Saturday, August 16, 2014


My honey giving a talk in Indiana today on his book of motorcycling stories! My book, whenever it comes out, won't ever be this interesting to strangers! :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Home, sweet home

Back home after my short Puerto Rican adventure, I'm counting down the days until school begins again (August 28) and enjoying these unscripted days of summer. Starting a week day (not just a Sunday) with my husband's buttermilk biscuits, accompanied by the Tupelo honey that a friend suggested I try in Savannah and which is now my favorite, has been a summer perk for me.

Crazy Hamlet, looking like he's "playing possum" and Chiquita, following me to the basement when I do laundry and waiting, patiently, for me to return upstairs, have been some of the highlights of these fast-ending August days.

It was dark today by 9 p.m., when we walked Lizzy, and it was sad to realize that the days are already getting shorter. Nothing good lasts forever, it's true. But while memory can do its job, there is an eternity in remembrance.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Puerto Rico time

This past week I flew to Puerto Rico to attend a literature seminar at the Universidad del Turabo, where my mom works as coordinator for the reading room created in her and my dad's honor. The lovely room contains many of the books my dad read and owned, and many of my mom's, too, and it's an ideal place to gather to think about and to enjoy literature. I decided to go because the person who gave the seminar, Mercedes López Baralt, is one of the most renowned scholars on the island and I just couldn't miss the chance to take a two-day class with her! And I wasn't disappointed. It was a great experience and I feel so privileged to be part of such an amazing group, led by my mom, of Puerto Rican professors at the UT.

Not only was the seminar terrific but the campus of the UT is a lovely place, including this glorious ceiba, native to the island, one of the few that remains.

My mom gave out certificates of participation and I got one, too!

My mom and I went to Bebo's for dinner, in Santurce, a place that specializes in Puerto Rican food. I was able to order a scrumptious salmorejo de jueyes with tostones de pana, my favorites! And we capped it all with the best flan de coco I've ever had. Bebo's has definitely become a "must eat there" kind of place when we go to the island.

This is the time of year when the flamboyanes and the trinitarias are at their most glorious and they were a delight to the eyes.


This is a short video I took of the Puerto Rican night, serenaded by our tiny coquíes, the tree frogs that make island nights so different from anywhere else in the world.

It was a short trip, only four days, two of which I spent at the seminar. Saturday I got to reconnect with an old college friend I hadn't seen in 14 years. That was rather bittersweet because while he was very important to me during my college years and was a true and supportive friend, he didn't remember any of the stories I told him of what a good friend he was to me. It's one of those lessons in life when you realize that someone may mean a lot to you but you may not even register in their (long term) radar. 
And that's perfectly alright. 

Then on Sunday, I was up before dawn to catch a flight back home. No matter how much I enjoy being away, returning to Ohio, to my beloved husband and furry children, is always the best part of leaving.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Fun time at the State Fair

The Ohio State Fair is a must-do for me every year. This time around, I dragged my husband, who had never been at this particular fair before, and who went only to please me. Yes, he's that kind of a good guy. It's no wonder we've been married 20+ years. As we entered, this huge, organ-looking thing very appropriately welcomed us with fair music.

I'm like a kid in a candy store when I'm at the fair (I guess I regress to my childhood), so I insisted that we visit the Budweiser tent to see the gorgeous Clydesdales and their dog. This Budweiser Superbowl commercial from 2012 always make me cry tears of joy at the end...

From then it was on to the railway exhibit, to see some of the livestock, including the judging of prize-winning steers, and the famous butter cow, my favorite.

A rainstorm prevented us from staying at the fair too long but I was quite content. Now I can look forward to next year and, hopefully for my husband, I'll find someone else to go with next time. :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Farewell, July!

I've changed the look of the blog after my youngest nephew, Diego, informed me that he found the aesthetics of the blog to be rather wanting. Pretty much in those very polite but firm words. He disliked the black background most of all. Thus, taking his feedback to heart, I've changed the colors to something I hope is at least a little brighter.

As July ticks on toward its sad end, I'm profoundly grateful for having had such a restful time, a true break, this month. And for having felt so well physically after a year of struggle on the heart front. In addition to joining a gym and doing some light stationary bicycling (added to my two walks with Lizzy each day), I've managed to read several books just for fun. These include current "bestsellers," like The Vacationers, The Hundred Year House, and Bliss House, which I'm almost done with. It's been great fun reading not-for-work. On audiobook, I've listened to The Husband's Secret, Mrs. Poe, Still Life with Breadcrumbs, and started on The Good Lord Bird, which is making me laugh out loud. For more serious work, I'm also reading In Cold Blood for the first time, and re-reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, both of which I'll be teaching in my new journalism class this fall.

