Friday, September 27, 2013

Mostly Pictures

I ran away after retirement.
I needed to escape into a world of beauty, quiet, art. I needed to spend time with friends who had experienced retirement, enjoy them and learn from them.I needed to be at my lake house before the hard fall sets in. Although it is beginning.
I would wake up to fog...
...and soon after see a mirror-perfect lake.
I would experience glorious sunsets...
...and delightful days.
The lake is quiet now. Most of the boats are in for the winter.
Only a few fishermen and the occasional power boat remain.
The markets are rich with pumpkins, squash and apples.
Lizzie is not living up her her urban street-cat past. She came face to face -- no, nose-to-nose -- with a mouse and then just walked away. Well, I guess hunting wasn't her her executive assistant job description. Her meow is fiercer than her demeanor!
I'll write more about what I'm learning from my already-retired friends in another post and also share more of Art Prize. Meanwhile, we learned last night that Greg moved into the top 50! Thank you for all your comments -- we're so proud! (I'm on limited internet here -- I'll catch up with you as soon as I can!)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

ArtPrize I: Let's Hear it for the Kid!

One of the best things about being Rick's life partner is getting to share his two great boys. They're young men now, but I've known them for so long -- they'll always be "the kids." Yesterday we got to see the oldest, Greg, at Grand Rapids' ArtPrize.
ArtPrize is a massive art competition where all media are encouraged. The prize money at the top is big -- and to get noticed you have to be "big" -- so Greg went all out!
Back about a year ago, he was commissioned by the Detroit Institute of Arts to create chalk eggs to promote their Faberge exhibit.
Greg used chalk to depict various elements of Michigan's industry during the time Peter Karl Faberge was creating his own exquisite eggs for the family of the Russian  tsar, among others. This one focuses on agriculture.
Since then, the eggs have been in storage, never seen together before, only at the various sites where the DIA placed them. ArtPrize gave Greg and Ryan Donovan, who created the egg forms with Greg and designed the stands, the opportunity to refresh the originals and show them to a larger audience. (This egg emphasizes the auto industry.)
And I do mean large. Just on the Sunday when we were there, literally thousands of people streamed through the doors of DeVos Place to look at the numerous works of art on display. (I'll write about others in the next post).
Everyone votes for their favorites. At this round, one can vote for as many favorites as they like, which are then narrowed down to the top 100, 50 and then 25. You can only vote once for each entry. When you get down to the top 10, everyone can vote again. (This egg is based on shipping.)
Rick, Greg, Jasmine (Greg's girlfriend) and I all helped explain the eggs to the crowds who stopped by. (They worked the crowd more than I, I regret to say. I had to duck out to register and vote, and while I was at it caught some of the "competition!")
But I have to tell you, when people are ooohing and ahhing about your kid (well, not by blood, but he's still my kid as much as one can be!), it is such an exhilarating feeling. You remember the early drawings, flat and non-dimensional; the never-ending images of sports cars (there was a time when I thought that might be all he would ever draw!). You remember the more esoteric projects during art school. You remember graduation. You remember the cancer surgeries.
You hope for this. Any parent does. But how many see it realized?
Of course we want Greg to win (so if you're headed to ArtPrize, vote for Greg!). There is a huge cash prize for the winner, and second and third place do well, too.
But even getting in the Top 10 is a big deal for an artist -- not just because of the honor of being chosen, but because then their work is critiqued by a panel of top international art critics. It can bring recognition and wider attention -- along with getting good feedback.
All of us were pretty pooped when we went to dinner after the event closed for the day. But we were all so happy and honored that so many would vote right on the spot for Greg!
First round voting continues through next Saturday, then on to the next round.
Needless to say, we will be waiting with baited breath!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

An Embarrasment of Riches

An embarrassment of riches. That's all I can say about my time at WKAR and that last wonderful week. And the riches weren't just the celebrations. It was mostly the people.

