Saturday, October 25, 2014

Minnesota Nice

It is natural to become accustomed to whatever your environment offers.  For example, when people around you are harried and unfriendly, you expect people to be harried and unfriendly.  That is the case in New York.  As much as I love my hometown, people in general are anxious, rushed and usually indifferent to strangers.  When pressed, they'll even snarl at you.

That attitude is expressed in a local joke. How do you ask for the time in New York?  You go up to someone and say, "Excuse me, Sir  Could you please tell me the time or should I just go fuck myself?"

So it is a culture shock for me to visit Minnesota.  The people here are so different.  They smile as if they know you.  They're friendly for no good reason.  The first few times it happened yesterday, I was unnerved and reflexively grabbed my wallet.  I wondered, "What's the scam?"  In New York, if someone focuses on you with friendliness, they're probably planning to steal your money.

But here they were just being nice!  How odd.  How pleasant.

I mentioned this to Beth and she used a phrase I haven't heard before - "Minnesota nice."  I looked it up and discovered the phrase even has its own meaning on Wikipedia.  That section explains: "Minnesota nice is the stereotypical behavior of people born and raised in Minnesota to be courteous, reserved, and mild-mannered. The cultural characteristics of Minnesota nice include a polite friendliness, an aversion to confrontation, a tendency toward understatement, a disinclination to make a fuss or stand out, emotional restraint, and self-deprecation. It can also refer to traffic behavior, such as slowing down to allow another driver to enter a lane in front of the other person."
Toto, we're not in New York any more...  Each of these behaviors is the opposite of what you expect from people in the Big Apple.
I had a wonderful time visiting Beth.  I met her charming husband Nate and adorable little Ollie.  They're a lovely family.  I visited their home which reminds me strongly of the house I grew up in (e.g., it has a finished basement, used for socializing).  Nate's hobby is brewing beer and he's as passionate about that as I am for motorcycling. 
Nate taught himself the craft of brewing beer and has become very skilled at it.  He brews a variety of different flavors.  He even had a blog about his hobby which, though now dormant, has good information on it.  Nate and Beth are deservedly proud of a full-sized bar Nate built from scratch in their basement; it has seven  taps for beer to flow out of kegs hidden beneath.  The bar is beautifully decorated with real tile and even has polished labels above each tap describing the specific flavor of the beer.  I tried both Raspberrry Porter and Ginger Snap-flavored beers; both were delicious.
Last week, Nate and Beth had an Oktoberfest party in their basement with 30 of their friends.  Beth said they have one every year but skipped last year due to her pregnancy.

Here are pictures of their basement-bar pulled from Nate's blog:

 You quickly get a sense of people when meeting them in person.  Beth showed me her neighborhood, including where her extended family grew up and lives.  She told me about her choir-singing, her job and co-workers, and her friends.  Open and friendly, Beth showed genial hospitality to an out-of-towner and displayed an easy-going nature.  We capped the visit with a terrific meal at a nice restaurant, during which I was introduced to a tasty local beer from Surly Brewing Co.  (I was disappointed to learn that you can't buy Surly beer outside of the region.)
Meeting Beth, Nate and Ollie was a great way to begin my trip to this foreign land.  Now I just need to find a Currency Exchange booth to convert my New York bucks into local Minnesota money.  I hear their bills are designed to be snow-resistant.  :-)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Down Under In Oz!

The magical pink boxing gloves continue their journey around the world. Today, they are in Australia. Yes, the Southern Hemisphere! How cool is that?!

My friend Luan has an attractive blog (Green Tea And Cupcakes) and she wanted a crack at wearing the gloves. She did a terrific job. Her outfit, background and even makeup beautifully complement the gloves. And the big smile on her face is proof of the joy this project can spread.

Go visit Luan's blog and say hello!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Bevy Of Bloggers

I'm going away Friday!  To visit four wonderful blogger-friends whom I've never meet in person before.  I'm so excited I could scream!


As you know, I've had over a dozen blogger meet-ups but almost all have been here in New York.  They happened because people from out-of-town came to the Big Apple for other reasons and included me in their plans.  Friday, I'm acting on my own initiative -- I'm flying to Minnesota for no reason other than to visit my blogger-friends. 

I'm looking forward to meeting Beth, Ashley and the Two Birds, Megan & Nora.  All have charming online personalities which I'm sure are mirrored in real life.

