Apr 12 2014

Bodies in Motion

No two times on my yoga mat are alike. Sometimes I feel fluid and strong. Sometimes I feel creaky and old. I wonder if I look any different on the outside. I know that when my body doesn’t move the way I wish it would, as seems to increasingly be the case, I fret. I think about aging, about my inevitable, slow decline, about becoming something that is anathema to me: still. I move so that I can keep moving. I want to have dance parties with my grandchildren and not just be the stiffy grannie who amuses everyone. I want to get DOWN.

I’m especially preoccupied with all of this because I recently found out that my ACL repair of a few years ago did not take. It’s unclear whether another surgery is the best option. The only thing that I know is that someday, I don’t know when, this knee will hurt. And maybe it will hurt so much and for so long that I will need a replacement – which I know isn’t the end of the world, but oh my god. I find myself doing a lot of magical thinking around the knee – Would I switch bodies with that person? That person? – trying to intuit what other kinds of health issues I would be inheriting along with their seemingly intact knees.

Crazy, I know. But isn’t it nice to know that things haven’t changed much around these peevish parts?

Yesterday my yoga teacher said something along these lines: our bodies are how they are and what we have right now. It was a different beast twenty years ago and will be a different beast in twenty years from now. We take care of them so that we can use them to communicate with the people we love. We take care of them so we can feel good. Because if we feel good, we can be good.

It made me want to cry. And it made me want to write.

You must watch this video about the A-Z’s of Dance. It’s so inspiring.

And hello again. We have some things to catch up on.

YouTube Preview Image

Sep 5 2013

Tiny Floating

tinyfloatingI love lakes. I just do. So many people prefer oceans, or (egads) swimming pools, but to me nothing beats a cool, deep lake. I like that the water is sweet. I like that it holds mysteries. I like that lakes are alive, yet contain nothing that can actually eat me. Lakes are safe, but they are dark – and something about that floats my boat.

August had me returning to the lake every day. Multiple times a day. After a summer spent at the pool, I’m over its artificial blue waters and right angles – the chlorine, the bodies. Something about the late summer light makes me yearn for nature and its wild edges. I crave the inky black water and the cloud streaked sky. Morning, noon and best of all, night, the lake is different and completely gorgeous each time.

I’ve always been one to swim out way far – searching for the middle – possibly the area where I go tiny dancing. On vacation I would eye a distant rock island for days until one day I made a break for it with Saint James. We don’t swim fast, we don’t swim freestyle. A simple, head out of the water breast stroke allows us to talk and go for days. He’s always been my deep swim companion and we’d turn, panting and proud, to see our people, impossibly small and worriedly standing with hands on hips on the shore.

This August, through the heatwave, the middle of Lake Harriet became my parlor of sorts and I brought anyone who was game. Dash, Supergirl, book club ladies. I wanted to share the MIDDLE, because the middle is better than the edges.

It occurs to me that what draws me back again and again is the same exact feeling that I get from crunching my way out onto the white expanse in the wintertime. It’s found territory – a place where your body isn’t necessarily supposed to be. I love being where I’m not supposed to be.

Floating on my back, with planes flying overhead or the moon hanging like a swinging bulb, the water lapping at my temples – this is the physical sensation of summer that I am choosing for myself this year. This is what I will think about when the snow flies and the lake is frozen to land. I will imagine those waters holding my body afloat, limbs splayed and eyelids heavy, a sacred offering to the sun.

Jul 3 2013

Man Down

santiLast week Saint James got dropped off from soccer camp and surprised the living daylights out of me by basically crumpling in the front door, clutching his ankle. Shit. The tears he had been saving up, rolled down his flushed cheeks as he growled the story to me. Basically: a big uncoordinated kid took him down. Bad. Within fifteen minutes we were on our way to the ortho urgent care, visions of a permanently bum ankle swimming in my head.

I’d like to say I had this puppy in perspective from the get go. It’s just an ankle – a swollen, bruised, gnarly looking ankle, but merely an appendage nevertheless. Lately, it seems there’s no end to the grapevine of heartbreaking stories and I knew better than to get overly upset over an ankle. It wasn’t his head. It wasn’t his kidney. I wasn’t the cells in his blood. It would be fine.

