the correct wine for Uncle’s girlfriend, who, it turns out DOES like us! The evening was wonderful.

 

But this is the best part. The icing on the cake. The thing that will have me smiling for the rest of the month…

Ten minutes ago all on his own, Mowgli fixed my phone.