The November List – 2019

Hope those of you who celebrate, enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday! I write this as leftovers are still in the fridge and my table still looks pretty with my Trader Joe’s flowers and squash (the Mandarin oranges have been mostly eaten by the girls).

1) Winter came to Grosse Pointe in mid November with a 9-inch snow storm. Just the day before, we’d raked leaves. It was both odd and beautiful to see snow-covered leafy trees.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

2)  I left for a strategic marketing conference in Charleston a few days after the snowstorm. It’s been on my bucket list for some time, and I was thrilled to finally be going. I took a couple vacation days to spend sightseeing and invited my girlfriend Erin to meet me there.

It was unseasonably cold and rainy the first two days, which worked in our favor in terms of exploring – less people, less cars on the road – it was much more quiet than it would usually be on the weekend in our part of town (the picturesque South of Broad neighborhood).

3) On our first night, after a dinner at a Mexican restaurant (yes, I know, but it was SO good), we went to Magnolia’s for a final drink and dessert. Best pecan pie I’d ever had, and I am so, so picky when it comes to pie. I should have gone back again another day.

4) I toured two historic homes, both walking distance from my hotel. The first was the Nathaniel Russell house. The self-guided tour was really good and so fascinating. The trim in this room is 18k gold.

Pic from Charleston Carriage Works

The second home was the Edmondston-Alston House, which sits along Charleston Harbor. You can see Fort Sumter from the balcony and stand in the spot where General P T Beauregard watched the start of the Civil War.

5)  On our second night, we sat at a communal table at Fig, a new-ish restaurant in the area. We didn’t make reservations, so were asked to wait at the bar. When an elderly lady was shown to the bar, I reluctantly gave up my bar stool, but then we got to chatting about Charleston and she was so lovely.

Her husband came in a few minutes later and didn’t engage with us until Erin asked if they knew why so many buildings were pink. He gave an eloquent explanation of Charleston’s Caribbean roots and long story short, we later learned (after they’d been seated and we figured it out), that Judge Sanders and US Army soldier was also once the president of Charleston College and he’s kind of a big deal.

6) Back to the pink….it’s my favorite thing about Charleston. Pink houses, a pink church, pink stairs.

7)  Speaking of pink stairs, I love these photos Erin took of me taking pics. Rarely am I ever in vacation photos, simply because I’m the photographer in the family, plus it makes me happy seeing photos of me doing what I love doing.

8)  Another notable thing about Charleston is its window boxes. They are stunning, and I’m inspired to up my front porch game this spring/summer. Hold me to it!

9) And let’s not forget the old graveyards, which on our carriage tour, I learned that a graveyard is associated with a church and a cemetery is a burial site not associated with a church. I loved wandering the pathways and reading tombstone inscriptions. During one lunch break, after exiting the grounds, I realized I’d been sitting among the burial site of Vice President John Calhoun.

10) Most of this month’s list is about Charleston and it’s just as well. November in Grosse Pointe was fine, but non-eventful. I finished “Smoke” by David Vyleta. It was intriguing – historical fiction mixed with surrealism or fantasy? I don’t know how to describe it.

I enjoyed the uniqueness of it, the interesting premise of people “smoking” – emitting smoke from their bodies – to indicate vice or wrong doing, but thought the end was lacking. I just googled reviews and the New York Times agrees with me for the most part.

11) My sweet mom turned 80 this month, and she was celebrated (while I was in Charleston, or I would have traveled to Hawaii for it) by family and friends at a restaurant gathering. Happy Birthday, Mom!!!

12) We hosted Thanksgiving this year. Lucky for us, my mother-in-law graciously brought the main part of the meal and we were only responsible for appetizers and a welcoming home.

I continue to reflect on what I am thankful for, as we head into the last month of the year. I always appreciate these short couple of days that are quiet and lazy, before the Christmas season goes nonstop until the 25th.

Wishing everyone a wonderful December!

The October List – 2019

Another fast and furious list coming your way because life. WARNING – I did not proof this, not even one time. I am slacking on some of my paid work and therefore I need to quickly finish this so my brain can be free to do said work. I apologize for the terrible grammar and spelling and typos that you may find within.

First of all, I heard it snowed for about five minutes today. I missed it because I was hunkered down all day doing freelance work. Which was actually really nice – having the house to myself and getting it done. Not ready for the six months of cold that is Michigan winter.

