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notes from a clamshell path
  • 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 on September 3 (post-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!

     

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 22

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

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

    Thinking About:

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

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

    • Intentions for 2019. I recently read this quote:

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

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

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

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

    Thankful For:

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

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


    Holiday-ing:

    Watching:

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

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

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

    Creating:

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


    Reading:

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

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

    Listening:

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

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

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

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

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


    Eating + Drinking:

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

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

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

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

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

    Learning:

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


    Hygge-ing:

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


    Loving:


    Eliminating/Limiting:

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

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

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


    Expanding:

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


    Planning + Organizing:

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

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

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


    Fur Mama-ing: 

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

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

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

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

    Health-ing:

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

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

    Extra Credit:



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

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

     

     

     

  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 21

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

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

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

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


    Holiday-ing:

    Thinking About:

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

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

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

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

    Thankful For:

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

    Watching:

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

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

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

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

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

    Creating:

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

    Reading:

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

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

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

    Listening:

    Eating + Drinking:

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

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

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

      Learning:

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

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

      Hygge-ing:

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

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

      Loving:

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

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

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

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

      Eliminating:

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

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

      Expanding:

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

      Health-ing:

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

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

      Planning + Organizing:

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

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

      Fur Mama-ing:

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

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

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

      Extra Credit: 

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

       

       

    • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 19

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

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

      Reading:

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

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

      Creating + Collecting:

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

      Listening:

      Eating + Drinking:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Learning:

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

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

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

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

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

      Extra Credit:

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

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

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

       

    • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 18

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

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

       

      Thinking About:

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

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

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

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

      Thankful For:

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

      Watching:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Summering, then Hygge-ing:

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

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

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

      Extra Credit:

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

       

    • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 17

      And just like that, it's MAY! I told you I might be absent for awhile but I really didn't expect it to be this long. I've had stuff to say and cool things to share but I've been conflicted about how much detail to put out there in the world about my surgeries. So I've said nothing. Between the privacy issues on the interwebs and the continued threat against healthcare -- and women's health in particular -- it just hasn't felt safe. I know that my story would be useful to other women and I HATE that the current climate makes me fearful to say too much. I feel censored and I am angry about it. 

      Instead, I will share someone else's inspiring story.

      Thinking About:

      • The beginning of the year as incubation time. I'm not sure why it's taken me this long to figure out that you don't have to start all the things right away on January 1. It makes so much more sense to use the dark, cold wintery days and nights of January to do some deep thinking and then start it all in February. Or even March. OK, or April. Actually, May.

      • Patience. Have you ever asked the Universe, "what exactly would you like me to be learning right now with all of this?" The last few years have produced a number of challenges -- none of them with quick fixes. Real healing takes time. My body may have fused the pieces together and can function close to normal, but there are things that will take longer. I have new sensitivities (hello, bandaids!) and my natural lion-in-the-grass nature is turned up super high (I got HIVES driving to my surgeon's office I was so worried that I had an infection. I didn't. It was a spitting suture. Look that up.) I'm trying very hard to be patient as I figure out what normal looks like for me now.

      Thankful For:

      • The Super Mister. I came across this quote recently: “Life is sad. Here is someone.” -Lorrie Moore. The Mr. sure is my Someone! And I want to tell you all how wonderful he has been through this past year. First, he has been there for every appointment. He supported and encouraged me every step of the way. When he talks about my situation to other people, he uses the word "WE." Not once has this been my problem alone to manage. He picked up all the slack around the house in addition to feeding me, emptying my so yucky drains, washing my hair, cleaning my troublesome incision, and putting on my socks like a toddler. He even learned to put my hair up in a BUN! He so deserves his promotion to SUPER MR.! And really, he's been that all along.

      • Ways to make surgery not feel so scary. Let's just be clear, I WAS TERRIFIED. So I did what I usually do when something scares me: plan my outfit and accompanying theme music. I wore this kickass RBG Squad sweatshirt to the hospital for my surgery in January. And in the weeks before, I played RuPaul over and over again. And, last week, when they wheeled me down the ramp to our car after my latest surgery, I whispered, "Miss Vanjie. Miss Vanjie. Miss Vaaannnnnnnnjie." The bravest of the brave -- drag queens and Ruth Bader Ginsberg -- helped me keep it together!

      Watching:

      • Queer Eye. EPISODE FOUR!!! I was sobbing!  I love their energy -- not a mean girl in the group. Karamo is my favorite. Remember he was on Real World: Philadelphia?

      • The Eurovision 2018 instagam stories. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this competition! And watching all the rehearsals has gotten me pumped for the main event. They say this song is the frontrunner. Stephen and I have been dancing around the house singing, "I'm not your toy. Not your toooo-oooyyyy."

      • Drag Race(s). True confession: I was #TeamShangela (Halleloo!) even though Trixie spends her summers here in Provincetown. We had a chance to watch the finale at a viewing party in town where the crowd was overwhelmingly #TeamTrixie. Season 10 is dazzling me and I'm finding I need to watch each episode at least twice. Right now, I'm routing for Miz Cracker. Also, in related news, BenDeLaCreme will be in Ptown all summer.

      • Nan Goldin joined Instagram. She is responsible for my favorite Provincetown photoAnd she's taking on the Sacklers for their role in the opioid crisis.

      • Dance in the Real World video series from The NY Times. My favorite? The JB-style skating video from Chicago. 

      Creating:

      • Oversized sequin embellishments. Having all this time on my hands has made me anxious to make stuff. I'm trying very hard to keep new purchases from coming into the house so I'm looking at what I can do with what I have. Lately I've been obsessed with giant paillettes and how I can use those to jazz up a clutch, bracelet, or tote.

      Reading:

      • Swimming Lessons. Officially, the first book I finished in 2018! The plot: a woman who went missing left handwritten notes in the books belonging to her writer husband. The mystery unravels steadily and very satisfyingly. It was a good one to start the year.

      • The read-a-thon calendar on Little Book Owl. Find one you can add to your calendar. And read like your life depends on it

      Listening:

      • West Cork series on Audible. Lately, like most of America, I've been totally into true crime podcasts. Years ago, the Mr. and I spent some time in West Cork (Kinsale!) and I made him drive all the way to Mizen Head. It was beautiful! This story, though, is pretty freaking creepy. The series is FREE until May 9. Chop! Chop!

      • Like I said, SO MANY true crime podcasts.
        -I've also been obsessing over Missing Maura MurrayI remember when she went missing! One second she was in a car accident and then the next she was GONE. Tip: there are a ton of episodes so if you want most of the info, just listen to the ones from the Oxygen series.

        -Crawlspace. Especially the series on the missing Boston men who were eventually discovered in the water near where we used to live. I would half joke with The Super Mr. that I was going to make him wear a flotation device when he went out at night. But it's possible these cases might be CONNECTED.

        -Atlanta Monster. Remember the Atlanta child killings?? Well the guy they said did it, was never charged for any of the murders of the kids, only the adults. What??

        -Season 4 of Someone Knows Something. Someone sent a bomb to this guy in Canada with a weird-ass note. Every episode makes me think, "OK, THIS guy killed him!" 

        -Up and Vanished. They made an arrest in this case last year, but if you don't know anything about the puzzling disappearance of teacher Tara Grinstead, give this a listen.

      • Above and Beyond's Common Ground. I often put this on with my noise-blocking earphones for napping -- it's a little over an hour in it's entirety and has been perfect background noise for sleeping. Eluvium's Prelude for Time Feelers, and Lindstrom's space disco, Tensionsare also great for background noise -- with totally different vibes.

      • This eerie Omens playlist on Spotify. It starts with "Walking Through the Upside Down" from the Stranger Things soundtrack.

      Eating + Drinking:

      • Protein, vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber. My diet has basically been eggs, chicken and turkey, almond butter, Trader Joe's Hi-Protein Veggie Burgers, Greek yogurt (I especially like the Chobani "hint of" flavors), Kashi wheat cereal, and this juice smoothie (watch out for the sugar content though!). The body needs protein to heal!

      • Fish Taco Summer Tour. I LOVE a good fish taco but I am particular about what I like -- crispy fish and the perfect ratio of fixings. I've already started testing my criteria at different places and have started a short ranking system. Follow along on the gram this summer!

      • Organic Madagascar dark chocolate (85% cacao) and dried mandarins from Trader Joe's. I don't have a huge sweet tooth (I'm more of a salty crunchy snacker) but sometimes you just need a little boost. This combo is so yummy.

      Learning:

      • NOT LEARNING. I read this and thought, YES! This is exactly what I need. I am one of those people who never finishes things. I LOVE to start a new project -- all that newness and research and synapses firing. Inevitably, I lose interest and move on to the next thing. This idea of just going deep with what I have makes so much sense. 

      Hygge-ing:

      • Golden Warm Liquid Meditation. I've combined this with a section of my pre-surgery meditation to create a few minutes of calm and peace in my day. The pre-surgery guide instructs me to visualize my "higher self"  -- which strangely looks exactly like Cher in her "Believe" video  -- pouring warm healing light over me. My visualization of this is VERY sparkly. And I always feel better afterwards. Try it!

      Loving:

      • John Waters' Christmas card last year. Just wanted to make sure you all saw it!

      • My solar-powered rainbow maker. I attached mine to our front living room window. As soon as the sun hits it, there are rainbows everywhere. And if I'm really lucky, the sun also hits one of my disco balls and it's rainbow disco hour!

      • Chief Flamingo Officer! Baha Mar is looking for someone to take care of their flamingos. Why didn't someone tell me this was a career possibility?

      • My Trefle Otter Box cover for my phone. So summer-y!

      • Geronimo and the NYC Ballet. Dazzling! (Small brag here: I boogied with Jihan at a space-themed party in Palm Springs. She was dressed as a fancy space-y alien and I was dressed as one of my favorite things in the universe, the sun.) For the record, because you all know how much I HATE finding balloons on the beach, she uses biodegradable balloons and disposes of them responsibly.

      • Shiny metallic accessories. This bag. This purse. These slides

      Eliminating:

      • Stagnant juju. After being mostly house-bound for months -- partially because of healing and partially because of those six million freakin' nor'easters in a row, I needed to change up the energy in our house. Tired of sage and palo santoing, I found a fir stick to clear out the bad energy. Unfortunately, I bought the last one. Here's something similar. 

      • Anything complicated. I'm keeping it simple. Rest, good food, hydration, fuzzy snuggles, meditation, and time with my support network. The rest can go for now. Also, I finally found a daily tracker app called Done to help me make sure I'm drinking enough water and doing the habit-type stuff I want to make part of my basic routine. And it's color-coded!

      Expanding:

      • Many Moons 2018 (Jan-June) Workbook. This was SOLD OUT all over the place but I managed to track down a copy at The Alchemist's Kitchen. The next version is available for pre-order and it's the last one she'll produce in this format. 

      • Embracing my new health prerogative. One of the upsides of my health status (which is best described as neither sick nor healthy) is that I seem to have been given the option of traveling in the fast lane for medical intervention. Even though surgery isn't quite in the rearview mirror, I'm turning my attention to the next phase, which will give me access to tests not normally given at my age and to medical specialists in Boston. 

      Planning + Organizing:

      • SUNSHINE. We currently have THREE warm weather trips booked!! It was a tough choice to forgo our usual March trip because of my surgery (we could have gone but I wouldn't have been able to go in the water ... what IS the point then?). We'll be making up for it, though, with two trips to Negril, Jamaica -- the most awesomest place on earth that isn't Ptown -- and one to the Caribbean side of the DR, Bayahibe.

      • THE FUTURE. Even though it will take a while for me to feel like I'm no longer in this weird limbo period, I feel like I can start planning ahead again! Everything was on hold for SO long but now I am planning day trips here and there, those warm weather trips, outfits and costumes for the Ptown season, my next career move, our garden this year. SO MANY THINGS! 

      Fur Mama-ing:

      • Canine Cancer Genome Project. Did you know that 50% of dogs who die after age 10, have cancer? If you love your pup, consider donating a few dollars to the scientific research they are doing to map canine cancers.

      • The spycam at the local doggie daycare. We've had to take Stephen to the Provincetown Pet Resort during my activity restriction periods. I got to watch what he was doing on their webcam app, though. Sometimes I watched a bit TOO much!

      Extra Credit:

      I've collected so many interesting things over the last few months that I have a few posts in the hopper to share with you in the coming weeks. See you back here soon!

      Note: You may have noticed the "Resisting" section of this newsletter is missing. I've chosen to block out the political nastiness and horrible news in the world in order to create the best healing environment for myself. 

       

       

       

    • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 16

      I know this is one of the busiest times of the year for many of you, so save this one for the plane or car ride, or if you need a break from the family cheer. And, because it is the holidays, I'm starting off with a special this-edition-only topic ...

      Gifting:

      • Years ago, we got smart about gifting in our family after we spent one too many holidays opening gifts for HOURS. Now, we pick names, set a dollar limit, and send out wishlists. I usually put practical items on my list. If I were to do an extravagant indulgence list, here are a few things that would be on there:

        -Frederick and Mars incense and beeswax candles (OK, fine! I ordered these for myself already. But only because they were on sale.)
        -Seed + Mill Vegan Tasting Pack (I love their halva!)
        -Death Star Disco Ball (I'm pretty sure I NEED this.)
        -Towel Warmer (how wonderful would it be to have a heated towel every time you step out of the shower?)
        -Faye Orlove's Celeb Goddess Tarot Deck (I've been looking for a tarot deck that speaks to me.)
        -Frida by Ishiuchi (such an expensive book, but I love the photos of her clothes.)
        -Blue chalcanthite crystal. (I'd prefer a natural one to one grown in a lab, but they are all gorgeous!)
        -Gemini Espresso Maker (The GREEN one only at MoMA.)
        -This incense hut. (Right now I put my incense on the brick fireplace ledge. Something more secure would be helpful.)

      Thinking About:

      • Crystals, witches, and tribal magic. Lately, I've been into non-science-y solutions and remedies. It's my equal and opposite reaction to all the medical information I've consumed this past year. Guess I'm seeking balance in the force. Here are some interesting resources I came across in my search for woowoo healing: Crystal Cactus, Hauswitch, Blackbird.

      Thankful For:

      Watching:

      • Sea Oak pilot on Amazon Prime. Oh my word! I should have known that George Saunders would bring the weird and Glenn Close would make it spectacular. It was just announced that none of the Amazon pilots were picked up, even this one. So enjoy the tiny bit that we have.

      • The Pink Dragon Temple. What a magical structure!

      • The Last Jedi. I do not care one bit what anyone says, I LOVED IT! So many surprises sprinkled around all the things you want from a Star Wars movie: laser sword battles, punny wink wink nod nod dialogue, the struggle of good vs. evil, fun new worlds to explore, and Chewbacca (true story: the first time I saw The Force Awakens, I thought Chewy had died in an explosion and I worried about it so much that I barely paid attention for the entire last third of the movie. Also, I had a Chewy action figure when I was a kid. He will always be my favorite.) 

      Creating:

      • The holiday cheese board. The Mr. is the chef in our family but I have been assigned the cheese board the past few years.  And this year, the CRUDITE platter has been added to my list of responsibilities. I always overdo it and am trying really hard to keep it to a few quality items, arranged in dramatic fashion, of course.

      • New winter solstice celebration. We've never really done anything celebratory to mark the important milestone of having made it through the darkest days. This year seems like a perfect time to start. We'll light a fire in the fireplace. Keep all the artificial lights off. Light our candles. What do you guys do?

      • Glitterizing my 25 cent yard sale plastic llama.

        Reading:

        Listening:

        • Kaskade's Christmas. A good addition to the non-traditional Christmas music collection. Wish it was a little less traditional carol-y.

        • This "Winter Feels" playlist on Spotify. Not one of these songs is something I would normally listen to, but taken as a whole, it's great background music on a cold, grey day.

        • So many kickass podcasts.
          -Someone Knows Something. I binged all three seasons in a row! Unsolved mysteries at their best.
          -Slow Burn. I clearly had no idea how Watergate actually went down. This podcast has left me agape -- so cray-cray!
          -"The Sorting Hat" episode of Hidden Brain. All about personality tests. I'm an INFJ.  I am also qualified to administer the MBTI.

        Eating + Drinking:

        • "Eating Cheese Every Day May Actually Be Good for You." This is THE highlight of 2017 for me, folks.

        • Fat Balls. Admittedly, I haven't actually made these yet, but I think they will be good nourishment snacks to stock the freezer with in preparation for my surgery. 

        • Local honey. The Mr. and I both battled colds recently. I drank lots of my go to tea with honey. I found a local farm that produces honey from bees who use the natural flora out here. 

        Learning:

        • New words.
          -anomie. noun. lack of the usual social or ethical standards in an individual or group
          -bicameral. adjective. (of a legislative body) having two branches or chambers
          -canard. noun. an unfounded rumor or story

        • "Tips for Keeping Houseplants Alive This Winter." I failed at this last year and lost most of my succulents. I'm determined to nurse the replacements through this winter.

        Hygge-ing:

        • Tree incense. I've always thought incense was a little too hippy dippy, but I love how this seven tree sampler makes my house smell like a forest.

        • Candle focusing. Staring at a lot of flames these days.

        • Jólabókaflóð. I am so wishing I had learned about Iceland's Yule Book Flood in time to incorporate it into our own family celebration this year. I love the idea of exchanging books on Christmas Eve and then curling up in front of the fire to read them right away.

        Loving:

        Eliminating:

        • Tinnitus. Do you have this problem? I think I've had a slight ringing in my ears for a long time, but lately I've really noticed it. My family doesn't have the best hearing so maybe I have hearing loss. Or maybe it was the dental work I had last year. Or this lingering cold that won't go away. In any case, these are some interesting ways to handle it.

        Expanding:

        • Drybrushing. I was a failed drybrusher -- having tried it maybe six times in the past -- but the habit never stuck. I got myself a good brush and have found a place for it next to my toothbrush so I can actually remember to do it.

        • Black tourmaline. I bought one to live in front of my TV, which is the only place Donald Trump can enter my cozy abode. It absorbs that nastiness right up. These days we need all the protection we can get.

        Planning + Organizing:

        • Jamaica. Because of my surgeries, we won't be able to go to Jamaica in March like we planned. It will be the first birthday in seven years that I spend in the US. We had booked a return to our favorite resort Couples Negril. I'm sad but I know we'll go back the following year instead. AND, we are taking my niece to Jamaica for her 18th birthday/graduation present this summer. More on that after I finalize the details.

        Fur Mama-ing:

        • Kurgo reversible dog coats. Stephen has three of these. They provide a layer of warmth without being bulky, as well as a layer of protection when it's actively snowing or raining. They are really easy to put on and to clean. If you are looking for a good solid coat for your dog, check them out.

        • Musher's Secret. Stephen is not the kind of dog that tolerates shoes. The Mr. mentioned he was whimpering and favoring his paws during their morning walks so I got out a tub of Musher's Secret, which is self-descriptive. Mushers use it on their sled dog's feet to protect them and keep those little snowballs from forming. Seems to be working!

        • Holiday bandana. Stephen came home from the groomer's with a jaunty little scarf the other week and I decided he needed one for the holidays. He looked so cute. I found this terrific one on Etsy.

        Resisting:

        • Critical Reading/Listening
          "I Study Liars. I've Never Seen One Like Donald Trump." "Most humans, most of the time, believe other people. That's our default setting. Usually, we need a reason to disbelieve." SO MANY REASONS!

          More Perfect podcast. Season two's "American Pendulum" episodes about the Dred Scott case are haunting. The gerrymandering episode is also very informative.

          "This Impeachment Carol is Everything!" EVERYTHING!

        • Action.
          Use these words as much as possible: fetus, transgender, diversity, vulnerable, entitlement, science-based, and evidence-based.

        Extra Credit:

        Hope you all have a wonderful, safe, and stress-free holiday!

         

         

         

      • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 15

        We have a wreath on our door and a small undecorated tree sitting in the middle of our living room. It's not that I'm not feeling it. The thought of putting it all away again in a few weeks makes me feel so very weary. Plus, I'm determined to keep it chill this month. How about you? 

        Thinking About:

        • What I would grab in an emergency. This article, detailing what people who had to flee the fires in California took with them, got me thinking. I will admit that I have a "go bag" of practical items stored by the front door -- actually two (one for Stephen's gear). Other items I would gather: every disco ball I could carry, a small blue vase I've had since I was a child, my plants, Glitter Fox, my swimsuits, my sequined clothes collection, and a Hubley dog bookend that was my Nana's. Have you thought about what you would save? Maybe we should make a list.

        • The burden of being an empath. What a relief to finally find something that describes how I experience the world. I always thought there was something deficient in me when I found myself devastatingly overwhelmed by other people's tragedies, the never-ending interpersonal conflicts, their life-threatening health challenges -- especially when it was my JOB to carry these things. Since I left HR, moved out to a tiny town, and have limited most of my daily interaction to my husband and my dog, I have felt a gazillion times better.

        Thankful For:

        • Female medical professionals. I recently had minor surgery. When I walked myself into the operating room, I looked around and realized I had an all-female team. It was very empowering to be surrounded by their energy as I crawled onto the table. Next thing I knew it was snack time (which I was apparently VERY enthusiastic about.) I felt so supported by that team and feel lucky I had that group of women caring for me that day.

        Watching:

        • An Honorable Woman. If you have not seen this yet, clear your schedule. It's a riveting political thriller that captures you from the very first horrifying scene. I don't want to spoil any of it for you so I'll keep this vague. But, be prepared, it's painful.

        • This short film about how Heather Day creates her artwork. She schleps her art tools out into remote areas of nature. The results -- as well as the process itself -- are stunning!

        • Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. Friends, I have a confession to make: I am Christmas-movied OUT. They made too many movies. TOO MANY! (However, for the adventurous and/or foolhardy here's a companion drinking game. We're planning to turn it into a bingo game for the family when everyone is here over the holidays.)

        Creating:

        • My niece's advent grab bag. If you've been following along for awhile, you know that I put together a (not so little) advent grab bag for my niece every year. She gets to pick one of 24 wrapped gifts to open each day of December, leading up to Christmas. It's become one of my favorite things to do each year! 

        • My 2018 calendar on Artifact Uprising. I gave up on my regular search for the perfect calendar a few years ago and now make my own using my Instagram photos. It's easy, quick, and the calendars turn out great! Tip: be sure to use the editing tools provided to lighten your photos. I forgot to do that last year and the photos ended up a little dark!

        Reading:

        • Cassandra daily newsletter. I find it fascinating to see what the youngsters are up to these days. For instance, millennials want to live where they work. As a former live-in nanny, I can tell you that there are a million reasons why that is a bad idea. (Like if you want to leave your job, you have to leave your home, too.) Anyway, Google and Facebook are building DORMS for their employees. Subscribe, so you can learn about these things, too.

        • R. Eric Thomas' newsletter. He is saving my life right now. He makes me laugh, as the kids say, out loud. If you like snappy, slightly bitchy commentary on the week's events, you'll love him, too!

        • The Secret Lives of Color. Ever since I was a kid collecting paint chips at the store, I have LOVED color. These short histories of colors -- like cerulean and celadon and heliotrope --- are really interesting.

        • Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations by Richard Wagamese. I've been on a bit of a Native American/First Nation wisdom search lately. Not sure if it's because I've been learning more about the Wampanoags around the Cape or the fact that I just finished the last season of Longmire (I still don't understand why I LOVE that show.)

        • Nina McLaughlin's time-limited weekly Novembrance column in The Paris Review. November has always felt a little sad to me. The days are short, the sun barely rises in the sky, and everything turns BROWN. But there is this: "The eleventh month, getting darker, getting colder, echoes our own eventual winding down and gives chance to live in the richest, deepest way."

        Listening:

        • "Neuroscience Says Listening to This Song Reduces Anxiety by Up to 65%." AND there is a ten song Spotify playlist linked in there that includes the ten most relaxing songs on the planet. 

        • Anjunadeep 09. My favorite compilation is back for a 9th go-round. (I still think Anjunadeep 02 is the best one.)

        • The Polybius Conspiracy podcast. Boy was I PISSED when I found out this was mostly fake! I will admit that towards the end I Googled it because I was starting to get suspicious. The dialogue seemed a bit off. If I had known it was not a documentary from the beginning, I would have skipped it.

        • Colorsplash Mixes. You've probably figured out by now that I like electronic music. It's probably an 80s-kid thing. Each one of these playlists has a color-themed title. If you like house music, you'll love these! Beach Glass is a good one to start with.

        Eating + Drinking:

        • Collagen. I will admit that I overheard a conversation at my salon that made me want to try this. They were raving about how thick the client's hair had gotten. And all because she adds a couple teaspoons of powdered collagen to her coffee every morning. I'm doing the same.

        • Mandarin oranges. Is there a more perfect snack for this time of year? I like the ones from Trader Joes -- super tiny and very sweet!

        • The annual holiday menu tryouts. Every year around this time, the Mr. tries out new recipes for Christmas. So far the stars have been: Cranberry-Hazelnut Green Bean Salad and an amazing hominy casserole.

        Learning:

        • New words.
          -chthonic. adjective. concerning, belonging to, or inhabiting the underworld
          -effulgence. noun. radiant splendor; brilliance
          -prolix. adjective. (of speech or writing) using or containing too many words; tediously lengthy

        • Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals. I told you I was on a Native American wisdom kick. I learned how to discover my animal guides. There are nine of them, but two walk through life with you. The thought of my right and left guides -- a hawk and an opossum, respectively -- walking into the operating room with me amuses me to no end. 

        Hygge-ing:

        Loving

        • Cocofloss. Remember when I said how much I hate flossing? Well now I'm obsessed with it and floss constantly. This floss is better than any of the other kinds I've tried. I especially love the strawberry version, but the cara cara orange is fun, too. 

        • Ren products. I recently treated myself to a very personalized facial at Supple Apothecary in Orleans. My skin has been problematic since I started some new medication in late spring -- lots of weird bumps and these tiny little tears on the surface. The facial was perfection, Alison was so sensitive to my situation, and I left with products from the Evercalm and Vita Mineral lines that have vastly improved my problems. Locals, get yourself there!

        • White Noise app. The night before my surgery we stayed in Hyannis. I brought ALL my pillows with me and recreated my home oasis in the hotel room, did my final round of Preparing for Surgery meditation, and then set my White Noise app to "ocean waves" to play all night. While I didn't have the best night sleep of my life, it was WAY better than I usually sleep right before something super scary. 

        Eliminating:

        • Moisture from my car. I've only used DampRid when we travel to warm places where I hang it in the closet with my clothes (after a week that thing is FULL of water.) My car was feeling a bit humid so I hung one in the back seat. It filled slowly with water and it definitely made an improvement.

        • TouchRetouch app. You know when you find the perfect set up for a photo but there is car parked next to it or a person standing in the way? This app REMOVES those things! 

        Expanding:

        • Inner Snow Days. The world is so turbulently upsetting right now. I've been craving silence. And super cuddly soft warm clothes. I'm cranking the heat and nurturing fires in the fireplace. I've started using my selenite wand to cleanse my TV (because that is where all the ugly lives). And incensing my space. I'm cleaning out cabinets and dusting up a storm, discarding anything that is blocking my chi. And treating every day like I'm a kid who just found out she's having a snow day!

        Planning + Organizing:

        • More surgery. In this era of health care terrorism, I wasn't sure if I would share any of this here. It feels unsafe. But not sharing would feel slightly dishonest and I come here to express my truth. So I've decided to share the fact of it but not the details at this point. It's not minor. And it's actually more than one. Most of 2018 will be about healing for me. In the meantime, I'm preparing myself (emotionally, mentally, and physically) and my space (putting up all my disco balls where they'll catch the light, cleaning, testing out the new remote control recliner that will be my bed for awhile, sorting through my clothes to find those with zippers and buttons down the front and trying on my silver glittered turban for when my hair is super gross because I won't be able to shower FOR WEEKS.) 

        • Mercury went retrograde AGAIN (December 3-22). Here's "How to Handle a Holiday Retrograde." 

        Fur Mama-ing:

        • Auto-shipping from Chewy.com. Even though we try so very hard to buy local, Stephen's food and snacks are just too expensive. I have an auto-shipment scheduled to come every 6-8 weeks with his Blue Buffalo food and his favorite treats. 

        • Defending against coywolves. The other night I pulled into our driveway after dark and walked down to get the mail. A shadowy figure ran past me down our street. "Coyotes" out here have mostly wolf DNA. They are big and they are aggressive. I took Stephen out later that night and the thing came running right at us. Luckily, I had this super compact flashlight with me that has a strobe feature and it turned and ran the other way. 

        Resisting:

        • I returned my Al Franken audiobook. I'm super mad at him. Because he's a yucky jerk and we needed him. (I exchanged it for Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View because a Galaxy Far, Far Away has been my place of refuge all year. Unless of course Luke turns out to be evil in this next film, then I am DONE. I've had enough Men-Who-Suck.)

        • Critical Reading.
          "Four Quitters Walk Into a Bar ..." "I mean, speaking for myself, I loved my job. I was more than content to be a bureaucrat for the rest of my life. And, frankly, I hope to go back into public service when the coast is clear." (Aren't we all just waiting for the coast to be clear??)

          Rufus Gifford is running for Congress! I really hope he gets elected. And not just because his husband was a vet in Provincetown in the summers and fixed my boo boo's paw when he cut it on an oyster shell. 

          "We'll Be Paying for Mark Halperin's Sins for Years to Come." "Halperin is the single journalist most responsible for Donald Trump." Ugh.

        Extra Credit:

        I'm planning to post more frequently in the weeks leading up to my surgery, because after that, I may need to take a break. Or I may be so bored, you'll see me here every day. Thanks for reading and good luck with your holiday preparations!

         

      • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 14

        Early fall routines are my favorite. The weather is still mild-ish, the days are a decent length, the summer people have left to go back to their lives, and I can go about my business in peace. I've grown to love this time of year and the simplification it brings with it. Because things have been unbearably yucky "out there," I've also been blocking out the world and focusing on my own tiny footprints. Here's what I've discovered:

        Thinking About:

        • Driving under 35 mph. I like driving slow. Every other person who lives in Massachusetts does not. When we moved out here I felt like I could relax into my normal driving mode -- slow and deliberate. Now that all the tourists are gone, I can putt-putt around at my own pace. It's so liberating!

        • The giant cockroach in my dream. It was enormous and kinda looked like a Devil's Purse. And, it is a good omen!: "Cockroaches are usually a good sign when they visit your dreams. They are the ultimate survivor of everything. This means you can survive anything too with a little integrity and tenacity. When they appear they bring messages of success through perseverance."

        • College. My niece is in the process of choosing where to go to college next year. It's gotten me thinking whether or not I would choose to go to the same school again. College is where I learned about the disparity in gender power, starting with the time a guy on my freshman floor picked me up, turned me upside down, and put me in a trash can. It was not empty. I was wearing a SKIRT. My second choice college was a Seven Sister and I've often thought it may have been the better choice

        Thankful For:

        • October is the new August. The amazing weather we've had lately has been such a gift! I cannot believe I have been wearing shorts and flip flops -- even into the evening, after the sun has gone down. 

        • Walking in soft sand again. It's been about two years since I've been able to do this. My particular injury, which causes my chronic pain, makes it difficult to maneuver on less than solid ground. But I am being super careful, taking slow steps, and engaging my core the entire way. I'm nowhere near where I used to be, walking the coast for hours on end. But I am glad I can see some of my favorite spots again!

        Watching:

        • This video about performance artist, Butch Locsin. The bright skulls, colored smoke, and Mexican culture references are mesmerizing!

        • Robot Chicken's The Walking Dead Special: Look Who's Walking. Robot Chicken does a mean parody, no? We still break out with "Go for Papa Palpatine!" every now and then in this house -- and we've recently been singing "Go for Papadopoulus!" My favorite part of this one: The Negan dance.

        • Nobody Speak: Trials of The Free Press. When Gawker first started, I read it every single day! But this doc isn't really about Gawker. It's about depraved individuals with money and a vendetta. Scared the pants off me!

        • The Bold Type. I wasn't planning to watch this show because I thought it would be annoying in the way that Girls was annoying. BUT I read that there was an episode on genetic testing and hereditary cancer that was really good. After I finished that one, I immediately backed up to episode one and watched the rest of them. I especially love the boss, Jacquelyn. She is everything that I wish I had in my early career -- encouragement, support, mentorship, an easy sense of style. With the exception of one person, it wasn't until later in my career that I had female bosses like her. (And also for the record, I am more of a Nancy Meyers person, than a Nora Ephron person.)

        Creating:

        • A personal health journal. I've never been one to keep a journal. Tons and tons of lists, yes, but hand-written journals, no. This may seem odd because this space is basically that. I bought a great journal and a super cute pen or two. I kept notes while I was going through the worst of my pain and was able to find interesting patterns. Now that I am on a new health journey, I'm using the same concept to keep track of things.

        • My sparkly light up unicorn Halloween costume. Oh boy! I was SO excited about this! There were sequins, sparkly materials, light up parts, and an awesome wig. As we walked to Tea Dance, lots of people took our photo.

        Reading:

        • "Trollhattan" in Granta. An intriguing and totally disturbing article about a murder spree at a school in Sweden, where murder sprees don't happen.

        • "Dirty John." OK, I actually listened to this, rather than read it but LORDY is it a terrible story. So addictive, too!

        • "Our Minds Can Be Hijacked: The Tech Insiders Who Fear a Smartphone Dystopia." This has become a bit of an obsession of mine and I'm tossing around the idea of giving up Facebook and Twitter entirely in 2018. I've already removed the apps from my phone, which has helped me cut back on my time there a lot.

        Listening:

        • Katy Tur's Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat the Craziest Campaign in American History audiobook. If you want to know what it is like to be confused and abused by Trump, this is it. I'd totally hang out with Katy -- she swears a lot, owns her mistakes, and wasn't cowed by the Abuser in Chief. 

        • A Killing on the Cape podcast. I have been enthralled by the murder of Christa Worthington in Truro since it happened. As you can imagine, having it occur so close to where we live, and with people we see from time to time around town as characters connected to her story, make it even more compelling. The first two episodes of the podcast are out -- they do a great job describing life out here on the edge. 

        • Midnight Pool Party. "Because disco will never die." If you need to add more upbeat positive dance-y music to your life, download a few of these! This is one of my favorites.

        • The Junot Díaz episode of the On Being podcast. These gut-punchy words: "I’m a child of blackness. Blackness was not meant to survive, and we have survived. And we have thrived. And we’ve given this world more genius than we have ever received." 

        • Tanika Jones' Soul Run. This has become my laundry-folding soundtrack. You'll be singing and bopping about while you fold your socks!

        • The Larry Summers episode of the Freakonomics podcast. I'm pretty sure I am one of the few Larry Summers enthusiasts in the world. He became president of Harvard shortly after I started working there and, despite his many stupid comments, he made an otherwise stuffy world pretty darn interesting. I forgot how loud he talked (even in elevators) and about that curious cadence he uses with a bunch of words shoved out his mouth in spurts. Anyway, Larry is brilliant -- even if he is offensive. Fascinating listen.

        Eating + Drinking:

        • Sweet potatoes. I've been baking a sweet potato for lunch almost every day since fall begin. I've been cutting it in thirds and trying different toppings on it. So far, tahini, white beans/garlic, honey/red pepper flakes, and butter with cinnamon are my favorites. I also bought this potato scrubber to help with my daily fix.

        • Apple and cinnamon water. For real. Cut up two apples and add two cinnamon sticks to 2 liters of water. Let it sit in the frig for an hour or so and you've got an incredible fall-ish drink.

        •  "A Cabinet Full of Crunch."  "If you’ve ever put away an entire bag of salt and vinegar chips in one sitting, know that you’re not alone—but also know it’s not totally your fault." Finally, absolution!

        • Ghee. We've been using it as a substitute for butter on our morning toasted goodies and in our air fryer. I'm still not sure if it is better for you or not.

        Learning:

        • New words.
          -anodyne. adjective. not likely to provoke dissent or offense
          -calumny. nounthe making of false and defamatory statements in order to damage someone's reputation; slander
          -kakistocracy. nouna system of government which is run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens

        • The Hustle. My sister and I had this awesome disco album and we would do The Hustle in the living room, while we played the record on the giant furniture-sized record player (which is forever linked to a scar I have on my right foot when I misjudged the amount of space I needed to complete a cartwheel.) It's a great time for a refresher!

        Hygge-ing:

        • Love this Basic 7 for Autumn: "More sleeping, reading, hiking, reflection, soup, movies, night skies." I think that about covers it, don't you?

        • Adding extra blankets to the bed. Even with the warm days, it's still getting somewhat cool at night. I started sleeping so much better after I put on that extra comforter!

        • SmartWool socks. I pick up a few year-round when they go sale on Zulily. They are the best socks for warmth without that gross sweating thing that happens.

        Loving:

        • My October horoscope.  Unless you are a Pisces, you are probably not going to care at all about this but I will tell you it is totally accurate. Fellow Pisceans, take note!:

          "Since September 9, 2016, Jupiter has been in Libra and your eighth house of intimacy, intensity, privacy and psychological processing. You've been in some form of energetic cave or cocoon, doing a lot of deep emotional work.

          ... From October 10, 2017, until November 8, 2018, Jupiter will be in Scorpio, a compatible fellow water sign that rules your ninth house of travel, learning, entrepreneurship and global connections. Visionary ideas could take flight ...

           Jupiter only visits this part of your chart every 12 years ... so don't squander this bohemian cycle, during which you're invited to roam free, explore and experiment. This is a year to take risks and try new things without locking yourself into any one particular direction.

          Consider the next 13 months to be "field research" for when Jupiter moves into your structured tenth house next November. Then you'll be ready to choose a defined path. And you'll be so glad you crossed a few things off your bucket list beforehand!"

        • Instagram's Collections. I recently read that Instagram is the most psychologically damaging form of social media. But it's always been my favorite. I find it inspiring to see what other people photograph and I use it as a mini-blog to keep track of things I do each day. I was so excited when they made it possible for you to save other people's photos and then double-ly thrilled when they made it possible to organize those photos into collections. I have ones for book recommendations, places on the Cape I want to visit, food that looks amazing, adorable animal videos, and a whole host of other inspirational ideas. I've also found better communities here for my different issues than anywhere else on the interwebs.

        Eliminating:

        • The li.st app. RIP. I forgot I used to post weekly "20 Things I Googled This Week." Here's my full archive.

        • Facebook Ads. Aren't you totally livid about how Facebook manipulates us? If you go to settings and find the ads section, you can see all the things they've collected on you. You can also DELETE most of it AND change your settings. It takes some time to do but I feel so much better after clearing it all out. (ALSO! Check out the "Is Facebook Spying on You?" episode of Reply All and it's accompanying instructions: "How to Avoid Being Tracked by Facebook.")

        Expanding:

        • Hitting every beach in Truro. These amazing weather days have made it possible for Stephen and I to go on daily exploration adventures. We're in the process of visiting all the beaches in Truro before it gets too breezy and chilly to do so. One of the weird things about town-owned beaches out here is that in most towns you have to be a resident or staying in the town to visit their beaches in the summer months. But off-season is free game!

        • Getting a library card. I don't have one and that is disgraceful -- especially since our town library has been ranked in the no. 1 spot for libraries it's size for a number of years!

        Planning + Organizing: 

        • "The New Decluttering Trend is Called Swedish Death Cleaning and We Tried It." I'm pretty sure my Nana did this for decades. It's kind of extreme but I'm certain we've all thought about what might be left behind.

        • Changes to my Life List. When I first made one it was enormous. A few years later, I published an edited version. But lately, I've really been interested in more meaningful things -- meaningful to me that is -- and less adventures out in the world. I'm not sure I'll publish a new list but here are the kinds of things I've been thinking about: foster/adopt more rescue dogs; share my story; contribute to medical research; make art in public spaces; be a writer.

        Fur Mama-ing: 

        • Safety orange gear. You can hunt on Cape Cod National Seashore land. Like most of the year. I'm terrified of getting shot so Stephen and I have some bright orange gear that we wear. He and I both have vests. And I have a knit cap.

        • Cape Cod Dog Squad. I stumbled upon this amazing dog specialist's Instagram feed and I am so sad that she doesn't take dogs from Provincetown for her daily pack retreats. Stephen would have a blast swimming in the ponds, hiking the trails, and hanging out with all those dogs!

        Resisting:

        • Don't you feel like this year has been one long Hogwart's Sorting Ceremony? We're seeing people take their place in Slytherin every single day. I can't keep up with the Twitter accusations, firings, resignations, indictments (ok, THOSE, I'm all over.) It's like karma was on vacation for a year and is just now cleaning out her email box. 

        • Critical Reading.
          Biden's Briefings. These are generally short (less than 10 minutes) and cover a wide range of topics. Joe hand-picks them so you know they are good!

