Technical Difficulties!

I had ever intention of blogging everyday, but that just wasn’t happening due to incredibly frustrating technical difficulties and just plain being busy climbing mountains!

If you are interested in my story, I’d suggest checking out my Instagram page <a href=”http://instagram.com/susaniv” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>instagram.com/susaniv</a>

I will also be posting on the blog’s Facebook page. You can do a search for A Slice of my Life, or just push the button at the right.

Sorry about not officially blogging, but I hope you join me in those other places!

Susan

Posted in Random stuff | Comments Off on Technical Difficulties!

Susan and I arrived at Heathrow yesterday afternoon. It always amazes me how exhausting it is to travel even if you are mostly just sitting. My Partner-in-Crime insisted that the best way to adjust ourselves to local time was to resist our natural urge to
sleep.We thought the best way to find something fun to do would be to ask for help at the hotel desk. The clerk thought for a moment and told us the only interesting thing in town rime insisted that the best way to adjust ourselves to local time was to resist
our natural urge to sleep.We thought the best way to find something fun to do would be to ask for help at the hotel desk. The clerk thought for a moment and told us the only interesting thing in town was the new bowling alley. She must’ve caught the less than enthusiastic glances Susan and I sent to each other as she quickly added that we could take public transport into London.An hour or so after that, we were armed with the highly detailed directions the clerk graciously wrote out for us after I asked her to please direct us to exactly where we needed to go after out the front door. We caught our first bus that was to take us to The Tube. Although we knew exactly which line and exit we needed to take, we were a little
stymied on how to actually purchase our ticket. So I asked the attendant. He gave us a bit of a hard time, but was quite willing to help
us. It wasn’t too long before we found ourselves in front of Buckingham palace just in time to witness the Changing of the Guard. We were thrilled!We wandered around Green Park for a bit, then made our way to Chinatown. We stopped
for nice dinner in one of the many restaurants as we haeaten all day. We really, really wanted to wander around as the night life was starting to pick up, but we could barely keep our eyes open and thought it best to make our way back to our hotel.I’d like
to say it was a piece of cake to travel back to our room, but a combination of unfamliar places, being overtired, and unused to the way English is spoken here, caused small delays. Still, we made it back. Such a great start to our trip. I cant wait for tomorrow!
Posted in Random stuff | Comments Off on

Blogging, Tech Support and Fairy Godmothers

One would think that it would be a fairly simple process to start blogging again. Just a bit of time at the keyboard, struggling to write a somewhat interesting story, do a quick scan for grammar, spelling and any other typos (husbands are generally very good at that sort of thing.), hit publish, then go on your merry way.

P1010331

Boy was I in for a surprise. Once I managed to write something that I could live with, I squinted up my face, and whispered a little prayer that folks would still like what I had to say and sent it out into the world. Sadly, my first blog post in forever didn’t go very far. It just…kinda…settled down into one of the odd little nooks and crannies in the World Wide Web.

It’s no secret that I’ve never been a strong techie person. My brain simply isn’t that logical. At one point in time, I could figure things out, but it was never something I enjoyed. Still, I needed to fix this, so my good friend, Google and I got to work. We figured out that my blog was running an outdated version of PHP. (I STILL have no idea what that is!) I found a website that said my web host provider should have been keeping that up to date. So, I contacted my domain provider. Mostly because I didn’t know the difference, and I had to start somewhere.

I started a “chat” with the most amazingly patient person you could ever imagine. I’m fairly certain that they were rolling their eyes as they answered all of my inane questions, and explained things to me with analogies that I could understand. They even went in with a magic wand (Or at least that’s what I envisioned) and coaxed the blog out of the cranny it was hiding in so that the world could see it. I was so impressed that this person went out of their way to help me with something that had absolutely nothing to do with their company that…well… I completely forgot what they said I had to do.

So, I contacted my Geeky Fairy Godmother, Edie. (She once made me drive her around to all the techie companies here in Seattle so that she could pose as a ballerina in front of them!) She did a little bit of hocus pocus behind the scenes and told me I was several version behind, and to just not worry about it until I came back from my Epic Trek Across England.

That seems like a simple process to me. Besides, who am I to argue with a Fairly Godmother?

P1010304

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Thank you for reading A Slice of My Life. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you liked this post, why not consider “liking” my Facebook Page, subscribing by mail (at the upper right) or signing up in a reader. I’d be thrilled and you would never miss a post. Oh…and I love comments!

Posted in Random stuff | 3 Comments

Being Impulsive

A little over a year ago, my friend Susan, who lives in San Diego, called me, as she often does. She had read an article in her local newspaper about something called the Coast to Coast Trail in England. She explained that it was a 192 mile walk across the entire country and that she wanted to gather a bunch of girlfriends to do it with her. Then she asked if I was in. I thought about it long and hard for about thirty seconds or so before impulsively saying “Sure! That could be fun!” Then I asked who else was coming. Susan rattled off a list of several names of women that I either knew or knew about. She had planned to invite a fun and lively group. It sounded so exciting! We decided that this would be the perfect thing to celebrate out 55th birthdays.

A few weeks later, when Susan and I were chatting again, she broke the news that nobody else was willing to commit to doing this challenging walk. She asked me, as she would ask me several more times over the next few months, if I was absolutely positive I was willing to do this. I answered, as I always did, that I said I would do it, so I would do it.

The thing is, it’s easy to agree to do something when you have more than a year to prepare for it. When I think about it, I’m not entirely why I agreed to do this insane trek. I didn’t really feel the need to mark my 55th year on this planet with anything epic . (Well, I did have an amazing birthday party, but that’s another story) I guess it just sounded like a good thing to do.

I suppose this is a good time to tell you that I wasn’t hiker…heck…I was barely a walker. As an overweight and rather sedentary woman, the very idea of walking a mile was rather daunting….nearly 200 miles just wasn’t imaginable. I immediately trained hard by reading blog posts about the train and re-joining the gym…and not actually going.
At the beginning of this summer, I realized that this was really happening and I had better get serious. So I spend a few hours getting fitted for the right hiking boots for me and then pestered my more experienced girlfriends to go walking with me. I don’t think they knew how terrifying it was to me to go off the sidewalk, onto a trail.

In just over a week, I will climb on a plane to England. (technically I will go to Portland first!) We will have a few days to explore and then hit the trail. Hopefully all my training will pay off, and I’ll have as much fun as I envisioned last June when Susan invited me to join her.

I hope you’ll follow along.Image may contain: Susan Ivory, smiling, tree, sky, outdoor, nature and closeup

Posted in Random stuff | 7 Comments

Those Dashing Young Men

Note: This is a repost from  November 10, 2011  It seems apt to post it today.

When I was about twelve or thirteen, one of my girl friends and I were allowed to take the city bus to Third Avenue.  This was the downtown area of our small city, filled with a plethora of small shops and eateries.  We felt so grown up on our exciting adventures of lunching and shopping. 

One of the doors that we always passed on our rare jaunts was intriguing to me.  There were two signs on the door that always seemed to be propped open.  One announced that it was for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The other boldly stated that nobody under the age of twenty-one was to come inside. 

The mystery of what lay beyond that dark and smoky doorway nearly drove me nuts. My over-active imagination visualized dashing young men in a variety of uniforms, speaking with exotic accents, wearing peg legs and eye patches. I imagined them sitting in that gloomy room speaking in reverent tones about the battles they had fought, and of course won, upon the shores of somewhere far, far away.  

I remember peering through that door hoping to catch a glimpse of a handsome stranger. Yet, being the rule-follower that I was, dared not cross the the threshold until I had reached the ripe age of twenty-one.  How I longed to see what was beyond that doorway. 

It’s interesting to see the perspective that several years of wisdom can give us.  I still don’t know what was behind that door that is no longer on Third Avenue.  I’d guess that it was a bar, but beyond that…maybe some sort of support group? I have no idea.

I do know that there is nothing romantic about war. I also know that there is a lot more to being a veteran than fighting in one.  Men and women serve our country in so many ways.  Some fly helicopters, some are mechanics, others peel potatoes in the mess hall to nourish our troops.  All have important jobs to protect the freedoms that have been fought for all of us, since the beginning of our great nation. 

I love the stories I hear of returning troops being applauded in airports. The tales of strangers that come up members of our armed services just to thank them for all they have done.  Shamefully, we haven’t always treated our troops with such honor.  I’m glad that we live in a time that now treats them as the heroes they are.   I encourage you to take a moment today to pause and think of our vets. And all the sacrifices that they and their families have made.  

Heritage John 021

My father, when he was a dashing young sailor.  (Who always refused to wear an eye patch or a peg leg.)

Happy Veterans Day!

Posted in Random stuff | Comments Off on Those Dashing Young Men

Magical Fall

When I was a young girl, I had come to the conclusion that the magical changing of the leaf colors in autumn was due to the work of an elusive woodland elf. In my mind, his name was Henry. He, of course, was one of Jack Frost’s many cousins. Instead of waving his magic wand and transforming our world into a Winter Wonderland with frost and delicate icicles, Henry merrily splattered fiery hues of orange, red, yellow and brown on most of the leaves for his own amusement.

burning bush2

Somewhere on the way to adulthood, I realized that a paintbrush wielding elf named Henry was highly unlikely. I have to confess that if the glorious colors of fall couldn’t be a result of magic, then it didn’t matter to me. If I did think about it, I was vaguely aware that it had something to do with the weather getting cold and making the leaves die. Oh, and it was pretty to look at. Recently, I learned that fall color actually can be explained by a certain kind of magic. It’s a progression called senescence, or the process of aging and death. It’s all explained by science.

It turns out that fall color actually starts long before fall. All summer long, leaves bask in the long hot days, soaking up the sunshine and converting it into sugars using chlorophyll in the process of photosynthesis. Each leaf makes more than it needs, so it passes glucose and minerals such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium into the xylem of the tree in a process called translocation. They are then stored in the roots and stems of the tree. In return, water is passed back to the leaf so that it can continue its food making efforts.  

Towards the end of summer, the tree “notices” that the daylight hours are getting shorter. This is a signal that it’s time to stop food production and start shutting down for the winter. The leaves are no longer needed as there isn’t enough light or water available in the winter for them to produce food.

A layer of cells called the “abscission” or separation layer that is located between the tree stem and the petiole or stalk of the leaf starts to thicken, limiting the flow of resources between the tree and the leaf. When the flow between the leaf and tree begins to be cut off, there is still glucose trapped in the leaf. This is when the color magic happens.

The chlorophyll that is used in food production, and makes the leaf appear green begins to break down and isn’t replaced, as it is all summer. As the green coloring fades, the other pigments that are always present in the leaf, but masked by the overpowering chlorophyll begin to shine. The yellow pigments are called xanthophylls and the orange ones are carotenoids. Brown colorings come from tannin, a waste product.

Some trees, have more pigments called anthocyanin that, when exposed to abundant sunshine, “cook” the trapped glucose and develop into bright reds, purples and bronzes. Cool night temperatures, paired with sunny days create the best color as it encourages the formation of the anthocyanins. Researchers are not quite clear why a leaf would expend the extra energy to develop these colorings when the leaf will soon fall off. One theory is that it serves as an anti-freeze allowing the leaves to last longer. Other thoughts are that the reds may serve as a warning for pests not to lay eggs or as a sunscreen or even to limi water loss.

burning bush

Interestingly, color displays are different in various areas of the world. The amount of sunshine, temperature changes and soil moisture as well as plant genetics all play a huge part in the array of fall color. It’s fascinating to think that the same exact cultivar of tree can look stunning in one area, and just look average or even boring in another area of the world.

All too soon the abscission layer becomes completely blocked and the leaf tears off, gently floating to the ground. If left there, the warm blanket of leaves will help insulate the tree and eventually start to break down, thus even after it has fallen, supply the tree with its remaining nutrients.

Somehow, I think this process is even more exciting and magical than a woodland elf with a bucket of paint. I’d like to think that my old friend Henry would agree.

Posted in Gardening, Horticulture | Comments Off on Magical Fall

The Plants and I

I suppose I should admit that I wasn’t always interested in plants. In fact, I did my very best to be somewhere, anywhere, else all those weekend mornings that my dad held reveille at the crack of dawn. Dad had grown up on a farm and thought it would be a great character-building experience to head out to work the fields…er…the smallish garden in our back yard every weekend. I always thought there had to be better ways to build character.

When I got old enough to move into my first apartment, I was given a small plant as a housewarming gift. To my amazement, my little green friend grew and flourished with just the smallest bit of attention. Charmed, I set about finding him a whole set of adoptive siblings. We all lived quite happily together until my cat had kittens. It turns out that kittens think the dangling leaves of plants are delightful to play with. They also considered the soil the plants lived in to be far superior to traditional kitty litter. By the time the kittens were old enough to go to new homes, my plants had moved on to that garden in the sky. I realized then, that I must not a Plant Person.

Flashing forward multiple years, I found myself teaching a few preschool classes at our local Parks and Rec department. The director decided for reasons that are still unclear to me, that I should develop and teach a parent-child gardening class. It didn’t matter that I claimed to have no knowledge of gardening and had even brandished my Brown Thumb at her. She was adamant that I was the one to teach this class.

I had a couple weeks to frantically research gardening and plants in general. My challenge was to design a program simple enough for a three year old to understand, yet compelling enough to hold the interest of an adult. The more I studied, the more fascinated I became with the flora around me. When the first day of class arrived, I was ready. The parents treated me as though I were an expert in the field. They had zillions of questions to ask about the gardens surrounding our outdoor classroom, and to my astonishment, I knew most of the answers. Somehow, I was hooked on plants again.

fushia

Since then, I’ve spend more time and money visiting nurseries than I should probably admit. For the last few years, my friends and I have been coming to the plant sale held at one of our local colleges. My friends always looked around in awe at the lovely plants. I, on the other hand, in addition to admiring the plants, have enviously observed the students that had grown all those beautiful plants.

This last year, I became an empty nester. With no kids in the house and just a part-time job, I decided that the time was finally right for me to join those students and go back to school to learn about the plants that I enjoy so much.

It was a scary decision. School was a long time ago, and a lot of things have changed. To be honest, I was filled with self-doubt. Fortunately, I have the full support of my family and friends. As was mentioned by both of my instructors on the first day of school, this is the start of a wonderful new adventure.

I’m so glad I decided to take that first step.

Posted in Gardening, Horticulture, It's all about me! | 3 Comments

Sheer Joy

My fingers have been itching.

They want to write again. I look at them and remind them that there’s no time to sit and simply write for the sheer joy of writing. Then I pause a moment, and wonder at what I’m thinking. No time for joy? When did that happen? I’ve always been a firm believer in making time for the things that make my heart happy. When I think about it, the urge to write has been creeping up on me and silently sneaking in.

I first noticed a few months ago when I realized that keeping a day planner was becoming one of the newest Things. Going Old School by keeping track of daily life by writing everything down on paper appealed to the Luddite in me. Decorating it with stickers, stamps, paint whatever (Just do a quick search on Pinterest to see what I’m talking about) was just the frosting on the cake. It wasn’t too long before I was the proud owner of a planner. (Ok, technically, I was the proud owner of three…I had a hard time deciding which I wanted. My plan was to stare at them for a while and return the extras.)

I had a wonderful time making my pages colorful and loud. Then jotting down all my appointments, to do’s and other lists. I made a point to reserve a small square in which to scrawl a reminiscence from each day, just as I have been doing for the last few years in a small monthly calendar. Without realizing it, I had started to write more and more until there were no more lists or appointments in my planner. Instead, I seemed to be writing a journal.

Then last month, it was time to renew the blog or let it go. It didn’t seem to matter that I’ve barely thought about my blog, I couldn’t seem to close it down. “Write,” it whispered to me, “Just write.”

And so, I will shake off the rusty feelings of inadequacy and scratch those itchy fingers by letting them write. In the process, I hope I rediscover my joy of simply writing. I hope you stick around to join me.

