Cider Results

12 02 2013

Sooo….  It’s been about a week since the cider project came to a close and everything was sweetened up and bottled, so I thought I’d share with you how everything turned out.  While I wouldn’t call the brew complex in flavor it is certainly highly alcoholic!  Miss Nightly tried some and did a good imitation of the “bitter beer face” from those commercials that used to play years ago (what beer were they for? Miller? Bud?) and waved her arms around trying to swat the alcohol flies away I suppose.  Nightly is a notorious light weight though, so I’ll forgive her that and not take it to heart.  (On a side note, I am beginning to wonder if I take my drinks a little on the strong side.  Nightly gives me this reaction a lot when I am pouring the drinks and most of the time I can barely taste the sin contained in the glass.  I think we are both a little skewed and that probably means I am not the best one to rate how much this actually tastes like alcohol.)

In the bottles the brew is a nice deep gold, but when a few fingers are poured into a glass it becomes a nice mellow-yellow gold-y color.  GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

(And yes. If any of you are comparing the levels of liquid in the bottle to the pictures I posted in the first Cider entry, I did drink all that by myself.  What can I say?  I’m happy with the results of my little experiment.)

It is quite sweet and has a nice smooth apple taste rather than a crisp one.  There is no carbonation to speak of.  The consistency is more like a liquor, somewhat thick and syrupy – but not to the point of clinging to the glass – than a typical cider.  It is in no way cloying, and what I’m sure miss Nightly took for that horrific burn that caused the bitter beer face, I find to be a pleasant warmth that fills my mouth and fades to faint, lingering apple.

I am very happy with this batch, and will document the next one more carefully for you.  After I’ve done a few I’m sure I’ll be more able to offer tips and options to you with some reliability, but for now let me just say that if you’ve ever had the urge, notion, thought, dream, or hankering to brew some tasty al-ku-ma-hall of your own do it!  This was so simple, so cheap, and took so little effort that it would be a shame not to give it a try if the desire has struck you.  And there are countless walk-throughs out there on the internet to help you along the way.

As soon as I get off my butt and start the next batch you’ll get more Cider-y Goodness!

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Cider-y Goodness

3 02 2013

Last year my boyfriend and I decided to try our hands at making cider.  He did all of the research and the hard work and walked me through my own batch.  It was a fun, easy, and cheap project all things considered, and you can find tutorials all about the internet.  To simplify (but not by much):  You need to first obtain natural, non-pasteurized apple juice which generally runs about $8 for a gallon depending on where you purchase it.  You must then buy some yeast either from your local brew supply shop or the internet (or anywhere else that might have brewing yeast in your area).  We both used champagne yeast, but I have heard of good results using beer yeast, such as lager yeast.  While you are at the brew supply store or website you will also need to purchase an air-lock set, which consists of a little rubber bottle stopper with a hole in it and a plastic tube with two chambers.  Total cost comes to under $2 generally.  You throw the yeast in the juice, add some sugar, put some water in the air-lock, and use the air-lock to stopper the bottle.

Now let it sit for a month or two…

Really, this can be the end.  Once it has sat for two months or so it is pretty much ready to go. Siphon or pour it into bottles and let it go.  That’s what I did, with the exception of racking it (siphoning it into a new bottle about half way through the process to get it off of the dead yeast that settles onto the bottom of the bottle).  Mine was very bitter and I wasn’t very happy with it to be honest.  Now, this could have been the yeast I used.  The champagne yeast was rated to 18% alcohol which is pretty steep, and I did not try to sweeten it all.  It really didn’t occur to me to try.  I drank some, but the rest stayed in the bottle, sitting in my closet, lonely, forgotten, stewing, until over a year had past.  Every so often when I was in my closet for something I would look at the cabinet in which it sat and think to myself, “I really should dump that out,” but it never happened.  I couldn’t never get up the motivation the carry the carboy out to the backyard and drain it into the bushes where I was sure it would stink in a big muddy mess that was better added to the garden than the kitchen sink. And then the bottle would need to be washed – another hassle.  I usually had better things to do with my time.

And then one day I mentioned it to Ant, and he turned my perspective on the big bottle in the liquor cabinet upside down. My mead-making, wine-tasting boyfriend is sometimes very good at making me feel blonde.  Typically aging alcohol is a good thing…  and it hadn’t ever occurred to me.

We put a little bit into a cup with a turkey baster and tasted it.  It was rank.  Then we added sugar and it was awesome.

Today I am adding sugar to final bottles.

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And these are what I ended up with!  There are two more smaller bottles as well.





Wedding

3 02 2013

Wedding. Short-stack has some insecurities, the same as all of us.  She deserves nothing but support.





