A Collection of Random Thoughts

Muir Woods Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photo snapped by Olive Blair.

Oh my. This year seems to be stuck on fast forward. I could swear I just wrote a random thoughts post last week, but it’s been over a month! So here is March’s installment. Feel free to share your own random thoughts in the comments.

1) I have a hair appointment today. I’m not doing anything new, just getting it trimmed to it’s original pixie length, but because of the appointment, I suppose hair is on my mind. I’ve had this cut for a couple of months now, and interestingly, I think people react to me much differently with this change to short hair, compared to the reactions I received when I switched from long dark hair to long blonde hair.

Probably the most memorable reaction was a man at the gym. Ben Blair and I work on weights together whenever we can, and the first time we went to the gym when I was sporting my new haircut, a man approached Ben and said, “I can’t believe you let her cut her hair!”

Oh my. I was standing right there, working with some weights, and I was totally speechless. It had never occurred to me for even a second to ask Ben for “permission” to cut my hair. Hah! It made me wonder, do you have someone in your life who has strong opinions about your hair? Someone you feel like would need to “let you” cut your hair?

The second thing is that strangers are super chatty with me now. Not sure what it is, but many, many more people start up conversations with me when I have this pixie cut, compared to when I had long hair (dark or light). Have you ever experienced something like that? Different reactions from strangers when you have a new haircut?

2) Also related to hair, I’ve noticed I’m much more diligent about wearing makeup and earrings with this hair cut, and I’ve been wearing more black. As it happens, I cleaned out my closest — Kon Mari-style — a couple days before I decided to get the pixie. And now I wonder: would I have kept different things if I had cleaned the closet after the cut? Would they have sparked joy?

One last hair thought: my daily maintenance has gone way, way down time-wise. But my intermittent maintenance (think cut and color), have gone way up. Yes, I no longer need blowouts, or spend much daily time on my hair. But, I can’t push a hair appointment to 6 weeks or longer. I have to go every 3 to 4 weeks. No skipping!

3) Tomorrow, I’m headed to Bentonville, Arkansas for work. I’ll be there till Friday. I’ve never been to Arkansas before and I’m hoping I’ll get to do at least a little bit of sight-seeing while I’m there. Do you live there? Or have you ever visited? When you only have a little bit of time do you have a sight-seeing strategy? I won’t have a car, so I’m thinking I’ll hire a taxi/uber and take a little driving tour.

4) Today is Ben Blair’s birthday. To celebrate, we’re going to see the Warriors play! We won two tickets at the elementary school auction for tonight’s game. When I realized the tickets were for a game on Ben’s birthday, I was vigilant in checking back on the auction to make sure we hadn’t been outbid. Hah! Do you follow basketball? I haven’t paid attention for years, but living in Oakland, it’s pretty easy to become a big fan of Steph Curry.

5) I’m loving the rain this week! We have skylights in several places in this house, and the rain pitter-pattering on the glass as we fall asleep is pretty darn wonderful. If it was freezing, I’m sure I wouldn’t love the rain so much, but the temperature has been pretty mild, and we all know we need the rain here in California, so it’s easier to be patient with a week’s worth of soggy days.

6) Related, we need to get our gutters cleaned. The rain has them overflowing! I’ve never had this done before and I’ve never done it myself. I was wondering why it is I’ve never had to deal with clogged rain gutters, but growing up in St. George, we didn’t get much rain, and we didn’t have a ton of trees providing leaves that would clog the gutters, so it wasn’t part of my growing up at all. And since then, I suppose we haven’t lived anywhere with a ton of trees.

But in this yard, with so many trees, and leaves that fall year round instead of seasonally, I can see clogged gutters are inevitable! Ours even have mesh over them to prevent the leaves from getting in, but it doesn’t always work. : ) I’ll make a phone call today and see what I can learn. I really have no idea what to expect on either pricing or timing, so I’m curious. It’s not a big deal, it’s just something I’ve never done before so I’m thinking about it. A little reminder that each house is individual and has it’s own needs and quirks.

Have you ever had to clear your gutters? Did you DIY it, or hire it out? Any advice?

7) We are in the process of refinancing our mortgage and going from a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan. The paperwork is killing me — when you’re self-employed, there are always extra layers of red tape. Nothing big to report here, just another thing on my mind.

