Columns

Avoiding those pushy phone scammers takes persistence

Other Side of 50

I just received my fifth email this month on the same topic. In the email, my friend informed me he’s canceled his landline service and has chosen to use only his cellphone for voice communication because of the abundance of robocalls and scams he was receiving. Unfortunately, this will not solve his robocall problem. A robocall is a phone call […]

Are there family secrets hidden in DNA?

Family Man

I was about to learn more about my family through one of those DNA tests. “No,” my 15-year-old know-it-all son said. “You’re about to get a visit from the government about your involvement in a crime you didn’t commit. “That’s called a movie,” I said. “Not real life.” Typical skeptical teen. I’d been listening to “The Italian American Podcast,” learning […]

In the garden: Tortoises and frogs, oh my

On the Trail

The dog and I enjoy strolling through local neighborhoods, pretending we’re judges at the county fair doling out awards or snarky asides. Since I’m a gardener and the dog’s a gardener’s sidekick, we’re focused on greenery, flowers and, lately, taste in garden ornamentation. We decided to take an inventory of some of the landscaping eye candy as well as less […]

Ground squirrel and shrub form an unlikely alliance

Pyracantha shrubs invade neighbor’s yard


Like an abominable snowman groping for a victim in a blizzard, the pyracantha shrubs that grow through a neighbor’s 10-foot-high chain-link fence extend fluffy flower-laden branches through and over fence links. “They’re trying to escape the neighbor’s yard and invade mine,” my friend Tiller said jokingly. He pinches his nose at the malodorous scent of the shrub’s spring flowers. Around […]

Last-minute checklist for before you go

Flying Squirrel

Now that June is here, summer travel is beginning to heat up. If you have a vacation scheduled this summer, you’ve probably completed the bulk of your travel planning—finalizing your flights, hotels, maps, excursions, etc. But do you have a plan for the 24 hours immediately before your trip? Many of us hurtle toward the start of a vacation, overwhelmed […]

Run out of beverages? Abundant grace at a wedding party

Roots of Faith

Everyone loves a party— including Jesus. In John’s Gospel, the first miracle took place at a wedding— not where one might expect the Son of God to launch his public ministry. But Jesus was always doing the unexpected. The wedding took place “on the third day” (John 2:1) after Jesus began calling his disciples (John 1:43). You might recall that […]

Got a peaceful, easy feeling—at last

Hot Flashes

“Be careful. They have sharp things in this place.” That was the warning leveled by Mr. Fixit as I prowled the hospital floor for answers. Apparently, he was worried that I’d do my Cruella de Vil imitation, inciting the nurses to torture him with pointy things. I reminded him I only unleash Cruella on special occasions, like when our baggage […]

Fire and flood forge fresh flora

On the Trail

An impromptu botanic garden, planted by nature rather than the hand of man, has emerged in the fire-charred woods of willow, sycamore, cottonwood and oak surrounding what was formerly Seminole Lake. The little private lake had been the picturesque focal point of the Seminole Springs Mobile Home Park community in rural Agoura. November’s wildfire destroyed half the homes in the […]

The kid’s ABCs of finance, waking up

Family Man

When our son entered middle school and started getting letter grades, my wife and I decided to pay him for what he earned. We’d give him $20 for an A, $10 for a B and nothing for a C. If he got a D he’d owe us $10, and if he got an F he’d have to fork over $20. […]

Roses in bloom demand a bridegroom

On the Trail

If I were an impulsive gal and could’ve corralled an impulsive guy to marry me last Friday, we would’ve held our impromptu nuptials smack in the middle of the parking lot of the Shoppes at Westlake Village on Russell Ranch Road. Why such a rash romantic move? Well, for one thing, the sun made a very late appearance in the […]


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