The Cost of Things Lost

Dearest Rachel – It would seem that the conventional wisdom, the rule of thumb, is more accurate than I had considered giving it credit for. Daniel and I have been waking up at ridiculous hours throughout the entirety of the past week since arriving back home, including today. I can’t speak for so much forContinue reading “The Cost of Things Lost”

Not Wee Enough Yet

Dearest Rachel – I’ve heard it said that, when you travel long distances, it takes a day to recover for every hour in time change that you make. I personally think that’s overstating things, as that would mean that by the time we were adjusting to the time in Israel, we would be pretty muchContinue reading “Not Wee Enough Yet”

All or Nothing at All

Dearest Rachel – For all that it’s been an edifying trip (even with the distraction of me trying to write everything down as I’m walking through every single site), it’s really good to get back home, and pile myself into my own bed. Daniel agrees, despite the fact that his bed is essentially the familyContinue reading “All or Nothing at All”

Mealtime Moments

Dearest Rachel – While I’ve been writing you mostly about the places we’ve gone, the things we’ve seen (many of which might be at least of nodding familiarity to you, having been here several times before), there are other things going on that have little to do with the trip itself. Or maybe they haveContinue reading “Mealtime Moments”

Let Cooler Heads Prevail

Dearest Rachel – There are so many reasons why I wish you were still here. Some are obvious at any point in time that you look at it; others, only in certain situations that come up so infrequently that even I tend to forget about them. This is one of those latter things, and oneContinue reading “Let Cooler Heads Prevail”

An Ungodly Hour in God’s City

Dearest Rachel – There are many cities around the world that seem to pride themselves on being ‘the city that never sleeps.’ New York and San Francisco come to mind in particular, being celebrated in song to that effect. Jerusalem is not one of those places. On the contrary, part of its pride lies inContinue reading “An Ungodly Hour in God’s City”

Return to Israel

Dearest Rachel – After visiting Bethlehem and the shepherd’s caves, we head back into Israel proper. While we never needed our passports (because isn’t it still Israel? I mean, there is no separate country of Palestine at the moment), it has all the feel of a border crossing otherwise. As we arrive at Nebe Samuel,Continue reading “Return to Israel”

Shopportunities

Dearest Rachel – The first time we heard this phrase was the last time we were in Israel. Our guide, Irad, claimed no credit for it; he had, on a recent tour previous, been asked about them from a pair of twenty-something girls, and liked the expression so much as to ask permission to borrowContinue reading “Shopportunities”

Losing Sharpness

Dearest Rachel – I’m not going to claim that this wouldn’t have happened if you were still here with me. You did a lot of the packing for our many trips, to be sure, but there were certain personal things that were left up to me to handle. In fact, I would generally be theContinue reading “Losing Sharpness”

Praise Allah, It’s Thursday

Dearest Rachel – I gather that just by using this title, I’m marking myself as an impious infidel; however, I can’t help but wonder if, since their day of worship is tomorrow, and they party tonight, whether Muslims have a similar attitude toward Thursday evening as we Westerners tend to think of Friday, and thankContinue reading “Praise Allah, It’s Thursday”

A Stone’s Throw Away

Dearest Rachel – As we drive off from our lunch stop (and that’s a quick story for another time), Yael discusses the reforestation of Israel; it would seem that it was denuded of trees in the late nineteenth century for hardwood to build a rail line between Istanbul and Mecca/Medina for hajj travelers. Over 90%Continue reading “A Stone’s Throw Away”

Calm Amid the Chaos

Dearest Rachel – Since thus far, we really haven’t had the time for shopping, it would seem that merchants have decided to come to us. I mentioned about Junior plugging tattoos yesterday; today, we had a guy aboard the bus, shilling personalized necklaces and rings. I’m not gonna lie, I was briefly tempted to getContinue reading “Calm Amid the Chaos”

The Satisfaction of Dreams

It’s often the little things in life that can be the most satisfying, particularly after a relatively long absence. For instance, after a week of irregular sleep, the fact that I woke up from a dream lets me know that I’ve finally gotten a good night’s sleep. It wasn’t anything fancy, to be honest. TheContinue reading “The Satisfaction of Dreams”

