If on a winter’s night, a traveler…no, no…that’s Italo Calvino’s latest book.

Let me start again.

If on a winter’s day, a professor…ah, yes, this one is me.

If on a winter’s day, a professor skids on ice past snowy partially covered gold domes to the wide and windy portico, passes the stone-faced security guards, ignores the need for coffee, and arrives in her office feeling confident that perhaps, the day will hold few surprises, clearly, she is out of touch with reality.

She knows better.

Her gut told her, but she did not listen.

She was too busy taking…


Even the trees suffering from crown shyness, an ailment I learned about recently, engulf me. Those beautiful, usually green creatures, looming above my head, enrapture me. Some like bristlecone pines, standing alone, bask in the sun while others reflect the sun’s rays. A few grab one another, shutting out new growth, creating dark canopies. Then there are the talking trees, the ones showing up in books or films, expressing their wisdom or mysterious proclamations.

Recently I’ve been thinking that maybe…perhaps I’ve become a bit frightened of walking in the woods, a frequent activity during much of my life. Lots of…


Remembering a Mother’s Dying Days

What if my memory of my mother’s dying is not accurate?

What if she didn’t die in a small, hilltop tuberculosis hospital in Southern Ohio? What if she didn’t die, weighing 69 pounds while her two daughters waited outside, wondering why she held on to her life?

These adjectives, nouns, and verbs have been part of my psyche for more decades than I care to acknowledge but never have I considered that they may not be accurate ones.

Maybe she died in a chintz covered room in Beverly Hills. Perhaps she died with well wishing…


Lawnmower Country Life

It’s after 8 pm. The lawnmower purrs, more like a rattling loud hum, three doors down from where I am staying with a friend. The Doppler effect is in full motion here, I note, as the sound increases and decreases.

A Carolina wren or is it a hooded warbler chirps, settles in for the night while a Northern Bobwhite signals to a mate news about the immediate vicinity. The neighborhood I see from the second floor deck is one filled with locust, ash, catalpa and other leafy specimens of healthy foliage.

Two days ago I photographed my…


See You Again in Pyongyang, Travis Jeppeson’s book about his journey as a student at Kim Hyong Jik University in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea transported me thousands of miles away from where I am or want to be. Precisely what a good book should do for the reader. Another good find from the Dollar Tree, I remind myself.

Maybe you don’t shop at Dollar Tree. That’s ok. Probably I’ll still like you anyway. Maybe there is not a Dollar Tree in your area, like the towns I discovered this summer in upstate Michigan. Maybe you shop only online. Whatever…


I’m tired.

That’s all there is too it. I’m tired. It’s been one thing after another major irritation for weeks now. I fear the only fun I’m going to be having is the one that is part of the word funeral.

I don’t want to have to greet anyone, arrange anything to meet them, to plan, to evaluate a plan, to complete a plan. I don’t want to schedule anything, anytime, with or for anyone.

And that’s just me. I bet you have your own list of what you do and don’t want to do.

My summer has been consumed…


“You’ve got the cutest little baby face…”, music created by Harry Akst and lyrics by Benny Davis in the mid 1920’s, may not have described me but I hoped it had. Ethel, my babysitter, told me that it was my late father’s favorite song.

The tin pan piano scratchy sounds played through an old floor mounted wooden Victrola that I had seen only at her house. We had an ancient pump organ at our house, a nonworking floor model radio stored away in a closet, and a new transistor radio but nothing on which to hear music from a vinyl…


Saturday night at Big Joe’s with Fred on Lake Huron

I finished off the best pizza I’d had in three years. Again, I questioned what the nearby trees might be that looked in July as if they were only now discovering spring time weather. A nine hole golf course lay in front of me. The chatty realtor and her husband at the table next to me gave me her card, saying she hoped we could meet when they visited Monterey next year on their 40th wedding anniversary. If they didn’t go to Ireland.

The young server, the one who apologized…


Living with Dirt

Often I’ve said, “I know clean. I want clean. But I don’t do clean well”. My way of saying that I’m thankful for those folk who make their livelihood from cleaning. Now, I may have to learn clean.

The Prius is filthy, road weary from driving cross-country. I’d take it to my favorite car wash, assuming they are open post-COVID but there’s a glitch. The car, dusty from back roads driven in Wisconsin…or were they in Nebraska, is packed, stuffed. with my suitcase, camping chairs, sleeping bags, books I picked up along the way, extra water should…


Remembering My Three…or More Favorite Meals

Everyone. No, not everyone but most…adults have had a favorite meal in their lives, one that brings back fond memories of the food, the place, or the people with whom they shared it.

Three come to mind for me.

One that first comes to mind occurred when I was studying for my doctoral comprehensive exams. I rented a small, quiet place, designed for solitude and focus which I needed, at the spectacular rocky Oregon coast. For a few days a former colleague who had become a friend joined me. She knew about food. I…

Barbara Cole, Ph.D.

Traveler (80 countries), Writer (fiction/nonfiction), Reader (unlimited), Manager(corporate/startups), Driver (2 dozen countries). Loves comedy, food, life.

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