Friday, September 25, 2015

Craft Brew Dinner #5

It has been a busy week, but finally I can write about this past Monday night when we attended another Heritage Series Craft Brew Dinner at Dexter's Pub.  We have grown from just my wife and I, to us plus my friend Ted, to us and Ted plus his friend, to us and Ted and SteveBob and another couple, Josh and Casey.  We got our half a dozen seats about a month ago, maybe 2 days after seats became available, and from what I understand it sold out all 20 available seats just a day or so later - quicker than usual, word must be getting out.

20150921_195646I don't want to spend a whole lot of time on it, but it was not the best dinner in this series that we've attended.  The rep for Deschutes Brewery was a likable guy who had the knowledge of the brewery but had bad timing for his between course talks.  Normally the waitresses have a routine; serve the featured beer, serve the course, remove plates and glasses as finished, and repeat for all 5 or 6 courses.  The rep has everyone's attention when the featured beer is being served, not when everybody gets the paired course of food.  There was some good swag included - pint glass, can/bottle coolie, sticker and what is a wide rubber band with their name printed on it that I think they want to be a wristband - I didn't say it was all good swag.

Their beers were kind of a letdown for me, though.  They didn't suck, but nothing stood out.  Many ales, one bitter, at least none of my least favorite, the perfumey-tasting IPAs.

In keeping up with what I started doing at dinner #1, there is a staged photo of beer, dessert and menu here.  The menu was bigger this time so you can't read it all, but you get the gist.

To cut to the chase, the biggest disappointment of the night came when half of our party, my wife and I included, got the last three of the second course served from the kitchen.  It was a "Volcano" pork sandwich.  While all others got the heat, it was just a pork sandwich for us three.  They must have run out of the jalapeno jelly for the last three sandwiches.  We had absolutely no spice.  The pork tasted good but for us there was nothing "Volcano" about it.  Plus, one had no little crispy onions and there were complaints of fattiness in some sandwiches.  They sold only 20 seats yet seem to have run out of some things when serving.  Makes me wonder if that happened to others that happened to get the last dishes out of the kitchen for a course.

For now, the next scheduled dinner is with Rogue Brewing Company, and we have not heard good things about their beers from our friends that know more about that kind of thing.  And the menu is, well, meh.  We've attended four in a row and after this one I think we will be skipping the next but we will surely keep an eye on future dinners, still.  Thanks, Nick!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Firepit And Basement Stands

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We had a firepit on Saturday night, our first one of the year.  We had planned a firepit party twice in the last couple of months but both times turned out to be among the hottest days of the year.  We still had the party but we never lit a fire,  we just stayed inside in the air conditioning.  Now that Fall is here - or will be in a day or two - we should have better weather for it.

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With friends over I had the help I needed to get the washer and dryer into place on the new stand. The freezer is already on it's little stand, left.  If you take a look you can see how I also have the metal shelves up on wood and the bottom shelves painted with the same mold and mildew proof paint.  We've not had any water in the basement in quite some time now, and when we do it just trickles to the drain, but it has been damp enough down there for me to raise, replace and paint the bottom shelves after mold had grown on the bottom side a couple years ago.

20150922 005The washer/dryer stand is pretty cool.  It's only 12 inches high but makes a world of difference getting laundry in and out - or will.  I've been busy (okay - lazy on Sunday, but that's what Sundays are for!) since then so I finally got them balanced and hooked up again tonight.  Essentially, the stand doubles the height of the opening from when they were on the floor.  And that means a lot when you have a back like mine, but I still keep an old office chair down there so I don't bend so much.

Last night we went to another Heritage Series Craft Brew Dinner at Dexter's Pub.  This time we had 6 in our group.  It was fun but I do have my complaints.  I'll write about it later, I've got stuff to do tonight other than more writing so that will probably be my next post.  See ya then!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Birthday This-And-Thats

