Fall knocks

When the days begin to shorten at the end of August I start to panic. I try to grab onto everything around me—the warmth of the sun, the green of the leaves, the smoke of the grill, the length of the days. I gather as much as I can and and hold it tight to my chest, hoping to take it with me into the dark and cold that lie ahead.

Then fall knocks. I ignore it. But fall opens the door anyway, and a cold breeze comes in, and yellow leaves too, and suddenly there are soups and stews and sweatpants and even though it the sun is barely there, I am warm and full again.

The weekends are largely made up of soccer games, some in gorgeous 70 degree weather that makes me wish they would last all day, and some in rainy 50 degree weather that makes me wish the boys had chosen basketball instead, but which also create a certain comradery with friends and family braving the rain along with me. Dumping the rain off our umbrellas, stomping our feet, watching the sky to see what it might do next. Some days, I forget the game for the green of the field, rimmed with autumn trees and white barns. Instead I watch the clouds boil and roll above like paint blooming on paper.


In between chatting and cheering, my mind slips back to that pot of chili in the crockpot on my counter. The game ends. (Big cheer!)


The boys come home and strip off their muddy clothes in the garage, and soon there is the hum of the washing machine and the steamy sound of water running for showers. There is a warm evening cozying up to Kevin while we watch football, the boys drifting in and out until it’s time for chili, and then apple crisp, and then board games or movies or more football. We lean all the way into cozy, knowing that we earned it.

That’s what fall is to me.

Fall is pulling a pan of enchiladas out of the oven one night and scalloped potatoes the next. Fall is gingerbread, apple crisp, and peanut butter cookies. Fall is the feel of lying on a dock after a day of chasing waves. It is hectic mornings and evenings bumping up to peaceful days of reading and writing and watching the leaves change color outside my kitchen window. Fall is a time to gather the thoughts that feed my soul.

I wouldn’t trade a single day of fall for one of summer, in the same way I wouldn’t trade a day of summer for fall. They are two of the most perfect things in the world.

But February? February can go boil its head.

Butternut squash gnocchi with fried sage
Chicken noodle soup
Parmesan cauliflower
Gingerbread cake

Magical Mt. Baker

I’m going to reverse time a bit here and take you back to the weekend before school started. Beedleeboop, beedleeboop, beedleeboop, (that’s the sound of time going backwards)—

–and here we are, deep in the heart of the very fringes of the north Cascades…


…peeing out gigantic streams of Monster Energy Drink.

McStreamy’s family rented a little house for our families that was straight from a fairy tale, with lots of nooks for reading and sleeping in, checkered flannel bedspreads, and sloped ceilings to really clinch the cozy feel. There was more charm in the cabin than in the charm necklace I had in 1987. (Remember those?)


The boys instantly fell upon a box of baby toys that kept them happy for several hours.


After our porridge the next morning (we were careful not to leave any out, as Goldilocks seemed like a real possibility here), we set out for the river.


On the way, we met this little guy. He was probably a prince, but we’ll never know, as no one wanted to kiss him.


And, surprise! We’re here already, at the Mighty Nooksack!


Kevin had a way of saying “Nooksack” that made it sound like a dirty word, so let’s try to ignore him and enjoy its beauty for a bit.

That’s the way, Vincenzo!


Leo channeled the spirit of the river nymphs.


Rocco failed to not look awkward, despite my instructions on leg arrangement. (This is not what I instructed him to do.)


I don’t know where he gets it from.


I went to join Kevin and this happened.


That’s just the kind of magical weekend it was.





(Still working on the leg placement.)

Thank you for a memories, McStreamy, and for the photoshopping. Just to be clear, there was no photoshopping present in this post. I’m just saying it in general.

Apricot chickpea soup
Grilled cheese
Santa Claus melon, whatever that is
Nectarine blackberry cobbler a la mode

First Day 2021

The first day of school has come and gone and I have not yet gotten weepy. On the first day I was mostly cranky, the second happy, and the third also happy. As you can imagine, I am confused by and wary of all this happiness.


