A Forge and a Purse. That’s All We Need. Oh, and Cake. Plus This Candle. And a Bow Staff. A Unicorn.

The baritone saxophone doesn’t so much toot as blare. Rattle. Shake the house. When the boy is practicing, blowing all his lung air into the mouthpiece, conversation in another room is impossible. The floors vibrate; then he finishes a scale and calls out, “Playing this thing is loosening my ear wax!” Recently, Paco turned twelve. […]

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But Wilt Thou Woo This Wild Cat?

She’s doing her nightly thing: listening to music; checking her social media, chipping away at homework. When a favorite song comes on, the volume goes up. When a new text comes in, her fingers tap. When a page of Spanish is memorized, I hear it flip. I’m standing eight feet away, folding laundry. She has […]

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They Delight Me

I sat in the stylist’s chair, getting my mane snipped.  As another tuft of hair floated to the floor, the stylist made conversation, asking, “So what’s it like, parenting a 14-year-old girl?” It was a nominal question, meant to fill time, to keep us from silence. Even before I responded, the stylist anticipated the tone and content of […]

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Live & Learn

These past few months, I’ve been fortunate enough to have the online magazine Mamalode publish a few of my essays. Every month, Mamalode announces a theme and then accepts submissions; this month, the theme is “Live & Learn.” In response, I recalled our family’s year in Turkey–a time of intense living and learning–and, specifically, a […]

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Axe Attacks

My brother’s Christmas gift to Paco arrived yesterday. It’s almost as though my brother understands boys– because the Gil Hibben Generation 2 Pro Thrower Axe is a dream come true for our lad. And three of his friends. Even though an arctic front swept through last night, and it’s a few frozen nostril hairs past […]

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Cranky Broads

Upon learning of my career as a teacher of writing, a former college professor wryly noted, “Composition is the armpit of the university.” As had also been the case when he commended Wallace Stegner as the United States’ greatest author, the former professor’s judgment was keen. Certainly, teaching composition can be inspirational and gratifying. At the same time, it’s […]

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The Worst Gifts

With so many opportunities for gift-giving in our fortunate lives, nearly everyone has a story of receiving a terrible, terrible gift. An informal survey of friends recently yielded stories of some real corkers. Settle in with a cup of rose hip tea that your husband’s cousin gave you, even though she knows you spend your […]

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Wedding Needle to Fabric

The history of quilts as utilitarian items stretches back thousands of years. In fact, the word quilt is adapted from the French cuilte, which grows out of the Latin culcita (“a stuffed sack”). Originally, when just getting through a day entailed dawn-to-dusk work, quilts were entirely functional, made for warmth in the bed or to cover doorways […]

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Dresden Plates

My grandmother, Mildred, was born in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1902. She died in Windom, Minnesota, in 1974. During the 71 years of her life, Grandma moved frequently, particularly during her youth, as she was the daughter of a Methodist pastor. Moving within Iowa and then to South Dakota, the family uprooted in 1904, 1905, […]

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Handiwork

Woodworking. Jewelry making. Embroidery. Felting. Pottery. Knitting. Gardening. I am fascinated by handiwork, as art, as personal pursuit, and as cultural artifact. Just as much, I am fascinated by the psychological benefits of creating something with the hands. Certainly, there’s pride that comes from making something beautiful. There’s learning that comes from the challenge. Science […]

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