Monday, December 12, 2011

Moon over UNIMIN

Moon Over UNIMEN
I took a break from grading and walked the Kasota Prairie when the sun was setting. The sunset is pretty amazing over the hills and the wetland.  And, note, there's a BEAR on the prairie, too. :)  Freya, who was crazy-wound-up that night. Then as we were leaving, we ran into a friend dog and owner, so that was all the better.

After the sun set, I turned east and low and behold, the full moon was rising over UNIMIN. Had to get a photo of that, too...even though the colors don't do the moon justice.

Oh, and another day last week, I rode my mountain bike at the Prairie. I posted one of these photos before, but I love the idea of giving new meaning to "snow tires."

P.S. I'm DONE grading research papers!!!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy Holidays

I have to immerse myself in grading research papers and stay off the internet for most of the week. So just in case I don't come up for air for awhile, Happy Holidays from Freya and me!

This photo was taken last night at the South Central College Holiday party. Freya was a BIG hit with kids and adults alike. Go figure. She gets mauled--at one time eight people were petting her at the same time. She just takes it in stride.

Her antlers, however, didn't last past one shake of the head--definitely not long enough for a photo!

Fun at the Kasota Prairie

Here's a photo of the "dog party" at Kasota Prairie last weekend, before all the snow fell.

And here was my last ride, perhaps of the season--at least until the ice goes off the roads--which gives meaning to "snow tires."

It's back to the trainer for awhile. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

PW review of Girl Meets Boy and upcoming events

Wednesday night, I'll be signing books in Mapleton, at the Public Library, as part of the Snowflake Dazzle festivities. That should be fun! All sorts of Holiday stuff happening in Mapleton, if you're anywhere nearby.

Sunday, I'll be in Grand Rapids, MN signing at the Village Bookstore from noon to 2 p.m. It's a great Indie bookstore!

Publishers's Weekly reviews our anthology Girl Meets Boy. They liked my story--I'm so honored because I'm in this book with so many hugely terrific and successful writers.

Lastly, have I mentioned how much I love teaching Children's Lit? I do. I have such a great group of readers (and writers) in my class this fall. I love Monday nights. We had a great discussion about Chris Crutcher's Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes last night.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


I finally broke down and rode my bike on the trainer today.

The wind is howling, Freya is snoozing, and I'm trying hard to get some writing done on the newest project. Too much to do, even on a long weekend.
I need to grade for a few hours, too.
The DVD player didn't work when I got on the trainer, so I couldn't do a workout video. I read instead, and it's hard to keep my cadence and heart rate up when I'm lost in a story, but I managed most of the time. Most, I say.

I'm reading John Coy's Top of the Order because I read Kurtis Scaletta's Mudville recently. All this is because my newest complete novel, Slider's Son features a 12-year-old who wants to be a major league pitcher. I wanted to see how other Minnesota writers whom I admire handle their baseball stories. I love both of these books, by the way.

Back to work. This time, on my Iowa political intrigue and romance story...with religion and race mixed in. I hope I can make it all balance into a coherent story.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sadie and Allie get around today...

Today, Rainy of the Dark's blog is hosting an interview with Sadie and Allie. It's kind of fun, so check it out!

We're also very excited (Sadie and Allie and me, that is) to visit Sanford Middle School this afternoon in Minneapolis.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November morning walk

Crispy frosted grass
crunches under Freya's paws
and my hiking boots

Shadows trot ahead
Freya's is interrupted
smelling coyote scat

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Second Story Series today and in April

Second Story this afternoon at the Loft:

Kelly Barnhill and Anne Ursu were delightful, and read enticing passages. I just finished Breadcrumbs by Anne. Can't wait to start The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly.

I graded several hours this morning, spent a delightful afternoon in Minneapolis, and am back at grading again. It was worth the two trips to the cities in one weekend to take in this event and Stephen Shaskan's yesterday.

And: I'm soooo excited. Swati and Heather have asked me to read in the Second Story Series in April--with A.S. King!!! OMG. OMG.

Best thing, however: a sixth-grader ? seventh? told me tonight that she "LOVED Chasing AllieCat" and read it three times. Best thing in the WORLD that I could hear.

