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Maggie Van Ostrand's
"A Balloon In Cactus"

Maggie Van Ostrand's humor has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, various magazines, and appears monthly in the Mexican publication, El Ojo Del Lago.

Email: maggie@maggievanostrand.com
Website: http://www.maggievanostrand.com
Maggie Van Ostrand

Humor, Opinion & Mexico
Texas & Legends

Humor, Opinion
& Mexico

  • Happy Mother's Day to All You Beautiful Rescue Moms 5-12-23

  • How Much Is Enough? 2-17-22

  • 'Twas the Night Before Christmas 12-23-20
  • A letter From Santa 12-22-20
  • Redhead in the Time of Covid 8-5-20
  • Your Inner Dog 5-21-20
  • Woof! 5-8-20

  • Andy Rooney and Me 1-8-19

  • New Year's Day 12-24-18
  • Two Kinds of Christmas 12-13-18
  • Butterball Bartlet 11-20-18
  • Who Killed Cock Robin? 10-8-18
  • What Do Women Want? Don't Ask Freud, Ask a Woman 9-25-18
  • Love Never Dies - The Rainbow Is a Two-Way Bridge 8-14-18
  • Full Disclosure: The RV Caper 7-2-18
  • Crushin' on Flo, That Girl in the Progressive Insurance Commercials 6-1-18
  • An Overdue Mother's Day Gift Of Amends 5-10-18
  • Erma Bombeck 4-23-18
  • George Washington, Richard Pryor, and Harry S. Truman 2-18-18
  • Six Degrees of Separation: "It's A Wonderful Life" 1-5-18
  • "What I Want For Christmas" 12-22-17
  • Count Your Nuts: How We Are Being Cheated At The Grocery Store 8-14-17
  • Mother's Day: Make It Count 5-9-17
  • Best Pictures That Never Won Best Picture Oscar 2-24-17
  • Agida 2-17-17

  • The Songs of Christmas 12-16-16
  • Guilted Into Giving? Charity Checkmate 12-10-16
  • Jupiter and Juno: Together Again for the First Time 7-9-16
  • Branding Hillary: The Optic Downs of Campaigning 5-26-16

  • Trump keeps Claus out 12-7-15
  • Gravity Sucks: Hollywood's Answer To a Face in Free Fall 7-10-15
  • Love, and How To Say It 2-13-15
  • The Green Carpet 1-16-15
  • Cheers! 1-1-15

  • A Higher Calling 12-19-14
  • The Doctor Will See You Now 11-20-14
  • Waiter, Bring Me an Order of Gluten and a Large Glass of Lactose 9-17-14
  • Shrinking the News 8-19-14
  • 10 Classic Mean Movie Mothers 5-9-14
  • Peeps: A Tale for Kids 4-18-14
  • I Hate Valentine's Day 2-14-14
  • Birds of Prey versus Birds of Pray 1-28-14
  • Envelope Season 1-22-14

  • Frankincense, Myrrh, and Tom Swift's Electric Rifle 12-8-13
  • Ghosts, Ghouls, Goblins, and other G Spots 10-25-13
  • America's Reset Button 9-7-13
  • Hey SCOTUS, Donít Stop at Same Sex Marriage 4-1-13
  • Unfriending FaceBook, or, I Donít Want to Smell like Brad Pitt 3-15-13
  • The Lady in the Parking Lot 1-5-13

  • Lame Christmas Gifts: It Is Harder to Receive Than to Give 12-30-12
  • Is Santa Legal In Arizona? 12-7-12
  • Have Ashes, Will Travel 11-20-12
  • To Tweet or Not to Tweet: That is the Question 8-19-12
  • The Makeup Drawer 8-6-12
  • "What's That Hanging Out of Your Nose?" and Other Stupid Questions 5-29-12
  • Mother 5-5-12
  • Cooking With Scissors 2-20-12
  • Super Bowl for Women 2-9-12

  • Politically Indirect, or, the True Meaning of the Word Humbug 12-23-11
  • The Dog Days of Summer 7-10-11
  • What Do You Want For Your Birthday? Or, It Won't Be What You Asked For 5-20-11
  • Royal Wedding Questions 5-2-11
  • Top 10 Federal Budget Savings Ideas 2-23-11
  • How to Deal With a Contractor If You're a Single Woman 2-9-11

  • New Yearís Non-Resolutions 12-29-10
  • Christmas Shopping 12-20-10
  • CPR and JOSEFINA 10-22-10
  • Larry O'Donnell's Apology 10-10-10
  • Big Corporations, Little Ripoffs 4-12-10
  • Bosom Buddy 3-7-10
  • Red China Turns U.S.A. Pink 2-8-10
  • The Art of Barbering 1-21-10
  • Mexicoís Gift to Opera, Rolando Villazůn 1-2-10

