Slices of Life - Vilas County News-Review
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An image.
  • It’s such a bummer when on a normal day, when you have nothing else planned, you get a phone call from your daughter asking if you can babysit your granddaughter for an hour or two and you, of course, say “yes,” then proceed to spend that babysitting time just cuddling, and listening to her coo and giggle. My day was a
  • Our appreciation of experiences and the world around us changes with time. The way I approach life differs now from when I was a teenager or newly-married 20-something. The world has changed as well and that makes for a
  • It depends on who you ask. As for Mona Lisa and the reason behind her smile, we’ll never know.
    There is one thing I know about smiles. They wield power, in a good way. If you offer a genuine smile, it is guaranteed to
  • They are making the rounds on busy roadways in cities and towns across the country. Stop signs are just so last millennium. The newest trend in traffic is the roundabout and it has me terrified.
    The name sounds so friendly, so casual: roundabout. I’ll come to your house roundabout 6-ish. Let’s head roundabout to the
  • At our house we recently experienced a season of plumbing. Thank goodness it’s over, I hope.
    It started with a water heater that refused to heat water, which was a problem, obviously.
    I’m not much for 
  • My children give me gifts, often without knowing it. This weekend, I received a pair. Actually, it was a pair of pairs; pants, that is. Two pairs, which totaled a pair.
    To further play with words, the pants were paired with a request; one of the most simple, albeit complex, requests I’ve ever received. Can you
  • I forgot to give my husband his birthday card this year. I didn’t forget his birthday. That would be unforgivable. I just forgot the card.
    Actually, I didn’t forget, I had it in the drawer at home, but we weren’t at home on his birthday. So to my credit, I got him a card; I just didn’t give it to him on
  • We start out life as self-centered beings. It’s a necessity to survival. Problem is, in our culture we too often fail to grow out of this sense of entitlement. If we want it, we should have it. We believe the world owes us.
    This is not true. But it happens all the time, this belief that the universe 
  • All was admirable and acceptable, advantageous even, that a.m. I arrived at my work area early, adhered to my agenda and had accomplished an abundance of article assembly by afternoon. And then, I had lunch: avocado salad with apples and almonds, and apricot dressing.
    Upon finishing my food, I returned directly to my computer, only to discover the problem with the keys. One of them
  • We all want to be rich. I know I do and I’ll be the first to admit it.
    But I’m not sure my definition of rich fits with traditional thinking.
    When you describe someone as rich, you are
  • They nearly literally come from nothing or so it seems and then, they multiply. You might start the week with a few and end it with a proverbial swarm.
    They’re officially called drosophila melanogaster. It’s a big name for an itty-bitty bit of an ordinary fruit fly. I’ve always thought of them as nuisances that fetch a free ride home on my bananas, but
  • We all need a happy place or, at the very least, can benefit from one or a dozen, take your pick. You don’t have to limit yourself to just one happy place. Go ahead, grab a few. They’re free.
    A happy place doesn’t have to be a place, per se, but
  • Humans are united by common bonds. We might be tempted or, maybe better put, inclined to focus on differences, but we are all united in the human condition and we share more common experiences than we might realize or even want to admit.
    I’ve written about these scenarios in the past, but
  • You might find them wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. They can be dressed in Sunday’s best. Others are outfitted in a baseball cap and sports jersey. They may be in pajamas or in shorts and a
  • How are you? What’s up? What’s new? How about this crazy hot (cold, rainy, dry) weather we’ve been having? Have a great day!
    Small talk, we’ve all participated in the chatter, often not even thinking about what we’re saying. It’s
  • It was dead or nearly so. A massive maple tree that had marked the seasons and passing of time for twice as long as most humans grace the earth. Each spring, his buds reminded us of life anew. He’d sheltered us from the intense summer sun and gave a brilliant colorful display each autumn. He stood strong and
  • My garden needs weeding. Oh, does it need it. It happens about this time every year. I start out strong, but then, summer gets away from me and the weeds are miracle growing like they’ve been fertilized from 
  • My husband and I recently indulged in a couple of days away to celebrate our anniversary. When we partake on such expeditions, which isn’t often, we understand the significance of
  • You never know the lessons you might learn from something as small and unassuming as a raspberry.
    The plants were a gift from a friend, a few clumps of leafy twigs, roots and the attached soil. You could hardly tell if they were alive, but I had faith in those little brown and green clumps. I plopped them in a bare spot in the garden and waited for my bounty.
    The first year generated no harvest. The plants were alive and growing. They just weren’t producing.
    My husband, who is less patient, questioned the practicality of using a portion of our limited garden space for a product that did not produce. I explained there is no room for 
  • It’s one of the first things new parents do after counting to make sure there are 10 fingers and 10 toes. They name the baby. Names are chosen carefully and with great attention to detail. What sort of mean nicknames could children in the schoolyard find to taunt little Dicky with? Will a weird spelling haunt a child for life? Does the name of choice rhyme with any swear words? Do initials spell out anything with negative connotations? Will the name make a smooth transition from childhood to adult life?
    There’s so much to contemplate.
    I’ve been doing all of the above. Not for a baby, but
  • Look around; they’re everywhere. Not smartphones, but they frequently work in partnership; like Fred and Wilma, but in a less “caveperson” style. People wear them on the wrist like people used to wear watches, which they are, but that’s just the tip of the “Flintstone,” dear friend.
    They’re known by a variety of names: activity trackers, fitness trackers, smartwatches, but they all do most of the same things. They keep track of, well, you.
