Radio Appearance Saturday

We'll be guest hosts, along with Laurell, on tomorrow's (Saturday's) Mouth of Wonderlive. It's shaping to be a year in food kind of wrapup and sounds like it's going to be a blast. M+D will be coming along, so we may have a special guest for the Ask Rula segment.

Listen to the stream, catch the it at PRX page, or wait for the post on the blog.


Update: a couple photos below. It was a lot of fun, we were all on the air, all weighed in with our Santa Fe eating options, and M read her question for Rula. And Stacy swears the show will be on iTunes any day now.



Further update: since the topic of favorite restaurants of the year was discussed, we went out to one of ours, Vinaigrette, that evening. A few nights earlier, we went with M+D to the other best of the year, Lan's Vietnamese Cuisine.


unofficial take-your-dog-to-work half-day

Had a half-day the day before Christmas, and my coworker Natalie was hankerin' to bring her dog Jess into the office. At her last job, Natalie brought Jess to work with her every day.

Jess: how could you say "no" to this face?

Not so much here, where dog-bringing-in is officially verboten. But people sometimes do — it's more of a don't ask, don't tell, don't poop in the courtyard policy. But since the office would be pretty deserted right before the holiday, and we had no deadlines...

I decided to bring Cheyenne, since all everyone at the office has heard about from me lately is how much I want a greyhound, and we filled out an application, and we're going to look at one on Saturday, and zomfg! we brought that doggie home, we have a dog now! omg omg!

My other coworker Susan, brought in Queenie, the younger (and more active) of her two Aussie cattle dogs. They all got along great. It was fun to see Cheyenne with the other dogs. If they walked around, she followed them. If someone came in to our suite, she had to go check it out. Everyone told her how pretty she was, and ooh-ed an ahh-ed over her. One coworker said she looked "like a Chagall painting."

Clockwise from top left: Susan, Natalie, Jess, Queenie, Cheyenne.

Cheyenne meets my boss, David.

Susan talking to Queenie in my office, Cheyenne is baffled

Sacked out briefly on the pile of blankets I brought. Yeesh, that rug is really bright.


More Snow and Such

The snow started late yesterday afternoon, and by this morning was about 6-8" deep and still coming down. Headed out to start clearing everything out and, of course, the new dog needed to go for her morning constitutional.

A bit of a digression. Everything about a racing Greyhound is recorded and analyzed and it all goes to a giant database that, with the help of your dog's ear tattoos, you can track. So, thanks to this, we know Cheyenne's lineage, we know that she wasn't a particularly good racer (like her littermates) and never reallly made it to The Show. And we know that she came to us from Tuscon.

She was, I guess, relatively game upon stepping out into the snow. Immediately attempted to get back in. But with a little urging, headed out into the powdery white stuff. We're working on getting a proper coat for her — lest you think us spoiling her, note that Greyhounds have light fur and very thin skin — so used an old base layer, with somewhat mixed results. Anyway, pretty even-keeled (which describes her basic state), she did her business and got back inside to her bed quickly.

I was at work today, but at the end was rewarded with this:

BTW, M+D are safely here, beating the storms that covered the north- and midwest. They arrived in town last Thursday, traveled with us to Abq to meet Cheyenne, and were dogsitters on Monday. We've gathered for dinners, they've done their own things during the day (weather permitting).

This isn't due to melt, and there's supposed to be more over the next couple days, guaranteeing a white Christmas here in Santa Fe.



Just in time for Christmas, our own Santa's Little Helper. Only been here for about an hour-and-a-half; wasn't particularly freaked out by the house, but cautious. Now, just sleeping.

More — let's be honest, much more — later.


tree decorating with Stacy + Jim

As mentioned before, We invited Jim + Stacy over for tree decorating, dinner, and drinks (not necessarily in that order).

Stacy was very industrious and did a great job, despite her claims of never having done any tree decorating.

Jim was also quite fast, when he wasn't menacing Stacy, Hitchcock-like, with one of our many, many bird ornaments:

...or trying to eat them:

Bram opted to document the process and ply us with Mai Tais, in lieu of decorating. Here's this year's lovely ornament from Joan + Ken.

Everyone was happy with the results!

Enjoy the holiday spirit(s), everyone!


Top Ten Comics of 2008

I know that this isn't necessarily the audience for this post, but now that I've invested way too much time putting this together, I'm not only posting it at Raised By Squirrels, but wherever I can.

