Squirrel on the Screen

img_3672I am pleased to report that the Kaprowy/Baker household will soon welcome a little baby puppy. By soon, I mean probably not until March or April — even our breeder dog is suffering from infertility so our plan of having our little guy at home by November fell through. But this way, you’ll have plenty of time to brace yourselves for the oncoming onslaught of puppy anecdotes. Consider this my warning.

In the meantime, another animal seems to have adopted our home. Or, more specifically, the screen on the window beside my nightstand. Nearly every afternoon, a squirrel climbs up and hangs out there for half hours at a time.

I first noticed him a few months ago when there was a strange noise coming from that area. It was windy out, and I thought the branch of a tree might be knocking against the house. But low and behold, there he was spread-eagled against the window pane, all his paws so far apart from each other he looked like a pegged tent.

Continue reading

Going after the Big Break

cw1-2x-course_image-378x225About a month ago, I opened my inbox and there was an email entitled “Your Work” inside it. It was a week after I’d had a short story published in a literary magazine, which was a big deal for me since it was the first piece of fiction someone had liked enough to want to print. (I’ve had 33 rejections.)

I thought the email was from someone who had maybe read the story. Or I thought it might be spam. Or I thought it might have something to do with this column.

Instead, it was from a book agent telling me he had read my story and was interested in representing me. He wanted to know if I had written a novel, and, if so, could I send him part of it so he could decide if he liked it enough to try to sell it to publishing houses for me.

You know when something happens to you that seems so unreal it feels like you’re floating? Like life has been put on pause for a minute that feels like 10, and you might be dreaming and you might not be. You might be breathing but you might not be. Hell, you might be dead but are unaware of it.

That’s how I felt in that moment.

Continue reading

Beware of the Pop


Dr. Pimple Popper, Dr. Sandra Lee

It all started innocently enough. My husband and I were in the porch discussing the day and somehow we got onto the subject of YouTube videos. How easy it is to get sucked down their black hole. How you come out on the other side to discover you’ve spent the last hour watching videos of women trying to parallel park.

But then he told me about the ultimate YouTube black hole. Before I tell you about it, let me just finish my lunch. In fact, let’s talk about rainbows or forests or swimming pools or apples for a second in the meantime so I can get this toasted tomato sandwich down. Because the mere thought of even broaching this subject makes me lose my appetite.

OK. I scarfed it.


Dr. Pimple Popper.

Continue reading

A tale of emergence

Bagworm 3 Brazos Cty TX 11302013 1 J_LW.jpgSo there I was out on the deck. It was early evening, so hot it felt aggressive, so humid the air was spongy. I was on my way to the garden to pick a peck of peppers, pretending my name was Peter, trying to think only of words that start with the letter P.

Pailing piserably.

But then I passed the three arborvitaes that we have potted on the deck. They’ve been there for years and I’ve developed quite an affection for them, in no small part because they require zero attention. About once a year I remember to throw some fertilizer on them, fertilizer meant for vegetables and flowers, not a coniferous tree of the cypress family, but bah, who’s in the mood to split hairs.

But this time as I passed, I noticed the second of the three trees seemed to have quite a bit of brown on it. I wasn’t shocked, since the pots they live in aren’t heavy enough and so the trees are prone to blowing over during storms.

Still, this tree seemed particularly unhappy, especially for a happy-go-lucky arborvitae. So I took a step closer. That’s when I noticed the tree had these brown, spindle-shaped bundles hanging off the end of many of its branches. Upon even closer examination, I realized they looked exactly like retro Christmas decorations, albeit very, very depressing ones. And so to get an even closer examination, I leaned in, nearly touching my nose to the spindle.

And then it moved.

Continue reading

To sleep, perchance to dream

getty_rm_photo_of_woman_sleepingI’d like to apologize in advance for this column — yes, even before I’ve written it — as I’m not quite responsible for myself today. More specifically, I’m laser focused on one goal and am therefore distracted from all other things. That goal? To fall asleep.

