Monday, November 29, 2010

Funny Story

Umm, so you know how I said I had pictures but that I had to get them off the camera? Well, about that. I have a new camera, and it turns out that the numbering system repeats itself, and when you try to move pictures from the camera to the computer you have to be careful to not erase things. So yeah, I managed to erase almost all the pictures from our hike, and from last week's neat full moon, and the birds I was using to try out my telephoto lens. Sigh. Part of me wants to blame the technology, but it was all my fault, and it really isn't any different from the time(s) I accidentally exposed the film in my old camera. So I have re-learned a lesson I thought I had learned a long time ago. And you are deprived of all but a few pictures. Sigh again.

Let's Have Recess!

After a long holiday weekend, coming back to work is hard. Getting out of bed at my normal time is hard - it is warm, and cozy, and why in the world do I need to go to work?  Keeping awake after lunch is also hard.  So when I read this article about the benefits of recess for adults at work, I was in hearty agreement. Recess would be a great way to wake back up. I am not talking about a full work-out or anything - I, for one, have already done that (see - working out early in the morning smugness at play here). But a chance to get up, walk about the building or around the block without getting penalized or glared at would be so nice.

We did go hiking on Friday, and I do have pictures...they just aren't off the camera right now. Maybe by tomorrow?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Kirby Says Be Thankful

For raisins, boxes to hide in and play in, and sticks to chew on.

We are off for our annual post-Thanksgiving hike. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Little Rock Booze Tour Part Deux

After the great tour at Rock Town Distillery, the six of us headed over to Vino's Brewpub. They make really good pizza and calzones - you can even get an individual slice made to order. They do make their own beer, but I don't think any of us had it; Taine, George and I shared a pitcher of root beer that was their's, I think.

From Vino's, it was on to Diamond Bear Brewing, which is located in downtown Little Rock, only a few blocks from the capitol building (Governor Mike Beebe was feature prominently in a couple of pictures).

They have a little pub set up, and everyone who comes for a tour gets three wooden nickles to exchange for samples of beer. This was a big hit with the group. I don't actually like beer very much, so after a couple of sips of one sample, I gave the rest to Benjamin and switched to root beer. Their root beer is fantastic. They only sell it on-site in growlers or in kegs, which is a pity, because I would totally keep it in the fridge if I could get it in small bottles. As it is, I shall have to get a growler sometime for a root beer float party or something.

The tour guide pointed out that the company tries to be as environmentally friendly as it can, and to that end, many of the kegs and other equipment is recycled from other breweries.  The grain silo in the yard came from an Arkansas farmer who reportedly exchanged it for beer or something.  These kegs and some of the other equipment came from Seattle.

The white tube in the left of the picture is carrying ground up grain or hops from the grinder to the other room, where it is mixed with water and set to turn into beer. (At least, I think that's the story. I know the tube carries grain from the silo into this room then on to the next stage...).  You can see that the tour guide has a glass of beer in hand - he insisted it was bad luck to go on a brewery tour with an empty glass.

The big silver tanks are where the various beer varieties are made. They all have names: Nicole and Paris, Laverne and Shirley, Ginger and Mary Anne, and Bertha. There is a good chance the copper still at the distillery had a name too, but we didn't know to ask, and Phil didn't tell us. Ah well, next time we take the tour.

This bottling machine is from the 1950s, and was quite the contraption. It washed all the bottles, filled them with beer, then capped them. From there, workers take the bottles and put them in six packs and cartons. We didn't actually get to see it in action (I am sure there are health and safety rules against that), but it was fairly impressive anyway.

A glass of porter. Benjamin got to finish this one too.

And there you have it. The booze tour was a great success, and I would recommend both tours and Vino's to anyone who wants something to do on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon (Diamond Bear can also sell beer in six-packs on Sundays - a great rarity in Arkansas).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Little Rock Booze Tour, part 1

On Sunday Benjamin and I, along with Donovan, Angel, Taine and George, went on a booze tour that I arranged as a form of local tourism.  We started at Brandon's Rock Town Distillery, with a tour given by Phil Brandon - the founder and owner himself.  They make vodka, gin, and bourbon right near downtown Little Rock.

