The Biltmore Estate – stoking my Downton Abbey flame

The popularity of Downton Abbey has surely increased the number of wanna-be upstairs dwellers (or wanna be downstairs dwellers) who visit the aristocratic mansions of wealthy Americans who lived during the same time period.  My appreciation for the Biltmore historic château, home of the famed Vanderbilt dynasty, would not be nearly as great if I… Read More The Biltmore Estate – stoking my Downton Abbey flame

Chicago’s German Christmas market – context gives pleasure

The young German sipped a mug of gluhwein and chatted with his American buddy.  Standing behind us, he spoke with a thick German accent.  “You can go to L.A., New York, you don’t see a Christmas market like this.”  There you have it.  America’s Second City boasts the country’s largest, most authentic German Christkindlmarket.  The… Read More Chicago’s German Christmas market – context gives pleasure

Parental pride at the President’s house – Monticello, Virginia

On the east coast of the United States historic sites are as numerous as the dust bunnies on my floor.  There are a lot.  And instead of cleaning my house and sweeping dust wads, we are being intentional about visiting some of those sites.  Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, was our most recent victim.  Little Peanut… Read More Parental pride at the President’s house – Monticello, Virginia

The boring meerkat, ubiquitous squirrel and chocolate acorn

Squirrels are America’s meerkat.  The locals don’t bat an eye at them, but the visitor finds them fascinating.  While living in East Africa, meerkats were boring.  Meerkats, meerkats, more meerkats.  At the American zoo, they draw crowds.  I haven’t seen North American squirrels in a zoo in Africa (embarrassing disclaimer: I haven’t been to a… Read More The boring meerkat, ubiquitous squirrel and chocolate acorn

American Road Trip (Part IV): Passionate handworking

We met people enjoying, relishing, yea, even thriving, doing work with their hands.  There’s something pleasantly appealing about people who work slowly, steadily and are rewarded with a visually stunning piece of handiwork.  We met several such artisans this summer as we crossed the country.  Some had small craft shops, some were simple hobbyists and… Read More American Road Trip (Part IV): Passionate handworking

American Road Trip (Part II): Coffee in the shadow of the Little Bighorn Battlefield

On some days of this trip our goal is to cover miles, not stop at every point of interest.  We do have to get to our final destination this summer. . . But we couldn’t pass up the National Historic Landmark at the Little Bighorn Battlefield.  Americans are taught about the historic events that took place among… Read More American Road Trip (Part II): Coffee in the shadow of the Little Bighorn Battlefield

American Road Trip (Part I): Father’s Day Melee at Multnomah Falls

Cinnamon coated almonds could be one of the more mischievously decorated nuts. I call them spiced nuts, as cinnamon is one of my favorite spices; although my wife reminds me that the second ingredient in the cinnamon almonds carried by Trader Joe’s is sugar, arguably to encourage the cinnamon to remain affixed to the almond.… Read More American Road Trip (Part I): Father’s Day Melee at Multnomah Falls