Tuesday, July 31, 2007

good *hiccup* mornin'

I'm not much of a coffee drinker.
I can admit that now that I'm not managing a coffeehouse.
I used to put my diet Pepsi in a coffee cup so I did not frighten the customers.
The coffeehouse opened at 6:30, so that meant stumbling in to work by 6:00 to make the coffee.
I got in the habit of drinking a soda first thing in the morning.

This morning I followed my usual routine of grabbing a diet Pepsi on the way out the door.
At the first stop light I reached down popped the tab and took a big swig of….Miller Lite.
Nothing like a big gulp of beer at 7:30 in the morning.
I'm glad that I have a toothbrush at work.
It was also problematic about what to do with leftover beer (no, I did not finish it) and can.
So many of our students are in addiction recovery programs and we are super careful about having alcohol in the building, so I didn't haul it in with me.
All day I was afraid that someone would walk by the truck at see the can in my cup holder.
Plus folks think I'm goofy enough as it is (I prefer to think that I'm just quirky).
I never thought that I'd be worried about beer when I was 46 years old.

I do drink a little bit of coffee now -- that it is not free.
I had good coffee on tap for seven years and did not take advantage of it.
I used to joke that I had a clean palate and was not drinking up the profits.

I was always making myself some fancy drink and putting lots of stuff in it, trying to make myself like it.

Last year I discovered that I like plain old black coffee.
The good thing about drinking black coffee is that you can leave it in the car all day and it is still fine -- unlike beer.

Monday, July 30, 2007


It's always a good day when you get to hang out with Doris.
I lived next door to Doris a dozen years ago. I used to see her several times a week, even after I moved.
I'd stop by her house often when I managed the coffeehouses.
She was part of my daily routine.
We also spent several holidays together, I'd drive her giant Buick to church and brunch.
She never married and always cared for her brother.
After Jimmy died, Doris really blossomed at the age of 84.
For the first time in her life she was not bound by someone else's schedule.

She moved to another side of town about the same time that I started working at Second Helpings. I've been terrible about keeping up with her. She drove until last year. She told me tonight that she drove around the parking lot of Second Helpings so she could picture where I work.

She is very funny and full of good advice.
She's always up on current events and does the cross word puzzle every day.

Doris turned 95 in April. When she was born (at home) she only weighed 1.5 pounds. They tucked her behind the wood stove and no one expected her to live. She did not attend school until she was 9 years-old, because the doctors were convinced that she would not live much longer. She's outlived a dozen doctors.

Tonight I joined Jeff and Helen, her old neighbors on either side of her house for juice and cookies at Doris's.

It made me realize just how much I miss her.
I'm going to call her tomorrow to schedule the next visit.

Friday, July 27, 2007

second helpings promo spot

Now that I know how to post videos...watch out!!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

emily kennerk

I started this post two weeks ago.
I feel like I'm all backwards and out-of-whack lately.
I usually write the blog first and work some of the posts in to my column or a NUVO piece.
In essence you guys are the guinea pigs.
In this case, I wrote about Emily Kennerk's show for the Gazette first, but you dear readers, need some back-story.

Sweet Emily is a family friend. My first memory of her is July 4, 1976. Emily was a little kid in pigtails running around the yard with a sparkler. Our families attended the same church (St. Alphonsus in Zionsville) and our parents became friends. Fast forward 20 years and I was running in to Emily in Indianapolis. She attended Herron Art School. My brother and I went to her senior show. A few years later I was seeing Emily and her brother Hugh almost daily. Hugh's business and Emily's studio were right down the street from the coffeehouse and my house.

Emily once went out with my pretend husband, Lyle Lovett. She sculpted a leg that was inspired by his music and took it to a concert. Lyle love it and took her to dinner after the show. Emily used to complain about not dating, but I told her that one date with Lyle was worth a year of dating anyone else.

Emily moved to Chicago last year to teach, but still spends a big chunk of time in Indianapolis. And it turns out that Emily and Bella Rossa are hometown and Chicago friends. It's a small cyber-world.
Having a museum show is a big-ass deal. The fact that it is at the Indianapolis Museum of Art is way cool.

Here is the piece I wrote for the Broad Ripple Gazette:

Thursday, July 12, 2007
Emily Kennerk: SuburbanNation
Artist talk and opening reception
Indianapolis Museum of Art

I am thrilled for Emily Kennerk. To have a museum show is a really big deal in the art world. Emily’s work is a big deal, and in the case of this show – a huge deal. SuburbanNation is a series of four installations looking at suburban icons as an art form.

