The Birchbark House


birchbark house

Some time ago, I wrote several posts about the Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House” series. My sister, Ann, had the wisdom to save that collection and hand it down to my very lucky daughter.  We read them together.

I didn’t know, however, that Laura Ingalls was only slice of what’s available…

This summer, I was wandering around the children’s section of the library and I found Louise Erdrich’s “Birchbark House.”

I’m a huge fan of Erdrich’s books. How did I not know about this?

Truth be told, I checked it out for myself, not knowing if I would foist it on my daughter.

She’s into the whole horror scene, and the books I recommend tend not to be “cool.” So I read it. It was amazing, and I forgot how much I loved Erdrich’s writing. But, I kept thinking back to those happy-ish Little House books, and that scene in “Little House on the Prairie” where they watch the Indians “ride away” (wink, wink),  and Laura cries because she wants an Indian baby for herself. (!!!)

I just had to show my daughter there’s another side to that part of American history. So, she read about the baby girl in the very first pages and what happens to her. (I won’t give it away. Are you crazy? You need to read this for yourself!) Then, we had a long discussion and she asked some very hard questions. And now, we’re kind of hooked…

This weekend, we’re off to find the other Birchbark books, “Game of Silence,” “The Porcupine Year,” “Chickadee,” and “Makoons.” I can’t wait to have another series to read with my kid. I can’t wait to see what happens.

If you have a favorite historical series, please share it! ~ Thanks!!



Hope in a Jar


Check out this righteous herb, man

This morning, a good friend and well-meaning person told me their hairdresser knew the cure for Type 1 Diabetes. I had to run to my car before she finished talking, or I wouldn’t be responsible for my actions.

Why do people licensed to cut and color hair think they have medical training superior to any other hospital or research facility anywhere in the world? For the last 18 months (since my son’s diagnosis), I have had a deluge of advice either directly from hairdressers or their clients about its “cure.”

Hairdressers: you need to stop. We have laws against practicing medicine without a license because it can kill people. So, the next time you’re backcombing someone and want to tell them evening primrose oil cures cancer – Shut. It.

That goes double for people selling shakes and supplements from their garage. I know you mean well, and you would LOVE to feel personally responsible for curing someone – even better if it’s a child – of a lifelong medical condition.

YOU don’t want to cause any harm (like the emotional trauma resulting from spending lots of money on some flaky concoction that hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of making any difference in any human’s physiology), but the company that makes the product you sell has no such scruples.

“Tell them – ha ha ha – tell them if they drink this, they won’t have to take any more insulin!”drunk-i-love-lucy

Now, really… how does that even sound? Would you go up to an amputee and tell them Vitameatavegamin will grow their limb back?

Oh, am I being hostile? Sorry.

But I think if a company is going to make such a claim, they should be responsible for researching and providing proof that the product really does what they say it does. And I’m not talking about an endorsement from a customer/entrepreneur who said they had plantar warts that looked like melanoma and now they don’t have them anymore. I’m talking FDA approval.

Next time, instead of just smiling and nodding at these “product representatives,” I’m going to ask them to provide references, research studies, and a monetary guarantee that would cover any unforeseen medical side effects from the use of whatever they’re selling. I want that shit in writing.

Maybe then, people will think twice about what it really means to offer hope in a jar.

Meet the Punchers


When I was a kid, there was a family in the neighborhood. I’ll call them the Punchers, because that was something they really enjoyed. (Besides, they might hunt me down and beat me if I identify them.)

The Punchers are directly responsible for much of my parental anxiety.

They had a kid my age – a girl, even! She just loved to hit, but she did not love reciprocity. I preferred to play with the neighborhood boys even though they weren’t my age. It was safer.

Of course, sometimes I had to play with her. Her mom would come over and threaten to punch my mom if I didn’t.

The Puncher kids went to public school, which colored my view of public school kids and public school in general.

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One day, I was having dinner at the Punchers, and Mrs. Puncher asked me about parochial school.*

The brother (who was about 4 years older) interrupted my answer to ask why he didn’t go to parochial school.

“You think we’d pay for your education?” she laughed, “That would be a waste of money!”

The Punchers all thought this was hilarious, and their son didn’t seem the least bit hurt.

Anyway, I thought about them recently when I heard my kids were playing musical chairs in school. I have only one experience with musical chairs, and it’s from Puncher girl’s birthday party. When the music stopped, she punched the crap out of me until I gave up my chair.

