20 questions for you

By Caitlin Kelly

For those of you willing to play along…Here’s the last batch, from October 2017.

I’ll go first — and am curious to hear your answers!



The Met Opera House, Lincoln Center, New York


What are some of your passions, hobbies or interests?


I love fine antiques, (preferably 1850 or earlier), especially silver, porcelain and textiles,  which I own and use. I love to cook and entertain. I read a lot, mostly journalism and non-fiction. Travel is my favorite activity, whether to a New York City park or museum or somewhere much further. Also mad for delicious and elegant fragrances, like those made by Hermès, L’Artisan Parfumeur, Byredo and Antonia Bellanca, whose scent Tiempe Passate, which I wore for a while, is almost impossible to find.

And movies! Whether in a theater or on Netflix or on television, I usually watch two or three every week — maybe because my father, who’s still alive and healthy at 89, was an award-winning film-maker; here’s his Wikipedia entry.


What were you known for in school?


Being in trouble and winning prizes for best-in-class academically and for writing.

Scariest moment?


A safari in Kenya when we were left alone in the dark by our guides, who drove off with the vehicles, light and guns — and we were surrounded by wild animals. A recent health issue.

Best job?


As a reporter and feature writer for the Globe & Mail, Canada’s best national newspaper.  It offered great adventures — from covering and meeting Queen Elizabeth to sailing aboard a Tall Ship.



Stuffed animals or dolls or…?


Wayyyy too many stuffed animals, some of whom still share space with us.


Do you have siblings? Are you close to them emotionally?


I have three half-siblings, a brother 10 years younger, one 23 years younger and a half-sister I haven’t met who’s about five years younger. None of us grew up together. It’s complicated.


I learned how to canoe at camp -- useful when we went to Nicaragua
On assignment in Nicaragua for WaterAid — Jen Iacovelli in the bow of a dugout canoe

Are you outdoors-y — or, as humorist Fran Lebowitz wrote, is the outdoors what you step through between the restaurant and the taxi?


Both? I grew up attending summer camps in northern Ontario, ages eight to 16, (three camps), which involved swimming in very cold water, portaging 65-pound wood and canvas canoes while being swarmed by mosquitoes and black flies and knowing how to build a fire. I love camping out, and even have a tent my husband bought me for a recent late-life birthday, but I admit to an equal affection (OK, much deeper) for room service and a dry hotel martini.


My best friend, my husband, Jose


Are you married or partnered? If not, do you enjoy being single?


I’ve been with my second husband (both divorced) for 18 years. We’re very different sorts of people — he is very tidy and hyper-organized, not wild about spontaneity and adventure — but we share values and are both devoted career journalists who started our work for national outlets as college undergrads. No kids.


What’s your nickname?

Family nickname, Catti. A friend, with whom I served for years on a volunteer board (where I was willing to say what others were not), Little Thorn.



What would we typically find in your fridge?


Unsalted butter, half and half, lemons, limes, maple syrup, selzer, low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit and vegetables and far too many condiments. Canadian candy bars unavailable in the States.


Do you enjoy entertaining friends and family?


Love it! Maybe my favorite way to spend time at home.

Are you a highly social and outgoing person — or happier alone at home?


Both! I’ve always been gregarious, but enjoy quiet time on my own.



The Grand Canyon — whose profound silence makes your ears ring

Most beautiful place you’ve visited?


Toss-up between Corsica, Ireland, Ko Phi Phi, (an island in Thailand) and the Grand Canyon.


Secret hope?


To write and commercially publish more books. Just found a new agent eager to represent one of my ideas, so fingers crossed. I’d love to win a Canada Council grant — $20,000.

Have you achieved the goal(s) you set for yourself when younger/in university?




If so, what was it/were they?


I wanted to become a journalist and author, and have. I wanted to become a foreign correspondent and, in reporting as a Canadian in the U.S., have done this as well.


If not, are you OK with that?



Do you struggle with/manage a chronic medical condition?


Osteoarthritis. I have a replaced left hip (Feb. 2012) and my right knee is a mess. This now prevents me from running, jumping and other fun activities.




Do you follow a spiritual or religious tradition/faith?


Nominally Anglican/Episcopalian. Not a regular church-goer, but very fond of a good sermon and have many favorite hymns, like All Things Bright and Beautiful.



Sept. 18, 2011. Jose and I tie the knot!

What makes you laugh loudest and most often?


My husband. Thank heaven.

36 thoughts on “20 questions for you

  1. OK, here you go:
    What are some of your passions, hobbies or interests? I read a lot of history. I’m just about finished with Who Murdered Chaucer by Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame. Definitely worth it.
    What were you known for in school? My great big nose. This girl in Spanish class used to call me “Eagle Beak”.
    Scariest moment? February 14, 1986. I was in a rollover car accident with two friends. The car was seriously messed up and we all thought we had bought the farm but we all walked away without a scratch. And STILL I won’t go to church. What an ungrateful bastard.
    Best job? I convinced the management of an aerospace manufacturing facility that their efficiency issues were better addressed by an interior designer than an engineer. It was dirty, greasy and backbreaking but no one told me how to do it so it was great.
    Stuffed animals or dolls or…? I kinda like rubber chickens.
    Do you have siblings? Are you close to them emotionally? I have four sisters, I’m second. I’m tight with my older sister, the others, not so much.
    Are you outdoors-y — or, , ashumorist Fran Lebowitz wrote, is the outdoors what you step through between the restaurant and the taxi? It would be a real waste to live in this place without enjoying the outdoors.
    Are you married or partnered? Married thirty two years next month.
    ?What’s your nickname? Eagle Beak
    What would we typically find in your fridge? Milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, Bologna, a big pitcher of iced tea, assorted vegetables, yesterday’s leftovers, if they were good. No science experiments.
    Do you enjoy entertaining friends and family? During my courtship with Cathy, we exchanged lots of letters. The last one I wrote was at five A.M. in a Dunkin’ Donuts on Peachtree Road in Atlanta. I wrote about my dreams for the life we were going to have together, of happy times laughing with our friends. It’s literally a dream come true.
    Are you a highly social and outgoing person — or happier alone at home? I’m groovy and graceful once you get through the shell but I don’t go places to meet people.
    Most beautiful place you’ve visited? Tough one. I only have one picture on the wall of a place I have visited, so we have a winner. It’s Shuswap Lake, Salmon Arm, British Columbia. I fished for hours, never caught a thing and didn’t care a bit.
    Secret hope? I find it’s better if I put my hopes out in the open.
    Have you achieved the goal(s) you set for yourself when younger/in university?If not, are you OK with that? I guess I’m okay with it. Whatever did or didn’t happen, I’m still the luckiest guy I know.
    Do you struggle with/manage a chronic medical condition? Type 2 diabetes
    Do you follow a spiritual or religious tradition/faith? I believe religion IS the problem. What makes you laugh loudest and most often? Quoting movie lines at exactly the same time as Cathy. Most recent: “It IS a toothpick!” Cheech Marin-Up in Smoke
    This was a lot of fun. I can’t wait to read what everyone else throws in. See ya.

    1. LOVE this!

      Thanks so much for playing!

      I also read history for fun…weird stuff like a history of the Weimar Republic (stunning and made me dive deeper, so now reading a 1929 novel in translation, Berlin Alexanderplatz.) I love social history, like a history of 18th century London and a history of Paris. Did you know there were icebergs in the Seine centuries ago????

      Eagle Beak????? (I have the Kelly schnozz, for sure.)

      Happy anniversary!!!!!

      Jose just got diagnosed with same, so it’s been an emotional week here as he settles into all the routines.

      I do love that, after years together, one tends to know all the shared in-jokes.

