TRAVELING LIGHT v. HEAVY

I’m off to Hawaii today. 

My suitcase is pretty well packed. My INTENTION was to pack lightly.  My reality is always quite different.  While I am (by some miracle) fitting everything into my carry-on suitcase, it would take a forklift to get it into the overhead bin😊.  So I am checking my bag and hoping for the best.  I did activate a Galaxy Smart Tag so I can track my bag and see if it makes it on the plane.  What will I do if it doesn’t?  I will have a miserable flight worrying about what I am going to do.  There really isn’t a good solution to this conundrum☹.

I came across a post recently: Lifestyle Goes Mainstream as Boomers Embrace Minimalism. Apparently the generation that created consumerism is trying to go in the opposite direction.

The trend towards minimalism, to travel light, and to pare down our possessions to only what we need, love, and will use is the natural offshoot of the wisdom gained from years of overindulging and overspending. 

Rita Wilkins

I would love to say I am a light traveler!  While I do try, paring down on all fronts is a challenge for me.  That is particularly true when it comes to packing. 

A number of years ago, my meilleur ami and I bought a book for our daughters: Things I Want My Daughters to Know . It was written by Alexandra Stoddard, an early lifestyle guru.  One of the chapters in the book is ‘Travel Heavy’.  Her theory is that when traveling, you will be happiest when you are prepared.  She recommends bringing whatever you might envision you will need. She argues that traveling heavy reduces anxiety.

Considering life’s brevity, we should travel abundantly with great enthusiasm.

Peter Megargee Brown

Note: this book was published in 2007, well before our current epidemic of lost luggage!

While I envy ‘carry-on only’ people, that probably isn’t going to be me for trips longer than a few days.  I am trying to find the sweet spot between traveling light and traveling heavy.  Wish me luck!

I won’t be posting for a bit, but will share my travel adventures when I return.

Allene

P.S. The picture in the collage is of Betty White enjoying 2 of her favorite things – French fries and Diet Coke! Cheers to finding the pleasure in simplicity, traveling or not!

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A SHORT HOP TO THE HARBOR

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

Allene

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

22 IN MY REAR VIEW

In my younger days, I used to obsess over New Year’s resolutions.  I wrote each one down in detail.  In hindsight, I had far more resolutions than I could ever begin to manage and they quickly went by the wayside (usually by mid January).

I usually don’t spend much time reflecting on the past year, but I came across this post about taking a personal retreat in December.

I was somewhat intrigued and decided to do a ‘retreat lite’.  But before I do that, I want to reflect a bit on our world as 2022 comes to a close.

We’ve had heat domes, smoke events, ice storms, and killer winter storms.  COVID has waxed, waned, and is waxing again.  Gas prices went up and seem to be going down. The stock market is a daily mystery.  And then there were multiple mass shootings and the list goes on and on!

Of particular note:

  • The courage of President Zelensky and the people of Ukraine
  • Speaking of courage, the courage of Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, to defy most of their party and stand up for democracy by serving on the January 6th Committee
  • Speaking of democracy, the results of the midterm elections were reassuring
  • Speaking of the midterm elections, the humble and hardworking Patty Murray was elected to her 6th term in the U.S. Senate
  • And finally, passage of the Respect for Marriage Act

Former Sunday School teacher here. Protecting marriage equality isn’t a threat to anyone’s religious liberty – it’s about our government treating every citizen with equal dignity.

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Now back to my ‘personal retreat’.  The categories suggested in the post are: finances, heart, soul, health, travel, personal, family, community, home, and work.  Since I’m doing the light version, I am going to review travel, family/friends, books, and health😊.

Travel:

We finally did some traveling this year!  We went to Kauai in March, the Netherlands and Italy in May, Montana in June, Vancouver, BC in September, I went to Vail in September, and we made it to Victoria, B.C. in December.  

Family and Friends:

We saw all our grandchildren, except our oldest (age 21) at least once.  We were able to catch up with our daughters and their husbands too.  Everyone is just really busy! I saw almost all my Montana girlfriends at least once.  And I was able to catch up with my work friends.  My first friend and I have a monthly lunch/walk date that we keep faithfully.  And I am happy to note I made a new friend, one of my goals for 2022.

Books:

I read up a storm this year.  I just counted and I read 114 books in 2022: 49 of those along with my Montana Mystery Zoomers.  I read the Agatha Christies’ Tommy and Tuppence series and all her personal favorites among the many books she wrote over the years. 

