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A day to do with as I please

Posted by joeabbott on May 22, 2011

When the weekends come, I pretty much have run of the schedule. Take hikes, get in training excursions, do a little yard work, whatever. But yesterday had “bookends”.

P1020558I’d earlier mentioned Groupon, the “Internet social coupon” site … they focus more on “experiences” than, say, half off a box of macaroni and cheese … and Suzy regularly watches for the offerings. And I’d also mentioned blowing glass at the Renton Uptown Glassworks. Well, yesterday, in an outing the formed the first of the two bookends, we returned.

This was actually our third class at the Glassworks: on the first class on a “Cinco de Mayo” a few years back, we’d blown a chili pepper; a month ago around Easter time we blew eggs; and this time we blew “floats”. The floats are just decorative glass balls you can place into a pond or other body of water. We have a small fountain on the deck that might suffice, but we may just as well nestle them into some moss, at the base of a plant, or set with our other glass pieces.

As gifts or from various outings to craft and art fairs, we have a small sampling of glass objects decorating the yard: “flowers”, “blades”, and “curlies” make up the majority of the pieces. In addition to blowing our own float yesterday, our Groupon offer allowed us to pick out any three other items from an assortment of previously blown “backyard ornaments”. It was likely a play to reduce inventory, regardless, it was a good deal and we enjoyed the day.

P1020526At the Glassworks, we started out as we had in our other classes: picking our colors. And let me be blunt: I hate this part. I always choose “red”. I always have, always will. The whole “what goes well together” is lost on me. I can dress myself without extreme fear of embarrassment, but an absolute pall of apathy envelopes me when I have to choose color schemes. Most everything looks fine to me. Give me red, steer me to whatever complements it, and let’s get on.

Suzy knows this and so she did just that: encouraged me to get a red base and add in another color. “This one would look good” she offered. I think it was amber. Could have been silver. Yellow. Who knows. She was patient and helpful … and I’m sure it’ll look just fine. I am continually rewarded by her “good eye” for these things.

She then chose the colors for her float, we selected our straws/tubes for blowing, and it was time to meet up with Tom.

We’d seen Tom at Uptown Glassworks before; he had been singing a Marvin Gaye song the last time we entered the shop. He’s a gentle guy who doesn’t get pestered by questions, happy to throw open the doors to the mysteries of glassblowing for us (and even let me peek into both an active and an idle glass kiln), and he was our technician for this outing.

P1020542I sat first and while Tom scooped up some glass, added color, heated it up, added more color, and started shaping, I sat. On cue I blew into the straw and, to my extreme pleasure, Tom was up for helping us craft some nice, big glass floats. And during the blowing he kept up his end of the conversation and Suzy snapped pictures.

But soon enough, it was Suzy’s turn to sit and my turn to play paparazzi. I took advantage of the good nature of our hosts to pry into their doings, nose about the various parts of the shop, and look over the tools of their trade. It was a very enjoyable morning.

After we were done and I shook Tom’s hand, we headed over to the pre-made ornament table and chose our quota as allowed by the Groupon deal. A bit of bubble wrap and a box later, we were done and heading to the car.

Our original plan was to walk about Renton, poke into shops, and spend the day downtown. But the skies were grey and I stayed up too late (or got up too early) and I wasn’t feeling like idling about the empty streets of pre-noon Renton. And so we ran a few shopping errands and made our way home.

P1020590The “bookend” on the second half of the day didn’t happen until 7:30 PM.

Another Groupon offer we jumped on was to enjoy a symphony in our neck of the woods. A bit more explaining will help, I’m sure.

I love classical music. Baroque, to be exact. I have a terrible ear, can’t remember one composer from the next, and couldn’t name a piece to save my life. But I love it. A few years back, Suzanne and I got tickets to a baroque series at the Benaroya Hall here in Seattle. It was wonderful but our seats were crummy and I couldn’t justify the cost of becoming a patron. That was years back.

Fast forward to now and we find ourselves enjoying both the local Shakespeare in the park, as well as our 5th Avenue Theatre outings. So, when the Groupon offer came up, Suzy asked if I were interested. It’s not fair to say I “jumped on the offer” … I believe I was a milquetoast and said something like, “well, if you want to I’d join you”. After getting all cultured up with our recent visit to the theater, I wasn’t sure how much more refinement I could stand. But, for general seating ticket at $7 each, we grabbed the offer.

Now one of the errands we’d run earlier in the day was to see where a concert hall worthy of a “symphony” would be in our neck of the woods. The address led us to Foster High School and we exchanged dubious sideways glances. But we returned at 7 PM and upon walking in got mixed messages.

First, we saw “professional looking” musicians attired in black heading into the backstage doors, but we also saw a lot of youngsters and families I wouldn’t necessarily associate with fine art musical offerings. Then there was the odd assortments of homemade cookies, cupcakes and snacks laid out on a table with a handmade sign offering them for sale. Things didn’t look any better when we handed our Groupon tickets to the young lady at the door who turned to someone nearby and said, “what do I do with this?”

WP_000126But, we found our seats soon enough and I passed the time idling with my phone until the lights dimmed, avoiding yet more dubious sideways glances at Suzy.

And then the most gorgeous wave of sound lapped over me, washing away cares, concerns, and mean spirited thoughts. It was Enigma Variations, Opus 36 by Edward Elgar, and it was sublime. Subtle in all the right ways, it gently removed us from the day and for the next 2 hours we enjoyed a sampling of symphonic pieces from across a breadth of musical offerings.

We heard American Salute, Tritsch-Tratsch Polka, and Rhapsody in Blue over the evening, and several others.

The Rainier Symphony provided the music and the musical director, David Waltman, provided a lot of fun in his dialog with the audience. He was playful in joining in some of the pieces, made a clever allusion to the Boson-Higgs quantum particle (I’d like to see your director do that!), and shared tidbits of musical trivia and history with us. Mr. Waltman also showed a compassionate side when referring to the loss of one of their long-time members.

A month earlier, Bev Willison passed away and the concert was dedicated to her memory. Bev was a bassoonist and, as such, they gave the bassoon section extra attention, even having them sit at the front of the stage for several pieces.

There was a lot more and all of it was enjoyable. Yes, some of the younger audience members got restless but Suzanne and I will both agreed more concerts by the Rainier Symphony would be in our future.

And that was my Saturday. Unlike most others in what we did; like many others in that we did whatever we wished. And this weekend we wished well.


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