Sunday, July 27, 2008

What is it like to move away....and come back?

I'm up tonight watching one of my favorite movies,"Gross Point Blank". I like this movie not only because I LOVE John Cusack but it is a film that was meant for people just like me - 40 something, mid-eighties graduate. The soundtrack is filled with tunes from groups like, Aha, The Violent Femmes, The Clash, The English Beat, David Bowie, Queen and The Jam. All groups I LOVE!

I think that people can also relate to this movie because people do move away from the cities where they went to high school and then return for things like their high school reunions just like Martin Blank does.

I wonder what that would be like? I have only been away from the town that I grew up in for short periods of time, a year at the most. The house that I currently live in is less than a mile from the house that I grew up in. The house that I grew up in is still occupied by my mother and sister. I left home at 18 to go to college but only 5 miles from my parent's house. I now teach at the high school that I went to, my father graduated from and where he taught as well.

Now, I'm not complaining. It just has me thinking. I have NO idea what it is to leave the place where you have spent your childhood or youth and then return after a long period of time. I am interested to know if anyone has had that experience and what it was like?

The ten year reunion is something I think that many people, including myself can relate to. The high school flame that has never gotten out of your system. The one love that you wonder about years later. What would your life be like had you stayed together? Hmmmm....I guess that is why I like this movie; couple all that with the odd profession Martin has chosen in the ten years after high school - it makes a good movie and stirs up funny high school feelings again.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Live Music

I went to see The Professor play with his new band this week, "The Durty Nellys". It was their first gig and it went well for a first gig. The Professor looked HOT playing the drums . He kept up the tempo and held the band together. I had an awesome time and everyone in the place seemed to be enjoying themselves and the band. They will play again at the Irish Fair in August not to mention in my basement weekly :)

More live music that I am going to see.

Bought these tickets today at The Electric Fetus. I hadn't been there in probably 20 years. It has evolved into the cool, everything store. Not only do they have vinyl but it they sell cool earrings, clothing, candles, incense and everything else you could possibly imagine.

I went there to buy tickets for the Los Lobos concert. They are my all time favorite band. I see them every time that they come to town. I don't think I have missed a year. We have seen them in all different venues. I think my favorite venue was either First Avenue or The (old) Guthrie.

"I Walk Alone" is one of their favorites to do in a concert. It really gets everyone rocking!

The other song that I love to hear them do live is "Cinnamon Girl".

Now these aren't originals but they are classics and they are such a great band that they do it all!

While at the Electric Fetus, I couldn't help but notice other shows that were coming to town.


I have never seen her in concert and within the last two years have really started to listen to her albums. I love all her stuff and now I am SOOOO excited that I have tickets to see her in person. First Ave. is a pretty good place to see her. The guy at the Fetus said, "gone are the days when you could see her at the Cedar"...yes, she won't come to a small venue like that again but First Ave is not like the Target Center or the Dome, it is still relatively small.

So, there you go. Live music ROCKS!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


There has been a lot of celebrating going on at the Lupe Lu house. We have had a variety of events to go to celebrating other people's accomplishments. We have also had things within our family to celebrate.

Lucas wrote in her blog that we need to celebrate the small stuff more often. I agree that there are things that happen everyday that we need to celebrate. LIKE...

Having babies.

Ilona Caroline born July 20, 2008. My new niece. I'm an AUNTIE!

The little man has a new baby cousin to care for.
Getting new jobs.

The Captain is getting his dream job flying for Southwest

Turning one year older.
The Professor and Kris celebrate their belated 40th year.

Fresh paint and new designs.

The freshly painted and redecorated library. Lace curtain from SAVERS and closet curtain from HG. Flowers from The Professor.

From another angle. Our new bookshelf. Just love it!

Fun co-workers.

Getting together with my co-workers this weekend was not just for the birds :)

Food on my plate.

This has been my favorite breakfast/brunch of late. Bacon, toast, over-medium eggs, greens, OJ and chai. Mmmmmmm. Don't forget the Tabasco sauce.

And healing.

The teenager has been relaxing with new XBOX games while he heals.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Have you thought about hiring an attorney??

This was my one and only line in a commercial I shot today. I'm not getting any money for this but it is a potential spring board for other projects from this talent agency that called me to do this shoot.

