Columns 2004 and Later


About a year ago my son became nuts over cars. He'd eyeball every car we passed on the road, especially the hot red ones. Car magazines started turning up all over the place. Sometimes, I swear, he made car noises in his sleep.

I was mentioning this, last fall, in an email to a Chicago friend.

Chris wrote back. "Remember when I used to carpool the kids in that ancient truck we had back then? Guess what? We still have it! It hasn't run in at least a decade, but if he wants it, and if you can get it from here to there, it's yours."


My dog is beautiful and brilliant. She is also soulful, earnest, loyal, enthusiastic, and loving.

Let me guess. Your dog is all these things too, right?

That's one of the things that's so amazing about dogs. You can look right down at your tubby, speckled, stale behind the ears, worse further back, muddy-pawed, dun-furred wonder -- and if you are a fairly ordinary dog-owner, what you see is the Princess of Persia, the Duke of Your Heart.

Why, just this morning, before I was all the way awake, I heard my husband start to get up so I mumbled a sleepy "Hi."

90 MPH Towards a Brick Wall

Part I

David (not his real name, though he says he wishes it was) and I have been friends for 25 years. When either of us calls the other, before we can even identify ourselves, the other one says, "What's up?" We hear each other's grins through the phone. That kind of friend.

Three weeks ago his partner called. "David tried to end his life."

There are many ways for the bottom to drop out of your life.

This is surely one of them.


Women March in April

Well, here's something. Hundreds of thousands of women and men from across the US, including some from Racine County, are gathering in Washington DC this weekend for the March For Women's Lives. The official march logo is: "Choice, justice, access, health, abortion, global family planning."

Wonder for Wonderful Aunts

This was my all time favorite moment from the "Friends" TV show. It's a few hours after the birth of Ross's son and all the friends are meeting the baby for the first time. Monica, Ross's sister, holds her newborn nephew tenderly, tears in her eyes with the awe for this new life in her family.

She chokes up as she croons to the baby. "Hi Ben. I'm your aunt. I will always love you, and I will protect you the best I can and, I promise I will always, um.... have gum."

Adult Surprises

Remember when adulthood was going to be about all the things you could finally do -- instead of all the things you have to keep up with?

I'm just back from a long errand to deposit a bit more cash into the bank account of my daughter, who's run out of money to spend about three days before she's run out of Europe to see. (Well, I suppose she could manage on what she has left, but where should a person pinch pennies? Frankfurt, Milan, Rome, or Racine? Yeah, that's what I thought, too.)

Declaration of Independence

"Stuff happens. Circumstances roll along. But when unfair, hard to bear things keep happening--then circumstances have to change. If the laws and regulations that are supposed to hold society together in fair, orderly and practical ways--if those laws become so unfair and corrupt that decent and rational community life becomes impossible--it means we must rethink our government.

"But if we are going to do this, then before we begin, we owe it to the community of nations to say who we are, what we have endured, why we are launching into this struggle.

Foster Cats

Normally, we have four cats. (If that isn't a great straight line, I don't know what is.) For most of May and June we had six.

A friend of our kids moved in with her aunt. The aunt's family is allergic to cats, of which this gentle girl had two. This perilous situation was described to me. (One of the secrets to contentment in life is, I think, to never ask "Why me?")

The foster cats arrived at our house a few days later.


For our family vacation, we'd made reservations at a resort in the Florida Keys. We thought a week to swim, read, explore a little, eat great seafood, and just generally kick back to enjoy each other -- would be wonderful.

I still bet it would.

We sure don't know.

Did you know two hurricanes have not hit Florida in the same week since 1909? Did you know a major hurricane hasn't pummeled the west coast of the Sunshine State in decades?

Can you guess how our vacation, last week in Florida, progressed?

Go Outside

Hasn't this been a gorgeous week here on the Suncoast of Wisconsin? (Thank you Rev. Jack, wherever you are, for that phrase that still makes me laugh.)

What perfectly perfect weather. Cool enough to sleep at night, bright mornings, warm and breezy afternoons illustrated by children kicking leaves on their way home from school. Sunsets more brilliant than a bargain bin in a Chihuly factory.

Yes, it's been a fairyland of a week and I have enjoyed it thoroughly.

Did you notice these two intriguing stories this week in the paper?