Vacation! 5 Days in DC, 3 at the shore

By Caitlin Kelly

Our first long break since March 2021, which was five days upstate.

We drove south from NY, about 4.5 hours, and treated ourselves to a stay at The Willard, which opened in 1818 — the place where Martin Luther King wrote his “I have a dream” speech and where Julia Ward Howe wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Name anyone powerful in politics here and they’ve stayed or visited — the White House is a few blocks further down Pennsylvania Avenue.

It is classic old-school elegance, and our room was large and quiet.

We arrived in time for Sunday afternoon tea. What a treat! Every table was filled with people, mostly women, dressed up in their best — one table full of women wearing THE BEST HATS.

We are terrible tourists! I am never one to rush around filling my days with seeing all the official sights.

The first day I visited a favorite shop, Goodwood, in business since 1994, an eclectic mix of clothing, accessories, lighting and furniture. A block away is a fun restaurant, Ted’s Bulletin, (the 14th Street location) where I sat at the counter for lunch — repeating both times a pleasure I discovered on my last solo visit there, in March 2020, just as COVID started destroying such simple amusements as travel and eating out.

I was advised to visit the Phillips Collection and whew! It’s now one of my favorite museums anywhere, a collection of art from Renoir and Degas and van Gogh to Rothko, Diebenkorn, Klee, Kandinsky — all set within a huge old mansion. Its courtyard is also very beautiful. The staff are really welcoming and the gift store excellent. I loved the current exhibition of work by Black artist David Driskell, whose work I had never seen.

We had a long great lunch at Le Diplomate with our dear friend and ex NYT photographer Steven Crowley.

We returned — for Jose’s birthday — to one of his old haunts, the jazz club Blues Alley, for the second show. Jose lived in D.C. for eight years as a New York Times photographer, having realized his dream of becoming a member of the White House Press Corps, covering Reagan, Bush and Clinton.

Another day, Jose got his NYT staff pal Doug Mills — too busy to meet for coffee since he covers The President and all his doings — outside the White House for a quick hello. He gave us these M and Ms candies, fresh from Air Force One.

I spent a day antiquing with a very dear friend, one of our rituals, and found a homespun coverlet in pristine condition. It was such a perfect mix of new sights and discoveries, renewing some of our oldest and deepest friendships, enjoying a luxurious hotel. The weather was perfect every day, a bit cool in the evenings and sunny and (not D.C. humid) in the daytime.

We loved our meal at Jaleo, a tapas restaurant.

I was sorry not to have seen more art, as we had planned, but it was just so good to finally see our friends — Jose also caught up with another former NYT colleague.

We then drove 90 minutes east to coastal Maryland and are in Easton for three days, off to a Maritime Museum tomorrow.

It has been a wonderful and badly needed break.

We’re ready to head home and dive back into work, refreshed,

American Workers Finally Protesting En Masse

By Caitlin Kelly

For the first time since 2009, thousands of American workers are on strike or soon to be on strike — from 60,000 members of IATSE who work on TV shows and film to nurses in Massachusetts to the 10,000 John Deere workers in Illinois. Iowa and Kansas. Cereal makers are on strike.

We’re seeing history.

For decades, American workers — many doing dangerous, tedious jobs — have suffered stagnant wages, while their corporate masters earning record profits blew that money on stock buybacks and massive compensation, like 300 times that of their lowest-paid workers. The federal minimum wage is a pathetic $7.25, in a time of such inflation that Social Security just boosted its payments a record 9.5 percent.

Americans workers have, for a variety of reasons, felt — and been — powerless.

Now thousands are quitting, leaving retail, hospitality, medicine and even trucking scrambling to hire new staff.

The country has long had very low union membership, not even 15 percent.

This is a nation with no paid maternity leave, no mandated sick days or vacation days.

A nation of “at will”employment — an abomination that means any employer can fire you any time for NO reason.

Awesome!

I grew up in Canada and spent my 25th year on a journalism fellowship based in Paris, where every newspaper had an alphabet soup of unions to memorize. And French workers have never been shy about showing their force.

The immense power American employers hold over their staff has always shocked me deeply, and the cowed obedience they get in return.

But if your only access to affordable health insurance is by getting and keeping your job, even if you hate it, what choice do you have?

And COVID has now killed 700,000 Americans — a number too large to make sense of really.

