Showing posts from 2019


I had every intention of doing a daily blog post, but that has crashed and burned. Something about taking the first full day off I have had in forever to just have fun and enjoy the experience scuttered all kinds of things.

So until later, here are my husband's blog posts and a good picture:

Return to Horse Camp

In 2017,  I wrote a post about what was likely my daughter's last trip to horse camp. I'm delighted to say I was wrong.

Though she and her friends had kind of aged out of horse camp, this year Elk River added a "Horsing Around with Mom" camp for older girls, and so we went back, along with her friends Meara, Flannery, Dia, Matilda, and their moms. The girls are just a few weeks away from all going to different middle schools (except Dia and Beatrix, who will be together at SPA), so it felt especially poignant.

We had a blast! We were put in a lovely, brand new cabin — Pinto — which felt like glamping, with AC, showers, bathrooms, etc. (we had stayed at Pinto before, but it's old iteration was a totally different direction across camp and was quite rustic, even though adorable; I think that version of Pinto, though, has gone to the proverbial glue factory). There was a great screen porch for hanging out at night. We were just a short distance from the new horse ba…

So It's SPA...

For all of those who worry about what elementary school to send your child to, because middle school scares you, I can assure you that Beatrix had an embarrassment of riches. She was accepted into 3 very different schools — Capitol Hill (SPPS), School of Norther Lights (charter), and Saint Paul Academy (private). SPA is my alma mater, but more than that, we really wanted her to go there because she seemed to fit there, but we just could not make the money work despite some very generous financial aid.

We chose Capitol Hill and were super excited to send her there, which is nearby and a great school and where she knows a few people.

And then, 3 days ago, it all turned upside-down.

While we were relaxing after the summer circus shows up at the cabin, the amazing admissions person at SPA reached out and asked if we could reconsider if they made they money work. The incoming class was full, but she kept on thinking about Beatrix, and our family, and what a fit we would be. So we sent off…

Twin Day

As I have aged, I've met several people who share my birthday (shoutout to Donna, Scot, March, Harry, Crash, and Andy). But when you are younger, the idea that someone is born on "your" day is a new one, and when I met my "twin" Kelly when we were both in our early teens (or were we even younger?), having a birthday twin was a true novelty.

We've spent our lives telling unsuspecting people we were twins, actually. "Yeah, she's older, by about 6 hours. It was a long labor. Our mom even changed states." Or the always popular "Identical, of course. Why do you ask?"

But here's also the thing. It also means I've known Kelly for a long time, and to some extent, that "twin-ness" is not a lie. I've known him since he was a kind of gawky, nerdy kid who took way too many risks because he was simultaneously incredibly confident and fairly insecure. I've seen him excel at many, many things he loves (ok, and fail miserab…

Baking as a Love Language

When I was a kid I used to get home from school, do my homework, and then bake something for my mom and me. My bible was an old blue Pillsbury cookbook (it's long lost its cover and I can't seem to find a replica online) that was filled with all kinds of recipes. It taught me how to bake cakes from scratch, how to make substitutions, and how to know instinctively what something should look and taste like (because there were no photos, and let's admit it, this was the late 1970s-early 80s and my palate was definitely at "expanding.") Because there were only two of us, though, we ate cookies or cake for days.

Fats forward. The past month my husband has been rigging a circus show every night. He comes home exhausted and snacky and wired up. So, since getting Dessert Cooking for Two, I've taken to surprising him with treats — double chocolate cookies, the "very best" chocolate chip cookies, caramel crumb bars, pear and coconut crisp — and all have both…

See Live Performance

This time of year, I end up seeing Lots and Lots and Lots of circus. Beatrix and I have already seen TWISTED several times (and Patrick has rigged every show), and we show no signs of slowing down anytime soon. There are performances all next weekend with a few tickets left — you should see it too! It's a rollicking mash-up of fairy tales with some of the most intricate act pairings I've seen CJ do, and some incredible performances. You'll love it!

For something completely different tonight, after the show at CJ went up, I went to see Full Circle's performance of GLASS and LADY M running as part of the Fringe tonight. I love seeing shows at Dreamland Arts because it's such a cozy, lovely venue so close to my house. And I love everything I have seen at Full Circle. This piece, though, blew me away. The scripts were compelling, the direction outstanding, and the performances incredible. It's left me with a ton to think about. Because of our schedule right now it …

Tree Pose

Today I was given a 10' serviceberry tree that a friend of a friend had removed from their (beautiful) yard. I'm worried about our nanny berry, which is not doing well this year after the evil neighbors cut off some branches extending over their yard. And the same neighbors have a camera pointing at our pool, which I have long wanted to block.

