modern metaphors

i grasp her cold hand and whisper, "i'm not ready for you to go..."
her eyelids flutter open. i notice for the first time that i have her nailbeds. it's funny the things you never notice. the things that connect us. so many things have come from her, my nailbeds are just a silly detail in the legacy she will leave behind.

the matriarch of my family is dying. and i'm not ready.

"oh deary," she scolds me, "you must be ready." and she is. then she shares with me the metaphor that she is counting on. "i believe god walks through his garden everyday and picks the flowers that he wants to take." i hate the thought, of god picking her, but cannot do anything but love the metaphor and the woman in front of me.

i have no such metaphor. and right now i need more than a metaphor, i am praying for a miracle.

i've been praying a lot. which isn't like me. but i'm lost and alone and tired. i'm tired of being self-sufficient and strong. tired of being the one who doesn't need help. who doesn't even think she needs god for godsake!

so the other day, on the way to visit my dying grandmother, I did something i've never done before. i actually let someone take care of me. i let the nice man under my hood to check my fluids. he added two quarts of oil, washer fluid, and anti-freeze. he took care of me, when i couldn't do it alone anymore. i couldn't even check my own fluids. but there is the metaphor, i guess. i'm letting god under my hood. and maybe this modern metaphor is not as beautiful as my grandmother's, but either way you look at it, fluids or flowers, we all need metaphors to live by. to die by.


secret spot

we're going away this weekend to our secret spot. a log cabin in the woods. tucked away just far enough to feel like a real adventure. just the three of us. along with my knitting, a book, and lots of wine, bread and cheese. just a few nights away....celebrating the fact that we've been sharing eachother's secrets for 6 years...


fourth annual

when can something officially be called a "tradition?" well, this is the closest thing we've got. our dearest friends, a short walk over to the the christmas tree farm (4 blocks from our house), trapsing through the snow, finding the perfect spruce, dragging it back home, hot cocoa, nog and knob, and of course the fourth annual question, "where and the hell are we going to put this thing???" (yes, that's our tree off to the right in the above photo!)

it's always way too big, 'cause they look so much smaller in the woods. but it's a tradition that i love and i'd say that it's as close as we'll ever come to traditional.

this year was bittersweet due to bad weather. many couldn't make it. but the good news is everyone is alive.

oh, and the tree definitely won't fit in the door, but it sure looks nice on the front porch!


peep show

lately i've been going to peep shows. for the last three nights actually. it's truely amazing. i feel like i'm the only one watching. i find myself getting all worked up. wondering if anyone else is seeing what i'm seeing. i have to be in just the right spot though. driving on backroads out along the prairie. or hiking up to the hilltop at dusk. all alone, i watch intently.

one night, she's big and round and white. the next night, blazing gold. slowly making her way up over the horizon. causing me to gasp as her peep show begins. then, as if she feels self-conscious showing ALL of herself to me, she covers herself back up. in a shawl of clouds.

the moon.
she's been giving me a private showing each night...


thanksgivings past

reminiscing about thanksgivings past this morning as the snow falls over our sleepy house. it's good to be here. and by here i mean here, at this point in our lives. so many things have changed over the years, evolving to this very moment. this perfect moment in time.

recalling one of our first thanksgivings spent together in duluth, eating mama mia's pizza in my third floor apartment overlooking the lake. we sat on the floor with the box feeling only slightly homesick together. later that evening we went dancing at the raddison hotel downtown. we were the youngest couple there by at least 30 years. we laughed as we left there at midnight, trying not to slip on the ice as we made our way home tipsy and in love.

the following year, still in love, we were busy planning our wedding. thanksgiving day was spent with the new baby Charlie and in six short weeks we were married.

then, having survived a year on the farm, the death of matt's dad, and some small and some slightly larger marital bumps in the road, we took off for Europe to reflect on the last year. we spent thanksgiving day in st. ives england. on the cornwall coast. we ate this amazing turnip soup with garlic bread for lunch and then spent the afternoon on the beach soaking in the sun and watching school kids surf. no one there knew that it was american thanksgiving day. and that was just fine.

fast forward a year. we're in st. paul. living on portland and howell. pulling shots for pumpkin pie and eggnog lattes at starbucks.

now, for the fourth year in a row, we are here. in our very first (an hopefully last) home. and we're not alone either. baby avery sure has a way of making everyday more full.

and finally, today. brings the birth of another babe. melina jane bell. a new life comes in. and everything changes again. the world is shifted. our lives are spun off axis, then back into alignment. each year better than the one before.

we have much to be thankful for...


ahhhh november

i've never really liked november. it seems to make winter "official", or something. plus it's dark, and windy, and not really any snow to speak of, so the cold hardly seems worth it. if you ask me, we could do away with november. ahhhh, but alas, i'm trying to be more positive this year. about winter. and about all sorts of other things.

so, i'm sitting in my kitchen, relaxing while ave is asleep. squash in the oven. listening to christmas music. sipping coffee with eggnog. learning to like november.....ahhhh november.


