Friday, May 23, 2014


So my very first New Year's Resolution was:
To do at least one project in each home that restores the home's sense of spirit.

Finally, yesterday, we were able to get a start on that by having the well-worn floors at Ashland done.

Refinishing the floors had been one of the first things we had done, so almost 20 years ago. And we are hard on floors, but moving everything out to have them done is hard as well. So I got a Groupon for a low-impact refinishing, and we were pretty happy with it.

First, the guy gave them a light sand (with a vacuum pack, so no dust everywhere). Then, he put on a light finish that smells like linseed oil (not in a bad way). We could walk on them with socks in 4 hours, and we can put furniture back today, though we may wait a little longer for most of it.

I have to say it looks pretty good. Not as great as having them refinished, but they are thin wood anyway, and you can't have them fully re-done too often. But definitely better.

Yay for New Year's resolutions!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Rainbow Cake Book Club

My book club has been meeting for over 20 years. Beatrix's has been meeting for only a few months, but they are gaining an edge!

Their meetings are half talking about the book, then a treat, then playtime — also not so different than my book club (though mine doesn't always discuss as much as we should). This month, the girls read one of the Rainbow Fairy books, so Beatrix and I decided the activity should be rainbow-based.

We made a rainbow cake for the treat. It was pretty easy — mix up a regular white cake, then divide the batter into 6 bowls (we skipped Indigo) and color with food coloring. Getting the colors right was tricky, but Beatrix really worked at it:

Then bake in a bundt pan:

And voila!

For the activity, we discussed rainbows and how they are made. Then we did a science experiment where we put a black line on a coffee filer and observed how the water rose through it:

Finally, we discussed what happened in the book.

It was a lot of fun, even though it was jammed into an already busy weekend!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

If You Don't Go to Other Peoples' Funerals….

Yesterday, I went to my friend John's dad's funeral. Yes, I've reached the part of my life where I'm starting to attend the funerals of my friends, and in some ways I'm glad I've already been through my mother's death and know exactly how important friends' support is.

These funerals can be very conflicting, however, especially with my high school relationships. Above all, we were (and are still), loyal to each other. And in high school — when you stand by your friends — you are often therefore standing against their parents, as you all grow and mature and test limits together. (Perhaps even more so with divorced families).

Now at some point, we generally all get past that. Our identities are formed by what we do ourselves, rather than how we stand in contrast to our families. We establish a grown-up relationship with our parents. But this is an intensely personal, individual experience, and usually even our closest friends are not involved.

And then, by this point of our lives, our parents age, and even start to pass on. And you sit in a pew in a church that you did not even know your friend's family attended. You gather together with people of all ages. You listen to people sharing memories, and are surprised about all the things you did not know about that person's life. And suddenly your relationship with your friend deepens, even beyond that early loyalty, to one that understands and honors that friend in a new and more complex way.

And that is why you go to friends' parents funerals.

(and by the way, I love you, John.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Earlier this year I got to make delicious maple syrup from our tree. Now, thanks to our neighbor dropping some bounty by, I get to make rhubarb syrup for my favorite drink, rhubarbaritas!

Basically, you just boil up some simple syrup with chopped up rhubarb until the rhubarb disintegrates. Pour through some cheesecloth and refrigerate.

Then, mix 1:1 with some tequila and some lime juice, salt the rim of your glass, and you're ready to go! (I've been known to add some tonic to cut it a little and to reduce the alcoholic content of my evening a smidge.)

My friends Sean and Nicole might be giving me some rhubarb plants, so you never know — next year, it may be all rhubarb all the time!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Continuing Education

It's self-dubbed "learning month" at Gladhill Rhone LLC.

It started out last weekend with the IFP Filmmaker's Conference.

Then, today was BushCon. Patrick spoke as part of the Ignite presentation, and I may or may not have borrowed his badge to attend some of the presentations myself.

At the end of the month, we are both attending the Top Coast Festival; I don't have any illusions that it's going to be the Aspen Ideas Festival, but I'm looking forward to getting a couple of days of thinking things through with my honey.

In between, I'm trying to fit in Spanish lessons on Duolingo, take some online accounting courses, and maybe even watch a few Ted Talks. Plus seeing Behind the Eye this Thursday, and hopefully attending How Dare You! afterwards.

There's always room for more. Tonight Beatrix and I learned about jellyfish for her report. I'm trying to be onscreen less and read more. Today my friend Lindsi posited that a tasting flight at a taproom could be an educational experience, and I am inclined to agree.

What else should I be learning about?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day - It's Complicated

I had it in my mind to write about the various internal conflicts that Mother's Day causes for me every year — in terms of loving my daughter, missing my mom, and wishing my daughter could celebrate with grandmothers. But I've written it all before, and I don't have much new to say.

