• a few fun things

    This is a little bit how I feel about having our own milk cow: both incredulous and giddy. 

    It’s not perfect (I’m mad about the cream), but it’s still pretty awesome.

    ***

    What We Spent Our Money On. (New York Times) I love talking about personal budgets — the intricacies of how we save it, spend it, give it — and would freely tell all here, except, I am told, hearing people talk openly about their finances is a little bit like watching someone run around naked: horrifying, disturbing, and culturally inappropriate. So I don’t.

    ***

    Here’s another fun New York Times article: the invisible greenspeople and what they do, all about the people who create the landscaping for movies, like moving whole trees(!) The backstory of art-in-the-making is, I think, maybe even better than the final product. Does everyone feel like this or am I the only one? 

    ***

    I mentioned that my older son skipped our family road trip in order to go to Hawaii with his friend, a week which was, according to him, “arguably the seven best consecutive days of my life.”

    photo credit: Theo

    He rented a beefy motorcycle and solo toured the Kauai Coast, went on a rafting tour, and skydived. (His friend’s parachute didn’t open — GULP — and the instructor had to pull the emergency chute’s ripcord.) 

    hitch-hiking

    When we were hiking down the Beehive, he called to talk: six hours earlier than us, he was hiking up a mountain by himself in the pitch black to see the sunrise. There are wild boars here, he said. I don’t care, I said. I’m getting over a near-death experience myself.

    Hearing his tales, I was reminded of what I’d told my kids after our Belize vacation went horribly awry. “You have your whole lives ahead of you in which to explore the world and find the best coral reefs,” we said. “When you find them, send us photos, ‘kay?” 

    So then my son one-upped me and made a little video. Enjoy! 

    This same time, years previous: so you’re thinking of homeschooling.., Vieques!, weekending, continued, the summer’s first trip, creamy cauliflower sauce, when the wind blew, berry almond baked oatmeal.

  • fruity whey popsicles

    Hey-hey! Quick pop in here to point out the obvious: it’s hot. Out on the West Coast it’s apocalyptically hot, and here it’s just regular hot, but either way it’s hot. Things are looking up, though! At least for here — by Friday we’ll be topping out at 75 and I’ve made exciting plans to run the oven all day. 

    In the meantime, I made popsicles. These aren’t just any popsicles, mind — they’re whey popsicles.

    Wait! Don’t leave! Hear me out! 

    I know I said I tried whey in tea and didn’t like it but then I checked a milk book out of the library and it had an innovative recipe for whey-based popsicles and it actually sounded good so I tried it and they were so here I am, eating — or slurping — my words. 

    Actually, I haven’t eaten a single popsicle yet. But! After I got done filling the popsicle thingies, I used the leftover juice to make a drink and it was all sorts of yum.

    So with this recipe, you’ve got two options: beverage or snack. Or — and I haven’t tried this yet — add the juice to a fruit smoothie, or freeze it in ice cube trays to later fancify some lemonade, or drizzle it over vanilla ice cream or pancakes, or, or, or…

    You get the point.

    P.S. I had a popsicle this afternoon while standing on the deck and watching a storm blow in (and then miss us). The popsicle was creamy and tart and fruity and delicious and refreshing. All the boxes, ticked.  

    Fruity Whey Popsicles
    Adapted from a recipe found in Milk Made by Nick Haddow and Alan Benson.

    The original recipe called for roasted plums but you can use whatever you have on hand: strawberries, cherries, blackberries, etc. I used about five cups of frozen red raspberries, simmered with a bit of water on the stovetop until soft and jammy, and then pressed through a sieve to remove the seeds. 

    I used whey from making yogurt cheese (more on this soon); of all the wheys I’ve tried, this one, I think, tastes the most mild and sweet. 

    4-6 cups fruit
    2 tablespoons looseleaf black tea
    ½ cup sugar
    2 cups whey

    Roast the fruit, or simmer in a saucepan over low heat, until jammy and soft. If needed, add a bit of water to the fruit so it doesn’t dry out. Press through a fine-mesh sieve to remove seeds and/or skin. 

