Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Big G

More nostalgia today as we attended a matinee of Pride and Prejudice at the Guthrie (thanks to a great program called PlayDates, parents can attend certain matinees at reduced prices while the kids are entertained upstairs — win/win!)

I couldn't even count the number of years I worked, off and on, in the Guthrie Box Office. Long enough for it to be a seminal part of my life. Long enough ago that the Dram was still in existence, you could smoke indoors, and Dodie still reigned supreme. Long enough I still live in mild terror of printscreens and of Lendre catching a typo. If the phones were not ringing we assembled mailings for Sue McClean's concerts or, in the ultimate make-work, assembled scratch pads. The ticketing software was tetchy and it was ALWAYS better to go in and find your patron the best seats from what you knew, rather than choosing a "best available" option. Theatre-lovers from all over the world would place their own calls to reserve seats, and it was not unusual to suddenly realize you were on the line with a TV or movie star who wanted to see a good show when they were in Minneapolis. The Guthrie had always been known for that.

Which is why, despite all the buzz of "OMG, a real TV star from Mad Men is in the show!" — I really appreciated the ensemble work of the cast. It's true, Vincent Kartheiser has excellent stage presence (he would not be where he is today without it). But he wasn't any better than anyone else in the cast, and I greatly enjoyed the performance (I'll also say I greatly enjoyed Clybourne Park last month on another PlayDate).

It's easy, when you are in theatre, to rail against the Guthrie. it's so much bigger than the other places in town, and just takes up so much bandwidth. But I have to say, it was a wonderful afternoon out.


After the show, we grabbed some ice cream at the new Izzy's store/factory just down the street. In stark contrast to the hot, crowded Izzy's on Marshall that generally means "summer" to me, this was almost deserted, cold, clinical, and rather soul-less. But the ice cream was still good.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


The last several nights, we've been awakened at 4:30am, every day. By different things, mind you — a cat with a UTI issue, a loud car stereo outside, Beatrix needing a glass of water, that kind of thing.

But 4:30 every day can get pretty wearing. It's not the right time to get up and get things done; no amount of coffee in the world would make me fully functional at that time. But it's also ridiculously hard to get back to sleep; I lay there for often up to two hours, tossing and turning, before I fall back asleep for 30 minutes and have to get up for real and start my day. I have a hard time getting back to sleep when awakened anyway, but be able to sleep through the night the last couple of weeks has been blissful, and coming back to the wake-ups is making me especially zombie-esque.

Kind of analogy for the rest of the day — when can you easily return to something, and when does it take you a long time to get back in the groove?

Monday, August 19, 2013

10,000 Towers

I first met Aldo Moroni about a million years ago when he made sculptures of the great theatres of the world for the Jeune Lune lobby. Ever since then, I have desperately wanted one of his sculptures. I love the alignment between art and architecture, I love his distinctive style, and I love spending time with him.

So I was especially excited when I saw on his Facebook page that he is doing classes. He has put together classes where people can make their own towers; the ultimate goal is an installation next year where, after everyone has made them and brought them home, they bring them back one day next year for a big art installation. I was especially interested to see that he was offering all-ages and family classes. So, last Saturday Beatrix, Patrick, my dad and I headed over to Aldo's studio and made towers!

It was really the most wonderful day I have had in quite some time. I am pretty intimidated by clay, but Also was generous and helpful in showing us how, and then provided just the amount of freedom/guidance in helping with tower construction and design. Beatrix made a Rapunzel tower, and the rest of us some more traditional ones, all of which had their own wonderful sensibilities.

Aldo's original web page for the class had promised:
Family classes are a great opportunity to share family stories and make art together. In our test classes we discovered that one of the most valuable parts of this experience are the conversations about your family history.  Kids want to know about the great grandpa or the place our family came from. This is an opportunity to create roots in the hearts of your young ones.
To be honest, I thought that was kind of promising a lot, but I was wonderfully surprised that it kind of held true. Working with the clay was a meditative experience, and as we built, we talked about all sorts of things — travel, things Beatrix likes to do, the development of the modern city...

I can't remember a time where I got to spend a few hours just creating something with my family, and the experience was one of the best things I have done in a long time. As excited as I am to see our towers once they are fired, and I'm looking forward to the installation next year, the best part of the experience was just spending that creative time together. I really can't express enough how transformative it was.


You should do it too! The links above lead you to some of Aldo's pages, and I think he is signing up with Living Social again soon if you like discounts. It would be great to have our towers stand together!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Out and About

We get out and do a lot of things together as a family. In fact, every day, Beatrix asks what we'll be doing that day after school (or "all day" if it's a weekend). As I have noted before, the Twin Cities have  a lot of free festivals and events, especially in the summer, so there is often something interesting to do.

For Christmas, my dad got us a membership to the Minnesota Historical Society, and one of our favorite things to do together is go to historic sites. Beatrix especially loves Fort Snelling, but she has enjoyed every place we've been, even the windy Jeffers Petroglyphs on a particularly frigid Memorial Day weekend!

Today, we had a chance to see the Purcell-Cutts house, thanks to a membership to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts that our friends Sommer and Hjalmer gave us (technically, the membership is expired, but since the home is only open a few weekends of the year, and since tomorrow is my birthday, they let us in). We've seen several Frank Lloyd Wright homes, but this was a particularly good example of lesser-known architects that was equally impressive and far more local.

