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BouckFamilyFB-45(1)Hi there friend, and welcome to my blog. I started writing on the internet more than ten years ago, first anonymously as “pilgrimgirl” and later under my own name.  I began as pilgrimgirl because at the time I was studying journey narratives and had a feeling as though I was starting on a new path with an unknown destination. Since I began writing online I’ve started and finished a PhD program, left the Mormon church and became a Quaker, got divorced, started a history podcast, found full-time work in academia, took up rock climbing and outrigger canoeing, and traveled across the globe (China! Belgium! Italy! Chicago! Montana! Portland! Gettysburg! and oh-so-many points in-between).  For my 38th birthday and 25th anniversary of my bone cancer diagnosis,  we (meaning me and you) bought legs for a young double-amputee from China.

You might have happened upon this blog because you’ve heard of my work in the digital humanities or because you are curious about living with a disability or because you are also in the midst of a faith transition.  Click on any of the links above to find my posts about those particular topics (or use the dropdown links in the nav bar on the blog header).  Or, feel free to read a little bit anything and everything be using the archive links on the right sidebar.

This blog is eclectic and a bit random–it has poetry and cooking and books.  And cats.  And flowers.  And the ocean (my ocean).  But in that sense it’s a good reflection of me and my wide-ranging, far-reaching, magpie curiosity.

The glamour (of travel)

This article (h/t Steve) about the so-called glamour of travel hit home with me tonite…

Although the past few weeks of traveling have had more than their fair share of glamour, if you’d seen me schlepping around the city today, you probably would’ve wondered if I was homeless–carrying too many travel bags and crutches and an umbrella, wearing clothes that hadn’t been washed in 2 weeks that included mismatched socks, scratching at my many mosquito bites, looking for somewhere cozy to sit while I people-watched. It was fun, but it was not glamorous…I was a bit cranky and achy and trying to find a fun way to pass the hours until we could get the key to our temporary apartment. We ended up finding a fun little street fair to wander, but after so many of ‘those’ looks from bystanders, we realized that luggage-carrying odiferous and slightly grubby (although happy and well-intentioned) tourists were not really welcome there…

The good news is that my clothes are now I the laundry (yay and please keep your fingers crossed that this odd Finnish washing machine does the job) and tomorrow I will once again be fresh and maybe even just a wee bit glamorous. But tonite, I’m settling for a cozy and domestic and not-so-fancy evening in my gym clothes, writing and making lists of things that need to get done before we launch again….

20140614-222810-80890056.jpg(photo taken last night from the deck of our ship, in the rain, as the sun was dipping low on the horizon)

A new favorite

One thing about shopping in a country where you don’t know the language is that shopping for groceries can be a bit of an “adventure.” Which is why we accidentally bought lemon-lime soda (euw) instead of bottled water, why we ate pork tenderloin (instead of veal) two days ago, and why we spent more than 10minutes trying to figure out what yogurt to buy for breakfast (and ended up buying two of them, just in case one was yucky).

One happy find has been rabarbar vanilj tea, which is a great drink for the long white nights, and a good substitute for the vanilla sleepy time tea that I like to drink before bed at home.


Our daily bread

One of the aspects of eating out while traveling that never ceases to delight me is the variety of bread that’s served with our meal. Probably I enjoy it so much because I’m already dreaming about the day that my kitchen aid mixer out of storage and start making my own bread once again…

Here are a few pictures of bread from our recent meals:



Obviously there’s nothing ‘paleo’ about my diet–bread remains an ongoing pleasure that I’m not interested in forgoing…

I was lost and then I was found…

Today got started a bit late and it seemed that so many things were going wrong. That was confirmed when I accidentally ended up on a bus heading to the wrong city with only 40 cents in my pocket–not enough for any kind of bus fare to get to where I needed to be. And of course I was in a country where I don’t speak the language, not even a few basic words…

I wasn’t feeling very adventurous at that moment. In fact, I was near tears. I was looking around, wondering who I might beg to help me. (It didn’t help that I had another freak out dream last night, once where I was in the middle of a shooting incident at a college campus, waking up as the shots were ringing all around me at the same time that some passersby we’re screaming outside my bedroom window). I was tired and rather desperate for something familiar…

So, the bus driver helped me figure out what to do to get where I wanted to go, and due to his kindness the next bus driver let me ride for free. And then I got to where I wanted to be, which turned out to be magical. I took a long stroll into the woods, letting myself get lost and not caring, knowing that the road was not far and that I needed some time to clear my head and recover from the fears of earlier.

That that walk ended up in a picturesque ramble through a patch of knee-high stinging nettle should hardly surprise me given the many things that already went wrong.

But then again, so much more went right than went wrong, and I know that someday I’ll such a great story to tell as a result….

P.S. The internet gremlins aren’t allowing me to upload any photos today, so that will have to wait for another time….

Things can happen…

gorgeous peonies at the market this morning

gorgeous peonies at the market this morning

When in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them.” – Out of Africa, 1937

Realizing today just how much of my life has been beyond my imagination–both for the good and for the bad. It seems one of those truths that is most easily recognized at moments of transition.

And, channeling my inner Karen Blixen as a reminder to keep writing and telling my stories even in the midst of so much change…


I’ve always suspected that I would enjoy love sleeping on a train. Last night I tried it for the first time, and guess what? I was right! Now, I am wishing that all modes of travel were so cozy and relaxing (the sleeper car is wayyyyy better than the crowdedness of my last few flights).

One lesson that I won’t forget in the future: each sleeper compartment only has a small allotment of water for the sink/shower. One does not want to run out of water just after one has soaped up in the shower and is ready for a rinse. (Just sayin’)


control issues

Some mornings I wake up realizing that all night long I’ve worried about stuff in my dreams, hashing and re-hashing things over which I have no control.

Last night was one of those nights.

I woke up early this morning, my mind racing with everything to do.  And I was stressed out before the day even began (this, on the heels of a day where Stijn said that I was finally looking relaxed and “myself” again…).  My morning fears were confirmed as I realized that my extra leg battery had gone missing and that it hadn’t charged overnight.

Sometimes I feel so vulnerable, where the inability to charge my knee will mean a loss of mobility and heaps of frustration (and pain). I’m not sure what to do with that vulnerability except to recognize it for what it is and to check (once again) that my batteries are charged and at the ready.  I can’t plan for everything that might go wrong, but somehow I will still keep trying to do so.

The wooden ceiling of an ancient Beguine chapel.  One of yesterday's travel sights.

The wooden ceiling of an ancient Beguine chapel.

But of course there have been days that everything has gone wrong (I’m thinking of that trip to China a few years ago when my new bionic knee completely malfunctioned) or those random moments where I’ve completely lost my charge or just a few days ago when my foot fell off while I was walking home from the market and I had to zombie-drag myself two blocks while leaning on Stijn’s arm.  So far, I’ve survived just fine.  Every time.

So why do I still spend so much time worrying?