Bird Update


Mourning doves

Red-winged blackbirds

Turkey vulture 




Some kind of small grey hawk with white on the tail (anyone?) 


It seems I am always seeing things through the lens of art history.  I thought I’d share something I came across today, an image, an image that reminded me of an old painting, and for some reason that deepened something.   

Burial in Kabul, Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images


Burial at Ornans, Gustave Corbet, 1849-50, musee d’Orsay, Paris

The original article on Tuesday’s attack can be found at .  

It is also worth noting that Courbet’s painting is 10 x 22 feet, which placed this provincial scene on scale with religious venerations–  a first.  



I don’t go bird watching, but I see a lot of birds.  I’m thinking of starting an occasional log.  

Today’s birds:

Sandhill cranes

Crows/ Ravens (hard for me to tell these apart!)



Canadian geese

Flickers (so many!)

Mallard ducks

House finches


I am digging this “Shelfie” trend, so here’s mine! 


My Shelfie

Annie Ernaux, I Remain in Darkness

Alison Bechdel, Fun Home

Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

Steven Pinker, The Stuff of Thought

Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory:  A Very Short Introduction 

Doris Lessing, Into Room Nineteen

Carl Kerenyi, Eleusis

Tina Cassidy, Birth:  The Surprising History of How We Are Born

Susanne Antonetta, A Mind Apart:  Travels in a Neurodiverse World

John D’Agata, The Lost Origins of the Essay

Joyce Carol Oates (ed.), The Oxford Book of American Short Stories

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment 

Jack Zipes (trans.), The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm

Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front

LeRoi Jones, Dutchman & The Slave

Alice Fulton, Felt

Joyce Carol Oates, Them

Jane Blocker, What the Body Cost

Eirann Lorsing, Her Book

Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

Yes, there are other books stored away, so many books.  And yes, those are some of my kids’ art projects scattered on the shelf.  It’s a candid.  

There is even a book I didn’t realize was missing until I took this photo, so now the hunt for that is on.  It’s a book that is always timely, so it might deserve its own post.  Cliffhanger!  🙂

Best Books for Toddlers and Babies

Hey, let’s end the year on a Mommy note. Here is my list of favorite books for the kids:

Most Gorgeous: Pinwheel, Salina Yoon

Best Classic: Dear Zoo, Rod Campbell

Best for Teaching Colors: I Like Fruit, Lorena Siminovich

Best for Teaching the Subjunctive: If I Were a Pig…, Anne Wilkinson

Best for Teaching Numbers: Mommy Hugs and Daddy Hugs, Karen Katz

Best for Teaching the ABC’s: Alphablock, Christopher Franceschelli

Best for Teaching Traffic Safety: Red Light, Green Light, Yumi Heo

If You Like The Mitten by Jan Brett, try Annie and the Wild Animals, also by Jan Brett

If You Like Dr. Seuss, don’t forget about Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!