You usually meet nice people when you do this kind of work. Many times you have a lot of down time to get to know them. I generally like other actors. I guess we have some gene in common. Today I met a woman who makes a living acting. That's cool! It is what I aspire to do someday (if I have the guts). My goal this school year is to do as much acting on the side that I am able and to make some money doing it.

The money is the reason I sent my head shot to eight agencies in the area. As much as I love theatre, unless you have a lot of time to devote to it, it doesn't pay. Print work, industrials and commercials do pay and they take relatively less time. Also, as I started looking around at all the advertising there is out there, I figured, hey, they NEED me! I am a healthy 40 year old women with dark hair who can represent many "groups" of people. I can be "Mom", I can be "Hispanic", "Jewish", "Generation X", "Italian", "White", "Single", "Married" one really knows what I am.

Today, I was "Friend #1". Today, I was a white, middle class 40 something woman who walks in her suburban neighborhood with a friend and gives her good advise, "Have you thought about hiring an attorney?"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Good Days

As I re-read my last post, I have to remind myself that there are good days. There are things to be grateful for. I will post pictures of recent things that bring a smile to my face.

Watching the fireworks on the 4th of July with my sister, The Professor and the boys.

My FAVORITE firework!

The best part of my FAVORITE firework...the glittering rain.

This photo actually makes me first homemade lemon meringue pie. It was delicious!

Birthday gatherings in the park.

The Little Man's artistic shot...shadow leaves in the pool.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Have I Paid Off My Karmic Debt Yet???

If anything bad could happen this past week, it did! I'm up to 3 so far. I'm still trying to hang on this week, hoping that the sky isn't going to fall.

#1. I mentioned that my dad and stepmom were paying for someone to come and paint the front of our house, well, the guy came by on Tuesday and said he could start work right away. I was pleasantly surprised because I was hard at work on the inside painting trim with a friend that day (I know, I know, too many projects at's kinda my M.O.). Before I know it, this guy is power washing the front of the house and then the south side of the house. We didn't talk about having him remove the paint from the south side of the house but as it is happening I am a bit too busy to stop him, and I figure, if it costs me $100, it's worth it...right? NOT! I go outside after about an hour to see the progress on my way out...there are paint chips EVERYWHERE! All my south side is garden and mulch and the paint chips are in all parts of the garden/mulch! Yet, I look at the house and I can't believe how quickly it took him to remove the loose paint. What he did in an hour would have taken me days or weeks! As I leave, I thank him for the extra that he did but in the back of my mind I am concerned about the paint chips.

Fast forward to early morning the next neighbor is at my door telling The Professor he is concerned about the paint chips all over our yard and in HIS yard. He says that we should probably test a chip to see if it is lead. He doesn't want anyone to get sick and he is concerned that we have a hazardous situation. The Professor goes to work and does what he does best, research. He sends me an email with the subject line: "STOP PAINT REMOVAL IMMEDIATELY!" Our house, having been built in 1878, is VERY likely to have lead paint under the top coat that we put on in 1996. Lead paint can cause learning disabilities in children, infertility, kidney problems etc... and we have this shit all over our yard, in our tomato plants, on our rhubarb! We test a chip, it is positive for lead.

#2 The same day, The Professor is riding the scooter on the freeway, in the rain back to work and it looses power. He takes it in to Blue Cat Motors to get repaired. That was a week ago and we still haven't heard what is wrong with it.

#1 Back to the irresponsible painter man. My sister works for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). I am in contact with her all day to find out what the clean-up procedure is. She gives me good information along with this law:

Subd. 2. Management responsibility; not transferable to occupant. (a) A person whose
activities produce residential lead paint waste is responsible for the management and proper
disposal of the waste.
(b) When residential lead paint waste is produced by activities of a person other than the
occupant of the residence from which the waste is removed, the person shall not leave the
residential lead paint waste at that residence and shall not transfer responsibility for managing or disposing of the waste to the occupant.

Ok, so I have to call this guy and try to get him to clean it up. This is hard for me. I HATE confrontation. I just want people to do the right thing. I HATE talking to them about it when they don't. I get a pep talk from one of my good friends and try to think of it as an opportunity for growth. I call him, it doesn't go well. He has been removing paint this way all his life and he thinks that the MPCA is blowing this "lead paint thing" all out of proportion. Bottom line, he is most likely not going to come to help me clean it up.

I call my stepmom, which is double-hard for me. AGAIN, I HATE CONFRONTATION and I hate it even more when it involves a relative. She and my dad were trying to do a favor for me and it turned into a nightmare. I was nervous, but I did it...another chance for growth.

