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Entries in Art Fair (9)


Last week

If you think I'm only having trouble keeping up with the blog, you should probably see the unchecked list of chores and the piles of books, papers, and other items collecting on tables, steps, the floor, and even chairs. It's a shameful confession, but true. I haven't written in our daily homeschool log in two weeks, and Calvin's budget sheet has been equally neglected. At least the library books are not overdue, the gardens are watered, and we do have clean underwear. Priorities.

So what happened last week? Last week was hot. We had our air on for two more days that reached into the triple digits, and nights that barely dropped into the seventies. We kept our cool by working at the library, reading a lot inside, and playing in the water. It has been over two weeks since we have had any rain worth mentioning. Our average rainfall for July is 3.67 inches, and to date we have had a total of .77 inches, the large majority of which fell in the first week. I'm battling to keep the gardens alive, and the rain barrels aren't exactly helping much.

Calvin had daily "jump start" swim lessons all week as a supplement to his weekly lesson. He takes weekly lessons at a local swim school with a comfortably warm indoor pool and enthusiastic, joyful young teachers. The lessons are limited to four students per teacher, and they are never-ending, so kids just move up to the next level whenever they are ready and keep going from there. I do admit to feeling a little guilty, though, or maybe just nostalgic, in taking him to indoor summer swim lessons when I remember so fondly the weeks of rising early to take lessons in the chilly outdoor public pool when I was little. I had to walk uphill both ways to school, too.

It was Art Fair week. The Ann Arbor Art Fairs are quite a production, and most locals try to get out of dodge for the week, but I have always enjoyed the crowd and the festive spirit. Jon's family has a tradition of spending the opening day walking the fairs and we have always joined them, so while this was unfortunately the first year that Jon could not take the time away from work, Calvin and I had a great time seeing everyone and perusing the art. Calvin was particularly drawn to a booth of nude photography, a booth of plaster and stone reliefs, and a booth of metal sculptures. He spoke well with a number of artists, and enjoyed a fair favorite—fresh squeezed lemonade. Jon and I went back on Saturday so he at least got a chance to go and look around. But even the Art Fairs didn't bring any rain worth mentioning.

Probably the highlight of the week is Calvin's new, very own Magic Tree House, built for him by Jon's dad, as imagined by his mom, in a tree at their house. A real, honest-to-goodness, awesome as all get-out tree house. I'm a little jealous. Calvin, of course, loves it, and had a marvelous time spending all afternoon in it. He especially loved the sweeping and upkeep, so why, I ask you, is our own house so messy?

And lastly, we spent yesterday morning cooling off at the lake, where Calvin practiced his swimming and played at splashing his father for a good couple of hours. This year especially I'm feeling lucky to live so close to a small public lake and beach.

Which brings us to this week. We have just three more weeks before we'll be on our final summer vacation, which I figure is just about enough time to catch up on everything and get back into a routine so that I can lose a whole bunch of ground again by leaving. But at least it's been fun.


Art Fairs

At nearly ninety degrees, sunny, and brutally humid we saw no reason to shirk our annual opening day duty to the Art Fair. Contrary to general local feelings we look forward to this week all the rest of the year, to our chance to catch up with extended family members who always gather on this day to peruse the art and share in good meals. According to the (supposed) Ann Arbor newspaper, artist attendance is up this year, and, in spite of the heat, the crowds were, well, crowded.

Bright blue skies and wispy clouds were beautiful, but hot.

Interactive art with a somewhat cooling side effect.

Carefully placed, clearly marked, and easily accessed city water, both with fountains and a tap for refilling your own bottle, makes disposable bottles of water unnecessary and is an important step towards the Fair's ultimate zero waste goal.

Rather large and elaborate pinwheels or weather vanes that we always enjoy while waiting to be seated for lunch.

Following directions is not somebody's strong point.

Playing at lunch with his new hopper and box cars.

Mr. B's traveling piano.

I guess there were fewer pictures this year, but the rest of them are in the July 2010 folder.


Townie Party

Look at me journaling in real time. Unbelievable! With the Art Fairs looming just around the proverbial corner the Townie Party was here again and so, being the lifelong townies that we are, we attended. Six years ago we attended the very first Townie Party which consisted, we think we remember correctly, of a few craft booths for the kids, some live music, and maybe an ice cream vendor, all comfortably housed on the part of Ingalls Mall between the alumni building, the MLB, the fountain, and Washington. I don't remember any streets being closed.

We went again right after Calvin was born when it was in its third year and I remember it being only modestly bigger and we hadn't been back since, so you can imagine our surprise upon turning onto North University and finding the street closed and lined with tents while the entirety of Ingalls Mall between North U and Washington was swarming with people, vendors, and art. In its sixth year the Townie Party has really come into its own.

