Living Next Door to Bern’s Bears

I was recently invited to join a tour of Bern’s bear park, and I learned so much about the city’s bears that I thought I’d share some of it with you. It’s a story with a happy ending for the bears but also a reminder of how cruel supposedly civilized people can be to animals. InContinue reading “Living Next Door to Bern’s Bears”

Little Known Facts about Paradise

My friend Clare O’Dea is a dual citizen like me, but Swiss-Irish instead of Swiss-American. She’s also a writer of fiction and non-fiction and (unlike me) a professional journalist. A few weeks ago, she interviewed me for Switzerland’s version of an English-language online newsletter called The Local, which she writes for regularly. The article isContinue reading “Little Known Facts about Paradise”

Some Useful Rat

When I was about thirty, I traveled around Germany with one of my uncles. A year or two before that, I’d taken beginner German classes for two or three months.  You’ve heard the saying, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” Well, my trip to Germany made that clear. At the places we were staying, thereContinue reading “Some Useful Rat”

The Cold Days of Carnival

Monday, February 27, at four in the morning, the city of Basel’s Fasnacht celebration began. Fasnacht is the German word for Carnival, and Basel’s lasts three days. Yesterday morning, despite darkness, icy cold, and the painfully early hour, thousands of people lined the streets of Switzerland’s third largest city to watch groups of men andContinue reading “The Cold Days of Carnival”

Snow in Bern

Saint Nicholas Day came and went on December sixth, and winter still hadn’t come to Bern. Two days later, the fuchsias on my balcony were still opening their buds; there were new geranium blossoms, too. Then last Friday and Saturday it snowed, and since then the temperatures have remained below freezing. The snow is stillContinue reading “Snow in Bern”


I’m a citizen of two countries, but I’ve never had to apply for naturalization. I acquired US citizenship when I was born and Swiss citizenship in 1988 when I married a Swiss. Becoming a Swiss isn’t normally so easy. In fact, even people who were born in Switzerland don’t get citizenship unless at least oneContinue reading “Belonging”

Teacup or Water Glass?

I was playing tennis with a Swiss friend recently, and the third time I dropped the ball I said, in German, “I can’t believe I’m such a butterfingers today.” It’s almost the same word in German as in English, even if the vowels are pronounced differently: Butterfinger.  Except that it doesn’t exist in German, soContinue reading “Teacup or Water Glass?”

PESTICIDE in Your Ears

Great news! Pesticide audiobook comes out today. The Pesticide audiobook was produced by Tantor Media, and I was delighted to discover that they used two readers, Romy Nordlinger for Giuliana and Tim Campbell for Renzo. Nordlinger is a TV, movie, and stage actor (I think the word “actress” is gone, right?), and Campbell has won Audie andContinue reading “PESTICIDE in Your Ears”