Sunday, January 18, 2015

Transom Part 1

 Plans to let more light into the back hallway have begun. The plaster and lathe were removed from the stairwell side of the dividing wall. Now just need to determine the dimension I want the opening to be. It is not a load bearing wall so that makes it easier. Hard part will be cleanly cutting through the plaster and lathe and keeping the cracks and chips to a minimum. Had been looking a long time for a stained glass window or fragment to insert here, but have not found one that was suitable.


Meet the Estate Staff:
Gina Pedonale, the Chauffeur. We met Gina in Lugano, Switzerland, she had just concluded her term of employment with an Italian banker's family and was in need of a new situation. Unfortunately, the father had decided to take the family for a drive while Gina was on holiday, they got lost and while the husband was on the phone with Gina, there was a miscalculation and the family no longer needed a chauffeur. In addition to knowing her way around a Ferrari V12 engine, she restores vintage Berkel Prosciutto meat slicers, makes a excellent espresso and knits car covers as a hobby. Our only complaint is that she doesn't do car windows.
 This is the only know photo of Gina. This was taken moments before Gina's holiday had been extended indefinitely.

Beers in the Fridge:
 Bought a beer specific glass mug at the Cheap Chinese Tchotchke shop, aka The Christmas Tree Shop. The Eldest gave me a Moleskein Beer log for Christmas and it shows different glasses to be used for different types of beers. Unfortunately, this style is not listed, but it is similar to a British dimpled beer mug.
 Finished up the Guinness which our neighbor brought over for Thanksgiving. The Winter Lager is still from thanksgiving also, I bought a case for some reason and hardly anyone drank beer. Had the Peroni with pasta Friday night and haven't yet cracked the cider. The cider and the Guinness both fit on the shelves in the new fridge, any taller bottle needs to find space on the door.
Received this liter mug for Christmas, reminds me of our family trip to Munich.
One beer gets lost in it, but you get quite a workout drinking with it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Travel? Why Not! More Scotland, The Western Highlands

I'm thinking that if I could re-choose my nationality (yes, we are given that choice as our souls are being embedded into a fetus just prior birth. Most people have forgotten, I am not most people) I might choose Scottish. The countryside is gorgeous, they make Whisky, have a town called Keith and they have one of Britain's most scenic train journeys, the West Highland Line.

Travel times
7-8 hours: NYC to LHR
Overnight: London to Fort William Scotland by Caledonian Sleeper
90 minutes: Fort William to Mallaig, ferry terminal to Isle of Skye
30 minutes: Mallaig to Armadale, Skye by ferry, few departures
100 minutes: Uig, Skye to Tarbert, Isle of Harris
2.5 hours: Stornaway, Isle of Lewis to Ullapool, mainland Scotland
80 minutes: Ullapool to Inverness
1 hour: Inverness to Keith
4 hours: Keith to Stirling via Aberdeen
1 hour: Stirling to Edinburgh
4.5 hours: Edinburgh to London

Highlights
Travel by Train
Whisky Distillery tours
Edinburgh Whisky Experience if you don't have time to get thee to a distillery
Castles
Gardens

Sights
The highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis is located outside Fort William
Mallaig a fishing port once famous for supplying kippers to the world
  • a steam train from Ft. William to Malliaig, stops at Glenfinnan.
  • ferry to Skye
Skye Official, Not official
Close to Skye over a bridge is the small town of Kyle of Lochalsh and near that is the quite famous Eilean Donan Castle.

Outer Hebrides
The Isles of Harris and Lewis are actually one island, the northern portion is referred to as the Isle of Lewis and the southern part is referred to as the Isle of Harris.
Isle of Harris non official website
Isle of Lewis, non official website
  • Neolithic standing stones
  • Museum nan Eilean in Stornaway to be located in Lews Castle in 2015
Inverness Environs
Stirling
 Edinburgh
And back to London where I always find more to see.

