Thursday, January 24, 2013

The (Frankenberry) Wine Tasting Festival

Following the humidity of oppressive New Jersey summers, I eagerly welcome the cool, crisp, sun drenched days of autumn with open arms.  When October weekends arrive in all of their glory, sitting around the house and doing nothing is simply against the least according to the "Lisa Weinstein and Family" official play book.

That is why, on a glorious Indian summer Sunday morning, I scanned the weekend section of the newspaper, desperate for some kind of unique, exciting, breathtaking experience that would allow me to soak in the sunshine!  I flipped the pages again and again, only to come up empty handed.  All of the exciting events were either too far, too crowded, too expensive, or too boring for my 15-year old daughter Melissa.

Fortunately, Melissa received an invitation to hang out with her group of friends she has affectionately dubbed her "nerd herd".

(Don't laugh!  As I've told of those nerds will grow up to be the next Bill Gates.)

After dropping her off, Bob and I resumed our "What should we do today?" conversation."

Me: "What should we do today?"

Bob: "I don't know, what do you want to do?"

Me: "What do you want to do?"

Bob: "It doesn't matter, what do you want to do?"

Me: (Flipping through the paper again): "Well, there's a wine tasting festival."

Bob: "We don't drink wine."

Me: "True, so what do you want to do?"

Bob: "I don't know, what do you want to do?"

Me: "What do you want to do?

We finally decided to go to the wine festival just so we could stop asking each other pointless questions.

Now I must explain in advance that the extent of our knowledge about wine consists of the following fact....

It comes from grapes.

At least I think it does.

Seriously...babies know more about wine than we do.  Dogs know more about wine than we do.  Cats know more about wine than we do.  Even inanimate objects know more about wine than we do.

Yet there we were, Mr. and Mrs. "Wine Connoisseur" Weinstein, walking ever-so-confidently into an outdoor wine tasting festival!

For the sake of saving money, Bob decided to forget about his "I hate to share because I'll get sick" germ phobia as we forked over the $25 for only one wine tasting glass instead of two.  The friendly lady who took our money also handed us a pencil and a menu so that we could check off all of the fine, fancy wines that we would no doubt (she hoped) be purchasing after our tasting.  Clearly she had no idea that the closest we get to drinking a substance made from fruit is my daily intake of prune juice each evening.  (Works wonders for irregularity!)

Bob and I took the glass, the menu, and the pencil and walked onto the fair grounds where we were greeted by at least 25 tents featuring the best wines from local vineyards.  (I didn't even know southern New Jersey had vineyards!)

Wine, wine, everywhere was wine.  Tempting our taste buds with flavors like peach and tangerine and plum and strawberry and blueberry and cranberry and Frankenberry, and Boo Berry, and Count Chocula, etc.

Undaunted, Bob and I drew on our 15 minutes of extensive wine tasting experience and immediately set to task.  Our professional strategy?  Ask each vineyard representative for a sample of their sweetest tasting wine.

I'd hold out my glass, they'd pour the wine.  I'd take a small sip, swish it around my mouth as if I'd be doing this for 15 minutes years, then hand the glass to Bob, who'd repeat my actions with the professionalism and poise of a wine tasting pro!

After swallowing our sips, we enthusiastically asked for more wine reached for the basket full of free pretzels, grabbed handfuls of the salty snacks and unceremoniously stuffed our faces.  Yes, we were classy wine tasting professionals.

Onward to tent number two!

This time, Bob had the privilege of the first sip, at which he responded by forming an expression on his face reminiscent of Lucille Ball's classic Vitameatavegamin, then turned and spit the stuff onto the ground.

"Bob!" I admonished.  "You can't do that!  Someone will see you!"

He shrugged off his actions, and stuffed his face with more pretzels.

Time for tent number three!

As I took the first sip, I stared in horror at my husband.  Seems I was about to exhibit the same shocking behavior as Bob, but at least I had the courtesy to make it to the trash can before I spit the stuff out of my mouth.

"Lisa!" he yelled.  "You can't do that!!!"

And so on it went.  For all 25 tents.  (We were determined to get our money's worth.)

Sip, swish, swallow, stuff your face with pretzels!

Sip, swish, spit it in the trash.

About an hour later, we staggered to the car.  Hardly drunk since we emptied most of the wine before it went down, we still felt a bit woozy.

