a cautionary tale in 3 parts

part 1:

2 years ago i went to watch hannah after i saw craig being born (that in itself is a cautionary tale, but one for a different blog post. or a never happening blog post. anyway.) hannah was almost three and, being a three-year-old, was kind of a pain in the butt when it came to getting stuff done. to get her to do anything, i learned to threaten her with leaving without her. so we were together for an overnight and into the next day. 

part 2:

so, being a three-year-old, hannah took about five hours to get ready for bed. she changed (finally). she brushed her teeth (eventually). she crawled into bed and i read her book (i was quick at least). and i turned off the light and went to go watch a movie – inside out (poor bing bong!!!). hannah came out not long after. she needed a drink. ok, get a drink. back to bed. 15 minutes later – kate! kate! come here! what?? blanket needed adjusting. ok, fine. you need to sleep, ok? no more. bye. 10 minutes. kate! kate! kate! kate! kate! kate! kate! UUUGGHHH, WHAT. there’s something making noise. 

part 3:

noise? i took my chance. it was early december, after all. 

“you know what that noise is, hannah?” tiniest of head shakes. “that’s santa’s elves outside your window, watching you to make sure you’re good.” eyes widen. “so you’d better be on your best behavior. otherwise…NO PRESENTS.” silence and nodding nodding nodding. 

silent night.


silver bullets clinked against each other as mariah searched her pockets for a piece of peppermint. her throat was hurting after yesterday, a long day out in the cold prepping the deer for the trip. too much happened at this time of year. there was the annual light-bringing, then she needed to make sure the deer were ready for the trip. 

but first there was the first visit. 

sure, the man in red had his part under control, but the other, well…he was a different matter. he didn’t seem to think there was a line. red got the good; he got the bad. but he wanted both and someone needed to remind him every year. 

turns out that in addition to deer herder, mariah was deemed lead communicator at the pole. the elves were too busy, red was prepping, and the lady was too busy maintaining the massive database. thank gods they got that cook a while back; no one was eating, and red had an image to uphold.

sighing, mariah sucked on her peppermint, donned her snow gear, and headed out to talk to the other. he made her uncomfortable and was hard to get to, but he listened to her for some reason. 

whistling softly, she headed out into the woods toward where she thought he lived. he moved every year, but there were signs throughout the year – mostly dead plantlife and lack of songbirds – that let her know where he shacked up for the warmer months. (not that it got that much warmer here, but the other liked it cold.)

it wasn’t long before she got to the upheaval in the earth where a small opening indicated a cave. he generally didn’t stray too far from the man in red. they worked together, despite what the other thought. 

she crouched down and looked at the small crevice that led into his lair, scrunching her nose. it smelled of dirt and rot. she dropped the small pack she brought onto the ground outside the entrance, pulled a flare from one of its outer pockets, and stuck it into the ground. she’d learned early on to set one so she could easily find her way out. she grabbed another flare and got on her belly to crawl inside cave. 

this one was tight for a few feet, then opened up so she could at least stand on her feet and crouch. then the descent began.

every year it was the same, and mariah began to dread the conversation she’d have to have. but the man in red counted on her, and so did thousands of the littles who were too good to be taken by the other. so she picked up her pace. the sooner she got there, the sooner she could leave. if only the other were as easy to deal with as vampire deer.

soon, too soon, the floor evened out and there was his door – a golden-handled, wooden monstrosity that had carvings of wood switches hashed over it. she had no idea how he transported these between his different dwellings. 

mariah knocked twice, once, three times, then grabbed the handle. it glowed briefly, warming her hand. she dropped her flare and pulled the door open. 

he sat low on the ground on a wooden stump, his cloven and human feet stretched out, a small fire in the middle of the room. he never talked, just stared at her with his tongue hanging out, glistening. 

she found that if she walked with confidence and got her part over with, he generally didn’t object.

“you know why i’m here. tonight is the night, and the man in red has sent me to make sure you’re on the same page.” she wished she had another peppermint. her throat was still hoarse.

“tonight you and he will go visit the littles. he’s got the really good ones, the somewhat good ones, and the okay ones. you get the bad ones. and you know which ones they are; you should’ve gotten a list from the lady the other day.” how the lady sent this list, mariah didn’t know. she was just glad she didn’t have to haul that with her during her visit. 

“the man wants to remind you, again, that you just. get. the. bad. ones. no others.” mariah dug around in her pocket searching for a peppermint. the other still stared at her. his cloven foot jiggled slightly but that was the only movement from him. “and you can use your switches, put them in your bag, and hang them from the tall tree, but you CANNOT eat them. we’ve been over this.” he used to eat the bad ones on the solstice, but the committee had put a stop to that when they realized that it was interfering with the ritual. 