      1. Well, no one calls me Eagle Beak anymore, not since I made the leap from gawky to devastatingly handsome ;D Of course that was a long time ago, aw crap, who am I fooling? I’m still devastatingly handsome. You should see how the cashiers at the grocery store look at me. What really makes me the most attractive, though, is my humble, self-effacing manner.
        Sorry to hear about Jose and the downside of sweetness. The doctor probably said this already, but just in case: The sooner you make your self-care a routine, the sooner it stops being a pain in the ass.
        My next history book is going to be the Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman. She won a Pulitzer prize for this one and the period, right at the beginning of the first world war, is very interesting politically. I’m probably going to snack on a little sci-fi before I jump in, though.
        I had no idea there were icebergs in the Seine. It makes sense if you think about it, and you don’t believe the Earth was created six thousand years ago.
        If I ever get to New York I’m looking you up. We could probably talk for a solid week without slowing down.

  2. JosephineKarianjahi

    This is great Caitlin. I did this post and it made me smile to read some of the other responses.

    What are some of your passions, hobbies or interests?
    Learning new languages is a big part of my life – English, Kiswahili/Swahili, German and Japanese in order of strength of command. Travel and starting new projects at home and for work are very interesting especially since I started keeping my own home in the last 4 years only. I also write constantly either using pen and paper, which I love, or on a device like laptop or smartphone. I am a happy lifelong reader, and I am never without 3 or 4 books I am tackling at any one time. Currently reading Children of Blood and Bone – a first by Tomi Adeyemi and The Confidence Code  by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. 

    What were you known for in school?
    I was well known for academic excellence, and also picking an interesting mix of subjects. In high school I was one of only two students who picked Computer Science and German, and aced both. In university I studied the Growth and Structure of Cities at Bryn Mawr College, a liberal arts degree combining urban anthropology and economics. 

    Scariest moment?
    Walking onto a street just as two Matatu (public van)  drivers in Nairobi were racing out of their parking slots in the Central Business District and missing being knocked over by inches only because they came to a complete stop upon hearing me screaming for my life through their open windows. Phew!

    Best job?
    I worked for four years on an exciting film and media project coordinating film screenings in support of women leadership. You can check it out at Women and Girls Lead
    Stuffed animals or dolls or…?
    Currently only at one stuffed animal and I am thinking it is enough for now. Unless I get a Hidden Figures doll set https://www.essence.com/news/katherine-johnson-hidden-figures-barbie-doll

    Do you have siblings? Are you close to them emotionally?
    Yes, I have one sister who is my bestie and we are very close.

    Are you outdoors-y — or, as humorist Fran Lebowitz wrote, is the outdoors what you step through between the restaurant and the taxi?
    I am not an outdoorsy person. Any hiking and ambling and camping has been incidental and rarely planned by me. That being said, I think this will change as I start enjoying being outdoors more and more in green, filled-with-parks Germany.

    Are you married or partnered? If not, do you enjoy being single?
    I am married and live with my husband here in Germany. 

    What’s your nickname?
    My 10 letter long first and last names have yielded many nicknames over the years. Josephine Karianjahi. Jo, Jojo, Njahi, FineFine, Jos, JK. And I love them all. 

    What would we typically find in your fridge?
    Assorted jams, sweet peppers, lemons, milk (low fat), apple cider vinegar, and at least 1 full meal that can be heated up as leftovers.

    Do you enjoy entertaining friends and family?
    Absolutely. I am happy to get to do that more and more as the weather continues to warm up, and of course winter is always indoors time. I love fancying up every day meals with cutlery, napkins and decorations. I am always learning from how other friends and family host us when we visit, and it makes my heart sing to break bread with friends. 

    Are you a highly social and outgoing person — or happier alone at home?
    I am an extrovert and enjoy networking and meeting new people. Alternately, I love being home, and my own company too. 

    Most beautiful place you’ve visited?
    It has to be Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point of Europe which I wrote about for Medium  in Europe so far. In Kenya it has to be Shela Village in Lamu, Kenya, which we visited in 2016 for the very first time. Shela Village boasts an amazing beach and Swahili culture like no other. 

