Random Writings and Photos

random

Archive for the ‘wine’ Category

Another Month Begins; Not Bored Yet!

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 6, 2017

Last month wasn’t very busy. I was paid to work as a background actor on the TV series Graves, just once, and I worked a few hours on a local independent film for no pay. I only hiked three times. I took a weekend acting class. I had an audition – no word on that. There was a shareholder’s meeting, at the 21-year-old winery I have been working at for the last seven years, to try to figure out what to do next after the death of our founder. I had a CT SCAN/angiogram on my heart with a fancy new machine that looked like a giant metal donut. I left a bit woozy from the drug and the scan. I saw my new heart doctor for the results, and I had a pre-exam for my upcoming annual health checkup. The culmination of July was an acting gig for a 48-Hour Movie project, which is part of an international competition among people who make a short movie in 48 hours from start to finish, including all editing, and that led to two events in August.

Director

That’s me (in hat, sunglasses, scarf) as a fake director for the movie within the movie

So August started rolling right away on the 1st, with a day at the winery netting grapes to keep the birds from eating them. We’re keeping the winery going for now. Anyone want to buy a winery? I think that’ll happen soon. I got the see the 48-Hour movie we made on Thursday August 3rd, along with 13 other shorts, out of 41 total. I decided to celebrate with my fellow Group A participants at local brewery Sidetrack, getting a shrimp po’ boy to eat from Crazy Daves’ food truck outside (to balance the two pints of heavy beer). Since the second group of short movies (Group B) finished while we were there, a few of us wandered over to Boese Brothers Brewery nearby for their after party, and I had another beer. A late night, and it cost quite a few bucks, but it was fun.

CCG movie 2017

The Casting Coffee Group who made the movie

Saturday the 5th, there was a meeting of group I’m part of that made the 48-Hour movie. We’re certain we’ve won several awards, but we won’t know until August 18.

After that, I went to the 11th Annual Gala of the Guerrilla Photo Group, a wonderful collection of photographers, models and makeup people, who not only improved my photography skills, but introduced me to the local movie-making scene. There were lots of friends there, a dozen sexy models, lots of photos to view and to vote on as a favorite. My favorite was of a wonderfully sexy teacher/poet with a book centered firmly between her thighs, but it was already sold.

Had another beer at the Albuquerque Press Club’s bar, so I also visited the Pink Ladies’ food truck for a fantastic carne adovada burrito.

Today it was back to Sunday Chatter, the weekly Sunday morning music concert. This one was not as wildly fantastic as the last one I wrote about, but it was nice. A husband and wife duo played music for cello and guitar that they had rearranged from traditional presentations. An orchestral piece by Gabriel Fauré still sounded damn good for just cello and guitar. Four of Johann Sebastian Bach’s works for harpsichord were recreated by having the guitar play the notes for one hand, and the cello play the notes for the other hand. (No. 8 in F Major, No. 10 in G Major, No. 6 in E Major, and No. 13 in A Minor). Fun!

There followed a piece from Oliver Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time”, but of course, only performed on two instruments. And there was “Allegretto Comodo” by Radames Gnattali, and “Reflexoes No. 6” by Jaime Zenamon. The duo is called Boyd Meets Girl, and they’ve just released a CD of their arrangements.

Boyd-Metcalf

Laura Metcalf and Rupert Boyd

There was some great cornbread too: blue corn meal, corn, cheese, and chile, blue corn two pieces of which I scarfed down with my freshly espressed caffè americanoamericano

25 days still to go in the month of August!

Doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning, and a movie audition in the afternoon. More netting of grapes at the winery on Tuesday, and another shareholder’s meeting next Sunday. Hopefully I’ll have news of our 7-minute movie being wildly successful on the 18th. But, for now, the rest of the calendar for August is empty.

 

 

Posted in coffee, food, friends, In front of the camera, Life, medical, music, My Life, photography, wine | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Jim Fish, Renaissance Man

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on June 6, 2017

 

042411 (16)   KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Found out that Jim Fish died last evening. Collapsed up on a mountain where he’d been hiking, but I’m sure glad he was able to have that experience as one of his last.  His nephew was also with him, and they were good buddies.

Jim Fish was originally from a ranch in Texas, and loved his horses, and the outdoors. He was also a retired chemical engineer, had once worked for the Sandia National Laboratories on nuclear safety. He was concerned about the destruction possible with a core meltdown, and came up a way to reinforce nuclear plants so they wouldn’t melt into the ground, but his superiors didn’t want to implement the solution, due to cost concerns. Jim took an early retirement from the labs.

