Saturday, May 17, 2008

Finished Objects

I haven't blogged for the past week. Well, if you click to "embiggen" the smallish photo below, maybe you can see why. This was last Sunday.

I haven't felt quite right all week.

This is Saturday and David is off in Arizona visiting his mother. They have a good relationship and I think it's great he's able to visit her. So I have spent much of this afternoon finishing the socks you see in the above photo. I've also blogged a bit about them already.

I still have a fair amount of yarn left but the tops are 6.5 inches long and I needed the needle.

The needle is a US 2 and I'm knitting "Francie" socks. Starting to knit them, that is. I read about them on Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's blog and became quite intrigued. Usually I don't knit complex socks. A simple k2, p2 is complicated enough, but these just spoke to me.

I'll take photos as soon as there's something to take photos of.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Quartets and Choruses

Friday night, May 2, was the 2008 Land O' Lakes District International Quartet Semi-Finals. 14 quartets competed and 6 made it to the finals on Saturday evening. The event was hosted by the La Crosse Coulee Chordsmen chorus and took place in West Salem, Wisconsin. The event was well-run and the only hitch was when 2 of the judges, coming through Chicago, were held up by weather.

On Saturday morning (if you can call 11:30 a.m. morning) there were 10 choruses competing. The Southwest and 10,000 Lakes Divisions were represented. I was most interested in the 10,000 Lakes Division because the Great Northern Union (GNU) is a part of that group, as is the Minneapolis chorus, the Commodores.

GNU came in with 1009 points, the Commodores with 906. In all there were 4 choruses that qualified for the fall District contest. Winning then gets them into the International competition in 2009.

Saturday night 6 quartets from Friday night competed a second time. After Midnight, Vocality, and Main Street Station all got enough points to qualify for the International Quartet Contest in July.

Unfortunately, no photos of the contests themselves.

Betty and I went over to Lumber-Jack's Saloon in the Stoney Creek Inn after the contest winners and point spreads were announced.

This is Vocality. Jay, Tony, Bob, and Dave really know how to put on a show.

Main Street Station has Matt, Colin, Patrick, and Steve. Nice guys and we were so lucky to get front-row seats.

Gold Rush is always fun. Their web address is
Steve, Cleon, Steve, and Steve. One of the Steves is a twin. He sings bass and his brother Rick sings baritone.

Have you noticed that the photos are a bit blurry? They're singing and moving around and basically hamming it up.

This is After Midnight, my personal favorite (at least for the moment). When you click this link, after a moment or two, you get to hear them singing. I'm currently listening to "Linda." Tom, David, Jim, and Steve.

I confess I put my camera on video for one of After Midnight's songs. It's lovely. I hesitate to put it on the web because of copyright stuff and because I don't have their permission.

Subhead: Socks on Tour

This is Dave and Julie being kind enough to make friends with my "traveling socks." They often ride their GoldWing motorcycle, but because of the cold and rain, decided to drive a real car instead. We've run into them several times over the years.

And of course, there's John. Betty and I had dinner with him in Winnipeg a year ago because his wife wasn't able to come to the contest with him. Very nice fellow. And he's nice to socks, too.

Main Street Station was willing to hold my socks, too. They seemed to be quite amused by the whole idea.

After Midnight seemed befuddled at first, too, but willing to humor the old lady. Thanks everyone for showing my socks a good time. I'll wear them to the fall contest in Appleton, WI.

Needless to say, a good time was had. Right Betty?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Friday Night in Wisconsin at the Quartet Competition

Here we are in West Salem, Wisconsin. This is the "lake" of water Betty and I had to ford to get to the building only to find we were too early to register and pick up our tickets for the weekend's festivities. Because I took this photo with my cell phone, it's hard to see but there was an inch of standing water everywhere, deeper in some places and the rain splashed a couple inches high. I was wet to the knees because I don't use umbrellas but just a raincoat. Usually that's quite enough but a golf umbrella would have been a better choice.

Anyway, the last couple years we've been going to these events (it's been around 12-13 years altogether), we've felt a little cramped sitting close together, rubbing shoulders with other barbershop fans and trying to knit and/or tat. So last fall, we decided to pay for an extra seat. Since we needed a name, we chose "Lacey Purl"; Lacey because Betty makes lace (I have too but find it tedious when all I really want to do is zone out), and Purl because I enjoy doing the purl stitch when I knit.

Here we're showing my "traveling socks" the stage. Nobody is allowed to take photos during the contest so this is the sum total of the photos I took (that came out anyway) inside the auditorium. I'm nearly done with these. Click here for a closer look at the yarn.

There's much more of the weekend to see but I'm not going to try to put it all up at once.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

National Eagle Center

On the way to the Spring Barbershop Harmony Society Contest, Betty and I stopped in Wabasha, MN, to visit the National Eagle Center. It was a great place to stop on a rather cold, very rainy spring day. The facility is relatively new and has a number of interesting exhibits that explain about how eagles live.

This is Donald, a golden eagle. All the eagles at the center were birds with injuries that keep them from being released back into the wild.
In a room surrounded by vintage U.S. flags was this sterling silver eagle sculpture by A. Gianelli. The stripes you see on it are reflections from the flags.
We got to hear this gentleman talk about eagles. We learned that even one tiny piece of lead buckshot can kill an eagle within 5-6 days because their digestive tracts will completely dissolve it.

Did you know they exert over 400 pounds per square inch pressure with each talon? Betty and I each managed almost 20 pounds on their grip tester and thought that was pretty good but it's nothing to what an eagle can do.

Eagles weigh about 10 pounds on average and can lift about a third of their weight. They don't use muscles to hang on to the fish they catch in the Mississippi river. Their tendons, once their talons wrap around their meal, lock into place. So if they grab a fish that's too big, it's difficult for their pea-sized brains to understand that even though it's their dinner they've got, if they don't let go, they'll drown. The people at the Eagle Center tell fishermen if they see an eagle go into the water, they should carefully scoop them up in their fishing net, move to shore with them, and then just let the bird walk out of the net. DO NOT, under any circumstances, use your hands to "help" the eagle. They have their dinner, and you could add to their protein intake.

This is Columbia, named after an astronaut visited the center. She's just finished a meal of fish and other raw meat.
After we left the Eagle Center, Betty and I drove on to West Salem, Wisconsin, to the Friday night quartet contest. I'll blog further on the weekend's events later.