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Timing can mean everything in life, making for sheer bliss when it’s right and dashed hopes when it isn’t. This year I set my sights on completing a book manuscript in time to take a ten day summer vacation in Italy with my family. Whether from due diligence or dumb luck, somehow it worked out.

The vacation was every bit the reward I had hoped for. After months of wrangling with some of the eleven contributors to my anthology on reclaimed German citizenship, I craved physical activity in the outdoors. Hiking up to panoramic vistas in the karst terrain outside Trieste and walking in Rilke’s footsteps near the Duino Castle where he lived helped me to clear out my mind and sweat out my stress. I savored the long days that ended with eating pizza parmigiana and sipping Aperol spritzes while getting all five Swarthouts to answer the “question of the evening.”

Just a little more time in the family bubble, exploring and eating our way through northern Italy, would have been nice. Coming home meant not just going back to work, but also getting ready to send our second child (and only daughter!) off to college in Scotland. I’ve got to keep adapting to the movement of time.

But I was pleasantly surprised upon our return to receive the manuscript proof of A Place They Called Home from the publisher. At just over 200 pages it has a nice heft to it, uses some cool fonts like Baskerville, and includes great photos of the authors. I started proofreading this weekend, and though it’s a bit tedious, it’s a good feeling to be in the polishing-up stage. Plans are underway for a book launch late this year and I’ll be sure to post them here.