The August List – 2021

SPOILER ALERT – I did not proofread this before publishing. Zero thinking capacity left. I’d apologize, but I’m not sorry.

August was honestly mostly a blur, except for our annual trip to upstate New York, as I was mostly still recovering from surgery during the month. Although I felt great mentally and physically (nothing hurt too much and I was in a good head space), I did get tired a lot and felt like I didn’t have the brain power to do too very much at all.

1) I read a lot this month. One of the books I finished was “The Hour of the Witch” by Chris Bohjalian. It was a riveting read, but a tad stressful, as you can infer from the title and book cover. It makes me so grateful to have been born at the second half of the 20th century, though women still have a ways to go.

2) Another book I read was “Summer Wives” by Beatriz Williams, recommended to me ages ago by my friend Tami. I don’t usually read books centered on romance, but this one had lots going on outside of the central characters – the setting of an exclusive island, a storyline that span generations, a plot weaving in an out of the past and future – that it did not feel like a typical boy-meets-girl type of story. It was a quick read!

3) I’ll share a more detailed review on a future Instagram post, but I loved this book. Great writing, storyline and characters.

4) After a family meeting (the 9-year-old wrote down our pros and cons), we decided not to take Obi on our 10-hour road trip. Given my inability to walk or chase after him, the unknown of how he’d do in the car for that long, and the unknown of how he’d do with the cat and the lake and all of that, we felt it best he stayed behind.

He boarded with a gal who has two other dogs and he did not miss us at all. Here he is with his friend Bentley, a Great Dane.

5) My Dad’s place in New York was wonderful, per usual. We lucked out with beautiful weather almost every day (the week before it had poured). It was the first time in probably five or six years that I didn’t have to work during vacation and being able to actually take a vacation as intended was amazing.

6) I basically read and sat on the dock and ate fresh-baked donuts from Millers, the Menonnite market down the road (about 15 minutes drive, the closest market) and corn on the cob and drank margaritas and red wine. I’d planned to get back on the health train (less sugar, less alcohol) as soon as we returned home, but my Dad and his wife sent us home with a bag of donuts so that clearly didn’t happen because I don’t have that kind of will power.

7) I took a few solo morning walks in the woods for exercise. It’s so peaceful, unless you are listening to a missing persons or serial killer podcast like I usually do. I ended up switching to “American Rehab,” a podcast about a drug treatment center, because I was getting too freaked out. Super dumb. I’m a huge scaredy cat.

8) I did eventually finish this podcast, which isn’t all that scary. I’ve pretty much liked every Podcast I’ve listened to from The Australian. I appreciate their investigative reporting and all of the background they provide to give listeners a complete story. This one is about a missing person unsolved case with multiple suspects and lots that went wrong (missing evidence, leads not followed up on) during the initial investigation.

9) The girls and I met up with one of the neighbors one day for a walk to what the locals call the beaver pond, for obvious reasons (although we only saw evidence of otters/beavers, but no actual sightings). She and her husband have two Burmese Mountain dogs, who came with us on our walk. We found mushrooms and ate wintergreen leaves and collected leaves and feathers.

We also met their cat Obi (!!!!) and parrot, Mango. I’d known forever that her husband was the actor who played Charlie Bucket in the original “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” a movie/story/book I was obsessed with as a kid, so I tried not to geek out and didn’t one time mention the movie or say the word “Charlie” even thought I was DYING to.

10) My Dad showed me this photo that I’ve never seen before of my grandma Lucy and her brother Asa. LOVE this photo, wish I could go back in time and talk to her. The second photo is of my great grandmother, Lucy’s mom. They look alike.

11) Evenings are so lovely at the cabin. If you’re willing to brave the mosquitos and lather on bug spray, sitting on the dock watching the sun go down and the stars and bats come out is perfect. One night we roasted marshmallows and were startled by a strange sound that we finally figured out was an owl. It didn’t sound like the usual “hooting” sound you’d expect.

12) I forced myself to take photos enough to where got genuinely inspired a few times. Usually vacation photos are the best kind for me, because there’s no pressure.

As soon as we got back home, it felt like we were never gone. Doctor appointments and conference calls and back-to-school shopping slapped us in the face. Such is life. And I’m okay with that.

