Posts Tagged With: Wine Journal

MOCK SOMM: Kosta Browne Visit — a critical reaction

IMG_0983Yes I’d heard things, and I’d read, and kept reading, and was conceptually clasped and captured by the stories of Dan Kosta and Michael Browne. Mr. Browne had welcomed me to his Sebastopol production domicile for a 10AM visit, and I knew I was going to see ‘it’.. IT.. that materialized vocational utopia he’d created for himself as a wine character and presence and producer. One of his staff members, Joyelle–a gentle and cosmically celestial character that had me eased and encouraged after just a couple inaugural words of greeting and a sweetening handshake–welcomed me in and told me a bit more about the KB story and the new facility, new vineyards that they’d acquired and were working with, among so much.
Then, il entre, Michael Browne, with what I expected, that being a IMG_5941-0positive attitude that nearly muted me; the energetic and personified paramount of ‘It’, the dream reached, and in full fruition. Browne poured me a little of the ’13 ‘ONE SIXTEEN” RRV Chardonnay.. and of course, I’m proven wrong about Chardonnay, but not all that I try winery to winery are this acute with flavor encirclings and texture accuracy.. nice apple and slightly creamy pair with an evasive wink (meaning you want to chase it, keep sipping) of pineapple, maybe enriched apricot.. charmed and already fantastically trapped, we motioned for the magnum room, an artful and treasuring tomb of notable bottles, most of which are large formats intended for charity functions, which I found is very much an aorta to Michael’s vibrantly reaching charm and empirical character. There we talked about the charities and why he’s so “big” on them and why it’s essential for this to be part of his dream, his métier xanadu… AND! I saw it! The last of the “John Ash bottles”, as I called them. “Yeah, that’s the John Ash bottle,” he said. My thoughts were everywhere–minced and

The last 'John Ash bottle'...

The last ‘John Ash bottle’…

mystified and focused and varied.. “I’m looking at it.. oh my god… it’s possible,” I thought. And that’s much of what brought me to the Sebastopol acropolis, to see this tangible accomplishment, to see the result of the story, the journey, Michael Browne’s Road. And yes, the Professor in me shared the Kerouac/Paradise quote of “The Road is Life”. “Yeah, man,” Michael said, then sharing the thought that it very much continues, that his story is still being written, there’s more Road, there’s more, more… And we on sauntered…..

In the production facility we sipped what remained of our Chard splashes and went about the barrels, being cleaned and then the lab after the catwalk stroll– And let me stop there. Browne showed me the philosophy, the intricately meticulous methodology and practice behind punchdowns and himIMG_5949 knowing intimately how exhausting it can be for the interns, then showing me the punchdown device, or tool, contraption or what be that’s extended from and guided by a thorough and pristinely placed rail system, even letting me navigate it a bit. But, do note, I was so eager for more story and more expository immediacy of the Kosta Browne chronicle that I let him continue in his talk and demo.. then to the barrel room.
IMG_5952 Here, we surveyed the ’14 Pinots, both from the KB label and his new chapter-set, and Pinot genre and interpretation, “Cirq.” Michael handed me a new glass and a little, I guess you’d deem it, ‘spit cylinder’. And it’s a wise offering, as I would have sipped and let each thieving fall into my center. His ’14 understanding across all lots and mico-climates and maceration styles was more than apexing in talent and fluency– I was fabulously dumbfounded, and I now knew, and could see, feel that this oenological bastion stood an apex of mastery. And with Pinot no less! And where did he start.. the service roll, at a restaurant, saving those stray 1’s and coins and securing some fruit of his own– I kept thinking of the bottle, the ‘JA bottle’ he pointed out just a bit ago.. “Wow,” I thought sipping the whole cluster thieving. Can’t remember the vineyard’s name, and I don’t need to– it was the character that he interpreted and was so eager to share with me and talk about and how he elaborated on wine as colors– the offering and quite concrete a thesis that wine’s exude color in their tactile and gustatory placements.. Fascinating, I thought as a writer and professor, yes, but just as someone loving wine, and loving Pinot, and loving expeditious and daring, and simply fun twists on the problematic and often pugilistic varietal. “Different expression,” Michael intoned, sipping right in front of the writer, in a thin alley of new oak, swirling his glass, “same clone, different vineyards…with the goal of making a complex, well-balanced wine.” And what I sipped was more than meekly ‘well-balanced’. No. The pours were profound, instructional and intimate in their collective palate presence, and universally musical. And we talked about the quite a bit, wine as music, which I don’t have the time to really address here, just note it was brought up and again I saw that elevating passion and fervor’d Craftsman in Mr. Browne. I could only smile, plainly, and know it could happen, this can happen. He made it happen. “There’s color there, right?” he said before leaving the barrel room. “It’s just a cool way to look at it.” Agreed. And refreshing. I’ve always affirmed that wine should be fun and all his expressive theses aligned with such. Their own, and his own, pedagogy, if you would. Again, compelling. Gripping. Charming. “And that’s kinda just how I look at it,” he concluded.

IMG_5951 Jean Budrillard wrote that “…once you are liberated, you are forced to ask who you are.” And Michael Browne very much knows who he is. And now I do. Finally. I had waited for, as I told him, over 4 years to learn more about the story and SEE it, experience it, and learn from it. And I did, there in Sebastopol, about the barrels and the lab in that cozy waiting room, where our meeting closed, and where he said, after I asked him “Who is Michael Browne?”: “I’m just a dude riding the river of life trying to do the best I can in everything I do…and understand what’s going on around me…and live life and enjoy family…let the adventure continue… I guess that’s me. I don’t really know.” But I think this writer knows: A kind, demiurgic, winemaking and vocational sage.
And this writer, or wine lover, or whatever I am, so grateful for the day, for our shared sips and time.

