The Fox Den

Written by hootenannie on August 11th, 2015

I’m a homeowner again – as in, fare thee well, all of my dollars.

But for a most worthy cause.


A few weeks ago, I traded the little sum I got from the sale of the Shotgun in Denver for a 1916 – farmhouse? Bungalow? Victorian? The official style is unclear, since different elements of the house favor different trends – but in any case I’m dubbing it the Fox Den, for obvious reasons.


I have tiny-bit-more-than doubled my square footage – which, coming from a 600 square foot Shotgun house, was not hard to do. Still though, just a 2 bed / 1 bath feels like so much space. I have an entire closet JUST FOR COATS – and it’s a good thing, because come Minnesota winter, you know I’m going to need them.


Here are a few things I’ve learned in this particular home-buying process:

  • Internet service providers are like political candidates – they’re all the worst, but they’re all we have to choose from.
  • Mowing a lawn is basically just like vacuuming, but burning more calories.
  • When house hunting, it’s best to buy the first and only house you look at*.

It’s true: I’m two for two. When I bought the Shotgun in Denver, it was because I wandered into an open house while on a walk (not house hunting at all), stood in the front doorway, thought “I like this – maybe I should buy it?” and then I did. I never looked at a single other abode.

This time around, my friend Gabe’s friend JMatt was selling his house without listing it through a realtor – and when I found out about it, I just so happened to be in Minneapolis wrapping up with Larabar. So I grabbed my friend Mark (who was in town from New York) and we went to take a look.

Mark asked all of the questions you’re supposed to ask when considering the largest purchase of your life (“When was the roof replaced?” “Why is there a cluster of wires coming up through the laundry shoot?” “Allow me to inspect the basement walls.”) – but I just walked around swooning.


And then I bought it.

I thought about looking at other houses in other neighborhoods, but… why? This house was everything I wanted: warm, welcoming, with enough space for guests to come and stay. A big yard for Foxy. A back deck and a front porch swing. A mile and a half from work. Why WOULDN’T I buy this house?

So now I’m settled in. I love it so much. It’s more than I knew to ask for or imagine, and falls into the “Generous Things I Do Not Deserve But Will Never Take For Granted” column (which is already overflowing, to be honest). I am grateful for my home, and want to fill it up with my people.

So please come and see me.

*I cannot be held liable for this backfiring in your face.

Thoughts on some country songs

Written by hootenannie on August 3rd, 2015

Hi! Long time no write-to. I know that you’ll understand when I say that life has been bonkers. Moving? While exciting and fun, it’s not for the faint of heart – and this move from Denver to Minneapolis has been the most complicated I’ve ever experienced. So many changes all at once. So many snafus and logistical curveballs. So many emotions (yes, including the crying kind). Thankfully, I am FINALLY in my new house, and dying of love about the whole thing. Expect a post soon with pictures – but until then, let’s talk about the thing that we all have in common.

Country music.

Country music is the most popular genre in America – and given that 95% of this site’s readership is from the US of A, I can only deduce that a large portion of you are down with the twang. It’s a good club to be a part of, and we’re all in this together. Here are some of my (very valuable) thoughts on the songs that bind us together.


I’ve said it before: I cannot get enough of her. Her voice is hickory and honey, straight as an arrow but jagged on the edges. It has been a long time since I’ve loved a gal straight out of the gate.

Listen and love:
Burning House
My Mistake
Heart Broke Heart


If I hear “Love You Like That” one more time, I will throw myself in that same Mississippi River. (After all, I’ve got easy access now.)


One would think that a song that starts out, “Hey girl – wassup?” would be an immediate no-go. But oh man. I am really loving “Break Up With Him.” It’s everything I wish a hunky bearded man would sing to me – you know, if I was actually already dating someone, and he happened to be a loser (don’t put it past me).


Back in June, Carin and I went to his show at Mile High in Denver. He opened the show with “Kick the Dust Up“– and given its total bro-status, I am almost ashamed at how much I love this song. I know every word. EVERY SINGLE WORD DO NOT CHALLENGE ME YOU WILL LOSE. I sing along full voice every time it comes on the radio – including the grunted “huh”s and “kick it”s.


