What I've Been Into - Autumn 2015

Dear everyone,

It is early December, and after a memorably beautiful and mild autumn where the leaves all but blazed out our windows, we had our first snow storm of the season early this week. The subsequent stretch of 40' days, though, turned the white quickly to water. Which is kind of how this season has felt for me. Things happen. And then all evidence of them is gone. And you wonder if you just blinked or were instead in some kind of truly beautiful but exhausting dream.

My husband and I talk a lot about the pace of our lives, whether it's healthy, how we could slow down, what we might take out. It's hard because we could make different choices: live in a smaller house, live in a smaller town, have one of us--me, probably--stay home to tend the home and this darling small child we've welcomed into this busy world. But we've come to love our house. And we like where we live. And my job, though it is incredibly demanding, fills me up and up and up (everyday, these teenagers, my stupid jokes, their eye-light, our discoveries apart and together). So: there are cobwebs in my corners, people. And I do not make fancy meals. And our Christmas decorations are meager indeed. 

But it is something to move my fingers over the smooth skin of my son. To hold his hand as we walk through the quickly melting snow. To see the way his eyes skip over anything as inconsequential as dust and instead alight on paw prints, on eye color, on a sunrise he has learned to call beautiful. And it is something to work a long week, and at the end of it, come home with a bag full of essays to grade, and yet not want for one second to quit. And it is something to watch my husband splitting wood, trying, as we all are, to make space for that which keeps us warm. 

  1.  A History of Love by Nicole Krauss -- WWII and NYC. The past and the present. Letters. Books. Words. Lovely. That ending.
  2.  All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr -- WWII. France and Germany. A young blind girl and a young Nazi boy obsessed with radios. Stairs. Shells. A possibly cursed jewel. Short chapters. Long book. Worth it.
  3. The Scarlet Letter, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time, Oedipus the King -- All curriculum rereads.
TV & Movies:
  1. The Office -- I know, I know, I know, this show came out a hundred years ago. But it just never looked or sounded that interesting to me, despite the accolades of many people I trust. But we finally started it at the very beginning of September. And, folks, we are almost through all the seasons. We have watched little else. These characters are not even characters to us at this point -- friends, all, especially Dwight.
  2. Exit Through the Gift Shop -- Fascinating documentary on street art. Why did we watch it? I can't remember for the life of me. But it did make me want to go out and think differently about graffiti. 

Finds & Arrow Signs:
  1. The Sheridan Story -- Incredible organization my students and I volunteer at on Wednesday mornings. They are all about eliminating food shortage for kids who go home on the weekends to empty cupboards. Look them up. Volunteer at a packing event. Donate if you can. So worth it.
  2. Minnetonka Orchards -- I still like Deardorff better, but I went to this orchard twice this autumn with my son and he loooooooooooooooooooved everything about it, especially the hayride.
  3. 105.7 The Vibe -- I listened to this classic hip-hop station for most of September, and felt all the sweetness of being eighteen again. But...there are only so many times you can hear those first notes of "Big Poppa" before you realize you are decidedly not eighteen. It's still fun to dance to while doing dishes, though.
  4. Children's books on CD (particularly "Gus & Me" and "Whopper Cake") -- Game-changer for long car rides. 
  5. Spinach Feta Bread at Great Harvest -- Yum.
  6. Adele's "Hello" -- Because obviously.

Happy holidays, near and far.


  1. I can't tell you what a great relief it is to see those curriculum re-reads. There is hope, after all. Not everyone has forgotten that we have a heritage. And your grasses are beautiful.

    Me? I just keep pushing the boundaries of my tiny world. My newest post, about Advent, sort of, includes Homer, the Odyssey, C.P. Cavafy and Durrell. One day, my blog will explode, and all my readers will disappear. Ah, well. I'm having a good time -- especially now that the sun is back, and the temperatures have cooled. We have autumn at last!

    1. Thanks for your note, Linda. We are still in autumn ourselves. Wondering if we'll get snow before Christmas? Wishing you loveliness in its many forms in the coming weeks!

  2. Emily:

    I enjoy watching you, watching your son, watching the world opening before his bright, alert and curious eyes. As you invest in your family and your students, and your supportive husband splits wood, you are all creating a fire that keeps the love burning. I have always loved your writing style. It's a gift to hear from you whenever you can find the time to post.

    "These are the days... that we'll remember..." Natalie Merchant?

    God bless you and your family. Have a blessed Christmas.

    ~ Richard

    1. Thank you, Richard! Merry Christmas to you, as well.

  3. Your son is so lucky to be growing up with parents who think about the quiet things in life, about the small lovely details that fill us with gratitude if we just pay attention. Thank you for another beautiful post and Merry Christmas!

    1. Remaining quiet and small is so very very hard, especially this time of year. I need reminders myself! Merry Christmas to you, also!

  4. Thanks, Emily, for some really pretty reading this afternoon. Enjoy all of your somethings this holiday season and always. They are beautiful.

    1. Thanks, SPT. I've been keeping up with your travels, too, although I haven't had much time to comment. I definitely envy your ability to hit the road. I'll get back there eventually, probably with a little boy beside me. Best!

  5. Life is so, so short. We hasten our lives for what? Usually not too much. You are wise to evaluate this. Tender moments, time with your son, happy days outdoors.................these are what is important in life. N'est pas? Liked your lists a lot!

    1. Thanks, Bill. 2015 already gone! Life is short, indeed. Best to you in the new year!


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