This story is about creativity, cooperation, openness and risk-taking.

The door was open, so I looked inside.

Romain greeted me with a broad, friendly smile. I asked, “Do you speak English?” Out came a resounding “YES!” And so our happenstance encounter evolved into a conversation and tour. (more…)

Duct tape. The miracle material was invented in 1942.

Since then, it has been acclaimed as the perfect solution to fix just about anything, from a broken pipe to aircraft. More recently, its versatility has brought it to the forefront of fashion design, bizarre costumes, competitions, and even sitcoms. We thought we’d seen it all with the complete construction of a sailboat and the functional cannon, but we were wrong. There was more questionable “creativity” in store for that ever-popular item we either call duct tape, or duck tape—you choose. (more…)

Without thinking.

I sat down at the computer—completely in the moment, and a word unexpectedly popped into my head—spontaneity. “Why not write about that?” I thought.  “Okay!” You are now reading the words that flowed onto the page from that stream of consciousness.

The word spontaneity triggered an image of my friend from 40 years ago, Jed Free. Yes, that’s a real name! I have no idea what ever happened to him, but he was clearly a “free” spirit, so to speak, an unusually independent person, a loner of the nth degree. He only spoke on rare occasions, and when he did it was in a rather cryptic but meaningful way. Mostly, he just silently shuffled along with shoulders rounded, as if clutching his latest Bob Dylan album to his heart—always looking down in the vicinity of his frayed gray sneakers. I can’t say that I ever really made eye contact with him, but in some strange way, I have to admit that the guy actually changed my life. (more…)

One of our favorite morning walks in California takes us through the gardens of the beautiful Villa Montalvo Center for the Arts. You never know what you might find around each wooded turn because they’re constantly changing the outdoor sculptures, providing that element of surprise. One day we found an artist constructing a fairly large house out of sticks. Another time we came upon a new fortress in the front yard made entirely from stacks of paper (even more interesting after it rained). Then there were the strange heavy, unexplained floating objects. And let’s not forget the creepy giant cocoons the size of a small car, we found laying by the path up the hill. But today, our  sculpture hunt was a little more challenging—like up in a tree! (more…)

We like to play a little game called Follow That Thread. It’s really simple and great fun because we never quite know where things are going. It’s also good exercise for slowing down, paying attention and trusting the process. It leads to the most curious things, but to make it work, judgment has to be suspended—accepting whatever shows-up. It feels like wandering through back streets and alleys to discover new places and things.

Here’s an example of a thread I followed a couple of weeks ago. (more…)

Sometimes a pair of shoes becomes way more than just a pair of shoes!

About 12 years ago I bought some rather odd looking slip-ons, and wow . . . they were way more comfortable than I ever  imagined! As we eased into pre-tirement, we decided to move away from public view and dress codes, into sole-full comfort in a casual sort-of way. And at that transitional time, we happened onto a pair of brown leather cartoon shoes, and I was hooked. For me they symbolized a life-style change and a different way of being that meant the world to us at the time—and still does. (more…)

We went to the Teatro Odeon the other night to catch the new movie called A Dangerous Method starring Keira Knightley, Vigo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender. We were excited to see their depiction of the two pioneers of psychotherapy, Freud and Jung because we’ve always been fascinated with their incredible contributions to the field of psychology. In fact, many of the concepts, therapies and ideas we take for granted today were products of their fertile early 20th century minds. (more…)

Ah, the ever popular stuzzicadenti, toothpick. Yes, they are readily available the world over. In any grocery store, a hundred can be had for a few coins. But the picking of one’s teeth shouldn’t be limited to processed slivers of wood. Oh, no! For those of you who are already a bit confused by the title, we’re not suggesting that istrici, porcupines have discovered the secret to perfect teeth. Certainly not! Most of them have nasty overbites. But, we are saying that the curious gift of the porcupine can make a difference in our dental hygiene, while making the world a better, tidier place. All we have to do is start using quills instead of toothpicks when the judicious picking of i denti, teeth becomes necessary. Let us lay out the argument and then you can decide for yourself. (more…)