Iin 1991 I met Ronald de Kaper in Pamplona, and I’ve been blessed with his friendship ever since.

Ronald invited me to go back to Holland with him to do this thing he called the “beach walk.” I went, and, sure
enough, it was indeed a beach walk. Six days of walking on the sand and through the seaside towns of the Netherlands from Hoek van Holland to Den Helder, camping along the way. Ronald walked with a group of friends, all Dutch – everyone on the walk was Dutch as far as I knew, except me – and over the course of the six days Ronald’s friends became my friends, too: Stefan, Rico, Egon, Janneke, Joris, Johan…

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God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.

J. M. Barrie, Courage, from the rectorial address given to the Red Gowns of St. Andrews University

Even at sea Katya had followed him, like the stars, invisible by daylight, at night everywhere.

Stewart O'Nan, City of Secrets

Ii was asked why I thought the United Kingdom should have stayed with the European Union. My first thought was I wondered if Britain remembers how nationalism, hubris, and fear led them to the guns of August. And while I’m certainly no subject matter expert on the EU or the world economy, these were my second thoughts:

I think the people were lied to about what a Leave vote would do for them.

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Tthe Orlando massacre has rattled me.

I’ve wanted to write something for the last week, but I’ve not been able to. I don’t know why, but the massacre in Orlando has shaken me in ways that its many, many predecessors (e.g., Kalamazoo (6 dead), San Bernardino (14 dead), Umpqua Community College (9 dead), Charleston (9 dead), the Navy Yard (12 dead), Newtown (28 dead), the Sikh temple in Oak Creek (7 dead), Aurora (12 dead), Fort Hood (13 dead), Binghamton (14 dead), Virginia Tech (33 dead)…) did not. But I’ve wanted to get something out of my heart and onto the page. I don’t have confidence I’ll write this well, because I’m still working through how I feel, but here goes.

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You only have power over people so long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything, he's no longer in your power - he's free again.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The First Circle

Tthe Aisne River flows in a northeast direction through northern France, at least until it reaches Reims, where it bends nearly due west and continues to its confluence with the Oise, and then on to the Seine and into the English Channel at Honfleur and Le Havre. The scenery alongside its banks is tranquil and bucolic, lined with trees and pastures as it has been for centuries.

In 1917 a ferocious battle was fought between French and German armies for a ridge near the Aisne River called Chemin des Dames, which translates to English as “the ladies’ path,” and was the preferred route for the daughters of Louis XV when they journeyed from Paris to the Château de Boves.

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Wwe had a crazy amount of rain when I sat down to write this post. You know how sometimes the rain falls so thick and so heavy that it looks like a grey curtain? Well, it rained like that. But just for a short time. The clouds rolled in, the bomb bay doors opened, the cloud burst thunder in my ears, the rain fell, and then it all packed itself up and went on its away.

Whenever it rains that hard I’m reminded of my friend Bob. Bob was a sailor in the Navy in WWII. He gave me a copy of the journal that he kept during the war. In it he wrote about how his ship, the USS Panamint, was attacked by kamikaze planes during the Battle of Okinawa. There’s some pretty insane stuff in that journal.

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“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast