Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The crows populate the tops of the denuded trees, as though silhouetted leaves, until they take flight to follow the eagle they pursue, a ratio of one hundred to one.


Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas


This book is a great collection of short readings for the Christian religious seasons of Advent and Christmas. It begins on November 24 and ends on January 7, the day after the day of Epiphany. Each day features a short reading, poem, or meditation on Advent or Christmas from a great theologian, thinker, poet, or writer.

Some of my favorite pieces are written by Sylvia Plath, Henri Nouwen, Kathleen Norris, Madeleine L'Engle, William Stringfellow, Edith Stein, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Annie Dillard, Martin Luther, St. John Chrysostom, Eberhard Arnold, Søren Kierkegaard, T. S. Eliot, and Jürgen Moltmann.

The book was originally published by Plough Publishing House, the now defunct publishing arm of the Bruderhof Communties, and is now published by Orbis Books.

Give this book as a gift to those friends and family members who want a more meaningful experience of Advent and Christmas than the secular and commercial world(s) can offer.


Visit the Plough Publishing website. Although they no longer publish physical books, many are still available in electronic formats. They also have links to books that are still in print.

Buy Watch for the Light from Orbis Books.


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Friday, November 26, 2010


Today is Black Friday. I will be staying home as part of Buy Nothing Day.

Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday. I will be supporting local small businesses with my presence and holiday dollars.


Support your local independent bookseller. Locate yours at IndieBound.


The font pictured above is Blackout. You can find it at the website of The League of Movable Type, a collection of open source fonts.


The snow of the past week has mostly melted. Only a few remnants linger.

These are traces of snow, memories of the quiet and stillness with which it blanketed the land, boundaries that it erased appearing once again.


A maze of hazelnut and walnut branches, looking skyward through both trees; bird prints.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I am outside filling my bird feeders with seed. I am surrounded by a cacophonous chorus of birds, encircling me with their small bodies and strong voices—chickadees, sparrows, finches, juncoes, wrens, flickers, thrushes, jays, a crow or two.

The shadow of a small form, passing close by my head, appears in my peripheral vision and causes me to turn in its direction. It is a honeybee, flying erratically, heading downward toward the snow. It lands, still and silent. It's wings, which are moving ever so slightly, jerking subtly and rhythmically with the pulse of the bee's body, slow and stop. It relaxes and rolls over on its side, frozen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


The cold wind blows

and all succumb,

all succumb.


Oak leaf, house sparrow, spider and unidentified leaf.


Leaves lie flat on the snow. Animals curl their legs up against their bodies.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Wind-sculpted snow and sky.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Leaving the comfort of "home."

Into the woods.


A small shack: who lives here?

Lamp posts and apple trees.


Winter Warmer, a Winter Warmer Ale by Powerhouse Restaurant & Brewery.

On tap, served in a 16 ounce shaker glass. 7.2% alcohol by volume.


It seems that a lot of winter things are appearing earlier each year, creeping through autumn, ever closer to summer. Christmas cannot wait until Thanksgiving any longer, appearing throughout our culture immediately after Halloween. Likewise, many winter warmer ales are released in early or middle fall, rather than waiting for their namesake season.


With that being said, the Powerhouse makes an interesting variation on a winter warmer.


The beer board reads "SERIOUSLY BITTERED WITH COPIOUS SAAZ HOPPING." It is only one of two beer board listings in all capital letters. (The other is the Kölsch.)


The glass arrives at the table with a hazy yellow body with a thin white head.

The nose is of butterscotch candies, shortbread cookies, and lemony citrus.

The tongue includes those flavors, although a strong varnish-like alcohol bite is what is first encountered, accompanied by a bitter hoppiness. Then the other flavors appear, followed by a background of broth and nettle leaves.


There is almost too much alcohol and bitterness on the front. The more I think about what I just tasted and the more it settles onto my tongue, the better it becomes. Is this "instant nostalgia"? The flavor is so intense and the ale doesn't quite fit my stereotype of a winter warmer (more hops than malts, lacking some of the spiciness I have come to expect), yet it's higher alcohol content, the initial bitterness tempered by the smoother flavors on the finish, and its overall balance as it lingers really make it enjoyable.




The wife, the child, and TWT walked in the snow to our neighborhood brewpub for dinner and ale. It was worth the walk. The Overload Pizza and the Winter Warmer helped to keep the cold and snow at bay, as did the full beard!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Self-portrait with The Child, Friday 19 November 2010.

It appears that the gods of the secular version of Christmas have appeared even earlier this year than of those prior. The malls and stores are inundated with holiday merchandise. It makes me want to stay home more so than ever.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Thought, Forethought, and Afterthought.

My two regular crow visitors bring their sometimes friend, Thought, along with them for the day's bread. They place themselves in the scene based upon their names—Forethought in the foreground, loud and boisterous; Thought in the middle ground, somewhat near but comfortably wary; and Afterthought lurking in the trees, just out of sight, peeking around twigs and leaves to check on things.

The small pool of water at the driveway's end provides a means for easily breaking the bread into more manageable pieces. Occasionally, all three will gather at the pool, splitting a slice of bread or tortilla shell between them.

Friday, November 19, 2010


99 Bottles posted on their Facebook page this morning that they received a very limited quantity of Deschutes Brewery's The Dissident. I missed out on the last batch (2008), but heard it was an excellent sour ale. So, off I went, to collect beautiful trinkets like the crows I have been observing, flying off to purchase my allowed one bottle.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


"...I only know that a rook / Ordering its black feathers can so shine / As to seize up my senses, haul / My eyelids up, and grant // A brief respite from fear / Of total neutrality..."

