This Precious Life
Thursday, September 1, 2005
<>A DEATH IN THE FAMILY…Life is so tenuous. We are constantly force-fed absurd images of wunderkind human types across all media, yet reality regularly reminds us about the truly fragile nature of life. Sometimes the lessons hit closer than other times, and sometimes they hit home. >
One of the more outstanding members of our community, Benjamin Watson, was struck in an automobile accident this past Aug. 21 out in Carmel Valley. He is the son of Joullian Vineyards winemaker Ridge Watson and D’Tim Watson, and was enjoying life as a 20 year old with unlimited promise.
Ridge, who everyone in the wine and hospitality community around here knows well, is as highly regarded a person as we have in this great business; he’s always friendly, warm, bright and genuine. His son apparently was a chip off the old block, with talent, brains, ambition and deep character—all the characteristics you hope for in your children and in your fellow citizens. Here was one who was just getting underway to adulthood, one who had already improved society in his youth and would have continued doing so—now he’s gone. Ridge has asked that if folks want to send something, that they forgo the flowers and send a donation backing Benjamin’s own mission, the Cal State-Northridge Sailing Team, his club team he was helping outfit with a boat so they could compete by personally raising money. Send checks to 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge, CA 91330-8260.
There is only futility in attempting to empathize with the feelings his family and loved ones are enduring now; we all have experiences with loss and suffering, but none can truly know how traumatic it is for the Watsons and their family and friends. I believe there is some greater reason for the events that occur in each life, but sometimes they don’t seem to make any sense at all.
We are so fortunate in this country. The total human and economic resources we commit to entertaining ourselves could probably balance the inequities of life across most of the planet—life that is exceedingly difficult for many, almost impossible for some. And yet it can be argued that our naïve, childlike outlook on the world helps to attract a happier energy that in turn creates more happy energy and spreads across all life—why not? It can also be argued that we are spoiled, selfish, immature and vacuous and are steadily degenerating the fabric of humanity and will lead ultimately to annihilation. I don’t know.
Thank God for loved ones, be they family or friends. In our transient society, I have revised the concept of family a long time ago. For me, family means the people in my life that I am closest to, regardless of their bloodlines. Life is too short to deal with any humans that don’t add something positive to your life and way to short to put up with people who just drag you down.
It’s getting to be time in our evolution to drop all the bullshit. There’s too much lying, cheating, stealing and dealing across the spectrum of human existence and it’s only gonna come back and bite us all in the ass, every last one of us. The hope for our world lies simply in goodness, honesty, integrity, caring and sharing, basically in love—sounds so trite and simplistic doesn’t it?—there is no greater power.
A BOOK OF LIFE…There is great love in a delightful little book I was sent by Val Ramsey, the dynamic Public Relations Queen of the Pebble Beach Company. We were seated together at a recent Antinori wine dinner at Peppoli in Spanish Bay. She mentioned that back in the ‘60s her mother had published a book about fruits and vegetables entitled, The Story of Our Fruits and Vegetables, by Dorothy Crispo, illustrated by Frank Aloise.
Naturally I was intrigued, then pleased when in the mail arrived a copy. It is a delightful “story of our fruits and vegetables, the story of people…explorers, colonizers, missionaries, conquerors, plant hunters, botanists, frontiersmen…all the people, known and nameless, who have carried seeds and shoots and plants from the ends of the earth and produced new breeds and varieties in new places,” as Ms. Crispo puts it.
The book also illuminates other fruit and vegetable characteristics—example: “To preserve the flavor of asparagus it should be cooked with a minimum of water, and as rapidly as possible. In this connection, the Roman Emperor Augustus, who is said to have been very fond of asparagus, originated the saying: ‘Quicker than you can cook asparagus.’” That’s good stuff. I’ll sprinkle future columns with more great tidbits of info from this wonderful book and for now sincerely thank Val Ramsey.
ORBS AND GOBLETS…Val’s mom would have loved Gary Ibsen. He’d probably get a chapter for all the work he’s done with heirloom tomatoes, having built his cache of varieties from seeds he has personally harvested to over 500, sourced from families around the world. Of course this year’s TomatoFest is right around the corner, coming up on Sept. 11—www.tomatofest.com will get you there, as will calling 800-965-4827. Congratulations to Pebble Beach Executive Sous Chef Jerry Regester for winning the TomatoFest Heirloom Tomato Recipe Contest—Pro Division. His Heirloom Tomato “BLT” Soup captured the judges’ fancy. Second place went to Christophe Grosjean, Chef d’Cuisine at Marinus.
Galante Vineyards’ Annual Days of Wine & Roses takes place out in Carmel Valley Sept. 10. It’s a luncheon at the winery that celebrates life and the finer things in it, with effervescent owner/winemaker Jack Galante. Call 659-2649 for more stuff.
Another couple of Valleyites, Lynn Sakasegawa and Paul Stokes, have Carmel Winery. They have been producing for a few years and are enjoying great success, selling out mostly all they make of local Chardonnay and Cabernet. Roxana Robles out at Garden Bistro (the old Summerhouse) is knocking ‘em dead with the wines.
Speaking of wines, those wacky Sheldons, Dylan and Tobe, of Sheldon Winery (they make their stuff out at Steve Pessagno’s barn on River Road) have released a few new beauties. Log onto www.sheldonwines.com or check around the local retail and restaurant scene to try them.
ENJOYMENT IS SACRED…Boy, I stopped into Bruno’s Market on Junipero in Carmel the other day. Went to pick up a sandwich before golf. That sandwich counter in the back looked like Macy’s on sale day. It was like trying to watch Tiger Woods on the tee box at the US Open—packed with people.
Across the street from Bruno’s is a great new (relatively new) spot, Buon Giorno Bakery & Café. The owner, Maria Murray, is just a delightful broad (she won’t mind me calling her that, so don’t get all in a snickle) who absolutely loves her place, what she does and all the customers. She has expanded the Café’s offerings to include dinner as well as great lunch and breakfast items, all homemade on the premises.
The cool thing is she has contracted my old pal Catherine Fallis, Master Sommelier, to create the wine list. I was in there the other afternoon hanging out tasting wines and food—nice place we have here. Another cool thing is Maria does one item a night, a la La Boheme, only not done family style. Check it out in person or call 624-0221, and look for a launch party soon.
<>Next week I’ll include some other stuff I wanted to get in here like the great Blues in the Schools program the Monterey Blues Festival and CSUMB are collaborating on, plus the fundraising efforts by our Jessica Chezem on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Meanwhile, hug your loved ones tight, don’t take anything for granted and stay safe. >