Yes, today is my birthday.  I will forever get to hear 9/11 tributes and remembrances for the rest of my life on my birthday, Patriot Day.  This date has become defined by the events of 14 years ago.  It is one of those dates when you ask people where they were they can tell you exactly how that day was for them.  I may have told my story here, I'd have to check.  If not then I'll tell it on this day some year in the future, I'm sure.  I've been otherwise busy lately, so I probably have other stuff to say today.  Time to start typing and find out what it is!
  • I've not heard anything back from the bank on my request for compensation for what we went through the other day.  I'm sure I won't.  I'm glad they are trying to look out for us, but why were we not notified immediately when they put a hold on our account?  That is the big question.  Turns out, essentially they are always suspicious about purchases from this large retail giant's website.  The bigger the money the bigger the flag.  No matter how much fraud happens on that retail outlet's web store, why were we not notified right away when they put a hold on our account?  My wife had to go without lunch that day and day one of my vacation was delayed by almost 3 frustrating hours because their system was down, lucky us.  What if I had already gone out to lunch and tried to run errands before my wife texted me that her card was denied?  It is always embarrassing if that happens - and rarely is it ever justified for anyone you see it happen to.  If you didn't have the money you'd know it, or most would, I would hope.
  • The basement stands that I built earlier this week have been painted, two coats of mold and mildew proof paint, and are down in the basement.  The freezer stand was (relatively) easier for me to get in place under the freezer but the washer/dryer stand will have to wait for help.  I'll try to get a few friends over soon to help get the washer and dryer on top of the stand, then I will share pics.  It's gonna be pretty neat.
  • I've also managed to get several more projects crossed off my list the past couple days.  Most notably, I got all the edging done along the front sidewalk, all that I will do this season - I don't want to put any more of that sod in the compost bin this year (I don't think the walks have been edged in 30 years!).  I've started cutting back, and in a few cases removing, some plants for fall.  I also built and installed a new gate for the garden out of leftover lumber to replace the old gate that was sticking and getting hard to open.  Check, check, and check.  And there's still plenty more on my to-do list for later.  There always is, right?
  • I must admit that lately I have peeked at "Sammi's" farcebook page once or twice since I posted about her.  And I am feeling a lot better about the situation now.  She mostly re-posts the usual drivel that comes from there, but she has also made it a point to complain recently about having a toothache but no insurance and how she had to call the police on her roommate for stealing her laptop.  This woman is older than me yet she seems to have regressed since I have known her.  Not really the type of friend I want to have now, anyway.  Bullet dodged.  Now I worry because I gave her my phone number and this blog address.
Well, it has been a restful yet productive week off for me.  This weekend brings football with the Badgers at 11 on Saturday and the Packers at noon on Sunday.  Yes, that means Summer is almost over so we must enjoy what is left of it .  The rest of this weekend is mostly my own.  We do look forward to seeing some friends tomorrow night for an evening out, and I hope for something nice with my wife and I, but come Monday it is a new week with a new mindset for me.  Back to the grind, so they say...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Basement Stands and Poor Banking

20150907 022I enjoy those days spent working on a project in the garage for hours at a time.  Playing music and making sawdust are always fun, but the accomplishment of creation is nice, too.  I had one of those days yesterday, creating a stand for the washer and dryer and also a small platform for the freezer.  We have not had water in the basement for quite some time, and when we have had water it just runs toward the drain so this may not be necessary for flooding, but why take a chance?  And the washer/dryer stand will also lessen the bending.

20150907 020The washer/dryer stand assembled almost exactly as I had figured in my head and crude drawings.  Once I figure out the dimensions the length of the pieces falls right into place.  I started by cutting the 4x4 legs to an approximate length then pulled out the table saw to help get flat ends.  Well, I got the table saw out but the blade would not raise.  I tried taking it apart but could not find the problem to fix.  This is probably one of the cheapest table saws available, I got good use out of it over the past few years.  I saved the blade but the rest is now junk.  I made a quick dash to my favorite local DIY center but I did not want the same cheap one, the next step up only the floor model was to be had, then they just got pricier.  After considering how little I would need it for this project, I left without a purchase and made do with the circular saw and a steady hand - very well, too.  Still, with my wife's permission I just may get another table saw by the end of the week.

Next up is painting.  I had hoped to get started on it today, but two things are holding me back.  The terrible humidity and our bank.  We bought a refrigerator online a few days ago and our bank's security has flagged it and put a hold on our accounts.  My wife texted me from work today that her card was denied so I called.  They told me that the bank's security computers are down at the moment so they can't help me.  My wife can't get lunch at work and I can't go out for errands and lunch after fasting since last night so I could have blood tests today.  I am very hungry and quite annoyed right now.

Since writing the above it has now been resolved and I did go out and get a bite to eat.  I am still upset with our bank, however.  I am now off to start painting what you see in the pictures.

