I got this pretty present in the mail this week from Northern Brewer: it’s a propane-fired burner for brewing beer. I’m low on propane right now, otherwise I’d test it out with the Hefeweizen kit I just got in the door. I borrowed my neighbor’s beer gun as well, so I’m going to bottle up a bunch of the Belgian IPA and clear out my kegs for the oncoming batches (there’s been a Belgian Dubbel waiting in the wings since last fall, so that will probably be the burner test batch).
This morning Mama, Finn and I all got up unnaturally early independently of each other. I staggered out the door and down to Patapsco State Park to get a half an hour’s hike in before leaving for work. At 7AM the bike trails are cool, quiet, and empty of spandex-clad missiles, which means I can enjoy the sounds of the forest and get my blood pressure up to natural levels. It’s going to take some work, but I’m resolving to hike every morning next week, no matter how sore the weekend leaves me. Hopefully I can turn it into a good habit instead of a dreaded event.
Speaking of bikes, I dropped my ancient Cannondale off at our local bike shop last weekend for some much-needed and long deferred maintenance. The total bill took me by surprise but so did her condition when the mechanic looked her over. They replaced the rear cassette, chain, brake cables, brake pads, and did overall maintenance, and the bike I got back rides like it’s brand new.
One of the things I’ve got planned this weekend is a long tandem ride with Finn on her trail-behind, and if we can fit it in before the rain, I’d like to get her practicing on her bigger bike. We got it at a yard sale the same year we got her first one, and for $5 it was a good deal. Last weekend I scrubbed it down with some car detergent and sanded the rust off with steel wool, and it looks 100% better. The tires are dry-rotted so we have to find some replacements at Target. I’d really like to peel all the Barbie stickers off the metal too, but I think that would take too long…
Tuesday feels like soreness. Sore in the joints. Sore behind my calves, under my knees, and up through my back like someone has been winding my trapezius muscles through a crank. It’s a good honest sore, but it’s got me drinking a second cup of coffee at 2:30 to keep going this afternoon.
We saw a lot of friends this weekend, more so than we’re used to, but all very welcome. Saturday we adults hit the Brew at the Zoo in Baltimore while the kids stayed with a babysitter. The overall experience was a lot like stepping back into time. We weren’t the oldest people there by a longshot but the average age was ten years younger or so; many many strollers and backpacks held little hitchhikers waiting with Mom or Dad in the New Belgium beer line or dozing through Lynyrd Skynyrd blasting over the PA. Our group was happy to be without children, if only because we could drink and eat at our own pace and carry on intelligent, complete conversations with one another. Plus, after a week of gray drizzle, the skies cleared up and sun filtered warmly through the live oaks. After the festival offerings had run their course, we adults took advantage of a couple of hours of babysitter time and adjourned to the Judge’s Bench in Ellicott City for quieter conversation and edible food. By the time we returned to our children, it was nearing meltdown o’clock and I carried a sleeping Finn up the stairs and into bed straight from the car.
Sunday I took some time to recover from Saturday’s poor gastronomic choices while the girls made it to church. Then we cleaned the house and I took advantage of the weather to start overhauling our new playset. Having sat in the middle of a sandbox for over ten years, the leg bottoms were all rotting away, so I bought some 3×3′ pressure-treated post and cut new ones to fit the side with the swing set. Then I shored up the outrigger under the beam, connected it to the fort, and hung swings for Finn to play on. As I was rebuilding the climbing wall the Redmans arrived, and the girls played happily on the set until we were ready to eat. We even got a little time to enjoy the fire pit before the mosquitoes came out.
Our evening was focused on the girls’ sleepover and the premiere of Behind the Candelabra, both of which overlapped by a half an hour or so. After the fifth time out of bed, I dropped the hammer and threatened separate sleeping arrangements, so the girls quieted down and fell asleep. BTC did not disappoint, and we found ourselves searching YouTube after its conclusion for vintage Liberace footage to confirm yes, he really was that over the top.
Memorial Day came early, as two girls woke us at 5:30 for a dress-up party, so I stumbled downstairs to be with them while the ladies slept. After a couple of hours of PBS Kids the house came to life and Jen organized a pancake breakfast with blueberries and chocolate chips. Then I went back to the store for more wood and continued shoring up the playset.
The roof needs a strong power washing and some stain, so Mama brought out a sheet and I clipped it to the posts to make a tent in its place. The girls bounced happily around the yard as I got four more legs bolted to the set and shored up the desk underneath. As the afternoon wore on the sun disappeared and Finn developed a fever after her friend left, so the ladies adjourned inside while I cleaned up my tools.
We’d been invited to the neighbors’ for a cookout that evening but Finn was not up for it, so I carried the flag next door and spent a pleasant evening having kebabs and lighter beer, playing tee ball with their kids, and generally wishing it was still Saturday.
Chewbacca outside East Coast Scouts, about 2002 or so. I was looking for parts and (I think) having Eric work on the transmission a bit.
My old buddy Pat, on my wedding day, back in 2003.
Here are a bunch of wedding photos taken with my old Canon G3 by various wonderful people at our wedding back in 2003 (in no particular order):