Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Hair Au Naturel

Month by month, my hairdresser is cutting the blond from my hair. I’ve wondered for a long time what would be left, and yesterday I saw my natural colors emerge. I’m now sporting a mix ranging from dark brown to light gray.

Perhaps this change is appropriate and well timed, as I’m having a significant birthday in a few weeks. After all, when one’s child, age 44, has gray hair and Mom does not, something is askew.

A practical decision triggered the change last March before I left to hike the Appalachian Trail. Knowing it would be months until I had a haircut, I opted for a short do a la Jamie Lee Curtis. Instructions for creating her haircut can be found on the internet.

In addition to the cut, I chose to have my hair highlighted in order to minimize the glaring contrast of roots vs. ends. Why some women think exposed roots are fashionable escapes me.

My hair was easy to manage on the AT, even as it grew out. I woke up, ran a brush through it, and moved on, having no idea of the result. In the woods there are no mirrors, and the one I’d brought with me was sent home during a pack shakedown shortly after I hit the trail. I did not shower, shampoo, or see my own reflection for days at a time—a fact of life for a long-distance hiker.

It’s freeing to go without mirrors. I was happy to do so, as my hair wasn’t the only wild thing. I wore no makeup. My nails were a disaster, jagged and ringed with dirt. I could be picked out from a distance by my outfit, which I wore every day and laundered about once a week.

By the time I’d made it to Hot Springs, North Carolina, I was in full-fledged hiker mode. In particular, I’d embraced my natural self. I vowed never to color my hair again.

When I returned home after three and one-half months, I high-tailed it to the nail parlor but left off the makeup. I got my hair trimmed, but not as short as Jamie Lee’s. A good deal of the blond color had remained. Until yesterday.

Will I keep my vow? It’s been only a day, but I’m thinking I will.

If I was good at selfies, I’d show you my new look. Oh, what the heck…

Monday, February 16, 2015

Appalachian Trail, Here We Come!

Yes, we.

This month I gained an experienced hiking partner for my upcoming 2015 adventure on the Appalachian Trail—the trip I thought I would be taking by myself. Well, just me and the bears, to frame it ungrammatically.

My partner goes by the trail name Peevy McG. I’m Early Bird. Peevy is someone I have known for years. We’ve worked together and live only 15 miles apart! We’ve even hiked together in recent months, though I didn’t dream she was dreaming of hiking the AT.

Our decision to tackle the trail together was a joyous turning point for me. For two years I had wrestled with my own desire to do a thru-hike. The idea of walking in the woods through 14 states for 6 months was both compelling and terrifying. As I thought it through, I wished for a hiking partner many times but knew that I would likely enter that 2,189.2-mile “footpath” alone.

My friend Peevy brings so much to the party. She has camped and hiked at home and abroad. She has the gear and knows firsthand what Mother Nature can bestow on us—from gorgeous sunsets to thunderstorms--when we choose to live in the wilderness. And then there is the fun factor. I like to be cautious with my announcements, but our plans are coming together. We leave for Atlanta in a few weeks.

I will be keeping a journal on the trail but most likely won’t be blogging during that time, as my writing process will be on the primitive side with no computer on board. I’ll post to Facebook occasionally using my cell phone.

Just wanted you to know. : )

Saturday, January 24, 2015


It’s a sunny Saturday morning in this Cincinnati suburb, and I have nothing on the calendar. This kind of day always takes me back to the summer of 1997 when I moved into my home.

I had been living with a man in a house we bought together. It was on the opposite side of town in a rundown area. Why? A thousand reasons, all of them bad. He and I were mismatched, and once that fact was acted out enough times to become indisputable, I began looking at condos. I moved to this place in June, so happy.

I hadn’t liked it at first. I’d seen it during an open house when it was empty of furniture except for the lawn chair where the realtor was sitting. It had a tired look for sure, but after seeing the other choices I knew this should be my home.

When I moved in, the place had been a rental unit. The predominant interior color was gray and the d├ęcor seventies “modern,” if there is such a thing. I was on a budget, half scared I wouldn’t be able to pay the mortgage, but every week I bought myself flowers at the grocery store. I put the vase of bright blossoms on the coffee table for color.

On Saturdays like this one I marveled at my new place, going up and down the stairs cleaning, fussing with this or that, putting things away, and thinking about furniture. Well, furniture placement; I wouldn’t be redecorating for years.

Slowly I began to make changes, but that isn’t the point. The point is the way the sun was shining on those magical Saturdays when I could do what I wanted. Sometimes I stayed home and puttered, perfectly content. Sometimes I ran errands and bought something small for the house. 

Seventeen years—nearly 18—have passed, and I still love my home. I still go up and down the stairs in the mornings getting coffee or doing laundry or just looking around, glad to be here. The only thing I would do if I could is to copy and paste, putting the clone next to a certain beach in the warm South. The sun has been out, but it’s darn cold here.