Bourbon casks, busy aging.
The tour started in the cask-aging room, where casks of bourbon were resting. Our new friend Phil told us all about what makes bourbon bourbon, and not just another kind of whiskey (it's the percent of corn, the amount of alcohol, and the brand new, charred barrels). All of the ingredients have been grown in Arkansas, and the casks were made by a cooper in Hot Springs.

The bourbon isn't going to be ready until January - so we will have to go back for another tour when it is ready.

Mmm, fermenting corn mash.
From the barrel room we moved into the still room. Before everything goes into the barrels, it goes into the still, but before that, the mash has to ferment.  You may notice that the big tub is uncovered - they don't really worry about contamination because all the impurities will be taken out through the distilling process, and alcohol is self-sterilizing, or something like that. (To get the details correctly, you will have to take the tour yourself).

And here is the still. It is a lovely, steampunky contraption made of copper and pipes and tubes. There was some mash inside, waiting to be strained (I think).  There were a lot of technical details about how gin and vodka are made that I don't want to put down because I will just get them wrong. Go on the tour to find out for yourself.

And then it is on to the bottling room, where the bottles are filled by hand, the labels hand written, the stoppers put on the bottles, and the bottles packed into boxes.  After the tour, Phil gave us all tastes of the vodka and gin, but because of the strange laws in Arkansas, he couldn't actually sell any bottles to us. I don't know much about either vodka or gin, but they both had really good flavors, We will be making a trip to the liquor store soon.  It was a great tour, and I would highly recommend it as a destination when you have family or friends to entertain.  The factory is close to the Heifer International building and the Clinton Presidential Center, so you could combine a couple of activities in one afternoon.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I got something!

I have actual content for this week, I promise, but first, since this blog is titled "An Archivist's Miscellania," I had to share this hilarious and oh-so-true little video with you. Without further ado: Why you shouldn't become an archivist.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I got nothing

Last weekend we were so busy I didn't have time to write. This weekend, I was so not busy that I don't have anything to write about. Our tennis lesson got postponed due to weather and a state tournament. We didn't have any parties or plays or other activities to go to. We took Miikka for some walks, I got groceries and baked cookies.

This week is only two days old, and I am ready for it to be over. I know the calendar says today is Tuesday, but the traffic said Monday, the patrons say Monday (well, not literally, but the way they are acting feels like a Monday), and the weather is cold and rainy, which might as well say Monday. Bah. Too bad I can't go home right this moment and snuggle up on the couch with Miikka and a good book...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Summer will never be the same again

Yesterday, Dave Niehaus passed away. He was the announcer for the Seattle Mariners for 34 years, and the voice of summer. I have been listening to him since childhood, through the bad years and the really bad years, and the good years, and the great years and back to the bad years. Right now, it feels like a favorite uncle has died, and I can't imagine what baseball will be like without Dave. I am not particularly a baseball fan, but I am a Mariners fan, and that is in large part due to Dave.

My dad and I would go to games in the Kingdome, each with our own headset and radio, so we could hear Dave's descriptions of the games. In 1994, when the season was shortened by a player's strike, Dave put together and broadcast an imaginary World Series game between Seattle and Atlanta. Even though I knew Seattle had to win, since it was our announcer doing it for us, I listened to that game as intently as if it was real.  I remember the first time I ever heard his grand slam call - "Get out the rye bread and the mustard Grandma, it's Grand Salami Time!" and how fans started lowering salami to the press box.