(5/7/15)

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Oeno-Caesura Narrative (inventory)

Sometimes I break, pause from the sips, to collect Self and know precisely what it is aboutIMG_5916 wine that captures the writer and why so often I write about it. In this most recent hiatus, if you will, I think of the varietal that brought me into consistency of sips and bottle-chasing. Merlot. The varietal that’s only popular to deplore from a less-than-quality movie and what now has me kerfuffle’d is how I’m returning to this grape type, after years of flying around from Zin to Syrah, to Malbecs and Pinots.. and now back, back to Merlot, the first bottle magnetizing my character in ’02, when I lived in an apartment in San Ramon and I called my mother to ask what I should serve for guests soon arriving. And she recommended a Blackstone Merlot, think the vintage was ’00 (yeah, it’d have to be, right?). Anyway, here I am, pensive and reflective and scribbling in my Composition Book a lecture to myself to extend this break, don’t sip for a couple days, build the anticipation for the next Merlot cork removed. Pride? Duckhorn? Trefethen? St. Francis? Kaz? What? What should I next meet? What kind of character do I want to greet me? And why do people hate Merlot? Oh yeah I forgot, letting some flimsy-brained film think for you is much easier and painless opposed to actually going to a store buying a bottle and thinking for yourself. Okay.. I’m corrected.
And, in this break from sipping, a curt and coherence cleanse if you might, I wonder what I’ll learn next about wine, its world and the many business models and sizes of wineries, and why winemakers go that way with a varietal interpretation while so many choose another path and practice, or some derivation thereof. The lessons compile, and for the English Professor parcel of Mike Madigan, I can only see more and more to absorb. And I’m overwhelmed, unannoucedly. Maybe I need a glass of wine before dinner– NO, wait, wait.. anticipate, deliberate. And so collecting my senses I hear the dialogue of a tasting room, tourists new to Sonoma/Napa, asking questions and discovering.. discovery.. expansion of knowledge and perspective and.. I should pause like this more often, and do just what I’m doing, listen. To myself and others, and wine’s story will enrich everything about me as a mere sipper.

And the other province about Mike Madigan’s character? One just in love with the translation of grape to bottled content. Professing so much love and curious exponential myriads that loudly envelope senses all. Notably olfactory, gustatory. Spellbinding swirls with the darkly tinted chroma. And just like that.. the glass tilting halt ends. Sipping an ’09 Cabernet from– Doesn’t matter. I’m peace’d, safe in my composing. Logical structuring re-structured in some useful cubism code, one I’m writing not yet. The ’09 tells me to wait, don’t write for a minute, “Just enjoy me,” it orders. I let the strings be pulled. No moving of pen, no typing, just a sip, another.. another.

(5/5/15)

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Beauty Brooding

IMG_5691Attestedly, Pinot and I have a flimsy relationship– we bicker, we contest, we ardently altercate. But not tonight.. tonight we dance, thanks to this Russian River producer.. the fruit is not in any angle contrived or forced, or one-columned. I’m being spoken to, in song, in verse, this ’13 is like a convincing cloud of sensory force that I’ve never met; that other Pinots in set would envy and downright deplore for its palate prose. And maybe this would be the glass, my second, spurring the writer, but it’s Truth– this Pinot is its own mandate, a sovereign sewing of empyreal ebullience– wild herbs and field-y tones taunting the caesura of raspberry and maple, slight cedar– but I‘m not approaching the wine that way, with the dumbed cataloguing of notes and ‘descriptors’. This character deserves more, and more, and by ‘more’ I intend a story, and I envisage, some world, or setting, or moment where character like myself and another like-penner perambulate in words and recitals and– some crowd, listening to our words, all prompted by this Burgundy, from Westside Road… Next sip, forcing my diffidence, causing me to reject any and all boxes, and cherish my own chatter. When I find a wine like this, this is what materializes. And Pinot, of all forms, genres. This is no wine review, no silver-tongued sentence sequence, just me writing to wine; evidence irrefutable of the writer tilted and terrifically taunted by a new wine find. And Pinot… Pinot! I don’t want to be one of this new fashionable fold but it looks like I am. But that wasn’t the writer’s desideratum, by any measure. And that’s my understanding of Pinot as a presence: vagary, the espial; ensuing enclosure. But I’m digging too far as I tend to do, this writer-slash-professor.. I should have just sipped and scribbled, jotted some humdrum banality and skipped along with the glass-tilts. But that’s not how we arrange on page, we writers, the word-warpers loving simple syllabics with a bit of sip. And like Kerouac, there was a decision I’ve been meaning to stamp and solidify but it’s been tossed away from my perceptive plain, and pleasurably. And I thank the PInot, this ’13, for getting me to clarity some coherence of paragraph, composition.. wine wine always in a wine, me and my cyclical sentiments… my Beat.
And my glass empty. A lull ebbs in my Personhood. And to do.. what. Nothing. Just stare at this bloody glass as any Beat would. My curves and coursings opaque in any rationale, and so mundane when I re-write, and re-re-write. But this bottle’s solved that. And I’m untroubled. From this Pinot. Why does it confront me from sides blind? It, this contained vivacity light but not so, aims to have its Self heard. And I know you’re asking, “Where? From where? What winery?”
Why does it matter? I’m a writer, find love, a wine, mine, mind molded and resulted. Freed, me.. That’s REAL capsuled composition. So I sip again…..

