Jul 22 2012

Summer Snaps – Part 1

Summer. It goes so fast that the only thing I can possibly do to catch it, is to try to be still when there’s time, motivate to do new things when there’s time, run from one thing to the next when there isn’t time, and take a few pictures along the way.  Last year, when I did a Summer Snaps post, I realized that our summer was indeed chocked full of moments, good moments – we were just careening through with nary a second to dwell. So here it is. A second of dwelling.

We kicked off summer with Devil Baby’s birthday. Sweet six.


Later in June we watched the Euro 2012 Championship on the rooftop at Brit’s Pub. España v. Italia, lots of heat, humidity, wild gesticulations and cheering. I’ll say this: it is good to spend time with soccer people. Never have I been more content to sweat under a patio umbrella with a Crispin Cider on ice. Saint James and Dash were in hog heaven.santiscarfloumiasecuredownload-1

The kids swimming with Foxy Brown at the hidden beach on Lake Harriet is pure joy to watch. The doodle can swim. Wish we knew more places to take her where we didn’t have to be so clandestine. Anyone?

foxyswimI love the Fourth of July because it involves swimming, barbecues, beer and fireworks. This year it fell smack dab in the middle of a brutal (by my standards) heat wave, but we managed to squeeze in all the elements anyway. Nothing like a steamy night with kids and friends, watching magic light up the sky.fireworksAfter too many days of slogging through air as thick and warm as cotton candy, the heat wave broke and this mama felt ready to conquer the world. Dash was on nights, so I took the kids for a hike at Dodge Nature Center, where we had the place to ourselves, save the quietly grazing barn animals. By some stroke of luck, everyone was happy to explore, take the more tangled looking paths and generally feel our way around the pretty grounds. We had never been there before and were lulled and welcomed by the humming insects, the whispering grasses and the cool dappled woods. Not every adventure works out, so when one does, I know to say a little prayer of thanks and put it in my pocket as a small triumph.


deerAfter the nature center we were famished, so we stopped at Mandarin Kitchen for dim sum – another first with all the kids. We sat down and were immediately enswirled in the cacophony of the restaurant. The flurry of cart drive-bys was so quick and confusing, that we just kept saying yes, yes, yes to anything that looked good, and within minutes our table was covered in mysterious delicious crispy things. A moment of stunned silence was followed by a fit of giggles as we surveyed the feast ahead of us. The kids were so game to try it all, it made me happy. We are definitely going back with Doctor Dash.


Jul 19 2012

Summer Girl

Lou_Sunset_069Photo by Kathy Quirk Syvertsen

When Red Vogue emailed me this picture she took of Supergirl, I gasped. It’s so beautiful . . . and those legs. Those legs are no longer the awkward flailing crazy legs of a little kid. They are the legs of a big kid. A coordinated, water loving, game-for-anything bonafide big girl.

Oh, my heart. We are on the verge.

I suspect Red Vogue already had this picture in her mind’s eye when she proposed a dusk dip and photo sesh to Supergirl. She knew Supergirl would do exactly this, because Supergirl approaches everything in her life from a place of yes, why not? and then how about . . . ?

I need to be more like her.

Jun 25 2012

Music Monday: Smashing Pumpkins

This Pumpkins cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide is an old fave of mine. Smashing Pumpkins were Doctor Dash’s favorite band for many years in the 90’s and thereby mine by extension and osmosis.

Today I’m dedicating this song to myself and anyone else feeling like they’ve been hit by the summer landslide. Everyday I’m the cruise director, the sunscreen enforcer, the camp counselor, the cheer leader, the chef, the maid, the chauffeur, the laundress and the referee, and I’m weary.

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing cause I’ve built my life around you . . .

In this many years, I still haven’t cracked the code of surviving June intact. But I have figured this much out: only a few more weeks. And then the bliss of August. And then school begins. And then I start pining for summer.

Pine now. Embrace the landslide. Enjoy the song.

