Showing posts from July, 2014

A Decade

Ten years ago tonight, I was not sitting in my living room typing. I was down the hill, at United Hospital, sitting in a room and wondering if my mother would die that night. For those that knew me then, that was quite the summer. My marriage had shattered, I had serious fibroids that could cause me to lose quarts of blood at a time, my house had been broken in to, and even the cat had been diagnosed with diabetes. But really, all that seemed of no consequence compared to the day in early July when my mother had called me with stomach pain, and had been diagnosed when I took her to the ER with stage IV colon cancer. That was sort of a lost summer. I don't remember eating, or sleeping much. I remember days at the hospital, and hot summer nights sitting outside drinking with friends and trying to make some sense of what had become my life. I remember specific moments with extreme clarity — my friends Robert and Jan giving me a window fan, visiting Jennifer and Ken as they spen

Garden Plea for Help

(file under resolution "Restore the Soul of the Summit House"…) About 10 years back, my mother contracted with a landscaping firm (which shall remain nameless), to do a lot of work at Summit. She wanted a firm boundary between the house and the house to the east (which has literary aspirations to both Boo Radley and Miss Havisham), so they planted 4 large magnolias. Under those, they planted Annabelle hydrangeas — in front of those they put Nikko blue hydrangeas (that never flower, much less in blue) — and in front of them some scattered astilbe. And really the whole thing (except the hydrangeas) looks like crap. The space is shaded, yes, but faces west, so the astilbe gets fried. The underplanting looks terrible. The hydrangeas only bloom on the neighbors' side (and are too big). Tell me, dear reader, what should we do? How should we underplant? Should we tempt to divide the hydrangeas? Will the blue ones ever make it? Just don't tell me to cut down the magnoli

Cabin Fever

Like many other Minnesotans, "going up to the cabin" is an important part of summer for us (interesting anthropological note — I never really knew why cabins were so important in Minnesota, until I found out that, in Scandinavia, it is very common to have a cabin retreat, even if it's a relatively modest one. Here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, we simply replicate the tradition, and almost always place it on the water). In our case, "the cabin" was built by my grandmother's family in Lake Osakis in 1902. Originally a log cabin surrounded by a screen porch on 3 sides, the porch was enclosed by salmon-pink siding the in the 1950s, and a full kitchen and bathroom added. It's changed somewhat since then, but not much. There's a lot of tradition behind the orange logs, and the psychiatrist's couch, and the Murphy beds). The area, however, has changed a lot. When I was growing up, our family members (my grandmother's cousins) owned several other

Some More Dining Out

We've also hit a few other places lately…. Had dinner at Sweet Pea's Public House  a couple of weeks back (super-local types will remember it as the old Goby's). I had been insanely obsessed with trying it since it opened, and we had a nice meal with a friend and her daughter. It's a lot cleaner and lighter than Goby's but the decor is nothing to write home about, though there was plenty of room for the girls to dance and do skits after they finished eating. I had a lobster-avocado grilled cheese that was pretty awesome, but Patrick had a burger that he took home leftovers from — and promptly got food poisoning so badly from the leftovers that he missed his Goruck challenge … so I doubt he'll want to eat there again anytime soon… Yesterday, after a summer of discussion between Patrick and myself of "Are taprooms ok for kids?" we finally went over to Burning Brothers Brewery on Thomas and Wheeler. Burning Brothers is co-owned by the father of one o

Cocktail Garden

The food-oriented posts continue. It must be summer. We have a vegetable garden — a raised bed garden we put in last summer. And we have big beds full of perennials, many of which I have gotten off a perennial exchange site this year. But what I really wanted this year was a cocktail garden, so I could make some fun and interesting new drinks. After all, it's #summerofgin. So I grabbed two planters I had found in the alley last year (one for here, one for Summit). Patrick got me a few herbs at the Farmers' Market (chamomile, chocolate mint, rosemary, lavender, lemon verbena), and I added some from the same plant exchange (lemon balm, spearmint, lemon mint). Then I marked them with some corks, to keep on the bar theme. Now, all I need are some good recipes, and friends to come drink. Cocktails, anyone?

Food and Art

Yeah, see, one restaurant review and already I am a food blogger. But seriously, in the last week I have been lucky enough to attend two great food and art pairings (well, three if you count totchos at Tracy's after seeing Rosy Simas'  awesome installation, but that's kind of an unlikely mix…) The first was attending a benefit for Mixed Precipitation's  Picnic Operetta. It was a lovely evening, held at the garden, studio, and theatre at Open Eye (gosh, I love that space). The drinks were delicious (gin rickey, of course, since it is #summerofgin), the food innovative, and the company lovely. If you don't know the concept of the Picnic Operetta — they put on opera performances in community gardens though out the harvest season. Tickets are by donation, the performances are first rate, and then they pair the performances with delicious food, all local, some grown especially for them. I can't think of a company that is more truly holistic in how they pair feedi