I thought that the song of my summer would be “Somewhere In My Car” (again: I know every rapidly-sung word; I could win a karaoke contest with this one) – but then he had to throw out “John Cougar John Deere John 3:16.” This is in fact the song of my summer – but only because I WAS the prom queen.

(The only thing you get from being the prom queen is the ability 15 years later to say “I was the prom queen” – so one must take full advantage at every opportunity.)


Without a doubt, he is the best looking man to ever walk the face of this planet – despite his questionable taste in jeans. “Leave the Night On” and “Take Your Time” were slam dunks – but “House Party”? I can’t. Something about the melody of the chorus is utterly grating. That doesn’t stop it from getting embedded in my brain, looping over and over and over until I, like the neighbors, want to call the cops.


Every morning when my alarm clock goes off at 5:58am, “Tonight Looks Good On You” is playing. In addition the anachronistic placement, I don’t like the song. Why, you ask? I just don’t like it. I need not say any more – it’s my own personal non-preference. This is my blog, so feelings = verdict.


Is Cam seriously the only girl I mentioned? I mean, I always adore Hillary from Lady A, and have found a guilty pleasure in Kelsea Ballerini’s “Love Me Like You Mean It.”

But… ladies? Where are you? WE NEED YOU SO BAD.

Because you’ve all seen this, right?

I’m missing Trisha, and Martina, and Patty Loveless, and most of all, the Dixie Chicks.

Ribbons and bows, X’s and O’s,


Written by hootenannie on July 22nd, 2015

A few weeks ago, I spent nearly a week with my nephews. Micah and Tyler are 11 and 10 now (someone hold me), and have an entire world of interests and passions and hobbies completely separate from what anyone is telling them to love.

One of the things they’re into is superheroes. And when I saw them, they told me that Batman has an enemy called Man-Bat, to which I said, “You are lying,” and left it at that.

But the other night, I thought, “What if they were telling the truth?” So I googled Man-Bat.

You guys, Man-Bat has a wife named FRANCINE LANGSTROM, and their two kids are Becky and Aaron.


Don’t doubt your nephews. They always know.


Written by hootenannie on July 11th, 2015

I hope you’ve heard about Cam. I can’t get enough of this voice.

It’s my blog, and I’ll emote if I want to

Written by hootenannie on July 10th, 2015

What a week.

You guys! I live in Minneapolis now! Wait, let me amend that statement: I live in Inver Grove Heights, which is due south of Saint Paul and a half hour from work. I’m staying with Roger & Judy (you [might] know them, you [definitely] love them) until I close on my house – the house that is ONE AND A HALF MILES from work – on July 30. I’m beyond excited to move into my new abode, but until then, I’m over the moon to be living large in the ‘burbs. My gracious hosts have given me a guest room, a private bath, coffee every morning, and hugs when I walk out the door. Part of me thinks I’ll stay forever.

I can’t believe I live in Minnesota. Sure, it’s been over two months since I accepted this job (and thus, my northern fate) – but those first two months were spent in List Mode. I made said List, and then I executed it: wrap up job, list house, sell house, move out of house, rent a truck, drive north, empty truck into storage unit, fly back, PARTY, and then, finally, head east on I-80 and north on I-35 and arrive at my new vida loca.

After months of chaos, one day I woke up in Minnesota and thought, “Wait… what?”

I mean, really – how did I get here??

But it’s been wonderful. I mean, I know I’m only one week in, but so far, so good. And honestly, if we can say that about our lives – so far, so good, in whatever stage – we’re doing JUST FINE.

Plenty is still yet to be written, but here is what I know for sure:
• My co-workers are amazing. Seriously, insert emoji heart-with-layers.
The office is gorgeous. You will die a thousand deaths when you come to visit.
• I am freaking out (in the best way) about the work I’m doing.
• For all of my fears of the humidity and bugs and heat, this one week has been one of perfect weather.
• Minneapolis is a city of bicycles, beer, fitness (the second fittest city in America), and delightful weirdness. No, it’s not Portland, Austin, or Louisville. But it’s Minneapolis, and thus full of music, theater, food, and all sorts of progressive shenanigans, for most of which I’m gung-ho (conservative friends, you know I’m with you on all things fiscal) (and yes, I still love Jesus).

