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.

Summertime and the Livin’s Easy

When I was a kid, I had a hard time understanding why I got to have summers off from school but my dad had to keep on going to work every day. I couldn’t get it in my head that grown-ups didn’t get the summer off. It didn’t seem fair.

To this day, it upsets me that I can’t have the whole summer off. There’s so much I want to do! It doesn’t help that I work for a German company, and our German counterparts take off entire months at a time. I don’t know how much vacation time they actually get, but it seems to be way more generous than our US system. Unfair. Maybe I should move to Germany.

Anyway, that’s not what I came here to write about! I wanted to bang out a quick update, as I am soon to be off for one of my two weeks of vacation this summer. We are going to be camping in Maine and I intend to fully unplug. I’m bringing primitive writing tools – pens and paper – in the hopes that I will be inspired to write something deep and inspiring. Or perhaps churn out some interesting zentangle-inspired art. I haven’t drawn a thing in months!

Last weekend we celebrated the 4th of July at my youngest brother’s home in the Boston area. The weather was unbelievably perfect. We spent most of the time lounging by the pool, and of course eating tons of food. On Monday, we got to check out the school where my brother works (he had the right idea being a teacher – he gets summers off!). Then we went up to Newburyport, which was a cute little town on the coast. It was only a two-day visit, but it was like a mini-vacation for us.

Dave and I in Newburyport, MA

Enjoying a jaunt around Newburyport.

Speaking of vacations, Dave and I are finally going to go on a big trip together! We’ve started planning a trip to Costa Rica. We’re reading guidebooks and maps and we’ve been scouring the internet. We don’t have a date set yet, but Dave wants to go before the end of the year. I realize that’s like 5 months away, but the way things go at my job, you just have to blink and the time goes by like nothing.


The trip will be worth it if we see a baby sloth doing pull-ups.

In other news, my minimalism journey kind of hit a wall in the last few months, because I’ve been spending less time inside the house. The piles of crap in the back room are still there. I did take one evening to go through more of my clothes and get rid of some of the things I never wear. I even attempted to fold my shirts in the Konmari way.

Konmari shirt drawer

Folding the shirts this way is supposed to let you see them all in one glance, so you can easily find what you need. It beats my former technique of shoving them in and struggling to shut the drawer.

The Konmari method comes from this book called The life-changing magic of tidying up. You’ve probably heard of it, because everyone makes fun of it. It’s the one where you’re supposed to hold each one of your possessions and ask yourself if it brings you joy. I didn’t even finish reading the book, but since I had already been going through my stuff and clearing things out, I went ahead with the clothes. My parameters were pretty simple: do I actually like this shirt and actively wear it? Then I kept it. If not, out it went.

Morningtime flower

In other news, my garden is looking fabulous these days.

In conclusion, I am very much enjoying the summer so far and I hope you are too. I’m especially looking forward to being unplugged next week, and returning with renewed energy to work on this blog!

Thank you for reading this far. 🙂




Late Spring Inspired Memories

Hi there!

I’m sitting outside on this lovely evening and I’ve been itching to blog for days now. There is a lot on my mind and I want to write about these things, but they are too hard right now. So instead, I will write about something that makes me happy.


Awkward garden selfie. Disregard the towering bags of mulch behind me!


This time of year always awakens excitement in me. Perhaps this is a remnant of my schoolgirl days, when the arrival of warm weather, insects chirping outside the open windows, and being able to wear shorts again were signals that school was almost over for the year.

It’s no secret that I was not a big fan of school. Just like it’s no secret that I am not a big fan of work. Hah! Of course I always enjoyed learning and doing interesting things, but school, like work, wasn’t always fun and games.

From Memorial Day onward, school got fun. It was like we could all see the light at the end of the tunnel. Countdowns of remaining school days were chalked out on the board. Teachers would conduct classes with the lights off, to keep the room cooler (did it though?) Rules could be bent a little. The excitement was palpable.

Summer was hands down my favorite time of year as a kid. Waking up in the full light of day to the scent of freshly cut grass and moseying on down to the kitchen for a bowl of cereal was soon followed by asking Mom if I could go in the pool. Usually pool activities were reserved for after lunch, when it was hotter and after Mom had been able to get some things done around the house, but it never hurt to ask. I loved that pool so much. While on land I often felt clunky and awkward, once I was in the water I felt as graceful as a dolphin. Mind you, I may have looked awkward to anyone watching, but I was having fun.


Freedom, oh free-dom!

Sometimes we would take trips down to the shore. My great-grandparents had a trailer down in Somers Point, and we would stay there for a couple of days at a time through the summer. Days would be spent alternately choking down seawater as I attempted to play in the waves and getting burnt to a crisp on the beach, while evenings were spent chowing down steak sandwiches or pizza and then going on rides along the boardwalk in Ocean City. As a kid, I thought Ocean City was the most magical place ever.

As you can see, a couple of day of warm weather and I’m easily transported back to the enthusiasm I had for summer as a young kid. I only wish I could have the amount of time off that I did back then! Maybe it’s time to reconsider my career path…

Speaking of which, tomorrow I’m off to Chicago, but I will be leaving exactly 24 hours later. Talk about a whirlwind trip!


Monday Afternoon Car Thoughts

Here I am at the park again. I didn’t get to return last week even though I wrote about how much I like taking breaks. I had a lunch meeting one day, worked through the next day and then went out to lunch another day.

Taking Five

Last time I wrote I mentioned the books I was reading. Well, I finished the second one, The Untethered Soul. I liked it even better than Broken Open.  Granted, they are not the same style book, but I think I liked the cut-to-the-chase style of the second one better.

The book starts out talking about the voice in your head and how to step back and disconnect yourself from it. In a way I think I have already done that, thanks in large part to a great therapist I used to see. But I can remember back to the days where the voice inside my head was not very nice and really not very healthy. I’m not saying I have no inner voice now, but it’s not a jerk. In the rare moments that it is a jerk, I tell it to shut up.

Later in the book, the author talks about how everyone has pain inside them and that you can either hold on to it and try to protect yourself from anything that touches that nerve, or you can deal with the pain and let it go.

He used a great analogy of having a thorn in your arm that pressed against a nerve. Every time the thorn was touched or bumped it would cause pain, but if you were really careful and didn’t let anything touch it, you could live with it. In order to keep yourself from accidentally bumping it, you would build a device that would keep you from rolling onto it while you slept, and keep people from bumping into you when you went out. The down side of this device is that no one would be able to get close to you, even people you love.

The point is, you do the same thing when you have an old hurt that you can’t let go. If you build up these walls or these rules about what’s allowed or not allowed, then you’re essentially building a prison around yourself. And what kind of life is that to live?

The obvious solution is to remove the thorn and to deal with the pain in the moment and then let go of it.

Again, I can thank my former therapist for getting me started on that path years ago, though I didn’t realize at the time what it meant. I used to hold on to so much pain. I would cry at the sight of an Operation Smile ad, because it struck such a nerve with me. If someone made a joke about blondes or about a person with a lisp, I would raise my hackles. And don’t even get me started on how I felt and reacted to anything related to my former religion.

I’m not saying that I am now floating on a cloud of enlightenment or anything, but I am definitely more calm and content than I used to be. Much of that is because I have learned to let things go. Let it go! Live your life and let go of the people and the circumstances that have done you wrong. Life is too short to hold grudges and waste energy on negativity.

I didn’t mean for this post to turn into a motivational moment, but I think I may have just decided what my next Toastmaster speech will be about!

Time for me to head back to the office.  Namaste, friends!

The view from my car. It’s not Pike’s Peak, but it’ll do.