Souvenirs
  • Whisky
  • Harris Tweed vest and maybe a hacking jacket
  • wool sweaters
  • Heather items

Sunday, December 7, 2014

2014 Books

This year's book list. The (r) denotes a repeat read.
  1. Carte Blanc, Jeffery Deaver; January; A James Bond Novel; Very good, worth reading, but he's no Ian Flemming.
  2. Death of a Policeman, M.C. Beaton; February; Policeman Hamish Macbeth in the Scottish Highlands, aging formulaic series, but still enjoyable. There was a TV series in the late 1990s staring Robert Carlyle as Hamish.
  3. Night Train to Lisbon(r), Pascal Mercer; April; Language Professor meets Portuguese woman in peril, buys Portuguese book, becomes intrigued by the author, takes train to Lisbon and searches for the back story of the authors life. He travels by train, what more could you ask for. The story of the fictional author's life is compelling as are most of the characters. They made a film of the book, the reviews are not good so don't see it before reading the book... or after.
  4. Bryant and May on the Case, Christopher Fowler; May; Quirky Detectives investigating odd cases in London.
  5. Rosanna, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo; May; First of 10 Martin Beck (a fictional Swedish Police Detective) stories by a Swedish pair written in the 1960s. All the books were very quick reads. Mainly teamwork, hard work, experience and some luck solve these cases. Interestingly, in the 1960s the Swedish Police were acquiring Military hardware and once they had it were itching to use it no matter if there were other ways to solve an issue. Start with #1 and read them all.
  6. The Man who went up in Flames, #2 Maj and Per; June
  7. The Man on the Balcony, #3 Maj and Per; June
  8. Naughty in Nice, Rhys Bowen; June
  9. The Laughing Policeman, #4 Maj and Per; June
  10. The Grand Tour, Agatha Christie; June - September; Postcards and letters from Ms Christie's travel with the Overseas Mission of the British Empire Exhibition. Most interesting thing I learned was she became an accomplished surfer. The difficulties of travel makes me glad for the improvements that have been made in that respect.
  11. Travels with my Aunt(r), Graham Greene; July; I read this every summer. Aunt Agusta (his aunt) is quite amusing, there was a movie with Maggie Smith as the Aunt, miss it.
  12. Hunt for the Southern Continent, James Cook; July; Abridged excerpts of the log book of his travels in the South Pacific, he sails past Staten Island, but not the forgotten borough of NYC. He includes technical bearings and headings which I looked up on the internet to understand.
  13. Trains and Lovers, Alexander McCall Smith; July;
  14. Monsieur Pamplemousse Aloft(r), Michael Bond of Paddington Bear Fame; July; The fifth in the series, all are quick reads and geared towards adults. Monsieur Pamplemousse always seems to gets himself into lots of embarrassing situations while trying to help others.
  15. The Fire Engine that Disappeared, #5 Maj and Per; July 
  16. Murder at the Savoy, #6 Maj and Per; August
  17. The Abominable Man, #7 Maj and Per; 2 days in August
  18. The Locked Room, #8 Maj and Per; August
  19. Cop Killer, #9 Maj and Per; August
  20. The Terrorists, #10 Maj and Per; August
  21. The Grave Maurice, Martha Grimes; August
  22. Scrambles amongst the Alps(r), Edward Whymper; September; An interesting travelog of his attempts up Alps and the first ascent by him of the Matterhorn in Switzerland.
  23. The Restraint of Beasts(r), Magnus Mills; September; An Englishman leads a pair of Scots south of the border to put up fencing and bury bodies.
  24. Rising to the Occasion, Hazard and Pinfold; October
  25. The Great American Weekend book; October; Just browsed through it
  26. Turn Right at Machu Picchu, Mark Adams; November; See the end of this post for a synopsis.
  27. Return of the Thin Man, Dashiell Hammett; November; Screenplays for 2 more Thin Man movies staring Nick and Nora Charles. Some interesting stage directions. TCM movie synopsis for After and Another. Mr. Hammett also wrote the novel, The Maltese Falcon.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dream House


The Chestnut Ale I made last week seems to have stopped fermenting. It start out bubbling away at a rapid pace, after it settled I put on the small airlock and things seem to be in suspended animation. Even if this does ferment, this will probably be my last batch, I can't make better beer than I can buy, so it isn't worth my time.
Chestnut Ale


Oatmeal Stout
Oatmeal Stout - February 2014
Smoked Wheat
Smoked Wheat - November 2013

A house in NJ that I coveted and actually could afford (even the taxes while employed) and almost wanted to buy. It was set up on a hill, had a quasi turret, garage, fireplaces, and a wood paneled library.
Entrance Hall with fireplace
Library's fireplace




Library
Living Room, conservatory possible on the left outside the french doors

Beers in the Fridge:
Actually in the nook's pantry at cellar temperature.
The India Ale was hoppy but not too bad. I don't usually like IPAs, but I would buy this again. The 3 beers came in a package along with a pint glass and 2 coasters. Christmas came in November.

