Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

Sunday, July 03, 2022

what could be

One more day at the reunion, and then we left for home a whole day early as Nu is (and hence we all are) in the midst of an unrelated crisis.

We managed to fit a lot into the 24 hours we were in YS, though. Peaches yesterday for reunion drinks, Glen Garden for flowers for Big A's mom with whom we were staying, Toy Company and Dark Star to keep Nu occupied, planned hangouts like the one pictured, and of course all the random running into old friends and neighbors. 

It's difficult not to feel a bit of nostalgia for the YS years and wonder...Will we ever move back there again? What might our lives have been like if we'd stayed?  

Saturday, July 02, 2022


In Yellow Springs, OH for Big A's high school reunion. I casually thought it was the 20th... but no it's the 30th!

Since we lived in YS (2008-2012), some are my friends too. But as the outsider, I was surprised by how much people remembered from 30 years ago. Everyone remembers Big A's infamous exploits (he'd have gotten juvie for his Ex-Lax cookies for sure these days!). But people were also saying to each other how kind people had been, how someone was the big sibling they didn't have at home, how they'd been made welcome although they were new in town. 

It was definitely a taste of the old YS--all the once high-schoolers in this picture from progressive, hippie, biracial, LGBTQ families or living near families who were--growing up in an environment like that must have been so formative for them. What it must have been like to take all of that for granted... 30 years ago. The person who went into the army right after high school said how he was asked if "gays should be in the military" and that he'd responded "gay people have always been in the military, maybe you didn't know it." These people must have pushed change in the world outside of their bubble.

Also: we've been having a bit of a tough time at home because of some teen behaviors/choices/consequences--this was a good reminder that high school isn't forever, and hopefully, we will just remember the mellow highlights in a few years.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

We're Back!

Relaxed, grateful, dusty, tired, frizzy, checked out, appreciative, super-tan, and worldly. Feeling all those things on this first night back from our week in Spain. 

It was exactly half the family (Nu, Big A, me) on the trip, while At stayed home with Scout and Huck. We (OBVIOUSLY!) invited At too, but he was kind of busy with organizing. We joked that At is afraid of being seen as the Bougie (not Boogey) Man. 

Feels so good to have Scout and Huckie curled on my feet, Big A on the other sofa, and the human kids in their beds upstairs...

Tomorrow I will work on Nu's educational, health, and therapy care, drop At back to his apartment, get ready for Big A to start his new job in WI come July, and catch up with ALL the work stuff I put aside for a week. 

But... right now feels... so good. 

(I'll update the past week from my travel journal as #LaterPosts when I get a chance.)

Monday, June 27, 2022


Seville. A leisurely, fancy breakfast with Nu to start the day. We marveled at the hotel's Covid precautions--each guest was given a pair of tongs, and everything from fruit to granola was parceled out in tiny jars to avoid contamination. Then we walked over to the Royal Alcazar and the cathedral after another stop for cafe con leche and a croissant for Big A.

Alcazar was beautiful. Much of the stone and tile ornamentation that had been removed from the Alhambra is in place here and the overall effect is lush and sumptuous. The scale is also quite a bit smaller that the Alhambra, as it seemed to be mostly residential rather than a fort. Again I'd have loved to wander around and get lost in the surprises and wonders at every turn. But Nu and Big A too seemed quite checked out, so we headed for the gift shop and then I headed off for some solo shopping after I parked them on the public benches in the city square.

I was done by noon and proud that I'd found a table for three at La Carmen where I thought we'd decided to have lunch--but it turned out that Big A had wanted to go to Casa Carmen. D'oh. And because I'm terrible with maps, a very grumpy Nu and Big A came to collect me. I was sorry to leave the nice place where the owner had kindly plied me with water and an on-the-house appetizer... especially when it turned out that the other place wouldn't open for a while. But we ended up at a nice restaurant and ordered a set of all-Spanish hits: olivas, croquettas, gazpacho, and paella. A small glass of wine for the grownups (and a small sip for Nu) to toast the end of our Spanish vacation.

I think we managed the week wonderfully, navigated all the small inconveniences and crises of travel skillfully, enjoyed each other's company and insights, and learned so much. I was happy and proud of us and told everyone so.

Next a very sleepy train ride back to Madrid, and quick walk in Retiro Park to wind down; then leftovers from lunch, ice cream, and thence to bed. 

Our flight back to the U.S. is at noon tomorrow.


Sunday, June 26, 2022


I kind of planned this whole trip around the wonderful world of the Al Andalus and the possibilities of convivencia and the historical evidence of people of different faiths and cultures living in peace and harmony. The Alhambra was everything I dreamed it would be--an explosion of bright, intricate design from floor to ceiling. The ceilings were especially detailed--vast as skies and symmetric and repetitive with motifs--I'd love to have something like that to gaze on--on sleepless nights. 

The Muslim palaces were simple on the outside, getting more luxe and ornate the deeper one went into the private areas; the Christian palaces were imposing on the outside and plain on the inside. Our guide was prone to saying things like "not all Muslims are terrorists" in an arch and noble tone, but was otherwise quite knowledgeable. 

Everything was such a delight: the softly burbling fountains, the formal meditative gardens, the private fruited courtyards... all with the maddening fragrance of jasmine, lilacs, and oleanders everywhere. I would have loved to wander around for a few more hours, but we had to catch our train to Seville. So after walking down the steep path to the city center for a handful of souvenirs, we headed back for our hotel and thence to the train station taking the slow train to Seville.


Saturday, June 25, 2022

Barcelona 2

We woke up early so we could get to the station early for our train ride to Granada: Six+ hours at 300+ kms/hour. Olive trees nearly all the way through. And I realized that this part of Spain is fairly arid--barely any rivers or lakes. A short walk from the station to our hotel, and then a lovely "linner" at the bar around the corner. Although last night's dinner was superlative, the very simple salad with tinned tuna and greens was a standout of the trip. 

When we went back to the hotel, it occurred to me how nice it was that at every hotel, they've had a third bed for Nu made up with neatly tucked-in sheets before we checked in. Today was the quiet and low-key center of our travel week: we'll go to bed early, knowing we can sleep in--if we want to.


Friday, June 24, 2022

Barcelona 1

Woke up in our futuristic space station-themed hotel room to a view of aeons-old surrounding hills. Big A watched a YouTube video to figure out why we were going around in an unproductive loop on the Eurail online pass--and he figured it out! Smooth sailing through all our other train reservations after this.

We had an early guided tour booked for La Sagrada Familia. Nu and I left early and walked around while we waited for the tour to start and Big A to show up after getting our train tickets. The tour started. Big A was in a taxi, but not there yet. When I asked the tour facilitator if we could wait a few minutes for Big A, I was told "He has lost his chance." I suspect we'll be quoting this for ages. 😂 I made up my mind to ask the tour guide a bunch of questions to delay our entry into the cathedral so Big A could join us. And then I screamed because someone ran up to me and whispered "Boo" in my ear. Big A!

La Sagrada Familia was more than I had even imagined. Even Nu was impressed. My sister remembered right away that I used to pore over a coffee-table book on Gaudi twenty years ago.... that's how long I've been waiting to see this. But nothing could prepare me for this ongoing, gaudy, excessive, earnest eruption of construction. And they have plans and reliefs all over the place, but the entire thing is a bonkers celebration of whimsy and religious fervor. 

It was a hot day, and we'd spent much of the morning outside, so after a tapas break we piled into a taxi back to the hotel for a siesta. While we were chatting with the driver he said that his favorite place in Barcelona was Park Guell, which was on our list for that afternoon--that made everyone in the taxi super happy. Post-siesta, however we found that tickets for the Park were sold out--so we peeked at what we could from the outside and headed to the beach. 

Beaches are my happy place, and the Mediterranean was particularly blue and mysterious. We left pink Big A in the shade of the promenade and Nu and I spent a long, long time walking on the pier and sitting in meditative silence by the waves. We had gotten news of the overturning of Roe and the possible domino effect on other personal protections at the start of the afternoon and that was weighing on me. Then began a string of texts from friends urging me to show up at the state capitol to protest.

It made me feel out-of-touch and selfish, but we had reservations for dinner, so we went. It was a small, earnest place that served us course after course of delicious, farm-fresh food for over three hours. And while we were wishing At had come too, he sent us a sweet picture of him at lunch with Grandma S who's visiting Lansing for a Banjo workshop


Thursday, June 23, 2022

Madrid ---> Barcelona

Breakfast buffet at the hotel, checked out of our room, checked our luggage at the front desk, and then off to the Prado. There was a line to endorse our online reservations, another to enter the museum, and another to be checked by security... but I'd do twenty more lines if I needed to for the Prado. 

There's no way to see and appreciate everything, so we made a list of essentials and started checking them off. We started off with Las Meninas (brilliant!), The Garden of Earthly Delights (fascinating and much smaller than I imagined), and a host of Rubens and Goyas. On the way, serendipity brought us sculpture gardens, Rafael, del Sartos, and so on.

