Masonry Men

Last summer I helped my friend Mark build a pizza oven on his farm in Illinois.  It was operational when he left in the fall, but still needed to have the stucco applied to complete the job.  When he returned from Sydney this spring (where he lives much of the year with his wife Nicole) we decided to work on the base coat together, and he would apply the finish coat on his own.

We chose the hottest day of the year so far, pushing 100 degrees.  The plan was to have dinner, spend the night, and work early the next day before it got too hot.

Their garden is starting to produce, so much of the meal came from there.  We started with a sparkling rosé wine from the Loire valley, which was a treat.

There followed a frito misto of herbs and vegetables, including stuffed zucchini blossoms.  Nicole would say stuffed courgette blossoms.  There were beans, peas, dill, basil, and sage in a lighter than air batter.  Her secret is to use sparkling water in the mix.

Mark fired up the oven to grill some ribeyes the Tuscan way: simply grilled and then dragged through olive oil with rosemary and a little Maldon sea salt.  Served on a bed of slightly bitter arugula (or rocket), the juices softened and flavored the greens beautifully.

There is almost always a breeze on Meyer Farm, so in spite of the heat it was very pleasant sitting outside around the table made from barnwood taken from the ruins behind the house.  Before we knew it, it was after midnight and we had consumed some very nice wines.

Mark claims I said we would get up at 5:15, but I didn’t crawl out of bed until 7:00 when the sun was alarmingly high in the sky.  The first order of business was to install the 4 decorative tiles on the face of the oven, with Nicole’s guidance.   They will add a nice touch to the finished project.  By 11:30 we had run out of material, but had barely enough to finish the scratch coat.  After a few days of drying, Mark will finish it up.  Looking forward to our first pizza from it!

Father’s Day

Last year on Father’s Day, my younger brother Dave gave my Dad a kidney.  Talk about the gift that keeps on giving…

This year on Father’s Day weekend, my Dad walked in the St. Louis Kidney Walk, to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation.  He raised over $5000.  My youngest brother from Chicago, Greg, came down with his daughter Kathryn. 

We were joined by my Mom, wife Barb, and our son Max.

On Sunday, Max joined Barb and me at Shakespeare in Forest Park for a picnic and a performance of Hamlet.

It was a very still, hot evening.  This was closing night, so we were glad we got to see it.

I’m lucky to have such a wonderful Dad and son.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman

Tomorrow evening at our gallery opening, the prints displayed in the client area are photos taken by Nancy’s daughter Lily.  Lily is five years old, and takes after her Mom in that they both have very good eyes for photography.  Nancy has an iPhone, and Lily likes to take snaps with it.  Nancy thought some of them looked pretty cool, so they are part of our exhibit.  They will hang for six months, so if you can’t make the opening, there will be other chances to see the work of this precocious artist.

Gallery Opening

We are continuing our plan of changing the prints in the front gallery and the client area twice a year.  To celebrate, we are having a little party this Friday.

I have new work from the first half of this year, and Nancy Stevens has selected some images taken by her daughter Lily with her iPhone.

If you are reading this, you are invited!

Cheers.

Summer is Here

We have gone from unseasonably cool spring weather to hot and humid summer weather overnight here in STL.  Might be a good time for a snow cone.

I worked with St. Louis Magazine art director Kevin Goodbar on the current issue which is out this week.  Simple, colorful, and I hope it sells a boatload of magazines.

Cloak of Invisibility

Last weekend we attended our daughter’s graduation from Duke University, where she was graduated with a masters degree in Environmental Management.  Barb and I are very proud of Emily.

One of the honorary doctorates was awarded to a British scientist, Sir John Pendry.  He is credited with creating the first practical “invisibility cloak”.  I know it sounds like science fiction, but it is real!  Using metamaterials, he is able to bend light around an object, so that it is invisible.  My crude illustration of my cloak is in the photo below.

We had some nice meals in Durham, and at one restaurant the wine list included both the white and the red wines that we will be serving at Emily’s wedding in a few days.  Of course we ordered them, and they are good.

That must be a good omen.