He lived in Placitas, New Mexico. After retirement, not knowing exactly what he was going to do, he one day looked around the village, and lamented the waste of fruit, like apricots, plums and peaches, that grow in profusion all over Placitas and don’t get used. He decided to try making wine from those fruits. Over the years he made wine from all the fruits that grow in this part of the country, including a few grapes, and he even made wine from cranberries he had to buy from Ocean Spray, because they sure as hell don’t grow around here. It was, as he often said, “A hobby that got out of control.” He eventually built a structure and opened a winery to share these wines with people. He never got rich. In fact, the early retirement from Sandia labs meant his retirement pay was delayed until just a few years back. Jim turned 68 a few days ago.

Jim loved to ski, and in fact, had skied this past winter, despite a bad knee resulting from an injury a little while back. He got a brace for his knee, and skied, he said, the best days he ever had in his life with that brace on. Besides writing books on hiking and the local geology, he recently self-published a book on skiing, titled Dancing The Snow, (A Guide to Skiing for Old Men). It is full of detailed descriptions of trails, techniques, tips, photos and anecdotes. He also wrote poetry all the time, and published a number of poetry books. Poetry occurred often at the winery. There were poets who came from all over as part of the Duende Poetry series, and poetry continued after that series ended. Jim also carved and polished old pieces of “found” wood into fantastic sculptures mounted on large stones and rocks. His sculptures appear all over the winery, and quite a few homes.

While the wines are numerous and often fantastic, like the Wild Cherry wine, and Chokecherry wine, and Synaesthesia – a three-grape wine – the winery hosted many events besides poetry. Belly dancing is a regular event. Food-wine-pairing dinners is another, as well as wildlife presentations, and community meetings, and political events. Placitas is a very old village, yet still very small. There is one church and one school. There are no stores or gas stations in the old village. The Spanish moved in centuries ago, but Native Americans lived there for thousands of years, growing corn, and hunting, as is evidenced by the petroglyphs: designs etched into rocks found all over Placitas, featuring corn stalks, and animals of all types, like cougars and turkeys. In the Southwestern USA, the original inhabitants are known to their modern-day descendents as the Anasazi, or “the ones who went before.” So Jim called his winery: Anasazi Fields Winery.

Jim was a friend to all he met. He encouraged young people to work at the winery, and hoped one day to turn it over to a younger group. Then he would just sit and watch and drink old wines. Jim loved his wines, and found ways to improve them using old European techniques of slow, cool, sugar-starved fermentation, without fertilizers, chemicals or preservatives. In fact, using the whole fruit as part of the fermentation, he found that the fruits’ natural preservatives and antioxidants kept the wines good for three weeks or longer after a bottle was opened! (Even longer if kept in a dark and cool place).

Some of the wines that have survived from the early days, in 1995, 1996, etc. have cellared very well, and it’s always a treat to open one of those. It is difficult to keep wines around there long, as they sell very well, even when Jim had to raise prices to keep the winery in operation. He has a special wine, that one I mentioned called Synaesthesia, that ended up selling for $125/bottle, and no matter what the price, it always sold out. Fortunately, most of the fruit wines are priced far lower than that! Sounds like Jim would have gotten rich, but there are few grapes growing here, and late frosts, birds, wasps, and even bears took their share of those. He always said that he made a grape wine just to prove to his fellow vintners that he could. In fact, using grapes from other vintners, and his own techniques, Jim was able to make those wines taste even better. He liked that a lot.

There’s so much I could tell you about Jim Fish. He was an amazing man. Much of the wine sold was sold through his personal attention to customers, and through the stories he’d tell. He loved to talk about the wines, and skiing, and trails and mountains. He loved to introduce people to the fruit wines, and see their reactions when they paired something like an old tawny-colored and intense apricot wine with venison, or salmon, or blackened tuna. I was amazed to see how much fruitier the wine seemed, and how much better meat or cheese tastes with a complementary wine.

I don’t know what will happen to the winery now. We’ve all learned a lot about winemaking, and we have a lot of stock, so I’d imagine we’ll stay in business, for now. There are around four-dozen partners who have invested time or money into the winery; perhaps they’ll want to sell it. That was always the long-range goal. It won’t be the same without Jim Fish, without that boundless enthusiasm of his, his optimism, and his stories. Perhaps, in his memory, we’ll be able to keep it going.