(4/26/14)

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A Show

IMG_5638The walk to the gate in the morning and looking at the lower block, for bud break, and the wines–again the ’12, my focus of day– and the slowed traffic, the ride to the hill’s top, all of it had me thinking and more cemented in my wined position. The grapes to come, for me and my wine and the character it’ll assume– Again, like this morning with the ride home, me nearly running a red from all the possible theses in my head– I’m here in the nook pulled several ways, from the novel to this blog to contact assignments writing and blogging, to waiting for SSU which I know will take its sweet time, just like SRJC with a section Summer section. Dinner soon, and the rest of my Merlot. Thought about saving the rest for tomorrow night but I’d rather not– and being solicited for material by those in ‘the industry’, I’ll be mindful.. everyone wants a writer to write for them, something, and do some kind of trade, not money no not pay. “This’ll be great exposure for you…” Exposure won’t pay the Autumn Walk mortgage, and it certainly won’t–

Running through my words last night interrupted by some thought, can’t remember. The sky today, surely won’t catch me like yesterday’s did on that morning walk with Al & Janice. No wine tonight, run tomorrow morning. Frightened the left knee won’t be happy with me should I now go out. Will soon be into that 7daysaweek pattern, but I’m not worried, it won’t be like when I was at K—-, I’ll be more eased with this new estate and their embrace of the writer and who I am in wine’s vessel.
Hemingway wrote of the people of the Seine with such herald and regard, and he IMG_5613couldn’t stop with his enumeration/catalogue of their actions and the articles on the banks, and I have to do the same today– so I now here admit that I didn’t satisfy my assignment to Self yesterday with taking notes while behind the counter and I had every opportunity to do so at day’s beginning, with no visitors, only that oddly diligent wind, talking with my coworkers, and tasting that ’12 over and over. And I was right, it is certainly the more evolutionary of our wine, from its high-alt’ blocks and the severe soil above the fog, near the oceanic ambient temp, it said to me: “I’ll keep writing, just like you, I’m telling you to keep writing, but do so in short, smaller pieces, today’s mine, so what’s yours?” And I don’t believe to be paraphrasing, or re-gesting.. I believe this to be its thesis for me yesterday.. that sky, the high clouds and my angle through the Pinot leaves, then sipping that Pinot, then walking with Kevin out to the lawn to appreciate where we were, are, the valley and the property and the moment, its own standalone, its own declarative madness; the green and light but rich red of the Japanese Maples and all the varieties with which I’m not familiar– so much to learn about the property and wine still, still, and that’s what separates me from Them.. any industry bots, the character of the adjunct finding a laid oasis for him in the schedule he’s trying to change. Wish my students could see me now here on the floor typing with Jackie behind me watching his educational ‘Big Cat’ show, with all the lions and cheetahs, a couple leopards– Would love to do what these blokes do filming these animals, waking early to capture all they can.. the discipline, the routine, the godhonest work of it all– me now with wine.
Rain last night as I fell into my new dormancy, resting, and I thought of rain and the vineyard and the drought, and I shouldn’t then have been trying to sleep but to stay up and write, finish the bloody novel, or at least a standalone sketch– any advent of Newness, fruition.. and recite, this idea of recording the fiction to tape or at the least reading it at Redwood Café– but it’s too noisy and too many not listening which infuriates me, that was evident when I went there with the students earlier in term. So how about start a workshop/podcast/group/lecture sequence/…/… ‘slash’ everything. But all around short fiction, between 100 and 1500 words. Ideas ideas and I credit the wine and all the wine people around me and my sister the winemaker, and even the template wine bloggers and those ill-breeding lumpishly scuttish sommeliers.
IMG_5616“He’s funny,” Jackie says about one of the lion cubs, playing with its sibling, rolling in grass like nothing threatens. The sky now, a bit hazed but blue with insinuations of gray. Alice getting up, and Jackie asking me “Have you seen my little blankie?” I go on a hunt, my writing again interrupted but I don’t mind, and all my readers if any should know that this, parenting, and my son and Ms. Alice and family empirically come before anything, especially wine and its world, but the wine world shouldn’t mind by definition as so many speak from the perspective of family or being family-owned, or at least starting so before vending soul to some corporate jawset.
Today, focus on Zin, both Zins, open both (both 12’s), and WRITE in notebook, anything from ‘rich, slow-moving’.. worded and musical.. I don’t know… I have to taste later, and note note NOTE what’s poured and how its being syncs to all my scribble sensibility, if I have any at whatever point in the day. As you have read, the Room can be exhausting just as well as when it’s emboldening.
Coffee 2, and I’m thinking again about this new idea for a podcast, or broadcast, or whatever it’s to be called. When I started teaching back in ’06 I prided myself in my lectures about thinking ‘outside the box’. And now, I must perform what I promulgate.
Issue of P&W, left, coffee right, and quiet in the condo after Alice and Jackie leaving for the gym, Jackie to play with the other children there and on that slide, the “fun slide” he loves so much and always talks about. And I’m here, left to face the day and the sky, the wine, vines, and characters visiting.
Summer and Fall classes exasperating me, as there aren’t that many.. what if teaching was my only option, as is with many adjuncts? Don’t think like that, cuz it’s not. Just beat on in your Beat, writer, and let songs and airs varied infuse into the prose, the story.. and be outside the box always– I usually don’t write in affirmations like this, but this morning it calls. And I again am convinced of the morning’s importance, the first lines in a story…..

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Massamen Novel excerpt II (once proofed)

I returned to lecture writing but in a different vein and with different speed. I just binged, on words, and no music to accompany. I needed to be focused this morning if I ever wanted to see the world and free myself from all the bullshit– just yesterday, seeing that aged and worn adjunct woman at the other campus, probably early fifties and teaching six classes. I could tell she was unhappy and disgruntled but too exhausted to express it and that’s what brings me here.. to this morning and my cognition now. I’m swinging from the pendulum and I refuse to fall. If I fall then They win. Then I wonder, what kind of novel would this make? How long would it take to finish? And would anyone care? Do I have to write mainstream? And that blog I want to continue, what can I do with that? Al questions from someone like me, nearing late 30s and wondering what, what next and what how and what what, what with everything.

Have to be at the winery in a little over two hours, so I don’t have all the time in the world to think or overthink this. And if this is an inclass essay as I have students do, what’s my argument? What’s the centrality to this character sitting on this couch and collecting himself in paragraph, a paragraph stream? That I’m done. Fed up with the bullshit. The scams. And that’s what the adjunct echo is, and for Them.. 75% of all teachers at the college– well, you know. But let them win, I now think. Focus on this writing, of the lectures and this novel, if that’s what you want to call it. So what’s the novel about? Not adjuncting, not teaching, and not writing, but wine, winemaking, a former teacher starting his life over in his early 40s to pursue winemaking and everything about it. Have his own label and sell and travel with his own bottles; small production, maybe 5k, and not a bloody bottle more. And the wine would convey his new freedom and views on life and just to have fun, not let in the negative, the stress. Wine is supposed to be freeing, is it not? Today at work, take notes, on everything, from where the pens and pencils and markers are by the register to how the bottles are arranged on the counter to how the clouds look above the small Pinot vineyard of 3 clones.

