Friday, October 26, 2012

The Gift Tree - It's Tyleresque

Mark your calendars for the early December performances of The Gift Tree, a new original work by Tyler Olsen, music by Eric Barnum.  For the first time, all three of us (Maria, John, and I ) will not be in the play; it’s only John and I this time.  

We auditioned Tuesday night, and were excited to both receive “call-backs” for Wednesday night.  The call-backs consisted of 2 and ½ hours of reading various parts in small groups, and some singing ensemble and solo.  I had to sing two solos myself – not my strongest suit.  That was a first for me.    

The play is what our family calls Tyleresque – or Tyler-like – named after the playwright.  Tyleresque means it’s a bit zany, off-the-wall, and full of opportunities for really stretching your character.  It includes some physical comedy, a few gross jokes – yet has a touching story line – a good message, without being preachy.

Now we await word on casting - cross your fingers!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Maria and the Bean

I took very few pictures in Chicago.  The kids took a ton - but have yet to upload and share.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Devil is in the Details

Maria captured this photo of me getting in close with Georges Seurat's A Sunday on La Grand Jatte, at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Monday, October 08, 2012


After Saturday night's frost, with temps in the mid 20s, we decided it was harvest time yesterday.  Shana and John (the younger) gathered up dozens of squash (more are stored in the garage) and a number of green tomatoes.  All of the squash are "volunteers".  We didn't plant any.   They rode along in the compost we spread this spring.  Apparently the seeds from all the squash provided  by our CSA in 2011 lived on!

Oh - I "harvested" the bananas early Saturday morning at Rainbow.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Pike Island

Following up on our recent Dakota Conflict trip, last Sunday, John and I visited Pike Island at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers.

There's a nice sandy point where the two rivers come together:  the Minnesota on the right (south); the Mississippi on the left (north).  To orient things a bit, the bridge off in the distance is the 35E bridge over the Mississippi.

It was on (or near) Pike Island, directly below Ft. Snelling, that some 1600 Dakota men, women, and children were imprisoned following the war.  I say "on or near" the island because the historical record is a bit confusing.

Many refer to the island itself as the site of the internment camp - or concentration camp.  But after viewing the Fort and its interpretive signs, I think the actual site of the camp was up near the Fort itself.  This page on Minnesota Historical Society web site refers to the camp as being "below" the fort.

The Mississippi River - I believe that's the Crosby Farm Regional  Park.

Pike Island itself is rather large - and this is the first time I've hiked around the "long" trail that circles the island.  Some sources say the path is 4 miles, but most put the distance at a convenient 5 km.  Either way, the hike around the island along with the up/down to the Fort made for quite a nice walk.

We had a great time exploring the river bank, enjoying one of the last days of "summer".

John discovered this hear-shaped rock along the river's beach and traced the larger heart with a stick, before we both snapped a few photos.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Road Trip - Day 2

When you end a post with the line, "More to come in Day 2" you have committed yourself.

Sunday dawned cool and sunny in New Ulm.  We had breakfast at the Ulmer Cafe.  It was a fine dining experience, but I don't believe it measured up to the Loon's Nest in Vergas - but both John and I are biased towards the Loon's Nest. 

What test did it fail you make ask?  The Ulmer makes French Toast with regular thin sliced white bread.  The Loon's Nest uses that thick sliced "Texas Toast" style white bread.  Need I say more?

We couldn't leave New Ulm without seeing Hermann (aka Arminius) the German.  I admit to knowing nothing of Hermann before visiting the monument.  For instance I didn't realize Hermann was a real, historic figure.

Thank goodness the monument was open at 10:00 on Sunday morning, giving us a chance to climb atop and observe New Ulm and the surrounding area from a commanding height.  The photo below was taken looking north towards downtown New Ulm and across the Minnesota River Valley.

After Hermann, we were off to Mankato for a Wacipi (or Pow Wow) honoring the 38 Dakota warriors who were hanged for their role in the Dakota-U.S. War.  The event was held at the Land of Memories Park along the Minnesota River.

It was John's first Pow Wow.  I had only been to one before.  We spent several hours enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells (fry bread, mmm).

After Mankato, we were off for home - but not without another stop or two.  Since our drive took us up highway 169 through St. Peter, I figured you can't start college visits too young.  So, the 12 year old John  and I took a little side trip around Gustavus.  Then we stopped at a nice coffee shop - River Rock Coffee.

Outside St. Peter we encountered our final destination in our historical weekend - the site of the Traverse des Sioux.  The site was the primary  crossing for Dakota and early traders.  It was once a trading post, and the location where the Dakota and whites entered into a treaty in 1851. 

The visitors' center was closing - it was 4:00 p.m. - but we hiked down to the river which was very low, allowing for some exploring along the dried mud shoreline.

We are already talking about possible themes/locations for the next road trip.