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Archive for April, 2017

I was wrong about wine most of my life

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 24, 2017

I decided to respond to a Quora question:”What have you assumed was exaggerated until you experienced it?” since I’ve been working in a winery for seven years, cleaning ditches, weeding, picking fruit, fermenting fruit, pumping, filtering, bottling, labeling and selling wine. I wrote:

Well, lots of things, really, throughout my whole life, but I’m going to just focus on wine. Most of us, especially when young, make fun of all that wine tasting stuff, like swirling the glass, or sniffing the “bouquet”, and can’t figure out what wine goes with what food, often resorting to anyone else’s recommendation, but always feeling like it doesn’t really make any difference: wine is wine. I thought the whole thing was made up or grossly exaggerated. Which is not to say there really aren’t posers who do not know what they are talking about, or try to impress, regardless of how much or little they actually know.

Anyway, I found out many things when I began working at a winery, and actually making wine, and not just grape wine, but wine made from cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, apples, blackberries, raspberries, and even cranberries, among many others. Only wine grapes don’t need any additions of sugar to ferment, having a high enough sugar content to make a strong alcoholic beverage. But, by adding sugar, slowly, incrementally, to fruit, any fruit, you can make damn fine wines too.

I say this because I would not have learned as much from a few grape wines as I have from fruit wines. Yes, it does make a big – a huge difference – what wine you have with your meal. If you’re just drinking wine to get drunk, or impress people, it doesn’t matter much what you drink. Fruit juice with distilled alcohol will do.

However, one of the first things I learned is that wines to be paired with food need to be dry, that is, without sugar. If all the sugar is converted to alcohol, you get a very superior wine. It can take quite a while to do that, but it’s worth it. Drinking a sweet wine coats your tongue with sugar and makes tasting anything else difficult: the fine flavors of food can be masked by sugar. And, dry doesn’t mean bland or high in alcohol content; dry table wines can be very fruity and complex with layers of flavors.

But, even drinking dry wines with food takes a little bit of consideration. A very light-tasting food needs a light-tasting wine. White wine with chicken or fish, sure, but not if the chicken is heavily spiced, or the fish is something like salmon. But, a strong grape wine, like a cabernet sauvignon, will completely overpower the taste of some milder foods. Drink them with red meats like buffalo, for sure.

Very strong-flavored foods need a strong-flavored wine. A rich-tasting wine will complement the salmon you’re eating, neither taking away the flavor of the food, nor being overpowered by it. In our winery we have an apricot wine, served by itself or blended with a white grape wine, that we use for things like salmon, blackened tuna, or aged cheeses. For really strong, pungent cheese, we recommend that or a 100% peach wine.

When it comes to spicy food, we recommend a red grape wine blended with wild cherry wine, the pure wild cherry wine itself, or plum wines. The plum is particularly great with curried foods.

For meats that same red wine/ wild cherry wine mix works great, or other all-fruit wines we blend.

Now, none of this is to convert you to fruit wines other than grapes. There are some really great grape wines. It is just to illustrate the point that you have to experiment with wines to see what foods they complement. (I used to only drink whites like chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, sémillon or pinot grigio. Now I can finally appreciate red wines, even cabs.) I hated the intense pure apricot wine until I tried it with venison; suddenly the apricot flavor jumped out at me, and the heavy gaminess of the meat was toned down. I don’t like blue cheese, or any of the moldy-looking strong cheeses, but I tried them with this powerful peach wine, and suddenly I could appreciate the flavor of the cheeses, and the wine. This happens at some level with all wines. If you can’t taste the wine after a few bites of your food, or if you can’t taste your food after a few sips of wine, it’s not the best experience.

Another thing I learned is that the whole point of wine, from the very beginning of The Grapes of Wine viticulture, was to accompany food. It can heighten the flavors in your food, making the meal a real joy, which makes you feel pretty good, compliment the chef, and smile. As long as you don’t overindulge in the dinner wine, you will be able to enjoy your wine and your food, and not actually feel drunk. Drink some water too along with your meal. The water and the wine help your digestion. Sweet wine? – after your meal. And maybe have it with a little dessert too, yeah?

 

Posted in food, My Life, Random Thoughts, wine | Leave a Comment »

Musings on Unclaimed Relationships & Utter Things

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 19, 2017

I read some poetry today that reminded me how so many people feel sad because someone they loved is gone, either through the end of a relationship or death. That is sad indeed, although an old relationships can often be rekindled, even though at a certain point in time it doesn’t seem possible. People seem to not know that, or ignore it, or conveniently forget it.

I don’t forget it. Sometimes that has happened to me. I remember how terrible it felt at times, but I no longer feel that way, about the relationships, or the two marriages, or my father’s death, or even my godfather’s death, although I still miss my favorite cat ever, and even though I accepted that he was dead, I suspect he is still alive, having seen what I’m pretty sure was that cat, with a new collar and tag a few miles from here.

I can’t go get the cat, even if I could find him, because I have a new cat, and another cat besides, and the fighting would be bad, and three cats is just too much. I am deeply saddened by not having that cat around, and knowing that with some effort, I might be able to reclaim him. But, that is somewhat like what this post is actually about: unclaimed relationships, not with cats, but with people.

I live alone, save for the cats. It could be otherwise. An old girlfriend from many years ago ended up single, and available for friendship or living together. And even though I used to think that I would jump at that, I don’t want to. For one thing, she is quite batty, with a house overrun by cats, and sometimes a dog or two, and bizarre off-the-deep-end beliefs which she will force on anyone and everyone, but also because I like living alone.

She is not the only woman I’ve met since my last divorce. A much younger woman gave me a couple of years of extreme pleasure, but insisted I not fall in love with her because we were friends only, with benefits. I was a bit sad about that, because I would certainly have married her, and not just for the sex, although that would have been a pretty compelling reason, but because she and I enjoyed each other’s company, and the pleasure of snuggling up with her was heavenly. She finally moved away. Contacted her and she wanted me to visit, but then changed her mind. Such is life.

I wasn’t as sad about that as I’ve been about other relationships, because she warned me from the first to not fall in love with her, and would get quite upset if she thought I was drifting that way. So, it never came as a shock, nor depressed me beyond my normal state of living life a bit less than to the fullest.

It’s not like I don’t still meet women. Being involved with the TV & movie industry in New Mexico, both in front of a camera, and behind the scenes, I meet a lot of woman, and there are possibilities there. But I don’t pursue them. There’s something about leaving things as they are that suits me. Beside the acting and crew work, I hike the mountains around here. I read a lot. I eat what I want, sleep when I want, watch TV or not watch TV. I’ve a friend I watch Netflix rental movies with once a week.

I work at a winery,

040616 (4) 072810 (8) watering, weeding, picking fruit, pumping and filtering, bottling and labeling about a thousand or more gallons of fruit wine every year. I don’t make any money at it, but it sure keeps some of my “free” time occupied.

I buy lots of things online, mostly books, and graphic novels, and I resell them. (Terry’s Books) I have a diverse coin collection:

I also take photos of the landscape around here, and sometimes I sell one, in a shop, or by hanging them at the winery.  091616-147

IRS I owe the I.R.S. way too much money every year, so I think I’m doing my part to prop up the U.S. economy.

But, let me tell you, it all doesn’t seem to mean much. It’s not that I think there’s more to life, or need a reason for life, or worry about the meaning of life. I don’t think life has much meaning, except what we each want it to mean. Sometimes though, I remember what it was like to share my everyday life with someone, sleep next to them each night, and wake up with them.

I do miss that, in somewhat the same way I miss my cat. Not the same thing of course. Even having cats leaves me feeling lonely and miserable at times.

Nowadays, I accept that I am just going to be living this way. It’s easier for a misanthrope to live alone. I suppose I don’t really dislike all people so much as I like being a recluse and not having to deal with other people.

And then again, sometimes I don’t think it matters, because I don’t expect to live all that much longer. I had a heart attack back in 2013. Before that happened, I was losing my ability to keep up with others hikers, some of whom were older than me. My energy was flagging, and I kept having to stop and catch my breath. I fell to the back position in any hike, and was wasted by the time I reached the mountaintop. Finally, one day while reading, I felt suddenly as though the world was ending, that everything was going black, and there was this intense pressure in my chest, and I called 911. The paramedics, and a cardiologist convinced me I was having a heart attack, and I had angioplasty with a stent emplacement. Things got better, I ran three half marathons, I got faster on hikes, and had more energy.

But, now I am starting to feel the energy fade again. I hiked on Monday 8.9 miles, about 6 hours, up my favorite trail.    041717 Panoramic           It was slow going, about 1 1/2 miles an hour, and I was beat when I was done. Felt wasted. Drank electrolytes on the way up, and a bottle of black tea on the way down, and had to drink two more bottles when I got home, just to have the energy to function. I’ve done this trail before, and I wasn’t that wasted. It was the same on another trail I hiked recently – wasted, sleepy, lethargic afterwards. I’m thinking the heart is not doing all that well. My cholesterol is the lowest it’s ever been, and my blood pressure has never been too high. I do have a visit with my cardiologist next month, and a stress test, so I’m curious what that will reveal.  Even simple exercise seems to tire me, just like before the 2013 heart attack.

