Saturday, September 30, 2006

The hits keep on coming

More concerts this week: on Tuesday, Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez in Louisville, Kentucky. This was the first time I've gotten to see them, despite the fact that their CDs have rarely left my stereo in the year plus since I first heard them. Both of them have recently released solo albums (both excellent, natch) from which they played quite a few songs. And they played some of their duet songs too. And John Platania was there doing his inimitable thing. It was a memorable night, and I got Chip, Carrie, and John to sign my copy of one of their albums.

On Wednesday, Hem in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They played a lot of stuff from their great new album, Funnel Cloud. It was Daniela's first time seeing them, and GigglyGirl's first time hearing or seeing them. I think that GigglyGirl is one of the many new fans Hem made at the show.

Took a couple of quick video clips at the Chip and Carrie show....(hope these work!) They are snippets of two of the most famous songs Chip has written (though not necessarily the best): "Wild Thing" and "Angel of the Morning."

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Hardest Workin' Man in Show Business

Here's a short video clip (courtesy of my snazzy cell phone) from the James Brown concert we went to last week-- the light was too low for you to be able to see the Godfather himself (in his shiny red outfit), but you can certainly hear him.... Hope the video works-- my previous source for uploading videos is on the fritz, so this is a new site I'm using..

Indiana Football

Went to my first IU football game today. I wasn't sure I was going to go earlier in the day, since it was raining and the forecast said it was only going to get worse (continued rain + violent storms). But by about 3:00 (game time was 3:30) it didn't look so bad, and I decided to give it a go.

As it happened, it rained a bit right when I got to the stadium (at about 3:45) but stopped and never rained again for the duration of the game (and as of 11:00pm, for the rest of the day).

IU was playing the University of Connecticut Huskies, so (since I was born and raised in Connecticut) I was routing for the visitors.

It was a rather ugly game-- in the 1st quarter, which lasted for AN HOUR, Indiana had the most yards gained: 25. UConn gained 18. There was 1 first down (for IU).

It got a little better after that-- in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, both teams scored and the time went by faster.

But the final score was UConn 14, IU 7, and of those 21 total points, only 7 were actually scored by an offense (UConn; the other UConn touchdown was on an interception return, and IU's only score was on a kickoff return, 87 yards).

We have plans to attend an IU basketball game later this year-- here's hoping it's more exciting.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Trip to the Catskills (New York)

Last weekend we traveled to New York state for the wedding of our friends Jen and Des. Unfortunately my camera's batteries died just before the actual ceremony started, so we didn't get many pictures of the wedding itself.

We flew into Albany the day before the wedding, and stayed that night in Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cooperstown is in the middle of nowhere, in a beautiful part of New York. It's on the shores of Lake Otsego, one of the Finger Lakes (so called because they're long and narrow).

Of course we had to visit the Hall of Fame itself, Eric's second time there and Daniela's first.

It's a must-see for any baseball fan. Here I am with one of my baseball heroes, Frank Robinson, current manager of my Washington Nationals and one of baseball's greatest hitters.

We also visited the Ommegang Brewery, a must-see for any Belgian beer fan. Ommegang brews wonderful Belgian style beers and was recently bought out by Duvel, an actual Belgian brewery. The founders of Ommegang made a lot of money as Belgian beer importers for many years, so when they started their own brewery, they did it right, with a gorgeous building modelled on Belgian farmhouses and top of the line custom-made equipment. The beer is available just about everywhere now... I recommend trying the one called simply Ommegang. It's an amber colored Belgian abbey ale, and it's great with just about any kind of food.

Then we drove to Big Indian, where the wedding was. It was a lovely drive, through lots of cute little towns, on a remarkably picturesque day.

And the wedding was, as Ingrid has said, beautiful. Beautiful weather, beautiful ceremony (performed by our friend Shodo, a Buddhist priest), beautiful location (right next to the stream pictured below), Jen and Des both looked great (though you'll have to read Ingrid's blog to see a picture of them), and we had a good time meeting some new people.

Here's Shodo talking to Daniela just before the ceremony. We especially liked the big mossy log you can see here, which was just behind the happy couple during the ceremony.

More house pictures

So it's a bit less than 2 weeks till the house is officially ours... of course, it will then be a bit more than 3 months till we actually move in.

But anyway-- we noticed that the listing is no longer available online (that's good! it's OURS!), so it's a good thing that I downloaded all the online photos a while ago. I thought I'd post them here, just in case anyone wants more than the lovely photos that D posted earlier.

