Aug 19

Almost average, even.

I wondered yesterday about the prospects of maintaining color continuity over the course of the long term. There were blue and tan elements. And so there are today, as well.

I only took this picture to put on Instagram, because, at the end of the day, I wasn’t sure if it was a good look or not. The reviews have been good so far. One follower chimed in “You know I have opinions,” but left it at that. Owing to the flush of information through the Instahose I will now never know what those opinions are. I am sure, though, that this was a bad choice.

Really, it is just a good way to keep track of when I wore what.

We had a bike ride this evening, the last Thursday evening ride I’ll have for a good long while, since we’ll start back up with the television shoots next week. Best not to dwell on the absence of rides for now though. Look! The tar snakes are making a smiley face!

Was there video? You bet there was video, and the audio totally goes with that tie!

I PRed three segments on Strava on this ride. It was one of my better rides of the year to date. Which is something I should have progressively been saying since about June, but the feeling returns when the feeling returns. The title of that workout on Strava became the title of this post. No one considered that in post-post-neo-modernism-ish time we’d have to title our workouts, but that’s the world for you. Wherever you go, there better be a post for it. How else will Buckaroo Bonsai know where you are? Anyway, now, the trick is to get as much out of these more pleasant feeling rides as possible, dovetailing as they are with shorter days and milder temperatures.

And, naturally, I won’t be able to ride again for another four or five days.

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Aug 19

Rockin’ on

Today was a delightful and light day. We drove down to one of the family haunts yesterday for the weekend’s festivities. My sister-friend, my friend-sister Elisabeth — we need a term for someone you meet under the oddest of circumstances who decides to keep you for so many years, and who wants you to them around too — and her husband flew in the other day. People have come in from all over, really.

I had a phone call and a teleconference, which isn’t too bad for a day you take off from work, I guess. They happened at virtually the same time, so, really, you could call it multitasking, which is pretty great for an off day.

I did get to sleep in, which is excellent. And there was a late breakfast, a brunch, really, if we need to be specific. And we should be as specific as possible in as many places as possible. We had dinner at the local Mexican restaurant. I hear it is merely OK, but I enjoyed my fajita enchilada. Probably it was the cheese.

We went to listen to some music after dinner. Dueling pianos don’t get enough credit for their easy entertainment potential.

The personality and the enthusiasm was more important than the soaring solos. There were, I counted, six different performers, and they all just cycled through the full array of instruments they had on stage: two pianos, a handful of different guitar set ups, a small drum kit. And they were a pretty talented bunch. It was nice because two or three of them would play, and the others went … elsewhere … and then they would one at a time rotate off. They didn’t take any set breaks. There wasn’t a lot of inane chatter. They just played covers and everyone there enjoyed themselves pretty well. The lady singing at the beginning of the clip might have been the best performer of the bunch. Sadly the audio of her singing didn’t carry over as well as it should. They were taking requests, as they do in a dueling piano setup, and I tried thinking up the most ridiculous songs I could challenge them with, figuring, They must get bored playing the same tunes every show.

They played four of them: Country Roads, Enter Sandman and the like. It was a nice evening, which is especially great for a day off.

Aug 19

The silver eagle has landed

We had a little family thing today. My stepfather ended his career as a commercial pilot, these last 31 years flying with UPS. They let his family and friends come onto the tarmac on one of their terminals to watch his last landing. Here’s a bit of video:

He flew in from Seattle. His son, who is also a pilot and presently in training to join the UPS fleet, was able to ride the jump seat with his dad. How neat and unique an experience for the both of them. He taught his son to fly and one day he’ll perhaps be covering the same sky routes. The rest of us had a great view for the touch down and the ceremonial fire truck action. Rick walked down the steps from the cockpit, did his last ever inspection and saw his many friends and family who had gathered to celebrate with him. He had family who flew in from Texas. Retired former colleagues came from all over. There was a professional photographer to capture the wonderful little moment. Meanwhile, UPS was trying to get the plane ready for its next flight. They don’t sit still for very long.

Some of us got to go up and take a quick picture with him in the cockpit. This is a quick one, though I’m promised a few more.

It was a wonderful treat, one of those moments that you instantly know will become a keepsake.

There was also a little ceremony in the UPS offices, where the management folks and his many professional friends were able to say a few lovely things. Rick got to speak last, of course. There were many kind memories and laughter and tears and even a song or two shared. All of the people that had gathered to see him off were saying happy and wonderful things about the man. He was humbled and proud of the turnout and the sentiment. He kept thanking people for coming and they kept saying “Of course we’d be here.” I always think, in moments like that, “Where else would I be? It is a privilege to be a part of this,” which is no kind of answer to people who are pleased to see you in their moment. But that’s the emotion of the moment.

And it is a big moment for him, of course. He’d still fly if they let him, but federal laws are things big companies sometimes follow. He will still fly, but now only privately.

In between elements of the day’s festivities The Yankee and I invented a new game. We’re now taking photos of the most arcane things possible. The game is made up and the points don’t matter, but we had a good time with it. She won, but only barely. I’ll share a few of mine in a few days.

Aug 19

They specifically said they wouldn’t play Freebird

When we started making our plans for last weekend my wife asked her parents what they would like to do during our visit. It was their weekend. Big birthdays, so we thought they should make the plans. We went to a wonderful little Italian restaurant on Friday night. On Saturday night, we went to a rock ‘n’ roll show.

This is a band called Long River Jam. The guitarist and lead singer works with my mother-in-law on a church program she runs. He’s a musical therapist, among other things, and he has this bband. Turns out the in-laws go see them fairly often at this apple orchard farm where they played this weekend. Did I mention we were celebrating two of those big, round number birthdays, and we were doing it at a rock ‘n’ roll show?

Sure, they played the Violent Femmes. The farm was selling their cider and baking you pizzas. They’d brought in a food truck that was selling not-bad downstate New York barbecue. There was a petting zoo, and the kids were running around having a great time. It was a great family atmosphere. And the band was putting out some great atmosphere. Here’s the more-or-less full set list:

Xs and Os – Elle King
Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder
Dancing in the dark – Bruce Springsteen
Harder to Breathe – Maroon 5
Hard to Handle – Otis Redding (But in the style of Black Crowes)
Hand in My Pocket – Alanis Morisette
Hurts so good – John Mellencamp
Santeria – Sublime
She Moves in Mysterious Way – U2
Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2
In the Name of Love – U2
It’s Beautiful Day – U2
Semi Charmed Life – Third Eye Blind
With a Little Help From My Friends – Beatles
Locked Out of My Heaven – Bruno Mars
Sweet Child o’ Mine – Guns ‘n’ Roses
Lookin’ Out My Back Door – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Oye Como Va – Santana

Because nothing says family like cults, massacres, political assassinations and crystal meth, he laughed, in his distinctly Gen X way, during the first set. To be perfectly honest, though, the band was doing a great job turning an oversized patio into a party.

And can I just tell you? The little kids, who danced most of the night away, really liked Hard to Handle.

Here are the in-laws, enjoying the show as the band plays just in the background:

During the break, my father-in-law said the second set wasn’t as strong. They come to see their friend in the band so much they know the setlist. But he changed his mind because of some new material and improving play. Here’s the second set:

Love Shack – B-52s
I Wanna Dance with Somebody – Whitney Houston
Let’s Hear it For the Boy – Deniece Williams
I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
I Will Walk 500 Miles – The Proclaimers
Valerie – Amy Winehouse
Good Lovin – The Rascals
Authority Song – John Mellencamp
I Want You Back – Jackson 5
Summer of 69 – Bryan Adams
Time of my Life – Jennifer Warnes/Bill Medley
Another One Bites the Dust – Queen
Magic Carpet Ride – Steppenwolf
Blister in the Sun – Violent Femmes
The Joker – Steve Miller Band
Last Dance with Mary Jane – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Country Roads – John Denver
Proud Mary – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison

It was right around Jackson 5 that we started giving him a hard time about his second set pronouncement. And then, of course, they had to put in Dirty Dancing, and so we did all the Dirty Dancing bits. All of them. Most of them successfully.

They did Country Roads with this cool Caribbean island swagger, and then on the last chorus really sped things up. That would have been enough, but they actually played an encore. Cover band encores are always good.

Of course by then it was late into the evening, and the guitarist we know had to go take his girlfriend to the airport for a 3:30 a.m. flight, so I didn’t get to ask, but I’m guessing the CCR and Van Morrison were some of the first songs someone in the band played.

Two other quick videos from the weekend. Here are some beautiful flowers I saw Sunday morning:

And this is a Purdue ad at the airport. “We’re a terrific university in a wide range of area, but did you know we’ve been to the moon?” Honestly, they probably have to resist the temptation to use this in all of their promotional material:

Anyway, it was another great weekend, which is why I’ve dragged it into Tuesday. If there’s a lesson to be learned it is to get yourself some in-laws who are kids at heart. They’ll always be ready to have a good time with you.

Aug 19

‘that only make me lay it down more careful-like’

There’s a certain joy to getting home in time, leaving again right away and somehow that being nine minutes late and yet still getting a good shot to extended parking, an easy parking place, a timely shuttle to the airport, a pleasant conversation with two people going on a cruise and a quick bite to eat, before a relatively decent TSA experience and then finding yourself at the gate before your plane arrives.

There’s a certain joy to hearing a gate agent who has no optimism at all. “This flight hasn’t been canceled yet.” There’s a certain resigned humor to hearing of a delay, knowing there’s no plane at the end of that jetway, or weather between here and that plane and knowing this is going on for a while, a run-on sentence of gate announcements that continue to portend this flight will be boarding in 15 minutes, now 45, and it isn’t canceled yet, until it is.

But who cares about that? There’s always a flight tomorrow. We’re booked on it. Because we were nine minutes leaving the house, but still had a good trip up to the airport, we could linger over food in the concourse. And because I got a refill at Chick-fil-A, by the time I got down the terminal all of the seats at the gate were taken. So we sat at an empty gate across the way, on the other side the slidewalk, but next to this cool installation:

Mari Evans wrote, in about 1992, Celebration. She was a writer, a teacher, a television producer. And the words she could write, the feelings she could bring out of you … She taught African American Literature at Indiana, and she could do some stuff with just an incomplete phrase that could pull you this way and that. It’s no wonder she taught people how to use the language, for she was a masterful user of it, indeed.

The poem Celebration was about people who were flawed and perfect and who had been through some stuff:

I will bring you a whole person
and you will bring me a whole person
and we will have us twice as much of love and everything

I be bringing a whole heart
and while it do have nicks and
dents and scars,
that only make me lay it down
more careful-like
An; you be bringing a whole heart
a little chipped and rusty an’
sometime skip a beat but
still an’ all you bringing polish too
and look like you intend
to make it shine

And we be bringing, each of us
the music of ourselves to wrap
the other in

Forgiving clarities
Soft as a choir’s last
lingering note our
personal blend

I will be bringing you someone whole
and you will be bringing me someone whole
and we be twice as strong and we be twice as true
and we will have twice as much of love
and everything

I discovered her because of this mural in Indianapolis:

It was unveiled in 1996, and she got to see it, at the age of 97, just under a year before she passed away. And while I haven’t yet read everything she published, everything I’ve read has been a joy.

The Celebration installation, above, is by British artist Martin Donlin. He produced 14 large, abstract glass murals at the airport, featuring contemporary Indiana poets and authors. These are hand-blown glass, almost 2,400 panes over the whole project, each pane weighing about 400 pounds.

If we hadn’t been a little late, but had a plane that was later, we might not have sat there, and I might not have seen it, across the way as it was.

There’s a certain joy to this. A certain restless, tired, hopeful joy to that.

As we were leaving the airport, for home, there was a rainbow off to the east. And it stayed out there all the way back to the house. We watched the same rainbow for 52 miles:

We’ll go back to the airport tomorrow, but this evening:

We’ll sleep in — until 6 a.m., at best! — and then make the quick drive for a quick flight into a quick weekend will begin. But! To have this for an hour!

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Got a little rainbow in my eye …

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There’s a certain joy to that.