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Pole Shift

Man, it’s been awhile.

Why? I started a new job in September that’s consuming a lot of my time. I’m still busy with the radio freelance work. Lilly’s in high school and has activities like soccer and homework and almost-14-years-old-ness, which I enjoy staying on top of. Cody’s in CHGO and I like keeping track of him and his exploits. Jim and I are so often like ships passing in the night – so much so that even an unsuccessful trip to the DMV is quality time.

So. I haven’t thought about blogging in ages, dear whatever few readers I have left. For me, the times and the media have changed. Remember 2002? I BLOGGED TO LIVE. So many of us did. I was also homeschooling a 10 YO and a 3-almost-4 YO, there was no Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or Tumblr or Instagram or whatever, I wasn’t working full-time, I wasn’t freelancing,  I was about to turn 34 instead of 44… so this is my way of telling you that, well, I won’t be posting here every three or four months anymore. This blog has run its course.

So – I’ll leave the blog up for now, but there will be no further posts. If you want to follow me somewhere on the internet, you can do so at Backyard Industry, the Tumblr I’m using for In My Backyard-related postings and musings.

Thanks, friends. See you here, there, and everywhere.



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My grandmother, Miranda v't E. Taken sometime in the late 40s, I'm guessing.


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Graffiti on back door of Parasol Records - Urbana, IL

It’s Leap Day. The extra day means I can’t say that March has come in like a lion, but… come on. It totally has. When I woke up at 6:15 and checked my phone for the weather, the weather app cheerfully told me it was a balmy 60 degrees. In Urbana, Illinois, not on my beloved Anna Maria Island, whose weather I also check every morning. There were terrible storms a few hours south of here early this morning (O, southern Illinois, you really deserve a break) and the wind has been ferocious all day. But we’ve had other Marches start off this way – people forget the weather has been “weird” for years now. Tornadoes in March, freezes in April, 30 degrees to 80 degrees in a matter of hours. Maybe even in the same year.

In my inbox today, I received an email informing me that someone wants to bring a class of youngsters over to my house sometime during the growing season to, you know, check out my backyard, given the radio segments. It’s really to just show kids a garden that actually feeds people to some degree in action, which is very exciting, but I immediately overthought it; my mind went instantly to the yard and the mess back there and all the work that needs to be done.  To say that I would be mortified if anyone other than my neighbors saw the garden right now would be an understatement. I feel some guilt because a) I was a terrible steward late last year and so I have a lot of work ahead of me and b) I’m not starting many seeds (our vacation, plus other bad timing = I’m buying tomato and other starts from my friends Cathe and Joan) . Oh, and c) I’m not doing any seed ordering. My inventory is massive. I think Jim would hurt himself rolling his eyes if I did a seed order this year.

This all feels very 2006. That was the spring I was about to start working full-time for the first time in 8 years and everything was in a bit of disarray. 6 years later, everything’s cool, but… in a bit of disarray. Which, I have learned, is how it is for everyone much of the time. And 2006 was a great year.

For those of you interested in the actual things I do on the radio (and I very much appreciate your interest), my hiatus officially ended on February 9 with the airing of the 2012 growing curve piece, and the mustard potluck piece aired February 23.  I’ll have a piece about making cheese in your home kitchen on March 8, and March 22 … well, I haven’t decided yet between the two topics, but either way it’s going to rule. IMBY pieces are always available on the web for people everywhere, but… locals? These segments are still airing Thursday afternoons during the ag programming, but they’re ALSO airing Friday mornings during Morning Edition on Illinois Public Media (AM 580) and maybe even on Saturdays sometimes. I had to quit being so damn wordy in order for that to happen, by the way. The response has been fantastic – maybe it really IS better when I talk less!

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Up relatively early for a Saturday, cup of coffee, experimenting with updating from an iPad. The birds sing relentlessly. Lilly has a soccer game later this morning. Yesterday we received some good news and then we received some not-so-good news that gave us mixed feelings about the actually-good news. Tomorrow is Easter, which means relatives, which is good, but is especially good because Cody will be home for a few days. We have much to discuss, he and I.

There is a fair amount of transcribing and writing to be done, and the seedlings are very sad, cooped up in their little starter pods. The house is a mess and deserves better than what we’ve given it, but time is fleeting. While I know it’s all been our own doing, I occasionally marvel at how we got from 2001 to 2011: from the kids being 2 and 8 to 12 and 18, from living at 1005 to living at 909, from focusing on music to focusing on food (me) and soccer (Jim), with plenty of music still, etc. At any rate, the last ten years have gone by so quickly, and it’s impossible to not feel like everything has changed around me while I haven’t (though a look in the mirror tells me this sin’t true, and I’ve changed in many other ways, too).

So – I’m coming up for air. And what I’m figuring out is that, on my own time at least, I want to be able to do things because I want to do them, not because someone else thinks I should do them or would be great at them.

The photo above was taken in Paris, France, by Cody. And a trip to Paris, France, is on the list.

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Sweet Dreams

Sleep was filled with cozy dreams, dreams without weird symbolism or world colliding, dreams that felt safe and sound and clean and organized.

I woke up with a stomachache and couldn’t find my slippers, but I’m determined to make the most of this day. Because, you know, why make the least of it?

