Scaling to new heights

Bodie Island

It didn’t look that high.

I have vague memories of Bodie Island Light Station from a visit decades ago — murky memories of the black-and-white structure visible in the distance when we’d cruise to the drive-in beach down the road. Little brother to the nearby iconic Cape Hatteras, the tallest brick lighthouse in North America, Bodie Island is near the beach house my family has rented since I was a kid . . . but like all things nearby, it fell off my radar. There was always something else to see or do.

Since Spencer made his first trip to the Outer Banks with us last year, I’ve been refreshing my views of the coastal towns I’ve come to love so much — and Bodie Island made our list of local spots to check out this year. We made it there on Tuesday just as black storm clouds crested the horizon. The rain came in not long after I took the shot above, but we’d secured our tickets to climb the lighthouse already — and we were going for it.

That’s what I told myself, anyway.

IMG_9051Have I ever mentioned I’m scared of heights? I mean, that’s not weird or anything, I know; plenty of folks are freaked out by heights. Despite my all-out panic-induced tremors, though, I never let the terror keep me grounded. I’ve been to the top of the Sears Tower, ridden the London Eye, walked across a glass floor at the top of the CN Tower in Toronto. These things scared me, but it was a good scary. It was an “I’m not going to let this defeat me” kind of scared: the sort that leaves you exhilarated after you’ve crushed something that intimidated you.

By the time our tour group made for the entrance of the lighthouse, my palms and feet were sweating. A sudden downpour left me soaking wet and squeaky. Our park ranger explained a bit about Bodie Island and the lighthouse’s original construction in 1872, detailing the grueling hours and tasks performed by the tower’s keepers for more than a century — long before electricity first illuminated Bodie Island in 1932. I was really interested in the lighthouse’s history and Sarahanne was really knowledgeable and everything was cool and blah blah blah, but we quickly started climbing the stairs and man that thing was high and I was getting freaked and briefly thought I’d have to embarrass myself by turning back.

But I didn’t.


The stairs were grated and see-through; the higher we rose from my dear friend Solid Ground, the more anxious I became. The humidity inside the lighthouse was tremendous, twisting my already-damp hair into a mess of frizzy curls I had to keep out of my eyes. I struggled to keep my toes inside my sandals, putting one foot in front of the other, and I began to mumble to myself in the nervous way everyone must just before suffering a psychotic break.

Poor Spencer. My mom climbed ahead of me, reaching higher and higher, as my fiance tried to reassure my trembling form from a few steps behind. I focused solely on walking up step by step. I didn’t look up; I sure as heck didn’t look down. All I could do was focus on each individual stair until I’d scaled the 200-plus steps, all leading to a hatch at the top.

I climbed through.


The rain had slowed to a fine mist, but the combination of slick steps, wind and knowledge that we were really high up was enough to keep me glued to the wall. I dug around for my camera to snap a few gray pictures before spinning around to begin our descent. The walk back was worse than the walk up . . . mostly because as we continued down, I could totally see the ground. And it was really, really far below me.

But I made it, obviously. I’m typing and drinking a Diet Coke right now. And as my mom raised her eyebrows at my sweaty freak-out, proclaiming that she had “no idea” I was afraid of heights, I felt irrationally proud. I am afraid, but I do it anyway. “Feel the fear and go for it,” as they say.

Oh, I felt it.

And I am better for it.


Cupcake liner organization — a Pinterest challenge

Oh, Pinterest. That epic timesuck furthering a misconception I’m craftier and artsier than I really am. I can’t log in without wanting to bake, create or wear everything in sight, and I’ve found some fabulous decorating ideas and saved tons of cupcake recipes for future use. As if I’ll ever run out of those.

And speaking of my cupcake obsession, I’ve amassed quite a few decorative cupcake liners over the years. So many that they’re literally spilling out of my kitchen cabinet, their colorful wrappers winding up on the floor. I’ve been thinking about ways to get organized and keep them clean and accessible, and that’s when I saw this:


The lovely Trish issued a challenge for all the Pinterest addicts out there: actually do some of the things you pin in the month of May. Never one to shy away from adventure, I joined up — and completing my cupcake organization was my first task.

After a few weeks of searching for a comparable glass container, I eventually found one I liked from HomeGoods. Though not as lovely or large as this baby at Such Pretty Things, I’m really happy with how it turned out! And by “turned out,” I mean how it looked when I stacked all my cupcake liners inside. It took less than five minutes.

Here’s mine:

Pretty enough to leave out year-round!

For $4, I have a way to store my cupcake liners and, best of all, actually keep track of everything I own. Do you know how many packages of Christmas cupcake cases I have? (Answer: at least four. That I can find.) Though I might eventually invest in either a second or larger jar (this is already full, as you can see!), I’m hoping my organized storage system will encourage me to use up what I already have. And that will save me money. Win-win!


Many thanks to Trish for much-needed nudge to get crafty! Join the fun this May by completing a few Pinterest-inspired projects, recipes, etc. For more information, visit Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity.

Two Girls Read Shakespeare: The Launch!

Two Girls Read Shakespeare: or
In Which We Correct The Miseducation of Megan & Nicole

It was a cold, wintry night when Megan (of write meg!) joined Nicole (of Linus’s Blanket) on her weekly feature “That’s How I Blog!” — a chronicle of the reading and blogging habits of those in the book blog community. It didn’t take long for the ladies to discuss classic literature, and what “classic” conversation can be brought up without the mention of William Shakespeare?

Reading Shakespeare as an adult is an entirely different experience than reading his works as an awkward, bored teenager. Megan’s previous experience with the Bard was limited to reading “Romeo & Juliet” in high school, acting in a few school plays and briefly memorizing a sonnet or two for theatrical auditions. College was much of the same — random experiences with Shakespeare as she studied English. One semester-long course introduced her to some of the history plays and she dug them, but the language always proved overwhelming. And, truth be told, I probably spent more time comparing one of my classmates to a dinosaur (no, really — he had a flat head!) than paying attention to the immortal words of love poured forth by our man William.

Nicole’s experience with Shakespeare is equally limited, actually, probably even more limited that Megan’s. Only for only a few short months as a freshman in high school did Nicole ponder “to be or not be with” Hamlet — Nicole chose to be. That’s pretty much all she remembers except some brief hand wringing by Ophelia before she is found floating down the river, and maybe some hand washing- but on further reflection that may have been in “Macbeth,” the evil machinations of that dude who was trying to separate Othello and his woman, and Iago and his trials with “The Merchant of Venice.” Any real understanding was limited by the lack of interest in dusty old texts where the English was unwieldy and extremely dated. Nicole then went on to college and, also as a freshman, with some small effort managed to avoid any mention the bard until Claire Danes and Leo DiCaprio did “Romeo and Juliet” and the student housing cable played it ad nauseum, ad infinitum and other Latin-esquey words with which Nicole is unfamiliar. She finished her stint in school sans reading any of Billy’s work and never looked back.

Which, dear readers, brings Megan and Nicole to the present moment, when post-“That’s How I Blog!” Nicole said to Megan, “Hey girl! Do you want to read some Shakespeare and talk about it on our blogs?” And Megan said, “Sure! What should we call it?” And they thought long and hard before e-mailing each other simultaneously, “How about ‘Two Girls Read Shakespeare’?”

And that’s exactly what’s happening!

Over the next few months, we’ll be spending time with the Bard’s sonnets and plays before picking up some of the modern “spin-offs” and sequels. And when better to discuss Shakepeare’s sonnets — considered by some to be insanely romantic (or just insane?) — than on Valentine’s Day?

On Sunday, Feb. 14, Nicole and Megan will post their discussion of Sonnet 18 (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”) and Sonnet 130 (“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun…”). We hope you’ll join us and share your thoughts, comments and criticisms! All are welcome to contribute, regardless of whether you’re a lifelong Shakespeare fan or a total novice. We’ll chat about more sonnets each Friday in February before moving on to a larger work — to be announced very soon.

So brush up on Billy’s poetry by checking out The Sonnets,
all available for free right here:

And check back to spend Valentine’s Day (and the spring!)
with Megan, Nicole and the Bard!

P.S. And because we both love John Mayer we will each try to bring everything back to one of his songs… you know… for extra credit, if we can.

Musing Mondays: Reading re-cap

musing_mondays Here’s this week’s question:

Coming towards the end of April, we’re a third of the way through the way through the year. What’s the favourite book you’ve read so far in 2009? What about your least favourite?

Wow! So far this year, I’ve read 26 books. In order to successfully complete my personal goal of 105 books read for the 100+ Reading Challenge, I need to have 36 books read by the end of this month to stay on target. Considering that would mean reading 10 books over the next two weeks, I’m going to say . . . I’ll need to play catch-up over the summer!

maladies1Though it’s a hard call, my favorite book read so far in ’09 has to be Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies [review here]. I’m absolutely in love with her writing. It’s so magical, lyrical and gorgeous, and I walk away from each of her books feeling changed. The Namesake, her first novel, gets the award for “favorite book ever, ever.” I have Unaccustomed Earth waiting patiently to be read . . . and I’m saving it, maybe for the plane ride to London.

My runner-up for best book read so far? Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief [review here], followed closely by Katherine Center’s Everyone Is Beautiful [review here]. All very different — all very awesome!

My least favorite book read thus far isn’t quite so hard to choose: definitely Laurie Gwen Shapiro’s The Anglophile [review here]. I went into it with such high hopes and was desperately disappointed by the flimsy characterization and pretty much hated the main character. I feel bad — I don’t want to bash the book. Honestly. But it was . . . awful.

Runner-up for book I really just wanted to quit reading but couldn’t? Beverly Jenkins’s Bring On the Blessings [review here]. Moments of okay-ness, but mostly just bor-ing. It was a review copy, so I tried to be as constructive and complimentary as possible . . . while still realizing I couldn’t praise the book without outlining my major problems with it. I guess that’s the making of a good book review right there!