House Sitting in The Country ~

I am currently enjoying the best house sitting assignment ever – on a vineyard overlooking a beautiful valley right in the heart of Oregon wine (and farm) country.  On a clear day, you truly can see forever.

For ten days of chicken wrangling, bird feeding, garden watering and loving-up a grey-haired-handsome-boy-kitty named Winston, I am living la pura vida in the hills of Dundee.  I am also learning the ins and outs of rural living.  And, in case you were wondering, life is pretty good out here in the country.  And just a little bit different than this city gal is used to. Not a Starbucks in sight, but the wine is top notch!

The only downside so far?  The Green Acres theme song keeps playing in my head.

And now you are humming it too.  You’re welcome!

I don’t know if the country life is the life for me, but I am savoring every moment of my country adventure.  Here are a few snaps I took the other day.

You know you are in the country when…

Fashion takes on a whole new meaning.

Fashion takes on a whole new meaning.

Maybe they make shoes to go with the outfit?

Maybe they make shoes to go with the outfit?

Making hay while the sun shines.  You've gotta be quick in Oregon

Making hay while the sun shines. You’ve gotta be quick in Oregon

 

So, a gnome wanders into a vineyard...

So, a gnome wanders into a vineyard…

Never seen this in the city.

Never seen this in the city.

farmcountry5

Call now before the sign is covered in weeds.

Yes indeed!

Yes indeed!

And my personal favorite ~

Farmer humor

Farmer humor

Stay tuned for more adventures.

Cheers!

Magic Moments ~ a photo essay

Good news!

We saw the sun in Oregon this week.  Several times.  And it was glorious.  I was inspired to get out and walk, walk, walk.  That is always good news.  Even better, I just started a new online photography class and although I’m still using my tiny point and shoot camera, it’s been so much fun to once again slow down and wait for the every day magic to appear.   One of our lessons this week was exploring what photographers call the “magic hour”.  That’s the hour right around sunrise and sunset, when the light practically glows and photographers capture their best shots.

So off I went, less than ten minutes from the house, to see what my camera and I could find.  We were not disappointed.

applebarn

Apple bar in the warm glow of sunset

treessunset

Sunset through the old walnut orchard

farmblue

Magic hour at the farm

farmandfield

Tranquility just three miles from my townhouse

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These were taken in the morning light.  The ducks put on a show.

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Duck Yoga

duck

Mamma Duck

What a beautiful reminder to stop and experience the beauty of every sunset and sunrise.  And, since it’s almost Spring, take time to smell the roses that will be blooming before you know it.

Life is full of magical moments.  I’m so happy I could share a few of my favorites with you.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

What Makes a Great Partner ~ the sequel

This video says it all about being a partner and a friend.  And, if you read my earlier post on partnership, you’ll agree that these two have #4 (comedian and straightman) down pat.  Go girls!

And to my dear sister…may we be our own version of Irene and Alice 30+ years from now.

Cheers to best friends and partners everywhere,

Nancy

And thanks to Steve Harvey for sharing two amazing women with us.  They are truly an inspiration.

Old Dogs ~ the art of aging gracefully

I’m pretty much an old dog and I know it.  But I’m not too old to learn a new trick or two.  One of them is the art of graceful aging.

Professional photographer Nancy LeVine has been poignantly capturing beauty in the watery eyes, graying muzzles and wizened faces of elder canines for the past nine years.  Senior Dogs Across America is Nancy’s personal project and you can see her love of each subject that stands before her camera – often on slightly tottering legs.

Nancy has traveled to every region of the country to meet elderly dogs and the humans who love and care for them.   She says she’s learned a great deal about aging with dignity from her work.  Dogs live in the moment – right up until their very last moment.   They aren’t fretting about the past or planning for the future.  They are here now.  And that’s enough.   It’s a trick we human old dogs could all work on perfecting.

Nancy has a wonderful Senior Dogs Across America Facebook page and a book in the works.  Click here to see more photos in Nancy’s online gallery.

Cheers!

