Birthday Celebrations

Joy and I noticed some others celebrate their birthday for days.  Justine did 28 days of Justine and Sara celebrates for two weeks before and after her birthday.  Since we are older we needed to scale that back a little.  Anyway I would like to thank Joy for making the days around my birthday wonderful.  Here are the details.

Wednesday April 9th, the Birthday eve was celebrated at a place called The Beer Market. Thy have a very extensive beer selection.  There where twenty beers on tap.  I sampled all the IPAs, a couple of Wiessens, and one bottle of Samichlaus. The Samichlaus was their most potent offering.  I remember reading about this beer ten years ago, but never thought I would get to try it.  Well, it is very strong.  The body was full and on the sweet side.  It is a good thing that is was sweet or the alcohol taste would have been overwhelming. Lizet, a coworker, really enjoyed the Lindemans Framboise they had on tap. She and I share a birthday.  I have worked with a few people that share my birthday.  Joy drove me home the Beer Market so I could really do a good sampling.

Joy Commentary:  Rich definitely enjoyed his night out at The Beer Market.  We had good company and food for the evening.  It was several beers and  five and half hours of fun.  Good thing I drove though.

Thursday was a little slower for some reason.  Joy and I went to the DMV so I could renew my license.  She was worried that it would take a long time, but the DMV in Woodstock is ranked number one in customer service. They are very busy, but extremely efficient.  I was out of there in 20 minuets. I then washed my truck.  Then I was allowed to open my gifts. They gave me a metal work bench, diamond plate peg board, a stress toy that says Boss on it, a collection of gourmet salts, and Vietnamese Cinnamon. For dinner, we went to the best BBQ place in McHenry County.  It is called BBQ King. They are located just off the square in Woodstock.  It’s a busy place.

Joy Commentary:  Who know that a DMV could be so exciting.  From the time you walk in the door until you leave, they keep you moving.  Of course, I discovered it was a great place to people watch.  In the 20 minutes there, I got 5 or 6 good stories on my observations.

Friday is my Bowling Day.  Joy joined me at bowling followed by a visit to Sports Page, our favorite sports bar.  They have the best Buffalo Chicken Wings.  She also got me Birthday Donuts for work.  In my old group, people would bring in donuts for their birthday.  I am trying that idea out on my new group.  I am not sure if it will stick.  They just don’t seem to eat that much.

Saturday, we finished the Birthday celebrations at the Schnitzel Platz.  Bob Beilfuss and Hank Mitchell were playing popular German fest music. This went well with the fine German food and Dunkle Wiessen we where drinking. Even Ricko was enjoying the food and music.  He was our designated driver for the evening.  He did a fine job of getting us back home after the festivities.

Another shout out to Joy for making the past week very special.

Joy Commentary:  Think he’ll remember all of this when it’s my birthday?  Happy birthday, darling.  Glad you enjoyed it.  Sorry, but I could resist the urge to edit the content a bit.

Vacation: Day 3 Give ’em the bird

Day 3 of vacation dawned sunshiny and bright with the sound of a jackhammer outside our window.  At least they waited until 8:00 AM to start drilling on the street below.  Well, we had things to do and places to be anyway today.

We got ready, packed out bags, and headed out of Louisville.  As we were heading out to catch 64, I saw that my old stomping ground had been revived.  O’Shea’s Irish Pub is in the old City Lights and Doc Crow’s BBQ is in the old Great Midwestern.  Now I have a reason to come back and check out more stuff.

For breakfast, I had found a restaurant that I thought Rich might like.  Wild Eggs sounded very similar to the Yolks restaurant we found in Chicago.  Rich did admit to me on the way out to the restaurant that he was a little bit hungover from the drinking the previous evening.  To be fair, he really doesn’t drink that much these days.  Some greasy food and coffee would help.  Then I’m making him drink bourbon this afternoon.

We arrived at Wild Eggs to find people standing outside.  That was a good sign, if you don’t mind a wait.  There was free coffee at the door that you could enjoy as you wait.  We stood outside and talked.  Everyone was churning around in small and large groups.  Everyone directly ahead of us went in.  It would be our turn soon.  I look up and Nicole, the bartender from last night, is walking in the door.  How cool.

A group of people came to sit on the bench when the previous occupants had gone inside.  An older gentleman came up and started talking to us.  I think he was looking for fresh ears to turn that morning.  The group he was with were mostly women.  Soon, our pager buzzed and it was time to say good-bye to the nice man.

We got seated and made our order.  A carafe of water and a carafe of coffee came to the table.  Good, we should have a supply of coffee at our fingertips without waiting for someone to come by.  I ordered chorizo sausage gravy and biscuits with a side of grits.  Rich ordered the breakfast burrito with black beans.  The food arrived and was wonderful. The gravy was tangy with a little bit of spice.  The grits were real hominy and not the instant dried stuff.  Rich’s breakfast plate was amazing.  Everything was fresh and delicious.

Then it was time to hit the road yet again.  We were heading to Lawrenceburg, KY and the Wild Turkey Distillery.  I think we’ve planned to hit just about every distillery there is on the Bourbon Trail.  Wild Turkey was Rich’s next choice.  We arrived a little after 12:00, got tickets for the tour, and had a 20 minute wait.  We walked around the shop, purchased a t-shirt for Rich, and then hung around outside.  There were kids barrel rides dressed up as turkeys.  I just couldn’t resist getting my picture taken.

Jonathan, the tour guide, came out and gathered us up for the bus ride to the distillery on the property.  We got the history lesson for the operation from their start in 1895 through today.  The bus dropped us at the door.  Before going in, Jonathan explained about three large silos just outside of the door.  One silo is for corn, the other for malted barley, and the last one is for rye.  The contents of the three silos is the week’s worth of materials for making Wild Turkey bourbon. Impressive.

During the tour, Rich explained about being a homebrewer and the similarities.  Jonathan immediately zeroed in on the fact that he had to talk to Rich when the tour was over.  We walked around the plant and viewed the displays.  Finally, it was back on the bus and to the tasting room.  Of the 6 or 7 types of bourbon produced at the distillery, you could sample two of them.  Lucky for Rich, I wasn’t sampling.  I got two of the bourbons he wanted and he used his tickets for two others.  This gave him a total of four to sample.  I did sneak a little sip of each.  I know have a new favorite bourbon, if I really drank bourbon.

On the bus, I was talking to the lady in front of me.  She was wearing the most beautiful American Indian jewelry.  I asked her about it and found out that she used to deal in this type of jewelry.  She and her husband lived in Grants, NM.  They ran a shop there and worked with several artists to provide jewelry.  Lucky her.  I told her my story about Rich thinking I knew the name of every American Indian jewelry artist in the southwest.  Too bad she isn’t still in the business.  Today, she, her husband, and her sister-in-law are travelling the country.  Last week, they were in Cape Cod.  Today, they were in Kentucky.

So the tasting ended and Jonathan got to have his conversation with Rich.  We gave him the AHA website and Charlie Papazian’s name.  He and Rich talked details and how to get started.  After stressing the process and not the actually jumping right in, I think Jonathan saw that he was going to be working at this for a while.  We might start hearing his name in the world of beer.

Time to make a decision.  Rich wanted to buy a bottle of the best bourbon he had tasted.  It actually came down to two bottles.  The Kentucky Spirit was great and not that expensive.  However, he could buy a bottle of Rare Breed and have a special label created for the bottle.  His label said:

Bottled specially for the 12 Bar Blues Bar

This is the name of Rich’s bar in the basement.  When the ladies at the desk asked about the reference and he explained the name, they thought it was really cool.  One of the ladies asked why a name like that.  Tanya said, “I’d drink at a bar named 12 Bar Blues Bar!”

It was a day of old guys.  One of the older guys from our tour came in and asked for directions to Louisville.  Only he wasn’t saying it any one of the 5 accepted ways to pronounce it.  The ladies behind the counter were laughing and kept saying Luval, but the guy wasn’t listening.  One of the tour guides stepped in to help him.  But every time the older guy said Louisville, the ladies at the counter started shouting Luval!  I couldn’t help myself and after the third time, I started helping them shout, too!  We went out for about 10 or 15 minutes, before Rich made me leave.  But I was having fun!

OK, back on the road again.  We headed toward Lexington and made our way to I-75.  This means we took a couple of circles.  In Lexington, they love their circle drives.  We found 75 and headed south.  The country here is pretty much mountains.  You are driving through the edge of Harlan County and Hazard.  This is coal country.

Both sides of my families are from Kentucky.  My mother grew up in a small town called Crail Hope.  My granddaddy’s place still evokes a lot of memories.  Smells always send me back there.  One of them is the smell of crude oil.  Why?  Because they were pumping crude oil from a couple of wells on the property while I was growing up.  That was how he supported himself when he retired from farming.  We stopped at a gas station to fill up the tank.  Right next door was a well head pumping away.  It reminded me of walking around the fields at my granddaddy’s.

We meandered our way down to Knoxville TN and toward Gatlinburg.  Our cabin is right off the parkway between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.  I knew the weekend traffic would still be in Pigeon Forge and probably slow us down.  But what we got was absolutely ridiculous.  It was car show weekend in town.  Turns out, the entire strip in downtown is the car show.  Cars of all kinds were lining the strip on both sides.  People had their chairs out and sitting in the grass next to the highway.  Three lanes of traffic were going 10 miles an hour for about 7 or 8 miles.

We figured out to stay in the center lane to keep out of the cruising cars.  But that didn’t mean we were going much faster.  We just stopped less.  People would run across the 6-lane highway.  I think it was an old fashioned game of chicken.  Cars were moving back and forth between lanes, depending on if they needed to turn around and go back around the strip.

After an hour, we finally made it through town and out the highway to our cabin.  At this point, you are technically in the Smoky Mountain National Park.  We got to our road and turned up this big hill.  For those in Southern Indiana, this was the equivalent of driving the Knobs.  It is basically a single lane road that goes straight up the hillside.  Our cabin appeared on the left and we pulled into the concrete pad.

As I thought, the cabin is literally hanging on the side of the mountain.  The concrete pad is little bigger than our CRV would fit on.  We opened the door and started moving in.  It is a little worn, but pretty much as advertised.  The whole cabin is a large great room with a loft for a bedroom.  It was going to be cozy and welcomed.

After getting set up and making a grocery list, we headed into Gatlinburg to look around and grab some food.  We stopped in at the Smoky Mountain Brewery.  The place was packed with football fans watching one of several games.  I guess this is the place to be.  The food was pretty good and the beer wasn’t bad.  We found out that we could have parked in their lot for free after eating there.  We would know better next time.

Now we had to find a grocery store.  Turns out, the two places in Gatlinburg were closed up tight with for sale signs.  Oh My God! We had to go back to Pigeon Forge!  Maybe the traffic was clear and people were going to bed.  Oh no!  They were still going strong at 9:30 at night.  After another half an hour, we made it down to the Kroger.  In the checkout, we found out that if alcohol was not in a plastic or paper bag, it was considered an open container when they stopped you.  We got all of our stuff in plastic bags and packed up to head back on the strip for the cabin.

At 11:00 PM, the cruise was still going on and people were just starting to close up and pack it in.  We managed to get to the outside lane, which made it go a little faster.  We got back to the cabin before midnight.  We decided to sit out on the porch and watch the mountain disappear into the fog.  The stars come out.  Rich said he saw a shooting star, but I didn’t see it.  So there is confirmation.  After a while, it’s pretty dark.  Rich went up to bed.

After all the driving, I was still pretty awake.  I had blogs to write so I sat in the living room on the big couch with my feet up writing.  The sounds of the cabin are quiet and shifting.  I hear things dropping on the roof.  The windows are open to the breeze and the cool evening air.  We sitting up in the air, but I worry that animals can climb up this high.

