Showing posts from 2018

Why a House is More then Structure

I've recently encountered a rather toxic person whose views on the built environment could not be more different than my own. Which got me thinking about our house on Summit. When we inherited it, we knew we wanted to use it to do good. And as I sit and think of what this house has been able to host, I'm pretty impressed:

-  A friend working in China, home for the summer.
-  The mother of a friend, who wanted to spend more time with her family. In fact, that has happened four separate times (with separate people).
-  My aunt and her friend, swimming almost daily.
-  Two different sets of circus artists moving here from abroad, and several that have just been here for workshops.
-  A short film based on Dessa's spoken word art.
-  A fashion photoshoot.
-  A short film.
-  Two weddings.
-  Several other families here attending weddings.
-  A friend's mother here for the birth of their child.
-  People coming for school reunions.
-  A missionary here for part of the summe…

Iceland in a Nutshell

1 July, 2018 Delta flight was 4 hours late due to mechanicals so we were wrecked. Supposed to be a 10pm departure but instead 2am, so we lost a ton of time and sleep (did get to see Lean on Pete starring Charlie Plummer on the plane though, so not all was lost).
Got car from Sixt, drove along the water road to AirBnB, which was located on a farm outside of Hella. Stopped at black sand beach (not THE one, but A One). The whole way we remarked on the beauty — the lava fields! The shoreline! The mountains! The steam coming from the grouns! The Icelandic horses!

Grabbed some snacks in Selfoss — Lion Bars! Hobnobs!Liked the big Kronan store there.
Found AirBnB — loved it. The cottage was pristine — so clean, so spacious, so well outfitted. Amazing to have this whole space to ourselves. Napped an hour, and made a quick dinner (we had brought food to save money). Beatrix got to see the horses and the lamb (and dog of course).

Around 8:00 we drove up to Guilfoss to see the falls and Geyser (…


Besides a bad back ache that's got me popping the advil like skittles, I'm feeling pretty mad-domestically-skilled right now.

Last night, I used foraged mulberries from Summit to make mulberry vodka and a mulberry shrub, both of which you can taste in about 4 weeks once they mature. I used nanny berries from the tree there to make a coffeecake, and cooked up several quarts of rhubarb simple-syrup (I really need my own rhubarb plant next year so I stop foraging firm everyone else's).

Today, in reading about Iceland, I realized that I really needed some better hiking pants that were more water-repellant — but I don't have the time or the cash to just run down to Patagonia. Patrick had a few pairs in the clothing exchange bag, however. So I grabbed a pair, pegged them along the inner seams, darted the waist, and took them up (they're still a leeetle long, but that's because I decided partway through that measuring was for chumps).

Not bad for a quick project, huh?

Diner en Blanc

Last year, at about this time, friends of mine posted about their backup meal under the Lowry bridge when "Dinner in White" was cancelled due to rain. "Dinner in White," I thought, "What's that?" And so began my fascination.

Here's the story of how the whole thing started, should you want to fall down the rabbit hole the way I did.

In the Twin Cities, it's simpler — join the Facebook group (I think I needed an invitation to do so, IIRC), plan for the night, wait for the announcement of the site, show up.

Patrick was a little bit of a hard sell on it. But when Beatrix was invited to a sleepover that night, and I would not stop talking about it, he went out and bought a white shirt from UpSix Vintage, and graciously agreed.

It was our first year so we kept it simple. Just us, a folding table, 2 chairs, and a bag with some good alfresco food, a tablecloth, china, flower arrangement, candles. The site was announced — the Stone Arch bridge! — and we …

Whose Voices are We Hearing?

Last night I went to a presentation of the results from a historic survey conducted in a nearby Saint Paul neighborhood. It was generally a good presentation, with a lot of historic photos and some good rationale for areas for further study within the community.

One thing that really hit me, though, was the study's focus on demographic data. In many cases, the presenter would out up a slide of a house, call it the "SwensonJohnsonAnderson House," (for the original owners, which is standard preservation practice), and give a fair amount of detail about the owners, culled from sources such as the census, the Dual City Blue Books, and other demographic data  — along the lines of "Mr. SwensonJohnsonAnderson was a clerk for the Northern Pacific Railroad, whose family had emigrated to America from Sweden at the turn of the century."

To some extent, I understand this impulse. I know that the SHPO and Saint Paul HPC offices have asked for similar information from me in …

The Past and Other People

This month, for her book club (four ten-year old girls who have had a book club since kindergarten, it's pretty awesome, Beatrix picked my friend Kelly's book Magic, Madness, and Mischief. She and I had discussed it, and she wanted to read it because she knew Kelly, she was excited the book was set in Saint Paul, and she thought it would be cool to have her book club meet Kelly and ask him about the book (the fact we met in the cat cafe in Menomonie probably helped a little too).

