• Thank you 1 e1612041613269
    Amazing People,  Blessings,  How To,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    Thanks, Healthcare Workers! (or, Here’s a Template for a Thank You Note)

    “You were all already heroes in my eyes way before this tragedy struck my family, but now that I know what I know from experiencing it, I am truly in awe of all of you.” I wrote a thank you letter last week, as did my mom and sister. I delivered them to the hospital staff who sit at a table just inside the ER doors, taking temperatures and evaluating people who want to enter the building. Those gatekeepers would deliver the thank you notes to the Nurses’ Station on the COVID floor for me, just like they delivered various things my dad, mom, and sister needed from home when…

  • Irving Howard Witcoff
    Amazing People,  Childhood Memories,  Family Fun,  Favorite Things,  My Dad Has Mad Skillz

    In Celebration of a Life Well Lived

    It’s very strange, thinking that the obituary you wrote for your Dad is one of your best pieces ever, but that’s where I’m at. While it’s always a challenge to try and capture someone’s essence in a few (okay, a lot of) paragraphs, I know I did a great job for him. I can hear him saying, “Way to go, Toots. I’m proud of you.” Irving Howard Witcoff, 78, of Chicago, died on December 25, 2020 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Irv was born on October 9, 1942 at Loretto Hospital in Chicago, Illinois and grew up on the west side. He attended Harper High School and was by all accounts a…

  • IMG 5863
    Amazing People,  Blessings

    Creative Ways To Connect and Learn While Social Distancing: A Guide to the Silver Linings

    Updated June 4, 9:40 am: Well, it’s time. After eleven weeks of updating my list of things to do, watch, and learn from home while everyone was self-isolating, I just updated it one last time and now I’m going to let it go. Or rather, I’m going to let it STAY. While I won’t be updating it any further, it’ll be pinned to the top of this site until the end of June. After that, you can easily find it anytime for eternity if you need something to do, by coming here and searching “Coronavirus list.” My final additions include more anti-racism resources, plus the fun videos and things I’ve…

  • Aunt Nancy quilting scaled
    Amazing People,  Blessings,  Childhood Memories,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    The Best Kind of Quilt

    Just like so many others in my family, my Aunt Nancy was an extremely creative person. She was an avid knitter and enjoyed lots of other crafty pursuits, but one in particular eventually took the lead and became her favorite: making quilts. She started quilting in the early 1980s, completing her first quilt in 1983. After that there was no turning back. For nearly four decades she pieced and sewed, gifting her creations to lucky friends and family members like me (I received a quilt for my college dorm room as well as baby quilts for my sons). For as long as I can remember, if she wasn’t holding court…

  • wedding day
    Amazing People,  Best Thing Ever,  Blessings,  Fun in Knoxville,  Jim Has Mad Skillz,  We Are An Awesome Couple

    On Getting Lost and Found

    The very first argument Jim and I had as a married couple was on our wedding day. We left the courthouse in Norfolk, Virginia and drove back to Knoxville; he was on leave from the Navy for the rest of the week. After a very long eight-hour drive, we got off the interstate and had to navigate through downtown Knoxville, which has lots of one way streets and odd intersections. It wasn’t long before we got completely turned around and totally lost. This was way before cell phones and GPS navigation (imagine that, kids!), and we didn’t have a map in the car. I wanted him to pull over so…

  • Pittsburg Kels and Court
    Amazing People,  Favorite Things,  Pretty Pictures,  Travels

    Courtney and Kelsey Montague: Art and a Sister Act That Lifts You (and Me)

    If you follow me on social media you already know that I am very obsessed with the art of Kelsey Montague. Her #WhatLiftsYou and #WhatUnitesUs murals are all over the world, and before I go pretty much anywhere I check the map on the Kelsey Montague Art website to see if I might be able to take a quick detour to experience a new mural in person. (By the way, Kelsey’s first major fan? Taylor Swift…but more on that in a minute.) Kelsey’s style is very distinctive and bold and not only do her pieces brighten up any wall, anywhere, but they also are bringing tourists like me into small…

  • measuring e1565880270530
    Amazing People,  Blessings

    Precious Time

    One evening early last year our friends were over for dinner and I was telling them that I wanted to put a water feature in our backyard, in between our bedroom windows. I thought it would be nice to lie in bed and hear the water when we were able to have the windows open. My friend’s eight-year-old—who, just like his mom, loves anything having to do with landscaping (weirdos)—spoke up immediately: “I could design one for you, Melisa!” I thought it was an excellent idea and told him to start thinking about it and we’d talk more about it later. Last summer went by in a crazy blur: they…

  • Pin setter
    Amazing People,  Tough Questions

    I’m Certain Laverne Defazio Never Had to Wonder Like I Do.

    Last week we were in Milwaukee, visiting our younger son. Always on the hunt for fun activities to do with the boys when we are together, I was thrilled to find a place that offered mini bowling. Jim and Jason were up for it so we headed out. Mini bowling is played the same way as traditional bowling, but the pins are smaller and the lanes are more narrow and much shorter. The balls have no finger holes, are similar in size to small coconuts, and come in one weight (about three and a half pounds). Because of the type of balls used, it feels a lot like Skeeball when…

  • 8CFC319E 9A64 435F BA8B 693D336C2E44 e1543711907762
    Amazing People,  Childhood Memories,  Music


    Today we finally saw “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the film about Freddie Mercury and the origin and subsequent climb of the band Queen. The part I was most looking forward to in the movie was the end, because the filmmakers recreated Queen’s iconic performance at Live Aid, the epic 1985 concert that was held at both Wembley Stadium in London and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia to raise money for the relief of Ethiopian famine. I thought it would be cool to see it “again.” In fact, it was incredible and I cried from the time Freddie (played by Rami Malek) took the stage at Wembley until the very end of the movie.…

  • IMG 2951 e1541468408524
    Amazing People,  Music

    Sold Out.

    Back in the day, companies had original product jingles for radio and television written by their advertising agencies. It was unheard of to have popular music playing in the background on advertisements for everything from computers to cars to cleaning products. When bands started selling the rights to their music for the purpose of marketing things to the public, it was considered selling out. Of course, money talks (as does exposure!) so over the past couple of decades jingles have become more extinct and pop music, either well-known or not-yet-discovered, is the soundtrack of choice. Musicians are no longer accused of selling out; it’s a point of pride to be…