It is time for Friluftsliv!

This post is inspired by my friend, KJ.

We were chatting the other day.  She told me about a farewell party for a friend of hers at a local restaurant.  She went into the restaurant and, while it was far from full, she immediately felt uncomfortable indoors and ordered her meal ‘to go’.  She and her friends have decided to brave the outdoors, regardless of the weather.  They are talking about bundling up by fire pits and investing in outdoor heaters. An important part of this story is that she lives in Montana and her weather on Saturday was snowy with a high of 18 and a low of -4.

Enter Friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv)

It is the Norwegian tradition of celebrating time outdoors, regardless of the weather.  Here is an article from National Geographic with more information.  And here is another good one.

 As you know from my blogs, I have a fascination with all things Nordic.  And while my father’s family immigrated from Norway, nobody would describe me as the outdoorsy type.  I hate to camp.  But I do like being outside.  And with the pandemic, outdoors is the place to hang out.

My friend, MC, and I hung out at a local park on Saturday AM.  And while we weren’t in Montana weather, it was only in the 40’s which is pretty chilly here for October.  We took a walk and grabbed some hot coffee to warm us up. So we practiced Friluftsliv light!

Even with a pandemic, we can spend time outdoors with friends if we are dressed appropriately.  As the Scandinavians say, there is no bad weather, only bad clothing!  So this could be our ‘shoppertunity’ for outdoor gear – coats, gloves, hats, scarves, socks, shoes and fire pits!

But before I close, I do have to admit to envying my friends who live in CA and AZ.  Being outdoors for them during the winter months is pretty much a no brainer.

The pandemic is so isolating and hanging out with friends outdoors can be the ticket to keep us going, regardless of the weather!

Head outside with a friend, partner or pet and I will see you on Wednesday,



‘Apple’ Gen

As this pandemic wears on and the social changes continue, I have been thinking about the Millennials (born 1981-96) and Gen Z (born 1997-2012) generations.

I found a couple of interesting articles about millennials. One is from the Business Insider about the industries millennials are ‘killing’.  And here is another one with the millennial kill list.  

Here are a few things on the millennial ‘kill list’:

  • Costco (order online instead)
  • Beer (prefer cocktails or wine)
  • Wine corks (screw tops preferred)
  • Napkins (use paper towels)
  • Cable and movie theaters (stream instead)
  • Department stores (online instead)
  • Landlines
  • Business suits
  • Golf (our Gen Z grandson does not agree)
  • Hotels (Airbnb or adventure travel instead)
  • Motorcycles
  • Doorbells (text when you arrive instead)
  • Postcards (this makes me very sad; I love postcards)
  • Cereal (too messy)
  • Beef (too expensive and bad for the environment)
  • Banks

I am sure most industries are already aware of the upcoming sea change.  I also know that Millennials aren’t all alike any more than boomers are, but I still thought it was pretty interesting reading.  I imagine this list might apply to Gen Z somewhat as well. As a baby boomer, we were the last generation to have such a profound effect on the culture. And now here come what I call the Apple Gen – millennials and Gen Z.

I’ve been interested in the Apple vs. Android debate.  I am an Android user, but I think Apple is the future.  While Android has most of the worldwide market, Apple is big in the US, particularly with millennials and Gen Z. I found another blog that illustrates this. The younger the user, the more likely they are to have Apple products.  Our grandson (Gen Z) frequently asks me ‘when I am going to get an I-Phone?’  I also asked our granddaughter (Gen Z) about her classmates in middle and high school.  Virtually every student has a smart phone.  A few have Android (less expensive), but the vast majority have I-Phones.

I have used both but gravitate to Android because I am more familiar with it.  But I also know that most of my boomer friends use I Phones.  It is hard to believe that I-Phones were invented during Gen Z (June 2007)!

I am more familiar with Android so keep buying Samsung and I bet ‘Apple Gen‘ will keep buying I-Phones because that is what they are familiar with. Our grandson may be right, it might be time for grandma to get an I-Phone (too bad I just renewed my Samsung contract)!

I am borrowing Kim Shrier’s campaign slogan: wear a mask, get a flu shot, and VOTE!

See you on Friday!


Seattle…in transition

We decided to brave downtown Seattle on Saturday.  We haven’t been downtown since early February.  And so much has changed since then and will continue to change. 

It was kind of a gloomy day, which probably added to my gloom.  Most of the parking garages are closed, but we found a spot at Pacific Place.  Pacific Place is an upscale downtown indoor mall.  I don’t know what the mall capacity is, but only FOUR stores were open today (lululemon, Aveda, AT&T and L’Occitane).  It had a pretty cavernous feel.

From there, we walked down to the Pike Place Market.  There were more signs of life there.  We got in line at La Panier for some fantastic French pastries.  We weren’t alone in line.  A lot of people had the same idea.

From there, we walked to our favorite restaurant, Etta’s Seafood.  I knew Ettas was closed, but I wanted a picture.  Another Tom Douglas restaurant is next door and it was open.  And Tom Douglas was standing outside!  I asked him if I could take his photo and he insisted on a selfie with me.  He is shaking his head about the current situation and really misses all of his staff. He has 10 restaurants in Seattle and 3 are open.

We walked through the market which was pretty lively.  Not like a typical Saturday, but there were people wandering through.  Some of the vendors were there and we got some good photos of the last flowers of summer.

We then walked through the ghost town that was downtown.  Most of the stores still have boards on their windows from the summer protests.  Many of them are closed, but a handful are open.  We went into the flagship Nordstrom for a look around.  There were people and merchandise.  Again, it wasn’t as busy as a typical Saturday, but it could have been worse.

For more photos of today’s ‘adventure’, check out travelswithallene on Instagram.

I have to take a paragraph to talk about people who are unhoused and spend time on the downtown streets.  I imagine some of them are mentally ill and outbursts are frequent. This is nothing new, but it is one more deterrent to shoppers and others who might still be willing to give downtown a try.

No one has a crystal ball right now, least of all me.  I do imagine that downtown Seattle will come back in some form.  It always does.  But I don’t think we are going to be rewinding the tape to 2019 anytime soon.  I think many of the changes are here to stay. Who knows what will emerge in the after times?

On that cheery note, see you on Wednesday,


Indoor Malls – End of an Era?

I went to Tacoma Mall this week to pick up a few things.  Tacoma Mall was pretty marginal and struggling to ‘reinvent itself’ before COVID.  I think a number of malls are in re-invention mode. But it is looking like it this one is on its last leg!

The volume of foot traffic at the mall is gradually increasing but it is far from bustling.  Like I have noted before, the only busy business is the Apple Store.

I used to enjoy shopping at a mall as a pastime.  But another reason to go bricks and mortar is the ability to browse through a variety of merchandise and to try things on.  Neither are possible right now at Tacoma Mall. There are a lot of empty storefronts. Nordstrom has very little merchandise.  Macy’s has stuff, but it isn’t displayed very well.  And you can’t try things on at Macys!  So, I bought some things to try on at home and will need to return them.  This is now an errand that I dread.

On a side note, I was in the shoe department at Nordstrom at about 2 PM.  A guy who works in their café came down to chat with a buddy working in shoes.  I overheard him say that they had sold only $25 worth of food in the last hour.  I doubt that is very sustainable business model!

In all fairness, I haven’t been to Bellevue Square since the pandemic.  It is the flagship of the indoor mall fleet in the Puget Sound.  I don’t know how it is doing.  It might be faring better due to the variety of stores and the far more upscale environment.

I am not sure how even outdoor malls are going to weather the COVID storm. My husband went to University Village just after school started at UW (pictured above).  It was a beautiful, sunny day and the mall was far from buzzing.  But I do think the outdoor malls are going to fare a bit better because people may feel more comfortable in an open-air environment. Outdoor malls just aren’t that plentiful in the northwest due to our rainy weather.

I can’t help but think that COVID is going to hasten the demise of most indoor malls, particularly the marginal ones.  They were already struggling to compete with online shopping.  And if they can’t offer a wide variety of merchandise for one stop shopping, I am not sure people are going to make the trip, even die-hard shoppers like me!

King County COVID 19 data over the past 14 days (as of 10/14):

  • Positive tests – 2063 (2.4% positivity rate; up .1% over last week)
  • Hospitalizations – 60
  • Deaths – 20

Between September 11 and October 13, the University of Washington confirmed infections in 242 students belonging to 10 sororities and 7 fraternities.  The UW is considering a ‘harsher’ response to the Greek system.  And all this is while the Seattle Public Schools are operating remotely.  I certainly see why parents of school age (K-12) children are frustrated!

With new worries that we are having a resurgence of COVID 19, please stay the course by wearing a mask, physical distancing, avoiding crowds and washing your hands.

See you on Monday!


3 of Cups

I am ever so slightly into Tarot cards.  Every now and then a card strikes a chord.  The 3 of Cups does that for me.  If you go online, you will find a lot of interpretations for this card.  My favorite one is from Galaxy Tone Tarot cards:

Three of Cups means friendship, celebration, fun, ritual.  It is time to rejoice in your friendships and indicates that you have friends who truly care about and support you’.

The reason I like this interpretation is the ritual aspect. It speaks to me about how important and meaningful rituals with friends are.

Prior to COVID 19, I had a number of rituals with my friends.  We would schedule happy hours (Steilacoom, anyone?), try cider flights at Locust, meet for movies at the Grand, connect for a little shopping, have coffee in certain spots and meet for lunch.  At times, we would even hop on a flight to meet up.

One of my favorite rituals has been 1-2 times a year trips to Portland by train with 3 friends from work. We have a very specific itinerary and chose not to change it up much because it worked well for us! One of our rituals is to do a face mask and drink a glass before bedtime. Who knew that our 2019 definition of face masks would shift so dramatically in 2020!

Obviously, most of those exact rituals have gone away since March.  Our trip to Portland and flying have definitely gone by the wayside for now. But, I am happy to report that we have managed to modify many of our favorite activities, not all, but some. 

Instead of restaurants or bars, we meet in each other’s back yards for cider flights or lunch at a favorite park. We look for spots where we can enjoy our coffee outside. No luck on figuring out a movie plan (cue Netflix) and nobody is hopping on a flight, but we have hopped in the car for a 7 hour drive. But still, we are figuring out how to safely connect outdoors.  Living in the northwest, the outdoors is a limited field during the rainy season.  So we will need to continue to improvise. 

Enter ZOOM.  One of my favorite weekly rituals is having a glass with my Montana friends.  We are pretty faithful about our weekly schedule.  I am also zooming with my Steilacoom crew.  We decided to start a monthly check in and try out a new cocktail recipe each time.  On Monday we are each making a Apple Cinnamon Whiskey Smash to welcome fall. And instead of meeting for lunch, ZOOM tea is an option.

Now is my time to rejoice in these friendships and know that I have friends who truly care about me and each other!

See you on Friday,


It’s Diarist Time

What is a diarist? It’s a person who writes a diary.

I recently read The Splendid and the Vile and, to be redundant, it was splendid!  One of the interesting things about this book about the London Blitz was how Erik Larson used information from diaries throughout his book.

Starting in 1937, people in England volunteered to keep diaries for a project called ‘Mass Observation’. Here is a great article in Time Magazine that describes this in detail.  These diaries left an invaluable record as to what life was like in England during WW 2.

Diarists basically noted on a regular basis what was going on in their lives from the mundane to the sublime.  They went shopping, had tea, the air raid sirens went off, they went to a bomb shelter, they had more tea. 

Here we are in 2020 during the largest pandemic in 100 years.  It has been likened to the London Blitz in many ways. 

Back in April, the New York times wrote an article suggesting we all keep a Coronavirus diary as a way of helping us make sense about what is happening and to look back on when this is in our rear view mirror (thanks JLMH for the tip). Instead of calling them diaries, they can be called ‘jottings’.  That works for me.

