I recently took an unscheduled trip “home” to the USA. The quotation marks are needed because my concept of home and what it means has been drastically altered by twenty-plus years living overseas. And if you think my concept of home is messed-up, you should talk to my kids! But that’s a different post.

Home to me is holding on to those sentimental moments and feelings from childhood which I can fortunately still relive thanks to my parents who have lived in the same house for the past fifty-six years – the same house that I grew up in – the same house that still has my bedroom in the basement, complete with Pirates pennants and treasured knickknacks from my youth. My kids can really see how I grew up, and that’s pretty special. So as I have the privilege of enjoying “home” for a few days during this fine summer of 2016, I thought I’d list out the simple pleasures that make me reminisce about the good ‘ole days.

rhubarb pie – I mean, the list could end here and it would be complete. The sour-sweetness on a flaky crust, home at its finest. Summer at its finest.

front porches – two front porch swings which gently glide back and forth as family chat and watch the intermittent traffic go by. (My Dad said, “I know what you forgot to bring, your baseball radar gun. These cars are going way too fast!”

garden – it’s a ritual to walk among the real fruits of the earth and be reminded that beans and peppers don’t come from the supermarkets. The green tomatoes hanging off the vines, the green beans dragging their limbs across the dirt, the onion tops falling flat to the ground with too much weight, the raspberry bushes coming alive with green berries, the lattice covering on the lettuce to keep the pesky bunnies away, the rows of dark green potato plants growing their goodness underground, the plump-round watermellons which form overnight, the concord grapes loaded like the promise of Canaan …

home-cooking – the juciest, charcoal-smoked burgers around, sweet corn picked earlier that morning, desserts which never end from that previously mentioned pie to blondies and chocolate cupcakes and ice cream (it’s why I can’t live here long!!!), five courses at one meal when I’m used to one

trees – so many Pennsylvania trees that you think the entire world is breathing just fine due to the endless green

windy roads – shaded, darty, narrow-spined roads jaunting in every direction; taking you no where in particular except to see those Pennsylvania trees and the farms which had been carved out of the forest

pace – a world away from traffic and world problems; a respite from talking-heads and email-servers and making places great and the 24/7 news cycle; a pace that allows one to listen and hear, to speak and be spoken to, to laugh and enjoy away from Harding’s “Madding Crowd.”

This is a small taste of home. It’s been special to be here, and I miss it when I’m gone. But I’m much better for having the chance to experience it all once again.

(Written from the front porch swing with a temperate breeze at my back.)



Love the rainstorms here in Penang. At the moment, this is what it looks like outside my house.

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Massive puddle forming in the front yard from all the roof run-off. See all those plants, including the California palm, that’s my wife’s work. I mow the grass. Certainly not on days like this. Here’s another view.

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This also gives you a view of what my neighborhood looks like. Gated community (automatic, remote controlled gates which are awesome), mainly Chinese with a bunch of expats sprinkled in. Our street is a quiet dead-end. The governor of Penang used to live on this street. It’s on the side of Pearl Hill which continues up about 1500 ft above us. It’s a great place to walk. Again, not in the rain.

This is typical September weather. Big storms roll through in the evening – sometimes in the morning – but mainly evening. The house is quite cool now, even without the air conditioner on. It’s 26 c, and feels great when sitting under a fan. Normally we’d be sweating without AC at this hour.

We’ve been in this exact house for nearly 10 years. It’s been a blessing for us. I can’t remember how many rainstorms like this we’ve enjoyed, but the rolling thunder and flashes of lightning are welcome respite to the hot, muggy weather in Penang. I love rainy season.

This is probably the most low-keyed blog post I’ve ever written, but just wanted to share a little of the rain with you.

Stay cool!