Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Marla Gibbs to the Rescue

This entry has two parts--commentary on going to a play and a description of what happened after.
As part of our trip to KC, we had tickets for the New Theatre's presentation of Neil Simon's Proposals, starring Marla Gibbs, who played Florence, the housekeeper on The Jeffersons, a popular TV show some years ago (a spinoff from All in the Family).
It was a great play, funny and touching, and Gibbs played a sassy housekeeper much like her Jefferson's character. The writing was sharp and witty, and the characters were interesting and played well by the talented actors.
Now to part two. We had had some trouble with the car overheating on this hot day, and we parked it in the parking lot knowing there might be a problem to deal with later. So, after the play we walked over to a nearby discount store and bought some coolant and walked back. As we walked by the theatre, the actors were just leaving. First we saw Josh Stein-Sapir and Jennifer Mays, and then we saw Marla Gibbs go by in her car. We walked on to the dark parking lot where our car was the only one still there, and we saw Gibbs' car drive up as we were tending to the car (the hood was up). She asked if all was well, and the wife (a one-time Jeffersons watcher) said that it was. Gibbs drove to the other side of the parking lot and stayed there for a time with another car. A few minutes later we were finishing up and she came by again. Smiling and generous, she asked again if all was well, and we told her it was and thanked her again for her great performance. It was cool, and we had no more trouble with the car. Thanks, Marla!
The pic below is the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Please Respect Our Spider

I hesitate to write about my latest activity, since the wife and I went to KC and didn't call our friends M and KK and our other friends C and RB were also there (though we didn't find our until we had left).
It was an anniversary trip, though, so we kept to ourselves and zipped all over town and saw all sorts of things, which I might mention later. I'm posting a few pics of the Crying Giant and the Spider at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. Great stuff there.
We also saw a play, heard some jazz, had some great barbeque, shopped, met a famous person who turned out to be very nice, relaxed, drove all over KC, had car trouble, had our first martini each, saw great art, and watched a little cable TV (since we don't have cable at home), saw our first opera ever (put on by The Kansas City Puccini Festival at the Folly Theatre) and enjoyed our stay at the Hotel Phillips, right downtown.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cottonwood Bandellero

Every street urchin worth his salt in my day knew that late May/early June meant they could count on a plentiful supply of ammunition. Who doesn't see this photo and recognize the ballistic potential?
Now it's more likely I think of the shade possibilities in every seed pod, or anticipate the millions of cottonballs floating through the air as the mature seeds drift from the tree. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A Taste for Tiffany

JC Penney was having a big sale on lights, and we were in the market, so the wife came home with a Tiffany lamp for one-fourth the cost of the original. After some redesigning, it now hangs in our dining room, with a few parts left over. Posted by Picasa

Must Have Been the Puppy Chow?

Renovations are going on outside Beadle Hall in the sidewalk department. The scene reminded me of the commercial for Puppy Chow where the little doggie is so energized that in taking off he piles up slabs of concrete. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Do-It-Yourself Backyard Baby Swing Project

Necessary Ingredients:
  • A crying baby insistent on being in motion.
  • A car seat with a carrying handle.
  • A stout branch of a lilac bush.
  • A short length of rope.
  • Several ingenious but thirsty men.
  • An innocent bystander, camera optional.
  • An absent mother.
  • Adult beverages.
Apply rope to branch, car seat, and hand.
Put hand in motion.
Enjoy beverages.
Prepare for mother's return.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Imaginary Chickencoops and Houses

Sometimes things don't turn out like you plan. Charlie Sawen worked his place for years, and he built his house by hand, as far as it got. He never finished it, though, and he never quite got to the chicken coop that he planned. So, all those rocks he piled up for the project just ended up sitting there, shaded more and more by the spreading cedar tree, and Sunday the wife and I loaded up some of the smaller rocks to use in the back yard.
Maybe it's some tribute that we both knew that the rocks were once destined for another project, a gentle reminder that plans often go awry, don't get finished, get set aside. Now the old house too is slated for being burned, a threat to people who ignore the "keep out" signs and the trees growing in the entryway.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Drinking in the Schade

