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Showing posts from 2017

8th Floor - HCA

Tonight, after a Mental Health Minnesota meeting, I took my 9-year old date (and her stuffed dog, which looks real and surprised quite a few people) to downtown Minneapolis to attend the opening night of a client's show. (The show, by the way, is Rhythmically Speaking and it's pretty great — runs through Sunday, highly recommended.)

The show was at the Illusion Theater, located on the 8th floor of Hennepin Center for the Arts. Which is a place I know inherently, in every fiber of my being, because it's where I started working in theatre over half a lifetime ago when it was the Cricket Theatre.

It's the place where Jay taught me to add cinnamon to the coffee urn and to never chew ice over the intercom. Where Shirley and Camille had a bottle of champagne delivered to their dressing room on Sunday nights written into their contract, and where they taught me to appreciate it (I miss you, Camille). Where I hauled rapidly growing puppy TC from the Time and Chance set every n…

Well I Made It

I'm now 50. Still wasn't the easiest transition, but as I had joked, "It beats the alternative." And then a friend passed away of pancreatic cancer on Saturday morning, and I woke up to the news on Charlottesville,  and I realized it really DID beat the alternative.

My birthday was lovely. My friend Jennifer's free fabric sale. Brunch at the Hewing and a truly lovely production of Sunday in the Park with George atthe Guthrie with Patrick, while Beatrix hung out and learned how to train dogs from our friend Cheryl. A walk around Como Lake. A fantastic dinner for all 3 of us, including Beatrix in a tiara, at the Lex (I joked that between the matinee and the Lex Patrick picked places that made me feel younger). A 10pm Fringe show of the amazing Fourth Wall Ensemble with Fruit Flies Like a Banana. And the next day I got to celebrate with a volunteer event with some awesome people at Second Stork (more on that later). Great calls and texts and emails and FB messages a…

On the Eve of My 50th Birthday

It's the last night of my forties. It's a night remarkable for its ordinariness — Patrick is rigging at circus, we had a pool party, Beatrix is in bed, I am sitting in the dimly lit living room at Summit with Coya and a cocktail. Cicadas sound outside like every August night I can remember in this house. The upstairs hall light glows pink and I remember so clearly sitting on the rug up there in my shortie cat pajamas that my grandmother made me on a night so exactly like this that there is no way that it was 47 years ago.

I've thought a lot about turning 50 and I am still not at all at peace with it. Almost all my earlier life I have been the young one doing things, remarkable for achieving things at an early age. Now I most definitely am not. I don't even know what to achieve next.

I'm painfully ware that my mom was only 68 when she died. Patrick says, and rightly so, that that does not mean I will die at that age — I could go tomorrow, or at age 103. But neverthe…

Summer Lovin'

Things that mean summer (even if I have not done them all yet, hopefully I will get to them!)

-  patio drinking
-  swimming
-  pool parties
-  Open Eye Figure Theatre Driveway Tour shows
-  Izzy's/(Grand Old Creamery)
-  BBQs
-  "Old Gladhills" (lemonade/vodka/St. Germaine — or just me)
-  rhubarbaritas
-  sangria
-  gardening
-  the cabin
-  Grand Old Day/(Paws on Grand)
-  various other street festivals
-  walking the dog around the block at night
-  sitting on the front porch
-  neighborhood "Patio Nights" parties
-  Songs of Hope
-  Picnic Operetta
-  Fringe
-  Alexis Bailly Vineyard
-  night markets
-  National Night Out
-  farmer's market
-  outdoor concerts/movies
-  girl scout camp
-  taproom patios
-  garage sales
-  walking around a lake
-  Circus Juventas summer show
-  summer camps for B
-  watermelon/peaches/plums/cherries
-  outdoor festivals
-  birthday
-  baseball (Saints)
-  reading in the hammock

What does summer mean to YOU?

Mobile Office

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In a given week, I may be at over a dozen clients. While it's great that I usually have a designated space at each one, it does mean that, between the clients and my home office, I'm often carrying around a lot of pieces of paper that need to get from one place to the next.

That situation gets exacerbated depending on client capacity. Some clients don't have fax machines. Others don't have scan capability for me. At still others, I end up stalled because I don't have a file folder, or a window envelope, or a plain white envelope. Sometimes I need a stamp. Sometimes I need a power brick for my phone. Sometimes I need to file and there are no folders. Or I don't have a sharpie for labeling, or a pencil. Any of these things can stall me for a full work session, or throw off a schedule, or delay a check getting in the mail that day. It's incredibly frustrating.

So today, I took an adorable hedgehog bag that Elaine Powell had gotten me for Christmas, and filled …

Car Talk

Since Patrick has been rigging every circus show, it means that evenings and weekends have been just me and Beatrix, like some kind of low-rent Thelma and Louise. This weekend alone, that meant Target, Noodles and Company, the Ramsey County Library, Whole Foods, Nordrsaga, brunch, Paws on Grand, an Open Eye Theatre puppet show at our friend Maggie and Stephen's, our friend Kevin's birthday party, a new donut shop, Izzy's, and a few other errands. In other words, a lot of time in the car discussing things.

Some of the topics from this afternoon alone:

-  Might all people have super powers like Wonder Woman and they just don't know it until they are tested?
-  Seeing a woman whose hijab blew off and was she concerned people saw her hair, and what was the line between showing your tradition in dress and being sexists because girls have to wear traditional dress and boys don't.
-  Who our secret Hamilton crushes are (don't tell anyone but hers is Leslie Odom Jr.)
-…

Giving By Phone

I'm in the process of signing up a few clients for Givelify (as an aside, download it and check it out; it's a great way to give to the places you support!) While researching it, though, I found several new ways to donate to various charities by phone, so I checked into them (Here's the link I started from).

Going through the list, some ere easier than others:

Donate a Photo is an app where you can "donate" one photo a day, and Johnson and Johnson donates $1 to a genre of organization you choose (I chose LGBTQ family rights, see the photo here.) It was  little fuzzy to set up, and I am not sure I'll remember every day, but worth a shot. I have not yet installed Tinbox (it's slow to load), but it's a similar once-a-day donation. I'm not sure how much I'll remember to do it, but at least the option's there.

I like the idea of Charity Miles, and the interface is super-easy to use. But I stopped part-way through sign-up, because it appears to n…

Nordrsaga

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Ok, so you've seen a hundred posts of mine on the magic of Circus Juventas.

This is why this one is different.

I've spent  a lot of time at circus this summer. A perfect storm of issues has led to extra time at my job. We headed out to Washington DC for the Wonderland performances (Patrick rigged every one). Beatrix took four classes and circus camp. It's been a very circus-filled summer.

But then an online friend was discussing how she wanted to have fun again. And I thought back to the last time I had the most surprising fun, which was actually seeing the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus (full disclosure, also a client) in DC. (again, I have had a lot of fun times this summer, but this was full-throttle unexpected fun!)

So I went in to Nordrsaga tonight not watching from my office as I usually do, but sitting in real seats, totally giving in to just enjoying being at the circus.

We ran into a friend on the way in, who was seeing CJ for the first time, and the person sitting ne…

Shattered

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I've never sat on a book review this long (though I've only bene reviewing for 18 months.) But I simply can't get through Shattered.

The book itself is excellent. Factual, readable, breaks down the various decisions that led to the dramatic loss.

But I sit down with it and it makes me mad. It makes me mad about the divisiveness within the Democratic party, that we don't seem able to solve. And yes, it makes me mad at Bernie Bros (sorry,, friends).

It makes me mad at the system, at the GOP, at everyone who voted for Trump. It makes me sad for the future. And then I put it aside and read something more uplifting, like The Handmaid's Tale.

Despite not being able to get through the book, I actually recommend it — but you'll need a thicker skin than me to get through it.

(Book provided by Blogging For Books in exchange for my opinion, but all thoughts are my own).


Belle (Hell's Belles)

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About 5 years ago our friend Krista was living with us for a short time (too short, in my opinion). We were away, and she had to be gone for a bit, so she had her friend Lee take care of the pets. And Lee discovered a love for cats.

So Lee adopted a cat (Pumpkin), but when she went to get Pumpkin, her kitten daughter had not been adopted, so Lee got a twofer (this likely should have been an indication). Lee took them home, but those 2 cats in a tiny studio apartment were too much. The kitten (about 5 months old really) needed a home.

So we took Belle, who was Pumpkin Junior then, but princess-obsessed Beatrix renamed her. And it was soon evident that Belle had a lot of ... spark. I remember one of the first nights we had her, where she was literally bouncing off the walls, and Patrick quipped "You know, they make prozac for cats..."

Belle settled in but didn't really. She stole Barbie shoes like a klepto Imelda Marcos. She skittered around the house. She occasionally sn…

Summit Dining Room

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I've talked a lot about changes in the dining room at Ashland, but that also meant some changes at Summit, too, including switching some furniture between places.

I never remember to take before pictures, so you'll have to believe me that the arrangement of the Summit dining room had not changed my entire life. Big table in the middle, buffet in the nook on the west wall, enormous china cabinet on the south wall. Eventually a small cabinet in the corner. The chairs were redone one year (after the Christmas after Patrick got the chair with the nail in it, and said "Ow!" and everyone at the table said "Oh, you got *that* chair?")

What got to me most, however, was the wallpaper border dating straight from 1982.

So this morning we switched around some furniture. The big china cabinet went to Ashland, and the little one came here. The new buffet that matched the table we had just purchased went in at Ashland, and the teak one came over here. Then Patrick went to…

Hope For the Future

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if you're like me, you've been feeling a little down right now. In a toxic political climate, the hits keep coming. People get shot. So much of what we've fought for is struck down faster than anyone would have thought possible. It's incredibly disheartening.

So tonight, Beatrix and I thought the best way to combat that was to go see Songs of Hope perform in the neighborhood.

Songs of Hope has been led by out friends Jeanne and Tom since 1991. I don't know of anything like it; it brings together kids aged 10 and up from all over the world to come to Minnesota, live together for six weeks, and sing and perform together. And by "the world" I mean all over — this year there are kids from Turkey, Guatemala, France, Poland, Israel, China, Vietnam, Italy, Columbia, Jamaica (and I am sure I am missing some). The kids sing traditional American songs (heavy on the peace and justice scale because Jeanne and Tom are hippies, songs from their countries that they shar…

Floored

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So we're working on a huge dining room re-do. New wallpaper, paint, furniture — stay tuned for the big reveal!

We've also been selling off a lot of the old furniture. Yesterday, when folks picked up Beatrix's old art desk, I was faced with exactly how bad the floor was.

Patrick and I had attended a set of floor refinishing classes through Preservation Alliance of MN last spring, and one thing we had learned as part of that was that floor refinishing was beyond us. But I had a can of a non-sanding floor refinisher by Varathane that I had picked up on sale at Frattalone's a while back.

More to the point, I had a real will to do it. A bad bout with my Parsonage-Turner syndrome had stopped me from working on a project with Beatrix at girl scouts on Saturday night, and I was tired of (and angry about) my arm getting in the way of things that were important to me.

So, despite Patrick's reasonable worries that taking the time to deal with the floor would hold things up, I…

They Call It Elk River, Elk River, Elk River, Elk...

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For the past three years, Beatrix and I have attending "Horsing Around with Mom" at Girl Scouts Camp Elk River. "Horse camp" might be too strong a term for what is basically for one long weekend day (plus the night before and breakfast after) in which you have one hour of riding and one of grooming. But it's been a fun tradition at a time when I am all too aware that soon she likely won't want to go away to camp with me.

The first year we were together with the majority of Beatrix's Girl Scout troop in pretty luxe air-conditioned but larger dorms. It rained on campfire night so we had it inside; it was the end of summer so everyone was in a groove. Last year, a group of 8 of us (4 girls 4 moms) had our own private cabin about a 15-minute walk from the rest of the camp, near the horses. This year, we had even more rustic screen cabins and were 2 pairs to a cabin.

There's a lot to do besides horses — low ropes, swimming, canoeing (which we did not ge…

DC Circus List Post

Circus things we did this week:
-  Rigged and saw ALL Wonderland performances (blown away)
-  Saw the amazing Circus Juventus kids in various aerial and wall tramp and juggling demos, plus at the Circus School
-  Saw a portion of one cool East Indian dance performance
-  Ate several gelatos
-  Watched some flying trapeze demos (but no wire, sadly enough)
-  Saw THREE Bindlestiff Family Cirkus performances, each different than the last (love them!)
-  Indulged in some of the special, addictive circus lemonade
-  Shopped the Marketplace
-  Saw Universal Circus
-  Saw the sailor Family Circus
-  Popped into a discussion  about "Why are Clowns Scarey?"
-  People-watched on the Mall
-  Talked to TONS of people about why Circus Juventus is so amazing

Non- Circus things we did this week:
-  Shopped and ate in Alexandria (mmm, crepes at La Fontaine!)
-  Lovely dinners with Molly and Bernard and family
-  Alexandria ghost tour
-  Cancelled fireworks at the Air Force Memorial with Mar…

DC Dreaming

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With the exception of the cities that I have lived in, Washington DC is the place I have visited most often. I first came her in elementary school (can't remember if a convention with my dad or the 6th grade Spring Trip was the first time), and my graduate school education was in nearby Towson since then I must have been a dozen times. I have close friends here from elementary school, high school, college, and graduate school. Both of my college room-mates live here (in fact, I am typing this from one of their couches). I've attended conferences here, I've celebrated here, nursed a broken heart here, explored here, and now been part of an enormous circus festival here.

I know the city well. I've spent hours on my own exploring. I've enjoyed the food, the museums, the bookstores, the architecture. I've spent hours taking with friends here — and this trip has been no exception.

What has been different this time is sharing it with a fantastic, curious 9-year old …

The Womanly Arts

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I don't know how I have become so interested in the "womanly arts" in the past few years, but it seems to be something that has affected a number of women I know.

Our service berry (Saskatoon berry) tree at Summit is in full berry mode right now, and I wanted to get as many of them picked as possible (especially since we have to cut off one branch soon).


After that, I baked a cake with them and it turned out wonderfully. Score one for baking prowess!


Then, the other night, I hosted a group of women at Summit, while my friend Anna taught us how to cross stitch! She set us each up with starter kit with a profane word or saying:


I went relatively innocuously, as opposed to "Fuck You Very Much," though that might be what I am thinking lately. It was a great night, with a dozen ladies gathering together to stick and enjoy each others company. I'm hoping for a similar event soon!

Our Online Personas

I'm not exactly an early adopter, but internet groups have been an important part of my life. In the days before Facebook and Twitter (remember those), I belonged to some online womens boards who were very important to me, and have led me to some of my closest friendships. Other friends came from the early days of Twitter, when it was a lot more about genuine conversation than a plethora of retweets.

As Facebook ascended, it became a vehicle I used more, and I've been part of some groups there that have been very important to me as well. Two of the most crucial ones to me have suffered some huge blows over the last month, blows that have really cut them off at the knees, and both have responded in very different ways.

In one case, the group literally lost all records of membership and is slowly rebuilding from the ground up. There's a lot of trauma in that, and in learning to share again. The mods are doing an incredible amount of heavy lifting in the rebuild. I have hope …

(Eating) on the Road Again

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To be fair, I owned a version of Road Food by Jane and Michael SternI think the first or second edition, many years ago. It's one of the things I lost in my divorce (along with my copy of the Handmaid's Tale, my Wellstone t-shirt, and the Dancing Rabbit Blow Horn Christmas ornament) that I have missed every time we go on a road trip. And we go on a lot of road trips.

So I was really excited to pick up the 10th edition of the book and to realize that, like the Sterns and maybe even myself, it's only gotten better over the years. It's organized by region and state, with nice maps at the beginning of each sections. Now that I no longer have AAA Trip-Tiks to read as we drive along, instead I can plan our lunch stop and avoid the plethora of truly bad roadside options available. This book means you will never have to stop at a Cracker Barrel for lunch again in your life, and for that alone it's worth the price.

I like the Stern's practicality. I've been to man…

Summit Spaces

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One of my favorite parts of the Summit house is that there are lot of outdoor places to hang out in (and a lot of people hang out in them!). Last weekend, we started to give these spaces a facelift, but I was determined to do it on the cheap.

I started with the back deck, which was looking pretty worn:


I washed it down with some deck wash I had picked up free at HHW, which took some jimmying because our sprayer was broken. I then stained it with some stain I had also gotten free at HHW (and the other gallon I got there went to someone who needed some to stain her Little Free Library.)

The teak table and chairs were pretty gray, so I stripped and refinished those with a 3-step teak refinisher (that I had gotten free off the BST board):


I thought the deck needed some color, so I picked up a cheap outdoor rug on clearance at Amazon. And Patrick washed the gazebo roof and we moved it back onto the deck to provide sun coverage and rain protection.

Doesn't it look great? Now I just need…

How Music Works

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It's taken me FOREVER to get through this book, and I keep wanting more!

As you might expect, it's every bit as complicated as Davis Byrne. It's a meandering, fascinating set of essays, where you start in one place, and suddenly find yourself in another, and yet another before you dive beneath the wake in a new chapter. he says you can read it in random order, but do yourself a favor and read it in sequence; there's reasoning behind it and the flow is absolutely amazing.

So many nights of my teenage years were spent sitting in my friend Phillip's house listening to the Talking Heads (and avoiding Cheese-Its). I'm so happy to use this book to bring me back to that part of my life, even while exploring it more as an adult.

Amazing. 5 stars.

(as usual, book provided free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an unbiased review)

Picture This

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Of all the great classes we've done at the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota lately, I think we are most hooked on the Photo Tours. Honestly, we've kind of become Eric and Kristen groupies!

It all started last year, when we took a tour in the A-Mill and Main Street area in Minneapolis with them last year. We took another one in Lowertown this spring, and then today was on home turf in Ramsey Hill. Even better, we got to bring Beatrix with us with an old digital camera!

The classes have 2 main sections. Eric starts the class with a brief intro to mobile photography (think packing into 20 minutes what he usually teaches in 20 hours at IFP Minnesota). He covers composition, editing, and tips and techniques. Eric makes it all look so easy — hah!

Then, Kristen takes us walking and gives great, engaging, and personal information about the history of the area. Truth be told, there's some half-listening going on while we all jockey for top shots, but most of it sinks in. We leave…

365

Yesterday was a day of a lot of thought and discussion, with a lot of people I know and care about. There was anger and confusion and sorrow and frustration in the wake of the Walker's Open Letter about "Scaffold" (released, I'll note, at 4:30 on the Friday of a holiday weekend). It was a day of hard truths.

It was also opening night for 365 Days/265 Plays - a 2017 Remix at Full Circle Theater Company (I posted about the open rehearsal process for this show last week). I'm not directly involved with the production, but I have been working with the company, and I think very highly of them.

By the time 7:30 rolled around last night, once we picked up the babysitter and calmed the dog and had grabbed something to eat and gotten over to the theater, I was exhausted from the day, and honestly, the last thing I wanted to do was to see a show.

Which only proves to me how badly I needed it.

For the next two hours, I was surrounded by a lot of stories. Stories Suzan-Lori …

Having an Appetite

This isn't a review. I'm not a reviewer, and even if I was, you could not read this and go see the show, because it happened for one night only. If you were not part of the 30 or so people who saw Appetite by Skewed Visions tonight, let's face it, you missed out.

The night started with a back alley entrance, a warm garden in spring blow, a cat called Potato wandering through like an especially furry host. A motley set of chairs, a table of wine and snacks. But that's not the appetite they meant.

Then, two different kinds of audio feedback. Ted Moore with a hyper-sensitive microphone with feedback that reacted to the smallest vibrations in the room, seeming improvised but actually highly scored. Kyle, who swallowed the notes from his saxophone, rather than playing them. At some points, I swear there was actual color coming out.

Then Charles Campbell, looking as he started the night like he was setting up a Spaulding Gray monologue in an oreo suit. Who then manipulated s…

On Assumptions

I've been thinking a lot about assumptions today.

I was thinking about them because this morning I had to drive back, park, and run back onto the house to send a file; as I was doing so a passer-by saw fit to passively-aggressively chastise me about parking too far from the curb.

I was thinking about them because, as my friend Mo commented on Twitter earlier this week:
There's a review of Refugia floating around whose assumptions about a scene skewering the dangers of assumptions are just too ironic 4 words. I was thinking about them because I had to stop my car and sit by the side of the road for a few minutes while listening the the "74 Seconds" podcast about the shooting of Philando Castile.

There are all kinds of assumptions, and some dramatically different consequences.

But what if we actively fought against assumptions, rather than piecing them together into "what is the truth" like a low-budget Law and Order episode?

What if we assumed that people aro…

Refugia

I'm starting to seem like one of the awesome Minnesota Theater Bloggers with my frequency of theater blogs (yeah, I only wish!), but I can't stop thinking about Refugia at the Guthrie last night. Thanks to my years at Jeune Lune I've known Dominique Serrand for over half my life, and it was clear to me last night that this was the play that he has wanted to create for at least that long a time. I'm stopping just short of calling it his magnum opus (because I hope there's a lot of great work left of his to see), and I don't want to take away from the other great work he's directed and co-created over the years, but this is the most significant and complete piece he's directed.

I need to start by saying that the Guthrie was the most lively and intense I had ever seen it last night. With three stages active (Refugia on the proscenium, The Bluest Eye in the thrust, and Mu's Charlie Chan in the Dowling studio, plus some prom photos being taken), the lobb…

The Vulnerability of an Open Rehearsal

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Last night, I was lucky enough to get invited to an open rehearsal for 365 Days/365 Plays: A 2017 Remix, by Full Circle Theater Company. I've admired the brand new company, begun by Rick Shiomi, Martha Johnson, and several other of the top theatre creators in Minnesota, but I have only recently begun to work with them.

I'm also very affected by Suzan-Lori Parks' work, and remember being hit hard by 365 Days/365 Plays in 2006 when she conceived of it. That year seems like yesterday and today. It was the year I lost my mom, and the year I got married, and here was this odd piece of short, direct plays that were really hard hitting. It's a spiky piece, extremely issues-based, and that year I saw several performances of the pieces from many diverse theaters, as companies nationwide collaborated in producing it as one big cycle.

So I have to admit when I found out Full Circle was doing it, my first thought was "why?" As we talked more, I saw intellectually how it…

It's May Day!

If I were to look over past posts, I would likely see several about the Heart of the Beast Theater's annual May Day parade. We don't have Mardi Gras, but we have May Day, and especially in times like these, there's something magical about being with a group of people experiencing May Day together. This year, more than ever, its diversity and range of ages represented really struck me. Long live May Day!

It was also a weekend of other community-building. Beatrix's art is included in this year's ArtWalk in downtown Saint Paul, so there was a small reception at the Ordway for that (and I DO mean *small,* but it was fun.) Her art is up at the Starbucks across from Subtext on 5th Street through June 4, if you want to check it out.

After that, her Norwegian dance troop danced at the Festival of Nations. They did a great job, and as we walked through the displays and food hall afterwards, lots of people had questions about the dance and her bunad.

Last night I was able to…

Your Values, Your Kid

Lately Beatrix and I have been having a lot of discussions around the term "Smash the Patriarchy!" It started with what "patriarchy" is, and then why you would want to smash it, and then into greater depth. Quite honestly, it's an easier thing to discuss in abstract than the specifics of why Congress would want to eliminate healthcare as we know it for all Americans.

She's not 100% on board, but she kind of likes the idea and we discuss why it's important to me. She's a thoughtful kid, and doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, and so she doesn't want the patriarchy to feel bad. I can accept that — for now. But I want her to keep thinking about it.

I don't remember having these kinds of discussions with my parents. I certainly saw them live their values, and so I grew to them. To this day, I share my mother's view that hypocrisy is the worst possible sin. And I got a great supportive email from my dad today after he saw me featu…

Why the Circus Has My Heart

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You're all so patient. This time of the year, when Beatrix is performing in 3 acts in 2 shows, when Patrick is rigging *every* show, and when I'm at the circus every spare minute lending a hand where I can, I'm scattered as heck and you patiently put up with me. Since last Monday, we've been here 34 hours, and we're just starting a 2-show day today.

But dammit, it's so so worth it. I'm typing this from my desk, while a song from Moana is playing and the toddlers are doing their adorable routine. And just like every day when they go onstage, I'm in tears. I'm so damn lucky to be able to be here.

I could wax rhapsodic about what I love about my job here, and the friends I have made. I could go on and on about how absolutely hot Patrick looks when he is rigging — I love to watch his concentration and focus on what he's doing. But most of all, I love this for my daughter.

She's literally grown up here; she came in to me to work for the first tim…

Vibrant India

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When I used to travel to Hong Kong often, we would always stay in Chung King Mansions, an incredible rabbit warren of guesthouses, shops, restaurants and apartments on Nathan Road on the Kowloon side. Definitely the cheapest backpacker accommodations in the city, these rooms looked out over some of the nicest real estate in the city (when you could get an outside view), and by trial and error, you could establish a relationship with remarkably nice places to stay (it's the error part that got you in trouble).

In the B-block were some of the best Indian restaurants I've been to in my life. After queuing up for the lifts (an adventure in its own right) you would eventually come to a floor where several of the restaurants felt like you actually were in India. For less than $2-3, you could stuff yourself on amazingly authentic, delicious Indian food. Just be sure to drink a lot of water.

I have not come close to replicating that here. There are a few Indian places nearby, but noth…

Selby

Tonight, after picking up Beatrix from EDL, we decided to hit "Spring Fling" events on Selby.

When I first bought my house in the early 90s, Selby had a seriously bad rap. It was full of boarded up storefronts and dilapidated houses. Not dangerous (though many assumed it was), but not nice either.

It quickly picked up. I remember when both corners of Selby and Dale were empty lots, and Allan Mathewson (the new GM of Mississippi Market) and I spent days on end counting cars to try to convince the shareholders to brings a co-op to that site. I feel like I have an intense, personal relationship with every business that's gone in from Dale to the Cathedral.

It's been a little slower going in the section between Dale and Lexington, but tonight we hit the BRAND newly-open J. Selby's, and it was wonderful. Beatrix pronounced it the "best PBJ ever" (thanks to Brogan's family for showing her she likes PBJs!), Patrick loved his meat-less burger, and my beet b…

Minnesota!

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Not to be outdone, we spent the final couple of days of spring break (after f-i-n-a-l-l-y getting out of Atlanta, Josh from West Wing was right on that....) doing some fun things in Minnesota.

Patrick had never really explored Stillwater; so while Beatrix had Norwegian dance rehearsal on Saturday afternoon, he and I headed to Tin Bins to get some work done. Then, after we picked her up, we walked around Main Street doing some shopping. Our favorite stores were the fun, owner-run ones, like the Tea & Spice store or the toy store, where they really seemed to enjoy spending time with their customers — these stood in stark contrast to several places staffed by bored teenagers, in which I might have dropped quite a bit of money if I could even entice the clerk to pay any attention to me whatsoever. Beatrix also loves antique malls, and Stillwater has quite  a few of those, so it was a really entertaining afternoon.

The next day, we headed to the Minneapolis Institute for the Arts (I re…

Savannah

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For the second part of spring break, we hit a place I've been to a few times but Patrick and Beatrix had not — Savannah, Georgia!

Our AirBnB "Stella Blue" was in an adorable part of town called "Starland" (aka the "Victorian District" when that was considered a bad area). We LOVED the area — the cool shops and restaurants, the co-op art supply place just behind our place, the delicious "Back In the Day" coffeeshop (I really want one of their cookbooks now), the great antique and vintage stores, the cool houses and people-watching. We would have had a great vacation just staying there!


But instead, we did Savannah to its finest:

-  Hit the River area and had lunch at a french cafe. Assiduously skipped the Lady and Sons because she's racist

-  Walked around various squares, checking out the "haunted" Hamilton-Turner hotel, the Mercer house, the Juliet Gordon Lowe house and the Andrew Lowe house where the Girl Scouts started.

-  E…

Amelia Island

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I've been to many (but perhaps not enough!) of the great beaches of the world. But for my money, there's no better beach in the world than the one at Amelia Island, Florida. It has a real spot in my heart; my mom used to go down every March, and it holds so many special memories for me.

In the past, my mom always rented the same house (which of course we looked for!), but this time we stayed at the Seaside Amelia Inn, which was a lovely place right on North Beach. They were wonderful, very detail-oriented (cooked to order breakfast, fresh flowers, etc.), and right on the beach with beach chair and umbrellas and everything. They also had cable in our 2-room suite, which we thought we would be excited to watch and turned out to be the so terrible (Tiny House Hunters: Columbus, anyone?)

Beatrix headed into the water as soon as we got there. She was not going to let some boy go farther out than she did:



That first night we looked for dinner too late and ended up at The Marina for …

Speedy Reviews - Brunson's, Fish Fry, Bottle Rocket (bar)

We're headed out on spring break this afternoon, so after heading to the train wreck-that-is-the-remodeling-of-Midway-Target right now (for Baby Alive diapers, sigh), we needed some lunch before the airport. I had hear good things about Brunson's, a casual place that opened on Payne, so we decided to try it out.

And glad we did! The staff was exceptionally nice, offering Beatrix her choice of crayons or colored pencils for her coloring page (any kid knows how important that is.) Her homemade mac-and-cheese was creamy and good, thought he fruit with it was a slightly browned apple. Still, no melon, which is her indication that the place is really phoning it in in a fruit serving.

My veggie burger was also homemade, with several kids of beans, marinated peppers, and goat cheese. It came with the homemade chips, also fantastic, and washed down with an Indeed Daytripper, it was an excellent start to spring break.

Patrick had the double burger, which he reports was delicious, and t…

(Sort Of) A Game-Changer

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I fell for the Dinner - Changing the Game cookbook the way I usually fall for big, heavy cookbooks full of beautiful pictures. It's elegant, all the pictures look delicious, and it's designed so that "each recipe in this book is meant to be dinner— one fantastic dish that is so satisfying and flavor forward it can stand alone." I love the idea of a simple-yet-lovely meal like that.

My husband, in particular, has liked the egg dishes. I like the "Ingredients to Have on Hand" section, and I really appreciate that there are  a lot of vegetarian and fish selections. I also appreciate hat there are  a few soups, and "salads that mean it," but in general it focuses on true meals, the kind that leave you full and with some leftovers.

We've made a few things form it, such as the aforementioned egg dishes, some salmon, and a delicious stovetop mac-and-cheese, almost identical to another recipe already in our rotation, but nice to have validation.

All i…

Bar Brigade!

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Beatrix and I wanted to go out to celebrate her school conferences tonight. But when you feel celebratory, and miss Paris, where to go? I know — Bar Brigade, which opened tonight!

We walked in and were immediately seated by none other than Chef JD Fratzke himself! Beatrix was extraordinarily impressed by his manners (as was I!), and I loved the feel right away. The space holds all the charm that Luci used to have, but less like eating in your grandparent's basement.

And even better, just a few moments later Beatrix's friend Kiernan's family walked in — so we got to have the very Parisian feel of a convivial dinner.

Though I was sorely tempted by #roseontap, I ordered the Bumby, a sort of orange-infused G&T. Then, so we could sample as much as possible, Beatrix and I split the bread plate, the potatoes with chèvre, and creme fraiche, some roasted carrots with almond dressing, and a puff pastry tart with mushrooms, olives, and chèvre. All of it was amazing, with true Fre…

Serendipity

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Some days, things just work out.

This afternoon, Patrick and I dropped Beatrix off at dance, and then took advantage of the free hour to check out the new Black Stack taproom and go through design books. It was lovely. As my friend Kate said:
The new criteria for choosing dance schools for kids? Proximity to brewpub. Heck, in the Creative Zone, you can have it all!



We were excited to go over to Highpoint Center for Printmaking, whose "Free Ink Day" I had done an Art Hounds appearance about last week — but when we got there, it was packed! Since we were hungry, we decided not to stay, and as we turned back around to go out, we explained that to the gallery manager, who was very apologetic "Oh, I'm so sorry! We were on Art Hounds, and it's just crazy!"

"Uh, yeah, that was me, sorry...."

"Omigod!" she gave me a big hug, "It's been fantastic! We're had over 350 people so far and 80% of them were new to us!! But I'm so sorry y…

Tori Ramen

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About 500 years after the cool kids, we finally headed to Tori Ramen tonight for dinner!

We had been warned (especially from our friends' blog here, that space was tight, so we waited for a night that Beatrix was at a GTCYS event with a friend and headed on over. We expected the worst (crowds and hipster surliness), but were pleasantly surprised to find a window 2-top available and a friendly, helpful server who did not mind our questions.

I was not all that hungry so hat the E.V. (half sized, soft egg for the win). It was warm and cozy and everything you could want on a cold rainy evening. Patrick took our server's suggestion and had the Bali Bali, and he definitely got the better meal — but then the great thing about going with your husband is he gives you some.

A small but good tap list (hibiscus cider FTW as well!), and a good date night on a rainy evening. Were it not so popular, I can see hunkering down there for a bowl of ramen and some tea and watching Selby go by.