• 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.



    • 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!)


    • 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.


    • 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."
      "They worked in silence, only the noise of exuberant natural Florida filling their ears, the unafraid birds, the seethe of insects."


    • 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!


    • 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.


    • 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." 



    • 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.


    • 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.


    • 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.)


    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. 


    • 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!"


    • 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.


    • 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.


    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!


      • 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.)


      • "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!


      • 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.


      • 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?


      • 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.


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

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

      Planning + Organizing:

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

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

      Fur Mama-ing:

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

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

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

      Extra Credit: 

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



    • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 20

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

      Godspeed, everyone! LET'S DO THIS THING!


      • 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.


      • 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.


      • 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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

      Planning + Organizing:

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

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

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

      Fur Mama-ing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Extra Credit:

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

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

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

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

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

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

      NOW, GO VOTE!


    • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 19

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

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


      • 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.


      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.


      • 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.


      • 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!


      • 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. 


      • 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.


      • 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


      • 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.


      • 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. 


      • 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!


      • 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


      • 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!


      • 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 ...


      • 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:


      • 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.) 


      • 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.



        • 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. 


        • 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.


        • 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.



        • 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.


        • 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.


        • 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.


        • 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.)


        • 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!


        • 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."


        • "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.


        • 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. 



        • 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. 


        • 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! 


        • 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 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. 


        • 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!


        • 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.)


        • 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.


        • "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.


        • 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.


        • 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!


        • 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.


        • 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.


        • The 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.")


        • 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!


        • 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.


        • 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.


        • 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.


        • 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.


        • 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:


        • 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.


        • 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!


        • 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


        • 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.


        • 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.


        • 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!