I saw a fascinating Mom on the plane to Minneapolis. Her family was from Wisconsin. She had four children aged probably 5-11 who she was constantly entertaining with goodies from a special bag. A child would so much as glance in her direction and she’d have some Maths puzzle, play dough, colour-by number, magazine or drawing material to offer them. She was constantly rotating this stuff in and out of the bag, monitoring boredom, hunger and curiosity levels, offering blankets, water, snacks, all the while going through newspaper clippings and “Mom” articles on her lap. I’m not exaggerating. This woman was some kind of machine. I wonder if she was just in Flight Mode or if she kept that up full time.
Minnesotans are TALL. This was confirmed by my Air Bnb host David, who said there was a statistical basis for my observation. A few times I’ve been gobsmacked at how tall someone is. And then immediately thought “I bet they hate that, why can’t I not be gobsmacked? But WOAH they are so TALL.”
My Air Bnb host David is a remarkable man, he’s an elected public official and Methodist minister with a lovely apartment decorated with nearly all Arts and Crafts furniture and textiles. He and his husband Edward have a gorgeous British labrador called Duncan who has a 12-hour bladder on him, apparently, which is just as well.
Driving from the airport on a Saturday, everyone was out in their backyards and I even saw a little girl with a lemonade stand. It’s hotter than expected! The architecture is very American to my eyes, American Gothic without the gothic window shape. There has been a lot of Scandinavian history in this area, reflected in the lingering expression “Off da!” (oopsy daisy?) and the wood panelling and style of some houses. Other houses look a lot like The Sims architectural options, which I always thought were ridiculous and grandiose and how could real houses look like that, but here we are. The Greek-columned porch seems to be a favourite, and there are flowerbeds and trees everywhere. Queensland, can we be a bit more like this please? Maybe just the trees.
I wandered along Lake Calhoun today, past some definite Minnesotans on bikes (“We currd rade to Minnehaha!” [Minnehaha is actually the name of a place]) and some long-suffering camp staff attempting to teach some summer camp kids how to hoist the sail of their boats. Some were already in their boats trying to set up rudders, obviously not having listened particularly well to their instructions. Ah, children. The lake is something else, though. It’s right in the middle of the city, it laps directly at the grass on the edge with no wall, and motorised craft are banned. How I wished I had a canoe and a companion who would, let’s be real here, do all of the paddling for me.
Uptown was quite delightful, though I advise checking how much to tip before you actually are in a paying situation. The waiter was very awkward about me asking her how much people tip but gave me a reasonably accurate “15-20%. But you don’t have to. Wow this is weird, I feel really weird talking to you about it.” It’s also advisable to describe exactly what you want your coffee to contain, lest you get a huge milkshake glass packed with ice and filter coffee. This is the second time I’ve made this mistake.
On the way home was a very unexpected fossil shop where I picked up a $5 piece of dinosaur eggshell to add to my small collection to show students.
I walked home via HUGE Improv Theater, and none other than Jill Bernard (my all-time favourite improvisor and teacher) poked her head out to give me a hug and show me around.
My aims for the non-impro portion of my Minnesota trip: find out more about the Native American cultures of the area, see the central library (which Edward and David raved about), and possibly visit St Paul.