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I am having a fantastic trip to MN and WI.

CONvergance was so awesome. Some years it makes the whole year worthwhile and this was one of those years. So much lovely socializing, etc. And fun moments, like seeing the Tick in the hottub.

I saw a corpse flower this trip. That was really neat.

In WI, while canoeing with my family near my parents new house (under renovation- they are gutting it and rebuilding, its intense and my brother is completely wrapped up in working on it- when they finish it I look forward to vacationing with them as often as I can) in a bay off of Lake Superior, I saw Sandhill Cranes for the first time. They were sitting in reeds only 10 feet away from us and didn't get freaked out at all, they just looked at us calmly. That sighting is one for my birding lifelist.

The fireworks in Bayfield WI over Lake Superior were awesome. The lake made the noise from them really interesting, the lake shaved off the high end. The reflections off the lake were also great. And the audience did not do that crazy "ooooh, aaaaah" nonsense, they just clapped after the most impressive fireworks.

I highly recommend the Thirsty Pagan in Superior WI, good pizza and fun beer. We had a sour beer (so odd, difficult to describe) and a wheat beer brewed with spruce tips, which was awesome, shades of Earl Grey tea. I wish the microbreweries in NC would innovate a bit more, I've had so many intriguing beers in middle of nowhere N Wisconsin and not in NC.

We didn't bring our camera, I took a few with my phone but they aren't great. Maybe I'll manage a little album eventually. I kind of regret not taking more pics of Con. Oh well.
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Migraining yesterday and today has put a bit of a damper on the trip. I had a feeling once the prednizone I was taking for the horrible poison ivy rash ran out I would start back up with the head ache, and yeah, so it goes. I'm taking it very easy today. The pills kept things back just enough for me to go out to a nice breakfast at Hells Kitchen, meet a friend for coffee and go play frisbee with my high school D and D gang last night (which was good fun, if a bit of a "oh god we are old and unfit now" moment), but it was still uncomfortable. Today I'm really scaling back, I skipped the family in law brunch in the morning and plan on making a vegan cake and getting packed to go bright and early tomorrow and that's about it. I was going to try to squeeze a few more folks in, but I apologize, I'm feeling quite woozy and its not happening. I need to save energy for the party this evening.

I love driving in the Twin Cities, because there are multiple ways of getting every where and I can actually orient myself easily. This is in contrast to NC, where I'm always on the verge of being lost and my anxiety level while driving is always high as a result.

I visited the Hampton Park Co-Op for vegan sugar, I was amazed that it was still around. Super expensive, but still there, and seemingly doing well. I got a cookie and walked around the little green space across from it. That was nice. I wish there were more parks with paths where I live. I really could take more advantage of the State Park near my house, though I worry about walking there alone.

Sigh. I do not want to go back to NC and not vacationing. Which is a little childish, but there we are. I'm all ready being inundated with emails from my research team about things that need to happen immediately upon my return (which is completely silly- there really is no need for this kind of urgency and I'm going to have to have a talk with them about that). This is not to mention the fact that I really need to get my Historical Ecology course in some kind of reasonable shape so I can teach in August. And all the house crap that needs doing. And the book chapter that is due next month. Okay, thinking about all that is just making me more oogy. Time to bake a cake!
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Yesterday was a day that didn't launch well and I ended up falling asleep on the couch for a good part of it- I think I fell asleep after Uruguay scored a goal. I meant to call people, but it didn't happen. Oops. This was probably a necessary thing, I've been sleeping like crap because of leg/foot cramps- horrible leg and foot cramps along the sides and front of my legs where its hard to stretch. Usually they start out waking me up at 3 AM until I finally give up and just get up at around 5 or 6. This early rising business is so out of character for me and I'm finding it tedious.

We went to Brasa for lunch. I was a little disappointed after all the hype, I must admit. The idea is that roasted meat is front and center, Caribbean/soul food sides. The roasted meat was good, but they really needed more cohesion in the menu. And more flavor. The spicing was minimal. It actually reminded us the most of East African food, not Jamaican or soul/southern food per ce. And here was a French quality to it- lots of butter and cream in the sides (I guess to maintain veggie options), where I would have preferred they use the juices from all the meat they are roasting up. Still, a good meal.

I hung out with my friend Michelle in the evening and saw her lovely garden. She was complaining about all the bugs destroying her fruit etc. and how curious it was that her rural family never had such problems in their gardens. It occurred to me that a real problem for urban gardening is the missing bits of the ecosystem, there aren't enough bug eaters. If she had more animals in her garden, eating the bugs, she'd be getting more produce. I also think that's why my mum's garden does pretty well, she makes a large effort to encourage birds to visit. Sometimes I think I should work on my frog habitat project some more- it'd be nice if folks could encourage amphibians in urban spaces, tricky though it may be.

