Monday, February 02, 2015

groundhog day . . .

It's Groundhog Day. Again . . .

I'm from Pittsburgh and we make a very big deal about Groundhog Day. I love this film and we can learn a lot about ourselves from it. I'm grateful that most days are different from one another . . . Happy Groundhog Day!

Sunday, February 01, 2015

fair is fair . . .

Every 5 year old, regardless of race, religion or country of origin, knows that one of the basic principles of life has to do with being "fair."  You can hear the cries on the playground, "Not fair. Do over."  They are willing to share the only cookie with 1 or 2 or even 3 others, but they each insist that the pieces be equal. They cry out of frustration when they believe that something isn't fair.

And yet, as we grow older, most people seem to want the lion's share of whatever the hell it is.  If one receives less, they shout, "It isn't fair." But for many, dare I say most, they want more than you have and will shove you out of the way to get it.

I have spent my adult life looking at this issue.  I don't think there is a person more fair than me on planet Earth.  I tend to look at the entire situation before deciding what's fair and what isn't.  Got to say this has not gotten me very far, nor has it earned my ANY respect.  In fact, I would said just the opposite.  I would venture to say that others think I am weak because I don't have an agenda nor do I try to take advantage or get an edge up on others. The word "stupid" has even been used.  A friend of mine asked me a few years ago, "Who told you that life was supposed to be fair?"

Well, my conclusion is this.  Yeah, maybe life isn't fair but people should be. And if you aren't, then something is wrong with you, not me. . .

Thursday, January 15, 2015

no time . . .

I'm a blogger who doesn't have time to blog. Now, what's wrong with that? In the past couple of weeks I've seen and learned about things that require reflection and I just don't have the time or energy to address my life.

A couple of weeks ago on a sunny Sunday morning Luís and I decided to take a ride out to Colares to go to the market. We take the route along the coast as it's such a beautiful drive. As we were driving up the hill from Malveira to Azoia an emergency vehicle passed us with a blaring siren. By the time we reached the crest of the hill we happened upon a motorcycle accident. There were 3 motorcycles and men strewn across the road. The EMT's were helping one of the victims. He was bleeding and they had put something under his head so that his face and head were protected.  As I drove carefully through this scene, which was like something out of a movie,  I looked around me and took it all in. I focused on one body. It was still. It was soooooo still. He was dead. You just knew it. You could actually feel it. The lifelessness of the man lying face-down on the cold concrete unattended and alone despite the spectators milling around . . .    They closed the road to traffic only minutes shortly thereafter and it stayed closed for the better part of 4 hours. Later that evening this story opened the news: 2 dead and 1 hanging onto life as a result of a motorcycle collision.

So many lives changed in a split second. . .

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year

journey to peace . . .

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

You can take the girl out of the USA, but your can't that the USA out of the girl. Some traditions are keepers. Hope you have lots to be thankful for.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday morning . . .

fall in my neck of the woods . . .

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

100 years ago . . .

My morning walks have taken an interesting turn in the past few days.  It seems that someone is reminding us daily as to the events of WW1.  Each day a new declaration is added to this wall and we watch (in retrospect) as the world goes mad.  WW1 was to be the war to end all wars.

With all the problems that we are facing today it is clear that we haven't made much progress in the past 100 years. . .

Sunday, July 20, 2014

the thing is . . .

I ran up to the corner store a few minutes ago to get some chicken and a couple little round cheeses that are tasty and cheap as chips.  When I was checking out I noticed that I was being charged a little more for each of the cheeses and asked about it. I was told the price (per cheese) which was not the price that was displayed in the dairy section. The difference was only pennies and I have no dispute with raising the price nor with the new price - the product is still a good quality/price value.  My problem is with the fact that they raised the price and didn't change the pricing in the cooler. I have a problem with the sloppiness in which they conduct their business.

As I write this, one of the families in my building is moving out.  The young woman has beautiful things hanging on her walls. Her apartment was on the first floor and you could see into her apartment in the evening. Her blinds are kept open and with the lights on inside we can get a glimpse into her life. I am watching her movers (40 something well-built guys who should have a bit of experience under their belts) load up the van (yes, it's a van not a truck) and I've noticed that they did not even "masking tape" her pictures let alone wrap them properly to help prevent breakage.  And I hope, even though I barely know this girl, that her things arrive at her new place in the same condition as they left here as her apartment was a home not just a bunch of stuff shoved into a rental unit and only serving a practical purpose.

While neither of these examples is earth-shaking or a clear indicator of the decline of western civilization, they are however, examples of our general slide into apathy or a general cultural/ethical malaise. Nothing deserves our attention. "Good enough" or "close enough" is now the standard.

The thing is that these days I find myself a teacher and I'm trying to instruct my students to do their best. It doesn't make my job any easier or the world a better place if the "good enough" attitude becomes the norm.

At the risk of sounding redundant I will, once again, stress that I hope my surgeon, anesthesiologist, dentist, banker, car manufacturer, lawyer, and pharmacist to name a few, each prove to have a healthy work ethic and strive for something better than "good enough."

Side note: Went back to my little market and found that the price of the cheese is now correctly marked in the cooler;-)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

a day at the beach . . .

Mornings at the beach in July are interesting. School is out but parents are still working. The kids are in day care centers and day camps. Since we are just a hop, skip, and jump away from the ocean, the kids are loaded into cars, vans and buses for a morning at the beach.  They walk from the parking lot in two-by-two holding hands. They are usually recognizable by their hats.  We have green hats, red hats, blue hats. Well, you get the idea. The adults in charge try to mark territory using shoes and backpacks to help contain the little ones.

The beach is totally full of little kids darting this way and that.

I can think of nothing more stressful than spending the morning with a bunch of pre-schoolers at the beach. hahahahaha

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Soccer is a VERY big deal here in Portugal.  The FIFA World Cup was on everyone's television and the focus of conversation for the past month.

The final game was Argentina vs. Germany. Although I'm not much of  a sports enthusiast, I was rooting for Argentina. They didn't win . . .

I watched the final at a friend's house.  It was fun . . .

Saturday, July 12, 2014

down time
Took a stroll through Cascais this afternoon despite the heat.

Lots going on this time of year. Yeah!

Friday, July 11, 2014


Guess what I had for lunch today. Yes, lunch. On a Friday for no particular reason. All I can say is OMG!

Monday, July 07, 2014

still working . . .

Although I worked today I made time to exercise in the morning and stop for an expresso this afternoon at a chic café. . .

Friday, June 27, 2014

let the summer begin . . .

Today was the last day of classes and school ended at 1pm.  The teachers have at least one more week of hard work preparing units for the next school year, but this afternoon was set aside for lunch in a restaurant near my home.  Sardines and Chicken Curry were a nice change from my usual brown bag fare.

Such a treat . . .

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

We are what we are . . .

                We are not quite novels.

                We are not quite short stories.

                In the end, we are collected works.

                                                                                               Gabrielle Zevin 

Sunday, June 08, 2014

it's jacaranda time again . . .

Av. de Saboia

All is well with the world when the jacarandas are in bloom.

If you look closely you can see that even the fallen petals make the world a more beautiful place . . .

Friday, May 23, 2014

So long . . .

One of my favorite students left the school today. I'll surely miss her but she's headed home. She is an American student from the south and is all full of yes ma'ams and no ma'ams. She's also full of energy and wonder and excellence. Her father was at NATO and although they originally planned on staying in Portugal longer, he received orders . . .

Before she left, she was generous enough to think of me and brought me a bunch of flowers.  It was so thoughtful. But then again, so is Lauren. . .

She will be greatly missed. I wish only the best for her.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

my new home away from home . . .

It was 20 years ago this month that I came to live in Portugal. It was a very big adventure. Europe - wow! So much to see, so much to do.  Shortly after arriving I visited a touristy hilltop town and in one of the shops the British owner struck up a conversation with me after ascertaining that I was more than a tourist.  She was then about my age now. She asked me how I found Portugal and asked if I detected a lot of differences. I said that I was enjoying it all: the food, people, weather, and the sea.  She agreed that it was like that for her too in the beginning. She advised me that at first I wouldn't see too many differences but the longer I stayed, the more differences I would notice.  She was right . . .

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter

One of the things that fascinated me when I lived near Cincinnati was that fact that there were so many small, cute towns to explore on weekends. S. Lebanon was no exception.

According to their website, S. Lebanon was established in 1795. It was originally named Deerfield and was an important town on the Little Miami River.

Although off the beaten track, S. Lebanon boasts a historic inn called The Golden Lamb dating back to 1803 or thereabouts. It is Ohio's oldest continuing hotel/inn and many important guests stayed there including 12 presidents and other notables such as Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Period furniture and a homey atmosphere welcome you.  Who knew? It seems that S. Lebanon is about halfway between Cincinnati and historic Rt. 40 so it was a logical stop off.

