Biscuit Muffin: a story & a recipe

Several cats live in our yard. We did not put them there. They chose this space – though they didn’t choose us, per se. We live in a residential/agricultural community with a lot of cats roaming the fields and acequias. They all look like cousins – because they probably are. And yes, I know all […]

We are altogether all together

Many years ago, while working on my master’s, I took Vietnamese classes at the University of Oregon in preparation for a semester in Hanoi. My instructor taught language by explaining the cultural protocols of daily life. I will never forget the way she described Vietnamese society in an anatomical analogy. She likened individuals to blood, […]

How we get through this

Ten days, and the world has changed. Last week, I had planned to visit my dad at his apartment in a retirement home. He lives independently – alone – in a complex that also houses dozens of assisted-living and memory-care residents. They all get meals from a community dining room, and my dad has a […]

Step by Step: Inside the Homes of US Farmworkers

South Texas farmworkers’ kitchen Years ago, still close to wartime, many of my Cambodian friends spoke of dreams they chased step by step. Hunger and hardship were still too near to be called memories. Security and prosperity were distant visions on a road that felt vast and overwhelming. So they began that journey step by […]

One Man’s Story

Benjamin Ruiz, preparing tortillas for breakfast at the soup kitchen where he volunteered on the Mexican side of the US-Mexico border. Last year, I met a 34-year-old man named Benjamin Ruiz. He volunteered at a soup kitchen, spending every morning preparing tortillas to go with rice and beans and big vats of calabacitas to feed […]

Framing the Picture

We’ve been back in Southeast Asia for a month now, and I’ve been thinking a lot about framing—how we convey and interpret pieces of the world around us. A couple weeks ago, we visited the Cambodian coast. We hadn’t traveled to Sihanoukville in years, and we’d heard how much has changed. My first memories of […]

Lao Sabai

? I remember the very first trip. It was August, which meant sticky days and a heat that swelled until the skies opened with a gush of rain. The rice paddies sparkled in a light I still can’t adequately describe. Radiant. Brilliant. Electric. Cliché. They were the very definition of green. It was our first […]

Last Suppers

The summer before my last semester of Journalism School (a long, long time ago), I had a fellowship at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. My roommates and I lived in a sprawling apartment complex with a pool and hibiscus bushes in a tropical neighborhood surrounded by damp forests and dark lagoons. I kept […]

Still Living in Action

Mekong River, Vientiane, Laos, the evening we met Lee I haven’t posted here in a long time. Quite a long time—but I’m back to the blog. In the weeks to come, I’ll talk about where I’ve been and why you haven’t seen me, but right now I want to tell you about Lee. I met […]

The divisions that unite us

I woke up Wednesday feeling disoriented. I woke up today realizing exactly where I am: facing a vast crevasse that affects us all. This is our common ground. This is the turf we share. No matter which side we are on, this rupture unites us now, as Americans. And we must fight to fix it. […]