Side Trip To Iowa




weight training
This is a giant block of whatever is most difficult for you to carry & trust me on this, you’ll carry it more times than you can count until you decide that’s exactly what you want to do most & then it won’t weigh a thing anymore. ~ Brian Andreas



This story speaks to me so deeply, and has for years. Brian wrote it in 2002, and I may have ordered it immediately; I don’t remember. It seemed to represent everything, you know? Life.

Over the years it’s gotten more specific for me….Tom’s death, problems with my son, my drinking, and it always just comes back to life, right? There are days still when I do not want to carry that weight,this life, but more often than not I do…I’m aware that I am carrying it, that it’s hard, and that it’s the same for all of us.

I have a number of his prints, mostly sad ones. They helped me with my grief;  his stories made so much sense to me at the time. I can track  my grief through them…maybe that will be another post. But his work means a great deal to me.

I write about this today because it’s a continuation of my  vacation story.

Brian and I have been in contact for years; first through a Story People chat board, where I met some fabulous people (who still keep in touch with) and where he would jump in occasionally. Then we took it to twitter, because he’d occasionally post new things there. Now Instagram is a font of his new work….I highly suggest following him if you like his stories.

We’ve Dm’d each other like crazy on twitter…long 140 character conversations. We’ve chatted on the phone; he even tried to explain something internet related to me (futile). We’ve talked about  meeting for coffee…he lived in Santa Barbara most of the year and Iowa (where his workshop is, in Decorah) other times. He traveled a lot for signings, for guest residencies…all sorts of things. but  Santa Barbara ..seriously, it’s like an hour drive from me! but it never happened.

I was commenting on an instagram he had posted and mentioned my upcoming Minnesota trip and he told me he had moved permanently to Iowa. Well, Decorah is a 3 hour (beautiful ) drive from Minneapolis, and so it seemed logical to me that meeting him so far from home was perfect. This way I not only got to finally meet Brian in the flesh(he’s long been lumped in my imaginary friend group), but I got to see the town (adorable), the workshop (bustling) and a glimpse into new stories and ventures.

I admit to some trepidation…I’ve long admired this guy. But  I figured neither one of us is good at small talk so it would be great or end badly, and we could always resort to the 140 character kind of talking if it got hard.  It really was. awesome. Not an awkward moment.  I met the staff, I looked a new ideas, we went down to the “vault” to check out merchandise. I got a great glimpse into the daily operations of the company and the daily imagination and working of Brian’s mind.




When we went to lunch we sat, eating and talking about plans and dreams, like old friends. There was plenty to talk about, none of it small or boring. After lunch, at my urging, we talked to someone about one of his plans….we just did it (would that I found it so easy to do that kind of thing for myself!).

Anyway, it was a truly magical visit and I am so grateful we never got together under other circumstances….it was fabulous being in Decorah.


AND…there were some fun and expected extras that happened on the drive.

One was that, as I drove happily along on the beautiful 2 lane HWY, suddenly, right in front of me I saw a buggy and Amish people!  Amish people!  I know about the Amish, i’ve seen pics,  watched documentaries and movies, but in real life? This was amazing! And I saw a lot of them, trotting in their buggies alongside the rode. There were even little road signs stating “Amish byway”. It was pretty exiting for this California kid.

Then, on the road into Decorah I had to make a fast (probably dangerous) u-turn because I saw a sign to the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum.

Seriously? Little House on the Prairie? Aw…..Half-pint!

I was disappointed that it wasn’t open but I got a picture.


No Amish pictures,  I’m told that’s not done. You’re just gonna have to take my word, although the temptation to pull over and ask them to pose was palpable.  I was happy to have the answer to all the piles of horse poop on the sides of the road though…Amish!

It was a brilliant day, a long and beautiful ride, Amish! Laura!!

And, the best,  Brian!

What an adventure!



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  1. As I went to hit the facebook button, I thought, facebook is about others. I wanted to put myself first. So I walked the dog & blogged. That reminded me of your giving up facebook – have you stayed off?
    I just drove that section of southern Mn northern Iowa last month. It is spectacular. Horse & buggy were common in west Bloomington when I was growing up. Hard to imagine now!! That Colony land was sold for condos.

    • I am, happy to report, still off FB and love it!
      You’re right, it IS about others, and comparing and wishing…I’m happier to be in my own life, thank you very much!

      That drive was so beautiful…really a treat!

  2. I always loved Almonzo.

    • he was sweet!
      My sister told me last night that some friends of hers have 2 daughters and one summer vacation they followed the entire path of her life through the states!
      Those are some lucky kids and awesome parents.

  3. So cool to meet a long time internet friend! I’ve met one twice (she circles through KC every few weeks) and it was awesome! I totally understand the trepidation part – most of us are introverts with keyboards…it’s often a quiet real-life conversation.
    It makes me tingly to know that you were in Iowa! I work in Iowa! I see Amish people all of the time. If you ever come back out to the Midwest, I will come find you. xo

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