California Dreaming

California recap – continued from my last post.

Saturday morning, I woke up and hit the trail. I had my eye on it all week, as it was right across the street from the hotel. Dave and I walk on the rail trail near us quite often, so I thought it would be cool to check out this Southern California edition. It was quite different from the woodsy Connecticut trail I am used to.


I guess they never have to worry about snow and ice, or even that much rain, deteriorating the carving or messing up the stone path. It waas cool to walk along and look at all the funky plants.

I walked about a mile but it was so bright and sunny, I was starting to feel over-sunned, so I went back to my room. The freckles on my legs were popping out like crazy. Annoying.

That afternoon, I went up to Encinitas, which was just a couple of miles north of Solana Beach. My aunt Dotty was going to be in town, so we made arrangements to meet up for lunch.

We ate at the Lotus Cafe, which had lots of yummy vegetarian options. We sat and talked for a long time, which was really nice. We had only met once before, and this was our first one-on-one. I’m so glad we were able to talk and get to know each other better. The time flew by, and I think we would have kept talking for hours if we could have!


Post-lunch selfie!

I had thought I would spend my afternoon at the San Diego Botanic Gardens, but Dotty pointed out that they had been having such a drought lately that the plants might not be looking their best. She mentioned that there was a meditation garden in Encinitas that was free, so I decided to check that out instead.


It had beautiful ocean views. I stood and watched the surfers for a while.


Nice shady trees in the garden


Lots of plants I don’t see back East!


A bee’s work is never done

I would have liked to have stayed at the gardens for longer, but they closed at 5, so I was kindly asked to leave. Oh well. It’s definitely a place I would visit again if/when I get to go back out there!

I drove back to Solana Beach (seriously, it was like less than 5 miles away), and I walked down to the beach to watch my final Pacific Ocean Sunset. *wipes tear*

I took approximately 500 photos, but I’ll just show you one of the cool ones:


Would I watch the sunset every night if I lived there?

The next day, it was time to pack my bags and move on. Next stop: Anaheim. I drove up early in the day, because I was told that traffic would be hideous if I waited until afternoon. I got to my hotel just before lunchtime. So I grabbed a bite to eat and then settled into my room. If it hadn’t been 104° F, I may have taken a walk around and looked at the sights, but I wanted nothing more than to be indoors.

A few months back, when I posted on Facebook that I was going to be out in California, quite a few people messaged me asking if I wanted to hang out. Of course, I would have liked to hang out with everyone, but I didn’t have that much free time!

Jakki and I have been FB friends for a long time now. I don’t remember exactly how we met – it may have been on a FB group for people with ectrodactyly. Jakki also has EEC. She was still in high school when we met, and I have watched her go through college, find a man, and settle down. (Wow, that sounds like I am the ultimate FB stalker, doesn’t it?)

Well, anyway – Jakki and her boyfriend live close enough to Anaheim that they came and picked me up and took me out for the night! It was the first time that Jakki met another person with EEC, so it was a bit emotional. It’s always neat to meet someone else with EEC and see just how similar we are. Like long-lost cousins or something.

We went to Laguna Beach, which turns out has a lot of cool art galleries. We kept popping into them, mostly so we could cool down (it was still like 100° there, believe it or not!).


Hanging with Jakki in the Dr. Seuss exhibit!


This one spoke to me.


We were posing in front of a dolphin, but he didn’t quite make the photo.

















After we explored a bunch of galleries, we had dinner at an Italian restaurant. It was yummy and gave us some more time to talk.


The Mona Lisa watched me tinkle in the restaurant bathroom!

After dinner, we got gelato and ate it down by the beach, but by then the sun had already gone down. I was happy to see some stars though, as I was thinking it would be nice to see the stars over the ocean, but I never stuck around long enough after a sunset to see them.

So that was fun, getting to meet Jakki and her boyfriend. I hope she can make it to one of the NFED conferences so she can meet the rest of the EEC gang!

The next day, I was working from my hotel room and checking in on the booth setup for the trade show. I was pretty excited to get upgraded to a suite at the Marriott. It was hands down, the nicest hotel room I have ever stayed in. It felt pretty weird being in it alone though. It would have been fun to have had Dave there with me. It was too much space for just one person! Not to mention, I really didn’t want to leave it to go down to the tradeshow. haha!

I won’t bore you with talk of the trade show. Blah blah blah. Does anyone actually enjoy these things?

Tuesday evening arrived, and it was time to head home. Despite enjoying my time out there, I was missing Dave and my furballs, and the thought of fall back home. So I headed to the John Wayne Airport to wait for my flight.

