National Mustard Museum, Middleton WI

If you’re looking for an argument that doesn’t have to do with politics, I suggest Best Condiments. No matter where you are, who you’re with, or what condiments make their way into the running, you’re in for a rollicking debate. You’re welcome. Continue reading “National Mustard Museum, Middleton WI”

No Dice on the Karaoke Plans

Beyond the blinking arcade lights, a blackjack dealer stood over a deserted table counting chips by flashlight. Every movement was precise, from the sorting to the notebook-jotting. Even the flashlight’s oval gleam was meticulous, which was a marvel: the dealer was holding the battery-end in her mouth.

“—gonna to get unbearably hot in here within about an hour or so,” the hostess was telling Andrew. “We’ve got the generators, but they’re just to keep the arcades running.” She gestured across the room, where the gaming machines were chirruping gleefully and lighting the room with a churning mishmash of animated dragons, mermaids, pirates, race cars, sharks, and leprechauns. Colors swam across the dark ceiling, dramatizing the cigarette haze.

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Photo by Benoit Dare on Unsplash

Continue reading “No Dice on the Karaoke Plans”

Memento Mori II – Or, A Bone in the Streambed

When northern Utah’s spring comes and the accumulated mountain snow begins to melt, the canyon creeks swell and roar with clear churning water. Hikers beside them must shout to be heard. Tumbling rocks scuttle and scrape beneath the surging torrent. The frothing rumble of the deluge echoes against the red cliffs. Winter is swept away with a welcome violence, clawing at its last stone-shadowed hollows.

But on this February day in 2012, winter still ruled Rock Canyon. Continue reading “Memento Mori II – Or, A Bone in the Streambed”

Welcome to Colorful Colorado!

Prairie-land and I don’t go well together. I ascribe this to my pioneer ancestry. My DNA remembers too many meals cooked over buffalo-chip campfires, and so no matter how expansive the arched cerulean sky, I can’t help feeling trapped in the endlessness rather than freed by it. Too many heirlooms left on the side of the trail. Too many shallow graves.

I am ready for mountains. Continue reading “Welcome to Colorful Colorado!”

First, Fireflies

I survived twenty-nine years without having ever seen fireflies.

That’s not to sound ungrateful. Some things I have seen: the ruins of Ayutthaya, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the raw majesty of southeast Asian monsoons. Other things I have not seen: the northern or southern lights, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Statue of Liberty.

Before reaching age eighteen, I’d encountered king cobras and tokay geckos and weaver ants in their native habitats, which I realized not everyone had done. So I never felt particularly put out about the fireflies until it came to my attention that some people reach adulthood without ever having seen cockroaches. Continue reading “First, Fireflies”

Mud

Here’s one from my personal archives. I wrote the original at the end of 2010, and have edited it for clarity and length.

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In the beginning, there was mud. There was light, too, and water, and dirt, and the roiling mass of magma bubbling below the earth’s crust. Before living creatures crawled the planet, there was mud. Ooey-gooey thick pasty stuff heavy with clay, thin sandy sludge, sticky goop rich with nutrients—mud was the primeval womb of the physical world. Continue reading “Mud”

No Accounting for Symbolism – or, Library Pressed Flowers

Generally speaking, one prefers that unexpected things not fall out of library books onto one’s face.

Yet there I was a few weeks back, curled up in bed, engrossed in Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, when I turned a page and—well, the next thing I knew, my limbic system had kicked on and I was scrambling aside, swatting at my face and staring at the dark fluttering thing now landing on my sheets. Continue reading “No Accounting for Symbolism – or, Library Pressed Flowers”