Nu began to flag so we decided that Big A and Nu would head for the train station where they could rest and snack while I got another hour and a half to wander around. That was lovely of them and lovely for me. I found El Grecos, the Goya "Black Paintings," and then was blown away by this random find where I could see that A Portrait of a Girl with a Pigeon was the same model--only more grown up in Time Defeated by Hope and Beauty

Then I was wandering down the main hallway again and passed by the Las Meninas room again and spied the painting through two doorways--and it was absolutely breathtaking.The angles and light were so amplified, the dwarf's face the most defined of them all, the whole scene so chaotically domestic, and for a moment, it was like I was a part of that tableau--symmetrically contrapuntal to the courtier in the stairway who's also two doorways away. I just stood there for a while.

But I began to get some plaintive texts, so I headed to the train station to meet the fam--I didn't even stop by the gift shop. Got to the train station, drank the orange juice Big A had saved for me (they served the most amazing, freshly-squeezed juice everywhere!), went through security, got on our train, and traveled at 300kms/hour to Barcelona.

We ended the day with tapas in a lively city square filled with toddlers making friends, dogs ditto, fireworks (feast of St. John the Baptist), second-hand cannabis smoke, sangria, many plates of food, gelato from a nearby stand, and then off to bed.


Wednesday, June 22, 2022


Madrid is lovely--ringed by trees and hills and very pleasant 62 degrees. Our hotel room was ready by the time we showed up at 10 am and we were showered, changed, and ready to sort out our Eurail reservations at Atocha Train Station by 11. The Eurail stuff took longer than we anticipated although people were helpful--sadly none of us speak Spanish well. Big A nobly offered to stay in line and figure out the reservations while Nu and I took in the city. 

So Nu and I hopped on a tour bus. Sadly, I have to say the official tour of Madrid didn't speak to me--all the triumphal arches, statues, and royal excess were too redolent of deeply-layered colonial trauma for me. Then Nu fell asleep with his head on my shoulder. I enjoyed that and the evolving 20th century architecture of Gran Via and the bustling outdoor markets of the Mercado San Miguel where we hopped off to look for souvenirs.

By the time we met up with Big A at the hotel, no one had the energy to go out to dinner, so we felt silly, but ordered from the McDonalds around the corner. 


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

To Madrid

When American Airlines wouldn't accept digital copies of our Covid vaccination cards, I thought this somewhat last-minute trip would be canceled. But after an onsite, expensive, and anxiety-inducing rapid antigen test and two hours of scurrying from test center to check-in counter with contradictory and unclear instructions, we finally came into possession of our boarding passes. 

And it's always good to know we don't have Covid. An uneventful flight with lots of beautiful and brilliant sky vistas. We'll be in Madrid by morning.


Monday, June 13, 2022

"it ain't over till it's over"

The end of the night came in the early hours of this morning. We were so tired and sweaty from so much time on the dance floor in the LA heat. The playlist was both Indian and Mexican (like my cousin the bride) and very... energetic.

Memories of our silliness and shenanigans are making me smile on this very long flight back to Michigan where I will resume my very responsible parental persona on arrival.

Pic: Photo booth with my baby cousins


Sunday, June 12, 2022


So much talking: a mix of nostalgia, memories, and future plans. 

(This included an all family summit on how do we solve a problem like the Nu. In my book, there is no problem, but I know this came from a place of love, so I listened and made the right noises.)

My memory of this day is as fuzzy as this pic, but I remember feeling so loved.


Saturday, June 11, 2022

Sari: this is special

An early pic from the Henna and Sangeet part of the wedding before we got our henna done and before the rehearsed and unrehearsed singing and dancing got underway. 

I managed my sari ok. Nicole, you asked--and it really is six yards of fabric wrapped, pleated, tucked into a petticoat, and held together by safety pins. I did make the rookie mistake of not putting my shoes on first, so my sari (I'm in the center by the pillar) is not 'floor level' unlike the other saris in the picture. 

My favoritest part of this is how my favoritest aunt is just holding my hand so close because we've missed each other so much these last couple of years and it felt so good to be reunited.


Friday, June 10, 2022

cherry picking

I mean Nu is literally picking cherries here 🤗. Between the squirrels and the rain, we didn't get any cherries last year, so Nu decided he'd get in there even as our cherries are just beginning to turn pinkish. 

And... Nu got offered the job he interviewed for at the mall yesterday! He says he was interviewed by two "older ladies" (this was defined for me as "20s or 30s" LOLOLOL) with "great energy." He'll start in July. He's so chuffed that he landed his first job interview ever. 

