Saturday, April 30, 2011

New Glarus Two Women: Our First Ever Joint Blog

Recognize these two? No, you say? Oh, that's just us, Sarah and Reem, out for some beers at the New Glarus Brewery on a beautiful, sunny day. If you've met us before, you probably know that we cause quite a scene wherever we go, and today was no different. In fact, we were such a hit today at the brewery that they created and named a beer after us! It's called, duh, Two Women. Two fine women, I might add!
We found ourselves in the Tasting Room of the New Glarus Brewery. As you can see, there were a lot of white people here.
Thanks for setting the stage, Reem. In the tasting room we each got a wrist band with 3 tickets attached, each for a "taste". Quite a deal - $3.50 for 3-3oz. glasses. And you get to keep the glass!
Our first sample was Cabin Fever, a honey Bock. It is brewed with Wisconsin barley along with European hops. I found it to be a light, crisp, pleasant lager. Reem noted, "The mouthfeel is nosy. I detect hints of honey and Bock."
Here we have Sarah looking adorable and knowledgeable, taking notes on the various beers we sampled.
And here's me, being a total jerk.
Like I said before, New Glarus Two Women. I imagine this is the moment at which the official brewers decided they needed to document this magnificent day by way of alcohol. Good choice, brewers!
Here we are 'sitting in our storm, drinking a toast to the slim chance of love's recovery'. Whoops, there may have been some Indigo Girls on at some point. Anyways, our next selection was Moon Man- a Pale Ale, and Fat Squirrel - a nut brown ale.
The Moon Man was delicious. New Glarus's description is funny - the "bold blend of five hops flirt obligingly with the smooth malty backside". But it's true!! Hey Sarah - THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!!!
I suppose I'm being pensive about this one. And enjoying its tasty citrus hops and well-balanced character.
There they are! Moon Man on the left, Fat Squirrel on the right.
Reem was not so much a fan of the Fat Squirrel. Me neither. Generally brown ales are a little boring to me. It had a strong caramel maltiness to it; and is described as having hazelnut notes.
But, as Reem wrote, "Sarah said all this stuff about hazelnuts and caramel. So I was expecting dessert. I was thusly surprised and disappointed to discover that it just tasted like beer."

Okay, so our last two were the Golden Ale: R & D Edition and the Wisconsin Belgian Red Cherry Ale. The Golden Ale was a limited edition, but you can get the cherry one anytime. Sarah wrote about the ale: "slightly strong, soap-y, spices." Well, at least I think she wrote that; her writing is atrocious! JK, guys. We're still BFF. Here's what I wrote: "It smells like one thing and tastes like a different thing. Also, I didn't think about soap until Sarah said 'soap,' so now all I can taste is soap. Thanks a lot, Sarah."
The cherry ale, on the other hand, was pretty delicious and completely non-soapy! Sarah's words: "Gorgeous. Red head. Cherries. Tart. Friendship." I couldn't agree more, Sarah! My words: "Now you're talkin'! Sarah is being a TOTAL nerd right now. Oh man."
After enjoying our samples we explored the brewery. They had bowls of hops and malts. One could smell and touch. Perhaps even taste, if one was to be that bold.
Reem smelling the nuggets of hop goodness.
The outside of the brewery is real pretty.
There was a beer store. We made some purchases.
There were also some funny signs up around the brewery. You know, about things like yeast. And there were some cute gentlemen working. We noticed that Sarah was really interested in the beers and I was really interested in the BOYS! Am I right, gals?!?!?!
Giant bottle cap! Wah Wah.
This is a true fact.
Overall, this was a fun visit to a fantastic Wisconsin brewery. And yes we scored the beers.

Sarah: Reem:
Cabin Fever: B Cabin Fever: Pass (at least it didn't fail)
Moon Man: A Moon Man: A+++
Fat Squirrel: B- Fat Squirrel: F-
Golden Ale: C Golden Ale: F-
WI Belgian Red: A+ WI Belgian Red: A++++

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Joy and Sorrow

I found this half-completed blog entry from a few weeks ago - I'd found myself in the throes of the craziness of Wisconsin politics and apparently jotted this down. I can't help but see the relevance to where I am - mentally, emotionally, physically - at this moment. Specifically the Joy and Sorrow part. The Prophet is one of my favorite books, and this is my favorite chapter. I really do believe it.

From 3/15/11
Has anybody else been feeling totally heightened lately? In so many ways. Like, tiny little things make me burst with happiness and joy. The sun was out an extra hour yesterday and I couldn't wipe the grin off my face. But the heartbreaking things - ugh, so heartbreaking. Everything is deeper than usual.

Things in Wisconsin have been just that: deeper. In my attempts to explain to non-Wisconsinites what's happening here, I doubt that I've been clearly articulating how intense it's been over the last 30 days. The good and positive things have been amazing, making me laugh hysterically while sitting in my car by myself at a red light. The opposite end of the spectrum has left me broken and weeping at times, feeling helpless and lost. It has all been so huge.

I hate politics. I really do. But when things like this happen, you can't help but be involved. You stop avoiding potentially volatile and confrontational conversations. Your neutrality and evenness shed away as you open your eyes and come alive. There is no more neutral or numb or medium. There is high and low everything, huge and giant everything.

I need to remind myself of the lesson behind the "Joy and Sorrow" chapter of The Prophet by Khalil Gibran: that one's joys can only be as deep as one's sorrows. That one is made from the other. That they are interchangeable.

Then a woman said, "Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow."

And he answered:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.

And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.

And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?

And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."

But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.

Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.

When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

-Khalil Gibran

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Respite in Austin

Thankful for music and animals and tons of coffee and love and beautiful friends. Wonderful, amazing friends.

Most pictures borrowed from fifty acorns.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Day I Will Remember

When so many of the days are heartbreaking and painful and unbelievable and helpless, maybe what you have to do at a time like this is remember a different day. And so, I choose to remember this one, just less than a year ago...

We drove from Madison to North Freedom, Wisconsin on a perfect day. Sunny, some clouds, cool enough, but the air was still warm. Windows open, listening to a mix of 80s hair metal at top volume. Your hand rested on the open window as you stared out, gazing at nothing, peaceful.

We spent the afternoon with scrap metal sculptures and caterpillars and a slight breeze. We examined metal birds made from musical instruments. We stood in a cage containing a giant and ancient cash register. We decided how much money we'd have to be paid to eat one of those fuzzy caterpillars. You said you'd do it for $50. We laughed so much.

We drove without a map or directions, somehow happening upon the ferry that took us across a tiny lake. We ate homemade ice cream that we bought from a stand on the side of the road and watched the water move gently beneath the boat.

We stayed in that evening, resting on the couch, and you were you for awhile and I was me and we were us, just us, like we'd been when we were kids, just tiny teenagers who knew nothing of our own troubles and traumas, who didn't care about anything but laughing and talking and being young and alive. For that day, we were back to who we'd been - there was no wrestling and there was no mental illness, just for that day. There was just you, and you were just Alex.

I have loved you with all of my heart since I was 17 years old, and I will always love you. This was not the world, this was not the life, that you were meant for. I will now just hope and pray that your head has calmed and your soul is resting. You are in my heart forever, Alex.