The Archer

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.

“Beeg yaard?”

“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.

trivia.commuting.natural gas

It became fairly obvious last night that I am bad luck for the trivia team. Without me for the past few weeks they’ve done remarkably well. Despite me contributing a couple correct answers last night (CUBA!!1!), we fell like Tim G in the driveway after drinking Guinness from his boot. And even though the San Diego Zoo says so, I still don’t believe the water buffalo is heavier than the polar bear.

I’m still getting used to the new routine. My commute is not very long (~25 minutes), but it’s a helluva lot longer than the 2.4 miles I’m used to travelling. I’m lucky to be able to avoid most of Atlanta’s congestion via Atlanta Road, Northside Drive, and 17th Street. I worry, however, that the 17th Street area is going to start to clog up once Atlantic Station starts to become occupied. One thing I don’t like about the commute is that it brings my innate road rage boiling to the surface. I don’t have a hard start time in the morning, so as long as I’m out the door in time, there’s no need for me to haul ass all over the place. But as soon as I join the rest of commuting Atlanta, it’s like a road warrior race. I can’t seem to get to or from work fast enough. I think this is a sign that we should move closer in and sell both of our cars.

Speaking of conserving energy, I’m suddenly glad I sweat through all that firewood splitting this year. I mean, I’d be glad anyway, but all signs point to natural gas bills being astronomical this winter. I’ve heard the news that prices were going to soar, but we got the letter in the mail that our 12-month locked-in rate was going to go up when our term rolls over in October. It’s going to be something like $1.42 per therm or whatever the unit of measure is. The point is, that’s almost double what we have been paying, which means we’ll be looking at gas bills pushing $300 a month when it gets cold. Fuck. That. It may actually be cheaper to use electricity-hogging aplliances like space heaters and electric blankets. Looks like we’re going to need a bigger fireplace.

The Tweener – Conclusion

Nothing like starting a new job to make you think like you have no control of anything going on around you. Not that the job is all that hectic. In fact, the actual work has started quite slowly. my managers have been very forthcoming about the fact that there will be a long learning curve, which was better than my last gig where they said, “Here’s a phone and a computer. Make sure you hit your numbers every month.” Regardless, it’s a dumptruck full of new stuff to grasp, so I’m flapping around like a live tuna at a Widespread Panic show.

This is the part where I wrap up all of the antics from the past couple weeks once and for all so we can all get on with our lives.

Some of the uneventful things I accomplished:

- Washed our ri-ding-dong-diculous windows
- Applied weed killer to my dried-up, dead-ass, weed-infested yard
- Repeatedly, knocked out WICKED HELLA chores (dishes, laundry, cleaning, errands, vacuuming, the whole nine)
- Chopped a half-cord of hickory that ate my lunch for me for several days in a row.

As you may have heard, I finally finished painting the GHAT DAMN closet doors. Some pictures:

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The Tweener – Day Three: Spray it in the face

I’ve discovered that, leading a life away from a cubicle, and, subsequently, away from the teat of connectivity, is not very conducive to regular blog updates. I predicted that several days with no job would lead to monumental creative productivity. Alas, as my head has hit the pillow the past couple nights, and I’ve taken inventory of the day, I’ve realized, “Hmmmm … it seems I forgot to blog again.” Surprising? A little. Refreshing? Definitely. How depressing would that be if I took a perfectly good chunk of free time and whittled it away on the internet?

Yesterday, day three, I worked on the hickory logs some more. It took me an hour to split 5 of the larger ones into 6-7 chunks each. That is ree-ding-dong-diculous. I also gave the paint sprayer a workout on the GHAT damn closet doors. I’m making progress, albeit slowly. The paint sprayer doesn’t get a workout so much as my Barbie Air Compressor does. I have what I believe is the second smallest compressor for sale at Home Depot. It’s like 2HP and holds 6 gallons. A little bit of advice if you’re in the market for an air compressor: THAT’S NOT ENOUGH FOR A PAINT SPRAYER. It will handle multiple nail guns like a champ, but tools that require a steady stream of air need more horsepower and capacity. If you are in the market for an air compressor, and you only need it for nail gun use … I’ve got one I’ll sell you. Cheap. ish.

