Archive for the ‘Beer’ Category

I Came to Ireland to Meet You

 

I pulled my sweater tight as Joey and I walked the dark, narrow streets looking for a place to grab a pint. Thirty (or turty if you’re using the Irish accent) hours without sleep but I made it to Ireland: the first European country to call me in with its joviality, magic and fierce loyalty.

We passed the Kiely Bar and laughter exploded from inside. It was the sound that I had come for and it caught my fancy

like a faery to a fire ring. But shyness overtook me and we kept walking. I looked back at the laughing man painted on the side of the large brick building and felt a tug as my heart and soul wanted inside. The cold, wet wind blasted and a light rain fell as we circled the streets of Trim, County Meath. We came round again to the Kiely’s Bar and the mirth tumbled out as a couple exited and shouted back to the locals inside.

I didn’t hesitate this time but pushed open the door and entered the small pub where about five guys of varying ages stood at the bar. The crack of a pool game resounded from the back of the house. Joey ordered a Guinness for me and a Smithwicks for himself. I left for the toilet (Irish word for bathroom) – and delighted at how the aging floor dipped quite steeply – a taller person would have to be careful not to bash their head on the lintel.

When I returned to the bar, a behemoth of a guy had his arm slung over Joey, my quiet, mountain man. “Do you like to sing?” our new friend asked. I laughed.

“You’ll have to forgive my brother Mark here. I’m George,” A smaller version of the good Irish man leaned over to shake our hands. “Mark thinks it’s his job to make everyone feel welcomed to Ireland.”

“That’s right.” Mark grabbed the Smithwicks out of Joey’s hand, slammed it down on the bar and held up a full pint of Guinness. “Don’t care if you like it or not, mate. You’re drinking Guinness as long as you’re in Ireland. Not that fucking Smithwicks.” He stuck a cigarette in his mouth and waved at us to follow him with Joey’s new beer. “Come on then, I need a cigarette.”

Joey smiled at me and laughing we followed the pied piper with the Guinness in hand to a large outside patio. James with the pointy chin, hook nose and missing teeth where the perpetual cigarette dangled and Kilkenny Ed, a man with a genuine smile and honest eyes, joined us. For some strange reason the cigarette smoke didn’t bother me as we huddled around a bar table.

 

“It’s black going in,” Mark held up a beer for a toast. “And black coming out. Sláinte!”

“Sláinte!” We chorused the Irish salute to your health.

“Do you sing?” Mark asked again.

Joey shook his head no.

“You will,” Mark put a hand to his chest and belted out an Irish tune, more like a story and with his round face and open blue eyes, Mark became a modern-day, drunk, affable bard.

George beat his cigarette lighter against his beer glass as if it were a bodhran. “We used to have a shite band. But it was the craic!”

After a few more tunes and a lot more Guinness, paid for by the locals, we told the boys of our travels while in their country. “Ask anyone about Mark Watson when you get to Aran Islands and they’ll know him. And when you’re in Galway go to Mc Cambridges and ask for Tara, that’s Kilkenny Ed’s daughter.” Kilkenny Ed smiled broadly and said something in a strong accent I couldn’t understand but tried intently to decipher. “I love how she’s trying to understand, Ed. But not even I know what he’s saying most times,” George said affectionately to Joey. The Irish men had this respect for our relationship not often seen in America. “The Kilkenny cats wouldn’t fight with us, but we like Ed okay here. Everyone loves Ed. We’ll be highly insulted if you don’t say hello to his daughter.”

I wrote the information down on a napkin certain I wouldn’t remember the details in the morning. James wrote Souvenir from Kiely’s Bar, Trim on a napkin and handed it to me laughing. Kilkenny Ed recited his wisdom several times which I took down but still don’t know if I truly got it right: Always nice for nice, because you can’t take it and you can’t sell it, to a fault.

Mark grabbed hold of Joey’s long, goat-like beard and gave it a tug. “I’m not gay or anything, but I just had to do that. Come on now, what song will you sing with me?”

“Whiskey in the Jar!” I shouted. I had taken Joey to enough pubs and festivals stateside to know he had heard this song a few times.

Mark nodded and we all began to sing. Even Joey.

“What brought you all to Ireland?” George asked when the song was over.

“I came to meet you,” I replied.

Between me leaning forward and my eager brown, Bambi eyes as wide and round as a deep well, my answer may have been too much. Brothers Mark and George Watson brushed me off like I was a little crazy, and James shook his head. But Kilkenny Ed looked at me sideways with his bright blue eyes, mumbled something endearing I couldn’t make out, then he lifted me in a bear hug clear off my feet. And I knew he understood.

