Restricted access.

My husband and I have been burning up our Empire Pass this summer at New York State Parks. We have been hiking 1-2 parks per weekend, with the goal of hiking the gorge trails we missed when they were closed over the winter.

I don’t think much of this now, beyond making sure I wear comfortable shoes and clothes, that I have enough water and a snack if we will be gone for a few hours.

But there was a time in my life when I weighed 335 pounds. Going up one flight of stairs was a true challenge. Hiking an uphill trail, or a trail with hundreds of stairs, for any distance, would have been impossible. I tried. I have distinct memories of my more in shape friends dragging me along to hike with them. I’m sure they meant well, but I have a handful of memories that are some of the most humiliating experiences of my life.

Of course, I hated being obese. Every time I saw the condition listed on my medical chart, I died a little bit inside. I was ashamed of my size, of my inability to lose weight, my inability to blend into a crowd, and my inability to keep up with “normal” people.

What I didn’t know until I started hiking last year was how much I have been missing. I have literally stood on mountain tops and looked across valleys after challenging hikes that would have been impossible for me when I was carrying the weight of an adult male on my back with me. I have seen views that took my breath away after climbing over 200 stairs. I have literally walked circles up and down ravines on mountain tops. I have clambered up hillsides and stone stairs and steep, packed down trails.

And every time, I try to take a moment to remember: I never could have done this before. I almost always say it out loud. I never could have seen this before.

Buttermilk Falls State Park, Ithaca, NY



My favorite things: Coffee

Today, because it’s the weekend before thanksgiving and just looking up recipes on the internet gave me panic attacks, I decided to post a nice easy post about something I truly love.

This is coffee from a local roaster and coffee shop, Heavenly Cup. I recently got into a great conversation with the daughter of the owners. She explained to me how meticulous her dad is about his roasting. He sends her samples to try out new roasts, and he is just devoted to getting it right.

I have to tell you, his dedication really shows. Every cup I ever had in the coffee shop was so delicious that Mr. Thor and I decided to forgo buying our coffee in the grocery store and start buying the beans exclusively from Heavenly Cup. What a great idea. This is our third pound so far. Coffee used to be just kind of daily medicine just to kick start my brain. I would fill a travel mug every morning and leave most of it in my mug. No more – now coffee is a pleasure that I anticipate. This may seem like hyperbole or flattery, but I assure you that I am dead serious.

I have tried other local and regional roasters in an effort to spend my money locally and support small businesses. I am a coffee snob in my own way, and this is the first place I have purchased coffee that I would describe as perfect.

It makes a heavenly cup, if you will.

(ha, ha, ha)

So, if you’re stumped for gifts or stocking stuffers, or just sick of your coffee, consider Heavenly Cup. They even have a gift page and offer a sampler. Honestly, though – you’ll probably just want a whole bag.

The “October’s Over” blues

Between Halloween Thanksgiving, I usually experience a serious lull. The weather starts to move from “crisp” to “cold.” The leaves are mostly gone from the trees by this point, and the ones that are left are about as inspiring as pieces of torn-up paper bags.

This is pretty much how I feel this week:

October is really, really over.

This year I have been trying to stave off the blues, but – here they are! I don’t want to do much, I don’t want to work out,  my sinuses are throbbing, and I want to eat 3 boxes of Girl Scout cookies and never look back.

I have been taking walks, though, because the weather has been pretty warm and sunny. I know that I’ll regret NOT taking walks once the snow comes, and that’s what motivates me.

Lately, the days have felt like spring. Too warm, too sunny, too blue. It’s been absolutely wonderful.

A sunny, wonderful walk.

I  hate to wish away any chunk of time, but I long for Thanksgiving. All of that cooking and baking puts me in a wonderful mood. And then – well, then, there is a whole glorious month of anticipation and a growing landscape of twinkly lights to pull me through.

She means we’re bouncing into Graceland.

This post is about “Graceland,” by Paul Simon.

I knew many of the songs from this album long before I moved to Nashville. I did, after all, grow up in a home that had records. I am not proud to admit that the first music I ever purchased with my allowance was “Conga” by The Miami Sound Machine. On a record. But anyway. Now that you know I am older than the very core of the earth, let’s get back to Paul Simon.

When I lived in Nashville, there was a certain musician who was rising to fame who attended my church. And I distinctly remember one day, somehow ending up at a table at Joe’s Crab Shack with him sitting immediately to my left. He was cute. Every girl wanted to get noticed by this guy.

I could barely concentrate. I could barely eat. But I heard this:

“Graceland is probably one of the most important albums in my life.”

Or something to that effect. Of course I made a mental note to go buy Graceland and memorize it so that the next time we had a conversation, I would be able to get all mooney-eyed and say, “oh, wow, me too.”

That never happened. Life happened. I got busy, I got distracted, and before I knew it, over three years had flown by and I was packing to move back to New York.

So much has happened since that day at lunch. I kind of forgot to be obsessed with every almost-rock star that I came across. And, somewhere along the way, Graceland, in its entirety, made it into my iTunes library. When I listen to this album (usually all the way through, at least once), I feel home. I remember pain, disappointment, tears, feeling “blown apart” and having nothing to cover me up. But I also remember hugs, being received,  belonging, and taking crazy risks and  being alright.

When I listen to Graceland, I am positive, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I will actually make it.

Well, Mat Kearney, I never got around to it in Nashville, but I’ll tell you now: “oh, wow, me too.”


Mr. Thor is away on business. Well, as business as one can be while at CES. I am sure he will be Mr. Business, since he is in Vegas for 8 days without his better half.

I don’t worry about Mr. Thor. He does his thing, and his thing is being awesome and amazing. That’s good enough for me.

I worry about me. I don’t like the dark. I don’t like being alone at night. I don’t like walking up the stairs with a dark house behind me.

I know, I know. These are the problems of a five-year-old, and no matter how hard I try to not be afraid of the dark, I just… still am. At least a little.

Mr. Thor actually stands in the dining room and leaves the light on until I get halfway up the stairs. Then he turns the light off and follows me up the stairs, so that I know I am safe with him behind me.

I can hear you throwing up from here, you know. He is  really that sweet. Even when I tell him not to wait for me, he does.

That was not supposed to be the point here today. The point, my lovelies, is that tonight, when I walked out to my car at 5:30pm in January? I was greeted by this:

It doesn’t look like much, I’ll grant you that. But to me it is hope. It is the beginning of the light at the end of the tunnel. The beginning of the end of having my headlights on at 5:30pm. The beginning of the end of a completely dark and cold one hour car ride home.

It’s not dark. It’s just… dim.