Finally, it’s time to call it quits.  I go to bed, but I’m too hot to sleep.  I keep listening to the sounds around me.  That is, I try to listen, but the sounds of Rich sleeping are getting in the way.  I want to put my hand over his face when I need to hear something, but that would only wake him up.  I look out the window cut into the side wall of the cabin that looks out to the sky.  I can’t see any stars even though it was clear out.  Oh yeah, the window is too dirty to see.  How would you clean it up here?  I finally go to sleep only to wake in the early morning hours thinking that raccoons have gotten into the kitchen downstairs and knocking things over.  I got downstairs, but it’s only the ice maker dumping ice.  What? No imaginary raccoons?  Back to sleep…finally.

Oh yeah, and the reference to the title for this day is the slogan out at Wild Turkey Distilleries.

Rich doing the rose pose at the Wild Turkey Distillery.
Rich doing the rose pose at the Wild Turkey Distillery.
Big kids will play.  Just a little wild before the tour.
Big kids will play. Just a little wild before the tour.
Our coach awaits.
Our coach awaits.
Barrel houses and shipping department.
Barrel houses and shipping department.

 

Looking down inside one of their fermenters.  No, Rich, you can't have one.
Looking down inside one of their fermenters. No, Rich, you can’t have one.
After the fermenter, the liquid moves to the beer well.  It's a lot of liquid.
After the fermenter, the liquid moves to the beer well. It’s a lot of liquid.
Photo op in the distillery.
Photo op in the distillery.
Rich tasting not two, but four of Wild Turkey's very best.
Rich tasting not two, but four of Wild Turkey’s very best.
One of three silos that hold the products to make fine bourbon.
One of three silos that hold the products to make fine bourbon.
Looking from the back porch up to the road at the cabin.  It's a long way up.
Looking from the back porch up to the road at the cabin. It’s a long way up.
Hot tub on the porch will come in handy.
Hot tub on the porch will come in handy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rich’s comment about his home office

On Tuesday, we both worked at home.  On days like this,  Rich works downstairs at the bar.  I mentioned that it couldn’t be that comfortable.  He tells me there is a motto for his home office:

12 Bar Blues Bar

  • Free wifi
  • Zurekbrau on tap
  • Good bourbon selection on hand
  • Blues playing on the jukebox

What more could you want?

Flood waters are receding

This has been an interesting week.  After almost 6 inches of rain over the short course of three or so days, we were flooded here.  This turned out to be the highest rate that the Fox River has ever seen on record.  The river finally crested at 7.48 feet.  That meant that the channels around us were flooded as well.

On Saturday, the 20th, we went to Michigan to help Jon celebrate his upcoming 50th birthday.  With a cookout at the 40, we celebrated with BBQ and the fixins.  The best part was all of the family who gathered.  It is always good to see Busia.  Irene and her family came up from Fort Wayne and Ohio.  Donna and Norm came in from Chicago.  They all have such a good time.  They are fun to be around.

On Sunday, we returned to find the water a little deep over the roads.  There are barricades to warn people to stay out of the area.  River Road through the state park is closed, cutting us off from McHenry. It seems a little strange driving around it every day to get into the neighborhood.  The best signs are in the neighborhood though.  Basically, it said if you weren’t a resident, you would be arrested.

We were high and dry though.  The basement sprung a leak for a day or so which meant that we were vacuuming up water.  Rich got up early on Thursday to find the basement filling with water.  There was a considerable puddle in front of the bar.  He quickly moved furniture and got the area cleared.  With a little Yankee ingenuity, he built a jig to dam up water and suck it out through a hose to the sump pump.  Luckily, it went from sucking water out every 15 minutes down to an hour at a time.

We’ve talked about fixing the cracks in the basement a couple times, but the leaks were never that bad.  I got motivated and found a company.  I called them and set up an appointment for them to come out and give us an estimate.  They didn’t sound too busy on the phone.  On Friday, Glen came out and took a look.  Rich heard what he wanted to hear.  We set up an appointment to get the work done.  It was time.

The weather improved, so Rick started painting the garage.  We borrowed scaffolding from Dave.  This would make reaching the 10 foot ceilings easier.  The primer went up and he started the white paint on the ceiling and halfway down the wall.  The other half of the walls will be blue gray.  It should look like a real nice workspace and home for Sally when it is done.  We have our fingers crossed that he can complete it by next Saturday.

So plans continue for the annual Derby party here.  The flood waters should be gone.  Rich is still planning to BBQ up brisket, ribs, and chicken.  I have stocked up on food and people are planning to bring things to help out.  Oh yeah, the Zurekbrau is brewed and kegged.  All we need are a few good people to drink it.  We’ll see who shows up.

On Thursday evening, our department was treated to drinks and foods at a local establishment.  We went over to enjoy some time with our co-workers.  While we were talking to people, we came across a couple of new people.  Turns out, a couple of engineers from Krakow are in Schaumburg working in the bay and acting as liaison for products from Krakow.  I found out I actually know them.  We have worked together by phone for a few years.  I guess I’m well known in Krakow as well.  The question everyone there asks is if I speak Polish!  They see the Polish name and hope that I do.  Unfortunately, I only married Polish.  We’ve invited Marcin and Aneta to the Derby party.  Thought it might be fun for them and good me to reinforce my connections to Krakow.

Rich is organizing a reunion of people who served with the same group he was with in Germany.  Someone had started a Facebook page for the related groups.  They have been exchanging photos and memories.  Someone suggested that they meet up for dinner somewhere.  San Antonio came up in the conversation.  That’s as far as it got.  Rich decided to take on the task of really organizing dinner.  Since Rose lives in San Antonio, he went with the suggestion to do it there.  A web site went up on Zurekbrau with an email list.  One of the guy who is in San Antonio is checking out German restaurants in the area.  It looks like we are on for July 6.  Hang on, Rose, we are coming down for the 4th!

Vacations are planned and we are adding these as we go.  I might have brought this up before, but I am excited for it all to start.  I’m working on adding more.

