It was a very good year ~

And that year?  The year I arrived kicking and screaming into this world of, course.  August 29, 1948 to be exact.  So please bear with me because it seems I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to birthdays and aging and how quickly the days are passing.  Yikes!  Not to be morbid.  Just observing.  Perhaps I’m just savoring a little of what has been and wondering what the future holds for the little girl below.

So I thought it might be fun to take a stroll down memory lane.  Here’s what I dug up for 1948.   As you can see, it wasn’t exactly a banner year (well except for me).

  • 1948 was the Year of the Rat.
  • The Frisbee was created by Walter Morrison and Warren Franscioni.  The idea came from college kids who used to toss around empty metal pie plates for entertainment.  Plastic + pie plates = Frisbee.  Times were simpler then weren’t they?
  • Velcro was invented by George de Mestral.  George was a Swiss hiker and inventor.  His idea came from the burrs that stuck to his clothes while hiking. He didn’t exactly replace the zipper as he he hoped, but thanks to velcro my kids didn’t have to tie their tennis shoes until they were old enough to figure it out themselves.
  • Reddi Whip was developed by Bunny Lapin and was first sold door to door by St. Louis milkmen
  • A First Class Stamp cost 3 cents.
  • Ed Sullivan premiered on TV.  The show was Toast of the Town.
  • Bread rationing finally ended in England.  Chocolate was still rationed until 1949.
  • The Wurlitzer Juke Box was invented by Robert Hope Jones
  • Babe Ruth Died.
  • The 1948 summer Olympics were held in London.  The 1940 and 1944 Olympics were cancelled due to the second world war.
  • The State of Israel was created.
  • The first McDonalds restaurant opened.  Ray Kroc bought it 12 years later and the rest is fast food history.
  • Whirlpool introduced the first automatic wringer-washer.  I remember the hand wringer washer in my grandmother’s basement.  It was dangerous – just ask my sister.
  • The biggest hit song of the year was The Woody Woodpecker Song.   The Oscar winning song was Buttons and Bows.  Catchy lyrics I’m sure.
  • The first Polaroid Land Camera went on sale.  It took 1 minute to develop a photo.
  • A gallon of gas was 16 cents, a loaf of bread was 14 cents, and coffee was 85 cents for a two pound bag.
  • You could buy a nice new tract house for around $7,500.

I share this birth year with a few notable (and notorious) folks like Alice Cooper, Kathy Bates, Richard Simmons, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Al and Tipper Gore, Prince Charles, Squeaky Fomme (remember her?) and Clarence Thomas.

What’s the point in looking backward?  I’m not sure.  Maybe it helps you put context to who you are when you understand where you came from.   I don’t think I realized this for a long time.  I was too busy looking forward.  Planning for the future.  These days I find myself in the most intriguing place.  I am still looking forward with interest and anticipation.  I’m excited to be planning a whole new chapter in retirement living,  but I am also spending more time looking at where I’ve already been and holding all those special moments up to the light so I can see them clearly again (or really maybe for the first time) now that I have the time and the benefit of distance.  Seeing that little girl on her horse somehow gives me a deeper understanding of the 64 year old woman I am about to become.  I think it’s time I went out and bought myself a new beret.   Yee Haw Cowgirl!

Advertisements

You’ve Gotta Have Hope ~

Wordless Wednesday

I’ve seen a lot of bloggers who follow a practice called Wordless Wednesday.    One day a week they post only photos.  Sometimes a picture really is worth 1,000 words.  I was intrigued by the idea, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I had a wee bit of trouble with the “wordless” part, so here’s my version… almost wordless Wednesday.  Since my 64th birthday is sneaking up on me later this month, this one’s about Hope through the ages.

In my 40’s, Hope came in a jar…

In my 50’s, Hope merged with Wisdom…In my 60’s, I still have Hope, but I really need a Miracle…As for my 70’s and beyond, should I be lucky enough to get there?  I think I’ll throw Hope and caution to the wind and let it all hang out.  Something like this…

Trains, Ferries and a Pedicab ~

I’m sitting on the Amtrak waiting to pull out of Union Station in downtown Seattle.  Car 9.  Seat 2.  Seems like the perfect time to reflect on a near perfect weekend getaway.  Seattle is only three hours from Portland, but I find taking the train is so relaxing, especially when I’m traveling solo and a dear friend is picking me up at the end of the line.

I still romanticize riding the rails and, frankly, Amtrak is a world (or two) away from the glory days of train travel.  These days, taking the train is pretty much like taking the Greyhound bus only the passengers aren’t as interesting and generally, they smell better.   All things considered, the train is still a great way to go.  It’s even better when you get to ride the ferry back and forth from Seattle to Pt. Townsend.  What’s not to love about a state who’s ferry system is designated as part of the State Highway System?  I love that!  Thousands of people commute daily from the many surrounding islands into Seattle.  Hundreds of them in their cars.

