Family

Daytime TV Can Make (or Keep) You Sick

Daytime TV Can Make (or Keep) You Sick

Growing up, I always associated daytime television with being ill. Yet in spite of some drawbacks—my feeling rotten, my mom’s insistence on vacuuming my bedroom floor at what seemed like two-hour intervals, the TV shows, and even old movies—staying home from school was pretty sweet.

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Why Isn’t My Cat a Service Animal?

Why Isn’t My Cat a Service Animal?

Do I qualify as my cat’s service animal? I ask because these days, whenever I head “down-state” (from Northern to Southern California), I get a little uncertain about leaving behind my 18-year-old cat, Osborn the Magnificent.

For the past couple of years, Osborn’s had a wonderful caregiver—musician and pet whisperer Laura Sterner. She comes by a couple of times a day to feed him, clean up after him and, probably discuss a few of the day’s issues. While Osborn’s tendency is to dominate conversations (usually saying the same thing over and over, to be candid about it) Laura holds her own with anecdotes from her dual careers in science and performing.

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Enforced Home Schooling Can Be a Genuine Education

Enforced Home Schooling Can Be a Genuine Education

I home-schooled my daughter Jessica for two days when she was eight or nine years old and had strep or something. I don’t recall the particular malady because there’s a certain age when children aren’t just children: they’re carriers. (And you can believe that if this pandemic had hit when I had a kid in school, she’d have stayed home. Why endanger teachers, parents and other children? Discussion over.)

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Nostalgia Turns to Laughter on a Wedding Anniversary

Nostalgia Turns to Laughter on a Wedding Anniversary

Forty-two years ago today, at about 10:15 a.m. on 8/7/78, Jane and I were married on the beach in front of the Capitola Venetian, one of the oldest condo developments in California.

The service was performed by a nonsectarian minister from nearby UC Santa Cruz whom Jane had found in the local phone book. The witnesses, in addition to some curious seagulls, were the woman he’d been living with for several years but wasn’t married to, and a 13-year-old girl, who looked like both of them and spent the entire ceremony looking down as she sifted sand through her bare toes.

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Parents Find that College Tuition is Suddenly Negotiable

“Discutir” (diss-coo-tier) was one of my favorite words to conjugate when I took Spanish classes in the fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth and ninth grades. It means “to discuss” or, more to the point, “to bargain.” I pictured myself becoming a worldly traveler someday, saying things like, “¡Qué va! ¡Ni en broma!”—in essence, “Go on! Not even as a joke!”—if street vendors in Mexico would try to get me to pay full price for, say, a death mask made entirely of spun sugar (this is a real thing—and often, a stunningly beautiful piece of craftsmanship).

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My Boss Turned 18 on Bastille Day

My Boss Turned 18 on Bastille Day

If you claim to be your own boss, I respectfully submit that you don’t have a cat. Mine, Osborn the Magnificent, turned a staggering 18 years old on Bastille Day, a little more than 72 hours ago.

While he’s been with me since 2007, in 2012 I gained full custody rights in a divorce (to clarify: my own). Ever since then, we’ve been our own bachelor-roommates sitcom, complete with pesky neighbor. This neighbor, who always tried peering into my yard as she walked by, heard Osborn and me arguing about his coming inside to have his dinner late one afternoon. I called him, told him it was time to eat and he meowed something back…

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Some Father’s Day Ruminations

Some Father’s Day Ruminations

When I was a kid, and probably for decades before that, a common comment about Father’s Day, in lower-east-side-of-New-York dialect, went something like this:

“On Fodder’s Day, be sure to t’ank yer Mudder — ‘cause if it wuzn’t fer yer Mudder, yer Fodder wouldn’t be no Fodder.”

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For Some of Us, Memorial Day is a Day of Atonement

Memorial Day has always been a day of atonement for me since only six numbers prevented my being called up to serve in the U.S. Army in 1969.

It was during the height of the Vietnam War and the reboot of the Selective Service System’s draft lottery for the first time since 1942. Men born from January 1, 1944 through December 31, 1950, were eligible. I was born on November 15, 1950. If I’d been able to hang around in utero for another 17 days, I’d have been home free.

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Why I Was Never Allowed to Forget Mother’s Day

Why I Was Never Allowed to Forget Mother’s Day

Until my mom passed away in 2006, I never forgot Mother’s Day. I never got the chance to.

Even when it was still at least three weeks away, she’d remind me it was, successively, (a) on the horizon; (b) looming; (c) coming into view; and (d) tomorrow.

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Are Bathing and Strolling Now Next to Godliness?

Are Bathing and Strolling Now Next to Godliness?

Look, “Singin’ in the Rain” is one thing. But are you ready for “Strollin’ to the Tub”?

Two recent side-by-side New York Times stories, “Baths May Benefit the Heart” and “Find Health 4,000 Steps at a Time,” intrigued me because they seemed at first to contradict each other.

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