Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Wild Ride

Hello everybody - This story stands on its own... Enjoy! Dave *********************************************************************************************** A business trip from a gracious employer and it was off to New Orleans. It was his effort to get the entire team together in one spot to evaluate the past year and prepare for the next. Once the group dinner was over it was out into the mayhem of Bourbon Street. A crowd of about twenty of us wandered into a little country bar. Clever as the name was, “Bourbon Cowboy” this place was really kicking with upbeat country music that made you want to be inside. Inside the center piece was a mechanical bull. Made famous (for me) many years ago by films like Urban Cowboy and Bars like Gilley’s in Houston – This was a temptation that I could not pass up. A small line had formed to purchase the 5 dollar ticket and sign a waiver of liability. Long ago I heard that riding this kind of bull had more to do with the skill of the operator than that of the rider. Although a real bull may be unpredictable (and a lot more dangerous) it just knows that you are on its back and are intending to stay there …. The bull operator has a whole different perspective. He can see exactly what’s going on and make adjustments against you. First person to ride from our group was Eric. A strapping Marine, he removed his shoes and stepped up the mechanical beast. Saddle hopping himself onto the top, Eric looked confident. Then the bull started moving. Within seconds the bull went into convulsions flying abruptly left, down, right and up all at the same time. Eric was quickly hung up on the bull, not really riding him, but more flung forward in what the Pro Bull Riders call “Kissing the bull”, meaning that his face has met the bulls back. In layman speak, he was holding on for dear life. Eric got 3 rides with each ending with the operator violently shaking the bull till Eric was dispatched back to the floor in a heap Watching as I paid my entry fee I was doing my very best to cowboy up and remembering every vision of rodeo bull riding that I had ever seen, I quickly decided on a strategy. Shoes off, hopping aboard – I straddled the bull. Its back was slick with no way to hold on except for the large knotted bull rope protruding from its center. One hand in the air, I gave the operator a nod of pseudo confidence indicating I was ready. The Bull quickly fell forward and I leaned back trying to keep my center of gravity, in an effort to emulate a real bull rider. Then a sudden shift left with an equally sudden swing to the right I began to lose my grip. My body’s momentum was still headed left when the bull raised its head enabling me to regain and then lose it again just as quickly with the next abrupt movement. This was a Fighting Bull, you know, the kind of bull that you would like to give your mother-in-law. The room seemed to be spinning, but it was me. With a primal yell of excitement I was expelled face first into the mat on the floor. Feeling more like a rodeo clown than a cowboy, I climbed back on. 3 times. The rides were all similar in that although I put up an honest effort they were all destined to end the same way. Bull: 3, Rider: 0 As I walked out of the riding pit, thrilled and exhausted… the laughing voices of my friends buzzing saying that I had done well and that all that yoga must have made me flexible enough to stay on the bull. I just smiled, knowing that the real skill in riding this bull was in paying the operator twenty dollars to ensure I had a good ride.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Home Base

Writing is a hobby with me... and I find that the more involved with a subject, the more fun I have writing about it.... This column was one of the first that I had been given an "assignment". This assignment was to write about "Fredericksburg Architechture". I happen to know that the architecture in this town is fantastic. all of the elaborate detail that is in the trim work of the the Civil War era buildings is beautiful and frequently the subject of my paintings. ... But incoroporating that into the overall subject matter of my regular column, not so easy. So, in my preferred method of 'doing it my way'... I took a different tact and tried to tie architecture to some of my other hobbies... I hope you enjoy, Dave ***************************************************************************************** “Fredericksburg Architecture”. Using some free association, the subject made me think about the economic issues that the housing market helped create, which in turn makes me think about some recent decisions I’ve made regarding my own home. First you should know that I'm in a home that is way too big for me. I had been considering a move to a smaller place, but with this economic mess, I cannot. Facing facts, with the falling home prices I'm going to have to wait things out in order for there to be any good come of this. The decision I’ve made is to actually live in the space that I heat. No, this doesn’t mean that I close doors and vents in rooms that I'm not using; it means that I am spreading out. I'm making better use of the space I have and focusing on what is important to me. In some cases, that translates to separating my toys and gadgets. As an example, I’ve separated the Audio / Visual components into two separate rooms. With the help of Raven Hi-Fi, I have set up a music listening room on the main floor where I spend most of my time. Their custom approach in matching the room with the right components allow me to get three times the enjoyment out of the room, using music that I already owned. The older yet functioning surround sound system and television, along with the large furniture that houses it was moved to the basement. Movies and ball games are focus of this area of that are and it seemed to fit so much better. Also in the basement I have set up some space for my guitars and PA system. It’s a small stage like space for me to practice and to fantasize about performing in a large venue with crowds cheering. Mostly though, my son and I ‘plug in’ and play music together. Upstairs, I have chosen the sunniest room in the house to use as a studio for my painting. Past projects hang on the walls along with current works in various states of completion. The photos from which the pieces originated and some enlarged prints hang close by. They make excellent reminders of the creative process, and how much enjoyment I get from capturing the subject of a painting in a single image and then translating that onto the canvas. Tubes of paint, brushes and various paint spatulas are strewn across the workspace in close proximity to the project that they were last used. Although not completely disorderly, too many rules or an overly organized approach would ruin the feeling of creativity this room needs. It is the garage that I would miss the most if I were to move. It would be no problem to find living space for my dog and I, but the toys... Where would I store the toys?? With the exception of the motorcycle which holds court in the center of this two ‘car’ space, my garage does not house my vehicles. The walls are lined with paint ball equipment, snowboards and other gear like my mountain bike. As I open the door, my back pack calls me back to the trail and the kayaks remind me of last July’s adventure on the Rappahannock. Looking at the gear also provides some anticipation of the year to come. In writing this, I realize that my home has become a base of operations that is suited just to me and that it may not be too big after all. In fact, with a few more hobbies and I may need t o consider upsizing.