the categorical days: Friends

March 06, 2010


2/27/10 - Thanks to Tom for snapping this photo.

Hats off to my friend Mr. Pratt for bringing the wine a very long way to dinner.

It was serendipity that his travels brought him to Cincinnati on the last week of February, as the final Saturday of the month is a holiday of sorts. Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) is an annual event coined a decade ago by John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter, former wine columnists for the Wall Street Journal.

The intent of the occasion doesn't fit neatly in a greeting card.

In Dorothy & John’s words:

This is why we invented OTBN, which is celebrated on the last Saturday of February every year. Whether it's the only bottle in the house or one bottle among thousands, just about all of us have that very special wine that we always mean to open, but never do. On OTBN every year, thousands of bottles all over the world are released from prison and enjoyed. With them come memories of great vacations, long-lost loved ones and bittersweet moments. The whole point of our wine column is that wine is more than the liquid in the bottle. It's about history, geography, relationships and all of the things that are really important in life.

(from Sprucing Up for Wine's Night. 26 January, 2007)

That's pretty kick ass. During their tenure at the WSJ they rated wines on a scale of "Yech", "OK", "Good", "Very Good", "Delicious" to "Delicious!". That's also kick ass.

So it was a good set-up as we met Tom & Wendy at a favorite restaurant that allowed outside beverages (see corkage).

Mr. Pratt brought the wine. Each bottle, carefully considered, was coupled with stories both dear and auspicious.

When I asked him what he thought after having a sip from the second bottle he said "ineffable." With some shame I asked him what that meant.

"There are no words. It means it can't be described" but he went on to mention that it had a feeling, a sort of tingling.

Great, I thought. Here I said it had the aroma of a freshly painted room—which it did—but what I didn't say is that a freshly painted room was the smell of new beginnings! But I felt a little tingle too; and I don't think it was from embarrassment.

Tangent? I once worked with a designer that never said anything negative when a client offered lame input. He'd simply say, "Well, that is really something!" with palpable excitement.

Luckily my friend isn't one to mince words and he regarded the paint fume comment without visible distress. He's also very patient.

I always thought patience was one of the most important components of wine, but this day gave me the perspective that it's not always about waiting, it's also about sharing the experience, and this evening was exceptional.


Filed under: Food, Friends | | Comments (0)

June 30, 2009

lunchbag puppets

Oh hi there

My friends had a birthday party for their youngest yesterday.
A bit of a miracle that one year old.
I like these friends and don’t see them enough.
Their house is filled with life.
Right out in their front yard is a vegetable garden.
On the day I visited, the back was filled with families and kids running all around.
There was a slip and slide,
tables filled with summery salads,
brownies and cake.
Inside, an activity room had these lunchbag puppets lined up saying, “photograph me!”

Current music: Grizzly Bear "While You Wait For The Others"

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May 02, 2009

the conga line went directly to the bar


Attended a lovely ceremony for the union of Jenn and Laura on Saturday.

And though I sadly did not tear it up on the dance floor or hop in this conga line,

I did step in the awesome photobooth set up at the reception.

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April 26, 2009

Guamanian fiesta

a carrot cupcake was a fraction of the awesome

The weekend closed out with a "BBQ extravaganza / authentic Guamanian fiesta" hosted by our new friend Jenny.

Her cousin Joe with a big smile and a wicked talent on ukulele was visiting.

Together they curated a feast of delicious-ness (ribs, steak, marinated cucumber, grilled pineapple, corn on the cob and apple slaw to name a few dishes) paired with seemingly never-ending pitchers of margaritas.

I'm salivating in recollection.

With a house full of well-fed musical folks, Joe coaxed out some sweet singing with his uke and it drifted beyond the dinner table and into the yard.

I think the appropriate word for days like this is blessed.

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April 25, 2009

this had the potential to end in tears

Luckily it did not. Other toys were found to occupy their attention.

Saturday was perfect for a grillout, and friends down in Loveland had one fired up for a Draft Day party.

I'm not exactly sure what all the football stuff was all about, but since the chart of colleges and draft picks was on the table with the chips and dips, I would pop inside, nod, and graze.