Posted in Random stuff | 1 Comment

Cookie Logic

I’d been trying my best to eat healthier for the past few months. In the summer, with the easy outdoor living and abundance of fresh fruit and veggies everywhere you looked, it was fairly simple. As the seasons changed, I yearned for the comforts of fall. Cozy sweaters, a cheery fire and warm, spicy whiffs of goodness wafting from the oven.

I knew that it was certain folly for me to bake an entire batch of yummy treats. I simply didn’t have the self-control required to indulge in moderation. So I did the next best thing. I decided to experiment with a cookie recipe for the parent/child cooking class that I teach. To my amusement, the tantalizing aroma of the baking cinnamon, sugar and vanilla drew my family out of the spaces they had been squirreled away in like starving rats. Eager faces turned to disappointment as they saw the single portion serving I had made. There wasn’t even much to lick off of the spoon.

“Make some more!” they insisted, “And put chocolate in it this time!” With a sigh, I explained to my family that I didn’t think that my sweet tooth could handle the temptation of baked goods in the house. Of course they swore that they would eat it all so I didn’t have to worry about it. I had to explain to my sweet children that it wasn’t healthy for them to eat that much sugar either.

“You know,” said Shaun, “I could always take the extra in for my team at work.”

“Oh, that’s not a bad Idea. So, you need a couple dozen?” I asked thinking that should more than enough for his team of about six or eight, most of whom were young men.

“Well, I was thinking more about a hundred, hundred-fifty. I’d have to bring them in for the entire team, it’s only fair.” He answered.

“Oh.”

One hundred cookies? Was that man completely insane? Why on earth did he think it was a good idea to go from supplying a few extras, to asking me to spend hours in the kitchen for a bunch of people I didn’t even know?

“I’m sorry” I said. “I can’t do that, it would take me forever. Do you even know how many dozen cookies that is? I can make it for the smaller team, maybe you can rotate who gets them. This simply isn’t possible for me.

My husband, of course, skipped past my ranting and focused on the one little question I hadn’t even realized I had thrown out there. “I don’t know…how many are in a dozen.”

“Twelve” I answered in disbelief at his response to my outburst.

“Just over eight and a half” he said.

At my confused look, he slowly said that 100 cookies is about eight and a half dozen. In my mind, that changed everything. Nine dozen cookies was a completely different story. I would be happy to bake those. And more importantly, get them out of the house. It’s a win-win.

Shaun knows me well. He just has to use the right Cookie Logic on me.

 choc chip cookies

Did I mention that he takes them to work on his bike?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Thank you for reading A Slice of My Life. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you liked this post, why not consider “liking” my Facebook Page, subscribing by mail (at the upper right) or signing up in a reader. I’d be thrilled and you would never miss a post. Oh…and I love comments!

Posted in Family, Food, That Man O' Mine, vegan | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Cookie Logic

It’s June

This past week or so has been glorious. As in bright, sunny, wonderfully warm, this must be-the-middle-of-summer, take-the-top-off-your-Jeep because it’s sooo glorious. Then this morning when I let the dogs out, I couldn’t help but notice that the skies were back to the lovely Seattle grey that we are so accustomed to.

“It’s ok,” I told myself staring up toward the heavens, “Today is the first day of June…this is merely June Gloom, the sun will be shining again before you know it.” Then the first drop of rain fell in my eye.

WP_20150601_18_04_10_Pro

I never did see the sun today.

In all honesty, that’s okay. Well, mostly okay. You see, Seattle is not supposed to be sunny in June. In fact, local lore insists that summer doesn’t start until July 5th. Amazingly, this is pretty accurate. I can’t tell you how many 4th of July BBQs have been held on gloomy days. The firework displays are nearly always bursting on an overcast background. Then the next day? Poof! It’s summer.

In the meantime, my fledgling garden will enjoy the sunshine we do get and all my wonderful weeds (and a few intentional plants) will thrive with the rain.

Happy June!

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Posted in Random stuff | Comments Off on It’s June