writers and writing

Essay: Playing to Win

Nov 8, 2019

My husband and I are playing Monopoly with our granddaughter, Emmy.   She’s eleven years old and loves the game, although she rarely wins.   

“I’ll buy it,” she says no matter where she lands and she’ll spend her last dollar on houses and hotels in anticipation of fabulous returns.  Her grandfather and I, on the other hand, are more cautious players.  He carefully considers each purchase and counts out his money as if it were real.

Essay: Perfect Features

Oct 25, 2019

When I was fourteen, I decided that my nose was funny looking.  Juggling two mirrors, I would examine my profile—and there it was:  plain as the funny-looking nose on my face. 

Not a movie star nose but a little tipped-up number with no dignity or elegance.  How humiliating.  So, during most of my ninth grade year I sat in class with my finger holding down the end of my nose.  I don’t know whether anyone noticed this odd behavior.

Essay: Morning Despair

Oct 18, 2019

On some mornings, I roll out of bed wondering why bother?  Everything seems useless or scary or overwhelming.  Maybe I should just give it up and pull the covers over my head.  “Existential despair,” a counselor called it once.  Anxiety about the purpose of life.

Essay: Half-Done Bacon

Oct 11, 2019

Every morning my father fixes his own breakfast.  When I arrive at the kitchen table, he is already standing at the stove in a white apron, taking orders.

“Anyone want bacon?” he asks.  “Eggs?”

My brother and I always refuse, not liking Dad’s undercooked bacon or the way he makes the eggs.  He calls them “scrambled” but he just cracks them on the grill and stirs them around a little—leaving jiggly patches of raw egg whites.

“I’ll have one piece of bacon,” Mom says and puts it on top of her toast.

Essay: Greta

Oct 4, 2019

Years ago while at a conference in a big city, I purchased a teddy bear for my young daughter which she named Greta.  She was a particularly charming bear, I thought, with soft brown fur and deep brown eyes, and she soon accompanied us everywhere, riding in grocery carts and sitting at the table in a high chair.

Essay: Gift Certificates

Sep 27, 2019

A while ago, my husband gave me a gift certificate to one of my favorite restaurants, a little hole-in-the-wall place called the Blue Heron in Traverse City.  They served the most remarkable food—elegant salads and hearty breakfasts—and I loved going there with friends, installing ourselves in a cozy booth and taking our time.


Essay: Clothes Pins

Sep 20, 2019

On a bright summer morning, I walk out to the back yard and hang my towel on the line.  Then, in a moment of gratitude, I stop to consider the clothes pin.  It’s just two pieces of wood in a coil of wire—but how efficient!  How simple and elegant and endlessly useful!


Essay: Child Abuse

Sep 13, 2019

Before I became a parent, I was sure that people who abused their children were other kinds of people.  I couldn’t imagine harming a child and was confident I never would.


Essay: Pretty Stones

Sep 6, 2019

My husband and I are walking along a Lake Michigan shoreline, listening to the waves and leaning into the wind.  Mostly we’re here for the beauty and the exercise, but I can’t resist glancing down from time to time—looking for beach stones.


Essay: Bad Day

Aug 30, 2019

I don’t even notice that I’m getting out of bed on the wrong side until I grab for my socks and shove my toe into the heel.  And I wonder whether I should climb right back in and call it a day… a bad day.


Essay: Circle of Light

Jan 4, 2019

I am walking in my neighborhood on a winter day and see a mother pulling a small child on a sled. As they cross the street, the sled bounces down a curb and suddenly I feel the jolt and it is my mittened hands gripping the wooden frame.