Climb – Jane Richmond

Holy shit I actually finished a knit! Two if you count them as individuals.

After a long ban from homemade socks, shmoo managed to wheedle himself back into my good graces when I said I was knitting socks because I wanted a small project for our traveling, and my current shawl I’ve been working on for the past year is just too damn big to be drug around everywhere now easily.

So, he got socks.
If you are intersted in more than the photos, the Ravelry link is here:

If you just want to see them, then I got you covered.



Game Review: The Long Dark

Shmoo and I play a game called The Long Dark by Hinterland Studio Inc.
It’s still in beta on Steam, and is multi-platform.

Shmoo bought the game for me a few months after he got it, because I used to constantly yell at him while he played that he was going to die because he wasn’t taking care of himself properly and it stressed me out. Mostly, he just wanted me to stop yelling at him.

Basically, as an online friend said when asking us about the game…”so it’s an eaten by a wolf sim?” Yes. Yes it is.

Funny things we’ve learned about Canada and survival:

Canadian flags are impervious to weather, wind, and geomagnetic disaster, also, they are always flapping perfectly in the wind, even if there is no wind. I am not even sure a nuclear blast could take out a Canadian flag.

Canadians drink a lot of soda. A lot. Summit Soda. Stacy’s Grape Soda. Orange Soda. It’s all soda, all the time!

You can’t freeze your food outside to preserve it, even though everything outside is frozen or on the way to becoming frozen. Because reasons.

You can’t take a car hood/trunk and make a sled out of it to tote all your heavy shit around. Also because reasons.

Standing beside a fire in your warm clothes doesn’t cause hyperthermia, even when the “feels like” temp gets up to 130(F) and you’ve been standing beside it for several hours.

Cooking 85 lbs of bear meat in a fishing hut during a blizzard is totally normal, as is shooting a bear twice, having it maul you almost to the point of death, and then finding it freshly dead on the road the next day after you’ve recovered some.

While I’ve always been of the (admittedly biased) opinion everyone in Canada knits, there’s actually not one fucking knitting related item in TLD. Items appear to be knit graphically, but then you repair them with cloth, so that’s just not so.

Actual game tips:

Start on Pilgrim, unlock all the zones. Get a feel for the basics of the game.

Condensed milk is your friend. high calories, long shelf life, low weight for what it offers.

Never pass up a cat tail. You can eat them, and use them to start fires. They are super light weight.

Birds mean dead bodies. Dead bodies mean you should go check for loot. Also did you know you can store shit on a corpse? It’s apparently a container.

Food poisoning won’t kill you, it just makes you weak (assuming you are at 100%). You don’t even have to medicate it, just go sleep it off. (Also, you sometimes get Food Poisoning from food you don’t expect to give it to you.)

It’s best to shoot a wolf just after he’s taken down/eating a deer, and then you get the skin/meat/gut from both. Doing it this way saves ammo and it’s easier to aim.

The best set of maps we’ve found:

Things we’d like to see added:

An auto-run button. My dog sleeps on my desk while I play. Our cat sleeps on my husband’s side. Sometimes it’d be nice to be able to allow my hands to rest and perhaps move an animal while I was walking straight in the game.

A sled/contraption for moving a lot of gear from zone to zone. You don’t necessarily want to stay where you start out.

Trash cans or the ability to trash things/clean up things like random trash in the floor etc, because seriously, it bothers me. (I won’t even begin to start on the dead bodies that just stay in the buildings with you, cause you know, breathing in decay isn’t bad for you. Nope nope nope!)

Also the ability upgrade/change items (like the bed) by pulling mats/blankets from other places (housing groups, cabins, etc).

Beer! (This is shmoo’s suggestion.)

Final thoughts:

It’s a beautiful game. The graphics are lovely and often you just find yourself stopping a moment to enjoy them.

I know the point of the game isn’t to become another Minecraft and that’s not the end goal of the game designers, but really, if my survival is on the line, I’m going to use all the skills I have to keep myself going, and I feel like currently a lot of those basic common sense skills are too limited.

That being said, we both have a lot of hours /played on this one, and it’s been well worth what we’ve spent on it, and it’s not even done yet. The final version is supposed to have a story mode that explains what’s gone wrong in this region of Canada and why you are stuck there surviving. I know we are both looking forward to that being complete.

Not an inch.

So I didn’t spin a damn thing for Tour de France/Fleece.

I knit instead. And I almost managed knitting every day for a while. But then I stopped and have only randomly picked it up here and there.
I am working on Stephen West’s Bolting.

It’s been to several baseball games this summer and overall is pretty good travel knitting. It doesn’t really take a lot of attention and I can knit it without looking at it or the pattern when watching the games, but it does take just enough to not be a total snooze.

The only other crafty thing of interest is that shmoo got me a fancy ball winder for our anniversary. (It’s a month early, but his gift is also, so it works out!) I love it. It’s awesome and a huge improvement over the Michael’s $14.00 w/ coupon winder I was using. I am not resisting the urge to wind everything I own. :)

I thought I had other stuff to post about but I keep forgetting it so nothing is getting posted. Maybe I should make a point to post when I am thinking about something instead of doing it later and thinking I’ll remember do actually do it.

Online Sheep and Wool.

This year MSW hit the same time it always does… the first full weekend in May.
The problem with that of course, was I was still pretty tired from the tonsil surgery, and we had Senators/Baysox games Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and I knew I would not be up to all 3 games and MSW.

So instead I had a mini woolfest of my own online! It took several weeks to get all the items in as some were on back order, and now I can’t be bothered to take photos of them because I put them away as I got them, but I’m still going to list and link them here for you to pursue if interested.

First I picked up the pattern and a yarn kit for The Joker and the Thief Shawl. I got color option #3, Bloom.

I also picked up 3 skeins of Madeline Tosh Merino Light in Stovepipe and Rozetti Wicked Fur Yarn in #104 Zebra from Paradise Fibers, which is now in the process of becoming a Bolting, the pattern for which I bought a few years ago and just never made. This particular yarn combo was inspired by this version I found on Ravelry.

I stumbled across bone dpns as well on the Fringe Supply Co. website and ordered a pair of US size 4s along with a Etta-Billie Skin Balm in Bergamot-Ginger.

And no MSW would be complete with out some sort of purchase from Signature Needle Arts. Since I wasn’t going to be there to find them in the main barn, I found them online and picked up a pair if US 5 dpns.

And that is the sum total of my Online Sheep and Wool fest. :)
Tomorrow Tour de Fleece is starting up, and I am still undecided on how much I am going to participate, but I am least going to try and get in an hour or so for the first day. After that, no promises!

Topless, The Official Welcome of Summer

I know the calender disagrees, but we officially consider it summer once the top comes off the jeep.

I have hard top and I didn’t start taking it off until last summer, which was the first summer we had a garage. Last year it was difficult, took forever, made us cranky and sun-burnt, and took several days. This year it was easy. I did everything we did last year in less than 3 hours, and that includes cleaning it all before putting it on, and then cleaning out the inside of the jeep. Some of that was just having done it before and knowing how to do it now without having to read pages of instructions, and some of that was just better prep and wiser decisions.

It’s relatively easy and affordable (in jeep terms, because after-market stuff is pricey) to get your jeep to look this way, so I am listing everything I’ve put on it/done to it here. Basically, everything we’ve done is available on, and that’s where we’ve gotten it all from, but it’s been over a period of years, not all at once.

Bimini, Windstopper, and Bed Cover set:
If I had this to do over again, I’d pay the extra twenty bucks for the Bimini Plus top, and it’s possible that in the future I’d buy the plus top alone, but this is a great set. When I originally priced this out not long after getting the jeep several years ago, it came up to around 600 bucks, and this “QuadraPac” is $230.00 and includes all the little geegaws and windshield and tailgate channel crap you need because you don’t have it if you have a hard top.

Even when I take the bimini off, I like a little shelter from the sun. We are pale people who work inside with computers and sometimes extended trips in the sun can hurt you if you forget sunscreen. The jeep might be moving, but it’s like you’re sitting still in the sun.
I have layered this sunscreen under the bimini top so it’s already in place if I take the bimini off. All I have to do is fast the side wraps and snap the two out front snaps and I am good to go.

The Rack:
We got this rack used from a friend who had a 3rd kid and traded their 2 door in for a 4 door. As much as I like having a rack and I like this one in particular, I think it’s insanely priced and it wasn’t super easy to install.
The friend we got it from is the source of the wood on it also, because his wrangler was a soft top and said the wind noise was an issue, but the wind deflector for these garvin wilderness racks doesn’t come with the super expensive rack and it also is rather pricey for what it is.
He did however spend the money on the hi-lift jack mount for the rack (also stupid high for what is two brackets and some bolts):

Hi-Lift Jack:
Because you want to be able to change a tire if you need to and wranglers are pretty tall for normal jacks.
And the handle keeper helps keep vibrations and rattling down once it’s mounted.

A hardtop and door storage rack:
Seriously, it’s pricey, and shmoo said the assembly was a bit of a bitch, but it’s so worth it because you don’t end up shoving your top and doors around the garage and constantly fighting with them when they are in the way. This was easy to put the hard top onto, it holds the freedom panels and the doors securely so they don’t bump and rub each other, and the two rolling racks are designed to slide together to take of less foot-print. The only real problem I have with this rack is that it didn’t come with the cover it’s pictured with, and that’s another $165.00 if I decide to get it. But, when I ordered this back in early March, Quadratec did throw in some quick release mirrors with it, which work better than the old cheapie “I took the doors off and just need mirrors to be legal” mirrors, and they fit over the rack side mounts, which was a concern.

Future plans? Oh yes, I have them!

I need a tire cover, and I’ll probably crack and just order one that I am OK with, since the one I feel in love with is someone else’s custom wheel cover and I am not sure I could get our cat to co-operate.

Larger plans include having the carpet ripped out and spray-on bed-liner put in, so that when the rains happen, it’s just not a big deal and any water that gets in the jeep will just roll right on out the drain holes and there won’t be stinky carpet afterwards. It’s ideal having this done in the summer after I’ve already taken off ALL THE THINGS so I don’t have to pay someone else to remove/put back ALL THE THINGS.
I’ll pull off my soft-top stuff and remove my E-kit and tools before we take it to the bedliner place, and then all they should have to do is remove the seats and rip out the carpet before tackling doing the liner, which will save me some money.

After that I feel like I’ll be done until next year, when I’ll try to convince myself that I NEED this cargo netting somehow.

Who’s down with UPP….P? (yeah, you know me!) – Tonsillectomy at 40.

So, I meant to post this in April, but it’s better I did not, as I’ve needed a bit of distance on this one not to make it a crazy person post, and honestly it still might be.

On April 20th, I had a UPPP and tonsillectomy. I don’t recommend getting a tonsillectomy as an adult. At all. That being said, I’d do it again.
This post is about my experience thus far, and you may want to stop here. Also, it’s REALLY long (I mean REALLY!!). And probably has typos I haven’t found yet because it’s too damn long.


Still reading? Let’s begin!

I have sleep apnea. For those of you with sleep apnea, my last sleep study number was 109.
CPAP was not working for me, despite a year of trying off and on. I could tolerate the CPAP up until the full pressure came on (so around 45 minutes, an hour if I was pushing and trying really hard to not give up) and then it was just a mess of coughing and sputtering and misery. Additionally, along with the usual adjustment crap of a sore chest and face acne and blah blah blah, I’d start getting sick almost every time I went back to trying CPAP. It got really old really fast. The trying to use it during the day when relaxed tricks didn’t work, aromatherapy didn’t work, it got to the point where just thinking about CPAP stressed me out and kept me awake all night.
Shmoo was having none of this. He loves me, he wants to have a long life with me, and me dying of sleep apnea induced heart failure or complications thereof were not something he was going to tolerate, so I went to the ENT.