Outside was breezy and perfectly sunny. If folks weren't old or pregnant we would have set up the Ladder Golf set (also known as Hillbilly Horseshoes, Bolo Toss, Monkey Balls, Chuck Your Nuts, Dangly Bits, Donkey Balls, Golfshoes, Twigs and Berries, Rodeo Golf, and many more... for real).

Instead we enjoyed spending time between the sun and the shade, nursing cool drinks, circling the grill, and running after kids. Good times.

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January 31, 2009

Grace turns 12

Someone got crazy with the candles, I counted more than 12

Birthday party on Saturday.

Finally an audience where I could talk about Twilight openly! (My mom's letting me borrow her copy of the vampire romance novel.)

Every time I put on the coat to leave, I kept getting wrapped up in laughter and conversation.

Good times, great pizza, and more awesome cake.

Bonus, Amy's keen decorating idea.

Filed under: Friends | | Comments (1)

November 25, 2008

The "new" guy

cuttin it up

This is Joel.

You may have noticed him modeling some of the new shirts over at the shop. Well maybe not, since I'm always cropping off everyone's heads.

Anyway, Joel has been with us for like a year now, so he's technically not the new guy, but he is the newest. He comes in a few days of the week and can jump into darn near any project we've got going. That alone makes him valuable, but the real bonus is that he's a bright and fun guy, with a passionate (and yes, maybe quirky) taste for music; whether he's picking out an album to play, or talking about his own creations.

The only thing we disagree on is how to say Appalachia.

All in all, we lucked out finding him.

Current music: Thao & The Get Down, Stay Down "Yes, So On And So On"

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November 02, 2008

Make sure you have room in your heart for absolutely everybody

On August 18, Dan and Chris (no not me and Dan) got married in San Diego

I'm standing there in California, which in itself is a fresh batch of cookies for the soul.

The garden is packed with smiling people—each face trained on handsome grooms.

I'd known the couple to wed for years. We met for the first time in the spring of 2003 and liked another well enough to travel to Europe that autumn.

In the time we've known each other, Chris and Dan have taught me how to appreciate wine, the joy of British humour, hardiness zones for plants, and a host of other things that enriched my world view.

When I heard that after 14 years together they were getting married, I marked my calendar and hung the invitation on our fridge.


So there I was, back at the ceremony on that August afternoon.

A fella named Austin officiated with particular charm, telling the story of how Dan and Chris met. He spoke of their love for one another and for everyone that stood before them to witness that day. I don't remember all the words but I will say that I stole the title of this journal entry from Austin's recollection of the day:

"Make sure you have room in your heart for absolutely everybody."

I'm not going to try and butch it up folks. I cried at the apex of the ceremony.

These were tears for not only my friends, but for the very experience and possibility of their union.

As election day looms, I'm reminded that this marriage might be revoked if Proposition 8 is passed in California. And even though this is all going on with seven states between us, it's heartbreaking to see the news and advertisements from the opposition.

I'm reminded of words by Robert F. Kennedy,

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanish it with a program, nor with a resolution. But we can perhaps remember – even if only for a time – that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short movement of life, that they seek – as we do – nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness.
On that afternoon, in that backyard garden in San Diego, I shared some of that happiness, and I'm very grateful.

PhotosHere are some images from the day

Filed under: Bears, Friends | | Comments (3)

October 29, 2008

a handmade envelope

just because

A friend sent a handwritten letter in a nice homemade envelope the other day, and I've been carrying it with me ever since.

Slipping it between the screen and keyboard of my laptop.

Sometimes I'll put it in my pocket and find it again just before bed, setting it by my glasses for pick-up the next morning.

Soon? It will likely serve time as a bookmark.

I even updated my homepage with more artwork from this scan.

I'm not obsessing, really. (Trust me, I spend way too much time on political websites of late to have time to be obsessed about anything else).

It's just that I wanted to remember to make note of this note.

I want to write one back.

Then write dozens more.

In lieu of doing just that, I'm writing this journal entry.

It's not the same—I know—but it is a reminder.

Virtual string around the finger.

Filed under: Friends | | Comments (2)

October 18, 2008

Farm Day 6

printing shirts in the studio

Saturday was the sixth day out on the farm when friends and family drop by to wander the fields, eat cookies in the shape of ghosts, strum guitars, draw faces on pumpkins, and stop by the studio to print up a shirt.