8) Are you over political discussions at this point? Avoiding Facebook? Politically, I try hard to make sure my Facebook feed is representative of the actual people and viewpoints in my life. I have lots of both republicans and democrats in my life, people that I love, and I want to make sure I’m hearing from both sides when I’m online. I grew up with a democrat dad and a republican mom, plus, I’ve voted both republican and democrat myself over the years, so it’s normal to me to converse with people of different viewpoints. It’s less normal (and harder for me to understand) for me when I meet someone who only votes republican, or only votes democrat.

But the interesting thing about this particular election cycle, is that no one in my Facebook feed is pro-Trump. Not a single person. Or if they are, they aren’t vocal about it. Based on the poll numbers, it seems like I should be seeing quite a bit of pro-Trump, so now I’m realizing my Facebook friends aren’t as politically diverse as I’d previously thought. Not sure what to conclude from that. Mostly just fascinated.

I think that’s it for now. Please feel free to respond to anything here, or bring up your own topic. I always love hearing what’s on your minds!

 P.S. — I post my random thoughts each month. You can find them all here.

89 thoughts on “A Collection of Random Thoughts”

  1. Interesting comment about your Facebook feed and no Trump supporters. My husband and I were talking about this the other day. We are baffled by how many supporters he does have, but we don’t have any friends that actually are supporters (at least that we know of) to actually have a real conversation with to figure this out. We know our circle tends to lean towards the liberal, but it is a mix. But nobody we personally know and are friends with is actually pro Trump.

    1. Experts say it is people who have never voted before. It drives me nuts. So much hate coming from his campaign.

      1. I hadn’t heard that before, Jennifer. On one hand it makes sense, but on the other, it’s hard to imagine there are that many people who never voted before and are suddenly super engaged, plus pro-Trump. I feel like we’re missing some math somewhere.

    2. From France, I don’t want to interfere, we’ll be having a campaign in 2017, but from here, the hate sounds unbelievable and it’s something you don’t hear over here (in Europe, not just France) Also the bad language and insults. It really scares me…

      1. Catherine, I’m curious about your thoughts on Marine Le Pen. Do you see her in a separate category from Trump? Why? What about Berlusconi?

  2. Bentonville! That can only mean a Walmart meeting. I’d be very excited for a design mom line at Walmart. Tell me it’s party supplies! Pretty please!

    1. You’re so clever, Kiley!! I’m embarrassed to admit I was scratching my head for way too long about what the Bentonville connection might be (because it sounded so darned familiar).
      Oh! I hope you’re right! Party supplies, home decor, textiles, whatevs – I’m in!

    2. Okay, so now I’m feeling dumb, because I hadn’t connected that Walmart was headquartered in Bentonville. I’m the same as Susan in that the city name was familiar to me, but I couldn’t remember why. That seems like something I would know. I mean, I know where Target is based, and Amazon, and Apple and even smaller companies like Anthropologie. But somehow, I didn’t connect Walmart and Bentonville. Now I know!

      And though I would LOVE to create a Design Mom product line — oh my goodness, that would be dreamy! — that’s not actually why I’m headed to Arkansas. I’m going to an event called #famFRONTS. I haven’t been asked to do anything quite like this before so I don’t know much about it. I’ve been invited as a group of parents to meet with content creators and producers, and we are going to share our views on upcoming TV shows.

      I’m very curious to see what it will be like!

      1. Re: Bentonville – you must visit Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art – it’s a must-do. Fantastic collection. Don’t miss exploring the sculpture on the grounds and the Frank Lloyd Wright House, recently relocated from its original New Jersey location. If you need a pick-me-up while you’re there, they have a pretty phenomenal homemade oatmeal cream pie. In the Northwest Arkansas area, I recommend a little drive to AQ Chicken House for some fried chicken in Springdale. It really is terrific. There is a great pizza place in downtown Rogers called The Rail. If the weather’s nice and you can get outside, there are some fantastic hiking trails right in the mountains. If you can get away for a little day trip, Eureka Springs (about an hour away) is a sweet little trip, and there’s a gorgeous piece of architecture designed by a Wright contemporary called Thorncrown Chapel. That’s my two cents, and could add more :)

        1. I second everything Christiana wrote above! We live around these parts and you will have a lovely time. I would check out Fred’s hickory Inn also.

        2. I was coming to tell you to visit Crystal Bridges! I’ve spent a lot of time in Arkansas, and this museum is so special. It’s a beautiful state – enjoy!

          PS: Totally thought Wal-Mart! What else is in Bentonville?!

