Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Things Have Changed

I had not been to Chicago since the late 80s. That was around the time when I had a very public and very unpleasant breakup with a friend.

It was the type of an ending that can make one view every relationship after in a much different light. It had been an exhausting relationship from the start so the ending would have been predictable if I had not been in the middle of it. She was from Chicago and even with the most remote chance there was of randomly running into her, with so many other destinations in the world to see and experience, Chicago moved to the very bottom of the list of places I needed to visit. (And I'd bet my house she feels the same about the Twin Cities.)

The last I heard about her she was working in Asia when the 2005 Tsunami struck and she was reported as missing. I thought about touching base with family and friends but figured in a difficult time I was probably the last person they needed to hear from. The unknown was always the undercurrent, the basis of that entire relationship. Symbolism indeed.

But enough about ancient history. One of the numerous idiosyncrasies my friends know me by is my love of Bob Dylan’s music. I saw my first Bob Dylan concert in 1986. I’ve seen at least one Dylan concert every year since (except 1987). All totaled I've now seen him perform live 36 times. I’ve seen him in most of the large cities in Minnesota. I’ve seen him in Los Angeles and Berkeley California. I’ve seen him in London, England. He’s the one artist that’s worth hearing every chance you get because each performance of each song is always different whether it be the arrangement, the vocals, the mood struck, whatever. In that way he’s more like a jazz musician than a rock/blues/folk/country musician.

Dylan usually plays at least one show somewhere in Minnesota but this year he didn’t schedule any Minnesota shows. So I figured the best place to see him was Chicago which is about an hour’s flight away. That he was playing three shows in three nights also seemed appealing because it seemed a tad superfluous to fly somewhere for one show. So I got the old pocketbook out and bought tickets to all three quite aware and unaware and thinking about and not thinking about my own Windy City history.

I booked a motel downtown (Club Quarters) a few blocks from the venue (the Chicago Theater). Armed with a Chicago Transit Authority map I flew down late Friday night hoping I could figure out the city’s train system that according to the map had a stop a few blocks from my motel. I didn’t know if the motel was in a “good” part of town. I didn’t know if I, being of extremely poor sense of direction, would be able to find the motel. I knew the train ride from O’Hare was going to take over an hour so given the late hour my nerves were a bit on edge.

It didn’t help matters that when the plane landed I noticed it was raining outside. Having not brought an umbrella with me I could just picture myself wandering the downtown streets lost and wet stumbling from one dangerous street to the next.

It was the unknown that was the worst because once I found the train, found the train stop, and got outside, I was fine. I found the motel in no time, checked in uneventfully and went to my room to unwind.

I didn’t do much during the days. I spent most my free time just wandering the streets looking for nothing in particular. I don’t know what was scarier being approached by homeless people begging for money on a secluded street or my stroll on Saturday afternoon that followed a big anti-war demonstration. The streets were lined with police in riot gear- making the whole downtown feel like a military zone.

My iPhone was a great traveling companion. Monday morning I decided I wanted sushi for lunch so I typed in sushi and my motel address and up popped a map of the nearby restaurants I could choose from. My one tourist-like moment came in visiting the Art Institute of Chicago, the home of several well known paintings. My favorite painter by far is Rene Magritte so I spent my entire time looking through the vast collections looking for his work. I found one of his paintings (Time Transfixed) that made the excursion well worthwhile. I checked at the information desk and was told that indeed that was the one Magritte painting that was in the museum. The information lady said she was glad I found it. I also learned I quite like Picasso’s work- his use of color impressed me.

Dylan was great. One of my current favorite songs of his is “Things Have Changed” with its ominous melody and lyrics and the chorus “I used to care but… things have changed.” He performed the song at two of the shows (one of the few repeat songs) and sang it in a clipped march like precision that was effective if not a tad chilling. Of course on night three he had to sing “You’re a Big Girl Now” the song I’ll forever associate with my former friend who was from Chicago. It was Dylan's lone performance of the song this entire year and it made me cry. “Our conversation was short and sweet/It nearly knocked me off of my feet/And I’m back in the rain/You are on dry land/You made it there somehow/You’re a big girl now…” It was a great performance of a great song- one of the best live versions I have heard.

The five day trip constitutes my 2007 vacation. Having switched jobs at the beginning of the year it’s been hard finding the time (and accumulating the vacation hours) to take an extended break. On my flight back I thought to myself that I should take more mini-Chicago trips to see shows. Most of my favorite bands make it to Minneapolis during tours but Chicago opens up the field even more. And the ghosts that do exist (One of the lasting memories that makes it feel all like it was yesterday was staying near the airport waiting for her to visit and having her call me all frantic that she was lost and maybe even on a runway) aren’t as crippling and unforgiving as they used to be.


