First Citizen

It has been a busy weekend for the First Citizen and I. Trust me; you’ll get tired of this my new moniker for Anne, before I will. Friday night, Anne was named Citizen of the Year by the Maplewood-Richmond Heights School District, but I’ve already written about this. Citizens, to arms …

First thing Saturday morning, we drove to Laumeier for a walk in the park. Laumeier is a sculpture park. It was cool, but bright. After looking at a few of the new artworks together, we walked our separate ways. I continued examining the myriad of sculptures on the grounds, while Anne, I mean the First Citizen, concentrated on the abundant signs of spring that were budding out everywhere. I’ve shared a few of our photos here. We eventually rendezvoused at The Way, the park’s signature piece. Then it was time for breakfast.

Breakfast was at Spencer’s Grill in Kirkwood. This example of the iconic American diner has been in business since 1947. Its clock motif has been counting the minutes ever since. Returning home, I mowed the front lawn for the first time this year. The back lawn is still covered with spring beauties. I helped our new neighbor, Molly, mow her lawn too. She has a human-powered mower that was not up to the task. I know, because for almost thirty years I had one too and dreaded the year’s first mowing. I’ve switched to electric. Afterwards, I went for a bike in the park.

The First Citizen went to the yarn store. She is knitting a cap for me. She has a button that says, “Keep calm and carry yarn”, a play on “Keep calm and carry on”. One of her colleagues at school told her about a Boston appropriate version that said, “Keep wicked calm and carry the hell on”. This cap is a two-sided complicated patterned affair and Anne has been wrestling with it. She took it to the yarn expert for help. The expert told her that she would need a magnifying glass to see the mistake in question and if anyone ever complained about it, “Either kiss them or smack them”. So far it’s still kisses all around.

Saturday night was trivia night. Joanie, her friend Pat and a table full of other smart people were there. Pat is also my colleague. I don’t know if trivia night is just a Saint Louis thing or if other locales also partake in it too. This was a fund-raising event for Pat’s church. I’ve never been much enamored these events, partly because I’m not that good at it, but this night was different. We were winning. After ten rounds, we, being table #4 were in contention. We had been alternately tied for the lead or trailing by only a point table #10. We also had table #1 nicking at our heels. After the final round, we were tied for the lead with table #1. #10 had exploded at the finish line, sort of speak. We got our money back, but it was already way too late.

That’s enough for one post. Sunday’s telling will have to wait, stay tuned …

Hat Tales

Dave Looking Askance at his Rams Cap

Dave Looking Askance at his Rams Cap

I biked on Saturday, for the record, my mileage was well short of 4000 miles. It was very windy, which always makes for harder cycling. I kept being passed by the younger, more spritely riders. This made me feel old and tired. Since Anne is not yet regularly riding and I am currently riding alone, I listen to podcasts to pass the time. This normally works well, except that day, when I turned into the wind; I could hardly hear the shows, over the baffled wind noise in my earbuds.

This is Super Bowl Sunday, one of those unofficial, official holidays. I mean, what else are you going to do on a Sunday in February except watch football on TV? I’m going to root for the Niners, like most of the nation. I haven’t queried Anne on her allegiance yet, but I don’t think that she has any real dog in this fight. I don’t either, but I don’t want to stir up my California Bros. I do have a few asides to add.

My first aside is of a literary nature. The Baltimore Ravens are named for the poem by Edgar Allen Poe, “The Raven”. I did not know this until this week. Poe, America’s first commercially successful author came from Baltimore.

I guess that the biggest human interest story of this game is the duel between two brothers. The two team’s head coaches are brothers. Whether you call this game a Harbaugh Bowl or simply a Harbrawl, this nationally televised family spat makes for great press. My aside on the John and Jim Harbaugh controversy is that they both attended my high school. I was long since gone, but John, the one year older Ravens coach, graduated from Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. Jim, the San Francisco Forty-Niners coach, the younger brother returned to Ann Arbor as a quarterback for the University of Michigan. They are both roughly Jane’s age, but since they went to Pioneer and she went to Huron, it is unlikely that she met either of them.

About the hats, a while back, Anne knitted Dave a cap [loosely] based upon the design of the Saint Louis Rams football team’s helmets. Both Dave and Anne’s pictured facial expressions, are more attributable to the iPhone self-portrait process than any criticism on the knitted cap. Although, Dave did complain the cap was too big for his head. He needs more college education, if you ask me.

Speaking of the Rams, they were victorious in their arbitration decision this week. This makes them more successful off the field than they were on it this season. The Rams and Saint Louis entered into arbitration over their stadium dispute. Saint Louis offered modest improvements to the existing stadium, while the Rams are seeking a more comprehensive makeover and have threatened to leave town in 2015, when their lease is up. There was a nasty spat last year, when the Rams proposed a trial separation, by playing a number of their home games in Europe. With Rams home games already looking like an endangered species, Saint Louis offered some serious pushback to this idea.