The Professor has spent countless hours cleaning up the lead paint chips. We will never get them all. They are too numerous and the fact that they are in the mulch makes it double difficult to retrieve them. If you read the the link to "Removing Paint from Exterior Surfaces" from the Minnesota Department of Health, you saw that there is a fairly extensive clean-up procedure. We borrowed a HEPA filtered vacuum from a friend to try and vacuum up as many chips as we could. We also raked up a lot of mulch that I spent hours putting down in the fall (I had 15 yards delivered last November). Now, every time I pull up a weed, I see a chip. The boys have not been allowed to play in the yard since this happened. I especially don't want them running around bare foot in the yard. Now, we have outside shoes and inside shoes so as not to track paint chips in the house. This was a difficult life lesson.

#3 The teenager had a soccer tournament all weekend starting with two games on Friday. Saturday's first game was at 12:05. He had a great run with the ball, jumping over players from the other team, weaving in and out with the ball...just as he was leaping over the last defender, he is taken down hard on his neck and shoulder. He looks like he is in pain but he keeps on playing. They score and advance to the evening game.

The evening game isn't until 7:30. We take the teenager home to ice his shoulder and rest. He says he is having trouble moving his right arm and doesn't know if he can play. One of the parents on the team is a chiropractor and takes a look at his shoulder before the game and adjusts him. He feels better and says he can play. He is put in the game but I notice he isn't using his right arm to run. He is protecting it and isn't playing in his usual manner. He isn't in the game for more than 10 minutes when he gets hit hard by the opponent and does a somersault in front of the goal. He gets up but his right arm is hanging down by his side and he is asking to be taken off the field. It doesn't look good.

I knew from the other side of the field that he had broken his collar bone and I was right.

Ok, it is hard to take a picture of an x-ray. Can you see that break? It probably was just a hairline fracture after that first game on Sat. but after he got hit again, it REALLY cracked. Poor kid, 6 weeks of R&R. He is not good at that. This is the kid that unicycles, skateboards, ripsticks, snowboards, dives and cannot sit still for more than 5 minutes. Not to mention that by the time it heals, summer will be over and high school soccer will have already started practicing without him. I dare not say this in his presence. He is crabby enough.

#4???? I am waiting. What is that saying...what doesn't kill me will make me stronger? I'm trying here but did I tell you I'm STILL painting inside and now will have to paint the WHOLE outside because the painter man isn't coming back. Merde (excuse my French)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Roots

Recently, I've realized that I am getting older. I know this because I am saying things like, "I remember when they built that chimney." OR..."I went up and down those stairs more times than I can remember."

I have found I have a strange attachment to concrete edifices and metal structures, for now that they are gone, I miss them.

My father, grandmother and probably great-grandfather walked these stairs. They were 91 years old. I have MANY stories about these stairs.

I used to be deathly afraid to cross the bridge that led to the stairs at the top when I was a girl. I ended up conquering that fear by repeatedly crossing it. Recently, my exercise routine was to walk down the stairs, over the river and run back up all the stairs taking two stairs at a time...can you say "out of breath"?

In 5th grade, some of the boys that I used to hang out with used to scale the steel beam that connected the stairs to the bridge. I watched them, afraid for their lives, but oddly enough I never told an adult about it.

I also had my first cigarette on these stairs...Salem Menthol Lights. I luckily never became a smoker. I don't think I had another cigarette for years and probably have had 10 puffs in my life. My next door neighbors growing up, "the twins", did smoke and would pick me up on their way to have their daily cig on the stairs with the excuse to their mother that they were going out to hang out with me.

I remember quite well when this chimney was built. My dad told me that it was being built to help with the pollution by putting it up higher into the atmosphere. We crossed the bridge more than once a day and would remark on the progress of construction. Children, I think, find construction amazing and enjoy watching the work that goes into building something into the air.

My own children have seen this smokestack all their lives and have used it as a landmark going from south to north or north to south.

On the day of deconstruction, my middle sister and I woke up early to watch them implode the smokestack along with the hundreds of other Saint Paulites. It was strange to see it fall like a tree chopped from it's roots.

The bridge everyone is standing on is called "The High Bridge". It is the highest bridge that crosses the Mississippi River of the four bridges that cross to downtown St. Paul.

If you have time, watch this YouTube video. I didn't take it, my camera ran out of battery.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

46 MILLION Americans do not have health care

I heard this on the radio today. It is appalling to me. I have not expressed my political views that much on this blog but I find the health care situation in this country shameful.

The Little Man is going to need surgery in August, a tonsillectomy and adenoid removal. You won't believe the number of phone calls that I have had to make to ensure that our insurance will cover this procedure. Even with coverage, we will still have to pay through the nose because we have a high deductible. If I was given a meager hourly wage for the times in my life that I have spent on the phone with insurance companies, I'd have a healthy vacation savings (currently I have none).

The radio program that I was listening to interviewed Canadian ex-patriots who currently live in Minnesota. Some of them cursed the Canadian government run health care program while others said that when they want affordable, comprehensive health care, they go back to Canada. One Canadian also commented that not having to be stressed about being able to afford to see the doctor when you need to contributes to a happier, healthier life. The program did report that Canadians live, on average, longer than Americans and that babies have a higher rate of survival in Canada.

What do my Canadian neighbors say? What do the Americans say? Self-employed, no you work for a big organization because you know you'll then have health insurance? It is a dilemma that we are going to have to deal with.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

House projects

If you own a home you know how time consuming house up-keep can be. I am very lucky that I have the summer off to maintain this 130 year old monstrosity. I don't know how people do it with full time, year round jobs. We have next door neighbors that are amazing at caring for their house. In fact, they are so good at it that they own TWO houses and work non-stop on both of them while still maintaining their full time day jobs and two kids...I bow to them in admiration.

The Professor and I do what we can but unfortunately we weren't born with natural house fixing -up skills. The Professor is so named because of what he does best...think, read and write. I am a little more of a hands on learner but there are certain things that I just CAN'T or DON'T want to do. I don't want to build anything, cut or measure wood, replace molding, try to put plumbing together, electrical stuff or reconstruction, like sheet rocking. I'm sure I could do it if I was forced OR I would enjoy doing it if I was helping someone who knew what they were doing and they could teach me.

When I was nine or 10 years old, my mother got tired of my sister and I fighting because we shared a room. The room was very large and used to be two rooms. So, she got a book from the library about how to construct a wall and build a closet. She read that book, built the wall, made a doorway from a linen cabinet and constructed a closet for the room that didn't have one. It all still stands today, some 30 years later! My mom now fixes computers for a living. I somehow did not get that gene.

What I can do is paint. I enjoy painting although what you have to do to prepare to paint is a pain in the ass.

The other thing I do is plant. When we bought our house, there were two bushes in our yard and that was it. Now, we have a variety of gardens, trees, bushes and paths. The Professor looks at me every spring, looks at the garden and says, "when did you do all of this?" (Again, this is where you can insert "absentminded" in front of Professor LOL)

This is what I am doing this summer.

The orange is the new color for the living room with the light green by the bay windows. The front room is going from "stone" to "a turquoise blue" with one white wall.

This is part of the 15 yards of mulch I laid last November. I also planted that tree you see, the circular garden with native plants and then the semi-circle grasses I did this May.

This is the continued outside house painting that I started in 2006. I love the new colors on the porch and can't wait until I finish the whole darn thing.

I was not looking forward to getting up on the roof here to paint though. Fortunately, my dad and step-mom have offered to pay to have a professional come over and do this part for me. Thanks so much!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fishin' in the north and cat scratching in the south

This weekend we drove. Saturday we drove an hour and a half north east to a friend's cabin for the day, woke up on Sunday and drove an hour and a half south to a neighbor's cottage to do some biking and pick up the teenager.

Thanks to the fuel efficiency of the Toyota, Yaris, these trips didn't break the bank. In fact, I don't think we used a whole tank of gas!

The little man swore he would be bored at my friend's cabin because there would be no other children there and his brother was not with us. Instead, he was pleasantly surprised and occupied all day by fishing. I was amazed at the patience he had while waiting for the fish to bite. I don't fish because I am not that patient. For hours he didn't get a bite and THEN...using the right bait (the secret lure...bratwurst), he started to reel them in ...GIANT sunfish!

Look at the size of this fish!!

Then his father and he took the paddle boat out for a spin while I snapped some nature shots.

The boys are having WAY too much fun out there!

Moses the cat loved all the attention that the little man gave him on our second journey to the neighbor's cottage. It was the end of a beautiful, fun-filled weekend!