• Lowell and Mildred, Part 2

    Lowell and Mildred, Part 2

    All right, chums, here’s the conclusion of stories about my grandma, Mildred, and her brother, Lowell, as they grew up in small-town South Dakota in the early 1900s.

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  • Lowell and Mildred, Part 1

    Lowell and Mildred, Part 1

    During this past year, I’ve periodically done “episodes” on Instagram Stories in which I draw from the diaries of my great-great-grandmother, Minerva Baker Haddock. While some have told me telling extended stories on a platform called Stories isn’t the done thing, well uh once a punk, always a punk. You tell me not to do […]

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  • Wide Open Spaces

    Wide Open Spaces

    I know they say you can’t go home again. I just had to come back one last time. – Miranda Lambert, artist – Allen Shamblin, Tom Douglas songwriters More than anything, “The Ranch” is the story of my family. The ranch, the place, and The Ranch, the story. So many impressions of both are imprinted […]

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  • What They Don’t Tell You about Working in Special Collections

    What They Don’t Tell You about Working in Special Collections

    They tell you that you’ll stamp your yellowing time card every day, in and out, in the coatroom. What they don’t tell you is that when the powers that be decide the university needs a grand reading room and totally renovate the space without care for the function of the library itself, the area of […]

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  • What They Don’t Tell You about Hitchhiking

    What They Don’t Tell You about Hitchhiking

    They’ll usually mention the beautiful places that you’ll see. The foggy forests, and seas of sand. The feeling of jumping out of a semi cab blocks away from the ocean, running straight there, pulling your clothes off and diving into a wave, feeling the freedom of infinite possibility. They’ll tell about the kindness of strangers. […]

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  • Favorite Stuff of 2019

    Favorite Stuff of 2019

    Ukraine. Wanting to use the remaining allowed “out of country” days during the last weeks of my Fulbright term, I rang in 2019 in Kyiv, visiting on January 1st the incredibly moving Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), wandering the city’s churches, snagging a taxi to a folk park, and taking a painting lesson in the decorative Petrykivka […]

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  • Wiggles

    Wiggles

    About ten years ago, my mom sent an email, kvetching that the city where she lived was spending four million dollars to redo all the street corners. Just so people in wheelchairs could roll up and down curbs. FOUR MILLION DOLLARS for a few people, she groused. Even without the smell of smoke jumping six […]

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  • Be Still

    Be Still

    My dad was the person who taught me to be comfortable with silence. We could get in the car and drive for twenty minutes without a word being spoken. While his and my mother’s relationship ultimately cracked under the weight of that silence, for me, the daughter, his quiet felt benign, reassuring, a safe place […]

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  • Do You Have Time for Me?

    This is the story of a student, and this is the story of a teacher. You will want something heartwarming, uplifting, and transformative. Perhaps this is not that. *** At the end of January 2018, I returned from five months of living and teaching in the country of Belarus where I was a Fulbright Scholar. […]

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  • 10 Things That Scare Me

    10 Things That Scare Me

    I just discovered a podcast in which both notable personages and lay-listeners inventory–hey, get this–10 things that scare them. Episodes are short, but their cumulative effect is powerful: everyone has fears and anxieties, and it’s hearteningly equalizing to hear the downloads of others. Today, as I listened and nodded and laughed and squinted, I started […]

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