Busy hands

How I disconnect

Dear You,

The puzzle I am currently working on is HARD. Usually I get into a flow with the pieces, especially at this stage of the game, and I get addicted. I don’t want to stop.

But this puzzle is really challenging. The roofs of the homes seem to all be the same color, and to make it really diabolical, there are EDGE pieces in the middle of the puzzle.

Unplug Me

There are just a few screen-free activities I really enjoy — and puzzles is one of them. But I’m been caught trying to figure out if I should just give up on this… or sit my butt back in the chair and finish it.

What is your vote?

I’ll probably finish it — but it might sit here for awhile. I have been known to let things sit for awhile, sometimes a long while, before I get around to them.

That was the case with the sewing machine I bought in CT. It collected dust for two years until I finally asked my inlaws Linda and Karen for lessons.

Once I was capable of threading the bobbin, I was able to sew some straight lines. I made a pile of cloth bags for “wrapping” our kids’ Christmas gifts. I loved the reusable gift bags Karen made. They were brilliant! And they real upside is we have cut our wrapping time to a third at least every year.

I have to have something to do in the house that is unplugged — otherwise I could spend all day (and many night hours too) staring at the screens we have all become addicted to.

The latest unplugged for me is:

  1. Mowing the lawn

  2. Playing with the puppy either in the yard or at the dog park

  3. Going to the new library and perusing the stacks

  4. Writing letters to friends.

  5. Index card art (ICAD2021).

That last one is tied to Instagram — it’s an online challenge — but the art itself handmade.

I’m not good at it at all, but I enjoy trying to collage or paint or draw something. And I learn alot from other artists. Now and then I also use the internet (for good, not evil) and follow a tutorial.

As an aside, if you are going to doom scroll, might as well scroll all the art of ICAD2021. Most of the other artists are actual artists and their work is hella cool.

Cheers dear,

-mE

P.S. If you feel like joining in ICAD, here’s more info. Ta!

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Stomping Puddles

The kids got it right

Dear You,

What’s the weather where you are? As for me, it’s one of those perfect summer days — sunny, low humidity, high of 82.

There’s all kinds of shades of blue to blue skies, especially in summertime when the heat can bring a late afternoon thunderboomer. Then the blue turns cornflower, the saturation deepening with a shade of gray.

But this morning, the blue is thinner and brighter, almost tropical.

Do you love summer? People seem to. I like it of course, particular this part of summer when the grass is emerald of its own accord and the irises are still hanging on.

But I also like my weather uneven with piles of rumble-bumble clouds and shifting winds, I admit. A calm day like this — I take it, of course. It’s lovely and sweet, like sucking on the a butterscotch disc from my Granny’s Brach’s bag.

But you know, we had 10 days of measurable rain in a row recently. 10 consistent days. That sort of weather wasn’t too lovely. It’s the sameness that gets me, I suppose. Like a kid, I get bored.

I mean, not everyone likes to be surprised by things — but heck I do. My kids too.

We especially liked the warm day in CT when it rained so much the gutters flooded and they exclaimed CAN WE GO OUT IN THE RAIN and they jammed their toes in their boots, pulled on useless rain slickers and went for it.

We’re all still kiddos, till the day we die. My mom always said that.

“I look in the mirror and think ‘who is that? I’m still 9 years old!’” she’d say.

Mom loved to play tennis. She loved a Coke slurpee. She was a great swimmer. She got lost in a book. She was a pain in the ass.

What do you do that is really just the 9 year old in you acting out?

Write back.

Love,

-mE

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When you don't have an answer

How to sit with a question

Dear You,

I’ve been fairly con-fuzzled by a question in the last few days.

I sent a message to a friend on FB and asked her thoughts.

I had a face-to-face with Colin to hash it out.

I sat with my own thoughts.

Do you ever do that?

Find yourself pondering something and the answer eludes you?

Here’s what Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke had to say about looking for answers:

I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.

"Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything.

“Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.


How are you with patience and not knowing?

As for me, it is work. I’m often in awe of people who take their time responding.

I tend to be quick with an answer and feel I’m right. (Which is natural, but can then be cluttered with Imposter Syndrome, regret, confusion.)