 

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June Lake Brewing: The Brewery the Community Built

jlb-image-4Giving Back is the name of this game. Not just in December, but all year. Sarah & Justin Walsh of June Lake Brewing (JLB) understand this.

I grew up skiing June Lake Mountain so it was a great pleasure to interview the Walshes and discover why I love their beer so much! Yes, it’s hop-forward. I prefer the dank, sharp, crispness of Lil’ Walker IPA. It’s also because of the clear, sweet mountain water. And yet perhaps I think the most important ingredient is community.

Avid homebrewers who gained additional experience at San Diego breweries, Sarah and Justin enlisted their friends, who volunteered their time and energy to help build JLB with payment of beer or equity and the promise that any paying jobs would be reserved for residents of June Lake. They all stood behind an unwavering mission statement: 1. Make Super Awesome Beer™ (a term they have actually trademarked), 2. Give back to our community, 3. Get people outside.

“We had hundreds of hours volunteered by our friends and family to make JLB a reality,” Sarah recalls. “We’re the brewery the community built, we just happened to be the ones that organized and motivated everyone to do it.”

0509150735bJLB’s beer is the conduit to creating strong community and getting people outside. They volunteer and organize the summer Village Championship Downhill (mountain bike) Series and help with the annual June Lake Autumn Festival. JLB donates swag to over 21-year-old amateur athletes, gives beer to local, well-run non-profit organizations and provides topo maps and suggested day hikes pinned to the door. Open 365 days a year, JLB’s tasting room is as down-to-earth and authentic as its owner (Sarah) and head brew master (Justin). Professional and friendly outdoor athletes behind the bar easily share stories and tips on some of the best trails for snowboarding, hiking or rock climbing. Just across the parking lot from JLB, their friend Rena McCullough runs Ohanas395, a food truck serving up Hawaiian-style soul food that pairs perfectly with their brew.

1227151117a-2-21I love that if you want this exceptional beer, you’ll have to travel to 7,654-feet to get it.  The Walshes live by the most hard-fought, high-margin, localized business models for breweries: the tasting room model.

“Given our size and dedication to providing Super Awesome Beer™ we’re focused on a micro regional premium distribution strategy,” says Justin. “We are only in the best restaurants and finer tap houses within Mono County. Insisting on this quality ensures that our Super Awesome Beer™ will remain that way from the tank to the glass.  We refuse to distribute our beer outside our area because we would lose that control.  By limiting distribution to Mono County we’ve created a great reason for beer tourists to come visit!”

The snow is epic right now and there’s nothing better than a cold one after a day on the slopes. So, I’ll meet you in June Lake Village at JLB: the brewery the community built.

Room to be Wild Part I

Homework Assignment from Deep Storytelling and Archetypal Activism: Sketch out the issue to be addressed, describe how it has spoken to you imaginally, outline the response this calls for, and mention how such a project could transform you and the issue.

Derby Playhouse production of  A Midsummer Nights Dream.   ©Keith Pattison 5 Swinburne Place Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 6EA tel/fax 0191 2610884 mobile 07703 560871 vat no 605 6235 59 e mail:  mail@keithpattison.com

Derby Playhouse production of A Midsummer Nights Dream. ©Keith Pattison

PART 1

Our culture has lost its wildness. On the whole, we have lost the ability to feel the unfettered freedom and sense of belonging of a well-loved child. We have made nature dirty and a fearful place to be. And in doing so, we have squashed the most free-spirited aspects of our innate feral nature and in the same fell swoop cast ourselves outside of this veritable Garden of Eden. Without our wildness, it is difficult to access emotional honesty because such rawness must be contained as a rule of a dignified society. We cannot allow for the impulsive, unpredictable puckish

behavior inside, nor without. We condemn those who would take to wanderlust or spend days just being in naturally wild places. We have desecrated wild lands by covering them with asphalt and shopping malls and squeezed out the coyotes and rattlesnakes to make room for another subdivision. This sterile, linear civilization has become the mirror to our own taming and created a fear-based, trivial existence.

Comfort Creates Apathy

Millais_-_OpheliaWhen we strive for personal comfort and convenience in favor of connection and community we develop an apathetic indifference to the downstream effect of our actions. We pretend that we can cut the cords to our collective soul both from our ancestors and descendants. Even though this separation is imagined and not real, it is powerful enough to make it so that we cannot hear the voice in the wind or see the wisdom of the changing seasons as metaphors for spiritual awakening. We forget that the world is in constant communication with us and seek only to control and contain the mystery. We no longer know the phases of the moon or signs of impending rain or grow our own food. We no longer remember the power of one person or one act of positive thinking or connect to the value of tribe. The loss of our inner knowing that we belong to a loving, connected web of conscious souls in various forms whose lone purpose is to adamantly live the light of an individual spirit has plunged our society into a collective madness.

