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Day 333 – They Say It’s Your Birthday…

no curfew

NOTE TO READERS–Today’s blog could be a little longer than usual…Reader Discretion is Advised! 😉

Birthdays are kind of funny.  When we’re kids, we can’t wait to have them.  It’s a badge of honor to be 5 and a HALF because we know that before too long we’ll turn 6!  We know that when you go from 12 to 13 you enter the ‘Twilight Zone’ called the teenage years!  We also know that as you get older, there is a certain mystic quality with each new level in life that has been ascertained. 

For example, we both have the SAME birthday. . .today as a matter of fact. . .and those of you who know us and read us–for the most part already know this–but for those who’ve been following this year. . .welcome to something cool and amazing. . .Jean and Brian have the same birthday.  Yep, same day, same year–heck, they were even baptized on the same day!  But, part of what has made this day so awesome over the past 30+ years has been sharing this day with others in our lives.  It all started back in 1989–the dreaded 30th Birthday!  The thoughts of being out of our 20’s and into our 30’s was daunting enough, but we decided to meet it head on!  Yep.  It was PARTY TIME!  So, we created Bondy Bash–an annual display of overindulgence on food, beverage and good times.  The first year was held at our rent house in St. Peters, Missouri.  The house had an above ground swimming pool; a basement and a fenced yard. . .other than that, well, it was a creaky, ugly house!  By the time we sent out invitations and heard back from friends, almost 60 people had told us they were planning on joining us!  We fired up the grill; iced down the keg; sliced up the watermelon and were ready for a king-sized birthday bash.  And it went really well until the weather moved in and forced us into the basement.  Fortunately we had the keg with us and all was right with the world.  Funny how that one event led to the next year and the next year and so on and so on!  The birthday bashes continued after the birth of daughter #1. . .thank goodness for friends!  The birthday bashes continued after the birth of daughter #2. . .that year, the rains had been so bad, the mosquitoes looked like 747s and the jello shots were plentiful!  After a move to a new neighborhood, the bashes continued until 1999. . .the BIG 4-0! 

This was going to be the last in a long history of bashes, and with family, neighbors and friends we celebrated long into the night.  It was an amazing way to celebrate-not only a birthday-but life in general.  By the next year, we were looking at moving back to Texas and the bashes came to an end.  Our kids had ‘grown up’ on these fun, amazing parties and for us, we’d grown to love and appreciate a bunch of terrific people who were part of our lives!  In the  ensuing time period from 1999 to 2009, a lot happened in our world.  Jobs took us from St. Charles, Missouri to Aransas Pass, Texas to Kerrville, Texas and when it was time to celebrate our 50th. . .well, we knew that there was only one way to do it RIGHT!  Yep, we brought back Bondy Bash. . .and introduced it to a whole new group of people who’d never known what it was like to party until 2 am. . .grill some bratwurst and burgers. . .sip on some really cold beer and hear the rants and raves from family and friends.  In short, the party was something that our friends still talk about to this day! 

Birthdays. . .they help us to stop and realize how much we really have in our lives.  For the both of us, we are BLESSED beyond belief and don’t think for a moment that we don’t appreciate it.  So, we needed a wine tonight that was out of the ordinary.  A wine that spoke of the independence that having milestone birthdays offers.  A wine that says, “I’m not beholden to anyone anymore!”  Tonight we opened a 2010 No Curfew Red Table Wine from California.  UH-YEAH, Curfew.  Before the 18th birthday, curfews were in effect in both of our houses.  To quote Mr. T, “I pity the fool. . .who misses curfew, BUT I’d like to party with those with NO CURFEW!”  Okay, he didn’t really say that, but it sounded good!  So, this wine is red. . .duh. . .and it’s got a lot of cranberry on the  nose and on the palate.  And, if you’re into cranberry, then you’re going to want this wine.  If not, you may want to try Ocean Spray instead!  There are hints of tobacco and leather. . .and as the wine opened up, we tasted a lot of black raspberries and currants.  According to their notes, “This wine opens with aromas of violets, blackberries and hints of spice, leading to gorgeously fruited layers of blackberry, cherry and blueberry with a dash of mocha. The lush initial mouth-feel leads nicely into a mid-palate with excellent structure and balanced acidity. Dark berries dominate the finish, which is clean and long.”  Hmmm, well, so much for our view versus the tasting notes! 

We weren’t overly excited about this wine.  A cute name with LOADS of potential that fails to deliver in the end.  BUT, a great wine to break out and enjoy for a special day like today.  Yep, we’ve gone a lot longer than expected on this blog, but we are excited to share with you our birthday and our love of wine–good, bad and ugly–and, once again as our good friend tells us each time we’re together. . .”Life Is Too Short To Enjoy Bad Wine!”  Well, enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible!


