Love Is In the Air

I haven’t abandoned the blog but I am still finding it hard to form complete sentences that others can comprehend. Taking Facebook off my phone has really helped but I think sleeping would improve things. One day! In the meantime, in the spirt of Valentine’s Day here are a few things that have warmed my heart as of late.

Activism in Wilmington, NC: At this time over 70 businesses have closed in solidarity with Latino and Hispanic communities in eastern North Carolina and across the U.S. There is a protest today in Hugh McRae park as an opportunity for individuals to show their own support. I long ago accepted that my views differed from the majority of residents in my state, but this is just the most recent reminder that I may be wrong and that everyone’s voice makes a difference. I’m not going to make it the protest so I’m doing what I can by supporting businesses that closed today. Here is an incomplete list (to be updated) if you are able to do the same.

Samara’s Village:  I recently read an article in Wilma magazine about this local non-profit who provides support in Brunswick County to teen parents. When I first found out I was pregnant I was overwhelmed. There was an incredible amount of information (often conflicting) about what to do to have a healthy pregnancy but little about how to get started with medical care and what decisions I needed to make. My first thoughts were how do teenage or immigrant women do this? How do they find the resources needed? I’ve been searching for an organization to volunteer and help those who decide to be parents (but that doesn’t exclude or judge those who terminate their pregnancies) and I’m hoping this is it. I’m working on my volunteer application today!

PunkyMoms.com: There is an abundance of mom blogs or websites out there but I’ve been on the hunt for one that resonated with me. I wanted something inclusive without being overly idealistic. A parenting version of A Practical Wedding. This is one I came across this week which I really like because it has awesome playlists. That’s just what the doctor ordered. Does anyone have any parenting blog/website recommendations?

Suggestions Needed– In times of turmoil, it’s art that makes sense of things. Art does more than just provide social, cultural and political commentary. It helps us see issues from a new perspective or gives comfort when we feel isolated or distraught by the current climate. It connects us to neighbors that we believed we had nothing in common with. What writers, musicians and/or artists do you look to for solace or guidance in times of political or personal upheaval? It’s time to expand my horizons.

Also, there’s this guy.

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We are incredibly lucky to have friends who visit from all corners of the world- even Canada!

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This is my view when carrying the babe on our walks. Couldn’t be sweeter!

 

Hear Our Voice: Standing Together

Yesterday thousands of women across the world gathered together and stood as one. Some marched for reproductive rights, some marched for equal pay, some for justice, environmental protections, education, LGBT rights, some in solidarity, some to just be heard. These are just a few. Many (most?) also marched against the new administration.

I have to admit that I had mixed feelings about the march. This may be as surprising to you as it was to me. I didn’t vote for Trump. You probably already guessed this. The number of concerns I have about him cannot be listed. I don’t need to because you already know them all. Even if you don’t agree, you’d have to be living under a rock to have not heard what concerns others have. But I am a person that is driven by hope. The anger and fear and negativity that is the obvious response to the election does not fire me up. I do not feel emboldened as so many of my friends do. I feel crushed under the weight of it.

Once I would have felt differently. I would written endless letters to newspapers and congressmen. I would have confronted strangers and annoyed friends. The same person who was once an outraged college freshman, flabbergasted that Bush had won a second term, is now much quieter. Is this the result being tired from pregnancy and a newborn? Is it related to having a partner who is more conservative than me? Or is it the unavoidable stream of negativity that is my Facebook feed, my NPR station, my morning news?

I haven’t been able to find hope in places in the external sources I’m used to. Instead I’ve had to pull away in order to see the good. This didn’t start with Trump’s presidential campaign, but long before. I can’t discuss a lot of national issues I should be familiar with for this reason.

When I first heard about the march, I was hesitant about unifying against the Trump administration. I don’t want to spend my time being against anything and anyone. Even if that’s how I feel, I want to work towards good. I want to build bridges. My extra energy, the energy I have after nursing and caring for a newborn, after my marriage, after myself, after work, after caring for the relationships that are important to me- that’s the energy I wants to spend working towards something.

