Columns 1999

Tubing

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Last Saturday, while Racine endured one of The Blizzards of the Century, my family managed to miss nearly the whole thing. (We did get to experience that enterprise called shoveling the driveway.)

We were lollygagging our time away with friends Dave, Mary, Colin and Michael at their cabin near Chippewa Falls. I see humor in how we "escaped" bad weather by going 300 miles further north than here. As a Chicago friend once commented to me, "You're kidding! There is something further north than Racine, Wisconsin?"

Patronizing

This wry observation was in Ann Landers last week (I'd credit the comedian who wrote it, but being a responsible citizen, I've already recycled the newspaper). "You know you're getting older when, as you bend over to tie your shoes, you try to think if there's anything else you could do while you're down there."

I know the feeling. I'm mid-forties and many of the thrills of aging are coming my way. For example, I've noticed wrinkles on my chin. The reading line in my forehead and the laugh lines around my eyes didn't bother me a bit -- but wrinkles on my chin?

Shoes

Shoes tell stories.

My family spent last week in Washington DC. We saw, did, and ate a lot. We also walked so much that my 14 year old, at one point, sent a postcard back to her best friend that read "pray for my feet".

Happy Fathers' Day

I have just returned from a week in Utah and Colorado where I attended a family wedding in Grand Junction, Colo. It was a grand and energizing adventure.

I encountered dozens of interesting people on the trip, but the one I noticed most was the one who was not there. My husband didn't come along on this escapade. I soon discovered that an illuminating and entertaining way to contemplate Fathers Day is to try to be one. (Something single mothers have been saying all along.)

Birthdays

My 14 year old was in our kitchen simultaneously creating an art project, making lemon bars and baking brownies for her best friend's birthday. I stopped a moment to admire the flurry before returning to the hot topic crowding my own brain.

"What should I write about this week?"

Daughter never skipped a beat. "Birthdays."

"Why?"

"Because they are the day you celebrate getting old by acting young."

"Huh?"

Advice to Freshmen

My cousin's daughter is beginning her first year of college. I don't actually know Megan, but her dad generally refers to her as Miss Wonderful. Would that all girls had such enraptured and devoted dads.

Brent gave me Megan's address in case I have anything to say to her, so I have been thinking. What can one say to a brand new college kid? What kind of pitfalls should she watch out for? What brass rings should she grasp? What advice do I have for the freshest of freshmen?

Excellence #2

I have been thinking about the quality of excellence and what it has to with the reality of our children's lives and futures. What I ponder is this. How responsible are we parents to make sure that the environment they inhabit is excellent?

These days most of our kids have nerve-wracking combinations of excellent and not-so-excellent teachers. They whirl in extra-curricular activities - music lessons, sports, clubs, hobbies, and constantly changing and evolving friendships. Some are stunning opportunities. Others are almost terminally mediocre.

Livin La Vida Modest

My parents were smart, kind, sometimes humorous, and so incredibly and unbelievably honest, responsible, and moral it would make a dead dog weep. If one was supposed to do something - they did it. If an event might be tinged with the slightest hint of recklessness, irresponsibility or scandal - they wouldn't touch it with a twenty mile stick.

Which is why, when I was grown up, I was so stunned at this story my mother told me.