A Quick Question (#3 in the Series)

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Spring

Of the following, which do you enjoy reading about most?

 

1. Caretaking
2. Travel
3. Living Simply
4. Working From Home/The Road
5. I Like the Pictures Best
6. Other ______________

We are working towards growing our readership, linking with like-minded bloggers, etc. etc. and could use your help! Please click the “Comment” link in the top left hand corner to share your thoughts.  Thanks!

PS  For all of you Facebook Fans and e-mail recipients, the contest ends this weekend….Sunday at midnight to be exact : ) If you would like to be notified of new posts, please click on “SUBSCRIBE” to the upper right of this post.
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Cambridge Sit – Week Two

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I am back with the boys now.  It feels good to be “home” after a great two weeks in Cambridge.  I sure loved being able to walk or take the bus everywhere, and Cosmo and I had a blast at the dog park (Fresh Pond).  Shedding a few pounds (along with the BP catastrophe) has inspired me to make walking whenever I can a priority from now on.  Am taking the bike in to be tuned up tomorrow as well!           

So many options this weekend at Fresh Pond...

Fresh Pond is packed with people and dogs, all day every day.  I loved taking Cosmo there, and on the days where she wasn’t feeling like a long walk, I would come back and walk alone.  It energized me, just being around people running, cycling, or walking;  most of them with a dog close-by.  I am not  a runner (although I have done my share of jogging over the years) but I definitely picked up the pace these past two weeks.  After our morning walk, I would typically walk or hop a bus to Harvard Square.         

John Harvard

Dorms. Perhaps in my next life...

Harvard Writers Featured at the COOP

Wandering Harvard and the Square felt great.  Again, the energy was there and I embraced it fully.  Check out the guy sitting behind Paul in the picture below.  He filled page after page with who knows what while Paul and I chatted away.  I wrote like that when I was his age. Pen to paper, sometimes hours on end.  Granted it was typically at an all night diner and for a JC or UCONN extension class (or even better, a juicy journal entry)…even so, I bet I felt just as inspired as he was feeling that morning.          

Algiers on Brattle - Harvard Square

Trish, this next pic is for you.  Thank you for a wonderful afternoon with you and Dave, including a “Belated Birthday Lunch” at Full Moon Restaurant on Huron Ave.  Delish.        

I had not heard of Marimekko before this sit  and while I am more of a vintage material girl, I very much enjoyed the boldness of this fabric at their Cambridge Concept Store.  And the sundresses were so pretty…        

Fabric at Marimekko - Huron Village

Perhaps you know this about me already, but I do love a good book store.  It is fun to visit with others who are just as appreciative and are willing to take their time perusing (T&D)…plus, Bryn Mawr is a non-profit that provides college scholarships.   A+.          

Replaced my lost copy of Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott) for $3. Nice!

I am not typically big into cemetaries, but Mount Auburn Cemetary is a definite exception.  It is a work of horticultural genius, for starters.  And I felt true serenity, walking along its endless paths.         

“It seems as if Nature had formed the spot with the distinct idea of its being a resting place for her children” .  This is what Emily Dickenson wrote (about Mount Auburn) to a friend in 1846.  This is exactly how I felt, wandering about the place more than a century and a half later.                

Raccoon at Mount Auburn Cemetary

Memorial at Mount Auburn

Chapel at Mount Auburn

Back to Harvard Square (I couldn’t get enough)…remember this band from my last post?  I was able to return and spend more quality listening time .  They needed no fancy acoustics in order to sound great. I love seeing people put themselves out there BIG and am hoping this was a beautiful experience for them.          

A Night in the Box from Minneapolis, MN

These girls seemed to really be enjoying each other and the day.  Cheers to being young and happy and most likely very smart to boot!           

Relaxing outside Crema Cafe

Post Harvard Square, I caught a bus to Huron Ave and Formaggio Kitchen, then walked the rest of the way home.       

Relaxing on the T - so much better than driving!