It was so good I left pleasantly exhausted from the all the fun and sufficiently stuffed from the spread of goodies. This year was potluck. Everybody with last names betwee A-L brought a side dish and K-Z hooked up the desserts. (Yum!)

Current music: something from Talking Heads

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August 02, 2008

I believe this routine is called "Superbaby"

One way to achieve tremendous upper-body strength

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April 01, 2008

blue dinosaur cake

Before becoming extinct

I had nothing to do with this piece of art, aside from eating a slice.

It's now a tradition for Wendy to ask her daughter what kind of cake she would like for her birthday. Last year was the princess castle. This year? Blue dinosaur. I think it had a technical dinosaur name, but they've changed all these since I was a kid so I can't remember. If it isn't T Rex, brontosaurus, stegosaurus, or triceratops, I have no idea what you're talking about.

Whatever variety, it was delicious.

Looking mighty forward to next year.

I lifted these bits from Wendy to share:

The cake pattern was based on these 3-D Dragon/Dinosaur Cake Instructions. (There's also a YouTube video of how to make a dinosaur cake if you're so inclined.)

Wendy mentions that the sparkly sugars covered up any ooopses and gave it a little extra zing. She used Wilton Sparkling Sugars if you're interested.

Some behind the scenes photos by Bonnie and Wendy:

Current music: R.E.M. "Sing For The Submarine"

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March 28, 2008

She almost always comes in town for the holidays

The lucky cats by the front door at Sizzling Wok

And though we talk a big game about going downtown and getting something fancy, we end up back at the chinese joint from our youth.

She's a little exhausted from trying to squeeze in visits to friends and family, but after a few rounds and some conversation, she's re-energized and we are 19 again.

Figuring out how to make the ourselves and the world better.

Previously, December 2004 (We still order from the menu, avoiding the sneeze guard on the buffet.)

Filed under: Friends | | Comments (0)

February 25, 2008

how chest hair and elbow grease saved Monday

This is what I work with...

I don't think Mercury really left retrograde until last night.

Maybe right around the time John Stewart summoned Marketa Irglova back onstage to deliver her half of an acceptance speech for original song at the Oscars. [ view clip ]

I'm so rooting for optimism after a week of misunderstandings, lame communication on my part, wires crossed, and general malaise. Don't get me wrong, there were bright spots, but overall...(insert grumbling)

But today we were a full studio. No snow delays. No cancelled school. Babysitter on tap. Rock.

We started off with the albatrosses—a short list of everything hanging over our collective heads that we must tackle to get to the good stuff.

And then we closed our computers, put the caps on our list-making pens, and hit the press. Cranking out a batch of shirts, wrapping up others with twine, and clearing off counter space along with a bit of our conscience.

We ended early with enough time to do some product photography. Wendy and I prefer when Tom wears the modeling hat, and Tom seems to love running around with his shirt off between wardrobe changes. Today he was especially proud to share newfound growth on his chest.

Maybe there's some metaphor here about how things can get hairy, but I think it's really just a reminder to smile and work with what we're given.

Filed under: Friends | | Comments (2)

February 09, 2008

Brunch Club February 08

Fruit, tofu dog, donut, ketchup

This isn't actually what was on the menu for brunch club, our early-in-the-day potluck version of dinner club, but it was served to a couple of kids right after everybody left.

Because when you get a bunch of young ones together, the least interesting thing to do is eat. There is only time for running, playing, jumping, and expending every morsel of energy. Hence the post-meal pictured above.

This marked the first time I've met my friend Anne and John's little boy. He's a handsome handful. And another couple are expecting their third.

S'all good.

We're getting a handle on keeping dinner club alive with the ever growing guest-list.

PhotosLots of photos of little ones (we adults know what we look like)

Current music: Once (sountrack) - "Fallen from the Sky"

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December 27, 2007

Never too many thank yous

A snapshot from a gift, a book called The Andy Warhol Show
This piece: "Handle with care—Glass—Thank you" 1962

Christmas Day: I went to visit friends because seeing kids run around a tree is a great way to feel the spirit of the holiday. The little ones were already exhausted from their toys, chasing each other for entertainment. I scarfed a maple scone and watched the blurs.

