February 14, 2014 § 3 Comments

Hugs and kisses to you all.

May the world look a little brighter and your troubles be a little less complex today.

Saint Valentine’s Day is for you, for everyone worthy of love, regardless of your relationship status.

Blue hearts


Hearts and scraps

Saint Valentine’s Day in Ten Easy Steps

February 12, 2014 § 2 Comments

Valentine’s Day is nearly here. Regardless of how you feel about the holiday, February 14 reminds us any day is a good day to tell someone you love (spouse, significant other, parent, child, friend, etc.) how special they are to you.

This year, instead of loading up on trinkets and high-calorie foods, make something meaningful, like a homemade card. With everyone consumed with texts and emails and electronic media, it’s touching to receiving a tangible gift that someone created with their hands and heart.

These cards only take about 15-30 minutes to make, depending on how many hearts you want to include in your design. If you have scraps of paper around and some twine or ribbon, my guess is you won’t need to go out to buy any of the materials or tools.

Handmade garland cards

Handmade garland cards


  • Paper of different weights, textures, designs — be sure to have some solid colors you can write on — reds, whites, and pinks are perfect for Valentine’s Day, but any color will do (this is your artwork, so feel free to draw outside the figurative lines)
  • Ribbon or twine
  • Envelope (I prefer glassine, but any will do)


  • Scissors
  • Handheld paper hole punch
  • Colored pens or pencils


  • Step 1: Cut out different sizes of hearts using the method we all learned in elementary school — fold a piece of paper in half and cut half a heart freestyle (or if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, draw half a heart on a piece of cardboard, cut it out, and use it as a template to trace on your folded piece of paper).
  • Step 2: While the heart is folded, punch a hole near the fold and close to the top, near where the top of the fold begins.
Punch hole near top of fold

Punch hole near top of fold

  • Step 3: Unfold the hearts; arrange them in the preferred order that you’ll place them along the ribbon.
  • Step 4: Write messages on the solid hearts — To, From, Be Mine, I Love You, etc.
  • Step 5: Cut a long piece of ribbon, which you’ll use to string all your hearts; tie a knot at one end of the ribbon.
Tie knot at one end of the ribbon

Tie knot at one end of the ribbon

  • Step 6: Add the hearts individually until all are on the ribbon. Mismatched and uneven hearts and patterns lend charm to your art, so don’t worry about making it look perfect.
  • Step 7: Once all the hearts are added, tie a knot in the other end of the ribbon.
  • Step 8: Address a glassine envelope to the object of your affection.
  • Step 9: Gently gather the hearts and maneuver together to fit in the envelope.
To: Mom

To: Mom

  • Step 10: Seal and deliver.

May you have a lovely Saint Valentine’s Day!

Lit Imperfection

November 12, 2013 § 6 Comments

I’m lucky to live in a picturesque neighborhood. To my north is an avenue lined for miles with old, renovated Victorian homes and mansions, a favorite for runners and bikers. My street is filled with boutiques and restaurants. But it’s the quiet neighborhood to my immediate south that I enjoy the most.

The best part about this time of year is it’s dark immediately after work, perfect for wandering these tree-lined streets anonymously, zig-zagging my way from block to block. As I pass by each house, I glance over at the lit-up rooms and watch life unfolding inside — a couple preparing dinner together and talking about their days at work, a neighbor visiting, a child doing homework or practicing piano, a family eating dinner or watching television. Visions unavailable for most of the summer, when lights don’t come on until after 9 p.m.

A happy house under a happy moon

A happy house under a happy moon

And while I enjoy watching these scenes play out from house to house, I grow a tad melancholy as I’m reminded of what I don’t have. It’s not necessarily the big, beautiful house I want (although that would be nice). It’s what fills it — love, laughter, trust, stories — that I treasure. Someone to come home to and talk about my latest idea. Someone to make dinner for. Someone to make laugh after his rough day.

Many friends remind me that marriage is hard work, that I should be careful what I wish for. I certainly don’t have delusions that only perfection exists behind those lit picture windows. The couple cooking dinner together may have just returned from couple’s counseling. The child doing his homework may be struggling with a learning disability. Half the family sitting down to dinner may be livid with one another.

And I expect that. I don’t want perfect. I welcome the challenge to work on myself and help others through their struggles. But I also want the chance to experience all the good moments that come from building a life with someone.

I’m hopeful to find the right person who wants to have someone look inside our house and see me with him, possibly dancing, most likely laughing, and to have that interloper look forward to the day when he or she will have that too.

It’s the Little Things

August 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

At funerals, I listen for the notable phrase or description, stuffed somewhere in an hour’s worth of prayers, hymns, and bible verses, that embodies the deceased’s personality or the immense love felt for him or her.

In the last two days, I attended funerals for my friend Jason’s mother and for Pete, a hometown neighbor. This is what I’ll remember:

  • Jason’s sister read a letter from their mom’s friend who was unable to attend. The sister, a former actress, wonderfully captured the friend’s voice and their mother’s whimsical, sweet, and sometimes mischievous personality. I’m not quite sure how she was able to stay composed, only wavering a bit toward the end, but finishing with flair and poise. I didn’t applaud, but wanted to. Many — young and old, men and women — brushed away tears.
  • The church was packed for Pete, whom I’ve known since toddlerhood. She was friendly, extroverted, fun. One daughter aptly described her as the equivalent of a Walmart greeter at the apartment she moved to a few years ago. Another daughter said, “To Mom, no one was a stranger; they were just friends she hadn’t met yet.”

