Showing posts from 2020

Pandemic Projects - 1st Floor

Ok, in general this is not "our project" un that we did nothing but move the furniture around and pay for it.

But we just got the floor redone at Ashland and they look greta!

The kitchen is a maple flooring. When I bought the house, there were 7 layers of flooring on top of the hardwood, including carpet and a layer of plywood top-nailed every 8". You can still see the nail holes. I had the floor redone about 25 years ago, but dogs and life in general had really worn it down.




On the rest of the first floor, the floors are a very thin layer of wood that was topnailed in. It probably could not take another sanding without earring it down, but again the finish was wearing off; I did not mind the footsoil so much but was worried about damage. So he did a buff-and-coat.



Finally, Patrick took the opportunity to organize the cables behind our media center as part of this as well!

Pandemic Projects - Ashland Front Yard

It started innocently enough while talking to our Ashland neighbor yesterday. We were talking about the carnage being wrought on our block by the demo of the 1880 house and the new house being constructed (that's for another time, but the situation is really horrible), when she mentioned "Well, I hope we can get the backyard looking better before the wedding." Yes, turns out her daughter is having a small, pandemic wedding in her family home's back yard later this month.

So Patrick and I took one look at our rather neglected front yard and thought "Hmm, then we had better do something here, especially since it's so trashed on the other side."

I'm pretty sure Patrick wanted to have a relaxing holiday, but he was incredibly patient about taking on huge gardening projects in blistering heat.

The area around our front tree had at one time looked ok with some yellow irises, but they stopped blooming awhile back and now it looked pretty awful.

Patrick dug…

Brutus on Brewpubs - Utepils

I had spent all week writing historic contexts for Golden Valley, and needed to get out and drive around the area a little to place things.

Brutus needed to get out of the house.

I had never been to Utepils but love that the name itself is apparently a Norwegian word that encapsulates "the longing and anticipation for the first beer enjoyed in the sunshine." And they have a newly expanded beer garden so I knew there would be good outdoor space.

They prefer that you reserve in advance online, but they could not guarantee we would have an outdoor space if we did that (which is a non-starter for me right now, I won't be inside, and besides they don't allow dogs indoors). They said they would take walk-ups if there was room, and were "under capacity." So we headed over.

The seating was not well organized. There was supposed to be a check-in spot at the door, but it was not staffed, so Patrick had to check in with the bartender inside while I waited with Brutus.…

On #Hamilfilm

One of the great things about working for yourself is that you can get up and spend the morning watching Hamilton the first day it comes out. (truth be told, Beatrix wanted to get up at 2:01am, when it first started, to watch it, but w put the kibosh on that after considering it briefly.)

So all four of us sat on the couch this morning (with dogs) and watched it and cried and I needed it even more than I thought I did.

And I guess there's a reason that I held firm in not seeing any other versions of it after seeing the original cast production. Why I was sad when e saw it because I would never have that experience again. This morning was such a gift.

I won't even tell you how many more times I'm planning on seeing it.

I miss theater so much, y'all.

Brutus on Brewpubs - Falling Knife

After an unplanned quarantine hiatus, we're back with "Brutus on Brewpubs"! Though I think it will be "special patio editions" for some time to come...

Yesterday we went out to check out Insight's new patio. It was lovely, and I guess we have been missed, because when he staff member came out to clean the table next to s he exclaimed "Wait, is this Brutus? I didn't recognize him with his summer haircut!" He then proceeded to bring him cookies. So yes, our dog is better known in the taproom than we are...

In any case, the man at the table next to us also fell in love with Brutus, and said "Hey, I own Falling Knife Brewery! We have a new, dog-friendly patio, you should come check it out!"

So today, for Father's Day, we got an afternoon reservation (Note: I understand *why* you have to get taproom reservations, but I am not a fan...At Falling Knife you have to call in so you have immediate confirmation that your reservation was rece…

Not Happy

Honestly, as nights go, it's not too bad this second. I'm sitting on the porch, Jayhawks are streaming, writing a post to you all.

But it occurred to me, while sitting through a board meeting via google hangouts this afternoon, that I'm really not happy.