A Dog is a Dog

A DOG is a DOG, right?
Not when it's STEPHEN SHASKAN, reading from his new picture book, A DOG IS A DOG.
Yesterday, I went to the Red Balloon, and besides a jam-packed, crammed-with-people-of-all-sizes-and-ages store, this is what I saw.
His new book is adorable and FUN. Can't wait to give it for Christmas!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

MIA, and Art that stops you dead in your tracks

Here's what I keep discovering: the bigger your world gets, the more you want to learn, the more you realize you don't know, but the more wonder you hold for what you do see.

I've been to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts more times than I can count. I've been taking students there almost every school term since 1997. Everytime I go, I see something I haven't noticed before.

My students will confirm that I can't shut up in there...I want to show them everything that excites me or fills me with wonder. However, after an hour of being dragged around, listening to me rush from amazing piece to amazing piece, their feet hurt from walking on the marble floors more than their hearts are open to much more amazement. I turn them loose to wander on their own, and all I do is say to myself, "Oh, I should have showed them...the Magritte, the Picassos, the Dalis, the other Monet, the veiled lady...." but there's only so much I can pack in. They have to find the rest on their own. That's what a good teacher should do, right? Prime them to want to discover on their own? I hope so.

Anyway, my big discovery this year is directly linked to my own year. I've seen Charles Caryl Coleman's "The Bronze Horses of San Marco, Venice" many, many times. This year, however, is the first time I've seen it after being in Venice, after standing on that same balcony of St. Mark's Basilica in St. Mark's Square. Here's the painting, and here's the photo I took. This is why art can stop me dead in my tracks sometimes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


At the FLUX booth at AASL (American Association of School Librarians) this past Friday. So much going on, I can't quite get it all posted and do everything else I'm supposed to be doing (including WRITING!!). Here I am with Marissa and Bethany (in the back), from FLUX, and fellow FLUX author Lisa Albert, and with Steven Pomije from FLUX. Maggie Stiefvater came a bit later (see the FLUX blog post).


Some images from Halloween.
In the "Dead Bride" get-up Saturday night, with "The Keeper," dancing with Tom as "The Big Guy," with Bec the Zombie, Padfoot at my Children's Lit Halloween party, and most important: As a witch at the Mapleton Library Halloween Story Time!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Buena Vista University

Has anybody reading this been to Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa? The campus is beautiful! It feels so collegiate.   I had great visits with two classes: an upper level Composition Class, and a Creative Writing class. Then I was more than slightly overwhelmed by the packed auditorium for my evening reading--well over 100 people, sitting on stairs and standing in back when all 96 (I counted the chairs) filled. Gwen Hart and Roger were spectacular hosts, of course. We had much fun together, and we  were exhausted at the end of the day! I also got to spend time rubbing and smooching Freya's buddy Newfie, Buster Brown. She was very jealous when I got home and she could smell him on my clothes and bags!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

BVU and American Association of School Librarians

It's going to be a busy week. I feel a tiny bit guilty for missing Thursday classes again, but it can't be helped. I'll be at Buena Vista University Thursday, in Storm Lake, Iowa. I get to visit a couple classes, and I'm doing a reading there that night.

Friday, I'll be at the Minneapolis Convention Center at the AASL Conference. I get to sign copies of Chasing AllieCat at the FLUX/Llewellyn booth from 11:15-12:15.  I'll be part of the Author Showcase from 1-2. Should be FUN!

Oh, and Saturday morning, I'll be the witch reading scary Halloween stories at the Mapleton Public Library. Hopefully, photos will be forthcoming!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Slider's Son

So, finally, finally, finally, with weddings and all the other stuff going on in life (oh, and there's full-time teaching and paper-grading, too), I FINISHED editing Slider's Son. It's as good as I can make it until some editor tells me what he/she wants me to do with it.
I like the story. A lot. I sure hope some editor snatches it up fast, so I can have a book coming out in 2013.

This is the story of a 12-year-old boy growing up in North Dakota on the tail end of the depression. All he wants is to be a major league pitcher. His dad is the county sheriff, and there's a murder in town... Lots of things get in the way of his dream...
I'll keep you posted on how this manuscript does.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Harvest and Cycling, my autumn treasures

Autumn has a way of making us pensive, don't you think? Of course, it makes us aware of the passing of time. This year, it's all the more true: my son is getting married in a week, and my grandson turned one year old this past week. But I don't feel old. I just feel as if I'm gathering more information about the world inside. I can only, only hope that makes me a better writer.

