Friday, May 17, 2019

Cork Poppers Go South of the Border!

It's time to go South of the Border with Cork Poppers and check out some wines from South America. (Actually, our theme included wines from Mexico but no one could find one!) We gathered at Bob's house with wine and food in hand for a delicious and tasty tasting day!

Our first wine was from Roger, a Lolea Frizzante White Sangria, No. 2. Comments ranged from "It smells great" to "I can see why this is a summer beach wine.

Many of us thought it was too sweet, though it was a sangria and super cold would indeed be tasty on a beach. I thought it was too sweet for just sipping a glass of wine but on a hot day at the lake, I'd like it! Anne called it "Very tasty" and Bob said "I think it is very good," but I think many of us agreed with Roger who said, "I was first attracted to the bottle." Cost: $15.99 at World Market.

Cheryl was next with a Gouguenheim Valle Escondido Torrontes 2016, a white wine from the Mendoza Valley in Argentina. This was a nice and quite dry white. Kate called it "The red wine drinker's white." Cheryl, our white wine fan, said she didn't "enjoy it as much as I hoped to." Cost: $16 at Vine and Brew, a local wine store.

At this time, hostess Heather, Bob's daughter, said, "I'm a cheap wine drinker" and then said, "I have to behave." Mike M. reassured her. "Only for about a half hour or so."

Bob was up next with a Long Country 2018 Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. This one the budget price of the day -- $5 at Meijer stores. Cheryl, Mike S. and I liked this one better than the white before us (at $16!). Barb and Kate liked the second wine better.

In any event, it makes for an excellent Neti pot and sinus cleaner, which I discovered when I was laughing so hard -- well, you get the idea.

Dick offered our first red -- Echeverria Family Wines' Gran Reserve Syrah 2014 from Chile. This group was named as Chile's Producer of the Year and the description described it as as "deep red with violet gleams." None of us knew what violet gleams were and in any event, most of us heard it as "violent greens," which was equaly confusing.

Rick said, "I might get addicted to it," and Bob added "Even if you don't like red, you'd like this." Heather said she liked "any wine you don't have to pay for" but Kate smelled "new cars and plastic" when she sipped it. It was a little light for me. $15 at the local Vine and Brew.

Kate was up next with Colome Vineyard Autentico Malbec 2017 from the Mendoza region of Argentina. Barb said, "It has a little barnyard in it," (referring to its earthy quality, not aroma). Kate and Barb agreed it had a gorgeous color and was very earthy with a lot of body. This one was $24.85 at Vine and Brew.

Around this time Barb realized that the towel Dick was using to pour looked like a Rorschach test and decided it was a man walking an English setter.

Clayton offered a Cantina Malbec 2016 from Argendina's Mendozea by Bodea y Vinedos Cardena. It's a high mountain wine and he found it at Meijer stores but I forgot to write down the price. Barb called it "soft" and I thought it more fruity than the one before. Clayton said it had notes of "leather and cinnamon" which Barb heard as "liver and cinnamon." Kate said that at this point, she was past intelligent comment.

This and the one before it were both malbecs. I thought the first one would be better with food, this one for just enjoying a glass of wine.

Barb and Mike offered up a Pirca 2015 Carmenere from Vina Marty in Chile. This was $10.

My notes say "Buy this now!" I thought it was very good and Kate said, "I love it! I love this!" It also smelled wonderful and I called it my favorite so far. And yes, it would be delish with a cheese toastie and a bag of Doritos.

Rick was last with Serie Riberas Gran Reserva Carmenere 2017 from Chile. This cost $20 at Tiffany wine shop in Kalamazoo.

This one was quite good too. Indeed, there was none left in the bottle as it was passed around after the first tasting. To be honest, I didn't really have a preference between this Carmenere and the one before -- they were slightly different but both good.

Well, after all that merriment, it was time to hang out and chat, and eventually move upstairs for dinner! Bob and Heather had made wonderful floral table decorations for our South of the Border theme!

I loved these!

And the food was to die for. There were tacos, beans, rice, two wonderful salads, a Topopo and a taco salad.