Wishes for a wonderful September. How is it almost fall already!?!? I never want summer to end.

The July List – 2021

July was a typical Michigan summer month, although the weather was a bit kooky again, with more heavy rainfall in a matter of minutes, which led to more flooding for many folks (not us).

1) Big news is that I underwent a mastectomy (single) on July 21, due to my second breast cancer diagnosis. It was high grade DCIS, which is to say that the cancer cells had not spread, but the nucleus of the cells were showing signs of breaking out. I’m doing well, and the prognosis is excellent. Will not be needing chemo and I’m crossing my fingers that I won’t need medication, but I’m betting my oncologist will push for it.

2) Pre surgery, friends Renee and Kara took me to Grey Ghost. It was soooo delicious and it’s always nice to be in Detroit. Afterwards we went across the street to Second Best (same owners) for cocktails and some apple sour shot, which initially tasted lovely, but ultimately too sweet and none of us finished ours. Otherwise, the drinks there and also at Grey Ghost were really good.

3) It was hard to give up alcohol, which I was instructed to do two weeks prior to surgery, but even harder to give up caffeine! I wasn’t asked to give up coffee completely, but to cut down on it, so I switched to decaf for my afternoon coffee. Trader Joes is awesome for many things, but not decaf. You’ve been warned.

Many people already know this very true fact, especially Liz Rono, but any drink – whether it be alcohol, coffee or otherwise – tastes ten times better when served from a fancy glass or cute cup. Which is why I drank my decaf from this adorable ceramic mug I bought on our Cincinnati trip.

Someone please recommend a good decaf coffee that I can buy for my next surgery!

4) I’ve been cleared to walk, but not much else, so walking it is. It’s been nice and I am super happy that all is well with my health, but it bums me out that I can’t walk fast or break into a jog like I sometimes do. I know in due time and all that, but I want to get better right now. It (not being able to walk, then only being able to walk slowish) has made me realize that my daily walks pre-operation 100% have helped with stress and anxiety and my overall mental health. My agitation level post surgery is definitely higher than usual, no surprise there, but I think much to do with lack of exercise.

5) A good friend organized a meal train, which was super crazy helpful, and so many other people showed their support by sending flowers or helping with groceries or coming by for company or sending sweet gifts.

I was shocked, quite frankly, and overwhelmed in a good way at the outpouring of support for me and my family by the people here who I thought I was an outsider to. It was so touching and so needed and helped so much with my recovery.

6) A final note about my treatment and recovery. I have an expander inside of me right now, which is a plastic contraption that has three little port pressure points which hurt like hell at certain times. I can see the grape-sized bumps under my skin.

Slowly (once a week for several weeks) the expander will be filled with saline via a needle into one of the ports, until it reaches the size that the implant (which will be put in on my second reconstructive surgery in December) will be. I’ve had one fill and the first couple hours were fine and then it started to really hurt. OH WELL. Apparently also skin that has been radiated is a crap shoot when it comes to healing so we just have to wait and see.

7) The surgery pretty much occupied my headspace for most of July. I don’t remember much of what happened over the month. We spent the Fourth hanging out at my husband’s uncle’s backyard/pool, as has been tradition since we moved here, but I didn’t take any pictures. So I give you a home in my neighborhood with an American flag instead.

8) Obi the puppy does not give one iota that I had surgery. He has matured somewhat over the last month, but is still very much a puppy and still needs loads of attention and still gets into very much trouble.

9) One of the great gifts I received was two weeks of dog walking from my friend Megan. A life saver. We loved meeting all the folks at Central Bark, and Obi especially loved the puppy playgroups which we tried a few times, so we’ve decided to keep him going a few times a week for at least the next couple of months.

10) We had more fun in the kiddie pool this month and I had fun with my camera, which I haven’t taken out much this summer. I haven’t been motivated. Sometimes you have to force yourself a bit and then the creativity comes. So maybe I’ll take the camera out after writing this and plunk it on the counter to remind me to do that.

11) I need a new Podcast. Please help. The above are from IndieWire. Do you recommend any of these? I do not want self help or motivational Podcasts. LOL. I listened to “The Lighthouse” by the Australian this month. It was pretty good – about a missing person in Australia’s coastal picturesque town of Byron Bay.

12) This book you guys, I don’t know how she continues to churn out great books, but she does. Mystery, murder and full, fleshed out characters based on the Irish countryside. It does make you want to visit Ireland. Although I’ll skip the murder part when I go.

Tonight my nine-year-old’s bestie said goodbye one last time before she and her family leave for Florida. Our gal is handling it well tonight, but it might be a rough weekend. Plans tomorrow are to sleep in late, order Indian food for dinner and watch a movie. Nothing else.

I am sad, I am grateful, I am content, I am restless. I need I want I don’t know what I need or want. This was July and looks to be some of my August as well. I’m riding the wave and I’m okay with that.

I heart summer so hard and I am going to be outside (although no sun for my jacked-up surgery skin) as much as possible and enjoying not having any or many commitments. It feels luxurious in some ways, but I’ve earned this time of nothingness, to heal and figure things out. Enjoy your August as well. See you back soon.

The June List – 2021

Michigan got rid of all Covid-19 safety protocols this month, and the state, including myself at times, is acting like the pandemic never happened. The Delta variant is quietly snickering.

1) June gave us the hot summer weather I have been waiting for. I love sitting in our backyard with a book and a coffee. I read “The Guest List’ by Lucy Foley. Based on the reviews, I expected it to be better than it was – more suspenseful, more riveting, better writing. It was a decent beach read, I guess, but I don’t necessarily recommend you spend your time on it.

2) I also read “The Flight Attendant” by Chris Bohjalian, a book that was made into an HBO series. Maybe you’ve seen it. I haven’t yet, but plan to. The series description says it’s a comedy-drama which, I suppose there were comedic elements, but I wouldn’t go so far as to label it a comedy. Drama/suspense would make more sense. I enjoyed this one and do recommend.

3) June brought a crazy bad flood to our area at the end of the month. One news report says we got 6.5 inches of rain in a span of 10 hours, but a city official said 7 inches over just a few hours. No matter which one is correct, it was bad. Water was up to car windows and most people I know had some form of basement flooding. Many had sewage mixed with the flood water. We were one of the lucky ones.

Some businesses are still closed due to damages and at I heard rumors that at least one restaurant will probably not reopen. It was heartbreaking driving around the week after the flood and seeing the loss left on curbs – play kitchens, toys, teddy bears, Christmas decorations, bookshelves, exercise gear, TVs – and lots and lots of carpet.

4) As part of acting like the pandemic is behind us – I now know four people who have gotten Covid after being fully vaccinated – I went to several restaurants this month. I’d been dying to go back to Detroit’s Shewolf and it did not disappoint. Their pasta is cooked perfectly and I was blown away by this pistachio gelato. I could eat it every day and not get sick of it. I would be broke, however (not to mention huge), as it cost $10. WORTH IT.

5) My book group met up at Ivy Kitchen, a new-ish restaurant along Jefferson (main road that follows the water somewhat and takes you from Grosse Pointe into Detroit). The service was….fine. Everyone is short staffed right now, so I’m not as picky as I’d normally be. And the ambiance was….fine. As was the food. I had a good experience and was glad to have checked it out, but it’s not going to be a go-to spot for me.

6) Obi is four and a half months and weighs about 40 pounds. He’s still waking up early – between 5:30 and 6:00 am – but I am getting used to it. He hasn’t tried to jump our baby gates yet, but that day is soon coming, I’m sure.

7) He still naps in funny spots and positions, though he no longer fits near his food dishes. Now he prefers the cool tiles of the bathroom or the marble base of the fireplace. And he usually sleeps in this goofy half side, half back position.

8) He’s pretty good about not chewing on things he isn’t supposed to chew on, but he really likes hostas, shoes, clothes, kleenex and puzzle pieces.

9) I started several podcasts this month, but had a hard time getting into any of them. I haven’t been able to stomach some of the usual true crime murder mysteries this month for some reason. I’d like to find more investigative journalism that focuses on discovery or uncovering a crime that’s something other than murder. Let me know if you have one you can recommend!

