Grab bag: Light reading

Scrape scrape paint paint

Pick up the scraper, paint bucket, caulk gun, ladder. Walk up the driveway. Caulk is quick: push out, drag down, wipe. Let it dry, move on to the window sills. Pick up scraper and start to knock the paint, loosened by rain from a leaking gutter, from the sill.

And I’m back at the farm. I’m about ten or twelve, with my dad and my Pop-pop. We’re doing a workday on the 1857 farmhouse. There’s a porch that needs painting, and fifteen or so cousins and grandkids are there to do it. Gotta get the old cracked paint off first. Scrape, scrape. And when it doesn’t come loose, the heat gun loosens it up. Too close at first: brown mark on 1857 wood. Then the layers come off and the paint can come on.

I’m four sills over and the paint comes loose easily. I prime, paint an already primed frame, then come back and start painting the newly primed wood. 

And I’m on the roof of my dad’s garage. I’m sixteen. It’s summer, probably 95° and so humid you could wring the air. The house is mostly brick but the upper part is white painted vertical boards. I’m working on a section between the garage roofline and the gable. The attic on the other side of the boards is cooled by a fan on a thermostat but still hotter than the outside air. I’ve never been up there. Now I’m on the hot asphalt shingles dripping sweat into my eyes painting, painting. Hard white granules embed themselves into my knees.

In Massachusetts. My hand is sore from holding the brush; I change my grip. The shingles on the siding are old, maybe dating back to 1941. They can last one more winter.

QTN™: American Oktoberfests

I’ve been tasting a variety of Oktoberfest beers, in name if not in style, this fall. The latest, from Avery Brewing Company, is the Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest. And it’s a big beer. A barleywine, in all but name. But it’s not an Oktoberfest. It’s a great big quaffable (if not sessionable), very tasty, 10% beer. But it’s not an Oktoberfest. It’s not a märzen. If they served this at d’Wiesn, people would be screwing in the aisles and fighting with the oompah band. Or vice versa. But the choice of name seems like a cynical marketing choice.

Surprisingly, the same was true of the Oktoberfest from Otter Creek. While sessionable and tasty, the hops made it more of an American pale ale than an Oktoberfest beer. I haven’t done a side by side tasting, but the hops really felt more Cascadian than Bavarian.

This is when I start to wonder why it’s so hard to find a beer that tastes like it was brought in a one-liter mug by a busty barmaid to a table full of enthusiastically drunk German college students and hollering Australians. That’s when I remember the most authentic tasting Oktoberfest I’ve had–perhaps because of its freshness–from Berkshire Brewing Company. Mmm. Mmm. I feel sorry for those outside the limited distribution range, because this beer is right on.

Columbus Day: unaccustomed respite

I’m not used to having time to myself on Columbus Day, but for whatever reason, my company has the day off, and Lisa’s doesn’t. So a fairly leisurely morning, a luxury bagel, a little blogging, spend half my eMusic subscription for the month, and then get outside and caulk and paint some places where the house needs some help.

It’ll be in the mid-70s here, and while I surely don’t mind, that temperature is unaccustomed too. Weird is maybe a better way to describe it.

And it’s worth reflecting that, whatever Christopher Columbus’s faults, we’re here freaking out about the stock market and feeling cautious optimism about the presidential election and congratulating Paul Krugman because a Genovese navigator had an idea about a better route to the Indies. Sometimes it’s worth chasing those ideas.