Here's the lovely dining room (yep, it does help if the people who currently occupy a house have good taste-- we saw several houses where this was emphatically NOT the case):

And this is the living room, with the big window looking out onto the porch and towards the street. On the right hand side, you can see the pocket door, a lovely Victorian feature.

And here's another picture of the stairs, one of the most charming features of the house. Note the curvy bannister in the upper left of the picture-- as best we can figure, all this woodwork is original (1898).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Journey to the State Fair

While in St. Paul we also went to the Minnesota State Fair. Cos you just gotta go to the country's second largest state fair! And we'd heard so much about it! Getting there was a bit of a journey. Cos, you know when 170,053 people want to go to any one place, it's gonna be hard to park your car. Roberto, Eric, Jenny, and Mark and I had planned to park in a satellite parking lot and take the bus to the fair. But the lots we tried were already full. So Mark thought we'd try to park near Midway Stadium, where the St. Paul Saints play. We found a free! spot along the road and Mark promised us it would be about a four block walk to the fair. Well, what he didn't say was that the walk was along a railroad!

Then go through a kind of sketchy, possibly hobo-occupied, underbrushy and overgrown area.

The boys, channeling Stand By Me, thought it was a great time. Jenny and I, remembering what actually happened in that movie (near miss with a train, leeches, finding a dead body), were a bit more worried. But I didn't get really scared until about 30 seconds after we emerged to the other side when we heard a train whistle and the train go rushing by where we had been just moments before. I believe I clutched someone in surprise. Somehow, I didn't really believe that a train would be going on those tracks. (duh, Daniela, what are train-tracks FOR otherwise?)

But, to give credit where it is due (to Mark!*) , we were right across the street from the State Fair. Now to contend with all of those people I mentioned before...

We ate a lot of food.

Personally, I ate french fries, melted cheese on bread with marinara sauce, a bite of Eric's dog on a stick, popcorn, fried cheese curds, and several of Sweet Martha's chocolate chip cookies. I really wanted some hot dish on a stick

(which is a Minnesota thing, you just would't understand!), but I was way too full already!!!!

We saw Garrison Keeler do his Prairie Home Companion show at the grandstand. The Del McCoury Band were special guests and they stole the show, as far as I am concerned! And Eric did not find Garrison Keeler as annoying as he thought he would. We even ran into a former Latin teacher colleague of Eric's from when he taught in DC! She's from the Twin Cities. But still, did I mention there were 170,053 people there?!

Eric, Roberto, and I rode one of the rides. I looooovvvve carnival rides!

Finally, we did manage to see a few farm animals (most people would say that's the whole POINT of the State Fair. But I'd argue it's all about the food! obviously.). But due to the late hour, we didn't really see that many animals and most of them were eating and considered it rude that we wanted to photograph them (no one looks attractive eating, after all!)

That's the end!

*By the way, all readers from the Twin Cities: if you are in need of a new or used CD or vinyl, go to Mark's record store, Treehouse Records at 2557 Lyndale Ave S (at 26th St) in Minneapolis. It is a most excellent place.

Spending time with Jack

On Saturday Eric and I hung out with my brother Roberto and his little boy, Jack. Roberto and Eric put together a new baby einstein activity, sit in and move it around thing, which Jack just loved. His favorite part was the orange star which he liked to put in his mouth. Even when he was playing with something else (or posing for the camera- he loves the camera!), he still kept one hand on the star, making sure it didn't get away or something! Too cute. Jack is a really sweet baby (8-mos. old) and did anything we wanted him to do, like going for a walk in his stroller, playing in the baby einstein, playing with various stuffed animals, practicing rolling over and trying to crawl, jumping up and down on Tia Daniela's lap (he has VERY strong legs), sitting on Tio Eric's lap, etc. etc. We are looking forward to spending more time with him!

Houston, We Have a House

We recently went to St. Paul to look for houses. We didn't really expect to find a house but there are sooooo many houses for sale that after two solid days of looking, we decided to go with the third house we saw, pictured below. It met all our major requirements (character and charm, built between 1880 and 1950, backyard, in a diverse neighborhood, 3+ bedrooms, more than one bathroom). We made an offer, which was accepted (only a couple of nerve-wracking hours did we wait to hear). YIPPEE!!!

And, from across the street:

The house was built in 1889 and features lots of great original details, like this beautiful staircase.

The house is in the neighborhood of Dayton's Bluff, which on the east side of downtown St. Paul, and is 1/2 of a mile from Indian Mounds Park (photo below), which is along the Mississippi River. Dog walking will commence!