Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Search is Over

I am a girl who likes red wine. It has not always been the case. It took quite a long road to get to the place where I can consider that glass of "wonderful color and round rich palate" a friend not foe. I believe it all started when I was 19.

About a hundred years ago, in a faraway place called Florida the drinking age was 19. WooHoo! I was going to be 19...just 12 months...seemed like the longest 12 months ever. And please don't think for a second that I hadn't had an adult beverage before. Who hadn't gone to their parents coveted liquor cabinet and taken a little rum, and a little Jack, and a little gin and a little of this other clear liquid and put it all in a little bottle to be hidden away til the big football game on Friday, only to find that the girls who shared it with me only did so because they had already exhausted their own parents' cabinets? But I digress. Being the pretty much almost always goody goody two shoes (aside from the above mentioned transgression), and being a "rule follower" I was excited that I was about to be legally allowed to do something that up until this point I was not. December finally rolls around and at last, it is my birthday! I am 19. I am legal. Three days later, on January 1st, they changed the law and the legal drinking age went up to 21. Don't panic, I was "grandfathered" in. Phew!

I was working in a restaurant at the time but could only hostess up until this point because of that whole "age" thing, whatever! Now I was going to get my chance to waitress and make some real money. First requirement was to know the menu, inside and out, forward and backward. I would need to know the proper answer when some hungry Joe Schmoe and Mrs. Schmoe came and asked how is that Hawaian Chicken made? "Well, thank you for asking. That would be a chicken breast marinated for no shorter than 2 days in a slightly sweet teriyaki sauce, grilled to perfection placed lovingly on a bed of rice pilaf and topped with a grilled slice of pineapple. It comes with the salad bar and bread" and then I would make my subconscious yummy sound and smile as if that would be the convincing element should my lovely description of this $8.99 entree not be enough. Again, I digress. Let's just say, I had to know all about the meals and of course, the wines that would accompany them.

A Saturday morning meeting is called for an official "Wine Tasting". The restaurants Manager thought what better way to educate that have a professional come in and give us first hand knowledge. Sounds great! I'd go to this class then get cleaned up and go to my bestfriend's rehearsal dinner that night. What a nice day this would turn out to be.

I get to the restaurant with all the other waitstaff, most of whom have been on their feet carrying trays to hungry people for at least 19 years and probably knew all that they wanted to know about this wine or that, and would have rather been home sleeping in or taking care of grown up things on their morning off. I bop in all bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to learn. Maybe it was the bopping, or perhaps it was my youthful exuberance that set these otherwise nice people off. Who knows? For whatever the reason, my fellow wait-staffers watched me as I tasted each and every one of the 12 wines going from a dry table red all the way to a dessert wine and then SWALLOWED each sample. It seems that "wine tasting" is just that, you taste, you smell it, you swirl it, you roll it around in your mouth and across your tongue and then you spit it out. I did not get that memo. So here I am drinking all these different wines and to make matters worse it was on an empty stomach because as I said before I had that rehearsal dinner later that evening so I was watching my calories early in the day.

Can you say STUPID? I was stupid. My elders were stupid. Management was stupid. They let me out of there to get in my car and try to drive home. I say try to because all I remember is getting terribly sick and passing out in an Albertson's parking lot. Luckily, my ex-boyfriend's mom was shopping and took pity on my poor sorry soul. I know that on the inside she was saying "Ah Ha! I knew this girl was trouble!" but on the outside she was very gracious, at least that's how I remember it. She somehow got me to my mother's house safe and sound. (Thank you Joan.) Suffice it to say that after being thrown into a shower of hot, cold, hot, cold and throwing up a lot of icky stuff I did not die, I only wished I had.

Being the good friend that I was I still made it to my bff's rehearsal dinner, which was held in a smoky Elk's Club lounge with a live band playing just a few feet away, although I was still quite green around the gills. This had to be penance. No more bopping for me.

Eventually, I felt better however I could not go near all. In fact, I even stopped whining..ok, so maybe that's a little much....

