"If it is Worth Doing - Then it's Worth Overdoing !!"

"If it is Worth Doing - Then it's Worth Overdoing !!"

Sep 8, 2013

Red Wine from Portugal is Better than You Think

We don't see a lot of red wine from Portugal in the US (save the infamous Port wines) and that's a shame, as they do grow some awesome red table wines. Much of it unfortunately never sees the shores of another country; being consumed in and around the nation. I had some tasting experiences with a single grape of theirs, the Touriga National in a few bottles I did manage to find and they were fantastic. Alas of late I have started to see some more of their wines locally and can report on one find here from the producer Quinta do Crasto from the Douro Valley in northern Portugal where Port wine is also produced.

This producer makes a dozen or so different wines and I have bottles of both their 2009 Reserve Old Vine blend and a much younger (2011) simple red blend. Since I have only tasted the reserve, we will all have to wait on the other one.

The 2009 old vine reserve wine comprises grapes from 30 or more different varietals - a field blend as they call it locally. This means they grow as many as 30 different grapes all within the same vine rows and harvest them all at the same time; with some grapes being slightly over-ripe, some just right, and a few under-ripe. It makes for a more interesting and challenging wine. Crasto indicates in their website, that the vines are 70years or older, hopefully meaning you will taste a more intensely flavored wine.

What we got in this gem, was initially a very intense nose of rich dark berries, oak and vanilla. The wine was initially jammy and rich on the palate, but after awhile mellowed out and presented you with a more subtle rich and harmonious wine. Little tannin in this wine, but flavors lingered on and on after you finished it. Price-wise we got it for about $20-25 a bottle on sale; prices online suggest it can be as high as $35+, so keep an eye out.

If I recall correctly, this wine got on the order of 89 points by two respected reviewers and I would agree. Overall it was a nice pleasant drink with enough complexity to make it a very good wine. I would consider getting more if I can continue to find it a good price.

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Aug 29, 2013

Love Stats Like this - Correlation of Traffic Fatalities and Football Day Games

Who comes up with these absurd relationships. Of course I can't help but look and study them. In this case there are some curious significant ones - scary. Guess I won't drive in some cities on game day this fall.

For better closeup of this chart go to:

Thoughts anyone?

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Aug 28, 2013

Three Wine Suggestions for Last Gasp of Summer

So the Summer, short as it is begins its closing with the coming Labor Day weekend here in the US. Up here in Boston, Labor Day weekend is almost invariably a major point in changing temperatures and sunlight making it all feel like Summer is indeed over. But alas, before we give in to our sadness we must partake of the sunlight one last time and enjoy the weekend.

I offer the following three wines - all whites yet again - for your weekend consideration. This Summer I have consumed more white wine than ever. not sure why, but it is what it is. These are culled from many tastings over the past couple of weeks and do not impinge on my prior selections written about here.

The three are:

Limoux Blanc Haute Vallee 2010 by Toques et Clochers.

This wine from southern France in the Languedoc region around the city of Limoux. This Limoux Blanc is 100% chardonnay grown in limestone at around 500 meters in elevation. This wine was amazing in its minerality and balance of acidity and fruit; the minerality from the very rock it is grown in. It has a great yellow color in the glass with a lovely floral nose, crisp acidity on the mouth with flavors of citrusy lemon and lime. The finish is complex and long. Priced at around $15.

Following the Limoux is another white but this time from Spain: Valinas AlbariƱo by Ramon Bilbao. This wine comes from the Rias Baixas region of Spain, right along the northern border with Portugal.

While I have had many albarinos and thought they were good, this one blew us away with its flavor and long finish. It had a soft but yet crisp feel to it with flavors of mango and pineapple. Price - hmmmmm. The wine was given to us, but a check online suggests it is in the range of $12-15. Wine mags have given this one a consistent 89 points. I agree; perhaps a little more.

Now for our third candidate: the 2011 Villa Barbi Orvieto Classico @ ~$14. This wine is replacing a previously written about Orvieto for no other reason we can longer get the other one and this one has replaced it at the wine shop we are getting some wines from. Truth told - this one is slightly better, or so we think. It combines a mixture of Grechetto, Procanico, Vermentino, and Sav Blanc grapes. These make for a nice dry, slightly minerally, but aromatic wine with flavors of crisp lemons and green apples with hints of almonds.