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Jun 20 2012

Better Late than Never: Happy Fathers Day

dashandsantiDoctor Dash doesn’t ask for much. Especially when it comes to this blog. To him, this is my deal. I know he reads it and likes it, as only the patriarch of this little family would. I know he couldn’t care less when I neglect it. But once, just once, he said – I wish you had done a post about our L.A. trip. Boy, so do I.

peace montiIf this thing I do here, this writing for nothing, this writing to no one, has ANY point at all, it’s as a spot to stash our memories and family minutiae. If some of you like to visit and if you happen to find something that makes you laugh or look at your day a little differently or feel anything at all, then wow, that’s huge for me and definitely a cool and worthy byproduct. But even after all these years, I still don’t (or can’t) believe that to be true, and so when I write at all, I write for me, for us.

So here it is. A slightly belated Fathers Day post. Because even if I’ve said everything I have to say about Fathers Day, this Fathers Day was its own new day and worth noting and loving. Just like Dash. And Dash doesn’t ask for much.

shadowsOn Sunday we drove to a suburb with a carload of kids, ours and other people’s, for a soccer tournament. For me, there is no better sound than a bunch of boys singing along to the radio. I play along, I turn it up, I sneak glances in the rear view mirror and shimmy in my seat because this top 40 music grows on you like a FUNGUS. Doctor Dash has more high-brow musical tastes than I do, but he’s not immune to the fungus.

If you had told me ten years ago that he’d be helming the wheel of a dirty beat-up minivan, pumpin’ Nicki Minaj with a bunch of crooning soccer boys and two little girls giggling and turning around in their seats, I would have laughed. And yet, he has stepped into this role rather elegantly and with a lot of humor – it fits him like a glove. The game turned out to be a heartbreaker. And it rained, hard, for the hour that we huddled on the sidelines clutching a 2:1 lead to our chests only to have it yanked into a tie in the last second. Oh. Sports.

louWhen we got home, everyone scattered to their own corner of the house to wait out the rain and chill. Late afternoon the sun came out and we dusted ourselves off and decided to take Foxy Brown for a walk. We meandered around the lake, stopping to watch a family of wood ducks, eventually ending up at the Rose Garden and Peace Garden. We hadn’t planned on it, but I would need more than one hand to count the Mothers Days and Fathers Days we’ve spent there.

pinkSometimes no plans are the best plans and by some stroke of grace, the mood throughout every member of this moody little family was relaxed, goofy and very much about being together. Simple, easy, lovely.


Happy Fathers Day to Doctor Dash, my dad and my father-in-law, my brother, Golden, and all the daddy-os I know who try every day to make their families feel safe and secure, and don’t get to bitch about it like the moms, and only get a proper thank you in a quiet park on a breezy Sunday evening.

Jun 19 2012

Music Monday: GAYNGS

gayngs-1Gayngs is, hands down, my favorite band of the last year or so and although I can’t be sure, I think their last album might be a one and only. It’s called Relayted and if you would like some chill, sexy, variegated music to add to your windows-down summer drives or your windows-down summer loving, I would suggest you go buy it. Like, immediately.

Gayngs is a super band founded by Ryan Olson, consisting of an ever changing constellation of over 25 musicians, including, Bon Iver, Dessa, P.O.S, Channy from Polica, and Har Mar Superstar to name just a few. It’s pure Minneapolis/Au Claire cross-pollination gorgeousness. Every song on it is a gem and makes me want to find an excuse to stand in my kitchen and groove. I’ve made many a meatball to these tunes. For my peeps who don’t live in MPLS, this was filmed at First Ave. Look at that aging beauty . . . my favorite place in this city.

I. Love. This. Album. YouTube Preview Image

May 25 2012

There’s a New Pie in Town

pearpizzaI wrote a post over at Simple Good and Tasty about a school dad who is following his passion and having a go at turning it into his livelihood. It’s courageous and inspiring, and it must feel good, because I’m not sure I’ve ever met a happier guy. Read up, as his pizza is phenomenal and it’ll be super easy to find all summer. Hint: Linden Hills Farmers Market.

