Beer Advent Calendar!

 

Beer Advent

 

New month, people. Here at the homestead, that means a beer a day!

 

When I spotted this beer advent calendar, my soul would not allow me to walk away. So I bought it and now Mister and I get to drink our way through it.

 

I would like to thank the baby Jesus for getting born and all, so that advent calendars exist. Hallelujah, peace be unto you and namaste bitches!

Perchance to Dream

 

 

I miss sleep.

 

I’ve been having trouble staying asleep at night. Again. I struggled to sleep since I was a small child. It barely went noticed, though, as everyone else was always dead to the world, while I, alone, fidgeted in the dark, hoping to drift off. Those sleep troubles lasted all the way up to a few years ago. I don’t know what happened, exactly, but I began sleeping through the night and it was grand. I still had an occasional night of tossing and turning, but for the most part, I was rested.

 

Then the U.S. elections hit in November of last year and my sleep began suffering again. For several weeks, I was maybe getting four hours of restless sleep per night. And that took its toll, to be sure. I decided to drink more (for reals) and I started sleeping a bit better. Not the best cure, I admit, but as I was mostly walking dead for a few months there, I took the alcohol as treatment. And it helped.

 

Once January rolled around, I climbed aboard the wagon, just as I do every year. The goal is to start the new calendar with a dry month. Ordinarily, that’s no big deal, but my sleep troubles have returned and I don’t like it. The nighttime wakefulness is aging me. And being tired doesn’t do much for one’s outlook, either. The word unpleasant, while apt, doesn’t begin to cover the problems associated with poor sleep. Poor sleep, in and of itself, leads to poor living.

 

I’m trying to wear myself out, as best I can, and hopefully that will lead to a few nights of good slumber. I surely need it. And if not, well, I’ve only committed to not drinking for this month. In twenty days I’ll be off the wagon.

 

To sleep, perchance to dream…

“Great News!”

 

 

This painting is a god-send. Its wisdom is getting me through these days, and its humor helps me smile. Mister and I like it so much, we used it on our holiday card this year.

 

It’s the second painting I’ve done in this style (see the first here) and I truly enjoy the process. There’s something about turning real people into cartoon characters that gets me going. I’m challenged by the work and I’m terribly entertained as well. Both of the paintings I’ve done in this style have been fun! That’s pretty cool, friends. Fun counts.

 

I’d like to start another painting along these lines, but I haven’t come up with the text. I’ve got a fantastic photo lined up, so hopefully that will inspire me to find the proper words to accompany the image.

 

Until then, I get to giggle over this work. I’m super-keen on it. And I love it. Cheers!

Water, Please

 

 

This post’s title could very well allude to our sad, sad drought. But that’s not my intention.

 

My intention is to tell you I’m trying to not drink during the week. This was my idea and I suggested to Mister that we limit our alcohol intake to weekends only. I figured it would be a good step, considering we get up at the booty crack of dawn during the week and I’d like to maintain my status as a lightweight on the booze front. Seriously. I love getting loopy after a single drink. If all I manage to down is two bevvies, so be it.

 

Anyhoo – that’s my intention. I very nearly had a glass of wine the day after I made the suggestion to abstain during the week. It was Monday. I had put forth the plan only the night before. So far, I’m hanging in there. I mean, it’s only been a week of school nights, but I’m remembering now. Of course, after the weekend, I may forget again. Who knows? Wish me luck.

L.A. Beer Week

 

 

We are smack dab in the middle of L.A. Beer Week and boy are my arms tired. Not that I just flew in or anything. Just kidding. That’s the kind of joke I tell when I’m all happy and hopped up on beer. Which I’m not, though I was on Saturday during the Kick-off Event in Downtown L.A.

 

 

There were well over 100 brewers in attendance and Mister and I intended to do our hospitable best to visit almost if not all of them. It was a hot day, and we were feeling it. We took the train downtown, so that neither of us would have to stay sober and drive. And by neither of us, I mean me. Because y’all, 99.9% of the time, I am the designated driver. So hallelujah! I got to imbibe.

