Masks and Mayhem

Once upon a time, I took an overnight train ride from Albuquerque to Los Angeles for spring break with my mom and my sister. It was sometime in the mid nineties, pre cell phones or internet and back when they played one nightly movie in the lounge car. On this particular journey, the movie that Amtrak chose was called Outbreak. Umm, whose brilliant idea was it to show a movie about a viral disease gone awry on a train filled with passengers and stale air? Half way through the movie, we got up and made our way back to our train car, wrapped ourselves in any available garment, and tried not to panic when someone sneezed. It didn’t work.

Cut to today. Corona virus.

A global viral outbreak that some are calling a pandemic and others are warning could become one. Either way, not great news for Mother Earth’s human tenants. In the space of one month, it went from a virus that seemed far away, to one that made cruise ships look like the worst places on earth, to one that is reminding us all of just how reliant we are on each other and how intertwined we have become. Surreal images of vacant cities, subway platforms filled with people wearing masks, stories of others paying hundreds of dollars for a box of masks that should cost no more than $20. In the span of a couple of days, panic and mayhem. Well, that was quick. Civilization really is a fragile thing built on the head of a pin. Or so it sometimes seems.

And…tonight I will board an international flight to Africa. We planned this trip five weeks ago, just before the first rumblings of a virus began to emerge from China. We watched as it spread and checked the CDC website’s travel warnings daily. And then, this week, all hell broke loose. To go or not to go? We decide to go.

A beach town at the tippy tip of South Africa awaits, as does a family in Zimbabwe, old friends of my boyfriend’s. During a recent acupuncture appointment, my doctor advises drinking whiskey on the plane, along with lots of water.

The CDC says masks aren’t needed unless you are already ill and trying to keep your germs to yourself or caring for someone who is ill. Nevertheless masks sell out everywhere when news that the virus is in Italy hits the news. I go to every drug store in town before finally giving up. My dad finds some at a lumber yard and gets them to me. I, along with everyone else, just want to do something to feel like we are doing something.

I pack a suitcase that is, no joke, half filled with hand sanitizer, teas, wet wipes, vitamins, and meds. I wear a hoodie with a scarf and douse the scarf in an immune boosting essential oil. My neuroses run wild.

And now we are in the airport, waiting for the first of three flights that will land us in Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa, sometime on Sunday morning. I swing between excited and anxious but keep coming back to faith that it’s all going to be ok.

I am about to head south of the equator for the first time. To see elephants. To meet people I’ve heard much about. To play in the Indian Ocean. And fingers crossed, to return home to a country that isn’t unraveling in panic, healthy and happy.

Summmmmer.

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For the first time in fifteen years, I am having a summer vacation. Like the analog kind I remember from the 1980’s and early 90’s, pre- summer jobs. Hence the infrequent posts. The heat has turned off my ability to think clearly and I find myself wanting to read other’s words (books!!) rather than write my own.

Pools, oceans, tents, hikes, streams, hammocks, books, gardens…

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Zucchini in the spiralizer, steamed lightly with tomatoes, basil, pine nuts and roasted chicken.  Smoothies blended with chard from the garden, peaches, and ice.

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Two weeks on Cape Cod, living out the summer of my daydreams. Ponds, rope swings, bike paths, and ice cream.  Surfer’s crowd each other as rare summer waves make an appearance on a Friday evening in Rhode Island. Thai food eaten in a VW bus in the parking lot at sunset.

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Small wooden sailboats in a harbor, near Woods Hole, MA. I love them.

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I’m home now. Late summer is upon us. Two weeks until school begins, though that feels exceedingly early. It’s hot and muggy in the desert. The monsoons are here. No plans to travel this fall, at least not far. Routine and rhythm kick back in. Jobs call. Vintage clothing to be photographed and sold. The occasional film set beckons.

It’s been a sweet summer dream. And now a new one begins.

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Summer

Strangely delicious Italian food in Gila Bend, Arizona, after a quick post drive dip in the pool.

A bunny stops, silhouetted in the light of San Elijo State Beach’s bathroom, and stares a me, frozen, and I begin to brush my teeth.

It’s been years since I’ve been camping. Lattes, croissants, and groceries a short walk away, just over the PCH and the train tracks. Not the camping I’m used to. Each night I sleep better than the night before, traffic and trains blurring into white noise. I envy the kids’ ability to shut it out completely.

Red eyes from days of sun and salt.

S’mores.

A quick detour to Williams, Arizona, on the drive home. The Grand Canyon in its late morning, early summer glory. The perfect knife found in a general store.

Open roads, canyons, beaches, and picnics.