Apr 9 2012

Music Monday: Astronautalis

20110929_astronautalis_33Me likee, very much. I mean, come on. Look at him. He’s like a hip hop Beck.

Based out of MPLS, with vim and vigor to spare, check him out.

Did I mention me likee very much?

Very much, indeed. YouTube Preview Image

Mar 4 2012

A Good Reminder

dessaDessa wrote an insightful, smart op-ed piece in the Strib a few days ago, and though I’ve long known that she’s wise beyond her years, I have to admit I was chastened and a little humbled to read what she wrote.

Dessa takes on misogyny in rap – she challenges the pervasive attitude that disrespect to women is part of the genre and that if you don’t like it, you aren’t hip hop. She’s measured and reasonable, by her own admittance no girl scout in the profanity department, and she knows of what she speaks. She’s a rapper.

Reading, I realized that I have been way too cavalier about some of the music I let into my house and my excuses are vast.

1. My kids can’t really hear the lyrics and if they do, they don’t understand. This is ceasing to be the case, at a breathtaking clip. I know this.

2. The songs are “tall tales” – hyperbolic work that’s not meant to be taken seriously. Some of this stuff is so over the top, so gross, it’s funny. I’m not a prude (about words), I swear like a trucker, I appreciate a clever turn of phrase, a naughty line. Is this any different than some of the stuff Martin Amis writes? Charles BukowskiBret Eason Ellis? Norman Mailer? (This list really could be never-ending.) Just because you write it, does it mean you mean it? What of fiction in music? Well, arguably, if your audience is young and impressionable, it doesn’t matter if you really mean it. And in hip hop, it’s not really presented as fiction. Or is it?

3. The women being objectified aren’t real women – they’re somehow made-up women, hip-hop mannequins. So vastly different is their experience from mine, I was missing our basic glaring commonality: that we’re women. And more importantly, that my daughters will some day be women. And debasing any woman, debases all women.

4. The beats are just so good. That’s how they get me. Every. Time.

So am I going to stop listening to hip hop? No. Will I make my kids stop listening? No. Will I be more thoughtful about it? Yes. Will I point them in the direction of better, truer, hip hop – songs with stories and heart? I have and I will continue to do so. That’s easy, with neighbors like Doomtree and Rhymesayers.

Thanks Dessa, for the reminder. Nothing like learning from your minors.

Feb 29 2012

Leap Year Love

Love-QuotesTonight, crossing the tall bridge at Bryant with Foxy Brown, I glanced down and saw a couple standing on the bike path next to the creek. I looked away, then looked back. The girl flung her arm up in the air and I saw the flash of her phone as she yelled up to me: WE’RE ENGAGED! WOOOHOOO! You know the woohoo that I mean – that sound of exultation that’s unique to American girls, who grow up to be American women and never stop making that sound.

I stopped in my tracks, my mitten at my chest and gasped as the words registered. Engaged! One woohoo deserves another, and I let one fly. Woohoooo! It drifted down to them like a blessing. Congratulations, you guys! You made my night! I yelled as I walked on. Thank god I had decided to take that bridge. I grinned at the girl’s need to shout it from the rooftops – her tall man by her side, thanking me quietly, sheepishly.

And maybe it was the fresh air, or my new furry girl who I love so much, or the fact that I was on my old street, but I started to cry. A burst of tears I didn’t see coming, left as quickly as it came. They weren’t tears of sadness or tears of joy – they were tears of just so much. So much has happened since Dash and I got engaged in my little apartment at 37th and Bryant. The wedding, the babies, the fevers, the jobs, the moves, the birthdays. Life. So much. Life.

And this little couple, getting engaged on a warm leap year night by Minnehaha Creek. Little do they know. It’s just so much.