Small moments, yes. But they’ll stick. And that’s all we can hope for once we leave this magnificent, crazy world behind.


August 29, 2013 § 3 Comments

A lovely word, kismet. Six little letters in perfect order unveiling a cheerful cadence. When said, people light up. I light up. Comfort, commitment, wonderment, happiness weaved through its meaning.

* * *

I admittedly place too much weight on others’ perceptions of what I’m doing (or not) to find love. Many say I’ll find it when I’m not looking. At one time I took solace in these sweet reassurances and spent years not searching. Now I just nod at these sentiments and secretly flush them down the crapper.

Others insist I put myself out there more, go on dates with any warm body, wear more mascara and lipstick. While I agree I could do better, I find most people who give me this advice have been out of the dating pool since college or their early 20s. Newsflash: Our 40s are not one big frat party. It’s a backyard BBQ with kids screaming and couples nagging. Surreal and scary? Yes. Do I want that? Absolutely.

In my defense, I’ve tried online dating several times but put that adventure aside in the depths of winter after general disinterest in the men I met. I instead focused on doing what I love, putting myself in the often uncomfortable situation of attending events alone (gallery openings, book readings, running groups, etc.) just to meet like-minded people.

While I’ve enjoyed these excursions, nothing has led to love or even a crush. And I adore a good crush. A reason to curl my hair, take risks, and count the days until we meet again.

* * *

I’m feeling extra sensitive about my single status because in the last several days I’ve met people at work and social functions who’ve asked how many kids I have or what my children’s names are or who’ve said, “when you have kids…” Either they don’t realize my age or are just being kind, but having reached my mid-forties, motherhood just isn’t a realistic option. I suppose I could have had them years ago, but single parenthood was not something I had the energy or desire to tackle at the time.

And while I’m okay with being childless, I grow weary of my singleness. I keep hoping kismet in the form of a friendly, smart, witty man (preferably with a dog) collides with me on the sidewalk and sticks around for eternity.

Everyone tells me he will. I have my doubts some days. So I return to that word, kismet, to light up again.


Stock-photo man with his stock-photo dog — perfect


June 6, 2013 § 2 Comments


My boyfriend for the next three days.

As we were on our evening stroll, we came across this fine piece of sidewalk poetry: “A dog on a walk is like a person in love — you can’t tell them it’s the same old world.” Truer words…

If The Weather Channel Really Wanted to Make Mom Happy on Her Birthday, It Would Bring Back Heather Tesch

April 11, 2013 § 4 Comments

My sweet-as-pie mom turns another year older today.

Did I ever tell you that Mom knows the full names of every anchor/reporter on The Weather Channel and comments regularly on wardrobes and weights (“I think Jen might be pregnant”)? She worries when one is missing or bumped into a less desirable time slot (“I’m concerned they’ve replaced Heather Tesch with some young no-talent hipster”). And for the record, she does not enjoy waking up with Al, so let’s just cancel that monstrosity, shall we?

Her body rhythms are set to when the “Local on the 8s” and “Weekly Planner” segments air, and usually the remote is within her immediate reach so she can hit “Power” at the magic moment. However, she often gets engrossed in telling a story about her hair or why she swears she will never, ever watch “Dancing with the Stars” again. She’ll casually look at the clock, jump, and lament loudly how it’s 10:22 and two minutes of the “Weekly Planner” are lost to the cruel vagaries of time. Instead she’ll have to sit patiently for another hour to find out if it’s going to rain five days from now.

Mom’s despondent if she forgets to empty the rain gauge before the next downpour or sprinkle (either counts), and she drives Dad batty in autumn when the temperature dips below freezing and she drags him out of bed to help cover her multiple flower beds with old sheets and pillowcases.


Back in the days when Mom didn’t make Dad cover the flowers late at night — December 1972

Of course, Mom’s personality and interests stretch beyond weather. The reasons why I love her are plentiful. She became active in the women’s movement and did so in a community where it wasn’t fashionable or appreciated. Mom also earned a master of social work so she could help victims of domestic abuse. She’s made us proud. She also:

  • Relates a brief story the longest way possible.
  • Attends more rock concerts than her daughter (Aerosmith, Springsteen, The Stones, Tom Petty, Dylan, Paul Simon – I’m sure I’ve missed several).
  • Recognizes raw reporting skills bred from the upstart Duluth TV stations, proudly watching her favorite wet-behind-the-ears talents move up in the world (e.g., Sven Sundgaard, Edward Moody).
  • Knows the answer to every grammar question I toss at her.
  • Tends her beautiful, beloved gardens devotedly.
  • Takes care of me when I’m sick or downhearted.
  • Creates exceptional egg and potato dishes – potato salad, scalloped potatoes, egg salad, deviled eggs.
  • Worries about her family — if it’s heading toward midnight and I haven’t uploaded my daily blog post yet, she assumes the worst, calling or emailing to ensure I’m safe and okay. It’s good to be loved.

On top of that, she’s still the most beautiful woman in the world. I know she dislikes growing older. Yet she is so young in spirit that all my visions of her are full of light and silliness and laughter. For that, she deserves a lifetime of happiness and love.

And I love her dearly.


Christmas 2010

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