  3. I live about an hour away from Bentonville. You must go to the Crystal Bridges Museum. It’s free and it’s beautiful.

  4. I cut my shoulder length hair into a pixie when I graduated from college and took a job in DC. The humidity that spring made me walk into my hairdresser’s with a photo of Winona Ryder and say, “Chop it ALL off!” I also found the morning routine to be lovely and short, but you’re def right about the can’t-skip-a-month thing. And my hairdresser was expensive on a newbie salary! Worst mistake I made–going to the Capitol Barbershop to just get a trim around my ears, thinking I would save some money! I looked SO horrible. And I also found that I couldn’t wear clothing that I had worn with shoulder length hair either. It just didn’t look right for some reason. I found with shorter hair, I felt like I had to project my femininity, that I couldn’t just rely on my looks to showcase it for me. So you comment about earrings and make-up sounds spot on to me. It’s super cute on you!

    1. “I found with shorter hair, I felt like I had to project my femininity”

      Yes! You said that so well. I definitely feel that sometimes with this haircut.

  5. On your trip to Arkansas, I’d would highly recommend you see the crystal bridges museum! It’s a jewel.

  6. Wal Mart, huh!? How exciting. Congrats on refinancing too – I imagine it’s a whoop, but it’ll be better in the long term! I’m not refinancing, but I’m desperately trying to get mine paid off in 15 years (starting last year…it took awhile to get serious. :P)

    Funny about the Trump thing. I live in the South, and I do have a handful of fb friends who are Trump supporters (and I pass the occasional house with the sign in the yard), but overall they’ve been fairly quiet on fb. It interests me though, because those friends are all minorities (gay, women, hispanic or a combination of those).

    1. Actually, it’s not Walmart, it’s something called #famFRONTS — though I’m embarrassed that I didn’t connect Walmart and Bentonville. Feeling dumb about that!

      As for minority populations supporting trump, it’s so hard for me to imagine!

  7. Bentonville! Even if you’re not staying there, the 21c Museum Hotel is worth a visit. And Crystal Bridges is a MUST visit. If you’re staying at 21 c, and the weather is decent, take the walking trails between town and Crystal Bridges! Bentonville’s town square is pretty cute with some good restaurants. And you can’t go wrong with crepes from Crepes Paulette food truck. Oh, and I have been so curious about this little pocket neighborhood.

  8. I’ve yet to see any Trump support on any of my social media either! Not one post from anyone I know. Not sure where they are all hiding.

      1. Hi!

        Yes, I second the ‘no skipping’!

        Full disclosure – we run a gutter clearing business here in the UK. We use a really powerful wet and dry vacuum cleaner with long tubes and hosing. This means we don’t have to use any ladders and everything is cleared out quickly, cleanly and safely.

        Please don’t risk doing it yourself. If you are not used to working at height / on a ladder, it can be quite dangerous.

        We have found that, unless you can prove that your gutters have been properly maintained, making an insurance claim for damp, leaks or roof problems, can be very difficult.

        Hope that helps!

        1. I agree with the person who runs the gutter cleaning business. We live in Ohio and get ours cleaned twice a year. No way my hubby is going up on the 2 story roof to save a little bit of money.

      2. Get them cleaned this year (agree with the other commenters not to do it yourself – it is way, way more work and super dangerous). We have a small house but the guys who cleaned our exterior windows had an add-on for gutter cleaning. It was $90 to add on I think. Not a lot, but adds up when we need to do it 2x a year as we have a huge maple tree on our lot.

        So do it once and then get a product called (or similar to) Alurex. It is a one-time bigger cost up front but then you never have to think about your gutters again! The leaves end up on top of the holes, dry up, and blow off. I’m not sure if you are Costco members but they also do it. It’s like a hard-core version of the mesh you have.

    1. I bet your gutters are filled with Wet Leaves, which kind of compost in there while sitting in the wet water. I would say if you are comfortable working on a ladder at the height of the gutters, and can deal with the sticky slimy organic buildup, it is really not a difficult job, scoop and throw the leaves down, go for it, at least once! I feel you really get to know your house when you are up close and personal.

  9. I understand the hair thing completely! Last week I went from shoulder length blonde to red (it’s actually red/purple/brown having originally gone Orange by mistake!) I now find that the colours of clothes that I used to wear before no longer look right with my new hair! It’s probably psychological but more than my hair seems to have changed!

    1. So true. And I was kind of surprised. I thought I would make a lot of changes to wardrobe and makeup when I went blonde, and I did make some, but the changes have been much more drastic going from blonde to this haircut. I wouldn’t have predicted that! And I agree that it’s probably psychological.

