Sunday, July 17, 2016

Hello All:  Not only am I very late, but for some reason I cannot insert photos into the text.  I'll keep at it ... maybe when I upload June, it'll work.  


21 May 2016, Minneapolis MN
The month is nearly over and I haven’t written a word.  No excuses.  And also no travels so far, other than to St. Paul (and contrary to local beliefs, that is not a different country requiring a passport or visa).  Mostly I’ve been enjoying family and friends, lots of outstanding theater and opera, watching my food and beverage intake more carefully, volunteering with Friends of the Minneapolis Central Library (MCL).  A quick and dirty synopsis:

I started the month on May Day at friend Sally’s 80th birthday party.  You’ll recall Sally from Acapulco in the old days and Greece more recently.  Among her 100 or so nearest and dearest family and friends, I got to reconnect with a number of folks that I haven’t seen in years.

Friend Judi, with whom I saw “Minions” last year, and I saw “The Jungle Book.”  An incredible 3D animated re-telling of the Kipling book with some of my favorite actors/actresses voicing the animals.  The 3D was so incredibly realistic that I’m not sure it was really a movie for kids.

Chris and Tomery treated their mom/my sister Barbara and I to the best buffet luncheon I’ve had.  We went to Beacon Public House in St. Paul, a restaurant we hadn’t tried before.  i gave Barbara a platter of “curr’ cake” (Moms recipe for raisin squares); she gave me a gorgeous floral bouquet in a Mason jar, ala Mom.  And we treated Chris to supper at Shamrock’s Tavern in St. Paul for his 31st birthday.  My youngest nephew is now a 30-something.  Argh!

On 8 May, I marked the 17th anniversary of my son Peter’s death.  Friend Susan and I did our annual trip to Temple Israel to say kaddish for her mother and my son on the 9th.  I love this Jewish tradition and find it very comforting, even though my quiet recitation of the Hebrew is atrocious.  

Darryn (we trained for our first marathon in the same group) wasn’t able to attend the Minnesota Opera’s production of Stephen King’s “The Shining,”  commissioned as part of the opera company’s New Works Initiative.  He gave me his tickets, and friend Mary from my TSPC days went along.  Not sure what opera added to the story (or vice versa); they generally just sang the dialogue.  But it was interesting and fun.  And the staging was the most imaginative I’ve ever seen.  I’m glad to see the Ordway supporting new operas even though I still prefer the occasional aria or two.

Mixed Blood’s “Charm” about an etiquette class for transgender youth, and Minnesota Jewish Theater’s “Bad Jews” were both outstanding productions that I found not only well acted but especially thought provoking.  Just too bad this will arrive in your inbox after both have closed.  I wholeheartedly recommend season tickets to both to all of you.  Have attended  both for years and I haven’t seen a bad production at either.  And they always give one something to think about afterwards, regardless of your race, religion, gender etc.

MCL Friends hosted its annual staff appreciation event this week with a larger-than-anticipated.  Board secretary Bob and I had to run over to nearby Whole Foods for more refreshments.  Despite cheating and having not only cake but also frosting scrapings and cheese.  However, yesterday I got my follow up cholesterol test, and I’m well below the norm.  Hurray!  And on my weekly weight-in at the Y this morning, I hit my goal for pre-travel weight.  Double hurray!

23 May
Busy weekend.  Still organizing my two trips.  Talked to Mar about logistics when I arrive on Wednesday and her thoughts on things to do, all of which sounded perfect.  And finally caught up with Inga who’s been dealing with all the ups/downs of a house that’s for sale.  Took hanging bag of dress for wedding & suit for board meeting plus a small suitcase of Poland-bound gifts etc. over to Janet & Ed’s — things that I won’t need in DC.  Still sorting the main DC and overseas bags, then tomorrow the overseas one also goes to Janet & Ed’s.  Janet’s taking me to the airport on Wednesday morning, and she’ll pick me up on 2 June (my flight leaves DC at 6:30 am).  I’ll get to change and shower at their place, then she’ll deposit me back at MSP in time for my mid-afternoon flight to AMS.  Whew!  Even I get tired thinking of that.

Had a lovely time with Craig and his family; my sister joined us too — an early celebration of Alijah’s third birthday.  Can’t believe he’s that old, but he certainly has left the “toddler” behind and is rapidly becoming a little boy.  Always full of fun and laughter.  Jaiden did a blondish swath to the front of his hair.  I should’ve taken a photo.  Different but suits him.  He referenced our London trip next summer, so I need to stay on top of that.