I’d start building today, the future I want and the days I want and the ‘career’ I need to have for sanity. I thought yesterday, after seeing that disheveled and aged adjunct woman, “How much longer can I do this?” And, quite bluntly, “Is this fun?” Everyone expects me to teach and to follow what I went to school for, but as my grandmother told me right before she died, “It’s YOUR life…you have YOUR choice.” And here I am, with Grandma’s idea in my lap. And I choose to re-build. To build the writing and lecturing life– I lecture on these novels and books and shorts and whatever other form’s in the day’s plan.. why not my own book? Why not my own novel? And about something fun. Wine. Wine is fun. And as Susie Selby says (a winemaking friend of my sister’s): “Wine is Life.” So here I go into a new story.. but where to start. How ‘bout with today, with the hours ahead of me behind the bar and with those bottles. Opened a Pinot last night and it had nothing like the bottled life I pour in the Room. I have to consider wine as it’s own entity, yes, a bit independent of the sipper just as Literature is apart from its Creator, and reader, but if I don’t find it pleasing or coherent, or convincing, then what? I’ll figure it out. My character will figure it out.

I’ll write the novel in a series of short but punctuating sketches. And I’ll have wine and wine in the glass be the commanding image. Not the people sipping. The reaction, not so much. Just the image of the wine in the glass before it’s sipped. Many times, I feel, it’s the sipper who detracts from the omnipotence of wine with their reaction. “But wine’s meant to be sipped,” you’ll say. Yeah, I know. But like with Art, you have expression on a wall, someone’s life and effort, and Time which we all know to pass us heartlessly and evaporate before it’s splashed. But then we simplify it by speaking, by becoming self-indulgent, wanting to be seen as wine experts, or “connoisseurs”, or “aficionados”. Why the fluffy tag? Again, I’m overthinking, so I move on, onto the coffee.. don’t want to rise from this couch as it’ll break the binge, but I have to, it’s part of the story and whatever the story commands I do.

Now sipping my coffee, typing madly. Taking the Kerouac thoughts and initiatives from my lectures and having it push me forward, away from the other winery, my old wine life and into this new one with promise and my own projects and this new story. And I don’t need a PhD for this. I don’t even need my Master’s for this. And the schooling and everything I’ve studied, apparently just a sticker on my CV– and that ‘CV’, what does that do for me? There is no Adjunct War, and there won’t be, ever, only fun, joy, and exploration, me seeing the world like one of my students now who studies and works in India, on Public Health projects and some community management in that regard, as well, I believe. Amber, if I haven’t told you her name before, which maybe I have but I’m in such a whirl now I can barely summon past tellings. She, now with her Newness, living MADLY.. I need to start a word list, concepts that dominate me and my projects, and I’ll be about the world soon like Amber with my thoughts, lectures maybe, on wine, on Literature, on Writing, on Writing Literature wrapped and rapt in Wine. Imagine the union of my past world and this new one, I think. I imagine now, me, like Amber, in streets thousands of measures from this couch, from Livermore, seeing lightening in the sky knowing the clouds are speaking directly to me, lecturing, pushing me to mold further in my new madness. Crazy in my Story’s continuation, craving all elements and characters and dishes; scents, colors, contrasts, crosswalks, all of it.

Not looking at the clock as I usually do ‘cause I’m too busy enjoying this morning, like that morning weeks ago with the breakfast sandwich, where I knew something was different but not what, poignantly. Now it’s been asserted: enough. Done. No more waiting. Just taking. Just traveling. Seeing the entire world and writing about the travels a this New Adjunct, one speaking about Literature in his own octave, no papers to grade, just the Road, autonomy, writing, noting, no order only beauty and that’s my new Life recipe. “Wellness”, as a new writer friend I met in the tasting Room explores, blogs about. Phoebe, her name, based in NYC, younger than me, and living, truly living, no papers to grade, no scheduled classes, no rummaging for sections having to call into the department office at some ridiculous time and when you do you’re told to call back in five minutes, “They’re still with someone, Mike…”, goddamnit! No, Phoebe lives, establishes her own Wellness and writes what she wishes, has her focus, that she chose, like Amber. And here I am, nearing 36, exhausted, venomous, embittered and pugilistic. But I snap out of it this morning with my own spell. Coffee nearly gone so I need more, I have to keep with this morning’s binge. What are the other adjuncts doing, but driving to three campuses, like the lady yesterday, telling me she lectures at DVC, CSUEB, and a class one day a week at USF– which sounds prestigious, or accomplished, and I guess it is, but THEY know that, They know we’d think that! All that driving.. I’ve done it before but no more. Wonder what that section at USF is. Humanities-something, but what. I bet USF called her with this tone over phone waves, like “She’ll be so honored to get this one class,” or “I’m giving you the opportunity of a lifetime… you should be thankful.” I know one of those thoughts trampled in the caller’s head. And I bet is was some PHD or dept moldbrain in between classes, in their cozy fucking office. But, ha, I’m hip to the scam, and I’m done. No more. I’m headed to Paris, to India, to Africa, Spain, Ireland, New York….. The Moon if I want! That’s how free I am now, now that I see everything, and that I’m not at the old winery.

