Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Hyacinth Bulb

My son, Jared, gave me this hyacinth bulb on the 17th of this month.

I've tracked its progress over the past two weeks in these photos.

There's nothing like nature when it comes to wonder and awe.

As the days passed, more and more color became evident in the swelling blossoms.

Before I knew it, the blossoms completely unfolded, starting from the bottom.

In another day or two, it will be in its fullest glory. I adore the scent which is very similar to lilacs.

To experience this during the days of winter makes it glorious to the maximum. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Beer Journal #45 : New Belgium Fat Tire, New Glarus Road Slush, Obsidian Stout, Little Soldier, Gnarly Oak Hazelnut Dark & More

Fat Tire
Amber Ale
New Belgium Brewing
Fort Collins, CO

I celebrated my birthday, 1/20/15, with this ale at Hansen's Tavern with my coworkers, Angela and Sue.

Straight off the label:
Fat Tire Amber Ale perfectly balances biscuit-like malt flavors with hoppy freshness. Named in honor of a storied bike ride through Europe, Fat Tire cruises with Belgian Imagination and inspiration.
Enjoy by: 06Jul14 

India Pale Ale
New Belgium Brewing Co.
Fort Collins, CO

This was my second birthday beer savored on 1/20/15.

Straight off the label:
Tip your hat to our Beer Rangers in the field who inspired this well-balanced IPA packed with Simcoe, Cascade and Chinook hops. Count on citrus aromas and piney surroundings.
Enjoy by: 01Feb15

Road Slush
New Glarus Brewing Co.
New Glarus, WI

I savored this stout on 1/21/15.

Straight from the label:
This dark stout is a hearty and satisfying reward for those of us who embrace the frozen tundra. Uncut oatmeal fresh from Chilton, Wisconsin give this Stout a "sink into it" smoothness that slides you into its depth. Handcrafted English Chocolate malt and Wisconsin Victory malt combine to balance this robust ale. Expect this ale to pour a luxurious head over a rich black ruby body. This powerful malt bouquet will greet you as you tip this silky smoothness from your glass. Our Oatmeal Stout is handcrafted in the time honored traditions. Serve just above room temperature and relax - road construction season will soon return.
Daniel & Deborah Carey

Kentucky IPA
Alltech's Lexington Brewing Co.
Lexington, KY

I drank this beer on 1/21/15.

The label tells me this:
A golden India Pale Ale with a citrus aroma and American hops
ALC/VOL 6.5%

Finestkind IPA
Smuttynose Brewing Co.
Hampton, NH

On 1/22/15, I enjoyed this IPA.

Straight from the label:
Come visit our brewery and restaurant at Towle Farm in Hampton, New Hampshire. And check us out online at for events, releases and great Smerchandise in our e-store. As always, thanks for saying:
Make mine a Smutty!
Brewing fine beers in NH since 1994.

Beginning in May and finishing up in November, New Belgium Clips Beer & Film Tour will be stopping in several big cities across America. Stops will be made in Kansas City, MO, Bloomington, IN, Milwaukee, WI, Madison, WI, Grand Rapids, MI and 15 other cities.  

Obsidian Stout
Deschutes Brewery
Bend, OR

On 1/23/15, I tasted this stout and then drained the entire bottle.

The label is beautiful and says:
Crafted for explorers everywhere since 1988
Deep, robust and richly rewarding, roasted malt and black barley give way to notes of chocolate and espresso, smooth and black as the glassy volcanic rock fields it's named for.
6.4% ALC. BY VOL.
Bottle conditioned to keep your beer fresh and enhance the flavors our brewers intended. This may leave a fine layer of yeast in the bottom of the bottle.

Gnarly Oak Hazelnut Dark
Ale brewed with natural hazelnut flavor
Monroe Brewing Company
Monroe, WI

I tackled this 1 pint, 6 fl. oz. bottle on 1/24/15.

Straight from the label:
5.5% ALC./VOL.
Gnarly Oak rooted in tradition
Hazelnut Dark is a reddish amber ale that has an impeccable balance between its Carapils and Caramel roasted malts and Centennial hops. We add just a touch of hazelnut to give a rich nutty flavor and aroma.
Pairs well with hearty foods like roast pork, smoked sausage or grilled salmon. Serve with aged gouda as a snack. For dessert, try a Hazelnut and maple cake or pear fritters.
15 OG, 60.4 RDF, 35 COLOR and 24 IBU. 