Nancy

A Hearty High-Five for Volkssport Walking

Sometimes we walk alone…

Selfie at the Volkswalk

Selfie at the Volkswalk

And that’s what I did this weekend. While hubs was winging his way to sunny Florida, I was invited to participate in an AVA sponsored 10k walk. The sun was bright and it was a balmy 45 degrees so I joined a group of 100+ hearty souls for the Pre-Super Bowl Walk sponsored by the Columbia River Volkssport walking club. This walk was very easy and rated 1A. There is a rating system that goes all the way to 5. This event was well organized, the volunteers were friendly and helpful.  I wasn’t looking for credit stamps so I walked for free.  I haven’t investigated how the whole IVV/AVA system works yet, but there are clubs and walks all over the the world.  Members have books and get stamped for each walk they compete.  I think it’s $3.00 if you are going for stamps and I’m here to tell you that there was lots of stamping going on. Most people came with a walking buddy or two, but there were lots of single walkers too. It was an easy-going, friendly group. The average age was somewhere mid-50’s.  Lots of gray hair, but these folks were fit and energetic and many well into their 70’s were passing me on the street.

I’ve been thinking about doing one of these walks for a long time and I am so glad I finally found one that fit my schedule.  Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. doesn’t work if you are still chained to the office.   I wonder how long it will take after I finally retire to not think I have to cram all my fun activities into the weekend.

Hubs doesn’t know it yet, but I’ve already signed us up for another Volkswalk.  This one is on February 15.  It’s called The Heartbreaker Walk. And the route is sure to get the old heart muscle pumping.  It’s 11km and rated a 3C – for the hills and stairs.

I also picked up a flyer for the Columbia River Gorge Biennial Classic – 13 walks and 1 bike – June 19-22, 2014.  Walks range from 5km to 25km, rated 1A to 4C (straight up?).  What a great way to enjoy a weekend in the beauty of the gorge.  In addition to all of the walking, this is also a social weekend with picnics, potlucks, a buffet dinner and a cruise on the Sternwheeler.  And, it’s hub’s birthday weekend. Happy Birthday, honey! bg-splash

Sound interesting?  Click here to find out more about the IVV (International Volkssport) and the AVA (American Volkssport) associations, their walks and all of the other non-competitive events they sponsor worldwide.

Then lace up your shoes and get going.  If you want to walk in the Portland area and need a walking buddy, call me.

See you on the road (or the trail),

Nancy

Purpose, Passion & Reinventing Retirement ~

What are you doing for the next 20 years?

Retirement means very different things to each of us.   For some, it’s the old-style American Dream of what I call “I don’t do very much, and I do it slowly” where you work to a certain age, cash in your chips and take up a life of leisure.  No work.  No worries.  And certainly no responsibilities.

But, here’s the rub.  Here’s what’s missing in this picture for me, and apparently for a lot of other retirees and boomers who are just starting to think about what retirement might mean for them.   Purpose.  I’ve talked to so many women who’ve been retired one or two years and while they’ve enjoyed the freedom to toss out the alarm clock or sip coffee and read the paper when others are lining up like lemmings for the morning commute, these friends are starting to feel the itch to do something more.  Something meaningful.  Something that feeds the soul, or the creative spirit, or maybe even leaves a tiny reminder that we were here and it made a difference.

These days lots of people are re-inventing retirement.   Many are leaving old careers to create new ones.  On their own terms.  Remember when we told our kids “You can be anything you want to be.”?   Well, we said it but we didn’t always believe it, and many of us (me) didn’t actually do it ourselves either.   I had bills to pay and work, meaningful or not, was how I paid them.  Today’s retirement is our second chance to be anything we want to be and we’re going for it – by becoming senior entrepreneurs, re-claiming long lost passions like painting, fly-fishing, or running.   Some of us are exploring new creative outlets: cooking, travel blogging and anything else we can dream up.  Yes indeed, our generation is once again doing what we do best –  making waves and creating change.  We are turning that old-style retirement model upside down.  And why not?  We’ve got 20 or 30 good years ahead of us after we turn in our office card key and name badge.  Let’s make them the best damn years of our lives.  Lives full of passion, purpose and meaning.  Let’s be busier than ever creating joy and spreading inspiration.   Let’s make a difference and have fun while we’re doing it.

That’s  exactly what these recent winners of the Encore.org Purpose Prize are doing ~

A hearty High-5 to Ed Nicholson, the 71 year old founder of Project Healing Waters.   Ed, a retired military man, founded Healing Waters to help disabled soldiers and vets heal from the physical, mental & emotional toll of war through fly fishing.  Cast by cast, line by line, his organization is making a difference in lives across America.

Congratulations to Nancy Armitage who launched an encore career that combines her professional experience, creative joy and family history when she created Memories in the Making.   Supported by the Alzheimer’s Association, Nancy’s organization brings the power of expression to those who have lost their words due to Alzheimer’s.  Through Nancy’s inspiration, art becomes their voice.

