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Harold Washington, Art Institute of Chicago and Magnetic Fields!! by Ann Treacy
November 19, 2021, 7:44 pm
Filed under: Chicago

We worked our magic so that we could have a full day of fun in Chicago. Lily and I stayed downtown so we were close to lots of art. We found some bonus art at the Harold Washington Library. (Where I used to take classes!) First, the library is beautiful and it’s always fun to get a sneak peek into a city through the local library. We ran into Above and Beyond, a Vietnam War Memorial that is comprised of 58,307 dog tags hanging from the ceiling above the staircase in the library. Each represents someone from the armed forces who was killed in Vietnam and each dog tag shows their name, casualty date and military branch. There is one black dog tag for those who have died after the war from conditions related to the war. It’s moving. We did wonder about they might include or represent everyone who died or was left victim. (We have some ideas.)

Then we headed to the Art Institute of Chicago! We especially loved Thinking of You I Mean Me by Barbara Kruger. The art is in your face. It’s as much text and audio as imagery. The messages are loud and bold and contorted in a way that makes you feel a little queasy and disoriented. Then a creepy “I love you” chirps in the gallery. Aarggh. There’s a battle between love of oneself and love from another and how to attract each other and learn to live with ourselves and media.

The images say it all, yet don’t touch the impact. The size of messages of the wall are overwhelming. Some of the images are grotesque and shocking, yet every day. The challenge is recognizing the difference between the naturally grotesque and the artificially beautiful.  There’s something very human in recognizing the dehumanization we all ascribe to for ourselves and our loved ones. And there’s something empowering about recognizing it for what it is.

And then we saw so many of our favorites. Lily is a big fan of American Gothic. I’m always a sucker for Cindy Sherman. The Institute provides a quick list of their most popular, which we always try to check out. And the work that caught my attention for the first time (thanks to Lily) was Stamford after Brunch by John Currin; the three women on the couch with drinks. Amazingly creepy example of uncanny valley – that line between human and not quite.

We took a break by visiting a comic store (Lily’s passion) and resting until a lovely dinner with Katie and dad (aka grandpa) at Fremento’s. They were so accommodating and the food was delicious.

Then finally the raison d’etre – Magnet Fields at City Winery. I have to admit I was nervous at first because it was a seated/tabled event but felt like an airplane – but dark and where you aren’t allowed to talk. Fortunately for us the people behind Katie were not adhering to the no talking so she asked if we could move and scored us an amazing table with lots of space. Yay Katie! They didn’t play a long set but they played many of my favorites from 69 Love Songs. And played a new favorite, My Stupid Boyfriend. The Magnet Fields are able to capture the humor of our darkest thoughts and there’s comfort in hearing them saying out loud something you might feel guilty about even thinking. Lily and I both love them. I’ve seen Stephin Merritt but never the whole band. So this was definitely a bucket list event. Katie had not seen them but their music is so good, she loved it too.

The Bean, CMA and Christmas windows in Chicago by Ann Treacy
November 19, 2021, 3:42 pm
Filed under: Chicago

We arrived in Chicago on Wednesday for our mini-vacation to see Magnetic Fields but we budgeted a couple of days of fun too. Lily and I are stayed downtown for the night. First thing we did, ran out to see The Bean. It was rainy and coldish but it’s always fun to see it.

Then we took a walk down Michigan Avenue.

We got into the Museum of Contemporary Art downtown Chicago for free. We were there less than 30 minutes before close and we were going to give it a miss and they kindly invited us in. We saw the two roving exhibits. Christina Quarles was interesting and Lily’s favorite. She focuses on bodies entwined and often mashed up. I love her hands and feet feel like they are reaching out from somewhere much deeper than the painting. Some of her work has a political backdrop – mostly because anything done in the last four or five years is political if you’re a women or BIPOC. I loved the way she used song lyrics in the works.

I also enjoyed Bani Abidi, which is overtly political. His work, The Man Who Talked Until He Disappeared, looks at the clash between power and media and our view of ourselves and what we’ll do to change our view or the view of others. Sometimes that means going the extra yard to hope that people outside of your community see you and sometimes it’s going an extra year to be more than you are.

Back to Michigan Avenue we got a glimpse at Christmas Windows, which may actually be on State Street – either way we were impressed with the bold move to a new holiday story.

