March 22

On the job

I often walk Kip (and our prior foster dogs) through a large park in our village where a handful of homeless people gather outside the public library when it’s warm. We’re training him so I always carry treats and a clicker on walks. Yesterday I saw a couple of people (whom I guessed to be […]

March 02

Kip joins the family

At the end of December our foster kittens were ready for adoption and we went to pick up foster #69, a 6-year-old Pomeranian named Wave who had been surrendered at Chicago Animal Care and Control for reasons we’ll never know. Wave had a virus of some sort and was awaiting his second negative swab after […]

February 12

The Cookie Box

A group of friends has been very busy this weekend preparing for the arrival of a refugee family. There have been countless Facebook posts within our group. There’s been a group who have spent all weekend cleaning an apartment that the landlord did not prepare sufficiently. Bill and I made quilts for the children in […]

February 05

I was wrong

Dear America, I was wrong and I will never make this mistake again. I grew up in the Civil Rights Era. I saw America change for the better. I watched my Virginia grade school classroom become desegregated. I saw women enter the work force. I saw Title IX. Our laws changed. I became the first […]

January 24

Chapter One

Today is a very happy anniversary of sorts for my cousin Marie and I. Marie and I had an emotional first meeting on this day a year ago in a hotel in California while I was teaching at Road to California. Marie is one of many descendants of a long relationship between my great, great […]

January 01

Fearless in 2017

My aspirational word for 2017 is Fearless. I say aspirational because I’m really pretty scared about what this year will bring. I’m nervous for my Muslim friends, my friends who rely on government assistance through no fault of their own, my LGBT friends, my friends with chronic health conditions who may lose their health insurance […]

December 20

Memo: Regarding my birthday

I’m reposting this post from a year ago because I need to remember a few of these right now and because I’ve had requests to repost it around this time annually. To: Those who celebrate my birth on December 25 From: Jesus Some of you seem kind of stressed out over the wrong things when […]

December 17

Refugees 101

Like many people I have felt helpless watching the mass migrations of refugees from Syria into Turkey and throughout US and Europe. While it’s gotten less attention in the media, similar streams of refugees from Congo,  Myanmar (Burma) and other countries have been quietly making their way to the US as well. When I found […]

December 05


Those who knew me as a child and teen often called me a “troublemaker.” I spoke up about things I thought were unfair at school and even challenged older family members who made bigoted comments. When you’re a child it’s a bad thing to speak up, at least that’s what I was told. I’ll be […]

October 12

I like that.

In the interest of my own mental health in the weeks leading up to the election, I’m starting a daily series of photos on my personal Instagram account (weeksringle) about things that make me happy. I won’t be reposting the images on Facebook so head on over to that account if you’re interested. The first […]

October 05

Exercise, comedy and kittens

Repeat after me: Exercise, comedy and kittens. These are the three things that will prevent you from losing your freaking mind in the next five weeks until Election Day. Let’s break it down: Exercise is a must. Not only because all of us  will inevitably be nervously eating leftover Halloween candy on Election Night but […]

September 23

staying on it

About 15 years ago I was having a series of respiratory infections that were leaving me sick 50% of every month. I went to 5 different teaching hospitals in Chicago and all told me it was within the realm of asthma. I pushed on knowing that it was something else. Finally a doctor agreed in […]

August 26

Bring on the Dreamers

I turned 55 today. One of the gifts of middle age is being able, if you’re lucky, to sort through the signals that society sends you about what’s important. Society tells me that I’m supposed to care a lot about material goods, fame, my appearance and how much is in my bank account. The older […]

August 23

Tale of Two Friends

About 12 years ago we were renovating our studio and our architect introduced us to a new contractor names Casey, the owner of Loop Construction. Casey had just moved from Wisconsin for his wife’s job and to be near family. He had no customers in the Chicago area. We soon realized that we worked better […]

August 19

Wagon Wheel vs Freebird

As one who has spent a fair amount of time listening to kids sing at summer camps and in large groups over the past few years I’ve been surprised how frequently I hear the Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor song Rock Me Mama. Among teens it’s known as Wagon Wheel, made popular by Darius Rucker […]

August 11

First Seven Jobs

#firstsevenjobs  and what I learned from each cashier at Hardee’s – customer service (I’m talking to you guy in summer of 1976 who came to my register every day in the middle of the lunch rush and requested the special-order fish sandwich with no tartar sauce and skim milk) and working quickly but accurately with […]

August 07

Pet Blessings

My friend and minister Britt asked me last week to bless pets at our church service today. She knew I was “an animal person” but I warned her that I would cry because I’m always moved by the relationship between people and their pets. She assured me that “tears are holy things” and not to […]

July 31

4 square inches of mercy

Several people have asked me to describe the work we did with Appalachian Service Project last week so here’s a summary of my experience. The Woman Card We committed to this project last fall and have gone to meetings regularly to train and prepare for the week. Men and women lead the teams and many […]

July 13

Emotional Safety

A week or so we dropped our almost-15-year-old daughter off at camp to begin a two-week hiking, camping and kayaking odyssey with 19 other kids in Alaska. She’s attended this sleepaway camp based in Michigan for several years. Every four years they make the trek to Alaska. She heard about it last year and has […]

June 06

Roman Holiday

Following teaching with France Patchwork in May, our family visited Bill’s sister’s family and farm near Rouen and then flew to Barcelona, Venice, Florence and Rome for our first long family vacation ever. Our first day here in Rome can be best described as a fiasco. I had been here last as a 12-year-old and […]