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February 16, 2016 / noplasticshowers

2016 Winter Visit: Coal Stove Sink

I made my annual pilgrimage to the Coal Stone Sink recently and got a nice dose of winter on the Shenandoah River—with bitter cold and light snow on day 1 and torrents of freezing rain on day 2. Traveling by plane made little sense given the delays both ways on several of the relatively scarce wintery days so far this year, so I switched to the train on the return trip and left Union Station with a clear blue sky and mild temps. The cardinals feeding (thanks to Amy) will shine more brilliantly.

Cardinals in the snow

Cardinals in the snow

The Coal Stove Sink Itself

The Coal Stove Sink Itself

The Coal Stove Sink has a certain familiarity to it that is welcoming, and the walk up to the guest cottage is fun for both Puck and Mogli. Oh yeah, Mogli is a new addition to the resident clan and his spunk gives Puck a little more giddy-up in his step. Mogli is a Golden Retriever puppy (8 months old) who craves attention from any warm body but loves to engage Puck who often voices his annoyance in the form of grunts and growls while appreciating the entertainment value of the jostling.

Mogli on his Back

Mogli on his Back

Mogli has alpha dog tendencies but Puck is clearly the one in charge and the one who gets the best spot in front of the fire, the choice of dog toys and he takes up most of the bed in the guest house as my companion for the night. Mogli made several attempts to join us but couldn’t muster the courage to jump up on the bed with Puck sprawled out in the center. Mogli resigned himself to keeping watch on the snow turning to rain during the night.

No Room for Mogli: Puck Sprawl

No Room for Mogli: Puck Sprawl

Mogli on Lookout

Mogli on Lookout

Zane, Zelda and I got our work done in time for a wonderfully delicious blend of spices in a Bourbon cordial with Angostura bitters and fresh lime juice that provided warmth from the inside while the fire provided warmth on the outside. It’s called a Lion’s Tail and we had to have a second round given how delectable it was. We caught up on the recent kid’s exploits and adventures while reminiscing about years past and how our kids are. We waited to launch into our wonderfully divisive annual discussion of politics and given all of the uncertainty and entertainment of the Republican primary races we found ourselves in the unusual position of agreeing on our assessment of all of the candidates…they all suck.

However, the chicken dinner was masterfully prepared to perfection and the Hollandaise was perfect on the Brussel sprouts. The Italian red wine was rich with a smooth finish that paired nicely with both the chicken and the politics. We got a chance to see Ron Howard’s version of “The Art of a Deal” with Johnny Depp which was slightly more entertaining compared with the real thing. We then adjourned to the bar for after dinner drinks that included a new toy that required exercise….a device to carbonate cocktails using CO2 from stainless steel canisters loaded into the top of this stainless steel thermos device. It took two attempts mixing Laird’s Apple Brandy with a few other items poured over a solid sphere of ice made from another steel press designed specifically to make these unique orbs. It harkened back to the Orgasmitron from Woody Allen’s Sleeper. Once the right combination of canisters was mastered the result was a wonderful tickle of a cocktail with a touch of “smacked” mint (prepared by hand….literally).

A new Device at the Bar

A new Device at the Bar

I made it through another annual visit to Berryville although this visit was unique from years passed in that I never consumed a liberal…nor did we discuss liberals. There was no need given the dearth of conservative clowns on the red side and the socialist and the liar on the other. I did share my version of a “Hail Mary pass” with Gary (in Bloomberg potentially making a run as an independent) but the probability of Sanders continuing to increase the populist young voters in his camp as opposed to withering from the Clinton machinery to make room for Bloomy is unlikely. In any event Gary didn’t think it was likely. What is more likely is that next year we will both poke fun at the Inauguration on the next chapter of the Coal Stove Sink visit.

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