I don’t understand people who can feel crummy and still be Little-Miss-Sunshine.  I woke up today (around 3am) with a sore throat and a stuffed up nose and feeling absolutely, disconsolately stinky…. and I must say that in this state it’s very hard to be warm, cheerful, or even sometimes just civil.  Maybe I just have no reserve built up like other people do, where I’ve been stuffing extra sunshine when nobody’s looking (for just such an occasion), but I find it nearly impossible to be a human being when I’m sick.  I want to crawl up into the fetal position and turn all the lights off, and keep a big pokey stick next to me to jab at anyone who ventures near to my solace.  I keep seeing Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail,” all confused and adorable as she’s blowing her nose on fifteen bazillion tissues and ranting in her cute-as-a-button way and I think, “Are you kidding me?!?”  Nobody is that cute when they’re sick.  Especially not if they’re in the fetal position with a big pokey stick.

** a repost from April 2006 that kept ringing in my ears today… boy, I really don’t change! 🙂


leaning into it

An older photo of Olive, relaxed into the moment and yet clutching what she loves

I am today 20 weeks pregnant with Strike 2 (and our ultrasound is Monday… can’t wait to find out if it’s a he or a she that’s been kicking me in the… well, everything!). Exciting!!!

But here’s the thing for me: pregnancy stinks. Notice I said “for me” – I know other women feel amazing, live in constant awe of the process and relish every moment of their babymaking experience. It doesn’t work that way for me. I’m constantly exhausted, ill every day, struggling against depression, and grappling with a myriad of other unsavory side effects of growing this little person. I love it for what it is – the creation of life – and I cannot wait to meet the magnificent little creature coming together as I write. I did choose this, after all, even this time knowing what I would be in for.  I know there are ladies who would kill to be in my position and I honor their desire, their longing, their space – but it doesn’t make it any easier for me when I’m praying to the porcelain god for the fifth time today, feeling as though it will never end and I can’t possibly take care of my family in the midst of it. I’m still wretched, even if it’s laced with happiness.

What I’m doing now is trying to relax into these harder times. I can feel so desperate, so overwhelmingly helpless at times, so clenched-up frustrated – but I’m learning that if I can unclench, if I can lean into it – there’s space. It’s almost like the moment expands to hold me, my darkness, and just a little extra, too – enough extra room that something else can be born and held, too – some peace, some calm, some serenity. Right up there next to the yuck. And then it’s all okay. I can make it through.


beef jerky soul

Lately my soul has felt shriveled, dry, and tough – like all the life’s been sucked out of it. More or less, I have beef jerky soul.

I can’t pinpoint how it got that way, though there are probably a zillion little reasons that waltzed through my life, each sucking just a little of the moisture, the vitality, away. Sad little vampires like finances stretched thin and three year old tantrums and bathroom mildew. And then the big ones came along in the midst – mortgage misery, disease, death.

In September I suffered a very early miscarriage. Truly, the desire for another baby has been mostly submerged, barely visible at times, but it was never so evident how deep it went until then. Until a couple of weeks of nausea and tenderness and exhaustion ended crazily, emptily, in nothing. Then I knew what I wanted, in that visceral tangible way that pierces the soul and heart and body like lightning.

The constant barrage, the incessant shelling, has eaten me away, left me covered with ash and debris. Every sip of my soul stolen by these leeches still, it seems, is gone. It hasn’t been replenished. There is no water.

There’s a verse in the Bible that I’ve always loved about how your soul shall be like a well-watered garden. So here I am, beef jerky, looking for a watering hose so I can, hopefully, turn myself into some compost to start the growing season.

Because beef jerky is tired, and stiff. Beef jerky doesn’t laugh or smile much, or see much hope. Beef jerky snaps at her hubby and can’t respond with love to those who hurt. Beef jerky slams cabinets and sighs and doesn’t play with her daughter or take her to the park, to play in the snow. Beef jerky is empty, tough, sharp.

Beef jerky, you see, stinks. It’s not enough to nourish, to nurture, to give sustenance.

And it’s not who I want to be.



I am someone who values relationships deeply, who yearns for friendships and community more than really anything else – more than chocolate and ice cream, even. So I really do mean YEARN. To me, life isn’t worth living if I’m doing it on my own.

Blogging has, for me, been a relatively solitary pastime. I’ve done it – since June 2005 – because I wanted to, and because it was important to me in some indescribable way, and because I couldn’t not. Believe me, I tried to not – and my sporadic posting was very clear evidence of it. But a writer must write, I’ve learned, even if it’s few and far between – eventually the words come and force their way out and the best thing to do is just get out of the way. So, I blogged. Followers came and went, there was no clear community, no regular commenters, no solid friends made. At least, no new ones. The old ones continued to cheer me on, as good old friends must do to be good old friends. But still, it was mostly me, showing up to the screen, offering, and leaving to the silence.

