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Why a House is More then Structure

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I've recently encountered a rather toxic person whose views on the built environment could not be more different than my own. Which got me thinking about our house on Summit. When we inherited it, we knew we wanted to use it to do good. And as I sit and think of what this house has been able to host, I'm pretty impressed:

-  A friend working in China, home for the summer.
-  The mother of a friend, who wanted to spend more time with her family. In fact, that has happened four separate times (with separate people).
-  My aunt and her friend, swimming almost daily.
-  Two different sets of circus artists moving here from abroad, and several that have just been here for workshops.
-  A short film based on Dessa's spoken word art.
-  A fashion photoshoot.
-  A short film.
-  Two weddings.
-  Several other families here attending weddings.
-  A friend's mother here for the birth of their child.
-  People coming for school reunions.
-  A missionary here for part of the summe…

Iceland in a Nutshell

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1 July, 2018 Delta flight was 4 hours late due to mechanicals so we were wrecked. Supposed to be a 10pm departure but instead 2am, so we lost a ton of time and sleep (did get to see Lean on Pete starring Charlie Plummer on the plane though, so not all was lost).
Got car from Sixt, drove along the water road to AirBnB, which was located on a farm outside of Hella. Stopped at black sand beach (not THE one, but A One). The whole way we remarked on the beauty — the lava fields! The shoreline! The mountains! The steam coming from the grouns! The Icelandic horses!


Grabbed some snacks in Selfoss — Lion Bars! Hobnobs!Liked the big Kronan store there.
Found AirBnB — loved it. The cottage was pristine — so clean, so spacious, so well outfitted. Amazing to have this whole space to ourselves. Napped an hour, and made a quick dinner (we had brought food to save money). Beatrix got to see the horses and the lamb (and dog of course).


Around 8:00 we drove up to Guilfoss to see the falls and Geyser (…

Re-Use

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Besides a bad back ache that's got me popping the advil like skittles, I'm feeling pretty mad-domestically-skilled right now.

Last night, I used foraged mulberries from Summit to make mulberry vodka and a mulberry shrub, both of which you can taste in about 4 weeks once they mature. I used nanny berries from the tree there to make a coffeecake, and cooked up several quarts of rhubarb simple-syrup (I really need my own rhubarb plant next year so I stop foraging firm everyone else's).

Today, in reading about Iceland, I realized that I really needed some better hiking pants that were more water-repellant — but I don't have the time or the cash to just run down to Patagonia. Patrick had a few pairs in the clothing exchange bag, however. So I grabbed a pair, pegged them along the inner seams, darted the waist, and took them up (they're still a leeetle long, but that's because I decided partway through that measuring was for chumps).

Not bad for a quick project, huh?

Diner en Blanc

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Last year, at about this time, friends of mine posted about their backup meal under the Lowry bridge when "Dinner in White" was cancelled due to rain. "Dinner in White," I thought, "What's that?" And so began my fascination.

Here's the story of how the whole thing started, should you want to fall down the rabbit hole the way I did.

In the Twin Cities, it's simpler — join the Facebook group (I think I needed an invitation to do so, IIRC), plan for the night, wait for the announcement of the site, show up.

Patrick was a little bit of a hard sell on it. But when Beatrix was invited to a sleepover that night, and I would not stop talking about it, he went out and bought a white shirt from UpSix Vintage, and graciously agreed.

It was our first year so we kept it simple. Just us, a folding table, 2 chairs, and a bag with some good alfresco food, a tablecloth, china, flower arrangement, candles. The site was announced — the Stone Arch bridge! — and we …

Whose Voices are We Hearing?

Last night I went to a presentation of the results from a historic survey conducted in a nearby Saint Paul neighborhood. It was generally a good presentation, with a lot of historic photos and some good rationale for areas for further study within the community.

One thing that really hit me, though, was the study's focus on demographic data. In many cases, the presenter would out up a slide of a house, call it the "SwensonJohnsonAnderson House," (for the original owners, which is standard preservation practice), and give a fair amount of detail about the owners, culled from sources such as the census, the Dual City Blue Books, and other demographic data  — along the lines of "Mr. SwensonJohnsonAnderson was a clerk for the Northern Pacific Railroad, whose family had emigrated to America from Sweden at the turn of the century."

To some extent, I understand this impulse. I know that the SHPO and Saint Paul HPC offices have asked for similar information from me in …

The Past and Other People

This month, for her book club (four ten-year old girls who have had a book club since kindergarten, it's pretty awesome, Beatrix picked my friend Kelly's book Magic, Madness, and Mischief. She and I had discussed it, and she wanted to read it because she knew Kelly, she was excited the book was set in Saint Paul, and she thought it would be cool to have her book club meet Kelly and ask him about the book (the fact we met in the cat cafe in Menomonie probably helped a little too).

Patrick, Beatrix and I read it aloud, round-robin style, which we have not done before — but we all wanted to experience the book. And I have to admit there were several times when I was glad my chapter twas over, because I was getting really choked up.

The books is a pretty thinly-veiled story of Kelly's own youth, at begins just at the time I met him (yes, I've known him for that long). The characters, and experiences, and especially the emotions brought back extraordinarily real memories, a…

Oh, Fern....

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(and on the other extreme...)

Fabulous Fern's, in Blair Arcade on Selby, closes tomorrow, and it's like saying goodbye to a chunk of my past.

For the last 26 years Fern's (and Tommy K's before it) was the neighborhood gathering spot. We all went there after neighborhood meetings, ordering drinks and apps, dissecting the meeting, and making the real decisions. I'll never forget the first time Marianne Lanick (O'Brien, replay) told me, after I chaired one of my first Neighborhood development meetings "We had a quorum at the meeting, and we settled it at Fern's afterward." The next meeting, she invited me along so I could learn how it really happened. If you, for some reason, did NOT attend the post-meeting meeting, you were liable to find a to-go box "present" of leftovers at your doorstep from a giggling crew later that night.

Until the smoking ban, Fern's smelled like the inside of an ashtray. For awhile, to separate the bar (smoking…