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Much has happened, like it does.

The rain has been epic. There are so many weeds. Our house is wearing a tutu made of flags. I went to Chicago and hung out. We went to Madison and hung out. Summer has arrived.

Rain.

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Oh my God, the rain. It has rained what seems to be incessantly, though it is not incessant in, say, the Pacific Northwest way. When it rains, it pours, the saying goes, and when it decides to rain in these parts, it does not mess around. Basements flood. Streets flood. If you leave your car window open an inch by accident, the entire interior of your car will flood (well, your neighbor’s car). Following these torrential downpours, the sun emerges and the temperature rises to about 85° and it “feels like” a swamp. Which brings me to…

Weeds.

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Jim and I have been surprisingly diligent about working in the garden when lack of rain and down time coincide. I still have a big round of beans to plant, and I’m disappointed in some seed germination rates (as in, zero germination for sunflowers. WTF?), but the food garden is mostly in maintenance mode now, which means the Big Bed (mostly flowers and herbs) needs weeding along with maintenance weeding in the food garden, and with the rain… it’s a ridiculous task. I loathe weeding, and some places have been neglected this summer, which means the crabgrass and mint and creeping charlie and bindweed are stubbornly squatting in those places. They are winning, for now, because the rain is on their side.

Flag tutu.

flags_juneIt’s World Cup season again, people. It’s the women’s turn this year and we loved last year’s flag décor so much, we decided to add more. They wrap, quite literally, halfway around our (small) house, making it, Cody remarked, “that” house. Which it kind of always has been.

Chicago.

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I decided the first weekend in June to drive up to CHGO to see Cody and to hit Reckless Records to hear writer/guitarist Jon Fine read from his new book, Your Band Sucks: What I Saw at Indie Rock’s Failed Revolution (But Can No Longer Hear). CHGO is only 2 hours north of here, a fairly straight shot up Highway 57, but it is a drive we rarely make these days, and it is even more rare that I make the drive alone. I’m a city driving lightweight; I haven’t made the trip more often because I’m intimidated. NO MORE. This time? I was like whatever and hopped into the car at 11:30 AM that Saturday morning and was parked in front of Cody’s dad’s place in Ukrainian Village by 2 PM after getting coffee and making a pit stop and dealing with road construction. [The most alarming thing about my drive up: The sheer number of deer carcasses, some in weird places. Like… what was a deer doing at the top of a bridge that close to the city? Anyway.] Cody got off work early, I met him in Wicker Park, we ate some food, got some coffee, went to Quimby’s, “ran into” Cody’s dad who just happened to be working in the area, marveled at all the Blackhawks jerseys (they were playing in Tampa that night), went to Reckless, listened to/watched Jon be interviewed by Rose Marshack, and then hung out in the park until just before 7 PM. It was critical that I get on the road by 7 PM because… deer carcasses, you know? I was home by 9. It felt so awesome to spend the better part of a day in one of the best cities in the world, a place I once lived and loved very much, even though the most difficult years of my life happened there. I did love coming home to a place where the stars are visible at night and one can hang 18 flags on one’s house without worrying about them – Urbana, where I’ve lived for 19 years and also love very much. But I’m glad CHGO isn’t that far away.

Madison.

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The B-Ks have reached the point where the youngest member of the household is old enough to be visiting colleges. While we live in a town that is home to a giant Big Ten university, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is about 4 hours from here and offers some stuff Lilly is interested in (many foreign languages, some topography, bodies of water, etc), so off we went, with plans to crash with Jim’s sister and her family. We crammed a lot in – a session on the honors program, beer and food at Union South while watching the USA vs Sweden, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Geology Museum, a trip to the Dane County Farmers Market (OMG), some shopping, a full campus tour, more beer and food at Memorial Union on the lake, etc. I spent some time in Madison in the summer of 1990 (there was a boy involved). It was nothing like I remember. I think Lilly liked it. One school down, several more to go this summer and fall. Note to self: Do not drone on about the way it used to be when we visit Macalester.

Summer.

