March On

The first time I ever saw a marching band I ran away and cried. The band wasn’t even really marching–it was cooped up inside a small music hall. Maybe that was the problem. The timpani and the tubas, trapped in a single room, were far too loud for a little kid’s ears. When I finally saw […]


When I was six I had my very own windmill. At least that’s what my dad told me. We were driving to camp through Altamont Pass, which held one of the first wind farms in the country. He squinted up at the golden hills and pointed. “There,” he said. “That’s the one.” Later, he explained […]

Gathering String

I often buy presents for my kids that are really for me. This time, it was a special string for doing Cat’s Cradle. (Of course, it’s funny that I even bought a string, instead of tying a piece of yarn into a loop like I once did.) When they unwrapped it, they saw a rainbow […]

New Arrivals Daily

The park where I first saw the dog is a patch of green that’s separated from the mountains by several highways and several hills. There’s a coast guard station on one side, houses on the other, a mid-speed thoroughfare bordering its front. Early one morning, when it was foggy and my eyes were foggy, too, […]

Fired Up

I quit glassblowing because it pissed me off too much. It’s been ten years since I’ve done it, so I don’t remember much about how to make a goblet or a vase or a Christmas ornament. What I do remember is the bright eye of the furnace, the relentless heat, and the crazy dreams that I […]

Redux: June Gloom

It’s Monday. And it’s June. And it’s gloomy. Or maybe it’s just that I’m gloomy about our recent oil spill and I can’t quite figure out how to write about it. So here’s a post that ran in June 2012 about June Glooms past.  I used to think the weather was something adults talked about because they were […]

A Visit from the Sphinx

One night this spring I left all the doors open to the van. It was stinkier than usual, and I figured anyone who thought they might peer inside would have found little of value before being frightened off by the smell. But the next morning when I turned the ignition on, the kids gasped. Our […]

Rust, Beer and Burritos: Interview with Jonathan Waldman

I met Jonathan Waldman when we were both magazine interns. We had a lot in common–we both got really into working on the magazine’s science column, and we were both really big fans of burritos. (He later sold me a shirt that featured a burrito-powered bike). When I ran into him at a conference a few […]