Category Archives: Art

Garage Town

Today’s post comes from Jacque.

Recently we spent the weekend with friends who are now living in Eveleth, MN.  They moved there 18 months ago when they inherited Jane’s family home from her brother who inherited it from their parents.    Lou saw it when he helped them move there last Spring. This was the first time I viewed it.

When I saw it I realized that Jane inherited a garage with a house, not a house with the garage.

A big hobby in Eveleth, and apparently much of N. Minnesota is restoring vintage cars.  Her brother was into this In A Big Way.  He built a 3 car garage, one stall holding a lift and sporting a heated floor.  Then he built a second 2 car garage perpendicular to the 3 car garage.  There are tools, immaculately kept and carefully arranged throughout the entire facility. No medical operating room could rival for neatness and sanitation.  It was impressive.

We attended a vintage car show near by that testified to the popularity of this particular hobby in Northern Minnesota.   After seeing the car show,  I understood the number of elaborate garages scattered throughout the town. Many people there have this hobby.   The houses in town are small, depression-era homes.  The accompanying garages are large, elaborate, and decked out with the most modern equipment, much like the garages our friends now own.  To be fair, Jane had told me about the hobby and the garages, but really, this was outside of my reality.  I just did not understand until I saw it in person.

 

“What a hobby,” I thought.  “How peculiar.”

But then, what about my hobbies and my peculiar equipment?  After all, I mix clay in a food processor, then run it through a pasta machine, finally baking the end product in a toaster oven.  Maybe the owner of the garages would not find my use of kitchen equipment at all ordinary.

Which leads to the question of the day.

Is there anything odd about your hobby(s)?

 

RIP Michael Johnson

today’s post comes to us from tim.

http://www.rollingstone.com/country/news/bluer-than-blue-singer-michael-johnson-dead-at-72-w492020

i was a huge fan of michael johnson’s rooty toot toot to the moon and other on his there is a breeze album in 1972.

he encompassed all the attributes of the ideal performer. great ability, great artistic sense, very pleasant personality. I saw him play in a small auditorium at normandale jr college ( full house was probably 60.) ansd at the guthrie and then i think i saw him a time or two at orchestra hall the day after christmas in kind of a celebration of one more year and we are still here. even when he moved to nashville and was having reasonable success as a singer songwriter he considered minneapolis st paul his home

he was originally from denver but was so loved in the twin cities that he felt this was his true home. a year ago I saw him play at the dakota which is a wonderful small intimate club downtown and it was great. he forgot a few lines and was embarrassed by it but getting old is part of the deal. I saw him play at the hopkins theater ahttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYttaL_AHLwnd he was as much into telling stories about his life and observations as he was about playing the next song. I had told my daughter emma that i wanted to have her take classes from him at mcnalley smith in stage presence. i took a master class from him at mac phail and was very impressed with his gentle direction and basically the philosophy that when you perform you are offer your audience a gift. once i heard him say that i understood why i enjoyed his stage presence so much. that was it.

when I thought of how I would like to be seen when on stage he is what I came up with.

who are some role models you’d want to emulate?

 

Work & Fun

Today we had summer fun at work.  Out on the big patio, all the tools and t-shirts were ready for tie dying so we just wrapped up our shirts and squirted away.  And I got a temporary tattoo (logo for our summer program).  None of this has anything to do with my actual job, but it was fun and made the day go by a little faster.

What activity makes your work go faster?

 

Photos and Pizza

A little while ago, I got an email from Jacque. She needed a “decent, professional photo” for a guest post she had submitted to a therapy blog.

Now I don’t think of myself as a “people photographer” but I thought that I could do an okay job. I have no studio lights or flash, much less a studio, and Jacque didn’t want a studio photo anyway, so we arranged to meet in her backyard.

I consulted with Steve, the photography expert in our baboon community, and he gave me some tips and suggestions, several of which confirmed things I had learned through photography classes. I made a list, using Steve’s tips and my own ideas:

  • Shoot in burst mode (in order to capture fleeting expressions)
  • Background should be contrasting, dark, and uninteresting
  • Jacque should be far enough away from background so that it is out of focus
  • Subject does not have to smile – she can look thoughtful, serious, intelligent
  • Subject should be in the shade, never the sun
  • Bring a stepstool since I am short and Jacque is not and a portrait pointing up at the face is not very flattering
  • Focus on the EYES
  • Meter the brightest part of the face and then set f/stop and shutter manually so there are not blown out highlights
  • In each new area where I shoot, make the first shot be of a gray card so I can easily get the white balance perfect

When I woke up the morning of our “date,” I was thrilled to see that it was an overcast day. Bright sunshine is the enemy of good outdoor portraits and a cloudy day would make it easier to get a good shot.

When I shot the portraits, I made a few mistakes.There were some stray rays of sunshine (that I hadn’t noticed while shooting)  on her neck in some of them that wrecked an otherwise good picture. I had her too close to the background on some shots, so there were distracting details behind her. But I ended up with enough good shots for her to choose one with which she was happy. And I enjoyed the process, which mostly had to do with how easygoing and nice Jacque is and a little with the realization that I that I could do this.

