How Two Events Changed My Perspective on Life

Dave and I school

Walking to class at the Merz Schule in Stuttgart

When my mother dropped my brother and I off for our first day of school at the Merz Schule in Stuttgart, Germany in 1971, I was already able to recite the ABCs and to count from one to 10 in German. It seems I had an aptitude for the language, and within a year spoke it with a flawless Schwäbisch accent. (Stuttgart is located in southern Germany, Schwabenland.) Mom wasn’t pleased. High German was better. But Schwäbisch allowed me to slur over the genders die, der, “und” das, and to assimilate into school and the village of Vaihinghen-Rohr where we lived.

In 1973, my family moved to Peoria, IL. I was 13, and in the middle of a growth spurt. (more…)

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Life Happens


Dad & Me April 2013 at John Deere Museum in Moline, IL

In February when I sent my invitation to announce my forthcoming Writer’s News newsletter, I thought it’d be a week or two before I hit the send button. But as I worked with my web-team to get the look and feel “just right” and every word perfect, February turned into March, and March ran into April. Then life tossed me a curveball on April 15th. My brother called to tell me that our dad had been admitted to Methodist hospital in Peoria, IL. Dad’s house cleaner had found him doubled over on the couch. His symptoms, a bowel obstruction caused by scar tissue from a 20-year-old surgery. Conveniently I was in in the Midwest instead of California and drove to Peoria the next day. When Dad went in to surgery four days later, it hadn’t occurred to my brother, sister-in-law and I that he would be dead 18 days later. (more…)

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Seven Books I Read in 2014

Ana ReadingOnce upon a time, I was a voracious reader. In my late 20s and early 30s, books were an appendage. I read while I gulped down my breakfast, at night alone at my table in my studio apartment, as soon as my favorite TV show had ended, every day during my mass-transit commute from Lincoln Park to the Chicago Loop.

One day, with my nose stuck into Steinbeck’s East of Eden, I was yanked from my seat on the 156 151 Busat the corner of LaSalle Street and North Avenue, pulled down the isle, and shoved down the stairs of the bus’ rear exit. When I turned to see what a fellow passenger had rescued me from, flames were bursting out from under the seat I had occupied. (more…)

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On Top of Arnolfo’s Tower

Palazzo Vecchio from Uffizi

Palazzo Vecchio – right next to the Uffizi

Today was Ed’s and my last day in Florence. The one thing on our list to do was to tool around the Uffizi. Kinda sorta underwhelmed after visiting the galleries on the top floor, we ordered espresso drinks and a fruit tart at the roof-top terrace cafe. As I sipped my espresso macchiato, I happened to notice that every couple of minutes a head or two or three would appear in the tower of the building next to the Uffizi. “Hey Ed,” I said. “Wonder what that place is?” (more…)

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Catwalk in the Florence Duomo


me and the duomoWhat was I thinking today when I set off with Ed to climb to the top of the Duomo? He reminded me later as we sat at a cafe after our climb that Paul, our concierge, had mentioned getting to the top was not for the faint of heart. Ed says he warned me too. I wonder why I didn’t hear Paul and Ed? Perhaps it was because I wanted to see the extraordinary view—terra-cotta roofs, the hillsides, and the bridges crossing the Arno? Or maybe I wanted to remember if I had made it to the top as an 11-year-old girl in the summer of 1971. (more…)

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Remembering Pompeii

selfieToday on the way back to Naples from Positano where I attended the Sirenland Writers Conference this past week, Ed and I stopped in Pompeii. We took a tour with a guide, who showed us, in his opinion, the most noteworthy highlights. This was Ed’s first visit to the ruins of Pompeii. My second. I had visited in 1971 with my family when we toured Italy during the first summer we lived in Europe – Stuttgart, Germany. (more…)

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On The Banks of Plum Creek

These-Happy-Golden-Years-296376When I was in 7th grade and newly transplanted in Peoria, IL from Stuttgart, Germany, I spent hours losing myself in the world of the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her books were my constant companions. They helped me to drown away my pre-teen angst and homesickness for Germany. I particularly loved, These Happy Golden Years. I loved it so much I wrote an inscription in it to myself. One day a classmates grabbed These Happy Golden Years from my desk in Mrs. Schmidt’s English class, flipped it open and laughed at my inscription when she read it out loud: (more…)

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In The Loo

Two days ago I traveled from Angel Fire (AF), NM to Oakland. Not an easy trip. Best case scenario, a 3-hour drive from AF to Albuquerque (ABQ), followed by a 2.5 hour flight. Construction along the way caused the need for me to drive 90-mph hour from Santa Fe to ABQ, which stressed me out. Further unmentionable events ensued on the way to gate A5, and my bad-travel day culminated with an elderly woman I tried to scoot around in the isle of the plane while boarding saying to me, (more…)

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On The Road to Positive Thinking with The Reluctant RAGBRAI Biker

RAGBRAI COUNTDOWN: 46 days, 11 hours, 32 minutes, and 14 seconds…

on my bikeYesterday riding my road bike on the Alpine/Portola Valley loop and trailing behind Ed, I sifted through my thoughts to find good ones. Positive, inspiring thoughts that would keep me company as I labored against a headwind, and a cross wind that almost knocked me over. Crappy thoughts don’t help with perseverance. (more…)

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Blog Hop—Writers Writing

writers block

Powering through writers block

When I was ten, my family moved from Los Angeles to Stuttgart, Germany. To stay connected to my friends, I started writing. The only one who wrote back consistently for over 20 years, was my best friend and next-door neighbor, Lisa. Now when we see each other she introduces me as her pen pal. Sadly, my mother threw Lisa’s letters away, but Lisa saved mine. Several years ago, she lent me the large box that contains them to read. On blue sheets of airmail paper, I shared adolescent perspectives about places we traveled to in Europe. Then when I was 13, my parents moved our family to Peoria, Illinois. Suddenly my missives turned into angry and confused teenaged angst, (more…)

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