Showing posts from 2018


However, 2018 has had some good points as well, especially in stretching myself. I went with Beatrix, two of her friends, and their moms up to a magical dogsledding weekend at Wintermoon Summersun , which reminded me of my love of the outdoors. It was absolutely magical. We hiked 5 national parks in Utah over 5 days over spring break, visited friends in Denver, and drove home through Iowa in a blizzard. We went to Iceland for a week, meeting amazing people and exploring the incredible geography. Thanks to my friend Bethany, I created some subversive scrapbooking pages and made my first State Fair entry (no ribbon, but...) I auditioned for, and was cast in, The Overachievers web series through Wonderlust Productions, which was an amazing experience. (I also got featured in a piece on Ramsey Hill, coming out in 2019). My friend Sarah pitched some of my writing to the Minnesota Women's Press, who invited me to write a piece on the Summit house . I'm so proud and wa

End of 2018

As I look back, 2018 has been, above all, a year of unexpected loss. I did not expect to take my dad's death as badly as I did. But the speed and intensity of it (less than 6 weeks from the diagnosis to his passing), and the suffering he went through, made it especially hard. I didn't expect to lose my friend Leah, but maybe that's because I chose to share her hope that it would all work out, and I don't know that that was the wrong choice. But there were a lot of other, smaller losses scattered through the year. A loss of hope for our country, every single day. Loss of client relationships. Shifting friendships. My weird arm condition (Parsonage-Turner syndrome) returning. Things I meant to or wanted to get done (be more creative, read more books, exercise more, trips I wanted to take, spend more time with my family) that did not happen — my New Years Resolutions are a shambles. Losing the things at my dad's, even though I have no use for them. Having to have

Grand on Grand

Both the Pioneer Press (photo credit for the image above) and KARE-11 have recently had stories about the decline of Grand Avenue (I linked to the KARE-11 one because it's virtually identical and no paywall). And heck, I've seen it — yesterday we stopped in to Sixth Chamber, the Bibelot Shop, and Traditions (all closing soon). The Loft is gone (not that I ever went there), and there are still multiple empty storefronts, especially at Victoria Crossing. And there's a vigorous debate on Facebook about what to do about it. Some say that this is the normal ebb and flow, but I've lived off of Grand for my whole life and I strongly think it's more than that. Others say it's parking, but honestly I don't think it's that either; I shop there multiple times a week and almost never have an issue with parking. I think, as one of my friends indicated, that it's the "perfect storm" of online shopping + changing retail and shopping habits + tighten

Christmas Traditions

My mom was All About Christmas, which is why it's still so painful that she died on Christmas Day. Though she steadfastly refused to decorate before Thanksgiving, the day after it all went up — the live tree downstairs with the hodgepodge of sentimental ornaments, the small tree in my room with "my" ornaments, and the upstairs tree with its blue and teal ornaments, all carefully hand-sequined by my mom. Other decorations hung and placed everywhere. We get a big tree, I manage a few other decorations, and last year hung 40 glass ornaments from fishing line from the hallway ceiling. I did not manage to repeat that this year. My mom made over 20 different kinds of holiday cookies, 4 kinds of bread, and very traditional appetizers and wicked punch for her annual open house, which was a legendary event. I make a few kinds of cookies and rely on cookie exchanges for a full tray. My mom took us out on limousine rides with champagne and hand-dipped chocolate truffles to s

Small Business Christmas

"Everyone always says they want retail in developments," remarked a friend of mine after a community meeting the other day, "but I wonder if they know how hard it is?" A few Christmases ago we started to make a concerted effort to buy at small stores for gifts. Maybe it meant a smaller gift, but almost always a more meaningful one (we make many of our gifts, too, but let's face it, there's only so much time....) This year, that's been somewhat challenging. My favorite store, Vibrant, closed in September. The store that I've counted on for my whole life, the Bibelot Shop, is closing (though I've stopped by the sale. Another favorite, Sixth Chamber Books, is no longer purchasing books (uh-oh), and Traditions is closing its Grand Avenue store (not that I am likely to buy anyone a couch, but...) But the good thing is that this year seems to have a bumper crop of pop-up markets, where we've been able to buy directly from the source. We'v


