May 21

The in between

It is finals week. I have no finals. Not taking any. Not delivering any. Only one major studio production this week, and one minor one.

It is the interregnum! The inbox will be cleansed! The office will be returned to its minimalist purpose! Other content will be scheduled, arranged, prepared and produced! Much will get done!

In a week or two it will all start again.

I spent two hours today dealing with an audio production I am working on.

See, it all began when I received an email in February with an intriguing subject line. Someone wants to produce a program, and can we help produce it. Well, I have studios and students. And so we began the process. And now they are to the point where they are almost ready to publish their first episode. (Hence the minor studio production later this week. We have to get their credits put in the can.) The host has been interviewing his guests most enthusiastically. The producer is closing in on a nice mental image for how the show will work. I have a bright young student who is working on editing the shows.

We’ve had technical difficulties. We’ve had laughs. I’ve tried my best to come off looking like a wizard. They are very pleased with my wizard-like skills. And, now, we are almost ready to let this thing run under its own power.

But two hours, right in the middle of your Monday, that really fills up the day, somehow.

Also today, I was able to say goodbye-for-now and congratulations to some of our graduating seniors. As is my tradition I wished them the best, gave them the parting advice they needed and reminded them I might one day be hitching a wagon to their star.

I don’t do that, but it could be. It’s a small industry. You wind up working with everyone some day.

Here are the last two shows of the semester. This is the late night show, which has been a lot of fun to watch come to life this year. The studio where they produce this is a giant soundstage, but they’ve built sets on it this year for some of the cinema classes, which crimped the previous style of this show. No matter, the creative-types said, we can work with that. I made them jump through a lot of hoops because of various studio rules and Covid-19 rules and they did it all with good cheer and determination and this show has been evolving all year long. It’s been neat to see.

They shot that last Thursday night in Studio 5. And on Friday morning another group — though there is some crossover in the crew — produced this in Studio 7. The shows where they talk about themselves always run the longest. Weird.

That episode also had a surprise-on-video appearance by Gabrielle, one of the people that started the show, and Patrick, who was a producer that really helped round it into something nice. Award winning, even.

He’s an award-winning producer, then. Met his wife doing these shows. (Or in a class. Or just on campus. Or maybe they grew up next-door to one another. I’m not really sure, but my version sounds better. They met on one of our shows.) He works in finance and does freelance production today. Just a super, super nice guy. I think he was the first person I had a conversation with in masks last spring. He had to return a key to me. I watched him hold it up and drench the thing in sanitizer and then hand it to me, and we stayed well apart in a parking lot because everyone was afraid of everything. I told him one thing I wasn’t afraid of was what he’d do next because, to know him is to know one of those people who you just know is going to work hard and do right and things in the world around him would line up.

How was that only a year ago?

It was probably more like 13 months. And change.

Oh, well, yeah, sure. That’s right. That makes a lot more sense, then.

At some point this month I’ll consider doing some back-to-normalish things. Just visit a store for the heck of it, sort of things. We’re vaccinated. Our families have all gotten the shots. The local population will be reduced a bit when the students return home. Hopefully community vaccination will get a nice surge. (It’s slowing here, same as everywhere, unfortunately, but I’m hoping for renewed interest.) So all of those things together might make the time right. Plus it will a nice bit of punctuation between that time last year and this time this year, a good reminder of the time spent laying low, rather than creating a misperception of a foggy dream.

Maybe this sort of timing is important in ways we haven’t yet really wrapped our arms around. Everyone is eager and in a rush to put this behind them, and I understand that. Maybe that it hasn’t been one symmetrical year is a good thing. There’s a lot, still, to understand about what’s just passed us, too.

Went for a bike ride this evening. There’s this one road on one of our usual routes that has three little rolling hills and, for some reason, that third hill always hurts. So my tactic this time was to ride the first two casually, spinning out the easiest gear I could. (My rear derailleur needs adjusting and I can’t shift from the big to the little right now, too, so that’s a thing.) And then, on the third hill, I hoped, I would still have some feeling left and be able to get over the thing.

So that’s when I jumped ahead of my lovely bride.

The next five miles offer a handful of turns and curves and sticky little rollers before the turnaround spot. And right after that is when I passed her going the other way.

She was far too close, which meant she was far too close. Which meant I hadn’t created the separation I’d hoped for. Which meant she was going to chase me down. Which meant I had to ride harder to keep in front.

It’s more difficult to get ahead to give her something to chase than to catch up to her when you’re behind.

It is six-and-a-half miles from where that photo is taken to the house. And all of that was in my head the whole way. There are a few places on that part of the route where the terrain and the road and, on days like today, a lack of traffic can give you a good long view behind you. I never did see her. But once, on the last little leg of this course, she was nowhere to be seen and I sat up to catch my breath and soft-pedaled for 17 seconds. I did it for only 17 seconds because in the 17th she whooooosed right by me.

So there was going to be none of that this evening. I had two one-mile splits that were on the low end of fast. And she never caught me.

She was about 15 seconds behind at the end, though.

Apr 21

My legs are so tired

On Saturday we rode indoors, because it was cold and rainy and just your average, underwhelming, gross Indiana April day. So we did about 26 miles in virtual northern France, instead where, according to Zwift, it is always sunny.

Yesterday we had a perfectly lovely day. So we rode outdoors for a few hours. Just after the big climb — which I’d dreaded the entire ride and before, finally, actually on the thing and tired of it, I rode a bit harder had my second best time ever on the thing — I took this photograph.

It should be noted that the climb isn’t long or especially hard. It’s the easiest real climb around here. But that doesn’t make it easy!

Somewhere after that I happened upon an opportunity to add to the Barns by Bike collection:

I don’t know why I do that, other than that barns are the right size and usually in the right kind of locale, and I move at just precisely the right speed to be able to retrieve my phone, get to the camera app and take a photo before I get by it.

Anyway, as I said, it was a beautiful afternoon yesterday. Here’s a bit of video proof.

And here’s one more shot of Lake Lemon, which we cruised by just before the “big climb.”

Now, today was a day for an easy ride. Another pleasant afternoon. I got in from campus, we sat on the lawn furniture for a few minutes and then headed out once more. Just before this photograph she said, “Where did my speed go?” And just after this photograph we turned left, and she caught some exclusive cosmic tailwind …

Bang, she dropped me. It took no longer than the time required for me to tuck my phone back into my jersey pocket.

The next part of our route offers a turnaround point and I saw her there, 4.6 miles later. By then she was riding so well I figured that would be it. But I worked hard on tired legs over the rest of the ride — managing an 18-second PR on a Strava segment and put in some ridiculous mile splits, besides — and caught her just before she turned into the neighborhood.

Tomorrow is a rest day, after three days where I asked a lot of my legs, who aren’t used to that right now. The next several days might be rest days, too.

It’s never a rest day for Phoebe. She’s doing some cat yoga here. I think this position is called “I forgot my other leg.”

And here’s a photo of a cat somewhere he shouldn’t be. Go figure.

It means a lot when we’re in one room and hear a sound from elsewhere in the house and the immediate reaction is “POSEIDON!”

It means something else when it wasn’t him and we don’t even feel bad about the verbal scolding. You figure he deserves it for something else he’s getting away with somewhere.

Which is what you should be doing, getting away with something, somewhere. But come back tomorrow for more stuff here. There will be more stuff here.

More. Stuff. Here.

Apr 21

Some pretty photos

The scene from sitting in the backyard today …

This fine day will become important later. We have three trees in the backyard that bloom. Two of them are brilliant, one is a bit shy about it. All of them will be in full-on leaf mode in just a few days. But, for now:

We went for a bike ride today, it was a terrific afternoon for it.

And here’s a two-photo installment for the irregular and not-at-all exhaustive Barns by Bike series.

Let’s check in on the cats, who are doing just fine, thanks. Phoebe is stealing a lap nap here.

She’s been sitting on this box, but now she’s discovered there’s an inside on the inside of this box.

Discovery is a fascinating thing. This one cardboard construct suddenly has many purposes! One giant leap for feline-kind. Also, I like the idea of tail-as-telescope.

Poseidon didn’t discover anything new this week. Sometimes sticking with what you know is where it’s at. He’s catching a nap on the stove cover. He knows it is warm there after you make breakfast.

He did, however, rediscover the refrigerator. He can’t get enough of it. And it’s weird. “Get out of there! But … first … let me take a picture of you.”

Wacky cat.

Apr 21

And, finally, in mid-April

Well happy spring to you, too! I saw this guy at a red light on the drive back from campus last week, but didn’t share it here for whatever reason. But, since the front page went full bloom, it seems like a good time for this one.

It just appeared. One day it was all sticks, and then, this. By tomorrow it’ll be leaves. That’s what’s happening to the blooms in our yard, anyway.

One of the weather services is talking about long range freeze potential.

