der Landstreicher Has Moved!

You can find new posts by Marisa at the new iteration of this blog, landstreicherin, at

Landstreicher is German for hobo, tramp, vagrant, drifter, wanderer, roamer. Someone who doesn’t hold a job for long, who rolls across the land as the wind pushes, making what he can of what comes. Wanders the land to see what he can see, and doesn’t have a home.

A Landstreicherin is a woman who does the same.

With this new website, I am reclaiming a place on the web for my words. I write about places, whether new or old to me, and books that I’ve read, and the life that I’m building. I’m always seeking the optimal arrangements for happiness and beauty in my home, I’m trying my hand at gardening, and I’m working on learning Turkish. I love to stare off into the distance, to appreciate landscapes, to see the world as it once was and could later be, as well as how it is now. I’m a devotee of trains, commuter up to transcontinental, and I love animals: house cats and fat collegiate squirrels and the wild beasts I wish had more freedom to roam the earth.

When I first took the name Landstreicher from Hermann Hesse’s novella Knulp, I was about to move to Germany for a year, and I was excitedly imagining my semi-nomadic future. I visited thirteen countries over the course of that year. Then I moved back to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and have lived here ever since. I have no great attachment to the specific character Knulp, the carefree, wandering man who avoids career and commitment, who over the course of his life experiences neither the trouble nor the rewards of responsibility and loyalty. I could not be happy without a home. But I do want to live a life that doesn’t cost me forty hours out of every week, one that is flexible, mobile, meaningful. I want to dabble in different interests, to travel the world, to explore ways of living. So I’ve adapted Landstreicher to Landstreicherin for this new iteration of my blog.

Please follow me at You can also find me on Instagram as mapooka.


I can't believe I never instagrammed this. What an amazing place to eat a custom ice cream sandwich, as the cows are about to get their evening meal. Moomers, you are delicious. Chocolate salted caramel ice cream, amazing; cookies for the sandwich—underwhelming, will not repeat.

I can't blog tonight because of an intense sugar craving and irresistible exhaustion. Maybe tomorrow will be the day I actually write some posts.

Lunch Break Reflections (While Eating a Grilled Cheese Sandwich in the Cafeteria)

So last night, when I could have been blogging and SHOULD have been getting ready for bed, I decided to move one of the couches a little bit to test out a new idea I had—a new idea involving diagonals. I was pretty sure it wouldn't pass muster with Cooper, but I wanted to see. The big couch barely fit there, but shifting it did change the shape of the room, breaking free of the tyranny of not enough space and too many doors, which had forced us to line up every piece of furniture along the perimeter of the living room (and in the bedroom, too).

A simple solution is to just get rid of some stuff, so things don't feel so tight. On the one hand, I'm not as in love with my red leather couch as I once was, but on the other, I like having two couches with room for five people, since I still harbor fantasies of having friends over and I like to have a cozy place to hang out with them if it ever happens again. So fallen from grace or not (it's an insistent red that wants to dictate every other element of design; it's holding me back!), we keep the couch, because now is not the time for a new one, and two armchairs instead of a new couch would also certainly cost too much. I can't say the red Klippan sparks any joy anymore, but it seems I'm just not ready, and not rich enough, to fully accept Marie Kondo's tantalizing prescripts and throw it away. Instead, I succumb to logic and stubbornly and reluctantly hold on to this couch that still functions, dammit, even if its existence pisses me off once a week.

But maybe, in partial acceptance of the reality of our social lives, we can turn that red loveseat that Cooper and I rarely sit on away from the TV—since we almost never manage to have people over, the likelihood of a group movie night has plummeted to zero, and we like to share one couch together—which opens up one...or maybe even two! possibilities in this tight space. Because, you see, the diagonals really didn't work. Diagonal one was promising, but couch number two on an angle leaves a super weird open triangle of room behind it, which couch one (the only couch we ever use) has to stare at. So instead, I moved the big couch farther, ninety degrees from its customary position, and put the TV in a much weirder place so that the grey couch sitters (two humans, two cats) could still see the screen, and...I don't know.
I affected change! It's kinda cozy! Whether we try out the new layout or return to the old, we need a bigger living room rug. And the lighting is currently bad in this new arrangement, there's still an awkward useless corner next to the front door where junk will probably accumulate, and not a definite spot to add in an armchair (long cherished dream; ignore what I said about already having too much furniture).

