The face I have after a week in Kalamazoo on the road to Austin

It’s not always easy to go home. My parents have been as welcoming as anyone could be to a mother of four who’s in between cities. I’ve enjoyed the Bell’s local brews, worked a couple days at the Water Street coffee house, played at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum (possibly one of the best childrens museums east of the Mississippi putting all boroughs’ children’s museums to shame, in my humble opinion), sipped ice tea on the patio, scratched a dozen mosquito bites after a night run with my dad, dashed through sprinklers, weeded the garden, staked the tomatoes, slept to the crickets, slurped palazzolo’s sorbetto, run around in the dry fountain at Bronson park, checked out library books…and still I’m ready to push on and push out. There’s something about coming home that’s welcoming and slightly suffocating no matter how old you are or how cool your parents might be.

Lovely Labels


Between the 45 yard gulf that separated the exhibit hall and the corndoggy food stands, a lithe, wrinkled, hippily dressed and adorned African American woman busied herself beneath a small white tent preparing two pigeon grey card tables. From a distance her baked wares were visible against the merlot fabrics filling her wide wicker nests. Cookie “cakes” the size of a small child’s head fanned out in old flavor combinations like banana pecan and ginger molasses. As I accepted her invitation and ordered two sweets, I was struck by the tiny, hand-made label she’d fashioned like a pen and ink for each good. A sea of white adhesive squares were laced with what may be her home address, the name of the cookie, the date it was baked, and a price. $3.00 for the extra loops and curly cues that filled in the lonely white space. Cookies from scratch I can get, but handmade labels on cookies from scratch seemed slow, sweet, and the work of someone who took a lot of pleasure in the tiniest of details.

Coffee and kids don’t cancel each other out



Foolishly, I planned to do many work-writing related things in Michigan (after my cuatro hit the hay). Unfortunately, as my post title suggests, the todo list has sat largely uncrossed-out. Instead I’ve spent mornings watching squirrels discover the large bird feeder that my father stocks with hulled sunflower seeds, cleaned 22 months of life out of my car, and taken my daughters to their first evening feature length film. After all that, most I can do is check email, try to blog and say goodnight.

Tiny books at home

I am staying in my parents house this week. Tonight my daughter was rifling through a drawer full of old doll clothes. Inside a tiny backpack she found this book that I used to pretend read in my parents’ bed. I loved its walnut size in my child hands. It seemed dense enough for adults, but measured for me. It made me feel smart like one of them. It was a material object imbued with my hopes for performing as a literate person at home. In my fingers it’s soft, flippable pages made me worthy of my parents’ attention and intellectual respect. But this child-sized text didn’t seem fit for them. It was both all mine and theirs. I’m not sure I was supposed to have it, but I did and I treasured it, quietly, when their eyes were busy and I was playing grownup. Perhaps that’s why it’s squirreled away in a basement-living doll backpack 34 years later.