    1. Yes to taking trips for educational research! That sounds lovely.

      And I continue to be confused on who is really supporting Trump. Where in the world are these numbers coming from?

  10. I wonder if shorter hair makes its wearer seem more approachable for a variety of reasons: long hair is sometimes equated with vanity or standoffishness (much like arms folded across one’s chest), while short hair gives a clear view of one’s facial expression and a sort of visual vulnerability.

    I hear you in regard to Trump. Most of our family/friends, across the country (!), are fairly conservative, and we cannot figure out who the heck is supportive of this guy!

    1. “while short hair gives a clear view of one’s facial expression and a sort of visual vulnerability”

      I’ve never heard that idea before, but it really resonates with me. Fascinating! I wonder if it’s true for women who wear their hair in a bun or ponytail too — something that keeps their face fully visible.

      And I hear you on the mysterious Trump support!

  11. You mentioned the school auction in another post as well… I loved the year of pies idea! I am currently planning a charity auction for the end of April. Was there anything that stood out to you at your school auction? Things that made it fun or prizes that were really hot items? Anything that was a flop?

    1. Good question! If I run into the auction organizer at school pickup, I’ll ask for some insights. I can tell you that Ben and I were most attracted to the restaurant gift certificates, and other food related items — and they all went for full value or more.

      1. I can chime in on the school auction front and say that our hands down over the top winners year after year are “teacher time.” Teachers do everything from take a winner to a ML Baseball game to have a “hair and nails” party for little ones to put together an Amazing Race scavenger hunt through a unique neighborhood. So popular. So. Much. Money.

  12. I’ve noticed that I also wear more makeup and earrings now that I have a pixie, I feel naked without it. Sadly one of my sisters is married to someone who feels he needs to give permission to let her cut her hair. She looks beautiful with a pixie but he will only “let” her keep it long. I’ll never understand or be ok with that.

    1. Oh I’m with you. I can not relate to that thinking — it implies ownership to me and kind of freaks me out.

      Maybe there’s a way to express it without implying ownership? I mean, I’ve told Ben Blair something like, “I like how your beard is growing in. The length is great!” But of course, I wouldn’t care a bit if it shaved it off at any point. It’s his body, he can do what he wants with it.

      1. So I was scrolling till we got to this point. I got married to my husband at the age of 32. I’m a very independent person and have a lot of independent interests, including world traveling while my husband stays home. Anyways, he loves my long blonde hair. I don’t think he would ever “command” me to keep it long, but he would be so disappointed I don’t think I could deal with it. So for me anyway, is not a matter of obedience, its a matter of love/respect for the only thing he really cares about at a physical level. I know some families who have pretty intense physical standards that they require, and I’ve seen it eat the women up. It is terrible. But for me, if it makes my super low key husband happy, and I like my hair long anyways, then when it’s crazy hot, I just say it’s worth it. And to be fair, I’m not a fan of facial hair for guys, at least not for the one I’m going to be kissing, so it works for us. :)

  13. We have been watching the Trump phenomenon from Australia firstly with amusement – what fun the US is having with the rest of the world- and now with absolute horror. It is time to stop messing with us. It’s not funny any more!

  14. I think people can vote just for Republicans or just for Democrats, if they think that their policies are aligned with what they believe. Then, there are extremene cases, when you may vote for another party, because your party’s option is impossible to be elected or too dangerous . In France, the left voted for the right ,electing Chirac just to avoid the extreme-right (Le Pen). They were disgusted, but it was to avoid the worst evil. (And also because they didn’t get to have a left option at that election because they didn’t show up to vote). I’ve been hearing that if Trump is teh offcial candidate, many Republicans might vote democrate – For Trump does not represent their values and they don’t think he could be a good president. I don’t know about where are his supporters, but I do understand why many Republicans cannot support him. He has shown to be racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobe and he tends to think that running country is the same as urnning your own business according to your mood swings. Even for conservatives, he crosses the line too much and he doesn’t seem politically and diplomatically reliable… So it really doesn’t surprise me. I am in France and I must say that in Europe people are watching what’s going on with a mist of amusement and terror (how could this be happening…in 2016!!!)

    1. “I think people can vote just for Republicans or just for Democrats, if they think that their policies are aligned with what they believe.”

