journal

2019
  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 30

    Welcome to the month where everything has turned pre-brown (that sort of faded olive, purplish haze) -- the month also known as the season of Never Wearing the Right Clothes! I'm currently writing from the other side of a rare coastal storm that refused to leave the Cape, aptly named Melissa. Today, I am wearing shorts while painfully emptying the last of my summer deck flowerpots. (It feels like murder. I hate it.) But I have finally surrendered to the idea that this season requires its own dedicated wardrobe -- light layers and proper waterproofing -- and an accepting attitude.

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    In the last issue, I shared my big announcement that I am launching a bi-weekly newsletter on Tuesday, November 5, one year from the presidential election of 2020. So much gratitude to everyone who signed up early! Your encouragement is nourishing my commitment to this change. If you want to join us cool kids, sign up here!

    You might be wondering why I'm making the change.

    Just as I am launching my newsletter, Griefbacon is ending hers. And she wrote something that resonated with me: "it can't be leg day forever." I've been writing different iterations of my blog for almost 10 years and every change has expanded my world (and my skillset.)

    My purpose in switching to a newsletter format is to be more real in my writing. While my posts to date have been fairly personal, I have edited out some of the good stuff out of fear. My litmus test for whether to share something has been to consider what harms the Mitch McConnells of the world could inflict on me if they had this information -- and whether or not Harvard would sue me. 

    The newsletter will be a safe place where we can huddle together for a few minutes, catch our breath, and then head out into the world that is running at cheetah speed. There will be new components (like the more personal stuff and detailed stories about what it is like to live at the very edge of America in Provincetown.) Photos of my adorable dog, Stephen, will likely appear. Rest assured, all those recommendations you guys like will still be in every issue. So if this sounds like it's something for you, join us!

    You might be wondering what happens to my blog.

    Notes from a Clamshell Path will be published once a month through December of this year and then I'll be switching to a seasonal posting (four times a year) while I shift my attention to the newsletter. You can expect the same format and contents, which will mostly be drawn from the best of the newsletter.

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    Brain:

    • Reading list. Hollow Kingdom. Such a clever (and hilarious and heart-breaking) story about what happens to the domesticated animals when all the humans succumb to a zombie-ish apocalypse. The narrator is a salty-mouthed domesticated crow and his best friend is a hound dog named Dennis. // Ghost Wall. The first two pages cast an OMINOUS shadow on the rest of the book. I found myself waiting for the other shoe to drop the entire time. It was long-listed for the Women's Prize for Fiction this year. And it's on this great list of short novels you can read in one sitting. // Veronica Roth's short story, Ark. A really engaging tale that imagines the evacuation of Earth before an asteroid hits and the scientific lengths people go to to save 100 species and their biological data. (You know her. She wrote the Divergent series.)

      National Poetry Foundation's Poem of the Day email. It's a nice break from the diseased world stuff that usually streams through my inbox. This poem, "Flood: Years of Solitude", by Dionisio D. Martinez, especially caught my attention: "To the one who sets a second place at the table anyway ... " //  The Read Caribbean list on Goodreads. On my list of things I'd like to know more about (the List of the Month, see below) is Caribbean history. This resource is quite comprehensive.

    • Viewing list. Watership Down. "My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today." Waaahhhh!!! Also, I've named our yard bunny Hyzenthlay. // The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. I kept reading how amazing this series is -- "there will be nothing better this year!" -- and, despite the severe ICK factor that puppets give me, I got completely caught up in its magical world. Don't worry if you have to rewind a bunch, the story is complex (but rewarding). // Black Spot. I stumbled across this series from Belgium in a category on Netflix called "Slow Burn." It reminds me a lot of Fortitude, which you know I loved (although, still waiting for Season 3 to show up on Amazon Prime!) There are weird, mysterious deaths in the forest, lots of dark, horrifying moments, and the sense of place is really the main character.

      Blown Away. I spent most of the time worrying they were going to drop something or get burned. Plus, three things: 1) glassblowing is rather physical, 2) gosh, they are talented, and 3) every time they said "glory hole," I giggled. // Birds of North America. "There is something by definition uncool about birding. Which is to say the essence of cool is not really caring. And the fact you would walk about with your binoculars in the middle of the city, that's like telling the world I am passionately concerned about this. I love this thing. And that's not cool."  The series of <10-minute videos is hosted by passionate birder, Jason Ward, who grew up in homeless shelters in the South Bronx. // "How We Make Pencils" by Faber-Castell. A short video that is super mesmerizing! (Also, why aren't these people wearing facemasks to protect their lungs? Hello, OSHA!)

      American Factory. The Obamas continue to challenge us with this documentary from their production company. A Chinese company re-opens a factory in America and the cultural differences are both predictable and surprising. "While Americans expect eight-hour days with vacations and benefits, Fuyao management is used to Chinese employees who work 12-hour shifts, with one day off a month, often sharing dorm-like apartments. The bosses think Americans lazy for talking on the job. Meanwhile, the Americans grow dispirited by the relentless factory regimen." // Wanda Sykes: Not Normal. The Vicks VapoRub bit had me howling!! //The Bookshop on Amazon Prime. I watched this after a very emotional day, and I needed something to soothe my parasympathetic system. It's a quiet kind of story that you want to go a million different ways than it actually does, but then closes in a very satisfying way.

    • Listening list. The Thing About Pam podcast. Keith Morrison from Dateline narrates this (and, really, why are there other podcast narrators? He should do ALL the podcasts.) Let's just say Pam is something else! // The "Lady Ghislaine" episode of the Broken: Jeffrey Epstein podcast. She is the most perplexing person in this whole horrible story. // The Mary Oliver episode of the Short Cuts podcast. Add this to your counter-programming list of Good Things in the World That Have Nothing to Do with That Man, Mr. Trump. Actually, add all of the Short Cuts episodes! // The Ukraine episode of the Trump, Inc. podcast. If you have been wondering why the Ukraine is such a place of interest for all these corrupt douchebags, this podcast has some stunning answers. // "Diagnosing Trump (with George Conway)" on Stay Tuned with Preet is a fascinating listen. Preet calls George out for getting him fired. Fun to listen to him dance around that one. But in the end, I wanted to clobber George over the head when he went on and on about wishing someone, anyone!, on the Republican side would step up and say Trump is unfit. Hmmm ... who might be able to do that? .... maybe ... THE PERSON WHO LIVES IN YOUR OWN HOUSE! 

      "The Great Pumpkin Waltz" from It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Perfect for grey fall days. // Wednesday morning's Squid Jigger's Blend show on WOMR, our local radio station. You can listen online. You can also watch the wonderful documentary, Outermost Radio, on Vimeo On Demand. // "Fag" by Todrick Hall. My niece and I saw Todrick's fantastic show here in Ptown this summer. // The Chromatics new album, Closer to Grey. So gloomy in the best kind of way and the closest to ASMR that actual music gets.

