A Thanksgiving experiment

This morning I took the dogs out and noticed a distinct change from yesterday. The leaves, which had been falling in an occasional sprinkle, have now ramped up to a steady shower. One of the things we love about this little cul-de-sac where we live is that it’s chock full of trees, so fall brings a blizzard of activity. I walked down the driveway and let my feet bulldoze the leaves into little piles, enjoying the loud rustling sound and the way the leaves carpet the lawn in a layer of golden yellow and cocoa brown, pierced with a flash of orange and deep red here and there. When I’m out there, I like to step on the acorns littering [...]

21 things I’m more thankful for

To celebrate Thanksgiving 2021, here are 21 things the pandemic has made me more thankful for this year: 21) Movie theatres: I didn’t realize how much I’d miss sitting in a big room with that larger-than-life screen and eating popcorn with strangers who are just as excited as I am to be in a theatre again. 20) Streaming movies at home: For those times when you just don’t feel like leaving home base. 19) Hugs: I’ve never been much of “a hugger” but I’m beginning to change my mind. The pandemic has made the benefits of physical connection clearer than ever. 18) A deep breath, a clear head, and energy for the day: I know people who survived Covid but [...]

These visitor goggles seem dirty

This column isn’t about beer goggles, but let’s start there. Just in case you’ve never worn them or heard the term, here’s a quick definition. “Beer goggles” refers to the way people and sometimes ideas look more attractive when you’ve been drinking as opposed to how they look when your brain is working. As a person who prefers Chick-fil-a tea over beer any day, I don’t know much about beer goggles. But I’m fast becoming an expert at wearing “visitor goggles.” The experience of wearing visitor goggles happens when a big group of friends or relatives is about to come to your house for a holiday – like Thanksgiving. Suddenly everything looks different when you begin to see it as [...]

Great Barbecue Heist of 2021

One day last week, I took my mother Christmas shopping because news anchors say all the stores may run out of everything any day now. Supply chains are apparently tied in knots. So Mom and I shopped. And then, as is tradition, we ate. It was a lovely day, until the crime spree began. But first I should back up to the lovely lunch. Mom wanted to try a barbecue restaurant she’d heard wonderful things about, so we headed to the next town to try it. Even at slightly past 1:30 in the afternoon, the place was still full of customers and the parking lot was packed – always a good sign. We each ordered a plate of barbecue along [...]

3 things scaring me this month

I’ll admit I still don’t understand people who “love to be scared.” I try to wrap my head around it because my three teenagers feel that way about movies. The more a movie makes them flinch or gasp, the more they love it. I’ve tried watching scary movies with our kids, but mostly I end up holding my hands in front of my eyes, cringing away from the screen and asking the kids to tell me when it’s safe to look. As for haunted houses, I’m a hard “no.” If I want to see a few creepy strangers, I can do it during a routine trip to the grocery store. I’m not paying money to have them pop out and [...]

Three solid tips to help you write better

I’m never going to be an expert. I’ve accepted it. The three things I spend the most time doing – being a wife, a mom and a writer – are just too vast for me to figure out how to do them just right. When I was younger, I thought by now I would’ve analyzed every angle and developed the perfect formula for my life’s work. But lately I’ve realized there is no expert level. There are too many words in the world and too many ways to string them together. My 17-year-old son is writing an essay for his college application this month, and he, too, is feeling the weight of words. It’s not easy to sum up what [...]

Life on four wheels

I’m writing today’s column on a laptop wedged between my belly button and the steering wheel. It’s not the first and won’t be the last time my office goes mobile as I type in the one shady spot of a Chick-fil-A parking lot. I can practically smell the waffle fries from here. Like most parents, I’ve learned to take work with me during the countless trips to drop off my 14-year-old daughter at various after-school activities. For at least three days of the workweek, I shuttle her to play practice on the other side of town at the busiest time of day. It’s a two-hour rehearsal, and I know from experience that dropping her off and driving back across town [...]

Do dogs have snooze buttons?

I got a late start today. I’d blame the alarm app on my phone, but that one went off on time. It’s the hairy alarm clock who slept through his job. When Mac the Goldendoodle moved into our house, he decided to sleep in my bed. Maybe he did it because Cooper the Corgi also sleeps in my room, although he has always preferred the solitude of his own crate in the corner, where no one will roll over and disturb him. But Mac is a people dog. He wants to be right next to or draped across people and may, in fact, believe he’s a person. He starts the night on the bed and then moves to the floor. [...]

Wife welcomes back Fall boyfriend

“Ah, there you are.” Last night’s thunderstorm brought rumbles of his arrival. I went to sleep hoping for the long-awaited return. Like a sweetheart coming home after a long trip overseas, autumn is officially back. And I’m falling for him all over again. The storm was over by morning. When I woke up and stepped outside with the dogs, we could feel the shift in temperature. The dogs sniffed and wiggled their black noses into the noticeably cooler breeze. They looked at the sky and then back to me as if to say, “Well, this is different.” Gone was yesterday’s stale, humid air. I was glad to see it go. My relationship with summer was hot, but like most intense [...]

The day that wouldn’t load

When I was a kid, our family had this old Zenith television that got glitchy on occasion. It would sometimes roll the picture or show nothing but black and white snow, and it had a knack for doing this right in the middle of The Incredible Hulk or Dallas, just when things got exciting. Having already fiddled with various cables trailing from the TV, one day my dad simply made a fist and pounded it once right on top. The screen stopped rolling and went back to its regularly scheduled programming. With wide eyes, my brother and I assumed this was some kind of grown-up dark magic. Dad had literally beaten the TV into submission. He strutted back to his [...]