Columns 2000

Seven Women and a Birthday Party

My contemporaries are becoming awesomely middle-aged. I have, in the past few months, been in animated conversations with compatriots about retirement funds, hormone replacement therapy, what brand of walking shoes are most supportive, the sexiest way to manage gray hair, and cholesterol readings. I have noticed that some of the men I think of as cute are sprouting ear tufts, which is taking "cute" in a whole new direction -- think koalas. These days, when my generation wants to read the fine print, we push our glasses up on our foreheads first.

Three Kids Talkin'

I hope this newly released statistic -- that 47% of RUSD's elementary school students qualify for free or reduced lunch -- is confounding you as much as it is confounding me. What does it mean when half the kids in our public school system come from seriously money-strapped families?

I called Angela Apmann, principal at Julian Thomas Elementary School, where 96% of the kids qualify for the subsidized meals. If we want to meet a couple of kids from money-poor homes, this would be a place to begin.

Roxie Cat

She came into our lives in a furry flurry.

We were already a "three kids, one dog, one cat" family when my sister-in-law called. "My friend Peter's moving to Colorado today. He found a home for one of his cats but no one will take Roxy. I'd take her, but my old cat won't tolerate another newcomer. Is there anyway you can take her in?"

Several hours later we were a 'three kids, one dog, TWO cat' family.

Uncle Ken's Gift

Why do we do we give presents to each other? Why do we give things to people who have enough money to go out and buy their own stuff? What turns an object that anyone could obtain -- into a true gift from one person to another?

It's been a few years since my Uncle Ken gave a true gift to my Aunt Helen.

Big Kids

A few weeks ago we took our children to Hope College in Holland, Michigan. My niece is a student there and it was Siblings' Weekend. Since her only sibling is an old married man of 25 who lives in Texas, Susan did the next best thing. She invited her three young cousins to visit for the weekend.

Telling Stories on St. Patrick's Day

I lived in Chicago for twenty years so of course I have some St. Patrick's Day stories. What other city takes being Irish so seriously it dyes its river green?

I was still in my early twenties the year I shared a shabby apartment in a trendy neighborhood with Cathy. She and I are still friends, when I checked this story out with her, she laughed remembering that goofy, long ago time.

A Chance to Chuckle, Grieve and Remember

Last week I received news that my Uncle Irv had died. It wasn't exactly a shock, he'd been ill quite a while. Still, it stuns when we hear that someone we have known all our life has passed away. Like a mournful kid standing at the curb after the parade has passed, we look around and wonder if this is really the end.

I knew the trip back to my hometown for the funeral should be a solo journey. The wake and service would be as deep and rich for me as they would be endless and boring to my kids.

Mrs. Durham

Tuesday morning (5/23/00), this newspaper, page 3A ---
"Court strikes down law that shielded children from sexy TV programs"

Did you read it? An Associated Press story announced that the Supreme Court voted Monday, 5-4, that cable TV companies don't have to arrange their programming to shield kids from sex-oriented materials.

Out West Vacation

We just returned from a two weeks "out west". Our family folded itself into our compact station wagon, stuffed suitcases in a cartop carrier, packed too many books, maps, Pop Tarts, and car games into the hatchback, and we set off for Yellowstone National Park. This, as we understood within minutes of backing out of our driveway, would be more than a vacation, it would become a Rite of Passage.