chitta chatter

what are words for?

Posted in being human, things that make you say "whaaa?" by Nancy on December 28, 2018

My dad likes to tell the story of how, when I first started talking, I was constantly pointing at everything, asking, “Wha dat? Wha dat?” Then, for no apparent reason, I clammed up and didn’t say another word for six months. But I wonder if it was just because I realized all the answers I was getting were not actually expanding my horizons and understanding of the world. In fact, they were whittling them down to bite size portions, and in the process, eliminating the vast oceans of experiential and innate knowledge that spill like Niagara Falls over the edges of the miniature ice cube trays that are words.

I just watched an interview of Neil Strauss (by Luke Story for the Lifestylist podcast), one of my favorite writers/thinkers in the world today. He was talking about teaching his son the words for different things and realizing that what he was really teaching him was separation.


I mean, I’m well aware that language (my stock in trade) is a painfully insufficient proxy for actual ideas, experiences, truth … pretty much everything. But I had never once considered that, by forcing all those things into ridiculously too-small boxes (i.e., words), we not only separate them from us and from existence, we separate OURSELVES from existence. And each other. We become the outside observer, the namer and partitioner of all of creation, rather than a participant in it, fully immersed in and undistinguishable from it.

So maybe my six months of silence was a valiant, last-ditch effort to avoid being cast out of the garden. Kids know what’s up. Before the world gets to them, anyway. Until all their unbridled joy and curiosity and presence and boundary-less-ness is snuffed out like a cheap cigar. Civilized. In cold blood.

Oh well. Gotta give my younger, wiser self credit for trying.


identity theft

Posted in adventure, being human by Nancy on November 16, 2018


“There are two terrible things for a man:
not to have fulfilled his dream, and to have fulfilled it.”

— Bernard Moitessier —


I woke up a few days ago to the news that someone I knew (only slightly) from a shorthanded sailing club we were both members of had disappeared somewhere near the Marquesas during his first solo ocean crossing at age 71. It had been a lifelong dream of his to sail around the world. It seemed like he didn’t really care whether he did it alone or with crew (I believe his wife, at one point, was planning to join for at least part of the journey) … he just really, really needed to do it.

I get it. There was a time when I was obsessed with the same dream. But once I had spent enough nights on watch (and it didn’t take many), reality muscled its way in and smacked me in the head. Sleep deprivation is, of course, its own, special kind of hell. Not that there aren’t plenty of other kinds of hell involved in long passages. But that’s probably the one that can kill you the quickest. And after my last experience with it, I’m over it. At least for a while.

Call me a wuss. I really don’t give a fuck. I like sleep. I like feeling rested and capable of handling myself when shit goes sideways, as it so easily can on boats underway.

That was a turning point for me … the not giving a fuck.

Up until that point, I had been completely wrapped up in who I was when I was pursuing that dream, surrounding myself with people who shared my love of the sea and people who would push me to be a better sailor, a better version of that person I wanted to be. She was a pretty big departure from the person I’d been for the first 50 years of my life: the consummate worrier and relentless planner, way more Rain Man than Indiana Jones.

After half a century of that, though, you might start to wonder if you’ve been wasting your life. I did. Not consciously, of course. Nothing I did up until that point seems to have been conscious, really. But it didn’t matter. Unconscious motivations are like throwing a lit match in a gas tank. They tend to propel you. Or blow everything to high hell. But I digress. Where was I? Oh right, not giving a fuck.

I’ve been claustrophobic since I was in the womb. It’s like I always knew my body was way too small for my soul. And that’s how this sailor girl identity that I was cultivating started to feel. It wasn’t so much that it was the wrong identity. It was that it wasn’t even the half of it. Like trying to hold the ocean in a teacup. Barbie’s teacup. Which also happens to be full of holes.

I’ve been reading and listening to Paul Selig recently, channeling his Guides. (Not that I put a lot of stock in channels, but the truth is the truth, no matter who spits it.) One of the assertions they keep repeating is, “I know who I am in truth.”  After hearing that enough, I actually did start to realize that I’m no one thing. I’m all of it: bitchy, spiteful, compassionate, forgiving, a traitor, a martyr, cynical and wide-eyed, yin and yang, the whole ugly-beautiful enchilada. But it’s not just me. I’m pretty sure we’re all made of the same stuff. Which is to say everything. It’s really only the choices we make that differentiate us. And the good news is that every day there are new choices to make. New people to become. And old identities to drop.

