Friday, May 12, 2006

Wine Whine Revisited...

Last evening I had the strange pleasure of attending a pairing of alcohol and money. The idea was to combine short explanations of a particular investment strategy with the tasting of several different wines. The hope, of course, was that guests could absorb both without falling asleep, and I must say that the idea worked quite well. My son was the financial presenter; his complement on the wine side was an Ottawa sommelier named Sean.

I recently wrote a poem entitled "Wine Whine," which pooh-poohed the notion that there even is such a thing as a wine expert. I paraphrased the old Duke Ellington quote - "If you like it, it IS good." Well color me foolish. Here, after last evening's experience, is a revised version of that May 3, 2006 poem. Thanks, Sean!

Wine Whine Reconsidered (For Sean)

The wine snob swirls, sniffs and sips the item,
Thoughtful-faced till it’s inside him,
While we (the peasants) fake knowing stance,
Waiting impatiently for our chance,
Hardly caring if it’s white, pink or red -
As long as it’s plentiful and we’re soon fed.

The “wine snob” (we learn) is called a sommelier
As he passes us brie crepes paired up with a chardonnay,
Then sushi with sake, and shiraz from "Down Under"
With cutlets of lamb – Oh Lord, it’s a wonder!!!
Bring on the pheasant with pinot noir!
Enlightenment strikes us, awakened we are!!

So consider the food when removing the cork:
A wine is much better when used with a fork.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Boy That I Live With

The boy that I live with is younger than me
(Not sixty-four like ex-Beetle Paul McCartney).
This boy that I live with plays with pals at the gym
Who are younger than he but no stronger of limb.
My boy shoots and he rebounds with obvious zeal,
Especially loving to score off a steal,
Recounting his triumphs to me over dinner,
As if no glory is greater than being a winner
At these lunch-hour matches of the pot-bellied and paunchy.
(His car contains gym socks incredibly raunchy).
I listen with patience and with my old boy concur:
He is swift, sly and speedy – a better play-maker for sure
Than those half his age dwelling on their past glories
(Not one among them has yet entered his forties),
But in spite of my teasing and half-masked amusement,
I’m impressed and I’m proud of my elderly gent.
He’s muscled, he’s spry, he’s joyful, he’s great,
And more boys should be youthful at age fifty-eight!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"Tenacity" photographed by


A friend named Karen recently underwent surgery to remove a tumor. In the hospital’s recovery room, as soon as she was conscious enough to speak coherently, she exclaimed, “There, that bastard’s gone. Get me my cellphone, I have work to do.”

After the death of my father, a Hospice nurse told me that she could look around the gravely ill in an oncologist’s waiting room and pick out the people who would likely survive simply by sizing up their attitudes. She believed there are people who have a true “survivor” attitude, and there are people who don’t.

Several years ago a hospital lab reported that my somewhat routine tissue sampling showed “findings consistent with endometrial cancer.” After some hours of initial shock and disbelief, I passed through what I later realized was a fairly normal pattern of reaction. In the first week or so, positive thinking and attitude (later recognized as denial) was my stance: “I will be fine. I will beat this.” Then it hit me: the terror of facing the Opponent and possibly losing the match. Insomnia, anxiety attacks and private tears defined me. Next came action: arranging to donate blood in case it was needed during surgery, talking with other “survivors” about visualization techniques (PacMan gobbling up cancer cells is one I remember), positive thinking, consideration of the all-carrot-juice diet, and so on.

Not quite three weeks after hearing the original diagnosis, I learned that there had been a mistake. My tissue sample was actually “consistent with normal endometrial tissue.” The second opinion threw in a suggestion that “the patient should be monitored and followed closely,” probably as much to absolve the first doc’s error as to protect me.

This news – this commutation of my medical sentence – had an immediate effect. Tears of relief and suppressed thoughts poured from me. My “positive attitude,” my cancer-cell-gobbling PacMan, my “belief” that I would be a “survivor” all were seen by me for what they really had been: an attempt at having the right attitude.

I think of other friends fighting to beat the bastard and to stay alive, and I hope they are like Karen - not like me. I hope they truly believe they can win. I hope they are people the Hospice nurse would identify as survivors. We are who we are.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A male Rose-breasted Grosbeak waits for his turn at the feeder. This morning I saw three of these at one time!

The serenade of these birds is as beautiful as their plumage.

Photograph by