Friday, May 28, 2010

469: our not-so-big backyard

I still have plenty to dig through backlog-wise, but outside has been so glorious these days with its minute changes; I wanted to pause in celebration.

Here's what's been going on in our yard:

I hadn't seen the ants needed to crawl along the tops of our peonies, but today, as Ryan predicted, one of my favorite flowers burst open. I cannot emphasize enough: I love, love peonies. And ranunculas, which are quite a bit more delicate.

The most surprising and exhausting change is this:

Our rickety four foot fence, the one whose panels got knocked down on a regular basis (see this loving post dedicated to Zephyr's destruction) is being hand-crafted by a former neighbor (here's a set of images of the family, though he isn't in any of the pictures)--six feet tall, panel by panel. I'm not in love with the idea of sheltering ourselves in so closely, but as I grow older, I find myself more and more of a hermit, and after too many bouts of other-neighbor judgment (small towns can be so picky), I'm glad for the added privacy. Really, we wanted something sturdier, and I like that Z won't catch every dog being walked by, every trio of kids, and I won't have to listen to the shriek of teenage girls on cell phones as he pounds his ways into the wobbly gray, patched together, disaster of a fence. It's gone now, a heap of rubble at the end of the drive.

I also wanted to share hopes for my blueberry bush. Ryan got it for me as a surprise--a kind of comfort for my pregnancy, something I'd wished for, but know they need a little extra love and care (unlike my insane raspberry bush--anyone nearby want some runners?). Above is maybe a week ago with the little bell-flowers, and below is today, these bitty blueberries coming through. I can't wait to taste.

Currently reading: Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology by Eric Brende, which is about an MIT student who brings his wife to live on an "Amish" (he calls them Minimites) homestead, complete with cash crops, a horse-and-buggy, a home birth, wells and lake ice with sawdust. I'm also trying to take advantage of my slim seven months of freedom left to read books by professors in the program, and I started with Julie Schumacher's The Body is Water and just finished Charlie Baxter's The Soul Thief.

Currently watching: Netflix just delivered Stealing Beauty to appease my urgent desire to travel to Europe; Frida because I just finished reading The Lacuna with my book club (which met last night in Casey's adorable loft and we had delicious vegan fajitas). I've seen both movies, but I've been feeling the need to return. (Next up for book club? Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. They've been picking very good books these days.)

Currently craving: my food cravings haven't wavered so much in this first trimester. I love dairy, particularly (organic) milk and (fancy) strawberry ice cream. I also am craving fruits: apples especially, but any fruit will get me drooling. I'm feeling the need to try a new muffin recipe, or dessert bread, using that fruit I crave. Anyone have a good recipe they love?

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Mother's day weekend, before we met at Z Harvest for lunch to reveal the big news, we found ourselves with half an hour of free time. We stopped by the Wildlife Sanctuary and discovered these beautiful creatures. There were many Canada goose families wandering about the premises, but none as prolific as that top couple, whose brood Ryan counted up to twenty-two or -three and joked, "She must have had fertility treatments," which, of course, made me cringe, given my own situation and risk of Clomid-twins (the first ultrasound, of course, revealed just the one peanut). Silly boy.

I love that Canada geese mate for life. I love how defensive the papa is over his brood (that middle one is a goose hissing me away). I love how sweet the young are. I love how beautiful spring can be.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

467: yes, this is may

A few weekends ago, Ryan and I took the pups with us to Green Bay, where both sets of parents reside. Sometimes it's strange to think we went to high school only twenty minutes apart, that we actually worked at the same inbound telemarketing place as teenagers, that he believes he can even remember me from breaks, when so many of the three-story winged building crowded out in the summer sun.

These photographs, however, do not celebrate the summer sun: instead, it is to show you Wisconsin in May, a little snowstorm we drove through. It was brief and melted by the next day; Ryan thought it was beautiful and I mourned the cold wet covering the brilliant green I'd felt so desperate for for so long.

Snow in May should feel strange, but I suppose it doesn't. Now, it's hot and humid and last night, while making dinner, Ryan and I with our separate sauces for the pasta (mine: alfredo with fresh mushrooms, shrimp, and a hot sauce/salsa; his: tomato and ground beef), the world light up, thunder and lightning, which is my undeniable favorite sort of weather. I yearn for more, even as the sun shines so fiercely outside.