In other child-related news, in an unexpected development, I'm experiencing a sense of calm post At's car accident now that he's taking the bus everywhere. I didn't realize before how much his driving and his driving while brown status weighed on me. 

I'm about 70% packed for my trip to LA tomorrow. I'm gone for just two nights and Big A is fully capable (and better equipped by training) to take care of convalescing Nu, give Scout his meds, etc. but it still feels weird to leave. I'm ostensibly headed to my cousin's wedding--earlier than planned since the date has been changed due to a cancer diagnosis in the family. That sadness--and the superficial stress of making sure I remember the zillion things I need for my saris--are on my mind. I suspect my cousins and I will revert to being our silly childhood selves when we actually see each other.

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

"bookstores, beverages, and besties"

A slow, quiet (bit sad) day for me today. But I saw this post this morning and have been thinking of "bookstores, beverages, and besties" tours all day.

I'm craving travel and people I haven't seen in a while and don't know how much longer I can hold out.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

home, home to take care of the kids

We landed late last night and returned home to excitement and relief from the kids. 

Nu has been amazing about keeping everyone else fed, watered, medicated, and quarantined. At looked much better than I'd imagined although he does have a fever and a sore throat (plus his asthma is kicking in). Ibuprofen and lots of love and care for now. 

Although At thinks it's bad timing (when would a good time for Covid be?!) since he was supposed to be in charge of the younger sibs while we were gone, I wonder if it works out for the best. He's here where we can care for him rather than by himself in his apartment. I remember that time when was in college and so sick his worried housemates called me.

Anyway: Home and hoping--as Nicole put it--that his "symptoms are mild and the recovery is quick."

Pic: Sunset as we were landing in Detroit last night.

Friday, May 13, 2022

net tossup

It never fails. Every time, the wonderful Mel over at Stirrup Queens selects this blog to highlight in her Friday Roundup series (894 and counting!!), something from another part of my life gets published. Sure enough, Mel picked Monday's Mother's Day Blues for her roundup today and this NWSA statement about the leaked SCOTUS decision went live.

I have a slight case of triskaidekaphobia, which prickled to life when Mel noted today was Friday the 13th in her blog post today and my uneasiness really sprouted with the news that At had tested positive for Covid. Nu tested negative, but I had him stay home from school too, just in case. 

(Also testing positive for Covid, scads of people at this Emergency Medicine conference of Big A's. Only about 30% are masked indoors, so it's not a surprise, but given what these folks do for a living, what the ever-loving what?)

Anyway, to sum up: I hate that I'm so far away when the kids are in crisis but am SO glad we're headed home today. And also, this article about how Friday the 13th isn't unlucky, but can tap into powerful female energy was very interesting and gave me more than an idea or two.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

past banter

Still in NOLA.

Missing my babies and home.

And thinking about last week when Big A and I were walking on the MSU campus. A young person in a group running past us yelled out, "nice kicks" at Big A, who was surprised, but reflexively thanked him. 

I, though, was curious about what the runner was wearing... and it turned out that he was wearing an identical pair.

I started laughing and I yelled out to him, "you're wearing the same thing!" 

And he turned around, laughing too, and smirked "I know, right?" before he raced off to to rejoin his group. 

I loved so much that he had been making the joke for himself mostly--since he was going so fast and we might have missed the matching shoes. 

I keep thinking about this and wish life could always be this place where we were all doing fun things with people we like and bantering lightheartedly across generational and race difference. 

Pic: Sunrise over Nola from the hotel room.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

tiny parade

Somehow as if by magic, I've reached the end of my to-do list for the WEEK (letters of recommendation, internship placements, proposal invitations, assorted email catchups, course planning preps).

I took myself off for a long walk to celebrate and, as if just for me, the city shared a tiny parade. The last person you can see in the picture is the last person in the whole parade. 

I don't know what this parade was for, but I remember reading that it's super easy to throw a parade in NOLA (complete with police escort and marching band)

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Hola from NOLA

I'm in New Orleans with Big A who is conferencing. 

It's 90 degree weather, gulf breezes, views from our 34th story hotel room on Canal Street, remote work, and long walks by myself during the day... and hotel bars, takeout, and hangouts with Big A in the evening. 

We might be the only people masking in the hotel (full of emergency medicine doctors because of the conference) like at all, and were a handful of people masked in the airport and on the plane. 

This is absolutely non essential travel for me, so a part of me is puritanically and vindictively whispering that if I get Covid because of this trip, I deserve it. But right in this moment, I'm having fun.

starting over

Once in a while, I'll come across a piece of art--even something Nu has decided to throw away like this piece... And I'll be overcom...