Currently living/working: Wandering in the lower 48, but writing! Justin & I joined forces on holiday gift guides for Backpacker … these are always fun, and we didn’t get to do any last year, so it was exciting to get the assignment for “Under $25,” “Backpacker” and “Car Camping” this year. Justin has also still been cranking out gear reviews for various pubs this month (OutdoorLife, GearJunkie and Wide Open Spaces). Meanwhile, I submitted a big one for the March issue of AK Magazine, and started working on another for Adventure.com that will come out in Dec/Jan. I promise to do a byline roundup next month because this was by far our most productive writing year yet. Lastly, we actually had a handful of yurt rentals even into November, which Justin handled all on his own since I was gone.
Current mood: I spent nearly all of November in NJ, where I stayed intensely focused on my mom. It was … hard. I definitely enjoyed being present with my mom; time with loved ones is precious and I don’t take it for granted. However, being in the tri-state area—ooof—it’s dizzying and draining to me. Alaska has ruined me; I can no longer tolerate traffic, hoards of people, excessive access, consumption and waste. To each is own, right?
Currently thankful for: The plus side to NJ (besides pizza, Taylor ham and diners): friends & family. I (we) grew up in NJ. Long-time friends are cherished and marvelous to have at my ready when I come to NJ.
Currently worried about: People keep asking me: how my mom is doing and why did I spend so much time in NJ? I shrug my shoulders and respond that there really is nothing wrong. Well, nothing and everything. She is 77. I can absolutely notice her memory is failing, but not in a dangerous way. She essentially functions fine on a day-to-day basis, still driving (locally, and during the day). She never cooked or cleaned, so I make it my goal to fatten her up and maybe make a few dust bunnies disappear. Is it really time for me to step on her independence? I don’t know. I probably need to establish a boundary of “I Do Not Need To Fix This,” but for whatever reason, I feel like I need to be here at least once a year to assess her living situation and excessively worry about what’s next for her. Am I doing this parent caregiving thing right? Who knows, for there is no handbook. It is not lost on me that she would rather me not follow her around like a puppy dog and chastise her for rolling out her garbage can to the curb like she does every week. Sorry mom! This is the stage of life we are in, and you—sadly—don’t get this choice.
Current confession: This month had so many highs, but so many lows … including 3 deaths within our extended circle! The one that hits particularly hard is our friend Deanna Moore in Sitka, Alaska, who drowned in a boating accident. Deanna is a new friend within the last 3 years. We met her through her husband, Jay Stilwell, and attended their wedding last September. Life seems so unfair in this case; Deanna was only 51 years old, and she and Jay were just starting their life together. Deanna was a light in so many lives and her absence will have a profound impact on the community of Sitka.
Currently regretting: To add insult to injury, I’ve gotten sick TWICE on this trip outside. Not Covid, just minor colds, but hot damn, there are a lot of germs out there. And I seem to have an annoying, lingering cough that wakes me (and Justin) from a dead sleep and makes me gag. Anyway, and after a few years of wearing masks, I guess my immune system was definitely out of practice.
Currently not excited for: Even though I CANNOT wait to get home to Alaska after 6 weeks “outside,” the 5 hours of daylight Healy currently has will be a shock to the system. Winter solstice and gaining daylight can’t come soon enough.
Current guilty pleasure: Indoor plumbing. Also not too excited about showering in a bucket.
Currently excited for: We will be cat-sitting starting Dec. 5 through the spring!! We were supposed to cat-sit for Ted, a 10-year-old female cat while the owners set off on a thru hike over the summer, but their plans changed. Instead, they are going to hike along New Zealand’s Te Araroa this winter/spring, and they asked us again if we could take Ted in. We had a test run, and Ted definitely wasn’t too excited about the change in domicile … but ultimately, she settled in. I am so stoked for my “temporary cat!!”
Currently proud of: My book, Between Each Step, turned 2 on 11/15/22, and I’ve sold 1000+ copies in total!
Currently amazed by: Justin put on his big boy pants and survived a whole month without me. I always knew he was capable despite my joking last month, but he was actually more than capable. He completed all his projects without my nagging and I’m pretty impressed with his time management–he even got up at 8am everyday to go feed bunnies & cats!
I’ve wanted to read Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance since before it was a movie. I found this paperback copy at a bookstore for $1, so I decided it was finally time. It’s a memoir about growing up poor and underprivileged in West Virginia/Ohio, and breaking his family’s cycle of poverty, divorce and addiction. It was eye-opening, although admittedly I was a bit disappointed in the storytelling. Vance is a good writer, but it was pockets of stories versus one long story, and sometimes I couldn’t tell what time period/age the author was. Still worthwhile!
My friend let me borrow a physical copy of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah while I was in NJ, so even though it was wicked long, I dedicated myself to wrapping it up before leaving NJ. Fiction is not my go-to, I’m a big fan of Hannah and love all subject matter about WWII and the Nazi invasion, so this was an interesting read.
Currently watching on Netflix/Hulu/HBO Max/Starz/AMC: Justin was watching all the terrible movies on Hulu, which finally convinced him that canceling it was a good idea. Meanwhile, I was a couch potato TV watcher at my mom’s. We did watch a quick first series on Netflix together with Justin’s mom: 1899. It was dark, mysterious & confusing. I don’t think we’ll watch the next season.