When I woke up Monday morning (my birthday), I for some reason had a story on my brain. Quick, I scrounged up a single sheet of blank paper and a pen that worked. I think I’ll title it “Hassie” or “Anybody Can Be Friends” or something like that. Here it is!
I made an astounding batch of mead a few years ago, but have been inhibited more recently by the high cost of authentic honey. Imagine, here at work I happened to see a little jar of honey with a local address! The guy’s son works here! I haven’t had a chance to hook up with them yet, but did talk to a homesteader-type that works in the back and he verified that place, plus gave me a line on local sorghum molasses.
Wow! The fella really near the cabin had a bad sorghum year and had none for sale this fall. Apparently 40 miles to the northwest, they did okay. I’ve been buying quart jars of sorghum from the IGA, and it is from Kentucky. I don’t brew with sorghum, but it is a local sweetener.
I’m a firm believer in buying locally when I can, but it can be tough finding these guys. I don’t know of a proverbial Farmer’s Market where I can find them…there’s a small one in Beaver Dam but it’s closed whenever I go by. I need to seek more diligently, there has to be something like that around.
As I let visions of ribbons of honey going into a fermentation bucket play in my brain, the homesteader fellow mentioned a variety case of stouts he’d recently tried. Stouts! I’m particularly fond of a thick oatmeal stout and made a fine batch of it once. As I told him, the cheater kits I get make six gallons of ales, Porters and Bitters. Stouts? Only about 4 gallons, and the kits cost more. Being frugal, I stick with Porter when I want something inky. Yet, he made a thirst for genuine 20W50 grade stout cry out, “Life is too short NOT TO!” I haven’t actually bought a bottle of beer in years, but if I did I would seek out an Old Peculiar. They aren’t stouts, but are so good and any stout lover ought to appreciate them. If you haven’t tried one of those yet, I encourage you to get directly on it! Theakston’s Old Peculiar.
News Flash: Both the county I live in and the one a half a mile south of me are dry, as are half of Kentucky’s 120 counties. That means no alcohol sales, no beer in a pub, no wine with your meal, no picking up a six-pack at the grocery. The south county just had a referendum. The Baptists rallied their congregations. By 54%, they elected to stay dry. My county is going to vote soon. That’s not why I make my own (I love to make things), but it is very handy that I do!
Oh boy, the last few hours before the New Year Holiday are tick-ticking by…then CABIN TIME! I have already determined to improve these items:
Science Fiction Writing. I shall finalize the 6th book of the Elise t’Hoot series, send it to the editor and thank those odd characters for the exhilarating journey. The series started out a little rocky, requiring a second edition of The Distant Trees (1st book) to fix errors. Even so, these books won top or high spots in contests with Tenembras garnering a Kirkus Best of 2012 designation, hooray! I have a new story line in mind with some vignettes and character sketches done. On the Elise t’Hoot series, I had Create Space do the interior design, cover design, everything but the text. It cost me a bundle, more each time. The interiors were okay, but I never felt I got my money’s worth on the covers. They used clip art and took no apparent effort to fulfill the advertised “Custom” part of the art. I could have done that much. Since I had a poorly resolved dispute with them on the fifth book Hate All Around (cover nothing like what I asked for), I’ll do my own interior and exterior design this new series. Maybe even for this last book of the t’Hoots, although I’d like them all to match. Book Baby has some good deals, so I might jump ship. I got interior and exterior templates from Joel Friedlander “The Book Designer”, licensed for multiple personal use, so I be eager to try them out. They’re 40%off!
Contests. Hate All Around is submitted for the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards; cross fingers. The so-far published t’Hoot series is entered into the Eric Hopper Awards, a big time contest. I should know one way or the other this Summer on both. Wish me luck!
Brewing. I shall carbonate properly and not slack on sanitizing since I have recurring issues with muddy water. I may even get a filter (wow!). I have exclusively used hopped malt, but 2016 is the year to work up to Midwest Supplies’ next stage of brew boxes; you need to assemble more. Surely I can do.
Mead. I discovered a fella that works here is part of a family bee farm. Even if the honey is a little more than my online sources, honey is heavy – no shipping. I got a book called Hooch for Christmas and there is an interesting recipe for mead in there, among other things. Still, the Alaska Bootlegger’s Manual is my go to reference (pun intended). It’s for my stories, I have homebrew and distilling throughout the series. What did you think?
Sewing. I had not sewn more than curtains in decades before Ma arrived just over a year ago. Now I have scads of skirts and dresses for us, I can whip them out in no time. 2016 is the year of sewing challenges. Dresses and jackets with linings and special features. Coats. Costumes. Slipcovers. One challenge extant is my Janome is 30+ years old, the light won’t work and the presser foot won’t stay on. Santa failed to bring me a new, modern one – I need to rectify that.
Picture Books. This year I wrote several kiddie books and made elaborate plans. I tried to find the right artist on Fiverr (5$ gigs!) and gave up. The ones that put vigor into their art charged many multiples of $5. This could be another case of how I can do as good as I can afford and save the money. I have lots of paint supplies and have devoured Northlight art instructional videos. I believe I will give it a shot. When I got the interior and exterior templates up top, I also got templates for kiddie picture books. I gotta find out how to make days last longer.
Up in the Air. I could register myself as a publisher and publish with my own imprint. That seems easy, yet it gives me the willies. Too ambitious for the time I have and skill level? I’d be running my own show and having my own imprint would be so cool! I could do podcasts, maybe reading my books, I bought a microphone. Or I could serialize my books on my blog or on Reddit. More practically, I could put gutter up at the cabin…now we’re really talking ambition.
I’ve been hobbled with my brewing this year because of my muddy water, the tan tinge that makes me cringe. I had two buckets of ale in fermentation that needed bottling. For each batch, I figured I could boil the bulk of muddy water I needed for rinsing and soaking 50 some odd beer bottles, follow with a chlorinated rinse, and end with a rinse of the precious packed water. All was accomplished in the fullness of time. Then I had to fix supper.
So here I am on a steaming Sunday night, stubbornly committed to bottling at least one batch. Discovering I only have a dab of corn sugar in the entire house caused consternation. You put some of the powdered corn sugar into the wort (raw beer) just before you bottle it so it can ferment just enough in the bottle to make the foamy head all ale lovers adore. I could have split the amount, but decided I couldn’t bottle the Bock this week anyway. Oh Bock, poor Bock.
After duly sanitizing the bottling bucket that same way I did the bottles, in went the corn sugar, stirred in hot bottled water to dissolve. Heave the full fermented bucket up and pour the wort into the bottling bucket, leaving the dead yeast sludge. As midnight came and went, I filled each bottle under the little red spigot, tipping the bucket to get the last little bit.
I have a Red Robin Capper – it sits on top of the bottle on which one has laid a new cap. Pull the handles down and it crimps the cap to the curvy lip of the bottle. Except for the eleven bottles with top curvy lips too thin for old Red to properly grasp. I vacillated between anger and despair. These were the bottles a friend donated from his Beers of the World party. They are not twist-offs, I know better then that. I could not see the difference in advance, but Red could.
I scrounged more bottles, went through the sanitizing rigmarole and finished nigh on 2 AM. I sure hope this batch turns out okay.