Aardvark Art Glass

a little bit of knowledge
September 23, 2008, 4:27 pm
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I found out a month or so ago that Don’s employer is going to send us to Mexico again next February. This is really excellent news as it was rumored that last year’s trip was the final one. Chiefly among the things I wished I had done before the last trip is learn Spanish. Some Spanish. Enough to get by and sound polite. Now that the wedding is out of the way that’s what I’m trying to do, again, in my spare time-learning Spanish from books. My learning tool of choice would have been that interactive Rosetta Stone computer program. That seems good to me because it’s visual. From it’s on line tutorial I still remember that “adam” is Turkish for “man”. Can’t take that away from me. The program is really spendy, though, and there’s about 30-100 holds on all of the copies of it at the library so, so much for that. Unless one of you guys owns a copy? Just thought I’d ask.

Yeah, back about twenty years ago in college I knew Spanish–enough to get by anyway. My knowledge has been reduced to a random smattering of words like “to the right”, “to the left” and “then”. They’re pretty much useless to me. The best analogy I can draw to illustrate the utility of my college education (or what’s left of it now-everything but art has fallen by the wayside) is comparing it to a big walk-in closet that doesn’t have a light in it. I go in there frequently looking for stuff that I remember putting there, but, if I happen to find something at the time that I was looking for it, it is completely by chance. More often facts just kinda fall out of it unexpectedly, like a lone shoe you forgot you owned, without benefit of references or explanations to back up their existenence. When I do find something I’m looking for it makes me so happy. Four and a half years well spent, I think. I try to put it back in a place where I can find it again but you know how that goes.

But back to the Spanish learning. I got a book off of Amazon by a guy who refers to himself as the Language Heretic. If it proves helpful I will recommend it to you. He’s into teaching Spanish vocabulary by using lots and lots of cognates (words that are similar in Spanish and English). I kinda skipped that part because a lot of those words like stalagmite, prehensile-I didn’t need them taking up room in my closet. The L.H. keeps the number of conjugated verbs that you need to memorize to a manageable size, a dozen, which is nice. Verb tenses are something else again. I haven’t thought about that stuff in a long time-perfect pasts and imperfect pasts. The book does have lots of little cut and dried rules applying to tenses that are quite helpful, so we have that going for us once we figure out which tense we’re looking at.

So far the most helpful thing for me has been the colored post-it note flashcards with the English on one side and the Espanol on the other. I’m going with nouns and stuff first so I can have something to talk about once I memorize the conjegutated verbs. Now when I think “onion” in my head I see a pink post-it note upon which is written in blue pen a word that starts with a “C” and ends with an “A” and has a double “L” in it. There are other equally important letters that I’m not seeing, but let’s not diminish my accomplishments thus far. The point is I need a picture of a word in my head to remember it. I see “lechuga” when I think “lettuce” and “sandia” when I think watermelon. I hope like hell I run into some peanuts in Mexico because it was a long time before I was able to see “cacahuetes” when I thought of those. What I really like about my post-it notes is that the pile of words that I know gets larger and more colorful all the time. It’s a very tangible and satisfying way to measure progress.

The funny thing about this whole movie is that I know Don is going to kick my ass at learning Spanish. He doesn’t really care about learning it all that much–he just wants me to write up a list of the conjugated verbs from the book and leave it in the bathroom so he can study them during his free time when he’s on the toilet. Don’s a word person. And he’s really regular. Without resorting to colored squares he can remember this stuff easy in the time allotted. One day he will emerge from the can talking like a native. Hopefully by then I’ll have moved on to “fork”. That one starts with a “T” and ends with a “R” and it’s on a green post it note. (Green is for nouns you can’t eat.) Yup.


The Mother of all Weddings
September 22, 2008, 2:43 pm
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How cool is that? Getting married up on the mound at Azatlan State Park? Pretty cool. An interesting blend of traditional and hippie styles. All of the pictures I have of the wedding were taken blind because my camera blacks out when you hold it up outdoors. That one was the least crooked. Blacking out is preferable to what the camera does at night:

I guess that’s from moisture or something? Or fairies? I don’t know. I was too tired and confused at that point to figure it out. There were about 5 pictures like that and then it went away. But enough of my technical difficulties…

Anyway, this wedding…it went about as great as anyone could hope for. The weather was perfect, we brought just the right amount of beer, there was enough electricity for everyone, no one fell down the hill at the park. What was especially neat was that almost everything (except for the catering, I think) was brought by a friend or family member. That includes Erika’s hair and make-up, the porta-potties, the cake, the officiating, the beer, the music, the reception site, the ice sculptures, the booze, the rings, the tents, the photography, the balloon arch–all people Aaron and Erika know. That was a fun crowd. A lot of ’em camped out on Saturday night. One person just fell asleep on the ground. I remember seeing him on the way to my tent, just as I was questioning my own ability to make it to my tent. He was a little iffy the next day. I’ve never seen anyone so happy to be reunited with their sunglasses as he was the next morning.