1) Halloween was really cold (40s?) and wet, and I convinced my littlest to stay home with me and watch a movie instead of trick-or-treating. We watched Aladdin and I loved it (she had seen it before, I hadn’t) and ate popcorn (me) and ice cream (her). I’ve never liked trick-or-treating. The only thing worse than strangers is strangers in costume.

Also this pic is not my kid b/c I forgot to take pics of my own kids dressed up for Halloween. So sad. But I did do a Halloween photoshoot with my friend’s super cute kid as a purple candy monster, so there you go.

2) Can’t talk about October without talking about leaves. It’s been a gorgeous fall, with bright, bright orange, yellow and red leaves.

I took pics of this family and their English Labradors (oh my gosh, it made me miss Sam so much) at CCD, which is short for Country Club of Detroit, which is located in Grosse Pointe. They were going to keep the dogs in the house, but of I was like heck no, bring it on. And then two minutes later, I was wondering why in the everloving world did I think that was a good idea. But it all worked out.

This isn’t one of my favorites from the shoot, but it’s one that shows the lovely fall colors.

3) I turned 47 on the 14th. I mean, I don’t even know what to say about that.

I thawed a piece of coconut, sweet potato and macadamia nut shortbread desserts that are in the freezer from when my mom and auntie visited this summer as a birthday treat. It tastes better than it looks.

4) Speaking of Japanese purple sweet potatoes (also called Okinawan sweet potatoes), I saw some at Trader Joe’s for the first time this week! I know I can get them elsewhere if I looked, but I haven’t seen them and this means I can easily make my favorite dessert, which is very, very exciting.

If you’re wondering how it tastes, it’s not that much different than the more common orange kind, and I am thinking how to describe the difference….purple is less….dense tasting? Meaning the flavor is not as defined as the orange kind? So more bland or maybe less sweet.

5) Speaking of Japanese some more, I finally, after years of having a copy in my bedside table (granted I’d forgotten about it because it was in the bottom cupboard section that I tend to forget even has stuff in it), I read “Scent of a City” by a former co-worker Aki Gibbons. (How many author friends do I have? A lot.)

I loved the characters and the scenes. A lot of the relationships reminded me of those you’d find in Hawaii. The whole Asian culture thing. There were surreal parts mixed every so slightly into reality and also a thread of quirkiness, which always gets me (quirkiness). I think you can only get it on Kindle? I was lucky to get a printed copy (okay, a digital copy which I printed at Staples) because I do not do Kindle.

6) Back to Halloween. I went to the infamous Beverly Boo adult party and this year’s theme was Pirate. My super talented girlfriend did my makeup and even helped me figure out how to amp up my skirt by jabbing scissors through it. And she pulled my corset so tight I could not sit down properly, but it looked Ah-MAZ-ing. Detroit – if you are ever in need of costume make-up or regular night-out make up, let me know and I will connect you with her!

I have no idea who these people are in the photo. I ended up going to the party by myself, because my husband was sick and they looked very pirate-y and they offered to join me in my entrance photo so why not.

7) And yes this is a drink ice luge and no, I did not partake because I am not interested in having a raging headache for two days. But it was fun to watch.

8) I forgot to tell you I moved offices – woohoo! Not exactly exciting stuff, but I am happy since the people I work the most with are on the first floor (I was previously on second). I miss my view of the water (I’m still facing the water, but my view is blocked by an evergeen shrub), but all I have to do is poke my head out of the office to see it out the door.

I inherited an area rug, which is SO not me (is it anyone, really? I say no), but I’m leaving it there because there is no radiator in my new office (of all the people with no heat, I know….) and it is also nailed to the floor. Decorating is tricky because I have THREE doors, but I think I’m going to order some photographs (mine. no not of me but ones I’ve taken) on canvas to hang and that will help.

9) I cooked a bunch. The red pot I’m guessing is spaghetti sauce and I don’t know why I would photograph that because I make it all the time. And butternut squash soup which is such a pain to make (all the chopping and baking before actually getting into the soup part), but it is my favorite soup next to French onion so I make it in the fall and winter when I have time.

10)  I picked these books up at the library. “Smoke” I’d learned about from a magazine article, probably while sitting at the salon and “Dear Mr. M” I’d borrowed before because I liked his first book (“The Dinner,” which we read in my SF book group).

I started reading “Smoke” and after one chapter in, I almost put it down, but I’m glad I didn’t because it’s turning out to be a very interesting read. Great characters, intriguing plot, perfect setting (English private school, old London, a country estate, yadda yadda). Very Dickensian.

Image result for "grosse pointe" chamber of commerce

11) Our Grosse Pointe community suffered a devastating loss of two young boys in a house fire this month and it completely gutted me. Yes, there is tragedy everywhere and happening all the time. But when it happens close to home, it gets to you.

We’re all still pretty shaken about it, so the one thing I will say is that…firstly I’ve been pretty straightforward about this community being very difficult to get to know and to make friends with. Not that people aren’t friendly, but that I personally had (and have) a hard time making friends, figuring people out, fitting in. But I’ve witnessed this community come together in a way that makes me proud to live here. And gives me a sense of comfort that if and when I need them, Grosse Pointe people will be here for me.

12)  Flower season has come to an end. I visited Detroit Abloom at the end of the month, so say goodbye to its season and to pick some of the last dahlias. And beets. It was early in the morning and it was so peaceful (except for the one stray pitbull who wandered in and growled at me as I ever so slowly walked away and hid behind the compost pile OMG) and beautiful.

November is already a doozie six days in. But I am grateful for all the creative and freelance work that is on my plate (in addition to everything else – SIGH). It’s a good problem to have.

Until next month (which is actually this month, buy hey).

The September List – 2019

So. It’s October 8th, y’all. And I have zero ideas for the September list. The following is what I can come up with in the next little bit….

1) I volunteered at Detroit Abloom, something I haven’t done in a long time. Butterflies everywhere. I deadheaded Mexican sunflowers and it was lovely.

2) And then one afternoon, my daughter asks me to come outside to look at something. Reluctantly (I don’t remember what I was doing, but I remember not wanting to tear myself away from whatever it was), I follow her to the backyard, where I see about over 20 butterflies, fluttering among our hemlocks. It was amazing, and this photo is a very bad attempt at capturing them.

3) I had to let go of some things that were on my plate, in order to free up bandwidth for mental wellness. I gave up some freelance work and also my position on the board at Detroit Abloom. I still plan on volunteering there when I can. I hope I make myself make time for it.

4) And then my favorite client calls and says can you please take over our Instagram and I can’t say no, even though some of the work I gave up was with said client. What is wrong with me don’t answer that.

Shameless plug: please follow Ahee Jewelers on Instagram! @aheejewelers
It is a wonderful family-owned business, staffed by some of the nicest people in the world.

5) I picked beets from the garden (Detroit Abloom) and roasted them. They were delicious.

6) My youngest turned eight. We had a backyard party and I made coconut cupcakes.

I made the first batch of cream cheese frosting with some weird type of sugar. Not coconut sugar….I can’t remember now, but some kind of sugar that’s not sugarcane. It was disgusting and the “no aftertaste” label on the front of the bag was completely wrong. So I went to the store and bought regular powdered sugar and the frosting came put perfectly.

7) When we went out for her birthday dinner, she found a heart in her ranch dressing.

8) My old San Francisco roomie Liz came to visit! It was amazing! We haven’t seen each other in about six years. We went to Eastern Market, where we got caught in a downpour, went to the Heidelberg Project (finally. I’d never been) and hung out on the Riverwalk on the windiest day ever, went to my new favorite restaurant, Marrow, and talked forever about everything.

9) Heidelberg Project was ridiculous. It was quirky and fun, which is what I’d expected, but it was also very….. I can’t come up with the word. Let’s say I imagined it to be slightly more highbrow. But of course I’m glad I went and Liz was the perfect person to go with. We laughed a lot. For those not in the know, it is a street that doubles as an art installation project. Google it!

10) We did a huge puzzle. Mostly I did it, but the girls helped too and I think even my husband put in several pieces. I listened to In the Dark podcast Season 2 while I was puzzling. Holy cow. About the case of Curtis Flowers. Highly recommend. It was really soothing to me. Blocking out the world, listening to a reporter talking, while working on a puzzle. You should try it. Also please ignore the nearly dead flowers in the vase.

11) A former co-worker of mine from SF Weekly wrote a book and I read it. “Task Lyst” by Scott Hylbert. I was pleasantly surprised! It was fast-paced with an interesting plot, and the characters went to so many of my old Bay Area haunts and neighborhoods.