This You Cannot Make Me Do

Dearest Rachel – The climax of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is the moment when Scrooge brushes the snow away from the tombstone of the ‘unknown’ man he had seen lying dead earlier in his travels with the Spirit of Christmas Future. It’s the turning point in which he realizes how worthless his life hasContinue reading “This You Cannot Make Me Do”

The Sacred and the Secular in the City of the Savior

Dearest Rachel – We hear the bleat of a horn (and I’m not kidding – it drops a tone mid-honk) as we step off the bus this morning. It’s normal for the inhabitants, but it’s odd for us to land on an angle this steep. At least it’s easy to make our way out ofContinue reading “The Sacred and the Secular in the City of the Savior”

Too Tired to Wash?

Dearest Rachel – I’m not gonna lie, honey; when I heard that we would need to be on the bus as early as we would this morning, I considered taking a shower last night, instead. The trouble is that, by the time I was finished telling you about all the things that we had seenContinue reading “Too Tired to Wash?”

The City of David

Dearest Rachel – “♫ Jerusalem, if I forget youLet my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do ♪” We bounce in to the strains of reggae, if you can believe it.  Jordan claims it’s a tradition among us at the Bridge, but I don’t recall that from past visits to Jerusalem.  Our first timeContinue reading “The City of David”

Streams and Songs in the Desert

Dearest Rachel – We’re warned not allowed to eat, drink, smoke or feed the animals as we make our way into the En Gedi nature preserve. I wonder about smoking the animals for eating, but Daniel nudges me like you would for a crack like that – which I probably deserve. I thought that EnContinue reading “Streams and Songs in the Desert”

The Last Stand

Dearest Rachel – We’re back at Masada yet again; and although it doesn’t factor into the Biblical record, it seems to be de rigeur for a tourist in Israel to visit, it would seem. It’s a symbol of heroism for Israelis, despite involving what was effectively mass suicide, a serious breach of Jewish morality. However,Continue reading “The Last Stand”

Confusingly Early

Dearest Rachel – Morning at the Royal Dead Sea hotel, and we get our wake-up call at 6 o’clock.  That’s half an hour earlier than we’ve ever had a wake-up call, and actually earlier than I’ve set my alarm for today.  It makes me wonder if we have enough time to get ourselves put together, outContinue reading “Confusingly Early”

Not Going South Just Yet

Dearest Rachel – It’s 8 a.m., and we’re underway – to some applause, as we actually pulled out at 7:59. Considering that I felt like I was being order to be ready to go by 7:45 (and I know, I shouldn’t take it personally if I’m not the one guilty of being late) I don’tContinue reading “Not Going South Just Yet”

Gobble, Gulp and Go

Dearest Rachel – A week or so ago, I finished transcribing my notes from our first trip here back in 2014. I had meant to use them to compare what we’d seen and heard then versus now, but also as filler, under the assumption that I wouldn’t be likely to be able to write fullContinue reading “Gobble, Gulp and Go”

Galilee Afternoon

Dearest Rachel – Sunday dinnerOn the shore of Galilee At a… Chinese restaurant? Actually no, we’re not eating at the Pagoda this time. But, we find ourselves eating outdoors in November – another unfamiliar combination of concepts for a group of Chicago natives. But as time wears on, and the sun beats down on us, evenContinue reading “Galilee Afternoon”

A Light from the Heights

Dearest Rachel – After lunch at Caesarea Philippi, we take an hour-long ride into the Golan Heights (still a part of the Galilee region), to a town called Gamla. You would think that a nation barely the size of Rhode Island wouldn’t have such long drives from place to place, and yet, here we are.Continue reading “A Light from the Heights”

Dan in the North

Dearest Rachel – No, this has nothing to do with Daniel being with me as we head to the northernmost point of Israel (at least, not at first); this area was named Dan long before that. I should point out that I haven’t been bringing our itinerary with us; since I’m not the one driving,Continue reading “Dan in the North”

Too Harsh for a Laugh?

Dearest Rachel – You’ll remember staying at the one in Jerusalem; now we’ve gotten ourselves moved into a room at one in Nazareth. And for whatever reason, I can’t help but be reminded (as unfairly as it might be applied to them) by this song: I’m pretty sure you would have shared in the giggleContinue reading “Too Harsh for a Laugh?”

