This post is for my good chum Julene. I may or may not be writing at her request. We are like birds.
Despite the majestic permanence of our birds-of-prey appearance, we didn’t always look like this – although I have been much taller for many moons now. Julene, for instance, used to look like an animal. For my part, I looked innocent, friendly, and somewhat boyish. And strangely eager to show off my legs.
It was thanks to Julene that I had my first email account (I was teaspout to her coffeecup; what up, gurlmail?), and my first website (I ate html for breakfast!). Thanks to her I did a lot more ice skating than I otherwise would have, and a lot more perusing of teen fashions in my dELiA*s and Alloy catalogs. Going further back in time, we see where it all started. Cake. Carrot cake, I believe.
Things to notice here: my father has a mustache, Julene is wearing a bracelet to accentuate her arm muscles, and my hair is blond. Oh, the days.
Growing up together, I found that the ratio of my height to Julene’s calibrated my ratio of bossiness. I’m sure there are plenty of other photos out there with expressions similar to hers here, showing mild amounts of disdain, incredulity, and distrust, amidst loads of love (I hope):
Still, she knew that I was a leading expert on cutting-edge makeup application techniques, using a medium known as “crayons” to achieve my desired effects. As I clearly had a steady hand (see my rendition of Asia for insight into my motivations as a child art prodigy), she trusted me to gussy her up nice for double-bride weddings.
On my recent trip home to Minnesota, I had the great fortune to meet up with Julene. This is a difficult feat to accomplish, as many of my attempts have been to no avail. I believe this is because in pursuing her career as a giant bald eagle, she often returns home to her over-sized nest in a large wolfy white pine tree, only to feel too tired to fly down to the mainland. Happy to gnaw on old fish bones, she rests and nests, content in the knowledge that her species is now of the least concern on America’s conservation status list.
And by old fish bones, I mean chocolate. A fan of Endangered Species and Chocolove chocolate, she rips a small tear in my owl-y breast by confidently stating that chocolate with ginger is “the best.” Here is where we differ, pal: I, normally a ginger-averse individual, hereby crown you as Keeper of Keys and Grounds of all things ginger/chocolate based.
I respect her interest in Endangered Species chocolate – a brand that really seemed to be at the forefront of craft chocolate, at least in our neck of the woods, way back before chocolate became a hip, fashionable accessory. An accessory that one may now dangle from thick, unnecessary glasses, or stuff into a pocket of skinnier-than-Kate-Moss jeans, or place in the basket of a fixed-gear bicycle. Yeah, I know what hip kids like. It’s no big deal.
Having moved near the downtown St. Paul area within the past two months, Julene has spent recent weeks riding about the city limits on her new pink bike, getting to know her neighborhood. Her neighborhood is home to several eateries that I fancy, including ice cream at the Grand Ole Creamery, “turn-of-the-century” culinary extravagance at W.A. Frost & Company, and “ideal upscale neighborhood Italian” at La Grolla. Don’t those last two places sound snooty? They are, but they are as delicious as they are pretentious – and they have great service, which I sadly can’t say about most places here in Bangor.
Our meet-up led us to seek out a Cajun Music Dance Spectacular happening somewhere in the city. It was not at the Landmark Center, originally the city’s post office, court house and custom house, and now keeper of flag and chairs and dusty old instruments. It was not at the Xcel Energy Center, which was home that night to a Katy Perry concert, complete with riotous little girls hopped up on sugar and maturity. It was at the Minnesota History Center, a lovely large building that I haven’t been inside of in years.
When I was younger, I would visit the Minnesota History Center for their weekend programs, of which my favorite was learning to make Sweet Potato Pie. It was delicious, and I find myself wondering why I haven’t made it since. I will soon have to remedy that. Last year, the MHC hosted an exhibit very dear to my heart. Alas, this heart was stuck in Maine, and although I made it to Minnesota at the very end of its tenure, I did not have the delight of making it to Chocolate: The Exhibition, on loan from Chicago’s Field Museum.
This August 23rd, however, we arrived for the free outdoor concert by the New Riverside Ramblers, as part of St. Paul’s summer music series. It was a relatively hot evening, and we enjoyed ice cream sandwiches (an Orange Creamsicle for Julene) while watching the city’s finest dance their cares away to infectious Cajun tunes. Near the evening’s end a snazzy woman in cowboy boots, and her short compatriate in jeans clearly from the 80s, began a line dance that attracted others in a fashion similar to me and ice cream sandwiches. Enjoying the music, the people, and the sunset on my town, I was at home.
Unfortunately, all things must come to an end (including the Katy Perry concert – – so sad!), and eagle Julene had to fly back to her nest. She is a lady of many disguises, however; if you see her dressed as an eager-to-be-taller Dalmatian, don’t worry. It’s just who she is.
Love you girrrrrrl – stay in touch.
345 W Kellogg Blvd
St Paul, MN 55102
$8 college students
$5 children 6-17
Free to the public Tuesdays 17h00-20h00
Closed Monday (open Monday holidays year round)