I didn’t know him well enough to hypothesize, but this could be one explanation for what happened to my missing sailor friend. Maybe he just couldn’t drop that identity — the intrepid adventurer (it is a good one) — even if it might save his life. Supposedly, that’s how they capture monkeys in India: they get caught with their hands in a coconut trap because they won’t let go of the banana inside, even as they’re being reeled in by their captor.

Then again, maybe we only ever achieve great things — or anything — by refusing to let go. Maybe we need those unconscious motivations to light a fire under our lazy asses. Seeing yourself in a certain light does give you a sense of solidity. And direction. Whereas, when you become aware of your identity and look it in the eye, it starts to lose its form and its hold on you. As the smoke clears, you begin to see the vastness of what you are, as infinite as the horizon. Which can make you feel free. Or rudderless. Or both.

That’s the beauty of a sailboat, though: even when you lose your rudder, you can steer with your sails. And even when the identity you’ve been holding onto falls apart, you can still go on. But it will, at least for a time, feel a lot like being lost at sea.


Fair winds, Richard …



before you do anything, do nothing.

Posted in being human by Nancy on June 9, 2018

Anthony Bourdain died today. By his own hand. On paper, it doesn’t look that far-fetched, especially given his past. But he seemed to have gotten it all together and was clearly taking a giant bite out of the ass of life. So it came as a shock. It’s still shocking. Yet, in poring over articles on suicide today, I found a reason why it shouldn’t be: Suicide requires the simultaneous availability of will and means. So when the planned means is not available, the suicidal urge passes. NINETY PERCENT of the time, it never returns.

When the pain gets too much and the impulse to end it is overwhelming, the only thing that can — and does — save people is time. In a startling number of cases, people who attempted suicide report having only thought about it for FIVE MINUTES before attempting it. People who have survived bridge jumps and hollow-point bullets to the head report that as soon as they did it, they realized they didn’t want to die.

I look at Tony Bourdain’s death and think, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Because I know I am quite capable of flipping my lid. I’ve done it. Napalmed my life. A life I loved and shared with someone who probably means more to me than anyone on the planet. And I’m still trying to figure out why, exactly. But the point is, in the midst of the destruction, I never once thought about why. I was just compelled. Possessed. Even though it wasn’t what I really wanted. Which makes me feel lucky to be alive. Because that’s the kind of possession that drives people to take their own lives. Even when that’s not what they really want.

I can’t begin to guess what Bourdain really wanted. Or Hunter Thompson. Or Kate Spade (who killed herself just days ago, also by hanging). Or Spurgeon or anyone else who’s managed to finish the job. But I do know that suicide is permanent. And everything else in life — EVERYTHING — will pass. So when any destructive urge arises, stop and take a breath, then turn to face it, look it dead in the eye and stare it down until it slinks off with its tail between its legs. Put even more simply: when in doubt, wait it out.

Our minds can be very convincing. And loud. But the soul is what we need to hear. The trick is knowing the difference. (Hint: The soul is the one that transcends time. And bullshit.)

Anthony Bourdain is a complete stranger to me, but I always felt like I knew him, having read Kitchen Confidential and watched nearly every episode of every show he’s ever done at least once. I’m one of probably millions that he inspired to explore our world and suck the marrow out of life. And it has changed my life. He cut out way too soon, but he sure had one hell of a ride.