      I get that, it just seems like there are so many exceptions. There are often candidates that are very moderate and could run as either party. So I prefer to go candidate by candidate instead of assuming I align with one party no matter what. But I realize that’s how some people are most comfortable voting.

      Thanks for sharing the French example of Chirac and Le Pen. It has me thinking.

  15. I went to college in Northwest Arkansas. Go see Crystal Bridges, go on a hike, have a chocolate butter mess at Marketplace Grille, and say hi to all my friends!
    And I have one friend who is a Trump supporter and a nice church lady in person but hateful on Facebook. I unfollowed her Facebook because ai was so disgusted yesterday.

  16. You have to see Crystal Bridges http://crystalbridges.org – also, in the downtown Bentonvikle square there is a great Tex-mex restaurant that is local and has a great chef with exposed brick decor and cool decorations – we moved away in 2012 but I think it is still there!

    1. That restaurant sounds great! And yours is the 5th vote (I think) for Crystal Bridges. It’s officially at the top of my list! I hope I have a break in the day and can go visit.

  17. Gabrielle! You look so beautiful in black. I’ve been meaning to tell you that at Alt, you were fully channeling the chic French woman in black look. I love it! <3 xo

    1. Thank you for the compliment, Lindsey! I remember packing for Alt Summit and being surprised that I was pretty much only packing black. But now I’ll just tell everyone I’m trying to channel a chic French woman. : )

  18. I think the man at the gym did not mean that literally. He likely knew you did not need permission. It’s a figure of speech. What he probably meant was “her hair was so fantastic, you should have begged her not to cut it”. I sometimes say things like I’d never let my husband wear capris” but obviously I am not in control of him. Your hair looks good. My daughter has a pixi and people always ask if her boyfriend approves.

    1. Yes, I’m sure he was just being friendly, but it felt odd to be talked about as if I wasn’t standing there, and it’s also such a rude thing to say. Rephrased, it’s basically saying: I’m a perfect stranger and I’m going to tell your husband that I don’t like your new haircut.

      1. When I read your post I assumed the man at the gym was a friend or close acquaintance, and it was kind of jokey and maybe even affectionate. But a stranger! That is rude and creepily patriarchal.

  19. Have your gutters cleaned once a year! We live on a slope and have always hired out gutter cleaning. It is quite reasonable less than $100.

  20. RE: cleaning the gutters
    We have one section of our gutters that need to be cleaned out regularly because there’s a pine tree branch directly overhanging it >.< My husband or I will go up on a ladder (with the other person spotting) or crawl out a 2nd floor window and walk on the roof to dig out the gutters with some work gloves. Sometimes if we leave it too long, it'll be compost by the time we go to clean it out! I wish we could get a gutter guard/screen but nothing's going to stop pine needles so regular DIY-cleaning it is!

    1. I’m suddenly embarrassed that we haven’t cleaned them out yet, and we’ve been here 2 1/2 years. Of course, I should have known to do it, but having never seen it done before, it never even crossed my mind. I wish houses came with their own specific ownership manual. : )

      1. I remember reading of another blogger (Lil Blue Boo, I think) that left behind a note book full of things about the house they were selling and even included something along the lines of “If you find such and such an earring, I know it’s in the house somewhere.” The new owner not only really appreciated the detailed history and how-tos of the house, but when he found the earring he mailed it to her. Both times we’ve bought a house I’ve wished for some kind of manual, especially this house we live in now because it has a water feature/pond and I have no idea how to take care of it.
        As for the gutter cleaning, if you haven’t done it for that long I would hire it out. We made the mistake of trying to clean ours after 2 years of living in the house (and big maple trees around the house) and ended up doing damage to our gutters because there was just so much stuff in there and we had a hard time getting to it. We ended up replacing them with a gutter and cover that were all one piece, custom made on the spot to fit your house (cool tool in the truck to bend a flat sheet of metal into a gutter/cover combo). It was about double what it would have cost to replace them with normal gutters, but the thought of never having to clean them again was very appealing in a tree heavy area.

  21. Gutter cleaning is nothing more than getting on a ladder, scooping the stuff out with your gloved hands into a clean green receptacle and then hosing them clean. If you’re going to hire this out, why not offer the job to your kids first? I bet a couple of them would be more than happy to team up for a couple of hours work with pay. As for Trump, it’s not surprising to me that he’s garnering support from the disenfranchised…he’s basically stepping in as the big powerful Daddy here to save us all and that looks mighty good to a significant part of our population. Like you, G, I too live in a big city and it’s hard to imagine not being able to hire out gutter services, snap up restaurant gift certificates, and buy homemade pies for a year. I just returned from a long road trip off the beaten path and it’s almost shocking to see the poverty outside our thriving metro areas. These are the folks who feel abandoned and are hoping Trump will “make this country great again”.

