30×30: Lesson 12: It’s about the process

I’ve written about this multiple times before, but I’ll write about it again: those two weeks in July 2010 when Lynn Palermo and I backpacked in western Europe in order to follow what had been the Western Front of World War I. Those fifteen days beneath France’s cloudless skies still rank among some of my…

Not like Mom’s: Authentic Belgian waffles, Waffalonia, Pittsburgh

I happen to be intrigued by almost everything about Belgium. Geographically, politically, and historically lodged between Holland (the country that introduced me to Europe) and France (the primary country that speaks the language that I study), Belgium is the intersection of Europe at which I feel most myself. The French accent seems softer here, and the…

Magnum ice cream bars, Compiègne, France

I used to think I was accustomed to heat from growing up on the farm and unloading hay bales in high-barn heat, but that was nothing compared to this.  It was July 2010, and I was backpacking along the Western Front of World War I with my companion Lynn.  The trip consisted of walking for…

Friday Photo: Bruges and the Belgian Friterie

I was fifteen when I first tasted it: French fries “drowned in” mayonnaise, as explained by Vincent Vega in the 1994 movie Pulp Fiction.  It was a Sunday afternoon in Holland in July 2000; my brother Chris and I were visiting my three cousins, and my uncle allowed us to watch TV while munching on…

Friday Photo: Markets Around the World

I am fascinated by stores: sparkling cheap jewelry made to look expensive only in bright lighting, polished plates in geometric shapes, the shelves of spices in the baking aisle, the spines of new books.  I adore entering a Sheetz and twirling amid the Twix bars to my right, and suddenly being distracted by the Chex…

Friday Photo: Doritos Birthday Love

“What do I find priceless about [Pennsylvania]?  Fall colors.  Open spaces.  School buses.  Soft cookies.  Bacon.  Beautiful Hollywood cinematography.  Swedish fish.  DORITOS NACHO CHEESE.” –  my journal, March 8, 2008, Talange, France * In the course of human events, I’ve learned that my deepest life loves seem to be more evident to me when I’m…

Tales of Pennsylvania Peppermint

A few months ago, I bought a tall can of organic dried peppermint from the Broad Street Market and tucked it into my cabinet next to the espresso machine.  I think I bought the peppermint tea purely out of nostalgia. I hadn’t drunk mint tea in years.  I, in posh old age, had graduated to…

Harrisburg, ‘Hardship,’ and Tropical Storm Lee

I have been homeless once before. Okay, okay, not in the dirty-in-the-gutter kind of homeless, where the money in my pocket is all I have to my name and I am sprouting an unshaven beard.  And as I write this on a dreary, barely-raining day, my cat is purring in my lap and I’m sipping…