  • The Art of Re-Gifting 12-19-09
  • The Crookedest Christmas Tree 11-21-09
  • Why Canít Congress Be More Like a Dog?10-7-09
  • Get Shorty 8-13-09
  • Alfred Hitchcock: Can You Spot Him? 7-27-09
  • You Got To Know When To Fold ĎEm 7-3-09
  • Common Scents: Why Brides Carry Bouquets 6-1-09
  • Six Degrees of Separation, or, How a Mexican Star Became a Cajun Legend 5-6-09
  • Cejas and the Great Escape 3-12-09
  • Juanita and the President 2-8-09
  • From Conspicuous Consumption to Conspicuous Frugality 1-8-09

  • Apologies Instead of Resolutions 12-8-08
  • Nothing to Fear But Thanksgiving 11-7-08
  • Ways to Save 9-17-08
  • English, and How She is Spoken 9-3-08
  • What You Don't Know About Mexico 7-17-08
  • Cuddling With Your Enemies 6-9-08
  • Turning into Mom 5-8-08
  • Everybody's Scared of Something 4-7-08
  • Stars Shine in Sunny Mexico 3-6-08
  • Honeybees: Have They Emigrated to Mexico? 2-14-08
  • Joaquin Murrieta, Robin Hood or Just Plain Hood? 1-5-08

  • A Blue Christmas 12-13-07
  • The Christmas Flower 12-3-07
  • Christmas Shopping With The Sliding U.S. Dollar 11-10-07
  • In A Word ... 10-5-07
  • "Yes Virginia, There Is Another Mexico" 9-12-07
  • Dear Uncle Sam 7-16-07
  • The Fence 7-6-07
  • The God Talk 6-4-07
  • Say Bartender, Make Mine Tuna on the Rocks 5-25-07
  • The Fighting 201st 5-11-07
  • Bad Mothers 5-11-07
  • Erotic Politicians Promote Sex Abstinence Studies 4-26-07
  • Law School in a Box 4-13-07
  • Brando 4-3-07
  • Blonde 3-27-07
  • The Red Carpet 2-18-07
  • Jack Bauer 2-16-07
  • Super Bowl 2007 2-7-07
  • The Corn is as High as an Elephant's Eye 1-29-07
  • Bionic Woman or Jack Bauer 1-23-07
  • Guilt 1-8-07

  • New Year's Resolutions 2007 12-28-06
  • Deporting Santa Claus 12-19-06
  • Christmas Shopping 12-13-06
  • Rachael Bites Into Martha 12-10-06
  • The Night the Posse Chased Santa 12-1-06
  • The Day After 11-24-06
  • Fear of Thanksgiving 11-19-06
  • Being Santa 11-10-06
  • Scarier Than Halloween 10-31-06
  • The Undead 10-10-06
  • The Mexican 10-7-06
  • Friday the 13th 10-4-06
  • The Height of Celebrity 9-28-06
  • True Confessions 9-13-06
  • Women of the News 9-7-06
  • Pluto 9-1-06
  • Cesar Millan and Rachael Ray: America's Great Escape Artists 6-20-06
  • Baby TV 6-1-06
  • Dying to Be An American 5-8-06
  • Super Comic, Super Star, Super Man 4-28-06
  • How My Mexican Relatives Saved the U.S. Economy 4-13-06
  • The Art of Listening 4-8-06
  • Emilio FernŠndez, Ten of a Kind 3-23-06
  • Daddy, Tell Me A Story 3-14-06
  • Oscar Moms 3-7-06
  • Oscar 3-7-06
  • Voice Lift 2-14-06
  • Don Churrero 2-2-06

  • Interview with Baby New Year 12-28-05
  • Christmas Past 12-5-05
  • Thanksgiving and the Little Table 11-23-05
  • The Mallomar 11-10-05
  • A History of Mexico in 2000 Words 11-7-05
  • TV Corpses at Halloween 10-30-05
  • Dead Men Don't Talk, But Dead Women Do 10-22-05
    Frida Kahlo, and Her Recipes
  • Movies 10-10-05
  • Same Sex Marriage? 10-1-05
  • When Money Talks, Martha Listens 9-19-05
  • Looking for Charley 9-12-05
  • Paparazzi 8-29-05
  • Three 8-20-05
  • Appearing Rich 7-9-05
  • Weirdo Father of the Year 6-16-05
  • Shrewd Mexican Women 6-15-05
  • What's In A Name? Plenty 6-6-05
  • Barbara Walters Does Cleopatra 5-15-05
  • Mexican-American War of Ought-Five 5-3-05
  • The Pig Book 4-20-05
  • Superman Is An Illegal, or, Humor and Satire in the Corrido 4-5-05
  • Fry Me to the Moon 3-8-05
  • Cher, Au Contraire 3-1-05
  • Mexican Beauty: Dolores del Rio 2-16-05
  • Well done, Johnny 1-25-05
  • Harvard Strangles First Amendment 1-25-05
    ... and what women really want
  • Ninotchka 1-21-05
  • New Year's Resolutions 1-1-05

