In the snapshot above, circa 1976, my family is packed in our Chevy Impala, ready to make the return drive from a dude ranch in Colorado back home to Illinois. You can't really tell from the darkened photo but the three of us in the backseat are completely miserable and the key is not yet in the ignition. Oh the agony of 1001 miles in a car with undependable air conditioning, shocks that didn't absorb, and a radio that my father refused to switch on. Time slowed to the point that my Barbie dolls married and divorced several times on the journey.Read More
I remember the day of the wedding dress imbroglio. And when you are a child and there is an imbroglio, the cause is sure to be boredom.
This was the 1970s after all, and toys had not yet been invented. There were, instead, adult accessories made smaller and marketed as toys – steel-tipped lawn darts, jack knives, real chemistry sets, eardrum-rupturing air blasters, BB guns, easy bake ovens, mini motorcycles. My father, a pediatrician, and my mother, a nurse, were safety freaks and forbade all of these excellent things.Read More
We are a few weeks away from Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle and I just heard the news that the British are not exactly overjoyed about Diana's second son marrying an American.
I get it. The last time a British royal married an American divorcée, things got discombobulated, throne-wise. Edward VIII was confined to a life of pugs, pins, and pained smiles.
But Harry is sixth in line and as likely to wear the crown as Sonny Purdue is to occupy the Oval Office.Read More
I am a procrastinator, and maybe you are too. We are everywhere. Did you know that Charles Darwin took twenty years to write "Origin of Species"? Experts refer to the time between his voyage on The Beagle and the publication of his masterpiece as "the incredible procrastination."
My husband Gary -- sound asleep in the photo above -- is what is known as a pre-crastinator. He finishes assignments ahead of schedule, which according to his defective internal clock, is finishing on time. He loves order, punctuality, regularity.Read More
Last week on the blog, I sponsored a contest with delicious salted caramel chocolate brownies for a prize. This week, I entered a contest myself. It's all very exciting! It is a writing contest, and my entry is due on Saturday at the stroke of midnight. Very Marty McFly, isn't it?Read More
I just moved son #3 cross-country to Washington D.C. He deeply disappointed me by taking almost none of the wonderful things I've been storing expressly for his first post-college apartment. In typical millennial fashion, he thinks he knows what's what when it comes to good stuff. That he gave a thumbs-down to the Lillian August wingback chair that I nursed him in is evidence of the contrary.
"What's the ruffly thing on it?" he asked.
"That's called a chair skirt, and if you don't like it, we can just cut it off," I said, pulling up the fabric to reveal four perfect hardwood legs underneath.
"It's grandma-y," he said. "I think I'll pass."Read More
I was out to lunch with someone I hadn't seen in a couple years. I asked her, "How's your nephew? The one who lived with you for a while?"
She made a face. "He's shacking up with a woman of questionable character," she said.
"Drugs?" I asked.
"No, she's an exotic dancer." And then she leaned in and said, "But please don't think I'm judging you."Read More
This week, a friend sent a link to a humor writing contest. Called the Royal Nonesuch Humor Writing Contest, it is sponsored by the Mark Twain Museum in Hartford, Connecticut. The deadline is next week, so click here to enter. Full disclosure, you have to pay $23 to submit, but I strongly encourage you to give it a try, as one of the prizes is a gift certificate to the Mark Twain store in Hartford, Connecticut. The "Cat in the Ruff" laminated bookmark is super cute.Read More
One afternoon last summer, I fell asleep on the patio and dreamt that a deer walked up and licked me. I awoke with a start and there in the distance stood a doe, gazing at me, and — I am not making this up —her eyes were filled with longing.
No surprise, really, when one considers that I am perpetually covered in a thin sheen of salt, a side-effect of hot flashes. That day was no different. To the doe, I must have appeared a rounded-off salt lick.Read More
It was April in Wisconsin, the meanest month of the year when winter jabs a fat finger in your chest and laughs as she slowly backs out the door. Coincidentally, April also happened to be the name of my companion that night.
