Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z Is For Zip Line

All this month I am participating in the A to Z Challenge.  Today's letter is...

In February the spouse and I took a cruise through the Panama Canal.  Along the way we stopped at various ports in Mexico,Costa Rica, and Columbia.  

The spouse and I lived in Costa Rica for three months when we were in training for the Peace Corps. Our training center was a coffee farm outside of San Jose and our classrooms were converted chicken coops.  We had enjoyed our time in Costa Rica and were looking forward to seeing what had changed in the thirty plus years since we were last there.  We found the people just as friendly as we remembered and the country much more modern, but that might be because we were visiting tourist hot spots!

We went to a rain forest preserve to zip-line.  We didn't see much wildlife, no monkeys in the trees, but we did see a kotimundi in the bushes.  There were 18 people in our group from the ship and the spouse and I were probably the youngest participants.  We rode a gondola to the top of the hill through the rain forest.
That green and yellow thing is the gondola going down the mountain.

At the top we rode a series of zip-lines down to the bottom.  Here's the spouse ready to zip!

At the end of each zip-line we hiked to the next line.

One of the members of our group cut her hand when she grabbed the cable.  That backed up the line for awhile and it was HOT!  I found a shady spot on the trail to sit out the wait.

And then I zipped to the bottom...

I actually have a short video of me on the zip-line, but Blogger isn't uploading it.  Trust was pretty cool!

...and this brings us to the end of the A to Z Challenge!  This is the second year I have managed to finish the challenge.  I will be back to my regular/irregular postings.  Thanks for joining me as I worked my way through the alphabet and thanks to the A to Z organizers who created this opportunity.  Let's do it again next April!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is For Yes!

All this month I have been working my way through the alphabet on the A to Z Challenge.  Today's letter is 
For Yes!

My friend Linda at Thoughts From a Bag Lady in Waiting says on the sidebar to her blog that her life in retirement is "an opportunity to say yes!"  I love the idea that retirement is the time to do all those things that we didn't allow ourselves to do before.  

Once I retired I no longer had the excuse that I didn't have time.  I had to face up to the fact that things didn't get done because I chose not to do them.  There were no external forces holding me back. I find it surprising that it took me all these years to figure this one out.  There have been very few real barriers in my life.  What holds me back is myself and my own perceived limitations.  It's almost always easier to say No.  It can become an automatic response.  It's difficult to break a life-long habit.  I'd like to follow Linda's example and make conscious decisions.  I won't always say yes, but I'd like to make sure that it's an option.

Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for Xanthippe

All this month I've been participating in the A to Z Challenge.  We're down to the last three letters.  Today's letter is 
for Xanthippe

I'm sure that every other A to Z participant has a better X idea, but this is the best I could do.  Here's your vocabulary education for the day...

Xanthippe:   noun; a nagging, ill-tempered woman.
Etymology: After Xanthippe the wife of Socrates who has been portrayed as a nagging, quarrelsome woman.

I'm sure that Socrates would not have achieved the success that he did without Xanthippe.  Perhaps the saying should be, "Behind every successful man is a Xanthippe."

Sunday, April 27, 2014

W is for Wages

The finish line is in sight for the A to Z Challenge.  Nana has a good chance of being a winner!  Every day this month I have been blogging my way through the alphabet.  Today's letter is

For Wages

When we were first married the spouse and I lived paycheck to paycheck.  As the years went by, we got better jobs and earned more money.  Although we never had excessive expendable income, we managed to save a little.  We've always lived within our means.  We never carried more debt than our mortgage and car payments...and we paid those off early.  I guess you could call us frugal.  When the kids graduated from college, and we paid off our mortgage, we were comfortably situated...and we retired.

We are no longer wage earners.  That took some getting used to!  We do nothing, and money is deposited in our accounts every month.  It's like winning Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes, except it's a lot less money.

There's still a voice inside that tells me that I can't spend money on frivolous things like vacations.  I know this isn't a rational thought. There's no reason I can't use retirement income for "extras," but the tightwad in me doesn't let that idea get out of the planning stages.  So now I have a sideline job.  My wages from my part-time writing gig pay for our travels and let me enjoy them guilt-free.  

I know how fortunate I am.  I have acquaintances who live on only social security.  They are one accident away from financial ruin because they have no safety net.  

One of the scary things about being retired is that our income dangles on the whims of the government.  My state pension can be "realigned," my income drastically reduced, and for many in this situation, there is no option to return to the work that they gave up when they accepted their retirement package.

