Dec 31

Good-bye, December – 2014

“Time for reflection.

Winter is here…” *


As we close out the month of December, I like to reflect on the previous 12 months. Sometimes I am even lucky enough to have learned something during the course of the year!

Milepost — This blog surpassed the 200 posts marker! That was my big achievement for the year, though I did fall short of the deadline by a couple of months. Your feedback is always valuable for me to learn what you enjoy most.

This year’s favorite articles in terms of reader popularity –Top of the list, Planning The Trip to China. Clearly the most popular article and attracted the highest number of comments. Second place was probably a split between the articles Whole Hog and the Happy Thanksgiving post from last month. Food and nice pictures attract many to comment and that is one measurement of how popular the article was. I thank all of you for your continued interest in the material I offer.

Visitors — I have fond memories of hiking in the snow with Julia and her daughter Vicky in late winter and bonfire with June and family during their late summer visit. I may have learned that some little girls get tired of having their picture taken. Both TT and Vicky are very pretty little girls and I tried perhaps too hard to capture their beauty, but with children it is important to avoid being conspicuous as best you can. When children notice you are taking a lot of pictures of them they start to clown around. However, like all children’s games they lose interest and in this case, the child begins to shy away from the camera.

The garden has come a long way in 6 years and next year will be the first harvest of the Jersey Knight Asparagus crop. Stay tuned.

I note with sadness the passing of long time civil libertarian activist, one of the old school investigative journalist and lover of Jazz music. Nat Hentoff was a man I sometimes disagreed with, but I always respected his unwavering integrity and dedication to the truth.

In 2014 it seems a growing number of Americans have caught on to the fact that the domestic police agencies across the land are looking more and more like an occupying army. This is an issue that I have been clamoring about for more than 2 decades. Glad to see that more folks are awakening to the problem. Go to the following links to read some of what I think are the best articles of the year.

Top of the list; Frank Serpico is back in the U.S. after many years living abroad. Serpico wrote an article for Politico Magazine recently and it is worthwhile reading if you want to understand what is at the heart of the problem plaguing police departments across America. Serpico was a man I looked up to when I was a teenager. Like Hentoff, Serpico was a man who would not compromise his principles or the truth. He was fearless in the face of corruption and his battle nearly cost him his life on a cold winter night in 1971. If you ever have the chance to read Peter Maas’ biography of the man I highly recommend it. I’m not sure of the availability of the 1973 movie, SERPICO, it is a compelling story of one honest man’s fight against the forces of corruption in the NYC Police Department. I am pleased he is state-side and back in the fight. America needs more honest men like Serpico. Welcome back, Frank!

Another American journalist with integrity is Wendy McElroy and her piece in the Daily Bell from July titled, THE POWER OF THE POWERLESS, was terrific.

Lastly, this is a poignant position piece by Pennsylvania attorney, Warren H. Prince, who was appalled (as I was) by the police-state tactics employed in the local manhunt for accused cop killer Eric Frein. If the police want the respect of the citizenry they damn well better obey the law as they perform their duties.

Upcoming plans — China travel in spring! The big plan for 2015 is my spring trip to China. Stay tuned as I post more about preparation, itinerary, and packing ideas.


Big celebration! Another year is gone.

Now part of history. Got to be moving along.”


Wines for this holiday season. — A couple of older bottles that I forgot I had tucked away under the house. A lot happens in fourteen years. Stashing things away for a future rainy day makes for a pleasant surprise! Of course, both of these wines will require decanting and you may read all about that process in these posts.


Vendemmia 2000 (vintage) Barbaresco

The cork from this bottle exhibited a bit of must after I removed the foil seal. After pulling the cork it appeared to be a little brittle and dry. Decanted and though the wine did not throw much sediment it was cloudy when held to a bright light background. Let to breathe for 2 hours before tasting. Tasted with duck confit and whole grain crackers. The wine lacked depth. Day two, I tasted it again and concluded that this wine was drinkable but slightly past its prime.


A fine Bordeaux from Chateau Yon-Figeac, St. Emilion Grand Cru, also a vintage 2000

This bottle was the second I had in the cellar. I had opened the first 2 years ago at Christmas and expected that the wine would age nicely for another 5+ years. After decanting and taking the first taste, I thought the wine might have passed its prime. There was a lot of tannin and it seemed to bury the fruit. I gave the wine an initial rating of 87. The wine sat in the decanter overnight and I tasted it again to discover that the fruit had opened up and diminished the big oak/tannic acid. After second tasting, I upgraded by rating to 91. If you find this wine, I encourage you to try it. It should be good for another decade.

I drink a toast to new friends made and fond thoughts of old friends and loved ones. Cheers!


Look for the sunrise

Cold days are here

Good-bye December.

Got a big future ahead.” ***


*** The legendary blues man, John Mayall recorded Goodbye December with Eric Clapton on the BACK TO THE ROOTS (1971) album. The lyrics at the opening and close of this post are excerpted from the song.

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