MC HACKS, ETC

I just returned from spending some time with my fellow actively aging Montana Chicks (MC) in the Colorado mountains. We try and gather once a year or so and have for decades.  We all go WAY BACK!

In addition to taking the free Enneagram Personality Test to figure out our types (no big surprises in the group), on this trip we had other interesting chats about wide-ranging topics including…

Travel hacks, such as:

  • Stuffing a neck roll with a puffy coat and shawl to serve double duty
  • Bringing a large square scarf that can be folded into a triangle and used as a bib
  • Freezing liquid (water, etc) so it can go through security as a solid
  • Grabbing the air sickness bag from the plane, just in case

Grammar mistakes, such as:

  • Using ‘between you and I’ instead of ‘between you and me’
  • Asking someone how they are and saying ‘good’ instead of ‘well’
  • Using ‘like’ in a sentence, such as ‘the weather is like amazing’
  • Saying ‘no problem’ instead of ‘you’re welcome’

Clichés, such as:

  • Just saying (my favorite)
  • In my opinion (another of my favorites)
  • It is what it is
  • It’s not my first rodeo
  • That ship has sailed
  • Hacks
  • See this LONG list for other ideas

As always, it was our time together to treasure and renew lifelong friendships. I’m already looking forward to our next adventure.

Some of It’s Magic, Some of It’s Tragic, But I Had a Good Life All the Way.

In memory of David Erickson and Mark Erickson, Vail, Colorado

Allene

COVID COP

On a recent episode of 60 Minutes, President Biden said the ‘pandemic is over’ but there is still work underway. I don’t think most scientists are on the same page as the President, but most of the public seems to be.

In early 2020, I appointed myself a ‘COVID Cop’.  I’ve had a lot to say since then about COVID and had a lot of opinions about what was right and what was wrong. 

I’ve decided it is time for me to turn in my imaginary COVID cop badge and keep my opinions to myself (and my poor husband).

But before I turn in my badge, I have one last article that I think is worth a read: 10 Tips for Coexisting with COVID (and living a normal-ish life) by Tara Pope from the Washington Post.  She has reported on COVID-19 from the get-go.

Here are her 10 tips:

  1. Get a booster shot
  2. Mask when it’s easy – mask in the grocery store when its crowded, etc.
  3. Mask when you travel – mask in security lines, while in the airport, when boarding, and when deplaning. It isn’t as necessary when the plane is off the ground because of the ventilation system.  That being said, she still masks on planes as do I  
  4. Avoid crowds if possible– you still may want to wear a mask at movies or at the theater
  5. Check community transmission levels – ours is on the lower side right now
  6. Have a Paxlovid plan – check with your provider before an infection
  7. Think about indoor air – consider a portable air cleaner (it might also be handy for wildfire smoke)
  8. Use home tests wisely – be cautious if you have symptoms, even with a negative home test
  9. Stay home when you are sick
  10. Plan around the most vulnerable person in your orbit – be vigilant about masking, testing, and high-risk situations.

The bottom line is that it’s not all or nothing. There’s lots of reasons we shouldn’t be just vaxxed and done. One infection with the virus can sideline you or disrupt your life or the lives of those around you very easily.

Gregg Gonsalves, epidemiologist and associate professor at Yale School of Public Health

I do reserve the right to re-appoint myself as a COVID cop if needed. 😊

Allene

CARRY ON – OH MY!

I am flying to the mountains next week and am in planning/packing mode.  I ALWAYS talk a good game about limiting what I bring to my carry on only.  And I ALWAYS bring too much!

On this trip I am going to actually try and ‘walk my talk’ and stick with what comfortably fits in my carry on.

I will likely check my bag on the front end but will plan on keeping it with me on my return flight.  And I have the additional challenge of needing to lift my carry on into the overhead bin ☹.

Back to the trip, I love autumn and I love time in the mountains! 

As we all know, weather is no longer predictable.  And I think that is particularly true for the mountains.  Every time I look at the forecast it changes and my packing list changes accordingly. 

As of now, the daytime highs are ranging from 69 – 72 degrees (long sleeves for me).  Nights are darn chilly and will be down in the 40’s.  There is a chance of rain so a dreaded raincoat needs to fit, as well.

A spa day is in the mix, so a swimsuit is the mix as well.  And I will need to bring some clothes for exercise.

All this quickly adds up to too much stuff!

I am down to:

  • 5 tops (one for each day, no spilling allowed)
  • A cardigan for the plane
  • 2 pairs of pants, which includes jeans for the plane
  • 2 pairs of shoes, which includes sneakers for the plane
  • Raincoat and lightweight vest
  • Swimsuit, cover-up, flip flops
  • PJ’s

I haven’t actually put all of this in my suitcase yet….but I am hopeful that I might have achieved my goal. 

I will report back!

“Just in case” is the curse of packing.

Alexandra Potter

Allene

IT’S OK TO MOURN

My girlfriend and I have been more than casual ‘royal watchers’ over the years 😊.  We are paying close attention to the rituals and reactions to the Queen’s passing.  While many people are mourning, others see the monarchy as costly to the taxpayers and associate it with colonialism and white supremacy. 

For me, the Queen’s death represents the end of yet another era.  I was born the year she became Queen Elizabeth II.

I am mourning (or have mourned) a few other ‘era endings’. This is my personal list.  It could be quite long, so I am sticking to:

Downtown Seattle – I remember loving to go to downtown Seattle and shop at Frederick and Nelson, Nordstrom, Westlake Center, Pacific Place, etc.  Most are now gone or a shadow of their former selves (Nordstrom).  We loved eating at Etta’s (now gone) and no December was complete without a holiday visit to Seattle.  And, unlike today, we had no real concern about our personal safety.

Central Avenue – Central Avenue in my hometown was the ‘main drag’.  When I was growing up there were 3 movie theaters along 9 blocks, plus some favorite department stores (Paris of Montana, Buttrey’s) and shops (Spencer’s, Dale Stapp, the Petite Shoppe). We had restaurants to choose from, the Parisienne Room being a favorite. While there are still some shops and places to eat on Central, all of those I fondly remember growing up have been history for decades (except for the City Bar 😊).

Shopping – Remember when you could go to a department store or a mall and find pretty much everything you needed or wanted in one trip?  Now our needs and necessities come to our doorstep via a blue Amazon delivery truck (or UPS, or FED EX – take your pick).

Salmon – my husband remembers salmon fishing in Commencement Bay during the 1980’s.  He fished most weekends and almost always caught his limit.  While he still fishes, the salmon aren’t nearly as plentiful as they used to be.  The orcas know this firsthand ☹!

It makes me sad that many of these things I took for granted over the years will be distant memories, at best, for our children. And our grandchildren will likely never experience them.

I don’t think of myself as someone who is stuck in the past.  But I do think it is OK to mourn the end of eras (even briefly). 

That being said, we now have King Charles and who knows what’s next for the monarchy? Downtown Seattle will continue to reinvent itself in some way, shape, or form.  Central Avenue is still on the map.  Amazon is here to stay (I think), but brick and mortar stores are still standing.  And there are still salmon in the bay for now.

“Everything has to come to an end, sometime.”

L. Frank Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz

Allene

LIVING LIGHTLY

My last post was about setting intentions for fall.  One that I Iike best is from the Daily Word:

I remember to live lightly, laugh, and be kind.

I imagine there are tons of ways to define ‘live lightly’.  So, I decided to consult with Dr. Google to see what I could find.  I came across a Canadian blog site called Living Lightly

According to their site:

There is no single definition of Living Lightly, nor is there a roadmap or a set of commandments that will apply to every person in every society.

Living Lightly is a lifestyle that is at the same time ethical, practical, economical, and spiritual.

Living Lightly is a choice to better align the pursuit of our practical needs with our personal values and spiritual calling, and with the needs of our environment and of all humans and other forms of life.

Living Lightly

I am planning on a deeper dive on the site to learn ways to ‘live lightly’.

The needs of our environment came home to roost this weekend.

Our air was ‘unhealthy for everybody’ due to wildfire smoke. While late summer wildfires are a given in the West, they aren’t that common in Western Washington. Wildfires are expected to increase in intensity and frequency due to climate change (per the EPA).

On Saturday, Seattle was the city with the worst air quality in the WORLD! Number 2 on the list was Lahore, Pakistan. The picture in today’s collage was taken from our back deck late Saturday afternoon.  You can see the sun through the haze. 

Western Washington occasionally has poor air quality from an air inversion.  This usually happens in the winter.  We haven’t had much in the way of summer wildfire smoke before the last few years, but this is the second summer with some pretty bad fires and unhealthy air.

My Montana girlfriends own air purifiers to deal with smoky air.  It seems like that will now be a necessary purchase for us, as well!

Allene

Autumn Intentions

As I noted in my last post, for me, the new year starts in September not January.

Carol Hedges, the author of this post has the same perspective and makes her New Year’s resolutions in September.  This year she came up with 10 Positive Aspirations for Fall.

Her aspirations include:

  • Learn to layer – no more one season clothes, that’s what cardigans are for!
  • Ignore trends
  • Resist ‘buy me’ words
  • Stop her subscription to Good Housekeeping

Note: When I got married 44 years ago, my mother subscribed to GH for me.  I have kept it for sentimental reasons.  But I too have stopped my subscription.  It ain’t what it used to be!