So there are simply thousands of fewer workers; basic economics mean when there are fewer people ready to take your job offer, you may have to make it a lot more appealing than you used to.

I watch this powerful and inspiring movement from the sidelines of self-employment, where I and my husband have been for 15 and six years respectively.

There are many challenges to working freelance, from finding well-paying, reliable clients to getting paid quickly to managing our own taxes and costs of health insurance unsubsidized by an employer.

But it offers a very significant source of power, the one — belatedly and long overdue — now being wielded by so many fed-up, exhausted and pissed-off American workers.

We can, and do, withdraw our skilled labor from abusive, cheap clients.

We can, and do, set our own pay rates.

We can, and do, arrange our work schedule to best suit our needs.

We can, and do, take sick days and vacations.

Once you have discovered your own autonomy — not everyone wants to or can hustle this hard! — it’s difficult-to-impossible to imagine re-assuming the absurdities imposed by too many employers and public policy that routinely ignores what workers need and want.

Have you ever just quit a miserable job?

Back to the ballet!

The ceiling of the Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, one of my NYC pleasures

By Caitlin Kelly

Ohhh, how I missed watching live ballet.

Last week a good friend, a New York Times colleague of my husband and I went to our second New York City Ballet performance; we also attended Sept. 20’s opening night, which opened to rapturous, grateful, relieved applause, every red velvet seat filled.

After 18 months of a dark theater, what an intense joy it was to be with thousands of others as happy and grateful for such beauty and this powerful and emotional shared moment.

The two nights cost me $190 for two tickets…yes, a lot of income for many people, I know! But worth every penny for me and for my friend.

We both cried when the first notes of Tchaikovksy’s Serenade in C began, the music for the 1938 Balanchine ballet, Serenade.

I defy anyone to hear those first few notes and remain unmoved, dammit!


The opening moment of Serenade has the entire female corps de ballet bathed in blue light, standing on an angle, their right arms raised at an an angle, flat hands, wrists cocked — as Balanchine saw them initially trying to block sunlight from their eyes, and retained the gesture.

I love this ballet so much and my friend does as well, which made my pleasure even greater.

The first program also included After the Rain (slow, lovely) and Symphony in C, which he loved and I liked.

The interior of the theater…each balcony is called a Ring, so you sit in Rings 1, 2, 3 or 4

The Sept. 30 evening was Pieces of Glass, choreographed brilliantly by Jerome Robbins (West Side Story’s legendary choreographer), to Philip Glass’ distinctive and unmistakable music and two world premieres, much heralded. I love Nicholas Britell’s music for the HBO series Succession, so I had high hopes for the piece he scored…

I have to admit — agreeing with the Times’ scathing review — that the latter two were…not good. At all. Garish costumes, tedious choreography, OK music. The dancing, of course, strong, but in service of not very much.

This is the true cost (if you buy tickets to any live art form) that you might not actually like or enjoy what you see! It’s a risk. But, and yes this sounds elitist and bourgeois (sorry!) how else can you educate your eye but by through seeing a fair bit of whatever it is you want to better know and understand, and then deciding not only what you most enjoy and why, but also what just doesn’t work, sometimes despite lavish production values.

I studied ballet for many years and did ballet criticism and reviews for The Globe and Mail, so I did get to see a lot of ballet in my 20s, free of charge. Now, my eye sharpened after 18 months without it, I am seeing things quite differently (and analytically.)

But one of the many reliable pleasures, for me, of attending ballet at the Koch Theater is also just how beautiful the theater is, all white marble and lacy gold balcony railings and light fixtures that look like massive jewels. It’s 50 years old but still so perfect, not at all dated. It gives you such a sense of elegance and anticipation.

People dress way, way up! Oh my, the gowns and furs and black tie and stiletto heels.

Then the orchestra is there (masked!) and the maestro finally comes out, to our applause. The waiting is part of the ritual pleasure. Then the performance, and the curtain call, then bouquets for the women principal dancers.

It was just wonderful to be back.

A weekend at the TWA hotel at JFK

All photos by Jose R. Lopez

By Caitlin Kelly

Manhattan has so many old-school uptown elegant hotels — from the Pierre and the St. Regis and the Carlyle — to the glossy hip ones downtown.

But Jose made the best possible choice for our anniversary weekend — the TWA Hotel at JFK, which opened in 2019 on the site of the legendary 1961 TWA terminal designed by Eero Saarinen.