    In a separate kettle, simmer for the whey, sugar, and black tea for ten minutes or so. Strain, discarding the tea leaves. (Not sure why I can’t combine this step with the first, hmm….)

    Whisk together the whey and fruit juice and chill. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

    To serve as a beverage: pour 1-2 tablespoons of mixture into the bottom of a glass. Fill the rest of the way with seltzer or tonic water and ice. Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired. 

    This same time, years previous: day trip, weekending, twist and shout, smash hit, blueberry pie, the big apple, linguine with shrimp and cilantro-lime pesto, spaghetti with swiss chard, raisins, and apples, homemade yogurt.

  • family road trip: Boston

    The next morning, we drug the kids out of bed, loaded the van, and then started our trek back down the coast.

    Lil’s Cafe

    We stopped at Kittery for breakfast-which-was-actually-lunch and then headed on into Boston where we spent the rest of the day walking the Freedom Trail, poking our heads in little Italian groceries, and forcing the kids to keep walking. 

    The warship’s mixer looks awfully familiar. Also, is that a sheeter?!

    Ice cream cones coated with Rice Krispy treats!

    Jerusalem bagel from Tatte.

    We’d made reservations for a hotel close to the airport, but then we drove there and realized that it was in the airport and we had to pay 55.00 dollars for valet service and then our car was whisked away and we were stranded in airport land: a situation that, if we weren’t so tired and hungry, would’ve been hilarious (and still was, a little bit). Actually, it gave me twinges of PTSD, leftover trauma from our Belize fiasco which was, undeniably, LEAGUES worse than being stranded in a comfy hotel for a night. 

    We made the best of it, though — my husband and younger daughter went foraging on foot for food and found a pizza place — and the next morning my son and husband played in the pool and then we feasted on the hotel’s hot, free (nothing’s free, ha!) breakfast.

    And then we tore out of the hotel last minute to meet up with my (distant) cousin and his family to go whale watching — our trip splurge.

    The whales were neat (we saw a humpback and her calf from a distance) but what I really liked was the boat ride. For much of the four-hour trip, I stood out at the front on the part that jutted out into the ocean. It was mesmerizing, watching as the boat lifted up over a swell and then nosedived back down. Like being on a roller coaster, almost. It was the first time I’d ever really been out on the open ocean like that; even with calm seas, it was thrilling. 

    Then back to Framingham for the evening and the hard part: saying goodbye to our daughter.

    It was much harder to say goodbye this time than when she’d first left home back in January, maybe because the separation feels more permanent now — we know she’s going to be at this farm for another year, at least — or maybe because, driving up to MA, we got to feel the physical distance between us. Or maybe because being with her for a week reminded me of how much fun she is, or because it was all of us leaving her there, by herself. She loves her work, and she’s with good people (and has good friends), but she’s doing all this on her own. Even though everything is as it should be, as we all want it to be, it’s still hard.

    Another hotel…

    another twelve hours of driving and then, after a grand total of one thousand, nine hundred and two miles, we were home again, and in our fridge there was a homemade supper from my mother, ahhh. 

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (6.29.20), roasted zucchini parmesan, we have arrived, fútbol, a break in the clouds, goat cheese whipped cream, red beet greens.

  • family road trip: Acadia

    On my agenda for Maine: hiking. Also, I wanted to have a day trip — something that took a little more effort and planning than idle meandering. So when I realized that we’d be only two hours from Acadia National Park, I pounced.  

    My younger daughter stayed behind. She was still feeling yucky from the migraine, she said, and really, I think, she just wanted to be alone, in bed, for awhile. (Note to self: next time, do a better job managing expectations. I’d thought I’d thoroughly explained that we’d be doing things, not slumping around a house all day, but then the kids started fussing about not being able to sleep in and and I realized that I’d neglected to take into account that my kids might actually need a break: my younger son was weary from getting up early to milk every single morning, and my older daughter was bone-tired from four-plus months of ten-hour days, six days a week. Oops.)

    As it so happened, our Acadia day was the one rainy day of the whole trip. It rained the whole way to the park, but then cleared just as we arrived. We parked and then headed straight for the Beehive. This hike, I’d read, was considered strenuous — it had vertical climbs with iron bars, and wasn’t for anyone afraid of heights. But I’m not afraid of heights, and I climb ladders just fine. Besides, it was only supposed to last 2 hours. Sounded kinda measly to me.

    The first five minutes went fine. We read the sign warning of death and scampered happily up the rock-strewn path.

    And then we started climbing and, ohshit, ohshit, ohshit. We had only narrow ledges to walk on, and once, in the absence of those, a few slippy iron bars sticking out of the rock with nothing to hold on to. One dizzy spell, one misstep, one loose rock, and we’d tumble straight down.

    Not that I could see anything — the fog obscured the view, a gift for which I was supremely grateful. The couple times it lifted enough for me to see the far-away treetops, I used my hand as a blinder, or, on a couple occasions, just hugged the rock wall and tried to breathe. I stopped taking photos, and I didn’t look down, and I didn’t even really care where my kids were as long as they weren’t too close to me.

    Keep going, keep going, keep going, I chanted between curses, half-wailing, half-laughing. At one point, I considered a panic attack but then I realized that’d be counter productive so I just laughed instead. 

    the top

    Because when you get yourself in a situation like that, what else can you do?

    (For our second hike, I’d planned to do The Precipice, but when I realized that one was twice as high, and rain looked imminent, I said, No. No, no, no. Hell no. Just NO. My younger son was sorely disappointed. And to think he’s the same kid who cried at Tikal and Cabo Rojo because he was so terrified of the heights! Whatever.)

    But even though I hated that climb and I really don’t think I’d ever want to do it again — turns out, I have limits! — I’m so glad I did it. Terror and exhilaration make a potent combo. I can see how some people get addicted to the rush. 

    The hike down the other side was lovely, made all the more beautiful by our still-pumping adrenaline and the fact that we had just survived not dying. 

    photo credit: my older daughter

    We spent the next little while exploring the coast. While the rest of the family busied themselves scaling cliffs, I hung back, alternating between yelling at them not to die and photographing slugs on the ground so I wouldn’t have to watch. 

    count the people: there are three

    It started to rain then, so we took shelter under a tree and people-watched. The parking lots were crammed with people, the road-side trails overflowing, but the rain chased many of them away. By the time we struck off into the woods, the rain still coming down, we had the (forested) place pretty much to ourselves. 

    photo credit: my older daughter

    We got drenched (I could wring the water out of my fleece), but it didn’t much bother me. Well, except for slowing me down, footing-wise. My still-sore hamstring and knee made me more hesitant than ever, and the tread on my sneakers wasn’t all that effective, but I managed not to fall, so yay. The forest was gorgeous, the leaves brilliant green against the dark ground — I couldn’t get over it. Once the rained stopped, the kids entertained themselves by slapping trees to drench each other. 

    Someone just got had.

    We did another small hike then (read: I forced everyone to keep going) and stopped by Jordan’s Pond to use the bathrooms. 

    I wanted to hike more — the day had turned sunny and lovely — but it was getting late and the kids were tired, so we quit. 

    Next time we go, I’d like to have three or four days up there to hike, at least.

    The place is incredible. 

    This same time, years previous: burnt cheesecake, the quotidian (6.26.17), seven nothings, dark chocolate zucchini cake, lemon roast chicken.

  • family road trip: coastal Maine

    After lunch, we drove four hours north, up through Portland and Freeport (where we stopped to do some browsing at LL Bean headquarters), to my friend Mavis’s house where we’d be staying for the next several nights. 

    She had these shirts waiting for us on our pillows.

    When I, worried about abusing their hospitality, had emailed Mavis a few days before we left regarding bedding — did we need to air mattresses? bedding and towels? — this was her response (summarized):

    Dear Mrs. Murch, 

    Thank you for reaching out. Here at Camp Butterfield we are a full service facility. In addition to the double twin room, we have 2 queen air mattresses with organic cotton sheets and new pillows for your enjoyment. We also supply all our guests with 1 cotton organic towel each. All our bathrooms come equipped with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand soap and toilet paper. Also available on request are toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, cough drops, q-tips and sunscreen. If you have any other questions about your upcoming stay here at Camp Butterfield, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line. We are here to help 24/7.

    Sincerely, 
    Mavis Butterfield
    Co-Owner / Operator Camp Butterfield

    I’d burst out laughing and quickly typed back: Point made, message received: WE ARE ON VACATION. Camp Butterfield, here we come!!!!! 

    photo credit: my younger daughter

    After a quick tour of their new (to them) home, and a visit to the dock, we gathered around the table for a pickety bits extravaganza. Unsure of our arrival time, I’d told my friend not to count on us for supper and then, like my sister-in-law, she went all out anyway. Do I see a pattern here? 

    Not that I was fussing! The feast was vast, varied, and very delicious. My favorite thing was super simple, too: the cream cheese topped with a sweet hot pepper jelly. I couldn’t stop eating it. 

    The next day, we breakfasted on the deck and then took off with the kids for a little exploring. We went first to a lighthouse located nearly a mile out at the end of a breakerwater.

    The wind was fierce, but it was gloriously sunny. We meandered, staring at the seagulls, walking down to the little side docks (on one, I layed down, shut my eyes, and savoured the rocking dock and warm sun), and waving at the passing boats. 

    At a nearby town, we stopped for coffee and pastries…

    the one nanosecond in which they weren’t fighting

    And then we headed back to the house to go kayaking. (My son had already gone out early that morning with Mavis: while they were on the water, the tide went out and they had to hike back in through the thick mud. He loved it.)

    photo credit: my younger daughter

    Being out on the water was slightly freaky. I couldn’t see the bottom and I kept worrying I’d run aground on rocks or tip right over. Plus, I was terribly clumsy with the oars: my hands kept knocking against the side of the kayak and I dripped water all over my legs. Gradually, though, I got a little better at turning and stopping and going straight (the hardest part, I thought). I even got brave enough to intentionally run the kayak aground on a little island and explore it. There was lots of poop on it — not runny bird poop, but actual turds. Do seagulls poop turds? Hmm.

    photo credit: my younger daughter

    While the tide was still out, Mavis took me and my younger two (my husband and older daughter stayed behind to work on insurance stuff, lucky them) out in the little dinghy to get fresh lobster. Traveling by boat to get your food, tying up the boat at the dock (after first crashing into it, ha), picking lobster from cages that the farmer just hauled dripping from the water —- can it get anymore quintessential Maine? I think not.

    The farmer, in his thick New England accent, showed us the difference between males and females, soft shelled and hard. I didn’t absorb much of what he said though — I was in “newness overload.” Also, lobsters are disturbingly similar to scorpions. Whoever thought to eat them? 

    demonstrating how they measure them to make sure they’re big enough

    The lobsters purchased — three soft shelled and three hard for 70 dollars total — we plunked them into the bucket we’d brought and headed back onto the water, this time to go to town to check out a general store, on our way passing the infamous Forrest Gump lighthouse.

    And then then the waves picked up and so did our speed and soon we were skimming across the tops, which is akin to repeatedly slamming into five-foot deep potholes. The kids and I held on for dear life and screamed with laughter while Mavis dodged lobster buoys and focused on not-capsizing us. (Or maybe that was just luck?)

    We poked our heads in the store (my son bought a whoopie pie) and coffee shop, and used the public portapotties (because wave jumping and full bladders do not a happy seafaring team make). 