I think we'll wait for the ice cream tasting festival before we venture out again!

I love getting feedback.  If you like my stories, please tell me in the comments below!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Adventures in Supermarket Shopping

It is Sunday afternoon, and, as if by instinct, as we inch closer towards the one o'clock hour, every resident within a 4,925 mile radius of my southern New Jersey town descends upon our local supermarket.

Why, you ask?

The answer.

I simply don't know.

Perhaps they are compelled to join the throngs of their brethren by forces unknown.  Perhaps they believe it is the law of the land that their refrigerator can only be restocked during this small weekend window of opportunity.  Or perhaps, like my husband Bob and me, they suffer from supermarket stupidity, which is the only rational reason I can provide for our insistence on making this horrid, insufferable, weekly pilgrimage every Sunday afternoon.

In preparation for my journey, I make a list.  When I arrive at the supermarket, I ignore items that are not on my list. I place items on my list in my cart.  I pay for items on my list.  I bring the items on my list home. I put the items on my list away.  End of story.

Bob's version of a trip to the supermarket, however, is quite different from mine.  You see, any opportunity to plant his feet in a land where 1,973 brands of ketchup await the eager consumer is an adventure that borders on a religious experience.   With unbearable patience, he slowly, carefully, cautiously wheels the cart down each and every aisle, scanning the shelves with meticulous care, lest he miss one of the spectacular, super, special sales!

On a recent trip to the land of plenty, we began the journey as usual, in the produce section, then made our way to the deli.  As our cart bore the literal fruits of our labor, we turned the corner in preparation for our approach to the toiletries aisle.  After procuring some razors, contact solution, and shampoo, we turned yet again to the cereal aisle, at which point Bob absentmindedly looked at me and asked, "Do we need ground meat?"

"No," I explained.  "I am going to get chicken, crab cakes, turkey meatballs, and pasta, so we don't need ground meat."

My response seemed to satisfy his curiosity, so we traveled onward.

We passed the soda aisle.  We passed the canned goods aisle.  We passed the pet food aisle.  We passed the frozen vegetables aisle.

Then Bob turned to me once again and asked, in all seriousness.  "Do we need ground meat?"

"No," I responded, deciding to refrain from yelling at him and giving him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he didn't hear my explanation the first time he asked.

Onward we trudged.  We passed the paper goods.  We passed the dairy products.  We passed the bread aisle.  We stopped in the meat aisle.

I held my breath, for a knew that a question was about to form on my husband's lips, and I knew what that question was going to be.  And sure enough, he uttered the following words.........

"Do we need ground meat?"


"Bob," I said, struggling to keep my voice below 3,000 decibels.  "If you were you, you would drive you crazy!"

He shook his head in silence, wondering why I always get so worked up at the supermarket.

"Do we need cat food," he asked.


"Are you sure?"


"Do we need laundry detergent?" he asked.


"Are you sure?"


"Do we need more soup?" he asked.


"Are you sure?"

"Bob, we have enough soup to last through a nuclear war!"

"I need more tea," he said.

"Bob, we have 30 boxes of tea in the cabinet."

"But I drink it, and it's on sale."


Four hours later, after I replaced nearly every item my husband tried to sneak into the cart, and after maneuvering around harried young mothers with screaming babies, harried middle-aged mothers with texting teens in tow, and harried elderly folks causing traffic jams with their motorized carts, we finally made our way to the check out line.  At this stage in our journey, 7,822 people were waiting in front of us, while a sickeningly sweet cashier read the fine print on EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY COUPON EVER PRINTED  to make sure that shoppers did not DARE sneak only one bottle of orange juice through the conveyor belt when the coupon CLEARLY stated that the .20 discount only applied if you purchased two bottles of orange juice.  And lord help us if a brave shopper attempted to procure the 16 ounce jar of peanut butter when the discount clearly warned that you must buy the 64 ounce jar or you will perish!

With our wallets much, much lighter thanks to the 400 rolls of toilet paper, 200 packages of trash bags, and 14,000 bottles of diet coke Bob insisted we needed, we made our way home, swearing that next time, we'd go on Saturday, or at least later in the day on Sunday.

Oh who am I Sunday at 1 pm, we'll be back, ready to be tortured once again.  Either that, or we'll starve...which just might be the better option!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

To my wonderful readers, this week I am running a favorite post that first appeared last winter.  Enjoy!

My Husband Tried to Kill Me (not really)

Several years ago, my husband Bob tried to kill me.  No, he didn’t employ a hired gun from the cast of the Sopranos.  He secretly used a much more subtle, much less noticeable, and yes, much less incriminating method to help me meet my demise. 

I’ll explain.

Step into the time machine with me and travel back to the year 2000.  Bob and I needed a change of scenery, a change of pace, a break from our tedious routine.  So, we arranged for the lucky grandparents to spend a week with their three year old granddaughter Melissa, and hopped a cross country flight to the place where Tony Bennett left his heart.  Yes, The Golden Gate Bridge, Fishermen’s Wharf, old fashioned trolley cars, and the world’s most crooked street welcomed this east coast couple with open arms.

Bob and I immediately embraced San Francisco’s fine dining, beautiful scenery, fascinating history, quaint shopping galleries, and multi-cultural neighborhoods.  However, on the second day of our vacation, I started to feel a bit tired.  A slow growing, throbbing sensation gripped the back of my head until finally, on day three, the pain could no longer be ignored.  Reluctantly, I asked Bob if he had any Tylenol.

Never one to disappoint, Bob pulled out a prescription bottle filled to the brim with pills of assorted shapes and sizes.  A year earlier, he had been diagnosed with diabetes.  Fortunately, Bob took his medication diligently, resulting in normal blood sugar levels with each three month doctor’s visit.  Numerous drugs kept Bob healthy, and he carried them all in one prescription bottle, the contents of which now sat in his hand.  He pulled out two Tylenol and gave them to me.  I gulped then down, gave him a kiss of thanks, and we continued on our merry way.

The next morning dawned with my head still throbbing, so I requested more Tylenol from my husband, a pharmacy at the ready!  This day’s journey began with a trip to the rental car agency where we procured a vehicle that would take us north into wine country, a picturesque area turned brown and arid as a result of an unusual California heat wave.  As the temperature reached upwards of 104 degrees Fahrenheit, my head continued to throb.  The wine tasting didn’t help matters.  I looked at my husband and feebly asked for more Tylenol.  

However, this time, he did not respond to my request, but looked away, afraid to meet my steady gaze. 

“What’s wrong?” I inquired, getting slightly suspicious.

“Oh nothing, nothing really, it’s no big deal,” he said.

“What, just tell me,” I requested.

“Remember, this really isn’t that big a deal,” he insisted.

“Ok, so just tell me!” I demanded.

“Well, you know how I’ve been giving you Tylenol and your headaches have not been getting better?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I replied, stating the obvious.

“Well, it’s because I’ve been giving you glucophage by mistake.”

Now, I should pause here in my little tale to explain that glucophage is a medication given to people with diabetes to help control the amount of sugar in their blood.  If you read the fine print on the prescription bottle, it clearly warns: 

"Do not use to get rid of your non-diabetic wife’s headaches."

So at this point, my rational, logical brain took over and I reacted very calmly.  I immediately concluded that, thanks to ingesting glucaphage, my hours left on the planet were, indeed, numbered.

“YOU GAVE ME WHAT?” I shouted at my frightened husband, who stood quaking in his boots, terrified of my reaction.  “HOW COULD YOU DO THAT?  ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME!”

Needless to say, I lived to tell the tale.  The incident did, however, put a minor kink in our well planned vacation.  Seems Bob had filled his prescription bottle with just the right amount of pills to last during the week we would be away.  Since I had now taken four pills intended for him, we rapidly concluded that he would not have enough to last until we got home.  Forget about what would happen to me for taking diabetes medication I wasn’t supposed to take, we were now more concerned about what would happen to Bob for not taking diabetes medication he was supposed to take.

Fortunately for us, we owned a cat.  No, the cat did not fly across the country to bring Bob his diabetes medication.  But the cat did need to eat every day, and, thankfully, a gracious neighbor had agreed to make sure the feline didn’t starve.  This meant that this same gracious neighbor had a key to our house, and could go in, find Bob’s diabetes medication, and fed ex the pills to our hotel in San Francisco, which she did!

In the end, our neighbor saved the day, and neither one of us met our maker during our trip to San Francisco.  However, I did learn a valuable lesson. Tony Soprano’s got nothing on my Bob!

If you like my stories please feel free to tell me in the comments below!  Thanks for visiting!