Monday, May 31, 2010

Quite the Start

I had every intention of putting up a blog post yesterday, but then I kind of got a little swept away. Mostly literally (although there was no actual sweeping involved).

Christopher had had me set aside noon yesterday (Sunday) until noon today (Monday). And he wouldn't tell me anything about what was going on or why we were setting the time aside. I asked a few times for hints, but was pretty much stonewalled -- and got no help from any of our mutual friends.

At about Noon, I finally got him to nail down at least a timeframe for when we would be leaving the house. And, at about 2:15, we left to run a couple of quick errands. On the way "home," however, we drove past our place and headed into downtown Minneapolis. I threw out a few possibilites (and Christopher tossed out a few more which almost had me opening my door and exiting the car in traffic on the freeway), but I didn't get any actual answer until we pulled up to the Valet stand at the Ivy Hotel.

We dropped off the car and unloaded the trunk (which included, among other things, a bag which Christopher told me I was not allowed to drop), and went inside. I'd never been to the Ivy, before -- although Christopher has been to the Spa there, and the restaurant, in the past -- and it is very upscale chic. Clean lines everywhere, and a nice comfortable lobby seating area. Our room wasn't quite ready, so we went to sit in the lobby.

When the room still wasn't ready within the "5 minutes or so" we were originally told it would be, one of the staff came over and offered to get us drinks from the bar. It was almost 3:30 in the afternoon, so of course we both said yes. Almost immediately after the drinks came, our room was ready. And I'm so glad we waited!

Christopher had gotten us an "oversized" room on the 18th floor of the hotel, facing west. The room was very well appointed in creams and rich dark woods, and the bathroom was huge -- with both a large tub and a great big glassed-in shower, each of which had a view out the bathroom window.

We lounged for a bit, watching some episodes of The Muppet Show (Christopher had brought DVDs, as well as his computer and appropriate cables for hooking up to the flatscreen TV). Then, around 5, we went downstairs to the Spa, where I had my first try in a steamroom (is it just me, or is it kind of claustrophic when the steam first comes in and you can no longer see the door?), and then a soak in the big whirlpool.

Back upstairs, the sky was beginning to clear up after some afternoon showers, and our view just kept getting better and better. We could see the front of Symphony Hall, the front of the Convention Center, the plaza at WCCO-TV, and the big park area behind the Catholic Charities building. (For the record -- I never knew there was a park area behind the Catholic Charites building on top of the Convention Center parking ramp. It looks very nice from 18 stories up and a block away, though.)

Knowing that one of my favorite inventions of all time is "food that appears at your door," Christopher ordered pizza from Pizza Luce for dinner, and we settled in with wine (the stuff I wasn't supposed to drop in that bag), Pepperoni and Gorgonzola pizza, and "What's Up, Doc?" (possibly my favorite screwball comedy of all time).

Before the sun went down, our entire room was bathed in the golden light. Eventually, about the time it dipped below the horizon, the clouds turned pink and red and purple. And then the streetlights and building lights around us started to turn on. There truly is nothing like being high up in a building in the middle of a city at night. Even a small city.

This morning was incredibly leisurely. We decided to opt for more food coming to our door as we watched more Muppets. As usual, the room service prices were kind of steep, but -- for a nice change -- there was a ton of food involved. The pancakes, hashbrowns, and bacon were all delicious (although, truth be told, the eggs were kind of strangely dense). And, after breakfast, it finally dawned on me that the tower our windows looked down on was the "castle" looking thing on the side of the building. (It's in the pictures on their website.)

By the time we checked out (just moments before our Noon check-out time), we had definitely had a wonderful time. Possibly made even more special for me because I know that this has a very real chance of being my only "vacation" of the summer. And knowing that Christopher took advantage of that opportunity to make sure I had a great birthday, well, that's just icing on the cake!

OH. The cake! I forgot to mention that, when we entered the room, there was a cake box sitting on the top of the cabinet beneath the TV. Apparently Christopher had asked a friend of ours to get a cake from our favorite bakery, and had arranged to have it placed in the room. It was VERY good. Possibly even better than usual, thanks to the altitude!


