When an unexpected gift sparked a memory and a roadmap

Finger knitted yarn, wrapped in a ball, in a mosaic of colors
Finger knitted yarn, wrapped in a ball, in a mosaic of colors

I was standing outside on my lunch break when a message appeared from a long-ago friend.

She had a question for me. Could I call?

I was intrigued. A mystery! I pressed her number.

“Well, hellllooo Megan,” she said in her familiar deep voice. She always greeted me that way — back when we’d see each other — a stretched-out hello that reliably made me feel a little special.

I was only slightly surprised to find out, seconds later, that she’d sold her house and was getting ready to move. This happens frequently in midlife.

“The time has come,” she…


Photo by Leonard Reese on Unsplash

It’s finally spring.

And I finally feel bold enough to write that I made it through a New Jersey winter teaching mainly outside. I’m surprised by this and also by just how much-unexpected pleasure I discovered in the adventure.

Back in late August, when I earnestly began to plan for a year of outdoor teaching (pandemic-inspired) I wondered if I’d be capable of such a feat — I’m the person who is always cold, the person who secretly raises the thermostat in the living room. But I wanted to be teaching, in person and was determined to do so without…


And the delight of crossing “someday” off my list

Image by MJ Jin from Pixabay

You know that scene in the Sound of Music where Julie Andrews (Maria) sews up clothes from old curtains and, within a few short hours, all seven children have play clothes? It’s always bugged me.

Sewing takes time. Who was watching the kids when Julie was measuring, drawing a pattern, cutting fabric, and fashioning necklines and elastic waists? I understand, of course, that it’s a story based mostly on truth and it was necessary to speed things along to keep the plot moving. I do that too. …


And why you should always have a can of tuna fish

Author photo

I heard the back door open.

“There’s a cat under the shed.”

Did I hear my husband correctly? I doubted it. But hoped for it.

Couldn’t be.

Could it?

We have two loud barking dogs. Why would any cat come here? Though we do have a lot of chipmunks.

“What?”

“A cat. I saw him poke out his head.”

I dried off my hands, got on my sneakers and yelled loud enough for anyone else in the house to hear:

“There’s a cat under the shed. A CAT!”

It…


And all the other things, too.

Photo by Oxa Roxa on Unsplash

I’m in phase one of getting back into my jeans.

This means I can wear them for about fifteen minutes before getting in a bad mood about the way they have gotten tight in my upper thigh area. Which starts me thinking about whether or not all that sourdough bread was worth it.

It felt worth it in the moment.

I remind myself that when my jeans were looser, I wasn’t necessarily happier.

In fact, I felt about the same, except slightly hungrier. And that’s probably because of the basic happiness set-point theory. …


What my friends and neighbors make for dinner when they haven’t been to the store

Photo by Wilhelm Gunkel on Unsplash

I’m always wondering what people make for dinner when it’s been a while since they’ve shopped. When my ingredients run low, I fantasize about dropping in the kitchens of my friends to see what creative thing they’re whipping up. But life isn’t really like that anymore. It’s one of the drawbacks of suburban living, the loss of alchemy that rises from the in-person collaboration over shared knowledge. It’s a reality that makes my memories of my nana’s kitchen bittersweet — I haven’t been able to replicate her communal space. …


A grim discovery alters my perspective

Photo by Daria Rom on Unsplash

I am sitting cross-legged on the floor in my foyer, facing a wall. Next to me is a Mason jar of dry rice, a stick of incense propped up.

The timer is set for forty-five minutes, an inordinate amount of time. I do this because I’ve been reading a manual on meditation; an informative book on the brain written by a detail person who, I would guess, frowns on skimming. But I did skim, right away, to the benefits of meditation because I needed some incentive. …


Fantasy can be expensive

An empty road in Santa Fe (author photo)

I was at a long red light in my quiet suburban town when I decided to change my life.

Back then, this wasn’t unusual, but on that afternoon, I went through with it.

By early evening, once there was no going back, I’d come down with a headache. The dog panted while I sat at the kitchen table. My credit card was still out of my wallet and I had several browsers open on my computer. My youngest son opened and closed the refrigerator door as if to remind me of the time.

I’d been set in motion by a…


Attempting to stay the course when my kids borrow an ice-cream maker

Photo by Haley Owens on Unsplash

It took me over thirty years to give up sugar. They were long decades of trying, failing and trying again.

Why did I even attempt such a feat? I explain it here, in the unexpected thing that happened when I gave up sugar.

Of course, it was helpful, when I finally succeeded, that most of my kids had moved out of the house and I was in sole charge of what the freezer held.

It wasn’t like I was perfect, because nobody’s perfect. Which meant if I went out to dinner, I would sometimes say “yes” when the waiter asked


How I improved my relationship with the kitchen

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

One of the best things I ever did to change my attitude toward cooking was to make the same thing nearly every day for four months. This happened by chance — I was chosen to be the host mom for two girls from Nepal. Before they came, I thought they would love American food.

I was wrong.

In the beginning, they craved their native rice and dal they were used to eating every day. Dal is a soupy, spicy mix of lentils atop rice. Initially, I resisted making it — I didn’t…

Megan Houston Sager

Teacher, writer, mother, maker. I have a story about that. http://megansager.wordpress.com

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