Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I call this melted Ricë! It's a screen shot I took during 
our video chat when I was at the beach... 
The first thing that would come back into focus was,
of course, her mouth!
Last night Ricë and I were talking about traveling, and what one thing you could do that would make your traveling 'easy.' I came up with two, of course. The first was the coffee. I need to be able to make coffee in my room or wherever I'm staying. I don't want to have to go to a hotel lobby to get coffee. I want coffee while I'm in my PJs, without having to put on make up. And, yes, dear reader, a trip outside the hotel room would require that I was showered, had my teeth and hair brushed, and had on my make up. But I can't put on my make up if I'm asleep, so I need the coffee right away. 

Most hotels these days - I usually stay at Days Inns - have those little coffee makers with little pods of disgustingly weak coffee. I carry filters and bags of my lovely 50/50 mix of dark French Roast and Midnight Sun. I also carry a French press and a little water heater thingy, in case I stay someplace weird where they don't have a coffee pot. I make enough so that I can have my coffee, get dressed, write a tad in my journal, and then make a bit more before I get on the road.

I also need some way to de-stress when I'm traveling. (Don't even bother suggesting that it would be less stressful if I gave up caffeine. Don't.) I carry a yoga mat and some exercise bands so I can stretch. The problem is that there's usually not enough room to do yoga easily in a hotel. They have refrigerators - not working, but there taking up space anyway - and TVs and stuff. So I guess the yoga matt is more for my mind. I like to walk every day, but that's hard to do at most Days Inns as they're right beside the highway... Not usually a good place to walk. 

I'm going to have to give this whole thing a bit more attention on my next driving trip. I prefer to just get in the car and drive until I'm where I want to be. I stop for gas, and do a bizarre set of movements and stretches while I'm gassing up, but I don't generally stop for anything else... Except if I hit rush hour in a strange city. A couple of years ago, I hit Memphis at rush hour. Traffic was crazy and people were nuts but they were Memphis nuts, not Austin, Texas nuts, so I wasn't in sync with them. I pulled off the road at a huge shopping mall and went inside and got a hair cut, bought some make up and looked at shoes for an hour. By the time I left, traffic was moving fine and I could drive another hour or so to a cheaper Days Inn. The ones near big cities are more expensive.

My mom used to travel with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a couple of real glasses. She had one of those old, plaid thermos bags that had at one time carried two thermi. She would have a thermos of coffee (which she drank from the thermos top) and the bottle of Jack Black with the glasses. When we got to a hotel, my job was to get the ice. Her comfort and relaxation came in the same container.

Smart lady!

Monday, May 10, 2010


I love traveling, but I love being home, too. Such a dilemma!  Home is all the small joys... My favorite coffee - a mix of Equal Exchange coffees that I buy at Wheatsville, my local food co-op. It's a wonderful thing to sit in one's own house with a cat on one's lap and drink a cup of coffee and fiddle on the computer... Check your email, read the NY Times and BBC sites, and contemplate your day.

There's so much to catch up on when you get home, even from a short trip. There's all the mail. Just sorting it - the junk from the stuff that's important - is a PITA. There's laundry to do, so, when I first get back, I feel like I'm just a tad 'behind the beat.' On this last trip, most of that came from getting up at 4 in the morning to leave Chapel Hill and fly home. It totally discombobulates me to get up that early. There's such a huge difference - for me - between getting up at 4 am and getting up at 6 am. I know myself, and the surest way for me to get sick is to have to get up before 6 am and do something stressful, like fly.

Not that flying itself is stressful, but you're so completely NOT in charge of anything once you get to the airport. And the food at airports - other than Austin's airport - just sucks. It's not food; it's some kind of plastic food-like substance that tastes gross and costs big bucks. I usually take my own food. Thank goodness no one's tried to put a bomb in a mango lately! I carry an empty plastic water bottle with me to refill at water fountains. Plus, at RDU, both Terminals 1 & 2 have 2nd Edition Booksellers, a locally-owned second-hand book store. Terminal 1 has the 'big' store; Terminal 2 is more of a kiosk type thing, but still, locally-owned! Used! 

Austin's airport, for those of you who have not been lucky enough to fly into Austin, has no chain food places. Or bookstores. It's real food. It may not be healthy food - it's still BBQ, ice cream, Mexican and pizza - but it's actual food cooked by real people. And the bookstore is our local, independent BookPeople.

This year I'm making a real effort NOT to buy anymore bottles of water, and to carry a reusable coffee cup with me so I don't have to use another plastic/styrofoam/paper cup. I have one in my car, but remembering to take it into a coffee place is difficult. 

And I haven't even tried to get one through airport security. Maybe next time.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

At the beach

Old Baldy, the oldest lighthouse in NC.  Not a working lighthouse, but still cool.
May and October are the best times to go to the beach, I think. It's not too hot yet, and it's before the kids get out from school, so it's relatively uncrowded. I'm on Bald Head Island, the southern barrier beach in NC, where Cape Fear is. To the east is the Atlantic, to the west (more or less) is the Cape Fear River. In between is a barrier island with a beach on one side and tidal marshes on the other. I like the marshes.

There are birds here. Big birds! Egrets, ibis, herons. There used to be a lot of clapper rails, but I haven't heard any in the last couple of years. I never saw one of them; they just kind of hung out in the reeds and made noise when you went by in a kayak.
Ibis Lake. No ibises (ibii?) here, but lots of egrets.
The vegetation looks a lot like my part of Texas. Texas is a big damn state, so it does NOT look like the vegetation out where Ricë is, which would be no damn vegetation. The only thing they have in profusion here that we don't in my part of TX are pine trees. The live oaks and palmettos and various palms all look familiar.

I think the air here is the most delicious air in the world. It's sweet and tangy. I ride around on a bike taking big gulps of it. Riding a bike here is good because it's mostly flat, the island, and almost anyone can ride. There's an old coaster bike in the garage that works mostly. One pedal is a little wonky - it's set in to the crankarm at an angle, so your knee moves in an ellipse as you pedal - but no one goes very fast here. On the island, only emergency services, Island services, and contractors can drive cars and trucks. The rest of us get around on electric golf carts and bikes and by foot! That's partly why the air is so heavenly, I do believe.
The view from the porch. The creek at high tide.
One of my sisters brought kayaks, small ones, so we've been able to take to the creek and paddle about and float. I love being on the water. I actually love paddling.

We're here to scatter my Dad's ashes. I know, it's illegal, but we're not letting a little thing like that stop us! We scattered some in the Atlantic, and dolphins came and swam offshore. The day before yesterday, it rained all day. Just before sunset, the clouds opened a gap up in the west, allowing the day's pent-up sunshine to flood through with it's warm red light, and turn the tops of the marsh reeds to a stunning red. 

We all ran to look and then saw the rainbow. No! Two rainbows, the inner one complete, starting on Middle Island across from us, and ending somewhere off Cape Fear in the Atlantic. I got some ashes and headed out in a kayak to a place in the creek where I could see the Village of Bald Head and Old Baldy, NC's oldest standing lighthouse (it's not the real lighthouse anymore for the ship channel; I think that's the Oak Island Light, but it's cool looking). I dribbled the ashes in the water, looking at the clouds, golden on the bottom, ragged and dark on the tops, the Village backlit in a wash of gold light. 

Dad would've loved it.