The title of this entry basically sums up our experiences here in Wisconsin over the last week.

After a warm and generally gentle spring, we've have four days of cold and rainy weather. This meant that our softball game on Friday night was called off due to wet fields. Both yesterday and today we spent a good portion of the day indoors as there wasn't much that could be done outdoors without scuba gear. As I mentioned above, Sarah and I are playing in an adult co-ed softball league this year. The curling club fields a team each year and this year we threw our hats into the ring of interested players. Our first game was two weeks ago and, though we lost 5-2, we had a good time. I played third base and Sarah played right field. I went 0-2 with one ground out and one GIDP (grounded-into-double-play). Sarah went 0-2 with one RBI as she drove in a run in the bottom half of the sixth inning.

The curling club has one of the larger cheering sections, which is fun because many of our fans we know through the club. Our first game was cold and that kept the number of interested spectators down to a minimum. Traditionally, we get more than a handful of fans during nice weather. In the grand curling tradition, after the game the team and its fans all head to one of the local bars (which sets aside a room for us on game nights) to eat, drink and be merry.

We've also started the process of getting our gardens whipped in to shape. We worked in our community garden plot weekend pulling weeds, putting down mulch, planning where to plant various vegetables, and generally getting ready for the season. We have the same plot as last year and hopefully, our garden neighbors will be a bit more engaged this year. Last year, many of our garden neighbors were absentee landlords the weeds took whatever ground they gave. As such, three of the five gardens around ours were full of chest high weeds and many of those weeds were constantly spreading into our plot. So far, the people around us have been engaged and present and all of the weedy plots are under control. As we learned last year, the gardening season is a long one, so I'm still witholding judgement on them until later. Many people get an early burst of enthusiasm only to conpletely peter out in June or July.

We planted our tomatoes at the house this year since many of them would break on the bike ride home from the garden. That means that we'll probably plant the following plants at the garden: - potatoes - hot peppers - green beans (yuck.) - squash - pumpkin - watermelon

At home we'll have the tomatoes, our raspberry patch, and Sarah's herb garden. In talking with one of the garden workers, corn has never been successfully grown at the community garden due to raccoons, so even though it would be interesting to plant, it's not really an option.

I was concerned about the state of our raspberry patch since I cut all the stalks to the ground earlier this spring. I was worried that I cut too many canes, or cut them too late. However, the canes are springing out of the ground all through the patch (and beyond), so I'm not worrying about that any longer.

We had a tree cut down in front of the house a few weeks ago. Ever since we moved in, I've been worried about the birch we had in the front yard. Part of it hung over the house and part of it hung over the neighbors' driveway. In addition, it seemed that the tree was slowly dying. It never looked healthy, parts that fell off all but exploded on impact with the ground because they were so rotten, and any sort of wind caused non-trivial bits to fall off. So, this spring we had a professional come in and take the tree out. I felt better about the tree's removal when the professional explained that the tree was so rotten, the cleanup was more of a raking job than anything. As he cuts the limbs off the tree, the limbs would hit the ground a shatter, rather unlike one would expect from a healthy tree. I have some Before pictures showing the tree and the house, now I just need to get some After pictures and I can upload them to the picture gallery.

Even though it was raining today, Sarah and I managed to dodge enough raindrops to take the dog for a hike at Lake Kegonsa State Park. Neither of us had ever been there before though we had heard the name in various contexts and conversations over time. When it isn't cold and rainy, the park is very popular; today were were one of a handfull of people at the park and just before we left, it may have been just us and the Ranger at the gate taking entrance fees. The hiking trails there aren't much to write home about. The park is generally flat and managed to handle large groups of people. As such, the trails are wide and either mowed, paved, or covered in gravel. There isn't much forest to hike through, so much of the hiking is down around a nicely restored prairie or down by the beach. Since no one else was at the park, we took Dalla places she wasn't supposed to go and let her off the leash most of the time. We also got to play on the playground equipment, which I found particularly fun.

Last weekend, we went hiking at Governor Dodge State Park which is about an hour west of Madison. We arrived at the park in the afternoon and hiked until early evening. We're clearly not in mid-summer form yet as a hike of eight or nine miles was a tough slog for the last two miles. However, it felt good to be out and about and as we hike, I'm sure that we'll get stronger, just like every year. Governor Dodge is a much bigger park on far more varied terrain than Lake Kegonsa, so the hiking was much more difficult and interesting. We took a few pictures, but they're nothing special so I don't see any reason to post them in the picture gallery.

Two years ago, I put in a retractable clothesline in our backyard. Unfortunately, the cement I used never set up correctly, so the pole that anchored the line fell over farther and farther each time the line was used. Earlier this spring, I dug up all the old concrete mix, which was basically just wet, clumpy, white sand and put it in two plastic garbage bags. Each bags weighs, no exaggeration, at least fifty pounds. And, since it is concrete mix (theoretically, though I have my doubts), the garbage truck won't take it. So, now I'm on the hook to haul this stuff to the Dane County Landfill which will set me back the time, gas, and dump fees ($9). That's the bad. The good is that I've replaced the old concrete with new concrete that appears to have cured correctly. Now, if we can just get a few dry days, we can give the clothesline a spin to see if my second concrete job is better than my first.

After filling the hole for the clothesline post, I had some concrete left-over, so I made Ira a concrete roof for the house I put in his outdoor pen. When summer finally gets here, the concrete should make the inside of little house even more like an in-ground cave for Ira.

Since we feed Ira dandelions from the yard, we've resisted using chemicals on the lawn to control the various weeds that are attempting to take over. However, we decided this year that we'll most likely use a weed and feed product on the lawn this fall because in some places the weeds are winning the war. That doesn't make us happy, but we enjoy walking on grass more than we enjoy walking on dandelions.

We've also hired a local fence contractor to fence our back yard. We went back and forth about whether or not to install chainlink fence or a split-rail fence backed with pasture fencing, but the chainlink fence won out. A two-rail split-rail fence is just 2' 6" tall and Dalla could jump that without any effort at all. A three-rail split-rail fence is 3' tall, but was more expensive than the 4' chainlink fence. On top of that, we'd have to add the expense to buy the pasture fencing and our time to tack it to the back of the split-rail. So, because the chainlink is taller and less expensive, we decided that it was the fence for this house. Now, I'm anxious to get it installed so that Dalla can run freely throughout the back yard instead of being confined to a small area by a tie-out staked into the ground.