Easter Sunday lunch was (and is) a big event there with lamb a highlight on the menu. I was lucky enough to get a  reservation one Easter years ago.

Ah, memories . . .

Sunday, February 02, 2014

groundhog day

I'm from Pittsburgh and we make a very big deal about Groundhog Day. I love this film and we can learn a lot about ourselves from it. I'm grateful that most days are different from one another . . . Happy Groundhog Day!

Sunday, January 26, 2014


Yes, it's true. I've been grateful for this all my life. hahahaha . . .

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Mercado de Campo de Ourique

Farmer's markets are still an important part of life here in Portugal. You can get every thing you need to prepare healthy fare: fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, dried fruits and beans, meat, fish, jams, and honey, as well as potted plants, flowers and starter plants. I love to go to the Cascais market and sometimes go after walking on the paredão on Saturday mornings.

Today we went to the market in Campo D'Ourique to check out their renovated market and found that it was less traditional and attracting more than housewives. The idea was simple. The redesigned market included traditional market stalls and food stalls in the same space. The center of the market provided seating for lunches, snacks and dinner. Although found in other cities, this is a pretty mod and groovy concept for Lisbon.

We had lunch and the hamburgers were really good. Although the smooth music in the background set a nice tone, the downside was that the logistics of the space were chaotic. The food stalls didn't serve beverages so you had to go elsewhere for drinks. Well, ok but it went a bit too far when you had to order your food from one stall and return to pick it up in 10 minutes and in the meantime search for a stall  where you buy drinks only to find the drink stalls were not full service either and you could get only soft drinks and beer at one bar and needed to get wine from another stand, all the while hoping that a seat would be available when you collected all the necessary components for your lunch.

Anyway, I liked the new market and was grateful that my hamburger was excellent and that we were able to find a table and relax.

Friday, January 17, 2014


It's not very often that it snows in Lisbon. We are right on the Atlantic and are gifted with a temperate climate. It snowed here for about 10 minutes 6 or 7 years ago and it caused a lot of excitement. The time before that was in the 1950's, so you see what I mean.

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I heard a lot of thunder. This also isn't very usual here. Anyway, it wasn't raining and I went about my business. During my commute the sky opened up and there was a hell of a downpour. But more surprising was that it was a freak hail storm. The results of which are captured in the photo above. The "white stuff" is ice rather than snow. As the temperatures were no where near freezing, it melted very quickly.

I was travelling on the A5 (a highway) and am grateful that I didn't have any problems as a result of this tempest.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

be still my heart . . .

Matisse's Studio, Vence

Damian Elwes, an English artist living in the States, has a "studio" collection which showcases the studios of famous artists such as Picasso, Dali, Matisse and Monet to name a few. I LOVE them. I'm a friend of Damian Elwes on Facebook and I am delighted each time he posts another image.  I am grateful for the lightness that his work brings to my heart.

Oh yeah, I want a studio . . .

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Gone With The Wind

I first saw Gone With The Wind on a Thanksgiving Day when I was in my early 30s. It was playing in one of those cheap, low frills, one dollar a ticket movie theaters that we had in Pittsburgh back in the day. There was a total of 5 people in the theater - so it seemed like a private showing.
The film was fabulous with all its high drama from start to finish and I became a Gone With The Wind groupie. While the movie is good, the book is even better.

I learned a lot from Gone With The Wind. Scarlette O´Hara, the  beautiful but headstrong protagonist who is at the center of much of the drama, goes through some very trying times but never gives up.  She always looks forward and has an optimistic view of the future. At one point in the middle of her personal chaos she said, "After all, tomorrow is another day!" And she's right.

I've had some days in which everything went wrong and I thought that the day would never end. I was thankful when it finally finished and I got to start again the next day. I am grateful for tomorrows. . .

Saturday, January 11, 2014

good times
Today I was thinking about all the cities that I have visited in France and about how beautiful the châteaux in the Loire Valley are.The first time that I went to Europe I went to Monaco and Paris! Wow! It was something else. I am grateful for all the good memories of holidays spent in France.

Friday, January 10, 2014

message from the universe . . .

