Long before the Covid-19 pandemic upended many aspects of our lives, I was accustomed to working at home. When I wasn’t doing research in Europe and Asia, or traveling overseas as a lecturer on cruises and train tours, I was at home working on my computer—writing food and travel articles for German Life, writing and editing books, and preparing new lectures for my tour jobs abroad. But since international travel has been curtailed for who-knows-how-long, almost of my work is now centered on my home office.
Staring at a computer screen for several hours a day can be mind-numbing, especially in a job that requires creative thinking. So I like to work in an environment that stimulates thought. The walls of my home office are lined with bookshelves (overstuffed) and file cabinets (overflowing), their tops crowded with folk-art animals I’ve collected on my travels. There are live animals, too: One of my cats likes to lounge in the cat condo by a big window, watching birds and squirrels in the trees outside. The other cat prefers to walk across my computer keyboard and send all my files to China. He taught me—the hard way—that I need to click on “Save” every five minutes or risk losing an hour’s work to the pressure of a playful paw.