We start out in June for Chicago Bluesfest.  We are staying downtown.  It’ll be the Bluesfest during the day and trying to hit some of the places we’ve wanted to go in the evening.  We are identifying all the brewpubs, bars, and joints that we’ve wondered about.  Should be a busy few days.

The following week, we head out to Kansas City.  My favorite blues band, Trampled Under Foot, is holding a release party for their next album.  Rich put in enough to their Kickstarter account to get invited to the party.  They sent out the date and place.  Now we just have to show up and listen to the music.  I love the name of the bar where we are headed.  It’s called The Trouser Mouse.  More to come on this one.

July will find us in San Antonio for the 4th of July.  We will be attending the first reunion for Rich’s group from the Air Force.  Should be fun as well.  It’ll be nice to Rose and hang out with her for a while.

In August, B. B. King and Peter Frampton are coming Aurora for a concert.  I’ve wanted to see B.B. for a while.  Peter is an extra.  I purchased my tickets and ready to go.  I’m hoping for good weather as this is an outdoor concert.  More to come on this, too.

In September, we head down to the Great Smoky Mountains for a little hiking and some mountain views.  It’s been a while since I’ve been down there.  Rich hasn’t been.  Once again, we are hoping for good weather since we plan to be outside a lot.  Big question is: bears or no bears.  There’s a good bet of seeing at least one.

Well, it’s time to start another week.  I have deliveries this week.  But I don’t think that will mean my workload will get easier.  Might be time to think about expanding the team again.  We’ve definitely got more than enough work to go around, and then some.

 

Cars made their way slowly through the water on Tower Rd.
Cars made their way slowly through the water on Tower Rd.
Looking down Holiday Rd back to the river.
Looking down Holiday Rd back to the river.
This was Tower Rd coming in to our part of the neighborhood.
This was Tower Rd coming in to our part of the neighborhood.
The sign says it all.
The sign says it all.
This is the playground at Hickory and Tower.
This is the playground at Hickory and Tower.
Water coming over the road at Moraine State Park.
Water coming over the road at Moraine State Park.
There is a road under there called Lakeview.
There is a road under there called Lakeview.
Looking down Holiday back up to Sunset.
Looking down Holiday back up to Sunset.
Standing at Tower and Hickory looking toward the lake.
Standing at Tower and Hickory looking toward the lake.
We had hail really bad during one of the storms.
We had hail really bad during one of the storms.
There is a Goose Island in McHenry now.
There is a Goose Island in McHenry now.
This garter snake was trying to stay safe and dry.
This garter snake was trying to stay safe and dry.
One of the houses on river has their deck elevated over the edge of the river.  That's about all you see.
One of the houses on river has their deck elevated over the edge of the river. That’s about all you see.
Standing at Tower and Hickory looking toward the lake.
Standing at Tower and Hickory looking toward the lake.
At Catalpa, you can see this house that sits on the river and around the bend from Squirrel Alley.
At Catalpa, you can see this house that sits on the river and around the bend from Squirrel Alley.
This is the view across the channel.
This is the view across the channel.

Happy Easter

Happy Easter! Once again, it was a good day for a Polish eating holiday. We had pierogi and sausage for brunch along with Mimosas for the adults. Zurek soup was on lunch followed by lamb, wild rice, and crescent rolls for dinner. Rich picked out a really nice pinot for the adult beverage.We had the annual biting of the ears on the bunnies this afternoon. We only do one basket these days. That way we share the goodies. Rick and Rich get their own bunnies so they can bite the ears off of them. I don’t need a bunny. Just give me the Cadbury eggs. Sascha wanted her bunny, but I didn’t want to start a bunny chase. The squirrels are bad enough.

The weather finally warmed up enough for the drywall to go up. The contractor called to say he expected to be out on Wednesday to start work. It’s amazing what one guy can do if he is an expert. Funny, his name was Rich also. Too many around this week for me to keep them straight. The first day saw the ceiling go up. On the second day, the walls were up. Friday saw the taping and mudding. Looks great in there. This is going to be one nice garage.

Rich was planning on the mud to be dry on Saturday so we could start getting the primer up. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. He and Rick went out and got paint anyway so we would be ready when the weather is warmer. They got white paint for the top and blue gray for the bottom of the wall.

On Friday, we all to bowling. Rick took his ball along in case they needed someone and he could take the opportunity to bowl with a real team. The fourth on Rich’s team didn’t come in, so Rick got to bowl with his Dad. I think he enjoyed it. Rick did bowl pretty well for not being a full time player. However, Rich’s last game was awesome. He did 209 without his handicap. There were 5 or 6 strikes in there.

That gave us a good reason to head over to The Sports Page for wings and nachos. From there, we could finish up the Louisville game and watch the remainder of the Kansas game. I wore my Louisville shirt to bowling. The guy who owns the alley came down to tell me that he was turning on the Louisville game down by me just so I could watch. How cool was that.

Speaking of March Madness, Alex ran the Z Family Pool again this year. The same cast of characters applied along with a few new ones. For $20, we can put in our bracket and hope for the best. This year’s list of unlikely winners hurt most of us. It would have been a good year to pick the underdogs. I picked Louisville, but I’m not top dog on the list. That would be James (JimiZ).

Rich and Rick picked Kansas. Now they wished they had Louisville, but they are cheering right alongside me. I was watching Louisville earlier this year and was highly impressed with how the team was setting up to get shots. Peyton Siva is directing traffic and the team was responding. Now I see them taking that all the way to the finals.

I called and got a quote for the electrical work on the garage. The guy came by one night and walked through the work with Rich. On Thursday, he sent his quote by email. Rich thought it was a good price for the entire scope of work and not just for getting the service out to the garage. On Friday, the contractor left a phone message wanting to start on Monday. Rich figured he’d call on Monday and try to set it up as soon as possible. Then an email came in on Saturday still wanting to start on Monday. So I guess the electric out to the garage starts on Monday. Now we’ll have lights while we paint.

We’ve started planning for the Derby Party. Rich brewed beer on Thursday. So there will be wheat and cherry wheat available on party day. The weather got warm enough to turn on the water spicket and for standing around the garage.

The weather had better get warmer is all I can say. Where is spring? I know the winter has been terrible. But I am so ready for warm weather and lots of sunshine. I keep thinking it’ll be better soon, but the cold keeps hanging on. By May 4, it’ll be warm, right?

I’m hoping for a better week coming up. At least, Easter was nice.

Snuggling on a Sunday morning.
Snuggling on a Sunday morning.
Such a sweet face.
Such a sweet face.
Sascha enjoying big red chair time.
Sascha enjoying big red chair time.
Sascha catching up on the rays.
Sascha catching up on the rays.
Community Easter basket of goodies.
Community Easter basket of goodies.
Annual biting of the bunnies.
Annual biting of the bunnies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bunnies missing ears.
Bunnies missing ears.
Easter eggs for Zurek soup.
Easter eggs for Zurek soup.
Rich brewing beer for Derby.
Rich brewing beer for Derby.
Drywall going up out in the garage.
Drywall going up out in the garage.
Real walls up now to hide the insulation.
Real walls up now to hide the insulation.
New walls all ready for paint.
New walls all ready for paint.
Yeah, someone else had to reach up high for the ceiling.
Yeah, someone else had to reach up high for the ceiling.
Is this is?
Is this is?
Rick was happy with his handiwork.
Rick was happy with his handiwork.
Rich admiring it.
Rich admiring it.
All those paint samples.
All those paint samples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Latest holiday season

So instead of writing my blog on Sunday, I went down to The Roundhouse for appetizers and beers.  We decided to take a road trip to Aurora with a friend.  We had wanted to go down and check out the surroundings for Two Brothers.  We’ve had some of their beers and now it was time to see what The Roundhouse was like.  The structure is an old train turnaround on the tracks leading in and out of Chicago.

The Roundhouse had originally been saved from decay by Walter Payton and his business partners.  They set it up as a restaurant and beer house.  After Walter was gone, the restaurant slowly declined.  Two Brothers Brewing decided to expand their food and service by buying the property and making it their own.  They are in the process of setting brewing on the premises.

History is very nice and the restaurant is pretty good.  We took Rick along to act as chauffer for us.  The beers were very good.  I had samplers so I could enjoy more of the beers.  I can only drink one beer so the samplers equal to one, but I can have more flavors.

We got hit with winter and a snow storm on Thursday night into Friday.  We got about 7 inches on top of the 4 inches we already had on the ground.  It was heavy and wet.  Earlier in the week, we had snow and rain.  The commute was agonizing.  One day, it took an hour and an half to crawl to the Mot.  On Friday, it was a much better idea to stay at home and work.  Didn’t hurt that I wasn’t feel that well anyway.

The snow left a wonder world of lacy limbs and icy puddles.  On Saturday, Rich and I took Sascha out for a walk through the snow.  We wondered down to the river.  Geese were hanging out.  Sascha was barking and trying to reach them.  Not all of the river was frozen and the geese gained the freedom of the water’s edge.  I took pictures of the scene.

We continued around through the neighborhood.  We wandered down through squirrel alley.  This is the road that continues around by the river and back into the hood.  We call it squirrel alley due to the great number of squirrels who live in the woods surrounding it.  These squirrels go to great lengths to torment the dogs.  Sofie had a hard time walking through there and Sascha barely makes it through the length of the road.  We rarely walk through there.

Around and about, we ended up down by the lake.  It looked really questionable on whether it would hold a human walking across it.  We could see several fishermen out on the ice and fishing away. Rich attempted to walk out there.  He sunk into the water and decided to give up the attempt.  I wanted to take Sascha out on the ice to see if she would walk out there.  She’s going to have to pull the sled when Rich decides to ice fish himself.

Back home, I needed to clean up the house before the housekeeping people came out.  I know that sounds ridiculous.  I don’t do much, but I feel I need to pick things up out of their way so they could clean.  Then there is the matter of all that dog hair.  We do have a Husky and they drop an entire dog every two weeks.  I keep telling Rich we need to name that dog that appears in the hallway in our room.  So I vacuum up the excess dog hair so they only have to mop and get up the dirt.

Rick received his long awaited scarf in the mail this week.  Back in the fall, he decided that he wanted a scarf just like Tom Baker wore in an earlier version of Doctor Who.  This scarf is striped and very, very long.  I was surprised at his choice.  Tom Baker was my Doctor Who in the 1980s.  He asked around to see who knew how to knit.  It turned out that his Aunt Kelli could knit and was willing to create this scarf for his Christmas present.  Since it took a little longer to finish, Kelli sent the scarf through the mail.  Now, Rick wanders around with this scarf draped around his neck.  Everyone comments on it.  Thanks, Kelli.

Ah yeah, Rick finally completed the insulation in the garage.  Now the walls are ready for drywall.  Rich decided to have a professional do the work.  It would be easier on us and would only take a few days rather than week.  So Rich is checking around for someone to do the work.  He has a couple of sources to find a professional.  It just seemed like it was taking a while to connect with someone.  Rich thinks he has someone and there is a possible meeting for a quote on Saturday.  Hopefully, this moves forward.  More to come on that.

Valentine’s Day has come.  Our habit is only to exchange cards.  There is no need for gifts or a great show.  We’ve even given up going out to eat on that day.  The restaurants are packed and it is noisy.  We stay at home and enjoy the quiet.  This week, Valentine’s fell on our normal family eating out day.  We moved it up one day.

After having a really long day at work, I decided that a drink would help.  We headed out to The Onion Pub in Barrington.  This is a very nice pub.  The food tends to be iffy, but the beer is always excellent.  The beer cheese soup is also great.  So a Russian Imperial Stout and beer cheese soup is always good on a cold day.  Once again, Rick was the chauffer.  Did I really do that to him twice in one week?

This year, Rich snuck in and got me a gift for Valentine’s.  I was totally caught off guard.  I didn’t have my card yet!  I opened the package and was very, very surprised.  I didn’t even know that Rich listened to me when I rattle on.  Of course, I can’t tell you what it was, but I absolutely loved it!  I did finally go out at lunch time and picked up the perfect card.  Oh yeah, I also got the latest SI swimsuit issue for Rich.

The next big holiday is Rick’s 19th birthday on March 9.  I know he wants a cool gift and that means a lot of money.  I tell him that’s not going to happen.  He keeps showing me pictures of cool guitars.  They are Les Pauls, no less.  Then there is something about a Jack Harkness coat.  It is not on my list though.  I did get a couple of things.  I don’t think he’ll be too disappointed.

I’ve even started on Rich’s birthday gifts.  It’s never too soon to shop.  Rich has decided that he wants to go to Hofbrau Haus that opened in Rosemont this winter.  That’s OK.  We’ll enjoy some good German food with some good German beer in a very nice German environment.

I’m still collecting up pictures of that moment known as “I have a heavy weight on my chest.”  Since Sascha loves to be a lap dog, it tends to spread to your chest.  My collection of photographic evidence of this phenomenon is growing.

Rich was having trouble with a little chest pain the other day.  Sascha seemed to be fine .
Rich was having trouble with a little chest pain the other day. Sascha seemed to be fine .
A close up of Sascha making sure that squirrel didn't cross the line into her yard.
A close up of Sascha making sure that squirrel didn’t cross the line into her yard.
It's hard to tell, but that's Rick under that big ball of fur.  Yeah, he was having chest pain too.
It’s hard to tell, but that’s Rick under that big ball of fur. Yeah, he was having chest pain too.
A good way to see the snow that accumulated from the last few snows.
A good way to see the snow that accumulated from the last few snows.
Snow was falling as Sascha was watching that pesky squirrel that was just out of reach.
Snow was falling as Sascha was watching that pesky squirrel that was just out of reach.
It was my turn to feel under pressure.  Sascha was just wanting a little love.
It was my turn to feel under pressure. Sascha was just wanting a little love.
It was snowing pretty good out there.
It was snowing pretty good out there.
Just a shot of Griswold Lake with the ice fishermen out there.
Just a shot of Griswold Lake with the ice fishermen out there.
Rich was feeling a little under the pressure.  I'm not sure why though.
Rich was feeling a little under the pressure. I’m not sure why though.
Rich walking Sascha down to the river.
Rich walking Sascha down to the river.
Rick finally got his Christmas present from Aunt Kelli.  Great scarf.
Rick finally got his Christmas present from Aunt Kelli. Great scarf.
Sascha was watching the geese that she just couldn't get down at the river.
Sascha was watching the geese that she just couldn’t get down at the river.

End of September already?

Last week, someone said that they would see me at Christmas.  I was thinking it was still a ways away.  Not!  How could it be the end of September already?  I just went on vacation (back in May) and we just had the pig roast (back in June).  I know, I know.  Only an old person says that time flies by.  I’m not old!

Rich and Sascha have been taking advantage of the nice weather to go biking with the Walky Dog this week.  That came to a scary halt on Saturday.  They broke the Walky Dog!  Luckily, Sascha didn’t have a chance to take off.  While riding on the first half of the circle, one side of the dual strings broke all the way through.  Rich managed to get back to the house with Sascha before the other side gave way.

Because Sascha constantly pulls on the strings and compresses the springs inside to their maximum, Rich thought Sascha had broken the Walky Dog.  Turns out, the connector had a bur on the inside that rubbed the strings and that’s what really broke the strings.  I’m sure it doesn’t help that Sascha is trying to run at her 20+ MPH and stresses the device to its max.

Rich smoothed the bur off the connector.  We went to the hardware store for string as strong as we could get.  The strings on the device were for 550 lbs of dead weight.  We got a similar strength, but it just didn’t seem that strong.  Rich added the new strings and then took it out for a test run.  Sascha didn’t snap it yet.

After some research, Rich found that he could get parachute cord at the sporting goods store.  Hopefully, that will come with a higher rating.  I just don’t want to chase down a Siberian Collie again.  She’s fast.

Rich got a call from the contractor with an update on the garage.  They were able to reach the building inspector for the village and start working with him on the plans and permits.  They are looking into some variances that we need to do the garage just like we want.  So far, we are moving forward.  With some luck, we can build like we want.  If not, we’ll have to see what happens.  It might be Plan B then for the car situation here.  Stay tuned for more updates.

Rick came in from work.  He got a job working at Stades Farms, which is a local pumpkin farm.  They have rides and activities and use the local kids to man each of them.  This was Rick’s first full weekend.  He was hired as backup and fill in or if someone quits on them.  Today, he manned the big slide and the pedal cars.  As he says, he gets to yell at the kids to knock it off and quit horsing around.  At least, he has a little spending money.

It was quiet and I didn’t do much.  I created pictures from some Yosemite and Sequoia National Park postcards and hung them in the living room to go with the outdoors and fishing theme.  They look nice.

Next weekend is Iron Invasion.  This is a huge car show and demonstration.  It’s the first annual, so I don’t really know what will go on.  Rich is volunteering and driving Sally up to put her on display with the other hundreds of cars expected.  I’ll be sure to take pictures.  I’m just hoping for nice weather.

Now it is October

So I decided not to post this blog.  Now I have more to add.

Today, Rich took the day off to brew beer.  This was an absolute necessity since there was no beer in the house.  Also, this is the beer that needs to be on tap for Thanksgiving.  Rich decided on a Zombie Dust clone.

For those who don’t know, Three Floyds is a microbrewery in the Chicagoland area with a knack for brewing some great beers.  One of these is Zombie Dust.  It is a citrus-based, hoppy beer that hits your taste buds and lingers on into the back of the throat with a bright, hoppy flavor.

After sleeping in for an hour or two, Rich got started with the brewing process.  Of course, I was inside at my desk slaving away over a document that needs to be ready yesterday.  I did venture out a couple of times to check on the progress.  Progress went well.  This was a small batch though.  Since it was an experiment, Rich only did 5 gallons instead of the usual 10 gallons.  Less painful if you have to throw it out in disgust.

Finally, the batch was done and transferred to the fermenter.  As usual, Rich took a sample to test for gravity and alcohol content.  It looked to be about 6% alcohol.  We then tasted the raw beer.  Even without fermentation, it was pretty good.  It tasted a little like grapefruit when it first hits your mouth and then turns mellow as you push it to the back of the throat.  It was very, very good.  I can’t wait for the finished product!

While cleaning up, Rich had a beer on the table so he could drink as he went.   However, he wasn’t really watching the glass closely.  He took a drink and got more than he could drink.  There was a bee enjoying the nectar as well.  Unfortunately, the bee stung Rich inside of his mouth.  There was beer all over the garage where Rich had spit it out to get rid of the bee!  Don’t worry, Rich and the bee are okay.

Carolyn at work said that Rich was torturing Sascha by making her run alongside the bike.  I assure you that Sascha is only tortured while she has to wait for Rich to get things set up to take her running!  As soon as she thinks Rich is even thinking about touching the bike, Sascha is all over the door.  This is one of the few times that she actually barks!

 

Can't stand still
Sascha is a ball of energy while she waits for Rich to get the bike ready.

 

Excited husky
That’s one excited Husky waiting for Rich. He has to lock the door to keep her under control.

 

Getting ready to roll
Looks like we are getting ready to roll now.

 

Boy and his dog
There they go down the road for a nice run.

 

Brewer at work
Starting up a small batch of Husky Paws (Zombie Dust clone).

 

Good stuff in that pot
A peek at the brew as it brews. Smells good!

 

Putting the jacket on the pot
Almost like getting ready for dinner. Gotta put on the jacket.

Vacation Day 2: Long and Winding Road

Day 2 is another driving adventure.  We drove from Council Bluffs, IA to Cheyenne, WY.  On Wednesday, the temperature was 92.  Today, we never hit 70!  I hope it gets better.

I forgot to mention that Rick continually searches for great root beer.  As Rich is tasting beers at brewpubs across the west, Rick is tasting root beers.  Brewpubs not only brew beers, but they also brew their own root beers.  Yesterday, Rick tasted the Bugeater root beer at Upstream Brewery.  He declared it one of the best he has had, but the label was the best.  It was a preteen age boy with bug eyes and a butterfly net.  Rick searches on for great root beer on this trip.

I wanted to say that nothing exciting happened today.  Rich corrected me on that though.  He says it was a plus that he woke up today.  I think so too.

Driving across Nebraska, you cross the Platte River about 600 times.  It has different names at different places, but it’s still the Platte River.  The exciting thing was all of the swallows flying over and around the river.  I wondered what bugs they were eating.  We stopped in North Platte (the town) for lunch.  I could see quite clearly that they were eating a ton of grasshoppers!  Keeping the next plague in check.

Rich says the other exciting thing to happen was his free coffee.  We stopped for gas before leaving Iowa and went in to get coffee for the drive.  There was coffee in the container, but the attendant was afraid it wasn’t hot enough.  It was fine with me, but Rich thought it was cold.  The poor guy quickly made more coffee for Rich.  But when we got to the register, he didn’t charge us for Rich’s cup because it wasn’t right the first time!

We stopped at one rest area for a break.  There was a lake behind the visitor’s center with a kinetic sculpture floating just off shore.  It moves and expands with the wind and contracts when there is little or no wind.  Today, there was a mild breeze, so it was tightly compacted.  I can’t image what it looked like yesterday with 35 mph gusts!

As we got ino Wyoming, we could see a storm just south of the highway.  It was raining, looked really dark, and threatening.  It’s amazing how far you can see out here.  At one rest area, I walked out to take pictures of the storm.  It just looked so near, but yet so far away.

We arrived early in Cheyenne, which gave us a chance to relax.  I logged into email to look around.  I know, I know.  I’m on vacation.  I guess I just don’t completely disconnect, but I still enjoy my time off.  Then I don’t feel totally disconnected when I return.

For dinner, we found the Shadows Brewing Company housed in the old train station in downtown Cheyenne.  It was beautiful inside and the brewing equipment was the center piece of the station.  We got seated and ordered drinks.  Rick got his root beer.  Rich started with an IPA (I don’t remember the name).  It had a strange flavor to it.  Not the best drinking beer.  I ordered the Buffalo Brown Ale, which had a slightly sweet flavor with a deep background that hung in your mouth.

For dinner, I had the beef brisket with cole slaw and sweet potato fries.  It came with a brown sugar sauce for the fries that was heavenly.  The brisket was so good.  Rich had the sirloin steak.  He enjoyed it a great deal.  Rick got a simple meatball sandwich since he claimed not to be all that hungry.   Rich ordered the amber ale as his dessert beer, which turned out to be very good.

So now is time to post pictures and settle in for the night.  I could use a good night’s sleep.  Tomorrow, we’re off to Park City, Utah.

Kinetic sculpture on the lake behind a visitor's center in Nebraska.I love reading the signs at rest stops. This explained the Great Plains that we were about to drive into.
 
Tried to get a picture of this storm going on just south of the highway. It was sunny on the highway.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rich and I created a double Rose pose at the Shadows Brew Company in Cheyenne before going in for dinner.
 

Happy 50th Birthday, Rich!

Yesterday, the 10th, was Rich’s 50th birthday.  It was a quiet day.  No big partying here.  He did take the day off from work to enjoy some of his favorite things. 

Early in the morning, his Busia called to wish him a happy birthday.  He wasn’t up yet.  We talked for a bit.  She was reminiscing about the time she took the train down to Roswell, NM from Chicago to see him.  In her stories, there is a lot of dust.  I can see why.  It is a very sandy area and the wind blows a lot.  I loved one of her last statements.  “I was 40 when Rich was born.  I was only a child!”  Compared to her 90 years, she probably was at that time.