Never go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras if you want to have a true New Orleans experience. Half the places are closed and you can't get across the parade route to eat at Commander's Palace. Go to New Orleans to wholly commit yourself to Mardi Gras and that experience. If you are really lucky you might get beignets, but you might have to miss a parade to do so, or convince your friend Derek to walk down and get some for you. Same goes for weddings. That said, we did have some New Orleans time this trip. We had beignets, twice (at Cafe de Monde because anyone who thinks you should have them anywhere else is wrong). We had lunch at Commander's Palace . We walked around the Garden District and shopped for books . We looked at every tourist trinket at the French Market, with Beatrix's souvenir money burning a hole in her pocket, twice. Patrick met friends for a mufeletta and a sazerac (or two). We got a snowball at Hansen's. We spent a lovely afternoon at sitti

NOLA Wedding

This past weekend we were lucky enough to be included in my sister-in-law's fairytale wedding in New Orleans. Patrice is my husband's MUCH younger sister (by 20 years), and I adore her. When she asked me to be in the wedding last year, of course I accepted, though I had a lot of worries about being the Oldest Bridesmaid Ever. Beatrix, when asked to be the Glitter Girl for the wedding, had no reservations at all and jumped right in! Rob, Patrice's groom, is one of the hardest-working actors in show biz (don't believe me? check out his IMDB page ) , and before that was in the music business for a number of years. He's older than Patrice, but somehow they work perfectly together, and as I've gotten to know him over the past several years (including when he stayed with us last year to attend the Super Bowl), I've come to really like him. So what does a big, film and music star-studded, very Jewish, New Orleans wedding consist of? It ha


Sitting at Sweeney's fighting over the last fry. Sitting by the pool. Having brunch with other friends. Talking lazily late at night on Rebecca's porch. Playing a crazy board game at the Chatterbox. Watching our children play. Going on a long walk. Happy hour at Salut. Hanging on Christmas at her place playing with the cats. Commiserating over kids. Arguing over school start times. Hanging in a backyard party. Planning to go up north for some crazy Finnish sledding party we never did go to. Texting lazily back and forth. Meeting at summer art fairs and festivals and the State Fair. Sharing book notes. Pizza Luce. More or less any impromptu dinner. My kid wearing your kid's hand-me-downs. Ice crea. Pizza. Rebecca's cabin. Beer. Heady conversations. Children's Museum. Birthday parties in general. White elephant parties. May Day. Just knowing you were there to text to. F*ck, Leah, I miss you so much.

Doing Good - With Stuff

So, as you may have gathered, there's a lot of STUFF at my dad's house. Those who stopped by over the weekend were amazed at the sheer quality, and that's AFTER 8 weeks of organizing but BEFORE we have tackled the basement... So this is where it has gone so far: -  Bags and bags of clothes to Joseph's Coat, and to the Odd Couple coat drive (also going to Joseph's Coat). -  Food to the MLK food shelf. -  Glasses (so many glasses) to the Lions — they have a collection site at Lund's, but it's sneaky and you have to ask for it. -  Mugs to Simpson House. -  More (nicer) clothes to Mission Manduhai , for distribution in Mongolia this summer. -  A load of clothes and household goods picked up by the Epilepsy Foundation. -  Bags and bags of school supplies to Beatrix's school, plus tons of books to her teacher, and 10 boxes of history magazines to the Maker Space there. -  Bags and bags to Goodwill (I'm not crazy about Goodwill, but so

