Leap Year and Craft Beer

I’ve been on the road for most of January and February, thanks to an annual furlough from work that left me with a lot of time on my hands.  The U.S. southwest is magical.  I went on some good hikes, drank some good mead, met some good people, and had a chance to hit the reset button.  Heading into this summer, I’m very glad I got the chance to do that.

I have a ton of photos that I need to go through, and will be posting some of them up here with a few trip reports soon.

But for now, if you’re in the boozy state of Washington, today is officially Craft Beer Day.  In the glass here is Oak Barrel Mead from Oppegaard meadery, because I was in a mead mood and not a beer one today.  I do have a bottle of Dogfish Head worldwide stout, which will absolutely knock you on your ass at 15%, and is not the thing I want to drink the night before I go back to work.  That bottle is being saved for later.

Go hoist a cold one, and don’t worry.  Nobody’s going to judge you if it’s craft mead instead of beer.

If they do judge, we can sic Gritty on them.

gritty

 

2020

Happy 2020!

Just like the roaring ’20s, but without prohibition.  Everything else looks remarkably the same as it did 100 years ago.

But still….

Here’s to more reading, more writing, more mead, more rum, more everything this year.  Especially writing.  I’ve seen a few posts rolling around on social media talking about choosing a word for the new year, and I’d rather go with the theme of getting off my ass, especially when it comes to writing.

Since my annual furlough from work is about to start, and I have eight weeks to fuck around and not be beholden to an alarm clock, I’ve got plans.  Viking and I are hitting the road with my Chromebook, and heading to the southwest for a road trip of camping, writing, and consuming as much coffee, tea, and rum as I can get my hands on.

Sometimes you need to hit the road to get out of your own head, and that’s how I’m feeling right now about life in general.  I need to get comfortable with writing on a regular basis, and also become more comfortable with the characters I’m trying to write.  To be honest, I need a break from ye olde daily grind, and I haven’t taken a proper road trip in three years.  There’s a distinct feeling of needing to shake off the cobwebs, and since I have the free time and the dinero saved up, the only thing stopping me is getting off my ass.

Go figure, getting off my ass is turning out to be a good theme for me.  Or at least a motivation to get stuff done.

I’m going to indulge in a rare moment of optimism, in saying that I hope 2020 is a good year for everyone.

And go find something new or something not so new this year that makes you happy.  It doesn’t have to be anything major.  Shit, if it’s just being able to get out of bed on a particularly hard morning, that’s enough.  Let it be enough.

May your entire year be a critical hit.

20 sided dice

 

And may all of my fellow rum fans be thankful prohibition is a thing of the past.

Remember last year….

When I said no more plants?  Well, since I decided to build a DIY raised bed out of a pile of scrap lumber I found under a tree, I’m going to ignore that this year.  It’s 6 x 2 feet, and has room for plants.

I still have all of my old containers too and they will also be full of plants.  Plants everywhere!  Peppers, tomatoes, squash, snap peas, garlic, potatoes, and whatever else looks cool.  The garlic is already growing and doing well.  A friend from garden club gave us all cloves to try out, and I put it in when I planted my bulbs last fall.  That is future Cincinnati chili garlic, amigos.

It was a long winter, and we had a couple decent days of snow.  We got our usual amount of rain and grey days in true western Washington style.  All of the snow melted at my elevation in a day or two, of course, and then it went back to rain.  But the mountains, which can get 70+ inches of snow from just a single storm, all have decent snowpacks this year.  It’s May 3rd, and snowpacks are around 9-10 feet at 5200′ elevation.

So now that it’s spring, the gardening bug is back again.

My goal is to grow enough veggies for myself and enough extra to donate to the food bank in town this summer.  Now that I have an idea of what it’s like to garden in this area of the country, I should have more luck with plants this year than last.  The other thing that’s helped is joining a few regional homesteading and canning groups on Facebook.

We’re running about two weeks behind on planting, despite one 80 degree day that broke a temperature record set about 80 years ago.  Next Wednesday is G-Day!

And next Thursday is mead day.  Bottling a few, racking the 101 Mead and blackberry wine, and throwing together some berries for a gallon or two of mixed berry wine. That’s an experiment, but I’m very sure that unless it comes out tasting like vinegar, I will find people to help me drink it.

Hoh River in the sunshine
Happy Spring!

 

A quick thought on travel

I ordered the second season of Anthony Bourdain’s Layover from amazon the other day.  And what follows are his words:

“Please make the most of it by doing as little as possible.  Walk around, eat, drink wine, nap…”

That sums up how to do travel right.  It’s literally impossible to experience everything about a place in one visit.

If you like scheduling things to within the half hour, give yourself a day to just wander around.  Go into stores, explore, shop, drink.  Talk to people if you’re so inclined.

