Moms and stepmoms

July 10, 2009 The evil stepmother is a staple villain of fairy tales. A wicked witch who cackles into a mirror, she starves her husband’s children while she wallows in riches.Today’s stepmoms might not be accused of casting spells, but talk to any first wife about her husband’s new wife and you’ll likely discover a bubbling cauldron of resentment. And the word they often use to describe the new Mrs. isn’t witch, but it sure rhymes with it.

Private dinners leave bad taste

July 10, 2009 The general notion is not really open to dispute today that the news media of tomorrow will be very different from the news media of yesterday — but the specifics are.

The Beale Treasure

July 9, 2009 A mysterious coded message — a cryptogram — in Thomas Jefferson’s papers that went unsolved for more than 200 years may hold the key to finding the famous Beale Treasure — if the treasure exists.A mathematician, Dr. Lawren Smithline, recently decoded the cryptogram, which was composed by and sent to Jefferson in 1801 by Jefferson’s friend and frequent correspondent Robert Patterson.

Playboy for sale

July 8, 2009 It was one of the chief reasons kids built shacks in the early 1970s: to hide their stash of Playboy magazines.Playboy was pretty racy fare back then and any kid whose mother caught him with one might not survive into adulthood. And so we built shacks.We’d walk miles to the new housing projects and scavenge supplies. We’d build shacks in the woods and secure them with locks.Once the shack was built, kids had two goals in life: secure whatever Playboys we were able to acquire and raid other kids’ shacks to swipe their Playboys.

State looks good

July 8, 2009 LITTLE ROCK — State government’s fiscal year for 2010 began July 1, and Arkansas is in relatively good financial shape compared to other states.

How does your garden grow?

July 7, 2009 I’m not a great gardener by any means. I think I take after my late Granny Bebe, who always said her green thumb was brown. Over the years I’ve managed to kill quite a few houseplants, as well as outside plants, and still have no clue if it was because of too much water or sunlight, not enough water or sunlight, or some combination of those.

Traveling with felines

July 7, 2009 Moving to Arkansas three years ago was an adventure I hope to never repeat. It was not so much the 700 mile drive with kids ages 8 and 9. They had endured road trips to Colorado and Utah in previous years. It was the five cats we drug along that made things interesting. Interesting, as in the old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”

Words from a soldier

July 2, 2009 “I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.”Every soldier learns those words in basic combat training, but I wonder how many pause to think of those words as they say them. The mere implication of giving one’s life in defense of something should not be taken lightly, nor should the words be said without grave consideration of their true meaning.

On the Oregon Trail

July 2, 2009 On April 10, 1846, the Josephus A. Cornwall family left its home one mile north of Jamestown, south of Batesville, for Oregon.Two pair of yoked oxen were hitched to each of their two covered wagons, and Cornwall and his wife, Nancy Hardin Cornwall, rode in a carriage pulled by two mules, Jude and Jim.

Becoming Mr. Mom

July 1, 2009 I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole concept of “fatherhood” the past week or so. As I described in my last column, my father was very much a prototypical, 1960s- type dad. I’m a daddy, too. Three times a daddy, in fact. But I’m nothing at all like he was. And I’ve been through three different types of fatherhood, so to speak, so far.