A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beth Underwood: The death of The Monkees’ Peter Tork revives many mixed childhood memories

I was having lunch with Mom and one of my brothers a couple of weeks ago when Mom kicked off the conversation on a rather low note. “Did you hear that Peter Tork from The Monkees died?” I hadn’t heard. The Monkees provided an undeniable and lasting influence on my musical tastes and education and played no small part in my lifetime love of music. Needless to say, the news brought to mind...

Beth Underwood: It’s easy to see, the best part about an eye exam is that pair of stylish paper sunglasses

“Take a look at these lines,” the optometric assistant said, holding out a small sheet of paper on a clipboard. “Stare at the dot in the center, cover your left eye and tell me if the lines look straight, crooked, or wavy.” Such was the first directives at my recent eye check-up. “They look straight,” I replied. “Are they supposed to look straight?” And so it began. For the next...

Beth Underwood: When it comes to return policies, I’m taken aback by what some people… take back

There’s a WalMart bag in the back seat of my SUV. Inside the bag, there’s a brand new pair of warm and fuzzy slipper socks, reminding me of what happens when I prematurely toss a receipt. At this point, the socks have been rendered useless. I couldn’t exchange them because apparently, they didn’t have my size, to begin with. And now that they’ve been marked clearance for the season, the value...

Beth Underwood: Even Mardi Gras has rules, but at grandma’s house the King Cake carries septuplets

I recently made an interesting observation about our family. On the whole, we’re sticklers for the rules. We hold fast to long-established traditions, routines, and other forms of convention. Except for when we don’t. There are times when we can be real rabble-rousers and rule breakers — real outliers intent on paving our own way forward. I bring this up because Tuesday, March 5, is no ordinary...

Beth Underwood: Some unspoken rules we should maybe discuss when it comes to online dating

Believe it or not, I’ve been known to toy with the notion of internet dating from time to time. Frankly, I’m not sure how people meet these days, otherwise. Oh, sure, there’s always bar hopping, bumping into Mr. Wonderful while walking the dog, or running into Prince Charming in the produce section. But I think we can all agree the odds of those meet-ups are slim and nil. That said, I’m...

Beth Underwood: Some predictions for the Year of the Pig as we celebrate the Chinese New Year

It was real and it was fun, but the Year of the Dog is done, and another Chinese New Year is upon us. Festivities, which began Tuesday, Feb. 5, are in full swing now through Feb. 19. This time around, we’re kicking off the Year off the Pig. That’s right, it’s swine time. When the Chinese New Year is involved, that means it’s time for fireworks and celebratory dinners and little red envelopes...

Beth Underwood: Browsing mom’s stamp collection offers enlightening look at her attention to detail

My mom is a stamp collector. Not a stamp collector in the classic sense of stamp collecting — she doesn’t have hardbound collector’s albums with acid-free sleeves and little stamp tongs — but a stamp collector in the sense that she collects certain stamps for specific mailing purposes. Her collection came to light after a recent Sunday dinner. The dishes had been cleared, everyone was...

Beth Underwood: Forever grateful that high school drama team brought Dr. King’s speech to life

As you know, Monday marked this year’s observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday — and whenever I think about Dr. King, I’m reminded of my high school days. When I was in high school, I was an active member of the Speech and Drama Team. For reasons that escape me, my freshman year strong suit was Analysis of Public Address or APA. I’m guessing the other slots — the fun speech and...

Beth Underwood: Peaceful, quiet morning routine descends into unknown territory of plumbing repairs

I love getting up early to enjoy the peace and quiet of the predawn hours. Just me, alone with my thoughts, while the world around me sleeps. Well except for the cat, who impatiently meows for food from the moment he hears me exit my bedroom. Once he’s taken care of, though, I can settle into my favorite chair with pen, paper and coffee at the ready and enjoy an hour or so of serenity. It’s so...

Beth Underwood: Sunday meal-planning attempt sidelined by plethora of recipe review personalities

Am I the only one who finds online recipe reviews more intriguing than the recipes themselves? From bubbly socialite to resident party-pooper, if you want to decipher a plethora of personalities, all you have to do is read online reviews. I bring this up because I spent far too much time last Sunday trying to come up with a few new meals. In the beginning, I casually glanced through the first few...

