Runcation Destination: NYC!

Last weekend my friends I ran the Brooklyn Rock n Roll half marathon.  We could have picked a race closer to home, but we’d heard good things about this one and well, if we’re being perfectly honest, we’re more about the party that happens after than the actual running part of the race, so making a weekend of it was too hard to resist.

Runcations are perfect because you get in a really good workout, you feel really proud of yourself and amazed at what your body can do when you insist on it, and then you go out and indulge for the entire rest of the weekend and not feel bad about it. The afterglow of personal glory lasts for at least 24 hours and you can use your caloric deficit to hit the town running (figuratively speaking, of course, because obviously, you do more than enough running at the race). Plus you can button your skinny jeans! Always a good way to start the night.

Anyway, the Rock n Roll series happens all over the country, and though there were many tempting options we chose Brooklyn because we could drive there and because we all love NYC. Usually, when we go it’s all fun and no run so even though we make a habit of hanging out there whenever we can, this trip was something new for us. I’ll tell you about it in pictures:

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We hit the road at around 1:00 after a frantic morning of trying to fit eight hours of work into four. No time for lunch. Good thing Tina brought the Skinny Pop.
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Oh yes we did, obviously.
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Have you ever tried to drive to the Javits Center at rush hour? Let’s just say it’s not a good idea. Plus there’s nowhere to park. We made it to the expo to pick up our race bibs with like 30 minutes spare. My friends weren’t sweating it, but I was having a heart attack.
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Hudson Yards is pretty amazing. We got to take a nice long look at it as we sat in gridlocked traffic.
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Hi there, New Yorker. Thanks for perfecting the art of the 19-page article.
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We finally made our way to the Upper East Side, where we were staying with a friend (a lovely, tolerant friend who doesn’t mind when you invade her space with way too much shit for 2 days). This restaurant on 2nd Ave is a gold standard if you like German food, but don’t worry we didn’t eat there (brats+running=bad)
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We went to The Penrose instead. They have good beer (carbo loading!!) and we had fun watching the after-work pickup scene in action.
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We had quite an adventure getting to the start from Marisa’s apartment because we had the misfortune of picking the one cab driver in Manhattan who had no idea how to get to Brooklyn. How is that even possible? And why didn’t we just get an Uber?  But, no worries- we made it with plenty of time to take this all-important before pic. Thumbs UP!
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We’re here…now let’s run.
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This is the only picture I took during the race, and I think it was an accident.
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13.1 DONE! Let’s share this moment with everyone on our social media feeds! We usually keep our shirts on for our selfies, but clearly, others have different ideas.
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It was only a Mich Ultra, but it was beautiful.
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We look like badasses don’t we? Also, I’m happy to note that I remembered to put on deodorant.
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We hung out with Tina’s crazy friend who flies all over the country to run Rock n Roll Halfs with 30 other crazy people. They flew to NY Friday night, ran Brooklyn, chugged a few beers and then hopped on a plane bound for Denver where they were going to run another half on Sunday morning. As I said, they are crazy.  I would say “goals” but this actually would never be a goal of mine.
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Though that medal is pretty sweet.
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That’s the Hollis Brown Band behind us. They were really good and they have gigs all over so you don’t actually have to run 13.1 to hear them play.
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After the after party we hobbled out of Prospect Park and headed over to wander (slowly) up and down 5th Ave in Park Slope. We found this place for lunch (Gristmill), which had really great food and the people were so nice. Like really, really nice.
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How can you say no to farm fresh gelato that’s as good as nature?
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Actually, I did say no because what I really wanted was some caffeine. Kos Kaffee had just what I was looking for- excellent coffee and super nice people. Again with the nice people. Is that a thing in Brooklyn?
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I really appreciated the fact that the only pumpkin anything in here was an actual pumpkin. I’m so tired of the pumpkin spice craze.
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After we relaxed for a hot minute back at Marisa’s it was time to hit the town again. Amy went to see a friend and Tina and I drank cocktails at a rooftop bar.
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We take our cocktailing very seriously.
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Next up dinner: Is it sad that we care more about the ambiance than the food? We settled on Zia Maria in Chelsea. It was pretty, and the food was good too- so win, win.
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It’s too bad that we don’t have any fun together…
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After dinner, we decided to go study Millenials in their natural habitat so we went to The Biergarten at the Standard.
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When in Rome…or a Biergarten.  When we first arrived we thought we had the stamina to last all night, but alas, this boot was the end. Come to find out, we’re not as young as we used to be.
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Sunday morning we needed to head out early, but luckily we had enough time for coffee.
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Mellow Yellow Coffee and Vibes– honestly could there be a better place for a rainy Sunday morning hang when you’re sore, a tiny bit hung over and not really ready for your 4 hour drive?
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One thing I LOVE about races is the camaraderie and good spirits you share with fellow runners. We met a lot of really great people and were reminded time and time again over the weekend that there is still so much good in the world. We just need to channel that and work together to preserve and protect it.  Does that mean we need another RnR run? I think, yes! Where will we go next? Well, stay tuned…

 

This. Is. Unacceptable. Period.

170922-hurricane-maria-puerto-rico-sg-1520_0b277c1cfcac0b5764da20dbd9856eaa.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000Ok, Ok. OK. It’s no secret that I am not a fan of that man in the Oval Office who is play-acting at being the leader of the free world. But I have tried- really I have- to find positive things about the current White House situation.  The thing is, there isn’t really anything that makes me feel good about it. And every day it gets worse.

I read Stephen King’s IT in high school. I remember sitting up in bed late at night, wide eyes glued to the page, heart pounding, fingers gripping the edge of the book, teeth gnawing at my bottom lip, night after night as the book got creepier and creepier. I tortured myself by continuing to read because I just couldn’t leave it where it was- I needed to know that there was a resolution, and I was hoping that in the end all the bad would disappear. So, I kept on turning page after terrifying page until one night I couldn’t take it anymore and I threw the book clear across the room, where it banged loudly against the wall that separated me from my sister and landed, pages askew, on the floor where it stayed for days and days and days.

I’m telling you this because the way I am feeling about Donald Trump is pretty similar to how I felt when I was reading IT.  And now, I’m at the point where I throw the book.  But now, it’s even worse, because… because…this. is. not. fiction. Holy shit.

If I write about everything I’ll be here for days, and I have dinner plans tonight, so let’s just recap what happened this week, shall we?

  1. He spent the first part of the week tweeting a lot about the NFL and spent some time trying to convince people to boycott football games. Football games! I wonder what Kim Jong-un did on Monday.
  2. Next up, he tweeted a bunch of disparaging remarks about John McCain for not supporting the Graham Cassidy bill. You know- that health care bill that, in a nutshell, basically would just take money away from states that voted for the Affordable Health Care Act and gives it to ones that didn’t.  The one that would provide $243 billion less Medicaid funding than the current plan. The one that would leave millions of people uninsured. The one that more than 300 health care advocacy groups opposed. Yeah, that one. I wonder if he had time to read it. Cuz, you know. Twitter.
  3. The tax reform idea- OMG. I can’t even… but I will. I guess. He had the audacity to announce that this plan would benefit the middle class, and from which he would not benefit at all. Guess what? The tax “framework” raises rates on the lowest tax bracket (the poorest Americans), lowers rates on the top bracket (the richest Americans), and includes all kinds of giveaways to the rich. The day it was released, Trump said, “I don’t benefit.” except that’s a lie because…the Trumps will personally save a BILLION DOLLARS if this plan is enacted according to the New York Times’ analysis. Yes, you did read that right. A BILLION DOLLARS. 
  4. Puerto Rico. Where to start? There were lots and lots of tweets like this:

 Responders are doing a GREAT job in Puerto Rico. Massive food & water delivered. Docks & electric grid dead. Locals trying…..really hard to help but many have lost their homes. Military is now on site and I will be there Tuesday. Wish press would treat fairly!

AND THEN THIS. THIS IS WHERE I THROW THE BOOK.

This is what he tweeted today, followed by a flurry of tweets about how the press is getting it wrong, Dems are evil and the rescue mission is actually the best rescue mission ever.

  The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump..Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They….want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.

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This is the Mayor of San Juan

Um, ok, excuse my language but are you fucking kidding me? Please get off social media, please stop stroking your ego and patting yourself on the back, please stop acting like a disgusting pig and start doing something. Something real. These are HUMAN BEINGS. THEY ARE AMERICAN CITIZENS. THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS.

I get it. There is big water, ocean water surrounding Puerto Rico, so yeah, it’s a complicated and difficult problem to solve. But, normally when you are President of the United States you face difficult problems head-on. You understand that solving these problems are your responsibility and you own them.