 

 

And imbibe I did. I made a beeline for the Almanac Beer Company tent, as they’re one of my favorite producers of sour beer. I was not disappointed, and may have gone back for another taste. Or two.

 

 

Mister had read about Ladyface Ale and that was another of our first stops. It was also another tent we hit more than once. Their Flamberge was amazing and I absolutely adored it. Truth be told, there were loads of excellent local brewers in attendance and we did our best to try them all. Even though Mister took photos of the beer taps we enjoyed the most, I only managed to mentally hang on to a few examples. I should blame the beer, but I don’t. Instead, I blame the heat.

 

 

Let me say again that it was hot. H.A.W.T. Both of us had slathered on the sun screen and we felt fairly prepared. I was drinking water and snacking here and there…

 

 

…so the beer wasn’t knocking me out or anything. But by the time our friends Cher and The Professor arrived at the event, I was fairly sated. But sometimes you’ve got to dig deep and show up for your mates. That’s how I felt anyway, so I kept on tasting. And watering. And snacking.

 

 

Another thing I did was treat the event as a true tasting, as in when I’d had enough of a particular sample (or simply didn’t care for it), I dumped my portion into one of the many swill buckets stationed around the scene. Honestly, I didn’t think much of that action until The Professor saw me doing it and nearly had a conniption fit. I’m fairly certain he suffered a small stroke when he witnessed perfectly good beer being thrown away.

 

 

After four hours of fabulous beer, it was time to go home. Cher and The Professor gave us a lift to the train station, then started their drive south. Mister and I boarded the train and talked about the day. Mister was working on figuring out how much we’d actually had to drink over the course of the event. For me, he guesstimated about a half-gallon. For himself, he doubled that. I told him he was crazy, because if I drank a half-gallon of beer I’d be so many sheets to the wind, I could be Martha Stewart’s linen closet.

 

 

Once we reached home, I started to think a bit differently. It was barely 5 o’clock and we were both struggling to stay awake. Even though we’d used sunscreen, the sun had broken through that barrier and had toasted various parts of our non-SPF-ed bodies. Too tired to cook, we ordered a pizza and put our feet up.

 

 

I was pretty pleased with L.A. Beer Week’s kick-off event. We had some amazing beers. The crowd was friendly and happy. All in all, it was a fabulous day. I can’t hardly wait for next year’s tasting.

 

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

 

 

Betro and Aniela told me about it, but I barely believed them. It just didn’t sound right. Or real. Or something. All I knew was I wasn’t buying it. So they stopped at a liquor store and showed me what’s what.

 

 

Oy vey. What is the world coming to, people? Are we so desperate to get our drank on while getting cavities that we’ll resort to this? If you’re planning to imbibe this Halloween weekend, please do so responsibly. With a beverage that doesn’t need a “Z” to make it cool. And with a modicum of decorum. I mean really…

 

Beer Am Be Good

 

 

Last night Mister was working late and I had hit the wall with working around the homie. Out of the blue, my friend Baker Jen called and we ended up talking for a couple of hours. During the conversation, I decided to have myself a beer. Because beer am be good, y’all. Anyhoo – while talking with Baker Jen, I thought of a few nice things about beer (and alcohol in general).

 

I swear more when I drink. Now friends – I can’t believe it’s possible for me to swear more, but apparently I can. As Baker Jen was there at the beginning of last night’s conversation – before I had a couple of pints – and at the end, she could tell you just how much more I can swear. True story.

 

Two nights ago – after a cocktail – I met Bob Blumer, a co-author of Pizza On The Grill. We talked a bit about his book and his technique, and then he told me how the latest edition includes recipes for gluten-free crust. I looked at him, paused a moment, then said, “I feel like the ‘Patrick Henry’ of bread: Give me gluten or give me death!” Later that night it occurred to me that that guy is going to totally steal that from me. Damn.

