It was a most-welcome sign of life returning to normal — a giant, outside flea market on a beautiful May Saturday morning. Even better, it was the day after payday, and we lucked into a parking spot close to the front.

The first row of booths at this market had long, narrow spaces that limited shoppers to entering single file. Don had wandered into a particularly slender booth filled with colorful and exotic-looking artwork and was having an animated conversation with a young man — late teens, early 20s — who I assumed was the artist. …

When I think “free range,” I generally think chicken, not children, but apparently there’s a movement afoot, that of Free-Range Parenting.

I first encountered the term a few years back in a news accounts about a Maryland couple who were in trouble over allowing their children, ages 6 and 10, to walk a mile home from a park. Someone saw the unaccompanied minors and called the police, who collected the children and drove them home.

The officers reprimanded the father, a physicist, and Child Protective Services was called. …

It’s interesting how many businesses and products have disappeared during my lifetime.

Video stores. Typewriters. Pay phones and land lines.

Yellow pages. Paper maps. Encyclopedias.

Repair shops for most anything smaller than a car. It’s all disposable now.

And then there are the businesses that have become a fraction of what they once were. Pantyhose are no longer the fashion staple, yet sales of tights and leggings remain strong. Film is no longer sold at most every checkout and developed at one-hour counters, yet photos are still uploaded and printed, although mostly online.

We click to chat with customer service…

Pity the private person whose daughter is a writer.

My poor mother, so modest and reserved. And here it is, another Mother’s Day, and she’s probably cringing as she reads these words, wondering which story about her I might’ve chosen to share.

It’s a bit unfair of me. All those years Mom spent believing she was simply raising me before learning her offspring was taking notes, that instead of mere parenting, Mom was stocking my larder with material.

Mom has always been one of the funniest people I’ve known and one of the quickest to laugh. Life seems to amuse…

It’s been a dozen years since we talked, but I still think of her this time every year, usually when the ads start appearing, suggesting Mother’s Day gifts.

We only exchanged a few emails, so maybe it’s odd that someone I never met in person has remained with me the way she has, but she touched something in me. Opened my eyes to a suffering I’d not considered until we talked.

She’d emailed initially because of a column I once wrote mentioning some friends I’d been avoiding because their children were about the same age my youngest would’ve been. She…

While reading a how-to article about developing characters when writing a story, I ran across a Maya Angelou quote that wedged itself in my head.

“I’ve learned,” said Angelou, “that you can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

The article suggested paying attention to the short cuts we witness in daily life that reveal something about the person’s character, the little actions that sum up who they are.

For instance, if someone says, “That’s not my problem,” or “That isn’t in my…

The Gift Came With a Cost

An old friend recently shared a situation he found himself in and asked for advice.

Basically, back in the 1980s, when my friend was headed to college, his father gifted him with a large thermos. This gift was both thoughtful and useful and continues to be used even now. The problem is, he suspects it was acquired in a less-than-honest manner.

“It’s just a thermos,” you might be saying right about now. Except it isn’t quite that simple.

“Dad wasn’t a coffee drinker and never owned one like this,” said my friend. “Based on…

It was one of those realizations that, once it occurred, kept gathering speed.

In this case, the thought stream started at the litter box, when I recognized what kind of people my cats would be if they were human.

They would be the kind of people who don’t flush.

They might wash their hands after, but generally not until they’d first fingered my food.

With their own dinner, they’d spend ages trying to decide what to order, and then once it came, they’d take just a single bite.

They would suffer from chronic menu envy, wanting tastes from everyone else’s…

A few readers have asked for an update on the baby squirrel we found days before leaving on a two-week trip to my brother’s house. When we first came upon the little guy, he had been trapped in a storage building and was badly dehydrated. But since the wildlife rescue groups we reached out to were full at the time, we had no choice but take him with us. On a 12-hour drive.

“It’ll be an adventure,” Don said. And it was.

The drive up was surprisingly easy, as Rudy Squirrelianni was still so young he was content to lounge…

Inside a shoebox on my desk is what likely will be an exercise in futility. One that will probably end up making me cry. And one that has me smelling of savory salmon, since this stubborn little cuss keeps shaking its head with its beak full of food, slinging his stinky mush all over me, his surrogate mom.

I’ve raised baby birds before — just wrote of one we had as an overnight guest a few weeks back — but this little guy seems almost destined to fail. …

Karin Tauscher Fuller

Karin Fuller is a newspaper columnist and short fiction writer who resides in Atlanta.

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