Sunday, October 19, 2014

Discovering Neighborhoods

As a born and bred Saint Paulite (with some time away to appreciate it!), I would say that I know the city pretty well. And I am pretty solid on most Minneapolis neighborhoods as well, aseptically after my time working for the Neighborhood Revitalization Project. (now, if you get into Maple Grove or something I'm lots, don't even ask me to go there).

But lately, I've been getting more familiar with neighborhoods I knew only fleetingly before, and it has been fascinating.

This summer, I started to get involved with several neighborhood Facebook groups. Hamline-Midway, just to the north of us, has several interesting groups — a neighborhood one, a Buy/Sell/Trade Group, a craft group, a foodie group, and even a preservation one devoted to saving the historic homes around Hamline University. As such, I have gotten to know several people in that neighborhood, and driven around it a lot picking things up, and also checking out such gems as Burning Brothers Brewing. It's a really charming area, full of cute in-the-process-of-renovating houses, funky/fun people, and lots or urban amenities like parks and bikeways. Hamline-Midway, I'm sorry if I discounted you before!

A similar kind of vibe exists in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis. We have spent a lot of time this fall at Junket, which is a great store that we love as much as Beatrix does (and they have had some greta craft nights!). There are several secondhand stores near there that are a lot of fun to go to. Today, Beatrix and I headed over to Off-Leash Area's "Garage Tour" in that neighborhood, and had so much fun. Plus, I have notices that there is a preponderance of Little Free Libraries there, so they are doing something right.

My heart still belongs to "my" core neighborhoods of Summit-University and Mac-Groevland, but it sure is nice to be getting much more familiar with some new ground!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Restock

One of the things I love so much to see if people restocking Little Free Libraries. Today, as I was coming home from taking Beatrix to school, I saw a man with a backpack restocking the one at the end of our street. Someone just filled ours up with some great novels, too, so head on over!

I have a small stack of books here at home from people who have given me library items. i also have, thanks to my friend Katherine's generosity, a new kindle, plus a back-up.

People who love books are awesome!

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Beatrix has taken violin for a little over a year, but this year she added piano through weekly "Project Cheer" lessons near us. So it seemed time to get a piano, and so yesterday we got this. It was given to us, and seems to fit our space perfectly. I am reminded that the original owner of our home, Sarah Chapin, had a daughter who also lived in the house and taught piano.

After it was delivered, we headed off the the Art Crawl, which included taking in a performance at Nautilus Music Theater, going through many studios in the Northern Warehouse, and seeing a few minutes of "Arrivals and Departures" projected on the Union Depot by Motionpoems. Wonderful, art-filled night!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Real vs. Virtual

We may think that much of our life can get handled in a global way, with online resources. But a couple of things in the last day have proved that wrong, at least for me.

On September 30, thanks to a coupon code from a friend, I decided to try out Gwynnie Bee (basically, a clothing rental place, you pay a monthly fee and they send you outfits which you can either wear and return or buy). I have to say, I am not impressed. The selection is not great; what's more, I am on the low end of the size range, and often things I want are unavailable. Clothes that are in banner pics are not actually available. It took over a week (or a 4 week trial period) to get my first outfit — and what a disappointment that was! It reeked of dry cleaning fluids, I put it on and immediately took it off — it looked terrible. (I replaced it with a maxi skirt, tee shirt, and cardigan for a much-more-casual-than-planned outfit, and still looked 100x better). I have another couple of weeks on the membership and things are "in my closet" so I will give it another chance, but I am not thrilled.

So, as a much better alternative, may I suggest Poppy? It's a great locally owned place on St. Clair and Snelling. The owner, Jill, has a fantastic sense of style and will always work with you to find the best possible alternative, all at reasonable prices. Head to her sale tomorrow (10/10) and not only are all sweaters 15% off, but there is a fun atmosphere with a bar and snacks at night. And tell her I sent you (and that I should have gone there instead of trying some dumb online thing).

Then, as I went up to finish my book yesterday, I realized that my Kindle was dead (I am pretty sure Beatrix stepped on it, but it's my first electronic breakage casualty so far, so I can't be too annoyed, and hey, it's DARK in the mornings!)

Amazon was nice enough, and offered me a slight discount on a new one, but there was not much they could do really, and with property taxes due next week and the unsuccessful dog vet bills still lingering on the credit card, I just could not pay for a new one anyway. But then Patrick connected in with his (virtual) Twitter network — to find a real-life solution where someone is giving him their old one. So once again, a person could do what a company cannot.

1)  2nd shipment from Gwynnie Bee equally disappointing — fir a little better but still not well, and the dress was in bad shape (pilling and stretched out). Plus their website is glitchy. Not impressed.
2)  Patrick has some leads, but still no Kindle. Went out to our Little Free Library last night to see if anyone had left anything interesting, but the only one I had not read was "How to Build Decks." I won't ruin the cliffhanger ending for you.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


I've been quiet lately. For a lot of people, including my husband, fall is their favorite time of the year, but not so for me. I find it hard to let go of the waning days of summer and to make the transition to the cold.

This year is especially hard. We put our dog Geronimo to sleep a week ago today, after a rapid decline in his 15-year-old health. I've been contemplating a post on him, but it's just too hard; the house already seems so empty, and that might make it worse.

Beatrix has started first grade, and is doing fine but nothing exciting to report. I am working a lot, and I am pleased with what I am doing, but nothing seems momentous. Patrick is working hard on research for a book. Our life seems taken up with a lot of small issues that take a lot of energy to resolve, and are not particularly rewarding once completed. To top it all off at this particular moment, I can't shake a migraine.

I remind myself that every field needs a fallow period, and that this won't last forever.