Wine, Movies, and Baseball!


These three things add so much beauty to the world… And when you combine them??

The wine and film pairing for this week is A League of Their Own with Mas de la Dame (Farm of the Lady).

Farm of the Lady winery? Obviously I needed a strong, women-centered picture to pair with that. There were so many to choose from. So, which one?

Really all I had to do was think about my fiancée and her all-time favorite movie. Then it clicked! Just like when she entered my life, everything got easier and started to make sense.

This winery in Southern France is run by two women, Anne and Caroline, great-granddaughters of its founder. Kit and Dotty, the main characters in the film, are baseball playing sisters that so happened to have grown up on a farm.

Before baseball players make it to the Big Leagues, they have to play for smaller teams, in smaller towns. This is know as the “Farm System”.

Mas de la Dame is located in a part of Provence, France that is so gorgeous, it’s said to have inspired works from Vincent Van Gogh. I’d like to think even Van Gogh would admit that a perfectly green baseball field illuminating under the sun is a work of art itself.

The red wine that these ladies provide is not exactly light or delicate. As my co-worker Mackenzie compliments it, “It’s got some of that barnyard in it!”  Kit and Dotty came straight from the barnyard to the baseball field. There is nothing light nor delicate about the way these sisters play ball.

Be it a wonderful wine, fantastic film, or glorious game 7 of the World Series, they can all take our breath away. Just don’t listen to Coach Dugan (Tom Hanks) when he says, “There’s no crying in baseball!” Talk to any Cub fan or fan of this movie, and you’ll know that simply isn’t true!

This Carole King song should take you back to a time when ladies ruled the baseball diamond.

Music Is a Language

Zach- uke
The Master Player

Music really is a language, so when is it a good age to learn this new language?

A few weeks ago we hinted about this by referring to this wonderful TED video by Victor Wooten .  Please take a few and watch it. It’s fun and worth your time.

In this talk and other studies, we learn that we should approach music naturally and early, just like any other language. But how early?

It  is scientifically proven that playing a musical instrument increases the coordination of both hands and other interhemispheric functions (between the two sides of the brain). This is coordinated by the connections in the center of our brain, the Corpus Callosum.

Music practice also increases the white matter structure in young brains and promotes greater plasticity.

So, the brain becomes more coordinated, larger, and more flexible! What’s not to love?!

So, it should help with language, math, and science later on!

So, let’s start at 18 months!

Well … that’s a little early for anything too heavy, but not for experiencing the sounds and the feel of an instrument as my little grandson is doing in the photo above. And don’t even try to take that uke away from him! Ha!

But you might start music lessons at 4, or even 3, if your child enjoys it and can make progress without getting frustrated. In other words, if you can keep it fun.

Definitely by 5 or 6 you should be good. It will require patience and love and fun, though, at any age. And you will need an inspiring teacher, (such as my wife. Ha!) She already has 45 individual private students so this is not a plug; she would kill me :).

She knows how to keep it at their level and to keep it natural and fun. I think she becomes one of them, actually!

The lessons, and your personal and caring involvement, will gradually help your child increase his or her memory and attention span along the way, too!  

Check out this great article on music lessons and this very interesting study in the Journal of Neuroscience on the development of your child’s brain with music.

Help us all to speak and enjoy the powerful language of music!

One of my personal favorites when I taught grade school music was Raffi. His music was basic and fun and totally engaging for the young ones!

Stay with us for future conversations on the benefits of music for special needs children and adults.


Consider What You Think!


“When you read, don’t just consider what the author thinks, consider what you think.” — Thom Schulman, Dead Poets’ Society

This was a way for Prof. Keating (Robin Williams) to tell his students that they should study the great works from all time, and consider their value. But at the same time, value what they consider about those great works.

Every work of art, whether it comes to us through words, music, or pictures means something different to us all. And isn’t that the whole point?

We know the people that read this blog are of the considerately thinking kind. Everything that we share says something to us. What does it say to you? That, quite honestly, is the real question. So tell us…anytime!

Who knows what book, what painting, or what song might illuminate you? Maybe ‘Illumination’ by Jennifer Thomas could be a start.

National Spanish Paella Day!

I had my first taste of Spanish Paella at the beautiful home of my best Cuban friends, Tino and Sylvia Mendez. It was an amazing treat, and I don’t think that I’ve had better Paella at any restaurant since!
Paella originated in its present form in the 1800’s in Valencia on the Eastern coast of Spain. Made with rice, garlic, onions, saffron, olive oil, often shrimp, scallops, mussels, chicken, veggies and many other ingredients particular to the chef, it is cooked in a flat pan over a fire. The rice is full-bodied and an amazing golden yellow color.
You may never reach the level of Sylvia’s cuisine, but you can’t help but enjoy this dish on National Spanish Paella Day, however you might make it.
But remember!  Do not stir it all together. Let it simmer, and crackle. PLACE the scallops, ARRANGE the shrimp and whatever else you might desire. And you can add your favorite Spanish wine to make it a true party!
Come to think of it, this is a great ALTERNATE image for immigration to the Americas. We were once called a Melting Pot, as we “melted together” into a homogeneous whole with a common culture. Maybe now we can be a Paella, where we arrange ourselves in peace and order and share the flavor, but not lose our individual nature in the process!
Here is a wonderful musical example of this happening in music –  Sting – Buena Vista Social Club!
Enjoy National Spanish Paella Day!

It’s OK to be Indecisive!! I think..

“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” — Bertrand Russell

The design of this blog is to attempt to provide some samples of truth, not to call people stupid. However, the Nobel Prize winner makes a great point. He is simply trying to tell those of us that question things and may perhaps be a tad indecisive from time to time because we are weighing our options that it’s okay!

Russell was a philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, social critic, and political activist. This meant that his studies were in some areas of certainty, but many areas of uncertainty.

Uncertainty is a necessity of a thinking person. I’m not 100 percent I should hit the publish button for this post because the quote calls some people stupid and has a funny sounding word in it.

When an individual displays overconfidence and self-importance, it doesn’t mean that they are any smarter than those who have a little doubt and some self-consciousness. It’s quite the opposite, according to Bertrand.

Continue weighing your thoughts before diving into something. Continue to doubt until things make sense to you. This is how change happens and it’s a good sign of your intellect.

Check out The Traveler by Paul Cardall. It might help in figuring out which way to go.

Now, should I post this?? Hmmm….

Rose Sunday

Today Roses in the Alley and much of the world celebrates Rose Sunday, also known as Laetare Sunday and Refreshment Sunday! It is day of rejoicing, and a day of hope, resurrection and light! 

So, we present you with 14 roses, 12 of which are flowers and 2 are wines. (You knew we had to put the rose’ wines in! ). 

These are free images, and you might send your favorite one to your Mom, because in ancient times, this was also Mothering Sunday! And comment to us which one is your favorite.

Have a joyous day!

Click on any of the rose pics below for a larger image that you can fully see and send. Don’t forget to comment your favorite on Facebook.