More pictures after the break!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Local Road Paint*

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*Updated 9/7, click 'Read More' at the end!

While we approve of and support most all local community and neighborhood projects we are not usually directly involved.  But we do appreciate our neighbors' efforts in bringing the community spirit to our neighborhood.  I noted long ago how our neighborhood seemed like one in transition from older, long-time residents to younger couples with growing families.  It has become quite like that but they are also very active with the community and each other to improve the place we all share.  How can we not like that?  My wife and I do not have kids and are otherwise pretty private so while we do support neighborhood and community projects and charities it is mostly with moral and sometimes financial support.  That being said, our neighborhood created a beautiful thing yesterday while I was trimming trees - as told in the last post.

20150905 021The road was closed in front of our house yesterday as many members of the greater neighborhood got together and painted the street.  It even made the local news and papers today because painting a street is actually very unusual.  This has been a couple years in the making, from individuals getting the idea in their heads and sharing with others, then getting our alderman to introduce a law to allow streets to be painted, to getting a design approved - it is abstract as no symbols or words are allowed - and actually receiving a city grant to help facilitate it happening.  I think we have some active and motivated younger families in this neighborhood and we are very happy and appreciative to benefit from them and their work.

20150905 024I talked to a few of the neighbors as we were in and out that morning, and waved as I carried loads of branches to the curb.  I actually would not have minded helping with the painting yesterday afternoon but for my normal physical deficiencies that acted up after the tree stuff.  I don't feel too bad, all those young dads on the street are younger and more fit than me!  When I was finished with all my trimming, neighbor Dave and I did stroll down to the corner to view their progress and visit for a bit.  They were down there until almost dark last night painting, eating, socializing and cleaning up.  Today, with the road still closed off, they have been having fun with a kiddie pool and squirt guns and kids all over the road.

Seems like a nice bit of fun and I'm happy we live here and now.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Even MORE Free Firewood

I had noticed that the neighbor across the back fence has been neglecting his trees.  Normally I wouldn't care, but it had started to affect our yard.  Yes, the crab apples falling every year are a big pain - I probably put close to 3 gallons of them in the compost bin so far this year - but now vines have been spreading through the branches and into our bushes.  I had been looking for this neighbor to be outside for a while now so I could discuss his trees with him, but I could not wait any longer and had to hack away.  And hack away I did.  If it crossed the fence I was looking to cut it down.

20150905 012bIn the southeast corner, left, there is a small tree across the fence and behind the neighbor's garage that has been growing wildly, and vines have been reaching out and getting into our lilacs.  I trimmed that rather easily but did not go over the fence line.  Our lilac is close so I will have to keep an eye on it.  There's a couple feet now between them so hopefully no vines shall cross but I know they will try.

20150905 014The southwest corner above the compost bin was a different story.  I've watched that crab apple tree grow up into the phone lines and now get covered in vines.  The vines are actually killing the half of the tree on his side yet nothing has been done to stop it.  Compounding the issue is another behind-the-owner's-garage tree that is growing out of control kitty corner behind the compost bin.  Between them they created a vine highway into our burning bush that I have been trying to get back into shape since being allowed to overgrow before we bought the house and since it almost completely died in the drought of 2012.  I must have pulled a couple hundred feet of vines down and you can still see them hanging from the trees.  As a nice side effect, the area is much more open back there, no longer under an unwanted canopy.

20150905 03120150905 025So after about a gallon of sweat on this hot and humid day what is left is a big pile of neatly stacked branches out front and even more free firewood for me.  In the picture the two on the right are from my neighbor's branches that fell a week or two ago, the rest are from today.  Not a lot of big stuff but the smaller stuff burns, too.  Probably at least 40 bucks of wood there if you bought it at a store, chopped and cut.  Oh, and many thanks to neighbor Dave who let me borrow his pole saw today.

20150905 003bI also finished painting the last bit of the foundation this morning.  We had been working on it on and off all Summer now, around the weekends and the weather.  The new paint is only in the lower right of this picture, for a before and after.  The missing paint came off when I power washed it.  Now, black as Swedish Death Metal, it matches the garage trim and window trim much better.

Boy, it feels good to finally get a couple of big things crossed off my lengthy to-do list.  This next week may as well be called 'Project Week' for me.  I have lots planned on my last full week off of the year.  I'm sure I'll be posting about much of it here.