Novel Summer

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Dear Wholeheart friends,

I’ve been remiss! This summer, June to September, was spent winding my novel down to a close. Ten years of running towards it/running away/running-in-circles finally culminating in my typing the final words of a strange, difficult, fun, inspiring adventure. Can’t tell you more yet, but soon, I hope.

In the meantime, please enjoy this little snapshot of autumn moving in.

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Dance It Out In the Boston Dance Underground

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Some eleven or twelve years into my Boston life, I discovered what I’ve dubbed the Dance Underground. Not clubs. Not classes. Not weddings or any other official-type events. More like dancing in someone’s living room with a whole host of new friends. Or biking down the Southwest Corridor path and discovering a free dance night hosted in a converted garage. That kind of underground.

Sliding scale cover charge sign

the baby dances

From the annual Cambridge City Dance Party to the Holi Color Festival, there are just so many low (and no!) cost ways to shake your groove thing. Including one frighteningly wonderful offering in my own backyard.

globe string lights

hoola hoops and giant slinky

alison & adreinne at dj station

Modeled after Cambridge’s Dance Freedom and Dance Friday weekly events, Dance JP is the child of two well-organized, tune-toting members of the Boston community. On the third Saturday of each month these ladies and accompanying volunteers rent and set up a function room at the First Baptist Church on Centre Street. There’s food, pillows on which to lounge when not dancing, hoola-hoops, and string lights. And the crowd. Wow, the crowd. Age 0+, age 60+, age everybody-in-between. The smiles and bare feet. The moves and grooves. The leaps and laughter. It’s not something to miss.

See you there?

view of feet in dance space

chatting on the dance floor

out-of-focus dancing at dance jp

balloon and people dancing

When You Wish You Had a Photo, But Are Also Glad You Don’t

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As it often happens, one of the most beautiful and magical moments of my life has no accompanying photo.

It’s a gorgeous summer evening. Campus in Rhode Island that I’ve grown to know twice, through the eyes and experiences of a sweet/funny/gentle friend and a dynamic/gorgeous/brainy cousin. This time I’m here for the cousin. Round bulbs are strung, or maybe they’re string-lights. There’s a wide swarth of soft lawn, slightly wet, mite-bit muddy.

People are everywhere. Many younger than me, some older. I feel them more than see/hear them. There’s expectation, joy, excitement.

With my cousin, mother, and aunt, I’m crossing in front of a band on a stage. My slip-on shoes are off. We’re headed somewhere, perhaps to tables to sit. But first we’re going to dance.

Three of us women, traipsing across the lawn. Cakewalking. Skipping, dancing. Perhaps people notice us, perhaps they don’t. For me the world is just us three, the misty night sky, the music. Planet spinning under foot.

The moment was just that – a moment. And, for me, an eternity of joy.

Beauty in the Mail

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The story, as I like to tell is, is that I knew immediately, when Kirsten punched me (hard!) in the arm while we were meeting for, perhaps, the first time at a volunteer gig in high school: I’m going to be this woman’s friend. That’s it. Ever since.

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In high school, Kirsten introduced me to some of my favorite musicians. Her family always held smiles for me when I visited and treated me like I was an equal, not just their oldest daughter’s friend. Her sister and friends didn’t seem to mind that I tagged along to their parties and events.

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We grew and changed and moved, as friends often do. Yet, the central piece of our friendship remains. That curiosity, that humor, that attention to what is simple and sweet and beautiful.

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Dear Kirsten, I’m sorry I’m late in saying (as I often am, but . . . ) thanks. Those West Coast pinecones are gorgeous.

Library Tour: Portland Multnomah County Library

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Sometimes, my 80s shows when I visit a new (to me) library.

What swivels my head and has me coming for a closer look? Wooden card catalogs, tall-as or taller than me with ornate metal drawer pulls smoothed from many years use.

Card catalog is fragile

While I’m first to want to visit a fresh new library, I’m still there with you, 80s, 70s, 90s. Your wide windows and gleaming hallways. Your themed carpets. Your commemorative plaques.

Moss in tree outside window

Walking up to the top level

Domed roof

Rose city carpet

Beverly Cleary plaque

Beverly Cleary, a childhood (and adulthood) favorite of mine

And then there are those special touches I never saw in the decades of my youth. This is what makes each library I visit so unique. Thoughtfulness: each library’s approach to meeting the needs of its audience, its patrons, its co-collaborators in word-love and learning and listening and reading and play. Discovery.

Library shopping baskets

Zine collection

Zines for the readin’

The Multnomah County Library of Portland, OR, Central Branch, charmed us with its special touches, friendly staff and many, many wooden chairs lining the walls that all but whispered, here, have a seat. Also, if you’re visiting, check out the John Wilson Special Collections room! You will discovery many an enormous and many a tiny book.

Is this your local library? Leave a comment about your experiences/wishes/favorites.

