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  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 27

    I'm not sure how I feel about May. I love the anticipation of summer, but feel completely put out by the stress that accompanies getting ready for the season -- turning the entire house over (hats and boots away, towels and sunscreen out), cleaning up the yard, planting all the plants, battling the bipolar weather, and the chaotic frenzy of everything opening at the same time! But here we are, post-Memorial Day and the whole summer ahead of us!

    *******************

    An important announcement:
    I decided to end my relationship with Amazon. You will no longer find any new affiliate links in my posts. Amazon hurts our local businesses and, having lost one recently that has impacted our lives, I decided I'm not going to be an active participant in the destruction. I'm trying very hard to buy local or independent. I also think Jeff Bezos could chose to use his powers for good like MacKenzie, his ex-wife -- climate change is more important than whatever the hell he is planning do on the moon.

    With that, onward we go ...

    Brain:

    • Reading list.  "A Packing List for the End of the World." A clever little essay. "The Walking Dead // Tending the Marsh. A lovely slim book of poems by local cookbook author, Linda Maria Steele, which she wrote during a year of walks around Great Sippewissett Marsh.

    • Viewing list. Dead to Me. The gut punches in this super bingeable series happen one after the other as the truth of these characters' lives is slayed open for us. Christina Applegate said she had to go to therapy after filming it. // Fleabag. While the facts are revealed bit by agonizing bit, this brilliant female-centric, here's-a-whole-lot of-taboo-topics-to-make-you-uncomfortable, humans-are-a-hot-mess show will ROAST you. // Eurovision 2019. I just love this campy, over-the-top song contest and I hope the Americans never get their hands on it and ruin it. (So fine!, Logo, don't televise it here.) The Super Mr. set up a VPN for me to watch it on BBC. I loved their snarky commentary (Iceland's song is "terribly shouty.") Madonna was an autotuned mess, but Verka Serduchka singing "Toy " was fantabulous! // PEN15. I definitely did not grow up in the 90s/00s (shut up!), but middle school was pretty universally brutal. The timpani scene had me howling! 

      Drag Race. Vanessa Vanjie Mateo forever and ever, Amen! Also, in the CAFTAN REALNESS episode they made just for me, this magic: A'keria proclaims that caftans can have PANTS. Ross Matthews, Super Hero of all Hags, spits out "Not in my religion!!" And THIS was the BEST part of the finale. Miss Raja Gemini spends the summer in Provincetown. Now I may just have to go see her show after this lewk! // National Treasure. (The BBC series, not the Nicholas Cage movie.) Just a warning in the worlds-colliding category: Hagrid and Mrs. Weasley are married to each other. And there is another "not my daughter!" moment for Mrs. W. // The Split on Hulu. The show centers around divorce attorneys and is surprisingly engaging. It's also another show proving my MI-5/Spooks alum litmus test works. // And for the record, I didn't hate this season of Game of Thrones. Both the last dragon and Peter Dinklage are alive (and possibly thriving) so I'm all good. The Last Watch documentary should make people appreciate how much work went into bringing us this epically entertaining and complicated work.

    • Listening list. NPR Morning Edition changed its theme song. I liked the old one with its Snoopy-like vibe. The new one is a little too Knight Rider for me. // Turns out I am not the only one watching TV with closed captioning these days. It helps me decipher British accents, understand every single word of that mystifying GOT talk, and allows me to keep watching while The Super Mr. is cooking up a storm in our open-concept, open-noise kitchen. // Jada Kingdom, especially "Banana."  Apparently she was stoned out of her mind when she recorded this. // "The White House Plan to Change Climate Science" episode of The Daily. UGH! I'm so tired of the lies and destruction. Also read "Trump Wants to End Worst-Case Climate Scenario Modeling. Here's Why That Matters." 

      The "Not Today, Motherf*cker" episode of the I, Survivor podcast. "Women get assaulted. Women get attacked. Women get harassed, manipulated, intimidated, but women are survivors. Hosts Jenna Brister and Wagatwe Wanjuki share their stories, and those of the men and women who fought back, who won, and who live rising above the trauma of their experiences." // The Dog That Changed Me podcast. Maria Shriver's daughter interviews people about their rescue dogs. // Lady of the Dunes podcast. Cape Cod Times is delving into our local Provincetown mystery of who the woman was who was found dead in the dunes, and, of course, who killed her. // Angel City Chorale's version of "Africa." I'm guessing you've seen it, but in case you haven't, it is the perfect way to set the tone for a joyful day!


    Body:

    • Eating and drinking list. The New York Times did a whole series on food and climate change. Start with the "How does your diet contribute to climate change?" quiz. I'm in the low impact category. Whew! // Microwave popcorn without any of the chemicals. I now use just popcorn kernels, a microwave bowl, and add these toppings: nutritional yeast, dulse, and za'atar or Basque Espelette pepper plus a little olive oil spray. // I'm trying to reduce my sodium intake based on my nutritionist's advice, BUT she's totally fine with me adding sea salt and is more concerned about sodium that food companies pump into our food. Read your labels and avoid anything that provides 20% or more of your daily value.

      The kale miso crunch salad at Canteen -- baby kale, cherry tomatoes, radishes, and red onions tossed in a tangy miso dressing and topped with crunchy bread crumbs and grated grana padano cheese! // I love this article on Lebanon bologna, something we ate regularly growing up in Lancaster, PA, often with a good schmear of cream cheese and then rolled up. "That was a fancy hors d’oeuvre in Lancaster in the early ’80s." 

    • The ticks are out in full force right now. We've pulled quite a few off Stephen in the last few weeks. Lyme disease is a terrible problem out here on the Cape, but there is some promising news from a Massachusetts-funded study. They've been successful in creating a pre-exposure treatment that protects the body from Lyme bacteria. There's also a good video on tick bite prevention in that link. I'd add: use a lint roller on your clothes when you come back from your outside frolics. 

    • More proof that I need to keep eating my cruciferous vegetables: "New research has linked a compound found in Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables to one of the body’s most potent tumor-suppressing genes." Turns out you have to eat 6 POUNDS of broccoli a day to get the same results as in the study (which shows it contains a compound that allows the tumor-suppressing gene PTEN to do its work), but, still, clearly a good idea to eat these.


    The Intangible:

    • Brene Brown: The Call to Truth on Netflix. "Brene says that joy is the most vulnerable human emotion. We’re so afraid that if we let ourselves feel joy, something will come and take that away from us and we’ll be hit with pain, trauma, and loss. As a consequence, we try to “dress rehearse” tragedy to feel better prepared." Raise your hand if this is you! I've got both of mine in the air.

    • Abundance. This month's theme in the Many Moons planning calendar has been abundance. From that, I share these two powerful statements with you:

      "We live in a wretched, capitalist system that depends on the exploitation of human lives to keep functioning." It seems everyone I know hates their job. This is why. BUT...

      "Abundance lives in time, exhales, flow, plenty of ice cubes in the fridge, laughter, sharing, heartfelt communication, and creativity. And you've got all of those, and access to all of those, right now, wherever you are." Sit with that a bit.

    The Practical:

    • I think I found the perfect summer sandals! Granted, I still have to test them out with a good trot up and down Commercial Street to be certain. The shiny, twisty gold diverts from the fact that they are fundamentally flip flops so you can wear them with anything, anywhere. And for my fellow ladies with back issues, they are ORTHOPEDIC(ish).

    • Make your own birdbath. I've been searching for a heated one for the winter. In the meantime, here's a super easy way to make sure your birds have access to water right now.

    • Summer goals! When you live in a town where many things are only available to you for a short few months, you learn how to maximize your time. Some tips:

      1. Ask yourself; "if this were my last summer in this place where I live now, what would I want to make sure I do? If I didn't live here, what would I miss?" The answer to those questions put more sunsets and more expeditions into the dunes, the waters, and all the bits in between on my list. 

      2. Write it down. Or make a Pinterest board. I have a board for each season, and I cannot tell you how many times I refer to them. Here's the summer one (and spring, since there's some overlap.)

      3. Every time you are out doing errands or traveling outside of your normal route, do at least one of the things from your list. We have to travel up Cape a bit for appointments and errands and I always stop somewhere I've never been or take a left turn (right turn in the summer) to see what's there.

      4. Schedule the most important things on the list now, before sand gravity sets in.

    • Sign up for the NYT Climate Fwd: newsletter. There is usually a "one thing you can do" tip and useful information like where the Democrats stand on climate change (turns out Joe Biden is at the bottom.)

    • Another successful middle-of-the night Target buying spree. I think I may have found my superpower! Three times now, I have magically woken up in the middle of the night at the EXACT TIME the Target + Designer du Jour items are going on sale! This time I got all the Vineyard Vines items I wanted except one. My favorite item so far is this beach bag. And this blanket. And this bowl.

    • Battling invasive species every dang day! Our yard is mostly natural vegetation and only a tiny bit of grass. Right now, there is so much garlic mustard that I pull out a huge armful every day. Don't be deceived by the pretty little white flowers, this bitch releases toxins into the soil that kill other native plants. And we have Japanese knotweed growing around our mailbox. That stuff will surely survive the zombie apocalypse, if it isn't the cause of our demise itself! But leave the dandelions -- natural pollinator-attracting plants -- alone (I saw a bunny eating one in our yard the other day!)


    Cape Cod:

    • Bird nerd walks and hiking about the backwoods and dunes of the Cape. I am extremely lucky to live in a place where there are so many people who care deeply about the natural world that surrounds us. And they know SO much.

      I've gone on a few guided excursions this month and have seen a blue gray gnatcatcher, chipping sparrows, pine warblers, black and white warblers, a cedar waxwing, a common yellowthroat, a green heron, king birds, purple martins, and a prairie warbler. I watched white-tailed deer running across the marshes. I hid behind the guide when a snake appeared on the trail, ready to push him or anyone near me to the ground so I could make a safe escape should that thing come near me.

      I've learned that an "irruption year" is characterized by a large number of unexpected birds. And that pitch pines, which cover the outer Cape's pine barrens, historically depended on forest fires to seed and grow, but have now adapted to regenerating without fire. Willets are some of the harbingers of climate disaster -- can they survive in the delicate marshlands as the sea waters rise? We don't know.

      In addition to being members of the Mass Audubon -- Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, I just joined the Cape Cod Bird Club and the Outer Cape Hiking Club. And I'm memorizing this helpful information in case we get lost in the woods.

    • I had jury duty this month -- 80 MILES away in Falmouth! I was very grumbly about it until I decided to make an adventure out of it! The day before I slowly drove down 6A all the way to West Barnstable and cut down through Oak Street and Old Stage Road to Centerville, then down route 28 the rest of the way to Falmouth. Some of the highlights: lobster ice cream, the Democrats bench, shopping at Mashpee Commons, the Cahoon Museum of American Art, and lunch at The Marshside.

    • Check out the Seashore to Forest Floor blog. On my walk in Beech Forest the other day, I saw tons of wood anemone, which I would not have been able to identify had I not read about it on this blog.

    • Cape and Islands Bookstore Trail. I stopped at three bookstores on my jury duty trip, mostly so I could get stickers, but I did buy something in each store. I have a couple more to do to complete the trail and GET MY BUTTON. I plan to finish it all up here in Provincetown.

    • Beach plum stalking. It's totally a thing here! You have to go into the dunes in the spring when the flowers are blooming and you can easily identify the bushes. Without those tell-tale flowers, they blend in. Come August, we'll head back to the places I noted and pick some beach plums -- hopefully -- before everyone else does.


    Across the Bridge/The World:

    • This month's interesting bits from around the country. Lancaster, PA (my hometown -- born and raised!). A little inspiration for a summer solstice party. // Texas. Fireflies -- we called them lightning bugs -- are still in abundance in some parts of that state. // Chicago. A still echoing and terrible plane crash happened there in 1979. // Portland, Oregon. After the fires there, bees came back in huge numbers. // Indianapolis. I will never understand why people are into watching cars drive around in circles. There are 2,000 people -- the Yellow Shirts -- who volunteer every year to help people enjoy just that. // Seattle. This area's ferry system is impressive and super intimidating. // St. Augustine. Living with snakes and gators (and terrible laws, election-stealing politicians, and Florida Man, oh my!)

    • I'm going to keep amplifying Elizabeth Warren. She is the antidote for what ails me. I'm sharing every policy, every video of her dancing or hanging with her dog, every plain-speaking truth she says. She is persisting all over the place and I am here for it. (BUT, I'm trying to refrain from buying any of her merch so I don't jinx her. The only political stuff I own is from Gore 2000 and I'm With Her. And we all know how those turned out.)  And in case you were wondering, I like Pete Buttigieg's husband better than I like him, which, quite frankly, is a comment I make rather frequently in this town.


    List of the Month: Things I Wish I Still Had

    1. an uninjured back -- Of all the things on this list, a healthy strong back is the ONE thing I really, really wish I still had. Keep your core strong, people!
    2. these bags that I sold on eBay: A colorful beaded bag and a nude leather bamboo handled clutch -- I got caught up in all the selling and probably should have paused before I put these on there. They both sold immediately and they are the two items I'm always saying "this would go perfectly with that bag I used it have." One is still available elsewhere and, the other, I found on eBay ... and bought (I know.)
    3. vintage wooden Rice Krispie (Snap, Crackle, and Pop) figurines -- My mom would always put these away in a box in the basement and I would dig them back out again. No idea why I loved them so much.
    4. my Barbie Dream Boat -- I find it amusing that I had Malibu Barbie, Malibu Ken, and the yacht and my sister had pale Barbie and Ken and the townhouse.
    5. the rest of my 1976 Looney Tunes glasses from Hardees -- Tweety Bird is the last one standing.
    6. my Chewbacca action figure -- You'd be surprised how frequently Chewie comes up in daily conversation.
    7. my yellow and red plastic Fiorucci watch that I bought at the famed NYC Fiorucci store on a drama club field trip (I was on stage crew, like a proper introvert) -- I had an outfit entirely created around that watch: an original 80s Banana Republic Tshirt that I bought in Cambridge at the store with the Jeep halfway through the window, army green pants tucked into layered pairs of yellow and red socks, and super New Wave-y, 80s-esque boots. I loved it more than my two Swatches (this one and this one.) But I wish I still had those, too.
    8. my vintage purple Fred Tavern's tshirt from Stone Harbor, NJ -- Everyone had one and apparently still does, except me.


    Extra Credit:


    Action Plan for the Month Ahead:

    • Make your summer list! Schedule the top few things on it.
    • Use this very helpful June gardening chore list.
    • Plan your Justin Bobby Party for June 24, when The Hills RETURNS!
    • June is Pride Month. Celebrate! (This rainbow disco clutch will be getting its debut later today at Tea Dance!)
    • Appreciate the abundance of "ice cubes" you have in your life.

    Thanks so much for reading! I hope you all have a wonderful start to the summer! See you back here in July, my favorite month of the year (and the time of year when I start swearing at the tourists from my car. Seriously, we have bike trails, ride on those!)

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 26

    April isn't really spring here. It's more like pre-spring. Things are slightly green, but still predominantly brown. And while the rest of the weather map reads 60s and 70s, we're solidly in the 40s and low 50s. I went to Boston earlier this month and I was shocked (and SO jealous) to see blooming trees. On the flip side, things stay green here long into the fall, so I'm not complaining. 

    And when you live in a seasonal town there are no slow transitions. BAM! It's the busy season. I thought I'd be better prepared for it after four years, but once again, I'm all "wait! wait! I'm not ready!" 

    * * * * * * * * * 

    Everything in life is iterative and so is this blog. You'll notice below that I've revamped the structure to streamline my writing process. Vacation gives my brain a chance to catch up and I often return with one life-improving idea (one year it was hiring a cleaning service when The Super Mr. and I were both working long hours, another was to move out of the city and get a dog, and this year, it's this.)

    Brain:

    • Reading list. My Sister, the Serial Killer. Winner of this year's Rooster, it was a last minute download just before we left for vacation. Short chapters, a crazy storyline, and a totally unique point of view made it the perfect poolside indulgence. // At the Bottom of New Lake. Amazon published a short story collection on climate change called Warmer earlier this year. This one is set on Cape Cod and definitely hits a few sore points and sad truths about this part of the world. // How to Love a Jamaican. I started this collection the last time we were in Jamaica and picked up right where I left off. "Slack," and its storyline about two girls with their mermaid dolls and what happens to them is one I couldn't get out of my head. // "Muglife." Yes, this is from a newsletter, but it is SO MUCH MORE. Don't mess with my mugs! // The Women's Prize for Fiction Longlist. I'm adding all of these to my reading list. (Here's the Shortlist, in case you want to start there.)

    • Viewing list. Barry. We started watching this because of Henry Winkler, who is a national treasure. It is so dark, I mean SO dark. Noho Hank is our absolute favorite character. The show is so damn funny!// Homecoming. I've never been a Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter fan. Sorry. I ain't sorry. Angry Lemonade Beyoncé is a different story. Her, I like. Anyway, I rewound this quick snippet at least seven times: 1:52:13. And SOLANGE once again proves that younger sisters are cooler. // Guava Island. Such a beautiful film! OK, and tragic. AND RiRi's blue veiled ensemble at the end! // Fosse/Verdon. Just give Michelle Williams all the awards! // Free Solo. Even though you know he lives, the tension is almost unbearable. Also, a great example of how brain differences can make you really good at things others are not. //A Discovery of Witches. I never read the books, but now I think I need to. Very Twilight-y. // Unforgotten on PBS. The Brits make the best murder mysteries and I have a soft spot for those that feature former stars from MI-5/Spooks. // Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists. This is my favorite kind of show -- featuring a murder at a school. (See The Secret History. Veronica Mars. Well-Schooled in Murder.) // KILLING EVE  IS BACK! (And it's funnier!) And so is The Bold Type. (Still completely unrealistic, but tackling all the issues.) // Sadly, I was totally disappointed by Unicorn Store. // Someone GreatHash tag friendship goals! Also, The Perfect Date is a nice little snack.

      And let's take a moment for that Game of Thrones show. I've spent seven plus seasons watching every single episode without a clue about what is going on, but all of a sudden I'm here for more than the dragons and the blue-eyed zombies. And I still can't remember half of their names. That battle episode -- the silence and the spot-on use of music, the TENSION, the close-ups of our favorite people, Whatshisname, The Big Woman, That Other One, and Jaime, the sense that all was lost, and then the Good-Lord-I-NEVER-Saw-That-Coming ending! I've watched it every day since it aired. BRAVO!!

    • Listening list. Another brain trance Tame Impala release, "Borderline." // Mark Ronson's "Late Night Feelings."  I'm definitely into the "sad disco" sound. // Arty's "Avalanche." This is for sure going on my poolside mix for this summer! // 78-year old Coachella performer, Calypso Rose, and her song "Young Boy." 78!! // The New Yorker Radio Hour's two-part "The Long-Distance Con." OOF! How on earth did this guy go along with this for so long? Or even get involved in the first place? // LeVar Burton Reads podcast. I repeat: LeVar. Burton. Reads. // Going Through It podcast. Ann Friedman of awesome newsletter fame and other things interviews women who discuss pivotal moments in their lives. // Uncover, Season 3: "The Village." This village is in Toronto and gay men there were going missing. Because of a serial killer who buried their bodies in some lady's GARDEN!

    Body

    • My cholesterol levels have dropped and all the elements of it are going in the right direction-- bad stuff down, good stuff up! I am really proud of myself for this. As you know, I started working with a nutritionist several months ago and have been working on making better choices in my diet. My triglycerides dropped 70 points!

      I also just started a 12-week wellness program for breast cancer survivors. I'm the only previvor, but it's good to chat with people who have had the same surgery and the same resulting issues.

    • Eating and drinking list. Sunflower Seed Spread from Trader Joe's. Embracing nut butter has been one of my favorite health improvement choices. This one is my favorite right now -- deep roasty sunflower goodness! // Iridescent jelly beans from the Hot Chocolate Sparrow that The Super Mr. bought us for Easter. The cream soda flavor is my favorite.

    • Vanicream Lip Protectant. I always wear SPF on my lips because I have skinny Katie Couric lips that will inevitably have those vertical wrinkles that are so attractive. However, I somehow burned the inside bottom lip while we were on vacation. I have no idea how that happened. But this stuff not only helped heal them, it kept it from happening again. WARNING: it's really thick and can leave your lips entirely white, so make sure you have a mirror or someone you trust to confirm it's all rubbed in.

    • I recently switched to REN Evercalm GEL facial cleanser from the cleansing milk. I started using REN products when the medication I was on caused my skin to develop micro-tears (with bleeding and everything! SO alarming. And gross.) The gel smells like jasmine (which "boosts the effects of a chemical called GABA on nerve cells, and thus relieves anxiety and encourages rest") and works really well for sweaty season.

    • Trader Joe's Shea Butter and Coconut Oil Hair Mask. I always take a heavy conditioner with me on vacation because as soon as I unbind it, it slowly fills with the Caribbean air, puffing itself up to three times the size of my American hair. Secretly, I LOVE my big hair and would let it be free all the time if I didn't live in a 24/7 wind tunnel of a place.

    • "The Endless Benefits of Tongue Scraping and Why We Should All Do It." Sounds gross. And it is.

    The Intangible:

    • My anxiety was kicking in again until we went to Jamaica and then I had an ALMOST instant reset. This time it took me about a day to settle my nerves. My first hours there I could not settle down and was worried the anxiety was following me. Flying used to trigger this, but now it's just getting through security -- packing everything in the right bag and then taking the right things out and then having my stuff out of my sight, my shoes off, lots of people around me. It is agony for me! Finally time to get TSA Pre-Check, methinks.

    • Advocates and the natural world. Remember I told you about 16 Personalities? My particular type (INFJ-A) are called "advocates." Recently, they sent me an update about advocates' relationship to the natural world. It was spot on!

      "Advocates are people who go pet the deer. The combination of the Intuitive and Feeling traits makes for a person who feels deeply connected to nature, as they look for unity in everything around them. It can even feel spiritual, in a sense. Advocates are likely to pick up strays from the side of the road or donate money to nature-preservation organizations."

    • Saturn went retrograde on Monday. But this is not the bad kind of retrograde! "Saturn Retrograde slows things down a bit so we can reevaluate our life, including our karma. It gives us time to understand the deeper meaning of why we might attract the same circumstance over and over again." And you have four months to work through that.

    The Practical:

    • Cutting back on paper towels. First, it looks like my favorite disinfecting wipes might be making things worse. Second, it's shameful how many rolls of paper towels we go through! And then I discovered Swedish dish cloths. A single one replaces 15 rolls of paper towels, is machine washable, and lasts for 6 months! And they are biodegradable. 

    • We live in an aviary! Lately we've had lots of blue jays, cardinals, goldfinches, house finches (they are RED!), and the occasional woodpecker at our bird feeders. We also have a pair of bright blue birds that visit the brush behind the house. They are either indigo buntings or blue grosbeaks -- I'm working on a proper identification. And they all sing their little hearts out for us every morning! I added a thistle feeder just for the finches and we put up the hummingbird feeder this past weekend. I'm also ready for the orioles this time and have special birdberry jelly ready. Don't tell The Super Mr., but I intend to hit the bird store again and get an oriole feeder. I'm working on adding a bird bath, but need to find one that doesn't turn into a mosquito incubator. You can watch the migration of many birds (and other animals like whales) at Journey North.

    • Spring planting. I finally made a spring cleaning/summer turnover list that we can use every year. It's crazy how much clean up needs to happen in the yard after the winter. I usually don't plant my summer containers until mid to late May because of our weather. But I'm ready! I bought two helpful books: From Container to Kitchen, so I can try growing something other than tomatoes and peppers, and A New Garden Ethic, which is about the importance of growing native plants for the sake of the species around us and to combat climate change. And don't forget to repot your indoor plants

      Some reference articles for growing plants that help our world: "How To Grow a Bug-Friendly Garden Absolutely Anywhere." // "Wild Bee Population Collapses by New England." The good news is it isn't as dire along the coast. Consider adding a bee house to your yard for those worker bees!// "A New Study Says Gardening Has Significant Health Benefits." // The Audubon's Native Plant database. Just enter your zip code and you'll see a wonderful list of plants native to your area and which birds they attract.

    • Making progress on my to do list. My highly complicated system is actually working! I think the key is repetition. Each piece of my system requires me to put the same ideas and goals through a different processing lens. Tthe stuff that doesn't really work or I don't truly care about gets sifted out and I'm left with things I'm committed to.

      Also, I've added Silent Mornings to my routine.  As soon as The Super Mr. leaves for work, I turn everything off and spend time with just my thoughts as I work on the most important items on that day's list.


    Cape Cod:

    • Season of change. I have been a little bummed out lately with some major changes happening in town. Our beloved Pet Resort -- where Stephen could play with his buddies and I could have a day to go up Cape and not worry about him -- just sold their building to a pot dispensary. The nearest doggie daycare is now in Eastham. We haven't been able to do our parking lot whale watching since they closed off the road to that side of Herring Cove to move the lot and road back from the water. I've seen photos of the new beach and it just looks ... sad. And a couple of our favorite restaurants are up for sale. One of our pools turned over this winter and we aren't sure whether it will still be open to locals. 

      On a positive note, Lea Delaria is opening a jazz club in town.

    • Green Road Refill. On every third Wednesday, their green bus will be parked at ARTichoke in Eastham for refilling all your lotions and creams and cleaning supplies. There are other locations around the Cape. Check the website.

    • Beach cleaning. I'm getting back into my beach clean-up project I started years ago. One time, as I was filling a bag with plastic, a guy walking towards me stopped, and said, "you know, the ocean will just wash all that away so you don't need to pick it up." Reader, I did not punch him. This time my goal is to spend one hour a week picking up whatever trash I find and then focusing on removing balloons any other time I'm on the beach.  Also, I've started using the Clean Swell app to track what I find and that information helps with research.

    • National Park Planner. This is one of my favorite resources for planning out hikes around the Cape Cod National Seashore. There are photos from each walking trail and a very detailed narrative about the conditions. Also, I would have missed certain things along these paths had I not read this information in advance.


    Across the Bridge/The World:

    • This month's interesting bits from around the country. Houston. Growing a pocket prairie there can help with flooding. // Denver. "People outside this community know about us because of one moment in time." Twenty years later at Columbine. // Philly. I have my derby fascinator for this year but these from the super popular milliner for the Devon Horse Show look fetching. // Sarasota. Bookmarking this "Ultimate Guide to Great Gulf Seafood"  in case we ever visit that side of the state. // Seattle. "Where on Earth is Sam Sayers?" This is the worst kind of missing person story -- there one moment, gone the next. (And, on that note, here are some life-saving tips.)

    • Final thoughts on Jamaica. In case you missed it, I put together a post on our recent trip to Jamaica. The place is paradise for some, and ... not for others. Jamaica -- just yesterday -- declared a public emergency in the parishes of Hanover, Westmoreland, and St. James. That includes Negril and Montego Bay. There had already been extra security in MoBay and we passed through armed checked points the last two times we've visited. I hope they can get things back under control -- so many people depend on tourism in those areas.

    • "Elizabeth Warren has a PLAN." I've loved her as my senator, but hadn't put a ton of effort this early in the race into examining each candidate (because I'm bone-tired of all it.) HOWEVER, like Angry Beyoncé, she flipped it for me when she came out with the Impeach the Mofo statement. I clicked right through to her website and gave her $20.20. And then I stayed to read her ideas. She now emails regularly when she comes up with new, equally as brilliant plans.

      I'm SO DONE with the grossness -- the criminal activity, the hate-mongering, the powerful people stomping on everyone else. Liz is our Arya Stark and her plans are the Catspaw Dagger. (I TOLD YOU I now watch this episode every day. It is relevant!)

    • The Turn Challenge. We just completed ten days of prompts for imagining a future where we've averted climate catastrophe and for creating real action in your life to start towards that vision. As you've probably gathered, I've been working on this for some time -- making small changes here and there. This part was free, but she is starting a new fee-based program if you are interested and need some help creating your own personal plan. Week Three is entitled, "A revolution disguised as gardening."

    List of the Month:

    • 10 Things That Scare Me. You may remember that I've been listening to the podcast where people share things they are afraid of. It's not as easy as you think and you really need to be honest about it for it to be of any value. Give it a shot! Here are mine:
    1. not being able to take care of myself and ending up homeless
    2. having a disease that robs me of my life before it actually takes my life
    3. sharks
    4. disappearing and my family never knowing what happened to me (I call this my Dateline fear.)
    5. something horrible happening to Stephen (not surprising, but worrying about this really does fill quite a few of my waking hours)
    6. public speaking (I am highly skilled at doing everything I can to avoid this.)
    7. a small, fast animal running over my foot and touching me 
    8. being alone in the woods
    9. the suburbs (Hingham was the closest we got to that hell.)
    10. driving in snow (I KNOW I live in New England.)


