Well, after a big Bernie victory at Caucus this past Tuesday, I’m gonna take this week to talk not politics… but FUN. A few weeks back a young couple came into the bookstore. They were new to town and asked what kinds of things there were to do for fun in Alexandria. I was a bit stumped. What do I do? Well, Pizza Night at the Depot was about as good as I had for them but they planted a seed and so here are some of the wonderful things that have come to mind since they did.
The first obvious fun thing to do in Alexandria, which should have come to mind as I manned the counter at Cherry Street Books, is Saturday morning Story Hour!! Lee Becker does an wonderful job of interacting with the kids as they play games like parachute and hand clapping and rhyming. The stories she chooses are always delightful (likely due to her past life as a children’s librarian) and there is usually a project for the kids to have some hands-on play. It is so beautiful to see the parents having fun with their kids. I am very happy to have had some recent Saturday work hours to experience Lee’s Story Hour. She is marvelous.
I’m also super excited about the recent show at the Quad A – Over the River and Through the Woods. What a fantastic cast, a beautiful story, terrific staging and wonderful laughs and tears. This story will touch your heart and tickle your ribs. Allen Alvig (Great Grandpa Frank) will steal your heart from his first words with an accent that never falters. Ann Hermes is an adorable Jersey girl who dotes on her grandson Nick, played by Ty Blair. Randy Martin plays her husband, Nick’s Grandpa Nunzio, with flair. (They aged Randy so tremendously with make-up so I didn’t even recognize him!) The cast is rounded out with Great Gramma Aida (Cathy Snyder) who you just wish was your Gramma and super cool Caitlin (Brittany Wallerich) who may or may not break Nick’s heart. I have seen lots of great shows at Quad A, Alexandria’s own “Broadway”, but this is one I left hoping that EVERYONE makes an effort to see. Truly terrific.
This past weekend I saw my first ever Central Lakes Symphony Orchestra show, Symphony at the Cinema, and it was fabulous. The music was strong, well-played and directed with pizazz. This all-volunteer orchestra is outstanding. Alexandria is lucky to have such a talented community. Brad Lambrecht, the conductor, is quite entertaining. I was especially impressed with the trumpet section and oboe during the Star Wars numbers and the flutes and piccolo (as an old flautist, perhaps I am biased), strings, and the bassoon throughout. Kayla Noble was tremendous for the Titanic number. In fact, the chorale addition to the orchestra was quite stunning. We will return for the CLSO April 17th show at Calvary Lutheran Church. http://www.centrallakessymphony.org/ I also recommend Theatre L’Homme Dieu for shows in summer, but we’re a little ways from that at present. http://www.tlhd.org/ Be sure to come out for at least a couple shows this summer! Now that we’re entertained, how about some food?
The Depot is probably our favorite for mid-week dinner and weekend nightlife. They have great food – the pizza is the best in town for ready cooked, but I go to 2 Guyz for take-n-bake every time. Just next door to our iconic landmark, Big Ole, and planted on the Central Lakes Trail, The Depot is a favorite spot for hikers and bikers in summer and snow mobilers in winter. Pizza Night Monday is our favorite but Ribs on Sunday are super too ~ there are dinner specials every night of the week. Happy hour runs 4-7 with half price drinks and appetizers – I always get the Potato Wedges. Yum. http://depotalex.com/
Our other favorite eatery is Mi Mexico. https://www.facebook.com/mi.mexico.58/ As a Celiac, I love the fact that I can eat almost anything on the menu without worry… I just have to avoid the quesadillas. This is a regular stop for us and our favorite waiter is Ramon. The waiters are friendly and the food is terrific. About as good as it gets if you want something not bland (white Minnesota food). We go to St. Cloud for real flavor when we have Thai or Indian cravings.
And believe it or not, I have finally found Travelers and I love it too! I always avoided it thinking it would be comfort food, tasty food… a.k.a. full of gluten. But my co-worker Lee and her husband Reed are regulars and asked us to join them one night when our friend Susan was in town. I had the special and they have a nice salad bar that came with that. But since, I have had breakfast there (for dinner) and now I’m sold completely. My friend Deb says they have the best molasses cookies but I favor the pie (which I can eat down to near the crust, making Dan happy to have a treat too). http://www.travelersinncafe.com/
With full bellies, we’re ready for taking on lots of other fun things to do in Alex. There is really so much. If you’re a political or policy junkie, you might try the County Commissioner’s meeting, like I did last week. I was happy to get a chance to speak out about a gigantic tax abatement proposal. But most everyday citizens aren’t that excited about local government. If you are excited about government and politics, get involved with your local party. Here I am with Jay and Gail Kulp. Gail is running for House District 8B and I encourage you to give her a look. http://www.gailkulp.com/
Something everyone can get excited about is Community Ed. There are all kinds of programs and classes from which to choose and I really enjoy being an instructor. From computers, to dance, to health, to cooking, to crafting, to writing/publishing, to, well, if you come teach it, then we’ll have it! We attended the Star Gazing night a week ago and it was fabulous! We got to see Jupiter, as well as two of my favorites, the Pleiades and the gaseous cloud in the Orion constellation where new stars are born. We identified Canis Major and Minor, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Ursa Major (which contains the Big Dipper) and Minor (the Little Dipper), Leo, Gemini, and Auriga the Goat Farmer. Mike Lynch did a terrific job keeping our telescopes focused and on target and keeping the crowd laughing. It was a fun event and there might be a summer event too. You won’t want to miss it! Sign up for a class today: https://alexandria.thatscommunityed.com/courses/adult-2
Education can also be found at the U of MN Extension office. 4H is a big part of what they do but I recently signed up for the Let’s Get Growing seminar coming up on April 9th. Dan and I will be attending the workshops on Smart Design and Native Plants, among the many other choices: There’s Something about Spring (by my friend Paulette Friday), Trees & Shrubs, New Perennials, Rain Gardens, Preserving, A Year in the Life of a Vineyard, Attracting Butterflies, and more. http://www.dcmg.info/whatwedo.php
I also was happy to take advantage of the Winter Session of Senior College with Jay Sieling. We learned about computers, the internet and how to stay safe on both. The Spring Session of Senior College kicks off Tuesday, March 8, 2016, 3:15 p.m. in the Office and Technology Building, Room 743 at Alexandria Technical & Community College with Getting the Long Term Care We Want presented by Dr. Robert Kane, MD. The Spring lecture series is Tuesdays and Thursdays, March 15 – April 28. https://www.alextech.edu/business-community/senior-college
Also at ATCC this month is a travelling exhibit entitled Why Treaties Matter. There are also two movies associated with the show: March 9: Dakota 38 (Room 209 at 6 pm) & March 23: Changing the Way We See Native Americans (Room 209 at Noon). I hope to find time this week to stop by and explore. https://www.alextech.edu/atcc-events/why-treaties-matter
For another kind of education, I also have become involved with a local networking group, Nature of the Soul. http://natureofthesoul.weebly.com/ We meet monthly to hear a speaker, talk with new and old friends and share in a short meditation. It is a great place to meet providers of alternative medicine and expand your awareness of the world in a place of positive energy.
The other groups I have joined are the local Book Clubs. I was excited about Non-Fiction and started a Non-Fiction Book Club at Cherry Street Books and it’s been phenomenal. We typically meet the 2nd Sunday of the month at 6:30 PM but we’ll have a second meeting this month (March 20th) as we’re thoroughly discussing and enjoying our current read, Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. She was recently on the Krista Tippett show On Being, in case you want to get a taste. http://www.onbeing.org/program/robin-wall-kimmerer-the-intelligence-in-all-kinds-of-life/8446?utm_source=On+Being+Newsletter&utm_campaign=6fc67a66cc-20160227_kimmerer_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1c66543c2f-6fc67a66cc-67178217&mc_cid=6fc67a66cc&mc_eid=52cb6c2321
And speaking of books, you’re always apt to find something of interest at the Douglas County Library. The above photo is me with William Kent Kreuger for the Community Read 2016 (Ordinary Grace). http://www.douglascountylibrary.org/ I am super pumped about their upcoming Edible Book Festival. https://www.facebook.com/events/1789139994638136/ There will be prizes for entries of entirely edible entries inspired by books. I don’t know if I will get an entry ready in time but it will be fun to see what everyone comes up with for this first annual event.
And if you don’t like books, start your own group! I have gotten a group of crafting ladies together for a monthly session making neat-o stuff. If you like cars, meet your buddies and chat about engines. If you like travel, form a travel club where everyone has a chance to show off their recent adventures via quarterly gatherings. If you like animals, volunteer at the Humane Society with some friends to walk the dogs. Better yet, adopt a new friend at Ellie’s Legacy Pet Rescue. I did and Shirley is a real treat. https://www.facebook.com/ellieslegacy/?fref=ts
If you’re looking for some local music, try SAWA (Sixth Avenue Wine & Ale) on Thursdays (Al & Terry this week) and Saturdays (Paul Drinkwine on the 12th). Always a good time at SAWA. http://www.sixthavenuewineandale.com/happenings.htm Once the weather breaks, we’ll be heading out to Carlos Creek Winery for the local faves like Josie or The Salty Dogs but until then, it looks like they are hosting Game Nights every Sunday from noon-5 PM. http://www.carloscreekwinery.com/events/
I wish you all a fun week. You’ve got no excuse to not have fun with all these great ideas. And be sure to have a super weekend as well. And how do you get ready for the weekend? Try a Thursday evening with Yesternight on 92.3 KXRA. Rexford Sweetwater and Randy Martin (him again? Yep, he’s everywhere!) will walk you through some classic tracks and well, here’s the spiel from their own website http://yesternightradio.com/: “Tune in Thursday nights for the Yesternight radio show. From 9 to midnight you’ll hear classic rock, heavy metal, new rock with a classic feel, and other oddities that are sure to please. Yesternight is designed to bring you the songs you miss and the songs that you didn’t even know you were missing!” It’s awesome.