I counted the bottles

What I saw: the Bacon Provider bottling a batch of home-brewed beer

What I did beforehand: cleaned the dining room in anticipation of next week’s Act I of the Annual #Ragecook Festival:, known to most American people as “Thanksgiving”

What I wore: really dirty jeans, t-shirt with sad slogan about giving up, RBF

Who went with me: the dogs napped the whole darned day. At one point I took a bucket outside to rinse it with a hose and I let Captain follow me out and he took off running like an asshat. 

Why I saw this show: actually, I was finishing another batch of bread and had very little choice in sharing the kitchen

Where I sat: at the stupid counter in the kitchen, which must have been an innovative design feature in the 80s, jutting into the kitchen like a giant, inopportune letter “J,” but really it creates a bottleneck for the people trying to use the kitchen for actual cooking.


Things that were sad: just as sewing is mostly ironing, beer-making is mostly cleaning things.


Things that were funny: when The Graduate finished college, he wandered around the way new graduates do, arriving after a few months at the sensible idea that he should live in Brooklyn where his friends are. Simultaneous with his installation in an as-yet unfashionable and therefore still almost-affordable neighborhood, he and his roommate started making their own beer. I have other adult beer-making friends (because I know high school biology teachers), and I have sampled their best offerings politely, wondering privately at how anything so easily obtained at a store and so complicated and time-consuming to make at home would be something one would want to make at home. But then, over time, I was called upon to sample the home brewing efforts of the Graduate, each with the gruesome and hilarious names that seem essential to home brewing culture. And I found to my surprise that his beer was good.


By the time we installed ourselves permanently here in Bedhead Hills, the Graduate had turned his home brewing hobby into a regular event, and was developing the ability to improve on things and even replicate prior successful efforts. And by the time we were celebrating the Bacon Provider’s first birthday here in Mrs. Gardenwinkle’s 80s Museum, the Graduate had convinced me that we should give the Bacon Provider his own beer-making equipment. Mostly, I went along with it because it meant the Graduate would have a reason to visit. 


Our first beer-making efforts involved us to the extent that we got to stir or add hops; mostly we stood around watching. Our first beer was shockingly drinkable, and I thought it was always going to be like that. But we learned fast. Our second smells so chemically incorrect we have not bottled it. In fact, we can’t deal with it, and it sits in its five gallon glass carboy, glowering at us, neglected in the basement. Our third batch (a traditional British IPA we named Brexit) is good but flat, probably owing to a measuring error because we had to bottle it ourselves.

This batch, I guess it’s our fourth. It’s sour, because I like sour beer. I named it for the smiling emoji with the closed eyes and tongue sticking out. 


Things that were not funny: something leaked under the sink. The Bacon Provider had to take everything out and play plumber again. 

Something I ate: toast and soft-boiled eggs


What it is: home brewing is a time-consuming hobby requiring a lot of equipment that I can’t remember the names of, expensive ingredients, and specialized knowledge of water, yeast, grain, hops, and a bunch of science. Mostly, you have to clean up a lot.

Who should see it: members of the Church of Beer

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What I saw in the other room: good sunbeams 

The Landlords: Tree-Planting Mania

You never really see them together, and in fact, the Landlords often arrive in separate cars. There are two ways you know they have arrived: either because you hear the barking, barking or because you see the silver car careening down the hill, driving on the grass across the lawn. It’s a circuit, you see, and it is how He arrives at the property.  We are surrounded by trees on all sides, but there is a track He drives, in a predictable and bumpy loop, mostly just inside the trees, and in all weather, and at any time of day or night. She drives a white one and He drives a silver one. Hers is newer and in good repair. His is battered on both ends, and has bits held onto the body by wire and that special handyman stickum.
Where all our water went
They are of a retired age, but maybe they have professional responsibilities that keep them in the city during the week. They are professionals, and both have advanced degrees. The Landlords usually show up Thursday nights, and stay through Monday. I send the rent check to a nice address in The City, on the Upper West Side.  (You should know by now that “The City” is New York City, which is where we should be living now,  but are not. It is where we will be living in the fall.) The Landlords have a teeny-tiny apartment above the garage, next door to this, the large red barn house.  Everything I know about their building is from the weekend in October when we stole their firewood.  We have no garage privileges, no matter how much we are paying for this house.
Buckets and new trees
Since we moved in last September they have been around on the weekend every weekend, and they have gone from one barking, barking dog to two barking, barking dogs.  Having a Country Place is something people do to survive city living. Our town is an easy enough commute to The City, so is not a bad place to have a Country Place as long as you don’t need to actually be in The Country (because this is actually The Suburbs).  I think it must be a relief for the Landlords’ dogs to come to The Country so they can bark with impunity.  I wonder, though, if they produce the same barking, barking in The City. I also wonder if the second dog was obtained in an effort to improve the first one.
When they are not driving around the property, walking their barking, barking dogs or burning wood in their woodstove, the Landlords have a passion for planting trees. I cannot report on how many trees they have planted this spring, but they were very busy at it for a few weeks there, with new trees going in every day.  We did not pay very much attention to it until the Saturday when we were getting dressed to go to a dinner party and we did not have enough water pressure to take a shower. All of our water was going to a new tree, just south of our house. 
It felt like there was some urgency to the tree-planting mania, what with the hoses needing to be dragged around, buckets requiring stacking, moving, refilling and lining up, holes wanting digging and refilling, mulch having to be purchased and delivered and applied.  The silver car was hard at work all over the property. He was very busy.
Some of the new trees are snugged in next to the driveway at the top.  You cannot see our house from the road at all, owing to the shape of the hill more than the trees.  Now that these new little trees have been planted, it seems clear that there is a plan to put evergreens along the driveway from the top to the bottom. The driveway is a quarter mile long and the trees flank the topmost fifth of that quarter mile. The new pines are perhaps twelve feet from the more mature pines on the other side of the drive, and in just a few years will create a perfect, all-around scrub-brush system for scratching the sides and tops of all entering and exiting vehicles.
There is now a hose stretched from the building where they spend weekends in the teeny-tiny  apartment above the garage all the way up the quarter mile long driveway to reach the new trees. I drive over this hose twice in the morning when I take the 8th grader to school, twice if I go to the grocery store, twice if I go to the post office, and twice if I drop anyone at the train station, and twice if I pick anyone up at the train station. The hose has remained stretched along the driveway for weeks, and soon I will have squashed it flat from driving over it.
I never see or hear the Landlords leave. Sometimes a car remains behind, so it seems like they are still here. The absence of barking is a state of quiet akin to having no headache.