The Words of my Father


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Memory is a child walking along a seashore. You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things.~Pierce Harris, Atlanta Journal

Today I’d like to share my memory of the last lucid conversation I had with my adoptive Dad. Richard Leonard Beard was a World War II clinical psychologist for the

Elaine Pinkerton has kept a diary all her life.

I’ve kept a journal all my life. It’s enlightening to read voices from the past…

army air force, college professor, and most of all—my hero and role model. I lost him years ago, in the nineties, but lately he has been vividly in my imagination. When going through some of my old diaries, I found this entry:

 My father and I were walking around the gentle hills of Charlottesville, Virginia. I’d left Virginia for New Mexico, embarking on my own life, but I visited at least once or twice a year. He and my mother had moved to a senior community named “Stonehenge.” I found the title amusing, thinking it conjured up the wisdom of the ages. On this particular evening, I was out walking with the wisest man I knew.
    The sun was setting and mist arose from the earth. Instead of a blazing sunset like those I experienced in New Mexico, this “sky-scape” was layered in subtle pastels…pink, peach and gray.
    Though I don’t recall my exact words, I told my father that when I was 70, his age at the time, I wouldn’t mind dying. I would, I told him, be ready to leave the earth.
    “You’ll feel differently when you’re there,” he retorted. “You’ll want more years ahead of you. Many more years.” I wanted to disagree, but I knew that argument was futile. Daddy was strong minded.
    Life happened. Marriage, children, divorce, grandchildren. Suddenly I was the age

Ahead of his time, my college professor Dad spearheaded a book TV program in the1950s.

Ahead of his time, my college professor Dad spearheaded a book TV program in the1950s

my father was when he made his pronouncement.
    He’d left years earlier, but I felt that at some mysterious psychic level, he could hear and understand me. “You were right,” I longed to tell him.


Poetry Monday


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A Series of Unfortunate Events

~Lemony Snickett: Book series for children

First it was a cat bite (yes, my own beloved Mr. Chapman when I was trying to keep

Even the best of friends, when engaged in a fight, becomes a wild beast.

Even the best of friends, when engaged in a fight, becomes a wild beast.

him from getting into a fight with Fred, the neighbor’s cat…don’t ask; it was a stupid mistake)…

Then it was a letter from the IRS saying I owed more money (I didn’t but the snarky missive sounded ominous and I had to take it to my CPA for clarification and a final sigh of relief)…

The last straw was a massive invasion by tiny closet moths. Those pests had laid eggs in every one of my 15 Persian area rugs and even gnawed away at wall-to-wall carpeting. (I had the rugs removed, washed and moth proofed and the wall-to-wall steam cleaned; Every closet was treated for moths; I got rid of half of my wardrobe…a massive purging.) Exhausting and expensive but a war I was determined to win.

Thus today’s poetry offering, one which reflects the way I’m feeling and also expresses love for my favorite go-to activity when life becomes too much. READING READING and more READING!



Lately I’ve found myself reading a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction works, often from my own at-home bookshelves

by J. Patrick Lewis:

Please Bury Me in the Library
Please bury me in the library
In the clean, well-lighted stacks
Of Novels, History, Poetry,
Right next to the Paperbacks,
Where the Kids’ Books dance
With True Romance
And the Dictionary dozes.
Please bury me in the library
With a dozen long-stemmed proses.
Way back by a rack of Magazines,
I won’t be sad too often,
If they bury me in the library
With Bookworms in my coffin.

Are You a Book Person?
A good book is a kind
Of person with a mind
Of her own,
Who lives alone,
Standing on a shelf
By herself.
She has a spine,
A heart, a soul,
And a goal —
To capture, to amuse,
To light a fire
(You’re the fuse),
Or else, joyfully,
Just to be.
From Beginning
To end,
Need a friend?


Have you ever felt like escaping a slew of troubles through binge reading? Have you found comfort in a library? Please share your own favorite “reading escape routes.” And while you’re at it, sign up for my reflections on adoption and life— published every other Monday.

The Goodbye Baby gives an insider view of growing up adopted.