Dreams Come True at the Oregon Country Fair

Sometimes a highly anticipated experience can surpass keen hopes and dreams. Gratefully the Oregon Country Fair did just that. For nearly ten years I have heard of this free-spirited three-day extravaganza and let my imagination roll around, wondering what could make people sigh so contentedly when they thought of their days on the fairgrounds.

IMG_0640A road trip was in order. Our first stop was to visit my dear friend Ann in Upper Lake. We ate delicious calamari and wings and listened to jazz at the Blue Wing Saloon and perused her new store Upper Lake Mercantile where I traded my pottery for a beautiful recycled rug – perfect for camping… or should I say glamping.

IMG_0600Rambling through the Pacific Coastline we stayed next with Sageman Drums Familia – Kris, Jimmy, Althea and Finn in the Avenue of the Giants – surrounded by ancient redwood forests, ripe blackberries bushes and such amazing good friends and people.

IMG_0605We found Oregon campsites perfectly suited to our needs, bought local jam and rose quartz (definitely for glamping), ate local fish and chips, drank local beer and eased our way into Cascadia – a bioregion in Pacific Northwest, social movement and vision for a country of compatible, open, ecologically focused people. After five days on the road we set up camp at Elfen Wood campgrounds just 1,000 yards from Oregon Country Fair and took a nap in the hammock.

IMG_0678Oregon Country Fair invites you to be the kid running pell mell down a hill with your arms flapping or trying out cartwheels for the first time or dressing up like a cupcake or a tiger or a tree.FullSizeRender (7)

This buoyant open-hearted pulse vibrates through the entire grounds and forms a circle of protection for loving kindness. Its three days without hearing a sharp word spoken surrounded by hundreds of joyous people. Even or maybe especially the babies and kids emanate pure bliss and delight.

IMG_0675IMG_0674There is just so much to see and do with parades, meditation centers, yoga, sacred altars, vaudeville acts, belly dancers, ecology booths, tanning workshops and many stages and alcoves with performers of spoken word, ecstatic Kirtan, hip hop, classic violin, live drumming, rock, funk, on and on it went. The crafted work from pottery to jewelry to glasswork and metal work is so yummy, so dreamy. Joey absolutely spoiled me with treasures. And the food was so tasty and full of flavor.

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My absolute favorite moments: trading The Wicca Cookbook for a t-shirt from my inspiration Jen Delyth, creator of the iconic Celtic Tree of Life, and when a girl of 11 or so screamed with sheer delight for her friend who juggled 14 times – absolutely thrilled for her friend’s success. Where else do you find that kind of support – but at Fair.FullSizeRender (6)

Here you feel your bigness and truest oddball self and know deep acceptance. This full expression of being opens possibilities of how to be in everyday life. It’s so tangible, so real that all the drive home I imagined stepping into the Light of My Greatness all the way home and was greeted by an email inviting me to Faeland Festival in New York. That’s what I call an
answer from the Universe.

Rambling Roses

I had the best intentions of finishing that rambling road trip to Oregon awhile ago, but life, or perhaps I should say death had different plans for me. October is the end of the Celtic Year when the veil between the worlds is thinnest and if you pay attention you can feel the spirits on the other side as the darkest time of the year prevails. With my best friend dancing with cancer for the entire year, I was walking the line between Life and Death – living large for me and Melinda, so I could come home and sit on her couch with my now bald friend and tell her stories of my adventures, so listen up friend….

bad ass cancer babe20150922_122839Joey and I left our wooden haven for Crater Lake and picnicked by the deep blue waters. (I ate too much cheese). Then we headed for the quaint town of Bend to visit Deschuttes Brewery, where we met a lovely couple who told us we must visit the waterfalls in Silver Falls. silver-falls-state-park

By the way, you get FOUR FREE tasters at Deschuttes (my favorite is Fresh Squeezed). We walked behind the falls and I grazed my hand on the wet rock and moss covered railings, leaning over to feel the mist. Fairies live here – spirits on the other side of the veil.

We shot out to the coast and camped in Newport with a visit to Rogue Ales Pub House. The boats creaked in the harbor, as salty as the characters in the bar. And the kimchi crab sliders were insanely delicious!!

20150923_174715We got fresh oysters in Coos Bay to barbecue at the family wedding on cousin Elise’s Oshala Farm, where Joey met another 20 or so of my free-spirited, gypsy relatives and see how very close this apple stayed to her roots. We stayed in a tree house in Cave Junction, about 40 feet above the ground.

