I realize I’ve been sort of light on details around here lately. The weeks leading up to the 4th of July were a hot, sticky blur of activity as the family and I got the house put together for our guests. I spent several weeks on ladders scraping and painting the windows from the back corner of the house around to the front, and made it as far as priming the front windows before I ran out of time. Jen went nuts with mulch and cleaned up the entire yard. Our front garden looks healthy and lush this year, for the first time since we’ve lived here. All of the wood is cleared out of the backyard minus three big rounds, which are tucked up against the woodpiles waiting for a chainsaw. Unfortunately, the week before the parade, the original cradle, which was built over 10 years ago, decided to fall apart and topple over at about 1AM. I moved the wood off to the side, quickly made repairs to both cradles, and the girls and I restacked everything.
The day before the parade, our kegerator decided to crap out. It had been making a bubbling sound for a few months so I knew the time was near, but all of our beer was getting warm. I pulled all of the loose bottles and cans out and iced them in a cooler and left it for after the parade. The replacement I bought is 1″ narrower but both kegs fit just fine. I built a new collar around the top out of trex and got the lid mounted, and all of the beer is back to just-north-of-slushy 39˚.
This weekend we decided to spend some time on the cars. I made a quick dump run (old cooler: bye-bye) and then we busted out the cleaning supplies and aimed them at the CR-V. All the mats came out and everything got vacuumed. Then we got the soap out and washed the outside, sills, rockers, and roof. I pulled the spare tire off and scrubbed the leaves out from underneath. I even used some engine brite to degrease the motor. The clearcoat may be peeling off the hood, but the rest of it looks like a new vehicle. Finally, Jen asked if I would show the girls how to change a flat tire, so we held a clinic in the driveway.
Then it was off to Oregon Ridge for our friend Jen’s client appreciation party, something we’ve done almost every year since she started them. She’s an old friend from the Cidera days and she has ice cream and bubbles and facepainting and Finley has always loved it. This year she had food and Kona Ice and we got to catch up with friends under a big pavilion in the shade.
The whole weekend has been awesome weather, actually; Sunday the humidity was low so I took advantage and did a bike ride with my neighbors through Patapsco, stopped for a bloody mary at the bottom of the hill, and then rode home. My legs felt like jello but it was worth the workout. Then after Finn’s piano lesson we took the bikes across the street to get her rolling on two wheels. She was nervous at first but pushed off and within seconds was doing easy laps around the parking lot. I couldn’t be prouder of her.
This reenactor showed Finley how a real quill pen works with actual black walnut ink he made himself. He then showed us his collection of flintlock muskets and rifles, explained how he bakes bread as the pioneers did, and generally humbled us with his knowledge. I have no desire to dress in buckskins and wool in August, but I have nothing but respect for men like this. We put the paper he wrote Finley’s name on up on the fridge, and it makes me smile.
Our friend Christopher is in town this weekend, so we took a trip to the American Visionary Art Museum on Saturday afternoon for some brunch on the roof and then a tour through the exhibits. As usual, there’s an astounding selection of work there, and I think Finley enjoyed seeing the show.
We then returned home and I took the drone out for a spin in the ballfield with Chris and Finley, and got some stick time in with propeller guards installed. I wound up dumping it on its side anyway, and one of the blades hit the guard and shattered but the drone itself was fine. Then we wandered down to Jennings’ Cafe for a late dinner and called it an early night.
The Lockardugans had a busy weekend and I think we were all paying for it Sunday evening. We were invited to the neighbors’ for a Cinco De Mayo party on Friday, which meant margaritas, Mexican food, piñatas, and staying up late. We all had a good time, although Finley had a run-in with an older boy outside which turned out bad for him; two other girls stepped in and helped her fend him off. When she was asked to explain what happened, she sat calmly and rationally outlined her side of the story, which I don’t think the other parent was expecting (her kid was hiding behind a pillow). Her story never changed, and she stood tall in the face of pressure. She is such a confounding mixture of clueless disorganization and razor-sharp self awareness, I don’t understand how the different parts of her personality exist in the same brain together. But hearing how she carried herself, I couldn’t have been a prouder father–and we made sure to tell her so.
Saturday we had the Morrisses in from Easton, which was fantastic; Finn and Zachary got along like best buds the whole day. We drove into the city to check out the Science Center, but first had a delicious lunch at Encantada, the bistro on the top floor of the American Visionary Arts Museum. Sadly we missed the kickoff of the Kinetic Sculpture Race by a couple of hours, but the Science Center was relatively quiet for a Saturday, and we got to check out all three floors of exhibits.
One area I’ve never been to with Finn was the Kid Lab, where eight tables are set up with different science experiments to accomplish. Finn and Zachary extracted plant DNA, did a blood test, and checked out a bunch of different slides under a microscope. And rocked a pair of lab coats.
Sunday I got up to mow the lawn in preparation for my neighbor and a friend to come and split more of the wood in the backyard. We’d rolled three of the big 36″ rounds on their sides last fall so that they wouldn’t suck water up out of the ground on their flat sides. With the splitter running, we made pretty short work of each of them and filled his truck twice. I was working on getting a bunch of the smaller pieces down to size when the shear bolt on the hydraulic ram gave way. Luckily I’ve got a bunch of Grade 5 and 8 bench stock from working on the Scout and had it fixed in about 10 minutes, but soon after that we called it a day. There are only a few pieces left–mainly a few medium sized stumps and one huge round that was cut too thick to go in the splitter–and a huge pile of bark.
I also took fifteen minutes to put the soft top hardware on the Scout (the hardtop came off two weeks ago, just in time for the rain) and get a bunch of smaller stuff in the garage straightened out, as well as putting a new wheel on the barrow I got from Mom & Dad (the original rusted through at the hub, which made it impossible to use).
Finally, I filled the feeders on Sunday morning and let the birds discover the new seed; within two hours a squirrel was poking around at the base of the poles. I took one shot and nailed a female, who got bagged and thrown in the trash. There were more outside this morning, and they will soon meet their maker.
I’m home with a sick monkey this morning; we have confirmed Finn has strep, while I’m recovering from a respiratory infection and Mama is fighting off both of them as best she can. Keep your fingers crossed for us.