Lessee, what else … I went for a run for the first time in waaaaay too long. It actually went much better than I anticipated. It’s been so long that I only expected to make it about a half-mile before collapsing in a heap of hot death, but I ran solidly for almost 30 minutes. I am a machine.

Tonight, Chattahoochee plays Norcross. Both bands are doing Beatles shows. Should be interesting.

Brooklyn Lager tastes like Pale Ale.

Mike Justice is still the best blogger in my links list.

The Tweener- Day Two: Hickory Dickory

The day the Duke left for the Gulf Coast, he stopped by first to borrow my camper top. We have ideantical pickup trucks (how fucking cute, right?), so he can use my camper, no problemo. A hickory tree recently fell in one of his neighbor’s yards, and since I’m the firewood dork, he brought me a truckload of hickory logs to split, season, and, ultimately, burn. I’m stockpiling firewood so that we won’t be hog-tied when natural gas prices go up 50% this winter. As we’re unloading, the Duke says, “Hickory is a little bit different from the other stuff you’ve split. It can be tricky. I’m interested to hear how it goes.”

“It’s not like elm is it? I’ve read, and you’ve told me, elm is damn near impossible. Is the grain all jacked up like that?”

“No the grain is pretty straight. Hickory is just … well, you’ll see.”

Well, I’ll see. Feh. I’ll admit, I’ve been pretty spoiled up to this point with poplar, oak, dogwood, birch, pine and the like. If I were smart, I would have said, “Take your hickory logs back to your neighbor’s house and tell him to cram them in his cramhole!” But I didn’t. Foreshadowing? Nooooo …

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Draining: Body and Yard

For the first time since high school, I am going to the doctor to help stem this here poison ivy infection. The miracle soap has worked well for me for the past couple years, but this time around, I have somehow managed to really “put my wang in the hornets’ nest,” as they say. The divot on my right forearm will not stop leaking. It’s like a faucet. I slept with toilet paper taped to my arm again last night. Now there’s a similar fountain gaining strength just above my knee. Kill me.

Rather than exhaust all of us with incessant complaining, I’ll switch gears to bragging about another small triumph as a homeowner. You no-doubt remember the drainage problem we’ve been having (as detailed here). In honor of America’s Jockboy-in-chief, I decided Saturday to take the war to the terrorists rather than let the terrorists bring the war to me. Quick Summary: There’s a ton of underground hydrology running through our property, one of the most prominent features being a catch basin in the middle of the back yard which has become clogged with large debris causing the yard to flood when it rains heavily.

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Stupid, natural face

Since I’m sure you’re all chomping at the bit for an update, I’ll toss you a few scraps about my lawn. The turf has mostly recovered from the close call last month, but a large weed contingent has taken full advantage of the grass’ weakened condition. And after my chemical misstep, I’ve become too chicken-shit to use any weed killer. You’re welcome, weeds. Everything is still nice and green, but there a several more species of plant life out there than I’d like to see. The worst offenders, by far, are the offensive offspring of several large Mimosa trees that just happen to be growing in the detentnion pond by the driveway. They are my new nemeses. Not only are they puking up thousands of little leafy weeds all over my yard, but their trunks and roots are destroying the concrete infrastructure that enables a detention pond to work properly. Naturally, they are flourishing in an incredibly awkward location. I could *probably* get to them with the chainsaw, and I could *probably* cut them down while standing in the knee-deep water without killing myself, but then I would have to dice them up while also standing in the creek and somehow haul them out. While not, by any means, an impossible project, it is one I’m going to try to coax the City of Smyrna into performing since, in addition to removing the trees, the detention pond itself is in need of some pretty serious repairs.

