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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Artsy Fartsy

Late in my first marriage, I was a bit of an absentee father, dividing my time between workaholism and alcoholism. Not something I'm proud of, certainly nothing I set out to be, the water just kept getting gradually hotter over the course of a decade and the next thing you know there were frogs like my marriage and my relationship with my kids that were basically cooked.

In the immediate aftermath, I took my kiddos to the museums a lot.

At first, I was a bit of a deer in the headlights on the three weekends a month I had the girls. The weeknights weren't as hard, by the time I cooked dinner, took care of baths and such it was time for bed, but the weekends, well, I guess we could have sat around in front of a TV like Americans or something.

We did have TV back then, I even popped for cable eventually, though at first it seemed like an impossible luxury. I know young single people who think they're broke, but there's broke and then there's recently divorced father broke. Recently divorced, upside down in an absurd mortgage unknowingly on the brink of a real estate value meltdown, suddenly paying almost as much as that ridiculous mortgage in child support every month. I had exceptionally generous family supports and a very good job and I still wondered how the hell I was going to make it. I wonder how folks who don't have those things going for them do make it, in fact.

But TV isn't really a way to spend a weekend. Maybe when the Royals are in the playoffs and the Chiefs are playing, I can see a certain amount of binge viewing. Or when I was off work for a month and a half laid up from open heart surgery, I got caught up on five seasons of The Office on DVD. But as a general rule, I don't consider watching TV to be doing something.

So rather than sit around the house with TV blasting in messages about what our lives ought to look like, getting on each other's last nerve, I loaded my kiddos into a hand-me-down 1988 Buick I was gifted when my Dad felt insulted by the offer CarMax made him on it, and I took them out into the world. Gassing an '88 Century isn't free, so the destination we went to had to be.

Frequently that turned out to be the museums. The Nelson and the Kemper both have a suggested donation sort of admission, and the Nelson is freaking huge. I've been to the Met in New York, which the old Nelson building is a miniature of, so yes, I am aware that there are more monstrous museums out there, but you can wear out a couple of kids and yourself pretty handily at the Nelson Atkins.

See a lot of cool shit in the process, too. Especially since they opened the Bloch addition.

Anyway, over the years my kiddos got older and less game for that particular outing. But I still really like museums. Somehow, though, my kids seemed to think they outgrew them.

Em isn't a regular feature at my house on the weekends anymore since she graduated high school and enrolled in the University of Hard Knox. Mo will say no to almost anything except a garage sale store or the chance to eat a metric ton of cheese, but she's not the sort to launch into a diatribe about how boring the Kemper museum is or how impossibly huge and boring the Nelson is.

Some of that is autism, Mo doesn't really have the tools to do diatribes. But she's also a good-natured kid who will pretty much have fun in the moment almost anywhere because she can't see the value in honing her joylessness. If that's part of autism, it's a part we shouldn't try to cure.

So my weekends aren't as open as they once were, either, but I decided rather than ask and get a no, I'd just tell Mo to get in the car and off we'd go. We did both the Kemper and part of the Nelson (the Nelson is more than I can do in one day and still have fun).

I think Mo enjoyed it. Especially the hammocks outside the Kemper.

I didn't ask her to pose in front of any of the works of art she's posing in front of. I may have started this, years ago, but I think she signals that she likes something or finds it interesting by standing in front of it and gesturing like, 'Look at this!' Or sometimes, instead, she mimics the art, like making fun of the wax museum guard by assuming his pose, or sticking out her tongue alongside the enormous bust I think of as Bacchus out in front of the clay building at KCAI. I'm not sure he's supposed to be Bacchus sticking his tongue out, but that's how I've always thought of him.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Tweed Ride

I'm going to have to find some thrift shop tweed to better participate in this next year. It's a really fun event.

Not having anything appropriate I debated between wearing my suit, which is at least wool and fairly former (but boring solid gray and I don't really like wearing it), or an aloha. My friend Lynn suggested vintage Hawaiian, and I did have something along those lines, silk with coconut buttons, one of my favorites.

Still, a Hawaiian shirt is counter to form on a tweed ride, which throws back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, about fifty years before people in the islands started making men's shirts out of silks for kimonos.

