Showing posts from 2020

When We Get Through This

Governor Walz's brilliant State of the State speech tonight talked about how much better and stronger we'll be once we come out on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis.

When we get through this (assuming I'm still alive):

-  I will never put off that drink with a friend (looking at you, Dan Smith) because I am too busy, because lord knows when it will be able to happen.

-  I will, in general, see friends and family more.

-  I'll have dinner parties.

-  I will be better at making cocktails, but will still go out for them all the time.

-  I will take advantage of every opportunity I have to travel.

-  We will make pool parties all the more awesome.

-  I will joyously support small businesses (and especially restaurants) and recognize them for what they do for our community.

-  I will probably hire that housecleaner I've bene meaning to, because I like having a clean house.

-  I will probably be more lenient on Beatrix spending time with friends, even when it's a…

Corona Cleaning - Library

We really use each room in our home, especially on the main floor. Bu the library, which has books and a comfy couch close to a computer charger, and the large monitor that we watch movies on in place of a TV, is perhaps the most snug gathering spot in the house.

It's also often the messiest:

So our plan for today, since yesterday and the release of the PPP loans almost killed me for work, as to get that space both organized AND deep cleaned.

Honestly, the books were in pretty good shape and only needed a little re-jiggering. But our magazines, including years of Old House Journal, needed some help, so we started with those.

Once we got the books better organized we were able to get the set of silver and the 2 sets of silver-plate together (I guess if this ever ends we need to have more dinner parties.) We were also able to take the various bags and boxes of photos and organize them to be scanned, plus clean out other bags of things that had been dumped there. We cleaned through t…

The Things I Miss

Here in MN, it's only been a few days since the stay-at-home order, but we've been in more-or-less self-quarantine (minimal going out, social distancing when out) since March 14. Which, in the scale of things, might be a very small portion of how long we're confined.

And there are a lot of things I miss.

I miss cocktails (and taprooms). Of course, there's plenty we can drink here. Patrick went to Lawless today and got a to-go kit and it was lovely and gave some sense of that. But I don't miss the drinks as much as I miss the atmosphere, the sense of going out with Patrick for a special drink, taking the dog to the taproom. I miss sharing that experience.

I miss yoga — and Viv, and Joe, and chex mix, and every part of Yoga and a Pint. Viv has a subscription model, and we have been doing yoga at home. It's a good online course (though we can't get the playlist right. But it's still not the same.

I miss seeing friends. Zoom happy hours are nice, and allow …

Corona Cleaning - Pantry

So sometimes, when, say, you are at home a lot more than usual you notice you have pantry moths. And then you wander into your pantry and think "I wonder where those moths are coming from?" while simultaneously admiring that you are so wonderfully prepped for situations where you have to shelter in place, because your pantry is so full of delicious food.

And then it hits you like a load of bricks that the moths are coming out of said food, and have somehow gotten into tightly sealed containers and bags. And so you start to clean through it and realize that sure, you were ready for a pandemic — 3 years ago when all of this food expired.

(the side shelves had been packed as well, but I always forget to take before pictures)

It actually took us a couple of days to clean through things, to decide what we did not need, and to, sadly, throw away a lot of food. I'm still trying to suss what to do with the food we just don't want, so if anyone wants a bottle of sweet potato …

An Out of the Box Proposal

(I warned you I was fired up today).

As you may have noticed, a lot of my mind has gone towards 1) flattening the curve, and 2) the seemingly opposite goal of reducing the catastrophic economic effect on small businesses.

According to the governor's press conference yesterday, 123,000 people have applied for unemployment, and I think there's a lot more to come.

And I know for a fact that the reason that small businesses are afraid to close are 1) so they can continue to employ their workers, who they feel a responsibility for, and 2) because there is no/little help for business owners. The businesses that are still open don't want to be open, they just don't see another way. The ones that are already closed are terrified.

So what if we (as a city, state, or country, likely the city or state) enacted this plan:

1) A small (under 3.5 million? Higher budget? Lower?) business registers with the city/state/feds as "temporarily closed for COVID-19." (I don't kn…

On Unemployment - A Primer

(wow, as I post this I realize how very much the world has changed since my last post — going out with sled dogs and eating a buffet styled brunch in a crowded taproom seems like a whole different world from where we are now...)