  22. Hair….I stopped coloring my hair about 18 months ago and people treat me very different over the past 6 months all of a sudden I must look like I’m about to drop dead or something and in the beginning I found it kinda funny people would offer to lug things to my vehicle for me (Hello, if you carry it to my vehicle you coming home with me to carry it into my home!) They stop to let me cross the parking lot etc. But as of late I’m seriously considering going back to coloring my hair again because it seems as though people are getting down right rude because I’m not a size 2 with no grey hairs! Going to the cell phone store is a classic example. I feel as though I’m stupid and an invalid. Which is a good reminder for me to treat all people with respect but I’m confused as to how to put my foot down and get the same respect. Any ideas?

    Gutters, I’ve always DIYed in on single story homes. I just got the ladder out and dug them out with my hand. If I were to do it today
    1. I would use the thick cleaning gloves as there can be some nasty stuff in there.
    2. I would attach a 5 gallon bucket to the top of the ladder to put the gunk in as you don’t want that in your yard, things growing, mold, mildew, worms, and even tiny trees.
    3. I would then install the screen myself so that it was done up to my standards so that it would work as designed to.
    4. Yes, I’m over 55 and grey haired but I can still DIY with the best of them and I can sling sarcasm with the best of them! LOL Hope you have an amazing week

  23. Crystal Bridges is the best museum in the country because its all American art- and it is extraordinary. A huge treat! I loved the original Rosie the Riveter piece – my husband had to pull me away from it and some of the other more contemperary pieces were fantastic!

  24. I’m too low maintenance for a pixie cut. I have a friend who rocks short hair, but I don’t want to look like a boy. I get my hair trimmed about twice a year. Short hair is a lot of upkeep. We just left Portland after 8 years so we are pros with gutter cleaning. What a nightmare. My husband would pull out a ladder and get some trouble spots when things got bad. Think cold with pouring rain on a ladder with his hand pulling out mud, leaves, gunk. Glad to be gone!

  25. You’ve got kids, get them to do the gutters. I clean ours out twice a year on our detached garage. Wear gloves, and scoop the leaves into a bucket. Nothing more than that really.
    Our house has gutter guards, why don’t you look into that for yours? Then you wouldn’t have to worry about the cleaning and maintenance every year.

  26. I rarely comment, especially politically – but I found this article on authoritarianism [as an explanation to Trump’s popularity] a fascinating exploration of new political science research – apparently we should expect more candidates like him going forward. I especially enjoyed the parenting questions used to tease out how people fall on the spectrum [and how human nature tends to ‘game the system’]!

    http://www.vox.com/2016/3/1/11127424/trump-authoritarianism

  27. Oh my gosh! You’re coming here! Of course do all the normal touristy stuff- but PLEASE make sure you go to eat at Crepes Paulette. It’s a crepe food truck fun by the most delightful French man. You must get a strawberry Nutella crepe.

  28. On hair- I have had both long and pixie and in between, I prefer the long because for me, that was the easiest to deal with. Funny how that goes differently for everyone! Your pixie looks absolutely adorable and seems to suit you very well.
    On politics- wow. I have all but given up on FB mainly because all the negative posts on life in general. My feed is pretty diverse in right, left, and middle philosophies as it is filled with persons I am friends with as well as associates and coworkers. I am surprised however, in my groups not one Hillary fan, there were Carson fans, the Bernies seem to be young to middle age and or with post grad degrees, the Trumps are generally the less formally educated and the elderly (and dare I say, some who I personally know are less than politically correct and don’t care much for diversity. hmmm), plus a few fence sitters who refuse to commit -they are the folks who rarely speak their minds on any subject. One elderly man I chatted with the other day called Sanders a “Socialist!” to which I replied that he describes himself as a “democratic socialist” so?? And that many folks see Trump as a “Fascist” -to which he went into a very good impression of Mr. Trump, insulting and raging on. Again, hmmm. o.k.

  29. My husband and I just went to Eureka Springs + a stop in Bentonville on the way back to my in-laws for our babymoon. I definitely second the folks who say to go to Eureka Springs, Thorncrown Chapel, and Crystal Bridges Museum. Some very cool, surprising places for that region of the country.

