Columns 2003


Are there sweeter words in the English language than, "Hey, it's lunch time!"?

Lunch is low-rent heaven. It puts everything you are supposed to do on hold while you go off to eat pretty good food in the company of good enough people. You don't get Eternal Release, but then did you really want THAT much of a break?

Visualize the comfortable bustle and din of the noon-time crowd at your favorite local restaurant. Hear the reassuring sound of coffee pots sliding on and off their warmers, the hiss and splash of new coffee dripping into a glass carafe.

Tundra Time

Can weather be more bleak than this pale, frigid, barren tundra stuff? We don't even have snow, just iced grass, cutting winds, birds and squirrels shivering in tiny unlined leather boots. It's enough to depress a Norwegian. (Though, as Dorothy Parker said when told Calvin Coolidge had died, "How can they tell?")

Toddlers in Italy

I received an email from a friend who recently moved across three states in order to live closer to her granddaughter.

"Kayleigh is a 15-month old who has just discovered shadows. She is clearly convinced that they are funny, friendly and have a life of their own -- and that, to her utter delight, they CHOOSE to appear for her. I got her a cow flashlight that moos when you squeeze the handle to light it up. She can make shadows and wiggle the spot of light all over the ceiling, but she doesn't seem to understand herself to be the shadow-making agent yet.

Procession in Guatemala

It was a hot, sunny afternoon in Antigua, Guatemala. Someone told us there would be a procession through town that day and I, agreeable tourist that I am, said that sounded cool. (My husband once took me on a day trip to look at coal mine tailings. I'm pretty much up for anything.)

I knew we were in a very Catholic country during Lenten season and that some Latin cultures observe holy seasons by carrying religious items through the streets. These pious parades are called processions.

White Water

It was a hot July afternoon in West Virginia. The sky glittered blue, mountains were draped with folds of green tapestry. The warm air was pungent with an Appalachian sachet of humus, pine, and fast-running water.

Our youth group was going to do a Work Camp in the area so we'd arranged, months in advance, to do a whitewater rafting trip while we were there. We didn't know, when we signed up, that the New River Gorge is a world-class whitewater river.

What Makes a Home?

I'm in the wrong place. For eight years I've been your Gal Friday, and suddenly, I'm competing with the Saturday morning cartoons. (They say everything seeks its own level.)

This isn't my home yet. Moving from one day to another is been a bit like walking in the front door of your house to discover someone moved all the furniture. It isn't a bad thing, it's just that it doesn't feel like home.

Fort Pillow

Last week the Supreme Court said that what consenting grown-ups do in their bedrooms is nobody's business except the grown-ups'. The Supreme Justices listened to arguments about the privacy rights of two gay men in Texas who were arrested for having sex, at night, in their house. I don't know if they had the lights on or not.

Doesn't the Supreme Court have trickier things to think about? Why is this even an issue?

Harry Potter

I did it. I finished reading "Harry Potter, The Order of the Phoenix." You may think the trick to this was finding enough time in an adult life to read an 870 page kid novel. Nope, the main obstacle was waiting for my three kids to finish it first.

J.K. Rowling is not the most lyrical writer I've ever read, but she is, absolutely, a virtuoso of plot-invention. Her saga of an insecure kid with unusual abilities, growing up into his own power, is completely compelling.

Rites of Passage; Dead Pine Branches

I have a lot going on lately; some professional stuff about my career, some financial things I should sit down and figure out. My oldest child is moving away to begin college next week. My youngest starts middle school the week after. There are several things I should be doing towards world peace and justice, plus, I can't remember if we gave the cats their flea medicine this month. That last item won't be trivial if we forgot.

I decided I needed to get organized. I made a list of things to do and people to call.