  • The Truth About Rudolph 12-8-04
  • Las Posadas 12-1-04
    Las Posadas is still observed in Mexico...."
  • Fear of Hair 11-24-04
  • Got Flu? Try A Sock Full of Onions 10-29-04
  • Scents and Sensibility 10-15-04
  • The Pinking of America 9-28-04
  • Man Stores 9-1-04
  • A Prudent Use of Guilt 8-3-04
  • Brando 7-19-04
    "Quit following me around. It's getting embarrassing,"
  • Networking For The Disinclined 7-12-04
  • Old Friends Ask About Mexico 7-11-04
    "What's it like in Mexico?" "Weren't you scared?" and "Don't they kidnap you there?" In case anyone reading this publication is wondering the same things, here's what I told my friends ...
  • The Biggest Mistake I Ever Made In Mexico 6-9-04
  • Stuff To Do in Small Towns 5-5-04
  • When Traveling in Mexico, Leave Your Pantyhose At Home 4-21-04
    "Your money's no good in Mexico."
  • Mexican Eye For the Gringo Guy 3-7-04
  • There's Something About Mexico 2-20-04
  • El Taxi, or El Toro? 1-20-04
    Hemingway said there are two types of spectators at a bullfight: those who identify with the bull, and those who identify with the matador.
  • The Roger Miller Las Vegas Pawn Shop Shooting 1-20-04

  • Roger Miller 12-27-03
    Quotes, and anecdotes of Roger Miller and friends.
  • The Ten Years Are Up.
    It's Time to Clean the Refrigerator


  • Day of the Dead or Alive 10-21-03
  • Are There Terrorists in Our Town? 9-29-03
  • Where did the word "gringo" come from anyway? 9-03
  • God and Botox 8-03
  • Meant for Each Other 8-03
  • Put Yourself In Reverse 7-03
  • Mrs. Baldwin of Missouri Teaches All About Mexico
  • Josefina, A Woman of Mexico
  • Mextra-Sensory Perception
  • "The Trip" - Guanajuato, Mexico
  • Accommodations To Die For
  • Trolling for Truth
    "What parent in his right mind would give a 6-year-old a hatchet?"
  • Broken Berlitz Or English and how she is spoken
  • An Evening In Paris With Mom
  • Nine Steps To A Happy Life In Mexico
  • Mexican Village
  • The Day I Photographed Josefina's Family

  • Texas & Legends

  • The Pithy Tale of Owney, the Post Office Pup 8-20-11
    Owney was a muttly terrier who rose from the ranks of the homeless to celebrity status with his image on the newly issued U.S. Forever postage stamp. His life was that of a courageous 19th-Century pioneer pup, fighting the odds, if not the Indians...

  • The Misadventures of Wrong-Way Corrigan 3-9-11
    "Even when a Texan is wrong, he is right."
    It may have been the wrong way, but it was his way.

  • The Duke of Texas 12-14-10
    John Wayne may have been born in Iowa, but he was a Texan just the same...

  • CaraCara Means More Than FaceFace 9-17-10
    The United States Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects Crested Caracaras as an endangered species, even though these big birds only visit Arizona, Florida, and Texas... However, in Mexico, where Caracaras have the exalted title of National Bird, humans sometimes eat them. Go figure."

  • The Brownsville-Metamoros Ferry 6-19-10
    The ferry was an efficient means of transportation between the U.S. and Mexico for 110 years, but in 1929, it took its last trip across the Rio Grande.

  • Zapata 10-22-09
    Here, greatly edited for space, are bits of the 1916 interview of Zapata by reporter Guillermo Ojara, sent by his paper, El Democrata of Mexico City...

  • A Confederate Soldier in Texas: Full Metal Corset 6-18-09

  • The Seabiscuit Stamp: How It Came To Be 3-23-09
    On May 11th, a 44-cent rate-change stamp featuring the great thoroughbred racehorse, Seabiscuit, will be issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

  • Miss Lockhart and the Comanches 2-16-09
    Any time, dear reader, you feel your lot in life is not quite what you had in mind, compare it to that of Miss Matilda Lockhart...

  • A Modern-Day Ferry Tale 12-13-08

  • The Hairy Man of Round Rock 10-1-08

  • La Llorona: Does She Seek Your Children? 8-10-08

  • The Story of Indianola 6-30-08

  • Great Aunt Jane's Pair of Scares 6-12-08

  • The Widow Tamez, Accidental Expatriate 5-9-08
    This brush-covered area became known as a no-man's land because Mexican lawmen didn't want to cross the River and be cut off, and Texas lawmen had no legal jurisdiction there. It was perfect for outlaws from both countries...