I am a hopeless and total #avgeek, and plane spotting is one of my joys, aided by the extremely cool website Flight Radar 24 which tracks aircraft worldwide.

So we sat in bed facing one of the runways and watched planes arriving from London and Paris and Mexico and Jamaica and Lima watched others leave for Beijing and Casablanca and Milan and Madrid and Tokyo and Istanbul and Dubai and Bogota and Seoul.

We also saw a Turkish miltary aircraft take off (destination hidden); I guessed it might have delivered Afghan refugees originating in Kabul but having been processed in Turkey.

Of course I brought my binoculars!

Sigh!

I so so so miss international travel! When each plane took off for my beloved Paris I cried a bit and waved au revoir — my last international flight was on a 747 home to JFK from London in July 2017.

Next year, dammit!

The hotel is gorgeous: white penny tile floors, sleek metal handrails, high ceilings, walls of freshly cleaned glass, everything curved. The signage is beautifully designed, a marble fountain on one floor quiet and lovely, surrounded by fresh green plants.

Two vintage cars, one inside, one at the entrance, show young visitors what a 60s land yacht — aka a Lincoln Cadillac — looked like.

The lobby music is 50s and 60s, fun for older visitors and likely a surprise for younger ones, let alone (!) the black dial phones in the rooms, which work.

THRILL!!! An A380 — the largest commercial passenger plane in the world.

There’s one formal restaurant with thick carpeting (gray, with the TWA logo in the tufting) which makes the room blessedly quiet. The food is very good although expensive — the only alternative is a food court.

There are several indoor bars and tucked one inside a vintage plane.

I loved the hidden lounges, circular spaces tucked inside and easily missed, and quiet places to sit and read alone in silence on crisp red upholstery. Everything is in TWA colors — cherry red and white.

There is a pool and observation desk ($50 for 90 minutes) and a shop selling every possible iteration of TWA stuff — sneakers ($60) red cotton hoodies, playing cards, metal pins. slippers, caps.

I loved the exhibit of TWA flight attendant uniforms, all the way back to 1944. They changed every three or four years, and the most gorgeous — deep plum and chocolate brown — were of course by Valentino.

The only omission, which I found a bit shocking, was no detailed mention (!?) of Saarinen and his design team. That history is essential, too.

The reviews from the NYT when it opened in May 2019 are very mixed indeed, but we really enjoyed it.

Minor complaints to consider:

Only one restaurant and it’s expensive (like $150+ for appetizer/entree/one drink for two people)

A lot of kids and screaming kids in the pool

The music gets a bit much after two days of it 24/7

Valet parking also very costly at $40 day

The fall zhuzh!

The summer bed coverlet

By Caitlin Kelly

It’s that time again, kids!

Our summer was terrible — the 2nd wettest July on record for New York and if it wasn’t raining, it was horribly hot and humid. Really not a good time.

So we are savoring fall, our favorite season — lots of bright sunshine, cooler temperatures, a chance to finally stop using air conditioners and fans.

Because we also live, work, eat, dine and bathe in a one-bedroom apartment, the place gets a LOT of wear and tear! And that’s without kids or pets.

And I have been in the same place since June 1989, so cosmetic upgrades are ongoing.

To get ready for fall and winter, here’s some of what we’re doing, (and maybe some suggestions for your home?)

— getting our throw rugs cleaned and replacing underpadding as needed

— getting the sofa professionally steam-cleaned

— getting the bathroom shower wall grout repaired

Our living room gallery wall, a mix of our photos, photos we have been given or collected

and a few posters.

— framing a few new pieces of art

— changing the summer cotton coverlet for the duvet; (dry cleaned and stored there all summer)

— fresh duvet cover

— a new pillow and pillow protectors

— having a nice fabric cover custom-made for Jose’s (plywood, homemade) desk

— a new desk chair for Jose

— tossing out as many unread books as I can stand to lose

— wrapping our balcony furniture to protect it after it’s too cold to use it

— doing a clean rinse of the dishwasher

— removing as much indoor clutter as possible

— making sure we have plenty of candles (votives, tapers) for the dinner table as it gets dark so early

Also consider some safety issues easily forgotten like:

— dusting light-bulbs and shades, making sure you have enough light to read easily with shorter darker days ahead

— is your fire extinguisher still working?

— smoke detector?