Well that's all friends. Hope you do get to try some of these juicy items and if so, please let us know what you think. Have a great weekend!

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Aug 17, 2013

Marques de Caceras Rioja - Old World Style Rioja - What Wine Should be About

After having drunk many white wines the past few months, finally settled on some red wine, thanks to my neighbor SR, who brought down one of my favorite red wines in the world - Marques de Caceras Reserva (2005 vintage). We had been drinking plenty of the 2004 vintage Reservas, but alas the wine stores were depleted and now only restocked with 2005s - yet we will survive.

The Ought-5s are as outstanding as the 04s, and this one starts with a really nice "stank" (my word usage). This "stank" was redolent of Ked's sneakers or a fresh rubber-like material warmed to perfection. OK, now that does not sound at all like something you'd want to drink, or associate with a "good" wine, but honestly, it really does - trust me on this. Time Warp ~~~~~~~ about 20+ years ago, a group of wine nuts attended a fairly "upscale" wine tasting (meaning we had to wear suits and ties and such - weird enough), of 1990 California cabernets. The tasting was sponsored by a local wine shop and wanted to show off the new upcoming vintage of Cali Cabs, in the hopes of selling us a bunch of them ahead of their delivery.

While we were tasting them (and recognize that in this tasting you could have heard a pin drop as people swirled and sipped and wrote notes), my wife who had been silently doing her tastings, lifted her head up and leaned over to me and mentioned that the wines had a particular smell to them - they all had a mild to strong aroma that reminded her of Ked's sneakers after having been out and about all day. I leaned back into my wine tasting glasses and re-sniffed a few and after having been given that "image of odor," I also instantly recognized that smell and was immediately transported to my childhood of when I wore those darn things and indeed they did smell like that. Its curious, you will often smell something, but until someone gives you a reference name for it, you will be loathe to describe what it smells like. In this case my wife nailed it. But the best part of this time warp story, was that when she mentioned this smell-association to me, she had said it a little too loudly (in the quiet of the tasting room), and many people around us heard her. Within minutes the quiet of the crowd started to change, as everyone slowly started to re-sniff their glasses and soon everyone was chatting over how they too all smelled the Keds in their glasses. Soon the quiet and serious nature of the even was broken and everyone was in conversation about what they were smelling and tasting. In the end we all agreed that while Keds was sort of a terrible kind of association for wine aromas, we could not disagree with it, and more importantly, we all agreed that wines were freakingly awesome and the aroma is one we all experienced before with good wines -we just had a new name for it.

Ok, that was a very long time warp rant (sorry), but it was important to describe this Ked's Stank a little and what it is about. It truly is a good thing and a quick indicator for us that the wine we will be soon tasting is a good one. The Marques we tasted indeed delivered as we expected it would: a nice round luscious Rioja with a long finish.

Rioja Red Blends (also referred to as Rioja Tintos) is a term used to describe the various red-wine blends made from the Rioja DOC in Spain. DOC means the District of Origin of Control - or something like that in English.

The principal grape of the region is the Tempranillo, which forms the basis of the blend for the majority of the wines in this category. Garnacha (Grenache), Mazuelo (Carignan), and Graciano make up the balance.

Within this lovely Rioja we tasted, the 2005 Marques delivered aromatic notes of Keds, but also dark berries, oak, and eucalyptus. On the tongue we got lots of blackberry, red cherry, and some hints of dark chocolate. as I mentioned earlier, the finish was long, though because we kept sipping away at the wine, it was hard to note how long or what we got in flavors from the backwashing. But it was all good rest assured.

Whereas we had this wine at the end of our meal and apps, this juicy wine had accompanied us during the last vestiges of Gambas al Ajillo (shrimp in garlic oil, a classic Spanish Tapas dish).

You should be able to pick up the Reserva Marques for about $20 (that was the average of prices I had seen on the web), but when on sale, you should also be able to pick it up for about $17. As you might guess, since we were drinking a 2005, it had aged for about 8 years, a good timeframe for this Reserva, and for many other Reserve Riojas.