Here’s the article that changed the way I think about suicide:

ADDENDUM: It’s been 2 days and Bourdain’s suicide is still at the front of my mind. I guess I didn’t realize what an imprint he made on my perspective, my aesthetic, my life.  He was all over it, though, putting his indelible stamp on the way I write (professionally and non-), the places I’ve come to love and the risks I’ve been willing to take. I can’t say it any better than these two have:

Anthony Bourdain, Suicide, and Grace


Posted in being human by Nancy on May 27, 2018

“… the constant, gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.”
– David Foster Wallace (from This Is Water)

Pretty much sums up the human condition, doesn’t it? At least, if you believe that we are spirits in the material world. Our special snowflake “selves” like spikes on the sea urchin that is the Is. Appendages that, no matter how they attempt to separate themselves, are at their root, connected, interdependent, the same. The perception of self v. other is a necessary evil, though … without it, we’d just sit around in a puddle of our own drool and starve to death. Or drown. Which may not be a bad thing in and of itself. But it seems like the whole point of the impulse to separate is to grow in some way. Like the tree that grows branches that grow leaves that turn sunlight into sugar. And despite that sweet alchemy, it is here that the constant gnawing is most pronounced. (They don’t call them growing pains for nothing.) It stands to reason. When you go out on a limb, you’re about as far away from your roots, from the Source, as you can be. Without flying, anyway.

the crossroads

Posted in being human, music, pearls, the road by Nancy on May 1, 2018

It’s always been a metaphor for some irrevocable life choice. Robert Johnson was said to have found the devil there, ready to play let’s make a deal. But it was Led Zeppelin who — after picking Johnson’s purportedly ill-gotten musical bones clean —  offered an escape hatch with Robert Plant’s assertion that, “There’s still time to change the road you’re on.” Which, I guess, means that you can either backtrack and choose door #2, or (to reference yet another Robert… wth?) you take the road that’s so much less traveled it’s not even a road yet. That last option certainly seems the riskiest. Who knows what’s out there? Scorpions. Sasquatch. Revelation. Annihilation. But one thing’s for sure…

“Traveling old roads in new shoes won’t change your destination.”
— @underchilde


island time

Posted in being human, food, peace, photos, simple pleasures, travel, winning by Nancy on January 5, 2014

We hadn’t been out of the country since India, 2010, but D figured he could safely take off the week of Christmas to New Year’s so he told me, “we can go anywhere.” Which I correctly interpreted as, “we can go anywhere that doesn’t require a torturous 22-hour plane trip or armageddon-strength antibiotics.” Add to that my requirements of turquoise seas, secluded beaches and potent rum drinks and the field narrowed considerably.

Paradise Beach, Carriacou, West Indies

Paradise Beach, Carriacou, West Indies.

I had seen the “Caribbean Island Hopping” episode of No Reservations (pirated, of course) several months earlier, after which I became mildly obsessed with finding a relatively painless way to get to the Grenadines, a small chain of islands in the West Indies blissfully unmolested (mostly) by tourism. But after copious amounts of research, I realized that getting there from the north would be torturous indeed, requiring flights from LAX to Miami to Barbados to St. Vincent (already nearing the 22-hour mark), with a likely unplanned overnighter in Barbados, not to mention the plane and/or ferry trips from St. Vincent to Bequia then Mayreau and any of the other islands we might want to hit up…. Uh-uh. Not happening. Not with only a 7- or 8-day window for the entire trip. We were going to have to look at this from another angle.

I ran across a post on a sailing blog about the Grenadines that had every good thing to say about Carriacou, the southernmost island in the chain, and one of two (Petite Martinique being the other) governed by Grenada rather than St. Vincent, the northernmost, which governs all the rest. A 15-minute puddle jumper would get us to Carriacou from Grenada (which has direct flights from Miami), then we could take day trips by boat to some of the other islands. Now this was more like it. And once I learned that there was an organic cacao farm cooperative and chocolate company on Grenada, well… to paraphrase Jules, “Shiiittt, Willie Wonka, that’s all you had to say.”

So at 3am on Christmas Eve, like a couple of coked-up elves, we headed off on our journey: LAX to Miami to Grenada. Word to the peckish: if you’re stopping at the Miami airport with any time at all between flights, do yourself a favor and head to Cafe Versailles for a guava-cheese pastry and cortado. Ay. Díos. Mío. But I digress…

Our flights ran smoothly, and on our arrival in Grenada, we were greeted by a steel drum band and bottomless rum punches to keep us entertained and anesthetized while we made our way through the Immigration and Customs lines. (Take note, ‘merica.) We then cabbed it to our B&B, Jenny’s Place, at the north end of Grand Anse Beach, where managers Meg and Erik had kindly kept the restaurant (The Edge) open late for us. While Erik whipped up some pasta with a killer, totally improvised, peanut-ginger callaloo pesto, we took a couple steps off the deck to dip our toes in the warm Caribbean sea… our limin’ baptism.

