January, February, Izzo, April …

Regal Thorny Oyster

Regal Thorny Oyster

Rob, our plasterer and painter finished his work last night. The rooms look beautiful and we have already made plans with him for the next phase, the back half of the house. As soon as he was done and paid, we rushed out the door behind him, for a night on the town, dinner and a show. Dinner was just a quick bite at Houlihan’s, we were running late by then. The show was the Rep’s season finale, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”, a comic send up, with overtones of Chekhov. It was good fun. 

Stuck in their family home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Vanya and his adopted sister Sonia live a quiet existence until their lives are thrown into comic upheaval with the arrival of their B-list celebrity sister, Masha, and her 20-something boy toy, Spike. Add to that a sooth-saying housekeeper, a star struck young neighbor and a rather odd costume party, and the stage is set for mayhem and hilarity in this present-day homage to Chekhov. Winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play.

Dave blew into town, later that night. It will be good to have him home for this Easter weekend. His arrival had been an open question until yesterday though. He had a line of final four tickets for today in Indianapolis, but that deal fell through and his dear old parents were the next best offer. I’ll cook and serve dinner tomorrow, nothing fancy, flank steak, asparagus and new potatoes. Spartan fare for our dining/living room’s still rather Spartan décor. I want to do some work on the floors, before we start to move everything back in again. Speaking of those Spartans, Go Michigan State!

When I was just a boy, I used to collect seashells. After living on Guam and along the California coast, I had a pretty good collection. One of those shells was a Regal Thorny Oyster. It was my favorite.

Copper Flower

Copper, La Paz, Bolivia

Copper, La Paz, Bolivia

The picture with this post is of a natural copper ore formation that is on display at the Smithsonian. I think that it looks like a flower and that it is beautiful.

Word came yesterday that our painter, formerly our plasterer, was ready to start work again tomorrow. This doesn’t give us much time to clean the walls, but we will do the best that we can. We did some cleaning of the walls and floors on Saturday, and moved a few pieces of furniture back into the effected rooms, but moving them back out won’t be that much work. Rob and his son are scheduled to finish the painting in only two days, which will put this episode quickly behind us, in plenty of time for Easter.

Dave will be coming home for Easter. Fresh from his skydiving adventures at Kitty Hawk. “What?” I hear you ask. Well it was news to us too. He posted pictures of himself safely landing on Facebook. I guess that he was on spring break. I seem to remember hearing him say that he was “thinking about” skydiving, but it didn’t seem all definite, when he said it. It kind of reminds me of his Central America trip. He had gotten an all-expenses paid package, but it did not include the optional zip-line, because the tour company had deemed that activity too dangerous and didn’t want to be held liable for any injuries. I had foolishly assumed that he wouldn’t be doing that either. Silly me. I saw the photos of that event later on Facebook also. It is a good thing that we are friends on Facebook with our son.

How about those Spartans? Going to the final four of the NCAA basketball tournament! While that win yesterday was sublime, it was tempered this morning at work. You see the guy who sits in the cube next to mine was a tad bit grumpy this morning. His team, Arizona, had been turned away by Wisconsin last weekend, for the second year in a row. He would have been grumpy for that reason alone, but with Michigan State winning that added only insult to injury. You see he is a rabid basketball fanatic, while I am only a fair weather basketball fan. He felt that he deserved to win, while I did not. Fortunately, the gods of college basketball didn’t see it that way. I feel that it is like our sons. You have to give them the space and freedom to be all that they can be. They will frequently surprise you, but also just as often amaze you. My sports teams are like this too. When they’re up, I’m up there with them, but when they are down, I’m not going to get down on them.

Boiler Up!

On Saturday, Anne and I drove up to West Lafayette to see our alma mater, Michigan State, play Purdue and to also see our son, Dave, who is a graduate student there. I had dithered about going on this trip, so to let him know that we were really coming, I texted Dave, “Boiler Up!” He answered with, “Hammer Down!” I’m guessing that that is the Purdue equivalent call and response to the MSU, “Go Green!” This is then answered with, “Go White!” This was our first Michigan State football game since college.

On the drive up, we saw an American Bald Eagle, the symbol of our country and also a carrion eater. It was on the shoulder of the road, munching on some road kill and only flew off when we slowed to watch him. Sorry, but no photo was possible. It happened too quickly. At the beginning of the game, MSU marched out to a commanding 21 point lead, but Purdue didn’t give up and with three minutes to go were still only down by one touchdown, plus they had the ball and four downs. An interception that was run back for a TD finally dashed their hopes.

We kind of crashed Dave’s football weekend, because he was also entertaining two of his Rochester alums, Abby and Mike. When we finally caught up with the three of them for dinner, they were all still recovering from the after effects of Dave having introduced them to Purdue’s “Breakfast Club”, voted best Big Ten tradition. Basically, on home game days the bars all open at 8 AM. It being October, Dave’s trio costumed themselves in Harry Potter garb. Any guesses which character Dave portrayed?