I just looked at the clock and I’m running out of clock ticks and tocks but I keep with it anyway, knowing I want my character to make only three wine types: SB, Syrah, and Cab. That’s it. And she, or he, I’m thinking SHE, will have a production strategy delivering not only story but the winemaker’s relationship with the grapes that come in. I one time talked to my sister about winemaking and superstition, and she said it’s not that uncommon, and it’s not silly. The winemaker, like the writer, has to have their comfort zone, and not avoid it but embrace, as that’s where you Create the genius works. And don’t doubt yourself: “If you doubt yourself you’ll never make wine,” K said. I interpreted this in a number of facets, now most immediately with my morning, this new morning and this novel idea and lecturing on Literature around the globe, and maybe a bit about my approach to wine. Newness, the Madness that will forever benefit my career and Life, my character and who I want to be. My ‘Mike-mirepoix’.

So today, when I sip, write down everything that comes to sight, senses, and be MAD with my consideration. Not simplistic! Be animated! Write a lecture for each wine! Why not? This can only build my intrigue and Life and get me closer to that Wellness. If I would have or were to chase the PHD, I’d be lowered, sickened, and even more degraded and devalued than I already am as an adjunct. So no. No, I’m forwarded in a new song, and ‘reborn’ isn’t the term I should have fostered but more so ‘supplemented’, as if by a food or a nutrient.. WELLNESS, as Phoebe writes. And the day is off, this new Me, this new story, this novel of what I’m to build from this first day. Should I blog about it, do a ‘Day 1, Day 2, Day 3’ thing? I don’t know. It may keep me on track. But I hate blogs. Maybe that should change, too. Yes, it does, starting now this morning right here on the couch I’m so frenzied in my typing that I have no time for punctuation and I’m beginning to wonder if I even need that THIRD cup.

Imagine complete Wellness, I am, I am, and the travels, taking pictures. I’ll bring my camera to the winery today, take pictures, and hopefully the clouds will burn off and more light will be let, but maybe the shade and cover will help with the images I catch– tangent I know but that’s what I’m thinking about: a photojournal, a photoblog, something to pocket every bit of the moment I can, and why not with words and images? That’s what wineries do, or try to do. The pictures aren’t bad but the prose, or “copy”, is always abhorrent, vehemently vile in all scales and chords. That won’t be me with my work, with what takes me to the travels, and to those hotels, rooms from which I write and wonder and entertain what the Story holds for me next. And this will be not a job, but, simply, Life. My life. No more jobs. Nothing more that doesn’t entail full, unfettered passion. This, now, my new way, and my new degree. What I see this morning and what I learned about my SELF holds immeasurably more value that any PhD. I won’t be her, between three campuses. I won’t be him, the tasting room director, or manager, or whatever they called him at the last winery, in my late 60s, miserable, and always having to order people around while I sit in my office popping pain pills. No… I’m alive, I’m a story, writing a story, watching a story itself write. So…

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Back from liquor store where

IMG_5534

Flowering at Arista Winery, Russian River Valley, Harper’s Rest Vineyard

I bought not liquor but a sparkling lime– I mean lemon water. Not sure what I have to do, what’s on the to-do list, what’s left but I’m not caring too much as I just want to enjoy words and thoughts from yesterday; the German friends whom were speaking German to each other of course but I for certain heard a “Gerwurtztraminer” and “Riesling” in one plot of the conversation. A bit nervous about tomorrow’s classes for some reason, not sure why.. just overthinking I’m sure. When thirst becomes officially silenced then I’ll move back into the coffee.. need to be on fire tomorrow like I have been these last few lectures. Heard from SSU’s Faculty Affairs sector, confirming they have all my items for the ‘pool’ application, but I feel in a state of hebetude waiting, like I’m waiting for something that’s not really a tangible something but could be something.. the pool is only for possibility, that won’t feed my family, help pay for this house, so I go back to yesterday, a co-worker and I walking down IMG_5564before 11AM to open the gate, checking out the little bit of bloom in the Harper’s Rest plot and the sheep and goats, the little ones rushing to us in belief we have something for snack. The morning stayed cool, slight overcast actually giving me a bit of chilled core but flying away in little patches of thinning cloud, later.. then a beer by myself, where I took the last of day’s notes: “Quick glass after work, writing and staring at empty stein, thinking of building my business and career and direction, where precisely I’m going with this new direction, wine.. “Wine, tell me!” But no words or hints or even odd sound or nod or gesture, no glitch, nothing. Tonight, I’ll open one of my Merlots again, play with wording in my reaction, MY wine “business” or whatever it turns to be shall revolve around life & art & words. JAZZ– the luring dimensions, all of Art, wine, the paragraphs antagonized by such. Driving home now, thinking, dreaming, convinced & convicted.” And I am still, very much, here in the nook, with Miles playing for me, inculcating a new appreciation for this new estate, Pinot Noir and wine altogether, the inclusive spell I’m letting into IMG_5539my Now– notes all around me like the clutter from this move; this nook has become more of a bomb bunker than a place for my pagination, but I’m fine with it, all, all of it, and all this I incorporate into the morrow’s lectures, but I wonder, in this world of mine and me trying to perfect it, and with the newly-healed bond with wine and its ‘industry’, do I want to do this much more– chase assignments, hope to one day be full-time, grade papers and battle student excuses and my own attitude before class (occasional)? I only think of this new house, and my children, my wife, and me still playing the adjunct game, being led by them– and this is too interesting as the wine industry has made it clear, several times, that it doesn’t care for my kind– the Beat writer, the Freethinker, the Artist and one in search of trued centeredness and sovereignty and Wellness, valuing my own ideas. So why the switch, why the now-opposition to its own practice and prior visibility? I don’t know if I need an answer right away but at some point would be lovely. Think I’m ready for the coffee and more thinking, more fascinating of being on the Road, pouring wine and meeting new characters and writing about it all in my room, wherever I am, the travel and its situational atticisms making me more a writer, more the writer I’ve always hoped I’d be, and that won’t happen if the system which imprisons us as adjuncts keeps me in its soggy circle.
Starting coffee, it now brews and falls into its temporary cup, and yesterday again, the sight of the buds breaking, blooming, building themselves for the IMG_5552vintage and there was a reason I saw that, right? There has to be.. so who or what’s the reasoner, you ask (or Dad, my prodigious Philosophy Major friend, would). Not sure if there’s a reasonER, but it’s very much reasoned in me that there’s a purpose for those little anthers meeting my eyes yesterday morning, and that’s all I’m begging from mySelf, the question, that the question has relevance, and if it’s not a question then an excavation of the idea itself; me, walking to open the gate, looking at the vines from habit or slivers of curiosity, and seeing ‘break’. Perhaps, the Story suggests that soon I break, I bloom, I in my character come to formidable fruition. Maybe. And I feel new brio in my typings, just here with this coffee in the nook and with my jazz. And those dreams last night obviously warning me away from technology and social media and anything with electricity.. so why am I here on this devil button slab? The immediacy, it has to be, like Amber said.. but that’s no excuse! I need to get a typewriter.. no, they break.. shit, I’m everywhere in my thoughts today, and I blame– why do I have to blame.. center yourself in the session. This is what all adjuncts go through, and my efflorescence if you would, will, get me away from this shackle-set, and have me like the vines, coming alive toward inevitable fruition. And from an artist’s scope, I envy the vines. They will be bound, released, published and sold, see meaningful fruition. Each vintage for a vineyard is a novel– hmm, now I think further, and know I have to make wine, two barrels of Pinot, which would be a little over two tons (?). More pictures from yesterday in the Room involve just wine, an ounce if that in a bowl, and laid horizontally so I could roll the glass and appreciate (not examine) the texture and precise shade and tint of the juice.. the wine tasted far more intricate and vocal, much more Literary in its sensory sinews than shifts prior. “Shifts”… My days there are hardly shifts, more lessons for the writer, generous opportunities from the proprietors allowing the writer to gather material, well as sell bottles he believes in– and not so much sell but share passion for. And I always tell such, “I’m not a salesman, I just share my passion for the wine.” And that’s not a pitch, either. It’s transparent disclosure of my character. But what I can’t ignore, is the supportive narrative and nature of the winery’s chief holders. They seem to embolden me knowingly and provoke my prose. And again, this can only be Truth. I like to think I’m quite cunning when it comes to character consideration and accuracy in analysis, and I feel no oddity or incongruent nods or shakes, no gladhanding from these chaps. And I’m relieved.