          Eminem finding the words to express what we all have been feeling. Brilliant and so deeply angry. 

          "Harvard Students Tell Us What They're Learning from Sean Spicer." "My proudest moment as press secretary was getting the opportunity to give people tours of the White House."
        • Action.
          Take down Paul Ryan. "We can take that gavel from his little tax-cutting, Ayn Rand-loving hands and we can send him packing!"

          Subscribe to the Fight Fire with Phire: A Daily Digest for the Overwhelmed newsletter. I've been weeding through all those political newsletters and alerts I signed up for months ago and limiting them to the ones that are informative and positive. This one is a keeper!

        Extra Credit:

        Stay strong, everybody! Until next time.

         

      • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 13

        These days it doesn't take much to send me back under the covers, googling medical terms, and hiding from the world. Last week was grey and super windy as Hurricane Jose twirled and whirled just off the Cape. This week it's 80 something degrees and humid. Everything seems disjointed, out of season, and just off. Even the things that usually soothe my soul, like snuggling with my boo or planning our next trip to a warm place, aren't working. Writing often helps. So here goes ...

        Thinking About:

        • The devastation in the Caribbean. One of my Facebook friends was on the first flight to PR. I cheered her on as she posted photos of gathering her mother and bringing her right back to Boston. She shared a video of everyone clapping when the plane took off. It was the first bit of good news out of Puerto Rico that I've seen. Please, please help if you can. Here are some resources:

          -Watch this list of Caribbean tourism updates. Best way to support their recovery is to go visit when they are up and running. We usually bring donations with us in our suitcases (a lot of resorts have "pack with purpose" programs so you can bring exactly what is needed in each area.)
          -How to Help Victims of Hurricane Maria
          -What You Can Do to Help the Caribbean Now -- and Later.
          -Give to The Sato Project. Before we found Stephen, the Mr. and I put in an application for a sato named Muffin who had been rescued by this group. Muffin ended up being adopted by her foster mom and we were rewarded with His Cuteness, Stephen. But I've continued to follow the efforts of this incredible rescue group.
        • This tweet from Anne Lamott: "Don't let anyone get you to hate them." Just sit with that a moment. 
        • When things come into your life just when you need them. It's amazing, isn't it? I'm going to have to be cryptic here (at least for now) but I was listening to a podcast that I listen to only occasionally and at the very end was an interview with someone who had just gone through what I was currently grappling with. I cried. And then I followed all the breadcrumbs left for me in that interview and found my way through some of the struggle. 

        Thankful For:

        • My Cape Cod medical team. When I lived in Boston, I lived RIGHT NEXT to the best hospital in the US and was surrounded by the best medical professionals anywhere. But I rarely needed them. Fast-forward to our move to the Cape, and all of a sudden I needed doctors and specialists for all sorts of issues. I've amassed a team of thirteen now and every single one of them is TERRIFIC! There's something about the care that is a little more accessible here, a little less factory-ish. I get more than 3 minutes with them (swear to God, one appointment I had with a dermatologist at MGH was less than that -- and included her freezing something off my head!). And they are getting to know me as a person, not just my medical needs.

        Watching:

        • This video for Above & Beyond's "My Own Hymn." I kind of want to live inside it! And I highly recommend all of Above & Beyond's music when you need to feel some positivity in your life. Someday I will go see them live.

        • Gaga: Five Foot Two. I watched this the day it came out. I am grateful I do not have a chronic illness like she does, but I do have chronic pain. I am amazed by her artistry, the way her mind works, and how much of an inspiration she is to people. She suffers, though. It's tough to watch.

        • The Sinner, Top of the Lake: China Girl, and The Five. What a triumvirate of intriguing murder mysteries! Line 'em up for some good binge-watching.

        Creating:

        • My chronic pain library. I've been busy behind the scenes writing content for the chronic pain section on this site and have just published a resource list. I spent so much of the past two years figuring things out on my own and would like to share this with people who need it. There's more to come, including my own pain story, how I manage "painsomnia," a list of tiny lifestyle changes that have added up to big impacts for me, travelling with chronic pain, and other topics.

        Reading:

        • Dangerous Boobies. There's nothing funny about cancer. But this young woman makes the fear of getting cancer very real and actually very funny. While I chuckled through her book, I cried through her docuseries, "Screw You Cancer." I also recommend you read "Know Your Body, Know Your Risk, Know Your Plan" to figure out what you need to do now to get on top of breast and ovarian cancer. 

        • Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. I've only just started this but I am finding it mesmerizing. I always thought surfing would be an amazing thing to do, but I'm terrified of sharks. And those jerks are all over the place out here. One was only 10 FEET from the shoreline last week. That's two of me!

        • Moominsummer Madness. Did you read the Moomin books when you were a kid? It's kooky and kinda weird but I just love those plump Moomins.

        Listening:

        • The audiobook version of Hillary Clinton's What Happened. Oh boy! What to say? I felt like I needed to hear her read me this story so I opted for the audiobook. You can really tell what pisses her off the most. I was especially compelled by the chapters on the Russian intervention. I've always deeply admired her, have been in her corner, and will continue to be, no matter what anyone else says.

        • Sincerely, X podcast. These are anonymous TEDtalks! The stories are potentially dangerous or embarrassing or hurtful to the people telling them so the identities of the storytellers are protected. 

        • Grapefruit Sound Lab. These guys came to Ptown this summer (I missed them when I was in NYC.) I love their 80s New Wave sound!

        Eating + Drinking:

        Learning:

        • New words.
          -revanche -- noun. revenge; especially a political policy designed to recover lost territory or status
          -discorectangle -- noun. Or, a stadium, is a two-dimensional geometric shape constructed of a rectangle with semicircles at a pair of opposite sides

        • Being Fearless Conference from Omega Institute. After 9/11, I went to the first of these conferences in NYC. I saw amazing speakers like Carolyn Myss, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Mia Farrow, and Valerie Plame Wilson. This year's is totally ONLINE and costs only $5! Here's the incredible line up: Van Jones, Bill Moyers, Amy Goodman, Cornell West, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Opal Tometi, and more.

        Hygge-ing:

        • Yep we're done summering and are back to hygge-ing! Storm preparations seem to have cut short our deck time as we put stuff away a bit earlier than usual. Our tomato plants are just about done, some of my summer plants are turning, and the leaves are starting to accumulate in the yard. This year, though, we have a LEAF BLOWER! No more raking and sweeping the deck!

        Loving:

        • Pouches designed by independent artists. A unique clutch can totally make a simple outfit extraordinary. Since I can no longer wear super fancy shoes, I've turned my attention to this little accessory. Here are a few that I found (and I bought the Frida Kahlo one in the large size!)


        Top from left to right:1. Cool Giraffe 2. Mid-Century Lime Green Minimalist Sunset 3. Frida Kahlo Portrait
        Middle from left to right 4. Surrealists 5. Orange in a Rainbow 6. Sunny Rainbow 
        Bottom from left to right 7. Indigo Floral 8. Hipster Hillary 9. Orange Split Sun

        Eliminating:

        • Wedding ring rash. A couple of years ago I started to develop a rash under my wedding bands. Apparently, it's pretty common. For me it usually happens when I'm not careful washing my hands and get soap stuck under there. I have to go without my rings for a bit and I've found a little Lucas Papaw Ointment on the rash helps.

        • Noise. I'm super sensitive to noise and finally bought myself some industrial strength noise-blocking ear muffs. I wear them when I'm writing mostly, but sometimes for reading and sometimes just to give myself some space.

        Expanding:

        • New FitBit. The Mr. bought upgraded our Fitbits and I have to say I love being able to see how much of each type of sleep I've gotten. The other night I spent 28% of my time in REM sleep and woke up feeling super refreshed! Wish I could figure out how to make that a nightly thing.

        Planning + Organizing:

        • My Three-Day Reading Marathon Retreat. I did not plan ahead well enough on this one. Originally, I was hoping to recreate the reading vacations I used to have in the summer. When we lived in Boston and we'd come to my moms' place here in Ptown for vacation, I always arrived with a tote bag filled with books. I would read 10 in a two-week period. Now I barely read 10 in a year. I also didn't have more than three days in a row in the summer that didn't have obligations. Turns out I'll be having some enforced down time shortly, which may lend itself very well to a reading "retreat."

        Fur Mama-ing:

        • Easy Walk Harness. Stephen, all 28 lbs. of him, used to be a nightmare to walk. He'd pull constantly on his harness, like a sled dog trying to get to whatever was in his sights at the moment (usually a squirrel or a seagull.) I switched out his usual harness for this one, which attaches in the front, and we have not had a problem since! It completely changed our walking experience. 

        • Early greying. So Stephen is just about 4 years old and his muzzle is greying. It's on my list to discuss with the vet next month at this annual visit but I, of course, checked it out online. Turns out greying before 4 is common in anxious, reactive dogs. Stephen is most definitely NOT that. (As I write this he is four paws in the air on his back, snoozing away.) In any case, I read that playing light classical music is very soothing to dogs. Turns out Stephen loves it and we both have super chill days when the music is on.

        Resisting:

        • My finger hovered over the "deactivate account" button on Facebook again. My latest frustrations were around the fact that I saw very few posts about the healthcare battle or the lack of attention on the plight of our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico. BUT people came out of the woodwork to share their opinions about the NFL protest. Did this happen on your feed too or is it just mine? 

        • "The First White President." Ta-Nehisi Coates is right again.

        • Hellbent podcast. You all know I LOVE my Crooked Media guys but sometimes they can just be a little too, you know ... bro-ish. The ladies at Hellbent give the same kind of commentary with just a little less of that guy thing.

        Extra Credit:

        Thanks for reading! I hope to be back here soon with more recommendations and distractions!

         

         

      • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 12

        Um, Summer? Where did you go?? My favorite season whizzed right by this year and I'm not quite sure what happened. In years past I spent the end of Labor Day Weekend sobbing on the boat back to Boston but now that we live here, I am ELATED that we have Townie Summer (you all call it fall) and we can get back to the small town life cadence after the crowds.

        Thinking About:

        • Surviving the chaos. It's been all-consuming lately, hasn't it? It takes an enormous amount of energy and effort to keep the current insanity from burning up all that is good in our world. Our brains and spirits need time and space to heal. I've been fantasizing about living an off-the-grid life like Aziz Ansari. Short of that, I've made significant changes in what I allow into my life and it has helped:

          I've hunkered down -- spending time with people I like, spoiling my dog, tending to my plants, and enjoying my natural surroundings.

          I took Twitter off my phone. No more scrolling through other people's panic.

          I massively limited what shows up in my Facebook feed. The truth: I unfollowed 75% of what was in my feed. It's down to mostly videos of dogs.

          We started watching Frasier re-runs instead of the news. I get my information elsewhere and in small doses.

          I've reintroduced daily dance parties into my routine.

          I've figured out what I would normally be spending my time and energy on if things were normal and just do that.

          What are you guys doing to keep your lives from imploding these days??     
        • My inner city mouse. Part of my hunkering down has included staying in Provincetown as much as possible. I hate leaving it. Last month, however, I went to NYC with my sister, niece, and one of her besties. I had some time in Boston and was able to reconnect with that part of myself that loved that life. I don't miss it, oddly, but I do appreciate the ability to go somewhere, be surrounded by people, and still be anonymous. I loved that. Here, everyone knows everyone. There is no privacy. But I wouldn't trade this for anything -- even if I have replaced alerts on my phone for the next red line train with alerts for the latest great white shark sightings.

        Thankful For:

        • Living in a town with a pet-friendly emergency shelter. I cannot imagine how terrifying it is to have to leave your home in order to save your life. And I cannot even begin to fathom how devastating it would be to have no place to go with your pets. The photos from Houston and the Caribbean have been incomprehensible. I just can't get my mind around the tragedy, and the heroism, and the ENORMITY of it all. I've started updating our disaster plans and have focused on this helpful resource: Make a Disaster Plan for Your Pets.

        • Stephen's morning squad. Because the afternoons have been too warm for my little boo, we've been heading to the dog park each morning. We found the most wonderful pack of local dogs that hang out there at a certain time. I LOVE watching them play, Stephen has a blast, and the people there are fun. Even if I'm in a mood when we pull into the parking lot, I'm always lighthearted and joyful when I leave. 

        Watching:

        • Okja. I sobbed throughout this whole film. SOBBED. The whole 120 minutes. Bonus that Steve Yeun is in it and I loved reading about his experience in this film! 

        • Jim Carrey: I Needed Color. I'm jealous of this man's brain. Imagine being so unencumbered by norms that you get to be super freaking funny AND an amazing artist! I especially love his sculpture, which isn't featured as prominently in this short video. Look for it!

        • This video of blue whales feeding. At the top of my bucket list is "See a blue whale." I'm not sure if I'll ever be lucky enough to see one.

        • Schlock. I've been glued to my set watching junk TV this summer: Siesta Key (not quite Laguna Beach but I'll take it), Below DeckBachelor in Paradise (Dean is a dog), Famously Single, and The Challenge (how about that Veronica and Rachel news?) As they say, hashtag sorry not sorry.

        Creating:

        Reading:

        Listening:

        • The "Rachel Maddow Fixed the Piña Colada" episode from The Sporkful. Rachel has some very specific ideas about cocktail garnishes! Here is her piña colada recipe. 

        • Local Provincetown Summer DJ Chris Hamilton's Disco House mixes on Mixcloud. Set 1 and Set 2. For when you just need to bust a move. And for when you want to bust a move while washing the dishes: RuPaul's Essential, Vol. 2 on Apple Music.

        • The Maggie Haberman episode on Longform podcast. Surprising. She's not what I imagined. But I did clearly get the burden that she carries being the person that Trump will talk to in the press. A fascinating listen!

        • Moon Boots' First Landing. I'm a fan of most everything on the Anjunadeep label. This one has been my poolside soundtrack lately.

        • Afropop Worldwide podcast. Even though this has been around for awhile, I just discovered it. I'm catching up on all the episodes featuring music in the Caribbean or any sort of reggae. The episode, "Island Divided", is especially interesting and discusses the painful history between the two nations on the island of Hispaniola, Haiti and the DR.

        Eating + Drinking:

        • Truro Vineyards Rosé. Finally, a wine that both the Mr. and I --and pretty much anyone else we've ever served it to -- like. It's straight down the middle -- not too dry, not too sweet. Just right!

        • The Mr.'s blueberry handpies and tomato jam (made with ingredients from our own garden). He has been making these all summer and they are delicious!! 

        • Trader Joe's Coffee Syrup. I am guessing there are a ton of things you can do with this. But I just pour it over vanilla ice cream. Sometimes, I add a little chocolate syrup for a mocha effect. SO FREAKING GOOD.

        • Halva and tahini from Seed + Mill. Friends, if you are in NYC, brave the crowds at Chelsea Market to find this little stand in the corner. Or, just order some online.

        • Swedish sweets from Sockerbit. Raspberry rhubarb skulls, strawberry and vanilla twist licorice, rainbow sour patch ribbon. Do not -- and I cannot stress this enough -- DO NOT even think about trying the salty licorice

        Learning:

        • New words: 
          abecedarian -- adj. arranged alphabetically; noun. a person who is just learning; a novice.
          cavil -- verb. make petty or unnecessary objections
          heresiarch -- noun. the founder of a heresy or the leader of a heretical sect. (from this amazing interview with Roxane Gay.)

        • "When Your Plane's Engine Catches on Fire." I was once asked to be the "fire marshal" for my office. It came with a red hat, a clipboard, and responsibility for everyone else. I declined, telling them that they would see that red hat running away down Mass Ave before they even knew something was wrong. Sharing this with all of you so you don't get in my way. 

        Summering:

        • My new favorite sunscreen for when you don't want to feel like you are wearing sunscreen. It's a Japanese import so it takes a few extra days to ship (although you still get free shipping with Amazon Prime). I carry it around in my bag and use it when I'm walking around town or at the pool. (It's not waterproof in any way so you must reapply regularly if you are a swimmer.)

        • First pedicab ride in town. Ever. And then my second. Third and fourth. Not sure what took me so long since I was always a let's-get-a-cab person when I lived in the city.

        • I never got a beach pass. Which means I haven't been to the National Seashore during the day since the end of June. And it's the first time I've been without one since the 90's! With the parking lot mangled, I just didn't feel like fighting the crowds this year. And we have plenty of shoreline on this side of town.

        • Pontoon boat. FINALLY, we rented one! The Mr. had a gaggle of his college friends and their families here for a day and we all went out and puttered around the harbor. I would totally do that again and, honestly, I'm not quite sure why we never rent boats. Probably the same reason I never got that beach pass. 

        Loving:

        • That eclipse. I will admit I had NO intention of looking at that eye-burning apocalyptic event. The Mr. got a bunch of special glasses and left one for me, just in case. Curiosity made the cat go blind, as they say, and I couldn't resist peaking at it. SO FREAKING COOL! And while you were all listening to Bonnie Tyler, Stephen and I had this on repeat.

        • My Prime Day purchase. The Mr. bought an Echo (which I refuse to speak to. Cylons.) and a new Kindle Fire. Me? I bought a FAN! And I love it more than anything!! It's trained right on me when I go to sleep.

        • SFMOMa's "Send Me" Art by text. So clever and a great way to see some art. Favorites so far are "Caribbean" and "Aqua." 

        Eliminating:

        • Ticks. One morning I woke up and found a TICK attached to the back of my skull. So freaking gross! Luckily I had just seen the short film, Tick Days, and knew about the tick testing they do at UMass. I also knew I had just two weeks to have the best opportunity to treat potential Lyme disease. Those guys turned it around quickly and sent me an email with all the info. My tick had NO diseases. WHEW! Check out this article on climate change and the spread of Lyme disease. And for tips on how to keep yourself safe, read this.

        • So I guess we're not going to Mexico any time soon. Murder rates up in 2017, reports of tainted alcohol at some all-inclusives, photos in my Facebook groups of armed guards roaming the beaches in PDC, new safety guidelines at the airport for all flights into the US necessitating a 3 hour pre-flight arrival time (its already a fustercluck), and the recent addition of Quintana Roo to the State Department warnings (Also, what State Department? Is anyone left to do these things properly?) I'm so disappointed. And I blame that jerk in the White House.

        • Decluttering Burst. This is a really cool idea. The goal is to get rid of 100 things (10 from your junk drawer, 10 from the medicine closet, etc.) I'm setting aside some time this month to do it!

        Expanding:

        • You may have noticed a design change around here. It took me maybe 20 minutes to complete. Virb, who hosts my site, makes it so very easy to manage these types of changes. Let me know what you think of the new look!

        Planning + Organizing

        • Second Summer (aka Townie Summer, aka Local Summer). I'm thinking about doing a whole post on this because the months of September and October are the BEST out here at the edge of the world. It stays warm-ish, the sun is pure brilliance, and the crowds thin down from a if-one-more-stroller-pops-in-front-of-me-I-am-going-to-lose-it to oh-look-a-parking-space levels. Check out my "This Month" at the bottom of the page for a glimpse at what just September looks like for us!

        Fur Mama-ing: New section for all you fellow dog mamas and papas out there!

        • This simple attachment that makes it easy to rinse off the sand and saltwater after Stephen swims. We have two of these and it has made our lives so much easier. When you live at the beach, your dog gets wet and sandy pretty much every day. Attach this to a 2 liter bottle filled with water. I leave them outside our door (water warms in the sun) and then transfer them to the car if we're heading out.

        • This poop bag holder attachment for walks. This is such a simple piece of plastic but it has made our walks to nowhere so much more pleasant. Instead of carrying Stephen's stinky poop bags on long walks (with no trashcans in sight), I attach it to this little contraption and have my hands free for the rest of the time (to take photos of course!)

        Resisting:

        Extra Credit:

         

         

      • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 20

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

        Godspeed, everyone! LET'S DO THIS THING!

        Loving:

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

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

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

        Eliminating:

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

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

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

        Expanding:

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

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

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

        Health-ing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Planning + Organizing:

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

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

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

        Fur Mama-ing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Extra Credit:

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

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

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

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

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

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

        NOW, GO VOTE!

         

      • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 11

        Summer, summer, summerTIME! Summertime! Can you feel it??? It's been glorious around here lately. Sun twinkling off the water. Honeysuckle wafting along our little clamshell path. Sandy toes all day long. Gardens in major bloom. (Speaking of, I need to up my container game. You should see some of the ones around town!). This is my season, friends, and I am bursting! 

