Book Report: Names for the Sea

I took a picture of my own copy because I like the American cover much better than the original, not least because I know where to stand to get this shot of Tjornin.

I took a picture of my own copy because I like the American cover much better than the original, not least because I know where to stand to get this shot of Tjornin.

People read travel stories about places they have never been in order to vicariously experience a trip they could never take themselves, or else as a form of research for trips to places they might someday go. I’m not sure if it is as common to read travel books about places you have already been, but I like to do it. It’s a weird combination of vicarious adventure, excitement over shared experience, and a bit of schadenfreude as the reader gloats over any of the author’s mistakes the reader avoided. Continue reading

Tour of the Artists’ Home

Remove before entering shower.

Remove before entering shower.

One recent morning as I was second-guessing a paragraph for an article I was about to turn in, I stepped into the shower, and my glasses fogged up. ‘Good grief,’ I thought to myself as I dropped my glasses into the bathroom sink where it was relatively drier, ‘I’m turning into one of those absent-minded professor dads from the Disney movies.’ Continue reading

A Blog Hop of Her Own

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESNot long ago, my friend Jennie Locati invited me to participate in a “blog hop.” I’ve been friends with Jennie for longer than I care to remember, but we lost touch for many years. When we finally reconnected, I was pleased to discover that she is still as smart and interesting as I remembered. I’ve tweeted and reblogged several of her WYS Words posts before, because she often has valuable things to say on topics I like to talk about.

I was honored to be invited to join her blog hop, and being included sent my page views through the roof (to quote the WordPress alert message). Jennie’s blog hop was such a positive experience that I decided to keep it going, although it pained my introverted rejection-phobic heart to do it. Continue reading

Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWhen I moved to Seattle, one of the first things everyone said to me was, “Oh, you’ll be so close to Victoria, you can see Butchart Gardens.” But Seattle has plenty of distractions, and I seldom had the time to head up to Canada; when I had the time, I didn’t have the money; when I had time and money it was winter, and before I knew it I had lived in the Pacific Northwest for 20 years and never been to Victoria. When I finally corrected that situation in June, Butchart Gardens was my first priority. Continue reading

The Pongal’s Over

pongalcowBefore there were blogs, I spent a quarter studying sustainable development in southern India. I maintained an email distribution list of friends who wanted updates on my travels. Many nights involved entertainments of the herbal or alcoholic kind; there were roof-top full-moon parties and midnight swims in the ocean (the garbage floating there was harder to see in the moonlight); some evenings were spent on planting plans and composting toilet design. But occasionally, I sat down at a computer and wrote about my adventures. This is the continuation of one of those stories, in which I celebrated the Tamil holiday, Pongal.

Continue reading

Book Report: The Orenda

OrendacoverWhen Joseph Boyden’s latest book, The Orenda, finally became available in the U.S., I read it that week. But I haven’t written about it until now, because I didn’t know what to say. It was a hard book to read, and even harder to process. Continue reading