Saturday, October 31, 2015


This web caught my eye while out walking one morning this week.  Didn't notice it the day before.
I wonder, did the spider weave this entire web overnight??
I just gotta say this, "If I'd known how much I'd love being retired - before I retired - I would have done this years ago!"  Wow, it's truly the best thing since, maybe childhood.  Well, I did like having my own kids around and they have been a lot of fun and blessed my socks off, but honestly, this retirement is the best place to be, ever!  All this time on my hands, and I get to do practically whatever I want, whenever I want, within legal and moral limits, I suppose.

My most recent post was a response to the question posed by Mary Oliver in her poem, The Summer Day - "What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"  Just for fun, I went back to read what I'd written a few weeks ago.  Surprise, surprise!  I'm doing much of what I wrote on a daily basis, and loving nearly every minute.  Two people commented on a particular statement - 
"I plan to live each day with a sense of humor, and a sense of wonder, and a sense of joy" - which seems like an appropriate focus for today's post.

Humor - oh, sometimes it's so darn hard to find the humor in the mundane.  Yesterday, husband and I decided to purchase an electric fireplace for the family room.  This has been a discussion for weeks, as we head into fall.  The family room is in a sort of alcove, and mostly unheated, as the wall heater is truly butt-ugly, so we hide it behind shelves and stuff.  While there is a pellet stove in the living room, the heat it so efficiently provides has to turn basically two 90 degree corners, which seriously impairs it's ability to send much heat toward the family room.  

We bought the fireplace, discovered the box was about three inches too wide to fit into the Subaru, so left it at Lowe's, drove home to get the pickup and returned to retrieve the fireplace.  Got it home, unloaded it and built up the stamina it would take to put the darn thing together . . . as the wall-to-wall three piece shelf unit we had built and installed many years ago would need to be removed first.  Not to mention - emptied! We pulled the TV out, and both shuddered at all the wires leading to and from the TV, cable box, VCR/DVD player, took a deep breath; then began.

Two hours later, boxes of books, movies, games ("Why do we have three different boxes of Blockus, three Mastermind, two Quelf, and dozens of others on these shelves??" we ask ourselves.) and framed family pictures are gone, and the shelving has been removed to the garage, not without a bit of mumbled complaining. Also the discovery that my detail orientated husband had screwed in some of the shelves for stability, which explained why they weren't coming out with "gentle" taps with the rubber headed mallet. We didn't recall that part of the construction phase fifteen+ years ago.

The fun begins!  We got the directions out and read them, then tried to decipher the arrows and upside down (seemed to us) drawings in each step of the process. Husband was the put-it-together person; I was the finder of correct screws, tools and general hander of needed things, and occasional holder of pieces in place. We're intrepid, if nothing else, and we mustered on, with just a couple, thankfully fixable, glitches.  
It works.  The remote works.  It doesn't put out a super amount of heat, but the ambiance is nice and there are no ashes to deal with or wood to gather.  Twenty years ago, we wouldn't have considered a "fake" fireplace, but hey, we're retired now! We watched the news and Jeopardy in comfort and congratulated ourselves on a job well done - although there wasn't so much as a snort of laughter during the process!

Wonder - well, that's easy, as I wonder where my keys are, what I did with that library book, what happened to my phone, and just generally what the heck I am doing, most of the time! Oh, wait! Wrong kind of wonder . . . sort of.  

Having a sense of wonder plays out in my view of the world around me these days.  Having that lovely and delighful sense of unhurriedness as I go about my business, noticing the wind playing with leaves left on the trees outside my window. Entertained by the birds and squirrels who love this tree. Watching Pepper, my cat, as she watches the creatures outside, laughing when she leaps from her kitty perch onto the windowsill (and falls off, because it's pretty narrow!) when they get a little too close.

Almost on a daily basis, I will pass through a room, notice the time (as I don't pay a lot of attention to it anymore!) and marvel, "There is nothing absolutely pressing that I must do today!"  So, I will pick up a book, putter in my sewing room/office (a whole blog, in and of itself!), or rearrange a shelf or cupboard - for no other reason than just because I want to.  

 Jessica and I saw this fellow recently on our walk around Lake Sacajawea in Longview.
We both laughed, remembering when her sister dressed as a Great Blue Heron for a report in Fifth grade.
Probably the biggest sense of wonder I have been experiencing is the complete acceptance of where I am in my life today.  Being retired with my husband is better than I expected. Jessica and Kailyn are gainfully employed, enjoying positive relationships, living on their own, responsible for themselves. My son's stepdaughter, Emily, brought my sweet great-grandbaby Jailee, to visit recently, and my heart overflows with wonder, in how this world spins, and swirls love all around me. I think of my losses - my son Chris, my dad, two moms, several good friends - sudden, unexpected, unwanted deaths - and wonder at the surprises and blessings that are woven into those losses. 
Sweet baby Jailee - wonder and joy!

Joy - pleasure and happiness - yup, easy peasy. I sometimes catch sight of myself in the mirror, and I think, "Who is that smiling woman there? She looks so happy!"  
Honestly, it's been years since I've considered myself to be a joyful, happy person.  I think I used to be, but it's so hard to remember.  I'd have moments of "happy" and certainly, moments of "joy", but it wasn't who I was.  Life was just too hard, for too long. I've been depressed for years, and often on medication to help cope. Lots of pain, suffering, death, disease, stress, and anger.  More of a "Why me?" or "Poor me" attitude than much "Yippee!"

Did retirement heal me?  Sort of . . . it has allowed me to relax and de-stress, which is huge. But, I've also made a couple other changes, neither related to retirement, but definitely related to mental and physical healthiness.  Change is good, and if you're not bored to death yet, read on!

First of all, being sleep deprived isn't good for the soul. I've used a Cpap for years to help with mild sleep apnea and severe snoring issues.  But, I pretty much hated being tethered to a machine for  sleep, and wasn't real consistent about it.  This summer I made an appointment with a dentist who provides appliances for treating sleep apnea.  (Second appointment - I also did so last summer, then dropped the ball.) Perhaps I was at the right time in my life to be more receptive, but . . . Wow!  While I feel like I have a mouthful of plastic (because I do!) it is infinitely better than wearing an uncomfortable mask and being plugged into a machine.  I'm getting used to it, and sleeping better than I have for years and years, and big surprise, I don't feel depressed anymore! Yippee!

Surprisingly, (or not) not feeling depressed gives a person much more energy and motivation.  Yep, real motivation to do things, like, think about being healthier and other good-for-you stuff. While on Vashon (such good things happen on Vashon!) I picked up a set of books titled, The Abascal Way To Quiet Inflammation, by Kathy Abascal, a thorough book of information regarding what causes inflammation, and a neat little recipe book included.  

Well, I thought I knew all about inflammation, since I live with it on a continual basis with my miserable, arthritic knees.  However, I quickly learned I didn't know half of what I needed to know, and frankly, I'm more than a little impressed. I am savoring this book, reading as much as I can at a time, thinking about it, and following this incredibly simple plan of eating to get my health back.  I think it's the first nutrition related book I've ever read that completely makes sense to me.  Yep, I'm a believer.

So, it is with pure JOY that I have been following the recommendations, finding myself in the kitchen cheerfully whipping together recipes such as, "Curried Chickpeas, Cauliflower, and Collards (Fabulous - so glad husband refused to try it; I got four excellent meals out of it!), Green Kale with Tahini Dressing (Yum - and the dressing is good with everything!), Joanne's Breakfast Muffins (these have become a staple in my house), along with various roasted veggies, cooked quinoa and lentils.  Who knew I'd even want to eat healthy? 

These are seriously stubborn pumpkins!  I could NOT get a knife in them to cut in half,
so they are going to their pumpkin death whole. Fresh pumpkin muffins soon!
I love having a plan - to live this one wild life with a sense of humor, a sense of wonder, and a sense of joy.  Seriously, what could be better?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Vashonista Celebration

Our fabulous writing retreat on Vashon ended too soon.  On our last night, Deb gave us the following question as a five minute writing prompt.  We all agreed to share our writing, and link each others posts.  Please be sure to read DebDJanLindaJann, and Sally.

