Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Homemade pizza is back on the menu July 13, 2017

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FOR THE FIRST TIME in seven weeks, I made homemade pizza. But this was not your ordinary pizza. This pizza represented something much more than food to fill the belly on a Saturday evening. The pizza I crafted signifies healing.

I have reached the point in recovery from a broken right shoulder that I no longer feel the need to clamp my arm protectively to my side. I am reaching, pulling, even eating with my right hand. I am free of my arm sling except to sleep and to use in crowded public places.

I figure if moving my arm doesn’t hurt, then I’m OK doing whatever. So far, so good. I’m doing laundry, washing dishes and making pizza, with some assistance from the husband.

This Friday I start physical therapy. I am ready and could have begun 10 days ago had an opening been available. My goal is to lift 21 lbs, 10 oz., the current weight of my 15-month-old granddaughter, ASAP. I miss cuddling Izzy. Realistically, I expect I won’t be holding Isabelle for quite some time without supervision. But I need a goal, right?

My short term goal is to pull a t-shirt over my head, to dress my upper body by myself. I’d also like to use my Canon DSLR camera soon. I am passionate about photography and really miss that creative outlet. Sure I’ve been using my smartphone. But even that is challenging and the results not nearly as good as those of a DSLR.


Up until my fall and resulting broken shoulder, I crafted homemade pizza every Friday evening, always served with mugs of icy beer.


When I consider how much I’ve improved since May 22, the day I missed a step on a hospital stairway and fell while on my way to donate blood, I am amazed. My post injury exhaustion and need for daily naps have vanished. Sore muscles have replaced pain. My once purple, yellow and green arm is now almost free of bruises. I am healing. I can feel it in the handles of a rolling pin as I work dough across a floured board. And I can taste it in a bite of fresh pizza spread with homemade pizza sauce and sprinkled with Italian sausage, mushrooms, mozzarella and slips of fresh basil and oregano clipped from plants potted in my backyard.


SORT OF RELATED, because I fell on my way to donate blood…please consider donating blood to the Red Cross if you are able. The current shortage of blood is termed critical. I’ve been bombarded with emails requesting that I donate. I need to check with my doctor whether I can resume donating. By giving blood, you may save a life. Blood transfusions saved my mom’s life about a decade ago. I am grateful to those many many donors.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Color away the stress April 5, 2016

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ONE EVENING LAST WEEK, I was seriously stressed.

When I’m deeply worried, time seems to pause and hover. I can’t focus enough to read a book or even a magazine. I can’t follow the storyline of a TV show. Any conversation seems rather meaningless and trivial.

But I had to manage. I needed something to busy my hands. Something to do while I waited for a text or phone call. The solution was only a couch cushion away. Inserted in my local daily newspaper was a 15-page coloring book for adults. That would do.


Coloring book, 24 pencils and page


I headed upstairs to dig out a box of colored pencils. And then I settled onto the end of the couch, box splayed open next to my cell phone.


Coloring book, 26 close-up


As I chose colors and began methodically coloring petals on a page imprinted with florals, I felt the tension ease. There’s something soothing about the rhythm of coloring. It’s effect is akin to watching flames dance in a campfire, listening to water gurgle or rocking back-and-forth in a chair. All are comforting. Repetitive.


Coloring book, 28 floral close-up


Adult coloring books are all the rage right now as folks discover their calming value. But I wonder, if I remembered how to crochet, would the results be the same?

TELL ME, WHAT HANDS-ON activity works to calm you? And what are your thoughts on the adult coloring book phenomenon?

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling