This week’s post is a little sloppy because the weather is fine so I am required to report for weed duty. They are unstoppable, the bindweed, the lamb’s quarter, the farter’s button, overrunning every inch of our idyllic little farm like the oligarch tourists swarming over Lake Como.Read More
English is not his mother tongue but that doesn’t stop my dad from going through the fine print on contracts. “Part and labor for one year,” he reads aloud to me.
I correct him. “Parts,” I say.
“Do parts include silly putty?” he asks me.
“What are you talking about?”
He had noticed a leak coming from the new air conditioner. The front panel is attached via round bolts threaded through oval holes. Which explains the minute threads of cooled air escaping past his outstretched hand. He calls the HVAC guy and tells him to bring his silly putty.Read More
I’m going to share a bunch of ideas we’ve discussed for this farm. In case you’re new here, we purchased a farm that is currently a perennial plant nursery and a gift shop. We did not purchased the actual business, though, so we have been considering all manner of proposals. This has been fun, especially for someone like me who is a squirrel and scampers after anything shiny.Read More
Shortly after moving to Wisconsin over twenty years ago, my husband and I took a Saturday drive with our friend Stacey out to a very special farm and garden center called Monches Farm. We climbed out of the car and fell instantly in love with the overwhelming beauty of the place: deep rolling furrows of field-grown perennials, stone and timber outbuildings, a big red barn with antiques and gifts, pergolas and statuary, a glass house with teetering stacks of pottery, a vast inventory of day lilies, and dozens of exotic chickens freely pecking hither and non.Read More
My husband is an ethics officer of a large Fortune 500 company. He regularly conducts investigations of ethical misconduct, and while he isn’t shocked by the college admissions scandal, he finds it fascinating.
Most of my husband’s cases involve smart people doing stupid things for a little extra edge or a little extra money. They risk their career, their personal relationships, their reputation for a few thousand bucks, or a roll in the hay with a subordinate. Why?Read More
When I was six, I ran away from home. I packed my favorite doll, Betsy, into my red vinyl purse and hit the road.
Soon after the screen door slammed behind me, I encountered a problem I hadn’t anticipated. My parents forbade me crossing the street alone. What to do?
I asked Betsy. Maybe now is the time to mention that Betsy was a “Flatsy,” one of those popular dolls of the 1960s with the disconcerting combination of luscious, shiny, three-dimensional hair attached to a flattened head and body. Betsy looked like she’d been run over by a steam roller. She did not encourage me to cross the street.Read More
Technically, this post is about the rehab of our hall bathroom. In actuality, I’m excited to delve into some of the grittier aspects of bathrooms and boys. You have been warned.
For twenty years, our four sons, aka our ManBearPigs, shared a small bathroom that measured 8 x 8. Thinking back on those days, it was quite manageable. When they were little, they loved communal bath time so much that the promise of bubbles in the tub was strong incentive for good behavior. And while I was forever straining to clean that weird spot on the base of the toilet with my stubby T-Rex arms, I don’t recall things getting rough until the middle school years.Read More
Why are tureens obsolete? When did that happen? Was it before I was born? I mean, I’ve been around the block a few times. I know how to use a payphone and I’ve eaten at a Ground Round (Homecoming ‘79). Yet I have no recollection of seeing a host or hostess use a tureen. EVER. That includes my friend Wendy who is a Daughter of the American Revolution and owns finger bowls.
Last month at a small dinner, my friend Susan set her table with her mother’s china and sterling silver, and then ladled her delicious vichyssoise out of a Tupperware from the fridge. So burping plastic survived the leap to Y2K but not the elegant and functional tureen?Read More
My dad grew up in Hamadan, Iran, one of the oldest cities in the world. Situated in the shadow of the Zagros Mountains, Hamadan has one of the harshest climates in Iran. My dad remembers winters so frigid, the dead could not be buried.
So when he moved to Chicago for medical school, the weather didn’t completely shock him, though he did question the fear of a tornado - it's just wind! - until the dayRead More
Yes! My husband’s lifelong dream of farming has become a reality. My lifelong dream of writing high humor about chickens is on the verge of happening. We just purchased the prettiest farm you can imagine!
The excitement has nearly killed us. We can’t sleep for our anticipation. We wake up every day, look at each other and giggle, like we are seven and it’s Christmas morning. The last time I felt this way was when we first met. So I guess I’ve fallen in love!Read More
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
My son Nicholas is an artist. That is a self-portrait of him sitting on my dining room buffet. That is a portrait of his wife on the wall next to the buffet.
I remember that as a toddler, Nicholas didn't scribble. He simply began drawing faces. His favorite subjects were his grandfather who got a squiggly mustache and his father whom he always drew with a swooping necktie.Read More
This Tuesday, the northern hemisphere began its tilt back towards the sun, and Iranians around the world celebrated the Persian New Year, also known as Norooz. (It can also be spelled Norouz or Nowruz, as it is a phonetic approximation of the word as written in Farsi, the language of Iran. This inexactitude drives me a little crazy, tbh.)
In Iran, Norooz is an ecumenical holiday, meaning no matter your faith, you take part in the celebration. I liken it to the American Thanksgiving because as a holiday, it boils down to sitting around a table with your family for hours. On Thanksgiving, we express gratitude for the blessings we have enjoyed in the past. On Norooz, we express hope and joy for the future.Read More
Okay, maybe the finger puppet thing has gotten out of hand, so to speak. Perhaps I’ve come unraveled, as it were. Confusing fantasy and reality.
For those new to this blog, my finger puppet family was born a couple of years ago when my own kids gave me grief about posing for a family photo. You can read the original post here. Since then, my finger puppets have traveled the globe, documenting their adventures on Instagram under the hashtag #knittedtogetherforever.
If I'm posing with my finger puppet at a tennis tournament, or atop a mountain in Yosemite, I don't think it's much of a leap to make Halloween costumes for my finger puppet kids.Read More
Last summer, we almost bought a farm. It was a pretty place, up in Door County, Wisconsin, certified organic and very well-maintained. The stone and timber house sat nicely on the property, overlooking the horse pasture out front and the barley fields out back. But it was the fence of espaliered apple trees that completely captivated me.
Not that I would have a clue how to prune an espaliered apple tree fence. My mom grew up on a farm in Illinois, but she left for nursing school as soon as she could. She did not pass that knowledge along. Everything I know about farming I learned by reading the Little House books seventeen times. When the grasshopper cloud comes, you are screwed. Also, you can be minding your own business sweeping the dugout floor and by jingo, an oxen hoof will puncture you in the head. And don't even think about eating watermelons planted in the creek bottom.Read More
I traveled to Iowa recently to attend my niece's graduation. Over brunch, everyone was discussing a story in the news about some idiot kids who burned down one of those landmark Iowa covered bridges. They got caught when they posted photos of themselves standing at the bridge with a container of kerosene. Just despicable. We all tsk-tsked about the fall of civilization and how somewhere, Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep were crying.Read More
A few years ago, I watched the Albert Mayles documentary on Iris Apfel, the self-described nonagenarian starlet. Have you seen it? She's quite a woman, a darling of the New York fashion industry who worked as an editor at Vogue Magazine, founded her own textile company, decorated homes of the rich and famous, and recently stars in national ad campaigns for Kate Spade and Alexis Bittar.
But only once does she touch upon one reason for her success. The director asks her about children and she says, "You can't have it all. I knew that."
Oh, did those words sting me.Read More
In my suburban town, the unwritten dress code for girls attending prom is straightforward: juniors wear long gowns and seniors wear cocktail dresses. Over the years, as four sons attended, and I went to various houses to take photos, I never witnessed anyone who challenged this rule. Except for Clare.
Clare wore a vintage sari to prom.
Look at her. Was she not most fair and lovely? And so open to the world.Read More
Against a wintry backdrop, a man peruses a magazine while a woman shovels snow behind him. The couple are Don and Dottie Hagan, of Des Moines, Iowa, and something about their photo reminds me of Grant Wood's painting, American Gothic. Do you see it too? The Iowa setting, Don's deadpan expression, that shovel, the house in the background.
Unlike American Gothic's subjects, who were father and daughter, Don and Dottie are husband and wife. You won't be surprised to learn that they have been married for fifty-six years.
When I saw this photo, my first question was who took it?Read More
I don't know where to begin with this post because it is about loss and suffering - tough subjects to write about at Christmas time. But the truth is, this season is difficult for many people. Sadness does not take a holiday.
And Genna, the lovely young woman in the vintage dress, knows this too well.Read More