Monday, April 5, 2010

Rites (Rights?) of Spring

After a long winter, the recent unseasonable warmth is a welcomed opportunity to repair damage of the past months and to clean up the yard and garden. First on my list were fixing damaged gutters and a leaking porch roof. Both problems showed up during the second snow storm - ice dams and heavy accumulation caused real problems and a mess. Over the past couple weeks the gutters (which were fairly new) have been straightened and reinforced. Snow breaks (snow birds) installed on the upper roof will hopefully prevent a repeat. Yeah, I know, we probably won't have another winter like this for years, but it is fairly cheap insurance. Have a few more breaks to install on a couple porch roofs... then that job is done.
Also repaired and sealed flashing that the sliding ice had peeled up allowing seepage into one wall. Some stains on an exterior wall, but the big damage was inside... again in a recently remodeled half bath. A few water stains, a bit of bubbled plaster, and a couple floor tiles were damaged. These warm days with little chance of rain allowed me to put waterproofing rubber-coat on a flat porch roof that had leaked under the heavy snow causing damage to the tongue and groove ceiling below. After curing, I'll put on a second coat... the five gallons would probably allow even a third.
Saturday was a day of plowing, cleaning up the yard, and readying all the equipment (toys?) of modern yard maintenance. Tiller, mower, and tractor all got oil changes and a general cleaning and lube job. Then my daughter got home with a request to change the oil in her car... glad to oblige as I was already a grease monkey. In between there was the first breaking of the garden soil, some mulching, and mowing of those high, lush areas that always get a jump start on the rest of the yard. I burned small limbs and sticks in our campfire ring, but as always, please be careful whenever burning. Remember state law forbids burning of brush piles, etc. before 4:00 PM. All this yard work is good stuff and good for you!
In between all that, I fixed eastern Carolina-style pulled pork BBQ since the kids would be home for dinner. I have a fine vinegar-based recipe and I've got the process down pat. Smoked on a plank on the grill and finished off in the crock pot so it has that smoke flavor but stays very moist... and doesn't need too much attention in between. With slaw, more sauce, all the sides it was some good eatin'. Only downer were the gnats that attacked at the picnic table. The winds had dropped, plus there are predictions that the wet weather of the past couple months will mean an abundance of mosquitos and other bugs. The little devils were certainly robust on Saturday night.
Sunday was a top down sort of day, so we headed out for a cruise on back roads and a bit of geocaching. Absolutely beautiful... blossoms, first hints of leaves popping out, and folks in their yards working on projects or hanging with friends.
Okay, all those activities aren't so unique... something similar was probably repeated in many Shenandoah Valley homes with weather this nice. But, among the rights of spring is a rebirth of political activity in the area. Staunton and some other cities have May elections. So far not much news coverage, but that should change over the next couple of weeks. I guess separating local elections from state/national elections makes some sense, but at the cost of less attention and low turnout.
At JMU and other colleges, April 5-9 will witness an empty holster protest to highlight their opposition to policies that ban concealed weapons on campuses. That is a singularly bad idea - a combustible mixture of youth, guns, and alcohol in a setting where weapons could more easily fall in the wrong hands. I admire your peaceful protest, but college policies banning guns on campus should not be changed. To do so would endanger more people than it would protect. All this at the same time that budget cuts mean longer waits for the background check required to buy a firearm.
And a thoughtful counterweight to the Tea Parties has emerged and seems to be gaining strength - The Coffee Party USA. With a motto of "Wake Up and Stand Up" the organization is pushing civil conversation and consensus building to address community and national problems. Annabel Park, a founder of the movement, is visiting UVA to assist students who are starting a chapter. Quite a contrast to the yelling, screaming, and racism of many tea party types. We'll have to see if calm and reason can trump shouting and fear.

1 comment:

Tamara said...

Most of these things are on my spring to-do list as well. Unfortunately, neither one of us are as handy as you appear to be. Ah, well...just another blogger from the Valley stopping by for what I think is my second or third visit after stumbling here from heaven-knows-where. I enjoyed it, again.