The insomnia started after we returned home from a family trip to British Columbia (beautiful, by the way). We flew home on the Red Eye, which allowed us to spend extra time in Vancouver, as well as cut off a few legs and several hours from our journey since they have straight flights from Seattle to Cincinnati.

ANYway (see how none of that is important? That’s because I’m tired and can’t determine what is important, never mind interesting, and what isn’t).

Continue reading

To Peter the Great

IMG_3358In a couple of days, I’ll be able to give my stepdad Peter his birthday gifts: a pair of Donald Trump socks and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I know he’s going to like to them and I know when he opens his gifts he’ll have this little smile on his face, this grin, actually. Then he’ll say, in an exaggerated voice, “Thaaaaaank you” and spend the next half hour inspecting every aspect of his new acquisitions.

The fact that he’ll appreciate such oddball gifts (and will, likely, wear the socks) speaks to what a cool guy Peter is.

I met him when I was 21. Though he lived in Calgary, he and my mom had started carefully dating and it was time for him to meet us kids. I actually don’t remember anything about that first encounter — in a way, Peter feels like he’s just always been in my life — but I do know I liked him so much and so immediately I almost felt guilty about it.

Continue reading

Finally diving in


I had one personal goal I wanted to reach this summer, something so small and inconsequential it’s embarrassing to write down. But at the same time, I’m so ridiculously happy I was able to accomplish it, I feel it necessary to, yep, brag.

So here it goes: Last Friday, I learned how to dive.

Continue reading

Recipes for a summer kitchen

hfs_t1largIt’s that time of year when everything is ripe. You can practically hear it, that buzz that warbles when you slice through a tomato or eat fresh strawberry jam or bite into that perfectly perfect peach. As such, I wanted to talk about a few great recipes that I’ve run across over the past few months to help celebrate this ripeness in all its glory. So here we go:

Spaghetti squash and pork stir-fry

Spaghetti squash and I had an exceptionally rocky start when my mom told me, at age 8, we were having spaghetti with tomato sauce and the spaghetti ended up being squash. Boy, was I pissed. While I did eventually forgive my mom, I never forgave the squash for not being pasta.

My friends Sean and Hannah, who gave me this recipe, were able to talk me out of my grudge and I’m so thankful for it. Honestly, this is delicious. The squash takes on the flavors of the soy sauce and rice vinegar (I use extra of both, and I double the amount of minced ginger), making it taste tangy, almost pickled. Note that if you’re in a hurry you can just use regular ground pork instead of the chopped up pork tenderloin as they suggest. The best part is this meal is so healthy you can reward yourself with homemade hot fudge and vanilla ice cream afterward, which is exactly what I did last night.


Continue reading

Wanna go on stay-cation with me? Answer: not really

staycation-chicagoStay-cation. Isn’t that a clever word? The concept of staying home on a week off, but still pretending you are away on holiday. It’s a celebration of sorts, but a very, very responsible one. Won’t it be fun, you tell each other as you clink glasses. What a good idea. We’ll save a little coin, we’ll take time for romance, we’ll re-examine what a beautiful life we lead in the comfort of our own home.

When you’re in the planning stages of a stay-cation, you highlight the advantages. First, you will get to sleep in your own bed. No wrestling with flat pillows. No suspect comforters. Move to the bathroom and there are no tiny, white bars of soap that leave residue on your skin. No small bottles of inadequate conditioner.

Just soft hair and good sleeps, that’s what our week will be.

Continue reading

The bad luck road trip

wind-005-100629465-primary.idgeThis past weekend, I took my stepdaughter to Chicago for camp. We’d had an incredibly lucky drive up (no traffic, killer parking spots, even a tasty lunch) that culminated in arriving at our hotel to find, a), free parking and WIFI, b), an unexpected outlet mall nearby and, c), a Giordano’s pizza restaurant a short walk away. So upon embarking home the next day, it was with a mild sense of doom. I knew, after all, that if there were a luck bank, I had maxed out my account the day before. And the only way to fill it back up was with bad luck installments.

Continue reading