I get up a little slower when I've been sitting on the floor, but otherwise, I still feel as physically capable as ever. Maybe I'm fooling myself. But then again...I had a happy realization while cycling last week. I love watching the long shadows during an evening ride in the fall. What I don't love is that dark comes so quickly. Twice this year, I've squeaked home on my bike in the throes of darkness. A couple near misses. Time to mount my light for safety--just in case.

But watching my own shadow, I snapped this self-portrait.  I remember how when I started riding fifteen (!!?) years ago, the guys' long shadows were so smooth; their long shadow legs looked like smooth, fast pistons stretching out, up and down the ditches as we passed. Mine looked awkward and certainly not smooth by comparison. Last week, I watched my shadow and made this happy discovery: lo and behold, somewhere, somehow in the last decade and a half of riding, my own cadence has become smoother. My legs looked like pistons, too. I'm going to relish that realization.
Then again, there's the beauty of harvest. It's sad to me because it means soon the fields will be bare and brown-black although there's a certain beauty of bounty in that, too. It also means the long Minnesota winter is too soon upon is.

The harvest itself fills my heart so full that sometimes I think it will burst (to embrace a cliche). Riding my bike alongside tractors, golden beanfields, or a combine like the one in this picture I took last week reminds me of the richness our soil still holds (IF we take care of it). The smells and sounds wash over me with memories: walking out to Dad's combine in my Halloween costume to show him my ghostly self before we went trick-or-treating; riding rounds in the combine with him, working aloud on my Confirmation memory work; just riding, my forehead pressed against the glass window (exactly as Lainey does in Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged), watching the grain or corn wash like a wave up into the combine header.  And those glorious last autumns at home, when both my brother Bill and Dad were out in the field and they trusted me to do the chores all by myself. I felt so useful. What a good thing to feel.

There was the night when I was probably sixteen when I drove the Cub Cadet into the hog lot with a cart full of 5-gallon buckets of feed, and realized I couldn't back it out without the cart twisting sideways.  I was utterly stuck. What did I do? I emptied the buckets, fed the pigs, and then straightened the cart behind the little tractor by  herking it around by hand so I could back out. I don't think I ever told Dad or Bill about that and here I am, publishing it for the world. I still can't back a wagon or a cart to save my neck.

But I can ride my bike down county highways, flanked on both sides by golden, browning fields of grain and corn, and breathe it in, and be glad to be this tiny part of the plenty of the earth.

Monday, September 26, 2011

September Visitors by David Budbill

September Visitors

I'm glad to see our friends come:
talk, laughter, food, wine.
I'm glad to see our friends go:
solitude, emptiness, gardens,
autumn wind.
"September Visitors" by David Budbill, from Happy Life. © Copper Canyon Press, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

(From Writer's Almanac)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Trying to catch up...

Wow. I've been editing Slider's Son every spare second, so I haven't taken time to blog for ten days. So much to say, and so little time.

Rainbow theme:
First, Kirstin Cronn-Mills was on a panel last night at the loft, discussing GLBT YA literature, and the evening was fascinating and fun. So far to go in getting full acceptance of honest literature. Kirstin was the "token straight ally" author. I want to read every book represented there. Marion Dane Bauer, David LaRochelle, David Levithan, and Pat Schmatz. See my facebook page for a photo of the rainbow snacks provided (Jello made by DivaE, aka Kirstin).

Makes me delighted that in our upcoming anthology Girl Meets Boy, the stories include at least one gay romance.
I'm also gratified that in Chasing AllieCat,  the issue isn't an issue--it's just part of who a character is. 

David Levithan and Brian Farrey both read from their recent novels, and they ROCKED.

We're lucky to live in Minnesota with such a supportive writing community!

Posts coming in the near future (in between or after editing): Kurtis Scarletta, Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna, and some thoughts on fall cycling...:) stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Maybe half ??? done with this edit of Slider's Son. I hope.  It always takes longer than I anticipate.
I'm trying hard to write, do necessary schoolwork, and get out on my bike at least a little bit while the weather is so perfect.

Tonight, I had a short ride, but a satisfying one. I rode the County Road and the Rabbit Road (isn't that a great name?) to St. Peter, and then rode up the Hwy 99 hill, and at the top, turned up Co. Rd. 21 to the crest by the golf course. The hill is 1.4 miles from bottom to top. I was pretty happy to maintain 10-11 mph the whole way up. That's nothing to racers and riders who hammer--stronger riders than I--and TDF riders would go up that hill like it was nothing, but for me--I was very happy with that! (I've ridden up that hill at 6-8 mph before, and I haven't climbed all that well for the last few years...this is a vast improvement--a sort of breakthrough). Then, after I rode along the ridge for a few miles and came back down, I caught a tractor that was going about 20 mph.

