My calendar just reminded me that this time last year I was wandering around Terceira, oblivious to what was about to happen.
I miss traveling. But I am not sure when I’ll feel safe to fly if/when restrictions loosen.
I hit the road on Friday for a couple of days Not At Home. It was pretty nice. Drove to Sharpsburg/Antietam; despite living in Maryland for the vast majority of my life, I’d never visited, not even on a field trip in grade school. Hopped off I-70 in Frederick and took the rural route. Lot of beautiful vistas, occasionally marred by political candidate signs. Just outside of town, but still on park land, there was a police cordon with a bunch of police cars: I caught a glimpse as I drove by, the statue on horseback had been graffiti’d – BLM and YOU LOST were among the things painted on it. When I drove by on my way home Sunday it had been completely draped in black and fenced off. Turns out it is a statue of Robert E. Lee…erected on private land in 2003 but now a part of the park.
The park itself is quite large with several different trails. On a less blazingly hot day, I would have spent more than 3 hours. Anyway, more walking on Saturday, but with more shade on the C&O trail out of Williamsport.
Stayed at a lovely farm/vineyard/B&B, hosted by a charming couple. The farm house, or the original part of it, is rather old and is decorated to match.
Visited Boonesboro on my wanderings around Washington County. I’ve never seen so many NR/JDR books in one place before. Their other selections were eclectic. Main street reminded me of my hometown as a teenager, maybe slightly better preserved.
According to LibraryThing, I read 28 books. I have two others still in progress that I started in 2018 and have stalled on a little, mostly because I haven’t had the patience to settle in to a long read since about Thanksgiving. Several of the 28 books were the Rivers of London graphic novels, which I find to be easy/quick reads, although I don’t love the art particularly. The highest rated books were Ann Leckie’s Ancillary series, which I read all in one go, and two pieces of non-fiction: a biography of the Widow Clicquot and The Prodigal Tongue by Lynne Murphy. The biggest disappointments (other than DNFs that I have stopped recording) were the two In Death books I tried to read: one had victim blaming and slut shaming, while the other had transphobia and showed a complete lack of knowledge/research about civil and criminal securities fraud investigation/prosecution. Stick a fork in me, I am done.
Theater and film: Just film this past year, because I didn’t love what was scheduled for the then-upcoming theater season and so did not renew my subscription.
NWHL – all the Riveters’ home games for the end of the 2017-2018, including playoffs and the Isobel Cup Final; all but one home game for the beginning of the 2018-2019 season (it was Thx weekend), as well as the neutral site game in Pittsburgh.
NHL – an embarrassing number of games, including playoffs. But I didn’t renew my partial season ticket plan to the Capitals; in part because they jacked the prices up in a crazy way, and in part because I’m tired of being harassed and threatened at the games. One of my colleagues swears the harassment should stop now since they’ve won the Cup, but the two individual games I went to early in the season (Toronto, VGK) did not bear that prediction out.
For baseball, there were just three games: NYY, Marlins, and Rays, all in June and July.
Museums and cultural events…the Walters, the Heinz, so much in Rome that I need to write about. Two Frank Turner shows. Sunday in the country, which I went to more to be social than because I knew anything about any of the acts.
Professionally speaking, the beginning of the year was a grind. The middle of the year and into fall were pretty good. And then the end of the year was okay in terms of the substance of work but a nightmare because of the furlough. (So much work is accumulating. It will take a massive effort to dig out. And the longer it goes, the harder it will be to get current again.)
According to LibraryThing, I read 22 books. I probably started another 20 but I don’t count them if I don’t get past 100 pages. The two highest rated books were non-fiction, Eight Flavors and The Woman Who Smashed Codes. The highest rated fiction were The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles and Penric’s Fox by Bujold (novella). The biggest disappointments (other than DNFs) were Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs (I think I’m done with her books entirely) and Prisoner of Limnos by Bujold (part of the Penric series).
Theater and film:
For baseball, I know I went to at least two Orioles games, one vs NYY and one vs DET, but I cannot find the ticket stubs.
Museums and cultural events…the Walters, the Heinz, National Museum of the American Indian, and a bunch in Portugal. Which I need to write about. Two Frank Turner shows.
Next time, permit more time for wine tasting. Two port caves per day is really my limit, but there are so many, and I won’t have time to try them all. 😍
Also: this fascinated me. Up close, it’s a bunch of mangled car parts stuck on the corner of a building for no apparent reason. A few yards away, it is clearly an Art Installation…maybe one with a message I don’t really get. But still, it’s ingenious.
According to LibraryThing, September was my best reading month this year — five books! It feels like an accomplishment, when in my reading heyday I read five books or more a week. Still, it’s an improvement.
I spent the last two weeks in Toronto, visiting museums, walking all over, and watching All the Hockey. Literally, I attended sixteen World Cup of Hockey games in 13 days. Twelve of those games were crammed into six days. Some of them are a blur, but for some really specific plays, like Nathan MacKinnon’s OT goal; Crosby’s highway robbery of Kucherov and backhand goal; a shift by Malkin behind the net in which he seemed to have the puck on a string; McDavid to Eichel to Matthews; etc.
