My friend and I had a little adventure earlier this week.  We drove over to Gig Harbor, WA to do some shopping.  I have a holiday coming up and she had a list, so off we went.

It is a bit of a stretch to even call going to Gig Harbor a trip or even an adventure.  It is all of 19 miles from home and it takes 30-40 minutes to drive there.

It always feels like a completely different community to me.

To get there, you have to cross a suspension bridge, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, across Puget Sound.  The bridge has an interesting history.  It first opened 7/1/1940 and collapsed during a storm on November 7th of the same year (the bridge moved vertically in the wind and got the unfortunate nickname, ‘Galloping Gertie’). The video of the collapse is something!

A new Tacoma Narrows bridge was built in 1950.  By 1990, the population of the Kitsap Peninsula (home of Gig Harbor) had outgrown the existing bridge. A second span opened in 2007 and is now a toll bridge.  The current toll is $5.50, which is a bit of a deterrent.  The other deterrent is bad weather.  It is no fun to cross a high suspension bridge in heavy rain and winds!

Fortunately, our travel day was dry. 

Since this was primarily a shopping trip, our initial destination was Uptown Gig Harbor, an outdoor shopping mall.  If you check out the store directory, you will see the stores are somewhat tailored to women ‘my age’.  And that was validated when we saw several women from my demographic as we were out and about in the shops.

A bit about shopping….

I’m tired of ordering online and returning things.  Aren’t we all!? 

It was good to actually go into a store, see and try on the merchandise.  I had a couple of things on my list I had intended to order, but wanted to check out first.  When I got to the stores and saw what I thought I wanted, it didn’t fit or I didn’t like it.  I was able to find a couple of unexpected items that did the trick and I was a happy camper, as was my companion. 

I would like to say I am going to stop shopping for clothes online, but in most cases the stores just aren’t that well stocked or well staffed.  On this particular trip we did pretty well at Chicos and a little less well at J Jill.  Talbots was a bit of a bust☹.  We were reminiscing about the Talbots of old – known for its well organized, well stocked stores, and quality merchandise.  Since that is ancient history, it is time to move on.

We both were ready for lunch and decided to venture down to the harbor and eat at Anthony’s HomePort. Anthony’s is always a reliable bet and the view of Wollochet Bay from our table was a treat!

We were home by 3 and now I wonder why I make such a big deal about going ALL THE WAY to Gig Harbor! 😊

Good Things Come to Those Who Shop Local

Melinda Lemay


P.S. Happy Birthday to my mom (1/21/1910 – 10/2/1994)



I have a MILESTONE birthday coming up in a few days. With that in mind, I found this post quite timely 😊: Lessons on Aging from my Mother and Grandmother by Elizabeth Denkel. Her grandmother was a rehearsal pianist for a ballet company and her mother was a bookkeeper.

Here is a quick summary of the lessons:

  • Don’t mention it – stop talking about aging; it’s boring
  • Why not work? – both her grandmother and mother stayed engaged in work or volunteering
  • Eat the butter – everything in moderation, even butter and cream
  • Love young people – keep up with their trials and triumphs
  • Be positive and never complain – everyone has aches and pains, enough said
  • Zest and dimes – stay interested and involved and ‘life can turn on a dime’ so don’t postpone joy
  • The power of lipstick – with lipstick on you can be ready for anything
  • Dashing over to Bloomingdales – the power of fashion never ends

When I was young, I don’t recall having ageless role models in my life.  My mom stayed working and put on lipstick every day, but that was about it. On the other hand, her older sister (lower left picture – mom is on the right and Aunt Nadine is on the left) was a ‘chick’ forever.  You can tell by the photo that she knew how to work it.  She was a widow and lived in Texas and California so I didn’t see her much.  I really got to know her when I was in my 40’s and she was in her 80’s, still a shameless flirt 😊.

