Findlay Market

On Sunday, I visited Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine, the “shabby” area of Cincinnati. A man rolled sushi, Nicole drooled over raw shark meat and I bought (expensive) chocolate waffles. While I’ve heard photography workshops use this place as a canvas, the folk were a bit camera shy. Here’s just a few memories that I captured:

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I’m so vein.

I’m putting off working on work to to write about my veins. Yes, veins. Those nasty little (and big) things I inherited from my dad. Why, in my mid 20s, do they pop up? Spider veins on my right calf and and bulging ones on the back of my left calf. At the gym the other day, I examined other people’s legs looking healthy on the ellipticals. They are clean and white, and vein-free. Am I really jealous of other people’s visibly, vein-free legs? Oh, well. I’m signed up for some type of injection for my right front calf, and a surgery involving tweezers to remove my (hot!) blue varicose veins on my left calf. The doctor is literally going to pluck out those mysterious boogers. I mean, I haven’t been pregnant (obviously) and haven’t done any excessive lifting, sitting, or standing over the course of my life. So why do I have weird leakage problems this year and not last year? Maybe Karma. I’ve determined it’s pay back from when my dentist told me the other day my wisdom teeth never have to be taken out.

For my first vein consultation, I freaked out when the doctor told me I would experience an “impressive” amount of vein popping/vein display when I become preggers (in the very far future, to make that clear) even after sporting attractive support panty hose. And even after receiving treatments. “It’s a preventative and progressive thing,” she says.

My support stockings.

Did I mention I must wear support socks? This means no more shorts for a very long time, even six weeks after surgery. (That’s when the injections would cause sun stains to the affected area.) So at the gym, I must wear long spandex, putting my poor legs through unnecessary sweat and heat. Shorts, shorts, oh, shorts. I will miss you, my dear polka-dotted Nike running shorts! Sigh. And no way Jose will I wear those

tall knee-high socks out in the open! Thank goodness it’s still legging season. And they cost a whopping $75 through some kind of prescription. Really. Really?

“Do you want white or black?” the desk lady says.

“Neither,” I say, finally going with the white.

“Wait, do you offer them in brown?” I say.


“Remember to wear these all the time except when you go to bed,” she says.

“Lovely,” I say.

Keep in mind, insurance won’t cover any vein operations until you’ve worn support socks for at least 16 weeks. Yes, that long. Supposedly, during this time, my veins could magically shrink. Wouldn’t that be nice?

It all started one morning, about 2 months ago, when I woke up to a panic attack resulting from staring at the blue lines up and down my legs – from thighs to calves. Talk about mapping out my entire nervous system from one road to another. Yuck. Their appearance would come and go throughout the day. Then I experienced leg cramps, and convinced myself I had a blood clot. Hello, Serena Williams! Yes, I had a blood clot. Note to self, Miss Hypochondriac: You do not, and never had a blood clot. Well, maybe after this surgery. OK. So that’s when I scheduled an appointment with the vein center.

The Second Guess Epidemic

Lately, I’ve been second guessing myself more than usual. This comes with my extreme indecisive tendencies. And keep in mind, the normal amount of SG is about three times a day. Here’s my recent SG brouhaha top 5.

1. While I’m 95 percent satisfied with that Joules British rugby sweater in gray I purchased at the World Equine Games last month, did I want navy instead? (Plus, it had the multi-colored buttons the gray doesn’t). I GAVE INTO PEER PRESSURE, or rather the sole opinion of my pal. And do you see that little tag by the second button? Am I supposed to cut it off?

Meet my gray rugby (joules.com)




















2. I bought hunter wellies first in navy, then returned them two weeks later for the chocolate brown. Wait, did I return those once or twice? Maybe three times? The point is, every time I look at those rubber rubies, my brain flashes back to the AWFUL INDECISION I made when I originally ordered the boots in navy … They arrived at my town house in North Carolina a bit waxy. I polled my flatmate and her male companions (wow, way to go me sounding all British.) I don’t think the guys understood why I needed such large amount of rubber up to me knees. Then I called my mom. “ You got navy?” She asked. Then my friend Liz instructed I return the navys ASAP in exchange for reds. Yeah, that’s a big jump from a neutral to a statement color. I’m wearing the chocolate bar as we speak. You heard me, dark chocolate fudge.

