Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I learned about the Women's Prison Book Project a while back but somehow, in the rush of the world, had forgotten this local effort to get books into prisoner's hands.

They have a sale coming up, and I thought I'd pass along this information:


The Women's Prison Book Project Big Book Sale!

Paperbacks are only $2, Hardcovers are only $3 and these are really in good shape. Plan ahead for all your gift giving needs, as well as getting a stack for yourself. A huge range of topics and types.

Saturday, August 7 from 10-6, Sunday August 8 from 10-5

Powderhorn Park--we're near the park building

The book sale is one of the major fundraising activities we do each year. Funds help us send all sorts of books to women in prison all over the country.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


July has been a ridiculous month for me, one that has driven me right into The Funk, a feeling where I am pretty sure I'm underwater and the rest of the world is merrily skipping by. I've spent afternoons obsessing over my newfound drive to conquer PCOS, (oh, and I tell you, what with changing my diet and joining the YMCA, my body is slowly responding): new medications have left me curled on the floor like a whimpering, ridiculous child, and my husband, chopping carrots in the kitchen, reminding me, "It won't always be this bad." Yes, my body can acclimate. And yes, my body has been tortured a bit this month of July, and I now think the pill-a-day organizer Ryan joked about before is something to invest in seriously, and I'm not even thirty yet, but I have a distinct, comforting order to the pills I take each day: the fattest one (fish oil) first down to the itty bitty prescriptions.

I know it's not the changes that have brought my emotions swinging low, but the way I obsess over them. I am at my worst when I am wasting time. And I tell you, internet, curses, curses, you suck me in! And I happily, obliviously allow for that.

That, and my days and nights are getting hopelessly mixed up.

I need structure. I once said, when Ryan and I have children, that I'd like to be a stay-at-home-mother. I admire that position--the one that dedicates self to home and the early education of offspring. (OK, and maybe half that reason was the fantasy that I could be a stay-at-home-writer.) Ryan always shrugged and said I probably should get a job. It's not because of finances entirely, we can adapt, but that he doesn't want to come home to me as a wide-eyed, stripped down self, me in desperation for adult conversation and stimulation. The job would provide an outside conversation, and given how much time I've sullied in the summer, I know it's true. I'm better when spare time is precious, not overabundant and rotting.

Now I look forward to:
- an approaching weekend trip to Austin to visit my little sister
- the two weeks in Vermont for Bread Loaf
- SCHOOL. I can't tell you how much I miss it, how ridiculously long summer is, and how my reading list has stagnated. That, my friends, is going to change. After all, there is one month left.

Also: I found this entertaining collection of workshop comments via this blog. Thanks, Margosita!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

313: zucchini bread

Without a doubt, one of my biggest weaknesses is cake-y bread. Banana, blueberry, anything that is also good in muffin form. Today, I bring you one of my favorites, in celebration of seasonal eating: zucchini bread.

Recipe kindly passed along to me from Ryan's mother; it's a childhood favorite of my husband's.

- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup oil
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 2 cups unpeeled, grated zucchini
- 1 tsp vanilla
- (optional: 1 cup raisins, 1 cup nuts)

1. First, you grate two cups' worth of zucchini. This is especially good for those overly large zucchinis in the garden you somehow forgot to pick; I'm sure I'll find myself in that place in September.

I love grating fresh zucchini--it's so perfect and wet and ready. It zips along the grater, snicksnick, piles up in such a satisfactory way. Of course, I'm still finding some in my hair, but that's only because I am one of the messiest folks this side of the Mississippi.

2. Then, beat four eggs with one cup of oil. I have a handheld mixer, but I did this with a whisk. After all, I did just mention four eggs and one cup of oil? May as well burn a few calories while making it.

3. In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.

4. Add to egg mixture, alternating with zucchini. Stir in vanilla (and raisins and nuts--I didn't use them, but others might like the added kick).

5. Divide into greased and floured 9 x 5 pans.

6. Bake at 350 for 55 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

7. Let stand at room temperature for ten minutes, then turn out on a rack to cool.

Ryan enjoys his zucchini bread with butter; I like mine with cream cheese. I might try it with honey. It's wonderful plain too.

For a healthier alternative, checking out this article from Cooking Light on filling fiber.

312: this past weekend

This last weekend we were in Green Bay. This last weekend, I...
- fell in love with the color of wheat and queen anne's lace
- got caught up in a thunderstorm
- accidentally captured two bugs, you know, (doing it)
- wondered if my mouth was bleeding after tasting the hot peppers from our garden
- introduced an indifferent Penelope then a curious, slobbering Zephyr, to a toad
- worked on my knitting callouses
- took a delicious nap, which kept me awake reading this book later that night (which I do recommend)

This coming weekend, I think we might have a little date night: dinner and a movie. I'd like to find a new state park to explore too, if possible, and on Sunday, I hope, hope, hope to see a certain someone who is now, at thirteen months, walking (see for yourself!). And tomorrow? I have plans to weed, to bake zucchini bread, to take the dogs to the park, and to read outdoors.

I've been feeling restless this month, and I think it's time to do something about it. New things: recipes, places to explore outside, books. Recommendations are always welcome.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

311: family

With everything going on--travel and news and exercise and changes--I suppose I'm not surprised I didn't pause to share this delicious birthday cake. (Of course, being on a wellness kick, I behaved myself and didn't even taste it, but my mother said it was like fudge, and I believe her. I did have a sliver of strawberry, and that taste exploded in my mouth, and I think it's enough for a summer afternoon.)

My father turned fifty-nine on July 11th, and we went to Green Bay to celebrate (and also for a get together with my high school girlfriends and their families). This is the year I turn thirty, and it's my father's last year before he hits sixty--how do we tumble through life so fast?

I think I mostly kept quiet about my father's birthday because I also received some sad news on the same day: my grandmother has had kidney disease for four years, but she's only just telling us now because she's nearing that end stage--she'll need dialysis soon. This is the same grandmother who made me love gardening, whose husband inspired these poems, the woman who stood strong after my grandpa passed from Alzheimer's.

It's sad news for our family, though this I know for certain: my grandmother, who just turned eighty-eight earlier this month, is a strong woman, a good woman, a woman whose life is an example for my own, who has given me genes I hope to pass on to my own children, whose heart is big, and who has found peace in this life and what will come. I hope she's around for much longer, and I hope the time she is with us is not hard.

I also know she would have loved a taste of that cake! Perhaps I'll have to find a good flourless chocolate cake recipe and make her one on our next visit.

For now, revisit Middle Sand Lake: spring coming, last summer 1, swimming in sand, last summer 2, last summer 3.

Monday, July 20, 2009

310: thinking about making

I've found some projects I much admire recently, and instead of leaving them open as tabs to daydream about, I'm collecting the links here, to share:

- I've been doing my own projects using Brittany needles; thinking about stocking up
- A Friend to Knit With's fingerless mitten collection
- these Knitty pattern for fingerless mittens: Dashing and Fetching
- Needles Edge: love the baby kimono and booties
- on Ravelry: little hearts
- thinking of ways to turn these little leaves into ornaments or mobiles, a forest nursery (when we have children, I'm thinking the bedroom theme I'd love the most is the woods--so important to me growing up, those walks in the woods with my dad, so important to where we live now and how Ryan and I spend our weekends)
- mmmm, knit strawberries
- possibly attempting this Cape Cod pullover for Ryan for Christmas
- the ever-loved Saartje booties
- wanting to copy this Cirque du Soleil hat
- admiring the knit patterns in this etsy shop
- wanting to attempt to sew my own free-form creatures after seeing this rabbit rattle
- lusting over the yarns at the backwards loop
- I have some Kidsilk Haze I'd love to use on this shawl (on Ravelry)
- admiring this Medusa Cowl (on Ravelry)
- I know someone I want to make this honey cowl for...
- maybe I can use Cranberry Quiltworks to finish off that quilt I started eons ago...
- this felt bunny looks adorable
- and these little chicks are so sweet too
- and these hanging birds
- and this sweet stuffed rabbit

309: mid-summer garden

A few things about this year's gardening, thus far:

First: though he is charming, cute, and much stronger than myself, I'm not sure Ryan is the best weeding partner. For the two weeks I was in New Jersey (with the cutest nephews ever), Ryan left the garden be, aside from watering it regularly, which brought out some fierce weeds. Before we left for Green Bay for the weekend, I spent a bit of time yanking away the scrub, and when he joined me, he pulled up some of our onions, a bit prematurely. Sweet, this little one.

