Monday, April 26, 2010

At the Beer Festival

"I'll try the Stout."

What are all these people doing? Obviously they're braving the spring cold and wet in Hunter, NY to sample over 30 fine microbrews from around the Northeast.

In the picture to the left you can see what warriors these folks are--it's cold, it's wet, the wind is blowing, but that does not keep them from their appointed rounds at each of the brewing tents.

I'm back from Florida, back to my blog, and back to promoting and selling my book while hanging with some great people. I took these pictures on Sunday at the TAP New York, Beer and Food Festival in Hunter, NY. I heard Saturday was a sunny day, but I couldn't make it to the festival until Sunday. My friends in Florida said I brought them the bad weather this past winter. I dismissed their accusation, but they could be right. I'm beginning to think I'm cursed. I feel responsible for raining on the festival. The skies were sunny, and it was warm until I showed up!

Despite my cold feet, I loved the festival. One price admission got you both free beer samples and free food. Not just chops and pretzels, but real food, bratwurst, hamburgers, corn dogs, cheese, chili, and more. What could be better? The downside? I went on a diet this morning.

My thanks to Chuck and all the folks at Butternut Brewing for hosting Glenn and me. And providing us with great beer while we were there.

Next week I hope to have Chuck from Butternut on my blog to answer some questions about brewing his fine ales and naimingthem too. Don't you wonder how he came up with the name "Porkslap Ale"?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spring and Ghosts

I thought I'd give you a picture of what early spring looks like in the Butternut Valley.
That's the picture on the left. Later in the spring and early summer the vegetation fills out along the stream as you can see above.
We are still in Florida, enjoying the warm weather here (finally!). Oh, I know. I get no sympahty from my northern friends for the cold weather we had here this winter. Across the canal from our house there is a pasture where a herd of cattle with a large Brahma Bull graze as does a herd of horses. A black stallion leads the herd. We had two presents this winter: a foal on Christmas Eve and another later in January. We're loathe to leave this paradise, but, as you can see from the pictures, we are coming home to another kind of beauty. It's why we bought our place on this trout stream.
Our cottage was built in 1874. When we first bought it, we were fortunate to be alle to talk with the man who grew up in it. I jokingly asked him if there were any ghosts in the house. He and his wife laughed at my question, then paused before they replied. "Only Fred and he's friendly."
So far we have not met Fred face-to-face, but I last year after we moved in, we experienced his sense of humor.
We originally had a huge propane tank at the back of our house. It provided the gas for us to do cooking and was much too large for our needs. However, one evening last summer when I turned on the burner to cook our dinner, it wouldn't light. We had run out of propane, an unusual happening.
After a cold supper, we sat down to watch television. The news was interrupted with a weather bulletin announcing powerful thunderstorms rolling into the area. There was also the possbility of a tornado, so I kept going out to the front porch to look at the sky. Soon it was too dark to see anything, but I persisted in gazing out the porch windows, trying to see through the rain.
The rain let up. On another visit to the porch, I heard a noise. It sounded like an engine trying to start. I called Glenn out to listen. We both thought it was coming from the tent company down the road, but, when it continued, I thought it was closer, maybe in our driveway. When I stepped to the doorway, it became clear that the engine on Glenn's truck was turning over as if someone were trying to start it. Glenn rushed out to the driveway as the truck's engine gave out its last attempt to start. An awful smell came from under hood.
Glenn ran to get a flashlight, but, as he turned the knob of the front door to get back into the house, the knob came off in his hand. We both looked astounded, thinking that such things only happened in movies, never in reality. He grabbed a pair of pliers to get the door open.
By the time we got to the truck, the smell was worse and smoke billowed from the engine. He detached the battery to prevent electricity from pouring into the shorted circuit.
When we got the truck in for repair, the garage ideintified the problem. A leak in the light on the roof had allowed water to run into engine causing a short in the wiring for the ignition. Although the mechanic had heard of similar things happening, this one he found quite odd.
We assume Fred wanted to introduce himself to us, but he did it in a showy manner. Oh well, given how bad television is on summer nights, it was an evening's entertainment. We have not heard from Fred since,but assume he's around thinking up some other tricks ot play on us. We wonder what he might have been up to while we were gone this winter.