I’m always so impressed when someone I know writes a book. I know thousands upon thousands of people do so every year, but it is not an easy feat. I’ve tried it and it’s not something I think I can do. So kuddos to all of you out there who have accomplished that or are working on one!

12) I also read “Three Women” by Lisa Taddeo. And yes, lots of sex, like a LOT and very descriptive, but I wouldn’t call it gratuitous. It’s a book about desire, so it makes sense there would be a lot of sex in it. The author is a reporter and basically it’s a case study that reads like a novel, purposely crafted as such. The writing is really, really good. Stories are raw and real and heartbreaking. I do recommend it. It is not always an easy read, although it reads quickly.

I’m posting this last photo, because Facebook has been pulling the last photo on my list for my post cover pic and I don’t want it to be a book cover. It’s my favorite drink at The Charlevoix. Hot Hot Heat.

I could go deep on my feelings about September, it was kind of a big month emotionally (no catastrophic event to justify that, just the course of my life), but I’ve run out of time (lucky you). Happy, Happy October, everyone!

The August List – 2019

Summer is officially over at our house. School has started, which means kids are back in a routine and I’m back in the office. Above pic is me celebrating the first day of school with a glass of bubbly at bedtime the night before.

Here’s what went on in August:

1) After a long bout with pneumonia, my mom was able to come visit! She and her sister, my Auntie Melinda, stayed for a little over a week. We celebrated Auntie’s birthday with coconut cupcakes (of course!), went to Belle Isle and downtown Detroit, and of course visited our favorite people at our favorite gardens.

At Detroit Abloom, Nancy showed us their butterfly cocoons.

At Julia’s farm, Willa Rose Floral, we wandered around the garden, played with Buju the cat and watched bugs and bees enjoying the flowers.

2) Dahlias were in full bloom in August. I only planted four this year in our front yard. Our backyard doesn’t get enough sun and although some do bloom back there, it’s disappointing to see the several plants that don’t make it.

This Alloway Candy did amazing. It keeps giving me bloom after bloom and they are perfect with their pinwheel centers.

This one, I think is maybe Diva? Bad photo, they are a deep purple-red vs. magenta.

My favorite, the Cafe au Lait. I thought I got a mutant one. It only opens part way. But after talking to Nancy, it sounds like several dahlia plants have done the same weird thing this season. One reason might be leaf hoppers, a bug she says she has seen for the first time this year and they may be injecting a virus into the plant.

However, this one is almost there. You can do it, come on!

Here’s another Cafe. Please, please bloom before the weather turns!

3) I wore a one-piece bathing suit for the first time since right after I had my baby number one (that suit had ruching all up in front and made me look ten years older and why I still have it in my closet, I’m not sure).

I bought a few several years ago when we’d just moved to Michigan. But, I never felt comfortable in them. Then, this summer of not working out prompted me to try one on again and actually I quite liked it. So you may be seeing more of me (well, less of me) in a one-piece in the future. Lucky you.

4) Yep, that’s yet another Tana French book, her latest, “The Witch Elm.” It was everything I love in a murder mystery – complex characters, a romantic setting (Ireland, an old house, a garden, a mysterious uncle), suspenseful with some humor mixed in. Here’s the original cover with the original title. Dumbed down again for Americans (WHY, people?!?). The actual species of tree is indeed spelled WYCH. I suppose someone thought changing it to Witch would make it more….witchy. But it just makes it stupid, now that I know the real title.

5) I read yet another Tana French book this month, her first one called “In the Woods.” I’ve been hesitant to read it because it’s about children who disappeared, but the book actually doesn’t even cover what happened to them, so it wasn’t too bad.

Here are the different cover titles I found online. The one I read was the first one. The last one with the tagline “something is waiting” is again super dumb because the book wasn’t even about that and we don’t even know if something is or was waiting. “Lyrical and haunting” however, is completely accurate.

6)  Guess what else I found while looking for book covers online? A TV series based on the first two books. Coming out via Starz this Fall. Can’t wait. Although….pretty sure the girl detective was blond? Oh well.

7) As you may know from my June List with a Twist, I confessed to you that I am obsessed with true crime. I still can’t figure out why, because I am the scardiest scaredy cat you will ever meet. I’m sure a psychiatrist could explain it to me and I’m quite curious to know.