Seattle Skyline from the ferry

So, what does the perfect girls’ weekend look like when the friend you’re visiting lives in a small town in the Pacific Northwest?  Something like this…

Spending time in the Rick Steve’s Travel Store and trying on his famous backpack and rollie all-in-one!  I’m a huge fan of Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door travel.

Sipping hand crafted fermented cider at the  Finn River Cidery.

Learning the art and science of home canning and making my first batch of dilly green beans for Sunday morning Bloody Marys.  Yum!

Stopping at quaint little towns like this one ~

Drinking a few “Painkillers” – the official drink of the British Virgin Islands – and feeling rather pain free myself by the end of the evening.

Eating my body weight in fresh caught crab at dinner – my first ever Crab Louie.  What rock was I living under that I missed this delicious treat all these year?

Cheering on the strong and the brave at the Hadlock Days Keg Toss at the Valley Tavern.

Hanging with good friends ~ Hours and hours of girl talk time.  Laughing ourselves silly.   

And, we certainly ended our weekend adventure in style … with not a cab in sight to take us from Pike Place Market to the Ferry Terminal (my friend) and the train station (me) we jumped into a four wheel/dune buggy style pedicab and our lovely driver Candy wheeled us away – wind in our hair, cars everywhere and two middle aged wild women laughing like crazy fools caught up in the sheer joy of the moment.  Just the way I like it!

Sisters ~

I come from a very small family so I’ve always envied friends who have a big extended circle of brothers, sisters, aunties, crazy uncles and cousins, lots and lots of cousins.  The idea of a family reunion so big that you actually have tee shirts made and you get to circle the wagons at the lake or the family compound in the woods and tell stories, and play games, and eat and drink and laugh and eat and talk, talk, talk sounds like a really big juicy slice of Heaven to me.  For me, this year’s reunion arrived in the form of my one beautiful sister who came all the way from Saipan and stayed with us for three weeks.  We’re a small but mighty family of two and our bond is tight.  We don’t have the tee shirts. (That’s a great idea for next time.)  But, just like the Big Ole Family Reunions I’ve dreamed about – here’s how our own little get-togethers go:  We eat (a lot because we try out every new place since her last visit).  We laugh.  We drink tea  (twice daily trips to my Starbucks where now everybody knows her name too).   And, mostly, we talk, talk, talk and then talk some more.  Hubs, keeps asking “What is there possibly left for you two to talk about?”  Answer – A LOT!  Every now and then, we widen the circle and let the Old Guy join us, or a friend or two, and the kids of course, but mostly these reunions are “all about us” and they’re pretty close to perfect.

We’re very different, my sister and I.  The paths we chose.  The places we’ve been.  The way we see the world.   She lives on the other side of the globe and I’m just starting to dream about being a world traveler.  My sister has a heart as big as Saipan, where she currently lives.  I’m the cranky one with the cockeyed sense of humor.  But, when we’re together, all that slips away and we’re the “Devitt Sisters” again.  We’re each others sounding board, cheerleader, mirror and spark of inspiration.  There’s a nourishment that comes every time – we’re the only ones who remember when (well, mostly I’ve forgotten and she reminds me) and we both know where the skeletons are buried – but nobody’s telling.

So here’s to families in whatever form they come and to reunions large and small, but mostly here’s to the bond that some sisters are so fortunate to have created and here’s to my own special sister.  I’m so glad we had this time together.

Same time next year?  Maybe we’ll even get Devitt Sister tee shirts made.

Night Driving ~

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you.”  E.L. Doctorow    I came across this quote about the writing process the other day, but I think it is right up there as some of the best advice on Life, I’ve heard in a while.

This really hit me right between the eyes yesterday when I drove to a friend’s house for dinner.  She lives on Parrott Mountain.  It’s really not much of a mountain, but for this city girl driving an SUV that still feels just a tad too big to handle + some steep curves + narrow (sometimes gravel) roads, + a lack of decent night vision = the whole drive kinda spooked me.  I arrived at her place already worrying about the drive back down and wanting to make sure I did that drive while it was still light.  It was in the back of my mind all evening and was obvious to the three dear women who were my dinner companions.  I was very cautious about my wine intake (not a bad thing that) and I was keeping one eye on the clock.  I let fear of some future unknown possibility lurk around and try to push out my enjoyment of the moment.  I pushed it aside.  It pushed back.  Fear does that if you let it.

We had a lovely time talking, laughing, eating a delicious dinner and finally playing a game called Mexican Train.  This game has many different rules, so we played by whatever rule worked in the moment.   I was playing by whatever rule would end the game quicker.  This didn’t work. The “ladies” (and after several glasses of vino, I’m using that term very loosely) called me out on my obvious worry.   Here’s the comment that hit the nail squarely on the head “You are planning to be a world traveler with a backpack and you are afraid to drive in the dark?  How’s that gonna work?”  Well, yes I am.  So, I probably won’t be doing any night driving in any other country either.  But, I got the point… clearly, I’ve got some work to do here.

