Eleven years ago today, I married this lovely woman. While it hasn’t always been easy, it sure has been interesting. I love you, blondie.
My intention was to get a ton of stuff done this weekend: Do my grading, bottle some beer, brew another batch, fix the leaky keg in the kegerator, put the soft top on the Scout, maybe make a recycling run. Of all that, I got my grading 95% complete. The rest of the weekend was kind of a lazy wash.
Our third yard sale morning was somewhat beneficial. Finn and I got up late Saturday morning, wolfed down some breakfast, and hit the east side of town where a couple of community sales were happening. We came upon a man with some hand tools for sale, and I passed up all but three Craftsman metric wrenches because the sockets he had were all duplicates of ones I’ve got. Further down the road we came upon an unused smoker for $20, which I snapped up quickly, and Finn found a tiny luggage key and some good books for herself.
The pickings were pretty slim up the road, so we headed back home and farted around in the yard for a while. Then I stopped over to Finn’s old daycare to finish up training on the website I built for them back in October. After returning home for a shower and a shave, we picked up sushi and beer and went to visit Bear Gebler and his parents to get our baby on. NOM NOM NOM GIVE ME BABY TO HOLD. He was sacked out when we got there, slept through dinner, woke up to pee, had some milk, and promptly passed right back out again. Nice to see you, kid.
Sunday I got up and started work formulating a complicated spreadsheet to sort out my grading, which made no sense until my second cup of coffee. Then I went back and looked over my students’ midterm work and grades, compared it to their final work, factored in attendance and completion, and got my final numbers in order. With a few small exceptions I think it fits with what I was expecting very closely.
I’ve become a shoe guy. There, I’ve said it. I’m not Imelda Marcos with that shit, but I like to have a good classic pair of brown and black shoes for work. I’ve had a brown pair of Dr. Marten 1461’s since 1997 that I’ll never part with. I bought them with my ex at Nordstroms, and spent a lot of money on them, but they’re the original Made in England Docs, and they were made for my feet the day I tried them on. Those are the kind of shoes I like.
I’ve needed a black pair of casual dress shoes for forever; I also need another brown shoe to mix things up. And the trick has been finding something I like. I’ve been buying and returning black semi casual shoes from Zappos since the end of March, with no success. I started with Börn, which looked good online but wore like barges in person. Then a pair of Steve Maddens, which felt like I’d strapped cramped wooden blocks to my feet. Then I tried two styles of pricy Fryes, which looked great but suffered from crepe soles, which are made of snot and apparently turn black with age. For $250, snotty black shoes? No thanks.
With that backstory, we headed down to DSW to return a pair of shoes I’d bought last weekend which turned out to be torturously small in practice (how can that be when I tried them on at 4:30PM?). This was my second attempt at Steve Maddens–never again, no matter how lovely they look. Today I found Penguins, which feel great and look about the way I want them to. Unfortunately, they were out of black. So I got dark brown to replace a pair of $40 Target chukka boots I’ve worn the soles out of. (While I was there I tried a pair of Clark’s desert boots on, and OH MY GOD what crap shoes those were. I felt like I was lacing two sides of misshapen buffalo hide to my feet. What the fuck is that?) I then found another pair of casual dress shoes in the Clearance section for peanuts, so I grabbed those while I was at it; they’re a deep brown and could pass for black until I can find black. Who knew it was so hard to find the right shoe?
My final class is scheduled for next Monday, which is both a bummer and a relief. I’ll miss working with my students, but I won’t miss my adjusted schedule at all–and there’s a ton of work coming at WRI. There was also some shuffling around of classes last week, so I won’t be teaching the capstone class they had me scheduled for, but they swapped it out with a second-level typography class that sounds like fun.
We have a new front door as of yesterday! The old red steel door is gone, replaced with a new (faux) 6/6 windowed security door. It’s wonderful how much light comes in through the window now, and every time I came down the stairs this morning I thought the front door was open.
Last night I went out for beers with some designer friends at the Judge’s Bench, as part of a long-delayed effort to get together, and it was a very good time. Five of us met up from different circles around the Baltimore design scene, and it was fun to put history and shared experiences together. It’s funny how much overlap we all have together.
I’m taking a long lunch this afternoon to walk up to the Capitol lawn with a 70-200 lens and a tripod to shoot some pictures: The Arsenal of Democracy Flyover is scheduled for today at noon and I’m right in the sweet spot: They are flying directly down the Mall, over the Capitol, and banking off to the south from there. If I’m on the north side of the lawn, I’ll be in perfect position to get some great shots.
Saturday morning at 7, Finn and I got our clothes on quietly, pulled the Scout out of the garage, and went to get breakfast together. Then we hit the first yard sales of the season.
This is a tradition that dates back to Finn’s infancy, when I would get her dressed and fed by first morning’s light, then set her in the backpack and hike the neighborhood while Jen slept in. She and I scored all kinds of things together, from bikes to desks to toys and tools, and Saturday morning was always the highlight of my week.
We started on our side of Frederick Road and worked our way back through the leafy streets until we hit the edge of the park. Finn was on the hunt for charms for her bracelet, and the first score of the day was a huge green glass ring the size of a doorknob and a small coin in the shape of a paw.
