On Love Lost and Found—Counting My Blessings

I am trying to practice the art of gratitude. For obvious reasons, what with Thanksgiving around the corner, and also because I’ve been so devastated by the examples of hate that I keep hearing about from friends and reading about in the news. I am trying to practice gratitude for selfish reasons, to light a […]

Lockdown in Lia: Larger than Life Days in Our Tiny Village

After a whirlwind three weeks of weddings (my cousin’s on the Peloponnesian coast), ruins (the Byzantine city of Butrint in what is now Albania), and beaches (too numerous to mention), I thought we’d end our annual trip to Greece with a few relaxing days in Lia, the quiet village where my father was born, which […]

See No Evil: Easter, Facebook, and Where the Bodies Are Buried

This past weekend was Orthodox Easter, which Amalia, my husband, and I spent with my parents in Worcester, Massachusetts. Amalia’s arrival was greeted with delight by her grandparents/rabid fans. But somewhere amid the flurry of preparations for the holiest day in the Orthodox calendar, we learned that there was another visitor in Worcester, one who […]

All My Found Saints

When it comes to cultural events and spiritual uplift, I love church and I love dancing. But you just don’t often get to do the two together. Except in Diriamba, Nicaragua, where I just attended the Reese’s Peanut Butter cup of community events, the last day of the festival for the patron saint of Diriamba […]

I Saw the Sign: On Feet and Fate

Yesterday we lost power, and I thought it might be a sign that the Lord wanted me to get a pedicure. I know this is the kind of thing that only a crazier-than-crazy person thinks, much less says out loud. I know that the Lord probably does not spend much time thinking about my toes, […]

VirginMaryPalooza—Nine Crazy Nights!

Last week I went around the corner to buy baby wipes and saw Jesus Christ coming down the street. I didn’t get the baby wipes—you can’t buy those on the street corner pharmacies or in the corner stores, which are called pulperias here in Granada, Nicaragua. You have to go to the big American-style supermarket […]

From Pumpkin Spice Latte to Pitaya Juice: An Autumnal Journey

As a folklorist, I often feel that marketing messes with holidays. I don’t want to think about Halloween the day after the fourth of July, but the drugstore and the “seasonal” aisle of the supermarket and the forests worth of catalogs that arrive at my door want me to, because there’s really no big ticket […]

Amalía Has Two Easters

A few weeks ago my mother, Joanie, called me up all atwitter, as she often does after reading not one but two newspapers first thing in the morning. (Bless her heart, she is singlehandedly keeping the physical, print version of the newspaper alive.) “Guess what!” she chirped. “The newspaper says that according to the census, […]

Spiritual Spring Break

It’s that time of year again–empty beer bottles are sprouting in my garden like so many crocuses, flocks of young chicks in bikini tops and belly rings keep swooping into my neighborhood Starbucks, and, if the boys who have rented the apartment across the courtyard are any indication, young men’s fancy is turning to lust. […]

Folklore Overload!

Reader, forgive me, for I have sinned. It’s been 20 days since my last post–the longest I’ve ever gone without posting since the inception of this blog. My head has been spinning with event both glorious (much celebration surrounding the launch of my novel, Other Waters) and less so (my outpatient surgery became inpatient surgery […]