—from "Black Rook in Rainy Weather" by Sylvia Plath, as found in Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


It is a turn of events. It never happened. Yet there is a body.

The wind hectored Achilles, brought exhaustion and battered his body, dragging it through the air as though across a battlefield.

His corpse tumbled from the heavens and landed in the courtyard of a church, hallowed ground, sanctuary.

There is no longer fear. There is no longer labor. There is only a body.

Monday, November 15, 2010


An entire murder of crows alights upon a copse of cedar and fir. A few moments later, the hundred or so birds are airborne again, Windriders in the brisk bluster. They tumble and crash into one another, flapping to stay aloft and aloof from their neighbors.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


The scene is imprecisely trisected by two telephone lines. Upon these lines sit the crows of Odin, Hugin and Munin, Thought and Memory, although I think of them as Forethought and Afterthought, Prometheus and Epimetheus, Greek rather than Norse. They are no longer pictured above, although they are lurking, somewhere, in the background. I can hear them chattering to one another. I know I am being watched.

Forethought lands upon the upper line each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday around noon, while Afterthought hops about from branch to branch in a nearby tree, croaking out bits of encouragement to his brother. Forethought calls out to me, asking for slices of bread or tortilla shells. I oblige the two crows with bits of discarded food that were headed for the compost bin.

They may call upon our house on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, but the wife hasn't been watching for them, so she isn't sure if they show up on those days. But, each weekend day, when the sun is near its zenith, there they are, waiting for a few scraps, luring me outside with their throaty song.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Today, the wife, the child, and I spent a rare day together. The three of us enjoyed sleeping in, a round of disc golf, lunch at Tacoma's Freighthouse Square, and poking around in both the University of Washington Tacoma bookstore and King's Books.

The wife's driver disc attempts to hide from us!

A beautiful mid-autumn day in the Pacific Northwest. (The rain came later in the day.)

Chicago-style hot dog with all the fixin's from Dog & Deli of Tacoma.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The Mens Room Original Red, a Red Ale by Elysian Brewing Company.

22 ounce bomber bottle, served in an English pint glass. 5.6% alcohol by volume.


The pour is coppery orange-red, capped with a finger-thick white head. Terraces of lacing remain behind after successive quaffs.

The initial aroma contains caramel and a hint of leaf.

The initial flavor is caramel and a faint, faint nuttiness. As it warms, the caramel smooths out and expands, while a bitter nettle creeps in at the edges.

The palate is solid, with the tiniest alcohol bite on the finish.


My initial reaction:
I've heard great things about this, so I expected more. It's a decent red, very sessionable.


As it warms:
As the night (and the bottle) wear on, I am more intrigued by it. I have finally identified the flavor that has been bothering me, eluding me. It is pretzel. The crisp dough. The saltiness. I break open the bag of pretzels on top of the refrigerator and have a few. Washing them down with Mens Room confirms the match.


This ale is great with homemade chicken tacos.


Final reaction:
It took some time and some reflection, but I think this is a beer that definitely is worth the word-of-mouth praise that it is getting. As I sipped it and thought about it, as it warmed and allowed its true character to come forth, I think that a new regular red ale made its way into my heart and my refrigerator and my belly.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Troy's Work Table and The Child watched Castle in the Sky, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, a wonderful animated dreamscape-slash-adventure-story. The Child was scared by the robots, which was interesting since they are mostly peaceful, except in one scene where a damaged robot lays waste to a fortress and hundreds of soldiers. That specific (and mostly defensive) violence from one robot is tempered later in the tale by many sibling robots that live and tend the bucolic gardens of the castle in the sky.

TWT pretended to be such a robot two days later.


The Child to TWT:
"What are you doing?"

TWT to The Child:
"I'm a robot."

The Child to TWT:
"What? So, you're a robot that writes and drinks beer?

Saturday, November 06, 2010


I have been battling the black walnut tree in our yard in an attempt to keep up with the massive amount of leaves that it is dropping right now. The above picture is the view from the roof before work began. Twenty-four hours ago it looked identical. I spent a few hours yesterday sweeping the roof, cleaning the gutters, and raking the yard. I filled our yard waste bin, as well as a few biodegradable yard waste bags. The roof was clean. The gutters were clear. The yard was green.

Then the wind picked up. Then the rain came. Then leaves fell from the tree's branches as though yellow and brown snow. It appears as though yesterday's work never happened.

I will work again today, but the tree still clings to at least one-third of its leaves and it is supposed to rain again. The battle continues.

Friday, November 05, 2010


I picked up a new beer glass when I was poking around at 99 Bottles this afternoon. I am now the proud owner of the Samuel Adams Boston Lager Glass.

I have heard how this glass really helps make your beer drinking experience move to a new level. I have also heard that it is merely a placebo effect. Someone tells me that it really boosts both aroma and flavor of any beer. Someone else tells me that it only works well with lagers and lighter ales. Someone else informs me that I bring to the glass whatever is in my head: if I think it "works" then it does; if I think that is doesn't, then it doesn't.

I can say that (1) I like the look of it and (2) it feels good in the hand. It borrows elements from various other types of beer glassware—the base of a pilsner glass, the bowl of a snifter, the lip of a tulip—and skews them a bit.

I hope to take it for a test run with a few beers in the coming week. Only scientific experimentation will determine if the glass lives up to the hype. Stay tuned.