Next goal: a train, running parallel to me. I realized it would be across the tracks ahead of me, and I'd have a long wait because it was a long train. So I took off like a bat out of hell, to use a bad cliche, and realized I was riding along, passing train cars. Finally, I overtook the engine! I got to the intersection/RR crossing when the engine was still a quarter mile away. Very satisfying.

The experience, riding between the River valley ridge of hill and a moving train, pasture and fields in between, was being in a movie...full of movement and beauty.

I am more aware of trains than ever, too, because trains play an active role in Slider's Son, the novel I'm editing. It all seemed like an epic ride, even though it was just a little casual after-work ride. These golden, green, blue, sunshiny days are all too fleeting. I'm still trying to absorb every moment of them that I can.

Friday, September 2, 2011


A long weekend ahead. I'm glad. After one meeting, I can do my own stuff.

I got the last of my readers' comments back on Slider's Son, so I can throw my heart into the rewrite of this novel. It's interesting how readers disagree, yet when there's a general thread that appears in several readers' comments, you know you have to address it, and then, finally you see how the story can be fixed, and you dig in. So enough here. I'm digging. I hope to not resurface for a couple days (Except to ride my bike!).

Monday, August 29, 2011

WIldlife Summer

I've gotten quite a few miles in this summer on my bike. Thank goodness. One of my favorite things about that--besides simply being on the bike--is being so in touch with the wildlife around me, as well as the evolving season.

This summer, the wildlife highlight was seeing the red-tailed hawk snatch a bullsnake out of the ditch and perch on a telephone pole, feasting while the feast's tail dangled a good two feet down the pole.

There was the salamander migration day, when suddenly salamanders were traveling across county roads, away from swampy wetlands, toward grain fields. If anybody can explain that behavior to me, please do. Going to feast on bugs, maybe? And a teenage girl was on Co.Rd. 9 on a four-wheeler, scooping up the little guys and helping them across the road so they wouldn't get smushed!

Grasshopper day this past week. The roads and ditches were bouncing, alive. One kamikaze hopper zinged into my spokes and then thudded to the pavement. Sigh.

Frogs of all types, including tree frogs. Wetland frogs singing as I pass. I had a tree frog in my shower last week. I captured him and ran outside (soaking, dripping, naked) to free him in the backyard is entirely secluded, now that the corn is six feet tall. Have no fear.

Owls. Not on my bike, but at home. They hoot every night. And there was the early morning when Freya had a back-and-forth conversation with one for about fifteen minutes. Owl hooted. Freya barked. Back and forth and back and forth. Hilarious.

Coyotes. Sometimes too close for comfort, and Freya thinks she needs to be outside barking then, too. That worries me, so I bring her in. I've seen a couple coyotes on my bike this year, too.

The corn, the beans, a bit of oats. I love watching the crops mature, from dodging tractors and giant planters in the spring, to watching baby spring green spouts pop through black soil, to growing knee-high, to now, when beans are lush and full, and corn tassles are turning and corn silk is browning. The world is a rich place.

Sometimes now, when I steal a ride down the county roads, it breaks my heart that it will all brown and waiting for snow in a matter of long weeks. Can't dwell on that. Think about now. Soak up every second. Ride, ride, ride, whenever I can.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Davenport B&N Tomorrow, and Girl Meets Boy Anthology, January 2012

We got the cover! This week, Kelly Milner Halls sent the cover to all of us whose stories are in this anthology. Pretty cute, huh? It contains some pretty heavy subject matter, I'll tell you that much. The cover may somewhat imply the weight of the stories within...

I'm honored to be in the company of the authors in this book. I'm excited that it's actually in the works and will be in bookstores in January. My story is called "Mars at Night," and the main character is an Iowa farm girl. Go figure. The catch, however, is that she's in love with the only Muslim in her high school. And her beloved pig farm is in danger...

Closer to home, and closer to the moment, TOMORROW, I'm signing Chasing AllieCat in Davenport, Iowa, at the big Barnes and Noble

Friday, July 29, 2011

Magers and Quinn

What a delightful evening, this past Monday, at Magers & Quinn in Uptown, Minneapolis. Thanks, everybody, who came! It was fun.

