Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Experiment Begins; We're Making Mead!

The first batch of mead
is called "Joe's Ancient
Orange and Spice Mead." It'll
take months to ferment.
Blame Tom McNutt. Yes, that Tom McNutt. The garden guy. The one on television. This is all his fault.

One Saturday in June, Tom was doing a live broadcast from the North Market’s Farmer Market. There were all the usual vegetable vendors, the locally-harvested honey, the flowers, the amazing berries… and the guys from the city’s newest meadery.

“The what?”

Meadery. A place that makes mead. Essentially, it’s wine made from honey⁠.

In the mid-1990s, Woody Drake was making movies in the Carolinas and making homebrew as a hobby. That came to a screeching halt when he accidentally discovered mead, the legendary nectar of the gods. By the late-90s, he was tired of his career and tired of the South. So he moved home to Ohio. Along the way, he recruited his brother, Eric, into the mead-making hobby. After winning a few awards, including a very good showing at a national level, the decanting duo decided to make a go of it professionally. They found a few superb recipes, pitched some yeast, waited for some fermenting magic and, eventually, opened their casks to the public in 2008.

The Brothers Drake were selling bottles at the farmers market and Tom McNutt was tasting… and interviewing. Live.

This is the stuff of inspiration.

This mead has fruit in
it, so it's classified as a
A few years ago, I was able to harvest enough grapes from the vines overtaking the backyard pergola to fill a couple of five-gallon buckets. I was determined to make my own wine. Never mind that they’re concords. They’re still grapes. They’ll ferment.

I bought all the stuff. The fermentation buckets. The racking tubes. The carboys. The special yeast. The little bubbly thingies.

The grapes were washed, crashed, fermented, racked, racked again, settled and slightly aged. One carboy was full of a beautiful, deep-red liquid. The other was lighter, slightly-pinkish-yellowish. It had been waiting for months and months, begging to be tasted.

The moment arrived. It was time.

The pour. The sniff. The taste.


This stuff could put the petrol companies out of business. A flask of this stuff was strong enough to keep a jumbo jet in the air for a transatlantic journey.

All ten gallons went right down the drain. The buckets and carboys sat empty and unused for nearly three years. The grapes weren’t all that good for wine and the birds were getting them before we were anyway.

Then there was Tom McNutt’s live shot. Mead. Honey wine. Eureka!

We don’t have to fight the birds for the fruit. We don’t have to find an organic solution to grape vine grey rot. We don’t even have to strip the grapes off the stems. Honey! We can buy honey! All year! Any time! This is The Solution!

So, we’ve decided to give it a go ourselves. And today was the day.

Two batches are in the one-gallon carboys, ready to ferment themselves into deliciousness.

Mead is made with copious
amounts of raw honey. We're
trying to use locally-produced
honey whenever possible.
The first batch is a recipe from and called "Joe's Ancient Orange and Spice Mead." They claim it's super-simple to make. Almost foolproof. Watch me screw it up.

Since it includes fruit (oranges and raisins), it's classified as a melomel mead.

The second batch is from the Joy of Mead website and is called Vanilla Metheglyn. A metheglyn (or metheglin) mead is made of just honey and spices. The recipe suggested two ways of dealing with the vanilla beans; I went with option #2: grinding them in the food processor⁠ then steeping them in the water that gets poured directly into the carboy. 

Within minutes of being in the carboys, the batches began to very slowly bubble. That's a good sign.

Now, we wait. This'll take months. It's all about patience. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kiwi Born at the Columbus Zoo!

The Columbus Zoo has another adorable animal to add to its living collection. A kiwi was hatched today. They're relatively rare in their native New Zealand... and even more difficult to breed outside the country. But Columbus did it!

Here's a link to the adorable video...

The text of the Zoo's news release and more photos after the jump...

Kiwi born at the Columbus Zoo on March 23, 2011.
Photo by G. Jones at the Zoo.

More info and photos after the jump...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Glover Disaster

Actor Danny Glover on the
Weekend Mornings
set with Marshall and Mindy.
Oh, the messages are rolling in.

