These were the Good Old Days

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I may be dating myself, but I remember back to the day when stores were closed on Sundays. You couldn’t shop, go to the grocery store or grab a bottle of wine. I barely recall those times because very slowly convenient stores began to appear with better hours for people who forgot that loaf of bread or needed milk late at night. Soon retail stores began to announce Sunday hours and more followed suit.

Sound familiar? Black Thursday, oh I mean Friday, has evolved into a two day event. I never liked the name. It sounds ominous to me. I know it stands for the day stores are finally out of the “red” and making a profit but I just don’t like it. It’s not a day I look forward to.

I don’t fault the people who love the day. Everyone has different likes and dislikes. That’s what makes the world go round. I understand the thrill of getting a good bargain. I like shopping and a good sale, too. Just not the day after Thanksgiving.

For some it’s a jump start for holiday shopping. For others, it’s a bonding experience. Families get together and plan their strategies before heading out into the early morning. Last year, some started shopping Thanksgiving night.

This year a few stores announced they’ll be open Thanksgiving Day, some beginning at 6 a.m. I’m sure more will get on board next year. Soon they’ll be offering Thanksgiving dinners in Styrofoam containers so you can eat while you shop!

The debate has begun whether to boycott or not. Everyone has the right to choose. If shopping on Thanksgiving makes you happy, then go ahead. If staying as far away from the stores as you can is your choice, then do that. People protest that retail workers won’t have time with their families. True, but let’s not forget those who work in jobs where there’s never a holiday or a day off. Nurses, firefighters, police officers, to name a few, go quietly off to their jobs on Thanksgiving and other holidays.

Not too many years ago, I remember commercials focusing more and more on Black Friday. One showed a cooked turkey jumping off the Thanksgiving table running out the door to shop. My son found a store’s website that had wake-up calls. A famous celebrity, Darth Vader or crying baby would call to wake you in time to not miss the bargains. He sat and played them for after dinner entertainment. Who would have thought that one day we’d look back at that and remember that as the good old days?

Since there’s probably not much we can do to change the current situation, maybe we can at least show our appreciation to all those who do work on that day. Give the gift of patience and show your thanks. That’s what the day’s all about. And don’t forget to create some memories. These are the good old days. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Fall and Winter Rolled into One…Flinter?

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The trees are throwing up their branches in confusion. They’re saying, “What the?”  We’ve had early snows in Northeast Ohio but rarely a late fall. When the two collide, is it Flinter?

The autumn leaves stuck around late this year. In fact, the trees didn’t show signs of changing colors until mid October. By then, we’re usually raking up the bulk of them. Even as I look out the window today there are remnants on some branches.

Imagine the surprise of waking last week to Flinter! The sun was shining and it was a glorious morning. Snow glistened on the lawns and stuck to the branches of the trees. The odd thing about this picture was most trees still had their leaves. It was November twelfth!

Our part of the state was not the only place to get snow that day. The front dropped snow on Chicago and headed east to the Atlantic coast. We all were included in this wintry blast.

Using the seasons in a novel takes a little research, especially if you don’t live in that part of the country. Accuracy, I feel, is important. I always take into consideration that temperatures can be inconsistent year after year, but still want to be true to the climate. Authors have the right to change things up. Cold climates can have a balmy Christmas. It happened here one year. We still talk about the Christmas it was seventy degrees. Other times, Spring may not appear until the first of May. Sometimes we feel it may never stop snowing. Weather is a fickle friend. You can’t always count on it. But this year, was the strangest I’ve witnessed.

Maybe a few more seasons need to be invented. Then we won’t feel so disappointed when the snow falls on beautiful autumn trees. We can just say, “Hey, it’s finally Flinter!” We could enjoy that April snow shower just a little better if it had a name. “Oh, that happens a lot. It’s Snapril.” See? Don’t you feel better already?

Now that I’ve invented Flinter, feel free to use it whenever you like. I hope one day I pick up a book, start to read and the very first line say, “It was a dark and stormy Flinter.” That would make my day.

