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Tuesday, April 03, 2018


So we debated a long time, chickens, ducks, geese. Chickens are what everyone is keeping these days and that's fine. Ducks lay bigger eggs, you can keep a breeding flock easier in the city since drakes don't make the racket a rooster does.

Then there's Guinea fowl, we looked at that too but apparently they raise a ruckus, even the females. Geese, too, are apparently louder than bombs, a flight risk on top of that so they're out.

So ducks. We got six, but one died almost instantly. They're pretty frail at this point, strong language can do them in. They're in a brooder box in a closet under a heat lamp with food, water, spinach/lettuce from the garden. They fight over the greens, it's pretty stinkin' cute.

Sunday, March 25, 2018


Corinna has been a lot more the gardner than I the past few years. I kind of lost interest after 2014, and our gardening styles are so different collaborating is difficult. My rigid notions of how things should be done mixed with her eagerness to improvise and experiment, and her ideas about what is worth going to the trouble of and what isn't, it just makes for too much conflict.

I said something to the effect that you can't grow too much spinach. It freezes well, and it's my favorite green to eat raw as well, right?

So I guess Corinna decided to see if she could prove me wrong. She's been bringing in five gallon buckets of the stuff at least once a day and she's not even making a dent in what could be harvested from these beds.

I guess we should be careful before we end up with kidney stones or something.

Party Time

We had a great party. It was billed as Corinna's birthday party, but by coincidence the date ended up being St. Patrick's Day. I think that probably helped bring people out, it's a day they were already thinking in terms of going out and socializing and whatnot. I grilled steaks and fish, my in-laws were in town for the weekend (it was a steak heavy weekend, they took us to Fogo de Chao Friday evening), and my brother's family, my parents and some other old friends started showing up around 3:00.

It was a rambling affair, including the unveiling of the fig tree. Which amounted to going out and watching Corinna pull the bags of leaves she'd buried the tree with in the fall to protect it through the winter.

I didn't do a great job of documenting it with my camera. I'd remember the Nikon from time to time, but a lot of the shots I took were blurry because I didn't have the ISO high enough, and I kept getting involved in other stuff and forgetting about it.

I didn't even get a group shot with Gwen and Tim, and they don't come to town that often. I think Gwen's last visit was when I had my heart surgery in 2014 and I'm not sure Tim had been along since our wedding in 2012. So I should have gotten some pics taken, damnit.

Tim and I did get to spend some quality time Friday night. The trunk lid to Corinna's car wouldn't open, and Gwen & Tim's luggage was in the trunk. When we got back from the restaurant he started trying to mechanic his way into the trunk, and I ended up helping. Holding lights and fetching tools mostly. He'd had a similar issue with a different year of the same model car before so he knew what he was about. Or more so than I did.

We got the back seats flipped down and there's an opening to the trunk but it was smaller than Tim's hard shell suitcase. Finally he took the seats out completely and we were able to force it though. Then he crawled in and started trying to figure out a way to get the trunk lid to open. Sometime after midnight we finally had the lid open, and the next morning he rigged a way to make the trunk lid open and close (and stay closed). The car is old enough to legally drink, so not worth investing in a proper fix.

Anyway, we had quite a few guests still going at midnight with a five player game of Risk finishing up. Corinna and I play that with just the two of us a bit, but a third player really makes it a game. Five, and it's much more fun. Amber turned out to be way more competitive than I would have guessed. Dennis managed to hold Asia for a couple of turns by the end, which is no mean feat, but Amber had North and South America and pretty soon Africa once she crushed the last of my armies. She skates roller derby, too, so I guess it figures.

As much as I didn't get a lot of the pictures I wish I had, I did catch Aaron amazing some of the kids with his yoyo. Which was pretty cool, it'd be worth doing a shoot with a neutral backdrop and setting up the speedlights to get action frozen or selectively frozen better.

My meads seemed to be a hit as well. We did some damage to the dry traditional orange blossom I have on tap (sparkling, very champagne-like) and at least one bottle of my raspberry melomel and morat managed to find its way into our guests. I need to get another pail of honey and get to fermenting.

Snake Saturday Competition

The Indiana Brewer's Cup was easily the biggest homebrew competition I've ever judged at.

This was the smallest. Grain to Glass put it on for a festival there in Northtown on Snake Saturday, the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day.

Just a single session on a Wednesday evening, category 15: Irish Red Ale, Irish Stout and Irish Extra Stout. A very focused competition, I think there were roughly 50 entrants, mostly well done if not off the charts spectacular. There are worse ways to spend an evening, and since diabetes has my beer consumption restricted to when I get a chance at judging, I've been looking for more opportunities to judge.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Mafia How To

My friend Julie once complained about my blog posts using pictures that didn't really go with the text. Pictures I took, stories about shit I'd gotten up to, but they weren't related.

Sorry Julie, here's a pic of an excellent dry sparkling orange blossom honey mead. And I have a story to tell you about how to get blood stains out of shit In case you want to go to work for the mafia or something.

The mead had an original gravity around 1.100, finished about .998, not light stuff but as meads go kinda. Bone dry with delicate floral aromatics, really a delight to drink. A little too easy to drink if you know what I mean.

But today at my apheresis, I learned a trick about garment maintenance I have to share with you.

I'm sitting there like usual, my fortnightly filtration of a bunch of blood. I'm pretty squeamish by nature but after a few years of this shit I've gotten to where I can watch these lovely women stab me with their 17 gauge needles.

