Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Word from Robert:

I can´t say much right now, other than that Coca-Cola Fantours are fun. I know you don´t know what those are. I might explain later, but it does involve football and beer.
That was Mörbisch.
Bayern had beer. My host family in Hirschau owns a brewery. I did have beer. It wasn´t bad. Interesting flavor.
I´m in Tauberbischofsheim right now. I went swimming earlier today. That was fun.
Right now I feel really elated, and I´m not sure why. My host family does have a fantastic view from their balconies, though.
All of our concerts are going well. Even better now that we have all of our music. We still don´t have our xylophone, though. It might be in Portugal. It´s impossible to know.
I have a concert tomorrow, on Thursday I have time with my host family and Thursday night I depart for France.
I´m still very excited.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Chippewa at night

Click here to play the video.
I seem to have spent a lot of time wetting myself recently.
My assignment this time: Take a kayak down the Chippewa River - again - only this time, in the dark.
Buckley's Mountainside Canoes has begun offering moonlight canoe trips, and a few friends of the livery - and, of course, the press - was invited along. I seem to be the river guy, so I got to do the story.
Ryan Evon shot some great stills and video, and I put them together into a nice package for The story's here.
The experience bordered on the mystical, with a hint of danger and the unknown. Very, very cool.
But I left out the part where the kayaker who came into the landing first slipped getting out of her boat, fell into the water and doused me.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The fridge dancers slide show

This is an experiment - using PicassaWeb, a free service, I've added captions to the Fridge Dancers images from last and tried to turn this into a slide show.

Looks like it works!

Sweet 16.5

Katherine's birthday!
Well, sort of.
Katherine has been planning and hoping for a Sweet 16 party since, well, since she first heard of such things back when her age was reckoned in single digits.
But Katherine was born just before Christmas, and her birthday often gets buried in the other massively celebrated birthday around that time. Last year, especially, was not a great time. We were in the middle of moving - it looked at one point we might move right on the girl's birthday - so she decided to move the whole event to June, and celebrate Sweet 16.5.

She did it up right - right from the custom-made invitations (she knows this guy who teaches graphics at Central) to borrowing a friend's pool to make it a pool party.

Christiana and Jani had a great time!

Patterson, whose pool was used, offers a choice of implements to cut the ice cream cake.

Ya know, these $6 pizzas from Little Caesar's aren't too bad, especially when you're wet and hungry!

And of course, the Drummer is close by, making sure everything is just perfect.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Andrew, Dad, the canoe and the Chippewa

For a very long time, my planner has contained this To Do: "Canoe the Chippewa with Andrew." It hasn't had a date on it, but it finally happened this week.

I'd been on the Chippewa with Andrew many years ago, near Midland. We had just gotten the canoe, and he was very, very young. Somehow, a lot of years slipped by, and he and I didn't get into that canoe, on that river, again until now. We put in at the Vandecar Road bridge. The water is high and fast, thanks to the late-spring rain we've had. Approaching Meridian Park, the Chippewa is a lot wider than it usually is during canoe season.

A huge blue heron kept an eye on us. Andrew was in back, doing the paddling and steering. I was up front, taking pictures and messing things up.

We saw the heron, deer, and these geese fertilizing Riverwood Golf Course. I imagine the course owner, Mr. Figg (you just have to call him Mr.) is thrilled.

We found this guy climbing on a dead tree out over the river. He said he was looking for a way to cut it back.

The rapids at Millpond Park were running strong and tricky. We made it through the first drop, got out and scouted, then got hung up on the third drop. I had to get out and push. Yes, I wet myself. (!) We portaged the final drop - it looked just too mean. Maybe when the river's quieter.

We took the river all the way into town, to Island Park, past the rapids. We cruised proudly past the Borden Building, around the island, and beached the canoe next to the Carnie Village set up next on Island Park for the Summer Festival.
When we came back for the canoe later, a yoga class was going on next to the landing. I love this place - a public park, a carnie village, yoga people raising their arms to the sky, and a dad and his son putting a 15-foot canoe on top of a 14-foot Ford Escort.
All in a normal day.

The Bährs' Post

From Bautzen, Deutschland:
Intensive week was fun, but long, and the Southern Winds improved incredibly.
The plane ride to Paris was long, and I didn´t sleep at all, but I´ve adjusted to the time change quite well.
The flight to Berlin I spent almost entirely in sleep. I did get some pretty photographs of clouds, though.
Here in Bautzen, things have been fantastic. My host family, the Bährs, have been fantastic. They´ve found ways to work around their schedules to get us (meaning Kenyon, a flutist, and I) to rehearsals, they´ve fed us, and they have been overall fantastic. Our host mother even had two of her students, Maria and Stefanie (I hope I spelled their names right) show us around Bautzen Monday afternoon. That was fun. We didn´t do much besides wander for a bit, but it was still, and I am very grateful for them. Thank you Stefanie and Maria!!!
The Bährs deserve their own paragraph, and if I could, their own post (I would title it "The Bähr´s Post"). They are fantastic. Frau Bähr speaks English very well (she is an English teacher, after all) and Herr Bähr´s English is quite good. They are fantastic people. Frau Bähr arranged an afternoon of mini-golf with another host family today. It was fun. Mini-golf in Germany! So cool!
I´m sad to be going to Mörbisch tomorrow. I will miss these people. At least we have email.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Robert's itinerary

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Robert and the Blue Lake Southern Winds will be performing all over Europe.
Here's his itinerary:

Paris, France
Arrival in France, Sunday, June 15; fly to Berlin

Berlin, Germany
Arrival in Germany Sunday, June 15

Bautzen, Germany (northeast of Dresden)
June 16, 17; Two concerts

Mörbisch am See, Austria (travel through Czech Republic, Slovakia)
June 18, 19, 20, Outdoor concert June 20

Hirschau, Germany (northeast of Nuremburg)
June 21, 22, 23
June 22: Concert in Arnberg, part of Bavarian Music and Town Festival
June 23: Outdoor concert shared with local band at festival

Tauberbuschofsheim, Germany (east of Frankfurt)
June 24, 25, 26
June 25: Concert at Klosterhof or Festhalle

Foix, France (south of France)
June 27, 28, 29
Concert June 28 at Salle due Jeu du Mall en Parriers
Two concerts June 29 as part of the Festival Internationale

Figeac, France (north of Foix)
June 30, July 1-5
Blue Lake en France
Concert July 5

Gravelines, France (near English Channel)
June 6, 7, 8;
Concerts June 7 & 8 at Grand Fort Phillippe

Differdange, Luxembourg (look closely; it's small)
July 9, 10, 11
Concert July 11 at Center Sportif

Arrive June 15 Depart July 12 for De-Troit! (not on map)

Speeeeeeeeeed .....

Well, we have new neighbors. They seem like nice folks, younger people, and I noticed they are using a Wi-Fi connection for their Internet access.
I noticed this because it's open and shows up, with a very strong signal, on my Mac's Airport.
I also had noticed a truck from Charter Communication was there when the new folks moved in.
It was Sunday morning. There probably wasn't a lot of traffic on the 'Net. I logged onto the neighbor's Wi-Fi (It's open, after all) and ran a speed test.

Here are the results for Charter cable:

Then I logged back on to our WiMax-based system from SpeedNet:

I see no reason to change ISPs.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Off to Europe

Robert is off to Europe with Blue Lake's Southern Winds symphonic band.
The band is to fly into Paris overnight, arriving Sunday, and has concerts scheduled in Germany, Austria, France and Luxembourg. After a week of intensive rehearsals at Blue Lake, the band left Friday for a concert in White Lake before boarding an Air France jumbo jet to cross the Atlantic.

We traveled to Blue Lake to see Robert off - and Megan came along for an early-morning goodbye.

Katherine and Robert pose for a self-portrait.

Katherine, Megan and Robert enjoy one of Blue Lake's famous breakfasts before Robert catches the bus to southeastern Michigan and points beyond.

A last-minute repair before hitting the road. Note the creative use of duct tape.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Graduation day

Andrew's high school graduation - and he gets a big smooch from Miranda.

Andrew enjoys an armful of Katie on the lawn outside Dan Rose Arena at Central Michigan University, site of the Mt. Pleasant High School graduation ceremony.

Andrew gets congratulations from his "Bullshot Crummon" co-star Celia.

Andrew and his friends Jack, Christiana and Janie get together after the ceremony.

Just a face in the sea of faces, mortarboards and gowns immediately after the ceremony.

At left, Andrew is part of the long line of blue and gold entering the huge arena at CMU.

Below, Principal Jeff Thoenes hands Andrew a diploma after Andrew hands Thoenes a marble - apparently one that Thoenes lost.

At home, it was almost a shrine in the living room to the graduate's interests and accomplishments. In a few moments, the place would be packed with people.

Andrew's varsity letter, his skis, his telescope, a photo with his grandparents, his Wendy's hat and a group of photos filled the credenza that ordinarily would carry the television.

Certificates for honoring Andrew for athletics, riflery, Scouts, craftsmanship in metal, acting, foreign language and other academic achievement filled a display board.

Off to one side, big brother Fuzzy takes in the scene.

Meanwhile, The Drummer appears to be paying more attention to the graduate's little sister than to the graduate.