With another weekend drawing to a close, I realized that it has been a while since I chronicled our adventures in this space.
The big event in Sarah's life over the last couple of weeks was her successful thesis defense. After a month of long, long hours she presented her thesis formally to her committee. Following the public portion of the defense, she was grilled in private for a time by her committee before they passed her work. She still needs to incorporate their changes and suggestions into her final thesis document, but that should all be done by the end of August. Regardless, the biggest hurdle that stood between Sarah and her Master's degree has been passed. She is extremely happy to have that behind her. We started scraping the paint off the south side of the house last week. The house painting project, which desperately needs to be completed, is moving slowly. The current plan is for both Sarah and I to take a week and concentrate solely on painting the house during that week. That seems to the course of action most likely to lead to a freshly painted house with a minimum amount of fuss.
My bid to join the titans of the retail world apparently went unnoticed by Wall Street as I haven't had investment bankers lining up at my door. The Saturday before last I had a garage sale where I made...wait for it...$28.25. If you consider that I spent the better part of twelve hours pawing through our stuff looking for things to sell, pricing everything, hauling it to the garage, setting it up, and sitting there while most everyone in the world ignored it, I made less than $3.00/hour. That's right, less than $3.00/hour. You'll all want to pre-order my book on making big money in the fast-paced world of garage sales, I'm sure. Of course, if you don't want the book now, you'll probably want it after you see the late-night television advertisement.
Last Sunday, Dalla and I took a hike while Sarah prepped for her thesis defense. It was hot, but not uncomfortably so. There was a nice wind that kept most of the mosquitos away and we both enjoyed being surrounded by so much lush vegetation. There are some photos from our hiking trip in the photo gallery. I went out hoping that the wild black raspberries would be ripe enough to pick but it looks like it will be at least next weekend, and possibly longer, until they are ready to eat.
Friday night, we played softball with the curling club softball team. The team is reasonably good for the league in which it plays. We couldn't hold a candle to any highly competitive team, but we play hard and have fun. On a play last week I was on first when a throw to the plate went wide and I decided to take second on the throw. It wasn't until I was two-thirds of the way there that I noticed that I couldn't take second because the runner in front of me was still standing on second base. So, I turned around and started churning hard for first. As I got close, it looked like the throw beat me to the base so and (for some reason I still don't understand) I slid into first using a bent-leg slide. Well, something happened and I was declared safe. But, I couldn't hear the ump (there's only one and he's around the plate), and since I saw the throw beat me to the base, I got up off the ground just past first base. It was then that I heard the two benches yelling. One was yelling "Tag him!" The other was yelling "Get back on base." Doh. The tag beat my lunge to the base and I was out. It was then that I realized the folly of sliding into base when you're wearing shorts. The entire front and side of my left leg below the knee was shredded and full of dirt. After the game, I washed out the wounds and applied some bandages in a particularly painful stretch of minutes before we went to the bar for the traditional post-game meal. After all, it'd be a shame to miss fish fry and pitchers of beer for a shredded shin.
If you've never had road rash, you can't really appreciate how painful it is to have skin scraped away off a good sized chunk of your body in a shallow but comprehensive fashion. The wound left isn't deep, but many many nerve endings are damaged and exposed to the air which means lots of stinging and burning sensations at all hours. In addition, because the area of the wound is large it's difficult to buy bandages and the like at a pharmacy that won't make the situation worse since most bandages are meant for small wounds. It is here that I should state unequivocally that so-called non-stick bandages are nothing of the sort.
When so many nerve endings are exposed, pretty much everything you do to the wound is extremely uncomfortable. Showering? Very painful. Taking bandages off? Very painful. Putting bandages on? Very painful. Letting just about anything of any weight, like clothing, touch the wound? Very painful. Applying antibiotic ointment or spray? Very, very painful. I can't even imagine what it would be like to have serious road rash over a large portion of your body. Even the bit of road rash that I have makes me quite serious about wearing motorcycle safety clothing if I were to ever ride a motorcycle. I can't imagine what it would be like to have road rash all over my back or arms.
Sarah and I drove up near Baraboo yesterday where we picked about thirty-five pounds of strawberries and about five pounds of peas at a pick-your-own farm. The strawberries we got this year were really nice: big, red, and perfectly ripe. Saturday afternoon we spent hours making and preserving strawberry jam, freezing quart bags of chopped and whole strawberries, and drying strawberries in fruit leather form. It's a hassle, but it means that we don't ever need to buy jelly or jam at the grocery story and we know exactly where the fruit that went into it came from. In addition, homemade jam made out of local fruit picked at the peak of ripeness always tastes better than the stuff that Smuckers and Co. stuff into their jars. The kitchen is always a mess of red juice and whatnot when we're done but the results are definitely worth it.
This afternoon we put the bikes on the back of the car and drove down to New Glarus so that we could ride twenty or so miles on the Sugar River Trail. We tried riding this trail last year on our long-distance road bikes with skinny tires and the results were less than ideal. The Sugar River Trail is covered in very soft gravel in spots and is quite slick with moss and wetness in others. In between, the trail is a packed, crushed limestone. We struggled to stay upright and in motion on the deep patches of soft gravel and did our best to keep our tires from sliding out from underneath us on the slick sections of the trail. It didn't take long for Sarah's bike to lose friction under a tire and drop her hard to the ground.
Determined not to make that our last experience with the Sugar River Trail, we gave it another go this year. We brought our bikes with wide road tires and mountain bike frames and had a much, much better ride. We rode a bit over twenty miles and enjoyed the scenery even though the weather was a bit warm. We both made it out and back without taking a digger.
The wheat beer I started a month or so ago should be ready for drinking by now but it seems quite reluctant to carbonate. I tried a bottle on Thursday night, and it was completely flat. I thought the basement would be warm enough for the yeast to carbonate the beer at this time of year, but apparently I was wrong. So, I've got nearly fifty bottles of beer stacked up in the office (where the temps. are much warmer) in an attempt to get those lazy yeasties off their keisters and churning out carbon dioxide. The beer tastes good, but without carbonation it isn't much fun to drink.
The house wren in our backyard is still singing his heart out and looking for a mate. It would be nice if a female wren answered his call so that the pair would return next year. The house sparrows that built a nest near our patio have at least two nestlings that they're feeding. It's likely that I'll try to do something to that house when they've moved on to discourage them from coming back next year.