Magical Memoir Moments

My mother on her 91st birthday on February 27, 2018. Photo by Doris Dagen.

The 200-Year Present: A Way to Lengthen Your Days

Last week I spoke at a gathering of educators at Berry College. The subject was “Called to Tell Our Stories.” As I prepared my speech, reviewing my own life for stories that might connect with the audience, I remembered the visit of Elise Boulding to Goshen College in the 1980s. Boulding had a great impact…

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Showing signs of wear, my copy of the book, along with journal and iPad, which allow me to digest and research material as I read.

Learning to Be, From a Baby, with Help from Annie Dillard

I’ve learned a lot from babies. Apparently, I am not alone. Babies are now becoming teachers in some schools. Meet Baby Naomi in this short video. She’s exactly the same age as our Baby Lydia. The school children in this video are learning empathy. Persistence. And the value of vulnerability. Older children learn by gently…

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Little Golden Book: Martha's House

Moving Across the Bridge: From Dream to Reality, Christmas to New Year, and Part I and Part II of Our Pittsburgh Adventure

The end of December is like Monet’s Japanese footbridge, says writer Philip Martin. For us, this time has been a moving experience, bridging Christmas and New Year, dreams with reality, and the first half of our “grannynanny” sojourn with the last half. Christmas Kate and Nik hosted our whole family in Pittsburgh, the city of…

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Lydia and me enjoying a visit to the lovely Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh.

Feeling Useful: A Place Where Age and Love Meet

In my twenties and thirties and forties, I was a professor. In my fifties I was a college president. In my sixties I was a foundation executive. Now that I am six months away from age seventy, I’ve been promoted to “granny nanny.” But what, exactly, does that mean? Obviously, it means helping to keep…

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This photo was taken from our car window the day we moved here as we got close to the skyline.

Our New City: Pittsburgh

First it was Brooklyn. Now it is Pittsburgh. The grannynanny gig takes us to cool places. I’m trying to learn all I can about Pittsburgh. I ask all my new friends for help. Let’s start with geography. This is a city of three rivers and 466 bridges. In the U. S., only New York City…

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Restaurant shenanigans.

Laughing Every Day: The September Report

 “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” That Proverb poetry branded itself in my spirit. I’ve always loved a good laugh, whether a chuckle or a guffaw. According to the latest edition of the AARP magazine, “Laughing can give your immune system a temporary boost, ease pain, relax arteries and offer your torso a…

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Note every face. Can you tell that black flies were biting us? The photographer took them away electronically, but we felt their bites all evening. Can you tell who was itching to get away from them? :-)

What I Love About Portraits: The Beauty of Every Face

Almost everything I remember clearly about the past has to do with a person, often with a face. These days, granddaughter Lydia is teaching me about the early origins of love for the human face. Below is 29 seconds of a typical interaction with her at ten weeks of age. She is alert and curious,…

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At the Peterhof in St. Petersberg, Russia. A magical moment.

What Remains: The Most Lasting Images from 24 Days in the Baltic Region . . . And a New Chapter Begins

Travel brings many rewards and pleasures too obvious to mention. But it also contains a danger: too many miles covered too quickly can all blur at the beginning and fade at the end. That’s one reason to take pictures. Looking back over the entire set of 340 photos taken over 24 days of travel, some…

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Former student and student assistant Amy Houser and her mother Mary Lou.

Encountering Borders and Crossing Boundaries: Metaphorically and Literally

It was a big week in the Shenandoah Valley. An international conference. The world premiere of a play. A book talk about Mennonites and Nazism. Preparations for a 24-day trip to Scandinavia. And, of course, daily check-ins to see how baby Lydia and her parents are doing. The theme of the conference, Crossing the Line, applies,…

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The almost-smile of a newborn. The dress was made from a pillowcase and hand dyed by Kate.

Wiping Away the Tears, Embracing the Fears, Celebrating the Joy!

The birth of a new baby brings all our emotions to the surface: curiosity, fascination, elation, and joy beyond compare. There’s also terror! “Is she breathing?” “Will I let her down?” “How do I handle the responsibility for another life?” Every parent asks these questions, alternating between ecstasy and anxiety. Fortunately, others have been there…

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