    Extra Credit:


    Thanks, as always, for reading! Have a great May and get ready for SUMMER!

     



  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 25

    March can really jerk you around. Not only did we have to adjust to Daylight Savings Time (seriously, just leave the time alone!), but we had Mercury Retrograde almost the ENTIRE month! And we had a full moon and the spring equinox on the same day. I also celebrated a birthday and now I only have TWO YEARS to plan my Blow-out Jubilee (title in progress.) The snow and cold came in like a lion, too. But now it's all lamb-y and I am super happy. It's also the time of year when my calendar starts to fill up with the word "opening!" And, tomorrow, we are off to JAMAICA! Spring energy is flowing!


    Thinking About:

    • Injustice. I am doing all I can not to brood. I believe in karma. A person cannot put that much negativity into the world and not have it come back at them. I just want it to happen in this lifetime so I can witness it. Learning to live with the possibility that this won't happen is a goddamn struggle.

    • Being a Pisces during Pisces season. Us Pisces are super emotional and spongy so when we're in our own season and everyone else is also feeling emotional, the effect is amplified. My colleagues used to call me "The Onion" at work because people would cry in my office all the time. There were terrible, painful cries like the man who burst into tears, covered his face with both hands, and wailed that he had disgraced his religion, ancestors, his entire country! (The thought bubble over my head read: "Fuuuuucccckkkkk.") Best thing to do during Pisces season is to hide as best you can (and maybe not hang out with me.) To my fellow suffering fish, hope you made it through another one unscathed!

    Thankful For:

    • Distractions. I am so grateful to be fortunate enough to travel to Jamaica tomorrow for vacation but also to have spent this week packing and getting ready instead of wringing my hands and sighing deeply all day. Also, grateful for Paddington and Paddington 2which I watched the day after the report was submitted, but before that stupid Barr memo came out. And for the crispy rice The Super Mr. made me and the hearty walk on the beach we took with Stephen that weekend.


    Watching:

    • Shrill. That first sequence of scenes where she is wearing silver shoes and is loving on her dog and then pulls her shirt over her knees to stretch it out stopped me in my tracks. Oh my God, SHE IS ME! So many familiar moments in this short six-episode series cut right to my heart. ALSO! This article about how they had to make or alter most of her clothes because they couldn't find stylish plus-size clothes for her! 

    • True Detective, Season 3. I had no intention of watching this one, but I kept reading that it was good. There are three timelines that phase into each other abruptly so be ready to adjust to that. The storyline is disturbing, but the ending is just right!

    • Three really good action series where you learn something about the world. Jack Ryan. It took us a while to get through this because it is so stressful. We were deeply involved in caring about the fate of several of the characters. Also, Carlton Cuse directed this! The Widow. I love the way this show reveals it's secrets. The ending was a bit white messiah-ish, though. Secret City. Both seasons of this Australian political intrigue show will pull you in. 

    • End Game. Grab a huge box of tissues before you press play. This Oscar-nominated short (it's less than an hour long) follows several people at the end of their lives and the different paths they choose for hospice. I'm a fan of the Zen Hospice Project, which is featured.

    Creating:

    • Rediscovering my lists in the li.st archive. I used to publish a "20 Things I Googled This Week" list, which was really a precursor to Notes. Inspired, I've decided to resurrect a monthly list in this section. 

      I recently saw a thread on Twitter about imagining a college do-over -- you get to do the same four years again, but knowing what you know now. Here's my first "List of the Month":

      What I Would Do Differently If I Went Back to College Now:
      1) major in environmental science/biology instead of art history and SAVE THE WORLD
      2) study abroad junior year, on an island, scuba diving
      3) avoid a small handful of people who individually brought me nothing but grief 
      4) not be the rush chair for my sorority senior year
      5) mend my relationship with Sarah a lot earlier (didn't happen until I moved to Boston)  -- she died almost eight years ago now of ovarian cancer
      6) cultivate friendships with a few people who turned out to be my kind of people
      7) avoid fraternities and encourage two of my friends to report things that happened to them there
      8) talk over the boys in class 
      9) be better prepared and have better outfits for the Tri Delta National Convention in Palm Desert (boy, was that eye opening in a which-one-is-not like-the-others kind of way)
      10) be better about my vegetarian phase (or rather my cereal and pasta phase)

      What would you guys do differently? It's a fun exercise and can really help you see how you've changed and what you value now.

    Reading:

    • City and regional magazine newsletters. I started following Texas Monthly after reading several interesting stories about the border wall and about Beto. From there, it expanded to San Diego (Claudette from Top Chef  looks different! and she has a James Beard award nomination), Sarasota (mid-century modern architecture and J. McLaughlin), Portland, Oregon, (for 20 years, "float fairies" have hidden glass-blown floats along the beaches of Lincoln City for people to find!), Chicago (even with a Tiger Woods golf course, Obama's Presidential Center is creating a few concerns about it's impact on the South Side), Charleston (meet the Crabbin' Queen!). I've been drawn into the local stories and have been learning about what it is like in Toronto (super high rents!) and the controversy around Drag Queen Story Time in Houston.

    • This month's reading list. I've done a bit better this month and got through two books: How To Be a Good Creature (I sobbed the entire way through the book, see Hygge-ing section), and When My Brother Was an Aztec, a book of poetry that I had started awhile ago. It left me both amazed at what a person can do with language and pained by the content (much of it is inspired by her brother's drug addiction.)


    Listening:

    • The Dropout podcast. Let's just talk about the best person in this whole thing, the professor of medicine from Stanford who was all BITCH, PLEASE! from Day One! Girlfriend was not fooled by Elizabeth's intense commitment to Gatsby-like deception! I also watched the 20/20 special and The Inventor, the HBO documentary. It was WAY too much Elizabeth, so just pick one and skip the rest. 

    • Iditapod podcast. You guys! I know I mentioned Blair Bravermann and her #uglydogs before, but I had no idea how emotional I would be when she crossed the finish line with the dogs I had come to know through Twitter. And I followed along through the Iditapod podcast the whole time. Also, huge hugs to the dogs who refused to move after the musher yelled at one of them (He lost a five-hour lead because of it. If only this would happen to all the screamy people in the world.) 

    • Mile Marker 181 podcast. A young woman was killed in a single car crash in the most horrific way ... or was she murdered by her friend? Yes, the Lifetime movie plot drew me in, but I found the investigator/narrator's style and earnestness with which she pursues answers for the family to be the real hook here. 

    • Podcast episodes:
      -"What Happened to Lindsey Graham?" episode of The Daily. I was surprised by this take on crazy Lindsey's sharp veer off the cliff.
      -"Why Didn't Mueller Decide on Obstruction?" episode of The Daily. Still not sure. Give us that report!

    • The Eurovision 2019 songs! All the countries have released their songs for May's competition and I have started culling through them for the gems! I like the dance-y songs with catchy choruses and/or a satisfying drop. So far, here are a few that I like: "Say Na Na Na" from San Marino (um, where???). "La Venda" from Spain. "Chameleon" from Malta.

    • RavenKis' version of "Rollercoaster" and Tame Impala's "Patience." I added both to my Poolside Mix. Because I'm gonna be POOLSIDE in 24 hours!

    • GMA changed their morning song. Someone over there must have read my last post about how GMA's song is all terrifying because they CHANGED IT! Now it's mostly cymbals crashing while the "G" moves dramatically around the screen.


    Eating + Drinking:

    • Bread broth recipe. This is so ridiculously simple and I eat it at least once a week for lunch. Using grapeseed oil or avocado oil, sauté some garlic (I use lots and often cheat by using the stuff in a jar). Add a drained can of Northern white beans (Trader Joe's has good ones). Fry until crispy but not burnt. Toast some thick, hearty whole grain bread. Heat up the chicken broth. Place the toasted bread in a shallow bowl, pour the heated broth over it and top with a generous helping of the white bean and garlic mixture. Eat with a salad and you have a balanced quick and easy lunch! Tip: I make the beans ahead of time and use them in several recipes during the week.

    • Malt vinegar POWDER. Did you know it comes in powder form? Try it on green beans. 

    • Roasted buffalo chickpea bowls. You can make just the chickpeas, sprinkle them with blue cheese crumbles, and eat along with baby carrot sticks for an easy and tasty snack. I don't add the butter to the buffalo sauce -- extra calories no one needs!


    Learning:

    • 16 Personalities. I am a huge fan of the MBTI. (INFJ here.) This is one of the best sites I've found for discovering and learning about your personality type. They add a fifth component, Identity, which is either assertive (A) or turbulent (T). I'm an A. The free materials are really terrific and every now and then I'll get an email them on a certain topic for my type. The most recent was "The Problem with Mind Reading," which my type is pretty good at.

    • Recycling bottles with the caps ON. First they told us to take them off, now you are supposed to leave them on! And not crushing cans before you place them in the recycling. We've been doing this single stream recycling thing all wrong apparently. Here is a good guide in case you want to make sure more of your stuff actually gets recycled and doesn't just get thrown in with the rest of the trash because you messed it all up!

    • The New York Times copy editing quizzes. These are challenging, but in a good way!


    Hygge
    -ing:

    • I spent my entire birthday just reading. It was glorious and I highly recommend finding a day when you commit to only doing that. Here's just one of so many passages from Sy Montgomery's book that wrapped me in a warm hug: 

      "Being friends with an octopus -- whatever that friendship meant to her -- has shown me that our world, and the worlds around and within it, is aflame with shades of brilliance we cannot fathom -- and is far more vibrant, far more holy, then we could ever imagine."

    Loving:

    • Wobble cushion. Working my core muscles is a key component of managing my back pain (and preventing it from returning.) I sit on this when I'm at a desk or kitchen chair and often stand on it when I'm working in the kitchen. Every little bit helps!

    • Murder She Drank: a bingo drinking game. Right? Once a month you can participate online, but I think it is the perfect activity for a bunch of friends on a rainy afternoon! Lots of bingo cards are available on the site. (Bonus: this reggae song was on repeat at one of the resorts we visited in Jamaica. The Super Mr. and I couldn't stop singing "Muuurder she wrote. Muuuuurrder she wrote.")

    • Bird saver stickers. Unfortunately one of the unpleasant parts of putting up a bird feeder is the random bird strikes on our windows (so far, no fatalities, thank goodness!) We put up these very cool UV stickers that look clear to us but are bright to the birds (because they have magic eyes and can see colors we can't!)

    • This eyeball test. Ok, FINE! I got most of them wrong. I thought they were all sloths.


    Eliminating:

    • Marie Kondo for Twitter. This site will have you go through each one of your Twitter follows individually, show you their latest tweets while removing the bio information, and ask you if they are still meaningful to you. I eliminated 122. I wish there was one for Instagram because that has gotten out of hand!

      ALSO! I muted "Trump" and "Mueller" on my Twitter feed for 24 hours and, boy, what a difference it made. All the good stuff was able to rise to the top and not be suffocated by the vileness. It was so good that I made it a permanent change. 

    • I cut three inches off my hair. Friends, I hadn't gotten my hair cut in almost a year! My hair stylist moved salons and, while Orleans is only about 40 minutes away, it was just too much of a pain. Anyway, Ptown has quite a few salons and I found one that is off the main drag, has parking, and is super chill. Hooray!


    Expanding:

    • "You Can Achieve Anything If You Focus on ONE Thing." Sometimes I can't believe how many things I used to juggle when we lived in the city. But ask me what I actually achieved. I'm not sure I could name much of anything in the last ten years we were there. I was just doing lots of stuff and ticking boxes, I guess. So when I read this approach to single-tasking, I thought I'd like to try it. 


    Planning + Organizing:

    • Post-winter activities. I just created a "Spring" on the Cape Pinterest board with things I want to do before summer arrives. There are lots of flowers and food and nature trails and local trips on it. (Spring is in quotes because we don't really have a spring here. It's not quite winter, but not quite the spring I grew up with either.)

    • Apartment Therapy has a spring cleaning project email-a-day series that you can sign up for here. It starts April 1!


    Fur Mama-ing:


    Health-ing:

    • "Nearly all Americans fail to eat enough of this actual superfood." Curious what that superfood is? FIBER. "Fiber is the closest thing we have to a true superfood  Eating a fiber-rich diet is associated with better gastrointestinal health and a reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes, high cholesterol, obesity, type 2 diabetes, even some cancers" And it's really EASY to add to your diet! Popcorn!

    • "Why do we need sleep? Israeli scientists solve the mystery." Turns out it's the only time our cells can repair damaged DNA. Before reading this I never considered that one night of bad sleep could lead to disease. Especially when your DNA repairing mechanisms are working at half speed, it makes getting a good night's sleep every single night even more important. Sleep is so magical! 


    Traveling:


    Extra Credit:

    • "How I Lost My Legs and Gained ... You Want Me to Say Something Inspiring Here." After reading this, I HAD to solve the mystery of how she lost her legs. She's very squishy on the details. She mentions how awful the accident was, says she doesn't remember it, describes other people's reactions when she tells them what happened, and shares that maybe she was at fault. I found her fantastic writing on Medium, checked her Instagram and Twitter, and Googled her. The Miss Nancy Drew in me put it all together and found this. Her story hasn't left my brain since.

    • "The Hills Are Alive." The first time I saw Laguna Beach, I was hiding in the one room that had AC in our apartment on Irving Street and was gobsmacked (also furious) that teenagers lived like that. This Vogue multi-media presentation is a masterpiece!

    • "Life, Death, and PTSD as a Ranger in the Tetons." Warning: this is disturbing. We all need to be aware of the cost of making risky choices, especially when someone else has to come rescue us. 

    • "The 'Top Chef' judges never ate Eric Adjepong's final meal. This is what it tastes like." We were routing for Eric for most of the show (although it took us longer than usual to pick our favorites this past season) and were totally disappointed when he didn't make the final. Glad he has so much success coming to him anyway!
       
    • "Revisited: Watson and the Shark." We had an art history book in our home library and I was OBSESSED with this painting. I would stare at it all the time, wondering what was going to happen to that poor person (my young mind was confused whether it was a girl or a boy) in the water. Seems I'm not the only one who had this obsession.

    • "Welcome to Birdpunk: A Subculture of a Subculture."  I like birds because they are cute, little creatures that come in all sorts of colors, sing their hearts out, have magic eyes, and can fly. Plus, they used to be DINOSAURS. That's as punk rock as it gets.