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" 
By Mary Oliver, from The Summer Day

This question seems, at least on the surface, to be too big to answer in ten minutes or less.  Yet, I know I plan to live my life to the fullest, seeking answers to hard questions.  

I plan to explore, love, and spend lots of time with my husband and daughters - as well as their husbands/partners, children - whoever enters our family circle.

I plan to give back in some way, thought I don't know yet what that will look like.

I plan to write - for myself - and maybe someday for others to enjoy

I plan to cross the ocean, at least one more time, but hopefully many more.

I plan to make my house happy, and in doing so, make myself happy - and to sew a quilt or two.

I plan to hold and love grandchildren and nurture them - to experience their world with them, to share what I know, what I can do, what I am good at - with them.

I plan to read every day - to become healthily alive

I plan to share my experience with my daughters

I plan to live each day with a sense of humor, and a sense of wonder, and a sense of joy

I plan to be open to change, and love, and happiness

I plan to return to Vashon with the Vashonistas, and write my heart and soul out- 

I hope my plans pan out, but if not, I hope I accept whatever happens

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Perfect Timing

It is the last morning walk of our five-day (first ever!) Blogging Vashonista Writing Retreat.  While this is our fourth year to meet together at Lavender Hill Farm, it's the first time we're "getting serious about writing!" Over the years, we've enjoyed many Vashon adventures, a lot of laughter, and not a few tears.  This year has been especially memorable and it's easy to feel nostalgic this morning. The air is crisp and the view is soft, at 6:45 am, as the sky begins to lighten. I will miss the sunrises, and the sunsets, and everything in-between.

We head out for the Burton loop, what has become a daily delight.  I'm with my typically faster moving friends, Deb and DJan.  Today, I am the pacesetter. I know there are hills coming that will literally take my breath away, and set my heart pounding uncomfortably fast, yet I eagerly set off with my comrades.
Sunrise as we begin our walk . . .
We slow down almost immediately for the vivid tapestry before us, snapping pictures that dim in comparison to the being there. 

It is downhill for a few blocks, before the first uphill that seems to be double the distance, and I am reminded as always of the multiple extra pounds I'm carrying along with me.  But I refuse to waste time chastising myself and listen instead to the cheerful voices of the birds and my friends.

This is our down hill beginning . . . and in the distance, the first of the uphills. 

About ten feet from the top of the first hill I stop, check my pulse (117 this morning; it was 130 the first time I walked with Linda) and I catch my breath.  Onward we go.

A little more than half way around the loop, we arrive at the Vashon Island Rowing Club.  There are already several boats silhouetted against the rising sun, and to watch the graceful ballet of experienced rowers is delightful.

We are greeted by a lovable labradoodle, and stop for a chat with his owner and a sweet two-year-old. Walking onto the rock strewn beach, my eyes searching for some of the greenish colored rocks that Jann and Sally found the day before in this spot.  Suddenly, someone calls, "Look!"

We gaze toward the water,  amazed to see what looks like a sort of oceanic sprinkler system created by dozens of clams (or some other creature), spouting (or squirting) streams of water from beneath the rocky ground.  It is magical!  (I took a cool video, but unfortunately I took it sideways, and couldn't figure out how to post it.  You'll just have to believe me!)

It dosen't take too long to find and collect a number of green rocks (which we believe are algae tinted) and others that I am hopeful will polish up in my rock tumbler at home.  (The rocks below weighed 1.87 pounds before I deposited them into the tumbler for the first polishing this morning.)
I know they really don't look very good, but stay tuned - they will be amazing--I hope! The barnacles will be gone.
Sadly, it is nearing time to return to our lovely island retreat. There are breakfasts to eat, showers to take, packing to finish.

Trudging up the hill one last time, we are greeted by this guy, who watches from one of the neighboring decks.

Oh Vashon, how I hate to say "Good-bye!"

With sad hearts and after exchanging warm hugs, the six Blogging Vashonists drive away from Lavender Hill Farm ~ October 2015.