The Goodbye Baby gives an insider view of growing up adopted.

Clara and Dottie go to India


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Returning to Fiction

Returning to Fiction

Today, going from the nonfiction world (writing about adoption) to fiction (still writing about adoption), I’m presenting scenes from my longtime novel-in-progress, The Hand of Ganesha. For months, the book was orphaned. Procrastination, however, brought fresh ideas and new energy. Moving full steam ahead,  the central themes of adoption and the search for authenticity are propelling the book forward. Once a month, I’ll be devoting this website to gradual unfolding of the novel.

Here’s a brief summary: The two central characters are both adult adoptees. Clara Jordan, part Native American, loves her adoptive parents, but feels driven to find out about her origins. Arundati Ragan, known to her friends as “Dottie,” lost her adoptive parents in the Mumbai massacre of 2008. She now longs to go to India to search for her birthparents. Like Clara, she is challenged by the mystery surrounding her origins. When the two adoptees’ paths cross, they become friends and decide to travel together to India.

Scene One:

Arundhati Benet was pushed open the library’s heavy doors. Dot Benet, as she was

Searching for clues

Searching for clues

known to her friends, shouldered in a briefcase heavy with articles from magazines, books, handwritten notes. She also lugged a carrying case with a new MacBook Thin and charging device. She headed toward the nearest carrel. Dottie Benet was not her original name. Born Arundhati Rangan, she was one of two adult adoptees in the library that day..

Scene Two:

“May I help you find anything?” The reference librarian’s question pierced through Clara’s reverie.

The University of Virginia Library’s deep silence so engulfed her, she thought rather than voiced her first response. Well yes, my roots, my origins, where I’m from. I doubt that you could help me with that.

The middle-aged gray haired, bespeckled woman stood impatiently, hovering over Clara’s table, awaiting an answer.

Finally Clara answered, “I’m doing some genealogy research. Just browsing…actually, looking for ideas.”

“There are some websites I can direct you to.” When Clara didn’t answer, the librarian continued. “If you’ll tell me more about your search, maybe there are materials right here in the library that you could begin with.”

This woman looked trustworthy. Why not tell all? She was getting nowhere on her own, and the longer she waited, the less likely that she’d discover the truth.

Clara, who usually didn’t confide in anyone – much less total strangers – decided to open up.

Author’s Note: Stay tuned for monthly installments. If you have questions about Clara or Dottie, please write to me in the comment box and, as their spokeswoman, I’ll do my best to answer.

Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption and sneak previews of her newest novel, The Hand of Ganesa.

Join Elaine on alternate Mondays.

The Sounds of Serbia


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Over several years of blogging, I’ve talked a lot about adoption. As every adoptee knows, you wake up in the morning and you’re still adopted. However, with self-examination, relentless honesty, and unconditional self-acceptance, one can move on. After years of grappling with “adoption issues,” I’m allowing myself to move on in another way. Travel, destination Europe.

Along with my friend Lauren, I went in April to Eastern Europe, sailing on the Danube

Overlooking the convergence of Sava and Danube Rivers

Overlooking the convergence of Sava and Danube Rivers

with Viking River Cruises. Of all the cities I visited in the tour “From Budapest to Bucharest,” Belgrade is one of my favorites. The former capital of the state of Yugoslavia, Belgrade is now the capital of Serbia. Our guide told us that it’s been destroyed and rebuilt 20 times. Resilience exemplified. Our land tour explored the Old Town, nestled along the Sava River. (The Sava and Danube Rivers converge.) Steeped in Byzantine, Turkish and Austrian/Hungarian influences, Belgrade is a city at the crossroads. It’s been through a lot.

The Belgrade Fortress, an ancient stone behemoth of a fortification was most recently reconstructed during the Ottoman period in the 18th century. It is surrounded by the Kalmegdan Park, a grassland haven, full of flowering trees. The city, our guide tells us, has 32 hills. We climb to the summit of one such hill, and views are spectacular. Led by “Sejean,” a local man in his thirties, we make our way toward the massive gates. To our left, in a former moat, is a tennis court. Two men playing avidly. The thwack of tennis balls reverberates through the spring air.

