• Amazing People,  Tough Questions

    I’m Certain Laverne Defazio Never Had to Wonder Like I Do.

    Last week we were in Milwaukee, visiting our younger son. Always on the hunt for fun activities to do with the boys when we are together, I was thrilled to find a place that offered mini bowling. Jim and Jason were up for it so we headed out. Mini bowling is played the same way as traditional bowling, but the pins are smaller and the lanes are more narrow and much shorter. The balls have no finger holes, are similar in size to small coconuts, and come in one weight (about three and a half pounds). Because of the type of balls used, it feels a lot like Skeeball when…

  • Travels

    Using the Roadside America App With Intention

    I learned about the Roadside America app from my friend Vikki almost exactly a year ago. I’ve used it sporadically; sometimes I forget that I have it and don’t think to look up roadside attractions near me until it’s too late and I’m already at my destination. Also, I can’t really use it when I’m on a solo road trip because I usually think about it when I’m driving and unable to use my phone like that, rather than when I’m stopped at a gas station. This week, however, I used the app differently. I accompanied Jim on a work trip to Cleveland and not wanting to languish in the…

  • Travels

    Local Appreciation Society

    “The grass is always greener,” they say. I don’t know who “they” are, but “they” have truly made up dozens of extended quotes that start with that featured statement. Most of us know that the grass isn’t actually greener: it just looks that way depending on our situation and that of the person whose yard we’re coveting. Many of us know that if we took care of and appreciated our own grass, it would be just as green. Actually, that’s where I’ll be heading here. I have a fascination with palm trees. It’s so intense that anytime I’m in an area of the country where they grow, it becomes a…

  • Travels

    Meet More People: Travel Alone.

    Last night I returned home from a trip to California. I flew out there with Jim, who was participating in a four-day bike camp. He thought I might want to come along and do my own thing during the day while he was riding 30-50 miles each day around the San Diego area with his group, and naturally I jumped at the chance. Although technically this was not a solo trip for me because we ate dinners together and shared the hotel room, I spent most of each day alone, which is always amazingly fun (no offense to Jim or any of my other occasional travel companions!). I love not…

  • Food,  How To,  Something That Could Change Your Life,  Travels

    How to Remove Coconut Meat Without Losing Your Mind

    One of the highlights of our visit to Maui last November was a tropical plantation tour. We learned about so many of the delicious fruits and flowers grown on the island; seeing pineapples, mangoes, avocados, bananas, and many others in their natural habitat was fascinating and we enjoyed the afternoon tremendously. One mind-blowing moment came when our tour guide pulled the tram over so she could demonstrate how to break down a coconut. By the way, I absolutely love coconut but I do not love all of the steps involved in breaking them down. I can gleefully poke a skewer into the eyes and pour out the water, and vigorously…

  • Best Thing Ever,  Childhood Memories,  Friends,  Music,  Travels

    My Name Is Melisa and I’m a Born Again Fanilow.

    When I was a kid in the 70’s, Barry Manilow was totally my jam. He was the first artist I truly loved; I collected his record albums (real vinyl ones, kids!) and played them so much I’m surprised the needle didn’t wear the grooves down. Is that even possible? Never mind. I was a Child Fanilow. Exhibit A: When I was 7 or 8 I was taking ballet classes every week. One week, my ballet teacher announced that we had an upcoming Parents’ Night and we were each tasked with picking a song–any song of our choosing!–and choreographing a routine for that special evening. I chose Barry Manilow’s “Mandy,” and…

  • Blessings,  Fun in Knoxville,  Motivation,  Pretty Pictures

    Two Years.

    It was two years ago today when I moved back to Knoxville after 26 years of living in my beloved hometown (well, the greater Chicagoland area). First: I can’t believe it’s been two years. Second: I wish I could go back and tell the pre-move Melisa, who was terrified of the change and very upset about leaving the greatest city in the entire world, that not only was everything going to be okay but also that she could let go and be assured that this move would lead to a season of life that would be one of her happiest. Jim and I have had way too many adventures to…

  • Tough Questions,  Travels,  UGH.

    The Ugliness of Air Travel, or Travel is Fun!

    As of yesterday, I have had to run through four airports in order to catch a connecting flight, two times barefoot and all four times on the way home. The first time it happened was in London at Heathrow back in 2007. I had been away from my family for more than a week, and my first flight out of Frankfurt left late. I was alone, having left my friend and her family at the hotel because they were going on to Austria without me. I can’t remember how much time I had when my plane arrived at Heathrow, but I do remember how frustrating it was to have to…

  • Blessings,  Food

    Enjoying the Ritual

    One of the things I’m known for is the ability to be highly productive. I may procrastinate like nobody’s business, but typically I don’t let most people see me sweat. I’m excellent with deadlines and lists, and I like to think I multi-task fairly well, even though the truth is that nobody really multi-tasks well. It’s been about a year and a half since I worked full time (plus more, with the Listen To Your Mother show). I’m freelancing right now and contracted with a hospital in Ohio on a very part-time basis. Oddly enough, my productivity has suffered. Actually, it’s not odd to me: I have known the truth…

  • I'm Apparently Old.,  UGH.

    Check Yourself.

    I came up with an amazing idea the other night after Jim and I enjoyed an evening at the theater. As we slowly worked our way towards the door to exit the building, we had to continually halt our pace and switch directions to avoid running into the folks who decided it was okay to stop and chat directly in the path of thousands of people who just wanted to get home. It was the worst, of course, right outside the doors on the sidewalk. My idea? Install moving sidewalks in all of those public places where this happens on a regular basis. Okay, I know my idea is ridiculous…