The legs, the lighting, the food trucks

pumps ii

say what you want about the south


they make things pretty

i can accept these nude sandals

they wear a nude sandal with subtlety, the way god intended

they understand garden parties

they understand taste

they understand taste

nude sandals ii

they value good posture


they respect the need for heat


they appreciate an airport shoe shine

this is the one

they know how to wear a sidewalk, a truck, a night


The actual wedding was beautiful, too. But all this footwear! These shiny shoes in the moonlight, with food trucks, which were the best possible thing for a garden wedding. The best. And I’m not really even a shoe person or a food person, but wow. Congratulations, Steve & Stephanie, on doing it so right.

And this is why The Frye does weddings

i love an a-line skirt

because i love an a-line skirt

i know i know i know !!!

because this is how all brides should dress

because of good lighting


plates. shoulder. fork. flame!

not at all threatening to the frye. not at all.

this dress this dress

i want these everywhere, instead of walls

and who doesn’t love beaded fringe

and i want to wear this staircase

and this my friends is a bathroom

if the coat room is good you know it’s good

the band takes pride in geting the names right

twist little girl


Eucalyptusexy: A tribute to winter, your wife, and Vicks VapoRub ®

There she is.

there she is

She isn’t lounging in that kind of light you love – late morning summer, bedroom window, leaded glass, sun shining in like golden oil on her shoulders, waves of sweet exfoliation touching straps that keep her tank top just in place. On those shoulders. Warm and freckled, skin on fire with inner glow thanks to you there in the bedroom, Mr. Husband, in your t-shirt, boxer briefs. Goodbye tank top. Hello, Sunday. Make. Me. Coffee.

make me coffee

That is not the way it looks in January. It looks dark. It looks dirty. Big dust hairballs on the floor, crunchy ladybugs from autumn still a crust inside the window where the leaded glass is frosted and the light comes through just barely, rather chilly, rather gray.


Nothing gold. Nothing with powers to warm your wife who’s like a grub rolled up in bed, rolled in layers upon layers of chenille, fleece and flannel. Maybe tank top in there somewhere? Maybe skin? But way down where you can’t quite see. For sure can’t touch. Because it’s cold. And if you cannot make it warmer then you’ll have to put on hold your thoughts of marriage interactions, sweet late morning satisfactions. Goodbye, urges. Hello, bathrobe.

like a grub

But! There’s hope.

There is something, Mr. Husband, you can use to reach the woman deep inside that insulation. Just lean over the cocoon of her, and on that bedside table past the tissues, past the bottles, past the book club books and vaporizer – careful not to fall on her – keep reaching till your fingers feel the cool, slick plastic ridges of the jar that has the power to grant your wishes. It’s the substance that has magic like medicinal Absinthe but it’s quite legal, it’s quite easy. It’s quite aquablue and greasy. The key to what you need, to white-hot January love. It’s the one thing she wants more than heat. It’s Vicks sweet VapoRub ®.

medicinal absinthe

Ask her, please, if you could reach beneath the blankets and the sheets, and slide her woolen socks off gently and just moisturize her feet. With Vicks ®, which, you might know, is noted to have properties that soothe the worst bronchitis when applied to the bottoms of the feet. It’s the oddest, truest thing, and that small bit of conversation is a very good distraction from the fact that you’ve now lifted up the blankets and your hands are on her skin. Granted, ankles – but you’re there.

when applied to the bottoms

You just keep rubbing. Warm it up first, make sure nothing touches her that’s not as nice and hot as summer on her soles, her heels, her soft unshaven calves. Keep it warm. Keep it moving. Keep it smooth, Mr. Husband, and the next thing you both know she’s taking big deep drags of bedroom air. That chest that’s in there somewhere, under blankets? It is rising. It is falling. And her neck? It might be arching just enough that you can see a slice of flesh like winter moonrise cresting over threadbare flannel. It’s her throat! It is – yes! It is something close to chest.

she is happy

Close enough. You seize this moment. Keep one hand down at the bottom, keep it moving, keep her happy, keep your balance, reach your other hand around to find that Vicks ®, and then, just lightly, really slow and very slightly, bring that pearl of eucalyptus close to where she can inhale it – as a service, as a kindness, you are Mr. Winter Selfless, taking care of feet and sinuses – and watch. Next thing you know, sure as your unshoveled snow, she will rise. She will peel the fleece and flannel and chenille. She’ll sit upright, or just enough that you can access things you haven’t seen in weeks.

she is warm

Do not pause to take it in. You do not risk air on her skin. You fast unbutton. Make a tent out of the covers. If the grease that’s on your fingers makes that clumsy? Tear the flannel. An advantage of it being old and ugly Is that no one’s going to argue hours later when a shirt is found in tatters on the floor. Hours later when you’re both quite newly warm.