Back home. The boyz seemed glad to see me. M- drove me home from the airport and despite his obvious affection for her, Thompson was clear that the first order of business was getting fed.

I think the boyz may have missed me or at least missed our routine. I was lying in bed watching TV and Thompson came charging down the corridor. Usually he pauses at the side of the bed before jumping up but this time he hopped right on to my chest from his full sprint. He then demanded a face rub.

Diego-san spent most of the evening right by my side after getting his, 'I wanna be combed... NOW' demand met.

Theo wasn't sure what to do so he ran up and down the stairs.

The house seemed no worse for the wear- Thompson did rip apart a box top leaving tiny bits of card board all over my bedroom.

Splendid trip- more on that later.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Third Show

Cat's in the Well
Lay Lady Lay
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
You're a Big Girl Now
Rollin and Tumblin
Spirit on the Water
Cry a While
Workingman's Blues #2
Things Have Changed
Under the Red Sky
Highway 61
Ain't Talkin
Summer Days
Like a Rolling Stone

I Shall Be Released (with Elvis Costello and Amos Lee)
Thunder on the Mountain
All Along the Watchtower

Favorites: You're a Big Girl Now, Under the Red Sky, I Shall Be Released

Three night totals: 49 songs, 36 different songs, 3 songs played all three nights

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Second Show

Rainy Day Woman 12&35
Don't Think Twice It's Alright
Just Like Tom Thumb Blues
Love Sick
Levee's Gonna Break
Blind Willie McTell
Stuck Inside a Mobile With the Memphis Blues
When the Deal Goes Down
Til I Fell in Love With You
Working Man's Blues #2
Highway 61
Nettie Moore
Summer Days
Ballad of a Thin Man

Thunder on the Mountain
Blowin in the Wind

Favorites: Blind Willie McTell, Nettie Moore
Two shows, 32 songs, 28 different songs

Saturday, October 27, 2007

First Show

Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat
It Ain't Me Babe
Watching the River Flow
Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Rollin and Tumblin
Positively Fourth Street
Things Have Changed
Workingman's Blues #2
High Water for Charlie Patton
Spirit on the Water
Highway 61
Ain't Talkin
Summer Days
Masters of War

Thunder on the Mountain
All Along the Watchtower

Favorites: Things Have Changed, Ain't Talkin

Friday, October 26, 2007

I Know Which Way the Wind Blows

Off to Chicago to see three Bob Dylan shows over the weekend.

I haven't broken the news yet to the boyz but I think Diego-san shouldn't mind too much since his favorite person is coming over to feed him. I didn't break him the news however that she is recently engaged.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mechanical Man

I had to change a burnt out headlight bulb in my Mini Cooper. The last time I had to do so (which was only a few months back making me wonder what the heck is going on...) I ended up bringing it in to a neighborhood mechanic because I couldn't figure out how to get to the bulb. As a result I ended up paying over $100, which seemed a tad high for such a simple 'repair.'

So this time I was determined to figure out how to make the change all by myself without the assistance of a professional. It took me a while to find good information (the manual wasn't much help). Last evening after work I picked up a new light bulb and began to get to work.

The first step (after opening the hood) is to remove the headlight cover. No problem there. The next step is to pull off the plastic wire cover. No problem there either. After that, things got a little dicey. There's metal piece holding the bulb in. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to detach the metal to get at the bulb. I did everything I could think of and after I almost gave up, I pinched the clasp a little tighter than I had previously tried and the bulb fell right out.

Now was the hard part... Figuring out how the metal thing held the bulb in place was not easy. The headlight actually is part of the hood so it's placed in a strange angle when the hood is raised. I finally got things in what I thought was the right place, shut the hood, and turned on the lights. Nadda.

Now I had to figure out if the problem was beyond a burnt out bulb or if it was I hadn't assembled things correctly. After repeating the process (with a few choice curse words) I tried it again and still no luck. I then noticed that the working bulb on the other side was at the top of the head lamp not the bottom and I had changed the bottom bulb. Sure enough I flipped on the high beams and the new bulb worked.

So once again I had to take things apart, put them back together (in a different order) and after some sweat and fingers covered in grease I had my headlights working 100 percent.

Woo hoo. I looked up to see Thompson had been watching me probably wondering what the bleep I was doing that was more important than his dinner.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Pal Alex

I called and chatted with my friend Alex who lives in the city of San Diego. Her house is OK and not in any immediate danger of the fires that are devastating that area.

We had a really nice chat, catching up on the many changes in our lives. Alex and I have remained in contact over the years even though we were friends for only a short time when she lived here many many years ago. I visited her in Washington DC over a decade ago and then again in San Diego a couple of years ago. I am very glad we have remained in touch. She is one of the people I've encountered in my journey that I really do admire the most. I was touched she remembered the names of the three boyz- even though she has never met them. I was glad to hear over the summer she took in a stray cat (Tinkerbell) from her neighborhood adding a playmate for the mysterious Mousaka who I got to meet when I visited Alex in San Diego.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Who's the Boss?

I worked late last night and when I got home Thompson wouldn't let me go to bed.

He hopped up on me before I had a chance to brush my teeth and change clothes. He was so comfy sitting on my stomach that I didn't want to get up so I ended up staying up a half hour later than I otherwise would have.

I realize many people would have just gotten up and continued on with the routine but I ask, how can a fella resist this face?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Water Connoisseurs

Theo has learned from the other boyz that water tastes better fresh from the tap rather than in a bowl. After a meal he'll meander to the main level bathroom, hop on the back of the toilet and meow.

This is a call for me to turn on the bathroom tap. Theo will then stand on the back of the toilet, balance his front legs on the edge of the sink and lap up water.

The upstairs bathroom has a vanity and this is Thompson's and Diego's preferred sink because it's much easier (and roomier) for them to drink water from a tap. For some reason Theo seems to think the leap on to the vanity is beyond his capabilities so he has never joined the other two in the joys of upstairs tap water refreshment. Last week he was standing in the upstairs bathroom meowing so I lifted him on to the vanity and turned on the water for him. Now every night since he has done the same thing whenever I go upstairs.

It only took a couple of years but he has finally trained me.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Top of the World

Diego-san's sanctuary from Theo's relentless pestering is the top of my refrigerator. From there he is on the top of the world looking down on creation and the only explanation he can find, is the love that he's found ever since we've been around....

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Where Do You Sleep?

You can tell it's been chilly outside (and in) the past few weeks. Both Diego-san and Theo have taken to finding spots on the bed next to me to sleep most of the night. They are taking full advantage of my body heat.

Thompson usually starts the night somewhere on the bed but in a few hours he goes downstairs somewhere to sleep. I'm not sure where or why. Maybe it's the only time of the day/night that he has absolute alone time... I can relate to that.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I Heart Peigh Gee (Well Not So Much)

The boyz and I analyzed the strategy deployed in last night's episode of Survivor- China. After the tribes were mixed up, one of the tribes decided the best way forward was to throw a challenge. History has shown that it's never good strategy to throw a challenge in Survivor.

Theo proved himself a far smarter being by not paying any attention to my strategy talking session and instead occupying his time with playing with a toy mouse.

We'll see if Peigh Gee is a mastermind or leading the way to her own demise.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Just Like the Unicorn

Seriously... it won't stop raining in these parts. It has rained every day but one this month. I've never been one to think that the weather affects my moods but c'mon this is getting a tad wearying.

I guess I'll have to start building an ark. I'm avoiding telling the boyz however, that I can only take two of them with me...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Future Red Sox Star

While I was watching last night's playoff game between the Indians and Red Sox I decided my feet were getting warm so I took off my socks.

Diego-san was sitting on the carpet about ten feet away seemingly oblivious to what I was doing so I decided to wake him up and throw my socks at him. To my amazement when the first sock was flying above his head he leaped up and swatted it down in a display of impressive timing. The second sock was no challenge whatsoever because he was ready for it.

The boy is alert, coordinated, and quite the athlete...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Theo loves to show off how fast he is. He'll race me up and down the stairs. Last night we all were quietly watching the baseball playoffs when Theo decided he'd tear up and down the hallway as if the devil himself were chasing him. I'm always impressed by Theo's speed but Thompson and Diego-san looked at him like, 'yeah real impressive kid...'

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday Monday

For what seems like the billioneth Monday in a row it was raining/drizzling on my way into work. Made me wonder when exactly I moved to Seattle...

The rain slows traffic way down and there was an accident on the freeway that caused a major backup. The boyz' biggest worry in life is when the next meal will be served. I guess if I didn't know that either that would stress me out but still not as much as a white knuckled expletive laced drive to a long day at work....

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday Sunday

Lazy Sunday taking a nap and watching football. Even Theo must have been tired as he took the longest nap of all of us...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bow Wow

I stepped in some dog doo doo last night. I did my best to clean the bottom of my shoe before I entered my house. I even cleaned it further when I got inside.

I got all the physical signs of the doo doo off my shoe but I obviously didn't get all the smell as Thompson tried his best to smell my shoe as hard I tried to keep it away from him.