 

Baker Jen and I were talking about martinis. She is into something called a Paisley Martini, which I believe will be right up Mister’s alcoholic alley. I told her I’m a vodka martini gal. Dirty. Dirrrrty. And I’m not talking high-school-cheerleader dirty either. Porn-star dirty. Again, true story.

 

There was a lot more talk about drinking, and a lot more swearing (from me). At some point, Mister made it home and I knew it was time to call it an evening.

 

I had a lot of laughs with Baker Jen. We also talked a lot of life. She’s a good soul. A good gal. And a good friend. It’s pretty freakin’ awesome to know people who accept you for exactly who you are. Sober or not.

 

True story.

Where to Begin?

 

 

Okay. Deep breaths. Keep it together, Mikki…

 

I’ve been cleared to drank! Hallelujah! Hand to God! Preach on, brother alcohol!

 

Actually, I’ve been cleared to drink, not drank. I have to keep a rein on the old drinking pony. Don’t want to undo all the healthy good that’s been accomplished.

 

But for now, I’m wondering where to begin? The bar is my oyster!

Insert Sad Face Emoticon Here

 

 

 

Today I’m missing a Beer Clug meeting – the first of the New Year. Why am I missing said meeting? Because I’m still off hooch and will be until my bizarre malady is diagnosed.

 

I don’t want to make a bigger deal of it than it actually is, because not drinking isn’t the worst thing in the world. But I also don’t want to minimize the facts, either. I like hooch. I like drinking. Pairing a lovely wine with a delicious meal is a treat. Savoring a beautiful brew with friends is a blessing. Sipping a Porn-Star-Dirty Martini at a sleek bar is too cool for school.

 

But hey – I can bend an elbow with apple juice, and toast my friends at their meeting…

 

You don’t even have to say it. I know it’s nowhere near the same.

What Did We See? We Saw The Sea.

 

 

When someone you adore is turning 50 and says she wants to celebrate on a 3-day cruise to Ensenada, Mexico, what do you do? I mean, let’s say you’re not a cruise person. Let’s say you’re a stay-at-home in your hidey-hole person. Let’s say your gut is begging you to politely say no thank you. If you’re me, you ignore all that and put your waterproof big girl pants on and pony up for that danged cruise.

 

And that, friends, is how I ended up losing an entire day of my life. That’s right. 24 sweet, sweet hours – gone. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

 

 

So Gwendolyn put it out there that she wanted to celebrate her 50th at sea. My first response was to ask if I knew anyone going and could I room with them, as I assumed it was a chicks-only deal. She let me know that no, it wasn’t a ladies cruise and yes, Mister was welcome to come along. I asked him and he was game (if a bit reluctant), so we committed. Shortly after that we spoke to our fab gal-pal Tiffany and learned she hadn’t yet booked her own passage. Fearing she might miss the boat (literally), we invited her to room with us. She signed up and next thing we knew we were all driving to San Pedro to catch The Chug Love Boat.

 

 

Princess Cruises began in 1965 when this same route from Los Angeles to Ensenada was first sailed. In the scheme of things, I suppose it was a humble beginning. By the time “The Love Boat” was airing on the tellie, the cruise line was well-established. Their business has grown substantially, but they still maintain that original route and it’s a big seller. In fact, our trip sold out. That’s 2600 cruisers, y’all, and a whole lotta love.

 

Anyhoo, Mister, Tiffany and I boarded the Golden Princess last Friday afternoon. We checked into our stateroom and unpacked a bit. The first wrong thing we noticed was this: our cabin deck door wouldn’t lock. I suppose it wasn’t a big deal, but the divider between our cabin and our forward neighbor wasn’t secure either. So anyone could come and go into our stateroom as they pleased. Not cool. Our mini-fridge was broken, too, and a bit warm. We reported the 2 problems and were told maintenance would be on it – eventually – so we locked our valuables in the room safe and crossed our fingers that all our underwear would be there when we got back.

