Christmas symbols: Lights

Putting up Christmas lights is a tradition at our house. Whether stringing them along the eaves of the roof or wrapping them around the trunks of palm trees, getting the lights up signifies that we are anticipating Christmas. I remember taking drives with my parents as a child and peering […]

The Light of the world

snake oil cure

Gullible’s Trials: Weird Remedies

How gullible can I be? Seems like I’m willing to try all kinds of remedies to lose weight, look younger, or get rid of brown spots, skin tags, and spiders. Can you relate? Apple cider vinegar will help me lose weight? Tried it. (Nope, didn’t work. Maybe because I kept […]

Don’t Ignore the Alarm

The fire alarm woke me just before midnight. I was staying on the second floor of a hotel in Georgia. There’d been a false alarm during the day a few days earlier, but it shut off after a minute or two. I peeked out in the hallway and saw people […]

fireman responds to alarm


Missed Opportunities

Ever tried to capture the perfect expression on a child’s face, only to have your camera or phone click one second too late? Or try to catch the peak moment of an athletic event with the same result? How about those times when you’ve had a delightful dinner, vacation, weekend […]

Words Are Like Jewels

To a writer, words are the tools of the trade. We agonize over finding just the right word to convey a specific meaning. Don’t use “walked” when “strode,” “shuffled,” or “ambled” is a better fit. Sometimes, it’s not the word, it’s the order of the words in a phrase or sentence. […]

Words are like jewels

The way is hard

Which Way to Go?

When I travel by car, I enjoy noticing unusual road signs, especially town names. I’ve had a fascination with odd place names for a long time. I remember Monkey’s Eyebrow, a real town in Kentucky, and Wildcat Hollow (pronounced “holler”), a vague location where my father grew up. Minnesota has […]

What to Do When You’re Speechless

Ever worry about what you’re going to say in a crucial moment? I sure do. I’m heading to a writer’s conference this week, with some anxiety about being effective when I pitch my story idea to agents and editors. But there are other times I feel inadequate about expressing my […]

what to say

Waiting for Irma

Like hundreds of thousands of others, we spent much of the weekend waiting for and watching the progress of Hurricane Irma. We’re safe in Iowa, but we have many friends in Fort Myers and other parts of Florida, and we’re concerned about our winter home there. I think the waiting may […]

What Is Labor Day?

I’ve been grandparenting for the past week, and in the process got a bad cold, so I’m following my own advice and taking Labor Day off. Here’s what I posted a year ago. I think it remains relevant: A character in the Sunday comics this week mistakenly thought Labor Day had something […]

Eclipse crowds

One of the Crowd

Are you one of the millions of people in the path of totality for the eclipse today? Is there a crowd where you were, or did you watch it with just a few people? In my hometown of Hopkinsville, Kentucky–one of the sites with the longest duration of totality–some hundred thousand […]