Aug 30, 2012

A look back: Why we travel Hopefully and Fearlessly!!!

SA & USA locator mapImage via WikipediaIn an article published in the New York Times in April of 2011,  PAUL THEROUX  argues for traveling the world even in troubled times. I think that Paul is a very smart man. My husband and I have always been travelers that will not be deterred because of dire warnings or terrorist global threats. We do our travel planning and if the sky doesn't fall, we leave on schedule. I have always wondered why we did that. Are we fearless or risk takers or are we just blithely blithering along?  Perhaps it is a little of all three.  

For example, we traveled to Spain in 2003 when our government was making the decision to invade Iraq. I will have to say that we did not believe our country would actually invade that country but I don't know that it would have made a difference if we had thought they would. In the first place, I don't think we actually realized how small the world is...Spain and Iraq are closer that NYC is to Portland, Oregon. And we had managed to get a very expensive visa to visit Saudi Arabia where our son was living at the time. We were meeting our son in Spain and going back into Saudi Arabia with him. We knew that our opportunity to visit that country might never happen again. So we went!

Spain was in upheaval because, even though a vast majority of the people of that country disagreed, Prime Minister Jose Marie Azner sided with the USA. There were demonstrations in Madrid and Malaga. People marched and called American's idiots. Like the author of the article in the Times, we kept our heads down and tried to look Canadian.  

I might also mention that my passport was stolen at a cafe in Madrid so we did not go to Saudi Arabia. Our son and daughter-in-law did fly in from Saudi Arabia to see us. We were on the Costa del Sol when our country delayed the invasion of Iraq because a huge wind storm of biblical proportions hit the coast of the Mediterranean. Beach front property was destroyed as the ancient Roman light houses stood to witness that day. Would we stay home if we had it to do again...absolutely not. Here is was PAUL THEROUX had to say:
As for the recognition of hard travel as rewarding, the feeling is mainly retrospective, since it is only in looking back that we see how we have been enriched. At the time, of course, the experience of being a bystander to sudden political or social change can be alarming. (NYTimes, Travel, Why We Travel, Friday, April 1, 2011)
We continue to see the world as our oyster. Travel is probably not as dangerous as our lives here at home. You see, we spend the winters in Tucson AZ and have shopped in the grocery where the young man went on a shooting spree killing people and wounding Rep. Gabriel Giffords. We have found that life goes on in countries rife with unrest and natural disasters. Children play, outdoor markets thrive and citizens laugh. I would not have missed one of our experiences.  

We will travel to Vietnam and perhaps Ankor Wat next Christmas. I have a friend that says we should stay at home...the world is not safe when we travel. I always tell her that, really, it is not our fault. But just in case, pray for Vietnam because we are on our way.  
Note: On a website called Worldwide Classroom (complete list found here) I found some to-dos for travel. The article was called The Art of Travel...let me share some of the suggestions that people who teach about travel have compiled:
  • Travel expectantly. Every place you visit is like a surprise package to be opened. Untie the strings with an expectation of high adventure.
  • Travel hopefully. "To travel hopefully," wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, "is better than to arrive."
  • Travel humbly. Visit people and places with reverence and respect for their traditions and ways of life.
  • Travel fearlessly. Banish worry and timidity; the world and its people belong to you just as you belong to the world.
  • Travel patiently. It takes time to understand others, especially when there are barriers of language and custom; keep flexible and adaptable to all situations.
     Have a wonderful day and keep that Robert Lewis Stevens quote close to your heart..."To travel hopefully is better than to arrive."


Aug 29, 2012

Travel: Things I Wish I'd Brought When I Got There

Sapa Rooms early in the Morning
Sapa Rooms early in the Morning (Photo credit: Always at Home)

It is just the small stuff I wish I had...not the camera or even a dress for evening wear. When I travel I always wish I had some small item I left at home on purpose or didn't even know I needed. For example,
When we were in Vietnam last winter I saw beautiful sleeping bag liners in shop after shop.  Honestly, I haven't camped for years and did not even know such a thing existed!  But there they were in Hanoi...stacks and stacks of them. What do you use them for I asked my daughter-in-law and she shrugged her shoulders. Did I need one of those?  Well, it turns out, yes I did. 
When we boarded the night train in Hanoi for the long trip in a sleeping car, I took one look at the bed and shuddered. I get it now...that is why I need a silk sleeping bag liner! 
An article on the Lonely Planet website reminded me that beds even in up scale hotels can be full of bed bugs and other critters/crud. A pretty little silk sleep bag liner would be so nice. Now I see that we can buy this item on Amazon and they are called Sleeping Bag Liners. Who knew!
Electronics are another thing...
I went off to stay on an island south of Cambodia. The island resort was a jewel set in a small village. I did not see why I should take my ipad or my iphone along...after all we had our computer and the resort said there was a hook up for computers. It did not occur to me that "wireless" means I can use my iphone AND my ipad. What was I thinking? It turns out that remote does not mean disconnected in any way.
Wash clothes...
The lack of a good cloth to wash my face and body will drive me crazy but it turns out the rest of the world just does without such a thing. In order to get one of those precious pieces of material I have paid extra in resorts and even bought small towels.  It is such a simple thing yet in my world a necessary item.
When do those people eat and sleep? Bring information with you...
As I look back on all of the places we have been I can see that the single most important piece of information we needed was the sleeping and eating habits of the country we were visiting. 
When we were in Spain I never did figure out when the people worked or what their breakfast time was. We ate Tortilla Espana every morning but we never were out when the Spaniards were.
Get that information before you leave home...the museums will be on the postcards in your hotel and someone will send you on your way. But if you want to truly enjoy a country, you need to sit down and eat with the people. Find out when they eat breakfast and evening meals.
Paper vs online...
The last time we traveled I bemoaned the fact that we didn't have a good paper map in English...I know you can go online and get directions but still I like the idea of seeing the big picture and being able to lay the map out in front of me makes such a difference. Whether you are in Saigon, Vietnam or Granada, Spain, the shape of the city and location of the rivers is important. How can you picture the history or commerce of a location without one? I am going to take one with me no matter whether I am on US Interstate 80 or driving between Malaga and Seville Spain.
Every travel website can give you a list of the latest and coolest travel gadgets. In fact here is a list I wrote. But has anyone ever told you to pack a wash cloth...I didn't think so.

I'm just saying!!!


Aug 28, 2012

Hotspot: Wine Shop in Oregon Wine Country

I love the smell of a beautiful wine in a beautiful fact I love wine, period! So how did that wine shop on main street in my little town (Hillsboro, Oregon) get there without me knowing? I cannot figure it out.
Washington County Countryside, 2012
Earlier in the summer my husband bought a wine tasting for two from Living Social at Primrose and Tumbleweeds in down town Hillsboro, Oregon. When he asked me if want to go, I was less than enthusiastic. After all Hillsboro is not the cultural center of the western world. What I forgot was that Hillsboro is fast becoming the gateway to Washington County wine country. This might be the new hotspot in the wine world and Primrose is banking on it!

If you are from Oregon and have missed Washington County, it is an emerging trendy country setting for little restaurants, bed and breakfast and wineries. You need to check it out. This place is beyond beautiful but still laid back, unpretentious and welcoming.

I am glad that we decided to take advantage of this Living Social coupon.  Primrose and Tumbleweeds is a beautiful unique kind of place. The wine shop features a full service bar, a bistro with lots of gluten free fare and the world's largest collection of Oregon wines! Really! It is impressive.

Their collections included some of our favorites...wines that do not appear in the local grocery store or anywhere else that I know of. For example, Cana's Feast near Carlton makes the most wonderful Bordeaux style wines. I have tried to buy the wines at the winery but was turned away because their wine club members get first pick. Primrose has the wine in stock. 

Our Living Social coupon gave us a wine tasting that consisted of 6 different wines and two appetizer plates to accompany the wine. I was impressed with everything they did.  Locals dropped in to buy wine or have an appetizer place after work. They were busy as you could expect on a slow Monday evening. I would recommend it to anyone.

I am told that their Tuesday night event is great. (Farmers) Market opens on main street and this beautiful little down town area comes alive. Primrose always has something special on that evening + they feature live music on Friday and Saturday.  

I thought you needed to know!


Aug 27, 2012

Making your ipad pay for itself or free is good!

Yup! You heard me! That ipad of yours is a very cool little multi-machine in one box kind of machine.  I am no expert...there are people that can tell you everything.  But this is what I do know!  You can get along without some of those devices when you buy your ipad!

