Something’s gained in living every day

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still, somehow,
It’s love’s illusions I recall;
I really don’t know love at all.

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say, ‘I love you’ right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange;
They shake their heads and say I’ve changed.
Well, something’s lost when something’s gained
In living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose, and still, somehow,
It’s life’s illusions I recall;
I really don’t know life at all

— Joni Mitchell

Once again, I find Joni Mitchell’s masterpiece resonating for me in a new way.

This week on Facebook, a friend posted a link to some website’s ranking of 200 careers. This website — employing methods of data analysis almost as credible as those used to measure progress under No Child Left Behind — attempted to quantify the “best” and “worst” jobs of 2013 and declared newspaper reporter the worst.*

Most of the people weighing in on the conversation were disgruntled journalists who agreed they had the Worst Job in the World. I read their comments and wondered why, in an era of shrinking budgets and shrinking newsroom staffs, anyone would remain in a job where he or she felt overworked and underappreciated.

Actually, I didn’t wonder. I knew, because years ago, I was the same way. Instead of savoring the moments that make journalism the best job in the world, I let myself get caught up in negativity and focused on day-to-day annoyances and frustrations, forgetting that hassles are part of the human condition.

I really didn’t know love at all.

I don’t take my life as a journalist for granted these days. I’ve been through my share of “tears and fears,” and after five years away, I look at my profession and feel unbelievably “proud to say, ‘I love you’ right out loud.”

Old friends reading this probably will “shake their heads and say I’ve changed.” I don’t care. I’m not interested in something that’s lost. I’m too busy savoring something that’s gained.


* I had to laugh when I saw “stress” cited as one justification for the low ranking. I’ve taught in two urban high schools, and if the toughest part of your job is a deadline, you really don’t know stress at all.

Joie de vivre

Here is a thing I love about Cape Girardeau: The kids here seem to be animated by a sort of crazy wild joie de vivre that exceeds anything I’ve ever seen anywhere else.


When I went house-shopping a couple of weeks ago, I found myself at a stoplight behind a school bus. Three or four little kids turned around to grin and wave out the back windows at me, and when I passed the bus a couple of minutes later, more kids were grinning and waving and opening the bus windows to shout, “We love your car!”

Last weekend, a pack of about four or five rugrats on wheels came barreling down the hill in front of my house. Two or three were on bicycles, and two were on skateboards. One little guy who looked to be all of 8 years old was flying hell-for-leather down the hill on his board, shouting, “Sh*t! Sh*t! SH*T!” in a tone that was somewhere between gleeful and terrified as he picked up speed on his way down. (He interspersed this with a couple of heartfelt “F*** yous” when the other kids laughed at him.) Toward the bottom of the hill, he managed to stop the board. One of his companions, a little girl on a bicycle, looked at me, beaming from ear to ear, and announced, “That’s a longboard!” as she pedaled past.

Yesterday morning, as I was heading to the office, two little kids came hopping down a side street on pogo sticks. Really. Pogo sticks. When was the last time you saw a kid on a pogo stick?

The sign says something else, but I think the real name of this street is Klickitat, because my young neighbors are like something out of a Beverly Cleary novel. If I don’t end up with a children’s book out of this, it certainly won’t be for lack of inspiration….


Settling in

OK … I’m still ‘Shopping images, and I’m too lazy to get up and move to my office to use the mouse and the big monitor to pull all the pictures I want to post here, so you’ll have to wait for photos … but here’s a quick update:

* We moved most of our stuff to Cape Girardeau, Mo., on Saturday. The dogs and cat behaved remarkably well and have been real troupers through this whole experience. Riggy is navigating the new house despite constant changes as I unpack and rearrange things to try to figure out the best use of our limited space. Meanwhile, Song is enjoying his new role as night watchman, sleeping on the floor next to my bed, and Walter is stalking around here like he owns the place.

* The new house is much smaller than the old one — about 730 feet vs. 950 — but it’s laid out really well, and because we purged a lot of excess junk ahead of the move, everything fits neatly without looking too cluttered. I still have some things to put away, but I’m starting to feel more or less settled, and I love these hardwood floors, although I’m still trying to get used to the way sound travels over them.

* The new job is awesome. I was afraid I’d be all new-girl unproductive and waste a lot of time trying to get my feet under me this week, but thanks to my editors, I hit the ground running yesterday. I remembered that I loved covering crime. I had forgotten just how much I loved it. This job is totally feeding my soul. You can’t even imagine how much I needed this, or how very, very right it feels to be back in a newsroom with a notebook in my hand. I am in my comfort zone.

* Cape is great — historic properties everywhere, and I think every plant in town is blooming right now.

Now, if somebody will just buy our house in Tulsa so Ron can move out here and join me, we’ll be in good shape….


Folk Thursday: I was there.