Feb 13 2012

Music Monday: This is Poliça

Valentine’s Day is Dash and my quasi-anniversary. It’s sort of when we started going out, or rather when I stopped playing foolishly, flippantly hard to get. It was 1992, we cooked steak with blue cheese in the creaky blue house on St. Peter’s Street that I shared with five other girls. It seems like a lifetime ago and yet just yesterday.

We pay attention to Valentine’s Day. It’s a good day for me and my man. Some years we cook at home, some years we go out. This year we are stepping out for the Poliça concert. The singer, Channy Moon Caselle, was also in GAYNGS, who I LOVE, and Roma di Luna, who I didn’t know, but is no longer together. Poliça plays around with auto tune to great effect and there are TWO sets of drummers. Caselle is a songbird and the whole mess is cool, hypnotic and SEEEEXXXXXY! Perfect for Tuesday night. After the show we’ll find a perch at a bar and feast. I can’t wait. Tuesday! Tuesday! Let it be Tuesday! YouTube Preview Image

Jan 6 2012

Music Monday – Howler, Florida and some sadness

seaWhere have I been people? I’ve been in Florida visiting my parents with the kids. I got to see Maestro de Bife before he goes to Australia for a year and got to meet his very sweet, very cool lady love. An extremely enthusiastic thumbs up from the peanut gallery on her! We had warm days and cool days, but the sun was always out and we got our injection of family and Vitamin D. Despite the long walks, the great meals, the beach with its constant source of peace and treasures, it was an odd week for me.

My heart kept flying back to Minneapolis. I would be squinting up into palm fronds dancing beneath a blazing blue sky, but my thoughts were with the people in the dark and muddy north. For starters, Dash and Foxy were at home, so there was that feeling of being slightly off kilter that comes from the family not being whole. Then there was the fact that Lady Tabouli and Lady Doctor Poodle’s mom died in the wee hours of the new year after a very long, hard battle with ovarian cancer. As I got to enjoy my mother, bustling around, doing the things she does, I wondered about my girls and how they were faring in Chicago at the end, but in some ways at the beginning, of a very hard journey. On top of that, I heard of Jack Jablonski’s spinal cord injury almost immediately after it happened through the Carondelet grapevine. A sophomore in high school, an alum of our little grade school, he was horrifically injured during a hockey game and will likely never walk again. It seems he may not even have use of his arms. It is heart breaking. It is a tragedy. There aren’t words for this. Again, thoughts of Jack’s parents, their utter agony, kept my thoughts pinned to Minneapolis. I still cannot stop thinking about this boy.

So for this belated Music Monday, a little something from home, from the place that preoccupied my mind when I was far away. Howler is a young band from the hood whom I had heard on the radio but was hugely surprised to see featured on Rolling Stone’s website. Go little dudes! They are darling and, in my opinion, quite good. A couple days before we went to Florida we had a small dance party with some families and after the tornado of goodness had passed, Saint James and I were lolling on the couch thinking about all the songs we wished we had played. It was late, we were tired, but there we lingered, luxuriating in the glow of the Christmas lights and the silently spinning disco ball. Can you find that song by those kids from our neighborhood? he asked, apropos of nothing. Ah, he had heard rumors. I grabbed the laptop and we watched it together, his head on my shoulder – a perfect ending to a perfect night.

Here’s a small reminder that at any one time, in any one place, there are myriad stories unfurling: endings, beginnings, heart break, triumphs and everything in between; a reminder that, for better or worse, the world just keeps on spinning. Enjoy. (And notice the basement of Java Jacks.)

It feels specious to say Happy New Year. But, what else is there left to say?

