I had promised to share photos from each place I visited on my trip to Europe earlier this summer. It’s taken me a while to get to the next set of photos, as the past few months have been busy, hot, and full of vegetables! (Photos on that soon, I hope.)
In the meantime, here are snapshots from a day in early June in Taormina, the cute hilltop town on the east coast of Sicily.
Exactly one year ago, I moved out of my tiny house on wheels and into a bigger (but still small) house. I call it the little chalet, since it looks like a mini version of a ski chalet or winter cabin. I wrote a bit about it last July, but otherwise, I’ve been generally quiet — or I suppose not as explicit — about what’s going on in my day-to-day life.
I used to write pretty openly here, years ago. But things have changed. For a good while, I blamed it on writer’s block. But I’ve thought about this a lot over the past year, and because I work at WordPress.com as an editor and community moderator — a representative of the company among our bloggers and readers — I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable blogging about me, about my life. And when I do, I have to run a filter over it. Curation, after all these years, is still key.
In some ways, then, it feels weird for me to share photos below of my home — my most private space where I live out my life when I’m not at my laptop, typing here. But I’m open to posting new things and seeing how this blog evolves next, and am curious if I can rediscover the joy of blogging, which I felt when I started this site ten years ago. When I could simply post about anything. When my blog was me — all of me, even the parts that were unpolished, that I couldn’t compartmentalize. Now looking at the tidy categories in my menu (under “Blog”), I realize how silly it is that these labels I’ve created over the years have killed my passion and spontaneity. I’ve become a dusty, old cabinet of drawers.
This past year, I’ve practiced yoga a whole lot more, I joined a taiko drumming group, and I started gardening. I’ve quickly grown to love these three things, and I noticed that all three help me to be more present in the moment, to just be. I would love to experience this again in the context of blogging or even writing privately: when thought passes from mind to paper, and there is nothing in between.
Instead, when it comes to this blog, I feel like a clogged pipe.
In the meantime, here are photos of my home and garden, where I love to be as much as possible, and where — for the first time in my life — I’ve truly planted roots. Right now, my favorite thing to do is tending the vegetable beds very early in the morning, before I go to the gym, and before I start to work. It makes me happy and has introduced a whole new layer of wonder and curiosity for the land I’m fortunate to live on, so I thought to share a bit of that joy here. Maybe that’s what this blog needs.
I never thought I’d visit Crete in my lifetime, and wasn’t sure what to expect, but Chania turned out to be my favorite port we visited. I certainly felt and saw the mix of influences here in Crete’s second largest city, from its old Venetian and Turkish buildings, and doors and shutters and narrow alleyways that reminded me of both Florence and Valletta. We visited on a day where most shops and restaurants were closed because of a strike, while people were also in mourning over the passing of a former Greek prime minister.
As we wandered, I kept thinking about my AP art history studies in high school — our unit on the Minoans in particular. It was so long ago, but that class remains the most challenging, stimulating, and enjoyable academic experience of my life, and I was delighted that this trip to Europe as a whole reminded me of that year. It’s obvious to say, but I love when parts of my life come full circle while traveling: when I realize how much time has passed, how much I’ve grown and changed, but also how much I’ve forgotten.
Just a quick note to say I’m thrilled to see sketch artist Candace Rose Rardon’s illustrated essay, “Home Is a Cup of Tea,” up on Longreads this morning. At Automattic, I don’t just work at WordPress.com — I also edit stories at Longreads and work with awesome writers. It’s been especially fun to collaborate with people I respect and admire, like Vela founder Sarah Menkedick, who I interviewed a few years ago; and fellow writers from my MFA program, like Richard Gilbert, whose essays (“Why I Hate My Dog” and “Boom Boom Song”) I worked on over the past year.
I’ve never met Candace in person, though my husband Nick did when they crossed paths at the Book Passage travel conference last year. But I’ve followed her fantastic work for a number of years, early on mainly through the lens of travel writing, and in more recent years through her sketches and growing Moment Catchers community, which I follow on Instagram. As some of you know, I find most writing on travel and place incredibly banal, but I’ve always enjoyed Candace’s blend of illustration and writing.
I’m happy to have had the opportunity to work with Candace and edit an illustrated piece for the first time, which was fun. And because of its focus on finding home, I also found myself a bit more emotionally tied to the story, as it reminded me a lot of my own musings on home and love five years ago, before Nick came to the US.
Here’s the essay, which is a lovely, breezy read, especially for those of you on a long holiday weekend!
We arrived in Santorini the morning after sailing from Athens.
Santorini had never been on my travel bucket list. Not that I didn’t want to go there — I’ll go anywhere, really — but with so many places in the world to visit, Greece in general had never been high on my list. Another cruise itinerary we’d considered started in Venice, sailed to Croatia and Malta, and toured more of Italy before ending in Rome. But ultimately, beginning in Athens and making our way west was a better sightseeing option for my parents.
We walked around Oia, the Cyclades village built on the slope of a caldera, with bright-white cave houses carved into the hillside. While stunning, Oia felt quite unreal. It was almost too picturesque, too postcard-ready — a set for Asian brides to take photographs (I saw a few photoshoots that afternoon). It didn’t feel lived-in, as perhaps Santorini’s capital (Fira) did, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as how can a pretty cliffside village with the best sunsets in the world be a bad thing?
That said, Santorini is lovely — I’d never been to a place quite like it.
Photos taken with an iPhone 7 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100. A few iPhone pics originally posted on Instagram — follow me @cherilucasrowlands.
I’m remembering the time when my husband and I first talked about living in a tiny house at the end of 2013. It was a baby step that would move us toward achieving longer-term, would-they-ever-happen goals — like living on a plot of land in the country, for instance. At the time, we were living in an industrial-style condo near downtown San Francisco, newly married and both working for companies headquartered right there in the city. Sounds comfy and convenient for two young professionals: why would there be a reason to leave?Continue reading “Goals”
I just returned from a three-week vacation, which began in Greece and ended in England.
Along the way, we stopped in Italy, France, and Spain — countries to which Nick and I have been, but we stopped in many towns and islands that were new to me: Taormina in Sicily, Oia and Fira in Santorini, and Positano on the Amalfi Coast among them. These were all new places for my parents (our companions for the entire journey!), so it was nice to introduce them to bits of Europe.
We spent the first part of the trip on an Azamara cruise that sailed across the Mediterranean. I’m not a cruiser, though I’ve been on two in the past, and while I can see why a certain cross-section of people love it, this kind of traveling isn’t really for me. But when we brainstormed the easiest ways logistically for my parents to sample a number of different spots in this part of Europe, a cruise seemed like a good option — versus stringing together different city itineraries connected by short flights. This way, the daily planning and touring was mostly out of my hands.
All that said, I’d thought the cruise would be relaxing, and I was completely wrong. Unless you’re sailing at sea all the time, or choose not to disembark the ship and explore offshore, your routine on a cruise is very go-go-go — a new country or city each day, and a different excursion or on-foot itinerary that starts early in the morning. So, we were pretty exhausted each evening.
In all, it was a very active 21 days . . . we saw and did a lot, and I’ll slowly sift through my photos and share some highlights here. To start, here are a few snapshots from our first few days. I’d never been to Greece, and our brief time exploring the Plaka area of Athens was a nice introduction to the city — and our trip.
All photos taken with an iPhone 7 — a few posted originally on Instagram. Follow me @cherilucasrowlands.
I can’t believe it’s nearly May and I’ve not posted anything here all year. To break the silence, here’s a little gallery of photographs from a recent trip to Music City.
It was my first visit and I wasn’t sure what to expect of Nashville, but I really liked it, especially the neighborhood we stayed in (Hillsboro Village) and the area where we spent most of our time (12 South). We caught glimpses of other areas — Germantown, East Nashville, and downtown — and I see myself returning to eat my way through the city and check out more places to listen to music.