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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Mooney

Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 26

April isn't really spring here. It's more like pre-spring. Things are slightly green, but still predominantly brown. And while the rest of the weather map reads 60s and 70s, we're solidly in the 40s and low 50s. I went to Boston earlier this month and I was shocked (and SO jealous) to see blooming trees. On the flip side, things stay green here long into the fall, so I'm not complaining.  And when you live in a seasonal town there are no slow transitions. BAM! It's the busy season. I thought I'd be better prepared for it after four years, but once again, I'm all "wait! wait! I'm not ready!" 

* * * * * * * * *  Everything in life is iterative and so is this blog. You'll notice below that I've revamped the structure to streamline my writing process. Vacation gives my brain a chance to catch up and I often return with one life-improving idea (one year it was hiring a cleaning service when The Super Mr. and I were both working long hours, another was to move out of the city and get a dog, and this year, it's this.)


  • Reading list. My Sister, the Serial Killer. Winner of this year's Rooster, it was a last minute download just before we left for vacation. Short chapters, a crazy storyline, and a totally unique point of view made it the perfect poolside indulgence. // At the Bottom of New Lake. Amazon published a short story collection on climate change called Warmer earlier this year. This one is set on Cape Cod and definitely hits a few sore points and sad truths about this part of the world. // How to Love a Jamaican. I started this collection the last time we were in Jamaica and picked up right where I left off. "Slack," and its storyline about two girls with their mermaid dolls and what happens to them is one I couldn't get out of my head. // "Muglife." Yes, this is from a newsletter, but it is SO MUCH MORE. Don't mess with my mugs! // The Women's Prize for Fiction Longlist. I'm adding all of these to my reading list. (Here's the Shortlist, in case you want to start there.)

  • Viewing list. Barry. We started watching this because of Henry Winkler, who is a national treasure. It is so dark, I mean SO dark. Noho Hank is our absolute favorite character. The show is so damn funny! // Homecoming. I've never been a Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter fan. Sorry. I ain't sorry. Angry Lemonade Beyoncé is a different story. Her, I like. Anyway, I rewound this quick snippet at least seven times: 1:52:13. And SOLANGE once again proves that younger sisters are cooler. // Guava Island. Such a beautiful film! OK, and tragic. AND RiRi's blue veiled ensemble at the end! // Fosse/Verdon. Just give Michelle Williams all the awards! // Free Solo. Even though you know he lives, the tension is almost unbearable. Also, a great example of how brain differences can make you really good at things others are not. // A Discovery of Witches. I never read the books, but now I think I need to. Very Twilight-y. // Unforgotten on PBS. The Brits make the best murder mysteries and I have a soft spot for those that feature former stars from MI-5/Spooks. // Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists. This is my favorite kind of show -- featuring a murder at a school. (See The Secret History. Veronica Mars. Well-Schooled in Murder.) // KILLING EVE  IS BACK! (And it's funnier!) And so is The Bold Type. (Still completely unrealistic, but tackling all the issues.) // Sadly, I was totally disappointed by Unicorn Store. // Someone GreatHash tag friendship goals! Also, The Perfect Date is a nice little snack. And let's take a moment for that Game of Thrones show. I've spent seven plus seasons watching every single episode without a clue about what is going on, but all of a sudden I'm here for more than the dragons and the blue-eyed zombies. And I still can't remember half of their names. That battle episode -- the silence and the spot-on use of music, the TENSION, the close-ups of our favorite people, Whatshisname, The Big Woman, That Other One, and Jaime, the sense that all was lost, and then the Good-Lord-I-NEVER-Saw-That-Coming ending! I've watched it every day since it aired. BRAVO!!

  • Listening list. Another brain trance Tame Impala release, "Borderline." // Mark Ronson's "Late Night Feelings."  I'm definitely into the "sad disco" sound. // Arty's "Avalanche." This is for sure going on my poolside mix for this summer! // 78-year old Coachella performer, Calypso Rose, and her song "Young Boy." 78!! // The New Yorker Radio Hour's two-part "The Long-Distance Con." OOF! How on earth did this guy go along with this for so long? Or even get involved in the first place? // LeVar Burton Reads podcast. I repeat: LeVar. Burton. Reads. // Going Through It podcast. Ann Friedman of awesome newsletter fame and other things interviews women who discuss pivotal moments in their lives. // Uncover, Season 3: "The Village." This village is in Toronto and gay men there were going missing. Because of a serial killer who buried their bodies in some lady's GARDEN!


  • My cholesterol levels have dropped and all the elements of it are going in the right direction-- bad stuff down, good stuff up! I am really proud of myself for this. As you know, I started working with a nutritionist several months ago and have been working on making better choices in my diet. My triglycerides dropped 70 points! I also just started a 12-week wellness program for breast cancer survivors. I'm the only previvor, but it's good to chat with people who have had the same surgery and the same resulting issues.

  • Eating and drinking list. Sunflower Seed Spread from Trader Joe's. Embracing nut butter has been one of my favorite health improvement choices. This one is my favorite right now -- deep roasty sunflower goodness! // Iridescent jelly beans from the Hot Chocolate Sparrow that The Super Mr. bought us for Easter. The cream soda flavor is my favorite.

  • Vanicream Lip Protectant. I always wear SPF on my lips because I have skinny Katie Couric lips that will inevitably have those vertical wrinkles that are so attractive. However, I somehow burned the inside bottom lip while we were on vacation. I have no idea how that happened. But this stuff not only helped heal them, it kept it from happening again. WARNING: it's really thick and can leave your lips entirely white, so make sure you have a mirror or someone you trust to confirm it's all rubbed in.

  • I recently switched to REN Evercalm GEL facial cleanser from the cleansing milk. I started using REN products when the medication I was on caused my skin to develop micro-tears (with bleeding and everything! SO alarming. And gross.) The gel smells like jasmine (which "boosts the effects of a chemical called GABA on nerve cells, and thus relieves anxiety and encourages rest") and works really well for sweaty season.

  • Trader Joe's Shea Butter and Coconut Oil Hair Mask. I always take a heavy conditioner with me on vacation because as soon as I unbind it, it slowly fills with the Caribbean air, puffing itself up to three times the size of my American hair. Secretly, I LOVE my big hair and would let it be free all the time if I didn't live in a 24/7 wind tunnel of a place.

  • "The Endless Benefits of Tongue Scraping and Why We Should All Do It." Sounds gross. And it is.

The Intangible:

  • My anxiety was kicking in again until we went to Jamaica and then I had an ALMOST instant reset. This time it took me about a day to settle my nerves. My first hours there I could not settle down and was worried the anxiety was following me. Flying used to trigger this, but now it's just getting through security -- packing everything in the right bag and then taking the right things out and then having my stuff out of my sight, my shoes off, lots of people around me. It is agony for me! Finally time to get TSA Pre-Check, methinks.

  • Advocates and the natural world. Remember I told you about 16 Personalities? My particular type (INFJ-A) are called "advocates." Recently, they sent me an update about advocates' relationship to the natural world. It was spot on! "Advocates are people who go pet the deer. The combination of the Intuitive and Feeling traits makes for a person who feels deeply connected to nature, as they look for unity in everything around them. It can even feel spiritual, in a sense. Advocates are likely to pick up strays from the side of the road or donate money to nature-preservation organizations."

  • Saturn went retrograde on Monday. But this is not the bad kind of retrograde! "Saturn Retrograde slows things down a bit so we can reevaluate our life, including our karma. It gives us time to understand the deeper meaning of why we might attract the same circumstance over and over again." And you have four months to work through that.

The Practical:

  • Cutting back on paper towels. First, it looks like my favorite disinfecting wipes might be making things worse. Second, it's shameful how many rolls of paper towels we go through! And then I discovered Swedish dishcloths. A single one replaces 15 rolls of paper towels, is machine washable, and lasts for 6 months! And they are biodegradable. 

  • We live in an aviary! Lately we've had lots of blue jays, cardinals, goldfinches, house finches (they are RED!), and the occasional woodpecker at our bird feeders. We also have a pair of bright blue birds that visit the brush behind the house. They are either indigo buntings or blue grosbeaks -- I'm working on a proper identification. And they all sing their little hearts out for us every morning! I added a thistle feeder just for the finches and we put up the hummingbird feeder this past weekend. I'm also ready for the orioles this time and have special birdberry jelly ready. Don't tell The Super Mr., but I intend to hit the bird store again and get an oriole feeder. I'm working on adding a bird bath, but need to find one that doesn't turn into a mosquito incubator. You can watch the migration of many birds (and other animals like whales) at Journey North.

  • Spring planting. I finally made a spring cleaning/summer turnover list that we can use every year. It's crazy how much clean up needs to happen in the yard after the winter. I usually don't plant my summer containers until mid to late May because of our weather. But I'm ready! I bought two helpful books: From Container to Kitchen, so I can try growing something other than tomatoes and peppers, and A New Garden Ethic, which is about the importance of growing native plants for the sake of the species around us and to combat climate change. And don't forget to repot your indoor plants Some reference articles for growing plants that help our world: "How To Grow a Bug-Friendly Garden Absolutely Anywhere." // "Wild Bee Population Collapses by New England." The good news is it isn't as dire along the coast. Consider adding a bee house to your yard for those worker bees!// "A New Study Says Gardening Has Significant Health Benefits." // The Audubon's Native Plant database. Just enter your zip code and you'll see a wonderful list of plants native to your area and which birds they attract.

