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  • 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.