Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Our Village

As many of you know, we've had a lot to deal with this week. Added to the normal work, and house project, and community activism, and last week of summer issues, our dog Geronimo is very ill, and we're treating him and not sure he'll make it.

Luckily, our friends and family have really helped. Our neighbors had us over for dinner (and margaritas!) over the weekend. My book club host gave us some yummy garden produce. Our friend and temporary roommate Sarah gave us her malt coupon from the State Fair coupon book. Our friends Julio and Jeaneth invited us to a "Frozen" viewing party, and then had Beatrix over yesterday for games and dinner, so we could get some things done. And today, my father took Beatrix down to the History Center for the morning, to which he reports "Being a grandfather is the best thing in my life!"

So thank you all (and so many more) — it truly takes a village, and we are very fortunate to be so supported!

ETA: And while I was typing this, someone refilled our pathetically bare Little Free Library as well!

Monday, August 25, 2014


Because when Julio and Jeaneth do movie night, they do it right.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Here I Am, At Camp Granada...

Beatrix's Montessori school was a full-year program, so this was the first year I dealt with summer camps for her. By mid-spring I was in full camp mode, with brochures spread out around me and color-coded schedules everywhere.  Now, in late August, I have the rare feeling of feeling like the rockstar mom, because Beatrix absolutely loved every camp she went to. They were:

YMCA Camp Daycroix - 3 weeks of traditional camp experience in Hudson (there was a bus).

Science Museum Camp Warner - the Science Museum has a nature center in Marine, where she tracked animals for the week.

Circus Camp at Circus Juventas

Australia/New Zealand camp at Artstart - 2 weeks at a great cultural camp, where she did everything from dance to felting.

Gibbs Farm Camp - this seems to be the favorite of little girls everywhere, and Beatrix was no exception.

Summer Blast at Edgecumbe Rec - the free afternoon program we used to fill in where we had some open spots.

Dance Camp - with Miss Amy at Community Ed.

Camp Curie - another Science Museum camp (held at St. Kate's), focusing on science for girls.

Music Theater Camp - another community ed camp, happening next week, half days.

It was a lot of different experiences, but that allowed us to cobble together some scholarship opportunities and discounts that really allowed all this to happen, and I think she liked the variety. There're were some periods in the middle (where were on vacation or whatever) where there were some open spots, and the half day camps, paired with Edgecumbe, were do-able but a little frenetic. We had originally felt there would not be enough just hanging around time, but at 6.5, Beatrix is too young to "hang around" much, so those days were actually harder.

We'll see next year, but it will probably be a variation on this year, and that feels pretty good!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

An Exchange with @MrJasonRBrown

It's been a tough week for Twitter. I feel fortunate that citizen journalists are broadcasting what's going on, especially in #Ferguson, but it makes for a tough stream. So today, I was happy ti see Twitter as a Force of Good….

A typical morning in the Gladhill/Rhone household. Patrick was working on a grant proposal, I was working on a budget. He asked if he could put on music, to which I said ok, and in a moment the first few strains of "The Last Five Years" began to play (which, I have to admit, made the spreadsheet easier).

A few minutes in, I wondered "I wonder what ever happened to Jamie and Cathy." Then, as I often do, I tweeted it:
Wanting to ask Jason Robert Brown where the Last 5 Years characters are 13 years later.
After a few more minutes, I realized there was a better way. So I looked up Jason Robert Brown's handle, and tweeted:
Hey, @MrJasonRBrown - what has happened to Jamie and Cathy 13 years later? 
To which he shot back:
@bethanyg Hm.  Let’s crowdsource.
Crowdsourcing the #L5Y sequel – 140 characters or less – what’s happened to Jamie and Cathy 13 years later? 
And then this happened:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Karma, as Related to Facebook Birthdays

Having just had a birthday, I can wholeheartedly agree with the almost-universal sentiment that the "Wish So-and-So a Happy Birthday" feature is the best part of Facebook. It's so easy for the well-wisherto do, while bringing so much joy to the recipient. And there's no reciprocation required!

Which brings to mind a recent discussion Patrick and I had about the current use of the term "karma." The term, which is actually difficult to pin down in Buddhism due to its many permutations, is dictionary-defined as:
noun: karma
  1. (in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.
But how many times have you heard the term bantered about as if it was some kind of exchangeable currency, something you can "build" now so you can "redeem" later? How often have you heard someone bemoan a situation, along the lines of "I've been a good person, why did this bad thing happen to me?" To some extent, it's become a mix of a sloppy understanding of these Buddhist principles with a kind of bastardization of the core Puritan philosophy of performing God's will so as to receive future happiness.

But think for a moment about how freeing it would be to make every good act a kind of Facebook birthday wish. Rather than patting ourselves on the back for every good deed we do, mentally counting karma up like goblins assessing gold in a vault, what of we just tried to do good, as much as possible, without any expectation for the future?

I've tried to put this idea into action since that conversation, and it's ridiculously hard — right after we had that conversation, we got pulled over for a speeding ticket, and then let off, and I wondered aloud if it was because we had just bought lunch for our friends. Karma fail. But as I've gotten used to the concept, I really like it. It frees me up, to try to do more good for more people, and also to choose NOT to do something for someone if it's just out of my capacity zone at that moment.

Because in the end, the ultimate measure for my judging myself is how much good I have done for others, rather than how much that might come back to benefit me.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Our fascination with lakes continues. These photos are from a great "social sail" our friends Eric and Rachel took us on last night on Lake Minnetonka. Eric is quite the sailor (and Rachel has certainly picked it up as well), but last night was about pure enjoyment. And what a perfect night it was!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


The middle part of the summer has been full of great mini-trips — two of them to the family cabin on Lake Osakis!