Jury's out, and so's my confidence.

If you come back tomorrow, maybe there'll be photos. If it's sunny and I can get a good one. But that would take the surprise away from Cooper, who doesn't return from California until Sunday, we'll see.

Photos 1 & 2: Before. Photos 3 & 4: After.


Looks like chaos. Feels like the path to a breakthrough.
An hour later, it turns out none of it was a breakthrough. Now I have an entire living room to move back. Some other time.

The Plus Side of Winter

Although the mountain country of North Carolina in the eighteenth century is a whole different world than this one in which we live, there are elements to aspire to. I give you Drums of Autumn, book four of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, which is sprinkled with beautiful scenes and feelings of homeyness:
The winter held off for some time, but snow began to fall in the night on November 28, and we woke to find the world transformed. Every needle on the great blue spruce behind the cabin was frosted, and ragged fringes of ice dripped from the tangle of wild raspberry canes.
The snow wasn’t deep, but its coming changed the shape of daily life. I no longer foraged during the day, save for short trips to the stream for water, and for lingering bits of green cress salvaged from the icy slush along the banks. Jamie and Ian ceased their work of log felling and field clearing, and turned to roof shingling. The winter drew in on us, and we in turn withdrew from the cold, turning inward. 
We had no candles; only grease lamps and rushlights, and the light of the fire that burned constantly on the hearth, blackening the roof beams. We therefore rose at first light, and lay down after supper, in the same rhythm as the creatures of the forest around us. 
We had no sheep yet, and thus no wool to card or spin, no cloth to weave or dye. We had no beehives yet, and thus no wax to boil, no candles to dip. There was no stock to care for, save the horses and mules and the piglet, who had grown considerably in both size and irascibility, and in consequence been exiled to a private compartment in the corner of the crude stable Jamie had built—this itself no more than a large open-fronted shelter with a branch-covered roof. [...] 
With few chores to do outside, there was time to talk, to tell stores, and to dream. Between the useful objects like spoons and bowls, Jamie took time to carve the pieces of a wooden chess set, and spent a good deal of his time trying to inveigle me or Ian into playing with him. 
Ian and Rollo, who both suffered badly from cabin fever, took to visiting Anna Ooka frequently, sometimes going on extended hunting trips with the young men from the village, who were pleased to have the benefit of his and Rollo’s company. 
“The lad speaks the Indian tongue a great deal better than he does Greek or Latin,” Jamie observed with some dourness, watching Ian exchanging cordial insults with an Indian companion as they left on one such excursion. 
“Well, if Marcus Aurelius had written about tracking porcupines, I expect he’d have found a more eager audience,” I replied soothingly. 
Dearly as I loved Ian, I was myself not displeased by his frequent absence. There were definitely times when three was a crowd. 
There is nothing more delightful in life than a feather bed and an open fire—except a feather bed with a warm and tender lover in it. When Ian was gone, we would not trouble with rushlights but would go to bed with the dark, and lie curled together in shared warmth, talking late into the night, laughing and telling stories, sharing our pasts, planning our future, and somewhere in the midst of the talking, pausing to enjoy the wordless pleasures of the present. (Pages 380-383) 
Photo: Snowy evergreens in Bavaria, on a visit to Schloß Neuschwanstein in 2008.

Porch Season

I wrote this post about my fire escape in the spring, and never followed up with photos of what I did. Mainly what I did was buy mostly-boring pots, and set up a little kitchen garden outside the bedroom, and then unroll a colorful rug woven of recycled plastic during patches of good weather when I thought we'd go out there more just to water the garden. The rug is pretty great, but I think sunshine was also an essential component of my modest renovation.

Basil, parsley, tomatoes, basil. A cutie red Kalanchoe to go with a turquoise pot. Spiders lived in it all summer.

A pleasing setup with the rug, and our cilantro that went to seed almost immediately. Cats who desperately need to join their humans outside (streng verboten).

Everyone out for some sun. Our previously majestic thyme (now languishing in the sunny stairwell.)
Looking out of the bedroom to the fire escape. Picnicking on the floor with leftovers and champagne.