I did find one podcast that I’m finding interesting. It’s called “Algorithm” and although this one does talk about murder, its focus is more about how homicides are investigated and a specific algorithm that someone came up with that might help catch serial killers before they kill again. It’s a current podcast, which means I can’t binge listen and have to wait until the next episode is released this week.

10) If you’ve made it this far, the big news is that I’ve quit my marketing job at the school. I started the position working part time and the role clearly needs someone who can work full time, and then some. It’s just gotten to be too much.

I also needed to take a breather mentally, just be a mom, relax a bit and decompress. And how fortunate that I’m able to do so. I’ve worked super hard to build up my savings in order to take this break. So. I’m taking it easy on the work front, freelancing here and there before I ramp things back up. There are parts of the job I will miss, sure, but I’m SUPER excited about my new chapter. Stay tuned.

11) I’ve pulled back on my photography as well (see the note above about needing to decompress), but did squeeze in a couple shoots over the last two months that I’d committed to. Both were one-year-old birthdays (and how could I say no to those?!) and both were small, backyard celebrations. This sweet girl clearly loves her momma.

12) Baby Henry was just as adorable. He had a “Where the Wild Things Are”-themed party :)

So that’s June. I have some dumb health stuff that I’ll go over next month (everything’s fine, just a hiccup in plans). For now, just like I’m pretending Covid isn’t still running rampant, I’m pretending that this summer is a normal summer. And it is so far.

It’s a record hot day today. I took my walk early this morning to get it out of the way and it’s a good thing, too, as it was already in the 80s when I got back home at 8:30 am. We may take the girls to the Yacht Club later for a swim, or fill up our kiddie pool for the pup. I bought an heirloom tomato the other day specifically to put on a BLT and I am already thinking about how good that’s gonna taste later. Life is good.

The May List – 2021

We are still in the throws of puppy madness here, so May is mostly a blur of white fluff.

1) Obi is now 12 weeks and 25 pounds. He wakes up in the morning at 5:30 am, which is still WAY too early for me, but much better than last month, which had me waking up around 4:45 am on average.

2) He’s learning a few commands. Strangely he does “wait” better than “sit” on verbal command, though he knows sitting is polite behavior and does it often when he wants something.

3) The school’s annual auction was held in person this month. It was exhilarating and also terrifying to attend something so…normal. I was slightly un-nerved with Covid in the back of my mind, but ultimately had a good time and was happy the event raised a lot of money for the school.

4) The next day was Mother’s Day. We celebrated with a takeout brunch from Marrow, one of my favorite Detroit restaurants. There was cinnamon rolls and smoked salmon and quiche and a delicious burrata salad, which was beautiful with fresh flower petals and pea shoots and tangerine slices.

5) My 9-year-old gave me a Mother’s Day sheet she filled out at school. Best ever.

6) The day after Mother’s Day was our 13th wedding anniversary. I always dig up photos from the wedding around our anniversary date to reminisce. It was such a perfect day.

7) I found another engaging Podcast. CounterClock is a deep dive into cold cases. The journalist and podcast host does a great job explaining the background and exploring all avenues of the case. She pushes hard for authorities to take a new look at the cases, so she’s actually doing something beneficial vs simply telling a story.

8) I’ve stepped away a bit from photography for mental health reasons. It’s one of the things I love most, yet still when I get a paid gig, it stresses me out somewhat. When it’s my own work on my own time, it’s never a problem. Hopefully as the work load dies down this summer, I’ll have more time to be zen in my creative work.

I did squeeze in a First Communion shoot for a friend in early May :)

9) Two moms saved the day when it came to my daughter’s dance recital this month. Very detailed instructions called for a “low bun” which I have no idea how to make. Luckily, my friend Tone has lots of experience making hair buns, and agreed to come over to help. But I would need a hair net. Ummmm….right.

This was two days before the recital and in a panic, I posted to a local mom Facebook group and a wonderful gal who was in the same boat and had scrambled the day before to find her own hair net gave me one of hers. It all turned out great, but I forgot to take a photo of the awesome hairdo!

10) Our 12-year-old daughter was presented with the Language Arts / Literature award for the 6th grade and I could not be happier, given my own passion for writing and literature. SUPER proud mom moment.

11) An Instagram account I follow mentioned this book in tribute to Asian Pacific American Heritage month (May), so I decided to pick up a copy from the library myself. It isn’t something I’d normally gravitate towards, but it was nice to read something different. The main character was vulnerable in a likeable way and the writing was very good, it was just a bit of an odd story, with a fish-man drawing obsession of the main character being a central focal point.

12) Spring is definitely here. Flowers are beginning to bloom, although you wouldn’t know it by looking at my irises because THE DOG ATE THEM ALL.

We’ve given up on trying to garden this year. I sadly won’t be purchasing any new plants because they will likely get trampled or rolled around in, but I’m enjoying what I can. Which is none of my lilies, half of my bleeding heart, and it looks like my daisies, bee balm and hydrangea will make it!

Ironically it is in the 40s today and not very Spring-like at all. Which is to say it’s a very typical Michigan day. There is always, always, at least ONE more really cold day after I tell myself “this is the last cold day of the season!”

Cannot wait for June. It’s been a long school year. Here’s to sunshine and sleeping in (HA. not going to happen) and barbeques. Cheers, friends.

The April List – 2021

I’m sure lots happened in April, but I’ve lost most of my memories this month because the puppy came to join us a week ago and I’ve been transported back to when I had a newborn, which is to say I’m a functioning zombie.

1) The Detroit Abloom Spring flower share started this month. I love, love, love seeing all the buckets on my porch and choosing one for myself. Ranunculus (one of my favorite flowers) and tulips are in season right now and they are spectacular.

2) I made ramen noodles. I know I did because there’s a photo on my phone telling me so. I still can’t get the broth right. I need to buy some more miso and figure it out. Even when I do have miso, I think my main issue is that I don’t put enough in, therefore not enough salt and everything is bland and then I end up putting so much hot sauce in it that I can’t really taste anything else.

3. I live for my after-lunch espressos. Especially when I throw in a teaspoon of Milk Street’s Mexican Mocha coffee sugar, which is essentially just sugar and chocolate and prob cayenne pepper and whatever else. So can’t I just make this myself for cheaper? YES. Will I do so? NO.

My second favorite coffee accoutrement is the coconut whipped cream I found at Trader Joes. I have been limiting sweets, but at 10 calories per tablespoon, that’s pretty much zero calories, right?

If I really want to treat myself, I break off a piece of Mama Honey Mama’s cocoa/coconut bar, which my friend Anna introduced to me last year during lockdown. The stuff is cuckoo expensive, but worth it. I definitely ration mine.

4) Huddle soft serve ice cream is a new-ish fixture in Detroit. I’ve been meaning to go downtown to check them out for some time, but like many other places I want to try, I just haven’t made it there yet. For a limited time, they offered ube (purple sweet potato) ice cream and my co-worker whose daughter works there hooked me up with a few half pints! Yummeeeeee!!!

5) It snowed on April 21. WHAT IN THE WORLD.

6) I got my hair cut at the lovely Village Parlor for the second time and was just as pleased with the service/cut as the first time. My 12-year-old had a cut right before me (her second ever salon cut. The first one was when she was two and it did not go well), so I brought a book to read while I waited.

This one was really good. Part sci-fi, part thriller, and a teeny, teeny part chic lit, but just barely. It was an intelligent page-turner. Fun read. I believe I saw the cover either on Instagram somewhere or a Facebook reading group and was intrigued. Knew nothing about the plot but ordered it from the library and after reading, discovered that the author won a Hugo award, which makes sense.

7) I forgot to mention this book that I read I think in February? I loved it. I almost didn’t pick it up because of the obnoxious cover. I mean it looks like the worst kind of Lifetime movie, does it not? I was pleasantly surprised. I can’t pinpoint why I liked it so much, but I can say that it took me back to my childhood of getting sucked into a story. It was enchanting, I supposed.

I picked up another of her books from the library last week and am curious to see if it is similar. It does have a similarly terrible book cover.

8) And one final book recommendation, which I just finished last night, “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.” It was witty in a dry, sarcastic way, which appeals to me. The characters were quirky and odd and flawed. I found the writing style refreshing.

