Wednesday, December 24, 2014

'Twas the night before Christmas in Portland

Thought you might enjoy this poem, with slight revisions by yours truly. Merry Christmas!

A Visit from St. Nicholas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a grill mouse;
The stockings were hung by the liquor cabinet with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The LaRowe's were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of beer danced in their heads;
And Alethea in her 'kerchief, and Greg in his cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what the squirrels were up to now.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow (rare but it happened this year),
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick in search of beer.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the Irvington Housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in faux fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with environmentally friendly natural gas;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as snirt (= snow + dirt);
The stump of a joint he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
Source: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (Random House Inc., 1983)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

November Recap

I know I haven't done a great job over the past months in writing new content for this blog. Due to time constraints and overall writing demands from my work for the Oregon Beer Growler, in addition to my other job(s), it has been easier to just paste in stories I have written for the magazine. So, to make up for that lack of effort, I will share with you just a few of the many things I did in the month of November.

It started with a celebratory mood on 11/1 as I attended the wedding of two fun-loving friends. This was a nontraditional affair, starting at 2 p.m. and not ending until very late that evening. An open bar, potluck, entertainment-filled extravaganza which you can see some of the highlights of here. Oh, and perhaps the most unexpected part was the stripper!
Toasting our friends Pam and Scott at their wedding
My writing deadline is always around the 10th of the month, so I'm usually pretty busy with research, interviews, beer-related events, and yes, actually writing the week or so prior. The story I did for the December issue covers all of the breweries on the Oregon side of the Columbia River gorge near Hood River. Greg & I headed out there on 11/7-9 and visited seven breweries and one bottle shop in just over 24 hours. I did the other interview by phone as Logsdon had already closed their tasting room for the winter months. It was a great weekend, thanks to my friend Chuck Porter and all of the wonderful brewers who took the time out to show us around their breweries and share their awesome beer.
Greg is ready to dig into the Truffle Shuffle at Double Mountain Brewery
The weather changed drastically after we returned to Portland. The temperature dropped significantly on Tuesday 11/1 and we had very high wind that caused part of a tree to come down across 15th Ave. directly in front of Irvington House. Luckily no one was injured nor did we have any property damage, but I was up all night while the road was blocked, waiting for the power company to deal with the live wires on the street and lines dangling over our sidewalk. Then, a couple of days later, the forecast called for snow but we ended up with just ice accumulation. Overall it was a crazy month weather-wise with records broken or tied at both ends of the spectrum (high and low temperatures).
tree down across 15th Ave in front of Irvington House
That same week I hosted "my" writers group here at the house for a pre-holiday get-together. I always enjoy talking shop with them and hope that their success in writing and publishing books eventually rubs off on me. Speaking of, one of our members, Cindy Anderson, released the ninth edition of the Portland Happy Hour Guidebook last month. I researched the Beervana section again this year. All of the books my friends have published make great holiday gifts! Check out their websites:
I helped Cindy sell books at Ladies Night Out at Great Wine Buys on NE Broadway last week.
Greg and I headed out to wine country on 11/15 for Kelly Melillo's fortieth birthday party at Stoller Vineyards. Of course, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit a couple of new breweries along the way, including Chehalem Valley and Deception. We also did a tasting at the winery before heading over to the house that Kelly had rented out for the weekend. It was another fun day, with the added bonus of a live mariachi band AND a stripper at Kelly's party!
Happy Birthday, Kelly!
A few days later, it was time to celebrate Greg's 41st birthday. He had to work until late that day, so we met for dinner at Teote, then got his free beer at Rogue, and finished up the evening with a nightcap at The Eastburn (couldn't resist - every Tuesday is $2.50 pint night!).
Happy Birthday, Greg!
The following night I took the MAX all the way out to Clackamas to catch a ride with a friend to a Salem brewery for a Beverage Industry Networking Group meeting. This is always a great opportunity to meet fellow members of the local beer community who work in oft-forgotten supporting roles like real estate, insurance, finance and law.
I couldn't resist the opportunity to sample ALL of the beers at Vagabond Brewing in Salem.
Speaking of fun groups, I've also joined a travel bloggers meet-up group which, so far, just happens to get together at local brewpubs. I've already met some really great, interesting people who have traveled extensively and written about it. While the long-term travel bug hasn't quite sunk its teeth into me again just yet, I am inspired by my new friends' stories and plans for future travels.
with my new friends at our first Travel Bloggers Meet-up
As the month came to a close, Greg and I decorated for Christmas a bit earlier than usual as he booked a last minute trip to Nashville to visit his family and friends for a couple of weeks. He hasn't been home since March 2013 and the timing was good in several respects - for getting cheap flights mileage redemption-wise plus he can still work remotely and we knew I would once again be busy working on my latest magazine assignments.
Greg puts the finishing touches on his Christmas tree
So there you have it, a month in the life of Alethea. I didn't even mention the work I do here at Irvington House (cleaning the rental units, maintenance, concierge-type duties, etc.) nor did I include every last outing with friends or for "research" purposes. Maybe now you'll have a better understanding of why it's hard for me to find the creative energy to write a blog post! :)