Black History Month Note 1: Let’s Talk About Ethel Waters

        “Sometimes I think this big size of mine has prevented me from becoming a human being. Nobody’s protective instincts ever seemed to be aroused by a huge girl. I was so eager to feel sheltered and have people like me. I was hungry for a kind word. When it didn’t come […]

Who Needs a Purpose?

        Saturday morning, my to-do list hit the seesaw in my sleepy brain (snooze again? get up? snooze?) and bounced me out of bed. Moving briskly, I made my husband’s coffee and smoothie, fed and walked the dog, did the grocery shopping, dropped stuff off at the recycling center and the thrift […]

Recipe Stories: Toast

    I started to say there is no bad toast—a simple enough sentiment but simply wrong. Simple, it turns out, is often difficult, and mere simplifications are lies. Good toast is twice-baked to the right degree both times, twice-realized, twice-perfected. Art, craft, ingredients, and timing go into it, and the process starts with a […]

Choose Your Treat

        Everybody has to earn their paycheck, so Willie must do a ridiculous array of tricks to procure the dog treats I dole out through the day. But I do let him choose. I hold up two bags of possibility, and he sniffs each one, deliberates, brow furrowed, then swipes the bag […]

He Liked Bockwurst Sausage and Runny Eggs

        One of my cousins just emailed a slew of us some genealogical information about our grandfather. The day he was born—in downtown St. Louis, when all this time I thought it was Washington, Missouri. The address, on North 13th Street. That his mother’s name was Anna Marie. That his grandfather was […]

The Cheekiness of Corporate Voices

    Nike Run Club got weird this week. I use the app to measure my speed and distance on runs and have always left the volume on my phone off because the voices of its encouragement sound corporate and insincere. “Wow! Great job,” a faceless trainer-actor will say aloud, if I let him, after […]

The Existential Air Fryer

        I could have devoted last week to work, love, nature, or philosophy. Instead, I poured vast amounts of energy into the acquisition of an air fryer. This has happened before. Not with an air fryer, though: this device, though launched in 2010, is new to me. My purchase thus required diligent […]

Do the Math?

        “Why should I have to study all this stupid math?” the kid grumbled. “I’m never gonna use it.” “You probably won’t,” my husband said. The girl’s mother shot him a glare that would fell a giant. “But math will teach you how to think,” he continued, “and that you will use […]

Found Objects: A Bear With No Name

    A teddy bear without a name feels like bastardy; obviously that does not preclude a royal heart. My old teddy bear is wrapped in tissue paper and tucked safely in a shoebox—an impromptu vessel, like Queequeg’s coffin, that has sailed through the decades and delivered its occupant safely to many new lands. I […]