We walked by all the food vendors at first (a very difficult thing to do with Tios staring us right in the eye) and strolled through the Mall meeting with local businesses, politicians, and art councils along the way; the Boy Choir of Ann Arbor and Wild Swan were there, to name two of our favorites, and we also ran into some of our favorite musicians and friends from our more involved (read: pre-baby) years. We also spent some time chatting with the Dexter Chamber of Commerce (after which they dubbed us "that Dexter Family" and referred to us as such whenever we passed them again, a nice compliment to the older couple on my morning run route who has dubbed me "the Dexter girl" after seeing me run into town so often). The space which used to be the whole of the fair was dedicated to the display and sale of school-aged kids' artwork, row after row of booths that ranged from the over-indulgent to the surprisingly talented, all of which was really overpriced (it wouldn't be an Art Fair if it wasn't, would it now).

Calvin's favorite part, as I'm sure you can tell from the pictures, was the craft booth, which has been an integral part of the Party since its inception six years ago. He also collected a number of stickers from the row of obliging businesses and institutions along our way back to the Tios tent for dinner, which we ate while sitting on the steps of Hill Auditorium. In some ways it was like returning home (to campus, that is), and there was something very special about dinner at the foot of the giant from our past. Other than the music, which was painfully too loud and thankfully closer to the beer garden than to Hill, the Townie Party receives an A+ from us.


Death, taxes, and rain during Art Fair

Art Fair opening day.  It's been a tradition in Jon's family for many years, and has been part of my life as well for all of the eight years that I've known him.  Sure, lots of locals avoid the Art Fair like the plague, but we run straight for it the day it arrives.  For us it's a chance to spend time with family that we see, well, once every July.  It's also an excuse to gorge ourselves on pizza (during the annual Cottage Inn lunch) and to window (or tent) shop our way through art we can appreciate but can't afford.  This year we were fortunate enough to snag the entire day to spend traversing the many corridors of varying artistic abilities, tactile, visual, and auditory.  It's always fun to look for artists you've seen in years past, and also to recognize new booths and new talents.  Strangely enough it wasn't ninety degrees this year, and it didn't rain buckets, either.  Instead we enjoyed coolish temperatures, a mostly cloud covered sun, and, except for a five minute downpour in the afternoon, an incredibly dry day.  Unfortunately, a combination of the economy and the forecast of scattered thunderstorms kept the crowds to a relatively minimum–good for us, not so much for the artists–and there were far fewer people wading their way through the crowds carrying unwieldy bundles of unique purchases (the upside of which is the lessened risk of having your eye poked out by someone's art on a stick).  But even if there were fewer eye catching (or eye threatening) moments in the crowd, there were certainly several stand outs punctuating our enjoyment of the day:  the Michael Jackson impersonator was a particular favorite of Calvin's (and maybe all of ours); Calvin and Auntie Rite's performance of an MJ rain dance for the fifty or so people gathered under the LS&A overhang during the short downpour; the ludicrous, but enjoyable, entertainment at the corner of William and State in the form of dancing pizza, water, banana, and carrot.  There were some more serious stand outs, too, like the beautiful 8 car wooden train that Calvin came home with (thanks to his doting grandparents), our group's gorgeous jewelry purchases (also a yearly tradition), the bronzed rabbit with the huge ears (that we did not purchase), and the magnificent purple wood we kept seeing everywhere (made from the purple heart tree–we learn something new every year).  And that about sums up our 2009 Art Fair experience.


Another year, another fair

Well, the Ann Arbor Art Fairs are here again.  While many townies might boast of AnotherYearAnotherFair4.jpgavoiding the insanity at all costs, or even of pointedly leaving town on that same week every year, we have a tradition of attending the first day of the festivities, rain or shine.  This is a tradition we come by honestly, one that was passed to Jon through his family and his family's family.  Though the size of the group has dwindled over the years (the first year I attended the shindig we were upwards of 15 people  for lunch in the basement of the AnotherYearAnotherFair1.jpgCottage Inn on campus, this year we were only 9), its persistence has not.  Calvin's day was made in the shade.  His Gram dropped us off one block away from the annual rendezvous lunch spot, and after he'd enjoyed a fantastic pizza lunch to the tune of so many people loving him up, she picked him up again to take him home for an air conditioned nap while we stayed behind to make our way through the crowds like AnotherYearAnotherFair5.jpgdriven cattle.  In ninety degree heat we perused booth after booth, each coming away with our own treasures - jewelry for some, posters or shirts for others, or items snatched off the sidewalk sale tables that businesses lucky enough to abut the thoroughfares set out.  Most of the art we truly enjoy, we truly cannot afford.  Before Calvin was born we bought ourselves two pieces of actual fair artwork, both of which keep prominent places in our home, AnotherYearAnotherFair3.jpgbut now if we stop to look at anything with the intention of bringing it home it's more family oriented (we're partial to wooden toys and to kitchen items).  And, thanks to shopping under grandparental influence, Calvin came away with two Art Fair pieces this year - a wooden tractor and a reading tent - all while sleeping comfortably in a cooler clime.  That's as many pieces as we have to show for all of our years of tradition.  Lucky boy.