Thursday, July 16, 2015

Vermillion SD to Sheridan Wy 638 miles 8 hours & 42 minutes

Yesterday my loving husband and I did something we've never done in our 14 years together.  We put a giant suitcase thing on top of our mini van, filled it with stuff one needs to live on the road and in a mini van for 8 days and we took off on a road trip.  Like a for real road trip, not a cruise to Minneapolis.

We have to be in Seattle on Thursday July 17th and we decided to drive there and most people were like "Why not just fly?"  and "Oh that is going to be a long drive, gas is expensive, you'll never get hotels during tourist season."  So much hostility towards the road trip option, so much negativity. I do understand the hate for the 1500 mile road trip because I have kids.  Which brings me to the reason we decided to do this:  no kids.

I love my babies, I truly do.  Like momma gorilla, carry them around by the feet, give them all day piggy back rides, pick the bugs off their nappy little heads kind of love them.  I feel like I need to say that before I say this:  I dislike them on car rides.

It starts with who gets shotgun (we had to make a frick'n schedule so no one would die in a fist fight) and it never ends.  The length of the car ride matters not.  Trip to HyVee for green onion brats = who gets control over the music (in our house it's either the grown up or the person not riding shotgun).  Everything is an argument: where every one's gear sits,who gets to charge their phone next, who made the bad smell, who has to sit next to Liam and answer his endless, breathless stream of 5 year old questions.

"Momma do you think it's a good idea for me to wait until I'm 12 to watch Jurassic Park?  I feel like it's pretty aggressive for 5 year olds."

So we said yes to 2.5 days alone in a car, kids.  We said yes to 1500 miles because in 14 years, we've taken zero real road trips and all our mini road trips have been with children, speed racing to the destination to get the hell out of the car.

So here we are, alone together for 8 + hours in the swagger wagon on day one and so far kind of overwhelmed by how fantastic it's been.

Once we cleared the Mitchell SD exit, Brandon was further west than he had ever been.  I have completed to I90 trek to Wyoming more times than I can remember.  At some point I became desensitized to the beauty of western South Dakota, but seeing it with Brandon made those miles new again.  

I miss the city and so I forget the importance and the beauty of wide open spaces.  I miss the city and so I forget to listen to the peace in the quiet.  Brandon misses the city, but he knows when something is worth his time, worth exploring, worth acknowledging.  When to say yes that, but don't ignore this.  

As we wrapped up our first day, we faced 1.5 hours of Wyoming I90 to Sheridan.  The wind blew in a dark band of intimidating clouds.   Immigrant Song made a perfectly time classic rock radio appearance as we raced to beat the rain.  Thunder, lightening, but the sunset continued, guiding us west, peaking under the storm clouds.  I realized that I was in the presence of a phenomenon my friend Regina loves to document.  The Wyoming sunset.  So, for my friend first Wyoming Sunset in 22 years.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The road

Blog post July 14 2015.  Road trip with my main squeeze.  Ragnar Northwest Passage.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

This one time, I blogged for 4 months

This was so much harder than blogging, but it was so important for me to do it.  I could have just sent out an awesome photo album (which I am going to do) or I could have linked to a bunch of separate videos, but even 4.5 months later, these 4 days were so incredibly meaningful and beautiful they need to be preserved with photo, video, music and love.

So I tried to do that.  In a program I've never used before on my fancy new Mac I almost chucked out the window as I struggled with this.  This was my toughest, slowest leg. 20 hours.  I'm officially in training for doing a better job after Seattle:)

Here you go Bamboozlers, proof of the awesome thing you did.   Proof that 6 semi strangers can live in a commercial van for 2 days without sleep, proper hygiene or proper food safety storage and come out life long friends.

We may do many more Ragnars, and they will all be amazing in their own ways.  But there will never be another first Ragnar.  We will never again meet for the first time.  We will never again be blown away by how well we click or how lucky we each are to know the one person that could link us all together.

We will gather in our post race rental house year after year, exhausted and totally high on the vibe from this group being together again, but we will always remember our first night in the house in "witch town."

