The Brew

I have friends who are brave, courageous, and bold…like Robin Hood they wear tights and shoot arrows into things. In many cases intentionally. But they harbour a dark secret…they all want to be moonshiners.

Not necessarily with corn liquor stills, shotguns, and rusty old trucks…they set their sights lower – they try to make booze from whatever is available and they try to do it in medieval ways. Sometimes they succeed.

I can’t tell you whether this is illegal, as our state has a welter of alcohol laws that have developed over time and so many people who cheerfully disregard them. It may be perfectly correct to make liqueur out of chicken feet provided you are a member of a religion that wears feather suits and clucks. And certainly there are beer stores that sell you the ingredients for home-brew beer quite legitimately and the only consequence you suffer is gas.

However, that’s commercial ingredients and known formulae…it gets more dangerous when people take recipes off the internet, consult someone’s Uncle Marko, or just look at a pile of vegetables about to rot and decide to wing it. The temptation to mash them up, add yeast, and bottle the result is satisfying to start with but becomes increasingly less so as the bottles detonate in the pantry.

It is generally a case of over-egging the pudding…or over filling and over nourishing the yeast. There is a reason distilling is done in big metal containers and far away from valuables…the same reason that they make gunpowder in small batches in wooden buildings.

The danger of fermentation and bottling over, the next hurdle is storage. Storage space for homemade booze falls into two categories; too cold or too hot. You are either going to end up with a bottled version of the city compost digester or Picatinny arsenal in a lightning storm. If you have bottled in glass the shrapnel damage will be spectacular, but even a PTFE bottle going off will get the neighbours out of their houses and the dogs barking.

Finally you will get to the day when you can taste the results. There may be far fewer bottles than when you started, and the economic results may make each one the equivalent of Dom Perignon ’22, but don’t expect to win gold medals. Most home-made liquor is best cut with fruit juice, soft drink, or motor oil. A good 20-40 weight should do it…I always liked to use Bardahl if the homebrew was particularly new.

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The Sucker Man

You see a new hell every day – the hatch opens and the creatures slither out. Sometimes you get to see the demons at work, as well.

Today at 9:30 our local infernal manifestation occurred. No pentangle, no candles, no sulphurous smoke. In fact the truck that arrived was quite clean and had a sign from the Melville City Council on the side. The driver hopped out of it, grabbed a metal hook, and summoned Beelzebub.

The truck was fitted with a vacuum cleaner and a big tank of water – I assume it was a holy water – and the chap proceeded to wash down the storm water drains in our street. Then when the things were awash with political promises and other horrors he used a giant hose from the back of the truck to suck the drain dry. I can only assume that there is a market for the sorts of things that went into that hose – I just pry that it is not in the fast food industry.

Noise? I assume we were hearing doomed screams of tortured souls. And it went on for an hour as he did all the drains in the street. I was crossing myself, lighting incense and candles, and making holy signs all the while, and I’m not religious…

As compensation, we now have the cleanest drains in the city. Just in time for the autumn rains and the next load of gunk.

 

The Dishes

Doing the dishes seems to have been the underlying theme through most of my life.

It was one of the first of the ” chores ” that was assigned to me as a kid – in exchange, I suppose, for my weekly allowance. This was never stinted, I might add, and I was as free to spend or save it as my understanding might dictate. But the dishes were always there.

They are still here. Two or three times daily there is a fill up of the basins – detergent in one and fresh in the other, and the results of four people cooking and eating are dealt with. I do not include the cat as a person – I am able to distinguish species – but the cat dishes get done as well.

In truth I should not complain.

a. If I am doing dishes it is because we have eaten. We had enough money to buy food, a stove to cook it on, and plates to bear it. Being fed is better than being hungry, even if you work afterwards as well as before.

b. We have dishes that can stand cleaning. The people who eat off paper plates or flimsy plastic dishes do themselves, the food, and the environment no good.

c. If it was really that onerous a task, we could buy a dishwashing machine. But we’ve never used one that was satisfactory and the addition of another complexity to life is unappetizing. Just scrub and wipe dry.

All this having been said, it is a pleasure sometimes to take a meal elsewhere – a hotel or restaurant – where the staff may pester for tips or to move you on, but they cannot compel you to the soapy water torture. It makes holiday eating a pleasure.

Lemon-flavoured With Real Lemon-type Fluid ( Reconstituted )

I sincerely wish that the food, drug, cleaning product, and motor oil trades had never heard of lemons. Because as soon as they became aware that the yellow fruit could be squeezed, crushed, ground, pulverized, or synthesized…they insisted on putting it in everything.

Everything.

I like a good lemonade. I like a lemon wedge squeezed over fried fish. Mrs. DeSouza’s Lemon Slice that she makes for the local P&C bake stall every election day is worth getting there early for. And voting for. It beats the Democracy Sausage all hollow.

But I do not wish to encounter the blasted fruit in every recipe, cleaning lotion, face cream, and suppository on the planet. It may be doing wonders for the Vitamin C level and the complexion, but the omnipresence of it eventually makes everything taste the same. And it is not like it makes everything taste Like Mrs. DeSouza’s baked goods – it makes everything taste like Vim Cleansing Creme for the bathroom tiles.

I am also dirty on fruit and herb-infused hand lotions or car deodorants. I want my car to smell of oil and petrol and I want my hands to smell of my car. I want my wife to smell like my wife – not pomegranates and tumbleweed. I married her when she smelled good and she still does as long as she doesn’t roll in the fruit and vegetable bin at Coles.

Note: I am prepared to tolerate a twist of lemon in a martini or manhattan cocktail but only in months that have a vowel in them.

Make A List

Despite what James Dean said about lists in ” Rebel Without A Cause ” – and wasn’t he the one to talk – they are a very good idea for people with either no time to spare or all the time in the world. Lists organise, monitor, and reward. You can live a happier life with lists:

a. Make a list last thing at night of what you wish to accomplish tomorrow.

b. Look at it – recognise that you are only fooling yourself – then cut it down to three do-able things.

c. Get up in the morning, consult the list and set about doing the three things.

Even if you are interrupted, go back to the list and do the three things before the end of the day. If your day ends at midnight with you collapsing in a heap on the floor, you’ll have time to dawdle. If it ends at 4:00 when you mix a cocktail, you’ll have to have been a bit zippier with the early part of the day.

You decide whether you’d like exhaustion or a cocktail and work accordingly.

d. Tick off the list. Really, tick it off on a sheet of paper and you’ll feel a glow of accomplishment. It will reinforce your will and make it easier to persevere next time.

e. Save the list. Whether it is saved in  paper form or on some electronic instrument, it means that you can go back at the end of the week, month, and year and see the vast number of things that you have accomplished. This will boost your morale no end. And you don’t need to depend upon anyone else’s approval or reward – you reward yourself.

f. Tomorrow is another day. Make tonight’s list.

Give It Away – Throw it away

Give it away…

a. To a good home.

b. If you haven’t used it for a year.

c. If you have more than one.

d. If someone needs it more than you do.

e. If you need the space it takes up.

f. If it has no sentimental value to you.

g. If it was a bad idea in the first place.

Throw it away…

a. If it was a bad idea in the first place and has not gotten better with time.

b. If it is broken and cannot be fixed economically.

c. If neither you nor anyone else needs it.

d. If it is dangerous.

e. If it is ugly and not likely to get prettier any time soon.

f. If keeping it would make you sad or angry.

g. If keeping it requires more and more money that is better used elsewhere.

There, that should clean out the shelves somewhat. Now look at the space where all that stuff used to be. It’s nice space, and there’s no rush to refill it with other stuff. Just keep it clear for a while and maybe you won’t have to fill it at all. Maybe your life can be full enough without other stuff.

 

 

 

The Little World – Scrooge McModeller Looks At the Empty Box

I am delighted to say that I have finished another 1:72 airplane kit. It came out pretty much the way I envisaged it and I did not make any major botch-ups. It will take its place in the collection and be duly photographed. All is well.

No it isn’t.

Scrooge McModeller here has just looked into the empty box and counted the number of extra parts still attached to the sprues – variant parts not needed for the aircraft type that was being built. Of course, they will be preserved for use in future projects, and may be glued onto a motor vehicle, ship, or dinosaur as future occasion demands. But that leaves the question of the sprues. Even if you carefully separate, catalogue, and store the useful bits there is still going to be nearly the weight of the finished model in discard sprues – plastic I paid for that is destined for the waste bin. The Scottish ancestors I do not have would have been aghast, if they had existed…

What can you do with the sprues? They are likely to be of wildly different colours and may even be of markedly different composition – at least it feels like that when you are knifing through the plastic. And they are nearly always awkward shapes and sizes – so they are unlikely to be structural parts for future large-scale pieces.

I did envisage cutting off the side pieces and using the long straight bits for paint mixing stick but found that the effort needed to trim them far outweighed the benefit – and the round-section sprue made a poor job of it in the paint bottles. I gather coffee stirring sticks wherever I go for that purpose.

I should be tempted to melt them down again and press them into a new shape if I knew how to heat them up safely and had moulds that would take them. I suspect that the liquidised polystyrene plastic would still not be very runny and that it would not be possible to just pour it into a mould like plaster or resin.

You understand my desire to reuse the sprues is not ecological concern at all – I regularly hunt dolphins with arsenic bullets now that the unicorns are gone – it is parsimony. I hate wasting something that was paid for. You might say that of the cardboard boxes that the kits come in, but I save these and cut them apart for building material and spray platforms so they get full use.

And frugal ideas from the readership would be greatly appreciated.