My friend said something you don’t hear every day: “That was an interesting juxtaposition on the pickleball court.”


We four women met to play pickleball. On the adjacent court were two nice younger men. One of their hard-hit balls bounced into our court and smacked me on the rear end. Didn’t hurt, but we were all startled, and the two men came over to apologize. They told us they are pastors at a neat new church that is nearing completion in our neck o’ the woods.

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Still smiling over my good friend’s story from when they were first married. We had been discussing thrifty ways for college students to furnish their dorm rooms and apartments. There’s nothing smarter than being frugal when you’re young.

She relayed how she and her husband were pretty low on cash when they were setting up their household. So they went to garage sales to buy stuff cheap.

Her husband was particularly gifted at negotiating.

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When I was a chubby tweener in black glasses and braces, I wanted to be Barbra Streisand. I wanted to belt out her signature song, “People,” in an evening gown and fancy hairdo to an appreciative audience at Carnegie Hall.

Yeah. Right. No chance, Cheerio Breath.

But lately I have been living some of those iconic lyrics:

. . . We’re children, needing other children,

And yet letting our grown-up pride

Hide all the need inside.

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I’m far from mentally perfect. In fact, my high school nickname from the smart alecks on the school newspaper was “S.D. the D.S.” I was “Susan Darst,” so I understood the first half. But it took me a long time to realize the second half stood for “the Dumb S-h-You-Know-What.”

Well! I never! Those nasty upperclassmen were just mad at how much I usually cut their bloated, egotistical stories. Ha!

But honestly,

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I’m really inspired by an ad hoc Christian ministry that two Omaha women have quietly been doing for a year. I found out about it when a Facebook friend, Tish Salcedo Johnson, ordered one of my bouquets that benefit She had it delivered as a birthday surprise for her friend and fellow Bible study leader, Paula Brenneman.

That’s Paula with the flowers, and here’s Tish.


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If you’ve been sad about the ugly and distasteful stuff going on in our country, especially the scourge of human sex and labor trafficking, here’s a way to take a stand for beauty, sweetness, and much-needed support for a wonderful Omaha charity that turns trafficking victims into productive, thriving citizens.

It’s This is about the fifth year that I’ve grown flowers for them to make into bouquets. You can “order” a bouquet for yourself or someone special and have it delivered anywhere in the Omaha metro area.

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Here’s an idea: if you’re mad and upset about ways that society is letting some of us down these days, don’t just be mad and upset. Get in there and DO SOMETHING!!!

But I mean . . . not loot, riot, spray-paint and pull statues down – but do something positive, constructive, legal and effective!

Here’s what my new friend Spencer Head has chosen: run for school board. They need good people on those boards.

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Yesterday I raged against a racist depiction of a character in a book for girls published around 1901. That brought a thoughtful comment from a friend about the famous 1885 masterpiece, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain. In it, Huck and an escaped slave named Jim were the main characters. Did I think that was racist, too, since it used the term “nigger”?

No! And I wish I’d made that clear yesterday.

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My mom gave me a box of antique books yesterday. She knows I can’t resist. There was a sweet old bird book, a horse veterinarian’s guide, and a couple of other serendipitous volumes.

I saw a title I vaguely recognized, “Mistress May.” I think it was a famous book for young girls back in the day – I mean, really back. It was published in 1901. Author: Amy E. Blanchard, three-time national book award winner.  

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I did a little strawberry jam project last month as a fund-raiser for an inner-city youth program I greatly admire, The Hope Center for Kids. I grew enough strawberries to cook and can 80 jars of jam. Then people who “ordered” some would give a donation to The Hope. Our daughter Maddy or I delivered the jars all over town. A few people live in different states so we shipped jam to them. It worked great and raised over $1,000.

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