I've been "at liberty" now for a full week, having a glorious time making art up north. It seems odd to not be with this gang of people every day! This is most of our team (boss Katie and colleague Stacy had to leave the work goodbye lunch a little early for another meeting!)
I had the opportunity to be on our "Current State" show, as I mentioned in the last post. Joe and Aaron were behind the scenes!
This is Mark Bashore, our host! I had known Mark long before he came to work at WKAR.
On Thursday, the station hosted a lovely reception for me. It was coordinated by Carol (left) and our GM, Gary Reid (far right, with his partner Pat), but lots of people helped!
My very first GM, Bob Page, was there, too!
And our current station manager, Susi Elkins. I've known Susi since she was a student working at the station! She's come a long way, and no one deserves it more!
The group included volunteers and friends, like Susan Affholter, Carol Welch and Jim DeLine. All are longtime friends, volunteers and lifelines!
So many colleagues (past and present) came, and so did good friends -- book club friends, wine friends, my "great group" (or GGs). All held my hand and were there during my illness, stress, whatever was making me crazy at the moment. And I know they will again.
Mike Hughes is our TV critic. He works nationally for Gannett, so if you are in a Gannett paper, you may have read his words! I've read a lot of them!
Two of my most recent work colleagues, Stacy and Kim, were there too -- it's so nice to know that when you leave someplace, you leave it in good hands! I'm only sorry I won't be able to work with them as closely from now on.
And here's something special... we went into the restaurant in the rain. Soon after, someone came in and said, "Have you seen the rainbow?" It was a full rainbow -- I didn't see the double, but someone else said they saw a double rainbow, too! I think that's a good sign!
The last day was filled with the Jeanie Goodbye Tour. I won't share all the photos for that but let me say, it was hard to say goodbye to friends. Raysha, our student, made me a wonderful farewell gift -- a jar filled with my bucket list wishes and lots more activities, for that day when you wonder, "What shall I do today?" I loved it!
That night, our old Quonset Hut gang got together -- these are those I've known the longest (since WKAR was located in the original Quonset huts on MSU's campus) and with whom I worked the most intensely.
. It was hosted by Tim (my office brother) and his wife, Sara, here with their daughter Meghan.
I've known Mike Lewis forever. He made a wonderful collection of "posters" where he photoshopped Rick and me into lots of fun things.
I can't decide if this is my favorite...
Or this one!
Gypsy readers have met Mark and Jan before at our Easter Egg dying gigs. Mark was one of the very first people I met.
Mike Mihalus and I spent a lot of time together as he produced pledge breaks. I hope he'll still invite me now and then!
Nancy Kelly and Bill Kinney were part of the original group, too. I can't imagine having had a life at WKAR without them.
After the first party, the night before, Rick and I had dinner in the restaurant where the party was located. This is the photo I took there, rather hurriedly. Yes, it's a boo boo photo -- but I think all the lights summarize those last few days -- filled with light, love, friends, happiness...
And all a blur!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wet Sticky Leaf

Rick tells me that in Japan, a man who is retired is referred to as a nure ochiba. This loosely translates to "wet leaf" or "wet sticky leaf,." depending on your translation.

The man, now with nothing to do after a lengthy career of being in the driven Japanese business world, sticks to his wife's leg like a wet sticky leaf.
I think Rick is getting a little worried that I will turn into a WSL. I say that apart from cruising down to his house on bread baking days to grab a couple of slices for a toasted tomato and basil sandwich, he doesn't have much to worry about.
Friday, September 13 was my last day as a longtime communications manager at WKAR. For 32-plus years, I have been proud to share the word about public television and radio in our community. I've worked with so many amazing people at WKAR, in the community and at the university, I am almost embarrassed by the richness I have experienced in that time. And yet right now my world feels as though it has turned upside down.
When I started working there, fresh out of grad school, we worked in a tin Quonset hut with weeds coming through the floor and asbestos hanging from the ceiling. Now we are in a remarkable building with four studios. I went from Selectric typewriter to computer, "regular" TV to digital. WKAR did a lot of production back in the Quonset days and we do a lot now. I am always impressed by our crew. And for the most part I have loved all the things we've done and I've experienced over time.

We did a ton of events where we'd meet and greet...
Open houses...
Parties. And I got to meet some great people, like Garrison Keillor...
...and Ken Burns.
The list was long -- I wish I could find my photo with Fred Rogers -- truly the real deal. Bill Moyers, Bob Ross (the Happy Painter), Graham Kerr (The Galloping Gourmet), Jim Lehrer, the This Old House guys, Michael Buble... that's only a few!
My favorite was Carrol Spinney, aka Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird, who came to our 50th and was one of the most remarkably generous human beings I've ever met. We still swap holiday cards. Big Bird is Carrol.
I got to travel to conferences and when I did, there was usually a terrific batch of station cohorts with whom to laugh our way through dinner.
Over and over again!
I had many great bosses -- here are two of them. Susi is now our TV station manager and Tim, our  executive producer, pictured here at the NETA conference. Some people have office husbands. I have an office brother -- Tim. We grew up there, Quonsets to current, and have worked on more projects together than I remember. I remember when he met his wife Sara. I danced at their wedding, and I've seen their children grow into wonderful young adults.
My favorite task was doing pledge breaks, which used to be very frequent and less so in recent years, with the pre-packaged PBS breaks.
And the remotes were even more fun -- our crew was terrific -- and we always stopped for popcorn or ice cream when we were done!
I loved meeting colleagues from around the country. A favorite moment was running around Disney World in the rain!
Over the years, the faces changed. The fun was the same.
The NETA conferences were my favorite and I've posted about them here several times. The NETA team -- Gayle, Bob, Maryanne and Lisa and Skip (not pictured) have been wonderful friends and will remain so. NETA meetings also reunited me with an old friend, Joan, and many new, special people.
And, after we merged with the Communication Arts college, I got to work on other events too -- and one led me to meet my one and only athletic hero, Greg Kelser. Twice!
The gang below is one I've spent a lot of time with over the years. Although most of us are in different work groups now, and two are no longer at the station, they are still my core. We've shared so much.
But they are only one group of many. Some good friends have passed on, some have moved on. And yet I feel so privileged to have worked with them all. Now it's my turn.
I was lucky enough to be invited on our radio show, "Current State" for a short "exit interview!" If you want to listen (it's about two minutes), click here!

I'll tell you a bit more about the last few days in another post. But for now Cheers! Let the new life begin!

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