Patrick, Beatrix and I read it aloud, round-robin style, which we have not done before — but we all wanted to experience the book. And I have to admit there were several times when I was glad my chapter twas over, because I was getting really choked up.

The books is a pretty thinly-veiled story of Kelly's own youth, at begins just at the time I met him (yes, I've known him for that long). The characters, and experiences, and especially the emotions brought back extraordinarily real memories, a…

Oh, Fern....

(and on the other extreme...)

Fabulous Fern's, in Blair Arcade on Selby, closes tomorrow, and it's like saying goodbye to a chunk of my past.

For the last 26 years Fern's (and Tommy K's before it) was the neighborhood gathering spot. We all went there after neighborhood meetings, ordering drinks and apps, dissecting the meeting, and making the real decisions. I'll never forget the first time Marianne Lanick (O'Brien, replay) told me, after I chaired one of my first Neighborhood development meetings "We had a quorum at the meeting, and we settled it at Fern's afterward." The next meeting, she invited me along so I could learn how it really happened. If you, for some reason, did NOT attend the post-meeting meeting, you were liable to find a to-go box "present" of leftovers at your doorstep from a giggling crew later that night.

Until the smoking ban, Fern's smelled like the inside of an ashtray. For awhile, to separate the bar (smoking…

The Best Bartender in the Twin Cities

A couple of years ago, I took Patrick out for his birthday dinner during a time that was particularly stressful for us. We had a nice dinner, and then headed to Lawless for the first time. We were immediately hooked, not just for the fantastic drinks, but also for the bartending service, especially Adam, who was exactly the bartender we needed, at exactly the TIME we needed him.

We still head to Lawless every chance we get. But Adam moved on to Alma, and then to Martina. We've gone there twice to stalk him have dinner and drinks, but neither time worked out. So, with a free evening because Beatrix was at a sleepover, we headed over tonight.

And boy, was it the right choice!

So this is what you need to do, if you want to have the magical kind of evening we just had. Belly up to the bar (which is likely your best chance of getting there anyway because that place reserves weeks if not months in advance.) Ask which bartender is Adam — though Dustin or Marco will do in a pinch — and te…


From my Twitter feed:

Turns out what you wear to David Byrne when you are 51 is what you wore when you were 15 - short dress and boots. Last night was one of this amazing nights where you experience things you experienced when you were younger — with all the same joy — but with the wisdom of being older. It was the real-life experience of:
Take the blue pill and you go back to the start, but with all the knowledge you have today – Take the red pill and you lose time, fast forward 30 years, but now have financial freedom. We started the night at Sweet Chow, opened by my acquaintance Julie Hartley and crew, which I have wanted to go to forever. Turns out that it's almost exactly like sitting in a somewhat upscale Thai alley street market for dinner. One of the best curries of my life. Loved it.

From there, we decided to walk down to the Orpheum for David Byrne. It's been a long time since I've wandered through downtown Minneapolis, and that was quite a nostalgia event as well…


So we got up this morning after sleeping in — we went out to a gala last night and then out with friends while Beatrix was at a sleepover — and proceeded to re-wallpaper the bedroom. Because that's how we roll.

Fist, though, the gala. Julia and Wade Burgess are the nicest folks you would ever want to meet. When we first met them, they truly had it all. Gorgeous home, two beautiful daughters, cabin up north, jobs they loved. But you underestimate just how close you can always be, as Nora McInerney says, to something bad happening. And one day, just awhile after they put their daughter Vivienne to sleep (just days before her third birthday) — well, that night they went in to check on her a little later and she was dead. SUDC, a rare but incredibly painful cause of death that affects hundreds of children a year. I can't even imagine, honestly.

With more grace than I would ever muster, the Burgesses founded the Vivienne's Joy Foundation, and last night's gala was the first…

Another Opening - Grand Catch

Tonight's soft opening was Grand Catch, over by Mac in the old Grand Central spot.

The place has a great New Orleans vibe and does their seafood boil right! (though maybe a little skimpy on the potatoes and corn, and let's face it, no one in town does a better crawfish boil than Jake Endres). But Patrick put on his bib and gloves and dug in and enjoyed his greatly!

I had the shrimp roll — also delicious. Beatrix stuck to rice — not much for kids on the menu.

Abita on tap for Patrick and a fantastic cocktail for me (though I ordered it for the egg white and that part was a little skimpy).

Great vibe and great food! It's stumbling distance from the Summit House, so we plan on being back — a lot!

5 Parks, 5 Days

We've been back a week (just seven days ago we were white-knuckle driving through an Iowa blizzard and our car was covered in half an inch of solid ice), and I have not had a chance to remark on the amazement that was our spring break trip!

