Arts and Craft Beer

hermetic\her-MET-ik\
adjective 1: relating to or characterized by occultism or abstruseness : recondite
2a: airtight b: impervious to external influence c: recluse, solitary

This weekend, I was home in Delaware – the original cause for the visit being a bridal shower – but the weekend slowly enveloped into several visit with friends, good home-cooked dinners, and to my gleeful surprise, a visit to a local craft brewery in Greenville, Delaware. The spot was called Twin Lakes Brewery; the estate itself is little more than an old colonial house, a barn, and well, twin lakes. But right off the bat you could tell that this was a place full of life and growth – most notably so by the construction workers who were hammering and drilling on a structure adjacent to the bar, which we learned later would house a canning assembly line and outside fermentation tanks.

The first stop was the “tasting” room in the top level of the bar – comprised of an arrangement of worn-in, classic couches, fringy quilts, patterned pillows, a fireplace, and a bar – with two taps. That bar was serving two beers, the first being their signature beer – Greenville Pale Ale – which had a crisp, clean taste that was both refreshing and original. It paid the bills, our first guide explained. The second, a Stout, was deep and rich in color but surprising light on the palette, especially mine which was unaccustomed to dark beers.

Just as we were all beginning to question when the tour might start, it did. After searching for a spot to escape the noise of the construction, the CEO of Twin Lakes, Sam Hobbs, settled on narrow greenway between the pasture which housed the estate horse, Delicious, and the barn. Sam, who sported a Zermatt sweatshirt and sneakers, had quite a few things to say about filtered water vs. unfiltered water, and he shared with us bits of information about the landscape and the history of the Brandywine area. For example, the twin lakes on property were the site of Joe Biden’s first date. He explained the brands of beer in the Twin Lakes arsenal, and the fact that all of these beers are made to be drinkable. He himself drinks his first beer in 6 seconds, and then slows down a bit on his second, third, fourth…

We ventured inside the barn to witness the manufacturing process and observe silent ongoings in the hermetically sound tanks and canisters. Yeast CO2 bubbled cheerfully from a pipe into a bucket of water. Happy Yeast it was. I was completely charmed by the human quality of this place. It was quirky; it ran with a improvisational feel. We chomped on barley and rubbed hops into our hands to smell the aromas, all the while sipping stout from a growler the brewer carried along with us. Someone took my cup, but I didn’t care. By the end, albeit a stranger or a friend, we were all beer drinkers, and we’d get our fill of original, drinkable beer.

We settled back into the tasting room for a few more samples, and lingered until well after last call. We settled our checks and took along with us a few pint glasses and t-shirts, signs of a well-to-do experience. Fresh. Local. Delicious.

Loud Noises

unctuous\UNK-chuh-wus\
adjective
1a: fatty, oily b: smooth and greasy in texture or appearance
2: insincerely smooth in speech and manner

I officially desire to spoil someone else’s fun. Not in a nanny nanny boo boo kind of way. I just want to stop it. Plain and simple.

I have reason to believe that new people moved into the apartment right below mine, and that they are boys. They are the kind of boys who listen, repeatedly, to bands Dave Matthews Band and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and anomalous smells emanate from behind their door. They are also the kind of boys that have deep voices which painfully reverberate in the pipes of the radiator in my living room – but the voices only start around 10:30pm on the weekends. They usually leave around midnight, and return around 4:00am. Sometimes they throw up on the stairs and leave cans of beer in the corners.

I know they are most likely recent college grads, and I know that, just a few years ago, I was a recent college grad. I have been to plenty of parties like theirs in apartment buildings just like mine, all over the city. In fact, these parties have started at 10:30pm or later. And, normally, I’d like to think that this wouldn’t be a problem; I have/had more of a social agenda than staying in on Friday nights with my cat. However, today I am a recovering flu victim, and sleep is a precious, precious commodity.

I know I should just take a sleeping pill and put the issue to rest. But I don’t have any sleeping pills. And if I knew I wouldn’t be so unctuous in my manner when I visited their apartment to ask/yell/plead for them to stop their galavanting, well, I would have already “been there, done that.” I can’t join them.

Perhaps I could leave a passive aggressive note on the front door – “Dear Tenants who like to have Parties, You SUCK. Signed, Anonymous.” But that wouldn’t be very effective. It might even make them party more. Perhaps I could give them the likely dates that I might be “in for the night” so they could calendar their escapades around mine.

Ugh, maybe it’s time for a bottle of wine… a vintage for my aging spirit.

Dexter: Season 3: Disc 2

plaguey\PLAY-ghee\
adjective: causing irritation or annoyance : troublesome

I am about to miss class due to a head cold that has turned my noggin into what feels like an alien’s nest. It is quite possible that those little green characters from the Mucinex commercials are there too.

So, I figured that I would tune into the blog and share something that has been mulling over in my mind for the past few weeks. Dexter Season 3, Discs 2 – 4 have been in my Netflix queue for months – not just a few weeks (like the long wait FAQ says is the usual case) – but months. Well before the holidays. This plaguey wait is particularly frustrating due to the fact that Dexter Seasons 1 and 2 came and went without trouble. And to top it off, I have now watched Dexter Season 3, Disc 1 twice! This was only because I naively thought that, since it had been so long since I had seen an episode, a refresher course was needed.

The simple fact is, I cannot imagine that every single last DVD from Dexter Season 3, Discs 2-4 has been held hostage in people’s homes since December, or November – whenever that the “long wait” appeared in passive aggressive lower face red type in my queue next to the DVD titles. There are quite a few other TV shows with just as much appeal as Dexter waiting to be watched. Netflix says so, based on my like of violent crime dramas, they have suggested several. But I want Dexter.

I find it a bit disconcerting that there is actually a genre on Netflix labeled violent crime dramas and that, from my queue, they have gathered that I am into them. Yikes… I mean what is it about crime anyway? Violent crime that is… it seems like these types of shows are flooding the networks – Criminal Minds has to be one of the hand down creepiest, aggressive, gory shows on network television. And they are coming out with a spin-off.

If I can’t have Dexter, I will politely decline any other violent crime drama suggestions for that of a different nature; White Collar, thankfully, was readily available when I added it to the top of the queue. I just watched the first episode of season 1 at Annie’s the other night, and Matt Bomer’s blue eyes aside, the premise of the show was actually pretty captivating. Not to mention there was absolutely no bloodshed… just clean-cut, good-old con-man crime. Ah, gotta love it.

Jets

ossify\AH-suhfye\
verb 1: to become or change into bone or bony tissue
2: to become or make hardened or set in one’s ways

There comes a time when the stars align and the word of the day fits the bill perfectly. Yesterday, while the Jets were beating the Patriots – and making quite a few people happy – the word brought humor to our conversation that snuck in and around first downs, fumbles, and an interception (Tom Brady’s first since week six of the season).
That’s about all I can say about the game; a sentence or statistic more and I might risk over-exaggerating my knowledge. Football is entertainment. Whether the team playing is one you like, or don’t like, your toe will tap. You get wrapped in, and you want to jump up and down… be loud and passionate, like the hundreds and thousands of other fans watching. Or at least I do.
Yesterday there was a point in the game, when the Jets ossified their lead with another touchdown, and the team’s collective celebration (which included Rex Ryan shoving a camera man out of the way) was slowly smothered with a penalty. And while the NFL is particularly persnickety about remaining tactful, I cannot help but wonder why they didn’t just let them revel, for a small second or two, in bliss.
This reminds me about the other ways in which professional athletes celebrate (wrestling aside since I believe that the performance might be entirely celebratory). Tennis – the winners usually end up groveling in a painful splendor on the court. Golfers get a valedictory fist pump or two. But in football, and in basketball, there is celebration but it’s always abrupt, cut short, and somewhat stifled. Sometimes players get too excited about the celebratory gyration that they botch the play. Alas, the penalty is proven necessary.
At the end of the game – one of the Jets players did a backflip while many of them tottered around the field, arms up like the wings of, well, jets. Their limbs still didn’t find their sides as they faded into the darkness of the locker room. The Jets, as if they hadn’t already, stole the show.

Overture

This is my first blog of 2011 – and I am doing it from my very own, brand-new, MAC! It most certainly makes the top ten list of most beautiful possessions I own, and as my fingertips dance along the keys of the backlit keyboard I feel, almost, like a writer.
Speaking of almost being a writer, I received A’s in both of my classes last semester – a nice, neat 4.0. And, although I have a slight suspicion that grades don’t really matter in a masters’ program, I do find it overwhelmingly validating. Also, the fact that I didn’t have a major meltdown was truly a blessing.
So I am off to a pretty good start, and with my trusty and clever MacBook sidekick I will be unbeatable this year. I’ve already read a few New Yorkers, a Harpers, and tonight I’ll tune into this month’s issue of the Atlantic. Classes start January 25th.
I’m ready.

Tourism, a Causerie

cohesive\koh-HEE-siv\
adjective:exhibiting or producing a condition in which people or things are closely united

Last week I handed in two complete, cohesive essays. And since I have limited bandwith to write anything additionally creative, I think I’ll include the beginning pages of one of my essays, on tourism…

The Tourism Kaleidoscope

We continued on our journey, in Cappadocia, Turkey, winding around the tunnels of underground cities and awkwardly climbing into basalt rock caves like children playing politely on a jungle gym. Fatih, our tour guide, was always with us, never ahead or behind; he stuck with us like a friend and casually shared bits of information, instead of lecturing or teaching. I watched a few tourists from other groups gravitate toward his voice as he whispered local secrets; swells of jealously toward these trespassers rose within me. We strolled together through the open-air museum of Göreme, a Christian monastery turned national park and World Heritage Site, which contained more than 30 rock-carved churches and chapels and vibrant frescoes from the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries.

Treading in and out of the caves, I began to notice the relevance of my camera. When I would bring it to my eye, Fatih would stop and retreat to the background, avoiding the picture. It was there, in Göreme, that I decided I no longer wanted to be that tourist, the one who thrives on picture taking, thereby seeing an entire trip through a secondary lens, the one who relies on context, and the one who travels to a country to observe instead of experience.

Sometime before I got to Cappadocia, I became aware of the concept of tourism as something that had lost its panache. A tourist, “one that makes a tour for pleasure or culture,” sounds fashionable enough, but it carries a bit of baggage. Picture a group of “them,” folks touting pickpocket-proof carry-alls, wide-brimmed hats, camera lenses, pearly white sneakers and their eccentric, energetic leader carrying a neon-colored flag or balloon. Sunscreen spoils native aromas, and whimpering kids drag the soles of their sneakers along squeaky floors, leaving trails of rubbery goo. This scene is as immediate to the term tourist as a box of Kleenex is to the word tissue.

Today, you should be one of several things: a “traveler”, a “jetsetter”, a “globe-trotter”, a “trekker”, a “vacationer” or a “staycationer”, anything but a “tourist.” You should have “insider info” and avoid the typical spots that function as feeding frenzies for picture sharks. You should dress to fit in with the locals. If you are American, you should look un-American. You do not want to be one of the brainless sheep with a fanny pack. Accordingly to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), plenty of tourists roam the globe: “In 2009, travel for leisure, recreation and holidays accounted for just over half of all international tourist arrivals (446 million arrivals). Some 15% of international tourists reported travelling for business and professional purposes and another 27% travelled for specific purposes, such as visiting friends and relatives, religious reasons and pilgrimages, health treatment, etc.” This is a pastime here to stay.

Helter Skelter

Word of the day:
Skelton (noun): definition TBD

So today, Sunday, I am up early. It’s 9:30(am)! Since leaving New York on Tuesday evening, I have had one main objective: sleep. To date, my sleep count is 62 hours in 5 nights. This is awesome.

So back to today, up early, and I find myself in a quiet house. My parents are off to Lancaster, to drop my Grandmother off with my Uncle, and I am here, undisturbed for at least another hour. After making a pot of coffee, burning some bacon, and smoking up the house – I have decided to sit down and work on my final projects for grad school.

But, not until I check Facebook. And it so happens that, today, I needed to ace one of those word puzzles to get in, which is either a sign from above that I should just call it quits or a precautionary measure from the site, some level of security that I don’t really attempt to understand.

I needed to enter the following words: Skelton and Column. Column is easy, I’ve been spelling that since the third grade. Skelton is… not a word. Now, most people might not care but, being the scholar that I am, I stopped to think twice about why these people who make up these puzzles actually choose “words” that aren’t really words. They definitely wouldn’t win Scrabble. Do they want to keep people on their toes? Or just confuse them? Or play a joke on some poor innocent facebooker and make them feel helpless and brainless? (I know I am hinging on the slightly scary/pathetic conspiracy theory here, and no, I won’t go there.)

So I looked it up. (Thanks Google.) And “Skelton” really does actually exist:
– Skelton is a village and civil parish in the unitary authority of the City of York, in North Yorkshire England
– Representative Ike Skelton (D – MO)
– Burges High School standout quarterback, John Skelton
– The world’s greatest clown, Red Skelton

There we go. Mystery solved.

Spa Spotlight on Mexico

Thought I might share the recent writing I did for SpaFinder.com, after my trip to the beautiful Grand Velas Resort & Spa in Riviera Maya…

SpaFinder ClubSpa Blog

Spa Spotlight: Spa at Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort
By Dulcy Gregory November 23, 2010

Not your average water park…

Visiting the Spa at Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort in Cancun was like stepping into a spa amusement park — 89,000 square feet of pure spa bliss. After checking in, the group I was traveling with quickly changed into our bathing suits and headed to the hydrotherapy area for an hour-long Water Journey. With so many steps to this aqua circuit, it can be confusing: “Wait, is the steam first? Or the sauna? And what do I do in the ice room?”

Well, the attendants at Spa Grand Velas had it all figured out, as they led me from sauna…to experience shower…to steam room…to shower…to ice room…to mud room…and shower in one fluid sequence. The best parts were the little extras: the Evian mist bottles and cucumbers given before I entered the sauna, or the fact that I never once worried where to hang my bathrobe (it was always ready and waiting for me when I stepped out of a treatment room.) At the end of the circuit, I was led to the larger pool area, where I traveled through alternative hot and cold water currents (Kneipp therapy), snoozed on a bed of bubbles, and started working out those shoulder kinks in a jet stream or two. After I emerged from the large “vitality” pool, I was ushered into a warm whirlpool and served an invigorating lemon tea and dried fruits. Did I mention that I was minutes away from a four-hand massage?

Four hands are better than two…

After having one of the best hydrotherapy experiences of my spa days, I settled into the waiting area to prep for my Yaxche Mayan Experience Massage, a four-hand massage inspired by ancient Mayan traditions. My therapists led me to a beautiful treatment room, accented with earthy tones and golden light, with a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the jungle foliage of the outer spa area. I settled into a corner chair, and was given the customary foot ritual to begin my treatment. Following the footbath, one of the therapists asked me to choose from several oils indigenous to the Yucatan Peninsula… all earthy, lush aromas — I wanted to sample all three! As I stretched out onto the massage table, I was given a tiny chime to ring once I was ready for my treatment (a lovely touch). My therapists first blessed the room and asked for permission from the Mayan Gods to give this sacred treatment. As the Yaxche Mayan Experience Massage began, I noticed that the two therapists started from my feet and worked up my body; previous massages I’ve indulged in had always started from the neck down. The choreographed movements mimicked beings of the jungle: the serpent (long sweeping strokes), jaguar (a kneading motion), and eagle (light fluttering touches with fingertips). The use of special instruments, in tandem with the aromatherapy, filled my senses and enhanced my appreciation with this unique and historic tradition. The therapists’ hands moved in such synchronization, with such balanced pressure, that I wasn’t hyper aware as if there were two therapists working different sides of my body — all was in perfect harmony.

Dearest Blog…

I have neglected thee lately. While I progress, somewhat sparingly, on my final essay for workshop, which may or may not be a brilliant commentary on tourism and tourists, I have come across so many things to share!

…Like, for example, the prevalence of cheese in the news. The government now supports more cheese consumption (via dominos) and one lady's relationship with a piece of 150 year old generational triangle of cheese that she nows keeps in her freezer was a spotlight in Harpers. Which reminds me also of an experiment on a McDonald's happy meal, in which one woman left it "out in the open air" for 168 days only to find it relatively unchanged. This brings me to my question of what, exactly, is our society eating?

Also of note is my adventure to Mexico, which was relatively tame as far as gang war goes, except for a momentary panic at the airport where a few dudes tried to usher my sister and I into unnamed vans that were "definitely going to our resort." Rest assured we found our van, which was actually a Navigator, and once settled into our room at the property made many a flip video utilizing the unique features of the room. Who knew electronic blinds could be so entertaining!

And shall I close with a local adventure, which promised to be a genuine gender-balanced singles night at MOMA but proved instead to be a middle-aged-single-women's social hour? Followed by mechanical bull riding? Let's just say I counted myself out of that one.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Career Spotlight

renovate\REN-uh-vayt\
verb:to restore to a former better state (as by cleaning, repairing, or rebuilding)
:to restore to life, vigor, or activity : revive

Yesterday, after attending a reading by five poets from the women’s movement, I hailed a cab on 116th and Broadway. I got into a prius (yay, my favorite of cabs) and was whisked away crosstown, back to the Upper East Side. The middle-to-senior-aged driver had an amazing mustache and a pair of classic spectacles. The thing about the prius cabs, unlike others, is that there is a vast amount of open space that allows for conversation between driver and rider. Sometimes, this is not a good thing, but tonight I was feeling congenial.

“Did the Yankees finally win?” I asked.
“Yes, finally! About time they started winning.” The driver answered.

That got us started. Picking me up was almost like Déjà vu, he explained. Just an hour earlier he had stopped for a professor, who had been tied up in class, unable to watch the game, and asked the very same question about the game, hoping too, that the Yankees had renovated their talents. Continuing to chat, I found out that the pitcher from Texas, whose name slips my mind, is going to make $200 million next year, that the cab driver teaches dancing lessons – more specifically international folk dance in Central Park – as his primary career, that a Gemini’s best match is really a Gemini, and that he thinks I should either work/write for the President or become a diplomat.

I really liked this guy! I told him that yes, I actually did contemplate at one time or another becoming a diplomat because “diplomatic” is one of the words that people use to describe me most often. He also said I was a polished conversationalist, which would surprise many people (including my Mother and Father, who had recategorized my communication skills as “Dulcy Speak” years ago).

So, according to the fab Mr. Cab man, I need to call up some diplomats and start talking to them about how it all works, get some ideas, and start making my way. It was about that time that we found ourselves on 88th street behind a posse of ConEd trucks. Not going anywhere. “Hey, Buddy,” someone shouted, “Didn’t you see the road closed sign back there?”

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