Always with a cherry on top.
In the past decade there was a run of not so great holiday weekends in my life. There had been discoveries and recollections which had left in their wake a slight dread when a three or four-day holiday weekend approached. A good time for all was not guaranteed since unexpected and bad news seemed to arrive as reliably as holiday weekend sales on new cars and large appliances – and I’m not interested in buying any of those things. I’m good, thanks.
This recent extended weekend, though, was different. There was a loose plan for a quick overnight getaway in the Berkshires. Cocktails in a cool and semi-swanky bar bid adieu to the work week and hello to a mini vaca in a delicious way. Museum passes were borrowed from the public library for free admission to a museum that I’ve wanted to visit for some time. The forecast changed from rainy to sunny, a positive change that provided an obvious example of how things can also unexpectedly improve.
Strolling through farmers markets and sipping a Bellini on a sunny terrace are two of the most perfect things to do under blue skies. Especially with someone who treats you well and makes you laugh.
The weekend rolled on with a full morning on the deck with the Sunday NYT, followed by a party with interesting people and a fire which left my hair and clothing pungent with the smell of wood smoke. Spreading four bags of mulch and planting the flowers and herbs from Saturday’s market was Monday’s warmup to a five mile run – with an al fresco nap sandwiched between the more vigorous activities. The grill is definitely back in the rotation and I can’t believe I forgot how easy it is cook dinner when there are not pots or pans left behind to scrub. Ah, the almost summer vibe is strong…
I don’t know that I’ll ever completely forget the bad holiday weekends I’ve experienced, but I also don’t know that’s necessarily a negative thing. We should remember important things and lessons learned, especially when they help one to appreciate their current situation.
Memorial Day Weekend 2019 was, at last, a completely sunny, relaxing, fun, leisurely and most of all, happy, stretch of days. I hope yours was similar.*
*If it wasn’t, keep the faith. There’s always next year – or July 4th.
Filed under Albany, art, beauty, Events, Exercise, friends, holidays, musings, Observations, Random, relationships, road trips, secrets, Spring, vacation
I can’t believe it’s already been two weeks since I spent Easter in Ireland. It feels like it was just yesterday when we stayed in the back garden until Easter Sunday became Easter Monday when the wine finally became more persuasive about us going to bed than the air was about begging us to stay awake. In my heart it was just a moment ago.
The weather in Dublin Easter weekend was, in the vernacular, brilliant. The morning I arrived there had been a chill in the air that manifested as a moody fog, but as the hours, and days, passed the sun became stronger and the skies a more saturated shade of blue. Perfect holiday weather.
I spent a couple of days walking for hours and hours on end, to the point that I felt myself limping. I stayed fairly near Phoenix Park, which is a tremendous plot of land that sprawls into an irregularly shaped garden with a zoo, playing fields and picnic areas. There are gorgeous trails, soft underfoot, that beckon to be run upon and explored.
One day, I took the northern piece and wound my way through meadows and wooded areas, seeing blooming trees and flowers, herds of wild deer and a cow-filled pasture. The next, I ran the southern piece on some of the most beautiful terrain I’ve ever experienced, wide paths lined by leafy trees with wood chips to cushion my feet. Magical, even with the nearly constant discomfort in my hips and feet forcing me to rein it in and not push myself too hard.
The slower pace left me with plenty of time to reflect. How lucky was I to have these hours that belonged only to me? To be outdoors breathing and smelling and seeing? Are there people who take this gift for granted?
It’s been a week now since I left Ireland. In an odd way it feels like it was forever ago that I boarded the bus to the airport to come back to the life that I know and love. Or maybe I should say “return.” There’s no going back, just forward with appreciation and knowledge.
What you don’t have you don’t need it now
Don’t need it now.
It was a beautiful day.
Filed under beauty, Europe, Exercise, family, favorites, holidays, Ireland, musings, Observations, running, Spring, travel, vacation
After a nearly six year absence, I’m visiting Ireland this month. It would take some effort, and both hands, to count the number of times I’ve traveled to the country where my father was born, yet I’m about as excited as I was on that first trip to the Emerald Isle. Back then, all flights from the U.S. stopped at Shannon and I’ll always remember the emotional response I experienced as the plane landed and I saw the gorgeous greens of the landscape. I’m not ashamed to tell you I cried.
A couple of McMenamin lasses
Believe it or not, this visit was inspired by last year’s Roman holiday. Catching up with my “cousin”* in the lobby of her hotel, as she arrived from Dublin and I prepared to depart for home, convinced me that it has been too long since I saw my Irish family. I bought my tickets last fall and have looked forward to this trip ever since. Despite my original travel plans being canceled (thanks, Boeing!) and having to scramble for a new carrier (Aer Lingus) from an alternate airport (in a different state), I’m pretty much ready to go.
This will be the first time that I’ll be taking a little time to explore, solo, a part of Ireland that interests me – Galway town. Over the years, I’ve stayed in Connemara a couple of times and have seen the Burren, heard the traditional music and language, and indulged in the local cuisine, but this time I’m psyched to run by the water and wander the narrow city streets with my camera. While most of my time will be on the east coast with family, the few days I’ll be on the west coast are the ones that will feel the most like an escape rather than a homecoming.
