Sunday, March 30, 2008

3 Blocks of Willy St

I love Madison! There is so much to see and discover, if one only looks. This happens to be in the yard at the Williamson Street Art Center. I spent an hour or so working my way from Mad Cat to Ground Zero coffee shop, and found dozens of things to delight me.

Shear Bloom
Shear Bloom

Here be dragons!
Here Be Dragons!

Uncertain Peek

Big Bird at 211
Big Bird at 211

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Spring Training

MZ Adventure Touring Bike
Looking for adventure, in whatever comes our way.

My MZ Baghira supermotard has slowly and deliberately been converted to a multifunctional adventure touring bike. I have added the three hard cases, PIAA high intensity driving lights, and a strap-on cushier sheepskin-covered gel seat pad. All are quickly removable to return the bike to the (sort of) lean 'motard it is at heart.

Today I took a fine 55 mile ride (max temp: 42) and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Most of the trip was with Eric who was riding his trusty BMW F650. I love it when two big thumpers get to go play together. We took a meandering in-town route most of the way out to Sharer Cycle Center, the shop where I bought my MZ. That marque is no longer available in the States, so there were none of them to be seen. They are primarily a Triumph dealer, so it was great to see a few tempting bikes like the Speedmaster and the Scrambler. Once the roads become friendlier, I think I'll take them up on their offer of a test ride on the Scrambler. The route home was more highway miles, and while I was warm enough, I'm not sure my hands would have enjoyed more than another 15 or 20 miles of sustained 60 mph speed The roads, as always this time of year, were crap, covered in a thorough dusting of winter sand and salt. Prudent was the word for the day.

Engine ignition
There is something seductive
in that first moment.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Morning Clarity

Morning Clarity

I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I'm under the table,
after four I'm under my host.

~ Dorothy Parker

I have always been amused by this quote of Parker's, and thought I'd share it. A friend has a different bit of sage wisdom concerning martinis and I was about to simply post it, then decided to check for attribution. I found someone else had done the legwork, and so quote the original:

"Martinis are like breasts, one isn't enough, and three is too many."
~ Herb Caen, who died in 1997.

It was next to another reference that I liked:

"I must get out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini."
~ Alexander Woollcott

There is just something right about a gin martini. I find that I like a more classic martini than a more contemporary super-dry version. I also learned that I prefer Noille Pratt vermouth over the more common Martini brand. Is it still a martini then? Hmmm. I found the best olives at the local coop, and buy only 6-8 of them at a time so that they stay fresh. They are unstuffed, but I generally keep feta cheese in the house for salads, so I have taken to stuffing my martini olives with feta. It's not quite a fetish, but I think it's reaching the ritual stage.

A final thought: Those big honkin' "martini" glasses are not for martinis. They are for frou-frou Cosmopolitans that are half juice. I went to an antique store and bought this classic glass and keep it in the freezer (near the gin and the shaker) so it's always ready.

Bottoms up!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Powerhouse Crocus

What's six or seven inches of snow to a powerhouse like a crocus? These guys generated enough internal heat to melt a hole right through the snow and bloom anyway. Go get 'em, Tiger!

Down, but not out
Down, but not out.

As an aside, I heard on the radio this morning that we officially topped 100" of snow for the season. While not as impressive as the Great Lakes environs get, it certainly is plenty for Madison. While I kow that spring is officially here, it's still too soon to break out the sandals as we have more snow in the forecast for this week.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Alloy Show Promo Shots

Friday night was the 'photo shoot' night for the performers in the upcoming Cycropia aerial dance show, "Alloy". An interesting show, the dancers were largely unfamiliar with the aerial apparatus upon which the show is based. Thus, the earliest weeks were a class, with some instruction and coaching on the equipment. The past few weeks have been specific rehearsal time, with dancers working solo or in duets and trios to create and polish a choreography for the show. Local photographer Mick McKiernan did the real photo shoot, and I dogged his setups so that I could shoot around him. (Sorry if I got in your way at all, Mick!)