So, for now, I guess I'll keep plugging away with my part-time job. Perhaps someday I'll get to the point that I will trust that I am really, truly able to retire and leave the work for wages world behind.

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for the Vashonistas

All this month it's the A to Z Challenge where I write a post every day except Sunday and work my way through the alphabet from A to Z.  Today's letter is

For the Vashonistas

I started to blog the year after I retired.  I soon found myself welcomed into the blogging community.   I started following other retired bloggers.  Many of us followed the same blogs and had similar lifestyles and experiences...these were my people!  One of the unexpected benefits of blogging has been finding new friends.

Several years ago my friend Linda at Thoughts From a Bag Lady in Waiting suggested that our little group of cyber-friends should meet in the real world.  We took a risk, jumped into the unknown, and met for the first time on Vashon Island in Washington state.

We rented a charming farm house that overlooks the water.  We had great meals, walked the beach, got to know each other...and I laughed until the tears rolled down my face.

left to right: Sally, Sandi, Deb, Linda, me in the back, and DJan

We decided to do it again last year.  In October we met once again at the same farm house on Vashon.

The back porch of "our" house

We have breakfast at the same restaurant every year.  On the left:  Sandi, me, Linda.  On the right: Sally, DJan, Deb

The view from the back porch overlooks the lavender  fields to the water below.

The end of a great weekend.  Taken in the living room.  Front l to r Deb, Linda, DJan.  Rear Sandi, me, Sally

I don't remember who first called us "Vashonistas," but the name stuck.  We're going to do it again this fall.  Now it's a tradition.  I am blessed that the Internet brought these fascinating, accomplished, and fun women into my life.  You can visit them by clicking on their names:

Deb, who writes with warmth and insight and never takes a bad photo

Linda, who always has something to teach me and is a great example of continuing to contribute in retirement

DJan, who at 70 just broke a world record in skydiving and is a role model for being an active senior

Sandi, who cooks our fantastic meals that taste good even though they are healthy!

Sally, who comes the farthest for our reunions and shares her heart

No, you can't join us.  The house only has six bedrooms.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is For U-Tube

We're almost at the end of the A to Z Challenge, where I work my way through the alphabet all month, every day except Sunday.  We've either reached the more challenging letters, or I'm just running out of material!  Today's letter is

For U-Tube 

(yeah, yeah...I know it's YouTube, but cut me some slack.  Did you want me to write about unicorns or underwear?)

I was searching YouTube for interesting U videos and this was the first one to pop up.  I love this song!  I just want to sing and dance along.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is For Theater

I'm participating in the A to Z Challenge.  Every day this month, except Sundays, I'm working my way through the alphabet.  Today's letter is ...
For Theater

I love Broadway musicals.  I would love to live in a world where we broke into song at random moments and danced down the street rather than plodding along.  I would love to have the external cues to help me figure out the plot twists in my own life.  If real life only had music,  I would recognize the sound of the villain creeping up on me.  Now that I am retired there are fewer villains in my life, and many more reasons to dance.

Today I bought pre-sale tickets for The Book of Mormon in Portland in July.   When asked if he wanted to go with me, the spouse replied, "Why would I want to do that?"  The granddaughters are a little too young to enjoy this one, so I will leave them in the capable hands of the spouse.   My college roommate, and matron of honor at my wedding, is going with me. I better get to i-tunes and buy the Broadway cast recording so I can sing in the car all the way to Portland! 

This is going to be soooo much fun!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is For Sidewalk

All this month it's the A to Z Challenge.  I'll be working my way through the alphabet.  Today's letter is
For Sidewalk

I was probably in fifth grade when I learned about tuberculous.  I remember the teacher telling us about how people got sick and died because of poor health habits.  Epidemics spread because people didn't wash their hands, or cover their mouths when they coughed, and they spit on the sidewalk!  The teacher told us that there were laws against spitting on the sidewalk to help stop the spread of disease.  And all of us in that class learned this lesson.  
Maybe I was less observant in my youth, but I don't remember people spitting.  I wish I could say the same now.  Last week I was at Safeway.  As I walked toward the door a man exited and hocked a loogie on the ground right in front of the door. The slime glistened in the sunlight.


I may have tuberculous!


Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for How's That Renovation Coming Along?

All this month it's the A to Z Challenge.  Join me every day except Sunday as I work my way through the alphabet.

