“Making Music and Memories,” Dec. 11, 2018

Call me lucky. There I was, a sensible woman of a certain age in orthopedic shoes and elastic-waist pants, on a date, of all things, with not one, but two, gorgeous young men.

We had dinner at a restaurant, talking, laughing and listening to live music by a band that featured my favorite bass player, who is also, yes, my husband. [Read more…]

“Words for Christmas,” Dec. 3, 2018

I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas. I haven’t decorated a tree or even looked for the boxes of ornaments that we packed when we moved six months ago and haven’t seen since.

My husband stuck a reindeer nose on the statue of a horse on the buffet in our dining room, but that’s his doing, not mine. [Read more…]

“Memories of a Family Gathering,” Nov. 26, 2018

We stood on the curb waving goodbye as they all drove away, carload after carload, pieces of a beautiful puzzle that forms our big, blended family. Picture Noah and his wife, after 40 days and nights afloat in a flood, watching the animals hightail it off the ark. [Read more…]

“Praying for Rain,” Nov. 19, 2018

Maybe, when you read this, it will be raining in California. That is what we’re praying for — a good, soaking rain to put an end to what has been months of death and devastation from fire.

The irony is while Californians are praying for rain, our neighbors in the South and East, who’ve lost homes and loved ones in recent months to hurricanes and flooding, are praying for a dry spell. [Read more…]

“A Feast of Faces,” Nov. 13, 2018


How do you seat 20 guests at a table that holds only eight?

That’s a puzzle I work on every year when Thanksgiving rolls around. You’d think by now I could solve it. But try as I might, the pieces never quite fit.

Sometimes, I use folding tables, snaking them from the dining room through the living room with six to eight guests at each table. That way everybody gets enough elbow room to eat and talk and laugh and breathe. The only problem with it is I can’t see everyone’s face. [Read more…]

“My Next Career,” Nov. 5, 2018

Few things make me happier than indulging in a deep philosophical discussion with one of my favorite philosophers about our favorite topic: Life.

My view is that of a woman with more years behind her than ahead. Henry’s view is that of a 7-year-old who is smart as a whip, wise beyond his years and wants to be taken seriously.

“Henry,” I said, “what will you do with your one sweet life?” [Read more…]

“Homecoming,” Oct. 29, 2018

A lifetime ago, I grew up in these blue mountains on the border between the Carolinas. After college, I moved to California, to raise a family and live the life of my dreams. I’ve often come “home” for visits. Too often, for funerals. But this trip, if partly for work, was mostly for pleasure.

It began with a speaking engagement in Winston Salem, where my column has been carried for years. People I’d never met asked to see photos of my grandkids. It felt (I say with a wink) like a family reunion … without the fist fights. [Read more…]

“My Scariest Halloween,” Oct. 23, 2018

(NOTE: I’m taking this week off. This “replacement” column is from 2000. Yes, that’s 18 years ago. Some of us are getting old. Thanks! ) Sharon<

The most terrifying Halloween story of my life had nothing to do with ghosts or monsters or severed heads or slimy eyeballs. Or even the monkey or the moonshine. Those things were all part of it, but they weren’t scary. It’s hard to fear anything that makes you laugh. [Read more…]

“A Place to Call Home,” Oct. 15, 2018

What does the word “home” mean to you? My mother’s parents lived on the main street of a small town in North Carolina. My dad’s parents lived on a farm in the mountains nearby. I spent a lot of time in both places and always felt at home in them.

I can describe in detail every room in those two houses, the furnishings, the food on their tables, the flowers that grew in their yards, the birds that nested in their trees and the creak of the swings on their porches. I loved both places. But mostly I loved my grandparents, and the way they made me feel: Safe and whole and at peace. [Read more…]

“A Good Day to Fly,” Oct. 8, 2018

“A Good Day to Fly,” Oct. 8, 2018

Here’s Wiley in the parade, waving with both arms!

Bribery is not, I admit, the best way to motivate a child. But sometimes, a nana’s gotta do what a nana’s gotta do.

Every year since 1939, the children of Pacific Grove, Calif., have donned paper wings and paraded in the streets to celebrate the arrival of thousands of Monarch butterflies that flutter in each fall to spend the winter.

The city is called “Butterfly Town USA” and “America’s Last Hometown.” I just call it home, the place I raised my children, buried my first husband and spent most of my adult life. [Read more…]