While I got a batch of decent photos, I can't wait to see the real shots from Mick. Here are two of mine:

Billy Tucked
Billy, from his solo piece

Delightful Hannah
Hannah, from her solo piece

Please visit my Flickr site to see the rest of the series! LINK. Choose the "View as slideshow" option for the best experience.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Purple Beauty

I love this time of year!  Every day when I come home I make a circuit of the yard to see what's popping up, and where.  I play games with myself to see if I can accurately predict what will be next.  In general I'm pretty good at it.  The tulips caught me off guard though.  Only three days ago they were under a slab of icy, hard-packed snow.  Today they are up over an inch.  There were half a dozen crocus that were showing some color today, and this purple beauty may even have been open during the day while I was at work.  The others probably were not.

Unfurling Beauty
Purple Crocus, furled

Early Tulips
Early tulips

We're supposed to get another 5-9 inches of snow tonight, so that will end the party for a couple of days. The temps promise to return to the low 40's pretty quickly, so the white stuff won't last too long. We have an urban legend around here that we "always" get a blizzard during the boys basketball tourney. I guess this is right on schedule.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Sampson and Delilah?

It turns out my last haircut was in early December.  Of 2006.  It seemed time to try it again.  Things went well right from the start.  Teri at Mr DuWayne's gave me a great shampoo.  The whole treatment, you know; warm water, lean back and get nice vigorous scrubbing action with the hands, and even a bit of releasing on my stiff neck.  Nice!

All smiles at first...

After combing it out a bit, she put my hair up in this darling little topknot:
First the cute topknot...

There is always that moment of concern when they go for your glasses.  Can't help the response, 'cause suddenly you can no longer see just exactly what they're up to.  It's good that I trust them at Mr DuWayne's.
Whoa, a blinding technique! 

I could see this well enough though.  Dang!  That hair was getting kinda long, wasn't it?
Going to any length

I like to think it's really as rich and thick up there as it is on the sides.  I like to think that.  Hard to tell from this angle.  Only my hairdresser, and the 2/3 of the population that's taller than me knows for sure.
What's up?

All in all, I had Teri take roughly 7-8" off the length.  Probably five inches of that was mismatched lengths.  Nothing worth doing anything with.  Now that it's been tidied up, perhaps next time I can do a Locks of Love donation or something.  Who knows?  It's possible my next haircut won't be until July or August of 2009!  I'm not used to the new length yet, but it's a fine haircut.  Well done, Teri!

UPDATE - March 18th:  Boy, forget to include an 'after' photo showing the new do, and all hell breaks loose!  You'd think I'd just forgotten to post a nude photo of Johnny Depp or something.  So, to all who felt ripped off or otherwise cheated, here's the after shot:
Apres cut

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Sunday, March 16, 2008


Today in my yard

Today really helped take my mind off winter and aim it towards spring. First, this eager little crocus raced from nowhere into full bloom! It was only wide open like this for about an hour or two, then it started closing. I took this photo just before I backed my MZ Baghira motorcycle out of the garage and went for a delicious 20-mile ride. I didn't go anywhere in particular, I just kept to the main roads and tried to avoid wet areas (too much salt left on the roads)and the omnipresent sand in all the corners. It was enough simply to be out riding for a bit. Other than my short shakedown ride yesterday, I have not ridden since before Thanksgiving. That's a long non-riding spell for me. Glad it's over!

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Tale of Many Potholes

A Tale of Many Potholes

Bug on the lift

Between the mogul-like ice cover and the cavernous potholes every six feet on the streets in Madison this winter, the suspension on my poor Bug took a beating. While there is nothing technically broken, the following litany of parts needs to be replaced: Sway bar bushings ($230), Tie rods and alignment ($500), Strut bearings ($400) rear brake rotors ($350) and under-engine shields are missing. Nothing like a $1500 winter to make spring welcome.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Beautiful End of Winter

I may be getting pretty tired of winter, but the recent mornings provided some real beauty.  I figure this is the last gasp of winter, as I also have daffodils, crocus, iris, and daylilies sprouting in my yard.  

