Winter Light

Today was very sunny, and I shopped at the mall for new eyeglasses, and enjoyed some time at Circuit City before they shutter their doors forever. When I returned home, the light was beginning to fade across my back yard, and I took this shot of the snow. My benches don't look very inviting, and the trees are skeletal and gray. But alas, the blossoms are not far off.

Pretty Guitars


Guitar Lessons

I am thrilled for my son, Mark. He has found an absolutely superb teacher for guitar in Sean from CV LLoyde in downtwon Champaign. Sean is not only a metal music fanatic and in his own band, he is truly a remarkable speed metal guitarist. That alone does not make him a great teacher, but a wonderful teacher he is, too. Some people have a knack for motivating others to follow their lead. Organized thought and comunicating "the process" is quintessential. I will say, not only for my teen Mark, but also for me, the evening weekly guitar lesson is something I look forward to. It marks the middle of the week, and Mark goes to a tiny music studio in back because the music store is closed, so I can sit for a little over half an hour in a cozy alcove with chairs and collect my thoughts, pull out my planner and prepare my task list, and simply stare at the guitars on the wall. All those lovely guitars.


The Floating Cube

The Cube. I added this tidy crystal pendant cube to my reading area. It does not cast a ton of light, but on the dimmer, it makes for a cool image. It's almost like it's floating in air when the room is pitch dark. I sit in my red chair and stare at it. Then my eyes hurt and I stop staring, and everywhere I look for the next hour, I see the glowing cube. In the shower. In the kitchen. And even on the insides of my eyelids.


The Wrestler with Mickey Roarke

Well, I got my wish. I saw The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke and Ms. Tomei. Not very impressed. The acting was mediocre, as the characters were, in a word, flat. Honestly, Mickey Rourke has a plastic face that shows little emotion, and even though he looked the part of the grizzled ring veteran, he rarely was, in my opinion, acting. Hell, in the most emotional scenes, you couldn't even tell he was sad until a trickle tear rolled down his cheek. I do know that he's an odds on favorite for the Best Actor nod because he was in 99% of this movie, and it was a character movie completely--no story, just vignettes from a fighter's life. Marisa, although keeping in top physical form at age 44 and not afraid to show it; wasn't given a single witty line. And the plot was thinner than, well, Mickey Rourke's post-collagen skin. The best actress, by far, was the wrestler's daughter, playbed by an actress I don't even know. She was outstanding! So, Slumdog takes it for me. Like Davey and Goliath, the tiny Danny Boyle film that is only now getting traction at the theaters takes it, pounding the biggies like Pitt in Benjie Buttons.

The Shack II

I was wrong about The Shack. (spoiler alert) Not more than 15 pages beyond where I was when I wrote the last comments, the protagonist Mack met God--an obese African-American woman-- and Jesus--a Middle Eastern dude--and they are making eggs in the Shack. I think the book has turned sour. The book has gone from action, to being preachy, and has been now for about 25 pages. I may put it down for good. I am, on a better note, going to see Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler tonight with some friends at the AMC Cantina in Warrenville, IL. I have high hopes as Mickey is supposed to be outstanding (Best Actor nominee), as is Marisa Tomei, who I went to college with, as his girlfiend (Best Supporting Actress nominee for The Westler, plus already won an Academy Award for Supporting Actress for My Cousin Vinny). I'll clue you in. See you.


The Shack

Okay, I am kindling The Shack, and so far (about 125 pages in), it's pretty fair. Written at about a fifth grade reading level, we're not talking William Faulkner here, but at least it keeps the story moving. Not a ton of dead time, and now our protagonist Mack is heading back to "the shack". I have not seen any dieties arising from the shadows or any preachy stuff yet, but I'm holding my breathe that those never come up in this Christian-themed book. I am going to hit it again now, and see where it goes. Much better than the first 125 pages of Stephen King's Duma Key, which found central character Eddie Freemantle so damned uninviting that I simply decided not to finish the book. I'm like that. Some will slog through a book or movie when they find it unengaging. I, conversely, have no shame in simply turning it off or shutting the book.

The Shack, for now, is still open.


A summer basking turtle in the waters of Lake Michigan.


Chicago Springhill Suites

Here's a picture from my summertime 2008 stay at The Springhill Suites by Marriott during the air water show. Blue Angels, can;t be beat. I thought about this image as I was emailing a friend about If not already on your Favorites List, it is a must. There are so many unbiased reviews of hotels, amusements, locations... I have judged many a resort based on the info and photos from other travelers. I have placed, oh, I don't know, maybe 50 reviews on tripadvisor myself (look for kayak on canal avatar), and I have to admit, it really is something that I use so very much. As for the Springhill Suites in Chicago (across from House of Blues), well, suffice it to say it's location is primo, the lobby that you see here is hip, but the rooms are miniscule. My complete review is on tripadvisor.


My Sectional Aquanaut LV from Valley

I know, I know...I showed you this before. But man, I love this kayak. I am delighted that kayaking friend Bruce urged me to get this very model. It fits me the best of any kayak I have paddled. I love the look. I do not love the composite for paddling the stinkwaters of central and northern Illinois--stumpy, rebar-laden man-made cesspools that they are. Boat repair 101 will be in my future, I fear. But the sectional concept is a winner for everything but price (very costly mod).

Guitar Room

Spent this very cold and blustery weekend helping my son set up his guitar room. He has command central in there: computer, laptop, and he even wanted to buy organizers and shelves to make it very sweet and nice. Will give you a preview when I can get the camera out. Here's to guitar playing by the fireplace.