Here are some amazing and brilliant young women who are members of a book club at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School in Minnetonka. Thanks, Pamela Klinger-Horn for bringing them and helping get this set up!

Magers and Quinn is a delightful, Independent Bookstore in Uptown (near Calhoun Square) if you've never been there. It's everything a bookstore should be!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Magers and Quinn tonight!

I stayed up too late watching the recorded Tour de France, and then of course I didn't sleep very well. I never do if I have a big book event the next day.

It's exciting to be invited to Magers and Quinn to read from and talk about Chasing AllieCat tonight. 7:30.
Yesterday was my mom's birthday. She would have been 91--I'm not sure she would have liked being 91, so maybe it's a gift that she died at 82 when she was still driving and fully capable of life. I missed my family, though--and a birthday party for my nephew-in-law. I had to stay home and work--too much going on this week to be gone an entire day, and I have to finish this edit of the next novel. I also had to cut down maturing cockleburs before they're dry enough to infest Freya's fur. I have about a 5-foot stack of dead cockleburs to burn in my yard right now.

That said, I'd better get to work. Now.

Monday, July 18, 2011

In honor of my dad

Thinking a lot about reading. How what we read affects us. Affects how we think. Affects how we view the world.
I just realized that all my main characters in the books I write are readers. Maybe that's because I don't really understand the inner workings of people who don't read. Maybe it's because I best understand people who do read.

At any rate, Grant--the protagonist--in the novel I'm working on now, is an avid reader. He's also a baseball player who wants to make it to the big leagues. When I started working on this story, he wasn't such a reader. He was too "active" to want to read.

Then I sat talking with my Aunt Ruby--my dad's sister--who told me that my dad, Orland Fjelland--always had his "nose in a book" when he was growing up--that he read constantly. I knew my dad loved to read, but I'd never thought about him as a reading kid. I'd heard stories about using barrel staves as skis, sledding the hills in the timber in winter, swimming in the creek, riding bucking horses, riding the draft horses home from the fields, about sneaking away as a young man to ride in the rodeo...but I never thought about him as a voracious reader.

So in tribute to my dad, my character is now a voracious reader. And it's been fun to figure out which books he would be reading in the mid-1930s.

Just wish my dad were still around. I think he might like this book. At least, I sure hope so. I guess I have my "ideal reader" for this one.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Ulm Public Library July 15

Tomorrow, July 15! New Ulm, here we come!

Sadie, Allie, Joe, and I (well, they're alive and well on the pages of Chasing AllieCat, so they're certainly coming with me) will be at the New Ulm Public Library on July 15.

At 3 p.m., I'm meeting the teen reading group.

Public reading and book signing 5:15-6:15.
Everybody's welcome.

Books available for purchase, of course.
And, um, bicycles are welcome, too, of course!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Riding, writing

Yesterday, my friend's dog peed on my living room carpet--quite out of character, but enough to push me over the edge: YES, I need to rip up the carpet NOW, and have a nice wooden floor--or at least a clean wooden floor--with rug(s) before Alec comes to visit and crawl around on it.

So, in the next days: I need to mow (before the next rains come), finish second and third drafts of Slider's Son (the pen and paper version is second, translated into computer for third), rip up carpet (doesn't that sound fun?), do a reading/signing at the New Ulm Public Library (5:15 Friday the 15th if you're interested and that will be fun), ride every day (finally feeling almost like my old self on the bike--why does it take half the summer!?), and watch the Tour (cause I'm addicted). Good news: I can watch the Tour and rip up carpet at the same time!

Oh, I have been riding in the mornings or mid-day most of the summer. Yesterday, I stole a 20-mile ride right before dusk, and saw two deer (in my path on the downhill--had to brake to avoid them) and a raccoon (on my path on an uphill so he saw me in plenty of time). Might need to ride later in the day more often to check the wildlife! Not sure if the raccoon's extra time to get out of the way was an indication of his speed or mine uphill. Ha.

Oh, and my man Voeckler is still riding in the yellow jersey today. Haven't seen the results today yet.

Back to work.

Monday, July 11, 2011

More summer stuff

When I planted "Mini Bell" peppers, I wasn't expecting this! Barely bite-size, but sweet and good. The hot banana peppers have heat this year. Eight varieties of peppers are growing and blooming and starting to produce. Tomatoes are blooming to beat the band; onions and garlic are prolific; cilantro exploding....hopefully that means a giant batch of salsa and then pepper jelly later this summer.

