Regal feline


Home to roost


Together v 1.0




Dumpling gang


‘Twas the night before college




Championship match


Poster Children at Pygmalion






Kanken stash at Fjallraven, St. Paul






Studio space at Same Street Textiles & Scrap Yard


Fireplace upgrade at 909




Love is all around


Together v 2.0


My sentiments exactly (photo source unknown)


Currently: Knitting a rectangle and patiently waiting for this year to come to a close. I’ve got a list of possessions and behaviors to jettison, and others to reclaim.  I’m also wondering, as we hurtle into a new calendar year: What does complacency mean to you? Is it something to be aspired toward? Or challenged?


LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs, Saved Aggressively):

Wondering how Perry Possum would respond to such overtures

How huge is your mammoth? Mine is enormous. And loud

Buying this shirt, brb

Carrie Fisher’s unofficial doctoring made the ESB script better. Way better

Discovering Donella Meadows

Wish I’d thought of this name

Always reading the comments at Archdruid Report

Granola Shotgun providing inspiration for the coming year(s)

I keep coming back to Nance Klehm

My friend Lisa writes AMAZING stuff

The sun rises and sets on Urbana, IL

Mourning in America


Love and grief and pain and sadness and anger have dominated these last few days. The coming of Summer 2016 felt heavy even before this last weekend, but events both in Orlando and here at home, in lovely Urbana, IL, feel like the throwing of a gauntlet as the weather heats up and what is, in my opinion, a dangerous Presidential race gets underway. Communities (note: “community” can be defined in so many different ways) were completely leveled last weekend by overnight violence perpetrated by people wielding firearms and filled with… hate? Self-loathing? Grief? Will we ever know? Does it even matter?

To be 100% clear, I stand with Orlando, LGBTQ, and all affected communities worldwide, full stop. I am not into hate, “phobia” of any kind (including Islamophopbia), violence, and/or guns. My daughter eloquently offers her perspective here. Both of my kids are complete fucking badasses, beautiful and so intelligent and full of love – same as the people who died in Orlando the other night and who are dying all over the planet. That hate and violence still cut such a swath in the world in which my kids and Yours and Theirs are children/teenagers/young adults trying to make their way is boggling. What are we doing to each other, to ourselves?

As life would have it, Jim and I attended an amazing wedding and reception Saturday night. The entire evening truly reflected the bride & groom’s love, beliefs, styles, families (bio and chosen), and communities. I felt privileged to be there, to see such honest and heartfelt actualization articulated in this way. It was a beacon, a lighthouse. It was affirming.

Then we woke up Sunday morning to Orlando, and a couple of hours later, as I drove through my neighborhood and down a street I take either on foot or on wheels several times a day, I became aware that something terrible had happened overnight just a few blocks away from 909. I saw cars, and police, and – as I slowed down – yellow tape creating an unthinkable perimeter. I knew the intersection very well, and I knew the house where people were gathering very well, and I hoped that the yellow tape read CAUTION and that there was a tree in the middle of the street, perhaps a broken water main. Instead, the tape read CRIME SCENE, and the house in question somehow looked like a shell of what it had looked like just the day before, though nothing had changed in its structure. I stopped and asked a friend what had happened. It was grimly relayed that they did not know, but that it was bad, and as I went on my errand, I tried to convince myself that, perhaps, maybe… it wasn’t bad. I couldn’t keep going. I turned around and went home, avoiding the intersection and the house whose light had seemingly been utterly extinguished.

It was bad. A young man named Matt, the son of my late friend Mel, had been shot and killed overnight, a victim of domestic violence at the hands of his father. The details are still not yet completely known and I’m not sure I ever want to know them. This absolute tragedy resulted in the loss of a much-loved young man from his family (my heart especially aches for his awesome sister, DeDe), and has left a family and community to struggle with the uniquely awful aftermath, like so many other communities have done, do, and, apparently, will continue to do until we address the root causes of this violence. I ask again: What are we doing to each other, to ourselves?