I first got exposed to ageless style on a regular basis when I hooked up with my meilleur ami in 8th grade and got to know her mom and aunt. Her mom taught swimming for years.  Speaking of swimming, everyone in the family was a swimmer and it showed. Not a Saturday went by that her mom, aunt, and cousin didn’t go downtown to do a little shopping.  They definitely understood the power of fashion and the power of lipstick!

I always felt warmly welcomed when I came over and they listened to all my trials (a ticket for running a stop sign) and triumphs. I loved spending Christmas Eve with them and fondly remember their Hickory Farms beef stick and Kaukauna port wine cheese😊 (in moderation, of course). Her aunt’s daughter is following in their ageless style footsteps, as is my meilleur ami (pictured with me in the bottom right of the collage – second on the left). I learned the ‘power of lipstick’ from all of them!

I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little – if only out of politeness

Coco Chanel

It may sound ridiculous to you….but we need to be careful about allowing aging….in general…to cloud our vision…we tend to start walking more slowly and more cautiously…Just don’t forget to add a little skip to your day.




I once used the term ‘OLD SCHOOL’ in a somewhat pejorative manner.  I would call people who weren’t doing well with leadership changes, not keeping pace with technology, or just not ‘with it’, OLD SCHOOL.

I now regret both using that term and thinking that way! 

In retirement I am embracing the term OLD SCHOOL in new ways. I like this definition:

Anything that is from an earlier era and looked upon with high regard or respect

Urban dictionary

I had fun the other day coming up with my own list of my OS (OLD SCHOOL) favorites in no particular order:

  • A moleskin paper calendar – I am finally moving back to paper and letting my Google calendar go. Our daughter has also used a moleskin calendar for years.
  • Longchamp bags – still my go to bag.  I love the weight, colors, and weather resistant material
  • Cetaphil face wash – my friends and I use this reliable and gentle cleanser that works for everyone
  • Betty Crocker Cookbook – mine is from 1978 (the year we were married).  It’s had so much use the pages are falling out
  • Murchie’s tea – this Canadian company has been around since 1894 and its tea is a must buy on every trip to Canada
  • Music and movies from the 40’s – 60’s – including White Christmas and a Charlie Brown Christmas of course!

My OS list is longer, but I will stop there.  My friend would also add books on paper to her list.

I then made a list of things that are standing the test of time for me, but don’t quite qualify as OS:

The meaning of things lies not in the things themselves but in our attitude towards them.

Antoine De Saint-Exupery


Work Song

Work Song is a 2010 book by Ivan Doig about Butte, MT, but that isn’t what this post is about.  But it is about work:

work song, any song that belongs to either of two broad categories: songs used as a rhythmic accompaniment to a task and songs used to make a statement about work.

Encyclopedia Britannica

I left my long-time job in governmental public health back in 2018.  It is hard to believe that it has been 4 years!  I intended to work until I was 70, but not in a fulltime job that required a long commute.  I was super fortunate to be hired by the University of Washington to moderate a monthly public health webinar. I have been doing that for about 3 years and the time has come for me to transition out of that role.

A recent article in AARP got me thinking about ‘why to keep working after retirement’:

  1. A cushion for your savings
  2. Exercise for your brain
  3. Overall health
  4. A sense of community
  5. A sense of purpose
  6. A chance to give back
  7. Good times
  8. Serving the greater good

All 8 of these reasons resonated, but one of them really caught my eye – exercise for your brain. They talk about a particular kind of benefit by switching to a different type of job or role, which might help slow cognitive decline.

Note: Other than the financial benefit , all these are also gained through volunteering.

Most of my friends are no longer working.  But all of them are pretty darn busy and active.  I do want to call out one friend in particular.  She was a neonatal intensive care (NICU) nurse.  Her new (volunteer) role/hobby is doing household projects for herself and others, such as painting and other related activities.  She has great taste and always loved houses, so this is a good fit for her and a complete departure from her NICU days!