Chocolate candy (gardencentreonline.co.uk)

3. Got my L.L. Bean sunwashed canvas shoulder bag monogrammed with “WLH” in red letters. I should of got “NB” monogrammed in navy, but the sales lady seductively persuaded me otherwise. When I asked my boyfriend last week (maybe even last month) as to what letters I should pick, he provided little to no guidance, claiming I would be unhappy with my final decision regardless of the choice. Of course, when I told him I just picked up my bag from getting monogrammed, he said “how does the NB look in navy?” Gosh, honey. Thanks for your timely input. Half my fashion decisions somehow get approval or are even suggested by Jordan, but not this one. “Why didn’t you tell me this before?”

4. I like to ordering food, over and over again. Particularly seafood from an extensive selection of too-good-to-not-order-everything choices. Hello, sensory overload paralysis. Take the lobster incident. Setting, Gritty McDuffs in Freeport, Maine. I wanted the lobster quesadilla, BUT what I really wanted was the lobster mac n’ cheese. So I ordered the lobster bisque. Then Jordan ordered, then I changed my order back to the lobster quesadilla. Then when the waitress scurried away, I said, “I actually wanted the lobster mac n’ cheese.” And of course, Jordan rubbed in the joy of the mac n’ cheese when his order came out. Why do people always order better food than me?

Gritty McDuff's lobster mac n' cheese (spoonandshutter.wordpress.com)

5. I opted to take cute photos at a dog parade (for my photography class, of course!) instead of attending a networking event. I saw a puppy dressed as Blago, a dachshund as a bumble bee, a black dog in a hot pink body suit, and a chihuahua dressed as a pea pod. Darn, there went me meeting my future boss.

Happy face (Whitney Harrod)


The little tin man (Whitney Harrod



Red sparkles in Maine

Here’s some of favorite photos Jordan and I took from this week’s activities around Portland.

My L.L. Bean red sneakers purchased for about $12 (on sale) from llbean.com

Wild daises on Mackworth Island

What a great view of the bay!

Lovely white tree bark on the island

Jordan admiring the coast

On the ferry to Peaks Island

It sure is windy!

Looking too cool for school

We rented bikes on the honor system

Biking the 4-mile loop

Lobster pods

Spiky twig

"Look mom, it's a boat!"

New England prep

Too good-looking not to be poisonous

Taking advantage of low-tide in York, Maine

It’s a rainy day here in Portland, Maine. I didn’t awake until about 30 minutes ago. Maybe it’s this new memory foam bed I’m sleeping on, or maybe it’s due to the lobster pie still settling in my stomach. I’m sitting here watching Martha. I never thought I would regain trust in that clever, refined lady until I realized she’s not only a dog person, but is obsessed with her horses. As the saying goes, if you love animals, you’re more than likely a decent person. Or, I’ll just give her the benefit of the doubt.

Can I move here just to get this plate?

Okay, now let’s talk about Maine – Day 3 of my 10-day summer vacation.

I’m staying on Bramhall Street – kind of in the ghetto, yet kind of in the classy part of Portland. For example, ‘Mr. Muffin and Mrs. Muffin’ restaurant (it’s called something like that, anyway) is smack across the street. Oh, what’s the problem? This is Portland aka lovely, historical coastal town, which should not appear to be located in the ghetto of Harlem. Well, that’s what the facade looks like of the Muffins – an otherwise simple, red brick building that’s been ruined with tacky gangster-looking graffiti. Huh, why? Don’t worry, I will post photo later today. Now about their food? I will never know, since I’m hesitant to go in. Just looking at the front of this place, can be compared to an employer interviewing an individual covered in tattoos head to toe. Do you take the risk and hire this person aka take the risk and eat at this “fine” establishment that claims in graffiti letters to serve Boar’s Head meat flown in from New York?

Sorry, don’t think so. Besides, I want lobster, lobster and more lobster. Not ham.

On to lobster, two days ago when I flew into the Portland jetport (understanding the term jetport implying the tiny size), I immediately smelt seafood. Where was this delightful small coming from? Shipyard Brewing Co. of course! That night, we headed to Linda Bean’s Perfect Lobster cafe for my very first lobster roll. Choosing where to eat your very first lobster roll should not be taken lightly because the first roll sets the tone for all the rolls to follow. The lobster did not disappoint. I ordered a junior-size, about 1/7 of a pound, on whole wheat served with salt and vinegar chips, coleslaw and sweet pickles. We also ordered clam chowder to share. Since I’ve never been a fan of mayonnaise-type dressings, I ordered the special Miracle Whip sauce on the side, which after one try I loved. Fab. U. Lous.

Linda Bean's lobster roll

Yesterday we dinned at Hot Suppa on Congress Street where I ordered the corned beef hash with scrambled eggs and Wisconsin mac n’ cheese. It was hands down one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Then there was that lobster pot pie last night.

The L.L. Bean outlet/factory store in Portland was also a hit for me. Returned and overstock products end up here, which result in customers getting the benefit of some hefty mark-downs. I even was lucky enough to find about five L.L. Bean Signature items – striped shorts, a cargo skirt and a few dresses – that had been returned and now on sale. But since Bean sells a lot of monogrammed items via catalog and regular retail stores, there was a lot of previously-personalized items to be found. This can be quite entertaining if you’re willing to pay 50 percent off the sticker price for a white towel inscribed with “Gisella” or a chrome canteen with “Ryan” on the side. I ended up buying two button-downs – non-monogrammed.

Oh, did I mention everyone and his brother owns dogs here?

Here’s an interesting Q&A with writer Stuart Dybek I did back in January for one of my news writing courses. I stumbled across it in my saved files, and thought I would give it a revisit.

Stuart Dybek loves his hometown so much that he sets his stories in Chicago. Dybek, winner of the O.Henry Award and a MacArthur Fellowship, is a distinguished writer in residence at Northwestern University, where he teaches writing workshops. “No matter how many text messages you send or grocery lists you make, you haven’t used the tools a real writer does,” Dybek says. “It’s deceptive, really.”

Whitney Harrod talks with Dybek about his take on story-telling (excerpts)

You use Chicago as a setting in your stories. Could you give a different city the same justice?

I’m essentially a writer of place, so the likelihood is that wherever I grew up I would have written about. But I grew up in Chicago, so it’s hard for me to hypothetically imagine what I would have written about if I grew up in San Francisco. The answer is no, but I’m not sure how many people could answer that question yes.

Are writers over or out of touch with reality?

It varies widely depending on a writer’s sensibility. There are such a wide variety of subjects and some writers look out and some look inward. Some writers straddle the two. Good work can be done from any of those perspectives.

I’ve heard that some of your stories, including “We Didn’t,” make readers feel uncomfortable, even embarrassed.

I don’t ever have a target to embarrass a reader, but I do frequently hope to arrive somewhere in a story that’s not predictable. Sometimes in order to do that means that you’re going to address a certain kind of subject matter that people aren’t used to, or you’re going to try to do it in a non-formulaic kind of way. That particular kind of story is not very explicit. It’s more the perspective of the story than anything in the language that’s specifically explicit. When you’re getting out of a formulaic kind of thinking, then the story becomes sometimes uncomfortable or allusive. You don’t know what’s coming next.

How long does it take you to finish a story?

It really varies. I always try to write when I’m teaching. I’m working on a fabulist story now that I feel is only fitting given that I’m having my students do the same thing. I took a shot at it two years ago and never finished it – maybe 11,000 words. This one’s taking a long time and is very involved. It’s a different kind of straight forward. A story that leans more on memoir than on invention may be written in half the time.

How do you create imagery and details?

Well, it’s in part of a layering process. Very seldom is it done in one setting. You get the basics down then you sit back down and layer it. Finally it’s a photo coming out of developing solution. It reaches a point and you say that’s it. Then you move on to next part of the story.

It’s way past spring break. And summer break is too far away. Thank goodness there’s Memorial Day weekend where I’ll go back to Kentucky. And then summer break in Portland, Maine (which will have a separate post soon to follow!)

I’m suffering from a continuous sinus headache probably due to all those manicured mini-flower gardens (hydrangeas, tulips, daisies) I walk by on State Street. Or my recent runs along the lake ending in me collapsing on the grassy lawn. Maybe the bugs that crawl into my sweaty pony tail have something to do with allergies. As much as I complain, I can’t complain that winter in Chicago has passed (for now.)

mean flower (courtesy of amazonflowers.us)

The heat lamps at the CTA platforms shut off March 31. At least three weeks went by in which the heat lamps would have been useful in my morning commutes. Oh well. The snow has turned to rain. A lot of rain. Thunderstorms and lightening. Nights when the window can stay open even though the undergrads throw loud roof parties immediately across the street from me. And whops. Being on the 10th floor, I seem to forget to draw the curtains while tip-toeing from the shower to my room. Uh oh. Free show?