Dec 24 2011

Merry Christmas

watertowerusI love Christmas Eve. Growing up, that’s the day we would throw the house out of the window. That’s a Spanish idiom basically meaning, have a party, do it up, frolic and fest. Tirar la casa por la ventana. Sounds better in Spanish. Something about the anticipation makes eves a little more compelling than days, in my book. We hosted a brunch with some very old friends in the morning, which was such a lovely mellow start to the day. After putting away the last folding chair and coffee mug, the day just kind of unfolded in its own rhythm. Here in the little apple, it happens to be warm enough to sit on the front stoop with a beer. Late afternoon we took a walk to one of our favorite perches in the city. Someday I’ll tell  you about how much I love a good perch. The watertower in Tangletown is a medium walk from our house and never fails to elicit sighs from on high. At this time of year you can see downtown through the trees, but it’s that heady feeling of elevation, of seeing a blanket of tree tops, that gets me every time. And those stoic, handsome soldiers, protecting our pure waters. We just love it. Happy eve, everyone!watertower

Dec 17 2011

Beer and Nuts

6a00d8341c630a53ef013488659566970c-300wiMy editor at Simple Good and Tasty asked all of the writers to submit what their fave local or homemade holiday gifts would be. It’s a good list. I sent my contribution on a day when I was feeling a little Zack Galifiniakis, which, is not a rarity for me, I’m afraid. In any event, if you’d like some ideas for some yummies and pretties you can pick up around town, go check it out.

Dec 14 2011

What is the impulse

that causes people to see a mitten lying on the ground and pick it up and hook it on a branch? It’s such a small and hopeful gesture. Up here it won’t get trammeled and sullied. Up here it might be seen. Up here it might find its rightful owner. Whatever the impulse (and this impulse is alive and well around our muddy little city), it makes me feel a little happy, a little sad – sappy. Yes. That’s exactly it. I love that people do this, I really do, and yet the image of a baby bootie swaying in the chilly air pinches my heart a little too.Plate-3-Cat-034_Caps-original-collage

Dec 12 2011

Music Monday: Doomtree

Doomtree_group_credit_KellyLoverud-copyOn Friday night there was a collision – the girl in me who wants to fly around in the dark and hear loud live music, feeling it in every cell in her body, ran up against the mother and wife that I am on the outside and in the present. Mostly, these two pieces of me can co-exist peacefully. Mostly, I find that one actually helps the other. After I get to see something that moves me, that opens my mind and my heart, I think I’m actually a better mother. The next morning, my kids come down to breakfast and I’m usually playing whatever it is I heard the night before, all bright and happy, savoring that shimmer left behind, and they ask questions and they listen to the music and I tell them everything. Perhaps I am rationalizing, but my kids’ take-away might be this: art is one of life’s priorities and live music lifts up everyone in the room, the performers and every last person in the audience. I swear, First Avenue is like OZ to them. When they finally get to go, it’s going to be epic. But, as I’ve said before, this town is so chocked full of good music that Dash and I have to turn a blind eye to many many things we would like to see. And even with that kind of triage, there can still come a night when you look at the ticket, sigh and decide that staying in is the right thing to do.

I fell for Doomtree a couple summers ago when they played at the Lake Harriet Bandshell during the Music and Movies Series. We went with our neighbors on a beautiful August night and while the girls stood in line for free t-shirts that were being silkscreened on the spot, our boys stood on the benches and watched, rapt. How cute are they?doomtreeIt was a joyous rapping free-for-all and our guys were drinking it up. (I bet that’s what spawned their careers as Lil’ Ziggy, G-Dog and TNT.)

Doomtree is a Minneapolis collective of seven musicians who each go out and do their own thing, while coming “home” to collaborate with the each other in all sorts of different combinations and constellations. It’s so cool. They’re so cool – super talented, hard working, smart, honest. Dessa, beautiful, bad-ass Dessa, is the only woman. And I didn’t go to see their Blow-Out on Friday night – my sad little ticket is sitting on my bureau. I’m a little bitter, of course, but I snuggled on the couch with my monkeys and watched TV. And that kind of night, as we know, possesses its own kind of magic. But I’m still bitter – Nanook calls it FOMO (fear of missing out). I’ve got IKIMO (I know I missed out). Watch this for a little idea of how they work. So good. YouTube Preview Image

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