Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's About Time!

Just as the period of time between posts has flown by, so has the time since my boyhood buddy, Jay Urban, and I ventured into the world of art. In the summer of 1953 two recent high school graduates hopped on a bus in search of fame and fortune. Their ride took them from the far, far northwest side of Chicago to the wonders of "Downtown". With the help of a kind "older" lady (she was probably in her forties) at the Artist Guild of Chicago, Jay and I got jobs as apprentices at real live professional art studios. Now, more than fifty years later, we're both retired. Jay resides in Richmond, Illinois and I'm in Fennimore, Wisconsin, both a far cry from the hustle and bustle of "Downtown". Our noontime strolls up and down "The Magnificent Mile" have become hikes in the woods and drives down rustic roads. Even though, over the years we've drifted apart geographically, we both retained our passion for things of beauty, flowers and forests, birds and animals and a deep seated love of "cool" cars. (I think that if you gathered together the cars that we owned over the years, you would have quite valuable collection) As I look back, I realize that that bus in 1953 really took us on the "ride" of our lives. It brought us into a fifty year fantasy and it hasn't reached the "end of the line" yet. Thanks to the "Electronic Age" we stay in touch with email. Almost daily Jay sends me one of his artistic creations usually accompanied by a poem written by a friend of his. The one he sent today is what prompted me post this little essay. He summed up his career over that fifty year span in these words and pictures.

In case the text isn't legible, it says,
"fifty year evolution began with the simplicity of graphite pencils... next came a palette of soft pastel chalks... then on to vibrant magic markers... and progressing to the digital wizardry of camera and mouse... all lovingly caressed by this humble hand through a lifetime of artistic expression.
And there's more to come"!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Americana Found

After hemming (Or is it himming? Or is it hyming?) and hawing for almost 2 weeks, I decided it was time to quit "H"ing around and post something about the rest of the trip. I promised to continue the account of our Eastern adventure, but I realized that it really wasn't that much of an adventure. Actually it was more of a nice relaxing look back at our country's history. It was also a realization that we either didn't pay attention to or just plain forgot our High School American History classes. We stayed in Williamsburg, visited Jamestown, Yorktown, Tom Jefferson's place at Monticello, Shenandoah National Park were JoAnne took a short hike on the Appalachian Trail, toured a couple of old plantation homes, spent a day acting like tourists in DC, sailed on a "Tall Ship", ate at an old Colonial Tavern and even had time to get together with one of Jo's friends who lives in the DC area for dinner and "catch up gab". We also spent part of a day with some old friends of mine from "the old days" (more catch up gab) and on the way home, we stopped in Ohio for a cook out at Jo's nephew's home, where her brother Don and his wife Susanne joined us (still more catch up gab). In short, we kept moving and gabbing. None of them varmint Red Coats or Johnny Rebs were gonna git an easy shot at us. We really didn't encounter any really funny or weird occurrences or people. Although there were a few things of interest (other than all the historical and scenic stuff). JoAnne discovered the Yankee Candle Company retail store. Men! If ever you are faced with the possibility of entering such an establishment, run! Find some excuse to remain in the parking lot. Change the oil, rotate the tires on your car and any others parked around you. Just imagine a building about the size of a Home Depot filled with every scent known to women and beasts of the forest. Not only does each aroma exude its own d'stink smell but it takes on the odoriferous characteristics the billions of other candles that surround it. As the scents add up so do the cents (and dollars) add up and up and up. The real down side of this is, after the missus buys several thousands of dollars worth of candles and accessories, and these candles with their variety of aromas will enter your car and, guess what, you have to ride more than a thousand miles with them to get home. (Gag me with a taper) Come on by, I'll give a ride in my Honda Potpourri sedan. Another thing that got my attention was the time change. We spent more than a week in the Eastern Time Zone. Now, us guys from the Midwest are fully aware of EST because as we carefully maneuver our remotes to scan TV channels searching the enticing promos that list the time of shows in Eastern time and only allude to us. (i.e 9pm - 8 Central) I thought it only effected TV shows and the difference was just one hour. But nooooo! It involves something a lot more urgent than a Sienfeld rerun, especially to us Wisconsonians (or ites), Friday Nite Fish Fries. Much to my horror I came upon a sign advertising a "Saturday" night fish fry. I tried to locate someone in authority to find out what was going on. (This was the main reason to travel to DC) Unfortunately both my Congressman and the Prez were out of town. (Probably trying to catch the Wednesday Fish Fry in in another time zone) The only answer I could come up with was that it took at least a day to fly in some really good frying fish from Wisconsin. And finally, the really scary event of our 3 thousand mile odyssey. As we drove through the Shenandoah National Park there was a loud "bang" on the roof of our car. We had passed a number of "Falling Rocks" warning areas so naturally the first thought that came to mind was that we were hit by a foul ball from the Great American Ballpark. A few miles later there was another "bang" this time it was an indirect hit on our sideview mirror and we caught a glimpse of the object which turned out to be a walnut or acorn from the trees above. There was no damage to the car and apparently very little damage to any nuts. Anyway, we're home safe and sound, Jo's back working and grandmothering while I'm back at the computing machine editing pictures from the trip and keeping a wary eye to the sky for UFO (Unidentified Falling Objects). I did realize that the photos we shot are pretty much the same as anyone can find in most travelogues of the Eastern Seaboard so if you have a yearning to see what we saw, Google Virginia and I'll finish up my thousand words.
But, if you are interested, we will be having a showing of our photographs Saturday afternoon at 4pm -3 Central.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

In Search of Americana

I'm finally getting around to posting the first account of our recent trip (into the past). As we were heading off to visit the cradle of our great nation we were sidelined (or foal lined) by the first of many historical cradles. This one being the birthplace of the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first professional baseball team. The Reds, as they are now called, began their existence in 1869 followed the next year 1870 by a team from Chicago which would become the beloved losers, Da Cubs! There are a lot of similarities between the two clubs AND, a lot of differences. First, they both have had their "dynasty" years. The Reds more recently than the Cubs. And, they both had a dismal showing in the 2009 season. The Reds play in a relatively new ballyard (2003), the Cubs in a venerable museum, Wrigley Field, since 1916. The Reds averaged 21,579 fans a game, the Cubs 39,610 in spite of the fact that at the Great American Ballpark you can get a comfortable, $19 reserved seat in the bleachers which is toweled off by an usher while at the "venerable" Ivy-covered Wrigley an usher waves his hand in the general direction of Peoria while you push and shove to claim a general admission seat on a hard bench for a mere $40. (No wonder they have such poor attendance) Just to make us feel at home, the Reds did manage to blow a lead and lose the game in the final innings.
Just imagine, only one day into our vacation and already we're steeped in American History.

Jumping ahead a little, we did manage to push and shove our way onto a hard $40 bench to watch the Cubs lose their final game of the season last Sunday.

Baseball fan, history buff Jo tries to get
directions to our seats from historical figure.

The crowd at The Great American Ballpark
enjoying their $19 comfortable reserved seats.

The pushing, shoving, hard bench sitting fans at Wrigley.

Next installment - Back to Nature!

Saturday, October 3, 2009