We got word this afternoon that Grampy passed.
As many long-time invitees are already aware, the Lockardugans decided 2015 was a skip year for the parade party. After 10 straight seasons, we needed a break, and so after making sure the lawn was mowed and the cat was boarded, we got the fuck out of town.
Friday was a holiday so we cut out across the bridge to Easton, where our good friends the Morrises were ready to receive us. After enjoying some drinks and a laid-back dinner on the deck, we all packed up and drove to the waterfront in Oxford, where the town was lined up along the beach to watch fireworks at dusk. It was a beautiful night, and apart from a light drizzle the show was fantastic.
Saturday we packed up and headed back to the same beach to sit by the water and watch the kids play. I’m happy to report Finn is now diving, swimming, and jumping underwater with no fear at all; this year, in fact, she asked me to pick up and throw her repeatedly and has now decided she wants to try a diving board. Okay!
Regretfully, we packed up and left at dinnertime, as lack of sleep and exhaustion from spending five solid hours in the water took its toll on the kids. She crashed out in the car at six and went straight to bed when we got home. We enjoyed the peace and quiet until the Catonsville fireworks show started up, which we’re now able to see almost clearly through the new gap in our treeline behind the greenhouse.
Sunday morning, to celebrate the CR-V hitting 100,000 miles somewhere between Oxford and Easton, we did what all God-fearing, patriotic Americans do on a national holiday: we cleaned out the grotty interiors of our cars. Finn earned some money by manning the vacuum while I scrubbed the sills and cleaned the plastics, and between the three of us we made short work of it.
Mama set up some coleslaw and then we stopped over to Bear’s house for a visit. He was in good spirits, alternately eating, sleeping, farting, and staying awake for brief periods of time to study the chandelier. After dinner, he and I retired in the living room to nap and watch the first half of the Women’s World Cup final. One of their cats jumped up to join us, and I had a great time juggling a baby, a cat, and my beer with only two hands.
Then, we packed up and got Finn back home and into bed at a reasonable hour. After getting everything ready for Monday morning, I hauled my gear up from the basement and got the batch of Irish Stout from last November bottled and racked in the basement. The last batch of Session is kicked, so I’ll clean the keg out this evening, and then transfer the new batch in to finish.
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.