But to say that I had perspective, is not to say that I was happy about it.  As someone with a pretty shitty knee injury from her youth, I know what a thing like this can do to a sporty young head. And it’s the middle of soccer season. And most importantly of all, it’s SUMMER. A summer for which we waited a long time, and put up with a lot of snow and rain and gray. A summer that played big time hard to get. A summer that is finally, FINALLY giving us a little love. My heart squeezed when I thought about the games and bike adventures and boy wanderings he’d be missing out on. Shit. Shit. Shit.

Who knew, then, that a severe sprain and a possible fracture, crutches and two weeks in a boot would yield a silver lining? I would have expected this last week to be nothing but complaining and angst, but it has actually been quite nice. Turns out, taking one kid out of the rotation during the busiest time of the year makes a big difference. Things get a little quieter, a little easier and lo and behold, there have been more than a few times I find our entire family in the backyard, just lounging and talking, gathered around the boot like it’s a warm fire, a  powerful relic.

The injury made us slow down to keep pace with our guy on crutches and I’ve been touched to see how willing everyone was to do it. Of course, I’m going to dote and hover and cluck – I’m the mama. But I didn’t particularly expect the girls to dote and hover and cluck. They’ve been flying around the house, fetching him icepacks and drinks and pillows like little Florence Nightingales. Every time Saint James scoots down the stairs on his bottom, Devil Baby is there to carry his crutches. She holds them in perfect position for him to hop right into. They hang out with him in the basement, play couch catch, watch TV.

And the moody, monosyllabic big bruthuh is being nicer too. Whether it’s from a place of gratitude, humility or necessity, he’s being kinder to his sisters. He’s stuck and bored enough to engage with them – really talk and hang out. This could be temporary – who am I kidding, it’s totally temporary – but I’ll take it.

Normally, at this time in the summer I’d already be burnt out from the driving – fried to a crispy nugget from the schedules. But oddly, I feel really peaceful right now. I feel like I have a handle on things and we are really plugged into each other for a blink. The girls are still doing their things, but St. James is simply healing his ankle. Letting the alchemy of youth, time and magic knit all those little fibers back together.

On Wednesday we go back to the doctor to find out if he’s out of the boot and free to play or out for another 6-8 weeks because of a fracture. I know I’ve liked this little respite. I know I found a so-called silver lining, but let’s not be ridiculous. Let’s not mince words.

If St. James is out for the rest of the summer I will lose. my. shit.

Or maybe not. Fingers and ankles crossed.

Mar 12 2013

Devil Baby in 100 Years

securedownloadLike everyone, this house is awash in drawings and doodles. Stuff from school, scribbles on napkins and scraps of paper. I look at all of it before I recycle it. Often times I take a picture, because it seems a shame to lose the sentiment, the moment in time, the humor, the color or whatever it is that made me stop and smile for a few ticks.

This was part of some 100 project that the first graders were doing and I just adore it. The little perm, the puffy sleeves, the pink shoes, the fresh tennis balls on the cane. We should all aspire to look that good at the ripe old age of 106.

Feb 8 2013

This Season We’re In

securedownloadRed Vogue emailed me a little winter promo she had put together because the jumping fish girl is actually Supergirl. When I saw it, I just sat with my chin in my hands for a few minutes and stared. It’s so lovely.

The feeling I get from seeing these two photos side by side is the essence of Minnesota life for me. The lakes loom large for our families, in winter, spring, summer and fall and to see Harriet dressed in her two most contrasting costumes is a good reminder that winter is not forever. And also a good reminder that winter is not forever.

Y’all know I’m a fan of a wintery lake. When I was the mystery guest in Supergirl’s classroom, my clues for favorite places were 1. Clancy’s meat market in Linden Hills, 2. First Avenue and 3. the middle of the lake in the middle of the winter. Tiny dancing is still one of my life’s most unique and mind clearing  pleasures, but trucking out with the kids, Dash and Foxy Brown (or any combination thereof) is equally warming – warming in all ways.

If you haven’t walked out to the middle of Lake Harriet by yourself, with your dog or with your kids, you are missing out. Truly missing out on a physical and mental sensation that is ephemeral and uniquely tied to this time of year. I’ve said this before: It is found ground. How can we not enjoy standing on its firmness and marveling at our spot in the world?

When I’m out there, my pooch tearing around like a chocolate blur, I find myself slowly turning 360 degrees to take in the white expanse, the variegated sky, the winking lights. When in life do we ever take a slow 360? It’s so rare.

I take the big clearing breaths I don’t remember or get to take the rest of the time when I’m wrapped up in my bulky sweaters, hunched against the wind or over a cup of hot tea.

I note that what’s missing in color and saturation is more than compensated for in pattern, texture and shadow – all courtesy of the wind and the clouds and Mama Nature’s deft hand.

And I am grateful for the cold that makes it possible, because that is no longer something we can or should take for granted.

Winter is not forever.

Jan 11 2013

Costa Rica

montihill1As I type and glance out the window at the white, grays and browns, our emerald green escape seems about as improbable as OZ. Two whole weeks in Costa Rica. The thought of it makes me sigh a big, deep, relaxed, blissful sigh – still, these many days later. It was good, friends. It was what I needed to knit myself back together – to tuck in all the frayed nerves, to smooth over the shards of anger. With the help of my little family and that gracious country, I feel whole. My faith in us – and myself – is restored. At least for a little while.

What did I love about our trip to Costa Rica? Let me count the ways . . .

sunset11. Sunsets. Sunsets are a fact of life and almost a cliche – they happen every day, like clockwork. Mundane, unnoticed, ignored. That is, until you go on vacation. Suddenly, sunsets are elevated to their rightful position – that of a small miracle worthy of our attention. We enjoyed wave crashing sunsets, sunsets on the tops of hills, sunsets with umbrella drinks, sunsets in hammocks, sunsets on dirt roads, sunsets on sandy beaches. But we watched them, together, allowing ourselves to be bathed in gold and suspended in magic for a few minutes.

binocs12. Patience. It turns out we are the kind of people who will stand in the rain for half an hour after a three hour hike to try to get a better glimpse of a Resplendent Quetzal perched on a branch. Also the kind of people who will hang out on a beach for hours at night to make sure a few hatchling turtles made it to the sea. Even though the baby turtles have managed just fine for centuries before our arrival, it felt important. It felt like we helped. This trip rewarded quiet watchfulness, which is a rarity in our lives.

horses13. Los caballos. It’s actually a great way to cover a lot of terrain if there are small tired legs in the family. And the Ticos make it so easy – no helmets, no waivers, no fuss – just hop on and go. We went on two epic horseback trecks – one through town, jungle and beach, one through jungle and cloud forest. I have always loved horses and it made me puff chested proud to see my entire family on horseback. Doctor Dash’s horse decided to take a dip when we forged a river, drenching him from head to toe and I have never laughed so hard in my life. I quite literally could not breathe. Poor Dash. I’m a terrible wife. A couple hours later, I would find myself galloping faster than I ever have while my horse strained to catch up with Supergirl’s. Again, breathless.

mosaic1painting14. Art where you’d least expect. Toward the end of our trip, we decided to spend the day beach hopping among some hidden beaches that we had read about. We had an awesome day – treacherous dirt roads, incredible vistas, three beautiful beaches in six hours – each as unique as a fingerprint. On the way back we stopped in a little town called Punta Islita, where there was supposed to be a fantastic art collaboration between the town and the hotel near the town. Intrigued, we stopped to take a look and sure enough, right in the middle of paradise, was this tiny colony of working artists.

Dash and I have a long tradition of rationalizing purchases in Costa Rica – beginning on our honeymoon when we would let ourselves splurge on cool and fancy hotels we stumbled upon because Hey! You only honeymoon once, right? This time, we bought a painting by artist Joseph Kaknes. He dedicated it to us on the back, scribbling that he hoped it would bring us much joy. It already has. I love this painting because I love the whole day leading up to it and how we found it and the salty Gloucester artist who charmed us in his studio. I love that my kids ran around and played with his dogs while we chatted with Joseph, slowly becoming enchanted by his work. It’s for our fifteenth wedding anniversary. And Christmas.


