My official job: cat warmer.
Their official job: Amy calmer.

I know it's been more than a week since I said I would update my blog. But do you ever get so overwhelmed by the beauty, pain and wonder of life that you just can't possibly distill it all into a couple of blog posts? Even if you have an English degree with a concentration in writing and have been a professional writer for 20 years? And even if you haven't?

Like - how do you do this, for example, then distill it, take photos of it, and then blog about it…

One night last week, all I wanted to do was take a long walk, take a long bath and then relax afterward with my blog. I'd written copy at work for 7 and a half hours straight. I felt cross-eyed and drained.

BUT - when I got home I noticed that Ethel's back patio was covered in leaves and she hates it when it's covered in leaves and she thinks she should rake it herself (you're 93 and use a walker - yeah, Ethel, why don't you just go out and rake…). So I raked.

THEN I talked Ethel into letting me take her garbage and recycling to the curb.

THEN Ethel told me to fill her birdbath. And take down the tomato cage. And water the hydrangea. And get rid of her scruffy geranium plant. So I did. (I love Ethel.)

THEN I started on my walk. A block and a half down, I saw my friend come tearing out of her house yelling for her 2-year-old son. She looked panicked. I ran over and helped her look for him. We found him right away. He was hiding behind the neighbor's garage, playing. Whew.

THEN a few blocks later a nice little cat ran toward me and wanted to be petted. So I did. THEN it started to follow me home. I talked with a variety of neighbors about who it belonged to. Finally found its owner. It's well taken care of, just likes to roam and is very friendly. And sooo cute…(I will not take another cat home. I will not take another cat home. I will not…)

THEN on my way home from the walk, another neighbor called and sounded frantic and asked me to help get her two kittens out of the basement ceiling - they got up there but couldn't get down. So I did.

The night was so apparently not about me and my walk and my bath. That's ok. Amy Kortuem, Neighborhood Caretaker to the rescue. It's a good job to have.

THEN I finally got home. I was running the bath water when I remembered a friend's book release party that night. I had only 30 minutes to get there, so I raced through my bath and went to the book party. My friend was was out of books by theme I got there, that's how well it went. I'm so happy for him.

THEN my good friend from high school texted me that she was stopping chemo and getting ready to move to hospice. Would I play "How Great Thou Art" at her funeral? Of course I will. (Oh, my heart.) And would I meet her next week at the local bar to talk about funeral music? Of course I will. (If you knew my friend, you'd know how perfectly "her" this is.)

THEN I came home and sat on my front step and stared out into the night. A friend came over while I was sitting there staring. I told her about everything, this whole list, as I stared.

"Wow, what a weekend," she said.
"No, it all happened tonight, since 5:00 p.m.," I said.
She didn't say anything more. Only looked at me. Then she offered me a beer she had in her purse. Seriously, if you have a day like that, you need people to offer you beer from their purses.

So my friends, I haven't been blogging. Because I've had many days like this in the past couple of weeks. And in between I've played for weddings and 25th anniversary events and arts magazine launches and met with my friend about her funeral music and…I'll tell you all about them. Sometime. Soon. I promise.

But right now, it seems that it's more important to take care of my neighborhood, my family, my Ethel, myself. I need a little couch time with cats when I take off my Amy Kortuem Neighborhood Caretaker cape. I just might need another week. Or so. Please don't give up on me! Promise?


  1. Barbara10/12/2012

    See? You are Angel on earth - and are loved for it. Never doubt.

    1. Thanks, my lovely friend! It's good work to do. Such good work.

  2. Susan P.10/12/2012

    Your tone is light, but the content is heartrending. Yet at times like these, I feel most alive, and most grateful to be so. Blessings on you as you find your way through nights and days.

    1. Thanks Susan. I ache with love for these people and this place. I really do. They give me more than I'll ever give them - this sense of belonging and acceptance and home.

    2. And in that, Susan, I just cannot write. I can only be and live. And that's what's right and most beautiful.

  3. wow wow wow
    if I walked around the block here 3 times nuttin' would transpire.
    I am grappling with painting 2 Brit teenagers, a Bronze lion statue, a teacup chichuahua, a cross-eyed cat + a Yorkie.
    AND a chocolate on a mini Eiffel Tower.
    Nothing like what's on you plate and it's all sitting in my studio meowing, barking and roaring!
    How ever did you take that picture or did you have outside help and not just a time-release?
    Keep truckin Amy

    1. My friend (with the beer in her purse) took this shot.

  4. PS
    That's a nice looking sofa!

  5. I was googling around looking at harp carts and stumbled across this page! After reading what you wrote, I thought, "I LOVE this gal!" What a soul you have and what love and generosity toward your neighbors! They obviously love you, too! It sounds as though you are a wonderful example of "blessed to be a blessing!" Let me add that it seems you know what's important and how to balance all the plates you are trying to twirl!
    Thanks for sharing,
    p.s. I love Ethel, too! I know a few like her....God bless her! : ) Sure wish you lived down the street from me!

    1. Hi Allison! So nice of you to stop by off the Google highway and visit my blog. I'm hoping you found the info you needed on harp carts. What kind of harp do you play?

      Thanks for your kind words...I do really have a full and beautiful life.

      And the house across the street is for sale...so we could be neighbors if you want to make a move to North Mankato, Minnesota!

  6. Just jogged over to your blog from Alicia Paulson's . . . so impressed with you. What a full life indeed! Love your evening of neighborhood rescues . . . and blessings for helping your friend with music at her funeral. Wow. That blows me away.

    Love your black kitty. Mine is black, too. Daisy.

    Anyway, had to comment.

    1. Hi Katie - Thanks for your kind words. Life can be crazy in a good way!

      Thanks for stopping by, too. I'm devoted to Alicia's blog, too!

  7. Wow that was quite a weekend! Love your cats, I just have one kitty now, Phoebe, and she is rather poorly right now so we are both keeping each other warm with cuddles! Nice to have found your blog today, Catherine x

    1. Hi Catherine, thanks for stopping by!

      I hope Phoebe is feeling better soon. My cats are certainly keeping me warm as the weather gets colder and colder here in Minnesota!

      I’ll be updating my blog early this week, I hope. I hope you stop back often!