My final aside is also about the Rams and comes courtesy of the NRA. On their website they have their long enemies list. This list enumerates organizations and individuals that have had the temerity to support gun control legislation. Most of the individuals are Hollywood actors and most of the organizations are healthcare related. A notable exception to the later generalization are the Saint Louis Rams. Go Rams!

Anne Documenting Her Work

Anne Documenting Her Work

Ramdom Fandom

Rams Knit Cap

Anne is seen modeling her latest knitting creation, a Saint Louis Rams’ cap for Dave. It is a lovely cap; she did a great job on it. It looks a lot like the Rams’ football helmets, but not enough to infringe upon any NFL copyright, in my humble opinion. Like I said, it is a lovely cap. I’m sure that Dave will love it, when he gets it. He is an avid Rams fan. I can just see him now, parading around town in it, on game day, or any other day for that matter too. All this being said, it somewhat grieves me that this post is going to be a hate on the Saint Louis Rams. It is such a lovely cap.

Originally, I was going to crank on how the NFL in general and the Rams in particular has plundered Saint Louis. Their initial haul of booty included a new publicly financed stadium, with fans paying thousands of dollars per seat, just for the opportunity to purchase tickets in it. The Rams repaid their Saint Louis fans with the greatest show on turf and a Super Bowl victory. That was twelve years ago and the Rams’ decline since then has been inexorable. Now, like they are warlords who have picked clean their kleptocratic fiefdom, they are scouting for their next victim city. While the Rams are dickering with Saint Louis for a new lease of another new stadium, they are also wooing new fans, by giving away to the British, what could very well be some of Saint Louis’ last few NFL home games. It is almost enough for a disgruntled fan to say, just go, except that it is such a lovely cap. Did I tell you the cap is reversible?

No, the heart of these anti-Rams rants was sparked by recent news reports about the Rams’ new defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams. NO Saints, former defense head, he has garnered notorious notoriety of late, for his practice of putting hits on opposing team’s players. Putting the hurt on opposing offences, is the job of every NFL defenseman, but creating an 18,000 document paper trail of how you planned and executed to injure, maim and “take-out” opposing players, is a personal injury lawyer’s dream come true. “Mr. Fisher, I’ve got Brown & Crouppen calling on lines, one, two, three …” The lawsuits will come. As of now, the sharks are only circling the Saints and maybe the Redskins and the Bills, all former employers of Williams.

What happens next year, when an incident occurs, because surely it will. Do the Rams really want to remain associated with this man? Does Saint Louis want to host a team that does? Football is a violent sport. Any given play contains thirteen or more felony assaults, anyplace except on the field. The difference with Williams is that he has left a paper trail of every aggravated assault that he called for and then paid for. My advice to the Rams, drop this case now. Otherwise, Dave might not wear the cap and it is so lovely.

Notes to Self

Cabin '89

I broached the topic of summer vacation plans in yesterday’s post and I would like to follow-up on this subject. First up, would be our trip to LA, to watch Dan graduate from college. While there we would like to see Anne’s Uncle Lou and Aunt Pearl. There is also our friend Cooper that we want to see and that is just LA. Anne has never seen Yosemite and it has 45+ years since I have visited this park. I called about lodging and the only beds left on the valley floor are in a tent camp. This would be fine, except when Anne’s sister Jane stayed there last, what she thought was a night of heavy rain, was actually 10” of snow, but hey, life is an adventure, right? We would then head north, almost to Sacramento, to the Gold Country, where Frank and Kathy live. Turning south, we would swing by Monterey and visit Chris and my Dad, and then sprint back to LAX. These are our plans for this trip. We still have to figure out is either of the boys will join us on this Tour de California. Dan will be there, but I don’t know his schedule. Dave could be returning from Hong Kong and could hook up with us. I also have to figure out how long this itinerary will take and this is just the first vacation.

Later in the summer, we will reprise last summer’s Michigan vacation. This year though, we’ll bike the UP, instead of the Lake Michigan shoreline. Any leftover time will be spent at the Cabin. There is still a lot of planning left to do, reservations to be made and people to be contacted. This vacationing biz is beginning to sound like work.

I thought that I was doing pretty well in the Luv-boat department, until yesterday, when Kubie pointed out that I owed Anne a dinner, or rather an all caps, DINNER. Anne bicycled 2K miles last year and that deserves recognition. Last time we did one of these recognition dinners it was at Tony’s, four stars Tony’s. Tony’s also happens to be the restaurant where I proposed to Anne, some thirty plus years ago. Finally, this last week was the fortieth anniversary of our first date. We attended a high-school concert of Bob Seger and the MC-5 together in our senior high-school year. So, instead of doing “pretty well”, I now seem to be floundering in the Luv-boat department. Amends must be made. Thank you, Kubie, for resetting me on this. Stay tuned folks! Valentines Day is lurking in the near future.

Anne is knitting Dave a Rams style hat. She hopes that it will look, just like one of their helmets. Yesterday, she was concerned that she had a twist in her knitting and was afraid that she could be making a Möbius strip cap. To wit, I had to ask, “How to you get your head around that problem, let alone get your head in it?” As it turns out, she thought that she had made a mistake, but she was mistaken.

Anne Almighty

Anne Models Amanda's Gloves

Three at last! Three at last! Thank God, it is three at last!

Apologies to Dr. Martin Luther King, but this was Anne’s mantra on a couple of the days this week. There is no school tomorrow, so today is her Friday. No apologies are really necessary for blaspheming with this post’s title, because it is never blasphemy for a husband to praise his wife. Right Dear? What do you think, Mark? Um, um, um, yes, Dear!

Anne had a field trip last night. She rode the school bus across the river to see a play that fellow teacher, Ms. Dwyer was directing. The play was called “Curtains”, a murder-mystery comedy. Anne tried to get me to come along, but last night was too dark and stormy for me to venture out.

The picture with this post, shows Anne modeling her latest creation, fingerless gloves for Amanda. The background of this photo is pretty busy. It has two of Anne’s quilts in it. Anne is also modeling one of her new Christmas sweaters.

Anne left some blog fodder out for me, a cough drop wrapper. This cough drop wrapper has inspirational sayings on it. These include the likes of: “Don’t wait to get started”; “Hi-five yourself”; and my personal favorite “Turn can do into can did”. I guess if you have a cold, or at least a cough, one needs some extra encouragement, but I can’t help but wonder whose job it was to come up with these sayings. Once coined, were they then focus grouped too?

Skunk Cabbage

I thought yesterday’s April Fools Day post was hilarious. Unfortunately, this sentiment was not universally held. Anne, my lovely spouse, muse and the subject of said post was not amused. So, a day later, this post is a bit of a makeup post. Hopefully, it will smooth some feathers and mend some bridges.

Skunk Cabbage (Eastern), also-known-as Clumpfoot Cabbage, Foetid Pothos, Meadow Cabbage, Polecat Weed, or more formally, in Latin, as Symplocarpus foetidus, is a low growing, foul-smelling plant that prefers wetlands. It is also the subject of Anne’s latest knitting creation, a pair of Skunk Cabbage inspired mittens. Anne models her creation, in the two photos with this post, inspired by a link or two. When Anne isn’t knitting, she is biking, making her monthly quota of miles for March, and doing the family’s taxes. She has finished Dan’s and is pretty much done with ours, but Dave’s taxes are driving her nuts.

Part of the problem is that while Dave has been working and getting paid, he isn’t being paid a salary. Last summer, at Rochester, he was a consultant, not an employee, so no taxes were taken out, bad enough. Last fall, at NIH, as an intern, he is being paid in “taxable energy credits”. TurboTax interprets these credits as equivalent to short-term capital gains and taxes them accordingly.

Speaking of David, he has selected Purdue University, as his school. He will attend this fall, as a doctoral candidate in Biomedical-Engineering. Can you say Doctor Dave? He visited Drexel last week, but was not as impressed with it as he had been with Purdue during his visit there earlier in the month. I wonder it that humongous Philly cheese-steak sandwich didn’t agree with him? He was also accepted at Rochester, his safety school, but the prospect of another Rochester winter, did not appeal to him. There are still several schools that he hasn’t heard from, but he was tired of waiting and decided to enroll.

Dan, our left-coast son, has been busy preparing for this year’s CalArts MFA Open Studios (April 10th). He doesn’t have a formal show this year, but he does have some recent work that he might be able to exhibit. The formal spaces for this show are reserved for graduating students. He had laryngitis earlier this week, but hopefully he is over that by now. Thursday, he took the train up to San Francisco, to visit Cousin Liz and take in an art show.

Under the topic of home restoration, all the contractors, to repair the storm damage are lined up. First comes, the mason, then the roofer and then the awning guy. This will likely take all month or more to occur. As my general contractor cautioned, each day it rains, is a slipped day of schedule. At least he didn’t start rhyming, April showers, brings May sub-contractors, or however it goes. I just remembered a question, who is going to do the trim, vents and lights? Something to ask him, next time we speak, then onto the gutter guy.