Six favorite activities

By Caitlin Kelly


Listening to the radio


It’s a rare day I don’t have my trusty little black transistor radio on beside me. I listen to BBC World News when I have time, (it’s an hour), and many NPR shows, from All Things Considered, Fresh Air and The Takeaway, (now hosted by old friend Tanzina Vega, who worked with Jose at The New York Times) to fun weekend shows like The Moth, This American Life and even silly ones like Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.

I’ve been working alone at home since 1996 so the radio is a steady companion. We’ve even sent a gift to Jeff Spurgeon, host of the morning show on WQXR, New York’s classical music station — a tiny plastic T. Rex — an in-joke he appreciated after he once joked about dinosaurs in the Hudson River; (probably historically accurate!)

Our new car has Sirius XM so I love listening to CBC as well.



Reading the Weekend Financial Times


The FT is a very specific read, as one wit dubbed it: “the hometown paper of the global cosmopolitan elite.”

Its real estate pages — larded with country estates in every corner of the world and enormous penthouses in Paris and New York — can leave you somehow concluding that five million euros/pounds/dollars is actually a bargain, considering. Its glossy magazine, with classic fuck-you British snottiness, is called How to Spend It, and typically features a watch at $300,000 or a $20,000 gown.

But the paper itself, and its arts section, is a delight. Its columnists include a few thoughtful sparky women (albeit an Oxbridge-y crowd) and so many book reviews of books you’ll never seen mentioned in the American press. I appreciate a non-American perspective on business, politics, art, design…everything.





Trying out a new recipe


I have a whole shelf of cookbooks and endless binders filled with recipes I’ve clipped on paper from magazines and newspapers over the years. Few things are as fun as leafing through them and searching out an old favorite, (leek-tomato quiche from the Vegetarian Epicure Part Two), or trying something new. I always mark down the date I first tried a recipe and whether we liked it.

Entertaining gives us a chance to try even more!


Introducing people who’d be a good fit


This is the best. I recently connected two of my favorite younger friends — one in London and one in St. Louis, as one grappled with an issue I thought the other might have some wisdom on. They have other things in common as well; my connections aren’t random!

Another friend was visiting Shanghai and one of my freelance colleagues was teaching there, so I made the introduction from my home in suburban New York — even though, normally, they both live in New York City. Done!




Seeking treasure at flea markets, consignment shops, thrift shops and antique stores


As someone both frugal and design-obsessed, this is a consistent pleasure. People are so eager to ditch possessions that there are wonderful finds waiting — early glass and silver and silver plate, rugs, furniture, linens and tableware. I recently read a fantastic book on the topic and highly recommend it, and here’s a used copy for $7.95!




Discovered this fab 1940s diner on Long Island on a road trip

Road trip!

I’ve done many over the years — across Canada with my Dad at 15 and with him driving all around Ireland; from Montreal to Charleston, S.C. with my first husband and, most recently, from our home 25 miles north of New York City to north of Bancroft, Ontario — solo. I did it in four four-hour legs, which helped! I’ve done solo road trips through Arizona, and through some of Texas while researching my first book.

This combines multiple sources of happiness: travel, new sights, seeing old friends, listening to the radio, getting out of town. And, when we have a nice new car as we do right now, the sheer pleasure of a quiet, well-designed automobile.


What are some of yours?

16 thoughts on “Six favorite activities

  1. This is a good one. Everyone likes activities, so there’s no telling what’s going to pop up here. Here are a few of mine:
    Reassembling my past.
    When I was growing up my family used to move every couple years or so. Our moving expenses were paid by the Navy, but only up to a certain weight. This, of course, meant my sisters and I were leaving stuff behind everywhere we went. When my folks bought a roll-top desk and a massive Chippendale sideboard from an estate sale in Scotland, the rest of us were lucky to escape with the clothes on our backs, much less any of the cool stuff we found in places like the Oxfam thrift shop. Now looking for this stuff is a really entertaining pastime.
    My latest find is a copy of the Ludgate Reciter. It’s an old book of (old) poems, think Wordsworth, Longfellow and Emerson, that I used to read aloud. My teachers thought it was wonderful, even reading “Paul Revere’s Ride” to a British public school crowd, but my fellow students were not impressed. I still like to read aloud. In fact, I will be reading the Saint Crispin’s day speech from Henry V today, as this is St. Crispin’s day. Even though I will be reading to an empty house. I play my guitar when no one is here to listen, so I guess it’s not that weird. In fact, I will read this comment aloud several times before I post it. I’m doing it now.
    Playing games with friends
    I’m a geek and so are most of my friends. We’ve played lots of games from Avalon Hill, as well as all kinds of more obscure, kickstarter games or even games we make up. I’ve posted a couple sessions of a game I’m working on called “Godawful Monsters vs. Yokels in Matching Coats”. You should read it (Hint hint) so my greatness can continue to cover the globe like a plague of locusts or something.

    OK, I don’t want to slow down the internet, so one more and I’m done. This one’s dedicated to Rami Ungar the Writer.
    Watching Paranormal investigation shows with my wife.
    I’m a total skeptic. My wife is not, but we both know bullshit when we smell it. That’s why we watch Ghost Adventures. If jumping to conclusions was an Olympic track and field event, these guys would win the gold walking away. It’s so funny it’s incredible.
    We don’t like a lot of the same stuff on TV, but this is good for laughs on Friday evening.

    Man, I’m writing my butt off over here, that’s great. Thanks for posting this up.

  2. I’m always happy to impress :D. Godawful Monsters uses basic rules components which are common to many tabletop miniatures games, so there’s no reinventing the wheel. It’s a matter of making it simple enough to move along but still leaving enough options to keep it from being a bore. I could play gin rummy all day long.

  3. I love to play poker, but I can’t afford it. My father-in-law used to call me “No Limit” because I just didn’t know when to fold. Never tried bridge. Everyone I know who plays loves it. Maybe someday. Cribbage is a very good game, popular in Canada and it works well as an online game.

    1. It’s extremely popular in Canada…no idea why! have never tried it. I play Scrabble against the computer often but prefer games face to face…too competitive to crow at a screen! πŸ™‚ Jose has gotten annoyingly good at Bananagrams.

  4. Working on a good story is always a blast for me. Lately, for example, I’ve been working on a story that has turned out to be a lot longer than I first expected, and I’m enjoying reaching the climax. It might be my next novel after Rose is published.
    I also like good books, TV and movies, especially in the horror genre, but that probably isn’t a surprise, isn’t it?
    And I love hanging out with people I like, especially at fun places like a new or a favorite restaurant, or just in the car on the way to the grocery store. It’s nice to talk and catch up and make each other laugh.
    Oh, and when i can, I love relaxing with a cat or a dog. I’d like to have both when I’m able to, someday.

  5. wonderful choices all!

    here are some of mine:

    sunday morning nyt crossword puzzle solving with a big cup of coffee, still in pajamas, no need to go anywhere.

    a small dinner party on a patio, with candles, food made with care, and great friends

    a chance meeting of an interesting person when traveling to a new place

    seeing a film or reading a book that transports me in some way

    walking in a quiet woods

    listening to the sound of children laughing all around me

  6. I am not ashamed to admit I love to flip through Harper’s Bazaar at the end of a long week. The fashion photography is eye candy for me–inspires me with colors and themes. Same for decorating magazines. But I also love a good book, the solid chop of a carrot on the cutting board as I cook, a movie that takes me away.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s