    The little gizmo measures your activity. It counts the number of stairs you climb each day. It keeps track of a variety of workouts, your ability to recover after a workout and tallies how many steps you take. It even
  • We play a “name that tune” game in the car while listening to the radio. Whoever is first to blurt the title of a song and the name of the group or artist singing it wins. Last weekend, I encountered a melody unfamiliar to me. When I fessed up to this, my husband said “It’s a song from the ’90s.”
    He thought he was giving me a hint. Little did he know a hint would do me no good. I was beyond rescue and redemption.
    The ’90s? Ha! I know practically nothing from the decade; no songs, pop culture, TV shows, movies, unless they were Disney. It’s like I slept through the ’90s except just the opposite was true.
    The ’90s are
  • For the most part, my husband is a rational and logical human being. There is an orderly and predictable pattern to his days. He showers in the morning and brushes his teeth after meals. He rises early and goes to bed at a reasonable hour. He is a reasonable man, for the most part.
    On occasion, however, something peculiar overtakes him and he becomes a mysterious stranger not concerned with clocks or bedtimes. About once a month, he becomes inexplicably and permanently rooted to the couch, remote control in hand. The hours tick by and he isn’t moving until after some very late show is over.
    It is on these nights that I know he has become
  • You forget how tiny they are and helpless, so utterly, completely helpless and exhausted, hungry and explosive, so literally explosive.
    Eat, poop, sleep, repeat and cry, but not often, if you are lucky.
    I’m talking about babies of the human variety. They are born helpless and remain dependent on parental care for 18 (or sometimes 40) years. Animals of other species are born helpless, but don’t often stay with mom and dad nearly as long.
    Chimpanzees are one of the closest and with good cause. They share 98% of their DNA with humans. Either we are like them or they are like us. I guess it depends on whom you ask. Chimps are dependent on their mothers for at least
  • School’s out! Summer stretches out before us like a long and indulgent novel. We pull out shorts, flip-flops and bathing suits, and stock up on sunscreen and bug spray. We plan for time on the boat, days on the beach, bonfires at night, barbecues in the backyard and the activity I look forward to this time of year: summer reading.
    It’s a contest each summer. How many books can I amass; how many can I read? Any avid reader will tell you there is a difference between the two. Amassing requires acquiring and placing the books on the bookshelf. Reading requires taking them off the shelf and turning the pages, one by one, from start to
  • Mister Fred Rogers made the most of his neighborhood. I try to do the same, by walking the streets in the name of exercise. As a bonus, I make interesting and not-so-interesting observations. You can learn a lot by walking the neighborhood, which is completely different from casing the neighborhood, which I do not condone or recommend in any circumstance.
    While walking the streets (not streetwalking, which I also do not condone) you can practice your botany skills by learning which trees bud out first in the spring and which flowers bloom when. You note which neighbors grow their own vegetables, and who cultivates rose bushes and perennial beds. You also discover who
  • It’s a wrap. Another school year is complete, in the books. Thank goodness it’s finished, because I am tired. It happens every year.
    Let’s face it, being a parent can be taxing. Being a parent with kids in school can be exhausting.
    We start out strong in September. Lunch accounts are in the black. Healthy snacks line the shelves of the pantry and fridge. A dozen or more sharpened No. 2 pencils are lined up in the homework station drawer; ditto that for extra erasers and pens in working order. We check the school’s parent website Fridays. Weekly progress reports are signed Sunday evenings with ease, folded neatly and placed in the designated backpack pocket to ensure effortless retrieval Monday mornings. Bedtime rituals are
  • We’ve all heard of the Seven Wonders of the World. Most of us couldn’t name them all. I couldn’t, so I Googled and discovered I hadn’t even heard of some. Embarrassing, I know. Unfortunately, I’m more familiar with embarrassment than the Seven Wonders of the World.
    Actually, it’s more complicated than one list of seven wonders. The original list was compiled eons ago, in the B.C. years. Most of those wonders don’t exist anymore. Since then, various entities have compiled various lists of various seven wonders so there isn’t one definitive list anymore either.
    All these wonders got me wondering. Not about wonders of the world, but wonders of a more personal nature, ones we all experience as part of the human condition. If we were to choose a lucky seven, what would they be? My list is
  • I worry. We all do. We all have things to fret about and fixate on. Real and legitimate things that could and may go wrong that will mess other things up.
    And lately — oh, lately — doesn’t it seem there are more major, huge and catastrophic issues to occupy our brain space? It seems that way because it is that way and that, in and of itself, is cause for worry.
    So many volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, shootings, explosions, and politics. So many accusations. So much criticism. So many terrible things happening in our own country as well as places halfway across the world. And we have to pay attention to both because we’ve only got one planet and
  • They’d be the first to admit they are more adept at handing off a football vs. a tiny human being, but during the last week, they’ve certainly given the latter their best efforts.
    At two minutes before midnight on a recent Sunday, soon-to-be Monday, my three sons became instant uncles. Their excitement and curiosity regarding the whole process has been interesting, to say the least.
    Early Sunday morning, they were all aware that their very-pregnant sister had gone into the hospital and the possibility of a baby was imminent. As a group they were
  • Life is supposed to be an adventure. That’s what they tell us, anyway.
    Thing is, what type of adventure isn’t specified so I guess we are left to our own devices.
