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February 3, 2018 / gem

coalstovesink 2018

The namesake

Another year and another visit to the Coalstovesink. Some things change, most don’t…and I like it that way. One thing I noticed is the little details that show someone cares…notice the small bottles of shampoo, conditioner and cream next to the shaving mirror on top of the Coalstove Sink in the picture. If you’re a guest and need anything else then simply turn to the right and take a swig of some nectar of the gods…that would be Mount Gay Rum (extra old). It’s the little things that really matter.

We took a long walk along the river (par for the course) and then up to the new cemetery (new being a relative word given it was built two years ago). No headstones at the cemetery so it doesn’t spoil the beautiful panoramic views across the fields. Zane’s cemetery from the late 1800’s has tombstones in pieces. The weather was good and Zane spotted a bald eagle flying low along the river. He showed me the work of a family of beavers that took down trees 10″ in diameter simply to eat the top branch stems.

I noticed a sign on the road to Zane’s farm that says, “Don’t try to cross the river if the water is above the bridge”, certainly a keen statement of the obvious. Of course that situation would mean an increase in over thirty feet which is a phenomena worth viewing from a plane or helicopter because any sane person would flee before the rise. Zane confirmed the incredible accuracy of the water level measurement reporting process that measures river surge and calculates the specific time the river will reach the number of feet increase. This was confirmed many years ago when Zane awoke at 4:00 AM to mark the water level because that was projected to be the height of the water rise. Hours later the water level began its recession having reached the peak level at exactly the right time.

The walk was followed by a nice sandwich of ham & Swiss, peppers, lettuce and a dash of vinegar with the mayo. It was a nice touch on rewarding sandwich. So how come one always works up an appetite when on a farm?

Zane upgraded the network infrastructure to a mesh WiFi network using a ultra high frequency radio that worked flawlessly in the Cottage and main house. He also upgraded the security staff who escorted me to the Cottage and stood guard outside while I finished the NH-ISAC webinar on DMARC.

Guard dogs

Sophie stands guard

Mogli and Puck were on duty for a few hours and never left their post. They were joined by Sophie who took to the high ground and manned her station.

Later I was interrogated in the main house by Boot, a black cat that can tell time. Evidently he waits until exactly 6:00 pm every night before begging Zelda to give him a bowl of milk. True to form, he realized that Zelda went upstairs for her time to practice Swahili and play the guitar. At a few minutes to six, Boot sprinted up the stairs and began his own version of a Swahili meow until his thirst was quenched appropriately.

Boot (code name moon)

It was now officially the cocktail hour and to the bar we went without much of an idea of where we were going to start.

The bar

The annex

I noticed that the inventory turns over more rapidly than I thought and that the bar was literally spilling over to other parts of the family room. It was an impressive array of bottles and diversity with bottles in all sizes and shapes. I noticed one bottle of bitters (among what appeared to be hundreds) that was called Bittermens Hellfire. I’m sure it’s use was designed to make us better men in the end…a tall order for some of us.

Bittermens, by any other name

Mixology ensues

We started off with Lion’s tail, same as last year, largely due to the allspice dram that reminds us of being warm inside on a cold wintery night with the aroma of clove and nutmeg. We then joined Zelda with an Old 48 that was delectable.

This put us in the right frame of mind to prepare dinner. I should probably explain that preparing dinner is largely about watching Zane prepare dinner and every now and again he thinks of a minor task for me commensurate with my limited culinary skills. This particular meal he asked me to stir the sauce in the skillet after the porterhouse cuts were cooked in it. The source was an unnamed cow that was a local and continues to give. Zelda made a salad with fresh ingredients with some Gorgonzola salad dressing that was wonderful. My first task was to grind fresh black pepper with a mortar and pestle, and the aroma of the pepper triggered my taste buds increasing my appetite and anticipation for a great meal.

The meal was superb with some guilty pleasure in using my bread to soak up all the sauce left on my plate. Guilty because I don’t eat bread anymore but could not resist the urge to have several pieces with the meal. We enjoyed a Malbec that paired nicely with the steak and tickled our throats Bodega Catena Zapata to be specific, one of the most established producers of Malbec in the world.

After dinner it was back to the bar for a combination of political discussion (pretty depressing these days) and additional cocktails. The apocalyptic character of political discourse near our nation’s capital is getting too depressing and the need for medication that only Zane’s bar and his hands can create. This led to some additive Research & Development with a drink created last year and appropriately named, Fuck Chance (evidently our creative drink naming capability took a round off last year). Zelda came up with the suggestion of adding a little honey to the concoction and this made the second round substantially better. It didn’t make the name of the drink any better, so perhaps next year, we can name something properly.

I had to leave early the next morning to catch a flight so I made a mental note to do my best to get some fresh eggs for breakfast next year. Another wonderful visit to the Coal Stove Sink Cottage.

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