I had a few hours to kill, so I figured I’d try out Ruby’s Diner, which is supposed to be a SoCal staple.


It was barely 7pm when I went in, and they were already closing up shop. I was able to get a sandwich and fries, and of course, a chocolate shake. I figured I would stuff myself before I got on the plane so that I could sleep without getting hungry.

Another two hours later, and I was on the plane! I should have taken a picture of my ridiculous getup – extra-thick neck pillow, light-blocking eye cover, and earplugs. By the grace of all that is holy, the seat next to me was unoccupied, so I was able to relax even more and not worry about bumping elbows with some shmuck next to me.

I wouldn’t say it was a deep, restful sleep, but it passed the time. Before long, it was 4:50 am, and we were taxiing into Newark.

While I was wandering around Newark waiting for my flight to Hartford, I stumbled into the MET store. I saw they had a little Spirograph kit for $25. I held it. I looked at it. I put it back. I went out to the gate, sat down, and ordered one on Amazon instead.


Because I am 12 at heart.

I had this idea that I could use the spirographs to start a zentangle design. So that’s what I played with this weekend.


Attempt 1


Attempt 2

I think there’s some promise there! But the Spirograph is still hard to use. I had one as a kid and I was always getting frustrated because I would lose control of the pen and ruin the design. Maybe now I will have the patience to master it. Maybe.

Well, that wraps up my California experience. I hope I can go back again before too long! It’s one of those places I’ve always wanted to go, but it took a work trip to actually get me out there!

Now I am sick – I picked up a cold or something on the plane, I assume. I was going to go to bed early tonight, so I guess I should get on that before “early” turns into “late”.

Au revoir!


A Whirlwind Tour of MA, NH & ME

Last Sunday, I woke up with the sun. Dave helped me load up the little Mazda and I zoom-zoomed off to Nick’s house. After some strategic rearranging of my car so we could fit all his stuff in it, we were off again.

An hour later we were at the Claire Family’s house in New Hampshire! It only took me a year to finally get up there to meet Mr. Ronan. This is the family who found my blog while they were pregnant with Ronan. I’ve written about them a couple of times: here, and here and here.

It was great to spend a few hours together at their lovely home. Denny (Ronan’s big brother) was a hoot and so full of energy! He was so excited to show Nick and I all his toys and his room, and was determined not to be left out of the lunchtime conversation.

Ronan was a sweetheart. When we first got there, and I first held him, he was crying because Denny had woken him from his nap. But after he had some lunch he perked up and was happy and laughing, and chasing Denny around the house on his hands and knees. Lindsay and Dennis are really going to have their hands full once he starts walking!

Visiting the Claire Fam!

After we said goodbye to the Claires, Nick and I were off to Acadia. It was another 4 hour drive north. We grumbled about this for a bit, but the time went by pretty fast and gave us lots of time to catch up on each other’s lives. At Mom’s request, we stopped at When Pigs Fly, which is a bakery in Kittery. We managed not to eat all the bread before we got to the campground.

Some of the things we did in Acadia were:

Scoped out the view on Cadillac Mountain. It was a little chilly up there! Also, crowded, but we managed to get this picture which makes us look like we are mostly alone.

The gang on top of Cadillac Mountain!

Chilled at the campsite. Actually, we really didn’t do much of that – we were too busy going out and exploring.


Scoped out the Bass Harbor Head Light. We were looking for some Japanese gardens, but failed to find them. We found this light house instead.

Bass Harbor Head Light

We spent some time climbing on the rocks and looking at stuff in the tidal pools there.

The McKelvie kids take over the rocks

We drove into Bar Harbor to find out if we could go on a whale watch or a puffin tour. When we saw the prices we were less inclined, so we decided to just walk across the sandbar to Bar Island.

The sandbar… or is it a parking lot?

We, along with several dozen other people, walked up to the summit. It was a beautiful view!

Looking back at Bar Harbor from Bar Island

Later, we made our way to Thunder Hole. Despite being there at the appropriate time, we did not hear it thundering. Instead, we watched lots of people climbing the rocks and we wondered how there had not been more fatalities at this location.

Thunderless Hole

On our final day in Maine, we rented paddleboards and found a secluded lake on which to take them out. The lake was amazing. The water was surprisingly warm and very clear. As soon as we got out of the car, we could hear loons calling on the water. We saw a mama loon with two young loons. We saw adult loons diving and coming up really far from where they’d dived. We even saw a bald eagle! Kris and I went out on the paddleboards and were able to find the tree where the eagle was perched. He (or she?) was grooming, and as we watched, a huge, white tail feather fell out of the tree and helicoptered down. It landed on a bush right on the edge of the water, so I was able to paddle over and get it. That’s my kind of souvenir!

