Jim Toner

I am an English teacher at Columbia College, an idyllic place in the Sierra foothills near Yosemite National Park. I wake up at around 6;30, brew coffee from Verve roastery in Santa Cruz and sip it from the same mug every morning made on a pottery wheel by my friend Sifu, a broad cup that fits both hands with a heart on the center and the word “Integrity” etched onto the bottom. I sit on an adirondack rocker on my porch with my coffee, watching the morning bicyclists pass by. I ready for awhile (currently “Transatlantic” by Colum McCann) and then eventually rise to go to work. For my commute I walk from my house along a forest path that follows a man-made water flume built by the gold miners in 1850. Thanks to my college, I’m able to live this dream of traveling the world with my family during this sabbatical year. 




  1. Lucy Berry

    Hello Jim.
    We were at college together.
    Remember me and my Mum?
    And Shortwood?
    And my trip to visit you and your family in Cleveland?
    Well email me if you feel like it.
    It would be great to here from you…

  2. Justin

    Jim- It took you leaving the country to get your Cleveland Indians back into contention (the same can’t be said about the hapless Browns)! I hope all is well and you’re not having too much fun!

    Justin Henricus

    • Justin

      I take that back. The Browns actually don’t look all that terrible!

      • Jim Toner

        Jim Toner

        That’s right, Justin. Go Browns! (And sorry about dem Raiders this year.)

  3. John Crane

    One more common thread….. Verve coffee, but I drink it straight from the pot!

    • Jim Toner

      Jim Toner

      Hey John,
      Nice to hear from you. To be honest, I’m not missing Verve coffee here in Italy, here in the land of espresso and cappuccinos.

      • Katie Slocum

        Well damn! Because I was going to send you some! Maybe when you get to India, it’ll be a needed treat.

  4. lil j

    My mother asked me to send you a thank you today, as she finished up her first encounter with Frank McCourt. I sent her Angela’s Ashes and she immediately devoured it. Then she went straight to the local library and took out Tis and Teacher Man. When I spoke with her today, she asked me to please thank you for bringing Angela’s Ashes into our English course because –even though it took over 8 years to get to her–she has been introduced to a whole new genre of literature. (not her own words there….I had to translate through a bunch of Hoosier speak.) Love ya, JimmyJam!

    lil j

    p.s. Apparently the U.S. Postal System is not responsible for other countries mail delivery timelines…they only give timelines for their own part of the transaction.

    • Jim Toner

      Jim Toner

      Really, is that how it worked with Angela’s Ashes? I led it to you and you led it to mamma? Glad she enjoyed it. How are things, little J? So happy to know that you’re spending time with Peggy and that Waldorf keeps working wonders for you. Go give your hubby a kiss for me. He’s been such a help with this blog thing-a-ma-jigger. Love, love, love –Jimmy T

  5. Shelley Muniz

    Hi Jim, I’ve been following your blog and am really enjoying it. Safe travels to you!

  6. Katie slocum

    Hey Jimmy T

    I’ve been following along religiously and I’ve already realized that someday this blog will be over and I’ll be very sad and will have to change my routines.

    How do you feel like people in the countries you’ve visited so far approach the concept of change? In America, we seem to stray away from it, but we always latch on to the new release of movies, books, clothing lines, etc. It’s as if our consumer culture tells us change is good, but if someone tries to change our daily lives, we get upset. What do you think?

    • Jim Toner

      Jim Toner

      Hey there, Katie–

      Always so great to hear from you. No worries yet about the end of the blog! We still have a few hundred days to go. Regarding change, I’m finding that these European countries don’t find that it carries much value. Continuity, like a son taking over the father’s cheese shop, is of greater value than striking out on your own. And buildings are kept up for hundreds and hundreds of years rather than razed to the ground and a new one built to replace it. So change is part of our American consumerism, I think.

      Hey, remember the manuscript “Dolora”? Well, it’s passed the first level of readers at University of Georgia Press with favorable reviews, and though it still has a couple of steep hurdles before they commit to publishing, I’m glad to know it’s alive and kicking.

      Big hugs to Morgan,
      Jimmy T

      • Katie Slocum

        I love that, I think we feel the same way 🙂

        OF COURSE I remember Dolora!! I loved it so much. I’m excited to see if it gets the recognition it deserves! This is great! I feel so honored that I got to have a little helping hand in the process of maybe publishing it!

        I think I could totally see this blog as a book, too. As is.

        Can’t wait to read more!

        Morgan has been following along, too. Oh, PS is there an address I where I can ship things to you? Perhaps somewhere you’ll be in the future so I know you’ll get it in time?


  7. Adam Robertson

    Jim, is it true that people in Europe take naps every day at noon?

    • Jim Toner

      Jim Toner

      I’m not sure. It’s true that in Italy they go home for a long 2-3 hour lunch break. During that time they eat a very long and slow meal–which is one reason to help explain why they are so slender: they have the rest of the day to work off the meal. But as for an actual nap, I don’t know. I’ll ask our friends about it tomorrow. I do know that today we had a two-hour lunch with friends and that at the end I wanted to curl up and take a nap.

      Thanks for the question, Adam.


Ask Jim

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *