Thursday, April 17, 2014

Magic Moment–#9 Dare to Explore

About 20 years ago, I was sent on a long-term work assignment in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (mostly in Monroeville, the Westinghouse Corporation Headquarters).  Up until then I would occasionally go on business trips to various locations in the US, but never anything more than a week.  The Pittsburgh assignment went off and on for 6 months often away from home (Washington State) for two-three weeks at a time.  There was never a reason on the previous business trips to explore—really did not have the time.  The days were filled with meetings and work until late at night.  It was also a convenient excuse to avoid venturing out on my own.

pittsburgh#1The assignment in Pittsburgh was different.  My weekends and most evenings were open.  I was not familiar exploring on my own; and honestly, I was a little apprehensive in a big city.  That is until my friend, Jan Hawkins, working on the same job confronted me one day about spending too much time reading in my hotel room.  Jan is the ultimate adventurer and always open to new experiences.  She has traveled the world, much of it solo. 

“Come on, Terry, we are headed to Shadyside this Saturday.  And next week you are going downtown to experience a potato pizza and visit the fish market.”  Jan drove me around Pittsburgh explaining how she explores a new place and how she learns about the locations you want to experience and those you need to avoid.  Somehow a light bulb went on as I was enjoying the “culture” of Pittsburgh and listening to Jan describe all the places she has visited.  By staying in my comfort zone, I was missing out.  Missing a lot. 

Since that time, I have been exploring—domestically and internationally.  Some times on my own, most often with my husband or a friend.  You grow tremendously as person by traveling.  You become more tolerant of different customs, you begin to understand that ‘YOUR’ way is not always the best or only way to live. 

Thanks, Jan.  I think you are a pretty special person.  You brought a little magic and knowledge to my life through traveling and walking in someone else’s shoes.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

2014 Travel Plans

mostar_bosniaTravel plans for 2014 are shaping up and they are a “departure” from our normal destinations.  In September, I am heading for a part of eastern Europe that is relatively less traveled—Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia (the Adriatic Tour).  Three of seven countries that were previously part of communist Yugoslavia.  My friend, Wanda, and I paid a visit to a consultant with the Rick Steves’ travel headquarters last summer; fully intending to walk away with a tour booked to Ireland.  Once we discovered the less touristy and beautiful Adriatic tour, we were sold and never looked back.  [Photo of Mostar, Bosnia – photographer unknown]

Thinking a European trip was not his cup of tea, the hubby decided to remain at home with our new puppy.  He is still staying, but as we are learning about the locations and sights, the next trip overseas I know he will be coming along.  In fact, we plan to book a Rick Steves’ tour through Italy someday.

Half the fun of the trip is traveling with a Rick Steves’ group which focuses on an energetic pace, staying at family-run boutique hotels (one night we stay at a castle in Motovun), and eating with local families or family restaurants.  It is all about experiences rather than just visiting touristy sights.  [The itinerary is listed below on the left side of the blog.]

My travel partner, Wanda, is a very talented artist and we both plan to sketch and paint the scenery as we travel.  A whole new color palette from the one we normally use in the Pacific Northwest.  And she is such fun to be around.  Really looking forward to our adventure together.

Three weeks away from home—I hope the husband and dog remember me.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Magic Moment–#8 Living Underwater

great_barrier_reefEver have a dream you are flying?  Soaring over the land and up over the mountains and down canyon walls?  The air is warm and soft.  In your sleep it is quiet; maybe the only sound you hear is your breathing.

Scuba diving in warm tropical waters is like that.  Almost mystical—a fantasy land with a colorful population big and small with a brilliant Oz landscape. 

The best dive was experienced on the Great Barrier Reef.  Popeye-sized clams, schools of neon-colored mini fish, and giant ones that shimmy up expecting you to stroke their smooth sides. 

With easy fin kicks, you glide through the turquoise blue water and around pink coral.  Sliding delicately out and beyond the edge of a 100-foot cliff, suspended in space, looking down in the darker and darker deep blue.

Sensual.  Not a dream.  Magic.

Friday, March 21, 2014

I Like Facebook

facebook-logo_000I like Facebook.  There, I said it and I am sure I will receive some strongly opposing opinions.  But, I truly enjoy it.  There are some frustrations with the social network, but I still feel the benefits outweigh the cons.  If you care to read, I will tell you why.

The friends and family we have are widely dispersed across the country.  Hardly possible to keep up with life events through personal visits and telephone conversations—there is just too much going on to keep everyone informed.  Reading Facebook posts, almost immediately, I know my sister will soon become a grandmother, my cousin is getting married, a favorite uncle has passed on or my friend has a new recipe or a new joke (it is not all serious, folks!).  It is fun and informative.  I have reconnected with long-lost childhood friends.  My invitations to special events are known in advance of any snail mail.

On the downside, political and religious opinions you would rarely discuss in a personal friendly visit are posted by a few.  I am disappointed by what some will post on the internet.  Civilized conversations should not include politics and religion.  That includes conversations on the internet.  You are not going to change anyone’s mind by a barrage of one-sided media—why torment your loved ones with your strong opinions.  Honestly, we either do not read it or we block it from appearing in our Facebook newsfeed.

For some, Facebook seems to take on a sinister objective—that Facebook invades privacy or it preys upon users.  But, it is up to you how public you want to make information and when you want to make it public.  And for god’s sake, do not click on the link with the porn picture or a grand claim to lose 50 pounds in two weeks.  Use your head.  Yes, Facebook is affiliated with retailers gathering information about you to target products.  But marketing professionals have been doing that very thing for 50 years, they are just using a different method now.  I really do not care that Zappo shoes knows I am looking for a new pair of boots.

So, I say to you.  Take off the tin-foil hat and jump into the 21st century.  Stay connected in a happy, healthy and very efficient way.

And you are right, I have just given my “opinion”.  Use it however you choose.  [Smile] 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Magic Moment–#7 My Mom

People often say my love of painting is passed along from my grandmother.  I believe my Mom gave me my love of art, not my Grandmother.  Her medium of choice is oils and very nostalgic subjects.   Although our methods and subject matter are completely different, she inspires me.  Her paintings adorn walls of many of our friends and family.  And her talents do not end there.

Mom & Sweet AdelinesShe loves to sing and sings well.  Performing many years in the Sweet Adelines and in a barbershop quartet (she is second from the right in the picture—nice gams, Mom!).  You would often find her Friday nights singing at the local pub with the piano player. 

And the woman can kick up her heels!  Hardly anyone holds a candle to her jitterbug.  Full of energy and a force to be reckoned with! 

At almost 81 years and still going strong, she continues to amaze me.  Love to you, my little magic Momma!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Blogging Administration

Hit quite a milestone two days ago—40,000 views of the blog…

My blog has been in existence for several years now; and I have to admit I have done very little to understand the administration or managing it.  Initially, time was spent selecting the layout, theme colors, and a few security features. The content is VERY much “what strikes my fancy”, more like a personal journal/journey of our retirement years.  Reminds me of the Seinfeld television series.  Really not about anything in particular.  Just enjoying life.

Some lessons about blogging have been picked up along the way.  I added the comment feature (click on “comment” below an individual post to leave a thought), but soon found that it was important to review or moderate before publishing each comment.  Before selecting this security feature a few comments were posted with questionable links or products.  They have been removed.  If you joined as a follower of my blog (I think I have 17 listed—shown on the left column—you can click the “join this site” button if you want to be a member), I believe my comment reply to you is not only shown on the blog, but also sent to your e-mail (let me know if this is true—it is only an assumption on my part).  If you are not a member, your comment shows as Anonymous (your name or email address is not known to me) and my reply is only shown on the blog post.  

The blog continues to be public.  I am not limiting to a few.  Anyone can read and my statistics show readers in the US, Europe and Asia.  Keeping it public is half the fun of a blog—I meet people through the blog that I would not normally meet.  I say that in a good way; there are interesting readers out there!

I have to say, I am enticed by other blogger layout features like the linking feature to previous posts to the most current.  Allowing an ad or two to generate some income, but I am certain the content will have to become a little more focused if that option is pursued.  

After saying all this, if you enjoy reading, thanks and glad to have you along for the ride.  If you wondered why your comments were left unpublished for a while, know that it does take a day or two to catch up with my mail and blogging. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Magic Moment–#6 Bad to the Bone

DowntownSturgis#8The blog normally shows me happy and “nice”.  And for the most part, I am a “good” girl.  Yet, there is an element of bad in me.  Is that so wrong?  Maybe that is why I enjoyed the Sturgis Bike Rally so much.  THE adult party and what a blast.  Not for the prudish--there is nudity, bad language, drinking, drugs and rock and roll.  (Honestly, I cannot remember who was playing.  It was either Joan Jett or Aerosmith?  Who knows.)

SturgisParty#4We road our Harley Heritage Soft Tail from south-eastern Washington over 1,000 miles one way to Sturgis, South Dakota in August 2003 and all the way back after a week of experiencing the Rally.   It was a bad-ass good time.  That year recorded close to 750,000 bikers, loud pipes and an international crowd.  I kid you not, my hearing was non-existent for days after the trip.  We met a wide variety of people at the rally—a cop from Chicago, another from New York City, a nice young couple from Toronto (on a trip away from their little ones), a guy from New Hampshire (picture right) running around with BBQ tongs pinching, well you can use your imagination—no gender was safe.   (He really was a hoot!  He had his own blow-up hot tub at his campsite.).

SturgisCamp#1SturgisParty#5The pup tent, sleeping bags and a few clean clothes were packed on the back of the bike.  We stayed at the Glencoe Campground (over 20,000 registered) where only two rules applied—no discharging firearms and you must pay to stay.  I normally do not like crowds, but this was damn exciting.  No need to smoke pot; the air was choked with it, you could just breath it in. 

Day 1a Lolo Pass-1The whole state of South Dakota is filled with bikers clogging the roads and parks the first week of August (not a car to be seen).  It was flat out awesome.  Some mighty big black magic happens here.  [No, I did not get naked; HBO was taping that year for a documentary.  Maybe next time…or maybe not.]