Would you Rather…

My sisters and I occasionally have a discussion around “rathers”. We will say things like “Would you rather have an infestation of fleas in your house or have 10 mice?” Or we might say “Would you rather have one large snake loose in your house or a thousand cock roaches?” Personally, I would always choose anything over fleas and bugs. I have encountered a flea infestation and it is pure misery. I could not walk from my bed to my bathroom (about five steps) in the middle of the night, without three or four of the little boogers attaching to my ankles.

But let’s talk mice. I have, for the last couple of months, seen ‘evidence’ of mice activity. The first I noticed was in my pantry. Horrid! So I emptied the whole thing and scrubbed every shelf with hot, disinfecting soapy water. I then saw ‘evidence’ underneath my sink and in the top of my trash can. I do not understand how mice can jump into a trash can, but honestly, I do not want to know. 

My son, Noah, has found ‘evidence’ in his bedroom, which is a large room, previously part of the garage. I’m wondering if perhaps the insulation is not as great out there or easier access or something…

Two nights ago one chunky mouse ran across the floor. I, of course, screamed as if it were an anaconda wrapping itself around my legs.

After putting out a sticky trap (which is an awful invention), the next morning we discovered a small mouse stuck in the thick, gooey gunk. It was still alive. Horrid! 

I will now be purchasing old-fashioned traps so that the unsuspecting (chunky) mouse, anticipating a late-night peanut butter snack, will not know what hit it. Though that is certainly an unpleasant thought, those sticky things are torturous, for mouse and human. 

My husband is a bit perplexed when I ask him if there isn’t a way to simply catch the mice and drive them far out to a nice field and set them free? In his oh so famous way, he says “Now come on, Beck. You know we can’t do that.” It is always worth an ask. 

These “rathers” that my sisters and I talk about remind me of another “rather” game that is often mixed into normal conversation of kids. It is those question of asking “Would you rather lose your hearing or your sight?” Or “Would you rather have an arm cut off or a leg cut off?” On a lighter note, I remember talking with girls on the playground and asking things like “Would you rather marry a prince or an astronaut?” And “Would you rather live on a farm with horses or on the top floor of a fancy apartment building in New York City?” When you are a kid, you just assume that one of those options will present itself.  

It is interesting how we formulate our “rathers”. It seems we continue those conversations throughout our lives, though when we are all grown up and sophisticated, they become internal questions.

For tonight, I would rather my mice go away. 


A few of my favorite humans. I have more, lots more, but here are a few that gathered this morning as one sweet newlywed couple began the long trek cross-country to Seattle. That is a lot of miles to put between us. It is a lot of pavement and trees and mountains and plains. It is a lot of road signs and trucks and hotels and McDonalds. It is a lot of coffee and granola bars and trail mix and apples. It is a lot of nights and days and nights. 

We held on to them tightly and then put them into their car and truck with reminders of safety and promises to check in and some spontaneous tears. All weekend I had been biting my lip to keep them away but it all got real this morning and the hot water in my eyes, piped in from my heart, could not be contained. 

These two make us better. Not that, as a family, we are not pretty great in our separateness, because we are. But when they are with us and we are all together, the pieces fit and we make a beautiful puzzle of love. 

My hope is continued abundance for my family. Abundance in numbers, in depth and gratitude, in emotional, mental, and spiritual wholeness, and abundance relationally. 

Tonight you are in Kansas City. You have crossed one time zone. By tomorrow night you will be in another. And then another. 

When you awaken next week at 7:00 a.m., I will be on my second cup of coffee at 10, having had my morning devotions, perhaps yoga and well into my work day. By 11:00 p.m., I will be fading as I try to stay awake to catch the weather on the local news. You may be finishing up a work day or chatting around the dinner table, or on a bike ride at the park. I will miss being ‘together’ with you at lunch time and early morning and Friday night pizza.

But love is bigger and love is stronger than time zones and mountains and plains. And the miles between us are lovely ribbons that bind us and keep us and tether our hearts.

It is nearly 10:30. I must floss and brush and wash my face and apply hopeful, youthful night cream. You two are probably finishing up your evening coffees, having picked them up from a local KC coffee shop, and checking into your Airbnb, tired from a day of travel.

Rest well, my darlings. Tomorrow is another day of hitting the pavement and adding up the miles, every rotation of the tires sealing and smoothing that lovely ribbon.

Biting the Bullet

This morning I had the pleasure of having breakfast with my sisters. I have several dear sisters in the Lord and they are indeed sisters to me. But this morning was the blood kind, the ones who know you through and through, the ones reared by the same dad and and who lost that dad at far too young an age, the ones who understand the struggles with Mama.

We went to my fave Northstar. It did not disappoint. Never does. Organic eggs, perfect sausage, house-baked fluffy biscuits with house-made blackberry jam, in-front-of-your-eyes freshly squeezed orange juice, hot coffee. Yep.

We had good conversation. As mentioned in an earlier blog post, I am the middle of the three sisters. The middle is well….the middle. We do things that middle kids do. Though, I do not want to pigeon-hole myself. Geez, that is a middle kid thing to say.

I noticed that three times during my segment of the conversation I used the phrase “I’m going to bite the bullet and…” whatever it was I was speaking of at that moment.

To “bite the bullet” is to endure a painful or unpleasant situation that is seen as unavoidable.

The phrase was first recorded by Rudyard Kipling in his 1891 novel The Light that Failed.

It was suggested in the movie Bite the Bullet that biting the bullet meant using a shell casing to cover an aching tooth, especially one that had been broken, and where a nerve is exposed. In the film, the slug was removed from the bullet, the cap was hit to expend that charge, and the casing was cut down to allow it to sit level with the other teeth. Interesting.

Another meaning of the phrase is to accept unpleasant consequences of one’s assumed beliefs.

Reflecting on our conversation, I am trying to remember of which subject I was apparently adamant enough about to bite a bullet.

I believe all three had to do with my house. We are in the middle of a remodel. We have been in the middle of a remodel of some kind for 22 years. That is not hyperbole.

One of the bullet points (pun intended), was about getting an estimate for a new heating and cooling system in our 50 year-old house. It has never had central air so the current ‘cooling’ system is fanning oneself with the church bulletin. Okay, that might be hyperbole. We do have a couple of window/wall units that keep the house mostly tolerable in the summer.

I am very hopeful that after biting the bullet on a few things, there will be only pleasant consequences of assumed beliefs. Otherwise, I am going to need dentures.

Old China/New Style

Does anyone use china anymore? I have two large sets of china in boxes in my basement, sets that belonged to Mike’s dear grandmothers, respectively. I’m not completely sure how I ended up with all of it. It is nice to have but I also don’t want it to simply sit wrapped in newsprint, stacked in boxes.

A couple of months ago we had a slow but steady spray of water leakage from our hot water heater. Over time, it totally drenched my boxes on the large shelving unit next to the hot water heater. Some of those boxes held the china. We set them on the floor to dry out a bit and knew the cleanup was a big job that would need attention at some point.

Well, that point arrived today. We have been working in the basement in order to create easier access to the electric since we are remodeling the kitchen. Let me rephrase that, our dear friend, Phil, needed easier access to our electric. What a friend he is. Pure gold.

While clearing out space to work, we saw those, now dry but yucky cardboard boxes that needed to have the china taken out, washed and stored somewhere else. That somewhere else would be my new and spacious cabinets in my bigger kitchen. Nice!

Mama is with me today. She loves to work. I figured the timing was right to wash those boxes of china and let her dry every piece. And that is exactly what we spent about two hours doing. Washing, drying then finding new homes for those old and sentimental sets of china.

They are now ‘literally’ sparkling clean and ready for use. When will I use them? They are lovely. One set is soft white/gray with darker gray edgings of leaves and dandelion puffs. The other set is pure white with edgings of deep pink roses.

When I first moved into my house, 21 years ago, I had a formal dining room with Mike’s grandparent’s cherry Queen Anne style tables and chairs and china closet. We used it for years and it was beautiful. Mike’s grandmother had done the needlepoint on the seats of all of the chairs. Very special.

Our most recent update to the kitchen is open and contemporary and hosts a very big island. When all of the family is in, we spend most of our time gathered in the kitchen around that island. It is definitely the heart of our home.

But now….can I ever have a formal dinner party and use that beautiful china, sitting around an island with tall bar chairs? It just doesn’t seem to go together. I’m in a kerfuffle.

It’s a new season in the world. It seems that we can decorate any way we like – eclectic, mix and match furniture styles and wood finishes. Wear whatever we want – any skirt length works, white is no longer a faux pas after Labor Day and yoga pants are accepted as dress code nearly everywhere.

Perhaps it’s only a new season for me, being 60. If I want to host a dinner party for 12 and sit around my big island eating lasagna off of Grandma Hendrixson’s fine bone china, wiping our mouths with white linen napkins, so be it. This is my home and I have worked hard on it for 21 years.

As my oldest son, Andrew, says: “Own it.” If I ‘own it’ and carry it off with (attempted) style and grace, maybe I can combine the old with the new and somehow bring Grandma ‘H’ together with my dearest and best group of friends. I can almost hear her giggle.






Thanks, France

National French Toast Day. The history of French toast goes back to the 15th century English court of Henry V, when a version of French toast was the culinary rage. It was originally called “pain perdu” which means “lost bread” because the recipe called for soaking hard or stale or “lost” bread in a mixture of milk and egg, then frying.

I remember French toast as a child. I do not remember the specifics of making it. I only knew that egg and bread and syrup were involved. What’s not to love?

My husband is definitely not a cook. However, there are a couple of things that he “claims”. One of them is French toast. When we were newly married, I made us French toast one morning for breakfast. He (lovingly, because that is how you say things when you are newlyweds) said that the French toast was a bit too “eggy”. So, like a good, young married woman would say, I (lovingly, of course) told him that he could make it next time (smiling the entire time, at least on the outside.)

So he did. And it was better than mine (crap!) He made the egg mixture, but added additional milk. He also added a half cup of sugar and some vanilla. He cooked it a bit longer than I would have and it was golden brown and crispy. Dare I say, perfect? Nah. He slid that lovely toast onto a plate and slathered it with real butter, powdered sugar and WARM syrup. Okay, maybe it was perfect.

I have since made my French toast exactly that way. It is a Hendrixson house favorite. Occasionally he will step in and slip on the chef’s hat. And when he does, he calls it French toast “Dad’s style”. I allow him to revel in his moment of glory. And I just smile (on the outside and inside) as I sink my teeth into truly glorious French toast.

The next time he makes French toast I will simply say “merci mille fois”, which means “a thousand thanks”. If he starts answering me in French, I am going to be really mad.



















Beauty in the Messes

In the midst of a mess, we must still find beauty.

The Hendrixson family is known for beginning a major home project before Thanksgiving. That is good and that is bad. We talk about a remodel and then get extremely enthusiastic about it mid October. It sounds so doable then.

This year we decided to knock down a wall and expand our kitchen into our non-dining, dining room. In true pollyanna style, we were certain all would be beautifully completed by November 23. It is November 21. Unless the tale of The Elves and the Shoemaker is true and that tale could be twisted into The Elves and the Kitchen Maker, we are sunk.

The wall is down. The new drywall has been (laboriously) nailed up by Mike and me. The new floor is mostly down. Done? Far, far, far from it.

I’ve had moments of frustration, disappointment, late nights and sore shoulders.

Today I was cleaning up so that I can clean. Only those who have worked on their own homes, understand that. Shop vac-ing sawdust and wood shavings. Removing a layer of dusty snow from EVERYTHING. Finding a place for three hammers and four wonder bars and seven screwdrivers and power tools and levels and drop cloths and saws and hundreds of nails and multiple pencils.

And there in the middle of it all, sat a glass vase of lovely sunny yellow flowers.

And it reminded me that in the midst of a room remodel and large mess and large frustration, is a lovely, strong family who are incredible humans.

Thanksgiving is 27 hours away. I have 55 guests arriving to sit down for a feast. My ceiling is open to wooden studs. No trim. No paint. And for a cherry on top, my bathroom is not yet finished from last Thanksgiving’s project.

But my house will be filled with laughter and hugs and warmth and so very, very, very much love. In the midst of a mess, I will still find beauty.



We are putting down new flooring in our kitchen. With crowbar and wonder bar and hammer we pull up and break up and take up the old flooring, which was new to us 21 years ago. How excited we were to lay that golden wheat colored laminate wood floor.

So many hours of cooking and clean up and talking and standing and sweeping and spills and mopping and stomping on that floor.

And now this one. Wide planks. Dark richness. Beautiful and new.

In 21 years who will be taking up that floor? How many footsteps will have tread there? How many spills and tumbles and slips and slides?

In 21 years I will be 81 years old. I don’t know how I will feel about some young whippersnapper sixty year old tearing up my floor.

I hope that food and drink and memories will have been created there. I hope that bellies and hearts will have been filled there. And I hope that life, seasoned with love, will have been tasted there.

Welcome, new floor. May we wear you well.


My Stuff

Home is a good place to be, in spite of my struggle with this house. Home is where my heart is housed. My safety is locked up in the eyes and arms and smiles of those I love. My stuff is here. We develop such a connection to our things. For me, it is truly not an idol thing. I do not worship my stuff. I do not “need” it. I simply find comfort in it. I putz around with my jewelry. It is not expensive. It is just what I have collected, pieces that have caught my eye, meant something to me. I put my clothes and socks away and unpack my cosmetic bag and hair dryer and curling iron and brush and comb. They are not completely organized. They are not completely convenient. But they are mine and knowing the familiarity is there and my stuff is where I am used to seeing it, well…there is some weird satisfaction with that. As I age, I do want to be mindful to not let those comfortable habits become rigid ones. I know I must remain flexible and nimble and that will serve me well as I continue on this journey of perceived consistency.