Little Soldier
American Amber Ale
Ahnapee Brewery
Algoma, WI

I'm drinking this .79 QT (25.36 FL. OZ.) beer today, 1/25/15.

Straight from the label:
Small batch fermented
Established 1868 & 2013
A slightly citrusy and malty nose complemented by a lingering caramel finish. Enjoy within six months of purchase.
Ahnapee Brewing first opened its door in 1868 in the city of Ahnapee, now named Algoma. Bohemian immigrants brought skilled craftsmen to erect Kewaunee County's first sizable building. Beers were produced under the supervision of the head brewmaster, Henry Schmiling. He was not a tall man. The Civil War veteran sold barrels of beer by horse and sleigh, rail, and the schooner, "Whiskey Pete." Schmiling's Ahnapee Lager was known far and wide for its Wisconsin-made quality. A hops blight put the original brewery out of business in 1886. A new chapter in the brewery's history began in summer of 2013 picking up where Henry left off. Head Brewer, Nick Calaway, crafts small batches of full-flavored and well-balanced beers, many with aging potential.


Friday, January 23, 2015

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do by Amy Morin

Several months ago, I received a newsletter from my bank with a list of "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do." compiled by Amy Morin. I put several of these "things" here on my blog in monthly posts during 2014 and am continuing to do so this year.

I was thrilled when I received an email from Amy Morin a couple of weeks ago. She asked me if I'd like a copy of her book which goes deeper into the 13 Things That Mentally Strong People Don't Do. Of course, I replied that I'd love a copy. Sure enough, a few days later, a bright red, spanking new copy was delivered to my door.

Inside the front cover, Amy wrote me this sweet note.

I love being able to put a face to the author of this book. Here's Amy with her credentials and contact information. 

I'll put this handy list in front of me at my work station.

Best wishes to Amy. Her invaluable knowledge regarding mental strength is, just that, invaluable.

Who wouldn't benefit from reading this book?

Get yours ASAP and start getting your act together, mentally.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Beer Journal #44: Potosi Snake Hollow IPA,Censored Rich Copper Ale, Fade To Black Ale, Shake Chocolate Porter & More

Snake Hollow
India Pale Ale
Potosi Brewing Co.
Potosi, WI

I slithered into this beer on 1/13/15.

Straight off the label:

7.0% ALC/VOL
"ALL Profits to Charity"

Rich Copper Ale
Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Petaluma, CA

On 1/14/15, I shined up to this copper ale.

Straight off the label:

ALC. 6.7% BY VOL.
O.G. 1.065
I.B.U. 35
"Life is Uncertain. Don't Sip."
"Net Contents: 12 Fluid Oz's of Malt, Hops, Yeast, and Water."

Hop Rising
Double IPA
Squatters Craft Beers
Utah Brewers Cooperative
Salt Lake City, UT

I hopped on both feet while drinking this IPA on 1/15/15.

Straight off the label:
"A mighty hop-lover's dream. Hop Rising adds malty backbone to an intense Imperial IPA. This insanely smooth dry-hopped ale has everything: 9% ALC/VOL, 72 IBUs, and yes, that's our master brewer Jason Stock pitching in on the label."

Fade To Black
Left Hand Brewing Co.
Longmont, CO

I contemplated Stephen King's book, darkness and Fade To Black on 1/16/15.

Straight from the label:

"Volume 1 Foreign Export Stout
Brewed on the banks of the mighty St. Vrain. Fade to Black. That time of year when the light fades away. Brewed for the darkness, Fade to Black speaks in volumes.
Enjoy at: 50-55 degrees F.
Ingredients: Rocky Mountain water, malted barley, malted wheat, hops and yeast.
Colorado Brewers Guild
Design by Moxie Soz...? (the label ripped here)
Artist: Nate Dyer"

My thoughts:

Fade to Black and Stephen King have much in common. They both speak in volumes.

Dry Hopped Pale Ale
Founders Brewing Co. (Since 1997)
Grand Rapids, MI

On 1/16/15, I enjoyed this pale ale.

Straight off the label:
5.4% ALC. BY VOL.
35 IBUs

Vanilla Java Porter
Atwater Brewery
Detroit, MI

I savored this porter on 1/17/15.

Straight from the label:
"Beer is good. Enjoy responsibly.
Malt beverage brewed with coffee beans with natural flavor added (vanilla bean extract).
Bottled on: November 2014
Brewed in Detroit"

Duchesse de Bourgogne
Belgian Ale
Brouwerij Verhaeghe
Vichte, Belgium
(Imported by D & V International, Inc., Jupiter, FL)

I struggled to drink this brew on 1/17/15.