Yesterday--I bought worms. Meal worms. Never in my wildest dreams thought I would purchase worms. But the bluebird babies are growing and bluebirds supposedly love meal worms. So I put some out. Opened the box, and jumped. Had to put on latex gloves to touch them. Couldn't bring myself to pick one up with bare fingers.

For now: I HAVE to stay in and edit like a S.O.B. all week. And try to resist the pull of being outside more than in.

I also have to sneak peeks at the Tour de France. Thomas Voeckler is in Yellow now and on my TDF fantasy team. Whooee!

I also have to ride. And get the rest of the matts out of Freya's fur.
Better get crackin'. Over and out.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saturday, July 9

Some happinesses of July: sunshine, long bike rides, ripe raspberries, and blooming hollyhocks.

Today was supposed to be our annual canoe trip down the Blue Earth River, but due to 1. thunderstorm warnings and 2. Tom being on call 24-7 because of the state shut-down, we're not going. Postponed until August sometime. Much of the Compound population is still going, though.

Got the galleys for Girl Meets Boy. I'm proud of my story in there, "Mars at Night," and happy to be included in that anthology! Pub date: January 2012. Now I have to sell something more so I have something coming out in 2013. I finished the first draft of Slider's Son. Editing, editing, editing. I wish I could just write a story right the first or second time.

So shut up, quit blogging, and edit. Okay.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Balance and living in the moment

Yesterday was a strange mixture of joy and trauma.

Got up and volunteered at the North Mankato Triathlon with my friend Barb. We had fun, cheered on the cyclists (many of them good friends) from our appointed spot on Judson Bottom Road, and then I went to the finish and saw lots more friends I hadn't even recognized as they zipped past us in their aero tucks.

It made me miss running, but made me glad that I can ride hard and sometimes fast.

Wrote for awhile, and then mowed and trimmed and weed-ate and had an idea for one of my characters, so I sat down at the kitchen table and wrote some more.

I was putting everything away, all cleaned up, and when I pulled the garage door shut, a big piece of the door fell off (the door is old and has been falling apart since I bought the place), and one big window came crashing out, and splintered into a million pieces on the cement. There I stood, surrounded by glass.

Here's where balance comes in: I can be disgruntled by the broken door (which I am), I can be frustrated by the mess of broken glass (which I am), because I'm tired from all the mowing and trimming, or I can be happy that the glass shooting out of the door in a sheet didn't hit me in the jugular or the shin or even a toe. I can be glad one pane of glass is still hanging there, to be removed without shattering. I can be glad Freya was up by the deck, watching. I can be highly irritated that the slivers of glass even bounced into her wading pool (because they did) and that I need to clean about 32 square feet of glass shards (which I do) or I can be grateful that Freya is pooped, too, and is showing no interest in trying to get into her wading pool at this moment (which she could be doing). I can also be irritated that now I can't close what's left of the door (which I am), or I can assess it (which I do) and climb up to figure out a way to get it to stay in its tracks so I can shut enough to keep most animals out over night (which I do and which takes some careful figuring and a big of hammering and longer than I had anticipated but it works).

Here's the balance: it's easy to fly off the handle (which I do often enough), but when I'm all alone at my own home and some small disaster like this happens, I know I have reliable Tom whom I can call, who can fix anything. OR I can look at the problem and figure out my own solution. After all, it was my own choice to buy an old farm place and live here alone with my dog. I'm not stupid. I can figure stuff out if I don't get too frustrated and just take time to look at how things work. And it feels good in the long run to feel somewhat or mostly self-reliant.

I closed the garage door, and when I turned around, fireflies filled the corn field. It seemed as if they turned their lights on while I was messing with the garage door, as if to say, see, even in the disasters, there's beauty when you look for it. Now, a garage door drama is not much of a disaster. It's small in the scope of the world's pain. SMALL. But when stuff like that happens, it's our world. It's what we're doing at the moment and it feels big. It's good to remember that it's not.

So as I tried to snap a picture of the sunset (and this is what I got), I thought about how the key is always to do what you're doing, even when it's an interruption, and not always what you want to be doing--it's what is right in front of you at this moment, and if you focus on that task, you live in the present, and that's what makes life a good place to live.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Great ride yesterday--"University of Okoboji Cycling Classic." Rode the 50-mile route around the lakes, and after the jammed-10-mile-an-hour start on a clogged bike trail, we broke into the open and flew along the roads and trails--gently rolling hills and curves. It rained for awhile, but still, the route was beautiful.