But some of our edibles are simply small on their own, such as this sweet green pepper above. It is lined up next to our first four habanero peppers (one of which, little slivers of which, flattened both me and Ryan as well as Ryan's father--there's a certain cruelty to assuming you can handle this particular pepper, this particular spice, this kick)--all to size, of course.

This year's lettuce was surprisingly not bitter, as opposed to last year's, which we couldn't manage even disguised with market lettuce, little bits tucked away. We knew it was there each time, just as Ryan has known every time I've attempted to slip spinach into his salads. But this year's has been crisp and mild, even a little sweet.

Along with a re-purposed butter container's worth of raspberries, we left two salads' worth of lettuce with my parents, and the above with his parents and house guests.

And tonight, we tasted our first apple from the tree.

Two years ago, we lost our maple (darn that Zephyr and his chewing), so we replaced it with another maple (my choice) and a Zestar (Ryan), and this might be the first year those apples are fit for consumption. We shared the first fallen apple, bite by bite, tossing the remains into our compost pile. A little tart--perhaps next year will bring the "full" batch--but enough to consider them ours.

Friday, July 17, 2009

308: kooza!

For our anniversary: dinner, drinks, and a little death defying entertainment. We saw Cirque du Soleil for the first time, which left the audience embarrassingly child-like, our jaws open, gasping, grabbing the arm of our date. We asked each other, if we could have any job in the company, what would it be, and after chiding me, Ryan said tent-erector, and I said costuming. The pair in the wheel of death had pants that resembled lizard scales, the jester's hats were amazing, the flamboyancy of the flameco dress--it was all so impressive.

After a few years (tortured) in high school theater, on the adult-side of things, I have a slight bit more understanding of what might go into a production like this. I loved their "pit," which was instead, lofted above the stage, complete with two singers, and the drummer had a solo on what appeared to be a platform with casters, though I'm sure it was really pure magic.

What I love most about Cirque du Soleil, besides the lack of animal-cruelty, the impressive fabrics, the incredible athleticism, the intimacy, the sheer joy on the faces of the performers--besides all that, I love the focus on imagination. In this particular touring production, the story is the gift of one boy's imagination come to life, complete with jesters and skeletons and a strage ruling king.

I hadn't realized, also, the audience participation factor: the band teacher from the local high school was pulled onto the stage during the pickpocket act. Yup, from RW, living on Bush Street ("Are you serious?" the clown asked)--I knew it was him.

A lovely little world of fantasy; we held hands under the big top.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

307: so, this is ten.

Ryan and my first date was ten years ago today.

We met the summer of 1999 when I had just finished my first year of college, a series of strange circumstances with missed opportunities, switched room mates, and me not anywhere near single.

Despite all this, we wrote each other letters, gave each other mix tapes (me) and CDs (him, always the more technologically advanced).

Our first date was at Z Harvest, one of those local-friendly, health conscious restaurants that are a rarity in Green Bay's ever-growing chain infatuation, and after, we walked along the bay. I wore a wine colored dress; he wore a white button down shirt and khakis. He drove his father's car, which now belongs to his sister, with two baby-seats in the back. He was looking at an apartment in Milwaukee the next day, and invited me to join him, so our date extended into the next day. We watched Othello and sweated on the balcony of his friend's apartment on the third floor, the trees stretching into the sky.

The next day, I left for Hawaii with my family and wrote to him every day, fell asleep listening to the music he played on his guitar and recorded onto a CD for me. I was nineteen, and he was twenty, and the years have been good to us.

I never imagined what it would be like to grow old with someone. I had never gotten beyond the first apartment in my mind. But when I met Ryan, I knew. It's strange to say that, and some might shrug it off, but I knew. Inside, I knew that I would love this man, I knew that I would want him to be in my life in whatever way possible, for as long as I could keep him. And somehow, some way, I got lucky. Because he felt the same way about me.