But anyway, back to the stuff at the wedding–Erika’s sister Jeanne and Jeanne’s husband Max own Art Below Zero, an ice carving company. Peruse their gallery because they do some incredible stuff. I really like this dump truck shrimp display. One of the sculptures at the wedding was a giant mock-up of Erika’s signature with which she signs her welded pieces:

It says “E.K.”, see? The picture is off  center, of course. Up in that round part is a little anvil and hammer.

Pretty neat-o, huh? Nice thing about ice sculptures is: nothing to pack up the next day. Sad thing about ice sculptures: nothing to pack up the next day.

Here’s a picture of Aaron wearing the cuff links I made:

Funny thing about that is-none of the groomsmen had cuff link-ready shirts. Small detail, probably should have checked before hand. They improvised by making their own cuff link holes with a steak knife.

So Don and I are just dog tired after that whole thing. This event was like helping someone move, dressing up, getting really loaded, camping and then helping someone move again. I was only helper monkey–I wasn’t involved in the performance at all, but I did a lot of shit. There’s no avoiding doing stuff if you’re Don’s helper monkey. Don, by the way, did a stellar job officiating the ceremony–his marrying speech thing (whatever you call it) was a really funny welding analogy about the briefness of actual welding time compared to time spent preparing the surfaces and cleaning up your work space. Don thought the welding analogy was, in it’s ease, going for the low-hung fruit but everyone loved it. It was very apropos.

I think I’m going to go clean up at home now. One more thing to plug though-An Etsy store where I bought a wedding present for Erika and Aaron. Trixie Delicious writes and draws all manner of things on vintage plates and tea sets. I find her work extremely hilarious. Even though she is in New Zeland I recieved my plate within about a week of ordering it. I got the one that says “Weirdo” on it.

What-not and pending nuptuals
September 17, 2008, 3:18 pm
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Well, we’ve got a tile floor in our downstairs bathroom now. (We are dangerously close to having one tiny room in our house that is completely fixed!) As far as I’m concerned the whole house should be tile. It’s so easy to clean and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to install it. I could put it in, even. I really want to do the kitchen-the linoleum on the floor in there stopped responding to cleaning some 30 years ago.

The kitchen project may be put on hold for a while because…miracle of miracles a nice young man with a landscaping company has agreed to tear down and rebuild our backyard so our basement won’t leak. Can you believe it? It’s like he flew down straight from Heaven. It’s going to cost a lot of beads but when it’s done we’re going to have a dry basement and a tiny backyard with some grass in it. And Hope the tomato plant can stay in her little box until she passes away from natural causes.

Until very recently I had such a case of the I Don’t Give A Shits toward the topic of the house getting fixed. Now that things are moving along and there is noticeable improvement I’m getting kind of excited about it. Excited about the results and also about it getting done, finally. Once the backyard is done I think we’ll be out of money so we won’t really have to worry about anything else for a while. That will be nice. The house will still look really crappy from the front but if there’s a square of grass in the backyard we won’t have to spend any time up there. I’m going to spend my time sitting with my tomato plant in the spot that’s done. That’s my plan.

In other news, my God! The wedding. Here’s the other all-consuming thing we’re working on. I got my rockstar eyeball cuff links all done and last night I drew the Lost School logo on the band’s base drum so it would look spiffy at the reception. I don’t think I’m participating in much of the set up since it involves moving a 400lb Hammond organ from our house to the reception site which is on a farm near Lake Mills, WI. Everybody’s pitching in, doing what they know how to do well. And everyone knows how to do something that’s handy. Erika and Aaron didn’t meet at our house or anything, but, since they’re both regulars, as far as we’re concerned it’s a Lost School wedding. The first of many, we hope. Being married is fun.

Did I mention that in the garbage Erica found me a little black dress to wear to the wedding? It’s nicer than anything I already have, which isn’t saying much. The important thing is I didn’t have to go out and buy anything. Yah. Also, it’s funny to wear a dress that Erika found in the garbage. I wear sweatpants I found in the garbage all the time but a dress is different. Maybe we’ll take a picture.

You know…
September 15, 2008, 10:46 am
Filed under: Bloggidy Blog

Every day I get up thinking that I’m going to go to the shop and make beads for the Etsy store and every day something happens that prevents me from doing so. Today a friend is installing a tile floor in our bathroom and I have to watch and learn so I can do the same thing upstairs. That’s today. What will happen tomorrow? I have no idea. Don mentioned painting the bathroom but I think it will be something less forseen than that. Stay tuned. I’ll get back to work soon.

my hand revisited
September 14, 2008, 8:20 pm
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On Saturday morning I awoke to find that I had a message written in Sharpie marker on the back of my hand. It said something to the effect of “Noam Chomskyis the voice of the Geico lizard.” I remember thinking on Friday night when the gang was over that starting a rumor to that effect would be a very worthwhile thing to do. Not so much today. And now it won’t wash off. Wa-waaaaaaa.

