Skip the Ruskie Vodka

Former Times colleague Pam Wilson recently admitted: “Everything I love is vanishing one miserable wrenching ache at a time. The Oscars are screwed, baseball is screwed, the newspaper is screwed. I don’t know how to entertain myself anymore.”

My answer: One drink at a time, Pammy. And there’s that nice pool table in Montrose…

But don’t order the Russian vodka, for all the obvious reasons. Tito’s is made in Texas, a place that also has some issues. But go with the Tito’s. Toast the good things ahead. Spring. Summer. Fall. Halloween.

There are good things ahead, right? I’m always so hopeful, then disappointed, then hopeful again…then disappointed, then a bit tiddly (as the Brits say). Not too much. But enough.

Speaking of tiddly, I’m finally back from wine country, trying to get through the mail and the post-vacation laundry, trying to reconnect to my abnormal life. There is that moment, midway through the return trip, when I’d do almost anything to get back home. I suppose travelers have felt that way since Moses.


I need my pillow. I need my dog. I need my Clark Griswold water glass.

FYI, in Santa Rosa the TSA checkpoint is one snoozy agent with an X-ray machine  – or is that a sewing machine? Shocking sight. There are no lines, no TSA agents shouting in a burned-out government monotone: “Laptops in a separate bin, folks.”

You wonder how people live like this — no stress, no bumping of elbows and butts as you strip off your belt and shoes. Must be mostly positive. Still, I bet they have issues. Everyone has issues.

For Pam, it’s the loss of baseball and movies. For me, it’s the sad state of the Chicago Bears. And how those pushy pickleballers are taking over the world. Enough!

The good news: There were spare seats on the plane, and the flight attendant brought soft drinks but no booze. More and more, they do less and less for you on airplanes. I guess that’s their new business model.

You’re so right, Pammy. One miserable wrenching ache at a time…

Anyway, we were finally circling over LA. I could tell, because below us was a freeway full of brake lights. And, even aboard a plane, you can hear Kardashians bickering down below. “First you stole my lipstick, now my boytoy!” Stuff like that. LA stuff.

What were all those drivers thinking, stuck in traffic: I hate my boss? I really need to pee? I wonder if my wife is still sneaking money to her mother?

One thing I’m noticing: Life is always better when you’re moving. Sonoma was the first new place I’ve visited in almost two years, and I felt free again. In the supermarket, no one wore masks anymore. That was liberating too.

One day, noticing that my shorts were caked in dog hair, I just went out to the vineyards, pulled them off and shook them furiously, so that a halo of Siberian husky hair surrounded me.

Must’ve been beautiful in the buttery morning light, the mad man in his skivvies waving his shorts …the fluttery halo he’d created, the sense of wine country magic.

A passing farm truck paused. They must’ve thought me in distress, when really I couldn’t have been happier.

They moved on. As I’ve noted, life is better when you’re moving.

It’s nice to be back in my own bed. Felt good to plump the same old pillow I’ve plumped for possibly 20 years. Left to men, we would use the same pillow our entire lives.

It was nice to walk the wolf along the busy boulevard again, to trip over the same old cracks. I feel like Forrest Gump sometimes. I’m not reckless, neither am I methodical. Mostly, I stumble through life in half a halo, dazed.

As I walked White Fang, I noticed a TV news van on the sidewalk ahead. I didn’t want to walk through the shot, but nothing much seemed to be happening. It wasn’t till I was 10 steps away that I realized the reporter was doing a live standup, and that we were probably already in the shot, me and this furry wolf, who travels everywhere with a halo of hair.

Remember Pig-Pen in Peanuts? That’s this dog, with these hummingbirds of floating fur. There was also me, in that old sweatshirt I’ve had since college. Left to men, we would still wear all the clothes we wore in college.

Anyway, by the time I realized I was in the live shot, it was too late to do a U-turn, so that I wouldn’t be in the live shot.

Poor reporter. In his earpiece, some stressed-out producer was probably yelling, “WHO’S THE (*&#)&*% HILLBILLY WALKING THE COYOTE? AND WHAT’S WITH ALL THAT (*&#)&*% FUR? ARE THEY BOTH SHEDDING?”

“Everywhere you go in LA, gas prices are going up-up-up, like here at this station…” the reporter was saying as we scooted quickly through his shot.

Like I said, Forrest Gump. A little goofy, a little blitzed by everyday life. But eager, you know. Almost ebullient, if that’s the right word for a goofy, happy, confused dude who could never take a hint from girls.

Now spring is at hand, the season of hearts and heavy hints. Suzanne, where are you? Hey Catty Cakes, you wanna dance with Pop-Pop?

Soon, the clocks will change. Pollen will coat the window sills. The sun will blast the flowers, turn them into hard candy. Boy and girls will drop easy pop flies.

As the old Eskimo proverb says: Yesterday is ashes. Tomorrow is green wood. Only today does the fire burn brightly.

Burn, baby. Burn.

The final tally is in: 120 folks donated more than $10,000 to the parent ed program at the Presbyterian Church. I am blown away by your generosity, and will reward you soon with hikes and a free drink. Please stay tuned for details. Hugs

7 thoughts on “Skip the Ruskie Vodka

  1. Another gem of shared musings and verbal pearls. You make life’s daily doings seem important and magical. Thanks for making us stop and pay attention. I hope Suzanne is. PS I hope you are planning to frame that pic of Catty Cakes with the cracker. It’s a keeper.

  2. Chris, thanks so much for bring such great rays of sunshine into my morning. You words bring joy to my heart. I’ve posted on FB and shared with all my friends.
    Dude you are Bitchen.

  3. Fine, Sunshine, but your Tito’s may be aglow. Radiated. It’ll be a nice compliment to the cloud of protective wolf hair. See Dr. Wolf’s full PBS interview and analysis of Russia. This is just a clip. In part, not only is Putin protecting the ethnic Russians and securing the US biolabs (Victoria Nuland now admits in a Senate hearing our labs are there on Russia’s border) but he’s also securing Chernobyl and multiple other nuclear assets. Oh, and the thing about Nazis and the Azov Battalion is true and not de minimus. So, if we don’t want the plutonium falling into angry hands, and Gates is looking a wee bit cranky lately, let’s let the Russians secure the threats. The Azovs are the ones killing their own people, not the Russians. Love, Plum. Or Apricot. I can’t remember which fruit I am.

  4. As always, lovely and true. And like you, I’m a fan of the hopeful/disappointed school. Every once in a while life rewards hope and for those many times it doesn’t, at least we’ve been miserable a little less of the time than we would have been.

  5. It’s opinion, taste, and fusions that drive our liquid dreams. Isn’t it ?
    Vodka has always seemed heavy handed to me, unlike the sugary lyricism of an Irish whiskey (think the sound of a cello, think Jamison Black), or that lovely succinct juniper ping (think British astringency, think Bombay in the planer glass) that sings in the roof of your mouth on hot G&T summer evening. Vodka has a brutish neutrality, an almost oily indifference, that has been necessarily tarted up with a bewildering variety of perfumey flavors and pungent herbs in an attempt to disguise its lack of character. It appears that in many trendy watering holes you can sample the latest vodka infusion ( think disguise of the week) and never get hit by the same cover up twice.

    I fail to see how making it in Texas—that vast land with so many suspect character definitions and ambiguous motivations of its own—would improve its essential weighty vapidity. In all its current flavor-of-the-week desperateness, it still seems as estranged from nuance and memorable substance as reality TV. I, for one, would never sit at the end of a forty foot table drinking this with some malevolent Cossack with a similar bloodless sense of taste, their distance from me indicative of the remoteness of spirit therein contained.

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