Monday, September 27, 2010

We interrupt "Notes from the road"

Middles Beach hosted the annual Corona Pro competition this weekend. It's the first time I've seen this event with actual waves. There are a number of local photographers who cover this event so I do something different: I photograph the event from my kite. Mostly I shoot beach and crowd shots rather than photographing the surfers themselves although there is one surfer shot in the set. You can see the best of the photos from this session on Flickr.

This was my first KAP (Kite Aerial Photography) session since July 4th. I felt very rusty. I picked the wrong kite for the conditions which lead to a lot of camera bounce and movement. My aiming skills were so-so. I don't use a video downlink like some KAPpers use to see what they are shooting. I prefer the surprises when I download the pictures at home. Still, with practice, you get a pretty good idea of what you're pointing out. I am way out of practice. That just means I need to get out and do it more.

I guess we missed some epic surf (and absolutely NO diving) while we were gone, courtesy of Hurricane Igor. Ah, well. There will be more surf and more competitions. We're gearing up to host two major international competition at the end of October. More about those as we get closer.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Notes from the road - Chihuly at Meijer Gardens

We heard Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was hosting an exhibit of works by glass artist Dale Chihuly. We've seen Chihuly's work before, at Meijer Gardens and elsewhere, and that became a "must-see" on our trip.

As we drove through driving rain, we wondered how much of the exhibit we'd be able to see. The "exhibit" is actually a series of installations of works around the garden and sculpture park grounds. It wasn't going to be a lot fun in the rain. Just before we got to Meijer Gardens the rain stopped and left us with a comfortable but cloudy afternoon.

One goal of Meijer Gardens "is to unite the art of humankind with the art of nature." This seems to be a passion of Chihuly as well. In 2002 Lisa C. Roberts wrote in the Portland Press:

"Imagine a garden of glass, planted under glass, nestled among lacy ferns, soaring palms, spiny cacti, and fruiting bananas. To see Dale Chihuly's magnificent artwork displayed amid the plant kingdom from which so many of his forms seem to emanate is to see both art and plants in a new light. Each reflects the other in a shimmery mix of tendrils, buds, and fronds. The fact that this dance takes place within the walls of a historic glasshouse makes it that much more resonant, as though someone had subverted the boundaries between the house and its leafy occupants.

"And why not? Conservatories are, after all, exquisitely crafted re-creations of natural environments. Introducing Chihuly's glasswork takes the manipulation to another level, one that aspires to stimulation, not simulation. It startles expectation, stretches the imagination, and provides a new way of experiencing both plants and art."

Roberts could have been writing about the Meijer Gardens installations as well. At Meijer Gardens however, the installations are both inside the conservatories but outside, placed in specific environments in the gardens and sculpture park. In these installations the hard, man-made glass seems to grow from the softer natural environment.

One of the wonderful things about sculpture is its existence in three-dimensional space. You can move around it, view it from different angles. Each new angle is a new experience. In the Chihuly installations, the space itself is part of the sculpture, not just a neutral background. Moving through the garden space around each sculpture changes not only your view of the sculpture but of its place in the landscape. Each new view is a surprise.

We took a whole bunch o' pictures of the Chihuly works. You can see the best of them on our Flickr page. The exhibit has been extended through October 31. If you are anywhere near the West Michigan area, go see it!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Notes from the road - Frank Mots International Kite Festival

The reason we started the trip in the first place was to perform at the Frank Mots International Kite Festival in Milwaukee. We've performed at this festival for a number of years. We are fortunate and very grateful event producer Scott Fisher invites us back each year. We LOVE Milwaukee! We posted several videos on youtube of our friends performing: iQuad, Fire and Ice, and Yves LaForest flying a huge 140-foot-long octopus. BTW, there is some loose talk about Yves and friends bringing their giant kites to a beach in Isabela in late 2011. We'll let you know.

There is on video of us flying as part of a megateam. Many of us fly Mamba kites built by Ken McNeil of Blue Moon Kites in North Carolina. Ken made an unexpected appearance at Mots and this megateam of 12 Mambas was formed to thank him. You can see a video of the mega team here. We're flying the yellow, red and black kites near the end.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Notes from the road - It's just not the same

We stopped for a beer at a little bar called "I-5's" beside a marina on Lake Erie. I mean, the place had a big sign that said "It's 5 o'clock somewhere." How bad could it be? Turns out, pretty bad. The decor mixed Caribbean - or more Key West, really - with bad tiki bar. And the metal palm trees just didn't fix our jones for the palm trees in our yard at home. But the beer - Landshark, no less - was cold and tasted good.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


We stopped at Bearden's on our quick trip across northern Ohio. Bearden's is the diner Elaine and her family went to when she was a kid. The Bearden's peanutbutter burger is the inspiration for the Ola Lola's peanutbutter burger. I finally got to taste the original.

I gotta say, as good as it was, Elaine's is better. Once again, she's taken a good thing and made it better. And because the peanutbutter burger is a little unusual, ours comes with a guarantee: if like peanutbutter and you don't like our peanutbutter burger, the peanutbutter burger is free and we'll buy you a different burger. With more than 250 peanutbutter burgers sold we've only had to honor that guarantee once (and we think the surfer was poor and hungry and wangleing for a free burger).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Herald of fall

What the...!?! This doesn't look like Puerto Rico!

It's not. This staghorn sumac in southern Michigan. We're wrapping up a quick trip to Ohio and Michigan to see family and friends after performing at a kite festival in Milwaukee last weekend.

Staghorn sumac is always one of the first trees to change color in the fall. Red staghorn sumac and cooler temps (it's 57 degrees and thunderstorming as I write this) are sure signs fall is here in southern Michigan.

That, and fresh Honey Crisp apples in the farm markets.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Happy belated birthday to my father. If he were still alive, he would have turned 86 on September 1. He always said his birthday was easy to remember: it was the same day World War II started. (Hitler and the Nazis invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.) We'll stick to celebrating the birthday.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Back after Earl

So between the preparation for Hurricane Earl and then two days of no electricity and then two more days without Internet after Earl brushed by us, we haven't had much chance to write about Earl.

Fortunately, Earl did in fact brush by us with tropical storm-force winds but nothing near the 140 mph Cat 4 winds he was packing. We had a little rain (very little for a hurricane) but nothing major. In fact it was much less than we'd actually prepared for. The biggest problem was the inconvenience of not having power (which usually also takes out our cell phone) and not having Internet. We were fine but didn't have anyway to let the rest of world know that.

The photo above is the waves pounding Shacks Beach taken Tuesday after Earl passed by Monday afternoon and night. If you look closely, you'll see the spray off the top of the wave is blowing west to east. For two days after Earl went by the winds blew backwards, that is, west to east. The east-to-west trade winds are so common here we all get a little crazy if the winds blow "backwards" for very long.

Earl did us another favor: he sucked a lot of the moisture and the energy out of the atmosphere so the next storm back, Fiona, was pretty much fizzle. Gaston, the storm behind Fiona, fizzled out also but looks like it may be reforming. We'll keep an eye on that one.

For now, it's a beautiful day in Bajuras. We're just going to enjoy that.