— carbon monoxide detector?

— shower mat?

— bathtub grab bar(s); love this one that doesn’t demand installation in the wall; a friend has one

Also, replacing things that get a lot of use and maybe it’s time for new ones, like:

— burned oven mitts

— worn wooden spoons

— cookware

— bed linens/towels

— wastebaskets

— napkins/tablecloths

— tired/old/flavorless spices

— shower mat

— shower curtain

— kettle or coffeemaker

Things to make life cosier:

— a lovely teapot and selection of teas

— pretty cloth napkins/tablecloth; love these linen ones at $6 each (on sale) in 12 colors

— a throw rug beside your bed

— fresh shams

— a vintage decanter to fill with bourbon or a smoky scotch

— some new bakeware; a muffin pan, bundt pan, tart tins

— a pair of colorful throw pillows for your sofa

I’m really glad we live in such a lovely home, and it’s the subject of much devoted care to cleaning, maintenance and upgrades.

I spent my childhood in boarding school and summer camp (home for school in Grades 6 and 7), and I have no doubt that so many years in shared spaces not of my own design has helped make me a bit obsessive!

I also studied for a few years at the New York School of Interior Design and learned a lot about how to make a place, even a small-ish one, beautiful, functional and welcoming.

I use a lot of different resources:

For fabrics, basics from Ballard Designs, Calico Corners and amazing stuff (often $$$) from Svensk Tenn in Stockholm and Fabrics and Papers in England. One of my favorite fabric sources is in (!) London, England, The Cloth Shop, who happily mailed me yardage I chose online.

I don’t use Etsy or EBay but there are lots of bargains there, and so many online places from Joss & Main to Perigold to FirstDibs to Wayfair, plus all the big stores. Consignment and thrift shops and antique shops and flea markets can offer some amazing bargains — I recently found a huge, pristine white linen tablecloth for $35.

We love Farrow & Ball paint (yes, expensive but we find it worth the price) and I splurge a few times a year on custom-made linens like curtains, tablecloths and throw pillows, all of which add warmth, silence, comfort and color.

It’s our 10th anniversary!

Six weeks into our relationship, Jose — a former White House Press corps member as a
NYT photographer — got us into the Oval Office for a quick peek.

By Caitlin Kelly

It’s been 20 years since I met Jose Rafael Aguilera Lopez — after he spotted my dating profile on (!?) aol.com, placed there because I was writing a magazine story about on-line dating, then still new-ish and declasse.

We hit it off immediately — two hyper-ambitious, driven, mid-career journalists who had come to New York from Santa Fe, NM (him) and Toronto, me.

From our first date at a midtown Manhattan bistro, that was it. His move-in day, from his home in a Brooklyn brownstone to my suburban apartment — 9/11. Yes, really.

So he moved in a week later.

It was…tumultuous at first. Like, for years.

We’re very different sorts of people and it made for quite a shakedown getting used to one another. Jose is a planner and meticulous about details. I’m more spontaneous and risk-taking. He grew up in a small city and I grew up in Canada’s largest one. His father was a Baptist minister with a small parish and my father made newspaper headlines with his provocative films and TV shows.

We were both survivors of brief and unhappy marriages — he in his early 20s, me in my mid-30s. No kids. We had never wanted them and the terrible hours of his staff job in journalism and our distant families would have made even trying difficult and expensive at that late age.

But with time and counseling and patience, we figured it out — and on Sept. 17, 2011 we got married in a small wooden 19th century church in a park on an island in Toronto’s harbor. We arrived by water taxi.

It was a tiny group in a tiny church, maybe 25 of our closest friends, some of whom came from B.C., D.C,. and N.Y.

Why are we laughing so hard at the door to the church? There was a petting zoo nearby

and all I could hear were cows mooing — not the music we chose!

The day was perfect and the service at 5pm, with golden sunlight pouring into the church’s stained glass windows and its wood, sun-warmed all day, smelled deliciously comforting — like all my old camp buildings.


We’re married!

My processional was the song Dona Nobis Pacem — Give Us Peace — the the pre-processional my favorite hymn, Jerusalem. The recessional? Stevie Wonder’s You Are The Sunshine of My Life.

It was a lovely place and time and then we all had dinner in a restaurant’s private upstairs room in the city.

Hard to believe a decade has flown by.