Girl Goes West

My "So Saint Paul" status is a running joke among friends (to the point of my friend Debra saying "You're So Saint Paul your summer cabin is in Saint Paul," which is true....) But my dad's place, since the early 1970s, has been on 41st and Sheridan, in the epicenter of Linden Hills — but since long before it was the "Linden Hills" you think of today, back in the days when the commercial node had a greasy spoon and a hardware store instead of high-end shops and restaurants, when Uptown was a bunch of neighborhood bars (even Figlio was, at heart, a neighborhood bar), and when it was basically just a cozy neighborhood. I had a Minneapolis library card through that address, and technically a bedroom at my dad's, though I really rarely stayed overnight. And I grew up walking down to Lake Harriet, and exploring antique shops at 50th and Xerxes, and eating chocolate mousse at the Calhoun Beach Club and ice cream sundaes at the Bridgeman's on Lak

MEA Sunday

Unlike the rest of Minnesota, we didn't go away for MEA weekend — too much to do at my dad's. But today, on a perfect fall day, we decided to head to Marine on Saint Croix for a mini day-trip. We got to hike around the Marine Mill ruins , follow the stream a bit, and visit my friend Emily's jewel fo a shop, Highway North . We poked around the general store, watched the river, and kicked up leaves. We spent some magical time down at the shore of the river and in the boardwalk area walking up to the mini waterfall. I was able to think nostalgically of high school days spent at my friend Georgeanna's family compound at "the River." It was a lovely escape. Then tonight, we were able to go to the Barebones show , which Beatrix had never attended (meaning it's been a long time since we have gone as well!) This year, my long-time friend Tara was the co-director, and was able to really evoke the magic that this annual ritual intrinsically possesses. My favo

Fundraising Season

By last Thursday, I realized I had been to three fundraisers already that week, four if you count my daughter's school Fun Run on Thursday afternoon (for the record, she ran 51 laps! And they raised over 20K for the school!) On Monday, I attended a fundraiser for Senator Tina Smith at my friend Maggie and Chad's house. It was a really compelling evening, with performances by Shanan Custer and Carolyn Pool, a fantastic testimony from  Sarah Stoesz (President and CEO of Planned Parenthood MN, ND, and SD), and a heartfelt  speech  by the amazing Michelle Hensely. Great people  and a great cause — I was a supporter but not fervent before and I now have a Tina Smith sign in my yard. Tuesday was a small event at Surly for Mental Health Minnesota . This annual party is a very low-key event during Mental Health Awareness Week that is always fund and educational and really important. Thursday night was the Gala for another cause near and dear to my he


Awhile back I posted about stretching my horizons... I was cast in a web series called The Overachievers by Wonderlust Productions . a company run by Leah Cooper and Alan Berks, who I have known for years. These are people who I commiserated with when we each did our first 990s, who made sure I got invited to parties when I needed company as I was getting divorced, whose toaster oven I bought when they sold all their things and drove to Central America. They are awesome and incredible people, and although Wonderlust's mission is to cast community members alongside with professional actors, I really have no idea why on earth they decided to cast me. But they did, and the process has been great. The web series is their first big foray into film, and between the direction, the fantastic cast, and their ace Director of Photography, Pete, it's been a wild and incredible ride. Earlier this week, we shot Episode 4, which is set in a theatre space. Today, so shooting out of order (

Goodbye, West 14th St.

A hundred years ago, when I first started in theater administration, one of my first really big projects was to move the Cricket Theatre from Hennepin Center for the Arts to a space on 14th and Nicollet. The theatre was in an old vaudeville house (which I think is now a church), and the offices were around the corner on 14th Street. As the Cricket compacted and then closed, Red Eye moved into the office space, and converted it into a black box theatre. And, over the years, I've seen a lot of great theatre in that space (and some clunkers too), by Red Eye and a number of other companies. So it was sad to me when it was announced that that whole block was being torn down for yet more new apartments. This weekend Red Eye had a rummage sale of sorts, where you could come take what was left for free or for a donation. I really felt like I had to go over and say goodbye, but in retrospect, I kind of wish I hadn't. I grabbed a couple of things, but really it felt like being in

