Before I go, I have something to say

Category: Columns

It Was the Best of Fairs, It Was the Worst of Fairs

It’s been a long time since I went to the fair. When I say “the” fair, I don’t mean Dubuque County’s, but the Mississippi Valley Fair, in my hometown of Davenport. What I still love about that one is its location – right smack in […]

When Someone Calls You a Sheep

Do you wear a mask? Good for you! Has someone called you a “sheep” for doing so? It’s something that is happening to friends and family of mine, and it’s very strange. My daughter heard a man who passed her in the Target parking lot […]

A Racist in the Family

A Racist in the Family My grandpa, Grover Ripperton, was loving, and funny, and a complete racist. He bemoaned the integration of his beloved baseball games, calling the players nasty names that must have made my parents wince, but we never talked about it. My […]

A Murder-Suicide in the Family

A Murder-Suicide in the Family

Years ago, I wrote a poem titled “How My Cousin Nancee Died.” I knew only that her husband, Steve, had shot her, and her pianist, and then himself – a double-murder-suicide. (She had a pianist because she was a singer. Her husband evidently suspected an […]

My Tribe

My Tribe

A lot of people I know were stunned by the outcome of last November’s election. How could this happen? Why didn’t we see it coming? Why did they vote for him? Therein lies a problem. Who, exactly, are “they”? The ballot box is secret. Unlike […]

The Perks of Being Fired by My Doctor

The Perks of Being Fired by My Doctor

Have you ever been fired by a doctor? When it happened to me, six years ago, I was devastated. Not only would Dr. Doe (name changed, pronouns scrambled) no longer see me after three years of treating my headaches, he would not allow any of […]

Do Something Good

Late last month, a story in the TH stunned me with its tale of human cruelty. Its setting was not a bombed city in the Mideast, or a flooded island south of the equator. It took place in Iowa, in an office. You can probably […]

Becoming Grandma

Ever since last August, when my son and his wife brought twin daughters into the world, I have wanted to write about them. And I have, in letters, Facebook posts, and in these very pages. Often, though, I hesitate. No one wants to listen day […]

In Memory Of

I went looking for Mark Anderson the other day. I hadn’t heard from him in years, but wondered about him, off and on, since we graduated from high school together. Our class numbered 698 teenage souls, but my circle of friends was a mere subset. […]

A Death in the Family

A Death in the Family

Bob and I returned home late, one warm August night. As usual, our cat, Leo, greeted us, flopping down on the living room floor, ready for his nighttime routine. First, get brushed, rolling over on cue. Next, wait for the fistful of treats that come as […]

Missing Friend

Eden (not her real name, for reasons that will become evident) is one of my oldest friends. After being paired as perfect roommates in college, we remained part of each other’s lives, meeting  up in Colorado, Paris, L.A., and always writing letters. She settled on […]

The Valley of the Dolls

We have survived the move. We put every single thing we owned into boxes, bins, and Hy-Vee bags, and now we live in another place. It’s only two miles from our old house, but I sometimes feel like we went to the moon. The house […]

Father of the Year

This is a story of three fathers. The first was Harold. He became a father six years after he married my mom, and he became my father eight years later. His children were both girls, which was a shame since he had so much to […]

A Very Very Very Fine House

This is the tale of three houses. One I grew up in, one I raised my children in, and one I moved into when my nest emptied and I married for a second time. I will be leaving this last one soon, as we move […]

Books to Go

Everybody knows moving is one of the most stressful life events. Only . . . it’s not true. The BBC debunked this stubborn myth two years ago, putting “moving into a new home” way down behind one hundred other stressors. Your response to this news […]

What’s in a Name?

Last August, my son and his wife welcomed twin daughters into the world. Bob and I were there, along with the other about-to-be grandparents and a few other lucky family members. Months before, Dan had called with the astonishing news of two babies, where we […]

Limping Towards Gratitude

Thanksgiving is over, but I’m still thinking about gratitude. Two things happened, shortly after the holiday, that have me pondering what gratitude is, and how it might sustain us. I am not one for truisms and affirmations. Give me Leonard Cohen’s “There is a crack […]

Poetry Is Your Friend

Let me introduce myself. I’m a poet. I love good poetry. (It’s not all good, far from it.) When someone asks me to compose a poem for an occasion, I’m usually up for it, though I won’t write love poems for you to text to […]

The Truthiness Is Out There

When we travel, I tend to look up every trivial thing that pops into my head. How old is Ringo Starr? Is Marianne Faithful still alive? Why was the University of Iowa so ticked off at the Stanford marching band? Could I order a tortilla […]

Lessons Learned, 2015 Edition

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and as I review what I wrote in 2015, certain truths leap off the page, some more pleasant than others. Somewhat chronologically, I learned the following, whether I wanted to or not: The […]