Band Members' Individual Blog Pages and other great links:

Friday, December 30, 2011

Welcome CRAIG!!!

I want to give a formal welcome to IR's new drummer, Craig Tomanini.
Craigs' a great musician, and a great guy. His solid, powerful presence will be seen, heard, and felt soon in upcoming IR performances.
For now we are enjoying inoculating... initiating... inculcating... our new IR brother on the plethora of originals and cover songs... do we actually have a plethora? Isn't that a musical instrument? (I think that's what Jimmy Page was playing on "Whole Lotta Love"...!)
Be sure to come check us out in the new year... you won't be disappointed!!!

Craig's IR Blog

Monday, December 12, 2011

Toni's Blank Slate (A Gardener's Tabula Rasa!)

I have a blank slate. It is a small back yard that I hope to turn into a garden next spring.

Like any normal person, I pulled out the tape measurer and took detailed measurements, along with photographs of all possible growing areas. These steps were followed by digging into my office supplies to find graph paper, determining the dimensions of cinderblocks, using the info to cut out paper blocks (to scale), and using those to prepare a variety of diagrams to determine the most efficient design that will yield the most plants/veggies. Here is what I came up with:

In the midst of all this, I also made a list of heirloom vegetables with notations on numbers of plants I could grow per square foot, which can be frozen, canned, besides being eaten fresh. With that info, I determined how many square feet I need to plant the vegetables I wanted, including room for flowers and herbs. This number I used to determine the most efficient layout of the garden.

Wait . . . Did I actually start this blog with the phrase “like any normal person”?? Disturbing as it sounds, the above is exactly what happened and exactly how I started my last garden. It was not (blessedly) how my garden at the Estes house actually came together.

Scotte and I have moved into our third house. I ‘designed’ gardens in both of our prior homes. The first garden started a little at a time until after 15 years, it had entirely overtaken the horse-shoe shaped, leaving only a narrow pathway for our poor dog to get to a small side yard.

The second garden was much the same. Starting with four 8x4 foot raised beds, this simple plan expanded until my garden encompassed an area approximately 60 x 120 feet. But, again, this did not happen in one season; the garden grew over a ten year period (and there were still areas unfinished when we moved out).

Despite my best intentions and OCD tendencies, in the end my gardens have come into being organically. One or two beds are dug and planted, and then as objects become available (I should be a crow for all my scavenging), beds of all shapes, sizes, and materials seem to sprout up all over the place. The end result is part aesthetic design, part Darwinian experiment (let’s see if this will grow here, or here, or here), and part accident—like life.

If history is destined to repeat itself, I anticipate my new garden will come into being much the same as my old ones have. I try to throw away the graph paper and start with one or two beds in the most prime location of the yard. We’ll see if I can muster that much self-control.

I’ll post pictures and updates as the garden takes shape.

Wishing you bountiful growth and only beneficial bugs.


Are all these your guitars?!?

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In the old days days, I used to have a wife to tell me how many instruments I ought to have and where to store them among other things. Not having these restraints imposed (Galynn is much too cool for that!) has had the effect of doubling my guitar collection. None of them are fancy or very expensive but they have been multiplying and inhabiting ever increasing real estate in our home.

In the last few years, the kids have been pursuing their own musical ambitions and in doing so have purchased a few instruments of their own. Now we have guitars in nearly every room in the house including our "music room" where you are likely to find 5-8 guitars scattered around the piano at any given moment.

One day last week we were all sitting in our pile of guitars in the music room discussing weird tunings or the "spider chord" or something when the sheer magnitude of of our massive pile really struck us. The question soon came up: How many guitars do we actually have?

We called for a full muster: All guitars on deck. All strings would be counted.

After an exhaustive search of all rooms, closets and stray cases here is the final stats:
15 total stringed instruments with necks including:
6 acoustics, 5 hard body electrics, 2 hollow-bodies, and 1 each bass and mandolin.
We counted 90 total strings then caught ourselves in time before counting all the frets. Then we realized not all of our instruments were even in the house. Three were being stored over at mom's house.

Our picture is also filled with hidden guitars throughout as little toys or held by statuettes and even in the pics on the wall. The grand total number of guitars in the picture, therefore, cannot be fully computed without a team of dedicated counting professionals and right now all of mine are playing music.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Some People's Kids

“Mr. Burns, know what?” Megan, a first grader in an uncustomary, yet very pretty and loud floral dress, swayed as she passed this common six year-old poser on to me while I surveyed the playground.

"No, I don't believe that I do. Tell me."

"My Mom made me wear this dress today, 'cause we was having pitchers taken." She held the thing by the hem along the bottom as she leaned this way and that, as if it might become wings at any moment that she would need to control. "I don't like wearing dresses, 'cause I can't climb the monkey bars. They’re dumb. My Mom makes me mad sometimes, Mr. Burns. I wanna wear jeans, but Mom says pitchers have to have dresses."

Dismissing the mental picture of Major League stars throwing fastballs in their pinstriped midis that Megan's Mom made them wear, I noticed her Hawaiian Punch-stained hands occasionally dropping between them a little brass token.

