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Unraveling

Essays
University of Chicago Magazine, Alumni Essay. Pages 52 – 53 (Sept/Oct 2014).

Rattling south on Chicago’s ‘L’ with my daughter and 200 pounds of her stuff wedged into six suitcases, I wish Lyda would turn and say she’ll miss me. With her phone pressed to the window, she snaps pictures of Big City possibilities instead, and finger-flicks them to friends. Wrigley Field’s rooftop bleachers. Snap. Swish. A river that runs green for St. Paddy’s Day. Snap. Swish. She’s already left me, I realize; her body’s just waiting to catch up after I drop her at college for the first time. I dread the reverse journey, me alone on the train racing to O’Hare to catch a Tucson-bound flight. For more, click download button above!

Dementia

Essays
Passages North. Pages 119-122 (Winter/Spring, 2011) and read by Monica Nordeen on Public Radio 90 (WNMU-FM), May 7, 2014 @ 0935.

My mother talks to plants. I’ve heard her coo to dinner plate-sized peony blossoms, thanking them, as if they put on the show just for her. Walking the garden path towards the assisted living facility where she now lives, I imagine what she would say to the landscaping. Most likely it would be “you poor, poor thing,” her hand gently caressing a juniper ruthlessly clipped into a soldiers-at-attention cone. I pass under a lollipop-shaped birch tree, its boughs tortured into an immobile sphere, and recall her once staring in awe at her own garden, pointing to the branches of a Japanese maple swaying in the breeze, asking me to stand beside her and see how the light flickered through its crimson leaves. For more, click download button above!

Kayak Communications

Essays
Sugar Mule, Women Writing Nature Anthology (2013).

My two daughters and I hugged the shores of the Bay of Fundy off Alma, New Brunswick, in a three-person kayak. The water was flat as an open bottle of root beer, the day bright, sunny, and warm — a rare springtime day for this part of the bay. I saw an easy paddle, us three girls enjoying a delightful afternoon exploring the coast. On vacation and adventurous, I was open to what the trip offered. For more, click download button above!

Notes from the Editor

Essays
Tail Winds, bi-monthly, 1000 words plus 1 photo (2012-2013).

Running and I finally broke up. In hindsight it had been an unhealthy relationship, full of obsession on my part and abuse on running’s part. It took years of pain—Achilles tendinitis, shin splints, post tibia tendinitis—gouges to my pocketbook for frequent new kicks with the latest scientifically engineered soles, and sneaking around, mainly from my 9 to 5 job, so that we could be together, before I got the message that we weren’t working out. For more, click download button above!

Dream House

Essays
SLAB, Issue 4. Pages 139-144 (2009).

When it comes to remodeling, many couples argue about decorating styles or cost. Our conflict was different. David idled in apathy and I rushed into obsession. For two years I devoured interior decorating magazines and planned the renovation of our historic home.  Multi-colored Post-it Notes poked from the stacks of books and magazines on my nightstand—a rainbow of dreams. I tried not to notice my husband’s glazed-over expression when I discussed the house, hoping that once renovation was underway, David would show some interest in the process. For more, click download button above!

Grandma's Springerle Cookies

Essays
German Life. Pages 62-63 (December/January 2010).

Every Christmas season I make several batches of springerle cookies, from my grandmother’s handed-down recipe, and give them as gifts. To my family, these hard anise-seed cookies, embossed with a raised design, are known as “Grandmother’s Cookies.”  Each time I press one of her three wooden molds into silky-textured dough, I think of my grandmother doing the same, as well as her mother, and her mother’s mother. It’s as if my soul travels through time and communicates with my female forebears.  Our hands have touched the same piece of wood—carvings passed from one cook to another—and over a century they have produced a symbol of love and family. For more, click download button above!

Biddies, Bug-Bites, and Boo-Boos

Essays
Motherwords. Pages 46-47 (Fall 2008).

“Mom, what are you staring at?” Lyda, my 12-year-old daughter, asked.
We stood in our future home’s backyard, where the addition met the original house.  The construction drawings lay on the ground. Two-year-old Ava ran around behind me while my husband Ronald inspected inside the house.
I stared at the point just above ground level, comparing the old house and the addition with the plans. Something was missing. For more, click download button above!

The Memory Box

Essays
Stone’s Throw Magazine. Vol. 4 (2010).

It was a mid-October Tuesday when I learned that we exist merely as trinkets and gene fragments. Nothing more.My husband, Peter, and I shared high-time dreams during our journey to Tucson’s Cancer Center for his second round of chemotherapy. He talked of his soon-to-be-completed novel, his passion for fishing, the tip of Long Island. Peter wanted to show Lyda, our year-and-a-half old daughter, fishermen in their Boston Whalers hauling in bay scallops and halibut with the morning tide. He wanted to show her where he grew up. I spoke of upcoming holidays, roast turkey, pumpkin pie, dolls wrapped in colorful paper, a noble fir adorned with shiny glass balls. For more, click download button above!

Grandma's Cookies

Essays
Good Old Days (2009)

Fruitcake Mission

Essays
Thanksgiving to Christmas: A patchwork of stories, edited by Dixon Hearne. Pages 39-43 (2009).

I perch on the kitchen’s wooden stool with a note pad in front of me.  The smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking bread fills the kitchen; the scent envelops me like a velvet cloak.  Outside the picture window, trees sway in the wind, crimson and gold maple leaves flutter to the ground.  Like the damp earth, my counter is also splattered with color:  brown sugar, tawny spices, red cranberries, green pistachios.  It’s fruitcake baking season.  A torn page from a magazine leans cockeyed against the window sill.  The paper is yellowed and my handwriting noting alterations to the ingredients crawls through butter stains.  It doesn’t matter; I know the recipe by heart. For more, click download button above!