So time went by with me drinking girlie Foo Foo drinks and boy Beer which were ok but they never quite appealed to me. There seemed to be something so classy, so romantic, so mature about drinking a glass of wine. Dare I try again? I tried White Zinfandel, it was alright but so light and still kind of silly, it seemed only one step up from Boone's Farm Strawberry wine. I tried Chardonnays, Pinot Grigio's and Reislings but I'm sorry...YUCK! Just couldn't wrap my tastebuds around the "crisp dry essence of pear, vanilla and cedar chips that lend to it's complex taste" or the too sweet Reislings. Still I pushed on until at last one day I won a raffle at my childrens' school where the prize included a bottle of Rosemount Shiraz, out of Australia. Hesitant to try, anticipating the all too familiar headache that often accompanied that glass of red, I poured my first glass of red wine. I looked at it. I swirled it. I sniffed it. Finally, I sipped it. And it was good. So I had another sip, and then another. "Richly textured with well defined, ripe blackberry flavors, soft generous tannins on the mid-palate and a long, rich finish" the label had read and although I am no expert I can say it was defnitely pleasing to my palate.

Waiting for the headache that never came, I realized that this was it! At last, I'd found my glass of wine.

Just a side note now, I am not nor have I ever been affiliated with any of the mentioned wines/wineries and it is with a clear conscience I offer up my recommendations. Please remember, I am one of those consumers who totally buy off of the look of the label and the description provided. The following are some of my favorites. Let me know what you think.

Jam Jar Shiraz - With tastes of fruit, berry, bottling, spices, fun, herbaceous, raspberry, bramble fruits. Read more:

Bohemian Highway - Spicy, blackberries, smooth, red, fruity, licorice. Read more:

Barefoot Wines (Any and All) - I find this label to be fun, fresh, cheerful and easy to go with almost everything. Considering I don't like whites as a rule, Barefoots Chardonnay is delicious, light and easy to drink and the Moscato is refreshing and sweet. Read more: spicy, nose, blackberries, color descriptors, smooth, red, fruity, licorice Read more: http://www/barefootwine. com

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer's End

Some people mark the end of summer with school starting. Others, by the cool crisp evening breezes that encourage you to snuggle up under an extra blanket. I have come to know the end of summer by bidding farewell to my friend Robert.

It seems a paradox that though summer seems long, it is also so short yet somehow, Robert and I can accomplish a lot in those short weeks between June 26th and August 16th, though it still doesn't seem long enough. I have watched as the sun has bleached his brown hair to blond and tanned his hide but good. I notice the changes that being up in God's country with fresh air and a spring fed lake and plenty of sunshine bring, especially to someone like Robert.

Robert is very bright and even a little charming. He is a builder, a hunter, a dreamer, a do-er. He is not afraid to speak his mind and he has a winning smile that is forever changing like him. He makes the long journey from Jacksonville Florida up to Wilson Lake in Acton Maine every year stopping along the way to visit relatives and have adventures. Often when I first see him, I am startled by how he has changed and yet, how he's still the Robert I know and love.

I like to cook for him as he is not afraid to show how he feels about what has been put in front of him, whether it's steak, which this year was a new favorite or the first batch of pancakes I made this year which turned out less than good. He has a filter but I love that he is free to share his feelings and insights and opinions.

This year was a particularly good year for Robert and I as I spent more time "up-ta" camp then I have in the past. It allowed more time for just the two of us. He has helped me to pick blueberries and has complimented each muffin I have made him, regardless of the fact that the blueberries outweigh the muffin batter by 2:1. We have caught frogs of all sizes and built fairy houses. We've tooled around in the paddle boat and floated effortlessly in the cool water of Wilson Lake. Always the hunter, he wore his mask to dive down and explore the lake below us and then up he would pop and share the secrets he found beneath the water's surface. He is also one of the best marshmallow roasters I have ever met and that's saying quite a lot since I am, myself, a roasted marshmallow officionado.

He has gifted me with all sorts of beautiful stones and rocks found on the way from his camp to ours and along the waters edge and has even helped me find just the right spot to "showcase" my gems. One year he brought me a pair of bright turquoise knock-off KEDs that he found at the free desk at the waste facility. He thought they were pretty and they were practically new and just knew they were for me. I didn't have the heart to tell him they were 2 sizes too big.

Robert comes up every year with his dad Ron and has a summer full of adventures before going home to do some more growing, learning, living. I've been watching him grow and change for the past 3 summers and can truly say that this boy is one special fella. He has already outgrown the first bike his dad got him up here and his swimming has improved so much that he is up to the "Guppy" level at the Y. But the little leather vest, tie dyed shirt and crocs he lives in, haven't been grown out of yet (although the jeans from earlier this year had gotten so small that they needed to have a duct tape belt to hold them shut). This year I was even able to see him outgrow some of his teeth.

I enjoy witnessing this beautiful child make his way through his small world, his small world that each day gets just a bit bigger. I like to think of the memories I hope I am helping this adventurer make of his summers spent up at the lake in Maine. Perhaps he will write a book one day and I will be mentioned as the lady who would play Monopoly with him or who had him over for his first sleep over away from his folks. Maybe he'll remember the day when we both saw the craziest Pig formed by the fluffy white clouds above us, at the same time.

I watched him yesterday as he gathered up his water guns, airplanes, frog bucket he left at my house. I asked him to keep in touch and he said he would. He knows how to Skype he reminded me.He walked down our dock and boarded his paddle boat with his mom and dad. They said good bye but I noticed my friend was uncharacteristically quiet.

My friend Robert left for Florida today. It must be fall.

Who Knew?

Who Knew?

If someone said three years ago......(fill in blank with something pertaining to you and your life)....
who knew?

For me....I would have to fill my blank with: Who knew three years ago that I would meet MY inspiration? I saw her across the bar....actually, I was in the dining part of this down home establishment and she was at the pool table...Black tank top, jeans a little too big held up with a worn thick leather belt and a pair of well-loved Rock Star boots (clearly a biker chick and I am so a wanna be....maybe she can tell me if the Harley Davidson Sportser really is too top heavy for a woman my size). She was holding her cue stick, planning her next shot against her invisible opponent. Of course I am intimidated who wouldn't be, but with a couple of ice cold glasses of courage (draft or bottle?), I muster the gumption to approach this tough lady and ask her about her bike....I hope she doesn't think I am a total goober. If my "perky little housewife from the burbs" capris and sandals don't give me pink and whites surely will.

In my head I hear her slightly put off voice patronizingly telling me to go on home....sit down with the hubby and settle in for a nice sleepy night of Dancing with the Stars with maybe an extra bonus of a repeat of Sex in the City. But no...I do not hesitate...."So you ride?" I ask, not waiting for a response..."what do you think about the Sportser?" I leave out the Harley Davidson part because EVERYONE knows it's implied....

She looks at me quizzingly as if she's been asked this question before and wonders if perhaps she's got a "Yes I AM a biker"sticker mistakenly thumb tacked to her forehead...and says in a voice better suited for a woodland nymph or fairy than a rough biker chick..."Oh, I don't ride..but I want to.."

What? What? No.....come on.....where's the gruffness....where's the edge? I mustered all my guts up for this? I look around...ok...surely this has to be an episode of "Punked" by Ashton. Gotchas! Just a wicked nice, should-be, could-be Biker chick who just hasn't gotten quite that far....who has no idea of what an impact she's made on this silly, lilly-arsed middle-aged mother of three.

It's only been two weeks since I've met my friend but it feels like I've known her for years. She's not only sweet but she is funny, loud, obnoxious and smart and as it turns out...she IS edgy. She swears like a pirate, can hold her liquor, doesn't swim but does walk on the wild side...and I do so love hearing the stories. What can I say? I am inspired. She makes me want to take chances and try to do things I've never done before, like write this blog.

Is it any good? I dunno. I don't think I even care. I am just taking a chance to put my voice into words and share them with who ever might accidentally stumble upon them. If this is the one and only or if it goes on for a bit...who knows? For now...I am inspired to step up and outside of myself and for this inspiration I thank my new friend. Thanks, You.