2011 in Review: facts & figures

Hotel rooms occupied: 13

Flights taken: 19

Rental cars driven: 3

Roughly estimated number of book events: 21

Attendees at first Barnes & Noble event: 5

Attendees at second Barnes & Noble event: 125

Total pounds of butter churned at book events: about 4

Percentage of above flushed down hotel room toilets: 20

Estimated number of times Chris had to carry the butter churn to or from the car: 8

Public churning failures, attributed either to the half & half instead of cream or to improperly sealed container: 2

Pieces of storeboughten candy distributed at book events (approximately): 450

Instances in which I trekked down to WBEZ studios to remotely record content for public radio: 4

Instances in which I had to conduct a live radio interview via cell phone in a NYC cab stuck in traffic on the Willamsburg Bridge: 1

Words in The Wilder Life, not including front and back matter: 98,547

Words in The Wilder Life that are legally considered profanity, according to FCC guidelines: 3

Words in The Wilder Life legally considered profanity occuring in a quote attributed to Michael Landon: 1

Written complaints about “excessive profanity” in The Wilder Life, either by Amazon reviews or handwritten letters: 3

Highest Amazon sales rank: 104

Books ordered for relatives in fruitless attempt to bump sales rank into coveted top 100: 2

Seconds the animatronic figure of William Clark at the Museum of Western Expansion in St. Louis spends twitching: 25

YA manuscripts considered at day job: 41

Yards of bubble wrap accompanying wedding presents, estimated: 25

Minor finger injuries sustained while making brooch bouquet: 7,200

People who misheard the phrase “brooch bouquet” as “roach bouquet”: 5

People at our wedding who asked us, “Wow, who’s that guy with the kilt?” (It was Eben!): 8

Requests I have made to my husband to sing like Gordon Lightfoot: 11

Hours of delight this video, involving weird perspective and a very tiny complimentary soap in our hotel room in Minneapolis, has brought our household: MILLIONS:

I’ll stop here because I don’t think I could make a list long enough to convey what an incredible year 2011 has been.

And here’s to 2012—”this is now,” as they say, and may your now be a happy one.


  1. WM says

    STOREBOUGHTEN, Bob-With-a-Fake-Email-Address. From the MERCANTILE. What the hell else kind of candy am I going to give away at a Little-House themed event?

  2. says

    Wendy – I have enjoyed reading your book. It was prompted by reading through the Little House books with my three children. One thing I found funny was about your trip to the farm in ‘Southern Illinois’. I would like to say that a trip two hours from Chicago does not put you in Southern Illinois. Other than that little and probably only funny to me tidbit, thank you for opening my eye to facts that I had not known about L. I. W.

  3. CMF says

    Hi, bought your book at The Book Table (fiercely independent!) on Lake St. in Oak Park, where I moved from NYC earlier this year. I enjoyed your writing immensely. I lost my mom to cancer in 2007, so your journey ultimately went places that I felt I could appreciate. Mostly, I enjoyed your encounters with others who loved Laura as much as I once did, and grew up retaining such affection for her books. To this day, I “recall” things that happened in Ma and Pa’s house(s) as much as any memories of events in my own suburban Milwaukee house. Their resourceful solutions to domestic dilemmas made a big impression, apparently. Even now, one of my tricks to getting through a hard day raising young twins is to think of my grandmother (who raised 11 kids including twins in Minnesota during the depression) and how much easier I have it, and I kid you not, when that doesn’t work, I picture how Ma raised her girls with even fewer conveniences. Call it stress management for modern Ma’s. Your deep dive into Laura World was so funny and honest; I liked it more than Julie & Julia, which I’m sure foodies might not understand, but I’m no foodie. Just a onetime Prairie girl. Kudos! PS- I’ll be giving this book to friends I’ve known since childhood, and I’ll tie some colorful storeboughten candy on the ribbon when I wrap it.