The Last Ones to Let You Down
What happens when a teen takes charge of grief?

What happens when a teen takes charge of grief?

A screenshot from the SLAP'D site.

A screenshot from the SLAP’D site.

You can wallow in grief after a parent dies and feel alone, or you can try to pull together with others who are going through the same thing.

I’m so impressed with Chicago 14-year-old Genevieve Liu, who started SLAP’D (Surviving Life After a Parent Dies), a online resource for kids. On the site, Genevieve writes: “This is not ‘my’ site. It’s ours. Together, we…

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An unexpected place to find beauty

An unexpected place to find beauty

Beauty amidst death. Marysburg Cemetery outside of Madison Lake, Minnesota. Photo by author.

Beauty amidst death. Marysburg Cemetery outside of Madison Lake, Minnesota. Photo by author.

A recent blog postby uber-popular funeral director Caleb Wilde (author of “Confessions of a Funeral Director”) resonated with me. He writes: “Death sits in paradox. In it we find impossible co-mixtures of intrinsic opposites. Perhaps, this is why death is the muse of so many philosophers and theologians.…

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Mad about maps (classic maps)

Mad about maps (classic maps)

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I’ve been using a map for my Minnesota road trip. I love maps but most of all, I trust them. I don’t trust a GPS, especially one of those dashboard talking ones. I don’t trust anyone telling me what to do and where to go; why would I trust a GPS?

I have Google Maps on my phone, and I like it to find nearby coffee shops and for specific street directions once I’m in a town. But for the big…

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Greenwood Cemetery, Bemidji, Minnesota

Greenwood Cemetery, Bemidji, Minnesota

The Civil War memorial.

The Civil War memorial.

The Civil War soldier keeps watch. "1864" by Jurek Jakowicz.

The Civil War soldier keeps watch. “1864″ by Jurek Jakowicz.

This wasn’t the most well-kept cemetery I’ve seen. A guy was mowing while I was there, and it looked like a cut hay field behind his mower. I wonder if they’ve ever heard of weed trimmers? The grass was so high around all of the headstones. Perhaps they are on a monthly mowing schedule.

Chief Bemidji's grave. An example of the tall grass around gravestones here.

Chief Bemidji’s grave. An…

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Sacrilege! A Minnesotan who has never been “up North”!

Sacrilege! A Minnesotan who has never been “up North”!

The obligatory Paul and Babe visit.

The obligatory Paul and Babe visit.

Confession time: In my four decades of living only in Minnesota, it’s amazing that I have never been “up North” (the catch-all term for basically any place about two hours driving distance from the Twin Cities and further). OK, I’ve been up North, but only to the Arrowhead (Duluth, Ely, Grand Marais). I’ve been to North Dakota about three times, but I don’t…

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Death doesn’t stop commerce

Death doesn’t stop commerce

Photo Credit: RiOTPHOTOGRAPHY.com via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: RiOTPHOTOGRAPHY.com via Compfight cc

On Sunday, the Minneapolis StarTribune reprinted an op-ed that first appeared in the New York Times on July 12. The piece, by Ted Gup, was headlined “There’s Something Else: The Afterlife.”

Gup writes about the credit card offers, airline miles reminders, insurance offers via e-mail and even a notice for a delinquent tax that continued to pour in…

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Why writers should watch the Tour de France

Why writers should watch the Tour de France

Apologies, Talansky is back on his bike! But looks in tears… http://t.co/0INc0WMu6r
ITV Cycling (@itvcycling) July 16, 2014

Inspired by Tracy Lee Karner’s post about baseball and story:

As a writer, why I watch the Tour de France every year:

* Characters.These guys are characters in every sense of the word! To a certain degree, they have to have some ego in order to be successful. You don’t…

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Book tour, Rochester
Corridor leading to Rochester Public Library.

Corridor leading to Rochester Public Library.

Part of the mural in the corridor.

Part of the mural in the corridor.

I had to take a picture of the German part of the mural!

I had to take a picture of the German part of the mural!

I always like the discussions that occur during my book talks. In Rochester, we talked about the elegiac aspect of my book. I wanted to honor the time and place from which I came of age. I’m not that old, but the way of life in communities has changed so much…

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What about questions that have no answers?

What about questions that have no answers?

This documentary by Lina Makboul completely captivated me. I admire the filmmaker's quest to get answers to unanswerable questions.

This documentary by Lina Makboul completely captivated me. I admire the filmmaker’s quest to get answers to unanswerable questions.

I’m working on a project right now that doesn’t have any answers. So I’m in the midst of reading books and watching documentaries that similarly tackle biographies of complicated people whose actions cannot be easily explained.

I just watched a fascinating…

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Q: Where in Minnesota can you find relief from mosquitoes?

Q: Where in Minnesota can you find relief from mosquitoes?

The Root River in Lanesboro, Minnesota.

The Root River in Lanesboro, Minnesota.

A: Lanesboro! Legend has it that the fast-moving Root River and lack of places with standing water keep the mosquito population very low. Lanesboro is in the driftless area: few flat places for water to pool, unlike other parts of Minnesota. I was in Lanesboro on July 5 and while the mosquitoes and gnats were at their biting best in Mankato, I encountered…

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