Showing posts from 2017

Failed Craft Projects

So Beatrix and I love to do craft projects together, and we've documented many of them here. But I find one major problem with social media is that everything looks all perfect and easy and successful, and you never learn about anyone's fails.

Well, we have plenty of those over here too!

For a year or so, we've had a set of glasses prefect for marbling with nail polish. It looks so perfect:

Right? Just swirl around some nail polish, kind of like suminagashi, dip the glass, and go!

So tonight we cleaned the glasses, picked the nail polish, and....

Well, it did not work like the picture.

The nail polish was gloppy and would not come out of the bottles. So then we tried to heat it, and then we tried to thin it with acetone, but first it would not come out of the bottles at all, and then it sort of dripped out.

So we tried to dip the glasses in anyway, and the nail polish looked more like, well, soap scum than marbling.

And then to proved problematic to remove from the glass.

Back in Time

On Sunday, the Saint Paul Library had a 100th birthday celebration, with a Victorian/steampunk theme, so naturally, we had to go. We ended up spending a couple of hours playing indoor corn hole and listening to an Afro-Carribean band (not sure how those are Victorian, but whatevs...), and making all sorts of steampunk accessories like clothespin dolls, little hats, and goggles. The downtown library has a new maker room that looks like a lot of fun (even a 3D printer!)

Then, since we were feeling all history-oriented, we headed over to the Stone Saloon (Waldmann Brewery) to check it out, and loved it! It feels very east coast Colonial, and the beer was great! (also the cheese and pretzel from Brake Bread). I imagine we will be there a fair bit, so come meet us there some night!

(The night before, we had headed to River Falls, for Hogwarts Year 2 at Fox Den Books with some of Beatrix's friends and their families. Also a lot of fun!)

When Politics Gets to Be Too Much, We Drink

In the middle of worrying about the country going to hell in a handbasket, I attended a School Board Candidate Forum that the PTA at Beatrix's school (hey, I guess that's me!) had yesterday. Let's just say it was enlightening. Even Beatrix saw through the yelling, middle-aged white guy who went around passing his card to kids and telling them to tell their parents to vote for him ("It's 1800, ladies, tell your husbands vote for Burr!"). She for sure does not want us voting for him.

So tonight we decided to do some infusions. We had been given a bitters kit awhile back, so mixed the spices with the fruits and some bourbon and vodka. I have no delusions it will be as good as the Bittercube guys, but it's worth a try:

We'll know in a month or so, come over for cocktails!

Patrick also found a vanilla "kit" and we're almost out of Mexican vanilla, so we started that too:

Some More Thoughts on #MeToo

In no particular order:

I thought I had a sense, but I am overwhelmed as to how many women in my life have posted #MeToo. But not surprised. You are all brave and wonderful and have my love and support.

If you didn't post, I also hear you. You still have a voice. It's not a contest.

If you're male and posted #MeToo, while I hear you, and hear that you were also a victim, and validate your experience, and though I know that sexual harassment and assault affects men also ... well, in this case, I wish you had left it just a day and let the women speak first.

I also hear you anyone who says "it's complicated." Who doubts her own memories or experiences. Who secretly wonders if maybe she did "lead him on"  or  "maybe it was not that bad" or "it's my fault too." Who was told that sexuality and beauty were ways to get ahead, and who wonders if she was not as good at that game, or as pretty, or not as desirable. These doubts will ea…


Almost exactly a year ago after speaking at Camp Coco, Patrick started a "Me too" campaign about how issues with mental illness face everyone — directly or indirectly — at some point in their lives. For awhile, the #metoo hashtag was very profound.

And now, almost exactly a year later, that same hashtag has an equally important meaning:

ME TOO If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote "Me too" as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
Please copy/paste. #metoo It's currently my Facebook status. In fact, it's on the page of the majority of my female friends tonight. And it's equally profound now.

Please think about the people you know that are using that hashtag right now (for either situation). And if you have any ideas as to what we can do to change this, I'm all ears.


"Revolt. She said. Revolt again."

Might be one of my new favorite phrases. An excellent title for a play. A look into a new way of living.

It's been awhile since I've seen a show at Frank Theatre, but I have a real weakness for modern feminist British playwrights, and so this one was on my MUST see list. There were practical reasons, too, like I wanted to see the new Gremlin space and Lake Monster is there (though I get enough Lake Monster through FilmNorth). But I was really interested to see how a theater company I respect so greatly would handle this script.

The answer is "amazingly." In a lot of ways, it reminds me of how Full Circle handled 365 Days/365 Plays, which is a similar kind of show created by various short scenes, played by an ensemble, that handles big issues with somewhat dark humor. The playwright is correct, "This play should not be well-behaved." And it is not.

Look, you owe it to yourself to see the show. It's only 70 min…

Building the Happy Habit

I got this book because, in difficult times,  I needed to remind myself about all the things that make me happy.

So far, I've been a total fail. (which does not make me happy....)

The concept is easy enough. It's a journal diary, with prompts each day about things that make you happy. And when I am prompted that way, I'm extremely successful, and I can find (at least) one thing every day. So win.

But the format of the book confounds me a little. It starts with New Year's Eve, is ti took an inordinate amount of counting to get to September 25 to start the journal. And then, when I forget to do it, I get off pace. It's frustrating (and does not make me happy).

All in all, though, if I put some work into this, I think I'll be happy with the result.

(Book received from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion).

On Giving

I've been thinking a lot about how philanthropy reflects family values right now. I just wrote this for the PTA blog:

At the PTA meeting on Monday night, we discussed both why the school needs to raise funds, and that PTA needs to also separately raise funds to augment the school’s activities. As we went home last night, my husband, daughter and I got into an interesting discussion about giving, which made me think about how different families handle charitable giving — if their budget allows or it at all. For Beatrix, we have set her allowance up on a spend/save/give model, where a certain percentage of her weekly funds go into each jar. So far, for her, the giving has all been focused on animal-related causes when the jar gets full enough, but it’s always her choice. Some families I know give an annual percentage basis, similar to tithing — though it often goes to more than just their church. Others set a fixed dollar amount per year, which is often conscious of an ongoing patte…

Two Concerts, Two Nights

You may notice that I rarely write about concerts here. Plays are part of our regular life, and visual art, but not as much music. I was raised with very little music, in fact, which is why I've found it so important for Beatrix to have it (and a shout out to my aunt Jan, who started that early).

Last night, as part of a team event for my incredible client Literacy Matters, we had a group dinner wand then went to see Carbon Leaf at the Fine Line. You may not know the name, but you know at least one of their songs "Life a life less ordinary, live a life extraordinary...."

We met the band before hand and they gave a special shout out to Literacy Matters fro the stage. It was a fun concert, and nice to be out, in a club, which is not something we ordinarily do; I think our last concert together was Sia, also at the Fine Line, about a decade ago...


Tonight, though, topped it, when we went to see Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Band play at Orchestra Hall. It …

Things are Swinging

It's been crazy around here getting things done for the last couple of days. In the words of one piece of art (by Chank!) that we framed and hung last night, we are both:

Perhaps the BEST part though is that yesterday Patrick got the swingset set up for Beatrix. We've had it about a year, but had never had time for it before. Circus girl that she is, the trapeze is her favorite part and she has already spent quite a bit of time on it.

Due North

I have spent the last three days doing historic survey in Ely.

You might think about taking my Minnesota card away if I admit I had never been TO Ely before, only THROUGH it. But I think the town is used to that. For its entire life it has been the last stop, the jumping-off place for going into the wilderness, for paddling off into the Boundary Waters, the Quetico, or points farther north.

But the last few days I've been studying the built environment — surveying the downtown, doing historic research, meeting with the HPC in City Hall. I've walked up and down the streets, had delicious coffee and muffins for breakfast, and ate at one of the best restaurants I've been to recently (hail Insula!). We stayed in a house in town across from the school that was like a trip back to 1972.

What you may not know about me, unless you've known me for a long time, is that during my teens I used to spend a month at a time on Widji canoe trips. Every winter I would go up a couple mo…

It's the Little Things

Ok, so for all the bigger projects we do around the houses, it may be the small ones that I am (perhaps disproportionally) most excited about right now!

At Summit, most of the outlets have been converted to 3-prong, but as anyone who has ever tried to plug a crockpot in our dining room knows, not all of them have! The dining room was the only one that was entirely 2-prong, but the living room, den, and 3 of 4 bedrooms had 2-prong outlets mixed with 3-prong ones, and it always seems that the 2-prong was where you really needed a 3-prong (for example, at my favorite chair at the front window).

So on Sunday, my friend Anna came over, made sure the circuits could handle the load, and converted them all to 3-prongs! Bonus — we made a start on actually labelling the circuits of the circuit box.

Since we had to go to the hardware store to get the outlets, we also picked up 27 cabinet closers for the kitchen. For a high-end, Kitchens by Krengel kitchen, the cabinets have been kind of fails; th…

The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook

Anyone can tell you we love our Instant Pot. Even Patrick, who tends to not rave in these things, wrote a piece about it once here. So I had super-high hopes for this cookbook and some new recipes.

If you have a brand new Instant Pot, it might be a good choice for you — some of the recipes are super simple, like hard-boiled eggs or rice (in fact, pretty much the same recipes that come with the Instant Pot) It also goes into a fair amount of detail on technique, such as quick-please versus natural pressure release.

If, like us, however, you have conquered the basics and are looking for some new ideas, there's not a lot here. I got a few new ideas, but nothing that I felt like I needed to make right away. Most are riffs on things we are currently making, so I may try them to have a new approach.

Eventual verdict — it's a fine book, especially for beginners, but not life-changing.

(as usual, this book received free of charge from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review…

Why "Dancing on the Edge" Is Such an Important Show

I fell in love with Lisa Channer watching her perform.

Well, Patrick and I both did (get your mind out of the gutter). We saw her work in progress during a Skewed Visions' 3-Play, and were amazed. A couple weeks later we talked to her for hours at a party and I swear int was a Minnesota version of a 1920s Paris salon, where we discussed life and art and felt exactly like we were in Gertrude Stein's living room, except we were on a deck on Maplewood.

So we thought she was awesome, and based on that Patrick joined the Theatre Novi Most board, and I help out as I can, and it's been a great relationship. I've really enjoyed everything I have seen there; the performances have been top rate, great direction, and it's been like being part of a lovely, somewhat crazy, Russian family (pass the vodka, please!)

And then Beatrix got cast as one of the "Isadorables" ....
(one of Isadora Duncan's Russian dance students) in a 5-minute their word premiere of Dancing …

Weed Whackers

I love gardening. I love being outside but getting something done, I love how it makes my home look, I love nurturing plants. I love trading plants with others, dividing my plants, cutting flowers and bringing them inside.

But this summer, I gave up on it early on, consciously resisting putting anything yard-related on my to-do list. With 2+ places to keep up with (though the tenant at Winter Street generally does great with it), and with 2+ weeks in DC for circus in July plus 4 weeks of Patrick rigging here, it was just going to be too much. Something had to give, and so it was the yards.

And it's been fine. People have enjoyed being here for pool parties and the like, and though it has not looked gorgeous, everyone has been too busy to complain.

Yesterday, though, awe went at Summit with a fury. We weeded out all the beds, including the parking area. We took out some dead bushes. We mulched the front bed by the brick wall. And (confession time), I even mowed the lawn for the fir…

Donut Challenge

While the rest of the world is eating mini-donuts at the State Fair (ok, we did that too), I decided to do my own donut taste test challenge, by comparing some local donut shops. This actually all came about when Beatrix came to a client with me one day, so we decided to hit Bogart's on the way. We both decided that my glazed donut was the best choice, but did not take a picture, sadly enough.

Next we tried Mojo Monkey, which I was rooting for because it was one of the original "craft donut" shops, and it's in Saint Paul so it's convenient. Usually it's crowded like crazy, but we slid in easily on a Saturday morning and used our Chinook Book coupon to get 3 free donuts. I have to say, though, my simple glazed did not hold up to Bogart's. It had a weird lemon taste to it — not bad, but weird, and was not as puffy and light as Bogart's.

My final point of comparison was the glazed donut from Glam Doll (the new NE Minneapolis location, because I was liter…

5 (+1!) Reasons I Think You Should See "Dancing on the Edge"

1.  Novi Most is doing some of the best theatre work in this town right now. I really mean it. Not just good work, but amazing, transformative work.

2.  This show is no exception. With a cast of Russian/American/MN/NY performers, it plays only one weekend (September 7-10, at the Southern) here, before going to New York.

3.  It's a world-premiere, so you can say you saw it first.

4.  Lisa Channer, as Isadora Duncan, is not to be missed.

5.  Patrick is on the Novi Most board, and they throw one hell of an opening night party.

6.  We'll likely be there every night because Beatrix got cast in the dance class scene! She is thrilled, and it would mean a lot to her if you came.

For more information on the show, including ticketing, please see:

Start Where You Are - Don't Go Someplace Else

So, you all likely know I have been on the search for the perfect journalling method. I've tried an inspirational one that seemed too doing, and have bene using a plain notebook with a set of fancy pens my friend Mia gave me after Winston ate my original journal and pens. I've heard good things about Patel's items, so when I ordered up this one, I was hoping it was the perfect thing — but I am sorely disappointed. I likely should have started with her book and not this planner.

The journal is in a blank book format, so you start in whatever month you want, mark that month, and then there are 5 weekly spreads to date as you want. At the front of each month is a lovely picture and quote (easily my favorite part!), with a small — too small — section for goals, another small section for important dates (I already know I have more important dates in a month than can be summarized in 10 lines), and a notes section. I also take issue with something I ALWAYS find to be a flaw in t…

Fierce AF

"And though she be but little, she is fierce."    (William Shakespeare)

This has been a summer of badass-ness for Beatrix. From a Wonder Woman theatre camp at CTC, to Girls Rock camp, to various outdoor camps and Girl Scout riding camp weekend, it's been all about her being an awesome young woman in charge of her surroundings.

And it has me thinking a lot about what that means in our world right now, in a world that seems more and more bent on oppressing her based on race and gender.

Race, for her, not as much just right now. In fact, she and I just had a discussion about how she had a pretty substantial fight based with a friend because B "isn't really black" because "just look at you!" Which is a topic I'll leave for another time, but is a different kind of identity oppression.

I can identify with the gender element though. I don't remember girls of my generation being encouraged to be fierce — except by being smart, which is its own kin…

State Fair Sneak Peek

I always try to stop at the Fine Arts building of the State Fair, but it's always so crowded and crazy! Though some years I do skip it, even on purpose, thinking back to the day when my friend Krista and several artists she knew were not accepted and joked about mounting the "It's Not Fair" alternate show at the Saints stadium.

So I was blown away today to find out from my friend Lisa that the opening of the show is totally open to the public! You can just drive on in and attend!

After backpack shopping and cat-sitting, Beatrix and I headed on over. Only one gate was open, at the far north end, and you have to show your driver's license in order to get a "Screened" pass for your dashboard. We did, indeed, just drive on over and saunter in to the Fine Arts building. And though to was crowded, it was nothing like Fair crowded, and everyone was happy and excited to be there!

We saw several people we knew, and great work by even more people we know, and man…

Cabin Weekend

We had not made it up to the family cabin on Lake Osakis yet this summer (as always, PROLIFIC THANKS to the Hanafins for letting us stay there!), but after a few false starts finally got there this last weekend!

A few years back we had discovered "Vintage Village," a truly eclectic place in Osakis that Jerry Hittner has created. It's got a store, livery stable, blacksmith, and small house filled chockablock with antiques, a school he has restored, and a church he is restoring. But best of all to Beatrix, there's a full hobby farm with chickens, sheep, pigs, cows, horses, geese, a pony, dogs, and cats, including kittens! This year there was an adorable, 3-week long haired tortoiseshell that Beatrix immediately christened "Angelica" (after Hamilton, natch.) That did it. We spent almost 2 hours there on Saturday (stopped before we even got to the cabin), and went back yesterday and today. If B and I had our way, there would be another kitten here tonight....


My Rad Life

I picked this up because I am in search of The Perfect Journal, the one that mixes a creative, bullet-journal ability with longer posts, something that can be life changing. I liked the idea of graphics with pages, of leading questions, and especially of inspiring female role models. I love that it is a companion to Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide, both of which I tend to pick up and thumb through often.

(Google suggests downloading this as an e-book — can anyone explain the point of that to me?)

The graphics are beautiful, the quotes inspiring, and there is plenty of room for doodling and inspiring. However, the question prompts don't quite do it for me — I don't think it's the book, I think it's me, that I am just too old for it. They are things like ""What kind of superhero would you be?" and "Use this page when you are having  dark moment."

All in all, I wish I had had a journal like this when I was younger — and so I just might…

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

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…


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…


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)

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

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

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…


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…