we spent our weekend working on our casa, making room for the new baby (no worries, folks, it plugs into the wall), frying fish with the hanks family, and doing a Sunday photo shoot with an aspiring country singer, Catherine Kimbro. all in all, a win.
You probably already know by now that I'm on a serious pallet wood kick. Maybe I'll get over it soon but for now it's free, easy to find, looks cool, and generally doesn't smell too bad. This is the latest installment in the apartment.
Our coat rack was pretty overworked so I came up with this simple alternative. I used various knobs that Sara's had on her dresser growing up, a piece of pallet wood cut to the size I wanted, two small pallet scraps to lift the piece off the wall a smidge, and some screws I had laying around. I took some of load off the coat rack and it really helped balance the room.
We traveled from Pärnu, Estonia and headed towards Riga, Latvia on an express bus. These buses are cool. They have super comfy seats, a fancy bathroom, wireless internet, and a coffee bar. They also make no stops between the point of departure and the destination. We didn't know that when we booked the tickets and we were meeting my Uncle in Baltezers, about 20 km outside of Riga. The bus driver didn't speak a lick of any language we knew and seemed unwilling to stop for us. It took a lot of persistince but we were dropped off close to Baltezers - on the side of the highway - with a dead phone - and with cars zipping past us at 100 km/h. We walked to a roundabout right off the highway and waited. Luckily Uncle Jerry is a smart guy and was able to find us, in the middle of knowhere, in under 25 minutes. From this point things only got better.
Let me give a brief summary of Uncle Jerry's story for all you viewers at home. Jerry moved to the Baltics in the early 90's with Peace Corps. He liked it, saw potential, and stayed. He eventually married a fellow Peace Corp volunteer, Denise, and settled in Riga where they are raising their 3 daughters. Denise teaches at the university and Jerry operates Rat Bastard Management (really). Despite the wiseguy name, the company is quite successful and Jerry is well acquainted with all the big whigs and scalawags. The combination of them having hookups and knowing their stuff makes Jerry and Denise incredible hosts. We were treated like kings.
They took us out in Riga, for hands down, the most lavish night of my life. I didn't get real pics because I was too busy enjoying the evening. First we visited Taka Spa. Incredible. I'd never been to a spa before and this place was crazy. You start in the dressing room (which is crazy fancy) then you head out to the 'pools and baths' and hang out go in between the sauna, steam room and three different temperatured pools. 45 minutes of just relaxing. Next - hot stone massage. So dope. Who needs adderall? Get me a massage and I'll hear every word you say! After the massage, they send you to a quiet room to drink tea and eat biscuits and crap. Sounds ritzy fritzy but I loved it. You won't find a spa like this in Atlanta, I checked.
After the spa we went to an upscale restaurant around the corner that was called La Boheme, I think. Whatever it was, it was delicious. This is a meal I remember for a while. Great food in great company and there were little fly's painted in the urinals. Target practice!
Latvia isn't known for it's food, but Jerry and Denise sure know where to go get some serious grub. I have never eaten better than my stint in Riga.
Jerry and Denise really hooked us up with this one - the executive suite. I never imagined I'd stay at place like this. This was a brand new hotel and it looked spectacular from the outside. When we walked through the revolving doors, I became a kid again. Everything was exciting and new. The room was insane. Two bathrooms, two TV's, two showers, huge living area, office, huge bed, heated floors, heated towel rack, an amazing view of Old Town Riga, and our very own sauna. Nothing was cheapy, everything was top notch.
The people at the hotel said everything in the fridge and all the food was free or 'taken care of' in our room. I called the front desk three times to confirm, and then I completely took advantage of the situation. I left nothing behind. It was awesome - awesome until I found out that I was misinformed. Sorry Jerry!
We were in Riga for a few days and we saw/did much more. Next up, Jerry's furniture refurbishing shop and other fun things.
We've been busy and it feels good to always have things to do. Here's a shot from Buckhead Church's Walking Wisely weekend. Like everything this church does, this 'retreat' was well executed. It was an honor to be a part of. The kids went wild all weekend and it made for some great pics. It was a little tough to shoot in low light like this but I was up for the challenge. I have just under a thousand pics I need to sift from. Praise God for digital photography and Photoshop and extra praise for a wife who teaches me how to use them. Back to work, much to do.
we've neglected the blog this week (and recipe sunday for a couple), cause we've been busy! kc has been rockin' out some projects in the studio and i've got a couple side projects i'm designing for. still cranking at 9pm means lots of work getting done, except for a quick concert via ichat.
Grandma Wirth is a tough lady. She raised seven kids, held down a farm (cattle, corn, beans, you name it), battled pesty 'coons, traveled lots and lots, smoked a cigar, and fed several trillion cats. She can operate machinery better than me, and way better than you. She can also spit farther than any of us. She's a thoughtful host and my pop gives her credit to the best burger he'd ever had on one of his first visits to the farm. It kept him coming back for years (this story could be another blog entry itself). She always treated her (many many) grandchildren like adults and she never let us get away with nonsense. She has been known to be stern, however she is always just. She has rock solid faith and lives her life Bibically. A lot of life lessons were learned under Grandma and Grandpa's roof. My memories of growing up around the Wirths are awesome. I wish I could capture some of these feelings towards this place through a lens, but I'm just not that good yet.
Look out, she's about to learn you something.
Grandma has had arthritis for as long as I can remember.....but she can still play piano better than you. She'd played at church every week until a year or so back.
Cousin Arielle's baby Cayden. Grandma's been looking after this little guy for a few months while Arielle is working. Big time smiler. Big time observer. As soon as he learns to walk, he's probably going to steal your job.
This is Grandpa's arrowhead collection. He found all of these while working his farm, including the stone cross. All the arrowheads are in a large frame on the wall and I've studied it for years. I cannot get enough of it. They also have a super old piano and an awesome cane collection which have both fascinated me since I was a kid. I, however, failed to get pictures of them.
I miss my Grandpa. I think that everyone who knew him does. He was as wise as he was witty and as warm as he was plump. Grandma and him were on the same page and were a great couple. They raised a smart, honorable, fun bunch. I think Grandma misses Grandpa Joe more than anyone, but in his absence I feel like she's really lived. She's traveled with her sisters, she traveled on her own, she gives her time and money to people who really need it, enjoys screwdrivers and Kahlua, and she doesn't worry about petty things. I look up to, respect, and appreciate Grandma and had a good time just being able to be with her for a few days. It's a real privilege to be able enjoy and share my family with Sara.
That's it for Chicago this time. I can't wait to go back.
Thanks to brother Corey for doing all the driving and dealing with newlyweds. Anyone wanting to throw free film gear and software his way earns cool points.....