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On Saturday the Mormon Church just down the street from us caught fire and burned.  My friend who lives next door---VERY close---was  in her kitchen at the time, and was ordered out by the fire chief, who said that her house was likely going to go.  It was the classic what-to-save situation. She said she looked around and realized that it was all "just stuff."  She took her laptop and her cell phone.

And she was lucky because her house is unscathed.  Eventually some salvaged valuables from the church were stored briefly in her house---but she said, "Lots of paintings of Jesus. I wonder if he felt comfortable in our Jewish household."  After a while Jesus was moved to the Friends Meeting House nearby and presumably will stay there---among friends--- for a while.

I have just come back from Dubuque, Iowa, a quick trip---a flight out there, a speech in the evening, and a flight home the next day.  But it was a nice time. A good crowd, interesting poeple and a lovely city.

Then, last night, here in Cambridge, a wonderful fund-raising event headed by writer Alice Hoffman, She does this almost every year, to raise money for the Hoffman Breast Center at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge. Alice was treated there for breast cancer some years ago, and now, in part because of her incredible fund-raising,  it is a world-class facility and has been a source of healing and hope for many, mnay women.

At each event, six writers read from their work, after a lovely cocktail/hors-doeuvres and followed by dessert and coffee.  Last night the authors were Elizabeth Berg, Sebastian Junger, Gregory Maguire, Claire Messud, Tom Perrotta, and Jennifer Weiner.  I did it one year and I can't remember all of the others that year, but I know two of them were Anna Quindlen and Alice McDermott, plus Debra Winger, who read from a friend's work.

I am packing today, and leaving tonight for a ten-day trip that will take me first to London and then to Africa.  Then a quick trip to LA when I get back, and after that to Maine, where I will settle in and work hard and without distracton on at least three separate projects.

And in the middle of the summer, in late July, am taking my two grandsons, 8 and almost-11,  on a week-long adventure.

OKay. Passport. Camera. Anti-malaria medication. Check. check. check.