    Regarding Trump supporters on Facebook, at first I was saying the same thing–that I don’t actually KNOW anyone who likes him, but over time, I’ve heard more and more rumors of people I know (and who are even in my extended family) supporting him, and also reading between the lines on some Facebook posts, it will be confirmed. I think they are just a little anxious to admit it, knowing what kind of backlash they would get. Also, I’m not sure what the stats are, but I listened to a podcast the other day that had interviews/stories with Trump supporters, and there were a lot who had never voted before, so I think this theory is true.

    I consider myself fairly moderate (or what I call a practical, pro-life democrat), so I have always wanted to vote for republicans as well (if anything, just so I could say I do!), but every time an election comes around and I do my research, even looking at it rationally, I always prefer the democrat (or independent). So I am one of those people who always votes democrat, without really meaning to.

    For me, I think it at least partially has to do with where I grew up. Everyone around me was a republican (and assumed you were too) and there was a lot of pressure, expectation, and judgment surrounding your political beliefs, especially if you are Christian. It was so intense at times, that now, it’s honestly not the least bit surprising to me that Trump is the front-runner. All of that vitriol and hate that feels to shocking to so many people–that was the political culture of my upbringing.

    Though thankfully I have met some in my adulthood, I honestly didn’t know any republicans who were just thoughtful, commonsense sort of people. I feel that I have a lot in common with those folks, but it’s been difficult for me to come around to the fact that they do, in fact, exist.

  30. We were like you, thinking we’d have to get someone in to clean our gutters. And so for whatever reason we put it off and off. Clearly so had the people before us, as by the time we did it, 2 & 1/2 years of owning it, we literally had a small tree (about 3 inches) growing in the mulch that had compressed over time. Finally, I don’t know why, we rented a super long extension ladder from HD (we have a 1 & 1/2 story house, so too high for me!), I held it and hubby climbed up and dug out all the old (so much debris) and then we installed gutter guard for the first time. A long afternoon to do the whole house, but so so glad we did and with our cold winters, it’s better for the current snow melt we are finally having. You can do it (or like others mentioned, the kids can help).

  31. I am a short hair girl – pixie cut for 20 years with a few minor grow outs but I just like it that way. I am trying to grow it out now (properly) and I can’t stand the daily maintenance. Pixie cuts may need a trip to the salon more regularly but that is a nice time out for me however blow drying and brushing each morning along with the rearranging through the day (it is still at an awkward length) is killing me. I’ll be back at the salon soon I think!

    RE: gutters. In Australia, we have many year round falling leaves and our gutters need clearing regularly. In winter for obvious reasons but in summer to protect from fires. We call them bush fires but if you live in a “tree house” here, gutter clearing is a key factor in being fire safe as the dry leaves are so flammable and take it straight to the roof of your house. It’s a tedious but necessary job – pay someone!

  32. The man who commented to your husband about your hair — What on EARTH? Did you say anything? Did Ben Blair?

    Related, here’s something that’s on my mind: I am pretty opinionated, I think, but I really get uncomfortable with conflict. So, when I’m offended, or feel like a side is misrepresented, I have a hard time vocalizing my feelings without feeling like I’m drumming up conflict (say, with all this Trump madness). I feel defensive, when I don’t mean to be, and I always, always feel myself blushing if I do speak up. It’s so embarrassing! I want to teach myself to be assertive without feeling embarrassed about it. Are you assertive in person?

  33. I live in Little Rock – Arkansas’s Capitol city! And like so many people posted…don’t miss Crystal Bridges! It’s breath taking and a real gem. Fayetteville is not far and we love to go there for great food. If you had the kids I would recommend Amazeum (near Crystal Bridges) with hands on fun and science. I hope you enjoy Northwest Arkansas. It’s one of the most beautiful areas of the state!

  34. I always vote for one political party, because my values align most with them. There are fundamental beliefs of the opposite party that I disagree with and this generally prohibits me from voting for them. I do follow the political conversations of the two parties and try to be open minded though. I also believe that the majority of people usually vote along their party’s line…

  35. I live in the Houston area – lots of Republicans and I have only heard of a handful of people who support Trump. Most conservatives I know are generally horrified by him.

  36. We don’t clean the gutters on the second story of the house. The downspouts from the second story seem to run fine when it rains. I had a friend hire someone to clean her second story gutters since they had never had it done after several years of living in their house, but when he went up on the roof they were totally clean! However, our 1st story gutters get clogged quite often (spring brings catkins and seeds and autumn brings leaves) so we have to clean them out several times a year. My husband is tall enough to stand on a chair to reach the gutters. I climb out on the roof from a second story bedroom and walk the length of the roof cleaning. It’s kind of fun.