    Thank you all once again for reading! I'll be stuffing my face with fresh papaya and floating around in the Caribbean Sea looking for starfish next week. And I'll be sharing a bonus Jamaica post next month in addition to the regular Notes from a Clamshell Path. Get out there and enjoy the "spring," everyone!

     

     

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 24

    February is probably my least favorite month of the year -- fully winter, pretty empty in town, and a bit too far away from vacation and summer. But this year, snow came very late for us out here and I was thinking I could totally do winter if it was mildish and snow-free. You know, like fall. The Super Mr. and I have even managed to take advantage of the tolerable weather and get in some up Cape excursions. But as a seasoned New Englander and wicked superstitious person, I know we're never really safe from the winter storms until May so I will not make any grand proclamations about this being a mild winter until I am wearing flip flips again on a regular basis.

    Thinking About:

    • How to handle impending doom (I promise this is positive. Ish.) It's clear that my natural hermitting and prepper instincts can only go so far to provide protection from the growing list of things that keep me up at night: our town drowning as the sea-level rises; the possibility that we will never know what is in the Mueller Report; the Trump Crime Family and Devious Associates, LLC never paying for all their corruption and cruelty; karma not catching up with Mitch McConnell in this lifetime and me not being able to wear my sequined Ding-Dong-the-Bitch-Got-Hers celebratory costume (see also: my 'When It All Goes Down" Pinterest board.)

      I've tried blocking it all out. Doesn't work. One little piece of news will filter in and I'm agitated and stuffing cheese puffs in my mouth while muttering swear words and spewing orange dust as I stomp around the house.

      Now I'm working a new angle. I'm focusing on very, very tiny things. Like keeping my plants alive. Filling the birdfeeders. Spoiling my dog. Picking up trash on the beach. Moving my disco balls around the house so the sun hits them. Planning a bee-, insect-, bird-friendly sanctuary around our house. Eating my vegetables. 

      The world will rage on -- whether I rage with it or not. But you can definitely count on me when it's time to take it to the streets. I'll be the one wearing the spectacular outfit.

    Thankful For:

    • A few warm days in February. I was so grateful for the spring-like days we had earlier this month. It gave me just the boost I needed to remember how nice it is to be able to walk around without a ton of extra clothing and how hopeful everything feels. We barely have spring here and I do miss it -- I grew up in Pennsyltucky and everything bloomed around mid-March. Winter lasts until May here.

    Watching:

    • Obama's list of favorite movies from 2018. I've been working my way through his recommendations and it has been refreshing. So far I have watched: Annihilation, Black Panther, Minding the Gap, Support the Girls, Eighth Grade, and Leave No Trace. My favorites have been Eighth Grade (I think we can all agree that, as human beings, this is our collective worst year ever) and Leave No Trace (such a sensitive handling of the issue of veterans and mental health and the choice to live off the grid. Also, if you are curious about the story that inspired the film, read this.) And you can go to Just Watch or use the app to figure out where to stream any movie.

    • Fortitude. I seem to be on a Arctic-ish setting, dark mystery kick lately. The first season of Fortitude is really special -- so unique in plot, mood, and setting. Plus you get Dumbledore AND Stanley Tucci. It's a bit on the gruesome side and very, very dark. Watch season 2 if you want to see where the story goes from there but be ready for some super gross stuff. I hear season three is airing in the UK now so it won't be long until we see the end of this bloody thing.

    • Castle Rock. Another dark mystery (Stephen King-style), but pretty rewarding in the very end. I was super conflicted and a bit confused until the very last second of the show. There's a bonus mid-credits scene, by the way. Also, I still miss Stephen King's Entertainment Weekly column.

    • Russian Doll. Clever, clever, clever!!! I laughed every single time she died and woke up swearing. Death No. 8 is my favorite -- I HOWLED! Also trying to work "ipso facto" into my regular conversations.

    • Abducted in Plain Sight. You may have to watch this one a little at a time and you may not make it through the whole thing. I know these people were being targeted by a master manipulator, but seriously! 

    • The ABC Murders. John Malkovich plays Hercule Poirot. It's a bit icky but nice and twisty in the best Agatha Christie way.

    • Bonus: I noticed Harper's Island  is on Amazon Prime! If you missed it, it was THE highlight of summer 2009 TV viewing (in a Scream, the MTV show, kind of way.) Definitely worth a revisit.

    Creating:

    • Accessories for our Jamaica trip. Ever since I got in trouble at my first grade birthday party for telling my friend Tracey that I didn't like the necklace and ring set she bought me (apparently honesty is not the best policy), I've been rejecting normal jewelry. I rarely wear it but when I do, I go big. The more Wilma Flintstone-sized, the better. And I finally realized I could just make my own.

    Reading:

    • Progress on my reading list. I definitely lost some momentum with my 30 pages a day habit but I did finish a book I started twice before, An Embarrassment of Mangoes. A couple quits their jobs to sail around the Caribbean. There are recipes at the end of each chapter and I love vivid descriptions of the islands -- some familiar to me, some not --they visit. 

    • The Disaster Baking newsletter. Based on this excerpt alone, I am CERTAIN she and I would be best friends: "How about, like, one piece of good news? One shred. Because I have 52 tabs open at the moment and four of them are about crimes and three of them are different Everlane sweaters that all look like ones I own and six of them are research so that I can formulate a clever, but informed response to this MSNBC tweet that quotes Vice President Mike Pence who has decided to pontificate about antisemitism." And she ends each one with a recipe, like chocolate chunk tahini banana bread.

    • Hula Seventy, OG blogger, is posting again. She never truly stopped, but she is now posting one list every single day and they are SO great, like "words and phrases recently heard while watching british period films that I'd very much like to work into my own vernacular" and "seen on my walk this afternoon."

    Listening:

    • TOKiMONSTA's Lune Rouge. Her masterpiece -- which she wrote after having brain surgery -- is only 40 minutes long. Her unique sound combinations just grab me. "I Wish I Could" is my favorite song in the collection.

    • Anjunadeep 10. I was surprised by how mellow (bordering on snoozy) this latest Anjunadeep collections starts out. It's no competition for my favorite compilation in the series, Anjunadeep 02.

    • Podcast episodes:
      -The "What Motivates Mitch McConnell?" episode of The Daily. Grab yourself a two finger pour before you press play on this. 
      -The "Playing Through the Pain" episode of Gladiator is jaw-dropping. So many ethical issues with the NFL, which is why we stopped watching it in our house several years ago.

    • The Investigation podcast. I'm trying very hard to find ways of consuming the news through a buffer (which means, after the fact and usually in writing.) This new podcast from ABC News about the Mueller investigation is bordering on sensational but it is definitely better than watching the news or reading Twitter. 

    • Good Morning America  vs. CBS This Morning theme songs. I recently shared that I had switched from Good Morning America to CBS This Morning. I noticed a huge difference in how I felt based solely on their theme songs. GMA's is all "urgent!, urgent!, you are in danger!, and this is exciting!, you must pay attention!" and CBS's is more "stuff is happening, but don't worry, you are fine, and it's going to be ok." 

    Eating + Drinking:

    • Adventures in cruciferous vegetable eating. At my last session with my nutritionist, I reluctantly set a goal of eating cruciferous vegetables (BLECH!). Not only do I dislike the taste, but I also find the texture entirely unappealing. SO, she said I can do whatever I need to do to them to see if I can eat them without gagging.

      So far I've fried the hell out of cauliflower rice, made salty kale chips, ate Portuguese kale soup, tried bok choy in an Asian recipe The Super Mr. made for us, added arugula (YES, it is a cruciferous vegetable!) to my salads, and enjoyed a kale pesto pizza with a cauliflower pizza crust. Next up: Brussels sprouts chips. And this article, "How to Stop Hating Your Least Favorite Food" is amusing.

    • Kale pesto cauliflower crust pizza with pistachios and local honey. So far, this has been my favorite cruciferous vegetable meal.

      Here's the recipe: I use Trader Joe's cauliflower pizza crust. Bake it according to the instructions on the box (skip the optional additional broiling time for the crust). Spread a few scoops of Trader Joe's kale, cashew, and basil pesto on to the pizza crust. Add tiny balls of fresh mozzarella (or torn up pieces if you can't find the pearls). Fill in the gaps with Romano, Parmesan, or Asiago cheese. Broil for 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle top with crushed pistachios (the smaller the pieces, the better), drizzle with local honey. Tear up pieces of basil and sprinkle liberally. Slice and serve. Reheats well, too!

    • Trader Joe's instant unsweetened oatmeal. Oatmeal can be pretty mushy but this one has all sorts of other grains in it, making for a crunchier bite. I like a slightly savory oatmeal so I've been adding ricotta, black pepper, and olive oil plus a few leaves of fresh spinach. It's also good with nut butter, dried cranberries and mandarins, and whatever nuts or seeds I have at the moment.

    Learning:

    • To type on my phone with both thumbs. GAH! Is this hard for everyone over the age of young? (I can see my niece rolling her eyes!)

    Hygge-ing:

    • Snow day! Yesterday we woke up to our first real snowfall of the year. Miss Tipper Marie, my moms' dog, was spending the day with us while they went up Cape for some appointments. It was so bright in our house and the flakes were big and fluffy. I turned on some Thievery Corporation and we snuggled -- one dog on either side of me -- while I finished editing this.

    Loving:

    • Panos on Lindsay Lohan's Beach Club. We all know who the queen bee is of this show, especially when he CLAP CLAPS to cut off any conversation he doesn't like. Also, I kinda like LiLo's "Bossy" song.

    • My new giant glitter snow globe. Urban Outfitters was offering 50% off items already on sale one day and I scooped this up for $15! It's now sitting on our coffee table. I also bought this light-up glittery snow globe for $5.

    Eliminating:

    • Cable channels. We've been talking for ages about going streaming only. This past month we did a total comparison of our current cable package and streaming options. In the end, we just downgraded our cable (after a lot of conversations and hard sell tactics from them -- thank you, Super Mr., for taking that on!) and are saving a good amount of money. 

    • The Walking Dead. I KNOW!! You are shocked. My all-time binge record is watching four seasons of this show in four days -- 40 episodes in total, 10 a day! But, all good things come to an end and, since Michonne is leaving the show, I'm out.

    Expanding:

    Planning + Organizing:

    • What to do with your leftover plastic straws now that you use your reusable stainless steel ones. Ladies, do your necklaces get tangled? Put one end through the straw and reclose the clasp. Works like a charm and you can easily cut the straws to size. Keeps them separate when you travel, too!

    Fur Mama-ing:

    • Brushing Stephen's teeth. My vet has always strongly advised that we take care of Stephen's teeth. He gets a greenie a day and we've been working hard on brushing his teeth almost daily. It's important to use special toothpaste (the kind people use can be dangerous to them). We use this London Broil-flavored version. For tips on how to brush your dog's teeth, read this.

    • "Would your dog be happier with a second dog?" I often think Stephen would like a buddy but I'm also not sure how happy he'd be sharing our attention. This article has some great guidelines if you decide to expand the family.

    • Leaning how to use the Heimlich maneuver on dogs. I'm truly a Dog Mama AF and worry about all the things that could happen to Stephen. I printed this out and put it on the frig (along with the emergency number for the vet.)

    Health-ing:

    • It's really important to get on the floor. I recently read this article about how important squatting is. "Test subjects who showed difficulty getting up off the floor without support of hands, or an elbow, or leg (what’s called the “sitting-rising test”) resulted in a three-year-shorter life expectancy than subjects who got up with ease."

    • What doctors really mean when they say your condition is "treatable." A recent study found that when patients hear the word "treatable" they think it means "curable." But when doctors use the word, they are often telling you that your condition is uncurable, but there is a treatment for it. That treatment may not be successful. GEEZ! This article has a list of questions, like "what is the goal of this treatment?," to ask if you are ever in this situation.

    Traveling:

    • Shopping my closet. Not sure if you've been around here long enough to remember my resorting tips series (you can read them all here). I am a bit obsessive when it comes to what I wear on vacation. Currently in my closet and drawers there are enough swimsuits, caftans, pareos, and outfits for me to go away for over a month (maybe even two) and never wear the same thing twice. YET! I want ALL NEW THINGS!

    • Avoiding ciguatera poisoning. I would like to thank Mark Bittman for bringing yet another thing for me to worry about to my life. Eating large reef fish -- like RED SNAPPER -- can cause an illness with long-term neurological impacts. Also, here is a very useful guide to eating fish in Jamaica.

    • Travel insurance. Do you buy travel insurance? We used to skip it. But, ever since I injured my back, we buy it as soon as we book our trip (so that I can get the pre-existing condition waver! Did you know about that?? You usually have a 14-21 day period to buy after you book your trip.) And, if you are a frequent traveler, you can buy an annual plan.

    • Caribbean airport amenities. We are about to go on our 8th trip to Jamaica and we are avid users of their VIP arrival and departure service, Club Mobay. If you've ever stood in a humid, non-airconditioned line with the passengers from six other flights that just landed, you know how valuable it is to get through immigration quickly. Club Mobay takes you past the lines (both coming and going) and has a comfortable lounge with free wifi and snacks. AND, turn out these other airports have similar-ish options (definitely checking out that pool at the Punta Cana airport next time!)

    • "The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for All-inclusive Brands." We almost always go the AI route for ease and value, but they are certainly not all the same. If you are interested in going that route, this is a great resource for figuring out which one fits your needs. We've stayed at resorts in six of the brands listed and can attest the information is accurate.


    Extra Credit:

    • "A Suspense Novelist's Trail of Deceptions." Everyone loves a Gatsby story!

    • "A Personal Choice: The Reason I am Getting a Preventative Double Mastectomy" by Nina Garcia. “So sorry you have to endure this upcoming TEMPORARY Hades, but I will be your tits fairy! You WILL get through this and you’ll actually discover lots of new things—new shows, books, and people who demonstrate they are your truest friends."

    • "The Lonely Life of a Yacht Influencer." As an avid fan of Below Deck, this did not surprise me at all. 

    • "What's Next for New Yorker Report Jane Mayer?" "In the early ’90s, she returned from a reporting trip to discover that the lawyer she’d been living with had taken up with her 'polar opposite,' Laura Ingraham, now a Fox News host. The new couple refused to return Mayer’s dog, so one day, when they weren’t home, she and [Jill] Abramson drove over, and Mayer climbed through the pet door to retrieve it."