A trip up to Brookings yesterday with TQ to buy a bike (a nice Trek 7100, by the way), and on the way back we stopped at one of South Dakota's few wineries, the Schade Vineyard, just west of Volga. I tasted several great wines, most of them somewhat sweet and fruity, but all of them very good. The owner, Nancy Schade, opened the winery with her husband Jim after SD changed their laws forbidding wineries. Restrictive laws still prevent them from shipping in-state, but they can deliver, and I think you can order online. Their site includes a short video and a link to more information about growing grapes here in the upper midwest. Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 19, 2006

100 Posts and Counting

Looking back over the posts that I've put up here, trying out the blogger medium, I can see that it's some insight into the value of small town life that I try to show, in part. I did want to avoid taking sides on politics, foisting one view over another, and that's a goal this blog meets. There's enough of those out there. I say a little bit about my academic and pedagogical interests, but only the surface of them. I like being able to offer some information about my family and friends and some of the traveling and visiting the wife and I do. But mostly I enjoy sharing some small observations about nature and the everyday, just keeping a window open to the joy of living.
I had my students keep a blog about their research projects in one of my courses, but they didn't like it very much, partly because it seemed to them they were keeping it in a vaccum, not enough feedback.
There's not a lot of feedback here either, but enough to keep me going, and I like doing it for the sake of putting something out there, and it keeps me coming back to the keyboard, not a bad thing.
Anyway, thanks to those of you who seem to be watching. We'll see what happens as the next hundred posts come down the pike.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Pocket Opera in San Francisco

Out here in the middle of everything (and nothing) we're still aware of what's going on in the world, as much as anyone, so while I was enjoying a banana and taking a break from grading papers, I did a quick search for the Pocket Opera that my brother is production manager for. And here it is! Donald Pippin's Pocket Opera. Cool. Sounds like it would be fun to see, especially since you wouldn't need the libretto for the translation, since it's all in English.

No Chinese opera, alas, with wild acrobatics and strange music, which the wife and I saw in Shanghai. That's been my only opera experience.

Beadle Hall Looking Good

The two big lilac bushes in front of Beadle Hall are blooming, and strolling between them to the building is as much of a rush as any narcotic. Someone has placed a park bench there beneath the blossoms for those who have world enough and time. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Plenty of New Tricks

After getting the poems, stories, photos, and drawings, we selected the works, arranged them, set them in a template, wrote an introduction, and hauled them off to the printer here at DSU. They delivered the booklet just like we wanted, and it's all paid for, courtesy of generous donations from faculty and staff. New Tricks 2006, the 125th anniversary issue. Cool. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 14, 2006

To Mom

On Mother's Day it's always a good idea to pay some kind of tribute to your mom. I just got off the phone with mine, who raised ten good kids on a shoestring budget and managed to create a family of artistic and creative people. I have one brother who's an actor (now a production manager for pocket opera, a sister who creates beautiful clothes and other things with her sewing machine (when she's not nursing), a brother who can build any structure you like, a sister who teaches and creates art in Nashville, a brother who plays in a gospel bluegrass band in Hot Springs (when he's not being a fireman or working on the cabin he built in the Black Hills), a sister who plays guitar and paints (when she's not working as an occupational therapist), two brothers who have been playing in bands and otherwise working in Boise, Idaho (previously mentioned here), and a brother who's a potter and creates designs for Heath Ceramics.
So who's your momma? Mine still sings publicly, both as a part of a barbershop choir and as a soloist, and her manic piano-playing still lingers in all of her childrens' minds. She encouraged us all by enjoying and playing music and creating art, and we were left to our own devices, thinking of the world as a stage for our skills and voices. Thanks, Mom.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Another Busy Week

This week kept throwing me curve balls and though I kept swinging, it wasn't always clear which were strikes and which were hits. Tabloids came in for the Chautauqua, evening events came up on Wednesday and Friday, graduation is today, one of my final exams was botched up on WebCT (leading to some grumpy students), my application for promotion and tenure was granted, more rejected poems came back, a woman called me "Mr. Chautauqua," free mochas came my way, final projects came in, meetings gobbled up several hours, the wife and I completed the 2006 edition of New Tricks, and my grading of final projects is moving along slowly. I'll be glad to get through this next few days and enjoy some summertime.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Scholarship Car Show Photos Now Online

Follow this link to see the cool cars that showed up for the Scholarship Car Show, held last Friday, May5, raising over 2500 bucks for the Eric Johnson Scholarship, enough so that it's endowed and can be awarded to a deserving student.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Big Sky Running Back

Big news! Here's a cloud that looks a lot like the Heisman Trophy guy. Here he is, stiff-arming those other puffy tacklers as he drifts into the clear, sprinting into the open blue. Doesn't that make you want to cheer?
On a related note, a band that has come up in conversation and on Pandora is Plastic Cloud. Ever heard of them? 60's psychadelic cool.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Baby Bird Update

The little baby bird (a grackle--but he got a second chance at life anyway) had a harrowing tale to tell, so here's audio coverage of his return to the nest. I suspect having the human hand and the iRiver enter the tree contributed to the somewhat emphatic nature of the commentary. Posted by Picasa

More News from the Small Town

Yesterday Barbaro ran away from the field in the Kentucky Derby as millions of people watched, and in Madison a small bird fell from its nest and a human being found it, located the nesting spot in a hole in a tree nearby, and placed it back in the nest. Which is more noteworthy?
On the one hand the media helps us see what happens in the world, but if we keep our eyes open, events worthy of our attention, even the sun going down like it does every day, are handed to us again and again.
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Saturday, May 06, 2006

First on the Lot

Because its owner was the lot manager for the Scholarship Car Show (2nd annual), the dune buggy was first on the lot, and it ended up garnering a few bucks during the cash voting, even with a host of other much better-looking cars. Once a page with the photos of other cars is available, I'll post it. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Dune Buggy Rides Again

Left cooped up in a Ramona barn until this week, the dune buggy is ready to ride again, just in time for the Scholarship Car Show tomorrow. There will be good cars there. Last year a local guy brought his 1956 Thunderbird, some guys from Mitchell brought some rat rods, and several people brought their great Corvettes.
And afterwards, there will be the pleasure of cruising around town, the wind in my remaining hair, six-year-olds bugging their eyes out, shouting, "cool car!" What do the muscle car guys know? Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Spring Doing What It Does

If you pay attention to the world going on around you, it's always clear that something is afoot that has nothing to do with you, only the world doing its own business, which produces flowers and scents and grass and beauty that pictures can't capture, even though we might try.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

A Sign that You're in Ramona, SD

Sure, it's sometimes nice to know exactly when a store is going to be open, but it's also refreshing to realize that some store owners don't give a rat's tooth about packing their pockets.
The sign here indicates the level of hustle and bustle, the scramble for a buck that occurs in downtown Ramona.

Scenery that Blows By

Nothing special, nothing spectacular, just the end of an everyday--the view from our house.

Clouds Part, Sun Shines

After several days of clouds and rain, the sky cleared up this afternoon and the sun actually came out and warmed up life in Madison before the day ended. Reports tonight indicate that it was one of the wettest Aprils on record here, with over six inches of moisture.
So, we headed up to Ramona hoping to enjoy two-for-one hamburgers at the cafe, but it was closed. However, a trip to Auntie's farm produced two quarts of homemade tomato juice, a look at the new garden guarded by the big R, and the dune buggy, which started right up and ran fine after sitting all winter. Vroom! Spring is here.