Outside. Inside.


January’s a good month to have an excuse to stay inside with a baby.

All the snuggling, singing and miles put on pacing and bouncing the burps out in front of the fireplace is as good of an activity as any when the thermometer registers well below zero.

And while I love it, I am also restless. Having spent every other winter of my life able to bundle up and hit the trail or the road on a whim sometimes sends me pressing my nose up against the window.

The light is already starting to linger longer, and this baby is already starting to hold her head up and make little noises, but I find myself daydreaming about smushing her leg rolls into a little swimming suit and hitting the beaches of the big lake this summer.

And that’s a rough daydream, because I already think she’s growing up too fast.

So in an attempt to beat cabin fever and to force myself to stay in the moment, last weekend Husband held down the fort and the pacifier and I made a plan to trek out and about around the barnyard, ignoring the fact that it was literally -20 with the windchill or something like that.

I would just stay in the low parts of the place, avoid the wind and try to squeeze my fat ass into my long underwear, under sweat pants, under snow pants I could barely button up.

I just needed to take a tally of all of the frost, put a flush in my cheeks and sweat a bit.

Because while I have a new role now as a mom, there are things I know about myself that help keep me balanced.

I need to go outside. It’s imperative for me to remain the best version of myself.


So I did.


And I froze my face off.


And came in after only about fifteen minutes.


Happy to know that all was as it should be in January.


Frosty and freezing…


Windy and white…


And pretty in a middle-of-winter sort of way.


And it felt good to be frozen, only to warm up…


with a warm fire and the best stuff waiting for me inside.


Icicle Eyeballs

The temperature gauge on my pickup this morning said this.


That’s negative twenty.

Twenty below zero.

Sub, sub, zero.

Two digits below zero.

And that was without the windchill factor.


Do you know what -20 feels like if you include the windchill?

Well it sure as hell doesn’t feel like Tuesday. You know, way back when I was in Florida.

You know what the temperature is in Florida today?


How’s a person expected to survive that sort of shift in the atmosphere?

I woke up one day to 75 and sunny, got on a plane without socks and landed in a blizzardy tundra with 30 mile-per-hour gusts of blowing snow that dropped the temperature to a nice even -15 or so.


That’s nearly a 100 degree temperature drop in a mere 8 hours.

Do you know what 100 degrees colder than 75 and sunny feels like?

It feels like blood freezing in your veins.

It feels like icicle eyeballs.

It feels like razor sharp nipples.

It feels like burning cold skin.

It feels like every swear word you can form on your lips in the five seconds before your mouth freezes shut.

It makes you question your place in life, the level of sanity you possess to have become a person who choses to live in a place that spends a solid two to three weeks a year trying to freeze your internal organs.

No one’s lungs are freezing in Florida. I’m just saying…

Oh, I know, we’re a hardy lot of people up here. We’re sort of proud of that. We eat a lot of meat and potatoes. We put big dumplings in our soup. We roll out noodles and smother them with heavy sauces.

We deep fat fry shit.

We’ve got meat on our bones.

But there aren’t enough noodles in the world, not enough gravy, no ass big enough to protect a person from a weatherman warning that today, today friends, it’s only going to be -20, but you know what, it’s gonna feel like -45.


Henry, I love ya, but shut it.

Just. Shut. It.

Because at some point on the devil’s side of 0 degrees, it just doesn’t matter.

Pug in glasses


So don’t bother with such a specific warning Henry. Just tell us to wear seven sweaters under our giant, full-body jackets that drag on the ground.

And then laugh because we all know that seven sweaters and a giant jacket ain’t helping anyone out here.

We’re all just idiots.

Freezing cold idiots.

Popsicle people walking around wearing seven sweaters while our eyelids freeze to our eyeballs when really, we should all just move to Florida.


Shit I’m cold.


Winter crazy.

I know I’ve been talking about the weather a lot lately, trudging through the snow, climbing to the top of it, bundling up and taking it on by looking for the beauty in 30 below.

Well, we’re at the end of January now so I would like to take this opportunity, in the midst of another dangerous wind-chill advisory, to say ‘good riddance’ to the hardest and most brutal month of the year up here in the great white north.

Yup, that’s a little negative sign right there next to the 20. This is before the windchill. But hey, the sun is shining so what the hell, let’s just call it a beautiful day.

I think we made it through just fine admiring the sundogs,

and the fluffy puppy,

eating egg rolls, throwing sledding parties

and climbing the frosted badlands.

But I feel now it’s time to confess the fact that all of those things did their best to distract me from going crazy in this cooped up state, but they did not succeed entirely.


I am afraid I might have hung on to a bit of that inevitable winter insanity.

But please, don’t judge me. Let me remind you that I’m still a woman living in an unfinished house, sharing my winter space with a good number of power tools and using a shop vac to complete the majority of my cleaning. And in a situation like this, unexpected additions to the decor and atmosphere pop up unexpectedly.

I mean, you try staying sane when you can be jolted from your sleep at any given moment by the excruciating and terrifying gun-shot like sound of the air-compressor shaking the house as it recharges in the loft.

You try remembering to unplug that thing when the only time it makes itself apparent is at 2 am! The dogs wake up and start a barking frenzy right before one of them pukes on the floor. The cats in the basement cling to the ceiling and you shake your husband, telling him that this time, you’re sure it’s a robber.

Or an alien.

You try keeping your cool as your knight in shining armor rolls over and falls back to sleep.

I mean, I always swear I”ll unplug that thing first thing in the morning. But in the morning all I can think of is coffee, and so the cycle continues as I make my way from the coffee pot my favorite chair, but not before I trip over that stack of cedar my husband decided to place in my path, sending me flailing forward as my coffee splays across the floor and I invent thirty-seven new curse words.

And those words are in addition to the ones I invented yesterday when I tripped over that same stack of wood three times.

I’m serious. It blends in. I get comfortable in my environment and I don ‘t find it necessary to look down.  It’s a defect that I blame for the multiple times I’ve stepped the wrong way off of our front step and into the pit that will become our garage in the spring.

These types of outcomes are precisely the reason I’ve  never been a furniture rearranging kind of person. Because I strongly believe that if you put something in its place, it should stay there.


My life, limbs and coffee, depend on it.


Anyway, I am blaming those miseries on my husband. But I will tell you, I’ve created plenty of my own this winter, starting with allowing our one and only barn cat to take up residence in our basement. I mean, it’s so damn cold out there and now that we’re not in the barnyard I felt she needed to be close by, you know, to take the pressure off of the dogs to keep wild cat occupied while keeping her diet in check by batting her away with a vengeance if she dares get too close to the food.

I’ve been questioning this arrangement, but it seems it’s too late. Last weekend I attempted to put that barn cat outside to enjoy the 40 degree day and before I even opened the door she managed to claw her way out of my grip and up to my shoulder before flinging her body off the top of my head and running for cover.

And so I’ve been warned. There’s no way in hell that cat is every leaving my basement–rain, snow, forty below or 80 above.


Allowing another animal into this house is not the weirdest mistake I’ve made this winter. No. A few days ago in my attempt to reach Husband I dialed the wrong number and asked a complete stranger if he planned to come home tonight. The man on the other end of the line sounded a lot like my husband, and, well, I didn’t appreciate his tone.

Turns out he didn’t appreciate mine either.

And then there was that time my car was making weird noises as I drove through the neighboring town, forcing me to pull over in the parking lot of Runnings where it became evident that when I put the thing in park it was going to ignore me and just kept rolling…and when I put it in reverse it sounded like it was going to blow up.

So I sat there with my foot on the brake for a half an hour while I waited for a tow truck to bring me to the mechanic and for Pops to come and save me and take me grocery shopping before bringing me 60 miles back home. I waited, car-less through the holiday season, only to get a call informing me they couldn’t find anything wrong with the vehicle, except, well, you know the thirty-seven rock chips in the windshield.

Yup, that really happened. It was an annoying Christmas miracle and I have spent every day since driving that car just waiting for it to blow up or something.

Oh, I know we all have little mishaps and results of poor judgement in our lives, I just think the annoyance is multiplied out here by the fact that we’re also cooped up and freezing. So I guess I decided to share them so we could laugh about while we dream about summer.

But I’ll I make sure to roll my eyes first.

And sometimes I might hollar “Really?! Really!” so don’t be alarmed.

Happy last day of January. I hope you made it through with your sanity.

If you need me, I’ll be looking for mine…

Goodbye Summer

Sundogs and some things to warm you up.

Good Sunday to you. I thought I’d pop in this weekend to honor the coldest day on my planet.

Yup, we are in the middle of a good old fashioned “Wind Chill Warning.” 

Check it out.

Screen shot 2013-01-20 at 9.05.00 AM


That can’t even be real can it? I mean, once it hits a certain temperature we should just call it pain.


Screen shot 2013-01-20 at 9.15.32 AM
Now I know that most people living in this world are not acquainted with a “Feels Like” forecast, but there it is up there warning us that our noses are sure to freeze instantly upon exposure, turn black and fall off if we dare to go out uncovered. The “real” temperature is probably only like -10, and, well, that’s doable I suppose.

But yesterday I  went from my house to the pickup holding on to my coffee mug and by the time I shut the door on the passenger side I had added about fifty-seven new curse words to my vocabulary, my hot coffee was iced and my fingers were blue.

So I brought the puppy in from Mom and Pops’ garage, called Little Sister, poured a glass of wine, made some soup and we played dominos.

And today it’s even colder. I’m looking out the window at the sun shining on snow banks that were melting on Wednesday now frozen solid today as that wind pushes ribbons of fresh snow along its surface like rolling smoke.

And even though I knew I’d be risking my cheeks, I had to get out there for a moment to capture it.

Because only in cold weather like this do we get a halo around the sun.

A frozen rainbow without a drop of rain.

A sun dog.

A little gift of beauty as a reward for suffering frost bite.

Take a look. That is cold.

Hair freezing cold.

Snotsicle cold.

Get in through your Carharts, jeans, long-underwear, leather boots, wool socks, cotton socks and to your pasty little toes cold.

So let’s warm up shall we?

Here’s a few options to make you feel warm and fuzzy and get you through this frozen Sunday.

First, listen to “my attempt at making winter sexy” song Winter’s Sweet and get in the mood to make this soup:

Read more about cow dogs and the new puppy in today’s column ‘Coming Home’ published every Sunday in the Fargo Fourm.

Read this blog from fellow North Dakota writer, Ryan Taylor who has compiled a series of his late mother’s columns, also titled “Meanwhile, back at the ranch…” from their local newspaper in Towner, ND. Her wholesome perspective is sure to keep your mind off the weather.

Then, check out this cute illustration of the one-eyed pug from my friend Cheyanne,

A girl needs a dog
go shopping on her Etsy site, “Hang it on the line”  and let me know if you want your own “A Girl Needs a Dog”  t-shirt.

While you’re shopping, buy my album so you can learn all the words to that song! 

And if cute fuzzy puppies, music, reading, cooking and shopping don’t warm you up, just pretend you’re here in the summer.

Wishing you love and a good pair of mittens.

Your frozen friend,