Planet Earth Part 2: SwissLand

A Note: Much, much more to my time here than recyling centers and Christmas markets, but before I lose these moments, I’ll send along some weekend photos.
It is probably stating the too-obvious to say that the Cronins are NOT in Kansas anymore!

Recycling Day @ the Commune (entirely DIY)


Chris & Gus make a weekly drive to the Commune recycling center (open Saturdays, and “for about 10 minutes on Wednesday”).  A Commune Card allows entrance.

Augustine neatly lobs a bottle into the WHITE (vs BROWN or GREEN) glass bin.

Christmas Market ! 

It’s a huge (“largest in French-speaking Switzerland”) covered market in nearby Morges.

Planet Earth, Part 1: The Melissa Project

Melissa means “bee” in Greek,  a nod to the dedication of the young women who go there every weekday for Greek, English, poetry, art, knitting…I taught English at this Greek nonprofit for part of November-December.

img_9546For too short a time, I worked with women who mostly spoke Arabic and Farsi, and who came from the shelters, camps, and squats spread across Athens. I have many photos, and when I see you in person sometime, I’d love to share. For now, here’s a lesson from the first day . Melissa students are the most eager I’ve ever known, and the administrators, teachers, and other volunteers, the most committed. Lots more to do there, lots of people doing it, and I’d love to return

I’d walk back to Elizabeth’s studio at night, grateful, tired, hungry. I  often stopped for dinner in the neighborhood, Exarchia — 

img_9491For me, as  welcome in cool weather as in hot. Only the color of the wine changes! 

Athens’ Exarcheia: “An empty wall is a lonely wall/An empty wall is a sad wall.”

                  Rainy day, unforgiving marble stairs, so I trod carefully, the better to see it all. 


“As you set out on the way to Ithaca, hope the voyage is a long one… “

It will take 4 minutes to listen to Sean Connery read  C.P. Cavafy’s “ITHACA.”    Aside from being the place Odysseus left, Ithaca is also where he returned, utterly changed. Some have said that “Ithaca” is about the journey. So here we go —

No photos of yesterday’s odyssey from San Francisco to Athens, but the memory of some moments worth savoring, all of them involving the latest in travel gear for those long hauls through Trump-size international airports. A WHEELCHAIR.   Really, it’s amazing what you can take in from that perch.

There was the family of young and old women in gold and red saris in San Francisco – headed home for a visit. Or a funeral, as I think.

By Rome, the sense of being shepherded or rather, sherpa-ed, came  more easily.  I sat back in my chair and saw shops I’d never really attended to back in the day when I was always  focused on dragging myself and my carry-on to the gate in time:  the scents of seafood from a seafood restaurant (L’Osteria Dell’Orologio, I think), could make you change your mind about leaving Rome.  And the shops! Armani (jeans only), Boggi Milano, Bulgari, Vasari (“ottico” – eyeglass frames only, I think)…

At JFK,   I had  befriended the woman sitting in a wheelchair next to mine,  who explained she was traveling “to be home for 6 or 7 months.” By the time we arrived in Rome,  I understood her English and she understood my very broken Italian.  But she wasn’t stopping in Italy; I mean  I thought she understood my Italian, until we had been wheeled  into  the outdoor lift, called an   “elevator-to-plane,”  which was our method of  boarding the plane to Athens – no stairs for us! She explained that she had “much family near Athens,” and I suddenly realized she wasn’t Italian at all, wasn’t going to visit Greece — this woman was going home to Greece!

That also explained why, after our Italian lunch courtesy of  Alitalia,  she slipped  her hand delicately into a ziplok snack bag and took out a piece of Greek lemon shortbread she’d made the night before at her home in Connecticut: “Lemon. Like Greece. You like.” I loved that she  wasn’t posing a  question. My mouth full, I wiped crumbs from my chin and   nodded an enthusiastic endorsement  as we got into our chairs and were pushed – before everybody else –   towards the airport exit.

It really is a white city, isn’t it?



Thanksgiving evening in the garden, Hotel Brazil

 Pleased to say that not even Japan’s latest production line could break the peace —

Autumn Visits: 2016

Worcester with Lei, Matt, and Mary

The Ecotarium , great for young scientists, artists, dancers, parents, grandparents…

40th in Switzerland

On the morning of her birthday, Teresa headed out for the fourth time to try for a Driver’s License

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The Great Chiang Mai Get-Together


It’s part of why I came back in February — I’d heard about the flowers, didn’t imagine it was a festival to rival the you-know-which-state’s State Fair.

I left from here with the kids … 



Lots to see and to do,  as the students set up their booth- full of purses, backpacks, key chains ( which some village people make for the kids to sell)…& food.       

  No more photos of the kids, who finally packed it in at 10pm, but speaking of food–

En route to a booth



   Light batter, rolled sausage(hot dog)



 Hard-boiled eggs-on-a-stick




 …and on and on it went.  


Beyond food, jewelry, clothes…

 Jackets selling fast, as the Mercury dipped below 80 in the a.m.  

Finally- I left at 7:30, it started at 9(-ish) – The Flower Parade. 

Some  random photo videos here —


  Yes, that is his brow being wiped – by 10, it was getting warm.


   Replica of The Three PrincesMonument…

LIVE replica–

Many,many more flowered floats, but IMHO —BEST IN SHOW….  

PS So, perhaps it’s  not like the Minnesota State  Fair at all  — have I been away so long, that it just felt like it for awhile? Probably. 

Or as one MN friend who knows this place well has put it, “You’re becoming allergic to Mai Pen Rai…”  Someday, I’ll explain, or try to. For now, experiencing it (Mai Pen Tai) as I am, it is enough to say I’m finding life here boulversant/amazing. 



7 Gopurams: Trichy’s Sri Ranganathaswamy

This  temple complex is more like a small city, with its 49 separate shrines and 7 gopurams: the last one,  added about 30 years ago, at 73m. is one of Asia’s tallest temple towers.

I wandered through streets of shops selling the area’s famous kitchen ironware, and clay incense-holders  and ghee-lamps,  as well as  geegaws of all sorts.  It wasn’t too hot yet, so I took my time, milling along  with women in red saris (a wedding? temple visit?), men in dhotis long and short, motorbikes, auto-and a few bike-rickshaws. 


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Leaving, I looked back and my eyes and camera lens landed on this man – sadhu? shopkeeper?


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