        Thinking About:

        • Blocking out the noise. I read this account of someone who quit Facebook and I loved everything in it! And all of it happened within SEVEN DAYS. Last August I took a break from Facebook and Twitter and I got so much done. I made a list of 50 things I wanted to do before the end of that month and I managed to finish 30 of them before a flare-up took me out of the game.

          All that garbage in the larger world is dragging me down so I'm focusing on this wee speck of a place for the rest of the summer. I'm not quitting anything but putting Twitter on hiatus and checking in on Facebook maybe once a week will be helpful. I'm turning off the news and the TV in general. Getting back to writing, reading, listening (not giving up my podcasts!), and wandering around outside while the days are long suits me quite nicely.

        • Cultural appropriation. OK, this is a tough one. And, I have to admit, it's a topic that confuses me. They should call it cultural misappropriation. I watched this from Ijeoma Oluo and it made me question some of my own choices. I love embroidered tunics that are Mexican in style, but I get that buying them from J Crew is problematic. J Crew makes money, not the local artisan who learned how to embroider from her mother using methods and traditions passed down through generations. I know this is a million times more complicated than what I stated here so, if like me, you want to continue to learn more, here are a couple articles:
          -Food and cultural appropriation.
          -7 Things You Might Not Realize Are Cultural Appropriation That Are. 

        Thankful For:

        • Our morning visitors on our deck. There is this adorable chipmunk that comes to eat his breakfast every morning. OK, it's stuff I put out for him, but still. I love watching him stuff his cheeks and then scamper off. Which he does on a loop: stuff, scamper, stuff, scamper. I even forgive him for digging in my fuschia. And the birds -- bluejays, cardinals, catbirds, sparrows, nuthatches, tufted titmice, chickadees -- have started to gather on the deck, waiting patiently for their snacks to arrive. I've come to appreciate them all. They are like my little outdoor pets.

        Watching:

        • Films at the Provincetown Film Festival. For years I would buy a pass to the festival and marathon my way through as many films as I could (sometimes five in one day!) but last year's issues with pain changed all that. I missed the festival completely last year and I decided to take a more sensible approach this year and see only a few. Here's what I saw:

          -Lost in Paris. I just loved this film! So funny. So charming. Kinda a cross between Wes Anderson and Mr. Bean.

          -The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson. Marsha was an icon of the LGBTQ movement and she was found dead in the Hudson River. The film follows an inquiry into what really happened to her, revealing some deep, deep ugliness towards transpeople, even among the gay community. Netflix bought this so you'll be able to watch it soon.

        • The Keepers. It's incredible storytelling and so, so painful. A murdered nun -- an unsolved case -- and tales of horrible abuse. And coverup. (If you have watched it, here are some things that have happened since the series premiered. SPOLIERS!)

        • Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King. I was wholly unprepared for how funny and deeply wise his standup commedy/Oprah-like opining would be. Set aside some quiet time so you can really listen to what he has to say.

        Creating:

        • A weekly morning walks post on The Gram. We recently switched up our routine so that I have Stephen's morning walk. I love the relative quiet (and I do mean relative) of the mornings here and I take photos of everything. There's such good stuff so I'll be posting a bunch of photos once a week to share what I find.

        • A list of movies I want to rewatch. I'm feeling the need to dive into the familiar and coccoon myself until the meanies go away. Amiright? Here's my summer comfort movie list so far: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Some Kind of Wonderful, Pecker, Amelie, Saturday Night Fever, The First Wives Club, Funny Face, Monsoon Wedding, Remains of the Day, Lost in Translation.

        Reading:

        • Al Gore in Interview. "All I'm doing, all I have done for 40 years, is spend time with the best scientific experts, gain their confidence, and take advantage of their patience in explaining things to me over and over again in progressively simpler language that I can understand, so that I can read it back to them and get their sign off, where they say, 'Yep, that's it, Al. You've got it.'" 

        • "Eurovision Serenades a Continent in Crisis." Because I cannot let it go.

        • "12 Seconds of Gunfire." Take a deep breath before you read this. "In each shooting’s wake, the children and adults who die and those who murder them become the focus of intense national attention. Often overlooked, though, are the students who survive the violence but are profoundly changed by it."

        • "Rachel Maddow: The Rolling Stone Interview." She hangs out in Ptown.

        Listening:

        • Ezra Klein's interview with Masha Gesson on The Ezra Klein Show podcast. As much as anyone, I want the Russia thing to bring the whole sham of an administration down. Masha who is an expert on Putin and Russian stuff has a different perspective. Important listening.

        • Chromatics' "Cherry". Pang-inducing. So melancholy. So 80s. Like a John Hughes film.

        • Side Hustle School podcast. If you have any interest at all in starting your own little income stream, check this podcast out! Chris Guillebeau from The Art of Nonconformity tells us a 5-6 minute story every day about someone who started a side hustle -- from chicken saddles to fish tank reviews -- and makes additional income from it. 

        Eating + Drinking:

        • These delicious sticky rice chips. I am a big snacker and I especially love salty crispy and crunchy stuff. These little snacks are like the crunchy rice at the bottom of the pan. And they soak them in watermelon juice before crisping so they have a slightly sweet flavor. Really tasty!

        • The perfect crisps for your soft cheeses. They have thin slices of apricots in them. Super crunchy but with a bit of sweetness and perfect for a chevre or a St Andre. And for your summer snacks on the deck!

        Learning:

        • New word.
          -ostreaphile. noun. A lover of oysters.
        • The Alternative Tarot Course. I've still been drawing my daily card from my tarot app but I really want to learn how to do it myself. It's complicated and this course appeals to the rule-aversion part of me.

        Summering:

        • These essential items. Summer is my thing, as you all know, and I've invested a great deal of time and experience in finding just the right basics for the pool (or beach.) Here's what I'm using this summer:

          -the best sunscreen for your face, lips, and the rest of you 

          -the PERFECT beach/pool/resort bag. I have searched for years for just the right bag -- stylish, big enough to hold a ton of stuff, and water-resistant (I HATE when the pool drippage seeps into my bag when it's on the ground.) AND it folds into a small rectangle that you can easily pop in your suitcase but isn't flimsy like a Baggu. It's a super sturdy bag.

          - these waterproof zipper bags for organizing your stuff inside the above bag. I carry two: one for the messy stuff and one for the stuff that can get ruined by the messy stuff.

        • "Here's Why You Should Skip the Cheap Flip-Flops This Summer." See my last post with alternative suggestions for summer footwear.

        Loving:

        • "How to Apply Glitter Nail Polish the Right Way." Ohhhhh, that's how you do it?

        • Papa Velour. That man is everything. My heart was bursting watching his reactions to Sasha's performance (I had my hands in the air in touchdown formation every time she did a reveal, gasping from the awesomeness!). Follow Papa's Twitter

        • Writing Routines newsletter. Even if you aren't a writer, you might find this newsletter interesting. Lots of advice for when you need to write anything, which applies to most of us.

        • This somehow simple yet totally magical charcoal face cloth. I've noticed recently that it's harder to exfoliate my face -- it's both in need of regular attention (I guess cells don't turn over as quickly as we age) and more sensitive than ever.  I use this every day and I definitely feel like my skin is smoother because of it, and not red and raw.

        Eliminating:

        • Overpacking. I am a big believer in cross-packing (half my stuff, half the Mr.'s in each suitcase, just in case one goes missing) so I end up with twice the amount of stuff I need. This luggage audit article is helpful if you have the same problem.

        • Bone spur in the jaw! Again, file under "Why Don't They Tell You These Things?"  So it appears that after all that painful dental work, I have developed a bone spur which is growing out through my gum. If it doesn't correct itself, which apparently it can do after it just spontaneously and for no reason smooths over or it BREAKS OFF IN YOUR MOUTH, I head back to the oral surgeon for it to be filed down. 

        Expanding:

        • Dealing with webtroversion. I'm a total webtrovert (introvert in real life but extraverted online.) When I first started sharing more of myself on the original Juniper Disco, it would freak me out when I was talking to people and they would refer to something I wrote, as if we had had an actual conversation about it. I was taken aback, every single time: "Wait, I didn't tell you that! Oh, right, you read it on my blog." Still freaks me out.  

        Planning + Organizing:

        Resisting:

        • Seems there is SO much nastiness out there. The tax cut bill (some actually call it a "healthcare" bill.") The shooting at the Alexandria baseball field. The Investigation. Mitch McConnell's dangerously competent evilness. GROSS tweets. The fact that Russia is ok, but not Cuba (help me out on that one.) Jared Kushner's voice. But, all I want to do is read Roald Dahl books, watch Sliding Doors, and eat cheese dip. We all need a freakin' break from this!

        • Critical Reading.
          "A Couple of Reasons I've Been Depressed Lately." David Sedaris feels the same way we do about 45. He's just way funnier.

          "Why Donald Trump is Like This." "A lot is really explained by his self-image as a mischievous bad boy who gets in trouble but who has a certain charm to him, almost like a Dennis the Menace." Um, "CHARM?"

          "Power Causes Brain Damage." "Subjects under the influence of power, he found in studies spanning two decades, acted as if they had suffered a traumatic brain injury(!)—becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view."

        • Action.
          Get digitally secure. So I recently got a notification that someone had my password and tried to log into my Google account. They blocked the bastard and quickly changed my password. So now I'm super paranoid. There are three steps listed in this newsletter you can take to make sure people aren't looking at your stuff. Jerks.

        Extra Credit:

        • George Church's narcolepsy.  "His condition has persuaded Church of the benefits of, even the need for, neurodiversity, meaning brains that work differently from most others. The world needs people with high-functioning autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention deficit disorder and, yes, narcolepsy, he has come to believe."

        • "Unanswered Questions About Tamerlan Tsarnaev." Like was he an FBI informant?

        • "America Made Me a Feminist." "But the American woman is told she can do anything and then is knocked down the moment she proves it." Paulina Porizkova's (the model, remember?) opinion piece is an eyeopener. I find myself thinking about what she has learned living in different countries about the power of women.

        Thanks for reading! Happy, happy SUMMER!!

         

         

         

      • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 10

        My dog, Stephen, regularly lifts his head up from a deep nap to stare at me when I am writing. If I ignore him, he climbs on my lap and kisses my face. I'm guessing there is some sort of biological change in me when I get in the writing flow that he senses and DOES NOT LIKE. I've had to endure many face kisses to write this post -- a sacrifice I willingly take to bring you interesting tidbits!

        Thinking About:

        • Dare I say it? Optimism. Friends, I'm wondering if you all felt a shift in the world when 45 announced he was pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement (or is it an Accord?) ? Or maybe the shift was really in the following moments when humanity condemned him and those who had the ability, pledged their money and their resources to ignoring him and moving on with what the rest of us need to do. For me, that was THUNDEROUS. The moment when I realized: he does not matter. It was so freeing! 

          Confused about what happened? Me, too. Until I read this. But I take GREAT comfort in that last line: “It’s when the whale spouts that he gets harpooned.”

          And, you better believe I am making Comey testimony snacks and drinks this morning. The albatross around our American neck may soon be nevermore. (Hashtag literary bird allusions.)

        • The bombing in Manchester. I'm experiencing such a strong reaction to this. Those of us who lived in Boston in 2013 know exactly what that city is going through right now. While the world moves on, it's just starting for them. The feeling of your safe space being violated, a strong urge to reclaim it, and the realization that it will never be the same. There will never be a Manchester for them without that bomb.

        Thankful For:

        • The Provincetown Fire Department. Just before we crossed the bridge on our way back from my niece's dance recital Memorial Day Weekend, I started getting photo texts from our friends -- each one scarier than the last. A fire broke out at a restaurant in the center of our town and quickly spread to three others. Ptown is mostly made up of wooden buildings and are as close as they can possibly be to each other. And our fire department is entirely volunteer. They managed to keep the fire from spreading any further, but in the end those four businesses were destroyed. Our town rallies around its own, and with the help of our community, most people have found jobs elsewhere and money is being raised to help all those affected. 

        Watching:

        • First of all, why is all the good stuff being released at the same time?? And just as summer is starting?? I'm dipping in and out of so many shows right now but I did manage to finish the new season of House of Cards. It's no longer shocking, given, well you know, but it is still seriously good drama!

        • All the President's Men. I've watched this film several times but somehow it never sunk in just how much time it took to unravel the Watergate details and just how many people didn't believe there was any there there. Worth a re-watch!

        • National Bird. This doc about the US drone program and the impact it has on the pilots who fly them (and who also drop the bombs on the people they see from the sky) is pretty intense. One woman in the film stated, "I lost part of my humanity since working in the US Drone program." It's a tough one to watch. 

        • King Charles III. Based on the Broadway play, this adaptation imagines what will happen if/when Prince Charles finally takes the throne. It's BRUTAL. And the actor who plays Prince Williams looks a lot like Jared Kushner. 

        • This Eurovision gem from 2007. I can't stop watching these Eurovision videos on Youtube! This one is SPECTACULAR!

                      Creating:

                      • An update on my disco ball necklaces. I've been so slow in getting these off the ground. I did find a source for the perfect size disco balls and am learning how to make my own beads. My goal is to get a few up on Etsy to sell by the end of the month.

                      Reading:

                      Listening:

                      • The "Lea in Trumpland" episodes on the Strangers podcast. While I am kinda tired about all the focus on the Trump voters, I've been mesmerized by the first two episodes. Lea is fearless, swears when necessary, but she listens and is straight about her own opinions. It's everything you want those Facebook discussions to be, BEFORE they devolve into but-her-emails/he's-an-asshole barb trading. 

                      • Al Franken's new (audio)book, Al Franken, Giant of the Senate. He crushes Ted Cruz. CRUSHES.

                      • All the music in the second season of Master of None. I'm purposefully working my way through this season because it is SO GOOD. That dating episode? Genius! And the music is spot on. 

                      Eating + Drinking:

                      • Salads and Spritzs. I just started taking a medication with a lengthy list of possible side effects including weight GAIN. I mean, can I get a break here, please? So it's salads and spritzs for me this summer.

                        I'm thinking this might be my Summer 2017 drink, the spritz liscio:  "Simply add a splash of homemade syrup or fruit liqueur to a base of white wine and soda, and garnish with abandon." Also this grapefruit spritz sounds yummy.

                        And I recently bought Salad for President: A Cookbook Inspired by Artists (based on the blog) and consulted the NYT Cooking complete guide on "How To Make a Salad" for inspiration. The Mr. discovered this delicious salad dressing, Panera's Asian Sesame Vinaigrette Dressingwhich I am practically chugging straight from the bottle.

                      Learning:

                      • New words.
                        -manufactory = noun. a factory (Oh, ok. Why not just use "factory"?)
                        -vitrine = noun. a glass display case

                      • About California Prop 65 warnings. So maybe I'm the last one to the party again, given the passage of the bill in 1986, but I am now learning to look for these warnings on food and things like shampoo that I buy online. Amazon shares this: "California's Proposition 65 entitles California consumers to special warnings for products that contain chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm if those products expose consumers to such chemicals above certain threshold levels."

                      Summering:

                      Loving:

                      • Kishu charcoal water purifier. This is the water bottle fix I've been looking for for years! We drink a lot of water in this house, but we buy water in (gasp!) plastic jugs. Even though we recycle like a boss, I feel so guilty about all those plastic bottles. But NOW I just pop one of these into a pitcher and fill it with tap water. They last for four months (if you boil them once a month) and come in four different sizes, including ones for your pet's water dish and your water bottle. And after four months, you can reuse it to absorb odors in your frig or break it apart and put it in your garden!

                      • Jet Set Sarah. Let me give you several reason why she's one of my favorites on The Gram! 1) She travels all over the Caribbean to resorts FOR A LIVING. 2) She wears the coolest brightly colored clothes! 3) She's letting her hair gray naturally, too. We're twinsies. Check her out!

                      • Cucia Earth lava pumice stone. Again, I'm trying to keep my pedicures to a minimum. This pumice stone is the best I've found!

                      Eliminating:

                      • The brown stuff on our baking sheets. For sometime now, we've used the quarter-size pans from Williams-Sonoma. Perfect for our just-the-two-of-us needs and you can fit two side by side in the oven. But that brown stuff is so hard to remove. So I tried this. And it works!!

                      Expanding:

                      • eBates. Are you guys using this yet?? My theory is that companies are already tracking your browsing and buying activity on their site so you might as well get paid for it. If you are really savvy, you can get cash back on hotel rooms, all your holiday gifts, and extra cash if you wait for double savings. I've received about $100 since December. And what is even better, if you use this link, we both get money!

                      • Our salsa garden. The Mr. and I planted tomatoes and peppers in the garden beds in the back of our home. We went with a variety of different types since we have no idea how well they will do here. Our soil is pretty sandy, as you can imagine. I'm also in the process of junglefying our deck for the summer. I'm pretty psyched with how it is going!

                      Planning + Organizing:

                      • SUPER SILVER SUMMER REDUX (or #silversummer2)! Summer planning as an adult is an art. If you live in a northern climate, it's really hard to squeeze in all the fun things you can only do when it's warm, yet somehow leave enough space for completely unstructured time. If you've followed this space for awhile, you know I used to do extensive lists and have never, ever completed a single summer list. That won't keep me from trying! Here's this year's in visual form.

                      Resisting:

                      Extra Credit:

                       

                      Thanks so much for reading! See you back here in a few weeks! 

                       

                       

                       

                    • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 9

                      It's amazing how much happens in two weeks (OK, three weeks) these days. George Jetson tried to tell us what the future would be like and I find myself yelling, "JANE! Stop this crazy thing!" at least once a day. 

                      Note a few changes in this space:
                      1) "Hyggeing" is temporarily changed to "Summering" for obvious reasons, and
                      2) I added an "Extra Credit" section to the bottom to capture all the interesting bits that don't fit into my fixed categories. 

                      Thinking About:

                      • Being closer to 50 than 40. I learned a lot of interesting science factoids when I worked at the Harvard Medical School. One of the most pertinent pieces of information gleaned from that era is that we experience "aging spurts" -- just like a growth spurt, the opposite happens. 

                        The past 18 months have been one giant leap forward from relative youth and health to no-one-told-me-THIS-would-happen aging. It's lead to all sorts of change adjustments, like accepting that I can't go for long walks on the beach like I used to or that the ease of never thinking about how you are feeling is gone forever. It's also made this health care debacle very real. As we age, things break. It happens to all of us so thinking about health as some sort of stasis is ridiculous. What is immoral, wrong, evil, and just plain douche-y is believing that people who need help paying for health care (um, MOST of us) aren't deserving of assistance because it is their fault somehow. The GOP is soaked in their denial of privilege and leaving little drips of it all over our democracy. More on those bastards later.

                        And in case we all need to find alternative health care, read these articles: 
                        -"When the American Medical System Failed Us, We Turned to Mexico."
                        -"Innovative Medical Treatments in Mexico."
                        -
                        "In Jamaica, a Push to Market Island Getaways -- with a Side of Surgery." 

                        Also, for the record, I would like it to be known that two doctors have told me in the past couple of months that they thought I was 35. (My first thought was, "AWESOME!" My second: "Wait. Didn't you look at my records??")

                      Thankful For:

                      • The opportunity to watch Louis Masai create a mural in our town. Sometimes I am amazed by the talent that this tiny little town attracts (like Randy Rainbow who is coming in August! Start thinking about what I should say to him. I don't want to look like a weird fangirl.) Definitely check out his work online and, if you are in town, drop by the Harbor Hotel to check it out yourself.

                      • Our safe haven. There are a couple of local blogs that I read and this one post, "A Tumult of Emotions -- Spring 2017," is really helpful in understanding how our community is impacted by 45's administration and how Ptown has always been a safe place for people who have been ostracized.

                      Watching:

                      • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I may be the only one who hasn't read this book, but after seeing the film, I'm interested in learning more. Specifically, what is the deal with the legal issues around using someone's tissue without permission? That seems wrong. Also, that Oprah! When she commits, she commits. (Did you see her on Ellen's coming out anniversary show. I cried. And, on my gosh, Michelle!)

                      • The Handmaid's Tale. I signed up for a free month of Hulu just to watch this. I've made it through all the episodes released so far and I cannot say I am loving it. The story is epically courageous (I read the book) and the visuals are gorgeous, but I HATE THE STORY. Mostly because it is too easy to imagine as our future. So much has been written about the show/book and I found this article particularly interesting: "The Handmaid's Tale is a Warning to Conservative Women." (I should also mention I binged 11.22.63 and am in Season 2 of The Mindy Project, which is saving my sanity. Hulu may be here to stay in our household.)