    Most of us would welcome a nonstop, exciting, inspiring all-expense paid and anything but banal adventure. Truth is, some things are easier said than done. There are practically an infinite number of real-life non-adventuresome adventures that can and do interfere with and impede our ability to experience the jaw-dropping, “isn’t this the best” adventures that we’d choose if given the choice.
    These adventures include
  • She is going to have a baby. The little pink bundle we carried home from the hospital a blink ago is going to be a mother. My baby girl is having a baby girl.
    It seems too good to be true and scarier than heck, all at the same time. I’m the one who’s scared, not her. Well maybe she’s just a little bit scared. 
    But on top of that she’s excited, anticipatory, joyful, delighted, eager, jubilant, grateful, elated and literally breathless. She is counting days and Braxton Hicks contractions. She and her husband have assembled the crib, researched car seats and folded onesies. They have done all the things they can do to prepare. They are
  • Today, I ask that we consider the concept of love. It’s a universal human characteristic; we all want to love and be loved. It may not be as essential as the air we breathe, but it’s close. 
    Love is a dichotomous entity. It’s neither up nor down, but perhaps a little of both. Love is funny, seriously so, that way.
    It is simple and complex. At times, it is tenuous and at other times, it is secure. It can generate clarity and cause confusion.
    Love can make you weak. At the same time, it brings strength. It can build up walls and tear them down. It requires surrender, but allows you to conquer.
    At its best, love is
  • I grew up in an era where hanging at the mall was a regular weekend activity, and lingering in the food court was as natural as sampling lip gloss flavors in the department store. My sister and I would get double-scoop cones at the end of the day, and our mom would wonder out loud why we weren’t hungry for supper.
    Then, I grew up, and moved on and away. I don’t currently live near any major, retail-therapy locations and that’s probably a good thing. At the very least, it’s saved me a ton of cash over the years. If you can’t shop, you can’t buy.
    The internet has
  • Tuesday, April 17, 2018 11:10 AM
    In many parts of the world, people walk miles just to access it. Here in the United States we may take it for granted because for most of us it comes from the tap with the flick of a wrist. Some of us buy it bottled. Some of us like it with a slice of lemon or lime. Some prefer iced, others straight up. It is the base for our coffee, tea and even wine.
    We bathe in it; it cleanses us. We drink it; it sustains us. Our bodies rely on it for survival. All living things do. It literally rains down from the sky to replenish itself, and nourish and grow plants, people and every other living entity on the planet.
    By far, it’s the
  • Tuesday, April 10, 2018 11:46 AM
    It was going to be a busy day. I had a to-do list longer than a Wisconsin winter or a Texas summer, take your pick.  
    Of course, the kitchen was a mess. The best mornings always start out that way. Dishes were piled in the sink because after dinner the night before, we’d discovered the dishwasher was already full and in need of a wash cycle. Oops.
    I was midway through unloading the dishwasher, when the crisis du jour hit.
    It started with a blue plastic bowl, which naturally belonged in our plastic storage container cupboard. I opened said cupboard and attempted to shove the bowl inside, shove being the operative (albeit accurate) word. When I completed the cramming, two other containers
  • Tuesday, April 3, 2018 11:25 AM
    Cour•age n. 1. The mental strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty 2. The quality of being brave; valor.
    I’m going to be bold and declare we’ve all got a fair amount of courage within us. But like the lion in “The Wizard of Oz,” we may not recognize our own fearless nature because, often in the midst of being courageous, we feel anything but brave.
    That’s because courage doesn’t materialize in the form of a medal we can wear around our necks. That would be too easy. And it isn’t always as obvious as rescuing a kitten from a burning building, although that does qualify. It can take any number of shapes and is often a necessary component of the every day. Most of us
  • Tuesday, March 27, 2018 9:09 AM
    My family goes through a few — OK, more than a few — aluminum cans. And even though we’ve always recycled and attempted to condense the cans the barehanded way, surplus metal was impacting our recycle bin in an overflowing manner. When the excess wouldn’t fit into the bin, the bags started piling up in the garage. I knew we were at a crossroads.
    I was not a contributor to the pileup. I don’t drink carbonated beverages. But that fact had nothing to do with the issue confronting us. Even though I didn’t create the problem, it obviously was mine to solve. I knew we could do one of two things: quit using aluminum cans or find a better way to
  • Tuesday, March 20, 2018 12:21 PM
    During storms, especially in the middle of the night, I often lie in bed and give quiet thanks for the shelter of my house, and its watertight roof and shingles.
    During storms, I also give thanks knowing my family is nearby, sleeping under warm, cozy covers, and we will wake in the morning to the comfort of our own beds and bathrooms in the place where we’ve celebrated birthdays and holidays, taken pictures for prom, wrestled in the living room, done homework at the kitchen table and grown up together over the years.
    House and home, they can refer to the same structure, but their
  • Tuesday, March 13, 2018 11:43 AM
    Contentment, satisfaction, joy, delight, exuberance, jubilation, it doesn’t matter what you call it. We all want to be happy. It’s a pretty basic truth. What makes us happy, however, is as unique as each of us. To complicate matters even further, what makes us happy today may not do the same tomorrow and vice versa.
    Happiness is constantly evolving as time unfolds, and our perceptions grow and unfold right along with the seconds on the clock.
    When we are babies, happiness is a full belly and an empty diaper. It’s having your dad make a silly face that never fails to make you giggle. It is the magical mystery known as
  • Tuesday, March 6, 2018 11:42 AM
    It’s my job to come up with words each week. It’s become almost a habit, but I’ve wondered what I’ll do when the words don’t come, as I suspect will happen at some point. So far, though, I’ve been able to find something to say or maybe nothing to say, but the words have been there nonetheless.
