Reel beach hanging muster mansion broccoli OF STEEL

We went to the beach for Memorial Day weekend, and Lydia had a great time charging into the freezing cold water over and over again, and jumping over the waves. Jumping over the waves requires an adult behind her, arms in her armpits, counting one two THREE and bouncing her into the air, then grimacing as the frigid salt water slaps you in the thighs. Why am I complaining? It was a wonderful time. Oh, yeah, I remember why I was complaining: it was COLD! But it was still really great.

Being at the beach made me I realize that a BMW sidecar outfit is awesome, but it is not the ultimate Family Fun vehicle. It is, of course, the ultimate “ride around with your german shepherd in doggles and a red bandanna” vehicle, but priorities change, and so I’m considering selling the BMW and getting something appropriate to this season of life — something where the whole family can ride around and talk to each other. Maybe to Highland Orchards or Dairy Queen, without burning five gallons of high-octane SUV fuel. And it should let you know you’re outside; modern convertibles are too optimized to reduce wind buffet. My old 1977 Land Cruiser FJ40 was a wonderful, awesome ride, but at 11MPG, I can’t justify getting another one. Plus, SUVs make people angry. Be honest, what emotion builds in your heart when you see Fratty Fratterson riding around in a jeep with a backwards hat and a fire extinguisher on the rollcage? God knows there’s enough rage out there, so an uber-jeep is out. And it should be cheap to buy, and easy(ish) to wrench on. So, given my priorities:

  • Fun and open to the elements;
  • Inexpensive, good gas mileage;
  • Does not foster rage in self or others

…that pretty much narrows it down to a 1970s Volkswagen Thing, or its French cousin, a 1970s Citroen Mehari:

You can either say “Citroen Mehari” with an American accent, or one hell of a French one: ‘see-troy-‘EH me-‘EARRH-eeeee’ (Gallic shrug)

The Mehari is to the 2CV as the Thing is to the Beetle, so parts are (apparently) not that hard to come by. Plus, CAPTAIN HADDOCK IS PICTURED DRIVING A MEHARI in various Tintin books, so really what more do you want? I just have to convince myself that when people see a Mehari, they will file it under “ooh, what’s that, cool!” and not “YOU GODDAMN HIPSTERS WITH YOUR PROTO-SUV IMPORTS I WILL BURN YOUR COFFEE SHOP TO THE GROUND.” Damn, I guess I spent too much time walking past the Hamptons-bound antique Land Rover set at Cafe Gitane when I lived in NYC. Anyhow, fun summertime car, no rage, will start saving up.

The news at home: Kate and I have been harvesting broccoli from the garden and eating it, and it is really good. It’s a little odd to be eating FOOD that our LAWN made, but when the broccoli actually tastes good, you feel relieved and hopeful that you might be able to live healthy one day. “Oh, I actually LIKE this stuff! Wow!” Kate sewed a really cool tablecloth for the table out back, and I (for my part) hauled the table out of the basement. Kate and I didn’t even get our outdoor furniture out of storage last summer. Neither of us knows why; we think maybe we were recuperating from the first two years of being a parent, or something. Kate’s having a friend over for lunch today, so we stopped by Waterloo Gardens and got some hanging plants for the porch (and I got out the wading pool and fixed the little internal sprinkler thingy.) However, we apparently angered the gods with our preparedness, and so now it’s raining cats and dogs outside.

This is getting long, so I’ll type faster: Kate and I are now gripped by a Playmobil obsession; Kate came back from the toy store on Friday with a Playmobil flower shop, and it was SO COOL that we ran right out on Saturday and came back as the new owners of a dollhouse that looks an awful lot like Marlinspike:

Kate and I spent two hours snapping together its little Teutonic parts, which were satisfyingly and efficiently designed, ja? and now we’re drooling over the catalog. It’s like the Second Coming of Fisher-Price Adventure People.

Almost done with the blog backlog here: yesterday, Kate, Lydia, and I went to the second annual Firefighter’s Muster in West Chester, which reminded me a little bit of a mesmerizing game show I watched on TV in Texas as a young kid. Firefighters had to use leaky buckets to fill a leaky 55-gallon drum, and run up and down ladders wearing full regalia, and man does that look hard. I think it’s also really important to come out and cheer, since isn’t a big part of the draw of being a volunteer firefighter to be generally awesome and heroic? So as a citizen, it’s incumbent upon us to come out and be suitably impressed. I’m not being sarcastic, either — climbing up a three-story ladder in forty-pound pants while carrying a giant, steel-tipped, pointy stick is nothing to sneeze at. For several reasons, including good rasons like “if you sneeze, you might drop the axe on your buddy holding the ladder.”

Also, where else in modern life do you still see Napoleonic heraldry in daily use?
Act cool! I think some girls are looking at us!
The big leather crests on the front of the firefighter’s helmets should be laughable, but they’re totally not, in context. Come to think of it, I suppose firefighters wear ten-inch leather crests on their helmets for the same reason that nineteenth-century soldiers wore two-foot bearskin shakoes — so you can tell who’s who when everything’s smoky and confusing. Wow, that’s pretty kickass that someone still has a good reason to wear that stuff that does NOT involve sacking villages and commandeering livestock.

Our neighborhood’s fire company, First West Chester, had obviously been practicing for the event. Station 51, which is right around the corner, kicked the asses of the other companies in attendance, just like last year. Hurrah for station 51! Plus, Kate heard them yelling “LEEROY JENKINS!” before charging towards the ladder in the “carry a whole bunch of heavy, pointy stuff up a ladder to the top of the parking garage and back” competition. I wish I had more opportunities to wear a cool uniform and shout “Leeroy Jenkins.” before running somewhere.

Oh, we got a reel mower from Sears — so far, the verdict is: COMPLETELY GREAT, since now one of us can mow the lawn while everyone else is also outside, holding a freaking conversation, instead of cowering indoors watching Angelina Ballerina and waiting for me to finish. So there’s my chance, I guess: I’ll simply need to create a Reel Mowing Uniform, and charge up and down the lawn, shouting my battle cry. My shako will be in the shape of a stalk of broccoli. This is gonna be utterly heroic.

This post is long enough, so I’ll save the part about how I’m using a sixteen-year-old VHS tape to get a cyborg midriff for later.

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