Flower Power

Because it was Patrick's birthday weekend, we were able to have a little time just doing some fun things, including two excellent meals! On Saturday, while Beatrix was at a Twins game with friends, we snagged a last-minute reservation to Hyacinth , which opened in mid-August in the old Golden Fig space. We love the idea of a chef-driven, small, New York style place within walking distance (oh, how we miss you, Zander!), and this did not disappoint. Our cocktails (he had the red wine punch, I did the Honey and Spices) were the perfect fall drinks. We had a fantastic delicate squash crostini and a shaved fall salad before each having a lovely pasta. It certainly lived up to our expectations, and I am excited to go back! Tonight, for Patrick's birthday we went to In Bloom , the new restaurant at the Keg and Case  — we did not have enough time to walk around and explore the market but hope to return soon! In Bloom is a great concept; everything is cooked over a big, open hearth

Dear All Men

Yes, the patriarchic myth that women are not "supposed" to like sex (or at least the "good girls" don't) — that you need to convince us to submit, and that us granting you access to our bodies is somehow supposed to be some kind of reward for your amazing masculine powers — yes, that's incredibly problematic, and confusing, and dangerous. We hate it too. ( But sometimes, she whispers, we have no choice but to use that myth to protect ourselves when you spread rabid rumors that a girl is a slut, or "wants it," and is thus the kind of woman you can hurt and attack because she's "asking for it." ) But really, come on here. You're not stupid. You know that when a woman says "no," or starts crying during sex, or if you have to put your hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming , that this is no coy social game. You KNOW, at that point, that it's rape, and that you are crossing a boundary. And you know damn well th


So, over fifteen years ago, my dad started volunteering at the Bakken Museum  because he thought they should do more eon the history of the house. They said he was certainly welcome to look into it, but hey, they needed someone to run their Frankenstein exhibit and would he do that? So thus began his fascination with Frankenstein. So I had really wanted to take him to Frankenstein: Playing with Fire that opened at the Guthrie last night. It's a remount of the production they premiered in 1988. I can only remember seeing on Guthrie show with my dad, but I replay thought he would like this one. And of course, he died before he could see it. So Patrick and I went last night for the opening, while Beatrix was at a birthday party. Some thoughts (certainly NOT a review): I remember the 1988 production being more sensational. But that may have been my mindset at the time, not the actual production. I was very young then. But this production felt far more intellectual. We were

In/During Her Absence

I had noticed a post for this show pop up in my feed, and then my friend Krista, whose taste in theatre I trust implicitly, suggested I see it. So, last night instead of sorting through papers or choosing photos for the memorial, we headed over to the Minnesota Trapeze Center to see it. The Center is devised as a circus class space, not a theatre, and so there were just a few chairs set up in the (very hot, remember it was 90 degrees yesterday) room. This suited the intimate sense of the show well, though. The set was simple — two static traps, and then marley and a few mats on the floor; a few other pieces of apparatus including a cyr wheel and a silk that was also briefly used for projection. The piece itself was a mix between aerial work that was evocative without being overly flashy, two ground-based dancers who added a sense of tragic-clown levity (not overtly funny, but adding humor), and a sort of in-between character who added a bit of magic (especially in a bubble moment w

Pushing the Boundaries

It's like the universe was trying to tell me something. First I read Present Over Perfect , and then I head a Ted talk, both on the same topic, how the first part of your life is all about building things up, and the second half is all about trimming them back. This depressed me greatly. Not only do I not even want to be thinking about moving towards the end of my life, but I certainly don't want to be cutting back. I want to be trying new things, exploring places I have not gone yet, and pushing my own boundaries. I reject cutting back. So, recently, I've been pushing myself to try new things. My friend Bethany noticed that last year at the Fair, there were very few scrapbook entries, and the topics were reasonable vague ("Heritage," "Vacation," and "Special Occasion"). So she hosted several of us to get together for "Subversive Scrapbooking," the idea being that we would "scrapbook up some State Fair entries that will m

Wine, Women, and Song

Other people get a mani-pedi when they need self-care (which actually does not sound like a half-bad idea....) Me? I headed to Alexis Bailly Vineyard  to see Nan and Sam and to enjoy an incredible performance of Dr. Falstaff and the Working Wives of Lake County by Mixed Precipitation , and I'm very glad for both. Mixed Precipitation performances are fun shows, but even more than that, they are events. This particular one is a mash-up of Nicolai's opera The Merry Wives of Windsor , plus Springsteen, and delicious farm-to-table food tidbits. It's an incredibly enjoyable afternoon, with fantastic performances — the whole cast was great, but particular standouts to me were Naomi Karstad and Anna Hashizume as the wives, and Joni Griffith as a particularly operatic ranger/barmaid (with a turn on the violin as well). The band also was exceptionally strong this year, with some pre-show tributes to the Queen of Soul. I'm still thinking, though, about the well-researche

My Dad

I'm still reeling from losing my dad. I didn't expect to quite so much. I was not a "daddy's girl." I have friends who have recently lost their fathers, women who were incredibly close to them, and my heart breaks in a thousand pieces for them. My parents divorced when I was two. I saw my dad every Saturday, he always had Christmas Day because my family celebrated Christmas Eve, and went on trips with him (when he would go to conferences or the like) once or twice a year. Very occasionally I would stay over at his place.  That's not very much compared to divorced parents today, but actually pretty good for the 1970s. We still have a platform rocker around here somewhere that I can't get rid of because my mom told me that when I came home Saturday afternoons she would have to rock me for hours. My dad was fiercely, stubbornly independent. He was so guarded, even with me. This has been made even more clear to me since he became ill and I stepped in to

Our Lady of Peace

After a whirlwind summer of dealing with my dad's S4 lung cancer diagnosis in July, I secured him a bed at Our Lady of Peace Hospice this week. I also set up a Caring Bridge site. Honestly, there's not much more to say about it all. It sucks.

A Quiet Moment

Last night, at the Murphy election night party at Lake Monster, it had gotten late and Patrick and Beatrix decided they had better leave. And they were leaving just as Erin Murphy and Erin Maye Quade were arriving. Patrick gave them hugs and told them to keep their chins up. And then Beatrix gave Erin Murphy a big hug — and Erin leaned over and looked her straight in the eye and said "I BELIEVE in you." And it was quiet for  minute at the edge of the parking lot and then the chants of "Erin, Erin!" started and they walked on to the event and Patrick and Beatrix went home and I stayed and cried. Look, I'll rally and support Walz. He's not a bad guy. Compared to Johnson, he's basically a super-hero. But hear me out... Last night, people once again said that it was fine to have a woman in the senate or as a representative. But when it came down to electing a woman as their actual leader, that they just couldn't do it. I heard so many people say th

NNO Photos

Every year, at National Night Out, we get our photo strip taken at the old-time photo booth. The other nigh the event was really winding down, but we still got it done. In the first photo, Beatrix looks a lot like me. In the third, she looks much more like Patrick. Love the mixing of our genes.


So while Patrick worked 2 shows, I loaded up Beatrix and went Fringe-ing. I was afraid we would not get a chance to go this year, but everything fell in place to go today, and it was perfect. We started at the new-this-yer "Family Fringe," though I would argue that most Fringe shows are family-friendly. Our friends (we originally met them when they billeted with us several years ago for their first Fringe)  The Fourth Wall were performing Fruit Flies Like a Banana  . They are WONDERFUL. I'm probably biased, but read Matthew Everett's review . Then, if you see nothing else this Fringe, make a point to check them out at the FamilY fringe, and maybe hit CanCan Wonderland or Flanneljax afterwards. 5 stars, for sure. The next show, Not Fair, My Lady , was produced by my friend Colleen and so I've enjoyed watching the development process of this strong, feminist, "trample the patriarchy" piece. Go see it, and then you will realize how incredibly ironic it