Writing the Personal Essay — Forget the Good, Go for the Bad and the Ugly

A star magnolia blossom and a bud, Oakland, CA. Photo by BF Newhall

A sure sign that story has potential is that it looks like the buds on our star magnolia tree — rough, prickly and off-putting — until given a chance to blossom. Photo by BF Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

When I sit down to write a personal essay or a blog post, I start with a story. I look around in my life for a moment that I can’t let go of. A story that won’t let go of me. Usually it’s something painful or surprising, a prickly story that makes me uncomfortable, sad, worried [Read more...]

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A Case of the Human Condition: I Did It — I Offed Those Frightful Snapdragons

uprooted maroon snapdragon plants dead on the garden steps. Photo by bf newhall

The gaudy snapdragons -- they're done for. Photos by BF Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

I did it. I pulled those bloody maroon snapdragons up by the roots. My front yard color scheme has been restored, and all is right with the world.

Before . . . .

Was it OK to kill a perfectly healthy plant? I fretted over the question. But then it occurred to me — I pull up weeds all the time. I kill mosquitoes. I eat lamb chops, for heaven’s sake.

And so, the offending snaps are gone, my rock garden pleases the eye –  my eye — with its delicate pinks, lavenders, roses, creamy whites and modest yellows, all colors that get along with each other and wouldn’t think of screaming for attention across the front yard.

Now that the gloomy snapdragons are gone, there’s a nice hole  in the landscape all set to go, rich with loamy soil and fat earthworms. What shall I plant?

My son Peter emailed from far-off Minnesota yesterday that he loves snapdragons. Too late. I’d

home rock garden with pastel flowers. photo by bf newhall

. . . after.

already yanked those puppies out — fortunately — or I might have taken pity on the homely things, in which case I’d be looking at them for the rest of the summer.

Maybe I’ll put in some nice pink and yellow snaps in Peter’s honor.

Read about the blossoms’ fate.

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A Case of the Human Condition: I Want to Kill My Snapdragons

Maroon snapdragons growing in a garden. Photo by BF Newhall

The offending snapdragons. Photos by BF Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

I don’t like the snapdragons growing in my front yard. Their color, somewhere between scarlet and maroon, gets on my nerves. I don’t like scarlet. I like maroon even less. [Read more...]

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