Category: United States

Texas Break 1: The River Runs Through It

Posted March 20th, 2017
Texas Break 1: The River Runs Through It

San Antonio is famed for two things: The Alamo and the Riverwalk. Decades ago My Dear One paused at San Antonio, while on route to California, to see them. He was disappointed. Apparently, the Alamo site was barely a building or two, including the chapel, and primarily intrusive hawkers of cheesy souvenirs. The Riverwalk was a short…

Christmas Letter 2016

Posted December 13th, 2016
Christmas Letter 2016

Dearest all, I made the pilgrimage on my own, from our moorage on the Danube in Passau, Germany, up the Wallfahrtsstiege, the 321 steps to the Mariahilf.  I counted off the Stations of the Cross and contemplated the gifts people had left, pleas for help and expressions of gratitude. No one else was there, no…

I-35: Minneapolis

Posted October 12th, 2016
I-35: Minneapolis

The Mall of America is… just…horrible. My Dear One suggested we visit. We weren’t in the mood to shop but we were curious about this place that is a destination for visitors from around the world. Parking was well-nigh impossible. There were lots outside and multilevel structures under cover. Having no idea as to how…

I-35: Mason City

Posted October 12th, 2016
I-35: Mason City

There is sculpture everywhere. Sofas, side tables and chairs in the park, children playing, bears looking confused, a marching band worth of horns, welded dinosaurs, silvery dancers, and even Frank Lloyd Wright looking approvingly at his hotel and bank downtown. Realism, abstraction, high art and humor. Who knew. And who knew that Mason City, a…

I-35: Des Moines

Posted October 12th, 2016
I-35: Des Moines

There were dropped jaws and more polite phrasings like, “What has persuaded you to make this move?” when I told people that I was moving to Iowa, in 1985 for a job as curator of education at the Des Moines Art Center. “Big careers are made in smaller museums,” I often answered. But the truth…

Listen and Follow Directions

Posted March 13th, 2016
Listen and Follow Directions

The most common comment on any report card I received in elementary school was, “Ellen would do well if she would just learn to follow directions.” Teachers stopped saying that as I got older but only because the grading system was about the mark and not about any insight into my approach to learning and…

La Jolla 2: In the Flight Path Above the City

Posted January 12th, 2016
La Jolla 2: In the Flight Path Above the City

Planes roar down from the west, above Balboa Park and I-5, to the runways at Lindbergh Field about every minute or so during the day. The first plane seemed loud but in a familiar way—I did, after all, live here in the 1980s. We woke to a pearly Monday sunrise and the promise of a…

La Jolla 1: Sea Lions and Pelicans

Posted January 10th, 2016
La Jolla 1: Sea Lions and Pelicans

Ranks of palm trees, beyond the baggage carousels at the San Diego airport, slender trunks curved like a scoliotic spine, confirmed that we were back in southern California. We expected rain, floods even, and landslides. We arrived to blue skies, temperatures in the high fifties and a hopeful forecast. I chose the white Camry in…

Christmas Letter 2015

Posted December 29th, 2015
Christmas Letter 2015

Dearest all, whoever and wherever you may be: Newscasts from Paris in November would cut to Brussels and all we could think was, “We were just there in April.” We recognized streets, buildings, monuments. We thought about our little apartment on rue Potagère (Warmoesstraat) in Saint-Josse not far from the Botanical Garden, our Halal butcher…

That Is Such Sad News

Posted August 22nd, 2015
That Is Such Sad News

A Facebook friend inquires, “Is death always sad?” The comment followed former president Jimmy Carter’s announcement that he has terminal cancer. A number of people from NPR’s Diane Rehm to ordinary friends have found the news “sad.” My FBF continued: “Although I greatly admire Carter, I disagree. Of course, I don’t want him (or anyone)…