Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A handful of discoveries

It's a damp, overcast morning here at KintlaLake Ranch. Seems like a good time to catalog some unexpected finds.

In one of my Urban Resources posts I surveyed The Other Economy, that rich source of goods and services operating outside the conventional marketplace. My family and I have been "shopping the roadside" a lot lately, turning up bargain after useful bargain.

I've regretted parting with my Black & Decker Benchtop Workmate since leaving it behind when I moved back to Ohio ten years ago. Introduced in the late 1970s, the Benchtop model eventually was discontinued, so if I wanted to replace it I'd have to explore the secondhand market.

I discovered this one (above) earlier this summer at a garage sale halfway down a narrow alley in our village. Other than a few stains and a little rust, I found it in excellent condition, complete except for a pair of original-issue L-bolts that clamp it to a bench.

The price: just $3.00. Two carriage bolts, two flat washers and two wingnuts, purchased at the local hardware store, put it on my workbench for a grand total of four bucks.

Because a man can never have enough vises (or vices, for that matter), at another garage sale that same day I picked up this "hobby vise" (left) for two dollars. It clamps to the work-surface with a thumbscrew and will come in handy for a variety of small projects.

Speaking of The Other Economy, our village held its annual flea market last weekend. It's not a big event, just a coupla dozen canopied tables piled with household castoffs. My wife and I came home with a three-foot chocolate rabbit (brown plastic, actually) that'll grace our front porch next Easter, and a 1960s-vintage glass-and-chrome teapot. Together, the two items cost us two bucks.

I spent one more dollar, that on an old Boy Scout "contest medal." These awards were introduced in the late 1920s, as I understand it, but they'd been retired by the time I became a Scout myself.

Wanting to get a better fix on this medal's age, yesterday I examined it with a magnifying glass. Other than the word CAMPING cast into the front, the pendant bears no markings. Stamped on the clasp at the top of the ribbon, however, is PAT. NO. 2,795,064. A bit of web-sleuthing unearthed a copy of the original patent for the clasp -- applied for in 1953, granted in 1957.

So the clasp, at least, probably is as old as I am. A buck bought me a keeper and a pleasant exercise in discovery.

I love beer -- and I mean good beer. Sure, I'm willing to throw back my earthly portion of mass-produced barley pop, but I prefer beer that has actual flavor.

In a corner-store lager, for example, I enjoy an ice-cold Rolling Rock. If I had to choose a favorite, without a doubt it'd be Rogue Brewery Dead Guy Ale. And as you might expect, I'm especially partial to small-batch local brews, like those from Columbus Brewing Company.

Recently I learned of Rockmill Brewery, located in nearby Lancaster, and its Belgian-style ales. As the story goes, Rockmill's founder discovered that the well on his family's farm produced water with the same mineral content as that found in Wallonia, Belgium, and that served as the inspiration for four unusual ales.

Mrs. KintlaLake and I savored a bottle of Rockmill Dubbel over a plate of summer sausage, sharp cheese and apple slices (this isn't a beer one serves with nachos), and we came away truly amazed. It's strong (6% to 8% ABM), full-bodied and fruity, as well as pricey ($16 for a 22-ounce bottle) -- and worth every penny.

Great beer, brewed barely a stone's throw from home -- that's as good as it gets. There's a bottle of high-octane Rockmill Tripel in my fridge, and I can't wait to pop the cork.

Finally, of course, our vegetable garden offers up discoveries almost every day -- take this green-and-yellow beauty (below) that sprang from one of the "volunteer" vines I mentioned last week. At about 12 inches long, it's the largest gourd that's set (so far). Our unintentional crop continues to spread, so there will be more.