Returning from a paddle adventure.

Of course there were lots of other moments that I did not get pictures of – our evening of lying on the rocks looking up at the stars, counting satellites and talking and laughing about all sorts of things, eating lunch at an unfriendly restaurant in Bar Harbor, Kris and I riding bikes the wrong way on the park trail and almost getting our eyes gouged out by a seagull.

As always, I love getting to spend time with my siblings. It’s always funny to see each other and notice how similar we actually are, despite living miles and miles apart, and to recount old stories and create new memories. Sigh. A week is not nearly long enough.

Bonus picture:

The rest of the family eating lobster while Kris and I were back at the campsite eating vegan sausage and peppers and potato salad.

Shipping Up to Boston

This past weekend I made a quick trip to Boston to visit my youngest brother and some of my favorite NFED friends who were visiting from Canada.

Before I tell you about that, I must mention that this is the 100th post on EEC Chick! Party! Also, I have not forgotten about the Five Life Influences post series, and I will eventually get around to posting the rest.

All right, let’s go to Boston.

On Saturday morning I woke early and threw some things in my sweet NFED duffel bag and hopped in the Mazda and I was off! It was a beautiful sunny day and the leaves were absolutely glorious. I made it to Nick’s place in just over two hours, which has got to be record time.

Once there, we snacked (a love of snacking runs in the family) and chatted for a bit. I admired his Game of Thrones bobblehead collection. Just kidding, there was only one of them.

Tyrion Lannister

Tyrion Lannister

After we had eaten our fill of hummus, pita and veggies, we headed out to the Arnold Arboretum, which made me miss my days of landscape architecture and master gardening exploits.

Walk with me.

Walk with me.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love trees?


Clearly this bench is meant for stargazing or cloud watching.

The arboretum also has a visitor center, which we explored. This contained an art gallery which had some stuff in it that I could have made in 7th grade. This made me miss my days of art pursuits and also made me think I should enter some of my work in a gallery because clearly their standards aren’t that high.


This is the list of wildlife people saw at the arboretum. Does a chipmonk wear a little brown robe tied with a rope?

It was a beautiful day to be strolling around outside. A bit chilly, but that’s better than a bit hot, if you ask me.

A lovely day with my baby bro, who I accidentally called Babe at one point.

A lovely day with my baby bro, who I accidentally called Babe at one point.

After the arboretum we went to Starbucks to get some hot drinks and then we wandered around Faneuil Hall Marketplace and took a stroll down to the waterfront.

Sounds like our kind of show. Meow! Note Nick's reflection in the glass. Hah!

Sounds like our kind of show. Meow! Note Nick’s reflection in the glass. Hah!

We sat by the water for a while and enjoyed the colors of the sky, and the sight of seagulls dropping mussels onto the piers to get the meat out.

The sky was quite lovely!

If you come to Boston, Nick will greet you exactly like this.

No filter! Also, look at all the seagulls.

As we made our way back towards Faneuil Hall, we strode past Paul Revere’s house. He was not there.

Paul Revere probably never saw a Camry in his life.

Paul Revere probably never saw a Camry in his life.

That evening we met up with the MacDonald clan from the great white north.

Enjoying some Canadian company.

Enjoying some Canadian company.

Nick was delighted to meet the MacDonalds, even though our ancestors were from opposing Scottish clans.



We had a lovely dinner in which we discussed everything from Canadian politics to Nick’s teaching aspirations to life in Honduras.

The next day, I drove out to the JFK Library to experience some culture and history with the MacDonalds. It was another gorgeous New England fall day.


JFK Biblioteca


Inside the atrium of the museum. Gorgeous!


JFK’s sailboat, The Victura.

I just noticed you can see the flag inside if you look closely at the upper left of the above photo.

After we were thoroughly educated in the life and times of JFK, we said our goodbyes, and the MacDonalds headed off to do some shoe shopping for Norma, while I headed westward.

I don’t know if I should mention this, but I actually drove through some snow on the way home! It was so incongruous with the bright blue skies of earlier, but then again, I was driving through Worcester at the time, which is not known for it’s beauty. Sorry Worcester, but you know it’s true.

Well, that was my quick trip! It was so cool to see the MacDonalds in October. Norma commented that she is used to seeing me in summer clothes. haha. I hope they enjoyed their jaunt to Boston as much as I did.

Let’s do it again sometime!