I was visiting with a friend a couple of weeks ago. She had gotten an ipad and was busy taking pictures of the group at my class reunion. (No extra camera!) We were talking about how wonderful the ipad was and sharing our love for it. Then I asked her about using the Kindle app. to read books.  The look of amazement on her face caught me off guard. "You can buy a Kindle to use on your ipad?" came out of her mouth before I could tell her more about her ipad choices. The truth of the matter is Kindle App IS FREE on your ipad!

Good stuff on your ipad:
  1. Kindle is free.  Amazon wants you to buy books from them.
  2. Nook is free.  Barnes and Noble wants you to buy books from them.
  3. Libraries also have books that they will loan you using both Kindle and Nook.  You save gas and trips to the library
  4. You ipad also can be your telephone if you use Skype. Video chatting is free or you can buy minutes from them and use your ipad as a phone when you are on wireless. If you used this device wisely I can see a way that you would not even need cell phone service. If you need to be very frugal it may be something worth looking into.
  5. You can text message on your ipad just like your phone...handy, included and free.  
  6. If you have an ipad and do not have a Internet service in your home, you can still go to the local coffee shop and go online to check email and even do a little writing.  Internet can be free.
  7. Map apps can help you with navigation and can make your gps useless but if you are to do this you must either be on a wireless service or have your ipad tethered to your phone.
  8. I have high hopes that one day the ipad will become more like the iphone and allow us to use it anywhere.  I have not checked on cost with the tethered ipad.  It may be worth purchasing it for travel.  Some hotels charge a lot for Internet service and provide nothing! 
  9. If you own one of these, your family is going to love you because books bought in ebook form are a lot cheaper than the paper versions.  $$$$ for more gifts...for you maybe.
  10. You can buy magazine subscriptions and have those magazine available no matter where you go.  Imagine carrying all those magazines on the plane or buying a second copy at the airport because you don't have the one you want with you.  It just makes good sense. 

I am finding more and more uses for the device. It just takes a while to change the way I think of it.  But then it has taken ME a while of read the newspaper on my computer.  I am a computer nerd but I am not easily convinces when it comes to new toys.  I love that ipad a lot!


Aug 26, 2012

Retirement in a Modular homes: Is "Affordable" Really a Trap?

You can't live on the view!  Be careful about where you
put your vacation home!
Moving or buying a retirement home? Buying a modular? Is it going to be put on leased land? Did anyone tell you what that really means?

For example:  Did they tell you that the piece of real estate you are placing your trail home, modular or park model on is land that is designated as land for transitional use? No. You need to be aware of what that term means.

In the world of land use planning, land that is not ripe for development can be used for non-permanent purposes until the time is right for something more lucrative. Storage unites, temporary structures, dog kennels, and RV resorts or modular unit communities are a few uses that land can be put to and yet be converted without a great deal of expense or up roar for the land owner. The golf course you built on may even fall under that designation.

I was talking to a friend the other day that had bought a modular home on leased land in a planned community. It was sold to people as an affordable place they could spend the rest of their lives. They bought the modular and paid the landowner a fee each year to rent the land.  After several years of living in the modular while paying their rent faithfully, the owner of the land gave them notice to vacate the land. They could not sell the used modular. The people lost their home to the bank. What had been touted as a solid investment turned to dust.

Did they know that this might happen? Maybe. But I think that they thought they could sell the modular if that day ever came. I don't think they realized the risk they were taking. This type of ownership allowed them to buy a home they would not have been able to afford otherwise. It was a very well-set and beautiful trap.

I have been on city planning commissions, sold real estate, been a land owner and currently own a park model in an RV restort. I am well aware of the risks that you could be taking. Talk to your real estate  broker about the chance that you could be caught in financial trap. Here are a few things you should keep in mind:

  1. A modular, trailer house or a park model depreciates like a car. Never expect to get the money you invested back out of it. I think that if you cannot afford to walk away from it don't buy. But then that is just my opinion.
  2. When you are renting land, the land owner can ask you to vacate the land with legal notice. You need to be aware of what it would cost to move the modular and if you can sell it.
  3. All of the land that you rent is a possible transitional use. 
  4. Even golf coursed that borders your land may be developed into something else. 
  5. Do not assume that the land next to your house will be used for what it is being used for the day you buy. No one can guarantee that. 
  6. Unless the contract you sign with your land owner is very clear cut, you may find that the rent on your land will increase with each passing year.  This can be a money pit you did not expect.
  7. The land owner can and probably will have a great deal of control over what you do with that land.  Planting tree, flowers or adding to your structure may be under their control.
I am sure there are more cautionary notes. The idea that you can put a home on somebody else's land without any harm coming to you may be a myth. Beware! It can come back and bite you in a big way.  

