Prairie’s allure lights my fire

There aren’t many places in the world where cowboys on horseback hand 200 people matches and tell them to light them and throw them into tall, dry grass. We burned off one pasture in the daylight, ate a steak dinner and listened to live bluegrass music before setting fire to a much larger area after sundown.

Music makes my world go ’round

I use music like medicine, coffee or alcohol to induce good vibrations or calm the spinning wheel in my brain. I have always been sensitive to music’s mood-altering power. As a teen I sometimes left a party for no other reason than the music was interfering with my state of mind.

It takes a drive and a hike to keep in touch with my off-the-grid friend

Visiting my friend Carole Brown is always a two-way surprise party: Carole lives without a phone or computer, so she never knows I’m coming, and I never know if she’s going to be home. That wouldn’t be a big deal if she were a neighbor in my adopted rural town of Matfield Green, Kan., in the Flint Hills. But Carole lives on remote rangeland several miles outside of town.

To me, moving to the country is not courageous, just fun

Since moving from the Country Club Plaza to a small town in the Flint Hills of Kansas, friends and strangers alike keep trying to label me courageous. I feel the need as a public service to set the record straight, lest people draw the wrong conclusions and apply them with tragic results to their own lives.

Small-town America is big on perks and trust

I have always found, in the city and the country, that mom-and-pop businesses are much more competitive in price than you might think, especially when you throw in the no-charge extras. Unlike in Kansas City, I know the UPS guy in my town by name.

Let 2014 be the year we start accepting atheists

In the same way that 2013 saw a tidal shift in attitudes toward gays in America, 2014 portends a wave of acceptance for one of the few remaining groups people feel justified in disrespecting: atheists. It’s time atheists are accorded the same respect as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians.