Another Memorial Day weekend has come and gone. It seems like we just got started with 2012 and we're already almost halfway through it.
We had a very busy weeekend. The weather was hot all weekend. Sunday was our first day to turn the air conditioning on this year but fortunately Saturday and Monday were just run-of-the-mill (for July) hot.
We started our weekend by going to the Farmer's Market. The weather was pretty nasty with spitting rain and strong winds, so there weren't too many other people at the market. As a result of the light turnout, we got our first basket of local strawberries for the season even though we were later than usual. Normally those strawberries would have been gone by the time we got there since just one vendor had them for sale. We also got our first kohlrabi and sugar snap peas of the season. The market is definitely underway for real now.
After breakfast we stopped by a garage sale in town. While we bought Dinah a nice little pile of clothes, Garrison played with two kids from the family holding the sale. They had fun climbing in, out, and on top of a dog-loo (a dog house shaped like an igloo) that the family was selling.
Next on the agenda was some lawn mower shopping. The Craftsman mower we bought five or so years ago needed a ring job to stay alive and since that would cost almost twice as much as a new mower, we found ourselves in the market for a mower again. The new mower would be our fourth in a little less than nine years of home ownership. Clearly we haven't had good luck with mowers.
The reel mower we bought initially was sold after we discovered that it worked best on small, perfectly manicured, homogeneous lawns (three concepts that will never be applied to our lawn). We then bought a Yard Machines or an MTD-branded mower (they're made by the same company but I don't remember which brand was on the mower) from Menards. That was a mistake as it was the typical junk you find at Menards. That one didn't even last one season. We then bought the Craftsman from Sears. With regular maintenance it lasted until late last season. I gave it an oil change to start the season and sharpened the blade but after just one mowing the oil was already black and the engine was chugging. A trip to a small engine repair business confirmed the worst.
Earlier in the week we had borrowed a rechargeable, cordless electric mower from a neighbor to see how it would do on our lawn. It did OK, though it wasn't quite able to cut the whole thing in one charge. We did like the easy, no-pull start and the relative quiet of the mower when it was running. We also liked the zero-maintenance nature of the device. After visiting Home Depot where we found nothing interesting, we stopped by a local power equipment dealer. As Sarah later said, "That was a real lawn mower store." While there we found a good price on a Toro cordless, rechargeable mower so we bought it. We haven't done a complete lawn mowing with it yet, but we did finish up the job that we had started with the neighbor's mower. If anything, the Toro is even quieter than the Black & Decker we borrowed. It will be interesting to see if the Toro mower can do the whole lawn in one charge or not.
With the new mower settled in the back of van it was off to Bratfest.Brat Fest is always held over Memorial Day weekend, and we try to make it a point to stop by and have a few brats once during the festival. Garrison always enjoys the brats there, while Sarah and I enjoy the brats and the roasted corn. Dinah enjoyed a nap this year. I was impressed that Garrison ate a complete brat, with bun. That's a lot of sausage for one little guy. While there we all had milk from a local dairy. They were out of chocolate, so we got one bottle of strawberry and two bottles of plain 2%. Garrison was initially skeptical of the strawberry (especially because he was still bitter that they were out of chocolate milk), but once he tried it he was a convert. We ended up bringing the remainder home where he nursed it along through two more meals.
After Brat Fest it was home for naps for the kids. While they were sleeping (or not) we got some meatloaf made on the grill.
Sunday was a hot and humid day. Garrison and I visited a local store in the morning to purchase a GPS unit that I'd been eyeing for sixth months or so. When it went on a good sale we finally decided to buy it. After that, we stopped at a garden center where Garrison wanted to buy a Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) while I wanted to get some cocoa mulch, potting soil, and marigolds.
We spent most of the day after that around the house putting in our vegetable gardens for the year. This year we're growing tomatoes (several varieties), broccoli, parsley, basil, cucumbers, eggplant, dill, green peppers, pumpkins, and carrots. The carrots were Garrison's special request. We haven't had good luck growing them in the past so it will be interesting to see how we do this time around. Garrison and Sarah planted the Jack-in-the-Pulpit in our backyard where it will get plenty of shade.
Garrison did play in a kiddie pool with one of the neighbor kids once it got really hot out. We had take-out pizza for dinner because we didn't feel like cooking or heating up the kitchen.
Monday we decided to get out of town and try to take a road trip. We packed a picnic lunch, swimsuits, beach toys, sunscreen, towels, water, and the fourteen-hundred other things you need to take two kids to the beach and drove forty-five minutes to the north shore of Devil's Lake State Park. Garrison was really excited to get into the water and show off how much he's learned from going to swimming lessons every week. The only problem was that the water was, predictably, cold this early in the season. While Garrison and Sarah went into the water, Dinah and I sat on the picnic blanket along the shore. About the time that Sarah and I switched kids, I noticed that Garrison's teeth were chattering, so I encouraged him to join us on the shore for a warm-up. Once he was out of the water, the strong wind coming off the lake made him even colder so we wrapped him in a towel and held him for a few minutes. Then, the skies started to rain on us. We were in the midst of changing Garrison back into dry clothes (to warm up) when the rain started coming down, of course. We quickly finished that job, but by the time we were done the rain had stopped. Regardless, it was time for lunch. We took our blanket to an area sheltered from the wind and ate our picnic lunch. Garrison and I went into the general store to see if they had any popcorn (something he and I both remembered getting the last time we visited Devil's Lake) while Sarah nursed Dinah. The popcorn shack hadn't opened yet for the season (bad) so we ended up with a bag of cheese popcorn (good). That led to very orange hands and a cheese popcorn mustache and beard on Garrison.
After lunch, and a few more threats of rain, Garrison and I played "football" with a small vinyl football while Sarah and Dinah watched. Then the winds came up, some more rain came down, and we headed for the van. Along the way, the rain stopped and Garrison played "soccer" with another toddler until they ran face-first into each other and both broke down crying.
Once we had everyone in the van, we made the decision to take the Merrimac Ferry home instead of using a bridge to cross the Wisconsin River. There is usually a wait when traveling southbound, but you can watch the ferry, the river, and the other passengers so we weren't too worried about how we might spend the time waiting. As it turned out, a local church was having a brat sale next to the ferry landing (smart people), so we bought three brats and ate them while waiting for our turn to take the ferry. Garrison was fascinated by the ferry and he enjoyed telling everyone who would stand still long enough what the cables that guide the ferry were for (even if he wasn't completely clear on the concept himself).
While waiting for the ferry we watched some fishermen pull in some small bluegills and now Garrison really wants to go fishing during Wisconsin's free fishing weekend. He might be disappointed in just how unsuccessful Sarah and I are as fishermen.
After getting across the river, we were quietly shocked when both kids fell asleep in the back of the van! We found a new Dunkin' Donuts along our route home (the world's slowest Dunkin' Donuts is in Waunakee; nice people, but slow, slow service) so Sarah and I enjoyed some peace and quiet for twenty-five minutes along with our coffee.
All in all, we had a very full but fun Memorial Day weekend.
There are some new photos up in the photo gallery for those of you who are interested.