It’s got airplanes in it.

I found a bottle of Creme de Violette at the local booze-store and of course brought it home because I’d seen, somewhere, a cocktail recipe that called for it. Creme de Violette was discontinued somewhere back in the 60s, and recently reintroduced. After bringing it home and pecking around for the recipe I realized I didn’t have one of the other key ingredients. Maraschino liqueur. Did you know it’s harder to find that stuff than it was to find the purple stuff??? Yeah. I’m not a big fan of cocktail or food recipes, for that matter, that contain hard-if-not-impossible to obtain ingredients. In fact, I usually smirk and say ‘yeah, right’ and turn the page. But this was different, I had stumbled upon the Creme de Violette and the prospect of a purple cocktail was too enticing.

Yesterday I found the elusive liqueur at a nondescript liqueur store off of University and West street in Berkeley, Ledgers Liquors. THEY HAVE EVERYTHING.

And so then…..my purple cocktail! This recipe was taken from my all-time favorite foodie magazine, the recently discontinued Gourmet Magazine. Dammit. I loved that publication.

Aviation Cocktail
In a cocktail shaker three-fourths full of ice, combine 2 ounces gin, 1/2 ounce lemon juice, 1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur, and 1/4 ounce crème de violette liqueur. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.

I like it, a lot. Mostly because it’s purple. Art took a sip, made a face and said “phwew…..what’s in that???”
I smiled really big.
“Gin!!!”
“Oh, well, that explains it then”.

Art doesn’t like gin. I do. He didn’t believe me when I told him it was made out of real airplanes. Oh well.

Super Secret Spy Gophers

For weeks I’ve been haranguing Art the Husband to please please please set some gopher traps in the paths between and around my raised garden beds. When we installed the beds we had the foresight to lay down wire mesh under the beds, but failed to do the same outside the raised walls. That was a big mistake. Our property, lawn pasture and otherwise, is plagued with pocket gophers and ground squirrels.

The dogs LOVE THIS, because they’re good eats. We hate this for all the obvious reasons. Art has an ongoing war with them (as seen in previous posts) whereupon he has applied numerous tactics to bring their numbers down.
This includes:

The Hose

Sometimes the hose with D-Square

Gopher Traps

Gopher Smoke Bombs

And of course, in keeping with Stine tradition, Good Old-Fashion Fire Power

Things we haven’t tried include;

The Rodenator Bunker Buster

Trained Snakes

Mercenary Coyotes

Mercenary Barn Owls

Mercenary Old Retired Guy with a Lot of Free Time and a White Board

REALLY big guns

Marketing of Self Destructive Habits

And Poison

The only thing that isn’t really an option is the poison. We won’t put the dogs, cats or other wildlife at risk and with all the gopher/squirrel eatin’ that goes on here it would be a very real risk. We’re still open to consideration for all the other tactics.

The war became real to me when I came back from a roadtrip to find my garden area looking like, well, a war zone. Besides the beds being overgrown, the graveled pathways were riddled with holes piled high with gopher-tailings. Going out to the garden to grab a few things for dinner had become a muddy, hazardous ordeal. Art and Fraley built a really awesome fence around the beds about a year ago which keeps the deer and cats out, but gophers? Psshaw.

Art placed the traps (if you’re wondering why I insisted on nagging him into doing it instead of just setting them myself it’s because he’s way better at it than me. I always manage to spring them trying to set them.) Within one night of Gopher Covert Operations we had success, and Dee Dee had breakfast.

I took a chance that it was a solitary operative and commenced Sanitation Operations, which is when this war took a turn. In a shocking discovery, it became apparent that these were no ordinary pocket gophers that had been assigned to the West Front Garden Zone, these were…..Advanced G-Troops. These were the obviously the brightest, the best of the best as evidenced by their advanced surveillance/reconnaissance technology;

Ordinary overgrown zucchini? Maybe at first glance.

Further inspection reveals an ingeniously designed and strategically placed ZukeSurveillanceUnit.

Ohhhhh you wicked spying little rodents. This changes everything.

It took 2 days to get everything back in order and as with many war zone rehabilitation projects, slightly better than we started with. Pathways have been leveled and re-graveled, beds have been cleared and topped with compost, gone to seed plants have been pulled, winter crops planted (salad and mustard greens, radishes, carrots, snow peas and chard). Potatoes have been mounded in hopes of one last harvest, onions dug up, weeds evicted. Things that are still going strong were fertilized and mulched. Battle plans were tweaked. Two days is a bit of time to think.

This is what I think; Know Your Enemy.

At this point, a couple of weeks have gone by with no sign of activity in the West Front Garden Zone. But I know it’s only a matter of time. If there was one Advanced G-Troop, there will be others. And I will be ready, or rather, Art the Husband will be ready. Like a General I will remain on a distant vantage point watching my best and brightest wage battle with The Enemy and ponder this new breed of soldier and what it will mean to this war. Until then, my garden will flourish, sans rodents.