Final Note - This wine makes it on my list of the Top 100 Wines of the World that I am compiling and will showcase in this blog later this year.

Feel free to comment or share your own tasting experiences with us.

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Aug 2, 2013

Another Viognier for Consideration

Saint Peyre Viognier from France's Pays d'Oc makes a great addition to your summer white wine drinking list, especially with limited time remaining this summer.

I first tried a Saint Peyre while in southern France while traveling through the Languedoc with some good friends. That wine was not a Viognier but a different grape called Picpoul di Pinet, but it got me onto the Saint Peyre brand of wines. From what I have been able to garner from the literature, their Viognier that we tasted recently, is a relatively new bottling of theirs.

Saint Peyre's version of this grape, unlike many Viogniers which can be fat on the tongue, with a thick and creamy feeling, is in this bottling much lighter and crisper, though still a bigger white wine than some of their lighter brothers. In this 2011 vintage you will find hints of apricots and dried fruits matched with some acidity and a tinge of minerality common to many French white wines. For us it worked well with some medium bodied cheeses, a fresh feta cheese and tomato salad and roasted vegetables mixed with pasta.

At $9-$10 it makes a great summer white wine addition to your repertoire.

As always, if you do try it, let me know what you tasted. Enjoy!

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Jul 19, 2013

Orvieto Classico - Time for an Old Friend Again

It has been a long time since I drank Orvieto; not since my early days in wine drinking when Orvieto was cheap yet fulfilled a fantasy of drinking something more exotic than Boone's Farm. Well Orvieto has come a long way baby, if you recall that expression from way back as well.

Orvieto is an Italian wine region in central Italy just north of Rome and centered on the comune of Orvieto - hence its name. Primarily known for its white wines from a blend of mostly Grechetto and Trebbiano, they have been producing these wines since the Middle Ages. So I think they know a thing or two about wine making.

The town of Orvieto is situated on a flat summit of a large butte of volcanic tuff; making it a supremely picturesque community right out of the Medieval period.

The land surrounding the butte is where much of the infamous white Orvieto is made. Orvieto wines are typically delicate with a light bouquet and straw yellow color, a light lemon and citrus flavor and a pleasantly bitter aftertaste.

The wine we recently tasted and have come to enjoy immensely is the Orvieto Classico made by Agricola Vallesantra and named Rupestre; vintage 2011.

This wine boasts a rich lemony aroma with much of the classic Orvieto style to it; straw color, medium body but still remaining light on the tongue, cool and crisp light lemon and citrus flavors with a clean finish.

This wine makes a great companion to a hot steamy night when served chilled. Works with most light fruits and cheeses and some mild sliced cured meats. At around $10/bottle or less on sale, you can't go wrong. Give it swirl and a sip - and if you do, drop me a line and let us know how you liked it and what flavors you found.


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Jul 18, 2013

If “You Are the Average of the 5 People You Hang Around With” who do you Hang with?

The expression in this post’s title, “You Are the Average of the 5 People You Hang Around With” is attributed to Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker on personal success and popular during the 70s and 80s.  The idea behind the expression is that any outcome in life is often the average of the inputs that go into it, i.e., that who you are (and arguably your success) is heavily influenced by the people closest to you or who influence you the most. 

I was reminded about this expression at the 2013 World Domination Summit (aka WDS) during one of the Summit’s many informal “meet-ups,” where the leader of that meetup used that phrase to make a point about our life’s ambitions and results.  And for those of you reading this post, who want to know more about WDS, check out my other post on Extraordinary Lives - World Domination Summit 2013.

I first experienced the essence of this relationship in my own life when I used to play competitive sports (years ago unfortunately).  Anytime I was competing with individuals (or teams) that were way better than me, my own performance improved dramatically, in large part because I didn't want to look bad.  I was in effect influenced by those around me.  This is a common and most obvious example of where the expression plays out in our lives, but it’s the more subtle aspect of the expression we all need to think and “worry” about, because we don't play sports every hour of every day of our lives, and so we forget about the phrase and how it applies.  But it is working on us all day long, at work, at home, in our relationships and it is one aspect of what determines if our lives are better or not, or for me, more exciting and extraordinary or not.