I saw this image on a Facebook post today (Journey To Peace). Sometimes the universe sends messages and if you keep your eyes and your mind open, you can easily find inspiration. I'm grateful for this.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

7 in a row

My school works on a 2 week schedule. That means that my Week 1 schedule is different than my Week 2 schedule. I teach roughly the same number of classes, they are just allocated differently. We have 7 periods per day. On Thursday in Week 2 I teach 7 classes in a row and am in the computer lab during lunch time to offer help to students.  This week is Week 2. I came home very tired today but grateful that all went well and that I had a good day. I always sleep well on Thursdays in Week 2 - hahahaha.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014


I received a gift today from my friend, Chris, from Luxembourg. It's a beautiful ceramic piece than can be used as a vase or a candle holder.  The Italian artist who made this is  Fabrizio Tranquilli. You can check him out here:  (

I met Chris in 1991 when I studied in Luxembourg and we've been great friends since then. I feel grateful to have made such a good friend.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Frozen Pittsburgh. . .

The north-east is experiencing sub-zero temperatures.  Many schools and businesses in Pittsburgh are closed as a consequence.   -7 F (-22 C) is COLD.   The icy conditions make everything just that much more dangerous.

Winter is beautiful to look at in photos, but I'm grateful for the milder climate in which I live.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Put me in, Coach . . .

Today was our first day back after a well-deserved 2 week holiday break.

"Oh, put me in, Coach - I'm ready to play today;
Put me in, Coach - I'm ready to play today;
Look at me, I can be centerfield."

I'm grateful for my job and proud of the work I do.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Sunday mornings are made for walking . . .

This morning the sun was shining and the birds were singing . . .

It was clear and sunny this morning and the temperature was about 55º F (14º C) as we began our 5k (3 mile) walk. Although there were remnants of high winds and strong waves along the esplanade where we walk, it was very calm at 8:30am. We were joined by a bookclub friend of mine who was walking her dogs and had lots to talk about.

Today I was grateful for the morning sun that promised a beautiful day.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

www . . .

While on Facebook today I came across the following photo and post from Humans of New York:

"When I was 19, my girlfriend and I were going to study in Paris. Our boyfriends came to the docks to see us off. Right as we were getting on the ship, my friend's boyfriend said to her: 'If you go, I won't wait for you.' So she turned around and decided to stay. My fiance saw this and told me: 'I won't wait for you either.'  I said: 'Don't!'"

Facebook page:

Check out the page, it's a really creative project and the posts are full of interesting characters.

I'm grateful for the internet which allows me to broaden my horizons, encounter new ideas and learn about (and from) others.

Friday, January 03, 2014

another rainy day

We've had a lot of rain in the past few weeks. It's normal for this time of year. I've had a fire burning since mid-afternoon. I'm grateful for the fireplace that keeps me warm and dry. I'm grateful for the rain that turns Portugal green in the winter.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Let's talk . . .
Goodbye Nokia 2650 red flip phone.
Hello white Samsung Galaxy Pocket Neo . . .

I finally bought a new phone today. While at the mall I received a message from my telephone service provider informing me that there might be a better payment option. As I had the moron package (way overpriced for everything) I thought it might be a good time to talk to the Optimus people. There was no line at the phone store at the mall and I just went in to ask a question about my service and before you knew it I was saying good bye to my red Nokia.  It was such a cool phone and looked just like Captain Kirk's communication device in the original Star Trek series. I've had it for 8 or 9 years and it served me well but the technology has really developed since I bought my Nokia and now a phone is more than just a phone so an upgrade was in order. I'm grateful that I looked at the message and decided to act upon it.

Now, I need a training course in using my new Samsung. . .

Wednesday, January 01, 2014


Fashions change but celebrating the new year never goes out of style . . .

I'm grateful for another year on my journey.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy 2014

Journey to Peace

Enjoy the journey . . .

2013. Photograph. Journey to PeaceWeb. 30 Dec 2013. .

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Star of Wonder

Hope your holiday season is full of wonder . . .

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Don't walk alone after dark . . .

Monday, October 28, 2013


Anta do Tapadão

Here in Portugal you can't go too far without tripping over a megalithic monument. And earlier this week was no exception.

While touring the Upper Alentejo we visited the Anta do Tapadão near the village of Aldeia da Mata. This structure has been around for the last 5,000 years or so. It was built by the Celts and similar structures can be found elsewhere in Europe including the most famous site of all, Stonehenge.  There has been much speculation as to the purpose of these monuments and some think that these sites held religious significance for their architects.