Thank goodness, those aren’t the rules of the game, even in public school. Still, my kids are lukewarm to the Darwinian nature of musical chairs.

In our school, it’s more like,

“Here’s a chair, old chum. Trust me, you need it more than I do.”

“Ha, ha! No, thank you, I insist!  I prefer to watch those other poor souls duke it out for dwindling resources.”

“Right-o! That’s what passes for entertainment nowadays…”

Monocles and spatter-dashes are big at my kids’ school.

blog top hat

Maman, do pack more of those nummy fruit leathers!

And punching is so-o-o last year.

*Parochial school in the eighties had a whole ‘nother set of problems.

When You Walk into a Poo Storm


Everyone knows there are some things you just don’t post on social media, right? I mean, we’ve learned our lesson with this woman , these guys , and this

Social media’s not a free-for-all! Other people see it. More people than you realize. (Wake up, dummies!)

But what about those days when you post something seemingly innocuous? Like, “Look at this pretty rainbow!” with a picture of a pretty rainbow, and you get comments. Lots and lots of comments…

blog rainbow2

Warning: actual rainbow.

“It must be nice living in a temperate climate where it rains and you can take shelter in your comfortable house with your expensive phone, and by the way, check your privilege!!!

“Unfortunately, some of us can’t see rainbows at all because of colorblindness. :/”

“Stop trying to foist your Judeo-Christian symbolism on us!!”

“It’s Adam and Steve, not Adam and Eve! Wait, you know what I mean… NOW look what you made me do, you $%&#@!!”

“This rainbow reminds me of my huge LuLaRoe sale* – here’s a link!”

… and that’s just the replies to your original post, not to mention all of the infighting that results in your friends’ comments.

Sometimes, it seems like you can’t post anything without stepping in a steaming pile. When that happens, it can throw you for a loop,

  • Remember these people are all just reacting to a sliver of who you areblog intersect what happened

    blog intersect happy

    Go to your happy place!

  • It’s not worth the psychic energy
  • You can take it down

Take it down?!? But, but, my freedom!!

Look, I’m just saying: it’s an option.

Once upon a time, a very silly, fleeting thing happened in a very specific place. A place most of the world doesn’t know or care very much about: Milwaukee.

During the entertainment segment of a Brewer’s baseball game, four people dressed as sausages raced each other around the field. As they ran, a player from the opposing team thought it would be hilarious to hit one of the sausages with a baseball bat. (You know, like you do…)

It was an unfortunate but funny story, and someone made a shirt out of it, and it said, “Milwaukee: Don’t Whack Our Wiener,” and I bought the shirt.

Not for myself, for my husband.

Blog classy leo

You’re welcome, baby!

We didn’t even live in Milwaukee at the time, so he wore it in Atlanta when we were hiking.


Neither of us anticipated the looks we were about to get, and when a family with little kids came along, my husband had the good sense to leave the trail and turn his shirt inside out.

I still laugh about the whole thing. Him, not so much.

In conclusion, social media is just like everything else. You never know when someone’s going to make a stink, so don’t be surprised.

Anyone looking for a very clever Brewers’ pop culture souvenir T-shirt, let me know: only worn once!

*I do not like LuLaRoe. Please stop trying to sell it to me. Thank you.

All Hands on El Gato


I’m not trying to brag when I say we have an exceptionally tolerant cat. My family certainly can’t take the credit, he was like that when we adopted him. I suspect he might have been smuggled into a frat house as a kitten…

Lucky for us, because we’re obnoxious pet owners:




The only thing he doesn’t like is when I was pretend he’s an accordion and I sing “The Famous Person Polka.” He nips at my face and jumps out of my arms.


Our cat also LOVES to be loved. I say that about all cats, whether it’s true or not. With this one, however, it’s really and truly true. He demands two hands petting, thank you, so don’t even think about that coffee. PUT IT DOWN.

This summer, when the kids have a disagreement – let me just say, I really don’t care if they have a disagreement, that’s fine. I’m talking about when they have a disagreement that goes on long enough to impact me – I simply say, “All Hands on El Gato.” We go and find El Gato (not too difficult, he’s usually right there) and everyone puts two hands on him and he’s in HEAVEN with this sudden and lavish attention.

Usually that’s enough to move everyone on with their lives, unless the cat insists we stay there for another hour of petting and he will let us know when our spiritual healing is complete. Since he’s smaller than your average cat, our hands have to overlap, and soon we’re laughing and everyone’s forgotten who killed whom with a platinum sword.


