Hello!

Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Memorial Day



From the First Five at Boston Common:

Crispus Attucks
Samuel Gray
James Caldwell
Samuel Maverick
Patrick Carr

To three of the most recent:

Humberto Sanchez
Dylan Merola
Ryan Knauss

From the rest of us.  Sleeping under the warm security you provided. Thank you so very much. Today, and always.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Little Miracles

 


Readers of The Epic will know that one of my core principles is the existence of miracles and joyous things all around us.  If we keep our eyes open we will discover many of these gems which will greatly enhance our lives.

This little bush is pretty ragged.  Just a group of sticks really trying to stay alive behind my mailbox. It has been there many years now and I haven't seen it bloom in a long time.  I am sure that some people would have wanted me to remove it long ago but I cannot do that.  You see, my wife the Irish Redhead loved to plant things in the yard and this is the only thing I can recall that remains from her annual efforts to redecorate outdoors. 

So, on Easter Sunday, I walked outside and saw these beautiful little flowers adorning the group of sticks.  I'm pretty sure that she was thinking of me.  I had a wonderful day Sunday and I hope you did as well.

I have not attended to The Epic or to my readers in a long time.  I will do better this year.  Thank you so much for still coming by.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Armistice


Vonnegut said that men who were on the battlefield at eleven that morning reported silence so deafening they were convinced it was the voice of God.  A voice that said "enough".

Enough of what Siegfried Sassoon described as "faces trodden deeper in the mud".  Enough of the new war machines...


Enough of trenches...



Just, enough.  Time for parades on 5th Avenue and kisses and prayers and hugs...


War was made illegal in 1938.  A year later it started again.  Here, everything is fast and new.  We mainly forget or ignore the old things.  The old ways.  Armistice Day was created to make sure we never forgot the very first World Soldiers.  And the millions that died.  Now, we merge them into the honor of more recent veterans, living and dead.  And the old ones have faded in the effort.  Other countries whose boundaries encompass the bloody soil have longer memories...


Shock someone.  Wear a poppy today.  Or a red ribbon.  Be thankful for those first overseas veterans.  And all the others who sacrificed after war became illegal.  Try to  hear God's voice.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Annual Angler

 


I love fishing for trout with a fly rod.  Every year I get one chance to do so which tests my admittedly modest skills.  My favorite venue for this event is the Au Sable River in Michigan.  There are numerous parts of the Au Sable and I stay at the fabled Gates Au Sable Lodge.  Little rooms where you can walk out the back door, put on your waders and step into one of the most famous trout streams in America.  I have been visiting Gates for years. 



 Last year I fell victim to the dreaded fishing skunk.....I caught nothing during my visit.

This year due to an unfortunate atmospheric event I was able to stay at Gates two weeks instead of the planned seven days.  The weather was glorious, cold and clear.  Trout here are very experienced prey and they are not easily fooled.  That said, I managed to fool more than ever before using the classic English method of casting downstream and pulling a wet fly across the burbling current.  Another treat was the presence of my great pally JP who usually comes up from southern Michigan to join the sport.  It's the least he can do since he introduced me to this obsession years ago after we stopped being roommates in law school. JP is an actual fisherman, I only rely on dumb luck and my ability to read the water to guess where a trout may be hiding. 

Before the shrieking starts I must declare that this water is highly regulated and it is illegal to possess trout.  All trout we catch must be returned to the stream in good condition.  On what is known as the Holy Waters they are VERY serious about such things.  As am I.  


Another thing I love about this area is the great food.  They have classics like Pastys, the Cornish meat and potato pies, that with brown gravy are an outdoorsman's staple.  They have other hearty dishes too and they use lots of local ingredients and LOTS of fresh fruit.  One example comes from the final evening of the trip when I dined at the wonderful Gates restaurant and had a slice of maple cream pie with poached local pears on top.  I can't describe how wonderful that dessert was.  It even topped the fresh blueberry pie.  And the multitude of doughnuts from the incredible local bakery.



I played golf one day to give the trout time to regroup and strategize how to make me a sporting failure the rest of my trip like last year. I played terribly on a really fine course called Forest Dunes but I had a superb steak dinner there to make up for it.

As is always the case, the last day of any adventure must arrive.  JP had been required to return to work and I fished a couple of days after he left with no success.  The day before my departure dawned bright clear and crisp.  An autumn day worthy of any of the legendary trout fishermen.  And me too.  I admit to being pretty tired and I almost didn't return to the stream that day.  But I wanted to catch just one more trout before returning to the workaday world of well.........work......and weather related damage.  I chose one of my very favorite streams.  A place where I have always caught at least one trout.  

This particular spot requires you to park on the shoulder of a two lane paved road and then walk down some rustic steps to the stream.  As I parked I groaned seeing that another vehicle was already parked there.  I did not want to share my last stream visit of the year with anyone.  In the event, the driver of the vehicle was a very nice fellow who was merely standing on the bridge looking at the water.  As often happens we struck up a conversation.  During which I found another sporting brother.  He told me he had been married many years and has lost his wife only four months ago.  Hearing this I glanced at him.  And I saw myself three and a half years ago.  By myself.  Adrift.  Trying to figure out who the hell I was supposed to be.  Two middle aged widowers standing on a bridge staring at one of the finest trout streams you will ever see.  Suddenly not knowing what to say.  He ventured "its amazing how a great wife is a.........well a........a rudder for your life...a balance."  Yes.  I was blessed that way too.  

It is not a shocking revelation that most men don't share feelings or intimate thoughts very well.   But in the freemasonry of lost love it becomes a bit easier.  I ventured the thought that I felt just as rudderless and cast adrift three years ago as he does now and that despite that feeling it was a time of exciting opportunity to try and find out who we are now.  In the time after that time. 

We swapped information and promised to keep in touch.  Then I made my way to the stream and tried my luck.  I worked carefully downstream and finally caught my one last trout of the trip.  But it was a little bit less than before.  Suddenly my legs felt all of their sixty-one years after two weeks in moving currents. After releasing the trout I sat on a big log in the stream.  And I stared at the running waters.  I heard some geese flying overhead calling for their leader to take them to Florida. I sat there and I thought of her.  A lot.  A lot more than in some time. And I smelled wood smoke.  And I looked upward and a torrent of red and gold leaves blew down over me.  She was happy about the trout.  I struggled up from the log and made my way back to the car.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Languid



It had been a very trying week.  At the start of it I was in full-on work mode, engaged in another of the competitive micro-elections for money in which I have been performing for the past thirty seven rather marvelous years. 

But then, through no fault of either mine nor my competitor, it all just ....stopped.  The proceedings halted and ultimately nullified.  Only to be replayed at some future date.  This sort of thing is deflating in the extreme.  You have nowhere to expend all of the build up energy and focus that were fueling you for the event.  Well, I suppose if one were a runner, or an exerciser, but I have sterling credentials as neither of those. 

What to do?  To quote one of my favorite characters from a movie long ago, "ROAD TRIP".  My favorite casino happens to be a modest drive away and I rapidly claimed a complimentary room, booked dinner at the excellent hotel restaurant, threw a small Italian leather bag into my trunk and drove west.  Feeling none the best for wear I might say.  I almost talked myself out of the trip.  But the dedicated Epic learns to follow his inner voice in such matters.

Upon arrival I got settled into my room and considered soaking in the large hot tub.  Apparently someone in the booking office was under the impression I was planning a much more complicated escapade that was the case.  Avoiding a bath that would have probably put me to sleep, I straightened my tie and headed downstairs to the caisse to exchange some money for chips. 

It should surprise no returning Epic that I was the only person on display on the casino floor wearing a coat and tie.  Nor should it surprise anyone that the feel of casino chips in my hand and the distinctive clacking noise they make when you riffle them against a green baize surface is a soothing influence to the my heart and soul. 

