Sunday, June 6, 2021

Just Cigars

It's been a while since I added to these Musings. That's not because nothing's been happening. Or, truth be told, it's more like because nothing has been happening. When I'm not working, we've been doing just that — nothing.

Nothing, as in relaxing and enjoying the down time. Some of that has been necessitated by a long period of dull and wet weather. I skipped shooting last weekend for lack of desire to be running through water. Fortunately the screen porch is fit for other activities.

Rocky Patel Sun Grown Maduro, a humidor staple

Fratello DMV Maduro Selection (Maryland)

Fratello DMV Maduro Selection (Delaware)

Montecristo Open, a Cuban brought back
from Ireland a few years back

Liga Sun Grown Maduro

And that's the story.
There's more cigar content over at Instagram. I tend to be more active there. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Bluebirds at the Range

Last week I made a quick run to the outdoor range for a little stress release. While I enjoyed the time spent shooting, it wasn't the most interesting part of the outing. As I fired my first shots my electronic ear protection allowed me to hear the unmistakable chatter of a Bluebird behind me. I turned and saw this male Eastern Bluebird fluttering against the passenger side window of my vehicle. He seemed quite annoyed. 


As I watched, he would occasionally perch on the window ledge or the mirror. I could get pretty close to the car to watch before he flew off.


A few minutes later he was back. This time his interest focused on the driver side. His mate made an appearance as well. They both would fly around the car, before flying off together but returning again and again.


At times, their attention was focused on the windshield. Other visits they perched on the back window. I became fascinated by watching the antics of the pair.


I was at the range for a little over an hour. The curious, or upset (?) birds continued their visits the entire time. When it was time to leave, I was apprehensive about opening the back hatch to load my gear, not wanting the birds' curiosity to extend to inside the vehicle. I gathered all my belongings at the back the car and loaded quickly. As I packed up, I could see the male Bluebird watching from the windshield, perched on a wiper.


It was a very interesting encounter with these beautiful birds. However I did need to wash the car afterwards as the visitors had left a more than a few calling cards as a mementos.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Fratello Friday

And finally it was Friday, and I opted to make it a Fratello Friday by breaking into my box of Fratello DMV Maduro Selection cigars. I've been looking forward to trying them since I picked up the box last month. I selected a Virginia band for my first smoke from the box, then pouring some Angel's Envy bourbon I retired to the back porch.

The Fratello DMV series is a limited annual release from Fratello to honor the company's origins in the DC, Maryland, Virginia region. The December 2020 version features four different cigars; Delaware was added to the list a couple years ago. All the cigars for this release are 6 x 50 toros. The details of the blends are kept secret. While the binder and filler tobaccos are the same in all, four different maduro wrappers finish the cigars. In all, just 600 boxes were released.



I've long been a fan of Fratello, with a few of the original 2018 DMV Virginia and DC versions still holding a place of honor in my humidor. The torpedo shaped 2020 Virginia features a chocolate brown wrapper that is smooth and shiny. The initial draw was a little tighter than I prefer, but it soon loosened up. The cigar is medium bodied. The predominate flavors are wood, earth, with a touch of sweetness. A tiny bit of cedar crept in at the end. 




After the beautiful and warm spring weather last weekend, the past week was almost fall like, with cool air, and plenty of wind and rain. I eventually turned on the propane heaters just to take the edge off while I smoked. At one point the rain started and got heavy enough that I was getting some mist hitting me through the screen. However, I had the heaters situated just right, and opted to weather the storm, so to speak.

One aspect of the experience that stood out to me was the amazingly sharp burn line that held nearly the entire stick. I kept stopping to look at the cigar in wonder as the burn line was almost fake looking. Whether attributable to construction, happenstance, or a really lucky light, it was a sight to behold.




The previous years' "Virginia" vitolas featured a bolder flavor with more spice, while this version was more moderate, but certainly not mellow. I get bored quite quickly with really mild smokes, and this kept my interest. I enjoyed the stick down to the hot nub, finally risking one last puff that nearly burned lips and fingers.

I'm looking forward to enjoying the rest of the Maduro selections. I will pace my myself to not empty the box too soon, but I will certainly smoke rather than "collect" them.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Saturday Pleasures

Last Saturday began with more purge-related chores, this time focusing on the garage. Even though I've stuck to my vow made years ago that our cars would be parked in the garage, the space for them as gotten ever tighter. After several hours of work, we had made significant progress. I am happy to say we can easily walk around the vehicles now, and the cars' proximity sensors complain just a bit less when entering the space. 

After a run to the local Goodwill shop (not all the unneeded items are being disposed of) we stopped for a much anticipated lunch. We were looking forward to the advertised "Burger of the Week" at Harry's Alehouse. The tasty burger was topped with creamy Parmesan-garlic sauce, crispy onion rings, and bacon, all served on a potato roll. But the most exciting part was that our Marxist-leaning governor has "granted" permission for his subjects to dine while seated at a bar for the first time in over a year. 

An appetizer of fried pickles, the burger, and refreshing beverages, enjoyed at our favorite seats, all combined for an extremely pleasant afternoon. I went back to an old favorite, Bell's Two Hearted IPA for my libation.



Arriving home, we headed to the porch to listen to music and relax, where I enjoyed one of my favorite smokes. I've written about the Black Label Trading Company Bishops Blend a number of times in the past. I had smoked the last of my stash of the 2020 release, but I recently picked up the last of the remaining stock at my local shop, so I get to enjoy this one a few more times. And enjoy I did, right down to the still tasty nub.