I love my ENT. He’s a practical man who has innately understood how to communicate effectively with me, which I’ve found is a rare thing with doctors, so I am totally going to keep him. (If you live near me and need an ENT recommendation, hit me up, I’m happy to pass along his info.) Even without looking at my sleep study (but I did tell him it was bad and that the records would confirm it when he requested them….) he told me what my options were if I wasn’t going to do CPAP and didn’t try to talk me into or out of my choices. He was upfront about how absolutely shitty it is to have a tonsillectomy at 40, how much pain I was going to be in, and negotiated effectively with me about how much time I was going to need off afterwards. (He was totally right too!)

The procedures I had done were a UPPP and Tonsillectomy. So basically, he removed some of the turbinates (or nasal concha according to google) in my nose, my adenoids, a good chuck of my soft palette including my uvula, and my ginormous tonsils. This is normally done as outpatient. Because I have sleep apnea, and apnea patients are prone to bleed and have more issues after this surgery, I got a one night stay in the hospital as well.

And here’s how it went down as I remember it…

I showed up at the hospital on Monday morning April 20, at 7:30 AM. My surgery was scheduled for 8:40. I got to put on a fabulous hospital gown and sit on a stretcher while they prepped me. I got an IV. They took my blood pressure and it was stupid high. People came and talked to me and wandered off. My IV had to be changed because it was the wrong kind because I was staying over-night. The girl did it in a hurry because the surgery team was waiting to haul me off. They popped some shit into my IV with warning to kiss my people bye quick, because I wasn’t going to remember anything else after this. I don’t remember shmoo kissing me on the forehead and leaving.

I woke up at some point later hearing people talk around me. I did not open my eyes, so everything was black, but they were talking about my blood-pressure and how stupid high it was and how it needed to go down. I am almost positive this was after the surgery, but I wouldn’t put money on it. I was pretty out of my head. I woke up in recovery and opened my eyes to see family there waiting on me to come around. I told them my blood pressure was a thing and dosed back off. Then I’d wake up, and doze back off. This went on for a while, possibly several hours.

Around noon? or so, maybe later, they got me to my hospital room. I was very happy about this new hospital bed because the stretcher was making my butt sore.
I remember being asked about my pain levels a few times. I know I answered 7 once. Then 4 or 5. Then I remember another 7. Then it was evening, and I was more alert. I started eating ice to help numb my throat. I tried an orange sherbert but it was too thick so I went back to ice. I got pissed off at the hospital gown and no one answering if I could take it off, so I took matters into my own hands and changed into shorts and a tank top I had brought with me. This made going to pee with all my attached accoutrement SO MUCH EASIER. Wrestling with that huge (because I am a fatty) hospital gown was a fucking disaster when trying to pee and not piss off the IV monitor.

When the night nurse came on, I asked her if my IV was supposed to hurt. She said it was not, and that meant she’d need to remove it but she needed to put a new one in first before removing the old one, but first she’d try flushing the one that hurt. It didn’t flush. It turns out, that fucker was bent. So IV number 3 was put in, and IV number 2 removed. And then, because my blood-pressure was still an issue and she really couldn’t see why (I looked comfortable and relaxed, I wasn’t distressed, etc etc), they gave me additional pain meds, and took me off of the IV. An hour later, my blood pressure was fine.