In general, you relish finding solutions to problems because you want to make the world a better place. That’s your goal. Making the world a better place. What was it that John F Kennedy said? Something like…

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.

That’s all I have to say right now.  I hope the restaurant we’re going to tonight has really strong drinks. I can’t take the reality of today right now, and I need a break. Tomorrow I’ll pick the book back up and stick with it until the merciful end. But tonight I’m throwing it against the wall.

 

48 (or so) hours on Long Island

IMG_8984Last weekend some friends and I headed down to Long Island wine country for a little mini-break. None of us had ever been there, but we’d heard good things. And even though we normally plan a bit better, this is such a busy time for all of us that we didn’t put too much thought into the trip. We booked a house but pretty much left the rest of the weekend open to hap and circumstance. I don’t know if it was because of or despite that, but we had an amazing weekend. It is an absolutely beautiful spot to spend time in, and the quality of the wine is very, very good.  And, if you’re not that into wine (um, what??) there are other things to do too–eating, shopping, antiquing, boating, swimming, bike riding, or just lounging– you name it, you can do it on the north fork of Long Island!

I’m going to tell you our story through pictures because I have like 400 of them on my phone.  I may have been a bit snap-happy. But really, you’ll see why now:

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It’s a quick ferry ride from New London and if you go in April you won’t have touble finding a seat.
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Kontokosta Winery was on the way from the ferry to our rental so we didn’t see any reason not to stop.
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I love a beautiful barn, and if there’s wine to drink inside- well then, all the better!
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Girls are headed in…
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After you!
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The tasting room had us like…
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Time to shop!
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We met a friend who insisted we pose like this.  It works.
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Cabernet Franc is a good way to start off a wine tour- and this one was fantastic. Nice view too…
Fog rolling off the water gave us this view of the barn. Didn’t want to leave, but:
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Next stop: our rental. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this cottage.
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This place had everything we needed and more- plus was kinda like stepping into a West Elm catalog.
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Entry- kick those shoes off and stay awhile!
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I like it when there’s a nice bathroom. Bathrooms are important.
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My bedroom.
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Waking up here was a pleasure (well except for the massive hangover).
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First order of business, relaxing on the patio!
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Friday night we hit the town in our blazers. Didn’t mean to dress alike, but it is what it is: blazer brigade
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Cocktails at American Beech.  We felt like we were in Miami and Tina got attacked by a big palm frond.
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Might have overdone in Friday night, but couldn’t miss a beat. First stop Saturday was Croteaux, the rosé winery.  This place was seriously a little slice of heaven.
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The wine here was as lovely to drink as it was to look at.
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All day.
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Cheers to sunny days and the best of friends.
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So good. I love rosé when the sun is shining and there’s a Citroen Hvan in the background.
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We wanted to sit here but the stools were too tall.
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More ambiance at Croteaux. Would have been nice to stay all day BUT…
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More wine to try! This is Lenz.
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The tasting barn at Lenz.
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Lenz has a great old vine 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. Really tasty! Also, their merlot is very good. I don’t usually drink merlot, but this one was pretty inspired.
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Lenz vineyard
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Lieb was next. I loved this place. It had a great low-key vibe: great staff, live music and more really good wine. Merlot again. Maybe I am a merlot drinker after all.
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Listening and tasting at Lieb
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It was too nice a day to stay inside so moved to the patio to soak up the sun and enjoy the view. Nice way to wind down the tour.
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This is Chris, our driver from North Fork Designated Driver. Best decision we made. He was super nice and we didn’t have to worry about being safe on the roads.
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We were probably really annoying.
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Saturday night we had dinner at American Beech (which was top notch) and checked out the local bar scene at Brix&Rye and Lucharitos. No pics of that (probably a good thing).  Happy to report we didn’t spend any time inside here.
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This is American Beech in the daylight. Great spot!
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I loved how the town was cute, with lots to do but not overdone or pretentious.
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Thanks for the memories Greenport! We’ll be back for sure.

Being 13 in 2017

img_7002As a parent of a newly minted teenager I feel as though I’m constantly navigating land mines and making compromises that keep the beast at bay while simultaneously trying to encourage and nurture her to be the best and happiest person she can be. It’s not easy and a lot of the time I feel like I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. And, most of the time I’m worried that means that I’m doing her irreparable harm- that somehow my lack of expertise in this parenting arena is going to mean she’s never going to live up to her full potential. But tonight something amazing happened. Tonight I saw a rare glimpse of the complete and whole person my daughter is going to be.  And it was beautiful.

My daughter has a friend sleeping over tonight and they came home from school and proceeded to spend the rest of the day behind a closed door in her bedroom. This irked me to no end, but I thought I’d leave it be, mainly because I wasn’t in the mood to deal with the eye rolling and huffing that I knew would ensue if I suggested they do something a little less lethargic. Dinner time came and I asked them to come out and eat with us, fully expecting that it would be a rushed affair that they tolerated in order to get on with their night. But it didn’t play out like that.

Both girls started an animated recount of a few different things that had happened at school that morphed into a larger discussion about the current state of our world, how it’s talked about at school and what it means to them. I was so impressed with their impassioned opinions and that they had all sorts of facts and research to back them. I loved that our discussion included deciphering fake news from real, tolerating other people’s points of view, and ideas about how to combat injustice. And I really loved that they know how to use Snopes and that they read Politico! But most of all I loved that both girls were making some serious eye contact and were completely engaged in our conversation.

We generally have good family conversations, and with this current political landscape I’ve seen that my daughter can be passionate about critical causes and issues but it’s rare to have the type of discussion we had when she has friends around. I know that they are all deeply interested in what’s going on, but I don’t often hear them discussing it with each other. For me, that was the best part of the night. Knowing that their private teenage world has expanded beyond following social media stars, debating about what color Converse to get, and making musically videos shows me that there is a silver lining in everything. We might be in really tough times now, but these tough times are turning our teens into informed, motivated leaders of tomorrow.

I look at my daughter and I see the future. I want her to be 13 and not have to worry about what’s going on in the world too much, but at the same time I want her to know how important it is to be a responsible citizen and care about the world around her. Sometimes I’m not sure that message is getting across. But tonight, tonight was sheer validation that it most definitely is. Tonight I was reminded that she is a 13 year old girl, with all the frivolity and self absorption that comes with that, but she’s also a 13 year old girl with strong convictions, a big heart and a desire to do what’s right. And tonight I am breathing a tiny little sigh of relief.

Bad dream, bitter reality

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We can’t go back to yesterday, but we can change tomorrow. Right now that’s how I’m getting through this week. I, like so many others, was absolutely stunned, sickened and terrified on Tuesday night when it became clear that our nation had just elected as our President a man who stands in direct contradiction to everything I know to be right and true. We elected a man whose entire campaign was run on hate fueled rhetoric; a man who has absolutely no experience with foreign policy, with the military, with healthcare, with environmental issues, with social causes, and who seems to have very little understanding of our constitution or how government is run in general. We elected a man who selected a vice president that thinks he can “cure” gay people.  I mean, this is incomprehensible.

And yet, here we are.

I spent all of Wednesday in a stupor of disbelief and grief.  But now the shock is starting to wear off and I feel this desire – this NEED to do something. To motivate, to organize, to get involved and to add my voice to the millions of others that I know feel the same. I think the next four years are going to be hell, but I think we can get through them if we come together and stand up for what is morally right. We need to continue to teach our children that all people are created equal, that kindness above all is what matters, that there is no place in our home, in our schools, on our streets for racist, misogynistic, bigoted, or xenophobic words or actions. And we need to help protect the people who are going to be hurt the most by a Trump presidency. You know, my eight year old son was hysterical on Wednesday morning when he told him that Trump had won. The first thing he said was “we’re all going to die” and when we reassured him that he was safe and protected the next thing he said was “well, a lot of my friends are going to have to move”.  As a fairly affluent white child living in Massachusetts he is generally immune to the damage Trump could do. But even he knows that so many others are not, and this is one of the (many) things that has been keeping me up at night.

The Muslim population, the undocumented immigrants, people of color, the LGBT community, ALL women, and yes, even the poor, uneducated white people who have placed so much hope in this man who fed them lies and false promises are all at risk, in grave danger of losing so much. The people who voted for Trump because they think he can provide a better life for them have no idea what they have done, but we can’t rail against them. We have to now somehow help combat the damage that is going to be done over the next four years. It is true you know, that we are stronger together. A divided nation is a weak and vulnerable one, and we cannot afford to be that. But yet, yet, we cannot accept the diseased underbelly of our nation that this election has uncovered.

I’m not saying anything new. I’ve read so many similar posts and articles over the past few days. I just felt the need to add my voice and my vow to do what I can. I’m starting to think about the types of organization I want to be more involved with, and the causes that I think I can help and support. And I’m thinking about what I can do every single day to ensure that my family’s morals and values and beliefs are not compromised. I’m thinking about how to preserve the good that DOES exist.

No matter how small it seems, YOU can make a difference by the actions and words you chose in your every day life.  If you can’t think of any other way to help, then focus on that. Practice kindness, and if you have children, teach them to do the same. We can’t let our future generation believe that if you bully people long and hard enough, if you scare people badly enough, you get anything you want- that you get to be President of the United States.

Just a little thank you, Mr. President

p012513ps-034111The other night my daughter and I were watching a photo montage that someone, somewhere on some social media site had posted that documented the inner heart of Barack Obama’s presidency and I just have to tell you that it brought tears to my eyes. It left me with a gut wrenching sense of loss. And I can’t say my daughter was dry-eyed either. She’s 12, she shouldn’t be moved because she sees the President of the United States acting like a human being. But she was, and more than that… she was sad. She was sad because she, like the rest of us, knows what’s coming next.

The video collage was just a series of pictures of him being the decent, respectable, good humored, intelligent, thoughtful man that he has proved to be over the past eight years. None of the content had anything to do with public policy, or climate change, or health care, or arms agreements, or immigration reform or anything like that. But it was a stark reminder of what we’ll be giving up when he leaves office. Because being President of the United States also means being the type of person that all of America and all of the world can look up to. A leader that kids want to model themselves after, someone parents want their kids to strive to be. A good, moral, upstanding, pillar of our nation who exemplifies our values, mores and ideals. Someone who truly believes in America and puts the nation first (or mostly first- it is politics after all).1d4de8e2-e62d-4ab5-ac07-b3e048f04785-620x372

I am not here to talk about what he did or didn’t accomplish as President (that’s a different post entirely).  I’m just trying to say that I will mourn the loss of a President and First Family that I can look up to and respect. The Obamas have been GOOD for America- because they showcase what’s good IN America. They are a loving, generous, grounded, close knit family who believe in each other and believe in making a positive difference in this world. I am proud that they are the First Family of this great country, because for me they exemplify what we can be as a nation. We can be inclusive, we can be tolerant, we can create positive change by taking good ideas and working together to turn them into actionable plans.

That’s why the sharp contrast of Donald Trump is so completely incomprehensible to me.  I simply do not understand how anyone- ANYONE- could support him even if they despise Hillary Clinton with every bone in their body. And, I get it- I can see that people do, and I’m not going to use this post to try to change people’s minds about her. I’ve done my research and I’m satisfied that I’ve vetted her enough to understand that she is probably the single most qualified person to run for office EVER, and I’ve researched all the right-wing propaganda and media hype and have found most of it can be completely debunked or found at least to be mostly untrue. I did that on my own and it’s not my place to tell anyone that they should do that too (although by the way it’s pretty easy). But what I would like people to think about is this… Donald Trump has absolutely no idea what it entails to be President of the United States- not from a policy standpoint, and not from a temperament standpoint. He doesn’t even seem to understand the laws of our nation or have a good handle on what our Constitution is all about. And furthermore, he’s a misogynistic, narcissistic hate-monger who continuously tears down the good people of this country and pits groups against each other to incite violence and instill fear. How on earth is that going to make America a better place than it is now?

We aren’t a perfect nation; we still have so far to go to get where we really ought to be… and what we need is a competent, qualified, sane leader who can at least move us in the right direction. Someone who, even if they aren’t quite the total package, is at least someone who has proved to be dedicated to her country, someone with more than 30 years of practical, hands on experience. Yes, politicians are self serving, but they are also public servants and I think it’s unfair to say that Hillary Clinton has spent her entire political career ONLY being motivated by personal gain. I mean, there are really so many other things she could have done to earn a ridiculously high paycheck. But she has chosen to remain in public service and be embattled, criticized and ridiculed and she’s done that, at least in part, for us.

What do we get with Donald Trump?  Just “not Hillary”?  That’s just stupid, because “not Hillary” is NOT good enough for us. We deserve better. We all deserve better.

So, anyway… I kind of got off track (this really ugly election tends to stir up this roiling uncontrollable urge to vomit my very passionate opinions whenever I have the opportunity) but as I was saying:  THANK YOU Mr. President, and THANK YOU Mrs. Obama for being inspiring and positive role models for my kids, for making me believe that the world CAN be a better place, and for making real strides in helping our nation become a welcome place for all people from all walks of life.  This election season has shown the worst we have to offer and has created a deep and ugly divide, and the bitter aftermath of it will surely test all of our moral fortitude.  But during these trying times we won’t forget the message you’ve given us: the beautiful message of hope.

 

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Cranberries Are Cool

img_4907  Hey, you know what we did today?  We went to the Makepeace Farms Cranberry Harvest Festival.  And you know what else?  It was pretty darn cool.  I don’t know why I was surprised by how many people were there or by how much there was to see and do, because on the South Coast of Massachusetts cranberries are a really big deal.  Like really, really big. Like huge.

I drive by tons of cranberry bogs on my way to work.  Mostly they just look like scrubby fields full of dried up weeds and sandy dirt, but once a year they come alive in glorious bursts of reds and pinks.  When the fields are flooded and the berries rise to the surface and they start to get corralled for harvesting- well, the colors are so vibrant, so striking, so breathtakingly beautiful that you might perhaps be so impressed by the sight that you are tempted to pull over and take a few compelling photos (hey, Instagram opp!) After all, it’s not something you see every day. But, 1) you feel silly doing that and 2) you are running late because you had another hectic, whirlwind morning of trying to get four people out the door at different times and 3) you’re for once lucky enough NOT to be driving behind an 18 wheeler or a Fed Ex truck on the narrow, winding back road that makes up 80% of your commute, so you don’t.  And it’s kind of a shame because it’s sooooo pretty and it will all be gone by the time you drive home.

img_4879Did you know that the cranberry is the state berry of Massachusetts? No you didn’t!!!  Well it’s true. Not only that but cranberry is also the official state color AND cranberry juice is the state beverage of Massachusetts. If you tell me you knew all of that I might have to call you a liar.  I mean, who knows that kind of stuff?  I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a state beverage. But I do now because I went to the cranberry festival!  I hope they ask this question the next time I go to Trivia Night at our local pub. Then I’ll finally be able to answer a question correctly.  Trivia is not my strong suit, but now I know something trivial! Hoorah!

Yep, we sure do love cranberries here in Massachusetts.  Yum, yum.  Actually, can I be totally honest?  I actually don’t really like cranberries. While we were waiting in line for the wagon ride to take us out on a tour the woman in front of me offered me a raw cranberry.  She had a huge cupful.  I don’t really know how she got them, because there were signs posted everywhere warning people not to go in the bogs or take the berries so I knew she couldn’t have done that, because everyone follows the rules right?  Anyway, as she asked me she was popping them in her mouth like m&ms.  Have you ever tasted a raw cranberry?  Ugh, they are the most sour, most off putting, face puckering berry imaginable. And it’s sad because they look so tasty. But it’s a trick. They are only palatable if you boil them down to jelly and add like 16 cups of sugar. I can’t imagine anything worse than eating them raw. And I always pass on the sauce at Thanksgiving (unless my mom makes it- hers is ahMAZing because it has nuts and other stuff like apples and random things so it doesn’t taste like cranberries at all).  And also, by the way, they aren’t great for making garlands for Christmas trees.  I tried that one year because I saw it on Pinterest and let me tell you, it’s really hard to get a needle and thread through those suckers. But anyway, lots of people love them, and they are a very important fruit. Obviously.

So, it’s kind of cool that we live in the cranberry capital of the world.  If it weren’t for our little corner here, Thanksgiving across the country just wouldn’t be the same. And we wouldn’t have craisins.  Oh- also something interesting I learned today- craisins have only been around for about 10 years but they are now the number #1 cranberry product sold worldwide. Craisins are made from the skins of the berries that are used to make juice. The skins used to just be thrown away, but then some genius thought- hey these dried up skins look like raisins, so let’s keep them and call them.. hmmm.. what will we call them?  Ah! I know- craisins! Because it’s a cranberry raisin! And that’s how the craisin was born.  In case you were wondering.

Perhaps you will find yourself here in southeastern Massachusetts one day in early October. If so, please do check out the festival. Or just drive by a bog or two.  I promise that you will never look at a cranberry (or a craisin) the same way.

25.74

My Garmin watch is stopped at 25.74 miles.  That’s how far I made it in this year’s Boston Marathon.  Another year, another blog post about how the race didn’t turn out as expected. But this time it’s far more devastating and heart wrenching than I could ever imagine last year, when all I was doing was moaning about the crazy hot weather.

I was having a decent run- a good first half, then a little bit of trouble just before the hills in Newton.  But I rallied in Brookline and once I passed the “1 mile to go”  sign I knew that I had this one in the bag.  I was just soaking in all the sights and sounds that make this marathon so special- the screaming crowds, the cowbells, the kids offering water and candy and popsicles, the mass of other runners all sharing the same road but striving for their own individual goals. It was exhilerating and exhausting and I was loving it. But I was thrilled to be less than 1o minutes from finishing. I was psyched about seeing my loved ones and meeting up with my husband. Dreaming of a nice cold beer and my flip flops. I picked up the pace because I could see the turn onto Hereford.. the final stretch.

And then, unbelievably, everyone in front of me just stopped running.  It was like a solid wall of people suddenly materializing out of nowhere.  We were all confused and frustrated. What the hell? Then we heard someone say that they were stopping the race and that there was no finish line. Right then my heart sank. They don’t just stop the marathon- not unless it’s for something big. And then we heard the sirens and saw the helicopters.  Right after that the news started spreading that an explosion had happened near the finish line.  I immediately thought of my husband, who I knew was about 20 minutes ahead of me, and my parents who I knew were in the bleachers at the finish line. Everything sort of seemed to go sideways. I worried about where my kids and cousin were and about other dear friends I knew were going to be at the finish.  I grabbed for my phone – grateful that I’d stored in my hydration belt at the last minute- and started frantically dialing my husband, my parents, my friends and the cousin my kids were with, and when I couldn’t reach anyone, I started to panic.  Those were the worst minutes of my life.

I was the only one near me that had a phone so I let as many people as I could make calls- and no one could reach anyone.   People started freaking out.  We were all just leaving messages and hoping to connect with a live voice. We didn’t know what to do or what to believe- we heard a million different things. Finally my cousin called, and then thankfully my husband.  They were safe and thought my parents were too because they heard no one had been hurt in the bleachers.  It helped a little to know that they all were safe, but I needed to see them to truly believe it.  I needed real arms around me and their beautiful faces in front of mine.

So many minutes passed and still no one knew what to do.  We were all still standing where we’d stopped running.  No one really made a move to leave.  I was dying to meet up with my family so even though I wasn’t sure I should,  I ducked around the barricades and started walking.  I was cold, nervous, tired, sore, sick to my stomach and anxious to see for myself that my family & friends were unharmed.  I knew it would take a while for everyone to make their way to our designated meeting area (it was total chaos- so many people on the streets and cops trying to direct everyone away from Boylston St and the surrounding area) so I thought I would first head to the Westin where my bag was stored with the Boston Children’s Hospital team but I got half way there and decided it was too much.  I kind of just stopped walking.  The sight of so many ambulances lined up and so many police cars screaming by paralyzed me.  Some wonderful woman touched my shoulder and asked if I wanted her sweatshirt.  She had finished the race and had her bag and said she had an extra one, so she took the sweatshirt off her back and gave it to me, even though I tried to protest.  She also gave me a big hug and let me cry.  We cried together for a few minutes and then parted ways.  I wish I knew who she was because I would love to thank her for that moment of kindness.  It really helped.

A short time later I was finally reunited with my family at the Hilton where we had planned to meet. There were many runners and people looking for runners milling around the lobby.  The staff was amazing- bringing water, bananas, cookies, things to entertain the kids with.  They really went above and beyond to help everyone.  I hope they know how much it meant, how comforting they were in a time of high stress.

