Civil War monuments are everywhere

Evidence that the Civil War is more than a fleeting memory in the American psyche is everywhere, such as this small historical monument located at a park in the sleepy Chicago outer-suburb of Saint Charles. Nestled by the lake and surrounded by leafy streets and well-manicured lawns, this little 1840s cottage is the former law office of Steven Sandborn Jones, one of the first lawyers to … Continue reading Civil War monuments are everywhere

It takes a village to be kind

The village town of Galena is on the outskirts of the Mississippi River, on the western edge of Illinois — a once prosperous trading post. Today, it is a tourist attraction with a curious combination of main streets crowded with modern cars next to historic old buildings erected at a time when technology could build nothing taller than a few stories. I have written a … Continue reading It takes a village to be kind


You can sometimes feel the most alone when you are in a crowd. In the waning days of summer, in mid September, I walked through a street festival in Chicago. It was warm and humid still. Winter seemed impossibly far away. And everyone was more concerned about the band on the stage, the arts and crafts being sold by vendors, and navigating around baby strollers and dogs … Continue reading Solitude

Christmas in Vienna

Christmas somehow makes more sense in Vienna. That’s the conclusion I reached in a visit this winter, when I happened upon Vienna’s “Christkindlmarkt.” The outdoor market and festival is located in the city’s Rathausplatz, which is basically their city hall… never mind that it looks like a Gothic church or palace. Actually, do mind. The building is only 150 years old, designed in the Neo-Gothic style. But, it is a … Continue reading Christmas in Vienna

The reassurance of peace

This summer in Chicago, there was a dazzling display of air technology and skill: the annual air show, during which crowds blanketed the city’s shoreline to watch extraordinary machines perform feats of wonder in the air. These planes were magnificent. They were a marvel of human ingenuity. They were a testament to the skills the pilots developed over hours of effort to hone their natural talents. And yet, these were machines of … Continue reading The reassurance of peace