Have winch, will travel.

Check on both.

When asked recently “Lis, what HAVE you been doing with your time?” Mostly I say “Stuff. I do a lot of stuff with my time”, But it’s a little more involved than that. I have projects. I have destinations. I get around to both. Most recently was a task I called Project Thursday. Because I tackled it on a Thursday, duh.

If you look back in the blog files to last October you’ll see a post from Art the Husband about fall weather, chainsaws and dominating a messy storm ravaged Oak Tree in the upper pasture. Girlfriend Fraley and several chainsaws helped Art make short work of the fallen and broken limbs. Unfortunately neither the weather or Art’s attention span held out and a year later small random piles of cut (and now well seasoned wood) and brambly limbs remain. In addition last years winter/spring weather and severe winds (and maybe a little summer shotgun action) took it’s toll on the old lambing shed next to the afore-mentioned Oak Tree.

It collapsed entirely, with some of the supporting walls flung partially down the steep slope of the pasture.

What wasn’t blown far and wide was collapsed on top of a deep and rodent riddled pile of mulchy straw bedding. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find under the heavy rotting wall panels, so I collected the dogs and remanded them to the dog run for their own safety (rattlesnakes you know, not dog friendly in the slightest)

After gathering the correct tools for the job and jump starting the lawn tractor Project Thursday was officially underway

You never know when you’re going to need your Ladies Home Protection System, good thing it’s highly portable.

As it turned out (and perhaps due to me stomping around loudly and boorishly before upturning anybodies hiding place) all that I surprised were 4 field mice and a handful of lizards. πŸ™‚ I let the dogs come out one at a time to check it out. Dretti was completely disgusted with the prospect of eating live mice. Darby just enjoyed chasing them down and slobbering them up. Dee looked at them as fast food style appetizers.

It took about 4 very full loads to clean up the remains of the shed. Andretti supervised most of the unloading as Art the Husband was not around to fuss about trivialities like rusty nails and termites. Andretti Ducati certainly knows how to fuss over details.

The big stuff needed to be ‘managed’.

Hello SawzAll. I love my powertools.

And then…..the roof. No trivial piece of metal, this was about 300-400lb of heavy duty and surprisingly well constructed galvanized tin and pressure treated beams. I say surprising because everything else the previous owners did to this place was pretty slap-shod. Quality was NOT a word common in their vocabulary. The lambing shed roof however was meticulously constructed to outlast the earth and elements. And to laugh in the face of our lawn tractor.

For this, I would need the big guns….err, the right tools for the job. It didn’t take a lot of imagination.

It did take some elbow grease though. I had to remove one fence post and the tangle of wire (livestock and barbed) to accommodate the size of the fallen roof.

Of course nothing is easy, once it was through the fence it was facing the wrong direction to tow with the tow straps (the beams that fit tow straps only go one way…grrrr) Angry Birds popped into my head, with all the angles and distances and exact torque. Problem solved, a la Angry Birds.

I wish Art the Husband had been there, I would have LOVED to get a video of him pasture surfing on this thing when I towed it through the upper pasture with the tow straps.

It was a really tight fit through the gate, by a few inches on either side, but we squeaked through. Now it sits by the top fence between the riding arena and the pasture. Any bets? It just needs to be de-constructed. 6 months?? Another year??? I know this much, it won’t be blowing away anywhere, that’s for sure. πŸ™‚

Now for those wood piles…..

I like fizzy things,

and booze. Fizzy-boozy things are the best. Especially if there’s a hockey game on. But I digress.
My end-of-summer-beginning-of-hockey-season all time favorite stand-by is Calvados (apple brandy) and Diet Coke (Thank You Paula and Peter, for the BEST simple mixed drink!) I’m open to other things, although nothing is quite as simple and pouring an ounce and a half of Calvados over ice and topping it with Diet Coke. I’m a simple girl.

This is called an Apple Blossom.
It has two of my favorite boozy things: rum and hard apple cider. It’s a perfect “Fall Cocktail”, if you so choose to ‘seasonalize’ your cocktails (which, although ashamed to admit, I do)
1/4 oz simple syrup
3/4 oz St. Germaine (elderflower liqueur)
1 oz dark spiced rum (Sailor Jerry’s or Kraken are my choice picks)
3 oz (about half a bottle) hard apple cider (I like Woodchuck Granny Smith or Fox Hard Cider)

Use a highball glass (like the one in the photo), build on the rocks (glass full of ice cubes)
Pour the first 3 ingredients, use a stir stick to swirl them together.
Top with hard cider.
Garnish with lemon peel if you’re feeling fancy. Sometimes, although not often, I feel fancy. πŸ™‚

St. Germaine is an unusual liqueur. It’s an Elderflower mixture, smells flowery and sweet. It can be most easily found at BevMo or any other large booze MegaStore. It’s not a cheap bottle, so I think I’ll be searching for some other drink recipes that feature or at least include it. Failing that, I’ll start making stuff up.