As I stood there staring at the broken-ass drainage system and the junk trees polluting my yard, I grew very tired and frustrated.

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I've got your Mondays right over here.

Somehow my birthday managed to last for three days and I still didn’t get no stinking pony. I did, however receive several gifts of beyonder awesomeness, so I am willing to drop the pony thing … for the time being.

On Friday night, there was much drinking and yelling and grilling at Tall Brown. There was arm-wrestling. A certain public school teacher spent half the night sans pantaloons and capped things off by yodeling groceries off the back deck. I peed on my belt. Actually, my belt was fine until JJ shook the shit out of me. That, after I so kindly refrained from peeing on his new BMW. It’s on now. Paul2k5′s foosball table was sorely missed. The next morning, I unwittingly ran the lawnmower through aforementioned yodelled groceries. Good times.

On Saturday afternoon we went out to The Duke and Mr’s Jazzbone’s house for dinner and festivities. Jazzbone (who has a new, competing nickname, Detective Sparklepants) made Paella and Polenta. It was delectable. I am proud to announce that there has been a new addition to my stable of gas-powered yard maintenance tools: The Nature Displacer. Pictures to follow.

Yesterday, I slept in, puttered on the internet, went to the mall, puttered on the internet some more and then went to Gia’s parents’ for dinner. They got me a giftt that should increase the quality of blogging around these parts several-fold, which means everyone who reads this should send them a thank you note. Pictures to follow.

Last night, Hurricane Dennis did his little dance all over us. There were several points in the night when I was convinced I had heard the thick trunk of a tree cracking and braced myself for impact as there are several trees in our yard that would slice Tall Brown in half like an axe through Peeps. The power went out at some point in the night, and I woke up this morning just as we both should have been getting out of bed anyway. It could have been worse, but we were both denied our 45-minute-plus snooze fest. A rude awakening on a dreary, rainy Monday.

Birthday week is definitely over.

Time Warp

Twenty second weekend recap: “Pounded nine holes” again on Friday. Toothy Ruthie joined us and there was much revelry and rejoicing. Following golf we ramsacked the Wild Wing for dinner. I’m going to have to stop going to the Wild Wing because it is causing too much drama. Over the rest of the weekend, I had no less than four people say, “You went to Wild Wing? Why didn’t you call me?” I just can’t take the pressure. Paul2k5′s birthday party was Saturday night, and as part of the surprise, Pam had me move his foosball table out of my basement and into their house. The key to that last sentence is “move … foosball table out of my basement.” Suck and ass. To commemorate this horrible tragedy, Toothie Ruthie, Keif, and Benyenyen came over for a little going away foosball party. We played 4 or 5 games and then rested our hairy beanbags on all the handles. Enjoy your table, Paul.

We wrapped up at about 11:45pm when Ruthie left. The conversation seemed to be dwindling and Keif was heading towards the door as well. Something caused him to stick around for a minute, and, the next thing we know, we’re out of bourbon and IT’S 4:30 IN THE FORKING MORNING. Just like that. Total time warp. We stood there, wide-eyed in disbelief. Wasn’t it just midnight, like, 15 minutes ago? We still have no idea what happened. Needless to say Saturday was a late morning.

I got up and mowed (surprise!) and I finished about 6 minutes before the sky opened up like it had a bone to pick with Noah. I took advantage of the rain to do the weekly cleaning, vacuuming, laundry, etc. I’m telling you people … in the Geester’s absence I have been a SENSATIONAL house husband. I even vacuumed the cats, those furry bastards.

Saturday night, we roasted Paul2k5. I took a couple pictures, photoshopped them, and forgot to upload them. That’s okay, they weren’t that good anyway.

Yesterday, I went on a shopping man-date with Brian and ate dinner with the in-laws.

I have more stuff to write about, but I’m going to put it in separate entries.

Here is your daily Zombie party photo:

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