Thursday, August 4, 2011

Isderf's Summer Projects

Isderf has been really busy this summer, and it hasn't all been good. For some reason we aren't happy unless we have a dozen projects underway and are working ourselves to the bone to accomplish them.

At the end of April, I had bunion surgery. The surgery entailed having the big toe bone cut in two different places, so not only was I drugged and incoherent for a couple of weeks, I also couldn't walk on it for six weeks.

During this time, Isderf arranged for our basement windows to be replaced and set up for emergency egress (which constitutes a whole blog of its's own). Thankfully it wouldn't get underway until at least June, maybe even July.

A couple of weeks into May, we had a company BBQ at one of Isderf's co-workers. Seems that he'd had a project of his own and was now looking to rid himself of a lot of fire bricks and six terra cotta style chimneys. Well this was very fortuitous, cause Isderf was thinking he didn't have enough projects already and that a BBQ/Smoker/Pizza Oven would look really cool in our backyard. So the next weekend had Isderf hauling bricks. (Thanks Tom)

Then we had a week of school related activities, most of which I could not attend, so Isderf was volunteered - Dutch oven cooking, setting up tents in class rooms, zoo outings and picnics in the park.

The next weekend, I was still carting around, he decided that he would start our new patio. We'd been collecting bricks from craigslist for a couple of years in order to expand our patio space and make use of some land that was difficult to water and use.

Summer's starting, I have to use a knee cart to get around, and Isderf requests that we unhook the A/C for his "two week project". Those of you who know us, and how most of our projects go, are probably laughing their asses off right about now. I did try to reason with him and have him wait until fall when I could help, but he wanted to get it done. So I arranged to have the A/C moved and Isderf somehow convinces a friend, and co-worker, to help dig the hole (I'm still leaning towards blackmail or bribery).

Problem is, there's a lot of dirt. The patio will be 10' x 30' and they have to dig down about 8 inches. So now they have to haul the dirt off and unload it somewhere too. Needless to say, this part took a lot longer than he thought it would (gasp... Really?) and after that first day, he's doing it alone.

But that's not all he did. About two weeks later, I'm just starting to walk on my foot with crutches or a walker, Isderf went to California.

For those of you who know Isderf well, you know that - until recently - he doesn't drink. In fact, if you knew him in college you are probably really surprised that he drinks at all. I can remember him scaring the crap out of some freshmen that thought he'd buy them some alcohol, they're probably still in counseling.

Over the past couple of years he's tried different drinks here and there and hasn't found anything he liked. We've tried Guinness & Jameson's in Ireland, we've tried wines and liquors, but nothing appealed to him at all. Then he went to California and found a meadery. Yes, I think it's odd too that even though he didn't drink, he went looking for a meadery.

So here I am, in Idaho, getting text messages that are weird and don't make a whole lot of sense. Then he tells me that him and his friend are having a drink in a meadery and I realize that HE'S DRUNK! He claims differently, but then tells me that he feels a little lightheaded and it hurts to think - HE'S DRUNK! Now I find this extremely funny and annoying. I've known him for 16+ years and he goes to California to get drunk for the first time.

So then he gets home and within days we're visiting the local brewery store and buying carboys and thieves and bubblers and yeast. We have carriers and specific gravity measurers and lots and lots of honey.

Now in true Isderf fashion, he gets so excited about doing something that he neglects to double check the recipe to see if it all makes sense. So we're cutting up apples and cooking them down when I discover that it's not really a recipe at all - more like guidelines. The guy that owns the meadery in California has put notes online and Isderf thinks he can interpret these and get a recipe. Maybe he could have, if he'd taken some time before to do so. So there we were with 5 gallons of honey trying to decipher how much honey to use. Afterwards, when comparing other recipes, we discovered we might have over done it, by as much as twice the amount.

Then the mead had to ferment and bubble in the basement for a couple of weeks. When it was time to taste and rack it, Isderf called on his friends to help him determine if it was done or not. Sorry guys, but I'm not sure if that was bravery on your part, or stupidity. Maybe they felt coerced; he is their boss after all. They were very nice about it, cause Isderf and I both thought it was gross. It was way too sweet and the specific gravity was where it should have been when we started. So more yeast goes in and it goes back into the basement for more fermenting.

At this point, Isderf turns his thoughts to bottling. This is when I start to question why he'd make 5 gallons of something he's not sure he'll like and that will take a lot of beer bottles to store properly. So Isderf points out that they do make a 1 gallon carboy and that he needs bottles and off he goes to the brewery store to collect beer bottles (the owner keeps used, free ones in front of his business). I probably shouldn't have been surprised when he came home with free bottles and 3 one gallon carboys.

We haven't even gotten this first recipe right and he's talking about making raspberry cysars and such. Then he makes another discovery - he doesn't have a bottle topper.

Once again, my mother adds her encouragement - she has a bottler. An old bottler my great grandmother used to make homemade root beer, who knew? And a while back, someone gave her a box of antique cork tops. We only had to remove them, carefully as it’s an antique, from the box. The crazy part is that, with a little clean up, it worked!

Now we have 5 gallons of fermenting mead and all the stuff to start three more batches, but we still didn't have anything we could, or would, drink.

Throughout this time, Isderf is still working diligently on our patio. We've been without an air conditioner for eight weeks and our food budget is really starting to suffer. The kids and I would spend all day in this hot house, most of it in the basement where it stays cooler, and he'd come home from an air conditioned office and state that it was too hot here, let's go find a restaurant with good A/C - we found quite a few actually. Of course, this might not of had anything to do with how hot HE was, maybe more along the lines that WE were hot and cranky and he knew asking what was for dinner would get him seriously injured.

We also had our egress windows done - three day project, that we hired out, turned into almost two weeks of me being the general contractor. But that's another blog entirely.

So Isderf finishes the patio within days of our children's birthday party, in our backyard. He claims he doesn’t want to see another brick for a long time, so I’m wondering what we’re doing with all those firebricks in our backyard. Maybe I’ll Craigslist them while he’s at work one day.

We finally get the A/C hooked up on the first of August. The technician is a comedian and offers to unhook our furnace and then wait 8 weeks into winter to hook it back up. It takes our house 6 hours to get back down to 76 degrees and the kids and I just spent the afternoon lazing around enjoying it.

And now we're strong arming friends back over to taste the mead again. I promise to let you know how that goes.

Sounds like things have quieted down? Nope. Over the weekend Isderf got something in the mail. Something he'd ordered... Plans for a cider press. So we're sitting over at my moms while Isderf is discussing how the press won't be expensive but he needs a garbage disposal to make an apple grinder and my mom pipes up, "We have a grinder." Jeez, I lived with these people for 20+ years and I'm just now finding out all this? And I was complaining about Isderf's friends encouraging him too much!

They do have a grinder too. It's an old motor that my grandmother and her neighbor used to make horseradish with when my dad was a child (50+ years ago). It's in great shape and it pulverized apples, there is nothing but mush left and it does it in seconds. If you blink, you'd miss it. Isderf is enjoying pulverizing things a little too much with it and now we don't have to buy a garbage disposal. Maybe one of these days we'll buy something and use it for its intended purpose.

Next up, the window project from hell.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, my brother won a blue ribbon at the Denver County Fair for his mead. He could probably send you a couple recipes. :)

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