I should have put this on the stereo. Well, you always think of these things later.
A bit before Christmas, I got a call from someone who wanted to know if I was home to take a delivery that day. Fortunately, working from my house, I am generally home to take deliveries, although Federal Express has a stunning track record of arriving in my absence when there is a package that needs to be signed for. (I think FedEx and I are going to end up in the MMA ring eventually, after the month’s supply of cat food that someone stole off my front steps because the deliveryman couldn’t be arsed to put it inside the porch as directed; then there was the sixty pound crate of kitty litter that blocked me in when I tried to leave the house… but I digress.)
So I answered the door a bit after seven in the evening, and there was Vanessa, looking about twelve (I noticed more and more that everyone looks about twelve), holding out a beribboned gift bag containing two bottles and telling me that it was a gift from… well, from the miraculous Az.
(Click that link. You know you want to.)
See, Az is one-half the reason I am even on here still after nearly ten years. No one has heard from Stiletto, the blogger who tempted me onto WordPress, in a dog’s age, but it was Az who caught my attention on the also defunct blog of one Frontier Former Editor, a journalist and aviation fan who pun-wrestled me to a draw in a contest with a World War II Luftwaffe theme. There she was, represented by a blog icon of a black kitty — her familiar of blessed memory, Azar — kibitzing and well, a kitty, and the rest is history.
Since then I’ve gotten me a live-in Engineer who’s a culinary genius, and she’s built an astounding business leading travelers around the tapas bars of Seville, and become a dear-God certified sherry educator, meaning that when I asked what we should eat with the sleek twin bottles of Palo Cortado and Manzanilla, I got an e-mail screed that took me three days to read through at leisure. And will have to go back to.
So here is what we had for New Year’s Eve:
For the Manzanilla, Marcona almonds, spiralized vegetable bird’s nests, and marinated olives;
For the Palo Cortado, deviled eggs, mushrooms stuffed with herbed (out of my front yard) goat cheese laced with port, vermouth sec and garlic.
Everything else at random. The Brussels sprouts were best with the Palo Cortado. Yes, Brussels sprouts are edible.
We ate divinely and re-watched the hilarious and wonderful Man from U.N.C.L.E. remake and entered the New Year with, nearly, hope. Because I have had Post-Trump Stress Disorder for over a year and it has been hard to hope, this night’s experience was not small.
And not least, it convinces me that whatever anyone else says about the Internet for good or ill, the Web ranks as one of the Machineries of Joy so termed by Ray Bradbury in a short story published when I was ten; an invention of human cleverness that can connect the lonely, exalt the spirit, expand the human family and its reach into the cosmos.
I believe it is the golden Azahar’s birthday tomorrow, or where she is, today. I raise my glass. Full of Oloroso, which she taught me about last year.
Bis hundert zwanzig.
And because I can’t go for five minutes without thinking about opera, here’s Manzanilla in music: