After our debacle in Venice, and with Holly in a rehab hospital back home for several weeks, we were blessed with visits from my two sons, their wives and kids, and from Holly’s son John and Holly’s sister Constance and her cousin Lonni.  Their company was wonderful, as was all their help with running an extended family.

Note: For some reason, my blog program insists on placing this post out of order.  It should have come after the post about our Venice debacle.

My first grandson, Felix, was born on July 8, 2016, while Holly and I were taking our honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean.  We got to see Felix for the first time at Nic and Alison’s place in New Haven in August, and then once again at Christmas at Tim and Megan’s.  So it was a big deal to host Felix and his parents at our place for two nights this April!  He is, as all his admirers say, adorable, always with a smile on his face. Wonderfully good-natured.  In addition to hanging out at our place, we took a walk around nearby Sherando Lake, ending up afterwards, via the rough remains of the old Howardsville Turnpike, at Blue Mountain Brewery. (It was Devils Backbone Brewery the next day.)



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Above: Preparing for Thanksgiving.  Tim and Megan arrived on Wednesday, and we had a Mediterranean-style fish soup (and a copious amount of wine) that evening.

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A walk on Thanksgiving morning; Megan with Lonni’s dogs, Gloria and Draco.

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Constance, Lonni and John joined us for a mid-afternoon dinner Thanksgiving day. Played the card game “Recipe” in the evening.

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The next morning, John and Tim joined me in taking “The Plunge Trail,” at Wintergreen, with great views of the Rockfish Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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And that afternoon, a hike along the Blue Ridge Railway Trail, followed by a visit to our friends Kathy and Tom (who shared his amazing collection of player pianos).

On Sunday afternoon, Holly and I checked out Wood Ridge Farm Brewery on the eastern side of Nelson County.  Situated on a functioning farm which produces all the ingredients that go into its beer, the brewery offers “dirt-to-glass beers, with all the ingredients (malts, grains, hops, yeasts, etc.) grown on site.  The brewery and tap room is rustic, with gorgeous views in all directions from the windows, porches, and decks.  I’d never had a “shandy” beer before, but we both particularly liked that one.  A nice relaxed ending to our lovely Thanksgiving weekend.

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Seventy sounds scarily old to me, but it was still nice for Nic, Alison, Tim, Megan, John, Calista, Cally, and Dan to join me to observe this milestone, like it or not, along with our neighbors Frank and Derek, and also, via Skype, Sissi and family in Germany.  As always, we ate royally and copiously, thanks to contributions by all….along with thirty-plus bottles of Monika Wood Memorial Beer.  Saturday, March 15 was a nice early-spring day, sandwiched between snowstorms.

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Below: the view Monday morningfrowny-face


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Today we bottled 48 bottles of Nic’s double IPA.  A week earlier, Nic had come out to siphon the contents of the original bucket (see previous post on this subject) into a glass container known as a carboy.  Today we (Nic, Alison, Eleanor and I) sanitized all the bottles, buckets, and instruments we would be working with, then added sugar to the beer to aid in carbonation, a process known as priming, and then siphoned the (currently flat) beer into bottles, and capped them.  Over the next two weeks, the sugar will interact with the yeast to create carbonation, the final stage in the beer-making process.

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Next day update: Labels!

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First Tasting Update (Feb. 28):


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Nic and Alison came out for the weekend, and we made our first batch of beer here.  (Both Nic and Tim have made beer elsewhere with friends before.)  This beer is the double IPA which Nic once made before; when he brought samples to the extended family here, everyone agreed it was one of the best beers they’d ever had.  Hence this attempt to repeat that success.

After a period of bitter cold, the weather was sunny and mild, and the chickens came by periodically to check on what was going on.  This remains a very difficult period for me, and so this exercise was a pleasant, though temporary, diversion…

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Actually, Saturday was just the beginning.  Our Grace Brewers Guild made a batch of English Brown Ale on Sunday afternoon.  So that’s 100 bottles of beer on the wall for the weekend!