Category Archives: Drink

Après humanity

Sunday night seemed a good night for a cocktail outside and so I headed to one of my favorite spots, Après Diem. It was lovely, the evening, conversation and company. But, it is summertime in the Deep South and typically that coincides with flares in temper. However, Sunday night’s glimpse into stranger anger still has me scratching my head.

The couple sitting across the passage way from me seemed to be minding their own business. Then two gentlemen (using that term loosely) stopped and began a conversation in elevated tones. As with anything that starts in anger, I think justifying it with mirrored vocals only escalates the situation. This time proved to be no different. The formerly quiet couple countered with some colorful expressions and before I could even say “look out” the older gentleman stepped up and shoved one of the men into the lady sitting behind my dinner companion. Several things are worth pointing out. The women that bore the brunt of the shove moved johnny quick jumping like a bunny and perched on a ledge. My culinary partner stood to break up the fight and I, well, I grabbed my fork, hopped up and turned to see what happened next. A few punches were thrown but didn’t land and the offending party was escorted out. Completely random and bizarre social aspects of humanity and it didn’t happen at the Highlander that’s next door (more of a seedy spot) — it happened in the gentle confines of Après Diem.

And yes, much was made over the fact that I grabbed a fork and was ready to defend or fight if needed. I wish I had more of the quick escape reflexes of the other lady. Oh well, we are what we are. Would be nice if we were better in public though.

Padgett bash, old school style

I’ll let the pictures tell most of the tale — but everyone I talked to said they had a blast. It was fantastic seeing so many old friends and family from both sides show up and have a good time. Just wish the weekend could have gone on longer.

Dads 70th April 2011

On the road and at a wedding

It should be easier. Less dressing and planning — more decadence and life. But seeing Irene and Steve get married was beautiful. There were mountains, the sun began to set. A light that isn’t an everyday event took hold of the moment. But still. . .

They were married in a vineyard, so there was wine. And it was good. Some dancing, but to be honest, and I hate to say this publicly, but I missed a dear friend of mine in Florence. He would have had so much fun. I took my camera but left it in the car. Oh well. Just close your eyes and picture the Appalachians — our Earth’s oldest mountains — and the gentle ease of the rising against the end of a day. All my best for new beginnings and love.

Lorelei (or a cautionary tale of drunkeness)

There were steps leading up to this moment. Actual steps and then stages may be the best way to explain. But first, for you non-knowers of L, an introduction. My friend, let us call her Lorelei, is a mother of a 2 1/2 year-old gem of a girl, a wife of seven years, and one of my longest and best friends. She is, well, typically reserved with a barbed wit and mostly reasonable. But some of that reason may have slipped away one Thursday night while visiting her in Atlanta.

I mentioned, perhaps, the free wine at the Atwood lecture/reception located on the lovely Emory campus in Decatur? Wine, in the slight chance you have not made an acquaintance with its effects, can cause spontaneous, impractical and uncharacteristic behavior when consumed in excess. That said, it was free, we are all poor on some level, and there was a mighty long line winding its way to the tower where Ms. Atwood diligently scrawled and was photographed by the adoring masses. So, understandably, excess— and free excess at that — was unavoidable.

Lori um, hmm, sorry— Lorelei was in rare form already by the time we decided to brave the stone stairs and the wait. The beauty of French men was discussed with strangers.TheOntari-ari-ari -O song was practiced. Contemplation of random objects Margaret Atwood could sign was carried out. I vetoed both the rendering of the Ontari-ari -o song and the mammogram reminder as autograph receptacle as perhaps a bit too much for the (surely at this point) exhausted author. Oh, and we were the caboose at the end of the train of people. So, hopefully at least that fact gave Atwood pleasure at seeing our motley, slightly intoxicated crew crowding her with random tidbits. And by random tidbits, there was my, (stupid, stupid) proclamation and gratitude over a line of text from the Penelopiad . But Lorelei, oh Lorelei, well I think she will be remembered for her particular tidbits. Those bits being:

“Hi! My nickname is Lorelei”

MA: “Really, your parents named you Lorelei?!”

“No, no!” (on her knees now to better view Ms. Atwood at eye level and propped elbows, head tilted above signing area) “my friends just call me that.” (I should admit that I did harp in and attest to this fact.) “And I too am also from Canada!” (I’m cringing at the possibility of On-tari-ari-ari-o and noticing laughter filter from hallway and around us.)
MA: “Really?”

