Sunday, June 14, 2015

Why We Travel

Yesterday, we walked on the Kingston ferry to downtown Edmonds.  Beautiful sunny day.  Tree/flower laden little town square lively with people enjoying a Saturday. 

scotlandbargeThe purpose of our trip was to attend a Rick Steves travel presentation about his company “Europe through the Back Door” and the philosophy of his travel approach.  Rick actually gave the talk (I sat in the front to see him—Rick is one my heroes—for many reasons).  The travel company is quite large, employing over 100 people.  They are not a travel “agency”; they do not arrange air transportation, rental cars or hotels.  Instead Rick Steves & Company inspires us and informs us how to experience European trips that are not only historically educational by viewing locations and structures, but more importantly broadening culturally by interacting with the people and their way of life.  We can accomplish this by taking a Rick Steves tour and/or applying his travel philosophy.

I came away from the presentation once again energized and primed for another trip to Europe.  This summer we plan to visit Scotland and see the Highlands and Highlanders by floating down the Caledonian Canal on a barge.  Only 8-passengers and lots of Scottish whiskey with an occasional bagpipe.  We will make our way through Loch Ness and past preserved and ruined castles.

I once had someone scoff at traveling by saying they could see just as much sitting in front of the television.  Really?  Maybe they catch a glimpse of a place, but they certainly do not experience it.  For me, it is inspirational experiences and broadening my outlook of the world, that make life so exciting—not just Europe, but everywhere we visit.  Come on!  Get out there!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Magic Moment #11–Foraging (Update on Teas)

lemonbalmLast Saturday our wild edibles class covered the use of different plants for teas, both for enjoyment and medicinal.  Our course does not focus on medicinal uses from wild edibles, but most seem to be used for some ailment or overall health benefit.  We tried lemon balm tea, cedar tea (surprisingly, quite good), raspberry tea, sheep sorrel tea, catnip tea, and quite a few others. 

Our instructor makes a tea for her partner, who struggles with asthma.  For her, the tea has worked well enough to replace the inhaler.  Here is the "recipe" for the nervine tea that helps with asthma and is a good general calmative.  (Note:  Helps as a preventive; not during an episode.)

(Photo of lemon balm – part of the mint family)

For 1 mug (or smaller, for concentrated dose)

  • 1-2 chamomile tea bags
  • 2 medium sized lemon balm leaves
  • 2 medium sized catnip leaves
  • 1 big pinch of ground/shredded licorice root

As instructed--with any medicinal tea, sip rather than guzzle.

Happy Health!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Magic Moment #11–Foraging (Update on Nettle)

StingingNettle0396The trick to picking stinging nettle is do not, I repeat, do not let it touch your skin.  Use rubber gloves, a long sleeve shirt, long pants, socks, and sturdy shoes.  In our weekly Saturday class, we had one gal accidently reach into the box of fresh nettle the instructor brought.  She was in agony until she was instructed to roll up a nettle leaf (with gloves) and mash it adding a little water (or spit, whatever is most readily available).  Then squeezing out the nettle juice on to the affected area, the blistering and “fire” will subside, somewhat.  (Photo from  http://www.wildwoodsurvival.com/survival/food/edibleplants/nettle/)

On to cooking nettle.  With your gloves on, snip off the leaves into cool water and rinse off little spiders and dirt.  Then place into  boiling water for two minutes.  Remove the leaves and the hot water is now a delicious tea!  (The nettle tea can also be used as a rinse on your hair to make it shine.)  Place the cooked leaves into a blender with garlic, parmesan cheese, and olive oil (your choice on consistency, but it needs to be somewhat of a paste.)  This makes the best pesto I have ever eaten.  We had this on top of mashed potatoes.  Just delicious.  It compares to fresh cooked spinach, but with a little sweet-ness.  Packed full of iron and protein.

The only downside is the preparation and care needed to bring it home for cooking.  But, I will try this again.  It is that good.

Made a salad of miner’s lettuce yesterday with ranch dressing and fresh radishes from our friend’s garden.  Tastes a little “green” compared to Romaine, but very flavorful.  We found a huge growth area under a tree a little over a block away from the house. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Magic Moment #11–Foraging (Update)

flowering miners lettuceWhy is foraging in the woods so exciting to me?  Free food.  Fresh.  Finding treasure!  April 25, 2014 I shared with you my past experiences with foraging and plans to continue on the Olympic Peninsula.  Exactly one year after that post, I enrolled in  a class, “Wild Edibles” through the Peninsula College.  Let me tell you, the “O” Peninsula is a treasure trove of plants that are both edible and have medicinal properties. 

Our first class on April 25, began with a quick overview of approximately 20 plants.  The class was held outdoors at the Railroad Park in Sequim (old forest area with trails, restored railroad bridge provides biking/hiking trail over the Dungeness river).  After the quick introduction, we headed into the woods to identify the plants.  We only took 2 steps and immediately found edibles—miners’ lettuce, dandelions, nettles, and much more.  The miners’ lettuce is unbelievably good—smooth texture, mild pleasant taste, and so pretty!  It grows in the shade everywhere! [Photo left by Hank Shaw]

stinging nettleThe second class (there are six sessions) was held in the kitchen preparing different parts of the dandelion.  This time of year, the dandelion root and leaves are bitter and I am not a fan, will try again January through March when it is supposedly “sweet”.  BUT..the yellow flower made into a syrup is a cross between maple syrup and honey.  And I am a big fan!

Today, we learn how to pick stinging nettles and “dead” nettles (not really dead—not stinging).  In the kitchen we’ll prepare a nettle pesto sauce and a tea.  [Photo of nettle right]  Will let you know how it is…

Friday, April 24, 2015

Magic Moment–#23 Balance

A friend of mine recently posted a picture on Facebook of a few her friends crossing a creek (and I think she was in the photo also).  All of them over 60 years old and slowly crossing the water with walking sticks.  The photo was taken by her 28-year old daughter who easily made a graceful single leap over the entire stream. 

The visual hit me.  These people were all my peers—all the same over 60 age bracket.  Of course, I do not have youthful balance either at this age.  Besides the stiff joints and bones a little more brittle these days, my balance has become a wobble at times.  I can work on my equilibrium through exercise and yoga (and I do), but it is nothing like my younger years.

tracksinwoodsRemember how good it felt to run like the wind, arms flailing, jumping over fences, down steep hills.  One moment (I was 15-16 years old) sticks in my mind of balancing under railroad tracks on a trestle beam.  We were on vacation deep in the woods somewhere in Washington State.  High in the air with both arms out, just like a tightrope walker.  Not just me, but I dared others to take the walk.  We were sweaty with fear, but was it ever exhilarating!

Older, wiser I would never attempt this now.  (We would have most certainly been hurt badly, if we fell from that height.)  But, I still remember the feeling of being invincible.  On top of the world.

[Photograph from Pinterest; author unknown.]

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Where You Live

This week I drove over to Port Townsend with my friend, Wanda, and a new friend, Jean, to spend the day window shopping and for a fun lunch (PT has many cute little restaurants and quaint shops).  Our new friend is British and a former model; she is tall, thin, and still wears very nice attire, at least for the Olympic Peninsula.  A lovely person.  During the course of the day, we found out that Jean is very unhappy living on the Olympic Peninsula.  She misses the big city (prior to retiring she lived near San Francisco), upscale restaurants, and abundant shopping.

olympicnatlparkSo why did she pick the Olympic Peninsula?  After reading about the hottest places to retire, Jean and her husband first settled in Las Vegas.  She quickly found out that the place was too hot—thermally, that is—for them.  They went back to the internet/magazines and looked at recommended retirement locations with a milder climate and decided the Olympic Peninsula would suit them better.  Well, it did not.  The weather was fine, but the remote location was not what they expected.  Once they came to that realization, they had already bought a home and spent quite a bit upgrading the place making it difficult to relocate again.

While we were traveling in the RV across the country, we ran across others who were unhappy in their retirement location choices.  Almost without exception they had relied on a magazine article, internet research, or a friend’s recommendation and relocated—without spending much time there physically beforehand.  And they really did not spend some time understanding their retirement lifestyle.

Before reading or researching, we found understanding our lifestyle, our personalities and wants was the first order of business.  Living full-time in our RV for two years gave us an opportunity to experience many a new location’s community, weather, activities we enjoy (hiking, fishing, golfing, art workshops, social), affordability, and size.   We picked our town on the Olympic Peninsula because we like the beautiful forests (Olympic National Park is within a few miles), the mild weather, small town (with ‘no traffic’), reasonable home prices and wonderful community.  If you like to shop, eat in an exclusive restaurant, have lots of big-name entertainment, or a national sports team in your area, then, trust me, our retirement paradise isn’t your cup of tea.  [smile]

Make sure you know your priorities for a personal quality of life and spend some time experiencing a location to ensure all or most of your personal wants/needs are satisfied. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Magic Moment– #22 Into the Woods

20150302_183529Ohanapagosh Campground in the Mount Rainier National Park is very special.  I camped here as a kid, as a teenager and as an adult.  Never stopped loving it.  The old growth forest is untouched.  The trails lead into a dark, green environment.  We would escape from the hot eastern Washington summers to this cool place.

Smell of fir.  Smell of berries.  Warm in the opening through the trees.  Very cool in the shade.  Sounds of trees creaking in the wind and the whoosh of the boughs swaying back and forth.

The Ohanapagosh river runs through the campground.  Icy cold.  One trail takes you to a waterfall.  When the path turns back to the campground, you must traverse a bridge very close to the cascade of water—almost always wet with spray.

My latest painting (left) is this trail.  I need to go again. 

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