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Showing posts from April, 2014

Summer?

Patrick says posting a list is cheating. But the truth is I am (more than a little) swamped right now, but I've been dreaming of summer. The snow outside is not helping. So, these are some things I'm looking forward to — a Minnesota bucket list of worst, since they are all things I have not done, or not done in quite some time, or want to bring Beatrix to:

-May Day! (Beatrix has not been since she was young) -See a lighthouse (this is Beatrix’s) -Museum of Russian Art -Subscribe to a CSA -Go to a Saints game with Beatrix -Asian restaurants on University -Canoe on Lake of the Isles -Attend Books and Bars -Eat at La Belle Vie, Heydey, Zentral, Sea Change -Northern Spark -Art Fairs: Uptown, Edina, Powderhorn, Eagan, Loring Park -Art in Bloom -Canoe the BWCA -Taprooms -Swedish Institute -A film festival -MN Wild game -Outdoor summer concert like Rock the Garden or Basilica Block Party -MN Zoo concert -Summer festivals: Stone Arch, Pride, Bastille Day (you get the gist) -Outdoor movies

Easter Syrup

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After a busy weekend of getting together with lots of rarely-seen friends, Easter was rather low-key. Patrick had family obligations and went to Mass (long story), while Beatrix and I celebrated renewal by raking out and cleaning up the garden beds.

We also did a lot with our latest hobby — making maple syrup! We have a large maple in the backyard, somewhere between 50-100 years old. I've been on a foraging kick since last fall, so Patrick got me some taps for Christmas. With the cold sticking around, we've been able to tap quite late in the season, though I think we are reaching the end.
This is how the sap looks when it comes from the tree:

It's quite thin, but does have a little bit of sweetness to it. We get about a gallon a day, and would likely get more if we were more attentive to it.
We boil it down on the outside grill until it's quite reduced:
Then, we bring it tint the kitchen for the final reduction, which is where it gets a nice carmel-y color (except when…

Cinderella

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Cinderella Ball at Randolph Heights today. Parents were expressly forbidden, except my friend Heather  was the photographer for the event and snuck some shots to me:




Ecology and Technology

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As I write this, I’m sitting in a snug, paneled mountain lodge cabin. The rain falls heavily outside, rare for the dry season. It started while we were just on a horseback ride, and the rain falling on the surrounding jungle as we rode was resoundingly primeval.
Costa Rica is based on eco-tourism, and it’s far more than lip-service; it’s a true core value. There is a strong concern about waste, and carbon footprint, and general human impact. Even in the much more touristy places we’ve been — heck, even on the public beach — there have been recycling sorting systems that put the US to shame (seriously, if a small beach town in Costa Rica can easily sor, why is it so hard on Grand Avenue, and why do we need single sort?)
Trogon Lodge where we are now, a small mountain lodge in San Gerardo de Dota, takes this to a wonderful extreme. We’re in a small cloud forest, one of the two places in the country where the quetzal bird flourishes. Hummingbirds dart between the beautifully landscaped…

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

One thing that keeps on throwing me for a loop is how similar-yet-different Costa Rica is to so many of the other places I have travelled. I’ve been to a good many tropical/semi-tropical countries — Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines — but all long ago, when they were very different countries, and when I was at a very different part of my life. Those travels involved backpacking through busy train stations clutching a worn Lonely Planet guide, and hanging out on the beach selling sunglasses, and staying in rabbit-warren like hostels, and negotiating some very rough parts of very third-world countries. It was a magical time of my life that I am very grateful for; but until I got here I did not realize what a very visceral meaning tropical travel had for me, of negotiating and determining and encountering and being.
Now, half a lifetime later, I am in likely the most beautiful tropical paradise I have ever encountered, and it is a very, very different exp…

Why We're In Costa Rica

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(well, in this picture we are actually just over the Nicaraguan border, but…)

One of the conversations we had when discussing whether or not to have a child was about travel. We both really love to experience new places, and Patrick in particular was looking forward to having the freedom to go some of the places he had longed to go. My parents always valued travel, and we went all over the world together, so to me, travel and having a child did not seem exclusive of each other. So, we made the decision that we would simply continue to make travel a priority.

When Beatrix was a baby, we went to Norway and Cancun, but our recent trips have been road trips (upstate NY and Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Orleans, etc.) and one Disney World vacation. When we looked at spring break this year, we decided it was time to brig that travel card back in. Costa Rica had been high on my list for 20 years, and Patrick was intrigued, so that's what we decided.

A few months later, here we are!…