Anne got a last minute text to come substitute, so our plans to go bicycling together today, across the river in Madison County, went out the window. That’s OK, she needed the rest day. I just don’t know if substitute teaching really counts as a rest day though. So, I went bicycling in Forest Park alone. On the way to the park, I had to contend with two other solo cyclists and without a skirt to hide behind, I put my pedals to the metal, at least metaphorically and beat them to the light at Skinker. After the light, we all went our separate way. Thank you very much. The most interesting aspect of the ride occurred when a startled flock of Canadian geese were flushed by an approaching large and loud orange park’s department truck. They flew quite low across the street, between the truck and I, honking to beat the band. In an effort to goose them on their way faster the truck honked it’s much louder horn, which both the driver and I found to be hilarious. It was a moment, but I guess you had to be there. Later, the battery on my bike’s computer failed and with no further mileage tracking, I lost interest in any further riding and headed for home.
That was my morning, but rather than be cooped up all afternoon as the Saint Louis summer swelters on, I decided to go swimming. I went to the Maplewood pool, where we used to go when the boys were younger, but haven’t been for many years. It is much improved. I expected to pay, but found out to my delight that it is now free to me, because I’m now considered a resident senior. I had a great time swimming laps and can truthfully say that the water was warm, but not as warm as the air. There were two gym classes at the pool. The high school one was teaching water polo and the middle school one was teaching swimming fundamentals. I stayed to the ‘adult’ lap lanes and they mainly stayed out of them. When it came time to leave, I gave the students first turn at the locker rooms and was able to change by myself.
Anne and I braved the heat, humidity and the humanity of it all, when we biked over to Tower Grove Park for the International Festival today. There we enjoyed plenty of music and dance and food, don’t forget about the food, from all around the world. This year, MODOT tried its darndest to obstruct flow to this annual event by closing a stretch of I-44 and also closing Kingshighway and Grand at either end of this freeway closure. It was like they filled the moat and then drew up the drawbridges. None of the ensuing traffic mess affected us on our bikes, but there sure were a lot of frustrated drivers around. It was a hot one today, but we stopped at the Gardens twice and also the visitor’s center in Forest Park for a cool down, but then don’t you wish that your girlfriend was hot like mine?
Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods? – Wrote Bonnie Tyler – Where’s the streetwise Hercules to fight the rising odds? …I need a hero and a heroine too for that matter, but what kind of hero takes his future wife on their first date to a community organizing meeting? I know that it wasn’t a date then, but it is now and it sure looked like one in Richard Tanne’s semi-biographical film, “Southside with You”, the story of Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers) and Michelle Robinson’s (Tika Sumpter) first date. It’s a sweet romantic comedy that is told quickly in an hour and 24 minutes. The time span of the story is only an afternoon and an evening in the summer of 1989. The movie begins and ends with both principles in their respective homes. Obama is a first year Harvard law student, who is summer interning at a law firm in Chicago. Robinson is a Harvard law graduate and Barack’s nominal supervisor at the law firm. In many ways the film is more a movie about Michelle than it is about Barack. This date that wasn’t a date, as Michelle contends throughout most of the movie, grows from its original invitation to a meeting into so much more. Simply told is a love story that even without its historical resonances would still stand on its own, but it is those historical resonances that add a layer of voyeurism to the movie and is really why the film was made and why we went to see it. The characters of Barack and Michelle both seem so young and vulnerable, but also so full of promise. If you didn’t vote for the man then this movie may not be your cup of tea, but if you did then you are going to love it.
The photos are from the Biodome in Montreal. One is of Anne clowning around, with her stunt double and the other one is the real deal. I got back on the bike today, after almost an entire summer off. I do believe that I have some work to do, before our annual grueling effort, the MS-150. The packet pickup party is tomorrow and I was so pleased with yesterday’s gazpacho recipe that I made a second batch and will bring it to the potluck. I’m hoping that it will be a big hit what with the usual Saint Louis August heat. It felt good to be back on the bike and also to ride again in Forest Park. I launched at nine, instead of my more usual 5 AM. I’m retired after all.
Yesterday, our new refrigerator was delivered by a two-man team in the heat of the afternoon. The spokesman was a small guy, a little bit shorter than I, but wiry, very wiry. His partner was a mountain. The spokesman met with me, sized up the problem and then went back to consult with his much larger partner, who had already offloaded the unit from the truck. They followed my advice and brought it around back and up the back porch steps, directly into the kitchen. They both used a single strap that they each hung over one shoulder. Each man could cinch his end of the strap, but they were both connected through this umbilical, with the refrigerator slung between them. They still had to take the backdoor off its hinges to get it inside. It was all over in just fifteen minutes. They were very professional.
