Field of Dreams ~

Field of Dreams – build it and they will come.

This weekend hubs and I slathered ourselves with sunscreen, loaded our cooler with ice, water and lots of snacks and drove down a dusty gravel road headed for a beautiful place that we will forever remember as the orchard in the middle of nowhere.

I had signed us up to be members of a small but mighty volunteer army whose mission was to transform a dusty field in a pear orchard into an elegant location for a farm to table dinner.  Talk about a make-over!

This dream team, a well-oiled machine of many talents and amazing can-do energy (plus hubs and I) rolled up their sleeves, put on their sun hats and got to work early Saturday morning.  In less than 36 hours something akin to magic had taken place.

I had my camera in hand so I could capture the transformation. It was such a cool experience that I put together this little time-lapse video to share ~

Congratulations to Kirsten and the whole Home Plate Dream Team.  You guys rock!  Thanks for letting us get our hands (and feet!) dirty and use a few muscles that must have needed it.




Happy Monday ~

Happy Monday to you.

Here’s a little something to put a smile on your face, a song in your heart and a spring in your step…

Wishing you a week filled with many happy moments and unexpected adventures.

Boogie on!





I Made a List, Now I’m Checking it Twice ~ 42 Fun Things to Do

So, I was sipping my morning tea, carefully perusing the Friday A&E section of the Oregonian, looking for something FUN for hubs and I to do this weekend… A&E

Movies?  It looks like there are lots of good ones playing, but we try to save movies for rainy weekends.  Antique & collectible show?  Used to be fun, but we’re not buying these days.  Haunted House?  I counted at least 20 in Portland this weekend. Unfortunately, being scared silly (even for fun) is not exactly my cup of tea.  Plus, these events are all inside activities and since it’s supposed to be sunny in Portland so I’m thinking we need to get outside while we still can.

At some point today hubs will come to me and say “So, what fun things are we doing this weekend?”  And for a moment, I wasn’t sure I would have my usual brilliant answer.

That’s when it hit me.   What about my own list of 42 fun things to do this year?  The one I made way back in January.  When was the last time I actually looked at it?  Well…I’ve been busy.  And, I’d truly forgotten all about it.  Better dig into the archives and take another look.  And so I did.  There’s some good stuff on that list if I do say so myself.   And just reading through it has sparked lots of new ideas.

Just for fun, here’s my original post for a second look.   I hope it sparks a few ideas for your own weekend fun.

42 Really Fun Things to Do This Year ~

Apparently I am a very late bloomer.  Sometime around my 60th birthday I finally got an inkling that grabbing the gusto was what Life was really all about and I’d better get on with it.   I found my bravery gene and my adventurous soul finally began to emerge.  Oh, I’d had my share of adventures, but the last few years have taught me to look for the joy and the adventure in every experience.   Savor the moments, step out of your comfort rut and try new things when the opportunity comes your way.    I’m pretty sure adventure is the juice that keep us young.   You don’t have to ride a camel across the desert to find fun and adventure.  Adventure is what you make it.  Close to home or across the globe, there are so many fun ways to enjoy an afternoon, a day, or a long weekend.  The list is endless, but here are my current favorites…

1.  Start a regular date night practice.  It can be with the hubby, significant other or fun friends.  Hubs and I started this a few years ago on Friday nights.  We take turns coming up with a plan.  It’s fun to see who can be the most creative on a budget!  I also have regular date nights with “the girls”.

2.  Rent a canoe or kayak and go for a paddle.  No experience or equipment required.

3.  Unleash your inner Beyoncé.   Go to a piano bar or sing karaoke.

4.  Try Laughter Yoga.  It’s good for the body and the soul.  Laughter really is the best medicine.

5.  Learn a new language.   “Hola, mi nombre es Nancy. ¿Atienden vino aquí?”

6.  Start a twalking group.  My friend Judy came up with the word twalk and I thought it was a perfect!  Walking + talking = twalking.

7.  Listen to TED Talks and sign up for TEDx if your area has one.

8.  Become more tech-savvy.  Learn how to use all the features on your iphone or Droid.

9.  Take more photos.  Carrying your camera helps you slow down and see the beauty is in the details. I recently took a great online class with Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens.  Awesome!

