Book Review: Appalachian Alchemy by Barlow Adams

This first appeared in Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel in October 2018. Are you made of lead or water? Will you sink, or will you flow? Life is rough on the banks of the Kentucky River in Barlow Adams’s debut novella, Appalachian Alchemy, which finds the youngest Merrick boy trying to answer those questions in […]

Book Review: You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

This review first appeared in The Same on March 28, 2018. My freshman year of high school I crushed on a boy named T. After months of in-class flirting and meaningful looks, T. asked me to go to the movies with him one afternoon after school. My first date! I was thrilled. I don’t remember […]

Book Review: Darkroom by Mary Maddox

Characters in Mary Maddox’s 2016 thriller, Darkroom, don’t crack many smiles. They live in a bleak world as full of shadows as the old-school darkroom where photographer Day Randall had developed her artistic images. When Day goes missing at the start of the novel, her absence sets her roommate Kelly Durrell on a dangerous journey […]

My father, five years gone

I spent the two last years of my dad’s life traveling the globe for a job, a lucky perk with terrible timing. My world expanded as Parkinson’s disease shrunk Dad’s world to a hospital bed and the cracks in the ceiling. I’ve learned this lesson again and again: Life’s good sometimes comes mixed with the […]

Possibility in a pot

Depending on the light and my mood, the potted cacti and succulents on my front porch resemble either the strange skyline of a science fiction city or the motley cast of characters in Star Wars’ Chalmun’s Cantina. A tangle of golden snake cactus, the opuntia’s sugar-dusted flat pancakes, and the meaty grey-green succulent leaves of kalanchoe […]

Robber’s Cave social experiments hold lessons for us today

Summer camp is not just a rite of passage, but also a fine social experiment in making friends, overcoming homesickness and trying new things. A week at summer camp in Robber’s Cave State Park in Oklahoma’s Sans Bois Mountains when I was 12 brought me a fascination with Belle Starr the Bandit Queen, a fear of archery and a […]

The Oklahoma Girl Scout murders

The summer of my eighth birthday was overshadowed by a grisly crime made all the more harrowing because of its child victims. On a humid and rainy Sunday in June 1977, the idyllic memories of summer camp I had shared with my friends shattered into shards of horror when three Girl Scouts, two from Tulsa […]

Trade-offs of dental school care

In 1999, I landed a job that offered excellent medical benefits with one hitch: no dental coverage until after the first year. Perhaps I could go without dental benefits for one year? It seemed a calculated risk worth taking, my then-husband and I thought. We were enrolled in his medical plan, paying almost $100 a month […]

Protect yourself with better passwords

I have more digital passwords than keys, and without a handy key ring and visual clues like a Hello Kitty key cap, I’m having a hard time keeping them straight. Add to that the cautions of most info security professionals to avoid using the same passwords across multiple sites and systems, and creating passwords with […]

In Memoriam: Margaret Arakawa

Steve’s mother, Margaret Arakawa, died on December 26, 2016 of natural causes at home and surrounded by family in Arleta, Calif. She was 92. Feisty and faithful, Margaret worked hard to gain her mobility and voice back after a serious stroke in January 2015. We watched her recover slowly over many months, her determination in physical therapy […]