The Site of Armageddon?

Dearest Rachel – It’s a strange thing to consider; while we’re well aware that the name Armageddon comes from a specific place – the valley of Megiddo, where we are now heading to – it goes against our understanding to think of the end of the world happening in a single specific place. Armageddon seemsContinue reading “The Site of Armageddon?”

The Difference in Mornings

Dearest Rachel – It says something good about a hotel bed when you wake up in it thinking year at home in your own – although I think it may have had more to do with the ambient traffic noise that I’m so used to back there. It’s less complementary when you check the alarm,Continue reading “The Difference in Mornings”

A Rest Arrested, A Connection Made

Dearest Rachel – I really thought I’d be better at this; given that I was yawning like crazy even as the folks were driving Daniel and I to the airport, I assumed I’d be able to fall asleep on the plane without any difficulty. It was certainly late enough in the evening, and I hadContinue reading “A Rest Arrested, A Connection Made”

“I Was Told There’d Be Outlets”

Dearest Rachel – I’m not sure that I want this to become frequent enough to be routine; there’s a certain point at which, I’m sure, travel loses its luster. That being said, I would certainly prefer to be sufficiently accustomed to the process to not feel so queasy every time I arrive at the airport.Continue reading ““I Was Told There’d Be Outlets””

Pa(ni)cking

Dearest Rachel – In the eponymous book describing it (and the many adventures Arthur Dent takes under its influence), The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy has emblazoned on its cover two critical words: “Don’t Panic.” In theory, it’s good advice for the traveler, whether you’re escaping a planet that’s about to be destroyed, or justContinue reading “Pa(ni)cking”

An Unexpected Choice

Dearest Rachel – Well, that serves me right for trying to draft a letter to you while waiting for things to shake out. It’s amazing how much things can change in a matter of a few hours. I’ll start at the beginning, as best I can, since it’s not really my story – I’m justContinue reading “An Unexpected Choice”

Preparations and Purchases

Dearest Rachel – You were instructing me to help you out in finding a protective screen for your touchscreen computer, as you were planning on taking it with on our travels. You seemed to be looking forward to the trip. For my part, I didn’t know how to react to your request. I hadn’t intendedContinue reading “Preparations and Purchases”

Can’t Help But Compare

Dearest Rachel – Waking up ridiculously early this morning isn’t anywhere near as unpleasant as it has been, now that the fan motor has been replaced in the bedroom space heater. Still, without an immediate topic at hand to talk to you about today (since by waking up, I seem to have completely punctured whateverContinue reading “Can’t Help But Compare”

Battle Plans

Dearest Rachel – I can’t guess as to how much you still remember of your past life on this plane – especially things from so long ago (although, for all I know, you might be able to see the distant past just as well as the relatively recent, from your perspective), but I’m reminded today,Continue reading “Battle Plans”

My Shoulders and the Wheel

“Ssssoooo…” the voice to my left hissed into my ear, smug and self-satisfied, “how was your weekend with the LAY-deeeez?” There was a singsong note to his question, as if he was mocking me about it – which, let’s face it, he was. He’d conned me into agreeing to go up to camp, every bitContinue reading “My Shoulders and the Wheel”

The Way of the Wayward Son

You know the rules. Driver picks the music; shotgun shuts his cakehole. Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) to his brother Sam (Jared Padalecki), as they begin their adventure, in Supernatural Dearest Rachel – I never got into the series; it was something you would watch as you were doing your chores or whatever it was youContinue reading “The Way of the Wayward Son”

A Wish to Return

Dearest Rachel – Last night, I found myself dreaming about our trip to San Antonio, and wishing we could go back there. I’m not entirely sure why. Oh, don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of good reasons to want to. The place we stayed at was really quite something, with its expansive room andContinue reading “A Wish to Return”

So Why Make the Offer in the First Place?

Dearest Rachel – For all that I’ve been saying that every day this week was going to be a little unusual – at least, insofar as none of them have been a typical ‘9 to 5’ day at the ‘office’ – that hasn’t proven to be quite true. Today is actually likely to be aContinue reading “So Why Make the Offer in the First Place?”

