There are tangible benefits to having a talented artist in the family.
Yesterday Russell presented us with a combination birthday/Mother’s Day present: this very cool granite piece for our backyard flower beds. He made it using a machine that project a stream of high pressure water and a sand-like substance and can cut through just about anything. The shaped pieces of granite then fit together to form this beautiful three-dimensional sculpture that shines brilliantly in the morning sunshine and changes in feel and appearance as the sun moves across the sky and shadows play upon its surface. We love it and think it fits perfectly in our yard.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers out there! Happy Mother’s Day to my lovely wife, who has been an awesome mother, to my own dear mother and to my two wonderful grandmothers, who live forever in my thoughts (and in the expressions and sayings I use every day), and to the generations of mothers who preceded them whose love, hard work, nurturing, perseverance, sacrifice, and daily guidance were instrumental in producing the modern-day Webner clan.
You know, when you think about it, a card, some flowers, and a box of candy really don’t adequately recognize what mothers do for us and for our society. But then, some debts really can’t be satisfied with material items. All we can do for our mothers is love them right back, and try to live up to the standards they set and the instruction they provided. And take a day like today to think about how much our mothers have meant, and try our best to show them we appreciate it.
Russell’s here for a visit, and he’s brought his dog Betty. She’s a pretty and smart beagle mix who’s about 6 months old, and she’s got a lot of energy.
It’s interesting to observe the interaction of Betty and Kasey. Betty wants to romp, and Kasey wants to sleep, but they share one great interest: pawing through as much dirt as they can. It was be a close call whether our backyard bushes survive the furious digging competition.
After more than 75 years, the Diamond Grille in Akron is changing hands. Since 1941, the restaurant with the great name and the classic, cool neon sign has been owned by the Thomas family and has held down the same spot at 77 West Market Street.
The Diamond Grille has been an important part of Webner family lore and was a place that my mother and father used to socialize with their friends. Uncle Mack worked there when he was a callow youth, and Kish and I had had a memorable dinner there with Mom, Aunt Bebe, and Uncle Mack and Aunt Corinne a few years ago. The last time I chowed down at the Diamond I took a colleague there for lunch. She’d never been there before, and as we were eating she looking around with a sense of wonder and said: “This place is great!”
Of course, she was right. The Webner family wishes the Thomas family the very best as they move on to other things, and wants to thank them for a lifetime of wonderful memories. If you’re interested, you can read about some of our experiences at the Diamond here, here, here, and here.
Recently we took Kasey to the vet’s office while we went on a weekend trip. When we returned the vet reported that Kasey had been very anxious during her stay — so anxious that they actually had to give her some kind of sedative to calm her down. One symptom of her stress was that when the vet’s assistants would try to walk her, she would constantly tug them toward the road, as if she wanted to return home.
Of course, this news made us feel like crap — nobody wants to hear that the canine member of their family is suffering from anxiety issues — but it also leaves us with tough and limited choices. Although it is increasingly common for people to travel with their dogs these days, we can’t take Kasey along every time we go on a trip. We can’t take her everywhere we go, and leaving her alone in a hotel room seems like a recipe for disaster. We’ve had her stay at our house with a dog sitter who stops by a few times a day for some of our short trips, but that approach often produces accidents. We’ve taken her to the vet, where the anxiety issues have occurred, and we’ve boarded her at kennels, but those stays seem to leave Kasey sleep-deprived and exhausted. Kasey is an old dog, and the constant barking you hear whenever you visit one of those kennels seems to really bother her.
People used to talk about “a dog’s life,” as if the leisurely romping and dozing we associate with pooches was the kind of lifestyle we should all aspire to, but researchers have found that dogs in fact deal with lots of issues. Many dogs have serious problems with separation anxiety when their owners leave the house; others are high-strung and have delicate constitutions thanks to the constant inbreeding needed to produce the latest designer dog. Some dogs take daily medication for psychological issues, which really makes you wonder: what does it say when our modern society is to the point where there is a significant issue with dogs being over-medicated for mental conditions?
I’m not sure what we’re going to do with Kasey when we travel; we’ve got a while before we both have to be out of town again. I do know this: I’m willing to accept a few accidents on the carpet if that means she doesn’t have to be sedated.
Yesterday we spent some time over at the urban farm, where it’s planting season. So far this year Emily and Russell have planted a number of black currant and raspberry bushes to join the apple trees and strawberry plants that remain from last year, and there’s a new beehive where the bees are busily doing their thing. You could say things are buzzing at the farm.
It was a fine day, clear and not too warm, so we tried to put it to good use. Russell and I spent most of our time shoveling dark, steaming topsoil from a huge mound into the back of his pickup truck, then transferring it onto the rows to be available for even more planting. Thanks to the squatting, lifting, and twisting, I felt like I’d spent a few hard hours at the gym — except the farm effort also helped to produce two more furrows that are ready to go and made a noticeable dent in the topsoil pile.
Last night we went to see Julianne perform with the Austin Symphony Orchestra, which is the reason we came to the capital city of Texas in the first place. The ASO delivered a stirring rendition of Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, then Julianne’s oboe solo kicked off John Corigliano’s beautiful and touching Music from the Edge. I’d never heard anything by Corigliano before, but I really enjoyed that piece. The concert closed with a return to Copland, for some fine clarinet work on the Concert for Clarinet and String Orchestra (with Harp), and finally Dvorak’s powerful Symphony No. 8 in G Major. Julianne played marvelously — of course!
It was a great performance by a really good orchestra. One other thing about the ASO — its performance hall is world class, with a walkout area that offers a magnificent view of the Austin skyline across the river. And since the ASO doesn’t like photos taken inside the building, I took the photo above to remember a wonderful evening.