 

 

First up – there was the obligatory safety demo to go through. Then we moseyed back to our cabin. After a welcome-aboard-drink was brought to us by our room steward, Rohim, we headed off to find the birthday girl’s cabin and kick off our adventure. She, too, was rooming with a couple of friends. I’m not gonna lie here – they had obviously been celebrating a bit already (ahem). One chick, upon being introduced to me, said, “You dress like a Republican.” I looked at her and nodded. Oh yeah. This was going to be interesting.

 

 

Before long, San Pedro was being left behind as we headed out to sea. Some folks (most folks) hit the bar. Some did who knows what. My trio headed back to the room to ready for dinner. Then we met up with our group – which was steadily growing – and found the highest point on the ship. I knew some of the attendees and it was good to see those folks. I didn’t know everyone, true, and some of them would remain strangers. That’s the way the cookie crumbles. And that’s okay.

 

 

By dinnertime, we met in the main dining room and were there for quite a while.

 

 

By the time we headed over to the club for some late-night dancing, I knew I didn’t have it in me. I told Mister and Tiffany to hit the floor while I hit a bar stool. I didn’t feel bad. I just didn’t feel like dancing, which is odd because I love to dance. As I watched Mister and Tiffany enjoying the heck out of themselves, the woman seated next to me slurred in my ear, “You gozza helf me ow. I gos da all-you-can-drin pass but they won serf me anymo. You gozza buy me a drin.” I thought a few things about this woman. 1. Use your words. 2. It’s good to see there is an actual limit to how much a passenger will be served, even with an all-you-can-drink pass. And 3. She scared the hell out of me. She was way too close for comfort and I didn’t particularly care to smell her. So I did the right thing – I lied. “Oh! I don’t have a drink pass. I don’t drink! I’m sorry, I can’t help you!” She went on a bit more, but as I wasn’t giving in, she gave up and left. I never heard a “Man Overboard” alert, so she must’ve made it.

 

 

At some point Mister and Tiff were done dancing and I was done watching. The 3 of us sneaked out of the club and called it a night. Rohim had readied our room for us and we all went to sleep. Until 1:58 in the ayem, when a “First Responders – Report to Deck 5, Aft” announcement woke the whole danged ship. In our drowsy state, we weren’t quite able to interpret that message. I went to the head and tried to process what we’d heard. I was reading through the emergency info and looking for some sort of explanation there. I didn’t find anything, but I did realize something: I was dizzy. And I felt a little off. But as it was 2 in the friggin’ morning, I made my way back to bed, thinking I’d be fine after a night of sleep.

 

 

When morning rolled around, we woke to find our toilet wasn’t working. We called Rohim so that he could add that to the list (broken patio door, hot mini-fridge –  remember?). Then we dressed for a day on deck. Saturday of this cruise is an “at sea” day, which means the ship is either sailing in circles or taking the longest possible route to Ensenada. (It ain’t that far, friends.) Either way, it wasn’t looking good for me. After reaching the dining area and taking a seat, I knew I wasn’t gonna make it. I told Mister and Tiffany that I needed to get back to bed and that I’d really prefer it if they didn’t follow me. I knew it would do me no good if I was being watched, and I probably would have felt guilty about them missing a gorgeous day at sea. They finally agreed to let me go and I stood to leave. I had to grab the table, y’all. I was that messed up. And then I had to make a run for the ladies room. I barely made it. In my head, I was living a “Seinfeld” episode. I was thinking I haven’t thrown up since 2011. Oh well. New start-point on that counter.

