Hell’s Kitchen

I just got back from an overnight flight from Duluth. I was pleased to see my home intact as we drove up 21st and pleased to see my troublesome elephant still holding a Confederate flag albeit a badly sun-faded one.

I’m not sure most folks would consider the Twin Cities all the great an alternative at the end of February let alone for a single evening but we wanted a break in our routine. It didn’t hurt that neither Grandma or Papa had a smidgen of sleep the night before with our delightful little grandsons joining us in bed just after midnight. They wiggle a lot.

I wasn’t sure that I could stay awake for the drive but Claudia had found the book we’ve been reading out loud on tape the evening before when we went to the Mt. Royal Library with the grand kids. The Book Thief is a great book. It may have been the book that all of Duluth was invited to read a year or two ago by our public library. We decided to read it last November during another flight from Duluth that lasted a wee longer. That time it was a flight to Chicago and it was a heavenly mini vacation.

The last week of November was incredibly unseasonable on the nice side. Our last day there at the beginning of December was the warmest on record in Chicago. We wandered the Lincoln Park Zoo and looked over the shoulders of two new Gorilla mothers at their new borns under blue 70 degree skies. A large sign on the street outside our hotel told Chicagoans that their new Mayor, Obama’s former chief of staff, was encouraging everyone to read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

As it happened we had read a previous book of Zusak’s, I Am the Messenger, largely because we had just visited his native Australia. “the Messenger” was reputed to be a book for young adults but we’ve read quite a lot of excellent books to one another with no children present (other than me).

While in Chicago we finished reading another great book The Devil in the White City and then went on a city tour of famous outlaws which took us to a couple of locales of the book’s infamous mass murderer.

I had a great time in Chicago that I really wanted to boast about at the time but I chose to ignore the blog during my visit and, quite frankly, this helped make my enjoyment of the vacation.

I believe Zusak is descended from refugees of World War 2. Like many such descendants like Art Speigleman, the graphic author of Maus, Zusak decided to take his literary hand to write a book on the subject of the victims of Nazi persecution.

The audio CD kept me awake all through my trip to the Cities and back. I prefer to be the reader but that’s not so easy in the car with all the noise of the car’s travels.

We had purchased tickets to a play Thursday night but we were too bushed to attend. Instead we went back to our hotel room where I read my sweetie to sleep. In the morning we went to Hell’s Kitchen for breakfast which I discovered was right across the street from my favorite Minnesota wine purveyors Haskels. The Kitchen opened a branch in Duluth’s Canal Park but didn’t get enough traffic to survive. Its a fun spot and I really enjoyed my breakfast. We were parked at at table right next to a screen where The Movie Channel was being live streamed sans sound.

By chance the movie playing silently fit perfectly with Hell’s Kitchen’s theme. It was the Frederick March, Veronica Lake movie “I Married a Witch.” We saw most of the movie and thoroughly enjoyed guessing at the dialogue we could not hear.

Thursday hadn’t been entirely uneventful. We stopped at the Minnesota History Center and spent the morning checking out the exhibit on the Dakota War. Its something I’ve written about before. Since we skipped out on the previous night’s entertainment we made up by spending Friday morning at the Home and Garden Show and the early afternoon at the Minneapolis Art Museum (right next to MCAD where my Mother took art classes.)

When I got home I was pleased to see the package from Amazon waiting for me. It was a book called the Barbarous Years about the first century of European settlement of the North American coast. Its a subject I’m eager to have fleshed out and when I ran across an excellent review of the book I marked it as one to purchase. I’d missed it a couple months ago when I bought a slew of books from Amazon but I think it will be my next one. To dig into it I’ll have to postpone the well reviewed book on early Revolutionary America’s newspapers. I’ll also have to postpone reading another book I bought online about the settlement of european refugees after World War II. I was reminded of this book Wednesday when we watched The Third Man on TCM.

I am sort of bragging about all the books I’ve been sniffing around in this post. In my defense, however, I suspect all my messing around with history books is partly my lame avoidance of digging into the book I really want to write. Imagine using other authors’ books to create the illusion of writer’s block.

Not all my reading is to heavy duty. On my return home tonight Claudia reported that a parent of one of the children in my grandson’s Kindergarten class had posted a comment on my daughter’s Facebook page. She said she was wowed by my reading of a couple kids books on Wednesday where she was volunteering when I showed up to read Pig Pig Grow’s Up and the Monster Bed.

When I was done one of the boys told me “you scream like a girl.”

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