Thursday, August 25, 2011

Adele, Thanks to Al

My vacation days for the year are winding down as is my birthday. I've had some nice time off this summer but this past week has been just so-so. I picked up a head-cold on Monday and have been fighting it since. I can't recall the last time I was sick like this in August.

We had four hours of bench time scheduled at Foci this morning that we had to cancel. I didn't feel right about going in there and spreading germs through the blowpipes. I don't know of anybody who sanitizes them and unless you've got your own (which we don't) you take your chances with the shop pipes. I suppose it's possible that it's where I picked up this bug in the first place.

We continue to make steady progress at Foci. We're still just scratching the surface as we acquire the basic skills but we can see improvements from month to month. I started a set on Flickr where I'm uploading photos of our work and sequencing them in order from newest to oldest so we'll be able to see the progression over time a little more easily. Most of the pieces in the set are from the last six weeks or so. Our early, primitive stuff isn't in there.

We brought Rachel back to Rochester Tuesday afternoon to begin her sophomore year at the University of Minnesota, Rochester (UMR). I think she's had a nice summer with us but she's been chomping at the bit to resume the life she'd put on hold last spring. We're happy for her but Tammy was still a little melancholy a few days later, missing her presence. But unlike last year there were no tears during our goodbyes; in fact, I think she was happy for us to leave. It's just a guess but there may have been some plans in the works for her to entertain a few of her friends in her new digs after we left. Who could fault her?

I was disappointed a few weeks ago when Adele tickets went on sale because even though I was online trying to purchase them the second they went on sale, I was left without. I'd even tried to score a single ticket but that too was fruitless. I'd posted a status update to Facebook the night before the concert expressing my disappointment that I wouldn't be attending. My friend Al saw my post and suggested that I try again to see if tickets had become available. That wasn't something I'd considered. I wasn't interested in going through a second party and paying an inflated price. Al said that "Tickets are often held for the performers, promoters, etc. and if they don't all get used, they are put back on sale." What did I have to lose? I called around 10:00 the day of the show but there was still nothing. I tried again around 2:00 and got a nice surprise! I snagged two tickets on the left side of the stage 3 rows up from the floor. They were actually very nice seats.

Tammy isn't as much a fan as I am of Adele but she was excited to go. We went for dinner at Cossetta's and stood in line for a half-hour before getting our food and finding seats. Cossetta's is worth the wait and that's the reason for the line.

The opening act was Wanda Jackson who I'm embarrassed to say I knew nothing of. The woman seated next to me told me that she's a legend—the first woman to make it big in rock music; rockabilly specifically. I did not know that. She was entertaining I suppose but her music didn't do much for either of us.

Adele took the stage at 8:50 and played for around 90 minutes. She was so good and lived up to even my highest expectations. She was very personable with the crowd which was fun to see. She's so poised for 23.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Saturday in the 'Burbs

Rachel drove to Rochester last week for an appointment at Mayo Clinic where she'll be doing volunteer work this school year. She called me to ask why there were so many police out on highway 52. I hadn't a clue I told her. A few hours later I got to work and noticed there was a temporary flight restriction in place over the Rochester area because President Obama and his bus tour were traveling through. She would learn soon enough what was happening when she got into the city. I shared a couple of quick texts with her as she tried to maneuver herself to where she could maybe see him. And she did—well, she saw his bus anyway.

That wasn't the first time she got close to a president. In 2004 we took her to see President Bush speak at Target Center in Minneapolis; a time when I was still owned by the Republican party. Within a couple of years of that experience, I would have my eyes opened wide. My metamorphosis away from conservatism is detailed in my blog for those curious to see how a person can possibly change parties. Here's a pivotal post in that process but to get to the real reason type "faa" into the search box of my blog.

Tammy isn't much for jazz music but she knows I enjoy it some; mostly when I'm working down in the shop on a stained glass project. She suggested that we head into Burnsville Saturday afternoon to take in the sights and sounds of the Burnsville Art and All That Jazz Festival. Great idea! What I didn't realize until talking to Mom early Saturday afternoon was that the Shakopee Mdewakanton were hosting their annual Pow Wow. Tammy has a fascination and love for Native American people. This would have to come first.

We drove 20 minutes west to Shakopee, found parking and took advantage of a dusty golf-cart ride from our car to the site. We found the Pow Wow to be in full swing when we arrived. I wondered how my brother Bryan (had he been with us) would've captured this event with his camera. He's got such an eye for photography. I did my best and also took some video.

The dancers were entertaining to watch but I think the vendors who lined the perimeter added a cheap commercialism element that the organizers could have done without.

From there we made our way to Burnsville to check out the art and jazz festival. It couldn't have been a better day! Just a beautiful weekend of weather, really. Yeah, I could've been out riding but I was fine at this slower pace.