                      • Frontline's The Fish On My Plate. This guy stopped eating "land meat" and only ate fish for a year. He wanted to see what would happen to his body if he increased his intake of Omega 3 (because we're all apparently eating too much Omega 6 from soy, corn oil, processed food, or "land foods.") The results are intriguing and mercury levels come into play. In the end, it proves this truism: everything in moderation -- and stay away from the really bad stuff. Not sure why we keep looking for better advice.

                      • Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown season 9 opener on Los Angeles. Tony keeps getting better and better with his socio-economic political views on food and culture. Focusing on East LA, "chicanos," immigration, and what it means to be an American, the first episode will knock you over. Take a look at the companion web site Explore Parts Unknown to go deeper into the topic. Also bonus points for watching NatGeo's LA92 with tons of real footage from the LA Riots, the most destructive civil disturbance in American history. And my favorite food doc ever: City of Gold about food critic Jonathan Gold and his approach to reviewing family-owned shops in the ethnic enclaves of LA.

                      • Eurovision 2017. Oh my! What an extravaganza!! My two favorites were Greece and Israel -- mostly because I would totally add their songs to my Mixy Mix Mix playlist. The songs are super danceable, in an early to mid 90s kind of way, none of this annoying dubstep crap. This was my first time watching and I was dazzled, completely confused after the voting started, and totally disappointed when the winner was announced (yawn!). But I am adding this to my annual Must Watch list.

                      Creating:

                      • Home videos for Instagram. My dad took a ton of home videos when we were kids and he converted them all to CD some time ago. I'm in the process of converting them again and recently posted a little clip of my first sail on the Hindu back in 1973 and a Mother's Day tribute to my mom. I'll share more over the coming weeks.

                      Reading:

                      • You Don't Look Your Age ... And Other Fairytales by Sheila Nevins. I saw the interview with her on CBS Sunday Morning and let's just say I was FASCINATED. Mostly because of her incredible impact in the documentary industry, but also because of her style. And that she looks so young. Plastic surgery, clearly -- but not the Gloria Vanderbilt version. I also ordered the audio book because she enlisted an awesome list of people to read each chapter (Meryl Streep, RuPaul, and Martha Stewart, to name a few.)

                      • Saipua's May 3, 2017 journal entry. I so appreciated this journal post for the way that it incorporates the horror of the Trump world into her daily accounting of her chores. "Nature is full of things that we can all agree on and I trust the power of that more than anything these days." 

                      • "Junot Díaz Talks Dominican Identity and the (Complicated) American Dream." I know, Junot Díaz again. I appreciate his world perspective and the Dominican Republic fascinates me (first colonized city in the New World, that horrible Trujillo era, it's relationship with Haiti, and it's super mix of cultures.) It looks like I am going to miss him when he's in Ptown later this month (DRAT!) 

                      Listening:

                      • Longform's interview with S-Town's Brian Reed. It's fascinating to hear what the producer and host was thinking only 72 hours after S-Town was released -- before he was aware of how popular it would be, before the backlash, before the critical reviews. Most of the interview was about how the podcast was made and the decisions around structuring the story.

                      • The Messenger podcast. If you are looking for something truly unique, this is it. The podcast centers on Abdul Aziz Muhamat, a Sudanese refugee, and his life inside the immigration detention center on Manus Island, which is run by the Australian government. The interviewer is unable to talk directly to Aziz so they converse through 30-second messages left on each other's voicemail through WhatsApp. He's been there in limbo for years having been told to settle in Papua New Guinea (which is not equipped to support refugees) or go home. The story is still unfolding so catch up soon.

                      • Conkarah's cover of "Chained to the Rhythm," "Sweat," and his new EP, Timeless Love.  Reggae cover songs just in time for summer.

                      Eating + Drinking:

                      • The 5:2 "Diet". Technically this should be under the "Thinking About" category because I haven't actually tried this yet. The premise is that you eat 25% of your normal calories two days a week. Beyond weight loss, it is supposed to have a number of benefits. I first thought it was nuts, then I read this seemingly unrelated article: "How to Fight Cancer (When Cancer Fights Back.)" This theory of treating cancer aims to turn it into a manageable chronic disease and uses the same feed-then-starve approach as the 5:2 diet. Anyway, the connection intrigues me.

                      • The Mr.'s fresh salsa. He makes salsa from scratch with fresh tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime juice. It is BETTER than the pico de gallo we've had in Mexico. SO, SO tasty!

                      • "Why You Should Put Salt on Your Fruit." Salt is my magic dust. I put it on everything, even ice cream. And it is especially good on that summer-est of fruits, watermelon. 

                      Learning:

                      • New and forgotten words:
                        -anodyne = adjnot likely to provoke dissent or offense; inoffensive, often deliberately so

                        -insouciant = adjshowing a casual lack of concern; indifferent. (As in "Does Marine Le Pen not understand that being French is all about being insouciant, not shouting endlessly about how terrible it is when women wear veils? The only article of clothing a Frenchman should be against is the sock with the sandal." )

                      Summering (formerly "Hyggeing"):

                      • Our first drinks in the white adirondack chairs at The Red Inn and on the deck of the Aqua Bar. The opening of the outdoor spaces is one of the best things about late spring around here!

                      • Opening parties! As a way of recognizing the locals, a lot of the town's bars and restaurants have opening parties to celebrate the beginning of the season. This town loves free food!

                      • First tea. This year we are getting townie passes, which is like gold around here. 

                      Loving:

                      • My new Friend of the Pod tshirt. Finally, I am official.

                      • Eloquii. Curvy girls, this is for you. And if, like me, you are also short round/petite fat, do not despair. We have options. There are new items on this site almost weekly and there seems to be a different deal almost every day (you can keep up by subscribing to it's email list). I held out for 50% off and free shipping. Also, try ASOS Curve -- most of the sequin section in my closet has come from there. And if you are feeling the least bit anxious about swimsuit season, this clip from American Housewife should help!

                      Eliminating:

                      • Weeds. First, UGH! Second, I've decided to approach it as a daily battle. Every day, I knock out a few weeds. I've been spending no more than 20 or 30 minutes each day, taking a small section of the yard and getting rid of those pests. Sometimes I just grab a few as I'm putting Stephen in the car for his dog park adventure. Saves the health of my back and, over time, I hope it keeps things under control. We'll see who wins the battle this summer!

                      • More stuff! My eBay store is doing pretty well and for the most part I've had a good experience with it. My cousin has an eBay business so I got lots of great tips from her. I've had to figure out when to bargain and when not to, the ins and outs of postage, and how to deal with a scammer. I'm still adding inventory, so check back to see what I have available. I'm now getting to some of the really good stuff that I've been on the fence about parting with. Send me a message if you want to bargain on any thing you see.

                      • Update on the silver hair. First, thanks for all the positive comments! If you are thinking about it, just know that I have saved a ton of money and time. It took awhile because I refused to cut my hair short. I just put it on top of my head (and hid the weird stuff as best as I could.) Also note that you should buy special shampoo and conditioner for silver hair. There are rows and rows of men's hair products available in my town, but only a small section for women so I had only one choice. I need to find a more natural formula. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

                      Expanding:

                      • My rescued cactus paddle is having a baby! I have a very cool prickly pear cactus that a squirrel attacked by ripping off one of it's paddles, chewed on it, and then decided he didn't like it and left it on the chaise lounge to die. Jerk. Anyway, I replanted it and cared for it and this year, it has a new little appendage growing!! Hooray!

                      Planning + Organizing:

                      • Trip to NYC with my sister, niece, and one of her BFFs. We're looking for total non-tourist stuff. We'll be staying in Chelsea and so far everything revolves around sweets, coffee shops, bagels/bialys, secret gardens, outdoor murals, architecture, and Muji. Love to hear any recommendations that fall into these categories.

                      Resisting:

                      • I wanted to talk about so many political things in this issue but, once again, I am stupefied. I had cool things to say about NAFTA. And I had a very emotional dressing down of the irresponsible and reckless GOP jerks who voted for that horrible AHCA bill, or The 217, as I call them. But, LORDY (as Comey would say), I have no words for the fustercluck that is swirling around DC ... except, "JANE!! STOP THIS CRAZY THING!!!"

                      • Critical Reading.
                        "Even Republicans Admit We Are Headed for Universal Health Care." "'I would predict that in less than seven years, we'll be in a single-payer system,' acclaimed conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer told Tucker Carlson."

                        "The Strange Psychological Power of 'Fox & Friends'." 
                        "It’s an us-against-them mentality, delivered with a smile, the hosts so relentlessly cheerful that they sometimes seem giddy, as if they’ve just stepped out of a party at Mar-a-Lago."

                        "Will Hurd is the Future of the GOP (*If he can hold on to the toughest seat in Texas.) "He denounced Trump during the campaign, distancing himself in particular from the candidate’s rhetoric about Mexican immigrants. He voted against Ryan’s health care bill in early May, knowing the toll it would take on the many poor, isolated constituents he represents. And he has emerged as perhaps the most vocal opponent of Trump’s plan to build a wall along the southern border, which he argues would hurt trade, send the wrong message and fail to keep out intruders."
                      • Action.
                        Open comment period on National Monuments. I've been seething that the Big Jerk wants to open up our national parks to development. I mean, I AM LIVID. The endangered list includes the first marine national monument in the Atlantic. GRRRR!!! There is more information on this here. And instructions for commenting here. First deadline is May 27!

                        Swing Left. In the 24 hours after The 217 voted for AHCA, they raised over $1 million to fund opponents of the most vulnerable Republicans in the House. Every time I get pissed off, I give money. 

                        Politico Massachusetts Playbook. It's clear that much is shifting back to the states under this administration so stay informed about what is going on in your state. Politico has a really informative and thorough newsletter that covers all things Massachusetts. They don't have one set up in every state but there are also New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, and Illinois newsletters available here.

                        Amy Siskund on Medium. She's keeping track each week of the things happening around us that are changing, as you may have seen is recommended by experts on authoritarianism. Week 26 is sobering -- 93 items on the list in ONE WEEK!

                        @ObamaPlusKids on Twitter. Just photos of President Obama with children. Trust me, you need this in your feed.

                      Extra Credit:

                      • The Pudding. Subscribe to this "weekly journal of visual essays." Displaying data in a visual way is awesome and it is amazing what people who have brains like this can do.

                      • Two stories of women using their hands to create amazing things that machines cannot make. I have said before that I have a huge fear of cylons and am very interested in the things that only human beings can do. Because those things will save us. Check out The Life-Saving Weaving of Bolivia's Indigenous Women and The World's Rarest Pasta is Made Entirely By Hand.

                      • Le Sigh. "A newsletter for people who are Le Tired of the internet." If you need to tap out for a bit, you'll learn all you need to know about pop culture from this low key, almost analog newsletter.

                      So I know I said I'd do these every two weeks and this one is a little over a week late. There was SO MUCH to write about that not only did I jam pack this issue, I almost have the next one done, too. See you back here in a week or so!

                       

                    • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 8

                      Hey, there! It's been two weeks and here I am keeping my commitment to post these bi-weekly. Super proud of myself for sticking to a schedule. Here's the latest ...

                      Thinking About:

                      • Martha Beck's YouTube video, "The Pyramid and the Pool: Why Things Are Better Than They Seem". While peace of mind is probably a long way off for most of us these days, hope is something we need to keep our lifeblood pumping through our veins. And the message in this video is all about that. My favorite part is when she talks about how an arrow needs to be pulled way back in the bow before it can zing off at a rapid pace. Hope we're as far back as we can go and the moment when we fly forward is just about to happen. Any minute now. I'm waiting. Go ahead. Zing. Forward. Still waiting.

                        (Before you watch this, let me warn you: Martha Beck is a little weird. She says some things in funny voices and can come across as rather woo woo. DO NOT LET THAT DETER YOU. She also uses science to defend and illustrate all her ideas. So no matter what side of the brain dominates your functioning, she knows how to explain her ideas so you'll get it.

                        I've also spent a Kripalu weekend with Martha and I can say she is the real deal. She radiates a rawness that made me seek seats in the back because I could not handle being so close to her up front. It is hard to explain and it does not come across in the video at all, but she is definitely vibrating on a different energy level than the rest of us.)

                      Thankful For:

                      • The right whales in our waters this time of year. Almost every day I end up somewhere where I can search the horizon for these super rare whales that hang out right off the beach each spring. They seem to have drawn large crowds lately and I feel bad for the people who arrive on a foggy day or a day when the whales have moved around the corner to feed. I see the hopeful visitors bundled up outside their cars with their giant binoculars scanning in desperation and I know today is not their day. I'm beyond grateful that I live here and have so many opportunities to catch these whales in action.

                      • That short spell of warm weather we had. Sunshine and mild temperatures change everything! We took the covers off our deck furniture, put the cushions out, and brought the flower pots up so I can start recreating our jungle retreat for the summer. We even spent the afternoon outside, sipping cocktails, reading magazines, and listening to music. And we had our first day drinking excursion in town. Summer, I cannot wait for you to arrive!

                      Watching:

                      • Newtown. This is one of the most heartbreaking documentaries I've ever seen. You probably can guess which side of the gun control issue I fall on, but you might not know that I grew up in gun country, where the first day of deer hunting season was a school holiday. Most people I knew had at least one gun in their house and the first time someone handed me a loaded gun to fire was when I was in first grade (by my best friend's dad at their hunting cabin. I refused.) I was the same age then as many of the kids who died in the Newtown shooting. 

                      • Great Big Story. You may have discovered some of these short videos yourself. I see them on Facebook and Twitter frequently. The topics are intriguing, usually positive, and beautifully shot. These three are especially wonderful: The Handmade Art of Tarot Cards, Mutts in Paradise, and More Than Dance: What It Takes to be a Hula Champion.

                      • Fire Island. OF COURSE I'm watching this! A few quotes from the first episode that I think they lifted straight from MY life out here in Ptown. 1. "She wants to go to tea, honey!" Pretty sure this is said at least once a week in the summer around here. 2. "They're like making out on top of me." Been there. 3. "Are you the ones who have a disco ball in your yard?" I've been asked this exact question quite a few times. 

                      Creating:

                      • Disco ball necklaces. SO, I made a proto-type of a necklace that I've been searching everywhere for, could not find, and decided to make myself. I'm thinking about maybe selling them, too. I'm operating in stealth mode right now but I'll definitely share them with you after I get a few more proof of concept samples together. 

                      Reading:

                      "Reading is not the thing you squeeze in with your other important tasks, it is the important task." - Ryan Holiday

                      • The California Sunday Magazine. I just discovered this magazine and it's longform stories about California, Western US, Asia, and Latin America. I subscribed to the email list so I could stay current on new articles. This article about chef Daniel Peterson and his not necessarily successful quest to bring healthy fast food to neighborhoods like Watts was the first one I read.

                      • The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. When people ask me what my favorite book is, I always say Crime and Punishment (currently $.99 on Amazon if you want to read it!) I read it once when I was 17 and have been terrified to read it again, certain the effect it had on me was limited to that very specific set of circumstances in my life. Books are meant for select moments in our lives and now, apparently, is the time for me to finally read Murakami. This book has been on my I MUST Read This List forever. I'm reading as little as 20 pages a day to make sure I don't get overwhelmed and run away from it. I'm all in, though. I subscribed to the Murakami email list and am listening to the playlist for the book as recommended.

                      Listening:

                      • Offshore podcast. Season two started several weeks ago, but I am still making my way through season one. Focusing on the killing of a local by a white recent arrival to Hawaii, the podcast reveals the very complicated issues around race there. 

                      • The Handmaid's Tale on Audible. I read this book in college and really loved it then. Now that the Hulu series is about to premiere, I figured I'd revisit it. Claire Danes is the narrator and we know how well she does tortured female roles.

                      • Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University podcast series "Seeing White." I was curious about this series and was sold when I heard Chenjerai Kumanyika ask why white people cringe when they hear the phrase "white people." Another eye-opener on race.

                      Eating + Drinking:

                      • Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend from Trader Joe's. Here's a little recipe I created: mix whipped cream cheese, shredded cheese (I use a blend of asiago, romano, and parmesan), and a sprinkling of this awesome seasoning. It's great with chips or pretzels and I bet it would be terrific with some crisp celery. I've also added diced ham to that mix on occasion. Also, looks like you can order it from Amazon.

                      • "Microwaving Your Tea Makes It Healthier." WHAT?? If you say so, I'll do it.

                      • The grilled romaine salad at Victor's with orange cranberry vinaigrette and baked goat cheese. I know this is only accessible if you come to Ptown, but the Mr. and I loved it so much! Another super yummy new menu item in town this season: the fava bean hummus, chickpea and olive tapenade, and whipped ricotta with grilled bread at Strangers and Saints. Delicious!

                      • "The Surprising Ingredient You Should Be Adding to Your Eggs." I tried this and can't stop now. Except I use coconut aminos (a soy sauce substitute.) It gives your eggs sort of salty sweet flavor. 

                      Learning:

                      • A new word. "Jeremiad" -- a long, mournful complaint or lamentation; a list of woes. Don't ask me to pronounce it.

                      Hyggeing:

                      • Method Kitchen Gel Hand Wash in Thyme. I've been finding excuses to wash my hands a lot. This stuff smells so good!

                      • Stephen sleeping in our bed. This is the ultimate hygge and I cannot believe I didn't mention it before. One of my favorite, favorite things in the world is when Stephen curls up in bed, his head on the Mr.'s pillow and his backside tight up against my back. It's the ultimate "I trust you. I got your back and you've got mine."

                      Loving:

                      • RadioPublic curated podcast lists. I've found so many one-off podcast episodes to listen to through their weekly curated lists. Like the Hidden Brain episode on stereotype threat featuring real life examples from professional poker player, Annie Duke (episode 3). And the two-part ArtCurious feature on the relationship between Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

                      Eliminating:

                      • Chemically processed hair. I last colored my hair in August of 2015. This week the last of the brassy, colored hair was cut off and I felt free! My silver seems to be limited mostly to the front and top (not quite a skunk streak like Kitty Bartholomew, but close enough.) When I put my hair up, it looks mostly brown. Either way, I like it!

                      Expanding:

                      • Our social calendar. With everything opening up again, the events around town have started to fill up my calendar! This past weekend we travelled down a dirt road to the Cape Cod Modern Trust open house at the Kugel/Gips House in Wellfleet. And Twenty Summers, a wonderful arts program held in a studio barn just up the road from where we live, starts soon. There is also a festival of public art set around town in natural surroundings and the weekly Friday night art gallery strolls start again. I should mention I've added a new widget at the bottom of each of my pages here that lists some of the fun things I have planned for the month.

                      Planning + Organizing:

                      • Our late fall/early winter trip. Location is still TBD, but it is definitely going to be to a country where Spanish is the primary language. I'm constantly planning trips and have maybe 20 or so in various stages (it's kinda my hobby.) I'm excited about this one because it may be quite different from the ones we usually take. Meaning we might split our stay, we might not be in an all-inclusive, and we may start trying to get a feel for what it might be like to live there. 

                      Resisting:

                      • This is the space that I usually use to express my view on some recent 45 shenanigans. I will be honest, I've had to shut it all out lately. I can no longer engage without feeling like I've been outfitted against my will with some serious lead shoes, my arms strapped to my sides, while the worst itch in the world is creeping down my back and I CAN DO NOTHING ABOUT IT. It is disheartening and soul-crushing. And it hurts like hell. All I can do is yell STFU at the screen any time he comes on it. Which I do. WITH GUSTO.

                      • Critical Reading.
                        "Can Democrats Cuss Their Way Back to the White House?" Whatever works, I say! (Also, see above.)

                        "Mexico's Revenge." 
                        Our relationship with Mexico is complicated and important. More so than I realized thanks to this article. "Unwinding this relationship would be ugly and painful, a strategic blunder of the highest order, a gift to America’s enemies, a gaping vulnerability for the homeland that Donald Trump professes to protect, a very messy divorce." Unfortunately, the man is not afraid of divorce.

                        "America's Most and Least Popular Governors."
                         Interestingly, the Top 10 are all Republicans. The most popular one (with a 75% approval rating) is our governor, Charlie Baker, who I will admit I really, really did not want to like. But I do, despite a couple of his missteps. For the most part he is fiscally conservative and leans rather liberal on social issues. He used to head up Harvard-Pilgrim and is well-positioned to understand the health insurance issues in our state. Recently, I received a solicitation to commit to supporting whatever Democrat runs against him in the next election, because apparently partisanship is everything. I declined. How does that game help anyone?
                      • Action.
                        STAT newsletters. These emails keep me informed about the latest news in the cross section space of politics and health.