A lot of people I know are filing for unemployment right now. A record 95,000 people applied for MN UI on Monday, and I expect a lot more to. I've had to help clients furlough staff this week, and it has been excruciating.

The state is handling it pretty well, all things considered, and are funneling people towards quick web applications if possible. The governor eliminated the "waiting week" so people can get funding faster. The catastrophic economic effects that this COVID-19 virus is having on this country are unprecedented, and I think it will only get worse before it gets better.

What I've been musing on all week (similar to the thought in this article from Forbes), is the extraordinary — and currently somewhat invisible — effect that th…

Our Crazy Lives - Typical Weekend Day

What a great day!

We started out today with a dogsledding brunch at Birch's on the Lake. I was really sad not to be able to make it up to Wintermoon Summersun this year, and I had wanted to see the Beargrease or the Excelsior dog races but no dice. So when I saw this event come up I knew it was a poor substitute, but jumped on it, and it was really fun! There was still ice and snow on the lake, and though it was hot for the dogs they were eager to pull. We had fun riding and had a great brunch. What a lovely venue; I will for sure be back. Gosh I love sled dogs!

We came home for some quick rest and for me to get a grant in, then headed to night 2 of Beatrix's show. She had quite the fan club, and it was fun to see how it's changing and evolving. Last show tomorrow is at 2pm!

She went out with a friend after the show and so we got to hit the FeMNist Night Market and to grab some quick drinks at Stacked Deck, which is one of our favorite breweries.

And tomorrow, we get to ge…

On Politics

I don't often post on politics here. The internet is a terrible way to try to understand someone's position, much less change it of that's your goal. But I am writing this now, mostly as a reminder to myself.

I'm using the same one-day rule I give Beatrix when she is disappointed in something.You have one day to storm about how it is not fair, and to feel bad, and to blame the people who voted for someone else (but quietly and to yourself please), and to think the whole thing is rigged and stupid. Heck, if you want to take today to go deep into Russian conspiracy theories about were MN polls rigged because the DMV also went down statewide all day yesterday, I'm right there behind you.

And then tomorrow you have to something about it. Did my Facebook post yesterday irk you because you thought I was ignoring fundamental inequities in systems where poll lines are long and there are too few voting stations? Work on that. (For the record, I agree with you; I was trying …

Yum Yumi

So why do we get all these date nights, you may ask.

On Fridays, Beatrix has circus from 5-8:15. It's generally long enough for a dinner date or drinks. And this is tech week for her musical (Dear Edwina at SPA, plays Friday and Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, it will be adorable!), so we get to hit extra happy hours!

Tonight, we decided to try Yumi, on Selby in the old Fabulous Ferns (RIP) site. As we walked in, we appreciated how the space had been opened up and cleared out, with bright surfaces and nary a hint of the old cigarette smell (even after the smoking ban, Ferns always smelled like smoke. It used to be so bad I would come home and undress in the hallway and put my clothes in a  plastic bag. But those times are past).

We were immediately seated at a cozy little table.

The happy hour menu does not seem to be find-able online but it's pretty good (only runs form 4-5 and 9-10pm). It's one of those blanket ones where all the beer and wine are $1 or so off, so w…

Brutus on Brewpubs - Lake Monster

So Lake Monster Brewing has long had a special place in our hearts. It's right across the courtyard from FilmNorth. It's the home for our "church," Yoga and a Pint. They are generous with community functions, and the vibe is great.

Last year they got dog-certified, and Brutus likes it too.

That made it especially great for me to come here for work get-togethers when I was nervous about meeting people. Brutus makes an excellent wingman.

A few weeks back, LM had a dispute with Goodwill, who had provided some couches in exchange for advertising. Goodwill claimed the ads were not visible (which is totally untrue because I used to move the table tent over every week so I would not spill chex mix on it after yoga). So the owners went out and got 3 big comfy couches and a ton of chairs. It feels like the Friends coffeeshop, but with booze. It's great.

And when we come we get to see Joe, one of the best taproom managers you'll ever meet.

Lake Monster. 5/5 from both B…

Leap Year

What did you do with your extra day this year?

