Monday, January 30, 2023

Quote of the Day -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson


According to Wikipedia, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803– 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, abolitionist, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and his ideology was disseminated through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

We Scarfed Up Views of Mostar's Iconic Bridge

In the fall of 2017, Jim and I took an Overseas Adventure Travel trip called Crossroads of the Adriatic. We had visited Europe quite a few times on our own, but this felt like part of the world where we would enjoy the comfort of having someone else figure out the logistics. We had also discovered the value of having a knowledgeable guide to really learn about the people, the history, and the culture instead of just admiring the monuments and the scenery.

Our guide for this trip (OAT now calls them Trip Experience Leaders) was a young Croatian woman named Bruna. Her English was impeccable, her knowledge was deep, her people management skills were excellent, and she was always thoroughly prepared. Bruna was the embodiment of the maxim that women have to be twice as good, twice as prepared, to be equal. And yet, one of our fellow travelers (a retired professional woman!) remarked that Bruna was so cute...  Bruna was indeed very attractive, but cute? Argh! We've come a long way baby, but we still have a long way to go.

One of the stops on this journey was Mostar, home to the iconic bridge. Mostar is a delightful town with cobblestone streets and picturesque byways. It is also home to many athletic and insane (in my opinion) young men who jump off that bridge into the water. You can see them perched at the peak, either ready to jump or to encourage their compatriots.

Fashion is not my forte, but I am known for my love of scarfs and my huge collection, acquired all over the world. Sadly, I have forgotten the origin of quite a few of them. By 2017, I had vowed not to buy any more scarves on our travels, even though they fit so easily into our suitcase. However... I couldn't resist this hand-painted gem from one of the lovely little shops in Mostar. I assuaged my guilt by hanging it above my dresser instead of wearing it. It's really too pretty to wear anyway.

And we love to have mementos of favorite places adorning our walls and shelves. This wood-carving from a handicraft stand on one of the steep cobblestone streets seemed like a perfect way to remember Mostar.

Yep... lots of scarves... 

Quote of the Day -- Melody Beattie

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written.
-- Melody Beattie

Melody Beattie is an American author of self-help literature focusing on recovery and codependence.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Budapest -- Adventuring Outside our Comfort Zone

In 2006, Jim and I decided to plan a European trip for our 35th anniversary. We took advantage of an offer from non-defunct Northwest Airlines to fly cheaply between European cities, so we picked three. I'd been traveling internationally for business for a few years and had a couple favorites that I really wanted Jim to see -- Prague and Stockholm. I also wanted a new city and country, so Budapest was our third entry. At the time, venturing to Eastern Europe felt daring and exotic. And Hungary felt infused with a romantic mystique, perhaps because strains of Dvorak floated through my head.

Budapest did not disappoint. It brims with Old World charm. Stately buildings. Very walkable. Cafes and restaurants abound. Stunning flower gardens. We visited Budapest after Prague. And of course we loved Prague! But in 2006, Budapest felt very much like an untouched Prague. It had a similar look and feel with much less evidence of Western influence.

And of course we were spellbound by the iconic Parliament building that features so prominently on the Viking River Cruise advertisements. We enjoyed Budapest so much that we didn't hesitate to make it one of our few "repeats." 

By either serendipity or good planning, our visit to Budapest coincided with Cindy and Austin's itinerary on their European adventure. We put them up in the Marriott for a few nights (nice change from youth hostels). We enjoyed good food, ice cream, the hot springs, and watching world cup soccer in the town square. Jim and I acquired a couple lovely needlepoints from local women that will always remind me of our adventure in Budapest with Cindy and Austin. 

In 2012, a break in our work schedules and a "good deal" found us on an Eastern European river cruise (Viking) from Budapest to Bucharest. We were excited to venture beyond our Western Europe comfort zone, further into Eastern Europe. It was our first river cruise, and we loved it. We could usually walk right off the small boat into the heart of the port city. And the clientele were mostly serious travelers, not the type to lounge at the pool, drink heavily, and smoke in the casino. (I know... my travel snobbery is showing.) 

Over the course of the 2 weeks, we established a pattern that has served us well in our many trips since. We acquired "travel buddies" who became our frequent dinner companions and walking partners in our free time. More than 10 years later, we still enjoy the wonderful friendship of Stu and Kirsten. Plus they led us to India and Overseas Adventure Travel, but that's another story.

Quote of the Day -- Thomas Paine

Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered,” Paine wrote, “yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

-- Thomas Paine

According to Wikipedia, Thomas Paine (1737- 1809) was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, and revolutionary. He authored Common Sense and The American Crisis, two of the most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Quote of the Day -- Scarlett Thomas

You know, I haven't been able to look at flowers the same way since I learnt about the Fibonacci sequence," Violet says, stroking the pink daisies with her thin white hand as we walk along the wall. "I don't know which is better: simple beauty with no explanation, or knowing exactly how and why seed pods are organized.

-- Scarlett Thomas
Scarlett Thomas is an English author who writes contemporary postmodern fiction. She has published ten novels, including The End of Mr. Y and PopCo, as well as the Worldquake series of children's books, and Monkeys With Typewriters, a book on how to unlock the power of storytelling. (Wikipedia)

Monday, January 16, 2023

Quote of the Day -- Scott Simon

George Orwell’s 1946 essay, “Politics and the English Language,” cautioned against writing with cliches or academic, corporate, scientific and polemical jargon. He believed such language doesn’t communicate, elucidate or inform. It simply strings together pre-approved phrases to sound important.

I therefore offer a vow for 2023: 

I will try not to say “skill set” when I mean skills. Or “optics” unless I’m talking about how a camera works. Or “granular” unless its sand or salt. I will try not to call a 5-minute radio story a “deep dive” unless it’s about scuba diving. I won’t say “unpack” unless it’s in reference to a suitcase, or “price point” when I just mean what something costs, or “baked in” unless it’s a chocolate chip cookie. I won’t say “inflection point” when I mean a change in direction, or “curate” when I just mean put together. I won’t say “end of the day” until 6 p.m. And I’ll try not to call almost any group of people with something in common a “community” — Merriam-Webster: People with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society — unless, of course, they’re actually living together, or at least close by.

-- Scott Simon


Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy. -- From NPR Bio page.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Quote of the Day -- James Clear

What starts as an excuse can easily become a habit. Don't let a bad day become a lifestyle.

-- James Clear


 James Clear is a widely respected speaker and writer who focuses on habits and self-improvement. His best-selling book Atomic Habits has sold over 5 million copies.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Quote of the Day -- James Clear

Your entire life happens inside your body. It's the one home you will always occupy and can never sell.

But you can renovate it.

If you can only pick one habit to build, exercise might be the one. Everything is downstream from how your body is functioning.

-- James Clear


James Clear is a widely respected speaker and writer who focuses on habits and self-improvement. His best-selling book Atomic Habits has sold over 5 million copies.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Quote of the Day -- Wallace Stevens

Her green mind made the world around her green.

-- Wallace Stevens


According to the Poetry Foundation, Wallace Stevens (1879 - 1955) is one of America’s most respected 20th century poets. He was a master stylist, employing an extraordinary vocabulary and a rigorous precision in crafting his poems. But he was also a philosopher of aesthetics, vigorously exploring the notion of poetry as the supreme fusion of the creative imagination and objective reality.