Madame Pommery

It takes vision and a will and a woman, to find a way to success in Champagne, France.

A champagne toast to Madame Veuve Pommery (Widow Pommery), the greatest Champagne widow of the 19th century, who steered the world’s taste in sparkling wine from sweet to dry – a taste that became liquid gold.

Madame Veuve Pommery, Bouzy, France

Pommery was born Jeanne Alexandrine Louise Melin in 1819. She married Alexandre Pommery, from a prominent wool family in Reims. They had two children about 17 years apart, and it was the imminent birth of the second child in 1856 that prompted a just-retired Alexandre to enter the wine business with Narcisse Greno. Alexandre Pommery died in 1858.

Madame was 38.

“I have decided to carry on with the business and take the place of my husband,” said the widow Pommery. For “heath reasons”, Narcisse Greno retired from the business in 1860.

She adopted the motto, Qualite d’abord, quality first, then changed the direction of her wines from red to white. Having been schooled in England she understood that the English preferred wines less sweet. Also, she modeled her winery as an estate to cater to a growing flock of American and English visitors to the French wine regions. When rumors that her winery was on shaky financial grounds, she purchased Jean-Francois Millet’s “The Gleaners” for 300,000 francs, with the proviso that it would be donated to the people of France at her death. The gesture endured her to the public and captured the notice of the press.

The above statue dedicated to the memory of Madame Pommery is in Bouzy, France, cute name n’est-ce pas?

Bouzy is unique, since hard-headed winegrowers here make a non-bubbly Bouzy Rouge, a Pinot Noir that is expensive because, it is counter-intuitive in Champagne. There is also the Pommery Brut Royal, Variety: 35% chardonnay, 35% pinot noir and 30% pinot meunier.

Oooh la la la, c’est magnifique!

bouzy france winery grape vines on a hillside


Always stay humble and kind

always stay humble and kind pillow, the little birdie

When your britches don’t fit and your hat is too small, when you got a big house on the beach, and a nice car that people admire, when everyone call you sir, and they step aside as you walk through the door,  when you get where you are going, and you forget what it was like to begin…,

Remember what Mamma said, “Always stay humble and kind.”

Mamma said so many things. Go to church, visit Grandpa, it will never be wasted time. Give a helping hand to the next person in line. Always stay humble and kind.

Tim McGraw took Mamma’s words and turned it into a beautiful ballad guaranteed to make you cry.

Enough said.



The Little Birdie took mamma’s words and put them on a throw pillow and now you know what the words mean.

Robyns Lake House

always stay humble and kind pillow, the little birdie

Don’t stop

Oz just finished running the Plumlee Trails at Pawnee Prairie Park here in Emerald City for the umpteenth thousand time. It is mid-August and mid-afternoon. The heat and the humidity make for a steambath. Oz does not heed the warning, “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go run in the mid-day sun.” There was one lone horse out on the trails, otherwise Oz had the dusty paths full of branches, stickers, and holes all to himself.

When you come to a fork in the trail, take it, says Yogi Berra.

The park trails are dedicated to Marsh and Irene Plumlee who inspired a place that equestrians, joggers, and walkers could share. The park parallels Cowskin Creek from Tyler to Kellogg, a few miles as the crow flies but dozens of one takes every turn and loop.

Thanks to Marsh and Irene, Oz has had many a good run, but he is not ready to stop yet. He is just going to take a rest.

This way to the egress

Yogi Berra might have said, when life gives you confusing and conflicting directions go with it. His actual words were these, when you come to a fork in the road take it.

The point to me is to do something, anything, Don’t just stand there waiting. Good advice but incomplete.

PT Barnum, the greatest showman on earth, put up a sign saying, this way to the egress. The people at his show thought this an exotic bird, but actually it was a way to the exit. Don’t you think it’s time to start thinking before it’s too late?

What became of the monk?



The song, the song, I can’t get rid of the song

You know how a tune works its way into your brain and constantly repeats itself. For Oz, this happened with the amusing diddy, Animal Fair. If you don’t know it, it goes like this:

I went to the animal fair,
The birds and the beasts were there,
The big baboon by the light of the moon
Was combing his auburn hair,
The monkey bumped the skunk,
And sat on the elephant’s trunk;
The elephant sneezed and fell to his knees,
And that was the end of the monk,
(: The monk, the monk, the monk:)

white fur baboon


What became of the monk at the animal fair?

There are other versions and variations of lyrics, but I like this one best. The image of a big baboon by the light of the moon combing his auburn hair seems hilarious. Not as funny as the site of an elephant who sneezes and falls on his knees, doing who knows what to the monk, the monk, who in the heck is the monk?

After the paroxysms of laughter, curiosity seizes Oz. Who and why would anyone write such nonsensical verses? And, the monk, the monk, who in the heck is the monk?

The lyrics to the tune first find print in 1898 in the Chicago Record. The occasion is the landing of American troops in Cuba during the Spanish American War. In preparation for the landing, the troops are on deck and lying about, passing the time, singing. The meaning was, I am sure, lost to those who belted out the words. It was nevertheless mesmerizing and uplifting, appropriate for soldiers wondering what is going to happen tomorrow, what is going to become of me?