10.  Go dancing.  When is the last time you kicked up your heels on the dance floor?  Don’t have a partner?  Try line dancing or Zumba.IMG_1920

11.  Explore every one of your local museums.  Even the button museum can be interesting.

12.  Pick up a brochure at your local Visitors Center and spend the day like a tourist visiting the attractions you’ve never seen but always wanted to.

13.  Rekindle a lost love.   I’m talking about hobbies, sports, and other activities that you loved to do but somehow Life got in the way and you let them go.  Why not pick up those skates, the knitting needles or the swim goggles and fall in love again?

14.  Sign up for Groupon, LivingSocial or other online discount offers and try out the two for one at the symphony, the theater, or a new restaurant.  A two-for-one took us to The Portland Corn Maize.

15.  Spend some time exploring the opportunities on

16.  If you are 55+ or better yet 62+ start taking advantage of the senior discounts.  Last weekend we went to the Rose City Dog Show for FREE.   We might not have gone it we had to pay $20 or $30 to get in.  It was raining.  It was indoors.  It was free.  It was a really fun experience.  Who knew?

17.  Pack up your dinner and take yourselves on a picnic.

18.  Miniature Golf.  Fun, fun, fun.  We keep our putters in the car because you never know when you might see a new miniature golf course.IMG_3338

19.  Seek out and shop at your local Farmer’s Market.  You feel healthier just being there.

20.  Go geocaching.  I can’t wait to try this when the weather warms up.

21.  Volunteer at a senior center.  Calling bingo is calling to me.  I’m going to give it a try this year.

22.  Connect with long lost friends.  Facebook is a great place to start.

24.  Check out local theater, high school plays, roller derby, bourbon & bingo, music in the park, parades, festivals art shows.  They’re free or cheap and way more fun than you might think.IMG_2256

25.  Sign up for a creative class.  Not everyone is an artist but stepping out of your comfort zone in an easy supportive three-hour class is a great way to dip your toe.  Clay, watercolor painting, photography, drawing, card making, lettering…the list of options is endless and its a great way to get out and meet other people.  Look up classes through your local college or community center/parks and rec.

26.  Spend the night (or the weekend) in an unusual lodging.   How about a yurt at the beach, glamping, a vintage trailer, a treehouse, a rustic cabin, a historic hotel or B&B complete with breakfast and a resident ghost?  Wherever you live, they are easy to find via the internet.

27.  Try out your local vegan restaurant.  Vegan food has changed since the 70’s.  It’s gourmet good and good for you.

28.  Take yourself on a walking tour in your town.  This is one of my favorite activities on a warm summer day.

29.  Glow in the dark bowling.  Yah, baby!

30.  Sign up to walk or run a 5K.

31.  Throw yourself a birthday bash.  Mine’s a biggie this year and I plan to celebrate all month.

32.  Wear your tiara.  Trust me on this.

33.  Meet your neighbors.  Invite them to dinner or throw a community party.

34.  Not up for traveling across the globe this year?  Explore the amazing ethnic communities in your area.  Great shops, great food and lovely people.  Take your camera!

35.  Do something that scares the hell out of you but that you have always wanted to do.

36.  If they are old enough, take a mini vacation with your grandkids – one at a time.  Give them a list of places and let them choose.  Take your camera!

37.  Take a cooking class, a cheese making class, a beer making class.  It’s one of our favorite things to do.  We take classes at home and when we’re on vacation.IMG_4052

38.  Sell something on eBay.   Hubs could give a class on this.  It’s fun, you make a few bucks and you start clearing out the stuff.

39.  Start writing your memoir.  Really!  There are easy online guides to get you started.   You will be amazed at all of the adventures you can recall when you take time and look back.  Savor them and share them.  The wee ones will think you’re cool when you tell them about that time you rode on the back of a Harley up the California coast.

