His Take on My Questions

I couldn’t believe his answer.

He heard me ask him the Four Rivers of Life questions.  This simple daily process is suggested by a Basque tradition in order to be able to speak and listen deeply.

Where was I inspired today by someone or something?

Where today was I surprised?

Where today did I find myself being challenged or stretched to grow?

Where today was I touched or deeply moved by something that came into my life?

“The answers to all four,” he said, “Is ‘My Wife.”

Stunned, I asked him to explain.

“We were in a department store and you called me on my cell phone.  You said, ‘I’m in Women’s Wear and I said, ‘I prefer you don’t wear any.’

“You surprised me by wearing that silly green hat with the big white flower.  In public.

“I lost my car keys.  You challenged me to find them on my own.  You few clues did help though.

“No day goes without you saying or doing something that amazes me.”

You might have different responses if you ask someone these questions.  I’ll try medium_3889243610someone else at an appropriate time or seek answers in my journal.

Stop to Savor

medium_3889243610There is a strong feeling of DOING now that Snowbirds, my memoir of our RV trip in a vintage 1973 Ford Scout has launched.

I fidget.  Anything but simply being with and enjoying the quiet transition before jumping back into writing the final chapters of Casanova Cowboy.

If there is a lesson to be learned, it may be to stop.  Appreciate where I am without unnecessarily complicating things by doing.

It’s the tolerance to simply be with what is happening without trying to change it.   When I do, there is a quality of inner strength and balance that allows a mindful presence of being, even when taking care of the everyday little things of living.

The concept of BEING is not easily grasped.  It is similar to a writer who is learning to show instead of tell.

Yesterday after we had presented our excerpts from Snowbirds, one comment was: “It’s just like you were performing at Woodlawn’s (local theater).  Instead of a one-person show, it was interaction between two persons.  I enjoyed it very much.”  (For me, she told me that I had written Snowbirds something that has substance.)

“Just to be is a blessing.

Just to live is holy.”      (Rabbi Abraham Hershel)

Seven Keys to Success

medium_6895594686High-stepping your way through life like these sturdy elephants are doing with their swank is a way to be in agreement with these seven keys to success:

l)  Don’t ask permission.  Oh, you can explain your actions and decisions or your mistakes.  Ask instead for feedback and use the information in your decision making.  In other words, don’t ask permission, do it!

2)  Check things out with yourself not others.  You show respect for others by caring enough to tell them the truth about your needs.

( Personal example for several of these keys:  The fall in the Pacific Northwest has been exquisite in color and crispness of the air.  I felt the NEED to see an area where I’d not been before.  Instead of explaining why, I said to my sweetie, “I need.”

We returned from the weekend trip into Canada and when I expressed my thanks, he said, “but, you just sat and drove 300 miles.”

“Oh, no.  You gave me a very romantic weekend that I craved.  We had a prime-rib dinner at a restaurant where a flowing river went by.  You said, “This is the spot in Bonners Ferry, Id., where we put in from our float trip from Troy, Mt.”

Capping off the great weekend was breakfast by Lost Creek in the Selkirk Mountains.  At the peak and trail head, there was a new rustic chalet beside a gorgeous lake just for passersby.  It was where a coyote roamed the parking lot within arms reach, fearing no one.)

3) Don’t apologize without good reason.

4) Take an opportunity if you feel it is right.  A missed one might keep you stuck so you won’t move ahead.

5) Ask “Why” or “Why Not?” instead of “I should” or “I shouldn’t.”

6) Act on what you think and feel.

7) We need support, encouragement and help from others but make your own decisions.

You know your needs and wants.  If you don’t, ask the Universe and answers will come. These keys can help you deal better with anxiety and conflict.  You’ll be sure of your capabilities.   Abraham Maslow, a psychologist, suggests that if you can face tomorrow without fear, you have the confidence (swank) of self-belief.

Reading. . . Reading . . . Faster and Faster to Write Better

IMG_0054Pew Research shows the average reader of e-books reads twenty-four books a year.  This is more books than the average reader who reads only seventeen.   That’s a plus for e-book readers.