And finally, a You Go Girl to Vicki Thomas, who, at 64, was a successful marketing and PR executive, but felt something was missing in her life.  When she saw a CNN news story about Dale Beatty and John Gallina, two injured Iraq vets who where changing lives, she knew immediately what she had been missing:  a higher purpose.  Vicki picked up the phone and cold-called them with an offer of help and a desire to make a difference by joining their Purple Heart Homes project where among their many services, they are adapting foreclosed homes for wounded soldiers.

This is not your grandmother’s retirement.   Our generation is living longer and stronger.  We’re taking up causes big and small.  We’re sharing our experience and our expertise. We’re going back to school.  We’re heading out to see the world.  We’re re-igniting our creative spark.  Just like the Raging Grannies, we’re making noise.  We won’t go quietly into the night.   We’re starting a Retirement Revolution and I want to be part of it.

How about you?  Rocking chair or revolution?  Or, maybe a bit of both?

Want to learn more about what’s going on at Encore.org? Click on over to their website Read the fascinating stories of all the 2013 Purpose Prize winners here.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

What began as an idea for a diverting day trip for soldiers has evolved into Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), the organization Nicholson, 71, founded to help disabled soldiers and veterans heal from the physical, mental and emotional toll of war through fly fishing.

Cast by cast, line by line, it’s reshaping the lives of thousands of veterans across the U.S. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing now has 158 programs in 48 states as well as affiliates in Australia and Canada. In 2012 alone, 2,300 volunteers invested 122,000 hours to work with 4,000 wounded warriors.

– See more at: http://www.encore.org/ed-nicholson-0#sthash.JHVCHQhs.dpuf

5 Tips for Going the Distance From a 94 Year Old Champion

It’s dark.  it’s cold.  it’s raining.  And Nancy is not out there walking in it.  Just a few months ago, I was putting  in 20-30 miles a week.  And now?  I’m walking from the couch to the refrigerator in my toasty new UGG slippers.  I admit it.  I’m a fair weather exerciser.  The gym is my back-up, but I don’t love it.  Okay, I do love Zumba, but this time of year the classes are so full it’s almost a combat sport.  I haven’t done a downward dog in many moons either.  Yoga is great for your body, but where’s the cardio?  That leaves the hamspter-wheel, I mean treadmill.  BORING.  Mind-numbingly boring for me.  Last weekend’s long hill walk in the bright winter sunshine was a tonic, but we don’t have many days like that in the months ahead.  I need to get my walking mojo back.  Pronto!

So, I munched the last of my Fancy Nancy’s Tropical Toffee and went looking for some sorely needed re-motivation.

I found exactly what I needed in a Parade Magazine article by Bruce Grierson who shared the inspiring and very motivating story of 94 year old Olga Kotelko.   A retired Canadian school teacher, Olga entered her first masters track and field competition at 77 and is still bringing home the gold.  She is the only woman over 90 who competes in the long jump and high jump.  Makes you feel like a bit of a slacker doesn’t it?  Well it did me.  I found the perfect role model in Olga.

I’ve read all the statistics about healthy longevity and exercise.  If the current science is correct and longevity is 75% about lifestyle, then we could all take a few pages from Olga’s book.  Will I be doing the high jump at 94?  Probably not.  Heck, I didn’t do the high jump at 14.  But, I will do everything in my power to be walking and dancing and kicking up my heels for as long as I can.  Olga is what researchers  call  a”super senior” – folks who are remaining sharp and healthy deep into old age.  Who doesn’t want that?  Besides, I’m somewhat of an over achiever so any title with “super” in it title really appeals to me.

How do Olga and other super seniors defy the odds?  Here are five of Olga’s habits that are well worth making your own:

1.  Put down the paper and lace up your sneakers.  Yes, it is that simple (and that difficult), but here’s a little added incentive.  We already know that exercise is important to your body, but Increasing evidence suggests that it is also great for the brain.  Want to fend off dementia?  Of course you do.   Well it might just be that taking a walk or a zumba class is better for your brain than completing every square in the New York Times Crossword.  Well then, what magic might happen if we did both?