Mel was strangely heavy on my mind in the days before Matt’s death, so in response I finally drafted a long-overdue post about Mel to eventually publish here. I’ll post it in its entirety another day, but here’s the last paragraph:

She spoke often of her children, and I always listened closely. She had mothered two creative, beautiful, singular children into adults, and I knew I could learn from her example, benefit from her wisdom. But I did not know all the details. If there was hardship, or sadness, or frustration, she never spoke of it – but as a mother, you know that nothing is perfect, that your journey with your children is yours; when she talked, I knew many things were left unsaid, and I acknowledged that, and so I joyed in it, the good and the not-as-good.

Yes, but. There is nothing to joy in anywhere in this story. There is nothing to joy in anywhere in Orlando’s story. Is there? I can’t see it, not right now. In the meantime, we do what we can to help, whether it’s offering moral support or financial support to DeDe, and moving forward with our lives while remembering those who are so suddenly gone by advocating, STRONGLY, for equality, understanding, and peace.

Seriously. What are we doing to each other, to ourselves?

On This Last Day of January

On this last day in January:

The youngest’s college applications are finished.

The eldest is home for the weekend.

We went thrifting.

The week’s grocery shopping is now complete.

We’re in the middle of laundry.

I haven’t read enough.

I didn’t get back to the library for the Les Blank set my friend Ian told me about, and I feel like it’s important.

It was 61°. And so we began.




Restoring Order

We’re just dealing with old snow here.


Dude. What a mess. The birds and other fauna like it, though.


So! I’m daydreaming about 2016’s garden and the seeds I want to order, like I do most Januarys.


[Perennial food not noted above: Blackberries, asparagus, apples.]

I’m considering this list of food to plant in my yard and, in some cases, start in my basement (which I haven’t done for 5 years). I’m having two thoughts.

The first is: This list is rather pedestrian.

Beans. Tomatoes. Peppers. Carrots. Part of that could be because I didn’t include any fancy variety names on the list (“Romano” [pole beans], “Solar Yellow ” [carrot], etc, although it could be argued that “Romanesco” is a fancy variety name. I mean, it is, but when I buy it, I never refer to it as broccoli. Only Romanesco. Anyway.), but this list is actually pretty, uh, garden variety

…which brings me to my second, related thought: This is the same garden I’ve grown for the last 15 years.

It’s the garden I grew for my kids when they were much younger and I just haven’t deviated much; I’ve been coaxing the same stuff out of the ground, year after year, long after it was necessary to encourage lots of fresh vegetable & fruit consumption or for them to understand how food grows. They’re 17 and 23 now. I think they get it.

Sudden third thought: It’s entirely likely that Jim and I will be the only permanent residents of 909 by September. 2016 will probably be the last year I grow a garden of this size, with this food, unless something happens and we have to grow more of our own food as opposed to supporting the indie farming scene to balance our own production.

I want more flowers, see. Big, weird flowers. I’m seeing flowers everywhere, even in the dead kale.



Note to self: Manufacturing epiphanies & forcing transformative experiences ≠ any real progress for you. The question is: Are you ready to receive such things when they visit?


LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs, Saved Aggressively):

My Macbook charger is on its last legs, after almost 4 years

Aforementioned Macbook is also almost 4 years old. Years? Mileage?

Ira Glass wants more new voices in public radio

The Cactus Blossoms’ new record made me catch my breath

How the media blew Flint

Great piece about the business of Girl Scout cookies

Some of David Bowie’s favorite records

I’d love to do this, but the price tag is rather steep


I want to give a shoutout to a few random things that happened during those final three moons of 2015.


The beautiful people at Blue Moon Farm sold me a buttload of tomatoes so we could taste summer once in awhile.



That’s me on the left, talking with badass Jessica Hopper during a panel we were both on at the Pygmalion Tech Festival (you can watch the entire discussion here). I can’t properly convey how hilarious and awesome this photo is to me on several levels…

…nope, I can’t. (photo by Mike Thomas)



Some friends of mine who shall remain nameless gussied up this statue (“Marker”, by Peter Fagan) at Meadowbrook Park – it gets cold out there. I like random acts of yarnbombing.