Kayak Trailer

For those on who ask frequently about kayak trailers, here is mine. I love it. I had so much great advice from redmond and pikabike and so many others on my "Pimp My Kayak" thread, I eventually bought this one from a Kentucky welder. It has 15 inch wheels, welded bars, and is 5 x 7, and has a "Gene Simmons" long tongue. Touche! I was installing the taillights during this photo, and notice that I am also putting on some Spring Creek Outfitters saddles, which I find superior to Yakima and Thule. I enjoy this trailer.


Tommy Bartlett = Family

I went to the Wisconsin Dells with my family, including a wonderful visit from brother and sister-in-law and their great kids from New Jersey, this past summer. It was glorious trip. Lake Delton was drained of its water from a natural disaster of the dam letting go in the springtime rains, and like a drain plug being pulled in the kitchen sink, the entire lake drained in a matter of hours. But even with this spartan backdrop, we ventured up to our lakeside hotel, and enjoyed our first all-family holiday since New Hampshire/Maine 2005. We saw the Tommy Bartlett Show, The "world's greatest show on H2O." Only no H2O this year. But Tommy Bartlett (well, he's actually gone to higher waters now) and the gang made it a fun show, even if it was only a vestige of its former self. Stage only. Aqua the jet-skiing Clown just wasn't the same on the lunar backdrop of the dry lake. But family makes everything fun. Everything.


Slumdog Millionaire!

I have just seen the film of the Oscar "sure thing". A film that is all at once, a high tension drama, a love story and an educational documentary. That movie is Slumdog Millionaire, by director Danny Boyle. It is so multi-layered, it'll give you hope that great storytelling can still be made into cinema. If one person reads this and sees it who otherwise would not have, I have something to live for today. Do not be put off by the images -- it is truly a work of art. Jamal, Latika, who wants to be a millionaire?



Spending time in front of the fireplace this weekend, as snow has been predicted for Chicagoland. That fluffy stuff.


This rooster sits on my kitchen cabinets.

He is abstract. It is an oil painting. It looks good, my neighbors say.


Superior Greenland Paddle

This is my latest paddle. It is a Superior brand 84 inch GP with a neat matte urethane finish. It's in a natural blonde wood--fir, methinks--and it was purchased this winter from none other than Bowler1 from Havre De Grace. Thanks, B1. I will enjoy using your twig.

Valley Nordkapp carbon Kevlar with ocean cockpit

This boat is amazing. It is in almost pristine condition, it is from 1997, it is one of the last of the original mold Valley Nordkapps, and it has that pesky ocean cockpit. I will need to get my roll, now unilateral but fairly consistent, to be rather bombproof if I am to use this lovely boat with its, at times, claustrophobic 'pit. But she is a looker, and thus I post here, as she idles in my yard this past summer, basking in the sunshine, cradled in the lawn. Kayaking season is approaching.


The Chandelier

My favorite light, the nicest I have ever owned, now hangs with stunning glory in my master bedroom. It boasts chrome accents, and plenty of dangling bling. The best thing I did for it was to install an electric timer light switch. I can hit a button and it'll stay on for ten minutes when we are getting under the covers, and we can study its cool sparkles on the ceiling, and then it shuts itself off so that we can slumber.


Hallway tiny chandelier

This tiny chandelier, which casts small mushrooms of light, is at the end of the hallway leading to the bedrooms. It draws the eye down an otherwise dark corridor. It's cute and functional.

My New Kitchen Light

The French country kitchen is rooster themed, with 12 foot ceiling; this light tempts the eye to look up to the ceiling. This lovely shaded light was added by Steve from the Light Brothers in Lombard. Love their showroom.


New Year's Day 2009

Plenty of shopping and projects this past week, soon to be over as salaried work beckons with its hollow ring. Got some new lights put up and managed not to shock myself off the aluminum ladder, and shopped at Home Goods, Lowe's, Home Depot and Hobby Lobby daily. Ended up having some custom lights installed by The Lighting Brothers in Lombard, and they are incredible--photos will follow, particularly the kitchen and bedroom. We enjoyed the wind-up to New Years Eve the night before with Cathy and Linda for margaritas at Sergio's Cantina, and then nightcaps at Chris and Jason Cellini's Old Towne Pub on State Street in Geneva; the place was packed for the Illinois game on Tuesday night. What a totally redone, better than Cheers, friendly and comfortable space. Great job, Chris--our pleasure to meet you and your place will be our launching pad for all fun nights out this sprigtime and summer. Will check out Jason at your second location. I will do a full review soon of the pub for tripadvisor and post it here. Linda, you're tons of fun, thank you. You are sweet and kind and will share many future memories, including outdoor bands at Old Towne this summer.

Spent New Year's Eve with some great new friends in Geneva, including champagne and fabulous food (rosemary chicken, stuffed clams, hand-made chocolates, the entire gambit!) and spirits. We thank Dave and Alexia for being superb neighbors and hosts in their joyous condo, and enjoyed meeting Victoria, Mike, Nick, Linda and Jay. What a lovely set of friends. Victoria from Sweden (welcome) and Mike bought themselves some sea kayaking this summer with their enthusiasm for the sport--and from their new Bennett Street house on the Fox River, kayak launching should be a piece of cake. Then brief sleep and New Years Day home-cooked steak and eggs breakfast at Linda's place accompanied by Nick and Mallory, which was, in a word, killer! Thank you for a couple of days that will always be remembered.


Related Posts with Thumbnails