And how badly Jim disappointed his team.  Never be Jim.

And how to sleep 6 comfortably in a van, in a parking lot with about 700 of your new friends.

And that nothing feels better than pooping in a Honey Bucket for the first time.

And which reflective vests are not runner friendly.

And how to make up the best card/dance game ever.

And how natural sister wifing really is.

And how to never make fun of a hooker witch.

And how to drive a commercial van down death mountain.

And how incredibly hard it is to realize its all over and we have to return to the little corners of life without our new friends.

Like our next Ragnar, the next movie will be easier in some ways and that will be nice. But there is something to be said for things being new, outside our comfort zone, really difficult and really challenging.

Beautiful things come from those experiences.


Ragnar 2014 the Bamboozlers Movie

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Stuff I never finished.  The frustrated writings of someone searching for her voice again.  Things I thought I'd come back to, but did not.  Little snack size crazy bits for you.  Enjoy 2012 ya'll.

Before I forget...

I remember when I was in college and was blissfully aware that what I was doing, the life I was living, my insanely intense focus on being "in the moment" was just a blip on life's radar.  I knew that.  So I lived it man.  I loved like I was going to get hit by a townie on my way to lab.  I partied like it was 1999.  I learned...everything...all of it...anything.  I was a sponge.  And I knew, always I knew, it was a blip.

One of the greatest joys during those 4.5 years was realizing that I had $5.00 left in my checking account and could indeed go to mug night.  Remember...every experience was equal then, they all had potential to change my life, everything had promise of something amazing.  Even mug night at the Safari Lounge. Five $1.00 mugs of beer may lead to nirvana.

I share this only because just now, I was teary eyed in my kitchen.  I was overwhelmed by a surge of joy.  The love of my life is on his way home from work in Sioux Falls, an hour away.  He picked up our girls from a visit with a very different, very young love of my life, my x husband.  They are coming home.  For the record, I am a firm believer in the idea that one can have more than one "love of your life." I've had three.   Love is not a "one and done" deal.  Life often fucks with love and sometimes, love conquers all.  But other times, "all" conquers love and we are left with nothing but tattered pieces of our hearts, damaged and mourning the loss, but most importantly, with an opportunity  to learn how to love better.

Anyway, I'm thumbing through my favorite recipe books for a recipe for the fresh cod I picked up for tonight.  One worthy of the WELCOME HOME I have in my head.  I'm sipping on my absolute favorite Cab and Pirates of The Caribbean is on.  Don't underestimate how important that last part is.   It could be Edward Scissor Hands, or The Fifth Element, or The Color Purple or The Big Labowski or any of the Lord of The Rings movies.  It could be a lot of movies, but having one of my favorites spontaneously appear on regular TV while I'm cooking is tear worthy.

And for a second I laughed out loud at how our greatest joys change as we move through life.  Having 5 bucks was just as joyful as this is, it really was.  I love that I can remember the joys of all the phases of my life so far.

And that my how my brain works when I'm cooking on a Monday.


Anytime I think about blogging these days, it's a frantic rush to write down what is in my head.  Often times I'm not making it, I'm not getting this stuff down and when I do it sounds more like:

 "Dear Diary, today I washed my car and vacuumed it out REAL good.  Also, I like cheese."  


I just plopped down to wax poetic about my perfect toast colored music festival tan and how seeing Tool for the 4th time felt just like falling in love for the first time.  But my first pass at that sentiment read like:

"Dear Diary.  This weekend I went to a concert in a park and I saw Tool again and it was good and I got a tan even though I used sunblock and Tool played all my favorite songs and I was close to the stage but this guy was mad cuz I kept hitting him in the head while I rocked my face off."


Is this what writer's block is?  I didn't think a blogger could get writer's block.  I still have my kids, my dog, my husband, my wine addiction, my cookbook fetish, my love of changing seasons, my dance parties... blah blah blah.  And I'm still all rainbows and giant colorful balloons & confetti happy about the goings on in my life.  Whats missing are the words to tell you about it.  I've lost them.