Lily and I roadtripped to Minneapolis-St. Paul again in October for more college visiting. We did the Airbnb thing (that’s my room in the photo), and I read most of Patti Smith’s latest memoir. I was inspired by her Polaroids from the book; actually, all of her work has taken on heightened meaning for me as my kids grow up and I move through middle age and am always asking myself THE most important question: WTF? Aside: I wrote this little piece about her influence on me for her birthday, which was a few days ago.



It’s not often we get the band back together, and the dynamic will change again when Lilly makes her move this fall. I’m not ready for that just yet, so I’m going to enjoy this photo from Xmess Eve 2015 while easing my way into 2016.

Happy New Year, friends. You’ve got 2016 in the palm of your hand.

Same Difference

This is a photo of a photo that was taken by Cody’s father, Dan, in summer of 1991.

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That young woman in that photo – that’s me. I was probably weeks away from moving to Chicago from Minneapolis. It was probably hot. I was probably tired from being out too late the night before, or maybe I’d just gotten in from a night out. I had probably been mad at Dan for hurting my feelings, and I had probably forgiven him. It was a cycle that was to play out many times over the next 18 months in two cities.

Cody – not yet a twinkle in anyone’s eye at that point – would be born just over a year later. [As it happens, Cody’s the one who found this at his Dan’s the other day and sent it along – he’d never seen it before.]

What strikes me most about this photo, besides seeing my a bit of my daughter in my sleepface and the Star Wars pillowcase, is the dress. I remember the dress very well. I’m not sure what happened to it, but I currently own another dress quite like it and wore it just the other day; despite the passage of 24 years, my clothing preferences really haven’t changed. Why is that? Is there something about some of the music and clothes and habits and other personal touchstones from one’s early 20s that stay lodged pretty firmly in a person’s consciousness? Hmmm. I don’t think it’s just nostalgia.

LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs Saved Aggressively):

These scientists died studying thin ice

Very nice music mixes by my friend du Nord

17 year-olds can vote in primaries and caucuses in half of the US!

IFTT recipes

These biscuits are the business

I might try this pancit recipe

Carrot Quinn is hiking the Continental Divide Trail

Mediashift splits from PBS

Sometimes it works to ignore your advisors

Social Needia

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I don’t know what to do about the internet.

Part of my day job is to maintain my organization‘s social media, and I reckon I’m pretty good at it. I also use it to find inspiration for video and podcasting topics and ideas for pitch meetings in the WILL newsroom. I’m nosy, so checking the analytics for the station’s website and social media is fun for me. [Analytics are a busybody’s wet dream. They’re interesting and insightful and far more powerful now than they were ten years ago, are getting more powerful every day, which is terrifying, etc etc etc.]

Backyard Industry relies on social media, primarily to notify people about blog entries or new videos, but sometimes to share things I find germane to the BYI conversation. But beyond that, it gets tricky. Like “everyone else”, I keep personal accounts on various platforms, and I feel like I live in those spaces, and lately (lately?) it’s become a problem.

I spend an inordinate amount of time on Reddit, for example. REDDIT IS THE BEST/WORST PLACE ON THE INTERNET, but I love it. I’ve learned a lot about salad-in-a-jar and free fonts and improperly attributed quotes from Pinterest. I’ve read about the myriad trials/tribulations/tiny victories/political opinions of friends of friends on Facebook. Gaining this knowledge has often come at the expense of creating my own work or vacuuming or napping or cooking or planting or just sitting with myself. When was the last time you just sat with yourself for an hour? May I ask how you did it?

So I had to ask myself: Is personal social media worth it for me?

No and yes. I hate that I look for “likes” and “retweets” and “repins” and “reblogs” – the list of ways I can actually account for my online existence seems endless. Analytics are no longer page hits. They now tell me so much more about who’s paying attention to me and from where and for how long and which pages and which social tools or search terms they used to find me and if they clicked on any of my links… and from this I can surmise whether I’m a big deal on the internet. Or if I’m not. It’s up to me to decide whether or not I care. I find myself caring. I find myself hitting “refresh”. I’m always “just checking”, especially on my phone. I’ve become social media’s tool, and as an oversharer and voracious consumer of information, stopping myself entirely from using it would be difficult at best.

But I also adore what social media can do. I love that my father, who doesn’t get out much, can play Words With Friends with people all over the world and reconnect with old friends from college, some of whom come to visit him where he lives. I love that people use Twitter to gather in protest, to educate, and to share in real time – especially during protests or other breaking news where what people share on social is an absolutely necessary companion to the narrative being created by the media. I have a Pinterest board that is a powerful antidote to Mondays. And how else would I see James’ gorgeous goals for Real Madrid without social media? Or watch Union Carbide Productions videos?

This is not middle-aged grousing about something I don’t understand or participate in – on the contrary. If there’s one thing I deeply get, it’s two-way communication – the desire to hear and be heard, to tell and be told – on all the platforms. Old ones, too, like print media and radio and stuff. I’m very curious about why people use what they use. It’s part of my job to figure that out. But, man – social. There’s literally no end to the ways social media can be used to push or digest information; new ways are being hacked all the time. Now that all of it is optimized for mobile, social media is always with those of us who opt in. So are our friends. And their friends. Maybe some enemies. The organizations and businesses and causes we follow are in our pockets – and so are many that we don’t – and we’re always with them. There’s never any down time unless we opt out.

It feels weird. For me personally, social media is no longer paradise, but I’m not sure what I’d do without it. I get something out of it, for sure, but I can’t gaze out over it at the end of the day and be like, yeah. I made something. Or, hey, look at those freaking beets, just growing away out there! I’m not sure it’s a paradise for organizations, either. We spend a lot of time being yanked around by changes in algorithm, experimenting with new tools, competing with other organizations to capture figurative eyeballs, and sussing out how to be everywhere at all times, ready to engage.

I’m not wringing my hands over the state of the world. This technology is awesome. Great things happen EVERY DAY because of social media, and it’s incredibly useful (and fun – I love livetweeting my daughter’s soccer games using the hashtag #UniHighSoccer, so the team can read the tweets later and their parents and friends and fans can follow along). But in the past week, I suddenly understood that I spend too much time being used by social media and that I don’t feel good about it and that it’s not really sustainable. I’ve reached personal peak social. I probably reached it a year ago. I’m embarrassed it took me so long to make such an obvious observation about myself. I’m not sure what the trigger was – probably the desperate eye I gave my 2′ pile of unread books and magazines a few days ago. Or it was noticing the unfinished projects I don’t have energy to work on after a day of reading what hundreds of other people think. Actually, it was likely the mortifying number of times that day I caught myself thinking in terms of my activities’ tweetability and held myself back from posting anything anywhere, just as an experiment. (True story. And I was quite agitated.)

I know I’m hardly the only person coming to this conclusion.* I also know I’m hardly the only person who’s not sure what to do about it. Device discipline is hard, especially when your personal and professional life is built around two-way communication. So I’m guessing that, like most people do once they understand the concept of peak resources, I’ll keep using social media, but feel kind of weird about it.

PS: I was getting ready to post this when this week’s horoscope from Free Will Astrology came through:

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): According to the three science fiction films
collectively known as *The Matrix,* we humans suffer from a fundamental
delusion. What we think is real life is actually a sophisticated computer
simulation. Intelligent machines have created this dream world to keep us
in suspended animation while they harvest our energy to fuel their
civilization. Now as far as I can tell, this scenario isn’t literally true. But it
is an apt metaphor for how many of us seem to be half-asleep or under a
spell, lost in our addiction to the simulated world created by technology. I
bring this to your attention, Libra, because now is a favorable time to
diminish the hold that the metaphorical Matrix has on you. What can you
do to at least partially escape your bondage? (Hint: A little more contact
with nature could do the trick.)

*Cody did a social media break for a week recently, and then the guys at the Invisible Office Hours podcast, which I was catching up on over the weekend, took turns late last year doing social media breaks. Hearing about their experiences confirmed my suspicions and made me try sitting in the coffee drive-thru lane with my phone in my bag. It was difficult.


When they were much younger, my daughter and her older brother spent hundreds of hours with tens of thousands of Lego blocks, building all kinds of crazy stuff all over the house. This work was Very Important.


