What I've Been Into - Autumn 2016

Hello world,

What an autumn, huh? In Minnesota, the weather has been fantastically long and glorious. We didn't have our first frost until just before Thanksgiving. That meant a lot of time outside, and some grateful leniency with how long we had to rake up all those millions of yellow leaves. And also, there was the election in there, which threw everyone I knew for a loop, no matter which side of the political line they landed on. It's still something many of us are sifting through, and the mess has been hard to see around at times. But it all keeps moving forward, doesn't it? I'm holding as many people's hands as I can.

As we crest into the holiday season, however, I've decided to focus on how very much I have to be thankful for. Did you know that there's a lot of research on how practicing intentional gratitude on a daily basis actually has positive effects on one's health? It's no shock to me, but I like knowing there is science behind it. My family's biggest point of gratitude is, as I alluded to in my last post, the promise of a new child who is due to join us in April. Being parents is not easy, and my husband and I are nervous at how another wee one will complicate our already busy lives. But our son has brought us so much joy. We feel a sibling is one of the most lasting things we can give him, so -- April, darling. You will meet this new little companion in a few short months. We will keep working on being patient. :)

Hope each of you are doing well in your respective places. Let us remember that where there are words and a way to connect them with the hearts and minds of others, life never has to feel lonely. And that, indeed, is something for which to feel grateful. 

Merry (early) Christmas!

Books and Journals: 

  1. An American Childhood by Annie Dillard -- Although slow in places, the overall effect of this memoir was gorgeous and moving and take-up-your-banners-in-defense-of-place inspiring. The last section of the book? I felt like I was in the middle of some orchestral finale.  
  2. American Gods by Neil Gaiman -- A student left this book for me at the end of last year. I've heard great things about Gaiman's writing, and I used to teach a class on mythology, so I thought this one might be right up my alley. But -- ehh. I stopped half-way through. I think it was a little too male for my tastes.
  3. Love Warrior by Glennon Melton Doyle -- I encountered Doyle's Momastery blog when I was a new mother, and I've appreciated her authentic voice ever since. This was the first actual book of hers I read, and although much of the content was not surprising, I read it quickly and with feeling. We are all just doing the best we can.
  4. River Teeth, Autumn 2016 edition -- One of my essays came out in this literary magazine, and I then had the pleasure of reading the other fantastic work within the same edition. Great narratives -- about driving rigs down a remote Alaskan highway, about twin children who almost drowned (tears, people), and a fantastic and complex ender by Alex Lemon called "How Long Before You Go Dry" that I had to read in pieces and digest, digest, digest. Brava, River Teeth!
  5. Upstream by Mary Oliver -- A collection of essays written by a poet. Yes, please. The first essay "Upstream" is worth the cost of the entire book, although I also loved her musings on her relationship with other writers and thinkers like Whitman and Emerson.
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird, The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time, Oedipus the King, The Scarlet Letter, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and various essays and poems by Thoreau, Emerson, Douglas, & Dickinson -- all curriculum rereads.
TV and Movies:
  1. Bloodline, Season 1 -- We learned about this show from some "series you are probably overlooking on Netflix" lists, and we were not disappointed. There is strong acting in this family drama, and although we won't continue into the second season (it was becoming too much of a cop show for our current interests), we were glad we found the first. And I miss it now, like I often do when I finish a good book. 
  2. Black Mirror -- This had been dubbed a modern Twilight Zone. I can't comment on that, as I never saw TZ, but in any case, many of these episodes penetrated deep into my head and kept me thinking for days. Each one is its own mini-movie, so some episodes are definitely better (and others distinctly weirder) than others, but they provided great fodder for conversation between my husband and I after our boy was in bed.
  3. 13th -- A look at how the 13th amendment, which made it illegal to own slaves, in many ways led to the injustices existing in our current prison system. A stark, take-your-breath-away, infuriating documentary, but one I think everyone should watch.
  4. Mockingjay - Parts 1 and 2 -- Because it was finally time to know what my students were so upset about two years ago. :)
Find and Arrow Signs:
  1. "Don't Turn Away" in River Teeth, Autumn 2016 edition - In the ways of the internet, somebody has made a PDF thingie of the hard copy version of this recently published essay of mine. If you get a moment, I hope you check it out. It's short and weird, and easily one of my favorite things I've written lately. 
  2. "Spring Forward" in The Fourth River -- This is an old blog post revamped. Thank goodness for this little Landing on Cloudy Water space. Though I am barely here anymore, it still serves as a voice in the back of my head reminding me that I can write whatever I want whenever I feel the need.
  3. Healthy Kids Running Series -- Our son participated in the 50 yard dash in this running series at the beginning of the season, and he LOVED it. I wasn't sure about the six week commitment initially, but our guy was so excited for all of his races, and as expected based on all the running he does around our house and yard, he's pretty darn quick. :)
  4. This article from The Washington Post was fascinating: Minnesota as a top place to raise a family, yes, but also how "geography is destiny." 
  5. Soup. Always soup in the fall.


  1. April, the arrival of spring, is a lovely time to welcome your new little one. You will find that your heart overflows with love for this second child. Your days and evenings, and, yes, even nights, will bend with this new baby. In a good way. So happy for you.

    Intentional gratitude is a choice. Not always easy in the difficulties of life. But it makes a difference. I start each day by reading devotionals and Scripture and then praying. For me, it's the best way to focus on my thoughts on hope and joy.

    1. Yes, I'm pretty content with April. That when all the birds are having babies, anyway, so I might as well join them. :)

      I think your idea of starting each day with gratitude is a beautiful one. Imagine what our world would be like if everyone began with such a positive focus?

  2. Congratulations, Emily. (I didn't read your last post!) I'm excited for you and your family, especially your son. A sibling is truly a gift -- for all of you. I hope you are able to pace yourself at work with some brief but quiet moments. Enjoy your holidays, and I wish you a splendid new year!

    1. Thanks, Jacey! I am honestly a bit scared about how the whole back-to-work thing will go with two littles at home, as I know you can understand, but we'll all adjust in time. And yes, so happy for my boy to have a sibling. He's already been incredibly sweet about the whole thing, and I know I will love him even more for all the ways he will be a wonderful big brother.

      Happy Christmas and New Year to you and yours!

  3. One of my "go to" books is American Childhood. Reflects so much of my own child hood it simply amazes me.

    1. I loved it. Dillard is one of my favorites, every time.

  4. And a new baby? Wow, wow, wow! Such wonderful news!


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