My story didn’t seem very important until I realized that without it there was only my silence. I see other women acknowledging their experiences (Hayden Panettiere), and I’ve decided I need to add my voice, to do my part to normalize what so many women go through.  
It was not easy for me to recognize that I was in the throes of postpartum depression. In fact, I fought it. I was exhausted, like all new mothers. And my son grew quickly, from under eight pounds at birth to over twenty-two pounds at six months, so I thought that was part of it. Still, the problems came to a head long before his six month.  
I labored with my son several hours before getting an epidural, which I had always planned on. I relaxed in the bath tub until my contractions became close enough and painful enough that I decided I needed it. Then I actually slept. Hours later, I was still completely numb from the waist down. I only knew I was having contractions thanks to the monitor slipped around my belly. We waited for my doctor to finish with a surgery, then we waited some more, hours spent all while crowning. But, like I said, I felt nothing.  
Finally the doctor arrived and I was given the green light to push and without feeling anything my son was born, that easy. I felt nothing for the after birth or the episiotomy. And I think this is where the guilt started, both that I felt nothing and that I waited for the doctor to push. My first delivery had been excruciating even with two epidurals, and here I actually had a pain free experience and I could only react with guilt.  
As the weeks passed, it was not a feeling blue. It was unrecognizable. I felt weak, light-headed, my hands would go numb. I had two episodes where I felt so short of breath and so scared about it that I ended up having panic attacks, which I had no idea could be so physical. I couldn’t move my hands or arms and then my legs, all part of the panic-induced lack of oxygen. I have never felt so out of control of my own body. I was convinced something was very wrong, something other than anxiety. Yet blood test after blood test came back normal, as did an MRI and CAT scan. What I didn’t understand is that something was in fact wrong, that the postpartum depression was the physical answer I was searching for.  
At the suggestion of mental illness from my family and from my doctors, I felt cornered. I felt like they were calling me crazy, that everything was all in my head, that maybe I was a hypochondriac. But these were all my own hang ups. I didn’t want to admit that I could have postpartum depression because to me it meant failure. Failure at motherhood, failure at being strong enough, at pulling my weight instead of pulling everyone down.  
I agreed to try medication as a means of ruling postpartum depression out. But then I started to feel better. I worried less. I slept more. I did more. I started painting again. I let others watch the kids so I could go out.  
I still struggle. I had to stop breastfeeding to start the medication, and those two and a half months that I did manage will never feel like enough to me. But I know now that I have to be a mother the best way that I can, and that I’m not alone in that. Which is why even though my story is nothing remarkable, I needed to share it.  

Farm Morning

(The Other) Northern Lights

You know, maybe I’m not such a stranger here anymore.  There are already things I take for granted.  For one, the northern lights.  We can walk out our front door and past the north woods and see them on good nights, it’s that easy.  So shame on me!

Not yet taken for granted:  pink sunrises.  Yes, I know everywhere has sunrises.  But these are particularly great.  Or maybe I’m just particularly partial.  🙂

I am trying to remember, what did I take for granted in the Twin Cities?  Target.  Starbucks.  Easy recycling.  Would I trade in my sunrises?  Nope.


Northern Sunrise

And a Cat

The New Cat

The New Cat

Well. I never expected to live on a farm. And I REALLY never expected to have a cat. But sometimes the universe decides to challenge you, and you just can’t say no.

So, at the gas station, I saw a cat run out from under my car. And I thought I saw it run back under there. But when I was ready to leave, no sign of it. I pulled away slowly. Then at home, when I stopped to get my mail, I heard my car meowing. Yep, the cat was in my car, somewhere, and had been for the whole ten mile drive from town.

My husband found the cat tucked in my engine, somewhere next to the super hot exhaust manifold. He says he was burning his hands just getting it out of there.

We called the gas station, but they said no one was looking for a kitty, but that people leave them in the dumpster there all the time :(.

And the cat is very very sweet. Even though I have always been a dog person, I just can’t deny this cat. Besides, Schrodinger liked cats. And Annie Dillard. So they can’t be that bad, right?

Some casual observations: the first 24 hours of having a kitty versus having a puppy are drastically different. I forgot the thing was even in the house. It disappeared and I found it sleeping in some towels in the laundry room. If a puppy disappears, you know you’re going to find it pooping or peeing or chewing on something it shouldn’t be or all three at once.

Also, this whole cat-bothering-me-while-I’m-trying-to-type thing is not as exaggerated as I thought.

My daughter has decided to name her Carmel, which, at two, might be her first pun.

Still trying to convince the Coonhound she’s not a squirrel. Other than that, I really don’t know the first thing about having a cat. She’s kind, which I didn’t think cats were. The vet says she’s about three or four months old. And, thanks to the universe, now she’s ours.

So, yesterday we were cat-owning Walmart-shopping people (had to get all that cat stuff!) Oh universe. What to do with you.