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Grandmothers swatting flies

I’m trying to get some work done here. Really I am.  And this damn fly just won’t leave me alone.  There’s a whole huge screened-in back porch here, and he just won’t stop flying next to me, literally, right in my face.

I don’t want to or have to kill him. I mean, I could.  It’s a skill that I learned from my father, how to kill flies by clapping your hands just above where they are going to fly, unsuspecting, upwards.  I can get them almost every time. Continue reading


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Are there alligators in your way?

Last month I went to a stimulating business conference in Orlando.  Surprisingly, the most memorable learning experience for me came out of a nature walk I took on the hotel grounds.

I discovered the hotel had a nature trail on its extensive grounds when I first arrived.  Getting to the path seemed straightforward enough on the hotel’s map, so I decided to walk it the next morning as a way to start my day.  I imagined that I would get fresh air and exercise while enjoying nature and becoming grounded.  With this clear vision in mind, I ventured out into the chilly Florida morning. Continue reading


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3 tips for getting everything you want this holiday season (and in life)

My mother used to tell a story about a Christmas morning early in her marriage to my father.  She had her eye on a certain camelhair coat displayed at a department store.  Her anticipation grew as Christmas drew near because a box appeared under the tree that was exactly the right size for the coat.  She described how she reserved opening that particular present for last. Finally, she tore off the paper, opened the box, and… it was a toilet seat cover! Even telling the story decades later her face would contort in an expression of disappointment and resentment.  It was meant as a practical joke by my father, but it fell flat, and he still rues the day he bought it. Continue reading


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Who cares if they don’t like my singing?

Recently I threw my husband a 50th birthday party and when it came time to sing Happy Birthday I was encouraged to say a few words. I laughed and said, “I’ll bet you never imagined growing up that the word “ukulele” would figure so prominently in your life!”

Then again, I never imagined that either, until three years ago when I picked it up for the first time. Now playing the ukulele has become an almost daily occurrence. I regularly go busking in Central Park as part of the duo Ukulicious and played at the Morgan Library last spring with my bluegrass group the Westside Irregulars (a paid gig!). And now I’m broadcasting “Your Guide to Love, Life, and the Ukulele” on Periscope, saying a few words on a theme of the day and Continue reading


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Lambs in the basement: a winter flashback

A hot cup of coffee.   Crispy, almost burnt toast.  An uncomfortable sense that I’m already behind in my day.  The only thing missing in this flashback to my childhood is the sound of bleating lambs coming from the basement, awaiting their breakfast.  I half expect my mother to turn the corner into the room, berating me for still lingering at the table instead of mixing up their vanilla-smelling milk concoction, made from powered Real Imitation Milk. Continue reading


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The Anti-New Year’s Resolution: Systems, not Goals

I love that freshly-washed feeling of the turn of a new year.  It could just be the fact that I get more sleep in the 10 days between Christmas and New Year’s because the kids are off from school, but I seem to have more energy and impetus to clear away things I’ve been tolerating, and similar to many people take the opportunity to look ahead to what’s next. Continue reading


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A post-election-day-candy-bar conundrum

I woke up yesterday angry at America. Angry at the world! And angry at my kids. Someone ate the Reese’s peanut butter cup right off my dresser, the one that I’d been saving, the one, truth be told, I took without asking right out of my son’s Halloween candy stash. Found the wrappers in the trash can, right within view, no hiding that. When confronted, neither my son nor daughter admitted to having eaten it. Could my husband, who is out of town, have eaten it? Nope, he texts me. Back to the kids. My son did his “I’m lying but pretending not to be” shrug, twice, and I shrugged it right back at him. He also claimed to have completed all his homework on Election Day – back to that in a minute – on his day off. Nope. Lying again. I looked straight at him and said, “I don’t understand why saying you didn’t eat a candy bar that I know you ate is worth defending.” At no point, however, did I admit that I had taken it right from the stash strewn over his floor. So that technically it was his. I was waiting for him to admit it first. Which being 13 he was not likely to do. Continue reading