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.




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

Fitness ~ Setting a Really Big Goal!

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I have traveled all over the fitness map.  Sometimes there’s a plan.  Other days, not so much.  But, I have learned from experience that setting a long term goal that is a real stretch (pun intended) is often the motivation I need to keep up my exercise or walking practice.  It works for me.  Every time.


That’s me #12168 with the white visor coming into the finish lanes.

Way back when I was a young 49 year old mostly-couch-potato, I read an article about Team in Training and marathon walking.  Intrigued, I explored this opportunity to train with a group and walk or run in marathons all over the world while raising money for a great cause.  Sometimes I tend to jump without worrying about the details like “How far is 26.2 miles anyway”?  In I jumped!  I set a goal to walk the Honolulu Marathon for my 50th birthday.  I was committed.  I walked every day starting with two miles that first week and ending my last training walk with a 22 miler from my front door in Lake Oswego to my sister’s house in Hillsboro, Oregon.  Two weeks later, I was on a plane ready to take on the full 26.2 in Honolulu.   And I did it.  And I never walked another marathon again.

But I did keep on walking.   Usually by myself.  Until recently, this was the typical evening conversation at our house.  Me:  “Honey, want to go for a walk with me?”  Hubby:  “Umm, No thanks.”

But that all changed exactly one year ago when I began hatching my plan to do something memorable for my 65th birthday at the end of August.  I wanted to walk the last 65 miles of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way of St. James) in Spain.  I discovered a walking tour company, Marly Tours, who provide support for those of use who do not want the full Pilgrim experience (carrying everything on your back, sleeping on the ground and/or sleeping in hostels with 300 others in bunk beds).  I was so excited about this idea that my enthusiasm spilled over onto my husband.  Suddenly, he wanted to join me on walks.  Perfect!  Last Fall, we began planning our weekends around walking or hiking.  We have explored most of the City of Portland Oregon on foot and we’ve recently branched out to local hikes like the The Ten Falls Hike.   We’re up to 8 to 10 miles on Saturday and then another 6 or 8 on Sunday.  Always with a stop for lunch.  We call it jogging for doughnuts.

Not too bad for a couple of almost senior citizens.  On the Camino, we’ll be walking our 100km over 5 days.  We don’t know the terrain, but I’m told to expect everything from country lanes to farmers fields to hill climbs to city streets.   We walk 13 miles the first day!  Then we get up and do it again the next day, whether we’re ready or not.  Whether we’re tired or not.  Whether our feet hurt or not.

I can’t wait to get started!

Setting this long term and very large goal, has changed our lives.  We walk every day.  Hubs joined the gym.  We walk for entertainment.  We enjoy our time together.  We’re active people again and I don’t see that ending anytime soon.   In fact, we’re already thinking about walking through England or Italy next.

See you on the trail!



Garden Lust ~ and a little link love

If only we had a garden to plant.

If only we had a garden to plant.

Happy Friday!   It’s raining (again) but rainy weather doesn’t stop Oregonians.  They will be out in full force again this weekend at the many plant sales, yard, farm, and garden shows.  Every spring I drag hubs through acres of seed starts, fancy garden tool displays, yard art, and literally hundreds of fancy pepper plants and even more varieties of tomatoes.   Why?  I have no idea because at Casa Sims the veggie garden looks something like this ~

My exotic lettuce garden

My exotic lettuce garden

And that is why I always come down with a serious case of garden lust this time of year.  Fortunately, it’s only temporary.

And here for your enjoyment are a few non garden related links that I really loved this week~

Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens and You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap) fame, is offering her Spring Writing in the Digital Age online writing course.  As a newbie blogger and writer, I absolutely loved this four week learning adventure.  It’s fun, it’s online, it’s go at your own pace, and you’ll meet a great group of inspiring and supporting people from around the country and maybe even across the globe.  If you are thinking about dipping your toe into the world of blogging – I highly recommend Writing in the Digital Age as a first step.      Click here to view more details and sign up.   Tell Tammy that Nancy sent you and have fun!

A really interesting read on tweaks you can expect to see in Social Security  from my favorite new retirement blog Next Avenue.

And, finally, because it has been a long pain-filled week, here’s a little something from HuffPost and Vinnie the Rabbit guaranteed to make you SMILE.  This begs the question…why didn’t I think of this and what has Mr. Ricky done lately?

Have a grand weekend whatever you do.





Dining in the Dark ~ an adventure for the senses

Right hand on left shoulder, right hand on left shoulder, right hand on left shoulder.   That is exactly what it took to shuffle our little conga line of ten into the dining room.  We were following our waiter who tapped the way with his white stick.  The light dimmed and as we turned the last corner and walked through the black drape, we were plunged into total darkness.  I could literally not see the nose on my face.

Our waiter led us to our table, my husband was at the head of the line and the waiter put his hand on the back of the first chair.  He then felt for the second chair and put my hand on the first.  I turned and did the same for my friend in line behind me and so on down the line until my husband ran into the wall and knew he had found the last seat.  Somehow all ten people on our side of the table found our seats.

We had entered the dining room of the Blind Cafe – a roving dinner in the dark event that is the brainchild of Brian Rocheleau, a musician from Boulder, Colorado.   We had also entered, for the next two hours, the world of people who cannot see – ever.  People who live and work and thrive in a world that is often literally completely black.   And that’s how I chose to celebrate my birthday a couple of years ago.   It was a truly unique experience.

Once we all settled in at our table, we were instructed to feel around and find our plates, knives, forks, napkins and cups on the table and then locate the larger bowls that we would pass and serve.  I thought I was doing pretty well when I determined that the cool and slightly sticky log on my plate was some sort of salad roll.  So far so good.  Oops!  Not so good when it turned out I had been fondling the salad roll on the plate of the person sitting across from me!  At least no one saw me do it.  What surprised me was that at first I felt extremely claustrophobic.  The room seemed to close in around me and sound amplified.  I was uneasy and I could hear my own heart beat in my ears.  As I relaxed and began to realize that I could do this, everything changed.  I chatted with people across the table.  I had no idea who they were or what they looked like.  There was certainly no room for snap judgments or “OMG did you see her dress” comments.  Couldn’t see.  Did not matter.

We felt our way through a delicious vegetarian dinner.  We figured out how to pass and serve.  How to orient our forks to the food on our plate and then get it to our mouths.  It took a few tries.  It is true that when you lose one sense the others pick up the slack.  Texture and taste, hot and cold took on new meaning with each bite.  And smell!  Dessert was an amazing chocolate mousse with blueberries.   Never has chocolate smelled so divine.   Our waiters were all blind and had very insightful stories to share including Gerry Leary, a former mechanic, who shared his experience of creating a coffee roasting company and restaurant in Boulder called the Unseen Bean.  Rosh and his band One Eye Blind performed during dessert offering one more treat for the senses.  I had no idea where the music was coming from, what the room looked like, where anyone was seated other than the few people directly around me, but someone about an hour into the experience, it all felt normal, comfortable even.

I read recently that blind dining restaurants are all the rage in several European cities.  One of the first, Blindnekurh, originated in 1998 during the “Dialog im Dunkeln” (Dialogue in the dark) exhibition at the Zurich Museum of Design. The focus was to give sighted people an insight into the experience of being blind. The idea for blindekuh (blind cow) emerged because of the great enthusiasm shown by visitors and the opportunity to create jobs for visually impaired people.  What a lovely and brilliant idea.  Walk a mile in my shoes or eat dinner with my eyes, certainly helps us understand and bond with our fellow man.

(video courtesy of current tv)

I highly recommend you try dining in the dark at least once.  Rosh and his team have produced Blind Cafe concert, community and dinner events in Boulder, Austin, Portland, Seattle and San Francisco.  The dinner we attended raised money PAWS (Pups at Work for Sight).  I loved it so much that I volunteered the next time they came to Portland.  It was an eye opening experience!

For a slightly different dining adventure, Opaque recently opened blinding dining restaurants in the U.S. with locations in San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas, New York and Los Angeles.  For my LA friends – check it out at 2020 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica.

Forget dancing in the dark.  These days it’s all about dining in the dark.

Bon Appetit!









Living Like a Local in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Exciting news!   65 Things To Do When You Retire: Travel just ranked #1 in the category of “Specialty Travel/Senior Travel” on Amazon!

When I wrote my essay for the book, I was asked to include a short personal travel adventure.   Our six week stay in San Miguel de Allende was our first experience in living outside the United States, so it seemed like the perfect story to share ~

Beautiful San Miguel

Beautiful San Miguel

Imagine walking down 500 year old cobblestone streets each morning, greeting every person you pass with a wave, a smile, and a “beunos días”.  Actually, I had been imagining that scene for quite some time.  Thanks to a very reasonable rental through VRBO (which stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner), my husband and I made it happen.  We broke in our new travel shoes with a six-week stay in a home in San Miguel de Allende – a beautiful colonial town in central Mexico.  San Miguel was the perfect place to “dip our toes in the water” of living like locals and we dove right in.

I’m still working, but I was able to hook up my laptop and magicJack and was quickly in business.  Each morning, hubby set off to the jardín (town square) to sip a coffee, read the newspaper, and sit on a bench with the other retired gentlemen watching the world go by.  Every afternoon, we set out together, mostly on foot, to explore our surroundings.  I practiced my Spanish on shopkeepers, bus drivers, and any friendly person who stood still long enough.  One evening we walked down to the jardín for a pastry and a coffee and found ourselves dancing through town with a group of about 50 revelers led by a brass band.  How? You ask.  Well, it looked like fun.  We joined in.  Turns out we had joined a prewedding party.  We expected a quick trip around the square.  Silly gringos!  Traffic stopped.  Not one horn blared, and on we marched.  The best part?  They handed out pottery cups and at every corner filled then up with margueritas.  Back at the square we hugged the bride-to-be, wished her and the groom well, and strolled back to our house.  We had tequila on our breath and huge grins on our faces.

Wedding March around the streets of San Miguel

Wedding March around the streets of San Miguel

If you look for adventure, you’ll find it everywhere.  I took Zumba and yoga classes – in Spanish.  We navigated the local bus system and only got lost once, agreeing to call it a sightseeing tour instead of the trip to the Mega store we had originally planned.  We shopped at the tianguis – a weekly open-air market of stalls that sell everything from whole chickens to ladies’ lingerie.  I paid cinco pesos for two squares of toilet paper so I could use the public restroom.  We walked in Christmas posadas (Advent celebrations), and every afternoon we bought tortillas – fresh, hot and by the kilo.  My personal favorite?  Our 5:00 a.m. wake-up call every morning, courtesy of the rooftop rooster next door.  I still miss that guy.  We loved every minute of this adventure and are busy planning the next, and the one after that.

Tianguis Market sets up every Tuesday.

Tianguis Market sets up every Tuesday.

Standing in line for the pollo and tortillas for dinner.

Standing in line for the pollo and tortillas for dinner.

When my husband got caught in a corporate downsizing and unexpectedly joined the ranks of the newly retired, we didn’t see it coming and, quite frankly, were not prepared.  Like so many others, we had been playing retirement catch-up and were hoping for a few more good income years.  It knocked the wind right out of my sails, but my hubby is a guy who always sees the glass as half full, and he never missed a beat.  His backpack-and-rollie idea sparked a whole new second act for us – one that’s filled with opportunities for amazing travel adventures.

Con mucho gusto~



Spring is in the Air + a Little Link Love

Spring isn’t official for another week, but I’m here to tell you without a doubt that Spring has sprung in the Pacific Northwest.  It takes me by surprise every year.  One day I go out for a walk wearing my coat, scarf and a hat and the next day half way through my walk, the gloves are in my pocket, I’ve pulled off the hat, I’m wishing I could ditch the coat and wondering why the heck I didn’t bring my sunglasses.  I even saw people walking around in shorts and tee shirts yesterday.  If I didn’t need the sunglasses for the bright sun, I could have used them to cut the glare from those white legs.  Two days later and it’s back to coat, gloves, and all the rest.  Spring – you are a tease!

Nothing says Spring like crocus poking their colorful heads up in the garden.  I snapped these on a walk the other day.  Don’t you love the vivid colors?

springcrocus Since it’s Friday, it’s time to spread a little Link Love.  Here are a few posts that I really enjoyed this week.

