29 November 2009

Technically, it's still autumn....

...but usually by now we've got 2 feet of snow and can use our back steps as a deep freezer. Global warming is clear and inarguable up here in the northland, but I do find myself a little grateful for days like yesterday....
...when V and I can be outside without scarves, hats, or mittens....

...and laying on the ground feels autumnal instead of icy.... ...and a girl with a toy horn can wake all the dogs in the neighborhood and get leaves in her hair.

28 November 2009

From the mouths of babes

Yesterday, I heard V's voice from the kitchen, where some of the leftovers from Thanksgiving had been sitting for about 28 hours:
"Mama, what's in that pot on the stove?"
"It's cold gravy, honey. Why?"
"Because it doesn't taste like chocolate."

Today, from the dining room, in a melodramatic, swoony voice: "Mom, I think I'm falling in love with cream cheese."

So much hilarity in one little person.

27 November 2009

So much for which to be thankful.

As promised, photos of candlelight, family, and food.
Candlelight by day....

And Shaun's the same....
Our own children's table....
Emmy and Jetch...

Myra and David, waiting for dessert.

Shaun ate so much he split his pants. On the thigh. Impressive, no?

My dear mother-in-law, Mary....
And the only photo I have of me yesterday, loading the diswasher (of course). Luckily, it's of my good side.
I like the shirt I'm wearing, but I often feel like the St. Pauli girl when I'm wearing it. Looking at the link now, though, I'm not sure why that is....
I hope your holiday was chock-full of people you love, and if not, chock-full of lovely barmaids. May we all find reasons to be thankful every single day.

26 November 2009

Just in time to save you from your holiday shopping day of torment

I know some of you may like to go out in ridiculous amounts of traffic to save a few dollars, and consider pushing down grandmas to get to that last electronic hamster a national sport, but I'm not that way. Perhaps this year you'd like to just stay home tomorrow and and shop from your couch, or at least prepare a thoughtful, precise list so that when you go out you don't get distracted by the hamsters.

For starters, here's a post from 2007 wherein I provide I thoughtful list of 9 potential gift ideas that work for one and all. Two years ago I waited to post it until December 24, though, and got zero comments. See how I'm being more helpful this year?

But wait, there's more. This year I'm doing much (maybe even most) of my shopping online. I mean, sure, there's the usual thrift store books I buy for my brothers-in-law (how much do I love quirky plurals?), but I'm really liking it when I can order stuff and just wait until it arrives. I feel like I won somehow, not setting foot in the mall.

At the same time, I'm still desperately thrifty. I ordered our 150 Christmas cards (I still can't believe we know that many people...) in September, because we'd found our photo already, and I like to pretend to be prepared. Of course, I've totally misplaced them now, so I should really be looking for those instead of blogging. See what I give up for you? Anyway, we ordered the cards through VistaPrint, and they cost us about $12 shipped. They get a little annoying with e-mails almost every other day, but I love them so much I don't care. They also have great deals (100 postcards free! You just pay shipping!) and lovely photo capabilities...their calendars print on lightweight paper, but the colors are rich and crisp. I ordered business cards for myself here, that I use as social calling cards, listing my professions (teacher, mama, artist, poet) and blog. I feel fancy when I give them to people, too. VistaPrint does charge a fee to upload photos, which is why I suggest you order yourself a calender, and upload your 12 favorite photos of the year, and then you can use those on all kinds of different products (tote bags! hats! t-shirts! other stuff!). Shaun's birthday t-shirt came from here last year, and it's still going strong, with regular wearings and washings. I like them so much that I added a link to my right sidebar, which I probably will take down after the holidays, unless y'all love it too much. But I do think you should go play with them: they have neat stuff.

[I do need to tell you that the Vista Print and Amazon links are affiliate ones, meaning if you click on them and order something, I get a very small amount of money in return. Since I've had that Amazon link on my sidebar for the last 2 years, I've earned $1.37. Seriously. Okay, now back to the shopping suggestions.]

