Saturday, October 31, 2015

Hair of the Dog - Halloween Spirits

I have friends that get together each month to sample different types of Scotch.  It's an evening of camaraderie, sensible drinking, and lots of old stories.

A recent selection was as above  The group overall preferred the  Deanston  I've found it jut a tad too sweet for my taste, but overall, a very nice choice.  Of the four the guys selected, I like the Benriach, a wonderful inexpensive scotch for the new palate, nice, but more complex then some of the others in it's age and price group that are more well known names. The little bit of almond (marzipan?) undertone is a surprise along with the peat.

But it's always fun to try new ones, or old ones that seemed too expensive, until one day you realized you don't work your rear off and have people occasionally try and kill you just to drink cheap hooch.

This is a group with some history.  This is a group that knows what's important.  Duty, honor and a really good scotch.
The one that got the most attention for that Monday Night Scotch Club, if only for the Donnie Darko style ghost dog on the bottle and it's somewhat unique original Twitter launch (seriously?  Twitter?) was the Cù Bòcan from the distillers Tomatin.  It gets its name  from the legend of a spectral dog, Cù Bòcan, who has haunted that Highland village for many years, his legend embellished by his increasing fractious behavior (I'd be cranky too if a peated beverage was only made one week a year).

Sightings are rare, once in a generation, it is said, and always terrifying. A distillery worker, out walking late, was once relentlessly pursued by the formidable black beast, steam spiraling from flared nostrils, fangs showing against a maw, dark as spilled blood, only to have the creature dissolve before his eyes, as he reached out a trembling hand in mercy.  He stood there, the taste of ash on his tongue, as all that was left was but a vacuum of  bitten silence as a dark cloud of smoke disappeared across the moorland.

I wish the beverage drew me in as well as the tale.   It's perhaps just showing it's youth, and at 8 years old, I'd be  happy to try it again in a couple of years  But it's very sharp citrus, almost too sharp, at first, though tempered with a bit of ginger.  Then there is the initial promise of burned love letters, drying down to overcooked popcorn and peppered ash. The feel on the tongue was the butter intended for the popcorn.  It wasn't bad, but for lack of better description, the Scotch Club simply labeled this one as "Chewy and Oily". 

The Hound of the Baskerviles, it wasn't.

Still we'll see how that old dog matures, it might be a nice surprise in a couple of years as the distiller was quite candid when they stated in the launch that the first batch was only 18,000 bottles and the peated element is only aged 8 years, even if in some nice virgin oak, bourbon and sherry casks. 

But I admit, I was suckered in by the ghostly dog story. What is it about a ghost story that draws one in? Few people truly believe that headless ghosts haunt Celtic castles, that restless spirits chase the shadows in every abandoned old farmhouse. Most of us go through life, not observing what was not meant to be observed.

But sitting in a darkening room, the light dancing on a glass bottle or two, the taste of smoke and the moors on one's tongue, one can't help but summon up the genuine wonder for those things that are never truly explained. I believe that despite our outward desire for explanation and logic, most members of the public would rather tell stories of haunted trestles than listen to a litany of logic.
For despite our modern conveniences, our science and technology, can we not be surprised that modern man still feels that shadowed belief in spirits, haunting those places in which they were once so affected, when we ourselves scarcely separate ourselves from past lives and past longing, ever hovering over bygone times and all their emotions, in late night, darkened hours, lingering in the past places in which we were loved. Hoping in the dark misty hills of our hearts, we will remember and be remembered.

For despite our technology, we are still dreamers. Certainly I know one woman that is, even if she is still a big kid at heart.

As Shakespeare said.: We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

Whether our dreams are that of coherent order and forensic logic or haunting memory of those places we wish we could revisit, I can't help but think just how small my being is. How infinitesimal within the world's workings, the grand chaotic design. As the wind picks up a howl, across open land,, I'll light a small lamp.  For suddenly, I feel very insignificant. Insignificant and small, as moonlight flits amongst the shroud of tree branches, the wind tapping on the window like a ghostly finger, the night but one last lamenting kiss.

Off in the distance, comes the keening howl of a dog.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

On Anniversaries

“I am and always will be the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of improbable dreams.”
— The Doctor, Season 6, Episode 6

CHAPTER 41 – A Wedding (From The Book of Barkley by LB Johnson)

The house was decorated for the reception, a few friends and family gathered.  The dining room held a cake that had on it, not a bride and groom, but a time traveling machine known as the Tardis and a Dr. Who and Amy figure from the BBC Sci -Fi series, Dr. Who.  It is a non-conventional cake topper for a family that will be anything but conventional.
I missed having Barkley here, but the combination of “look! people!" black dog hair and white dresses, and a table full of “treats!” was a viral YouTube video waiting to happen, one I did not want to see.  But we were only going to spend our wedding night at a romantic Bed and Breakfast.  Then we would swing by the Doggie Day Camp, where Barkley would remain tonight and pick up the rest of our family, for what’s a honeymoon without a little dog hair.

One in my bridal party is in a kilt, and I smile, this being a day of many surprises.  I am in a Renaissance style wedding dress, MC is Maid Marion of Honor and Mr. B is the best man. The minister is a personal friend, a retired pastor and author, someone who understands words and emotions and hearts, marrying for himself for the first time in his fifties to a young lady, a pilot friend of mine, in her thirties.

There is no one else we’d rather have marry us.

Our wedding. It was not just a day; it was a decision, one we made together. We could embark on this journey, one that any statistic will tell you is a risk, or we could stay safe, keeping hearts in check, telling ourselves it’s probably for the best.
If I had thought that, ten years ago, I would not be wondering about the best way to get dog hair off a wedding gown. I wouldn’t be here, so very happy.

