What can I say about the weekend? We did a lot of work outside the house to clean up the yard–Bro was at a music festival, and thus could not wander over to putter behind his Dad’s mower like a slack-jawed baboon. I pulled my dusty mower out of the back of the garage, emptied out the gas tank, sharpened the blade, and fired it up for the first time in two years. I’d forgotten how little I like to mow my own lawn, and I’m shocked at how much higher the roots have pushed through the grass.
After mowing I edged it for the first time in months, trimmed the hedges, and cleaned out the brush behind the greenhouse. It looks like a whole new house. Did I mention the dumpster is gone? Yep, they hauled all of that stuff away–even after the neighbor threw about 80 feet of panel fence on top of the concrete. It left four deep divots in his driveway. I shudder when I think of what the overage charges might be. And, the garage seems to be waterproof! My hasty repairs are holding steady, which is a relief.
Once the yard was mowed we took a ride to the Home Depot in the Scout and loaded up on cedar mulch and topsoil, bought some pressure-treated fence pickets and a hose reel and headed home. The cedar mulch went in the swingset enclosure. The topsoil covered erosion up front from where our helicopter-clogged gutter overflowed last month. And the pickets got cut up for Finn’s playset–new panels for the climbing wall, some repairs to the ladder, and a replacement deck plank.
In the evening some friends from Kindergarten came by and we grilled out in the backyard. I had such a good time I didn’t bother to take pictures.
Sunday we decided to fuck around for the day, and Finn wanted to go shopping in Ellicott City. So we parked in the public lot and strolled the street, stopping in each antique store to find her clip-on earrings. She brought a bag of coins with her, with the intention of buying something, but I decided to make it a teaching moment. (Before you get mad, I’ve been taking her yardsaling all spring. She always brought her money, but almost without exception, the people selling would just give her things). She found a pair of earrings priced at $20 but I made her stop and count her money, going so far as to give her the remaining $1 bill in my wallet. She got upset, wanting me to buy it for her, but we explained that if she wanted to buy something, she would need to have enough money for it. It was a hard lesson for her (and I felt awful about it), but we want to teach her the value of money, and also that she shouldn’t just buy the first thing she sees.
I did, however, buy my pretty wife a lovely new purse and a cool T-shirt with a day of the dead skull print.
We watched the first episode of True Detective last night; I would describe it as “damaged characters do stupid things.” It’s a lot more formulaic than the first season, which contrasted the two approaches of its main characters to the job they do (brutal honesty and habitual lying); this season has at least one main female character, but she seems to be as one-dimensional as the rest. It’s hard to nail a pilot episode as well as the first season did; maybe this season will gather steam as it progresses.
Friday evening I found myself at a neighbor’s house watching a skilled man with dreadlocks mix fancy craft cocktails with a bunch of other guys I didn’t know. I was invited by the father of one of Finn’s friends and walked down the street to his house after dinner.
The first cocktail I tried was a barrel-aged Manhattan, which was served over a hand-carved chunk of ice and went down a little rougher than I’d anticipated. Next up was an old fashioned, and by this time I’d made acquaintances with some of the other guys as well as run into another Dad I knew from the playground. As the evening went by I met some other men from the neighborhood, played a few games of darts, sampled a Ho-Ho from the dessert table, smoked a decent cigar, and sampled three more drinks, which were enough to tilt Beechwood Avenue about five degrees on my walk home. And: a true whiskey sour is a new go-to drink for me, because nobody will know how to make a Blood and Sand.
Saturday I recovered quicker than I fairly should have and we made preparations for the annual Ice Cream Social put on by our friends the Wards. Finn got her face painted, chased bubbles, watched the cows walk up the path, and played with balloon swords under a perfect blue sky. We made a brief stop at IKEA for a roller shade part and then got Jen home into bed, after a late-day migraine came on. Finn and I stayed up to watch Monsters vs. Aliens in our Pjs and then went to sleep.
Sunday I hit the Lowe’s for shingle supplies and started peeling 20-year-old layers off the far side of the garage roof. It’s been leaking for a couple of years and this winter it just stayed wet and disintegrated. A closer inspection revealed a hasty patch job over the old shingle but no attempt to repair the sheathing underneath–which was completely gone in some places. I removed several layers and cut bad wood back to the joists, then laid in new sheathing and started tacking shingles back in. There’s about three layers on there in total, which didn’t surprise me, but the amount of water damage was actually less than I thought there would be. I didn’t lay any tarpaper down, which may be a tactical mistake, but we’ll see how it holds up when the next rain falls.
While that was under way, I stoked up the smoker with charcoal and mesquite chips and dropped a 5-lb. bird on the grill. Following the directions, I used about 150% more charcoal than was needed, and so the fire was too hot. As we all know, there’s no turning charcoal down, so I had to pull it off and let the fire die down for about 20 minutes. The final flavor was OK, but the bird was dry, so there will be lots of experimentation and testing before we perfect this method.
Friday morning I worked from home because there was a water main break at our office, and apparently they don’t have sprinklers or flushing toilets. Whatever! It was nice to chill on the couch and catch up on small things.
Saturday I spent the entire morning moving concrete from a pile next to the garage over to the dumpster in our neighbor’s driveway. It took a lot of time and energy, and by the time I was done, I was ready to be done. Luckily we had a low-impact evening planned with friends, and grilling food and drinking beer was a great way to cap off a long day.
While we were sitting in the backyard, this fox trotted brazenly into the yard, sniffing out some scraps under the picnic table, and made off with them before we could pick our jaws up off the ground. He was within easy throwing distance, and not the least concerned with us at all. I saw him again on Sunday afternoon cruising past the house, obviously looking for more picnic treats.
Sunday Finn and I took in the Farmer’s Market for some veggies, and we did some light chores around the house. I hung new hooks on the back of the garage for the second ladder my father sent me home with, and took the old rusty mailbox off the front of the house.
Then, Finn and Mama went to the park for a playdate with a friend, and I brewed up a batch of Session IPA with the propane burner.
After dinner, I helped Finn finish her homework, and then I took the girls out for some gelato to celebrate a fine weekend.
Eleven years ago today, I married this lovely woman. While it hasn’t always been easy, it sure has been interesting. I love you, blondie.