All in all, I am energized and vitalized and feeling like I’m 100% where I’m supposed to be.

In Minnesota. Who would’ve guessed.

The last days

Written by hootenannie on July 3rd, 2015

When I think of my last days in Colorado, I will think of the temperature – days in the high 90s, the brutal sun beating down on the Mile High City, and me, applying SPF 100 like my life depended on it (which it kind of did). The air conditioner in my Subaru struggled, no longer strong enough to stand up to the heat. On the lucky days in which I made it to the mountains, I experienced Colorado’s iconic summer smell: pine needles in dry dirt.

And then I will think of the rain – the afternoon thunderstorms that you can set the clock by, raging storms that swelled the rivers and flooded my normal walking paths. Of course, this didn’t stop me from walking, although June was a Fitbit feast or famine (35K steps at the highest, 3K at the lowest – a day in which I brought shame to my family).

I will remember moving out of my house, everything in cardboard boxes and plastic bins, stuffed into the largest truck I’ve ever driven – and then the solo cross-country trip in which I got 6 miles to the gallon and took 16 hours to make it 900 miles. I unloaded everything into a storage unit, and flew back to Denver – because I wasn’t finished with Colorado yet.

I will think of Starbucks breakfasts and Chipotle lunches, just because I didn’t have a kitchen anymore.

I will remember my nephew’s faces when we all stayed up way too late playing games that made them laugh uncontrollably. And I will remember rubbing lotion into the 4-year old’s skinny, espresso-colored calves, and him telling me for the tenth time, “I saw a antelope! Outside! I saw it!”

I will think of my final appointment with my beloved and trusted counselor who, when discussing all of the changes I’m going through, reminded me, “Don’t put too much stock in anything you’re thinking or feeling right now,” which made me laugh, because doesn’t she know who I am?! But it secretly felt like permission granted. And when I said, “When I move to Minnesota, no matter what, I just can’t stop hoping,” she shook her finger at me and said in a hushed, urgent voice, “Don’t you dare.”

I will remember the entire year before these last days, a year in which life felt like it was closing in, like I was trapped and constrained, like toothpaste in a tube. And the day I decided to say yes to this opportunity placed in front of me, the day I decided to move to Minnesota, it was like the cap fell off and life squeezed loose.

Today I drive to Minneapolis, for real and for good this time. I’ve sold my house in Denver, and am in the process of buying a new one – but until everything is final, Foxy is staying with my dad in Colorado. Even though it’s temporary, leaving my dog is the hardest thing for me. I anticipate crying all the way to Nebraska.

The days to come are sure to be filled with newness, novelty, and fresh perspective. I am excited, and ready for the change. But as exciting as the first days are, I never want to forget the last days either. Because they’ve been pretty damn rich.



Written by hootenannie on June 22nd, 2015

If you want to feel like a paranoid detective, vacillating between despair, outrage, and downright morbid terror, watch Broadchurch. Despite my glowing summation, I promise you it is the best show I’ve watched in ages. Season 1 is only eight episodes, and you will devour them like a half-starved bloodhound. (But seriously, a horrifying plot – a murder mystery surrounding the death of an 11-year old boy – that might make it hard to sleep at night. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Broadchurch murder on back burner

All that to say, I’ve had morbidity on the brain.

So today when I was speaking to a Minneapolitan realtor about the neighborhood in which I’m buying a house (the lovely Bryn Mawr) and he told me it was a “hide-a-man area,” I froze.

“What do you mean, ‘hide-a-man’?” I asked. “Have they seriously found bodies here?”

He blinked. And then,

“I said ‘high demand.’”

Winning people over right and left!

The inevitable emotional emergency

Written by hootenannie on June 15th, 2015

Well, it finally happened. I freaked out and lost my mind.