Folk Thursday didn’t happen here, because I wasn’t home. I was busy having The Greatest Folk Thursday Ever at the gorgeous Stiefel Theatre in Salina, Kansas:


Recognize her? Here’s another clue:


Fine — I’ll just spill it:




My awesome friend Greg — pop culture connoisseur, photographer extraordinaire, and proprietor of, which you should bookmark if you haven’t — has some well-connected friends who arranged a little meet-and-greet with Ms. Collins after the show. Greg is often known as “Ace Jackalope’s Driver,” as he is the owner of Ace Jackalope, a flocked toy jackalope from Wall Drug, who dresses up in appropriate costumes and poses for photos with various celebrities. As you can see, Ms. Collins was willing to play along, which I thought spoke well of her. (I don’t trust people who refuse to be seen with Ace.)

In that top picture, which Greg shot, I was laughing because I had just informed Sweet Judy Blue Eyes that I was a couple of days away from moving to Rush Limbaugh’s hometown — whereupon she turned into Sweet Judy Side-Eye. Like Chantal Biya caliber. It was, as the kids say, epic. We also talked about her recent anti-Monsanto activism on behalf of honeybees, which of course I as a beekeeper appreciate more than she will ever know.

Even if I hadn’t gotten to meet her, it would have been worth the trip, because my seat was awesome (second row, but nobody was in front of me), the theater was gorgeous (more on that in a future post), I had a wonderful time with Greg and his friends, I got to hear part of the sound check from the lobby, and for her encore, she sang “In My Life,” which particularly resonated in light of the timing.

This isn’t from last night, but it’s fairly recent:

We’re moving tomorrow, so I’ll probably be out of pocket for the next few days. I hope to have Internet service set up at the new house by mid-week. I’ll try to post pictures of the new house, the new office, and various other things then.


Ask the Hippie: FAQs about our upcoming move

OK … I’ve gotten all manner of questions about our upcoming move, and instead of answering the same ones over and over and over while I’m trying to pack everything I own (mission about 85 percent accomplished), say my goodbyes, and tie up loose ends at work, I’m just going to answer them here.

Q. Why are you moving?
A. Journalism.

Q. What’s going to happen to your bees?
A. This:

A beekeeper from Owasso came and picked up the hives Saturday morning. We’ll miss our girls, but they’re in very good hands, and of course we’re looking forward to setting up a new hive at our new house next spring.

Q. What’s going to happen to your chickens?
A. Some ol’ boy is coming by this evening to pick them up.

Q. Is Ron going with you?
A. As soon as the house sells, yes. If you’re in the market for a great little house with ridiculously low power bills, I’ve got you covered. Asking $74,900. Three bedrooms, solar panels on the roof, woodburning stove, and all appliances included.

Q. When are you moving?
A. This weekend.

Q. Aren’t you stressed out?
A. No. Ain’t nobody got time for that. If I stressed out over deadline pressure, I’d be a pretty pathetic excuse for a journalist.

Q. You’ve already seen Judy Collins in concert three times. Why would you drive all the way to Kansas and back to see her again less than 24 hours before the movers show up?
A. You’re not a folkie, are you?

Q. How are you going to survive in Rush Limbaugh’s Cardinal-fan-infested hometown?
A. Same way I survived nine years in Oklahoma. Cardinal fans may be insufferable, but at least they can tell a balk from a ground-rule double, which is more than I can say for the average Okie.

New adventure

I may be in a Red Fork State of Mind, but my failure to update this blog on anything resembling a regular basis for the past three weeks stems from the fact that I’m about to be in a Cape Girardeau State of Body.

Let me ‘splain. No, is too much. Let me sum up:

On March 14, I sent a resume and clips to the Southeast Missourian in Cape Girardeau, Mo. The paper had an opening for a cops reporter. Less than 24 hours later, I had an e-mail from the editor, asking when he could call and when I could get to Cape for an interview. I had a nice phone interview with him on March 18, booked it out to Missouri on the 21st, and interviewed March 22.

I got an e-mail on Monday, saying I had the job. I put in my notice Monday afternoon and left for a house-hunting mission on Tuesday night. I looked at three houses, put an offer on the second one I saw, and went out for a cappuccino.

I have spent the past two days packing like a madwoman. I took a break last night to go see Leon Russell in concert. He was amazing. I will take another break on Thursday to drive to Kansas to see Judy Collins, then drive back after the concert that night, sleep a few hours, and let the movers in at 1 p.m. Friday so we can head out with the U-Haul on Saturday. (We’re taking possession of the house a week and a half before the closing because I’m due in the newsroom bright and early Monday morning.) In between, I have to finish the Trip Guide and tie up some loose ends at work.

My editor is floored. He’s never seen anyone buy a house that fast.

I told him I worked well under deadline pressure. I wasn’t kidding.

Anyway, if I don’t blog for a couple of weeks, it’s because I’m coordinating the logistics of a 450-mile move and starting a new job. Watch this space; as soon as I get settled, I should have all manner of eye candy for you. Also, if you know anybody who wants to buy a three-bedroom house in Red Fork with solar panels on the roof and ridiculously cheap power bills, we’re asking $74,900. Safe neighborhood, fenced backyard, and the white trashy neighbors who liked to get stoned and shoot fireworks at the house have moved away, so it’s pretty quiet around here.