Friday, January 29, 2016

Out There, Right Now

So, over coffee a few weeks back, my friend Bethany and I were talking about the vast array of things to see and do in the Twin Cities; especially in the winter, it's like our own version of art hygge. During that conversation, I admitted I had never actually been to any of the Walker's Out There performances, ever. So, being a good friend, she promptly invited me to come with her to one, since she had already had a pair of tickets for each.

And I think I'm glad I waited, because this was the perfect first experience. I got to go to the Walker with Bethany, who knows that place like a second home and can share her comfort with me (I've been a little intimidated by that robot head ever since the renovation). I got to see tone of people in the lobby that I really like (bummer for no intermission and intermission-conversations). And most of all, I got to see an amazing performance, Germinal, as conceived by Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort.

Let's just say it was not Zola's Germinal (though I would like to see how those folks would treat that source material.)

And with that I won't say much about the actual show, because if you ever get a chance to see it you should, and it's better if you don't go in knowing too much. But it was a fantastic piece, filled with by conflict between play and thought, words and action, present moment and before/after. It was wonderfully performed. It kept me totally involved. And it was very, very French.

I'm hooked. (thanks, Bethany!)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Better Bedtime Reading Than Your Own Emails!

I have to admit to being a big fan of John Moe. I've liked him ever since he began hosting the (sadly departed) "Wits" on Minnesota Public Radio. He's got that kind of weird, off-kilter humor that makes me wonder "How does he even THINK like that?" 

I enjoyed his first book ("Dear Luke, We Need to Talk"), and that was before the big Star Wars resurgence. But I can tend to be a little defensive about Hillary, so was not sure I would be amused by this book.

I'm glad I took the chance! Sure, some of the "email" thread topics were a little overdone (Who care about pantsuits? Oh, because it's fun to say.) But most of it was amusing and oddly humorous and the perfect thing to read after a long day of people taking themselves far too seriously.

There's more info on the book here

Also, I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Coloring for Adults - Cats in Paris (Blogging for Books)

I came late to the whole adult coloring book craze. Much of the time, I would rather make something new than color in something else. However, I do admit to liking, in the past, decorating old black and white prints I got at thrift stores, and once I determined that this was basically a version of that, I was more intrigued.

The trick was to find the right book. I got a nice Cities one recently, but I fell in love with this one when I saw it. It had Paris scenes — perfect to prepare for our Paris trip this summer! It has cats! Win for all.

The first 16 pages were exactly what I had hoped. Cute cats, detailed pictures to color, it was great!

Then many pages with cute cats and patterns. Not especially Parisian, but fun enough.

And then less fun. Cats with yarn, ok. But 1¢ stamps? I thought we were in France. And some sailor cat...

All in all, I would have preferred a smaller book with more pictures of cats doing Paris things. But maybe I just need more of a narrative than the average girl.

The quality of this book is very nice. The cover flaps curl a little in the inside, but maybe just because they are thick. The paper is heavy but smooth. It's perfect for pencils — markers work well too — like every other adult coloring book, just leave your set of Sharpies to sulk quietly in the corner because they bleed through the pages badly.

(Belle was super-excited to open the box. She wants to be a Cat of Paris.)

Of course, the FTC disclaimer — I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Blogging for Books
More Info

Monday, January 11, 2016

Look Up Here, I'm in Heaven

Like everyone else I know — quite honestly, almost everyone on all of my social media streams — waking up to the news that David Bowie had died made this an unexpectedly raw, painful day. And I don't know that I have any words about it that anyone else hasn't already said. But I am throwing a few more words onto that magnificent funeral pyre, because god damn it, he deserves it.

David Bowie was our youth. He was my youth. He was discovering the symmetry between music and magic and film and video and fashion and life. He was listening non-stop to the totally new take on pop that was Let's Dance before you dug deeper into his work and listened to everything else he ever recorded and finally settled for playing Young Americans over and over and over again until it was burned into your soul. He was going to see Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence on an especially significant night. He was looking at the same things in very different ways. That doesn't make me any different than anyone else who is grieving today for the place he held in their own lives, but it's what he meant to me.

And because my youth is ever farther away, I have not listened to much Bowie lately. I haven't listened to much at all lately, honestly. I don't know why as I have aged that I've moved farther away from what seemed so natural as I was so much younger.

So tonight I mourn the loss of a great man, and what having him in this world meant to me. I smile a bit at someone who said it better than me — "If you're ever sad, just remember the world is 4.543 billion years old and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie."

And tomorrow, I'm going to make a conscious effort to listen to more music again. (starting with Blackstar, which I may not be able to make it through without tears).

Friday, January 8, 2016

Winter Street - An Introduction

I love houses; I suppose you can't work in preservation without loving them. And Patrick has learned to love them too. Four years ago, we called our long-suffering realtor and asked to see a foreclosure house on Summit. It was a large home, with 3+ additional apartments, and if other things had been aligned differently, we would have bought it (it was listed at 750K, but we knew the bank would take 500K or under). But it got us thinking, especially since in the back of our minds we knew Patrick's mom or dad might be in need of a place to live.

A few weeks later we brought our realtor to see another place we had found, another foreclosure, this one $7,200. It was a little 1880s farmhouse, and just like the Summit house, we could see the potential. And so, a few weeks later, after jumping through significant hoops with the bank, we bought it (for cash obviously).

We started out strong on the project — with a new furnace, wiring, and plumbing. For a short period, we even had someone staying there and working on it. We had a lot of great help from friends, of which I remember and am thankful for every brushstroke. But then, for a number of personal reasons, we lost momentum for awhile. We knew for various reasons it would no longer be needed for family, and we were overwhelmed by all that needed to be done. My work was exploding, and I could not put my mind to it, and Patrick did not even know where to begin. For a long time, anytime I thought of the place I had a pit in my stomach, and it woke me up at night. I can only imagine how Patrick felt.

And then, this fall, we knew it had to be done. It had sat vacant for too long. Our friend Kevin connected us with his brother Kerry, a handyman/contractor willing to work with Patrick on it. All fall, Patrick worked full-time on finishing it up. We ran into a few more licensing issues with the city, but we knew we were close.

Wednesday we had the final inspection, and Thursday, the brief email "good to go." And just like that, the renovation process was over. We went out for cocktails last night to celebrate.

It's been a long, hard process, but we learned a lot. Patrick learned an incredible amount about home renovation, and discovered he is indeed "handy." I learned about the differences between preservation policy and practice. And in the process, we quite literally saved a piece of Saint Paul's history that was looking at a very grim future.

I'm incredibly proud.

Winter Street then (see, you can see how crazy we were):

Winter Street now:

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Resolutions 2016

And here's the new batch, for accountability if nothing else:

1)  Photos. Frame and display a bunch. Put together some photo books. Organize iPhoto. Get rid of frames that are too twee or that I will never use.

2)  Storage. Organize storage spaces around the house so I can find things and be happier with what we have.

3)  Client work – improve, not just maintain. Circle around to some past clients and make sure they are still doing well. Make a conscious decision to network and land some new clients. Dedicate some real professional development time. Shuffle off client things that no longer make sense.

4)  Exercise. The lack of it is getting stupid.

5)  Get our financial house in order. It’s not totally off the rails, but it could be much better.

6)  Have more fun!

7)  Talk less, smile more. Oh wait, that’s not it.

And those others have for me, so they might as well be mine:

8)  Craft more with Beatrix (that’s hers for me).

9)  Double down on date nights (per Patrick).