Up to Date – September 20

Okay guys, I intended to write individual and detailed blog posts for a whole bunch of really great experiences I had this summer. But I’m sick, which always leads me to make rash decisions. Luckily for me, when I’m sick and online, the repercussions are only the cyber kind. So, decision: I refuse to put in the up front time it would take to get myself current, so I’m going to give you a nice little digest of the rest of my summer. Then we’re all going to agree to feel satisfied with my life and times up to the present. All in favor?

Quick succession of posts:

A train: throwback fun!

May: I went to the Spiral Jetty for my first time ever. The water was candy pink. My legs got salt-encrusted. Thanks for playing photo shoot, Mike! We also saw a train.

Me at the Spiral Jetty, Great Salt Lake.

Such an adorable party animal!

July 15: I went to the birthday party of this really adorable baby. For the record, Arjun throws the best parties!

I made this.

 

July 21: I participated in a Relief Society Cupcake War activity. I’d been eating leftover aristocrat heads all week, so I donated my cupcakes to charity (i.e., Desiree).

July 27: Lauren and I had been apartment hunting our brains out. We took a break at Cupcake, and it was exactly like every other cupcake boutique, except that the porch was all construction rubble.

August sometime: I ate at Acadia Cafe. They have these cookies that are baked with rays of heavenly glory and delivered fresh on an hourly basis by angels from on high. So melted-chocolatey good.

August 10: My little brother Steven got a cell phone. We texted a lot, and he even took my call while he was air softing. That’s love.

August 13: I attended Shabbot at the Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul. It’s a reformed congregation, and the services there are a party! Judaism is all about celebrating that you even get to be alive, and that’s fun to do through hymns that you clap along to! Also, a little boy got to be Bar Mitzvah. His voice was changing even as he sang the Torah. And people threw candy at him to signify the sweetness of the occasion! In a church!

August 13: I ate at Spoon River, and it was sorta chintzy. It was my first experience with mock duck, and I liked it. I also had this crazy salted ice cream called Nicollet Avenue Pot Hole at Sebastian Joe’s which I’d suggest, but which Michael thought went overboard on the sodium. Hypertension!

Also sometime in August: I ate a lot of Vietnamese food in Frogtown (my neck of the woods in St. Paul), all of which was pretty good. I haven’t decided, but I might prefer mock duck to tofu. I’ll let you know.

August 14: I made some molasses bread that was not very good (Megan ate it and said nice things, anyway!), and I watched the movie Hitch for the first time, and it was very good. Laughs!

August 15: I ate at Birchwood Cafe (hipster paradise) and reunited with Marla, with whom I spent Thanksgiving in Scotland in 2004.

August 18: I attended another Talmud class as the Temple of Aaron. The main things I learned were that several favorite Old Testament books are literary fiction and historically impossible: Esther! I also learned that Jews believe the Sabbath is the holiest of holy days. So much so that you shouldn’t even ask for anything (except for health) in prayers on the Sabbath because the Lord is resting, too.

August 19: I ate at Mango Thai in St. Paul… I think I ate mock duck then, too. Both the food and the service were great! Super prompt. I also had some sweet sticky rice dessert; I want to say it was the coconut one, but I don’t want to lie to you.

August 20: I went to Shabbat at the Temple of Aaron. Larry, the ritual director who teaches my Talmud classes, asked me to read the prayer for country, which was especially sweet. It was one of the only prayers in English!

August 20: I saw Captain America. Pretty good! I agree with this review.

Lanterns at Como Park

August 21: I went to the Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival at the Como Park Conservatory! The botanical gardens were cool; people in anime costumes were cool; floating lanterns all about the lake in honor of the dead was cool. Win!

August 23: I saw HMS Pinafore at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. It wasn’t quite as good as the Sideshow Bob rendition, but I understood the plot this time! I enjoyed the view of the city from the Guthrie’s poorly named “endless bridge.”

August 25: I attended another Talmud class at Temple of Aaron. Larry was kind enough to tailor the lesson to my ignorant needs by focusing on the prayers of the Shabbat service. My favorite thing I learned was that one of the first things read in a Jewish service is Psalm 96:1: “O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth.” This is seen as a command to daily say something new in thanks to the God. We ought to never take His bounty lightly nor forget the splendor of our very existence.

August 26: I attended a Bassordion concert at Corner Coffee in Minneapolis. Guys, if you ever get a chance to see them play, go! Well worth it. You’ll wish you’d brought your polka shoes.

August 29-September 3: I camped in the Boundary Waters. So super beautiful/relaxing/gruelling! Kayaking, canoeing, portaging, camping, relaxing. I was with an ideal group (Thanks Shanna, Mark, Eric, and Jason!). Because I have spent approximately the same amount of my waking hours watching movies as not, the experience was very LOTR-reminiscent, and we have a reunion planned in which we will watch all three extended movies in one intense 12-hour day. You can see the camping photos here.

