A fish story

Every summer, my mother packed my bag and dropped me off on my grandparents’ farm with a week’s worth of travel-size cereal boxes and a can of bug spray. I was about 7 years old, and during my second day there, Grandpa announced we were going fishing. I’d never been fishing before, and I’m sure he felt it was his duty as a grandpa to teach his descendants the fine art of sitting in a boat for hours, waiting for fish to bite. He packed up our poles while Grandma tied an oversized sun hat on my head to protect my ivory skin which already had a smattering of freckles. We picked up Grandma’s sister, Aunt Eunice, and the four […]

The Trash Dragon Cometh

My warning bark pierced the morning stillness. From my defensive position by the front window, I could see and hear the beast approaching. My furry legs are short, but my ears are mighty. I’m built for a job such as this. My canine comrades rushed to my side and saw the imminent danger. The big one let loose a string of deep, baritone woofs, and the beagle joined in with his signature howl. Our people, who are groggy and slow in the mornings, winced and covered their tiny ears. Then they glanced out the window and joined our barking, except their human barks sounded more like “Hush!” and “No!” and “For God’s sake, stop it already!” We try to model […]

Consequences of being dumb in the 80s

Maybe it’s hormonal. Just another cruelty in a long list of hormonal pranks the female body plays on innocent middle-aged women like me. But part of me wonders if I’m being forced to pay for the sins of my youth. When I was a 13-year-old girl in the 80s, I did dumb things, as most of us did. Keep in mind there was no Google. No dermatologists on Instagram warning us not to be idiots. We just did things we saw other people doing, and we figured it was fine. So, my friends and I – who wanted nothing more than to look like a Coppertone cover girl – laid out by the community pool or in the backyard on […]

Choose your chunk to clean this spring

The buds are blooming, the grass is greening, and my nose is sneezing, so it must be spring. And since nature is sprucing itself up so nice and pretty, it feels like I ought to do a little sprucing inside, too. But this year I just can’t commit to traditional spring cleaning. It feels too big, too complicated, too hard. I’d love to have the energy for it, but I just don’t. So, I’m taking some advice I read in a recent New York Times article that recommends breaking up a big chore into smaller chunks – a bite-size chore, if you will. Last weekend, I chose my chunk – the wasteland of forgotten bottles, bins, and bags festering under […]

VIMAH is the worst

Some of the harshest words ever said to me never made a sound. Because they happened silently inside my head. In the melodic, wise words of Taylor Swift, “I’m the problem. It’s me.” The Voice In My Aggressive Head – I’ll call her V.I.M.A.H – is part drill sergeant, part judge, and part critic. VIMAH is also mean. She thinks I should be able to do it all, at the highest performance level possible, all the time. Do you have a VIMAH, too? I think most of us do. We judge, criticize, and even berate ourselves internally with words we’d never say to another person. We wouldn’t even say them to our dogs. But somehow our own tender hearts are […]

Before Google had answers, this team did

Once upon a time, in what feels like a long, long time ago, people had questions. But they didn’t have Google. So, what did we do? How did we make it through the day without instantaneous access to the bajillion facts that are now just a few electronic tap-tap-taps away? I grew up during this prehistoric information age, so I remember the options. I could’ve looked something up in our set of encyclopedias (as long as the topic didn’t start with the letter S because that volume was always mysteriously absent). I could’ve climbed on my Pink Panther bicycle and ridden to our small town’s library. Or I could’ve asked my parents, who mostly shrugged and told me to go […]

How to get away with murder

When a person is harmless, people say things like “Oh, she wouldn’t hurt a fly!” Around here, no one says that about me. They’ve seen me in action, and they know – I’m a stone-cold fly killer. I don’t feel bad about it, and I’m willing to share the secrets of my fly-killing success. Why? Because spring is here, and the weather is finally warming. We’ll raise the windows or linger at an open door. We’ll come and go more often as we enjoy the sunshine, and uninvited flies will sneak inside. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make sure those flies meet the business end of a fly swatter. Step 1: Know your enemy. If […]

A kitchen crime scene

At our house, we’re sensitive to things that go bump in the night (or the day). Because our 16-year-old daughter has epilepsy and has fallen in the past during seizures, Tom and I have ears that are always listening for a possible thump, bump, crash or anything out of the ordinary. Experience has put us on a hair trigger. The only noise we don’t worry much about is barking. We have a Corgi (named Cooper) therefore we have barking – so much barking. Corgis are herding dogs, which means they’ve been instructed by God that they are in charge. All the time. Everywhere. We love our little short-legged boss dog, but he could really learn to shut up now and […]

Mom interrupted: A robot uprising

I can handle an interruption. I’m a married mother of three and a writer who’s been typing in the nooks and crannies of life for more than 20 years. I practically have a master’s degree in interruption. But the last time it happened? It was weird. Surprising. And maybe even a sign of the times. Let me back up and set the scene. We live in an area booming with new construction, which is great for the local economy but also hell on wheels – literally. In the past year, I’ve had three flats. If I was the paranoid type, I’d swear that stray nails see me coming and fling themselves in the path of my car just to interrupt […]

I think I can

As a little kid, I loved the book “The Little Engine That Could.” It was published in the 1930s, and it’s a story about the power of positive thinking. The star of the book – a little blue train engine – realizes that when he “thinks he can,” he chugs up the big hill and saves the day. I, too, am approaching a big hill. In a few weeks, I’m approaching the birthday that marks a person as “over” that proverbial hill. But my problem isn’t with negative thinking. It’s more about no thinking at all. One day last weekend, I got up and wandered down to the kitchen to do the ordinary things – let the dogs out, feed […]