I know some people keep journals on a regular basis.  I don’t happen to be one of them but I do faithfully keep a calendar and have for years.  After reading the NYT article, I am doing more than just writing down my ZOOM meetings/ cocktail parties.  I am including where I went each day, what I did, what I had for dinner and my wine consumption (😊)! I also write down what books I am reading or listening to and what I am watching on the screen. I note any major changes in the COVID landscape, as well.

Thanks to our daughter who has used one for years, I find my Moleskin Weekly Planner works just fine.  I prefer the soft sided version, but the hard sided one has more cover options.  One side of the page is a space for each day and the other side is just a lined page.  It is perfect for my ‘jottings’. 

And if, heaven forbid, I am diagnosed with COVID 19, I can easily retrace my steps and see who might have been in close contact with me.

So, think about taking up ‘jotting’ and I will see you on Wednesday.


Happy birthday to my first friend and to two of our son-in-laws!

Cavalier about COVID

How many times have we all heard something to the effect of ‘if I get COVID, I get it’ or ‘its no worse than if I get the flu’ or……..?

Those sentiments don’t work for me, because it is not about you! 

This is not a self-limiting disease.  If you get COVID, you may or may not survive, but you can pass it on to people you care about or people caring for you. They are the COVID innocent bystanders.  I assume most of them don’t have the same cavalier attitude you do about getting sick and potentially dying or infecting their loved ones.  And they may not enjoy the same access to high quality health care either. I seriously doubt the families of the over 211,000 Americans who have died from COVID 19 so far are cavalier about this deadly disease.  All of them are grieving and probably didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones properly.

Mask wearing and other measures have finally given us some semblance of freedom to engage in our normal activities and to safely reopen our economy.   I am concerned about the upcoming elections and ‘pandemic fatigue’ and that we will also become cavalier about wearing facial coverings, physical distancing, and hand washing.  It is important to remember that these measures are a two-way street.  They protect me and they protect you. 

I posted about my recent trip to Hood River in OR.  We crossed the Columbia to WA and then back to OR.  Both states are led by governor’s who aren’t cavalier about COVID.  The rules are pretty much the same in both states and the consistent safety measures we observed were welcome and gave us some freedom to travel.

On a related note, the flu is nothing to be cavalier about either.  During the last flu season, as many as 62,000 died from the flu and it’s complications. But unlike COVID, there is a vaccine.  So get it!

Keep up all the COVID prevention measures, get your flu shot if you haven’t done so already, and have a good weekend.

See you on Monday,


COVID 19 in King County over the past two weeks (as of 10/7/20)

  • Positive tests – 1791; 2.3% of tests (up .3% from last week’s post)
  • Hospitalizations – 59 (up 19 from last week)
  • Deaths – 15 (up 11 from last week)

There is an ongoing COVID 19 outbreak on Greek Row near the U.W, with over 200 infections in 15 fraternities and sororities.  It is tough to get college kids to play ball with masks and physical distancing, and to limit gatherings. I also heard from a nurse at a local hospital that they are already pretty full with a variety of patients.  It could quickly become a hospital capacity issue if COVID cases needing hospitalization continue to increase.

4 influenza pandemics, COVID 19 and counting

My first friend has a dear friend named Mary (pictured above). She is 103.  They have coffee together most weeks.  My friend told me a little bit about Mary.

Mary has survived 4 influenza pandemics, COVID 19 and a host of other life changing events and has done so with remarkable spirit and resilience.

Mary was born during WW1 and was a toddler during the Spanish flu pandemic.  She grew up during the Great Depression and married during WW II.  She was widowed with three children at age 50 and joined the workforce. 

Mary lived in her own home until she was 99.  She walked to the store almost daily, cooked, cleaned her apartment, and walked to all her appointments or rode the bus.  She’s had two hip replacements, one at 88 and the other at 92. She outlived most of her friends and siblings.  Her older sister died when Mary was 98; her son died the same year.  Her little sister just turned 96.

The summer she was 99, she broke her leg, had to sell her house, and move into a retirement community.