The following comics stood out to me this year; all had a release or were ongoing in some fashion in 2008. And though there are repeats from last year's list, I'm also trying to call attention to some that might have been overlooked. In no particular order:

1. The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite TPB by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba — I was not exactly filled with confidence when the highlight of this solicit was "written by the lead singer of My Chemical Romance." When I started hearing good things from surprising (and trusted) sources, figured there'd at least be some great artwork. There is, but there's also tight storytelling with a terrific tone, odd humor, and familiar elements in the right places that combine to make for an original, enjoyable tale, with the promise of more weirdness to come.

2. Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson — the early days of Thompson's strip are now collected into a book, and the adventures of the suburban Otterloop family are available daily at gocomics.com/culdesac. With a wry, affectionate sensibility and approach to everyday life that is familiar yet fresh, it brings new energy to the daily newspaper strip and, I think, could be the best one going on now. Plus, the linework alone is often funnier than just about every other daily. You can follow his blog at richardspooralmanac.blogspot.com.

3. Diesel Sweeties (dieselsweeties.com) by Richard Stevens — Monica introduced me to his daily syndicated newspaper strip just before Stevens retired from it to fully concentrate his energies on the Web version. So he's still offering a contemporary take on the modern comic strip, daily doses of geeky humor, contemporary wit, and a skewed glimpse at modern romance, all while wringing every bit of expression possible out of those limited pixels.

4. Hark A Vagrant (beatonna.livejournal.com; also posted at katebeaton.com) by Kate Beaton — literary humor, Canadian (and some American) history, fishmongers, saucy mermaids, dandies, Miyamoto Musashi somewhere in there, and, of course, Fat Pony. This occasional webcomic never fails to amuse with its obscure references and intelligent storytelling. The artwork is deceptively simple, well-paced and expressive. Found via The Comics Curmudgeon.

5. Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday and
6. Immortal Iron Fist by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and David Aja — both titles appear for a second (and last) time because they each take characters with extensive history and continuity and bring something new to their mythologies. They offer different approaches: X-Men's, a sharp, character-driven story that puts the fun back in the old galaxy-spanning epics; Iron Fist's, a smart, mystical/martial arts adventure that that introduces new elements and characters who are such a such a perfect fit, it's tough to imagine they haven't existed all along.

7. Scalped: Casino Boogie TPB by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera — a difficult story, full of unappealing people making tough choices and generally doing bad things with unpleasant consequences. And probably one of the finest examples of what comics can achieve. Grittily realistic and evocative, it jumps around time and in and out of reality, interweaving characters and revealing more about their past and relationships in a way that would be tough to pull off in any other medium.

8. The Martian Confederacy by Jason McNamara and Paige Braddock — laugh-out-loud moments in a sci-fi tale about a quirky cast caught up in a caper on a future Mars. It's a simple premise, well told. The inventive characters and their dialog really drive the humor and fun in the story, which is really a great fit for the pacing and art. Credit goes to Monica for picking it out.

9. Helen Killer by Andrew Kreisberg and Matthew JLD Rice — not without its flaws, but it takes a pitch — Alexander Graham Bell gives Helen Killer a device lets her see and hear as well giving her super-strength and agility, which she uses to protect the president — that just seems ill-advised and turns it into a well-paced, historical sci-fi adventure. There's a lot of classic comic storytelling in there, a real love of the medium, but also a modern sensibility that manages to play it completely straight while reveling in the absurdity of it all. Thanks to The Invincible Super-Blog for calling attention to it.

10. Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front by Todd DePastino and the accompanying collection Willie and Joe: The WWII Years — OK, so, the DePastino book is a biography and, technically Mauldin is a cartoonist working in single panels, but they both call attention to a true master of storytelling through combining words and pictures. I usually avoid biographies, but this is a fascinating, gripping read of an exceptional character in unusual times. The collection traces his development as a draftsman and observer, all the more amazing when you learn the conditions he was working under.


Honorable mentions: Black Summer (mostly for its lush art); Criminal; Elephantmen; Fantastic Four (Millar and Hitch's); Doonesbury's B.D. storyline; B.P.R.D. and Hellboy; The Secret History of The Authority: Hawksmoor (a surprising story with beautiful, atypical supehero art); All-Star Superman; Invincible Iron Man; Comic Book Comics; Girls With Slingshots Volume One and webcomic at daniellecorsetto.com/gws.html; Patsy Walker: Hellcat #1 (2 and 3 haven't lived up to the promise, but that first issue is crazy fun); Gutsville; Guerillas (off to a promising start); and 100 Bullets is only missing from the list because now I'm just hoarding the trade paperbacks to read when it's all done.