All this was topped off by Meredith's fabulous Mexican Chocolate Cake and tons of equally delicious conversation!

It was like being in a field of beautiful flowers with your friends taking all the time in the world to just enjoy one another's company.

Because really, that's what it's all about!

If you enjoy wine and want to check out some of the other Cork Popper tastings, check the tab on the menu at the top of this page. Wines are organized by category and theme.

Sharing with:  Follow the Yellow Brick Home    /  Best of the Weekend    /    Pink Saturday    

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

A Spring Walk and a Resting Place

No one can say that going to a memorial service for a loved and respected friend is "fun" but when Rick and I headed to Southwestern Michigan for a final farewell to Rick's godmother's husband, we managed to have some fun along the way.

We stopped in Kalamazoo to spend the night before with friends and enjoyed wonderful conversation and a delicious dinner out at a wonderful Middle Eastern restaurant called Zooroona. And on the way home, we took the scenic route.

We've had some wretched weather, loads of rain. But this day was sunny, if cold. Our first stop was through the cute town of South Haven.

It was fun to see open water and seagulls again.

And equally fun to see boats already in their harbor spots, just waiting for good sailing weather.

We cruised through other small towns and ended up at a spot on Michigan's Kal-Haven Trail, for which Rick was responsible for getting built in the 1980s. It is a long bike and hiking trail, stretching from Kalamazoo to South Haven, Michigan. And, it's the spot Rick has chosen for his final resting place.

It was a perfect day for a walk on the trail, even if it was a slow one.

Fiddlehead ferns were out in force.

I loved their wonderful shapes.

We had visited this spot a few years ago, in winter.

It's totally different in the spring.

The trees were flowering and they were so delicate and pretty.

A bee found its pollen supply in full force in a bright dandelion.

It was simply beautiful.

I can see why Rick would like to be "spread out" here one day in the future.

The way-far-out future.

Sharing with:   Let's Keep in Touch     /    Best of the Weekend    /    Pink Saturday    

Monday, May 13, 2019

Mural Monday: England: Portobello Road 2

Today for Mural Monday over at Sami's Colourful World we return to Portobello Road Market in London.

I say reach for the stars!

Or for Mona Lisa, at least! Mae, this one is for you!

Sharing today with:  Sami's Colorful World's Mural Monday    

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Mums and Grannies

I really never thought I'd be a grandmother because I was pretty darned sure I wouldn't be a mother. And that was OK with me. And then I met Rick who shared his two boys and time flew. Before I knew it, there were two Baby Grands to love!

I don't know how Molly does it. She has a very stressful and responsible job. She may well love what she does and be very good at it, but it can still eat your lunch. For the past two years, while Kevin was in grad school on weekends, working days and doing homework in the evenings, I think Molly did a good deal of the heavy lifting. (Especially the Little Little Guy!). I'm worn out after an afternoon!

It makes me think about my own mom and grandmothers. The other day, I saw Harry and Meghan introduce their little baby to the world at Windsor Castle, cameras clicking in the background. I suspect my mom had the same feeling showing me off when they returned home from the hospital!

After all, I was a pretty big deal in her life, all six pounds, four ounces of me. The war had made my mom and dad part of the group that was "older parents." She was 33, my dad 35 when I was born. These days that's more common but when I was in school, my parents were often the oldest in my class. In fact, my mother would have been 100 earlier this month, had she lived so long. Many of my friends still have both parents, well into their 80s, perhaps, but going strong. But age didn't stop her from being a "room mother" and Brownie troop leader or engaging in multiple volunteer activities. Her energy was indefatigable.

One thing I discovered as I was doing my family genealogy is that I come from a long line of working women. And I don't mean just working in the home as a mother. That's hard enough. But out working for pay, making their own way.

I know little about my great grandmother, Angeline, apart from the fact that her mother died when she was quite young and that she raised six children on a Mennonite farm in Michigan, dying when my grandfather was only five. That was farming in the 1880s when everything was by hand. Could I have done it? I guess you do what you have to do. But it wasn't easy.