Health:

I just celebrated my 70th birthday and this hasn’t been a bad year in the health arena.  I have lost 22# pounds over the past 12 months and recently had a normal cardiac stress test.  My recent endoscopy was also normal.  My only real set back is my diagnosis of macular degeneration.  I walk every day, but boy is it hard to get in the routine of picking up weights for a little strength training.  And my meditation practice is hit or miss.  So far, we are COVID free (that we know of), but the last holdouts seem to be dropping so I’m not holding my breath. 

Thanks for indulging me on my ‘retreat light’ and thanks for taking the time to read my posts.

I’ll see in you in 2023.

Happy New Year!

Allene

ALL WILL BE WELL

This declaration that “all manner of thing shall be well” does not eliminate misfortune, sickness, or death. It is pointing to what all the respected wise ones say about the ability to find peace, and even joy, in the eye of the storm — to come to trust that there is something that transcends chaos and impermanence.

Julian of Norwich

I first heard this saying in a Louise Penny book: The Madness of Crowds.  In that book, the phrase was used in Canada during the pandemic as an affirmation.  It was used again in her recent book: A World of Curiosities, during a particularly tense home invasion. 

This declaration was put to the test during our recent ice storm.  One of our dear friends was stranded at SeaTac airport enroute to see her family in Eugene, OR.  Her flight was canceled and she was stuck, as were thousands of other people.

She was able to reach us and found a cab to bring her our way to spend the night and come up with a new plan.  Due to the weather, all flights were canceled and rebooking wasn’t in the cards.  The trains were fully booked long ago. She tried rental car companies, and most had no cars available or were not willing to rent for a one-way trip.  Moreover, the roads were pretty scary and driving would have been a white-knuckle experience ☹!

My husband came up with the idea for her to take the Greyhound bus (!) from Tacoma to Eugene.  She was able to grab one of the last 2 seats.  Before I go further, I want to reassure you that she was at her daughter’s home in Eugene by 2:00 AM Christmas Eve 😊.

I must admit that, at 70, I never expected to put one of my closest friends on a Greyhound bus! But it was the only game in town.

We had quite a 24-hour adventure and a lot of fun in the process.  We drank tea, talked up a storm and watched Love Actually.  My husband made an amazing beef stew and she had a bowl before heading to the Greyhound bus stop.  We kept our sense of humor and made the most of this unexpected time together.

I think one of her lessons learned was to bring a power bank to keep her electronics charged.  Amazingly, the bus had outlets so she was set! 

And here are my lessons learned:

  • Turn my phone on – you never know when a friend or family member might need help
  • Keep fresh sheets on the guest bed
  • Have good food in the house so we can whip up something for an unexpected guest

And we both learned that ‘All will be well’ 😊

I know many people are traveling in challenging conditions this weekend.  Hopefully, everyone will stay safe and have a good friend to call if they get in a jam.

Merry Christmas,

Allene

SIX HOURS IN VICTORIA

We just returned from a quick trip to the Olympic Peninsula and a short getaway to Victoria, B.C.

I went to Victoria a few times in my younger years.  My parents took me there on the Princess Marguerite in 1962.  My meilleur ami and I also sailed on the Princess Marguerite to Victoria with some other friends just before we started college.  Here is a link to an article with memories of that ship.

I remember Victoria from those days as a quaint town with ‘British vibes’.  There were several shops selling fine china and other imported goods from the British Isles.

My husband and I rediscovered Victoria when we moved to Port Angeles, WA in 1979.  The Hood Canal Bridge collapsed earlier that year, cutting off the main route to Seattle.  We took various ferries to go to Seattle, but it was quite a journey.  That is when we started taking the MV Coho ferry to Victoria.  The Coho has been sailing since 1959 and it is a 90-minute ride across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Victoria became my urban lifeline.

Since moving away from Port Angeles, we hadn’t been to Victoria for a number of years.  We  ‘rediscovered’ it last year.  This is our third trip.  Victoria isn’t the quaint British town of my earlier memories.  It has it shares of touristy shops with mass produced merchandise.  But it still has some charming features.

Our travel weather was perfect: crisp, clear, and a little cold.  We embarked on the MV Coho at 8:20 AM and were in Victoria by 10 AM.

Some highlights from our short stay:

And no trip to Victoria would be complete without a stop at the venerable Empress Hotel.  It was very festive for the holidays and we had to finish our journey with a martini made with Empress 1908 gin (highly recommended).

We were back in Port Angeles by 5:30 P.M.  and both of us thought it was a perfect holiday getaway! We love Canada!