Books on the nightstand:
Purchased these recently. Turn right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams is part biography about Hiram Bingham III, who ran across Machu Picchu while on expedition in Peru and part travelog of Mark's trip retracing Hiram's steps. A good read. The book has multiple maps (I was sold right there) and a section with quite a few photos.
The Machu Picchu Guidebook covers each of the different sections in depth, the whole complex is broken up into agricultural and urban sectors and the urban sectors split up into conjuntos (group of buildings surrounded by a wall). The urban sectors were also split by upper and lower class usage. Other sections of the guide book cover hikes up the 2 mountains that bookend Machu Picchu, Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu mountain and the hike to the Gate of the Sun (Intipunku). Of the 2 mountains, Machu Picchu is easier, Huayna Picchu has many steep sections and sheer drops. The Gate of the Sun is where hikers who come to Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail enter.
Here is a Travel? Why Not! Post for Peru.



Saturday, November 15, 2014

Taking Care of Buisness

Estate Management:
Raked leaves on my property again. Some years someone pushes their leaves up against my garage. Just purchased a new vac/mulcher with a metal impeller. It is awesome. It make cool sounds when you vacuum up tiny rocks.
This squirrel is taking his chances in the Forest pas d'entretien. It is inhabited by C.O.U.S, cats of unusual size, they are quite mangy too.
Garlic in the ground, planted 10 rows of 8 cloves on October 12 and 20 of the smaller cloves in a tighter bunch off to the left. I now have them covered with burlap. To the right of the bricks I have spinach growing.
 My homage to the Zen garden, the new house color is in the background.



Current Blooms:
 Heather Gold Button
 Another heather
 Gentiana
 Fall blooming crocus
Mummsies


Beers in the Fridge:
Will be making Chestnut Ale tomorrow in preparation for Christmas and a visit by the Eldest, and maybe the Young One?
But for now, cooler weather calls for darker beers and what's darker than stout?
This is almost too sweet for me but it is well balanced, has a chocolatey nose, remnants of hopscotch, low particulate matter and most importantly it contains alcohol.
I like Samuel Smith's stuff, this Imperial Stout comes in at 7% ABV (alcohol by volume). Don't tell anyone, but when I get the larger 18.7 oz "Victorian Pint" size I drink half and put a cork in it for later consumption. 
Also picked up an Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbeer Urbock, which I see from an earlier post that I liked the Marzen better.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sunday School Picnic Set List

About 100 years ago I was playing in a band that was supposed to play at an Oktoberfest. Due to inclement weather we could not play in the outdoor location desired and were given a chance to play in the big tent. Because of some most of the song content and planned decibel level we gracefully declined.

In honor of that missed opportunity I have come up with a set list approved for little Sunday School kiddies, their uptight moms and closed minded fathers.
  1. Too Drunk to F**K, by The Dead Kennedys, I played this song in a punk band "The Yungsters"
  2. Detachable Penis, King Missile, A new Christmas favorite of mine.
  3. C**K in my Pocket. Iggy Pop, this was one of the songs that kept us out of the Oktoberfest Tent.
  4. Dance MotherF**Ker Dance, Violent Femmes, they played on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but neither of these songs.
  5. Add It Up, Violent Femmes (take my word on it)
  6. Closer, Nine Inch Nails
  7. Blurred Lines, Robin Thicke jr., Pharrell Williams, more for the video rather than the lyrics, but the content is controversial anyway. I just like the bass line and rarely pay attention to lyrics anyway.
  8. I Love the Dead, Alice Cooper, no rude words, just rude implications
  9. Big Balls, AC/DC. Come on now is balls really a bad word. Should they have said Big FĂȘtes.
P.S. NSFW*
* Not Safe For Work