Leaving the thwacks behind, we continue through another moat area. On both sides we see cannons and tanks from the World Wars. An outdoor military museum! The fortress is mammoth, and we ramble on through the stonework. Our guide continues to fill us with lore.

On to the National Theater and a behind the scenes tour of the Serbian Opera House IMG_0245within. Established by a ruler known as Prince Michael, the National Theater dates back

Seats are as little as six Euros

Seats cost as little as six Euros

to 1868. The building is an architectural masterpiece in stone. Inside it’s all hallways, stairwells and byzantine passageways. Our guide, a lovely college student named Tanya, takes us into the opera theater itself. Breathtaking! Gilded trim, red velvet seats, several balconies and a vast stage. The performers are so dedicated, we learn, that during WWII, they performed daily even during air raids. Today, the National Theater houses three artistic ensembles—opera, drama and ballet. All together these ensembles present more than 600 performances a year.

We are ushered into the opera’s salon, a combination museum/small opera hall. As we sip sparkling wine, two young singers serenade us with arias from The Elixir of Love, Rigoletto, and Il Trovatore. An enchanting interlude. Next, a tour of the costume shop, and a breath of air on the balcony overlooking

The opera's costume shop

The opera’s costume shop

Belgrade’s Republic Square. We make our way back to the Viking Longship docked on the Danube. The roar of late afternoon city traffic surrounds us, but the memory of Verdi and Donizetti plays even louder. The best part of travel, I’m finding, is adopting another country’s culture.

Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption and life. Comments welcome!

Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption and life. Comments welcome!

May 30th-The Day my Life was Saved


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Note from Elaine: When I look back over the five years since undergoing a life-threatening operation (aneurism repair) and the grueling three-month recovery period that followed, I am grateful to be here. If you’ve every had a life-threatening medical situation, you’ll know what I’m talking about! The brush with mortality that the aneurism represented made me look at my life as a gift rather than something to be endured. And somehow, magically, it brought peace and acceptance about being adopted. Amazing how that worked. So because I want to honor the anniversary of a second chance at life, and also because I’m immersed in writing a new version of my novel The Hand of Ganesha, I’m republishing a post that appeared a few years back. Please feel free to comment!


The surprises began in late May. Just as I was retiring from my job as elementary school librarian for Santa Fe Public Schools, I contracted an intestinal flu that resulted in multiple visits to the doctor. Blaming my “bug” on elementary school germs, I assumed that I would eventually get better. Despite antibiotics, however, I felt worse by the week. My primary care physician ordered a ct scan, and the scan revealed a seriously advanced abdominal aortic aneurism. A few days afterwards, I had surgery.

As I recovered from my surgical event, I proofed galleys for The Goodbye Baby

As I recovered from my surgical event, I proofed galleys for The Goodbye Baby

May 30th at 6 a.m. at Christus St. Vincent’s Hospital: Flanked by my tall sons (who’d flown in from distant locales), I entered the surgery center, was soon a gurney and being wheeled into the operating theater. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. To say that I was concerned would be an understatement. It this was to be the end, I worried, I had yet to finish editing my new book The Goodbye Baby-Adoptee Diaries. Yes, I focused on my book rather than thinking that I might not live through the very serious operation.
The anesthesia took over, and I was OUT. Working for several hours, the brilliant surgical duo Doctors Poseidon Varvitsiotis and Gerald Weinstein replaced my defective aortic section with a dacron stint, sutured it in place, and sewed me back together. My next moment of consciousness was in the Intensive Care Unit, where I would spend the next two and ½ days. Despite exhaustion and a morphine-induced stupor, I was amazed and grateful. My life had been saved!
After six days at Christus St. Vincent’s, I was allowed to go home. Friends rallied, a different pal spending the night in my guest room for a couple weeks, just to make sure I was OK. For a month, I was very feeble and could get about only with the help of a walker. It was a chore to eat, to dress, to do anything at all.
Following doctor’s orders, I took a siesta every afternoon. Some days I just rested; others, I actually slept. When I was at last able, I took a daily half-hour walk outdoors. Along with resting and walking, I edited, proofreading the final galleys of The Goodbye Baby-A Diary about Adoption. At last it was done: the day I received final approval from my publisher, I improved 100 per cent.
So, the operation is history. If all continues to go well, I will not need a check-up until a year from now. My doctor advised me to slow down, to continue taking a daily rest, and to take better care of myself. I’d made that decision as well. Though it didn’t have any obvious connection to the aortic aneurism, I am no longer on perpetual overdrive. The operation and ensuing month of recovery made me realize that, in the big picture, it does not matter if I meet personal deadlines exactly as I’d envisioned.
Thus begins “the new normal,” and it feels wonderful.

