Have a nice December 25th, everybody. Especially those of you who are stuck working today.
Have a nice December 25th, everybody. Especially those of you who are stuck working today.
I had been to the James J. Hill House previously, in high school. I wasn't too excited about it because "Woohoo! Big house. BTDT."
Our visit was so much better than I remember it being, which I'm sure was largely due to our guide. I don't think the guided tours are supposed to be 1.5 hours long.
We learned about the Hill family (of Great Northern Railway fame) through each of the rooms that we visited. Apparently Mrs. Hill sported a (warning: hyperbole ahead) 12-inch waist before having 10 kids. At their engagement party, Mary was given the gift of the finest finishing school education in all of Milwaukee.
We were led through the entertaining and dining ares, the youngest boy's bedroom, the Hills' bedrooms (they were separate, of course!), and the servants' working and living quarters. Despite being built in 1891, the house had electrical lighting, indoor plumbing, central heating, and a shower for the man of the house (because only men take showers). The house didn't have much of the original furniture because the Hill family gave it to the Church after James and Mary died. The house was used as office space for 50 years before the historical society acquired it.
Regular Admission: $8
Overall Grade: A
Re-visit?: Yes. During December, they put up the holiday decorations that the Hills would have had.
Okay, now that it's November 12, I can feel free to hate on the veterans in public again.
I don't much care for you
First I tried to go to the library to check out a museum pass, but they were closed for Veterans' Day, even though it seems like a holiday upon which they could really capitalize by having a huge display of recommended veterans reading, and maybe Soldier Story Time for the kids, and hell, a big party with books and cake to celebrate the learning.
Luckily, Janeowit's library observed Veterans' Day on Friday, so they were open. There was a committee meeting involved in deciding whether or not she should be allowed to have a pass because her old one wasn't checked in yet, because, wait for it... they were closed for Veterans' Day and things that should have been checked in on Friday were not. After all the heated discussion, the votes were tallied and she was allowed to check out another pass.
Phew. We get to see history! So we meander over the Sibley House grounds, insomuch as my Honda Civic meanders. We saw a sign for an Historic Monument, so we made a quick diversion, because I am not one to miss out on anything marked with a brown highway sign. It turns out that we had already stopped by this monument once before, but it was nice to revisit the plaque. My poor directional sense then lead us into a Ye Olde cemetary, which was, in retrospect, a good thing. The sitting buck and standing doe in the cemetary were to be the highlight of our excursion.
Having visited Ye Olde dead people, we were off once again to visit the home of Minnesota's first governor. We get to the Sibley site, but observe that no other cars were present. We get out of the car and walk up to the vistitors' center/DuPuis house (incidentally, made from brick from Milwaukee).
For Veterans' Day, presumably. This makes no sense to us. What could possibly be more celebratory of Veterans than learning about history?! Note: the closure of this property means that Historic Fort Snelling was also closed. That makes the least sense of all. If you visited HFS on November 11 and can verify that it was open, please do tell. Anybody? No? No.
So the janeowit (I think her name is 'naners now) and I settled for climbing on history and peering into Ye Olde windows. There was a cat hanging around that will have to battle the deer for Best Exhibit.
Regular Admission: Peering in windows is free all day, every day. I don't recommend doing so after dark, due to Ye Olde no lighting and Ye Olde tresspassing charges.
Overall Grade: D+ The cat saved the day.
Re-visit?: Maybe if they were actually open.
Run by the University of Minnesota, the Landscape Arboretum features a lot of plants. Trees, shrubbery, roses, mums, and bulbs. And a bunch of other stuff, too.
The first thing we did was to take the 3-mile drive around the grounds. The drive takes you through the many varieties of trees and around a few gardens.
In addition to the drive, they have many nature paths, again with the trees and gardens, and sometimes chipmunks. The weather was just about perfect for a nature walk. We walked past the mum garden, which was the last garden to bloom and was in the process of dying out when we went. They have a lot of mums. They have a lot of everything, really. The Arboretum would be a very nice place to go in the spring or early summer when there are actually blooming plants.
You can hold weddings at the Arboretum, but I don't know if they'll let you do it Kazakh-style. You may want to call ahead about that.
We went to the Apple House afterwards, which is affiliated with the Arboretum, but free to enter. Apple Season is pretty much over now, so they only had a few varieties of apples. (By the way, Janeowit tried a Honeycrisp and admits that they are like one of those bands that you have to like even though everybody else likes them and they play their songs on the radio.) We bought some Cortland apples, because they're pretty good for eating. I may make apple sauce with mine.
Regular Admission: $7
Overall Grade: B+
Re-visit?: High revisit value, but not necessarily for full admission price.
This Saturday, Some Guy and I visited the Museum of Russian Art, which was much larger and more popular than we had imagined. It is, oddly enough, housed in a spanish mission style former church (see here). The museum has only been in its current location since 2005.
Portraiture of children was one of the approved painting genres.
