They always say they want pumpkin. I fall for it every year. On Thanksgiving, as I served pie, my sweet sister was the ONLY one who wanted pumpkin. I should have sent the rest of it with her because the rest of the weekend I was a Pumpkin Pie Pusher.

The cookie pie was the first to go. It was delicious. This proves once again that I’m not always right when it comes to pie or much else in life. The pecan and blueberry are gone, too, so all that remains is the pumpkin. I ate a piece for breakfast. It was okay.

The kids went out for dinner on Friday. My partner and I put on our PJ’s and ate a pepperoni pizza. You can only push leftovers so many times before there’s a revolt. I saw the pained expressions when I offered up turkey and stuffing (and pumpkin pie) for meals. I happily ate turkey sandwiches while the others turned up their noses and stared longingly into the fridge hoping for, oh, I don’t know…maybe a Thanksgiving miracle? Someone should really produce a turkey the size of Cornish game hen. Single size turkeys would be just the ticket.

It’s hard to be the only person in the family who truly doesn’t care what she eats.

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. The kids, too. The house is quiet and the turkey carcass is boiling on the stove. If I’m smart, I will get a Christmas tree this week while the weather is still nice. If real trees are your thing and you’re smart, so will you.  I missed having a big one last year more than I thought I would. Our two birds will be home again for Christmas and while they say they don’t care about things like big Christmas trees now that they’re grown, I have a hunch that there are some leftover memories of Christmases past that I can still tease out of them if I hang just the right ornaments and the house smells like cardamom and sugar cookies when they arrive. Maybe, just maybe, they can forget for just a bit that they are Adulting. I understand it is harder than they thought it was going to be. Really? I had no idea.

And so, Christmas is on the list.

Well that, and eating the rest of the pumpkin pie, of course.


Making room

So… I have this system. I make lists. Lots of them. You should see my office. Index cards everywhere.

Today, I am in manic list-making mode. Any Mom who has started with a clean kitchen and frozen turkey the weekend before Thanksgiving knows that a bird with all the trimmings doesn’t just magically make it to the table. A turkey is a commitment. It moves in five days in advance. Before the bird shows up, the first thing Moms have to do is make room.

And so, in preparation for Big Bird’s arrival, I am wildly tossing half-empty containers of leftovers and rearranging shelves for the rest of the ingredients I need to make some Thanksgiving magic.

After that, I’m making room for one more chair in the living room so that the cousins can waddle in pain from the dining room and flop down after they have stuffed themselves silly. I am also making room in both adult kids’ bedroom closets for a few extra hangers knowing full well that they will probably go unused all weekend. The trail of belongings will not bother me nearly as much as it used to. Orderly empty nests are highly overrated.

I will expand my great-aunt’s round oak table and add all the leaves for another Thanksgiving around it with the people I love. There will be room for the ones who prefer white meat over dark and the ones who like instant mashed potatoes better than real ones. There will be wine for the wine drinkers and sparkling cider for the others.

And there will be pie. Wild blueberry, for sure. A cream pie of some sort, too. There will be pumpkin and pecan, and a request for something called a “Cookie Pie” from the Girl’s Significant Other whose taste in women may be better than his taste in pies. I’ll be sure to let you know.

All I know for sure is that Moms always make room. In fridges and closets. At the table, in our living rooms, and in our hearts.

Especially there.

Happy Pie Day!


“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”

-Willie Nelson

Three bald eagles hovering above a stand of spruce just west of Ball Club. I watched as the majestic birds swooped low to the ground before quickly changing course and gaining altitude like fighter jets. I remember a childhood when seeing even one bald eagle in the Chippewa was a rare treat. Now, they are everywhere. A little closer to Cass Lake, one fed on the carcass of a large, glassy-eyed doe sprawled on the side of road. The eagle kept to his meal without flinching as my car sped past.

Nineteen white tail deer in groups of two or three along a tree line between Lake George and the first entrance to Itasca State Park. That is the number I actually saw. I am wondering how many I missed. They looked unfazed as they pawed at dry tufts of grass, grazing in the November sun.

Eight huge, snow-white swans in a slough surrounded by fields full of corn stubble a few miles south. No skim of ice on the water yet so they will hang out a bit longer before making their way to wherever it is they will spend the winter. Can swans see their reflections, I wonder?

A cloud of geese near Detroit Lakes. Five wild turkeys wandering aimlessly as only wild turkeys can wander. Three rooster escapees with bright red combs who must have decided to take a chance and live a little on Highway 34.

Driving three hours between the woods and the prairie gets a little lonely sometimes.  I have made this trip more times than I can count  and know exactly how many miles it is between one highway and the next.  I know where it is safe to push the speed limit and where I am likely to get a ticket if my foot gets too heavy.  This time of year, I know that there are icy patches where the snow blows across the road from one field to the other  so I slow down and pay attention. I could practically make the trip with my eyes closed in May or even September.

But November trips are different.  November is the time for slowing down and counting things like blessings, certainly. Always blessings.

And in November, all the creatures, too.

So count, I do.


“You’d corner me in your conformity but even in dormancy i’m sleeping with enormity, stretching the belly of the earth & everything i was born to be.”
― Curtis Tyrone Jones

It will be dark by 4:30 this afternoon.  Yay.

There is supposed to be a logical reason for the time change. Personally, I have never heard one that actually made any sense to me. Where does that hour go during the months we curl inward like hedgehogs and put on another layer of clothes? Who decides when we get that hour of sunlight back?

My African violets seem to sense that it’s time to take a little snooze. This morning, when I gave them a drink, only one brave one was still showing off. Too soon, she will give up the ghost and spend her time wintering over with all her relations. The geranium in the dining room is still alive and when I brush past her, her pungent leaves remind me of warm, summer evenings.

The little Norfolk pine I had all but given up on last Spring seems to have a new lease on life after spending the summer outdoors in a planter with purple pansies for neighbors. She grew at least four inches and is putting out soft, light green, needles. My tiny tree will see another Christmas, after all. Thank goodness for evergreens in November.

I will celebrate my 58th birthday this week by counting my blessings. A really good man and the two spectacular people who call me Mom. A large, loving, slightly nuts, extended family that I hope to be able to discuss politics with again eventually. The dear, brave, beautiful friends who have always made me better than I would have been otherwise. Wool socks and down jackets and bifocals and strong coffee. The laugh lines around my eyes and two frown lines between them that my grandmother always warned me I’d get if I didn’t lighten up. The gray hair on my head that makes me appear to have lived long enough to know one or two things. All blessings.

And finally, a fat, sassy, little beagle who eats each meal and lives each day like it’s the last one she’s going to get. Who has the good sense to snuggle up to her humans when she’s cold and go to sleep when it’s dark.

A pup who pays no mind to time changes, wrinkles, or birthdays and just sees every day as a treat to be savored and embraced.