Sunday, April 26, 2020

Things I've Learned During the Pandemic

When trying to cut my own hair, I am not good at mirror movements.

I realized it was moot to wonder when I would have time to smoke all the cigars I bought over the winter.

I do not own sufficient bar tools. I also would appreciate a wider selection of cocktail glassware.

I still have no motivation to clean out the garage, no matter how bored I get.

The local liquor store keeps a case of Tito's Vodka right by the register.

I actually miss seeing people.

As someone who already worked from home, I am essentially locked down in my office.

Many self-proclaimed freedom loving "conservatives" quickly embrace socialism when life gets a little tough.

The 2018 Fratello D.M.V. Virginia and an Old Fashioned makes a perfect before dinner pairing.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Another Weekend and More of the Same

And here we go again still. Fortunately, my work week is as busy as ever, and actually more so. There is occasional time for a beer or a bourbon, and maybe a cigar. But it's the weekend when we seek out fun and relaxation. Sadly, the options are limited given the current lockdowns, and the oppressive decrees from our state government.

On a bright note, it was the Easter weekend! A time for reflection and hope of a new beginning. Sadly, the socialist-in-charge, Governor Northam, spent this time of celebration for Christians proudly touting on social media the new attacks on freedom and democracy which he had signed into law. In an exceptional show of arrogance, he chose Good Friday to brag that he had loosened restrictions on abortion even further, paving the way for even more children, historically those of minority background, to be slaughtered in the name of "convenience." Among his other gleeful pronouncements over the Easter weekend was the signing of various bills increasing the ease of committing voter fraud, and ones making it harder for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and their loved ones, while at the same time making plans to release more criminals from prison.

All those attacks on freedom and democracy aside, I made every effort to keep it a joy-filled weekend. I did also resolve to skip any chores in the course of the Holy Feast, though I did replace a couple of defective smoke detectors in the house. Some chores must really be completed, no matter what.

Saturday afternoon I made a quick trip over to 1781 Brewing to pick up a growler of their delicious König Fruhling Doppelbock. While there, I ran into a good friend who was also picking up some tasty brew for his weekend celebrations. Despite being nearby neighbors we hadn't seem each other in a couple of months. A few minutes of catching up was one of the highlights of the day.

My beer in hand, I settled on the sunny deck and fired up a Crowned Heads Court Reserve XVII. This full bodied smoke was complimented quite well by the caramel and malty notes of the beer.

Near the end of the smoke, my beer glass long empty but not yet refilled, Colleen finished her preparation in the kitchen for the next day's Easter dinner, and joined me on the deck. "Would you pour me one of those?" she inquired. I also poured myself another glass and grabbed another stick from the humidor.

The next cigar selection was a NUb Maduro by Oliva Cigars. This 4x60 stick offers full flavors of espresso and chocolate. Again, a wonderful match for the Doppelbock and perhaps my favorite stick of the weekend.

That wrapped up the daylight part of Saturday, and we retired inside for dinner, followed by random shows on Netflix. (Another "normal" part of the day of late.)

And then it was Easter morning! Hallelujah! Reminded again that our governor has decreed public religious gatherings to be an illegal activity, we streamed the live Easter Mass into our living room. Though distant, it was still most comforting. A tasty brunch was soon being devoured, after which I realized, although it was cloudy and breezy outside, the temperature was rising into the 70's. That meant more deck time was in store.

Colleen and I went out to the screened porch for some fresh air and reading. I poured us both glasses of Bold Rock Cider. For myself, an Ave Maria Immaculata was procured from the humidor. This mild smoke features a Connecticut Shade wrapper, and Nicaraguan binder and fillers. Having been in my humidor for close to two years, it seemed even milder than I remembered. However, in combination with the cider, it was immensely enjoyable.

After that, we enjoyed a long video visit with our son and his fiancé. While we had planned on a  weekend visit from them, circumstances prevented that. After a long absence with no visits, even the virtual version was a welcome pleasure. The long chat left some dinner preparations behind schedule, so there was time for a before dinner beer and smoke.