Emily did an amazing job with her artist talk, telling us about her studio practice and inspirations. She recounted a trip to IMA in 6th grade. The class assignment was to choose a piece of work to write about. After the formal tour Emily set off to find the painting featuring horses she had spied earlier. Instead she found a piece she liked even more. She could not find the information on the artist so she asked the docent. She was not sure what Emily was talking about so Emily led her to the piece. Young Emily had discovered a side stairwell with walls that were in the middle of being repainted. She has seen the beauty and art in unconventional places ever since then.

Emily took a circuitous route to being an artist. She was “horse crazy” as a child and became an accomplished equestrian. Her career was sidelined when she was injured. She started studying art at after she realized the only “A” she received in college was in art history.

Emily showed slides of her work as she talked about her influences. I was thrilled to see a piece from her Olan Mills series that she had given me on the big screen. Emily gradually started working on bigger and bigger pieces. The four IMA pieces were the biggest yet.

After the lecture we partied on one of the pieces, Boundaries. 600 people listened to Bigger Than Elvis, played cornhole and croquet, noshed on burgers and ice cream sandwiches and chatted among the checkered tablecloths.

I first met Emily when she was a pig-tailed little girl. She was fearless -- leading the gang in climbing to the top of the grain bin and playing in the wagons. I’m goose-bumpy proud of her for continuing to blaze the trail in her work.

You can see Emily’s show through October 7. The best view of Boundaries is through the third floor window next to her other pieces.

Gretchen Katner and Emily Kennerk.
Gretchen and Emily were studio mates at Herron.

High Density

Untitled: Porches

I took photos until the nice security guard told me to stop.

Amy (Emily's sister) and Ann (my sister)

The band Bigger Than Elvis played at the party.

Opening party

I posted two You Tube videos about the show in posts below. I couldn't figure out how to embed them in this post.
I pretty damn proud that I even got them on my blog.

indianapolis museum of art - emily kennerk: suburban nation

opening of suburban nation at indianapolis museum of art

Sunday, July 22, 2007

sunday evening bike ride

My friend Maura and I rode our bikes downtown this evening.
The Monon Trail runs right outside my back gate.

My camera was perched in my bike basket (I have a wicker basket on my cruiser bike--any one surprised?), but decided not to take it at the last minute.
I'm afraid that I've been looking through the lens too much and not appreciating the scenery around me.
And, what could I possibly see on the five mile bike ride downtown that would be photo worthy?

Two of 'um.
The circus was in town. I've never been to the circus. I did not realized how huge the big top tent is.

We rode to the Cottage Home neighborhood for the Jungle Gym Jam. The musicians are friends and I knew the name of most of the kids dancing in front of the band (toddler Nora* is so cute!). The neighborhood is full of friendly people and great houses.
My bike tire was low and someone I just met pumped it up for me while I used her bathroom. Doesn't get more friendly that that!

The ride was bittersweet. Maura was offered a fabulous job last week and is moving to Portland. I met her the first week that I moved back to town. She and I have lived pretty parallel lives the last dozen years. She dated the guitar player of a band that often shared the bill with my guitar-playin' boyfriend's band. Both couples broke up the same month. We've shared dating woes. She's lost 20 pounds, I've gained...oppps, guess the similarities end there.

We rode by the circus on the way home-- and it was almost gone! In three hours they loaded up the animals and tore down the tent. Amazing.

* 3 year-old Nora is quite a pistol. I'll be at an event and hear:
Nora, stop touching that.
Nora, is that a good idea?
Nora, put the baby down.
Nora, do you have to go potty?

Whenever I hear my name I stop what ever I'm doing and and head to the bathroom.
Young Nora is newly potty trained. Nora's dad asked a friend of mine to compliment Nora on her pretty "big girl" panties -- I got teased a lot that night!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I've started and not quite finished a few posts, I will get to them soon.
I've also been busy, even by my liberal standards.
An evening meeting was cancelled and I didn't get the message.
The missed communication landed me in a coffeehouse with wireless access.
Perfect. I'm giving myself permission to catch up on reading blogs.

Today was my typical chock-full of activities day.
I was at work at 8:00 this morning, after leaving at 10:30 last night.
I spent a restless night wondering if I was being slowly poisoned by a gas leak -- the gas main in front of my house was cut yesterday and I told the gas guy I could light my own pilot lights.
Famous last words.