IMG954100Oh yes, Melinda, it was a grand time. A few weeks later I went with good friends  to the Hollywood Cemetery in celebration of Dia de los Muertos. It was then I got the first real awareness that you were not going to be with me much longer and next year, I would be dedicating an altar to you. I just about lost it. So I wrote you a letter and told you how close to the veil you felt and asked you to give me a sign so that when you were gone, I would know you were nearby. We forgot to do that.

Or maybe neither one of us wanted to admit what it meant to have a tumor so big. Or that when it popped or whatever it did that the poison was now filling up your entire body. We made plans to go on a double date to Big Bear the first week of December. But you were too sick, so Joey and I went alone. I beat Joey in bumper pool and wanted to have you there. You never met Joey.20160110_124811

Three days later you went into the hospital, two days later home to hospice and two days later you transitioned to the invisible realm, behind the veil. Ah, girl, I miss you. You passed the same day as my father five years ago and again I await El Nino to mirror the deluge of my tears. I hope you felt honored with the ceremony I created for you. The day after your transition is dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, who has always been a source of comfort to me, and who has offered signs of her omnipresence for 500 years.Virgin Guadalupe

I recently looked up our text messages

YOU: Thinking of you and all I love and how I want to spend the rest of my life showing my love

ME: I hope you take decades

YOU: That’s the plan.

I still feel you, girl. I know you are here and I will continue to share my adventures with you, my beloved friend.

A Long Walk Home

20150723_100417I’m climbing to the top of that mountain,” my daughter Ali said, her bright blue eyes staring fixedly at the peak. Inwardly I groaned, knowing that I would be hiking alongside her if that hike is what she wanted.

This specific peak would give us a breathtaking view of the Sierra Crest and a panorama of total wilderness without human habitation anywhere in sight.

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But I had been part way up that mountain and I knew it was daunting. Plus, I am in the process of deciding whether or not I like climbing mountains. I tend to find the thrill of talking about it afterwards with a beer at camp, more exciting than ascending or appreciating the view. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but in my defense…. we did have a bitchen camp spot.

Since we had driven fourteen miles into the back country and not backpacked, we had luxuries such as a hammock, an EZ Up, coolers with ice, a solar powered shower.. it felt like frills of a high end hotel that we had all to ourselves surrounded by trees and wild open spaces.Ali and I flowers

But as I don’t see my girl often enough and must cram all my loving into a very short time, I led the way to Funnel Lake along a flat dirt road, easy and peaceful. 20150722_181129Beginning at 10,300 feet elevation, the uphill trek starts with a steep incline just passed the lake through a forest of piñon pines. So although your lungs begin to burn within five minutes, at least there is shade. Then comes the fully exposed slog through the talus field, where rocks that you thought were stable give way and you slip, like a cartoon character running in place and have to catch yourself, sometimes grabbing a black sagebrush or tiny juniper for stability.

“We can do this!” Ali said with the determination of a marathoner. About this time I started calculating how much older I was than her and making excuses for lagging behind.

I was carrying the backpack when Ali’s water bottle dropped. I watched it tumble down the 20 feet I had just climbed, “No!” I cried pitifully. I scooted down the rocks to retrieve the bottle and ripped open the pocket of my pants. As we scaled the bigger rocks, I gained on Ali and the poor girl had a view of my tush for the remainder of the climb. Not the day to gIMG_0038o commando.IMG_0034

Finally, after a 1,400 ft climb in about three-quarters of mile, we bagged Crystal Peak. We then admitted how often we had thought about giving up but didn’t want to let the other one down and laughed. Both of us were determined the sign the little piece of paper Skyler had signed last month. With big smiles we headed downhill for our beers.Ali

Twenty-four years ago, I opted to move to Chicago with Ali’s dad after college graduation rather than travel solo to Europe. Ali had been born three days prior to our first date. I always attributed this decision to a strong desire to heal the karma circle of an absentee father – I wanted to make sure her daddy stuck around, unlike my own. But since my assessment was off, I always felt deep regret for not crossing the Atlantic in the summer of 1991.

As Ali and I toasted each other back at camp, I realized with the awareness of a thunderclap that I skipped out on Europe for a totally different reason. I was meant to have this daughter, this beautiful young woman in my life forever. We were fated for each other. It was her all along. Now we’re planning a trip to Spain.. not sure how many peaks we’ll bag, but we will find the perfect tapas bar. Maybe we’ll even get some writing in.

Ali & I MaskedAli and I sitting