Wobbly Wake-up

Dearest Rachel – I think it must be a symptom of old age – or at least, of the aging process itself. I either wake up hours before the sun does, or I find myself sleeping in past what I would consider to be a reasonable hour. And some days, like this morning, I manageContinue reading “Wobbly Wake-up”

Red Steam in the Sunrise

Dearest Rachel – I’ve made this distinction before; it’s a rare thing that one’s daydreams and one’s dreams should coincide. But this morning’s screenings clearly must’ve resulted from having won the lottery or something like that. I mean, sure, I probably acquired the thing for kopecks on the ruble, but fixing up an old SovietContinue reading “Red Steam in the Sunrise”

Accountability

Dearest Rachel – I confess that I’ve never really been a fact of this particular topic. Oh, don’t get me wrong; I know it’s a useful and necessary tool to keep a oneself on the straight and narrow. It works. It’s just that it’s no fun, admitting when you screwed up, and having to constantlyContinue reading “Accountability”

With the Sun at My Back

Dearest Rachel – It may not the most efficient way to travel, or the most glamorous, but it gets the job done. The old Irish blessing is that the wind should be at your back, rather than the sun. That way, you can be propelled along by the breeze, speeding you to your destination withContinue reading “With the Sun at My Back”

How the Pendulum Swings

Dearest Rachel – So, I’m on my way to Iowa for this year’s anime convention. Call me pessimistic, but this may very well be for the last time. To think that, back in 2019, we were considering joining the Mindbridge community as part of the volunteer staff in the future for the convention. We nowContinue reading “How the Pendulum Swings”

Oh, The Places You’d Gone!

Dearest Rachel – Earlier last week, I swapped out the quilt I’d been using on our bed for the last few months, since the rest of them arrived just in time for Daniel’s birthday (which was particularly fortuitous, since his quilt was among those returned by the company assembling them) – not to mention theContinue reading “Oh, The Places You’d Gone!”

A Weekend in a Day

Dearest Rachel – It’s weird to realize how little of what I’d had lined up for this weekend would have happened were you still with me. It’s even stranger to realize how few of the plans that I thought I had actually managed to pan out. And yet, there was plenty else to rush inContinue reading “A Weekend in a Day”

The Old Way Home

Dearest Rachel – For all my talk about taking a different way down here, you might think it’s strange that I return to our normal course of action for the trip home. After all, there’s no more reason for us to leave in a hurry than there was for us to show up down hereContinue reading “The Old Way Home”

A Whole Lot of Nothing Going On

I’m going to do nothing, and I’m going to do it slowly. Leroy ‘Satchel’ Paige, when asked what he planned to do once he retired from baseball Dearest Rachel – It was a quote that my dad always liked to repeat about what he planned on doing with retirement, and it was something that I,Continue reading “A Whole Lot of Nothing Going On”

There’s A First Time For (almost) Everything

Dearest Rachel – So much has changed, even since the last time we drove down to see Kevin. Sure, last year already had so many things different about it, between your departure and Chompers in a wheelchair. But now, the old boy is gone, and suddenly, there is so much more space in the car,Continue reading “There’s A First Time For (almost) Everything”

A Wish For Autonomy

Dearest Rachel – I know I used to joke about how many of their cars we could buy with the shares we owned in the company, but it was always a bit of a concern as to how for one could actually travel in a given day in a Tesla. Really, it’s a disadvantage thatContinue reading “A Wish For Autonomy”

A Quick Change of Plans

Dearest Rachel – By rights, had everything worked out according to the original plan, Daniel and I should be re-packing again today. it’s a quick turnaround from last weekend, sure, but that’s when Memorial Day weekend falls, and we would traditionally drive down to the Nashville area to see Kevin. I’ve abandoned certain traditions sinceContinue reading “A Quick Change of Plans”

That Could Have Gone So Much Worse…

Dearest Rachel – That title pretty much sums up last night’s dream, honey. Don’t know where it came from; as cold as I may have felt, I did sleep in my clothes to mitigate the chill, so I shouldn’t have been feeling it in my unconsciousness. And as for the rest of it, well, IContinue reading “That Could Have Gone So Much Worse…”