Back in January, I applied for a job that I was eventually offered in May. This means that for the past six months, I have lived with the possibility (and now plan) of leaving Colorado – and even after making the decision, it’s felt like a whim. Oh sure, I’m moving across the country, I’ve thought. Everything will come together. I’ve had the poise of Kate Middleton, if not bigger thighs, and moved through my days with a serenity that, as it turns out, I am not qualified for.

I’ve been sailing off into the sunset, only to wake up this morning and panic that THE EARTH IS NOT ROUND I WILL FALL OFF THE EDGE.

I am still three weeks away from starting my new job, but I will only sleep at my house for four more nights. On Friday, I’m picking up a moving truck and loading all of my worldly possessions into it, then driving to Minneapolis alone. I’ve hired men to help me unload my stuff into a storage unit, where it will stay for over a month while I fly back to Colorado, go to a wedding, celebrate my mom’s birthday in the mountains, leave my dog with my dad, drive all the way back to Minnesota, temporarily move in with friends, start my new job, and eventually, hopefully, close on a new house – which will result in a reunion with my dog and a second moving of all of my stuff at the end of July.

In the meantime, I am hemorrhaging money, picking at a rotisserie chicken carcass for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in an empty kitchen, and wishing for everything to be different. Easier. Safe.

But like Mary Engelbreight reminds us:

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 7.12.36 PM

(I promise never to do that to you again.)

In all seriousness, risk is risky. Adventure and discomfort go hand-in-hand. But aren’t you curious? Don’t you want to know what might happen if you just step out into the unknown? For all of the mystery, I would rather walk forward into the unmapped and uncharted than know exactly what tomorrow will bring. (Because after all, it’s probably rotisserie chicken off the carcass.)

When it comes down to it, come August, I’m going to be unpacking my clothes into a closet with Foxy at my feet, and readying a guest room for you to come visit. And if you need further persuasion as to why Minneapolis is worth a look-see, help yourself to these articles:

“The Miracle of Minneapolis” – The Atlantic
“Minnesota’s New Cool Image as ‘The North'” – The Wall Street Journal

It’s going to be great (she says, after a good cry, some frozen pizza, and 20K+ steps on her Fitbit).

Shotgun for sale

Written by hootenannie on May 26th, 2015

As of tonight, my house is on the market. And given all I have accomplished in the last seven days, I feel like nothing less than a freaking superhero (I call dibs on the name Trixie Firecracker).

In addition to holding down my full-time job (three more days!), I have moved 30 boxes, a bookshelf, a cabinet, and a flat screen TV to my sister’s garage, completely de-cluttered and neutralized my house, found a potential new home in Minneapolis, number crunched while comparing estimates from five different lenders, made some emotional decisions and a few rational ones, had an honest conversation with someone I care about, sent a few of the longest emails I’ve ever written in my life, flown to Portland, been stuck with acupuncture needles in a friend’s living room, attended a wedding for some favorite folks, slept in my own bed, my sister’s bed, and a hide-a-bed, deep cleaned my house, vacuumed the cobwebs off the ceiling, weed wacked the backyard, laid mulch in a flowerbed, organized the basement, and somehow managed not to eat my feelings. (Except that pulled pork mac & cheese. But it could have been so much worse.)

According to my Fitbit, my resting heart rate is generally around 57. One day last week, it was consistently 81 all day long, even when I was just sitting at my computer – a physical manifestation of the state of my emotions. Things have been BANANAS.

Speaking of bananas, I don’t really buy them anymore. Sure, I like bananas – but I never want a whole one. And when you try to save the other half for later, the open end gets mushy.

But let me tell you, I’ve learned a lot about selling a house (it is my first time, after all). And one thing I know: when it comes to strangers traipsing through your house deciding whether they’re willing to pay you some percentage of a million dollars for it, YOU STOCK YOUR DAMN FRUIT BASKET.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 6.09.18 PM

You also adorn the tables and nooks with fresh flowers.


And God forbid anyone find anything in your home that tells them what sort of a person you are: all books, pictures, toiletries, toys, trinkets, and shrines to Tim Riggins must be packed up and stowed far, far away. The potential buyers have to get the idea that your home is warm and inviting, yet still be able to envision making the space their own. Not that anyone could argue with Riggins.