I'm pretty sure they are at the bottom of the stinky softball bag with an old diaper and some damp daycare shorts.


"Deary Diary.  Today I was driving to work and was slapped in the face with a story about a girl who refused to let age or social norms dictate the activities in life that would bring her joy.  A super awesome cool girl who recognized that each stage of her life had value and importance and should not be diminished, forgotten or wished away.  And then...I realized I had already started this story and locked in away in an unpublished blog post from the summer of writer's block."

True story.  And as I was cruising to work, 70 mph on SD roads, trying to record my inspiration on my iphone's dicta phone thingamagjig I realized I'd written this story already, or at least the beginning of it.  

For those of you trying to figure out if this is a flashback or foreshadowing, it's  Spoiler alert...I'm that girl.  And my inspiration this morning, driving at dangerous speeds on isolated SD roads, was my actually coming up for air after 2 months of pretty amazing moments.  Some grown up professional and adult like, some hedonistic, free for all shaking off of said adulthood.  And I was sort of reveling in my ability to do that, to live on both sides of the fence.  To be a respected professional, a fairly "good kid" to my parents and a free spirit all at the same time.  

Do not mistake this for boasting, it's not.  It's a very calculated lifestyle, it's a refusal to move too far in either direction.  Too far into socially unacceptable "slacker" and you miss the very real bonus points for financial stability, professional respect and the amazing high that comes along with being really good at something society deems valuable.  But, too far into big time serious, get over yourself, career focused adulthood and you miss out  Like the whole, entire, rest of your life.  So sad.  So scary to think about.

If I had to protect one or the other, it would not be the hyper adulthood life.   Surprised?  I like it, but if one had to go...that'd be the one.

But then I'd want to live modern communal style.  Self sustaining farm, animals, home school, "it takes a village" style living.  With gadgets of course.  In my mind, modern communal living includes being on the grid.

So after several months of too much in one direction, I just righted the ship...big time (can I say "big time" without sounding like a d-bag?)  Here's how it breaks down:

"Tomorrow may rain so...I'll follow the sun".  The Beatles

Sunday, August 4, 2013

For the love of gardening

When I am lost, there are certain sounds, smells, tasks, visuals that can bring me home, help me find my way back to myself.

Sometimes there is a "recipe".  If I am feeling disconnected from my roots, I visit my grandmother.  Her voice, the food she prepares for me (somehow she is always making my favorite German foods when I need her to be).  One bite of Grandma's rhubarb kuchen and I'm transported to my most happy place.  The farm, open windows, the summer breeze that back then always kept the farm house plenty cool.  Taffy pulls, dandelion wine, taming barn cats and corn on the cob.  The only consistent home I knew for many many years.  Transported back in time, not via the flux capacitor, but a bite of rhubarb kuchen.

Tombstone Pepperoni pizza and Fresca?  My mom's Thursday night bowling league in Webster.  Allowed to stay up past my bedtime, the cheers of local bowling heros, falling asleep across two plastic bucket seats on the highly polished hard wood.

Mogan David red wine with 7-Up in a tiny but heavy silver chalice?  Christmas Eve at dinner.

The salty, beefy goodness of beef jerky or the quirky sweet & salty treat of peanuts in Pepsi (yup that's right...peanuts IN Pepsi)? Childhood every other weekend rituals with my Dad Mario.

The feeling of packed dirt under my fingernails and a fine layer of black dirt dust over my entire body is like a security blanket. No matter where I am, those familiar sensations ground me to my childhood home and my grandparents.  The act of growing food & flowers taps into an inner peace saved only for the acts of hard work and producing something important. Like clean food for my family and flowers to brighten days.

The David Wattier Memorial Garden was born last year in tribute to my Grandpa Wattier who passed away in April 2012.

This year the David Wattier Memorial Garden began indoors in early April, on a sick day, with David Wattier's great grandson's little pre schooler hands tilling the soil of egg cartons.  It was to be the first year we started our own seedlings using all organic seeds.  The 23 windows in our office have been begging for the opportunity to double as a greenhouse and winter had firmly dug in it's heels. Liam and I were home contagious, but not sick enough to burn a day sleeping.

And so we began:

When Liam saw the pink birthday table cloth make it's second appearance in a week, he was so excited.  He had no idea why, but surely it meant some kind of party was about to happen.

And when I placed the egg cartons we'd been saving out in front of him, his enthusiasm did not diminish, but he did need a moment to contemplate what kind of party this could be.

 He had been eyeballing this box on my sewing desk for weeks, always asking what I was putting in it.  Could he open it?  What's it for mommy?  When he realized this was to be the center piece of our weird egg carton and pink plastic floor party he was all about it.

His wonderful preschool grows their own food in a garden next to the building and the kids get to work in it every day, so upon opening the box, he understood that we were about to have a planting party. He recognized the tomatoes first and quickly declared they were all his to plant.

April and May blizzards continued but the 120 seedlings flourish under east facing windows and grow lights in our office.

We waited.

And while we waited, we reveled in all things spring.  Spring flowers, spring birdies, spring mud, spring blizzards.

poor strawberries

We had so many new birds in our backyard this year!  I've been trying to attract a variety of birdies since we moved in and this spring...success!

And then, right after the  Cinco de Mayo blizzard, the sun came out and beckoned us to bring those babies out into the garden so she could help them grow big and strong.  That was how Liam told the story anyway.  I liked it.

And into the ground they went.  The ground, some buckets, some old soup cans, old flower pots.  Turns out 120 seedlings is...a lot.

Here is what we planted:
Summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, about 4 varieties of tomatoes, cilantro, Serrano peppers, jalapeno peppers, habanero peppers, "hot" peppers, chives, lavender, dill, spinach, arugula, scallions, garlic, carrots, sunflowers and beans,

The 2013 David Wattier Memorial Garden was on track to be the healthiest, most fruitful garden thus far in our gardening career.  All natural, all organic, homegrown, food for my family.

Until... well...let's just say what I knew about chemicals was next to nothing.  I read the label.  Shouldn't the label say it's not safe near gardens on the OUTSIDE, rather than on page 10 of the insert?  And now I know about "drift".  How come "drift" never came up all those summer days in the garden with Grandpa?

When I called the number on the back of the weed killer, which was never intended for the gardens, but the walking paths around them, I was told by the nice lady that none of my garden plants were not salvageable.  None.  Even if they didn't die, any fruits they produced for the rest of the season would not be edible.

I kept it together while speaking to her, but when I called my husband, who was waiting for me at Annika's softball game, all I managed to get out was "something bad happened" and the rest was drowned in tears. Poor Brandon was panicked, he couldn't understand a word I was saying and it is so unlike me to break down so utterly and completely.  He listened through tearful heaves and heard words like "" and said "The garden?  You killed the garden?  That's all?" And then a soft laugh, "Oh baby I'm sorry."

So, here we are 2 months later with a much smaller version of the David Wattier Memorial Garden.  Actually, it could be called the David Wattier Salsa Garden. All in pots because the soil is no good until next season. I'm over the loss of the first garden, I've taken note of the silver lining, the opportunity to learn something about giving up control, grieving and moving on, patience and hard work.

Things are coming along quite nicely.

Under the owl's watchful eye.

I love this little Dalia.  There is something about her all bloomed in bright yellow color, but speckled in dirt that feels good to me.

Unbelievably, summer is winding down.  How can that be?  School starts in just 16 days, but there is still lots of time in the garden.  And then lots of time harvesting and canning.  I'm not wishing away these last days of summer though.

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.

Alfred Austin 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Me...according to Pink

One day at a Bare Minerals store in the mall:

Me (while looking at 1 million shades of beige mineral foundation)
"What do these do?"
Ms. Minerals 
"That is your warmth and your radiance."
Me (mock confusion)
"Mine?  My warmth and my radiance specifically?"
Ms. Minerals (does not think I'm funny)
"Yes.  And here is your color and glow"
Me (now a smidge frightened by how serious she is)
"You have my warmth, my radiance, my color and my glow?  Seriously, none of those things are registering on my face?  I don't get it, how can this be? "

$250.00 later, I have them all in a shiny black bag. My warmth, my radiance, my pink colored cheeks and my glow.   She had to teach me how to put them back on my face, but thank God I had them back. 

So, I'm a realist, I call it like I see it and I am fully aware that life has faded some of the color and youthful glow from face.  I wasn't really sweating it, but yeah, I've absolutely have days when I peer into the magnifying makeup mirror (standard issue post 40th birthday gear ) expecting to see me and I'm greeted by a puffy, pale, blotchy  Bigger than life and sporting some wicked dark circles and new facial hair, but it's still me.  

However, I was not prepared to be told by Ms. Minerals at the MALL that I had also lost both my warmth and my radiance.  It was so matter of fact, the way she told me.  Like "Duh.  No one your age has warmth and radiance."  Followed by very clear marching orders.   If I didn't have any other makeup on, I HAVE to make sure to have warmth, radiance and blush.  

I've never worn blush, except when I have a fever.  Then I have a little blush on my cheeks and the whites of my eyes.  So in my world, pink cheeks = sick human being.  

I was surprised by my reaction to the news that basically I was walking around looking like a re-animated corpse, void of any proof of life on my face.  Even though my logical mind was laughing at how the use of these words were playing out when said out loud, my emotional self was kind of hurt. Like she had just revealed a super secret everyone knew about me and I was too stupid to see.  Like all along, I have been high on getting older and believing that the peace and joy and confidence I feel on the inside was being transmitted to the world through my face and all along the ugly truth was that was not.  In fact, all this time warmth, radiance, color...were gone.  Poof! 

And somehow this store in the Sioux Falls mall ends up with every aging woman's goods and sells them back to us.  

"That is your warmth and your radiance."

Well trained consumer that I am, I accept this as truth, hand over my card and breathe a sigh of relief. 

Not two days later I was sitting on a public toilet (like you do) and I look down to see this:

And again I'm at first wildy confused and then instantly horrified.  Why are my pants telling me "I am confident"?  Do I need my waist band to send me daily affirmations?  Is there someone, somewhere, looking at the size of pants and yelling "This one needs a confidence message!"

I'd argue I'm more confident and secure in all aspects of my life than I have ever been.  It is what brings me the peace I thought everyone was seeing on my face.  But something about those pants made the manufacturer anticipate my need for boost of confidence near my zipper.

I don't know.  It feels insulting.  It feels manipulative.  It feels like someone wants me to feel like crap about myself.

Ugh and maybe it feels a little too real.  Maybe I really hate it when someone suggests that the number of my years means something other than that I 'm getting more fabulous each passing day.  If after 40 you start paying for your self esteem and identity, I want more bang for my buck.

You know who totally knows how much I rock and sends me the RIGHT messages for my dollar?

This girl:

Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel
Like you're less than f*&king perfect
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel
Like you're nothing, you're f*%king perfect to me

She knows how to motivate this girl.

Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone's bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn't mean you're gonna die
You've gotta get up and try, and try, and try
Gotta get up and try, and try, and try
You gotta get up and try, and try, and try

She totally knows me. 

So raise your glass if you are wrong
In all the right ways, all my underdogs
We will never be, never be anything but loud
And nitty gritty, dirty little freaks
Won't you come on and come on and
Raise your glass!
Just come on and come on and
Raise your glass!

Knows what's up...
I can't help it, I like to party, it's genetic
It's electrifying wind me up and watch me go
Where she stops nobody knows
A good excuse to be a bad influence on you and you

Most importantly, she knows I'm still a rock star...I've got my rock moves.  

I'll show you my warmth and radiance:

Yeah there it is.  And I'm only radiates more as I get older.  

And for the record...all this was before I purchased my warmth, radiance, color and glow at the mall.