“Yes” (some warbled tale of now being American) “and I want you to know that I think I may get the cover of your book tattooed on my body.”

MA (eyebrows raised in alarm or concern or humor — hard to say with the Canadians): “And where are you getting this tattoo?”

“On my leg, above my ankle” (and then some more rambling).

Needless to say, I think our Lorelei made an impression. Something I failed at, completely. Next time, more free wine before I meet an author. As for the general audience, L’s presence was felt there as well. Tears were flowing from our eyes. Everyone we knew, and that knows my darling Lorelei were laughing. The moment was so rich, that in the process, I lost the very book I just had signed by the lovely, gracious, and highly entertained Ms. Atwood. So if you find a signed copy, let me know.

And Lorelei, thanks for allowing me to tell your tale. To the rest of you: beware tables laden with free wine.

Ummm, something is different?

I am changing—well,this time it is just the blog and title (so virtual me?). I still do not know how I’m going to go about doing what I did there, here. But I’ll try. In the meantime, please let me know what you think of the title and theme change.

Clearly, I’m not married to either. So honesty people.

Speaking of honesty, I’ve not written because I’ve been living a life of small debauchery with my visitors. There will be pictures and a video is floating around somewhere. I may turn my back on my profession and not willingly provide the information to locate the video. I will say it involves me, food, bagelheads, caffeine and a terrible, awful realization of gluttony.  And Elvis . . . but I digress.

Things I’ll Miss #7

Morning: You stand at the bar to drink it when you are rushed. If time and money allow, you stroll to Il Cibreo, order, have a pastry, devour the International Herald Tribune and relish the addiction. Or maybe get your fix at Sant’ Ambrogio market under the guise of getting fruit. I think the morning is the best; it is acceptable and expected to have it with milk. Cappuccino — there is not enough time left here for me to get my fill.

Night: You pop into a bar and have a shot of it with a pack of sugar. Or you get it after dinner, appetite satisfied only when it arrives before the check. Maybe you need to finish a discussion about politics or philosophy, you go to someone’s house and have a glass — talking for hours — seeing the sunrise. Espresso — the life and death of energy.

I enjoy coffee in America (especially when Shelby makes me a cup). But here it is more of a love affair. The ritual is not a private one, it is a national one. Joking this morning about the Italians and their love of strikes, I asked why the coffee shop owners never went on strike. Eyebrows were raised. No, that couldn’t happen. A bloodbath would occur. I don’t doubt it. I’d join the angry mob for a good cup of cappuccino.

So when you see me in line at a coffee shop in the states with sulky glare and pouting lip — take pity on me. Feel the void of my lost love and the absence of my community. Better yet, join me in a revolution demanding stronger brew and smaller glasses. Or best of all, sit and have a chat to lessen my lament.


I really can not believe I haven’t posted anything about mirto. Mirto is a late evening elixir. You can think port if you want to, but you would be losing some of the magic. One beautiful thing about mirto, other than its taste, is a miscommunication I had regarding it one night, months ago. 

I have some decision making inabilities. Most of you know that. This occurs periodically throughout the day when confronted with menus, how to get to work, what to wear, what to write, etc. If at my little pub, it becomes “what to drink?” which exasperates the bartender. So one night, this happened. I had already had a lovely dinner, I was a tad wound up, and I wanted something mellow but not necessarily sleep inducing. That is the way I explained it. “Ah, you want mirto of course.”
But what is it? Well, the people at the bar had no idea. It’s made from little red berries. I think they come from a tree. But what does “mirto” mean. Well, an English girl was convinced it meant mirth. Mirth. How appropriate and perfect. Don’t we all want mirth delivered to us in a small, chilled glass. So mirth it was, for a long time.

And the taste, well, I think it is the best liquid I’ve encountered here. That is above the wines (even the Brunello) — and why I limit myself to maybe one mirto every month. It is not just the taste, it is the aftertaste. Nothing has ever made me want to kiss someone just to share that taste as much as mirto. I’ve not actually done that yet, but every time I take a sip I think of kissing. Not a rough, passionate one; just a simple six second kiss with your mouth only slightly open. More sharing than kissing. Maybe there is no way to explain. But it is sweet, lasting and somewhat surprising (and elvish — can it be elvish?).

So, one day while in Cinque Terre, imagine my surprise when I see these lovely posters of local flora and fauna. Including one depicting a, precisely you guessed it, mirto. Which is actually myrtle, not mirth (silly English girl). But thank goodness for the confusion. I still think of it as mirth.