We flew back into Baltimore at midnight last night, after about an hour’s delay on the ground, and got to the house after 1AM and a bumpy cab ride. Our plans to explore Kansas City on Monday were curtailed by a 102° fever, unfortunately, so we missed Legoland and the science center, although we were able to check out the King Tut exhibit and Union Station before an afternoon party and a dip in the hotel pool.
Kansas City really impressed us. Everyplace we looked was clean, well-maintained, and dynamic. We ate like royalty, from breakfast to barbecue, and sampled artisinal ice cream and locally brewed beer. And it was great to meet our new extended family, who made us all feel welcome. Apart from the flight delays, the whole trip was a pleasure.
After a trip to the Target clinic this morning, we found that Finn is most likely suffering from Coxsackievirus, which is treated syptomatically, meaning there is a lot of cold fruit and yogurt on hand for Finn. If she’s feeling better tomorrow morning, she gets to go back to camp and life will return to normal.
That bit of fence you see on the far right was invisible on Friday evening. The whole right side of the garage roof was covered with two layers of canopy from the trees above. Wires hung above the fence line were fouled with the branches of fast-growing (maple? birch?) which were multiplying and threatening our phone and cable service with every strong gust of wind. I got to work with arbor saw from the roof of the garage and took the high stuff down, then continued taking them down from ground level. My electrician neighbor assured me none of the wires on that pole carry power, so I gingerly trimmed and sawed and hacked until I’d cleared three small trees out with a handsaw, ending when I was faced with stuff too tall to drop alone. When I was done, I built a pile of brush the size of an import sedan next to the driveway. Having that area clear makes a huge visual difference from the road as well as from the backyard.
Lots of other stuff happened this weekend, including a river birthday party, garage reorganization, a long-needed gutter cleaning on the east side, and a backyard screening of Despicable Me 2.
Sunday continued with more work: a trench dug in our backyard in preparation for the addition of hardwired power (The house came with knob and tube hung from porcelain insulators off the office porch, which the building inspector made us remove before we moved in. I’ve been making do with an extension cord run from the greenhouse, which has hardwired power, for five years. My electrician neighbor looked at it and told me it would be a snap to run wire from the greenhouse to the garage, so I busted out the shovels!) Finn and I saddled up the bike train and rode downtown for some lunch, and then took the scenic route home.
Then we tuned up her starter bike, checking the tires and adjusting the seat and handlebars for her size. After that I was beat, so we came in and read books for about two hours, taking turns reading each page. She’s getting better, and faster, and I finally recorded about two of her books on video. Then we made two pizzas from scratch (homemade dough!), and after she went to bed, I kegged the hefeweizen.
This morning I’m paying for it in aches and pains, but it feels damn good to get all of that done.
We’re back from the beach, sadly, gearing up for our return to normal life. We had an idyllic week 50 yards from the water, one big deck away from the dunes. The house we picked out with help from Google Earth and Street View turned out to be an absolute gem; one wall of windows opening out onto a deck facing the Delaware bay. The water was warm and gentle compared to the vicious riptide and crushing surf of the Outer Banks, so both Finn and Zachary were perfectly safe the entire time they were in the water (and when the tide was out, the water was waist-deep for 50 yards). We walked the beaches during horseshoe crab mating season in the middle of a preserve, so we took the time to check each one on the beach and throw them back in when they started wiggling. (Our final tally was somewhere around 18).
The kids had a great time together, settling into a sibling-like pattern of peaceful playtime immediately followed by total warfare and then back to playtime, which meant us adults could sit and relax a bit more than we’ve been used to. We carried several cartfuls of toys, chairs, and gear down to the beach and then left it there above the high tide line overnight, which was a huge help. The beaches were as quiet as we were used to in Hatteras, which was a fantastic surprise. Meals were easy, and we each traded off an evening to drive into Rehoboth for a quiet dinner. Beer o’clock started at noon, punctuated with Dark & Stormys, vodka tonics, or wine.
Saturday came too fast, and we stretched it out as long as we could by heading into Lewes for breakfast and some sightseeing. Then, we hit the road. Three hours travel time is nothing compared to the OBX trip; this is our destination for several years to come, and we’re already making plans to make next year’s visit two weeks.
This is a picture Finn drew of her science camp; the four figures at upper right are Finn (blonde hair), two of her campmates, and the teacher. The object in the foreground is a bottle of Coke, and the fountain is the coke spraying in the air after they added Mentos. Finn informed us that the people are smaller because they’re far away from the bottle.
Science camp looks cool, man.
Jen cleaned and hung the crystal for Finn’s light fixture last night, which means all that needs to be done in her room is some cleaning and decorating. I spray-painted my two Pottery Barn shelves and hung them over her bed and dresser to complete the look. It’s a completely different room now; she calls it her “big-girl room”, which makes the three of us happy.
I kegged the IPA last night and I’ll be carbing it like crazy to get it ready for the parade. It shakes out at about 4.5% ABV, which is just right for a hot day. The Hefeweizen still has about two weeks to go, so that’ll be ready by the time we get back from the beach. Then I’ve got to figure out what’s next (I’m expecting the IPA to be gone by the end of Friday).
At some point today I should be getting a delivery from Amazon containing a rack for the back of the CR-V so that we can bring bikes to the beach; I’m going to pack Finn’s bigger bike and the trailer bike so we can possibly even teach her how to ride on her own.
Friday the girls came to pick me up from the station and we stopped for dinner in scenic Arbutus for Hawaiian barbecue. Arbutus is a two-light burgh next to the train tracks and Route 1, with its own movie theater, a pizza restaurant, three hookah bars, and not much else, so a Hawaiian restaurant is a bit of an outlier. I’d been told it was worth a try, so we gave it a shot. While the ambiance in the dining area was a bit lacking, the food didn’t disappoint, and I’ll definitely go back for their pulled chicken and pork.
Saturday we spent the day chopping and sawing and trimming and pruning. Trees encroach on our gardens, choke out our lawn, and kill our herbs, so we fight back with saw and clippers. I hauled three truckloads of brush to the dump, along with all of the pallets we used to make our mulch piles, the box our grille came in, and multiple bags of yard debris. I hung two of my old Pottery Barn shelves in Finn’s room and started on her light fixture, but started winding down after five or so. After dinner, we got a text from the neighbors to join them in the playground across the street. Originally the plan was to get some dessert, so we put the question to Finn: friends or ice cream. Her reply:
“I have a stronger heart than my love of candy.”
So we let the kids run around until dusk while we sipped beer from Solo cups on the picnic bench. Then we watched them catch fireflies in the backyard until it was way past bedtime.
My neighbor and I were discussing the large variety of varmints in our yards and he gave me a present, a cardboard tube filled with chemicals designed to make smoke and kill burrowing animals. He’s also convinced me that trapping is too slow and time consuming, and that more direct action is warranted given our situation: our backyard is like the Serengeti, with herds of bunnies migrating through packs of squirrels, accompanied by circling flocks of starlings and ravens and catbirds. So I will buy a pellet gun and lie in wait and kill these invading pests before they eat all of our herbs and Jen’s flowers and dig more holes in our shitty lawn.
Sunday the girls went to church while I got back to work. Finn’s fixture needed some specialty adapters so I hit the store and came back in time for a Farmer’s Market run. Then we got a text from Christi and Glenn about looking at a house on the other side of the beltway, so I drove over and looked at it with them while Finn napped.
After a strategy session with them (it’s a beautiful house), I got the light fixture hung and the lawn edged before stopping to straighten up, and then we had the neighbors over for pizza and beers and more fireflies and grape popsicles and laughing.
Things I didn’t get done today:
- Kegging the beer
- Spraying the yard with Cutter insect-kill-um
- Filling the sandbox with sand
- Humping baby gear back up into the attic
- Spraying the driveway with Round-Up
- Shoring up the playset with some new lumber
Fuck it. The Fourth will be what it will be, and our friends will be here. The house won’t be perfect, and that will be fine.
Because the garden on the right side of the house turned out looking so good, we figured we’d try to get the left side done by the fourth. Or, at least, straightened up to where it doesn’t look like it was used for machine gun practice. We started out by lifting and hauling all of the concrete from the sidewalk to the side of the driveway. That took most of the morning, and after lunch we went out for two loads of topsoil to fill the channel. Between the Scout and the CR-V we hauled a half a ton of dirt back to the house in three trips.
Tomorrow, I’ll go back out and fill the rest of the channel with the dirt we brought in, and then we can start making the left side look as good as the right.
Mama found this little fellow last weekend in the greenhouse, where he had crawled up under a flowerpot for a long dirt nap. I threw some batteries in an old Canon point and shoot with a macro lens and took a bunch of shots before she moved him. It’s amazing how the skeleton is still bound together with tissue and intact; Finn was fascinated to see the structure and asked to save it so she could bring it to school. Hopefully they appreciate nature in her new Kindergarten classroom.