I had the great pleasure of speaking to a group of visiting Kyrgyzstani students this morning. They are all interested in economic development and are in the States for a month and are studying at IUPUI.

Second Helpings is hard to explain on a good day.
Throw in the language barrier (I spoke through an interpreter) and the cultural differences and it gets even dicier. In Kyrgyzstan most business is government owned and non-for-profit agencies don't exist.
The idea of volunteering is unheard of, as is the idea of funding a project through individual donations (less than 1% of our budget is from public funds or government grants).
There were lots of questions about fundraising and having a voice in our government. I was trying to explain networking and the role of lobbyists.

The Kyrgyzstani's also take care of their own people, the sick and elderly are taken care of by their families. The students could not believe there were people living on the street. "Where is their family?" They cannot believe that American's throw out 25% of the usable food supply. It is a hard statistic to tell and swallow.

The students all treated me like a rock star. Each one had their photograph taken with me and several video-recorded the talk.
I joined them for lunch afterward. They are all very cosmopolitan and much more fashionable than me. We talked about music. It was fun to grab a NUVO from the university lunchroom and show them my byline.

The next speaker was my friend from the Department of Agriculture. I told the students I was off to 'network' and whispered the story of the spilled drink and my subsequent skirt mopping to the interpreter. As I re-introduced myself to Mr. Ag there was a big burst of laughter from the students. I just shrugged my shoulders -- crazy college kids.

I'm glad to know that I can blush in any language.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

grocery shopping

Can't tell I'm a single woman by my grocery purchases, can ya?

And yes, I busted in to the Pringles on the way home.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

flower man jam

The Flower Man Jam started about a dozen years ago.

Some back story:
When I first moved back from Philadelphia/South Jersey area I lived with my brother is a swanky house that he and some buddies rented on Indianapolis’ Meridian Street. Meridian is the north/south street that bisects the city. The street is full of show place homes, including the governor’s residence (not that our governor lives there, but I’ve promised myself that I will not make this a political blog).
Once the lease was up brother and I moved to a house on the White River. J.R. was thinking about buying the house and was doing a lot of work on it in exchange for rent. He was also in the beginning of his relationship with his now wife, so he was not around very much. I was managing the very hip and cool Some Guys Pizza and working nights. A big project was often started when I was a work and I’d come home to no kitchen or door on the bathroom. I can roll with the punches pretty well, but the night (actually it was 2:00 in the morning) I came home to freshly lacquered hardwood floors was a challenge. I could not walk on the floors and my bedroom and the bathroom were on the second floor.
My brother decided not to buy the house and remembered to tell me on Christmas Day that we needed to be out by December 31.

One of my Some Guys coworkers had and extra bedroom in his house and needed some extra money. I gratefully moved in to Jeff’s house. Jeff is one of the funniest people that I know, and I woke up every day laughing. I lived there until I moved in to my current abode.

The neighbors were wonderful. Next-door neighbor Doris was in her 80s and caring for her brother, Jimmy. They are worthy of a whole post of their own. On Doris’s 88th birthday I arranged living room concert for her. The band consisted of AVS, Jeff, Keith (owner of Some Guys Pizza), and Helen (another neighbor). Doris said it was her best birthday ever.

That summer Helen invited the same people to her house for a ‘jam’. Her parents lived in an old farmhouse on the corner for over 70 years. The first part was built circa 1850 and the rest of the house was added in 1890. Karl and Bessie ran a landscaping and perennial business on that spot for over 60 years. The house has not changed much, the flooring is patterned linoleum and the bathroom is on the back porch.

The yard is amazing.

Karl was known as the Flower Man and he was always ready for a chat. If you brought him beer the stories got even better. If you brought it in a coffee cup it earned you a wink and a big smile.

Time spent with Karl and Bessie was time well spent.
Bessie died in her sleep the night after one of the early year jams. Bessie asked Helen to play the piano that night, and Bessie danced around the kitchen.

Karl continued to live in the house and sell plants and flowers. Helen would come to Indianapolis each spring, mid-summer and fall to help with the business. She spent the rest of her time in North Dakota helping her sons on their family farm. Helen continues to come back and run the business each summer.

The concerts got bigger each year and Karl continued to be the life of the party. Karl died three summers ago at age 95. The Flower Man Jam continues. My friend, Stasia Demos wrote a beautiful song about him, “Pushing Up Daisies”.

Fifteen musicians showed up last night—playing guitar, bass, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, tenor saxophone, accordion, ukulele and various percussion instruments. The songs ranged from old time-y folk to Led Zeppelin with a heavy emphasis on The Beatles. The musicians included college professors, syndicated morning radio show personalities, attorneys, stay-at-home moms and ministers. I am always amazed that musicians can play songs they don’t know and sound good.

I spent the whole time all goose-bumpy and happy.

Friday, July 06, 2007

chocolate covered nora

...and not in a good way.

This is the first Friday of the month, which means art gallery festivities all over the city. I host an acoustic music series at the Harrison Center to coincide with their gallery opening.
I actually remembered it when I got dressed this morning. I wore my denim skirt (the famous skirt of this post. It does not look nearly as crazy with out the stripped knee socks), a black tee, Dansko Mary Jane shoes and some "artsy" jewelry. My plan was to stay downtown, meet my parents, sister Ann and her lovely husband Tim.

This morning I also remembered to take four packages of candy making chocolate to give to one of my coworkers. I just forgot to take it out of the truck.
Did I mention that it was 90 degrees today?

I slid into the drivers seat after work and noticed the packages of hot gooey mess on the passenger seat. I decided that I would pull up next to the dumpster and toss them. I grabbed them as I was opening my door. The chocolate started oozing out of the wrappers.
My reaction was to hold on tighter--squeeze harder.
It started squirting out of both ends of the packages -- all over me, the truck and the parking lot. Hot goopy chocolate running down my legs in to my shoes between my toes. Icky chocolate sliding down the door of the truck in to the pocket that holds my CDs. Chocolate all over the seat, floor mat and the carpeting. I actually burst in to tears. I'm not sure if it was the pain from the chocolate or wondering how I'm ever going to clean it up.
I was tempted to peel my clothes off right there. Fortunately/unfortunately that neighborhood is not unaccustomed to half naked crazy women walking by.
I had to head for home -- and almost crashed when my slimy foot slid off of the brake.
I'm skipped dinner for an attitude adjustment, but I'm ready to head back out for the music.
I do smell quite sweet.

I stuck my skirt in the freezer so the chocolate will harden.
If only I could do that to the truck.
How long would it take me to drive to Alaska?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

happy birthday jerry

Go wish Jerry happy birthday. We celebrated his birthday at the Herr extravaganza yesterday.

Here he is looking at his book of blogger birthday wishes. Thanks to those who contributed, and I apologize to you that I did not get ahold of.

July 4 has turned in to one of my favorite days. My whole family is together. Sister Ann and and her husband, Tim are visiting from Phoenix. I met them and my papa at the parade.

My best-friend-since-first-grade Ann Herr Mitchell and the rest of the Herr clan were there.

We've always parked ourselves on the lawn of a Herr relative. Mrs. Darnell died this winter. Another family friend purchased the house. We told Norma that we (and bathroom privileges) came with this house.

I adore the parade. Lots of 4-H'ers, Boy Scouts, karate clubs, dump trucks and farm equipment. The old tractors always make me teary.

Mr and Mrs Herr --I still can't call them by their first names, they've been Mr and Mrs Herr for 40 years, host a cook-out and fireworks party. I love seeing my niece and nephew play with the other kids on the same yard that we ran around in.

We've gone from kids with enough weed pulling money saved to purchase sparklers and snakes to adults with disposable income and a penchant for fireworks.

The show gets bigger and better each year. The boys set up the goods on a flat bed trailer and put on a forty minute show. It is quite amazing. Half of the fun is seeing the guys scurry around in the dark lighting the fireworks with a blow torch.


independence day

The day lived up to my every expectation.

And, yes my tee shirt says "I traded my boyfriend for a sparkler."

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

good craic

It was a lovely Independence Day Eve.
Several friends wound up at the Red Key and we had a jolly time.
I perfected my "fart on a griddle routine" and table hopped all night.
The Irish word "craic" was on my mind the whole evening.

I'm very excited about tomorrow, I just love the Fourth of July parade in Lebanon.
The day is full of tradition for me.
I have the day planned down to the flavor of ice cream cone I'm getting and the nap in my old bedroom.

Monday, July 02, 2007


These are strange things to admit to -- I like to help people move and I kind of enjoy giving people first aid.
Of course, I'd be happy to never do either thing again.
Last week the two things converged in to one goofy evening.

I have three things going for me in the moving category.

#1. I am freakishly strong.
#2. I'm good natured.
#3. I have a truck.

I also have three things in my favor in the first aid category.

#1. I was a certified EMT back in the day.
#2. I'm not squeamish.
#3. I'm unflappable.

I will go months at a time without helping people move or applying a band aid.
As with all things when it rains, it pours. My friend Matt (of the nice suit) moved this week and needed my help moving a sign. A sign that we may or may not have rescued (under the cover of night) from the side of a building that was recently torn down. I told Matt I could help him any evening.

So instead, I helped Mom move stuff twice last week. She is doing a remodeling project that involves the water being turned off and everything out of the garage. She's also moving out of her work office. I called Tammy to help the second day. Mom purchased a giant butcher block table at a store-that-shall-not-be-named. That store and their employees were most unhelpful. We wound up borrowing a cart from the lovely folks at Pottery Barn. They were very generous to loan it to us fifteen minutes before they closed to haul something that we did not purchase there. When we got back to snotty-attitude-store the guy looked at us and asked "Who's going to help you?"
He did not like my answer. He was complaining that the cart was too small, the table was too heavy, blah blah.
I can not convey in words how little patience I have for that crap. I gave him a look that must have stirred something in him. He helped lift the table on to the cart. And I restrained my urge to "accidentally" knock stuff over as I was dragging the table through the store.
A nice guy in the parking lot helped us lift it in to my truck. I was able to back the truck close to mom's front door (we had to move a heavy iron gate to do it). I measured the table, the doors and the hallway and determined that we could get it in to the kitchen.
Tammy and I somehow got the table off of the truck.
She mentioned that she was wearing the wrong shoes for the job.
That, of course was all fate needed.
The table slid over the top of her foot, slicing a nice gash on the top of her foot. She had the good sense to stagger to the tile floor and not bleed on the hard woods. I used bottled water to clean off the wound and applied pressure. I got Tammy's foot elevated and the bleeding slowed down.
That is when Mom kicked in to action, reached in the fridge and offered Tammy a cup of applesauce. That is Mom's comfort food. If the going gets rough offer applesauce --I declared applesauce the official snack food of the Spitznogle/Cothron nuptials, because anytime things got stressful Mom would bust out the applesauce.

In between trying to clean the blood off of Tammy's foot with cotton balls and bottled water and applying pressure I remembered that a cute single guy lives behind mom. I made Mom call Mike (he is a nice man, we're the same age, both Catholic. I'm surprised that my parents have not arranged a marriage), he arrived to find a table wedged in the front door, two blood streaked women laughing hysterically and Mom holding a six pack of applesauce.
I think that scene effectively insured that Mike will never ask me out.

We got the table in moved in to the kitchen and Mike fled in to the night.

new month

When I started this blog I pictured doing a photo blog, but that was not meant to be. This is my third camera in eight months.
My first digital camera was very old, especially in the world of digital cameras.
It was dropped when my brother grabbed while we were dancing. Since we were both dancing, you can bet that there was alcohol involved.

I purchased this camera in January:

It was okay for general picture taking, but cruddy in low light situations.
And I hang out in a lot of dark places.
It is nice when I can illustrate my Broad Ripple Gazette column with photos. I was taking laughably bad ones, even when I was standing on the stage, three feet from the musician.

As you can see, this camera was also dropped. Yes, my brother was involved. It was at a baseball game. The lens cover would never open or close the whole way, leaving a dark shadow in the corner of every photo. My crappy photos became even crappier.

I decided to buy a camera that would actually do what I needed it to. I was looking for a camera with lens that I could adjust manually, has low light capabilities, and the ability to turn off the flash at a flick of the dial. I'm not good a squinting in to the little screen when I'm standing in a crowd.
The Fuji S6000fd digital camera is perfect for me. I did research on-line and checked it out at my local camera shop. I'm very tactile, I need to hold something before I buy it and I really believe in shopping locally. In this case it paid off handsomely, the camera was $200 less than the Fuji Web site.

What I don't believe in are purchase protection plans. The woman was telling me about the repair coverage I could get on the camera and I was only half listening, nodding politely, knowing that I was not going to "fall for it."

Then she said it covered everything but fire and theft.

What if my little brother drops it?
What if I'm pool side with my niece and nephew and it drops in the water?
What if I'm next to the stage and get caught up in a mosh pit?
What if I leave it on the back of the truck with the tail gate down and I run over it?
What if I'm at a Ted Nugent concert, and a sweaty guy carrying two beers and playing air-guitar tries to kiss me and spills beer on the camera?

She said "yes" to everything. I think she's still praying for me.

And I'm not letting J.R. touch it.
If only I could go back to the day that I let him play with my Skipper doll...she might still have a head.