Where You Don’t Want to Go

·I tell you the truth [L Truly, truly I say to you], when you were younger, you ·tied your own belt [dressed yourself] and went where you wanted. But when you are old, you will put out your hands and someone else will ·tie [dress] you and take you where you don’t want to go.” JohnContinue reading “Where You Don’t Want to Go”

If I Could See My Way Clear

Dearest Rachel – Well, it could’ve happened at a worse time. Barely an hour before Jenn was supposed to pick me up so that we could drive to cousin Jim’s memorial service in the Twin Cities area, I get the bright idea to clean my glasses. Just as I start to rub the lens withContinue reading “If I Could See My Way Clear”

It’s That Much Worse If You’re There

Dearest Rachel – I mentioned a little while ago about a dream I had that might have been based off of a plan I was trying to make for yet another trip – and at the time, I didn’t bother to tell you about the details, partly because it was still up in the airContinue reading “It’s That Much Worse If You’re There”

Cleared For Takeoff

Dearest Rachel – It was one of those silly things that we would occasionally quote at each other when the circumstances warranted it – which is to say, when we were completely prepared and ready to leave on a trip: And it would seem that we finally have clearance (Clarence?) once again. As close asContinue reading “Cleared For Takeoff”

Dreaming a Little Too Deeply

Dearest Rachel – Sometimes you just know where your dream is coming from. That doesn’t make it any less absurd. I’m pretty sure this had to do with the combination of my scoping out a new trip for later this year (pending confirmation of any scheduling conflicts – yes, they can be a thing yet),Continue reading “Dreaming a Little Too Deeply”

To Everything…

Dearest Rachel – So much for the need for a wake up call. My mind is going through this past week, and as I’m lying here trying to get another hour or two of sleep, it’s coming up with a few rules for future reference. Much of it sounds a lot like the third chapterContinue reading “To Everything…”

Towel Critters

Dearest Rachel – I probably should’ve known better. When I didn’t see one on my bed the first night when I came back to the room after dinner, I concluded that the cabin staff no longer folded towel animals. Either that, or they no longer did so for rooms that didn’t have kids in themContinue reading “Towel Critters”

A Private Balcony

Dearest Rachel – I know it was a long time ago, but I’m pretty sure you remember our first cruise. When the folks took us to Alaska, it was a really big deal, even though we had interior staterooms. You had to bring a nightlight for Daniel’s sake, because once the door was closed andContinue reading “A Private Balcony”

Breaking ‘Basel Syndrome’

Dearest Rachel – I wonder if, after November’s fiasco, whether I haven’t developed a mild case of what one might call ‘Basel Syndrome,’ where I’m simply more comfortable in my hotel room (or in this case, cabin – everything has a different name at sea, for whatever reason) than I am out wandering around andContinue reading “Breaking ‘Basel Syndrome’”

Less Eventful Days

Dearest Rachel – So, we are now headed back toward Florida; another non-stop sail of some 1,200 miles or so. Two whole days of nothing but open ocean, as we make our return. This is the dénouement; barring something catastrophic or stupid (or catastrophically stupid), these last two days will be considerably less eventful thanContinue reading “Less Eventful Days”

Let’s Try This Again

Dearest Rachel – There’s only so long I can go, just sitting around doing nothing while my feet heal. With about half an hour before I’m supposed to meet the group, I decided to head down, but I’m torn between getting a beverage first from the Diamond Lounge. Just as I get out of theContinue reading “Let’s Try This Again”

Stuff Before I Go Ashore

Dearest Rachel – I was told by friends and family at home that, well the port of Curaçao itself was literally nothing much to write home about, the homes and businesses we would pass on the way in might very well be. However, considering how close Aruba and Curaçao are, even with an 11 o’clockContinue reading “Stuff Before I Go Ashore”

Willemstad

Dearest Rachel – Oddly enough, this report is coming to you from Oranjestad, as we’re not leaving Aruba until something like 11 o’clock tonight. We’re still going to be pulling in to Curaçao by 8 in the morning tomorrow – that’s how close these two islands are to each other – and I’m told thatContinue reading “Willemstad”

