Monday, July 25, 2011

things I learned from my summer vacation

  • When a light breeze is blowing over Lake Namekagon there's a certain time of day, maybe an hour after sunrise, when the sun clears the treeline and the whole lake is lit up in shimmering gold.  It was amazing to watch.
  • Wisconsin-based brewers South Shore and New Glarus both have pretty dang good English-style brown ales.  The New Glarus is slightly on the hoppy side for me, but pretty tasty nonetheless. My brother-in-law Jim also brought along a variety pack from Shiner, and I enjoyed a couple of darker beers from it.  The Angry Minnow Brewing Company's oatmeal stout was okay for washing down some lunch, but it was too insubstantial to drink by itself.
  • P. G. Wodehouse is a funny guy.  This is a widely known fact, but I finally got around to reading one of his books, A Damsel in Distress.  I'm still tickled pink that one of the major plot points  of the book is confusion over the difference between "an American" and "the American".  I'll probably read another Wodehouse soon.  My whatever-in-law Willie, a rather sophisticated fellow from New York, recommends The Code of the Woosters.  He says he read that one on a plane and laughed so long and hard everyone thought he was crazy.
  • During the twilight after sunset but before the sky is completely dark boats on the lake look like gliding black shadows, especially if the fools piloting them don't turn on any lights.
  • I thought I knew how to make a toasted cheese sandwich.  Turns out I really only knew how to make one in a nonstick pan.  That poor sandwich.
  • Everyone who recommended that I read the Brother Cadfael murder mysteries of Ellis Peters was right on the money.  I got the third book in the series at a library sale for a buck and it was a real joy to read.  Peters has some great insights into life in 12th century England.  Particularly I liked how two searches had to end early because the light at the end of the day was insufficient and also how everyone at the abbey marked time by the schedule of daily services (except for a single jarring reference to "ten o'clock").  But I'm not convinced that Welsh farmers of the period knew how to distill liquor,  which came up in passing.
  • Following running kids around to shoot a Cops parody results in footage that is much shakier than on the show.  Also, however much you are willing to run, kids can run much more.  I already knew that, but I hadn't been reminded in a while.