Amazing what one sees, growing on trees...walking is even better than the T!

The pics below are really meant for fellow foodies.  I know there are those of you out there who simply eat and drink to meet basic bodily needs.  Try as I might to understand, it just doesn’t compute.  For me, being thin means my thyroid is out of whack again or I am depressed.  So, if you see me and I am looking too thin, you may want to lower your head; pretending not to see me.           

Anyway, Formaggio Kitchen is as artisan as it gets.  Alas, my little digital camera does not do this place justice – but it will give you an idea of its greatness.  I visited several times for a coffee or a sandwich or something simple like that, mainly to justify my wandering the aisles.  Except for the last day, when I splurged on prosciutto and beer infused caramels for Paul, and a bottle of balsamic vinegar for me.  And Paul.  But mostly me.           

I struck up a quick conversation with Euan over gourmet pastries and such, and he was kind enough to grant me a picture (thanks, Euan!).  All of the staff here are helpful and they know their food and drink.  And flowers.  I came in on Mother’s Day and watched several amazing bouquets come together in seconds, one right after the other, over and over.             

Fiddlehead Ferns and Such at Formaggio Kitchen

A Section of the Chocolate Section at Formaggio Kitchen

Euan, Manning the Bakery Section at Formaggio Kitchen

Honey, How I Love Thee...Formaggio Kitchen

And Mustard. Honey + Mustard = YUM. Formaggio Kitchen

Cheese. Sigh. Formaggio Kitchen

Oil and Vinegar, Vinegar and Oil...Formaggio Kitchen

Baseball Sugar Cookie. How could I resist? Formaggio Kitchen

I think it only fair to end this Cambridge chapter with the pup who made it all possible.  This. Dog. Is. Adorable.  Thank you Cosmo, for your delightful company these past two weeks : )             

Cosmo - Always There to Help with the Crumbs

  PS Did you know that you can click on a picture to make it bigger?  Just making sure…             

Valynne’s Perfect Cambridge Day

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I decided this morning to be a bit decadent.  My budget for this sit is $20 a day and my typical day is closer to $10 as I eat at home most of the time and walk or take the bus everywhere.  Today was the exception.  I was going to blow a few bucks and spend my time however I wanted.  Fun!   

At 7am, I let Cosmo out and got back into bed.  I fed her a bit later….then got back in bed.  Paul never does this.  Once he is up, he makes the bed and doesn’t think about it until a good sixteen hours later.  If I get back into bed I feel a bit guilty around him.  But Paul isn’t here (tee hee).  Decadent.    

Around 11am, Kevin joined Cosmo and I for a walk around Fresh Pond Reservoir (2.5 miles).  It is lots of fun knocking around ideas and sharing stories with other caretakers. Kevin and Alicia live a couple of miles away from here and introduced us to this sit.  Their website is www.KevinandAliciaShea.com.     

After dropping Cosmo off at home post-park, I walked to Formaggio Kitchen and browsed their chocolate and bakery sections (yum), then sat down with a Bundaberg (ginger beer) and  waited for the bus.  Fifteen minutes later and I was wandering Harvard Square.  Again. It’s gonna be a hard habit to break.   

Crema Cafe has been calling my name, so I got me a latte and a coconut macaroon (it’s been years) and sat down at the balcony to write a few postcards until an outside seat became available.     

Latte & Coconut Macaroon at Crema Cafe

A few minutes later I had relocated and was enjoying a healthy dose of sunshine with an older gentleman that lived across the square.  He sat at this spot almost every day and I could understand why.  It was perfect for people watching. 

Men walked by with flowers from the shop next door (I love watching men walking by with flowers) and I admired more than one Red Sox hat.  College girls sat in groups of three, giggling away and reminding me of my little Sister Em, who will be a Freshman at Cal Poly next year.   

