Summer Ale

There are days when I can't see the end of the TODO list. Patch the laptops; add SSL to Postfix, to try and keep the NSA away for one more year; take down the recycling, and the composting, and the garbage; take the empties back to Safeway; pick up the caulking for the bathtup, and a switchplate to replace the one the kids broke. Oh, and we're going to the in-laws too (they live just across town and they're wonderful, generous, loving people, so that is in no way a complaint). I wanted to brew, so I have to pick out a recipe and then some ingredients. I want to go out with the scope, so I need to pick some targets. And it's Saturday, so I'm taking the kids out for the morning (again, not a complaint).

In the middle of that, having to play with Eli, my younger son, can seem like a chore, like something that's taking away from The Things that Have to be Done. He senses that, too; he's five but he's no idiot. I'm mad, but I've got a secret weapon: while we were out this morning buying donuts (one each; their money, their afternoon treat) I bought myself a 10X magnifying glass (a loupe, basically). Now's the time to take it out. Sitting down on the front step, I see a sowbug exoskeleton. I pick it up, put it under the loupe and look. "Oh, wow."

"What is it?" He's cautious, but interested; he's pretty much over a phase where he was Not Interested in the things I wanted to show him. That was probably my fault as much as his. I wanted to show him things, all the wonders of the universe, and at some point he had enough, and he didn't hesitate to tell me so. We're both stubborn, a fact my parents grinned at knowingly when they were visiting a few weeks ago. At the time, Eli and I spent a certain amount of time glaring at each other. But now, he's watching me squat ungracefully on the sidewalk, trying to see what I see.

"It's a dead sowbug. Have a look."

He does, and it's cool, it's interesting. We look for other things: snails, ants, crystal rocks (defined as anything shiny). Eventually his brother comes home and they run upstairs to play together.

Later on I bribe him into helping me take back the empties to Safeway by promising him the deposit. On our way back we find a caterpillar on the sidewalk. He's yellow and black and fuzzy and looks like a toothbrush. We take him home, picking leaves from random trees along the way so he'll have something to east. One of the leaves we pick has the ladybug equivalent of a cocoon on it, and we decide that we should watch for it to hatch.

An hour later, I look at the leaves and realize the ladybug has hatched -- and there it is, bright yellow and looking like a tiny lemon. I call Eli over and we stare at it. There are no spots on it; they come in later, I explain, and Eli says "Huh!" in that way he has when he's actually interested in something. An hour after that we check again. The ladybug has spread its wings to dry, and its shell is showing a couple of green spots.

Despite the desperation, shit got done. The recycling went down. The cat did not vomit on the floor. I got an SSL certificate for the mail server. I watched a movie with my wife and kids. I picked up the ingredients for my next homebrew, a summer ale, and it's mashing now; it'll sit overnight, waiting for me to finish it tomorrow.