Luckily, I just had to drive a few blocks — slowly — with a 10' tree sticking out of my car. I then managed to get it planted, even though I truly suck at digging holes. Hopefully with some water and love it will settle in nicely. I love having  a job where, even though I was assembling board books at midnight last night, I can take an hour out in the middle fo the day to plant a tree.

I still want to do some major rethinking of the garden space at Summit. Something just does not work for me. I want more space for gathering, and twinkly lights, and more flowers. But I'm crap at garden design.

But maybe it starts with a tree.

Someone New to Listen To

“I bet you wanted to be older when you were 11 too!” stormed Beatrix yesterday about something or other. And she’s right, of course. When I was her age, all the theatre people and artists I admired were much older, and doing really cool creative things, and I could not wait for that to happen for me.
Fast forward….
This afternoon, a bunch of neighborhood leaders and charter school stakeholders had yet another disagreement about a historic Hausler church that will be lost as a result of that school’s expansion. Meanwhile, I sat in an old AME church that had at the last minute made room for the final Songs of Hope concert (which otherwise performs in Boyd Park, but was rained out) and saw kids from all over the world, who had come to live together for 6 weeks and make music and friendships, sing their hearts out.
This weekend, while adults on a Facebook complain bellyached about a bike lane being closed for a few days, the Circus Juventas kids flew on flying brooms, swung from the Russ…

People's House

For me as a preservationist, it's been a hard week. The impending demolition of Saint Andrew's Church, and of a house on my block that does to 1884, has hit me hard and has me doing a lot of thinking.

So it was a nice contrast to that to tour the Governor's Mansion on Friday. I've lived in Minnesota my whole life and have never been inside (though I have brought Beatrix for Halloween every year, and we have a great picture of Beatrix with Governor Dayton and Bingo when he was a puppy). So when we had a chance to tour the other day, we jumped at it (Beatrix loved it too, which shows you how geeky-historical minded we are).

I'm not going to go into the whole history of the mansion, which was donated by the Dodge family so that the state would have a residence for the First Family. Instead, I would direct you to the 1006 Society website, and ensure that you know that the work on the house is paid for by this non-profit, not by taxpayer funds.

One of the things that I …

Open House

All three of us love the Minnesota History Center. Before he died, my dad used to get us a membership to it every year for Christmas, so we've been there (and to their other sites) many times. I'll never forget the time in kindergarten that Beatrix stopped at the Minnesota kiosk and was able to wow the person working there by listing off the Minnesota state bird, tree, flower, rock, and even the state muffin.

But since she was tiny, Beatrix's favorite exhibit has been "Open House." It's the story of a house on the East Side of Saint Paul (it's a real house, still there), originally built by the Schumacher family after they emigrated here from Germany (with a stop in Henderson, Minnesota on the way). It then became a duplex, and for some time that was the "Little Italy" neighborhood of Saint Paul and it had a strong Italian presence as you walk through the reconstructed kitchen.

You then move through the bedroom (with a bed that always breaks!) an…

Ode to 633 Ashland

Since I bought my house in 1993, the Hill family in this house has been our neighbors. First John and Marie and their sons, then just Marie and her younger son Eddie, and now Marie has passed (at 100!) and Eddie has moved out. The house was sold to one of those wholesale acquisition companies, who turned it around for a huge asking price (190K), and I suspect it will soon be torn down and replaced with some Pottery Barn McMansion horror.

The house is 1884 and is the earliest on the street. Ours was build in 1886, and several of the other ones on the street were moved in when the fields and playground for Webster School were put in down the street.

I know a lot of people look at this and are horrified, but I really wish we could have bought it and saved it.

Running Aces

Running Aces is a sponsor of Circus Juventas, and tonight a bunch of staff made a field trip out there to check it out!

I've actually never seen a horse race before, mainly because I don't tend to gamble and I'm too cheap to pay the cover. If you are anything like me in that, Running Aces is a good solution, because there is no cover, you can go and watch the races for free! It's also harness racing, which is really interesting to see.

(Yes, I placed my first bet ever, on Custard's Dungeon in the 5th race. No, he did not win.)

We even got to have a group picture taken with one of the winning horse in the Winer's Box. A magnificent animal.