      "L to the OG" from Succession. Can we just take a moment to watch "KenWA" sing this one more time? I've been quietly singing "L to the OG, Dude be the OG, A, N he playing" every day since the episode aired. Also, this article ranking the sweaters on the show. And THAT FINALE!! 

    Body: 

    • Eating and drinking list. Frozen garlic and ginger cubes. I bought these at Trader Joe's but I think you can get them anywhere. They both taste super fresh and are really easy to use. // Kamut Khorasan wheat. A nutritional grain from Egypt, kamut requires a great deal of soaking and simmering to soften. I like an al dente approach to my pastas and grains so it's perfect for me. I mix in a scoop of ricotta, a sprinkle of asiago, and some Garlic Gold toasted garlic nuggets for a crunchier version of mac and cheese. // PigOut pigless bacon chips. Friends, you MUST try these "chips" made from MUSHROOMS that taste just like bacon ... bits. (I mean nothing tastes like bacon except bacon.) // Baharat spice. My favorite wings in town are made with a dry rub using Baharat spice -- it has kind of a savory cinnamon-y flavor. We made some at home this week. And by "we," you know who I mean.

    • 52 Hiking Challenge update. My wings have been clipped on this project by the alarming number of EEE cases on the Cape! So we're sticking with coastal and dune hikes until the first frost (also don't stop wearing repellent now! The mosquitoes around in late fall are more likely to be carrying diseases!). My favorite hike so far has been to The Shack on Lighthouse Beach in Chatham.

    • Weighted blanket. Everything you've heard about weighted blankets is true! Add this silk eye mask, which wraps around my head and blocks out light better than the fifty-eleven other versions I've tried. I'm sleeping solidly-ish through the night.

    • Redken dry shampoo paste. Although I LOVE when the humidity leaves the Cape, my hair hates it. This stuff: 1) gives you super volume (don't use too much or you'll end up with a rats nest), 2) avoids TSA liquid restrictions so you can pop it in your carryon when you travel, and 3) it hides the greasies for another day or two.


    The Intangible:

    • Release | Receive. I've been participating in this guided journey through fall, and its massive shift in energy, with a small group of people from around the world, Scotland to Montana. Each Monday, we get a very thoughtful email from our leader with the goal of encouraging us to celebrate what we've achieved this year, let go of what we’re ready to leave behind, take actions to live more seasonally, sustainably, and mindfully, and to prepare for the darkest point of the year as we move towards winter.  

    • We now have less than 90 days left in the DECADE! Whoa, right? While it's not an expansive amount of time, it is just the right amount of time to cross off one important thing on your to do list.

      Mine? I am in the middle of the insane process of changing my name legally (which I never did when we got married 15 years ago. Don't ask.) I am eternally grateful to Hitch Switch, which provided all the pre-populated paperwork, instructions, a roadmap, and customized support for my many questions. What are you going to tackle?


    The Practical:

    • One Tab Google Chrome extension. I am one of those people who has a million tabs open all at once. This magical clean-up tool shrinks every open tab into a SINGLE tab. 

    • Cleaning up and/or backing up my digital debris. It feels like we have so little control over our online data and this month I took some steps to get some of it back. I followed "How to Set Your Google Data to Self Auto-Destruct" to configure all my Google stuff -- including all the search data in Google and in Google Maps -- to auto-delete after three months. I also set up TweetDelete to auto delete any tweet older than three months. The first pass eliminated over 3,000 tweets. 

      I also downloaded my Tumblr data, which was the original home for this blog. It took a couple days to compile, but I am happy that I won't be losing those early years should Tumblr disappear.

    • My Oh-My-God-I'm-Almost-50-List. I realized this summer that there were 20 months left before I turn 50. For years, I've been planning and replanning a big trip to celebrate that milestone, but I realized I wanted to be more purposeful with the last year of my first 50 years on the planet. There is nothing grand or YOLO-y about the list and it mostly includes things I've already been intending to do, ranging from learning to make jam to going to bird nerd camp at Hog Island in Maine. (I'll be writing about my progress in the newsletter.) The yet to be written 50 in My 50's List requires deeper thought and I'm looking forward to thinking about what I'd like to accomplish in the next decade.

    Cape Cod:

    • "At the Edge of a Warming World." Even though this will make your heart hurt if you have any love at all for the Cape, you must read/watch/listen to this multi-media report on climate change here at the edge of America. "Be prepared. Cape Cod will never be the same again."

      "This is not a travelogue of the troubling future, or a preview of dire warnings that somehow go unheeded. It is about what we can already see happening, right now, on America’s playground. It is about what we will lose if we don’t look, harder than ever, at what global inaction will cost." 

    • The Seed Library at the Truro Public Library and the Crop Swap refrigerator at the Provincetown Public Library. There is something so Outer Cape about having places set aside in the public library to exchange seeds for planting or to get free produce that your neighbors have grown and donated. Check them both out if you are local!

    • Jules Besch Stationers. Housed in a former schoolhouse (and still uninsulated), this GEM of a store has more unique cards and paper goods than some of my favorite stores back in Boston. It's off of Rte 6, next to the Whitman Tavern, near Jobi Pottery. They are open weekends for another month or so.

    • Local book reader alert!: I've started donating some of my books at the Free Library at Cold Storage beach in Truro. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll get an advance warning when I drop off a new one.


    Across the Bridge/The World:

    • This month's interesting bits from around the country. Seattle. I never heard of Larch Season. Imagine mountainsides covered in bright yellow pine-like trees! Gorgeous. // Eastern Oregon. The mystery of mutilated cows -- someone has been stealing cows and doing weird things to them. For DECADES. Freaky. // Maine. The schools in Presque Isle close down for three weeks so the students can help pick potatoes. // Northern New England. The Great Squirrel Apocalypse of 2018. There was roadkill everywhere apparently. Like THOUSANDS of them. // Alaska. Did you follow along and/or vote during Fat Bear Week? // Washington, DC. I was not surprised to see one of the students that used to work in my first office at Harvard on the list of Most Powerful Women in Washington. Congratulations, Niki!