During this time I also had a heart monitor on a finger, and some compression sleeve things on my calves that were supposed to simulate walking around and prevent blood clots which they were incredibly worried about for whatever reason. I took the compression sleeves off after a while because I found them irritating and stupid, and they interfered with me going to pee, which I had to do constantly from all the IV fluids and the ice I was consuming. When the night nurse came in and found me standing up stretching my calves by doing lunges and walking around dragging my IV pole around, she agreed it was fine to quit doing those if I really wanted to, and I did. She also brought me orange jello and it was FUCKING DELICIOUS. It had a flavor and slid right down my throat without bothering it. It was heaven. As it turns out, I was also supposed to be on some oxygen cone thing on my face, and should have been all along but had removed it when I got transferred to the room. So I cooperated and put that back on since I didn’t have an IV drip anymore and finally went to sleep around 3 AM. Poor shmoo slept on the little couch in the room.

The next day I finally got cut loose to go home, the only hiccup being that my doc had done the paperwork already the previous day so while we thought we were waiting on something, we were not. We finally got that sorted and I got the hell out of there around noon. My doc had thoughtfully prescribed my meds the week before so I got them filled before the surgery and they were at home waiting on me. I promptly took them and slept, eating/drinking only cold, icy things or cool things for several days. That whole week is basically one day in my memory. Then there was the weekend, which I also mostly slept through, and then I did a week of WFH. That Friday (May 1st) I had my post-op follow up and was cut lose to go back to work, start eating more things, but no orange juice, no scratchy dry foods like chips, and no gym for another week. (My healing was a bit slower than it should have been, but we expected this due to my arthritis issues.)

The next Monday saw me back in the office, but not talking as much or as loudly as normal, and then early Wednesday morning(day 15) I had some bleeding that I could not get stopped, and had to call the ENT office’s emergency line. My doc was the one on call (thank goodness!) and he had me go on in, because apparently bleeding at day 15 just isn’t common and he wanted to go ahead and cauterize.

So 6 hours and 3 IVs later, that’s what had happened. I remember a bit more about the 2nd surgery, and while it wasn’t a horror story, I am still a bit too close to it to want to rehash it here. (As of writing this, it was only 5 days ago, so… yeah.)

I went home and both shmoo and I slept it off. When leaving the hospital Wednesday morning, I really thought I’d be back at work the next day. I was an idiot. Thursday morning I quickly saw I was fucked because just the thought of trying to get dressed was overwhelming, and called in. I slept the rest the day. I think I spent a total of 6 hours awake on that Thursday, and had no trouble sleeping that night. The overall result of the 2nd surgery was that I had to be careful with foods again for a few days, and it extending my no heavy lifting and gym time for 2 more weeks.

It was a lot of pain, and a lot of discomfort.
I am still tired/weakened, but I can tell I am getting better each day.
I have no uvula (it will grow back/be replaced by my soft palette at some point).
While I have found that anesthesia and common post surgery meds don’t cause me problems, it appears that IVs do not get along with me at all. That’s ok, I don’t like them much either.


If you’ve made it this far, you either really interested in this experience or you are thinking about having this surgery as an adult, so I want to list some observations and food tips below that might be found helpful.

It was totally worth it. It might not be for you, but for me it was, despite all the shit I’ve talked about above.

The day of the surgery, even with all the internal swelling from said surgery, I could already breathe better through my nose. I immediately saw an improvement in my snoring and most likely my apnea (I’ll do a study again in 3 months, so this is all anecdotal right now). Before, if you slept in our house, you heard me snore. Now, you have to be in the same room, and that’s IF I am snoring. I am still so fucking tired all the time, and odd things trigger coughing fits right now, which hurt. Yawning hurts like a bitch. Sneezing is surprisingly not the most painful thing. In fact, it’s a bit easier post surgery than it was before. I still sneeze super fast and hard, but it doesn’t seem to be tearing out of me near as much.


1. Sleep in a recliner. Seriously, if you don’t have one, beg/borrow/steal one before this surgery, you are going to want it. I am still sleeping in it half the time now. It really makes a huge difference to be sleeping more upright and a huge stack of pillows just doesn’t help you do this as effectively.

2. Listen to your doctor when he tells you it’s going to suck, be painful, and be much harder to recover than you think. He’s telling you the truth. Take your meds on time. Set timers if you have to, even for the middle of the night. It’s much easier and more effective to stay ahead of your pain level than to get stuck behind it.

3. Foodwise, have some things prepared for post surgery.

  • Be sure you have access to ice chips/crushed ice.
  • Buy a shit-ton of popsicles. I bought about 5 boxes of the Outshine fruit ones. I have one box left right now. (You don’t want ice cream. I was told that modern ice creams are too thick so they just irritate your throat instead. Also dairy makes your mucous thicker, and that was something I personally did not want.)
  • Go ahead and make up some jello. Several different flavors.
  • Coconut Water. shmoo picked some up for me just because, and it was wonderful for the first week.
  • Instant mashed potatoes. Get a few bags/packs, and then mix them up with extra water when you are ready for something not straight liquid. I also added jarred gravy for flavor and extra fluid.
  • I got a juicer, but it was too strong/thick that first week, so it didn’t work like I planned. I also did gazpacho around day 5, and that was pretty good because I was still on cold only foods.
  • Humidifier. I had a cool mist one, but I ended up buying a warm vapor/mist one week 2. The cool mist bothered my throat week 2 and just agitated me.
  • Lots of tea varieties that you really really like.
    -Week two when the scabs started coming off, my throat was a lot more raw and cold things stopped being OK.
    -Coconut water also burned my throat for several days around that time, and I had quit eating again.
    I lived on luke-warm tea and a shit ton of honey for about 3 days that second week.
  • Once warm is ok, I found taking a hot shower helped with my throat pain levels substantially. Specifically if I had just woken up. In the mornings I’d wake up, take my meds, start tea, and then go take a steamy shower and let the warm water hit on my throat on all sides and breathe the steam in deep. HUGE DIFFERENCE.
  • This list is of course not comprehensive. You might have different instructions than I did, and you’ll probably heal differently.

    I was told liquid diet the first week, so I ate jello, popsicles, italian ices, coconut water, and beef consume/broths (once I was ok with any heat in my food, which took almost all of that first week). Then very soft foods were ok as time went on, but I was not supposed to eat things that encouraged my scabs to fall off. I’ve heard that other people are told to do horrible things like eat dry toast and potato chips. I think I would have killed someone about that sort of shit.

    4. Timeline wise… Day 1 hurts. Day 2 is a little better, but you are going to hurt for several days and it will suck balls. Seriously. Then you’ll start getting better, and then your scabs start falling off (day 5-6-7) and it’s super fucking painful all over again, then it’ll be better, and you can likely come off your pain meds.

    5. Try not to freak out about the shit you go read on the internet for what other people are experiencing for the same day you are on. Everyone’s experience is different and generally the only people who post on those forums are horror stories. People who have good experiences don’t generally stop to bitch about it on the internet, they just go on about their lives.

    6. Don’t think you are going to do jack shit while recovering. You won’t. You are going to sleep. You might try to watch TV, or read, or futz around on you-tube or whatever, but you won’t, you’ll just fall asleep in the middle of whatever you thought you were going to do. It’s probably for the best, so don’t fight it, you need sleep to heal, so sleep.

    Also, don’t think you are going to be able to recover from this surgery and do something important like watch your kids (if you have them). That’s not going to happen unless you just like to make your life a living hell. It’s not good for you, or the kids. Don’t do it.

    7. Finally, set up someone to be your communications agent. Let everyone know before-hand that X person is who any information will be coming from and that’s who all questions should be sent to, because you aren’t going to give one flying fuck what anyone has to say or what they want to know, you are just going to be resentful that these people who care about you won’t leave you the fuck alone for a few fucking days and FUCK THEM YOU JUST WANT SOME SLEEP AND PEACE.