    Over the last few days, I’ve pondered words and how our lives are filled with a plethora of them on the news, at the dinner table, at work, at home, online, through texts, on the phone, on social media, billboards, message boards, and hashing it out with hashtags. So many of us with so much to say.
    And despite this overabundance of letters strung together to form thoughts and ideas, sometimes there are no words. I’ve even expressed this sentiment out loud or at least out loud on Facebook. Sometimes a situation unfolds where
  • Tuesday, February 27, 2018 12:09 PM
    The Winter Olympics are done. Competition officially ended Feb. 25. Sigh, it’s been a good (sleigh) ride.
    If you’re like me, the Winter Games provide opportunities to develop an interest in and become an expert on sports not typically televised during prime time.
    Let’s start with curling, which as far as I can decipher has nothing to do with anything curly, especially hair. It involves large, round granite disks, called stones, that slide across the ice toward a target. It’s sort of a cross between bowling and shuffleboard, but with brooms and on ice.
    I’ve watched some curling matches (Are they called matches?) and
  • Tuesday, February 20, 2018 12:35 PM
    Change is inevitable, necessary and even desired. We choose change all the time. We change our oil, address, hair color, diet, job, friends, toilet paper roll, underwear and even our operating system. We contem­-
    plate change regularly. Should I trade in my old car? Should I get a new pair of shoes? Should I change cellphone providers? Would the kitchen look better with yellow walls? Should I buy 2% milk instead of whole?
    We are in charge of many of the changes we make in our lives. Yet there is one aspect most of us never consider changing even though we had absolutely nothing to do with
  • Tuesday, February 13, 2018 11:23 AM
    I lie awake sometimes in the wee hours of the morning and I think. Better put, I brood, but not about a single topic. My brain goes from here to there, whizzing, whirring, round about from subject to subject and then, back again. At a time when my gray matter should be resting, it operates at a rapid pace because apparently at 4 a.m., instead of sleeping and dreaming about happy things, my brain thinks I should be doing something much more productive: worrying.
    That’s right, I worry in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping. I think of things, many things, to fret over and about.
    Most of these aren’t big or important concerns. In the overall scheme, they are
  • Tuesday, February 6, 2018 10:47 AM
    My husband and I aren’t big gamblers. I suppose it stems from the fact that we’ve never really had a large pile of cash we were itching to lose. Plus, neither one of us was born with the lucky gene. So if you ever see us at a casino, rest assured, we’re there for the buffet.
    Still, every so often we buy a lottery ticket, just one for the both of us. We wouldn’t want to be too unrestrained. We usually purchase our lottery ticket when the jackpot is sky high and the winning prize is somewhere in the mega millions.
    What typically happens the morning after we buy the lottery ticket is I go online to check our numbers and then, I tell my husband the bad news. We
  • Tuesday, January 30, 2018 11:30 AM
    Life is hard. I’ve told my children this dozens of times. I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but I do think I owe them honesty. And honestly, life is hard.

    I think it’s supposed to be.

    What we get caught up in, is thinking that life is hard for only us. We see smiling faces on Facebook. People are taking exotic vacations, going to posh parties, eating at fancy restaurants, and attending concerts and sporting events far beyond what our budget would allow.

    Not everyone makes the team. Not every interview ends in employment. Love doesn’t always work out in the end. The scale never lies and that can suck. Sometimes there are
  • Tuesday, January 23, 2018 9:34 AM
    Wasted time, we do it all the time. We fritter away a moment, hour, entire day.
    Time is a valuable and limited commodity. Each of us has a limited amount to spend as we choose. And once time is gone, it’s gone. There’s no going back to five minutes ago to redo or re-experience. Time is rigid that way. Unless you are Marty McFly and in possession of a souped-up DeLorean.
    There’s only right now. In writing and reading that sentence, a moment was spent and we’ve since moved on to the next, and the next and so on.
    It might seem depressing or not.
    Realizing each moment is all we’ve got isn’t the depressing part, it
  • Tuesday, January 16, 2018 8:54 AM
    Football is a big deal at my house. I live with a bunch of guys who love the game. My daughter married a guy who loves the game. It only makes sense I’d be pulled into the gridiron mix.
    As such, I’ve contemplated certain intricacies about the game. Not the rules, playing strategies or scoring methods, but the really important stuff. Like why is it called football? The ball doesn’t look anything like a foot. Maybe a large, rounded, pointy toe, if your creativity allows you, but certainly not a whole foot.
    The technical name for a football’s shape is a
  • Tuesday, January 9, 2018 12:19 PM
    I grew up in the era of classic, they-don’t-make-them-like-that-anymore TV shows. Of course, this is my opinion. But who can argue with the iconic status of “The Brady Bunch,” “Little House on the Prairie,” “The Carol Burnett Show,” “The Love Boat” and “Fantasy Island?” The last two are so much different than shows with those titles might be today!
    It was a television era of “Happy Days,” literally.
    I could go on, like a series in reruns, which many of us watched as well. There was Gilligan and his ever-stranded gang. I believe “The Beaver,” who predates
  • Tuesday, January 2, 2018 12:40 PM
    When my boys play together, it always ends the same way. It doesn’t matter what they are doing; the result adds up to intertwined bodies, leg locks and takedowns. In a word: wrestling.