I've taken to heart (so to speak) the realization that unscripted time is a rare privilege to be treasured. I know and hear and read about so many people whose busy-ness is like a compulsion so that they can't (or don't want to) stop long enough to think or ponder or consider. I'll never forget a friend at Harvard in the 1970s who told of his grandfather, an elevator operator in NYC, who never had any time off until he retired in his old age. July, with its blank-slated time, has been a blessing for me and I am deeply grateful that I've been able to enjoy it fully. Once we round the corner into August prepping for the semester and finishing scholarly projects will be the priority.

Just for fun, a work friend sent me a lovely tiara after I mentioned that I'd admired the ones that Princess Diana had during my recent visit to Cincinnati. Now I have my own tiara. "Don't encourage her!" another friend said on FB. Well, it's too late for that. :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July, how do I love thee?

July has been a fantastic month so far. In addition to the lovely anniversary trip to Kentucky with my husband, this past weekend my dearest friend K and I drove down to Cincinnati to visit with T, one of our favorite people and oldest friends. We were all together at OSU back in the day. We had a lovely lunch at Melt, which is a fantastic place we love, and then we headed to the Cincinnati Museum to the Princess Diana exhibit.

Though none of us is a "royalist," by any stretch of the imagination, we loved the fancy dresses and shoes and tiaras. The exhibit's "narrative" is interesting, too, because, as K so aptly noted, we go from Princess Diana's birth to her marriage to her being a "single" woman to her death. No mention at all of her divorce and little mention of her sons.

I shared my memory of how, on the night Princess Diana was killed in that terrible accident, I had been on the city desk at the newspaper I worked for in Puerto Rico. I was already home when I turned the TV on and saw the story about the accident. I remember calling the late night editor to make sure we didn't go to press until we had the story on the front page. (Our newspaper already had the dubious distinction of having totally missed the story of the fall of the Soviet Union, likely being the one newspaper in the world whose front page the next day didn't have that story.) Even though I was just the local news city editor, on that night I knew we had to make darned sure we didn't make the same mistake and definitely not under my watch. So that's a night I won't readily forget.

July's greatest gift has been the unscripted time I've been able to enjoy. I am working on my research projects, especially on reconceptualizing the book manuscript, and have started to get organized for the fall semester, which will begin in about a month's time. But I've had what feels like oodles of open time to read for fun, to work out at the gym, and to take the occasional nap, when I get tired. Health wise, I've been doing great, even after stopping one of the two heart meds I was taking a week or so ago. So far, all is more than good. And July isn't even over! Hail to July!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

20th anniversary!

Our 20th anniversary began early on July 4th when we went to my in-laws' lovely hill in West Virginia to visit them and my husband's sister and nephews, and were surprised by a cake and a celebration. That definitely set the tone for what was one of the best anniversaries we've ever had.

On Saturday, we packed up the car and started the drive to Kentucky, where we'd decided to spend our actual anniversary since I'd never been to the state or seen the horse farms or been to a bourbon distillery. I'd heard my husband talk about them after he did a motorcycle tour of three distilleries 13 years ago and this was an easy trip to a different place that promised to be enjoyable. And it didn't disappoint.

In researching for places to stay during our visit to Bourbon Country, I stumbled upon the 1851 Maple Hill Manor B&B, which came highly recommended. I'm often wary of Trip Advisor recommendations since we've had some not-so-good experiences with places highly rated on that site and I heard a story on NPR about how their reviews aren't always true. But we decided to try it and were really happy we did.

The inn, on top of a hill near Springfield, KY, is an alpaca and llama farm, with spacious rooms (we stayed in the Clara Barton Room) and a slow-paced feel that was just what the doctor ordered. The breakfasts were superb, with the "eggs in a basket" were particularly memorable and, unlike in the link, the eggs inside were perfectly fluffy and scrambled. The rambling property invited strolling, taking time to wait for the sunset, and petting the two friendly cats who became our shadows each time we went outside to enjoy the glorious weather and the large patio, which invited us to sit and read and chat and simply be. I decided to take advantage of their call-in masseuse and got a 30-minute neck, shoulders, hands, and feet massage that left me feeling more relaxed than I've felt this entire year. What a treat!

Another highlight of the trip was our visit to the Maker's Mark Bourbon Distillery, where we saw the whole process, from the "white dog" liquor produced from the fermented (yuck) grains to the finished product, which was provided at tour's end in a tasting. I don't like bourbon so I passed but my husband was able to fully enjoy that part of the tour.

We also went to the Lincoln Birthplace National Park and it was truly impressive to see a replica of the famous log house preserved in what is basically a mausoleum. On our last day, and on the recommendation of another couple we met at the inn, we went to a famous independent bookstore in Lexington, KY: Joseph Beth Booksellers.

I love these three-day trips since they're not long enough to trigger my "I miss my house!" reaction. It was truly a special anniversary. Now we're thinking, thanks to my sister-in-law's idea, that maybe for our 25th we ought to return to Puerto Rico, to the place we were married in Guánica. Stay posted.