Sunday, August 24, 2008

Biking to Michelangelo

We live near the Hometown University campus, so when SodaBoy and I discovered there was an exhibit featuring Michelangelo originals on display at the art building, we were thrilled. Yesterday was the first available non-work day, so we took advantage of the nice weather, and biked over. Biking to an art exhibit was a fun new experience.

The exhibit was pretty awesome. It was all simple stuff, drawings and writings, no splashy paintings or sculptures. Still, it was pretty incredible to see these objects preserved, pieces of paper that are, in some cases, nearly 500 years old. There were sketches and studies from famous works, made all the more interesting because you could see where erasures and re-drawings had been made. I found the sketch for theThe Sacrifice of Isaac to be particularly compelling.

Note: Cameras had to be checked at the entrance, so this second photograph is not mine. I downloaded it from the Hometown University website, on the "press" page for the exhibit.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesday Night is Clam Night

We've started a new summer time ritual around here: Tuesday night is clam night. The process starts with SodaBoy taking a short drive to the seafood market, a specialty shop that has all kinds of great stuff and supports the local NPR station. The clams aren't displayed in the coolers with the fish, but a simple inquiry revealed they have succulent clams hidden in the back room, two dozen for under $12. We don't live in an coastal region, but are within a day's easy drive, and seafood from the specialty shop is always delightful fresh.

We steam the clams. We eat them right in the kitchen, standing round the stove top, dipping them in bubbling butter that swims with chives from the garden, sipping white wine after every clam. The air is filled with the sounds of mmmmms and ummms; the stove and counter tops become dappled with butter drips. It is so damn good no one cares.

Then we take a brief intermission, and I take the local new potatoes off the steamer, and dump the leftover chive butter over them, and top the concoction with fresh, local parsley. The second course of potatoes is accompanied by local sweet corn and more wine, and is eaten at the dining room table, while music plays. I am not normally a big drinker, but this Tuesday night ritual just might convert me. The meal is so simple, so buttery, and so good.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Old and the New

We went to an antique festival today. It was only the second such event I have attended, and just like last time, I walked away a bit confused. About two-thirds of the stuff was junk to my eyes, looking like someone cleaned out their basement, and decided to sell all their garbage at obscenely high prices. The remainder of the stuff was gorgeous, so nice that I won't say overpriced, even though the prices were mind-boggling. There was amazing hand-made furniture, spectacular stained glass, and some old muskets that caught SodaBoy's eye.

There were also beautiful, museum quality paintings from the 1800s, available for the bargain price of $60,000. They really were very nice paintings. As we browsed in awe, enjoying them vicariously (never for a fleeting moment even considering a purchase), the proprietor kept telling us to let him know if we saw one we liked, and he would cut us a really good deal. Very nice and all, but I suspect "a really good deal" on a $60,000 painting would still be light years beyond our budget.

In some ways, the pricing contrasts make shopping at such events more fun, if a bit draining. Finding something you like or need at a reasonable price can be a real challenge. We didn't buy much, but our few vintages purchases were well earned in mileage, at least. We hoofed that festival from end to end.

One other interesting bit of contrast was evident in the landscape. Location, location, location. This particular antique fair is a big event, held at the same spot every year. SodaBoy had been once a few years ago with his parents, and always wanted to go back with me. In the meantime, a new wind farm was built in the rolling hills just north of the festival grounds. It was delightful to be engaged in a celebration of the old while dancing in the shadow of the new.

Click on the photo to see the wind turbines on the hills above the Antique Fest.