Some Snow

Woke up this morning to some snow on the ground and some still coming down. Not too unusual for the past few days — one weatherman described what was going on as kind of monsoon season, but with snow. Around sunset, clouds roll in; there may be some precipitation, there may not; it may just be in the mountains, or it may be in town; it may be rain, it may be snow. We've started a couple mornings with a dusting.

But there was a bit more than usual. And it kept coming down. And continued to all day. As of around 5:00 today, probably about 4-5" on the ground:

Still snowing now. A Winter Storm Warning in effect until Wednesday, but it's not supposed to accumulate too much below 7500'. We'll see.

By way of contrast, today Colin (in Bermuda) sent some photos of him boating around this summer.



Got the tree yesterday evening, left it outside in the backyard (to be snowed on... sigh) overnight, wrestled it inside this afternoon, set it up, tested all the light strings (all ok), started to put them on the tree, got to the last string, and it crapped out. Changed the dinky fiddly little fuses, but no dice, it was dead. So, the tree is only partially lit and I have to go out tomorrow + get a new string — Jim and Stacy are coming over Tuesday night for the traditional tree-decorating Mai-Tais, and white bean chicken chili.


'Round about this time of year, all sorts of top ten (or whatever number) lists start coming out. Already Dori is planning her best music of the year, as is Andy. I usually try and send a couple songs Andy's way, hoping to make the compilation, though generally with limited success. Early this year, I tried to start a list (and a playlist on iTunes of the ones I got) of the new music I ran across so that, when the time came, I could make a meaningful contribution.

But soon after, circumstances conspired to cut me off from IndieSF during the day and around that same time, KCRW changed its lineup around and I wasn't really liking what they were playing during the times I was listening (which all may be changing again now that Jason Bentley is taking over as music director). And so I started listening to Pandora.

There's been a bit of a learning curve, figuring out how to really take advantage of how Pandora evaluates your preferences and recommends music, how to make selections to create more diversity — there's a pattern at work that Liz clued me in to that affected how I defined my selections. It's still not the same as having a good DJ who will challenge you, and there's some odd, even bad, choices that it makes, but every so often it just nails it right on. Sometimes, it's been music that I even own that I'd forgotten about, and often some new stuff I'd never even heard of.

Thing is, it turns out that I don't really seem to like anything more recent than around 2005. Which will probably only surprise most of you only in that I made it that far.

So, my recommendations? I liked what I heard from MGMT's Oracular Spectacular, but not enough to seek out anything other what what I could find for free (legal) download. Santogold's album — one of two new CDs I bought this year, something I haven't done in ages — is a wild, diverse treat that really plays better as individual tracks than as a whole. I got to listen to Portishead's long-awaited 3, and really, the only song that sticks with me is "Machine Gun." Moby released Last Night (my other purchase for the year), it's kind of a concept album that attempts to distill a night's clubbing into one disc; I was a bit disappointed, but it is a decent listen, even if the mellowing out tracks run a bit long. Does It Offend You Yeah offered some good songs, as did M83. What I heard of the new Thievery Corporation I liked, but hasn't compelled me to buy; for me, The Mirror Conspiracy (probably a Desert Island Disc that, yes, predates 2005) sums up what they do best. Seems that I should already own the new Reckless Kelly, but I'll get around to buying it; I do enjoy seeing them perform, but their studio albums tend not to grab me. Last year's demo of "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You" by Black Kids is, I think, inferior to this year's studio version, though what else I've heard off their album is catchy. And The Ting Ting's "Shut Up And Let Me Go," despite getting overplay on an Apple commercial, is still just fun. In the "oldies" department, Pandora introduced me to Ladytron, Hybrid and the guilty, gothy pleasure that is Lucia; reminded me how great Lush's Split is; and showed me more of Curve's catalog.

Mostly, it's been interesting to see how we've just gone to listening to streaming radio rather than albums. Last year, around this time, I burned all our CDs to iTunes, so all our music is in unorganized mess on the desktop computer in the office. With the Airport Express (and PandoraJam), anything that's on the computer can play on the living room stereo and/or the speakers in the office. Every so often, there's an album or artist we want to hear, or we just hit shuffle to take a random tour of the collection, but often we just find ourselves letting someone (or -thing, in Pandora's case) else choose the songs.

