Sunday, August 2, 2015

There's No Business Like Show Business...

August is always a crazy month. Along with the waning down of summer, AND my birthday, it's always a month with a ridiculous amount of shows to see thanks to the Fringe and other events.

Last night we went to see 1001 Nights at Circus Juventas. Yes, I work for the circus and I am their biggest fangirl. Yes, Beatrix has been taking classes since she was two and was totally enthralled by the whole thing. Yes, Patrick is volunteer rigging for the show. But don't take our word and involvement for it. See it for yourself — there are just a few tickets left!

This is the deal. The CJ shows are always amazing. They are visually stunning, with gorgeous music — but the main draw is always the incredible acts that the dedicated youth performers perform. But I especially loved this show for how it combined all those elements. I'm lucky to be able to work with these people, but you don't need that kind of luck to get involved. You should just see the show, trust me!

When we can, we like to host out of town artists for the Fringe; we've also hosted for other events, like an accordion festival. It's a great way to meet new people and learn about their art, and to feel like you are doing something to help out (if this has inspired you to do so, contact the Fringe office early next summer and inquire about "billeting" — no pay, but you do get some comps). But here's out little secret — in the last several years of hosting, we have actually never seen our guests' shows. It's usually a matter of time, and family-friendliness, and the like.

But this year, the performer are this awesome trio from Massachusetts (hey, how could that go wrong?), and the show, called "Fruit Flies Like a Banana" looked super-fun, so we kept Beatrix up late another night and attended.

And I am so glad we did! The show was incredibly fun, and very innovative, and Hilary, Greg, and Neil are wicked talented! (sorry, another Boston thing there, just came out). I have seen a lot of very good Fringe shows over the years (and maybe some duds too), but this one was by far the best. It sold out tonight, they have just three more performances — YOU MUST GO.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Backyard Movie Nights

My friend Julio's blog post on his backyard movie nights. We have been the beneficiary of many of these, and they are wonderful events!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cottage Living

Before we went up to Maine for Elaine and Richard's wedding, we crossed an item off my bucket list, by visiting the "summer cottages" in Newport, Rhode Island (you'll remember we road-tripped out to Asheville, NC to see Biltmore a couple of years back, so we figured we might as well see the Vanderbilt's summer place).

It was the perfect way to start a vacation. We pulled up to our charming B&B in the heart of town, and then walked down to the harbor to have our first — of many — lobster rolls of the trip. As we ate outside on a dockside patio, with late evening sun, it felt like another world.

It felt even more so the next day as we zipped through five of the mansions cottages. Of course we started with The Breakers, which was really all we had hoped and more. However, Marble House and The Elms were not too far behind! Perhaps everyone's favorite, however, was the gothic cottage styled Kingscote, one of the earliest of the summer homes. (or last stop, after lunch, was the topiary gardens just outside of town).

We all enjoyed pretending we lived in the homes, picking out which room would be ours, etc. But what really struck Patrick and myself was the craftsmanship. Let's face it, we have many families today who are, comparatively, as wealthy as the Vanderbilts, Berwinds, and Kings were.True, we don't now live with scores of servants and multiple houses (ahem, well, usually…). But where did that kind of amazing creativity go? That love of home that made you want to get every detail perfect, and then entertain to share that with others? It's a great, great loss.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Creating Community

We've spent the last week on the East Coast, out here for my best friend Elaine's wedding.

It's been a week to spend a lot of time thinking about community. On either side of the wedding, we got together with friends who previously we had only "known" on the internet. Beatrix made friends with their kids (she is now pestering for texting and email on her iPad so she can stay in contact), and we had a fantastic time with people we got to know deeper than online relationships can allow.

For the wedding itself, we shared a house with my other best friend, Jennifer — and her family, and our mutual friend Melissa. You would think, after being someone's friend for over 30 years, after knowing her family, after appreciating her husband and children, there would be nothing new left to gain by hanging out for the week. But that would be wrong — they are still at that beach house as I write this, and I desperately wish we were still there laughing and hanging out with them. I feel so very lucky to have them in our lives (and Beatrix thinks their daughter Kelsey is The Best Person In The World).

But it was the wedding itself that really created magic. It was small, about 45 people, and held in Kennebunkport, Maine, where Elaine's grandmother had lived and where she spent summers. Her brother and sister-in-law still live there in the family home. People came from all over: Elaine and Richard and his daughters and friends from Indiana, her parents from DC, his family from Maryland, college friends from New York, some of us from Minnesota, and several places in between.

And I don't know how they did it so well, but over those few days, Elaine and Richard created an awesome little community. A group of those of us that were the closest to them, who will support them in their lives together and who all valued being in this special place to share the day with them. People who forged other relationships with each other, and who now have these relationships and that experience to base them on. People who I now know and value and understand why Richard and Elaine thought it was so important that they were there for their wedding.

I am very, very lucky to be part of this tribe. And we all need this sense of community.

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!