The Dissonance of a Different Drummer

Dearest Rachel – Morning of the fourth day. We were supposed to have been docked in Aruba by now, but that’s understandably been put on hold. Indeed, even while we were in a holding pattern in Kingston Bay, there was another alert topside, as ‘Alpha Alpha Alpha’ was repeated over the public address system. FromContinue reading “The Dissonance of a Different Drummer”

Poolside Puzzles

Dearest Rachel – It’s probably not something that you would consider to be an issue, or at least you would figure out a workaround. After all, you were determined to swim as often as you possibly could, whereas I’m not sure why I’m bothering. So if I run into a situation poolside that I considerContinue reading “Poolside Puzzles”

Out On the Open Ocean?

Dearest Rachel – It’s not quite seven in the morning, and I’m awake early again. It’s not exactly a complaint, but you think it wouldn’t be necessary, as there is nothing much to see when you’re out in the open ocean. Except, apparently, we aren’t. I was actually woken up, in fact, by a textContinue reading “Out On the Open Ocean?”

The Call of the Wired

Dearest Rachel – Back in the day, we used to bring our computers with us on these trips (just like we did when we went to the island) in order to entertain ourselves on certain slower days. In the early days, we had stuff on CDs, which we later swapped out for portable hard drivesContinue reading “The Call of the Wired”

The Darkness of the Morning

Dearest Rachel – For all that I claim to like it as dark as possible when I’m trying to sleep, this is really something else. When I take the key card out of the little slot by the room door, all the lights go out – and I do mean all the lights. Were atContinue reading “The Darkness of the Morning”

Memories of Bananas Foster

Dearest Rachel – There are so many things about this trip that seem to be reminding me of our honeymoon trip; maybe it’s just that I’m keeping track for once in my life. Before now, I might have a flash of remembrance – I might even mention it to you at the moment – butContinue reading “Memories of Bananas Foster”

Heights Above the Depths

Dearest Rachel – I’d like to hope this wouldn’t make you jealous, but I’ve just gotten back from swimming. Although, it wasn’t so much swimming, as hanging around in one pool or another and chatting with other people doing pretty much the same. I don’t know why, but I keep running into people from NorthContinue reading “Heights Above the Depths”

A Perfect Day?

Dearest Rachel – Do you remember this place, honey? Well, I’m back here. Hadn’t actually planned to be – originally, the itinerary had us docking in Nassau today, but some of the passengers were sent an incorrect itinerary, and the cruise line discovered (not sure how, as I don’t recall being asked one way orContinue reading “A Perfect Day?”

If You Could Only Feel It

Dearest Rachel – I’ve been wondering around top side for the past hour or so. To be honest, I stopped for about half of that hour, as they were showing a movie above the pool; one about souls (in fact, I think that was the film’s name), and one’s trying to get back to earthContinue reading “If You Could Only Feel It”

A Momentary Flash of Panic

Dearest Rachel – Well, honey, I made it this time. Admittedly, I was over prepared this time; the QR code didn’t seem to work with their check in procedures, so I had to show them the previous screen from the pharmacy, showing a negative Covid result. But before that, there was a slight matter regardingContinue reading “A Momentary Flash of Panic”

What I’m In For

Dearest Rachel – It’s just about nine in the morning, and I’m back to wandering around that strip mall I talked about last night. I have a little bit more purpose in this morning’s walk, as I’ve realized what I’ve forgotten to pack (and which you would have taken care of, so I would neverContinue reading “What I’m In For”

Arrant Nonsense

Dearest Rachel – Of all the earworms to have going through my head, this is the one I wake up hearing? I’ve been Norman Mailered, Maxwell Taylored.I’ve been John O’Hara’d, McNamara’d.I’ve been Rolling Stoned and Beatled ’til I’m blind!I’ve been Ayn Randed, nearly brandedA Communist, ’cause I’m left-handedThat’s the hand they use… well… never mind.Continue reading “Arrant Nonsense”

Rubbing It In

Dearest Rachel – I’ve said more than enough times how weird it is to be traveling on my own these days. Yes, you have the freedom to go wherever and whenever you want to at any moment, I’ll not deny it. But it still doesn’t feel right, especially since leisure travel, in particular, seems toContinue reading “Rubbing It In”