Thanks to my girlfriend Liz (who is coming to visit soon OMG!!!!!!), I am now obsessed with true crime podcasts. I started listening to them for our NY road trip and now they are my background soundtrack when I go for walks. Finished Dirty John, the first series of Serial and In the Dark (recommended by my friend Megan) which was incredible investigative journalism and won several awards. One of the cases made it all the way to the Supreme Court, due to all the information the team uncovered.

8)  Speaking of investigative journalism, it’s a little known fact that this career was high on my list of during college and afterwards. Same with photojournalism. Why I went into PR instead, is because my personality would never allow me to ask the hard questions, never allow me to get in the trenches (figuratively or maybe also not figuratively). I’m just not that brave. Above photo is an actual photo of me working up the nerve to photograph a stranger.

9) I do have what it takes to take portraits and this month I did a couple senior photoshoots. One took place in an amazing mid-century home not far from where I live. I’d gone to an open house earlier in the week and fell in love with the light. My gal was into theater and drama and was up for anything.

My other shoot was at the DIA and the lines of the building and metal sculpture made for such beautiful and fun backdrops.

Senior pictures are NOT what they were back in my day. I need to have my mom dig up one of my senior photos, you will die.

10) More about that house where I photographed. It was built in the 50s by a couple who was into Hollywood glam. They enjoyed the home for several decades before selling to a woman who passed away a couple years ago. The home was sold, but no one ever moved in (I did hear someone say at the open house that the person who purchased the home intended to restore it) and now its for sale again.

I almost didn’t contact the realtor to ask if I could have access to the house, because once again, too scared. But I did and she could not have been more gracious and kind, meeting me there to let us in and back again to lock up when we were done. The chances of someone buying the home to restore it are slim to none, but here’s holding out hope.

11) Detroit Abloom is hosting its annual celebration of the season next month. If you are in the area, please stop by!

12) And finally, the tomato plant that came home with my daughter at the end of fourth grade last year that I said would never grow in our backyard, but go ahead and plant it anyway, just don’t get upset when it dies because you didn’t water it and don’t cry when the bunnies and squirrels have at it, has about a million tomatoes on it. So there.

Happy September!

The July List – 2019

July was the quintessential summer. A road trip to upstate New York for a couple weeks by the lake. I always take my best photos on vacation. My mind is (almost) quiet, relaxed and open.

1)  I just paid $8 a month so you, my beloved readers, can experience my blog without advertising photos of weird foot diseases, strange devices and grapes? (some of the ads I just saw when I opened by blog in a reader view, something I never do). I am sorry for years of this torment you’ve had to endure.

Scene of the Incident

2) For those of you who aren’t on Facebook, here’s what went down exactly one day after I posted about deer flies. Copied and pasted for your enjoyment.

UPDATE if you’ve read the June List: irony struck this morning on my kayak adventure. Due to a freaking deer fly, I lost, then found my super expensive sunglasses (aka swatted my head, causing sunglasses to fly off behind me, circled back and miraculously saw them in some reeds), only to LOSE THEM AGAIN as they slipped off the end of my oar.

I then jumped in to retrieve them (shallow water 3’), only to lose both my flip flops (forgot I was wearing them) in the muddy ground. Found right flip flop, lost left one, couldn’t find sunglasses the second time. Dragged kayak and myself to shore to get back in. Deer fly still bit me in the end. Nature: 1, Me: 0

3) We met our baby cousin, Harrison. Named after my grandfather. Well, if you’ve been following the blog, not actually my real grandfather, but the man who carried my last name and married my grandmother.

4) And caught up with our twin cousins, who are cute and busy and curious and everything one-year-olds should be.

5) One afternoon we drove 45 minutes to Old Forge, probably the most touristy town within a one-hour radius of my Dad’s place. Nestled in the Adirondacks (my Dad’s place is at the very edge), the Enchanted Forest Water Safari is half water-park, half fairy tale amusement park. My sister and I went a few times as kids and in my mind it was a magical place, exactly what the name Enchanted Forest promises.

However, some of the displays were not as I remember. I mean what in the world? Why this didn’t scare the living daylights out of me when I was little, I cannot tell you.

6)  We also went to the Lewis County Fair, which WAS everything I remembered it to be. From the animal barns with blue ribbons pinned to their stalls and taffy stand and colorful rides.

It was fun to watch farmers prepping their animals before a show. I hadn’t realized that horses get sprayed with insecticide to keep flies off of them or that cows got shaved, making them look so smooth and clean.

