The Perfect Folding Technique

Sister Agnes Marie greeted our class as we filed into the brand new Foods and Culture Lab. Perfect grey curls framed her face under her traditional habit. Her face was puffy with old age and her pasty lips looked like she ate a lot of Tums. A transfer student entering my sophomore year, I had never been around nuns before. Although Continue reading The Perfect Folding Technique

“Paper or Plastic?” Captured an Audience’s Attention

My attention was jolted out of my pre-speech-giving trance when the speaker ahead of me started to tell a story about taking her 86-year-old father to the grocery store. She had let him wander the aisles with his own cart because he was persnickety about his independence. After finishing her shopping, she got into the check-out line behind him and Continue reading “Paper or Plastic?” Captured an Audience’s Attention

When Yellow Blooms

“Yellow! You need yellow.” Relaxing with my friend, Astrid, in my new garden patio along with an intimate group of high-school girlfriends and their spouses, I had asked her “what other flowers should I plant?” As a novice gardener, I thought she could guide my horticultural efforts. Expecting a concrete answer about plant varieties or continuous blooming techniques, I was Continue reading When Yellow Blooms

Grief Walk from New York to Wisconsin

George Asa Sprague felt numb as he turned his back on his home where he had lived with his wife, Lydia, and baby son, Oscar, on the shores of Lake Skaneateles near Syracuse, New York. It was the summer of 1854, and his young family had been destroyed a few months earlier when Lydia and Oscar had died of influenza only Continue reading Grief Walk from New York to Wisconsin

Big Meadow in Norway

As I set off for school with my older sister, Cindy, I heard the neighborhood kids shouting, “There’s Cindy Big Meadow!” and chanting, “Jean Big Meadow!” I shrunk away, confused and embarrassed, while Cindy went off to figure out what was up. She came back to explain that our neighbors’ Norwegian grandma was visiting, who had told them that “stör” Continue reading Big Meadow in Norway

Special Teachers Are (Story) Gems

I vividly remember the day in third grade when a teacher touched my life. Done with my classwork and tired of staring out at the dreary landscape of late fall in Wisconsin, I wandered over to the bookshelves to browse the books. When Mrs. Athnos came over, I thought I was in trouble … for leaving my desk … for Continue reading Special Teachers Are (Story) Gems

Sunset and Fireworks Mark Key Milestones

When I got home after receiving my lay-off notice from General Mills, I tossed my severance packet on the couch, joined my husband on the porch with a glass of wine, and started brainstorming names for the business I wanted to start.   After working on the naming challenge for about six weeks, I was telling our friend Doug Benson Continue reading Sunset and Fireworks Mark Key Milestones

Passport to Rainbows and Waterfalls

As he eyed three passports and a Minnesota Driver’s License, a Canadian Customs Officer asked me (the driver) why a Brit, an Australian, and two U.S. citizens (from Georgia and Minnesota) were traveling together across the border at Niagara Falls? I replied that we were attending a conference at the University of Buffalo and wanted to visit the falls. He Continue reading Passport to Rainbows and Waterfalls

Resting Logs Kept Little Legs Moving

Jay and I paused at the crest of a foothill overlooking Boulder to the east and the Rocky Mountains to the west. According to my iPhone Activity App, we had climbed 71 floors. We decided to rest on a fallen log. While we soaked in the vista, Jay recounted a memory about hiking in the woods of Northern Wisconsin with Continue reading Resting Logs Kept Little Legs Moving

Rainbow Rewards Risk Taking

Sixty percent probability of rain! The weather forecast threatened to ruin our evening plans to go boating with another couple. After looking at the radar and discussing the risks, the four of us crossed our fingers that the sun would prevail and loaded onto our boat. We cruised to our favorite bay and cast our anchor. No sooner had we Continue reading Rainbow Rewards Risk Taking