Monday, January 19, 2009

an interesting balance . . .

Since our move to Ohio, I have been in quite the creative mode. Sure, I made art before moving here, but mostly I made it at school as examples for the students to get motivated by. Here, I have been making ART and stretching myself in my creativity. It reminds me of my undergraduate days working on pieces, critiquing, and striving to create unique art that was different and refreshing. As well as making art to post here, on my school blog, on, and my NEW etsy acount, I have been dabbling in a little photography. Years ago I took a photography class back when we actually used film. Now, with my new digital EOS Cannon, I am able to take pictures and manipulate them in the GIMP program I downloaded from the interent. I worked on school yearbooks taking lots of pictures of people, but now I am interested in learning the art of capturing the portrait of someone that makes people cry. Here is my first attempt at family portraits. The Allens needed updated photos for their family album they display on the wall of the living room. I used a zom lens hoping to create an interesting balance between the clear focus of their faces, and the items in the background. For these shots I had them sit in the pew of the church they are pastoring and look back at me. Two great things occured for me as a photographer. One, the cross and some of the relics of the pulpit where blurred into the background. Two, the three stained windows that were behind me reflected in the children's eyes. I am still working trying to figure all the buttons out on this new camera, and the tools available on the software.

Friday, January 16, 2009

trick of the trade . . .

It's REALLY cold here now. -14 with a wind chill factor of 30 below. WOWSY!

A couple of new tricks of the trade and that I have learned when dealing with the cold weather.

1. Stack bales of straw around the base of your house to deter the weather from freezing your pipes.

2. Put a heat lamp, or a light bulb, on the well pump to keep it warm and working.

3. Take the drier hose off, blow out the lint, turn the dryer on to warm up the washing machine pipes when they freeze.

And most importantly

4. Don't try to spray paint anything . . . the paint only sprays out like GODZILLA spewing a stream of fire. :)

It is so cold that Wednesday our school let out early and was canceled Thursday and today. Monday is a recognized holiday so that makes a five (5) day mini-winter holiday for me. Makes me want to shout out some "it's so cold" jokes.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

get through the crowds . . .

My brother made the boys two gun racks for Christmas to house the GUNS I BOUGHT. You bought WHAT you ask? Yup, I bought me some guns. And that is plural. Not just one.

WOW, what an experience I had at the gun show. It is a whole new world of people that I really never thought I would be rubbing elbows with. We (Weihrocky and his older boys, and Patrick and one of his sons) went last Saturday to the gun show in Allen county. The have the gun show the first weekend of the month around here. I was actually planning to go to the one in December but had a conflicting schedule with looking at houses. So, we decided to make it for the January show.

We got there around 9:30 am and the parking lot at the fair grounds was packed! We proceeded to get in line to pay our entrance fee, and after we secured that we would be able to look at all the weapons everyone brought, everyone just followed the leader around, up and down the isles looking at all the guns, knives, pistols, and hunting gear that was on display for sale. Having lived in Los Angeles for years and dealing with large crowds of people, I broke rank and scanned the the whole room to find the traffic pattern. Asher, Nolan and I used our big city navigation to get through the crowds and find what we were looking for. We were there for two things. A 20 gauge shotgon, and a 22 caliber semi-automatic rifle. The men that went with us went mostly to look, and to sell a couple of guns, but to help me find the right guns to buy. They were REALLY helpful in that I know nothing about guns and would not know which ones that were right for us. Worked out that I got exactly what I wanted, for a fair price, and am really happy about our choices. In fact, twelve people offered to buy the rifle from me as I walked around the gun show with it. On Sunday Steve helped us "scope it in" and we spent the afternoon shooting. I really had more fun than I planned!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

making guests at ease . . .

Before, and at the early part of our marriage, Ildi and I both worked in the restaurant business as service staff. Waiting tables and working with the public to meet their food and beverage needs. (it is a job that each person should experience for a least two years; compulsory service to one's country:) Ildi worked at both Mimi's Cafe and the Olive Garden, and I worked at the Olive Garden and the Claim Jumper. All places we worked ran differently as companies, and all prepared us to work hard and develop a sense of "hustle" while we worked. In fact, in several conversations we have had since our "slinging hash" days, we recognized that those experiences we had while serving in that business has helped prepare us for parenting, hosting, and for life. In many ways it has also helped me to see the larger picture and to work more efficiently in the classroom as well. In today's post, I want to share a practical practice at our home that has drawn on those experiences and has become a standard way of of providing for people who come to our home.

When you go to a restaurant, invariable you are greeted, seated, and for the most part, taken care of. The same thing should apply when people enter your home. I find it makes people at ease when you greet them, welcome them, and then TELL them what you want them to do. Most of the time people greet and welcome visitors alright, but then there is the awkward time of a few minutes while the guest navigates what he or she must do based on hints from the host. They stand, sit, or follow the host around getting clues along the way as to what to do with themselves. Instead, what we do is to explicitly tell our guest what we want them to do. The sooner the better. For example, if you are finished with all the work in preparation for your guests, say something like "let's go sit and talk for a bit" and then give them a choice of places to sit. "You can sit either here or there" pointing to the places you would like them to chose from. It might seem like you are bossing them around, but remember your visits and how comfortable it feels when the host tells you what to do. Nothing is left for you to navigate through. It's easy just to follow the directions. In addition, it is also good to get them something to drink right away. Not because they come to your house parched and are expecting to get refreshed by entering your home, but when they are thirsty, they will already have something waiting on them to drink. What we usually do is give them another choice. "Would you like coffee or water to drink?" as an example. We assume that they will have one or the other. We never ask them IF they want something to drink. Why? Because they always say "No" to be polite! So we just assume, and give them the choice. If they say they want nothing to drink, again being polite, we just give them a glass of water. Always.