Morning Frost 2

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Training with Steel

I'm rehearsing for an aerial dance performance that will take place on Sunday, April 6th. The prepartory class, a repertory really, has a dozen or so dancers exploring apparatus with which they are largely unfamiliar. All made of steel, the apparatus run the gamut from small rings (like gymnastics rings) to hula-hoop sized rings (called a lyra) to small and large ladder shapes to a straight pole and a trapezoid. Each of these are hung from a high ceiling, attached at a single point on a swivel. So every thing is free to spin as well as swing. It is a pretty intense, fun experience, though the steel is pretty unforgiving on the body. I have an - interesting - collection of bruises, and arnica and Traumeel are my close friends. Here is a photo from a recent rehearsal:

Hildy, and others, getting comfy with steel.

You can see a couple of the other apparatus in the background. I am working on a piece using the large ladder shown in the foreground, with Hildy (shown) and Ken. The creative process to build this piece is great fun. We're really starting to nail down the details now.

Feel free to contact me if you are interested in tickets to the show.

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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Vulval Ice

Vulval Ice

Vulval Ice

The result of a dripping icicle. When the icicle breaks off, it will fall straight into this chthonic receptacle. How fitting! It's pointing us right at Beltane, and the rites of spring. Beltane is a Pagan celebration of fertility, a welcoming of spring and the sexual energy of creation, be it reproductive or artistic. The Maypole is, of course, a perfect phallic example, but nature herself provides many pointers to the process. Look around you!

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Friday, March 7, 2008

Espressolly for me.

eyeDance eyeOpener

Rich brown foam afloat.
Proper preparation and care
makes a perfect shot.

I never used to drink coffee. In fact, for quite a few years as an adult I despised the smell of it. Then one day I had a good cup of coffee, and it changed everything. Of course, I eased into it, sipping a cup now and again, disdaining a bad cup. Over time I learned that it was possible to get a good cup of coffee many places. Most of all, at home. I went through a series of coffee making devices: Mr Coffee (ugh), single cup filter (OK), French press (good for many years, and still fine). Then I bought a moka pot at a garage sale for $1. Mmmmm, espresso. But as summer rolled around I hated turning a burner on high to boil the pot (no AC in the house those years). I bought an electric moka pot. Bliss! That served me well for a year or two. Then I started experimenting with cappuccino and latte. Along came a milk frother. Tasty, but a real process. So, this week, I broke down and bought a gen-u-ine pump-driven espresso maker. Espresso with crema. Mmmmm! Real steamed milk. MMMmm! I guess I'm hooked. Ahhh.

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

First whiff of spring

A whiff of spring
Captain Hook getting a nose full of spring

This winter has been long, and psychologically brutal. We have had record snowfall, and haven't seen bare ground since December 1st. All around people are grousing about being sick of winter, even the little kids. It's been a grinding three months. This morning, for the first time in seemingly forever, the temp is soaring - it's 39 (F) as I type this - and the sun is out. Everywhere there is the drip-drip-drip of ice melting. People are out chopping ice from their driveway and sidewalk because they CAN.

Our aging kitty, Captain Hook, is outside for the first time in quite a while, and he was instantly delighted to be there. His nose is working overtime, and his special scratching log is partially uncovered so he ran right over to sharpen his claws. I could hear him purring from five feet away.

When I'm done here, I'm going back out to join him. I'm going to clear snow and ice away from the downspouts so that my ice dams can clear. And I'm not going to wear a hat!

UPDATE - 3/3
I'll bet this guy wondered if Captain Hook would make a tasty morsel! Fortunately, he left the kitty alone and kept his eye on the house-remodeling dumpster in the neighbor's driveway.
Are you edible?

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