    • Elizabeth Warren. I've been attending her Night School sessions to learn more about her policies and how to help get the word out. Have you seen her plan for expanding Social Security? She'll increase everyone's payment at least $200 more a month. And she will be giving CREDIT FOR CAREGIVING by valuing all the unpaid/out of the workforce efforts that go into raising children and caring for aging parents. I actually cried when I read this. She sees women like no other candidate has ever before (and I do mean no other candidate.) // "Anatomy of a Warren Rally" episode of The Daily. We've all heard about her epic selfie lines that go on for HOURS and this podcast really captures who is in that line and why. Restorative! // One of her strategists, Camonghe Felix, was nominated for a National Book Award for her poetry collection, Build Yourself a Boat, which starts with a quote from Solange. She attracts the best of us to her! // My thoughts about Wall Street rejecting her and then threatening to back Trump: Sorry, boys, she dumped you FIRST! Same goes for you, Zuckerberg. (Honestly, what is with that guy?)

    • Impeachment. Two things: 1) I am visualizing our world without those monsters in it and am looking forward to the day when they won't be sitting on our collective shoulders (like that girl ghost on Pacey in Shutter -- at 1:18.) Think of all the good we can do without them dominating our thoughts, conversations, airtime, nightmares ... it will be such a relief to surgically cut them out of our lives. 2) I've realized this whole process can be soundtracked using ELO songs, starting with Calling America ("Calling America, can't get a message through...") and ending when he leaves office with All Over the World ("Everybody all around the world, gotta tell you what I just heard, there's gonna be a party all over the world ...")


    List of the Month: Curiosity List of T-Shaped Interests
    I keep a running list of things I'd like to know more about or learn how to do, beyond superficial Googling. This is the current version. (This may be a total nerd thing, but I encourage you to make your own list. You'll be surprised by how many learning opportunities start to show up in your life after you've named your interests.)

    • BirdsYou know this about me.
    • How to tie knots. It's an interest I've developed living near boats. 
    • Caribbean history. Beyond those gleaming resort gates is a totally different world with complex histories and influences. I know so little about it and feel compelled to learn more.  
    • How to knit. I love the idea of making my own sweater (and a matching one for Stephen.)
    • Mushrooms. I don't like to eat mushrooms, but I find them fascinating. They grow all over the woods and dunes out here and I want to learn how to identify them. Check this out: Fantastic Fungi
    • How to preserve foods/make jam. I feel like this is a skill that I should have.
    • Color theory. I've always been drawn to bright colors and there is a whole field of study out there about the science and art of color.
    • History and culture of indigenous people on Cape Cod. We live on Wampanoag, Nauset, and Massachusetts land. Curious about whose land you are living on? Check out this map.
    • Container gardening. I've grown peppers in containers and am looking to expand my range.
    • Coastal ecology. I'm mostly interested in the sensitive and disappearing salt marshes here on the Cape. 
    • Native plants vs. permaculture. I have been choosing native plants to support our local wildlife. Permaculture, which is essentially growing your own food, flies somewhat in the face of that. Marrying the two concepts is something I'm trying to learn more about.
    • How to track animals. Or really how to know if a wild animal that can hurt you is nearby. Seems helpful.

    (When I finished writing this list, a new book on color theory popped up in my IG feed and a notice of an animal tracking class was in my email. Write your list, it has power!)

    Extra Credit:

    • "A Second Chance." I read every single profile of all 47 of the dogs rescued from Michael Vick's fighting ring. If you are a dog person, grab a box of tissues!

    • "Does Jamaica Still Rate Sean Paul?" "The universe is held together by gravity, electromagnetism, and a worldwide adoration for the music of Sean Paul ... His story gives insight into what exactly defines dancehall and shows the cracks in Jamaica’s class divide and social inequality." 

    • "An Open Letter to the Female Hat-Wearing Dog from 'Go Dog, Go.'" “I am a moderately well-drawn ketchup-colored poodle and my storyline is the closest thing this book has to a plot. I am the only thing pulling the narrative along. I’m well-groomed, enjoy skiing, and have enough disposable income to amass a comfortable hat wardrobe.”

    • "The Unsolved Case of the Most Mysterious Song on the Internet." I CANNOT STOP PLAYING THIS SONG! So the story is that it was recorded off the radio in the eary 80s in Germany. No one knows who sang it and the whole internet is on the case! It is exactly the kind of song I loved when I was listening to Millersville University's college radio station, WIXQ, waiting to press record. Studio 360 also did a segment on it -- start listening at 40:35ish.

    • "McDreamy, McSteamy, and McConnell." Congressional. Fan. Fiction. WARNING: You cannot UN-KNOW this after you read it!:

      "Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) are nestled in one another’s arms, sweat glistening on their muscled chests. They kiss softly and tenderly. It’s the middle of the night in a hotel somewhere on the campaign trail, and they are in love.
      "So, if you were an animal, which would you be?” asks Ted.
      “Let me think,” says Marco. “A manatee."

      I AM SCREAMING!


    Action Plan for the Month Ahead:

    Alright folks, there are only TWO more monthly Notes from a Clamshell Path after this! I hope I'll see you all on November 5 for my newsletter launch!

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 29

    Look at that! We zipped through another epic summer here in Provincetown! There were definitely shimmer-y magical times (not one, but two saved Instastories worth.) And there were some seriously overcrowded, my shirt is sticking to me, why are these shark alerts going off constantly?, no I don't want to take a photo for you, use the fucking bike path, ohmygod MOVE!, I HATE EVERYONE kind of days. And, hens, that is the gospel truth about living in this summer resort town. It is awesome AND it sucks.

    I read this perfect piece in Griefbacon about "bad summer." If you feel even the tiniest tweak that you didn't have the best! summer! ever!, I suggest you read it. Sometimes we have to give ourselves permission to enjoy an indoor AC day when we don't feel like YOLO-ing. And now, this Summer Cruise Director/Year-round Den Mother is reclaiming her time. Bring your own sunscreen and band-aids, people. I'm off duty.

    *****
    I know I shared that I'd be back with a new edition right after Labor Day. I reached the last week of August exhausted, extremely twitchy, and not at all in the headspace to produce something of quality for you. I gave myself a couple more weeks to cocoon. The day after our last seasonal guest departed, I spent an entire day on the couch napping, reading, and watching those Grantchester episodes. That day turned into a week. I highly suggest you all schedule yourselves a Grantchester Day stat.

    *****
    ALSO, you may have noticed that things look a bit different around here. I've been spiffing things up inside and out. There's a zippy new logo!! And a NEW PROJECT. 

    While I was folding all our visitors' beach towels, I spent a lot of time thinking about how I was going to make it through the brutal daily destruction of everything decent people value, our collective existential crisis, and specifically, this next election cycle. And I realized many of you might be wondering just how you are going to do that, too, right? Well, I have something to say about that!

    I'll be kicking off a BI-WEEKLY NEWSLETTER in November -- one year before the presidential election. Maybe we can all make it to the other side of this -- becoming better people (or at least not losing ground on that), having a few laughs, feeding our minds with quality stuff, and leaving a trail of bio-degradable glitter in our wake. I didn't spend 20 years of my life covered in emotional vomit at Harvard for no good reason. Seems this is the perfect time to dig into that treasure trove of human realness to share some life wisdom with all of you. 

    Sign up here now so you don't miss the first issue! I hope you'll join us! 

    *****
    Brain:

    • Reading list. The Seas. "We live here because we hate the rest of you." I dog-eared so many pages of this book with passages like this. The story will take you on a ride where you will repeatedly ask, "Wait. What?," followed by a wide-eyed "Oh, wow." (Also this essay/list of books that take place "On, In, or Near the Sea.") // The Last Book Party. Such a delight to read a book where every page takes place in your own backyard. // "20 Small Press Books You Might Have Missed." My favorite section of most bookstores is the small press section where you can find something really special. 

      The end of Pacific Standard and Topic Magazine (although topic.com still has amazing content.) These two were top notch -- PS for its social justice journalism and Topic for its multi-view approach to singular topics, like music or mothers. // The Sentences newsletter. Darcie Wilder sends out her newsletter listing only sentences like this one: "It’s the end of the summer, which can only mean one thing: it’s fall." // "The Crane Wife."  This essay was endorsed everywhere when it was published and for good reason. It's extraordinary.

    • Viewing list. Years and Years. This show has caused much stress in our household. "Watching the HBO drama ... can feel like watching the worst-case scenarios about the world coming to pass, one after the other ... Years and Years makes the choice not to just place us in the midst of a dystopia, but to walk us there step by agonizing step from where we are today." Prepare yourself! // Unbelievable. What a brutal and totally captivating portrayal of what it is like to be the victim of both rape and a system that punishes you because it doesn't believe you. It's based on this article. // The Good Fight. Oh, CBS All Access, I am so close to signing up for your services! Such a brilliant move to run the first season of this fantastic spin-off from one of my favorite shows, The Good Wife, on network TV. // All my favorite shows from my whole life returned all at the same time! Veronica Mars, 90210, The Hills, Four Weddings and a Funeral and second seasons of The OA (still watching), Dark (also still watching), Ozark (GAH!), Succession (I feel like this season is Very Ivanka and I am LIVING for Roman's snark and Tom's bruised ego), and Derry Girls (remember to turn on closed captioning so you don't miss a single quip: “Macaulay Culkin isn’t a Protestant, ma!”).

      The Weekly 's "Inauguration, Inc." episode. Christ, these people. // The Family. Whether it is greatly exaggerated or not, two important things I learned: 1) why Pence may be the way he is and 2) why Trump gets a pass with the evangelicals (“God always uses imperfect vessels to do his perfect work.")

      Rachel. This creepy-ass short film is based on a TRUE story with real footage to prove it. I suggest you watch it during the day. // The Wandering Earth. The premise is that Earth is in trouble (thanks to climate change and capitalism) so they MOVE IT. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time! And apparently, it's the second highest grossing film in China, 

    • Listening list. The Mueller Report. In July, I went to see Amy Siskind and, in a room filled with activists, only two people had read the entire Mueller Report. Shamefully, I downloaded the free version on Audible and have been listening to a bit every week since then. (Note: as an alternative, you can check out this version by the guy who wrote "Black Hawk Down." He was told, "Tell a story recounting Mueller's report that's so gripping it will hold your attention."// "The Uninhabitable Earth" episode of Why is This Happening?  podcast. This is partially to blame for my increasing eco-anxiety. // The Laughter Permitted podcast episode with Glennon Doyle and Abby Wambach, who are now my favorite lesbians. Exhibit A: this podcast and Exhibit B: Glennon's photos of Abby watching "The Soccer." // The Kamala Harris episode of The Daily. They should just replace those awful debates with interviews like this. // Talkin' Birds podcast. Where my people call in and talk about the birds in their backyards. // The Homecomers podcast. This is the most interesting podcast I've heard about rural America.

      Catherine Russell. We've adopted a pretty mellow soundtrack to our daily lives and often have Ms. Russell playing in the background. (Her vocals on "No Two Things" by Blue Six, one of my favorite "ClubMed songs," are so good! // Dorothy Ashby. Jazz harp! If we're not playing Catherine Russell, we're playing Dorothy Ashby. My favorite is her version of Moonlight in Vermont (because Baby Boom. Duh.) Although, The Super Mr. says it reminds him of Bugs Bunny when I sing along. // Flow State newsletter. Every morning they send out two hours of music that is conducive to working. I've discovered so many interesting artists -- like the compiled video game soundtracks, Taylor Deupree, and Octo Octa. // The Untz Untz Untz playlist. Filled with tracks at 120 bpms, which is the same point at which endorphins are released when your heartbeat reaches that level. // TOKiMONSTA's new remix of Ólafur Arnald's "they sink." I love everything she creates! // Tyco's Burning Man Sunrise Set. I have mixed feelings about Burning Man (the idea of it and the visuals are intriguing, but the abuse and exploitation issues are awful!). This set is nice, though.


    Body:

    • Eating and drinking list. Confession: I completely abandoned my new nutritional eating habits for a ridiculous amount of VACATION FOOD that lurks at every corner in this town. I'm back on the program as of last week and I'm doing Sorta Sober September. // The nibbles at Nor'East Beer Garden. My favorite snacks in town live here. I highly recommend the following: toast and olives (pan fried olives with pistachios, lemon zest, and truffle honey toast), chicken wings (with baharat dry rub, date rose-blossom honey, sesame seeds, and green onion), and lemon frites with roasted garlic and herb aioli.  

      Beach plum jelly. A few months ago Stephen and I headed out to mark locations of the beach plums (you have to do it when they are flowering, because after that they are super hard to locate.) Mid-August I went back to my spots, saw that the fruit wasn't quite ripe for picking, and then returned a week or so later. ALMOST ALL OF THE BEACH PLUMS WERE PICKED! Total beach plum failure this year. However, I stocked up on beach plum jam at the various farm stands on my travels up and down the Cape and have been savoring that. // Thomcord grapes. Have you tried these? They are only around for a few months (July - Sept) and are a cross between seedless green grapes and Concord grapes. No seeds and the sweetest taste! Mark your calendars for next year if you missed them.
       
    • September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. "Ovarian cancer is known as the deadliest gynecologic cancer in the US, given that it is not usually detected or diagnosed until it has reached advanced stages." Many of you know that my mother is an ovarian cancer survivor and her diagnosis is what lead to my journey towards managing my own high-risk with preventative surgeries. I'm so grateful that I had an opportunity to change my odds and am currently at a lower risk than the general population, less than 5%.

      Do you know the symptoms?? They can be confused for so many different things that women often experience normally. They key is to see your doctor if you have these symptoms daily for more than a few weeks:

      • Pain or swelling in the abdomen
      • Feeling full quickly while eating
      • Gastrointestinal problems, such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation
      • Abdominal or pelvic pain
      • Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often
      • Shortness of breath (This is the symptom that sent my mother to the doctor; don't ignore it!)


    The Intangible:

    • I’ve been keeping ongoing notes of our annual cyclical life here on the Cape — how things affect me personally, how I am feeling week to week, what is happening in nature that signals a shift, and even just seasonal stuff I want to experience. (I'll be sharing this in more detail in the newsletter. It's super useful. Maybe you'll want to start one, too.)

    • White Sage Tarot. I started using a new tarot deck that speaks to me more than the one I had been using. It's illustrated with animals and other symbolism (like sand dollars) that is more accessible for me. I've been pulling a card a day, which gives me a few minutes each morning to focus on something specific in my life.

    • I'm working on my nemesis game. Roxane Gay has ten of them and she cracks me up every time she posts about one on Twitter. She seems genuinely propelled by the competition to do more, be better, and win.

      I have two -- one that is purely territorial and totally in my imagination that we have been fighting over the title of Pool Hag for ten years. The other? SHE seems just a bit too comfortable with herself and thinks she's too cool for school. I think she's atrocious. And, like Roxane, I'll never tell you who she is.

    • I'm also working on being a better ally. Maybe you've noticed that people are pretty good at keeping their whatever-phobic comments and microaggressions in check when they are in a diverse group of people, but the minute only white people are in the room, they let it fly. I'm speaking up more when this happens and so far it's been a failed endeavor. I often get poo-pooed and accused of being too sensitive and told "it's only a joke." So I'm working on how to be more effective when I call people out.

    The Practical:

    • Fall focus. Over the summer, while I was waiting in the long lines of traffic, I thought dreamily of what I wanted out of Townie Summer (September into October here). And I came up with a weekly formula around which I've been organizing my time: a book, a hike, a fiber art project, a volunteer project, a daily writing ritual, and a political action a week. OK, kinda clunky, but so far it's helping me prioritize my life:

      + I started my 52 Hike Challenge this month. The idea is that you will get outside once a week for a year and hike around in nature. There's even a tracking spreadsheet, swag you can order, and a MEDAL at the end. I, of course, bought myself a hiker costume -- new hiking shoes, a decent and very cute windbreaker, some cushy hiking socks, and my very own pair of noisy pants (which is what I call The Super Mr.'s extremely loud nylon pants.)  Most people start in January but I started now during prime hiking season rather than when its cold and there is snow on the ground. Best to set yourself up for success!

      + I also started my first fiber art project, a nautical embroidery thingy from hook, line, & tinker. It's a "first-time beginner friendly, level 1" project. With my terrible hand-eye coordination and trouble following printed instructions, I'm having a slow go of it.  

      HOWEVER, this is printed on the stitch instruction sheet: "One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn't exist. Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist." -- Stephen Hawking. 

    • Storm prep. For the third time since we moved here, I was sheltered in our basement this summer waiting for a tornado warning to expire. This time, though, it actually touched down in three different places on the Cape. And Dorian brought us winds that we usually only experience in the winter when everything outside is already secured. I've updated our emergency plans (for both shelter in place and evacuation.) Some good information here:
      + "How to Prep Your Kitchen Before Dorian Arrives." The tip on storing eggs, and really anything stored in a cardboard/paper container (coffee creamer!), has been added to my list. 
      + "3 Tips for an Emergency Evacuation with Your Dog." I updated Stephen's Go Bag and printed out the checklist to use.
      + We purchased a WaterBob that we can use to store water in the bathtub, as well as these highly portable collapsible water carriers. Who wants to stand in line to buy bottled water when you can use the water you already have in your home?

    • Clean your coffeemaker with dental tabs. It works really well. Just rinse everything twice to get rid of any minty residue.

    • "Should you shave your dog in the summertime?". Every summer, someone worriedly asks me if I am going to shave Stephen. The answer is no. And this is why!

    • Toppling Trees, Summer of the Cactus, and The Tragic Death of a Plant. One morning I woke up, looked outside and saw that one of our trees had toppled over. It did not die, though, and is somehow thriving horizontally. It's provided an eye-level tree-top view just outside the window next to my birdwatching couch. One evening I even saw a pair of Carolina wrens, a hummingbird, juvenile robins and orioles with their adult parents, some sort of yellow warbler, a yellow finch, a house finch as well as the local catbird clan.

      It was also the Summer of the Cactus. After I replanted my two prickly pears, FIVE new paddles grew. And a cactus I've had for almost 20 years BLOOMED with gorgeous red flowers. I think I finally got the watering ratio correct (much more than you think, and especially as the paddles were growing) and I hauled all of them inside any time it rained to make sure I had control of their hydration.

      When The Super Mr. and I first moved in together, we received a plant as a housewarming gift. Until this summer, it thrived and gave birth to four super healthy offspring. Somehow, and I am not sure how, it died in July. I tried everything to bring it back to life because, you know, the SYMBOLISM and my crazy superstitious beliefs. I made peace with its ending and feel good knowing there are four plants in the house from that Mother Plant still making our air healthier.

    Cape Cod:

    • Hydrangea University. I have these hydrangeas that we inherited with the house and they drive me BANANAS! Turns out the Heritage Museum in Sandwich has a whole hydrangea learning series, including a program called Hydrangea University, which I attended wearing my Hydrangea Lady costume.

    • Central figures in Outer Cape life. DJ Maryalice. Such a great interview with the woman who manages to get pretty much everyone we've ever known on the dance floor at Tea Dance. // "Tony Pasquale and Terra Luna." There is no place like Terra Luna, one of our favorite restaurants. "Regulars speak of the warmth and unique 'Truro-ness' of his restaurant. One says she feels lucky to be there every time she visits; another says the food is so good she secretly doesn’t want to tell anyone." // Joel Meyerowitz' new book of photos of Provincetown in the 1980s. He spent "35 summers in Provincetown living, as he said, 'inside this glowing ball of clear, prismatic, marine light.'"

    • The word of the summer was "predation." The Cape beaches were closed over 90 times this summer after shark sightings. Most of us who live out here have the Sharktivity app downloaded on our phones so we can get some sort of information on where those Great Whites are. Unfortunately, there was extremely graphic proof that they were off Long Point on the INSIDE of our harbor last month.

      There have been lots of articles written about the sharks this summer. This one gives you an overview of the different views -- and here's an update from a local who was involved in trying to save the life of Arthur Medici last year. She moved to Maine.

      And a reminder: Peak shark season is August, SEPTEMBER, and OCTOBER!