Later on in the day he did what he sometimes does- he chased his tail. He likes to lay in the cat tree with the widest spot on top and spin around in circles trying to catch his tail. I guess the smell of the dog doo doo inspired his best canine impression.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Good Morning Video

Theo's foster mom sent this to me... It is pretty accurate in terms of what Theo does many mornings...

Fuzzy Trio

The boyz and I did our regular Thursday night thing and watched Survivor together. Thompson and I guessed wrong about the person voted out figuring it was going to be Sherea instead of Dave. Thank goodness we were wrong.

And I think Thompson figured out I'm developing a little crush on Peigh Gee.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sky Blue Sky

T- and I went and saw the band Wilco play at Northrop Auditorium, which is on the University of Minnesota campus. The whole show was great from when they walked on stage to the theme music of
The Bob Newhart Show, to the opening moody version of "Sunken Treasure" all the way through to the rockin closer "Spiders (Kidsmoke)."

They played most of my favorite songs but I especially liked the versions of "Shot in the Arm," "Hummingbird," and "Sky Blue Sky."

Solid show.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

How Much are Those Kitties in the Window?

Something caught Thompson and Diego-san's attention last night as they spent a lot of the night sitting together peering out my bedroom window.

Even Theo joined them for a bit but I made him get down because he kept trying to claw the screen to get at a dead bug in the window sill.

T'was history in the making- the very first time all three boyz participated in simultaneous window sitting.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Picture is Worth a Thousand...

Not sure what is going through Diego-san's mind here. I think he maybe mocking the look on my face as his expression is a good one for how I feel this rainy, dark, Monday morning...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Good Groomer

I love watching Thompson groom himself. He's such a meticulous groomer. He loves to wash his face and often he'll do so while lying on my chest. When he's nearly done I'll stick my forefinger in front of his nose and he'll lick it showing he wants all of us to be well groomed.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Furnace Guy

Every year I have a guy come out and look at my furnace to make sure it's ready for the upcoming winter. Yesterday was the annual visit.

The furnace guy was impressed with the new basement. He said that once I completely have it finished it's going to be a great space. I hope he's right.

Of course Diego-san watched the guy work, making sure the work being done met his feline standards, acting as if he has a degree in furnace maintenance. Then when I was talking with the furnace guy Diego rolled around on the ground between us- making himself, as he so often does, the center of attention.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Wednesday Night Lights

I had my final softball game of the season last night. In the fall league we play underneath lights so the game started at 9 p.m.

Usually by that time I'm either getting ready for bed or I am already in bed. So come 8 o'clock the boyz were settling into the normal routine and Theo was working himself up for the last meal of the day (which I serve right before I go upstairs for bed).

He kept trying to prod me towards the bathroom to brush my teeth (the last activity that happens before I get the boyz food in their dishes). Thompson and Diego figured something must be up because I was gathering up my softball equipment and I put on my tennis shoes. They may have seen a lot of strange behavior from me over the years but they boyz have never seen me wear my shoes to bed. So Thompson and Diego resigned themselves to the fact that dinner was gonna be later than usual. I don't think Theo gave up hope of being fed until I left the house.

We won the game 24-4.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Theo woke me up in the middle of the night by hopping up in my bed and dropping a toy mouse next to me (at least it wasn't the real thing).

I assumed he wanted to play fetch with the mouse so I picked it up and tossed it over the side of the bed. Instead of chasing it Theo proceeded to climb underneath the covers.

As soon as Theo was out of sight, Diego-san who was lying on the foot of the bed tore after the mouse and began swatting it all over the upper wing of the house. The sound got Theo's attention and he crawled out from underneath the covers to join Diego-san in some midnight madness.

So I'm a lil tired this morning.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Gotta Watch What I Eat

So I was enjoying a fish sandwich for lunch yesterday at work. I looked over at Bucky the Betafish and he was watching me intently. I swear he knew I was eating fish and the look in his eyes suggested it may have been a relative of his.

Sorry Bucky.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Reveal

The work on my basement is complete. Basically I hired M-'s father to frame and sheet rock a bedroom, family room, and laundry room. He also framed in a space to add a bathroom. I plan to finish the basement off probably next year.

The boyz, particularly Diego-san, have been dying to find out what all the noise was about and why they were suddenly prevented from going downstairs. So they were all in ultra-exploration mode as they checked out each and every inch of the work. Although M-'s father cleaned up the area there was still some dust from the sheet rock and Diego-san soon turned into a grey kitty. He was squealing as he ran from room to room, commenting on the new layout.