Monday Musings: On being late to the party.

orphan black

Happy Monday, all.

I know I’m way late to the party, but I’ve just discovered Orphan Black. Sci-fi is usually not my bag, but I kept seeing ads and hearing raves about this show. Plus, I heart BBC America. So I watched the first episode on demand and … I’m hooked. It may have been a nice, sunny weekend, but I don’t know because I was on my couch bingeing 16 episodes of Orphan Black. Continue reading

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Trip Bits: After it’s all over

Read the whole Trip Bits series.

Departing my last three international excursions, I’ve carried home a particular present: illness. I seem to have a knack for it.

Usually it comes to me on the last day, right before I’m about to get on a long, overnight, international flight from which there is no escape for 6+ hours. And at high altitudes in a cramped space with 300 other people is just where you want to be with an achy body and a stuffy head.

But it’s (sort of) my own fault. I pick vacations where I’m going to run hard and hardly sleep. No lollygagging on a tropical beach — there’s too much to see! to buy! to eat! Continue reading

Trip Bits: Around and about

Read the whole Trip Bits series.

I’m getting to the age where I’m okay with investing in quality items that may cost more but are going to last. Travel bags are no different. Before London, I bought a cross-body bag at Target that was big enough to haul the camera, my notebook and other necessities while out in the city all day. But it fell apart on like the third day. And that was fine, since it was $20. Well, not fine. But not unexpected, I guess.

Then I started reading Aspiring Kennedy — which documents Lauren’s life and times in London, her travels across Europe and more. When she endorsed Ellington bags, I was intrigued. Plus, she offered a giveaway!

Like Lauren, I bought both the Mia crossbody purse and folding tote. And got the “extra” wallet in green. When they all arrived, I opened the box and out wafted the most delicious aroma. Leather. Real, creamy leather. The olive color is subdued but rich, with silky yet durable fabric. I used both bags every day of our trip to Israel. Every day.

Mia folding tote in Olive

Mia folding tote in Olive

Mia crossbody tote

Mia crossbody purse in Olive

The crossbody was the perfect size to sling over myself and still be able to wend my way through tight crowds. (Though it wasn’t quite big enough to fit my Canon Rebel DSLR camera). The folding tote was my backup bag to hold the camera, the day’s purchases, snacks, etc. Since we were on a bus, it worked — I could bring the larger bag but leave it behind for each excursion. If I was city traveling, I would just upgrade to the folding tote for all-day outings, when you need a larger, catch-all bag.

I’m a big fan.

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With my Mia crossbody purse, on the Sea of Galilee. I’m actually on the shore, not standing in the water, promise. I leave that to Jesus.

On a day of sightseeing, my camera and I are attached at the hip. The problem is that I’m still learning how to use it. I’m not so savvy with a camera, even though I’m learning, with practice, to improve my picture taking. iPhones and other smartphones — even iPads! — take great pictures now, but I still feel so professional and artsy with my big, fancy camera. Though I’m not sure its picture quality is any better than some of the good point-and-shoots out today.

I went to a photography class recently, and they swore by lens hoods. I already have a UV filter on my lens, but off I went to dutifully find a lens hood cover. I’d been warned that they were expensive, but I found a plethora on Amazon for under $10. Most of those are even rubberized and collapsible. So, I bought the $6.99 version hoping it would be easy to pack and carry.

hood

I can’t tell much difference. (But keep in mind that I have no idea what I’m doing.) The first day all was going well, until I noticed the hood cover at full extension was corrupting all my pictures. I slid it back, but I still have soft, dark spots lingering in the corners of some of my photos. (Even when I removed the hood cover completely. Hmph.)

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Photography people: weigh in here. Are these hood covers really the end-all-be-all in picture taking? Inquiring minds need to know, for next time.

Leave your comments below.

Coming tomorrow: Trip Bits for when it’s all over. Read the whole Trip Bits series.

Trip Bits: Before you go

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I am a self-diagnosed “super planner.” I love making lists and scheduling things. If you want to have dinner on April 5, 2015, I will dutifully mark it in my paper pocket calendar and will see you then. Because I must. touch. paper. I can’t hang with that digital, smartphoney stuff.

When I’m about to travel, I savor researching the local sightseeing or dining options and putting all the details together.

Yes, my friends find my zest for itineraries kind of ridicul … charming. Yes, I wanted to be a travel agent in high school. And, no, that dream is not yet dead. (Remember the time I found my people?)

So I was intrigued to read this article:

Read: What a Great Trip! And I’m Not Even There Yet

I get the idea. That sometimes the fun is in the planning, before the headaches of delayed, long and cramped travel, annoying vacation partners or destination disappointments.

I’ve experienced all of those on one trip or another, but I’ve been decently lucky. My travels have been smooth, fun and memorable, even with minor hiccups and setbacks. I can roll with the punches. (But I’ve not yet been bitten by a shark.) Continue reading

Summertime, and the travelin’ is easy.

skyline
Y’all. I’m back from a whirlwind trip to the other side of the world.

Well, actually, I’ve been home for three weeks, but I’m only now — just. now. — recovering from the vacation exhaustion/jetlag/end-of-trip cold. (Plus, I had a little birthday in there that set me back a couple of days.)

[You’re not dreaming, either. South & Sundry got a little makeover while we were gone, only because I get bored with these things. Hey, spice of life.]

Our trip — to Israel, for those of you who didn’t get my hint or aren’t following along on Instagram — was magical. Sun-kissed. Blessed. Mile-a-minute. Profound. So fun. Dare I say, easy? Continue reading

Monday Musings: On just dropping by.

Good Monday, all.

I’m just dropping by, since that’s all I seem capable of these days. But these few random musings I felt compelled to share.

vilakazi

A couple of years ago, I had the good fortune to travel to South Africa, a life-changing experience. I never thought I would go to Africa — I never felt its calling, as some do. That is until I went. South Africa is a fascinating, devastating, infuriating, inspiring country, and I will feel connected to it in my soul for the rest of my days. It’s hard to explain unless — until, I hope — you visit yourself. So, though we knew it was coming, Nelson Mandela’s death last week struck a chord. He was an amazing man who lived an extraordinary life. Continue reading

Monday Musings: On getting back on the horse.

No, no. You’re not hallucinating.

It’s me. I’m actually writing a blog post. I know that hasn’t occurred since, oh, June, and now it’s, oh, November. But here I am.

There’s no good excuse, really. Just that this writing thing is hard. And sometimes I believe I have nothing interesting to say. And sometimes I overthink and overedit, resulting in a diatribe of incoherent thoughts followed by general posting paralysis. And my discipline begins to wane. So, sure, I’ve been busy. We’ve all been busy. But then a funny thing happened. Several other bloggers I read expressed the very same sentiments. We’ve all been in a rut together. Continue reading

One year ago.

London bridge

June 1, 2012. One year ago today.

It was a big day. It certainly felt like a big, busy, stressful day at the time, but looking back only highlights its importance.

To begin the day, I interviewed for the second time for the job I have now. A job I desperately wanted but had thought and would continue to think had passed me by, all the way until October.

I worked for the rest of the day and headed to the airport. I was going to London.

Then I got momentous news. Angie was in labor! While I guzzled as many pre-flight chardonnays as I could handle at the US Airways lounge, she texted me updates from her hospital bed. Happy first birthday, little, sweet Sadie!

That night, the plane took off to London, where I’d spend my birthday week. It was in many ways a trip of a lifetime — one I felt compelled to take, even by myself, and one I felt I conquered for many reasons. The queen was honored that I was able to make it.

It was just one little day, but I still feel its ripples today. My, how life can change in a day. And what a difference a year makes.

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.