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Longing for home

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

It’s been four months since I left Minneapolis, four months since I sent my things to storage and walked out of my house for the last time.

I have a hard time talking about losing my house — and yes, that is the language that makes most sense to me: losing my house. Because while it was my decision to sell it (and I made that decision wholeheartedly at the time), just three weeks before closing, my life and my circumstances changed. In the end, I was forced to leave that house not on my own terms. Suddenly, in the context of the new shape of my life, it was being taken from me in a way I couldn’t stop.

I lost my house.

I hesitate to use this analogy, because I want to be sensitive to those who have experienced this nightmare in a literal sense. But I hope you’ll give me grace when I say that packing my house was a sort of emotional stillbirth: informed that the life I was expecting had no heartbeat, I still had to labor, only to arrive on the other side with… nothing. Stacked on top of the relational loss that I was simultaneously experiencing, it’s one of the most profoundly sad things I’ve ever been through.

So here I am, four months later, still processing, still without a home. Thanks to the kindness and hospitality of family and friends, I’m not exactly “homeless”; I’ve never been without a bed, and I know I never will be. But it’s exhausting to live out of suitcases and duffel bags and the backend of a car. It’s hard to be organized when you don’t have your own space. It’s inconvenient to bounce from place to place with a dog in tow. It’s frustrating to realize that so many things you wish you had are buried deep in a storage unit somewhere in the suburbs of Minneapolis.

I have given myself these months to sort through my options, ask big questions, and make some decisions. I still don’t know where those decisions will ultimately lead me. But I see no harm in telling you that when it comes to re-rooting, Nashville, Minneapolis, and Kansas City are the cities on the table.

Right now, I am free in every way. I’m single. I have no financial ties or dependents. I have a job I can do from anywhere. The world is wide open to me, which sounds like a dream — but to be honest, this sort of openness feels less like freedom and more like a burden. If you’ve never been in a similar situation, take it from me: when anything is possible, the abundance of options can be paralyzing.

So while some people are encouraging me to continue to float from place to place, to extend this untethered season for as long as I can (probably because they’ve never been in this position, which makes it easy to romanticize), I’ve decided that it’s time to decide. I believe we’re wired for commitment, and that commitment — to a place, a person, or a vocation — equals freedom. Responsibility, routine, and ritual root us in a healthy way, and I’ve found this rootedness difficult to maintain without the consistency of home.

I also believe that we’re created to long for home, and that while this longing is ultimately a symptom of our homesickness for heaven, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t create a nest here and now. So I hope to have some news to share about where my next home will be soon. I think I know where I’m leaning, but who knows, man? I have a lot of options.

Grief, forgiveness, and love

Monday, August 28th, 2017

A few months ago, my life was completely upended when a man I deeply loved betrayed my trust and broke my heart. While the details matter to me, all I’ll say is this: I was planning to move to Nashville so we could be together, but it didn’t happen. The relationship was serious enough to warrant me selling my house and putting a down payment on another — but when a man tells you there’s someone else, you do not follow through with a move across the country to be with him.

I have hesitated to write about this, because in doing so, I can only share my own experience. This person is living a now separate narrative, and despite the pain that his choices have put me through, I am not out to demonize or villainize anyone involved. He meant more to me than that. I’m just sad.

I want to be honest about what I’ve gone through, what I’m still going through. I am not writing from a place of resolution or remedy; the heartache is still very much in process for me because I lost so much. I lost a man who had become my best person. I lost a relationship I had been led to believe was “it.” I lost a dream of a future that had made so much sense — even felt confirmed and ordained by God, to be honest. I lost not one, but two houses. I lost any sense of direction or home. I lost the ability to trust. I lost 15 lbs and a whole lot of money. I lost everything we had been building toward. Cruelest of all, in some moments, I lost all hope.

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How do you hold the conflicting emotions of heartbreak, anger, and the remnants of love all at the same time? It’s an unbearable tension. But here is what I’m learning.

GRIEF
To experience grief in all of its awful fullness is human and healthy. To sidestep it, whether through alcohol, travel, social media, shopping, sex, or tattoos, is to cauterize our humanity. It’s best to lean straight into the pain; if we don’t, it will seep like oil through a bed of dead leaves, poisoning life from the ground up. Numbed-out grief leads to anger, anger leads to depression, depression leads to a critical spirit and a lack of peace.