                        Climate March. Our small town of 3,000 is having it's own climate march and rally on Saturday. I read that there are buses coming from all over the Cape. When you live at sea level, climate change is a very real issue. Our livelihoods depend on the health of the oceans, a robust fish and whale population, federal investment and care of the national seashore, and continued protections of the environment. And when our towns are underwater, guess where we'll move? Inland. Red Staters, the "coastal elites" will be moving into your towns. Better go march.

                      See you all back here in two weeks!

                       

                       

                    • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 7

                      Last week I had two wisdom teeth removed. I know, I was supposed to have those out ages ago. I just didn't do it. It was my first experience with IV sedation and I was OUT, like they promised. Not only out but, because we were talking about Jamaica before they slipped the magic nose mask on me, I thought that we were all in Jamaica when I woke up. They should have that stuff available for airplane flights! Anyway, I've been convalescing, eating SO many mashed potatoes, and thinking about and consuming a lot of stuff that I'll now share with you!


                      Thinking About:

                      • S-Town podcast. No spoilers, I promise. John B. McLemore has been sitting with me since the first few seconds his voice played in my earbuds. His curiosity, his brilliance, and his special talent for turning a phrase -- all so extraordinary. If you haven't listened to the podcast, make sure you have some time cleared on your calendar because you will want to get through the whole thing as quickly as possible. It's worth a second and even third listen the whole way through, too -- especially the first, second, and last episodes. John B. will change you.

                      • Jamaica's Minimum Wage. When we traveled to Jamaica a few weeks ago, we met some locals who had day passes to the resort we were staying at. One of them told us she worked at Half Moon Resort and we had an exchange about how Jamaica is paradise for us and the US is opportunity for them. We've seen the living conditions, the small roadside shacks, the lack of amenities along the seaside roads on the north and west coasts of the island.

                        The Mr. did some research on the minimum wage in the country and it turns out that an hour of my pay is equivalent to two weeks of a Jamaican's pay. Even taking the cost of living into consideration, that is some serious disparity. It is also some guilt-producing knowledge. I'll probably never figure out how to reconcile it for myself and will always feel discomfort when we travel. We ended up tipping anyone who did anything for us there. It's definitely the American thing to do but is it the right thing to do? 

                      Thankful For:

                      • Backhuggar and inflatable pillows. The last time we traveled, I had a serious pain flare-up and was really nervous it would happen again in Jamaica. But it DID NOT! Woo! I used my Backhuggar lumbar pillow on the plane (it's basically velcroed to my ass in real life as well) and these awesome waterproof cushioned pillows on my pool chair. If you have back issues, especially lower back pain and sciatica, I highly recommend you purchase these for your next trip. 

                      • Season openings! So many places are opening up in town and this special time between now and late May is to be savored. The weather is a bit better, the town is almost at full throttle, but there are only small crowds floating in and out on the weekends. We can still find a parking space, walk down the street without sighing loudly, and drive around without me swearing at the tourists. (Addendum: I swore at one yesterday. He was driving down the middle of Bradford Street, wheels across the yellow line! Our roads are super narrow to being with. Jerk.)

                      Watching: 

                      • 13 Reasons Why.  Lucky for me, the release of 13 Reasons coincided with my oral surgery so I binge-watched a bunch that day and the Mr. joined me for the rest the following day. He kept exclaiming, "this is awful!" But he did not move from that couch until it was finished. And he is NOT the fanboy type. The story gutted both of us.

                        Also, six hundred gold stars to Dylan Minette who played Clay in the series. He is the brilliant mind behind the musical selection. Joy Division, The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Alarm, Yaz -- all had me right back in high school myself. (If you are going to click on any link in this post, click on this one and make sure you play through all the songs. You can also buy the soundtrack on iTunes, but it's only an edited selection. I added a few more from the link to my playlist.)
                         
                      • Samurai Jack. A new season! I watched all the old episodes back in the day so I was psyched to see that we had some more trippy stories, weird creatures, and FANTASTIC artwork to view. The old theme song, performed by Will.i.am, is back, too.

                      • "Inside Japan's Tricked Out DIY Truck Culture." I am so disappointed that we don't have this kind of truck culture here in the US. I mean, all those trucks and not a single flashing light. I'm going to guess you'll spend most of the time while watching this short film picking out which truck you like the best and then planning what you'd do if you had your own. Because I totally did.

                      • Mexico Diseña. I watched this Project Runway-esque series on the flight to Jamaica and it turned out to be the perfect airplane entertainment. It's subtitled, so you can figure out what is going on even if you can't hear it super well over the hum of the plane, and each episode is only 20 minutes, which is about my max attention span on planes. I also really love the Mexican aesthetic, which was on full display in the show. You can watch it on Netflix. (Also, yay for being able to download stuff on the Netflx app. I loaded up before we left.)

                      Creating:

                      • The Obama Wall. For now, this only lives on my Pinterest board but I have plans to turn one of our walls into a shrine to happier, more sane days. 

                      Reading:

                      • Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn. I started reading this story about a Jamaican woman who works at a resort in Montego Bay while sitting at a resort in Montego Bay. Super meta. And it's not a sweet, nice story either. I started to feel guilty (see "Jamaican Minimum Wage" above) and then wondered where all the resort staff went when they left the resort at night.

                      • Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco. I heard about this book when Alyssa, formerly the Deputy Chief of Staff for President Obama, was on Pod Saves America. I loved how she hilariously held her own with those guys and her book is no different. There are funny stories -- usually at her own expense -- peppered with little tidbits of insight into Obama's personality.

                      • Hot Pod newsletter. For all the latest on the podcast scene.

                      Listening:

                      • Reggae Disco. When we were in Jamaica, I came across a Caribbean disco playlist on Apple Music and I fell in LOVE. (But I cannot find it again! Erg!) However, I did find this little nugget available on iTunes: Hustle! Reggae DiscoCarol Cool's cover of Diana Ross' "Upside Down" is on repeat around here.

                      • Serious Eats' Special Sauce podcast two-part interview with Marcus Samuelsson. Marcus has been on my list of Chefs I Love since he won Top Chef Masters. There are some great profiles of him out there like this one from CBS Sunday Morning. This particular interview underscores how fascinating his world view is. He shared that everyone in Sweden (where his adoptive parents raised him) had a summer cottage where they stocked preserved foods because they were afraid Russia was going to invade at any moment. Better get canning, my friends!

                      • Big Little Lies soundtrack. First, let's just talk about the opening credits of this show. I mean. The music. The scenery. The kids. The font. The bokeh. Reese's satin eye mask and earrings. Perfection! Second, the series was riveting and gorgeous and horrifying. If you haven't seen it, go binge it now. Third, the music! Removed from the show, I probably wouldn't listen to much of it except the "Queen of Boredness" track because it's disco-y and I generally listen to upbeat music with either lots of electronics, a good bass, or a reggae beat. But the music is like another character in the ensemble. Moody as all hell.

                      • Thievery Corporation's The Temple of I & I. The night before we flew to Jamaica, our friends, Brad and Allen, had us over to their place in East Boston (it is gorgeous, by the way.) They are especially thoughtful people, and in addition to mixing us cocktails and feeding us a much-missed Boston delicacy of Santarpio's pizza, they had this playing in the background. Trip-hop meets reggae was the perfect vibe to get us in the mood for our journey the next day. My favorite track has become "True Sons of Zion."

                      Eating + Drinking:

                      • Pappy Bourbon Barrel-aged Maple Syrup. File this under "Things I Gave to The Mr. as a Gift That Kinda Ended Up Being For Me." This is some of the best maple syrup I've had. Probably because it's been aged in Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon barrels. 

                      • Fried polenta. In my quest to find something other than mashed potatoes to eat while my mouth healed, the Mr. bought me some instant polenta. After cooling it in a container and cutting it into strips (like my mother taught me), I fry it up in some grapeseed oil with a sprinkling of sea salt (Salt Bae-style) and then smother the whole thing with the above Pappy syrup. SO good!

                      • "The Best Way to Butter Your Toast." Revolutionary! 

                      Learning:

                      • "How To Speak So Your Dog Will Listen." Stephen knows sit, out, walk, kiss kiss (his favorite), hydrate (I make him drink before we leave the house), treat, cheese, toy/squirrel/whale (interchangeable to him), Grandma and Grams, Tipper, lunch, wanna go home? and sometimes up up up and stay. He will NOT recall most of the time. I can get him to do it at the dog park when no one else is around or if it looks like we're going to do something more fun. I worry about dangerous situations when I absolutely need him to come to me for his own safety. So we are going to work on this! 

                      • How to type an eñe on my Mac. OK, sorry if I'm super late to the show and everyone knows how to do this, but I finally learned so I'm sharing! Hit option + n and the "˜" will appear. Then type "n." Tildes and accents (option + e). Take that Trumpy.

                      Hyggeing:

                      • Going to bed before the sun goes down. LUXURY! I love lying there in the cool blue light watching until everything turns black.

                      Loving:

                      • Waterproof Bandaids. I will never travel without these again. On our first night in Jamaica, we went on a little walk on the beach to check out the resort and the one next door that we were allowed to use. Now keep in mind, I've only worn sneakers for the last 7 months. I had the worst blister on the bottom of my foot by the time we got back. These truly waterproof bandaids saved my vacation. I wore them in the pool, in the ocean, and even to the spa for my pedicure. The adhesive is like superglue, which was great for my needs but also hard to remove when you no longer need it. Next time, I'm bringing two boxes!

                      • Jon Lovett's takedown of Jared Kushner. A burn of a thousand suns (you actually have to listen to the "After Nunes, Delight?" episode of Lovett or Leave It to hear the full rant) but this clip gives you a tiny taste plus the FUNNIEST comments about Tommy Vietor! 

                      • AHAVA Mineral Body Lotion in cactus and pink pepper. No matter what preventative steps I take before and during a vacation to a warm climate, I come back with alligator skin. Nicely toasted by the sun, but nevertheless dry AF. I've been using this yummy smelling lotion and it seems to be working, as long as I can keep Stephen from licking it off.

                      • Super Scooty on the gram. I LOVE SUPER SCOOTY! Check out his photos and videos and you'll see why this grinning disabled pup is on my go to list for Trump counterprogramming.

                      Eliminating:

                      • Dirty messes. It's spring cleaning time! This year, I'm committed to getting the inside of the house in order BEFORE the weather gets super nice and I don't want to spend any time in it. So far it's going terribly. But here are a few spring rituals you can try to jumpstart your own spring cleaning.

                      • Unused pharmaceuticals. So I am one of those people that never takes the "just in case" meds the doctor prescribes. I am super suspicious of any and all pills. I research them thoroughly and have even called the pharmacist when I'm feeling uneasy about potential side effects. I'm cleaning out our leftovers and taking them to the police station where they have a system for proper disposal. The Cape is an awesome place to live but we also have one of the worst opioid epidemics here. Best to have those drugs in the right hands.

                      Expanding:

                      • Flossing. I HATE flossing. It's weird and uncomfortable. After my recent tooth issue, I committed to doing it every damn day and have kept that promise (with maybe a few days off during our trip and a couple of days when my mouth was swollen shut) since January 31. They say if you do something for 30 days in a row, it becomes a habit. And now I also have this super cool syringe I got at my oral surgery check-up to flush out the bits. I do it like every 10 minutes. 

                      • Driving range. No, I'm not losing my title of The Only Person In The Family Who Doesn't Golf, but I am trying to see how far I can drive without pain. Ever since I had a horrible flare-up when I drove to an appointment at the pain clinic (seriously, that happened), I haven't driven any further than the Truro line. Someone has driven me anytime I've had to go anywhere outside of town, which is annoying to them and makes me feel bad. Lose-lose. Over the coming weeks, I'm going to expand my range. To Truro and back. To Wellfleet and back. To Eastham, Orleans, and on. I would really like to get my freedom back. Plus I have jury duty in May in Barnstable, which requires a solo drive.

                      Planning + Organizing:

                      • SunCalc. The Mr. and I decided we are going to use the flower beds in our backyard this year to try to grow some food. Once again, we have no idea what we're doing but I found this really cool website that shows the movement of the sun. I'm hoping it helps us figure out what to plant there. If not, it's perfect to figure out which side of the pool to sit on during vacations.

                      • Summer List. Last summer was my 25th summer in Provincetown and I planned to really celebrate! I even had an awesome hashtag: #supersilversummer. And then I had the worst flare-up to date and was house-bound for the entire month of June, was on medication so I couldn't sip my grapefruit Moscow mules through half of July, and then had a second flare-up at the end of August. SO, I'm making a special do-over list for the summer of 2017. (No hashtag yet. Ideas??) 

                      Resisting:

                      • Syria. I will only say this one thing. Whether or not 45 made the best choice in ordering missile strikes, there are always unintended consequences when we get involved in the Middle East. We haven't gotten it right yet. And I certainly don't think he has the brain power, knowledge, attention span, or moral character to be the one who does. 

                      • Critical Reading/Watching.
                        "Mitch McConnell, The Man Who Broke America." "No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government."

                        The Circus
                        , Season 2. Despite what you may think about access journalism being partially responsible for the current state of the media, The Circus continues to provide an insider's look at some of what is going on in Washington. I've especially enjoyed the quick conversations in the halls of Congress and the before and after moments of what we usually see on TV news.

                        "World Prepares to Move on Without US on Trade." You can't control the table if you aren't even sitting there. Or, stupid is as stupid does.

                        "Calling Donald Trump's anti-NAFTA bluff, Mexico is looking to get it's corn elsewhere." SEE!!

                        Jennifer Steen Booher's photographic Health Care series. I follow Jennifer's website because she usually makes beautiful collages with things she finds on the beach. Using pharmaceutical debris from people she knows to illustrate how expensive medical care is is a BRILLIANT departure. Check it out!

                      • Action.
                        Resistance School. Those Harvard kids! Always coming up with awesome stuff. If you love a good syllabus like I do, you'll find several here.

                        Read Across the Aisle app and PolarNews newsletter. If you are still attempting to get your news from a spectrum of political views, these two things will help. The Read Across the Aisle app uses degrees of color to indicate how far to the left or right a source is and provides direct links to those sites so you can quickly scan headlines to see what both sides are saying. PolarNews comes directly to your email and selects a few topics to show how differently the headlines, angle, and coverage are on the same topic. Quick reads for those with less time.

                        The Daily Yonder. Real stories from rural America. Views are not always what you think they will be.

                        Follow Junot Díaz on Facebook. Junot seems to post links to stories I don't find anywhere else. Also, if you haven't read his books, I suggest The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

                      BTW: I'm making a commitment to publish this newsletter every two weeks, starting today.

                       

                    • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 6

                      I had every intention of posting this before we went on our winter sojourn to Jamaica last week. No matter how much I plan, or how early I start, there is always one-more-thing-to-do-before-we-go. This time around, it involved an awful lot of overpacking. Lots on my mind lately ...

                      Thinking About:

                      • American Tourists. Right before we leave on our trips, I check the resort reviews on an hourly basis. Mostly I'm looking for confirmation that I'll have fresh papaya every day and for tips on where the quiet spaces are, but this time I found something incredibly bothersome. One person took the time to complain about the "homeless man" outside the wall of our resort. He even provided photos. On a separate site, another visitor mentioned the same "homeless person", sharing his name, the fact that he owned the land next door, that his family lives there, that he sells wooden carvings by the beach, and likes chicken patties. He even went so far as to encourage people to "show him some love." Guess which one is American? 

                      • The Human Genome Project. Have you ever wondered how the seemingly unrelated pieces of your life fit together? I spent a few years working at a biomedical research institute when they were working on the Human Genome Project, including that breathtaking sprint to complete the rough draft so it could be part of the public domain. Anyway, it came up several times recently. The first was when Eugene mentioned it on The Walking Dead. The second was on the cancer episode of CBS Sunday Morning. And the third was much more personal, as I received genetic counseling and considered genetic testing, which would never have been possible had that project not been completed. It is amazing how far we have come in such a short time and I worry that this administration is going to do irreparable damage to our science community and our collective health.

                      Thankful For:

                      • Modern medicine. I had eight medical appointments in February. Most of them were routine. One was scary. And I was able to see some of my insides, including all the bones and nerves in my head. All I can say is my orthodontist is a rock star because my teeth are neatly lined up in a orderly row. Also, part of my neck looks weird, which wasn't at all what we were looking at. But I am now obsessed with it. I have at least five more appointments this month and next. Depending on the results of one, there may be more. And, at least once a day, I say: "why don't they tell you these things about getting older?" I'm doing everything now because who knows what health insurance will cover next year. Make those appointments you've been putting off, friends! You never know.

                      Watching:

                      • Bold Questions from The Atlantic. These animated three-minute videos feature some wonderful people  -- like Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- talking about "the power of curiosity." My favorite is Chimamanda Adichie discussing "What Americans Get Wrong About Africa." 

                      • Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis. I'm always curious how people manage to survive the aftermath of tragedy. The lead singer of Eagles of Death Metal is best friends with the lead singer of Queens of the Stone Age (which I only know because Tony Bourdain had them on one of his shows.) This movie is as much about that incredible friendship as it is about what happened at the Bataclan in Paris that night. 

                      • Time: The Kalief Browder Story. Truth: I watch this because Jay-Z produced it. Anything he takes the time to do is worth investing in. Kalief spent 3 years in Rikers Island, much of it in solitary confinement, without a TRIAL. And he was 16 years old. Everything about that is horrifyingly wrong. 

                      • Kiki. Gosh, where do I start? This is an amazing documentary about LGBTQ youth who find their strength and home in the African American ball culture. Most of the featured people are trans. Their backstories will break your heart and their sparkly costumes and death drops will dazzle you. 

                      Creating:

                      • Disco ball purse. No idea why it took me so long to do this! I was playing around with my clutches for our resort trip -- adding a tassel or two here and a sparkly brooch there. It never occurred to me until now to attach one of my gazillion disco balls to one!

                      Reading:

                      • The Piglet 2017. I don't cook. I don't even read cookbooks. But I love following this bracketed cookbook showdown every year.

                      • "Why Humans Love Crispy Things."  It's evolutionary! All week in Jamaica, I kept saying I needed something crispy because, with the exception of the skin on the jerk chicken, nothing was crunchy. It also explains why I add toasted panko crumbs to EVERYTHING I eat. 

                      Listening:

                      • Songs from Zion from Kristine Alicia and Rorystonelove. After discovering this beautiful compilation of songs, I saw a short interview with Kristine Alicia who shared that "Zion" to her is peace. These songs are technically gospel reggae -- a lot of reggae songs are since "Jah," the Rastafarian name for God, is a frequent subject. I especially love her song "Key Lock," which is somehow simultaneously uplifting and melancholy. Also check out her video for "Freedom Fighters." It was filmed in 2015, but is so relevant to what is going on today.

                      • George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo on Audible. I recently finished his freaky short story collection, Tenth of December, just in time for his first novel and epic 166-person audiobook. Featuring people like David Sedaris, Julianne Moore, Megan Mullally, Jeffrey Tambor, and Ben Stiller, part of the fun is figuring out who is who. 

                      • Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi "The Four Seasons." You will recognize part of this from the theme song for Chef's Table. You may remember that I have a fear of flying issue that I've battled with over the years. One of the things that helps is classical music (and TV theme songs like Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, and Westworld.) I don't listen to it at any other time in my life but it engages the areas of my brain enough to distract it from any fear triggers. I'm sure there is some science to it!

                      Eating + Drinking:

                      • Throat Coat Herbal Tea. I developed a yucky hacking cough before vacation. In addition to some grape-flavored children's Dimetapp, this stuff really helped calm down the coughing. It's made with slippery elm (be sure to check the interwebs for any interactions it may have with other things you take.) 

                      Learning:

                      • Interesting fact: did you know that crossing your arms in front of your chest confuses your nervous system and can relieve pain?? With chronic pain, it was pretty easy to test this out. It actually works for low pain days. Adding this to my little box of tools.

                      Hyggeing:

                      • Heating my pillow with a heating pad. I sleep with a heating pad draped over my right side every night. Somewhere along the way I discovered if I turn it on and let it warm up on my pillow while I get ready for bed, it creates a nice toasty place to fall asleep.

                      Loving:

                      • CT as a dad. First, I am admitting that I am watching The Challenge, even though I said I wouldn't. But, come on! CT has a baby now! I have to watch that. Really, for all the terrible things this show represents, we at least have the positive evolution of CT from hotheaded Masshole who beat up everyone on every show to a mature-ish and responsible father. Contrast that with Bananas who started out as a d-bag and turned into an even bigger d-bag. No growth there.

