“Going Home,” Jan. 31, 2017

We were sitting around a table in a borrowed house (thank you, Lynn and Phil) eating a take-out dinner (thank you, Tarpey’s) and laughing (thank you, Lord.)

My husband and I had driven from our home in Las Vegas, to Monterey, Calif., a place we once called home. My daughter and her husband and their 5-year-old, Henry, live nearby and joined us for dinner to celebrate the birthday of my oldest, who drove up from L.A.

The house where we were staying didn’t belong to us. But as I looked around that table at those people I love, and saw the smiles on their faces and the light in their eyes, this thought filled my mind and my heart and my soul: “We are home.” [Read more…]

“Dreaming Big Dreams for Elle,” Jan. 24, 2017

The video is priceless. I’ve watched it a dozen times and it keeps getting better.

I am writing this on my granddaughter’s birthday. Eleanor Rose is 2 years old today, and every bit as lovely as her name suggests.

She has dark brown almond-shaped eyes, just like her mother’s, and golden brown curls that bounce down her back, and a smile that can cure, or at least make me forget, most any ache or pain or worry.

Also, I’m told she has my toes. [Read more…]

“Old Friends,” Jan. 17, 2017

There’s no friend quite like an old friend.

Someone who knows all your old stories, can rehash them at length, but also wants to know what you’ve been up to lately. Who remembers things about you that you’ve conveniently forgotten, and is only too happy to refresh your memory. Who stood by you when you needed a friend, and trusted you to do the same in return. Who doesn’t always have to be in touch to keep in touch, and picks up wherever you left off. Who may not look quite the same as when you first met, but hasn’t changed a bit at heart. Who loved the person you were long ago _ major flaws and bonehead mistakes included _ and loves just as much the person you’ve become.

An old friend is such a gift. [Read more…]

“My Helpful Hero,” Jan. 10, 2017

There he is, my hero. In front of the TV. Headphones on his head. Controller in his hands. As bug-eyed as a chihuahua at a fireworks extravaganza. And fighting for his life in an Xbox game called “Minecraft.”

I wish you could see him. [Read more…]

“Nana Camp,” Jan. 3, 2017

Once in a great while, an idea comes along like a bolt of lightning out of the blue, dazzling you with its brilliance and making you want to shout it from the rooftops.

This idea is not that good. Not even close. But it’s not bad. It may never change the world, but it could make it more fun. [Read more…]

“A Clean Slate,” Dec. 27, 2016

Every year, in some quiet moment between Christmas and New Year’s, I reach into my heart and pull out a memory.

The summer I was 7, my mother and stepfather decided we needed a fresh start. So we left the town where I had walked wherever I pleased (to school or church or my grandmother’s house) and moved miles away to a house in the middle of a cow pasture, or as my grandmother said, in the middle of nowhere.

Talk about lonely. Have you ever tried having a civilized conversation with a herd of sullen-faced cows? [Read more…]

“My Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” from Dec. 2002

(Note:  This column is from Dec. 2002. I’m taking this week off to spend time with my family. Merry Christmas and happy New Year to you and yours!)

Once upon a time, when I was very young, with a lot more energy and less experience than I have now, I volunteered to direct the Christmas pageant at church.

“You did what?” said my husband, as if I’d said I was moonlighting for the Pentagon splitting atoms in the blender.

“It’s a kids’ play,” I shrugged. “How hard can it be? All you need is a manger, a few tacky costumes and a bunch of kids.”

“Including our three?” he said.

“OK, I see your point,” I said. “It might take some work. But you don’t have to do anything. The kids promised to help.”

“Sure,” he said, dumping Alpo in the dog’s bowl, “like they promised to feed the dog.” [Read more…]

“My Favorite Christmas Treat,” Dec. 13, 2016

What’s your favorite Christmas treat? Close your eyes and think of it _ one taste that says to you, “Merry Christmas!”

Gingerbread? Eggnog? Sugar cookies? I bet it’s not fruitcake. I’d love to hear your answer.  [Read more…]

“My Favorite Christmas Tree,” Dec. 6, 2016

What was your favorite Christmas tree? I’ve had lots. Some I liked more than others.

My parents split up when I was 3. That Christmas Eve, my mother put me to bed and said, “Stay.” When I heard a knock at the door, I crept out, hoping to see Santa. Instead, there stood my dad, holding a bag and a bush.

“Brought you a tree,” he said, showing the bush to my mother.

“Got one,” she said, nodding at a fir we had decorated earlier.

“Well, now you got two.” [Read more…]

“When Life Gets Out of Hand,” Nov. 29, 2016

Sometimes things get out of hand. A little. Or a lot.

Does that ever happen to you? What’s the thing you need to do or it just won’t get done? Yard work? Laundry? Paying bills?

For me, it’s mostly the mail. [Read more…]