after the break

october is my favorite month - and our busiest month. those two things fight with each other annually, so this year i decided to consciously, intentionally take in as much of those 31 days as i could. no blogging, just being in the days and the moments.

and there were some good moments.

at the beginning of the month, i started an eight-week writing workshop at modernwell in minneapolis, led by new york times bestselling author marya hornbacher. it's been so good to sit in a room of smart, creative women to talk about writing, encourage each other, learn from someone who has been there and has a clear, strong voice to share. the prompts and challenges have re-lit a fire in me, and i've been producing work for the first time in way too long.

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elizabeth finally went pink, and loves it so, so much.

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and her sweetie-pie bestfriend boyfriend showed up with pink flowers to celebrate.

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we decided a week before my parents visited for the first time in two years that it was the perfect time to deconstruct the basement guest room and redo it. bad judgment on our part, as always. someday we will learn.

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we took a quick road trip to iowa to cheer on our firstborn at a swim meet.

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and then went right back to working on the guest room.

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marc and i celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary by doing something i've wanted to do since, literally, the day we got married:

had taken the couple photos we should have gotten on our wedding day, but World's Worst Wedding Photographer failed to do.

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oh ... and we also went out for french food at my favorite restaurant, st genevieve. that was good, too.

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i ran out of paint - twice - while trying to get the guest room done. a day before my parents arrived, i gave up, moved the furniture back in, and left one whole wall taped up and in need of a second coat.

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my parents arrived and we had a great, fast two days with them, going to market bbq, which my mom saw on food tv and requested (and we ate outside at a picnic table on a 45 degree day because it was take-out only), the immersive van gogh experience, took a walk on the trail by our house, played games, and just hung out to enjoy the company.

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elizabeth made a kick-ass drawing for class ...

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i said, "see ya never again" to my 50th pound ...

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and the world looked gorgeous.

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i took elizabeth to her first concert - courtship and dayglow at first ave, the iconic minneapolis venue.

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later that week, henry came home to surprise marc for his birthday, and of course our first stop was sushi.

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on marc's birthday, we took him to ifly to do some indoor skydiving.

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then went out for lobster rolls.

that night, eliz went to a dungeons & dragons "dress as your character" halloween party, dressed as a plant magic druid on vacation.

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and the next day, halloween, marc and i went to a party of our own. the theme was "swords & sorcery," so naturally, jon snow and melisandre seemed appropriate.

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and that was it. october was over. nearly on cue, the leaves fell off the trees on november 1st, and we woke to frost.

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i truly don't know where 2021 has gone. as long as 2020 felt, this year has made up for it by going warp speed.

now we will look forward to the upcoming holidays, pulling out twinkle lights and christmas decorations, having henry home for longer visits, and cozying up for the cold months.

truth is, the coming months are my favorite, too. bring on the cozying, i say.

 

 


taking a day

i dropped everything yesterday and drove 3.5 hours to visit my firstborn, who needed some mama time. (or i needed firstborn time; it can be debated either way.) he's dealing with the hard things that come from being in your last year of college: the big decisions, the exhaustion, the frustration and anxiety, the sadness of watching friends move on and away. i couldn't fix those bigger, more existential things, but i could buy him some new sneakers and groceries and lunch.

he's still my baby, even if he is 6'3" and almost 22.

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there's a lot of stuff coming his way, and i hope he is able to take the time to just enjoy this last year. there might be grad school, or there might be a break. there might be a plan, or there might be new outlooks. nothing is sure or squared away, which ... that's a good lesson to learn now. how much of life is EVER squared away? or figured out?

i don't envy this generation coming to age in all the chaos of the world. and yet ... my parents came of age in the chaos of the late 60s. my generation came of age in the chaos of the 80s and 90s. does any generation ever really have a GOOD era to grow in? that's how we learn and develop worldview.

i actually have a lot of faith in these Gen Zs, and if they can make it through the last 18 months (or, last five years, really) and whatever comes next, they might just be a Great Generation in their own right.

there will be a lot for them to fix, i have a feeling.

which totally explains the weight on the shoulders of kids like henry. it's a lot, and i'm sure looking eight months in the future - at flying out of the college nest and into the world - seems daunting.

but for yesterday, we just took time to chat, watch funny videos he'd saved for me, and just BE. and that's necessary now and then, when everything else is shadowed by a question mark.


art-urday

happy art-urday! it's a new thing. i just invented it. (i think ... maybe i should have googled before typing that.)

i hope you were able to have some time to get your fingers dirty or painty or markery or gluey or whatever your medium. it's good for the soul and the brain, isn't it?

today didn't start as art-urday. i woke, had my coffee, watched some tv, snuggled the cat. around 10 a.m., marc and i went to the farmer's market to get some tomatoes, and we discovered that it was simultanously our town's annual art walk a few blocks off from downtown, where the market tents were set up. the art walk is usually in october, when the leaves are golden and the walk down pleasant street (seriously ... that's it's name) feels like a fairy tale. we wandered through all the booths and talked to a number of artisans, saw and hugged our son's former girlfriend at her booth, and then headed for home.

as i started a pot of beef and mushroom stew, inspired by the wild mushrooms we bought from the mushroom lady at the market, i started to get the itch to create art. seeing all the work on pleasant street inspired me ... it wasn't all great, but it was all made with love and passion. i get too scared of not creating "the right way" or "something worthy" and just ... don't create. but today i felt ready.

we have a framed print in the bookshelves by our fireplace, and it's very spring/summer in color. i decided we needed a more autumnal piece, and pulled out my watercolors.

and it felt scary. and stressful. but then i got over that, and just painted.

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i was thinking of a wide open meadow, with a moody autumn sky and bright colors on the distant woods, as viewed through a tilt shift camera, so only the woods were in focus.

it's been a long time since i've held a paintbrush with intention. and you know what? my picture isn't perfect, it isn't great, but it made me happy.

go make yourself happy by doing some art.

happy art-urday!


the most wonderful time of the year is here!

i love fall. love. LOVE.

how could anyone not?

every fall, i start to crave cozier colors, slower days, soups, walks, family, books, warm drinks. this is the beginning of the time of year where i always find peace ... the "hygge" way of life was something i ascribed to and desired before it was even a thing people outside of scandinavia knew about.

it's here, and i couldn't be happier.

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go enjoy the changing of the season!!


almost to the finish line

let me tell you about this little bathroom:

when we built 10 years ago, we were exhausted and over budget by the time we got to the bathrooms in the basement and off the mudroom, so we went as cheap and standard as possible. the only things i requested were specific tile in each shower because that would be more expensive to change later, and specific finishes on each vanity - again, something i didn't want to mess with later.

the mudroom bathroom is our most used, it's the one every person who comes to our house sees, and it was the least interesting room in the house. for years i've wanted to give it a makeover, and now we finally have.

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i've known for seven years that this room needed different lights and plumbing fixtures; i wasn't thrilled with the modern edge of either since our house was trying to walk the line between vintage and farmhouse. the room was also screaming for wallpaper, as nearly all small bathrooms are, and i was pretty sure the wallpaper needed to be black. for the longest time i was determined to get nina campbell's perroquet ...

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but at the end of the day, it was way out of budget and i needed to make a more realistic choice. i explored some other options and found a pretty plaid one and a floral, both from york.

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the concensus in my house was the floral, but i had to cool my heels as i figured out everything else i wanted to change in the room (because obviously the project would snowball out from wallpaper), and we had to grow the bathroom fund to cover it all.

well, in the past couple of months we finally made it happen. i scheduled a wallpaper hanger, then changed my mind about the wallpaper at literally the last possible minute, when i talked myself into getting the one i really wanted - hydrangeas, from rifle paper co, which was more than the floral, less than the parakeets, but also i loved it more and decided if we're doing this, we're going to do it right. the wallpaper hanger was here in august, all the extras were ordered, the plumber put in all the new fixtures a couple of weeks ago, and today the lights came.

sneak peek ... because i need to put up some art and give the room a good clean before i take pix with the real camera. and i'm not being hyperbolic when i say this might be my favorite room in the whole house now. quite the upgrade from Most Boring Room In The House.

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and let me just say that it's okay to live in a house for awhile before you get it right. budgets take time, collecting things takes time, figuring out what the house wants takes time. in the end, it's worth it to wait for what you want than to waste money on "good enough," because "good enough" is rarely good enough, know what i mean?


stopping to take a look around

in my last post, i quoted ferris bueller telling us to stop and look around at life.

this morning, elizabeth and i did just that.

we were in the car on the way to school, and as we came around a curve we saw the loveliest sky, with puffy clouds all lit up with the rising sun, and opposite them, a bright corona gilding the top edge of a bank of clouds. we looked at each other and smiled and said, "good clouds!" she tried to take a photo through the windshield, but i told her that would never do, pulled over, and opened the sun roof for her.

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and in that moment, i didn't care about the schedule, i didn't care about traffic getting slower with each moment i delayed getting us to the highway, i didn't care whether we pulled into the parking lot five minutes after the bell. i wanted this moment with her, capturing the perfect sunrise on a gorgeous september day.

sometimes a beautiful sky means more than staying on schedule.

we listened to ferris, and we grabbed that fleeting moment of 7:22 a.m.

and it was good.

 


going cozy

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this is where we are now. all of the stress of 2020, with all of the acquiescence and zero effs left of 2021. we just made it through the hottest summer on record, the worst wildfire season (which is still happening), hurricane season is upon us, my area is still in drought, all the lingering and growing political garbage from the right, and the pandemic has morphed into some crazy variant that has seemingly rebooted everything and yet people seem to care even less.

i'm tired. are you tired?

so let's embrace all that sucks, wrap it up in a soft blanket, give it a warm beverage, and head into fall with one eye on finding some peace in all of this, and the other on not letting the assholes win.

how am i cozying right now?

one, i just bought a dress/nightgown/piece of heaven that has pockets. POCKETS, i said. and it is my new favorite thing in the world.

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two, i've started to bring out autumn colors around the house. this is one of the happiest things i do in the fall. when the sun is lower, the afternoon glow is deeper, and the reds from the trees outside reflect on the warmer colors in the house, it all just feels like a big hug.

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three, this coffee. it's fantastic. and so fall-cozy.

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four, pulling out these blankets around the house. we've been selling them for a few years, importing them from ecuador from marc's brother, whose ministry we are helping support with the sales. they are literally our favorite blankets in the house, especially this time of year.

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five, a new pair of haflinger slippers. i buy a pair every two or three septembers ... my own little "back to school" shopping treat. i wear these babies from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day, unless i leave the house. they are so comfortable and supportive (especially great if you have bad feet, like i do), and i'm eager to get my hands on some new ones. i literally wear them into the ground before replacing them, and it's well past time.

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six, new candles. my perennial favorites:

sweet vanilla cinnamon

moso bamboo

amalfi jasmine

fir & suede

 

what are you doing to cozy up and shut out the world?

 

 


the big year

when the ball dropped on 2021 in january, my first thought was, "this is the year we get rid of trump!" immediately followed by, "my kids turn 21 and 16 this year." yikes. then i did the math and realized that we will also celebrate our 25th anniversary in october.

wha ... ?? how?!

where does time go? and i ask that in the literal sense ... where?? does it go???

we were just here ...

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having fun, making out, semi-serious about Forever.

then he graduated. and bought a ring. and i said yes. then i graduated. then we did the thing ...

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three months after we got married, we moved to minneapolis in a blizzard. a year and a half later, we bought a little blue fixer upper ...

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and things were great. we were chugging right along, living our lives, then BAM.

pregnant.

and ... that was unexpected.

marc was swamped with prepping for y2k at work, i was working in publishing while growing a child, life still felt normal. then the new millenium dawned, henry arrived nearly two weeks early, and we've been at warp speed ever since.

(and yeah ... my swimmer was practically born in a speedo.)

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five years went by in a blur, we moved to the 'burbs, had another baby ...

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and then WHAM.

wormhole.

this year, baby boy turned old enough to order a beer with me and start his last year of undergrad ...

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and baby girl started her junior year of high school ...

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and in a few weeks, we will hit the silver anniversary.

just ... stop it, time!

remember when you were a kid, and your parents and your friends' parents had their 25th anniversary? and they seemed SO middle aged??

why don't i feel middle aged? i certainly don't feel like an ADULT. 47 is not as old as it used to be, right?

it can't be. (and ... did our parents also feel like they couldn't possibly be middle aged? we never saw it, because to us, parents were just old. that was just fact.)

as i sit here, i'm listening to nirvana, marc is across the street shooting baskets ... it feels like any minute we're going to meet at the dining commons for dinner. but we aren't; we aren't 21 anymore. instead, we're going to make tacos and probably be in bed by 10. because we're exhausted by friday. and eliz has to be at work at 10 a.m. ... and i think we will probably go to the farmer's market for veggies and maybe some kielbasa from the meat guy.

and that's how time jumbles in my head. i feel simultaneously 21 and 47, and have no clue where the intervening 26 years have gone.

i truly hope it slows down one of these days; in the immortal words of ferris beuller,

“life moves pretty fast. if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

smart man, ferris. who, by the way, is obviously still 17, not 52. 

 


pause

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i got a text from my daughter, asking me to please help her with an essay on antigone tonight. which means i have to re-read antigone for the first time in more than 25 years.

will be back tomorrow.


sehnsucht

i came across this graphic the other day, and said - YES! that's what i'm feeling!

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the most frequently pinned topic for me lately, during my nightly scrolls through pinterest, is travel. places where i want to go and things i want to see, places we are tentatively planning trips to in the After. i like having something to look forward to, but without knowing when, exactly, the After will be, more often than not i find my nostalgia wandering back to places we've been and wishing to be there again.

sehnsucht, man. it's a legit thing.

foremost in my mind right now is our trip to newport, rhode island, for two reasons: one, i'm craving the eastern coastline and water views of my favorite places in new england, but two, we went three years ago over labor day weekend. the anniversary of being away has brought it back into my memory bank. especially after two years of not going anywhere.

in the Before times, marc traveled a lot for work. he always has, since we got married. while the kids were little, it was a serious bone of contention around here, but as they got older and we were able to take advantage more of frequent flier miles and hotel points, the travel had its upside.

newport was just such an upside.

marc was working in connecticut for the week, and knowing we had just dropped off our firstborn for his first year at college and i was feeling pretty blue, and our last born was about to start school the following week, he suggested we fly out to meet him for the long weekend. we tossed around the idea of heading to new york city, or cape cod, or maine, and then i said ... what about newport? we love checking states off the list, and neither of us had ever been to rhode island.

so newport it was.

elizabeth and i flew out on friday, he picked us up at the airport, and we headed to mystic, connecticut. we found a little, quick spot for lunch, googled "what to do in mystic, connecticut," and soon found ourselves at the mystic aquarium, with about two hours to spare before closing. it was just enough time to see every animal, watch a seal show, and hang out with some birds.

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a quick yummy dinner, and then we drove the rest of the way to newport.

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where we found ourselves in a hotel that looked like an inside-out sailboat.

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and it was really nice to have marc back.

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saturday, we crammed in as much newport as we could. because it was labor day weekend, the place was packed. we did manage to grab a table at the black pearl for some of their famous clam chowder for lunch.

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after that, we decided to get away from the action and head to the cliff walk. i would very much like to return someday, in the off season, and see so much more. the cliff walk and "cottages," alone, would take days to go through, and i want to see them all.

on this trip, i convinced my people to go through one cottage with me, and we picked doris duke's family home, rough point. the history is fascinating, and i wish i could remember it all, but here's a link, if you want to learn more.

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the kitchen! i was dying. it was so. good. i can't think of anything i want more in life than to be able to look out a window and see water. i totally could have been a kitchen maid at this house, and been very happy.

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after a long day of walking and exploring, we had a most amazing tapas dinner, filled our stomachs, and crashed into bed back at the hotel.

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sunday, marc and elizabeth got to do their picks, since rough point had been mine: the newport car museum, and time at the beach.

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can you tell how much elizabeth loved this place?

but then ... beach! and at the beach, overlooking the ocean: my literal, actual, dream house.

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we found her happy place. 

newport was just gorgeous. if you are a new england/history/old architecture nerd like me, i highly recommend a visit. i need to go back when i have time to just drive up and down each street, along the coast, taking it all in.

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we ended the day watching the kites fly and sun set over brenton point state park.

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and that was it. monday, we drove back to hartford and flew home to get ready for the new work week and school year.

these little random escapes fill the sehnsucht bucket, and i am so ready for the world to be a safe place to explore again. it hasn't bothered us to be home, per se, but we are very ready to stop having life on pause. there are so many more adventures to be had.

(full album here, if you need more pictures of doris duke's house or old cars ...)