The whole gang left to see the grandparents a few hours later. "C'mon down." my friends said. They always have room for more. I wasn't going to see my mom until later in the afternoon, so I pushed aside the guilt of not bearing any gifts and drove over.

I was welcomed warmly, pointed to the direction of coffee, and invited to sit for gift exchange.

Scratching my head on the inside how it was possible, a pile of wrapped items appeared for me to open.

I had help from the kids—imparting my gift-guessing skills in the process. I explained the logic of touch, shape, tilt and heft. I used big words, and it though it might've seemed the small ears weren't listening, I knew they were.

The gifts were great—more than great.

But I want to note one in particular. The last in the stocking. Palm sized, it made a rattle when shaken. My unwrapping compadre and I were perplexed with no guesses. Their small fingers wrestled eagerly with the tape and paper.

It was a box of paperclips.

I about lost it, but all that came out was a smile.

Always knitting my brows trying to find the perfect gift, I routinely forget—its not about that at all. It's about a lot of things, I figure, but being together ranks up way up there.

I shall bite my lip if ever I say the magic is gone or the spirit is lost in the season.

I have paperclips to remind me.

Current music: Damien Rice "Delicate"

Filed under: Friends | | Comments (1)

December 23, 2007


Eddie aims

Birthday party last evening.

What to buy a 9 year old?

With some asking around, I got one response.


I can dig that. I was totally into knights and armor and whatnot around that age.

By the time all the wrapping paper was whisked away, there was enough nerf ammo to start a small tactical operation.

I'm just happy to have had a big slice of lasagna.

PhotosA handful of photos from the evening

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November 24, 2007

The Thanksgiving that was

Before it gets too blurry...

I've many things to be thankful for this year. I'm determined to write each thing down, on paper, put a stamp to them, and send 'em out to those responsible.

If I can post every day in November, I can take a few off in December and do that very thing.

But I'm focused on one thing right this second, as I sift through photos from this past holiday. Some shout outs of immediate appreciation to my mom for the slice of time before dinner (and the buttermilk pie), and Kevin and Jodi—preparers of a most memorably delicious Thanksgiving meal.

We just polished off the last of the leftovers, and it is decided, we're going to need some recipes. But I'm sure we would have a hard time recreating them.

PhotosSome photos from my mom's house, then food, glorious food

Current music: Efterklang "Illuminant"

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November 21, 2007

crawling really fast

Too fast to focus

The holidays have unofficially started.

A good dozen friends from high school, their significant others, and kids came together for a pre-thanksgiving dinner tonight. It was a bit of surprise to see folks from Los Angeles, South Carolina, Virginia, and Florida in attendance—though not everyone strayed far from our alma mater.

New Richmond if you're curious. A small town that only had two stoplights, a Big Boy and a pizza joint when I was growing up. We also had a kick-ass public school system that taught me a thing or two, and forged friendships that stick some thirty years later. (I'll do the math, that means I've known some of these folk since I was five.)

I figure our parents might have thought we were an unusually tight bunch. Though we're not all pen-pally, there are never too many twists in the grapevine to keep apprised of who is where and up to what (without the bother of Facebook or MySpace.) It's baffling really, but I'm not one to second-guess this stuff.

Time flies and it's good to have anchors planted along the path.

PhotosYes, I was annoying with the camera. Didn't capture everyone, but here's 40 snapshots from the evening

Current music: James Blackshaw "Transient Life In Twilight"

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November 10, 2007


I wanna play

I stopped to check on some stuff with Wendy yesterday, and she was deftly juggling her youngest (who is now officially crawling) and oldest (who is a bundle of energy) while the middle one was out for a nap.

It was that antsy part of the afternoon when an activity is good to focus young energy. Wendy broke out a classic Colorforms set and immediately I flashed back to the Smurfs set I had growing up.

This set was basic primary colors and shapes. Anything was possible and man I just wanted to chuck my work duties and just sit there and join in the fun. But I needed to run to the post office and bank, and (insert gigantic to-do list).

A virtual check in later revealed the fruits of their labor—butterfly and mountain range (continue to view).

Continue reading "Colorforms"

Filed under: Friends | | Comments (2)

October 22, 2007

Farm Day 5

yum, digits

Another fall-tastic Farm Day.

The weather smiled for the 5th annual shindig out on the farm. In addition to the food, drink, and inflatable bounce house for the young ones, a windy path through the fields gave an opportunity to enjoy the sunshine.

A history of creating shirts for the event took a twist this year: Instead of stocking up beforehand, folks got to print their own out in the studio. We had quite a line while kids young and old picked out their own tee and stepped up to the press. So much fun, it will become the new tradition. I should mention, toddlers lucked out and their parents got to do all the work.

I had to scoot before dinner was set out, but managed to squeeze in lots of fun (and more than a handful of tasty appetizers.)

Current music: Gary Jules "How Can I Tell You" (can't find the version from that Diamonds is Forever commercial)

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October 13, 2007

Drew-o-Rama and Daisy Fuentes sunglasses

Cheap shades

One of the wonky things about this aspect ratio I've locked myself into is that it's hard to get a close-up portrait squeezed in the frame without lopping off major faceparts.

Such is the case when I had dinner with Drew this week down at my favorite pizza joint. Great guy I've known for years, also the man behind the Design Cincinnati blog that features design and architectural tidbits from our region.

I did manage to grab a snapshot in the low light of the coffeeshop afterward, where conversation somehow revealed it was his birthday.

Dagnabbit Drew, had I know that we wouldn't have gone dutch.

An inspired chat about life and design flowed with the coffee and tea, where I also found out he's got a penchant for cheap sunglasses. Now I know what to get him next year.

Current music: The Flaming Lips "The Strange Design Of Conscience"

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September 23, 2007

Dinner Club: Breakfast Edition, Pleasant Ridge

A few of the young faces that made an appearance

Dinner Club is now going into it's third year, and admittedly we've been slacking on these semi-monthly get togethers.

Everyone keeps making babies.

This is one excuse that is perfectly awesome.

And though it's harder to find a slice of time (or the babysitters required) to make an evening affair out at a restaurant we make do with potluck breakfast.

I figure in a few years we can at least pencil in Chuck E. Cheese’s.

Until then I'm just glad to get to see these friends when I can, and I will never turn down chocolate waffles.

Current music: Eluvium "In A Sense"

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September 08, 2007

slumber party

And our lamps don't line up

Brown had a rehearsal up in Springfield (she's a percussionist) and instead of driving the hours back to Cincinnati, she crashed at our pad.

It was late so we didn't get too rowdy.

The evening ended with a round of that Mario Party game on the Wii. A game that has potential to be awesome, but falls flat with all the animation and rig-a-ma-roll between turns. Pity.

Current music: Ulrich Schnauss "For Good"

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September 04, 2007

No pumpkins

My shadow is long

Dinner with my mom, Dan, Tom, Wendy and the crew closed out the holiday weekend.

It was so good, I wanted _just one more day_ of holiday weekend.

After dinner, we tromped around the pumpkin patch looking for anything semi-round and orange. No luck. Some type of animal, large or small, got there first.

Current music: Wunder "What I Know"

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July 14, 2007

twist on a classic

This? A bloody mary with homegrown tomatoes

Headed up to Yellow Spring last night for a dinner under the stars with Chris and Inger. They made good with a brisket and a peach crisp dessert that I'm still rolling over in my tastebud memory.

Last time we went there I had a Wiedemann. The future of that honey-tinged brew is now in question as the company that makes it wrestles with bankruptcy.

I think the future of bloody marys is brighter.

Current music: Tom Waits "In the Neighborhood"

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July 07, 2007

nice place

a beautiful view

After the work whistle blew for the week it was time for a beer. Luckily there were friends rolling through town and a gathering happened on the east side of Cincinnati at the home of Heidi and Brian - and man do they have a nice place. A little slice of it pictured above.

I've mentioned Heidi before, known her and a fella named Doug since I was 5.

Always happy to see 'em, and both were present with their budding families in tow.

So as kids ran around (I think the collective has produced enough to staff a good lookin baseball team) the adults tried to squeeze in some grown-up catch-up.

Good times. I should just have a common end to these entries: there are more pictures of course, but today is looking mighty fine and it's my fella's birthday - 07/07/07, 7th son of a 7th son even. That bodes well. Time to pack the swim trunks and head north.

