Notes From All Over

The Massachusetts Farm Bureau (Did You Know We Had One?)
Keep Your Farmers Closer

Quick: I say 'Farm Bureau', and you think of...what? Iowa? Some state with rolling corn fields, big grain silos, and lots of red barns? At any rate, probably not Massachusetts. Right?

Lost in Translation (Why We Taste)
Dogs Sniffing

A computer was given the task of translating, from English to Russian and back to English, the phrase, 'The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.' What came back? 'The wine is good, but the meat is spoiled'. Or witness the tourist in Germany, who asked for a 'heisser hund'. It turns out that is NOT a hot dog, but a dog in heat. Lesson: a too-literal translation is rarely a good idea.

Free at Last....
Sean Spicer

"Ahhhhhh...." What was that? Personally, I think it was Sean Spicer exhaling. Because whatever your personal political leanings, I think we can all agree that serving as Donald Trump's White House Press Secretary pretty much defines the word 'challenging'. Trump is changeable, mercurial, and hard to track-on a good day. How on earth did a nice boy from Rhode Island-a Portsmouth Abbey grad!-end up between the White House press corps and Trump? Left: rock. Right: hard place.

Dog Days
Dog Days

Ebeneezer Scrooge "carried his own low temperature always about him...he iced his office in the dog days."
-Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

While the local weather has featured chill and rain, I just returned from the Dakotas, where one evening the local bank sign flashed, in quick succession: 7PM, 95 degrees. In the Dakotas, the Dog Days have arrived.

Passion & Affect
Passion & Affect

Laurie Colwin, author of two beloved food literature/ cookbook tomes, plus several novels and collections of short stories, is-hands-down- one of my all-time favorite writers. Her food writing makes me voraciously hungry, and inspires me to try nearly every recipe immediately. Her short stories (my favorite collection: Passion and Affect) are like little jewels; her novels are impossible to put down and have been the impetus for more than a few sleepless nights. She has a rare command of the English language, and her writing touches something in my soul.

You're Still the One
American Flag

"We're still having fun, and you're still the one."
-Orleans

While doing some-ahem-research* for this month's Wine Club (theme: Beach Reads) I found a book, Helen Simonson's The Summer Before the War, that plunged me deep into the bucolic English countryside immediately pre-WWI. This delightful book offers up a glimpse of a very different civilization, one where ladies wore hats and gloves, gentlemen were gentlemen, and nearly everyone had servants to handle disagreeable tasks like cleaning and cooking. Ah, for the good old days!

Redefining Success (aka F*** this S***)
Wine Horizon

Recently, I attended an absolutely killer wine tasting: near Boston Harbor, on a blue-sky day when the views seemed infinite and the sun warmed limbs and temperaments chilled by an extended 'spring'. Attendance was light; there were no hordes of young sommeliers seeking the hottest new trend. It was mostly a few old friends who have been in the wine business for decades. The wines, from a small California winery, were delicious, but since that was a previously acknowledged fact, nobody was making much of an effort to 'sell' them.

Welcome to the Land of the Misfit Toys
Welcome to the Land of the Misfit Toys

It was the best of wines; it was the worst of times. The Brunello was amazing; the deliveries were always late. The Syrah was stunning; it never came with an actual physical invoice. The Riesling was transcendent; I ordered two cases, but received one case, 5 bottles....plus six more bottles of a completely different vintage.

Happiness Here
Happiness Here

A June visit to CVS is rife with 'Happy Father's Day'. Cards, sure, but also mugs, plaques, T-shirts, keychains. Signs everywhere. It's become a cottage industry. But really-what's the perfect present for all the Dads we know and love? What would make Dad 'Happy', on Father's Day or any other day?

Gin Rummy
Gin Tub

If you think Gin was born in London or thereabouts, you're wrong. Gin, then called Genever, was invented in Holland in the early part of the 17th century. (Full disclosure: Williams is my married name; I was born a Van Vugt.) In this early form, it was distilled from whatever was near at hand-mostly cereal grains-and flavored with botanicals to mask its defects.

Pages