Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A New Arrival

25 and I are happy to announce that we're . . .


For any of you sillies who thought I was announcing a pregnancy, shame on you.  You obviously don't know me at all! Haven't you read my rants about children, and everyone having children, and posting about their children, and blah blah blah children?

We took the plunge a couple months ago and started homebrewing.  Much like a pregnancy, we didn't want to tell anyone until we were sure that we wouldn't lose the batch. It's been a slow process of telling friends and family.  Introducing them to what we made.  Talking about the techniques and ingredients.

Weiz was from a Brewer's Best kit. She was all Amber LME (liquid Malt Extract) and Hallertau hops pellets.

Our first beer was a Weizenbier.  She was a beautiful 4.6% amber colored wheat beer with a slight cloudiness that one wants in a wheat beer.  She has great fruity esters of peach/apricot/pit fruits and some nicely complicated flavors. Not much sediment in the bottles and great clarity.

Just like any first born,  we made some mistakes. It's possible that the fruity esters came from contamination (more than one great beer has been created by accident).  After bottling her, we put the bottles in boxes, in the garage, protected from light as we'd read was important.  Just about the time we did that, the weather started cooling off.  We didn't know that below about 62 degrees, the yeast becomes inactive and won't carbonate the beer.  In conclusion, we have great tasting flat beer. My take is that I'd rather have a great beer with no bubbles than a crappy bear with lots of bubbles.  25 on the other hand tends to like highly carbonated beers with lots of little bubbles so he was a bit disappointed.

The feedback from friends who are drinker and non-beer drinkers has been pretty good.  They all like the fruity complicated flavor thing.  They acknowledge that it's flat but seem to echo my sentiments about good beer-no bubbles as the bettern option.

While we drink our way through the 22 12oz and 9 22oz bottles that were the Weizenbier, we brewed again.  Our second is an English Pale Ale.  She was from a kit as well and she's made of Fuggles and Goldings hop pellets, LME plus some Dry Malt Extract and even Caramel Malt to steep. EPA was bottled last week Wednesday.  It should be roughly the same ABV.  Slightly darker in color and a tiny bit less cloudy. She still need another week of bottle aging before we open a test bottle. We were more efficient and drew 25 12oz and 10 22oz bottles.

Batch three is an Irish Stout we've named Mick, after a character in Hell on Wheels. He's still in secondary fermentation and will probably be bottled next week, then three plus weeks of bottle conditioning.  He was some LME, roasted barley, flaked barley, Northern Brewer hops (not pellets a first for us), two packets of liquid yeast (another first).  He's pristine and the last of the yeast is settling out now.

Like any proud creator, photos to follow. The biggest question at the moment is what to brew next?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Lousy Waiter

Not the kind in a restaurant that brings you food.

I have learned some patience over the years.  It's come very slowly.  Most people who knew me growing up would say that I as ready for things to happen sooner rahter than later.

Now my patience come in drips and drabs, often in certain places in my life while it still lacks in others. It's very difficult to be patience when dating.  You have a great date and then want the person to call NOW.  You want to go out for another date SOON. Waiting for things to happen can be rough.

In other areas, I have "the patience of a saint", not my words.  My mother has seen me interact with my grandmothers, both of whom before their deaths were affected by Alzheimer-esque symptoms.  I could sit with Grandma B for several hours to her repetition of "where are you living now?", "how have you been?" and about three other questions. When we were driving home, she asked how I did it, enduring the same questions ad nauseum.  My answer is that I don't know. She believes that with children and the eldery I have the patience of a saint, it's adults I have a problem with.  She's probably just about right.

I guess it's that both of those groups have an excuse for their behaviour and their ignorance.  Adults of the otherhand, are usually willfully stupid or rude, but tha't s a whole other blog.

Right now I'm waiting for work.  My current contract ends November 22nd.  I've known that for a while.  There were several options on the table.  If you've read the blog recently, you may have seen a post about Omaha.  I've passed on that project in favor of staying at home.  It doesn't seem like the best idea to have 25 move in and then spend six months half way across the country.  There are four current options are in the PNW with varying levels of details and confirmation. 

One won't start until January (unless it's delayed) and will run until May.

The second would be traveling along the I-5 corridor training at facilities in Washington and Oregon. This company has been looking for people on and off for over a year so I won't be holding my breath.

The third is very hazing.  Potentially as provider elbow support at a health system with 100+ clinics going live over several months, starting soon, maybe.  Very unconfirmed.

The fourth, at this point, will remain unmentioned because it is the one I am waiting to hear about.