But don’t try to do everything at once.  Stress ruins trips.  Appreciate the place you’re in and understand that even if you were to live there for 40 years, you would still have new things to discover.

We’d all be better off if we spent more time exploring and less time checking things off a to-do list.

Such neglect!

For just about everything except the mead.

There’s a new batch of peach mead in secondary, thanks to a neighbor and her amazing find of orchard peaches.  I mean, what else was I going to do with 15 lbs of peaches?

I’m testing it tomorrow before Thanksgiving dinner and hopefully, it will be ready to bottle in the spring.

Longer mead post soon, promise.

Pet store shenanigans Part 1

I was talking to a friend on Skype and got reminded of this job I used to have, working at a pet store.

It was one of those family run pet shops that sold all sorts of animals, most of which were very poor choices for people to actually take home as a pet.  Being that I was in college and needed the cash, and had poor ethics about supporting certain aspects of the pet trade, I filled out an application.

The store sold fish, parrots, puppies (those stories about puppy mill dogs?  True.  100% true.  Don’t buy a dog from a pet store, people), small animals, lizards, snakes, and kittens.  We had a few animals that were store pets, either because they couldn’t be sold, they belonged to the owner, or they were too big or nasty for a rational person to want to take home.  Like Tokay geckos.  I worked in reptiles because I like them, and wound up with the friggin’ Tokay hanging off my hand on more than one occasion.

We had one pet store.  A bunch of college aged employees.  A manager who was sometimes drunk (that’s another story).  The general public. And this fish:

Four feet of DOOM
Four feet of DOOM

This, for anyone who’s not familiar with fish, is a Redtail Catfish.  They usually show up in the aquarium trade as adorable little six inch long baby fish.  If your local pet or fish store is clueless, you’ll be told they don’t get that big and you’ll be fine keeping them in a 20 gallon or whatever you’ve got at home.  Just hand over your Visa and we’ll send you on your way.

Well.  It just so happens that they do get big.

People fish for those things, and have caught ones that are over 70″ and 150lbs.  The one we had at the store wasn’t 150lbs yet, but still clocked in at about four feet.  He lived in a display tank and we fed him mice, fish pellets, and the occasional pepperoni slice.

We also had a sign that said ‘Do Not Stick Your Hands Into the Tank.”  The fish ate mice by sucking them into his mouth and drowning them.  It seems obvious that you’d not want to put your hands into the same tank as a giant catfish.  But hey, people did, so we had the signs.

hands off

Anyway, we’re at work one evening and we hear someone yelling.  ‘IT’S ON MY HAND GET IT OFF HELLLLLLLP.”

Everyone likes a good animal bite story, so off we went.  We all suspected what happened, because it wasn’t the first time.  Usually we’d just hear a scream and a lot of splashing as whoever it was dodged the catfish, but not this time.  We get to the fish section, and sure enough, there’s a guy with his hand in the catfish’s tank and the fish is hanging on for dear life.

We stood around and watched until the manager showed up to deal with things.  None of us wanted to stick our hands in the tank at that point.  Good boy, catfish.  The customer wasn’t hurt, but I bet he never did it again.

Still, a word of advice:  don’t buy a Redtail Catfish unless you have the Taj Mahal of aquariums and don’t mind a fish that thinks your hand might be dinner.

Jaws the Gecko
Assholius Geckoius

And remember, Tokay Geckos are usually assholes.

Almost solstice!

That time of the year when, where I live, we have less than 9 hours of daylight.  I actually don’t mind, although it’s harder to fit in snowshoeing with the puppy when I’m at work for most of it.

There’s something pretty darn nice about having more night than day.  It makes curling up with the dogs and a good book (or a movie) even better.  More time for walking at night, checking out stars… and the bears are all snoozing too.

I’ve got plans to get together with people, eat food, drink mulled wine, and have a good time.  A combination solstice, Christmas, holiday, festivus thing.  I wish some of the mead would have been ready, but the one batch of cyser I’d been counting on flopped big time.  I have a bottle of not-my-mead that I’ll probably bring instead.  Perhaps I’ll crack a bottle of the terrible buckwheat and see how that tastes mulled.

And I’ll make darn sure to put aside some of what’s brewing for next year’s solstice.

Back to the Future

Bonus post because today’s the day they traveled to in Back to the Future.

Holy shit 2015
Holy shit it’s really October 21, 2015 right now, you guys.

It’s very fucking strange to look at 2015 now, vs. when I first saw the movie.

Same deal with these two. It’s an experience watching a movie when you’re a kid and then living long enough to hit the year that it was supposed to take place.  I was a kid when Back to the Future and Escape from New York were released.  Now I realize we still don’t have flying cars and NYC/LA (thankfully) haven’t been walled off into prisons.

Call me Snake
Call me Snake
Keep calling me Snake.
Keep calling me Snake.

I still want a flying car, damnit.  And I still like Kurt Russel.

Don’t judge.