Sunset swim, Christmas Day, Grand Anse Beach, Grenada

Sunset swim, Christmas Day – Grand Anse Beach, Grenada.

Christmas Day turned out to be kind of a bust because everything was closed (islanders take their holidays seriously) and it rained off and on. And though Thursday was mostly sunny, most businesses were still closed for Boxing Day, this being a former British colony and all. We did, however, find the Grand Anse craft market open when one of its resident artisans lured us there from the beach. He actually had some cool pieces on offer, mostly jewelry carved from driftwood. His neighbor at the next stall, Ras Ian, wasn’t as much of a salesman, but he’s heavily into Jimi Hendrix and Willie Nelson, so he and D had a lot to talk about… he plays guitar, too. He also makes jewelry, but his medium of choice is (found) tortoise shell. Really nice stuff. Really nice—really high—guy.

With the beach bars finally open but their kitchens still closed, we headed back to The Edge for a bite to eat before our flight to Carriacou that afternoon. We would be staying at another (smaller) B&B for most of our time there, but due to a conflict with their reservations, we offered to stay our first night at a hotel closer to town, the Grand View. Bob, our B&B host, picked us up from the airport, drove us to the Grand View and made sure they could set us up with dinner as well as a picnic lunch for our boat trip the next day. We seemed to be the only guests there, but they really put a lot of care into the food. The concierge / bartender / waitress was really keen to hear D’s reasons for being a vegetarian and we got into a long discussion about factory farming, GMOs, etc.. Being a sensible person, she was naturally appalled that anyone would raise animals and crops that way and assured us that they don’t do it like that in Carriacou. Cheers to that. Here’s hoping they never will.

The next day would be the highlight of the trip: our boat excursion to the Tobago Cays. I had read about Dave Goldhill, who has a house and several rental cottages (which he built himself) at Bayaleau Point on the windward side of the island, near the village of the same name. He’s a New Yorker who’s been living in Carriacou since the 70s, running day trips on a sloop (the New Moon) and picnic launch (the Mostly Harmless) that he built, and like all the locals here—expats and natives alike—he’s quite a character.

We set off with a group of Danes—who were all staying at the Bayaleau cottages—and our skippers for the day, Junior and the one whose name I never got. Pretty chill dudes, but with a fierce need for speed. Still, they were adept at reading the waves and slowing down at critical moments to avoid giving us all whiplash. The ride alone was worth the price of admission ($115 US/pp). The 2 grandparents on the trip may not have enjoyed the journey quite as much, but they definitely got down with the destination once we stopped for rum punch and snorkeling (together again).

D and I had never snorkeled before but we figured this would be a good time to start. We figured wrong. Later, one of the Danes told us that it’s best to learn in completely calm waters… as opposed to, say, the middle of the Caribbean during the Christmas winds. I threw in the flippers after a few minutes of trying but D persevered long enough to get a few cool shots of the reef.


Coral reef, Tobago Cays.


Coral reef, Tobago Cays.


Daniel taking a breather, Tobago Cays.

Once the others had gotten their fill, we moved on to another spot where we hoped we’d get to swim with the sea turtles. No sooner had the anchor dropped than we spotted their leathery little dinosaur heads bobbing along the waves. That was all the incentive I needed to get back on the horse, as it were. I grabbed the camera, strapped on the mask and fins and jumped in. But it was like aquatic whack-a-mole with these things… they were popping up everywhere but vanishing faster than I could even point, much less shoot. Still, just seeing them right there in front of our faces made for such a “holy shit” experience… when you’re busy taking pictures, you tend to miss those.

After turtle stalking, we tied up to one of the cays and went ashore for lunch. Behold:


Tobago Cays – 27 Dec. 2013

Resident iguana, Tobago Cays.

Iggy the Maitre d’, Tobago Cays.

Then it was on to Saltwhistle Bay, Mayreau, population 300. The waters were much calmer there—which is why it’s such a popular anchorage—so the guys suggested I give snorkeling another try and pointed out an area of coral I might want to explore. Muuuch better this time. The coral wasn’t terribly vibrant, but there were some sea urchins living in it, and several varieties of tropical fish… one little zebra-striped guy followed me around like a stray puppy.