But I promise you're not nearly as angry as we are.

Here's what the release said:
"Actor Danny Glover and Rochelle Saulsberry have launched the Movement of the Masses, a global grassroots initiative designed to help people of all races overcome economic challenges and develop the capacity to accumulate and sustain wealth."
Whatever. We hadn't really planned to spend much time talking about any of that anyway. There's so much more to discuss!

As his IMDb bio indicates, Glover is a UNICEF Ambassador and an internationally-recognized philanthropist. He does real work to help the world's children and the poor. His ideals for the film industry are lofty enough that he started his own production company to produce films with "artistic integrity and social importance."

I had hoped to talk about his work with children and high-end film.

But we never had a chance to get a word in edgewise. He instantly launched into his "multi-level marketing" pitch (which many people might interpret as: scam). We didn't know how to get out of it without being rude and abruptly cutting him off. It was just horrible. It will go down as one of the worst non-interviews ever.

Off camera, before the broadcast, he talked about his wife being in Brazil to play in a tennis tournament, how he enjoys cooking for his step sons and lots about NCAA March Madness. He's a huge sports fan, as it turns out. Never made it on the air.

So, instead of a great interview with a Hollywood legend who happened to be in Columbus and willing to get up early on a weekend morning, we ended up with a soft-spoken pitchman for a what sounds a lot like a ponzi scheme.

We were sold a bill of goods.
As the boss said, "We were had."

I'll never watch a Glover movie the same way again. It's ultra disappointing.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sago Palms Deadly to Pets; Sold at Many Stores

Sago Palm image: Wikipedia
(Central Ohio)  Francine is a happy, playful Golden Retriever living with a loving family here in Central Ohio. And she's living on borrowed time. She is destined for liver failure. It could happen any time. Her family is devastated... and angry.

Veterinarians believe Francine's illness was caused by a plant. She ate part of a Sago Palm bought in the garden center of a local home improvement store. Her owners say the plants carry no warning labels.

The Sago Palm or King Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta) is native to Japan but also reportedly can be found growing naturally in the United States from Florida and the Gulf Coast north to Tennessee and Virginia.

The plant is toxic to both pets and humans. According to the ASPCA's website, "all parts of the plant are toxic, not just the seeds or nuts, and common signs of ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, depression, seizures and liver failure." Symptoms can appear in less than 12 hours.

Animals, apparently, find the plant very tasty. Curiosity can lead children to eat parts of the plant as well.

"Since 2003," says the website, "the ASPCA has seen an increase by more than 200 percent of sago palm and cycad poisonings, and 50 to 75 percent of those ingestions resulted in fatalities."

Francine's family wants everyone to know the dangers of these plants and to protect their pets and children from them.

The plants may be for sale at local garden centers. Buyer beware!

Here's a little more from the ASPCA's Poison Control Center:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything


It is the Ultimate Answer.

So sayeth Deep Thought, the massive computer created by a race of pan-dimensional beings intent on finding the solution to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.

These are the teachings of the glorious Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy... and the theme for the remainder of the year.

For 2011, we shall not be bothered by the trails and tribulations of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal nor shall we be subjected to readings of the Vogons' mind-bogglingly atrocious poetry. We shall, however, always remember where our towels are.

It's going to be a good year.

Happy birthday to me. :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Construction Begins Today

The original For Sale ad from the
May 5, 1895, Ohio State Journal.
Our house was built in 1895 by A.C. Ady. According to the original sales ad submitted to the now-defunct Ohio State Journal, the house had a finished third floor which made it a 12-room house and, thus, a little more marketable on "the finest resident street in the city."  The upper floor was divided into two rooms and gas lines were run to supply heat and light. It was used as living space during the home's boarding-house years and storage at other times. It's actually a great space.

And it's about to get even better.