Next, in case you want ideas for board games (great gifts for everyone from your best friend to your dentist to your mama), or ideas for four year olds, or ideas for 36 year old weird ladies, or ideas for excellent books, check out my Amazon store. You can click that link right thar (I think) or the link to the right (which is always there for your convience).

I am not usually a proponent of gift cards, but if you want to somehow stand out from those folks who only give cash, you can't do much better than Amazon. Instead of lotion or the average Target gift card, why not give the gift of the expansiveness that is Amazon? I love that you can send it straight to their e-mail, or print it yourself, or schedule its arrival. This would be handy for me, too, because I totally forget birthdays all the time, now.

Okay, that's all for now. I am sooo thankful for all my readers; I really do want to share the things I like with you. I'll try to do a few more of these ahead of the holidays, because I really like getting ideas, so I'll pretend you do, too.

My next post will have cute pictures of kids, I promise. And turkey. And whipped cream. Mmmm.

25 November 2009


I'm cleaning the house, of course, because we insist on hosting Thanksgiving every year, even though both of our mothers are better cooks (and housekeepers) than we are. It's really the only way we get anything done.

Anyway, part of the adventure of cleaning is what I might find: once I found a $5 bill in my silverware drawer. Today, I uncovered a list in my handwriting on a little sheet of notebook paper. I think it's from either a creative writing exercise or a therapy exercise (same thing, really).

If my ideal life was a painting, what would it look like?
  • buy a 4 bedroom 2 bath house
  • get an MA or BFA in art
  • get married
  • have 3 babies
  • have my dog with me, plus another puppy
  • have healthy houseplants
  • live near Dan and Tenessa
  • never drive more than 20 minutes to work
  • lead a creative writing group/newspaper staff of students in Crookston or Fargo
  • publish a book.

So, okay. First of all why did I save this? When did I write it? I must've been teaching in Crookston, and not been married...but I know I didn't think I would get married until I fell in love with Shaun...so I must've written this sometime between 2000 and 2002.

Second of all, did I not read the question? I certainly copied it down. Wouldn't a better answer have been "Like Van Gogh's Sunflowers, but with poppies"? Or "The Two Fridas, but with my face and less blood & Diego"?

Thirdly, let's assess. I'm married, we have a four bedroom, three bath house, my drive to work takes 8 minutes on a good day, 12 with trains. I have no dogs, though we used to have 2 (my pupdog still lives with my mama). With just one baby (and none on the foreseeable horizon) and some mediocre health plants, I'd say I'm at just less than 50%. Of course, some of these are ridiculous. What would I do with a Master's in Art? And I don't have time to lead a bunch of creative writers anyplace, much less have two more babies. I do wish we had dogs, but Shaun doesn't....stupid point #3, screwing up my plans.

I do wish I'd dated this; maybe I should make a new list. Perhaps I should hope to travel more, or become a world-renowned karaoke singer, or...I don't know. Successfully help raise a single human to her teen years, not get fired, and continue to avoid scurvy.

That sounds about right.

22 November 2009

Uncle Steve!

Two weeks ago, when Uncle Steve called and asked if we'd be around this weekend, V burst into tears when she found out he wasn't coming over RIGHT THIS SECOND. Most mornings since, she'd wake up and say "Is Uncle Steve coming today?" So it was no surprise that when he arrived on Friday, someone was very, very excited. For the first hour or so, she mostly fluttered around him and giggled.
Soon, though, that gave way to wordgames and laughing and extreme amounts of silliness. ("You're a force to be reckoned with," Uncle Steve told V. "It's because I'm four!" V explained). It was the kind of weekend where we didn't even try to stick to our usual schedule, because the joy that is Uncle Steve made it impossible. I think it helps that, at 4 and 30, the two of them think alike quite a bit. And Uncle Steve has had three months to save up energy to swing V around and play roller coaster and Swiss Family Robinson.

She misses him already.

