Snow, Man!

Dearest Rachel – There are so many reasons why I wish you were still here. I’ve gone on and on about a number of them throughout the course of this last year; I don’t need to bore you with the details right now, since I’ve been doing that all this time. One of those reasonsContinue reading “Snow, Man!”

A Meal in Itself

Dearest Rachel – I try to remember some of the inside jokes we used to share with each other as opportunity presents itself, but sometimes, I don’t have quite what I need to put it together. For instance, this picture is as close as I can get to the particular joke I’m looking for, asContinue reading “A Meal in Itself”

Passion Endured

The death of ·one that belongs to the Lord [his loyal ones/saints]    is precious in his ·sight [L eyes]. Psalm 116:15, Expanded Bible Dearest Rachel – You’d probably think, based on the title of this letter, that this is going to be another one of those essays where I go on and on about how much I miss this orContinue reading “Passion Endured”

A Quiet Cup of Cocoa

Dearest Rachel – Well, for all the food I managed to ply the girls with last night (and some of the stuff that they brought in turn), we never got around to the cocoa. I had been hoping to use some of the stuff that I had gotten for Christmas from ‘Santa’ (ha ha) withContinue reading “A Quiet Cup of Cocoa”

Muscle Massage Memories

Dearest Rachel – The late Betty White (don’t know if you’ve seen her up there, or if you could find her. While I’d admit that Rose had that ‘faith of a child,’ similar to how your mom was during her last few years, I’d wager that Sue Ellen wouldn’t be remotely interested in religion; andContinue reading “Muscle Massage Memories”

Moving the Man Cave

Dearest Rachel – It wasn’t that long ago that I thought I’d make a man cave out of the basement; all that space seemed like the perfect place to put a couch and a flatscreen television/computer combination like we’ve had in the family room for ages. Daniel could keep the family room (which for allContinue reading “Moving the Man Cave”

Pictures of Better Days

Dearest Rachel – Sometimes, I don’t know how my folks deal with it. Now, I have photos of you throughout the house; it’s a result of finding them in the process of cleaning the place out (not to mention cleaning off places for them to sit). That should be understandable; in fact, what would beContinue reading “Pictures of Better Days”

For Future Reference

Dearest Rachel – I propose that New Year’s resolutions are difficult to keep in part because we tend to put the bar way too high for our own safety. We make these grandiose promises to ourselves as to what we plan on doing in the coming year, only to be discouraged as it becomes evidentContinue reading “For Future Reference”

姫初 (Hime-Hatsu)

Dearest Rachel – New Year’s Day in America doesn’t have all that much associated with it, as far as I can tell. Frankly, it’s difficult for most people to engage in anything when they’re just waking up halfway through the day, nursing a hangover. The best most people can manage is to switch on theContinue reading “姫初 (Hime-Hatsu)”

Making the Most of Last Call

Dearest Rachel – So this is it. Effective the beginning of next week, the law comes down, not only in Chicago itself but throughout the entire county: no one may go out in public unless they have proof of vaccination. What that means is that Daniel will not be able to go out to aContinue reading “Making the Most of Last Call”

It Takes More Than Just Me

Dearest Rachel – I mentioned last night about how I needed to get this written down in some way. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to find the book in which this recipe is written, and it is one of those few responsibilities I have with regards to cooking as part of our family traditions.Continue reading “It Takes More Than Just Me”

Getting Malled

Dearest Rachel – I suppose it serves me right for trying to play Postmate for Daniel and myself. You’d probably have compared my little excursion last night with the time we were on our way to choir practice before the service, and I decided to stop in at a place we rarely bothered to visit;Continue reading “Getting Malled”

The Plans That We’d Made

Dearest Rachel – I’ve already talked about a couple of Christmas-adjacent songs that talk more about staying inside and avoiding the worst of the weather, that either leave me envious of the couple that can do just that together, or make me worry if I have to become some kind of creep in order toContinue reading “The Plans That We’d Made”

The House Without

Dearest Rachel – I hope you don’t mind, but you know this was never something I thought was worth bothering with, since we never really celebrated the holidays at our own home. Maybe, if we intend to do more hosting in our renovated place, that might change, but for now, we aren’t really going toContinue reading “The House Without”