“then the next morning, you let them go. that should scare them. any repeat offenders, you can hold two nights.” ah! she found her peppermint. she popped it into her mouth. sweet relief. 

“do we have an understanding?”

the other stared, blinked slowly, and then nodded once. mariah nodded. 

“then we’ll see you tonight. sundown sharp – the man in red will be ready. and don’t forget your list.” 

the other nodded again. then again and again, much too quickly for a beast like him to be able to do, and mariah stepped back in alarm. she had never seen this before. she glanced behind her for the door, then back toward the fire, and he was right in front of her. she could smell his rotted breath, see the strands of fur on his face, the saliva on his tongue. she scrunched her nose and did the only thing she could think of – she spat her peppermint out of her mouth directly onto his slimy tongue. 

he screamed and jumped back. his tongue seemed to be smoking. mariah widened her eyes, then took her chance. she leaped backward to the door, got out, and slammed the door shut. her flare was still there, so she grabbed it and ran. she didn’t think he would follow. 

the trip out seemed much quicker, and she breathed a sigh of relief when she saw the matching flare sparking at the narrow exit. she crawled out of the cave and stood up, brushing dirt and leaves off before putting her pack on and heading back to the pole. she took the knife from her boot and held it, just in case. 

this would need to be reported to the man. and she needed to add peppermints to her list of essentials. 


and prior

alt cake

i made a carrot cake today with almond flour, craisins, and almonds. turned out decent! i think i would put a tad more sugar in it next time. i also made a half batch so it was just one 9″ pan of cake.



hello december

whew. made it through kablpomo.

after every kablpomo, i’m all fired up to do a ton of blogging. OF COURSE i’ll blog every day. OF COURSE it will be great content. OF COURSE….i fall off the bandwagon and it just gets lost. 

i don’t know what to do about this. 

(i think if i got paid to do this, i probably would blog more.)

but i digress!! december is upon us. somehow, june has flittered away and the year is at its end. i’m not sure how that happened. i’m seriously still stuck in a june mindset. maybe i want it to be sprummer all year long. 

this weekend i pack up the autumnal decor and sit in a plain house for a week before the christmas explosion happens. no worries; it will be here way before i’m ready for it. 

in other news, i’m celebrating 12 years of marriage on sunday. WHO KNEW. XD

throwback thursday: winter

it’s almost december, and the air is still fall. climate change is pushing back the cold a little bit at a time, and it feels as though the winters of my youth were colder, snowier, but that just may be my hippie bias talking. 

thanksgivings in austin were always snowy, it seemed. after eating thanksgiving dinner at my aunt and uncle’s, we would go out on the snowmobile with our cousins, taking large drifts in the pasture, getting stuck in them and fidgeting as we stood by while bill wrestled with the polaris to get it out of the drift. 

i remember one christmas where there was no snow. we lined our long gravel driveway with luminaries christmas eve, and it was easy to set the paper bags on the snowless ground and light the candles. now it seems that every other christmas is set in a brown backdrop. 

there were howling winds on the farm. during the years my dad and uncle squire sold fish, it wasn’t uncommon for my dad to keep some in the old van during the winter months. one afternoon when school was closed because of snow, my dad asked me to go to the van for a box of shrimp. i don’t remember putting up a fight or not putting up a fight; all i remember is heading into the small, weightless dry snow that was falling horizontally because the wind was so strong. it was hard to see and the snowflakes bit at my skin.

when enough snow fell to warrant a plow, my cousin or uncle a mile up the road would come with the bucket tractor. our driveway wasn’t horrendously long, but it was longer than the average driveway. whoever came with the tractor would take the snow and pile it into a large hill next to the pumphouse. it was a great sledding hill.

a few times during the winter, my siblings and i would trek down to the creek to try ice skating. we had some old pairs of skates that our aunt colette procured for us, and while they weren’t in great shape, they did the trick. there was a small pool that the creek gathered in underneath a large oak tree before it meandered on its way to slide into dobbins creek and eventually dam up into east side lake before tributarying into the cedar river. (i just checked google maps to see how that all worked out, and our creek is nameless.) if we were lucky, the creek would be free of snow, and the ice would be fairly smooth, with the occasional bump or tree root sticking out. if it wasn’t prime skating conditions, we would walk along the frozen water, maybe stand under the bridge of old highway 16 and pretend we were trolls.

during the halloween blizzard of 1991, austin mn got 3″ of ice. our house had no electricity for four days. of course, time of distress always mean my dad has to take a drive into town (this happened again during the school closings for 1994 and 1995 – instead of staying inside, we drove into willmar to go shopping). the day after the blizzard, i woke up to see the cedar trees in the yard split down the middle due to the weight of the ice. after breakfast, my dad said he was driving into town to see what was up. i went with him. there were tree branches down all over the place, and i bet we didn’t drive above 30 mph. (could’ve been the most cautious he’s ever driven.)

during my entire time at st. ben’s, we didn’t have one snow day. generally, if the busses can’t run between csb and sju, they close for the day. from 1997-2001, we didn’t have severe enough snow to warrant a closure. the next year, of course, there was a snow day. 

there was a small pine tree that my dad planted next to our back door (which led into the back back room. it made sense if you lived there). every christmas, he would wind a set of big christmas lights, the c9s, around the little tree. the snow would rest on the tree just the right way and the lights would glow under the snow.


word wednesday: nostalgia

we all feel nostalgic from time to time, remembering events past or traditions or things that happened when we were younger. the halcyon days. days we remember fondly and look at through our rose colored glasses.

the word itself has greek origins (surprise surprise). it comes from the greek nostos, meaning homecoming, and algia, or pain. it was coined in the late 1600s from a translation of the german word heimweh for homesickness by johannes hofer. he was describing the depression he witnessed in swiss mercenaries who were longing to get home after service abroad. so there was always some pain involved in nostalgia.

which, when you think about, is probably true in the modern definition. it might not be as acute as the swiss were feeling, but there is always a sense of sadness when we think about the good old days. nostalgia really is a two-edged sword, combining the happy days and the knowledge that they’re in the past and not coming back.


review tuesday: YOGA

i understand if you’re not a bendy person that you might think yoga’s not for you. what’s the point, you think? why bother if i can’t even get close to touching my toes? 

after doing yoga regularly for about four years, i’ll tell you what i’ve learned: it’s not about getting into the pose; it’s about the stretch. and you know what else yoga’s about? the breathing. the breath is more important than one might think. 

but what i like the most about yoga? it requires a level of concentration that’s close to meditation; i am so focused on getting my body into the appropriate alignment and pose that my mind doesn’t wander to anything else. add in the deep, regular breathing, and for someone with anxiety, this is a great way to relax your mind while stretching your body.

(and while it’s NOT about getting into a pose, let me tell you – getting into a pose for the first time is exhilarating!)


let me tell you about what this post is really about. my review this tuesday is about fightmaster yoga. when i first started tooling around youtube looking for a great yoga channel, i was looking for something that wasn’t too peppy, relaxing to watch, while still doing various types of yoga. when i needed slow yoga, i’d like that. when i want some vinyasa flow (this is most of the time), there’s that. i also wanted someone who was a little more real and had a soothing voice. after previewing a few channels, i found fightmaster yoga (that links to her youtube channel) and have been with her ever since.

i am so happy about having her as my virtual yoga master that i subscribed to her patreon and donated to her. i’m thinking of signing up for her align course, which you do via video chat to make sure you’re doing your poses correctly. 


i’m doing this review because starting in january, she’s doing another 30 days of yoga for the new year. it’s a great way to try to get yoga in every day. it’s a perfect time to get your yoga on!

meme monday: DYK

did you know….meme was actually coined by richard dawkins in a 1970s book he wrote? i think it had to do with genes evolving and propagating.

anyway, i had nothing on my schedule for today! so i guess today is meme monday and word wednesday!


on the five-year plan

let’s a take a moment to talk about the five-year plan. in taking on the “someday sunday” blog theme, i’ve been talking about things that i would like to do in the future. in all the SS posts, though, i don’t have a plan to do it. that’s because i’m not a fan of the five-year plan, or 10-year plan, or any year plan, quite frankly.

while i am a huge planner for concrete items, those concrete items for me are elusive, hard to nail down. i’ve noticed this theme even at work: i am NOT the big picture person; once that big picture’s come into focus, i am the details person.

so while i would like to go to machu picchu someday, greece someday, get chickens and bees someday, that someday is not in focus. 


i think life would be a little boring if we all stuck to a five-year plan. and it really allows for no upheaval or spontaneity. with a five-year plan, i probably would not have moved to rochester. i probably would not have my job now because the job experience i had in roch wouldn’t have been experienced. 

a five-year plan holds you fast to a certain set of experiences, and without the sense of “anything could happen,” time skips along at a terrifyingly fast pace. routine lulls us into a sense of complacency about time. 

now, i understand that if a person is satisfied with her current set of circumstances, a five-year plan isn’t really in someone’s cards. i feel like that’s where i’m currently at. i like my house, i like my job, i like my life. but if something comes up? i’m not going to pass up the opportunity to at least weigh the pros and cons, consider for a moment what might be, maybe shake things up if that’s what the stars say to do. 

because i’ll sweat the details. but i’m not going to say no to what the future might have in store – my plans are all about the minutiae after the big picture’s been sorted out.  

anything might happen. that’s what life is.