So many other things have fit into these ten years: we were both undergraduates, both got a Master's degree, and I went back for more. We've owned our house for four years now, been married for two. We've got two cats, two dogs, two cars. We plant a garden together in the spring, cut down the heads of sunflowers and feed them to the squirrels in the fall. We walk our dogs along the bluffs, hold hands while watching movies, make dinner together in the late evening light. We've loved each other every day, been frustrated with one another, fought without speaking. We've never broken up, or even meant to break up, we've surprised each other with visits when we've lived apart, we've given each other the gift of music, of laughter, of one another. We've waited for one another, we've been patient. We kiss each other in the morning and before we go to bed. We say I love you and mean it. We support each other in the difficult moments of life, we celebrate the victories, we tell each other, It won't always be this hard when we think we cannot make it one more moment. We've seen each other through phases in our lives and made it through, from unsteady college student to someone with a career.

I'll be lucky with each day I have with him; each decade is an immense gift. He is the man I want to grow old with: I am proud of him in so many ways, his intelligence and patience and unfaltering kindness. But most of all, I love who I am when I am with him, and I love who I have become because of him. He makes me want to be a better person, has inspired me to do better things with my life, with my time, with my energy. He's the perfect person to grow old with and to be the father of my children.

Each day is a gift. I've had ten years of them so far.

Monday, July 13, 2009

306: the offspring of my high school girl friends.

This weekend was a girls' get together. There are six of us, loosely, who have stayed connected since high school: Kim and Mandy and Nikki, who have stayed in Green Bay, and Jen and Chris, who live in the Twin Cities, and me, not far from the cities. We all graduated the same year, have taken largely different paths in life, and I love them all dearly. I'm always reminded at how important it is to have girl friends in your life.

I miss them already. And I met their children:

Dyllan is nearly two, the daughter of my old, dear friend Mandy K and her husband Chris Charles. Her mannerisms were so striking, her face hugely expressive. She eerily resembles Mandy's sister Ali.

Above we have Wil, welcomed to the B family, who is four months old, and for that afternoon, one of the quietest babies I've ever seen. He looks just like his father, Mike: his nose in profile, his deep set eyes. Kim's an early reading specialist at an elementary school, so Wil is in for some patient parenting.

This is the S family: Jen, her husband Chris, their fourteen-month-old son Jack, and another on the way (due in January). Jack can hide toy trucks in his cheeks, shriek like a girl, touch everything in rapid succession, and give the sweetest hugs.

It goes without saying that I was smitten with each of these children. I can't wait to watch them grow up.

305: news bits

I have plenty to show and tell from the weekend, but for now, as I'm organizing my thoughts, I thought I'd share some writing / photography news:

- Two of my images have been published in BluePrint Review. You can see one here and the other here.
- Cerise Press has launched, and they were able to use one of my shots of Thomas Lux in an interview, as well as a review I wrote of Maxine Kumin's recent book of poems
- And the news I'm most excited about: it looks like I'm going to BreadLoaf! I'll know more later, but I just got the e-mail today, and I'm busy making awful squealing noises in my head.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

304: Colville

We went to Colville today with the dogs, a little wander around the loop, where Ryan tortured Zephyr a bit--first with his training to "heel," but mostly on the equipment, pulling him up while he was swinging, beckoning him onto picnic tables, taunting him to jump up. Penelope is usually the one I walk, and as Ryan says, she's a bit oblivious to whether or not she is actually heeling, and I said she's a good match for me then. I tend to be a bit oblivious myself.

Summer here has been gorgeous--no need to turn the air conditioning on, the evenings cool but not too cool, the sounds of birds and crickets settling. At Colville, the city has installed a community garden, with little sections--the cook's garden, the hummingbird/butterfly garden, the fragrance garden, etc. They mayflies are out, and we watched a bald eagle swoop into the river, catch, glide.

Tonight, Ryan and I talked about being lucky. It's easy to feel that way with him.

And one week from today, we turn ten. Amazing.