Today's letter is
For Renovation

Nana,  how's that bathroom renovation going?  
Well, there's a toilet sitting in the middle of my dining room...
We are now in the second month of bathroom renovation.  The spouse spent three days last week in the new shower stall laying tile.  He finished the last three tiles on the floor just this morning.  Tomorrow he will grout.  We tried to contract out this work.  The tile store gave us a long list of contractors.  We called every one.  Two of them called us back.  One of them was six to eight weeks out in having time for a new job.  The other was very fussy about what he would and wouldn't do and he didn't want to do our shower.  So, the spouse started watching tile videos on YouTube and attended a how-to class at Home Depot.  We bought a tile saw...and he's done a pretty good job.  
Yesterday he went to McDonald's and critiqued the tile floor.  We've created a monster!
But, the end is in sight.  Tomorrow I have to go buy a sink and light fixtures.  I can't wait to have our bathroom back, but, other than having the new toilet out of the dining room,  I'm most looking forward to the new toilet paper more spring-loaded gizmo to hold the paper.  Simple pleasures!
Three tiles left to set

The shower is ready to be grouted.  The electrical cord hanging down from the ceiling is not a permanent feature.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Quotation

All this month it's the A to Z challenge and today's letter is...

For Quotations

I like a good quotation, and apparently I'm not the only one.  I'll save an inspiring quotation on Pinterest, but I'm not sure why.  It's not like there's a shortage of motivational and moving quotations posted on Facebook every three minutes.  When I need a quote for a blog post I'll just google up "quotes about friendship" or "quotes about stupidity" and a huge selection appears on my screen.

Here's a good one...

"Two things are infinite; the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."
- Albert Einstein

Were you thinking that I'd have a point to make?  Sorry, there is no point to this post.  I was just tired of reading all those stupid self improvement, believe in yourself, forgive and be free postings on Facebook.  The only things that irritate me more are the blackmail postings.  You know, the ones that say "if you love your mother you'll click like," or "if you support our military you'll leave a comment; if you're a heartless commie you'll just scroll on by."  If you like this blog, you'll leave a comment...or just send me a winning lottery ticket!

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is For Post Office

It's the A to Z Challenge and I'm heading for the home stretch.  Today's letter is P for Post Office and

 I went to the post office this morning to mail some books.  One of the benefits of living in a small town is that there's never much of a line at the post office.  Just before closing or during lunch you can expect six or seven people to be in line, but the rest of the time there's only a momentary wait while the one other person in the lobby finishes up.  I am not one of those people who constantly trashes the postal service.  I lived in Central America for two years; I know what bad postal service looks like!  Our local post office is friendly and efficient.  I appreciate the job that our postal service does.

I rarely mail letters any  more.  Remember when we always had a stack of envelopes to mail at the first of the month to pay our bills?  Now, like most people, I pay online.  Most of our payments are automatically deducted from our accounts.  I could die tomorrow, but the bills will still be paid...until the money in our checking account goes dry.  Several years ago I stocked up on "Forever" stamps at Costco because there was going to be a postal rate increase.  I've still got lots of those stamps, and there have been several rate increases.  I'm getting a better rate of return on those postage stamps than I do for my savings account.

About the only things I mail are packages to my granddaughters and books.  Several years ago my friend Linda, at Thoughts From a Bag Lady in Waiting, wrote about a paperback exchange that she uses.  I signed up for and have been happily trading books ever since.  I have a terrible time letting go of books.  Some, of course, are treasured books that I will read again or just hold on to for the memories, but most are just taking up space...but I still can't just let them go. gives me a credit for every book I mail off to another member and I can use that credit to get a "new" book.  The only cost is postage and that's only about $2.25 a book. hasn't cured my book clutter problem, but every time I mail off a book, I'm happy to let it go knowing that I can get another one FOR FREE!!!!  I do love getting those little packages in our mailbox.  It's like my birthday.  It's even more special when a book on my wish list becomes available.  It shows up in my mailbox and it's just what I wanted!  Check them out by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

O is for Odyssey

All this month I am participating in the A to Z Challenge.  Today's letter is...
for Odyssey

The dictionary defines odyssey as a long wandering and eventful journey.  We're planning an odyssey this summer.  Our grandchildren are attending a family reunion in Iowa in early June.  The spouse and I will drive the RV to South Dakota and meet the girls and their parents at Mount Rushmore.  Their parents will hand the grandchildren off to us and fly home to Texas.  We will set off on an odyssey to make summer vacation memories.