I should write a poem, or a song:

I’m so sad and lonely

near my end of  time

there’s no one to miss me

and nothing left to live for.

O, o, o, I think I’ll die.

Set to music, it’d be alright, and entertaining. Of course, it’s been done so many times already. It’s the human condition, the poet’s theme, the singer’s shout, the hipster’s wail.

Meanwhile, I’m still here. A hike tomorrow morning, fruit to water Wild Cherry Farm.JPG on Friday, wine to sell on Sunday with my lovely stepdaughter, physical therapy for my aging back Tuesday morning, acting class Tuesday evening, background work for a TV crime series pilot (based on graphic novels) scalped next Wednesday. I’ve an acting gig to finish up. Then the stress echocardiogram next month, and a visit to the urologist, and a strange 5-day cruse with five of my six siblings, some in-laws, some nieces, a nephew, a couple of cousins and my mom, mostly to please her. Dream cruise for her, or I wouldn’t go. I’d rather not have that much interaction with people, even though I sometimes crave it.

Posted in family, health, hiking, In front of the camera, Life, love, madness, marriage, misanthropy, poem, rambling, rants, relationships, wine | Leave a Comment »

Easter: another Sunday, & Dialogue Beer

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 16, 2017

It was a good day to get out of bed. I was going to a great concert of chamber music. Big crowd for this one. I stood in line for 15-20 minutes to get my Americano (two shots of espresso with hot water added). Barely into it when the concert started. Great and unusual, modern/contemporary music by Magnus Gustaf Adolf Lindberg, a Finnish composer. As usual there was a break for poetry (this time by Ebony Isis Booth – who has a depth that sneaks up on you), and then we were treated to Brahms. No, this was not a lullaby; this was Johannes Brahms’ Trio in A minor, Op. 114 for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano, written on his 58th birthday. It had a fascinating power and, at the same time, loveliness to it. The musicians who play these Sunday morning concerts are highly skilled. It is such a treat to hear such music – often highly complex – performed so skillfully.

Now while the coffee is superb – the baristas rock! – there were fresh-baked goodies, like the biscotti, and also, as it was Easter: dark chocolate, jelly beans and M&Ms. But nearly everyone in the place went across the street afterwards to sample the beers at the new brewery there. dialogue Really good stuff. For a $5 donation to the concert series, we got to sample five beers, of our choice. It was hard to narrow my choices down to only five, but I enjoyed them. There was a food truck parked by the curb, and some great choices there. I settled on some ramen deviled eggs, mostly because I was like: “RAMEN deviled eggs? What?” Delicious. The uncooked ramen noodles added a crunchiness to the eggs I never knew I was missing.

Of course, as usual during these concerts, my mind tends to wander a bit. I was thinking that some people compose music note by note, based on what they think is creative, and some of that so-called modern music can be mentally interesting, but it lacks beauty beyond the purely mathematical. To me, all music must exhibit passion, or the performer must make it so. Then is it music. Well, at least it is the kind of music I want to listen to. I have no restrictions on the types of music I like. But music must have passion. It can be orchestral, chamber music, or solo instruments. I enjoy classic rock (Stones, Black Sabbath, Airplane, Creedence), a little pop, some country (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson) that is not formulaic and repetitive, and electronic music done well (Morton Subotnick, Philip Glass). I also like the energy of passionate salsa, flamenco, and tango. The Beatles and Bob Dylan gave me much to think about, and the songs could often mesmerize. I like blues, and jazz, etc.

But hell, my day was but half over. I went home and tried to get my New Mexico taxes done, but I couldn’t log in; the state’s website wouldn’t recognize my password, and I couldn’t get a new one because my email has changed and it only sent my request to change my password to my old address which I can no longer log into. So much for that. Maybe tomorrow I can get some help with that. Of course, I also have to finish my federal taxes. I filed it already, but I gave them the wrong routing number for the new savings account I had set up last year to use to pay my taxes. According to their website, I may have to wait seven or more days after filing in order to correct that little error.

Sigh. I just love paying late fees, don’t you?

Well, later I got to go hang out with my movie companion. I rent Netflix discs and we watch them on her nice TV about once a week. Tonight we watched: The End of the Tour, about “Rolling Stone” reporter David Lipsky and author David Foster Wallace. I thought it might be boring, but it was not! Lipsky accompanied Wallace on a five-day promotional tour. Wallace wrote a 1,079-page novel, Infinite JestInfinite Jest Wallace and while it didn’t contain anything earth-shakingly profound, he had a huge impact on the people who read it, like Lipsky. It is a highly acclaimed, but famously difficult book of fiction, which really just shows people what it is to be human. I like fiction. I may read it. Life is very real sometimes, too real at times, and much more enjoyable as fiction anyway, as I see it.

Bought some more of those great-tasting faux Oreos from Walgreens on my way home. Ate a third of them, which required two full glasses of milk. Did you know milk clears your palate so every bite tastes like the first bite? It has something to do with binding oils and fats on your tongue to cleanse your palatte between bites. There is also a fascinating and delicious interplay between all the chemicals in milk and cookies: emulsifiers, casein, methylbutanol, and tryptophan and other amino acids. Turns out that to get the sleep-inducing effects of tryptophan, you need a dose of carbohydrates. Not sleepy? Have some milk and carbs.

Well, that was my day.

Posted in coffee, fiction, Holidays, Life, My Life, poetry, rambling | Leave a Comment »

Another Enchanting Sunday Morning

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 9, 2017

So, I’m just drinking coffee this Sunday morning. I had wanted to listen to a live chamber music concert, (WA Mozart String Trio Fragment K. 562e, Divertimento for String Trio in E-flat K. 563) but it’s sold out. Got up at 6am after trying unsuccessfully to stay asleep. Had my usual half-caf Americano (one scoop decaf, one scoop regular, expressed with enough water for a large cup). Watched a John Cusack movie (Grosse Pointe Blank). Enjoyed it. Love watching a good actor work. Grosse Pointe Blank

Made another Americano, this time with two scoops of Death Wish coffee. It’s good stuff. Their marketing is that it is the strongest coffee in the world. First Americano I made from it yielded a night of richly detailed vivid dreams. Death Wish CoffeeI am more awake now. Maybe I’ll go run or work out. I’ve been getting physical therapy for the last few months for recurring back pain. Recurring? that’s an understatement. Every fucking morning. Well, it seems like every morning; sometimes I get a day off. But, when the pain is there, sleep is over; I have to get up and move around. Coffee helps.

Mild degenerative arthritis, according to an x-ray. Cause? Getting old. Fanfuckingtastic. Sometimes I don’t believe there’s anything mild about it.

Of course, driving 266 miles (roundtrip) yesterday to be in a movie didn’t help. I did have a lot of fun in the movie. I play an old sheriff in a strange horror movie.

SeeSaw 2a Not hard work, but the days can be long.

I like acting; it’s a real kick. I may or may not get paid for this role, but I’m learning every time I do this. I’ve gotten to where I can remember my lines much more easily, but it’s easy to get distracted by thinking too much about what I have to do. Yesterday, I got praise for putting my hand on my gun as I opened a door where there might be danger. I was fully in the moment, and grabbed my gun out of instinct. So, there might be a future in this stuff for me. Of course, in a later scene where I only had to pace, swear three times, write a note, and rush out of my office, I was concentrating so much on adding a few mutterings under my breath that I forgot to swear. Did it over OK, but I sure hate to fuck up like that. I’ve got one more scene left to do. Then I can concentrate on the other two projects I’m committed to. One of them, a movie based on a successful play, assuming we start filming, will pay, for certain. The other production, also horror, has shot a first episode for a TV pilot, but is still looking to get picked up, funded, etc. I don’t know if I’ll get to do the role I’ve been rehearsing, but one never knows in this business.

I sure would like to get a few projects wrapped, with my name on them, before I end up having another heart attack, or sliding the motorcycle under a truck. One never knows in life.

I could stand to get rid of this pain, so I could enjoy waking up. The therapists have given me some exercises and I bought a small portable electrode device that gives me an electrical massage, so I can get through the pain, but I would be damned happy if the pain would just stop. I gave up running after three half-marathons because of the pain. It was good for my heart, but the training was mostly good for giving me pain, and it was not making me stronger.

Well, anyway, I am grateful that I survived being hit by a car as a pedestrian, twice as a bicyclist, twice as a motorcyclist, and twice while driving a car. Survived a heart attack by being in the right place at the right time. Survived pneumonia, a ruptured appendix and sepsis as a child too. I’m a survivor. Whoopee. That’s nice. What I’m still hoping for is to accomplish something great in my life. It’s not to be remembered, because, hell, I’ll be dead, so I’ll never know about that. It’s more like I want something I can point to in my life, and say, “Yeah, I did that, and it was really something.”

Posted in coffee, In front of the camera, My Life, rambling | Leave a Comment »

 
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