When Helping Feels like a Festival

grapes on the vine

Breathtaking beauty of Mayschoß, before the flooding. Being part of the hope is the best kind of vacation. A Comfortable Way to Help The volunteer effort was so well organized! We were asked if we had lunch with us–we did. Others on our team got a hot meal. Our vintner said that the whole village […]

One Dollar Glasses

girl with a smile wearing one dollar glasses

The other day, I got my first pair of reading glasses. All of a sudden, reading, computers, knitting–even the fine print at the store–is SO much clearer. I’ve had regular glasses since the third grade, so you’d think I wouldn’t be surprised, but it’s easy to forget how much difference a new pair of glasses […]

If we start now, can we IMAGINE a really wonderful, peaceful 2018?

The more I think about it, the more I wonder if we are spending our imaginations in the wrong direction. My husband suggested that it was about time for something really, really good to happen. How about a peaceful reunification of North and South Korea? As a writer of fiction, I know that imagination is […]

Beauty and an Escape from Death

People look beautiful and shiny to me just now. When I look at families pushing baby strollers or see young couples deciding how to spend their money in the grocery store, or older couples making careful choices, I’m struck with how “temporary” they  look. A little more than a week ago, I almost lost my […]

Life’s soundtrack should be big: Rossini Opera Festival makes a splash

The Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Italy was over the top! I love watching live orchestras and this one had 5 string basses. 🙂 And the audience was as fun to watch as the opera! I didn’t expect a fashion event. Of course people are well dressed at a fancy cultural event, but there was so […]

Forgiving yourself for what you did “on purpose”

Whack! The little girl smacked her tiny rainbow umbrella down on the restaurant’s marble table with an unexpectedly loud crack. No one was hurt; nothing was damaged–or even knocked over–but her eyes widened in horror. “But I did it on purpose!” A storm of tears followed and she hid her face against her mother. I […]

The Good Earth: International Gardens

A landmark. The day before yesterday, I was given my first garden plot since we moved to Germany. Turning over the soil stirred up surprising feelings. It’s an International Garden so the invitation was in German and in Arabic. My fellow gardeners are from Egypt, Eritrea, Afghanistan, and Germany. People were talking about melons, chilis, […]

Hero at the Bus Stop

This year, my husband gave me a Page-a-Day calendar to learn Italian. Today’s page was a dialogue between two men at a bus stop, getting ready to go to work. One said his boss was nicer than his colleagues. The other said his colleagues were nicer than his boss. [*cough* We’re learning vocabulary here. Cut […]

Peace on Earth, Good Will to You All!

A year ago, I wrote about our “rastafarian” Joseph and the challenges of writing about other people’s cultures: Skin-colored Felt: Doing other people’s cultures wrong. It feels like we’ve gone backwards in trying to understand each other this year. Our rastafarian Joseph still leans to one side. (He still needs that navy bean transfusion.) Our […]

Writing Gratitude Countdown (5): The Gift of a Deadline

This is the fifth post in my Writing Gratitude Countdown. I keep finding more things to appreciate about the writing life. It’s sometimes easier to be gentler with other writers than with yourself. But being hard on yourself for too long dries up the words. Gratitude is a wonderful oasis from ambition. Gratitude also seems […]