Today I’m thinking of all those who “mother” — beyond those who have born biological children. Think Mother Teresa, for example, or Mother Ann Lee, the founder of the Shakers, known for their communal living and celibacy in the 18th and 19th centuries. Consider also the works of Irena Sendler, biologically childless, but celebrated in…

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Pasquetta–one Italian spring tradition I wish we could import to the US–blurs sometimes into another holiday, Liberation Day. Pasquetta, or “Little Easter” (since Easter is Pasqua), follows on the heels of Sunday’s colomba, Easter sweet bread with almonds, and gigantic, cellophane-wrapped chocolate eggs. Pasquetta engages Italians with Monday outings to the countryside, where the renewal…

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Emeralds in a sea of sapphire—gems among gemstones—to a romantic dreamer. To those who have removed the rose-colored glasses, perhaps they emerge more like mounds of painted paper–mâché, conjuring memories of childhood social studies projects.  Or maybe other memories come into focus—the 1970s TV drama Fantasy Island, where Ricardo Montalban welcomed guests seeking secret desires. For one who lives most days in a…

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Mary Taylor Simeti’s memoir of Sicily as an American expat will not be for everyone. But if you like poetic prose, peppered with references to classical Greece –think, Persephone, of the book’s title, or Pindar’s odes, from which the epigraph is drawn—this book’s for you.   If you like rich descriptions of rustic, rural life, even with the realism of…

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Here’s the second part to a post from just after Thanksgiving 2020, “Riding the Holiday Waves: Writing for Health.” Because some consider early January as post-holiday, I have changed the title slightly to “Winter Waves.” Certainly, the waves of winter weather and emotion are here. I am feeling them. You?  Since that post, prompted by Janice Nimura’s PBS News Hour video on the topic, and in which I confessed my own…

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Twice in less than 24 hours—actually, within about 12 hours—I received notice from two friends* of two recent but very different news stories about the Waldensians. One was in here, in Friday’s New York Times, and the other was in here, in Ozarks Alive, only a few days before.  Coincidence or signs? To me, it…

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Hello, friends. How have the first of the holidays been for you? Have the emotions of 2020’s elections and COVID caused these past few days to seem calm, by comparison? Or are you riding those holiday waves that are common to many of us? Do you slide from peak to valley, with ups and downs…

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Title Page of Life & Letters of George Perkins Marsh (1888) As presidential election news was pouring into Washington, DC,  in early November, 1844, a junior US congressman captured visions of the city: “The excitement was intense. Torch-light processions paraded the streets with wild hurrahs; heavy guns were firing, now by one party, now by…

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One afternoon this week my desk work demanded a break. A good strong coffee called to me, as I sat staring at the computer. I had skipped my usual morning dose — two strong cups of bold espresso to fulfill my passions. “Un doppio,” I would order in Italy, usually “macchiato”–stained with milk. In Missouri, instead…

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I missed June’s blog. I’m making up for it by referring here to a short blog that appeared elsewhere last month. I wrote “Koulourakia Cravings” for a website called  Historians Cooking the Past.  I, like most other contributors, wrote of a strong food memory. It simmers up at certain seasons. When the light, the weather,…

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As Italy crawls back to life, many of us mourn the loss of trips planned and cancelled. This week-after-semester’s-end at the university often finds me in flight across the Atlantic. For most of the last decade, returning to the peninsula I fell in love with during a study abroad semester has been an end-of-term ritual.…

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