I'm just saying!


How to be a Snowbird...answers and lists  (

Aug 25, 2012

Pinterest Fall's all in the Crayola Box!

Source: via Tiia on Pinterest

Living in a small space can be a challenge when it come to shifting gears from winter to fall.  Here in the northwest the air is already beginning to feel a little fallish.  So I am thinking about what I can do so that we can have a change without breaking the bank.  Ya-know-what-I-mean?

Summer buying season is over so outdoor furnishings are going on sale.  When shopping for fall in summer goods, I think the color is the most important thing. I personally love oranges and browns in the fall. Outdoor throw pillows can be found at Marshalls for example...the color can work and they will be on the sale table when the end of the season approaches.

When I look for colors in a new season, I always check the fashion blogs. The colors we love to wear should be the ones we use in our homes.  That is when we feel the most comfortable in a room...the colors suit our personal style.

Source: via Barbara on Pinterest

Source: via Barbara on Pinterest

Even when we begin to look around the room we can find ways to make small changes with a big impact.  Don't forget spray paint...the colors are amazing. Something old can become new again if you give them a shot of fall color. I think baskets would be wonderful spay painted in a variety of colors.  If you had a collection you could hang on the wall, why not use several different colors to give the space a pop of color while using a like texture to tie everything together. The curtain rods below are an example of the colors that are available in spray paint. WOW!

I have prints I have framed of fall scenes in local wineries.  I did purchase these but you can take a few pictures with your camera, print them in 5" x 7" and purchase a inexpensive frame to hang them. I also have pictures of grandchildren sitting on pumpkins that come out every year. I love that little personal touch. And it is all about the color...such a small thing!

Transitioning into fall is so much fun.  Believe it or not I am ready for summer to be over when it actually happens.  It just feels good to have a change...even when I just put a new picture on the wall or spray paint the curtain rods!

I had so much fun writing this blog post...if it inspires you to visit Pinterest or go looking at fall color trends click on the twitter button and send the blog post out into the world!

Now I want to go shopping...see you later!



Aug 23, 2012

CNN said: "We dare you to take a vacation!" Or do retirees even need one?

A Vacation Sunset
I saw an article on CNN Travel called I Dare You to Take a Vacation that made me stop and wonder about the nature of retirement's relationship to leisure. Are retirement and leisure the same thing? Or is it only those that dream of retirement that see it as a never ending vacation?

Do you love to work and will never retire?  Are you even ignoring vacation time because you just don't need one? Or have you retired and you look at your life as a paid vacation with no responsibilities or work piling up?  Do you wonder why you would even need a vacation when you are retired? Or have you gone the other way and slipped into the habit of making retirement into a job. No one can replace you and you are  thinking you do not have time for anyone or anything. You definitely don't need a vacation.  Do any of these describe you?

Here are some thoughts how a vacation can improve your life.

Reigniting Your Enthusiasm
If you are still working and plan to do that all your life, you have truly found what we all would like to have...a job that brings you satisfaction. You may not need a rest or to escape from the job but there are other reasons you need a vacation.

If you work in a healthy way, you know that a break now and then reignites your enthusiasm for what you do daily. If you are the type of person that cannot leave the job behind, take it with you!  Just change the scenery and the air you breath. Creativity will increase when you are not doing anything but letting your mind wander. You will see better ways of doing what you do and the time will not be wasted.  I dare you to take a vacation...double dog dare you!

Leisure can Kill Too! 
We all know that we cannot or should not sit down and wait to die when we retire. Just like too much work, to much leisure can be a killer too. Retirement, especially in this era, can actually be a second adulthood. We all face the possibility of living a very long time. I see more and more people that are acting very young and talk about working until they are 65+ without any regret.  The period between the age of 60 and death can and should be productive in some way. A person's physical and mental health depends on it. It is a balancing act.