Other observations: The building going on downtown is striking — there’s so much of it and it’s so beautiful. I stayed in the St. Lawrence/Distillery neighborhood and walked pretty much everywhere, as far as Spadina and Little Italy. Lots of green spaces, friendly people. I noticed a lot of smokers everywhere, almost as much as in Paris, which surprised me. And the odor of pot was especially prevalent around ACC.
And my streak continues. Once again in a foreign country (or in any city I’m visiting, even in the US), I was asked for directions. On multiple occasions. I do not understand it. I mean, I was able to answer because they were asking for a specific landmark or street that I knew, but what about my face or posture says, “Hey, she knows where you need to go?” Because, seriously, I have a horrendous sense of direction.
It has been a few years (3 maybe?) since I’ve gone to the tournament at Indian Wells. Skipped because moving, then for Paris, and then because I had hockey tickets for a back to back that weekend. So I missed all of the development that has gone on. And there has been a lot, thank you, Larry Ellison.
First, Stadium 2 with its restaurants – Nobu, a steak/chops place, and an Italian/brick oven pizza place. Each morning over the weekend, there would be a line of people to get in, because the seats are all good and the line up was excellent. [Rafa Nadal and Fernando Verdasco played the Bryan brothers Saturday evening, and you can be sure that people staked out seats WAY earlier that the “no earlier than” start time. Monfils, Mugaruza, a bunch of other good matches played there.]
Second, the Brita water filter stations at the base of both stadiums – best thing ever, far better than the limited water fountains I’ve seen elsewhere.
Third, the sheer volume of vendors is crazy. Last time I was there, there was a big awning with a Corona sponsored bar. Gone is Corona; now Moet et Chandon is in that spot. Of course, there’s a different beer tent, and a RumChata tent, etc. And the food vendors are better than average. Ice cream, iced lattes, deli, seafood, CaliMex, salads, it seemed like you could find anything you wanted. [Except maybe a ladies t-shirt in a size larger than XS or S.]
Actually, IWTG is the only sporting venue I’ve ever been to where the lines out the men’s bathroom are longer than the lines out the ladies’ bathroom door. Uniformly. More often than not, there was no line for the ladies at all. I don’t know if it’s because the tournament designed the buildings with more stalls for the ladies or what, but I was totally impressed.
I saw some random matches, just because. This time around, I went out of my way to see Inigo Cervantes, a Spanish player who was completely schooled by Raonic, just because I loved his name. And Bjorn Fratangelo, who took a set from Djokovic. Plus Venus and Serena and Andy and Rafa. So glad to see Juan Martin del Potro back, even if he looked a little rusty against Berdych.
Also, because I’m a dork, I was thrilled that I got to use a line from one of my favorite TV shows ever: “It’s raining in Indian Wells.” It did! Followed by a dust storm.
Actually, the dust was more noticeable than in the past because the wind was so high the whole time. In fact, it was so cold and windy on Sunday after the first night match that pretty much everyone left…so the scattered fans up in the Loge were invited down courtside to watch Halep’s match, which I appreciated. Driving back that night, I was confused by the haze in the distance that I could see off other drivers’ headlights; it wasn’t until I hit the highway and saw the dust/sand drifting that I realized what it was.
ETA: Anecdotally, the sentiment among fans there regarding Maria Sharapova’s drug ban/violation seemed *much* less forgiving or lenient than what I’ve seen on social media from fans, sponsors, etc. In short, most people seemed really skeptical about extended use of meldonium for a variety of reasons and not particularly sympathetic. Sorry she’ll be out of the game for some period of time, but not like she deserved a pass for failing the drug test.
ETA #2: on the tennis kits. Rafa’s kit looks less turquoise in person than on TV, almost like a baby blue with a hint of grey. The outfit Bouchard had was weird – the colors were fine but it looked like a babydoll nightie…or a maternity shirt. Serena looked amazing. When did Berdych leave H&M for Adidas? (Whenever it was, it was not soon enough.) That fluorescent Adidas shirt the men are wearing was tolerable when paired with brown/khaki shorts but awful when worn with red shorts. The ladies’ version with darker colors that Halep is wearing is not terrible.
Some less tennis-oriented observations:
The Biochemist and The Chemist came to visit over the holidays, which was lovely. I always appreciate the opportunity to cling and be ridiculous. While we were plotting out what we wanted to do on different days, we wound up arranging things entirely by which restaurants we wanted to try to revisit (important info: Petit Louis is *always* on the itinerary). Which, uh, we don’t really do that, do we?
Except I was planning a weekend roadtrip for March and realized that I was doing exactly the same thing. This event is at this hour in this location, which restaurants are nearby that my colleague from that town recommended.
So apparently *I* do that. And I’m all about the food when traveling.
Unrelated, I had begun to tentatively plan a trip to Istanbul for this year. A friend went last year and came back with wonderful tales and then handed me his guidebook. Well, twist my arm. It was on my bucket list, after all. I’d read a bunch of security/travel blogs and checked out the State Dept warnings site but was feeling generally okay about visiting. Today’s news of a suicide bomber in one of Istanbul’s tourist areas is making me hesitate. It feels wimpy to say that but…I’m not sure what to do right now. Maybe sleep on it and do more research.