We've just started planning.  We know we want to spend some time in Yellowstone National Park, but other than that, we're open to whatever looks interesting as we head back to Oregon.

The girls enjoy traveling in the RV.  They curl up with a book, or coloring book,  or Nana's i-pad.  The RV is large enough that they can spread out, not quite alone time, but they can get some distance from each other and that helps keep the peace.

Summer 2013 on our way to the Oregon Coast

Having children along on our travels changes our travel style.  When it's just the two of us we'll stop at antique stores and brew pubs.  With the grandchildren it's parks and McDonald's.

I'm looking forward to having the grandchildren for eight weeks this summer.  We've got a long list of things to do and I know we won't get to half of them.  We planted peas this week in the garden so Hunter can pick them.  She doesn't like to eat them, but she sure likes to harvest them.  We're filling the pond with sand so the girls can have a sand box, and I've started hitting the yard sales for digging toys.  I can wait for the odyssey to begin!

N : I've got Nothing!

All this month I am participating in the A to Z Challenge.  Today's letter is...

We're half way through the A to Z Challenge, but there are some tough letters coming up.  N should not be a particularly challenging letter, but I've got nothing.  I've been working this week writing a grant.  I think I've reached my writing word limit and the word well is dry.

So help me out.  Give me some suggestions for the remaining letters of the alphabet.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Mayonnaise

All this month I am participating in the A to Z Challenge.  Today's letter is...

For Mayonnaise     

I don't like mayonnaise.  In grade school when my classmates were pulling baloney sandwiches smothered in mayo from their lunch boxes, I had a peanut butter sandwich, not PBJ, just peanut butter. I like to think I have a discerning palate.  The spouse says I'm a picky eater.

No thank you, I don't want to try oysters, snails, or pickled anything.  The spouse says, "But you haven't tried it, how do you know you don't like it."  I hate it when he says that!  Once he talked me into trying pumpkin pie using that "you've never tried it" line.    I would never order it in a restaurant, but it wasn't awful.  He's never let me forget it.  Now I hear "Remember when you thought you didn't like pumpkin pie, and now you love it."  He 's managed to twist the story into his own version of history.

Some people are adventurous eaters; I'm not.  I don't think that people who eat a wide variety of disgusting things are any better than those of us who are more discerning.  But, I'll never convince the spouse of that!

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Last Minute

All this month I am participating in the A to Z Challenge.  Today's letter is...

I admire people who plan ahead, who assess what needs to be done, and then come up with a strategy for completing all activities on time and within budget...that's not me.  I procrastinate.  I dawdle.  I put it off.  But, I'm rarely late.  I think I like the danger, the rush to get things done in a short period of time.  Heck, I put off going to the bathroom until the last possible moment.  Why is that?  

Today I did our taxes.  I've put it off, not because I was looking for the rush, but because I was avoiding the unpleasantness.  I'm a reasonably smart person, so why is doing taxes a challenge?  It's because they don't make sense!  At the bank today I asked a question when I was making my last minute contribution to an IRA, they said "You should ask your accountant."   Does everyone have an accountant these days?  Why does everything have to be so complicated?  I'm feeling quite proud that our taxes were completed and submitted a full day before the due date.  I should pat myself on the back for writing this post...a full three hours before "L" day is over!

I think I'll have time to watch the lunar eclipse.  It's a "Blood Moon," and the pacific northwest is supposed to get a good view if the clouds don't get in the way.  It all happens around midnight, so if you're up, look up at the moon.  You don't need special protective devices for a lunar just need to be there.  Don't leave it to the last minute.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


All this month I am participating in the A to Z Challenge.  Today's letter is...
For Kayak

Late last summer the spouse and I took a kayaking class from the Hermiston Parks and Recreation Program.  I had wanted to try kayaking, but wasn't sure if I would be able to do it.  The class offered us a way to learn about kayaking, try out the equipment, and see if we really enjoyed it.  We did!  I was pleasantly surprised that I had the stamina to keep up with the the other, much younger, participants.  It's an outdoor activity, and you do it sitting down!  

The group shot before we leave  Warehouse Beach
Heading out to open water

At the end of the day ( I'm the 5th from the right)  Notice the beautiful golden light as the sun starts to set.

