Not Your Everyday Christmas Story

I’d been thinking of republishing last year’s Christmas blog post, but today, just as Santa is harnessing the reindeer and filling his sleigh with toys in preparation for tonight’s globe-girdling ride, I’m recalling another long-ago Christmas event that I hope readers will find of interest. This was one of our family’s many holiday gatherings in […]

Guns, not Butter

The “Czar Cannon,” cast in 1586, stands in the Kremlin. Former U.S. and Russian presidents Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev provide perspective on its size. Here, from my personal recollection, is an interesting footnote to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 38 years ago this month (Dec. 24, 1979). It illustrates the overarching principle governing Soviet […]

California Wine Country: Still Open for Business

  Wine Country It’s now been almost two months since the outbreak of the fires that wrought havoc in Sonoma and Napa counties – and, especially, in Santa Rosa. Plenty of ink has been spilled on articles and photos documenting the destruction. If you, the reader, are not from this area and would like an […]

Another Memorable Thanksgiving

I’d been considering re-posting the blog item I wrote last year at this time, My Most Memorable Thanksgiving, when I recalled another unconventional celebration of this wonderful holiday from my boyhood. I was perhaps 6 or 7 at the time, and my parents were going to do something unusual for the four-day weekend. They decided […]

Bolshevik Revolution – A Somber Centenary

The defining moment of the October Revolution, as Soviet propaganda wished the world to see it. Like so much else in the Soviet version of history, it is a false picture. As a student of Russia, I find it impossible to ignore the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, which took place this past Tuesday, […]

Choose the Flooze

Sandra on Oahu’s North Shore Today is the birthday of my life’s companion, Sandra Kelley. It brings to mind the most memorable surprise party I can recall – Sandra’s 50th, in 1996. As it happened, November 5 fell on Election Day that year, which presented a great party theme. The trick, for me, as Conspirator-in-Chief, […]

A Secret Place With a Delightful Surprise – Fort Valley

Dry Run Church, Fort Valley, Virginia, with western ridge of Massanutten Mountain in background During our recent trip east to visit with kids and grandkids and attend my 55th high school reunion, Sandra and I had a free day and drove to Fort Valley, one of my favorite places in the Appalachians, about an hour […]

Santa Rosa Firestorm

Burned-out ruins of Cricklewood restaurant (see below) For us, it all began with a 3 a.m. text message from our daughter Melissa. Actually, it was about 6 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 9, where Sandra and I were, but 3 o’clock in California, where Melissa was. She, her husband Julian, daughter Amarie and two dogs had […]

55 Years and Counting

That’s me – the kid with his hand on the pile of books – as a freshman at Asbury Park High School in 1958. Yesterday, I attended the 55th reunion of my Asbury Park (N.J.) High School class of 1962. It prompts me to write this week about my coolest extracurricular involvement there: with our […]

Culture Shock

CHI Summer Abroad participant with Kenyan students at the CHI Academy outside Nairobi A few weeks ago I attended a fundraising breakfast for Children’s Humanitarian International (CHI), a Sonoma County charitable organization for which I’ve been providing a good deal of writing and editing assistance over the past several years. CHI is the creation of […]