My post retirement gig was in my field.  While I was able to stay engaged and work with great people, I didn’t have the opportunity for ‘novelty processing’ gained by switching to a completely different job.

This prompted me to think about what I really might have wanted to do.  My passion, in addition to blogging, is COLOR!  I am completely intrigued with color analysis and love to guess people’s season and note when a color they are wearing does, or doesn’t, work for them.  It is expensive to be trained and there isn’t really a market for color analysis in the Northwest (black and neutrals rule), so I will keep it a hobby for now.


And Happy Birthday to my meilleur ami!

Packing Post Mortem

This may be my last travel post about our recent trip to Europe (or maybe not).  But I can’t be done until I talk about what I packed that worked…..or didn’t.

Just before we left, I was zooming with a friend who is a frequent overseas traveler.  She advised me to ‘pack what you love’.  Good advice that I wish I had followed.

I would probably give myself a ‘C’ on my packing this go around.  I could have done much worse, but I sure could have done better.

The weather was a bit of a challenge.  It was cool when we first arrived in Italy and then the heat came on.  By the time we left, we had a few days in the high 80’s with humidity to boot.  We ended our trip in Amsterdam which was a good 20 degrees cooler than Italy and a little rainy.

First, my coat.  I am giving it a ‘F’.  It was lightweight and packed well, but the sleeves weren’t lined.  As a result, my arms were wet every time I wore it.  I ended up leaving it at the hotel 😊.  I did bring a quilted vest which worked for the cool days on the front and back end of our trip.

I packed one too many pants and not the right ones.  I should have brought one linen pair, which would have been great for warmer days. 

My tee shirts were OK overall, except I brought 2 that I thought would work.  Mistake!  I ended up hating both because they don’t fit or look quite right.  I brought them home, but they are heading to Goodwill.

I always recommend packing clothes that wick.  I have had good luck with Zenergy crops from Chicos and packed a pair of cropped ones that I have had for years. I wore every warm day and could even wash them out in the sink.  I also brought one long sleeve and 2 short sleeve wicking tops.  I could have used more of them and less of my basic cotton ones.

Another ‘F’ was one of the pairs of shoes I brought (slip on Skechers).  I sprained my ankle wearing them and retired them immediately.  I replaced them with a pair of New Balance 574’s that I purchased in Italy and wore constantly. New Balance are a common sight on the Italian streets.  I also packed a pair of Isle Jacobsen flats and sandals and they were great for warm days.

One thing I’m glad I brought was a large, lightweight scarf made of modal.  I used it as a light blanket for naps and hot nights.  I wish I packed the satin pillowcase our daughter gave me.  It would have been perfect to keep my hair from going crazy since I wasn’t washing it daily.  I also wish I had packed the dry shampoo from her for the same reason. 

We went to the lavanderia (laundromat) twice when we were in Italy.  Each trip cost about 20 euros (about $21.50), so it isn’t a cheap date.  But we both now think it is better to wash a little more frequently than to pack too much in the first place!

Packing for a trip can be exciting. But unpacking is always depressing’. – Unknown


Zanzari Attack!

Zanzari are mosquitoes in Italian. Italian mosquitoes are very small, vicious, blood sucking beasts! And they love me!

We visited the Italian Riviera back in September 2018. We expected fall weather, but it was still a very toasty month. The Zanzari were out in force and I was eaten alive (during the time of Zika). Since that unpleasant experience we visit in the spring.

The last time we were here in Spring 2019, the temperature was mild and in the 60’s.

We visited Florence last week and the temperature that day was 84. This year, most of the time has felt like summer. And Spring 2022 turned out to be prime Italian Zanzari weather and they were waiting for me!