"gnome" chomsky

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Will the real Noam Chomsky please step forward....

Sorry Mr. Chomsky. You've been outdone....
and by a 6 month old!


flo jo and the farm

we visited the farm in hartland last weekend. we saw cousins,



and combines.

life at 6 months old is pretty great!

we even got to see great-grandma florence, also known as flo jo! at least to us....


mother of all...

it was inevitable really. the first sickness. and believe me, this seems like the mother of all colds. matt's got it, jana's got it, and now avery's got it. it's so hard seeing your little one be miserable. and worse yet, being the only well one to take care of him. his runny nose. the coughing that becomes a gagging, then a horrible choking. the sneezing, the snot shooting out....i could go on. but i'll spare you the details. lets just say that when the hives broke out all over his poor, sad, little face and his eyes started swelling up, i did what any mother would do. i sprayed breastmilk all over his face, and in his eyes. and then i willed him to nurse and nurse until he fell asleep. the hives, gone. the eyes, not red or puffy. i offered matt the same remedy, which he declined, opting for some advil. oh well, i guess the mothering can only go so far. either way, the boys are now both fast asleep upstairs. it ain't easy being the mother of all...but it is rewarding. now time for a nice cup-o-tea and some much needed mothering of the mother.


he has arrived!

little wesley is finally here! and not a moment too soon! he is perfect and very, very small. he has lots of black hair and he snorts a lot! his big brother turns 6 today! happy birthday charlie! and happy birthing day amber! you are a birth warrior!



digging up muddy vegetables all day. pulling up the tomato, squash, and melon vines. feeding the heaping compost pile with rotten, squishy vegetables that were sacraficed in the frost. bumping around in the back of the pickup, down the dirt road to where we throw it all, until next year. laughing with others as we rake up mulch and dead tomatos squish between our toes. it's a dirty, hard job. but even now, after a long hard days work, more work lies ahead. my kitchen floor is covered in mud, brought in on dirty buckets. every space in my refridgerator is taken. every windowsill is crammed with tomatoes. there are herbs hanging everywhere to dry. cupboards stuffed with potatoes, onions and garlic. peppers strung on a line to across the kitchen window. acorn, butternut, delicata, and buttercup squash fill a basket. pumpkins line the front steps, wating to be carved. a pot of soup on the stove, the first of many to be stewed and frozen for the winter. i'm a bit overwhelmed, but there is no time for that. there is babyfood to be made (ave will soon be eating real food!), tomato sauce to be canned, pepper jelly to be created, and herbs to be made into tea. although my body is sore and tired from yesterday at the farm, i must press on. it's what women have done for centuries. and for the first time, i am honored to be doing this "women's work."


don't quit your day job

how many times have you heard this phrase? 10, 15, 115 times? yeah, me too. it seems everyone thinks this is good advice to tell young people. so we finish school, only to find ourselves in some job that pays well and somehow manage to find enough time to pursue what we love IN ADDITION to working a job that we HATE. artists and musicians know this all too well. i've never really considered myself an artist or a musician (thought secretly i aspire to be both), but still, i know how they feel.

but what does it really mean? that doing what you love is a luxury? that you'll never be able to support yourself AND do what you love? that we should just be miserable like our parents and toil away for years and years, only to find out that in the end none of that mattered?

luckily i never had parents like this. my parents are still both trying to figure out what they love. and my dad is STILL quitting his day job (way to go dad!) but luckily i also have friends to show me the way...

Damanda & Andy
Anne it's only a matter of time until this blog gets discovered and you can quit your day job!

and... maybe i won't be burning my work uniform in a large backyard bonfine (again, way to go dad!) but, i did quit my day job.