Beth Underwood: With ‘grandmotherhood’ just six weeks away, things are about to get real

As you may remember, I’m on the road to grandmotherhood. T-minus six weeks to go until my daughter Hannah’s little bundle of joy arrives. Time flies when you aren’t the one who’s pregnant, and at this stage of the game, things are about to get real. Between you and me, I’m not sure I’m ready. Up until last weekend, I’d have said otherwise. How hard can this whole grandmother thing be,...

Beth Underwood: With the new year right around the corner, it’s time for some much-needed tidying up

Dad has a cord for every occasion. Need an ethernet cable? He’s your man. Looking for an extension cord? Ask Dad. Phone charger on the fritz? Dad can slice and dice you a new one with pieces and parts. He saves up for opportunities like that, because one never knows when a spare electrical cord could come in handy. I guess you could say I come by it honestly. Through the years, I’ve developed...

Beth Underwood: Santa baby, all I want for Christmas is for everyone to stop being so doggone sensitive

Have you heard the recent brouhaha over “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” and the “Baby It’s Cold Outside”? Apparently, anyone can find any reason to be offended by anything these days. Small wonder some people can make it through the grocery without having a nervous breakdown. But I digress… Already. Suffice it to say if Rudolph or Dean Martin offend you, it may be best to...

Beth Underwood: A clean car is worth the anxiety-inducing disco-like atmosphere of the carwash

I love the feeling of leaving the local car wash with a sparkling clean car. It puts a smile on my face and pep in my step the way a new outfit or fresh haircut would. What I dislike is the act of going through the car wash. For something that sounds so simple, it can be tricky business from the get-go. And it begins the instant they motion you to pull ahead when it’s your turn. That’s when the...

Beth Underwood: Now, more than ever, the spirit of Christmas lives on for children and adults alike

Every holiday season, the scrooges of the world seem to grow in number. They talk about how they no longer exchange gifts with their spouse, or what an imposition it is to shop for anyone. Some talk about drawing names for gift exchanges, then whine about the name they draw. Worst of all, a lot of people declare that Christmas is only for the kids. I disagree wholeheartedly. In fact, I’m convinced...

Beth Underwood: Latest book makes navigating the ups and downs of the creative process well worth it

Throughout my career as a writer, I’ve learned that every project has a certain ebb and flow — an “I love what I do/I need a new job” ebb and flow. It’s a cycle that’s both exhilarating and exhausting. If you’ve ever been involved with a creative project of any sort, I’m betting you know what I’m talking about. While the cycle itself may be unavoidable, being aware of the process...

Beth Underwood: This Thanksgiving, let us address the oversized helium-filled elephant in the room

I don’t really like parades. Did I ever tell you that? It’s not that I don’t appreciate a good parade. I do. But unless I’m an active participant or a judge, I find them rather… boring. That’s right. I said it. The Pillsbury Doughboy during his return to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (Photo provided) What’s more, I’ve never fully understood the allure of the Macy’s...

Beth Underwood: Sometimes, somebody has to take charge, but do I have to do everything…

It happened during a routine rerun of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” I was sitting innocently enough in my favorite chair, winding down before bedtime, watching Ray’s mom Marie have a spell. She’d had it up to here (raises hands and draws line above head) with the household state of affairs. With complete exasperation, she asks rhetorically, “Why must I do everything?!?” And that’s when it...

Beth Underwood: Some thoughts on the ‘benefits’ of cold weather as the chill of winter fast approaches

As many of you may remember, winter weather is my nemesis — or at least one of them, ranking right up there with crazy drivers. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw an article promoting the benefits of cold weather. While I wasn’t sure such a crazy claim was possible, I felt the need to investigate — to take issue with these outlandish claims in an unbiased fashion, of course. I suppose...

Beth Underwood: Once the highlight of the breakfast table experience, the cereal box toy is sorely missed

Sometimes I wonder why some things blow right by me without gaining my attention. Do I need to get out more? Possibly. Am I unobservant from time to time? Probably. Regardless — and maybe I’m the last to notice — cereal boxes no longer contain toys. I know. I’m as shocked as you are. What’s worse? Apparently said toys have been absent for at least a couple of years. It’s a crying...