Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Dec. 8, 2006

Columns for desperate times

When I started this column five years ago, I had no idea whether I'd find enough things to write about week after week, month after month, year after year. I needn't have feared. Life is so rich in humor, joy, milestones, melancholy and little pleasures, that I rarely have trouble finding subject matter.

Husband Art has been the focus many times. I've written about his penchant for picking up "treasures" along roadsides, his ability to fix almost anything, his willingness to help me shop for clothes and his unbridled sense of humor.

Our daughters have also been a frequent centerpiece of my columns.

When oldest daughter Mariya was still in high school, I wrote about her class projects, school plays, the junior-senior prom, how frightened I was when she had a car accident and her high school graduation day.

Daughter Katherine's birthday parties, science fair projects, fossil-hunting trip, violin lessons and basketball stories provided fodder for other columns.

And celebrations, such as weddings, anniversaries and milestone birthdays were perfect sources for material.

Holidays provide all sorts of ideas. Customs, costumes, food, traditions and decorating schemes for Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, Independence Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving all have been topics.

But it hasn't all been "happy" talk. I've also written about sad times - such as Dad's hospice care and subsequent death and the deaths of other relatives and friends.

Then there were the remodeling projects - painting the landing, cleaning the gutters, trying to remove a soap "plug" from the septic tank pipe, moving a 1930s cast-iron tub down a set of narrow stairs from an upstairs apartment. Some of those provided funny incidents that have now become part of our family lore, although they didn't always seem so funny at the time.

Trips to Sweden, Wales, England, Germany, Iowa, western Kansas and Illinois have been the basis for yet other pieces.

Siblings, nieces and nephews, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, other extended family members, college roommates, gal pals and even exchange students Cecy from Bolivia and Nadja from Germany have been spotlighted at one time or another. I used to be concerned that people would stop talking to me for fear that I might put what they say in a column. Mom has teased me that people in her church know everything about her life from what I've written. But so far, folks seem to be either pleased, amused or touched.

In fact, Art's mother Donna and others who don't get the paper ask for copies.

Now that I think about it, a comment Donna made could provide a perfect example for a column about utterances that were meant one way, but could be interpreted the opposite.

After I handed copies to her, she took one look, put them in a drawer and remarked, "Oh, good! I'll read these when I'm desperate."

Now, if I were only certain which way she meant that!

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