My Old Stuff — A Little Moldy, a Little Dusty, but Unlike Certain People It’s Still With Me

My grandmorther's pince-nez with gold chain, hairpin and laminated metal case from J.H. Chinnery, optometrist, Scottville, Michigan. Photo by Barbara Newhall

My grandmorther’s pince-nez with gold chain, hairpin and laminated metal case from J.H. Chinnery, optometrist, Scottville, Michigan. Photo by Barbara Newhall

I love my old stuff. I couldn’t get rid of it when I wrote this piece back in 1987, and I can’t get rid of it now. The ski boots and baby bottles are gone, but we still have the crutches.

By Barbara Falconer Newhall, The Oakland Tribune, Sept. 6, 1987

Things. They stay where you put them. They don’t talk back. They don’t upchuck on the Persian rug. Things don’t have to be fed, clothed or diapered. They don’t require thank-you notes or post cards from Tahoe. [Read more...]

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Advent: Witnessing to the Light – With Tinsel and a Plastic Santa

A box marked Advent overflows with Christmas decorations, including an angel, a Santa and shiney tinsel garlands. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Just one of many boxes in the basement labeled “Advent” or “Christmas.” Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

It’s Advent, the traditional time of (quiet) preparation for Christmas.  This Sunday in churches around the country, congregations will be reading the Magnificat — Mary’s song in praise of God and God’s generosity and justice. They’ll also be hearing that odd desert wanderer, John the Baptist, testify to the Light that was to come.

As for me, every year, as my Christmas tree twinkles its lights at my children, my husband, our next-door neighbors and the occasional UPS agent bringing packages – I like [Read more...]

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The Perfect Christmas Tree — I Finally Found It

Rows of perfectly shaped christmas tree on a tree farm. Creative commons photo

A Christmas tree farm. Photo: liljulier/flickr via Creative Commons

By Barbara Falconer Newhall, The Oakland Tribune, Dec. 24, 1989

Christmas trees. Some of my most intense childhood memories have to do with Christmas trees. When I say intense, I’m not talking magic – I don’t mean twinkling lights and “Joy to the World.”

I’m talking galoshes. Galoshes caked with mud and slush. Fingers and [Read more...]

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Seven Reasons to Be Grateful This Thanksgiving: Starting With the Rain, a Leaky Dishwasher, and You

An open 2000 Maytag Jetclean Quiet Plus dishwasher with racks visible that finally wore out after 14 years. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Our 2000 Maytag sprang a leak after fourteen years of service. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Some reasons to be grateful this Thanksgiving:

One. Stuffing! Stuffing alone would make the Thanksgiving Day meal my favorite of the year. But at our house there’s a bonus — pumpkin pie.

Two. A leaky dishwasher. Our 14-year-old Maytag dribbled water onto the [Read more...]

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The San Juan Islands Ecosystems: The Woods Are Alive — And So Are the Meadows and Beaches

On the San Juan Islands, a variety of ecosystems exist side by side. Here a woods, a meadow alongside a bay shore. Photo by Barbara Newhall

On the San Juan Islands, a variety of ecosystems exist side by side. Here a wood, a meadow, and a salt water cove. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Beach, forest, wetland, meadow — in some places the various San Juan Islands ecosystems coexist just steps from one another. An afternoon’s walk can take you past woodsy kinickinick, sun-loving oxeye daisies, and salty pickle grass [Read more...]

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