My absolute favorite is this last one.

466: I've fallen behind

I've fallen behind in the most desperate of ways--please don't, but if you must--picture me, wallowing in that dumb beauty of summer, on the other side, while I attempt to hold in the last meal. And now, I want to share a few things from May that I've missed along the way (June is so close!).

A few photos of the hybrid-monster Amanda drew and brought into class, myriad quotes on poetics along the body. The hybrid-monster is non-threatening and can be viewed from various angles. When I become less of a lump, I plan to cut out the hybrid-monster and make a few from fabric.

My friend Colleen had a gorgeous reading at the Rogue Buddha Gallery. It was my first trip there, and I fell in love with some of the artwork. I look forward to July first's reading, which features another of my beloved poet-friends, Amanda.

The semester ended quietly and smoothly, with full distraction. What I remember most: the last week of classes, knowing, turning in grades early but still having an essay to complete, and mostly, Meryl's defense and the lunch after at Seward Cafe, how charming she looked, how poised, how absolutely smooth it all went. I'm both proud and pleased and look forward to seeing her thesis transform into an actual book; I have faith that we will see it in bookstores in the not-so-distant future.

In the meantime, M and I have been trading poems every day, just to keep ourselves in practice, which means my thesis might actually have a first draft by the end of summer, shock of all shocks. I missed today's writing date due to a ridiculous night of discomfort, but I have faith my body will give me more freedom eventually.

For now, I read as much as I can, I write, I look fiercely forward to BreadLoaf, a gift of an experience, a perfect way to end, for now. I won't stop going to conferences and applying to retreats, but I know it will be many years before I can do that again, and if I can go with one of my best friends, then that's all the more reason to be grateful.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Plenty of good things these days: on Monday, I saw the heart beat of our baby. Yesterday, both Meryl and I were accepted to BreadLoaf, and my manuscript The Recent History of Middle Sand Lake was a finalist at one of the presses I sent it to, and as a finalist, they'll publish my poem "I Remember My First Bee Sting."

I also found the episode where Moe and Lisa go to "Word Loaf."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

464: the song that is stuck in my head

Friday, May 14, 2010


I'm trying not to let the morning sickness devour me whole, but it's beginning to be difficult to function outside the home. Fortunately, the semester has come to a close (I submitted grades today; all I have left hanging over my head is a final essay for my poetics class), so my only venturing out of my comfort zone is for pleasure--Meryl's defense and celebratory lunch yesterday (oh, Meryl, you did so beautifully!) and tonight, I head up to the Twin Cities for another MFA's wedding (can you imagine starting the week defending your thesis and ending it in nuptials? This is what Ben Doty is doing).

I'm beginning to feel more and more desperate to travel somewhere--somewhere big and new. We do have the two upcoming camping trips, we have a trip to Missouri planned and another to Milwaukee. We are working on finding a good time to go to Michigan, and after I told Ryan my maternal grandmother was glad to know she would become a great-grandmother before her mind went, he suggested we also head to Chattanooga, the city where I grew up. All these things, these visits are so very good, but what I really need is a vacation. You know, one where the geography and culture completely unmoors me in wonder, one where traditions shift completely and the vocabulary is new.

I'm grateful for the sun coming out. It's making our own landscape look new; we'd had a week of rain and chilly temperatures, making me wonder if our early spring wasn't reverting. In fact, on our way to Green Bay last weekend, we drove through a bit of a snowstorm, which was surprising. Ryan found it beautiful, and I found it distressing--all that green being buried in slush!

Restlessness has settled down on me, and I know so much of it has to do with the pregnancy. My body is fully aware its freedom is waning, my sleeping in isn't for much longer, and we'll need a baby-sitter if we want to go on a date. I'm finding there are different levels of settling in, as far as pregnancy goes: there's the thrill of a new journey, coupled with the panic of responsibility and misery of the bodily changes. Oh, woe. I am pregnant!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Pregnancy drew me inside myself for some time: the first few days felt like a buzz, felt as if I weren't myself but a copy of myself, and I waited until I could sink back into the fullness of me. It's strange how there's that tangy chop, the before and the after. Now that I've passed day fifty, I'm beginning to feel myself unfurl: after two weeks of distraction, I am now finishing books again; after two weeks of nausea and acidity, I am now making it to the other end of the meal. Best of all, babies aren't prancing across the screen of my eyelids; I now yearn for other things--travel, mostly. Overdramatic travel, the sort that involves crossing oceans. Perhaps it's the threat of being tied to one place in a whole new way.