Drat! Already over a thousand. How did that happen? Now I do want to blame something.. the coffee! Just noticed a mosquito bite on my right arm, just under elbow on way to triceps, shoulder. Makes me think again of the day, the walks around the property; in the water gardens and the lawns, driveway, field where the sheep and goats wander, then the Two Birds Vineyard where I was at the end of the day, shooting a short video to post but that’s social media so I won’t build more in that recollection.
Knee left indeed hurt while attempting to run today at gym, so I went to a form weights session for the first time in over a year, then swam. I sense a new character in the writer, and a new love for Wellness, and the new probability promised by those breaking buds yesterday morning. I have to get back there soon, well I’ll be there Wednesday but I wish sooner. And when can I say that’s ever happened to me in “the industry”? Never. “The winery I’ve always wanted,” as I’ve told Mom and shared with one of the owners yesterday in a brief chat we held about my writing on the ’13 RRV Pinot. This laptop now, threatens to die, run out of juice and I’m just getting into my role and rant, I feel, the adjunct disgruntled but with options, and I’ve always felt so grateful for my choices, in wine of course, as many other adjuncts either don’t have alternatives or other interests, OR they think themselves too good or bluntly too smart to get a job, like at a winery or anywhere. That’s what I understand, and empathize with, but will never be. I know I have to have a job, but I also reserve the fortitude to refuse a job I’m certain I won’t enjoy. Had too many of those, as you know, and many in the wine world. SO, I find myself happy, and I feel strange. Isn’t that diacritic, and a bit idiosyncratic of me. Yes! But that’s Truth, that’s what I’m feeling and what dominates my character’s scope at this table, this table and all items atop that are soon to me shuffled to the new house, the Autumn Walk base. Love the name of our new street. Autumn, my favorite season. Walk, the idea and consistency of a saunter versus a run, something rushed and sped. This is what the story intends and I’ll sip wine in the backyard and have my little pages at ready that first day, night, our first true pageset on the new street.

Back from errand. Tomorrow, after 1B, thinking of going to taste, somewhere. Where. What. Notes, new stories flying around my head but can’t catch them. Tomorrow I will. I have to. And be unlike anyone else writing about wine– or the trends of what to sip.. what if I just order a wine from curiosity’s tavern and start with my jots? No pattern. Not here. Not with me.

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4/14/15 journal — “Tackle”

Done with 1B grading, and ready to leave. Will write more after class, planning on going to Redwood Café for some short fiction and a water with lemon.. no coffee, no more for me thank you.. or should I come back here, to the condo, which we’ll on inhabit for another 24 days or so, and nap? Oh how I wish I could nap now, but no, no I need to keep today in proper motion with the lectures and the short fiction ahead; the café and people waiting for their plates and coffees and people they’re meeting there.. and the conversation in 1B, centered around Baldwin and his views, his world views.. more later…..

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Little Kerouac with his new truck…..

Classes done, no nap, and wasn’t in the mood to write, earlier. And who else to prompt me to pen but little Kerouac himself. We now, just back from store where I bought him a truck and now we have our usual end-of-day conversations and cartoons and play with trucks and cars and the usual chase down the hallway and through the kitchen. While driving he waved at all the trucks around us, and individually, methodically at the corner of Yulupa and Hoen. Why do I stress as I do, and why do I let so much bother me? Money and classes and so much that’s out of my control? Yesterday was given the greenlight to write about an Arista wine for the purpose of generating sales, case movements. I’ll write up some copy tonight, some short prose and post some pictures– but, shit, those were erased when I restarted the phone, I think… Yes, gone. But I refuse to let it bother me. If I do, then tech wins, and I’m taking my war with it quite seriously. More writing by hand and less of the typing but I’m typing now, that’s what the Story renders and I can’t be divergent with the Story, ever. I can’t afford to.
Now I’m in the living room seated, leaning against the couch, while check claims that he’s stuck between the arm and the endtable. I laugh while and after he says whatever he does in that dialect of his, the Jackie tongue.
Nothing to report, bored and still not in much mood to write. Just want to be lazy and watch Jack, no assignment or prompt around this moment-set. Now he engages me, running away when I threaten to get him.. here comes the ‘Daddy Monster’ I impend. And then we together laugh, hysterically sometimes. And now he’s back to his own language with a little bit of a higher octave to his words and this funny squished face he does.. I laugh now, and continue, don’t want