    On the way back, Mavis let my daughter drive, and I got to see what a gifted teacher she is: her instructions were calm and clear, and she was both trusting and hands-off, just letting my daughter get a feel for the dinghy, giving verbal direction only when necessary. It was impressive; my daughter was thrilled.

    Back home, we did the whole lobster meal experience thing: boiled lobster dipped in butter, potatoes, rolls, corn-on-the-cob. (Except for my younger daughter who’d sprouted a migraine and spent the next day-plus in bed.) The lobster was good, but seeing as it was the first fresh lobster I’d ever had, I’m not really qualified to really say more than that. 

    Well, except this: considering how much work it takes, and how messy it is — squirting brine! runny guts! drippy butter! — I can not imagine eating lobster in a restaurant with any sort of dignity. How do people do it? And why?

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (6.24.19), fruit-filled coffee cake, better iced coffee, my ethical scapegoat, the quotidian (6.25.12), two bad things, beef empanadas, one whole year.

  • family road trip: New Hampshire

    The next stop was Keene, NH to visit my husband’s youngest brother and his family, our first time at their house.

    It was such a treat to see them in their home! You know, you hang out with people and visit them here and there, but being in their home — seeing their projects, looking out their windows, eating their food — is such a completely different experience. It gives a much more nuanced and complete picture of who they are.

    I’d told my sister-in-law not to expect us for supper. I didn’t know when exactly we’d be able to leave the farm, and I didn’t want to make them wait for us, but that McDonald’s pitstop (my one-time fast food concession for the whole trip, not counting Dunkin Donuts and Subway) turned out to be one of my biggest trip regrets. Because when we arrived, they were just getting ready to sit down to supper: a whole bunch of homeamde pizzas, the sourdough crust all bubbly and blistered black. Even though I wasn’t hungry, I had a piece of the white pizza — artichoke, basil, fresh mozzarella, and garlic — and it was, quite possibly, the best pizza I have ever eaten, and I’m not even being hyperbolic, promise. (Later, I took notes on her method and ingredients, and today I have plans to replicate her kitchen wizardry. The bar, however, has been raised quite high. I’m not sure I’ll be able to reach it.) 

    The next morning after a feast of eggs, blueberry muffins, and a dazzling fruit salad, my SIL took me on a tour of her gardens. I’ve always known she liked to garden, but her gardens were like none I’d ever seen before, rambling and half-wild, and absolutely everywhere: in the woods, around the house, behind the shed, on the side of the hill, down in the meadow. I’d had no idea.

    every inch of this, she knows

    There were log-lined “raised” gardens, and rows of hay bales that she planted in directly — the bales made raised gardens one year and then, as they decomposed, excellent mulch the next. In the tree stumps, she’d drilled holes for mushrooms. There were stepping stones and little hoop houses and staked plants. There were little wild strawberries woven in among the asparagus and potatoes, cultivated strawberry plants here and there, raspberry bushes, fruit trees, little patches of lettuce and peas.

    strawberries, mint, garlic, asparagus

    She told me about how when they’d bought the house, the flower gardens were full of orange tiger lilies and how, over time, she’s dug them all up and replaced them with plants of her choosing: pear trees and flowers and different varieties of honeyberry bushes. I’d never heard of honeyberries before, but they’re like blueberries, only better — more juicy and tart — and shaped like a cross between mini mangoes and fruity pebbles. (In the fruit salad photo above, see if you can differentiate between the honeyberries and blueberries.)

