Caution: student driver

"When I let out a blood curdling yell and scream 'Jesus Christ you're going to kill someone' I'd like you to apply the brakes..."







Stepmother and stepdaughter sit in driveway, teenager at wheel. Sun is out. Car is shiny. Nerves are tense but intact.

“OK, ready?”


“You sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure.”

“OK, if you’re sure.”

“I’m sure!”

“OK, let’s go.”

Car stalls.

“What you do you think you did wrong?”

Teenager looks accusingly at car. Stepmother points delicately at lifted handbrake.

“Right,” says teenager.

“Let’s try again.”

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Food on my mind


I am so very, very, very hungry. I’m running a half marathon this coming Saturday so have been training to get ready for it. Long runs, though, mean my appetite skyrockets and all I can think about is how much I love food. So, the driving lesson column I had intended for this week will have to wait. Instead, in keeping with my ravenous mindset, I thought I would rank my Favorite Foods Ever and see if you agree.

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Testimony of a test drive


This is not Scott. But you get the idea.

Every once in a while, you meet someone so unusual you don’t quite believe they’re real. I mean, you know you’re standing there talking to them and if you pinch yourself you feel it, so you know you’re awake, but there is still something about them that causes disbelief to descend on you like a shawl. Yesterday, I met someone like that.

We are in the market for a new car, as my stepdaughter Gabrielle will inherit my old one. So yesterday, while running errands in Lexington, my husband and I decided to stop off at a dealership and go for a test drive.

That’s where we met Scott, a man with a feathery haircut (business in the front, party in the back). Scott was prowling the aisles of shiny cars when we arrived and greeted us casually yet immediately, introducing himself as a salesman and squeezing my hand with a decidedly firm shake.

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Analyzing the election

2016-Election.gifOn Nov. 8, I will get to vote in my first American presidential election and, boy, am I excited. The day is going to start with a big plate of Rotary pancakes and then I’ll head over to my polling site. In preparation, I’ve been trying to be as invested as I can be in local and national politics to keep myself informed. And that, my friends, has been an interesting process.

For the presidential election, we turned to the three debates to learn more about the candidates. My husband and I watched the first two with Gabrielle, and the third with just the two of us.

I have to say, no Bravo TV show could have drummed up more drama. As I do with a juicy episode of “Real Housewives,” I spent the majority of the first debate with my hands splayed over my face. I winced so much I might have gained wrinkles. But we laughed as well. We yelled at the TV in disagreement on a few occasions. And we felt vindicated sometimes too, pounding our fists into the couch shouting, “Finally, someone said it.” If nothing else, Donald and Hillary provided a bounty of entertainment, so much so that Gabrielle, age 16, asked to stay up late so she could watch them finish arguing.

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Meeting a soldier boy

Last week, my husband and I were lucky enough to get upgraded to first-class seats on a flight from Atlanta to Lexington. I’ve not been upgraded very many times in my life, and getting to sit in the seats up front, rather than in the cattle coach in the back, is quite a thrill. As such, I was eagerly beaming at everything from the TV in our seat to the provided blanket and pillow to the flight attendant who offered us a drink. It was then that I noticed two empty seats in the row beside us, though the majority of the people on the flight had already filed on.

After a few minutes, the flight attendant returned and offered a young soldier, who had been seated in the back, one of the empty seats.

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The highs and lows of a teenage girl

rollercoaster1For the past several years, we have been the proud owner of a teenage girl. My lovely stepdaughter Gabrielle is now 16 and a half, and busy applying to the Governor’s Scholar Program, taking her ACT and learning how to drive. Except for the driving lessons (which are a whole other column), everything is going rather smoothly.

And by smoothly I mean smoothly in the world of the teenage girl. For it has been in the last several years that I’ve been reminded just how rocky and unpredictable that world can be.

Take, for example, last Tuesday. Gabrielle was set to meet with one of the people who has agreed to recommend her for Governor’s Scholar, a family friend who is high up in hospital administration. I suggested to Gabrielle that she go over the questions our friend will have to answer for the application so she can help her respond to them.

Gabrielle went upstairs in a wildly good mood, expecting, I’m sure, to bang out the answers in a matter of seconds. She returned to the kitchen 10 minutes later with stormy eyes that threatened rain.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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