9) My newest podcast. Anatomy of a Murder. Which is in a format I don’t usually like, which is one story within each episode, but I don’t mind this one. They analyze homicide cases. Yes, morbid, but interesting. I learned just today on my morning walk that the number one cause of death in pregnant women is homicide.

10) And now for the puppy! We agreed on a name, finally. Basically, Lucy and I relented our number one pick, Watson, for Obi, a name that all of us liked.

This is what he was used to before coming home with us.
Obi, 9 weeks old

11) We brought Obi home on Friday, April 23 and our lives have been chaos ever since. Actually, during the day he is pretty good. He is very eager to learn and train during mealtimes and luckily I remember a lot of our training from when Sam was little.

He hates his crate with a passion and therefore putting him to bed at night is a challenge. One night I (husband was out during that time) he barked for 40 minutes straight. That was the worst. Usually he gets up twice a night to pee, and I’m on night duty, so I pick him up and run him down the stairs (if he gets much heavier, this is going to be a problem) and out the door, and then quickly back in the crate, at which time he whines for a couple minutes, which I will take over barking for 40 minutes any day.

Knowing that puppyhood was going to be hard doesn’t make it less hard.

12) One funny thing about Obi is where he chooses to sleep. He prefers hard surfaces to soft, for one thing. Mostly he sleeps by his water and food dishes (although he rarely gets food in his food dish since we’re usually training during meals). But sometimes he plops down on the mat outside or up against a cabinet.

That’s a wrap. Nothing profound to share this month. Looking forward to nicer weather and more sleep. Happy May!

The March List – 2021

Brain officially fried. No good reason. I’m writing this on Spring Break, so you’d think the opposite would be true – that I’d be recharged and energized, but alas. Also WordPress did another update so now a really weird font is showing up as my default and I don’t know how to change it so excuse that.

1) Let’s start with the best news, which is that we are adding a puppy to our family! I mean I can pretty much just end the list here.

It’s been two years since Sam left us. The girls have been ready for another dog for almost as long, I’ve been ready for over a year and the husband finally caved, which means he’s reluctantly ready. Yay! When he initially gave the ‘okay,’ I started seeing (visualizing, especially at night when I was tired) Sam and grieving him again, but that didn’t last long.

2) We surprised the girls by planning a road trip to Cincinnati. The puppy and littermates live about halfway between Grosse Pointe and Cincinnati, and the girls and I have never been there so we thought it would be a nice Spring Break activity. Normally we go to Hawaii to visit my family, but dumb Covid hacked our plans yet again this year.

We told the girls the night before that we were actually taking the trip because we wanted to visit our new puppy. They weren’t jump-in-the-air excited, I think because they weren’t sure if it was real and needed to process the news as truth. We’d been saying no for so long! After it sunk in, they were thrilled of course and we looked at all the pictures I’d been getting of the pups since they were born in late February.

3) Answers to your burning questions:

a. Boy

b. No. When we visited the puppies they were too little. Meaning their personalities hadn’t started to show and it would have been impossible to choose which one would fit best with our family. We have first pick of the boys (there are six!) and we will do that when the pups are around 6.5 weeks or so.

c. English Golden Retriever. Which basically is a Golden Retriever with a heftier build and blockier head.

d. Found the breeder online. They are a family of five who have experience raising and socializing puppies. Their momma dog Hope has the sweetest disposition.

e. Of course we haven’t picked a name. We have two kids with strong opinions and we are two adults with equally strong opinions, although the husband seems to be less and less inclined to need to weigh in. Which means we might end up with my top pick after all.

f. We bring him home at the end of April.

4) Cincinnati was great. I didn’t realize it was such a hip city (sorry, Ohio!). Great neighborhoods and a lively downtown. We actually stayed across the river in Covington, Kentucky (another fact I didn’t know – that Cincinnati was literally across the river from Kentucky, which in itself was a cool, pictureque, town.

The day we checked in to our hotel it was sunny and warm. Rained all night and we woke up to a cold morning. There is a Jimmy John’s across the street as you can see in the pic, but we really didn’t come across many chains at all.

5) We loved all the murals, too. So many good ones that I wasn’t able to catch on camera.