 

For the Love of Wine

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Today I have a special guest blogger, author Charmaine Pauls. She wrote the romance novel, The Winemaker.  Since my sister loves wine and wineries I thought the book would make a perfect gift for her birthday. (See picture above) Charmaine lives a continent away so there was no way she could sign the book. Instead I asked her to recommend a bottle of wine which she was gracious enough to do. I also invited her to blog about wines and her book for today’s entry. Enjoy!

What do wine and romance have in common? In Etán Perez-Cruz’s opinion, everything. Well, of course he will think that. He is an award-winning winemaker to whom the pinnacle of expression is his creation. No wonder he compares the best cépage of his career, a Merlot, to the unrequited love of his life, Zenna.

To Etán, people are like wine. He is a genius when it comes to taste and smell. Blending is his exceptional gift. But when it comes to expressing himself, he sadly lacks communication skills. The ever-inventive Etán therefore finds a way of telling Zenna how he feels through his wine bouquets. When he first meets her, he is overwhelmed by the fragrance of the unique chemical make-up of her skin. She is an addiction, the seduction of his senses, and although he has locked his heart away in a very deep, cold cellar, the Chilean wine maestro is soon defenseless in the presence of the Englishwoman who considers herself utterly average.

After a tequila-infused kiss in a scene where Zenna tries to drown her sorrow when her fiancé dumps her, Etán brings Zenna a bottle of Sombra 1999 Red Blend. This is one of his earliest superstar wines, and he believes it describes her perfectly.

“Showcases sweet, dark, plummy fruit. Wrapped in a cedary cloak of earth, tobacco, and cassis. Smooth and supple, framed with soft tannins. There is no need to cellar it. It should last well.”

The way in which Etán looks at Zenna when he recites the label, and more specifically where his eyes linger, leaves no doubt in Zenna’s mind what the enigmatic vintner is referring to. The analogy between the wine and the woman is like the bouquet – intoxicating and alluring.

As their relationship develops, growing physically more intense, but emotionally more complicated, to Etán Zenna becomes a Tierra de Sol 2002, a classic Bordeaux style blend.

“Cassis, forest floor, chocolate, and cedar. Notes of lemon, sage, and olive. Palate intense and well-rounded. Balancing olive with cassis, plum with wood, leather with intense berry. Dusty, soft tannins. Impeccable structure. It will only get better over the next five years and drink beautifully over ten.”

Before the season is out, Etán’s feelings for Zenna deepen to the point of a Merlot 2010, his best creation ever. This is the ultimate compliment an oenologist can bestow on a woman.

“Color opaque. Nose is tight, meaty, and earthy. The mouth offers layers of bittersweet chocolate and powerful blackberries. A tad bit hedonistic and heavy, with all sorts of overflowing fruit, but isn’t it exactly what one wants in a modern red wine?”

For reasons that cannot be disclosed without giving away the plot, Etán can’t have what he desires most. At the height of his heart-rending turmoil, admitting that Zenna is beyond his reach, Etán compares her, for the first time ever, to a wine that is not from his cellar, to his rival’s cultivar, Uvas Organicas 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon.

“Nectarines. Floral notes. Like a Riesling. Drips rather than oozes with red cherry and plum. The finish is light, dusty, and elegant. Spearmint, light leafiness, forest fern. Elegant, unforced red fruit aromas.”

Throughout the story Zenna is taken on a metaphorical winetasting tour, discovering Etán’s world where senses are all-consuming, and learning the secret to reading the man of her dreams who can only reveal his sentiments through the wine he creates.

As Zenna masters Etán’s unique style of transporting meaning, she comprehends his personifications of wine. This is why, for example, Etán dedicated his Casa Sol 2004 Syrah, which won the first prize at the international Berlin Wine Tasting competition in 2004, to his hunky bad-boy brother, Luca.

“Perfectly open and huge, with deep plum and black fruit smothering both the bouquet and palate. Big berry flavors, and excellent balancing acids and tannins. A wine distinguished as a bruiser with charm. While it shows very little in common with Rhône-style Syrah, for a Chilean version it rocks.”

Join Zenna and Etán in Chilean wine country on a journey of sensory exploration that defines people like wine, wine like lovers, and the undeniable truth of love as a drop of wine on the tongue. After all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, or in this case, in the drinking.

Brought to you with a toast from Chile,

The Winemaker, by Charmaine Pauls

Where to buy the book:

Buy from Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/Winemaker-Charmaine-Pauls-ebook/dp/B00EPXFVH0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384183491&sr=1-1&keywords=the+winemaker+by+charmaine+pauls

 

Buy from Mélange Books

http://www.melange-books.com/authors/charmainepauls/winemaker.html

 

Buy from Lulu.com

http://www.lulu.com/shop/charmaine-pauls/the-winemaker/paperback/product-21131433.html

About the author:

The South African born novelist is a gypsy at heart who loves to look at the world through the lens of her camera. Connect with Charmaine Pauls on:

Author website

www.charmainepauls.com

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Charmaine-Pauls/175738829145132

Twitter

https://twitter.com/CharmainePauls

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5161287.Charmaine_Pauls

 

Other books by Charmaine Pauls:

Between Yesterday & Tomorrow

How long will you wait for the man you love when he disappears from the face of the earth?

http://www.amazon.com/Between-Yesterday-Tomorrow-Charmaine-Pauls/dp/1456598465/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372368917&sr=1-3&keywords=between+yesterday+and+tomorrow

Between Fire & Ice

If you were the last fertile woman on earth, would you indulge a man forced to marry you to save the world?

http://www.amazon.com/Between-Fire-Ice-ebook/dp/B009WETS1W/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372368962&sr=1-4&keywords=between+fire+%26+ice

 

Turn Left

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If you’re a fan of Doctor Who you may recognize the title of my post today.  During the 10th Doctor’s reign one of the episodes was given this title. Donna Noble was his companion at the time. For those of you unfamiliar with the BBC series, the Doctor is a Time Lord, a time-travelling humanoid alien, and rarely travels through time and space alone. He always has a companion or two come along for his adventures.

In “Turn Left”, Donna is the star of the show. Everything focuses on her and the choices she makes.  She’s sitting at a stoplight and her mother’s in the passenger seat. They’re arguing over which way to turn. If Donna went left, she would take a job as a temp at a security firm. Right would take her to a job at a friend’s business.

Watching the episode, you already know that Donna’s job is a temp. That’s when she meets back up with the Doctor—who she met once before. They’re separately investigating a revolutionary diet pill at the firm she’s working at. She’s been looking into strange occurrences hoping to run into the Doctor again, and to her delight, she does.

As you watch her sit at the stoplight, you assume you know the answer. She will turn left. Not in this episode. Her mother wins out and Donna turns right.

The course of history is now altered because of that move. Donna never meets up with the Doctor. She doesn’t even know him.  She never convinces him to leave an area that’s flooding and he drowns. The Doctor is not around to save the world anymore. Her decision creates an alternate universe with major changes in history.

The changes aren’t pretty. A dsytopian society is created after the destruction of London. Things keep going from bad to worse all because of making the wrong turn…or choice.

Think of your own life. Do you ever wish you turned right instead of left? It could create a whole new timeline and wipe out the existing one. Your life as you know it wouldn’t even be a distant memory. Would you be glad you did? Or have regrets?

Fun and somewhat crazy to think about. Left? Right? Which will it be? Well, Donna knew. She made the ultimate sacrifice to make things right again.

As I watched the show, it got me to thinking…and comparing. This story was very much like part of the plot in my second book. I asked the same questions. What would Kate’s life be like if her parents never met? Or her father stayed in the past? What happens to everyone’s lives? Would she even be born?

Philosophical questions. No one has the answers. That’s what makes it fun. Pondering over the “what ifs” in life make it interesting. With a bit of luck, we all make the right choices in the end. If not, maybe you’ll be at that stoplight one day, debating which way to turn. When you make the final decision, there may be no going back, no second chance. You’ll be on a new path in life’s journey. And hopefully, while you sat at that light, you made the right decision and turned left.