Fortunately, I brought Benadryl and hydrocortisone cream, which helped. But I didn’t bring mosquito repellent, so I went to a trusty pharmacy for help. Pharmacists are definitely front line care providers in Italy. The pharmacist I consulted with took one look at the lesions on my arm and recommended a product with DEET. I only get bit during the night, so I applied it before I went to bed. It was SO STRONG! So, the next day I purchased a product with Picaridin instead. It is still unpleasant, but a big improvement. Note to my fellow travelers, Italy doesn’t sell Benadryl tablets, so load up before you go!

All roads for a comfortable trip lead to packing right. We both brought too many clothes for the 60’s and hardly any for 75 degrees plus! I should have packed all summer clothes plus one cardigan for a few random chilly days at the front end of our stay. And, of course, I have clothes at home that would have worked, but they didn’t land in my suitcase! But one thing I did bring was an old fashioned hand held fan. It is a life saver!

I think with climate change, it is just too difficult to predict the weather anywhere. The Mediterranean is considered a climate change ‘hot spot’ due to pronounced warming and drying. So it is even more difficult to predict the weather here and Zanzari season and to pack accordingly!


Italians are always cold!

It is 70 sunny degrees here and, to us, it feels like summer! Italians on the other hand are still dressing as though it is a cool spring. Italians tend not to like AC and to always be chilly.

That gave me a chance to observe some Italian spring fashion, both on the streets and in shop windows. My observations are limited to Genoa and the fairly affluent Riviera town where we are staying. It has a population of about 18,000, primarily Italians (no real sign of expats), and has a large over 65 population (31%). It hasn’t been a big tourist destination, but that is quickly changing. It was very busy this weekend!

Now to my fashion observations:

First shoes– beige/navy/black sneakers are worn by people of all ages (see picture in the lower right of the collage). If they are wearing other shoes, they tend to have block heels (see picture in the upper middle of the collage). I’m seeing espadrilles (see picture on the upper left) on a few people and also in store windows. Birkenstocks are still common on women of all ages.

Now onto coats – jean jackets are common (see lower left picture), along with quilted vests and some women are still wearing quilted jackets. I also spotted a number of toppers, which are lightweight coats worn like a blazer (see upper left photo)

Pants– I am seeing very long full pants. I also spotted a fair number of women in short, flared jeans with sneakers (see lower middle picture). Ankle pants are still around, but I haven’t seen many older women in skinny jeans. I did see some women on the street today in shorts, which I haven’t seen before.

Handbags– cross body bags are common, along with totes in various fabrics

Athleisure– only for hiking or running. I have seen a number of younger girls in knee length Adidas shorts.

Hair – while a lot of older women are still blonde, I am seeing much more gray hair than in past years

Colors – neutrals are still a big part of what people are wearing on the streets, but I saw some printed tops and lots of bright colors for summer in the store windows.

My favorite look so far is the women in the upper right hand corner of the collage. She is a head to toe match with her dog. You can’t see her handbag or sneakers in the pic, but they are a perfect match as well!

We are going to Florence next week, so I may have more fashion news later.

Reporting from the Italian Riviera,


And on a somewhat unrelated note, I see why Italian women rarely wash their hair. The water is hard and makes my hair like straw – 😒 not a good look!


I have a love/HATE relationship with jeans – intentional emphasis on HATE.  But more on that later.

My favorite blogger, Susan B., recently returned from Europe. She spent time in Milan, Paris, and London. She also spent a fair amount of time in the Italian countryside.  She shared her packing list in advance.  IMO, she took too many jeans. She only brought one pair of pants that weren’t jeans.  She is always very well put together, but I thought all the jeans didn’t quite work.   In a recent Instagram post, she said she had ‘hit the wall’ with denim jeans. When she looked at her travel photos, she felt that her jeans looked too casual.

Having been to Europe, specifically Italy, I have observed that jeans are increasingly being worn by women of all ages.  But they still aren’t that common on women 60+ and usually not worn every day.  I do see them more frequently in smaller towns and villages, but not that often in the cities.