We tried kayaking again last month when we were in the Florida Keys.  We had so much fun that we decided to buy our own kayaks.    Cabela's has them on sale...I see a road trip to Yakima in my future.

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is For Lyndon Johnson

All this month I am participating in the A to Z Challenge.  Today's letter is...  

for President Lyndon Baines Johnson

Last month I went to Texas to spend spring break with my grandchildren.  We took a field trip to Dallas and visited the Perot Science Museum, the Fort Worth Zoo, and the 6th Floor Museum  at Dealey Plaza.  Most people my age remember clearly where they were when they heard that President Kennedy had been shot.  I was at George K Porter Junior High in Home Economics class when the announcement came over the intercom.  For the next few days we were glued to the television coverage of the assignation, the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, his subsequent murder,  and then JFK's funeral.  

The 6th Floor Museum is in the former Texas School Book Depository.  The museum chronicles the the assignation and legacy of President Kennedy.  It was fascinating to me because I have such vivid memories of that time in history, but even my granddaughters, ages 6 and 8, were interested.  We looked out the window from where Oswald made the fatal shots and I marveled that one insignificant man changed the course of history.  We stood on "the grassy knoll" and everything seemed so much smaller than what was pictured in the news coverage in 1963.

My daughter and grandchildren on the grassy knoll.  Zapgruder was standing just to the right of my daughter when he filmed the assignation

Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president following Kennedy's assignation.  He is probably best remembered for his failure to end the war in Vietnam, but his greatest legacy may well be his legislative agenda.  He committed to seeing that the Civil Rights Act proposed by his predecessor was passed.  In an address to a joint session of congress in 1963 Johnson told the legislators,  

"No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy's memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long."  

Today President Obama spoke at the Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas at a summit commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Obama credits the Civil Rights Act with "throwing open the doors of opportunity" for Americans who had previously been shut out.  The Civil Rights Act, signed into law by President Johnson on July 2, 1964, changed our nation.  We've come a long way in fifty years, but there's still a little more work to be done.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Italy

All this month I am participating in the A to Z Challenge.  Today's letter is...
I for Italy

In April of last year my daughter was working in Italy for several weeks.  I joined her in Milan to take advantage of her company-paid hotel room.  I was in Italy for less than an hour when all my money and credit cards were stolen by a pickpocket.  If I had been on my own, I would have been in real trouble.  Fortunately my daughter saved the day by loaning me money and a credit card.  It was my first visit to Italy and I wasn't about to have losing all my money get in the way of having a good time!

During the week while my daughter was working,  I explored Milan.  I saw DaVinci's Last Supper, toured La Scala, touched the Rondanini Pieta that Michaelangelo was working on at the time of his death, and rummaged through the street markets.  

An amazing selection of random stuff at a street market in Milan

Beautiful fresh vegetables at the street market

On the weekends we left the city.  We took the train to Lake Como and rode the ferry to the small villages along the lake.  We didn't see George Clooney.

But, my favorite part of the trip was Venice.  It's filled with tourists and lots of tacky tourist crap, but it is an amazing place.  It looks exactly like every picture that you have ever seen of Venice, yet, when you are there,  it is hard to believe that such a place exists.  
A random canal in Venice

It rained while we were in Venice, but that didn't put a damper on our activities.
A gondola floated by and all the passengers had umbrellas.
We took a water taxi out to the island of Murano to see the glass factories.

Sarah and a glass sculpture on Murano
I'd like to take the spouse to Italy and on that visit I will try and avoid the pickpockets!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hands Across America

All this month I am participating in the A to Z Challenge.  Today's letter is H.

Last week I wrote about my mother's leftist leanings and mentioned her participation in protests and lost causes.  This evening I was digging through boxes of old family photos searching for inspiration for something that began with "H." I found a few photographs of me with hideous hairdos, but I see no need to humiliate myself in my own blog.  (If I destroy the visual evidence, there's a good chance that no one will ever remember that I sported an Afro in the 70's.)  I found pictures of my mom protesting at some Justice for Central America rally...

That's my mom with the picket sign in the blue T-shirt.

...and then I found an "H,"  Hands Across America.  

In May of 1986 almost six million people held hands to form a 4,125 mile human chain from New York City to Long Beach, California.  The event was designed to focus attention on homelessness and hunger and many participants donated $10.00 each to reserve their place in the line.  The money raised went to local charities.  My mom took her place in the line somewhere in the desert in California.

That's my mom in the red shorts below:

Do you remember Hands Across America?

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