I don't know what brought Elizabeth Grainger, my second great grandmother, from Wales to London in the 1800s but I do know that after she married and emigrated to the United States in 1855 with her husband, Stephen, she was listed on census documents as "huckster." I'm assuming that meant that she was a clerk or salesperson, although I'm not sure if that's the case (it wouldn't be now!). Nor do I know if her daughter, Bessie (also Elizabeth and my great grandmother) worked, since the city directories list only a working "Elizabeth" and it could be either.

But when Bessie married William Wood, after a number of years they moved from Buffalo to Michigan and Bessie was a big part of the grocery store and market the two owned together.

And I know that Bessie and William Wood's daughter, Minnie, did indeed have a job, working as a clerk in my grandfather's insurance agency, where they met. After they married In 1912, her clerking days were over as she raised four daughters, a son who died at age seven and two babies who died shortly after birth.

With a family like that, Minnie would probably tell you that her work never stopped; it just changed.

Minnie passed many gifts down to her daughters. My mother clearly received her crafting and art gene, which has most certainly come down to me. But like her mother and grandmother before her, Mom was also a working woman of the 1930s and '40s. She and her sisters were the first in the family who went to college. Mom was a teacher for many years (in fact, when I was in college I did an internship at the same school where she taught elementary thirty-something years before!) Then during the war she worked for Capitol Airlines. After, she managed a dress shop. I did not inherit the fashion gene from her.

Of my other grandmother, Ellen, I know little despite spending countless hours with her when I was a child.

She had been a teacher, that I knew, moving from her birthplace in Wisconsin to Montana (and how she met my grandfather, I have no idea!). After their marriage they had a bakery in the small town of Webberville for several years until it was destroyed by fire.

I spent many afternoons with her on the farm she and my grandfather had. There was plenty of corn, berry, bean and tomato picking to do. And when that was done, it was time to bake. Grandma always made her own bread (I didn't get that gene, either -- but fortunately, Rick makes up for that!). And she made wonderful peanut butter cookies. Molasses, too. Pies that couldn't quit. I still remember the root cellar under their farmhouse, dark and dank with a large cistern. Jars of jam, pickles, and fruits and veggies, carefully but efficiently canned on hot summer days lined the walls.

She loved her garden and flowers, too. Enormous peony and bleeding heart bushes. When I see bleeding hearts, I think first of Grandma.

I haven't often thought back on that "working girl" part of my lineage. Instead, I've thought of kind, lovely women who clearly adored their families and those I knew certainly loved me to bits. But I never thought of the struggles.

The struggle of leaving your homeland and family and making the journey to America as an immigrant in the mid-1800s; of being in the cramped quarters of steerage with three small children.

Source: Norway

I didn't think about learning to live in a new land, probably under-employed, hoping for a better life for your daughter.

I didn't think about what it would be like for a woman in turn-of-the-century Michigan to have a job in an insurance office, walking the eight or so blocks to her office, rain or shine, four seasons, in a long dress, coat and hat, long hair piled high.

Nor had I thought about what it would be like to be a young married couple who started a new business and then saw that business burn to the ground. How do you start over in 1919? I wish I knew. You just do.

Though I spent a good deal of time at the farm, I never thought about what it would be like to be working that farm in all seasons, canning the produce, planting, weeding. It wasn't a working farm in that only small amounts of things were sold, usually berries, sometimes corn. But there was still a lot of land to manage. And the food they grew helped sustain them during the winter and especially during the Depression. How did she do it?

The struggles, the era, the conveniences that make our lives easier -- these weren't part of my grandparents or great grandparents' lives. I can connect to my mother's story because in many ways it wasn't all that different than mine.  But then again, I can only try to understand what it would be like to know you were dying when your daughter wasn't even quite 25 yet. So much life to live you'd never see.

I know that I will never have the status of "official" grandmother that Molly's and Kevin's mothers have. But I do know that I plan to give this little guy...

...and this one...

...all the love they deserve and as many experiences as we can.

And to all moms and grans -- especially this beautiful and pretty remarkable woman who has her hands full every single day and never ceases to amaze me -- I say it with extra feeling.

Happy Mother's Day.

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