A week later, Jacque treated me to lunch at Black Sheep Pizza. We ordered the Oyster Mushroom, Smoked Mozzarella, Rosemary & Garlic Pizza and, man, was that good. Even better was a chance to sit and talk. I feel that I had the better part of the deal: I got to shoot pictures of a beautiful person and then enjoy a meal with her.

When have you done a favor for somebody and felt that you benefited more than the person you helped?

Songs That Make Us Cry

Today’s post comes to us from Steve.

So many issues ultimately come down to a chicken-or-the-egg controversy. For example, do we cry because sad music causes tears to flow? Or is it more that we get in such a funk that we play music we know will cause the waterworks to kick into high gear?

Some music makes me weep, and sometimes it is the same music that sends other folks into crying jags. But it gets complicated. Some songs that are sure to send many folks running for a box of tissues have no effect on me. I’ve read that Adele has done wonders for the sale of Kleenex, but she doesn’t get a sniffle from me. And I’m an easy weeper.

I just read an article that tries to explain why only some music makes us cry. If you are interested, the article is by NBC News, and here is the link: //https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/why-do-certain-songs-make-us-cry-ncna784801

What songs—if any—make you cry? I vaguely remember an earlier discussion on Trail Baboon that got into this. One surprising finding was that there is a song about a boat (of all things) that makes Baboons bawl. I’ll admit to being one of them. Here is an interesting You Tube video. It has an unusual intro that is worth listening to:

My strong hunch is that another song that makes me cry is one that also affects other Baboons. I think I’m the person who introduced Dale Connelly and Tom Keith to Eva Cassidy. I sent them a CD and a note to say that her songs make me cry, especially this one:

Of course, Cassidy died far too young, and I’m sure that is part of her impact on me.

I have long admired the special ability of Bonnie Raitt to sing what I call “heartbreak songs.” She sings many songs that involve a compassionate person talking about heartbreak in terms that seem utterly authentic. For me, heartbreak songs coming from Bonnie Raitt have more credibility than they could have from any other singer. I was touched when Raitt admitted, in a Scott Simon interview, that singing one of those songs in concert has a serious physical and emotional impact on her. As often as she has sung them, when she delivers one of those songs she is left drained and has to turn to other kinds of music in order to recover. Here is one of my favorites:

Some songs are so sad it isn’t a wonder that they make us cry. As a teen I learned to be careful where I was when I heard a song about a dead dog. So it is hardly surprising that a song like this next one would make people cry:

I mean—Clapton is singing to his dead kid, wondering if they would recognize each other in heaven! That’s pretty emotional stuff! (Pardon me while I blow my nose!)

One of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard was written by a very funny and impish guy. But I have it on good authority that this song also moves many people:

Seeing other people cry can make us cry. Here is an interesting example of that:

And—just to keep this post from being too heavy—here is a song so over the top and manipulative that I can’t imagine a normal person crying after hearing it. There is sentiment . . . and then there is maudlin weepy excess. A song that was designed clumsily to yank our heartstrings was one of Elvis Presley’s early hits. And here he is . . . with a bit of a spin. This is actually the (now dead) comedian Andy Kaufman singing one of Elvis Presley’s sappiest songs:

I need a tissue! No . . . after that one, I need a shower!

What (if any) songs make you cry?

 

Skill Set

We spent the weekend in Brookings, SD visiting our son and daughter in law. They moved to a new town home a couple of weeks ago, a place they will reside for a couple of years while they financially position themselves to purchase their first home.

Every time they move to a new place, they request my assistance hanging pictures. They insist that I am the only one who can hang the pictures straight, at the correct height, perfectly centered, and do it virtually error free. They say they make too many extraneous nail holes if they do it themselves.  So, I scramble on top of the sofas, chairs, beds, and other furniture, measuring, marking, stretching, reaching, and pounding nails and picture hangers.

Each time they ask me to do this, I demonstrate, one more time, how to figure out where the center is, how to make sure groups of pictures are evenly spaced and at the same height, and I show them the tools they need. I also demonstrate how to hide extraneous holes with tiny screws of tissue and/or toothpaste. It isn’t rocket science. I learned this from my mother, who was a meticulous picture hanger, measuring side to side, ceiling to floor, to find the perfect spot for the nail.

They were so happy to have the pictures on the walls, and declared that the art and photos made their new place truly home. It could have looked like home much earlier if they did it themselves.

What skill set does your family depend on you for? What is your plan for teaching them to do it without you?

 

 

Baby Talk

Today’s post comes to us from Bill.

I was driving somewhere the other day and my iPod was playing randomized tunes. Patsy Cline’s “Back in Baby’s Arms” had just finished and was followed by John Pizzarelli singing “Be My Baby Tonight”. That started me thinking about the use of “Baby” as a term of endearment. It’s probably the most common way of addressing one’s significant other in popular music. More popular, I suspect, in songs than in real life.

In the 47 years Robin and I have been together, I’ve never called her an infant. But, as one who can’t let random musings pass unconsidered, I wonder: How and when did infantilizing one’s partner become desirable? Why would that be considered romantic? Is calling someone a baby ever the basis of an equitable adult relationship?

And isn’t it sort of creepy when you think about it?