 

I slowly made my way back to the cabin and fell into bed. After a while, Rohim came in to tidy the room. He told me the plumber hadn’t yet repaired the toilet. I asked him to move that up the old priority list, as I was definitely going to need that. I then told him to tidy around me and that if he needed to come back, to just use his key. When lunchtime rolled around, I was no better. I thought I should eat something, as I’d had nothing since the night before. I ordered a room service burger and headed out to find a working toilet. The maps of the danged ship were useless, y’all. I went to the nearest marked toilets and found – nothing. So I looked for the next nearest toilets. At this point, I was shaking and crying. It was all I could do to stand upright. People passed me and looked away. I have no idea how I appeared, and I didn’t care. I just needed a damn toilet. When I finally found one, I could hardly believe it. Sick as a dog, I used the facilities and made my way back to our room. The food arrived shortly after and I tried eating. It wasn’t taking. Mister and Tiff stopped in and I couldn’t get up. Mister said he thought I was more than seasick. He’s the one who suggested I’d picked up an ugly-ass case of food poisoning. But what did it matter? All I could do was ride it out. Realizing I was still alive and that there was nothing they could do for me, they grabbed a few things and went back to their day. The second the door closed behind them, my head hit the pillow.

 

But I wasn’t able to sleep. I was so upset about knowing I’d soon have to leave the cabin in search of a working toilet, I began crying once more. I believed Rohim was trying, but I couldn’t wait. So I grabbed the phone and pushed the button for the Purser’s Office. Through tears, I told the gentleman on the line that I was ill and desperately needed a working toilet. I said I didn’t care about the broken door, but please, please, please send someone to repair the toilet. Within about 10 minutes of that call, maintenance showed up and repaired the deck door’s lock. A short while after that, a plumber repaired the toilet. I then fell asleep.

 

By dinnertime, I thought I was coming out of it. So I got up and changed clothes. I immediately realized I was wrong and couldn’t possibly leave the cabin, so I crawled back into bed. Wearing fresh clothes. Mister and Tiff arrived and readied themselves for dinner. After a while, they headed out to meet the group. It was “portrait night” and we had all been instructed to wear something blue. The 2 of them looked great. I was wearing something blue, too. And it was getting wrinkled as I tried to sleep and heal.

 

Rohim came by for the night’s turn-down service and he was so sweet. “Oh, madame! You are not better? I am so sorry!” I don’t know why, but his kindness meant something. He didn’t know me and I didn’t know him. And honestly – his sincerity may have been an act. But in that moment – it mattered. After he finished readying the room for the night, I ordered another round of simple room service, thinking I needed to give food a go. This time when the food arrived, I was able to keep it down. And I felt better. Dizzy, but better.

 

 

At the end of the night, Mister and Tiffany quietly entered the room. I let them know I was awake and they began sharing details of everything I’d missed. We laughed and Tiffany said, “Hey! You’re smiling. You must be feeling better.” I thought about it and realized she was right. I was better. The 2 of them readied for bed and we all went to sleep. Even though I’d been in bed all day, I slept through the night. And I was grateful.

 

 

In the morning we woke in Ensenada. The shipping containers at the Mexican pier sort of made it look just like San Pedro – without the palm trees. I was feeling a bit antsy, as I’d spent the previous 24 hours in our room and needed to get some fresher air. The 3 of us dressed, left the ship and walked into town. The plan was to meet at Papas & Beer for lunch.

 

 

After touristing about as much as we could, we wound our way to the restaurant. We were a bit early, but all of us were hungry so we ordered. Pretty soon we saw our group trickling in. Though tables had been set up for us inside, the group asked to be seated outside – where smoking was allowed. Mister, Tiffany and I finished lunch and headed out to join the party.