Off My Feet in Record Time

Dearest Rachel – I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to the process of checking my way into an airport – until such day that travel itself becomes boring and routine (may that day never come – it’ll be time to come home and stay home at that point) – but today’s ordeal hadContinue reading “Off My Feet in Record Time”

Preparing for Takeoff

Dearest Rachel – Were this any other morning, I would probably be making a big deal out of the fact that this is the four hundredth day in a row that I’ve written to you. That’s right; I’ve been letting you know what’s been going on with me, and what’s been happening on the planetContinue reading “Preparing for Takeoff”

Cleaning Out and Stocking Up

Dearest Rachel – I left the house this morning to the sound of the dishwasher firing up; I stopped at the local wholesale club to fill my tank (despite the high price tag – it’s the first time I’ve ever put $60 worth of gas in the car at one go – because I’m sureContinue reading “Cleaning Out and Stocking Up”

Dying of Complications

Dearest Rachel – I mentioned the other day about that book of humorous epitaphs in my grandparents’ basement; another one that always caught my attention was this one, which could probably describe everyone on earth (or at least, most of us here in the First World): He was a simple man who died of complicationsContinue reading “Dying of Complications”

Preparing in Spite of Myself

Dearest Rachel – You know well that, even when you were around, I rarely took packing all that seriously. While you would put together lists of all the things you thought we would need (granted, that list was considerably longer for a ‘get away from everything’ type trip like the island, as opposed to anContinue reading “Preparing in Spite of Myself”

The Finnish Reindeer Coat

Dearest Rachel – The other day, I saw Mom getting a few old coats out of the cedar closet in their basement (from the room under what used to be my own, back when I was growing up). Admittedly, I didn’t think much of it, but took the moment to fill her in on theContinue reading “The Finnish Reindeer Coat”

Replacing Chocolate

Dearest Rachel – You might remember, the last time we were on the island, we used up the last of one of the few remaining jars of Hershey’s spread on some marshmallows we placed in the toaster oven. Well, to be perfectly accurate, we put it on the graham crackers that we set atop thoseContinue reading “Replacing Chocolate”

Imagine Storms

Dearest Rachel – Another long night, another dream – or series of dreams – that might otherwise make sense except for the timing, the location, the cast, and the fact that I was constantly looking for my phone to take pictures of it all, only to find that it was nowhere near me (which, asContinue reading “Imagine Storms”

Back On the… Horse?

Dearest Rachel – Usually, after dinner at their house, Daniel and I will follow Dad into the family room to chat for an hour or so. You probably remember those days well enough when we would be invited over, although you’ll understand that it’s on more frequent – and regular – occasion these days. ForgiveContinue reading “Back On the… Horse?”

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 Devil in the Details

Dearest Rachel – Yes, I told you I was going to continue to make that pun every time the folks from Detail Kitchens work with me on the remodeling of the kitchen and the laundry room. Consider yourself lucky I didn’t make such a pun that time we went shopping for appliances. Besides, it’s aContinue reading “The Devil in the Details”

Culture Stunned

Dearest Rachel – Over the last week and a half, I’ve said a number of times about how ‘what’s mundane for one person is exotic for another.’ Naturally, it stands to reason that this situation goes both ways. What’s particularly weird is how it’s happened to me in both directions. I can’t say that IContinue reading “Culture Stunned”

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”

Cheap Eats, If You Need Them

Dearest Rachel – So I’m back to the hotel yet again this morning, and it’s barely ten. This time, at least, I’ve gone through the antigen test (there was nobody in line! It pays to wait!) – turns out, they only needed to swab one nostril rather than the two we had to do backContinue reading “Cheap Eats, If You Need Them”

‘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”

Winding Up for Winding Down

Dearest Rachel – Monday morning in Basel, and I think I’ve had the most solid sleep of my time here; went to bed around eleven, and didn’t wake up until seven-thirty. May have dreamed about solving some problems back at the old workplace, but it’s hardly worth commenting upon. I’m feeling like I should takeContinue reading “Winding Up for Winding Down”