I'm sure some people would say that it would get boring and commonplace if every day were hotels and room service and spas. But... gee... wouldn't it be fun to give it a try?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

And, Thus, It Begins

Today is my 43rd birthday.

The final day of the 43rd year of my life and the start of the 44th. (Really. If you do the math, that's how it works out. After all, you don't turn one until the end of your first year. So that means you turn 43 at the end of your 43rd year.)

One year ago, I celebrated my birthday at Disneyland with Christopher as part of a trip out to Los Angeles to visit my sisters and their families. We spent the week driving all over the LA area, as I tried to give Christopher a good cross-section of what LA has to offer. And, of course, Disneyland - on my birthday - was part of that.

In the past year, life has been - mostly - pretty good. My job (no matter how much I complain about it) became full-time. I took not one, but two, trips to New York City - one of which included seeing the now much-Tony-award-nominated "A Little Night Music" - and both of which included good times with great friends. And I got to drive home to my hometown for some time completely away from the outside world.

We've had friends (and family) come to town for visits. We've spent time with family and friends who were already here. And we've gotten to reconnect with some people we hadn't seen in a really long time, but wish we could see more of.

We've also had to let some friendships slide as times and lives changed. We've had to pare down a bit as we've dealt with my less-than-stellar income and almost-non-existent vacation time. But that hasn't stopped us from dreaming.

There have been cocktails, and French cheeses, and showtunes, and movie nights, and brunches, and dinners, and roadtrips, and haircuts, and trips to the garden store, and trivia nights, and phonecalls, and blog posts, and loud times, and quiet moments.

I may not have figured out the Ultimate Question during my year of 42, but as I start my year of 43, I'm okay with that.

Now, where's the cake?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Almost the Start of a Year

I admit that, although I much prefer to be the host of a gathering - working in the kitchen, setting out the napkins, helping the conversation flow - I also do enjoy being the occasional center of attention.

(Yes, I know some of you reading this are probably saying "occasional?" but as many of you also know I have some friends with really big personalities, and so it's best if we all sort of trade-off from time to time. That way no one gets too tired, and no one else gets too tired of us.)

I enjoy telling stories to a crowd. I like when people notice me in good ways. I even enjoy being taken out for dinner by good friends and toasted for my birthday.

With that in mind, I would like to add a caveat: I really dislike celebrating my birthday at work.

Which is not to say that I haven't had some really great at-work birthdays in the past. Among other things, I have some pictures from my time at CenterStage in Baltimore with which I can prove that (thanks, in part, to my sisters and my parents who helped supply the food and favors from at least half-way across the country).

At my current job, though, there is a common calendar which lists everyone's birthdays on it. And, like clockwork, we all get herded into the conference room at 12:30 on the day of a birthday to sing (badly) and eat (frequently mediocre) cake of some kind or another. Yes, the thought is nice. But the execution is usually pretty bad. And the half hour of sitting around trying to make conversation is usually pretty painful.

Maybe my dislike of "communal" birthdays comes because I have a summer birthday, and was never the focus of attention in school while everyone sang and someone passed out homemade treats. But I suspect that it's because birthdays have always felt like a time for personal reflection - something I don't feel like having while hanging out with people I'm more "acquaintances" with, instead of friends.

I'm kind of hoping that, since my birthday is actually on Saturday, they'll forget to celebrate it. If they happen to remember it, though, please keep your fingers crossed that the cake is good.

Good cake can make up for almost anything.


**Unrelated endnote** I was checking out "The Writer's Almanac" today and absolutely loved today's (May 27th) poem. You can click through to their site in the lefthand column of this page. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Today's Today-ness May Be Delayed

Sometimes the answer you're looking for is in the least expected place. And, sometimes, it shows up a day or two late.

Hmmm... as I wrote those lines, I could hear in my brain a voice that was a cross betwen Carrie Bradshaw, Doogie Howser, and Phoebe Halliwell (who was channelling Carrie Bradshaw at the time).

