Slices of Life - Vilas County News-Review
An image
An image
  • Monday morning comes along almost every seven days or so and the workweek looms ahead; five long days. Standing at the end, however, is Saturday; sweet, unencumbered, unscheduled Saturday, a day to sleep in, a day of freedom.
    Monday morning, I think about
  • Years ago, I came up with a mantra I attempt to live by: think positive thoughts; speak positive words; create a positive world.
    In other words, look on the bright side. It’s all about perspective. This is easier said than done, believe me.
    My mantra is just three simple sentences, but
  • My husband and I met in driver’s training class when we were 15 years old. We’ve been best friends ever since. How corny is that?
    Friendship doesn’t always lead to romance, however, and for us, that leap didn’t come until years after we’d declared our “best friend-ship.”
    During the time after we met, but
  • We want to show the world our best. This is even more true online with social media where we eagerly post our latest vacation, paid for via credit card, but don’t show the reality that is real.
    Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t something new. People have always
  • Grief is not a law-abiding citizen. It is a renegade, an ever-changing beast. Grief is a labyrinth. Expecting it to follow a straightforward path is like expecting water to run uphill. It just isn’t going to happen.
    You experience it once, twice, even four or five times and
  • I have much to be thankful for. I am a strong advocate and overall supporter of thankfulness. When the children were younger, we even had a gratitude wall in our kitchen where we listed the many things we had to be grateful for; things we call blessings. I believe thankfulness should be a part of each day. This is the season of giving thanks. I am
  • I’ve learned through the years that parenting is an ever-changing process.
    Most of us start out thinking we can do it all and soon find out that there is no way — no how, not ever — to do it all. So we make choices. We choose our issues and priorities, and
  • The end came quickly; as it often does for the best of beings.
    Our cat was old. We knew that. He’d been with us for 19 years and his bright light was growing dimmer; his candle was flickering. We all saw it and knew his truly majestic life was coming to an inevitable end. But it’s never easy saying goodbye to a family member; to a
  • My husband thinks our cat is dying, close to death or succumbing to old age. I don’t disagree.
    The cat in question is 19 years old. He’s lived a good life; an extremely good and long life.
    He still goes outside every day, albeit for shorter jaunts than in his younger years. He
  • Nearly a decade ago, my 80-year-old dad sensed quiet and a lack of activity upstairs, and felt a worried edginess creep under his skin. He headed up the basement stairs and was about halfway toward the top when the doorbell rang. Standing outside were his neighbor and my mom. The neighbor found her wandering next door, on his driveway, appearing
  • When my children were very young, each of them had a favorite movie that we viewed over and over. As I watched replay after replay, I noted the shows had a few things in common. They were animated productions made by Disney and embedded in their storylines were life lessons that served as a benefit not only to children, but
  • As a child, I took Halloween seriously. I mean, heck, there was only one day out of the whole year where candy was free and Halloween was it.
    Making the most of the night was paramount to sugar success. We had a limited amount of time before our neighbors shut off their porch lights and went to bed so we had to
  • I buy him treats because I can; my teenager who now looks down on me by about 8 inches, who thinks he doesn’t need his mom anymore and he’s probably, mostly correct. So I surprise him with treats; small things I know he likes.
    I leave them in places where he will find them: on the
  • We lost a fish.
    It’s happened before. We are fish people and fish sometimes die. It’s the whole circle of life thing. Humans typically live longer than pets; unless your pet is a
  • Life has not always worked out like I planned. And here’s the thing; the more unplanned it becomes, the more I learn. The more I grow and trust. The better everything becomes.
    I haven’t always embraced this concept. What can I say? I
  • It’s that time of year. School is in session. Backpacks line the back doorway. Yellow buses line the streets. Bedtimes and “wake-times” are earlier than in the previous months. Mornings are resoundingly announced by alarm clocks; something unheard of during June, July and August.
    Summer has officially ended; sigh. The warm weather morphs into
  • Last night, my mom appeared in one of my dreams.
    She died nine years ago from Alzheimer’s. I haven’t been able to think about her since. It’s an ugly disease.
    I’m weak to say so, but
  • Birth order intrigues me. According to the theory, certain characteristics are associated with your place within a family whether you are the oldest, middle or youngest child. We can’t choose this particular lot in life. We are simply dealt our hand and we live it out.
    There are
  • At my house we are entering another senior year. As senior years go, I consider myself fairly experienced. I’ve relished in and endured a handful so far; if we’re counting mine and my husband’s, and that’s only high school. College is another story.
    But this senior year is special, and
  • Many daughters see their own dad as a hero. I’m no exception.
    He’s a modest guy, the polar opposite of ostentatious, a regular Joe; fitting because that’s his name. He wouldn’t like the idea of me calling him a hero, much less writing about it. Good thing he
  • I never used to consider myself a bird-watcher, but this summer, I’ve had various species of birds cross my path. And while they all fly — I haven’t seen any ostriches or penguins — the manner in which they fly differs greatly from bird to bird.
    Ducks are great swimmers; the same can’t be said about
  • During the summer months, I enjoy going barefoot and dipping my feet into the lake. My husband and I experience our own version of a pedicure when we wade in a shallow sandbar and the minnows swimming there nibble on our toes. It scared me at first — and grossed me out to be honest — to think they were eating on our toes. But it only tickles and is
  • My grandbaby has started talking. One of her first words was water. It’s a multitasking multipurpose word in her life. When she’s in the bath, she’s surrounded by water. When she’s in the lake, she swims in water. When it rains, water falls down on her to create puddles for splashing. When she drinks from her cup, she tastes water. When I pour a glass of wine, she
  • Most of life isn’t cut and dried, unless you are an herb. The bulk of our days operate on a continuum, with each of us finding our own way forward. There’s lots of room for middle ground. You may give a book or movie three or four out of five stars. You might kind of, sort of like your uncle Jim, but only in
  • The media has us fired up about lots of things and that’s good. We should be fired up. Fired up equals interested and engaged. We should all be interested and engaged.
    Our culture is
  • I’d forgotten what it was like to have a toddler in the house. We recently spent a few grand days with our granddaughter, who is 14 months old. She’s a tiny package, but full of content.
    What she lacks in size she
  • There aren’t many weeks of the year that can rival a summer vacation; except maybe a winter vacation, but hey, it’s summer so let’s stay in the here and now.
    Vacations, no matter what time of year, are
  • It happens every year. After months of anticipation, the last day of school finally arrives. The children are overjoyed. Summer stretches out before us like a vast and welcoming beach scene. It sounds peaceful, right?
    It doesn’t take long to realize there are
  • The English language is fraught with conundrums. It’s probably why I love it so much. It’s never boring and continually keeps me learning or guessing or both.
    One of these complexities has to do with
  • Life is made up of moments; some big, some not so big, some seemingly small that just may turn big.
    And despite the big or not so big, some are moments that will affect you for years to come or your entire life.
    They can be obviously
  • My children grew up as part of the Toy Story generation. We watched Toy Story 1 and 2 on our VCR over and over. They were favorites, but they weren’t the only animated Disney show we watched. We had a large collection of VHS tapes. They’re still stored in our basement. I’m not sure there’s even a market for that on
  • Readers of this column know that subject matter varies from week to week. Nearly any topic that has to do with everyday life is fair game. Simply, it’s often about whatever strikes a chord in any given week.
    Sometimes, column ideas spill forth freely. Other times, I have to
  • I look forward to getting out into the garden each spring. I’ve never been able to define why or where the pull comes between Mother Earth and me, until this year. And it’s about more than dirtying my hands in her soil.
    Last week, I was
  • I love my family. We all do; or most of us, at least, on most days, at least.
    Loving your family is a given. You anticipate loving your spouse even before you meet him or her. This is exponentiated with your children. You love them fully and completely well before they
  • Yesterday, I woke up tired.
    I got up anyway and tried to complete the morning routine. I thought about making coffee. The idea was exhausting.
    I looked at
  • The legend of Bigfoot lives on in American folklore and although I don’t know for sure if the big and hairy creature actually exists in the wild, I do believe in big foot or at least big feet. I live with a bunch of them; big and hairy big-footed creatures, that is.
    My husband and sons tower over me by
  • I spotted the first one out of the corner of my eye, outside the kitchen window; a bunny. And then, there were two of them hopping in the yard and eating grass.
    They were brown with white tails. Nothing fancy, just common
  • Everything I ever needed to know, I learned from my sister.
    I have just one sister; a little sister. She is two years and five days younger than me. When we were girls, it felt like a big gap, eons of time separated us.
    She was always the little sister; I was the big one. She was expected to
  • Toss and turn, turn and toss. I’m willing to bet we’ve all done our fair share of both.
    Wakefulness when wakefulness is unwanted; others are sleeping; we are supposed to be sleeping, we will ourselves to sleep, but to no avail; we know we will be exhausted come morning because we
  • It was in the wee morning hours. I was summoned from sleep by a grinding and screeching sort of noise that is universally recognized as the sound of a garbage truck doing its business.
    Panic set in. We 
  • My husband has the most exciting dreams. They are action adventures like something out of a James Bond or Tarzan movie. They involve race cars, roller coasters and swinging on vines throughout a rainforest. He’ll often describe them in detail the next morning.
    Sometimes, I can tell he’s in the middle of one of his dreams because he
  • I saw someone familiar at the store today. I knew that I knew her or at least that I’d had cause to interact with her on several or perhaps a few occasions.
    Problem is, I couldn’t pinpoint exactly which occasions. I was at the grocery store and she wasn’t a person from the grocery store. I hadn’t seen her there before. She didn’t live at the grocery store, much less work there. I was
  • Yesterday, I made meatballs for dinner. No big deal, but it got me to thinking.
    I can throw a from-scratch batch of meatballs together in no time. I toss the ingredients into my meatball bowl like it’s not hard, because it isn’t.
    It hasn’t always been this way. Meatballs haven’t always
  • I’ve got a news flash for the naive among us: your mom didn’t tell you everything. This comes with the territory of motherhood. I’m talking about real lies about important things. Listed here are some of the things your mom probably never told you and probably never will, but you didn’t hear it from me:
    She sacrificed more for you than you’ll ever know, until
  • After spending the last three decades with my husband, I’ve learned marriage isn’t what I thought it would be. In some ways, it is harder. In myriad ways, it exceeds my expectations. And like a fine wine, it really does get better with age. Take heed, newlyweds.
    Together, we
  • My husband and I had to make a trip to the home improvement store last weekend for one item; just one.
    We started out together, but after a cursory period, found ourselves involuntarily separated.
    We were looking for
  • I look up to my husband, always have, literally.
    He is about 8 inches taller them me, which gives me a straight view up and into his nose. When he has the occasional booger, and who among us doesn’t, I am often the first to see it and 
  • It was a “go to the store for laundry detergent, come home with fabric softener” kind of day and it happened to me. Of course it did.
    But hey, everyone has bad days. Not a one of us has a corner on that market.
    And bad days are in the eye of the beholder. I think about this when I’m having a bad day, but sometimes, I
  • We all wake up in the morning, unless we work the night shift. Then, we go to bed in the morning and wake in the evening.
    But despite differing schedules, we all have some sort of beginning to our waking hours each day/night. We all have to
  • My husband and I did it; many of us did. We jumped into the deep end and never looked back.
    Just keep swimming. And we did, lap after lap, from low tide to high.
    Now, we find ourselves not in the water, but
  • The English language is a formidable beast, even for those of us who learned it as our first language. Language is all about meaning and communication. And sometimes, context and inflection can completely change the meaning of a word or phrase. Add to this the overall goofiness of English. Why is it that bird, heard and word rhyme all the time, but
  • I used to worry about a lot of things.
    I used to worry about what other people had and what I didn’t. And then, I realized I didn’t use or need half of what I had anyway and life went on.
    I used to worry that I wasn’t old enough. And then, I
  • There’s a saying. “Everything’s better with bacon” and it’s true. Bacon is greasy, crunchy, chewy, salty, delectable and balanced. Bacon is akin to nature’s perfect food.
    I’d never contemplated the idea of improving bacon. I don’t think many people have. Bacon is
  • It was a simple spot on the carpet. Well, if we are being honest, it was three spots on the carpet. But who’s counting?
    They weren’t the only spots you’d spot on my carpet, if you were looking, but they were in a public spot. They were obvious to any visitor entering the living room. Sadly, they’d
  • We are all living just 10 years away from a world we can hardly imagine.
    I’m not talking about technology, global warming or advances in medical science. I’m talking in the personal sense. For most of us, our lives will be completely different 10 years from now. Just like they were
  • When I was a child, the telephone was important stuff. Like most families, we had one phone number. Can you imagine an entire family sharing one phone number? Yet we lived through it.
    When the phone rang, it was a mystery. No one had caller ID. You had to answer every call. It was usually a race because we all wanted to
  • In our culture, we don’t usually brag about snoring. It isn’t a skill we covet. It isn’t seen as a skill at all, but an embarrassing behavior beyond our control; sort of like stinky feet or public flatulence.
    I’m here today to suggest we come out from under the covers and
  • 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