But grief? We are promised that grief leads to comfort. Beauty. Dancing. I want to be a person who looks my pain in the eye, regardless of what it costs me, and then rest in knowing that there is still goodness ahead — eventually.

FORGIVENESS
Forgiveness is not primarily for the one you are forgiving. It’s for you. Choosing to forgive sets you free from the bondage of what was done to you, the pain that was inflicted upon you. It doesn’t change it, it certainly doesn’t excuse any of it — but it loosens your chains and allows you to move forward, inch by inch, breath by breath, day by day. When you release the grip on your right to harm the other person, you get your hands back. You get your life back. Slowly.

It doesn’t happen all at once. I’m finding it’s something I have to do over and over in the hopes that one day my heart will match the choice. It stings like a death; a grave is involved, the burying of a perfectly good hatchet.

Nothing about it feels fair. Nothing about it feels justified. But isn’t that the point?

LOVE
You cannot love without risk. There is no such thing. The pain I’m in comes from the love I felt, because I was brave enough to show up as my fullest, truest self and enter a relationship that mattered. And when you truly love someone, you don’t get to be in control. To force, to clutch, to cling, to do whatever it takes to get your way — that is not a picture of love. That is a picture of fear. Fear is a liar, and the opposite of love.

This may have ended in disaster for me, but I will never regret opening my heart to hope and allowing myself to be known by another. It’s the bravest thing I’ve ever done, and a testament to strength, not weakness.

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I am not “recovered.” This experience has altered my insides in ways I struggle to articulate. I was left heartbroken and homeless, and some days I’m still so sad, when I walk around I swear you can hear my heart rattle in my chest. Time truly is the only healer for something so brutal, and unfortunately, there’s no way to fast-forward. But I’ve made it through these first few months; here I raise my Ebenezer.

You may be wondering where I am. I obviously had to move out of my Minneapolis house in July, gutted and reeling, suddenly with nowhere to go. But thanks to my amazing friends and family, I’ve found places to go. Foxy is with me, of course. We’re being taken care of.

I have missed sharing my life in a virtual way. It didn’t feel right for me to carry on posting like nothing had happened, because racking up likes and comments is a false balm. The pain of this betrayal has been potent, and it’s been important for me to honor it by bearing the full weight of what I’ve lost. But I’m still here.

The path I took to get here has washed out behind me. The way forward isn’t yet clear. But I’m gathering the broken pieces in hopes of building something new. It’s not the future that I wanted, but it’s the future that I’m going to get. And somehow, I want to live it well.

You’ll be hearing from me again soon, grief and forgiveness and love intermingled, moving forward and holding on to hope for dear life.

Huge thanks to my amazing sister-in-law Ashley Parsons for capturing this image. You’ve helped remind me that I’m strong in a season when I’ve felt anything but.

On the move… again

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

This little dream house… I can’t believe it, but I’ll be handing the keys over to someone else in July. My two years in Minneapolis have been abundantly sweet, rich, and healing — and now it’s time to go.

I will miss the amazing friends I’ve made, my perfect fence, and the cheese curds. I will grieve the loss of my trails every single day (although the projected Southwest light rail was going to ruin them eventually anyway, ugh). I CANNOT BELIEVE I’ll miss the chance to rent this house through Airbnb for Super Bowl LII. But I will always, always be grateful that I had the chance to live here. Minneapolis was never on my radar until I started flying here for work in 2012, and I fell in love with it. Everyone should be so lucky to get a chance to live here — not just despite the winter, but even because of it. It makes you tough, it’s pretty darn beautiful, and even if you hate it, the summer makes up for it all.

As for where I’m headed, well… see you soon, Nashville!

All the shingle ladies

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

I’m sure you’ve been on the edge of your seat, just dying to know WHAT ON EARTH has transpired since my last blog. Here’s the answer:

1) I had to replace my entire HVAC system.
2) My abdominal pain turned out to be shingles. Because I am 72-years old.

The first thing makes me want a drink. The second thing means I can’t have one. A big old SIGH to all of it.

But despite it all, I recently told a friend, “I think I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.” And in that moment – not spectacular or special or particularly noteworthy in any way, just a regular moment – I really meant it. This fall has been so good to me. I’m well-rested, working only part-time (and loving it), taking the dog on so many walks, and peppering my schedule with life-giving people and events. It’s quiet a lot of the time, but it’s okay. My life is lacking nothing (except skinnier thighs, but what a stupid thing to let ruin my contentment).

On my birthday back in August, I realized that I only get a good year every three years (22, 25, 28, 31). This year, 34, I’m due. I’m happy to report that the pattern continues.

I don’t know what happens next or how long this particular day-to-day will look like it does right now, because I don’t know that my current circumstances feel all that permanent. But I’m grateful, and I want to remember it, shingles and all (except not the shingles).

Old enough

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

I only slept for five hours. When I woke, it was to a frigid house and a dull ache in my lower right abdomen.

Foxy was on the bed with me, curled up like a coyote, snout tucked beneath her tail. While she’s welcome on the bed, she usually doesn’t choose to be there. She’s independent and she needs her space. We’re a lot alike.

This morning, I was glad to find her on the bed. I wasn’t alone. I was freezing and weirdly in pain, but I wasn’t alone.

I picked up my phone and typed it in — abdominal pain lower right side — and it spit out the answer, the authoritative answer: Appendicitis. Go to the hospital immediately, it said. It will burst within 24 hours, it said. Once it bursts, it’s too late. You are dead, it said.

Appendectomy cost, I typed. I found a story about a Reddit post in which the bill for a 20-year old guy totaled $55,000. “I guess I’ll never afford that wallpaper,” I thought. Mentally subtracting my very high insurance deductible from my bank account, I decided that before driving myself to the hospital, I should try drinking some Metamucil, which I stock in my cupboard because at some point, I became old enough to stock Metamucil in my cupboard.

I got out of bed and put on a down jacket and wool socks. Why was the house so cold? I made my way down the stairs and into the kitchen. Two rounded teaspoons of orange powder in a tall glass of water, then down the hatch. Within 30 minutes, I felt fine.

Appendectomy averted.

But the furnace. The furnace wasn’t working. The thermostat read 50 degrees. I texted Dane next door and asked him if he knew anything about furnaces, and he said he didn’t, but came over to look anyway. We took the panels off the machine and looked inside with flashlights — for what, we didn’t know.

I found a big cricket dead beside the furnace, and then realized it wasn’t a big cricket but a tiny mouse. Not an insect. An actual mammal with bones. How long had it been there? Did whatever killed the mouse kill the furnace, too? I grabbed it in a dryer sheet and threw it in the dumpster.

I called an HVAC repairman, and he showed up in the afternoon. I left him in the basement. Later, he called me downstairs. “What I’m about to tell you will make you want to tell me to get the hell out of your house,” he said.

The furnace is shot. I need a new one. They recommend also replacing the AC unit at the same time, especially since my AC unit is already over 20 years old, on its last legs. I thought about telling him to get the hell out of my house. When he gave me the estimate, I stared at him, and then said, “I want to curl up in a ball on this basement floor.” He laughed. I didn’t. It’s more money than I’ve ever spent on anything, even a car, save this house itself.

But my house is so cold.

I almost did it. I almost signed on the dotted line, which would have guaranteed me a brand new HVAC system by Tuesday. But at the last minute, as the salesman was walking around my house counting and measuring the windows in order to file the permits, my defeated, slumped shoulders straightened up.

If I’m old enough to stock Metamucil in my cupboard, then God knows I’m old enough to have learned to seek a second opinion, and probably a third. I’m also old enough to know that money is just money, so even if it’s worst case scenario, well, oh well. I’m old enough not to panic at a financial gut punch. I’m old enough to look a man in the face and let him know that I will not be pressured into anything.

And if I’m that old, then I’m definitely old enough to sit at my dining room table at 8pm on a Saturday night just typing out the events of the day.

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My favorite words, via Emily McDowell

Live frugally on surprise

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Write in the middle of it.

That’s what someone told me to do. As an introvert, my inclination is to wait until things are settled, processed, and sorted before sharing news in any kind of broad way — but I’m realizing that it might be awhile before things are settled, processed, and sorted, so OH WHAT THE HECK.

A year after moving to Minneapolis (Sunday was my Minneversary), I’ve decided to leave my job, the one I moved across the country for. There are a lot of factors that went into this decision, and it was not one that I made lightly. That said, I have a lot of peace about the decision itself, even though it leaves me staring into a future I can’t yet see.

