Gratitude Chapter 2: Shoes With the Appropriate Arch Support

As we established in my last post (Gratitude Chapter 1: Teachers), 2018 has turned me into an actual Disney villain, but because 1) the year hasn’t been all bad and 2) villainous scheming takes time I just don’t have right now, I decided to focus on the things for which I am grateful this year each day leading up to Thanksgiving.

Today, I’m grateful for…

Shoes with Arch Support

Hear me out.

I turned thirty this year. And as someone who did her fair share of fretting about leaving behind a decade, and also as someone who has rolled her eyes at her predominantly younger colleagues bemoaning turning the dreaded *25*, thirty is not actually that bad. As a matter of fact, it’s really pretty good. You’ve never been more autonomous or confident. I’m my most financially secure, and by that I mean, I’m up to my knees in debt, as opposed to my eyeballs like I was in my twenties.

What can’t be denied is my body’s growing collection of snaps, crackles, pops, moans, groans, and creaks that seems to have gotten noticeably larger in the last year.

The first time I threw out my back, I ended up trapped in a rotating door in a K-Mart in Astor Place in New York. (It’s a tale as old as time!) Continue reading

Gratitude Chapter 1: Teachers

I’ve been trying to figure out why 2018 feels like I stubbed my toe on the calendar. Why time has long felt broken, and why I, to put nicely, have been such a grumpy rage-monster.

For one, there’s something big and exciting going on in 2019– a trip to Scotland that is eight years in the making– and I’ve lost my patience with waiting.

I think it also doesn’t help that on January first, someone moved in above me, and has proven himself to be an actual trash bag with legs. After six months of waking up at 2:00 in the morning to the walls shaking because of his music’s bass or scream-rock so loud it sounds like it’s coming from my inside my own apartment, I decided to say something about how loud his music is, not to mention the cigarette butts he continually dropped into my plants. His response was, “oh you must be new around here.” My response was, “I’ve lived here for four years, but that doesn’t change the fact your music is still too loud.”

And lastly, I also think there are things that smart people don’t unpack on their public blog. And as I fancy myself, at the very least, a person, I won’t bring that here. (Hint: it’s work stuff.)

But suddenly we find ourselves almost, not quite, but mostly at the end of 2018, getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving. And while this year has not been my finest chapter, for every night spent deciding if you could go back to sleep after waking up to the trash-bag, based on the stomping coming from upstairs, seemingly learned to clog, there are days spent laughing at pictures of my new niece, days spent seeing nature, and and days spent learning something new. 2018 hasn’t been all bad.

In an effort to stop my progression into actual bridge troll who forces people to answer riddles before they get responses to their emails, each day this week leading up to Thanksgiving, I’ll be posting something for which I am grateful.


This week I took a class in scarf-dyeing at a local art studio. The class was full of bubbly and bold older women, bedecked in brightly-colored geometric glasses or aprons printed with assorted animals, some attending with friends, others by themselves, everyone wanting to try something new.

We were there to learn bleeding tissue paper dyeing, using special tissue paper positioned along our fabrics, and soaking it in water and dye set to make wholly unexpected patterns in our scarves.

It’s a process driven ultimately by doing certain steps in certain order for certain lengths of time, and in a class full of students trying something that they’d only seen demonstrated once, the class reached a point where it descended into something a little resembling madness.

One woman wearing an apron embroidered with the phrase “Yummies for Tummies,” asked, “how long do the scarves need to soak again?” Continue reading

“Well Done, Sister Suffragette”

Currently, through commercials on my TV, in my podcasts, and on my Facebook and Instagram newsfeeds, my tailored ads are telling me I should and shouldn’t vote for candidates in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Georgia, and Texas.

Here is a secret: I live in one of those places.

I’m not exactly sure why the creepy algorithms that decide what ads you see cannot pin me down– despite the fact that I love any excuse to yell, “I’M WILY!” And I did actually donate to Beto O’Rourke’s campaign and bought a t-shirt for good measure, so Texas isn’t actually that hard to understand– but I am abundantly aware that there’s an election coming up.

I am so aware that there’s an election coming up. I don’t think I’ve ever been so aware of anything. I am 10 out of 10 aware of this election.

2016 didn’t go the way many of us expected, and the two years since then have been exhausting. And I’m one of the lucky ones to just be exhausted.