I met my step-daughter Maya and her friend Jennifer today near the village, at the Placitas Cafe down the road towards I-25. They both had worked at the winery, helping to bottle, label, and sell the wines. When they found out about Jim’s death, they were thrown for a loop, so they drove out there from Albuquerque. We sat for hours talking about Jim, with tears in our eyes, and sadness in our hearts. We tried to focus on Jim’s friendliness and great heart, and not be sad, but it is too soon. I can barely write about him without an overarching melancholia. I have too few friends and family that I care about so much, and losing someone like Jim is gut wrenching. You never know how much you care about someone until they’re near death or gone.

So, I keep trying to say good bye to Jim in this post, but I can hardly type. I know I’ll feel better in a while. After all, Jim Fish made me smile, and I always enjoyed making wine with him. He was passionate about his life, whether it was winemaking, hiking, camping, hunting, wood-carving, or poetry. When I found my ownself retired, divorced, and aimless, Mr. Fish added some hard work to my life, giving me a new-found appreciation for wine-making, farming, a caring kind of entrepreneurship, and friendship.

 

Posted in friends, Life, opinion, wine | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

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. An old girlfriend actually lived in this same housing complex when I moved in ten years ago. We often met at the mailbox kiosk. Once I met her walking her dog along the ditch that runs just behind these houses, and went to a mutual friend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. It was nice. Next time I saw she she gave me a big smile, but we never hung out. She taught at a technical/vocational community college, and she worked at the nearby bookstore, so I often saw her there. But, I didn’t feel any sparks. I remembered that the sex had been nice. We attended another Thanksgiving dinner the next year, but then not again. She eventually quit the bookstore, and moved away, though I did visit her in her new place a couple times.

Not too long ago, 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, sharing meals, watching movies, and even having drinking games during movies. The pleasure of snuggling up with her between bouts of sex 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 other 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, followed up by drugs. 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 and down my favorite trail, an elevation gain of roughly 2800 feet.041717 Panoramic

It was slow going, about 1 1/2 miles an hour, but 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 echo-cardiogram 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 »

Loquacious after Two Beers

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 6, 2016

040616 (5)

So yesterday I helped filter 300 gallons of cranberry wine, but I fucked up, because, of the three square filters we use to pump wine through, I managed to turn the 3rd one 90° so the holes didn’t line up, so even though it seemed like everything was fine, only about 2/3 of the wine got really filtered, and we only discovered that when we tried to filter a small batch of wine with lots of sediment, and the higher pressure punched a hole in the filter and so today I had to refilter that whole 300 gallons of wine into one tank and then pump it out into the two tanks eight of us will use to bottle that wine and three other batches of wine on Saturday. And Sunday my step daughter and I will label some of that wine.

So when I got home there was a message from the background casting company. Because of a bad weather prediction for Friday, the shoot for the episode of the TV show I was to be in the background for was moved up to Thursday, and if that was OK, “…could I come in right away for a costume fitting?” And of course I said, “yes,” but before I went to the studio I stopped by Ramona’s house to pick up my hiking cap that I’d left there, because we usually watch movies together on Wednesday nights, but not tonight, so then I dropped off a book I had borrowed from a photographer who sponsers a teaching/learning photography group on Wednesdays called Guerrilla Photo Group, and then I went to the movie studio, and found out that the shoot was postponed until Friday anyway, but I had already told the vintner at the winery that I couldn’t work Friday, and then emailed him that I could work Friday because the shooting had changed to Thursday.

So I usually hike in the mountains on Thursdays, but I decided to go to Tractor Brewing Company’s tap room for Poetry and Beer night, and I had two strong beers: an oatmeal stout and a Farmer’s Tan Red, and an “asian style” chicken sandwich with sriracha mayo from the food truck outside. So now I don’t have acting work for tomorrow, and I could hike, but I really just want to sleep. I don’t want to set an alarm for early in the morning again. I don’t want to think about anything tomorrow. I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything.

But, of course, I have a part in a horror film and I have about nine pages of dialogue and rambling monologue to commit to memory by April 24, and I’m not quite there yet, and I probably shouldn’t be doing so many things, but I’m “retired” so what else should I be doing? I don’t want to just sit on my ass. Sometimes it seems like all I do is sit on my ass, but this week reminds me that I really don’t. ass

Posted in Life, My Life, Random Thoughts, rants, wine | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

An Explosion of Blackberry Wine

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on May 16, 2014

IMG_0160 I feel like this is my last night on Earth. Almost one year ago I had a heart attack – on that day, I felt doom, oddly like the end of the world, or at least my world. I honestly felt like my life was finished, like I was going to die. If I hadn’t gotten myself to the heart hospital, I’d have been dead – so they say. At the hospital, I was shown an echocardiogram of my heart. The main right artery was nearly completely blocked. Only a trickle of blood was making it past the clot. The doctor convinced me that I needed balloon angioplasty, where they would break up the blockage with the balloon-tipped catheter and leave a stent in place. I asked about options. He said I could undergo drug therapy, but he didn’t recommend it. He seemed amused that I was unconvinced that angioplasty was my best option. I said to go ahead. They decided to insert the catheter via my arm, instead of my groin, after they shaved both areas. My groin may not have been the best choice since I hadn’t showered since the morning of the day before. They asked my if I’d taken Viagra. I had, on Saturday night – it had been a nice night of sex with a woman I knew at the time. It was then Monday. They probably thought I’d not showered since then. In actuality, I’d showered on Sunday morning, but masturbated Monday, that very morning, and washed up, but had not had time to take a full shower. I had had to rush off to pick my stepdaughter up and get her to work on time.
I felt fine that morning, and, in fact, donated a pint of blood after I’d dropped my stepdaughter off. My blood pressure was OK, and my pulse steady, and all seemed fine; my cholesterol levels have always been good. They told me to go eat a big breakfast. Taking them up on that, I stopped at a breakfast buffet. I had a pile of bacon, a little bit of scrambled eggs, some carne adovada, a small waffle, some fruit and coffee. I felt great. I went home and relaxed, played around on my computer: checking the status of things I had for sale on eBay, reading email, looking at my blogs on WordPress. I picked up a book and read for a while. It was then that I felt the weird pressure in my chest that wouldn’t go away and kept getting worse. Nothing I did helped. The feeling of doom crept in. Death. An ending. It’s over. All that went through my mind. No pain. No numbness. No nausea. Nothing but the most unusual sense of impending doom, and the pressure in my chest. I survived.
No heart attack now. I’m off most of the medications. I’m supposed to keep taking aspirin every day for the rest of my life. I’m still taking a statin drug to keep my cholesterol down. It’s lower than it’s ever been in my life. I also take a drug to fight off acid reflux. It helps. However, I don’t feel like taking any more drugs. I checked my blood pressure the other day, and it was higher than it’s ever been in my entire life! Way higher. I never had a problem with hypertension before. I started training for a half-marathon shortly after the heart attack, and ran it in October: 13.1 miles in three hours. Slow, but I made it. I had never run before. I’ve been running since, but not lately – I’ve had too many conflicts, what with work at a winery, and being on a movie set, and hiking sometimes in the mountain. Somehow I am busy, even five years after I retired from my day job. All is well.
Psychologically? I don’t know. I came back from visiting a friend who just had cancer surgery a few days ago. She had her thyroid removed, and her parathyroid relocated. We visited a bit, and she said she was tired, and wanted to nap. I left, but later saw that she was on Facebook, and at dinner with friends. She hadn’t mentioned that. I’d offered to take her out, or pick something up, but she’d said no. Well, that felt odd.
Watched a movie tonight: The Secret LIfe of Walter Mitty. Great movie. Easy to identify with the main character. Just before it ended I heard a muffled explosion from my kitchen. I was engrossed in the movie and didn’t want to get up. But then, I heard the sound of water running, and dripping, and I had no idea what it could be. I paused to see what the hell it was, and discovered my kitchen cabinet leaking. A bottle of Blackberry wine that came from the winery I work at, but had been opened by my stepdaughter, and recorked, had exploded and was pouring out over the countertop. She hadn’t liked it, and had given it to me. I grabbed some towels to mop it up, left them in place and watched the rest of the movie. Since then I’ve cleaned up a little, taken most everything out of two shelves and wiped up all the wine. I still need to wash it out. My whole house smells like wine now. It’s past time I should be in bed. I need to get up in 5 hours to drive to Santa Fé to work with the film crew. It’s the last day, day 13 of filming. It is a Sci Fi TV pilot. Whether or not it will ever be seen by anyone but ourselves, I can’t say. It’s an excellent concept, and everyone has worked hard. Very low-budget. Most of us worked for free. As extras and crew we’re not paid (except coffee, donuts, fruit, cheese, water and pizza). The actors are paid, although not much.
It feels like the end to me. Running through my head is the idea I can’t shake: that this is my last night ever, that tomorrow is my last day, ever. I don’t know why. I’m being melodramatic. I’m foolish. I know better, but not much inspires me to write anymore. This does. What if this is my last night?

Posted in depression, Life, medical, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts, wine | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

And, Suddenly, a Heart Attack

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on June 8, 2013

Sandia view I hike in the mountains, nearly every week. Sometimes its a three to four-hour jaunt, sometimes six hours, with a lunch break. The elevation gain can be 1000 feet or 2000. I’ve done much harder hikes in the past, but found that I was having too much trouble keeping up with the other hikers. Instead of getting stronger with more stamina over time, I was having a hard time finishing 12 mile hikes up and down a mountain trail at all. So, I began hiking with a Meetup group, hiking just the three or four hours at a leisurely pace. I tried snowshoeing to the peak of one mountain, Mt. Taylor trail Mt. Taylor, at 11,301 feet. I had hiked it on two prior occasions, and snowshoed it once before, but didn’t make it that day. I had to stop to catch my breath a few times. Once I leaned against a tree and felt like I could fall asleep right there, standing up. I fell so far behind that the hike leader, tired of coming back to look for me and unwilling to wait for me in temperatures near zero degrees F (he was not warmly-enough dressed), relayed a message to me that I was to turn around. I had never failed to complete a hike before, so that was upsetting. I knew I could get to the top, but just needed more time. The hike leader had also cancelled our scheduled lunch break at the top, which is when I felt I could have caught up to them. I missed the wonderful sluicing through the deep powder on the back side of that climb. Well, so  it goes. However, on the way home by car, I had trouble breathing. My chest actually hurt upon taking a deep breath. That was very troubling. Back home, I saw my doctor and he said I had exercise asthma, and prescribed an inhaler. I used it a few times before hikes, and had no trouble. However, on several hikes with rapid elevation gain, I had felt strange and weak when we stopped for lunch.

Then, last Sunday, while puttering around a winery I help out at, I felt the same strangeness, more like a tightening of my chest or pressure on my chest. I had only been cleaning up, putting equipment away, and climbing up and down a short ramp when I felt it overtake me. I sat down in a chair with a  glass of cranberry wine and relaxed. I felt better after a short while, so I finished my duties and went home. At home I was comfortable and relaxed and slept well. The next day, however, was far different.

In the morning I awoke early, had coffee, and picked my step-daughter up from her home, dropping her off at her job. She doesn’t drive, due to a problem with her peripheral vision, so I take her to and from work most days. This day I also had a blood donation appointment, so I went there after dropping her off. The blood donation went well – no unusual blood pressure, pulse normal. Afterwards I stopped at a breakfast buffet, JBz and for $6.49 had bacon, sausage, eggs smothered in red chile, a bit of carne adovada (pork marinated in red chile), small slices of french toast, and fruit – hey, the blood place said to eat a big breakfast, so I did. I dropped off a package at Fed-X for my step-daughter and went home. It was a slow day after that. I messed around at the computer: reading news, checking blogs, Facebook, eBay, an art site (Deviant Art), and then sat down to quietly read a book.  In mid-afternoon, however, I felt that strange pressure in my chest. I used my asthma inhaler, but to no effect. I took two aspirin. I stretched out on my bed for a bit, but without improvement. I felt odd, perhaps a little anxious. I was sweating, so I turned on the evaporative cooler. I went back to reading. I still felt that something was wrong, and I still felt hot. I increased blower speed on the cooler. I began to worry. It was getting late, after 4pm, so I wasn’t sure if I could get to the clinic my doctor worked at before it closed. Suddenly I decided I was going to go anyway. Enough uncertainty! I had to find out what was wrong; I might even be having heart problems. I decided not to take the motorcycle, opting instead for four wheels, should I become weak or unsteady. However, I changed my mind as I was backing the car up, and went back in. Something was wrong and I was getting worse fast. I called 911.

It didn’t take the EMT guys long to get to my house, as the firehouse was less than two miles away, but they had to search for my house in this compound so I got up and flagged ’em down. They came in, asked questions, took vitals and decided I should go to the hospital. An ambulance had arrived after they came in their firetruck. By this time I was sweating profusely, felt weaker, and didn’t mind lying on their gurney. I’m not sure it was a good idea to attempt an IV while the ambulance was bouncing over the speed humps, but I got to the hospital OK. They sent me to the cardiac lab, and five or six guys went to work, taking pictures, repeating vitals and finally deciding that I was, indeed, having a heart attack. There were options, like drug therapy, but the best idea presented was to do an angioplasty, where they run an inflatable device up an artery into my heart to open the artery there. X-rays had shown that the artery was indeed almost completely blocked by a clot. Heart before

I agreed, so the team went ahead. I felt a pain after they began. I said “Ouch!” just as somoene was sticking a needle in me, and he apologized, but it was the sudden sharp pain in my heart that had gotten my attention. The pain increased, but, miraculously, as they worked and the catheter reached my heart, the pain subsided; the pressure that had been building stopped, and I felt great! They had used the balloon-like device on the end of the catheter to ream out my artery, Heart after and then released a stainless-steel tube from there that expanded to fit to the walls of the artery. It’s called a stent. stent It’s an odd, meshed device. To me, it resembles those old Chinese finger puzzles, but on a much reduced scale. The stent will remain with me now. Stent 2 I must take a drug for one year to prevent my body from rejecting the stent. Ha! I wish I only had to take one drug. I must also take aspirin, a small 81 mg dose, every day. I am taking a drug to lower my blood pressure, even though my pressure is normal. I am taking a statin drug to lower my cholesterol even though my cholesterol is not high. I am taking a drug to block blood platelets from sticking together and forming clots. I am taking a drug to lower the acid in my stomach. And I am taking a drug that lowers my heart rate, reducing strain on my heart, which was only minimally damaged in all this.

In short, I survived, and in good shape. I’m certain I do not need all of these drugs. My blood pressure is now lower than ever, at about 118 over 70, as I just measured. I already eat fairly well, so my cholesterol is not dangerous, but I welcome the assistance of the drug, for now. I think some of the others are a bit too much, as I would like to be as drug-free as possible. One drug can be interfered with by fish-oil supplements, which are in my daily multivitamins already. If the fish oil has the same effect, I don’t know why I can’t just take that instead of a drug.

Ah, well. I’m lucky to be alive, and damn lucky to have had that cardiac team work on me. They worked very quickly, efficiently and smoothly, each one performing certain vital tasks, and being watchful of changes in my status. Without them, I wouldn’t have survived. I need to take them some wine.

I received lots of messages from friends and family, and my step-daughter visited me while I was confined to the hospital for two days. My friend, who is “not a girlfriend”, declined to visit me in the hospital because, as she put it, “…hospitals freak me all the fuck out…”, but she said she wanted to see me to verify that I was alive. We went to a movie and had dinner Friday afternoon. Life goes on.

Posted in health, hiking, medical, My Life, wine | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Going To Mars, Wine, Wine

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on March 2, 2012

MARCH 2, 2012

        

As much as I’d like to go to Mars, and work in a habitat, it’s not likely; the earliest populated mission to Mars is in 2037.  However, I have applied to the Cornell/University of Hawaii Mars Analogue Mission and Food Study. Applications are now closed, and about 700 people applied; only eight will participate. It’s a 120-day Mars exploration analogue mission that will take place in early 2013 on the big island of Hawaii. I’m psyched! Actually, studies of the effects of living in an enclosed environment for long periods of time have already been done. Between 2007 and 2011, a crew of volunteers lived and worked in a mock-up spacecraft. The final stage of the Mars-500 experiment, which was intended to simulate a 520-day manned mission, was conducted by a crew consisting of three Russians, a Frenchman, an Italian and a Chinese citizen. The experiment helped plan the mission, identifying possible problems and solutions. The mock-up facility simulated the Earth-Mars shuttle spacecraft, the ascent-decent craft, and the martian surface. Volunteer crew used in the three stages included professionals with experience in fields such as engineering, medicine, biology, and spaceflight. There have been many other similar studies and more underway, in Antarctica, Europe, Russia, China and Australia.

520 days! Holy crap! That includes a round-trip flight time of between 400 to 450 days. What will we do in space that long? I’m trying to imagine what 120 days in isolation will be like, and that’s only in a contained environment on Hawaii. However, the habitat part of this mission doesn’t involve psychological effects or exploration. It’s all about the food!  People on long missions typically eat only prepackaged meals, or concentrates. No matter how tasty the food, a type of fatigue sets in, a food monotony, and astronauts not only lose interest in the food, but also eating meals altogether. Additionally, prepackaged meals contribute more weight to a mission already starved for mass. Every bit of mass taken on a spaceflight must be boosted into orbit, at tremendous cost with limited storage space. There are other problems: prepackaged meals have a shorter storage life than the individual ingredients. Moreover, all of the crew members have scientific and exploratory goals, and time spent in food preparation and cleanup is time lost to research.

I think this type is thinking is short-sighted. I know exploring Mars will be exciting. I know the prospect of living on another planet will be exciting. I also know that there is such a thing as job fatigue. One cannot spend all of one’s time on the mission. I don’t mean just that all work and no play makes the Mars explorer dull. I mean that everyone needs a break from their own work. I propose that each member of the crew take turns preparing meals and cleaning up, say one day a week for each person. Perhaps one day a week, assuming there is a six-member crew, be a non-cooking day. The crew could simply eat prepackaged meals on that day, and everyone gets a break.