To say that the 5 people around you is the only thing that affects your life would be overly simplistic, but it is still a part of what molds us in some way.  For most of us, we are, in an unconscious manner affected by those around us, and so who we decide to hang around with the most (or work with, etc.) will indeed matter and affect our own personal life outcomes.

So the question you have to ask yourself is, “who do I hang around with the most and are they emblematic or not of my desired outcomes and wishes in life?”  If my goal is to start my own business doing whatever (blogging, coaching, consulting, product sales, etc.), are the people closest to me supportive of or denigrating my goals.  If they are mostly in the camp of “what a dumb idea that is, you'll never make any money” or “get a real job,” then you may find that your mind is unconsciously guided by their comments and that your effort to start a business or pursue your goal remains a wish and never becomes a reality, or at the least you never start the journey down the path.

If you do want to start a business, have you surrounded yourself in some part of your life (at work, in your spare time, etc.) with people who have also started a business or who can mentor you or offer advice?  Likewise, if you're looking to write a book, are you associating yourself with other writers, or participating in a book-writing club, etc.  It’s not important that everyone around you is in the same “tribe” so to speak or mental landscape as your goal, but it is important to have several people in your life that do share your dreams. 

You also have to be careful and look at the people that you do spend a large percentage of your time with now, from family to friends to your work colleagues.  The 5 or so people you spend the large part of your time with, day in and day out will unconsciously steer you in the direction of the “group think,” or group mentality.

If you are like me and have a few (or several – and why not) different dreams, wishes or goals, you can have several groups of people you share and associate with, each group supportive of each particular ambition in your life.  Some people may fit into more than one supportive tribe.  These people need not be in your life constantly, but you do need to have people that will help “affect” your direction and results, even if they are just simply a supportive friend or family member.

So when looking at your goals and wishes, compare them to the people you “hang” with the most and think in terms of how each one “fits” with each of your dreams.  Are they supportive or negative about your dreams or do they even care – would they care.  Do any of them have a skill or experience that aligns with one of your goals that you could ask for advice or help from?  If after such an exercise you find that you have only a few peeps that fit the mold or tribe for your goals, then you need to think in terms of filling the void with some other individuals, through meet-ups, organizations, etc.  Share your ideas, cast a net – you never know what you may find.  I have seen this happen so many times it scares me to think of it as mere simple coincidences.

Associating with people who share in your dreams and goals helps to inspire and motivate you and builds a more successful platform for starting and growing your dream life.

So who do you hang with and are they the people you want to be?  Let me know your thoughts and experiences of your 5-person hang tribe.

Jul 13, 2013

This Could be the Top White Wine for this Year - Fess Parker Viognier

As I have written in the past and spoken endlessly about, I am way more of a red wine lover than white, but the past two summers a neighbor of mine (Susan Rrrrrrr) has enticed me into more white and roses. So each summer we indulge in experimenting on new and different white wines. This summer we have been checking out unusual or less than common white wines - NOT made from Chardonnay - ones like AlbariƱo, Vermentino, Viognier, and so on. Combine that effort with another friend (Dennis) who recently traveled to the land of Oz (California) and snagged some Fess Parker Viogniers for us.

Not thinking too hard about what wine he brought back, I opened a bottle of this wine the other night after a long hard work day while we sat on the deck of our building. And Bingo, one sniff, one taste and man was I hooked and brought back to another white wine from a few years ago that me sing praises of white wines (Far Niente Chardonnay).

OK, but before I say more about my tasting experience, let's talk shop about the wine first and where its from, and so on - pic of the wine is below to start with:

Fess Parker as some of you may know, was once an actor famous for his 1950s and 1960s roles as Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. At some point he decided to buy into the wine business as many actors and directors have done since (and probably before him too) and ended up in Santa Barbara County, about halfway between the towns (or cities) of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo - an idyllic area if there ever was one. Now some wine factuals:

≈ Name - Fess Parker 2010 Rodney's Vineyard Viognier
≈ Grape - 100% viognier - a French Rhone grape varietal
≈ Appellation - Santa Barbara County
≈ Harvested - October 8, 2010 - thus the 2010 vintage!
≈ Aging - 100% barrel fermented; 9 mos. in French oak
≈ Alcohol - 14.5%
≈ Ratings - 89 points by WS and WE
≈ Peak drinking is now till 2015 (good luck holding it though)
≈ Price point: around $30 +/-

Now for impressions! As I titled this post, this could be the best white wine for 2013 I will taste - though I admit I have about 6 months to go. But this wine was phenomenal and I must thank my friend Dennis for finding, buying, and bringing it back for us - just WOW.