Our friends at MWG Remodeling (the same ones who did the fabulous bathroom remodel on the second floor) are getting started today. The ceiling of the front room will be torn out to reveal the attic and the attic window, cathedral out the room and provide a ton of extra storage space. One of the doors has to be moved, headers need to added for stability and then it's a matter of insulation, electricity and drywall. Yes, it's a project.

It'll take about a month to get it finished. But when it's ready, Daniel will have a perfect room to use as an art studio and I'll finally have the room I've wanted for years to accommodate the model trains. It's going to be great! It's going to be a huge mess in the process... but it'll be awesome when it's ready!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The New Camera & Stewie

I couldn't help myself. I am the world's worst impulse-shopper.

So, we have a new camera. It's a highish-end, Canon point-and-shoot with all the manual controls that would make a "real" photographer proud.

I'm a big fan of Canon because they make some of the best lenses in the business and their equipment tends to be more Mac-friendly than some others. Since my whole world is Mac-based, that's important! My previous Canon point-and-shoot camera has served me very well for the past four years or so but it's starting to get a little haggard and worn; time for it to retire.

I've been playing around with the new gadget this afternoon and managed to snap a great photo of Stewie on his hamburger pillow. He hates the paparazzi, so it's no small coup to get a good shot of him!

One of Stewie's favorite places is perched on his hamburger pillow where he can comfortably snooze, reach down and swat the dogs, or just keep an eye on the world from the front windows.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

43-7: But Our Bobcats Still Win

It was like lambs to the slaughter.

The Buckeyes are ranked Number 2 in the nation. They're huge.
The Bobcats lost to Toledo last week in the MAC.

Most of us just wanted to see our boys in Green & White make a respectable showing at The Horseshoe. We weren't under any real delusions that they'd actually take home a "W." But, as Ohio University fans, we can't help ourselves... we tend to root for the underdog.

And the Bobcats were 30-point underdogs.

The Bucks beat the spread before halftime. The Marching 110 was terrific.

When the Bobcats pulled out a touchdown in the second half, it was a bit of relief. At least it wasn't a shutout. And we're not going to think of it as a "sympathy score," either.

But the Bobcats still win. Big.

Ohio University will take home a massive paycheck for this game. That'll help keep Peden Stadium open and support large parts of OU's other athletic programs. A big chunk of the money comes from the TV rights... so, thanks, Big Ten Network for showing the game!

The Bobcats may have been battered and bruised by the Buckeyes... but their efforts will make a huge difference for lots of other OU athletes.

Thanks, Bobcats! Great job today! Thanks for, literally, taking one for the team!

From 2010.09.18.Bobcats v Buckeyes

Friday, September 10, 2010

I Remember...

Mesmerizing blue sky.
I walked over to the grocery store early this morning. The air was cool; the sun was bright, making crisp, distinct shadows through the trees above the sidewalk. It was a perfect, nearly-autumn morning.

And then I looked up.

I remember this sky.

It's blue. A blue we don't see all that often. Crystal clear. Not a cloud as far as the eye can see. Not even the wisp of a high, icy cirrus cloud or the hint of haze. Just pure blue. Pilots call it a "severe clear."

It was just like this nine years ago tomorrow.

I remember walking home from the transit station that morning, schlepping my luggage, looking at the sky. Marveling. It was beautiful. At the time, we knew our flights had been cancelled and we'd been sent home from the airport because of "an incident" in New York.  It wasn't until a little later that we found out just how horrible a morning it had been.

That sky is seared into my memory.

It was a sky just like this morning's.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

No Longer a CraigsList Virgin

It's my first posting on CraigsList!

The Carriage House at 692 Neil is going to be available at the end of the month. The woman who has lived there for nearly six years is moving out and moving up. So, it's time to find a new tenant. That's where the infamous CraigsList comes in.

The leasing sign is posted in the front yard like a realtor's "for sale" sign... but only the people actually driving by see that. When the ad is online, it's available to tons more people! And with a lot of students and professionals making the late-summer move, now is the time to get the word out there.

The posting was free. And relatively easy (once all the confirmations went through). It has photos and a link to the website with even more info.

So, cross your fingers! Let's see how well it works!