And, because I’m sure you want to know, here’s how the evening ended.  Despite all my worry and planning, it got late and I was doomed to driving down the mountain in the DARK.  So, I followed a friend who knew the road, took an easier way and drove a little slower than she normally would have to lead me to the highway in about five minutes.  Piece of cake.  Why did I get all up in my head over nothing?  How many times do I let myself do this?  Way too many.  I think most people do in some way – maybe just not about driving in the dark.

Oh, and I did a little checking and it turns out I’m not the only one who has a problem driving in the dark.

Why Not? ~

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently” … and here’s to having friends who help you be a person who says Why not? instead of just Why.   Thanks to Steve Jobs and Apple for the inspiring quote and thanks to a special friend who always brings out the “why not crazy” in me.    I had a lot of time to think about this while we were at the tradeshow for the Bloomsday Race in Spokane, WA this weekend handing out red bracelets and temporary tattoos to thousands of people and inspiring them with the story of the Japanese word Gambaru ~ Never, Ever Give Up.   Why?  Because my friend called and I said Why not!   These race folks didn’t really get that two women (and two brave men) were just there to sprinkle some motivation and inspiration. In fact, I’m pretty sure that lots of people at the event thought we were just a little crazy.  I hope so!  A little crazy is the spice that makes life interesting.  It’s what opens the door to adventure and opportunity and many times crazy is the glue that bonds.

This particular friend, I’ll just call her Sallie, always feeds my creative monster.  She is the queen of  “why not” and then a new idea springs to life – and hang on – ‘cuz we’re off again.  I have to admit not every idea is a winner in the end, but with Sallie the journey is so much damn fun that it’s always worth it.  Worth keeping 10,000 red Gambaru bracelets, toxic fumes and all, piled 5 feet high in your guest bedroom closet for a year, worth talking your hubby into playing along and hauling all 90 bags of them down two flights of stairs and loading them into the back of the SUV and then driving 7 hours in pouring rain to Spokane.  Sallie is a glass 3/4 full kinda gal and she brings that out in me – every time.

The more time I spend on this planet, the more things change and the more important my connection to others becomes.  I value every one of my friends, young and old.  I learn from you every day.  And, here’s to the crazy ones – and you know who you are, my dears.  You are the colorful threads that help me weave this beautiful crazy quilt called LIFE.

By the way, here’s where Sallie first learned about GAMBARU.

A Letter to Nancy ~

You have no idea the treasures you find when you are clearing out stuff – hidden high up on a shelf, stuffed in the back of the closet or crumpled in the bottom of a drawer.  Things long forgotten, once held so dear.  Since we’ve been clearing out quite a bit at our house these days, I’ve had more than a few surprise finds and lovely moments spent reliving old memories.  There is nothing like a walk down memory lane to help steer you into the future.    So, last week I’m sorting and tossing when I came across a faded Travel Section from the Los Angeles Times dated October 12, 1986.  That was the year my sister moved to Hawaii and I was getting itchy feet to try something different myself.  Not an easy decision for a single mom with two kids.  I was (sort of like now) deeply immersed in the “what if” and “how the heck” of searching for the next chapter in my life. While reading through the LA Times, I opened the travel section to a beautiful full page photo of an ocean sunset in Bali entitled “a letter to Nancy”.   I am not kidding!  It gave me goose bumps.   Yes, that letter spoke directly to my 38 year old self and just touched my wanderlust-full 63 year old soul all over again.   I hadn’t seen it in years, but there it was ~ right when I needed to read it.   The whole story was over a page long, but I’d like to share the “sweet spot” with you.

“You are right, Nancy, there are no safe roads, no guarantees.  Only the joy of discovering the unknown.  Each day is a new adventure, a new experience, so there are no promises.  It comes to all of us that life itself is a risk.

Each moment begins as a mystery with joys hopes and fears in a pattern that changes constantly.  Otherwise there would be no peaks, no valleys.  Only boredom.

The second hand sweeps ahead while calendar pages fall like the leaves of an autumn afternoon.  Impatiently, life goes on and the tragedy of this adventure is failing to live each precious moment to its fullest.  To do otherwise is merely to exist.  You’d be surprised how swiftly youth is lost on advancing years, so spend those moments wisely, Nancy, without unnecessary fear.  This isn’t to say that one should be foolhardy; rather it means there is no road that guarantees a safe arrival.  Life offers no guarantees — only the joy of discovering the unknown.  So spend your precious moments wisely, Nancy.”

And so, 26 years later, I think I’m finally “getting” the message as we set off on this new journey.   That paper is back resting on the shelf.  Lesson learned and re-learned.  With any luck, 20 odd years from now, those same words will be encouraging me to live to the fullest whatever that might mean to my 80-something self.  Maybe I’ll be reading it on the beach at sunset in Bali.  That would really bring it full circle.