"You should keep your money in your pack or pockets, sweetie. The gravel out here eats kid-money, and almost never says thank you, or gives it back." I suggested with a grin.

"This is my lucky penny." She stopped and inspected it before handing it to me for my approval of its luckiness.

"It's very nice." I said. "Does it always bring you good luck?”

"Yes." Megan sighed as I handed it back to her. "With everything but my Mom."

I am blessed with these little exchanges hundreds of times a day in my capacity as a sixth grade teacher, and especially during playground duty at my school. The expressions of wonder, the surprises, and the everyday joys that burst forth from our kids are a continual source of amusement to me. They are also a source of strength, an exercise in character building, (for all of us), and proof to me of the existence of the Divine. After all, wonder is in many respects illogical, so the intellect by itself must deny the chuckles of God that I hear in classrooms and on foursquare courts. But by the same token, logically, no mortal needs to possess the gifts of humor or laughter, so they must have a deeper meaning. What objective purpose is served by lumps in the throat caused by hugs from newly band-aided eight year-olds, who are not as hurt or afraid because I was there at the right moment? How is it that things can be so much more wonderful when seen from three feet off the ground as opposed to six? No, a few inspired hugs, amazing stories, and inexplicable chuckles from my kids are all the evidence I need that angels fly over the playground and in the halls. They peek out from behind smiles still graced by a little bit of Mrs. Sellar's school lunches, forming them into sticky kisses blown, fantastic questions asked with secret grins, and tearful requests for me to go on the roof after another ball.

Though I have heard that "children are the future," that they are "our most precious resource" or that we should "believe the children," and I certainly agree to a point, I often sense that those muttering these little niceties don't spend as much time around kids as they do atop soapboxes. This accounts for an often-calculating reduction of kids to time, material, or subject matter in an attempt to sound grown-up. Kids are, above all else, just people. People who have not been around so long that they have forgotten that bugs are cool, that you only share your gum with somebody you know really, really well, and that sometimes gas is funny. Especially if coming from a properly embarrassed adult.

All this said, it is sometimes difficult to understand how to deal with kids and the various and sundry challenges that their education presents. How does one encourage, instruct, lead, or appropriately give affection to the children of others? How does one discipline them? How does one go about dealing with the parents of those in one’s charge following such activities? How in the world can all this be done without divine assistance or an advanced college degree? It is usually at such times that we are reminded how we each share the former, and the latter may come in time, if we find it's important. We’re never that old.

Meanwhile, there is fresh paint in the school. The stuff is everywhere. Having spent much of a recent summer at school putting it there, I think I know where it all is. Funny thing, much of it cannot be seen right away, because it was tucked away in little corners where no one looks unless they are painting, looking for stray supplies, or cleaning out cobwebs. I don't know why, but I kind of like the idea of it being found sometime, and the explorer commenting, "Gee, it even got painted back here." So many of the things that are done around the place are like that - going into the corners of lives without being noticed right away. I am glad to keep the tradition alive with something as simple as white latex.

Summer is gone for now, but for my own part, I always welcome my return to the land of Band-Aids, chalk dust, clinic occasional referrals, recess detentions, six-foot-guy jump rope attempts with four-foot girls, and my daily doses of "Know what, Mr. Burns?" I am curious to see how the kids have grown and what the year holds in store for us. I promise not to voice any of those stupid grown-up end-of-summer comments and questions I hated when I was a kid. "Did you have a nice summer?" for one. After all, that's what kids do. They have nice summers. Asking this is like asking your puppy if he had a nice bowl of steak scraps.
Less severe, yet also to be avoided are: "So, are you looking forward to school?” "Oh, you've grown, I didn't recognize you," (even if it's true), and never, ever any reference to how soon it will be now before boys actually like girl cooties, and vice versa. Much of maintaining good communication with kids is based on what you do not say. Grown-ups, too. Isn't that odd?

Oh, there you are Megan. I almost didn’t recognize...(Oops). What a great hugger you are. Those are wonderful new jeans your Mom got you for school! Welcome back.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Burn the Ships - Illustrated by NC Wyeth?

I made an amazing discovery while doing some research for a series of paintings I'm working on. The cover illustration for our CD Burn the Ships was also done by famous illustrator N.C. Wyeth!

Who knew?

Hm... let's look at them side-by-side:

Then I discovered something even more amazing... if you look closely at the CD cover, you can see three figures on the hill in the distance; and, if you look closely at the Wyeth illustration, you can see four figures standing just by the trees in the distance below.

It's true. You can see 'em right there.

(I guess the crew was divided on whether or not the burning of ships was, in fact, a good idea. )

In all honesty, I had NO idea that I was creating a landscape that interlocked perfectly with the scene in the Wyeth piece. Up until now, I had never even seen this particular illustration.
That just goes to show what a powerful influence Wyeth and Howard Pyle had on me as an artist, from a very young age!

What a bizarre coincidence! Perhaps there's even a Burn the Ships graphic novel, or comic book out there too!