                      • Sphynx 3-in-1 Anywhere Razor. This is the ultimate travel razor. It's ROUND and when you turn the dial you find a small spray bottle for water. Turn it again and you get soap. The last two turns each have a razor attached to them. Brilliant, right?

                      Eliminating:

                      • Carrying my phone around in the house. Do you do this? It's totally nuts, right? I'm trying to leave my phone in just one room so I'm not constantly checking it. Also, I lose track of it at least once a day. 

                      Expanding:

                      • Brushing Stephen's teeth. Stephen's vet has been on me to brush his teeth. Have you ever tried to brush your dog's teeth? Yeah. I started by feeding him his $25 toothpaste as a treat for a few weeks and then stuck my fingers in his mouth any time I could so he'd get used to it. We're now at a happy medium where he lets me do it but he's not super-psyched about it. For more information about why it is so important to my Boo Boo's health, read this article.

                      • Power Hour. I recently read about a technique to get stuff done, which is something that has challenged me now that I have all the time in the world to do things. It's a simple premise where you set aside one hour and crank out as much as you can. Simple, right?

                      Planning + Organizing:

                      • Next year's winter trip. We booked next year's trip already! We're going back to our favorite resort, our true love, Couples Negril. We've been there four times already but we haven't been there since 2014. 

                      • Preparation for Mercury going retrograde on April 9. Ever since the year I flew to Palm Springs on the first day Mercury was in retrograde and the whole airline system went down, stranding me in SFO for 8 hours, I plan my life around this. Call me Woo Woo, I do not care. But if you are truly interested, start with this really helpful article, "What to Do BEFORE Mercury Retrograde." 

                      Resisting:

                      • Speaking of the whole system going down, why aren't we all in the motherfucking streets??!!???

                      • Critical Reading/Listening.
                        "Is Donald Trump an Untreated Al-Anon?" One of my favorite pastimes is analyzing people and this one, my friends, this one is GOOD.

                        "5 Ways Not to Bite the Trump Hook."
                         First way: "Rather than scanning the environment for confirmation or denial of your worst fears, scan it for someone who could use a kind word or glance."

                        "How to Argue." Definitely listen to both episodes! In the first one, he shares the story of how he, a black man, befriended a Grand Dragon in the KKK. And the second one covers the techniques he's learned to talk to people who are bat-shit crazy, I mean, have different beliefs. I plan to watch the documentary about him, Accidental Courtesy, on Netflix soon.

                        "How an Immigration Ban Would Affect the Spice Trade." The things we take for granted. And, as I scream at least a few times a day now, "Trump RUINS EVERYTHING!!"

                      • Action.
                        Sign up for the NiemanLab newsletter. For interesting news about news. From Harvard.

                        Eat at a Sanctuary Restaurant. These places are actively resisting 45's deportation threats and advocating for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. They also promote a completely welcoming environment to everyone who eats and works in their restaurants.

                      Because so much is happening in the world and my brain is in overdrive, the next edition of this newsletter will be up soon. Thanks for following along!

                       

                       

                    • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 5

                      I am surviving. Not quite back to thriving, but surviving. So much crazy-making distraction right now. I'm really working on budgeting my engagement time and clinging to my lifesaver of a daily routine. How about you? 

                      Thinking About:

                      • Kogarashi. Someone added me to a Twitter list with this name. I'd never heard the word before so I did some research. Kogarashi means "leaf wilting wind" in Japanese and refers to the cold wind that lets us know winter is coming. Yeah, not exactly a list you want to be on. I have been re-tweeting an awful lot of progressive apocalyptic viewpoints so I suppose being added to this list is warranted. I prefer to think about it as being presciently aware of what's to come.

                      Thankful For:

                      • Everything I took for granted before. Talk about a smack upside the head! These initial non-Obama weeks have knocked the wind out of me. I've been trying really hard to be grateful for what we had and hope that the world's belief in the good parts of us is still there and will carry us through. Despite the general and pervasive cynicism in my core being, I am actually an optimist. (Shh! DO NOT tell anyone.) There's a tiny voice inside that always whispers: "things will get better; hang in there." Always. This usually means I have a tendency to stay too long at the party, which has cost me dearly over the years. This time, it's sustaining me. But, seriously, if you tell anyone, I'll deny it.

                      • A husband who brings me pizza instead of chocolate on Valentine's Day. Enough said.

                      Watching:

                      • Sing Street. You all HAVE to watch this movie! It's very John Hughes and it has all the good 80s music in it. Even Spandau Ballet! Basic premise is: boy meets girl. Boy wants to impress girl. Boy tells girl he's in a band. Boy then tries to figure out how to form a band. It is so good and will improve your mood by film's end. 

                      • Spy in the Wild. What is the budget for this show? The Mr. and I are mesmerized by these animatronic critters they place all over the world in animal habitats to SPY on real animals. Spy Otter is my favorite!

                      • Riverdale. I am a sucker for teen dramas. Although a show based on the Archie comics did not seem like an interesting premise, it has pulled me right in with it's mysterious intrigue, creepy twins, and unsolved murder. 

                      • The Missing. Season 1 was good, but Season 2 is FANTASTIC! It's twisty and engaging and confusing just enough to make you wonder what the hell is going on in every episode. The full season is available on STARZ.

                      Creating:

                      • New statement necklaces. I've been getting ready for Jamaica and usually end up buying a few (ok, A LOT) of new stuff for the trip each year. However, I made a commitment that I would take actions that would lead to less stuff and more money at the end of the year. I have a bunch of once-loved necklaces that I took apart to create just the right color combos for this year's outfits. Kinda proud of myself for that!

                      Reading:

                      • Carve the Mark. I'm a few chapters in and am really liking the sci-fi vibe and sparkly ethereal environment in this book written by Veronica Roth of Divergent series fame. 

                      • The Daily 202 and The Optimist from The Washington Post. As part of my effort to edit my world calamity intake, I've cut out a lot of reading. These two are terrific, though. 202 is very wonky and has lots of analysis and the guts I like. The Optimist is about everything else. ALL THE GOOD STUFF, friends. Like CBS Sunday Morning, or as we call it, The Happy Show.

                      • Alt-POTUS 45 (@IfHillaryHad) twitter feed. Written as if this was Hillary as President tweeting about her day. Funny. Always ends with what she assigned Bill to do that day. One of my favs:

                        "DAY 26: Still no Russian spies in my goddamn WH. Told Ryan/McConnell that they're fucking jokes. Sent Bill out to pick up some succulents."

                      • Discover by Revue. In past editions of Clamshell,  I mentioned a number of newsletters that I read. Check out this source if you want to find more newsletters on all sorts of topics.

                      Listening:

                      • Missing Richard Simmons podcast. Did you know he hasn't been seen in public since February 15, 2014?? The guy hosting the podcast used to be a Slimmons regular and even became friends with Richard. He's taking us on his search to find out why Richard dropped out of the public eye and stopped talking to his friends. I am SO intrigued!

                      • Twice Removed podcast. This isn't a Skip Gates kind of ancestry inquiry. The host takes a famous person (who is in the studio) through his family tree and finds a LIVING PERSON they had no idea they were related to. That person is hiding in another booth listening in until the big reveal. SO much fun! (Also I discovered my podcast player, Overcast, has a speed up feature that doesn't make people sound like chipmunks but cuts the listening time down. LOVE IT!)

                      • "Enjoy the Silence" by Ki:Theory from that Ghost in the Shell trailer. This is one of my favorite songs ever. Definitely takes me back to a time in my life that was raw. As if Depeche Mode wasn't emo enough, this version takes it to the extreme. And that movie? I'm in! Remakes all around.

                      • The "Stranger in Paradise" podcast episode of Radiolab. Trust me when I tell you that this story about raccoons in Guadeloupe is worth your time. 

                      Eating + Drinking:

                      • Trader Joe's Smoked Extra Virgin Olive Oil. So my doctor tells me I need to lose some weight (but my cholesterol is down despite all that butter and cheese I shoved in my face this past month!) Olive oil is a big part of that effort. I've never really liked salad dressing so I often drizzle my spinach with this and then grind some sea salt on top. Makes it taste like bacon. Whatever it takes, right?

                      • Pink House Alchemy Cardamom Syrup. True confession, I bought this for the Mr. for Christmas, but I seem to be liking it the most. There's a recipe on the bottle for a daiquiri that contains rum, this syrup, and lime juice. Hey, my doctor said women can have seven drinks a week. That's one a day!

                      • Epic Pork Cracklings, maple bacon flavor. So we won't tell my doctor about this one but they do come in a small bag. If you need some serious comforting, grab these. They leave some of the fat on the skin before they fry it into a puffed up crunchy crispy bit of pig. It is crazy delicious!

                      Learning:

                      • About foreign policy. The Crooked Media guys are literally carrying me through the wretchedness. Their newest podcast, Pod Save the World, is entirely about foreign policy and I am learning so much. Check out the first episode with Jake Sullivan, who was AT THE TABLE for the secret Iran deal talks. 

                      Hyggeing:

                      • Daily fires in the fireplace. Mid- to late afternoon is my time to sit down and enjoy a bit of quiet time. I've started throwing a log on the fire every day to help set the tone for that sacred time.

                      • Snuggling on the couch by the slider door with my sheepskin and fluffy blanket staring at nothing. Coincides with the above daily fire.

                      Loving:

                      • Method Body Wash in Lilac Blossom. This smells like a bottle filled with hope. Transports me to spring, which will be here soon, right?

                      • Goodreads Deals. I just discovered this! You can sign up here to get an email with special Kindle (and other eBook options) deals. Usually for $1-$3! AND if you keep a list of books you want to read on Goodreads, they'll email you when one of those books is on sale.

                      • Baby Foot. I've cut out regular mani/pedis since moving to the Cape and use this crazy gel in a plastic boot stuff at home. Be warned: your entire foot will peel (including the top) and usually a week or 2 AFTER you use it. So plan accordingly. Nothing worse than skin hanging off your feet at that special occasion.

                      Eliminating:

                      • My toxic morning routine. Morning news + vitriolic Facebook feed + rabbit hole of Twitter links = a very angry, cranky, and completely unproductive me! I still watch GMA, but only the first hour, and then off goes the TV. I also try to cut off FB at 8:00 am and then not revisit until later in the evening (THIS IS SO HARD!). I'm replacing all of it with silence (or podcasts), writing, and getting straight to what I need to do that day. 

                        Sidebar: I just want to go on record as saying I am supportive of anyone who needs to let loose with a finely crafted political rant on Facebook. What irks me more are the people scolding anyone who posts anything remotely political. They come across as completely unaffected by -- or worse, uncaring about -- the turmoil around them. I call them the Puppies and Unicorns crowd. PU!

                      • Where I express myself. Considering the above side bar, I've been grappling with social media frustration. Since this is a space I created for myself, independent of anyone else's expectations or rules, I'm going to use this space to share. Which means a likely more frequent posting schedule. (Also, these are getting very LONG so shorter and more frequent seems better.)

                      Expanding:

                      • My eBay shop!! Again, working on my less stuff, more money focus this year. There are now over 60 items for sale, with more to come. Below is a sampling of some of the items there. Check it out and feel free to send me a "best offer" idea if you want to haggle! I'm open.


                      • New Tag line for Juniper Disco. I recently changed the tagline on my website to "Dive in!" from "Amusements for people who would rather be poolside." I'm in more of an action mode than an escapism mode these days. Small change, but a better reflection of what people will find here.

                      • My first pair of Birkenstock's. Even in their resurgence in the 90s and more recently a few years ago, I avoided them. But now that I have issues that require appropriate footwear, I've had to rethink this. So I bought myself a pair through eBay -- the shiniest pair I could find. I now own teal metallic ones to replace my super cool teal metallic flat sandals I can no longer wear.

                      Planning + Organizing:

                      • Outfits for Jamaica. You'd think I'd have this down by now, but I don't. I'm struggling a bit this year trying to figure out what to bring. I usually go with a basic dress or linen pants/solid top and then go big with the shoes and accessories. I have swimsuits and kaftans all set, though. That took like 10 minutes. I think I'm just wanting to be comfortable this year and am a little sad about my shoes.

                      Resisting:

                      • What has surprised me the most. It's not the level of corruption, hate, and insanity that comes from the White House.  We saw so much of that on the campaign trail. But these two things have left me with my jaw regularly hanging on my chin:

                        1) The Off the Charts Incompetence. I've worked with Capital N Narcissists before (lucky me, right?) and they are usually able to be at the top because of the highly skilled, best-in-the-game people they surround themselves with -- the people who keep the trains running and clean up after them without complaining. Capital N's have a knack for finding people who will crawl on their knees through glass to please them. He seems to have the Uber Lackey part covered but not the Best in Show. This is what makes me certain that it is only a matter of time before the whole thing crumbles. Stay out of the way, friends, and be ready to swoop in and fix things. But, LORDY, what a colossal fustercluck!

                        2) GOP Ostriches. Despite the complete obstructionism we saw in the Obama years, I am still knocked to my knees by the la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you of the GOP in Congress -- especially around issues that impact us COLLECTIVELY as true believers in American democracy.

                        Chaffetz. Ryan. McConnell. If not the American electorate, the Universe will take care of you. I hear those who do nothing in the face of evil are on Floor 9, Ring of Hell.

                      • Critical Reading.
                        @RoguePOTUSStaff on Twitter. Unconfirmed, of course, but these tweets are REALLY interesting if this is what is going on inside the WH!
                        "The Best Thing You Can Do for Democracy in Trump's America is Read."
                         
                        Working on it.
                        "Seven Presidents are Better Than One: Why the Oval Office Needs a Round Table." Intriguing. Radical. Sensible.
                        "Peter's Choice." Another look at the Trump phenomenon. One teacher's view of one of his students.
                        "What It's Like to Work for the National Park Service Right Now." I've long wanted to be a park ranger at the Cape Cod National Seashore. My husband says I've totally romanticized it. But now they are badass rebels! Still, those uniforms ...

                      • Action.
                        "52 Things You Can Do in the First 52 Weeks of the Bad Guy's Presidency." Action items!
                        "This Website Allows You To Send Pizza to Protestors Around America." Totally up my alley.
                        Swing Left District RESEARCH Sign Up. ATTENTION INTROVERTS: here is the perfect opportunity for you! Swing Left is focusing on turning swing districts to the Dems. They need people to do reseach on these districts and you can sign up here!

                      Until next time, my friends! Keep on keepin' on.

                       

                       

                    • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 4

                      This week is the beginning of the end AND the beginning of the beginning. Change is hard. Especially change every ounce of your being is fighting against. I'm going to put a lot of extra effort into grounding myself, being thankful for where I am right now, and steeling myself for what is to come. Do whatever you can for yourselves this week, friends, and if you need a distraction, read on!

                      Thinking About:

                      • Friday. I won't be watching any inaugural activities. Although, I thought maybe I should since Hillary Made-of-Steel Clinton will be sitting there a few rows from the action, watching the whole thing up close. If she can do it, I certainly can from the safety of my couch with a bottle of vodka in my hand. BUT I decided I can't watch it happen. I can't watch the Obamas walk away. I can't bear witness. I just can't. So I've been trying to think of a good way to spend that day (here are some ideas.) I'll likely keep the TV off and figure out my outfits for Jamaica. That always makes me happy. How are you spending the day? 

                      • This time next year. I just read (actually skimmed) an article suggesting that you figure out how you are going to evaluate yourself at the end of the year. I looked at my 2017 list and saw that most of the things on there were grouped around a few themes. So here's what I came up with:

                        This time next year, I will ...
                        1. be physically stronger
                        2. have less debt and more savings
                        3. have less stuff
                        4. have used my free time to learn new things through reading and online classes
                        5. have established a daily writing and photography routine

                      Thankful For:

                      • Local places that stay open in the off-season. This time of year can be pretty brutal in this town as we go down to just a handful of open restaurants and bars. There are three that I am especially grateful for:
                        1. Spindler's. They just opened this past summer and are planning to stay open most of the winter (with a few weeks off starting this week.) The winter food menu is filled with things the Mr. and I want to try, like creamy chestnut bisque and ricotta gnudi. 
                        2. The Canteen. If you've been to Ptown, then you've definitely been here. This will be the first time they stay open in the winter. And not only that, they are serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, 7 days a week. AND they are offering delivery after noon! They also lowered their prices to accommodate the year-rounder budget. I admire their community spirit so much!
                        3. Blackfish at Local 186 winter pop-up. Last winter, Blackfish, a restaurant in Truro, set up shop in Local 186 for a few months. They also had a super fun trivia night downstairs in the Grotta bar once a week. We're so excited they are back again this winter!

                      Watching:

                      • Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang. WOW!! I watched a few of the sequences several times over. This is the most amazing artwork I think I've ever seen. And it's done with FIREWORKS. And super colorful biodegradable powder. Check it out on Netflix. 

                      • Sully. Even though you know what happens, this movie had me so tense. It is a wonderful movie about the most incredible situation. The footage of the real people and the real incident at the end will leave you in tears. What a story!

                      Creating:

                      • A birthday hat for Stephen. Keeping with my commitment this year to use what I already have, I'm working on a special birthday hat for Stephen. I usually buy these things because I am a terrible consumer of stuff. This year, the cordless glue gun I got for Christmas will be put to excellent use!


                      Reading:

                      • "Obama: The Ocean President". I'm having such a hard time letting this man and his family go. The ocean is our lifeblood out here and I am so grateful for his creation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the coast of the Cape. I can't imagine we'll make much progress under the new guy, but I am hoping we can maintain what we have. 

                      • The Long+Short magazine. I'm always looking for new sources of interesting information. There is a lot here for you to explore. Work is centered around themes such as "Spaces" and "Margins" relating to innovation. They have a newsletter you can sign up for, too.

                      • News and Guts. If you follow Dan Rather, you already know this is his latest project. I'm all in when it comes to that man and I can't wait to see what investigations he brings to light.

                      • Al Jazeera English. It is humbling how little I know about current events in the Middle East. The reporting this organization does is always eye-opening and I am finding their perspectives on what is happening here to be really important. If you haven't already, I strongly suggest you add it to your regular reading feed.

                      Listening:

                      • "The Disco Demolition Night" episode of the Undone Podcast. This podcast takes stories from history and finds new and unknown threads of the story that continue long past the headlines. This one has everything: disco, baseball, racism, entrepreneurship, chance, and house music.

                      • Curio.io. I will admit that sometimes I just cannot focus long enough to read some of the really interesting articles out there. With Curio you can listen to someone read them to you while you do the dishes! Articles are from The GuardianAeonLapham's QuarterlyThe PointNautilusThe IdlerOpen Democracy and other premium publications.

                      • Beastie Boys/Daft Punk Mashup. AMAZING! My favorites: "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" and "Disco Breakin."

                      Eating + Drinking:

                      • Hot cocoa with tahini. I've been adding a spoonful of tahini to my hot cocoa these days. It adds a slightly nutty flavor and a whole lot of mouth-feel. And probably some calories, too.

                      • Toasted panko bread crumbs. I somehow have become obsessed with toasting panko in a little olive oil and sprinkling them on everything! Mostly, I like a little crunch on my pasta or my mashed potatoes. But I even tried it on some reheated pizza. 

                      Learning:

                      • "Outdoor Photography for Smartphone." This is my January class from Skillshare. It's taught by a photographer for Surfer magazine and is something I do almost every day. So far, I've learned some new tricks and tips.

                      Hyggeing:

                      Loving:

                      • Free eBooks with Amazon Prime. Not sure if you are aware of this, but if you have Amazon Prime, you get to choose a free eBook every single month. Sign up to get the monthly email. They give you several selections to choose from. 

                      • Francis Mallman's instagram feed. I've been obsessed with this guy since I saw him on Chef's Table. There is something so appealing about food cooked over an open fire in Patagonia made by a gaucho chef wearing a poncho who reads books aloud to his family and serves his food by candlelight in the outdoors. 

                      Eliminating:

                      • Stuff. So I've started listing a few things on eBay. I have quite the resort wear collection that I really need to whittle down and I also have shoes I won't be able to wear anymore (mostly wedges and super flat sandals.) I SOLD my first pair yesterday and am working on posting a few things every day. I have some Kate Spade, some J Crew, and a few Calypso St. Barth sandals to photograph and post.

                        If you want to see what's up there now, my eBay page is here. It's very rudimentary right now, but my goal is to make it more appealing by the end of the month. I'll likely switch over entirely to a fixed price model in the coming week. For those of you reading here, click on the Best Offer button and I'll give you a break if you mention you saw this on Juniper Disco.