Today we are getting more Mom time in. I need to stop at Syurdyk's and pick up some local beer to bring back to NC too. And get stuff to make a cake. There will be vegan cake on Friday, especially if I keep getting up at 6 AM I'll have time to make it.
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Convergance was lovely, I do so enjoy seeing and chatting with all my peeps. And meeting random strangers who are amusing, like the couple of teen agers and older dude from Andover who I wound up playing an epic Mille Bournes game with. We made an error in the rules and the game lasted two hours. Very absurd. The Bollywood room party was good fun w/ good food. And I saw a strange movie, which was a campy low budget Japanese horror film called "Hausu" or "House." Entertaining... sort of? I got a piece of art, too, for the first time, which I look forward to hanging in my office (its a pen and ink forest/tumulus picture). Excellent time. We also went to the Original Pancake House not once but twice, and really, that's worth the trip up right there. I ate acres of food and it was lovely. So nice to be in the land where hashbrowns are hashbrowns and good.

Today, however, I went to Wisconsin to see my folks new house. The land and location (near Herbster, WI about a five minute bike to Lake Superior) are excellent, I approve of that. It occurs to me that there is enough land that friends could come up and camp, which would be nice. The house is... unfortunate. Thankfully my brother is a) an architect b) a contractor/carpenter and c) under employed in a month. So they are basically going to gut the place and start over. I spent the day measuring the house with my brother. The former owners are nuts, and essentially swindled my folks out of some cash by submitting a home insurance claim after the offer date and then not repairing the house with it- now my parents have to get the roof fixed before the house can be fully insured. One of the sibling sellers, near as I can tell, deliberately left things in the house so that they would have an excuse to come and get them (they left a note to that effect). Having a bit o' trouble letting go there. Locks will be changed and a gate put up post haste.

And I got to visit Ashland! Ashland is one of my very favorite small towns and is a half hour away from my folks new place. I spent a lot of time there when I was an intern doing archeological survey for the BIA. It did not match my memory perfectly, in some ways it has improved, in others, not so much. There is a food co-op now, which is awesome. More murals, again, pretty cool. The Black Cat coffee shop is still there. And there is now a brew pub, where we had dinner. I had a Mint Coffee Burbon Milk Stout which was excellent, though it almost read more as "cocktail" than beer. I wish I could try their Lavender/Wood Betony Milk Stout as well, I expect that would be fantastic (they were out today). The bad about Ashland is that chain stores have moved in with a vengeance and the water front area has gotten a bit built up with them, the stately white inn was all alone and stately 14 years ago, and now its surrounded and has lost some of its stateliness as a result.

I wonder where my husband is. I cut him loose for the day, but I was expecting he'd return at some point. Not sure what to make of this. Le sigh.
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The drive here was excellent, except Indiana which seems irredeemable.

I was despairing of our countries future because of the ocean of corn we were driving through. The details of that despair are for another post. I really wanted to see statues of boats in the corn. But then, in Illinois, we smelled mint. There were mint fields in amongst the corn and scattered soy beans. That was nice.

The architecture of the farm houses in Southern Ohio was fantastic. Such great farm houses. With the ocean of corn, the barns are all falling down, no need for hay. I really wish there could be some historic preservation of these structures.

West Virginia is gorgeous. We will be taking some trips there. I get why they are economically depressed though. There is nothing but steep mountains. Hard to do anything.

Its always a shock to see all the new tall buildings when we come to the Twin Cities. Poor old Dinky Town.
And some new restaurants. I like the Tea House today, weird to think about eating pie in vinyl booths there (being a former Bakers Square). It was good to see my old friend Mel too.

Driving is funny too. Today we saw that the speed limit on 280 was 50 and we bust out laughing. I can't think of a road in a city that big that would have anything under 55. And then no one drives under 75 in NC. Anywhere. Its like being in slow motion driving here.

So nice being in MN. If anyone wants to see us, our schedules are pretty free. Now we are off to take photos of things and maybe do some used book shopping.
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So, we're coming up for Convergence and will be around a few days prior and a few days afterward.

I'm thinking I want to have a meet and greet somewhere, maybe the evening of Tuesday the 29th. [livejournal.com profile] sarendipatree is having his b-day party on the 9th of July at the home of the lovely [livejournal.com profile] echogami (if details are wanted email him- he's being pokey about getting the word out and could use a poke, I'm tired of nagging), but not all my peeps know him and I'd like a separate event I could invite my friends to.

Does anyone have suggestions as to what would be a good venue for such a thing? I want somewhere that will accommodate some people, will be comfortable for me to hang out in by myself in case no one shows up (you never know), and allows for circulation of folks. Food would be a bonus. I was thinking of the Kitty Cat Club, but parking around there is such a PITA I'm not sure about that.

Also, if you'd like to show up but can't make it that day, at this point things are flexible.

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