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Permission or Warning?

I chuckled when I came upon this sign recently in my travels.

As I thought it over later, however, I wondered if the sign was granting permission or issuing a warning. Guess I’ll never know for sure. . . . CONTINUE READING: Permission or Warning?

Travel • Muse

Paris When It Sizzles

“Pinch me,” says Susan as we cross the Seine from the Left Bank to face the sun-drenched Gothic towers of Notre Dame. “I can’t believe we’re back here.”

We peel off jackets and join the throngs of tourists and worshippers outside the Cathedral. Despite the lyrics of the Cole Porter song – “I love Paris in the summer, when it sizzles” – it’s only April, but the temperature this afternoon sizzles near 80.

We’ve visited Paris at earlier stages of our lives – nine years ago with our teenagers, when we witnessed a suicide at the Eiffel Tower and a young woman in some ecstatic trance dropping her dress at Chartres Cathedral; 25 years ago, during our disastrous Open Relationship period before we had children; and separately back in 1968, long before we met, when Susan spent a year in a study abroad program and I coincidentally buzzed through Paris on a speedy trek across Europe with my college roommates. . . . CONTINUE READING: Paris When It Sizzles



In a corner of my back yard, surrounded by drop cloths, my heavy pink rubber gloves caked in caustic, brownish gunk, I gingerly brushed paint remover on an old metal file cabinet, then scraped off layers of paint. From time to time, I cursed bitterly after inadvertently touching a bare elbow or exposed knee to the cabinet, wincing as the gelatinous, napalm-like paint remover instantly burned my flesh, and ran for the cooling relief of the garden hose.

Why was I stripping the paint from this old thing? I needed a four-drawer file cabinet. It wasn’t an antique or an interesting piece, and its quality level, even when new, was modest at best, but functional. And it came free. But free has its own price.

Just a short time ago, this innocuous piece of furniture was discarded by my wife Susan’s school after decades of service, clad in its original olive drab, a bit rusty and dented in spots, scratched and belabeled. Serendipity! We were repainting my home office at the time, and I needed file space to organize my writing and teaching paraphernalia. I snagged it and dumped it in our driveway.

Weeks later, I was finally ready . . . CONTINUE READING: Monument