Whoa! It was a long, beautiful, and active weekend. As befits such a fun-packed three days, this will be a long recap post. Read at your leisure....taking a break if necessary, eating a nice sandwich, and returning as the mood strikes you.
- - -Friday morning:
The Birdus made a vehicle switch (much easier to just switch vehicles than to uninstall and reinstall the car seat twice) with my mother-in-law at a gas station in rural Minnesota. The Bundle went with Grammy for the night because we had plans!
- - -Friday night:
On the glowing recommendation of my co-worker Chris, The Birdus and I went to Sea Salt Eatery
for dinner. Sea Salt is located in Minnehaha Park
just a few short steps away from Minnehaha Falls
- the waterfall made famous by Longfellow
’s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha
. (The restaurant is also a stones throw from The Retreagle’s favorite swimming hole – the Minnehaha off-leash dog park
.) There was a decent line when we arrived but we were greeted by a young man very eager to provide us with beers while we waited. Our Summits
were empty by the time we reached the counter to order – perfect timing. Fresh seafood is what this place does and The Birdus and I indulged in a crab cake, tilapia tacos, and a shrimp cocktail. The shrimp were shell-on so the cocktail was a bit of work and a few were a tad gritty but their cocktail sauce (more like a paste) is out of sight. The tacos were great (we put the cole slaw right on the tacos) and The Birdus declared the crab cake the best she had ever had – no small praise. We also had half a dozen oysters on the half shell. This was the highlight of the meal for me – I’ve been craving oysters ever since my trip to Boston
– and I split the plate between Wash. State and huge California ‘sters. I was very proud of The Birdus for trying a couple. A great overall experience. The weather was perfect for outside dining and The Birdus was looking radiant. I should point out that Sea Salt Eatery was just named Best Seafood Restaurant
in the Twin Cities by the City Pages
staff. I think they got this one right.
Next, we were off to the Joseph Arthur
show at yet another “Best of the Twin Cities
” honoree– The Varsity Theater
Again, I think the City Pages nailed it
. The Varsity is a great venue - lots of space, terrific decor and atmosphere, friendly and professional staff, good sound, and in a fun part of town. Despite some monitor problems for both bands (Joseph kicked one over in frustration) it was a great concert.Stars of Track and Field
from Portland, OR were the opener and they started just after we arrived, right around 9pm. They’re a 3-piece dream rock outfit and The Birdus and I both enjoyed their set. “Expansive” is the word I choose to describe their music. And maybe “layered”.Joseph Arthur and the Lonely Astronauts
were as great live as I thought they would be. For my money, Joseph Arthur owns one of the best and most distinctive voices in rock n'roll currently. In concert, he gives off a very Ziggy Stardust
era David Bowie
vibe. Sort of a space age folk troubadour. For the opening number ("Baby's Got A New Friend") he came out and plunked down, legs crossed, in a plush armchair. Some joker in the audience shouted, "Take a seat!" It was immensely cool. You got the feeling right from the get-go that Joseph was holding court. It set the tone for the rest of the night.
The band that he has assembled, The Lonely Astronauts, features Kraig Jarret Johnson
on guitar. He's best known as a member of the super-group Golden Smog
and he wrote some of my favorite songs on the tremendous Weird Tales
album. The band also includes a mad drummer that Joseph referred to as G-Wiz. His histrionics on the last number and the resulting state of his drum kit ensured there would be no encore. How that person in the front row caught that missile of a drum stick I have no idea. The Birdus remarked on how great it is to see two women in a band (Jennifer Turner and Sibyl Buck) that aren't there as a novelty but truly rock. I liked that they switched wigs while Joseph played solo.
The Birdus and I were big fans of Joseph's Nuclear Daydream album last year
and the evening was a good mix of stuff from that album and the new one - Let's Just Be
Another highlight of the concert was the middle aged woman dancing right in front of us. She arrived with a man in a wheelchair who I took to be her husband. The emotive use of her body, seemingly inexhaustible reservoir of energy, complete disregard for the amazed onlookers, and pure love of the groove left all those around her brushing the tears of delight from their faces. I think the band may even have taken notice. If you happen to be reading this dancing lady...you alone were worth the price of admission. Boogie on and you may consider many of your best moves stolen.
- - -Saturday morning:
The next day The Birdus and I settled in for some serious yard work. We have resigned ourselves to the fact that The Retreagle’s well-traveled paths in our backyard are past the point of salvaging as lawn. We have decided to work with this reality rather than fight it. To this end, we purchased a hundred interlocking stone edgers on sale at Menards
for under a hundred bucks. The Schmewes helped transport the edgers back to The Urban Cabin in his Tacoma
. (It was the first time since the demise of Little Truck
that I had to ask for helping hauling something. * sniff * sniff *) Our plan is to edge off the areas where The Retreagle has trampled the grass and fill those paths with wood chips or mulch. Those areas are basically mud pits in wet weather and dust bowls in dry weather – both of which are not only aesthetically unpleasing but also lead to a very dirty Retreagle. The chips should help. We’ll also chip around the lilacs where The Retreagle does his best policing.
Our progress so far:
We bought and installed a pet barrier for the new vehicle, packed up The Retreagle, and headed out to 'Sconie for an overnight and a mini-birthday party for my father-in-law.
- - -Saturday afternoon and evening:
The Bundle was very happy to see us.
As I mentioned in a previous post
, Lunds and Byerly's provide a free cake for 1st birthdays but we were too late to take advantage of the offer for The Bundle's birthday party. But we weren't about to let a free cake go to waste! So we ordered one up for my father-in-law's 55th birthday. Of course, we had to make a few adjustment's to the cake:
Kudos to The Birdus for her masterful doctoring of the cake with the old pastry bag. Following a taco dinner we put The Bundle to bed and sat up drinking beers, talking, and watching playoff basketball and The Big Gay Sketch Show
- - -Sunday morning:
After a hearty breakfast, The Birdus and I went to Crex Meadows Wildlife Area
in western Wisconsin for some birding while The Bundle napped. This is a great place for viewing waterfowl and we were both excited to see several pairs of Sandhill Cranes
and a very startled Sharp-Tailed Grouse
. Now that I know how close this great resource is to my in-laws I will return as frequently as possible. One day, I'd like to reserve a blind and get up early to watch the Sharp-Tails do their courtship dance
. Maybe I'll invite the dancing lady from the concert. From what I hear, those grouse could show her a thing or two.
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