I got to:

-  Attend a book club at SPA centered around How to be an Anti-Racist. Lots of good conversation and ideas, but the one that resonates with me most is "Are we always focused on being right, rather than how we can be most effective?" (and what can I do to change that dynamic myself?)

-  Fill the day with lots of other errands.

-  Find out it was the last day for Ice Castles and we had purchased advance vouchers earlier this year, so we headed out. Truth be told, it felt like one more thing to jam into an already too-busy day, but it was a ton of fun and I'm glad we had family time together.

- Attend two Leap Day parties.

Current status: Patrick is headed to the store to pick up ingredients to make an egg bake for a brunch tomorrow....

Friday Night Fish Fry - Hope Breakfast Bar

There's not a Catholic bone in my body, but I love me a good Lenten fish fry.  I mean, they're not as much fun as Mardi Gras, but nothing is — and they're a great way to wait out the time until you get to the Day of the Holy Cadbury Creme Egg.

On Friday nights, Beatrix has 3 hours of circus, so Patrick and I get a date night. So tonight, we decided to head out to a fish fry — but which one? So many choices! So hard to decide! I had a friend who used to have a hilarious Friday Night Fish Fry blog, but it's gone defunct. We were on our own.

I had heard earlier today that Hope Breakfast Bar had a fish fry. I love Hope — the beautiful restored firehouse building, the friendly staff, the food that's a nod to NOLA. But I figured it would be packed. Nevertheless, we decided to try.

We walked in and the place was almost empty despite (because of?) the state wrestling tournament going on down the road. So all that really meant was the service was even better than usual. We…

I'm Not a Minimalist But....

In January, I entered a contest online to win three hours of an organizer's time, in a contest generously sponsored by Leah Morris from Mindfully Minimized. This is the photo of my office space that I submitted to prove how badly I needed her help (if you're a client, you may not want to look....). Perhaps not shockingly, I won, I think because she felt sorry for me.

You all know I struggle with minimalism. So, although I badly needed this, I was not at all sure it would work for me, or even if I was up to the task. I just don't ever seem to have the minimalist mindset. I was pretty sure I would end up in tears, and Leah would run screaming (or at the very least least kind of annoyed with me).

Leah asked me to do very little prep, but my "homework" was to come up with thee words that described my space/the project. I chose:

-  cluttered
-  overwhelmed
-  guilty

The last word really wraps it up. Guilty for squandering space, for not keeping track of things, for no…

New Car, Who 'Dis?

We've needed a new car for awhile. Patrick's car has been on the edge of viable for some time, and though we could put not a ton of money in it and get it fixed, with both of our cars the same age and mileage we were likely to hit a double whammy of car purchase necessity. In any case, his Volvo, which we got a few years ago at a VERY chaotic time, really needed to be replaced

So he's been looking, and narrowed it down to certain specifications (he's become a Volvo guy, really wanted the XC70, certain year and mileage specs, etc.) He's test driven a few that were not quite right, and then this one came up.

At the same time, we have been a 1-car family for 10-days now — with no another week to go — while my car was in the shop recovering from a hit-and-run sideswipe in Chicago last Thanksgiving. For a normal, go-to-one-place-every-day kind of family, maybe not  big deal, but in our family it's disastrous. Today alone we had to take Beatrix to 4 different girl sc…


Beatrix turns 12 early tomorrow morning. Tonight, she is up on the 3rd floor with two of her closest friends, communing with ghosts on a  new ouija board that replaces the one she made with tinfoil and a sharpie when she was desperate to have one last year.

That means that, twelve years ago right now just this minute I was in the throes of a very difficult labor, hopped up on pitocin, with an epidural that would not take, and our amazing doula Vanessa doing all the magic she could to keep it together (which she did).

Though that night seems like yesterday, it means that I have been a mom for about a quarter of my life — a point that struck hard when I recently realized that I had also been motherless for 25% of my life.

And tonight at Beatrix's birthday party I watched her laugh and joke with her closest friends, who all seem to know her so well. They are an extraordinary group of young women, whose banter I loved overhearing, and I feel so lucky that she has the friends she has. …

Brutus on Brewpubs - Insight Brewing

Brutus LOVES going to taprooms. So we thought it was time to start an occasional series on the places he likes.

It's even exciting going in the car to get there.

Patrick and I like Insight because of the complex IPAs (I'm such an effing GenX stereotype), so that's where we headed yesterday.

Here he is contemplating his drink choices:

There was a nice man offering dog cookies made with brewer's yeast and organic peanut butter cookies. Brutus is looking for him here ("WHERE ARE THE COOKIES??!!"):

There was a beautiful Samoyed at the next table and a few other dogs elsewhere in the taproom. Brutus was especially amused that a lovely young lady came to say "Hi!" to him, and then was followed over by several young men who, we suspect, were more drawn by the young lady than the dog.

We give Insight 5 of 5 for the drinks. Brutus give sit 4/5 for the atmosphere and the fan club but 5 of 5 for the cookies.

What's Next?

This started as a Facebook post, but I've been asked to put it here too:

I get it. We all knew the Senate impeachment trial was a sham, but we still really could not believe it would actually proceed without witnesses, and we were all playing the "You Don't Have the Votes" section of "Cabinet Battle #1" when McConnell pretended not to have the votes to block them. But honestly, deep inside we all know that if Mother Theresa had risen from the dead with video of T*ump literally sitting on a missile and saying "Nanny nanny fu fu" to Ukraine, it would not have mattered. So we can all take through this morning's coffee to feel mad and cheated and angry and frustrated and mourn the death of democracy. But after that, the sun is out today. We need to work in the 2020 election not only to make sure we have a new president, but also to overturn the Senate. And we have to root this kind of corruption out at the core.  We need to run and support candida…

Co(ven) Working

So does anyone remember a few years back when everyone and their brother seemed to be running a co-working space? It started with CoCo (now Fueled Collective), which is still going strong, but most of the other businesses who threw a few desks into empty rooms with the prospect of MLM-styled rent and one ancient, shared printer seem to have gone by the wayside. (see also the Wikipedia entry for We Work.)

Lately there seems to be a resurgence, of which I am very skeptical. That is, until I toured The Coven's new space yesterday for their opening.

First of all, it's a beautiful space that takes advantage of one of my favorite buildings in Saint Paul. Win for adaptive use.

Second of all, it's well-designed. There is over 9,000 square feet of space that makes use of a basement level that does not seem basement-y at all. One winds around to multiple spall spaces with desks, comfy seating areas, conference rooms, small "phone booths," and all-around innovative spaces.

Snow Day No Way

Yesterday was supposed to be Snowpocalypse. More than a foot of snow, starting around noon and running into the next day, everything cancelled, etc.

It made for a sense of anticipation in the morning. My friend Mary came over in the morning to look at the kitchen at the Hague House, and had some fantastic ideas (plus I love spending time with her, as Patrick says, she has great energy).

I had been trying to schedule a time to look at some office spaces in Landmark Center for a potential client move, but both my schedule and Amy's (the ED at Landmark) have been crazy. The snow day sense meant that some meetings got cancelled, so I was able to get over and find some good possibilities for them. I love the sense of place of that building and can't believe it was almost demolished.

It also seems I know half the tenants there, so it was like old home week. So much so that I was able to nab an impromptu lunch at the new Afro Deli with my friend Elyse.

And later in the day Patrick an…

Ben Folds

The perfect response to a day with some hard news was to go out with friends and and see Ben Folds with the Minnesota Orchestra (and dinner at Monello beforehand was perfect, thanks for the tip, Kate Baxter-Kauf!)

My friend Katharine had a New Years Resolution a few years back to see more concerts. Though that has not been one of my stated resolutions (which tend to deal with dinner parties and cocktails), it has been on my mind, and over the past year Patrick and I have seen some fantastic concerts — including Billy Bragg, Amanda Palmer, and Mary Chapin Carpenter with Shawn Colvin. So when Elaine asked if we wanted to see Ben Fold we jumped at the chance!

We don't get to Orchestra Hall often enough; I was ruminating on this during the opening Brahms piece. I used to go more when I worked for arts organizations that get comps, but truth be told I'm not all that well-versed in classical music and don't prioritize it it enough when it's not made easy for me. In fact I th…