 

The Women’s March gave me that. In a time where our country feels isolated, women across the globe in 55 different countries, stood up for us from New Zealand to Kenya to South Korea. Even Antartica rallied. In a time where our country is angry at Washington D.C., women flocked there with over 500,000 people in attendance. In a time where our country is not just divided but fractured/shattered/broken, marches were held in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

We need community. We need to remember why we love our friends and neighbors. That we loved them between election years and why. We need to work together to build up those that need it- those that haven’t been served well enough in the past, those that we fear will be mistreated or forgotten in the next four years, those that need us and we need them.

OUR MISSION

The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.

In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.

HEAR OUR VOICE.  -womensmarch.com

Yesterday I rallied with men, women and children in Wilmington, NC. I felt proud, inspired and encouraged to be with them and to hear their voices. It was the reminder I needed that change is attainable and we can all make a difference.

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Exploring Wilmington: Coastal Hikes

Fourth of July has taken a different path since coming to Wilmington. It’s Tyler’s busiest weekend of the year with sold out boat rentals and all the crazies on the water. The beach traffic on a regular weekend makes me hesitant to head towards the ocean so 4th of July weekend is even less appealing. Luckily my dad came into town for the weekend and he has no desire to hang out at the beach. It made our options a little simpler.

Instead of packing our beach chairs and fighting for a space on the sand we got up unreasonably early each day and found some walking trails. It gave both of us an opportunity to explore new territory and get moving before the heat and humidity fully set in. Although with the mornings starting in the 80s, “fully set in” is a phase with little meaning.

Fort Fisher Basin Trail

This is a quick and easy trail, although will little shade and high humidity, I was surprisingly wiped out after this 2 mile out-and-back jaunt. It’s primarily on a well-kept dirt path or boardwalk through marshland parallel to the ocean. It ends at an overlook with views of the Inter Coastal Waterway. We spent quite a few minutes watching the ferry boats and kayakers go by and could hear chatter from a nearby small commercial fishing boat.

This is a great little walk which I think would be especially fun with kids as it was full of bird sightings, little lizards and fiddler crabs. I forgot to take a picture so my thanks to NC Parks for this one.

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Photo credit: NC Parks

We ended up walking through a market at Carolina Beach Lake Park afterwards which was a fun treat (as was the lemon bar we shared) and spending the afternoon buying used furniture for my porch! A very successful day.

There’s still a little work yet to be done…

Brunswick Nature Park

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure about this park. Although Tyler had already visited and had plenty of good things to say about the mountain bike trails, I somehow doubted that the walking trails would be anything to get excited about. Not surprisingly… I was wrong. The park is only a short drive from Wilmington and very easy to navigate. We ended up hiking two out of the three trails with the Dogwood trail being my favorite. You can’t beat the river views! It was much more scenic than I could have anticipated. I’ll gladly keep this in mind for any time I need to get out of the city for a short reprieve.

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Hikers!

Carolina Beach State Park

I was hesitant to drive towards the beach on the 4th of July but at 8 am, it was insanely easy. Having hiked a small portion of this park before it wasn’t the one I was most looking forward to. At the visitor center we grabbed a trail map and I was shocked to find out the park had way more trails than I had remembered with a total of six miles throughout. The park extended farther south than you might guess from a passing glance. We choose a 3 mile loop that would take us up a dune and past three ponds. While there was nothing epic about the dune overlook or the ponds we visited, it was an incredibly pleasant walk. The path was fine, white sand covered in pine needs, soft and springy below. The short oak trees still provided a beautiful overhang, protecting us from the sun. Despite being a popular park, we ran into only a handful of people on the trail. It was quiet and serene.

There were quite a few road cyclists zooming around on the park roads which means I will be looking to come back out with another activity in mind. And in a few months, I’ll be able to stop back by the park’s neighbor Good Hops Brewery! I really can’t imagine anything more perfect than a brewery across from a state park. Great job Carolina Beach folks!

So next time I’m missing the mountains and all the hiking I’d like to be doing up there, at least I’ll know a few options to explore in these parts!

A Love Letter To Wilmington

Last week at a gathering of storytellers at TheatreNow I heard many different stories of Wilmington. There were sad tales of heartache, violence and sickness. There were also tales of triumph, of coming together, of community. Every person’s story was different from one another’s and my own but the distinct traits of our city connected all.

I never wanted to move back to North Carolina. I grew up in Winston-Salem feeling very much an outsider. I wasn’t outgoing, athletic, religious, or conservative. Living in Winston meant feeling trapped and alone. My four years in Asheville were a relief but I knew I wasn’t in the real world- just a tiny hippie bubble in the backwoods. And even on my most nature loving days, I’m not a great hippie either.

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I do hippie dance well though. 

I traveled to Australia, Wyoming and Texas before I found my way back to North Carolina- here for a man of course. My husband could pick any coastal city in continental US and he finds a job in Wilmington. I’d visited here a dozen times and never really known it.

I remembered Airlie Gardens where my sister got married and Wrightsville Beach where we’d vacationed a couple times. Sweet and Savory stood out as a place my parents loved to eat. I knew where to find a few key Dawson’s Creek scenes. What more had I ever needed to know?

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How about that Front Street Books is more community center than used book store? Or that Wilmington struggles with racism, poverty, and a dark, complicated history? I hate passing every Daughters of the Confederacy statue but I love hearing our mayor come out against HB2. All the same, Wilmington does not struggle with generosity. There is more community action and non-profit pride than you would ever expect to see in a sleepy coastal town.

There are times (again, HB2) when I wish we didn’t live here. I wish we lived some place that aligned with my values and beliefs. Some place you could describe as progressive. We could live in Oregon or Washington and have major concerns about “too many damn hipsters” and which overpriced farmers market to go to. But when it comes down to it I don’t want to live in a bubble with a lot of people who agreed with me. How will I keep myself in check, how will I prove what I believe if no one ever questions it? How will I know what I believe if I never have to really live it?

Beyond all of that, this is my North Carolina. Mine and yours. I am invested in this soil because I was born to it and because I know it is the dogwood tree that cradled me and rose me up and it is the blue ridge mountains that made seek out what was beyond them and it is bluegrass music that keeps me dancing. It is waving to strangers on every sidewalk and an understanding that everyone’s favorite room in the house is the porch. It is talking to strangers in line at the grocery store because when we are all together we are a community. And I, for one, am here to stay.

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Dogs and Gardens

One of the disappointing parts of moving when we did, in the early fall, was that we weren’t able to see our garden through to the full season. We left green tomatoes and ripening peppers and a basil bush just waiting for pesto. We invested a lot of time and money into a project we weren’t able to see all the way through. Despite that it was still a good experience and we learned a lot. Mainly we learned there is a learning curve in gardening. A big one.

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Beware squirrels.

This year we’re approaching things a little differently. I refused to consider the possibility of an in-ground garden after the insane amount of weeding I did last year. Also, we thought our old yard had sandy soil but we might as well be at the beach in this house. In the end, after a lot of back and forth, we decided on two 8′ x 4′ garden beds. I was talked down from making them 24″ high like the ones we built at LINC last year for Work on Wilmington. Those were some awesome garden beds. When I actually saw how high 12″ is though, I was on board.

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These are not the exact boxes we built but we did base ours off these. Photo Credit: K.J. Williams 

We lined the boxes with weed cloth and put a layer of leaves in before we piled in our compost/top soil. We bought it all mixed up already from Seaside Mulch. We bought it in bulk instead of bags which saved us a lot of money.

What we should have done differently: Our very next action after building the beds should have been to protect them from their number one enemy- our dog. Clara was delighted to leap through the bed on her way to the fence where she chats with other dogs and also to dig up my seeds and freshly planted baby broccoli plants. So much fun!

After SOMEONE insisted there was no way Clara was going to dig in the garden again after she’d gotten in trouble for it, she did it again many more times. I won, he built me a fence. It’s pretty basic, just plastic mesh zip-tied to rebar poles. We* used sod staples to secure the fence to the ground.

*Please note when I say “we” in the same sentence as “build” or something similar I typically mean Tyler. “We” built garden beds, “we” used sod staples, etc. On the flip side when I say “we” planted or “we” weeded, I just mean me. 

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Fence Day!

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Finally these plants can rest easy. Whew. 

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There’s the culprit now, eyeing her prey…

Now we’re down a few broccoli plants (but how much broccoli can you really eat anyways?) and I’ve planted new spinach and beet seeds, along with tomato, pepper and herb plants. We’re trying not to plant so many different things this year. Trying is very hard for me.

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Whoops. 

Beer Tour of Wilmington: Fermental

I had heard about Fermental since I moved to Wilmington but I rarely venture past the downtown or midtown area here. With Hey Beer and Bombers within a few minutes of my house, I didn’t feel much reason to venture out down Market that far.

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That seems to have most definitely been a mistake. Now that I’ve visited the adorable house-turned-store once I’ll have to go back. Inside the walls are lined with racks of wine and shelves of beer. There is no wall space being underutilized, no room not filled to its capacity. You walk from room to room, each leading into the other, in constant surprise at how many delicious treasures a small room can hold.

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We visited this weekend during Fermental’s third anniversary. It was an incredible celebration with what seemed to be at least twelve rotating taps at any one time. We had the opportunity to try several beers between the three of us.

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Now I’m going to have to go back because between the Catch foodtruck, trying beers and the live music I didn’t have a chance to purchase wine ice cream or hop chocolate. What??

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Beer Tour of Wilmington: Waterline Brewing Company

Y’all, is there anything more exciting than a new brewery opening in town?

If you think there is, feel free to stop reading. You’re probably not going to be that interested in what I have to say.

There’s a new brewery in town! I have been waiting for this day for quite some time. A couple months ago my coworker informed me that her husband was doing some work (he’s a contractor) on a brewery set to open up before the end of the year. I immediately started driving around trying to find it. Okay, not immediately. I waited until work was over.

Walking into the building was a little confusing. We walked into the Art Factory entrance by accident and weaved through aisles of baskets and small handcrafted goods until we found ourselves among a furniture collection. It was there I realized the line between brewery and the Art Factory was very blurred. You might get your beer from the bar and take to a table you’ll consider purchasing. It seems like a great business plan. The more beers sold, the more gifts sold.

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The brewery area is fantastic. Exposed brick walls lead your eye to rough cut pine ceilings and beams. Their colorful, retroWaterline Brewing taps have a fun, upbeat feel anchored at the other end by their sleek, guest tap companions. The bar area is bright and cheerful, offering an atmosphere that lends itself to afternoon drinking rather than a late-night last call destination.

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There’s quite a few tables inside but there’s picnic tables outside for the drinker that prefers sunshine with their beer. With corn hole, kan jam, tables-a-plenty and hopefully more food trucks (loved that 2 Bros Coastal Cuisine!), it’s a pretty good spot to soak in the afternoon sun.

Okay, the most important part. My drinking companions and I were all concerned this would be Ironclad 2.0: beautiful location but lackluster beer. Breathe easy friends. The beer is good. It’s not change your life good, but it is refreshing and tasty. During our time there yesterday, they were offering their Red Ale, Oatmeal Stout, IPA, Pale Ale and Kolsch. The verdict:

The Red Ale is not too hoppy, like “running into an old friend”. (I asked my companion for this description. She may have been a little buzzed.)

Oatmeal Stout was rich without being heavy. It was not sweet and contained a deep roast flavor.

I’d describe the IPA as easy drinking. It was hoppy without being overwhelming and not particularly distinct in hops or notes. Very smooth.

The Pale Ale was also very easy to drink- perhaps a little too easy. It lacked much body or distinction.

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A beautiful, easy to drink IPA

Unfortunately no one at my table tried the Kolsch or the Tripel which was offered later in the day. We were running out of sobriety and needed to call it quits.

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The grand opening was packed and fun for everyone. Live music, food trucks, a beautiful day and cold beer! They could have used a couple extra bartenders but it was their grand opening- would you expect anything less? I look forward to coming back for more!