Traveling Again? Are You Sure?

It’s a funny thing how much we forget when we look the other way. To be honest, I always assume that “what you know” is what you know, and it’s yours for life.

Cue laughter.

Cue more laughter.

But it seems that during the pandemic, when we fashioned a whole new way of living, a lot of the daily stuff fell right out of my brain due to a change of focus. Sure I wrote a lot and published a book, but the truth is that when they say “use it or lose it” — well, it’s not just a poetic suggestion.

As it happens, I’m about to return to travel, and surprisingly I find myself looking through old trips to remember what I used to pack. Honestly, it’s a bit mortifying. And since I’m scheduled for four delightful outings this year, I need a primer … and I need it fast.

It used to be so easy. I knew exactly what I needed for the time of year and location, I knew exactly where it was in my closet, and I knew exactly how much (or how little!) to pack. Dare I say … it was fun. And I repeatedly threw it all together the day before take-off.

This year, ahem, I pulled down my faithful suitcase, stared at it for a couple of days, and then started a walkabout to decide which items might be selected. Basically, I needed to be warm and dry, which is not always easy in Ireland. So basically, that meant dry clothes to wear while wet clothes are drying.

And then there’s the task itself. Yes, I remember how to pack (roll it up). Yes, I remember WHAT to pack. Well … mostly. But if I forget something, I can probably get it there, right? Probably maybe.

But my biggest pickle is with the airlines, which I suppose is nothing new. Two legs over and two legs back, with the middle legs on a different airline. (Cue laughter)

How hard can it be to reserve a seat? There are people, there are seats, and the seats are designed to seat the people. Voila. And yet ….

To be fair, the airline provides some directions for claiming a seat. “Please ensure that you are aware of the latest travel requirements for your destination prior to arriving at the airport.”

No biggie. I click on the italicized portion and … nothing. I eventually find and click on a much longer description of available seats (with photos!) and … nothing.

So here’s the deal. Basically, there are seats for anything and everyone, including musical instruments and pets, But somehow, there’s no way for ME to reserve a seat. There are words about choosing and reserving your seat, which is lovely, but the actual directions for claiming a seat appear not to exist. The seats just sit there, refusing to allow even the tiniest, softest click.

You can, of course, return to the beginning, where they will string you along with another option for claiming a seat, but … there’s no link for clicking or claiming or exchanging or sneaking or stealing — leaving me with only zero options. No phone assistance. No website assistance. No feeling that everything is under control. I do have a piece of paper that looks rather like a ticket and a six digit number that could, I suppose, perform the duties of a ticket … but … is it really? And if it is, why can’t I claim it???

And so my return to travel takes on something of my younger days, when skies were indeed friendly, the leather seats were deep and wide, and the gates were rife with family members hugging goodbyes as you as you flew seamlessly into adventure.

Only with none of that.

Star Struck

A few years ago, I took a walk with my son and grandson through Historic Fourth Ward Park — a beautiful wildflower and indigenous plant heaven with a watershed pond smack in the middle of Midtown Atlanta. We walked and walked and gaped in surprise at the loveliness in front of us. And isn’t it funny how many “native” plants you’ve never seen before? Humans do have a bottomless hunger for the new, don’t we? — so often ignoring what’s right in front of us.

After resetting my expectations, I wanted to sit on the steps a bit and get a fuller view, and then a thing happened — I glanced down. And then? Sprinkled across the steps were metallic stars and equally delightful shapes in every color just sitting there glittering at me.

At first I wondered why someone had left their treasure behind, but I soon realized the answer — of course they had left them for me, and for any other passerby who needed a moment of joy.

As summer continued, I made two additional trips to Atlanta, again charmed by walks and hikes and exploring with no agenda other than Mac’s nap time. We could go anywhere, and indeed we went everywhere — parks and woodlands and rivers and bamboo forests and streams cleansed the soul and sharpened the vision, and it was bliss.

And surprisingly, the stars never stopped appearing, showing themselves on the Georgia Tech campus, city streets, the Doll Cemetery, along river beaches and woods, at a roadside memorial, the waterfall park in Greenville, my Charlotte walking path, and even at Pawleys Island. I knew they were left for me — left for each of us — as a message to hold on, look high, laugh, eat good food, create, sharpen my sight, keep walking, keep acknowledging, keep dreaming.

Nine months later I bought a package of gold stars and we tossed them high on New Year’s Eve. Not surprisingly, there are still a gracious plenty between the planks of my kitchen table, and seeing one glint with the light as I walk past never fails to make me happy. And now since that very first 2020 sighting of the stars, they’ve just kept coming, usually where you’d least expect to see them, and other times when you need to see them most.

We are never as alone as we feel.

Little Darlings

Last week I had the supreme pleasure of playing with babies, and I can tell you right off that there’s nothing better.

Nothing. But you knew that.

It all started with a parental trip to the hinterlands of a 40 foot snowfall — the perfect adventure in the perfect location, otherwise known as “too far away for the sitter to throw a tantrum and beg them to come home.”

Consequently, it didn’t matter if the kiddies loved me or loathed me — they were 100% stuck with me for a week. I, of course, was in heaven.

I now realize that I never really envisioned heaven properly. I knew it involved glitter, Bluey, dancing raucously atop the four foot high marble island, tiny tea sets with tiny spoons, and running with scissors. Still, while my own imagination may have begun drooping at least hourly, these babes never once drooped, not even during my mental collapse and their subsequent invasion of the blue and white “good” china. “Ooooh, let’s play flying saucer!!!”

Bath time rodeos? Check! Midnight sonatas? Check! The quick consummation of 5 bags (at 48 pieces per bag) of chicken nuggets for dinner three nights in a row? Check! Painting grandma’s hair with glitter bombs? Check!

But oh the joy of it all — I just can’t tell you — though I’ll gladly share a bit below:

Images taken at Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Fernbank, and Virginia Highlands, left to right: Smiling Giant, Wishful Thinking, Giant Wooden Forest Tulips, A Garden of Mesh Birds, the Water Maiden, Happy Frogs, Planting for Spring, Pure Joy

Teetering on the Edge

I’m not the

edgy girl.

No tats, no spikes, no dreads.

No piercings, no punk.

I may

on certain


look like the herd animal who


and waits

and watches —

hour by


In truth,

I love to teeter on the edge.

I love the glance.

There are lifetimes in a glance.

I love the sudden moment,

the realization that points me toward a choice.

I love the choosing,

rife with possibility.

I love the release,

the willing trade of certainty for chance.

I love the dance,

the should I? in full blood alliance with the windswept YES.

I love the joy,

the fearless taking of the Yes Yes Yes.

I love the leap,

the secret willingness to fly.

I love the fall to earth,

my home, my love.

Waves may be small, but oh

I love

the splash.

© Pam Goode

I Don’t Understand

(Mosaic by Pam Goode)

There are so many people walking in my neighborhood. They walk for relief, to exercise their pups, to grab at the sun, for a bit of human contact, to fill and empty and refill their lungs, to live, to be life, to embrace the simple and push aside the rest.

It seems so lovely, and yet …. sometimes I wonder at this other life we live.

I wonder why we can’t halt the world at its simplest and most pure — even for a moment — and revel in it enough to get us through until the next human-made catastrophe.

I don’t understand why some have the desire to overpower. Why the rush to war … or even the acceptance of war? I don’t understand how to turn a blind eye to madness just because it’s not on my turf.

I don’t understand why or how we move from “different” to “hate.”

I don’t understand the need to control, to subjugate. I don’t understand the ego boost of physically overpowering another human being just because you can.

We’re all capable of self control, even when some part of us struggles with it.

When I was young, I believed that if I looked closely at all the horror and pain that I saw around me and really felt it, then karma would be served and I wouldn’t have to live the horror myself. I’ve been lucky there.

And yet it isn’t unusual to see horror bestowed on the gentlest and most generous.

I don’t understand.

I don’t understand.

Why can’t we all look at a human being and see a human being?

Barcelona Anyone?

I’m heading back to Barcelona in June with a group of fabulous women. It’s one of those cities that I just can’t spend enough time in for oh so many reasons. A few, and only a few, are listed below.

1. The first thing you’ll notice about Barcelona is that she’s raucously colorful, and I do mean COLORFUL. From the exteriors to the ceilings to the street art, Barcelona is vibrant, shimmery, and alive.

2. She’s her own self, legally separated from Spain proper, and proud of her independence.

3. Barcelona reeks of art, from the galleries, to the buildings, to the streets, to the people.

4. Don’t get me wrong — everyone still wears black of course, but they’re too nice to snub you if you show up in chartreuse.

5. She’s easy peasy breezy — fully walkable with a mild Meditteranean climate.

6. And of course, it’s smack dab on the ocean. You can walk a few blocks and stick your toes right in that gorgeous sea.

7. Did I save the best for last? Food Heaven. Lots of bits and bites everywhere you go, and the restaurants are top notch and inventive. You should know that restaurants open at 10:00. P.M., of course.

See below for descriptions of the images above:

  • 1, The Rooftop of Casa Battlo, otherwise known as The Dragon. And yes, they do have events up there!
  • 2. The face of Casa Battlo. After a tour, have your photo taken from one of the balconies.
  • 3. Political Street Art
  • 4. Palau de la Musica stained glass
  • 5. Mosaic and tile ceilings at Hospital Sant Pau
  • 6. Beautiful Street Art

Stay tuned — more soon!

Of Narwhals and Blobfish

Nature — What in the name of HUH???? can you do with it?

The title alone leaves you skeptical, right? Maybe you don’t even want to look. But how can you not?

And hey, I’m all about the info share.

The narwhal is a medium-ish … fish…? Well no, it’s a whale. Not a big whale, which kind makes the name “whale” not quite fit, and in truth it actually doesn’t much look like a whale at all … but they call it one. Following along in the huh? category, it claims a giant protrusion where its smiling face should be, and lives year-round in the very cold places. Very. Cold.

Considered a “toothed whale”, it manages to stand out from all the other toothed whales because, um, it doesn’t have any teeth.

Well that’s not entirely true — the males do have one (you heard that right). One tooth. What do you do with one tooth? And this one tooth grows straight out of his upper left jaw for a whopping 10 feet. Do they really get to call it a tooth? Try hauling that to the dentist for a check-up.

And it’s no baby tooth, either. Babies, by order, have to be cute. This one has a counterclockwise spiralized sword sticking lopsidedly out of the narwhal’s jaw.

Not sexy enough for you? How about this? The old Norse prefix “Nar” means “corpse” and “hval” means “whale”, so basically we’re talking about a “corpse whale.” If that’s not off-putting enough for you, apparently the “corpse whale” refers to the skin color of a drowned sailor. Sigh.

On the flip side, these babes are among the deepest diving marine mammals, able to dive 5,905 feet or just hang out at around 2,600 feet. Now that’s some pressure! They also swim while sleeping, play with their offspring, and communicate long distance by producing ghostly squealing, whistling, and high-pitched clicks.

So yeah, I’m pretty cool with the Narwhal. Very cool twisty fencing foil, otherwise known as a tooth. Props, and lots of them.

The Blobfish, on the other hand, is a very nuanced type of cool — in other words, you have to really, really, really open up to ugly in order to hug one.

Firstly, he’s under 12 inches long. Basically, he’s prey.

Secondly, he’s already known as “The World’s Ugliest Animal”, so it’s no real surprise that he lives 2,000 – 4,000 feet below the surface. With no skeleton. And no muscle. Um, hello? Did everyone forget me down here?

This babe lives off the coast of Australia, and the pressure at his home depth is up to 120 times higher than it is at the surface. Submarine territory. “Do Not Try This at Home.”

But there’s a reason for his blobbiness. Says Henry Reich of Minute Physics: “Unlike most other fish, the ones that live in these depths don’t have gas-filled cavities like swim bladders that would collapse under the extreme pressure. In fact, super-deepwater fish often have minimal skeletons and jelly-like flesh, because the only way to combat the extreme pressure of deep water is to have water as your structural support.” Now I’m beginning to like him.

So why is the world so hard on the blobfish? Because if you thrust me 4,000 feet below the water my organs would be crushed into oblivion and I’d turn into some sort of paste. Meanwhile the blobfish would just look like …. well … a blob.

So cheers to all those beings out there who stick out in a crowd, go their own way, and still manage to feed and fuel the earth.

Please Don’t Shoot Me

I’ve always loathed being on the lens end of a camera. Maybe that pre-teen awkwardness was something I never grew out of, or maybe I just hated having people stare at me, even for the two seconds it took to focus and push the button. But mostly, I think, it’s that I can’t find the Me in photographs. Shortish with dark hair and a penchant for bare feet, self recognition seemed to end there. Whose face is that? Are her dreams my dreams? Why doesn’t she smile? There’s a disconnect there and I don’t know how to piece it together. I suppose I just don’t want to be noticed, sometimes even by myself. I do wonder if I write to leave bits of me here and there — a picture in scribbled words where there are no images.

I’m not the only one. My mom hated having her picture taken, and solved the issue by grimacing or sticking her tongue out for every click of the camera. It was a pretty effective way to erase the possibility that maybe this was her real face, or worse, her real soul, being shown. Me, I just duck and turn my focus elsewhere.

I don’t know why. I think it started as shyness and morphed into reticence over the vast array of personalities out there, particularly in the early school years. How anyone gets through them is a mystery.

Of course the older I get, the less often someone asks for a photo, and that’s okay with me. As the decades have floated by and I’ve had to learn (or fake) adult interaction, it’s gotten easier — but I’ve also learned to turn off interaction when necessary. Life is filled with a zillion different kinds of people; the wise ones know this and celebrate diversity with careful choices. And on the days when all the crazies are out, there’s always the choice of an innocuous mask. Or a donkey. Donkeys are great attention grabbers, and they never, ever ask to take pictures of you.

The Wild One

In the end,

(and there is always an end),

I will never be




The one who leaps

without looking.

Who says her mind

of a moment

(without weighing




The one who feels so



that she speaks

and Acts

in a fluidity

that escapes me.

My wildness is




and my leaps teeter on the wind like fledgling birds.

And yet I leap.

Because the heart

still rules,

and the wind still lifts.

© Pamela Pardue Goode

(Written while cutting pink circles in a race to finish a mosaic)

Travel for the Faint of Heart

Balk all you want about the agonies of airline travel, the bitch of baggage, the crunch of crowds, or the plethora of peddlers trying to pawn off umbrellas in the rain, but travel rocks.

Sure the first day is an overload of exhaustion, logistics, and deer-in-the-headlights incomprehension of the local ways of doing things. Or in many cases, simply not doing things. Because, you know, there’s so much to celebrate, to savor, to explore, to talk about — who cares about schedules? If you’re thinking Romans, you’re oh so very helplessly wrong. But once you throw your own expectations and habits out the window, it gets pretty damn interesting.

If Travel Season isn’t quite upon us, it’s knocking on the door. Have you made plans? Picked a country? A city? Five cities? Five countries? You’re my Girl!

Things I Learned in Rome, or Travel Tips for the Squeamish, by Pam

1. Relax. The hardest thing I’ve had to do on this trip is gut it up to open the prosecco bottle by myself. It didn’t kill me.

2. Rent an apartment instead of a hotel room. More for your money, room to spread out, the option to eat in (or have a pre- or post-dinner Prosecco at the ready, and best of all, it’s yours.

3. Reserve a room with a tub. You’ll be glad.

4. Prearrange a car from the airport to your hotel/apartment. You don’t want to be hauling-too-much-luggage while trying to find the right train unless you’re 22 and tireless. You’ll still be tired. Reserve the car.

5. Bring at least one pair of shoes that you can walk in for 10 hours a day, and the bandaids to go with them. Good bandaids. Strong bandaids. Bandaids with as much cushion as you can scare up. Keep the bandaids right next to the American Express (as in, don’t leave home . . .).  NOTE: And yes, you CAN stack 10 bandaids between a blister and a shoe. Ask me how I know.

6. Find the closest grocery store the first day. You’re sure to need something, and you probably won’t know the Italian/French/Croation word for shower cap. Knowing the closest pharmacy will also be useful.

7. Don’t bother learning to pronounce Arrivederci. The go-to phrase when leaving a shop is Grazie-Ciao-ByeBye-Buona Sera-NightNight. Apparently in Italian-speak, this is one word.

8. Don’t worry about what’s going on at home. Stuff will happen. It will get taken care of. And you’ll come home with a clearer perspective — and the travel bug.

9. Mornings and evenings are the best time to wander. Fewer tourists, less noise, and the locals you run into will be doing interesting things, like scrubbing down the step into a cafe, polishing a crate of tomatoes, or setting out tools in their workshop.

10. There is much less crime in Europe, and people out walking at all hours. Take a deep breath and look around; you are so much safer here than in the US. It feels good, free.

11. WARNING: There have been a few moments on this most recent trip to Italy that have made me wonder if my traveling days are coming to an end. I can pretty much sum up those moments in one word: Cobblestones.

I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, Italians don’t really use grout, do they? Add a few centuries of freeze/thaw cycles and it’s increasingly rare to find two contiguous stones at the same height. So I should have anticipated that navigating the streets/sidewalks/lanes is less an act of walking and more a sort of calculated selection and tentative toeing from one 3″ x 3″ island to the next. But hey, if the Italians can do it in heels, and they do, then I can find a way.

12. Which brings me back to my son’s mantra: It’s All About the Shoes.