It wasn’t until after we got home and the kids were in bed that I learned just how much worse it could have been for us.  My husband didn’t want to talk about it when they could hear, so he was vague about where he had been when everything happened, but when they were safely asleep he shared his story. He had just passed mile 26 and had moved over from the left side of the road to the center in anticipation of crossing the finish line.  He saw the first explosion ahead and thought at first it was fireworks or a canon of some sort..but he knew that wasn’t quite right.  Though his memory is quite foggy he believes he stopped running or maybe started running back and then seconds later the second bomb exploded just yards from where he was- directly to his left and just slightly behind him. Fire, debris and smoke literally feet from his heels. He immediately jumped the barricade on the right hand side and ran down past Lord and Taylor where he spent a bit of time with another runner trying to figure out what was going on. He eventually made his way to the baggage claim and his phone.   He was able to reach all of us and assemble a plan to get everyone together and home safely.  His ability to remain collected and rational in such a chaotic and terrifying time awes me. He held it together for all of us, though inside his head he must surely have been frantic. I know how confused I was, and I was much more removed from it than he was. The fact that he, my parents, two of my closest friends, and my infant godson, his beloved brother and dad were all in the same block that two bombs exploded on was- and is – mind boggling and frightening. I cannot believe how lucky we are.

We are beyond fortunate that none of us were harmed.  Being so close to an act of terror is surreal.  People always say you never think it will happen to you and it’s true.  Even when it’s happening it doesn’t feel like it’s real.  But it is real, it has happened and regardless of how close we came to losing so much we are safe. We are together today and we are safe.  We will eventually overcome our feelings of grief, fear, terror and anxiety.  But we are heartbroken for the victims, survivors and families who were not as lucky. We will forever be changed by our experience and by what happened to them.  We will live with their pain in our hearts always.  So many lives have been forever altered by a senseless, random act of evil.

I cannot stop thinking about how the day unfolded.  It began as a beautiful day meant to celebrate the strength of the human spirit- triumph over challenge, perserverance, hope, and joy.  There was a shining sun, a glorious blue sky, cool brisk air.  It was hour after hour of being moved by the sheer dedication, determination and drive of runners I encountered all along the course.  It was overflowing with good will and humor from the enthusiastic crowds that lined the route en masse from Hopkinton to Boston.  And all of that, all that joy, all that glory and celebration of spirit ended with a devastating, unfathomable, sickeningly evil act.  And for what?  What reason? What cause? What message could whoever is responsible for this possibly be trying to send?  I will never understand.  Never.

Crock Pot Days

The only (and I do mean ONLY) good thing about the frigid Boston temps we’re currently experiencing (yep, it’s 1 degree outside right now- 1 little itty bitty degree) is that it gives me a good excuse to make nothing but soup and crock pot dinners.  The other night I made this Moroccan Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup  that even my son liked.  He normally will only eat soup if you “take out all the water.”  My daughter likes to point out that the “water” is what makes it soup, but he doesn’t care. He likes his soup dry.  But anyway… this one was a hit because the cous cous soaks up most of the broth and makes it more like a stew.  Easy and tasty to all… my kind of meal.
moroccan-chicken-butternut-soup-ck-l
Today I’m making pulled pork because we’re having some friends over for dinner and I didn’t feel like making a real meal for them.  The thought of throwing a hunk of meat into the crock pot at 7:00 am and forgetting it until they arrive tonight is very appealing. I am a lazy hostess.   Plus, my husband and kids LOVE pulled pork, so I’ll get some brownie points for making a favorite.

The only drawback to this plan was that I had to go to the butcher and order my meat. I’ve learned from experience that using butt meat is really the best cut for pulled pork.   It’s all marbled with fat, which normally would preclude me from buying it- I do TRY to be healthy…but it’s soooo freaking gooooood.  But I do have a problem ordering it.  I can’t say “can I please have two pounds of pork butt” with a straight face.  It sounds gross and it makes me laugh.  I think the butcher gets it because he smirked at me before he went to cut it and I swear he said “enjoy” with a just a hint of irony when he handed it to me.

I made the mistake of telling my kids about this encounter.  Will I never learn that you cannot say the words butt, poop, pee or anything remotely related to the toilet without having to hear about it for the next few hours? All through dinner last night my youngest kept chanting “pork butt, pork butt, pork butt.”  I’m sure the patons at the restaurant we were at thought it was a charming backdrop to their own dinner conversations.  And my daughter was horrified that we will be serving butt for dinner. She’s embarrassed by everything these days. Oh well…hopefully they’ll forget about it before everyone comes over tonight.  It’s bad enough I invited them over and then decided to put as little effort as possible into feeding them. No need to tell our friends that they’re eating butt.