14. April 2006 · Comments Off on Thoughts of Summer · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, Pajama Game

This posting is brought to you live from The Patio, my second home during the warmer months. Some 20 by twenty-five feet, screened on all but the side that adjoins the house, and with a view of the south end of my dominion, it is indeed a nice summer hangout – topped off with wireless internet and a stereo. Just to the east is a fifteen-foot square concrete pad for the smoker and grill, with an adjacent smallish shed that houses the freezer, golf clubs, etc. The previous occupant kept a hot tub in the shed, which she offered to sell to us at a reasonable price when we bought the house in ‘94. I am not a hot tub person, but Real Wife thought it would be splendid indulgence. That was until said previous occupant, a dowager well into her seventies, confided to us with a sly grin that she and a few of her friends from the local dowager club enjoyed spending time with hot toddies in the hot tub together – nude. Real Wife and I agreed that we simply could never bring ourselves to use it with those images in our mind. I still have nightmares.

The temperature the past two days has risen to the mid-eighties for the first time this year, and the sound of lawn mowers is everywhere. We have two areas in our yard that are proliferate with bluebells right now. They are a mystery to me – a wild flower that is native to England (and there a protected species at that), and with apparently no others in our area (at least that I have seen). Every year though, they take over a couple of areas in our yard that are normally grass. After about 3-4 weeks they die off, I mow them over, and they are not to be seen until the next spring.

The kid gangs are again active in the neighborhood. Our yard seems to be at a nexus of homes that have lots of kids – there is a constant stream of them travelling here and there, with baseballs, bats, bicycles, and all of the other hardware required at that point in their lives. Most of the kids are now at an age where we parents allow them to range further from home. Red Haired Girl related their grand adventure of last weekend – going to the lumberyard to buy a piece of plastic pipe (for what purpose I do not have a clue, but it must have been important). Several of them, ranging in age from eight to twelve, descended upon Homestead Lumber not unlike Spanky and his gang would have done sixty or so years ago. In addition to the piece of pipe, they discovered that John, the owner, keeps a popcorn machine from which the patrons are free to take a bag. This, and the availability of a soft drink machine, earned Homestead the coveted four stars in the kid’s version of the Michelin Guide. Life’s simple pleasures.

We will be re-opening the community pool soon. Having been elected to our park board last year, I am on the pool, buildings and grounds committee. In a small town such as ours of less than three thousand souls, being a park board commissioner involves not just making “important decisions”, but also doing the actual labor involved (one perk though – free family pool membership). We are blessed by virtue of having had an early resident of our town donate many hundreds of acres to the community, including about 75% of the frontage to a local fourteen acre lake, most of which (except for the timber) is kept mowed. In addition to the pool, we have recently improved two ball diamonds, and have a campground with about 20 sites near the lake. For years we have leased ground to a both a golf and a saddle club, who in turn have constructed a very nice nine-hole course and a stable/riding area that hosts several events each year. My personal project this year is to apply for a $200,000 grant from the Illinois DNR to pave the road that leads to the boat ramp, build a concrete boat ramp, and a new dock with benches for fishing. I have been working with the local game warden to get a state biologist to shock the lake to do a fish survey and have it restocked for the first time in a few decades. All for the sake of summer, but worth every bit of effort.

As I write this I am tending pork ribs and a roast being slowly smoked with apple and plum wood (always strip the bark off first!). Real Wife gets severe indigestion from tomato-based barbecue sauce, so I am trying a new recipe that uses a rub of various spices along with prepared mustard, and basted throughout with apple juice. Timmer, you left on your PCS a couple of days too soon, else you could have taken an hour and a half detour south from I-80 and enjoyed some BBQ and very cold beer. Did I mention that the Official Rules of The Patio require that “… at all times when the ambient temperature, as indicated on the Sweetlix Dried Molasses (for better doin’ livestock) thermometer, reach or exceed 80 degrees F (26.67 C), all beer is to be maintained in a cooler, with an amount of ice sufficient to maintain the beer at an extremely cold temperature.” As a publicly elected official of the local park board, I am duty bound by oath and constitution to follow these rules with precision.


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