Thoughts on the Mad Men Finale

Way back in 1960 or so, I wrote a high school essay in defense of advertising, in which I proposed that whether or not products ever did for you what they promised to do, sometimes they could help you feel better about yourself for a while. You put on a certain brand of lipstick (I gave up wearing the stuff aeons ago) and while it doesn't substantially change you, for a while you might feel as if it did and sometimes that feeling is something you need to carry you through the day. Read more about Thoughts on the Mad Men Finale


The rain this afternoon is no more than a whisper. Nothing worth mentioning, really. Last year's brown leaves are caught in the year-round, unremarkable green of the skimmia - I think it's a skimmia - and stuck in clumps, like old birds nests, among the confusions of the St. John's wort. The pots that don't have the dead or dormant remains of last year's plants have sprouted gray green beards of weed and moss. Read more about Uninspired

Working Out

"She'd drive to the bathroom if she could get the car in the house." So said an old boyfriend of mine about me, and he was so right. He loved walking. I just wanted to set a spell, smoke a cigarette, and read. If we had to go someplace, I wanted to get there as soon as possible so I could sit down, smoke a cigarette, and read. Of course, at the time I was also the size of a #2 pencil, so I didn't really feel the need to monitor my diet or take up anything strenuous. Read more about Working Out

Raising Carolina

It's early morning, August, 1975. A woman is sitting on the rough boards of an unpainted stoop that leads to the kitchen of her 100-year-old white clapboard farmhouse, holding her new daughter in her arms. She is very likely nursing the baby, as she looks across the yard to a barn that's the same age as the house, a chicken coop, and an ancient log cabin that predates every other building on the place. It's a bright blue morning in Door County, Wisconsin, and she is singing.

Nothing could be finer than to be with Carolina in the morning.

Read more about Raising Carolina>


Why do so many people love autumn? It's the color, some say. It's the brisk air, say others. It's Halloween and Thanksgiving, candy corn and pumpkin pie. It's all about the orange. But I don't think that's the real reason that autumn is my favorite season. I think that autumn is the season when introverts come into their own. Read more about My-Time-of-Year

Only In the Movies?

The October 1913 issue of National Geographic featured an article by George Kennan entitled An Island in the Sea of History, The Highlands of Daghestan. In it, he describes a scene you might think existed only in the fevered imaginations of Hollywood directors, but which in fact took place within a year or so of the beginning of World War I, not too distant from the far away places with strange-sounding names in our news today. Read more about Only In the Movies?

Oh My Papa

One of the last things my father said to me, as I prepared to move to Seattle in 1985, was "You're never going to be normal, are you?"

A couple of years into the new century, when my brother ushered me into his presence at the nursing home, he greeted me with, "Barbara! Our first born." And then a whispered, "We always loved you best."

And I thought, I'll take that one, Dad. Read more about Oh My Papa