Our Trip to the MFA with Some Happy Thanks Given

After a couple weeks of delay, Ali and I finally got out to the Museum of Fine Arts, something I had been wanting to do for some time. Yet with the term coming to an end last week, I had to get out from beneath the mountain of papers that demanded my immediate attention. We went primarily to see the special Ansel Adams exhibition, but also to catch a glimpse of the rest of the museum.

Photo: Me with MFA Map Photo: Ali Admiring Some Art

Despite the throngs of people that were coursing through the special exhibition, it was a fascinating and beautiful show of the master’s work. Even Ali mentioned that the crowds were a bit ridiculous, commenting on how we were four deep at times to look at a photograph that is smaller than a standard 8×10. Fortunately, there were a few prints that were worthy of the large format camera of which Adams was so fond. The trip paid dividends as Adams was heavily influenced by Transcendentalists Emerson and Thoreau, which I am coincidentally teaching currently.

Photo: MFA Rotunda

Photo: MFA Hall of Paintings

One of the real treats of the trip, however, met us right after we arrived and were waiting for our admittance into the Adams exhibit. While roaming around the museum, we happened upon an older woman that works for the museum and was there perchance on an off day for some reason. Well, after I set off a warning alarm for leaning in too closely to appreciate the fine marquetry on an ancient Asian piece of furniture, this woman came round the corner and asked us if something was wrong. She quickly informed me that I was indeed to close and that she too had found herself victim to the warning system. Before we knew it she was asking us questions and leading the two of us on a kind of mini private tour. It was fascinating and thoroughly engrossing as she drew us through a contemporary Japanese ceramics exhibit which yielded the pictures below. It was magnificent stuff to be sure. Hopefully the photographs bear that. That box and crumpled newspaper are ceramic! How the hell the artist made these two pieces out of clay none of us had a clue. The other piece was simply a must photograph. Anyway, this lady was positively delightful. We really got lucky bumping into her, and how she loved her workplace.

Photo: Ceramic Crumpled Newpaper Photo: Ceramic Pineapple Box

Photo: Ceramic Rump

In other news, Ali is still desperately awaiting the completion of her engagement ring’s carving. Her enthusiasm is routinely bubbling to the surface. Since she cannot actually wear the ring that I used to propose, as seen below, she has taken to wearing what she calls a training ring. Although, I have to figure we will be hearing from the lovely Jade Moran in short order. The only problem is that I think that might really shift Ali into hyper-drive. With the way she is chomping at the bit of late, to know that the process is so close to completion might be too much for her. She has sworn me to letting her know when the call comes, however. I just don’t want her to explode. I’ll keep you posted.

Photo: Engagement Ring

Other than that, I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!

In Other News…

I am now in full grading isolation, as the term is coming to a close and I wade through classes of twenty-plus page portfolios of student work. The end of term is always one of near hibernation for me. However, I must say it is not without its pleasures. I have been surprised with the level of talent that many of my young writers display in their initial efforts. There are some truly clever ones amidst this bunch, capable of turning a phrase with a deft hand and a depth of thought well beyond their years. I am so often stunned at just how revealing some of their writing can be, not in a bad way by any means, but in a window to the soul kind of way. I have had moments while reading many of these that grant me far greater insight into who the student is then I have ever previously believed likely, their troubles and their triumphs. Many of them show a daring and courage that is quite inspiring. Plus, I also get a much sharper vision of how best I may be able to serve them: who to push, who to lead, who needs me to just stay the hell out of the way. Despite the workload, the really good work makes everything remarkably more enjoyable than one might imagine. Still, with the number that I must make my way through, there may e a bit of a gap (No surprise there, right?) between now and the next posting. We’ll see.

Also, in the news on the engagement front, Ali and I had our first meeting with the Jade Moran, the incredibly talented woman that will be crafting both engagement and wedding rings. The initial design meeting was an astounding success. Plus, it gives me a chance to gloat, just a little.

Ali was convinced that we were going to be the couple that would reign as the most difficult and contentious pair the fine, young jewelry maker had ever encountered, as we had an enormously difficult time working together on the prototype ideas of the ring. Ali was endlessly frustrated by my less than verbal, contemplative style on this, which was reticent to commit to anything prematurely. So while she had developed multiple sketches, I searched and ruminated on concepts and motifs with little success and virtually no “Aha!” moments. Despite my failed efforts, I remained positive, mostly thanks to my good friend Joanne, who assured me that our designer would be of assistance. Meanwhile, Ali was at her wit’s end with my inability to articulate what had been rolling around in my skull, waiting for a catalyst. So, we each entered the shop with a certain amount of trepidation, for completely separate reasons, and a keen hope that our meeting would not end in a homicide, most likely mine.