Limin'. Saltwhistle Bay, Mayreau.

Limin’ – Saltwhistle Bay, Mayreau. (That’s the Mostly Harmless to the right.)

More snorkeling, more of Dave’s Magic Elixir (i.e., best rum punch ever), more lolling on the sand under the mangroves, then back to Carriacou.

Nearing Carriacou, we encountered this beast… equipped with a heliport, natch.

Once ashore, I settled up with Dave’s daughter and ex-wife (who very kindly bestowed upon me that killer rum punch recipe), then Dave came down to hang out with us while we waited for our taxi. He asked what made us choose the Grenadines for our holiday and I told him it was that No Reservations episode that got the ball rolling, but the Grenada Chocolate Company sealed the deal. Small world that it is, turns out the late David “Mott Green” Friedman (Grenada Chocolate Company founder / mastermind) was a friend of Dave’s. If I remember correctly, he said they met through Paul Johnson—who designed Dave’s boat, the Mostly Harmless—when Mott was just starting to get into sailing. D and I both enjoyed hearing Dave’s stories about Mott as well as his own life as an expat on Carriacou, living off the grid and outside the system. Inspiring stuff. Hell, why run away with the circus when you can be a pirate, right? (Plus, no clowns.)

Our taxi finally rolled up, so we said our goodbyes and made our way back to the house in L’Esterre where we would spend the next 3 nights. It was a bit remote, but a beautiful spot overlooking Sandy Island and its cruiser/yachtie contingent. “Seaclusion Suites” have their own (essentially) private beach and are just around the point from a black sand beach which we never did hit up. But the dinners prepared by Bob’s wife, Marie, are reason enough to stay there. Before coming to Carriacou, she had worked for years in the hospitality industry in Florida as a restaurant GM, but she’s been cooking since she was a wee lass in Czechoslovakia. And I am still craving her fish cakes.

Seaclusion is also within a 20- to 30-minute walk from both Tyrell Bay and Paradise Beach, the latter being our hands-down favorite beach of the entire trip. Partly for the calm waters and the view of/proximity to Sandy Island, but mainly because of the Hard Wood Bar: truly, THE quintessential beach bar. Limin’ at its finest.

Hard Wood Bar, Paradise Beach, Carriacou

Hard Wood Bar – Paradise Beach, Carriacou.

Sandy Island from the Hard Wood, Paradise Beach, Carriacou

Sandy Island from the Hard Wood – Paradise Beach, Carriacou.

The fish (barracuda) plate for me, the veg plate for D, washed down with the local Carib lager… we could’ve stayed there all day. Every day. But Sandy Island was just sitting there, waiting for us to cavort along its banks and bury our toes in its sand. So we hopped aboard the Hard Wood’s dinghy for the 1-minute ride over. There’s no real shade to speak of (or a bar), so you wouldn’t want to stay all day, but we slathered on the zinc oxide and floated in the crystal clear water until the boat came to pick us up as we requested, precisely 1 hour later.

Sandy Island, across from Paradise Beach, Carriacou

Sandy Island, across from Paradise Beach, Carriacou.

I had heard about a place in town (i.e., Hillsborough) called Patty’s Deli that was supposed to have an excellent selection of wines, assorted gourmet noshes and, apropos of my personal addiction, freshly baked croissants. So after we took a little rest from all the resting we did on Paradise Beach, we headed into town to investigate. It’s a fer piece from the B&B, so we opted for the bus. Buses here are essentially group taxis that seem to be the main means of transport for most island residents. At $3.50 EC / $2 US per person (at least, for us), the fare was a little higher than the buses on Grenada, but the driver kindly went a couple blocks off-route to get us to Patty’s. Unfortunately, it was already closed, so we stopped in Bill Paterson’s for a beer instead. Paterson’s is a general store in the front, party in the back. Or so I hear. That particular holiday weekend late afternoon, it was just a party of two. Nice view, though, and really nice folks, as is the norm on Carriacou.