And along comes COVID 19.  She spent the lock down in her one-bedroom apartment.  She couldn’t leave and no one could visit.  Unlike many of us, she doesn’t have the internet as a connection to the outside world.  Her hearing aids broke at some point which limited her tv watching and phone conversations.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t complained (and maybe even whined) about the restrictions ‘forced’ on us by COVID 19, myself included.  Mary’s isn’t a complainer and her acceptance of all of life’s circumstances helps put some of our recent sacrifices in perspective. 

Fortunately, my friend was recently able to have coffee with Mary on the patio.  An enjoyable time was had by all! I think we all need a ‘Mary’ in our lives to remind us that this too shall pass and to remind us not to whine.

As usual, I am ending my week with King County COVID 19 data as of 10/1/20.  Over the past two weeks:

  • Positive tests – 1,342 or 2% (same as last week)
  • Hospitalizations – 40
  • Deaths – 4

We are off to celebrate my daughter’s birthday with her this weekend.  See you on Monday with a full report!


Middle Fork

“the older we get, the more important friends become to our health and happiness”

Andrew Weil, MD

My first friend and I met up in North Bend, WA on Monday.  We intended to meet at the North Bend Bakery, but it was closed.  As long-time friends, we know how to improvise.  We found a great coffee shop and started our catch up there.  We both live in the Seattle area, but meeting up is easier said than done since we live on opposite ends.

From there, we drove to the Middle Fork trailhead.  Talk about breathtaking!  The drive to trailhead was beautiful.  The fall colors are starting to show.  We parked at the trailhead and took off from there.  It was a lovely walk.  One could call it a hike, but we were busy talking and stopping to admire the forest, rock formations, and the river at every turn.  Both of us are grateful to be living in the green Pacific Northwest! See my collage at the top of today’s post.

It wasn’t crowded at all, but we did see a few people.  All of them were unmasked which made us both a bit cross.

We grew up across the street from each other and probably played together every day.  She is one of my first memories since our mothers were also friends. We went to different schools, including a different college, but we could always find lots to talk about when we met up. That is still true 60+ years later.

We always leave each other with the intention of getting together more often.  Since we are likely coming to the end of our story at some point, we better get on it!

As usual, I will end my week with the scoop on COVID 19 in King County as of 9/23/20.  Over the past two weeks:

  • Positive Tests – 1,138 (2% of those tested)
  • Hospitalizations – 36
  • Deaths – 13

The U.W. is now back in session, so those numbers could start going in the wrong direction again.

And I am also remembering the more than 200,000 people who died in the U.S from COVID 19 since the pandemic began.

On that sobering note, have a good weekend and look up a friend!

See you Monday,


Masks outdoors?

Business Insider interviewed Bill Gates regarding his ‘pandemic routine’:

He told Insider he’s also been making more time for playing tennis lately and going for walks in his suburban Seattle neighborhood — while wearing a mask. 

Bill appears to be wearing a mask when he is out and about in his neighborhood?!

I have not been masking up when I take my neighborhood walks and neither do my neighbors. I find I can physically distance easily on my walks, which seems like a safe bet with our current COVID 19 science. According to the CDC, it is important to wear a mask outdoors if physically distancing isn’t possible.

Our WA state mask mandate states:

You do not need to wear one when you exercise outdoors with plenty of space. It’s a good idea to keep a face covering in your pocket in case you come across other people.

I would definitely wear a mask (or have it very handy) on the hiking trails around here.  Trails tend to be narrow and it is easy to come across a party going the opposite direction without much warning.  I also wear a mask outdoors on busy urban sidewalks because it pretty tough to physically distance under those circumstances.

I do find it a bit uncomfortable to wear a mask while exercising, particularly in warm weather, and I have been testing the Athleta made to move mask. I have mentioned this mask in earlier posts.  I am not a high intensity exerciser so I can’t speak to that.  But I do find it pretty comfortable for my activity level.

So for now, I will wear a mask indoors and outdoors when I am hiking or otherwise can’t physically distance.  But, I think this is science to keep an eye on.

COVID-19 data for King County (as of 8/12/20):

  • New infections – up 1,033 since last week (now 16,979)
  • New hospitalizations – up 76 since last week (now 2068)
  • Deaths – 23 new deaths (now 680)

When in doubt, Mask Up!

Back on Monday.