    Secret hope?
    To publish some work that tells stories I have been aching to share about the world from my eyes and experiences living, studying and working in Kenya, the USA and Germany.

    Have you achieved the goal(s) you set for yourself when younger/in university?
    Not yet. I am 6 years out from my last university course and I am not yet there. 

    If so, what was it/were they?
    ….Answer Loading…

    If not, are you OK with that?
    No, but that gives me fuel to keep working on my goals long term.

    Do you struggle with/manage a chronic medical condition?
    I do not, and I am thankful for each day of mobility and good health.

    Do you follow a spiritual or religious tradition/faith?
    Yes, I do follow the Christian faith from the Anglican/Episcopal tradition, and this is a great source of fulfilment in my life. 

    What makes you laugh loudest and most often?
    My husband. One of the best parts of being married to him. 

    1. Thanks!

      Wow, what an interesting life you’re leading…I’m fascinated by your university studies, which sound both practical and intellectually challenging.

      I am dying to get to Lamu — I was in Kenya on safari in my mid 20s (was lucky enough to have a month’s paid leave and an inheritance that allowed such a splurge.) Loved it all. Remember it so vividly, including a drink at the Norfolk Hotel!

      Just went to church this morning (Episcopal) and it was good to be there.

      And thank heaven for a fun(ny) spouse. 🙂

      1. JosephineKarianjahi

        The university studies were certainly interesting, and I learned a lot, while working summers as a website designer, a juvenile detention center intern in Kenya, and an public health intern for the City of Washington DC, as a catering staff member during school years, and a clinical research coordinator right afterwards.

        Lamu is up there with the world’s treasured sites, and I am so glad to hear you made it there. What a fortuitous moment to be able to afford a safari in those days when one could find rhinos in the wild.

        Our Episcopal moments are always precious to me.

        One day I will write about the fun and funnybone moments we have together.

        Really great challenge there, thanks for inviting us all to play.

      2. Thanks for all these details…

        I never did get to Lamu (got as far as Mombasa), but hope to return one day.

        We are now searching for our next minister, having had a disastrous experience with the last one (who came from corporate life and had zero gifts for pastoral care). She lasted 7 years; the our interim minister (a much warmer woman, also my age), is someone I like very much, so am inching my way back into it.

      3. JosephineKarianjahi

        Hope you get to do that trip one day. I always love when we can connect with our minister. I hope the interim becomes a permanent.

      4. Thanks!

        I wish, but that won’t happen. The search committee is now interviewing potential candidates — and I sent them 2 letters; a re-send of the long one explaining why we had left initially, and a shorter one urging them to NOT choose anyone like the minister who left and who had terrible pastoral skills. It really scarred many people and we lost quite a few because of her.