The Anta do Tapadão is said to be the best preserved anta in Portugal. But what is even more amazing is that we actually found the anta which is located atop a small mound along an unmarked path in the middle of someone's cow pasture.

There is a sign along the road indicating an entrance point on someone's farm. There is  also a sign on the gate asking people to close the gate after entering but that's where the signposts end.

We walked straight along the main path assuming that we would see some kind of indication. There was a path to the right and further down there was a path to the left. We kept on the straight and narrow. We walked about 1 kilometer and didn't see anything.  Finally, some workmen entered the property and we stopped them and they pointed us in the right direction.

This isn't the first time that we have visited national treasures on private property. These are often in the most surprising locales. Once we had to cross a large herd of grazing sheep on a farm with tailless cats to visit a menhir.

I can only say that the harder it is to find, the bigger the treat . . .

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Autumn at my door . . .

These early days of autumn are spectacular. It's sweater weather - warm days and cool nights. Soon enough the damp will set in but before it does, bask in all that October offers.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

I'm a blogger
There, I've said it. I'm a blogger.

I started my first blog in 2005. It was a joint-educational venture with my good friend Dr. Cristina Costa (then Ensign Cristina Costa) when we were both working as English teachers at the Portuguese Navy in Alfeite. The blog was called From Stem To Stern - an oh so nautical theme.  I just visited this blog after a lot of years and see that it doesn't look the same - the background is missing, as is the forum among other things.  I can only say, "Oh well" and not feel bad about that. What remains are the memories of that moment. You can also get a pretty good idea about what the students were learning.  Remember that edu-blogs (educational blogs) were very new then and this was ground breaking classroom practice. This was my first blog. You always have a soft spot for your first . . .

Since then I have spent a lot of time on blogs. I have created other blogs for lots of different kinds of students. There were more groups of Navy students, there were teachers who were my students when I was teaching teachers online, there were mothers that I taught to blog, there were OIS teachers who took a class from me when we were in the Fundição, yearbook students, SDIS CT blogs, OIS CT blogs, a Cyber-Kids blog (an after school activity that I ran one year), Year 4 blogs (these little kids were so enthusiastic about learning technologies), MYP English class blogs, a professional blog and a personal blog. In addition, I visit a lot of blogs. I love cooking blogs and visit a few on a regular basis. I know, who would have thought . . .

Yeah, I guess you can call me a blogger.

There seem to be lots of different reasons why people blog. Some links to sites that talk about this are:,

I blog primarily for self-expression. I like to write. I like the part that I need to sit and focus on what I want to say. I have to think about it - whatever it is. I can pull my thoughts together and really decide what I think. It's contempletive, not reactive.

I had had several educational blogs before I created a personal blog. At first I felt a little vulnerable but then I realized that nobody really reads my personal blog anyway so no big deal - hahahahaha.  And that's not a tragedy because there's a certain freedom in writing for yourself.  You're not writing to please, entertain or  impress; you are writing to meet your own needs - to figure things out, maybe to vent a bit, to commune with the universe. You are writing when it suits you and about topics that suit you. There's no "have to" associated with personal blogging.  Ahhhh, already the pressure is off.  A personal blog also charts one's journey through life. It's a kind of documentation of one's journey.  Some years one blogs more, other years less. Some years are full of one thing, other years focus on other matters. If someone should happen upon my blog in their journey through cyberspace, I hope my blog will help that person find his/her voice and his/her reason to blog.

I understand that some of my students/former students have discovered my blog. Thank you so much as I am flattered that you find me interesting reading. Maybe you should start your own blog.  I would be sure to "follow" you.

Yeah, that's right. I'm a blogger. . .

Sunday, August 18, 2013


August 16 at Centro Congressos do Estoril 


Web definitions
(trademark) a self-balancing personal transportation device with two wheels; can operate in any level pedestrian environment

I've finally had the opportunity to try this out.

The only thing I can say is that it's way cool.   I want one . . .

Thursday, August 08, 2013

The things I love about Pittsburgh

I recently went home. While I love my life and living in Portugal there's actually no place like home. . .
Some of my favorite things about Pittsburgh are:

The Cathedral of Learning

Funky neighborhoods

The Andy Warhol Museum

Restored Victorian Architecture

Phipps Conservatory

Breakfast at Pamela's

Unexpected delights

Walnut Street in Shadyside

Dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum

 The mansions on Fifth


New Technology

The importance of details


and Family.

Pittsburgh visit - July 29 - August 7, 2013