Where the heart lies

Our NY view of the Hudson

By Caitlin Kelly

If you have moved around a lot, it can be hard to decide where your heart truly lies — where “home” is.

I’ve lived in six cities and two towns in five countries — my native Canada, England (ages 2-5), Mexico (age 14), France (ages 25-26), the United States (age 30 on.)

I always felt too American for Canada — too bossy, too direct, too ambitious, too much in a hurry.

Now I feel too European for the U.S. — I savor time off. I don’t flagellate myself hourly for being less “productive” than my many peers and competitors, many half my age. I like long vacations and two-hour lunches. I take naps.

So while home again in Canada for the first time in two full years, the eternal question arises again: where’s home?

While I spent decades in Toronto, and have many many memories there, is it home?

Home, to me, means a place I feel truly welcome, and while we have lifelong friends there, Toronto housing is absurdly overpriced — nasty little houses an arm’s length apart are $1 million and condo boxes $600,000. No thanks!

Then…maybe a house in the Ontario countryside? Same problem. The cost of housing is inflated by demand, beyond what is workable for us.

Then….another province?

Or another country?

Tempted by Montreal’s many charms…

I follow several Facebook pages now on living in France and look at a lot of French real estate online. Because of COVID, I don’t see spending the requisite time and money to search more seriously.

I lived there for a year at 25 and have been back many times. I know a few areas a bit: Paris, Normandy, Brittany, the Camargue, the Cote d’Azur, Corsica. I speak fluent French. I love the way of life and physical beauty and ease of getting around thanks to the TGV network. But if we moved there full-time would any of our North American friends ever come to visit?

Would we easily make new deep friendships?

So…who knows?

My mother died in a nursing home in 2020, her apartment sold a decade earlier to pay its costs.

My father buys and sells houses, forever restless. So there’s no family homestead to attach to emotionally…I left one of his houses at 19 and never again lived with either parent.

So, for now, my heart remains in Tarrytown, a small town north of Manhattan on the Hudson, a town so pretty we are constantly seeing film and TV crews arriving to set up on our main street. I landed there when my first husband found a psych residency nearby and we bought a one-bedroom apartment. I had never been there nor ever lived outside a major city. It’s dull and hard to make friends, but we enjoy a great quality of life with Manhattan only 45 minutes south and gorgeous scenery for walks and bike rides and a lot of history.

With 45 gone for now (but who knows?) life feels so much calmer and less terrifying than it did between 2016 and 2020 when, like many others, thoughts of fleeing were a daily part of our life, however impractical.

Where does your heart lie?

Heading north — after 2 years

By Caitlin Kelly

A banner from NYC Fleet Week a few years ago

I moved to the U.S. permanently 34 years ago.

This two-year absence — COVID-caused — is likely the longest time I’ve not been back to Canada, where I was born (in Vancouver) and raised (in Toronto and Montreal.)

If our COVID tests are negative, we’ll soon drive the 5.5 hours through upstate New York and cross into Canada at the 1,000 Islands, then have lunch in Kingston, Ontario, before going to stay with my father, 93, who we haven’t seen in more than two years and who lives alone in rural Ontario.

And we’re off!

I’m also looking forward to seeing some old friends who live near him.

I miss Canada.

Yes, it’s riddled with COVID — as is everywhere now. We are fully vaccinated and will mask wherever necessary.

But only on August 9 did Canada even open the land border with the U.S. so this is our first opportunity to drive back, which is what we always do. I don’t want to sit in an airplane now with un-vaccinated passengers and crew, let alone face standing in crowds at security and immigration.

Many people (especially some in the U.S.) think Canadians are just quiet, polite Americans. But we’re not.

I miss just sharing a culture and history with others there.

Whether books, magazines, films, music, politics, food — there are many specifically Canadian things and points of view that most Americans wouldn’t know unless they went to university there and got to know it more deeply. Like Canadian content, mandated by the government to boost homegrown talent and protect it from American domination — what percentage played on-air radio has to be Canadian.

I like going into a local bookstore to see what’s new from Canadian authors, certainly since so many of my journalism colleagues there also write books.

Canada has also been through its own special hells this summer, in addition to COVID — the terrible discoveries of children buried at residential schools in several provinces, schools where indigenous children were literally pulled from their parents’ arms and forced to renounce their languages and culture.

Now Canada faces a snap election and the Conservatives are as ugly as ever.

So I will be curious to hear what Canadians have to say about all of this. I follow Canadian media on Twitter so I hear and see a fair bit of coverage.

Some of the pleasure is silly stuff — little things like playing a round of golf at a lakeside course we know and love or lunch at Basil’s, a small deli in Port Hope, or eating a butter tart, not sold in the U.S., mostly sugar and calories and sooooooo good.

We are also just really ready for a break, as our last one was five days upstate in March.

Other people’s lives

Interviewing GP Dr. Margaret Tromp, President of the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada,
in Picton, Ontario, Sept. 2019.

By Caitlin Kelly

Social media can be social — meeting and getting to know new friends and colleagues solely through LinkedIn or Twitter or TikTok or blogs or Insta or Twitter — and/or, passively, it can offer us a peek into other worlds, wholly different from our own.

Given that we’ll have to stay physically distant from so many people for so many years — yes, years with this goddamn pandemic — virtual life and relationships are the safest and best many of us have now.

Travel? Also difficult to impossible; we recently lost $2,000 for non-refundable airfare and hotels after cancelling two much-anticipated vacations.

So, yes, I’m loving images (however enviously!) from Greece and Morocco and Kenya and Cornwall and the Hebrides…

Last week, Abby Lee Hood and I did a pitching workshop aimed at helping other freelance writers write better pitches — a pitch is a sort of a sales document for a story we might want to write. They’re not easy to do well and we got 47 people to sign up, which was fantastic. It went very well and people were still buying copies of our Zoom video days later.

I’ve yet to meet Abby, who is non-binary and has tattoos and owns a small pig, a three-legged cat, an albino hedgehog and a dog. They live in small-town Tennessee, a state I’ve never been to.

They are 27. I am…much older.

What on earth would we have in common?

A lot!

As we’ve gotten to know one another, we found we both share some similar issues with our families of origin. We both have high ambitions for our work. We both hustle hard for assignments. And we also share some fundamental life values.

I’ve found them to be a deeply generous person, rare these days it seems.

So I hope our workshop, beyond its obvious goal, also modeled that sort of inter-generational friendship for a few others.

Some of the many lives I enjoy witnessing, between Twitter and Instagram, include:

Three women archeologists

A male archeologist in Berlin who works on Gobekli Tepe, a famous Neolithic Turkish site; I met him on one of the travel Twitterchats I participate in

A Canadian Arctic marine biologist

A Chilean photographer

A photographer in Queretaro, Mexico

A Canadian mother of two young boys in Australia whose nature photos are amazing

A Scottish mountain climber

A nephrologist in San Antonio, Texas who writes as Doctor T on Twitter

A French illustrator

Several interior designers

Several artists, one a young British woman whose work is spectacular but who posts rarely

A London-based dealer in antique and rare textiles

Several European female commercial airline pilots

A mudlarker in London

A few economists

And (sigh) several Facebook groups about buying a home and living in France, a dream of mine for a long time.

Do you have favorite blogs or social media folk you really enjoy?

Simple pleasures, end-of-summer edition

Ice tea on the balcony

By Caitlin Kelly

Regulars here know this is an ongoing, intermittent series I produce, listing all sorts of small(er) pleasures life offers us, sometimes forgotten or overlooked:

Baking buckles, cobblers and pies with all the fresh berries available.

A very cold, stiff martini — no ice! olives! — consumed, ideally, in one of two places: an elegant hotel bar, like the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis in NYC (if you’ve seen The Devil Wears Prada, a meeting place scene) or dark, hole-in-the-wall (pre-pandemic talking to strangers) dive bar, like the ones I enjoyed years ago in Atlanta and San Francisco.

Swimming in whatever clean, fresh water is available, whether a creek, river, lake, ocean or pool. So delicious on a hot and humid day!

Pool parties! These days, very small ones, outdoors, with fellow vaccinated people.

Corn on the cob.

Huge juicy tomatoes.

Sitting for hours in your wet bathing suit.

Balcony flowers.

Playing cards or dominoes in the shade.

Watching the light (sob!) get lower and longer every day as fall approaches

Fireflies — aka lightning bugs.

Long lazy conversations with friends outdoors, knowing by winter we’ll all be shut inside again, even vaccinated, masked and scared and alone.

Spectacular sunsets.

A jaunty straw sunhat.

Having two vaccinated friends over for a long lunch.