Growing up on the movie, Mary Poppins, I learned what a suffragette was pretty early in the game. Admittedly, I wouldn’t realize till my world history class at TC Roberson high school why it was a big deal that “Mrs. Pankhurst [had] been clapped in irons again,” but I knew a suffragette made sure that I would get a say.

For years, that was my image of the suffrage movement. Glynis Johns, playing Winifred Banks, dancing around her house singing about men as a group being “rather stupid.”

But on becoming something resembling a historical researcher, other images starting finding their way in. Here happens to be a collection of some of my favorites. The good, the bad–because good golly, some things won’t ever change–the inspiring, and the funny.

“The Suffragette Bar”

By Walter Wellman, 1909.

This is supposed to be disparaging towards suffragettes, but I don’t know, man. Ice cream, pretzels, an outfit with a saucy print, AND I get to vote? Facebook-mark me as “interested” in that event. Continue reading

“Think of the safety!”: Learning to Curl and a Rogue Resilience Metaphor

Every time the Olympics come along, both Winter and Summer, I find myself asking people in what sport they would compete if given the chance. I think it’s interesting to see people’s different approaches to the same question, and I think, if we’re being honest, we all daydream about what it would be like to compete.

Some people think of what sport they think looks like the most fun. Others try to think of what sport is over the fastest, to try and keep the embarrassment short. A third option is thinking of what sport you could do with the skill set you have now.

That’s usually the one I go with. What could I do with my current abilities? What could this rolling suitcase full of bones and pomplemoose La Croix, this old grocery bag packed to the gills with leftover risotto and all the words to “Take a Chance on Me” by ABBA– I have a *very* healthy self-image– reasonably do at the Olympic games?

For Summer, my answer is usually rhythmic gymnastics, a sport that tends to be the butt of a lot of sports jokes. I choose that sport not because I am trying to belittle what those athletes do, but it’s a sport that involves dancing with a ribbon. If that’s not a sport that is singing my heart song, I don’t know what is. Usually when I’m dancing with ribbon, it’s just for a regular work meeting or buying spinach at the grocery store, but I guess I could use it in a competition too.

For the Winter Olympics, the answer is curling, the game where you slide stones across the ice to try and score points by getting them in the “house,” a target-shaped zone for which you ideally aim, your teammates frantically sweeping to reduce friction between the stone and the ice. Because looking at it, the sport is definitely just scooting some regular old rocks around on some regular old ice. Continue reading

The Almost Travel Blogger Tours Wisconsin: Viroqua

I almost convinced someone once that cows have magnetic blood, and if you leave them unattended in a field, they’ll naturally start walking North.

It was for an ice breaker question at a meeting during “Bov-ember,” the very famous and very made-up  month where my coworkers and I did our jobs like usual, but everything was slightly more cow-themed than usual. (Bovine+November=Bov-ember) The question, the traditional opening to our weekly workgroup meeting, was, “what is your favorite fact about cows? And if you don’t have one, make one up!” I, of course, made one up.

Even after realizing some of my more trusting coworkers believed me, and indignantly yelling, “of course they don’t!” I did love picturing cows gently grazing in a northerly direction, moving in a direction that is unconscious but still makes sense.

I don’t think humans have magnetic blood- or do we? That’s the usual explanation people offer when I explain I can’t wear watches because they always die within two months. They say I’m magnetic.- I do believe humans have true north. When left unattended, there are certain directions our bodies get pulled.

This week I realized that mine is the book store. Which is also probably the reason why my apartment is now mostly book. I’d donate some to Goodwill, but I’m pretty sure some of these book piles are load-bearing at this point. Continue reading

The Found Art of Martha Haversham

Sometimes in the course of my research/googles-gone-awry, I run into things that are too charming, interesting, or striking for me not to share. No advice, no pearls of wisdom- I’m definitely, pretty much, mostly very certain those are reasons you decide to stop by- just something cool that might brighten your day. This week? The found art of Martha Haversham.

Continue reading

Switchel: Making Nature’s Gatorade

Welcome to part three of the four part series breaking down the latest additions to my cookbook collection, Lemons, Cucumbers, Honey, and Strawberries from Short Stack Editions, short form, ingredient-specific cookbooks.