Dahlia Dreams


isn't it amazing that people plant flowers?
there is no practical value in planting flowers.
it's not like growing vegetables to feed ourselves or planting trees so we can breathe.
unlike these, we don't need flowers to survive.

or do we?

is there a lessen in planting flowers? cultivating beauty for beauty's sake?
you must have to be a dreamer to plant flowers.
my grandpa avery was a dreamer.
he sowed under his field of soybeans to plant flowers.
gladiolas were his favorite.
but he enjoyed all kinds of flowers...I'm sure he would have loved these dahlias.
his wisdom was in that field of flowers. cultivating beauty.
but is it only the dreamers who are capable of such things?

if so, i'm dreaming of dahlias.


pickles and peppers and salsa oh my!

does anyone else want to have a harvest party? i think we should all celebrate the autumn bounty together. in our backyard. as in soon. before the snow flies. everyone who reads this is welcome to come. you just have bring something from your garden, or something you made yourself. we'll feast and feast. how about next saturday late afternoon/evening?


5 months old

ok, that last post was a bit depressing. however, this should lighten the mood a bit. avery at a few days old....and 5 months old. wow!

and these are a few of my favorite comments about my 22 pounder:

"he sure doesn't miss any breakfasts, now does he?"

"oh my god, you could enter him into a contest!"

"your arm muscles must be getting really strong."

"is that normal?"

"are you worried?"

no, i'm not too worried. as long as he doesn't keep up at this rate....he'd be 50 pounds by the time he was a year old! and now THAT would be something to see.


history and heaven

everything is dying. the minute we're born we are all only just getting closer to our own death. and it's this time of year that reminds us of that-that all living things eventually die.

our rituals are dying. all summer long avery and i have walked around the garden each morning to see what's sprung up overnight. but now, nothing is new. the garden smells of death and decay. there are only rotten vines going back into the earth. another tomato falls, another person dies.

the woman i've been is dying. and i need to talk to paige so bad, but she's not here. she's in colorado at yet another funeral (the fifth this year). because like i said, everything is dying.

my identity, like my garden is dying. both of which contain my past and my future. i'm at a crossroads. and it's somewhere between history and heaven.


the great minnesota get together!

matt and i had resolved to skip the fair this year. and as you all know, we are fair lovers. to simply say we are not going to the fair is an understatment. it would be like hemmingway saying he was simply not going to write another word. but with the diapers, and the stroller, and the sleep schedules to keep track of, would it be any fun anyway?!!!? we decided it would be too much trouble and we were coming to terms with our decision, until we saw a special on CBS Sunday morning on the Iowa state fair. after all the clips of huge pumpkins, and pigs and cows, and things to eat on stick, we looked at eachother and said "we're goin' to the fair!" so, with the help of my ma, we made the voyage to st. paul, armed with chew toys, wet ones and of course loads of cash. we ate ourselves silly and ave had a ball. as you can see....
he even got to sit with his papa where matt and his dad used to eat breakfast every year....yes breakfast at the fair, since they parked their motor home there all week.

and he bears a close resemblance to this giant pumkin
peg pushin' the pumpkin
and the last bite....a pronto pup
to hell with sleep schedules, this is the great Minnesota get together...and it only comes once a year!


good news, bad news

the good news is, avery rolled over for the first time.

the bad news is, it was OFF the sofa in the back porch.

the good news is, matt was home.

the bad news was, matt was home.....and had to witness my hysteria.

the good news is, there appears to be no signs of brain damage.

the bad news is, a big 'ol goose egg appeared almost immediately.

the good news is, mama has learned her lesson.

the bad news is, she had to learn it (and so did Ave) the hard way. i mean really hard way. as in right on the cement floor hard.



more flowers...

the cake, the bouquet and the barn dance....check out the little girl in her party dress spinning. magic.


two weddings and a funeral

over the past two weekends i have done two weddings. meaning, i was the florist and arranged the bouquets, the centerpieces, the cakes, the corsages, the alter flowers, etc. both brides wanted organic, local flowers and that is how they found me. i used flowers from the farm and from the ditches on backcountry roads. i found the jackpot on valley grove road, on the way to an old church. it was full of queen anne's lace, swirling milkweed, and daisies. i cut from my own garden and my neighbor's gardens (i asked of course). i loved spending days in the field, cutting flowers, grasses, herbs and such to fill my house with enought plant material to pull off each wedding. one weekend was brutally hot. over 100 degrees. the next weekend was chilly and basically biblical flooding (ok, maybe that's a slight exageration). despite the weather, it was incredible. i felt so alive while arranging, despite getting up at 5am to start so the flowers would be fresh. i worked hard (as many of you know i'm a perfectionist) to get each bouquet and arrangment just right. after delivering each wedding i felt a huge surge of excitment, pride, and renewed sense of creativity. basically, i was in heaven.