The antique bikes were really cool, too.

Good party, with a picnic after. There was an after party at a bar, but I spent four hours at a bar Friday night watching the Royals win game one of the ALCS and I had bar fatigue. I rode from the Tweed Ride to my Dad's house to watch the second game.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Robert the Psychic

Stopped off at Robert the Psychic's house on the way home from work with some very fine beers. I think about stopping off to see him more often than I actually do it. There's always something that needs doing, there's always some other distractions on the ride, other people I see and whatnot. But it's only a block and a half out of the way, and he's been a friend for a long damn time. About 25 years I guess.

Anyway, I knew it had been too long, but I didn't realize how long. He's grown a forest in his front yard, and he didn't even know about my heart surgery last year. I guess even psychics miss things when they don't do Facebook.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Royal with Cheese

The Royals are in the post season for the first time since I was a sophomore in high school. One of my regrets in life, a lasting one I guess since it's almost thirty years and it still bothers me, I missed the parade. Everyone left school except me and about five other nerds whose parents said they couldn't go to the parade downtown. Everyone else piled into friends' cars and went for it.

There were teachers in most of the classrooms, though they didn't seem to know what to do with us since there was nothing like a quorum and I'm sure they'd all have rather been asses and elbows with the rest of the city downtown.

My two teams are the Royals and the Pirates. I don't know why the Pirates, never been to Pittsburgh, but I guess I should have a National League team to root for to the extent that I root for anyone in baseball. Sports allegiances are religious in nature (probably idolatrous if you're Christian and want to get right down to it). I didn't choose to be a Pirates fan, the Pirates chose me. Royals, too, I guess, by accident of geography. The A's they beat in the Wild Card round, I have almost as much geographic reason to pull for them and after reading 'Moneyball' I even have an intellectually valid reason to pull for the A's. But nope, it's the Royals for me at least in the AL.

This October miracle, when batters who average .218 hit game winning home runs in the umpteenth inning and guys built more or less like me steal second, well, it's got the whole town excited. Even my wife, who is if it's possible less of a baseball fan than me, she's excited. And they have dyed the fountains blue to celebrate (apparently at team expense according to an article I read).

To top that off, Westport Flea Market Bar & Grill is selling their burgers at 1985 prices until the Royals are no longer in the playoffs. I said I'm a Royals/Pirates fan: it's been an exercise for me to learn names like McCutchen, Moustakas, Hosmer. For the longest time, there was no point in remembering a name like Carlos Beltran because he was only going to end up playing for the Cards. I've been safe remembering Clemente, Brett, Saberhagen, Frank White. I'm unaccustomed to knowing the names of players who aren't eligible for Social Security.

Which means that burger I had for dinner tonight, normally about ten bucks, since it's priced for the last time the Royals were in the post season, it was like $3.81 with tax. If they priced their burgers like that all the time (and priced their beers accordingly), I'd move in there, be their full time tenant.


I was mowing the lawn and noticing the way the yard and garden beds just team with life. A lot of it the eight-legged kind that gives me the willies, but lots of insects too. I guess you probably don't get one without the other.

As I tried to photograph bumblebees, I got buzzed by a few of them and I realized that being stung by a bumblebee while leaning in to some basil a dozen or so of them were feasting on was far, far more likely than getting bitten by garden spiders. Garden spiders are big enough, I'm sure their bite would be unpleasant but they just sit there in their zig-zag webs waiting for bugs to come to them. But that's the way it goes with phobias, I'm scared of spiders, not so much of stinging insects. I respect stinging insects, I generally give them more clearance than I was in this instance, but they don't freak me out and my mind doesn't exaggerate their potential threat.

I haven't really studied this sort of photography, and I don't guess I really have the right glass for the job. My 35mm lens is plenty fast, f1.8, so I could get the grasshopper's eyes in focus and have his hind legs starting to blur, so I can isolate a subject up to a point, but an 85mm or maybe a 105mm prime lens would have been even better, get nice and tight on, say, a bumblebee—tighter than I am in these shots and without having to get so close that I disturb them.