  37. On the Trump phenomenon and FB: I think that’s a reflection of our self-created, self-curated worlds, in which we hang out with people who are largely like ourselves. The class and educational divides in the US are profound. People with educations don’t tend to encounter those without them, much less befriend those people or have real conversations with them. Hence the echo chambers on FB.

    I had to defriend a very conservative FB friend when we disagreed on an issue last year and he informed me that I was “hell’s kindling.” This was someone I had hosted in my home, someone I hug to say hello, and our kids have been dear friends for years. I’m not actually mad at this person, but lesson learned: pixelated political conversations can get ugly fast!

  38. While generally I avoid political discussions in my interactions with adults, I do have them on a regular basis with my students. I live in a liberal college town, and many of my students are the children of university professors and scientists. They tend to be very open-minded and have shown support and interest in both sides of the spectrum. That being said, I do have some that are open Trump supporters (as are their parents) and these kids tend to be from lower socioeconomic, lower education level households. They are financially frustrated, see immigrants as a challenge to their wage jobs and feel as though their conservative values are being marginalized in mainstream American society. They see Trump as a straight-shooter who will challenge the Washington insiders and be a voice for their demographic (?!) History has shown that this is the same demographic that has been drawn to authoritarian leaders throughout the 20th century (Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, Castro, Pinochet, Kenyatta, etc.) It is worrisome, to say the least.

  39. I clean the gutters out myself on the garage but not the house. The house is too tall for me. I can only do one story without getting frightful. I have our lawn guy do the house. My recommendations are: it’s a two man job. One to be a spotter with you on the ladder and hand you tools and take away. Wear rubber gloves. Sometimes rivets stick out and can cut your hands. Save the material you collect for compost. It is amazingly rich and great for your garden and plants!

  40. On the issue of my hair: My husband (and others) may have an opinion, but I decide what it will look like: silver (no color) and, now, edgy/short after 4 years of long hair. And yes, I do think folks find my shorter cut more approachable. No idea why.

    With regards to gutter cleaning: We live on the East Coast and have a two story house and with oak, poplar and pine trees surrounding the property (some ours, some neighbors) that put out a lot of debris. My husband does the cleaning (and you won’t like to hear this) on a four to six week basis and certainly always before any big rain/snow event mostly using a leaf blower and sometimes picking out clumps of debris by hand. Much easier to do when it is dry. He accesses the roof from our back deck using a ladder. Of course, ask me how I felt when I found out he was on the roof during a tropical storm with winds blowing just below hurricane force….in flip flops. Yeah, not the smartest thing he has ever done. But his regular maintenance is one reason our 24 year old roof is still in good condition and why we have never had a leak. It is also the reason our foundation soil has not washed away. Two good reasons to take gutter cleaning seriously.

  41. #3: I love Arkansas! That’s where my daddy grew up and my parents attended college and met and many of my loved ones live there now. I live in Texas, but I have a state shaped necklace charm of Arkansas. ;)
    #8: I also have no Trump supporters in my FB newsfeed, but many, many non-supporters. I thought maybe I was the odd [wo]man out on that one, but apparently not!
    Thank you for sharing random thoughts!

  42. I would consider myself socially moderate-fiscally conservative. I have a lot of conservative friends and family. I’m with you. I don’t know a single person who supports him (at least vocally). In fact they all feel the same way I do which is: what the hell? I can’t figure out if we are being punk’d by the media/pollsters or if there really are that many racists in this country??? So fascinating/scary. I’m so tired of it but I can not look away.

  43. I’m an Arkansas native (born and raised in Fayetteville) and I gotta tell you: Bentonville is cool.

    Grab coffee at Onyx (this is a must), local beer and appetizers at Oven & Tap, wood-roasted eggplant at The Hive, and yes, visit Crystal Bridges and its surrounding walking trails. All of these spots are right on the town square, so you won’t even need an Uber. Have fun!

  44. I am originally from Arkansas. It is the most beautiful state! Find a drive through the Ozark Mountains.

  45. My husband and I were just talking about the Trump thing! We have a pretty politically diverse group of friends and family, and we don’t know anyone who openly supports him. My parents are the most conservative people I know and they both think he’s a wacko. It is a really strange phenomenon.

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