Category Archives: Minnesota Fiction

The Last Day of School

Yesterday was Alexa’s last day of school. It was a bittersweet day that Alexa both looked forward to and dreaded.

When Alexa’s Dad died 2 years ago she wrote and read a tribute at his funeral, a good-bye letter if you will. In her letter she said that she feared the big days ahead, like graduation and someday getting married. She said that the milestones in her life would be marked by his absence.

Alexa made it clear to me that she would not walk in a graduation ceremony afraid she’d be reduced to tears and throughout her last year of high school I wondered if she’d graduate at all. She struggled with chronic illness related immune deficiency and she grieved over lost health and a lost father. Her grades fell.

Her greif counselor told me not to push her and sometimes I didn’t, and sometimes I did. I knew if Alexa didn’t graduate that she was still an able, capable girl, even more important Alexa knows she’s an able capable girl. But I was afraid if she gave up on graduation that it would give her more of a reason to give up on life. Alexa and I discussed our terms, she agreed to follow through with earning the credit needed to graduate and only said, “just stay with me,” and so I did.

Finishing class yesterday reminded her that she couldn’t call her Dad to say, ” I did it Dad,” but she imagined what he might  have said and how proud of her he would have been.

After her online classes ended at noon we loaded into the car and left for the suburbs of Minneapolis. Nick had a new car to pick up and Alexa and I made plans to visit Cookie Strange at Great Clips in Champlin.

Cookie is one of my closest friends, daughter. I’ve known Cookie ever since she was born and her Mother named her Emily…which she later changed to Cookie. Cookie works magic on hair and I will follow her to the end of the earth because she makes my hair fabulous.

The last time I got my haircut I had it done locally, it is viewable in all of my online photos. The cut was alright but it wasn’t the kind of cut that you could blow dry and go and it didn’t fare well on windy days in the garden. I need hair that you can seriously mess up and I prefer an modern edge because age appropriate just sucks,  as always Cookie delivered.

When Alexa and I finished getting our hair cut we went to Totally Tan. As Alexa’s health has worsened her skin color has become very light but her hair is dark. During the summer she frequently hides in jeans feeling like her legs glow white. She also burns easily so I agreed to take her to a place that offers a full body spray tan.

After I paid for Alexa’s tan, Alexa looked at me and said…”Aren’t you going to go?” I hesitated, I have  to attend a birthday party and a wedding today…but thought I could use some color. After asking a pile of questions I decided to try it. The experience was absolutely dreadful, it so cold it almost took my breath away and I forgot to use the shower cap so I stepped out once again feeling like Bridget Jones.

On the drive home Alexa and I talked about her Dad, upcoming graduation parties, what to wear to the wedding and we started to turn a warm brown …maybe not so bad. By this morning I staggered to the kitchen for coffee on gingerbread colored legs and thought; definitely not bad.

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Filed under Books, Cooking, Education, Fiction Writing, General, health, Life, Minnesota, Minnesota Fiction, Politics

Minnesota Floods

A lot of things are making my city flood, the ...
Image via Wikipedia

I was listening to the local news today and they were talking about the flooding in the Red River Valley area.  I looked out the window watching the rain fall and considered volunteering to assist in their sand bagging effort.  As I contemplated my schedule and watched the rain from my home office I noticed that I could see the the river from where I was sitting.

I live on the corner of 1st and Elm Street. Elm Street runs along side of my house and is more the size of an alley than an actual road, I assume this is partially because there are no more than 2 houses actually on Elm Street.  It is this narrow road that separates my yard from the banks of the Platte River. I assume the reason the house is so close to the river bank is because the structure is about 107 years old. It’s been completely renovated from the floor up as well as added on to. Today, there are more rules and local ordinances regarding set backs from rivers and lakes, rules that didn’t exist when this house was originally built. Being able to see river water from the main floor of my house inspired one response from me.  I turned on my heels and headed for the basement where I found standing water at the base of the stairs.


The only upshot is that the basement flooring is ceramic tile because the house is so close to the river. Whoever put in the large squares of ceramic tile was also smart enough to put in a floor drain. Unfortunately, the drain was placed inexplicably on an incline which  renders it almost useless unless the water level gets significantly higher.

For the past 7 years I’ve operated an online bookstore called Madeline West. The basement level of my house is where my library is housed. The books listed for sales on my website weren’t effected because the water had not eeked into that section of the basement. What was damaged was the boxes of unappraised books nearest to the basement door.

Instead of volunteering to sand bag the Red River Valley, it seems my week is completely booked. It’s going to be a very long week of clean up and the rain is expected to continue on for remainder of the week.  It seems I need an emergency plan, the water levels on the river will without question rise.

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Filed under Fiction Writing, Life, Minnesota, Minnesota Fiction

The Spirit of Christmas during Lent

Cookie I like to bake right before the holiday’s. This year I invited family over on baking day, pulled out the ornaments and decorations and served cookies, hot cinnamon rolls and drinks as people came and went during the day .  It was loads of work but I enjoyed it so much that I’ll definitely do it again next year with a few changes.  I especially loved that so many people added ornaments to the tree and embellishments to the house and the cookies.

Unfortunately some of the cookies that came out of the oven broke and they lingered on the table undecorated until Rachel arrived. Rachel is my son Benjamin‘s housemate and girlfriend. As I pulled trays of cookies from the oven she visited with me and began mending the broken cookies, fusing their decapitated heads and disemboweled bodies with frosting. It was so Nightmare Before Christmas I was sorry I didn’t break more cookies in the process of baking finding them darkly entertaining and befitting to our holiday history.

For years we topped our tree with an angel. We were very poor the year I bought the angel tree topper, she was affordable but didn’t look very angelic…more evil and she never stood erect at the top of the tree, she leaned forward with her wings spread like she was hawking over us…leering.  Over time she became known among family members as our Archangel* and long after we could afford to replace her she maintained her place atop our Christmas tree fusing us together with memories of dark humor and harder times. Holiday cookies with stitches fit right in even if Rachel was too new to our family to fully realize it.

Throughout the holiday season the decorated cookies were stored in tins and eventually were pared down to a single plastic storage container where a single disemboweled cookie got stuck to the side of the container. I left him there because it made me laugh and even after the container was completely empty he went undisturbed out of fear he would break. On random occasions I’d talk to him and even ask his preferences as to the evenings dinner menu… he noted a marked preference for lamb.

Cookie is no longer stuck to the plastic container and has since taken up residences on my baker’s rack in the kitchen. Next Christmas I’ll bake a girl cookie named Ginger with Angelina Jolie’s lips, plastic surgery stitches and a bent for short, bald guys who smell like sweetened vanilla.

*In true biblical fashion the Archangel perished during a flood in 2004 …really.

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Filed under Cooking, Events, Fiction Writing, Food, Holiday, Humor, Life, Minnesota Fiction, United States

A Riding Vacuum Cleaner:)

Henry Hoover playing hide and seek
Image by itspaulkelly via Flickr

Today was a shopping day which included the purchase of a new vacuum cleaner. I procrastinate these kinds of purchases because I hate spending over 200.00 on an item that isn’t in anyway fun. For that kind of money I could buy an iPod Touch or one of those under the cupboard television sets with the screen that flips down; you know fun. I planned to purchase one last year but didn’t which meant that buying one this year was a must.

Since I wasn’t going to get anything remotely entertaining I picked a Hoover WindTunnel vacuum cleaner. This particular model was the small canister type that I could use on carpet or wood floors but the real clincher to the deal was that it looked like I could sit on it and scoot from room to room if I was so inclined. This made the Hoover WindTunnel the perfect choice  because the  purchase was both functional and fun (wink).

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Filed under Books, Events, Fiction Writing, General, health, Life, Minnesota Fiction, Politics, Royalton

Getting Back to My Book

I’ve gone back to working on my novel in the past few days. I haven’t put much time in because I have so many other things demanding my attention right now. In the past months it’s been difficult to pick it back up because I’ve been away from it for an extended period and when a worked on it last month the chapters I added changed the trajectory of my story.  I didn’t  nix the new direction but I did take time to consider the best strategy for reconnecting with fiction writing after  a long break.

Being very new to fiction writing I’m not only writing first novel but I’m discovering my process and learning what works for me. I don’t do outlines and I don’t write in any particular order. I have no doubt that choosing a less complex storyline for my first novel would have made my life easier but this is the story that commands my attention so it’s the story I’m determined to tell.

I’ve decided that after an extended break that I need re enter by picking the story up in places that are very familiar,  sections of the story that I know well in my head but haven’t written down, which was exactly what I did over the weekend.  I was able to reconnect with the story at a safe re-entry point and I plan to leave less certain areas alone for the time being.

Writing fiction feels like someone threw open the window of my soul. All fiction writing days are my best days even when I don’t produce my best writing. I like being in my book  as much as I like being in my life, I’m not sure that’s healthy but it’s true.


Filed under Fiction Writing, Minnesota Fiction, Writing

The Death of Stemware: Giving Saloon Nukie a Whole New Meaning

The New York Times Diners Journal reported on a new restaurant opening tomorrow called La Cave des Fondus. La Cave des Fondus is an American replication of the French restaurant Montmartre restaurant Le Refuge des Fondus an establishment where customers are served red and white wine in plastic baby bottles.

The Manhattan restaurant is owned by Jacques Ouari who told the New York Times, “I wanted to set up my place exactly like the one in Paris. It’s such a fun place. Everybody loves drinking beer and wine from baby bottles – even my father thought it was fun – and I think New Yorkers will like it too. I checked with the health department and as long as we put the bottles in the dishwasher they have no problem with it.”

Waitresses working for Hooters will without question feel the most pressure in light of the new trend, fearing the infantile digression will expand to increase the demand for breastfeeding. The Le Leche League has yet to comment on the increased use of plastic baby bottles but insiders expect that the group will issue a press release in the days to come capitalizing on the opportunity to reaffirm the health benefits of breast feeding.

While not yet known, a growing number of diners believe the type of nipple used by La Cave des Fondus will be a determining factor as to the ultimate success or failure of the new establishment. The Nuk, or as it is more commonly referred Nukie, is considered by many to be the best compliment to any alcoholic beverage.

***It should be noted that the Parisians establishment serves wine in baby bottles to avoid the French tax on wine served in glasses. While Parisians most likely appreciate this little tax dodge and go along with the slap-in-the-face humor, the activity may not hold the same charm with New Yorkers since the baby bottle will incur the same tax as an elegant piece of stemware.


Filed under Events, Food, Humor, Life, Minnesota Fiction, New York

Excerpt: The Eyes to See Grace

She was tempted to regret him but she didn’t, at least not yet. She arrived with no expectations so it only seemed right that she leave the same way. But for the time in between the day that they started and the day that they ended, that small unobtrusive dash that guarded the distance between their beginning and their end, time drew in a long deep breath then slowly exhaled until it breathed no more.


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Filed under Excerpt of the Day, Fiction Writing, Minnesota Fiction, Writing