    Wrestling in and of itself is not a bad thing. As a sport it can be athleticism at its best. Wrestling for the fun of it is harmless and fun. 
    My boys know little of the intricacies of the sport of wrestling; it also can be said that they do not know how to wrestle for the fun of it. This concept is beyond them. Wrestling that starts out as fun culminates in illegal moves, injured bodies and broken furniture. The term fun competition is an oxymoron at my house. Competition means
  • Tuesday, December 26, 2017 11:17 AM
    It’s the gift-giving season and who doesn’t enjoy giving a good gift? I do. Problem is, I get sucked in.
    I start around the end of November, with a cool head and practical intentions. I will get people only the things they really need, nothing more. I am sure of my doggedness; my willpower is strong, my budget set.
    But buying gifts is sort of like rolling a snowball downhill. Once you get the momentum going, it’s hard to stop. This is compounded by the temptations that lie lurking online, on television ads and in the stores.
    Already this year, I’ve been
  • Tuesday, December 19, 2017 11:56 AM
    High school sporting events are often inspirational. The athletes on the field, court, track or ice give it their all and are beyond fun to watch. For many of them, this is the pinnacle of their sports careers and they deserve our attention and respect. Seldom, however, does the crowd take the spotlight.
    This is exactly what happened at a local game in my small town, but I believe it could happen anywhere, at any time. I’m just glad I got to be a part of it.
    As is the custom, the national anthem is the traditional start to many high school activities. It puts a serious and thoughtful beginning to whatever game the players came to play and the crowd came to watch. As the anthem has made headlines recently, it makes most of us more cognizant of its meaning and how
  • Tuesday, December 12, 2017 11:58 AM
    There is too much guilt in the world. Still, I have a propensity to make myself more of it. Lately, I’ve been feeling guilty about holidays. Days that are supposed to be celebrations filled with joy and fun fill me with dread and anxiety. I bet I’m not alone.
    Holidays often catch me off guard. I’m busy living my simple and “ho-ho-hum” life when bang! It’s a national holiday, the children are off school and I was supposed to bake a cake.
    At this time of year, my angst is exponentiated or, at the very least, multiplied. I can’t bring myself to get hyped for the holidays. My family has gone so far as to declare me
  • Tuesday, December 5, 2017 11:36 AM
    Sometimes (oftentimes) numbers don’t make sense, to me at least. Oh sure, two plus two equals four and numbers are unchangeable so they should follow logical standards, but they don’t. Therein lies the mystery.
    Let’s start with gas, of the gallon variety. Why is gas priced at a certain amount plus nine-tenths of a cent? Nothing else is priced this way, not other things we buy by the gallon, like milk, water or whiskey.
    More decimal dilemmas: radio station numbers go one digit beyond the decimal point, but their radio jingle will round up or down to get to a whole number so 94.9 becomes 95 and 92.3 becomes 92. While I recognize the importance of a catchy jingle, it
  • Tuesday, November 28, 2017 8:14 AM
    Family: flawed, fabulous, adoring, amusing, messy, magnificent, important, irreverent, loyal, loud and yay, it’s year-round.
    Just about everyone has one, but chances are yours isn’t like mine and vice versa.
    So what makes a family? Everything, anything, the sum of many things. Each family is unique and even, dare I say, weird in some, dare I say, many ways. Although you probably don’t realize the weirdness of your own because it’s just the way your family does things like peanut butter on pancakes or ketchup on potato chips.
    As for my family we are
  • Tuesday, November 21, 2017 10:07 AM
    Gratitude is among us, ’tis the season for giving thanks, let’s talk turkey.
    At about this time, my family sits down to a big meal, and we go around the table and tell one another what we are thankful for. Usually things like family, togetherness and green bean casserole top the list.
    These are all groovy items to bestow with our gratitude. But if I am being honest, they lack a bit in the creativity department. Being thankful for family? Of course you are. Not much thought or contemplation went into that choice. Family is just about everyone’s gratitude go-to.
    This year, I’m
  • Tuesday, November 14, 2017 11:55 AM
    Our family calendar is an information multitasker. Each year, I purchase one with large monthly pages and ample, oversized daily squares so I have plenty of room to write the myriad of time-sensitive tidbits that decorate the pages and give meaning to our days, weeks, months and the year as a whole.
    I know this is a little old-fashioned. I have calendars on my phone and computer, but I still like to have the hard-copy paper version that I can hang on a hook in the kitchen.
    I keep track of everything on our calendar: paydays are circled in red; payments due are listed on the top right corner of each month; jobs completed and waiting for payment are written at the upper left corner; sports schedules are
  • Tuesday, November 7, 2017 9:31 AM
    There’s something luxurious about an overnight hotel stay and hotels work hard to make us feel that way. The term hotel bedding has become synonymous with generous thread count and high-end, crisply pressed white cotton sheets.
    I’ve stayed at a handful of hotels over the last few months and could, quite honestly, get used to lavishing myself with the convenience and splendor of new sample-size bottles of shampoo and conditioner each morning. That and having a housekeeper make my bed each day. What better way to be pampered than having someone make your bed? You can’t get any more posh.
    I appreciate the
  • Tuesday, October 31, 2017 9:16 AM
    There are 7.5 billion people in the world. That’s 75 followed by eight zeros. A billion is hard for the average mind to fathom. One billion is equivalent to a thousand millions. In other words, a really big number.
    There are 7.5 billion of us living, eating and breathing here on planet Earth. And although each of us is unique, we have one thing in common. Each of us, without exception, began our journey in the same way: as newborn babies, naked and afraid. Think about that. Let it sink in. Look around and embrace the concept.
    We include
  • Tuesday, October 24, 2017 12:22 PM
    The little pump dispenser sat on the sink in my bathroom for more than a month before I noticed the label. I hadn’t read it at the store, just pulled the liquid hand soap off the shelf and threw it into my cart without paying much attention. Hand soap is hand soap, right?
    It turns out I hit the jackpot with my random choice of product. Like I said, I didn’t notice right away. But when I did, the words on the label became impossible to ignore “Miracle Marula Oil.”
    Wow! I was in possession of Marula oil, of the miraculous kind. How could a person get so lucky? I did a little happy skip right there in the bathroom. But then, my brain went to a place that 
  • Tuesday, October 17, 2017 10:27 AM
    There isn’t much that makes my husband nervous. Heck, he’s raised four teenagers, which included teaching three of them (so far) to drive. Anyone who can do that can do anything or practically anything.
    I’m confident in him. He isn’t, not always, not last weekend, not when it comes to new chores involving a new boat.
    Summer’s waning and in my part of town, that means one thing: time to take the boat out of the water.
    We’ve been lucky boat owners for more than a decade. Except this year, things were a bit different. We traded in our boat for a pontoon. A pontoon is larger and more formidable than a regular boat, so we
  • Tuesday, October 10, 2017 9:19 AM
    It’s no secret; technology is changing the way we do things. I don’t trust myself to get dressed in the morning before checking my weather apps. I have three. And I’m not sure how I survived prior to having the find my family app at my fingertips. 
    But retailers are attempting to influence us in a new way or at least new for me. They want us to purchase our groceries online. There are even incentives such as free shipping or discounts for instance. The largest retailers are in competition for our grocery dollars. Whoever wins us over first gets the prize, ka-ching! 
    It’s an interesting concept: shopping for groceries without ever entering a store. I’m 
  • Tuesday, October 3, 2017 9:10 AM
    We’ve known each other for more than 30 years and I’m still learning new things about him. This weekend it was all about scented candles.
    Most of us enjoy the aroma of a nice scented candle. I do. I guess I didn’t realize he did. I never really thought about it. As chief procurement officer of my domicile, I typically choose the scent to which we subject our sniffers.
    In an attempt to bring nature inside, I gravitate toward fresh, outdoorsy fragrances. Pine and eucalyptus are two of my favorites. I prefer my kitchen to smell like a forest. I also take into consideration wax color because a scented candle should not only smell good, it should look good too.
    Not everyone is
  • Tuesday, September 26, 2017 9:31 AM
    The other day, I found myself in a quandary. I was in need of cupcakes, but the pantry was without a box of cake mix. I didn’t want to go to the store so I was left with one option: to bake from scratch.
    I’m not a baker. Mostly because I lack a penchant for measuring and exact oven temperatures. But when your child needs cupcakes, you deliver cupcakes. In this case, from scratch.
    I didn’t think much of it.
    Until a few days later, when I
  • Tuesday, September 19, 2017 9:05 AM
    A phone used to be a phone and nothing more, except for maybe a paperweight. Now our phones are multitaskers of the unlimited kind. Well, unless you go over your allotted gigabytes or data plan, but you know what I mean.
    That’s why I’m petitioning to change the name of cell phones. They shouldn’t be called phones at all. I barely use mine as a phone. Talking on the phone is so blasé — so last century. Plus it takes time. 
    Instead of going through the excruciatingly laborious process of carrying on a conversation, we 
  • Tuesday, September 12, 2017 9:14 AM
    Do-it-youselfers (DIY) will attest to two universal truths: projects beget projects and the outcomes are often funny, if you are willing to laugh at yourself or others. Both phenomena happen to me all the time. This week at our house, it involved stickers.
    My husband and I recently updated our bathroom by framing the mirror. With the mirror framed and looking lovely, it became apparent, to me, that our soap dispenser was lacking. Or better put, we were lacking a soap dispenser. We were simply using the bottle the soap came in when purchased from the store. Next to the newly framed mirror it looked practically plastic, because it was. We were in need of an upgrade.
    I found 
  • Tuesday, September 5, 2017 9:34 AM
    It looked so easy on Pinterest, as most Pinterest projects do. The title was ingenious “Thirty-seven quick and easy ways to dress up your bathroom mirror.” The only hard part was picking just one. I was hooked, line and sinker.
    Suddenly, my bathroom mirror was lacking. It looked naked, definitely in need of a frame.
    I picked
  • Tuesday, August 29, 2017 10:48 AM
    It was an all-out catfight. One like I’d never seen before, at least not between the two of them, who I know pretty well. They usually get along or at least stay out of one another’s way. But on this day, the claws were definitely out.
    To be fair, their capacity for sound decision-making was off. Both of them were a little tipsy, heck, beyond tipsy. They were higher than kites, or cats as the case may be. Their judgment was as slurred as their speech may have been, had they been able to speak. But as it was, a meow was all we could expect or hope for. Well, that and maybe
  • Tuesday, August 22, 2017 8:53 AM
    Ever noticed that returning from vacation creates a need for vacation?
    First off, let me say that vacations are the best or at least better than a regular day not on vacation. Whether it’s a long weekend or extended 14-day excursion, I love a day on “vacay.” The only thing better? Two days and so on, to infinity and beyond.
    Vacation is
  • Tuesday, August 15, 2017 9:34 AM
    It seemed like such a good idea, as most bad ideas do initially. My motives were sound and intentions genuine. I’d help the environment while whipping myself into shape. I’d save on wear and tear to my car. And I’d set a good example for my children by walking the walk and talking the talk or pedaling the pedal as the case may be.
    I was surprised I hadn’t thought of the grand plan before. 
    It was a 
  • Tuesday, August 8, 2017 8:56 AM
    “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”

    National Friendship Day was Aug. 6, but in my opinion, every day should be a day to celebrate friends and the different types of friendships we have in our lives. From best friends all the way to acquaintances, I know I value mine. 
    Let’s start with 
  • Tuesday, August 1, 2017 9:02 AM
    They sat unassumingly on a shelf in the gardening department. I was on the hunt for fertilizer, but these little potted beauties caught my eye and caused me to pause. Even though I’d never seen anything like them before in real life, I identified them immediately. I figured my boys would be more than interested in the care and feeding of the delicate sprouts.
    We had to have one.
    When I got home, I set my purchase on the kitchen table and waited. It wasn’t long before
  • Tuesday, July 25, 2017 9:58 AM
    He is growing like a weed. But it’s a weed we cultivate, a weed we help grow. We will never pull him up by the roots or attempt to eradicate his existence. He is growing like a weed and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
    Although he’s the little brother, he’s always measured taller than the other two were at the same age on our makeshift growth chart in the kitchen behind the basement door, where dozens of pencil lines are marked with names and dates, growing higher on the wall as the years have passed. It won’t be long before he surpasses the heights of his brothers, who have probably stopped growing.
    He is 
  • Tuesday, July 18, 2017 10:03 AM
    Summer brings out two vastly diverse species of sports persons wielding sticks, and I’m not referring to hockey and lacrosse. I’m talking about fishing poles and golf clubs.
    While not impossible, it is a rarity to find a golfer who enjoys the rigors of fishing and vice versa. If you happen to do both, good for you. But by and large, “fisherpersons” fish and golfers golf. That is the way the world was created. 
    Logistics demand it. Both sports require 
  • Tuesday, July 11, 2017 10:59 AM
    My husband and I recently made a happily anticipated purchase of a new summer water toy. We’d been looking forward to it for a long time and I was thrilled. I really was. 
    When we went to pick up our vessel, the nice salesman asked me a number of times if I was excited. I answered in the affirmative, but after about the third query from him, I realized I wasn’t demonstrating my
  • Monday, July 3, 2017 11:57 AM
    It’s the best holiday of the year — my favorite. And not just because you get to eat ice cream at lunch and roasted marshmallows after dark (although that clearly has something to do with it). Christmas and birthday fans might think the Fourth of July is an unusual choice for a preferred holiday, but I have my reasons. Six of them, in fact.
    Reason No. 6: Freedom to
  • Tuesday, June 27, 2017 12:15 PM
    I used to live a carefree life. I didn’t worry about the future or wars or the economy. I drove on sketchy roads up mountains and even climbed those mountains on occasion. I spent too much money on impractical shoes. I ordered my chili extra spicy and wore white after Labor Day. I rode a bike without a helmet and drove a car without a seat belt. I ate fast food and drank sloe gin. I held snakes, dined on sushi and rode roller coasters with both hands in the air. And then, everything changed.
    I had children; four of them to be exact.
    Oh sure, children bring 
  • Tuesday, June 20, 2017 10:38 AM
    They were splashing in the waist-high water of the lake, boisterous and loud. Three boys on either side of about 10 years old, if my estimate was accurate. I sat on the dock, observing from a distance. 
    The sun shone from behind a splattering of light cloud cover in the otherwise blue sky. The wind blew steadily, stronger than usual, cooling the warm summer air, causing
  • Tuesday, June 13, 2017 12:15 PM
    I’ve always been a saucy type. It probably started with ketchup, my first encounter with sauce when I was just a tiny “Tater Tot” of a girl. Almost everyone has some sort of experience with ketchup. Many of us have a long-term ongoing relationship and find it hard to imagine life without ketchup. My husband is a spreader. I am a dipper.
    What started with ketchup grew and expanded to various flavors and varieties of thickened liquids called by different names – condiments, gravies, dips, salsas, dressings, syrups, pestos and Alfredos – but at their essence each one a sauce of some sort.
    Savory or sweet, thick or thin, white or red, cheesy or creamy, hot or cold, I 
  • Tuesday, June 6, 2017 12:04 PM
    I pull the dandelions out of the garden, without consciousness or appreciation of their sunny yellow dispositions. They are weeds, after all. Gardeners think nothing of pulling weeds in order to make room for the non-weedy, desirable plants.
    But who decides which is which?
    It’s in the eye of the beholder. That, and location, location, location.
    Weeds are
  • Tuesday, May 30, 2017 11:49 AM
    It was a day like all others and a day like no other. As was the day before, and the day after. As are all days. Just days, but often so much more.
    A friend mentioned it was her wedding anniversary. She was in a celebratory mood, and rightly so. I asked her the date, because I wasn’t sure, and when she told me I realized it was an anniversary for me as well. Except mine was a sorrowful milestone.
    I felt a cloud descend and a pit grow in my stomach. I’d forgotten, or at the least failed to 
  • Tuesday, May 23, 2017 12:24 PM
    Lately, my hands have taken a beating and I’ve got no one to blame but myself. It happens around this time each year. Spring has sprung and all that jazz. With spring comes gardening and gardening comes with a cost to my poor bare hands.
    Simply put, gardening involves dirt and dirt is, well, dirty. It gets under your fingernails, and sneaks into crooks and crevices you didn’t even know existed. I scrub with 
  • Tuesday, May 16, 2017 11:02 AM
    It’s something we all have in common. Mothers have touched our lives. Each of us came into the world courtesy of a mother. But the concept doesn’t stop there. Mothers are everywhere. They live next door or across the country. They are teachers, coaches, counselors, protectors, enforcers, disciplinarians and friends.
    They are 
  • Tuesday, May 9, 2017 11:57 AM
    You could say it started with the simple round smiling yellow face back in the historic happy hippy days of the 1960s. It’s when Yellow Smiley was first created. Love, peace, smiles and all that jazz.
    For decades, Smiley was just Smiley — the iconic symbol that
  • Tuesday, May 2, 2017 11:34 AM
    I’ve never claimed to be a great driver. Good, perhaps. Careful, for sure. My family would tell you I am cautious, sometimes to the point of being jumpy at the wheel.
    By jumpy I mean on the lookout for surprises, aka accidents waiting to happen. Pedestrians who come out of nowhere. Squirrels darting across the street. Dogs without leashes. And cars, mostly other cars. I have 
  • Tuesday, April 25, 2017 11:29 AM
    We keep our toaster in the cupboard. Early in our marriage, this was a point of contention. My husband grew up in a home where the toaster sat on the counter. My family housed the breakfast appliance in the cupboard. As newlyweds, each of us was comfortable and happy with our own location of origin. But we couldn’t have 
  • Tuesday, April 18, 2017 2:46 PM
    My husband and I recently took on the task of refinishing the wood floors in three rooms that constitute our downstairs living areas — family room, dining room and miscellaneous room. (We’re not sure what to call it. Some days it’s the sunroom, other days the napping room. Right now, if I am being honest, it is the gaming room.)
    I digress. Aside from being
  • Tuesday, April 11, 2017 11:54 AM
    We never mastered the barbecue grill. Oh we tried, of course, in the early years of our marriage.
    We charred countless chicken breasts and burned a multitude of steaks. Shrimp on the barbie was never as it was supposed to be. No amount of barbecue sauce could salvage our calamities. Our collective lack of grilling ability was so expansive we even managed to light our patio on fire once.
    We didn’t want to be
  • Tuesday, April 4, 2017 11:00 AM
    My husband says I am a squirrel. Don’t take it the wrong way. It’s a term of endearment as well as a fairly accurate descriptor (if I am being honest). It’s become a nickname of sorts. It all started at the superstore.
    About a month ago, we
  • Tuesday, March 28, 2017 12:04 PM
    Most of us like to think of ourselves as glass-half-full types of people. Positive and optimistic and all that. I try to be positive. Except in one key area where I have no choice or voice.
    I blame my parents for my
  • Tuesday, March 21, 2017 1:20 PM
    Last week my husband and I splurged on a little out-of-town getaway. We were only gone for one night. We figured the kids could handle that without setting the kitchen on fire or flooding the bathroom. We didn’t expect any miracles, like the time one of them actually filled and ran the dishwasher. (True story.)
    They assured us they
  • Tuesday, March 14, 2017 2:57 PM
    Each day it takes 12 minutes of my time — five days a week, Monday through Friday. Six minutes in the morning, six minutes in the afternoon, for a total of an hour each week.
    A person could 
  • Tuesday, March 7, 2017 12:06 PM
    I don’t expect everyone to understand; don’t even expect approval or a nod. Most smart, logical and commonsense-driven people stop somewhere around 2.5 children. We did not.
    I remember being afraid to tell my parents or friends about the last one. When we finally did tell, some people told me we were making too many or that I was too old. Or even more daring — and this happened more than once — they asked if 
  • Tuesday, February 28, 2017 3:34 PM
    There are certain things in life that prudent, forward-thinking people avoid. Like putting their tongue on a frozen metal fence, or being outnumbered by their kids. Certain actions just aren’t wise and some can even get you into trouble. These are things, that
  • Tuesday, February 21, 2017 3:33 PM
    It is hard waiting for them to get here because waiting is never easy. And this bout of waiting is the longest 10 months of your life, even though everyone claims it’s only nine. Once you’ve been there and done the math, you know the truth and the truth is often hard.
    It is hard when they
  • Tuesday, February 14, 2017 3:38 PM
    It was an unassuming Sunday afternoon. I had to venture to the store for a few items. It was a leisurely excursion. Unlike most days, I wasn’t in a hurry and indulged in the luxury of
  • Tuesday, February 7, 2017 4:07 PM
    The Table has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
    When I was a child, it was my fortress; I crawled under it, learning every crack and crevice from the
  • Wednesday, February 1, 2017 9:06 AM
    I hardly ever get sick. I guess I’m lucky that way. Besides, I’m a mom. Despite what the commercial says, we don’t get sick days. It’s easier to take care of others when you don’t need anyone to take care of you. So it’s convenient to be in good health — robust and well, with a constant and never-ending supply of aceta­min­o­phen and throat lozenges to dispense 
  • Wednesday, January 25, 2017 9:53 AM
    Things I learned today: Some of the most unexpected actions might make you a hero. Others do not.
    If you are a parent, this pretty much goes with the territory. For me, it’s been this way since the diaper years.
    When you change a diaper on time,

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