Horse farms. KFC. The smell of wood burning fireplaces. Rebecca Ruth’s bourbon balls. Two wired-haired fox terriers (and one that wears a pink Snuggie). My bathtub. Hot tub.

Kentucky bourbon balls to the rescue! (courtesy of myownsweettyhme.blogspot.com)

These are the things involving my spring break officially beginning at 5 p.m., Thursday, March 18, that is after I ride the CTA for 1 hour, 30 minutes, fly Southwest for 45-minutes, and drive back from the Louisville airport to my homestead of Frankfort, Kentucky.

Living in Chicago has made me appreciate – for the first time in my life – warm weather and just how joyful it is. The everyday process of picking up my wool beanie from my shelf, gathering my mittens from a random pile of outerwear, applying sunscreen and lip balm, and zipping up my puffy coat, really gets old after two months. And not to say, ancient, after three or four. When I call my boyfriend in Durham, North Carolina and he tells me he just completed a bike trip in 55 degree weather, I feel more jealous than that time in high school when the prom queen wore the same dress as me. What else get’s old? Here’s a list.

Looking at this hopelessly frozen lakefront. When spring/summer finally comes, I can make luxurious jogs, take sailing lessons, and ooooo and awww over peoples’ cute goldendoodles. But until then, I stare and point my mean finger at grumpy Lake Michigan.

Wearing the wrong shoes when I should have worn my rubber snow boots. At least 10 times this has happened. I don’t appreciate salt stains on my good tall, leather boots and I don’t like moist wool socks.

A snow day wearing appropriate shows - my hunter wellies.

It’s 6 p.m. and dark. Day light savings, oh where oh where are you?

•Chapped/wind-burned thighs and cheeks. Long Johns take up too much time to put on in the morning. I want to wear shorts, skirts and dresses, not five layers of winter wear!

•Humidifiers that force you to clean them with white vinegar (you don’t have) and bleach every week. Sorry, I’ll just sleep with a stuffy nose and sore throat.

•Seeing your own breath.

Today a friend did remind me of one piece of hope: Day light savings takes affect March 14. Then there’s spring break – also known as a heat wave.

A Valentine Note

"You and me sittin' in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, first comes puppy love, then comes puppies and more puppies" (courtesy of aaas.org)

For the second year in a row, I’ll have a Valentine’s Day celebration. We’ll make shrimp scampi – our tradition – and drink North Carolina blueberry wine. I love the idea of saving money, an alternative to dining out. I can still wear my grey dress with pleats. But I’ll need to make sure not to drop shrimp shavings on it.

Then there’s the Valentine Day gifts. I don’t want to over-do or under-do the gift-giving. Since I tend I’m hyper-creative, I bought a basic blank card with a pair of Great Danes on the front. So this year, I’ll just be responsible for writing a note, and not creating the card from scratch paper and ribbon. I find the general Valentine’s Day gifts outrageous. Here’s a few thoughts on making heart day fuzzier:

Instead of roses I’d prefer an indoor fern that lasts long through the winter months. And in honor of Michelle Obama’s fight to end childhood obesity campaign, a new way to spend V-Day may include eating red and pink fruit. Hello, apples and grape fruits! Dear Supermarkets – I’m talkin’ Whole Foods – step it up. Make a pink and red-themed fruit display already.

Seek entertainment The Blue Man Group = a mind trip to take a date to. Last weekend, my parents bought tickets for us to see the show. I was immediately opposed, but ended up going. All I heard was they throw a wasteful amount of toilet paper into the audience and stroke one another’s faces. But I was wrong (even though those things did happen). The Blue Men invited the audience into their world, not the world of any other play I’ll ever see. One of the Blue Man sling-shotted smashed bananas on my mom. When the Blue Men had a “who can fit the most marshmallows in your mouth” contest, I didn’t have answers. But maybe you will.

Watch “19 Kids and Counting” together. Great kids yes, but you’ll learn what happens when you’re really fertile. You don’t drive a mini-van. You drive a tour bus.

Take turns reading the AP Stylebook out loud. Look up “pooh-pooh” and “mips,” and “moneymaker.”

Surf videos on cute puppies. This is as addicting as cherry-chocolate Hershey Kisses.