and then sunday came. and it was back to work at the hospital. it smelled of death. literally and metaphorically. i think this part of me is dead. i feel that piece of my life coming to an end. sure it's a nice paycheck, but can it compare to pulling over on valley grove road at dusk to cut wild flowers? i don't even need to answer that. the flowers say it all.....


day at the lake

the company party at the lake was a huge success. everyone had fun wakeboarding, surfing and hanging out on the boat. Ave of course hung out under this willow tree and slept most of the day. however, he did wake up briefly to show off his new skills such as holding up his head, standing (with help of course) and smooching mama.

oh, and the scratch is from his fingernail, which makes him look pretty bad ass, especially in the surf shorts.


it's here and it's now

Upon further consideration, I realized that the revolution is here and now. Just because I am a mom, doesn't mean I'm not part of a revolution. Just cause I spend most of my days in the garden, digging up vegetables doesn't mean I can't change the world.

In fact, CSA farms were started by a group of housewives in Japan who wanted to know where their food was coming from. They started working directly with organic farmers...and soon the word spread and the CSA revolution was born.

And there are also mothers who are sending their breastmilk to Africa to feed the orphans whose mother's have died of AIDS. If that is not revolutionary, I don't know what is.

These women are revolutionaries. And they are moms. Huh.
Who woulda thought....


where's the revolution?

so, the other day i was talking to a friend. we were at the farm, sitting under the walnut tree. she was telling me about her new job and how she works with immigrants and fights for immigrants' rights. she is fluent in spanish. she speaks spanish to avery. i love that. i wish i could speak another language. but i can't. i can only arrange flowers.

so, as i arranged the flowers i asked her more about the life that she's living and the lives that she's changing. and she says that she mostly just sits in front of the computer emailing beaurocratic bullshit. and after that she said, "this can't be the revolution, can it?!" and i thought to myself, what revolution? is there a revolution happening?

so, it made me think about revolutions, and what happened to my inner revolutionary?

lately it's hard for me to think of being a revolutionary. i'm just so....tired. and the things worth fighting for now are my right to breast feed in public. my right to good, local food. my right to stay at home with my babe, or to work if I want to. but these are hardly the revolutions of my youth. nor the revolutions that my friend speaks of.

a boob revolution? a food revolution?

hardly new york times material. but i've swore off the media anyway, so why do i care? unfortunately, there is still a part of me that does. care, I mean. i want to start a revolution. but like i said, i can only arrange flowers.



my infofast was incredible. no tv, no news, no books, no mags, no nothin' for a week. and it was a really nice break. in fact, i sort of forgot to check in again after the week was up (sorry anne). needless to say, i enjoyed my free time. i actually slowed down and began to really think about how i wanted to spend my time. my favorite new past-time...watching avery sleep. i had always heard people talk about watching their babies sleep and i secrectly thought, "that sounds like a perfect waste of time, shouldn't you be getting stuff done?? don't you have a LIFE??" well, it is heaven. watching him sleep. and what's even better is watching BOTH my boys fast asleep...and so, after a week of living my own life, instead of being told what to care about, i finally found my own newsworthy story. and it was right here all along.



we had an interesting conversation the other night on paige's back porch. we talked about info. that is information for short. well, we got to talking about where we get our info., how we get our info. (print, web, t.v.) and how there is just way too much bad info. out there. we talked about how the media and context of our info. is so severely biased. and that we're bombarded daily with news and info. that other people think is important. but can we believe everything we see, read or hear? and is there just too much information?

what would it be like if we got our info. from our life experiences? what would it be like if people walked outside to check the weather rather than checking the local forcast? what would it have been like to learn about breastfeeding first hand, from other mothers rather than having to read a book? what if we all learned about the world from expereiencing it, rather than living vicariously through the info. we get on the nightly news, or in the paper?

then i started thinking about where i get MY info. there's the ellen show, and then the View (which i consider my "news" intake for the day). then there is the blog world, lots of info. to weed through there. and can't forget the monthly subscriptions: Dwell, Mothering, The Sun, Cookie. and, not to mention the 4 books i'm currently reading: Operating Instructions, The 7 daughters of Eve, Let my People go Surfiing, and Tracks. and of course, i balance all this out with the REAL source: MPR. But, with all this info., am I any better off? am i more informed? or am i just living less?

i think it's about time to get things straight. for myself.

in efforts to figure this out i'm going to challange myself to stop the info. i'm going for a WEEK, yes, a whole week without picking up a book, a magazine or turning on the tv (oh, and no blogs either) to see how well i can function in today's world without buying into the info. what will life be like without the info? i might just have to start thinking for myself (now that's a scary thought). i'll let you know how it goes. oh, and if anyone wants to join me, feel free. it may just be liberating!


how many signs does it take to get to the center of my tootsie pop?

i'm asking for signs. signs that will bring me to the center of myself. signs that will show me which direction to go. signs that encourage me, that inspire me, that invite me to look at my life differently. i want a sign. I NEED a sign. but how many signs will it take???

so far i've received 4.

