Friday, April 24, 2009

Visiting Minneapolis

This week found me in Minneapolis for the second stop along the eight-city Autodesk Imagine 2010 product launch tour. Minneapolis is the only stop I'll make on the tour. It's an interesting city--a midwestern sensibility and friendliness with a lively energy, and unique history and demographic. For example, The Artist Formerly (or Currently?) Known as Prince is from Minneapolis. Another example: Minnesota has a long history of Nordic immigrants; however, one of my cab drivers was a lovely, warm, friendly man from Somalia and informed me that there is a huge Somalian community in the Twin Cities area (Minneapolis and St. Paul are just across each other from the mighty Mississippi River)--more than 100,000 Somalians call the Twin Cities home.

When I arrived, I met my rather famous Autodesk colleague, Eddie Perlberg, for a delightful dinner of Spanish tapas at Solera. Eddie and I deliver architectural design visualization webcasts together for Autodesk. As usual during my travels, I spared no expense (neither monetary nor caloric!), and we indulged in such delicacies as poached salmon with apple-celeryroot puree, deviled eggs with blue crab and cumin, and chorizo-stuffed dates with smoked bacon, all paired with lovely Spanish wines.

Despite the overall friendliness of the city, I was accosted a few times by rather vocal and energetic homeless people. One couple stopped me in a skyway and approached me a little too closely, asking for money for a bus fare to Milwaukee (see photo above--24-hour skyways connect many buildings downtown to protect pedestrians from wind and harsh weather during long winters). I suppose since I've recently colored my hair quite brightly red, another homeless man on a bike stopped me on the street and demanded to know--several times, and loudly--whether I was a real red-head.

At 3:30pm on Thursday afternoon, after the Autodesk launch tour sessions wrapped up and before I had to catch my 7pm flight back home to Albuquerque through Denver, I took one of my customary, big-city solo walks along Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. A concierge directed me to the avenue for its lively sidewalk bars, cafes, breweries, boutique shops, and mega-stores (Target headquarters is on Nicollet Mall, and stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Gap have huge flagships along the well-populated pedestrian avenue), and I got lost in more than a few of the enchanting boutique stores and fresh produce stands that lined the street.

Nicollet leads directly to the Mississippi riverfront. The sidewalks were so thick with happy-hour imbibers in suits and skirts, I wondered whether anyone works in Minneapolis. But I've also heard Nicollet is famous for its Mary Tyler Moore statue, honoring the star frozen in her hat-tossing 70s TV show iconic opening scene, just during the climax of the show's feminist anthem: "You're gonna make it after all!" People who know me well know that I HAD TO FIND AND SEE THIS STATUE FIRSTHAND. After all, I was often compared to Moore in my early twenties, perhaps for my choice of dress, my toothy smile, or my naive "can do" attitude. Whatever--it was flattering nonetheless! Unfortunately, I never found the statue and had to rush back to my hotel to grab my bags and hail a cab in time for my flight.

I only spent two days in the City of Lakes, but it reached out and shook my hand in a warm greeting that eagerly welcomed me back someday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gutter Mouth

Jon invoked alarming new swear words this week, all due to hanging gutters for the first time along our rooflines to capture the torrential rainwater we're expecting from New Mexico's annual monsoon season (usually July-Sept). This is a project we've been talking about since we first moved in more than 1-1/2 years ago, and I must say, he did a *stellar* job (see photo at left. Impressive, no?). It's not easy, and it's not cheap.

But it's worth every new swear word Jon has uttered.

The gutters will run along the rooflines of our home, our detached garage/workout room/tack room/barn (kind of a large structure), and the lean-to shed.

I don't have the exact calculations handy, but with even just one of these roof surfaces, one can catch a shitload of rainwater from even a very light sprinkle in the middle of a desert (Albuquerque only averages about 7 inches of rain a year). Forgive the swearing--it's contagious....

Anyway, the cubic feet of water we can collect from that small amount of rain will enable us to water our ever growing garden area all summer long and then some. If you don't believe us, well--we experienced it last year, albeit by collecting rain water from the roof in 5-gallon buckets and running them off to dump into our gargantuan water tank; however, if you need further proof:

Hey, we're not complete nut-jobs. Just practical. Viva el agua!

P.S. Credit goes to our friend Ethan for coining Jon's new moniker, "Gutter Mouth".