Sigh,  I'm just not good at this.  The knot in my stomach tells me so.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Plans Unraveled

We had planned for The Enchantments.  We were meeting some friends Wednesday night to car camp and then we'd spend four days and three nights in an area of National Forest land that is so coveted, you have to win a permit in an annual lottery.  A friend, DR, had been planning it for us since May or so. I'd been the only one of the group to win a permit, for September 26-29. That would cover up to eight people.

But things started unraveling on Tuesday.  The forecast wasn't looking good, but it wasn't yet horrible either.  A bit of rain, cooler temps than we were hoping. We sent a flurry of emails around to confirm last minute details.

Wednesday morning DR pulled out sick.  He'd been fighting strep and it rebounded with a vengeance.  four days hiking in the wet and cold wouldn't help.  The forecast at the start of Wednesday was alright for Thursday and Friday - 20% chance of rain at night, highs of 47 or so and sun during the day, with Saturday and Sunday looking worse at 50% chance of rain during the day. We figured we could just cut the trip short.

The about 2pm on Wednesday the forecast updated.  It was 50% chance of rain all day Friday and 60-70% chance of rain/snow both Saturday and Sunday.  The high temperature for all four days was 42.


25 and I were skeptical Wednesday morning and our resolve gave out by those updated forecasts. We both like hiking and camping but four days of cold, wet mud didn't seem like fun. Cold you can plan for.  Wet is a whole other beast.

In what has become typical style, 25 and I made the most of it.  We decided to keep Thursday and Friday off work. We would drive over the pass and spend Wednesday night in Cashmere, a tiny town in fruit orchards. Then spend Thursday strolling around, going to a distillery I had a Groupon for tasting and tour, lunching in Leavenworth, the German themed town that will shortly be inundated for Oktoberfest, and then come home.

Or not.

Snoqualmie pass through the mountains was closed when we tried to drive over it on Wednesday. A detour would mean we wouldn't get in to Cashmere until ten. We took that as a sign that we should pack it in for the night.

Attempt number two at making the most of it!  Thursday morning we woke up, headed out and make it to Leavenworth.  Lunch of brats and beer at Gustav's was good.  I have an Oktoberfest beer that was mildly disappointing.  The brats for only $7.50 were a deal and it wasn't too packed. The town was busy but not overloaded.

We then made it to Cashmere where we went to It's 5 o'clock Somewhere Distillery where the owner gave us a tour and imparted knowledge. It was interesting to see the still and facility.  We also tried pear and cherry brandies, grappa, rhubarb liqueur, moonshine (corn whiskey) and gin.  A bottle of the rhubarb made it home with us as well as two cool glasses.  We also went to The Cider Mill for samples of three types of hard cider and several non-alcoholic ciders as well. We ended up, surprisingly, with a non alcoholic bottle or the original apple cider from there.

A stop at Milepost 111 Brewery was disappointing as it wasn't a brewery, but a brew pub.  That said, we each enjoyed a beer and nachos on happy hour, the whole lot setting us back a mere $9.81. The nachos were excellent.

A short drive back to Leavenworth to walk around and hit Icicle Brewing.  They have only a cold kitchen but the meat & cheese plate was stellar.  We had a six beer sampler with an additional taster of Apres Fresh, their fresh hopped beer. The tasting room is beautiful with a view into the brewing area and lot of lovely wood. I would definitely recommend a visit.  The only beer I found disappointing was their Priebe Porter, but was happily surprised by the IPA and Helles Lager.

It was a long drive back.  25 did all the driving.  I like riding with him because I always feel safe.  I even dozed a bit on the drive back.  It was cold and dark at 10:30 when we got home, our home.  It still feels neat to say since he's more or less officially living here.

Today we are cleaning house, moving him in, taking care of the To Do list. We'll pack more of his things up and move them here,  we have a Do Nothing day planned before the weekend is out.  25 was looking a bit burnt out as we've been going full tilt lately; work all week then completely full weekends. I'm grateful to have a day to give him as a reprieve.  It wasn't the weekend we'd planned but I think we're both enjoying it nonetheless. One more addition to the list of why 25 is wonderful: his ability to flex with the situation and make it into a fantastic opportunity, not a stressful issue.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Now, only partially so. I've ceded half the closet.

His two drawers won't be enough any more . . .

 . . . because he's moving in.

25 is a fixture. We all knew it was coming.  Now, with talk of coming work contracts being out of state, it pushed our talk up.  We probably would have waited until next year if not for my job situation, but I don't think a couple of months early will make a huge difference.

Neither of us liked the idea of Skeeter(dog) and BJ(cat) being left in the hands of a sitter who would come by for a few minutes twice a day.  It seemed like a big risk to leave the place mostly void of people for months. Then there's the fact that we're already paying two lots of rent and mostly just living here.  If I'm away, then I'm paying the mortgage on a house we're not even in. To that end, this will free up some cash flow for both of us as we trek down the road to being debt free.

We've both been happy leaning towards each other.  I wouldn't say I need him.  I could, and did, live without him.  I would say I want him in my life, it's fuller and happier with him in it.  I would rather want him than need him, but I'll admit it's probably a mix.

We had, what we affectionately deemed, The Debt Ceiling Conference last weekend. We brought all our numbers to the table. What we make, what we owe, what goals we have. It went a million times smoother than I thought possible. It's nice in the short and long term to be on the same page. We talked about upcoming trips, bigger goals, etc. It's indicative of the way we approach a lot of things: straight forward, proactive to avoid problems. It doesn't mean there aren't problems, but hopefully they are smaller.

I thought the prospect of him moving in would be much more stressful. Yet so far, it feels easy and natural.  He gained is own 40% the closet yesterday and a full half of the bathroom. That's in addition to the 60% of the bed he regularly claims for himself.  Such sacrifice!

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Every feel like your brain might be working against you?  Every wish you could turn it off?

I have an internal debate that has raged, well, gimped and limped is more like it, for years.  My current line of work has given fuel to continue the conversation.

I often work long days.  Tuesday, for example, was a thirteen hour day, 7am to 8pm.  I prepped for and taught a class, I worked on some lesson plans and additional projects, we had a team meeting. It was a very long day.  I actually didn’t mind because I felt very productive.  I was complimented by two different people about my training abilities.  It was nice to have concrete projects to work on, instead of trying to look busy while not having anything of any importance to do. There was quite the debacle a couple weeks ago involving one of the contracting companies (not mine) and overtimes rates, so as a result, we’ve all be told NO overtime, period. That means watching hours closely.

A thirteen hour Tuesday, plus five hours Monday and seven hours Wednesday means I am already at 25 hours for the week. Friday I’ve got classes all day so ten hours there, leaves five hours for today. 

Here’s the internal conflict:  After a long Tuesday, a short Wednesday followed.  I was home and finished with tasks by 2pm. I wanted to be lazy and read or watch Hell on Wheels or be generally non-productive.  Then the RAV (responsible adult voice) in my head says “What? There is a dishwasher to be emptied and clean clothes that need to be moved to the dryer.  You haven’t walked the dog in two days.  What about those hobby projects you always want to work on. And the . . . .” This is all true.  Some of those tasks are need to’s, some are want to’s, but there are always to do’s. 

Invariably I give in and do some chores. By the end of the day, I’m tired and sometimes resentful of not having down time. On the semi-rare day I do lounge around a bit, I feel guilty for not having accomplished one of the ever present To Do tasks that come with living in a big house that needs cleaning and maintenance, with two animals that shed and eat and poo, an wearing clothes and using dishes and the like. 

I try to balance all this, tending towards the productive, accomplishing things more often than doing bupkis, but it ain’t easy. Maybe this is why people started drinking.  It turns the RAV into a tone only dog can hear and it’s hard to be productive with a hangover. Even harder to think or feel guilty with one.  

Possible solution to my dilemma? Drink more!

Monday, September 16, 2013

How Would I Know If It's Analog or Digital?

In addition to the baby shower last weekend, 25's step bro announced, via 25's sis, that he and his wife are pregnant.  I won't go in to the fact that it's bizarre that Zoo, 25's sis, was the one to tell us, not the step bro, even though he and 25 have lived together and been family for about 12 years. I also won't go in to what I think of step bro and wife because who knows who reads this thing.

Instead, I wonder why people have kids.  What possesses someone to decide to give over their body to a parasitic creature that will warp said body in ways that means it will never be the same?  To have a kid whom they will have to pay for from now until the end of time.  To have a baby that will cry incessantly and ruin any future good night's sleep or gourmet meal. To willingly decide to be chained to a place, a budget, another person (the other 'creator', not to mention said child) in some way or another for, in most cases, the rest of ones life.

I'm 31.  I've never heard it tick. You know, the biological clock all women are supposed to have and fear once they hit the time in their life when CHILD BEARING MUST TRUMP ALL, because time is running out.  Nnoooooooooooooooooooooooo!!! 

Maybe I've spent too many years taking care of and educating kids that other people have screwed up beyond belief. I'm surprised school teachers ever have kids of their own. The saving grace of dealing with other people's kids is that they are other people's kids.  If it's sick, crying, generally being unpleasant, I can hand it back.  I got to go from the loud helter-skelter of work with kids, to a home that is quiet and clean, not the reverse.  I can go out as late as I want any night of the week, I can. spend my salary on things I want, I . . .  I digress. 

Maybe I'm waiting until I'm 'ready', though I suspect most people who've had kids would be the first to say you never really are ready.  I am definitely not financially ready for kids. I can't imagine having to pay for diapers and food and doctor's visits, and . . . and . . .and. . .ad nauseum while I still have debts. That being said, if only the debt free had children, we wouldn't be dealing with over population on the planet

I don't want to give up three day Bumbershoot weekends, and spur the moment camp trips and about a million other things. Many call that selfish or spoiled behavior but isn't it smarter to think and say those things, than to have a kid and resent it for keeping you from having the life you want? I've seen it happen first hand and it isn't pretty.  Everyone connected to that parent-child relationship is miserable.

I wonder what percentage of people who have kids felt an urge or desire to be a parent/to have kids. Some deep-seated need to sire an offspring, to nurture it to adulthood. I haven't had that pang or twinge.  I don't know what it feels like. I can't imagine it either come to think of it. Or do most people become parents accidentally, without a pang or forethought. Does that more about why so many people are lousy parents and so many kids are dysfunctional than anything?

25 and I have talked about this and we're on the same page.  We're leaving the door open a crack.  We may want kids someday but at this point we are both happy we don't have kids and don't want them now. Knowing that I won't disappoint him because I don't want kids, that we don't have an awkward, potentially relationship ending conversation awaiting us in the abyss that is the future relieves a lot of anxiety and fear. We've talked about the societal convention and expectation, about the shortage or resources and overpopulation that breeding has created, about people we know who are parents.  We both agree that at this point, we don't need to copy our DNA forward to lead a fulfilling, happy lives.

I'd be very interested to see comments from people who have kids, who don't, those who want them, and those who don't. Why did you decide to procreate?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Forced Social Conventions

Today I realized why people get married and why they have babies.  It's primarily because A) it's a social convention and B) it means other people give them stuff.

Living overseas meant very few weddings, and even fewer baby showers . . .actually I attended none of either and was no worse for it.  In fact, I was better off.  Going to these events costs money, often quite a bit of it.  After buying something to wear, a gift, a card, wrapping paper and a bow, travel to the location, food before and/or after, you can easily end up hundreds of dollars in the hole, not to mention the bachelor/ette party and bridal shower. And for what?  It was an event you either didn't want to attend to begin with, or you'd have been happy with it being a third as long as it was.

I do realize that some people have fun at weddings.  The main difference is that they know many of the other people at that wedding, and there is an open bar. Weddings/showers, etc, in which the attendee (me) knows very few of the other attendees (the weirdos) are lots less fun, but lots more awkward to make up for it.

I patiently suffered through a baby shower.  My friend, the pregnant one, is great.  I like her very much, hence the reason she and I have kept in touch since high school, an unmatched feat.  The only folks there other than preggo, her mom, sis and hubby that I knew were people I'd met at her wedding last year. The vast majority of them are married and have kids.  It was a co-ed shower, about twenty adults, and about five infants/toddlers around.  I'm lucky to have escaped without the plague or vomit on me.

If you are unaware of the phenomena I'm about the explain it's either because you have kids that you had early, or you live outside the US.  When you've made it to your thirties and your aren't married and aren't dragging around any germ factories children, you are in a separate class from those of your age who are. I find I have little in common with people generally, and much less with the married mothers and fathers in the group.  How about 3 days at Bumbershoot? Oh, Jimmy is sick? Sorry about that.  I'll send you the photos.  I'm off to Spokane/Missoula/Nebraska/whoknowswhere for months for work. Oh, you can't move about because you have a mortgage and your kids are in school?  I'll send you a postcard.  See where I'm heading with this?

My mother asked me if my biological class was ticking loudly.  My reply, verbatim:  If you mean is it ticking down (the time) until I can leave, yes.  If you mean do I want one of those (babies), no.

I didn't know those people and being in the same room with them, some blue clothes pins, cupcakes and a pregnant woman was not going to change that.  I'd have loved to meet preggo, just the two of us, but schedules don't seems to be allowing for that.  I'd have much preferred to give her a gift then and actually have the opportunity to chat to her.  Instead, during the gift competition, I waved from across the room and had two minutes of talk as I said goodbye and peeled out after two and a half (long, dreadful, painful, excruciating) hours.

I treat myself to some beer on the way home at Powerhouse Brewery in Puyallup.  A growler full of their Scottish Ale is chilling in the fridge now.  Almost makes the whole thing worth it.