That note next to a painting of a young soviet sums up pretty well their current exhibit, Russian Realism. Only in Soviet Russia would you find an artistic rendering of Blast Furnace 5. I've never really paid a lot of attention to the choice of subject matter in art, but this exhibit really smacks you upside the head with it. Apparently, if you toe the line really well with pastoral paintings of the Russian countryisde and school children, the state will look the other way if you paint a few nudes.
The other exhibit that the museum has right now is on laquered boxes, the whimsical extravagence of which starkly contrasts the realism exhibit. They were shiny and detailed. Most of the boxes on display were from the mid-1980s.
Regular Admission: $5
Overall Grade: A-
Re-visit?: High revisit value.
This weekend's educational field trip was to the American Swedish Institute. The ASI is located in a house once owned by some incredibly rich guy who could afford such opulence. There were three floors plus the basement. The top floor feaured a ballroom complete with its very own stage. You know, for impromtu neighborhood plays and whatnot. There was also a turret (the structural element, not the gunning element).
Aside from the permanent "Swedish Life in the Twin Cities" exhibit in the ballroom, the museum largely consisted of temporary exhibits featuring Swedish artists. We were witness to the following bits of Swedish artistry:
- LENNART NILSSON: LIFE This was a photography exhibit, featuring photos of sad polar bears that make the Como Zoo look positively humane. There were also creepy photographs of feti. I'm not a fan of innards and don't really care to see them through the translucent skin of a fetus. Oddly enough, Body Worlds didn't affect me.
- AMERICAN GLASS & SWEDISH TRADITION This exhibit featured really expensive glass things. I'm not quite sure what you would do with it once you spent $3000 on one, but hey, it's nice that they consider those with too much money on their hands.
- COLLECTORS' CHOICE: FLAT-PLANE CARVINGS I know what janeowit wants for Christmas!! Do you? (If you said a wood carving of creepy guy on a barrel, you'd be half right. She also wants that delightful tacky lamp.)
- HENNING JENSEN: LANDSCAPES AND SEASCAPES Now that the Kid Dakota guy is out of the picture, janeowit has found herself a new love interest in this talented painter. If I could wrap you up some fjords and get them for you for Christmas, I would. Very nice oil paintings of, obviously, seascapes.
There was also a weaving room and, of course, the absurdity of the huge and expensive house that 3 people lived in. Part time. There was a sculpture garden, but there was only one sculpture. And it wasn't really a sculpture.
Regular Admission: $6
Overall Grade: C+
Re-visit?: No. I'm glad we went, but the museum lacks re-visit value.
If we had been thinking, we would have parked in the giant parking ramp attached to the theater next door. I'm using the royal 'we' here, because it makes me feel less responsible for my own choices. As it was, we were in a 2-hour parking area on a nice day, and we all know that Mpls cops only ticket on nice days, when they do so with a vengeance.
So we had a scant 2 hours to spend at the museum. We planned on going back to the car and moving it to a different spot in the lot (to get around the 2 hrs in a single spot technicality) and feeding the meter some more, but this is really a 2.5 hour museum. It didn't seem worth it. And it's not like the kids were going to let us guide the logs down the river anyway.
- The Flour Tower: 8 stories of pure floury fun. Going up and down the tower in the Elevator Classroom, we learned about how flour is made, and also about the various risks to life and limb taken by the workers in the name of efficiency. I think a lot of people died so that 50s housewives could make bread. Of course, if it was anything like the foccacia in the baking laboratory, it was worth it.
There was a fabulous open-air view of St. Anthony Falls from the flour tower. This is when I became most annoyed that I had left my camera in my car.
- The Baking Lab!: Here we could feel different flours by elbowing some midgets out of the way. They also had bread and carrot cake samples. I copied down a recipe, none too discretely. I loudly read the "one sample per person" sign to myself. And, you know, anybody who had maybe missed it.
- The Water Lab: This is where you go when you want to splash around and throw miniature wooden logs around. Oh...wait...no... that's actually what you're not supposed to do. I get confused sometimes. We tried to preserve a waterfall by placing wooden beams over the rocks so that they wouldn't erode away, but the beams just ended up floating downstream to the bridge that I built. Because a Mill City requires a bridge, some mills, and a waterfall.
- Ye Olde Re-enacter Who Has Nothing to Do With Mills: I actually skipped this one, but rumor has it that I didn't miss very much. I read about her on the recipe card. They had giant recipe cards that talked about how one might go about making a Mill City.
- Ruins Courtyard: The entrance that we used was through a courtyard of ruins, hence the name. Apparently the mill was destroyed in a fire long after it ceased being used for milling. The building was largely gutted, leaving only the limestone shell and twisted bits of metal. The museum was built into a little over half of the remains, and the rest were left bare for us to marvel at.
Regular Admission: $8
Overall Grade: A--
Re-visit?: Absolutely. Maybe not for a regular museum visit, but there are a lot of events and special tours held here that would be very interesting. (Haunted mill tour, anybody?)
The janeowit and myself checked out our very first museum pass (thanks, Macys!) this weekend. Of course, my library card caused the machine to make a disapproving noise because I haven't used it in 7 years. In the end, they let me have a museum pass. Yay! Interestingly, the passes to the FREE Zoo were all checked out.
Anyway, the Gibbs Museum of Pioneer and Dakotah Life was our destination. Normal admission price is $6.50. We were led on a guided tour of the Dakota exhibits. You can do some pretty nifty stuff with buffalo. Anybody want a canteen?
After a walk through the farm area, we were treated to a tour of Ye Olde House. There was a very enlightening poem on one of the walls about the life of a woman. The person leading this tour really needed to read the museum's own signs and pamphlets. She generally didn't know the answers to questions.
There was also a one-room grassy dug out house thing at some point. That was back when you would sleep sitting up so as to not catch pneumonia and die.
Re-visit?: Probably not for full admission price.
The bike shop guy charged me $399, because that's what he felt like charging me. No effort on my part to get a price reduction from the $429 on the tag. That's my kind of haggling. I added a couple of minor things for an extra $14.
Look at all that butt padding! Yay for butts! And padding for them and such.
On a more serious note, I am completely sold on Jamis bikes (obviously). I test-rode a $750 Cannondale at a different bike shop and was thoroughly underwhelmed.
Museum Adventure Pass! Macy's totally rocks at buying love. This list reads like a comprehensive collection of all of the things in St. Paul and That Other City that I've been meaning to do but just haven't. And it's free! I'm a sucker for free museums.
Publicly available to janeowit- pick a first and second choice from the list and I'll check out a pass. The loan period is 7 days and only one per person can be checked out per loan period, which is kind of unfortunate, so choose wisely!
Jamis Aragon. It's a bit more than I was looking to spend, but the shop owner hinted that there may be bargaining to be had. If they have it in a not-women's frame, I may just pick one up this week.
I admit to be partially swayed by the shop person. There's something to be said for pleasant salespeople. They let me take a $400 bike out for a ride without asking for any ID or anything. He was also very patient about explaining the differences between the bikes in which I was interested. The other bike shop I looked at is having a great sale, but I would rather pay [near] full price at a more pleasant store. Plus, I'm kind of sold on the Jamis brand and this is pretty much the only shop in MN that carries it.
Yay! Now I get to go play in traffic again!
They rock so much that I could spend a mere $5 more to get a direct flight, but I'm not going to! They seriously give you warm, soft chocolate chip cookies. I considered getting their credit card just so that I could hug it in my arms late at night, and also to get more flights for free. I haven't yet, but if they feed me a few more cookies, I could be convinced.
Plus, the Milwaukee airport isn't too bad. It has one huge, huge midwesterly positive going for it: it's not Detroit. And also, have I mentioned that the seats are large, plush, and have more leg room than I know what to do with?
It's funny, because Some Guy has found his low-budget airline of choice in AirTran. Apparently some people value free satellite radio more than cookies. I do not know who these people are or how they came to be.
I just moved to an area where I feel reasonably certain that I can ride my bike without anybody attempting vehicular homicide.
I am considering buying a bike possibly in the near future to capitalize on "Oh, hey...I guess summer's kind of over and it's going to snow soon" sales. The unusable bike I've been carting around for 14 months would cost over $200 to fix, while a new bike could be had for a scant $100-200 more.
Do you have a bike? What do you like about it? Would you recommend a particular brand? I am strictly interested in cross/hybrid bikes. Current bike is a Giant. I am strongly considering a Raleigh because I'm still pissed at 12-year old me for buying a crappier bike than the super-on-sale Raleigh for its pretty color. For the record, I chose royal blue over silver blue.
I have the helmet, now all I need is the bike. Answer away!
$6 for a peanut butter sandwich?! That's ridiculous!
Or so I've been telling myself ever since a P.B. Loco popped up in the mall a few years or so ago.
But oh how wrong I was. So very wrong. Yesterday I gave in to the Peanut Butter Deities and handed over my six bucks. In return, I was given a raspberry white chocolate peaut butter, marshmallow cream, and banana sandwich. Toasted. On wheat (because that practically makes up for the marshmallow cream). I cannot believe that I have been withholding this gooey wonder from myself for so long. I actually paid $7 for a jar of the peanut butter used in my sandwich.
Oh hey, Alton Brown? Your multiple shuddering mouthgasms are right here. *points to P.B. Loco*
I hated this book when I was made to read it in high school. I found it to be whiny and banal.
I decided to give it another shot when we learned that it would be the first production at the new Guthrie Theater. First, let me just say that this novel was incredibly well adapted to the stage.
Second: Ten years later, I have to admit that Mr. Fitzgerald makes more sense. It's a play written by a mid-20s guy about mid-20s people. Forcing people with 10 years too little experience to read the book does it a great disservice, in my opinion. It makes me think that revisiting Last Tango in Paris might not be a bad idea.
Third: There's a subtle barb in there that I don't think people not from here would necessarily get. I can't even remember if it was in the book. Anyway, the first time that Nick tells people where he's from (St. Paul), he receives quizzical looks. The second time, he says he's from Minneapolis. There was an audible theater-wide "oooooooo." The car ride home involved a very terse discussion of the merits of St. Paul versus That Other City.