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.

Girl’s Night!

Why do women live longer than men?  Simple answer – girlfriends.  Women nourish other women.  We spend time together talking, laughing, sharing and sometimes crying – it raises the endorphins (good happy juice) and reduces cortisol (the bad stress hormone).  Throughout history it seems women have banded together in groups of some sort.  The kitting circles and quilting bees of the past have become Girl’s Night or Spa Day of the present.   Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family...  I agree wholeheartedly which is why, when the call came out over email a week ago “Time for Martinis with the MAM’s?” everyone in our little group replied with a resounding YES!!  I was so ready for a little girl time and apparently I was not alone.

This particular group of crazy wild women have been meeting every few months since the late 90’s when we all worked at a certain high tech company just a few miles south of Portland.  It all started innocently enough…interoffice email…Hey, I need an attitude adjustment lunch, can you go?  Sure!  What time?  NOW!  Oh, Okay, I’ll drive.  Back then, attitude adjustment came in the form of a couple of frosty Margaritas and several bowls of chips and salsa at a local chain restaurant – not a dining star in sight – but it got the job done and we were back in our offices feeling much more relaxed for another afternoon of meetings at the “meeting capital of the world”.  For a couple of us that evolved into swilling several glasses of wine before attending drawing class in the evening.  She’s a fantastic artist.  I needed liquid refreshment in mass quantity to put my inner art critic into a semi-stupor.  It was fun.  It was still girl time.

Today, it’s kinda more like old girl time, but after we get past the first few minutes of hugs and comparing wrinkles, sags where nothing had sagged before… (I won’t bore you with the rest), we forget that we are two retired, one about to be retired and one who hopes to be able to retire sometime in the not too distant future 60-somethings and we become those same wild and crazy gals who still get looks and laughs from other tables for our sometimes bawdy behavior.  But, really having this kind of fun is serious business.  It soothes the soul, recharges the batteries, lowers the blood pressure and brings back that girlish glow by the end of the evening.  In short, it’s just what the doctor ordered.  I’ll drink to that!

And, here’s one I forgot to tell last night … You have reached the breast self-examination hotline.  Please press 1 now.   Now press the other one.     

Trains, Ferries and a Pedicab ~

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

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

Seattle Skyline from the ferry

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

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

Sipping hand crafted fermented cider at the  Finn River Cidery.

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

Stopping at quaint little towns like this one ~

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

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

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

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

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

Sisters ~

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

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

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

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

Night Driving ~

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

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

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

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

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

Two role models and a spark of genius!

This week I had lunch with two amazing women.  Both women are creative, energetic, intelligent, worldly, well traveled, well read and from my perspective, lead most unusual lives.  I find their stories endlessly fascinating and I find myself feeling less than in their presence. I invited Ingrid and Lois to lunch because they are definitely role models for creating the life you want to live and then doing it, no matter age, financial circumstances, health, past or present challenges.  They might not agree, but I believe they live fearlessly and although I am the same age as Ingrid and four years older than Lois, I want to be just like them when I finally grow up.  Ingrid is writing a book about Runes and Lois is looking to buy a small motor home so she can drive across the US with her dog and her cat to celebrate her 60th year.  I was so inspired by their energy, their can do attitude, their enthusiasm.  I had forgotten the energy force that is created when women come together.  Wow.  It was just what I had been so desperately needing.  I lit up.  I came alive again.  The idea for this blog was born.   Thank you Ingrid and Lois for the gift you gave me and for the delicious Indian lunch.