It's Sunday. I should be at church because I've been swearing I would get there more regularly, but alas, coffee in my pajamas at home appears more holy to me at this moment. I decided to get the blog established for us instead. Tonight, I hope we will get to raise a final toast your family's new beginning in California at one of our downtown Madison drinking establishments. Then, you'll be off tomorrow morning, jamming the podcasts and making that little Toyota van with the braided rug your home base for a little while. I will stay here in our Near East Side Madison environment and keep working and holding down my homestead.
This past Thursday, we went for Mexican food with both of our families -- a twist on our "beans and rice night" tradition. Instead of you cooking one of those amazing pots of Mexican beans, which never disappoint, and which have been almost a weekly staple for our little family weeknight dinners together, we loaded up and drove across town to a restaurant. I promptly ran out of gas with the two teenage young men in my car and we got to have a little adventure of going to fill a gas can with the little kids in your van while the two teenage young men stayed in my broken-down car devotedly continuing with their gaming on their respective Droid phones. My own lovely daughter Madeline informed me that as I filled the gas can at the gas station, you and the three little kids got a good laugh out of me bending over and inadvertently exposing part of my ass and undergarments to the entire busy street. Awesome.
Anyway, dinner was sweet, and distinctly NOT sad, but joyful and celebratory, with all five cool kids, and you and your great man. The excitement of your new family adventure was palpable for us all.
If you recall, this past Thursday was originally "penciled in" for a kegger at your empty, cleared-out, ready to sell house, which I had offered to throw as a little send-off for all of you. At the last minute, you astutely realized that this type of formal gathering to monument your years in Madison and to mark the end of one era and beginning of another was bound to be just dreadful in its demands on all of our respective emotional constitutions. I am so glad you came to this conclusion. As you said, better to just "slip out the back door."
If you recall, I had already drafted an e-mail invite to all the usual suspects to run by you, and I wanted you to have that for a rainy day (well, OK, maybe there are no such things in San Diego), or rough day when you are out there trying to build your homestead up and have your place out there. I think it will serve as a reminder of all you were able to do so fluidly and on your own terms here in Madison. I think why people are really going to miss you is because you did something different here, and while you were here, gave people a totally different and fresh idea of what could be done in this otherwise often utterly predictable town. Anyway -- here's the invite. It never went out to the masses as an invite, but let it serve as a reminder to you of your personal and family accomplishments, abilities, and admirers in Madison. And, for those masses that might read this, they too will have the chance to be reminded, if only through a very small re-cap, of the Shotwell impact on Madison. And oh yeah -- you totally have a raincheck for the party as an "Abby and Frank are visiting Madison!" party, for when you pay us a visit.
OK, girl -- ball's in your court. I look forward to your post.
Please join me and other friends and admirers of Frank and Abby Shotwell and their fine young men, Henry, Jimmy, and Charlie, in a warm send-off before the Shotwells take residence in Southern California.
The Shotwells have consistently provided us all a porch to perch on, a long inviting kitchen table to spin a yarn around, an enduring and unique aesthetic in both of their near east Madison homes, and a few throw-down parties that I know I for one will never forget. The collective artistic contribution of the Shotwell family to Madison has been of great value, and will be sorely missed -- taffy pull installation/parties, thespian performances of all sorts, improv comedy, Halloween costumes worthy enough to be called "art", kids' art clubs and all of their, claymation videos, enchanting piano music, DJ performances that pulled us up and shakin', felt toys of the most whimsical variety, performance art involving freshly baked cookies and cotton candy, a short feature film with Henry Shotwell as leading actor -- the list goes on.
Let's celebrate the time we've had to share Madison with the Shotwells, and commit to keep some of that funk they gave us in our hearts and lives even as they depart for sunnier climes.
Please come to the Shotwell residence, on Thursday, April 14th, at 6 p.m. Bring a dish and best wishes to pass, and consider bringing a folding camp chair since the house will be mostly cleared out by then. We'll provide a keg each of beer and root beer and send them off with that good Wisco style to help them remember our fine culinary and drinking tradition, even as they delight in the superior health benefits of the macrobiotics and kombucha of California.
You all thought the L.A. Times was referring to Wisconsin's forfeiture to California of federal high-speed rail funds when it declared in a December 2010 article -- "thanks a billion, Cheeseheads". Maybe somebody out there had a lead that they were going to get the Shotwells, on second thought.