The first thing that alerted me to something awesome, was the aroma: intensely perfumed by vanilla and melon. This was followed by a luscious palate that was thick and fat on the tongue, but yet not cloying in any way, with boundless flavors of melons, grapefruit, vanilla, and citrus. The flavors just kept on keeping on in your mouth. As another good friend of mine once said, a truly great wine is one you don't want to swallow for fear you will no longer taste it again - and that was what I was experiencing with this wine. Luckily of course, I have a few more bottles to go! As for the finish, it lasted a while and so would call this s having a very long finish.

In summary, this wine is intense from start to finish and hits high notes on all the 6 Ss (see, swirl, sniff, sip, savor, swallow). While the so-called trade experts (WS & WE among others) give this 89 points, I would give it way more than that; more like in the 92-93 point range, if not a little higher.

While the price is higher than many wines I tend to write about (since almost anyone can pick a great wine when you start paying well north of $20), its intensity and tasting puts it on my top selection and buy lists.

I would be curious if anyone else has tasted this and what they thought.

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Location:Boston, MA

Jul 10, 2013

Extraordinary Lives - World Domination Summit 2013

Every once in a while you get to do something that turns out to be an extraordinary experience; one that you cannot forget about, talk about endlessly afterwards with your friends and just pervades your thinking for a long time afterwards.  These things can be something as simple as a great day in the sun, or (as for me) a day of awesome skiing on a beautiful mountain, but this past July 2013, I had a chance to attend and join in on what has to be one of the best conference experiences of my life, if not just a great weekend by itself.  Now I have been to a lot of conferences, meetups, and weekend events over the years, many of which I had felt were incredible at the time, but this year we attended Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit 2013 (#WDS2013).  

Chris is the man behind the The Art of Non-Conformity blog and book of the same name, among other books and activities. I have been reading his blog for years and when in 2010/11 he announced the idea of gathering a small army in Portland to discuss ideas for living an extraordinary life, I said I had to go to this.  But as it turns out, some things happen faster than my fingers.  The first assemblage of world dominators got organized and sold out before I could say Fort Ticonderoga, and so I committed to make it for 2012.  But then again, that assemblage of nearly 1000 wee folk, was sold out in 15 minutes – WTF!  What is this – tickets to a Stones concert or something.  But luckily three times is a charm, and so in late 2012, I snagged 2 tickets for my wife and myself and felt like I hit the lottery (well maybe).

It’s been a long long time since I have been in Portland and so this trip was extra special.  The Summit turned out to be as good as they said it was going to be, but truthfully it was way better than that - Just freakin awesome.  Hey the final dance party would have been enough to want to attend by itself.  Besides some incredible speakers (Nancy Duarte, Gretchen Rubin, and Tess Vigeland), WDS2013 also had dozens upon dozens of meetups, mostly run by other attendees, some to discuss how we can conquer the world with our ideas to just plain fun meetups, such as the 10-mile hike and walk around the city.

But in the end I think there were two things about this Dominating Summit that left me with wonder and excitement:
  • Meeting loads of great “like-minded” people; and
  • Getting inspiration and motivation from the various talks and meetups at the event.

There were dozens of ideas, comments, quips, statements, and discussions that I wrote down for later rumination, but a few stick out more than others, at least today as I am writing this post.  They are:
  • The Future is Now, not Just in the Future.  Can’t recall what speaker said this or whether they attributed it to another person, but the implication here is that what you do today effects the future or that what happens in the future is in part what you do today.  Another way of saying this is that “tomorrow is the product of today.”
  • Progress, Sometimes is Just Being There.  I believe Bob Moore of Bob’s Red Mill grains said this.  It’s a great quote.  We too often think that “each step” in any move towards a grand goal has to be an incredible effort; that to not spend a large percentage of your day working on your goal, or to not achieve a major milestone or tick mark off on your plan after each effort, is equivalent to a major failure or slacking off on your mission.  In truth we cannot always spend every waking minute in total maximum effort on our goals – there will be times where our efforts will seem miniscule or that the time spent will be only a fraction of what is needed. I think it was Donald Miller who said that even spending 15 minutes each morning on his goal helped him eventually achieve what he wanted to accomplish.
  • What did you do for fun when you were 10?  This statement that Gretchen Rubin made was in reference to what made you happy when you were ten may hold elements to what would make you happy today. 

