Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Day 365 of 365

I had intentions of posting some sort of sprawling reflection on the past year today. I may or may not get to that this (New Year's Eve) evening, which promises to be a wild party of running the Wolf River trails, walking Cy (see below), washing at least three loads of laundry, watching the Tigers basketball game, and, eventually, grilling burgers stuffed with blue cheese for a late night supper with Cindy, who will work till at least 9:00 and probably much later as folks try to fill all the 2013 prescriptions they can.

Cindy worked late the first New Year's Eve we spent together, too; we ended that night an actual couple, so I'm pretty much OK with a reprise nine years later. Overall, though, my New Year's Eve history had been pretty uniformly poor, including the following highlights:
  • Staying home, along with my brother, while not being allowed to spend New Year's Eve with our favorite cousin because the (illegal thus immoral) shooting of fireworks within the city limits would be involved
  • Being stood up for a date when I was 16
  • Watching the Tigers lose on television while I was home with a cold when I was 20
  • Pining for some (other) girl and drinking to the point of falling asleep under a tree in a friend's front yard during a party when I was 22
  • Making my one and only foray into the world of drugs harder than alcohol or pot at the same house the next year
  • Arguing with my (then) girlfriend because I didn't want to take her to a party (which was at the house in front of which I'd passed out two years earlier and at which I'd snorted the cocaine the year before)
  • While we were dating, talking to Cindy on the phone while each of us was lying on our respective sofas with the stomach flu, unable to move and hardly able to talk.
It's a sorry history, for sure, and it'd be a depressing list except for the fact that each of the events described was pretty much the low point of each preceding year; the high points were, no doubt, on days on which I did not feel social or other pressure to celebrate only for celebrating's sake.


For now, I see 2013 as, among other things, the Year of Separate Travels for Cindy and me. The two of us did enjoy our semi-annual visit to the San Francisco area in May and were able to sneak away for a couple of longish weekends to the Mississippi Delta and Hot Springs, but otherwise most of our travels were done without the other. Cindy's trip to Alaska with her childhood best friend was long overdue, and I definitely had no place to complain about her being away, as I took five trips without her this year. Sadly, that number doesn't differ too much from those from previous years, but, maybe because I was on the left-at-home end for once, I felt the weight of the days spent apart more acutely this time. More than once, I thought to myself, "I miss Cindy in my bones"; it was not lust or even missed affection, just a feeling of emptiness, way deep down.

Cindy rarely complains about my being away, though I know it bothers her. It doesn't help that my absences seem to coincide with unfortunate occurrences at home. In 2012, Mr. B locked himself in and pretty much destroyed our bedroom during one of my trips; Cindy had to have him put down--in my absence--during a second 2012 trip. This past year, Cindy had to deal with a backed-up sewer line while I was away for Thanksgiving. In each case, she gave me her blessing to travel, but I still kick myself for not being home when she needed me there.

These separate trips will most likely still be necessary at times, a consequence of Cindy's rigid work/vacation schedule and my desire to visit family and friends when I can. But I'll do my darnedest to make sure 2014 is a Year of Shared Travels. Or at least the Year of Shared Time at Home.


On the plus side, this guy joined our family in October:

Even though I accidentally refer to him as "Mr. B" or "Bubba" now and again through old habit, Cy is decidedly his own man. The best leash-walking dog I've known, Cy will walk at my pace without my needing to tighten the leash, even walking alongside me when I simply place the handle end of the leash in my right coat pocket. He also knows how to work his way out of his kennel, which led to a problem-solving session similar to the one I needed back when I learned that Bubba could open an unlocked refrigerator. He's already pleasantly clingy and, like B, seems to prefer Cindy (though he wants to be near both of us). I suppose it's a luxury of childless folk to talk about the pleasantness of once again having a feeding and potty schedule give shape to one's day in reference to a four-legged companion, but it has been a surprisingly easy transition after a dogless year.

He'll be my companion for most of my activities this evening. I could not ask for better company.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

November Nashville Beer Tour

So it's been a couple of months since our beer tour of Nashville (technically, it was the Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives Plus Brewery Tour, since we also ate at several restaurants we saw profiled on DD&D). Life and general busy-ness blocked my original intent to blog, but I'll post just a few pics and thoughts here. 

Just for starters, Nashville seems to have a vibrant, if fledgling, craft beer scene. We visited three breweries (see below), but a separate trip could've taken us to at least three other brewpubs (Blackstone, Boscos, and Big River), and at least two more production breweries are either off the ground (Little Harpeth) or getting there (Broadcast). We started our tour with the Elder Brother of Nashville Breweries, Yazoo.

Doubling up on Dos Perros

Our tour guide, Seth Green (actual name!)

We enjoyed our ($7) tour, which included 3 fairly generous samples (even more generous for those of us accompanied by a spouse who doesn't drink!). The on-site tap room was a happening place, with a line of folks looking for late Saturday growler fills extending nearly out the door; I left with a growler of Rye Saison, maybe my favorite of their beers.

After dinner at a Greek diner (Athens Family Restaurant, which was fantastic), we headed to our favorite part of town, East Nashville, where we stopped by Fat Bottom Brewing.

Fat Bottom's branding has rounded into shape

The Fat Bottom sampler

The Fat Bottom sampler boasted several styles, and thus nice eye appeal. My favorite was the seasonal Rye Pale Ale, though the Black IPA was super tasty as well (all others were solid). Unlike Yazoo (and Jackalope, although food trucks service both of them fairly regularly), Fat Bottom boasts a full-service restaurant on-site. We were full from dinner, but decided that we'd try something from the menu the next time we're in town. (I took home a growler of the Rye Pale.)

On the way out of town the next day, we tried Jackalope, which is located in the Gulch District within site of Yazoo.

The Jackalope sampler

When I received the Jackalope sampler, I was initially worried that I'd received four pours of the same beer, since the four I'd ordered (Rompo Red Rye Ale, Bear Walker Maple Brown, Thunder Ann American Pale Ale, and a seasonal IPA) were similar in hue. Fortunately, the beers ended up being very distinctive and probably were my favorite overall from the weekend, the Rompo being especially good (enough so to take home a growler of it; I must've really been in the mood for rye those two days!).

The tap room at Jackalope was super laid back; my wife and I played Scrabble and munched on sticky buns (made locally and offered for sale at the counter) while I lingered over my beer. Jackalope is also in the process of expanding to include a coffee bar, which makes me like them even more (and makes it likely that we'll stop by there more than once next time we're in town).