7)  I finished three books while on vacation. One was “Truly, Madly, Guilty” by Liane Moriarty who wrote the popular “Big Little Lies” which is now a series on HBO. I love that her books are both perfect beach reads but also have enough depth to be compelling in a literary way. They definitely make you think about relationships, about situations, about happenstance.

8)  Another book I read was “Magpie Murders” which is sort of a modern take on the Agatha Christie murder mystery. It was fun and suspenseful and very British.

9)  My husband and I finally used our gift card to Marrow (an anniversary gift from my MIL – thank you!) in Detroit’s West Village. We went with another couple and all agreed that the chef’s tasting menu sounded delicious, so we did that. It came with many dishes to taste, all of which had interesting elements like tobiko sprinkled on pot stickers and flower petals on their signature dish. All yummy.

10)  At the end of the month, a friend of mine invited me to her high-school friend’s wedding, as her husband couldn’t make it at the last minute. It was held at the 45 North Winery (the 45-th parallel runs through the vineyards) on the Leelanau Penninsula. The couple was delightful and the wedding, beautiful. I don’t know the story of the horse.

My friend and I stayed at her mom’s house in Traverse City and on the way home, we stopped at a farm stand, where she bought cherries, which we snacked on during the ride home.

11)  I’ve been working a lot this summer, so I haven’t cooked much. I did make a quiche with Michigan-grown summer squash, which I got from the Trader Joe’s local produce section. I didn’t edit the pic, so it looks somewhat unappetizing. But there you go.

12) I often….apologize, for lack of a better word, for my kids being cautious and timid. They aren’t confident swimmers, they’ll only go on the “safe” carnival rides, they’re scared of the dark. I’m not sure why I feel the need to apologize for this trait. Maybe because I was also that way growing up, I still am. It was hard and painful and I hated being that kid.

I think it’s also because I want them to be strong, to be go-getters and risk takers everything “girl power”-ish. Last week I was thinking of how to caption this photo to post in Instagram. And as I was sitting there, I realized, when they finally DO do something….ride a bike without training wheels, let go of the edge of the pool, make eye contact and speak clearly to an adult…they’ve overcome so much to do a thing that other kids do naturally.

And so this captured moment, it’s her contemplating a really hard thing. Trying to convince herself that she can do this thing. It’s her overcoming an obstacle on her own. It’s her being so very, very unapologetically brave.

Happy August, everyone!

The June List with a Twist – 2019

I’m breaking with tradition for The June List. Many things happened in June: I finally went to Shewolf restaurant (a prelude to the New Kids on the Block Concert), summer weather showed up, as did a deer in our backyard, my sister came to visit and I started my new job. But I’m on vacation and need a change of pace. So I give you The June List with a Twist: 12 Truths.

1)  I have a love-hate relationship with The List.

I started this blog to catalog my journey of moving cross-country with my family and starting over in a new town. When I began working part time, it got harder to keep up with and it morphed into a monthly list of 12 points of interest/happenings/etc.  It’s a personal challenge to write the list each month (I mean, once a month is nothing, right? Seemingly).

Most of the time it’s kind of a pain, except for when I’m done and then it’s super satisfying.

2)  I hate all bugs and creepy things.

Do not count on me in a zombie apocalypse or any apocalypse for that matter or any crisis that involves bugs or creepy things. I will not come through for you. I spent 15 minutes trying to get two spiders, a cricket and a black beetle out of the kayak before going on my morning ride today (the beetle crawled into one of the holes in the backrest and wouldn’t come out, even after much shaking and poking with a stick). My exasperated husband came down and propped the kayak against a tree and hit it, showing me all was well. I didn’t believe him, but got into the kayak anyway, to show my bravery.

3)  INFJ all the way.

About 20 years I took a Myers Briggs test and I am up as an INFJ. I took another test last month for a work exercise and it spat out the same result. Out of all the people who take Myers Briggs, less than 2% of that population comes up with this configuration. Supposedly we are intuitive and can read people well, so I’m going to work on trusting my instincts.

4)  Do not let me drink anything other than champagne, tequila or the occasional glass of red wine.

No explanation needed. I have happily found an bottle of bubbly from Trader Joes that is pretty smooth and not too sweet and very inexpensive, which is great for me because I can never finish the bottle before it goes flat (I just Googled it and found it scored 90 points from Wine Enthusiast. Glad they agree).

