Food: A tricky love affair

Food. I love it. I hate it. I hate how much I love it. Now that I’m staring middle-age square in the eye, food feels so much more complicated than it used to. When I was a kid and even through my twenties and thirties, food was easy. Hungry? Just eat. Want dessert? Sure, why not. Late night bowl of cereal? Go for it. I didn’t think about food because I didn’t need to. I’d lucked out with one of those young, speedy metabolisms that forgave most sins, even the ones including cheese dip or hot fudge. Then things changed. That dependable metabolism went from the roar of a fast motorcycle to the weak hum of a scooter that might […]

Skipping into new lives

When I was a kid, one of my favorite summer outings was to a swim park called Willow Springs. It was a man-made lake full of things to play on – springy diving boards, a rolling log, platforms, and slides. On two sides of the water, there was a grassy beach area on which to spread out towels, sunbathe or have a picnic. On the far side of the lake, a bright blue water slide snaked its way down a green hill. In short, it was kid nirvana. My older brother and I loved it – especially the toboggan ride. We’d never seen anything like it. Riders hoisted what looked like an oversized skateboard up a set of metal stairs […]

Letter to my iPhone…

Dear smartphone, You gave me a real scare yesterday. When I took you into the Apple repair shop, I figured some teenage tech wizard would wave a wand and fix the weird glitch you’ve had with your ringer these past few months. I’d been putting off having you repaired because I knew I’d have to leave you at the shop, and there was never a good time for us to be apart. But when your speakerphone started having the same weird glitch as the ringer, I knew what had to be done. The symptoms were getting worse. So, I hesitantly handed you over to the guy behind the counter, hoping he had experience with cases like this. I described your […]

To all the teachers I’ve loved before…

With less than two weeks to go before school starts again, kids have never been more interested in teachers than they are right now. They’re practically stalking them. This happens every year. A few days ago, my 15-year-old daughter told me she’s been doing research on a few of the teachers she’s scheduled to have. She texted friends the age-old question kids have been asking for years: “What do you know about Ms. So-and-So? Is she nice? Is she hard?” Then the friends text back with stories about “things they’ve heard.” I told my daughter to take these stories with a grain of salt, since teachers are often the targets of exaggerated or downright false rumors that circulate year in […]

Letter to my Ice, Ice, Baby

Dear Jack, You picked a good time to do a study abroad trip to Iceland. It’s so weird to know that one of my kids is on a remote island floating somewhere between the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. I’m glad I paid extra for the international phone plan so you can check in occasionally. Your latest text said the weather there in Iceland is “a bit chilly,” which honestly sounds amazing. I’m trying to remember what it even feels like to be a bit chilly. Here in the homeland, it’s roughly one million degrees Fahrenheit (which is actually one million twenty degrees when you factor in the humidity). Mother Nature is boiling mad at us. It’s like she stuck […]

Quiet is not weird

Despite what you might have heard, “quiet” is not weird. It’s not abnormal. It’s not suspicious. It’s not a threat. It is a personality trait common to at least half the population. But you might not realize that after watching news coverage about the recent string of horrific mass shootings. When reporters pass along descriptions of the shooter by acquaintances, they almost always say he was “quiet.” It’s the go-to word for the type of monster we’ve come to associate with human carnage. What I wish they’d remember to add to the reporting is this: People often say “quiet” when what they really mean is completely withdrawn. Someone who has cut themselves off from all human relationships. Someone who festered […]

House rules

There are rules here. Every household has them, some stricter than others. Without them, there’d be confusion, chaos, maybe even war. Some rules are big, like “We don’t call each other names – ever.” And “When one of us needs help, the rest of us show up.” But even the seemingly small rules are important when it comes to keeping the family peace. For example, this rule is wordy but worthwhile: “In this house, we put the new toilet paper roll on its dispenser because Mom is not the only one around here with working thumbs, and she is sick of finding a new roll sitting on top of the empty roll, as if we weren’t taught how to change […]

Generation gap on phone calls

One of the biggest differences between me as a 15-year-old girl and my present-day 15-year-old daughter is our experience with phone calls. I loved them because a huge chunk of my interaction with friends happened on the phone. But back then, we teens had to work hard to have private conversations. For most of the 1980s, my family had exactly one phone in the house. It was mounted to the wall between the kitchen and dining room, within earshot of the living room. The phone was a color called “harvest gold,” which meant it looked like old mustard. It had a long squiggly cord that was forever tying itself into knots. But if I pulled hard and uncoiled a few […]

Bold theories about crown shyness

I have a thing for trees. I’m a fan. An admirer. If trees were in a rock band, I’d follow them from city to city and stand in the front row of every concert. My thing for trees is not unlike other people’s attraction to seashells or sunsets, butterflies or beaches. For many of us, there’s a part of the natural world that captivates and demands attention. I gravitate to tree pictures and paintings. My kids regularly roll their eyes when I’m driving and suddenly point a finger and demand they look at an especially pretty tree. My tree thing goes way back, and my dad probably has something to do with it. He was a professional tree trimmer and […]

The furry graduate

Our 18-year-old son wasn’t the only family member who graduated this spring. But instead of a fancy diploma, the other “kid” got a Milk-Bone. He didn’t mind a bit. Our 15-year-old daughter, Kate, has a dog named Mac who came to live with us in February of last year. The 7-month-old goldendoodle showed the potential to become a service dog who could respond to Kate’s seizures and even detect an approaching seizure by scent. But first, he had to go to school. Because we were still neck-deep in the pandemic at that time, Kate and Mac attended service dog school via Zoom online training sessions. At least once every two weeks, we went online to meet with a dog trainer […]