Crema Cafe asks that you limit your stay to an hour and it was time I moved on.   Next stop, Harvard COOP.  I was wandering the third floor for the first time when I came across this sign: 

Tuesday May 11th at 7pm Discussion/Signing with William Morgan

His latest book, The Typewriter Is Holy, claims on its front cover to be The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation.  Are you kidding me?    

View from my seat at the COOP Cafe

For this event, I would have to plan accordingly.  A couple more stops and I’d be walking back home to hang out with Cosmo a bit before catching another 72 Bus.  My first night out in Cambridge.  Party animal that I am.   

Leavitt & Peirce is mainly a tobacco shop.  It also sells chess sets, violet flavoured chewing gum, playing cards, and mustache wax.  Say what you will, I love the smell of tobacco.  Real tobacco.  The kind you find in tobacco pipes, the kind rolled into quality cigars.  I like this place.  

View from the Chess Balcony at Leavitt & Peirce

And I’m not just saying that because I scored me a wooden Ashton cigar box (Made by Hand in the Dominican Republic) for $1.  That was just a bonus.  I do love wooden boxes.  And this one is perfect for my vintage button collection.  Now all I need are some vintage buttons.   

What a great way to repurpose!

As I was walking across campus (after being denied entry to Harvard Library), I overheard a tour leader asking a small crowd of would-be students whether they thought the Science Center looked like a Polaroid Land Camera.   As they all looked up at it, the leader asked if any of them even knew what a Polaroid looked like.  Just then, it hit me.  Holy Crap, I’m thirty-seven.  For real.  

Harvard Science Center

I took the long way home.  Typically, I walk down Brattle Street or take a bus down Huron Ave.  Today, I walked through North Cambridge.  If you asked me to retrace my steps I doubt I’d be able to.  Glad I went this way, though.  Not all of Cambridge looks like Harvard Square, you know.   

Mike hurt his hand (this was his Barber Shop)

This route was roughly twice as long, but I had a great time along the way.  Back at the homestead and time to break it gently to Cosmo that I would be going back out.  I explained to her that I have this thing for Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burrows, Ferlinghetti… And that Ginsberg’s archivist and biographer of twenty years was only a ten minute bus ride away.  Whatever, Lady.

Name of Band TBA

I’m jogwalking to the COOP when this band stops me in my tracks. Cocaine’s … Gonna Kill My Honey Dead.  Wow.  They’re good.  But I cannot be late.  I throw a buck in the guitar case and up the stairs of the COOP I go, promising myself I will catch them before the end of the week.

Complimentary Starbucks coffee and real cream with Sugar in the Raw?  Nice.  And I’ve scored myself a decent seat.  Bill Morgan gets up to talk and I’m surprised.  He looks more like a librarian than a Herbert Huncke.  Oh. He is a librarian.  And did I mention he spent twenty years as Allen Ginsberg’s archivist and biographer, editing an essay here and there while he was at it?  How did he get that gig?!?  It’s a cool story.  Half an hour later I am convinced The Typewriter Is Holy will be a cool story as well.  So I buy it, and have him sign it when almost everyone has dispersed. 

Waiting to get my book signed. Facing the camera is photographer Elsa Dorfman!

I’d like to write more about the “Beats” and am pretty sure I can tie it in with Caretaking Couple.   What do you think?  In the meantime, I can’t wait to dive into this book, being the Dharma Bum that I am…   http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/65501.

OK.  Now. To find a bus home.  I have taken a bus to the Square, but never from it.  I’ve gotta go underground for that.  But first, what’s going on in front of Cardullo’s?  It’s a small crowd, watching the Red Sox on TV.  

Red Sox vs. Blue Jays

The deli is closed at Cardullo’s and the cashier recommends a burrito from Boloco.  I walk there and back and find a seat, thinking I would watch an inning or two.  Next to me is Bob (who recently retired after forty years with the Cambridge PD), Steve, and Jerome. 

A photographer starts taking pics as I shove the burrito in my mouth.  Come to find out he is with NPR.  Ha.  Is this to be my fifteen minutes of fame?  I love it.  Check their website for sexy pics of me slouching over said burrito. 

By the time the Red Sox were leading 6-1, Cardullo’s was closing up shop.  I thanked Bob for my Cambridge Police Department Junior Officer badge sticker and found the 72 bus.
Something else happened today (with regards to Mountain Girl Organics) but I don’t want to jinx it.  Seriously, what an all-around amazing day.   Cosmo didn’t look too convinced at first but she has since come around (convincing by means of doggie treats – I’m not above it).   
 
What does a perfect day consist of in your world?  Have you had one lately?  I’m hoping you have.  If not, what would it consist of?  Just curious, is all… 

Cambridge Sit – Week One

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I am currently enjoying a two week sit in Cambridge, MA with Cosmo.  It has been a bit like vacation.  Cosmo and I go to the dog park every morning.    

Then, when she is napping, I sneak out for a few hours.  The evenings are spent writing, reading, and walking some more.   

Because I am (mostly) sans Paul, who walks a lot faster than me, I have taken many a picture.  Here are a few of my favorite moments so far…     

MayFair 2010 just happened to fall on my first day out on my own in Cambridge.  I called for a taxi.  This alone would make for an interesting blog post, I thought to myself.  Yes, I was generalizing, or stereotyping or whatever you want to call it.  In my defense, I have taken cabs in Boston before and will leave it at that.   Anyway, the cab showed up minutes later and I was greeted by a pleasant, helpful, and soft spoken man named Doyle.   Doyle dropped me off at Harvard Square and what a great day I had.  Plus, I realized that I could easily walk or take the T home. Thank you for all of your suggestions, Doyle!  You made my day(s) in Cambridge that much better.  

A Perfect Day for MayFair 2010 - Harvard Square

MayFair 2010 - Chalk Art

MayFair 2010 - Legacy Dance Company (GO GIRLS!)

MayFair 2010 - Boston Tap Company (WOW)

MayFair 2010 - Cambridge Youth Dance Program (aka Beautiful Ballerinas)

Walking Past Longfellow's Digs on the way "home"

All of Cambridge is in Bloom...

 The pics below were taken at the dog park at Fresh Pond, where Cosmo and I spend most of our mornings.  These ducklings were only 3 to 4 days old when we happened upon them.  Sweet. 

Ducklings at Fresh Pond - Welcome, Springtime!

Walking Cosmo Around Fresh Pond Resevoir

Cosmo, Waiting for me to get off the Swing

I'm Car-Free in Cambridge. Feels Good.

I liked Harvard Square so much that I decided to go back and experience it without the MayFair crowds…Paul came to visit over the weekend and we enjoyed the Square together.  

My kind of shopping (Harvard Square)

  

Algiers Coffee House - Harvard Square

Arabian Coffee with Paul at Algiers (Harvard Square)

Browsing at Beadworks (Harvard Square)

Upcoming Events at Club Passim - Harvard Square (This Pic is for you, Denise)

Smurfs sighting at Hidden Sweets - Harvard Square

 On several occasions, I chose to take the long way home; this day via the Charles River.  Just missed the storm you see brewing below. 

The Charles River - Cambridge Boat Club in the Distance

When I turn right out of the neighborhood instead of left, I run into these gems…

Sofra Bakery & Cafe (on Belmont in Cambridge)

Falafel & Iced Latte at Sofra (yes it was that good)

Vintage Plates at Lady Luxe (Belmont Street, Cambridge)

Lovely Lamp at Lady Luxe

Vintage Suitcases at Lady Luxe

Deluxe Town Diner - Watertown

Ok, that’s just a peek at what I have been up to.  Stay tuned for Week Two and if there is anything you feel I absolutely must see while I am here, do tell, won’t you?        

   

Long Long Honeymoon…Livin’ The Dream

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Meet Sean & Kristy, the Long Long Honeymooners!

A lot of you have heard me mention (with great enthusiasm) Sean & Kristy and their site, www.LongLongHoneymoon.com.   I don’t know when or how I found them; I just did and am now happily hooked on all things Long Long Honeymoon.  Seeing as these two never cease to inspire me, I thought it would be fun to find out a little more about them, and introduce you all while I am at it…  

1) I know it was Sean’s idea to take the Airstream on your honeymoon, but whose idea was it to buy the Airstream in the first place?  

S: It was Kristy’s idea to get an RV. I was a little reluctant. I’m a pretty tall guy and was afraid I wouldn’t be comfortable in an RV. But after browsing a bit, we fell in love with Airstreams. You trade a little spaciousness for coziness and style!    

K: He’s right, it was my idea! We went tent camping in Yellowstone National Park a few years prior to buying the Airstream and we about froze to death one night in the Canyon campground.  The next morning I looked around at all of the campers and motorhomes and thought, “Wow! Those people really know how to camp!”  I also thought that having a private bathroom when tailgating at football games would be absolute heaven.    

2) Where did the inspiration for turning your honeymoon into a Long Long Honeymoon come from?  How did it evolve?     

S: We started with the idea of our “road trip” honeymoon lasting several weeks — we thought six would be plenty! But after six weeks passed, we found ourselves 2000 miles from home. So we just kept on going as long as it felt right. We were having fun with our website (LongLongHoneymoon.com), so we decided to offer tips and information to others who might be interested in RV and Airstream travel.     

K: Honestly, it was just something that kind of fell into place.  The website was originally created to let our family and friends follow along on our trip.  Before long, they were passing it along to their friends and co-workers and eventually we started getting comments and email from people we’d never even met!  It continued to grow from there, and it’s still growing every day.        

3) Did either of you need convincing when it came to the concept of Long Long Honeymoon, or did it just make sense to both of you?     

 S: I think that Kristy understandably had a few reservations about this journey being our official “honeymoon” because we’d previously discussed visiting exotic places overseas like Tahiti and Greece. As time passed, I began to view our “Long Long Honeymoon” as a brand that everyone could enjoy — it’s a happy thought, isn’t it, that life should be a honeymoon?     

K: I did have reservations in the beginning, but once the adventure started I didn’t want to stop!  Also, I think that lots of people believe that a honeymoon only lasts for a week — that it is a “once in a lifetime” thing. We wanted to show folks that a “honeymoon” is a state of mind. Whether you’re in Tahiti, the Grand Canyon or your own backyard; as long as you’re with the one(s) you love, that’s all that matters.     

4) Were you nervous to do something so radically different than your peers?  What was the overall response from your friends and family?    

S: Our friends and family were very encouraging and supportive. In the past I had pursued unusual travel experiences (for example, volunteering in early 1990s Czechoslovakia) so this was just another one on the list.      

K: (laughs) Yes, we are sort of known for random,wacky adventures so this was a fairly tame travel idea in comparison to some of the others that we’d already done (volcano climbing in El Salvador anyone?). I think my parents were just glad we were staying the United States for a change.     

5) What do you say to people that tell you they would love to do what you two are doing if only this or if only that…    

S: As John Lennon said, life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. You may as well pursue your dreams now, because the future is not guaranteed. Most of our impediments are of the mental variety — we let fears about “what if” keep us in our place. While this sort of experience is not for everyone, I hope that everyone is engaged in their own unique pursuit of happiness, however they define it — that’s what this country is all about!     

K: I tell them that they can do it!  It all goes back to the honeymoon state of mind.  Take weekend or one night honeymoons; even if you’re just camping in your own backyard it can still be an adventure.  I also tell them about the numerous people we’ve met on the road living a similar lifestyle to ours. Many people have overcome just about every “this and that” you can imagine: “we have small children,” or “we don’t have enough money” or “I’m too old” or “I have physical limitations.”  These people have shown me that if you really want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to make your dream happen.        

6) Tell us about one or two of your favorite places to visit with the Airstream. What makes these places stand out from the rest for you?     