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Day 276 – Living In A Cul-de-Sac

cul-de-sacAbout fifteen years ago, we were living in St. Charles, Missouri. . .the girls were in 2nd grade and kindergarten at Null Elementary School–a true neighborhood school–when Brian got it in his mind that we needed to move to a bigger house.  Our first home in Missouri was a split level; three bedroom/two and a half bath home in a cul-de-sac that was the epitome of suburbia.  We had retirees, we had young families, we had bad neighbors and regular folks.  Even as the girls were getting older, Brian installed motion-detector lights outside, so they’d come on if there was movement–done because of a travel schedule that was kind of weird–and thus help Jean know that there had been some movement outside.  Little did we know — until talking with him — that our neighbor, Jimmy who worked for Coca Cola and usually left around 4:30 am would intentionally drive towards the house just to turn the lights on!  We still laugh about that one today, but then…

The house we moved to in October of 1998 was a two-level home not too far from our original home–also on a cul-de-sac–but a much larger street, so the neighbors were diverse and plentiful.  One of the best parts about having young children is that you meet other families with kids around the same age. . .and thus a move was made that has impacted our lives to this day.  Carol and Terry were already living there with their kids and so were Janet and Mark with theirs. . .the house next to us went on the market shortly after we moved in and that’s when Denise and Rob and their kids moved in.  Chemistry.  It’s a funny thing, but in neighborhoods, chemistry makes ALL the difference in the world.  There, we got together–numerous times for baseball games, football games. . .no reason at all. . .and the more stuff we did together, the more we felt like we belonged.  Having previously blogged about Halloweens’ with a cooler of beer on the wagon, and Rams football tailgating, we shared some amazing times with these folks. . .people we still call friends to this day.  Living in a cul-de-sac is different than living in a thru-street.  When you live in one, you look out for each other.  You notice things and when something happens, almost everyone on the block knows about it.  The girls thrived in this setting, so its’ with some regret that Brian wishes he’d stayed put in Maryland Heights, but decisions are decisions and we move on!

This was all brought back tonight when we opened a bottle of 2011 Cul-de-Sac Chardonnay. . .it’s the grocery store’s answer to “Two Buck Chuck” and at $3 a bottle, you’re probably better off leaving it on the shelf.  Now, surprisingly, the nose was fairly refreshing. . .notes of lavendar, apricot and a hint of butter came across loud and clear.  It’s the taste the ruined the moment. . .yeah, not the smooth chardonnay taste one would have expected from such an inviting nose.  No. . .instead it was like sour grapes.  Like, you know, when you bite into a granny smith apple and that area right behind your jaw just kind of freezes up. . .well, that’s what happened with this wine.  Supposedly, this wine pairs well with veal, chicken, pork loin, lobster, crab, halibut, shrimp, cheddar & havarti cheeses, cream and pesto sauces, and vanilla pudding, but we never gave it a chance.  With all do respect, it ended up down the drain.  While there are four other varieties of Cul-de-Sac, we can save you from trying one of them.  What you choose to do with the others is entirely up to you.

Even living in a cul-de-sac, we’d probably never drink this wine.  Of course back then, we were all about the beer.  Most enjoyed the finest in Bud Light, some of us preferred Bud regular!  At that point in our lives, wine was something that our parents drank and we’d stick with beer thank you very much.  Holy Cow!  We’re becoming our parents. . .except that they wouldn’t drink Cul-de-Sac either!  Remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 228 – In The Aftermath

Montes TwinsTrust the Twins. . .Meet The Twins. . .the Minnesota Twins. . .Congratulations, it’s Twins. . .it’s a tough existence when you’re greeted with twins.  Whether you enjoy shopping at Twin Liquors or want to watch baseball in Minneapolis/St. Paul, OR you’re the parent(s) of twins, the thought of something doubled or ‘twice as nice’ can be a bit overwhelming!  Brian has cousins that are twins. . .Pat and Paul Renaud are two awesome guys from an amazing family–different as the day is long, but talk about having each other’s back!  We lost Paul not that long ago, and it brought back a flood of memories with he, Pat, Roy and a LOT of cousins.  We still laugh-to this day-about the Knights of Columbus bowling tournament in the St. Louis area when we were living there–Palm Sunday–(well, Saturday night)–they brought their own Priest who said Mass in the hotel. . .while the ice was melting in the bath tub as it cooled the beer!!  Yep, that was a ‘life moment’ . . . tough to beat the sound of melting ice surrounded by beer cans–or was it the sound of beer cans surrounded by melting ice?

