It all comes out in the wash

If you had told me at the age of 23 that I would one day engage in an in-depth conversation about laundry and find it so fascinating I would obsess about it for days, I would have told you to just go ahead and shoot me if that ever happened.

But a few weeks ago, that’s exactly what went down.

Prepare you rifles, readers.


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Leader of the pack


About two years ago, my close friend Jessica asked me if I wanted to be part of a wine club. From the moment the invitation was extended with a trace of secrecy — “I don’t think anyone else needs to know about this, do you?” — I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

I have not been disappointed.

Thanks to Jessica, wine club in Pulaski County is not something that is taken lightly. Each meeting, we are supposed to read the appropriate chapter from our book, “The Wine Club,” by Maureen Christian Petrosky. With each wine (usually five, all of the same grape varietal) we fill out a tasting grid, focusing on color/intensity, aroma, flavor, body and finish. We rinse our glasses out with water in advance of each new pour and, when we don’t like a wine, we dump it, a concept with which, let me just tell you, I was pretty unfamiliar.

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Dads and daughters at the Crow


Mr. Barton, washing dishes

Once upon a time, two dads, two daughters and a baby brother heard about a mystical body of water called Crow Lake. They were camping in Nester Falls, Ontario, and the dads had brought the girls to a gift store so they could stock up on maple sugar candy, polished stones, and loon-shaped soapstone sculptures.

It was at that gift store that a clerk told one of the dads about the nearby lake and that dad, being the owner of a beautiful speed boat that sparkled in the sun, was keen to make a visit.

The lake, the man said, was fed by ancient springs with water so clear you could see 50 feet to the bottom. And if you happened to get thirsty while visiting this place, you could take a camping mug, scoop it into the water and drink down a refreshing sample. It was that pristine.

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A life of submission

litjournals-1So far this year, I have submitted 16 short stories to 78 literary magazines. I have received 37 rejections. I’ve had one acceptance. My goal is to submit to 100 in 2017, so this afternoon I will submit to two more magazines, whose submission windows just opened.

I’m here to tell you it’s hard, dear readers, it’s a hard thing putting yourself out there like this. Each rejection is a sharp jab in your gut confirming the intense self-doubt that, I’ve learned with time, is part and parcel of being a writer.

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Home sweet home

static1.squarespaceSo there we were at the end of our family vacation. Tired. Sick of each other. But on our way home. In fact, in just two short hours we would be able to open our back door and spend time in space not occupied by another person’s clutter, music or breath.

As a result, we were all in a pretty good mood. We’d even picked up take-out pizza in Louisville (Dear Garage Bar, I love you. Sincerely, Tara) so we wouldn’t have to cook that night.

I was driving. The day was sunny and warm and it was only Saturday so we still had one more day to enjoy the weekend. Promises of back deck barbecues, lounging at the local pool, and playing fetch with my puppy in soft, green grass floated before me.

And then I hit a rut in the road as I was merging onto the highway.

And then the air started whooshing out of our front passenger tire.

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Getting family vacationed


So there we sat. Sweaty. Hunched over. Tired. Sick of each other. It was midnight and it was the last night of a very long family vacation that had started 10 days before.

That night was supposed to be the grand finale of the trip: tickets to U2 in Louisville. It is one of William’s favorite bands and I was shocked to see that they were playing so close to us and on a day that William was already on vacation.

So I had given him the tickets for his birthday back in April and we’d anticipated the night ever since.

The night, however, had taken off in the same way that a very badly constructed paper airplane does. First off, 17-year-old Gabrielle was hot, had a headache and kind of hated her bickering parents, so the evening had started with her offering to stay in the hotel rather than attend the (expensive) concert.

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Story of The Sting

IMG_5090So the other day, I was weeding in the garden when I felt the most outrageous “Ow! What is that?” and then, “Ow! This is getting markedly worse” and then “OK, relax, deep breath, you can call an ambulance if you need to” sting on my leg.

It was at the point in weeding where I was no longer leaning over to pluck because my hamstrings were tired and I was no longer resting on my haunches because my haunches (whatever they are) were tired, so I was sitting on a blue gardening pad and digging out whatever happened to be in my vicinity. I was wearing shorts because it was a hot, sunny day and, generally, me and Fitz-Bitz, who likes to “help,” were having a pretty good time.

Now, I’m not accusing anybody, but at the very same time as The Sting, I noticed an ant crawling down my leg. I’m not saying he was scurrying, because that would imply guilt, but I am saying there was an ant hurrying — yes, I’ll at least saying hurrying — down my leg.

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Foodie dog in the house

IMG_5220This morning, I was sleeping peacefully until my husband, upon heading to the shower, announced, “Fitz just threw up.” I opened my eyes and, right beside my pillow, I saw an unguent black mass that looked exactly and completely like an organ.

Lest I be accused of being melodramatic, I will say it wasn’t heart- or lung-esque. The deposit was more of the more minor, expendable organ brand, like an appendix or a gallbladder.

I screamed, of course, coupled my outburst with a few calls to God, and our puppy, the culprit, looked at me as if I also had just expelled an organ, one of the thinking variety.

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The parking lesson and the Tidy Cats


1:33 p.m.

After more than a year of trying to get 60 hours of practice in, Gabrielle Baker is nearly ready to take her driver’s test. It’s been, dear readers, one heck of a long road. First, she needed to learn how to drive standard. Then she had to overcome considerable anxiety. Finally, she had to convince a pretty strict dad that she is ready to drive on her own (the two incidents in which she forgot to turn off the car upon arrival at her destination set her back).

The only step that remains? Learning how to parallel park.

Cue doom-conveying music here.

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Love for the sacred sandwich

the-ba-muffulettaSandwiches are beautiful. Sandwiches are fine. I love sandwiches. I eat them all the time.

Yes, singer/songwriter Fred Penner, yes, you said it. Sandwiches are beautiful. Sandwiches are fine. And god knows, I eat them every chance I get.

I was thinking about this as I was preparing a muffuletta for my husband and I this morning. We’re on a staycation this week, one that is liable to go from relaxing to boring, so I thought I would make this little New Orleans gem to inject a little celebration in the day.

I started by slicing a whole loaf of bread in half lengthwise (usually a boule works best) and pulling out its crumb. Then I chopped celery, a lot of black and green olives, diced tomatoes, and minced garlic and parsley. Added that into the bowls the bread loaf has become, drizzled a good amount of olive oil and red wine vinegar into the mix and then topped with 1/3 pound each of Genoa salami, ham and provolone.

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