Sallie Satterthwaite's blog

The summer of '99

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The Summer of ’99 will go down in our personal history as one of the best we’ve had together.

We didn’t travel to speak of. Didn’t do much boating. The weather was not especially pleasant.

But this was the Summer of the Boat. This was the summer we refurbished, added to and made a 25-foot Nimble Nomad our own.

Two previous owners had loaded her with toys that would have taken us years to add. Life jackets for more people than the boat would comfortably carry. Electronics Dave had only dreamed of. Pots and pans, plates and tableware – even a tinkly little set of wind chimes. Read More»

There is reason to hope

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The past recent years of schoolhouse bloodshed has loosed a torrent of ink in the debate about what has gone wrong with America. An alarming bout of writer’s block has made me seek a subject published in June of 1999, and still current today.

Theories abound. We pick and choose among them: The Internet. God having been thrown out of schools.

The entertainment industry. The media. Failure of educators. Failure of parents. Failure of society.

Here’s my take, and a word of hope. Read More»

Isaac grows up

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Dear Isaac,

Mama-Jean reminded me that you had a birthday last week. I’m glad she did, since you and your sisters spread cheer for three months after Christmas.

Do you remember how we met? I think you were about 6. It was in a state park near your home, where Jean had arranged for us to meet. I don’t know how they choreographed it, but as we were pulling into the parking lot, your dad and our daughter walked toward us from stage right, holding hands, and Grandma and Grandpa Withnell from stage left. Read More»

A peaceful revolution

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Talk about contrasts. Did anyone else sense the irony? Police officers on camels and horseback vying for crowd control in Cairo’s Tahrir Square? Cell phones and the Internet providing communication and updates to widely scattered groups surging into the melee?

More than one of the newscasters following the revolution in Egypt for the last couple of weeks said it took them so by surprise that they were not ready for what would happen next. Read More»

Birds could use a hand, er, a claw

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If you are a knowledgeable avian aficionado, you can take a break from today’s column and go refill your bird feeders.

Winter, especially one as prolonged and bitterly cold as this one has been, is one of the two times in the year that bird lovers ask me what birds need to survive. The other is early spring, before berries and bugs mature. Summer and fall needs are easier to answer, with the wealth of seeds they contribute to the birds’ menu.

Actually bird feeders provide only about half the food birds eat, with the rest found in the woods and fields. And city neighborhoods. Read More»

Mary's life in Europe

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“Had my first grits, thanks for everything!”

Mary’s post-Christmas letter started with that heraldic proclamation. Our gifts to “our German daughter” in Düsseldorf were mailed from here in the first week of December. On that very day, she mailed gifts to us. Read More»

Separate bedrooms not what you think

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“How can you find anything with that mess on your bed?”

“It’s not a mess. It’s newspapers. I’ve got to at least glance at them to see if I’ve missed anything.”

“Look at them. Look, this one’s from November. And folded laundry. Three books. When are you going to clean up this mess?”

“What’s it to you anyhow? There’s plenty of room in that bed. Shall we take a look at the mess you’ve got on the card table in the loft?”

“That’s a ship model, and I enjoy working up there. It’s the warmest spot in the house.” Read More»

Managing time

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Our new year of 2011 has not started off as well as it might have. For openers, I could not find the 2011 monthly calendar insert for my Day-Runner or Planner or whatever the brand name.

It isn’t like I didn’t try. Ask for a 2011 calendar in September 2010 and you get funny looks, like, “2011? That’s next year.” I know it.

Just watch the salesperson’s face when you ask the same question in October. “Oh, you waited too long. They’ve been backordered since September. Advanced planning, you know.” Read More»

Ticking out the days of our lives

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Dave’s mother, who died not long after our Alice, had discretionary funds from an old family estate but, while she could have, she never flaunted her modest fortune. She traveled a lot, and loved to buy something that caught her eye, live with it for a year or so, then box it up to make a post-Christmas or birthday present for one of her children or grandchildren.

She couldn’t resist old clocks, guns, knick-knacks from Europe, and our house looks a lot like hers. My mother would sniff at “more doodads that have to be dusted.” Read More»

Love in Santa garb

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Seems to me the holiday season was different this year. Or might it be that my perspective has changed?

I’m growing curmudgeonly on a number of concerns these days, and I plan to sweep the deck clear of them every few weeks.

Didn’t you think we saw more than the usual Christmas arguments about whether or not Santa Claus is real? By chance or intention, the debate raged from a whisper to an avalanche.

And guess what? The most authentic Santa sighting of the season, and I wasn’t there.

So. A brief expression of appreciation nonetheless. Read More»