Showing posts from May, 2020

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

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

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 i

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

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

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 incredibl

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

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 com

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

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  dai