September 5: I moved to Prospect Park! I live at the highest spot in the Twin Cities, and in the shadow of this fun Witch’s Hat Water Tower, which, unfortunately, is open only one day per year. See you there next Memorial Day weekend! Also, my room was two inches too narrow for my bed frame the way I wanted to arrange it. Fortuitously, Ranell needed a bed frame. I bartered it to her for her bike, and the trade benefited all parties. Capitalism! Later, I decided I wanted my desk to be 9 inches narrower. Mark brought over a power saw, and we made short work of it.

September 6: School started. I’m now a second year MPH student. Debt!

September 7-11: My beloved Emily came to visit clear from Salt Lake City! We did many enjoyable things together. Among which were

  • Lunch at the Wienery,
  • Finally, a heat resistant waist band. All my problems are solved!

    A visit to the Minnesota History Center specifically for the very underwhelming Underwear: A Brief History exhibit (You will not learn about Egyptian or medieval underwear, only about a few specific lines of undergarments made by the Munsingwear company of Minneapolis.).

  • We ate at Franklin Freeze in Minneapolis, which is almost exactly the same as Conny’s Creamy Cone in St. Paul. They have 24+ flavors of soft serve ice cream! I have tried three of them. They do it by taking plain soft serve, mixing it with a flavored syrup in a little shake-cup, and then pressing it through a funnel-like contraption into a cone. At first I couldn’t figure out how they fit 24 soft serve machines in that tiny place (like how fro yo places each use separate machines). These people are geniuses, and their product is delicious! Also, each ice cream cone size (small/medium/large) comes in an actually different sized cake cone! I didn’t know they made actual cones  in different sizes! But they do!
  • Dinner at Black Sheep Pizza in St. Paul. It’s a coal fired pizza place that I feel corrects everything that was wrong about Punch Pizza‘s thin crust.
  • A visit to Fort Snelling and its associated memorial chapel. We couldn’t go into the chapel on account of a wedding happening right then, but the exterior aesthetics implied an internal continuity of such.
  • A visit to the Mall of America and Paciugo Gelato.
  • Shabbot at the Temple of Aaron.
  • A rendition of Handel’s Alcina put on by Mixed Precipitation theater company at the Skidmore Community Garden in St. Paul. Guys! Go see these people perform. They are a perfect mix of delicious food samples, opera, comedy, and all around good times! These people were so incredibly talented. I wish I weren’t sick and had the temperament to write a full review of this play. Suffice it to say that Laura Hynes Smith, Jameson Jon Baxter, and Molly Pan were fabulous as the leads (respectively Alcina, Ruggiero, and Bradamante the warrior maid), and I still giggle when I think of Lauren Drasler’s part as Morgana and Walter Gies as an enchanted fountain/violinist.
  • Crowd all ablaze.

    We went to a September 11 memorial concert at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. So many religions, so homogenized. But they trusted us all with candles!

September 14: I went to a class about the history of Rosh Hashanah at the Temple of Aaron. Initially, the big deal about Rosh Hashanah was that a loud blast would be made on a trump on that day. Now the big deal is that it’s 10 days before Yom Kippur, so it signifies a time to get introspective about how you want to start afresh.

September 16-18: I went to Nauvoo, Illinois for my first time ever. This place is like Epcot for Mormons. The Nauvoo Temple is the Disney Castle of all temples: super-bright-shiny-white on the outside and super bright colors on the inside. The historical sites were all informative and interesting, and the Trail of Hope was touching.

Carthage Jail, except it was raining like it does when sad things happen in movies.

My favorite thing about the visit was Carthage Jail. We got there two hours before it opened on Sunday, and an adorable missionary couple just happened to have shown up two hours early for their shift. They didn’t have keys, and it was raining. But, undaunted, they gave us a tour from the outside of the jail. Then someone showed up with keys and we got the regular treatment – movie and inside tour. I was touched by their devotion. I was also touched by the sacrifice Joseph and Hyrum made for their beliefs, and the kindness they showed others in their time of greatest duress. I only hope I can follow their example.

Bastille Day (Observed) – July 17

The Bastille. Formidable, no?

The first ShumwayPierre Chamois, a Huguenot, came from Deux Sevres, France in the late 1600s on account of religious persecution. Even though he missed the French Revolution, he was a big fan of liberty and not fond of the monarchy’s treatment of the little guy, and I like to carry on his legacy by eating delicious food and smashing a pinata on Bastille Day.

"Qu'ils mangent de la brioche," or, translated, "Let them eat cake." Also, please note my French peasant outfit.

 

July 14, 1789, the French peasantry tore down the Bastille fortress-prison brick from brick, symbolically sparking the French Revolution, the end of the Monarchy, and the commencement of the Utopian, socialist society that is modern day France.

I celebrated by making a cake using this  insanely delicious recipe from Julia Child’s The Way to Cook. Seriously kids, cake, in my mind, is the one-eyed gimpy vagabond of the dessert kingdom (Pie and his sloppy little brother, cobbler, wear the crown.), but this cake was a cut above its forbears. Middle class landowner, at least.

Cupcake representation of severed aristocrat heads. The Scarlet Pimpernel was too late to save these bourgeois repressors.

 

 

 

 

About this cake (which has a guillotine on it, if you can’t tell). The words “Let them eat cake” are commonly attributed to Marie Antoinette, she actually never said them. In fact, they were penned by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his book Confessions, and he attributed them not to her, but more vaguely to a remarkably obvlious “great princess” when she was told that the peasants had no bread.  The things you find out on Wikipedia.

As for the cupcakes, I felt a bit morbid making them, but I contacted a cousin of mine whom I frequently use as a moral guide when I have an idea that seems really, really great but edgy/illegal. She hasn’t led me astray yet, and she counseled that the French Revolution is a morbid holiday, in general. So if you’re going to celebrate it, you’ve got to revel in it. I was pleased with this response.

Like the French, we socked it to the monarchy with common household implements (that bat is a table leg).

People were generous enough to bring other delicious hors d’oeuvres, such as cheese puffs, sparkling cider, ice cream, crepes, bread, cheese, crackers, and similar deliciousness. Thanks guys!

We took out our rage against the establishment by beating up a Disney princess pinata which was full of French bread. Vers la bas avec l’aristocratie! Que le peuple mangent du pain! 

White Bear Lake – July 10

Endearing "White Bear" Lake street sign

One of my favorite things about living in the Land of 10,000 Lakes is that there are 10,000 lakes here. Anytime I’m bored of my latest running trail or walking in my neighborhood, I just drive a few minutes and I’m at some new beautiful lake. Such was the case Sunday, July 10. After church, I took a little drive up to White Bear Lake, wandered, sat on the shore and read The Botany of Desire, and took in the scene.. What follows is several pictures of my jaunt, just because I think they’re nice.

Here's where I sat and read about Johnny Appleseed, the American Dionysus, my back against a tree that he did not plant.

Ooooh.

Ahhhh.

This picture embodies everything I love about Minnesota: greenery, lakes, patriotism, and the use of cheerful trifles to veil caverns of secrets.

Independence Day

Independence Day was very nice. After taking the train back to NYC, we got some food at the Shake Shack. There’s something you need to understand about Shumways, and it is this: We love food. I was in college before I learned to consistently stop eating before making myself sick. “Full” is a relative term, and when there’s good food around, a Shumway will stretch the limits of satiation and belly elasticity. So, we each got a sandwich, and then an extra hot dog to share, and then several orders of fries, and diet cokes, and two shakes. It was America’s birthday, after all! Overeating of the highest degree was requisite!

Then we saw the movie Super 8 which will be its own post.

On our way back to buy chocolate and cookies at some chocolate and cookie boutique, we stopped to watch a trombone band performing under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Whenever I’m walking on cobblestones, I feel like I’m back in time. A group of some 10 men playing jazz trombone in matching white suits made me feel even more like I was in the Roaring 20’s. So that was a nice little anachronism.

Then, we went home and threw some shish kabobs on the barbeque, and enjoyed a lovely evening on my sis’s balcony.

The fireworks were blasted from six barges on Hudson River, which was totally unfair – allegedly they switch between the Hudson and Manhattan rivers every year, except they didn’t switch this time. Luckily, we could see them quite well going off on the other side of Manhattan Island, and when they were too low to see over the buildings, we just glanced in at the TV (which was in perfect view and was playing the music that was synced up with the display). So posh.

Afterward, Greg read the Declaration of Independence aloud, in what I assume is his best lawyer voice, and Charity played patriotic songs on her mouth trumpet (i.e., buzzed her lips into her hand, which she held conic like a loudspeaker).

All in all it was a gorgeous day, and I’d definitely sock it to any Englishman who got in the way of my having more like it. Patriotism!

Connecticut Beach House – July 3

A picture of fireworks being blasted from a boat that I found on Google Images.

My sis always spends the 4th of July weekend at her best friend from college’s family’s Connecticut beach house. This year we went along! We caught a train at Grand Central Station up to Connecticut. As gracious guests, we brought a delicious blueberry-gooseberry pie. (Tip: If you ever intend to make one, be wary that they’re both far sourer and far juicier than you’d anticipate. A dollop of ice cream does the trick with the flavor, and some wet wipes will clean up the blueberry juice you get all over your pants while toting the pie through a crowded subway.).

We spent the 3rd lounging about on the back porch of the beach house, eating delicious food and drinking sodas. Levi and I kayaked to an island upon which no mortal man has ever set foot on account of its being covered in smelly seagulls and their similarly scented droppings.

We had a front row view of the fireworks, which were set off from a boat in the bay. We also enjoyed many s’mores, and Charity oohed and ahed all the fireworks and wished America a happy birthday the entire show. Win, win, win, win. I consider the day a success.