IMG_54479:36PM. Tomorrow I vow to wake early, and write track after track, just like a singer-songwriter locked in studio. But fiction, all fiction, short rushed panicked fiction. Back from Mom’s birthday dinner at this new spot, or relatively new stop in Windsor call.. what is it?– oh, ‘Kin’. no complaints, really. No, at all, none. Great service, great wine selection.. amazing Cab the waitress selected to pair with the burger I ordered (which was cooked flawlessly)– sometimes I feel I should be a food critic, or blogger, some tweeting foodie that just talks and tweets and posts and doesn’t care, just puts themselves out there– and why not? Why not do that with the fiction? With the small pieces? So much on mind right now with this new house and the sale of this condo and moving and Summer & Fall semesters, booking the Fall classes this Friday.. and work tomorrow….. Need breathe, just calm and forget about everything, just write and react to what’s here in front of my game, this adjunct plate, and not stop– a social media friend of mine, a blogger she is (not sure about what), said that “you can never put out enough”, referring to blog posts, tweets, material, copy and photography.. just put yourself out there, all of you, and some of her work isn’t precisely mind-strangling.. so if she can make a living doing what she does, then a writer like me, this writer here at this nook table, should have no problem transcending.. and why has it taken me so long? I’m just venting, and I should, I deserve to after what I’ve been through this last week and what’s been on my mind– the grading and the prep and the money and all arranged into that maturity box.
Sipping still water from glass, and getting tired. Bed, go soon, so you can wake early and what– vent to the page as you always do. IS that what Baldwin does? I find his essays scenic and instructional, but a tad prolix. He’s it, though, lived as a writer and done the traveling trek that I dream of, and when I listen to NPR in the morning, of these journalists traveling the world and seeing war and recording it and relaying the findings by page to us in America, I feel ferociously failed. And I know I shouldn’t. I can just hear Mom saying something like, “Don’t be like that, don’t doubt yourself.” OR, simply, “Stop.” And that’s why my mother is invaluable, and I have to note that today, on her birthday.. if it weren’t for her, I’d be nothing like this writer, here in the kitchen nook of the condo we’re about to sell thinking of the next words to write.. sip the water again, more than absolving.

Day, time to end. No more writing. Just living, thinking, like Mom told me earlier when I called her stressed, she told me to just sit and think, don’t write. And that’s what I need do now.. soon phone to be OFF, this devil laptop, too. And then to bed, and I have to note how thankful I am that I’m not in wine’s throws at current current.. just this water, Equilibrium, and thinking of the day’s lectures, this morning’s 1A especially, on the symmetry and value of living, being one of the living, that tomorrow’s not exactly assured.. now I enjoy my night, for thinking. Writing done.

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Mock Somm: Sheldon Wines, Roma’s Vineyard/Anderson Valley, Pinot Noir, 2012

Virile and musical, rousing modulation with a pursuant pace on palate; light red fruit with earth and tea, spice and seductive sensibility; this is voice, the IMG_5365kind of rhyme I look for in a Pinot or any other wine, and I’ve never tasted here before so this was a bottle that made me subscribe, already envisage my return. Upon olfactory initial, I’m in redolent exchange, observing all dimensions in that cranberry, or earthly pomegranate, or rhubarb– I don’t even know what rhubarb is. Again, I’m not a somm– No, I know WHAT it is, just not what it tastes like, sorry. I’m not rounded, like a somm.
IMG_5354This Pinot stands as that poetic Pinot that I’m always looking for, the low ALC giving the fruit saunter a an invitation to be observed and appreciated.. again, musical, jazzy, Hutcherson on his keys, with the random shuffles and syncopation.. the romantic cryptogram, me thinking, thinking and fantasizing of my sip next. It’s Beat and pages set on palate telling it’s own story, and the winemaker/owner Dylan and I discussed today, there’s depth in this pour, in this bottle, here in this 13.5% ABV Pinot. “How can it be deep or have depth if it’s so ‘light’,” I just hear someone challenging. Well, that’s a whole ‘nother exchange. With this bottle’s submission and today’s visit I define depth as intrigue, innovation; enticing evasiveness and resplendently interactive transcendence; its own haunt, if you will. And that’s the lore of Pinot, but here it actually materialized. This is a Pinot that questions and answers.. vanguard and phantasm. My senses are wholly hexed, charmed, coerced in the palatable octave of this ’12.

Okay, so now a rating. I have to do that, even as a Mock-Somm.. so.. I don’t know… 96. “Where’s the other 4 points?” you’ll pose. “Okay,” I act, “I could have given it 100, and I want to, I’m just trying to seem sagacious, in the luscious loom of such a laudable and attractively actuated Pinot.”

So… ‘MM 96’

(But MM 100, if you promise not to tell…..)

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Papers Ahead…..