The first-day crankiness came from the sudden change in my interactions with the boys. Instead of nudging them into picking blackberries with me or making another batch of cookies then giving up and watching Teen Titans Go with them instead, our time is now intensified into 2 crazy hours of trying to instill urgency into them in the morning, followed by the after-school craziness of soccer practices, dinner, homework, and nagging them about all three of those.


The very day Leo was born, probably while the placenta was being born, I held him close and did the math: there would be a period of time in which my children go to three different schools. The nurse saw my face blanch and asked if I would like another cup of apple juice. Will it help? I asked. It’s juice, honey. Juice always helps.

Well, friends, the day has come. Three boys, three different schools. Three wake-ups and three send-offs, some of which involve complicated carpools and all of which involve kids accidentally taking each other’s lunches, not finding socks, remembering the 14 forms I was supposed to sign the night before, getting distracted by whatever book is laying on the ground, deciding they’re going to be a professional soccer player and wanting to run to school as part of their training, and showing up to the bus stop either 30 minutes early or 1 minute late. This has all happened, and school has only been in session for three days.

So I was cranky that first day.

At a grocery store I told the cashier it was my kids’ first day of school and she said, “It must be nice to have all that time to yourself.” The thing, I don’t feel I have more time for myself—I have the same amount of time, only now with restrictions, and also a lot picking up. Papers, lunchboxes, kids, backpacks. They all need picking up.


But since the first day, I have embraced the schedule. I’m still doing the same things I was in the summer (slash last year-and-a-half)—working out, rollerblading, blogging, writing, running, walking, gardening, cooking, scrapbooking, reading, blogging (!!), playing pinball—but now I’m doing more of it. Plus, I don’t feel guilty about ignoring the kids while I am doing all of it.*

It’s rather blissful.

Like I said, though, I am wary of the happiness. I have been lulled into complacency by the first week of school before, then the second week comes up and is all, SMACK! BLAM! Sucker! And I start crying.

But so far, I feel steady and calm. I have reasonable expectations of myself. I’m writing some, playing lots, and celebrating the successes in each day. I’m drinking my apple juice.

And I really feel like this year the back-to-school blues might not come.



Thai carrot and sweet potato soup
Chocolate pudding cake

*For the record, I always invite them to join me, but the only one they say yes to is pinball, and usually I’m playing it so they can’t right now.

The Un-fair

It’s the first day of school, but instead of writing a weepy, sentimental post I’m going to write about summer and deal with the weeping another day.

Today’s topic: the state fair.

Actually, this one might make me weepy after all. It wasn’t really a fair, it was more of an un-fair this year, as it was empty of displays, there were no “how to care for your cavie” posters with adorable misspellings, and we didn’t see a single person wearing a Razor Ramon shirt.*

You think I’m exaggerating?


Check out this best-in-show farm display.


And the prices! They were insane! My sister bought a hot dog and bottled water for $19. This fish cone and ice cream cost $13—and it wasn’t even real fish!


Normally the fair is like Summer Christmas for me—I wake up shouting, “It’s Fair Day!” I skip instead of walking all day, I hug everyone, and I go to sleep smiling because I got everything I wanted. This year it was more like Day After Summer Christmas. It felt like the curtain for the play had gone down, the actors had left, someone was sweeping the stage, and that’s when we all showed up. “Hiiiii!”

Of course, it wasn’t all bad. I still drank my purple cow. I still ate my scones. I still watched the kids blow $20 in twenty seconds on the games.


And at least there weren’t any toddlers to hog the kiddie tractors.


Plus, there was enough room to hula hoop.


I didn’t mind when Covid closed restaurants and the mall. I didn’t mind when Covid shut down schools for 18 months. I didn’t even mind when Covid canceled real Christmas. But the fair?

Now it’s getting personal.

Pita pizzas
Parmesan broccoli
Gingerbread cake

*Of course, that’s because Kevin didn’t come with us this year.