I adore this little Shotgun house. I’ve only been here for two years, but in that time it’s felt more like “home” than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. I’ve taken good care of it, and put as much money as I could afford into improvements: new windows, new kitchen floors, and – get excited, buyers – brand new natural gas lines! This air is safe to breathe.


My favorite things about my house are the skylights, the interior brick, the original hardwoods, the high ceilings, the gas stove, the claw foot tub, the insane water pressure, and the location – good grief, the location. Less than a mile to downtown, a half mile to REI, three blocks to the football stadium, two blocks to the Platte River bike trail, one block to Jefferson Park and a B-Cycle station, and around the corner from a little French restaurant.


Plus, whoever gets to live here next will surely feel my spirit lurking – and there is no price tag for that.


So come and get it, folks! This house is about to fly.


Written by hootenannie on May 19th, 2015

If you know my sister Becca, you know she’s all about dogs. She always has been; her first word was “woof-woof.” In addition to running a dog rescue (whence came Foxy!), she has three dogs of her own – and they’re like her kids. So when she and my brother-in-law decided to go to Seattle, they called in only the best.

Annie the Dog Nanny.

Foxy and I moved into Becca and Michael’s house on Saturday night, and it’s been the Wild West ever since. I’m playing defense against a collective 200 pounds of canine. Things I will need to replace before they get home: Bulleit and a lot of chocolate chips.

In the midst of it all, I am wrapping up my job, selling my house, and looking for a new place to live – because I forgot to tell you:

I’m moving to Minnesota.

Two weeks ago, I gave my notice at work. I am leaving what has been a gift of a job for what is sure to be a challenging, soulful adventure of a next chapter: I’m moving to Minneapolis to work for my favorite public radio show, On Being with Krista Tippett.

For over eight years, this has been a blog mostly about my feelings – so don’t think I’m going to stop now.

What can I say about my 5 ½ years in Denver? They have been the toughest years of my life, minus 6th grade when all of the girls turned mean. Cancer brought me here, divorce made me stay. I watched my family disintegrate, and a few relationships of my own. I’ve said such horrible things to God, it’s a wonder he still loves me. I’ve lost hope, battled depression, and numbed the pain with all sorts of soul novocain.

Denver made me write this song. (And as always, forgive the guitar.)

[Song has been taken down. Maybe you’ll hear it again someday.]

But it’s not lost on me that the hardest years were spent in the most beautiful place. It’s like someone knew I would need the beauty.

I’ve walked thousands and thousands of miles. I’ve climbed mountains – I’m up to 35 14ers, with 19 to go. I spent 11 days on a solo backpacking trip, digging deeper than I knew I could dig. I’ve learned to own my finances, my career, a dog, and a house. If Seattle is where I became Annie and Nashville is where I became a woman (gross, sorry for saying that), Denver is where I became an adult – a reluctant transition, but true nonetheless. I’ve made a handful of incredible girlfriends, the kind that make it hard to leave. I’ve been to counseling – gracious, have I been to counseling. I’ve stopped blaming my parents for everything that’s wrong in my life.

As it turns out, I am sad to leave Denver – but not as excited as I am for a new adventure.

I will miss my perfect tiny house and my friends and the weather and the mountains. But I know that there’s something for me in Minnesota – lakes and forests and people and meaningful work. And mosquitos. And snow. But I’m choosing to believe that richness awaits. I can’t wait to tell you about it. I can’t wait to learn it for myself. I might even start going to church again.

Until then, I am frantically wrapping up my time with LÄRABAR/General Mills. Yesterday I wrote a “manual” for how to do my job. So far it’s 17 pages long. I’m getting my ducks in a row to sell my house, and looking for another in Minneapolis (tell me, is 40% of my income too much to spend on a mortgage?).

And I’m dog-sitting for my sister. Maybe these dogs will come visit me in Minnesota.

My roots are up, and I’m headed north. There is so much to be nervous about, and so much to be grateful for. Thanks for sticking with me, no matter the gap between posts, no matter the city in which I live.

See you soon, Minneapolis!