Last Meals

As a young girl, I loved to fish, especially with my granddad on the pontoon early in the Missouri summer. We would fish Pomme de Terre Lake around 6 or 6:30 a.m. and angle for crappie, sunfish, and perch until lunch. When we had a “mess of fish,” Granddad’s language, he and grandma would clean […]

How Writers Write While Raising Human Beings, Part 1

“I’m right now in the Dordogne very close to Montaigne’s château and library, and I confess I have found myself thinking of the father of the essay and how decadent it might have been for him to be the father of the essay instead of the caregiver of his daughter, because an essay waits patiently […]

Clark Gable Will Never Quit

San Francisco (1936) is a four-star film at Turner Classic Movies. It stars Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, and Spencer Tracy, and is set in the months leading up to the 1906 earthquake. IMDB says it is about “A Barbary Coast saloonkeeper and a Nob Hill impresario [who] are rivals for the affections of a beautiful […]

Upon This Rock

Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? Or hast thou walked in the search of the depth? —Job 38:16   The Old Minster at Winchester Cathedral was built in 645 AD. By the year 1000 there was a cathedral there about one-third the size of today’s. But the site was swampy and peaty, […]

Instagram Museums, the Missouri Edition

Amanda Hess’ September 26 piece for The New York Times was a brilliant and incisive look at how New York’s (and San Francisco’s, to some degree) pop-up-museum scene serves as a great social-media photo backdrop for the younger set. The story embodied American culture’s preeminent desire to capture the perfect evidence of colorful, whimsical, I-am-not-missing-out, […]

The Apparition of a Face in the Crowd

I went to a reading the other night for someone I have known for a decade. I call him a friend, but really we are something between Facebook friends and former colleagues who rarely saw each other in person. We have kept in spotty touch, and several times he was generous enough to Skype-in to […]

Consider the Cell Tower

Driving across the Midwest at harvest, one experiences again the long vistas of sun slanting on fields, dust rising from combines, farmhouses and pole barns at great distances like Monopoly houses waiting on a roll of the dice. Cornucopia, plenty, gratitude, safety, blessings:   Come, ye thankful people, come, Raise the song of harvest home! […]

Do To-Do Lists Really Work?

This Friday I will venture to a small southern Missouri town (population 586) named Tecumseh, named after the great Shawnee chief and warrior. Almost every spring and fall, since April 2015, I have packed up my compact car and driven to Ozark County for a writing retreat in the woods near the North Fork of […]

Of Focus and Technology

Brace yourself: I have discovered an American middle-class couple who leave their phones on the kitchen table when they work elsewhere in the house or in their yard, and they do not check them when they come back. They also turn their phones off at night, and when they leave the house to go out, […]

The Cold (Ancient) Comfort of Beer

Beer has been in the news a lot lately, and not just because a particular U.S. Supreme Court nominee may have enjoyed a cold one, or a keg or two, in June 1982. Stanford University archaeologists near Haifa, Israel have discovered humans may have first started brewing and drinking beer 13,000 years ago, not 5,000 […]