I absolutely loved the trip my hubby Bill and I took to visit family on Cape Cod over the 4th of July this year.
My sister and brother-in-law live on the Cape for six months each year and always host a blow-out 4th of July party, complete with professional-grade fireworks as the grand finale.
We rented a house 10 minutes away from my sister’s and our youngest son and his kids and our middle son and his wife stayed with us.
I got to see all three of my nieces, their significant others and children, as well as other family members.
We rode bikes, went on sip ‘n strolls, and went quahogging. For those of you who don’t know what a quahog (pronounced co-hog) is, the basket in the photo above is full of them. Here in Pennsylvania, we call them hard-shelled clams.
To gather quahogs, you dig in the mud in the bay with your toes until you touch something hard. Most times what you have found is a rock; occasionally the hard object is a clam. If you find a rock, you throw it back in the bay; if you find a quahog, you place it in the basket. It’s pretty simple. You definitely need a pedicure afterward. Mud and silt from the bay are ground deep under the toenails of the foot used for quahog probing.
The creature on the top of the basket is a whelk. We saved the whelk to show to the kids, then placed him back in the bay. The quahogs, we placed on the grill and ate with bacon and salsa.
“Maturity is realizing how many things don’t require your comment.” – Rachel Wolchin
Around the middle of the month, Bill and I were once again on the road, this time to Pittsburgh.
We stayed in a B&B recommended by one of Bill’s former co-workers. By the time we arrived at the B&B, I was tired, stressed from driving through congestion on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and very, very hungry.
When we tried to enter the house, the door was locked. I checked the confirmation email on my phone. Yes, the dates were correct and we arrived within the designated hours for check-in.
I had just started to look for a phone number to call, when our host, Ed, unlocked the door for us. We waited in the Victorian parlor while Ed showed another couple to their room.
The parlor was crammed with authentic Victorian-era antiques and kitschy Caribbean nick-knacks, a strange combination. It looked like someone from the 1890s had a time machine to travel to modern-day Jamaica and brought home a boatload of souvenirs.
After a short wait, Ed showed us our room, which was decorated in the same style. Our room was spacious, with a glorious king-sized bed, but only clean-ish. The sink in our bathroom was an antique, but not from the Victorian-era; it was turquoise, with separate faucets for hot and cold water, and rust stains in the bowl.
I grumbled my displeasure.
I wish now I had held my tongue. The B&B turned out to be really fun. Ed was a wonderful host, the other guests were congenial, it was at a perfect location, and the funky decor grew on me.
Apparently, I have not yet achieved enough maturity to know when a comment is not needed.
One of my nieces suffered for years from horrendous debilitating sinus infections, sometimes five or six times annually. She had surgery to correct the problem to no avail.
This year, she told me, her sinus infections were gone. She discovered she is allergic to dairy products, which were triggering the infections, by going on “The Elimination Diet” as a desperate last-resort diagnostic attempt.
I had never heard of The Elimination Diet before, so she enlightened me.
Her husband advocated the diet, but she initially resisted, thinking it was too far out there, too new-age-y. Finally, she agreed to give it a try.
The way it works is this: you begin by eliminating all foods that may be causing a food allergy from your diet for three weeks.
My niece eliminated nuts, corn, soy, dairy, citrus fruits, nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants), wheat, foods containing gluten, pork, eggs, alcohol, and seafood. After the second week on the diet, she felt much better and the sinus infections went away.
Gradually, she re-introduced individual food groups back into her diet, one-by-one. As soon as she re-introduced dairy products, the sinus problems came back. Conventional allergy testing confirmed she is allergic to milk protein.
My niece now avoids all dairy and is feeling much better, and I learned something new.
I was on fire, reading-wise this month. I read seven books in July.
The one I liked best, pictured above, was “Ordinary Grace” by William Kent Krueger (5 stars). It had everything – family drama, a murder mystery, some theology, and a coming-of-age story set in the 1960s. The writing was stellar, the story gripping, and this book caused me to stay up too late several nights in a row until I completed it.
“I’m Fine and Neither Are You” by Camille Pagan (4 stars) explores honesty in friendships and marriage. An interesting, well-told story with a worthwhile message.
“Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith” by Anne Lamott (4.5 stars) is a typical Anne Lamott essay collection. If you like her writing (I do), you will like this book. My copy is dog-eared and highlighted in many places.
“The Overdue Life of Amy Byler” by Kelly Harms (3.5 stars) is a complete female fantasy novel, fluffy, but fun. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t make me think.
“The Other Wes Moore” by Wes Moore (4 stars) is a cautionary tale. An autobiography and biography about two African-American men from Baltimore with the same name and very different fates.
“The Secret Wisdom of Nature” by Peter Wohlleben (2.5 stars) was disappointing. This non-fiction book illustrates how removing one species from an ecosystem can cause drastic changes to the environment, a topic which interests me, however, the book was repetitive and just not compelling.
“The Unstoppable Ruth Bader Ginsburg” by Antonia Felix (1.5 stars) was the most dissatisfying book of the month. A coffee table book, the writing consists mostly of the texts of speeches given for or about RBG. I was hoping for more insight and analysis.
I am linking up with Heather Gerwing for her “Four Somethings”. Thanks, Heather, for giving the opportunity to think and write about four such compelling topics.