2.  Stand Up!   Or at least get up.  We all sit too much.  I sit for hours every day at my desk – working, blogging, doing research, doing homework, writing articles.  Whatever. Then hubs and I hunker in front of the TV and sit some more.  Like most Americans, we are active for 1-2 hours tops and sedentary for the other 23 hours a day.  Desk jobs are unhealthy.  Extended periods of sitting can lead to serious problems like high blood pressure, blood clots and perhaps cancer.  Even in people who are deemed fit.   As the Parade article states “The painless act of rising from your chair pumps blood from the feet to the head, it helps tune your vestibular system, which helps maintain blood pressure and keeps you steady on your feet”.  Well, okay then.  It’s time for a few laps up and down the stairs.  I’ll be right back…

3.  Eat real food – most of the time.  If it comes from the ground, eat it.  If it comes from a can, bag or box, think twice.  Allow for the occasional really good indulgence.  That has been my motto for quite a while and I hope it’s working.  Like Olga, I don’t skip meals and then fill up on junk food at the Jack In the Box drive through.  Thankfully, I gave that up years ago.  Olga eats four or five times a day and not much in the evenings.  I like this simple approach.

4.  Become a creature of habit.   Olga’s point is that it helps to make exercise a routine and stick to it so that eventually it becomes a habit.  Easier said than done for me, but I have the perfect role model right here at home.  Hubs, goes to the gym 4 or 5 mornings a week, plugs in his ipod, climbs on the treadmill and listens to the same 20 songs over and over again.   Olga does the same thing at the track, but instead of Meat Loaf, she’s plugging in to Mozart’s Piano Concerto.  Whatever works.  They are both in it for the long haul.  I am too, but I need to change things up or I get restless and slack off.  It’s the “Just Do It” motto that creates the exercise habit.

5.  Give yourself a High-5.  On the 80’s TV show Coach, Luther was the bumbling assistant whose motto was “set the bar low so you will always be successful”.  It got a laugh on the show, but it’s not such a bad idea.  We tend to set lofty goals and then beat ourselves up when we don’t reach them.  Sometimes the goal can be as simple as “take a 10 minute walk” or “just go to the gym for 15 minutes”.   Easy goals get you going and you will probably walk longer or workout more than you planned once you are out there.  Give yourself a mental High-5 when you’re done.   Even better, find a workout buddy and cheer each other on.

Here’s my favorite part of Olga’s story ~ Recently she was at an airport going through security.  As usual everyone began removing their shoes but Olga didn’t.  A sign said that you didn’t have to if you were over 75.  “Excuse me, ma’am” the security agent asked.  “How old are you.?”  “Ninety-three,” Olga replied.  The agent was flabbergasted and asked her again.  “How old?” “Ninety-three” She said again.   “What’s your secret?”  the skeptical agent asked.  Olga’s reply?  “Enjoy life.”   A huge grin spread across the agent’s face.   She nodded her head and turned to her supervisor somewhere behind the barrier and announced, “I quit.”

And there’s the motivation I needed to get out in the cold, damp, dark and walk, walk, walk.  Even and especially if it’s walking to the gym.

Thank you, Olga, from a former Canadian and brand new fan.

See you on the road.

Nancy

Bruce Grierson has a new book What Makes Olga Run?  The Mystery of the 90-Something Track Star and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer.  It hits the bookshelves January 14.  I can’t wait to read it.

 

Happy New Year Resolutions!

I resolve to ~

~ Do better

~ Be smarter

~ Lose weight

~ Make more money

~ Save more money

~  Stop eating chocolate

~  Give up the glass (or two) of wine

~  Make friends with my inner child, my wrinkles and those damned age spots on my hands

Or not…..

Like a lot of people I know, I’ve pretty much given up on all the “resolving”.  It’s futile to say the least and frustrating at best.  Maybe I should tell all those folks who crowd the gym in January so you can’t get on a treadmill or find a tiny piece of floor space in Zumba.

Don’t get me wrong, I have big plans for 2014.  I’m setting my sites on new adventures, exploring more retirement options, discovering hidden travel gems close to home and across the globe.  I’ll be looking for information and inspiration to share right here on the blog.   But, here’s the deal.  I don’t need to resolve to fix me or make a better me to enjoy the life I have and the future I’m working on creating.

Here’s my very simple plan ~

  Image

And know that sometimes its okay to just relax and get on the bus.

And to put my feet up and enjoy the ride…

Wherever it takes me.

Cheers and Happy New Year!