At the end of the day, we had a welcome sense of accomplishment, and relief, at the progress made in our purge project. That joy was magnified by the sense of normality of enjoying some tasty beer and food, all free from arbitrary restrictions and senseless rules.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Chores and Rewards

This past week we embarked on a long overdue "purge" of unneeded and unused items our house. After 21 years here, there was just too much "stuff' accumulated. We don't intend on moving anytime soon, but there are ongoing renovations to make room for. We rented a 20 yard dumpster and set about decluttering. 

Each afternoon or evening during the week, we spent time hauling items from the basement, the garage, and the storage area under the deck. It's a remarkably satisfying, if exhausting, process. Each day ended with aching muscles, and more than a few cuts and scrapes. The major lifting is complete, and the next few days will involve only tossing in some odds and ends before the container is hauled away. 



On Friday evening, after what seemed an extra long week, I headed over to 1781 Brewing for an Oliva Cigar event at the Olde Towne Tobacconist Lounge. There I took advantage of the promotion and picked up a box of one of my favorites, as evidenced here, the Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial Torpedo



I'm excited to smoke these, even if I did have to change the shelf layout in my small humidor to squeeze in the box. Among the freebies with my purchase, was this Oliva Serie G box-pressed torpedo. I opted to smoke it right away while I enjoyed a pint of 1781 Brewing Washington's Hare Porter. The cigar features a Camaroon wrapper with Nicaraguan binder and filler. Despite the ever increasing winds churning up, the box-pressed cigar burned well. The medium bodied sweetness of the cigar worked well with the porter. 

Despite the evening starting out around 70°, the wind and sudden rain shower quickly dropped the temperature to the low 50° range. Too cold for my short sleeved short, so I called it an early evening.


The clean up work continued through the weekend and beyond. However, there was still time made for more fun treats before the work week begins again. More to come on that soon.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Friday, Cocktails, and a Fratello

By lunch on Friday afternoon, I had in my head already my desire for the evening wind down. I often look forward a cigar and drink to kick off the weekend, but for some reason on this day, I was hankering for something specific. After dinner, it came to be. 



There it is. One of my few remaining "vintage" Fratello DMV Virginia cigars from the 2018 debut and a classic Old Fashioned.

This evening's Old Fashioned was prepared with Maker's Mark Cask Strength Bourbon. I treated myself to two Luxardo cherries to go along with the slightly heavy-handed whiskey pour. Fortunately I remembered to make some "rocks" of ice during the week. 

The original Fratello DMV Virginia is one of my favorites. It has an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, an Ecuadorian binder and a blend of filler tobaccos from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and the USA. The 5 ½ x 52 stick is medium to full bodied with notes of roasted coffee, earth and some spice. After nearly 2 ½ years in the humidor, the wrapper still has a beautiful chocolate brown sheen. The flavors remain bold and stood up quite well to the strongly-flavored cocktail.



It's a little bitter sweet as a I watch my stock of the DMV Virginia dwindle. But, it sure is more enjoyable than just staring at them in the humidor.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

He is risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Happy Easter!
On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.
-- John 20:1-9

It's Easter, the fulfillment of Our Lord's promise of eternal life. Today marks the ultimate triumph of good over evil. The Resurrection confirms that our daily struggles are not for nought, that our final reward is eternal. Easter is our reminder to be hopeful, and vigilant, never surrendering to evil.

The Prince of Darkness is hard at work in this world. His minions do his bidding willingly, if naively, deceiving with false promises, and twisting the truth until evil is mistaken for good. The newly "woke" invoke his aid to create false guilt. Acquiescence to immorality is falsely promoted as "love and acceptance." All the while, morality and true love are deemed "hateful." Indeed, Satan's greatest trick is convincing the world that he doesn't exist. Through never ceasing attacks on our faith, attacks on our freedoms, attacks on the sanctity of life, we witness the battle against evil that continues still. 

Yet today, the empty tomb reminds us that there is hope. The promise of Easter gives us the strength to persevere. On this most glorious of days, we are reminded that we must continue to face oppression and persecution head on. We must not acquiesce or even compromise. Diluted or relabeled, evil is still evil.

Here's wishing you a blessed and joy-filled Easter. May the joy of the Resurrection remain in your life all year long.

Mass at the tomb of Jesus
The Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem
Photo by Colleen, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2021

Limbo

A 3:00 thought for Good Friday.
The ancient greyness shifted suddenly and thinned like mist upon the moors before a wind.

An old, old prophet lifted a shining face and said:

“He will be coming soon. The Son of God is dead; He died this afternoon.”

A murmurous excitement stirred all souls. They wondered if they dreamed

save one old man who seemed not even to have heard.

And Moses, standing, hushed them all to ask if any had a welcome song prepared.

If not, would David take the task?

And if they cared could not the three young children sing the Benedicite,

the canticle of praise they made when God kept them from perishing in the fiery blaze?

A breath of spring surprised them, stilling Moses’ words.

No one could speak, remembering the first fresh flowers, the little singing birds.

Still others thought of fields new ploughed or apple trees all blossom-boughed.

Or some, the way a dried bed fills with water laughing down green hills.

The fisherfolk dreamed of the foam on bright blue seas.

The one old man who had not stirred remembered home.

And there He was, splendid as the morning sun and fair as only God is fair.

And they, confused with joy, knelt to adore

Seeing that He wore five crimson stars He never had before.

No canticle at all was sung. None toned a psalm, or raised a greeting song,

A silent man alone of all that throng found tongue — not any other.

Close to His heart when the embrace was done, old Joseph said,

“How is Your Mother, How is Your Mother, Son?”
-- Sister Mary Ada