Then this morning, I volunteered for the North Mankato Triathlon. That's a great, well-organized event. Several of my friends had a great race--and everybody seemed to have fun. YAY!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Good week

Gearing up for some book events in July. New Ulm Public Library has a cool website. I'm there on July 15.

This is my birthday week, so on my birthday yesterday, I rode 55 miles -- Eeek. That's a mile for every year. Muddy, wet, rainy, windy, puddles, grit, but I did it.

Wrote all morning, then rode, then met my writing group for a birthday party/goodbye party for dear friend Jann who is moving to Fargo-Moorhead this weekend. Then Tom took me out. What a great birthday.

Now: back to writing.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Goofy Newfies.

So, this's raining and Freya went outside to do her business and came RIGHT back in before she finished. At least we know she's smart enough to come in out of the rain. When the rain let up, she ran way out into the cornfield to do it! Good dog! I was so proud of her...until I noticed her foot prints...uh, maybe this will accelerate my ripping up of the carpet in my house.

Yesterday, Gwen and Roger brought Buster Brown, their brown Newfy up to play with Freya. We had a blast. Dogs swam, retrieving things unto exhaustion. Here they are, shaking in tandem. There was quite a bit of slobber in the kitchen all at once.

Photos on blogger: I give up. I put them up in order; I rearrange them. The way they appear has nothing to do with how I posted them. It's not worth spending time rearranging. Back to working on my writing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Before and After

What else I did this summer. Josh and Emily bought a house, by definition--a fixer-upper. I helped last weekend, and one of the things we did was this room. See Closet door before and after, and the whole room before and after. Now that is a feeling of accomplishment.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tour de Suisse...once again, almost famous!

So I've been out of the loop for two days, helping Josh and Emily work on their house. Tonight, I checked on the Tour de Suisse, only to find out that Cancellera (one of my favorite riders) won the prologue in Lugano, Switzerland! We (students and Kurt and I) were in Lugano just a couple weeks ago. I took this photo from Lugano, looking across the bay--look! It's the same mountain in this photo of Cancellera's winning ride! But wait. Eek.

Blogger cuts off the photo; Cancellera's not even in the picture the way blogger crops it! So check it out here if you're interested. Here's a youtube of most of the ride--the crazy fast turns on a downhill ride. Scaryfast.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I'm not flaunting this, but I think I have a pretty good idea how it feels to ride a bike in a Sirocco.
I just got done with 43 miles in howling HOT wind. Went through five bottles and got blasted with gravel, dirt, and sun. Not sure why other than it's what I do. I'm not sure it was fun, but it feels good to have done it.

The funny thing: I rode 6 miles South in about 30 minutes, cranking with my head down AND cranking down the hills (max downhill speed: 23 mph).
Going West was a struggle not to blow off the road.
Turned North and barely had to pedal. When I pedaled hard, I went 3 miles in a little over 6 minutes.

Monday, June 6, 2011

June in bloom

I love Bridal Wreath because it reminds me of my mom and my grandma. We had bushes like these at home. I should trim them in the fall, but it feels like butchery to cut them back. This year, it'll be necessary, I guess.

And thoughts on YA lit

"Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness":
This discussion of darkness in YA Lit is worth reading.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Giro d'Italia

So, the entire time I was in Italy, I kept watching for signs of the Giro d'Italia. This was as close as I got. The Liquigas van passed us on the way to Milan. When we stopped for lunch, the Geox TMC vans were at the same truck-stop cafeteria. I got to meet the guys driving the van. We were in Milan two days before the final Giro stage ended there.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Home again, home again

Home from Italy, and I miss it. But today is my first "official" dayof summer, and I will get into a writing routine. First, a few Italy pictures.
My favorite places were Assisi and
Florence. Here's the castle in Assisi, then the arrow slots (about five inches across)--from which soldiers shot arrows to defend their city-state against intruders. Next, a cannonball of sorts is set in a window just big enough for it to pass through. Last pictures: and the passageway between fortress towers, and finally: how we looked in the passageway. I can't imagine running through there with a bow and arrow or spears, carrying only a little oil lamp. Stay tuned for more.