    I know this sounds hostile, but seriously. You’ll be drugged, in pain, and cranky as all get out. Make it easier on yourself and everyone who cares for you by appointing the poor bastard who is going to be around you most as your communications agent, and let them deal with all that while you rest. (I totally did this for my second/emergency surgery and don’t regret it a bit. I wish I had thought to do it for the first one.)

    And that’s all I got. Personally, I feel this is more than enough, so I am stopping now.

    Housekeeping has informed me your room is ready.

    I never drink water; that is the stuff that rusts pipes.
    ~W. C. Fields

    Tuesday, February 17th, seemed pretty normal for most of the day. Shmoo got home about 15 minutes before me, grabbed the dog and took her out back to potty. When he got downstairs, there was water EVERYWHERE. So when I got home a few minutes later at 5:30, he was walking out to meet me, and everything was suddenly chaos and crap.

    By the time an hour had passed the leak had been found, the plumbers had cut and repaired the pipe, and an insurance claim had been opened.
    (Forgive the photo blurriness. They were taken with our phones cause it’s easy.)

    The pipe that burst was nestled in between the two floors, so when it realized it was really upset about being frozen and fucked right off, the water just poured down the wall and flooded the entire guest room, out into the laundry room and was making it’s way towards the rest of downstairs when we got home.
    water flowing the down in the walls

    This is our souvenir.
    the pipe
    That tear that looks like a smiling mouth is not much wider across than a quarter. There was so much water and it was coming so fast into the other rooms, near as we can figure, the frozen spot only thawed shortly before we got home.

    And here’s where the plumbers ripped out our friend the angry pipe…
    the scene of the crime
    Did you know that when you have a leak in your walls, they just start cutting holes in shit until they find where it is? Yeah.

    I’m going to stop for a moment now, and show you a photo of our ceiling, just in case you missed the disaster it was all on it’s very own.
    the most awesomest ceiling ever
    Why yes, that is basically 1x12s around the edge of the room, with vinyl lattice work over black landscape fabric. And yes, it was totally awful and made everyone who looked at it state “what the hell? I don’t even know how to write this down…” and look at us all confused for an explanation. To which our reply was “We just bought this a little over a year ago, and it came like this. I’m sorry.”

    So, back to the train-wreck… Basically everyone who has ever had pipes had one freeze the same week we did. So the water mitigation folks who normally would have been out that night or next day couldn’t come until Friday, and there were no other available companies in the area. We know this because we called a bunch of them. After 3 days of standing water, the carpet was certainly a loss and they ended up taking out one whole wall, one half wall, the rest of the walls to one foot up from the floor, and half the fabulous custom ceiling.
    And this is what that looks like:
    look ma, no walls!
    and no ceiling too
    Now, you’ve noticed that they took the walls, but not the insulation, which also got wet and had to be removed before repairs could actually start. This is because it was so damned cold while the water removal was happening that they were afraid it would lead to all the pipes in the house freezing if they took it out.

    So if you’ve made it this far, I’m just going wrap this up by saying that we had a bit of back and forth with the insurance company and the restoration folks, and while I am not really happy with the restoration people, I’ll live. The repair work started on Friday, March 20th and they had guys out here for 4.5 days, and the last day was Friday, March 27th. It’s done. We’ve cleaned and gotten everything back into the room and all fixed up and now it’s ready for guests!

    panorama from the doorway
    panorama from the corner opposite the doorway

    We love the room and are happy with the final result, which is good, because shmoo’s family is due in this week. They had planned to come out for Cherry Blossom Festival before the pipe incident and we’ve been feeling a bit of stress about getting everything done. But it is. The guest room is restored, my craft room is now also a secondary guest room, and later this week our new furniture we ordered several months ago will finally be here as well, which means the current sofa will finally make it’s long awaited move to the den/bar where it too can be an ad hoc bedroom.

    It’s like we’re grown-ups or something…

    Senate Bean Soup

    Shmoo listens to a lot of NPR. Not too long before Christmas our local NPR station, WAMU, did a story on Senate Bean Soup, which has been on the menu since around 1905 or so. There were two articles on the soup in December of 2014, one on All Things Considered that aired Dec. 26th, and the one shmoo heard on Dec. 12 on Metro Connection. The Metro Connection story also contained the recipe(s).

