Uninspired

The rain this afternoon is no more than a whisper. Nothing worth mentioning, really. Last year's brown leaves are caught in the year-round, unremarkable green of the skimmia - I think it's a skimmia - and stuck in clumps, like old birds nests, among the confusions of the St. John's wort. The pots that don't have the dead or dormant remains of last year's plants have sprouted gray green beards of weed and moss. Read more about Uninspired

Working Out

"She'd drive to the bathroom if she could get the car in the house." So said an old boyfriend of mine about me, and he was so right. He loved walking. I just wanted to set a spell, smoke a cigarette, and read. If we had to go someplace, I wanted to get there as soon as possible so I could sit down, smoke a cigarette, and read. Of course, at the time I was also the size of a #2 pencil, so I didn't really feel the need to monitor my diet or take up anything strenuous. Read more about Working Out

Raising Carolina

It's early morning, August, 1975. A woman is sitting on the rough boards of an unpainted stoop that leads to the kitchen of her 100-year-old white clapboard farmhouse, holding her new daughter in her arms. She is very likely nursing the baby, as she looks across the yard to a barn that's the same age as the house, a chicken coop, and an ancient log cabin that predates every other building on the place. It's a bright blue morning in Door County, Wisconsin, and she is singing.

Nothing could be finer than to be with Carolina in the morning.

Read more about Raising Carolina>

My-Time-of-Year

Why do so many people love autumn? It's the color, some say. It's the brisk air, say others. It's Halloween and Thanksgiving, candy corn and pumpkin pie. It's all about the orange. But I don't think that's the real reason that autumn is my favorite season. I think that autumn is the season when introverts come into their own. Read more about My-Time-of-Year

Only In the Movies?

The October 1913 issue of National Geographic featured an article by George Kennan entitled An Island in the Sea of History, The Highlands of Daghestan. In it, he describes a scene you might think existed only in the fevered imaginations of Hollywood directors, but which in fact took place within a year or so of the beginning of World War I, not too distant from the far away places with strange-sounding names in our news today. Read more about Only In the Movies?

Oh My Papa

One of the last things my father said to me, as I prepared to move to Seattle in 1985, was "You're never going to be normal, are you?"

A couple of years into the new century, when my brother ushered me into his presence at the nursing home, he greeted me with, "Barbara! Our first born." And then a whispered, "We always loved you best."

And I thought, I'll take that one, Dad. Read more about Oh My Papa

Westward Ho the Toyota

The best memories my son, Christopher, and I share involve a car and a road atlas. He was probably 7 or so the first time we took off together, just the two of us. We were living on the farm in Door County, WI, and every summer we headed for my parents' place on Lake Benedict in Minnesota. My husband couldn't always get away from work at a convenient time but, as it turned out, Chris and I were generally happy to get away by ourselves. Read more about Westward Ho the Toyota

My Buddy

A Horse Tale

I'm jealous. A friend of mine just bought a horse. I've wanted a horse ever since I was a little girl - just like every single other little girl I've ever known or read about. Little girls - and big girls, too - are notoriously horse crazy.

I bought a horse once. It's not a pretty story.

Back in the 70's, my (now ex-) husband and I owned a farm in Door County, Wisconsin. Eighty acres. An old farm house. A barn. An ancient but still standing log cabin. Maple woods. An apple orchard. Fields of alfalfa. Perfect for a horse. Read more about My Buddy