Whole Heart Portland, Part 2

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joanna and david at the river, portland

When travelling, in addition to enjoying the company of friends (i.e. staying in their homes for free and demanding that they cook for me) and scoping out libraries, I seek what I refer to as “health food stores.” Gimme a long aisle of bulk foods bins, and I practically melt. Granola combos I haven’t yet experienced? Yum. Kombucha on tap? Yes!

new seasons market at rosa parks station

New Seasons Market has me hoping this charming new Portland-based chain will successfully make the leap to my home-coast, similar to its now ubiquitous (and occasionally maligned) predecessor.

I also like a good wander . . .

end petlessness bulletin board

rosa parks station

leaves in clover

outside powells books, portland

. . . particularly pared with a purposeful dash to get somewhere I’ve never been, on time, and with beer/treats in tow!

the sprocket podcast

David and I joined the hosts of The Sprocket Podcast, a show I’ve been listening to for a few years that covers ideas, activities, and efforts related to “simplifying the good life.” It was a delight to meet Brock and Aaron in person, and appreciate a bit of the good life ourselves. (Tune in to episode E157 to hear David and me offer very helpful, non-solicited advice on how to cook plaintain and what happens when you attempt to carry a laptop in your bike panniers.)

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david checks out the camera

“So, there are a few different types of plantain . . .”

Librocubicularist

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A good friend sent me this word from her word-of-the-day email: librocubicularist: person who reads in bed. (This word ultimately comes from the Latin ‘libro,’ book, plus ‘cubare,’ to lie down.)

Yup, that’s me. Never happier than when I’ve got a pile of books (and maybe a cat) wrapped up somewhere on my bed. Nothing says satisfaction like waking up with a book-print on your cheek. :^)

Whole Heart Portland, Part 1

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IMG_8317 Like many folk, I have a bucket list of cities I hope/want to visit.

  • Portland, OR
  • Seattle, WA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Madison, WI
  • Montreal, CA
  • Reykjavik, IS
  • Savanna, GA
  • Singapore (city-state-country?)
  • Sydney, AU
  • Legoland, DK (what? that’s NOT a city? hmm)

Spots I’ve heard about that intrigue me. Foods I haven’t tried, libraries I’ve yet to tour . . . Truth? I’m pretty unlikely to travel to a location that isn’t home to someone I know. So thank goodness my sister-in-law moved to Portland!

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Meet our sister

Once J made the jump, my years of talking turned to a mere hour or two of flight searching. Then, last fall we landed . . . and loved it!

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When my partner and I returned home to Boston, friends asked: how was it? I kept coming back to chill, sweet, calm. We didn’t do a whole lot of rushing. But I guess one rarely does on vacation?

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As is often the case in my traveling experience, I recognized cities I know well in Portland. I reacquainted myself with Paterson, NJ’s wide boulevards and Leipzig, Germany’s centrally located, efficient light rail lines. The fresh, water-scent reminded me of seaside Jersey, lakeside Well, NL, and even that odd whiff of surf one sometimes gets in Davis Square, Somerville.

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City’s (world’s?) smallest park

Stay tuned for the next installment, where I’ll no doubt bombard you with more sights (and some library tourin’).

Share It!

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After a huge weekend swap that attracted over thirty women (and a few babies), I’m upping my claim. I’d wager that approximately 70% of my clothing is the spoils of swaps. The bests and favorites of my wardrobe definitely had homes before mine, and it’s not just that funny mini-cape or those like-new Keen sandals, friends:

My camera? “Permanent loan.”

My KitchenAid stand mixer (with ice cream attachment!) was a surprise gift from a friend who had received a new one.

The cat? Yeah. Him, too.

Despite what the media/advertisements/press/etc. may attempt to convince you, sharing is integral to living. Humans from way-back-when knew it. We know it now: honey tastes twice as sweet when your friend owns the hive (hint, hint bee-keeping pals!)

The resources below were sent me from a friend (see: sharing) and I’m passing them on to you. Have experience with one or two? Leave a comment below.

https://m.brightneighbor.com//index.html – rent, buy, trade or borrow country-wide

http://neighborsforneighbors.org/ – run by “professional neighbor” Joseph Porcelli and his team, this site is local to Jamaica Plain, MA and offers meet-up type affinity groups, a Snow Crew assistance program to help move that white stuff in winter, alerts, and more

streetbank.com – sharing across “the pond”

http://farmhack.net/home/ – open source community for the farm-types among us

http://freegan.me/ – meet “freegans” worldwide and learn what’s free where, and how to find it

https://www.freecycle.org/ -I bet you know this one. (So far I’ve received: a cell phone, a safety vest and reflective strips for biking, a VCR, a typewriter, a papercutter, hangers, and more items than I can remember. My favorite aspect, though, is giving things away. So satisfying.)

http://neighbor.ly/ – crowdsourcing for your community

http://www.citizinvestor.com/ – invest in public projects

http://www.cityofboston.gov/doit/apps/citizensconnect.asp – download this free app to help Boston improve it’s streets, sidewalks, and other infrastructure (i.e., pothole just swallow your bike? report it!)

https://yerdle.com/- free stuff countrywide! (a friend of mine helped start this one, definitely check it out)

 

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