And please note that this is not saying that my mental health is suffering. Mental health issues are often defined as "an inappropriate mental response to a situation," and that's not the case. I think it's perfectly reasonable to be not happy right now (and it's perfectly reasonable for this who's mental health is being affected by the heightened situations). I'm not depressed. I'm just sad.

I'm really worried about my clients and their making it through, and me being able to help them.if I can help them enough.

Patrick's hugs are the best in the world, but I miss hugs from others (especially since it turns out that tween girls are not very huggy).

I miss being able to wander into…

Pandemic Projects - Small Summit Victories

Honestly, with all that's been going on in the world, it seems like talking about house projects is the most mundane of things, and almost disrespectful. But honestly, this weekend, it's all I have had the energy to do. So this weekend, at the Summit house, we've managed to knock off a a number of small, nagging projects:

We finished re-doing the bar — now if I could only have people over for cocktails....

Some details:

Thanks to some chairs from my friend Rachel, I set up a new seating area. We also framed an old family photo we found and hung it by the family wedding dress photos along the stairs (the photo on the far left, above the chair, is my grandmother when she was young).

I cleaned off the front porch, plants the front planters, moved a table out, and cut down the curtain that did not really work out there, much as I wanted it to (oh well). Now it's the perfect place for evening cocktails, though it would be nice to come up with a way to scare off the mosquito…

On Commemorative Statues

"But you are a preservationist!" people tell me. "How can you not think tearing down statues of confederate generals, generic Columbus statues, and the like is terrible?"

Well, for one thing, statues are not automatically considered historic structures in the same way buildings are. The National Register Criteria for Evaluation lists 4 main criteria:
That are associated with events that have made a significant contribu- tion to the broad patterns of our history; orThat are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; orThat embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; orThat have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history. The criteria specifically state that "properties primarily c…

Loving Day

It's Loving Day. I'm always glad that it falls right before our anniversary, because it reminds me that, until 1967, in many states I could not have been married to my husband. That within my lifetime (which does not seem so long, though it's getting longer), my marriage would have broken laws. Love is love is love.

But this year, in particular, I am reminded about how fragile that can be. That there are still people — a lot of people, even a rising number of people, that think that our marriage is an abomination, a sin against humanity.

At the same time, there are a lot of people in the past few weeks that are hopeful for some change in this country, and that are actively working for that change. If nothing else, they are reading about it — take a look at the NY Times bestseller list. And I too hold that hope.

But I can't always seem to get through to people that every single day I worry that my husband will get stopped, injured, or killed — just because of the color …

How Do You Like Them Apples?

So I'm from Minnesota, land of the Honeycrisp (U of M, released 1991) — although I am more of a SweeTango (U of M, released 2009) kind of girl. And goodness knows, the apple has been a societal metaphoric image since Eve. But I'm particularly mulling, lately, the use of the phrase "a few bad apples."

You see, the actual phrase is "A few bad apples spoil the bunch."

(Variations include "spoil the barrel" or or even biblical "a little leaven leavens the whole lump." But you get the intent).

We've had a bowl of red delicious apples in a bowl on the counter, so I've actually noticed this in action. One apple gets rotten and mushy, so I pull it out and compost it. The next day, I realize I should also have thrown out the one it was touching. But then the next day I realize that apples on the other side of the bowl have gone bad. Pretty soon, I realize that the whole bowl is disgusting, the entire contents need to go, and I'm washi…

Community, Riots, and Why Sense of Place Matters

To put this in context, I live — have chosen to live, find it my true home — in the Selby-Dale neighborhood of Saint Paul. Selby-Dale, as you may know, has a notorious reputation as "the hood" in Saint Paul, a reputation born literally from ONE NIGHT of riots in the area on August 30, 1968. When I bought my house in 1993, 25 years later, the neighborhood was still suffering under the weight of those riots; in fact, to this day we have some people express disbelief that we live in "that area." To my knowledge, until this last week, those were the most notorious riots in the city.

So I look at the events of this week with a particular viewpoint, and admittedly it's not a very honed one. As I just posted on Facebook:
Something to keep in mind, especially when we are all exceptionally weary from months of pandemic uncertainty: We're not good at duality, at 2 apparently opposite things being true at the same time. A person can support protests, yet disavow riots…

Pandemic Projects - How Does Your Garden Grow?