April and I can't go anywhere without drawing a lot of attention. Maybe because she's what you would call a long tall drink of water. Or a nice piece of wicker. She's one of those lucky dames who never has to contend with the usual midwestern roll of fat that can turn on your laptop if you're not careful. It's just not in her DNA.Read More
You did not misread that headline. I'm not writing about a "cold snap." In my Wisconsin world, this is "cold crack" season and I dread it like I dread a pile of unfolded fitted sheets.
To be honest, it's not exactly the crack that's cold. It's the upper jowls of the buttocks that retain coldness with an awful tenacity.
But "cold crack" has a nice ring to it. It's an anatomical alliteration that was invented by my friend Mike. He talks in rapid fire double entendres and makes puns in his sleep.Read More
No photoshop here. This is an actual snapshot of my high school classmate, circa 1980. (To protect his identity, we can call him "Ken Nelson.") On the eve of another New Year's, let's talk about that cliché of all clichés: high school parties. If you hate reading about stupidity in action, skip to the end of this post. You'll see an odd little party accessory from 1941 that I am selling. The proceeds will go towards an old debt incurred during the most epic high school party I ever had the good fortune to attend. However, if you got a thrill out of the cracked Steuben egg in Risky Business, then read on.Read More
My mother. That's her in a Kurdish costume on a trip to Iran sometime in the 1970s. She is spunky. Fun. Curious. Outspoken. One-of-a-kind. In May, I read a short essay about her at the annual Listen to Your Mother show in Milwaukee.Read More
Back in September, I started a series called "What Not to Buy New," in which I talk about the categories of things that we ought to buy used or vintage. You can read Part One here.
Today's post is Part Two, about collectibles. Some of us collect quirky things, don't we? I bet you can remember with pride each time you found a piece to add to your collection. I doubt I need to encourage you to hunt for your collectibles in vintage and antique shops.Read More
Good design begins by breaking rules. It challenges the suppositions that society places on an object's use and look.
This set of built-in bunks (above) is a fine example of good design. The designers, Tim Barber Ltd., take a kid's furniture staple, the old rickety bunk bed, and beef it up by enclosing it, painting it an interesting non-kid color, and basically turning it into an architectural element in its own right.Read More
I wrote last week that on Mondays at noon, I'll be posting a round-up of links on subjects that are near and dear to my heart. I'll be zeroing in on the recent best of the web about women over forty, writing, vintage and antiques, Wisconsin, and the home. Oh, and pranks.
If you subscribe to my emails, you'll receive one email on Fridays, containing both the new Monday post and the regular Friday post. Thank you so much for your support as I increase the time spent on this blog. Your time is extremely valuable, as is the space in your email box, so I continually endeavor to bring you consistently good content. Or to make you laugh.Read More
Today’s post is about Amy Sedaris. Some of you may ask: who is Amy Sedaris? Well, pardon me as I aerate my lungs so I can scream, “SHE IS A LIVING LEGEND!” If this is the first time you are hearing about her, I am sad at your circumstance but glad to enlighten you.
Anyway, the fabulous Miss Amy Sedaris is a comic. Maybe you know her from Comedy Central’s Strangers with Candy. Maybe you know her big brother, David. He’s almost as funny. But his face isn't quite as elastic as hers. She's got play-doh features and eyebrows wired with fishline that enable her to transform herself into characters we recognize from that one time we went to Ho-Chunk Casino.Read More
I have a treat for you today, a rich buffet of Halloween goodness. My sister and her family dress up together, as a fivesome, every Halloween. Anyone who has conceived of, organized, and executed a group costume knows the difficulty involved. Committing to this endeavor, year after year, even as her children grow into obstinate teens, even when her inner voice begs for a break to just sit out a year for land's sake, and watch that other modern family celebrate Halloween on TV, shows a strength of mind that I am proud to see in my little sis. I must publicly say how much I admire her achievement. And now you can too!Read More
Anyone in a clown mask can frighten a small child. In my family, little kids are what we call low-hanging fruit. Today's prank is the equivalent of a ladder to the top branches of the apple tree where the teens hang out. Teens make the best Halloween victims because they hate to show fear in front of adults -- it is a sign of weakness, an acknowledgment that we still have influence on them.Read More