January 19, 2015

2015: The Year of the Monkey [Wrench]

In the last months of 2014 we saw our youngest son, Steve, return from his overseas tour in Qatar, finish his four-year Army commitment, and re-enter the civilian world by moving to Huntsville to begin an intense job search. Three weeks later he was employed. I was beyond relieved.

Also in the last months of 2014 our middle son, John, returned from his year in Kuwait and settled at a new post in the States. Again, my relief was immeasurable, due mainly to the horror of ISIS and the knowledge of their rapid worldwide expansion.

And finally, the Holiday Season; always a joyous time, a beautiful cap to mark the end of any year. Oldest son James and his wife Crystal had our first grandson on the day before Thanksgiving. This blessed event made December and particularly Christmas a time of great happiness for our entire family.

Three days after Christmas we (Steve and me in my old Odyssey van and Ormond in his Audi) drove 12 hours, convoy style, to Huntsville. The plan was for me to spend about three weeks at our apartment there, being a wife and mom, shopping and relaxing and enjoying my family, before driving to Dallas to help my parents make their move to Florida. What happened instead was this: A week into my visit a family friend from Dallas called to say that my father was in the hospital and I needed to come right away.  That night I drove to Little Rock and the next day made it to Dallas by lunchtime.

Two weeks have gone by since my drive to Dallas. Today my 88 year old dad is 100% healthy and ready to come home from rehab tomorrow morning. Our moving date of January 25 still stands. Someone threw a wrench into our Big Plan but as a result my father, physically and mentally exhausted from the burden of being a caretaker and from having had to make the hard decision to leave his home and community, has been forced to leave all care and responsibility behind and get some much needed rest. Also, and just as importantly, my mother and I have had time to work out a positive relationship based on new roles and abilities, and now we work together toward our common goal.

Everything happens for a reason!


One of the reasons I was looking forward to spending time in Huntsville was I knew I'd have time to write in this blog.  My first post was going to be an essay on craft beer tasting based on my own experience and the many scribbled notes I had made. Well, that post never happened.  But I need to get rid of these random pieces of paper. So here are my notes. Maybe I can find the photos that accompany my story when I get home, and make a proper report.

Stone Go-To IPA (4.5%):  In the flight glass, light, citrusy, hoppy.  Cloudy golden.  Carbonated - medium sting.  Very drinkable.  Slight bitter aftertaste.  After pouring it into a proper glass, it is much less citrusy, loamy smell, not an easy session beer unless you love the IPA.

Cigar City Invasion Pale Ale (5%): In the flight glass, large head. Low sting. Light amber. Feels thin, light, wheat aftertaste. After pouring it into a proper glass, it really opened up the flavor, giving it more body and aroma. Balanced and drinkable.

Lagunitis Day Time Ale (4.65%): In the flight glass, more sour.  Crystal clear, pale golden, floral smell. After pouring it into a proper glass, it smells herbal, loamy.  Nice even taste, not bitter. Medium sting.

Brew Dog 5 A.M. Saint (5%): Dark amber/orange. Somewhat cloudy, smells malty. Delicious, sweet, caramel, very sour initially, sweet and sour, hoppy finish. Malty. Solid, very cloudy amber color. Medium to small head. Low carbonation. Not as oily as a porter or stout, not as citrusy as an IPA. Great session beer for someone who wants a bit more but not uber-dark or uber-bitter. Beaver says it's similar to Negro Modelo or Pepe Nero (Goose Island).

Red Hook Audible Ale (4.7%): Clear Amber color. Very carbonated, light. Faint orange flavor, sort of a weird candy aftertaste. Carbonated like a Bud Light but tastes like beer. "Brewed in collaboration with Dan Patrick."

Founders Double Trouble IPA (9.4%): Light amber, clear, very little aroma. Smooth. Very little bite - low carbonation. Citrus finish (grapefruit).

Oskar Blues Brewery Mama's Little Yella Pils (Brevard, NC, 5.3%): Amber, cloudy, no head.  Smells like yeast.  I think we got waylaid during the Yella Pils tasting.  Must try another one LOL!

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