  3. Pingback: Get to know me: 20 Questions – Josephine Karianjahi

  4. Okay, seems like it’d be fun to play along with this one.
    1) Passions, hobbies, and interests: Creative writing, volunteering, hiking, spending quality time w/family and friends, cooking, reading, movies, music, and thrift store shopping.
    2)What I was known for in school: Tough one. I like to think it was my creative pursuits: choir, speech team, band (I played the clarinet), newspaper staff, and drama.
    3)Scariest moment: Giving birth for the first time (we now have two adult children). There was a moment there when I was certain I could go no further. Yet somehow, by the grace of God, my supportive husband, and great doctor and nurses, me and our baby got through it.
    4) Best job: The one I have right now. 25 hours per week, the chance to help and interact daily with senior citizens in need, autonomy and variety are just what I needed after working full time as a social worker for so many years.
    5)Stuffed animals or dolls? Neither.
    6) Siblings? Am I close to them emotionally?: Two; a big sister and a big brother. Very close with my sister. She’s the best.
    7) Outdoors-y? I think for the most part, yes. My husband and I love finding new trails to hike here in Colorado. We really miss being able to go fishing like we did when we lived in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Our days of camping outside in a tent though are probably done though. A cabin or camper will do just fine for me at this point in my life!
    8) Married?: Yes, in fact yesterday we celebrated our 28th anniversary!
    9) Nicknames?: Yes, Binky (from childhood, because I sucked on a pacifier all the time and possibly for more years than normal), and Rhoda-Joda, courtesy of my dear old Dad.
    10) What would you typically find in my fridge?: Cream for my morning coffee, fruits and veggies, yogurt, eggs, protein drinks, and V8 juice. We try our best to eat healthy.
    11) Do you enjoy entertaining friends and family?: That is a big fat YES for me. I love everything from the planning to the executing. Which is great because when you move to Colorado from the midwest, you tend to get a lot of company!
    12) Are you highly social or happier at home alone: Truly both. I am energized by socializing with other people. But I also love having a quiet house to think my thoughts and putz around all by my lonesome (like I’m doing this morning).
    13) Most beautiful place I have visited: Islamorada, in the Florida Keys. Went there with my husband to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Hope we can do more exotic travel together in the coming years though.
    14) Secret hope?: That my creative writing will be published by someone other than myself on my blog! Monetary compensation would be the icing on the cake.
    15) Have you achieved the goals set for yourself in University?: Yes, I actually have. Got my B.S. in social work and eventually became a certified social worker in the state of Wisconsin.
    16) Do I struggle with a chronic medical condition?: Yes, carpal tunnel in both hands and heredity neuropathy. But I manage. Heating pads and Alleve are helpful tools.
    17) Do you follow a spiritual or religious faith?: Yes, my husband and I are Christians and long time members of the United Church of Christ, an inclusive, progressive denomination who from my perspective, is on the right side of history.
    18) What makes you laugh the loudest and most often?: Probably my husband who is always at the ready with witty commentary. Our youngest kid also never ceases to crack me up with her anecdotes about life. Recent random text from her: Am I the only one who always thought that Roseanne Barr and Rosie O’Donnell were the same person? Ha ha!

    1. Thanks for making time for this!

      I love learning about some of my blog followers, who I know are global, cool people.

      Happy anniversary!

      I have been to Islamorada…the Keys are really such an unusual place.

      I admire social workers tremendously. It’s essential work and, as you know, can be both draining and fulfilling.

      I’ve been to 38 states (and 40 countries) — and never (!!?) to Colorado. It’s nuts. My husband was a photographer years ago at the Rocky Mountain News (later NYT) and really enjoyed his time there, so we keep saying we’ll go…and we never do. But I want to!

      So sorry about your carpal tunnel. Despite writing/typing for a living for 40 yeas, I have not yet suffered it.

      The United Church is an interesting denomination, and one popular in my native Canada,

  5. Passions/Hobbies/Interests
    Landscape photography. It’s something I started many years ago and am only getting back to it now. Flying – it’s part of my DNA now. And travelling. I love seeing new places, especially off the beaten track. Reading, although I often don’t have time for it.

    My husband is a really great cook and I also like to cook as well, so you will find everything from capers to tapenades. My French-Canadian background has heavily influenced how I cook, so you will always find the ingredients for French sauces. You won’t find ketchup though – neither of us care for it.

    We do like to entertain, but only 2-4 people at a time.

    I am an introvert and I avoid crowds and big gatherings – to me they are exhausting and something to be endured. I prefer small groups or one or two at a time.

    Most beautiful place? Again, hard to say. My home in the Okanagan is in one of the most beautiful places. I love western Ireland, Italy and Iceland. And no, I’m not stuck on places that start with I. 🙂

    Secret hope? It’s not really secret but staying in good health. Having enough to buy a townhouse in Calgary and live across two provinces – we’re working towards that.

    My university choices were controlled by money – whatever I studied needed to pay off. The military put me through uni and started me on a different path. I would like to go back just to take courses out of sheer interest. I hope to do that sometime.

    I have a mild blood pressure problem but It’s easily managed. I have two hip prostheses, the result of an accident.

