Self-Amusement

1) Drive down the middle of the road, through slush, to get to the hammer dulcimer teacher’s house. Have a fun lesson.

2) Eat at Veggie Grill – YUM.

3) Go to JoAnn’s Fabrics. Buy 4 small felt squares and 2 pounds of polyfill. Those are going to be some mighty stuffed teddy bears!

4) Come home and resurrect clawhammer banjo playing and remember how much I LOVE it! See below.

5) Put on heart monitor. Open app on phone. Run up and down stairs like a maniac. Bounce on mini trampoline like a maniac. Heart rate feels like it’s way up there but it’s not. My resting heart rate is 47-52. Burn 77 calories in 10 minutes. Go back to the (incredibly rare, almost never watch) mindless TV. Stellar day. The snow and ice that turned into slush is now, with the rain, turning into flooding.

 

 

Like Coffee for Blood

That’s a play on the title “Like Water for Chocolate”; a movie.

I recently saw an ad that promised a 12 oz.bag of coffee to folks who come in to donate blood to BloodworksNW – a group that has been around for 75 years. The blood they collect goes to Oregon, Washington and Alaska – probably even to the Children’s Hospital where I volunteer every week. Whereas the Red Cross specializes in disaster relief, BloodworksNW specializes in research into blood diseases and such. Well – not one to turn down free coffee, I donated today for the first time in over 10 years!! I was fairly woozy for several hours afterwards due to hunger and dehydration, but I’m bouncing back. That was my service project for MLK Day. Coffee – yum. 🙂

coffee

 

Up to Zero

The temps are finally up to freezing (which would be zero in Celsius) here in Lake Oswego. I never thought I’d be excited about getting UP to freezing, especially since my best operating temperature is 70-110 degrees F 🙂 Walking around the neighborhood required 3 gaits – normal for dry pavement, slightly guarded for packed snow, and a low center of gravity and creeping for sheets of ice. In areas where the plow had been, the snow was piled up to the height of my hip. This craziness should be finished by Tuesday – YAY!!

(Addendum: Freezing rain on the way and kiddos on their 9th snow day from school.)

snow4

 

 

Mindfulness

snow1

snow3

Monster Drink Icicle

All those years of driving up Mt. Hood to go snowboarding – often by myself – have paid off. I made it through some gnarly driving conditions today, on ice and snow, with no chains or special tires and did fine – as long as people weren’t right up on my rumpus. But these conditions cause us to be mindful of so many things we take for granted. Yay for slowing down and enjoying the scenery (even though I almost got hopelessly stuck in one intersection and the parking lot at the grocery store was a complete ICE rink). Snowmageddon, 2017. It’s been lovely but I’m ready for summer.

Hoof IN Mouth Disease

I had the good fortune today of volunteering to do crafts projects with the children of refugee families. Anyone who knows me, knows I am very outgoing and will chat it up with anyone. (Can you already smell the faux pas on the horizon?).

Amongst those of us who were volunteering was a class of adult English language learners. I have always dreamed of being a TESOL teacher because 1) my parents are non native English speakers 2) I have flubbed *mightily* in other languages and 3) I really like to encourage people.

So I took under my wing, so to speak, the gal who could barely speak more than 10 English words. All the other volunteers – some native speakers, a few that were not – spread out amongst the various tables. As we waited for the kids to arrive and for our crafts projects to begin, I really wanted to make a connection with the gal who was so clearly terrified.

Geez, where was all that French I had had in HS? I couldn’t fall back on ASL or gesturing. German didn’t work. “La vasche qui rit” was right out. So somewhere along the line, I wanted to let her know that I’m a first generation American, and I understand going between cultures and languages etc. “Mon mere et mon pere…English…gesture the number 2…language”. Deer in the headlight. Probably thinking, “Why are you flashing a peace sign at me and why is your mom of the masculine persuasion?”, which didn’t dawn on me till later.

Fast forward to the group gathered at our table –  terrified French volunteer gal; young boy whom I asked if he preferred to talk or liked quiet, since I was babbling away, stated that he liked quiet; a local native speaker volunteer who was trying all his slaughtered French phrases and trying to discuss theatre and playwrights with terrified French gal; chatty and sweet boy of local origins and THEN – a young boy, of African or Caribbean descent – who joined us. Whom I was told did not speak English. Whom I was told was visiting for the summer and didn’t live in the community like the rest of these kids.

I gestured to him and assisted him with his project. And then it dawned on me – wait – maybe he is from a location where they speak French. I already connected the volunteer at my table with the group leader of this whole shindig who just happened to be from Switzerland. They had a nice chat in French and I was quit happy to not understand a thing – or very little. So I said, “Français?” to the volunteer and the boy who spoke no English to see if they could connect. No good. It just didn’t work. Figured he was just shy.

BUT THEN, after about 10 minutes of trying to make connections amongst my fellow crafters – the little guy responded to some input. He had said things earlier but so quietly I didn’t catch it. WAIT – what? You speak English while I’m gesturing and getting French gal to chat it up with you? Consider me punked 🙂 His English was just fine.

Today’s volunteer gig was SO much fun, even if it did stretch all my resourcefulness on trying to communicate amongst various people of such diverse backgrounds. Once a terp mindset, always a terp mindset. And I don’t mind being silly or creative – and failing miserably in the process – in building bridges. In the end, creating a project together and wanting to spend time together requires no language other than a heart connection. And THAT we did. Viva La Fun!

 

 

 

Hawaii Glass Blankets

What do you call a post that has several latest happenings but no really good title? Just throw everything into the stew!

Hawaii panorama

This lovely panoramic shot of Hawaii Island, from our stay there last week, is from Pete, master photographer! It was gray and rainy the whole time except for this particular day in the picture and the day we left, of course 🙂 But it was all fabulous. It’s Hawaii; how could it not be?

glass blowing3

My introduction to glass blowing. Absolutely, totally, tears in my eyes from bliss, loved it. It’s a new calling. More photos on my Crafts Blog HERE

Last but not least, I sold my first EVER blanket today from my soon to be opened Etsy shop. Again, more photos and such on my Crafts Blog HERE

rainbow blanket1

Yoga Challenge

Yoga is like meditation. One day can be bliss and ease. The next day is torture.

Two days ago, I was humbled to be practicing next to someone with a *broken elbow*. She modified her moves but she was there, doing it. Yesterday was just all around challenging for me.

I’m doing a yoga challenge, attending 10 days in a row but hopefully more. There are a million reasons to call it off – such as the unusually warm and sunny weather we are having – in Oregon, of all places. But I will be there again today; sweating and doing my best.

Just add high temps, and we're good to go!

Just add high temps, and we’re good to go!

 

Simplifying

Life has been SO busy (since mid October onwards), that it is now mid January and many of the Christmas cards we received still have not been opened. And it’s not like we took on every – or even very few – parties and social gatherings.

We were at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas during the first week of January. 165,000 people were in attendance – a virtual city of its own superimposed on the already crazy and overstim mode that is Sin City. Pete worked like a maniac at 3 booths for his company and I was in constant hurry up and wait mode, getting ready to assist with equipment or people transport.

My first thought while listening to a lecture from the CEOs of Cisco, Comcast and Bosch were, “we need to simplify”!!! Electronic gizmos are becoming ever faster, more data are being collected, life is becoming unmanageable. There is undeniably some benefit in all these advances – such as doctors assisting other doctors remotely, via Skype, during surgeries. Who could have even dreamed of that a few years ago?

But my thought during the lecture was – let’s have barn raisings, music gatherings and handmade crafts created in a group setting. Ironically, I say this while having an iPhone, 3 blogs, a Facebook account etc, etc, etc. From now on, my posts will be short. And if you’ve read this far, I will be launching an Etsy business soon. With short posts.

Be well, folks – and go hug someone.

 

What’s today and Which party are we on?

Was in Hawaii two weeks ago, where temps were warm and life was slow.

And then things got crazy. I’m usually one to lie around in slug mode during December, but not this time, apparently. Tomorrow – Saturday – 25 folks will be here for a house concert. Sunday, 25 different folks will be here for a baby shower. I’m going at it solo because 31 hours after coming back from Hawaii, KAH (kick ass husband) took off for a biz trip to Germany – with a 50 degree temp difference!

I’m dreaming of Tiny Bubbles…Tiny Bubbles…with a ukulele and a palm tree. Ahhh. (No matter how grateful I am to have a house and friends and these activities…that uke and palm tree are looking good!)

In 8 days, KAD (kick ass daughter) with KAB (kick ass boyfriend) will be here. And we shall slug and eat and slug some more. But we shall not eat slugs – ewww. Woop woop!!!

Instant happiness

Instant happiness

A New Skill

As someone who is notorious for countless ideas and novelty, I have finally started to practice a skill which has laid dormant since HS – consistency! For the last 2 weeks – ok, not long, I know, but it’s a start – I have consistently gone to yoga 3X a week, the gym 3X a week, practiced the harp, pursued my crafts (I really want to have an Etsy business) and gotten chores done.

It’s also now the 4 year anniversary of my 2 spinal surgeries. They happened 6 weeks apart. It took some kind of consistency (well, persistence actually) to get through the rehab, healing and more bad stuff that was piled on top. If not a consistent physical practice at least a mostly consistent spirit of, “I shall endure. I shall not give up”. That says a lot because for a period of time – I really wanted out. Not suicide exactly, but just OUT of the constant pain and bad stuff. Anyone reading this who needs encouragement, contact me. I’ll never fully know your experience but I bet our paths have some striking commonalities.

I would never have believed at the time that there IS a shore on the other side of wading through endless…dung. My life is good and happy. And I’ve given up the thought that I’m too old for things. I took up interpreting school at 36, snowboarding at 40, the harp and my first hostel stay at 53.  I’m weeding out what doesn’t work and keeping those friends and activities that are positive, supportive and present. Hoorah. Bring it on – consistently please 🙂

PS – I know many of my posts mention the “bad years” and how things are much better now. I don’t want it to be a constant referencing of the past but like a grief process, there are no sharp boundaries between states of being. There are: worse, better, the new normal, the former normal, the hope for continued improvement, etc. The only constant in life is change.

 

I asked for the smiley. Gotta have fun before getting sliced!

I asked for the smiley. Gotta have fun before getting sliced (2008)!

The morning after the 1st surgery. 10/2010. Hair got chopped because I didn't think I'd be able to wash it for quite a while.

The morning after the 1st spinal surgery. 10/2010. Hair got chopped because I didn’t think I’d be able to wash it for quite a while.

 

OY! A few hours after the 2nd surgery. 12/2010. Should have just shaved my head.

OY! A few hours after the 2nd surgery. 12/2010. Should have just shaved my head.

 

Flea collar court is now in session

Flea collar court is now in session

 

Let's just yank out some suspicious tonsils, shall we?

Let’s just yank out some suspicious tonsils, shall we? Or maybe this was the cantaloupe-sized abdominal tumor surgery. I lose track.

ENOUGH OF THAT. DONE!

PDX Half Marathon - 2014 - with the way oversized team shirt I got at the 11th hour.

PDX Half Marathon – 2014 – with the way oversized team shirt I got at the 11th hour.