Mischief Managed

Dearest Rachel – I was just reading the other day something about J. K. Rowling; I think it was somebody admiring her political stands in the face of, how shall we say, rather rabid opposition. The author of the piece actually commented how they weren’t a big fan of the Harry Potter series (being moreContinue reading “Mischief Managed”

The Quiet of a Sunday Morning

Dearest Rachel – I know the number of letters that I’ve written you have started to drop off since my return from overseas. Part of that is because I don’t consider things here to be all that interesting (or unfamiliar to you), and therefore worthy of comment. Part of it is because there are thingsContinue reading “The Quiet of a Sunday Morning”

Missing the Clicks

Dearest Rachel – I don’t mind telling you, now that I’m home relatively safe and sound, I find myself wondering what to write to you about such that I’ll get the kind of attention that I’ve had for the past week or two. I’m not going to make any secret of the fact that IContinue reading “Missing the Clicks”

Getting My Ten Cents Worth

Dearest Rachel – I probably shouldn’t do this, but boredom – and the ability to move about – can cause one to make some, let’s say, questionable financial decisions. Of course, they weren’t particularly big deals, especially in comparison to all the spending that I’ve been doing in the last two days (not all ofContinue reading “Getting My Ten Cents Worth”

More Than You’ll Ever Have

Dearest Rachel – I don’t know when I first heard it; probably from someone leaving a bad movie at a theater. “Well, that’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back.” It seems the sort of thing I could get away with saying at the moment. Sure, I have travel insurance, and that’ll coverContinue reading “More Than You’ll Ever Have”

In Darkest Night

Dearest Rachel – It’s almost funny. I finished my dinner in darkness, returned to the hotel in darkness, settled my bill and went to bed in that same darkness. All fairly normal. But in that self same darkness, I’m waking up, taking a taxi, flying to Amsterdam, and will land there in that same darkness.Continue reading “In Darkest Night”

One Last Walk Around

Dearest Rachel – When I got back to the hotel yesterday, after standing, exhausted, in the middle of Marktplatz, and settled in to update you on my travels for the morning, it was at that moment the sun deigned to stick his head out. I swear the old boy was mocking me. But it justContinue reading “One Last Walk Around”

‘Lost’ in Basel

Dearest Rachel – It’s a bit of a misnomer to say this about myself. Especially in the daytime; the old city isn’t that big that you can truly get lost in it. You just aren’t where you want to be. I determined that I wanted to check out the Cartoonmuseum; the Kunstmuseum is just aContinue reading “‘Lost’ in Basel”

St. Nicholas’ Day

Dearest Rachel – In our phone calls to each other (actually, I’m forced to admit that he’s been the one calling me every single time to check on me throughout this whole ordeal), Lars tells me that today is the day that the feast of St. Nicholas of Myra is celebrated throughout much of centralContinue reading “St. Nicholas’ Day”

Up and Out

Dearest Rachel – You might remember the scene at the end of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where Willy Wonka presses the button marked ‘Up and Out.’ “I always wanted to press that button, but never had the nerve,” he says – and I may be paraphrasing. And for good reason, as the elevator smashesContinue reading “Up and Out”

Last Supper Here

Dearest Rachel – Just to set the record straight, I put the word ‘Here’ in the title because well, it is the last time I’m going to bother with room service, especially considering I’ve gone through basically anything on the menu that’s interesting (okay, I admit to debating about two entrees tonight, but we’ll getContinue reading “Last Supper Here”

Sounds a Little Different

Dearest Rachel – Things sound a little different in a hotel on the weekends. This isn’t exactly the tourist section of Basel; I’m of the understanding that the Pullman is rather closer to the industrial center of town, while the museums and the shopping district sit on the other side of the river. But everybodyContinue reading “Sounds a Little Different”

Last Day on Hold

Dearest Rachel – After nearly a week of sleeping in until (and past) nine, I find myself up this morning at seven, unable to go back to sleep. The streets are still dark (it is December, after all), and yet my mind and body have determined I have spent enough time in bed for theContinue reading “Last Day on Hold”

Bearable Together

Dearest Rachel – Even as I lay awake, processing last nights nightmare, I found myself wondering what this little adventure would be like had it been the two of us, rather than just me. What would be different about it, and what would be the same? In all likelihood it wouldn’t have even happened, orContinue reading “Bearable Together”