We flew into Vegas and spent the night at a HORRIBLE Howard Johnson's. Like incredibly dirty and so filled with pot smoke you got a contact high from it. But we were only there 5 hours, and then drove on. Lesson learned.

Day 1 - Zion. Zion is a lot of people's favorite park, and I understand why. It's incredibly beautiful, and our hike (up to the start fo the Narrows) was gorgeous. I really want to go back and stay in the lodge and hike the full Narrows (though with a smallish kid and 40 degree water, I think restraint was the better part of valor on this trip). The river was lovely and we did play in it some. It was a beautiful park, but also between the shuttles and the construction and the people it was a bit hard to manipulate.


Soft Open

Apparently something in some digital profile calls me an "influencer," because I have been invited to two soft openings this week.

Tuesday we went to Fresh Thyme, which opened on University Avenue in Prospect Park. Right now, our grocery patterns are very scattered, between Target, Mississippi Market, sometimes Aldi and Costco, TJ's, Lund's, and Kowalski's. I liked Fresh Thyme a lot, and expect I'll end there a fair amount because I have a lot of clients at University and 280. The takeaway food (soups, sushi, salad, olive bar) were good, the fruit and veggies very fresh and attractive, and a lot of good staples as well, and at least introductory prices were low. I can see shopping there a lot. Friend have commented that they prefer going to the Bloomington location and find that one technically "closer," but I'll shop in the city as opposed to in a suburb any chance I get.

Then tonight we stopped by The Parlour, which we have liked in Minneapolis…


After a great vacation, and driving from Denver to Minneapolis in one shot and through a blizzard, yesterday was a hard return to reality.

I was running a little late to Beatrix's Girl Scout presentation due to a meeting, but pulled up only a minute late at 7:31pm and got a parking spot right in front of the church on Hamline, across from Randolph Heights. I ran in, and felt like I had hit the mom jackpot.

And then, just a few minutes later, someone came in and told me my car had been broken into.

In just a few minutes, someone had shattered my window, grabbed my computer bag and purse, and taken off. Before the police could even arrive, my phone was buzzing with fraud alerts from charges made. And most of all, my work computer, and its backup, were gone.

It's like I lost my whole world at once.

People have been amazing. My amazing friend Amber immediately showed up with cake and wine (how did she know exactly what I needed?). Patrick installed a 9-month old backup on my old c…

These Boots

Patrick got me Blundstones for Christmas, after I not-so-delicately hinted how much I wanted them.

They are cute and trendy and I've worn them pretty constantly for work since then.

But now, these boots (shown covered with dust above, but they clean up well), have made it through five Utah national parks in five days.

They've hiked up trails, rock faces, through sand, across parking lots. They re the best hiking boots I've ever had.

Love them.

(more on the trip soon)

Clementine Pinterest Fail

"It's easy to make a clementine candle!"

We saved some old clementines after they got woody, but they did not work.

So then we tried it with a new clementine — scored the outside, pulled off the sections in full pieces, twisted a "wick" from the pith, filled it with olive oil — and it refused to light. We used up a ton of tighter fluid trying to get it to work, and then gave up.

Pinterest fail. One thing off the bucket list.

(can you tell we're a little at loose ends waiting for our flight to leave?)

Power and Beauty

Yesterday, while Beatrix was at a Girl Scout event, Patrick and I went over to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (I just can't call it "Mia") to finally get a chance to see Power and Beauty, the Robert Wilson installation.

I'll forgo a description of the exhibit (though I do have some photos below), because I think you should see it yourself (It runs through May), and because I feel like everyone's reaction to the show will be very personal. I have friends who have loved it, and others who are meh on it. (I'm in the former camp, by the way).

But a couple of major points came to mind:

The sheer power of theatre, even when it has no live performance element. Wilson's installation is brilliant at evoking emotion, and of using multiple senses; each room is trickily visual, but with an aural element (that overlaps room to room). A room displaying robes is wrapped in dried grasses, so there's a particular smell to it; another room evokes a sense of a cave, e…

Wintermoon Summersun

There was a time — both not all that long ago and simultaneously several lifetimes past — where the wilderness was crucial to my soul. When I spent weeks at a time in the northwoods in the summer, and weekends in the winter, and where the peace of that place brought a tranquility and balance to my soul. When I was confident in my outdoor skills, and when I had a number of awesome, kind of hippie, feminist role models to teach me about being true to myself.
And I grew up, and moved away from that, though it was always inside of me.
SO when I tell you that my weekend dogsledding at WintermoonSummersun was transformative, that’s what I mean.
It’s true that dogsledding has not always been a “bucket list” item, and that when we pulled into the dog yard and saw the thirty-some dogs, each with their own house and name and area, that I was immediately smitten with all of it. When we learned how to take care of them, and when the dogs got to know us, it was an incredible sense of partnership…