December, Part 1

The world finally slowed down a tad, before turning on its heel and hurtling into 2010.  I’ll recap December a bit, then turn and face the new year head (and blog) on.

The month started, I think, with a cold, enough of one to make me postpone a business trip to eastern Washington.  It was still lingering a bit on a Friday afternoon when I boarded a plane for a week away from home, first to visit my mom in Toledo for a weekend, then on to Milwaukee for a week of work.

We had a really pleasant visit.  I did something over that weekend I hadn’t done in about 40 years - practiced my trumpet in the basement of the house I grew up in.  See, I’ve been hauling it on my business trips since I’ve been playing in this band, because laying off for a whole week would just kill any progress I’ve been making all fall, and our holiday concert was coming up the next weekend.  (In the hotel rooms, I put my cup mute in, sit on the floor and point the horn under the bed. On a good day, it might sound to anyone in adjacent rooms like space alien sex.)

We made a trip to visit the Toledo Art Museum.  It’s one of those venerable old civic institutions endowed by industrial barons of the gilded age (in this case, Libbey Glass), and has a surprisingly extensive collection.  I would say it’s easily twice the size of Seattle’s.  Toledo was known for a long time as the Glass City, owing to its housing the corporate headquarters of Libbey Glass, Owens Corning, Owens-Illinois and Libbey-Owens-Ford.  It’s no surprise, then, that one of its featured collections is glass art and artifacts, dating from ancient Egypt.  They opened a Glass Pavilion annex a few years ago, and we watched a glassblowing exhibition and perused the exhibits (Click any photo to enlarge):

On Sunday, I did a few odd jobs, including hanging some curtains, that required me to go out to the garage and riff through my dad’s tool shelves. They are laden with tools that date from the 40s and 50s, and the sight of them stirs some of my oldest memories. My dad was a delegator, and when he was doing some job around the house, he always wanted one of us there with him - ostensibly to learn the particular task or skill, but more to the point, to run to the garage and retrieve tools as he needed them. As I touched them, I could hear his words: “electric drill; brace-and-bit; 3-in-one oil; Phillips screwdriver (this one confused me for a while, as they called me “Philip” in my early years). The tools remain there even with the infrequent use they get now, a shrine to a doggedly resourceful DIY guy.


  1. Yay - back in the blog world!

  2. The glass is beautiful. I’ve always wished I had the knowledge and the skill to make things out of glass, but my desire has never been sufficient to kick-start the learning process. Your mention of the memories stirred by seeing your dad’s tools made me think back to my own childhood, when my father did the same as yours; he used us as apprentices who did the leg-work in return for an opportunity to learn the real thing. My most vivid memory of that sort brings back his voice, saying, “let the saw do the work, son, let the saw do the work.”

    If you have to spend your time in hotel rooms in the coming year, I hope you enjoy many more occasions to give people in the next room an opportunity to hear space alien sex.

  3. heydave:

    holy shit, are those frozen sea monkeys in photo 5??!?

  4. “alien space sex” –the best vocal description I’ve read in years. You are personally acquainted with same?

    Love the glass photos, especially the blue creature and the one with the guy growing out of the punchbowl.

    Happy 2010!