P.S. May 30th will always be my personal date to celebrate BEING ALIVE!

May's surgical "event" allowed me the gift of being alive!

May 30th allowed me the gift of seeing my beloved ones grow and thrive!

Baking Banitza in Bulgaria


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One of the best parts of adoption recovery is going places I never could have imagined.
During a recent Viking River Cruise, I spent a couple days in  the beautiful riverside town of Vidin, Bulgaria. Nestled in spectacular scenery, Vidin boasts medieval castle and a spectacular rock formation, Belogradchik. Those sights were wondrous indeed, but the most fun was meeting Ramona, her husband Pavel and her aunt Rosemary, who taught us—a small group of travelers who’d opted for the “extra” side excursion— a cooking class.

Entering our host's home-pleasant and airy

Entering our host’s pleasant, airy home just outside Vidin.

From Vidin, we took a van to a tiny outlying village of 100 residents. Ramona greeted us warmly in her front courtyard. We were, she told us, the first Viking visitors of spring. Each of us received welcome kisses on both cheeks and our hostess’s warm smile. Ramona’s husband Pavel offered us small glasses of a homemade vodka-like liquor called “reika,” and we entered the home’s dining room. Folding chairs awaited our band of baking students.

Ramona and Pavel extol the virtues of Bulgarian yoghurt.

Ramona and Pavel extol the virtues of Bulgarian yoghurt.

Ramona passed out sheets of paper with following directions:

Pavel and Ramona’s Homemade Banitza Recipe
1 packet of fine layers of phyllo dough
6 eggs- whip with fork
400 gr. of white cheese
half a tea cup of yoghurt
half a teacup* of cooking oil (Sunflower recommended)
half a teacup of fizzy drink (lemonade or Mountain Dew)
half a teaspoon of saleratus (baking soda)
half a packet of butter (1 stick, unsalted)

Crumble the white cheese in a big bowl, add the eggs. Put the saleratus into the yoghurt, stir it and pour it into the bowl. Add the cooking oil and the fizzy drink. Stir everything well.
Heat the oven to 180C (350 F)
Spread some cooking oil over the pan. Put some layers of dough over the bottom of the baking tin. Sprinkle with some of the mixture. Put some other layers of dough and some mixture again and again until you fill the pan.
Don’t put any mixture over the last layers of dough. Sprinkle with the melted butter and fizzy drink. Bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes. Leave it to cool before you cut it. Good appetite and enjoy!
*Note: Ramona used what we call coffee mugs, not giant but medium sized.

The baking class was on! Those who wished to help came forward in shifts to gather around Ramona’s kitchen counter. I’d never worked with phyllo dough before so chose instead to crumble white cheese with a fork. Others beat eggs or stirred baking soda into yoghurt. Soon the banitza was assembled and popped into the oven. Later, it came out and needed to cool. Ramona served a previously baked identical pastry and we marveled at its delectability. It was helpful to learn that one could add all kinds of extras within the layering, from herbs to cinnamon sugar. In other words, one can explore banitza variations.

Hands on: we each had a task

Hands on: we each had a task.

The delectable final product

The delectable final product.

Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption and life. Comments welcome!

Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption and life. Comments welcome!

Since that experience, I’ve adopted banitza as one of “my” special recipes. Fear of phyllo dough is a thing of the past. I learned that one does not plop it down in a single sheet but crinkles each sheet before layering. The resulting creations, though not as pretty or fluffy as Ramona’s, have tasted great. Like life itself, my banitza baking is a work in progress.

