A Fireside Chat

The fog enshrouded woods outside my window brings a melancholy reminder of my own mortality. I respond by drawing the drapes and sitting in front of the fire, mug in hand, staring out past the empty porch swing where I spent most summer evenings. The wintery day calls for reflection. People my age complain that life has passed too quickly, but I don’t agree. That’s what I’m thinking about today—how full the years have been. No speeding flight, it’s taken me a lifetime to arrive. I recall past...
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God in the Details– Random Apologies and the Soul

What is it there about an apology? Today  I opened my email and there it was, a totally random note of apology for a long-ago slight. Did I mention it was wholly unexpected? I started reading and felt the awesomeness of the writer's words soothing my injured places. Some of what she wrote, I agreed with (the part where she said she’d been snotty,) but upon second reading, what struck me most was realizing that she felt worse about the event than I did. I read her note to the end and I was smi...
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Ten Ways to Stay Married that Don’t Involve Dieting or Dressing Up

My swimming coach said something today that made me think. “What we’re doing here is The Impossible and making it Fun!” I got what she was saying because sometime this month (I’m being coy here), my husband and I will celebrate our 45th Anniversary. Hard to believe! Up to this point I thought this particular wedding anniversary was celebrated by people with white hair and character marks on their wrinkled little faces. But, apparently not, because here the two of us, barely out of college ...
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Spring & the Zen of Gardening

It took moving to Oregon to finally understand the meaning of spring. In the area of California where I used to live, the days start getting warm in February. By March the days are gorgeous. Sometimes the first 80-degree day hits early, feeling like it's 100. By the time April 21 rolls around, the official start of spring seems like someone’s idea of a joke. In Oregon, the spring equinox finally makes sense. On target, the earth explodes in the third week of April, its arrival celebrated w...
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Some Quick Thoughts on Writing Before I Forget Them

I’m reading Thomas Moore’s little book, Meditations. One of those gems that delivers a bolt of enlightenment on every page. Like Anne Lamott if she were a monk. Small, intense books pave my path to sagehood. They would be my path to sainthood if I paid attention to all the lessons they teach. Instead, I’m cursed with a weakness that lets the world tear away my best intentions. That’s it, in a nutshell. My obstacle to perfection is that I’m two women. (I explore this in my memoir, Ordina...
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Stylist Wars

I know better than to be late for a hair appointment. After all, those ladies have to make a living, too. So if I had followed my own advice I wouldn’t be writing this sad story. I had a hair appointment today. New place, new town. I’d won a gift certificate to the shop in a charity auction event. I had no idea where I was going, but I had the name of the shopping center. How hard could it be? I drove around the shopping center twice, three times, looking for the salon. Finally I found the ce...
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15 Lessons About Playing Solitaire

Every writer I know plays Solitaire while they’re waiting for inspiration or coming down from the natural high of being “in the zone.” It occurred to me this morning that most of life’s lessons apply to Solitaire. Sit up straight, don’t slump. Don’t assume anything. Luck is passive. Winning because of our skill feels better. Don’t be greedy. Nobody wins every hand. Be careful what you ask for. The hand that lets you use every single card in the initial lay-out will leave you out...
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Writing With George

On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time. - George Orwell I found this quote somewhere last week and it cracked me up. By coincidence, I’m working on a novel with this theme. In my novel I channel a middle-age Mexican man with self-doubts. Preliminary readers say it works, and I’ll bask in the glow until my editor gets her copy. By implied consent she gets to say it doesn’t unless I can convince us both that my way works. One thing we never di...
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Our Grandmothers, Ourselves

This is an excerpt from Branches on the Conejo: Leaving the Soil After Five Generations, my memoir celebrating life in (then) the rural Southern California community of Thousand Oaks. We daughters of the soil bear a long and affectionate link to the past. When most of us left home for the glamour and the financial opportunity of the city, we didn’t understand that we were abandoning our rural heritage. We thought we could escape the drudgery of chores and save up a nest egg for retirement. We...
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Here’s to Friends Far and Near

Four  months have passed since I took flight from my comfortable old zip code in California. It's starting to sink in that I was pretty hard on my friends when I announced that we had found our dream property in another state. In retrospect I was rather blasé over my quick-and-easy lifestyle change.  I filled every conversation with fun facts about my new house and community. My friends and family made brave faces and fixed frozen smiles while I assured everyone that we would stay in touch an...
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