The rest of the place was pretty interesting as well. There are several gaming tables, but it's not overwhelming. There's also a trout pond, and several of us fished for our dinner. I caught the smallest trout ever (guess he was hungry!), but Patrick was patient and waited (and caught 4 that he did not totally hook) bef…

Star Bright

Tonight we had a mini-date at Bar Brigade while Beatrix was at circus. The Lawless folks had taken over for a cocktail tasting called "Star Bright," and so we got to try 5 Hemingway-inspired cocktails, each with a highly varied store that wold do Papa proud. I introduce:

the Key West Punch (look at the flower!)

Green Isaac's Special (coconut!)

the Montgomery Martini (a true martini)

Death in the Afternoon (absinthe and sparkling wine!)

Gregorio's Rx (our fave)

I love the feeling at the Bar Brigade bar, and bartender Oona (I think that's how it's spelled) is one of the best in town. I'll happily meet you there for any happy hour I can sneak away to without feeling like a terrible parent. But this really ups the game! (cocktails on rotation for the rest of the summer)


So we have gorgeous hardwood floors, and rugs. But when you have what I refer to as a "low-rent petting zoo," the animals are going to have some accidents on said rugs. We recently purchased a Ruggable for one room, but I don't know that they are practical for everywhere, or that we can afford it — plus some of our rugs have sentimental value. So we consulted Bob Vila's tips for rug cleaning.

Basically, you vacuum the rug well, then scrub it with a mix of water, dish soap, and vinegar until it gets lathering. Rinse really well with the hose, flip over, and do it again. Of course, that means a 6x9 rug like our hall rug gets REALLY heavy.

The water coming out was disgusting, and now our pretty patio is a little damp and scungy too....

We then let it drain overnight, and hauled it into the garage so Patrick could run the steam cleaner to extract the water . We'll see. When we finished today it had kind of that "wet teddy bear" look. We also tried a smaller…

Independence Day

So secretly, I love firework shows. I understand they freak out dogs and vets with PTSD and find the amateur ones that go on far past the 4th of July annoying, but there's nothing like a good fireworks show. And I'm happy that American Independence Day is in July, because British fireworks for Guy Fawkes Day in November are cold!

We're often not even in the US for the 4th, but this year we were. After a couple of lovely, low-key parties, we found our way over to the super-secret neighborhood park where a band of unknown vigilantes sets off fireworks every year. I'd never been before (revoke my Saint Pau; card!), and last year was supposed to be the last, but a push for funding this year allowed it to happen, so we figured we had to go.

A ton of people were gathered by the time we got there, all through the park and on neighboring street corners. A tinny radio played heavily American-themed pop (think Proud to be an American and Old Town Road). Kids ran around with spar…


Anyone who knows my sister-in-law, Patrice, knows how much she adores her New Orleans porch. But you might not know how long I have coveted a good, Southern-style porch as well, though it's been a slow build to it.

I've had the furniture for awhile, and got the rug (courtesy of the neighborhood BST board) last year. There's a (perhaps too-bright) chandelier out there, and I just string the little basket lights. But the piece de resistance, which I just made and strung up during a rain squall, is the sheer curtain made from a roll of fabric I found at my dad's, which hides the neighbor's weedy yard and the big air conditioning unit.

It's not perfect yet. I would like some big floppy Boston ferns, or maybe something bright, in the planter. Some pillows might be good too. But in general I love it, and can hardly wait to hang out and read on the porch with a cocktail!


ETA:  Added some fun details, it's coming along!

In Hot Water

One reason I love our old homes is that I love creating lovely spaces for people to gather. My favorite home improvement yet is when we redid our dining room to match our china.

But sometimes, home improvements are less exciting. Like when you are up at the cabin for the weekend and your father-in-law, who is housesitting, calls to say that the water heater has failed and has leaked all over the basement floor.

That water heater was the first thing we put in when we bought the house. It's 28 years old. Sigh.

Getting a new water heater involved endless amounts of research — regular vs. tankless, power boost, etc. It also took time. Luckily we don't shower much and had another place to go to.

So today we finally got the new one put in. Your basic "forty shorty."

It was, admittedly, not my favorite way to spend $1,000 unexpectedly. But having hot water again is really nice.

Summer of Fun

In past years I've had Summer of Peacocks, Summer of Gin, and Summer of Rosé. Last year, though, was Summer of Death. Since then. I've had a year of making up for the time I took off to deal with my dad to have Fall, Winter, and Spring of Too Much Work.

So I'm declaring this summer the Summer of Fun. I'm going to work on puzzles and stay up late watching movies. I'm going to lie on the hammock and read. I'm going to take the dogs for walks. I'm going to hang out in the back yard and drink wine with friends (ok, not tonight because it's raining). I'm hoping for some great cocktails. I'm going to enjoy the heck out of hanging with Beatrix before she goes into middle school and starts not wanting to spend time with me.

