Opinion

An Inspiring Message from President Dwight D. Eisenhower

On Presidents Day 2020, I offer this remembrance of Dwight D. Eisenhower.   In 1948 while serving as president of Columbia University, Eisenhower wrote an inspiring open letter to America’s students.  As head of the university, he received many letters from young people asking for his advice. “Shall I keep on with school,” they asked,

[ Read More ]

Dreaming in Italian

Throughout the long month of January, an almost audible stirring begins in the hearts of all held captive by winter’s icy grip. By February, the hours of daylight are becoming noticeably longer. But still, cold winds persist, and I bundle up like an Eskimo for my early morning walks. To feed my spirit, I begin

[ Read More ]

January Ice-O-lation

In Missouri, you never know what January will bring. One day temperatures rise into the 50s, rain falls all night, and creeks run high.  A day later, temperatures dive, and the soggy ground freezes solid. The only way to stay upright outdoors is with ski poles, golf shoes, or Yaktrak traction cleats attached to your

[ Read More ]

The Flavors of Calcutta Style Biryani

In my friend Nina’s kitchen near Fayettye, MO, there are traces of distant other worlds, and something is always combusting.  While preparing recipes from her mother’s Indian kitchen a few years ago, the idea for a culinary memoir, Biting Through the Skin:  An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland, took shape.  Rich in food and geographic

[ Read More ]

“Little Women” and Equal Rights Matter

American author Louisa May Alcott understood the life-shaping power of growing up with sisters.  Like her, I grew up as one of four sisters. Kit had three older sisters who collectively provided lively, literate, exuberant memories during his early life that live on to this day. His mother, a poet and outspoken social activist, wrote

[ Read More ]

A Holiday Gift of Heritage Beans

Beans don’t always get great press, but being my father’s daughter, our kitchen is never without them. Pinto, kidney, cannellini, garbanzo, navy, black, refried and baked beans are stacked two cans high and three deep in the pantry, along with bags of dried beans as well.  This Christmas, even more beans were added to our

[ Read More ]

Winter Light, Winter White

This predawn winter morning, icy patches of snow still cover the edges of the meadow near the woods.  A waning crescent moon and bright stars are my only light as I walk.  As my eyes adjust to the darkness, familiar constellations emerge and assure me that I will never be lost under their watch.  For

[ Read More ]

The Stories a Christmas Tree Tells

On December 12 at 12:12 a.m., the final full moon of the decade lit up the early morning sky, and stars twinkled like Shiny Brite ornaments from Christmases past.  That night, I thought about my mother Alice who celebrated 100 Christmases during her lifetime.   My first Christmas memories are of the dazzling trees she

[ Read More ]

An Unanticipated Off-the-Grid Detour

As December got underway, bizarre occurrences began taking place in and around Boomerang Creek. It was as if a boggart—a malevolent spirit from English folklore and Harry Potter tales—had taken over our household and fields.  According to English lore, such household fairies were thought to cause mischief, things to disappear, milk to go sour, and

[ Read More ]

Snail Mail Time Travel

On January 31, 1995, I mailed a postcard to my father from Sydney, Australia.  Kit and I were near the end of a month-long lecture cruise that had taken us across the Pacific by ship to Hawaii, Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand, up the east coast of Australia to Darwin where we left the ship that

[ Read More ]