That is, until I learned that a few of my “in real life” friends were bloggers, too, and I saw that they had met kindred spirits and built a solid readership and had what I am constantly searching for, everywhere…. connection. ON AND THROUGH THEIR BLOG. It was a revelation, and it gave me a target to shoot for, though I really had no idea how to do it. It made me a little self-conscious, and a little nervous, and a lot shy. But it also gave me the kick in the pants I needed to start moving past the pixels.

So, in September I went to the Minnesota Blogger’s Conference, mostly because it was free and my friend Heather was speaking at it (she was the first of the aforementioned friends who also happened to be a blogger). I am not a crowd person, friends – I like to stick in small groups where I know at least one other person. I like to have a wing man when I head into things like this. But no, I was flying solo, and I was terrified. Somehow, though, it…. worked. I met some beautiful, amazing, funny, sincere women (and men!) whose blogs I began to devour. Who I began to stalk on twitter. And on facebook.

Now I sound creepy.

Fast forward to last week, when I heard about another meetup – bloglove at Aveda (one of my most favorite places), hosted by the lovely Chris Ann of LoveFeast Table. I jumped at the chance – especially since I had actually hopefully met some of the women before! – and brought myself a wing man, just in case (thanks, Casey!). And it was, in a word:

Delicious because Chris Ann made some awesome oatmeal raisin cookies, brought strawberries and grapes and chocolate dipped pretzels and crackers with cheese dip.
Anna, Anna & Chris Ann
Delicious because Aveda was serving us all the Aveda tea we could drink.
Molly getting her hand massage
Delicious because the evening was heaped with opportunities to relax, rejuvenate, pamper (hand massages, back & neck massages, make-up touchups, skin & hair consultations, all the yummy smells you could inhale).
Anna’s hair consultation
(Anna, sorry I didn’t tell you I was taking a picture)
Delicious because they sent us home with sweet little bags of trial sizes & samples (including a bath soak I hope to one day take a bath to use)
Casey, Kristin, Anna, Molly & Anna
Delicious because the women gathered there were frank, and funny, and warm, and honest, and open.
Me getting my makeup freshened
Anna, hope you don’t mind me stealing your photo!!
Delicious because it felt like some beautiful friendships were born, and I met some ladies I definitely want to know more of.
The hand pampering station… scrubs, lotion, hand massages….

Delicious because there were no kiddoes running around at our feet and I actually felt like a woman, not a mommy.

Casey getting a skin consultation
Delicious because afterward I actually got to hang out and have a beer with a friend before hustling home.
Anna & Gussy
Delicious because it was a taste of what I yearn for most: connection.
(Back row) Elle~All Things Bright & Beautiful, Erin~House of Turquoise, Molly~ The Snyder Family 5, Casey~Autumn 2010, Anna~Girl With Blog, Michaela~MindfulMomma, Ria ~ Ria’s Collection, Em~The Raven Quoth
(Front row) Chris Ann~LoveFeast Table, Anna~Motherly Law, Maggie~Gussy Sews, Allison~O My Family, Kristin~High Heels And A Hammer

pumpkin donut love

I’ve been preparing for my annual shindig and I’m so excited I can hardly stand it… mostly because of the fabulous people who I know will be coming but quite a bit because I cannot wait to eat my body weight in pumpkin donuts. I’m allowed to gorge – we only make them once a year. ONCE A YEAR, people. So yes, we go a little overboard. But who can resist a fresh donut straight from the fryer, warm and covered in sugar? Yep, that’s what I thought – NO ONE.

I can’t wait for the lovely denoument: Sweeping wood floors doused in sugar that grinds under your feet. The house smelling of hot oil. Reliving hugs and chats and reconnects. Leftover dough to put in the fridge and forget about.
And in honor of all this hubbub, I’m reposting the recipe and the story of my party. And hey – if you’re in the Twin Cities area and want to come, drop me a line. The more the merrier.

Growing up, my mom cooked every day, wending her way artfully through four kids’ appetites and dislikes, plus a husband who had Midwestern tastes – Momma is Italian. She had such a knack for picking out recipes – amazing things like gumbo, chicken cordon bleu, bananas flambe. Not to mention the weekly (or so) pasta installment, with homemade spaghetti sauce that simmered all day.

Dinner in the Adams household was an EVENT – everyone knew not to call from 6 to 7pm because we would be HAVING DINNER. If you happened to be around, you would be ushered to the table with the rest of the herd; if you were there often enough to become one of us, Dad would correct your table manners.

