I began my “Yay I’m Almost 50 North American World Tour Xtravapaloooooza!™” with a road trip around the Great Lakes accompanied by my 13-year-old niece and occasionally the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. It was not the longest road trip I have taken but it was the most time I have spent in a tiny car with another human and I am happy to say we both survived the experience and enjoyed it.
Our adventure began with me being super courteous to the dedicated police officer who rightfully pulled me over for failing to slow down while driving through his speed trap, err 4-block town, I otherwise always slow down for when passing through. Yep, 10-minutes into the trip I was handing my license and outdated insurance card to a cop and swearing like a muther in my head while my niece was smirking and imagining her epic adventure was going to involve a night in jail.
For as long as I have lived in Minnesota, I have explored very little of the state beyond the Twin Cities and Duluth. It is my hope to rectify this situation. A City Pages ad for Ole Oppe Fest in Alexandria piqued my curiosity, it sounded like a perfect blend of small town charm and cheese and was a mere 2 hour drive away so I headed out.
As I was driving, I decided to swing into the Apple store to see what solutions they had for listening to music from my iPhone in my car. That led to a stop at Radio Shack of all places for an adapter. That led to a stop at another Radio Shack that had the adapter in stock. That led to the realization I had left my fitbit at home and a debate if I should return to retrieve it or carry on.
Last week I made my triumphant return to my favorite live music venue, First Avenue, for a rockin’ Blitzen Trapper and Drive-By Truckers concert; I am not sure how long it had been since I had graced those black walls with my presence which means it had been way too long. While no one specifically said so, I could feel the staff, even the building itself, welcoming me as I entered.
I spent the very first night I began living in Minneapolis, oh so many years ago, at First Avenue watching The Mighty Lemon Drops. I had just transported my last batch of belongings and a barfing cat from my hometown, took a second to toss on a passably cool t-shirt, added a fresh coating of hair spray and headed downtown.
Walking in the building I felt transported to musical heaven; I stopped for a moment to take it all in but had to get moving quickly as I was blocking the entering crowd. It was not exactly as presented in that Prince movie and Prince was no where to be found but, as I stood on the balcony overlooking the stage and crowd below, I knew I had made the right choice moving to Minneapolis.
Every time I travel to a new city, I make a point of visiting one or more of its museums, so it is somewhat strange how little time I have spent at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) when it is within walking distance of where I live. After seeing repeated ads for the Matisse exhibit, and having heard of the artist, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to spend a little quality time at the fabulous local museum.
I am always struck by the architecture of museums and often remember it more vividly than the paintings within. Be it columns, staircases, marble floors, grand entrances or long ornate hallways, each element combines to create a spectacular setting and a tone of noteworthiness. The MIA is no exception to creating a beautiful backdrop to appreciate art, although my favorite entrance is currently under siege of an ice wall worthy of guarding by the Night’s Watch from The Game of Thrones.
As I always do when given the opportunity, I bought the audio tour to help enhance my experience with actual knowledge and stuff beyond just looking at the prettiness; I found the audio for this exhibit to be well done and worth the added cost. The headsets add a layer of isolation making me feel as though I am all alone enjoying the art.
There is something about visiting a museum that makes me feel small. When I think about how long ago a piece was created or how prolific an artist was I am in awe and wonder about their exceptional life and the sacrifices they had to make to create such beauty. With Matisse, he was considered a modern master by the time he was my age and was able to reinvent himself and his art as he continued his career; if I am a modern master of anything it is TV viewing which is much less impressive.
My ability to appreciate art is incredibly primitive; I react on a gut level as to what strikes my fancy but could not articulate any logical reason why one piece appeals to me over another. I listen to the audio, I read the posted description and while I understand that these words are English, when put together to describe the art I practically hear the swoshing sound as they fly over my head. I learned to accept this about myself ages ago and I am sure it is part of my charm.
On this visit I found myself drawn to some lithographs and a painting called “Girl Reading, Vase of Flowers” which I liked for the colors as well as how the girl was sitting as she read.
Normally, I am drawn to sculptures and it takes all of my self-control to not pet them. I liked Matisse’s sculptures but not as much as the other pieces. I did think it was cool that he used sculpting as a way to inspire his painting.
Most of the people milling about the art appeared appreciative and eager to take it all in. There was one couple that seemed to be in my way no matter which direction I turned but, as I was not in any hurry, I was not bothered. I was struck by a lost girl who was casually looking for her people as a museum staff member followed closely behind trying to extract any clue as to their identity. The young girl, maybe 7 or 8, seemed so nonchalant by the occurrence I assumed this was not a first and considering I saw her wondering about on her own later I also assume it will not be her last.
I enjoyed the exhibit and it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. I must make a point to get back to the MIA soon and enjoy the permanent collection.
Yesterday I spontaneously decided to head to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum hoping some of the great outdoors and a farmers market would shake my boredom and distract my brain.
I had a vague notion of where the Arboretum is located based on the one time I stumbled upon it wanting to visit the birthplace of the best apple ever, the Honeycrisp. It seemed far enough away to justify some snacks so I convinced myself that a Jamba Juice with a protein boost was an acceptable treat and would not violate Operation Suck Less in 2014; I even included a tiny bit of banana for extra nutrition hoping all the berries would mask the nastiness.
I glanced at the directions and headed for Hwy 5 dodging the massive potholes to the best of my ability. I see much roadwork headed our way this spring.
