Is America Falling Behind?

Visiting our near neighbor reminds this on-edge American that it really doesn’t have to be this way.

Life as it Once Was: A Backwater Peninsula on Puget Sound

The Key Peninusula has been home to anarchists, millionaires, loggers, and poets. It remains the summer refuge for whatever the opposite of a snowbird is.

Remembering: No Innocence

It’s not that there haven’t been murders, tragedies and hideous injustices in the past. There have. But were they so “normalized” as they seem now to be?

Leaving it to the Kooks: Alberta Premier Abruptly Quits After Railing Against “Lunatics”

“What’s the easiest path for me?” Jason Kenney asked.  “Just to take a walk. I don’t need the job. I could go into the private sector, have my evenings, weekends off. I don’t say this stuff publicly, there are just kooky people generally."

Italy — The Music Returns

"The music is back. Audiences are eagerly returning."

Idaho’s Battle of the Republicans

Some are drawn to a “white homeland” movement which dreams of turning northern reaches of the Inland Northwest into a refuge from America’s growing diversity and multiculturalism.

Travel Tips from an Expat in Italy

"High on most people’s list are three cities: Rome, Venice, and Florence."

Rebate to Nowhere: British Columbia’s Feckless Fuel Folly

While governments put money in peoples’ hands, they tend to reach into taxpayers’ pockets.

Five Reasons Why Idaho is Off my List of Travel Destinations for Now

The new laws concerning abortion, guns, book-banning, and vaccines will be bad for tourism, a key industry in Idaho, but most Idaho businesses have been silent.

Italy: Fast Language, Slow Bureaucracy (and a Personal Challenge)

Perhaps the greatest challenge I’ve encountered is not linguistic or social, but physical.

BC Premier: Let’s “Get Back to Things We Love” as Province Relaxes COVID Rules

B.C. Premier John Horgan observed: “I absolutely understand the right of people to dissent to public policy. I come from a party of dissent.  I don’t recall at any time participating in anything that involved threats and intimidation to other citizens.”

Canadian “Freedom Convoy” Fizzles as Anti-Vaxers Sputter

In a strong political position, Trudeau has shown no truck for the caravan or the shivering protest.  He warned last week that a “small fringe minority” was manipulating the protest.

Joan Didion’s Hawaii

Unwavering eyes, like a microscope, the quintessential observer grabs you by the lapels and gives you a good hard shake. Reading her is like having a candle lit inside you.

Italian Lessons: Sociability versus Efficiency

I was given a prescription by the surgeon to address the recovery process. One day, there was a knock on the door, which I answered it in my pajamas and robe. It was the local pharmacist, asking if I needed any refills. I had never imagined a pharmacist making house calls.

Canada: Battered by Climate Change and Growing Political Division

Canada is, at this moment, a stormy place. The Great White North is a physically battered country.

BC’s Perfect Storm: Housing Prices Jump And Homelessness Comes to a Small Town

The colliding factors include a very rapid rise in housing prices, up 31 percent in the “Comox Valley” this year. What had been an affordable area for people fleeing the sky-high cost of housing in metro-Vancouver has now affected small towns and rural areas.

An Unexpected Kindness

In our little Italian village, an extended construction project across the street turns into an opportunity for unexpected kindness.

Postcard from Zurich: Connections to Home

It’s not that homelessness is nonexistent. There’s just not a lot – well, practically none – compared to U.S. cities. Still, there’s enough to make the Swiss nervous.

With a Little Help From our Friends…

We had to learn how to live all over again – where to shop, where to find things, where to go when we had a problem, who to ask our questions – but learn we did. 

Venice is Back in Business. Sort of

Along with this diaspora of ordinary working families went most of the local shops and cafes. Long gone are the little shops carrying clothing and jewelry made in an adjacent room. Also gone are the small, quirky galleries selling authentic works of hand-blown Murano glass. They have been replaced by shops carrying mass-produced tchotchkes for tourists who want souvenirs to cram into their carry-on bags. 

Cats as Traffic-Calming Devices

No one wants to be blamed for harming a cat aleeping in the lane. Drivers really pay attention and watch the road. After four years, I know now all the cats by sight. I have not noticed any missing

The Perils of Being an Electric Car Pioneer

A German company that supplies charging posts recently conducted a survey of car buyers and found that at least 30 percent were very skeptical of electric cars. The greatest fear was being stuck somewhere with a car that cannot move.

Letter from Santa Fe: The “City Different”

Santa Fe is a unique and bewitching place, rich with cultural amenities, surrounded by stunning countryside and with lots of progressive thinking. It's a place where one can make friends easily, receive more types of alternative health treatments than ever imagined, and feast on the famed regional cuisine.

Justin Trudeau Calls An Election: A Short Primer on Canadian Politics

Why now? The polls look favorable, Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination rate tops that of “the States,” and Trudeau’s government has doled out billions in aid to soften pandemic impacts. 

So You Want to Visit Italy (Or Better Yet, Move There). Here’s How

First, let’s clear up a couple of common misconceptions. Anyone can buy property in Italy; one does not need to be a citizen or even a legal resident. However, without a specific visa, one is limited to staying a maximum of 90 days in a 180 period.

Nicholas Kristof — The Next Governor of Oregon?

A columnist has only one boss, his editor, who can also stand between him and angry detractors. A governor—even a candidate for governor—is naked against the scorn. Even veterans of other offices are often surprised by how incredibly personal being a governor can be, and how lonely. 

At Last! Back to BC. Here’s Where to Go

It will be grand to cross the (water and land) boundary again and share the region. A writer for Macleans, the Canadian magazine, once described British Columbians as a privileged people surrounded entirely by envy.

Beleaguered Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler Faces Recall

The recall movement, which claims to have close to 200 volunteers, began just last Friday, July 9, hours after city regulators approved the filing, and organizer have until September 6 to collect the necessary valid signatures.

The Oregon Coast: Lots Of Jobs But Nowhere to Live

“In the past, we’ve hired people living out of their cars. We had one kid from somewhere in the Midwest who worked a deal at a motel so he could shower there, and then he’d sleep in his car.”

Postcard from Wallowa: Heat in the Northwest Back Country

I’m worrying about the unseasonable heat along with the heightened potential for wildfires. It seems like climate change is shouting at us, but our hearing isn’t very good.