Monday Musings: On moms, no TV and crowdsourcing.

Happy Monday to you.

This girl needs a vacation. At least a massage or three. And a facial. Maybe a nap. All of the above, really. One of my friends posted a picture last week of a Post-It note she wrote to herself at work. It said: “Do one thing at a time.” I so know that feeling — of being overwhelmed with work and life to the point that you just don’t know where to start. Paralyzed by the enormity of it all. This too shall pass, but for now I’m going to try to take that advice. And get that massage. That vacation — maybe.

This might be the first year in several that I haven’t taken a big, international trip … but who has the time?? It’s a vicious circle.

I had moms on the brain this weekend. First because I started reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, about her hike across the Pacific Crest Trail after her mother’s death. And because I was able to spend this Mother’s Day weekend with the two mothers in my life. I was also thinking yesterday of those whose moms aren’t with us and how incredibly painful that must feel every year (well, every day.) I’m blessed to still hug my mom, and Mimi in all her 95-year-old glory.

mothersday

I’ve been lucky enough to know both of my grandmothers into their 90s, as sharp and strong-willed and stubborn as ever. Aging is pretty rough, on the person and on everyone around them. But I love being able to sit with my grandmother, who can remember the stock market crash of 1929, newlywed life in Savannah during the war and the totally undeveloped Hilton Head Island of the 1960s. We should cherish our elders — my, the stories they can tell.

When I arrived at Mom’s this weekend, I learned that the cable was out and would be until this week. That meant no TV. All weekend long. You’d think I’d have gone into the withdrawal shakes, but it was actually fine. We cooked, we sat, we read and — quelle horreur! — we actually talked to each other. How refreshing.

While we’re (sort of) on the topic of vacation, let me try a bit of crowdsourcing. My family’s talking about cruising to Alaska next summer. Does anyone have recommendations? What line should we cruise? What passage should we not miss? Should we leave from Seattle or Vancouver? Send me whatcha got.

Have a good week, all.

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Culinary Bucket List: Chicory Coffee

One of the horrors of my life so far is that I haven’t been to New Orleans. Nope, I’ve never strolled the French Quarter past the wrought-iron trellises as jazz wafts through the air. And now I’m way too old and modest to road trip to Mardi Gras to drink hurricanes, flash my goods for beads and stumble around Bourbon Street. I kind of regret that I didn’t visit before Katrina, though now the city gets to show off its pluck and battle scars, which can only give it more character.

I’ve always thought New Orleans would have the same sensibility as Savannah, since they share deep historical roots, stifling humidity, a dark undercurrent of voodoo and mysticism and a general style of “elegant decay.” This is shameful to admit, but a lot of what I know about New Orleans is only pieced together from scenes in The Pelican Brief, those Zatarain’s commercials or The Real World: New Orleans. But I hear it’s a great foodie town. And that brings me to the next item on my culinary bucket list.

Today’s Eatocracy blog has a nice roundup on traditional New Orleans fare, and there are a lot of things listed that I’ve never eaten. I’ve never tasted true filé gumbo, sucked the brains out of a crawdad, enjoyed a shrimp po’ boy or a mouth-searing dish of jambalaya. I am confounded by something called étouffée, but I do enjoy saying it over and over again. Of all those foodie experiences though, my number one goal is to someday enjoy a cup of chicory coffee. Keep reading »

Like an alcoholic in a liquor store.

I stopped by the library’s Friends of the Library book sale at lunch today, which was nerd-o-rama to say the least. Men and women who looked like they hadn’t seen the sun in a few weeks were running through the aisles with red eyes and crazy hair, stuffing books into their NPR tote bags. Luckily my crowd reflexes are still sharp, and I dodged a few of them before it got ugly.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m also a book nerd of the highest order. Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of waking early on Saturdays and heading downtown to these enormous warehouses to spend the day book spelunking with my parents. I think we filled all the bookshelves in our new house that way.

When I moved to New York, I introduced both of them to the Strand. Big mistake, since I come by my bookaholism quite genetically. For us, just visiting that store is like being an alcoholic in a liquor store, a dieter in a chocolate shop, an addict in a pharmacy. I know my dad ordered their books online, and I made several car trips down with a boxload of special requests. I think that’s technically called trafficking. Luckily, in NYC you have to purge as much as you bring into your house, otherwise you’ll soon be sleeping on it. That curbed my “problem” for awhile, but now I have 2,000 square feet to fill. Be worried, very worried. Keep reading »