Seriously: Pack These Five Things

“Skip the fancy travel gadgets,” the New York Times says. “Here are five simple things that will save you stress, money and hassle so you just enjoy your much-deserved getaway.”

And the first thing on the list? A pen. Wow.

I’m a writer and an organizational devotee, so I never go anywhere without a pen.* Like, ever. Since I was a tween, anyway. (Maybe because I was raised by a man who always had one in his breast pocket?) So it’s hard for me to imagine ever leaving the house without one. But … people do. No judgment here.

Sure made me curious about the rest of the list, though. And it’s a good one, so check it out.

For example, you know how I feel about my maps, and the suggestion here is so simple, so elementary, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t thought of it. I often custom-make maps when we travel—but on my laptop. Then I print and fold up into my purse. But I’m of the pre-smartphone generation and some old habits die hard.

Again, it’s a good list. We’ve already made accomodations for everything on it, but it’s a good reminder. Bon voyage!

* To that I would add: take some paper. Even a little 2×3 pad that you can slip in a pocket will do. That paper map I print off has plenty of room for scribbling notes too.

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Home Away from Home: The Farmers Market

In Middletown, Rhode Island.

If we’re friends on Facebook, you know how much I love the local farmers market. I’ve been going there so long—my hair in full Bed Head—that I know these people and look forward to visiting with them. While my husband walks the dog in the little park outside, I work my way around the building collecting hugs and yummy things to eat. The farmers market is my happy place.

And if I find a farmers market when we are traveling, I cannot resist checking it out. I have visited them in more than one Irish town and definitely many American towns.

So you can imagine how delighted I was to stumble upon this article: How to Get the Most Out of Farmers’ Markets While Traveling. You should read the whole thing, but here are some quick tips:

  • Go early.
  • Buy what’s in season.
  • Consume it in the moment.
  • Food trucks? Yes!
  • Buy something to enjoy at home.

And if you can’t find an outdoor market—particularly in the winter—you can always look for upscale grocers to tempt your palate. Got a favorite market? I’d love to hear about it.

The Beauty of History, Large and Small

In poking around in old family photos I found a document with information I had completely forgotten: my father didn’t graduate from high school—he got what these days we call a GED. Jim Clarke grew up in two places simultaneously: St. Louis, Missouri, where he lived with his mother, and Edgefield District, South Carolina. (That’s what it was called then. It’s a town now, the county seat of Edgefield County. Twenty miles from Augusta, Georgia. Clarks/Clarkes go back to the 1600s in this area. His father’s people lived there, and still do.)

Jim was back and forth between the two locations, not always on school vacations, so it’s no surprise he failed to graduate from a St. Louis high school. (Also, he was a bit of a troublemaker in his youth. This should surprise no one who knew him, or who knows me.) Anyway, he has a “State High School Certificate” from South Carolina, signed 10 June 1949 (he was 20), signed (real signature, not a stamp) by Strom Thurmond, who was governor at the time.