Feeling Grey

22 01 2013

This is an old short story that I wrote. It’s not exactly happy, in fact it’s kind of a drag, but let me know what you think.

 

 

Feeling Grey

 

Chaser was a raggedy little thing.  My uncle’s latest rescue, his long black hair grew in clumps and felt murky and uneven beneath a petting hand.  I thought he looked ill before I ever considered that he really might be.  He was pitiful and if he wasn’t so annoying it would have been endearing, but he was forever mowing and underfoot in the kitchen, so much so that all you ever wanted to do was kick the poor thing.  When we first moved in I didn’t dislike him, but I certainly wanted nothing to do with him.  We brought three cats and two dogs with, and for the first few weeks I was busy hobbling around the house on a cane, yelling at the dogs for chasing the cats or dragging my underwear to all corners of the house.  But I still pet and him and brushed him as I was asked to do.  Ignoring him completely felt too cruel, especially when all my grandmother did was yell at him for tripping her in the kitchen.  And I knew that if my aunt and uncle found out I wasn’t taking care of the one cat not hiding under the porch they’d get fantastically pissed.  They were already mad we hadn’t been wandering around the yard with Temptations in hand, calling out to the other three my aunt and uncle had left us.

I was the first to notice how scrawny he was; how his hipbones jutted and how you could feel the individual vertebrae of his spine.  Suddenly there was an hour glass following him around the yard.  I was sure he had leukemia, which our last stray had died from only months before.  The rapid weight loss called it as far as I was concerned.  My dad, who had yet to pay the 300 dollar vet bill left by the other cat, agreed with me.  My grandma wasn’t pleased.  We didn’t have another 300 dollars to spend on a cat.  We didn’t have 30 dollars to spend on my hospital bills, and my uncle refused to pay.  Chaser was on his own.

For a few weeks I made myself be kinder, but it wasn’t to last.  He was too annoying and he didn’t deteriorate.  Eventually my uncle decided that he had worms, but still wouldn’t pay for medication.  The declaration put my mind at ease at least, and I put out a special plate of food for the dilapidated animal until I noticed him abandoning it for the dog’s food every morning.  After that the thought of his mortality fell from my mind except for on the few occasions when I noticed the other cats were thin, and I wondered if they were getting the worms too.  I never mentioned it to my grandma though.  There was no point in bringing up a problem that could not be fixed.  That winter the cats spent their nights in the laundry room with the space heater on, lounging on heating pads and each other. Between school and work, my grandma and I never saw any of them except when we put out the food in the mornings.

It wasn’t until my aunt and cousin came to visit that we understood how bad the situation really was.  They told us that Chaser spent all day limping around the porch; rail thin with feces matted in his fur.

“You really ought to put the poor thing out of its misery,” my aunt said, “I can’t stand to watch it.”

We were easily convinced the minute we came to realize why the laundry room suddenly smelt so strongly of cat shit.  Either Chaser couldn’t make it outside to do his business or he had no control of it anymore.

“I’ve got a bunch of pain pills and a can of fancy cat food in the car,” my aunt suggested, “we could crush some up and put them in the food and some water.”

And the decision was made.  After a few grim jokes about tying the cat to the nearby train tracks and doing away with him that way, they got to brainstorming where to put him.  It wouldn’t do for another cat to eat the poisoned food and there were only so many enclosed places outside the house.  And I dreaded the idea of him dying inside, where I would have to acknowledge it.

I was late for dinner as always, on Wednesday.  My aunt, cousin, and grandma were all finishing their food, and while I took a seat my aunt let me know that Chaser was safely trapped in the old dog kennel with his poisoned bowls of food and water.  I loaded my plate.  Apparently, he hadn’t started eating the last time they checked on him.  He only sat in the kennel and stared at the house.

She said, “I put a pillow and a blanket out there for him.  I hope he won’t get too cold.”  My grandma said he wouldn’t.  But, I thought, he had spent the last three months hiding in a warm laundry room, lying on heating pads.  And he wasn’t eating yet.

”It’s not that cold outside,” she continued, “I’m sure he’ll be fine.”  I listened, nodding and shoveling pasta and garlic bread into my mouth.

Chaser would be fine.  Either way he had those pills.

Suddenly I wasn’t so sure he would eat the food or drink the tainted water.  I couldn’t remember if he’d been eating the last few days.  The thought of him freezing to death made me nervous.

I said, “I’m sure he’ll be fine,” and took another bite.

“Yeah,” my aunt said.  She was so nonchalant.  “It’s not that cold out.”  It was 40 or 50 degrees outside and I thought it was cold, but my aunt lived in Seattle and it had been snowing there all winter.  One or both of us had a skewed perception of temperature. What that meant for the cat, I didn’t know, but I pushed the nerves aside.  We were killing him either way, and freezing isn’t the most painful way to die.  At least not after you fall asleep, then your body just shuts down and you drift from sleep to unconsciousness to dead.

Either way…

“I threw a pillow and a blanket in there for him, and put a sheet over the top so he has a roof.”  The kennel was, of course, made of thin metal rails.  Metal gets cold.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

I added more pasta to my plate and ate until I was well past full.

The next morning was frost bitten and grey.  On my way out to my car, I saw the kennel for the first time.  A green flannel blanket was falling off of the top and the bronze finish glinted in the predawn light only half real.  Chaser lay slouched against the side making a perversion of the ever-so-comfortable way cats lay on their sides in the sunlight, weak legs stretched out before him, sticking through the bars.  His head leaned against the frozen metal, tilted at an angle that anything would detest, gave him away.  His lip was caught between the metal and his skull.  He was snarling, at us or at the tin car-port roof I didn’t know.  Next to me, my aunt sighed, turned away, and said that she would get my cousin to bury him while I was at work.  After she returned to the house I continued on to my car, walking past the tiny body, and whispered, “Rest in peace,” only to feel hallow and stupid for the sentiment.

At work, I was busy and grateful.  People laden with W-2’s kept me distracted and the last picture of Chaser, his mangled form and sad, pathetic end disappeared; floating just below the surface of my consciousness.  At home, my cousin buried him, where, I will never know. It’s best that way, for while I feel bad that Chaser is no longer with us, I don’t feel as though I’ve lost a pet.  I wish I did.  He was a good cat and is sorely missed if only by me.  If only out of guilt.

 





Fossils are Neat-O…

13 01 2013

I’m probably totally giving away my location here, but did you know that the floors of the Galleria Mall in Roseville, CA have fossils in them? They do.  I have pictures

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So yeah… I’m a dork in addition to a crazy cat lady.  I like to oggle people’s granite counter tops and I named my cat after a rock. But seriously, who expects to find fossils in their local mall?





My Mica

13 01 2013

My Mica

This is my kitten. She isn’t this small any more, but she is still cute (in that chubby-kitty sort of way).

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Minor Hallucinogenics

12 01 2013

I found this article on how single doses of hallucinogens can cause significant changes in personality a while ago and it has been popping up in my head every so often since.  I’ve been told that weed/marijuana/pot/dank/what-have-you is an hallucinogen, and I tend to believe the information though I haven’t done any research on it myself since I am prone to auditory hallucinations when high.  I get trapped in my head most of the time, and usually end up apologizing for being quiet (which my boyfriend scoffs at – he usually ends up apologizing for “talking my ear off”), but I’ve come to a few realizations since I began smoking/ingesting.

I got really stuck on the concept of death not too long after I started (mind you I started a little over a year ago – late bloomer here) and was often terrified and awestruck circling the idea of “nothing.” When rejecting the idea of an afterlife, which for a while has felt less and less real, how do you quantify “nothing?”  How do you imagine being dead?  Ant and I had a few conversations on the subject while I was going through this phase.  He doesn’t understand why people fear death so much and when I said it was a scary concept he laughed a little and asked why.  I answered by saying it wasn’t like a video game and not knowing was scary.  He was very happy to point out that it was like a video game.  Your character dies and for him it’s over. That whole section was gone, kaputz, game over, black screen, return to previous save.  But he was wrong, because I am not the character.  It doesn’t matter how involved the game is, whether or not you have save points to return to or if you have to start over at the beginning, how emotionally connected to your characters you are, when GAME OVER flashes I am still here.  In my video game I am not the character, I am GOD!  A little dramatic, but true.  I made my point, he conceded, cheerful as ever.

Still, I suddenly find myself more connected to these ideas than I ever have been.  I used to tell my friends that I was blessed with the ability to NOT visualize things, things that tended to make them cringe (spectacularly ugly people or their parents having sex for instance).  But that has changed.

I feel like my world is suddenly in 3D, and the backdrop that was once projected onto a screen before me has come to life.  I looked up yesterday and saw birds flying and felt for the first time that they were suspended in air.  I know it sounds elementary, really the most basic of basic concepts, and I didn’t realize that I hadn’t thought about it until that very second, but I don’t think I ever had.  I was absolutely sober in that instant. It was beautiful.

When I’m high this happens repeatedly, quickly and I can’t verbalize it at all.  The ideas slip away too rapidly and aren’t at all relevant to what the people surrounding me are doing, and my mouth and throat just don’t function the way they should.  They hit me again later when I’m sober and it’s like walking into a wall of cold air.  I’d like to think this is for the better, and that these thoughts are a sign of some enlightenment that I am working towards, that maybe in this gray area of young/mid adulthood I am becoming a better person than I once was, but who can say?