The tune must be old. It must be an English doggerel, for the refrain constantly asks what became of the monk.

The monk?

The monk I suppose was the monk that lived in the abbeys across England in the time of King Henry VIII. King Henry we know had six wives, one was not enough because he wanted a son and a son was not what he got until he married Jane Seymour, and having done her duty to king and country, Jane died. The monk, the monk, you ask, what became of the monk? To marry his wives, Henry dissolved the Catholic Church in England and became head of his own church, the Church of England.

By 1542, this “Dissolution” led to the closure of all monasteries and convents in England, and children everywhere asking, “What became of the monk?” Henry himself, exhausted by his marital efforts, died at the age of 55, supposedly uttering these last words:

“Monks! Monks! Monks! What became of the monks?”


king henry viii, hans holbein

The answer to the monks whereabouts

The answer is that most monks kept quiet or simply moved away. Those that spoke out about high-handed Harry were pilloried or executed like London’s Carthusian Martyrs.

In 1886, 18 of these monks were beatified by Pope Leo XIII, perhaps leading to the reemergence of the doggerel, and the occasion for the Chicago Record to print the lyrics.

Requiem for a Heavyweight

“Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.”
― Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Chefs are fond of hyperbole, so they can certainly talk that way. But on the whole, I think they probably have a more open mind than most people. Anthony Bourdain

anthony bourdain, looking at the ocean
July 27, 2017: Anthony Bourdain on the ferry to Vashon Island while filming Parts Unknown in Seattle, Washington on July 27, 2017. (photo by David Scott Holloway)


In the restaurant world, Anthony Bourdain was a heavyweight. Not that he would says so. Rather, he would say that the art of creating food and serving it was perfected by others. He just wrote about it, spoke about it, and shared it. And it was in the sharing, that the world became friends with Anthony.

He truly loved life, it seemed. So, his departure leaves us stunned.

On cherche les mots et n’en trouve aucun.

Long ago, I stopped believing anything is strange, just different, and yet…

It is strange, one thinks, for one so curious as Anthony was, to take one’s life, and, by doing so, end the quest to discover what life is all about. Or was it, that Anthony had long ago, tired of the Sisyphean task, of searching and questioning, and knowing that one is no closer than before. Life is a journey, they say. Did he tire of that journey? Did he discover something he was searching for and having found it, could rest?

One looks for answers, and there is none. Anthony Bourdain took his own life in a hotel in France, and one asks why?

We’ll never know. He has departed for parts unknown.


Memorial Day

(To Departmental Ditties)

I have eaten your bread and salt.
⁠I have drunk your water and wine.
The deaths ye died I have watched beside,
⁠And the lives ye led were mine.

Was there aught that I did not share
⁠In vigil or toil or ease,—
One joy or woe that I did not know,
⁠Dear hearts across the seas?

I have written the tale of our life
⁠For a sheltered people’s mirth,
In jesting guise—but ye are wise,
⁠And ye know what the jest is worth.
Rudyard Kipling, 1885


Memorial Day is America’s tribute to those who gave their lives that we could live our lives free from tyranny.


Especially to those whose sacrifices and names are known only unto God.

And what is there to remember of those whose names are not known, whose deeds not written down? It is enough to know the sacrifice was great, greater than we will ever know.

a moment of change

Why don’t we do a moment of action? Why don’t we do a moment of change? Kelly Clarkson

There have been too many moments of silence this year, at too many schools, for too many students, and too many teachers, for too many lives lost senselessly.

At the 2018 Billboard Music Awards Sunday, television viewers were prepared for the traditional recognition of the tragic school shooting in Texas two days earlier. Instead, Host Kelly Clarkson called for a moment of action, a moment of change.

Oz tries to stay in the background, off stage, and out of the limelight. Some subjects are taboo, touching off visceral reactions, even rage. Gun control is one of those.

But as Kelly says, it is time, long past time, to do something and change the course America is on.

Please, won’t you be part of the change?




Warriors’ Dreams

A wilderness of summer grass
hides all that remains
of warriors’ dreams.
Matsuo Bashō

all that remains of warriors’ dreams

Setting out on foot in the spring of 1689 from Edo with his disciple Kawai Sora, Matsuo Bashō (松尾 芭蕉, 1644–1694) traveled some 1,500 miles, for 5 months in the north of Japan. Along the way he became ill and contemplated dying far from home. Recovering, Basho and his companion proceeded to Hiraizumi to view the spot where the legendary samurai Minamoto Yoshitsune of the Heian Period (794 to 1185) had fallen.

There Basho composed the above poem.

the stuff of dreams

This thought is echoed by William Shakespeare in The Tempest, through Prospero, Act IV, Scene One.

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.


a field of dried grass

Basho returned to Edo where he lived another 5 years. In the summer of 1694, he made one last trip before arriving in Osaka. There, he became sick with an illness in his stomach and died peacefully in bed, surrounded by his disciples. His last know poem follows:

falling sick on a journey
           my dream goes wandering
                          over a field of dried grass