I'll miss you Dave. We all will. Thanks for all the memories.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Here, thanks to the Cooking Light website, is the recipe for the pumpkin ice cream I made over the weekend. Note that it does require 8 hours of cooling time in the fridge before you can actually make the ice cream in your machine.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)


  • 1 1/2  cups  1% low-fat milk, divided
  • 2  tablespoons  dark brown sugar
  • 2  large egg yolks
  • 1  (14-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground ginger
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  • 1  cup  canned pumpkin (I used pureed pumpkin from an actual pumpkin)
  • 1  (8-ounce) carton reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2  commercial biscotti, crumbled (about 3/4 cup) (I used ginger cookies instead)


Combine 1 cup 1% milk and brown sugar in a medium, heavy saucepan, and heat to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat.
Place egg yolks in a bowl. Gradually add hot milk mixture to egg yolks, stirring constantly with a whisk. Place mixture in pan. Cook over medium heat until mixture coats a metal spoon (about 4 minutes), stirring constantly. Drain custard through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids.
Combine 1/2 cup 1% milk, sweetened condensed milk, and next 5 ingredients (sweetened condensed milk through salt) in a medium bowl. Stir in pumpkin. Gradually add custard, stirring with a whisk. Cover and chill at least 8 hours.
Combine 1/2 cup pumpkin mixture and sour cream, stirring well with a whisk. Add sour cream mixture to chilled pumpkin mixture, and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture into freezer can of an ice-cream freezer, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.
Spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container; fold in crumbled biscotti. Cover and freeze 1 hour or until firm.

Taken from Kathryn Conrad, Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2002 (Have I really been holding on to this recipe for that long, never to have tried it before?! What was I thinking?!)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sometimes, quitting is the right thing to do

Last night, I quit Miikka's obedience class. We are half-way through the 8-week course, and I had just had enough.  What I wanted - more practice on self-control for Miikka, more practice on stay and down, and general better home behavior - was not what was on offer in the class we were in. Instead, it was focused on show ring obedience - staying for an infinitely long time with squeaky toys and treats being offered as distractions, heeling perfectly and sitting precisely parallel to my feet - none of which Miikka did well at, nor did I. To be fair, the class was what it claimed to be; however, the description on the website did not make clear just how much emphasis would be placed on show behavior.

So I quit. I have no intention of ever trying to show Miikka in obedience. If I even want to compete in anything ever, it would be in agility, and though we need certain obedience commands there, I don't have to worry quite so much about the eternal stay or the perfect parallel sit. After class, while explaining myself (without mentioning my objections to the assistant teacher - she was totally condescending and didn't even give me a chance to show what Miikka could do before she tried to "make" him do things, not a good idea with him - and the physical correctives applied to the dogs, and the pinch collar incident) the teacher suggested that I might want to try the Canine Good Citizen class instead. And indeed I might, and I might have signed up for it instead, if it was even mentioned on the website anywhere. I just checked, and it isn't mentioned anywhere except on the class application. Sigh. Anyway, the class coordinator suggested I audit a class in a week or so, and if I want to take that class next session, I could do it for free, as a make-up or retake.

I hate quitting anything. It isn't in my nature to give up on something, even when it would be better for me to do so. Taking that step last night was hard, but I know it is the right choice for both Miikka and me. I want my training time with Miikka to be fun and enjoyable, not flusterating (as one of the teachers put it last night). I also know that not every training session will be pleasant, but I am going to do the best I can.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weekend recap

Whew! That was a busy weekend. Normally, for us, a weekend with one planned activity is a lot; this weekend, we had somewhere to be three nights in a row, and our first tennis lesson on Saturday morning.

Friday night we went to see The Bacchae put on by the UCA theater department. It was interesting - we decided that they were trying to do a lot of different things, including adding some modern dance moves, projection screens, bilingual actresses, and that not all of them worked.  But it was fun to see, since Benjamin and I had both read the play in college.

Saturday morning was our first tennis lesson of 5.  A few weeks ago, there was a Groupon for $15 tennis lessons at a local tennis club, and since we have begun to play more tennis than racquetball, and since we have never had lessons, it seemed like a no-brainer. The class was 7 people, all of us coming because of the Groupon, and the coach was experience and personable.  I am looking forward to future classes - my swing is a mess, and my overhand serve is non-existent, so hopefully I will improve rapidly with some coaching.