Here's the thing, though: I'm really busy at the moment. We had friends in town last weekend and it was a blast seeing them, but it meant that - aside from Sunday's blog - I've been pretty far out of the blogosphere, lately. In fact, I really don't even know what I talked about on Sunday, except for the fact that the weather was sticky, with a capital ICK.

Let's see... What all did we cram into the 52 hours that they were in town? Christopher took them on a downtown Minneapolis tour (including the Mary Tyler Moore statue photo-op, of course) after lunch at the Colossal Cafe on Friday. I met up with them in Uptown where we checked out some stores before heading home where we hung out, made dinner, and then played cards until we were all too tired to stay up any longer.

Saturday was going to be a massively productive and touristy day, but the predicted gorgeous weather became a torrential downpour, so we hung out in the house longer than we had planned. From there we did lunch in St Paul at Grampa Tony's pizza, followed by antique shopping, and then a trip to the Minnehaha Falls, by which time - luckily - the weather had evened out. Saturday evening was the "mystery night" for me, but they did fill me in early enough so that I knew to get a little dressed up for a night of dinner and Cuban jazz piano at the Dakotah in downtown Minneapolis.

Sunday morning was a bit of a repeat of Saturday morning - good intentions to get moving early kind of fell apart. When we did leave, it was to check out the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis, and then to drive around to the Mary Tyler Moore house near Lake of the Isles. From there, we headed home to pick up everyone's luggage and took a quick side-trip to the Mall of America before dropping everyone off at the airport.

Throw in just a little excitement when the basement shower backed up, and you've got a pretty good idea of the weekend.

Of course, as I was trying to figure out what to write, I was stalling and pulled up the Tiz and Ass blog (if you haven't read it recently, you really should check it out). Her reaction to the same kind of situation I had last weekend was as follows:

SIster here

All good... can't write. Busy entertaining.

More soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon.

So I guess I've only sort of been channelling her. Kind of like "Carrie/Doogie/Phoebe/Tiz Lite."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Not Only the Meringues Feel Sticky

To be honest, those gooey meringues turned into a very nice frozen meringue torte for dessert on Friday night. They set up pretty much perfectly in the freezer, and when we topped them with chocolate and/or butterscotch sauces, they were really yummy.

And - boy - am I glad I didn't try to make them yesterday or today. Yesterday, although almost all forecasts were predicting sunny and nice, it clouded up in the morning and we had a couple of solid downpours. Luckily, the five of us (did I mention we had three friends in from Baltimore this weekend?) weren't moving too quickly, so by the time we left home to go out it had pretty much stopped.

We spent our day bopping around in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, then went out to dinner last night to a restaurant on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis. By the time we were walking to and from dinner, there was a wonderful breeze and it was a beautiful night.

Then came the humidity. It started out only a little annoying. We debated closing up the house and turning on the A/C, but didn't want to freeze out everyone sleeping in the basement. Of course, at 2:47 this morning, when our one overly-sensitive smoke alarm decided to go off because it was sensing too much of "something" in the air, that was a clue that the humidity was getting kind of high.

(For the record, we have multiple smoke alarms in the house. The one in question goes off when food gets too fragrant. It goes off when you open the bathroom door after a shower. And, now, it apparently goes off when the relative humidity reaches 72%.)

Playing tourist out around Minneapolis today was a bit uncomfortable. "Sticky" is probably the best way to describe the weather. The second best way would be "August-like."

This could be a very interesting summer.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gooey Meringues

You know those days when things seem to be going really well, and then just turn out not as well as you'd hoped? I had one of those, yesterday.

I was on my way to the grocery store after work, and was able to get in touch with my parents (everyone say "hi" to my parents!), and so I made sure that I was getting the right number of eggs to make the first step in a dessert I'm making for this weekend.

And, yes, if you guessed that I was making meringues, you're right. In fact, I was making a Frozen Meringue Torte, which is - in essence - 3 meringue layers with whipped cream between them. And, yes, it's frozen.