    • Our new Outer Cape newspaper.  While many towns are losing local newspapers, ours has a new one, the Provincetown Independent. "We are building a homegrown news organization for Outer Cape Cod: the people who live and work in Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet, and Eastham, and those who love this place from afar." We subscribed!

    Across the Bridge/The World:

    • This month's interesting bits from around the country. Fort Lauderdale. " ... fighting [sea level rise in South Florida] looks like more saltwater-tolerant plants and home adaptations like stilts, mounds, floating structures and platforms on higher ground." I wish our town was as invested in exploring adaptations to our rising seas. // Oregon. Giant hogweed found there is so toxic it causes enormous blisters! // Louisville. I love this story about adults learning to swim. // Texas. These zebra mussels are so pretty, BUT "the mussels can spread downstream on their own but only move upstream by clinging to a boat. Once they reach a body of water, there’s NO GETTING RID OF THEM." // Northern Michigan. Rock hunting here sounds incredible! "Michigan is home to the most varieties of stones in the entire world. Glaciers covered almost 200 million acres when they formed and acted like a giant conveyor belt bringing rocks south to what is now Michigan." 

    • Elizabeth Warren's Night School. I just signed up for her "8-week free online training program on the nuts and bolts of organizing." This is part of my political-action-a-week goal for the fall.


    List of the Month: A Small Sampling of Things I Heard or Saw in Provincetown This Summer

    • “Because you’re not smart. You’re PRETTY."  One very drunk man to his male friend.
    • A man walking through my neighborhood carrying an elaborate, fully lit candelabra.
    • “I want to stay just in this spot for the rest of my life!!”
    • "I don't understand why anyone would want to live in this town!!"
    • A super fussy guy bringing a ton of colored drink glasses out into the street from a local shop and examining them in the sun to make sure they were the same color. I mean.
    • "What is 'quahog'?"  "It's a clam." "What do you do with it?" A tourist who was reading a MENU outside a restaurant.
    • A young boy having a fit for 20 minutes holding his entire family hostage and then later emerging from the same store with a huge bag and a smile to match. Gurl is in the right town!
    • A tiny bright pink (like NEON) poodle.
    • Girl One: "I told my boss I was coming to Ptown and he said, 'you know it's like SUPER GAY, right?'" Girl Two: "I didn't know that until I got on the ferry and was like only one of five girls." Welcome to my life, ladies.
    • "Provincetown asks us to live more fully because of this light, sea, and sky." A fellow book festival attendee. Lovely, right?
    • "This beer is flat. This beer is flat. Just so you know, it's flat. It's flat. The beer is flat." An annoying complainer at a bar.
    • "Don't you have a glue gun??!!??? That's Gay 101!!" (OK, fine, it was me. I said that.)
    • "Ding! Ding! Fucking ding!" (Again, me. At least once a day. Bikes.)
    • "She is night-night on a Ptown pillow." This one will remain anonymous.
    • "I guess we didn't get the memo." A tourist walking through all of us dressed in white on our way to the White Party.
    • "Are you into sharing?" Some girl starting a conversation with me in which her objective was to get me to relinquish my glitter-beaked cockatoo headpiece so she could wear it for a photo. Me: "No, bitch."


    Extra Credit:


    Action Plan for the Month Ahead:

    Thanks for your patience with this latest post -- I hope it was worth the wait! Also, a heads up: I'll continue to share Notes from a Clamshell Path monthly through the end of the year and then I'll be posting them seasonally (that's four a year). I'm shifting my efforts to the newsletter so if you want more of this, sign up! See you back here in mid-October!

     

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 28

    June is very confusing. Summer! No, still cold and rainy. Summer! Cold and rainy. Summer! It makes planning a just-in-time exercise. Check the weather. Look outside. Check the doppler app. Check the tides. Check the weather again. Look one more time. And LEAP!

    It's also the last few weeks before visitor season at Chez Juniper Disco when I resume my responsibilities as Julie McCoy, Clipboard Doyenne. I've been busy cleaning the house, gathering baskets of beach towels and sunscreen, and buying all the functional, yet stylish paper plates I can find. With that in mind, just a heads up that I'll be taking a break from this space for the rest of the summer. There will be no August edition of Notes, but I'll be sure to have something extra juicy for you in September! 

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

    Brain:

    • Reading list. The Outermost House. It is a shameful and severe washashore crime that I have not read this yet! I'm savoring it. OK, FINE! I'm distracted and having a hard time focusing. I set aside a week for vacation later in July and plan to spend most of the time reading. // The Goldfinch. Being a huge fan of  Donna Tartt's The Secret History, I started this book when it was first published, but just couldn't focus. (It's a theme.) Since the movie is coming out in September, I decided to make this my summer-long read. Bit by bit, I will attempt to finish by Labor Day.

      Summer Reading Lists. In case you need some inspiration for your own summer reading, here are a few curated lists that have piqued my interest:

      The What's Top Three Reads for the Summer. | Read This Summer (Mailchimp's summer reading program  -- it is so fascinating, it should be a syllabus!) | "The 23 Best Health and Science Books to Read This Summer". | "The Bitter Southerner Summer Reading Roundup 2019". | "19 Best Audiobooks of 2019 (So Far.)"

    • Viewing list. When They See Us. Absolutely required viewing! Make the space, take breaths when you need to, and follow up with Oprah's interview with the director, the cast, and the Exonerated Five. And then talk about it with your friends and family when you can breathe again! // Chernobyl. Did you find yourself feeling like the radiation was all around you when you watched this?? Such effective storytelling! I kept thinking about that documentary that came out ages ago about the Chernobyl babies that were born with horrible tumors and defects, including a child whose brain was in a sac OUTSIDE his skull. (Meanwhile they are decommissioning a nuclear power plant right across the bay from us. That's slightly terrifying.)

      Pose. This show!!! It's campy, heartbreaking, educational (I never heard about Hart Island where they buried many people who died of AIDS), and hilarious. And this season's dance track is unearthing some songs I once loved! // A Private War. I didn't know the full story of Marie Colvin, the journalist who died while covering the war in Syria. The toll that works takes on war correspondents is brutal. (Note: in case you think Diane Lane is playing Marie Colvin the entire time you are watching this, she's not. It's Rosamund Pike.)

      Life in the Doghouse on Netflix. This film showed at the Provincetown Film Festival a couple years ago and Danny and Ron were there. Such angels for saving so many dogs! // Always Be My Maybe. I was laughing and crying the whole way through this. The Keanu scenes are gold. 

      The Meet the Joneses Instagram account. Only about 200 people follow this brilliant account. There are plastic people, every sort of sign that says "Jones," and fantastic locations. Just trust me on this one. // 120 Minutes archives. OG alternative music aficionados, rejoice! // This fabulous bird on Twitter. You know she gay.

    • Listening list. Dune Shack Life recordings. Over an hour of recordings of the sounds out in the dunes. // This 8-HOUR 80s Long Drive playlist. You guys! This is SO GOOD! The Style Council! Paul Young! Book of Love! Kate Bush! Talk Talk! // The first season of the Threshold podcast. The American Bison is our national mammal, but at one point only 23 animals were free-roaming. Now the herds are getting so big at Yellowstone that they euthanize hundreds (600-900) of them every year. This podcast covers the controversy. // The third annual edition of the Roséwave playlist. Cool, but not too cool. It's a great mix for hanging out on the deck. // City pop -- "jazzy-summery music that came out of Japan in the 1970s" -- like Swing Slow by Miharu Koshi and Harry Hosono, Jr. It's definitely Japanese, very jazzy, and totally its own thing. 

      The Hills' theme song, Unwritten, remixed. (Sidebar: Well, Brody is a total ass, huh?) // Miley Cyrus as Ashley O's "On a Roll." Oh, honey! // Tanika Charles' latest, The Gumption. I often just ask Alexa to play her stuff.  (And I've been told I do so in a bitchy tone. She knows I hate her.)


    Body:

    • Eating and drinking list. The Fraperol at Pepe's. A FROZEN aperol spritz! I've already consumed way too many of these this summer. // These two fantastic salads The Super Mr. makes: a delicious antipasto salad (he uses fresh mozzarella balls, rather than provolone) and the BEST panzanella (he skips the cucumbers, uses balsamic vinegar rather than champagne vinegar, and uses crusty rosemary bread. Also, if you have left overs, remove the bread and store it separately, otherwise it soaks up the juice and is soggy the next day.) // The kale chickpea salad at Farland on the Beach at Herring Cove. // Coolhaus Ice Cream. All the good stuff (like organic cane sugar) and interesting flavors (like Milkshake and Fries.) And it's women-owned!

    • Kiehl's Butterstick Lip Treatment, untinted, SPF 30. Not inexpensive, but it's very effective. Plus if you go to the store you can get a bunch of free samples.

    • The menopause soliloquy in Fleabag. Men, and young women under 40, do not skip this section! A very shameful admission here: early in my career, I had a number of female bosses -- all around 50 years of age -- who I thought were super difficult. Mood swings, completely forgetting what they told me to do yesterday, yelling at me for stuff they praised me for the day before. I was even certain that one of them had borderline personality disorder. It never, ever occurred to young and completely ignorant me that this pattern I kept experiencing was totally and completely NORMAL for women in the menopausal years. Also, just to be clear, women aren't crazy. Menopause is a lot to deal with and I wish I had showed these women more understanding.


    The Intangible:

    • From Many Moons: "The Hermit knows that searching takes space. The Hermit relies on the light of her own lantern to take step after step in the dark. She is supported because she stays on her own path."

      Lately I've been feeling the truth of this as summer gets crowded and people forget I'm not on their vacation. My summer, my plans. My lantern, my path.

    • Afoot and Lighthearted: A Journal for Mindful Walking. One of the exercises in Many Moons this month has been to think about what seeds we can plant now that will come to fruition in the fall and winter. I've started using the ideas in this book in anticipation of a 52 Hike Challenge I will begin in the fall. I'm pretty good at paying attention to what is around me, but the daily walk suggestions in this book are helping me to go deeper. The goals are: more time in nature, a stronger body to do so, and a more focused experience.

    The Practical:

    • Brandless. I'm impressed with this values-based company and recently ordered a wide array of items. Stephen really likes the duck jerky treats. I also replaced some of our wooden spoons and found their salt and vinegar potato chips rival my favorite Utz brand. Not everything is great (some of the snacks are a bit bland), but at $3 an item (yes, on almost everything!), it's totally worth an investigation. Other items I liked: avocado basil moisturizing hand soap, dark chocolate covered quinoa bites, plant-based pet wipes, and jalapeño flavored corn and quinoa puffs (they remind me of these.)

    • thredUp Goody Boxes. I'm always looking for new ways to be a better and more aware consumer. I ordered the Red, White, and Blue goody box. It's fun to see what other people might pick for you after you answer a bunch of questions, but if I were to do it again, I'd select the box where I decide what goes in it. It was $10 (which was applied to my eventual purchase.) You have seven days to return what you don't want and are only charged for what you keep. I ended up keeping two items that were perfect for my resorting collection. 

    • Switching from the Planoly app to the Preview app. For a long time, I used the Planoly app to figure out which photos to post on Instagram (it gives you a preview of your grid view so you can manage the aesthetic of the overall look.) When I was in Jamaica, I hit my monthly limit for the free app and upgraded with the full intention of returning back to the free one. NOPE. Once you upgrade, you are trapped. So I canceled it and found one I like even more, the Preview app. And it's free.

    • "The horrors of mass-produced bee houses."  I bought one of these in the spring, thinking it was a good thing to do for the environment. And then I read this. You can do more damage to the bees using one of those cute houses. The article also tells you what to do if you've already put one up.

    • Foxtails are dangerous for dogs! I had no idea. And I see them everywhere. I even found some on Stephen's fur. Those foxtail awns are designed to burrow, even in your dog's skin or, if they've inhaled one, in their noses or stomachs. They can be deadly so educate yourself on this!

    • The If/Then strategy from the Harvard Business Review. It's one of the recommended methods for getting yourself to do things you don't want to do (guilty!). Mostly I apply it this way: "If I am going to Tea Dance, then I am not going to drink the rum punch." or "If I am going to drink a Fraperol, then I am only going to have one."


    Cape Cod:

    • Our yard wildlife. Currently I am writing on our deck and in my line of sight is a robin at the bird jelly feeder, a catbird waiting in line for his turn, a chipmunk just ran down the steps to the lower deck, two bumble bees are feeding on my catmint and my blue wishbone flowers. A large black ant danced across the railing and a chickadee is pecking away at the side of the roof (which explains what that noise has been all week!). The only manmade sound I hear is the largest white noise machine in town (second only to the ocean) also known as the ventilation system at the health center next door.

      I'm developing a relationship with the catbirds in our yard. When their grape jelly feeder is empty they come find me and tell me about it or they sit on top and trill loudly. It's now the first thing I do in the morning, even before I get my coffee. They sing beautiful songs. I saw one pick up a colorful leaf, puff up, and do a little dance with one wing dragging on the ground for another catbird. And I thought I was the intended audience for that song.

      There are four baby squirrels who are using our roof, trees, and deck as a jungle gym. They are assholes. I've been squirting them with a spray bottle and they pretty much just stare at me. One even charged at me sending me fleeing into the house and leaving the people at the health center next door with one hell of a show. The Super Mr. has promised me a Super Soaker.

