This, of course, was easier to endure when you were with someone else, than if you just looked like you were being dorky with your toys by yourself.
So I grabbed my own camera for whatever fun I might find with it, and came along for the ride. Bradford Beach, the main beach on Milwaukee's lakefront, was completely swamped with people, and Erynn had wanted to try out shooting these toys on a beach. So I suggested the beach at Atwater Park, in Shorewood, which my family always walks to from my Aunt and Uncle's house on Thanksgiving, as a way of stretching the legs after the feast. So we drove up to that beautiful neighbourhood, while I looked out at all the sailboats on the water, taking advantage of such a summery day. That so made me want to go sailing again, which I haven't done in years. Erynn pretty much hates sailing, I discovered, so I told her about the reckless racing of the Sunfish I did with Richard on the lake at Rock Cut State Park the summer I learned to sail, just to give her the heebie-jeebies. Once we were up in the Shorewood area, I began looking more at the lovely houses high on the bluff above Lake Michigan and we got to talking a bit of architecture, and then walking down the bluff to the beach.
So Erynn worked on shooting the collectibles while I apologized for suggesting the Atwater Beach after I discovered that we couldn't actually see the cityscape from there. Erynn didn't seem to care, though, and just worked on while we talked. Occasionally we looked at and shot other things, too, or talked about what it was about such things that we thought were good to try to capture in a photograph. Erynn and I both noticed this cute couple taking pics together on the beach. As we were getting ready to walk back up the bluff, the girl had been leaning on the guy's shoulder, looking at what he had already shot, and I couldn't quite get my camera back out of its case and ready to shoot before they moved out of that spontaneous, all-too-cute pose. Halfway up the staircase to the beach, I saw them again in a pose that struck me, as he was shooting her, and we both tried to capture something from that angle. When I spotted a red-winged blackbird perched nearby and cussing everyone out, I made a point of shooting that for my bird-crazy nieces, who last summer told me lots about the fearsome red-winged blackbirds that were attacking pedestrians in Chicago. Aunt Helen and Uncle Bill had told be of being hit by the ones down here by the lake. So we finished climbing back up the bluff while Erynn told me complaining stories of workouts for the Marquette Track Team that she had done here on the beach and running up and down the stairs, which made me razz her about being the wussiest athlete I'd ever met.
We headed downtown, to take advantage of the views of the city from the area around the Milwaukee Art Museum, which is wildly photogenic itself. We had a number of occasions to laugh about how dorky we looked staring and shooting these toys. It got to be kind of funny to see people looking at us oddly, but only a few made teasing comments as they passed by. Eventually, we worked our way past the Art Museum and down to the Lake itself. I had mentioned to Erynn that I liked a few of the shots she'd taken of me on New Year's Eve behind Discovery World with the Hoan Bridge in the background, and so we went over there to take advantage of that possibility, since being in this area gave you lots of classic Milwaukee backdrop opportunities. The gorgeous wind coming off the Lake ("gorgeous" because it was the perfect coolness matched to the heat of the day) was so brisk, though, that the toys kept blowing over, so I worked to keep them up, setting them up repeatedly, so that Erynn could shoot in the second or two when they were all still standing. And people walked by and laughed....
While we were down there I saw that the Denis Sullivan, a fully-functional sailing vessel modeled after a 19th century Great Lakes schooner, was also out on the water. Something like that, of course, was an absolutely irresistible shot, and so I started playing with my telephoto lens. I was surprised to discover, when I was looking at this camera during my search for a new one, that this had a 10x telephoto, which seemed quite strong for a point-and-shoot. The digital telephoto takes that power up to 40x, but that, of course, sacrifices detail in pixelation. The Denis Sullivan is based at Milwaukee's Discovery World, and does Great Lakes scientific/environmental work and education, as well as functioning as an attraction and social venue. I've never taken a cruise on it, but now, having finally eyeballed it underway, I'm determined to stop just thinking about it and try it out! I really wanted to catch the Denis Sullivan as it went past the old Milwaukee Breakwater Lighthouse, but the timing was complicated by the other boats passing in and out of the frame. I did what I could, but I might go back another day just to try again.
On Monday night, I went out for dessert, drinks and talk with Diane, with whom I'd been playing schedule-tag for a few weeks. Her newish job as a union recruiter/representative runs into the evenings, so she grabbed me on the way home at around 9:30pm. We went down to our traditional late-night talk haunt of the bar at the Hotel Metro, which was predictably deserted as Monday night isn't much of a clubbing night downtown. (The Metro being a favourite stop of clubbers who want to sit down, eat, drink and converse.) I was explaining a bit about my current run on the dissertation on the way down, since we hadn't actually laid eyes on one another since I had dinner with her and Tim back in March. As we were getting out of the car, she said, "Well, since you're about to see and figure it out, anyway, I'll tell you that my big news is that I'm pregnant!"
Conversation contest: she wins.
That pretty much (obviously) dominated our conversation the rest of the night. She hadn't wanted to tell me over the phone, so she'd been sitting on the surprise for months while we played tag and while I hid underground with the dissertation. She couldn't have our usual choice of a port, of course, and instead tucked in on the Metro's great apple pie, which we ended up splitting. So it was a surprise for everyone, but a good and welcome one, with her getting about halfway through already and expecting in early November. She speculated that while a girl made perfect sense to her, she had no idea about how to be a Mom to a boy. I opined that since she was a comic book geek, her pop-culture instincts were very boy-compatible and that she'd find it pretty easy going. She seemed to think that was reasonable, so that felt good to say something that seemed sensible. I mostly kept coming back to just my sheer surprise, so I don't know that my converstaion amounted to much more than random exclamations of "Zounds!" "Zoinks!" "Jinkies!" and the like.