We have some Italian friends our age who live in Florence.  I think I have spotted jeans on one of them, once!  It is more common to see Italian women dressed monochromatically and wearing casual slim leg ankle pants, but not jeans. Mireille Guiliano, of French Women fame, also choses not to wear jeans.

That being said, jeans are definitely common on the younger Italian women I have observed (along with pearl stud earrings).

This brings me back to the U.S.

My Montana girlfriends wear jeans most of the time. They look great in them.  Jeans are appropriate there for virtually every occasion.  Depending on the venue, jeans even show up at Montana weddings and funerals.  Jeans on women, regardless of age, are certainly common in the western U.S.

Now back to me. 

While I like jeans on my friends (and my husband), I don’t like them on me.  I have a heck of a time finding a pair that fit right and don’t bag out. And I don’t find them very comfortable. I have one pair that I don’t actually hate (and that is high praise, indeed)! I will definitely pack ONE pair of jeans (that I don’t hate) for our next trip to Europe.  They will be the ticket for certain, but not all, situations.

While this isn’t true for me, I know this quote is true for many of you:

Jeans are always a good idea.


So I guess it is a good thing we don’t live in Montana. I would have nothing to wear!


Making Do

to manage to live without things that you would like to have or with things of a worse quality than you would like

Cambridge Dictionary

I grew up ‘making do’.  I usually had the things I wanted, but often with a ‘worse quality’ than I would have liked.  I frequently tell the story of getting a Babette doll instead of the Barbie doll I wanted for Christmas. On Etsy, she is even called a ‘Barbie clone”. Babette probably cost a dollar less at the time and to me she was never Barbie ☹!

The neighbor girl across the street got Barbie which made it even worse. Fortunately, my first friend also got Babette which softened the blow.

As an adult, I still have a bit of a Babette mind set.  I have plenty of things, but I often skimp on the quality side.

I am trying to get rid of things and only keep or purchase items that are of higher quality. 

Enter my current obsession!

A cold winter is in the forecast this year and it is darn chilly today.  I don’t think I have the right clothes to see me through the winter months.  I don’t like sweatshirts on me so I have been on a quest for sweaters that aren’t bulky and can be machine washed and dried.  So far, no luck!

I was going down the ‘worse quality’ path and I remembered my goal of not adding to my wardrobe, particularly anything that can be classified as fast fashion.  The environment and my closet don’t need more fast fashion.

So, how will I stay warm?  I am digging out my silk underwear and (MANY) handmade cowls. I am also reminding myself that I do have a washer and dryer. Maybe I can ‘make do’ and manage to live without the sweater(s) I would like to have this winter…..just this once!

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Theodore Roosevelt



October is my favorite month.  I love the weather (when it isn’t raining ☹) – clear skies, crisp air, the fall colors.

Speaking of colors, according to ‘Color Me Beautiful’, my best colors are autumn colors.  So, I wear my favorite colors all year around.

October is also a kaleidoscope of events with both good and sad memories. 

Forgive me if I start the month in late September:

  • September 28 – our wedding anniversary
  • October 2 – my mom and my mother-in-law both died (different years)
  • October 4 – our daughter was born
  • October 5 – my husband’s birthday and my parent’s wedding anniversary
  • October 12 – my first friend’s birthday, along with our son-in-law’s
  • October 13 – another son-in-law’s birthday
  • October 30 – my dad died

To commemorate all these October events, I wear an opal ring all month long (pictured above).  Opals are the birthstone for October.

I always like to look up the ‘properties’ of the stones I wear.  Opals are a goldmine in that regard. But the property I am focusing on this October is:

In physical healing, the Opal Stone is believed to be flushed with health. This gem can help to treat infections and lower fevers along with boosting the immune system. Sounds like a good bet with COVID-19 still in the mix!

One of the ways I am honoring my favorite month is by going ‘forest bathing’ with my first friend later this week to celebrate her October birthday. We always have a lot of memories to share.

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


Happy Birthday to our darling daughter!