5)  I’ve been putting off reading “Searching for Sunday.”

I’ve known about this book for years, have heard of it’s beautiful life-changing a-ha moments, but I’ve been putting off reading it because it will force me to go back into my past and how I felt the Baptist church did wrong by me in many ways, and I’m not super excited to relive that, but the book’s young author, Rachel Held Evans, recently died and people are talking about her and her books again, so I decided to buy the book in her honor and go for it. I’ll keep you posted.

6)  Forgiveness is a skill I have yet to master.

Thinking about “Searching for Sunday” makes me think about forgiveness. It’s a skill, a process, a practice and all those other memes that social media says forgiveness is. Does anyone ever really master the art of forgiveness? (Okay, probably maybe some). And surely I’ve forgiven plenty in my life – people, situations, entities, myself. You kind of have to, in order to survive or stay sane. But true letting go, in any situation (even getting to the relaxation point on vacation takes me days), is difficult for me. I try and I try, but where I get stuck is the mental tug-of-war of what is and what should be and that part of forgiveness is hard for me to wrap my head around. Maybe it’s an INFJ thing (or maybe it’s just me).

7)  I still want to learn Italian.

Ever since I picked up a set of learn Italian books and tapes from the library before my (third?) trip to Italy, I fell in love with the language and it was the first time I felt I might actually be able to learn a language (I have struggled with both German and French). That was over 15 years ago and I’ve searched for the same set of language books, but I don’t think they make them anymore and nothing I’ve picked up comes close. OR I’m using that as an excuse. It is still a dream and a goal of mine and I hope that I can push through whatever obstacle is keeping me from diving in head first and make it happen.

8)  I’m obsessed with my ancestors.

Someone recently showed me these two photos of my grandmother and her mother that I don’t recall seeing before, and I can’t stop looking at them. I want to ask them so many questions. I want to know everything. I want to go back in time and spy on their lives.

9)  Photography terrifies me.

Another love-hate relationship. Same with performing. When I was in the band, I hated the idea of going to a gig. Loathed. But once I got there, it was the best thing ever, completely zen, completely in love with the moment, completely euphoric afterward. I absolutely love taking pictures, finding the zone, but when I have an assignment, for some reason I am completely terrified until I upload the photos on my computer and then it’s (usually) all worth it. Maybe it’s like that with everything creative (or maybe it’s just me).

10)  What is my deal with true crime?

Why?!?!?! It’s so awful. Horrible subject matter, super disturbing, keeps me up at night and makes me hate mankind. And yet I watch the documentaries – “The Staircase,” “The Innocent Man” – my first podcast listen was “Dirty John” (thanks for the rec, Liz!) and next on my list is “The Case Against Adnan Syed” (however, the really crazy ones like the recent Manson movies, I won’t watch or I will never sleep.) I do love a good British-style murder mystery and I just got through reading “Magpie Murders” which was pretty entertaining, but those are fiction and wrap up nicely at the end, which is so much better for my psyche, so why I can’t just stick with those I do not know.

11)  I can’t decide what to do with my hair.

Because it’s now 10:45pm and it’s taken me just as long to write this @#$)(*% list than it does to write my normal monthly list and I cannot think of another thing. So hair. I want to chop it all off because I think my face wants short hair. But the rest of me wants long hair and I’ve been trying to grow it out for almost two years and to just end it all now after all that work seems wrong. And how many more years can I pull off long hair anyway? Not many. So shouldn’t I wear it long while I can? But when it’s long, I end up putting it in a ponytail, so what’s the point? The struggle is real.

Also I tried to find a photo of my beautiful long hair (back when I had long hair) and this is the best one I could find. No lie. Sad.

12)  Potato chips.

I love potato chips so much and I would eat them every day if they weren’t so bad for my body. Not that I’m even super healthy, I just know things would get out of hand if I allowed myself to eat the amount of chips I want to eat. My favorite are probably Kettle brand sea salt dipped in sour cream. The best. I have Cape Cod something or other potato chips in the cupboard right now and I might have to eat a handful in honor of this last list item.

Also, life is too short for a lot of things. So many things that I could have brought up instead of potato chips. But it’s late and I’m on vacation and trying to get vacation-like, so potato chips it is.

I leave you with a snapshot of my kayak ride tonight. I’ll be on the water again tomorrow morning, getting zen, thinking deep thoughts and also trying not to drop my oar every time a deer fly comes along.