                      Expanding:

                      • Side Hustles. So I don't actually have a Main Hustle just yet. Minor detail, but I have found some easy ways to make some extra cash. This is one that might appeal to many of you:

                        Achievemint
                        . Have a FitBit? Might as well earn some cash for all those steps you are taking. I love that you can kind of just set it up and forget about it. ALSO!!!: You get an extra 250 points if you sign up using my special referal link here. 

                      Planning + Organizing:

                      • Lifetime Travel. I want to pose this question to you: have you put any thought into your Absolute Must places to visit? After last year's events, I realized I really needed to get serious about planning those important once-in-a-lifetime trips. The older you get, the more physical limitations are going to spring up. It IS going to happen to you, my just about or actually middle-aged friends. I'm not talking about the oh-that-would-be-cool locations. I'm talking about the my-soul-will-ache-for-all-eternity-if-I-don't-get-to-go-there destinations.

                        Here are mine (Pinterest board links included for you to visually peruse):
                        1. Sardinia. Oh, magical Italian island with the crystal blue water and rounded-by-the-wind stones, how I MUST see you. This may be a milestone birthday trip.
                        2. Uruguay. I blame Tony Bourdain, Francis Mallmann, and House Hunters International for this one. Steaks over the fire. Gauchos. Ponchos. Open terrain. Socially liberal culture.
                        3. Spain and Portugal, especially Barcelona. Tapas and architecture. Architecture and tapas.
                        4. Croatia. Clear blue water.
                        5. Cross-Country trip of the US. Mostly: Lake Tahoe, kitschy road-side attractions, Fallingwater, seafood shacks, Big Sur, swimming holes, and Mackinac Island.

                        Give it some thought and let me know what is on your Absolute Must list!

                      Resisting:

                       

                       

                    • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 3

                      Happy New Year, everyone! I am jazzed up and ready to go. So let's do this!


                      Thinking About:

                      • 2017. This is the first year that started without that usual fresh! clean! slate! optimism of every other year. Even our drunken NYE toast at midnight ended with "until the bombs start falling." While we are all learning to live with a heightened base line of anxiety, I decided to make a goal list this year that would give me a framework to cling to. It took only a few minutes to come up with 17 specific things I wanted to commit to for 2017. Here's a small sampling:

                        1. Use what I have. (like reading the books already on my Kindle)
                        2. Listen to podcasts during the day. (rather than have TV on that I'm not watching)
                        3. Sell or donate extra stuff in the house and get rid of our external storage unit. 
                        4. Write 5 days a week.
                        5. Never use the new President's name or repost his words. Refuse to be a part of his propaganda mechanism.

                      • Forest bathing. I once heard that if you see or hear something at least three times, you should pay attention to it. I kept seeing references to forest bathing (a Japanese concept) and have become quite enamored with the thought that spending time in nature can be considered luxurious enough to be categorized as "bathing." For a quick hit on the topic, read this article.

                      Thankful For:

                      • Holiday time with family and friends. It's not always Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood with us and it can feel unruly enough that I ask myself every year why we choose to host. But we do laugh. A lot. This year was all of that and I'm grateful for it.

                      • My endodontist. Just before Christmas, I started to feel a terrible pain in my jaw all the way up to my ear. Turns out my filling had fallen out and I had an infected tooth. My dentist sent me to the best specialist out there who was able to do a root canal in under an hour. What was supposed to be a two-visit procedure was done in time for me to enjoy our Christmas Roast Beast! And I felt very little pain during and after the procedure. Yay for smart people who go to school for a million years so they can fix us!

                      Watching:

                      • The OA. I'll try to keep this spoiler-free. I SO loved this show!! It pulled me in and messed with my head and then whacked me in the face and dumped me back out confused and inspired and wondering what just happened. Watch it and see if you can shake it from your head afterwards.

                      • The 100 (Season 3). As a huge fan of Battlestar Galactica and a total AI-skeptic (I even refuse to speak to Siri and removed that Cylon from my phone), I am finding The 100 to be a great story in the BSG-tradition. 

                      Creating:

                      • Pom pom rug. I started making one over the summer when I was stuck in the house during my flare-up. I hope to have it done this winter.

                      Reading:

                      • Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders. I have had this book of short stories on my list forever. They are whacky and at times hard to figure out but they are intriguing. The first story about an attempted abduction continues to unsettle me.

                      • Latterly 2016 Anthology. With essays from independent journalists around the world, Latterly has gathered their best from the year like "They don't want food. They want seeds" (about Haitian mistrust of institutions).

                      • A Year to Clear. I like year-long projects. One of my favorites was the 365 Photo Project that I completed several years ago. This one is all about space-clearing, which seems to be especially relevant to me right now. I like having a prescribed format that details something for me to do each day in making progress towards the goal. So far, it's a lot of thinking. 

                      Listening:

                      • Radio Lab's More Perfect podcast. I am learning so much listening to this. Each episode features an issue or case that impacts the Supreme Court. The first episode on the death penalty and lethal injection had me hanging on every word. And the episode entitled, "Kittens Kicked The Giggly Blue Robot All Summer," will have you laughing while you learn some important history about the court itself. You may even find yourself singing the theme song the rest of the day.

                      • The Ta-Nehisi Coates episode of The Ezra Klein Show podcast. I found myself rewinding parts of this discussion so I could hear it again. I have Coates' Between the World and Me on my 2017 reading list but I'll read it with different eyes hearing his thoughts on it.

                      • Anjunadeep 08. I'm a longtime Anjunadeep compilation fan. There are a few tracks at the beginning that I don't care for but, after that, it settles nicely into that trance-producing background music perfect for writing or reading or doing absolutely nothing.

                      Eating + Drinking:

                      • Thrive Market. Even though we try to buy local, it can be hard to get some things in the offseason out here. I've been a member for over a year and order some speciality items from there every couple of months. My favorite items:

                        1. organic turkey bone broth -- I make a super easy lunch meal out of this. I boil it with some ditalini and then add olive oil and parmesan chunks. Eat with some buttered crusty bread and you have yourself a hygge of a lunch.
                        2. Lesser Evil Organic Himalayan Sweetness Popcorn -- It's made with coconut oil so you have that slight coconut taste with a salty-sweet flavor. Unlike anything else I've tried!
                        3. Epic Chicken Sriracha Bars -- Oh my gosh are these good! They are perfect for travel snacks -- lots of protein, lots of flavor, and it feels like you've eaten a meal.
                        4. Nutiva Organic Hazelnut Spread -- GREAT organic alternative to Nutella. Better for you and they have a yummy dark chocolate version.

                      Learning:

                      • Skillshare. Another intention I have for 2017 is to take a Skillshare class on something new every month. They have a special for the first three months of this year: 99 cents for three months of access.

                      Hyggeing:

                      • Sitting in the almost dark with only the glow of the fire and Christmas tree lights.

                      • Living in fleeces, yoga pants, and wooly socks.

                      • This Gingerbread Maple candle.

                      Loving:

                      • This Jojoba Oil. I read an article that said that jojoba oil is as close to our natural facial oils as you can find. So I started using it as a moisturizer every day. Stephen is constantly licking my face so I was worried that anything I put on my skin would harm him and this stuff is safe. A little goes a long way!

                      Eliminating:

                      • Non-essential TV. I am a story junkie. I'm trying to shift away from having the TV on in the background (terrible habit) and put on music or podcasts. There is so much fantastic TV these days, though, so I'm working on getting rid of shows that I've been watching out of habit (yep, even the Kardashians!)

                      Expanding:

                      • My support efforts for fellow chronic pain sufferers. I recently joined a Facebook group for people who suffer from nerve pain similar to mine. There are over 18,000 members. 18,000! I've started responding to people's posts with my own experience if it seems it might be helpful.

                        I'm also learning how I can get more involved in advocacy for pain research through the American Pain Society. Did you know that there are 100 million people who suffer from some form of chronic pain? And the NIH only spends about 1% of its budget on pain research initiatives? With the anti-research/anti-science administration about to take office, it's even more critical to get involved right now! 

                      Planning + Organizing:

                      • Excursions in Jamaica. I have spent every one of my birthdays since turning 40 in Jamaica, except for one when we were in Mexico. I've done something cool every year like a private dinner on the beach, had jerk chicken and a lobster fresh from the sea with locals in a shack, watched the cliffdivers at Rick's, toured around Negril's bars on the One Love Bar Crawl bus, and had the best taco dinner in the world that cost us all of $13. I'm looking at things like handfeeding hummingbirds, floating around a bioluminescent lagoon, and having a fancy-more-than-$13 meal at Half Moon. Luckily my birthday is early in the trip so sand gravity will not have a huge hold on us quite yet. It all depends on my physical condition that day so we'll see how it goes!

                      • Operation Bubble Wrap. The only way I'm going to make it to Jamaica and back is if I bubble wrap my entire body. I've been trying to work out the logistics of not being able to carry heavy bags, but needing to bring extra support items -- like my folding canewaterproof inflatable pool pillows so I can sit comfortably in the sun with my fruity cocktail for more than 15 minutes, heating pads, and heavy-ish orthopedic sandals. I may need to do several trial runs here with my suitcases before we travel in March.

                      ******

                      I've added a new section below that covers all things political, controversial, and/or potentially upsetting to the kumbaya, can't-we-all-just-get-along, I-want-my-Facebook-feed-to-be-nice-again crowd. But that's not you, right? You're strong enough and engaged enough to read it.

                      Resisting

                      • Anti-intellectualism and populism. I've been reading about Poland's strong populism movement and it's subsequent transformation away from democracy. I've been thinking about all those books I read about China's Cultural Revolution and the destruction of so much of the best that humans add to this world. I watched the movie, Woman in Gold, a film about Nazi-stolen art and the fight for repatriation. I even read this slightly light-hearted but actually serious article that blames the TV show, Friends, for our current situation and calls for action to protect the nerds. And I've been thinking about the stark contrast between that guy I went to high school with who keeps posting memes about liberalism being a mental disease and climate change being fake vs. well, everyone else I know who is interested in the world. It's made me recommit to reading and learning and supporting others who do the same. 

                      • Critical reading. So much good reading out there right now. Here are the articles that had the most impact on me recently:
                        "Want to Actually Change Someone's Mind on Social Media? Do This." Apparently, it's possible.
                        "Anthony Bourdain: The Post-Election Interview." Reassuring in it's pessimism.
                        "How Trump Could Slow Medical Progress." Terrifying.
                        "The Anxiety of a Strong Mexican-American Neighborhood." Real people, real consequences.
                        "Putin's Real Long Game." If you read just one, make it this one. (Also, High School Guy, give this one a shot.)

                      • Action. For those of you who kept telling me that you support same sex marriage, now is your time to prove it. You insisted there was no reason to worry about this under That Guy. YOU WERE WRONG. Read up on the First Ammendment Defense Act here. Seriously, read it! Basically, it allows anyone who has a "moral conviction" about how you live your life to discriminate against you. And don't think you'll be protected if you live in a cool state like Massachusetts. 

                        There are currently 172 co-sponsors in the House, and 37 in the Senate.

                        PLEASE contact your rep to make sure they know you want them to take a stance against FADA when it is reintroduced in the House! And for those of you who told me you supported same sex marriage, now is your chance to prove it to me. So make those calls!

                      I'm hoping these posts will be more frequent this year. There is a lot going on in this world and we need to support each other. And suit up! We've got work to do.

                       

                    • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 1

                      Oh, hey, there! I've been missing this space and am making an effort to get back to it. Truth is I've never really been gone -- I've written over 25 draft posts in the past year or so. I just haven't hit "publish" in some time. With this post, I'm dipping my toe in slowly using a format that other bloggers (or whatever we are calling ourselves now) use. You'll find it somewhat reminiscent of my weekly Random Series

                      Thinking About:

                      • The election. Sigh. I'm with her. Like you, I've had every feeling on the emotion spectrum and I'm ready to vote NOW. I'm skipping this next debate and I'm actively doing everything I can to remove his voice and his words from my life. I gain nothing from continuing to listen to him so I'm turning inward and towards like-minded people. I worry about what is next for us as a society and, like many women, I'm tired of staying quiet. 
                      • The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere. Did you see that sneak peak??? I gasped at the end! I have this feeling they are taking Daryl from us -- Norman Reedus has been giving off some weird vibes in interviews lately. However, he did use the word "we" the other day in talking about this upcoming season. Maybe because I've conducted hundreds of exit interviews, I know people start to use "they/you" and "me", rather than "we" as soon as they give notice. It's some sort of psychological separation preparation. Anyway, we shall see very soon. (And how about that latest issue in the Whisperer Wars? SO GOOD!)

                      Thankful For:

                      • I've had a tough run this year with chronic (and debilitating) pain. Right now I'm grateful I'm currently in a low pain period and that I've learned to manage it for the most part. I still live in fear of a sudden flare-up (I've had four in a year) but I have a responsive medical team, a pretty large toolkit of countermeasures, and a much better understanding of how my body reacts.
                      • My dog, Stephen, and I have been able to go on little adventures this fall. Sometimes it's just a romp at the dog park, a long drive through the dunes, and a few serene moments looking for whales and seals. Other times it's exploring new places, depending on how I'm feeling that day. I'm grateful to be mobile enough again to enjoy our time!

                      Watching:

                      • With All Due Respect and The Circus: Inside the Greatest Show on Earth. Back to that election. I am finding that I cannot stomach most news channels anymore but these guys are entertaining, fair-ish, and focus more on the strategy around the election process. WADR is on Bloomberg Politics every day at 5:00pm (EST) and The Circus is on Showtime on Sundays at 8:00pm (EST). It's worth going back and watching all the episodes on demand. It is FASCINATING!
                      • Longmire. I am not a cowboy hat kind of person but this show is really entertaining. I started watching because I love Lou Diamond Phillips on Talking Dead, my weekly therapy show. And I love that Starbuck is on it! I'm on Season 2 and am thrilled there are 3 more seasons to binge after that.
                      • The Hallmark Channel. There is nothing safer or more heartwarming than a good Hallmark Channel movie. I've been eating up the fall movies and am ready for the holiday season to start with the first movie on October 29. It's terrific counter-programming to the election coverage.

                      Creating:

                      • My Halloween costume. Halloween is a BIG deal in Ptown. I've heard they have a group of people practicing the Thriller dance to perform on the streets at random times that weekend. This year, I'm building my costume around a colorful payette sequinned kimono I just had to buy. I also have a large feather headdress. 
                      • Election Night outfit. Our Election Night plans changed recently (see below) so now I have to make some Hillary Victory gear to wear on Election Night. I'm thinking a glitterized Hillary-circa-1992 headband that's multi-dimensional and lights up!

                      Reading:

                      • FiveThirtyEight.com. Yes, more election stuff! I check this page several times a day to see how Nate Silver and his gang are crunching the numbers. Apparently, I am not alone.
                      • Email newsletters. Every week I look forward to reading the newsletters I subscribe to from various writers. There is something more intimate about their writing in these -- perhaps because the trolls can't comment. Here's a few that I like: Zen at PlayOf a KindThe Smash, and 3191 Notes.
                      • How to Live a Good LifeI just started this and am planning my week around finishing it. I like a good self-help book, especially when it's built around a concept that speaks to me. Who doesn't want to live a good life?

                      Listening:

                      • Keepin' It 1600 podcast. Yes, even MORE election stuff. This one has me belly laughing all the way through. It features four former aides to President Obama — Jon FavreauDan PfeifferJon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor -- who are super smart, know their stuff, and are hilarious together. Warning: if you don't have liberal leanings, you might not find the humor in it.
                      • The Magic Pill. This 10 minute podcast is all about exercise, but I promise you it will inspire you to do little things that turn into big things. There are 21 episodes of really interesting tidbits about how just a little bit of movement can improve your health.
                      • And speaking of podcasts, I just switched to the Overcast app to listen to these. It's easier to organize your listening (playlists!), especially if you are like me and listen to all sorts of random stuff.

                      Eating + Drinking:

                      • Apple cider. I've been drinking it by gallon. Yes, I know how much sugar is in it. I don't care. (Bonus tip: The Trader Joe's Spiced Cider is fantastic when it's heated.)
                      • Pear mules. Hat tip to my friend, Allen, for discovering these. I'm switching out my summer grapefruit vodka for pear vodka and adding a little ginger beer and some simple syrup. DELICIOUS!
                      • Immaculate Baking Company cinnamon rolls. We used to live right behind a Whole Foods and since we left Boston, haven't done much shopping there (the closest one is 45+ minutes up Cape.) But occassionally we have to make trips to the big city of Hyannis and I grabbed a roll of these. SO cinnamon-y! The best in a tube I've ever had!

                      Learning:

                      • Online courses on finances. One of my commitments this year has been to pay more attention to my finances. I hate talking about money so, so much. I know enough to pass for an adult but it's time I get better versed. A couple of courses so far: Heal Your Money Karma and 5 Steps to End Regrettable Spending.
                      • The Tarot. Not sure why, but I've gotten interested in learning more about tarot cards. I started using the Golden Thread Tarot appwhich allows you to pull a card each day and log your response to it. It's really interesting and is eerily reflecting what is going on in my life. I'd like to learn more and plan to buy a real deck and keep learning through this online course: Read Tarot Cards Like a Pro.
                      • My succulents had tons of babies this summer and I'm learning how to harvest and repot them. I think everyone will be getting succulent babies for Christmas this year!

                      Hyggeing:

                      • Fall scented candles lit at all times.
                      • Fluffy ivory blankets in a basket in the living room.
                      • Roaring fires in the fireplace more nights than not.

                      Loving:

                      • Provincetown in the off-season! I'm parking under "no parking" signs, trespassing on private property to satisfy my curiosity, and walking confidently into restaurants without a reservation. We're starting to catch up with our winter friends and the off-season activites -- like trivia nights -- begin in a couple weeks. 
                      • Canopy. Have you seen this site? People find the coolest, most design-y things on Amazon and then post them in one place for you to peruse. No more culling through the ugly.

                      Eliminating:

                      • With the uncertainty of my ongoing nerve pain, this has been the year of missing out. I've had to cancel so many things, including a September retreat in Sandwich and the entire film festival in June. And we are, alas, cancelling our trip to Cabo in November. The flight is too long for me and, since one of my flare-ups was on our last trip to Mexico, we're playng it safe. I've somehow learned to deal with disappointment this year and am now prioritizing day-to-day wellness over carpe diem fun. It's hard, though.
                      • Normal footwear. No more flat sandals for me, friends. I've been replacing my shoes with orthotics and supportive sneakers. It's been hard to find cute shoes that meet my new criteria but I'm taking it as a challenge. If you find any, please send them my way. I will not be wearing ugly shoes.

                      Expanding:

                      • My exercise routine. One of the things that helps the most with my nerve pain is my regular stretching and core strengthening routine from my physical therapist. I do it every day -- no matter what. I'm also getting my steps back up. It used to be really easy to hit 10,000 steps each day before my pain but now I struggle. I hope to get back to a place where I can easily get those steps in again.
                      • An income gig. Notice how I did not say job or career. I'm totally changing my approach to work and am looking to build more of a portfolio career --a little bit of this, a little bit of that  -- for now. 

                      Planning + Organizing:

                      • I'm currently in the last stages of the post-summer switch over. We still have some warm days in October (70 degrees this week!) so we don't put everything away until November. This past summer, I planted over 50 PLANTS in planters around our deck and front porch. I'm trying to figure out where to put some of them inside our house now. I hate to see them die.
                      • I've been thinking about doing an online sale of some of my summer sandals and clothes that I can no longer wear. I've seen Instagram auctions but I think I might find a way to do it here in some way. If you wear a size 9 shoe, you are in luck because I have tons of never worn or barely worn super cute sandals to share. Stay tuned.
                      • We booked a trip to Costa Rica for next spring but we're thinking we need to postpone that for another year while my body continues to heal. While I have no interest in ziplining or things of that ilk, I do want to see toucans, sloths, and monkeys while we are there. So, I am currently in research mode for a new destination within a four-hour or so flight range. I think I may have found it but if you have any ideas, please let me know!

                      I hope to make this a regular (monthly? bi-weekly?) series and to push out some of those drafts I've been saving. There are photos of two amazing trips to Mexico we took, a pretty intense and personal tome on a family issue we faced this past year, lots of info on my battle with pain that I think others might find useful (it was hard to find really helpful practical advice when I needed it), and various observations about life out here at the end of the world. So thanks, DJT, for compelling me to share my thoughts and writing again!

                      Oh, and I started a new section here at the bottom of each post that gives you a little list of the things I have planned for each month, sort of like my Calendar posts from years past.

                      Thanks for reading! See you back here in a bit!