Pregnancy has left my brain jittering (though, I must point out, my husband would say I'm only using that as "an excuse," and it's true--I've never been a feet-on-the-ground sort of girl): It's defense week on campus, and I'm finally coming out of my cave of comforters to attend my dear friend Meryl's. Friday is a wedding of another MFAer, and this weekend, I think we may finally put those plants into the ground. I'm loving the rain and wishing for a true storm, with thunder and lightning. I've been staring down Daniel Deronda and think I will finally finish it this weekend too. It's been glaring back. I'm looking forward to two camping trips: Memorial Day weekend with my husband and two dogs, and the first weekend of June, we do our 4th annual camping adventure, this year into Wisconsin, with our friends Lane and Angie and Chad. Doula training starts soon. I'm grateful for all these things.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

461: mdb retirement

On April 23rd, we gathered together at the Weisman Art Museum on campus to celebrate the thirty-nine year teaching career of poet Michael Dennis Browne. As an undergraduate, I loved all genres equally, even did my thesis in non-fiction, but in those last few years, I was lucky enough to apply and be accepted into a few of his graduate workshops and seminars. I fell in love with poetry under the tutelage of MDB; we can fully blame him for my non-lucrative choice, my deep passion.

April 23rd, which happens to be Shakespeare's birthday, was also declared Michael Dennis Browne Day in the city of Minneapolis.

Among those pictured above: Ray Gonzalez, Patricia Hampl, Louis Jenkins, Robert Bly, along with many other former students as well as a full choir singing songs MDB wrote the lyrics for and some acoustic music in celebration. The three in the middle are his children: Nellie, Mary, and Peter, reading a letter from MDB's brother in England, Peter reading the poem "A Blessing."

Congratulations, Michael. We've been blessed to have you.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

460: a decade or so ago

In the top photograph, I am second from the right; in the second, I am on the far left. My friend Nikki (in the top, she is second from the left; in the bottom, she is second from the right) sent these along a little bit ago, which made me smile whilst on campus, shuffling through final grading tidbits and debating when I'd finally be able to focus on my own essay. These images are from that sweet time before we fully understood what it meant to be on our own, that cusp between sheltered and sheltering. It's nice to look back, especially when so many of these people are still so very important to me now, despite all those tectonic shifts, and we've continued to become who we are going to become. Thank you, Nikki, for this little glimpse.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

459: the news.

The news is out now; it's hard to keep it bottled up with strange forces such as Facebook and whatnot.

Because I have PCOS, I had to go on infertility treatments, which we started back in November. I began writing about the want of a little one not long after I returned from New Jersey, when helped out with my two adorable nephews (Ryan's sister's sons). The blog is called roots + wings, and I invite you to follow along, particularly because I'd still like this space to be an everyday, non-obsessive sort of place, which means I'll try to keep the baby-squealing to a minimum. Updates, yes. Everyday nattering, probably not.

The details: I'm almost seven weeks along, I'm due around New Year's, the baby is about the size of a sweet pea, and indeed, we are thrilled. Ryan likes to use the word "terrified" a bit more often than thrilled, but they both start with a T, right?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

458: a pair of weekend visitors

Christian and his mama came for a visit this weekend, a little bud on Saturday morning amongst all kinds of busy with end-of-semester preparation. We had lunch at a cafe (asparagus quiche for me), went to the park, and Christian even played fetch with Zephyr, the brave little boy.

And that's exactly what he is now: a boy. In just a little under two months, he will be two years old, and he's fully mobile, strangely conversant, has his own names for things, can answer questions ("Who is your favorite character?" "Cook!").

Kelly better watch out because I might steal him, add him to my collection of nephews, if only I can get Megan to truly ship Jimmy and Jack out to stay for a bit. I have no job for the summer just yet; day care could be halfway across the state--or the country--, right?