40.  Take a helicopter ride over your city.  Or a boat.  Or the tram.  It’ll give you a whole new perspective.

41.  Buy coffee for the person in line behind you.  You’ll feel good all day and so will they.

42.  Start planning your own really big adventure!  Make a list, cruise the internet, send for brochures, explore the options, start saving.  Set a date!

What new adventures have you had lately?  We’re always looking for a good time!  I’ll add them to the list.



Friday Food For Thought ~ Life is Just a Bowl of Jelly Bellies

I love the visual of this video.  It felt like a perfect follow up to my post from earlier this week about collecting experiences not things.

Here’s hoping your weekend is filled with fun and fabulous new experiences.




Becoming a Backpack and Rollie Retiree ~ Spanish Lessons

¡Vamos a hablar en español!

Call me crazy but I’m not particularly fond of making a fool of myself in public.  I did it a lot in my twenties and thirties and yes, there was usually some amount of alcohol involved.  But, even so, it’s one thing to wear silly hats or put straws up your nose and another thing entirely to trot yourself out with four whole weeks of Spanish learning under your belt and walk into a room with a dozen fluent speakers so that you can engage in conversation.

That’s exactly what I did last night.  What the hell was I thinking?  And, no, there was no alcohol involved, but in this case it would probably have helped.  A lot!

We’re traveling to Spain next month.  We’ve spent time in Mexico and hope to spend lots more time in that lovely country.  And I’m exploring a whole bunch of South American cities for future travels and possible retirement living.  So it seems like at least one member of the Backpack and Rollie Team should attempt to learn the language. spanish now

Before our last San Miguel stay a few years ago, both hubs and I signed up for beginning Spanish at our local community college.  If you’ve never heard Spanish with a strong Boston accent, you’ve missed something quite special.  Hubs lasted a few weeks and quietly became too busy.  I hung in there a little longer but found it boring and not at all applicable to two adults trying to carry on normal life.  I didn’t need to learn my way around a classroom, I needed to be able to converse with the shopkeepers, the bus driver and the woman sitting next to me in the Starbucks (You know there was one and I found it.)

I quit the class, but held on to the dream.  I have a very clear vision of myself chatting away en español.  Time to give it another go.

Lecciones de español segunda ronda.  Enter the lovely and talented Clara Grabel who comes from Argentina and gives Spanish lessons to eager gringos like me.  Clara makes learning easy and fun.  I love that in a teacher.  So, in early July Clara and I had our first lesson.  It was great!   I was on my way.  Then came week two and it was like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day.  I was starting from square one all over again.  Week three, pretty much the same.  Oh, I have few words I can usually remember.  I’ve mastered some of the basic verb and grammar concepts, and I can get the general idea and answer questions when I’m reading, but let me just say that learning a new language with an aging brain feels a bit like I’m pouring flour through a sieve.  Not much seems to be sticking.

Of course, everyone knows that you will never learn to speak a language if you aren’t actually speaking it.  A lot!  I knew that, but I didn’t really want to do that.  The thought thoroughly terrified me.  I knew my brain would freeze and none of the 25 simple words I actually knew would pop up when I needed them.   And, as I said at the beginning – I am not fond of making a fool of myself in public.

But, this time I felt the fear and went anyway.  And I did make a fool of myself.  And I did have a moment of sheer terror when one of the young men from Mexico turned to me and asked me several questions and I had absolutely no idea what he said.  Not one word.  All eyes were on me.  It was a deer in the headlights moment.  I froze.  I turned 50 shades of red and then I mumbled “No comprendo.  Yo estudio español por quatro semanas solamente.”  I’m sure the grammar wasn’t correct, but he smiled and nodded and then another person came to my rescue asking me “¿Donde vive? (where do I live?) “Yo vive en Beaverton.”  “¿Tiene Familia?”  (do you have family?)  “Si, tengo un esposo y dos higos.”  “¿Tiene animales?”  “Tengo un gato.” (I have a cat) Como se llama?  “Se llama Mr. Ricardo y es gordo.” (his name is Mr. Ricky and he is fat).

Okay, this is not a conversation that is going to take me very far in Spain or Ecuador, but I did it.  I had a (very strange) conversation with a complete stranger that didn’t involve asking for a beer, the bathroom or the check.

And, everyone in the room agreed that I did quite well with only a month of lessons.  I’ll take it!  I was humbled but also rather proud of myself for going so far outside of my comfort zone.  And next week when I go back, I’ll see if I can’t come up with something a little more interesting to talk about.  I listened, I learned, I shared and I had a great time.

And it gets better.   I found another conversation group that includes margaritas and chips and salsa.  I think I’ll check that one out as well.

¡Con mucho gusto!


I Did Then and I Still Do ~

On the road of life, it’s not where you go, but who’s by your side that makes the difference.

It’s our anniversary today.  It’s a big one too.  TEN years – five of the happiest years of my life! (bada bing)  Sorry, I couldn’t resist the corny joke.  It’s one of hub’s favs and he uses it every chance he gets so it felt appropriate.

When I sat down to write an anniversary post and share my gratitude for the wonderful man who has shared this crazy life with me for the last ten years, I  circled back to last year’s anniversary post for a little inspiration.  It took me right back to that beautiful morning ten years ago.  That post expressed my feelings perfectly.   For once, I seem to have gotten it right the first time.  So, I’ve decided to make it my special Anniversary Post.  Every year I’ll bring it back, dust it off, and change the date, because…

I did then, and I still do.  Here’s to the next ten, and the ten after that.  Here’s to more adventures and my wonderful partner-in-fun who willingly goes along for the ride wherever the road leads. cityscapeadventureteambackpack

Ten years ago today, on a beautiful sunny morning, I put on my new dress, a pair of dainty little sandals, took  extra care with my hair and makeup and then walked with my best friend out to the very end of the point away from Rosario Resort on Orcas Island.  We stood there under the branches of two huge oak trees whose trunks had grown twined together and looked out at the Puget Sound.  Boats glided by.  Birds soared and swooped.  The ferry passed and we waited.  In the background the hum of lawnmowers and blowers as the head groundskeeper and her crew tended to their daily duties of keeping Rosario lush and beautiful.  We waited and then waited a little longer.  We watched a car approach slowly and come to a stop at the end of the narrow dirt road.  Finally, she was here.  The woman we’d been so patiently waiting for.   Another Nancy, and she had come to join my friend and I in marriage.  Fifteen minutes later we were husband and wife.  Becky (the head groundskeeper) and Barbara (a neighbor of the minister) were our witnesses.  I cried from beginning to end and, of course, never thought to bring a hankie.  An hour later, after a champagne toast, my new husband and I set sail on our first adventure as a married couple – kayaking in the San Juan Islands.   Cheers to this wonderful man who has brought so much laughter and joy to my life.  I loved you then.  I still do.  I always will.

We’re off on Life’s Next Excellent Adventure. July 18, 2003, Orcas Island WA

Taking the plunge ~ a swimsuit shopping adventure

A couple of months ago, I received an email from a friend and avid Just a Backpack fan, with a very interesting proposal.  Would I be open to having guest bloggers?  Hmmm.  Maybe.  Not sure.  How would that work?  Lot’s of questions and no answers at the time.  It took a while, but it finally hit me – this blog is all about seeking new adventures in our later years.   I love sharing new ideas and experiences with my readers and my hope is that they create a spark to dip your toes in the water, give it a try, and then hold your nose and dive right in when you find something that looks interesting.  So, when Judy thought she might like to give writing a blog post a try – I’m here to give her a wholehearted Yes!  You go girl. 

And, now Judy is taking the plunge and making her debut as our very first guest blogger.

* * * * * * *

Is there anything as daunting and terrifying as shopping for a new swimsuit when you’re a “woman of a certain age”?  Truth be told, when I’ve been any of my ages, I’ve had body issues that made bathing suit shopping anything but fun.

A trip to Palm Desert and sunshine was the impetus for this particular shopping adventure.  I’d put it off as long as possible.  I even thought I’d wait until I got to California to shop, but I didn’t want to waste precious sunshine time in a store.  My old bathing suit still fit, sort of, but the straps made a crackly sound – which meant the elastic was gone.  So I had no choice.

A swimmer friend recommended Macy’s or a shop out of my usual traffic patterns.  So I checked the web and found Popina’s  – a local swimsuit shop that even has a selection of their own creations.  I asked the woman on the phone if she would help me find a suit that would make me look good.  “Oh, yes,” she replied, “and we even have beer.”  Surprised, I asked how beer could help my tummy look smaller.  “It won’t, but it will make you feel better”.  This sounded like it could be fun.

Popina's ~ a little slice of heaven in Portland

Popina’s ~ a little slice of heaven in Portland

With trepidation, flip flops and white legs, I drove to Popina’s the following day. This is a fun store, full of sunshiny decorations to get you in the mood. I was the only customer in the store at 11:00 a.m. and Kristen gave me lots of personal attention, which was exactly what I needed.   She really knew her stock and listened to what I wanted.  The racks at Macy’s would not have done that.

I learned that there are now suits that are chlorine resistant so they won’t break down easily from the chemicals.  She brought me a selection of suits to try on and they actually looked pretty good – until I looked in the rear view mirror.  No, the suit didn’t make my butt look big  – it was discovering I had back fat and the suit accentuated it.  Where did that come from? Too much information to share – too matronly. This hadn’t shown up in clothes.  This can’t be me!  I’ve had lots to contend with in the past several years – like  a kidney transplant – but not back fat!  Ughhh!

Kristen to the rescue – She totally “got it” and found a suit similar to the one I liked, but it was cut higher in the back – which made it much more flattering and kept the back fat in check.  Within about 45 minutes, start to finish – I  bought a new suit that I actually like.  Definitely a more fun than traumatic experience.  I didn’t drink the beer, but now I was totally ready for the sunshine.

Where's the pool?

Where’s the pool?

My trip to Palm Desert and sunshine was wonderful.  But the most delightful part was being amongst active women, all of a certain age, and with many different body  types… all of them enjoying life.   Having fun in the sun does not mean fitting into an itsy bitsy teenie weenie.  It does mean being who I am – a woman of a certain age, enjoying my good health, my body and my life.             ~Judy Romano~

 * * * * *

Judy and her husband sold their business a couple of years ago and are now exploring their own second acts in retirement.  She loves discovering all of the new possibilities and adventures life is bringing her way.  These days, Judy calls herself a very happy dilettante.

Friday’s Food For Thought – Six people I want to be like when I grow old(er) ~

My granddaughter can’t wait for her 9th birthday.  Why?  Because it’s closer to the magic age of 13. That is apparently when life gets good.  Older is better.  Or so she thinks right now.

Her comment got me thinking.  Isn’t it true that at every age we look to those ahead of us for inspiration.  Maybe like my granddaughter, we think they’re cool.  We want what they’re having.  Perhaps we just want to know their secret to success.  I’ve become obsessed with people in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s who are still going strong, still grabbing the gusto and still sucking the joy out of every moment.  They are my inspiration and my role models for living juicy in my own golden years.  Hearing their stories makes me sit up a little straighter, eat a little better, try a little harder.   They’re everywhere, these models of aging with grace and gusto.  I’d just never noticed them until now.  Timing is everything.

Inspiration is close to home and its name is Don.  At 81, he is the human incarnation of the Energizer Bunny.  He owns a vineyard and works the land.  He’s a handsome devil, too.  Last month Don left his wife at home and flew to Africa to check one more adventure off his Bucket List.  Yes, he visited the wineries; but this trip was a three week camping photo-safari.  Sleeping in a tent.  On the ground.  In 100 degree heat.  He (mostly) loved every minute.   One of the highlights?  Bungee jumping in Zimbabwe!  Who wouldn’t get excited about jumping off a very high tower with your feet tied together?  Well…me for one.  And his wife.  But Don just stepped out into the unknown and soared!

Don flying high in Zimbabwe

Don flying high in Zimbabwe

Meet five more amazing role models ~ (click on their name to read more and see the video)

 Yoga instructor and ballroom dance champion Tao Porchon-Lynch is my hero!  She still teaches several yoga classes every week and can do poses I could never do.  This video was taken on her 92nd birthday.  She’s had a couple more since then and as far as I know, she’s still tearing up the dance floor.

Through rain and snow and sleet and hail, 91 year old  Morris Wilkinson has been delivering the mail for over 70 years.

Canadian Olga Kotelko – A 94 year old super-great grandmother and winner of 400 gold medals will step up to the plate in 2013 at the World Masters Games in Turin, Italy.

Here’s 81 year old triathlete Lew Hollander crossing the finish line at the 2012 Ironman in Kona, Hawaii.

Forrest and Rose Lunsway met at a senior dance and have been “dating” for thirty years.  They married on his 100th birthday and then danced the night away.

The only failure is to grow old and not to have tried what you really wanted to do.               ~ Beatrice Cohen

Have a fun and fabulous weekend.


Friday’s Food For Thought ~ If you’re sexy and you know it…

I found this inspiring video from Britain’s Got Talent on You Tube.  All I can add is this.  If you’ve got a song in your heart, share it with the world like these folks did.  What a joyful noise they make!  Enjoy.

Have a fantastic weekend.


Walk this Way ~ Six Great Tips for a Successfull Walking Program

As a gal who plans to celebrate her 65th birthday by walking 65+ miles of the Camino de Santiago, I have been a little too attached to settling my butt into a comfy chair and watching the world go by.  The last few warm weeks of 2012 sparked both hubby and I to lace up our walking shoes.  We easily put up 6-8 miles on each weekend day.  Not too shabby.  Especially for the old guy, who thought walking was that thing you did to get to the car.  We had a goal.  We were working it.  And then…winter arrived in the Pacific Northwest and our walking days appeared to be over.  My shoes stood in the closet waiting patiently, but I ignored them for days, weeks, and now a couple of months.  They say it takes 30 days to MAKE a habit, and I’m here to tell you it takes a only couple of days of cold, dark and wet to break one.

So, now that Spring is right around the corner and we can count the weeks until we leave for Spain (29 to be exact), it’s time to kick our walking program into gear or we’ll be riding the Sag Wagon of Shame across Spain. And, that’s not going to happen if I have anything to say about it.

Since a body at rest tends to stay at rest and it’s time to get this body back in motion, I went looking for a little motivation and inspiration.   I found just what I needed at  Wonders of Walking and

Here are a six great tips to help you (and me) get back the healthy walking habit:

1.  Tell others and find a walking buddy.  Telling others somehow makes me more accountable to stick with it.   Having a walking date with friends (or the hubs) will get you out the door even when you don’t feel like it.

2.  Have a weather plan.  It’s winter.  It’s dark and cold and icy and wet.  Don’t use the weather as an excuse.  Worst case, walk at the mall or on the dreaded treadmill at the gym.  Really, unless it’s pouring rain, you’ll warm up pretty quickly and enjoy being outdoors so much that it’s worth a little cold.  Gloves, hat, warm socks and good shoes are a must.  And a hankie.  Why does the cold make your nose drip?

3.  Start Slow.  If you haven’t been walking for a while (or ever), don’t go for the ten miler on your first day.  Thirty minutes a day at least five days a week can make a huge difference in your health.  Your can do the 30 minutes in 10 minute increments if you need to.  Do what you can and work up from there.

4.  Keep a log.  Buy a pedometer and wear it.  Shoot for 10,000 steps a day and then keep going.   Or, try one of the phone apps like everybodywalk.  I just got mine.  It looks great.  I’ll let you know how it works.  It’s motivating to watch your steps and miles add up.

5.  Sign up for a charity walk.   These walks are fun, festive, and you are doing a good thing for others while you are doing good for yourself.  Win/Win.  Plus, there is nothing like walking across a finish line.  You feel a sense of accomplishment – no matter how long it took you.

6.  Join a walking group.   Whether its a group of friends that meets three mornings a week or one of the local AVA groups, walking with others creates social opportunities of being with others who share similar goals and interests.  I’ve been curious about Volkswalking for a few years now.  I think this is the perfect time to join up.  What a great way to meet new people, explore walking routes all over the country.

What are your favorite walking tips?