I’m sure that the experience of preparing meals will benefit every member of the crew. There will be the benefit of eating freshly prepared foods. There had better be a small array of spices! Salt, pepper, red chile powder, garlic powder, onion flakes, maybe some packaged shallots, and other spices as crew members might suggest. Nothing helps break the monotony like different spices; and dried powders are very light. Will there be cooking oil, I wonder?  How about some sesame oil and chile oil too? Certainly some oil is a necessary part of our diet. Instant butter! Mmm.

One thing I’d recommend: high fat, great tasting food.  One does not get fat or malnourished by eating good foods. One gets fat or malnourished by eating too little or too much food. Period. These programs might be making the mistake of assuming all the food must be low-fat, low-salt and low-sugar. No, my friends, I don’t think so. If portion size is strictly controlled, one can have snacks and deserts and still maintain a healthy diet and weight. I’m sure the calorie-intake needs of each person can be measured, and such a group of dedicated explorers, knowing how limited their food supplies are, will adhere to strict guidelines for food consumption. There should be enough leeway to allow for the occasional party, with some special food and drink.

What will these intrepid explores drink by the way? Water is extremely heavy to ship into space. In an ideal situation, the Mars explorers will find ice or other trapped water on, or close to the surface. But we do not live by water alone. I’m sure there are some powdered drinks to break up the monotony. Coffee, PLEASE! But you know what makes digestion go better, and livens up the entire eating experience? Wine! How’s that for an idea?  I know a lot about wine, particularly food-pairing. I am a partner in the Anasazi Fields Winery in Placitas, New Mexico. We pair our fruit wines with a wide variety of foods. Apricot wine goes extremely well with fatty fish and aged cheese, for example. Cranberry wine goes quite well with roast chicken, turkey and mild cheeses. I’m not just talking about a connoisseur’s point of view. I find that certain foods, like venison, soft and/or aged cheeses, for example, bring out intense fruit flavors in wine. The wine itself alters the palate so that the food itself is more flavorful. How about that, mission control? Can we have wine with our meals? We need it. Can wine be freeze-dried and retain its alcohol and flavor? I don’t know. Alcohol is usually the first thing to go when dehydrating liquids. The alcohol would sublimate from even frozen wine. I don’t know how to solve this problem, but I’m telling you all right now: if you want those souls trapped in a hostile environment to always enjoy their meals, they will need wine. Put it in individual lightweight boxes, like those ubiquitous boxed fruit drinks. Put it in small bags. Put it in anything lightweight, but bring it!

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

MARCH 3, 2012 – Walking to Mars (Mars reached the closest point to the Sun in its orbit)

On Wednesday, February 29, after I had sent my application off the night before, I went hiking into the Sandia Mountains. Short hike; just fours miles up and back the Domingo Baca trail. The entire time I kept thinking that I need to get in better shape. I still have to pass a Class 2 flight physical. Of the 700+ people who applied for this mission, 30 will be selected and notified to get the physical. I expect the physical will help prune that number down to the remaining eight. We still don’t know when we will hear anything. In the meantime, I need to keep walking. Today, March 3, I went on another 4-mile hike, but climbed 1200 feet in elevation in one hour! My hiking group hiked to the Eye of the Sandias. It was painted in the 1960s, refreshed in the 1990s and it looked as if it had been touched up within the last two years as well. The Eye looks out at Albuquerque, monitoring its growth, according to legend. It was a good hike. We started at about 7200 feet and climbed to 8400 feet to take a break at the Eye. I took some photos and we went on back down. I suspect I’m going to have to increase the number of hikes I go on, and get back to those 9 to 12 mile hikes I was going on two years ago. Time to get this old body back into shape, and I’d better hurry. I’d hate to be selected and fail the flight physical. Anyway, here are some pics from today. Some are looking out across Albuquerque to Mount Taylor, some 90 miles away. Other shots show my hiking companions, the Eye itself, and parts of the trail. One shot shows I-40 snaking eastward though Tijeras canyon, even as we were able to view Albuquerque and Mt. Taylor. It really is a good place for an eye.

As viewed from the Sandias, 90 miles away.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

MARCH 5, 2012 – News & Information

Finally, some information: “The selection panel is currently going through the applications to determine a short-list of candidates, who will then be asked to get an aviation medical exam (at our cost), and to provide references. We expect to be able to inform you whether or not you are on the short-list by the end of March.” Good to know.