 

 

Here’s some of what I saw at Papas & Beer. A woman on her knees, with an employee standing behind her and pouring alcohol down her upturned mouth while groping her breasts. Everyone around her just laughed and laughed and took photos. People with slurred speech yelling “Shoss!” Those people did indeed receive their shots and they slammed them. Hard. Quite a few folks had acquired keychains sporting little dude figures with extra-large penises. The owners of these new toys were simulating various sex acts for anyone who cared to watch. Or photograph. People were letting loose. They were (I hope) having a good time. Some were obnoxious as hell, but most were just happily drunk. There was singing, dancing, laughing. It was basically good. The birthday girl was smiling and I like to think she was happy. I wanted to hang with the crowd. Overall, they’re not a bad bunch. But you know how it goes – one bad apple… In my weakened state I simply couldn’t tolerate the obnoxious. I tried to let Mister and Tiffany enjoy themselves. I didn’t want to be a drag. But the truth was – even on dry land, I was struggling. I was still dizzy. I could keep food down (hallelujah!) but I was off. Way off. And at some point I told Mister I needed to head back. He and Tiff accompanied me and we slowly walked toward the ship.

 

Along the way we passed a fish market…

 

 

And a churro stand…

 

 

And a mobile library…

 

 

It was a nice walk. Back onboard, we seemed to be the first ones from our group to make it. The 3 of us decided to hit the hot tub, so we changed and headed to the deck. The water was lukewarm and the jets weren’t coming on. I found a deck attendant and asked for assistance. He came over and when nothing seemed to work, he said, “Oh. This is warm enough. And the jets – that’s normal.” Wha? I said, “So broken is normal?” The guy wouldn’t budge. He wouldn’t admit the “tepid tub” was broken and he couldn’t seem to do anything about it either. We gave up on the hot tub and instead helped Tiff with her Iggy Pop photography project.

 

 

We then decided to sit on the deck, to enjoy the setting sun. But – I swear to God – we couldn’t find 3 non-broken chairs. I’m not kidding. It was ludicrous, I know. But there we were – on the most broken boat in the Pacific. Tiffany and I were laughing so much about the ridiculousness of the situation, we cried. When the sun started going down, we were laughed out and getting cold. So we headed inside to ready for the final night’s dinner.

 

Our gang wasn’t scheduled to dine until 8, but we were hungry right then and there. So we decided to have dinner early, then meet everyone for dessert. Speaking for myself, I sorely needed that food and I’m so grateful Mister and Tiffany were down for the early-bird scene. By the time we joined the party, it was apparent a few others were too pooped to pop, as our numbers had dwindled. We hung out for a while then said our goodbyes. As we would be waking in San Pedro, CA, our goodbyes were for reals. The 3 of us made our way to our cabin, one last time, then we all packed up a bit and readied for bed. I was exhausted from the day and slept peacefully.

 

 

On Monday morning, the 3 of us took our bags and got the hell off that broken-down barge as fast as we could disembarked. As we walked to our car, I was so grateful for solid ground, I nearly kissed the pavement. But I didn’t. We loaded our bags in the boot and headed home in morning traffic. We had survived.

 

 

I am not a cruise person. I agreed to go on this trip because I love my friend and wanted to celebrate her birthday with her. Food poisoning and sea sickness had another plan for me, however. So in the end, I barely saw her. If you look at the official portrait of our group, I am absent. I’m in so few pictures from this trip, one would be hard-pressed to prove I was present. That doesn’t bother my vanity or ego. I couldn’t care less about whether or not I’m in the photos. But I do lament not spending time with my dear, sweet friend. But you know what? She was so busy, so engaged with those around her – she didn’t miss me. She wasn’t supposed to. If I’d never boarded the ship, it wouldn’t have mattered. My missing her? That’s another story.

 

I won’t be getting on another boat any time soon. (It took me 3 days on land to get over the dizzy spells, for cry-eye.) When and if I do, I can pretty much promise you it won’t be a Princess Cruise. Yes, certain crew members were darling. But so what? So is the girl at the corner coffee shop here at home. And as far as I can tell, she’s never sold me tainted goods. Her shop doors work perfectly. And though I’ve never once used the loo there, I’m guessing it’s functioning just fine. No – no more Princess Cruises for me. That Princess has a tarnished crown.