Asphalt Territory

ducksI was heading back home from Morrie’s Imports in the claustrophobic Pontiac loaner car, after leaving the Saab, once again, for another repair job. I signaled my turnoff toward the Dunwoody-Hennepin exit when I spotted the mother mallard duck and her ten ducklings. They were just going about their business, making their way across the busy highway. She was swiftly leading them past the idling car in the next lane toward the next speeding lane of cars and the median, to get to the other side of the highway. I looked around and saw that everyone had their hands in the air, wondering what she was going to do once she realized that the little ones wouldn’t be able to hoist themselves up over the concrete median to the other two speeding lanes. To my horror, I visualized squashed little ducklings all over the buzzing road. I exited the highway, realizing that their fate was out of my control. Later, at the end of the workday, I picked up the car, now purring like a kitten. I conned myself into thinking that this was the end of all of the major repairs. As I approached the turnoff toward the Dunwoody-Hennepin exit, I slowed down to see if there was any evidence of duck carnage. I was pleased to see clean, black asphalt, knowing that someone cared enough to send the mother duck and her ducklings to safety.

Beautiful Wing, Great Party

collage_1Ernesto and I went to a fabulous party last night at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to celebrate the new wing, designed by Michael Graves. You know, the guy who also designed those clumsy kitchen utensils sold at Target. On the outside, the new building looks a bit like a mausoleum, but the inside has a three-story atrium with beautiful wood railings, marble tiles, galleries, and a grand entertainment room on the top floor.

edqlbstartribThe decor for last nights party was stylized, white cutout flower motifs in vases, and the same motif replicated on the walls as multi-colored light displays. There was a great cuban band that played the entire time, an open bar, and plenty of people watching. The flow of people around the railings reminded me of the roundabouts on Reforma in Mexico City. An hour into the cocktail hour, men in tuxes and women in flowing gowns blended into the crowd after attending the dinner. We ended up in the Star Tribune website photo gallery.

The new galleries had mostly decorative arts, including art deco and art nouveau vases, a four foot high glass disc housing a radio, and an impressive silver 1936 Tatra T87 sedan.

Whirlin’ the art parties

jimedqlbWe went to a fun party last night at the Tyler Street studios. It was great seeing all of the studios, completely liveable with bathrooms and lofts. I remember the parties we had at the Colonial and all the many hours spent painting, looking and contemplating the next series. Jim F. has a studio there too, a gigantic one full of carpentry tools and tables, and lots of wooden walls, random antiques, books and lp collections…oh, and a washer and dryer. It’s pretty tempting thinking about getting a studio again. I know what I would show and I would be excited about starting a new series of paintings. Ernesto and I went to the Northrup King building today for the last day of Art-A-Whirl. The third floor had more fine art than commercial art. But I can see the big commercial takeover already in the works. The architectural firms, photo studios, and art “stores” have moved in, pulled out their talons, and soon they will push out the artists.

Remembering Pooper

pooper_6Up until the last day, Pooper was trying to go about her usual routine. She still made her way to and from the kitchen, jumped up on the launching pad toward her sheepskin on the bed, and greeted us at the door. In a matter of a few hours, though, she took a turn for the worse. She walked toward the kitchen and I giddily assumed that she was hungry. She stumbled toward me and, as I slowly lifted her up, I noticed a pool of clear urine filling a circle on the floor. I brought her to the bathroom and she immediately crawled under the tub. I peered in and saw her glowing, green eyes, and tried to coerce her to drink some tuna water. She took a few sips and shrunk back to her position against the wall. I managed to pull her out and set up her bed in the bathroom, petting her until Ernesto came home.

We gave her the usual 100cc subcutaneous fluids as she laid even more slumped over Ernesto’s knee. Maybe she would miraculously snap out of it? Could it be dehydration and we just needed to give her fluids twice per day? Could she be constipated and that’s why she was walking funny? We fed her again and she ravenously ate nearly the whole serving; a small chance of recovering? I had planned to meet my dad at 5:30 and the door alarm sounded. Earlier in the day, I had had a premonition that something was happening with Pooper, since the last time my dad was over, we took Pooper to the vet. All blotchy-faced and teary-eyed, I decided not to cancel and thought it would be good to get out for a few hours. When I returned, Pooper was in her bed, now twitching and struggling to move around. Not too much time had passed when Ernesto picked her up and tested the strength in her legs. It was as if she were paralyzed, unable to bear the weight of her own body. At that point, we knew it was inevitable that she wasn’t going to get better. We decided to bring her to the emergency vet to “let her go”. I will always remember the many years we had together, nearly half of my life and all of hers. She was almost 22!

Borrowed Time for Pooper

pooper_4I think we saved Pooper’s life last week by bringing her to the emergency vet. She was feather light and as limp as a rag doll. She was diagnosed with late stage kidney disease, spent the entire weekend receiving IV fluids, meds, and good care. Now I understand the emotional rollercoaster of caring for a chronically ill feline. I’m so glad we decided to get treatment instead of letting her go. She’s almost back to her old self again. It’s not so easy for her to have the subcutaneous fluids every day, but she most likely feels better. I found a really great website that specifically addresses feline kidney failure. Aside from the comic sans font, it has very good information. There really is life after “crashing“.

Playa Fun


I miss the warm, yellow light of the tropics. It’s odd coming back to gray and white. Playa del Carmen was, as usual, a lot of fun.