Eastern European Odyssey~Captivated by Croatia


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On a recent cruise on the Danube River through Eastern Europe, I fell in love with each IMG_0160new place. But of all five countries—Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania—I was most captivated by Croatia. Having survived occupations, brutal wars, cultural genocide, and economic disaster, Croatia, with its beautiful scenery, young population, and neoclassical architecture amidst gutted out buildings, is an upbeat location.

My travel buddy Gloria and I are out walking. It is a peaceful Sunday afternoon in Vukovar, Croatia, a city of 25,000. Ravaged through the1990s by the Balkan Wars, the city conveys an air of survival. It offers a sobering combination: lovely Neoclassical architecture as well as gutted out buildings.

“Why,” asked a fellow travelers, doesn’t the government just raze these wrecked buildings and rebuild? Why let them fall into further decrepitude?”IMG_0149

Our guide intimates that there are two main reasons. Many of the original owners of these sad buildings fled the country and cannot be located. Additionally, there is a nationwide shortage of money. Rebuilding will take a long, long time. In outlying areas beyond the peaceful town of Vukovar, there are still minefields. German Shepherds are sniffing out explosives.

We stroll about, enjoying the open city arcade with its traditional obelisk, a monument surrounded by statues: saints, mythological figures, military heroes. The yellow and white municipal buildings lend an air of order and civility to this formerly war-torn area.

Sunday strolling

Sunday strolling in the heart of Vukovar

Back onboard our longship, theVili, we are treated to a quintet of Croatian musicians, a group that calls itself “Veritas.” Strumming and plucking a variety of stringed instruments,the young musicians serenade us. They are exuberant and clearly talented. One feels that they are living up to their name, “Veritas.” (In Roman mythology, Veritas, meaning truth, was the goddess of truth, a daughter of Saturn and the mother of Virtue.)IMG_0163

The virtue of truthfulness, was considered one of the main virtues any good Roman should possess.  The truth of Croatia, it seems, is that life goes on.


Join Elaine every other Monday for a new post. She writes about adoption, hiking and life. You’re invited to comment! IMG_0152

Adoptee’s Annual Shakespeare Contest


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FOUR HUNDRED YEARS OLD! April marks the BIRTHDAY of great English poet and

Remembering Shakespeare on April 23

Remembering Shakespeare on April 23

playwright, William Shakespeare. For me, it means ADOPTING SHAKESPEARE- HIS LANGUAGE, HIS PLAYS, HIS SONNETS, and you’re invited to join in. On Saturday, the Sweet Swan of Avon (who lived from April 23, 1564-April 23, 1617) turns 400! To celebrate Shakespeare’s Birthday, please send (via Twitter, to @TheGoodbyeBaby) your favorite Shakespearean quotations, thereby entering my annual Shakespeare contest.   Quotation competition takes place in the Twitterverse. To be considered, send your quotations via the Internet,  posting them on Twitter.

Sonnet 73 is one of my favorites in the Bard’s magnificent canon. The narrator speaks of the ravages of time on one’s physical well-being and the mental anguish associated with moving further from youth and closer to death. The “death,” point out critics, may be not may be the end of life but rather, the demise of youth and passion. Beginning when I first read this poem in a college literature class,  I’ve appreciated it more each year. Sometimes I focus on the narrator’s sadness, other occasions on the tenderness and love. Read Sonnet 73 aloud and see what resonates with you.

An aged tree on Canyon Road- photo by Beth Stephens
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
-William Shakespeare

At the contest’s end (TBA), copies of Shakespeare scholar Robin Williams’ “The Shakespeare Papers” will be mailed to the four best entries. As the song goes, “Brush up on your Shakespeare…start quoting him now.” My contest runs through May 1.


Author Elaine Pinkerton posts bi-weekly about adoption, hiking, and life. Comments are welcome.IMG_1121



Eastern European Odyssey – Part II


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To wander is to be alive.
― Roman Payne

Travel gives one a chance to look at life from a different perspective. Since I view the world through “adoption colored glasses,” I think of what I see and do as a way to escape my adoption conundrums, a means of moving beyond the lens of my own existence. A recent Viking River cruise to five countries—Hungary, Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania—truly expanded my horizons.