    I am not at all religious and have some very decided opinions about religion. I was raised Catholic but attended the United Church for a few years.

    What (or who) makes me laugh? My husband M. He has a gift for the quick funny response. 🙂

    I did well academically and also played basketball.

    Scariest moment? When I was posted to Cyprus and actually was shot at. I learned to live with scared.

    Best job? Hard to say.

    No stuffed animals.

    Three siblings. The one I was closest to passed away a couple of years ago. Of the remainder, one is a narcissist whom I avoid and the other is something of a loner whom I only communicate with occasionally.

    I used to be more outdoorsy. Lots of canoeing into isolated areas, but I am too old for that now. I still go hiking though.

    I am married to someone who is perfect for me. 🙂

    1. Thanks!

      I also love Western Ireland and have been several times — my father owned a 1789 house there for a while, near Athenry (near Galway.)

      I didn’t know about your military background. Very cool!

      Landscape photography is challenging — you always need something for scale. But when done well, it’s so beautiful. I follow several such photographers on Instagram.

      I really miss canoeing and very much want to do some more trips — but no one wants to go with me and solo feels too scary. That would mean a group trip with strangers, which can go either way…

      Have you made tourtiere? I’m a huge fan of French cooking but admit to terror of sauces. I made a creme Anglaise once that…wasn’t. I wish I had more sauce confidence.

  6. I love Galway. Some of my French ancestors (from Conqueror days, but the second wave – the ones who saw that William was doing well and took advantage) settled there.

    I make tourtiere several times a year but particularly at Christmas. I grew up with that. My English/Irish husband loves meat pies, especially tourtiere. My auntie (who was a great cook) insisted that I know how to make sauces, even if I couldn’t make much else. 🙂

    1. Galway is lovely.

      My great grandfather was the schoolteacher in the one-room schoolhouse (which I’ve visited twice) in Rathmullan, Co. Donegal, We also saw his attendance records (with my grandfather mentioned) and his “bad behavior” record — there’s my granddad for “persistent talking.”

      So it’s genetic! 🙂

  7. i always enjoy reading these posts and learning more about you – here are my own late answers:

    passions/interests: movies, books, writing, walking in the woods, cooking, traveling, playing with family and friends, quiet time, interesting conversations with strangers i cross paths with.

    known for in school: getting along with all kinds of people, not in any one group

    scariest moment: white water rafting – worth it

    best job: have it now, teaching kinders

    stuffed animals: sock monkeys

    sibs/closeness: one brother, one sister, lost another sister when we were in our 20s. closer to my sister than my brother. both live out of state and we see each other once or twice a year.

    outdoorsy?: enjoying walking, hiking, playing in the water – not a huge camper but can be a fun adventure

    partner status: single, but always open to having a partner

    nickname: peaches. was my childhood nickname, reclaimed it when i became a grandmother.

    in my fridge: plain greek yogurt, sparkling water, eggs, salsa, feta, wraps, fresh baby spinach, butter, variety of local beers, veggies

    enjoy entertaining: love to invite a mix of people over, my house is tiny, so a small number is best

    group time or alone time: i’m kind of an introverted extrovert. love talking to most anyone, one on one or in a small group, but very happy to recharge with alone time.

    most beautiful places i’ve been: ireland and australia

    secret hope: be paid to write part time at a little local newspaper, retire from working full time, a find a great companion/partner who will challenge me

    younger goal accomplished: yes, working in advertising promoting films,

    later goal: teaching and seeing my children grow into good people

    chronic conditions: plantar fasciitis (both feet)

    spiritual/traditions: closed to the buddhist path – kindness/compassion/simplicity

    makes me laugh: so many things, so many people bring it on, laugh when i sometimes least expect it

    1. Thanks!

      Love this…and why does this all feel familiar? 🙂

      Sorry to read about plantar fasciatis — it’s so painful.

      Ireland is amazing. I have been 5 times and am eager to return again and again.

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