Main St. to the Moon and Beyond

Milan, Ohio is a curious small town with a spirit of wanderlust. Wonderlust, too. In the 19th century, farmers could watch a ship sail along the field. At least that's how it looked. In reality, the ship floated down a canal, the state's deepest, allowing it to reach Lake Erie. On November 26th, 2019, farmers…

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? Where did her confidence come from? How did she become an academic success? One by one, they…

Mysterious Love

Because I graduated in 1969, my 50th high school reunion is on the horizon. I've seen Facebook "Calling All Classmates" announcements. Honestly, I'm only distantly connected. I spent high school not talking to most people. I recently happened onto a friend's video, based on yearbook photos, for the Class of 1968 reunion. I bailed halfway through. My…

Just a Teacher

Every time I turn around, another teachers' strike begins. The issues never change--higher wages, better benefits, smaller class sizes, expanded book and supply budgets. People in charge never get the message, do they? Yet dollars can't fix everything. The profession is plagued by a pervasive negative attitude. While usually unspoken, I heard it loud and…

Fringe Apology

Yes, this is really about fringe. And a mistake I made about tangled fringe. Keep in mind I was a late-in-life mother. So when we adopted Maggie, I was over-the-moon ready. Okay, some people would call it overzealous. Looking back, I see I turned my perfectionist's dial to 11 because 10 simply wasn't sufficient for…