“Name Calling,” July 18, 2017

What do people call you? Not when they’re mad. What do they call you when they want to tell you who you are to them?

Readers often begin notes to me with an apology: “I’m sorry if I seem too personal addressing you by your first name,” they say, “but I feel as if I know you personally.”

I love that. I often feel as if I know them personally, too. As a columnist, I write about things I care about. If someone connects with that writing, I like to think it’s because they care about those things, too. We may not know each other’s faces. But we know each other’s hearts. To me, that’s as personal as personal ever gets. [Read more…]

“A Quick Trip to a Place Called Grace,” July 11, 2017

It never fails. When I run to the market for just one thing, I never know what I’ll bring back.

Last night, for example, I wanted to make pesto. I love pesto. It’s good. It’s green. It’s easy. And my half-Italian husband loves it even more than I do. I’ve seen bloodhounds get less excited chasing a rabbit than he does over a plate of pasta with pesto.

I had everything I needed to make it … except walnuts.  Most people use pinenuts for pesto. To me, pinenuts taste like kerosene. Not that I’ve tasted kerosene. I just prefer walnuts. But all I had were Brazil nuts. They might work. Or not.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve substituted ingredients that “might work,” but didn’t. If the cooking channel did a show called “Recipes for Disaster,” I could be their celebrity chef. [Read more…]

“A Summer to Remember,” July 4, 2017

What does summer mean to you?

It probably depends on where you live or grew up or how you choose to spend it. If I asked you to describe this summer day, wherever you are, what would you say?

Maybe you’d start with the weather. Is it hot? Steamy? Stormy? Foggy? Is it a good day to be in the great outdoors or do you need to take shelter inside? [Read more…]

“Saved by Love,” June 27, 2017

(NOTE: I’m taking off this week to spend time with my family. The following column is from Nov., 2002.)
It all came down to this: Did I want to clean a cabin or climb on a horse? Not all of life’s choices are that easy. But years from now, I will smile at the memory and shake my head to think I almost passed it by. [Read more…]

“Seeing Is Believing,” June 20, 2017

Most of us need to heal once in a while.

Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually.

Sometimes it’s all the above.

For some of us, the hardest part of healing is simply to believe that it’s possible.

Years ago, I was watching my oldest (who played on a high school basketball team coached by his dad) practice free throws. The boy was good. He made a dozen shots, swishing the net time and again without a miss.

“How do you do that?” I said. [Read more…]

“A Prayer for a Child,” June 13, 2017

We were sitting in his oak tree, Henry and I, dreaming about birds and clouds and life. Henry is my grandson. He is 5. I am older than he is. I quit tree climbing a long time ago, but picked it up again at Henry’s urging. It’s amazing what we’ll do if it’s important to a child. [Read more…]

“Remembering My Dad,” June 6, 2017

My dad left this world long ago, too soon, but my memories of him shine clear and bright and true. I think of him often, especially on Father’s Day.

I picture him fishing. Smokin’ and jokin.’ Telling stories. Making me laugh. In all those memories, his laugh is the same old chuckle. His eyes are still as blue as the lakes he loved to fish. And the thought of him still lights me up like the little girl who lay awake at night listening for him to come home from second shift at the mill. [Read more…]

“Get-Togethers Keep Us Together When We’re Apart,” May 30, 2017

When our kids are coming to visit us, my husband and I are like two aging chihuahuas _ not quite as quick on our paws as we once were, but still bug-eyed and quivery with excitement.

On his way out the door to pick up last minute supplies, my husband asked, “Should I get a quart or a half-gallon of milk?”

“Are you kidding?” I said. “Get a gallon. And make sure it’s whole fat and organic.”

Meanwhile, I was hip-deep in making potato salad. It’s one of the few things I can do without burning it to a crisp. The house was clean. The fridge was full, except for the potato salad and the milk Papa Mark would bring back. [Read more…]

“An Impossible Kind of Love,” May 23, 2017

On the eve of our 12th anniversary, my husband and I attended a wedding for a couple who, like us, were people of a certain age getting a second chance at “happily ever after.”

Their ceremony included a reading of I Corinthians 13, “The Love Chapter,” a Bible passage my husband and I also chose for our wedding 12 years ago:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things….So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Those words speak clearly of an impossible kind of love made possible by the grace of God. [Read more…]

“The Language of Birds,” May 16, 2017

Most of us have a few good bird stories. I’d love to hear yours. Here are some of mine.

When I was 7, I broke my new front tooth. A dentist replaced it with a metal crown until we could afford a better one. I wore it for six years. My dad called it the “silver bullet.” It was fine for eating, but not for smiling.

“What’s wrong with your mouth?” said my dad.

“I hate this silver tooth,” I said. “It makes me … ugly.”

He took my face in his callused hands. “Not to me,” he said. [Read more…]