    • The Cape Cod Fun Show podcast. I hesitated before putting this on here. It's annoying to listen to and they are less informed about the things here on the Outer Cape. With that said, I have gotten good leads, insider tips, and ideas for up Cape adventures from them. I was hoping the "Why Do Cape Codders Love Pickup Trucks?" episode would be insightful because, seriously what the hell, Cape Cod? It basically just validated my thoughts on who is inside those behemoths who are either tailgating or zooming past me in my modest and practical Honda CRV while I travel just at or slightly above the speed limit.

    • Hurricane season prep. Just one really bad storm and we are toast out here. We've decided that if there is even an inkling of a hurricane we'll pack up, grab the moms and the dogs and everything we can pack up in the car, and head west to my sister's place. There is only one way out and that road will be one of the first things to go underwater. Make sure you have a plan! 

      Also related, here's a breakdown of the National Climate Assessment by region. The Northeast: "Our region is looking at 'the largest temperature increase in the contiguous United States' ... We’re going to be slammed with the highest rates of sea-level rise in the whole damn country, and we’re going to have the highest rate of ocean warming."

    • Where to buy plants. (You will notice that the parking lot and the level of difficulty associated with a left turn features almost as prominently in my appraisals as the plants themselves.)

      Friends' Marketplace, Orleans. I buy the majority of my flowers here. They have a huge selection at decent prices. (Just hold on to your cart so it doesn't roll down the invisible incline while picking up massive amounts of speed and into a parked car. Just saying.)

      Garden Renovations Nursery, Provincetown. I usually buy my "showpiece" plants here. It's a great place to find something visually stunning and a little unusual (you may pay a little bit more for it.) Also, it's so pleasant here. I've had chipmunks run around my feet, butterflies landing on all the flowers and those snuggly bumble bees buzzing about. Super nice people there, too! 

      Bayberry Gardens, Truro. I buy my peppers here (and my fall plants.) They have a good selection of vegetables, herbs, and tomato plants. (The "parking lot" has no rhyme or reason to it, but try to park perpendicular to the store by the trees and do not try to make a left turn out of it in the summer. Go down to the Pamet exit (grab a sandwich at Jams), drive under Route 6 and get back on the ramp going the other direction.

      Hillside Farmstand, Truro. Tomatoes! They grow them on their farm and the plants are way stronger and much further along than the ones I've seen elsewhere. We've gotten a good yield out of them, too. (Parking is an A+ and you can manage a left turn in summer if you are patient.)

      Cape Abilities Farm, Dennis. It's one of the first places to open in the spring and the pansies I bought then are still going strong. You will also support a fantastic organization that provides employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. (The parking lot stresses me out. I always end up in a space where I have to make a gazillion point turn to get back out.)

      Tobey Farm, Dennis. This is the Cape's oldest farm and dates to 1681. I bought some great shade plants here this year. (Parking is easy -- bumpy, but easy. Left turn warning but, really, take a right and keep going down 6A. It's one of my absolute favorite things to do on the Cape.)

      The Farm, Orleans. You could get lost in all the greenhouses and plants available here. (The entrance is down a bumpy dirt road. Drive slowly. Plenty of parking when you get there. Left turn manageable.)

    • Beach sticker list for every Cape town. It may surprise those of you who don't live here to know that you need a beach sticker to go to most town beaches from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Most require you to be a resident or staying someplace within the town, which means that, during the summer months, I can't go to most of the beaches. I have a Cape Cod National Seashore sticker that allows me entry to all of those beaches, but I won't be able to set foot on some of my favorites until September. (You can go to some before 10 or after 4.)  Anyway, here's a great list of all the beach sticker rules for anyone who is planning to visit in the summer.


    Across the Bridge/The World:


    List of the Month: Things I Loved in June

    • my new Barack Obama deck pillow (I have coffee with him every morning on the deck)
    • the rainbow frosé Canteen had for Pride 
    • the satisfaction of a job well (enough) done after all the deck container pots were filled, the closets turned over for the summer, and the winter stuff put away for a few glorious months
    • the first tea dance with the squad and managing to keep it together enough (Happy First Anniversary to our shower curtain rod!)
    • driving through the newly opened Provincelands Road and seeing all the blooming scotch broom everywhere
    • The Super Mr.'s key lime pie
    • the lupines at Fort Hill
    • our first day at the pool and perfect weather
    • discovering The Fraperol, a frozen Aperol Spritz, at Pepe's
    • watching the bees and butterflies feed on my flowers
    • the way our mini-yard looks after I've edged the grass and trimmed the ivy around the brick sidewalks 
    • eating a tasty and fresh Jamaican beef patty at Days Market (open again!)
    • how happy Stephen is with the AC blasting in his face on the car ride home from our adventures
    • the foggy so-Cape entry to the harbor after a day spent in Boston
    • spending the weekend with one of my favorite people, catching up, talking about important cultural issues, dishing on Drag Race and Pose and the ending of Game of Thrones and all the people we both know. Luckily, he'll be back in a few weeks to do some more!
    • sipping on the first batch of sun tea of the season
    • Stephen's first summer excursion of the season on the West End flats at low tide
    • the one firefly I saw blinking in our yard
    • the dappled sun on the deck in the late afternoon during disco hour (when the sun hits my disco ball and flashes light all over the deck)
    • devouring two lobsters and all the fixin's at the Portuguese Festival annual lobster bake
    • watching the Portuguese Festival parade from the second floor deck of Baie with the squad
    • drinking my favorite drink in all of Ptown (REALLY!), the Painkiller at Nor'east Beer Garden, and devouring their most delicious Mediterranean snacks
    • seeing a GREEN BEE on my deck
    • watching all festooned boats get blessed during the 72nd (!) annual Blessing of the Fleet


    Extra Credit:

     
    Action Plan for the Month(s) Ahead:

    • If you are local or plan to be on the Cape this summer, check out one of these #DitchMitch2020 fundraising events. Or go to Indivisible Kentucky and make a donation. 

    • Save the monarch butterflies -- especially if you live in the CITY -- by planting some milkweed. I planted some in a large container and it seems to be thriving.

    • Mark your calendar for: Scream (the TV show) season 3 finally airing on three consecutive nights, July 8-10 on VH1 | Robert Mueller's televised testimony before Congress on July 17 | Veronica Mars' return on July 26 | Bachelor in Paradise on July 29 | and Succession's second season on August 11.

    • And, if nothing else this summer, consider this:

      “If all you did was just looked for things to appreciate, you would live a joyously spectacular life.” ― Esther Abraham Hicks

    I hope you all have a kick-ass summer!  See you back here in September (some time after  Labor Day!)

  • 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!