I know it sounds pretty boring, but it's really good. And it's a little crispy and not too sweet. And you can top it with pretty much anything, so everyone who is sharing it can do their own thing.

So I got home, with my eggs, and set about to make my meringues. I almost lost one of the whites, because the yolk fell into the bowl, but it didn't break, so I fished it out. I was definitely having good luck.

The mixer whipped everything up perfectly. They spread out without being too annoying. I was on my way.

So I popped the meringues into the oven (45 minutes at 275), and went about my business. When the timer went off, I turned off the oven (without looking), and wandered off for about an hour and a half to let them "dry."

I finally got back to them later last night, and - while pulling them out of the oven - decided I'd pop off one of the "extra" kind of bite-size meringues to see how they had done. It crackled around the edges. It smelled amazing. It stuck to the parchment paper.

Yeah. That's not supposed to happen. Meringues are supposed to dry up and pop off the parchment paper. So, back into the oven they went. All night. With the door propped just slightly open.

This morning they were still not as dry as I'd wanted. But they got layered in waxed paper and tossed in the fridge, anyway. I suspect dessert this weekend will be a little more chewy than it ought to be.

I plan to blame the weather.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Dust of Hallways Past

I started sneezing this morning at work. That's not unheard-of for me to do, of course. Our office is in an old building and pieces of the ceiling frequently fall on the desks, so you know there's going to be some dust. And some sneezing.

Today, however, my one sneeze turned into multiple. And they each happened just as I was relaxing from the last one. It was, to say the least, a bit annoying. Especially since I thought I was done with my spring allergies.

Then, around lunchtime, I walked out into the hallway to go downstairs to get the office mail, and noticed that there was a pale white haze in the air. Apparently the office space across the hall from us (which has been getting renovated for a while) is now in the drywalling and pre-painting stage. So they are creating clouds of drywall dust, which is filtering into the rest of the building. Hence the sneezing.

Relieved to have figured that out (and, yet, a little perturbed by the lack of safety ventilation), I went about my business. When I walked back out of the stairwell from gathering the mail I walked into the warmer end of the hallway, where the sunlight actually heats up the space and the air conditioning doesn't do as well. And I smelled something familiar.

It took a moment to realize what it was. There was the warm dust, and the old building, and - somewhere in the background - a little bit of fresh paint. And I was - for that split second - walking into one of the school buildings in my home town. I think that the first thing to come to mind was walking from the old part of the elementary school into the addition (which was added on while I was in school there). It was the scent of the old and new mixing in the warmth of the summer. It was how the schools smelled at the end of one schoolyear and the beginning of the next.

I paused for a moment in the middle of my not-so-wonderful day and tried to breathe it in. To recapture that feeling. The excitement and promise of those old hallways at the start of the schoolyear when they were fresh and clean, yet filled with that slightly warm and dusty aroma of old buildings.

Then, as quickly as it came, it was gone. The hallway was filled with drywall dust. And I was headed back to my desk where the ceiling falls from time to time, with no recess to look forward to.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Blog Seed, of Sorts...

I'm self-sequestered (with a bit of a nudge from Christopher), in the basement on this Sunday evening. I'm down here to do some editing that I simply haven't been able to make it through this weekend. Which is totally my own fault.

I dragged Christopher to the garden store yesterday morning (talk about chaos - going to a garden store on the first gorgeous Saturday of the "safe" planting season!), which then precipitated planting things after we got home. PLUS I still had to put in all of the things we've picked up over the past few weeks.

So I spent about 3 hours, yesterday, planting 4 peonies, 2 pasque flowers, a Himalayan blue poppy (okay, that one I'm a bit afraid might not last long), 6 marigolds (which I've been growing from seed), a tomato plant, 4 "super chilis," some tarragon, oregano, and basil. Oh. And 12 portulaca plants and 2 clumps of fountain flame grass in the planters by the front walk.

So... Yeah... That kind of ate up a bit more of yesterday than I had originally planned. For those keeping score, I am - apparently - allergic to all sorts of flame grass, as I had the same kind of breakout as I did last year when I planted another variety in the back yard.

I hope to have some photos to share, soon.

Okay. And then I did a little running around with Darci. And Christopher made really good pork chops for dinner which we ate while watching one of the "Mrs. Bradley Mysteries" from PBS (with Diana Rigg as the notorious leading lady). It was a wonderful day, all 'round.

I'd tell you more but, for now, I have to edit.

How was your weekend?

Friday, May 14, 2010


I feel it's only right, after griping about the rainy weather, lately, that I celebrate the fact that the sun came out today. The temperature actually got up to almost 70. It's amazing.

At almost 9:30 this evening, we still have the door open and the breeze coming in from outside. The sunset was visible for the first time in ages. It was amazing.

The yard looks incredible, though, I must admit. All of the rain, followed by the sun, has greened everything up and nothing is drooping any more. Well, except for the parts of the willow which are supposed to be kind of droopy.

I'm sure that soon enough I'll be complaining about how hot and dry it is. After all, I'm just as fickle about the weather as the weather is about me. But, for now, I'm happy to be happy.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I looked outside this morning while I was getting ready, and realized that absolutely everything in the back yard was looking waterlogged. Oh, sure, the grass is amazingly green, and the back planting beds are looking lush, but the leaves of the sand cherry just outside the bathroom window were curled up and drooping.

I walked around the yard on my way out the door.

It wasn't just the sand cherry near the house that was drooping. Everything in the yard (except for the grass, of course), was kind of sagging. The sand cherry at the back of the yard looked like it had had a really bad week at work. The clematises, which had been shooting skyward at about 4 inches per day for the past month, seemed to have lost their will to climb. The day lilies were drooping as if it were mid-August. The willow tree - which had been doing so well this year - seemed to have lost its whimsicality.

And the lilac. The poor little lilac all alone in the back corner of the yard. Well, it looked like someone had tied sand bags to all of its branches. The few bunches of flowers it has were pointing downward under the weight of the water.

Obviously, it's not just me feeling put upon by the past week of cloudy, cool, rainy days.

I know that the rainy days are important. After all, without these days, there'd be no way that any of these plants would survive the hot, dry, days of summer.

But I gotta say that if we don't get some sun in the immediate future that lilac in the back yard is going to look perky compared to me.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Worst of Both Worlds

I'm going to whine tonight. But it'll be short, so you don't have to worry about getting mired in it.

Here's the thing: My sinuses are going crazy today. They're going crazy in an "it's spring and the world is in flux" sort of way. That would be do-able (for the most part), if it at least felt like spring.

Unfortunately, although we had a warm April and a few nice days in May, in the past week we've barely made it out of the 50s. The average temps this time of year are supposed to be in the 60s. And, worse yet, it's been rainy all week.

So I've got my spring allergies, but it feels like mid-to-late fall. What's up with that?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Plight of the Polar Bears

When I lived in Baltimore, I bought myself some incredibly comfortable pajama bottoms from Old Navy. They are navy blue with (obviously) polar bears on them. Some are solo, some are paired, some are on ice floes.

Over the past 6 years or so, they've become my "go-to" pajama bottoms, and although I've had other pajamas since I got them, they've always been my favorites. They've gone on vacations with me. They've been worn out to get the newspaper. They've kept me warm when I was sick and/or unemployed.

Once upon a time in Baltimore, a friend of mine (who, as usual, shall remain nameless because I haven't asked her if I can name her) and I had a movie night for which we decided to be comfortable. So she brought her own pj's and we found out that we had matching polar bear pj's. It was a surprise, and kind of fun, to find that we matched.

When she came to visit me out here in Minnesota, she brought along her polar bears, and we bought Christopher a pair of penguin pajamas so that he could coordinate with us. We had a polar pajama party, of sorts, although not all from the same pole. And, well, we never actually all slept over together. (This was before Christopher and I were in the same house.)

I went to put on those pajama bottoms last night, and - as I was pulling them up - I felt something just below the waistband. I looked down and noticed that the area where I had my hand (and which is where I basically had been pulling up my pj's every time I put them on), had worn down to threadbare. There was even the start of a hole there.

