Monday, June 29, 2015

June Fail

In a lot of ways, June was a total fail. I participated in two online challenges — both about forms of personal growth — and came nowhere near my goals in either. One of my New Year's Resolutions was to really partake in living in Minnesota — which to me meant especially participating in festivals and events — and this weekend I missed both Pride and Jazz Fest. I have a plethora of house and garden projects to do, all of which are totally stalled and causing me no end of stress. The City of Saint Paul has free yoga in the park classes and I have not gone. I created nothing. I have not designed Inspiring Summer Learning Activities for my daughter. I have not even succeeded in a super-modest goal of spending an hour a week reading in a coffeeshop.

It's been a month of administrivia. It hasn't been a total waste; I made shrub for the first time, I managed to send off our contribution to the DFL before the state eliminates the reimbursement (you only have through tomorrow!), we made it up to the cabin, we hosted some pool parties and I attended some work receptions and got a few things organized. I dug up the back plantings so Patrick could take down the fence for the delivery of the new hot tub. I finished some 990s and majorly revised some bylaws. I attended a Saints game and Books and Bars and Cabarave at the Lab and got to sneak in a date night at the Half Time Rec.

All in all, though, it feels relatively minor.

When people ask me what I have been up to lately, I don't have much to say. It all seems rather small and boring. There's not a lot of there there, as Gertrude Stein would say.

But one friend did make me feel really good when I ran into her at an event the other night. We were discussing how we connect mainly on Facebook and I was envying her glamorous life (Walker roof seating for Rock the Garden! Exciting conferences! Reading great books and seeing great shows! Producing stellar art!) The *she* said how much she liked *my* Facebook presence (mainly pets and kids and shares of community posts, apparently boring enough to get another person to unfriend me). So either Kathleen is the most polite person on the face of the planet (which is a likely possibility), or perhaps its a case of everyone else's life seeming more exciting.

But still, I'm feeling awash in the small stuff.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

It's Not About the Flag

Because it's really not. A confederate flag is a symbol. True, there is no reason on earth it should be flying above a government building. But a glad is a simple thing that could (and should) be taken down. It's the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a toddler's scratch. It makes the situation seem better, but it does not in itself affect change.

What we need to do it to have honest, and real, and painful discussions about race, and the racial divide, in this country. We have to stop hate groups from profiting from their venom, and inciting others to join them. We have to fight the demon of poverty in this, the richest country in the world, which heightens racial issues. We have to teach people that violence is never the answer, or even an option. We have to demand responsible gun ownership in this country, so that no one ever gives an obviously disturbed young man a gun for his 21st birthday. We need to strengthen — no, we need to completely reinvent — mental health advocacy and services.

The confederate flag needs to come down for sure, and should have a long time ago. But it's not even a first step in this, and we're fooling ourselves if we act like it is, or if we don't do the real work because we got distracted by a symbol.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Number 9

Nine years ago tonight, in a candlelit ceremony at the old Nautilus Music-Theater space, I said "I do" to Patrick Rhone.

Nine is not ten, or the big anniversary years of 25 or 50. For nine years, the traditional gift is pottery or willow, which seems rather an afterthought. We even had trouble getting together our plans to celebrate tonight.

But nine is very, very big in a lot of ways. My parents marriage lasted nine years. In my first marriage, we separated a few months before our ninth anniversary. So in this case in particular, I think that nine is pretty important.

Happy anniversary, honey! It;'s been a long and crazy nine years, but amazing ones too!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Things I Suck at That I Did Anyway

(of course, you are thinking that I can't possibly suck at anything, right?)

Just about 9 years ago my mom did a massive landscaping project at the Summit house. Pretty much every day I curse those landscapers (message me if you want to know who NOT to use!) for their maintenance-labor-intensive, strangely planned design.

The ne bright spot is the row of magnolias in the front yard, and for 1 week each year when they are in bloom we have the prettiest house on Summit. But underneath was a wild overgrown forest, so earlier this week we hired a fantastic husband-and-wide pair to clean it out.

But that left the hydrangea dividing and replanting to me. And here's the thing; much as I figuratively dig myself into holes all the time, I super-suck at it in real life. I lack the strength to dig a deep hole, and the footwear to push down hard on the shovel. I always pick the spot with the most roots and usually some giant rock buried about 8" down. I dig, and then I go in with a trowel, and then dig some more, and swear, and curse, and make up tweets that my feed is glad I don't publish.

I'm so bad at it that it took me almost 3 hours to divide and replant 8 hydrangea. And I still don't know what I am going to do with the rest of it.

The other thing I suck at is house parties. My mom used to sell Amway (really, she did), so generally I see house parties and run fast the other way. But my friend Heather, who I admire greatly, just became an Usborne Books consultant — I love the books, and wanted to help her out. So with trepidation, I agreed to hold a party last night.

It turn out to be a ton of fun! It was very low-key — friends just stopped by, and saw the books, and drank wine and ate cupcakes, and we got to talk about books and life and people got to meet each other and it was great. It was very different than other house parties I have been to, and I think everyone had a lot of fun.

(if you still want to order, I have a directed link open through midnight tonight at

Neither of these things seem like much, but they were way out of my comfort zone. And I'm glad I did them!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Relocating "Hostages"

If you know my gardening proclivities at all, you know that I hate hosta. I have always sworn not to have them in my garden, disparaged them as "hostages," and the like.


There's a muddy spot at the Summit house by the porch, where it's super-shady and nothing will grow. It's generally hidden, but you can see it while sitting on the porch. So today I collected some free hosta from a neighborhood board, and relocated them there. They don't actually look too bad — better than the dirt at least!

I also planted a climbing rose (also free from the neighborhood board), and over the weekend, we planted a fewcheery geraniums (NOT free!) in the front planters. The match the new porch furniture nicely.

One thing I have to do is to figure out what to do with the beds that surround the porch. I think the landscapers were under the influence of something when they designed them. The yews are out of control, and then in front of them is catmint, with spirea in front of THAT (which makes no sense at all). The spirea grows up and totally hides the catmint (well except for this year, when the spirea just looks dead…)

Any of my garden-savvy friends have any ideas for what to do with this? I'll offer pool time and a bottle of wine to whomever comes up with something viable!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Tortoise and the Hare

You would think, by my lack of posting this month, that I had been working even more hours than usual.

Actually, I took a cue from last year, when I discovered how insanely busy May is with the end of the school year. We had circus (6 shows this year!) and dance performances, a piano recital, and her brownie bridging ceremony. We had school field trips and year-end projects, and the long Memorial Day weekend. We got a kitten and began dog training classes. We began a plethora of house projects. And even with that, and consciously ramping down for the month, I still billed at almost 80%, wrapped up a few projects, and caught up in others.

I'm happiest, though, in the various small projects we got done. Thanks to a holiday gift from my dad, we got a picture framed and worked on some other ones. We worked hard to create a beautiful backyard at Ashland, including amazing lights and planters and a wood bin for the firepit. I made some great cocktail syrups. We cleaned through a lot of Beatrix's outgrown clothes. We hung a bar light at Summit, painted some ceilings there, and bought a new hot tub. We planted the vegetable garden and gave away mulch and a compost bin (there's still mulch, if you need it! Let me know!) We cleared out some things we no longer wanted, which made room for some beautiful new items acquired from a friend selling his home. I learned how to make a ramos gin fizz and perfectly crack shellfish. I went to some great parties. I participated in a Crappy Day Gift Bag exchange with online friends, and have not had to crack a single gift in my bag yet.

All in all, I'm calling May a success.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend Done Right

Summer is my favorite season, and so Memorial Day weekend, the kickoff to summer, is always wonderful But this year, it's been especially great.

We kicked it off Friday with a wonderful pool party — so happy to be able to share our home with friends and neighbors!

Saturday was Beatrix's first star class at circus, which she loved ("Mama, I wish I had star again tomorrow!"). Then we headed out to Dave's Brew Farm for a wonderful afternoon of great beer and hanging out, even if it ended up with an epic tantrum for Beatrix. (the farm is for sale, anyone interested?)

Sunday we went to our friends' Kevin and Sarah's for a kid-friendly happy hour, and then a dog training class for Coya where she made huge strides. Beatrix is turning out to be quite the junior dog handler!

Then today some time with the Hair Goddess and one of my BFFs, before heading out to Magen's "Memorial Day Shenaningans." Finally, ended the weekend with Jake's amazing MEAT FEAST, featuring a crawfish boil (and where I also learned hot to make the perfect Ramos Gin Fizz, take that, #summerofgin!). Here's our amazing New Orleans girl showing you how it's done:

(Also, got some painting touch-ups done at Summit, hung a light at the bar there, and planted a whole bunch of planters. Not bad for a weekend's work!)