“That’s right, I’m like freaking St. Francis over here. I’m an instrument of peace, yous guys.” (My cat starred in Welcome Back Kotter.)

Pets have one job. Your dog won’t plow a field. Your cat won’t deliver brandy to you in an avalanche. They’re stress relief. Pets are living fidget spinners –  Use em, I say!

At least, I’ll use our cat while I can. I might have three more kid-arguments, tops, before I have to come up with something else.

Moms can’t get too comfy.

Unlike cats… toocomfortable






Congratulations to my sister and brother-in-law on their new bundles of feline joy!


Just the two – she didn’t adopt five cats… I mean, that’s too many cats, right…?

If you have a pathological love of cats, check out the Katzenworld blog.

Like cat fiction? My friend, Debbie Manber Kupfer can fix you up.

Help Today – Join TrialNet!


Many studies have cured diabetes in mice – it’s time to find a cure for humans.

This morning, I woke up from a terrible dream. In it, my son’s blood sugar was going up. First his meter read 614, and then 700. (Healthy blood glucose levels are between 70 and 100 mg/dL.)

My eyes flew open. I turned off my alarm and said, “I’ve had enough.”

I’m not the first parent or person with Type 1 Diabetes who has said this. My son says it every day! But there’s something about today. Today has an urgency about it.

I recently saw a pediatric endocrinologist give a speech about clinical trials. She spoke in great detail about TrialNet, a worldwide research organization dedicated to pre-diabetes screening.

So what? I thought. There’s nothing that can prevent someone from developing Type 1 Diabetes. Once the beta cells start going rogue and the immune system steps up to attack them, Type 1 (the inability to create insulin) is not far behind. My kid already has diabetes. There was nothing I could have done to prevent it.

But, there’s something almost EVERYONE* can do to prevent future cases of Type 1. We can join TrialNet, give a blood sample, and follow up. TrialNet tracks people for the antibodies present in patients with diabetes before it develops. They study risk factors like genetics, the environment, and exposure to other illnesses. They research interventions and possibly vaccines that could prolong the onset of diabetes and hopefully one day prevent it.

They may even discover a way to treat or cure people who currently have the disease.

*Anyone under age 45 can enroll in TrialNet anywhere in the world. Please consider becoming part of this important project!

Follow this link to learn more. Please share this post. THANK YOU.

Wizard of Ahs


2successOnce upon a time, there was Toastmasters. If you wanted to give speeches (for work; I could explain, but let’s just say it was the olden days) you could join a club in your area – sometimes even at your workplace – and practice your presentations. THEN, someone else would give a speech about your speech, and other people around the room had tasks like “Who used the Word of the Day,” and “Ah Counter.”

The Ah Counter, or as some clubs called them, the Wizard of Ahs, kept track of everyone who stood up to speak that meeting and humiliated them by sharing how many times they used fillers like “um,” “ah,” “you know,” “okay,” prolonged “ands” and “sos,” aaaand, let me see, what else…?

Some people thought it was mean to have an Ah Counter because it was public shaming and negative reinforcement, but it certainly made people more aware. Tough love, we used to call it.

My Toastmaster days are over, and my YouTube days are in full swing. When I need to know how to pry the bumper off my phone, tie a gi belt, or suture my own wounds, I turn to the most trusted source on the internet.


The people in these videos are 84% helpful, but the AAAAHHHHHS! As I write this, my daughter is watching an origami tutorial. I keep hearing the word, “Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.” And it’s only 4 minutes long!

Thank you very much, technology: everyone with an idea and a phone can make a video and upload it – and they do!

It’s enough to make a Toastmaster deviate from parliamentary procedure.


Unprofessional! I’m out of here on my unnaturally long legs!

Lately, someone told me I need to stop writing a blog with all these wordy-words and switch to video. Well, I don’t want to! I like to read, and my readers like to read. I don’t usually have anything to “show,” and as a consumer of media, I’d rather read an opinion than watch someone bloviate for 12 minutes.

(If you see me in a video, brush up on your Morse code, because I will be trapped in a bunker.)

The next time you encounter a YouTuber or (even worse) a Facebook Live sort in real life, please, grind their phone under your heel for me. Or at least tell them practice and editing are their friends.

If you’re as old and croctchety as I am, find me on Facebook, twitter, or leave a note here!