I had gone to see the Solas show on Saturday before she got off work at Artasia, and really enjoyed that, even though I didn't know their music well. After meeting Diane at the gate, then, we wandered around more of shopping areas, listening in here and there at bits of music, and just catching up. We grabbed drinks and ended up over at a picnic table underneath the trees by the Lake where the full moon was coming up, and I caught up on the news of her and Tim's doings and so forth. Sunday I made a point of trying to record the Saw Doctors' show with middling results from my handheld digital recorder that I use for interviews and lectures. The quality of the music was surprisingly good, given that I was in the very loud seventh row, in the center, but there was a constant intermittent static that kept it from being a really good bootleg. I ran into Sara and Joe, Sheila and J.P.'s good friends who I met at the wedding last year and had dinner with this New Year's, discovering that they were long-term Saw Doctors' fans, and heard a tiny bit of their news, too, which was fun. Afterwards, I took in about half of Gaelic Storm's show, until their performance of "Born To Be A Bachelor," but I've never gotten into their stuff as much as the bulk of IrishFest clearly has. The moonrise coming up over the open wings of the Art Museum as I left was worth the early departure alone.
From the Summerfest grounds, I fast-forward to late Monday afternoon, where I said good-bye to Julie before she left town Tuesday morning to start her doctorate at SUNY Stony Brook. We had met earlier at Alterra on Prospect and sat at a table in the edge of the shade out front, talking about this experience of hers, of college days coming to an end, after she, like me, had stuck around her undergraduate stomping grounds for an extra year before starting graduate school. It was a bit of an odd afternoon: a car accident happened right in front of us, a fender-bender, fortunately, with no one hurt, but still startling. And then Sara VanDenHeuvel walked up to us out of nowhere, having spotted me as she drove by on Prospect and then recognizing Julie sitting with me. I'd met Sara in the same class I TAed for when I met Jules, and the two of them were the two that I tutored the most, and got to having long gab sessions with. Ironically, if I'd had to guess, I would have given an edge to Sara in guessing which one of the two friends might have turned into a close friend of mine, but it was Jules who ended up making that time for me, and I couldn't be happier with the result. So we three talked for a bit, as Sara was blowing through town while over for a few days from Madison where she's a grad student now. Picture-taking commenced. But the time ran away from us and I walked with Julie back down Prospect toward where she was staying with friends. Eventually, it was time for her to hop onto her bike and get to meet Jackie, and so we said good-bye over at Burns Commons. I asked her what kind of good-bye she wanted, and she laughed when I listed the choices, and opted for the crane shot version I offered, where the camera of life would dramatically pull up and away from us hugging good-bye from the center of the park, where I'd stand watching her walk away under the not-so-attractive modern-art obelisk that I have yet to understand. Officially, that was the twelfth time that afternoon she started crying, and although there was some debate about the official count, it was all good, and I have perfect confidence in her continued friendship, although I'm going to miss knowing she's nearby and available.
Tuesday, I was sure I was going to be able to avoid parks altogether; so sure, in fact, that I never gave it a single thought and, even worse, decided not to shower as I turned my complete attention back to the dissertation. But no sooner do I walk into the living room of The Ledge around 5 or 530pm than the phone rings and Amy tells me they're just headed out the door to join the Harrises for a picnic dinner and live music and do I want to come along? I weigh the interesting sound of this against the icky sticky feeling of being unwashed and and hiding under a ball cap, and decide that I can make up the extra hours of work after I get back. I grab a sandwich, as instructed, and get picked up by Dan and Amy, talking about the possibilities involved in the classic rock cover band called the Boomers that we're about to hear. Dan is talking to me about a band called Finger Eleven and Amy misunderstands this name to disasterous effect. We actually end up not at the park near the Harris home that I was expecting, but back down above the river, looking over downtown Milwaukee at a little outdoor amphitheatre space in Kadish Park. The music is okay, more it's just the casual crowd grabbing food and company outside that's fun, with us watching the kids dance as the sun dropped and wind turned cool. The most exciting moment of the night occurs when everything is packed up and we're headed out, and I pick up Zeke, who it seems is about to be left behind. I'm carrying him in seated position in front of me, trailing behind the crew when I think I see Zeke after all, up in front with the other kids, and I suddenly think, "Oh, crap: I just picked up someone else's kid!!" Fortunately, Donna turns around, wondering where Zeke is, and I see that the kids in front do not include Zeke, and I have the correct child after all, and am not about to make a scene.
And thus the last few days have featured parks.