I should probably know the speed limit of these highways but my eyeballs seem to refuse to acknowledge any speed limit sign as if there is a conspiracy within my body knowing that I really do have a need for speed. Since I do not have a need for a speeding ticket, I just drove a tiny bit slower than the lead car; I cannot wait until I can drop the top! Note to self: plan a road trip.
The Arboretum is closer than I expected so I didn’t even get to finish my beverage, which was fine since the banana was giving me gross banana burps and I wanted to barf. There is a certain joy being alone in the car and being able to burp as loud as you want, even if they are gross banana burps.
I love when I can drive someplace on instinct and little instruction so I was feeling pretty proud when I found it so easily. To be fair, I think anyone could find it with little instruction but I am going to feel proud anyway.
The admission is a bit pricey at $12 but I told myself it is for the trees and you do get a voucher for a second visit within 30 days. I was surprised at the crowd, but I guess many other people were looking to shake the boredom.
The main visitor center was hosting the Mill City Farmers market and I wandered around aimlessly looking for anything that might appeal to my still flip-floppy stomach.
I am not sure why I thought I would find vegetables since there is still snow everywhere but when you put together the words “farmer” and “market” my mind thinks veggies. Instead, I tried some barbecued bison and wild rice meatballs from a mom and her cute helper child who slimed up the toothpicks before she stuck them in the balls. They were okay but my regular cow ones are better and do not come with random kid slime.
Since the market did not seem to hold much interest, I headed out to wander the trails. Even covered in snow, the grounds are beautiful and trees, I assume maple, are set to gather maple syrup.
I wandered around, letting my thoughts drift and enjoying the snow for what I wished would be the last time. At this point I realized spontaneous walking adventures in the freezing cold are less awesome when you go straight from the gym and are still wearing yoga pants so I headed back to the car.
Leaving the Arboretum requires turning on to a rather busy highway, which always makes me tense trying to find the perfect opening; this body has been in a couple car accidents and would like to never experience that again. I mistakenly let a few prime opportunities go but, as the line behind me began to get longer, I got more gutsy and I finally gunned it hoping that white truck coming at me would slow down long enough to let me hit whatever the speed limit is on the highway. Luckily, it did.
It was a nice afternoon adventure and while it took me the rest of the night to thaw my butt, I am glad I made the trek. I will have to head back again when the snow is just a distant memory.
Exhausted last night from my whopping one beer, a Surly Cynic which by the way is mighty tasty, guacamole and freezing walk around Lake Calhoun, I decided to head to bed early.
I was sleeping soundly, probably snoring but as I am alone who really cares, when I was awoken by a loud crash. I had no idea what the hell was going on. Both of my cats were now on top of me and staring at the door. I remained frozen, unsure if anything had actually happened or maybe I had been dreaming…really loud dreams.
Suddenly, there was a banging on my door, three or four loud hits with something other than a fist. Then the banging continued down the hall. I still remained frozen, and was completely baffled as to why neither cat had moved. No living being in this place has any flight or fight instinct, we freeze and hope what is coming after us is a T-Rex and can’t see us unless we move.
My cats were looking at me, then turning to the door, then back at me. I was hoping one of them would go investigate and I am sure they were thinking the same of me. I started to imagine every possible scenario of what kind of beast was awaiting on the other side of what now seemed like a really thin door.
I finally moved enough to find my phone, yes I sleep with my damn phone, and held it in my hand not sure if I should call 911 or use it to defend myself from what I was certain was some kind of hell beast coming to take me home. I focused on my breathing, trying to not move too much so the T-Rex hell beast could not find me. One cat moved, luckily it is the one I don’t like as much so that was cool.
Eventually, I heard a scuffle and saw the reflection of the twirling lights of cop cars. I held on my phone tighter and finally fell back asleep. I decided if it was a hell beast, I can’t put up a fight so take me while I am sleeping. If it was a human, I am sure the cops have it under control. If it was a T-Rex, that would be sweet, I always wanted a T-Rex with their cute stubby arms!
Leaving this morning was a bit nerve-racking; I had no idea what awaited me outside my door. Possibly there was a dead body; maybe the hell beast took someone else in error. I looked through the peephole, which was useless and then slowly opened to find all was clear.
As I emerged, so did a neighbor and we compared stories. Another neighbor came along who had actually talked to the cops and he gave us the official story that a dude with a pipe broke in by shattering the front windows, damaged a bunch of doors including mine but was apprehended and carted off to jail along with the 3 other randoms that broke into the next door building. While that is the official story, I remain unconvinced that it was not a hell beast as it was really, really loud.
Our conversation continued discussing the hood and all the recent changes. So many buildings have gone up this year and while one would think all these extra people in our before undiscovered corner of the city would be awesome, it is difficult to deal with the traffic congestion and all these annoying people!
Eventually, the conversation bored me and I was off to enjoy the day, ever on the look out for hell bests of course.
Last night I had a lovely night with an old friend at JJ’s Coffee + Wine Bistro in Uptown and discovered the most brilliant concept: A coffee house by day that converts to a wine bar at night. A casual bar where you can sit around tapping on your various electronic devices, sip wine, eat some tasty snacks and look at Lake Calhoun and the Uptown crowd. It is a good thing I do not live closer or I might just become a regular which would put a big wrinkle in my Suck Less In 2014™ campaign.