It was supposed to rain all day. But it didn't. So we did some garden work instead.

The front garden bed had long been defined by some concrete pieces I had gotten in Chicago in 2003 and some old floor tiles. It worked, but it was not doing it for me anymore.

So I replaced them with some beautiful, iron Victorian pieces I had gotten free off a BST board. It was *not* the easy, "just stick them in the ground" project I had envisioned, but I like how it came out.

We also livened up a dim corner of the back yard. I don't really like host, but it's somehow better in a pot? (and that corner is really shady).

The reward for all that gardening? Beautiful flowers.

I Don't Know What the Next Steps Are. Do You?

Beatrix is in bed. We're on the 3rd floor working. We occasionally stream music that one or the other of us runs into in this weird time of online creation (right now it's Billy Bragg, "Waiting for the Great Leap Forward"). I'm drinking a rhubarbarita made with the last of the rhubarb I got from my friend Jenn, and working on PPP loan forgiveness calculations for clients.

Tonight was the SPA Showcase online — the final one of the year because school ends next week. Beatrix performed a video of "Part of that World" in it, and her choir did an amazing job of performing pieces together via individual google hangout boxes. If the current guidelines hold and she can't do choir next year I don't want to even think about it.

There was a similar consolidated dance number at the end and B contributed some circus tricks. The art and performances were beautiful and got me very teary. It's struck me all year how strongly SPA has managed to integrate the…

Things I'll Miss

I've done plenty of complaining about how current restrictions suck (because they do, even of they help keep us safe) and all the things I miss (short list: seeing friends, seeing live and visual art, going to bars and restaurants, date nights, random shopping for no particular purpose). But these are some things I'll miss about our life over the past several weeks:

-  Walks.
-  Watching the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus livestream.
-  Watching other cool livestreams — it seems like there is always something popping up on my stream, like the Jayhawks jamming in their living room, or Ben Folds playing in in an AirBnB in Australia, or other cool things.
-  Roomba League.
-  Mr. Howe's Story Corner, the Showcases, and the SPA weekly virtual assemblies.
-  Eavesdropping on Beatrix's classes while she does virtual school.
-  Sleeping in and drinking coffee in bed.
-  Delicious meals at home.
-  Baking.
-  Family reading time.
-  Taking the time to watch mini-series in just a fe…

Pandemic Projects - Sunday Organization Day

While yesterday was a Major Big Project Deal of taking off the layers of flooring in the upstairs hallway, I can't show you yet because those pictures are waiting for a Big Hallway Reveal. Suffice it to say that Patrick worked his butt off, while I drove Beatrix around on her errands (yes, she's getting to be that age.)

But today, after delivering some plants and some of the dog treats that Beatrix had made to her friends' dogs (all in the rain), we tackled some work on the 3rd floor.

I had originally intended to be craft, but that got foiled when my sewing machine had some tension issues with the bobbin. Patrick fixed it though, and we think he should start a new business called "Of Course I Can Fix Your Sewing machine - I Can Fix Macs, Can't I?"

Meanwhile, I finally framed the cross stitch I had done with my friend Anna a couple of years ago:

I also attacked a big stack of mending. My sewing skills are kind of "costume shop adequate" on a good day…

Because he knows what to do in a trench. Ingenuitive.

Right about the time we went into stay-at-home I started to listed to Hamilton a lot more again.

Maybe it was prompted by a bootleg copy then was up on YouTube for about 3 and a half minutes. Maybe it was the John Krasinski "Some Good News" zoom call. Maybe it was just what I was needing.

But I also noticed Lin-Manuel Miranda popping up more actively on my Twitter feed, doing more things, playing more pieces, quite obviously working something through his mind.

I even said to Patrick "Wouldn't it be AMAZING if they released the Hamilton movie early?"

You see, seeing Hamilton on Broadway, with the original cast, was a really life-changing theater moment for me (ok, and well everyone else too, I'm not a special snowflake on this one).

But then, as we walked back to the hotel, I was overtaken with a profound sense of sadness, that I would NEVER have that experience again, seeing those people do that show. It's one of the reasons I have not seen any of the o…

Mother's Day 2020

Mother's Day. Whatever your relationship is with or as a mother, a day that's likely to be fraught. So in some ways, during a pandemic, when you can throw all that out the window it's better.

We actually started celebrating last night, when we played a game of Forbidden Island and watched The Notebook, which I had never seen. Spoiler - I was not as gutted by it as everyone else I know who's seen it, meaning I apparently have a heart of stone.

I slept in today and got breakfast in bed, and then went on a scavenger hunt to find my presents, which was really fun. Beatrix went all out in the prep:

Beatrix was also in charge of the family activity, which was making pom-pom hedgehogs:

My family has, since I was a child, gone out for Mother's Day brunch. My grandfather used to treat everyone to a big buffet brunch, and my aunt and uncle had taken it over. Obviously that was out this year, but somehow my cousin Erin, who has been incredibly resourceful the entire pandemic …

The Small Things That Make It Better

Sometimes when people ask me how I'm doing right now I say "jagged."

Like one day seems pretty good, and you're happy to be with your family, and most of all, you're not sick.

And then the next day you're down and it seems like way too much to deal with for another day much less likely the next few years, and your whole family is sick-and-tired of each other and snaps and things that are important to you keep getting broken and you're tired and so incredibly stressed out and mother's day is coming up and you hate that holiday. (that was yesterday for me, in case you were wondering)

So today was better and it made me realize how much people's kind thoughts and gestures can mean, always, but especially now.

My friend Jen gave me rhubarb stems so I can make rhubarbaritas (and maybe I'll have to try cordial too).

My friend Reba gave me a whole hydrangea tree to replace the one in our back yard that did not make it through the winter. (How do plant…

Grateful For

There's so much that's hard and scary right now. But in the midst of it, I can find things to be grateful for.

This afternoon we took a break after Beatrix was done with school for the day and took a short hike through Tamarack Park in Woodbury. It's a funny mix of a place — some very peaceful parts (like the bog, already full of frogs and march marigolds), and then parts of the path that back right up to a daycare and a FedEx. Where the path ends you have to circle back on an asphalt path by a busy road to get back to the start fo the trail. But still it was pretty, and I'm glad that we in Minnesota have close-by places where we can get away to nature. We didn't see another soul while we were there, and it was nice to not have to worry about masks and social distancing.

I'm grateful that we have a child that still likes to spend time with us.

I'm glad that we took the trips we did last summer and fall, even the quick overnight to Duluth that was completely…

Pandemic Projects - Summit Yard

Today was the first time that I can remember that we were not at May Day. There would not have been a May Day this year anyway, even without the pandemic. But it still felt like something was missing.

This week and last, Patrick and I have been working a lot on the Summit yard. I think we can safely say this will be the earliest we've gotten that space cleaned up and usable. The bonus is that we've been able to work there while the magnolias and other trees have been blooming, so it's been beautiful.

Last week we got everything raked up and cleaned up (we finally caved an ordered a yard waste bin from our trash service), including mulching under the magnolias, which I have already written about. We also cleaned out the garage, which had suffered a severe squirrel invasion, and plugged up the hole in the chimney where they had a nest.

This week, Patrick re-trenched the irrigation system, which always creeps up above the soil. It's a thankless, horrible task, but he chan…

A Penny Saved...

Most days for me it's all about fitting in as many billable hours as possible — or if I am not billing, learning something that makes me a better consultant.

But today was about saving money, which can be valuable as well.

I spent the morning hauling pavers given to me by my friend Katie. She's replacing her driveway, and these are perfect for the new patio we want at Summit. So I did 2 huge, heavy loads, and now Patrick is doing more. Total savings versus buying from Menards — about $600, and they don't go into a landfill. I'm excited for the patio. If we're going to be stuck at home for the foreseeable future at least it can be nice.

This afternoon P and I tag-teamed on contacting IcelandAir to try to get a refund (still) for our Amsterdam flights. We were told that a refund is in process but it normally takes 8 weeks. We'll see.

In general we are not the kind of people who can find everyday savings in our budget; there's no  daily fancy coffee drink we c…