    Down in the meadow, beneath the grape arbor, she showed me her method for making a garden: she digs up a three or four foot strip of dense field growth, plants in the fresh strip, and piles the grass and weeds at the far end of the newly overturned ground. The next year, she sifts through the pile of composted sod, pulling out the weeds and rocks, and then uses the rocks to make a border along the edge. She plants in the composted section and then digs a new section. Bit by bit, she’s carving a garden into the hillside meadow in front of the house. 

    note the new bed cutting into the field of ferns

    As we walked along, she’d occasionally pluck a diseased leaf, or yank out a weed. I’d look at the ground around me and see what looked like rambly undergrowth, and then she’d come along and name each plant, cultivated and uncultivated. She explained how she gets a start from a bush — by stapling a branch into the ground, covering it with dirt and then, once rooted, clipping it off and transplanting. She talked about transplanting whole sections of garden, adding more “show” (her lingo for color pops) to different areas, and scavenging bits of wire to cobble together trellises. 

    pear, herbs, roses, and lots of “show”

    Hearing her talk as we walked through her gardens, it was like I was seeing an artist at work, but with soil and seeds instead of canvas and paints. The depth of her knowledge, her hard work, her exuberance and joy, her boundless creativity and energy — it was stunning, truely. And inspirational. To me, gardening has always been tied to drudgery and work, productivity and perfection, but to her, gardening is how she plays.  

    hay bale bed

    And it’s not like she’s spending boatloads of time out there. Shocking, right? But really, she doesn’t have much time to garden, what with the small kids and her other projects, like spinning yarn and knitting intricate sweaters she designs herself. When I pushed her about how much time she spends gardening, she said, after thinking about it a minute, about an hour a day, probably. Hearing her say that unlocked something for me — gardens don’t have to be all-consuming affairs. I’m not going to suddenly turn into a gardener, I know, but doing better at it — and maybe enjoying it even — could be within reach. 

    grazing on wild strawberries

    For example, and it might sound silly, one thing I gleaned from her is this: cut out the bad plants. I always thought I needed to pull the weeds out from the roots, but she repeatedly mentioned how she clips out the bad plants. So the day after we got home, I went down to the raspberry patch and cut out the big weeds I can never seem to get rid of. And it was good enough!  

    This same time, years previous: teen club takes Puerto Rico, buttermilk brownies, lemon ice cream with red raspberries.

  • family road trip: Framingham

    Thanks to insane traffic, our nine-hour drive to Framingham stretched to nearly twelve, so it was dusk when we arrived at our daughter’s house, a small cottage directly beside the farm. She stepped out the door and we both immediately burst into tears and hugged and hugged and hugged. Four-plus months in a completely new place is a pretty long time to go without seeing family and friends, and it’s the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing one of my children.

    She gave us a tour of the farm then, introducing us to each of the horses (she knows them all by name, like they’re people), showing us the Big-Ass fans in the arena and opening the garage door-like windows. In the feed room, she explained the feed charts (I understood not a word), and turned on the heating lights so we could stand under them. 

    We left then for our hotel in Framingham so she could get to bed (she had to be at work at 5:30 the following morning), and then came back first thing the next day to watch her riding lesson.

    When training, the horses wear ear protection to muffle noise and help them focus.

    Here are two little videos from a recent lesson (not the one we watched, but with the same instructor). I find the instructor to be as interesting as my daughter’s riding. She cracks me up!

    Her instructors kept asking us if we could see her improvement and we were like, Um, yeah? I mean, it seemed like she’s working hard and the horse’s feet keep doing weird things, but really, we had no idea what we were seeing.

    (Tell me again how an equestrian was birthed from my body?)

    Still, it was fun to just be in the space where she spends her days, watching her tack up and hose off her horse (and then towel dry him!), and put the little booties on their feet, and lunge them in the hot walker arena.

    where she stores her gear

    In the round pen inside the hot walker.

    We walked with her when she walked down to the paddocks to turn out a horse. As soon as she released him, he went nuts, bucking and kicking and riling up the other horses and so, naturally, my daughter went in to be WITH him.

    She grabbed his halter and clucked and purred at him, and calmly — no, nonchalantly — held her ground until he settled.

    I never wrote about it here, but a couple months ago a horse rolled on my daughter. She called to tell me (actually, she texted me a photo of a saddled horse with the caption “another one bites the dust” and then I, panicked, called her) and I asked, “Are you alright?” and she said, “Yeah, I got back on and he’s not even limping or anything” to which I roared, “I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE FREAKING HORSE, I’M TALKING ABOUT YOU.” Later she sent us the footage from the arena security cameras: my daughter cantering smoothly and then the horse gliding forward and down, rolling to the right and then coming back up and standing there, and my daughter popping up and going to the horse. The whole thing took all of two seconds, maybe three. It was graceful. Elegant, almost. She was fine — just a purple egg on her leg (thank goodness he hadn’t rolled on her knee) that changed color rather prettily over the next few weeks. 

    So this is why, when I see my daughter handling horses like a boss, I’m impressed.  

    While my daughter did her horsely duties, my husband and I strolled through the state forest trails at the back of the property, and then took the kids into town to get lunch at Waverly Market, an Italian deli that’s nearly a hundred years old: the 99-year-old grandma was behind the cash register; the son made our subs and prepared our cappuccinos with exceptional focus and care; the granddaughter helped us figure out what we wanted to eat. We split a couple subs and tried the cannolis (I was surprised to find that I didn’t really care for them). 

    Back at the farm, my husband worked on my daughter’s car, the kids played with the farm dogs, and I read on the porch while, at the other end of the porch, a group of women met with a therapist about managing fear and anxiety about riding. 

    My daughter’s work completed, she quickly packed her stuff and then we all piled into the van and headed north on the next leg of the journey.

    This same time, years previous: cherry picking, Korean beef, the quotidian (6.22.15), weigh in, please, beets, and more beets, spaghetti with fresh herbs and fried eggs, driving lessons.

  • family road trip

    Whenever our family goes on trips, it’s to see family, or for a day trips, like to the DC zoo. OR we swing in the other direction and move to places like Guatemala and Puerto Rico to work (and then occasionally trek about). But then our older daughter moved to Massachusetts and one thing led to another and before we knew it, we’d mapped out at honest-to-goodness road trip, our family’s first!

    (And then our older son bailed on us and went to Hawaii instead, but more on that later.) 

    Usually a travel hater, I was uncharacteristically excited for this trip. I was eager to see my daughter, and I had a fun plan, complete with booked tickets for a touristy outing, hotel reservations, and a ungodly amount of snacks. I google-mapped the heck out of stuff (and somehow still managed to never know where I was), and emailed with family and friends re travel tips and home visits. As we collected supplies, I piled them behind the living room sofa: the box of homecanned goods and Costco socks and GoT DVDs for my older daughter, bags of homemade granola for our breakfasts, plastic bowls, a huge bag of reading material (that I hardly touched), etc. 

    Pre-trip, cleaning out my bag. Apparently, I mostly haul around junk.

    But the biggest reason I was excited, though, was because for the first time maybe ever, money was not a stresser. Thanks to the pandemic, kids moving out, and random goodies from the produce farm and the bakery, plus our own beef and milk, I’d managed to squirrel away a good-sized chunk from our grocery budget each month. We still had to play it smart — no fine dining or room service — but if we had to pay for any surprise fees, or screwed up and found ourselves at a hotel with 55 dollar valet parking (oops), or wanted to buy fancy coffee, we could. The not-pinched feeling was totally new to me. So this is how people go on vacations, I thought. What fun!

    In the week leading up, we readied the property, emptied the fridge, cleaned the van. My husband and the kids tightened up the dog kennel (i.e. electrified it because Danny Boy likes to jump fences), and we arranged for animal care (thanks, family!).

    This particular set-up was not parent-approved and thus removed.

    My son ordered tech stuff and the Spiderman movies — he reports that he watched the first one two-and-three-forths times and the second one two times; by the end, he was reciting the lines along with the actors — and spent hours scheming ways to transform the van into a lux entertainment studio.

    And then Friday morning came and we were off!

    This same time, years previous: Novia Scotia oatcakes, one morning, all before lunch, the quotidian (6.19.17), puff!, the quotidian (6.20.16), sinking in, in recovery, magic custard cake, refried beans.

  • the coronavirus diaries: week 66

    More frequent coronavirus diary posts mean one thing: CHANGE.

    When we were shutting down, there was so much to sort through and process that I posted almost weekly. And now it’s that way again, but in reverse.

    GLORY BE.

    ***

    Last Friday night, my parents hosted an outdoor concert at their place.

    My dad built a stage. My mom made a million cookies and borrowed coffee makers and mugs. They put up signs for parking and seating. There was a bonfire and twinkle lights. 

    And then the people came.

    Lots and lots of people.

    It was the biggest crowd of mostly maskless people — they requested unvaccinated people wear masks — I’d been in since the pandemic started sixteen months ago. 

    And it was lovely.

    ***

    And then the next day my younger daughter and I went to Costco where we were met at the doorway by this sign.

    We promptly ripped off our masks and, grinning maniacally, waltzed into the store. My daughter took off to get her own stuff and then, minutes later, came racing back: There’s samples, Mom!!!

    AND THERE WERE.

    The sample carts had plexiglass walls affixed to their tops, with a little hole at the bottom through which they’d slip individual paper bags of samples.

    There was a sign telling people to wait until they were out of the store to eat the samples, so I dutifully carried around my little bag for a bit and then I was like, Wait, I’m not wearing a mask so whether or not I put food in my mouth is irrevelant — that sign is for the masked unvaccinated. And then I chowed down.

    ***

    After his second vaccine, my younger son had just a slightly sore arm. In other words, he was the only one in our family to have zero side effects. LUCKY.

    ***

    Whoop-whoop!

    This same time, years previous: the quotidian (6.10.19), the quotidian 6.11.18), pulling the pin, a photo book, the quotidian (6.10.13), sheet shortcake, fresh tomatillo salsa.

  • hammy tales

    watching, not playing

    Version One
    It’s nearly been a month since I pulled my hamstring, and, not to be dramatic or anything, going cold turkey on all physical activity has been tough. Without my morning runs, walks with friends, and Ultimate games, and without a need to cook or eat, I sank into a puddle of self-pity and despair. Withdrawal symptoms included, but were not limited to, malaise, end-times thinking, apathy, bodily heaviness, self-pitying thoughts, low energy, loss of appetite, and an unreasonable urge to eat down the house. Seriously. Even though I wasn’t hungry, all I wanted to do was eat. It was ridiculous. 

    On the flipside, I’ve had more time for writing.

    Version Two
    A couple days after I pulled my hamstring, I tried to go for a walk and only made it about a half mile before having to turn back because my leg just wasn’t functioning properly and I was afraid I was doing real damage, but then when my leg didn’t hurt any worse the next day, I began to go on regular walks even though they were time-consuming, didn’t raise my heart rate hardly at all, and made me feel like I’d aged thirty years, but nevertheless I persisted and I kept doing my hamstring strengthening exercises (and making my husband give my leg a deep tissue massage every night) and then after a couple long weeks my older son suggested we go on a bike ride and that was so refreshing that I went on another bike ride the following week and then, a couple days later, I, in a burst of optimism, biked the ten miles from town to my house on my own and it was glorious but, wouldn’t you know, then my knee started hurting like the dickens and, via some quick internet research, I discovered that my (self-diagnosed) bursitis was a consequence of a tight hamstring and I was like THIS IS NEVER GOING TO END WAAAAAH and began considering private swimming lessons and a pool membership but then I managed to mostly stay off my feet for a couple days while religiously icing my knee and popping Ibuprofen, which made me feel actually good enough to attempt a short run, and now, because my knee and hamstring are both considerably better (or at least not worse), I’m letting myself run a slow mile or two every other day which is doing wonders for my mental health but I still can’t play Ultimate, pant-pant. 

    This same time, years previous: ba-BAM, the quotidian (6.9.14), last Sunday morning, Jeni’s chocolate ice cream, mint tea concentrate, white chocolate and dried cherry scones.