Beyond my accommodations, the only thing I’ve booked is Airbnb baking class experience. I hope to learn how to bake Irish brown bread, which I plan to consume with copious amounts of butter, marmalade and tea. Other than that, I’m open to whatever adventures may beckon. Unless, of course, you have some recommendations?
*her dad is actually my cousin, but she’s much closer to my age than he is.
All right, look, I could probably find 10 reasons to justify spending $159 a month on my Unlimited Membership, but let me tell you the number two reason why I’ve been continuing the service – since I became a subscriber in November, I’ve spent a total of about $55 buying new clothes and $0 on dry cleaning. If I were to look back at what I spent in past years, I’m confident that my purchases of new clothing (that I might only wear a handful of times before tiring of them), would total close to what my subscription has cost me.
More details? Sure!
- The service has been excellent. There was a single snafu (apparently the bag that was en route to me had a faulty zipper and I ended up with a cardboard box with two garments, one of which was not intended to be delivered to me) and it was dealt with efficiently and with minimal headache.
- I have a fairly busy social calendar and an aversion to wearing the same thing twice, at least when it’s to an event locally.
- I’d much rather spend my time outdoors than in a mall or shopping center and the convenience of selecting and “hearting” a bunch of garments on an app and having them dropped off at my house is a dream.
- The turnaround time on orders is typically 2 days so I can take a look at the weather and what I have going on and select the appropriate items.
- I’m wearing clothing that I couldn’t necessarily afford (hello, Temperley London and Opening Ceremony) to purchase except as an isolated indulgence.
- Putting my account on hold during vacations or dull times, is easily accommodated.
- There’s an excellent UPS drop off spot conveniently located between home and work making drop offs simple.
- ”My” wardrobe gets lots of positive attention – and I always ‘fess up that whatever I’m wearing is Rent the Runway.
- And, my number one reason: I love fashion – didn’t you know I was voted Best Dressed in 8th grade?
Maybe you want to give it a try? Send me an email or make a comment and I’ll happily share a discount code.
The title of the post refers to a really great book I just read, not the fact that I spent a quick and indulgent weekend in Miami, by the way. Kate Alice Marshall’s book, I Am Still Alive, published in 2018, was the perfect vacation read – exciting, well written and an absolute page turner. Let me tell you about it!
The story is told in alternating chronology – Before and After. Jess, the protagonist, has survived a devastating car crash which killed her mother and left her scarred with lasting injuries. Her father, who left the family when Jess was a small child, lives in a remote area of Canada and Jess is sent to live with him, an option better than the foster care setting in which she had previously been residing. Or was it?
After an unexpected second flight on a much smaller plane, Jess finds herself in a small cabin living with her father and his intimidating half wild dog in the woods, completely away from civilization. She and her father are essentially strangers to one another and Jess recognizes she can’t possibly live in the woods forever. She and her father negotiate that she will remain with him for a single year, a length of time Jess is able to imagine surviving with her dad. Until her Dad is dead and Jess is left alone.
What happens next is a tale of survival, learned independence, revenge and ultimately, realizing that we are capable of things we may have never before imagined. Curl up on the couch and settle in to read this one. I’ll be scrolling through photos from my warm MLK getaway.
Here are some photos from my recent trip to the desert. I’m already looking at the calendar for Christmas 2019. I need to get back there again to spend time with someone I dearly love and to soak in more of this beauty.
Filed under beauty, California, Christmas, Exercise, favorites, Flowers, friends, Hiking, holidays, love, Observations, Recommendations, running, travel, Uncategorized, vacation, winter
A new year is probably the ultimate holiday gift, don’t you think? Receiving the chance to try again to get things right, to attempt something new, to do something better, is a luxury not everyone gets and while I’m not a devotee of the typical new year’s resolution, I do get a little jazzed by a clean slate on which to write a fresh chapter.
I’ve decided that my task for 2019 is to work on accepting what others give me with grace. Whether it’s a physical gift, a kind word, or an opportunity to experience something, I want to be able to receive and accept it with openness. That may sound simple to you, but it isn’t always easy for a person who is accustomed to meeting their own needs and prides themself on being fiercely independent.
This grace to which I aspire is something I probably should have begun working on long ago – like that time a friend’s family took me to Florida with them for vacation and I attempted to pay for my meal* at a rest area on the Jersey Turnpike. My friend’s father spoke to me quietly, with kindness in his voice, and told me they had invited me with the expectation that they would be paying my way, unheard of (and unimaginable) in my world. Just like seeing Florida for the first time, his generosity will be something I’ll never forget.
On New Year’s Eve I had my first chance to start practicing being graceful. I was presented with a thoughtful and unexpected gift, a gift that I might have been inclined to resist because it was generous and felt like too much after having been hosted as a houseguest for nearly a week. Instead of immediately declining though, I paused, took a breath and accepted my present with a sincere thank you. I love the gift and will use it frequently and I know that my thoughtful and dear friend was happy giving it to me.
How about you? Is there something you’re hoping to find or create in your own life this year?
*I had $50, given to me by my brother, for a 10 day vacation. I was poor – and clueless.