And actually I'm hoping to do a lot of nothing. Or at least some of that.

I'm going to start Summer of Fun Friday night with a pool party. I hope you'll be there. But if not, we  have all summer.

When Theater Lies to You

I've bene lucky enough, in the last week, to have seen Caught by Full Circle Theater Company  and Birds of the Future by Skewed Visions — two similar yet very different shows that have turned things up-side down for me.

In both, you enter the world of the piece by entering through a very visual set space; in Caught, a gallery, and in Birds, more like my dad's basement. Both then bring you abruptly into their worlds;  in Caught that is a world of evocative words as expressed by incredible performances, and in Birds, a world of very physical performance, punctuated by a few sections of very visceral language. Caught is a more linear piece, which makes the way it spins you on your head all the more surprising. In a Skewed Visions piece, you expect to be turned around, but you still at some point sit with your neck craned wondering "How did I get here?"

Both are incredible shows (and with low ticket prices), and run for one more week. I can't recommend enough the exp…

Becoming a Learner

This morning, I attended Beatrix's LAST "Randy's Races" track and field day at Randolph Heights. It was, fittingly, just about as cold as it was for her first one in kindergarten, when Ms. Nelson broke away from her all day off-campus training to run down and whip her huge class of hellions into angelic shape, and when the entire kindergarten class ended the day by all doing the Michael Jackson "Killer" dance with Ms. Kritta. They were so tiny that many of them cried when they could not scoot their cart across the tennis court or fell out of their burlap sack as they hopped.

Today, they were much bigger. They handled the games with aplomb, as well as a lot of joy. Beatrix was chosen as one of the older kids to help with some of the younger classes. And I almost cried because the lasts are coming fast and furious now.

Immediately after, Patrick and I whipped down to a Character Recognition Luncheon by the Synergy and Leadership Exchange (the Global Executive…

Some Days

Some days you end up doing yard work over your lunch break because it's the only time you can and it's about to rain for 7 days straight. So you are in a pencil skirt and (low sensible) heels cutting down stems and raking things and thinking that there has to be a better way.

But there wasn't, really, because it was just this last weekend you got the all clear to cut down dead stems because it's been a late spring and pollinator bees were still hibernating in them. And over the weekend you worked all day Saturday and didn't want to tackle this particular yard work on mothers day, though you did do some other yard work.

So the pollinators are safe and you are cutting the stems and you have mulch in your shoe and you are thinking about this is then first year you knew not to cut the stems, and even though it's a PITA to be doing yard work on a random Wednesday afternoon it still seems like a reasonable price to pay for a pollinator or two. And you feel bad you ha…

You Betcha!

Recently, I helped a new friend set up her Quickbooks. She has a great food subscription box company called the You Betcha! Box, and as a thank you, she sent me one!

Its delivery was actually a little anticlimactic; I came home to find the subscription box, along with a box containing some new Danskos I had ordered, placed squarely in the path of a mini-waterfall off of our porch roof. Thank you, substitute mail dude (our regular guys incredibly careful, so I know it was not him!)

I had seen some of Katie's other boxes while I was there working on Quickbooks, but know this would be the best one as soon as I opened it:

First there was some great information about the small Minnesota vendors in the box, plus a coupon for a tour of a distillery in Carver (yum):. Years ago, I worked with an arts consortium forming in Carver, so I am excited to head out there and see what they have been up to! Plus, I love the focus on music education:

Then we got to the snacks, some great, distinctive…

The Rest of New York

My friend Laura writes amazing travel blog posts and I always aspire to be more like her in that. But now it's been almost 2 weeks since we have been home, and I had better get my thoughts about New York down right quick!

We got to see my friend Dawn's lovely apartment (and she made us breakfast). I'm so thrilled as to where she is in her life!

We say the amazing White Noise by Suzan-Lori Parks at the Public (my first show at the Public!). It was a little too old, likely for Beatrix, but honestly riveting for all of us. And we ran into our neighbor, Carol, and her fantastic daughter Tiffany, a photographer who lives in New York. We were so busy chatting to them after the show that we stuck around forever — just long enough to see David Diggs come out and tell him what a mind-blowing job he had done! He was charming and gracious and very quiet. (Want to know more? Studio 360 has a new piece on it that ran tonight!)

We stopped in to Steamy Hallows, a Harry Potter pop-up coff…