Showing posts from July, 2019

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.