Often my clients give me comps to shows, and this year we had Fringe Festival comps as a thank-you for billeting artists (and some of my clients, like Open Eye Figure Theatre, usually has free kids programming for everyone!) But a beloved annual tradition for us is the SEIU Zoo Day, in which union rents the Minnesota Zoo after hours for one day a year and the members can attend free. Beatrix's aunt and uncle took her to the zoo earlier this year, but usually it's an expense we just can't cover, so it's a particular treat to get there at least once a year and enjoy the animals together.

At times in the past we have gotten Renaissance Festival comps from friends; we have used the library passes to go to museums when that program still existed; my dad, who volunteers at the Bakken, has brought Beatrix there several times and brought us on a tour with the boys when they were much younger. We go to free Songs of Hope concerts and outdoor movies in the park. And we're lucky to have friends who are often up for fun family experiences, even if that is just meeting at Midtown Global Market to enjoy a variety of foods and the free music.

Which is all to say that for our family, getting out and doing a wide variety of things is a core value, and we have been exceptionally successful in making that happen on a shoestring budget. Come out and play with us sometime!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Buckets and Thoughts

Tonight we took Beatrix to "Buckets and Tap Shoes" at the Fringe, which she thoroughly enjoyed. For me, the show was enjoyable, but even more so, it set off a stream-of-consciousness series of memories.

Walking into the Music Box Theater (or whatever it's called now), and remembering when we first began to develop that space as the Cricket Theatre in the 1980s. At that time, the space was a moldy, run-down former meeting hall for the Jehovah's Witnesses I believe, or maybe Seventh Day Adventists. The balcony was almost falling in, and an interior room in the basement was painted in bright colors as a "Jesus Grotto." That project was a labor of love, and though the Cricket is long gone, I am pleased the theater still exists.

Watching the show, and thinking of when I first saw Buckets and Tap Shoes, nine years ago with Annie Cady. We saw tons of Fringe shows that year, and B&TS was the "Best of the Fringe" so we saw their crowded, steamy extra performance to a full and exuberant audience. The performers were young, raw, totally jazzed to be there. If I remember right, they were a last minute addition to the Fringe, something about running into Leah Cooper in the elevator at Hennepin Center for the Arts and agreeing to take a suddenly open slot. That was a great Fringe, and a great night.

Thinking about waiting in the returns line to see Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk even more years ago on Broadway, and a young, young Savion Glover with that same energy. That was the same trip where I saw Rent, and got to see my college friend Kristen burn up that stage with the rest of the cast.

Remembering some of the beginning days of the Fringe, seeing Kevin Kling at the Women's Club, the days when small audiences were the norm (and so pleased with how much they have grown!), sneaking out at lunch on a Wednesday to see a 1pm show (those must have been brutal slots). The original multi-show passes; I think one of them was even on a stick.

Leaving the show, and seeing my friend JP, and happy to know all the amazing performers and talent here. Walking past the building where my grandparents used to live. Thinking of summer evenings spent hanging around Loring Park, seeing Music and Movies in the park, drinking at the Loring, eating at Ye Gadz before it was the Loring. Feeling like I would always be young.

I highly recommend the Fringe. Not only do you get great shows (I fully expect Beatrix to develop a full tap routine tomorrow morning), but you get a free stream-of-consciousness memory trip with each order.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

We're Jammin'

Today, my friend Rebecca was kind enough to come over and teach me how to make jam. Here's the thing about Rebecca...she could have just sent me the recipe she uses, or given me some tips, or even pointed me to some blog posts, and called it done and I would have been grateful. But, being the kind of person she is, she simply said "Why don't I just come over, and we'll do it together, so you'll know how."

So I picked up some strawberries and basil and the other items on her list:

Cut them up, mashed them down, and mixed them with the pectin and the sugar and cooked until the jell had set:

Heated up the jars, put in the strawberries and the basil, then heated the jars in a hot bath:

And then, after carefully extracting them and after they had cooled enough to vacuum seal and create nine jars of strawberry-basil goodness:

Sunday, August 4, 2013


This week, because Beatrix had 3 days plus a weekend off school, she learned the term "staycation." She doubted me at first that it was a real word, but I think she had enough fun so that she will acquiesce the point to me now.

I always love Minnesota in the summertime, and am loathe to leave because there are so many greta things to do! I never seem to be able to go to all the festivals and events that I want to, but we did pretty well at it this weekend.

Wednesday we went to Fort Snelling, which may well be her favorite historic site. Seeing the fort through her eyes is always wonderfully enjoyable. Despite my migraine, we went to the neighborhood patio night.

Thursday she had a playdate with one of her BFFs, Alma. That night, we drove down to Hastings to see Black Dirt Theater's production of "Annie." They are one of my clients, and the production was fantastic, and we all had a lot of fun.

Friday was a pool party, and on Saturday we met our friends Rebecca and leah, and Leah's two daughters, at the Powderhorn Art Fair. I hadn't been to that particular art fair in years, and was surprised an impressed by how it had grown. Plus, we got to see Open Eye's puppet show.

That night, we went to see "Oz" at Circus Juventas — which was, of course, beyond fantastic. Beatrix was all dressed for the part:

Tonight, we saw two Fringe shows (Second Sleight and Heatwave), and ended the night with DQ per Beatrix's request.

Hard to believe it's back to the regular schedule tomorrow!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Front Window

I finished this project awhile back, but am just getting to posting it now!

The woodwork in the front room has bothered me since I bought the house in 1993. So we finally got it scraped and sanded, and I painted the window with some fresh new oil paint. Made a huge difference!

Now, on to the rest of the woodwork in the room...