But Patrick works hard every year to make it great, and I got lovely gifts, and got to spend the day with my family and not doing work, and we had dinner at Smack Shack, and that was in the end a special kind of wonderful.

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful mothers I know (and to all those with mothers — see, that's everyone!). Because really, it gets a little complicated for us all.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May Day Sunday

If you've asked me what I've been doing lately, I've likely said "working a lot." So it was fantastic to just take a day off today and enjoy new things with my family!

We started the day by hitting Glam Doll Donuts. I've resisted going there because it seems *so* hipster; I was afraid it would annoy me even if I enjoyed the donuts. But I am happy to report that my fears were for naught — the donuts were delicious, but most of all the staff so nice and the atmosphere so welcoming that my hips fear that I will be become a regular….

From there, we went over to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. In an earlier post, I had had "Attend Art in Bloom" on my Minnesota Bucket List, so we really wanted to see it. So did about 10,000 other people (well, a good thing that people love museums, right?) And the way the flower arrangements reflected the pieces selected really was incredible. I wasn't as crazy about the big show pieces by various garden centers, but Beatrix loved a fairy one (of course).

From there, we headed over to the HOBT Mayday Parade. Hardly a new experience, but we had not been in several years due to crazy circus schedules in early May and the like. It never seems like spring has really started without Mayday. Also, is there anyone in that part of town who can't walk on stilts?

We skipped the pageant, though, to head back to the MIA — today was the last day of a special with FREE Matisse exhibit tickets if you checked in on Foursquare. We had really wanted to see the show, but could not muster the $50 tickets for 3 of us. The show was crowded as well, but one of the better exhibits I had seen there recently. Beatrix and I especially enjoyed the "Odalesques" room, but also had a lot of discussions about what constitutes a still life, why artists sketch before painting or cast rough pieces before a fins statue, and how Matisse changes from painting to paper cutting as he grew older. At dinner tonight Beatrix decided she wanted to be an artist's model when she grows up.

Also noted, we need to spend more time at the MIA! Though being in that area feels like an old imprint of time — as many changes as there have been, just walking down the path through the MCAD campus, or entering the double doors the Institute shares with CTC, always evokes an incredible sense of being home — making today even more of a mix of old and new.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

What Is It That You Do, and Where Can I Download It For Free?

It's time to acknowledge that we really are in a brave new world when it comes to online media.

As I drove into work this morning, Weekend Edition was discussing "pay to play" on online content, specifically Slate's new "Slate Plus" subscription model. It's remarkably like a public radio membership, right down to the free mug. What really struck me was the honesty of the NPR commentator, that Slate had risen to be a very real "competitor" in a sense to NPR.

Then, I headed in to the IFP Minnesota Filmmaker Conference, where the keynote speech was by James Belfer of Dogfish Accelerator, discussing production financing models for indie films (a great keynote, by the way, because "Where is the money coming from?" is kind of crucial to any project.) James is a kind of scruffy, indie guy himself, and the conceit of his talk was about myths and realities in film production — and he was very clear that he had learned many of these lessons the very, very hard way. In the hour I was there I took away eleven great points, so expect some more blog posts about them soon. But one of his key points was about the myth of access, and how giving things away can actually, counter-intuitively, increase your sales.

I didn't need to be converted on that point. It's been a point of discussion between Patrick and myself for a long time. I love coupons, and will happily buy any toothpaste that's on sale; a free tube of it will not convert me to  lifetime of preference. But give me a sense of what you are doing artistically, and nine times out of ten I'll be back. Let me download the first book in your series for free and I'll get hooked and buy the rest (heck, Kindle, this even works with sample chapters!); comp me to your best play and I bet I'll be back for the the next one; give me a free song download and I've purchased the whole album on iTunes before you know it. Even better, this more basic, accessible platform allows me to try out new artists I had not heard of before, and allows those artists to reach out to me in new ways. I know I'm only one data point, but I know I'm not alone.

The interesting thing is that, as I was tweeting conference remarks, and a tweet from Rainbow Rowell comes up in my stream (full disclosure, I think Rowell is an incredible author). The tweet reads:
When people complain about having to pay for art or content, I think, "What do you do for a living? Where can I download that for free?"
And just like that, I'm realizing that this whole thing is not so simple. I'm a fervent advocate of artists being paid for their work. But I'm also a believer in empowering them to reach out to their own audiences, behind the Oz-like curtain that distributors and other publicity can become. I think artists are all the stronger when they take their relationships into their own hands — yet I understand that not all want to do so, or have that as their skill set.

How to reconcile the two?