Thursday, October 15, 2015

TBT: Augie plays Pinetop Boogie

This first appeared in September 2009.

When Augie was just over a year old, he'd come in the door and head for the den, saying "Dah-Nn." Doctor John. The DVD is "Dr. John Teaches You to Play New Orleans Piano," and Augie's immediate favorite was "Pinetop Boogie." While I struggled to learn fingering, he absorbed the music, heart and soul. Here's evidence.


video video

video video

Sunday, October 11, 2015

An October getaway

Peter and I took a two-day holiday this past week to enjoy fall color and continue celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. It was, in a word, wonderful. Romantic, in fact.

The weather has been so warm that our leaves are weeks behind their usual schedule, so we headed north and east to the St. Croix River valley where we figured things would be a little further advanced. The birches were glorious tiny points of gold, and the sumac was deep red, and here and there a hardwood was turning red as well. Much of this was contrasted against deep green, and it was lovely. The sun hid behind the clouds both days, but there was beauty everywhere. The photos you see here were taken at Interstate Park at Taylor's Falls, Minn., notable for its scenery including glacial potholes; I've described it before.

We spent the night at the historic Lowell Inn in Stillwater, Minn., once an area favorite and still comfortable despite its age. I try to book a suite when we travel, because Peter needs a place to hang out while he is up half the night. In this case I took the Honeymoon Suite, which also has a Jacuzzi. So in keeping with their historic approach (and probably the limits of the wiring) the suite has no coffee maker and no fridge, but television, free WiFi, and a giant tub in the living room. Frankly, I suspect they should promote it as the Anniversary Suite, because it seems that most of their guests are silver-haired folks like ourselves. On a quiet Thursday night, the dining room hosted only three couples, all celebrating anniversaries.

The hotel's special dining attraction is a multi-course fondue dinner, which was as good as we remembered from decades ago, except that now we know our limits and didn't overdo. The cheese fondue, served with marinated vegetables and several kinds of bread, was accompanied by a wonderful Riesling. In hot oil we cooked shrimp, duck, and steak, all accompanied by an Austrian white and an Italian red that were a little more dry and heavy than we like (we'll never be wine aficionados). The grapes and berries course served as our dessert, and we skipped the chocolate fondue. I've always enjoyed the process of the fondue dinner, and it's even better when you're not the one who has to clean up and deal with the hot oil and messy cheese pot. 

Our drive took us through some delightful small towns including Marine-on-St.-Croix and Taylor's Falls, Minnesota, and Osceola, Wisconsin, all with charming gift shops, antique stores, garden shops, and, oh yes, candy stores. We managed not to buy much, since as Peter reminds me we're in the "de-acquisitioning phase." It's enough to collect experiences, memories, and the occasional photograph. In the process, we celebrated our life together and breathed new oxygen into it. Looking forward to many more years together.



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