In all my imaging of problems I might encounter, from the stress of living with an unknown family, to the difficulties of working within a former Soviet bureaucracy, I never once considered cigarette smoke. It permeates everything here and seems inescapable, from the hotel where we stayed the first few days, to the Ministry where I’ll be working, which is supposedly smoke free, but isn’t, to my host family, where everyone over… Read More

As most of you know, my leave date was delayed until Oct. 24th. I was perfectly happy since it’s given me more time to enjoy the gorgeous fall weather here in the northwest and, more critical, find a real winter coat. I was having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of real winter while packing the first round, especially having to get around without a car and work in… Read More

What I like to call my sabbatical year has, unfortunately, come to an end. The year moved at a slower pace than usual, which was nice, and I’m proud to say I’ve accomplished much of what I haphazardly made up as I went along. Accomplishments include: 1)   Finishing my first mystery, then sending it out to agents, then rewriting half the book based on recommendations from an agent, and finally finishing it… Read More