Thursday, April 24, 2008

Happy Birthday

Our boy is one year old today.

It was an odd string of events that brought him to our home, and it’s been quite an adventure ever since. I had forgotten the energy a young dog can bring into your life. Having Hogan has shaken up our routine in some very good ways.

It’s also been a lot of work and more than once I’ve been ready to wring his furry little neck. He’s grown into a nice young dog, but he’s the canine version of a male teenager. Need I say more?

What he needs more than anything right now is my time—the same time I need to write this blog. In the contest of dog versus blog, the dog wins every time. I’m still writing posts in my head, but they rarely make it to the computer.

I could go on and on about everything my dogs bring to my life, but I’ll spare you. Instead, I’ll just ask those of you who share their life with a dog, cat, horse or other animal companion to give them some extra love today in honor of Hogan’s big day.

He'd like that.

Friday, April 04, 2008

An Educated Palate

It’s finally happened. I’ve become a coffee snob.

For a long time, I’ve avoided the worst of coffee: gas station sludge, office coffee and junk food java. But, beyond that, I was happy with most whole bean coffee, freshly ground and brewed in my French press.

Lately I’ve been very particular about my beans — to the point where I’ve tossed a couple of half-full bags because they didn’t measure up. Actually, they ended up in the compost pile; the worms aren’t picky.

It made me laugh when I realized it. I’ve gone the same route with wine and food. There was a day when a bottle of white zinfandel and store-bought spaghetti sauce was just fine. I’m not at the apex of food and wine appreciation, but I’m getting closer.

My palate seems to prefer big flavors: intense red wines, bold coffees and rich spices. I sometimes worry that I’m bludgeoning my taste buds. My cooking is not for the weak of heart—or anyone that doesn’t like garlic.

Although I definitely have my preferences, I enjoy tasting all sorts of things. Even if I don’t care for it, I want to know how it tastes. I think your palate needs to be stretched and exercised, just like your body and mind.

The artificial flavor of over-processed food and wine is what I really object to these days. I have a low tolerance for things that taste like they came from a factory. Not that I don’t get tempted by junk food and the like...I do.

But when I indulge, it’s never as good as I imagined. My memories of some old favorites don’t match the reality.

I’m experiencing the same thing with some inexpensive wines I used to like just fine. When I revisit them, I find myself wondering if there is something else I could open.

Although I’m aware that some people go through life liking the exact same things they’ve always liked, I’m glad my tastes have evolved over the years. I'm glad Captain Morgan and Coke isn’t my favorite drink anymore.

It does make life a little more expensive sometimes. I used to buy a bargain brand coffee that was (I thought) really good. This morning I ground up the rest of the bag and tossed it out for the worms.

I guess that’s what I get for educating my palate.