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I was thinking the other day about how I really OBSERVED the progress of the seasons when the kids were younger. I not only watched, I marked. The summer solstice is both a high point for me and a low one (as Cody liked to cheerfully remind us, it’s all downhill from here), and back in the day we’d have parties and… observe. Since my return to full-time work 9 years ago (NINE?!), that’s gotten much harder for me to do. The solstice is Sunday, which is also Father’s Day, and I think we’ll observe with tacos on the grill and maybe having a few people over.

If it doesn’t rain.

Rogue

This year’s, um, “slow gardening” has revealed a bonus: finding young plants that germinated quite far from where their parent lived the year before. I usually let these rogues do their thing for the full season.

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Pictured: Sunflower with kale; breadseed poppy with golden beets; blackberry lily with … weeds. Not pictured: Dill with salad mix, tomatoes in the compost pile.

Months ago I posted a photo of a bunch of podcasting gear that I received for Christmas from Jim. I got everything out right away and RTFM’d and… that was it. I typically (and this is a terrible habit) generate scenarios that are way ahead of Step One: The Starting of the Thing. This scenario generation then has the unwanted (?) result of discouraging me from further action for a long time.

[In this case, a loooooong time. I admit it. I get flummoxed by the the potential for failure at things I desperately want to be good at and I have to ruminate and angst and hand-wring for awhile before I get off my ass and do something.]

Anyway, yesterday I was walking home from work when I realized I could have a lot of fun “failing” at creating a podcast. (Yes, LB-K, it’s OK to have fun.) I thought about the email my friend (and podcaster) Lindsey sent me earlier in the day with a link about podcasting (“You probably know all this stuff from your work at the station, but…” Uh, NO, I certainly do not, good god no, THANK YOU), and I also thought about the Pecha Kucha presentation I gave 4 years ago where I talked about how I started telling local food stories on the radio. I admitted to my ongoing adoration of and identification with Harriet the Spy, and I talked about my beloved tape recorder. I dragged that things around everywhere for a few years as a kid, interviewing everyone I could. I also occasionally recorded conversations where the participants were unaware. You know, like a spy.

There are things we discover we love doing later on, after we’ve done some living. Growing food and just appreciating food are two pastimes (it seems weird to call them that) I never gave much thought to until life events occurred that made me realize their importance in my personal narrative, and that others – many others – felt the same way (although usually for different reasons). I’ll always, ALWAYS, be interested in growing food and following food projects. And eating.

Then there are the things we’ve always loved, since we were kids, that sometimes lay dormant for years or surface in different ways. For me? Words. I’ve always been a talker. I’ve always been a writer. I’ve always loved people, even when paralyzed by shyness at being the new kid (again, and again, and again…). I’ve been talking with, listening to, and writing about people for other people since high school. I thought about being a journalist. My favorite and best teacher in 8th grade, Mr. Cramer (hi, Mr. Cramer) noticed my interest in people and news and encouraged it, telling me I could be a reporter on TV someday; I became a history major instead with a vague goal of becoming… something. Maybe a writer? Easier. Certainly vaguer.

I loved my work as a server in restaurants and bars during and after college because… talking. I’ve interviewed and corresponded with rock bands and culture critics. When I sold records for Cargo in the 90s, I relished the amount of time I spent on the phone talking about and selling the music I worshipped to people who shared my enthusiasm. A regular at the record store I used to work at in Chicago referred to me 20+ years ago as the wordy diva of the alt scene because I talked his ear off every time he came in. (Wordy Diva lives on, by the way.) My relationship to Harriet lived on in the notebooks I carried everywhere in my twenties. They were full of long letters written in bars, setting scenes, never sent. My relationship to my tape recorder (and its microphone) lived on in the radio shows I did at school and later on. It certainly lives on in the Backyard Industry audio and video.

Changing interests  + lifelong passion + nosiness + readily available equipment and outlet = what am I so scared of?

DOING WHATEVER I WANT?

GOING ROGUE?

Stay “tuned”. Tonight I plug everything in and… start talking.