It had been some time since I last played Roulette but my weariness from the week's events and a three visit losing streak at Blackjack prompted me to a simple plan of action at the table of the spinning wheel based upon James Bond's system.  Which was based on John Scarne's system I believe.  A solid notion. With that firmly in mind I had a "half and half" martini in the cocktail lounge and headed to the steakhouse for dinner to further fortify myself for the evening ahead. 

I don't always have steak when I dine out but when I do I have steak au poivre.  It is another sad feature of the current era how difficult it is to find a great steak, crusted in peppercorns, with a brandy cream sauce.  A French bistro classic now relegated to the novelty list.  On one less than memorable occasion, I asked a waiter why the "steak au poivre" that had been perfectly cooked and delivered to my table had no flavor.  The horrifying answer was "People kept sending it back because it was peppery".  Good lord.  Why on earth would someone order steak AU POIVRE and object to it being steak au poivre?  I digress.  The casino steakhouse in question makes the dish perfectly.  I suspect that from the great beyond James Beard weeps with joy every time someone makes it there.  A large wonderful filet [I know, I know, the classic should be a strip steak but I occasionally allow myself a slight turn away from tradition] cooked medium rare, with a significant peppercorn crust and a perfect and silky pan sauce which served to slightly soften the heat of the pepper in the way the first chef to make the dish certainly planned.  Magnificent...


With a glass or two of a very good Pinot Noir the old life compass was slowly swinging to the proper course.  After that outstanding steak I celebrated the existence of at least a few chefs who can still prepare it properly by ordering what in that locale has come to be known as the M****** Sundae.  Simple but the perfect sequent to my entree....


Fully bucked for the remainder of the evening, I sauntered back to the main Roulette table where I whiled away several hours in the company of a couple of nice croupiers and a very attentive cocktail waitress.  I ended the evening happily ahead of the house.

Somewhat later, relaxing in that tub with a snifter of cognac, I considered the word "languid".  One of my favorite adjectives. I love the way the word sounds.  It is one of those words which immediately conjures up just the sort of evening I had experienced.  Or the look in the eyes of certain women at certain times.  It shouldn't surprise me that the primary definitions of languid are pejorative but I put this down to a cultural variant in the U.S. where the lack of "proper" [i.e. energy and goal driven] activities are usually looked at with a cocked eyebrow.  I prefer the alternative definition of languid which is "leisurely".  Sensual leisure.  The Epicurean definition of the word.  And of a superior evening.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

I Wonder.....

"Sometimes I wonder...do you ever think of me?"---Gregg Allman

Just over the hurdle of my second anniversary of being single. 

I hope next January 25 is nicer.

ML

Sunday, December 2, 2018

My Hero of The Street Corner


Every so often I come across someone who so exemplifies the Epic spirit that it stops me in my tracks.  Like the fellow on the corner.

I have certain work obligations which at times can only be described as tedious.  When these obligations call, I am required to sally forth from the friendly confines of my office to a nearby building. Which in turn requires me to walk right past him. 

The fellow on the corner is about my age, perhaps a bit older.  He is dressed nicely and doesn't appear in need of food or shelter.  He never asks for anything.  He just gives to others.  In every season, not just the Christmas season, he is on the corner wearing a yellow reflective vest that makes him look quasi-official.  The last week or two he has been sporting a Santa hat.

Every day I walk past him he gives a cheerful grin and says good morning or good afternoon.  Often he will give a compliment too.  "That is a nice looking suit you have on today!" "You are having a great day, I can tell by that smile!"

Think of the energy this fellow expends in this Epic venture.  He has made it his quest through this part of his life to give happiness and light to everyone he sees and he obviously loves what he does.  This year in particular I am in need of this sort of gift.  And he provides it to everyone, at no cost to themselves other than a return smile or greeting.  Which everyone I have seen gives.  Funny how a genuine pleasantry draws a pleasant response.

I would love to know his story but I don't really need to.  He exemplifies the Epic life.  Mining joy from the ordinary and letting others see it.  A Christmas gift indeed.