My quiver of entertaining arrows is stuffed full and I hope to begin shooting them into the hay bale of your web browser post haste. There has been a bathroom redecoration completed, a Georgia/Florida game endured, a Chili Cookoff lost, a lawn aerator rented, a Boubon-aged Imperial Stout bottled, and the components of a Mash Tun purchased. (My mash tun will be 60 quarts as opposed to Jonny’s 100-qt setup, and my manifold will be CPVC rather than brass. Other than that, same design.)
I’ll first recap the items for which I don’t have accompanying photos. Saturday was the 4th annual chili cookoff, and the only one I haven’t won since the first cookoff in 2002, which I didn’t enter). I harbor no animosity, though, as ChristPuncher clearly did not deserve to win. Martron took it with his Lucky 7, the same chili that probably would have taken the title in 2003 had Marty decided to show up on time. Andy was second with his Fifty Seven Dollar Chili, wowing everyone with his bold use of pepperoni, olives, and red wine. ChristPuncher took the Hellfire & Damnation ribbon for spiciest, but that was part of the problem — CP was wicked hella spicy. Also, I formulated the recipe with Andouille sausage, but when I made the competition batch, I FORGOT THAT PART and I used plain old ground pork instead. I’m not saying the sausage or the spice would have made a lick of difference, I’m saying I got what I deserved for being a colossal dumbass. The best part of the cookoff? Now that everyone has a couple years under their belts, the collective entries are getting really, really good. There wasn’t a single entry this year of which I wouldn’t want to scarf an entire bowl.
I am sore today. As I alluded in the Sodomy Creek interview a few weeks ago, my lawn has looked like inexcusable garbage since somewhere around the end of June. It started as an infestation of weeds, which I combatted with a second treatment of weed and feed, which turned out to be a big mistake as the extra fertilizer fried half of my yard. then it rained every day for 2 months. Then the August sun came out and it didn’t rain for like 6 weeks straight. Aside from begrudgingly running the mower over it when it reached embarassing heights, my lawn has been dead to me (and literally, mostly) for far longer than I care to talk about. BUT, little things I do now can make a difference for next year. I did have the foresight apply straight up weed killer twice over the past couple months and it seems to have worked pretty well. Currently, there are a ton of dead weeds and a sparse coverage of actual turf that has actually gotten healthier as the fall weather has stabilized.
Yesterday was the latest chapter. I went up to the Orange GOP Warehouse and rented a lawn aerator. I’ve used one of these once before. I was in high school and The Duke tacked some extra cheddar onto my allowance in return for chasing the aerator around the yard for an afternoon. I remember thinking at the time, “Holy shit, this sucks.” It’s funny how the mind lets things slip through the cracks. (For the unwashed heathen: Overseeding should be done in the early spring and the early fall. Mowing the existing grass as short as possible and either loosining the topsoil or aerating will ensure good seed to soil contact and minimize losing seeds to wind/rain/birds. Honestly, I probably should have done this 3-4 weeks ago. I would have, except cram it.) At the Home Depot Tool Rental counter, there was an Eastern European fellow who was in line after me. I don’t know if he wanted to ensure his place in line by staying with us, or if this was some bizarre custom in his home country, but he followed the clerk and me around for the duration of my transaction. As I was closing my tailgate, he finally offered up some thickly-accented insight.
“No, not really.”
“Heh heh heh. You veel have guhd slip tonight!”
He was pretty much dead on. My yard is now riddled with thousands of little holes, and blanketed with ~15 pounds of grass seed, but my back and shoulders are wrecked and I wore all the hide off my left thumb just steering the damn thing.
After that debacle, I bottled the Imperial Stout that I originally talked about here. I didn’t take any pictures, because The Geester and I were running late for dinner at her parents’ house. Suffice it to say, it’s probably the best beer I’ve ever made and it has gotten me all kinds of stoked to brew much more often. Two weeks: all-grain.