My polar bears may be on their way out. Which makes me sad.


Okay. I know that my pajamas aren't all that important in the grand scheme of what is happening to the real polar bears who are losing habitat and numbers incredibly rapidly. If you'd like to help out the polar bears (the real ones, not my pajamas), you can look into helping them at the World Wildlife Fund website.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Green Screen Living

I just saw a TV commercial where I'm pretty sure the people in it were nowhere near each other. The editors (or compositors, or whoever) did a really decent job, but there was a moment when they were supposed to be looking at each other and they very obviously weren't.

Earlier today, I was looking at some promo pictures for one of the "weekly wrap-up" talk-show-type shows, and noticed that everything they do is in front of a green screen. Not that I'm really surprised by that, but it was just kind of strange to see everyone standing in a big green room. After all, when you watch the show, they seem to be in a basic sound studio. And, really, how much more expensive is a basic set when compared to all of that green fabric?

Would that little bit of reality really throw them off so much that they have to do it all in a virtual world? Or is there some deeper meaning in it all - the infinitely-reflecting mirror showing that the show reviewing the reality shows is also not real?

And then, of course, at the heart of it all is the most pressing question of all:

Why green?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Survived the Plant Sale

I didn't want any of you to think that I might have died after working at the Plant Sale on Friday night. Yes, it was rainy. Yes, the dappled willows (the first thing I had to "tidy" in my volunteer job) dumped water all over me and down my back. Yes, it was chilly and nasty, and I am still feeling like I might be coming down with a cold.

But, overall, it was an okay evening. I just wandered around the tree/shrub area outside of the grandstand and, literally, tidied them all up. I put them in rows so that the inventory people coming in later would have an easy time counting them. I even did it well enough that "my team" got sent home early. Which means that I wasn't out and about when it snowed later in the night.

I kind of wonder how all of the plants did the past couple of nights. After all, last night there were freeze warnings in the area. I'm very glad that we haven't put plants in our planters, yet. Although... The herbs I bought last weekend are getting a little tired looking, since they've been living on the kitchen counter for the past week. So, well, at least I survived the Plant Sale - I just hope my plants will survive the weather.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

If It's May, There Must Be Snow

Snow is predicted for tomorrow evening. We had no snow during the entire month of March for the first time in recorded meteorological history, but it is now predicted for tomorrow.

I might not entirely care about that most Friday evenings, but tomorrow night I'm going to be volunteering at the Friends' School of Minnesota Annual Plant Sale. I did this last year, too, because if you volunteer at the sale, you get a pass for the pre-sale the night before. And, over time, the pre-sale has gotten so popular that a number of things actually sell out before the sale ever officially starts.

Now, I'm not a big enough gardener - or shopper - to really want to elbow my way through either the regular sale or the pre-sale, so last year and this year I've given my pre-sale pass to Christopher's mom as her Mother's Day gift. This year I admit that I did send a very small shopping list of my own along, but even that isn't for me - it's for a few things I'm going to send to my own mother.

But, I've digressed. I was talking about the importance of tomorrow's weather.

You see, last year when I volunteered, I volunteered for a job during the week before the sale, helping to put things together inside the area under the grandstand at the State Fairgrounds. It was kind of warm outside, although it was cooler inside until we got to working.

This year, though, I needed to work around my work schedule (last year, that wasn't such a big deal with my part-time schedule). As I searched for non-work-hour jobs, I came across a great job that sounded easy and quick: straightening up the unsold trees, shrubs, and roses on Friday evening. An outdoor job seemed like a great way to stay out of the craziness and noise of the sale, and seemed to be the perfect way to wind down after the workweek.

Then the weather changed. And I found out that tomorrow's high is predicted to be in the upper 40s (average highs are in the upper 60s), with rain all day, switching over to wet snow before all is said and done. Which means that tomorrow evening I'll be spending 4 hours standing outside in the rain and chill so that I can tidy the shrubbery. (And, yes, I suspect that some of you just read that last word in a Monty Python voice.)