Across Edmonson, there was a huge community yard sale happening, so we parked the Scout and walked, hand in hand. At first the pickings were pretty slim until we hit a house where a kid was unloading extra LEGOs, and Finn picked up a good-sized bag for $2. I found her a copper pin with a cursive F which a nice woman named Frances gave her for free. At some point, we began following a dude up the street who was asking after old cameras and adult bikes at each house. After a few stops, we caught up with him as he rummaged through a box of old photo gear and walked away with a light meter. I swooped in after him to grab an old Nikkormatic with a 50mm f/2 lens. The guy gave it to me for $10 because he couldn’t get the lens to unmount (after paying, I walked away and had it off in seconds).
Later we stopped at the house of one of Finn’s kindergarten friends, who were having a yard sale and a lemonade stand, and we refreshed ourselves. I struck up a conversation with his father, who had seen the Scout around town, and we found ourselves hanging out for another hour while the kids played in the driveway. At some point I noticed he had an old lens sitting on his table and found it was another Nikon mount, and demanded he let me pay him $5 for it. He threw in a nearly new Lowepro camera bag with it, which is just the thing I didn’t know I was looking for, but fits my camera and four lenses perfectly. His neighbor was selling a pile of window A/C units, so I picked out a nearly new unit for peanuts and threw it in the back of the Scout.
After tearing Finn away for lunch, I got busy in the garage sorting through all of the bins of stuff I brought back from my parents’ place. I cleaned out and moved the toolchest into place, organized the drawers and put everything away. He sent me home with a spare circular saw, belt sander, drill, rotary sander, and a router, all of which will be hugely helpful. The router I’m going to build a table around (or buy an inexpensive table for) so that I can mill wood faster.
I organized a pile of spare wood left over from the porch job, moved the engine to the back corner, and knocked down the last parts of a rickety old shelf to put new wood hangers up. Then I found a place for an 8′ section of beam from Grampy’s barn. Suddenly there was a whole lot of room in the garage.
Later in the day I futzed around with the new lenses and got them both to work in Manual mode; the Nikkor 50mm f/2 lens is nice, but will mainly be a backup for the AI 50mm f/1.8 lens I’ve already got. The other lens, however, has been fun to play with. It’s a Nikon-mount Vivitar 28mm f/2.5, so it’s wider and has a huge focus range. I spent most of the weekend learning where its sweet spots are so that I can get faster at shooting completely manually with it, which is fun. 28mm is a great distance to shoot from, too–not too close and not too far away.
Sunday was another good day of work and play; Finn had piano and swim lessons in the morning, and then we checked out an E-state sale (Finn’s pronunciation) behind the elementary school. It was pretty creepy–like walking into the Silence of the Lambs lotion-in-the-basement house, but interesting to check out. The owner had been an artist in NYC in the early 80’s and then moved to Catonsville sometime later, but his style was arrested firmly in the Reagan Decade, so it was a time capsule of quirk trapped in a little purple house.
Then we got to work in the garden in the afternoon moving bulbs and plants around to try and take advantage of the new sunlight available now that the cedar tree is gone.
We worked hard on this project until 5:30 or so, and broke for a quick dinner so that we could meet the neighbors across the street for some time in the playground. The weather was perfect, and the sun was warm. Our neighbors had to leave a little early to answer the call of nature, but Finn was playing with another girl, so we stayed. Her mother struck up a conversation with us and we talked until after the sun had set behind the school and the air cooled off. Saying our goodbyes, I carried a very tired, very barefoot girl back across the street and we put her into bed.
Having a little fun with a GoPro and the U-Haul I rented last weekend. There’s no sound, because it’s just wind noise.
This goofy guy is my grandfather, William Dugan Jr. I share a couple of things with him besides my name, my physique, and my DNA. His name is Bill, but I have always known him as Grampy.
He was born in April of 1915, the same month as Muddy Waters and Billie Holiday. Woodrow Wilson was the the President of the United States. The Allies were landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula in one of the largest and most useless campaigns of the First World War. Charlie Chaplin had just released The Tramp. A month later, the Lusitania would be sunk off the Irish coast, helping focus America’s attention on the war in Europe.
He married my grandmother, Ruth, in 1938, and shortly afterwards my father was born. The worried looking baby he’s holding in this picture is most likely my Dad.
After moving the family north, he supported them by driving across the state each Sunday night to be in New York City by Monday morning, painting houses and hanging wallpaper through the week, and leaving for home Friday evening. Then he would spend all weekend working on the house, adding insulation and central plumbing.
This series of photos is from a larger group that I scanned in 2006. I borrowed a video camera from a friend and filmed my grandfather talking about and identifying all of the people in these pictures before he forgot who they were and the information was lost forever. I have the footage (the original MiniDV tapes are in our fireproof safe) and keep meaning to organize and catalog it all, but work, child, and life have made it difficult to finish the project.
He’s going to be 100 years old tomorrow. Until just a few years ago, he was living in his own house, in complete control of his own faculties. At last count, he has eight children, eighteen grandchildren, and seventeen great grandchildren. I’m not even half his age, and I can’t imagine experiencing all the things he has in the span of his life.
This is the Grampy I remember. A pair of loud shorts, those thick glasses, and a white undershirt. And dogs. Always dogs. I think the shepherd in the front might be Pumpkin, but I could be off by a decade.
I’m not positive, but I think this one dates back to 1974 at my aunt Mary’s wedding. That’s some tuxedo he’s rocking.
This is from a family reunion sometime in the mid-80’s. There are other better shots from this series, but I like the informal candidness of this picture.
This is from about 2000, with his brother Tom.
We’re going to have a celebration for him tomorrow and on Saturday, and a bunch of the family is coming into town. I can’t think of anything better to say other than that I love this guy and I’m proud to share his name. Happy birthday, Grampy.