It Be Raining Salamanders Up In Here

I saw this fellow squidging ((This is the technical term used to describe the motion of salamanders. Really. Okay, so I might have made that up, but they totally squidge.)) across my patio the other night. This is the second salamander I have spotted out in the open in a month. Total number of salamanders I've spotted out in the open? Two. I'm sure this is a sign. Maybe it's a foreshadowing of the coming amphibian apocalypse? ((I for one welcome our new amphibious overlords.)) Or maybe I'm developing some sort of salamander spotting super power? In either case, it's too soon to tell. I'll be closely monitoring this cold blooded development with interest. As should we all, AS SHOULD WE ALL. ((You have been warned))

Drowning in a Sea of Hops and Malt

This Saturday we travelled down to Rogue Ale's hop farm in the middle of nowhere just outside of Independence, Oregon. The reason was to attend a little homebrewer event called Hop Madness. As far as I can tell, this has been happening for several years (although we only heard about it this year and it seems like it's still not a very well known event), but I think this was only the second time it was located at Rogue's farm.

Hop Madness is an annual celebration of the hop harvest. The event is open to homebrewers. The farm pulls a few hop vines from the field and folks are encouraged to grab some fresh hops either for brewing on site (they had an area set up for brewing) or to take home for later use. There was a homebrew contest, a bunch of raffle prizes, hop farm tours, hop games, and other merriment. Most folks camped out the night on the farm's front lawn, but we only spent the day.

We did end up brewing nice orange Belgian wit with about 7 ounces of wet Sterling hops (actually, Rogue's variety which they call Independent) over in the brew barn with a few other homebrewers. I'm very curious how it's going to turn out as this is the first

time we've used wet hops. I do know the was the wort was fantastic. We also came home with about 1.5 ounces of Rogue's variety of Cascades and 3 ounces of Sterlings. I've already dried, packaged and frozen these guys for later use.

And, if Hop Madness wasn't enough homebrewing goodness for one weekend, I also attended a more local homebrewing event in town Sunday evening, called Mashfest, as one of the guest brewers.

This event is orgainzed by the wonderful folks at my local brewing supply store, Bader Beer and Wine, as a way for folks to showcase their creations. I was the last one to get invited with just over a month to figure out what I was going to bring. Unfortunately (or fortunately), most of the concoctions we had bubbling would not be done in time for the event so I came up with a new recipe that could be finished in time.

What I ended up with was a Summer Ale with ginger, lemongrass and lime. I called it Shanghaied Summer Ale. The recipe can be found over at our homebrew site, Curiosity Brewing. There were a lot of fantastic brews offered up at the event. My favorites included a wonderful dopplebock, a lovely ginger saison, a delicious apricot/cranberry cider, and a tasty amarillo/citra double IPA. But, it turned out that Shanghaied was everyone's favorite and my recipe won both best overall and best for the experienced brewer category. Who knew, eh?

Phew... I think I need a long break from anything hoppy and malty. ;)

So, how was your weekend?

Photo: Stargazing

Above the Mountain We went up to Timberline on Mt. Hood on Aug. 6th amidst rumors of the Aurora Borealis being visible very far south. Alas, no northern lights that night (the photo is of the northern sky, of course the mountain could have been in the way, or too much light pollution), but the stars were quite lovely nonetheless. There were quite a few people gathered that night to gaze at the sky. Also, unexpected, were the number of nice telescopes setup for public viewing. The owners of these scopes were very friendly and more than happy to explain the various targets in their equipment. One fellow was even dressed as a wizard. The twelve year old me wanted to look into his telescope, exclaim "My God, it's full of stars!" then slink off into the night mumbling "They should have sent a poet." Perhaps next time.

Despite the lack of northern lights, I did find out how well my little compact handled long exposure. Not to shabby, although after post processing, I realized I should have kept the ISO set to 200 instead of bumping it up to 800 for most of the shots. Now I know and knowing IS half the battle, at least where star-field photography is concerned.

Also, in case you were wondering , the lights on the mountain are two snowcats grooming the runs for the morning (yes, there are still runs open in the middle of the summer). That's Cassiopeia in the lower right.   Edge of the Milky Way

I think that bright star near the center is Vega. Although, I could be wrong. My amateur astronomy skills could use some improvement. Also this last image is extra big for all your starry wallpaper needs.

So, did anyone catch the aura this past weekend?

2011 Photography Calendar

That's right, I finally got around to putting together a little calendar showcasing some of my favorite photos taken last year. Why only photos from last year? I had a hard enough time selecting so few of my favorites from just the past twelve months, the idea of choosing from my entire library threatened to cause my brain to seize up in indecision. Plus, I felt my photography had evolved to the point, over the past year, to be print worthy.

Therefore, without further ado, I present you with "Points of Interest 2011" available now at Lulu.com.

2011calendar

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.