26 May, Eastern Shore in Delaware
Lots of last minute get-togethers before I flew out Wednesday for Baltimore airport.  Mar picked me up and we drove toward the Eastern Shore, stopping near the Bay Bridge for my first fresh -seafood meal — crab cakes with minimal filler and crab gazpacho.  I tried the latter just for the fun of it and decided that I need to try it at home (if I can find fresh crab).

Mar and Norman live on a prong of Herring Creek, and it all reminded me of where we stayed in St. Michaels, MD, a few years ago. Lots of woods, beautiful serene water, perfect spring weather.  Two rescue dogs and two cats share the acreage and lovely big house with large deck facing the water.  I stayed in the guest cottage, a lovely efficiency apartment above the detached garage.

29 May, Bethesda MD
I was so busy seeing the Eastern Shore that I didn’t sit down to update you.  Here goes:  

Mar and I drove into Lewes one day for lunch and a bit of shopping.  It’s a cute small town, not as touristy as Rehoboth Beach where we went a few days later.  One evening we visited friends of Mar and Norman’s who live in Rehoboth Beach and have a guest house with more friends.  Since Mar and Norman are both lawyers, so are many of their friends — often from Georgetown Law or the several legal services agencies where they’ve worked in the past.  Interesting people and nice time talking about everything, especially politics.  Mar and I returned to Rehoboth Beach the next day for a walk on the boardwalk and light breakfast before setting out along Route 1 to the southern tip of the peninsula — Ocean City, MD.  

After so many years of living in Minnesota, it feels strange to drive such a short distance and be in another state.  We got up early and went to Chincoteague/Assateague, two islands on the Virginia coast.  Captain Dan who drove and led our two-hour boat tour was incredibly knowledgeable about local history.  Mar had previously toured with him on recommendation of her Rehoboth friends.  Definitely a good choice.  Assateague is a national park where the wild ponies live without any human inhabitants or unauthorized visitors.  Local lore says the ponies came to the area from a ship-wrecked Spanish galleon, and recent DNA testing has shown that to be very likely.  The ponies are owned by the local volunteer fire department.  Annually they are herded together and swim to Chincoteague for check ups with the vets and an auction where some, mostly foals, are sold to both cull the herd and raise money for their care and the fire department.  About 150 ponies can be sustained on the island.  Besides several small groups of ponies, on the tour we saw three eagles and several dolphins.  An incredible array for such a short period.

This morning Mar drove me to Inga’s, then went to visit a friend who lives nearby before returning home.  We crammed a lot into a short time because who knows when I’ll get back that way … but all that sightseeing has convinced me that I definitely need to return.

Oh, one short note for my overseas friends who think Americans are obsessed with bathrooms.  (You know who you are.)  I was amazed at the number of Eastern Shore towns that have public restrooms — clean ones that I didn’t mind using.  In my experience, you just don’t find those, at least in the Midwest where we’re forever sneaking into McDonald’s because we know the restrooms are usable.

I finished the day chowing down on kielbasa that Inga contributed to a barbecue at friends Mary and Brandon’s house.  Way too much food, all of it too delicious to pass up.

30 May, Memorial Day
Inga, Tosia and I went to David’s grave today for a visit.  The cemetery added fill and new sod where the ground had sunken.  Inga cleaned up the headstone, replaced the candles and planted some flowers.  We wondered about Beekman Winthrop, the man next door with the rabbit on his headstone.  I noted that Winthrop is a very old colonial name, and ever the teen attached to her phone, Tosia googled him.  Indeed, he was the 11th generation of direct descendants of the first governor of Massachusetts.  He was an award-winning journalist whose work writing about the murder of 18-year-old black youth in small town South Carolina led to the indictment of two white men.  The obit said his work had been made into a “highly fictionalized” book and movie by another reporter but didn’t name either.  All in all, a great neighbor for David.

Lunch with Aideen and Mickey.  Mickey’s doing really well, especially with his music.  Once school’s out, he’ll make his annual summer trip the UK to see his dad, and in August they will make their annual trip to MN.

31 May
Tomorrow’s the big day — Franciszka will graduate from high school.  It’s hard to believe that 18+ years have passed.  She such a smart, compassionate, lovely young woman; I know David is looking down at her with great pride.  She’s off to the University of Georgia in the fall, but first graduation, then “beach week” with her high school friends and a summer job in Atlanta where she’ll stay with her uncle and aunt, David’s brother Mike and his wife Jan.

Inga hosted dinner tonight in lieu of a graduation party tomorrow.  Jan and Mike flew in from Atlanta, Kim trained in from NYC, Chris joined us.  Hail, hail, the gang’s all here.

PS from early June: ran this piece on Eastern Shore places to visit … and I was surprised to realize that when I visited Marilyn, I saw all of them.  Check them out:

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