Next, we wandered into the Kayak Kafe for an excellent papaya-banana smoothie before heading back “home” for dinner. As we approached the bus terminal, I asked one of the drivers if he was going to L’Esterre. The guy riding shotgun threw his head back and said, in that West Indian lilt that makes everything sound agreeable, “Awwww… ‘im now go!” Which I took to mean, “Dang, the L’Esterre bus just left!” But all was not lost. He busted out his cellie and called the L’Esterre driver who came back around to pick us up! The bus was JAMMED, too. And in further contrast to LA buses, nobody had B.O. or Tourette’s or attempted to hack up a lung without covering their mouths. We got a nice little tour of the island, too, including Tyrell Bay, which we walked to the next morning.

Tyrell Bay, Carriacou, West Indies

Tyrell Bay, Carriacou, West Indies.

After another lovely dinner our last night on Carriacou (Sunday), I started going through my paperwork for our flight back to Grenada. Words cannot convey the sheer panic I felt upon discovering that the receipt that SVG Airlines had given me when we flew over had our return flight listed as 10:30am Sunday, not 8:15am Monday. I had made and changed the reservation over the phone, but they don’t do email confirmations or printed tickets or anything so high-tech as all that. So I just had to trust the agent, who had read back to me all the correct info and assured me we were all set. Their office was closed for the day, so we had no way to contact them to confirm. But Marie said it was probably just an old printout (which turned out to be the case) and I shouldn’t worry. Bob was taking us to the airport in the morning, anyway, so at least if they didn’t have us on that morning’s flight, we’d have a ride back to town. Or the nearest rum shop, whichever came first.

The next morning, we bid Marie goodbye and headed to the airport, heart palpitating and fingers, toes and eyes crossed. I watched with great dread as two other Suzuki Sidekicks pulled up, counting their passengers and worrying that they might all have seats on this 7-passenger flight. Turns out only 5 of us were Grenada-bound and SVG had us correctly booked after all. I guess, in a place that moves as slowly as Carriacou, you have a higher probability of things getting done right… if not exactly in a timely fashion.

Goodbye Sandy Island and Carriacou

Goodbye Sandy Island and Carriacou…

Soon enough, we were off to our final day in Grenada… and our organic cacao farm tour!

Meg (from Jenny’s Place) had arranged for a driver to pick us up at the airport on the southwestern end of the island and take us up the Atlantic coast to Belmont Estate, one of the largest suppliers of cacao to the Grenada Chocolate Company. Our tour guide, Kelly, a huge Lakers fan, gave us an intro, showed us the cacao bean fermentery and then took us out to actually harvest a cacao pod right from the tree and taste the fruit that surrounds the beans. Amazing! And delicious. Very mango-y, with a citrus tang. Then he took us to see the huge drying racks (as well as the greenhouse where they do a lot of the drying now), the mechanized dryers and other antique-looking machinery inside. And finally… SAMPLES! First, he brought out some cocoa tea, which is a delightful concoction of cocoa nibs, nutmeg, cinnamon and bay leaf (they don’t call Grenada the Spice Isle for nothin’)… sort of like a cross between Indian chai and Mexican hot chocolate. Then… samples of the chocolate itself, in 60% and 71% varieties.

The beautiful cacao pod... freshly harvested in front of our very eyes!

The beautiful cacao pod… freshly harvested before our very eyes.

Cacao beans in the raw... the fruit surrounding them is sweet, with a mango-citrus flavor.

Cacao beans in the raw… the fruit surrounding them is sweet, with a mango-citrus flavor.

After all that, of course, I had to take some home. So I bought 10 bars from the shop, in 60%, 71%, 82%, and even 100% varieties. No sugar in that 100%-er, obviously, but it’s not as bitter as the baking chocolate we all tried as kids (to our great chagrin and our moms’ great amusement). Maybe it’s the cocoa butter that smooths out the edges… who knows? What I do know is this is far and away the best chocolate I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a lot of great chocolate. A lot.

We reluctantly taxied back to our hotel by the airport—Groom’s Beach Villas—and settled in for our last night in the Caribbean. The hotel was one of the cheaper ones on this trip, yet somehow the most luxurious. I still dream about that shower pressure. And just 100 ft. down the hill was the eponymous Groom’s Beach and the highly regarded Beach House Restaurant. We couldn’t not get in one more swim in that warm, clear, Caribbean sea before the sun set—on the trip as well as the day—so we hit the beach immediately. The late afternoon light bounced off a couple hobie cats as I watched them zoom back and forth across the turquoise surf for what seemed like forever, unable to tear myself away.