5. New Years on the beach. Basically we camped out in the sand with our friends in front of a bar called La Vela Latina and drank beer under the stars while our kids ran around. The entire span of Playa Samara was dotted with bonfires and at midnight it was fireworks, all up and down the beach as far as the eye could see. I have never experienced anything like it. It was just magic. Warm, loud, rowdy, frolicky and uniquely Latin. What a way to start 2013.

signsoccersoccer16. Futbol is a language. Watching Saint James take a deep breath and muster up every last iota of his guts to jump into his first pick-up game on the beach squeezed my heart. He never would have found the courage if he didn’t want to play SO BAD. After that first time, it was a piece of cake. He’d scan the beach, narrow his eyes, assess the level of play, shrug and jog on over. I noticed he’d juggle the ball a few times or do a fancy trick right off the bat as a way of introducing himself. Boys, teens, men, the occasional girl, and the occasional Supergirl, he managed to play almost every day that we were on or near a beach. Good stuff.

skypalm1clouds17. The view from still. The best thing about traveling is that point when you remember there is another way to do things, another way to live. Costa Ricans can sit like no one else. It’s like an Olympic sport. Every where you go, Ticos are simply sitting, chatting, watching the world go by. They’ll sit on the beach, in front of vegetable stands, in the yard with the chickens, at restaurants, on front porches, at gas stations, in bars, on fences. They are so good at it, that I found it quite inspiring.

This was by no means a sedentary vacation, but we did try to balance out all our adrenaline excursions with a bit of leisure and some long beach days. When I wasn’t body surfing with the kids or swimming out past everyone else or peering into tidal pools, I sat with Dash. I watched the Ticos and I copied them as best I could, and to tell you the truth, the view is beautiful from a point of stillness. You watch your family play and you really see them. You look at your feet. You look up. You breathe, you drink a beer, you make small talk with your hubby. It’s quite simple, really. And I’m going to make a concerted effort to keep up this newly acquire skill. There are other ways to do things and I’m keeping this piece.


helmets1medave8. Us. It didn’t really dawn on me until someone asked us if we had been to Costa Rica before, that we were returning fifteen years after our honeymoon with three kids in tow. Even though we went different places on our honeymoon, it turns out we kind of travel the same way. We like our independence, we like to be spontaneous, we like to go off the beaten path and we like to be where the Ticos are. Even though it wasn’t intentional, I love the symmetry of returning 15 years later with our babes.

It was actually really romantic – so much has changed and yet so much is the same. Dash and I are essentially the same. But now we’ve got 3 cool little people who are game for adventure, curious, brave and completely fun and funny to be around. We had a blast – just the five of us. Getting away has a way of letting us see the us more clearly, right? That’s what I loved the most.

Nov 14 2012

Baby Angst?

MontiluIt was only a matter of time. I suppose I was pretty much asking for it with all this old mommy/young mommy BS I’ve been slinging – acting like I’m all cool and lucky and relieved to be out of the fray. Today, I got a huge kick in the gut courtesy of one weepy baby girl sitting on a yoga mat. Apparently, I am not at all cool and lucky and relieved to be out of the fray. Thwak!


I’ve been feeling discombobulated this fall. My more yogi type friends tell me that autumn is a time of transitions and imbalances. My more pragmatic type friends tell me I’m too hard on myself.

I don’t know what’s up, but I do know this: my insides were aching today as I watched this little bean hiccup her tears away after her mama ran out at the end of yoga because she heard her crying. Her eyes were all shiny and she had that offended look on her face. She sat against her mama with her legs splayed out in front of her, taking shuddering breaths but visibly comforted. It was that easy. She simply . . .  so simply . . . needed her mama.

She reminded me of Devil Baby, yes. But she also reminded me what it was like to feel like a mama with my body. My innards, my cells, my arms, my breasts. Being a mother used to be such a physical, tactile thing. So much so, that it could get suffocating. I remember wondering: will I ever eat a meal without a baby in my lap or on my boob? Will I ever be able to stretch out in my bed?

But now. The ache. I’m not one of those women who’s going to get a baby fix with someone else’s baby. I wasn’t going to be able to cootchi coo this one and walk away satisfied. My body wants my baby. The realization that I will sooner feel that satisfaction with a grand child than with my own new baby is utterly sad to me.

I cried all the way home. It’s over. It’s so over.

Sep 19 2012


YouTube Preview ImageI’m a sucker for a good documentary and this one looks great. Musings, meditations and analysis of the most basic thing we all want: happiness.