On the last episode of Under the Parrot Umbrella, we solved the world’s problems and answered the age old question: is there good way to bake a cucumber? Answer: no.

This week, we tackle honey.


Specifically, switchel, a predecessor of sports drinks and hailed as “nature’s Gatorade.”

Which is appropriate because today, I’m pretty sure I had the hardest workout of my life. But I don’t know that’s saying much.

Aside from a short window in grad school, I’ve never been much of a runner, instead preferring a steady and forceful stroll. My friends actually make fun of me when I find myself running because my technique is more of a horse-prance. Come to think of it…is there such a think as dressage for humans? Because I think I just found my niche.

And when I was a dance class regular as a child, I won “best smile,” as opposed to best anything else that has to do with dance.

Middle school gym was a horror. One of my teacher volunteered me during our track unit to demonstrate jumping hurdles. What I did instead was show the class how to knock every one of those hurdles over because I was a child who won best smile in dance class. You think that’s a child that’s good at methodical jumping?

In college, my finest fitness class performance was jazz aerobics, so there’s that.

But this week, I boxed, and it was amazing but rough.

Fitness week, a week where gyms around town offer special promotions and free classes, just wrapped up. I had grand, but unfulfilled intentions of visiting no fewer than five gyms, but I slept through and forgot about the classes at all but one.

Which is more than zero though, so….I think I’m doing pretty well.

On Thursday night I attended an intro to boxing. My exact review I texted my mom and sisters after was, “IT WAS AWESOME.” It was 95% women who wanted to learn a new skill and would encourage each other and cheer each other on. There were also two guys who very earnestly made Mortal Kombat style fighting noises whenever they were punching. It was all I could do not to respond with “Pew! Pew pew! Pew!” with each of my punches. It was free promotional Intro to Boxing class, guys. Calm down.

I tried another boxing class this morning. It packed more of a……punch.


No, but really. It was brutal. Awesome, but hard. And when it was all said and done, I hobbled my way next door to my favorite local coffee shop, and collapsed at a table, trying not to yell for a breakfast sandwich the way people on television yell for doctors in the emergency room.

“HELP! Someone! I need a breakfast sandwich! Please! A breakfast sandwich! With bacon preferably! And make sure there’s cheese! Please don’t forget about the cheese! There’s no time to waste!”

I needed to replenish. Obviously my first instinct was a breakfast sandwich for reasons that are cheese, but there’s a chance I could have done a better job with some electrolytes.

Which brings me back to switchel.

And guys. I’m officially not going to feel bad about what I’m about to type.

Switchel is really interesting! This drink, the typical recipe consisting of water, ginger, vinegar, and a sweetener (molasses, honey, or syrup), is an all natural way to replace electrolytes that dates back to colonial America, it’s predecessor oxymel, a drink of water, honey, and vinegar dating back to the fifth century.

It was the drink of choice of farmers, the Amish, and, naturally, Congress!

Because of the close quarters and lack of air circulation in earlier congressional buildings, there was always a large bowl of switchel on hand. Though they added rum to theirs.

It’s as they say, “ain’t no congressional session like a John C. Calhoun congressional session, because a John C. Calhoun congressional session has switchel.”

They say that. All the time.


  • 2 tablespoons of a sweetener: molasses, syrup, or honey. (But guys, go with honey, or what even is the point of this blogpost?)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of finely grated ginger
  • 1 mason jar

Mix the honey, vinegar, ginger, and lemon in the mason jar.

Fill the rest of the jar with water. Recommendation: this isn’t called out in any recipe, but I used bottled sparkling water 1) because water in my neighborhood tastes like a stapler, and 2) what drink wasn’t ever helped along by a fizz? (see: seven years of diet Dr. Pepper)


All in all, I could see how this is probably not a drink I will have all the time. It’s an acquired taste, but once acquired, this would be a nice drink to have when you need to rehydrate!

And all in all, I liked Honey by Rebekah Pepper! It might be my favorite so far! I’ve already been crunching the numbers trying to decide when to have the honey-sesame bacon from her “Little Bites” section. And then I’ve been trying to decide who I can swindle with promises of compliments and cheese to make me the roast chicken with lemon and pink pepper honey butter. And then there’s the honey malt ice cream recipe.

Guys, Honey is winning this race.

Coming soon and bringing up the rear: Strawberries!

For previous recipes: