IPAs at the Baja Bean
Sunday, August 14 2011
location: Creekside doublewide, Stingy Hollow Road, five miles south of Staunton, rural Augusta County, Virginia
I made coffee this morning in using a coffee machine, which reliably makes worse coffee than my preferred method (a french press). But it makes up in quantity what it loses in quality, and there was enough after my morning dose for me to carry an additional cup with Gretchen and the dogs when we walked around Muellers' Mountain. We started heading west on the old logging road along the north edge of the marsh (38.099603N, 79.132934W, ending up on the back pasture (38.098742N, 79.136946W, now mostly overgrown with gnarled Black Cherry.
We headed back homeward through the old hilltop corn field, which is (surprisingly) still mostly open field. I pointed out the spot (38.099814N, 79.134994W along the fence in a line of large oaks where my father used to set up the WWII-era canvas pop tent that was my bedroom in late summers when I'd have to sleep up there to guard the corn against raccoons.
Gretchen and I drove into downtown Staunton and had lunch at the Baja Bean, a Charlottesville-based Mexican restaurant franchise in the site of an earlier Mexican restaurant called Rosa's Cantina. We took a booth near the front and easily found an open WiFi network belonging to the Split Banana, the icecream shop next door. Gretchen was delighted to find that Baja Bean's vegan options were all highlighted as such, though of course this reflects a sensibility imported from the far more enlightened culinary culture of Charlottesville. For my part, I was surprised by the number of IPA choices on offer. I don't normally associate IPAs with Mexican food, but it turns out they are a much better match than, say, an IPA drunk with french fries and catsup. Baja Bean normally stocks the full line of Dogfish Head IPAs, though they were out of stock of everything but the 120 minute and the 60 minute, the latter of which I've found disappointing. The 120 minute is so strong (18% alcohol) that it is only sold in eight ounce glasses (at a price of $1/ounce) and limited to one per customer. I had to get one. I wouldn't call it an IPA in the strict sense of the word; it was more like a hoppy variety of port. But somehow the hops managed to hide all that alcohol content. It's not my favorite "IPA," but it was worth drinking at least this one time.
We drove out to Fishersville, a metastasizing sprawl of warehouses, biggie-churches, muffler shops, and light industry that Augusta County likes to regard as its downtown (as opposed to its properly-urbanized center in Staunton). A battle with the effete fudgepacking liberals of Staunton led to the replacement of its hospital with a massive new facility in Fishersville that has served the county since the early 1990s. This is the place my father ends up every time he is rescued by the rescue squad or is served food contaminated with feces that leads to a bad case of CDF. (All the hospitalizations of my youth happened when Staunton's King's Daughters Hospital was still an actual hospital, as opposed to the nursing home it's become, coincidentally another place where my father spends much of his time.)
My father didn't look too alive when we arrived at the outside of his room. He was in bed with his mouth and eyes hanging open, not responding to anything. In accordance with quarantine procedures, we suited up in gowns and gloves and then went in.
Once he saw us, my father didn't just seem alive, he actually seemed more responsive and engaged than he had back in April and even a year ago. For one thing, his hearing was much improved (according to my mother, all he'd had to do was clean his damn ears). But he was also more interested in what we had to say and about matters outside his particular circumstances. His circumstances, after all, aren't too pleasant. He never walks any more, though two people from physical therapy came by while we were there and managed to get him to stand briefly with the help of a walker. As for his intestines, they're all messed up from the CDF, and there's the added complication of a blockage somewhere in the plumbing as well as a touch of food poisoning. Because providing poison-and-or-feces-free food is just too damn hard for a nursing home and-or hospital.
My father's doctor showed up while we were there and he seemed like an uncommonly nice guy. As he was explaining that CDF bacteria had "evolved resistance" in the presence of conventional antibiotics, I indignantly expressed a creationist viewpoint that he took as a joke (though not an especially funny one).
My father got to talking about how the economy was going to hell and that maybe we'd only have a year left before the shit hit the fan. (I think he'd selected that timeframe because he'd like to live to see it happen.) On the subject of global warming and the technofix of carbon sequestration, he announced that the idea was absurd: carbon dioxide is almost completely unreactive and, if placed in the ground, it will quickly bubble to the surface again, wasting all the effort (and energy) of catching it in the first place, an investment that much diminishes the value of burning a fossil fuel in the first place. Having once been the NASA scientist assigned to studying the equilibrium between minerals and atmosphere on the Planet Venus, he knows of which he speaks. Even reduced to diapers and occasional spoon feedings, my father still has more common sense about the thermodynamics of carbon-based fuels than perhaps 99% of those now talking about it. Like many of us on the left side of the political spectrum, my old man has developed a sudden morbid fascination with Rick Perry and all the inane dog-whistly things coming out of his Texas batter-fried yap. At home my father loves MSNBC and particularly Rachæl Maddow, so I looked to find where it was on his room's television (channel 54, as it happens).
We hung around until my father made use of his diaper and needed a change, an event we wouldn't have noticed had he not kept talking about it.
On the way back towards Staunton, Gretchen and I stopped at Martin's, the city's vaguely-upscale supermarket, and bought provisions for the week. My mother, who'd been too distracted to stock the doublewide, had given us $200 in cash. Martin's has a card-based rewards program that gives discounts on gas to those who buy lots of groceries and discounts on groceries to those who buy lots of gas. It's a system that probably works best for large families who drive around in a school bus. Hoagie had loaned us her card and it made every gallon of gas we put into our car 80 cents cheaper, and it also gave us a small discount on our groceries. Too bad our car's gas tank only holds about twelve gallons.
I'd also wanted to get some vodka for the doublewide, but the state-controlled booze stores are all closed on Sunday, presumably because that is what the Lord God prefers.
Back in the doublewide, Gretchen made one of her famous vegan lasagnas, which proved popular with both Hoagie and Don.
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