Geri Dreiling's writings filed under: Living

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Three hungry swans looking for breakfast. Saturday morning in St. Louis' Lafayette Park. Continue reading...

White rose small

Looking back as life moves forward

By Geri L. Dreiling

"I am a garden adorned by beauty: 
my being will know whether you look at my beauty."

Poem in the Hall of the Two Sisters at the Alhambra 

The idea that popped into my head was, admittedly, a strange one. The day after I visited the Alhambra and the Generalife in July, it suddenly occurred to me that if I could choose a place to haunt in the afterlife, it would be the gardens of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Continue reading...


Pan and Queso

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A delicious daily routine in Madrid

By Geri L. Dreiling

Having a bakery next door is a wonderful -- and dangerous -- thing.  

I'm staying in a quaint, second-floor flat with three balconies in the heart of Madrid. The bedroom has a balcony, the kitchen has a balcony and there's a balcony off the combined living and dining room. Just outside the building is a bakery filled with pistolas or loaves of bread that look like fat baguettes, and all manner of sweet items like cakes and brownies, as well as savory items like empanadas and sandwiches. Continue reading...


Summer Sailstice

Boat Dock

Celebrating the longest day of the year

By Geri L. Dreiling

"Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language." -- Henry James

The summer's gift of extended daylight is cause for celebration. The sky is painted blue and streaked with wisps of white. Nature responds. Daylillies explode into joyful, inverted exclamation points of yellow or orange. Trees drape themselves in leaves of green. Bright red cardinals rejoice at dawn with their distinctive song.   

The longest day of all is known as the summer solstice. Once marked by festivals and fun, it has been largely forgotten as we've embraced the light bulb and turned away from the sun.

But not everyone has abandoned the tradition of honoring the day. Sailing associations throughout the world have adopted it as their own and dubbed it the Summer SailsticeContinue reading...

Fountain at Tower Grove Park.

By Geri L. Dreiling

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time” 
― T. S. EliotSelected Essays

Once upon a long time ago, when I was a kid growing up in Kansas, one of my favorite things to do was to go exploring. I'd head outside with my sister. We didn't know exactly where we were going. We had no idea what we might find. There was no formal agenda. We just hoped that we might stumble upon something surprising.

We'd trek through our backyard -- and the yards of all of our neighbors. In those days, there were no fences separating the homes. One backyard blended with all of the others, creating a massive field dotted with trees and ringed on the outer perimeter by houses.

As explorers, we discovered a variety of treasures: A broken bird's egg, the color of Tiffany blue, with a ragged gash down the middle. We witnessed nature's drama when we encountered a baby bird, out of its protective nest and flailing alone on the ground. We never knew if it would figure out how to fly before a predator pounced.

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I enjoyed an enlightening dinner with my daughter last night. I learned that there is a new phrase for fun that teens are using.

"Turn up," she said.

"T-u-r-n-u-p  or  t-u-r-n-i-p?" I asked.

"It isn't something you eat," she said. "Turn up. Really, turnip?"

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trumpet flower

And the unexpected rewards it can bring

I haven’t been out of the country since January. A work opportunity popped up in my path unexpectedly and I decided to give it a try. Refusing to completely let go of the consulting business I have built and the teaching opportunities I enjoy, I continue to handle them as well. It has meant long days of labor that span the weekends.

I haven’t seen E since he visited in April. When we said goodbye at the airport in St. Louis, we knew his work projects and my new work commitments would prevent us from keeping our every-three-month visit schedule intact. The changes have reverberated even into our daily emails, leaving him unhappy and me feeling guilty.

My son leaves for his freshman year of college in two weeks. Some days, I find myself reminiscing about his childhood. On other days – more accurately the nights when he has missed his curfew yet again – I know it is time for him to go. But when I think about the actual logistics of the move, purchasing laundry detergent, shower shoes, pillows and notebooks, tears gather in my eyes.

My daughter just got her driver’s license a few weeks ago. Impervious to danger, overconfident in her abilities and craving freedom, whenever she bounces out of the house I am on edge.

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By Geri Dreiling

It is early morning, the day after the Connecticut school shooting. I haven’t yet gathered the latest news. I dread reading the updates and seeing the photos of the young victims in the happier moments of their tragically short lives, but I know that eventually I will, feeling that I must somehow bear witness to the event rather than turn my back on it.

And my heart will break. Continue reading...


An Ode to the Crowbar

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A do-it-yourself adventure

By Geri Dreiling

"Sledgehammer? Check. Crowbar? Check. It would be either me or the tool shed. Vegas bookies were reportedly taking bets on my demolition project. Odds favored the tool shed."

That was the declaration of war against the tool shed that I posted -- just like any other modern nation launching an attack – on social media. In this instance, I used my personal Facebook page as the platform.  Once former high school classmates, friends, work friends, relatives and the parents of my children’s friend had seen my declaration, I knew I had to see it through. Continue reading...


Chainsaw Therapy

Original garden ornamental

Sometimes power tools are a girl’s best friend

By Geri Dreiling

It is said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. I beg to differ. In my experience, nothing beats a chainsaw. Fire one up – or in my power-tools-with-training-wheels example – plug it into an outlet and push a button. Then you’ll discover the joy that comes with wielding a tree-chopping, debris-clearing weapon.

My crush on the chainsaw really took off this past summer. Divorcing when your kids are teens triggers an early onset of empty nest syndrome. They spend half of their time with their father. And when they are with me, they’re headed off to the mall, out with friends, to jobs and to sporting activities in their own cars. In other words, they’re moving forward in their lives – as they should. Continue reading...