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.
It is easy to be thankful when everything is going well and life is moving along smoothly. The past eighteen months have been anything but smooth around these parts. I have always found that it is in times of trouble when all of the things to be thankful for become more clear.
To that end, and especially on this American day of Thanksgiving, I would like to say how thankful I am. For the happy conclusion to the the past year or so of difficulty in my family. For the people around me. Irish Redheads. Future Rock Stars. Co-workers. Business partners. Friends near and far. Neighbors. Bartenders. All of the highest calibre.
And for all of you. The Epics who still come by regularly even though I have not been publishing as much as I would have liked. The others in the blogosphere who create fascinating things every day for the diversion of the rest of us.
Thankfulness in the midst of difficulties. So many people are feeling the same way today. I encourage one and all to look around. Whether the ground is smooth or rough. And focus in on the good. The positive. The lovely. The stimulating. The grand. All these things are out there. If we only look for them. Paying attention in this fashion is truly what Epic living is all about. Whether or not you are having a holiday today, please take a moment and indulge in thankfulness. It is the best celebrational feast you can ever have.
Mr. Earnest was, as Anthony Bourdain would say, a cook--not a "Chef". Specializing in the outdoor preparation of various meals such as roasted meats cooked slow over hickory and apple wood. A master of his craft. I first met him about two weeks into a three year idyll in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. As hard as it may now seem to believe, I was not a drinker until then. A top flight legal education cured me of abstinance.
At one point that first evening, emboldened by the curliques of smoke rising into the Virginia stars, I engaged Mr. Earnest in conversation about his cooking techniques and how he loved the area where he grew up. Late, when the fire was burning low, he offered me a taste of bourbon. I loved the southern elixir at first taste. I found out that although a lot of bourbon was made within a few square miles in the state of Kentucky, Virginia had its own brand. Appropriately, Virginia Gentleman.
Over my three year residence, I came to taste a lot more bourbon of various sorts. Ate a lot more great food. Inevitably, the time came to leave. Mr. Earnest gave me a bottle of VG. I gave him a big chefs hat and few other items. Including my far away telephone number. Just in case he ever needed the services of a new lawyer that didn't know anything about anything. He never did.
Time flies. Tastes change. Improve or not. I had not thought of those cookouts nor of that bourbon for quite some time. Due to the intervention of numerous other details some would describe as "growing up". Last week, I was grocery shopping and I passed down the aisle where they display various sauces. The beautiful bottle shown above jumped out at me. Rather expensive but I had to have it. Virginia Gentleman. Bourbon. Chipotle. Hot Sauce. How could I go wrong?
I admit, I had a lot of reservations about it. Lets face it, the history of sauces branded with unassociated manufacturer names is not a happy one. In fact, the odds bet was it would be awful. But the artwork on the label and the memories the name evoked removed any hesitation. The question remained, would it be worth eating?
I am very happy to report that this is the best sauce of its type I have ever tried. It is hot. But smoky hot. With a bite after the bite. A deep flavor. Redolent of crisp Autumn skies, wood smoke, roasted meats. After my first taste, I have enthusiastically applied this sauce to all sorts of foods, always with superb results. I am laying in a case for my personal use.
The best thing about this sauce for me, though, is that it brings back wonderful memories of old friends. Mr. Earnest would certainly approve.
This is one of the American cemeteries at the Marne area battlefields in France. Hundreds of thousands of men died here, on all sides, in 1916. The novelist Paul Dutourd noted that before 1918 there were no war cemeteries in France. Afterward they were everywhere. It was all supposed to end today, at eleven in the morning. Forever.
In America we began with a remembrance of The Armistice. After some years, there was of course more evil. More battles. More cemeteries. We finally changed it to a day to remember the valor and sacrifice of all Veterans. Which, even for people with a particular interest in World War I, is probably a good thing. It keeps us reminded that the sacrifices of World War I, World War II, and all the rest, are part of a continuum. A line which we can all at least pray will one day reach its end.
I am rather proud of my previous Armistice/Veterans Day posts. You can find last year's here.
I was on the road for the first time in a good while last week. While wandering through a major airport en route to an easy connection, I saw a young woman doing the same thing. In a much less easy manner. Obviously short on time. A rather small lady. Almost a girl. With a VERY small baby in a papoose carrier in front of her. Car seat in one hand. Pulling a roller suitcase with the other. The baby peeked out at me from the papoose carrier wide eyed as his mom strode past, no doubt thinking "THIS is the way it is going to be"?
She did not have the air of someone used to today's air travel. Rather of someone thrown into the hurly-burly of a huge airport out of absolute necessity. For the first time. On a tight schedule.
I mentioned that she strode past me. Her small frame totally burdened with the demands of the campaign in which she found herself. But the look on her face. One of undiluted determination. Motherly ferocity in its purist form.
Any father knows this look. Any man who has had the opportunity to observe a woman in action while displaying it, especially for the first time, feels a DNA coded flush of respect that verges upon the martial. That mother and son WERE going to make the connecting flight, with NO loss of necessary materiel and the child WOULD be fine as well. The battle would be won. God help any force obstructing her path.
The focus. The determination. The endless attention to detail. Such is what makes a certain sort of great mother. Of the warrior-princess class. Because there was no mistake about it. This young, disheveled, harried woman had royal blood. Of the most important kind.
In my mind I gave her a courtly bow. A salute, really. From a safe distance. And then I went on my way.
In my early 60s, widower, father and itinerant storyteller. I am a putative jazz singer, poet and novelist, dedicated to mining every minute of life for the veins of pleasure they contain. My motto is "Dum Vivimus, Vivamus"..."While we Live--LET US LIVE".