Rich didn’t sleep in too late.  After a cup of coffee and the paper, he turned his attentions to getting caught up on the computer.  He had Sally business to take care of this morning.  After checking out Facebook and his email, he pulled up the page he wanted.  I’m not sure of the name of the business, but the guy’s name was Dick.  With phone in hand, Rich proceeded to call Dick.  BTW: Rich uses the name Dick when he is feeling bad ass.  Seems appropriate.

Dick answered the phone and the conversation about carburetors got underway.  Dick is in the business of rebuilding these nice little attachments to an engine at his shop way down in Texas.  Rich finished describing his issues and what kind of little metal components he had.  Dick had a list of specific questions for how Rich wanted them to work when them came back.  I believe there was an agreement and Rich wrote up a letter with the details and boxed up the carbs for a trip to Texas.  Now Sally will be bad ass too.

Next order of business was to take Sascha to Moraine State Park for a run on one of the trails.  Packing up scooter, harness, and dog, Sascha and Rich left in the truck.  No, Rich was driving and not Sascha. An hour and a half later, they returned, just as I was leaving to pick up birthday cake.  Sascha was in the back of the truck and not the cab.  The tail was wagging a hundred miles an hour and she had a big grin on her face.  She was also very wet.

The Opossum Run trail that Rich likes is about 3 miles long.  There are lots of hills and valleys.  There is also a ditch that is usually filled with water.  Sascha remembers this ditch very well.  We’ve made the mistake of letting her get a drink from the ditch, but she always plops down in the water instead.  She loves to lay in her pool of water, wherever it is.  I think Sascha is beginning to learn the trail.  She stopped at the picnic table where I had to take a rest and she got water.  Only Rich wasn’t ready to stop!

Since they had returned early, I took Rich to lunch while I was out on my errand. Herb’s Bakery makes the most divine cakes and they taste like there is so little sugar in them.  I don’t know how they do that.  The cakes are buttery soft, not overly sweet, and they decorate them in such cute ways.  I can’t find anyone else who makes such a cake, so I make the drive several miles to pick one up.  They are so worth it!  I told them to decorate the cake with something beer related.  There were little tin beer cans hanging over the cake.  Well worth the trip again this year.

So we stopped at the Beef Villa just up the street from Herb’s.  Around here, there are hot dog stands by the dozens.  They all serve hot dogs and italian beef sandwiches with fries.  Standing at the counter, the menu was limited, but it did look good.  I decided on the reuben sandwich and Rich got italian beef with cheezy fries.  I don’t know about Rich’s sandwich, but mine was excellent.  It really hit the spot.  So this means I took Rich to lunch and I paid for it.

One more stop before we headed home.  We were going right by Woodman’s Grocery.  There, Rich needed to pick up frozen Door County cherries for his cherry wheat beer that he was expecting to brew within the next few days.  Yep, cherry wheat beer was required for the June pig roast.  Cherries and pig go together, I think.

So I had to get back to work.  Yep, I had worked through Rich’s phone call to Dick and while he was out scootering with Sascha.  Now back to more work.  Rich spent his afternoon hanging out around the house.

Rick got home from school and we sat Rich down on the couch to open cards and presents.  We got him a book called Chicago by the Pint.  It was a history of the great breweries in Chicago.  Then he got real moosehid moccassins to keep his feet warm and dry.  Finally, we got his a flamed bowling shirt and a backup shirt that was just styling red and black.  Now he has a choice when he wants to bowl. 

For dinner, Rich chose Slyce.  This is a really cool pizza place that cooks their pies in coal fired ovens.  The menu has already created combinations, which are excellent.  Then you can create your own, but can you get one better than they have already created.  I’m not so sure.  We got one white and one red.  White was olive oil with fennel sausage, cream, and basil.  The red was meatball, pepperoni, and ham with basil.  Both were excellent. 

Rich likes this place not only for their pizza, but because they carry an excellent assortment of craft beers.  A few are on tap, like he prefers.  He started off with one IPA and finished with a second one from a different brewery.  Since we had a designated driver, I had the Audacious Apriot wheat.  It was a nice dinner out with the family. 

Back at the ranch, we finally fired up that movie, “Paul,” that’s been recorded forever and we never got around to.  I had watched bits and pieces while it was still running on the movie channel, but I had never seen the very beginning.  It was cute and had several good laughs.  Then it was cake time.  We opened up the chocolate with raspberry filling cake, sang Happy Birthday, and ate up. 

Now our habit in the past has been to include the dogs in our lives.  Sofie even learned to sing along with the song.  I’m not sure it was Happy Birthday she was singing, or she was just yelling for you to throw down that cake.  This makes the fourth birthday we’ve had since Sascha has joined us.  And guess what?  She has learned that when we sing Happy Birthday, good things happen.  She danced around with the song.  Next birthday, we’ll have to have video of her dance. 

To finish off the night, Rich got a call from his brother, Alex.  That really helped to make an end to a good day.  He enjoys talking to his family and Alex in particular.  It might that they can talk stocks.  After getting caught up with Alex, he toddled off to bed to read a few chapters before lights out.

I do believe Rich had a great birthday.  I thought turning 50 would be tough for him, but he seems to have weathered it well. Today, I ran out early to pick up donuts for work.  Everyone expects to share in your good fortune.  They seem to like the donuts from our local bakery in particular. 

Happy birthday, Rich.  Hard to believe you survived your youth and are getting ready for some middle age.  Enjoy it though.

Cake from Herb's
The wonderful little cake that Herb's made for Rich.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chicago by the Pint
Another beer book for his collection.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Moosehide moccassins
Oh, moosehide! New moccassins for the feet.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bowling shirt with flames
He has flames on Sally and now flames on his bowling shirt!

Pumpkin Ale Update

The pumpkin ale is kegged and resting until Thanksgiving day.

Carbonating in the Beer cooler.

Also had some extra ale so I put it in bottles to give away around the Holidays.

Pumpkin Ale in bottles for easier transportation

Even though it was warm and non-carbonated the taste was quite pleasant.  It should be a hit at Thanksgiving.