People have been asking me for months now, “What are you going to do in your retirement?” Now that I have a working refrigerator, I can start cooking more. I got fixings for and have already puréed the gazpacho for dinner tomorrow. It’s a New York Times recipe that is said to be authentically Seville Spanish. Its color is more that of the yellow cherry tomatoes pictured above, even though I used only red tomatoes to make it with. It looks like extra pulpy OJ, which matches the picture with the recipe. If it turns out well, I’ll make a second batch for a potluck this weekend. I also swung by Trader Joes and got a package of their frozen chocolate croissants that Jane introduced us to on our last morning in Ann Arbor. You fresh bake them and they are fantastic. Thank you, Jane!
[The gazpacho turned out great!]
Anne has started school again this week, with two half-days in the afternoon, both yesterday and today. I ran errands this morning, before it got too hot and I was mostly successful. Two of the errands involved changing theater dates, in order to accommodate our planned trip to California. I had to move tickets to two shows, which I did, but unfortunately one of the new nights conflicts with another engagement. So, I’ll have to revisit that errand again tomorrow. Too bad, because I got really great seats.
These two pictured hooked rugs were according to Fin family lore purchased from Native American artists, from nearby Sugar Island, in the first half of the 20th century, probably in the 1930s, if my recollection of the story is correct. They had been hanging in the old family cabin for decades, but because of our recent campaign against powder post beetles there, they were temporarily removed for cleaning and safekeeping. Our neighbor, Paulette, took it upon herself to research these rug’s origin. She was successful when she discovered a research paper by Adriana Greci Green. In her paper “Many Gifted Workers” – Odawa Quill Artists Participating in the Works Progress Administration [WPA], Ms. Green offers one small, but tantalizing bit of corroboration. Her paper describes the organization of and products created from depression era WPA activities. These were government activities designed to foster artwork for commercial purposes and were part of the overall Roosevelt administration’s efforts to pull the country out of the Great Depression. Her paper is devoted to porcupine quill art and is mostly about the Petoskey area, but does offer the following brief reference, “Another [WPA] unit was formed at Sugar Island near Sault Ste. Marie. Winter activities consisted mainly of hunting porcupines, tanning deer hides and making snowshoes.” This evidence is not conclusive, but it does go a long way in supporting the family’s assertion about the origin of these two rugs. I have elected to show the photographs of the backside of the rugs, because the colors on these sides are so much more vibrant than on the fronts, due to fading. The rugs are made from wool, except for the backings, which are burlap and likely came from sacks. After the photos were taken, Anne sewed a cloth loop on the back of the bear rug. Harry got a dowel for it and now it can be more easily hung and taken down again for the next bug spraying.
I made Jane’s Chicken Enchilada dish last night and it turned out great. I even had enough green enchilada sauce this time (15 oz.). There was just one wee little problem though. The refrigerator died. Unlike last time, when I called in Oscar to fix it, this time, the refrigerator was only partly dead, instead of mostly dead. The freezer is still cold enough to refrigerate non-frozen food. Still, it won’t make ice, so it was time to say adios to the old ice box. You know what they say, when the going gets tough the tough go shopping and that’s what we did. We started at Lowes, because they opened first this morning.
Upfront, they had these double-wide units that ran into the thousands of dollars. No thank you. Some even had TV screens on the doors. I joked that we could emulate this feature by taping our iPad onto the door of our new refrigerator. The complete back wall of one huge unit was one big flat screen TV. I think that it was just a display unit, but I could see myself explaining to Anne why all the ice cream had melted on the floor, “Honest honey, I only watched one movie.” No thank you very much. We checked out the cheap models and then moved on to our next destination, Best Buys.
Just this morning, Best Buys announced much better than expected earnings. We took this as an omen. We parked in their underground garage and just barely caught the elevator up to the store. Our friend and fellow bicycle rider, Paul of Recycled Cycles held the door for us. It turns out that he was shopping for a refrigerator too. He had already been to Lowes like us and Menards, where we were thinking of going next, but his description of the place dissuaded us from doing that. We ended up buying from Best Buys. We got one of their house brand units. It should be delivered tomorrow. Apparently, a lot of problems that at first seem rather insurmountable are really easily solved with just the simple application of a credit card. OBTW, we’ve been eating enchiladas three times a day today. They won’t spoil.