When our local public radio station KSFR finally made their big transmitter switch, it increased their signal everywhere in the region except our neighborhood. Seriously, you get out to Alameda and it's fine, but in our house it's just static, so we listen to their stream. And every so often we do stream the ol' WAMU, often Saturday afternoons for their talk lineup, and then in the evening for Hot Jazz Saturday Night. We've long enjoyed (in its various forms) Indie, and were sorry to see them lose their spot on the air. But they've rallied and have a reliable stream and a terrific selection of music, and The Independent Get Down is our soundtrack for New Comic Night. I still worry about their survival, though; we all know that the future of ______ is digital, and radio's no exception. But like everything else, I'm not sure anyone's making enough money off the Web to keep going — so check them out and drop them a line if you're listening, OK?

We do still occasionally tune into an actual radio station, getting our NPR fix from a couple Albuquerque-based public radio stations. And Wednesday nights, we try to listen to Toast and Jam on KBAC. We're not particularly fans of jam bands or anything, but our friend Chris (from True Believers) is one of the hosts, and they always produce an entertaining couple hours.



Though it was a short week, it's been a particularly difficult one on several fronts (the least of which is my lingering sore throat that's keeping us from a "day after" outing today).

So yesterday, we were particularly thankful to again be a part of Stacy and Jim's celebration. An evening of great food and even better people, time to just appreciate being around both.


Happy Birthday, Monica

Birthday portrait(s) commissioned from Richard Stevens, creator of
Diesel Sweeties.


coming soon...

We've put in an application to adopt a retired greyhound!


Well, That Could've Gone Better

A little fencing competition over at Prep today, right here in town. Registration closed at the very civilized hour of 1:00, so there was no needing to get up early and on the way before sunrise or anything.

There was some decent attendance from out of the area, especially for such a small event. Figured I had a good shot at doing well, and with some of our A-rated fencers, a good opportunity to increase my own classification.

The pools were easy and fast; my first direct elimination is someone I regularly fence at the club. My next DE was a kid that I've beaten before, and was fairly confident about defeating again. Not to take anything away from him — he was really on today — but I kept giving him opportunities and failing to capitalize on ones he have me. I came back, we were tied at 14 after the end of the first period, but I'd made too many mistakes, should've been in a better position by then, and he got me with a good, clean shot. Dumb.

Update: final NMFF standings; I ended up about where I was seeded at the beginning.


Qui transtulit sustinet

He who transplanted still sustains.
— Connecticut state motto

Sunday evening found us at Stacy and Jim's, planting some Maximilian's Sunflowers in their backyard.

Earlier in the day, we had M+D over for some brunch — and some housework. The adirondack chairs outside had suffered from a year's worth of exposure and needed a fresh coat of stain, so M and I tackled that. Monica had decided that the sunflowers outside the office window needed to be moved, so she and D started digging.

The flowers were occupying a raised bed that gets good sun and water, a space that we could better use for growing herbs and vegetables. Plus, they were always getting caught in the window.

The sunflowers are all over the place around Santa Fe in late summer, tall and beautiful. I requested that we retain some in our yard. Mon and D cut down the stalks, dug out the plants and roots.

One batch went to the opposite wall in our yard. Another got bundled up in wet paper towel and a trash bag for M+D to take back to Connecticut with them. More got bundled up and packed in a box to go to Monica's mom in Maryland. The largest pile got brought over to Stacy + Jim's where, in the waning daylight with Bernice looking on, we quickly added them to their garden.

A few more transplants among the transplants.


A Walk in the Arroyo

Part of M+D's daily housesitting routine is a morning walk with Audrey — and often the cat — in the arroyo near J+J's place. We joined them this morning.

Audrey's custom is to run on ahead, disappearing for stretches of time, reappearing to check on her walking companions every so often. The cat just kind of walks behind or alongside; apparently, she often just lays down and needs to be carried back.


The two often just behave like siblings fighting for attention. Their usual state is simply ignoring each other, though.

The sun was warming, but it was still early enough to be cool, especially in the frequent shady spots. Out about an hour, a leisurely walk. The cat, when threatened with me carrying her, got home under her own power. Audrey, so excited at the beginning, was dragging a bit by the time we got to the house.

Into the car and off to Tesuque Village Market for a late breakfast. We'd long heard about this place, and M+D actually sought it out last weekend. Surprisingly, not very crowded, but a good place to linger over a big, New Mexican breakfast.

Headed back to J+J's and hung out outside; D shared the some of research he's been doing on our neighborhood in Wethersfield. One of the main things he's been relying on is a planning document, ca. 1928, which took a look at the ways Wethersfield could (and should) manage a transition from a farming town to a bedroom community.

The ordinary, suburban environment is so taken for granted these days, it's interesting to find out what came before, how things got to be the way they are, how people and groups wound up where they did. It's really recent history, but so much is lost and/or overlooked.

Monica got to work turning the discarded sardine container found on the morning's walk into a little retablo for St. Christopher.

It'll get left at the house for J+J to keep or add to the shrine that passersby seem to be creating in the arroyo.


For the first time since moving out here, there was not the usual Halloween party. We stayed in last night, better prepared than last year. Probably 15-20 groups of kids from just before 6:00 until about 8:30; by and large, very polite.


Pearl Tree Planting

Our friend Stacy's father passed away around this time last year, and her mother Bernice moved out to Santa Fe soon after. When the time came for the family to consider a tombstone they decided that, rather than stick a rock in the ground that none of them would visit, it would be better to honor him with a couple pear trees that everyone could enjoy.

This past Sunday, Stacy and Jim hosted a party at their place, a gathering of friends and family to plant the trees.

After a couple days of cooling weather, we had a beautiful, 70° afternoon. M+D are still in town, and Stacy and Jim were good enough to extend the invitation to them as well. We visited some, caught up with Bernice, then it was time for the ceremony. They'd done plenty of work already, digging the holes and bringing in good soil (mostly rock and dirt in their yard). But after a few words, there was the planting to be done.


The crowd got into it (a couple had actually brought their own tools) and, with plenty of advice from all the gardeners on hand, soon the trees were planted and watered. Afterward, plenty of wonderful food (including Ben's namesake chicken dish) and more good times.

Update: D's posted his take on the day.


24 Hour Comics Day 2008

For the third year, we were happy to be a part of 7000 BC's sponsorship of 24 Hour Comics Day in Santa Fe (2006 here and 2007 here). For the first time, it wasn't held at True Believers (which will always be our spiritual home), but at the amazing new facilities at Warehouse 21. M+D stopped by around the start (oh, yeah, they got here on Wednesday, they'll be here for the next couple weeks housesitting for J+J) and I'm pretty sure can attest to the awesomeness that is the giant art space, encompassing a gallery (where we were set up), a digital media lab, and two stages, plus all sorts of other areas.

It all gave us more space than ever before for the 24 "official" participants (28, including the support folks) and the plenty of other friends, family, and hangers-on that stopped by. Undeniably the most successful yet, with 13 who completed the full 24 pages (read about the challenge here). Monica was working on a new issue of Raised By Squirrels; I had helped organize the event with W21 and Chris from True Believers, so had plenty of errands to run, but was liveblogging from the events at the official 24 hour comics blog:
The southern part of the group was running an event at the Harwood Art Center in Albuquerque — they were posting to 24hcd.blogspot.com as well — but they also had their own dedicated blog at 24 Hours in Q-Town.

One of the undeniably coolest things was the reporter and photographer from The Santa Fe New Mexican who stopped by, putting together an article on Saturday night that appeared in Sunday's paper — while it was still going on.

As always, it was an exciting, energizing time, inspiring to see the work that was produced, and to see the progression in the ten or so folks who were doing it once again. And, once again, we went home before midnight — but brought everyone bagels by 8:00. We actually ate really well, with donations from Walter Burke Catering, Java Joe's, Upper Crust Pizza, and La Montanita Co-Op.

It still makes for a long couple days. After cleaning up, we treated ourselves to a late breakfast at Zia Diner. Then it was back home to winterize — clean the windows and screens, pack the grill and such away in the shed. Even though it was around 70° today, we saw temperatures below freezing overnight this past week, and the threat of snow (which only materialized up in the mountains) as well.


Road to the Cloud's House


Last night was the book release part for Road to the Cloud's House, a collection of prose poems by John Brandi and Renée Gregorio from an extended visit to Chiapas.

Tom at the Print Shop at the Palace of the Governors is behind the project. Tom made the paper, Monica did the typesetting, a calligrapher whose name I don't have with me now did a terrific icon for the title page, Tom and James printed it at the Palace, and then a local bookbinder (again, don't have the name here) put it all together. The result is a beautiful work that is as much a love letter to the region as it is to the nature of hand-making books.