And finally Lily picked out our nighttime venue. We went to the Empty Bottle to see Idle Ray and the Dry cleaning. Idle Ray had an interesting thing where all of their banter was pre-recorded. Very intriguing. The Dry Cleaning are from London, with a less cheerful Courtney Barnett feel. Really like them!

Musical vortex, quick beautiful sunset, steak send off: Girls trip to AZ Day five by Ann Treacy
October 20, 2021, 3:54 pm
Filed under: Arizona

On our final full day we hiked around Boynton Canyon Vortex. When we got there we heard the music coming from the vortex. Someone was playing a flute sitting on top of a rock formation. Or it was an apparition – who can say? (You can watch the video and decide for yourself!)

We hiked around for 7 miles. The terrain went from red rock to forest to beach and back again. Getting to the top felt like an accomplishment. (It was up but not steep, so even I could do it.) After the long hike, we trekked the quick trip to the vortex.

The vortex is a spiritual center; the Boynton Vortex is a balance of masculine and feminine energies stemming from the energy of a rock formation called Kachina Woman and the nearby knoll, which has masculine energy. I bravely walked to the outside of the formation, not to be confused with the top.

I’m trying to be open to the mystical nature, although that’s not always a good fit for me. I did make a wish like it was a birthday cake or 4-leaf clover; two things I feel I do understand.

We also caught a gorgeous sunset by the Mesa airport. And heading for a lovely steak dinner while we listened to someone play popular tunes on a guitar harp. We had a very lovely last night!

Super windy walking around the Grand Canyon: Girls trip to AZ Day Four by Ann Treacy
October 19, 2021, 3:14 pm
Filed under: Arizona

Turns out the Grand Canyon is just two hours (and change) from Sedona – so we went to visit yesterday. I say that like it wasn’t planned but it was. Most of the group went down toward the bottom on the Angel Bright trail. One of us walked around the Canyon because the trails down are too steep for me, especially as people pass.

But being honest, I had a super lovely day. It was chilly and windy but very sunny. I walked 10 miles from the Visitor Center to the Pima Point on the south rim. I think I was walking about three hours. Plenty of time to stop and take pictures and of course one video to show how windy it was. Then when the others were done with their hike, I just shuttled back.

I think it would be fun to spend a whole day walking the entire south side. I’m not sure if it’s the same set up on the north rim but I’d add that in too. It’s amazing to see how the shadows and sun impact the views. The walk is pretty easy and yet, I didn’t see very many people. There are places where you stomach drops if you’re afraid of heights but those are easily avoided. Honestly I was more afraid of being swept away that slipping!

Monica did most of the driving there and back. She has done most of the driving – and for that I’m thankful. Also I think the spirits around us rewarded her with caribou and elk on our drive out of the park!

Cathedral Rock climb and art in Tlaquepaque: Girls’ trip to AZ Day three by Ann Treacy
October 18, 2021, 3:38 pm
Filed under: Arizona

We started out a hike to the top of Cathedral Rock today – we quickly ended up with a hike around Cathedral Rock. A hike straight up will never be a good hike for me. I pulled the rip cord about 20 percent of the way up. And we decided to take a longer hike around the mountain (or rock or whatever we’re calling big hills here).

It was a nice 6-7 mile walk up and down. We found a river and a fun place for a photo shoot. It wasn’t as crowded and we dipped into and out of the shade, which was easy temperature control.

In the afternoon we checked out Tlaquepaque Village. It has tons of fancy shopping and lots of art. Some folks went shopping and got wonderful treasures; one person hiked all around and took pictures of art and got another 4 miles under her belt. It is a fun area – very touristy but not unpleasantly so.

For dinner we found a fun Mexican restaurant with a Flamenco band right outside. We even got in a little dancing!

Church on Hill in Sedona: Girls trip to Arizona Day Two by Ann Treacy
October 17, 2021, 3:41 pm
Filed under: Arizona

It’s a gorgeous day in Arizona. Sunny, as promised. Hot during the day, a little chilly at night. We drove from Phoenix from Sedona, which is a little bit of a haul. But worth it. We stopped by the Church on the Hill (Chapel of Holy Cross),which is the only thing I knew yet still a super favorite.

The Chapel is built into the side of the hill in Sedona. It was built in 1956. Marguerite Brunswig Staude got an idea in 1932 to build a church in Budapest inspired by the Empire State Building. It is gorgeous to look at it’s gorgeous to look from – it’s surrounded by the red rocks.

The crucifix in the church is spectacular too; it’s newer than the church itself. The whites of the eyes are stark and yet so imploring and pained.

After the church we hiked around. It was an easy hike – but from our hike we could see serious rock climbers traversing a huge rock or mountain or whatever we call them here. It made my palms sweat but they seemed to know what they were doing and we never heard any sirens so I’m assuming the best.

We also stopped at an art fair – where some folks made little purchases, someone is thinking about a major purchase (all beautiful) and one of us made a skeletal friend. And we had a very lovely dinner at Cucina Rustica.

Girls trip to Arizona Day One: Willie Nelson and the Outlaw Tour by Ann Treacy
October 16, 2021, 2:56 pm
Filed under: Arizona

Know what makes a few crazy busy weeks at work easier? Finishing the week with a vacation with friends. I’m in Arizona with Monica, Anne and Jennifer. They have planned almost all of it, which is definitely a gift to me. I just follow along. Except for the first night, but I’ll get to that.

We landed, dealt with all of the hassles of flying and getting a car and then headed to a lovely late lunch at Taco Guild. It is a gorgeous restaurant inside a Methodist Church built in 1893. The stained glass is amazing –  although it’s difficult to see in the picture because our heavenly hue got in the way. The altar bar would make any Catholic crazy jealous. And the food was delicious!

The we booked into the hotel and rested a bit because … and this was my *only* contribution to the planning … we had tickets to Willie Nelson and the Outlaw tour at AK- Chin at night! The lineup was great we saw the tail end of Gov’t Mule (pun intended), The Avett Brothers and Willie. It was an outdoor amphitheater that seats up to 20,000. We were definitely in the nose bleed section but it felt close – not front row close but definitely in the mix. The sound was great.

Turns out everyone knew more Avett Brothers than they thought and Willie was amazing. It’s pretty stripped down – Willie on stage with a guitar and some folks backing him up. (Sadly his older sister who often plays with him was missing.) His voice wasn’t as strong a first time I saw in at the MN State Fair probably frightening close to 40 years ago – but the guitar playing is still amazing and he never missed a beat.

First day of vacation – big win!!

MN State Fair 2021: Music, art, vegan food and fewer crowds by Ann Treacy
September 7, 2021, 3:23 am
Filed under: St Paul

We missed the Minnesota State Fair last year because of the pandemic. Most of us went this year, but in shifts. Dad (aka Grandpa) and I went in the morning. We had some yummy food like cheese curds and Sweet Martha’s Cookies. We walked around to the DFL booth, Education Building and some others. I’ve heard up to 200 exhibitors have backed out of the Fair this year. It seems like many, if not most of State Departments have ducked out. No calendars at the Education Building. No going inside the MN DNR. That and the light crowds were signs of the time. Even with the lighter crowds, we avoided certain areas and wore masks in buildings.

We had a break for a car wash cookout. (Where Billy has a BBQ at the car wash, which conveniently is where we park to go to the Fair!) Dad went home and Lily and Kate arrived. We found all (maybe not all) of the vegan options for them. We also checked out some art. It’s always fun to see the subversive seed art. I am going to try to create a subversive work for next year. (I am a seed art pro, at least based on the Zoom class I took during the pandemic.) We also went to the Fine Arts Building. They have some incredible artists and such a wide range. Plenty of art recognizing the year of civil unrest.

We also had some random treats like the giant rubber duck, bull riding and the cows. Lily was disappointed that the Miracle of Birth building was closed. (I was not.) She loves to see the baby animals. We were just in time for the parade and we got in plenty of steps. (Clocked in 13 miles today!) I also got a glimpse at the MN DNR Wall of Shame, which highlights animals that have been poached. I was on the look for a deer that we used to see down at Wita Tanka and we haven’t seen for a while. I didn’t see him, but I saw a few others.

Finally the music. I’m always amazed at the wide range of free music at the Fair. I stopped to see three acts (Mae Simpson, Yam Haus and Rosie Flores) and enjoyed each but also it’s just fun to see and see the music as you walk by various parks and bars.