There’s consequences to quick wit.

And yet…

There’s no right person to be in the world. I am who I am.

Change is reality. “I am” is never fixed.

And there’s the space to be more of who I am. Infinite space.

And — with patience — I can love what I’ve been already.

What do you think?

Yours,

-mE

P.S. Thanks for reading. Feel free to share and to comment.

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How to Make Corn 'n Oil

A worthy signature cocktail

Dear You,

On Colin’s 54th birthday we went out for a drink to a quirky local called Libations & Company on 3rd Street in Lee’s Summit.

Here’s a photo of the place:

Librations and Company exterior in Downtown Lee's Summit, MO
Photo of the exterior of Libation and Company in Lee’s Summit. Yes, they used a filter but basically experiencing this place is like being IN a filter. Photo credit: Seth and Libations Instagram.

Note that Libations & Co. is actually a STORE for drink accoutrements … with a few happy hours at the end of the day aligning with regular bar hours where they serve fancy cocktails. They are usually closed up by 9 p.m.

When we stopped in, Colin and I got our usual Me-bourbon, Him-gin type drinks. However, we were completely taken in with the description of a drink called Corn ‘n Oil.

So much so that we spent most of our time at the cozy window table researching the name and its ingredients.

The “oil” is NOT oil — it’s the thick, molasses black-strap rum that floats to the top of this Bajan drink.

The “corn” is the yellow concoction of lime juice and falernum at the bottom.

Falernum is a sweet, spiced rum liqueur made in Barbados combining almond, ginger, clove/allspice and lime. It’s used often in “tiki” drinks in the Caribbean. Some have alcohol, some don’t.

This is why I drink

Frankly, cocktails — especially old fashioned ones like these — fascinate me. The stories behind their makings send me straight into my imagination. The story of Hampden Estate rum itself (which is Jamaican, not Bajan) dates back to the mid-1700s.

Colin and I couldn’t resist making Corn ‘n Oil the Signature Drink at his birthday get together that following Saturday — the unmasked gathering of adults in our circle in 15 months.

Why have a signature drink? Why the hell not! It’s fun! If you have friends who like to drink, having a signature drink is always a fun way to try something new and get your hands sticky.

We didn’t expect to get a run on the drink. But its flavor profile — spiced, sour, a little bitter, a little sweet — is SO unusual, that we ran out of the rum before our guests ran out of their taste for it.

Will definitely buy a second bottle for next time.

Here’s the recipe I used — feel free to try the layering technique to get the separation effect.

Corn ‘n Oil

2 oz blackstrap (molasses-based) rum (I used Hampden Estate)
1 oz falernum (I used Velvet Falernum)
3/4 oz fresh lime juice (Bottled lime juice works too)
A hearty spritz of Angostura bitters

Combine the lime juice and falernum with ice and shake well. Pour into rocks glass. Add more ice. Layer rum on top. Spritz with bitters and squeeze fresh lime wedges as desired.

Garnish with lime wheel. Enjoy!

Happy (northern hemisphere) summer!

—mE!

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Going for a walk

Hello feet

Dear You,

Most of the time I listen to music or a podcast when I go for a walk. I am often accompanied by my dog.

But for me the real highlight of the walk is two things:

The scenery

It doesn’t matter if I am walking through my subdivision for the umpteenth time. Walking around gives me the chance to just take in the world… primarily the natural world.

When we lived in London, walking was such a THING. Not a TikTok-influencer-fad thing. It was just, like, I’m British so I go walking.

In fact, did you know in the UK there are Public Rights of Way criss crossing the country? Laws are in place to protect the right of “ramblers” to walk all over the place, including on private land!

Which leads me to the second highlight of walking:

My Feet

I spend such an awful bit of time sitting. Living in London, one of the great gifts was — we didn’t have a car. We had to walk everywhere.

I felt so connected to the world when I was there. I felt the ground through my feet.

Here’s a poem I wrote called “Old Dogs Barking” in honor of my feet, and walking.

Read "Old Dogs Barking"

Have a great day I hope you get out for a walk.

Love and hugs,

-mE

P.S. You can share this too if you are into that sort of thing.

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