Current music: Ryan Adams "Two"

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July 01, 2007

Welcoming Wyatt

10 fingers, 10 toes

I drove down to check in on my friends Heather and Ed to give a proper howdy to their new son John Wyatt, born just days ago on June 26th.

When Ed called at 6 in the morning that Tuesday, I didn't think I could get there in time from Saugatuck. Turns out I could have flown from Hawaii and made it in with hours to spare.

It was a long, long day for them - and frankly, it was probably best I didn't make it because the waiting would have made me a nervous wreck.

See, I've known Heather since 7th grade and she falls genuinely in that BFF category. So we're stuck with each other whether we like it or not, and for the most part, it's all good. I could recount the memories but man am I behind on journaling.

The important thing here is that she's now a mom, the kid's a champ, and I'm super happy for 'em.

Photos A few photos of Wyatt

Current music: Indigo Girls "Watershed"

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June 04, 2007

Jules & Brandon

Done wed. June 2, 2006

The rain clouds held back for the ceremony and through the reception. Everything was wonderful even though I petered out early because I had too much fun the night prior.

I woke up to see the sun rise through sheets of rain on top of that mountain. Threw the wet tent in the trunk and drove the 7 odd hours home with enough energy left over to piece together some of the photos from the event...

It will be hard to forget this first trip to Asheville, but I look forward to getting back there and exploring more of this place.

Until then, a few favorites from the memory card:

The rehearsal dinner chocolate wrapper.

Clark warming up his cello chops.

This handsome crew of fellas.

A peek inside the honeymoon yurt (not seen: the kitchenette and shower)


and lots more...

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May 09, 2007

bump no more

Another view from Sunday (the pug won out)

Noted because the stork delivered news via text message this morning.

This bump is no more, but now an 8 pound 15 ounce baby fella.

Oh, and he's 22 inches long which is information I still don't know what to do with, but I will leave that mystery alone and simply congratulate Jason and Kate.

Current music: Oneida "Up With People"

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May 08, 2007

Dinner Club: wants chocolate waffles

pugshot from dinner club get-together which was actually brunch this past Sunday

Semi-related bonus link: A piece about the grammar of those addictive cat pictures. You know the ones.

[ Alternate view for today's entry ]

Current music: Bee Gees "Sad Eyes"

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February 24, 2007



Last night I signed all the papers at the dealership and took the keys to a sage green VW Rabbit. Lots of things in the universe made it even possible.

I haven't driven much as I needed to return the rental today. A most gracious tip of the hat to Mark for being my savior, taxi driver, lunch, and matinée friend. (We saw The Abandoned and I think it might have been better on youtube in 45 seconds)

It was a tough call (the car, not the movie, really, skip it) as the Honda Fit and Subaru Forester were tempting alternatives.

But the interior of the Rabbit won me over. The knobs are knobs.

I feel like I haven't seen it in the sunlight yet, which is sorta true. It's been overcast all day and now an ice storm will keep it* off the road.

* her? him? German language genders neutral : 'das Auto'

I can't wait to drive, but right now, I'm more worried for someone on the road.

Current music: Sun Kil Moon "Grey Ice Water"

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February 12, 2007

power line birds

Through windshield [ + zoom, uncrop ]

Snow coming?
Need basics (milk, eggs, cheese).

Almost caught up on work.
Not caught up on replying to kind words.

Bonus video from Saturday: Meet Ellery Jane proper.

Current music: Low & Springheel Jack "Hand So Small"

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February 10, 2007


a welcome and beautiful one

I won't be able to give justice to the last 12 hours, but today I witnessed the birth of a child.

When the parents, dear friends, asked if I would like to be present there was no hesitation to experience an event I would have very few chances to behold.

And though there were many hours of waiting, with nurses and doctors visiting every few notches on the clock to monitor progress, the arrival of their daughter came quickly.

In those last moments of pushing, in throes of fear and wonder, my eyes filled with tears that coursed through every fiber of being.

And all of a sudden, she was.


My gratitude is endless.

A video of the day:

Posted on Vimeo

Filed under: Friends | | Comments (7)

February 08, 2007

someone I know is about to have a baby

Really, really soon

Current music: Jack Johnson "We're Going To Be Friends"

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