Canadians are more polite when they are being rude than Americans are when they are being friendly.

Edgar Friedenberg

Allene

‘PEARLS OF WISDOM’

Yes, you can argue that I have been 70 for all of 3 full days, but I’m the first in my Montana crowd to hit the 7th decade.  I do have 4 friends hot on my tail, but I’m first and can share my 70-year-old ‘wisdom’, such as it is! 😊

First, my birthday weekend was amazing!  My Montana stepdaughter and our 2 grandsons flew to Seattle on Friday.  We picked them up and met up with Santa at Nordstrom, cruised through Pike Place Market and then had a late lunch at Uwajimaya in the International District.  It is our 16-year-old grandson’s favorite stop and he LOVES their Poke.

Our daughter, her husband, and our grand dog, Herbie, joined the party on Friday night. On Saturday, my husband took the boys to the Pt Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, since our 10-year-old grandson LOVES live fish. We then gathered at Duke’s on the Tacoma waterfront for a late lunch.

Saturday night turned into the celebration, mainly because my husband picked up my gluten free lemon birthday cake from Corinna’s bakery that day and I couldn’t wait to try it!

The snow fell hard on Sunday (my birthday), which is one of the reasons my Oregon stepdaughter and her family couldn’t make it for the day.  But my celebration continued with gifts, pork carnitas, and a Seahawks victory.

The Montana crew flew out on Monday morning and our daughter also returned to Portland.

I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend!  It was such a gift to have our daughter, her husband, my stepdaughter and our grandsons all here to celebrate! And Herbie was a great addition!

And then, I came down with a bug.  It is my first respiratory illness since COVID came along.  Fortunately, my PCR is negative and I am well vaxxed on all fronts. Time for lots of tea and naps to boot.

Now, here are my pearls of wisdom as I enter my 7th decade…..

People are most important – my husband, my family, and my friends both old and new

Never taking health for granted– I’m late to the ‘taking care of my health’ game and that is a big regret!  I needed to eat less, drink less, and move more through the years.  Here’s hoping it isn’t too late to stem the tide, even a little

The importance of having just enough – We need enough resources to take care of our needs (a new water heater, new air conditioner, and a recent unexpected car repair), as well as some of our wants (travel).  As my first friend says, she can have (almost) anything she wants, but not everything she wants.  Those are wise words!

In closing, since I intend to remain ‘cool long into my 70’s, I’m going with this quote from one of my birthday cards:

Turning 70 used to be something old people did. Now, apparently, it’s something cool people do.

N.O.D.

Cheers to 70 years!

Allene

GOODS & SERVICES

The problems with the supply chain for goods has been discussed ad nauseum. It looks like the issues are slowly resolving, at least to my eye.  Stores seem to have an abundance of marginal merchandise these days.

At my age, goods have become less important than services, with some notable exceptions!

Our water heater recently stopped working.  It didn’t die a gradual death, it was quick 😊.  So, we needed a new water heater ASAP.  We checked in with our trusty HVAC provider to get fixed up.

His response:

We don’t have the manpower to install water heaters.

Jesse, Sunset Air

Fortunately, he had an alternative vendor in mind and they quickly fixed us up (for an arm and a leg).  We knew that water heater replacement wasn’t a DIY project and needed a skilled worker to do the job.  Ours is gas and he had to change out all the fixtures to meet current building and safety codes.  He did a great job and we are happy.

But the point is, skilled workers are increasingly scarce and we need them!

There are many examples of a lack of workers in retail.  My friend recently went to Macy’s. The store was a mish mash of unrelated merchandise and there was no one who could assist her.  I have been there as well and it is tough to even find a staffed register for check out. And we all know of restaurants with reduced hours due to a lack of staff.

When I was working, I vowed to not go out to eat/shop during the noon hour or at 5.  I wanted to leave that time for working people who had no alternative.  When I go out to eat these days at 1 or later, the places are often packed with ‘working age’ people.  I’m not sure if they have jobs with very flexible schedules or???? 

I truly don’t know what happened to the workforce during the pandemic. 

I just know that there aren’t enough skilled workers out there to provide the services we need or will need, such as:

  • Caregivers
  • Mechanics
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Carpenters
  • Retail
  • Food service
  • And the list goes on!

It is kind of scary to contemplate the future!

A skilled worker, regardless of the job description, remains a treasure.

Madeleine M. Kunin

Allene

KEEP TACOMA FEARED – PROCTOR DISTRICT

We lived in Pierce County (home of Tacoma) in the 1980’s.  At that time, Tacoma was known for crime, particularly in certain parts of the city.  We moved to California in 1991.

Note: I don’t know if the crime data at the time really supported Tacoma’s reputation but, unfortunately, perception = reality ☹.

We moved back to Pierce County in 2008 and found a whole new vibe, particularly in certain Tacoma neighborhoods.  The slogan: ‘Keep Tacoma Feared’ was bandied about to stop an influx of newcomers moving into our ‘special place’.

One of our favorite haunts in Tacoma is the Proctor District in North Tacoma. It is a great mix of older well restored homes, shops and restaurants, with a small movie theater, a farmer’s market, and some apartments.  It is a perfect place for a walk to enjoy the fall colors.

We usually head there every week or so and here are some favorites:

  • Metropolitan Market – a regional market with great produce, seafood, meats, and a deli.  We are particularly enamored with their house made salmon patties and cioppino.
  • Proctor’s Farmers Market – a small market with lots of fresh stuff in season.  My favorite is corn roasted empanadas for brunch or lunch.
  • Top Pot doughnuts – also part of a regional chain.  The maple old fashioned is 😊.
  • Browne’s Tasting Room – their wines are a real treat and they offer some interesting flights in their cozy tasting room.
  • Restaurants – Cactus ( a southwest style menu with good appetizers and drinks), Pomodoro (Italian food that gets great reviews),  Viva (a vegan restaurant that gets good reviews from my vegan friend), and Crudo and Cotto (good Happy Hour and house wines). A little farther afield, we like the Rosewood Café for lunch, and Cook’s Tavern for breakfast.  Some of these have been a bit hit and miss during the pandemic but are fortunately surviving! There are a number of other restaurants in the area, but these are the ones I have either tried or are recommended by my friends.

There are other places worth exploring in the area and the University of Puget Sound campus is nearby.

It’s not necessary to go far and wide. I mean, you can really find exciting and inspiring things within your hometown.

Daryl Hanna

Generally, I try not to envy people. But two of my friends live in the Proctor district and I am green with envy 😊!

Allene

CALL THE ELECTRICIAN

I have a friend who knows how to paint, repair, and update a number of things around her home (and mine).  She loves doing it, has excellent attention to detail, and the results are outstanding!  When I ask her about changing out light fixtures, she is clear that she doesn’t attempt anything electrical and that is the time to ‘call the (expert) electrician’. 

Note: She does happens to be an expert in caring for sick babies after her long career as a Neonatal ICU nurse.

My meilleurs ami is a long-time reading literacy coach.  She has trained schoolteachers across the country on reading programs and best practices for improving student reading skills.  She is who I call about anything education or reading related.  Like an electrician with anything electrical, she is also an expert in her field when it comes to reading literacy.

I used to fancy myself a public health expert, but that is no longer true.  I haven’t worked in public health daily for over 4 years and it is time to call the real experts about current public health issues.

I’ve been thinking about how important it is to know our own limitations and when to call in the experts on a variety of health issues.

As a nurse, I am quite fond of ‘diagnosing’ myself and others.  But even though I may delay a little too long, I usually know when a call to my internist, the expert, is in order. 

I think we are even more reluctant to get help from experts for behavioral health issues. Maybe it was how our generation was raised by often stoic parents? I think my mom would have benefited from anti-depressants (and her being treated would have helped me growing up).

Behavioral health is an area where many of us, me included, are reluctant to acknowledge our vulnerabilities. There are times when self help books, personality tests, meditation, prayer, and supportive family/friends just aren’t enough to do the trick. Instead it may be time for behavioral health experts (mental health providers, counselors, physicians, etc.).

I know this first hand. I spent years as a terrified flyer!  I had a prescription for Xanax to help with my anxiety, but I finally reached the point where my fear stopped me from getting on a plane.  I finally got expert help and attended a ‘fear of flying’ clinic at the airport in San Francisco.  The clinic had a counselor, pilots, maintenance people, air traffic controllers, and other experts. My graduation in 1999 was a round trip flight from San Francisco.  My fear didn’t disappear overnight, but I had the tools I needed to fly again.  I just wish I had gotten expert help sooner. While I am no longer a fearful flyer, I still use the deep breathing and progressive relaxation techniques I learned at the clinic to manage anxiety, like having a dental procedure.

Speaking of anxiety, I’m delighted that routine anxiety screening is now recommended for anyone under 65 so people can get expert help if needed.

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

George Bernard Shaw

And for you Brené Brown fans:

 “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

Brené Brown

Allene

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