6) Finished two books this month. “Lions of Fifth Avenue” was…fine. I enjoyed, just not sure I’d recommend, as it didn’t grip me in any sort of memorable way.

It’s about a family (weaves between two generations) who lives in the New York Library, which apparently did happen historically at one point. It was a reference library – can’t check out books. Anyway, the family’s last name was Lyons. And there were lion statues flanking the library, who weren’t mentioned but in one or two sentences, so I’m super annoyed that the title was spelled Lions and not Lyons. The book had nothing to do with lions. Absurd.

7) “Confessions of a Bookseller” is the sequel to the book I read a few months ago, “Diary of a Bookseller.” As expected, it was not as good as the first, but if you read and found the first one entertaining, you will like this one. Reading it made me want to travel and meet interesting people. It also makes me want to make more friends with quirky characters, which believe it or not, are a bit difficult to find here in Grosse Pointe.

8) The husband brought in an Amazon package a couple weeks ago with my name on it and I said “I didn’t order anything.” Then I thought I must have ordered something, and that the something was either super dumb or not actually needed since I didn’t remember ordering it.

But it was not dumb, nor was it not needed. My girlfriend Erin had sent me this beautiful book as a random I love you gift. The sweetest. I have been following this account on Instagram for years. Her arrangements are swoon-worthy and her flower farm is my dream office environment.

9) Podcast choices are still on the darker side. “Taking Alex” was an intriguing true crime story about a man and woman who went missing, then were found naked, one of them dead. The person in jail is adamant they did not commit the crime and there are many strange incidents surrounding the case.

I love the true crime, but hate when cases aren’t clearly solved. I’ve started listening to Case Closed, a true crime podcast where cases are, in fact, closed. Although still not always as tidy as one would like.

10) It’s spring. Yay! Which means a-hole grackles and redwinged blackbirds. They are everywhere. I promise you the other day on my walk they were taunting me and planning an attack as I walked (then ran) down my block.

My girlfriend Lisa swears by this electo sonic something or other device that scares off these types of birds and I looked it up and yes, it’s a thing. But it’s a thing that costs a few hundred dollars, which I’m not willing to gamble on. So I went with the $13-dollar solution from Amazon.

If it is not immediately obvious, it is a blow-up balloon with large, shiny eyes that scares away blackbirds and grackes. So….yeah. I’m sure they are totally working and that next month there will be zero grackles and redwinged blackbirds in our yard.

PS – Yes, that is snow on the arbivitaes and yes, that is a recent photo. Eye roll.

11) Puzzles, blah, blah, blah nerd, blah, blah, introvert, blah blah, pandemic stress reliever.

But I did find some coworkers to exchange puzzles with! Shauna in maintenance and Henry in the cafeteria both do puzzles – who knew!? The two puzzles we’ve (90% me, 10% kids) done so far are courtesty of Shauna. I was also more than happy to unload some of my boxes to Henry before break.

Aunt Irene and mom at our wedding. 2008

12) My beloved – as in deeply, intimately loved – Aunt Irene passed away this week. She was 85. There are so many words I can use to describe her. She was strong, passionate, effervescent, confident, opinionated but empathetic. Creative, talented, fun, musical. Sharing what she loved with others – her pond, her music, her family, her friends, stories of her travels – brought her so much joy. And I will never forget her roaring laugh. She was not afraid to show emotion and she showed it big. She truly lived life to the fullest and for that I am grateful and happy.

Although we aren’t related by blood (she was married to my Dad’s brother) she’s never been anything but 100% family. I am grieving slowly, which I’m thinking is out of pure necessity (kids have been around – spring break – I’m tired, stressful work stuff, brain spent, puppy prep anxiety, I have this weird jaw clenching thing going on, etc.) and one more thing will just end me. I know I will think about her daily for a long, long time.

I’m thrilled we have a new puppy to look forward to. It’s a bright spot in our otherwise hectic lives…. even in this second year of the pandemic we’ve managed to make our lives hectic again. *sigh* Spring is my favorite season, and I’m sure as the garden gets greener with each day that our spirits will lift a little bit each day as well.

Happy Easter and Happy April!