This must be the place: Happy 50th birthday, Dirty Santa

And there I was, at a dive bar in the 800-person high desert town of Victor, Idaho, with the backdrop of the Grand Teton mountain range, playing horseshoes and sipping on a lukewarm can of Rainier beer. It was the early summer 2008. My friend, Billie, was watching a few of us play, when she asked me what I had planned now that the weather had gotten warmer.

This must be the place: Finding Nirvana is like locating silence

Emerging from the Appalachian Trail on the North Carolina/ Tennessee state line this past Sunday afternoon, a hot southern sun hung high, beads of sweat rolling down my face. I turned around and saluted the dirt path I just had finished running. 

This must be the place

I still don’t really know what day it is.

This must be the place: Don’t shoot the messenger, literally

It’s something that’s been in the back of my mind for a while now. When news broke last week of the shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, that thought now shifted from the back of my mind to the forefront of my thoughts — could it happen to us?

This must be the place: The heart has its seasons, its evenings and songs of its own

“If you see all the people playing corn hole in the driveway you’re at the right place,” the familiar voice said over the phone last Saturday evening. 

After the shock, and the pain, life goes on

It has been about eight months since my stepfather died. My mother has been talking about getting her house in order for a while, but now she has reached the point of putting her thoughts into action. The question is what to keep, what to sell, what to pass on to the kin, what to donate, what to burn, and what to take to the landfill. We are outside, taking a brief and informal inventory. Plus, it’s the second day of summer and nice out, so it is just good to walk off a breakfast of pancakes and bacon with a little time in the sun.

A life stranger than fiction: Local author releases novel of true-life confessions

As Royal Phillips packs up her belongings that signify the last 20 years she’s spent in Waynesville and prepares for her next chapter in Palm Springs, California, she can’t help but to feel like her life has come full circle — and what a crazy circle it has been. 

This must be the place

I was thrown into the deep end.

When I was 20 years old, I became a substitute teacher. I was still in college, but I was also looking to make some extra money when I was home for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the subsequent spring and summer breaks. The pay was OK, but the schedule was very flexible. The administrator would call me up the night before and ask if I was free to take over whatever was in need of adult supervision: social studies, science, physical education, English, etc. 

This must be the place: Chasing the American Dream of Breakfast

It’s the only way to eat breakfast.

Two eggs, two slices of toast (cut into four triangular pieces), a side of meat, a side of hashbrowns or homefries, a cup of coffee and the day’s newspaper alongside. It is, quite literally, the American Dream in a meal.

Cry sweet tears of joy, touch the sky

Right around the point of the song “Beginnings” when Chicago singer/keyboardist Robert Lamm belted out the lyrics, “Time passes much too quickly/When we're together laughing/I wish I could sing it to you,” I could see and feel the goosebumps rising on my arms. 

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