Still A Pariah

Dearest Rachel – This last day or so have, emotionally speaking, been like riding on a pendulum – perhaps on one of those cuckoo clocks this country is so famous for. Even as news begins to trickle in to me, suggesting that there might be a way for me to get out sooner than IContinue reading “Still A Pariah”

Still A Long Way From Hope

Dearest Rachel – I mentioned how earlier today things were beginning to look up. The Basel-Stadt Health Department have laid out a timetable for me to be able to leave my room sooner than I’d hoped or expected, and just an hour or so ago, I’d received a testing vial from the good folks atContinue reading “Still A Long Way From Hope”

Relaxing the Rules

Dearest Rachel – This is the fourth in our serious on life – specifically, eating – in quarantine. So for today’s story about the things I’m eating, I have to issue a confession. I assumed that, under the American breakfast, I was only allowed to choose one of each category. You know, one of beverages,Continue reading “Relaxing the Rules”

Not Quite Soundproof

Dearest Rachel – Last night wasn’t the soundest sleep I’ve ever had in my life. Sometimes I forget that, while hotel rooms are built to individualize each guest’s experience, they aren’t completely soundproof, either. Thankfully, that isn’t to say that other guests have disturbed my sleep. I will hear the occasional knocking about in theContinue reading “Not Quite Soundproof”

I Can’t Send You Anything

Dearest Rachel – I guess it’s a bit of good news that I managed to sleep straight through last night. I sacked myself in just before before midnight (yes I realize that’s five p.m. ‘our’ time, but I’m getting used to the time zone here), and didn’t wake up until almost half past nine. IContinue reading “I Can’t Send You Anything”

It Could Be Worse

Dearest Rachel – It was one of those many inside jokes we used to have between each other. Any time we were in a bad situation of one sort or another, we would often encourage each other with Eye-gor’s line. Granted, if it was raining, the effect was lost, but still… I’ve tried to maintainContinue reading “It Could Be Worse”

A Traveler’s Nightmare, An Introvert’s Dream

Dearest Rachel – Morning in Basel, and as it would happen, my window is faced to receive the sun. And the sun, for once, is more than happy to come in. it’s a bright and cheery morning. Were I in worse straits, I might think it was mocking me. As it is, I am willingContinue reading “A Traveler’s Nightmare, An Introvert’s Dream”

What Tomorrow May Bring

Dearest Rachel – It’s been an eventful day. Every time the phone rings, every time there’s a knock on the door, I expect this to be the moment when I’m escorted off the ship. The last knock turned out to be one with my lunch. So I’m sitting here eating it, knowing I’ll have atContinue reading “What Tomorrow May Bring”

Switching Goddesses

Dearest Rachel – You’re familiar with the fact that various cruise lines have a certain theme when it comes to the names of the ships in their fleet. Royal Caribbean, for instance, will eventually go through pretty much every single noun in the dictionary, and as long as they stick ‘of the Seas’ at theContinue reading “Switching Goddesses”

Lessons From Tippecanoe

Dearest Rachel – I woke up at what I thought was the morning (actually, it turned out to be eleven something at night here, meaning it was barely four in the afternoon back home) thinking about President William Henry Harrison. I know that sounds silly – and there’s a ridiculous amount of silly to wadeContinue reading “Lessons From Tippecanoe”

Knocking About the City

Dearest Rachel – I had every intention of knocking about the city this afternoon; it’s part of the reason why I arrived early enough to stay the night. I want to look around town, see what Basel has to offer. But with this head cold that I’m dealing with, I feel like I could justContinue reading “Knocking About the City”

Different Directions, Different Speeds

Dearest Rachel – It’s weird to realize it, but the flight from Amsterdam to Basel takes less than an hour, but it’s going to take eight days to get back here by ship. As we landed here, it occurred to me what I had forgotten for today’s trip; a cap to keep the rain outContinue reading “Different Directions, Different Speeds”

An Extra Level of Difficulty

Dearest Rachel – Well, it took a couple of shots of Nyquil to do it (one at nine-thirty when I went to bed, and again at about three-thirty with a sinus cavity that had been filled with rubber cement), but I managed to get at least ten hours of sleep last night. And while I’mContinue reading “An Extra Level of Difficulty”

Traditions No More

Dearest Rachel – I honestly thought I could do it. I thought I could just get through the details and activities of the Thanksgiving holiday without being ambushed by your loss. I kept myself so busy, between the work in the booth for the Thanksgiving Eve service the night before, and the preparations for theContinue reading “Traditions No More”

This Present Tense

Dearest Rachel – I’m sure you know that I want to have a good relationship with Daniel. I want to be able to encourage and praise him for the good that he does (even if it’s not in my presence). But how do I praise him, when I don’t find out about the good thatContinue reading “This Present Tense”

Dancing While It’s All Torn Down

Dearest Rachel – This is probably what comes of driving to the ‘office’ as the weather chills, and the rains that fall are cold and unpleasant. As I’ve said, I’m no runner, and I have no desire to expose myself to that sort of weather if I don’t have to. That being said, it’s suchContinue reading “Dancing While It’s All Torn Down”

Missing a Name

Dearest Rachel – A few deliveries arrived over the weekend for the folks, as I work on the beginning of the holiday-season shopping list. The last quarter of the year includes quite a few extras for the family that not everyone has to deal with, such as Mom and Dad’s anniversary at the beginning ofContinue reading “Missing a Name”

Costumes

Dearest Rachel – There are so many things to say on this Halloween; so many memories to call up. It was a Halloween I am which I first sat with you in the cafeteria at breakfast, decked out as a denim clad mime, but unable to keep silent. Since I’d made up my face toContinue reading “Costumes”

Eyes Wide Open in the Pitch Black

Dearest Rachel – Since I needed to get an early start on the day today, I made a point of getting to bed as close to 10:30 as possible. Apart from not having fallen asleep in the rocking chair while watching videos with Daniel during the lead up to that hour, nothing seemed out ofContinue reading “Eyes Wide Open in the Pitch Black”

Is It Really ‘Just A Number’?

Dearest Rachel – In my continued adventures in online dating, I’ve noticed that ones who have been responding to me have tended to be younger than myself. Coming from a cultural background where that’s more the rule than the exception (sure, there are plenty of couples where both are more or less the same age,Continue reading “Is It Really ‘Just A Number’?”

Nine Whole Months

Dearest Rachel – No, it’s not quite been that long; believe me, I’m painfully aware of each time the twenty-third of the month has rolled around. We’ll be there in a couple of days, yes, but that’s not what this letter is about. No, what’s going on right now is something that just arrived inContinue reading “Nine Whole Months”

The Sullen Little Girl and Her Raggedy Ann

Dearest Rachel – This photo hung on the wall – along with a collection of other family photos, but this and the one of their last dog took pride of place, due to their size and prominence – in the hall leading from the family room of your parents’ house to their bedroom, passing byContinue reading “The Sullen Little Girl and Her Raggedy Ann”

Problems With My Parenting

Dearest Rachel – So the folks have developed this routine of inviting us over almost every Thursday night. It’s really not unlike back in the days when you would be visiting your parents for a week, or those times you would go on women’s retreats, or any other point in which you were away fromContinue reading “Problems With My Parenting”

Nevermind

Here we are now, entertain us… Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, from Nevermind (1991) Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained?! Maximus (Russell Crowe), Gladiator (2000) Dearest Rachel – Well, I said that I would let you know about the festival once I actually went to one (Although I specified that it would beContinue reading “Nevermind”

Gallagher’s Happy House

Dearest Rachel – There were several things in our lives that we both had knowledge and enjoyment of, but never quite shared as we could have. One, of course, was the nation of Japan (and its attendant culture), which we both visited and fell in love with before we became a couple – you asContinue reading “Gallagher’s Happy House”

Do You Have to Study to Pass the Bechdel Test?

Dearest Rachel – I can’t recall if you’re familiar with the concept of the Bechdel Test. At its most basic, it’s meant to be a measure of the representation of female characters in a work of fiction. The idea is that in order to pass, such a work needs to a.) have at least twoContinue reading “Do You Have to Study to Pass the Bechdel Test?”

Fear Of Failing Memory

Dearest Rachel – People sometimes tell me I have an impressive memory. And I suppose, for the things I learned in childhood, that’s not far from the mark. I would memorize Bible verses and the like for Awana, and many of them have stayed with me just like some of them actually advertise: “Train upContinue reading “Fear Of Failing Memory”