Hours, or minutes. Doesn’t matter. You have turned it into summer In the bedroom, and there’s nothing out those windows that can touch the way it feels inside this minty cloud of sweetness, this hot seal of eucalyptus that adheres you to the woman who is worth all that and more.

She is close. She is yours. She is flannel on the floor.

on the floor

She is warm. She is happy.

she is flannel

She is eucalyptusexy.

oh yeah she is


EUCALYPTUSEXY is now a micro motion picture by Jacob Strunk with music by Paris Zax and gorgeousness by Lindsey Vaerst. A warm and emotive gorgeousness that mocks Minnesota winters in a most brazen way. Ah, Hollywood.

Originally performed as part of Mankato Mosaic’s 2012 Brrrlesque show, featuring the quilt-wearing, sock-twirling, lovely Launa Helder. 

This post not (yet) endorsed by Vicks VapoRub ®.

Happy birthday to me: a sisterly guide to midlife

So, my big sister sent me a bunch of things to welcome me to 45 and tell me what to do about it. Superthoughtful! Here they are in case your birthday’s also coming up.

amy says wear giorgio

In case you’d forgotten the sweet  glamorous smell of Giorgio. GIORGIO! I’m wearing it right now and I smell like my mom about to leave us with a babysitter. All I need is a clutch purse that smells like mint gum and Newports.

amy says revere the 80s

In case you need to be reminded to get a mammogram.

amy says get a mammogram

In case you were wondering whether or not to buy more soap.

amy says forget soap

In case you can’t sleep.

amy says take magnesium

In case you were thinking, do I really need a night cream AND a day cream???

amy says use night cream

In case you were wondering if midlife is the new youth. It’s not, but according to my sister, it’s a pretty good thing of its own provided we enjoy ourselves and moisturize.

amy says books are the new youth


Black Friday, a Mall of America/Steely Dan mashup

For my shopping friends and my Steely Dan-loving friends, which I think covers all my friends, here’s what you missed today at Mall of America. Here’s the song so you can listen along.

When Black Friday comes I'll stand down by the door And catch the grey men when they Dive from the fourteenth floor

When Black Friday comes I’ll stand down by the door
And catch the grey men when they dive from the fourteenth floor

When Black Friday comes
I’ll collect everything I’m owed

And before my friends find out / I'll be on the road

And before my friends find out

I'll be on the road

I’ll be on the road

Don't let it fall on me

When Black Friday falls you know it’s got to be
Don’t let it fall on me

When Black Friday comes I'm gonna dig myself a hole

When Black Friday comes
I’m gonna dig myself a hole

satisfy my soul

Gonna lay down in it ’til
I satisfy my soul

Gonna let the world pass by me

Gonna let the world pass by me

The Archbishop's gonna sanctify me

The Archbishop’s gonna sanctify me

And if he don't come across I'm gonna let it roll

And if he don’t come across
I’m gonna let it roll

When Black Friday comes I'm gonna stake my claim

When Black Friday comes
I’m gonna stake my claim

I guess I'll change my name

I guess I’ll change my name


Discussion of the lyrics by Steely Dan freakjobs here. Backstory about the Friday in 1869 when a couple investors tried and failed to corner the gold market here. My last Black Friday love poem here. Reversible shearling/purple mink coat I would LOVE for you to buy me here.

My friend Jen looks supercute in her new health care directive

Today I had the honor of notarizing my friend Jen’s health care directive. She has a great new haircut, so our conversation was pretty much fifty-fifty.

kinda short

This prompts me to remind my friends that you guys, I’m completely available to notarize your health care directives and read your Fashion Tarot at the same time.

notary + tarot = OF COURSE

Not a general Tarot reading to warn you about which boxes you should check on the directive. I can’t help with that. I mean Fashion Tarot, as in, how to plan for a great-looking exit. An exit that has dignity. Honestly lovingly vain, with a dusting of good taste. I mean, you don’t want people putting you in an outfit that’s only in your closet because you spent so much money on it but you actually hate it because it’s the interview suit that didn’t get you the job. Or it’s some v-neck thing you kept meaning to give your younger, bustier sister. Who needs that at their own visitation? Call me because I can help.

We can do couture, like Mark Mitchell Burial. Gorgeous stuff.

mark mitchell burial

We can do organic. You would look so good as a tree. I mean SO GOOD.

bios urn

We can talk to deathxpert Rachael Hanel about how to document the whole ordeal with flair.

rachael by the stones

Bottom line, though, is that you should do your plan. If you’re a Mankato Clinic person, they’ll bug you about it at your next appointment anyway.


So just write up your stuff, and then call me. Seriously.


My notary commission is valid through January 2015. My desire for you to look good is ETERNAL.


Poet-witch Annie Finch just exorcised your closet

Here’s how to get your closet and your life ready for fall.

1) Figure out what color dominates your wardrobe. If you love it, like if every time you put it on you think, oh, excellent, this is just how I want to feel today, this color makes me feel part of something bigger and more exciting than just my closet and myself, then you’re good. All ready for fall.

