New Year’s Eve in Timbuktu

Dec. 31, 1996-Jan. 1, 1997 In Timbuktu, the world is sand. The streets are sand, the houses are sand, the hills beyond are sand. Timbuktu is ancient; it rose from the sand, the sand has taken the place of time. In the twilight, Timbuktu seems as though it could sink again into sand. I walk in … read more New Year’s Eve in Timbuktu

Leaving Fiji

Nov. 1, 1996 – Suva, Fiji The latest issue of the Africa-Carribean-Pacific magazine, The Courier, had country profiles of Mali and Western Samoa. The photos of those buildings in Mali fascinated me, I can’t wait to see them in person – unearthly, built by another species. So many things transcend time and space. And yet … read more Leaving Fiji

Big and beautiful

The land came to us in waves of mountains, crests of forests, embracing us as we moved across it. I drove and drove and drove. More than eight hours of driving, through North Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and finally Virginia, to the place where Tom’s birth parents met. Although we were on interstate freeways, the … read more Big and beautiful

Escape from Cleveland

On my trips to the 1st floor at University Hospitals, I looked out at this stone sculpture. It danced even in pieces. From some angles it flew. From other angles it seemed to be falling apart. Like Cleveland. We didn’t really want to stay in Cleveland for Tom’s in-patient rehab of two to four weeks. I’m from Ohio, I … read more Escape from Cleveland


There’s nothing like doing market research on a book to make you feel that you’re not so special. Hundreds of thousands of books are published every year in America. The top nonfiction sellers mostly are written by people who are already famous – actresses, comedians, CEOs and mainstream media investigative reporters. I’m not famous, not … read more Self-doubt

The sabra: From Hanoi to Jerusalem

In October 1993, I had given up on men. I was still recovering from the break-up of a long and disastrously passionate relationship that spring. Summer brought a series of brief mismatches and a suicidal bout of depression. On top of Hua Shan in northern China that October, I stood exhausted from a grueling climb … read more The sabra: From Hanoi to Jerusalem

Where do ideas come from?

In fused-glass class today, one of the other students asked the instructor, “Where do you get ideas for projects and patterns?” I had to zip my mouth to stop from saying, “Where do you NOT get ideas?” For me the problem is “Where do I get the time to carry out all the ideas I have already?” … read more Where do ideas come from?

Day 89: A place on Mars

In The Martian, Matt Damon is stuck on Mars farming potatoes. I seriously envied him. You may recognize the landscape of this movie from Lawrence of Arabia – or from other movies about Mars, as well as another movie by Ridley Scott, Prometheus. And if you’ve been there, you know that reddish rock cannot be any place other than Wadi Rum, in … read more Day 89: A place on Mars

Day 68: Stars aligned

I have a map of Germany with yellow stars, marking the stops of a trip for next spring. The stars do not mark tourist attractions. None of the names would be familiar to anyone outside the region: Kulsheim, Merdingen, Weisenheim, Dornberg… Until today, those towns were just words on a spreadsheet, matched up with names … read more Day 68: Stars aligned