Old Couple’s Valentines

Face it. Once commercial enterprises latch onto a holiday, no one can live up to the expectations. If you didn't gift your sweetheart with jewelry, you failed. Roses count, as long as it was a dozen. A teddy bear bigger than your sofa? You're kidding yourself. Over 40 years ago, Cliff and I celebrated our…

Wedding Winds

I love winter's early darkness, whirling snowflakes, and the frosted stillness of a white field. Woolly sweaters are my friends. I tolerate spring and count the days until summer ends. But autumn's charms are not lost on me. In fact, a wedding this past autumn stays with me even now in a freezing Midwestern January.…

2019: Turtle Joy, Everyone

Turtles go mostly unnoticed. They aren't gorgeous or dramatic or cuddly.  Still, they win the race against the hotshot rabbit who peers back and, assuming he's won, naps with victory assured. The turtle trods along with eyes on the sunny horizon. Step by faithful step. Persistence, whatever the speed, wins. We persist, too. Whatever the…

Thanksgiving Finale

Every Thanksgiving my mother was up against a lot. Highly styled dinner tables glimmered on magazine covers. Newspaper articles debated the superior turkey brands. Recipes marched down her kitchen counter. A copper mold decision for cranberry sauce hung in the troubled air. She agonized through November, torching her perfectionism into raging flames. Gradually I understood…

Thanksgiving Confession

I have never roasted a turkey. Just the thought of trying it has terrified me throughout my adult life. Not that I blame my mother, but I was imprinted early with the belief that it was an ordeal. Buzzing alarm in the morning darkness. Muttering when the thawing wasn't complete. Thud-thumping as she wrestled stuffing…

A Mother-Daughter Thing

In 1997 we arrived in Rockford, Illinois with baby Maggie after flying for what felt like forty days and forty nights from China. Hellos to her were constant--from neighbors, friends, relatives. Cliff's teachers threw a huge shower. Everyone wanted to hold her, to welcome her after the nail-biting adventure of her international adoption. Maggie was…

Parade, Unplugged

The Milan Melon Festival has celebrated local cantaloupe and watermelon harvests for sixty years. During three days, food trucks fill the town square, and carnival rides pack the streets. Events jam the daily schedule: Kiddie Tractor Pull. 5K Melon Run. Firefighter's Chicken BBQ. Antique Car Show. Beautiful Baby Contest.... And the annual scooping of who-knows-how-many…

Cafeteria Garden

My mother's gardens were bountiful and beautiful.  She could grow anything from radishes to roses. Given the chance, she'd work in them all day long. Me? Hardly. Nevertheless, I keep trying to grow flowers. My success has been limited, mostly because we've moved to houses with too much shade. The bright floral expanses I dream of have…

A Degree and a Dime

No one turns a college degree on a dime, so to speak. In May I watched Maggie graduate and wondered how so much time had passed. Of course every parent thinks the same thing. What were the markers? The turning points? Where did her confidence come from? How did she become an academic success? One…