But if not, and I suspect not because you haven’t thought about this before because neither had I, identify the bully color and take it out of your closet. Take out everything in that shade, just pull it off the hangers and throw it on the floor. You’re going to freak out. You’re going to look at that pile and go, oh my God, I had no idea I was fixated on the most drab/stale/twee/garish/whatever-whatever color in the world.

admit that you have a problem

2) Pack it up. Mankato’s Salvation Army’s collection hours are 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Saturday. There’s also Goodwill. Or there’s MRCI. Just get it out of your life.

3) After I took my bag to Salvation Army, and I was on my way to a couple other thrift shops to replenish, and I was really happy, windows down, singing away and not even to the radio, a truck pulled up next to me at a stoplight and the driver said, ma’am, your back tire’s really low. So I pulled over to look, and for sure, it was almost flat. So I went to Tires Plus and ninety minutes later I had a new tire and no time left in the day or the weekend to shop. So, what I want you to learn from my flat tire is that after you purge, you can’t go buy replacement clothes right away. You cannot. You go exactly home to live in that void for at least a week.

live the void

4) Stripped of your comfort palette, read this HuffPost Healthy Living essay by Wiccan and acclaimed poet Annie Finch on the joy of no longer wearing black. (I know, right?! She’s a witch AND ALSO A POET. As if she could un-wear black.) As if anybody could give that up. Which I guess is what everybody says right before they admit that they have a problem. Here’s an excerpt from Annie’s piece.


Tell me that doesn’t touch a nerve. A drab/stale/redundant/unexamined nerve.

5) Annie goes on to say that she replaced black with colors she’d loved in her youth. That’s fine, but I challenge you to go witchier. Witchy in the HuffPost-Healthy-Living kind of way. Witchy as in earthy, gritty, powerful, more so than the whole giant September issue of Vogue. What I’m telling you to do is picture your actual real-world favorite place, and its palette. Is it your kitchen?

the kitchen

Is it Memphis?

not near beale street

Is it the woods?

the woods

Picture your place. Realize that the place and its colors are a reflection of some artist’s desires or dark thoughts or private jokes or cravings or visions, or all those things, everything, whether they meant to say all that or not. I don’t think it can be helped most of the time, when somebody’s designing a city or a kitchen or state park or whatever. It looks the way it looks for a lot of reasons, and you could use some reasons. You could use a wardrobe that reminds you of big things and honest beauty every time you see your own sleeve or pant leg. Reminders of goodness. Not just reminders of what was on clearance at T.J. Maxx.

So think of your favorite place. Then make that palette your palette. If this doesn’t sound like the best possible all-occasion way to dress, then I think maybe you just haven’t found your Memphis.

One place that works for me is the beach at Shark Rock Pier in Port Elizabeth. I was there for a few months in 2010, and the colors of it, day after day, I’m not kidding you, they were sublime. It’s not like I did anything significant on that beach except stare at the colors. I mean I hungered for those colors. Which is maybe what makes it my ideal tableau, because spending time that way, just trying to pull a few colors into your eyes and brain, it’s a pretty Healthy Living way to be. One time I brought my art supplies to the beach try to capture the shades. Two people who looked like they were on a date stood there and watched me for a while, and then they came up to ask if they could see, and I felt bad because what I was drawing wasn’t exactly date-enhancing oh-look-we’ve-come-upon-an-artist-on-the-beach quality.


That doesn’t look at all like Shark Rock Pier, but it does show love, which maybe wasn’t so bad to see on a date. The bluest of water. The most golden sand. The brownest of dirt, where there was dirt. Here I am one day when some kind of magenta plant had washed up all over the sand.

my beachcolors

Here I am wearing the actual sand.


Here’s how Memphis would look.


Here’s my kitchen.


Here I am as the woods.


6) Try out some places in your head until you find one that looks like who and where you want to be, and then you’ve got your palette. Then you can’t go back. You can’t go looking at retail displays or magazines that say what’s hot this season. Or you can, I guess, but so what? So that’s what’s hot this season. That has nothing to do with you and your revelations.

7) NOW you can go shopping for new stuff.

seriously this matches

8) Start wearing it. Just start doing it and don’t check with anybody. Don’t ask if it goes together, because you know it does, you’ve been to your beach and you know what you like. If you stand out from the crowd a little more than you meant to, like at a (non-Annie Finch) poetry reading with a lot of black-sweater people and there you are in aqua, just deal with it. This is real-deal witch-sanctioned style we’re talking about. This is autumn, the season in which things change. It’s the season of last chances. It’s your season to become your favorite place.




Gratitude to Wendy Johnston for gracious assistance with my try-on paper doll. Wendy blogs here

Translate your place to a palette with Matisse by Derivan, a free color-identifying app for artists and closet exorcists.