Pearl Tree Planting

Our friend Stacy's father passed away around this time last year, and her mother Bernice moved out to Santa Fe soon after. When the time came for the family to consider a tombstone they decided that, rather than stick a rock in the ground that none of them would visit, it would be better to honor him with a couple pear trees that everyone could enjoy.

This past Sunday, Stacy and Jim hosted a party at their place, a gathering of friends and family to plant the trees.

After a couple days of cooling weather, we had a beautiful, 70° afternoon. M+D are still in town, and Stacy and Jim were good enough to extend the invitation to them as well. We visited some, caught up with Bernice, then it was time for the ceremony. They'd done plenty of work already, digging the holes and bringing in good soil (mostly rock and dirt in their yard). But after a few words, there was the planting to be done.


The crowd got into it (a couple had actually brought their own tools) and, with plenty of advice from all the gardeners on hand, soon the trees were planted and watered. Afterward, plenty of wonderful food (including Ben's namesake chicken dish) and more good times.

Update: D's posted his take on the day.


24 Hour Comics Day 2008

For the third year, we were happy to be a part of 7000 BC's sponsorship of 24 Hour Comics Day in Santa Fe (2006 here and 2007 here). For the first time, it wasn't held at True Believers (which will always be our spiritual home), but at the amazing new facilities at Warehouse 21. M+D stopped by around the start (oh, yeah, they got here on Wednesday, they'll be here for the next couple weeks housesitting for J+J) and I'm pretty sure can attest to the awesomeness that is the giant art space, encompassing a gallery (where we were set up), a digital media lab, and two stages, plus all sorts of other areas.

It all gave us more space than ever before for the 24 "official" participants (28, including the support folks) and the plenty of other friends, family, and hangers-on that stopped by. Undeniably the most successful yet, with 13 who completed the full 24 pages (read about the challenge here). Monica was working on a new issue of Raised By Squirrels; I had helped organize the event with W21 and Chris from True Believers, so had plenty of errands to run, but was liveblogging from the events at the official 24 hour comics blog:
The southern part of the group was running an event at the Harwood Art Center in Albuquerque — they were posting to 24hcd.blogspot.com as well — but they also had their own dedicated blog at 24 Hours in Q-Town.

One of the undeniably coolest things was the reporter and photographer from The Santa Fe New Mexican who stopped by, putting together an article on Saturday night that appeared in Sunday's paper — while it was still going on.

As always, it was an exciting, energizing time, inspiring to see the work that was produced, and to see the progression in the ten or so folks who were doing it once again. And, once again, we went home before midnight — but brought everyone bagels by 8:00. We actually ate really well, with donations from Walter Burke Catering, Java Joe's, Upper Crust Pizza, and La Montanita Co-Op.

It still makes for a long couple days. After cleaning up, we treated ourselves to a late breakfast at Zia Diner. Then it was back home to winterize — clean the windows and screens, pack the grill and such away in the shed. Even though it was around 70° today, we saw temperatures below freezing overnight this past week, and the threat of snow (which only materialized up in the mountains) as well.


Road to the Cloud's House


Last night was the book release part for Road to the Cloud's House, a collection of prose poems by John Brandi and Renée Gregorio from an extended visit to Chiapas.

Tom at the Print Shop at the Palace of the Governors is behind the project. Tom made the paper, Monica did the typesetting, a calligrapher whose name I don't have with me now did a terrific icon for the title page, Tom and James printed it at the Palace, and then a local bookbinder (again, don't have the name here) put it all together. The result is a beautiful work that is as much a love letter to the region as it is to the nature of hand-making books.

The event last night was well-attended, and added to the whole experience of reading the book. Both poets, familiar with doing readings, their presentations of their pieces were lively and evocative, and demonstrated how they played off each other in writing them.


Right now, at the annual 24 Hour Comics Day event, this year at Warehouse 21. Doing a little liveblogging.


So, Minnesota, Then

Spent a few days last week up in the Twin Cities, visiting Paul, Theresa and Audrey — and their new dog, Pogo. [Also called at various times, PoPo, Pongo, Mongo, Torgo, Togo, Bobo, So-and-so, Bozo —M]

Thursday Arrived into MSP — without any real travel delays, if you can believe that. Found P+T's new (to us) house without a problem, in a nice little '50s-era suburb north of St. Paul. Around sunset, we took a stroll to Lake Johanna, just a couple blocks from their house.

Friday Theresa's mother Trish was around for a couple of days, so she took Audrey off to kindergarten (!); we had a leisurely start to the day before hitting the road to Taylors Falls, about an hour north. The interstate park is kind of around and south of the town. We paid our entry, parked the car, and took the River Trail. Around 2 miles, it goes along the St. Croix river; with a late fall just arriving, it was just beautiful out there.

The trail ends (or begins, I suppose, depending on where you enter the park) at the "potholes," a bunch of natural caves in the rock, including the Bottomless Pit. Now, I know it wasn't really going to be bottomless — but when I could actually see the bottom, about 60' down, I felt a bit cheated.

Across the street, to the town itself, for a little lunch. Including fried cheese curds. Mmmmmmm.

A stroll back along the other side of the highway, along what used to be a rail line. And then the scenic route home in time for some sitting outside in the last light of the evening, playing with the dog. Then off to Muffaletta for dinner. Choosing from the menu was agonizing, everything sounded so good. And everything we got was.

So, at the booth, then, Monica had a view of the door. And — stop and think for a moment. How likely are you to see a celebrity in St. Paul? I mean, nothing against the city, but who would be in St. Paul? That's right, Garrison Keillor came into the restaurant, and took the table next to us. Since he was with some friends, we opted not to interrupt him, but it was kinda fun catching bits of that voice.

Saturday We had timed our trip so that we could attend FallCon. Mon and I got a great breakfast at Keys Cafe before heading to the convention, while everyone else went about their weekend business. There was to be a family gathering later in the day for Marcus' birthday, so we got to the convention early and hit it in a whirlwind. I met up with the local creators group, we worked our way through the vendors, and then headed off to Marcus and Melissa's house in Minneapolis. Still nice enough to sit outside, visiting and playing with their Australian Shepherd puppy. Kelly and Julie were there, with the twins, and we also got to meet Marcus and Melissa's new daughter. Back to P+T's for the ribs we had sent from Rendezvous, in honor of that Memphis trip a few years back.

Sunday was gray and rainy — kind of a novelty for us — so we enjoyed the lazy morning, lingering over a late breakfast and the comics section.

Then headed into the city to The Walker. There's a Modernist prefab house from Flatpak outside these days that was fun to check out (and imagine as a casita out back).


Inside, the main goal in our visit to the (much expanded since we were last there) museum was the Saarinen show, but there was also time to check out Statements, Mythologies, and the permanent collection. Then it was time for ice cream up the hill at Sebastian Joe's. At home that evening, a fire in the fireplace and beef stew.

Monday Though P+T were off work Monday, Trish was gone by then, and Audrey wanted to skip her usual after school activities to spend the afternoon with us. We'd run through our planned activities, but Mon wanted to go to the IKEA that she spotted when the plane was landing. We started at Sunnyside Up Cafe — where they put mushrooms in their sausage gravy.

And then to Open Book. A real singular entity, it combines a letterpress/binding workshop, a gift store with all sorts of prints from around the country, a gallery space, a small publisher, a coffee shop, and all kinds of meeting rooms in an amazing, large, industrial space. Basically, I could live there. But I chose not to, for now, and we continued on our day. We retrieved Audrey, picked up some cheese and cheese curds, and headed back home for a walk (and bike for Audrey and P) around the neighborhood.

Turned out to be the nicest weather of the whole trip, still warm at the end of the day. But not warm enough that, when Pogo decided to go swimming in the lake, any of us were following him.

Dinner that evening at Tavern on Grand for some walleye (fried, light and crisp) and next door for some ice cream. A little driving around downtown St. Paul, and then home to pack.

Tuesday's trip home was, again, uneventful. Flights were even early, which made for a pleasant conclusion to a terrific trip.


Better Results This Time

Returned from visiting P+T in St. Paul (more on that later) Tuesday afternoon, a little worn out. But the return to work was pretty uneventful — so, what the hey, I'll compete in the D and Under Epee tournament at NMFF Wednesday night.

When I arrived, just as registration was closing around 6:00, to a wild flurry of activity. Wound up with 26 competitors — most of them beginners from Prep, along with a few from our club (most of whom I teach) — but there was enough that ratings would be awarded. It was pretty crazy, we were running all five strips, but it was great to have so many participants.

And, well, to skip ahead (and since you read the title, you can figure where it's going), I won it. Did well in the pools, got a bye in the first round of the direct eliminations. Made it through the first two, but the semifinal bout had me down 13-8 (in a 15-touch bout); came back, and we were tied at 14-14 when the second 3-minute period ended. The final went better; it was against the one of the other D fencers, from our club. By then, around 9:45, we were both dragging, but I pulled it out and earned my own D in epee.

No photos, but maybe someone else will have some.

Update: the official standings.