This poem says it all  – Boomer Anthem

Another great post from the Love Being Retired blog –  Will Your Passion Dim in Retirement?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day – Here’s an authentic recipe for Irish Soda Bread from Shelly Miller Home Exchange Expert

What’s the biggest harbinger of Spring if you live in Portland?  The Shamrock Run of course.  It’s this weekend.  Time to lace up our walking shoes and hit the streets with 35,000 of our closest friends.  I ran it only once – came in 4th from last, earning the name “leader of the back”.  It was a long time ago.  I’m over it now.

Whether you walk, run or drink green beer, have a fun and fabulous St. Patrick’s weekend!

And here’s something from The Happiness Sprinkling Project to get your weekend started with a smile.  Their signs have been traveling across the country and soon around the world.




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.


Life is Good ~


I took this photo while walking to my gate at the Las Vegas airport last Sunday.

As I’m figuring out how we’re going to make our goal of a backpack and rollie life in retirement work, this just about says it all.

Thanks, Life is Good guys for the inspiration.  I loved your shop at the airport and I am very impressed by your business model.  You are a great example of doing well by doing good!

Road Trip ~ a mini adventure

I’m taking a fabulous online writing course Writing in the Digital Age with writer/blogger/photographer/simple living guru Tammy Strobel.   A recent assignment was to take ourselves on a mini adventure and write about it.  Last Saturday morning when the hubs asked his usual “What fun things are we doing today?” I told him about my homework assignment and asked if he wanted to join me.  Of course he did!  He’s always a willing side-kick when fun and food are involved.

So, with camera in hand and a full tank of gas, we headed out for a wintertime drive through Oregon farm country.   We really got a feel for the rhythms of nature as we drove past dormant farm land that just a few months ago was lush with the colors of ripe berries, apples, wheat and corn.  Spring is in the air though.  This shot captured the vibrant green shoots just starting to pop through the soil.

15 minutes and we're in farm land and rolling hills

15 minutes and we’re in farm land and rolling hills

Our first stop was the town of Dundee in the heart of wine country where we fortified ourselves with hot chocolate and home made sweet rolls.  Pure indulgence and about a six inch slice of heaven.  The Red Hills Market is a hidden gem.  Delicious local foods, good wines and a bocce ball court out back.  I’m already picturing a bocce ball tournament here this summer.

Red Hills Market - what a great find in Dundee

Red Hills Market – what a great find in Dundee

From Dundee we drove on about 20 miles to McMinnville.  I love this place.  It is the quintessential small town – just the right mix of old and new.  Farmers whose families have tilled the land for over a hundred years and the new breed of farmer – the vineyard owners. Beautiful wineries dot the hillsides and farms stands line country roads.   College kids, gruff old geezers, and all manner of artists and creative types come together in a tasty stew of history, culture, art and a love of the land and its bounty.

Somali tea vendor and cowboy hippie wood carver share a moment at the McMinnville Market

Somali tea vendor and cowboy hippie wood carver share a moment at the McMinnville Market

We strolled the McMinnville Public Market a year-round, indoor public market and farmers market featuring local produce, meats, wines, cuisine, baked goods, artisan goods, music and amazing people watching.  This city-girl liberal had several very interesting political conversations with folks from way over on the other side.  And, in the end, we found a large swath of common ground.  There is hope!   We walked, we talked, we ogled all manner of goodies that wouldn’t fit in the backpack-and-rollie and all we bought was beautiful purple kale, leeks and just-picked spinach for dinner.  However, if you ever need a carved wooden train set or bird house, I know just the place to find one – or beautiful hand sewn aprons like these…

McMinnville Farmers Market

McMinnville Farmers Market

Continuing on, we also cruised Main Street, the city park, and a winery or two, but my favorite find of the day had to be Shaggy Showers Dog Wash and the handsome new friend I met there.

Shaggy Showers Shampooches

Shaggy Showers Shampooches

Puppy Love

Puppy Love

My friend Lois reminds me that adventures are everywhere – you just have to look for them.    Like beauty, adventure is in the eye of the beholder (or adventurer).  Thanks Tammy for inspiring this mini-adventure afternoon and helping me flex my writing muscles.