We walked around looking at the craft exhibits and saw one of our friends from Foci. Steve had been there since early morning but wasn't all that happy with sales. He said the good money this day was in women's jewelry. The booth next to his was evidence that he was right as there was no lack of people looking over the merchandise.

The sun was getting low and the air was beginning to chill as we donned our jackets and found some seats to take in the show. See the embedded video below.

It was a nice Saturday in the 'burbs.

I did manage to get out late Sunday afternoon for a ride. I've got a 10-mile loop I do around Orchard Lake and the surrounding area. It's nice for working on strength as there are several hills that amount to a little over 500 feet of climbing each loop. Plus, I usually find myself pushing the pace trying to stay above a set minimum speed/time for each loop. Six loops left me with that unique feeling of being both refreshed and tired. Here's some video of the loop.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's Not About the Bike

All of my hard work between the houses last year (before and after) was being swallowed up by a grapevine of some sort. I thought it made for a nice ground cover when it quietly began to work its way through the area but then I began to wonder because it was definitely taking over. I mentioned to Tammy that I was going to remove it but before I could get out there to take some before and after photos, she had already made a nice dent in it. A couple of hours later and we had reclaimed most of the area with the exception of some stragglers that I'll have to keep my eye on.

I was off from the salt mine this past week and made pretty good use of my time away and no, I'm not referring to some ridiculous amounts of miles on my bike. I actually relaxed some. I spent time doing absolutely nothing which is totally out of character for me. It was nice. It's difficult for me to believe but I spent two weeks away from my bike. That's pretty much unheard of in the summer for this obsessed cyclist. Somebody check my temperature.

We managed another trip to Rochester to deliver and set up a bed for Rachel. She's now mostly moved in with the exception of some odds and ends. That's three trips to Rochester in one week for us. I actually enjoy the 75-mile drive.

We were in the studio three days this past week. I could get used to spending lots of time there if I had unlimited amounts of both that and money. We'll settle for what we can at this point. I felt like I was pushing the limits of my abilities this week by blowing a little bigger and a different shape than I'm used to. I just feel it's time to begin exploring my abilities more. It was fun. But I'm a little concerned about the last piece I made. I struggled to release it from the punty once it was finished, allowing it to cool down quite a bit before I finally got it in the annealer. Steve was watching me (I didn't realize it at the time and I really appreciate his watchful, experienced eye) and gave me a little advice. He said that the next time that happens, stop what I'm doing and take a quick flash in the nearest glory hole then begin the process again. It makes total sense. Keep the piece hot! He pointed out that it was really cool going in the annealer which causes me to wonder if the next time I see it it'll be in more than the one piece it had been. I hope not.

Rachel finished her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) class at Inver Hills Community College and followed that by completing the 2nd of 3 days of clinicals where she shadows another CNA. She came home last night and told us all about her day. It was so evident that she has a heart for not only this work but any work that involves helping others. None of the more squeamish tasks seem to bother her at all. I actually had to laugh just a little as I listened to her and her mother talk shop. This little girl of mine is no longer that. As much as I would've loved to have kept her 13 years old forever, there's a world out there that needs her.

We made our traditional visit to the Dakota County Fair in Farmington Wednesday night, not so much for the fair and its numerous exhibits but for the demolition derby. We brought a couple of inexperienced friends with us and they loved it! I couldn't help but wonder if Job was the only black man in the lily-white crowd? He had fun and that's all that mattered.

Here's some video from the night. Don't give up too soon as there's some pretty humorous stuff in there midway through.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fairs, Furniture and a New 'Do

We headed back to Rochester Thursday afternoon after Rachel finished for the day with a class she's been taking at Inver Hills Community College. It was nice to get away together. Tammy was finally able to look around inside the home Rachel will be renting this school year and to size up her room for a bed and some other furnishings.

In the summer, the city of Rochester helps promote a weekly celebration called Thursday's on First and 3rd where there are dozens of vendors peddling all sorts of art, crafts, and food along a few city blocks. It's a nice time. We ate at Newt's outdoor grill then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening kicking around the city taking in the sights. Tammy and I love Rochester but more importantly, Rachel does too. She really feels at home there. It's been a good fit for her.

We were back in the glassblowing studio on Friday where we both had a pretty good day; not great but better than our previous session. We continue to get our share of encouragement from other artists there and that helps us to realize that we actually are making progress. It's incredibly challenging, often times frustrating but so rewarding. It's also eating into my time on the bike but so far I'm not being bothered by that in the least. Surprising!

I made a couple of tea-light candle holders that I was pleased with. I'm thinking these may make nice Christmas gifts.

Tammy and I made it out to both the Uptown and Powderhorn Park Art Fairs in Minneapolis Saturday. We'd hoped to get an early start but opted for sleeping in and battling the crowds later instead. Parking can be difficult to find but this seemed a bit extreme to me.

As we made our way from our car to the Uptown fair we came across a woman out in front of her home selling a bedroom set of dressers. Tammy doubled back to have a closer look. It was perfect for Rachel she remarked. We gave her $20 to hold it then continued on toward the fair with me wishing we'd driven the truck instead. We'd have to hurry just a little to make it back by 5:00 with the extra trip back home to swap out vehicles.

The fair was nice, it always is and Foci was well represented by several artists we've gotten to know from there over the past few months.

Uptown Art Fair photos.

From Uptown we headed east a few miles to Powderhorn Park's fair to see a couple more artists from Foci. Powderhorn's fair isn't quite the draw that Uptown is but I like the atmosphere there—less crowded and more laid back.

Photos from Powderhorn Park Art Fair.

Video from both fairs.

We returned for the bedroom furniture right at 5:00 and managed to fit it all in the bed of our truck. On the drive home I asked Tammy if she was up for another trip to Rochester that night to set it up in Rachel's room. She was. Rachel had nothing planned and offered to come along and drive Tammy's car loaded down with more things for the move. I let Rachel lead the way.

It was nice to accomplish all we had, considering we had no plans whatsoever of finding her a bedroom set when we started out earlier in the day. It's a perfect fit for her room and Rachel's really happy with it. Now all that's left is to get her bed set up and that's on our to-do list for Thursday. She plans on being back in Rochester on the 23rd to get settled in before school begins. It's all coming together nicely.

We finished out the night at Baker's Square in Apple Valley. It had been years since we were last there: 2003 to be precise. I'm quite certain it won't be another 8 years before we make it back. On a side note—I learned that lemon juice on french fries is awesome! Taught to me by none other than the member of our family who puts her potato chips inside her sandwich. Also, not a bad combination!

Did I mention that Tammy has a new 'do? She likes to cut her own hair and usually she does just fine. Usually. Not always. I encouraged her (there's a very tactful way to do me) to find a stylist and pay them to do the work for her. She did and she's glad she did. So am I.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rachel Time and Fallen Angels

I had a very full week last week. I skipped out of work on Tuesday to go with Rachel to Rochester where she had some things to take care of. During our time there we spent several hours walking around the city together chatting the day away. I absolutely love spending time with her. There's a part of Rachel that's still very much young-adult-like but there's another side of her that is so mature beyond her years. I like the mix. Add to that her faith, humor, creativeness, and kindness and it's not hard to see why I sometimes go on and on about her here or in conversation with whomever. She's been such a blessing in my life.

When it comes to spending time with her, I don't hesitate to clear my schedule.

She's in for a change this school year. She'll no longer be living in her fancy digs at BridgeStreet with its room-service and made to order breakfasts, instead, she'll be renting a home with 4 other women from college just a few blocks from the campus. It's what she wanted and I don't think she could be more excited for the school year to begin.

Tammy and I both struggled in the studio on Thursday. I'm blaming the humidity. I think I managed to get only one decent piece in the annealer; Tammy may have done a little better. But that's okay because it only makes us more determined to show up again for our next session at the bench and try even harder.

I got out Friday afternoon for a longish ride of 123 miles southwest to St Peter and back home through Chaska. (ride video) Time on my bike is unlike any other alone-time for me in terms of working through my thoughts and I've usually got many. There are no distractions and I can literally go for hours without any interruption from the outside world other than passing cars and the occasional text message. My blog often helps me organize those thoughts.

Why are there fallen angels?

That was the question I was pondering Friday as I worked my way north on highway 169 out of St Peter. It's not the first time I've wondered this. I can't imagine how an angel, a being that I would guess has a vastly more intimate understanding of God than any of us here on earth, would ever go to the dark side. I don't get it. I have a friend who suggested it may be the desire for power. That makes as much sense to me as anything else I can think of. But then I have to wonder if there will be choices for us in heaven? More of our free will to get us into trouble? Lust for money or sex seems to be the biggest downfalls for many here in this life. Without those obstacles in the afterlife to cause sin maybe it won't be so bad. I've never been one who was desirous of power (other than on my bike) so I should be good-to-go.

We celebrated our 12th anniversary on Saturday. Actually that's not quite right; Rachel and I celebrated it because Tammy had to work. (In a few years when we're both retired, Tammy and I can look forward to never having to worry about work getting in the way of our special days and every day will be Saturday!)

Rachel made all the arrangements. We headed into St Paul for sushi at Sakura Restaurant and Bar then took in the Owl City concert at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St Paul. Unwed Sailor and Mat Kearney were the two opening bands. I was there to see Mat but left with a new-found appreciation for Unwed Sailor. Just an excellent sound—no vocals, only instruments.

We called Tammy between shows and Rachel apologized to her for stealing me on our anniversary night. I thought that was cute. But as Tammy had said earlier in the day, I didn't just marry her; I brought someone else into my life too—someone I wouldn't trade for the world.

Have I ever told you about my daughter?

Photos from our wedding day