A man told me recently that he left his business at retirement age but spent the next year working regular hours on a house he was remodeling. He was afraid that he could not not work! It occurred to me that retirement probably shouldn't be about never working again. For this man a job, either as a volunteer or at a part time employment, was the answer to his person retirement satisfaction.

What he did was find the perfect place for his busy mind so he could enjoy a lifestyle he loves.  He scored a job as a marshal at his golf course and obviously is very good at it. The job pays minimum wage and gives him free golf at his golf course plus reciprocal at other golf courses.  He and his wife enjoy their very expensive hobby for free.

Moving and learning will keep us happy and healthy for a long time. Those vacation breaks are a necessity I think. Maybe the barometer for our productivity is how much we even need a vacation. I don't know about you but I need to want to go on a short vacation once in a while. When I feel that need for leisure, I know I have been doing something worthwhile with my days. Even a man that gets free golf needs to go camping.

When I dare you to take a vacation, I do not mean for you to go home to lean against a post. I mean that you should live a healthy balanced lifestyle each and every day.  Eat a little, work a little, read a little and vacation a little. I dare you!

How do you vacation?
So what are you afraid of?  YOU are allowed to go on vacation! In fact, I dare you to leave your children and grandchildren or your job for a few days, weeks or months. Really, none of those people will be unhappy to see you leave and they will be glad to see you come home. Maybe they need a vacation (from you) too.

So that brings me back to the question:  Do you ever take a real vacation? I hope the answer is yes. Even in a our retirement world, we need a change of scenery and relief from the work-a-day hum drum to keep us fresh, alive and active. Give it some thought and let me know.


I welcome your comments and if you become a follower, it helps this blog reach it's goals. You are a very important part of what goes on the blog pages.  Thank you.

Aug 20, 2012

How Important is Your Past? A reunion with my classmate family!

Streamliner Annual Picture 1952
Grade 5-6 classes (me 3rd row 3rd from l.)
and, of course, Jo (front row 3rd from l.) and her dog in the very front!

When the class of 1959 from Huntington High School gathered for a group picture, it only seems reasonable that someone would say "Take the picture in black and white like the ones in our annual used to be."  I had just bought a new camera and could have taken the picture in any mode they wanted.  Black and white was their choice.

Black and White..Class of 1959 and Spouses
Isn't it funny how we can slip easily into a time that is long past? A black and white picture or a phrase will take you to places you had long forgotten. Smells and sights come back without any warning.  This was an experience new to me...I had left my high school world and never looked back. 

When my classmates gathered after 53 years for a reunion and a beautiful journey down memory lane, I felt sad that so many years has passed without ever seeing them.  There were 17 in our class in 1959 and 8 were able to come for the day in 2012.  

Why was this so important to me after 53 years?  Could it be that I needed some closure for my childhood years in order to actually become a fully developed adult? Did I need to see that the others have grown up and grown old just like I have? I did not realize the importance of hugging these people that were like my brothers and sisters. They do feel like my siblings.

We laughed a turns out we can still
tease each other without any fears!
When my classmates told me about their children and what their life looks like now, I was comforted to know that we were not all that much different. In the end, we could sit together for hours and never experience an awkward silence. Then there was the laughter...the person that had always lifted us up could still do it for us now.  There was a genuine feeling of affection and love that we had for each other.  It was hard to say good bye.  

Note:  The two people that made this happen, Gary and Lee, gave us all a gift of renewed friendship with people we had lost.  I am grateful to them and always will be.  

My classmate still make me feel like a young girl. Thank you for that.  I hope you feel as lucky as I do!

Be well and remember my love until we meet again.

Jimmy, Me, Gary, Harold, Lee, Jo Anne, Sharon, Mary Joy 

Aug 15, 2012

Chinese Spirit Rocks: Why My Amana Stove "F-4"d Me

Did you know that there are spirits living in the rocks?  At least in China.  Rocks standing in lots waiting to be claimed by lovers of rock spirits, dot the road side.  In the Forbidden City, rocks have been speaking their spirit language for many hundreds of years.  I learned a lot from the Chinese when we visited the very first time.  But, really, I did not think that I could ever wrap my mind around an inanimate object being in possession of a personality or spirit.  Boy was I wrong.  Let me tell you about it.

You see we really want stainless steel appliances in our kitchen because we are fickled.  Our new house has old appliances that were a part of the house when it was first built.  The stove is white, electric, down draft vented and faded. The refrigerator is also a little the worse for the wear.  The former owner had a parrot. The parrot ate the seal around the frig door. Who knew a parrot would do that! It also ate the seal around the garage door but that is another story.  Being the good and loyal all be it old appliances that they are, they still worked! We were feeling smug and secure. We could dispose of them at our convenience.  After all, they were just old stuff and who cared.  Not us.
Then the situation changed and I think our appliance spirits could smell the opportunity to make us pay for our disloyalty.  They were waiting to see what would happen next.

First the warranty on our house expired the end of July. We had been calling that warranty company for a year to get old appliances, leaking pipes and the furnace fixed for a minimal fee.  It was very nice and a money saving benefit.  But all good things must come to an end.  The appliances are getting close to having us where they want us.

Then there was the ad in the newspaper that caught my husband's eye...stainless steel gas stove with convection oven on sale.  We discussed and mulled it over.  We even sat in our living room adjacent the kitchen and talked about a shiny new stove with our children. The white stove was only 5' feet away. It was as though the white stove knew it was going away. Then we remembered that the old stove was down draft and the one on sale was not. But the damage had been done. Our stove knows it's days are numbered even if it goes on working just fine. We have said out loud that we do not want white appliances anymore.

In the mean time our little toaster oven quit and so we ventured out to buy a new one. The one we chose was stainless steel so we left it out on the counter. Stainless steel just looks so sleek and pretty! We admired it's beauty and stook back looking at it in awe...leaning against the old stove.

That was when the stove got it's feelings really hurt. When I tried to turn the oven the next night, the digital read out said simply "F-4".  No matter what we did it just "F-4"ed us all over the place.  The oven had mysteriously decided not to work...period. No siree!

Note: What is that "F-4" message and how do you fix it?

Now I am wondering; does that stove know stuff?  I have to believe that it may have conversations during the middle of the night with the refrigerator and make executive decisions about the fate of my next dinner party or my grand children's cookies. In fact, it could be that there are spirits residing inside the cool white boxes. They do not like being displaced or pushed aside. They like things just the way they are. Much like those rocks in China.

I'm just saying!


Aug 12, 2012

Living Social @PDX: Touring the tiny (Helvetia) Winery

Yesterday we used a Living Social deal-of-the-day coupon for a winery tour at Helvetia Winery. It included wine tasting and samples of Native American fishery catches on the Columbia River plus a wonderful lesson in history and Columbia River Inter-tribal Fisheries. The coupon only said winery tour and smoked salmon.  Little did we know that we were in for a wonderful afternoon.

The winery is located off of Yungen Rd north of Hillsboro. The tasting room is at home in a very old house that has been converted minimally leaving the kitchen intact with an adjoining small living area. The biggest change to the old house is the deck out in back and picnic tables located on the lawn. We were lucky enough to find a music group performing on the back deck and a group of small dog owners picnicking and wandering around with tiny fuzzy pets in tow. When we sat a small dog made itself at home in my daughter's lap. 

The wine making facility is located a quarter of a mile from the old house. That is what we had come to learn about. Platt gave us pointing directions and we ventured off to find him and his wine making facility located beside a dusty road. We wandered through a tree farm and a wild grass field with a barn as our directional guide. What a wonderful thing to do on a beautiful summer day.

Winery summer on the deck!
John Platt is not what you might expect of a wine maker.  He calls himself an amateur winemaker that depends on expert advice.  The very small winery bottled 1200 cases last year and all the grapes were grown by Platt, harvested and crushed by Platt, bottled by Platt and the bottles were even corked by Platt. He even loads the bottles up and distributes them to local markets. Well maybe he had a little help but still....he is a very hands-on kind of guy.

Because he was or is a lawyer representing the local Native American tribes, he has a depth of knowledge about history and the impact of the Native Americans on our area. He told us about a Native American burial ground is located south of the winery. He talked about a battle that took place very near the farm when the Klickitat Tribe decided to move south of the Columbia River. He invites the tribal members to share his property for sales of their Columbia River fishery caught salmon.

He talked about geology and wine making and things that wine makers must have to make their product.  Filters and corking machines, a fork lift, a small crush machine and a lot of fermenting vats, oak barrels and stainless steel barrels filled the space and were toys that he loved to talk about.

When we tasted a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir he had created, we liked them both.  I bought two bottles to use for a family gathering later this fall.  I don't believe I have ever enjoyed a "winery tour" so much.  It was just fun.  On top of that we laughed at him and ourselves for the free spirited nature of the whole thing. This is just the kind of a low key place we seek out.

We love Living Social, Groupon, Google and any other deal-of-the-day websites that offers discounts on cool stuff.  These business allow us to see and do things we had not even thought of and it gives businesses, small and large, an opportunity to introduce their products to the public.  Everyone wins.  We have gotten bark dust, eaten out at very nice restaurants and now we have made a back country drive to take a winery tour.  It has worked every time for us.

Have a wonderful day.


Entered in Grandma's Briefs Grand Social as a blog written by a grandmother...that's me and I have having fun!

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Aug 9, 2012

'Old Girl' Talk...Wild Hair in Unexpected Places

I was reading Boomington Express this morning. Wild hair was the subject of interest today. I am not good at "girl talk" so a lot of this information surprises me. I was almost 65 before I realized that I could have something done to my nails, apply a little make-up and fix my hair so I would look and, consequently, feel better about myself.

We women  50-115 fight the fact that our skin, hair, and youth attitude is not what it used to be. I am here to tell you that all is not lost. We can make ourselves look wonderful good in spite of it all.  But here is the had better be willing to suffer some pain if you want to deal with a lot of these things! There is a cost for everything.

My hair has been a sore point since I first discovered a gray hair. I pulled them out at one time. It occurred to me that bald was not good either. That was the beginning of my dependence on hair color.  To this day I still put "hair color" stuff on my hair to improve the texture. Just don't like wild dead looking hair. It is so unfair that my hair would look dead before I am, dead that is. Darn.

Even our babies like to be beautiful..check out this pose!
Fresh Look Photography, Portland Or
Then there is that other wild hair...the stuff that grows on my face. Just yesterday I decided that, in addition to having my eyebrow waxed, I would ask the woman to wax all that facial hair on the sides of my face that made me look blurred. The outline of my face had disappeared in a forest of white downy fuzz. I was accustomed to the eyebrow pain so I didn't think this procedure all the way through. I did not know it would hurt that much! She applied a huge swath of very hot wax to the whole right side of my face, applied the cloth and yanked like a man. The hair hairs, a lot of hairs, did not come out willingly. I can truthfully say this is the first time I have screamed really loud in pain at the spa. Then, like an idiot, I let her do the other side. I will be drinking something very strong before I go have it done again. When the saying "no pain no gain" was first coined, some woman was screaming as hair was being yanked from her body in a spa somewhere...really!

Now I am seeing the threading technique being done by vendors at the mall. You know, that is the procedure where they yank each hair out individually using a thread spinning and pulling. I just cannot decided whether I want to have a little pain for a longtime or a lot of pain for a few seconds. But, let me tell you, I will be doing one or the other...I did mention I was an idiot didn't I? I cannot help it. Vanity comes to call whether I want it to or not.


Aug 8, 2012

How interesting are you? 12 Conversation Starters

I just read an article on the More website called
Memoir: Where Did Our Friendship Go Wrong?  I thought about this post because making and keeping friends can be so hard. I hope you enjoy it.

Have you ever been in the middle of a story at dinner when people began to leave the table to go to the bathroom?  I have...a lot of times!  It seems that what I view as "interesting" is (yawn) "I need to see the restroom decor NOW" compelling.  This can be embarrassing but then it is not too late to learn.  I am feeling hopeful I can share the conversation.  (And remember, this post is about what makes YOU interesting and how you can go about doing that.)

So, how interesting are you?  And better yet, what things do you do in your life that makes you more interesting?
Interesting travel conversation?  Maybe.
Nevada Shady Lady Ranch bordello in the middle of no place!

Traveling (yikes!)
I always thought travel would make me more interesting. But, here is the thing we all need to one, absolutely no one...wants to hear about our vacations. If the people you are talking to were not with you on the vacation, they are not interested.  Boring people usually have very long vacation stories and I have learned the hard way that NO ONE CARES!  In fact, I even have a hard time reading a long travel blog post.  So I am the same way.

We may be onto something here but it depends who you are talking to.  My first question of a new acquaintance is "Are you reading a good book right now?"  If the person is a reader they will want to share.  If they aren't they will tell me.  Some close friendships have been formed over the sharing of a new book or magazine article.  I think I am very interested in books so it works for me.  Does that work for you?

Showing an Interest
Do you like to hear about other people's hobbies?  There is always something the other person is passionate about. The ability to talk about a range of topics is not only fundamental to having friends, it is what makes us interesting. That is why being well read and moderate in our opinions is probably a good idea.  When a person says they love to geocache, you need to know what that is. Or would you find that sort of thing worth a yawn? I personally like this type of conversation.

Do you need to be able to make table conversation sometimes and are surrounded by sports nuts?
In the age of televised sports 24/7 it serves us all well to know at least a little about sports.  Just enough to get a conversation started.  If you aren't a big fan you can always listen and learn.  A sports fan wants to talk about the latest ball game.  "How about those Yanks!" always gets things going if you are talking to the right person.

Was it Mark Twain (or Dudley Warner) that said "Everybody talks about the weather but no one does anything about it."  If you are in unknown territory the weather is good for an exchange of a few words.  But does it make us interesting? This is tricky...people want to talk about it but they do not want us to tell them what they already know.  There is a lot of difference between discussing how they feel about the weather and us telling them the rain is not going away.

I always thought that fascinating people were an interesting topic of conversation.  However, I could be wrong.   Example:
  • I once talked to the man that invented the first digital camera image in the 1950s.  His picture was selected as the most important image of the that decade by Life Magazine.  His name is Russell Kirsch and he lives here in Portland.  I had written a blog post about him and he found me in the phone book and gave me a call.  We talked about his work and he related how he came to be doing what he was doing.
  • Norman Leyden, former conductor of the Portland Symphony called me too.  I had left him a note after hearing him play the clarinet with the Pink Martini group on New Years Eve. Norman Leyden actually did arranging for the Glenn Miller band during WWII.  His parting words for that conversation was "I hope I hear from you next New Years Eve!  Blog post...
Here is the thing, a close friends said I was a name dropper!  Holy Moly!  So, even if we have some interesting things happening in our lives we have to be careful not to make people feel threatened with our stories.  Being interesting(?) can, I have learned, be the kiss of death.  Especially if you appear to be bragging which is the way I came across.

I know that people find me more interesting when I simply listen to them. A good question once in a while or a pertinent fact that involves other people and invites them to give their opinion is a good way to go. The listener can be the most fascinating and interesting person in the room.  Conversation starter are great items to have in our backpack:
  1. Did you read_____?____?
  2. What was your favorite book of all time?
  3. What do you think about_______?_____?
  4. If you were doing ____?_____ what would you have done?
  5. Do you remember when______?______?
  6. Gender specific (I'm sorry but this is actually just reality)
    • Men...sports, yard work, work, hobbies/food.
    •, clothes, jewelry, shopping, style/their earrings :)
  7. Who is your favorite author/food/music?
  8. What are you having for dinner tonight?  Both men and women love to be complimented on their cooking and share food ideas or special diets.
  9. Do you know a good place to get Chinese/Thai/Steak/Happy Hour?  Everyone loves food!
  10. What do you know?  Really, give me something new to think about...what do you know?
  11. Could I ask your opinions about something?
  12. Start slow...if you are just getting to know people say "Hi" and work up to a longer conversation.  Overbearing is not good.!
In my world the idea that I might listen and not talk is key to being accepted.  I had a man tell me at dinner one time about a dinner partner that would not let her husband talk.  He didn't like that.  I can see why!  I know my husband does not like it when I do that.
Rule:  Let everyone have their turn to talk...even make it an invisible game in your mind.  By that I mean you are the only one that knows about the game and the conversation is passed around the room by you without anyone being the wiser. This technique will make you more aware of what you are doing.
How interesting are you?
On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the high and 1 the low, how do you rate yourself.  Are you interesting or not.  The balancing act between being too interesting and the perfect listener is a delicate one.  Don't fall over!


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I am currently reading John Adams.  I love it!  Are you interested in that?

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