  • Making progress on my to do list. My highly complicated system is actually working! I think the key is repetition. Each piece of my system requires me to put the same ideas and goals through a different processing lens. Tthe stuff that doesn't really work or I don't truly care about gets sifted out and I'm left with things I'm committed to. Also, I've added Silent Mornings to my routine.  As soon as The Super Mr. leaves for work, I turn everything off and spend time with just my thoughts as I work on the most important items on that day's list.

Cape Cod:

  • Season of change. I have been a little bummed out lately with some major changes happening in town. Our beloved Pet Resort -- where Stephen could play with his buddies and I could have a day to go up Cape and not worry about him -- just sold their building to a pot dispensary. The nearest doggie daycare is now in Eastham. We haven't been able to do our parking lot whale watching since they closed off the road to that side of Herring Cove to move the lot and road back from the water. I've seen photos of the new beach and it just looks ... sad. And a couple of our favorite restaurants are up for sale. One of our pools turned over this winter and we aren't sure whether it will still be open to locals.  On a positive note, Lea Delaria is opening a jazz club in town.

  • Green Road Refill. On every third Wednesday, their green bus will be parked at ARTichoke in Eastham for refilling all your lotions and creams and cleaning supplies. There are other locations around the Cape. Check the website.

  • Beach cleaning. I'm getting back into my beach clean-up project I started years ago. One time, as I was filling a bag with plastic, a guy walking towards me stopped, and said, "you know, the ocean will just wash all that away so you don't need to pick it up." Reader, I did not punch him. This time my goal is to spend one hour a week picking up whatever trash I find and then focusing on removing balloons any other time I'm on the beach.  Also, I've started using the Clean Swell app to track what I find and that information helps with research.

  • National Park Planner. This is one of my favorite resources for planning out hikes around the Cape Cod National Seashore. There are photos from each walking trail and a very detailed narrative about the conditions. Also, I would have missed certain things along these paths had I not read this information in advance.

Across the Bridge/The World:

  • This month's interesting bits from around the country. Houston. Growing a pocket prairie there can help with flooding. // Denver. "People outside this community know about us because of one moment in time." Twenty years later at Columbine. // Philly. I have my derby fascinator for this year but these from the super popular milliner for the Devon Horse Show look fetching. // Sarasota. Bookmarking this "Ultimate Guide to Great Gulf Seafood"  in case we ever visit that side of the state. // Seattle. "Where on Earth is Sam Sayers?" This is the worst kind of missing person story -- there one moment, gone the next. (And, on that note, here are some life-saving tips.)

  • Final thoughts on Jamaica. In case you missed it, I put together a post on our recent trip to Jamaica. The place is paradise for some, and ... not for others. Jamaica -- just yesterday -- declared a public emergency in the parishes of Hanover, Westmoreland, and St. James. That includes Negril and Montego Bay. There had already been extra security in MoBay and we passed through armed checked points the last two times we've visited. I hope they can get things back under control -- so many people depend on tourism in those areas.

  • "Elizabeth Warren has a PLAN." I've loved her as my senator, but hadn't put a ton of effort this early in the race into examining each candidate (because I'm bone-tired of all it.) HOWEVER, like Angry Beyoncé, she flipped it for me when she came out with the Impeach the Mofo statement. I clicked right through to her website and gave her $20.20. And then I stayed to read her ideas. She now emails regularly when she comes up with new, equally as brilliant plans. I'm SO DONE with the grossness -- the criminal activity, the hate-mongering, the powerful people stomping on everyone else. Liz is our Arya Stark and her plans are the Catspaw Dagger. (I TOLD YOU I now watch this episode every day. It is relevant!)

  • The Turn Challenge. We just completed ten days of prompts for imagining a future where we've averted climate catastrophe and for creating real action in your life to start towards that vision. As you've probably gathered, I've been working on this for some time -- making small changes here and there. This part was free, but she is starting a new fee-based program if you are interested and need some help creating your own personal plan. Week Three is entitled, "A revolution disguised as gardening."

List of the Month:

  • 10 Things That Scare Me. You may remember that I've been listening to the podcast where people share things they are afraid of. It's not as easy as you think and you really need to be honest about it for it to be of any value. Give it a shot! Here are mine:

  1. not being able to take care of myself and ending up homeless

  2. having a disease that robs me of my life before it actually takes my life

  3. sharks

  4. disappearing and my family never knowing what happened to me (I call this my Dateline fear.)

  5. something horrible happening to Stephen (not surprising, but worrying about this really does fill quite a few of my waking hours)

  6. public speaking (I am highly skilled at doing everything I can to avoid this.)

  7. a small, fast animal running over my foot and touching me 

  8. being alone in the woods

  9. the suburbs (Hingham was the closest we got to that hell.)

  10. driving in snow (I KNOW I live in New England.)

Extra Credit:

Thanks, as always, for reading! Have a great May and get ready for SUMMER!

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