Sunday, August 30, 2015

Summit Garage

It was a busy weekend, but I still found time to get a couple of projects done at Summit that had been bothering me for a long time!

For as long as I can remember, the garage trim at Summit has been in really bad shape. I mean a *long* time, like it looked this bad while my mother has still alive:


So, using some special pains called "Endure" that promises to make a super-strong protective film and last basically forever, I finally painted the trim:




I also added a little raspberry/blackberry patch along the side (thanks to Jennifer for the raspberries and an online listing for the blackberry bush, which has been on my wish-list forever.) Alley garden awards, here I come!
 Meanwhile, our neighbors trimmed their spreading birch, which suddenly made our yard feel much bigger for some reason:

Maybe the biggest win of the weekend, however, was inside, where Patrick fixed the broken shower door. Bathtastic!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fair Warning

I come from Fair-blood. Several of my past relatives were board members or other officials, and my mom first left me, at 10 days old, in the care of others to go out on her annual pilgrimage to pronto pups and mini donuts. Heck, I remember when you could only drink beer in the approved beer gardens!

Patrick and I have many great Fair memories as well, from our first time together (when it rained before we could get any Sweet Martha's cookies), to taking Beatrix as a baby and having her be enthralled with the horses even then, to going with his Fair-loving dad (which made such an impression that to this day Beatrix claims "But we ALWAYS go with Grandpa Kenny!" when in truth we only went the one time.)

Usually we go in the morning, then go get some work done, then go back at night. But this year we only had this afternoon available, so it's what we did, going from 1-9:30. Our usual park-and-rides were full, but my awesome cousin, who lives nearby, is generous with her driveway for parking. So off we went.

We're far from Fair experts. We don't go every day, we don't live for the new food — in fact, I could not even remember them this year — and we have relatively few habits. This year, we even tossed aside the few we usually do, switching mini-donut vendors and eschewing the Dairy Building malts, that have gotten smaller and pricer simultaneously.

There's something about that freedom, though, that was great. We just walked around a lot, saw the dogs and the horses and the eco-building, people-watched, found the bench in memory of our friend's dad, and marveled at the number of landscape design places this year. Beatrix begged for cotton candy and did not eat it. Our favorite cheap pronto-pup place in the Midway was gone.

We did not plan, we just roamed, and it was great. It allowed us to have spontaneous moments with newborn cows, and with superheroes. We listed to Styx from their Grandstand concert (boy, are they old!) We found out that the Creative Arts Building is open late, and is absolutely dead and you can see everything at 9pm. I made a vow to enter something in the baking contest next year.















It was a perfect, rambling Fair day. And I wish that for all of you!



Wednesday, August 12, 2015

CatVidFest


The Internet Cat Video Festival was tonight, and awhile back I convinced Patrick that we should go to celebrate my birthday. Then I convinced Beatrix that the whole event was being held just for me….

So there we were at the new Saints stadium with 13,000 of our closest friends. We got there as the doors opened and it was a blast — cold beer (served by B's kindergarten teacher), people in costumes, giveaways, Barb Abney dj-ing, people-watching, really everything you could ask for.

The night got away from us somewhat when Beatrix and Patrick went to stand in the World's Slowest Face Painting Line. They got back just as the lights were going down for the main event — the videos!

I heard the curator on MPR today and he had some really good advice. Keep it short and to the point, keep people involved, end it at the high point…he should have listened to his own advice.

As befits cat videos, some were hilarious. Some were very touching. And the whole reel was only 70 minutes, so hey, easily sealable. But here's some advice — no one wants to see long music videos, or animation of cats. We are here to see cats doing stupid, crazy funny things. We want Dear Kitten, or the cat in the shark costume riding the roomba. Or we want cute. Give us those, and we are happy.

That said, I'm glad I went. It was a great night and  a good way to celebrate.

And I leave you with this….



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!

http://www.twincities.com/entertainment/ci_28561975/backyard-movie-nights-more-entertaining-with-the-right-gadgets

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.