The question of what makes you happy is a good one to ask and answer for yourself. The question itself kind of makes me happy because it’s a reminder that yes, we have some control over this. And frankly, half the battle is simply reminding yourself to look and then knowing where to look. It’s all around us – begging to be noticed so it can work its magic on our souls.

It’s the Jewish New Year and it’s also the new school year, so in celebration of new beginnings, here are some of mine in no particular order:

1. Loud music

2. Dancing

3. Feeding my family

4. Watching my dog romp with another dog

5. Soccer goals

6. My book club

7. A great pair of boots or jeans

8. Knowing that my siblings are finding their loves

9. When cousins get to hang out

10. Doctor Dash making pizza in a frilly apron

11. Two for one bloody marys and the ladies that go with them

12. The change of seasons

13. Children singing

14. Yoga

15. Tiny dancing

16. Cool graffiti/street art

17. Salty cured meats

18. When Saint James roams for hours on his bike with his buddies . .  and then comes home, winded and happy.

video via Cup of Jo

Jul 26 2012

Meet the State Champs!

stateOh, the jubilation that preceded this picture! Makes every iota of driving, of sweltering or freezing on the sidelines, of washing long stinky black socks totally worth it. And really, truly, the title couldn’t have gone to a sweeter group of kids. Good sports, hard workers, soccer lovers. They are good in many ways.

As far as championship games go, it could not have been more dramatic and nerve wracking. 1:1, into overtime and then a shoot out. I literally had to do some yoga breathing it was so intense. I’m not sure I’m cut out for this kind of sports stress.

They sure are, though. HURREFFINGAAAAY!!!

Jul 10 2012

Magic on Wheels

Flying-Bird-1I just need to acknowledge that right now, at this point in this summer in this month, it is STILL a joy and a wonder to ride a bike behind Devil Baby. To watch a six year old pedal furiously, expertly maintaining balance, is nothing short of a small summer miracle. That their little bodies learn how to do this, is almost impossible to believe.

She’s been off training wheels for a very long time, yet she still looks small enough to need them, small enough to make me think of a little bird in flight as she leans into her turns, her pony tail poking out from beneath her helmet.

I bet she feels it too.

May 11 2012

Foxy Brown Done Got Shorn

shornfoxAre we terrible dog parents? Let me rephrase that. We ARE terrible dog parents. Not only did we accidentally make Foxy obese for, like, two weeks, now our wild yeti looks like an exquisite rat. Poor little thing.

The beauty of a doodle, as everyone knows, is that they don’t shed. And without the shedding, there goes the motivation and (we thought) the necessity of brushing them. Every once in a while we would brush out the top of her head to give her an 80’s metal hair band coif in order to amuse ourselves, but serious brushing? Nah.

If she were a Muppet, she’d be Ralph the Dog’s uncouth country cousin – the one with the wild curls and the lopey run, who picks her teeth with a straw and snorts when she laughs. We like her rough around the edges – as far from those frou frou poodles as we can get her. And she obliged by growing thick, unruly, gorgeous curls that made her look three times her actual size and housed twigs, burrs, leaves and, on occasion, legos.

But it was time for a summer cut and her gentle trim turned into a full blown shearing because of the gnarled mats that had grown on her ears, behind her neck and on her bum. I knew it was bad because her stylist called to warn me that she needed to take her really short to get the mats out. She also warned me that Foxy was super sensitive and that I should try to act completely natural when I picked her up. Just pretend she looks the same as ever, she said.

I should win an Oscar for my performance because OHMYGOD!!!!! FOXY!!!!! What a shock. Turns out, she’s this tiny little dog with a tiny little head. Here we thought we had a BIG dog. She is so wee and so exposed. And I must say, this sheepish embarrassed Foxy who is slinking around as if she’s naked (because she is) touches my heart in ways the giant yeti Foxy had yet to do. Her tiny frame skittering under the coffee table as if to hide is enough to make me weep. She presses against my legs for warmth, to make sure I still love her, and I suspect, so that I won’t be able to get a good look at her.

I feel like we’re seeing the true inside Foxy – her dear, vulnerable little self – not because we wanted to and not because she wanted us to, but because she was shorn, because of the mats, because we didn’t brush her, because we’re terrible dog parents.

Feb 11 2012

Soupapalooza 2012!

SOUPI’m writing a series for my friends at Simple Good and Tasty featuring four soups in four weeks. Soupapalooza, baby. Check it out. This week is a delectable Squash Soup with Coconut and Ginger. In addition to an easy and toothsome recipe, you’ll learn why I tend to become obsessed with soup at the beginning of a new year.

Jan 26 2012

Mad Hungry

bookI’m kind of the queen of buying gifts for people that I really want for myself. This Saturday night we’re going to an overnight dinner party at Gigi the Animal Whisperer and Ten Gallon’s “farm” with two other families. In addition to bringing fixings for the fanciest salad I can come up with (I’m thinking arugula with shaved fennel and apple, slivers of proscuitto and a champagne vinaigrette), I wanted to give Gigi and Ten Gallon a little token of thanks for hosting so many teens and children when what they were really after was us grown-ups! As they are the parents of three hungry adolescent boys, I stopped in my tracks when I spotted this book at Cooks of Crocus Hill. I couldn’t resist paging through it when I got home and the recipes look abso fabu. Big on flavor, big on heartiness, low on fuss. My kind of cooking. I love what Lucinda Scala Quinn says in her introduction about feeding the men and boys in her life.

Boys and men who grow up eating flavorful home-cooked food are more likely to cook for themselves. A man who knows how to cook is more self-sufficient, is a better roommate, boyfriend, father, and son. And as any wife knows, a husband who can cook is like one who can dance – the deluxe package. Huzzah!!!

Obviously, this holds true for girls too and like this author, feeding my family is one of my life’s great pleasures. It’s a way to be busy with my hands so I can listen to music and think. It’s a way to feel productive when I may be procrastinating figuring out what I’m going to be when I grow up. It’s a way to nourish and teach and share. It’s a way to show my love. And it’s a way for me to stack the deck in favor of ending up with a brood who will enjoy eating the way I do. If it is something we have always done together, it is something we can always do together. As my mother-in-law would say, bon appetit!

Jan 16 2012

Music Monday – Nina Simone

YouTube Preview Image Resplendent in yellow, I love Nina singing Ain’t Got No – I’ve Got Life. This version is almost downright kicky, a perfect dose of sunshine and self-love for this Martin Luther King Day. And that dress? I want it. Enjoy. She’s incredible, isn’t she?

Jan 14 2012

Forever Young? We can certainly try.

I love this lady. I aspire to be this lady. Bring on the pink Mary Janes and culottes. Last weekend My Little Spring Roll talked me into going to what is basically a spinning class at our yoga studio. I had seen this class on the schedule, but truth be told, I probably wouldn’t have tried it but for the dangling carrot of some time with my friend. As I huffed and puffed and giggled at her attempts to tilt her bike with her tiny little body, I thought to myself: how lucky am I? At this point in my life and where I live, I am absolutely surrounded by women who love to move, who love to try new things, who love to laugh and break a sweat. I’m a yoga girl, and usually a solo one at that, but lately I feel as if not a week goes by without a text or email from someone enticing me to go for a walk, go to a hip hop class, go snowboarding, go to a dog park, go dancing. (Oh, the dancing. Fountain of youth, right there). Lady Tabouli has even taken me for a steam with the Jewish old ladies a couple times. Divine! I’m friends with more than a few crazy triathlon gals, but they know not to come a knockin’.

As I grapple with what it means to be over forty, I can’t help but think about the state of my body. Not necessarily because of how it looks, but because of how it feels. Or how I want it to feel. Those days of college dieting and forcing myself to the gym are a distant memory and shit, good riddance. Now, I’m grateful to have the time, the means and mostly, the health to be able to move my ass. We exercise for ourselves, and for the selves we will be in 10, 20, 30, 40 years. We exercise to figure ourselves out, whether it be a piss-ass mood or an eternally tight shoulder. We exercise to find our bliss.

My friends, I’ve been trumpeting this for a while, but I’m officially putting it out there: I am all about the limber. Limber body = limber mind = limber heart. See an adventure with your eye, say yes with your mind, chase it with your body.

What are the chances Pinky Tuscadero up there isn’t one happy old biddy?

Much thanks to all you movers and shakers. You inspire me.

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