  • Cherokee Bill: Don't Get Him Mad 3-27-08

  • Annie Rogers and the Bank Dick 2-3-08

  • Luke Short, The Undertakers' Friend 12-20-07
    December 23rd marks the 117th anniversary of Luke Short's last great gunfight. It was a shoot out with Charlie Wright at Charlie's gambling den in Ft. Worth...

  • Eyewitness 10-31-07
    He was selling newspapers at Ford's Theatre on the night of April 14, 1865...

  • Fannie Porter of San Antonio 9-25-07
    The Old West heroes or desperadoes didn't fight, shoot, and rustle all the time. They needed rest. They needed relaxation. They needed love. And Fannie Porter of San Antonio supplied these diversions. This is her story.

  • Sally Skull, the Scariest Siren in Texas 9-1-07
    Some say Sally didn't always wait to get a divorce, and perhaps took the easy way out. She killed them...

  • The Harrowing Life and Times of Elizabeth Ann Bishop 8-15-07
    One of the Texas frontier women who taught the wilderness to quit howling and behave itself was Elizabeth Ann Bishop. What she endured is testament to the strength of frontier women...

  • Lottie Deno: Queen of the Paste Board Flippers 8-3-07
    Cowboys and longhorns, soldiers and forts, Comanche, the buffalo trade, 18 saloons, and an abundance of "soiled doves" were the sights greeting beautiful Lottie Deno as she rode into Ft. Griffin Flat from Jacksboro, sitting next to the driver atop the stage coach.

  • Powers of Texas 6-17-07

  • Belle Starr The Bandit Queen 2-1-07

  • Kim Stanley: Daughter of Texas 11-4-06

  • Strap Buckner: The Tallest of Tall Texas Tales 8-16-06

  • Katie Elder: Her True Story 5-26-06
    "[Her] background was perhaps more plaid than checkered."

  • The Big Bend Then 2-27-06

  • Texas: Into the Future and Into the Past 7-30-05
    Where in Texas can you bypass summer's deadly heat, avoid Transylvanian mosquitoes, and never feel the sting of a bee?

  • Naked Came The Amarillan 6-26-04
    I love Amarillo ... I never met so many good lookin', boot-wearin', city-shunnin', plain-talkin', fellas in my entire life as I did a few weeks back when I visited The Fair And Totally Underrated City of Amarillo In The County of Potter in the Republic of Texas.

  • "Soft-Boiled Eggs Of Texas"

  • Biography
    Maggie Van Ostrand was almost born and raised in Manhattan, but hey, Queens is still inside the City line.

    She started writing when she was very young, but ran into a barrier of parental discouragement. She didn't pick up a pen again until they were both so old, they could no longer argue convincingly without falling off their walkers.

    Queens College remembers Jerry Seinfeld, so surely it will remember Maggie. Then again, maybe not.

    While traveling as a roadie in the music business, she co-wrote "Home Is Where the Hurt Is" with Grammy- and Tony-winning humorist, Roger Miller. She was head writer for Mark Goodson's quiz show, "Trivia Trap," and has ghost-written for television sitcom writers and stand-up comics.

    In 1995, she began a humor column, which garnered many awards. Readers cut out her columns and stuck them on their refrigerators. Thanks to loyal fans mailing these clips to big time newspapers (do you know how expensive it is to mail a refrigerator?), she became a regular contributor to the Chicago Tribune, and has been published in the Boston Globe, Newsday, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Sun-Sentinel, and other major newspapers and magazines both online and in print.

    Sheís a member of Erma Bombeck Humor Writers, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and Society of Women Writers & Journalists. Her proudest achievement was winning the Pullet Surprise from texasescapes.com.

    Maggie has lived in many wonderful places; her favorites are New York, Boston, Chicago, El Paso, and Taos.

    Maggie Van Ostrand spends her writing time between Ajijic, Mexico and Pine Mountain, California, each with a population smaller than Al Pacino. Since she has been accused of having a split personality, itís simple for her to live in two places at once.

    December 2009

    More Columns | Mexico | Texas
    Popular Columns
    by Maggie Van Ostrand:

  • Katie Elder: Her True Story
  • Kate Elder and Doc Holliday
  • Katie Elder: Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
  • Miss Lockhart and the Comanches
  • The Story of Indianola
  • Belle Starr The Bandit Queen
  • Lottie Deno: Queen of the Paste Board Flippers
  • Fannie Porter of San Antonio
  • A Confederate Soldier in Texas: Full Metal Corset
  • Annie Rogers and the Bank Dick
  • An Overdue Mother's Day Gift Of Amends
  • The Height of Celebrity







































































































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