34. Travel to one of the states I’ve never been to before

Flag of Oregon

Today I booked tickets to go to Oregon for my friend Mike’s wedding in July.  I’ve known for several months about the timing of this wedding, but just needed to actually book the flights. Done! We’ve got a couple of days before and after the wedding to explore the western part of the state – looking forward to it and would love to hear your recommendations on things to do. I’m not the least bit upset that the travel itself won’t take place before I turn 40 (which is TODAY) – the spirit of the goal was to go someplace new, and it will be accomplished. Woo!

7. Get another tattoo

I figured out the design for my next tattoo. Haven’t gotten it yet, because I still can’t decide on placement. But I’m very happy with what it’s going to look like. It will be some subset of this painting of lupines.

Lupines by Barbara Cooney

The image itself is from the book Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. I can’t wait to find an artist in the Boston area to work with on this! But first, I’ll carry the design around for another year to be sure it’s what I want. Having identified the design – that counts as “getting another tattoo” for the purposes of this list! I won’t be rushing into actually getting it though. My first tattoo was of a design I carried around for 8 years, so sitting on this design for a while feels like a good idea.

38. Make beer

The original goal here was to volunteer at Waltham Fields Community Farm, but instead of volunteering, Amy and I decided to get a full farm share this year instead of splitting one with friends Meena and Murali and their kids.

So in keeping with the “food” theme of this goal, beer became the end product. (Is anyone surprised? I’m not.)

There is a joint here in Natick called Barleycorn’s Craft Brew, where one can brew a huge variety of beer, a smaller variety of wine, and an even smaller selection of sodas. After the kayaking and snake adventures of May 7, Amy brought me and Libby to Barleycorn’s. We sat down and decided what beer to make. Our final choice was a summer brew called Bambino Summer Ale.

Bambino Summer Ale Recipe
Bambino Summer Ale Recipe

We measured our malts, ground them up, and put them into a giant tea bag, which steeped for about a half-hour.

Grinding malt
Grinding the malt
Grinding malt
Grinding so fast you can't even see her hand!

We added the extract and stirred it up.

Stirring the Tea
Double bubble toil and trouble...

Later we added the hops, after which the wurt (for it’s not beer yet) was moved from the kettle to a barrel for fermentation.

To ferment!
That'll be OUR beer soon!

We’ll go back in 2 weeks and bottle the beer. I think we get about 6 total cases out of this – hope we like it! If you’re local, you’ll probably get to try some too.

18. Hold a snake

The pre-birthday Saturday which Amy put together continued well after kayaking.  She, Libby, and I headed to lunch at one of the Phantom Gourmet’s newest “hidden jewels” – the Dudley Chateau, where my friend Erin surprised me! After a wonderful lunch of burgers and beer, Erin headed off to do Saturday things, and Amy and Libby drove me to the local Petco, where employee Kerry was more than happy to let me hold a baby red boa constrictor (his name was Chester).

Holding Chester the Snake
Me, Kerry, and Chester the Snake

For the entire year, Amy has been offering to catch one of the many garter snakes that live in our yard for me to hold, and for the entire year, I’ve been turning her down. After holding Chester, I finally figured out why: garter snakes are fast and unpredictable in their movements. Baby boa constrictors are not. They are quite deliberate, slowly exploring while twisting and twining. I knew that at any given moment, giving the snake back to Kerry was an option. Not so with garter snakes.

Holding Chester the Snake
Libby cradling baby Chester the Boa

Libby had the chance to hold the snake too. Fun times! Amy, given her experience with our local garters, declined, having actually picked up and moved snakes quite recently.