    • "In Search of Emiliano Sala." Yes, this is an ESPN article. It is very sad, but it's also quite beautiful: "He loved Carquefou, loved the quiet and the quaintness and the charm. He loved the farm behind his house, where his rescue dog, Nala, ran off the leash, skipping among ducks and chickens and cows, including a pair named Prune and Pomponette. He loved the small vineyard, just across the road, where they make Muscadet wine and he could walk with Nala among the grapes." Sigh, Nala and Prune and Pomponette!!

    Thanks again for reading! If you enjoyed this month's content, consider sending me a metaphorical coffee. Next post will be on April 1, which I will prepare for you in advance since I'll be in Jamaica sipping my fruity cocktails.

     



  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 23

    January is an epic milestone month of new beginnings for me and I've been reflecting a lot in the darkness of these days. Four years ago, we moved here just before a series of major blizzards. Life has changed in drastic ways since then and I share my thoughts on that later in this post. 

    And this week, I marked a full year since my surgery. While my brain remembers nothing of the experience -- except the before and after -- I am certain my body does. Anxiety has been bubbling at the edges for weeks as the anniversary approached and I have needed long stretches of nothingness -- of staring out the window at the trees, walking on the beach with the wind stinging my face, and hiding under the covers for hours. I know this will pass as we move away from this date, but for now I'm swaddling myself with stillness and quiet.

    ********************

    In my last post, I promised to share a publishing schedule for 2019. I should confess that I considered turning this into a subscription-only newsletter. After much thought, I am keeping it the way it is and embracing the "back to the blog movement." 

    Two ways you can support my efforts: 1) click on and buy from my Amazon affiliate links. I get a few dollars here and there from that, possibly enough to cover some of the cost of maintaining the site. (PLEASE NOTE: I only recommend products I have bought myself, used, AND feel strongly about their quality and usefulness), or 2) if you like what you read and/or hate Amazon, I've set up a Ko-fi page that works like a virtual tip jar. Check it out here! Thank you so much for your support!

    With that, here's the 2019 schedule:

    Notes from a Clamshell Path (in its regular format) will be posted on the first day of each month. I'll also be adding special postings around specific topics (like finally getting around to fleshing out the Chronic Pain Library, sharing new editions of my used-to-be-popular travel posts, and adding a whole new Cape Cod insiders section.) 

    ********************

    Thinking About:

    • The changes in my life after four years in Provincetown. Often and weirdly, it's hard for me to remember what life was like in Boston. Twenty years is a long time, yet I have only a short list of things I really miss from the city -- my neighborhood nail salon, crab rangoons, someone else shoveling the snow, and the 10-minute cab drive to and from the airport.

      And since then:

      I stopped dying my hair, wearing makeup, and discarded all my Spanx. I have dress sneakers, beach walking sneakers, and everyday sneakers. I recognize the nuances of the seasons by the order in which the flora blooms: from wisteria in the spring through to the Montauk daisies in the fall. I can often tell where the tide is by a quick glance at the harbor.

      I have three weather apps, a tide app, a shark tracking app, and the hunting seasons marked clearly in my calendar (so Stephen and I don't get shot!). I own a balaclava and ice traction grips for my shoes. I have fisherman-grade water shoes and a shellfishing license. I know the difference between a bearberry and a cranberry and where to find them in the dunes. I can identify some animal tracks in the sand and the snow -- although this is forever a work in progress.

      I know where to get local honey and freshly grown sunflowers at the farmstands on the back roads of the Outer Cape. I have spare flip flops, safety orange vests, an extra long leash, towels, and a shovel in the back of my car at all times, year round. I carry a laminated townie pass to Tea Dance and a Provincetown Public Library card in my wallet.

      I schedule my days around the weather, the tides, and when the sun sets and rarely look at the clock anymore. I know when there's one turkey in the road, there are at least ten more behind it. I know coyote deterrent strategies. And I know what the fox says, in the middle of the night when she's calling to her babies.

      Everything I own has a spattering of sand (and/or glitter) on it. My two most-used pieces of equipment are my cordless leaf blower and my hot glue gun. Treasures from our walks are scattered on every horizontal surface in our home. I have a storm prep list posted on the frig and I am perennially prepared for a weather emergency. I now have not one, but two, large costume boxes and a closet full of sequins -- name the theme, she ready.

      My life has contracted down to the essentials, but it has expanded in ways I never thought would be so meaningful. And even though I prefer to linger at the fringes, I am proud to be a member of this small, hardy, determined group out here on this narrow sandbar. More often than not, I am deeply content.

    • Mary Oliver. I cried when I read that she had died. Mary Oliver IS Provincetown in many ways. ("After winning the Pulitzer, she worried she might not be able to go to the town dump to get firewood.") In honor of Mary Oliver and her walks on this land, I'm taking steps this year to conquer my fear of being in the woods by myself. (I'm fine when I am with other people and/or with Stephen and totally comfortable in open landscapes, like the dunes or the beach.) 

    Thankful For:
    • A fairly open calendar. Last year I had at least one medical appointment almost every week for six months straight. And then one every few weeks after that. I've returned to only annual exams from this point forward and I cannot tell you how good that feels! 

    Watching:

    • The Looming Tower. No idea why I decided to end the year binging this stress-inducing series about the rivalry between the FBI and CIA leading up to 9/11 and how it may have kept us from preventing that attack. Warning: the last episode has real footage from that day. I watched it from the kitchen, as far from the TV as I could get.
    • Avicii: True Stories. It is extremely difficult to watch this film. I was struck by just how little control he seemed to have over his own life decisions. And when he finally did, he should have flourished. The most painful part is we know he didn't. 

    • Derry Girls. IT IS HILARIOUS!!! We watched it the same day there was an IRA bombing in the town where it takes place (London)Derry. I mean, really? Are we just going to do all the worst things over and over again? Tip: turn on the subtitles.

    • A Simple FavorSuch an entertaining film -- creepy but campy! That Anna Kendrick is definitely someone I'd be friends with. 

    • The Smiths' last live show. I was/am/will always be/Morrissey forever! a Smiths fan. I will liquidate my retirement account to pay for a ticket to see them should the impossible happen and they reunite for a reunion concert. Favorite song is at 27:10.

    Creating:

    • Winter bird resort for our feathery friends. It's really easy to get involved in birding on the Cape. Between the Bird Watchers General Store and the Massachusetts Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, you have all the tools and resources you need! We started with a small feeder that attaches to our side window and a squirrel-proof feeder that hangs on our deck where the disco ball goes in the summer. It's been wildly popular with the neighborhood birds!

    Reading:

    • 30 pages a day or 10,950 pages by the end of the year. After receiving an email telling me that I was in the top 1% of Pocket app article readers and the article pages I read last year were the EQUIVALENT of 48 BOOKS, I am now being WAY more selective with my article reading. Combining that with my new habit of reading at least 30 pages a day has resulted in me finishing three books already this year.

    • My 2019 Reading List. As promised, I published my reading list for the year on a separate page. I've also added a short list of books I want to listen to on Audible. There are a lot of Cape Cod, nature, animal, and Jamaica-themed books on it. You can check it out for inspiration here.

    Listening:

    • The Big One: Your Survival Guide podcast. Granted, I am as far away from California as one can get in this country, but I am (not-so) secretly a prepper. It is horrifying to hear how the earthquake will likely go down and I am translating the survival tips to our own dangers out here. Step one: put sneakers by your bed so you can quickly put them on should you need to flee unexpectedly in the middle of the night.
    • Podcast episodes:
      -Elizabeth Gilbert's The Moth episode about the death of her partner, Raya. You will cry and you will laugh and, most of all, you will remember why you loved Eat Pray Love so much. 

      -How To Survive the End of the World  episode, "Awww Shucks: How Do We Prepare for Climate Apocalypse?" Clearly there is a theme here. But assuming a climate apocalypse would require you to stay where you are (likely not the case for us as we would be UNDERWATER), how would you survive? Do you know how to grow or forage for food? Who in your community could you depend on? It is Walking Dead Season 3-level planning.
    • The Ravenclaw Common Room ambient sounds on Ambient Gradient app. The Super Mr. and I both were sorted into Ravenclaw and, thanks to someone's absolute brilliance, I can write this post while pretending I'm at Hogwarts. (I also like the Slytherin one, which sounds like you are underwater -- just turn off some of the jarring noises and you will feel like you are floating.)

    Eating + Drinking:

    • Nothing. Sweet Baby Jesus, do not make me eat one more cookie or cheesy casserole or bacon-sprinkled dish!! Those holidays did me IN! (Actually, this is a fib. I've been eating EVERY delicious thing The Super Mr. has been cooking up this winter.)

    Learning:

    • Nature classes. As an adult, I can only tolerate about an hour or two of "instruction" in a group setting. (Flashback to a cooking class I took in Cambridge when we went around the room to introduce ourselves, one woman READ A POEM she had written for the class. On day one. It was the most Cambridge experience I ever had.) However, if you add a live animal or nature in general to the mix, I turn into Hermione Granger. I am filling up my late winter and spring calendar with these types of learning experiences. 

    • The struggle to understand "Stan Twitter." I fell down a rabbit hole a few weeks ago after that whole hoo-ha with Paulie, Cara Maria, and Danielle came out. YES, I am still watching those damn Challenges. And, YES, I watched the live stories and listened to Reality Steve's podcasts. And, YES, I read all the Stan Twitter accounts about what was going on. I AM NOT PROUD OF IT.  I'm still not super clear how to use "stan" in a sentence, though. 

    Hygge-ing:

    • Crawling into bed around 4:30 pm every day to watch the sunset from under the covers. I cannot tell you how much joy this brings me -- something about the weight of the blankets and the warmth of the bed and all those pretty colors outside (we have the BEST winter sunsets out here!)

    Loving:

    • The peacock at Snug Harbor Farm. It's half peacock-colored and half white. But all mixed up. I can't stop looking it at! 

    • Plant lights. The Super Mr. calls them my weed lights. I was able to bring several of my summer container plants inside and am trying so very hard to nurture them through the winter. We have some really grey days out here and I am hoping these will fill in the gaps.

    • The Merlin Bird ID app from Cornell. I have my mother, an avid birder, to thank for this discovery! You can set the app to your exact location, pick a date of year ("today" is an option), and get a list of common birds you are likely to encounter. AND there are recordings of all the songs and callings the bird makes!

    • The Hay Bullet Pen. I bought one of these at my church, also known as the McNally Jackson pen store in NYC. It's shiny, writes smoothly, is sleek, and feels great to write with. Mine is also bright metallic green. And it's #9 on The Strategist's 100 Best Pens list.

    Eliminating:

    • Savagely purging my digital intake backlog. At the end of the year, I cleared out most of the things I had saved in DVR (except Bourdain and a select number of House Hunters International), got rid of anything in my Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime watchlists that I would likely never watch (goodbye Oscar-nominated shorts from 2016!), trimmed my saved items in Feedly down to less than ten, and cleared a backlog of articles in my Pocket app. I also edited my Overcast podcast player and unfollowed at least 100 accounts on both Twitter and Instagram. NO ONE NEEDS A CONSTANT REMINDER OF ALL THINGS YOU WILL NEVER DO. Purge away, my friends!

    • White sage bundles. Did you know that white sage is a protected plant?? Best to steer clear of those smudge sticks and burn something else instead. The Good Place is right -- you can't do anything good without doing a million things bad at the same time.

    Expanding:

    • I just bought a fire ladder. I have no idea where to put it, though. Do I store it in one of the two rooms where we would need to use it? Do I put in the closet next to my escape sneakers because we can take it where we need to should there be a fire while we are sleeping? And don't think I haven't figured out how to get Stephen down it. I'm currently speccing a backpack to carry him.

    Planning + Organizing:

    • My 2019 Plan. My overall goal for the year is to be more purposeful in how I use my time. I mentioned in my last post that I have a million things on my to do list for the year. Most are things I have put off doing for some time and now I need to get cracking!

      My system this year is NOT simple and involves daily work in the Many Moons planner, a super comprehensive Trello board named "Life" that I have been developing for about five years, and a new two-page weekly To Do Sheet that includes:
         -my quote for the year
         -my 2019 themes (like cancer prevention and debt reduction)
         -my monthly goals (like getting the car detailed)
         -my daily questions (which I mentioned in my last post), and
         -my areas of daily focus (like nourish, meditate, earn, read, write, etc.)

      It is a bit of a beast but I have learned that in order to keep things top of mind I need to SEE it all. Just taking 20 minutes in the morning to remind myself of what I want to make room for in my life has been super useful!

    • I've been working on the January Cure from Apartment Therapy. Happy to report that I have tackled most of the assignments so far and the china cabinet and utensil drawer have been cleaned out and organized, I have an ever-filling box in the laundry room of stuff that we'll donate or get rid of, and a project plan to make the office easier to switch over to a guest room. You can start anytime but you may want to go in and print out the assignments because they go away at some point. Note: the premise is small actions add up and you don't have to go all Kondo on your home.

    Fur Mama-ing:

    Health-ing:

    Traveling: 
    Welcome to a new section! Much of Juniper Disco over the years has been about traveling to warm places. I'm adding this new space to share with you some of my tips and things I discover.

    • Compression bags. We recently bought a new suitcase that I SWEAR was listed as the same size as the one we had. It is WAY smaller! We've taken two trips with it so far and I've managed fairly well with it. However, Jamaica is coming up soon and I tend to bring a lot of outfits with me. Luckily, I found these compression bags that you can stuff to the gills and then zip them up to compress everything. 

    • "How to Pack Like a Doctor." Luckily, I've never gotten horribly sick on a trip so far, but I do go prepared. Unlike this doctor, I buy small travel size versions and leave everything in the box unopened (just in case the country you are traveling to has some questions!). And remember to leave products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers) or codeine at home if you are traveling to Mexico -- it's illegal to bring them into the country!

    Extra Credit:

    Once again, thank you so much for reading! See you back here in a few weeks! This is a short month. Make the most of it!

     

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 22

    Eight years ago this month, I started a little personal project you know as Juniper Disco. I had just changed jobs and was looking for something I could create that was all mine, without any pressures from overlords and/or the expectation to be proper and appropriate. There were times when I posted every single day and there were also long gaps of silence, but mostly there were spits and sputters of inspiration.

    I've thought a lot about this space this year. It requires a decent amount of time, thought, and effort to put these together and it is very much worth it to me. I hope you think so, too. Look for my post in mid-January for the details on a regular posting schedule. And thank you all for reading! A special shout out to those of you who have stuck with me through all of my iterations. I appreciate you so much! 

    Thinking About:

    • 20 f#@king 18. I remember how I felt this time last year -- terrified by the prospect of my impending surgeries and crying in the bathtub every day. I have since had two ectomies, one oscopy, and an ometry. I no longer mix up "salpingo" with "Spicoli." I am missing six body parts and have some badass scars. I'm cold all the time and wear thermal vests or extra tank tops to stay warm. I no longer have to get squished into a machine or fight hyperventilation while a tube around me clangs -- something I would have had to do every six months for the rest of my life had I not chosen surgery. Best of all, fear has been replaced with curiosity and confidence -- in myself, in my choices, and in the people around me. 

      Also, the word I uttered most this past year was "douchebag."

    • Intentions for 2019. I recently read this quote:

      "The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it." - David W. Orr

      When I sat down to do my 2019 intention list, I ended up with a giant list of things I needed and wanted to do, especially after a year of rest and healing. On the one hand, it's great to know where to put my efforts and how to organize the year around what I want to accomplish. On the other, productivity is not my main goal in life.

      So, in addition to ticking things off my giant checklist, every morning in 2019 I am going to ask myself these three questions, inspired by that quote above, and see where we go from there:

      What am I going to do today to "live well in my place"?
      Who do I need to connect with today and why?
      What am I doing to enjoy this day?

    Thankful For:

    • Having most of the family here for Thanksgiving. In addition to the three parts of our family that live in Massachusetts, the in-laws joined us from Jersey, and my dad came up from Pennsylvania. Although we realized we may have overprogrammed our time (and despite two falls, a sick parent, and a knife wound), we enjoyed our together-ing.

    • An unusual Christmas. This year we celebrated with our family over the weekend -- a short but festive bout of eating, eating, and more eating. And for the first time, maybe ever, The Super Mr. and I spent a rather quiet Christmas Eve at home, watching Top Chef and eating chicken saltimbocca with pesto pasta. And then on Christmas Day, our friends came over for a marathon day of watching Hallmark Christmas movies and playing the accompanying drinking game. I usually find the holidays overwhelming and exhausting, but spreading the celebration out like this was rather nice.


    Holiday-ing:

    Watching:

    • The Clinton Affair. It's long. It's painful. It's maddening, but it is worth the time watching the Hullabaloo-Formerly-Known-as-the-Monica-Lewinsky-Scandal be reframed. Douchebags. Every one of them.
    • Dumplin'. I thought this was meh until the drag queens entered the story, which is pretty much how I feel about most things in life. Also, I have woken up with Dolly Parton in my head every day since watching this. Consider yourself warned.

    • Dirty John. I was riveted by the podcast so of course I needed to watch the Bravo adaptation. A few things: 1) It's way more terrifying on screen, 2) My imagined Debra and John were not nearly as attractive as these actors, and 3) Tami Taylor can do no wrong.

    • Momentum Generation. It's a little Broskies-do-the-Lord-of-the-Flies, but it's also a really great surfing documentary, ultimately about friendship. And it sums up GenXers pretty well: "You're on your own, dude." (Also, did you see Kelly Slater's latest? at 46!)

    Creating:

    • Pseudo-decorating. Mostly I just put sweaters and hats on all my animal figures in the house and toss some bottle brush trees here and there. I already have twinkle lights all over the place year-round so it was pretty easy to festivize.


    Reading:

    • Florida by Lauren Groff. I took this with me to read on our recent getaway to Florida. It was a perfect short story collection to get me back into reading. It also made me feel super meta. Someone on the interwebs recently heard her read and found her tone to be rather sarcastic and light, which is not at all how these come across to me. I found myself slightly horrified by the plots (abandoned children everywhere) and frozen in my tracks by some of her words, like:

      "I duct-taped the gauze to my head, already mourning my long hair, which had been my most expensive pet."
      and
      "They worked in silence, only the noise of exuberant natural Florida filling their ears, the unafraid birds, the seethe of insects."

    Listening:

    • The Competition podcast, season 2, about the Mr. Los Angeles Leather competition. FIRST: NSFW! And if you are at all a little prudish, this is not for you. (Or maybe it is? Expand your comfort zone.) 

    • Podcast episodes:
      *"How El Chapo Ended Up in a Brooklyn Courtroom" episode of The Daily. Insane!

      *"Settlers, Unsettled" episode of Studio 360. It was fascinating to hear what Bill Jankowitz of Buffalo Tom did after being a rock star! (Starts around 21:20.) Also, I played Big Red Letter Day so many times driving my charge around DC when I was a nanny in the 90s, she knew all the words. Her favorite? "Sodajerk." Oops.

    • 10 Things That Scare Me podcast. Only a few minutes in length, each podcast features an interesting person listing things they are afraid of and why. People like John Green. And Anthony Scaramucci. My list is now 1,457 fears long.

    • Broken Harts podcast. Remember that story in the news of the women who adopted six children and then drove them off the cliff? This podcast is digging deep into their lives to try to fiure out what was going on in their home. I'm transfixed.


    Eating + Drinking:

    • Beanstock's Ho, Ho, Joe! coffee. Locally roasted in Eastham, this coffee is a "seasonal blend of vanilla, hazelnut, and chestnut with a warm cinnamon background." Holiday in a mug! (Also, if you like a darker roasted flavor, you can mix it -- 50/50 -- with your regular coffee and still get the wonderful seasonal flavor.)

    • Trader Joe's Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa. I currently have two cans of this in my pantry. So yummy! I would eat it with a spoon if I didn't think it would choke me, à la the cinnamon challenge or tiramisu.

    • Cape Cod Cafe's frozen bar pizza. I first heard about "bar pie" when we lived in Hingham. Even though "Cape Cod" is in the title of this, it's totally a South Shore thing. Luckily, we can get frozen versions in our local Stop & Shop. Locals, stock up for the winter!

    • "Investigating Pennsylvania's Very Particular Penchant for Potato Chips." Born and raised in the heart of Amish Country (as outsiders call it), I can attest to the potato chip thing and affinity for "mom-and-pop brands." We were a Martin's family growing up.

    • Bacon jam from Winslow's Tavern. In addition to amazing white drippy candles and modern nautical design, the food here was SO good! We took a jar of bacon jam home with us to serve at our grazing table for Christmas. You can order some online!

    Learning:

    • Udemy. This past month, Udemy had a special $9.99 sale on their courses and for 24 hours you could also get a free course -- so two for $9.99 seemed worth the exploration. I chose an animal reiki course (for Stephen's benefit, of course) and one on passive income. I haven't had a second to start either of them but once the holiday hoopla disappears, I'll plunge right in.


    Hygge-ing:

    • Dorthe Nors' short story, "Hygge," and this interview with her in Paris Review. Let's just say hygge-ing takes a dark turn in her short story. She has a different way of looking at things:
      "Baileys tastes of German rest areas and the corner of some party where nothing's happening." 


    Loving:


    Eliminating/Limiting:

    • Soda. A number of years ago I completely cut out soda from my diet. I went cold turkey (except I reserved the right to have it with pizza.) Somehow, however, it's crept back into my life and I am now, once again, trying to oust it. 

    • My favorite magazine has stopped subscription publication. Waaaa!!!! I've received my last copy of Coastal Living magazine in the mail. However, they will now be publishing seasonal editions for the "newsstand only." All is not lost!

    • "12 Items You Should Toss Before 2019." A great list of easy things to get rid of to make more space for the new year. I'm working through all my old cords and chargers.


    Expanding:

    • Nutritionist. I recently had my first session with a nutritionist to help me manage some of my health risks that cannot be addressed through other means (like surgery or medications.) Good news is that we are doing pretty well with our overall diet choices. My goals for the next two months (after the holidays, of course) are pretty simple: 1) limit soda to no more than one a day, 2) eat fruit/vegetables with every meal AND snack, and 3) check the sodium levels on everything we buy and stay away from anything the has 20% or more of your sodium for the day, the lower the better. I think I can do that (as soon as someone eats these cookies.)


    Planning + Organizing:

    • Invierno + Hiver Pinterest board. I've had success using my other seasonal Pinterest boards, so I put one together for winter. It's MUCH smaller than my summer board, but in those moments when I actually want to do something, the board is a great reminder of the options.

    • Get ready for Apartment Therapy's January Cure! I tried to do this last year -- while I was preparing for surgery -- and failed. I loved the simple challenges I saw and am ready to give it more of an effort this year. Sign up if you want to join in!

    • Many Moons Lunar Planner for 2019. It's sold out most places, but you might be able to find it at one of the smaller retailers listed on the website. I've set aside a morning for myself to do the prep work for the year. I think I'll be able to manage this one more than the previous Many Moons. Everything is broken down into smaller pieces that I think I can manage.


    Fur Mama-ing: 

    • An update on the dangers of a grain-free dog food. SO, it turns out the "grain-free dog food causes heart disease in dogs" thing isn't quite so simple. My vet explained to us that they aren't sure what the issue is, but making sure Stephen gets a variety of foods is really important. The latest update clarifies that it seems to be boutique foods and exotic diets and maybe grain-free food. If you haven't talked to your vet yet, you might want to get some guidance. Also, you can subscribe to this newsletter from Tufts Veterinary Medical Center if you want the latest info on nutrition for your pets.

    • Blair Braverman. She's got an uplifting Twitter feed about her sled dogs -- especially this thread about her dog, Grinch. She lives in Alaska right now and is about to run her first Iditarod. And she had some hilarious tweets after that huge earthquake -- making for higher ground after the tsunami warning and the tragedy of glass bottles in liquor stores (only the cheap stuff in plastic bottles survived!) She's also written a book, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube (which is on my 2019 Reading List that I will publish in January's post.) And apparently her husband is transgender.  She's a super interesting person to add to your circle!

    • Coyote deterrents. A few days before that dog with his coyote vest went viral, I had ordered one (in teal Kevlar with French blue whiskers) for Stephen! It was a bit small so we're waiting for the size exchange to arrive (he's short but long so his butt was exposed in the original size we ordered.) The Super Mr. has been seeing coyotes all around our house lately during his evening walks -- and one that was entirely too close for comfort for him. We also ordered air horns to carry, which is supposed to frighten them off. I know people think it's a bit extra, I'm guessing they've never had a German Shepherd-size coywolf come charging at them. These are real life issues out here!

    • New leash. Recently, we had three leashes stuck in the open position at the same time. Ocean air and ocean water mixed with wet sand ruins them. So we are trying this hard core leash that has an anti-rust carabiner instead of the standard attachment mechanism. It's way too much leash for our little boo but I feel like he is securely attached to me now and that carabiner is going to stay closed.

    Health-ing:

    • I will never eat a pine nut again. As soon as I finished reading that article, I ran to the cupboard and threw out the jar of pine nuts we had in there. If you get the wrong kind, it can mess up your taste buds for months! 

    • Vitamin D and fish oil. Did you see the recent headlines that taking these supplements has no significant impact on your health? A bit misleading since the study found there WAS a positive impact on preventing heart attacks, especially for African-Americans and those already with heart disease. And an impact for those of us with high triglycerides. I'll keep taking mine. AND I'll keep going in the sun and eating seafood.

    Extra Credit:



    The Annual Best Of the "Best Of" Lists Round-up
    (so many "Best Of" lists out there this time of year, here are my favorites:)

    Hope you all get some quality rest and have great times with the people you love in the next few days! Enjoy saying goodbye to the Year of the Douchebag and let's all usher in a new phase of hope, common sense, and being people who live well in their place!

     

     

     

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 21

    The holidays are just around the corner! We're hosting both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and boy, do I have some cleaning to do!

    I'm feeling grateful this year -- with two successful surgeries in the review mirror and a Democratic-controlled House ready to fight for us in the new year! I'm stronger than I was last year at this time and, dare I say it, more hopeful!

    So let's get to it! Here's my annual special edition post with extra gifting and holiday-ing information for you.

    Gifting: (A list of all the things I would love to give and receive that don't make it to my actual practical wish list in real life.)


    Holiday-ing:

    Thinking About:

    • The mid-term election results!! Currently I am working on my Nancy-Pelosi-Grabs-the-Gavel-From-Paul-Ryan's-Quivering-Hands-and-Saves-the-World-on-CSPAN viewing outfit. Stephen is planning to wear his American flag cape.

      Here are my three take-aways: 1. With over 100 women headed to Congress(!), I've made a commitment to read a little something about each of them, starting with this one. 2. And nine scientists! May we all return to data and thoughtful analysis and critical thinking. 3. Our voting process needs a serious overhaul! Florida, you keep effing this up. Get it together, Becky!

      Also, R. Eric Thomas ranked all the voting stickers (personally, I liked #37 Du Page County, Illinois, the best!)

    • Awe. Do yourself a favor and take some time to read this article!  "A growing body of research suggests that experiencing awe may lead to a wide range of benefits, from happiness and health to perhaps more unexpected benefits such as generosity, humility, and critical thinking." This is what I live for! The spice of life. The special sauce. If nothing else, it can make you feel like you have more time. And who doesn't need that??

    Thankful For:

    • All those kick-ass people who gave their time, energy, and resources to election campaigns for progressives. I don't have the words to express my gratitude to our fellow citizens who pushed hard for our candidates and are STILL at it in some places. 

    Watching:

    • Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami. I watched this on Election Day. It was fascinating to watch her larger-than-life persona in her performances juxtaposed against her time with her family in Jamaica. 

    • The Miniaturist on Masterpiece Theatre. The girl-in-a-pearl-earring-Rembrandty costumes alone are worth it! It's a slightly spooky story with a surprise-after-surprise plot. And ends up being very girl power. Not your typical MT crusty, dusty old fare.

    • Bodyguard. I don't think I moved a twitch during the first 20 minutes of the first episode or the last hour of the finale. One review I read was spot on with this quote: “As the credits rolled, I snouted for more like a truffle-hunting pig.”

    • Homecoming. I listened to both seasons of the podcast so I was curious how this would play out visually. Honestly, I was a little bored through the first two episodes -- stick with it until it picks up in episode three. Also, I miss David Schwimmer (and are we all loving him as Mean Ross on Will & Grace this season or what??) And that last scene during the credits is sort of explained here.

    • A Very English Scandal. Warning: a dog dies. Otherwise, it's VERY entertaining. Hugh Grant is charmingly naughty as usual and the storyline is cray-cray. I mean, this line: "You have put that stupid babbling man in a court with a gun and a motive and a dead dog, and on top of that, he's a bloody fairy! He will love it!"

    Creating:

    • This year's advent grab bag for my niece. I love gathering little gifts for my niece to open each day of December leading up to Christmas. She's at college this year so she'll get her bag of fun at Thanksgiving to take to school with her. I'll share some of my favorites with you after she's opened them all.

    Reading:

    • The Snagglepuss Chronicles. Yes, it's a comic book. But it's main character is Snagglepuss! And he is a gay Southern playwright!  Heaven's to Murgatroyd, how did I not see that before!

    • Reading lists. While looking for inspiration to get back into reading, I've decided to tackle this World Reading Challenge and give myself two years to finish it. There are 52 books -- including War and Peace -- so this might be an ambitious timeline. And I've only read five of the books listed.

      I'm also creating a list of 10 books to read in 2019 that are focused on animals (like Sy Montgomery's books), nature (like Tristan Gooley's), and Cape Cod. I'll post it here in January in case you want some inspiration for your own reading list.

    Listening:

    Eating + Drinking:

    • Nuttzo. I love nut butters and am trying an experiment this year to see if eating more of them lowers my cholesterol. This version has cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and flax seeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds. All good stuff! However, if you don't get those chia seeds out of your teeth right afterwards they balloon in size in your mouth. 

    • Dark Salted Brown Butter Chocolate. Tastes like a salted buttery rich chocolate -- so decadent!

    • Cinnamon Churro Marshmallow Rice Treats. Rice Crispie treats and churros in one? Yes, please!

      Learning:

      • How to have our yard qualify as a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation (life-long Ranger Rick super fan here.) Did you know the US has over 40 million acres of LAWN? We have had all sorts of animals in our yard since we moved here. We're surrounded on three sides by small stretches of natural wild habitat, which used to freak us out as former city-dwellers. There are only two or three things we need to do/add from the requirement list to be certified.

      • The difference between a bearberry and a cranberry. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way. I came across a patch of what I thought were cranberries on one of my walks. I thought it was strange that people hadn't picked them yet, since they were much easier to get to than the cranberries in the dunes. Turns out there was a reason -- they were bearberries (slightly smaller, harder, and mealy-ish inside.)

      Hygge-ing:

      • "November Prepares Us." I love this idea from Chinese medicine that winter starts at the beginning of November. And that all we need to focus on in November is to do less, cook slowly, and give thanks.

      • Local off-season gatherings and events. Someday I will write a Love Letter to Provincetown, in the same vein as my 2011 Love Letter to Gay Men, but, for now, I'll just gush about the creative people who live in this town who create wonderful spaces and events for us to enjoy when no one else is here. The Canteen's Winter Lodge and Holiday MarketSpindler's 20 Thursdays, and Relish'pop-up in the center of town are three things I'm really looking forward to!

      Loving:

      • Dr. David Agus. I watch him on CBS This Morning Saturday and he is always enthusiastic about whatever health research development he's sharing with us. And he wears adorable sweaters and is super nice and just makes you want to be his friend. 

      • Delde Pen Bag. I own two of these (light blue and pale yellow) and think they are the BEST pen bags out there. First, they hold a lot of pens and, second, the top portion slides down over the bottom turning it into a very useful pencil cup.

      • These beautiful bird feather bookmarks by Momoka. Another part of my strategy to get back into reading is having something beautiful tucked in to the pages to see every time I sit down to read.

      • CarbonKlean Peeps eyeglass cleaner. You know how hard it is to clean your glasses and you always end up just spreading around the smudge?? Friends, this is your life saver. I have no idea how it works but it totally removes Stephen's kisses. And the best thing? You clean both sides of the lens at the same time.

      Eliminating:

      • Moving to CBS This Morning. Years ago, we left The Today Show because Trump was always on spouting loud nonsense (and this was before he entered politics) and because of how badly they treated Ann Curry. We quickly became Good Morning America fans UNTIL Chris Christie bullied Sunny Hostin. So we're over at CBS now and it's less frenetic, there's less hyperbole, and it's just CALMER.

      • Missing items! The Borrowers seem to have moved in to our house. I'm missing a number of things that were all last seen in the same corner of the bedroom (but went missing at different times!) I've looked everywhere and, unless Stephen is squirreling these things away under the bed, I'm at a loss as to what happened to them. WHERE ARE THEY?

      Expanding:

      • Evening routine. My evening routine has generally consisted of brushing and flossing my teeth and getting a glass of water for my nightstand. I love this idea of adding a few more things to that list, including expressing gratitude for what happened during the day and setting an intention to remember your dreams. I'd also add one more: remind yourself to NOT spend time thinking about major life decisions during the middle of the night. Everything is better in the morning.

      Health-ing:

      • Brazil nuts. Only eat one or two a day to get your selenium (apparently you can OD on it if you eat more than that). Why? Selenium helps balance your thyroid, helps prevent skin and breast cancer -- "particularly for people genetically predisposed"-- and helps eliminate heavy metals (especially mercury) if you eat a lot of seafood.

      • Using Ayurveda to avoid winter weight gain. I'm a little late to this having already started the winter warmth layer around my middle. There are lots of tips in there that are pretty easy to do and I'm focusing on the no snacking rule. Snacks are my favorite, of course, because everything I like is bad for me. This article about healthy eating in general using Ayurveda principles is also helpful. #8 is my worst habit. 

      Planning + Organizing:

      • Refreshing the emergency kits and go bags. Winter storms can get pretty bad here -- the winds are intense and it's not uncommon to lose power. Recently, we've also been getting tornado warnings, which is a whole different situation to prepare for. We already have a Storm Prep list on the frig that helps us remember what needs to be done (including unplugging the microwave, which we lost during one power outage). I find this article, "Dressing for Disaster," extremely helpful in creating preparation plans for evacuating your home quickly. And I recently bought this document fireproof pouch, and have filled it with all our important papers.

      • Did you plan what you were going to do with the money you won from those big lottery jackpots? I surprised myself with what I came up with! My plans seemed to go in concentric circles, radiating from safety and security for myself, my family, and my closest friends (everyone's debt gets paid off! houses for everyone!) to economic prosperity for our community (housing for seasonal workers and year-round renters! seed money for year-round business owners! buying all the art from the local artists!), and then saving the world (a better health care system for Jamaica! funding for climate change scientists and genetic research! save all the dogs!!).

      Fur Mama-ing:

      • Lyme disease in dogs. Stephen is regularly vaccinated for Lyme disease (because they have one for dogs, but NOT PEOPLE. What?). Even so, he tested positive for exposure two years ago and then again this year. Turns out, the vaccine itself can cause a false positive result, which was the case for Stephen. We had to have his blood tested twice, one month apart. So very, very glad he does not have this debiliating disease!

      • Biofilm. You probably already know this, but you really need to stay on top of washing your dog's water bowl. That slime that you feel on the sides is gross bacteria. The article recommends soaking in a bleach solution once a week, too. Which, of course, I will now start doing.

      • An update on Stephen's taurine test. Thought you all might like to know that Stephen's taurine levels are in the normal range! So he is not in danger of having a heart issue caused by eating a grain-free diet (as I talked about in this post.) Again, not an inexpensive test but worth it to this Dog Mama who can now rest easy at night.

      Extra Credit: 

      Thanks again for reading! I'll have a special photo-only post next Thursday for you. Remember, Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow so prepare yourself for some weird stuff happening!

       

       

    • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 20

      Today is the day! I'm wearing my Pod Save America tshirt under my RBG squad sweatshirt. My middle finger nails are painted bright blue. My crystals are gathered in one place together for maximum energy output. I am burning all the things, all day long. And I have my stress management plan ready: walking on the beach with the boo, cleaning the china cabinet from top to bottom, watching the feel-good movies I have queued, and snacking on the bowl of citrus I placed on the counter while planning our escape if things don't go our way. Kitchen dance party is scheduled for this afternoon.

      Godspeed, everyone! LET'S DO THIS THING!

      Loving:

      • These two mesmerizing Instagram accounts: David Shtorm, who makes cotton candy on the street while dancing, mostly to Michael Jackson songs, and Sam Barsky, who knits sweaters of locations and then WEARS THE SWEATER TO THAT LOCATION. Also, the sweaters have short sleeves.

      • Gilchrist and SoamesThese are the products used at our favorite resort, Couples Negril, in Jamaica. A bit pricey but a worthy purchase for winter survival or a gift for someone you like a lot. The Spa Therapy scent is the best!

      • Superfloss. I have this one space between my teeth that is a bit larger than others and my dental hygienist recommended using this floss. Super helpful if you have a similar problem.

      Eliminating:

      • Trimming my political diet. Remember when I subscribed to everything political and told you to do the same? Well, I have now UNsubscribed from almost all of it. And I am a happier person for it. I even got rid of every "breaking news" alert. Here's what I kept: Brian Stelter's Reliable Sources and Crooked Media newsletters. The Daily and Pod Save America podcasts (their HBO series was good, too.) That's it! I watch some news (I last about 10 minutes and then I'm too angry to keep going) and try be very careful about dipping into Twitter.

      • Noting the "Introvert Door Slam." I am an INFJ (as highlighted in the article) and totally guilty of this. I've done it many times -- and usually YEARS after I should have done it and in ways I'm sure the other person never notices.

      • Cutting off the size tags in my clothes. Ages ago, I volunteered at the Goodwill in Boston to sort clothes that were donated for the Dress for Success program. We were instructed to sort the clothes according to size as best we could, because every woman CUT OFF THEIR SIZE TAGS. I used to do this, too, and had no idea it was an epidemic! How messed up is that? And we all do it! But, my friends, I finally stopped.

      Expanding:

      • Daily cleaning schedule. I know this sounds horribly boring, but it was totally and completely life-changing this summer. We get a lot of visitors in the summer months and sometimes without a lot of notice. So this year I treated every week as if we were expecting company and was able to keep on top of things AND avoid that last minute scurry to clean the house from top to bottom (usually on the sunniest day of the week, which would make me hugely resentful.)

      • Hummingbird feeder and grape jelly for orioles. I shared last time that birds are my thing right now. We got ourselves a hummingbird feeder and learned at the Mass Audubon that orioles like grape jelly. We only saw a few of these birds, but next year we'll put everything out at the right time and get plants that they both like. Bookmark this page for next year so you can find out when the hummingbirds are sighted in your area during their migration. Also, here are more tips for attracting them to your yard.

      • New section on health. I recently read that they removed the information on breast cancer on the US gov website -- like, JUST TOOK IT DOWN. I read a lot of health-related, science-based articles and decided to start a new section of this journal to share some of that information with you. I'll likely focus on women's health, mid-life health issues, and those things no one ever told us to expect as we age. First one is below.

      Health-ing:

      • Women, alcohol, and breast cancer. Did you know 15% of breast cancer cases are related to alcohol consumption?? Alcohol is a carcinogen AND, in women, it raises estrogen levels in the body, which can encourage cancer cell growth. I don't think we are warned enough about this. 

        "Alcohol causes at least seven types of cancer, but it kills more women from breast cancer than from any other. The International Agency for Research on Cancer estimates that for every drink consumed daily, the risk of breast cancer goes up 7 percent."

        And this little tidbit: "In Utah, Mormon women’s breast cancer rates are more than 24 percent lower than the national average." Mormon women generally don't drink.

        Definitely do some research on this! Start with the hyperlinks in this section, read this too, and then talk to your doctor.
      • Lymphatic massage therapy. I had several sessions of this after my surgeries. The lymph system has no self-propelling mechanism and only moves the toxins out of your body when you move around.

        If you are on the Cape, two recommendations: 1) Mercedez Calleros is a wonderful practitioner and energy healer. Go see her! 2) The Cape Wellness Collaborative provides $250 wellness cards towards a huge list of alternative therapies for anyone undergoing cancer treatment (including us previvors.)

      • This very cool thing that Harvard Medical School is doing. By gathering data on "exceptional responders," they will create "the first national registry for exceedingly rare patients who beat overwhelming odds and respond mysteriously — even uniquely — well to treatments that failed to help others." 

      Planning + Organizing:

      • Glass storage. I've been saving all our glass jars to use as storage for my nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. We're avid recyclers here and I have always loved putting things in containers. So satisfying! Also, did you know how harmful black plastic is?

      • Fort Lauderdale. We were planning to go to Bayahibe, which is on the Caribbean side of the DR, but I had one of those moments when things were getting too complicated -- midnight flights, two hour transfer to the resort, too much! So we found a terrific deal to what is really Ptown South, as many in our town move there in the winter. I'm looking forward to some warm weather! We'll be travelling while Mercury is still in retrograde so I'll be following this advice pretty closely. 

      • Setting intentions for the seasons. I mentioned that I had a kick-ass summer. 100% of that was due to planning and setting a few guidelines at the beginning of the season. I created a
        100 Days of Summer Pinterest board that I used as a reminder of those things that are truly best -- or, in many cases, only offered -- during the summer months. And then I planned my weeks around them. The Super Mr. and I also agreed on a plan to balance our summer with our guests' vacations here. And in the end, there were only a few things we didn't get to do -- mostly because of weather or because we ran out of free weekends -- and not because we compromised our plans.
        ,
        We've done the same for fall and you can view my Autumn on the Cape Pinterest board and my "Townie Summer" highlights here. I'm busy rounding out one for the winter as we speak.

      Fur Mama-ing:

      • Grain-free dog food may cause heart disease! I read this article this summer and had a complete freakout. After boiling some rice and shoving it down Stephen's throat, I immediately bought food with grain in it and started mixing it in with his regular GRAIN-FREE kibble.

        I also talked to my vet. She is a huge advocate of feeding dogs whole foods and recommended this web site, which is very hard to use (click on "healthy dog" and choose the "popular pre-set recipes" option) and for now we're rotating his food and adding eggs, cheese, and chicken/rice to his food.

        We're also having his taurine levels tested, which is not inexpensive, but the boo was heartworm positive when we adopted him and went through a lot with his treatment for that. They also discovered during that time that his heart is slightly rounded so anything related to his heart makes me nervous. I'll let you all know how things proceed.

        ALSO, if you have a golden retriever, talk to your vet! Both the articles I read and my vet said that they seem to be impacted by this in higher numbers than other breeds.
      • Turns out vets have higher than average suicide rates. I never thought about how hard it must be to euthanize our furbabies as a regular part of their jobs. Give them some extra love the next time you see them!

      • Keeping Stephen calm during storms. Like a lot of dogs, he paces and pants and only calms down if I go in the bedroom and sit on the bed while he hides underneath. We bought him a ThunderShirt -- I can't tell yet if it works, but he seems to be less frantic with it on. 

        We also recently had a tornado warning (one was actually spotted at the other end of the Cape) and it is not the first time we've had one since we moved here. I found this article with some great tips for preparing your pets for a tornado. I need to refresh his go bag and get him used to following me into the basement.

      Extra Credit:

      • "I can't believe it's not clutter: maximalism hits our homes." True story: I showed up to college with two cars filled with stuff and covered every surface of my half of the room (even the pull-down shade) with art posters. This is my time, people!

      • The loss of two irreplaceable Jonathans: Jonathan Gold. I bet Tony and he are comparing notes somewhere, somewhen. Jonathan Skow. I keep thinking about the fact that he asked to be taken off life support after being paralyzed in a boogie boarding accident in Hawaii.

      • "Style Profile: Pru Leith." "‘I have never understood why the whole world goes into grey, black and brown in cold and miserable winter, just when we need that lift.’" I agree! (She's still my least favorite person on the new Great British Baking Show. I miss Mary!)

      • "Harvard is Vaulting Workers Into the Middle Class With High Pay. Can Anyone Else Follow Its Lead?" I worked in Harvard Yard during the student protest and Living Wage campaign, two buildings away from Mass Hall. It's interesting to see the positive effects of the changes made as a result of that effort. 

      • "Inhuman Resources." Workplaces can be so toxic. Having worked in HR for a long time, I can totally see how this whole thing played out the way it did, with every person involved believing they did the right thing. Brutal!

      Thank you so very much for reading -- especially if you made it through all three parts! I'm working on a few of my bad habits and as part of that effort I'm setting a regular writing schedule for myself. Publishing dates for November will be: November 15 (with extra holiday-ing information and my gifting special) and November 22 (my annual "The Mr. Contemplates the World" post.) 

      NOW, GO VOTE!

       

    • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 19

      Thanks so much for coming back for part two! Writing has kept me busy while I wait for Election Day to get here. After the polls close, how do you plan to spend those excruciating evening hours waiting for the results? I'm thinking of a non-stop movie marathon -- no news, no Twitter, no Facebook. But lots and lots of Diane Keaton. Or you could play Election Night Bingo.

      Also if you are late to the party, you can read the first part here.

      Reading:

      • Elizabeth George's The Punishment She Deserves. I'm having a rough go at reading books lately. I'm less than halfway into my favorite author's latest work, even after seven months. Her satisfyingly massive tomes always include a complex plot, tons of characters, an incredible sense of place (I still remember many of the locations years after reading her other books), and a narrative where she toggles between storylines leaving each chapter in a cliffhanger. I've got to clear some mental space to keep moving along.

      • Pocket app. This is probably the biggest digital addition to my life in some time. It's been both a blessing and a curse. The app allows you to save all the articles you see online that you want to read in one place. I've been tagging so many that they are PILING UP! Luckily, they just added an audio option so I can listen to the articles. Life-changer!

      Creating + Collecting:

      • Jar of beach treasures. Over the years, I've picked up a ton of stuff on the beach. I usually separate everything by type into separate vessels for display. This year, I repurposed a clean-lined cylindrical vase that came with flowers my friend sent me for my surgery (Thanks, Julie!!) and am dropping everything I find in there. It's created interesting patterns and layers and I can't wait to see how it looks at the end of the year.

      Listening:

      Eating + Drinking:

      • Martha's Best Papaya from Jamaica. My favorite fruit in the whole world! When we are in Jamaica, I sprint full speed to the fruit section and take ALL the ripe papaya. Without shame! I ordered a box of strawberry papayas shipped to me from Trelawny as a reward for getting through my surgeries.

      • Rosé vodka. This was almost the death of me this summer. 

      • Protein balls. I'm a big snacker. If you want something that is good for you and keeps you from devouring a bag of dark russet Cape Cod Potato Chips, make these and keep them in your frig. Ingredients: 6 medjool dates (slice in two), 4 T almond butter, 2 T protein powder (I use Sacha Incha plant-based protein powder), 1T cacao powder, 1 T maca powder, a handful of macadamia nuts, and 1 tsp local honey. Pulse everything in a food processor until it looks crumbly, but not dry. Then form the mixture into balls. Use something non-toxic to store them in (glass is great! and I place waxed paper in between layers).

      • Crunchy salt + vinegar garbanzo bean snacks. If you like salt and vinegar potato chips, you'll love these. They are super easy to make, but make sure you give yourself a few hours for the soaking (they say 40 minutes but I do at least an hour to get them really vinegar-y) and baking (I do 10 minutes at a time until they are nice and crunchy, but not burnt.) Store them in a glass jar on the counter for easy healthy snacking.

      • Pasta al limone. The Super Mr. is the real chef in our house but I made this all by myself! I'm sure there is a way to cut back on the butter and cheese in the recipe -- feel free to experiment. And you could totally add lobster for a fancier dish.

      • Chocolate hummus. I'm ashamed to tell you how many tubs of this I've eaten. I recommend using honey wheat pretzel sticks as your delivery device.

      • Sautéing pasta before boiling it. Sounds weird, right? I saw Pati do it on Pati's Mexican Table. It adds a toasted taste to your pasta, which I love. I add a little avocado oil to a large skillet, get it nice and hot, add the uncooked pasta, and then remove it when it's changed colors (careful not to burn it.) And then you can boil it as you normally would.

      • Hand-picked cranberries from the dunes. SO, here's the thing: no one will tell you where the cranberries are. You have to find them yourself. Which we finally did this year! The Super Mr. made cranberry citrus muffins, apple pear cranberry tart, and cranberry sauce with the harvest we picked.

      Learning:

      • Sas Patherick's self-doubt archetype quiz. Who doesn't love a good quiz about themselves? I'm a Diplomat. With boundary issues. Go figure. "Diplomats are often highly empathic. You probably have a finely tuned ear for nuance, emotional and energetic frequencies, and the ability to sense what is underneath words and actions. It's likely you can feel the mood of a room as soon as you enter." Nailed it! And this recommendation: "Set intentions before going into any room CONTAINING HUMANS."

      • Bird Medicine. "What we see around us is often a mirror of what is happening within us." This year I've been surrounded by birds. Granted, I live where there are a lot of them but I've had them land near me in weird locations and not move away. I even SAVED a bird this summer. And I've found a lot of bird feathers on my walks. Just this week I watched a turkey fly straight down route 6, landing like Orville in The Rescuers and a murder of crows (who doesn't try to use that phrase as often as possible? Like "rococo.") chase down a hawk. I'm feeling the bird vibes for sure!

        Bonus: In the spring we took the moms to the Audubon Sanctuary to a birdbanding demonstration. I took lots of video which you can watch here

      • Jamaica trip. We took our seventh trip to Jamaica in July. This time with our awesome, just-turned-18-soon-off-to-college niece. It was a trip we have talked about for years! We were so excited to share our favorite island with her, hoping we could teach her what it means to be a guest in someone else's country by showing her some of the country beyond the resorts. On our trip to the South Coast, we had interesting conversations with our local guides -- about where they lived, what their lives are like, and their thoughts on everything from Jamaican patties to Trump. I also had forgotten how Jamaicans speak to me rather than to my husband -- with the (correct) assumption that I was in charge. Surprising, but empowering.

      • Mille Bornes card game. The Super Mr. and I both played this when we were kids but we had completely forgotten the rules. During the recent Nor'easter, we played a few hands and had a lot of fun!

      Extra Credit:

      • "Solange: Runaway Bay." As a Cooler Younger Sister myself, I have always liked Solange better than Beyoncé. She writes this from Jamaica (and also as if from MY brain): "And so, as I land in Kingston, like many times before, I feel out the vibrations of the land in which I am soon to ground with. It’s a familiar feeling. One I have grown to love deeply and want to feel again, and again." Bonus: "Solange, the Polymathic Cultural Force."

      • "Before and After Route 91." I've read that people tend to pay more attention to the horrors of an individual's trauma rather than that of a large group of people. Perhaps this account of a woman shot in the face in the Las Vegas mass shooting and her ongoing suffering will get some attention.

      Again, I'm so grateful you've returned to read more. The third part will be published next Tuesday, just in time for you to have something to read while you wait in line to VOTE! Or while you painfully wait for those results to come in!

       

    • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 18

      You may want to refresh your coffee and settle in. This one's jam-packed. So over-the-top extra, in fact, that I've split it into three parts. It's been awhile since my last post and I have been busy doing, thinking, consuming, and forming all sorts of strong opinions. 

      Since my last post, I had a kick-ass summer here on the Cape (you can view some of the highlights here) and am now failing miserably at what is usually a pretty awesome fall in Provincetown. I'm pulling tarot cards, lighting candles, hiding under fuzzy blankets, and snuggling with the boo -- anything to get me settled into this season.

       

      Thinking About:

      • Midterm elections. For a few months, I wasn't sleeping. Every time I woke up, I would feel encased in agitation. I would fling my shoulders back so I could open my chest to breathe -- the horror of the world smacking me in the face as I tried to calm the panic. And then I would spend a good hour ruminating about the people I see standing behind him and laughing WITH him while he degrades, humiliates, and incites and encourages violence. WHO are they and WHY are they cheering??

        And then I voted early. We have paper ballots here and I marked each selection with a heavy and giant "X." I really wanted to write special comments but I did not want to invalidate my one shot to tip the balance and stop the bleeding. Please, let this be the beginning of the pendulum shift!
      • Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. Losing these two in that way -- what a double gut punch. 

        Like Cher and Madonna, he's simply "Tony" in our house, as I'm sure he is in yours. We've probably seen every episode he's ever made of every show he's ever done. Except the latest ones -- we're doling those out slowly, knowing they are the last ones ever. He gave us one of our favorite words -- "squeasel" -- and we use it liberally. We knew all his tells when he started to get drunk on his show, like he was a close friend. I had the strongest martini of my life at Bemelman's Bar at the Carlyle because of him. When he and Eric Ripert came to Boston, we immediately bought tickets and laughed our way through the whole show. The top three places my heart wants to visit are because of him: Sardinia, Uruguay, and Brittany, France. We also added quite a few places to the Never, Ever Go There list. He made me feel slightly ashamed of our proclivity for all-inclusive resorts. And he was at one time a local -- One of Us -- having started his career here in Provincetown. So smart, so articulate, so real. Fucking sucks.

        My wedding shoes were Kate Spade, custom-dyed in her signature green color. I gave my niece the special edition Kate Spade barbie doll when she was a kid (I really wanted it for myself, but you knew that.) Before I started wearing yoga pants and tshirts as my daily uniform, I had a closet full of neutrals to which I added a pop of color and adorned the whole look with overstated accessories. It was totally and completely cribbed from Kate's personal style. I'll never wear a red scarf again. 

      Thankful For:

      • People who make me laugh. The other night I was watching Get a Room with Carson and Thom and laughing my ass off. The Super Mr. said he was glad there was something to make me laugh again. It wasn't until then that I realized how little I have been laughing lately. Also, see R. Eric Thomas' hilarious articles below in Extra Credit.

      Watching:

      • TV Series:
        -Dancing Queen. I LOVE Alyssa Edwards! 

        -Succession. The whole time I was like, HE'S JARED!!!! I, too, noticed "Roman's Quirky Sits."

        -Salt Fat Acid Heat. After watching this, I: 1) would like to be friends with Samin, 2) put extra salt into my pasta water, 3) listened to "Day Drinking at Netflix" with her, 4) hogged all the crunchiness of the Persian rice The Super Mr. made, and 5) noted all her recommendations in this article.

        -The Haunting of Hill House. I no longer enjoy scary movies or scary anything, but this series was so captivating. I could not stop watching. I haven't been able to get it out of my head. Also, I found this article scarier than the entire thing: "All the Hidden Ghosts You Missed."

        -The Parker Posey Show, I mean, Lost in Space. I seriously don't know how Parker Posey does it. She's over the top even when she's restrained. Engrossing and worthy of a rainy day binge!

        -Killing Eve. I savored this show, making sure I watched it when there were no other distractions. The soundtrack is STELLAR. And the COSTUMES! This article has inspired me to try to use the word "rococo" as much as I can from now on.

        -I also enjoyed Sharp Objects and Sweetbitter. I will admit I had to read the recaps after every episode of SO to know what happened (those flashbacks were so confusing!). And the cinematography of Sweetbitter is very rococo.

      • Films:
        -RX: Early Detection: A Cancer Journey with Sandra Lee. I watched this with tears streaming down my face and my hand clasped over my mouth. Warning: it's graphic.

        -New Wave: Dare to Be Different. The music of my youth! Fascinating documentary about WLIR, the tiny hole in a wall station on Long Island that is responsible for bringing us all that amazing music. 

        -The Greatest Showman. I watch this every time it's on. I LOVE the soundtrack and the film's message about how the things that make us different are the coolest things about us. And, of course, this was the song of the summer at Tea Dance. That scene with Michelle Williams' blue scarf flowing around her while her hair is simultaneously not moving AND blowing in the wind. HOW? HOW? HOW?

        -Hannah Gadsby's comedy special, Nanette. Nothing has ever glued me to my seat like this. I'm not sure I was even breathing as she shared her story with us. 

        -The Rachel Divide. Oof. Where to begin? Remember the woman who was born white, but identifies as black? This is a documentary about her. She is one complex human being. And frustrating as all hell.

        -Crooked House and Ordeal by Innocence on Amazon Prime. These are Agatha Christie's favorite two novels out of the 66 she wrote. Maybe save these for a snow day this winter?

      Summering, then Hygge-ing:

      • Sunscreen. While the season has passed, I wanted to share that these sunscreens -- Unseen by Supergoop! and Sun Bum SPF 50 -- are the two go-to sunscreens I used. I also tucked two travel sunscreens into my bag -- COSRX Aloe Soothing Sunscreen and Perfect Day from Supergoop!, which has lip balm with SPF in the cap.

      • Container gardening. This summer I improved my container gardening skills. The most peaceful part of each day was watering, feeding, deadheading, and caring for my outdoor plants. This simple tool, a water gauge, helped me to not overwater them. Most of them made it through the summer and quite a few have made the transition inside for winter.

      • Hygge-ing. My best hygge-ing these days is spent wearing these super comfy joggers all day, every day.

      Extra Credit:

      Thanks for sticking around and reading! I know some of you skim these and look for the interesting tidbits and others read it word for word. Either way, every one of my hyperlinks should lead you to the discovery of something wonderful or to a resource that I hope you will find helpful. Stay tuned for No. 19 (or really part two), publishing on FRIDAY!