A Case of the Human Condition

I’m Barbara Falconer Newhall and I’ve got an incurable Case of the Human Condition. And since you do too, I’m counting on you to laugh and cry along with me as I riff on life as we know it . . . Below you'll read about my creaky, old fifties house, my forays into home gardening, my shopping stories, my spectacularly low-fashion wardrobe -- and more.

Help! My Dracena Marginata Has Hit the Ceiling — What Can I Do?

A dracena marginat houseplant has grown so tall that it is crushing itself against the homeowner's ceiling. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Our dracena marginata is crushing itself against the living room ceiling. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

It’s true. My graceful dracena marginata is doing itself in. It’s hurling itself mercilessly against our living room ceiling. What’s a plant lover to do? Seriously, green thumbs, I [Read more…]


A Crazy-Making Crazy Quilt — Finished at Last

A crazy quilt top cut into pieces to make into smaller quilts. Primary colored vintage calico. Photo by Barbara Newhall

The crazy quilt top I’d made of calico as a wedding gift back in 1971 was riddled with ripples. In hopes of making it lie flat I cut away a section. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

There I was, at Sue Mary Fox’s sewing studio in Berkeley. Pinned to her wall was the crazy-making crazy quilt that I had begun–but never finished–back in 1971. It was to be a wedding gift for my brother and his bride.

Forty-some years later, I decided it was time to finish the darned [Read more…]


The Quilt From Hell — Forty-Two Years Later, It’s Still Not Finished

A portion of a crazy quilt made in 1971 by Barbara Falconer Newhall of calico fabrics in primary colors. Photo by Barbara Newhall

A section of the crazy quilt from hell. The calico I used is now considered vintage. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

It had been staring at me from that drawer for decades, guilting me. The quilt from hell. My wedding present to my brother and his wife. Never finished, never presented.

Their marriage had done just fine over the years–all 43 of them. It hadn’t needed [Read more…]


Riffs on Life: Your Top Ten Favorites of 2014 — Sort Of

Two deep pink tulips bloom at Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, CA. Photo by BF Newhall

“Tulips and Sex — Writing As If Everyone I Know Were Dead” was inspired by the tulips in bloom last spring at Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, California. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Here they are, your favorite Riffs on Life, 2014.

Actually, these might not be your favorites at all. That’s because they are the 2014 posts that got the most page reads this year, which means that they are the favorites of Internet search [Read more…]


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…]