I walked 40 miles – in 12ish hours at a FANS Ultra Race by Ann Treacy
August 29, 2021, 7:22 pm
Filed under: St Paul

I want this saved for when I’m old and no one will believe I could do it. Yesterday I did a 12 hour walk. I suspect I walked just shy of 40 miles. But because I walked home after midnight (so more like Friday night but technically Saturday) and walked (to get places) after the race, I absolutely walked 40 miles.

I joined a FANS Ultra Race, the proceeds go to college and career mentorship program for high school students, specifically working with students of color, recent immigrants, and other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education. Heather got me into the race. She runs all of the time. She ran the race yesterday. Here’s a glimpse of how it went for the novice first-timer.

The race started at 8am. The track is a two-mile loop around Fort Snelling Lake. I know that area very well. People come from all over the world for the race. There was a guy in his 80s who has run every one of these. There was a guy who was hoping to get a world record. The deal is you can walk or run for 6 hours, 12 hours or (wait for it!) 24 hours.

I mostly walked it alone listening to music. (Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Playlist for me – it was very helpful!)  If it hadn’t been for the blisters (turns out sock choice matters), I would have felt no pain. It was hot and sultry and there were reports of thunderstorms all day. But the path is pretty shaded. There were to stops for water and I got a cup at each at every stop. I think that was my key to success. I didn’t eat anything partially because I didn’t want to stop.

They weigh you and if you lose too much weight, they make you stop. My first hope was that this might happen. Can you imagine a better win-win situation? You get to stop and you’ve lost weight! (Going by my scale I lost just over a pound from Saturday to Sunday. Probably bad math to have this be my weight loss plan.) Also I thought they might call the race if it poured ran or saw lightning.  We got caught in huge burst of rain and lightning. But it cleared up before we really had a chance to quit.

One of the volunteers noted on my last lap that I looked exactly as I did the first lap, which was true. Except due to weather my hair was curlier. Walking is the best because it doesn’t beat you up. The runners were amazing to see. But then they were very sweaty and then there were painfully stretching and then some were laying flat out. God love those real athletes, but walking is where it’s at!

Kallie walked a few of the last laps with me, which was a huge help. Really though I wasn’t super hurting. The last part of the race they have us on a smaller track. And it was nearly dark and the fast runner are trying to eke out every last mile they can. While some of us turtles wonder what the heck we’re doing. Remember Vacation, “look kids, Big Ben, Parliament.” That’s what it felt like – and there was no way to get off at that pint. Luckily that was only for 10 minutes and then I was done. And gotta admit it, I was proud of myself.

And an hour later I was at the Icehouse watching Happy Apple!

Help Monica and Ann Eat with the Pioneer Press at the Minnesota State Fair by Ann Treacy
August 8, 2021, 11:44 pm
Filed under: St Paul

The Minnesota State Fair is having a contest to win a trip to the Fair with Eat editor Jess Fleming as she samples her way through the 2021 new foods. I think Monica and I are the perfect walking companions to offer our opinion on the best the fair has to offer!

First, we are the best walkers for touring the Twin Cities. Last year, we walked a whole marathon in a day. Two years ago, we led a nighttime walk with Governor Walz and Lt Governor Flanagan to meet people experiencing homelessness. Often we grab our pickers and pick up trash walk on the shores of the Mississippi at Wita Tanka and folks seem to enjoy our #whatIsawonmywalk posts.

Second, we are huge State Fair fans. When my daughters were little, I started a tradition of creating a scavenger hunt each year for the Fair. That morphed into a big Treacy Family tradition of three generations wearing matching shirts and competing with the annual scavenger hunt. Last fall, Monica and I lit up the State Fair with the Love Vote Rise message.

We’re brave, we’re opinionated and like a diversity of food! And we’ve been walking all over the Twin Cities building up an appetite.

So how can you help? It seems like part of what the Pioneer Press would like to see in a contest winner is someone (or people) with a little social media muscle. And between now and the contest deadline, we will be posting periodic messages about how awesome we would be at the Fair. On Twitter and Instagram we’ll use the tag: #getustothemnstatefair and/or you look for posts on Facebook (from me or Monica). If you wouldn’t mind taking a second to like or comment on a random post, it might help!

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