The days started with a run on the beach toward the point by the small, hurricane damaged palapa cabanas. We were rewarded at the end of the run by diving into the crashing waves. We had breakfast at our hotel, the Shangri La Caribe, a great hotel with double decker Mayan-German style palapas complete with balconies, colorful hammocks, and mosaic-tiled bathrooms. The rest of the day, while the sun was high, was devoted to relaxing and walking on the beach, taking a dip in the ocean, ceviche and beer.

babesPlaya nights are all about walking up and down Avenida La Quinta, people watching, perusing all of the quaint shops and boutiques filled with Mexican artifacts, stopping off for a beer or two with quesadillas, and finally deciding where to go for dinner. We went to our old favorites like Babes Noodle Bar, Media Luna, Ristorante Da Bruno, and the excellent Glass Bar, which is part of the Mosquito Blue hotel. There’s a lot more photos here.

Assisted Cuisine: Mongolian style

khanmongolian_4I went to an amusing place for lunch today. As we walked into Khan’s Mongolian Barbecue, I was drawn by the four chefs, flipping piles of noodles atop steaming, giant hot plates. We were seated, ordered a round of hot tea, and immediately headed for the pre-stir-fry buffet. I started with the large, plastic bowl, moved past the red meats and pork and began creating my mountain of egg noodles. The raw, baby shrimp came next, followed by seasoned tofu, a mélange of raw vegetables, and a sprig of cilantro. The final part consisted of ladeling ginger water, chili sauce, and sesame oil. I was now ready to present my bowl to the chefs at the giant hot plates. I was taken aback by the sound of the gong and honorable cheers from the chefs as one man contributed to the tip jar. “Peanuts?” the chef chimed in. I nodded affirmatively. A few short minutes went by and the steaming plate was in my hands. We were rewarded at the table with a simple appetizer and hot tea. As we sat down, the lines swelled at the front door. I wondered if they, too, anticipated the next steps as they passed the steaming hotplates.

Pre Hallow’s Eve Festing

6a00d8341f7e1253ef00e54f44d7d98833-800wiErnesto and I headed to uptown early this afternoon to throw together a costume for tonight. It was a beautiful, warm fall day. We stopped by Ragstock to join the other last-minute procrastinators. After combing through the usual doctor’s scrubs, plastic dresses, and stained kimonos, we decided to head toward Venus, where I got my slinky silver dress last year. Ernesto gave me a great idea to be some kind of bird, so I bought several black and peach-colored, feather boas.

We walked home and, after a brief lunch, headed downtown to Target to buy fake mice for Ernesto’s zombie costume. His costume was a grander version of another mouse infestation costume of years’ past. We made it home again and I started in on making the bird beak / combination head. I tried on the black outfit and a number of feather variations, in between peeks at The Shining (probably the fifth time I’ve seen it!). I took a little rest since it wasn’t quite time to head out.

My costume turned out to be something along the lines of a raven, the Story of “O”, and a secret society ala Eyes Wide Shut. We went to the Local first, where a lot of people were dressed up, possibly a private party? After a beer, we headed toward the Saloon. Surprisingly, not that many people were dressed up, only a lot of people wearing white so that they would glow under the black lights. We thought that maybe we’d check out the 90’s since we hadn’t been there for years. There was a $5 dollar cover charge, and, for what? Maybe for the drag show? It was really strange when we entered because there weren’t any lights except for a random white flicker. We went upstairs to see the drag show. The school girl and 70’s polyester queen were the main highlights, both showered with dollar bills and kisses from their admirers. This place has changed for the worst. It just seemed like a place where lonely people hang out and stare at each other. We left after, say, ten minutes?

The street scene was, to say the least, very entertaining. I’ve never seen so many characters come alive! Even the cops were willing to pose for a photo with another “fellow officer”, a woman clad in a tight, blue collar ensemble with a fake badge. People were meandering into clubs left and right, and spilling out onto the street. Perhaps the idea of being someone else with the aid of liquid encouragement brought people to a higher level of reality.

Ecuadorian Sushi

origami2After an hour or so of figuring out where we were going to go out to eat, Ernesto and I finally decided to risk getting a table, or not, at Origami. We went to the second level bar for a couple of beers. Time just seemed to drag, and everyone around us seemed to be immediately summoned by their buzzing “table ready” devices. Hopefully we were next.

I began to salivate when our host drew us toward the sushi bar. We were all smiles, ordering warm and cold sake. Our sushi chef cordially introduced himself and coerced us to order only when we were ready. The other sushi chefs were gleefully bantering back and forth with the other patrons, talking about Japanese sushi rice versus Uncle Ben’s “Minute Rice”, a great difference in food culture, to say the least. We scanned the menu, feeling somewhat stifled by the Japanese names for raw fish. I was so used to other sushi bars that actually had the picture of each type of sushi. The obvious choice was the caterpillar, a sushi roll with salmon and sliced avocados. The other orders came easy since we relied on very good recommendations by our sushi chef.

By the time we delved into our spicy Special roll, we had discovered that our sushi chef was saying a few words in Spanish to the other chefs. He just looked Peruvian to me, not Japanese. Turns out he’s from Ecuador! So, we ended up speaking Spanish with our Ecuadorian sushi chef. That just goes to show you that you don’t have to be Japanese to make good sushi. On our way out, we said our arigatos and muchas gracias.

Peruvian flavor in Minnesota

alpacaphotoMy mom kept saying that I had to see these incredible animals, the alpacas. She had, of course, an ulterior motive to purchase an alpaca cape, since this would be her second visit. So, as soon as I realized the photo opportunities, I agreed to go with her and my brother to visit the llamas, or rather alpacas, in Prior Lake. I never thought I would see these animals outside of, say, the Shrine circus or some traveling band of gitanos. The Pure Country alpacas live on the hill, nestled behind a cozy wooden, suburban home. These peaceful animals didn’t seem to make a peep. They came in white, brown, gray, and black, with tousled hair tufts on their heads, long graceful necks, standing on their long legs and high-heeled hooves. Seeing these mystical creatures was very surreal, as if they suddenly appeared under the bright sun.