Straight off the label:
6 % ALC./VOL.
"Flemish Art of Brewing
Belgian top-fermented reddish-brown ale, a blend of 8 and 18 months old beers following the careful maturation in oak casks,
Serve in range of 47-53 degrees F.
Best by 2015-11-26"

My thoughts:
At this point in my beer drinking quest, I'm not a fan of sour ales such as this.

Chocolate Porter
(Porter with natural flavors added)
Boulder Beer Co.
Boulder, CO

I savored this chocolate porter on 1/18/15.

Straight from the label:
ALC. 5.9% BY VOL.
"Our twist on the traditional robust American Porter, Shake Chocolate Porter is black in color with rich, dark chocolate aromatics and flavors and subtle coffee-like notes. This unique brew blends five different grains, including Chocolate Wheat, that along with cacao nibs create a devilishly delicious chocolate finish with a velvety mouthfeel.

Discover all of our award-winning beers at

Cheers and enjoy!--Your friends at Boulder Beer, Colorado's 1st Craft Brewery."

Pre-Prohibition Pilsener
Upland Brewing Co.
Bloomington, IN

I enjoyed this beer on 1/18/15.

Straight off the label:
"The beer with the million dollar flavor.
Celebrating Upland's 15th Anniversary
Bottled on: May 2014"

Wee Peat
Scottish Ale
Squatters Craft Beers
Utah Brewers Cooperative
Salt Lake City, UT

I pondered my memories of bagpipe music as I drank this ale on 1/19/15.

Straight off the label:
"Doff the cap of this complex Scottish Ale with 5.6% ALC/VOL, and in a wink you'll be hearing Highland bagpipes as you sip this smoky, peaty, bonnie good brew. Aye. That's the high road, that is.
Good for what ales you." 

Eliot Ness
Amber Lager
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Cleveland, OH

Far from criminals and crimes, on 1/19/15, I relaxed without fear and enjoyed this lager.

Straight from the label:
Best served at 45 degrees F.
"In memory of Eliot Ness and his paddy wagon of guilty criminals, we have the "Fatty Wagon" (minus the criminals). Our eco-friendly Fatty Wagon and beer delivery truck both run on straight vegetable oil (SVO), which results in lower toxic emissions and a 25% savings over the cost of regular diesel fuel."

World Beer Championships"

"Named after the one-time Cleveland Safety Director who frequented the original bar this is now the Great Lakes Brewpub, our deep amber lager has a faint hop nose and a slightly sweet finish.

In keeping with the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, this beer is traditionally brewed from all natural ingredients: barley, hops, yeast and water. No chemicals or preservatives are used.

For freshest taste, please enjoy by: 10/18/14"

Photo: H. Wayne Rayburn


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hungry Birds and Squirrels in January in Wisconsin

Squirrels are crafty. I suspect this fellow is hoping that maybe, just maybe, he can fling himself from his perch beside this birdhouse to a birdfeeder that hangs a few feet away. Sorry, Charlie, it ain't gonna happen!!

How cool is this woodpecker? He's as handsome as any bird I've ever seen.

This finch is a bit ratty-looking but I love his reddish breast and head.

Another squirrel with plans to jump onto a bird feeder. No way, Hosea!!

A junco playing it cool, awaiting just the right moment to approach the birdfeeders. 

A perfect profile Mr. Finch. I love you.

A sparrow all aflutter; it takes a lot of nourishment to flap those wings.

Five birds to the left and one to the right. Who said balance is important?

Squirrels caught playing tag up the pin oak tree... 

What could be cuter than a chickadee? Nothing that comes to my mind at this moment in time. 

This is exactly where our yard squirrels need to be, under the birdfeeders gobbling up enough to fill their stomachs and then some. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lon's 53 Inch Musky

Lon used this top water lure to catch his musky.

Next to this ruler, you can see how big the lure was.

The musky left his marks on the lure.

After catching the musky, Lon released it back into Lake Vermilion in MN.

Jared took several photographs of the musky before Lon released it.

A year ago, Lon decided to have a replica of his musky made. He placed an order with Joe Fittante Replicas at a fishing show early last year.

Lon and Jared attended the Chicago Musky Show last Friday where they met Joe, the fellow who made the replica. He brought the completed replica of Lon's 53-inch musky to the show.  

I helped Lon hang it on the wall on Saturday.

It's a beauty, isn't it!!

No matter how you look at it, it's impressive.

Congratulations, Lon, for bringing in a big one.