Groom's Beach, St. George's, Grenada

Groom’s Beach – St. George’s, Grenada.

As the light faded, we headed back up the hill to get ready for dinner at the gorgeous Beach House. I started with one serious mojito and D, a beer. We ordered the curried conch (with another mojito) for me and the gnocchi for D, then capped it all off with a guava cheesecake and chocolate mousse gateaux, respectively. It was a suitably decadent ending to what has become a luxury in itself these days: a REAL (i.e., non-working, no computers, no watches) vacation.

Of course, planning such a vacation is no vacation… it took endless hours—weeks, even—of research and decision-making to get it right. But man, was it ever right. Huge thanks to all who helped make it so: Meg and Erik, the ladies of the Grand View Carriacou, Bob and Marie, Dave Goldhill and crew, and all the fine local folks we met along the way. And here’s to the one we didn’t get to meet but have been enormously inspired by nonetheless:

For my mom:

Posted in being human, music, Uncategorized by Nancy on May 12, 2013

mom-piano_performanceThank you…
for the music,
and the words,
for the ballet, tap, jazz, gymnastics,
violin and piano lessons,
and the life lessons,
for the constant encouragement,
and complete lack of pretense,
for the “interesting” relatives,
and the colorful expressions,
for homemade Halloween costumes,
the Christmas cookies and chocolate peanut butter Easter eggs,
for your coveted apple crisp recipe,
and for letting me learn that there is, in fact, such a thing as too much cake,
for summers at the pool,
and a year at the beach,
for taking us to watch rockets launch,
and for leaving Virginia for L.A.,
for letting us be kids,
and letting us grow up,
for being sentimental,
for being humble,
for being a warrior,
for this life,
but most of all for the music.

We’ll miss you.

feel lucky?

Posted in being human, cars, the road, vegas, winning by Nancy on April 11, 2011

Why yes… yes, I do. Good thing, too. Because research has shown that people who do consider themselves lucky tend to attract more of said luck (the good kind) than those who don’t.

Exhibit A: Our April Fool’s Day weekend Vegas trip.

I had taken my car for an oil change and general road-worthiness inspection a few days before, so I should’ve been 100% confident in its ability to make the journey intact. But I wasn’t. Something wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but when you’ve been with one car for 14 years, you just know. Instinct kept mumbling something like, “As your attorney, I advise you to rent a very fast car with no top…” But did I listen? No.

So there we were, in the middle of some godforsaken desert backwater, when the slight steering wheel shimmy we’d been experiencing all trip turned into an epic, end-time battle between good and evil, left and right, car and driver. And the car was not giving up. We pulled off to inspect the lumbering beast and saw nothing awry. Tires looked fine. No leaks in my non-existent power steering. Surely it was an alignment issue. Get back on the road, we thought. Maintain. Just to the next exit, where we’d no doubt find some ersatz grease monkey waiting for a couple of LA rubes to rob blind.

Back on the I-15, things got worse. We’d long since given up driving anywhere near the 70 mph speed limit. The procedure was: Slow down. See marginal improvement. Get the shakes more violently than before. Repeat. We were now down to about 45-50 mph. As vehicles large and small, old and young whizzed past us in their rush to get somewhere and nowhere in particular, we plodded ahead like an old south Florida couple en route from the early bird special at Morrison’s. We wanted off that goddamn highway as much as everyone else wanted us off it. But where? When?

The answer came directly, in the form of Exit 221, Afton Road. Our luck was about to take a turn.

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Stay tuned for Part Deux… comin’ at ya just as soon as I get a few work monkeys off my back.


Posted in being human, peace, pearls by Nancy on September 14, 2010

Written and “directed” by Daniel Overberger.

a promising start

Posted in food, LA, pearls, simple pleasures by Nancy on August 7, 2010

More wisdom from the sidewalks of Silver Lake, courtesy of Five Dollar Guy this time.

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The sign of a worthy croissant.

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