I received two books yesterday from Drew, the UPS fellow: Farmer Jane by Temra Costa and the new book by Mark Winne, the title of which is long and a bit grating, but the content of which I’m sure is quite good. I’ve tasked myself with giving these books a quick read and selecting pieces for small group reading, since I have all this time. Actually, I don’t have time to NOT meet with this group. I hear Heidi Klum in my head, asking the question of all of us, including me,  who are busy with work, family, school, home and can’t seem to find time for hanging with like-ish minds, bouncing ideas off each other once a month: Are you in or… are you out? I’m not throwing down, though. I’m just going to read for review and send some things along and hopefully we’ll find time to get moving on a project or two.

Park District soccer took over our household for months. Practice, games, shepherding parents, firing up girls, planning practices, juggling assistant coach schedules, finding socks/shinguards/cleats/the right jersey, laundering, late-night viewing of practice drills on YouTube, etc. No, this wasn’t me – good god, no – but it was my husband (head coach) and daughter (forward).  The team is all girls, 5th-8th grade; the difference between a 5th grade girl and an 8th grade girl is astounding/kind of jarring, even without the eyeliner. I give Jim and his two assistant coaches (one a PhD candidate at U of I, the other a freshman) a lot of credit for striking the right balance of skillbuilding, discipline, and silliness/fun. They have a winning record and a lot of confidence and they all LIKE each other and say hi to each other in the halls at school. I kind of want to be on their team.

I feel like another weekend is about to get away from me. What is it, Wednesday? But it’s Halloween, with Lilly’s 12th (!?!?) birthday on Tuesday. The house needs some help (when doesn’t it?), and it’s just maintenance, it’s not even taking something new on. As I mentioned, I couldn’t find my slippers this morning (well, I found the right one, but the left one went missing) and everything is kind of a mess upstairs. I need a real desk, a tiny little corner somewhere in this occasionally annoying small house that is not the basement, at least not until we do something with the basement. I made a suggestion that was poorly-taken, but I still think it could work. I’m  talking small table with a file box on top here, not some behemoth piece of furniture that will invite piling of papers. I’m sure the family aesthete can help me brainstorm a way to make it look cool and unobtrusive and Swedishly attractive and efficient.

:: grumble ::

I need to get my hands on one of Lilly’s comic strips – they always improve my mood. Her characters are called Bulbles and they’re adorable and positive and are a serious window into the way she sees the world. If I can unearth the scanner (ha), I’ll post some here.

Open tabs? Not so much. Firefox kept crashing and I finally deleted all tabs in disgust and started over. I have a couple, I guess.

This place is on the list for CHGO: The Visiting Cody Sequel

This photo of Christy Turlington Burns made me a little sad. I don’t know why. Because she looks like one of Tom Wolfe’s social X-rays here? To me?

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That’s What I Get

Geeking out about this morning’s post-early-morning-thunderstorm-light + grabbing camera and heading out in pajamas + wet, muddy knees = cannot find the adapter that would allow me to get photos off the camera. I think it is actually at work, in a place I cannot get to. So, here are some randoms.

Me at work, some Saturday morning way before any of you were awake, except for the parents of babies out there.


Love this graphic.


Happy birthday, Uncle Sach.

Though I will be buying Girls to the Front for my own library, I snagged it from the library this evening and immediately began to read.

I am feeling IMMENSE feelings. I was never a Riot Grrrl. I was in my very early 20s when the whole thing gathered steam, but I saw the bands. I read the zines. I envied these young women their brand(s) of moxie. I said no when I could have said yes… and vice-versa. Can it really be twenty years on?

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photo by Cody Bralts

Once upon a time I wanted to live on a farm. I’m good with living in town now, especially my town, with its bevy of gardening folk and chickens-allowed philosophy, but occasionally I have that yearning for some space. And a farmhouse kitchen. With vintage Pyrex and utensils. The kitchen pictured above belongs to Cody’s dad, at his weekend house in east central Illinois. Weekend house! The house was a project and I believe it’s nearly done; I wonder what’s going to happen with the 8 acres it sits on. If I had time I’d offer my services, but… yeah. I don’t have time. Grateful to have a job that I pretty much dig the most, wish I had more time for the projects I’m constantly coming up with in my head. They’re all related. I’m working on tying them together with a  nice little bow.

Last night I emailed our local NPR/PBS affiliate‘s Director of Creative Content (what a seriously awesome title) about maybe getting this documentary shown on our local station, and voilà – it is done today, showing here on WILL-TV on Thursday, October 28, at 9:30 PM. It’s another thing I love about living here, the easy contact with people. It probably also doesn’t hurt that I’m an occasional correspondent for the radio station, but still. So. Is it showing anywhere near you?

Lilly caught a cold and is recovering, but my maternal paranoia is boundless after the Great Pneumonia Fiasco of 2010. Jim says I catapult out of bed, quite literally, if I hear her cough at night. This means I’m sleeping that mother sleep, that light sleep I slept for years while she was little. She is going to school and doing her thing, so I’m sure she’s fine, but my tired eye is watchful.

OK, how about some open tabs?

The Sartorialist finds farmers market fashion

I don’t like G. Paltrow that much, but this ensemble is quite lovely

Loving this photo blog

Fun illustrations about Parisian style here

Fun blog about clothes here

A long time ago someone turned me on to I Love Charts. And I do love them!

Adorable interview with those lovely young Swedish girl duo calling themselves First Aid Kit

I love everything about this ad, especially the VW bus. I kind of grew up in one. It was the 70s.

That’s it for today! Go out and do something awesome – that’s my plan.




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