While I was filing away into my image host the above picture of my hand I came across some pictures of that really gross skin disease I had a few years ago. Do you guys remember that? That crazy fungal infection that ate all the skin off my hand? Boy, that was some kind of uncomfortable. I was kind of a superstar in the dermatology department at the University-everybody taking my picture. Anyway, I don’t know why you would but, if you want to see the gross hand pictures again here’s one of the back of my hand and here’s one of the front. I can’t believe I walked around with that for as long as I did. Yuck.

Well, here I am working on the Sabbath. One of the bands that’s playing at the wedding is practicing at home. I ducked out to finish up the flaming lavender eyeballs for the grooms men’s cuff links.

I’m going to cut the backs off the eyeballs with a diamond band saw before gluing them to the findings. They’re going to be pretty heavy but I think I can balance them out with a washer on the other side of the cuff. People at this wedding will want to wear a washer on their cuffs. Anyway, that’s going to be done soon and when it is I will be able to stop thinking about it. Then I should probably focus on getting the ink off my hand.

ok, i’m back
September 11, 2008, 12:17 pm
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That was fun, actually. Don’s never been home for a week before so, by extension, I’ve never shared daytime company with anyone other than a cranky hedgehog and a needy iguana for a whole week before. So that was great. Our chimney guy showed up a few weeks early and rebuilt our chimney. Now our chimney is beautiful-it’s the best one on the block. I’d take a picture of but I’m pretty sure this is one of those things that only I am into.

So, while the chimney guys toiled away I tried my hand at staining our window frames. I didn’t think I was going to be great at it or anything but I thought I’d at least be able to match the color of the old wood. Turns out I don’t know what the hell color that wood is. We did the matching of the wood to the can of stain thing in the hardware store (twice) and I made a real pretty color but it doesn’t match at all. We should have asked someone for help. The real tragedy is that, now that she’s spent the whole summer staining and re staining the trim in her house, our friend Jeanne is a stain maven. When she’s not working on her house I imagine that she is waiting by the phone just in case a friend calls with a question about stain. I might hit her up for advice on the next round of windows but chances are, now that I know which shades of brown our windows are not, I’m just going to roll the dice with a third color. It has to be one of them, doesn’t it?  A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. We never have our curtains open anyway.

In other news, Don bought a juicer the other day. He wanted to juice some peppers for pepper beer at his work and he became enamored with the device. It is neat-o and fun to use but it seems a little spendy buying fresh fruit and vegetables for their juices. I do like the juice machine, though. I made some beet, carrot, apple , celery juice the other day that was pretty good considering the ingredients. It’s really pretty. I have a jar of it thawing out on my hard drive right now. Don even drank some of it yesterday and though it was ok. He was paging through the juice recipe book when he said something funny that I will relay to you:

Don: “Pear, apple, strawberry juice sounds good.”

Me: “We could make that. We’ve got the ingredients.”

Don: “We have pears and apples?”

Me: “Yes.”

Don: “and strawberries?”

Me: “Yes.”

Don: “Then why are we drinking beet juice?”

Me: “Ahahahahahahah!”

The end.

Weekend of arcane information
September 2, 2008, 1:19 pm
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Moving right along with the parade of newly-learned facts…On Sunday we attended the Rock River Thresheree. As you can see from the site, the thresheree is this enormous gathering of people and really old-timey steam powered machinery that people collect and restore. The event affords steam enthusiasts the opportunity to show off and demo their machines by hooking them up to other old-timey farm equipment and letting em go. I know you people don’t care about this but I’m going to tell you about it anyway because I thought it was interesting.

Fun fact: Even though they look tractor-ish, the steam engines do not do the work of a tractor. Rather, they power other pieces of equipment using a giant belt hooked up to a fly wheel. How giant a belt, you are probably asking? Here’s a picture:

Things sure took up a lot of space back then. They were way more dangerous too. Hmmm…I sure hope that’s a thresher or I’m going to look like a real idiot. Don grew up on a farm in Nebraska and he tries to school me on various and sundry farm equipment but it doesn’t always stick. He has an unbridled enthusiasm for tractors which I support but don’t entirely understand. It was really nice for him to get to go to this show with his nephew who shares his interest in farm equipment generally and tractors in particular. Someone for him to talk to, finally.

So besides the enormous steam powered stuff they also had at the show some displays of little steam powered machines. Here is one that, at the time, was probably really innovative but now seems like the worst idea ever:

This is a little horse ride that goes up and down. That’s fine, but the belt and wheel which rotate pretty quick are dangerously close to where the kids foot would be dangling. It pre-dates the warning label for sure. Also, check out how large the apparatus is that makes the horse go:

 Horse ride technology sure has come a long way since then. So have warning labels. Speaking of which, I only saw one warning label in this whole show. Not that I was expecting to see any on the old timey stuff. That equipment was it’s own warning label-you could tell by looking at it that you should keep your hands away. But, anyway, here’s a label I found on some kind of container. I think it’s trying to warn you of a disembodied head that’s going to destroy your world with beams that come out of it’s eyes:

They didn’t have to worry about that happening back in the day. Those were simpler times.