Nancy

 

 

Christmas Crack ~ Fancy Nancy’s Tropical Toffee

Last weekend I took the train to Seattle for the Second Annual Girls Gone Wild Holiday Weekend with my friend Dawn.   Truth be told – we’re no longer girls and it’s been a very long time since either one of us has gone wild.  And that’s OK because we hang out, catch up on each other’s lives, eat, drink a bit, and do LOTS of fun stuff.  I’ll take that kind of wild every time and I’ve been looking forward to this visit for months.

This year my adventure started with a missed train and a four-hour delay.  Snow dusted the Portland streets and brought traffic to a standstill.   Instead of lunch in a lovely restaurant in downtown Seattle, I made do with a Bloody Mary and a bag of chips in the club car.  Entertainment was provided at no charge by the two truly wild women sitting in front of me.  These girls came prepared – glasses, corkscrew and two bottles of wine.  By the time we were mid-way to Seattle, all was merry and bright in our compartment.  Love you girls!

traingirls

My train buddies.

Last year we had tickets for the Seattle Men’s Chorus – Baby It’s Cold Outside show.  It was truly magical and I wrote a post you might enjoy. This year, we decided to split our time between downtown Seattle and Port Ludlow/Hadlock/Townsend, three delightful little towns just a short ferry ride and a world away from the big city.   It was 19 degrees and I was dressed up like that kid in A Christmas Story, but we didn’t let the weather slow us down – even when breakfast in my favorite Port Townsend restaurant, Sweet Laurette’s, meant keeping the puffy coat, puffy vest, scarf and hat on because the heat had gone out.  Let’s just say you could see your breath in there but breakfast was still delish.  We got our art on in a festive luminaria making class at Daily Bird Pottery, sipped wine while Jack Frost nipped at our nose and toes during the evening art walk, and I way over-indulged in the best holiday treat I’ve tasted in a very long time – Fancy Nancy’s Tropical Toffee.  Oh My!  I nibbled my way through the weekend.  I even had a piece for breakfast with my cup of tea.  Yes, like crack (so I’m told), I was hooked from that first bite.  And really, how could I resist anything called Fancy Nancy’s?

making luminarias

Carving the clay to make beautiful Luminarias

Last night I made a big batch of this tropical toffee crack with the help of the fabulous Miss Nicholette, hubs, and couch-side color commentary from my son, Mitchell.  It was a family operation.  We all proclaimed it delicious.  And now it’s bagged, tagged, and ready to deliver to the kids at my local Starbucks as my Thank You For Your Outstanding Service holiday treat.  They’re gonna love it!

Fancy Nancy's Tropical Toffee

Fancy Nancy’s Tropical Toffee

And so will you.  Here’s the recipe “Liddabit Sweets Tropical Toffee” from candymaker Liz Gutman courtesy of the Seattle Times/Nancy Leson.  Note:  when you add the chocolate and coconut, it becomes the Fancy Nancy version.

May your days be merry and bright.

Ho Ho Ho and Yum-O!

Nancy

 

Female Nomads ~ retired women are taking to the open road

My friend Lois is a nomad.  She’s also single and pretty much retired.  Lois doesn’t have a huge income or the security of a well-stocked trust fund.  And yet, Lois has one of the richest, fullest lives of anyone I know.  This delightful, spirited woman lives in a 10 foot 1965 vintage Aloha trailer that she pulls with her aging Mercury Montero.  Freedom?  Oh my! She’s got that in spades.  A couple of weeks ago, Lois waved goodbye to Portland’s rainy winters and headed south with “Li’l Homey”.   She shares her travels and nomad lifestyle on her blog Playing a New Game.  Thank you Lois for  inspiring the gypsy hiding in me.Lil Homey

These days more and more senior single women are taking up life on the road.  They are firing up the RV or hitching up the trailer to explore the highways and back roads all across the country.  They are creating new communities and making friends as they go.  And, while there are are some very interesting challenges in this lifestyle, these gals are rising to the challenge and loving their new home on the road.

If you are feeling the call of the open road as a retirement option, check out these very informative links for more information and a some stories that are guaranteed to make you smile

Unlikely Nomads ~  the Christian Science Monitor

Happy End of the Road for RVers – Assisted Living on Wheels ~ AOL Real Estate

And, finally, if you are not sure the RV life is for you, perhaps you like to give it a try for a night or two in one of the beautiful vintage trailers at the Shady Dell Resort in Arizona or one of the eight cuties available in Bend, Oregon at Cowgirl Cabins.

Who’s in for a Wild Women’s Weekend this summer at Cowgirl Cabins?  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it.

See you on the road.

Nancy