The first trip up was actually not so restful. The first night, Geronimo ate some of the mouse poison, which can be miserably fatal (hint: the way it kills rodents is it makes them bleed out). Luckily, thanks to the wonderful vets in Alexandria, he's just fine now. Here's us at the "Big Ole" statue in Alexandria, saying "GERONIMO LIVES!!!"

Our next time up was far more relaxing (despite the projects detailed earlier). For one, we went up on Thursday, after her camp, which gave us some time for the traditional Space Aliens dinner stop (what exactly do they put in those baked potatoes?), and shopping at the outlet mall.

Having 3 full days also made all the difference in the world. We had plenty of time to do our projects, and also to experience some of the nearby sights. We went into Long Prairie, to go to our favorite little antique place and to visit the freaky veterans' memorial park (the park also has a helicopter, a tank, an Iwo Jima mural, a bandstand, a black marble wall, and many concrete benches):

We finally went to the Panther Distillery ("the first LEGAL distillery in Minnesota"), which makes really good stuff. Patrick especially enjoyed the rye, but hey, for me it is still #summerofgin:

We also went on a side trip to this great farm called "Vintage Village" which has brought in and restored an old schoolhouse, plus moved in an old house and general store that are filled with antiques. There's also a gypsy caravan and a full farm with ducks, geese, chickens, goats, and sheep.

But most of all, there was time to hang around the cabin, catch frogs, go out on the boat, read, make M&M pancakes, wade in the (green) water, and play on the beach.

Best of all, there was time for lovely evenings making s'mores in the fire pit and appreciating the Supermoon:

Kind of idyllic, really...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Boathouse Project

You may not know that the family cabin we borrow is really a "complex." As well as the cottage, there is a boathouse, guest house, tool shed, wood shed, and outhouse — the thing being, they are all in one outbuilding! The main area is the boathouse/guesthouse (where, like in the main cabin, the two double beds are murphy beds). It had been quite some time since it had been cleaned out, and that was our charge for the weekend.

We are notorious for forgetting to take "before" pictures, but here is a during after we had removed: fire pit, canoe, paddles, mower, boar gear, boat ladder, float anchor and other gear, a chair, over 20 inflatables, 4 badminton sets, beach toys, topsoil, weed whip, gas can, fishing gear (including bamboo poles), pipes, boat tarp, birdbath stand, "luggable loo", tarps, pieces of wood, pipes, lifejackets, 2 stepladders, folding chairs, and other items:

So step one, clean out all the dirt and debris. That's washing down the ceiling and walls, replacing light bulbs, cleaning the floor twice — you get the picture.

Then we employed Patrick's great organizational system to hang up various things so you could get to them easily. We had really wanted to hang the canoe, but it's actually longer than the boathouse so it has to go in diagonally, and is remarkably heavy, so that was out. Other things went up easier:

Patrick came up with a great system for hanging the life jackets, which for some reason I don't have a picture of. But it works much better, organized by size and usability.

In the end, we managed to get everything neatly back in, with a place for things (as long as they go back somewhat near there when put away). What's more, the fold-down beds are much more usable — so you can come up and visit with us!

(we also got a few other tasks done — cupboard door replaced, cabinet painted, irises trimmed, chair glued, but this was the major project.)

Patrick's organizational mind FTW!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Things That Mean Summer

The cabin
Madeline Island
The pool
Friday night pool parties
Staying up too late
Reading reading reading
My birthday
Street festivals
Ice cream
Stone fruits
Cold cold beer
Fish grilled on the salt block
Grilled corn
Patio Night
National Night Out
State Fair
Mosquito bites
St. Paul Farmers Market
My garden

Monday, August 4, 2014

Tom-Tom Club

Ok, I admit it. I love my Toms (my ironic teenage self hates me for this). They are SO comfortable, in a way that knock-offs can't match. Plus I have ugly toes, so I am always looking for cute summer shoes that don't show them. But I digress….

The first pair I got developed an ugly hole within weeks.

I wore them a little anyway, while fervently hoping that the pairs they donate to kids in Africa are made of sturdier stuff. I found some picture on Pinterest (natch!) of covered Toms, and thought they looked cute, but had not taken the time to try it.

Tonight, I decided to take on the project, only to realize I did not have fabric glue. And the folding and origami-ing and such the shoes was looking a little tricky. Until I glanced over at my ribbon stash (much depleted now that I have a ribbon-stealing child), and thought maybe some ribbon and hot glue might work. And I think it did!

It's not perfect, and the jury is still out on durability. But hey, I figured it was worth a try; I can always lovingly cocoon them in layers of cloth later if this doesn't work. But for now, I feel pretty crafty!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Paul McCartney

When I was in junior high school, my friend Kathy and I began our love for the Beatles. I learned all the lyrics to pretty much every song (and much of my brainspace is still devoted to that). In a pre-internet age, I learned everything I could about them — saved clippings, caught occasional clips on TV, played the albums (especially Sgt. Pepper) over and over again. And, of course, my favorite was John.

So when my friend Geri invited me to the paul McCartney concert with her, I jumped at the chance. Yes, as her son Ravi said "I don't know why you're so excited. He's your worst Beatle." But still, when you get a chance to see Paul McCartney…

And man, he did not disappoint. This 72-year-old powered through three hours of the most high-energy concert I have ever seen (ok, I don't get to a lot of concerts, and certainly not the kind with big fancy sound and lights and where they release fireworks as part of "Live and Let Die." But I digress.)

Maybe the most charming part was how much of the Beatles the show included, and how good he still sounds singing the songs. For a few hours, not only was I in Paul McCartney's world, I was back to a much earlier version of myself. And it felt good.