The round two selection was another glass of the 1781 Brewing Dopplebock and a Liga Privada Undercrown Sungrown from Drew Estate. The medium bodied stick offered sweet and cedar notes, and a good long burn.

Finally we turned our attention to the roasted lamb dinner that Colleen had prepared. A newly found recipe featuring garlic, (100 cloves!) limes, and peanuts is definitely a keeper. Typically we grill our lamb outdoors, but the grill gave up the ghost a few weeks ago and has yet to be replaced. Dessert was an interesting and tasty Ricotta based cheesecake. As there was only two of us, we will get to enjoy leftovers for several days during this Octave of Easter.

So once again, that's all I know. The governor has decreed the lockdown will continue until at least June 10. (Not so coincidently, the day after our scheduled elections.) He seems to be doing his best to destroy small business and create a population dependent on government support. I will once again try to get in a trip to the outdoor range this week. It would be a welcome change of pace.

Monday, April 6, 2020

And the Beat Goes On

What day is it? I hardly know anymore. Yesterday was the same as the day before and tomorrow will be the same as today. I was greeted Saturday morning with this announcement regarding the MD State IDPA match.

We knew it was coming, but now it's real. No joy in Mudville.

Most of Saturday was spent pressure washing our deck and screened porch. As mentioned previously,  it's where we spend our time these days when I'm not working, and often when I am. After that chore was done, it was time to sit in the sun and dry out. My beer fridge is getting empty again, but there were still a few cans of Bell's Hopslam Ale to be found. The 10% ABV Double IPA was just the thing to ease my aching back after riding the pressure wash wand all day. To go with the strong beer I pulled out a CAO Flathead 554 Camshaft. The dark Maduro Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and the Nicaraguan filler create a rich coffee, leather, and pepper favor profile that grows in strength as the smoke progresses. I was quite pleased with the pairing.

My after dinner smoke was one I've been looking forward to since I picked a couple up on a trip to Northern Virginia last month. Fratello Cigars puts out some of my favorite blends, including their D.M.V series, and in 2019 they released the second round in the series. The "Virginia" blend features an Ecuadorian Corojo wrapper, an Ecuadorian binder, with Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. The medium bodied smoke presented copious amounts of smoke, a great burn and produced mild roasted, sweet, and nutty notes. Fatigue was overcoming me and the accompanying beverage was a simple carbonated water.

The next morning, since attending religious services is still a crime in Virginia, a live feed of Palm Sunday Mass on TV had to suffice. That meager substitute for the real thing completed, attention again turned to chores around the house. The first of which was to clean the yard of the spring leaf fall in preparation for the first mowing of the year. The leaves tackled, I started looking at the list of chores to take on next. Colleen said, "Why don't you relax and have a cigar? You don't have to do chores all weekend." Well, I don't have to be told twice. (Actually, she did tell me a couple times before I relented.)

I enjoyed the Fratello DMV stick so much the day before that I lit another and sat in the sun, enjoying  my newly washed deck. The sunny temperatures in the 70's led to the first "t-shirt weather" of the season. I actually ended up with a little sunburn on my head and neck from sitting out.

After a foray into the apocalypse for supplies, I retired again to the screen porch to enjoy a book, a cigar, and a beer or two. I grabbed a Liga Privada T-52 from Drew Estate to enjoy with a Starr Hill Northern Lights IPA. The dark, full bodied cigar was tempered somewhat by the bitterness of the IPA. It was still a very enjoyable smoke.

That smoke and drink finished, the aroma Irish Beef and Guinness stew simmering inside began to reach my nose. Colleen soon joined me outside and confirmed dinner was at least an hour away. She also had a much deserved beer in her hand. Not wanting to leave her to drink alone, I grabbed another Northern Lights IPA and a Rocky Patel Tavicusa to accompanying it.

Soon we headed inside for a wonderful meal of the stew and fresh baked Irish Brown Bread. It was certainly a fine cap to the weekend.

That's all I know this week. For those waiting to hear tales of the range, believe me, I am anxious to tell them to you. Until then, it's chores, beer, whiskey, and cigars and more social distancing.