Saturday evening was the cocktail party fundraiser for the Conway Shakespeare Theatre.  I did indeed wear the red shoes, which may have been a mistake, since I had to stand the entire evening. Ouch. Anyway, there were delicious desserts provided by local companies, and we got to see some friends and have a good time. Yay for Shakespeare! Oh yes, we also paid for our membership and got new t-shirts.

Sunday was mostly stay at home, but we did have dinner at a friend's house, pasta with homemade mushroom "meatballs" that were splendid, and homemade pumpkin ice cream.  I have had the recipe sitting in my recipes-to-try file for years, and finally decided the time had come. It was delicious. Try it for yourself. I dare you to just eat one small serving.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday favorites

For Friday this week, here are a few of my favorite things.
Swallow Spin skirt
  • Mnemosyne Designs shop on Etsy. They make beautiful, comfortable clothes. I have one of their skirts, and two of their blouses. If I had the means, I would have them make me an entire wardrobe.
  • Questionable Content: One of my favorite web comics.  The artist, Jeph Jacques, just published the first volume of collected comics, and I love reading.  Benjamin has decided that I am Faye, just without the tragic past and heavy drinking.
  • Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre: We have been to see every play they put on for the last two summer seasons.  Tomorrow night we will be attending their fall fund raising party.  A chance to dress up (probably with the red shoes), see some friends, and have a good time.
The common thread among all of these is that they are small business/local. Technically, Mnemosyne and QC aren't local to me, but they are handmade, and made in the USA, and I love supporting small businesses. Dealing with real people is so much better than trying to deal with a corporation or chain store.

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    A Pox on Both Their Houses

    Miikka says "Enough with all the politics. It is time to get me some cookies." I agree. Cookies = yes. Politics = no more! Almost none of the candidates or issues went the way I voted. At least we kept our Democrat governor.

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Mr. Meowster

    Meowster in full voice.
     One of Oliver's nicknames is Mr. Meowster. He likes the sound of his own voice, and he uses his voice a lot. He just starts, for no apparent reason, and continues until he goes back to his cat napping. Sometimes it is to let us know that the food bowl is empty, but mostly, it is just to let us know he is there, at least as far as we can tell.

    Mr. Meowster does not approve of paparazzi.
    He really wants to be with us in the evenings, when we are in the living room, and he really wants to go out on the deck and into the yard to eat grass. Miikka likes to chase Oliver, when he notices that Oliver is in the room. Too often, Meowster sabotages himself through his incessant meowing. If he would just stay quiet, Miikka would ignore him - I know this because on the rare occasions Oliver refrains, he is left unmolested. But Oliver is our kitty of very little brain, so he never quite makes the connection. Sigh.

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Remind me why we didn't buy a townhouse

    Between the two of us, Benjamin and I spent about 10 hours in the yard this weekend. Most of that time was spent raking and bagging oak leaves. The bagging is the worst part, because the black plastic bags don't stand up on their own, and it is hard to shovel leaves into them without a second pair of hands. For some reason, the home improvement stores around here only carry the paper bags in the spring, and if you go asking for them in the fall, the staff look at you like you have four arms (which you need for the plastic bags). You may remember that last year I bought a leaf blower/sucker that was supposed to speed up the process and reduce the number of bags we needed. It is a great blower. But it really sucks as a sucker. It clogs. It is slow. The bag release gets gummed up by ground up leaves, requiring two people to pull the darn thing apart. I eventually gave up and went with Benjamin's baleen whale approach to scooping up leaves. And of course, we will have to do this all over again at least one more time before all the trees are bare.

    At least the weather was nice.  The sun was out, and it got warm, but not too hot.  Miikka had fun helping on Saturday - biting the rake, running through leaf piles, escaping from the back yard when the gate was opened. But he also got to do some leisurely sun bathing.