Monday, June 8, 2015

New views, new wines




First, an old view. It won't do to be very sentimental, but I finally had a lilac bush blooming in my long-time-rented backyard, the day I moved out. Very tiny, no  more than a foot high. Long may it prosper.

When the men sighed and gathered up their padded ropes and straps and were paid and left -- this will sound horrible until you read the innocent details --- then it was time to put dishes in cabinets and arrange furniture. I had no idea, when one moves, how much time one spends standing around thinking where this or that should go. You also spend a lot of time walking back and forth from room to room, because no place is familiar and every thing is out of place. And like Lucia moving into Mallards, you are quite sure which boxes contain books and which contain linens, except it turns out they don't, and they all have to be rummaged through again. When everyone decides it's time to stop and rest, we open a nice bottle of wine.





2012 Yalumba shiraz/viognier (red and white together!) blend, juicy and respectable for $9.99.

Time, then, to get accustomed to new views. Third floor. We are positively in the branches of a magnolia tree. Nicholas hasn't slimmed down yet.



The settling in, and deciding swiftly, thinking "I can always change it" but you likely won't, which cabinets are most convenient for plates and which for cups, makes me feel a bit as if I am on vacation -- with the result that I am not sure I want to go anywhere else this summer for a real vacation, and be required to settle in there too. Luckily I am still supplied with a bottle of Fenn Valley, Michigan's "Cabaret" rose for patio sipping. Hands down it is the best rose I have ever tasted. I say that even while forthrightly acknowledging my pro-Michigan bias, both for its little summertime lakes and its wines. You want aromas of strawberries and cherry blossom, you want refreshing dryness and a healthy puckery acidity to go with all the season's grilled meats and fruit salads? Here you are.




Retail, at the Fenn Valley tasting room, about $13.

Then we opened another bottle of wine, after we had moved some more things and felt it was time to rest again. A friend had given me a housewarming present for just this purpose. "When you're all settled in for the day and everyone wants to relax," he said. It's a 2011 Domaine Louis Michel & Fils, Chablis Premier Cru, Montmain. In other words, it is a French chardonnay, given little oak treatment or none, from the Chablis region -- of Burgundy, tres drole! -- and of the highest legal quality, Premier Cru ("first growth"). One can call it creamy or steely or try to think up new fruit metaphors, or one can say, as I do to customers about French wine in general, that it seems to have an interior core that you almost eat. Withal the prime image in my mind as I contemplate this wine is of a calm and regal Grace Kelly in a plain mint-green satin gown. I think she did a publicity photo like that once. Retail, about $40.
 




A few weeks after the move came that gorgeous early June full moon. My balcony faces east.




Half the reason for the move was that I wanted to be closer to work, a ten-minute commute being so much nicer than a forty-minute one. And here is some of what I have been learning at work lately.





2013 Muga Rioja blanco. If you should tire a bit of your summertime chardonnays, pinot grigios, and sauvignon blancs, venture forth please into the world of Spanish white wines. French, too, of course, or why not Italian, or those nice little Portuguese vinho verdes? but this one happens to be a white Rioja. The best of them tend to have a lovely floral aroma plus, often, some of a chardonnay's luxurious mouthfeel without necessarily its weight or its vanilla-like effects.

Meanwhile I continue to study the set of "Mary's apartment" from the Mary Tyler Moore show, to understand how I may make my completely pristine place, new carpet and fresh paint and all, resemble hers. It's not that I want the beige velour couches with the decorative flaps hanging off the bottom and brushing the brown shag carpet (remember those flaps? when you got new couches they stuck up for a few days until gravity pulled them correctly down), and certainly it's not that I want the brown shag carpet. What I want is the look of homeyness, the look of someone's personality absolutely impressed on her surroundings. Study the scenes of her apartment closely, and then perhaps those of Ted Baxter's and then Murray and Marie's, and you'll see there was genius going on, I'm convinced of it, among the set decorators of the show. For "Mary" they were thinking young, single, not much money, a lot of friends: therefore, a lot of hand-me-downs and flea market finds, no one table or curio-armoire to match any other, and there are too many of them -- she wants exactly what she wants, there -- but she seems to have easy seating for twenty and (probably) her grandmother's old bizarre little cabinet nailed to the wall, along with one hip '70s art print and her famous initial "M."







Images from Hooked on Houses blog

As for Ted, his place is exactly what it should be. Like him, it's sleek, silly, and grotesque. Combinations of big colored balls swirl descending from the ceiling on steel sticks, to masquerade as art; pictures of Ted's face, and a lot of matching chrome-edged surfaces, beam out from everywhere. If this reminds you of where you live, you have interior decor problems. And even Murray and Marie Slaughter's home is exactly right for them. One carefully chic oversized metal wall sculpture, and a lot of carefully crowded, soft brown sofas make a background of just some wealth, some warmth, and some slightly too careful, middle aged sophistication.

I have so far watched only five or six episodes, none earlier than the fifth season. YouTube must have already caught up with whoever pirate-uploaded any of the first four, and shut them down just as they did all the divine Joan Hickson Miss Marple programs. Anyway from what I can see, Mary Richards and her friends and co workers still, in the mid 1970s, don't drink much wine. Lou Grant keeps scotch in his desk drawer and Mary gets her boyfriend "a drink." At her parties -- and really, who everlastingly wants to socialize with her coworkers? -- she drinks a glass of orange juice which I am sure is meant to be a screwdriver. If I hear mention of a grape varietal or a region of Europe, I will let you know.




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