The trip was full of castles, fortresses, history, beautiful landscape and cultural wonders. That said, the small gem-like experiences are what I most cherish. One such gem occurred on the third day of our 10-day journey. We were in Kalocsa, Hungary. A short drive from town took us to the Bakodpuszta Equestrian Center.

Surrounded by many acres of farmland, the horse center is part of a working farm. Residents of the Hungarian Pustza (roughly translated, this means “grassland” or IMG_0086“treeless flat place.” ) IMG_0083love their horses and cherish the tradition of horsemanship. For centuries, people in this region have relied on the elegant Hungarian Warmblood breed for transportation, settlement and defending their land.

The morning was cool and overcast. Our group of twenty travelers were welcomed with shot glasses of rakia and slices of bread with pig drippings and paprika.  Thus fortified, we climbed into the bleachers that faced an oval-shaped dirt field. At one end, an oboe player serenaded us with mournful ballads. In seconds, the horses and their riders appeared, galloping around the ring. Adding to the going-back-in-time feeling, the riders were decked out in baggy royal blue trousers, capes and gallant black hats. Definitely made us feel at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. It was thrilling, heartwarming. Beauty in motion. The following photos are just a few of the highlights…

The show took me back to my 12-year-old self when I drew horses, wanted to own IMG_0118 (1)one, and was literally in love with horses. Just about everything, I’ve learned, can be part of adoption recovery. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve “recovered” enough to stop “recovering” and start living. Whatever the case, I’m grateful for that special morning.
To learn more about Hungarian horsemanship, check out

Join Elaine on Mondays for reflections on adoption and life. Please comment and share your own transformative.journeys.

Adopting Other Countries – An Odyssey through Eastern Europe


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“Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.” -Anonymous

It’s been said that others can know us better than we know ourselves. A close friend once told me that because I’ve resolved all those thorny “adoption issues,” I would now be free to live my life. Resolution? Being “over it”? Could that be possible? At the time, I thought that my friend was being overly optimistic. Wasn’t it true that the feelings of abandonment and alienation would never vanish, that freedom was an illusion? However, maybe, just maybe, my friend was right. Last night, I returned from nine days aboard a Viking longship, sailing on the Danube River through Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania. I opened myself up completely to new experiences, to learning about countries that had been just names, to people and cultures previously unknown. Welcome to this account of my five-country odyssey through Eastern Europe.

I went with Viking River Cruises, an excellent travel outfit that hires superb guides in every place you visit. The formula is simple: sail mainly at night, tour about on foot and by bus every day. Our first day was spent in Budapest, the capital of Hungary. An enchanting city that straddles the Danube, Budapest used to be two cities: Buda and Pest. Buda is on one side, and it’s full of Art Nouveau buildings, castles and palaces; modern Pest (pronounced “Pesht) is on the other. The magnificent Chain Bridge, along with eight other bridges, join the two-cities-in-one.

Herewith, a pictorial travelogue illustrating my journey’s beginning…

Open air arts market near our Hotel. Lunched on goulash and bought handcrafted stationery.

Open air arts market near our Hotel. Lunched on goulash and bought handcrafted stationery.


Bomo Art booth  – journals to book marks, hand crafted, no two alike!

Leaving Budapest for Kalosca. Just outside the Sofitel Hotel: flower-filled park and military statuary.

Leaving Budapest for Kalosca. Just outside the Sofitel Hotel: flower-filled park and military statuary.


The famous Chain Bridge, Castle District in the background (Buda in the background). About to set sail for Kalosca.

Budapest took my breath away. It is historic, quite beautiful, endlessly fascinating. On a personal note, I feel that the previously divided nature of this capital symbolizes my adoption journey, a kind of coming home to unity. However, Budapest is just the beginning. Please stay tuned for more chapters of this adoptee’s Eastern European travelogue.IMG_0021Here I am with Tina, artist/businesswoman whose book arts boutique ( was a highlight of our first day in Hungary.






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