The first summer I can remember spending off of a film set in a very long time.

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HBD, Smagik!

Six years ago I created this blog as an exercise to find beauty in the everyday. It was a dreary, February day and I needed a self induced push and reason to get off the couch. By creating the goal of finding or eating or going to or doing something beautiful, delicious, fun, and joyful everyday, my life began to take on these same qualities. Small, everyday, easy to take for granted moments took on a new significance simply by being noticed and appreciated.

Thank you for joining me on the journey! And here’s to many more years of Adventure, Joy, Connection, and to finding the beauty in all of our everydays!

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@smagikstudio

Our Known’s Last Days

I’m riding on a train from Providence back to New York and out the window the trees are just beginning to change. The sky is grey and, after a hot, sticky beginning to the month, temperatures plunged and today was 45 degrees cooler than Wednesday.

Last night, I stayed with friends in Westport, Massachusetts, in a beach house built from a kit in 1890, happily never updated or insulated. After eating lobster casserole at The Back Eddy in Westport and sitting in front of a propane heater to watch the Red Socks play game 1 of the ALCS, I climbed into bed wearing two wool sweaters, a hat, wool long underwear, and socks. It was 48 degrees, inside and out.

Fishermen, autumn’s chill, sweaters, swans in the pond.

On the train back to the city, watching beauty whizz by, while I read an article in NY Magazine about the recent climate report… http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/10/un-says-climate-genocide-coming-but-its-worse-than-that.html1 degrees bad. 2 degrees really bad. 3 catastrophic. 4 or more (towards which we are currently headed) apocalyptic.

A world without fish, coral reefs, snow, sweaters, enough food for billions… drought, fire, hurricane, mass migration, famine, starvation.

So big.

So beyond the imaginable. So far from the changing leaves, lobster, and last night’s lavender sunset. How did we let this happen?

The reality that the system of which we are part and on which we depend is failing and that no matter how quickly we change our ways and create solutions, our future will certainly look drastically different from our past and present.

A brand new baby in her mother’s arms across the aisle from me. Almost 40 years my junior. What will her world look like?

Twelves years. 2030. Twelve years is a blink, a snap of the fingers, the turn of a page, nothing. That’s how long the world’s scientists have given us to turn the boat around and avoid the iceberg, of which there won’t be any more, but you get the point.

The alarm has been sounded, the reality is here, and as I watch New England’s autumn leaves blur by, the beauty takes my breath away.

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RIP AB

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But, that’s ok. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.

-Anthony Bourdain

Thank you for packing us in your suitcase, including us in your travels, for your humanity, stories, humor, words, for urging us to choose the adventure, eat the unfamiliar, explore, and for leaving so much good behind. You were my role model, inspiration, and my always crush.

Rest In Peace.

India Permeates

Back from India for almost four months and I am surprised daily by the ways in which it sneaks up on me and permeates my life in Silver Lake, a million miles away. Before leaving for my trip, I ran into a friend who hugged me and said “this is the last time I’ll ever hug you. You’ll be a different person when you return. No one comes back from India the same.” I thought he was being dramatic.

Ganesha, god of auspicious beginnings, remover of obstacles, patron of the arts, sciences, and writing, watches as I open my notebook, sipping hipster matcha, and begin to write.

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While there I became addicted to their creamy, homemade yogurt and learned that it is one’s neighborly obligation to lend starter to anyone in need. I buy a yogurt maker upon  return and begin experimenting with coconut milk recipes. Bring the milk of your choice to just under boiling, about 200 degrees. Cool until warm to the touch, about 115 degrees. Mix in starter ( being without a yogurt making neighbor, I buy starter at the health food store, though just adding already made, unsweetened yogurt will do the trick as well). Place in the yogurt maker, or slow cooker, or (if you live in a hot climate, like India, on your counter) and let sit undisturbed for anywhere between 4-12 hours. Cool and, voila, enjoy.

A man we met in Bundi, a healer in the guise of a skirt salesman, crosses my mind frequently. Karma, shakras, energy, numerology- he knew things about me I’d never told anyone.

Baby Krishna looks out over my books from his place on the shelf and reminds me to open my heart. Love. It’s the reason we are here, he whispers, the only reason. Love in all its forms.

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Family is the most important thing, says our driver, Lokesh. I agree and, now 800 miles away from mine, miss them terribly.

Feed the dogs on Saturday. It will bring you good karma.

After three weeks, I was ready to return to the familiarity of traffic lanes and avocado toast. But, little did I know that India had already burrowed into my soul and that within a few months I would feel the urge to return, to plan another trip, and that I had been changed forever. My friend was right.

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