All we need now is a bonfire.

All we need now is a bonfire.

Well, one of the advantages to it being the Longest Day of the Year is you can squeeze a lot of fun into it.

I’d forgotten that it was the solstice today until I heard an oblique mention of it on the radio as I was driving across the city to go to a writers’ group meeting with my sister Bean. The writers’ group had invited a debut author- Anna Shinoda- to speak about her new book “Learning Not To Drown”, which I mentioned earlier in the week when I was still a few chapters from the end. It’s a very good book and it was fun getting to meet the author and learn about her writing process and getting to see some of her behind-the-scenes materials such as  binder of story notes and “insanity” (reference and details about the characters and their lives to help keep them organized throughout the editing process).

Her journey from aspiring writer to published author took ten years in all, which is reassuring because it is so easy to forget that writing just doesn’t happen overnight. Still, I confess to being incredibly jealous of any writer who gets to call their work “finished”. But jealous or not, I was very impressed with the book and was delighted to have a chance to meet the author (who is a fellow Introvert- so really we were all in very good company 🙂

After the writers’ group meeting, Bean and I went to a coffee shop to visit for a bit and to talk about other writing projects and progress and upcoming jobs and all the other details of life that have begun to accumulate with the beginning of summer. It was a lovely visit, but by the time we left I was shocked to see that it was after 5:00 PM: it only looked like it should have been about 3:00Pm. I guess that is one of the advantages to it being the longest day for the year.

I drove home and then I took a nap. The Curmudgeonly Lion suggested that we go out to dinner and that we try a restaurant where we hadn’t tried yet. This seemed like a good idea. A brief search on Google brought up the Downey Brewing Company which seemed like just the place to try (especially considering that we had just run out of beer at home).

It turns out that this was a good choice. The decor isn’t much to look at: a cross between a dive and a pub and a biergarten mashed together in a building that looks like it was built in the 1960s and hasn’t been touched since: the interior is all dark wood and peaked roofs and the only light is provided by neon signs and flat panel television screens.

But the menu. Ohhhh the menu.

I made it to the bottom of a full page of house brews and had pretty much chosen what I wanted and then I realized there were four more pages of options! (I still went with my first choice- the Downey Dunkel, but I felt like I had stumbled upon a gold mine).

And then the food! Sausages! So many sausages! Bratwurst, Bockwurst, Kielbasa (be still my little Chicagoan heart!) and a full page of game sausages like elk and bison and rattlesnake. (I went with the Elk. It was unbelievably delicious). We sometimes joke that the Curmudgeonly Lion is afflicted by a “Burger Curse” because he almost always orders a hamburger at any restaurant that we visit and there is nearly always something wrong with it. The Downey Pub hamburger turned out to be a curse-breaker: it was so big that he couldn’t finish it and could not find one single thing wrong with it.

Soooooo yeah: For all those times when people have asked “where’s a good place to go in Downey” and I haven’t known of anyplace fun to recommend- I now have an answer for you. As long as you like beer and sausages.

So, yes, it was a great Midsummer’s Day.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on June 21, 2014.

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