  • Stand by my social media friends – I get this.  It takes a bit to put yourself out there on a blog, Instagram, etc.  It takes nothing to ‘like’ a post!
  • Stop worrying
  • Say no to super foods – just eat a healthy diet
  • Hug my virtual friends
  • Give thanks
  • Live with pride

I think these are generally fine aspirations/resolutions.  Thanks to advice from our yoga teacher, Jeni, I no longer make resolutions.   She suggests setting intentions instead of resolutions.  I took her advice to mean that intentions are more powerful.

As the month gets underway, I have been focusing on my daily intentions, which are simple yet challenging for me:

  • Choose Health
  • Be Kind
  • Get cleaned up before noon 😊.

Note: I spent so many years getting up at 5:45 and rushing to get out the door by 7 AM at the latest.  In retirement, I am savoring my morning tea, meditation, leisurely breakfast, and exercise. Before you know it, it is time for lunch.  So, my intention is to at least be showered and dressed by noon!

But, when all else fails, this intention works:

Remaining centered, I remember to live lightly, laugh, and be kind.

Daily Word, 9/7/22

And, in the words of a wise woman whose daily intentions were duty and service,:

It’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.

Queen Elizabeth II

Allene

A HINT OF FALL

As I may have mentioned 100 times before, fall is my favorite season.  I seem to still operate on an academic calendar and, for me, the year begins in September.

While the autumn equinox isn’t until 9/22, I am seeing hints of fall already.

I think my love of fall started with my love of returning to school in early September. I liked wearing my new school clothes, reconnecting with friends, my classes, and all the school rituals. 

As a grown-up, I still love this time of year.

College football is getting underway. We are big University of Washington Husky fans and watching the games is a treat.  That being said, we aren’t happy with the whole sports network ‘Pac 12 After Dark’ deal.  With games starting at 7:30 PM, I am lucky to still be awake by the 3rd quarter!

Pumpkin Spice lattes are now available, but I am not a fan. But I do like to eat and drink seasonally.  Hot tea in the afternoon now has some appeal, as does red wine at 5. New fall apples, pears, and red grapes are starting to show up and are slowly replacing stone fruit like peaches and plums.  I also love squash and mushrooms in the fall (as does my friend MB). And I predict my husband will be making an apple pie before long 😊!

September wouldn’t be complete without getting our senior flu shots!  We got them earlier than usual this year because I have some travel coming up later this month and we wanted to beat the ‘new COVID booster rush’.  Our pharmacist said there will be a short supply of the booster initially. I will be holding off on my next COVID shot until mid October (or so} because I had a recent booster. 

On another September ‘note’, we’ve been reminiscing about a favorite early fall ritual from our California years: attending the Monterey Jazz Festival. This year’s festival is 9/23 – 9/25.

The Monterey Jazz Festival is the longest continuously-running jazz festival in the world and is held annually on the 20-acre, oak-studded Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, Calif. Since 1958, the nonprofit Monterey Jazz Festival has been committed to celebrating America’s creativity and cultural heritage by presenting legendary jazz musicians, composers, and young rising stars.

Monterey Jazz Festival website

And finally, I love the early September weather!  Our morning marine layer is back.  We even had some drizzle recently. I love cloudy mornings followed by mellow sunny afternoons.  We will likely still have some warm days this month, but the sun feels different…..there is a hint of fall in the air!

There is something so special in the early leaves drifting from the trees–as if we are all to be allowed a chance to peel, to refresh, to start again.”

– Ruth Ahmed

Allene

BTW, Halloween candy has been out since July 6th so it doesn’t really count as a ‘HINT of fall’, at least in my book!

THE DENTIST

As a rule, I have no anxiety about medical procedures or injections of any kind.  During my cancer treatment, I even endured a number of lumbar punctures while in my hospital bed ☹, and did A-OK!  The only anxiety I have is waiting for test results 😊. 

Unfortunately, that freedom from anxiety excludes visits to the dentist!

When I was growing up, I saw the dentist for annual checkups.  Because of our fluoridated water, I rarely had a cavity.  As an adult, I have seen the hygienist twice a year for cleaning and a quick check up.  Generally, all has been well.

That all changed a few years ago.  I had a tooth extracted. And shortly thereafter I needed a crown.  Both procedures were stressful.  No one loves the sound of a drill!  And my dental anxiety was born.

I was never afraid of anything in the world except the dentist.

Taylor Caldwell

I now dread going to the dentist.  

