My wife’s magical garden is a kid magnet


My wife has been dropping a small fortune on garden ornaments in the shapes of animals, fairies and the like for a reason: The younger neighborhood children are nuts about them.

She has created a veritable civilization of ceramic beings that are scattered throughout a lovely curbside garden she maintains. Tots with their parents traverse the adjacent sidewalk outside our house, and the kids never fail to pause and excitedly examine what to them are wondrous, magical toys.

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For the first time in ages I bike-commuted

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Long ago, when working in Washington, D.C. at one of my first journalism jobs, I was a bicycle commuter.

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Good job, St. John’s. My son is impressed.


Thirty-six years ago this winter, a Catholic young man living in San Juan, P.R., took a leap of faith and — sight unseen — chose a secluded, wooded Benedictine campus in a faraway land called “Minnesota” as his home for the following four years.

It was the best decision of my life (up to that point; meeting and marrying a certain green-eyed woman now tops the list).

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I loved a new memoir about death & love


Ralph the Toddler and I crossed paths for the first (and, so far, only) time at a Minneapolis backyard party last summer.

The little dude was impossible to miss: He nonchalantly picked up a garden hose, engaged the trigger, and proceeded to spray the adult attendees for several seconds until someone frantically intervened.

It was awesome.

Now think about an entire book filled with such awesomeness. Such a book exists … by the Mother of Ralph herself, Nora McInerny Purmort.

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I’m Julio Ojeda-Zapata, a nerd, boricua and tech writer living in St. Paul, Minn.
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Julio's bookshelf: read

MacArthur at War
liked it
This sweeping account of Gen. Douglas MacArthur's Pacific exploits during World War II is heavy on the minutia but nonetheless thrilling. This isn't an adoring account, either, but a warts-and-all tale.
The Menopause Book
My wife pulled this out and jokingly asked me if I wanted to read it. Challenge accepted. I learned a lot.
The Wedding Heard ’Round the World: America’s First Gay Marriage
really liked it
Decades before Minnesota legalized same-sex marriage, the authors (who are a couple) pushed boundaries. A good read.
"The Last Starfighter" with a twist, this grabbed me more than the author's earlier, better-known "Ready Player One" (which I never finished).
Everything That Remains: A Memoir by the Minimalists
it was ok
I had a hard time getting through this disjointed narrative. It's in some ways a rehash of the authors' earlier minimalism manual. Not impressed (but I like their blog and podcast).