From a job to the city in which I live, everything feels very much up for grabs right now — and while I’m experiencing a sense of possibility and potential, every idea I explore has a cost, a rub. My friend Leigh Kramer once wrote about the “jar lid click” — the moment when everything lines up — and so far, none of my ideas have led to that intuitive sense of alignment.

I don’t know what I’m going to do.

I am not the “leap and the net will appear” girl. I am a planner, a preparer, a “that’s not in the budget” pragmatist. The fact that I quit a job without a new plan in place is so out of character, it makes me question everything I thought I knew about myself. (What if I start liking board games?)

But you know what? The best stories of my life have been the things I could never have predicted or manipulated into happening — like once writing a song about a snack bar that landed me a job, or buying the first and only house I looked at (happened in both Denver and Minneapolis), or meeting people I had no idea would change my life (I’m looking at you, Keri Alexander, Kari Medina, Katie Freeze, Carin Towne, a whole slew of folks in Nashville, gal pals in Denver, my nephews, Foxy Brains, and, okay, EVERYONE).

Here is an idea I like:

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I don’t know what’s coming next. But I’m going to try living frugally on surprise, the rhythm and simplicity of the unknown, and see what happens.

Or I might buy a bed & breakfast. (I’ll add it to this list.)

We can never go back

Saturday, June 11th, 2016

If you really want to torture yourself, keep your email address linked with the house you used to own in a city where real estate is on a rapid upward trajectory. Once a week or so, you’ll get an update that tells you how much the value of your former home has increased, i.e. how much money you didn’t make because you sold when you did. Bless.

Yesterday, I finally (mercifully) cut the Zillow cord with the Shotgun, my old, charming, 11-foot wide, 600 square foot house in Denver. I loved that nest, and it was the perfect place for me to live for the years I spent there — but that season is over. I made a choice, which led to a decision tree of other choices, all of which ultimately led my life 900 miles away to Minneapolis.

The cruelest question in the world is “what if.”

And yet, we ask it all the time, don’t we? What if I had stayed? What if I had gone? What if I had said yes? What if I had said no? What if I had met that person, or not met that person, or met that person at a different time? What if I had never left my house in Denver and now was sitting on an 11-foot wide MOUNTAIN OF GOLD.

Dumb, all of it.

Asking “what if” keeps us stuck, mentally revising the past toward a future that will never actually be. It’s a waste of energy and a waste of heart. Like Joy Williams sings, “We can never go back, we can only go on and on and on.”

Real estate profits are the least of it — because that stuff doesn’t matter, really. It’s about owning your life, owning your decisions, blessing the good, and wrestling the bad (which, by the way, would exist no matter which path you would have chosen). It’s about seeing your story for the adventure that it is, and realizing that certain things aren’t up to you, anyway. It’s about knowing that it’s a privilege to have a choice at all.

If you struggle with feeling alone, or anxious, or frantic because life doesn’t look the way you imagined it would — well, me too. Keep going, though, because we can never go back. We might as well move forward, because who knows what might be up there?

2015: Everything Changed and I Cried

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

There is no better summation of my 2015 than this: Everything Changed and I Cried.

I should caveat this by saying that right now, in the last days of the year, I am steady and stable and grateful for my life and current situation. It took a little while, but here I am.

But for the last 363 days until now, 2015 has been a doozy. One year ago today, I lived in Denver and had no inkling I was about to turn my entire world upside down with one little job application. Fast forward until now, having made it through five months of an interview process, an eventual job offer, the selling of one house, the purchasing of another, a cross-country move, the beginning of a new job (in a new role with new people and new responsibilities), and all that goes along with “starting over” in a new city, and here I stand, scratching my head and wondering where the year went.

Given that the last 12 months were a blur (I don’t remember the first half of the year at all), I figured I’d take a page from my girl Dani’s book and reflect via a listicle. If you’re a blogger (or even just a journaler), feel free to lift these questions — I found it to be a helpful way to sort out the past year.

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1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
I sold a house, moved for a job, mowed a lawn, and helped harvest honey on a friend’s farm.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
In the name of self-acceptance, I didn’t make any resolutions at the beginning of 2015. I am now feeling snarky about that concept, and would like to change everything about myself in order to be better, cooler, and prettier in 2016. My goals for the coming year will flow from this place of self-loathing.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Just about everyone, it feels like. Welcome Willa, Arthur, Adelay, Blake, Harriet, Autumn, Jenna, Griffin, Hank, Ramona, and many others! (Theo, Teddy, and Eliza just missed the cut, arriving in late December 2014.)

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, not even my car, thank God.

5. What countries did you visit?
USA all the way.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you didn’t have in 2015?
The runner’s booty.

7. What dates from 2015 will be etched upon your memory, and why?
July 3. I left Colorado and didn’t stop until I got to Minnesota.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
Accepting the fact that people do what makes sense to them, and it’s useless trying to control them. It’s even okay to forgive them.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I let my heart get entangled with someone who didn’t like me as much as I liked him. Such is life. I definitely wouldn’t call it a “failure,” though, since given the option, I think it’s always best to use one’s heart instead of protecting it. #noregrets

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I have been consistently dizzy for the past month, experiencing about two bloody noses per week (one of which occurred five minutes after I finished singing “Breath of Heaven” for my mom’s church on Christmas Eve — happy holidays). I am not dehydrated, so the only other option according to WebMD is that I have a fatal disease. Stay tuned!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A new house, obviously. But I’m also quite fond of my new pom-pom hat.

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12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Kristen, who quit her comfortable life in Denver to take a really difficult but important job in Jackson, Mississippi. Kayla, who went beast mode on her dreams and started a non-profit initiative designed to empower women. Anna Talley, who drove Foxy from Denver to Minneapolis. Becca Groves who, after being 10 days overdue, made it through a 54-hour labor to deliver sweet baby Hattie. Glennon Doyle Melton & friends who took actual action to assist with the refugee crisis. The guys with the eagle.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Donald Trump.

14. Where did most of your money go?
My fence. RIP, money.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I was really, really, really excited when I was offered the job I am now in. I also was really, really, really excited when Foxy finally arrived in Minnesota, bringing our month-long separation to a close. And I bought a ticket to Hong Kong for a trip that’s now only seven weeks away!

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
I wish I had a cooler answer, but “Stay a Little Longer” by the Brothers Osborne.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
Sadder (only slightly). Fatter (only slightly). Poorer (but more money always comes). But I never want to say the sentence “I am sadder, fatter, and poorer than I was last year,” so let’s forget this ever happened, shall we?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Hiking while I lived in Colorado. I did a lot, but it’s never enough — especially now that I live in a less hike-worthy state (but nonetheless pretty and explore-able).

I also wish I had written more.

I also wish I had cooked more actual dinners.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Wasting time on social media.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
I woke up and drank coffee with my mom, then took Foxy on a walk, then read for a while, then ate grilled chicken and salad, then went to see Joy. No presents — that will happen tonight.

21. Did you fall in love?
No, but I suppose I could have if circumstances had been different. Ain’t that always the case.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Broadchurch. I started watching The Man in the High Castle this week (halfway through the short season), and can’t stop thinking about it.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate’s a very strong word, and I don’t hate anyone. No.

24. What was the best book you read?
My favorite book always tends to be the one I’m currently reading — which right now is All the Light We Cannot See.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Sean McConnell.

26. What did you want and get?
A house with a guest room, a yard, a front porch swing, and a basement.

27. What did you want and not get?
I can’t be trusted to answer this question. I could share an entire Rolodex of the things I wished for, but then Garth Brooks would start singing “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers” and I would be totally pwned.

28. What was your favorite film of 2015?
I watched so few movies in 2015. I never saw Inside Out, Star Wars, Creed, Trainwreck, Steve Jobs, Still Alice… in fact, the only movie I saw on this list of Top 100 Movies of 2015 is Selma. So I guess Selma? (To be fair, Selma was very good.)

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I went to work, had a visit from my mom and nephews at the office, and ate salmon and salad for dinner. I am now 33, the same age as Bridget Jones and Jesus.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
The runner’s booty.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2015?
Lazy and generally misguided.

32. What kept you sane?
Long walks and the occasional anti-anxiety pill (honesty is the best policy).

33. What political issue stirred you the most?
Gun control. There is absolutely zero reason why a civilian should have access to an assault rifle.

34. Who did you miss?
My girlfriends from Denver.

35. Who was the best new person you met?
Maia Tarrell.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
Don’t leave Foxy at a friend’s house with white carpet.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
When you see the one you used to love
Beneath the mistletoe
With a girl you’ve never seen before
Who’s dressed just like a ho-ho-ho

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All in all, 2015 was an exciting but stressful, transitional year that was a necessary step in order to get to a new chapter — one that I believe was the next right step. I am ready to see what 2016 holds, and I really hope it doesn’t include Donald Trump as president. Kumbaya.

My cattle panel fence

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

This is going to expose me for being the spoiled brat of a consumerist that I am, but here it goes anyway: I still have an iPhone 4 and it’s RUINING MY LIFE. *throws self on ground to flail*

A rundown of my first world phone problems: It’s slow. I try to slide the bar to answer a call and it just sits there. Siri is broken; she sounds like a smoker from Boca Raton. When I use Maps for directions, there’s a delay that results in me being told to exit about five seconds too late. And the camera — you know, the 5 megapixel camera that used to feel so extravagantly advanced — is absolute crap.

So when it came time to photograph the finished product of the cedar-framed cattle panel fence I had installed, the iPhone just wouldn’t do. Nay, I say to thee. This was an occasion for a good old fashioned digital camera — just like the pioneers used.

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I love my fence so much, and in a way, it’s changed my everyday life. It’s absolutely luxurious to be able to throw Foxy outside in the morning and not have to follow her; she can hunt squirrels to her heart’s content while I make my coffee. I love the fact that the entire yard is enclosed, so if I want to sit on my front porch swing (because I have a front porch swing, just like I’ve wished for my entire life), Foxy can hang around. I may not have the most up-to-date phone — but damn it, I have a fence surrounding a tiny little dream house, and that means that life is pretty extravagant.

Things I love about Minneapolis so far

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Wells Fargo Center
Is this a beautiful building or what? And it glows gold at night! I made up a story in my head that it was built in the 1920s, since it’s so art deco – but alas, it went up in 1988. No one can say that nothing good came out of the 80s (because me, this skyscraper, and Taylor Swift).

Wells_Fargo_Center

 

The Chain of Lakes
I know. The Chain of Lakes is SO OBVIOUS. But as someone who walks a lot (a lot a lot), I love having a variety of loops to choose from. The Lakes are especially nice because the walking paths and the biking paths are separate, so whenever Foxy sees a squirrel and does a sudden lunge and pulls my arm out of the socket, hey, no bike wreck. I most frequent Lake of the Isles, and during my first week in town, I saw Laura Dern sitting on a bench. She was beautiful and had very long legs.

Lake

 

106.1 FM
It’s literally called BOB FM. Country so old, their idea of “modern” is John Michael Montgomery and Terri Clark. I love it so much, and recently surprised myself by knowing all of the words to Collin Raye’s “Little Rock” (“I needed a new town for my new start, selling VCRs in Arkansas at a Walmart”). They play Blackhawk and Travis Tritt and Kathy Mattea and Hank Jr. Their special on-air guests include Jeff Foxworthy, who should have a new joke aimed at me: “If you listen to BOB FM…”

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Minnehaha Off-Leash Dog Park
This dog park is humongous – trails and woods and a long stretch of beach where dogs can romp like wild mongrels (Denver friends, think of Cherry Creek State Park, except more trees and the Mighty Mississippi). Foxy turns into the best version of herself whenever she can run free, so this place has been especially good for her in the midst of her depression – and as a bonus, I get a little exercise, too.

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Joyfully Becca
Becca and I were blog friends for a very long time, and became real life friends in 2013. She and her family live on and run a hobby farm a little south of the cities, and her posts are pure gold. Nothing flashy, nothing embellished or overly dramatic – just real life with a husband and two (almost three) kids, surrounded by chickens and barn cats and honeybees and a huge garden. I love the glimpses she gives into everyday life, and the way that she notices and celebrates the small things – because the small things are really the big things, right?

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Cheese curds
Because Jesus loves us.

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Flock of Broads
This group-blog is authored by five of my former co-workers, four of whom still live in the Twin Cities. They write on a fantastic variety of topics, from food to parenthood to culture to dogs to fashion and – an old favorite on this here weblog – feeeeeelings. They are amazing and girl-crush-worthy. I really like them, each one.

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My house
Foxy and I have been settling in, getting used to the sounds and the quirks and the details, and my conclusion is I can’t believe I get to live here. I am learning a new routine and new walking paths, and letting it sink in that I have an entire closet JUST FOR PANTS. It’s a sweet life in this new home.

Painted in Waterlogue