Brewpub Culture

Amigo and Chuck and I have a tradition. It’s called Fun Day Friday. Fun Day Friday started many years ago when Amigo and I started going out to lunch on Fridays when I was free – mainly summertime, since I am a public school teacher. We included Chuck when he was available.

Now that Chuck works for a different employer and often has Fridays off, he and Amigo have taken the Fun Day Friday routine year-round. I find myself mildly envious at times.

When all three of us are available for a Fun Day Friday, it’s a big deal. Today was one of those Fridays. In fact, it was such a big deal, we decided to go out for supper instead of for lunch. We chose a nearby pub noted for their beer list and their burgers. Last time I was there I ordered mac and cheese from the kids’ menu and brought home the fruit snacks for Amigo, but that’s a different story. Or is it?

If you don’t live in Wisconsin, the whole idea of a bar or pub with a kids’ menu might seem surprising. Here, bringing the kids along is a normal everyday happening. On the positive side, most neighborhood pubs are very family friendly. They’re safe places, almost like a family restaurant but with a bar. The food is good, and if it’s Friday, there might be a fish fry special. Tonight, we had burgers and an appetizer of deep fried zesty dill pickles.

On the negative side, this culture makes alcohol the norm. A young person can learn that going out to eat also means drinking, and that norm can lead to drinking to excess. For an alcoholic trying to stay dry, this kind of social place can be very difficult. Not only are a multitude of forbidden drinks available, but the place might even smell like a beer.

My children are grown now. They’ve been legally able to order their own beers for many years. I have to hope that both of them, born and raised in Wisconsin’s alcohol culture, know how that drinking in moderation is best.

For what it’s worth, Amigo ordered soda tonight – Mt. Dew. I hope the caffeine doesn’t keep him awake too late!

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Winter with a Vengeance

I haven’t posted since…when? Oh, my. Anyway, it’s winter now. We had about 6 inches of snow yesterday. By the end of the week, we’re looking at below zero temperatures and the possibility of a Polar Vortex. Last time we had a major cold snap, Polar Vortex cold, we had a visitor – a Cooper’s hawk, on our deck, right next to the French doors. We were rather shocked that it settled in right next to the house like that. It must have been the closest, or the only, shelter it could find.

With another cold (Polar) snap ahead, I’m prepping to keep the family warm. By Friday, I hope to have the main family groceries purchased, including bunny food and the basic milk, bread, and eggs. You know the drill, I’m sure. That way, I can stay indoors when the thermometer dips.

Meanwhile, indoors, we’ll stay warm with a little help from our good Wisconsin logic.

All shades, blinds, and curtains will remain closed. Another layer, no matter how thin, helps keep the drafts out.

Warm clothes – layers, warm socks, slippers (from Muk-Luks, the best). I even have fingerless gloves on hand if I need them.

A humidifier in each room (well, the rooms where we spend the day) will help keep moisture in the air, which makes the air feel a few degrees warmer, even if the temperature doesn’t physically change.

Blankets! I’ve been washing blankets lately. It’s a spring cleaning in midwinter task. We’ll curl up with a book and a blanket or two and stay cozy. Amigo is good at that; he loves his audio books and a warm blanket.

Warm breakfast (oatmeal!) and lunch (soup!) and supper (whatever, just make it warm!) will warm the insides, too. I might even cook in the crock pot instead of on stovetop. The aroma will provide a little warmth of its own.

I could bake cookies, too – maybe. Or maybe I won’t want to use too much energy. The power company has come down on manufacturers for using too much heat energy to operate their plants. I haven’t heard them asking residential customers to turn it down by a couple of degrees, but it could happen. And if it did…

We’d put on another layer and grab another blanket. Coffee, hot cocoa, and we’ll be snug as bugs in a rug, despite the extreme Polar Vortex cold.

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