4! you may ask yourself, isn't that enough? well, yes, for a normal person. but i am NOT a normal person. and i keep asking myself how many signs it will take. and also, how do i know when i get a sign. and what if i am missing the signs. afterall, i do need to find the center of my tootsie pop.


happy birthday Amber!

this time last year i was in thailand. and i missed my sister's birthday. i wanted to talk to her so bad it hurt. i wanted to talk to anyone back home. anyone to remind me of the life that existed there. to escape for a moment what i was seeing here.

it feels like a lifetime ago... yet i remember that night in perfect detail. walking around that whole island trying to find a phone that worked. my feet hurt from my flip flops and they were filthy from walking the dirty sidewalks and through the puddles because it had rained so hard all afternoon. and trying and trying the phones, but none of them worked. and jana just kept saying, "that's thailand." and i just kept wanting to scream, "how fucked up is that! if you are going to bother putting up phones and selling phone cards then, why don't you have phone lines?" and finally just giving up cause my feet hurt and my throat hurt from choking back tears.

and now looking back, thinking about how absurd it is to have phone lines across oceans. and people in the mountains selling pillows with stories on them to people like me who come home and put them on pillows that sit on nice couches. and what kind of world can this be i keep wondering? but, another year passes. and measuring my life in years is getting harder and harder to do because of all i've seen and heard and know. but a life is not only measured in years. luckily.

so, my sister is a another year older today. and the truth is, love transcends oceans....



"It's Lota. rhymes with Minnesota," she says with a chuckle after an hour of visiting with her. by now it's 7:30 and we were supposed to meet friends at the pool by 6:30. but walking down 4th street we got side tracked by a woman outside her house watering the peonies. but not just any woman. and not just any house.

it's the house matt and i have coveted ever since we started looking for houses here 3 years ago. it's a sweet, low-slung, mid-century gem, tucked amongst the victorian mansions of the east side. it's car-port, slanted roof-line and vertical cedar-siding caught our eye immediately. and so did lota. i remember when we first saw her. she was outside in her garden, it was a hot summer day, much like today. but we didn't have the courage to stop then (we weren't locals yet).

but today, walking with our stroller, feeling very local, we meandered through the east side on our way to the pool. we found ourselves instinctively walking down 4th, to see our favorite house. and there she was. all 5 feet of her. not feeling shy at all we told her we loved her home and asked if she could tell us a bit about it.

lota moved in with her husband in the summer of 1961. they bought the lot for $1200 and had a local architect design the house. his name was bob warn, and he was a student of frank lloyd wright. she said it caused quite a stir in the neighborhood, but she never did care what people thought, she said.

i liked her immediately. lota. she was a spit fire i could tell. and she was 89. we talked a a bit more and then, just as we were about to start our good-byes, she did something incredible...she invited us in! wow, what an honor we told her. "i can sense something about you two," she told us. "a lot of people stop and ask about the house, but i can tell you're really interested. wait here i have to go 'round and unlock it." and from the moment we entered until we left we heard the most incredible stories. what a gift it was to go through this woman's home with her and have her share the intimate details of her life. we just kept looking at eachother in awe as she showed us around. not only at the house, but at lota.

and as we stood in the doorway to leave, she told us how after her husband died that dozens of realtors had called to see if she would be selling. "i was polite at first, but then i started to get really agitated. they are going to have to carry me out of here--in a casket" she finally told them.

and i guess that's the lesson of lota. seeing the humaness behind the house. i have to be honest. the thought had crossed my mind years ago, when we first spotted the house and the "little old lady" outside in the garden. you can see where this is going.

i used to really love this house. but now i love lota. in fact, i'm going to have coffee with her again real soon. she may have the best house in town, but it's her, lota, that i really want to live in.


Happy Anniversary!

here's a little kiss
for my little sis
who got married a year ago...

all i can say is...wow!