Tie Yourself Down

A hundred years ago, there was a legendary “tie yourself down” stretch of railroad along Beaver Canyon, one of the places my great grandmother, Sophia, worked as a cook for the railroad crews laying track. The road was so rough, several men were stationed there with the sole purpose of cleaning up the box cars that weren’t tied down and therefore tipped over and smashed on the rocks below. “Tie yourself down,” meaning prepare for...

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Woolgathering Really?

“Woolgathering?” my granddaughter asked. I grew up on a sheep ranch in Idaho. She’s currently living in a high-rise apartment in Toronto. Woolgathering n. Absent-minded indulgence in fanciful daydreams–adj. Indulging in fancies; absent-minded. The American Heritage Dictionary that resides on my desk doesn’t even include a definition for the real-life activity that gave its name to dreams. Poor people used to wander...

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Starting Anew

Starting over is never easy. Yet, like it or not, starting over is common enough to have become its own classic story. According to this motif, starting over involves a journey, a struggle in a new place, and a change of such significance that the hero becomes a new person who often takes a new name. Going to college is an origin story. Getting married is an origin story. Having a child. Starting a new job. Moving to a new place . . . We...

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