The event last night was well-attended, and added to the whole experience of reading the book. Both poets, familiar with doing readings, their presentations of their pieces were lively and evocative, and demonstrated how they played off each other in writing them.


Right now, at the annual 24 Hour Comics Day event, this year at Warehouse 21. Doing a little liveblogging.


So, Minnesota, Then

Spent a few days last week up in the Twin Cities, visiting Paul, Theresa and Audrey — and their new dog, Pogo. [Also called at various times, PoPo, Pongo, Mongo, Torgo, Togo, Bobo, So-and-so, Bozo —M]

Thursday Arrived into MSP — without any real travel delays, if you can believe that. Found P+T's new (to us) house without a problem, in a nice little '50s-era suburb north of St. Paul. Around sunset, we took a stroll to Lake Johanna, just a couple blocks from their house.

Friday Theresa's mother Trish was around for a couple of days, so she took Audrey off to kindergarten (!); we had a leisurely start to the day before hitting the road to Taylors Falls, about an hour north. The interstate park is kind of around and south of the town. We paid our entry, parked the car, and took the River Trail. Around 2 miles, it goes along the St. Croix river; with a late fall just arriving, it was just beautiful out there.

The trail ends (or begins, I suppose, depending on where you enter the park) at the "potholes," a bunch of natural caves in the rock, including the Bottomless Pit. Now, I know it wasn't really going to be bottomless — but when I could actually see the bottom, about 60' down, I felt a bit cheated.

Across the street, to the town itself, for a little lunch. Including fried cheese curds. Mmmmmmm.

A stroll back along the other side of the highway, along what used to be a rail line. And then the scenic route home in time for some sitting outside in the last light of the evening, playing with the dog. Then off to Muffaletta for dinner. Choosing from the menu was agonizing, everything sounded so good. And everything we got was.

So, at the booth, then, Monica had a view of the door. And — stop and think for a moment. How likely are you to see a celebrity in St. Paul? I mean, nothing against the city, but who would be in St. Paul? That's right, Garrison Keillor came into the restaurant, and took the table next to us. Since he was with some friends, we opted not to interrupt him, but it was kinda fun catching bits of that voice.

Saturday We had timed our trip so that we could attend FallCon. Mon and I got a great breakfast at Keys Cafe before heading to the convention, while everyone else went about their weekend business. There was to be a family gathering later in the day for Marcus' birthday, so we got to the convention early and hit it in a whirlwind. I met up with the local creators group, we worked our way through the vendors, and then headed off to Marcus and Melissa's house in Minneapolis. Still nice enough to sit outside, visiting and playing with their Australian Shepherd puppy. Kelly and Julie were there, with the twins, and we also got to meet Marcus and Melissa's new daughter. Back to P+T's for the ribs we had sent from Rendezvous, in honor of that Memphis trip a few years back.

Sunday was gray and rainy — kind of a novelty for us — so we enjoyed the lazy morning, lingering over a late breakfast and the comics section.

Then headed into the city to The Walker. There's a Modernist prefab house from Flatpak outside these days that was fun to check out (and imagine as a casita out back).


Inside, the main goal in our visit to the (much expanded since we were last there) museum was the Saarinen show, but there was also time to check out Statements, Mythologies, and the permanent collection. Then it was time for ice cream up the hill at Sebastian Joe's. At home that evening, a fire in the fireplace and beef stew.

Monday Though P+T were off work Monday, Trish was gone by then, and Audrey wanted to skip her usual after school activities to spend the afternoon with us. We'd run through our planned activities, but Mon wanted to go to the IKEA that she spotted when the plane was landing. We started at Sunnyside Up Cafe — where they put mushrooms in their sausage gravy.

And then to Open Book. A real singular entity, it combines a letterpress/binding workshop, a gift store with all sorts of prints from around the country, a gallery space, a small publisher, a coffee shop, and all kinds of meeting rooms in an amazing, large, industrial space. Basically, I could live there. But I chose not to, for now, and we continued on our day. We retrieved Audrey, picked up some cheese and cheese curds, and headed back home for a walk (and bike for Audrey and P) around the neighborhood.

Turned out to be the nicest weather of the whole trip, still warm at the end of the day. But not warm enough that, when Pogo decided to go swimming in the lake, any of us were following him.

Dinner that evening at Tavern on Grand for some walleye (fried, light and crisp) and next door for some ice cream. A little driving around downtown St. Paul, and then home to pack.

Tuesday's trip home was, again, uneventful. Flights were even early, which made for a pleasant conclusion to a terrific trip.