S: My pick would be Yellowstone. I worked in Yellowstone while in college, and it’s just a magical place. It proudly boasts of being the “oldest and best” national park. There’s just so much diversity to Yellowstone, an incredible variety of experiences await. My advice is to go beyond the typical tourist stops (Old Faithful geyser) and spend some time on the hiking trails. You can hike a desert canyon one day and climb a snowy mountain peak the next, all while sharing the park with bison, moose, wolves, and bear. Just steer clear of those wolves and bear. 😉    

K: Yellowstone is also one of my favorite stops.  So is the beach.  Pretty much any campground where you can park next to the beach is a winner, but the stand-outs for me would be Bluewater Key in Key West, Florida and Camping on the Gulf in Destin, Florida.  At Bluewater Key our waterfront campsite included a private tiki hut, complete with bar and ceiling fan AND a private pier! The campground in Destin has gulf front sites that have you stepping out from your camper into sand. The water is maybe 30 yards from your door and the sound of the waves crashing at night is the best lullaby ever. Also, Disney World is always a magical and sentimental experience for me.  As a child my parents took my there every summer and going back as an adult really does make me feel like a kid again.      

7) Your plan is to hit most, if not all of the states that you haven’t been to yet (in the Airstream) this summer.  Do you have a route planned or will you simply see where the road takes you?     

S: When we started, we had no itinerary. But now we sketch out a loosely planned route of our journey. Even so, we usually travel without set deadlines. If you’re not careful, deadlines will quickly suck the fun out of travel. When we feel like going, we go! When we get tired, we stop and rest. That’s the upside of RV travel.     

K: We don’t wear watches, so the RV lifestyle suits us well!

 8) How do you subsidize this amazing lifestyle you have made for yourselves?    

S: We script, shoot, edit, and deliver original video productions while we’re on the go. After many requests, we now offer compilations of our “Long Long Honeymoon” videos on DVD! Our DVDs are a lot of fun — you get ALL the videos that aired on our website (including never before seen footage) plus original audio commentary tracks by me and Kristy. It’s much better watching these videos on a nice TV, and we hope the new commentary soundtracks help aspiring RVers learn “what it’s really like” to live on the road. It’s like having us sitting right there with you on your couch!     

K: Yes, the Internet and the growing availability of Wi-fi makes telecommuting a much more viable option.  We meet quite a few freelancers and consultants out on the road.     

9) What advice can you give to people (such as myself) who would love to hit the road and make a living while we are at it as well?     

S: Consider “work camping.” Many campgrounds will allow you to stay for free in exchange for doing some work. Even better, consider working in one of our beautiful national parks. Those who proudly call themselves “parkies” do just that, working in various national parks around the United States. I did so in college and had a blast. You won’t get rich doing it, but you will enjoy a wealth of awesome experiences.     

K: Again, I think any job that allows you to telecommute is the way to go.  Who says you can’t participate in that conference call from your camper, OR from the beach? 😉  

Amen, Kristy! And Sean, I love the idea of living the “parkie” life…Thank you both so much for taking time out to be interviewed.  Can’t wait to experience some vicarious LLH summer adventures and hopefully catch up with you on the road…ideally at Alumapalooza in June (fingers crossed).  And to all of you Caretaking Couple readers out there,  be sure to visit Sean and Kristy at www.LongLongHoneymoon.com.  Oh, and please don’t hesitate to leave us a comment or two… I feel another prize drawing comin’ on…  

"Honeymoon is a state of mind"

Thirty-Seven

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Birthday Dinner

When I turned eight, I told my Mom that eight was my lucky number.  She said that I had told her the same thing about seven, and six, and so on.  But I really meant it when I turned eight.  It is still my luckiest number of all. 

When I turned thirty-seven on Monday, I told myself that this is going to be the year.  My self said that I had told me the same thing about several other years.  But you know what?  I really mean it.  Thirty-seven is going to be great.