We treated them to dinner, at DT Kirby’s, a sports bar that revels in its own special earthiness. For example, both restroom entrances were fashioned from port-a-potties. Many an uninitiated patron would refuse to use one, fearing the worst and not knowing that flush plumbing and porcelain awaited them behind that plastic door. As if we didn’t get enough to eat the night before, we all went out for breakfast this morning. We went to the Triple XXX Family Restaurant, “On the hill, but also on the level”, enough said. Tomorrow is Dave’s birthday it is also Native American day, the day the white man was discovered, formerly known as Columbus Day. Thank you, Seattle!

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’Cable

MSU Spartans Magnet

MSU Spartans Magnet

Anne, Dave and I went to Mike Duffy’s at Richmond Center, our local sports bar, to watch the Rose Bowl. We must be the only family in our demographic that doesn’t have cable TV. Anyway, we had a nice dinner and watched the game. As a plus they had $3 Bloody Marys and these had regulation Red Cross sized pints.

I don’t know why we were in such a rush to get there, because we could have missed the whole first half and not missed anything. Anne and I shortened our New Years Day bike ride in order to make kickoff. Stanford had the ball first and made quick work of Michigan State’s vaunted defense. By text, my brother Frank poked me about that drive. He did his post-doc at Stanford. State was still trailing 17-14 at the half. The only good thing about the first half was our food. We arrived before the dinner rush and were still seated after it had faded. The New Years Day tide was not so high that most of the eight adjacent tables were never seated.

If you find the 60 second halftime marching band spots frustrating for their brevity, then you should try them in a sports bar, where all of the TV sets have their sound turned down and as soundtrack, some oldies radio station was doing a countdown. Other than during the bandstands, Anne appreciated the soundtrack though. It was full of music from our college days, Carly Simon, Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Joe Croce to name a few. In the third quarter State tied it up.

In the fourth quarter things started to get interesting, a young Spartan couple (’11) sat down at the bar and Michigan State took the lead. It is always better to find your team leading in the fourth quarter than in any of the previous three. Three young studs had broken our circle of eight empty tables in the third quarter. We were mostly able to ignore their banal banter, except when it came time for them to settle their bill. One of them had the bar’s buyers club card that was pitched as a ‘VIP card’. He went on and on about his VIP status with the waitress and reminded me of the A-hole in the Harvard bar scene of “Good Will Hunting” that the Matt Daemon character makes quick work of.

After the Stanford field goal and in the waning minutes of the game Anne decides to go to the bathroom. I called out to her that she’ll miss the big play, but instantly regret it, because Stanford has the ball. After two dueling timeouts she returns in time to see Stanford fail to convert on fourth down. All she had to say was, “I have VIP status.” Afterwards, Michigan State ran out the clock and won the 100th Rose Bowl, 24-20.

On our way out of the bar, Dave told us a story from his year in DC. A couple of Notre Dame friends showed up and they all went out to watch the football game in a sports bar. Notre Dame was playing Michigan State. Dave, who rooted for State was rewarded as MSU drummed the Irish. His friends got so disgusted with the game that they all moved to a non-sports bar. Unfortunately, the bar that Dave’s friends picked was where the local MSU alumni were watching the same game. It was decked out in green and white.

Lineman For The County

Ninja Lineman

Saturday after the parade, storms just kept rolling into town. Sometime in the PM, our back property-line neighbor, Karen, lost another tree. She had lost her first tree, February of last year, when we lost our big Norwegian Spruce. That storm downed half-a-dozen trees in the neighborhood.

Yesterday afternoon, we had gone out for lunch and some shopping, so it wasn’t until dusk that Anne looked out the back window and saw the fallen tree. Fortunately, it missed both Karen’s and her crazy neighbor’s houses. It fell across Karen’s fence, but did only minimal damage to it. I guess the tree must be vaulted over the fence or cantilevered somehow. It will be tricky to take down.

Around ten last night, the power company showed up to reconnect Karen’s power. The tree had fallen across the wire. The photo of the lineman turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. He was working and moving during the exposure, but that seems to have only enhanced the ghostly nature of the image. Mysteriously, Joanie’s power was knocked out yesterday too. She is about half-a-dozen houses down the block. Except when the man was on the pole, we never lost power and all the homes around us seemed to have power too. It is a mystery to me.

Sunday morning, it threatened more rain, but that threat was never realized. Anne and I walked over to Stratton’s in Clayton, for brunch. It was about four miles round-trip. In the afternoon, Anne and Joanie went to a quilt show. I went biking in the park and got 17 miles. I got back in time to watch the second half of the MSU/SLU game. The Spartans eventually slew SLU, but it took way longer than it should have. Now on to the Sweet-Sixteen!