Adam Plays with Electricity, Downstairs Nearly Finished!

   Today, I finished painting the last wall of the downstairs family room. Cyndi picked a nice, off white cream type color that was also used upstairs. Since we painted over the paneling, we had to replace the dark brown electrical outlets with white ones. So I taught Adam how to do it, from finding the circuit breaker, to checking the outlet, to replacing it. Of course, I didn’t think to take pictures until he was done, but oh well.

   Also, here are pictures of the project in progress. I found an older picture of the windows treatments that came with the house. They were sort of upholstered fake curtain things that Cyndi’s been wanting to pitch for a long time. Also, she didn’t like these pink vertical blinds:

   So, they went to the curb, and she got moulding for the windows, measuring and cutting them with a miter saw and box:

Arianna got into the act by helping Cyndi put down moulding with her flowery colored hammer:

Here’s Adam putting the finishing touches on his work. No, I didn’t tell him to stick his fingers in there like Uncle Mark did to see if he connected the wires properly:

And here’s the final product:

We need to put some finishing touches on the wall above the mantle piece, then finish the edges of the mantle piece itself. After that, I can rewire the surround sound speakers and we’re back in business. Then we gotta clean the house….

Second Football Game, This Time with Pictures! Catholic Central 51, St Thomas Aquinas Flames 0

   Okay, this time I decided to bring the camera and now you get to see images of high school football at Catholic Central. I discovered shooting under the Friday night lights is a challenging task, so I tried a couple of approaches with our camera. Here’s our team, in Blue and White. This one is dark, but I couldn’t shoot with a longer shutter time because the team would be blurry. I’ll have to bring the tripod next time:

   They totally pummeled the opposing team, recovering plenty of fumbles and make interceptions. The score was 30-0 at the end of the first quarter, and 44-0 at halftime. Here’s Adam’s band, after marching onto the field from the end zone. They are wearing rain gear because we were starting to feel the long reach of Hurricane Ike. These are the formations for the first  and second songs:

   And here’s a zoom up on the drumline. Adam is the cymbal player second from last:

   The drumline is pretty big. I recall at MacArthur that we had about six snares, but only four bass drums and two or three tri toms. Adam’s drumsline has seven bass drums and four quintuple toms(the fifth and tiniest tom is hidden between the drummer’s body and the two forward toms).

   I’m really enjoying this stuff. Next week, Adam and I will go see the team play an away game at Brother Rice, a major rival.

Eddie goes out for Jazz: Frank Vignola Quintet

   Last night, I wanted to go out to listen to some jazz. I used to do this a lot before I got married, and before we had kids. Well, I looked up the calendar at my favorite spot, The Firefly Club in Ann Arbor. They were featuring the Frank Vignola Quintet. I had never heard of them before, but I love jazz guitar. This being the modern age, I tried to YouTube them and found some impressive stuff, so decided to make a night of it. Here’s some of what I found on YouTube:

   The guys in that YouTube video were all present last night, plus a fantastic mandolin player from Nashville named Matt Flinner. Frank Vignola is the Bill Gates looking guy on the jazz acoustic guitar. Aaron Weinstein is an incredible violin player that looks like he’s still in college. Vinny Raniolo is the rhythm guitarist on acoustic, and Gary Mazzaroppi is on electric bass, although last night, he was on upright bass.

   This does not really prepare you for what these guys can do live. I cannot recall ever seeing so much talent on stage at one time. Without a scrap of music, these guys went through piece after piece, just looking at each other for cues on solos, breaks, turn arounds and key changes. During the first set, Frank’s guitar amp started acting up, and instead of stopping to fix it, he yanked the cable out, and the rest of the quintet put their mics aside, and stepped up beside Frank and did it all purely acoustically! Wow, now that there were released from the stage, they began walking around the club, mariachi style, serenading various tables. I was literally one foot away from these guys, listening with just my ears and no amps or mics. It was awesome!

   For the second set, they did not bother fixing the amp; they just started right where they left off, in the middle of the crowd. Then a bridal party came in(what a woman!) just to listen, and they became the focal point of the night. Frank lapsed right into ‘Here Comes the Bride’, which I never thought could be swing, but they did it, at an amazing tempo with solos, breaks, the whole shot, again with no music at all. BTW, big thanks goes out to the FireFly owner-manager, Susan Chastain, who generously offered the audience of the first set to stay for the second at no charge. Not a single person left.

   Frank never seems to look at his frets while his fingers are finding all these voicings. He often is looking at someone else, especially right before a change or a solo. Vinny looks at his frets sometimes, but damn, his fingers move all over the frets, spanning three and four at a time and moving octaves at a time, just listening to where Frank’s going. The mandolin player has his eyes closed, but even if they were open, I don’t see how he could see the little tiny neck and frets of that thing. The violin player seemed the most deceptive guy besides Frank, because whether he was playing softly and slowly or presto, he has the same lax smile on his face.

   Anyway, writing about it does not do justice to the experience. I’m glad I found these guys, and glad I went and stayed for both sets. I’m inspired.

   Aaron and I played again in church today, and he’s no longer using the music…

Cyndi finally admits she had a birthday

Ok.  It’s been about a week, so I’m finally ready to write about it.  The “big 40.”  I really don’t think it’s such a big deal, but it’s a good excuse for some things.

It’s been a good year.  In the year I turned 40, I can say that I’ve: ridden the trail of the Hiawatha, learned how to oil paint, flown on a trapeze, grown about a bushel of tomatoes (and a lot of weeds), made some new friends, laughed with a lot of friends, been able to say “I’m with the band” and given and received a lot of love.

Now on to more life and adventures!

42 Years of Pure…

   I won’t tell you what my mom said to finish that sentence, but it was funny and made both of us laugh. Today is my mom and dad’s 42nd wedding anniversary. Holy cow. That’s a long time, but they still serve as my model for Cyndi and I, along with my grandparents(also still married after 70-something years). We’ve been married ‘only’ 15 years, but we are doing so much better than several friends of mine who are struggling, or who have lost the struggle altogether. My brothers and I(and now our spouses and all our kids) have been blessed with parents who have always surrounded us with love and set a good example for how things are supposed to work out. 
   Although I can remember times when voices got a little raised, or they’ve disagreed about something, they’ve never fought, or at least, never fought in front of us. Some people have told me that married couples are supposed to fight. Bah, maybe in a textbook, but this doesn’t seem to me to be part of my parents’ recipe for happiness and longevity. Maybe their definition of a fight is so mild I never noticed.
   Each year, they seem to enjoy each other more and more, and laugh more and more frequently than when they were younger, often at themselves or at each other. Especially each other. They spend a lot of time together, fishing, visiting relatives and grandkids, and generally going to the same places together all the time. Tonight, they are headed out to the San Antonio Riverwalk. My mom asked me where to go and eat, since Cyndi and I have eaten out down there more often than my folks, and I told them just to wander around for a while and find something. This I can see them doing for a long while, like another 42 years…

I love you, mom and dad, and congratulations!

First Day of School 2008 at DHMC

   Today was the first day of school at DHMC. This time, however, Adam was not there, having moved on to high school. Arianna is now in second grade, and very excited to be there. Aaron is moving into middle school, and is somewhat intimidated to be there. He, like his then 6th grade classmates, have built a close community that included his 6th grade teachers, but now they have to move into a new physical environment, with new teachers and different standards and expectations. I think he will do well, but it will take some adjusting. I am glad that most, if not all, of his 6th grade classmates are returning for the 7th grade. I saw them all hanging out together today, enjoying each other’s company. He is very lucky to have such company during the transition.