Des Moines

After writing my last post I realized that I do have a lot to talk about regarding last weekend. We love Des Moines, not just because it’s home to the World’s Cutest Children, but because there is so much to do. Luckily, Ralph and Blair keep up with the goings on in the area and are always up for an outing.

Friday the girls were at school so Ralph and I did some retail therapy while the guys hung out together. We didn’t green up the Des Moines economy too much, but did find some cute summer pieces at Gap and J. Crew. Later, we took the girls birthday cupcake shopping while the guys installed the new needle and cartridge Blair bought for the stereo. After leaving the bakery, and the Lydia “It’s Raining Men” incident, we went downtown to try and locate a sculpture studio Steve and I planned to visit on Sunday. While turning the corner to go home we spotted a new place called Funky Finds. The entire window was full of fabulous mid-century items so we stopped to check it out. Good thing too as it was full of terrific furniture, accent pieces, clothing and what-nots from the 50s, 60s and 70s. I found a great lamp for $10 and vowed to return next time I’m in town. They had just opened and were thrilled we’d stopped by. I think they’ll do quite well. Friday night was the big Uncle Steve Birthday Celebration complete with decorations and cupcakes. The girls went to bed and the adults enjoyed the newly improved stereo along with Blair’s early birthday gift, the Devo live album we scored at Record Days in April. I have to admit even I thought it was a great LP and Steve and I both lamented we hadn’t picked up a copy for ourselves.

Saturday, we walked down to the Des Moines Art Center where I have my jewelry in the gift shop. The girls love to point it out whenever we visit and I’m impressed by the care the museum takes to display my wares. This was the first time, however, we took the time to actually go through the museum and it was impressive. The current draw is the huge Jackson Pollock piece “Mural” on loan from Iowa City. While not a huge Pollock fan, I did love it and found the accompanying video to be fascinating. Despite the messy look of his work, each piece was deliberately created. I loved watching him paint with a cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth. Other fabulous works included several Isamu Noguchi pieces and an Andy Warhol I hadn’t seen. I was unimpressed by the current exhibition by artist Tony Feher, but I’m sure I’m just not sophisticated enough to “get” a pile of marbles and pennies on the floor. Or plastic bottles filled with colored water hanging from a rope. And don’t get me started on crumpled mylar stapled to the wall. I’m just not his audience. But it was fun and the girls loved walking around.

Later that afternoon, Ralph took the girls to opening day at the pool while Steve, Blair and I did some record shopping. I have to laugh at the differences in taste between Blair and I. He’s a sophisticated collector of 80s rock and Devo while I’m always looking for great jazz and anything that’s a little off or cheesy. My weird tastes were rewarded as I found an album to complete my collection of Halloween-related album art, two Cal Tjader LPs I didn’t have, an Esquivel in playable condition and a terrific Walt Wanderly doing Bossa Nova. I also scored my very favorite Marshall Crenshaw, “Mary Jean and 9 Others,” on vinyl. All in all, I got 17 albums for $21. A good haul. Blair ended up empty handed but we had a good time.

Saturday night, the girls stayed home with a babysitter while the adults went out on the town to celebrate Steve’s birthday. We started at one of our favorite places, The Royal Mile, for beers and appetizers. For a pub, they serve great food and have an excellent beer selection. After that, we went to Django, another favorite, for dinner. The special was lamb ravioli and Ralph and I wasted no time deciding that would be dinner. Thankfully, it was an appetizer-size portion so we didn’t have to worry about overeating. Because we were being careful with our food intake and were taking our time, we decided to indulge in dessert and coffee at Alba, an upscale place known for its great food. The kitchen was closed by the time we arrived, but we they were still serving dessert. The four of us split two desserts which was just enough to enjoy. Around 11p.m. it was time to go home and declare the evening a success.

Sunday came too soon and it was time to go home. We stopped by B Modern to see our friend, sculptor James Bearden. We oh’d and ah’d over his new work and I started mentally saving money for a new piece. After a long drive home I was happy to see my fuzzy children and sleep in my own bed. Fortunately, 3/4 of the Des Moines crew will be joining us in a few weeks so I won’t have to wait long to see their smiling faces.

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