(almost) funny, Sketches

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday- now with bonus words

March 15, 2017
The colors of Joy

Happy Hump Day y’all. You doing anything special to celebrate?

Some of you are stuck filing TPS reports; or studying for the GRE, LSAT, MCAT or whatever acronymated entrance exam you need to ace to get into grad school; the busiest of you are feeding, shuttling, counseling and cleaning a herd of crazed animals that happen to share your last name.

Then there’s us. Bleary-eyed from an all-nighter spent staring deeply into our laptops, hoping for a meaningful connection with our muse. PJ’s and teeth in need of serious scrubbing. We, we merry band of bloggers, we know how to usher in the mid-week festivities. Might I suggest a soothing after-breakfast nap to go with that morning breath? Go on… you’ve earned it.

But before you nod off, I had an epiphany a few weeks ago that I’m ready to share. Don’t worry, it’s not so exciting that it will make falling asleep any more difficult. And I’ll need a few sentences to setup, so you have plenty of warning before the big reveal.

Continue Reading…

Tales from the Trail

Want to hike like a Ninja? Better check with your Trail Mom first.

March 12, 2017
Miss janet

I’ve seen the movies, so I know all about Ninjas. These solitary creatures move unseen and unheard from destination to destination, accomplishing impossible feats with superhuman agility and stamina. For big moments that require every last ounce of awesomeness, there’s even a blood-curdling battle cry.

Those of you with experience in the outdoors probably already know that Ninja-ing is exactly the same as long-distance hiking. Sure, the metal cups, poop shovels, and Crocs dangling from our 40lb packs tend to make a racket when we stumble over rocks and roots, but if no one is around to hear it, it’s just as good as silence. And we all know that those bi-hourly Snickers breaks aren’t pauses to catch our breath or contemplate the sanity of climbing the mountain in front of us; we’re just giving the mountain a chance to submit to our greatness before we show it who’s boss. Our battle cry (which is sure to elicit a reaction from even the most hard-hearted): “Crap! Where the hell did I leave my toilet paper?”

I understand if you have a few lingering suspicions about your ability to join the elite ranks of Ninja-ing hikers. If it weren’t for the timely advice and encouragement of the Appalachian Trail’s Sensei, I’d probably be right there with you. Continue Reading…


(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Leading Ladies

March 8, 2017
The Incurable Dreamer

Happy International Women’s Day!


Google tells me Leading Ladies are the ones that claim prominent roles in movies or plays. Leading Ladies is also a poorly reviewed Ken Ludwig play about two men who pretend to be women to claim an inheritance from an ailing Amish Aunt. (Pretty sure this is the “A” alliteration string to beat for the week).

Google got it wrong.

Leading Ladies aren’t just actresses or men pretending to be women. They’re women like my wife Monica, and my “sora mea din alt domn” (sister from another mister). These two women are my compass when the best way forward is unclear. Despite leading busy and productive lives, they rarely roll their eyes when I try to add to an already bizarre bucket list. Instead, they play along as much as reason will allow, even when it means supporting an increasingly demanding blogging “hobby.”

Disclaimer: I’m not saying this because I’m hoping to pick our next vacation destination (although a climb up Mt Kilimanjaro would be the perfect way to wind down after walking the Camino de Santiago if anyone’s curious).



Meet Monica. If you’re wondering what I did to deserve a wife this amazing, you wouldn’t be alone.

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Tales from the Trail

What Everybody Ought to Know About Hostel Personalities

March 4, 2017
hostel personalities

Spring is coming.

I’m probably in the minority here, but I’m not ready for winter to leave us yet. One more monster storm that gives me a week’s worth of excuses to stay holed up inside, binge-watching Netflix and not shaving, would be perfect. Ready or not, Spring is on its way. Which means we need to lock in this season’s travel plans.

I think Monica and I have a pretty good system once we’ve picked a location. Whether we’re heading someplace exotic that requires updated vaccination records, or returning to a familiar haunt, we split up the chores. This means booking flights, checking for those can’t-miss activities that require reservations, arranging ground transportation if necessary, and finding the right lodging. Of these, lodging is usually the sticking point.

For several years, one of us had unreasonably strict criteria for what constituted suitable accommodations: room with a locking door, bed, and private shower; nearby restaurants (or better still, room service!); and no uninvited bugs, rodents, or reptiles.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail and staying in dozens (hundreds?) of hostels, relaxed my standards. Aside from the bugs, I don’t really need all those extra bells and whistles anymore. (If it weren’t for my “tree-hugger” tendencies, I’d be waging all-out war to eradicate these nasty nuisances.)


Our next big trip will put my newfound flexibility to the test. We’re going to hike the Camino de Santiago through France and Spain. Together! This means staying in hostels, and churches, and if experience is any indicator, even stranger’s homes. It’s gonna be awesome.

Continue Reading…


(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

February 21, 2017
Bridge over untroubled waters

I’m not an artist.

When new friends show me their baby pics, I have a tendency to respond by showing my latest sketches, often with similar paternal fondness. Bragging about barely fridge-worthy efforts? Guilty.

Artists devote years to honing skills that I do not have. A few of my sketches have turned out well, and I absolutely love those sleepy head-pats that Monica gives me when I wake her in the morning to show off my latest creation. But I get a lot of help from digital filters and editing apps to transform the best I can do into something more eye-catching. Real art? Probably not, but I friggin’ love playing.

I began sketching images for blog posts because I couldn’t find photos that would accurately convey the tone and emphasis I wanted. Digital painting relaxed me when I was too anxious to sleep, or too depressed to do anything. It became my art therapy, without the messy cleanup or expensive paint supplies. Continue Reading…