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these days

2017 November 3
by Rachel Turiel

Things are changing fast here.

One day our cottonwood was a mesmerizing halo of yellow. The next, undressed by wind, it dropped acres of fragrantly shriveled leaves to the ground. (Which the kids then track onto the floor, into our bed. Dan advises, “Just don’t look down.”)

Recently, I noticed a brand new smattering of freckles sun-brushed across Col’s nose. Rose is growing like some magician implanted extendo-legs in her femurs. My foster dog pusher (it feels like that; sometimes I text her in the throes of dog-withdrawal: “got anything for me?”) brought over a pitbull, and I recoiled at the sight of her, and then within two days was ready to go on the road as spokesperson for the breed.

And, other things are reassuringly the same. The cold frames are planted. There’s a buck deer head in our shed around which Rose navigates her bike huffily every morning. Dan remains my dream-mate, bringing home meat and doing laundry. Recently, Col was looking for an eraser, reached under the couch and retrieved one. A new foster puppy is currently snoozing in the sun.

Jazzlyn the Pitty showing her true nature.

I got to help pack out Dan’s buck deer, my favorite kind of work.

We butchered most of an elk and all of a deer while the kids were at school. They’d come home to find us whittling on animal legs and wistfully remember when they were around to help butcher. Which is to say, their lives seem to be getting more conventional while Dan and I are working from home, projecting personalities onto the crows in our backyard. Also, when Col found out Dan cut his finger and required stitches in the ER, he said “why didn’t you come get me at school?”

Russian Spy spotted in Trump Tower.

See? Conventional. Minus the fish tie.

Player #47

We spent last weekend in Grand Junction at Rose’s soccer tournament, which felt like arriving at a new manifestation of grown up, what with staying in a hotel, reading maps, and trying to follow a sport that doesn’t involve books. Watching Rose’s fierce and lovely team play, I vacillated between edge-of-my-seat tense excitement and wondering if I’m inappropriately invested. (Really, what’s it like for you all to watch your kids play competitive sports?) Her team made it to the championships and after tying their final game I said to Dan “Why is the other team celebrating while our team is so glum?” Turns out Rose’s team lost because that goal I was still celebrating was actually offsides, which is an advanced and baffling soccer faux pas, (which the ref apparently called immediately in voodoo hand signs) and I missed entirely. Which is to say, I haven’t quite hit maximum grown up-ness.

As for sports that I understand, I just finished some excellent books. Judith Newman’s memoir To Siri With Love about her twin teenage boys, one of whom is on the spectrum, was the rawest, most truthful, hopeful and funny love letter to her sons. The gist of which is that we’re all raising our own particular brand of odd, imperfect and precious human (though Newman acutely more so) and to see and love them for who they are is the most holy of ordinary acts.

And, this novel was stunning. Such flawed, lovable and relatable characters. The writing is beautiful and the author creates Seinfeld-esque funny scenes.

The kids and I are savoring Catherine Newman’s first young adult novel, One Mixed Up Night. We’ve all laughed aloud (repeatedly), and I’ve teared up, and the book is just so fun to read. Lively and funny and fast-paced and suspenseful and Frankie’s voice just rings so true for this age group (9-14) , even if I’m like “hey – why aren’t my kids this nice and ethical?”

Oh, and this gorgeous memoir about a woman’s illness and the wild snail—no joke—that keeps her company and provides inspiration through her convalescence. I know, it doesn’t sound like a page-turner, but it’s a deeply captivating and reassuring reminder of human resilience and curiosity.

Just saying.

What are you all reading?

With love,


5 Responses leave one →
  1. November 4, 2017

    I feel so sad that I can’t be there to watch it all unfold. Remember, you saw us in our “elder years” helping Rosie get ready for prom? Thank you for sharing your heart and your love for life and your family. God bless you all real good!

  2. Lindsey permalink
    November 9, 2017

    Thanks for the book recs – always appreciated.

    A bit late to the party I know, but currently reading I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb. Liking it so far.

    On the topic of memoirs, have you read Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed? I absolutely loved it. So, so moving.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      November 9, 2017

      Loved both of those books so much. I thought Tiny Beautiful Things was even better than her mega-bestseller.

      • Lindsey permalink
        November 13, 2017

        Agree! It’s one of those books I keep coming back to over and over.

        I Know This Much Is True is a hard read for me, but it’s the type of book I think about throughout my day and look forward to reading at night.

        Keep the recs coming! :)

  3. November 18, 2017

    love knowing what you’re reading. i am in the middle of ann patchett’s books of essays “this is the story of a happy marriage”. i like it!

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