    I liked the idea of the tradition behind the soup, and it’s simplicity, but I knew if I made it, it would contain many more ingredients. So instead of just going into the kitchen and tweaking and poking around with no idea what changes I made in the end, I started with tweaking the recipe on paper first and then using that in the kitchen. It ended up turning out really good, and I have a recipe that matches what I made.

    So my version of Senate Bean Soup is below:

    2 lbs dried navy beans, washed, rinsed, soaked overnight
    4 quarts or so water/chicken stock
    2 lbs ham diced( or leftovers from Christmas) w/ bone
    3 medium onions, diced
    2 stalks celery, diced
    2 cloves garlic, diced
    3 cups potatoes cubed (or instant mashed potatoes that make up about 3 cups)
    2 tbsp dried parsley
    2 bay leaves
    2 tbsp butter
    2 tbsp olive/avocado/canola oil
    1/2 bag of kale
    cayenne, salt, pepper, red pepper flake, paprika all to taste
    drippings left from cooking ham
    Bourbon (generally 1 shot) to taste, optional

    Add beans to stock pot with ham drippings, ham, bone, bay leaves, and enough water to cover by 2 inches, and bring to boil.
    When beans are soft:
    Sweat the onions, celery garlic in the butter and oil with a dash of salt, pepper, and red pepper flake.
    Once onions start to caramelize, add the potatoes and sauté stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
    Add one qt water/stock so potatoes are covered and bring to boil, then set on medium heat until potatoes are cooked.
    Purée mixture blender or food processor and then add to stock pot with beans and ham.
    Add kale, parsley, bourbon.
    Add cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
    Let simmer 1 hour.
    Remove bay leaf before serving.

    Brooklyn Black Ops vs. Bourbon County Stout

    For those who talk to me regularly, it’s no secret that I like stouts and my favorite stout is Goose Island (the bar, not what they sold to Budweiser) Bourbon County Brand Stout. It’s deep, dark, chocolaty, and at around 15% ABV, relatively strong. I treasure my bottles of this like the rare and delicate snowflakes they are. If I give you with a bottle, I must really like you, because I don’t give it to just anyone. My precious…….

    For Christmas, I received a 750ml of Brooklyn Brewery Black Ops, which is also a bourbon barrel aged stout, and the guys at Perfect Pour (local beer store) told the lovely folks who gave it to me that it’s a good substitute for the Bourbon County Stout since it’s much easier to find because it’s less limited in production. (This is possibly not correct, as someone went back to pick up a bottle and it’s all gone and they don’t think they will ever get more, also it’s not on the Brooklyn Brewery website anymore.)

    So I set up a side-by-side taste test and the TLDR version is yes, the Black Ops is an acceptable substitute for the Bourbon County, but no, it’s not the same by any means. If you can get the Bourbon County, do it. If you can’t, drink Black Ops, and you’ll still be happy.

    The more detailed summary is that the Black Ops is a bit fizzier, and tastes less of bourbon than the Bourbon County. The Bourbon County, in addition to being stronger in ABV, isn’t fizzy, has a darker, stronger taste (chocolaty, espresso-like, other stout description words here….), and is a touch sweeter and perhaps that is what makes the bourbon taste more pronounced. There’s also that alcohol oil-slickness that it has that I rarely find in any other of the bourbon-age offerings out there. Overall however, if had not had them side-by-side at the same time, I don’t think I would have found as many differences between the two as I did. If I had done this a week apart from each other, I’d maybe think the Black Ops was fizzier but that would be it.

    To give my opinion a frame of reference, these are the other stouts I really like:

    Old Dominion Morning Glory Espresso Stout

    Dogfish Head World Wide Stout
    DuClaw Retribution (Pumpkin Retribution also worth your time!)