So... Why not come warm me up tomorrow evening at the State Fairgrounds? You can shop for your garden plants. You can make a donation to a relatively-worthy cause. And you can give me a reason to feel that I didn't spend the entire evening simply trying to come down with pneumonia.

Just remember to dress for the May snows.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Where's The Cake?

Today, at work, as part of one of those kind of "forced jollity" events known as the staff birthday, there was an Ice Cream Cake served.

I watched it being cut and thought it looked interesting. There was chocolate ice cream on the bottom, then white cake, then white frosting. It had even been out of the freezer long enough so that the ice cream was "cut-able" as were the cake and frosting. It was, as far as I could tell, actually a decent birthday celebration for an office.

But, here's the thing: On top of the chocolate ice cream was a layer of "fudge" - actually a layer of kind of strangely crunchy darker chocolate - and then the frosting. Of course, that's if you can call the stuff frosting. It was a variation on a whipped cream frosting that was just a little too sweet.

So, are you following me on the "cake" side of things? Yep. That's right. There was no cake in the "cake." What we had was actually a badly-decorated frosted slab of chocolate ice cream. And, while I'm a fan of ice cream sundaes (in essence ice cream with whipped cream and toppings), the "cake" wasn't nearly as tasty as most sundaes.

Which, I guess, takes us right back to my contention that office birthday celebrations always leave something to be desired. Good to know some things never change.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Rock in an Odd Place

I don't know that you'll remember my lackluster response to "Broadway Rocks!" at the Minnesota Orchestra last fall (it was a really short post, so if you want to refresh your memory, it's here), but I had some vague fear that the concert Christopher and I went to on Friday night would be equally as bland. I'm happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised.

The concert in question was the season finale concert for the Valley Chamber Chorale in Stillwater, and it was called "Rock the Courthouse - A festive celebration of 35 years in song." You see, while about half of their concerts each year are held in the Trinity Lutheran Church in Stillwater, the others are held upstairs in the Historic Courthouse. The different venues lend themselves to different concert styles, but the one thing that is a constant is the level of quality of the performers. This concert was no different.

The singers worked their way through 5 sets of songs, accompanied by two pianists (one on an electric keyboard), a cellist, a guitarist with 4 different guitars and a mandolin, and a percussionist. There were what would be considered "classical" pieces, there was some jazz, and - yes - there was some rock.

What truly made the difference between this concert and the one last fall is that this one didn't really try to make us think it was something it wasn't. The Chorale stretches in some fairly odd directions at times. Sometimes they hit, sometimes they miss. But I have to say that, this time, they really put on a great concert.

My only concern is that there are fairly few people under the age of 50 in the audience for their concerts. Hopefully something with that will change in the near future, because it would be sad if the VCC didn't have a fair shot at the next 35 years.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Wouldn't They Always Win?

Happily, while I was driving home from work, yesterday (which I was also very happy about, coincidentally), I was reminded of one of the blog post topics I had forgotten on Thursday. Of course, I was busy last night at a concert (which I'll probably end up blogging about tomorrow), but I was able to hold on to that first topic long enough to remember it for today.

I passed a sign for a "Psychic Fair" on the way home.

Nope. Not kidding.

I'm sure it's a very interesting event with serious people doing their psychic things. And I'm all for having my palms read, or my cards read, and I read my horoscope a decent amount. But in my mind's eye (oooohhh... that sounds psychic, right there, doesn't it!?) I imagined this fair to be held at an elementary school as a fundraiser. That's where the problem comes in.

I mean... Come on... What chance would some little kid have of winning the stuffed bear if the person next to him always knew which rubber ducky in the kiddie pool had the "X" under it?

Of course, I didn't see any signs of carnival rides - which I always assume there will be at a fair. I'm kind of wondering if you have to buy a ticket and then have the psychics tell you what a wonderful time you'd be having if only you could see what they were seeing.

Sadly, since the fair only lasted until today, I'll never know what it was like.

But, of course, the organizers already knew that.