They first built according to directions. Then they took whatever it was apart and built something else altogether that, to them, was infinitely cooler than the model, the first thing. They’d never get the model back, but that didn’t matter, because they’d made this NEW AWESOME THING. Which was then almost certainly replaced by THE NEXT NEW AWESOME THING, often immediately. And next to it would be THAT OTHER STRANGELY HUGE BUT STILL AWESOME THING. Etc.

So. Imagine you’re a Lego-friendly grown person who’s been turned loose into a room where someone has overturned two giant tubs of mismatched Lego – including people and wheels and trees and all the other cool stuff they include with Lego now – and you’ve been told, here you go. Make whatever you want. Nope! No blueprint, no directions, no rules! Just get in there and build. Construct to your heart’s content. It’s cool. These are your Lego. Have at it. Bye! Have fun!

What would you do? Would you sort? If you sorted, how would you sort? By color? By block type? By size? Or would you jump right in and just start constructing buildings and vehicles and spacecraft, revising as you went? Would you consult the Internet, looking for advice on how to deal with so many blocks, so much potential? Would you put the blocks back in the tubs, overwhelmed by all the possibilities, and wait for your handler to let you out?

Architecture implies planning and designing. The architect is only occasionally the builder of a building (Lego construction excepted). My style has always been to not so much plan as to just start and revise. Sometimes I force things along (I just had a conversation with a friend yesterday about how forcing what you think you want rarely gets the desired results). I’ve talked here about planning and goal-setting before, and now I’m “suddenly” (haha) finding myself at a critical point with personal/professional projects, our house, my own self, and especially our family. Lilly is graduating from high school in almost exactly one year and a lot – A LOT – is going to happen in those twelve months, never mind what happens after that. Basically, the bins have been dumped.

I can tell you exactly what I’m doing right now. I’m sitting in my huge pile of metaphorical Lego, hanging out amidst the chaos and abundance of color and shape and variety… but have you ever sat on Lego blocks? Dang, you guys. The sitting can’t last, so I’m looking forward to architecture – to planning, designing, and then building/rebuilding, working alone, with Jim, with Cody, and especially working with Lilly on crafting her own plans, too.

LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs Saved Aggressively)

At some point I’ll get to this article about Pound – new content sharing tracking tool

How food co-ops are bringing food access to lower-income communities

Create better copy by changing a word (this isn’t that great, but it’s in the tabs)

10 things designers apparently (freaking) hate

Trapped Creative


40 free modern fonts

Indiegogo for Nance Klehm‘s new project, The Ground Rules

Pondering the capsule wardrobe concept with Unfancy

Breakdown Break Down at the 2 Degrees Festival in London

Obsessed with the Mixte, but just looking for now




In a what feels like Herculean effort to finish out this iteration of the Backyard Industry Video Project, I’ve been reviewing a lot of footage.

Phil Orr

For awhile it was chicken coops and the people who build them, like Phil (that’s him above). That video is allllllmost finished, though, so lately I’ve been looking at Shana and Mac from The Great Pumpkin Patch, transcribing their interviews by hand because I know of no other way.

Shana Condill of TGPP

Mac Condill

One thing I’ve discovered about this particular creative situation: I wish it was all I did. I really do love coming up with a story to tell, planning shoots, going on shoots, doing interviews, gathering B-roll, looking at it later and transcribing it, and going through the first part of the process of getting that story told. I love it to the point of feeling guilty and like I don’t deserve to be taking the time to do it. Often I’ll walk away from it for awhile, too overwhelmed by the fact that I’m doing something fun instead of cleaning or something else I “should” be doing. True story!

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The second part of getting that story told is stitching those Post-Its together into a video in editing – re-creating the show open, smoothing transitions between “chapters”, adding graphics, adding music, making cuts, finding that exactly-right bit of footage to cover someone’s voice, etc. While I know this part happens, and it’s definitely fun… I rarely participate – at least, not in person. A lot of it happens over email.

With our current setup, Tim and I have pretty much been siloed in our work – we work together on the BYI project, but separately, mostly, on the creative side. We also end up doing things backwards or sideways sometimes because of a) my ignorance, b) time issues, and c) “real job” constraints/ups and downs/curveballs. In a perfect world, our partnership would be more like a Venn diagram than two separate circles, but it’s what we’ve got for now. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done and are doing, but I’m always like, this could have been so much better. I wish we had asked/gotten _____ or _____. It kind of goes back to my recent entry about planning, though I would also add process. I can plan all I want, but if I don’t have a process, I’m hosed – “hosed” meaning, in this case, submitting (and settling for) work that could have been SO MUCH BETTER.

Words like planning and process still give me hives, you guys. I’ve somehow always had the subconscious notion that you’re not truly creative if you rely on structure to create a finished product. Like, since I was a kid, I’ve had this idea. Where did this come from? Watching other people make it look easy or something? Like they didn’t have a process or a plan? NEVER have I found out the opposite to be more true than working in audio/video production. I know both Tim and I have learned plenty from this experience, not just about process and planning, but also about partnership and trust.

I know that most of the other stuff I want to work on (including one official work project) will benefit from these things I’ve learned re: planning and process:

The BYI podcast, which I swear to god is coming by June at the latest
The writing Troy asked me to do for Innocent Words (I’ll link when the first one is ready)
The project I still want to work on with Alisa from Prairie Fruits Farm

RELATED: I was thinking about Cody and his work (as I often do) and have marveled at the way he seems to be harnessing together, at age 22, all the things thatI believe must go into transforming ideas into something tangible:

A network

Lilly, for her part, is masterful at time management and is truly gifted in many ways, including seeing things – literal and figurative angles and connections – that others cannot see. The more they grow up, the more I learn from them, that’s for damn sure.

LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs Saved Aggressively):

I was sad reading about the Target layoffs

I loved this video of an elephant joining an elephant sanctuary

I tried a YouTube yoga class

On Being A Badass

What does Indiana men’s basketball coach Tom Crean look like?

Mixtape of Arabic songs from the 60s/70s

Really long long read about David Foster Wallace that I ended up not finishing (haha)

10 Women Paving the Way in Digital Journalism and Tech

Exact Change

January always makes me want to change something up, and the more immediately I can change something, the better… which means I usually change something with my appearance, and that often means my hair. I mean, why not? It’s relatively cheap and instantaneous.

I know from plenty of experience that doing this never produces the desired results. Last January’s shearing off of 18″ of hair was transformative, but not in the way I’d expected or hoped for. UGH, JANUARY. The days are still short, the weather is still cold, work is work; everything feels low-grade and pedestrian and boring and it seems like the perfect time to, I don’t know, get a tattoo. Jim and I were talking the other day about how we could be – and want to be, and plan to be, because we used to be – so much weirder than we currently are, and I felt this pang of desire to be freed of this malaise by CARING LESS.

I was thinking this morning that I cleave way too much to the idea of immediate change/results as opposed to working toward something and having the process be transformative, not the result. Yesterday, Cody and I were talking about this with regards to creating a following on Instagram for his photo work – which he is doing with success – and we had this exchange (I’m in blue):


I sound so wise, don’t I? He really is a stellar example of what attention and patience and trust in oneself can do, giving zero effs while doing so. He’s experiencing rapid change on a large scale in his life because he’s put his energy and focus on doing this work after scattering that energy and focus to the winds for so long – and he’s just 22. His life is not perfect, of course, but the transformation, especially from the vantage point of being his parent, has been extraordinary these last 8 months. Extraordinary. It brings up a host of feelings about what I was doing at his age and how I got to now, which are fully mine to deal with.

Basically…I’ve been watching a few of my favorites undergo amazing personal transformations these last few years, and I might have finally, truly absorbed this: Drastic haircuts do not equal being the architect of one’s life.

Allrighty, then! On to LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs Saved Aggressively):

Food trends to watch… from an Australian perspective

The 14 Principles of the Future Organization

My old friend Any Resemblance

6 Great Apps to Help You Write

Wisconsin Foodie

Stoner Rock Band Name Generator

On speaking while female

A photo of Robert Plant holding a dove while onstage

Garden trends in 2015

Embroidery: Because I have all kinds of time

20 Ways to Make People Fall in Love With Your Instagram

My favorite article about last night’s handegg games