And I’m here in the nook hiding behind my entry. But not so. I’ll get in there eventually I just need to keep the jazz playing and the coffee in cup.. this morning’s coffee, from the shop down the street, like I’m in the adjunct office, like it’s a work day, I’m in my role– I’ll grade all day starting at 11, 3 papers at a time, truly “Swiss-Cheese it” as Dad says.. already have rubric set up, all I need to do is mark the papers, or finish anyway. Gorgeous outside, that after rain feel, but I still incredibly am moved by the petrichor still in air, and falling from that intense blue. And I stumbled upon that word, “petrichor”, in a science journal, as it’s a new word used to describe the smell of rain; so I’m guessing it’s a noun and adjective, either way I thought I’d give it a home on page.
The coffee works but the jazz station stalls.. this isn’t helping theIMG_5343 adjunct. There, think I got it to work– and….. There. And revisited the rubric which I will dive into in .. less than two hours. Too lazy to do exact math. It’s interesting, the relationship between adjunct and coffee. This cup, telling me to keep typing and forget about the papers, just for a minute, but then I think it orders me to go grade one, just ONE. I will, just after this paragraph.. while in RRV, I’ll take pictures, see how the vines are progressing, and see how this drought is straining our dearest vines. Don’t think the rain was enough to introduce any mold or rot, still think it’s too early for that, and maybe too early for shatter, I don’t know. That is one area I wish I was more learned in: vineyards and vineyard management and truly what’s out there stemming from the soil..

And I did it, graded ONE paper, one from the 1B section. He wrote about the connection between Plath’s Art and her eventual self-termination. First, the font looked suspiciously sizable. He has fortified points, but I thought they would benefit from that word-by-word approach with the poems, especially, and then the entries, maybe not as much focus on Bell Jar. This ‘word’ approach that I cite has benefited me greatly, this semester and a bit before, enabling me not only as writer but reader, teacher and Human.. in de-cluttering the house for our eventual and nearing move, there are certain books I refuse to stow away, and Ms. Alice this knows quite roundly. Plath is among them, with her entries and the collected poems.
The sun outside and the blue, the petrichor’d pavement and all the leaves with their newly augmented notes and songs, call me. Should I go for a drive now? Just leap out there to the car, head to the winery to get the paycheck stubs (my main and Adult/responsible/mature intention for driving there), take some pictures, maybe take the comp book and a couple papers up there and just find a new stage, some new surroundings? I can write and grade somewhere else, write?– I mean, RIGHT? I don’t have to be confined to the kitchen nook? This harsh wooden chair, paining my tuchus. Love that word, as it reminds me of Grandma.. Still can’t believe she’s been gone for well over a year, two years this June.. and now Ross.. Life too fragile. I have to just follow impulse, and not worry not fret not fear and to some extent not care, or not so much. Yes, anxiety and any worry is entirely much a cell; a jail; a still death to itself. So no thanks. The coffee, still falling into my core and I don’t let the narrative stop and just remembered I owe this day a short bit of fiction as I have the past several days and I have to print that poem as I want to share it with class tomorrow, read it to them, let them KNOW and SEE that I’m one that does, not just a ‘teach’.
Loading up backpack.. going to be a traveling driver, writer.. but to where? How ‘bout the bakery? Or Flying Goat? Or…. huh, can’t think of anywhere right now.. the bakery might work.. just need a scene shift.. and if I go to Healdsburg I’ll be nearer to Arista. Makes sense. The papers nor the students frighten me. I remember when I first started teaching I was afraid of student reaction, like they wouldn’t like me or they would tell someone, some department chair or dean that I was a horrible person and professor. Now I wildly don’t care, and just do my job (that’s what I meant earlier by ‘not care, or not so much’).

The morning calls me, calls me out, out there, under that blue, about the airborne notes of post-rain and newly glazed cement. I need to be out there, that will get the papers graded quicker, and make me proud of myself for finishing them so early, and so quick. So I ready then, after this sitting, and I’ll write while I grade, write what I find, have comments for them when I get back and welcome them to discussion (which few professors or teachers or instructors, whatever they call us, do), have them ask questions, have them ask how to strengthen their writing, how to make it explode from the page, how to have their convictions beautify the page and all the paragraphs cascading from their impulses.
Find myself now easily distracted and a bit tired. Pulled by emails and messages and this goddamn phone. I would love to murder it, make Poe proud and bury it alive. Not going to bring all the papers with me as that will only overwhelm the adjunct, put me in a bad mood and stall me further.. so I’m thinking, 20 items, pulled from stack (which I’m, again, surprised isn’t that towering, think I may be able to finish today, leaving for me tomorrow only to plan and write in the earliest of early’s, there in the adjunct office). Almost checked my phone, but no, NO! Staying away from that thing.. this is a jazz session, all my sittings be and just as the drummer and pianist can’t halt in their touches neither can this writer.
Adjunct in need of his succeeding demitasse…..

(4/8/15)

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Mock Somm: St. Francis Winery, Dry Creek Valley, Petite Sirah, 2012

I’ve always loved Petite Sirah but this bottle contains more persuasive and IMG_5337proselytizing qualities than most PS interpretations I’ve tasted.. the inaugural contact is not just charming, it’s vocal and musical, with soft but thick and rich floral and chimes of cherubic chocolate framings. Or, lavender? Or violet. This wine is not just reflective of St. Francis’ prominent éclat throughout Sonoma Valley, and the wine world definitively, but as well the ’12 vintage, and the curious capacity that Petite Sirah carries. I, as do others, even the might master somms with all their accolades and menus they’ve designed and talks they’ve given, have always found the type itself a bit evasive, hard to define. But whatever it is, this bottle does more than the mere expected template judicature. Here I’m sipping innovation, a new interpretation.

IMG_5336And the traditional somm will strike! Move to protest and the self elevation inflammation.. “This isn’t Petite Sirah.. something so smooth.. where are the tannins? Why doesn’t it have more smokey notes? Why doesn’t it have…” Huh? Why does it “have” to have anything? Why not a new interpretation of the varietal and provide consumers with a new song? Again, I’ve always loved Petite Sirah, but this bottle by one of my favorite Sonoma County houses has me singing, has me thinking of what other reds they’ll provide me, the apotheosis of a ‘big red’, from the house of big reds. The texture I could carry on about for the entire entry. So what should I score it?… I have to score it something, grade it– “Aren’t you and English Professor? What grade would you give it?” It’s wine.. I don’t grade wine. I just enjoy. And the one’s I don’t, I don’t write about. This bottle, as stated, sings, captures, colludes. And I follow. In sip… Ok.. so….. 98 Points. Or do I write it “MM 98”?

(4/7/15)

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