So today I'm watching Weeds, my latest streaming option through the treatment and I notice something. I'm bleeding. A lot. Like blood is leaking around the needle. And before I can say, 'Hey Jennifer,' I see a fine, needle diameter jet of my blood arc from my arm to my shirt. A $40+ Hawaiian shirt, and I don't have a great sense of humor about this.

The nurses weren't freaked out a tall. They brought forth hydrogen peroxide and after my treatment they soaked my shirt's problem areas with that. It foams on contact with blood and when you dry it with a towel and hit it with more hydrogen peroxide, when it quits foaming you're there. My shirt looks good as new.

So screw cold water and whatever, if you want to avoid blood stains on fabric, hydrogen peroxide, end of story.

Separately, I really enjoy this mead, it wouldn't do well in competition, too dry, but delightfully aromatic and crisp.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


So last summer I got diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. The doc I see at the apheresis clinic had drawn some labs and just casually asked, 'Who do you see for your diabetes?'

And I was like what diabetes?

He also said my liver enzymes could look better. "How much alcohol do you drink?" he asked.

As a friend of mine put it, you didn't just rain on my parade, you also shot the Grand Marshall.

I tried to bargain with the diabetes. I love beer. Good beer, not Miller Lite or Michelob Ultra (which don't send my blood sugar to bad neighborhoods). But no, the blood glucose levels don't even like a Bohemian Pilsner like Pilsner Urquell.

So I make allowances for competitions. They feed us like Hobbits at these things: first breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, etc.

Which, before I even tried to clean up my diet over the diabetes thing, was why I quit buying banquet tickets for the KCBM competition. I'm typically full from breakfast when lunch arrives, lunch is typically pretty heavy, and I'm not that big a supper eater anyway. If I'm going to pop for a $35 dinner, I want to go to the table hungry.

I feel like I'm in a rut with the pictures I've been taking at these things. Someone from the club commented to me during the auction that he liked my pictures, and I was like, they're the same pictures every year.

Same people, same setting, same activity anyway. I did take some of my meads from the past year, I got religion and read Steve Piatz's book on the subject, decided to be the old dog that learned new tricks, in no small part because of things Al Boyce said at a presentation at the Bier Meister's competition a couple years ago.

Al's initial response was they seemed like hydromels. He has a bit of a sweet tooth in this area, what he calls a semisweet I'd call a sweet; what he cals a sweet I call cloying pancake syrup. What I call dry he calls 'bone dry' with an obvious negative connotation.

Me, I favored dry meads before diabetes pushed me further into those woods. I wouldn't fancy my chances in competition with these things given how much Al's scale of sweetness seems to be the rule.

I did have Al and two or three others suggest my raspberry melomel would benefit from more acid. Which surprised me, the five gallon batch had almost 20 pounds of the fruit, and it's a pretty acidic fruit. But given the people who were asking for more acid, I'm game to try next time. Maybe take a small sample of the batch, add acid blend in varying quantities to the finished mead and then scale up that addition accordingly when I find nirvana.

Oh, and we had KCBM royalty show up. The closing panel before the banquet included Boulevard founder John McDonald, along with brewers from Red Crow, Crane and KC Bier Co.

I didn't stay for the banquet like I said, but at least I got a shot of Myles in his fez during the raffle. Which I bought a buttload of tickets for and yet won nothing. I guess as karma goes, I'm still paying off my score from a few years ago, my Snoop Dog oil painting.

It's a hiphop version of a velvet Elvis, and it hangs over the recliner I'm blogging from. I've looked in some pretty ghetto liquor stores and never found Colt 45 Blast in grape. But then, maybe my liver enzymes and diabetes don't want me finding that.

Mo's 21st

My youngest daughter just turned 21. I thought getting to be an old man would take longer, but alas.

So a party was held. But this kid isn't a Power Hour kind of 21 year old. Low key, at her Mom's house, with pretty much immediate family present. Ice cream cake, soda, pizza.

The artist formerly known as Frau Lobster gave her a sip of wine to try since, after all, what is the point of turning 21 if you can't get boozed up. She made a face that reminded me of the time she had oral surgery and was given something to ease her into anesthesia and reacted to the flavor with, "Hello, boring! Boring! Boring! Boring!"

So I thought, well, beer. Okay, there wasn't actually any beer on hand, but there was some Coors Light in the fridge. Mo loves club soda, and that's about what the Silver Bullet amounts to, so I tried her on a sip of that one. I guess that was hello boring, too, based on the face she made and the force with which she pushed the Solo cup away.

I'm cool with this. I have something like a romantic relationship with alcohol. I'm a BJCP National rank beer judge, a homebrewer since 1995, with some ambitions of eventually opening a meadery. But I've also had to scale back my consumption in the face of bad lab results, I can't say the stuff improves my social skills or judgment, and Mo takes some pretty high test drugs to control seizures so booze is probably pretty strongly contraindicated.

She had fun opening her presents. We tried to get her to blow out candles on her ice cream cake but she, predictably, ran to her bedroom and hid under stuffed animals. Not sure what gives with that, until a few years ago I could count on getting a photo of her blowing out her candles but at some point that went into the column of I'm not doing that no matter what.

My eldest daughter, by the way, had to show me her and her husband's digs in the basement of my ex's house. Which features a flag for a Panic at the Disco tour. I don't get the appeal of that band, but I am super stoked that I got us all (my wife, my kids, my kid's husband and me) great seats to a local high school's production of Spamelot. Should be epic. We all loves the Monty Python.