I have tried a few local dental practices with dismal results.  I finally went back to a practice we used back in the 2000’s.  My husband never really left them and wouldn’t go anywhere else.   It is a hefty drive, usually in bad traffic, but I thought it was worth a try.  I had an exam there earlier in August and, sure enough, I needed a CROWN ☹.  I was not happy, but I felt confident I was in the right spot.

After a fitful night’s sleep, Tuesday was ‘crown day’.  While it was no picnic, I did OK.  I communicated my anxiety to the dentist and her assistant.  They were wonderful!  They kept me informed throughout the process and made the permanent crown right in the office (highly recommended).  I practiced my relaxed breathing and visualizations throughout and came through the ordeal exhausted, but relatively unscathed. 

I imagine I will need another crown in the future. While my anxiety still needs a lot of work, I am not dreading my next exam. At least I know I have found my perfect dental practice.  I should have listened to my husband long ago and stayed the course!

The Secret of Happiness is Having Three Things to Look Forward To, and Nothing to Dread!

Charlie Brown, Charles Schultz

Allene

BTW, today’s collage doesn’t have much to do with the dentist; it is a compilation of my August photos.

Micro Moments

I was reading a post about Les Petits Bonheurs – little day-to-day joys, simple pleasures, small moments of happiness in French.

The author had some good examples:

A nap in the middle of the afternoon, a glass of wine while reading that latest best seller, a walk in the park

Kay Margaret Kay

I have done a post on simple pleasures before.  I agree with her list and can add some of my own ideas.

On a particularly hot afternoon, when I was thoroughly sick of summer weather, I got to thinking.  Instead of ‘small moments’ of happiness, how about going even more granular and finding ‘micro moments’ of happiness?

I had great fun coming up with this partial list:

  • My soy tea latte every morning
  • Shared laughter
  • My first sips of a cold and crisp sauvignon blanc during our evening happy hour
  • An email from the library that the book I have been waiting for is available to download
  • My husband’s dahlias
  • A visit from a talkative hummingbird
  • Spotting my autumn colors
  • Crossing the border into Canada
  • And, the best of all, waking up to a marine layer after a particularly long hot spell 😊

I quickly realized that this list of micro moments could be infinite……and I think that is a good thing!

Allene

August with Agatha

There are several current events I could cover today:

  • The midterm elections
  • Ongoing climate crises – floods, etc.
  • Polio in wastewater
  • MPV (Monkeypox)
  • Parents refusing to or reluctant to vaccinate their children ☹ – prepare for outbreaks ahead
  • New COVID 19 boosters
  • CDC’s pandemic response and communication missteps
  • Etc.

But I think I am going to stick with a much more upbeat topic: MURDER!

I am spending the dog days of summer with Agatha Christie

It all began when we started watching Poirot on PBS earlier this summer.  We quickly ran out of episodes so we subscribed to BritBox so we could binge to our hearts’ content.  We particularly like Hugh Fraser as Captain Hastings; more on him later.

I also came across an article in Town and Country about Agatha Christies’ 10 favorites among her many books.  And I was off to the Christie races:

Here is her list:

  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)– I listened to this.  Hugh Fraser is the narrator and knocks it out of the ballpark!  I was stumped until the end.
  • The 13 Problems (1932) – these are short stories all featuring Miss Marple.  The stories are told by the same group of people so although they stand alone, they all still hang together.  And Mrs. Marple ALWAYS prevails!
  • Murder on the Orient Express (1934) – I have seen it on the screen many times, but I haven’t read it.  I am on the library waitlist.
  • Then There Were None (1939) – I have also seen it but haven’t read it.  I am waitlisted.
  • The Moving Finger (1943) -another Miss Marple.  I am on the waitlist.
  • Towards Zero (1944) – this is a Superintendent Battle book and my first time with that character.  It has probably been my favorite so far.  The murderer was a complete surprise!  I want to read more of her books featuring this character.
  • Crooked House (1949) – I am starting on this next
  • A Murder is Announced (1950) – Another Miss Marple that I will read after the Moving Finger comes my way
  • Ordeal by Innocence (1958) – I have seen this several times on the screen and I have also read it so am checking it off.
  • Endless Night (1967) – I will read this last.

I love the language she uses in her books and her descriptions of the era.  Everyone is addressed formally, dresses for dinner, and seems to have at least one servant😊.  A different time for sure!  It is hard to believe that her first mystery was written almost 100 years ago.  I think her observations of human nature stand the test of time.  And I think the mysteries are tough to beat.

Spending August with Agatha is a treat and a great escape from the current events listed above!

“Every murderer is probably somebody’s old friend.”

Agatha Christie

Allene