We had some rain and gray this weekend, but it’s all easily ignorable because, long range potential notwithstanding, it’s obvious and apparent that we’ve finally, finally shifted into a new season. We’ve made it once more.

It rained on us Saturday when we got our customary weekend takeout. It rained during parts of that afternoon, as well, and into the evening. All of this came after Friday evening sprinkles. So we worked in the exercise room.

The previous owners of this house had added on a little exterior kitchen on the back so that they could make their traditional Vietnamese fare. They were going to have it torn down as part of the sell, but we asked them to keep it up, thinking we could use it, and we’ve made a great use of the space after finishing the walls and doing some general cleaning. The upside is we got a little bonus room and a basically brand new kitchen, since the regular one was seldom used.

Anyway, we’ve been using a light industrial throw carpet over plywood in there for a good long while. But some friends put down some new flooring in their pain cave and had very nice things to say about it, and so we are keeping up with the Joneses!

Now, the first thing you have to know about flooring is that it is a virtual certainty that no room is perfectly square, and your walls aren’t likely to be perfectly straight. No difference here. And the second thing is we decided we’ll just make peace with the notion that this is where we store things and, when the weather is bad, where we sweat. So if something is a little off, so be it. We aren’t making the floor of the Sistine Chapel, after all.

(We count ourselves fortunate to have seen the Sistine Chapel. It’s beautiful. The floor is a mess.)

Anyway, the flooring came in this week and we started installing it Saturday. We did the easy parts, building out two walls and leaving the tricky sections until yesterday afternoon. Yesterday there was a lot of sliding around on the floor and measuring odd angles and cutting and insisting on making things fit. And, to be honest, I am more satisfied with the outcome than, perhaps, I should be.

Here’s the tricky part, the non-corner corner. There’s a lot of stuff going on here, two angles, a threshold overhang, door trim, inserting an extra piece because of the way I put all this down. And, without too much consternation — which is how I’ve come to define progress in most any project — it just all clicked together nicely.

Because that dismay never arrived I wondered, and am still curious, about what I’ve done wrong with this stuff — and when I’ll realize it. But, for now this means we can happily put all of the things back in that room.

So, reviewing last week: we dug up a tree (and The Yankee did a lot of other things in yard, besides) and I replaced a faucet and we did that floor. This feels industrious.

The cats like the new floors, because it meant a weekend of access to a room they’re seldom allowed into. And that meant new windows to sit in, where they can see the exact same view of the yard and the woods they can from … seven or eight other windows in the house. Maybe it smells different from there, I don’t really know.

Phoebe took advantage of the clutter to try out the outdoor cushions.

We don’t leave them outside, and so they get stored in the exercise room, generally. So they are kind of new to her, and she was happy to enjoy them all weekend. If a cat can sit in a box, that’s great. If a cat can sit on a half-dozen cushions in a box, that’s better.

A few nights ago we had some potatoes for dinner and Poseidon was very interested.

He never touches the food, I’m sure because he knows we’re standing there waiting to give him grief about it. But he will reach out from time to time. I liked his toes were spread out there, ready to give it a try, if only we weren’t standing right next to him.

Tonight we got takeout Chipotle. First observation, takeout Chipotle is a smaller serving than if you’re dining in. Nice. Second, both cats were very interested in the bag of chips.

Apr 21

Welcome to the new week

Well, Easter was lovely, and quiet. The weather was perfect and we spent the afternoon in the backyard, relaxing in the shade. We had lasagna for dinner, which was delicious. And it was all very calm and productive in it’s own way.

On Saturday we went for a bike ride in the wind.

Not pictured: the wind.

The gusts were gusty, and could push you around. There were two hills and a lot of wind. Did I mention the breeze? I did set eight PRs over the 25 Strava segments on the day’s route. Even my shadow was tired.

We saw this beautiful bit of scenery somewhere between here and there.

I was only able to manage that composition because of the headwind.

The cats were unimpressed by the breeze, housed as they are. They probably slept through it all.

Phoebe was doubly insulated in her little box fortress. (If the cats don’t take over the joint their boxes surely will.)

Poseidon was sitting on my lap the other night and stuck his head through the side of the rocking chair for some reason and it makes sense because you see him staring at the camera, but that’s the wrong takeaway. My phone wasn’t there when he put his head through the rails. The phone was a reaction to his more spontaneous action. The real conclusion, then, is that he’s a weirdo.

And here you can see the rare moment where they are getting along nicely.

That’s how serious naps are around here.