In case some of you are wondering why the hell the Mars mission itself is important, there is this:

http://www.npr.org/2012/02/27/147351252/space-chronicles-why-exploring-space-still-matters

Exploring space, especially the planets around us, IS important to our future, not only for our nation, but for the survival of our planet.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

MARCH 7, 2012 – It’s a not-in-Kansas-anymore twister! 

Half a mile high! Image from the high-resolution camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. More info: http://bitly.com/zNeD5P

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

MARCH 9, 2012 – posted on HI-SEAS:

“As we go through the applications, we are blown away by the caliber and the passion of the applicants. You all are amazing.”

Of course! 🙂

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

MARCH 12, 2012 – The Case For Space

Please read this article: The Case For Space

 In it, the author makes a logical, but also very compelling pitch for the United States to go to Mars sooner, not later, and to revamp its space program now. A hazy “commitment” to Mars sometime in the late 2030s is not going to keep us on track. President Obama said that the Apollo program “produced technologies that have improved kidney dialysis and water purification systems; sensors to test for hazardous gases; energy-saving building materials; and fire-resistant fabrics used by firefighters and soldiers. And more broadly, the enormous investment of that era — in science and technology, in education and research funding — produced a great outpouring of curiosity and creativity, the benefits of which have been incalculable.” Of course, according to author Neil deGrasse Tyson, there is much more to that list of revolutionary spinoff technologies, including digital imaging, implantable pacemakers, collision-avoidance systems on aircraft, precision LASIK eye surgery, and global positioning satellites. Even in troubled economic times, the author states, the United States is a sufficiently wealthy nation to embrace an investment in its own future in a way that would drive the economy, the country’s collective ambitions, and, above all, the dreams of coming generations; in 1969 the United States went to the moon while fighting two wars — one cold, one hot — during the most turbulent decade in American history since the Civil War.

Imagine the excitement when NASA, bolstered by a fully funded long-term plan, starts to select the first astronauts to walk on Mars. Right now, those science-savvy future explorers are in middle school. As they become celebrities whom others seek to emulate, the United States will once again witness how space ambitions can shape the destiny of nations.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

MARCH 28, 2012

No news yet; just this post from HI-SEAS:

“We expect to have an update for applicants next week. Thank you for your patience as we give your applications the attention they deserve.”

I’m patient, but next week seems so far away now. 🙂

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

APRIL 7, 2012 NEWS!

Received this today:

Thank you for your interest in the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and
Simulation. As you may know, we received almost 700 applications for
this mission, for only six crew positions. Because of this huge
response, we have had to add one more stage to the process (as
originally described in the call for participation). At this point, you
are one of the candidates for a potential
education/journalism/outreach/art/social-media position on the crew.
However, we will have to narrow the total pool down further before
moving on to interviews, references and medicals. We expect to be able
to notify the ~30 crew semi-finalists by mid-April.

This must be what waiting for a launch window is like: “end of March”, “next week”, and now “mid-April”. I’m pretty damn excited! I feel like a kid waiting for a holiday.

APRIL 20, 2012 Final News

My last message from HI-SEAS:

“Dear HI-SEAS Applicant,
Thank you again for your interest in the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog
and Simulation. I am sorry to inform you that you have not been selected
for the interview stage of the application process. We had a very large
number of highly qualified applicants, and it was extremely difficult to
narrow the pool down.
We expect to be able to run further HI-SEAS missions, so even if you
will not participate as a crewmember this time, we will keep you on file
for future opportunities. If you would like us to delete your
application from our files, let us know.
Thanks again for your application, and for your commitment to human
space exploration.”

Oh, well, and my hopes were so high. This was the first thing I’ve been excited about in years.

Posted in coffee, current events, health, Mars, opinion, space, spices, Travel, wine | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
angelalimaq

food, travel and musings of a TV presenter.

Sabiscuit's Catalog

I can't eat biscuits, but I have a better idea ...

Crumble Cult

By Tony Single

Southern Georgia Bunny

Adventures of an Southern Bunny everything from dating, sex, life and shake your head moments.

A Narcissist Writes Letters, To Himself

A Hopefully Formerly Depressed Human Vows To Practice Self-Approval

Katrina K Guarascio

Katrina K Guarascio

Amanda Rudd's Blog

fantasy/scifi writer, crazed academic, and unrepentant geek

Midnight, Texas

www.lathamcasting.com

Something Like a Storybook

from Morgan Bradham

CONTRARY BRIN

Speculations on the Future: Science, Technology and Society

UNDER

CONSTRUCTION

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.