We wake to the earth’s silent ticking, chasing the time that is still unaccounted for, rushing headlong from nights of God's silence to days of great discovery. We can stay in, intact for one slow, sure, unremarkable day, gathering useless possessions and people around us, as what sparked our dream fades to an almost sleeping ember.  For many people, that is their safety. We can just sit and talk about it, the changes we need to make, the things we wish we could do, but talk is just that, talk - arming ourselves with the satisfaction of courage without the inconvenience of risk. Or we can cast off our fear, gather those things around us that are precious, shedding that which only seeks to hinder us and head out into the world, eyes wide open.

What is ahead is unknown, often coming at us, so towering and fast, one can sense from it neither distance nor time. You can treat it with fear, no different than standing on the edge of a cliff, dreading that feeling as the ground falls away, the tiny rocks clamoring down like the first throw of dirt on a pine box. Or you can treat it as a perceived feast, as a wafer on the tongue, a leap of faith into that place that is devoid of time and regret, while that which held you back runs somewhere far afield, away from soundless guns.

I know where my home is at, and it's not four walls. I know who my friends are and they could care less about the things I own, where I live, or how old I am. As I look at my husband, at a photo of a big black dog in a frame, I know I have the comfort of a life in which, if only for a moment, I meant the absolute world to someone. That is something you can never buy, like the heat of steady flame that warms you from the inside out.
As the vows echoed in a room full of happy toasts, stories were told of Barkley, how he brought all of us together, of those he has healed and bonded.  For we are his pack, as we are each others, love being, not a journey, but something that gently brings us back home.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Maureen O'Hara 8-17-20 to 10-24-15

Godspeed Miss O'Hara. You were always one class act.

Friday, October 23, 2015


Happy Anniversary weekend Mr. J  
I can't think of anyone else I'd rather get into a scrape with.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Triumph TR6 Special Service Tools

Special Service Tools Triumph TR6 

The HOTR Functional Equivalent
I'll be in my bunk garage. Because some things are just hard to resist.   Cheers!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Don't Drink and Decorate

We've all had some dwelling in our youth that was less than "tastefully" decorated. But as we grow up and move into adulthood, we sometimes get to experience some really nice places, be it a vacation, our dream home or a honeymoon or first class business trip where you get to stay in a luxury multi star hotel

It was a hotel with good expectations. Highest Four Star hotel rating, fine dining and "new and complete renovation". It billed itself as a "peaceful oasis of sophistication" in a bustling city down south. I had visions of a long swim, or a soak in the hot tub followed by a night of relaxation in soothing decor for the weary traveler. For the price I expected, well , peaceful luxury. Soothing colors, a virtual SPA of a room. What I got was red, black, ultra modern with lots of bright shiny silver and the Bathroom from the OK Corral. It was so ugly I actually called a couple people and described it. Then I walked a careful grid in the room until I found alcohol.
Boring blog fodder for a Wednesday night but I couldn't resist as my friends told me I had to post this.
I will leave the name of the establishment out of here because the wonderful staff, I'm sure, didn't pick the decorator and they were really nice. The bed was comfy and the food, quite tasty (if you don't mind paying $50 for an 8 ounce steak and a side salad). But the room. Oh my eyes, my eyes.!

Maybe there's one of these with the soap and the shampoo.

The lampshade was bright shiny red and brought an interesting red glow to the room. I figured if I got lonely enough I could open the curtain and light the lamp and within an hour there would be five guys looking for a good time at my door.
The extra chair for lounging was comfortable if you were a anorexic Hobbit.
We'll start with the art work. First the one over the desk. Don't look directly at your computer monitor. Medication questions should be posed to a pharmacist. Readers experiencing nausea should leave the post. I called this one, "Road Trip from Hell".

Over the bed was the artists rendition of Cirque de Soleil, but which I called Les clowns sur les drogues. Maybe it's just that I'm not deep enough for modern art.. Maybe I just don't "get" modern art like this guy does.

At least I can turn the one light that's not red off and get a bath.
Maybe not. The bath was painted in Cow Patty Brown with a towel rack that resembled something that I think was leftover from Chain Gang Fantasy Camp. There was no other decor but a stark mirror, some shampoo, soap and such, and alas, no eye mask.

The wall couldn't decide it it was world's biggest padded headboard or padded walls. What wasn't padded was a muted CP Brown and, ever so soothing with the bright red, brown, black and silver. It was a room with the coziness of a dental lab, albeit without the sink to spit.

As I settled in, I had this nagging feeling I'd seen this room before. Then it hit me. It looked like the modernistic furnishings from a scene in Woody Allen's 1973 movie Sleeper. I didn't see the movie when it came out, as I was too young to pay much attention to such things. But I saw it later and remember certain bits and pieces of it.

Stay warm. I'll talk to you all soon. - Brigid

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Grills of Summer

As summer says goodbye, and Fall starts making that "let's just be friends" speech, it's time to think about one last grill. I have travel and long days this week so it was a "now or next summer" kind of moment.
First I made some buns - well not exactly buns.  I had no yeast, no eggs and no milk, as we both weren't going to be cooking this week.

I had flour and Kefir (fermented milk found in the yogurt aisle) and honey. These turned out great - sturdy enough for the burger, with an almost tender and biscuit-like texture that soaked up all the juices of the burger. (recipe in the comments). Plus they took 5 minutes to get into the oven. The leftovers will be frozen to be a base for Guinness Stew in the coming weeks.
 Then, it was time to light the briquettes.
 The rest, they say, is history.

Burger with Worcestershire and maple bacon seasoning, sharp cheddar and garlic mayo on the tender little "buncuit".  It was worth it.