Yet Joanne’s wisdom reigned and my hope of jewelry maker Jade providing the catalyst was delivered. After about thirty minutes of discussion and looking at various examples of design elements, with a fair amount of patience displayed by our host, my fertile mind received its seed. While Ali continued her discussion with Jade, I began to sketch what will essentially be the main motif of the design, a ribbon-like relief that twists and turns its way around the surface of the rings, providing a platform for other smaller details inspired by the natural world. It is a rather difficult thing to define with precision without an actual picture. I know that sounds ironic, coming from an English teacher. But it is safe to say, that in this case, it is true. A picture will do far more justice than my description, and when the final design takes its shape I will no doubt tip you off on the status. In any event, the ideas I presented were a success and in a truly rewarding collaboration, with both Ali and Ms. Moran, everything quickly began to take shape.

We will be heading back to the shop for a look at some gems stones to adorn my beloved’s forthcoming engagement ring later this week, and everything looks like Ali will have it for display by Christmas, our original target date. Thus, everyone will be able to see her bling by the time we venture back to the Heartland.

I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way things turned. Best of all, I remained positive, amidst Ali’s panicked threats of dismemberment. Plus, I got to be right this time, which doesn’t always happen that often with “la maestra de la botega,” I can assure you. I have to take my victories where I can get them, because truth be told, I am extremely lucky to have such a keenly sharp lady at my side, who does have tendency to be on the right side of things, sometimes much to my chagrin.

Finally, I just noticed that the last post was the 50th, since the redesign, just over a year ago. So I guess it was a kind of milestone of sorts. Hopesully I can get to a hundred a little bit quicker.

Halloween Party ‘05

Last weekend, Ali and I hosted our very first suarez together. While our apartment is small and our guests were many, it seems as though a good time was had by all. Of course, I was way too concerned about the size of the guest list and invited people accordingly, and Ali kept assuring me that it was not going to be a problem. Turns out she was right, again. I hate it when that happens with such frequency. It really goes to her head! Nevertheless, she wins the prize for the most invitees in attendance, but that is fine with me because I am crazy about her usual suspects. Plus, when you threw in my chums, it was an interesting phenomenon. I mean come on, a bunch of teachers and social worker together in one tiny dwelling; it really doesn’t get much crazier than that!

Photo: The Party Food

Of course the only downside was we purchased way too much booze for the event; and with little space to put it, I am forced to drink it with haste. Wait, I guess that doesn’t really qualify as a downside! We had a fair amount of food leftover as well, but that seemed to get quickly distributed and disappeared, with the exception of more candy than I have seen in recent memory. However, this is the inaugural holiday in what kicks off the Candy Season (Halloween to Easter), an annual event previously unknown to me before my reuniting with Ali. Coincidentally, in addition to coining the term, the kickoff is Ali’s favorite of all holidays. I leave it to all of you to discern why that it is; but picture a cute young sun bleached-blonde girl of toddler age, filled with boundless glee, covered in chocolate from head to toe with the inaudible shouts of “Candy!” present in the frame and you have captured one of the many snapshots of my beloved as a child. Here’s one prime example. Need I say more!

Photo: Child Ali Covered in Chocolate Photo: Ali as a Baby with a Chocolate Duck

The guests were in full holiday regalia, as it was a costume party and most did not disappoint with their enthusiasm. In fact, the elaborate nature of some of the costumes was quite impressive. The stars of the site, the Terwedow girls, were in full holiday attire: Pirate Ali, complete with a parrot permanently affixed to on her shoulder; Keri as an undead bloodsucker (As seen here by the makeshift bar, where else!). I myself was Lance Armstrong again, figuring this is the last year I can probably get away with it. Many others were fabulously adorned. It was a motley crew of pimps, geeks, and horror show freaks, even a priest. The prize would probably have to go to Mike and Vickie, posing as Sugar V and Penny Nipples respectively. Despite their handiwork not being the most elaborate or extravagantly made costumes, they certainly were the most surprising and without question most amusing. Thoroughly enertaining spirit. Congratulations to the winners!

Photo: Ali as a Pirate Photo: Keri as a Vampire

Photo: Me and Ali in Costume

Photo: Vickie and Mike

Overall, it was a smashing swing-ding, if I do say so myself, low-key but smashing nonetheless. We even could have stood more people in the place without a hitch. Ali and I want to thank you all for coming and making it such a fun filled night.