The other aspect of this conference was the essence of Community and Service and to that end a few speakers talked about their non-profits or goals of setting up a non-profit.  Two in particular I have already donated to and signed up for future campaigns; these being “Charity Water,” and “App Camp for Girls.”
  • Charity Water is all about bringing fresh water to people in developing nations by drilling wells in villages where it’s needed most.  You can read more about them at: http://www.charitywater.org/, and encourage you to donate, even just a few dollars.

  • App Camp for Girls is a great concept where they are bringing young girls together to learn how to design and code an app for smartphones.  Their website is http://www.appcamp4girls.com/, and I also highly encourage you to donate here as well.

My overview of these two organizations is obviously very brief, and they do and provide so much than just the simple statements I made, but their impacts are and can be enormous.  So check them out.

Well at this point my fingers have run out steam.  There is way more I would like to say about the Summit and will likely do so in future posts, so keep checking back here.  If I missed you at the last WDS, I hope to meet you at the next; and if you did not go, consider it next year.

Jul 5, 2013

Inspiration - Motivation - Idea Generation - and More

While attending the World Domination Summit or WDS2013, it came upon me that hanging around inspirational folk; people who want to achieve something different; and people who just aren't caught up in the "that's the way you are suppose to live" mentality, helped to rekindle a number of misplaced passions of mine, but also help me find some new ideas; the first one from Quinn The Cubicle Free man.

The WDS is not about some secret org seeking world dominion but about like-minded people interested in living an exciting and incredible life within this otherwise conventional world of ours. Whereas conventionality may apply to many in the more wealthy western world, we best not forget that while we enjoy experiences and out of box thinking, there are sooooo many people out there still living dirt poor and truly unhealthy lives with little or no likelihood of ever coming out of it alive. So while my random thoughts wander the universe of motivation and passion, I always keep in the back of mind that I am able to do this while so many cannot.

One of the first things that I got out of this WDS is the desire to blog again and hopefully for a spat of time that is longer than in my past spurts. And in here I hope to post and discuss my 15 or so steps to living an incredible life, but also steps to being a great person. This step-wise approach was something I rustled up one night in a fit of agitation about life in general and how many people around me seemed stuck or frustrated about their own paths and inability to move to point B in their life.

So in the coming days, weeks and months check back here to see what I cook up and say, not just about the 15+ steps, but also my other rants on wine, life, and facts with an occasional salting of myth.

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Jun 29, 2013

Frascati - a Crisp Summer White Wine Resurfaces from my Past

Frascati - so nice!

With the summer heat and humidity (for those of us in humid zones that is), we start to look for white wines that deliver a refreshing and crisp balance without breaking the bank or overly making the wallet lighter. This wine that I once used to have years ago when we cooked calamari, has resurfaced at the local wine shop and at under $10 it is a great summer deal. This wine will not provide you with intense aromas or flavors or gobs of buttery oak, but instead will deliver a clean crispness of light citrusy aromas (lemon) and flavors (touch of peach) followed by a fast finish with no aftertaste. Online I have seen this priced as little as $7.

Made from a few different grapes in the Rome area, it has been drunk by Romans for almost 2000 years and still going strong. The primary grapes are malvasia and trebbiano, not your common grapes to the general public. When we had this wine the other night with one of our neighbors, during a sultry humid evening and served it with some soft semi-ripe cheeses and fresh french bread. What can you say, life does not get much better than that.

What's your favorite summer wine this year?

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Jun 28, 2013

Your Friends and Time - A Quote

Heard a great line today:

"Take Time for your Friends, before Time takes your Friends!"

A great line - thanks Loretta!

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