Friday, September 21, 2007

Decisions, Decisions . . .

It was supposed to be a brief stop at the wine store to see if anything good and affordable was on sale (nope), but on my way out I was stopped by an elderly woman who asked if I knew anything about wine.

“Just a little,” I answered. “Do you need some help?”

“I wonder if you could help me pick out a chardonnay,” she said.

I know more about reds than I do whites, but she looked worried so I figured I’d give it a shot.

“I’ll try,” I said.

“One of the best lower-end chardonnays I ever had was a Santa Carolina Reserve from South America,” I said, leading her to the imports. “Let’s see if they have that.”

They didn’t.

I scanned the bottles. None looked promising, or even familiar. “Oh, there’s a 2001.”

“Is the year important?” the lady asked.

“It can be, but it’s hard to generalize,” I said. “Two thousand one was a good year for zinfandel, for instance, but I don’t know about chardonnay. Sometimes the older wines taste better than the more recent vintages, but . . .” I could see that I’d lost her.

“Is the year important?” she asked again.

“No,” I said, “it isn’t.”

“This is so hard,” she said. “So hard.”

“Really, it isn’t that bad.” I tried to reassure her. “It’s a bit of a roll of the dice, maybe, but you could end up with a nice surprise at your dinner table. Are you serving chicken? Fish?”

“No, I’m serving beef,” she said.


“If you spill red wine, that’s it.”

“Yeah, I guess it is.”

I spotted some special prices at the end of the row. “Let’s look down here,” I said.

I picked up a bottle. “This is a possibility.”

“What’s possible about it?” she asked, clutching her shopping cart with white knuckles.

“Well, it’s on sale.”

“I don’t know what to do. I just don’t know what to do.” She shook her head.

I decided she needed firm advice. “Buy this one,” I stated flatly.

“Why should I?” she demanded flatly.

Okey-dokey, a new approach was needed. I read from the label. “Monkey Bay (see the monkey?) . . . It’s from New Zealand, and New Zealand has produced some good wines. I predict that for $8.99 on sale, you can’t go wrong with this wine.”

“Oooh, this is terrible,” she said. “It’s so hard. I can’t choose. I can’t do this today. I’m going to have to come back tomorrow.”


“Or another day. I can’t make a decision in one day. It’s just too hard.” Although her hands still gripped the handle of her shopping cart, I could practically see them being wrung into a pulp.

I put the bottle back and rested one of my hands on her shoulder. “If I were you,” I said, looking into her eyes, “I would buy the Monkey Bay because it has a really cute label.”

She smiled.

I left the store, and I don’t know if she bought the wine.

But she smiled.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Gardening, Domino Style

For some reason, Amazon chose to give me a free subscription to Domino magazine. I'd never heard of it. (Maybe that was their reason.) I love magazines, but this one isn't for me. Their taste in home decor rarely matches mine, and even when it does (sort of), I couldn't possibly afford any of the stuff they feature.

In the September issue, the hand-carved divan is beautiful, but definitely does not belong in my house. That's good, actually, because it costs $7,000. Ditto the bright coral "cheeky" Louis XV desk for $5,160 and the "couch as confection" ($12,500).

I felt even more removed from the gardening section. I've been gardening for decades. Surely I can connect to their gardening pages. Not really.

I own some necessary gardening equipment, but not a lot of it. What's the point? You need to be able to dig and you need to be able to move stuff around. Some people spray. Other than that, gardening is basically you and the seeds, followed by you and the plants. Ah, but not according to Domino.

The September issue features a number of tools, beginning with an iron harvesting basket ($87). Iron?? Gardening doesn't require enough exertion without lugging around an iron basket? Once you've recovered from dragging your heads of broccoli to the porch in their iron container, you can pickup a bunch of lightweight wood cloches from France and cover your salad greens so they won't mature too quickly. (Can you do the same with your teenagers?) But don't pick up too many — each one costs $80.

The dollar store has some foam kneeling pads for a buck or two, but you'll feel ever so much more elegant on your leather kneeler ($85). For $310 you can be the proud owner of a rhubarb forcer. I'm not sure I'd want to force rhubarb, though. Did you know the leaves are poisonous? They are. That makes them dangerous. Trying to force rhubarb might be somewhat like trying to force the Sopranos to do something. Would you try to strong-arm the Sopranos? I didn't think so.

And finally, you might want a terra cotta jar in your garden. That is, if you don't mind spending $1,100 for something that's going to get muddy, knocked over by deer, peed on by the dog, and broken if you forget and leave it out during a freeze. Then again, you might not want it. I know I don't.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Recycling How-To

Recently somebody asked me for my recycling method. Here it is:

1. We pitch everything into a big, ugly blue crate outside the back door. Whatever we throw in usually bounces right back out. Depending on the weather, the time of day, and how my back is feeling, I may or may not pick it up off the grass and deposit it back into the crate.

2. When the crate is full I nag my son to empty it.

3. At some point it shows up empty.

4. My son naggingly reminds me that recycling collection is in two days. He tells me the recycling is bagged up in the shed and ready to go.

5. I drive my car over to the shed and discover that 50% of the recycling is inside bags that are way too dusty for me to put in my car. The other 50% hasn't made it into bags yet.

6. Depending on the weather, my mood, and what else I'd rather do, I may or may not go back to the house to get clean bags. If I do, I rebag, etc., until a) my car is full, or b) I get tired of doing it, whichever comes first.

I don't think my friend is planning to adopt my system.