Momma’s cooking was always surefooted, experimental, and full of love. She didn’t measure, winged things, made substitutions even when she hadn’t tried a recipe before. She inspired me. By second grade I was picking out recipes to make dinner for the family myself.

The true treasure, beyond all this, was the sense of tradition and joy surrounding certain culinary creations. Christmas brought strufoli, and autumn brought pumpkin donuts. I so vividly recall sitting watching Fraggle Rock, awaiting the donuts and the chance to start carving my jack-o-lantern. The donuts were our celebration of fall, a time to invite friends to come and join us in our warmth and familial ties. Every year, as soon as the school year dawned anew, we would start dreaming of those donuts.

When I was younger, there were whole donuts, cut perfectly with a glass and then a smaller one for the hole. But the larger donuts always sat, and over the years there were larger and larger preponderances of holes – till there were only holes. They became less perfectly round… but there were always more than we could eat.

When we came to Minneapolis three years ago, I wasn’t sure how to continue the tradition… but back home Momma started hosting an annual pumpkin donut party. She invited friends, made donuts, tea and coffee and opened her home, widening the circle of family ever outward.

The first year here I didn’t know enough people to invite, well, anyone. My mother-in-law came to visit and I initiated her into the tradition; we ate to our hearts’ content.

Last year I followed in Momma’s footsteps, opening our little home to friends. Five came and munched, sucking down cider with me.

Today there were nearly twenty people clustered in our tiny little abode, with fresh donuts churning out every few minutes – till we were nearly roll-able. My second annual Pumpkin Donut Party, with years and years of this ahead of me, and it was lovely – just like my Momma.

Pumpkin Donuts
Recipe type: Bread, Dessert
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  1. Beat eggs and sugar together till light and fluffy.
  2. Combine oil, buttermilk and pumpkin and add to egg mixture.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients together.
  4. Add to the pumpkin mixture.
  5. Chill 1 hour.
  6. Turn out the dough on a floured surface.
  7. Roll it out to ½ inch thick and cut into desired shapes.
  8. Drop donuts into deep hot oil (375 degrees).
  9. Donuts will rise to the surface. Turn them once so both sides brown.
  10. Remove and drain well.
  11. Roll in sugar and enjoy!
** Best eaten hot and fresh out of the frying oil – unfortunately they don’t keep well once made. The dough DOES keep well in the fridge – we just keep the deep fryer out on the counter for a week or so for spontaneous batches.


at my heels

Running was only making things worse. The more he ran, zigzagging back and forth, circling, the more it chased, nipping more and more at his heels, snagging his socks, the game gaining in excitement as it sped up. He was crying, sneaking looks over his shoulder, trying to escape the teeth and the bites and the fear. It was terrifying, as things only can be to a little boy, even if everyone else just thought it was a cute new puppy.

This is how I feel so much of the time – like the nibbles on my ankles are unceasing, no matter how hard I try to escape, no matter how fast I seem to go. The darkness closes in and I’m worried it will take over, take me down, eat me alive. Maybe no one else sees it for what I do – maybe to them it’s something innocuous, like a puppy – but I know it can get me. It’s happened before.
It’s the small little nips – the thoughts that pass through, devaluing what I’m doing, where I’m going, how I’m loved. The whispers dog me, saying I’m not enough, it’s all worthless, and I should just give up. And I think, maybe if I stop running the darkness will stop chasing but the second I slow down fighting it bites harder, deeper.
So I run. I remind myself of all the bright and beautiful things in the world, and how worth fighting for they are. I think how lovely and marvelous the people in my life are. I shut out the dark whispers. And sometimes the running starts to feel freeing, euphoric, and I forget that I’m fleeing from something and simply revel in the motion, the endorphins, the fact that I am able to run.

perfectly imperfect


We found it in the garden, buried deep, during a yard project. Who knows how long it had been there (since the place was built in 1921?) or what exactly it was originally (medicine bottle? liquor?) but we cleaned it up best we could and I promptly fell in love. The squared corners and the teensy little mouth, not to mention the scratches and dirt of age, just twist some place in my heart. It’s become my go-to bud vase. I love the provenance, wondering who used it and for how long (maybe close to 100 years?) it’s sat in the dirt beside my homestead, waiting to be found. The gorgeous lavendar rose we got at a beautiful little local flower & garden shop, Amelia’s, which I adore. The sign said it was locally grown and I think it must be a hardy Minnesota-grown lovely, because this is what it looks like after an entire week of sitting on my dining table. Perfect. The absolute dictionary definition of a rose.
These are the things I’m longing to be: long lasting, patient, beautiful not despite but because of age and use, perfectly imperfect.

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