11 November 2009

All quiet on the Western Front

Sorry for the Veteran's/Armistice Day title. I haven't been posting this week, because I can't think of what to say. My cousin Deron died on Sunday, and my whole family has a broken heart.

I wrote about him here and here. I could've said more. I wish I had.

I'll be back, probably after the funeral.

Go on now, and tell your cousins you love them.

07 November 2009

Tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen...

Lately, I've been working on several dozen projects at once, as usual. But none of them are particularly photogenic, so I find myself stumped with what to blog about. And then I remember there is no photograph requirement for blogging, except the ones I've developed for myself, so here I am thinking out loud again.

1. V's into telling stories. Constantly. She wants me to tell them to her, with her parameters: it usually involves Toy Story+Star Wars Garbage Chute Scene+Princesses+Will and V. This sounds cute and all but it really gets tiring to constantly think of new variations on this story. Recently I had everyone get trapped in ToysRUs, which was very popular, but has led to demands of trips to ToysRUs. I must remember to be careful where those characters end up.

2. My job: As usual, it takes up great heaps of time and energy, which is fine. But I am teaching a new course in the spring (Environmental Literature) and another next fall (Humanities of World Cinema) that I've never taught or taken before, which is much harder than re-teaching courses I'm already familiar with. I'm in the process of gathering input from colleagues, but I'm also trying to ask friends and family, too. So I pose this question to the blog: What non-English movies have you seen that impressed you, and why? And what elements (books, movies, youtube clips, etc) should I include in Environmental Literature? I'm interpreting the course to be about both the world environment of weather, tsunamis, floods, and global warming, and the environments we're raised in, and the environments we create for ourselves. I've chosen a book of essays by Leslie Marmon Silko, a book of writings (poems, essays, fiction) about the midwest called Inheriting the Land, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy, because I'm an optimist. But I'd still like at least 2 more books, maybe as many as 5 more. Again, because I'm an optimist.

3. My hoarding hairball. I'm trying to figure out why I am more comfortable in a home packed to the gills with stuff, why I love acquiring things as much as if not more than using them. And how to translate this into a living situation that doesn't drive my partner and daughter and me completely crazy.

4. The new V television series, and Flash Forward, both of which are breaking my brain a little and making me happy at the same time.

5. Putting the blog into a book form, for my own records, for when the apocalypse comes and devours the internet. I'm working with BLURB, and am on page 83 of 290. It's tedious, mostly because I have so many photos that the software can't really handle it. So I'm going a page at a time, adding in the photos as I go.

6. Putting the zine into book form. This is an ongoing project, one I've been working on for over 2 years. Languishing the Zine started publishing in 1996 or 1997, and technically hasn't stopped yet. The book form has over 120 pages of very small type. Several months ago, I said to Tenessa (who is 34 today!) that I didn't know where to start editing 120 pages. She laughed at me, since she's a book editor, but I noticed she didn't offer to take it over for me. Unlike the blog book, this book will be available for purchase. Eventually. The other thing slowing me down is I'm missing some issues from 2002-2003, and I can't hardly print a comprehensive book missing two whole years.

As you can see, I'm busy with non-photographable pursuits right now. I welcome your advice, mocking, and open scorn. Sharing these things with the blog world makes them more real, so now I better go get to work.

01 November 2009

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

....er, last night, under a full moon, in a small nw Minnesota town....
a princess-obsessed four-year old was transformed into the lovely, smart, and brave Princess Leia.
She wore a store-bought turtleneck and thrift-store found silver belt, and a corduroy gown and cotton braids her mother made for her. To show how she could triumph over evil, she carried Darth Vader's head as a treat bucket. She met a handsome chicken while on her journey, and the two were soon interupted by a giggling one-year old bumblebee. The three explored the local galaxy, gathering treasure and treats and joy at every house they visited.The brave, smart, lovely princess prevailed once again.

(Her costume pales in comparison to these, but it's exactly what she wanted, and it turned out even better than I'd hoped. Hope your Halloween was intergalactically wonderful!)