BethMegan and Nora live in Minneapolis; Ashley lives a three hour car-ride north in Duluth.  Arriving at the airport, I'll pick up a rental car to have mobility during my four-day stay.

While visiting Beth, I'll get to meet her husband Nate and son Oliver.  I know every mother says their child is the cutest in the world, but Ollie is indeed the most handsome little fella you ever saw.  If you don't believe me, feast on his adorable little face here.

Ashley is throwing a Halloween party which promises to be a blast.  She's having games, food and friends.  The best way to spend a Saturday night, in my opinion.  Hopefully I'll join her for brunch on Sunday, too.

Megan & Nora invited me to sushi with them which sounds like fun.  They are sisters and seem to get along better than most siblings.  They share a single blog which is quite remarkable.

Do you know these charming women?  If not, you should visit their blogs.




Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Earrings -- Good or Evil?

One of the blogs I read regularly is Une Femme d'un Certain Age.  The blogger is my age and she often displays interesting ideas and clothes.  In her last post, she raised the subject of earrings.  Commenting on it, I reflected on two experiences I had years ago.  I thought you might enjoy hearing the stories so I'm going to share them with you.

Earrings have existed for centuries, with changing cultural significance.   The blogger told a story from her youth.  Despite the blogger's pleas, her mother forbid her from wearing earrings because "only loose women" do that.  Of course, her mother was associating earrings with sexual promiscuity. 

I can top that story.  I had a grandmother who issued a similar ban to my mother.  She told my mother that “the only people who wear earrings are cannibals and Italians.”  (Sorry, Italians!)

Earrings have even more cultural meaning when it comes to men. When I was a teenager back in the 1970's, very few straight men wore earrings.  If they did, it mattered greatly which ear they pierced.  One ear was perceived to be gay [the right one]; the other not [the left one].  I was hip and bohemian back then so I asked my artist-girlfriend to pierce my (non-gay) ear.  She did it painfully with an ice-cube and needle.  I had long hair so the earring wasn’t immediately obvious.  I was living at home with my parents.  One day at dinner, my mother looked at me, did a double-take, and then moaned loudly, “Oh, my God! What did you do this to me?!!”

Do you wear earrings?  Are you a loose woman or cannibal?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

World Series

Okay!  Now we know who's playing the World Series -- Kansas City Royals (who haven't been there in 29 years [1985]) and San Francisco Giants (who won two years ago).

I'm rooting for the Royals because they play with heart.  Who do you want to win?  (Go ahead and pick a team even if you don't care for sports -- life is more fun when you root for somebody.)

Five years ago, I travelled to Kansas City in search of world-class BBQ.  I tried nine restaurants in one week.  On the spur of the moment, I decided to take in a ballgame.  I saw the Royals play in beautifully-renovated Kauffman Stadium.  I got great seats, picked up right at the stadium, for a fraction of what seats cost in New York ($32).

Playing that day was the hottest new pitcher in baseball, Zack Greinke.  After demonstrating his talent, Greinke moved on to a bigger market; he now plays for the L.A. Dodgers.

While in K.C., I picked up a baseball with the team's emblem on it.  I have one from every baseball stadium I've visited.  They are nice mementos of trips.

In case you're curious, the best BBQ in K.C. is Arthur Bryant's BBQ (  Also excellent are B.B.'s Lawnside BBQ ( and Jack Stack BBQ (

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Our Legal System

You can't make this stuff up.

A young woman named Megan works for the City of St. Paul, Minnesota. She was driving a city van recently when she accidentally hit a parked car. The car happened to be her own.

 She is now going to sue the city, arguing that a negligent city-worker (herself) caused damage to her personal vehicle. "Because I was working for the city and driving the city vehicle, I feel they are responsible for paying for the damage done to my car," says Megan.

The story was widely reported and can be seen here.

What do you think of Megan's claim?  In New York, we say she has chutzpah.

Friday, October 17, 2014

In My Underwear

You're probably not aware how limited men's underwear is.  There are shirts (v-neck or round-collar) and shorts (briefs or boxers).  That's it.  Nothing else.

Women have a delightful array of undergarments.  There are slips, camisoles, girdles, lingerie, bras and panties of every variety.  Visiting a new thrift-store last month, I found a wonderful petticoat for $6.  I'm not sure what I'll wear over it but I want to show it to you.  So, risking modesty, here it is...

I find the garment attractive by itself.  It creates a nice silhouette and feels sensual on my legs.

Have you ever worn anything like this?