Sunday, June 13, 2010

A bourbon won that wasn't a bourbon

Argh. Set us up another round barkeep, by argh.

Jennifer and I hosted the Cumberland Island Armadillos here at Freebird yesterday for BBQ and assorted sides. As usual there were a variety of tasty hors d'Ĺ“uvres proceeding an eclectic meal with the superb pulled pork and smoked chicken BBQ being complemented by a large array of salads made of pasta, veggies and cranberries, asparagus and other greens, shredded fresh beets and carrots (surprisingly tasty), assorted fruit, and - much later - topped with apple pie.

The festivities started about mid-afternoon on a blistering hot and humid day that kept most of us indoors in the a/c and under the ceiling fans watching the
USA tie England in World Cup play until closer to sunset. Afterwards we listened to tunes on the stereo system with Clint ultimately coming through with some great new age stuff that he channeled through his Pandora account, but that was much later in the evening.

As with most 'Dillo gatherings, there were plenty of dogs. 'Dillos are by nature dog lovers and we had four canine friends join Nala and Charlie for the weekend. Nala was not impressed but Charlie thought they were fun.

After we feasted everyone retired to the comparably cool twilight air and awaited the nightly firefly display that we get here this time of year. The spontaneous rising and flashing of hundreds of lightning bugs in our open lawn areas was well-received by the 'Dillos, who have seen this sort of thing before on camping trips but never at our place. Jennifer and I are quite accustomed to its splendor...yet we certainly don't take it for granted.

As the firefly show proceeded, we talked about Venus shining brightly high in the early evening sky. Clint took the opportunity to show us this incredible app he has for his Droid phone. It shows the stars, planets, and constellations in the evening sky, real-time, based on your current GPS reading. The neat thing is the sky shifts through the display as you tilt and pan and turn the phone itself. So, you not only see what is in the sky within your field of view but you can see through the earth (in our case) to what is in the southern hemisphere sky just by pointing it down to your feet. What a great tool for us astronomy geeks. Definitely the technological highlight of the evening for me.

Brian and I talked a little economics and he explained to me the thought processes behind why the the western countries gradually went off the gold standard for their currencies. It was fascinating stuff for me because I had never really understood the rationale behind it. Nevertheless, I advanced to him why I thought it was a mistake as basing everything on
fiat money only jeopardizes the value of everything in the long run. No fiat currency in history has ever survived.

Mark and I kept up with
the Braves beating the Twins in an inter-league game. They won last night's game on a classic squeeze play called for by Bobby Cox. They don't squeeze much in American League-style play so Bobby caught the Twins on their heels, which was a beautiful thing. Mark and I both like Bobby as a manager and are enjoying his wisdom in the last year of his career. We toasted the bunt and the win.

We all got to enjoy Clint's and Mark's recent pics from their backpacking trip last weekend to
Shining Rock in North Carolina. I cued up my 1930's mix of music as we all gathered in the living room to watch the slide show on our HDTV. There were some spectacular natural shots, both close-ups and panoramas, as well as some nice kaleidoscope effects shots Clint did with his camera. Clint always has an eye for the world in multiple dimensions.

Towards midnight (or thereabouts) five of us volunteered for a blind bourbon tasting, which has become a quasi-tradition for 'Dillo gatherings at our house. Diane was kind enough to line up five different bourbons that everyone had brought while Jeffery, Will, Mark, Jennifer (of course), and myself tasted and retasted in search of the best of the breed.

Everyone rather promptly disposed of bourbon "B" in the lineup. Turns out that was the "standard"
Jack Daniels. A bit of a surprise. It then came down to a contest between two that each of us preferred. Though it was a different two for each us there seemed to be a consensus about one - everybody was comparing that one to one of the other three.

In the end, the five of us universally went with substance in shot glass "D" as having the most flavor/smoothness combination. That turned out to be a barley whiskey, not a bourbon at all. We chose a whiskey that had no corn it and called it a bourbon. Blasphemy.

So, the taste test wasn't comparing apples to apples, but no one seemed to care anymore by that point. We were all smiling. The surprise winner was
Colorado Whiskey, though - for me and Jeffery - the smoothness of Gentleman Jack was a close second. Knob Creek and Bulleit were also-rans and the close seconds of other tasters.

Will seemed a bit disappointed. It was true that "cleansing the pallet" between taste tests was a bit, shall we say, low-key. Nevertheless, there was true agreement between all five tasters as to which was best. So, I take unanimity to be worthy of importance.

I arose early the next morning and made the first pot of strong coffee. Jean was up and we sat and talked about our respective work situations, challenges and frustrations. She is in accounting for the state and is now attempting to do the work of 40 people with 30 who are furloughed now and then making for even more work with less pay. We discussed the many downsides of our consumerist culture. She shared with me a bit about her continuing growth in her
Tai Chi practice. We talked of the importance of a sense of community and of new communities she was experiencing in her life.

Clint setup a tent in our front yard a good ways away from the house. He talked about enjoying laying there waking up and listening to all the early morning bird chatter and sunlight first hit his tent. Later, I helped him take things down in a sweltering sun. Very sweaty conditions.

About 11 a.m. another 'Dillo feeding frenzy ensued. A brunch consisting of two kinds of scrambled eggs (one mixed with chucks of salmon), sausages, tiny pancakes with maple syrup, some killer (literally) hash browns, strawberries congealed with angel food cake, and other assorted fruits. Much of the meal was whipped together by Eileen using some new recipes she had been wanting to try out. A great first effort on all of them from my perspective.

Ted joined us for brunch. He is busy working for the Census Bureau and couldn't stay that long. It was good to see him. Armadillos have to make contact whenever they can. Otherwise years might pass between sightings.

Afterwards, the group was rather lethargic, sitting in the shade of our carport outside, enjoying a nice breeze, though it was another hot and humid day. A garden tour was a must and Jennifer was happy to oblige.

By mid-afternoon everyone was ready to go back to Atlanta or the mountains or other ports of call. Lots of hugs and kisses, well-wishes for a safe trip, guys and girls and dogs alike. Until we meet again in a few weeks at Swan Cabin.

Looking forward to a future Now not too far away.

Late-Note: The Braves are finishing a long 11-game road trip by taking two out of three from the very good Minnesota Twins ballclub. The series itself was outstanding for Atlanta, even the loss. Going 6-5 on the trip is a good sign, I think.

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