A trip to the casino in pouring rain and a long drive home to the house, but it’s a memory forever branded in our brains.  It was family.  Cousins . . . friends of cousins. . .and it was like time stood still.  We were ALL the same age and ALL looking to have the best time we could!  These guys (and gals) knew how to have fun.  We miss those days.  We miss those people who brightened out night. . .we know that life goes on, but sometimes, it’s a challenge.  Kind of like watching the news of the past 18 hours. . .it’s been a challenge in the aftermath to stay collected and focused and not get emotional.  There are an amazing number of survivors–an equal number of heroes–to go along with a far too long list of injured.  In the aftermath of a senseless event, we stop and remember the 8-year old boy who lost his life; the 29-year old woman who lost her life; the Boston University graduate student who gave up his life. . .and what were they ALL doing?  They were waiting for friends, family and special people in their lives to finish the Marathon.  Innocent bystanders…

Tonight we decided to go south for our wine of choice.  Aurelio Montes is a Chilean wine maker who doesn’t stop ‘at the border’.  Mr. Montes believes that great wine starts with great fruit, and this wine has an amazing amount of good fruit!  On their own, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon shine, but when paired up, these two classic varieties complement each other perfectly.  It’s a sensational double bill: wonderful richness, structure and fruit from the Cabernet, with smooth, velvety texture from the Malbec—adding up to a wine that’s greater than the sum of its parts while the oak aging contributes with subtle notes of vanilla and liqueur and its soft tannins provide an specially elegant finish.  It’s a 50/50 combination that just begs to ask the question. . .if varieties of grapes can get along for centuries, why can’t these?  This is a nice wine, but we wouldn’t go ‘hog wild’ in recommending it to others.  It’s  a bit rough on the nose; the palate has hints of goodness, but still falls short.  The finish; however, it will sneak up on you and help you to appreciate a good ‘sunset wine’.

Family.  It’s one of the ties that bind.  We live in a society that doesn’t appreciate or recognize family as the core of building society.  We live in a society that is tainted by a media only interested in the almighty dollar.  So, we stop–in the aftermath– of senseless tragedy–to recognize and love our family.  The building blocks of the future are on their shoulders and WE are the foundation for them. . .it’s really unfortunate that media is allowed to ‘rule our world’, but we LET it.

In The Aftermath, please remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible.

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Day 146 – When Winter Is Spring

snoqualmie cabOkay. . .we know we’re going to regret writing this, but given the last few days, it’s something that we have to talk about.  You can see it in everyone’s faces.  The students at Texas State–they know what’s happening.  The cafe’s on the square–they know what’s going on.  The smiles on people’s faces say all that needs to be said.  Yep, we’re experiencing spring before winter.  A run of days in the 70’s has most of the town giddy with excitement.  Why not?  Normally, we’re excited to be in the 50’s or 60’s this time of year, but to be in the 70’s (closer to 80) in late January puts a spring in just about everyone’s step.

Without gloating (although we’re good at it) we talked with daughter #2 in Boston and it was 9 there yesterday.  Yeah, as in 9 above zero.  As in, it’s too cold to snow.  Factor in the wind chill and you’re talking downright nasty.  Oh, but don’t worry–most of the midwest, south and northeast are in the Big Chill.  How long it lasts is anyone’s guess, but having spent a fair number of winters in St. Louis, we can tell you that some years are just plain worse than others.  We still remember January of 1990. . .we were living in a rent house in St. Peters, Missouri–just outside of St. Louis County.  Early in the month we had a pretty significant amount of snow which was followed by several bouts of freezing rain, and the last piece of the puzzle was frigid temperatures.  The bottom line that year was we never could shovel the driveway or walkway because everything was frozen–solid.  And, just like up in the Boston area today, the wind chills were brutal. . .at one point, 35 below wind chill factors.  Not the stuff we were used to.

Since we don’t have a wine from where it’s really, really cold.  We decided to head up to Washington for tonight’s selection.  Our 2006 Snoqualmie Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley was a surprise and a treat.  This was a Twin Liquors find and if memory serves us, it was less than $12 a bottle.  According to their website,  “Founded in 1983, Snoqualmie was one of Washington’s first premium wineries, producing classic wine varietals from vineyards across the Columbia Valley.  Originally located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Snoqualmie opened its winery in Prosser, WA, at the base of the Horse Heaven Hills, in 2002.  Under the leadership of Joy Andersen, winemaker since 1991, Snoqualmie has become a leader in sustainable and organic wine making in Washington.”  What we like about it was the taste.  Yes, it had a classic Washington State Cabernet nose. . .picked up a lot of blackberries and black cherries.  But the taste–a real subtle earthiness to it which was enhanced by the smooth tannins.  Clearly, it’s aged well in the bottle and as a perfect accompaniment to grilled steak and a baked potato, this wine is now a favorite.  We’re also of the opinion that it could be a perfect deck wine. . .which we can enjoy because the weather is perfect for deck-time!

We know that at some point winter will come back to this part of the state.  It always does.  Two years ago, before moving to San Marcos, we still remember the weekend that we brought furniture up to Brian’s apartment–it was in the low 80’s and very sunny and warm.  By the end of the day on February 1st, the temperatures were in the 20’s where they’d stay for the better part of the month of February.  You never know what kind of winter is going to be thrown at you, so it’s nice when we can sit back, pour a glass of wine and enjoy it OUTSIDE this time of year.

As you enjoy your favorite wine (try the Snoqualmie) please remember to enjoy it responsibly and recycle whenever possible.