Untrained readers use half of their perceptual field on margins by moving from the first word and spending up to fifty percent of their time reading margins with no content.   Minimizing rapid eye movements boosts reading time.

The average adults reads 300 words per minute.  A third grader, 150.  College Professor, 575.  High level executive, 575.  The speed reader, 1,500.  But, comprehension matter.  Some reports say skimming leads to forgetting details and poor retention.

Your brain stores information you read by: a) impression, so maybe read a passage out loud; b) by association and linking the text to something you already know; c) repetition, the more you repeat the more you remember.  My method is to write key insights on colored index cards.  Going through the cards, the information I don’t remember is put in a separate pile.  These are the cards I repeat and repeat if I want to remember the information.  Remember, the more you repeat, the more you remember..

There are several levels of reading in addition to speed.  There’s the quick or leisure read where the book’s preface, table of contents and inside jacket are read.  The next level is to classify the book by subject, say what the book is about, list the major parts and define the problem the author is trying to solve.

The very best way is what is called the syntopical which requires you to read other books on the same subject and then compare them.  I know someone who is doing that now.  After reading an historical novel about Cortez conquering of Mexico, he is now reading the KING of HISTORY: Prescott’s non-fiction History of Mexico and Peru.  He said recently, “As an author, if I wrote the things that Cortez did, no one would believe me.  That Cortez was sure one lucky guy.”

Take notes.  Scribble in the margins.  Bookmark passages.  Write a review.  I don’t read e-books but I’m told that you can do so while reading in them, too.

There’s a woman in our remote area who writes a little review inside the front cover of a library paperback novel.  She’ll note that on such and so page the character is NOT wearing a watch but in chapter which follows, the person is referring to the time on her watch.  It’s the best of all fun to see someone surprise you as you read.

Let’s Hear it for SWANK!


A story of India comparable to Gone With the Wind tells the tale in Far Pavilions of the Maharajah of Karedkote who is sending his two half-sisters, young and beautiful, in the company of a British Guide across India to be wed to another Maharajah.

The size of the moving camp is so huge it’s hard to get your arms around it.  There are the four state elephants for the wedding procession, a battery of artillery and two regiments of his soldiers, together with 25 elephants, 500 camels, uncountable numbers of horses, and at least six thousand plus camp followers.

“Bit of swank,” says the District Officer, “a chance for the young brother Maharajah to show off.”

This dashing smartness in appearance is slang by the British for “swagger” or “style.”

Not to worry, in today’s world, we’ve got SWANK!  Even allowing for the hundreds of millions who still live in poverty, disease and want, this generation of humans has access to more calories, watts, square feet, gigabytes, megahertz, light-years, bushels per acre, miles per gallon, food, air miles and dollars than ever before.

We have more Velcro, vaccines, vitamins, shoes, movie stars, singers, TV dramas, bean slicers, partners, tennis rackets or golf clubs, drones or anything else you can imagine needing.  Not to mention the Internet, books and e-books, Smart phones, cars, software and hardware.

There are those who will disagree with this.  And, so, to be fair, we’ll report back additional research in the next blog.

We Want What Others Have

We are curious.  We want to see what someone else is wearing, viewing, or to hear what they are considering.

That’s why we love a parade.

It all started back in the middle ages.  A wealthy gent designed a new cape and gown and wanted to show them off.  So he decided to walk through the village in his new finery and wave at the villagers. 

Another man, not to be outdone, decided to do the same.  It wasn’t long before others were bold enough to take a risk and jump right in.

Labor Day will be the first time I’ve sat on top of a convertible in a parade.  The view should be awesome as we drive up Northport’s Main street doing the wave to those who are either sitting on the motorcycle or in their car on upon chairs along the street.

From the first guy showing off to tomorrow when the signage on the convertible doors will tell of my vintage/junk sale Saturday, Sept. 13, under roof, parades are advertising and a darn good use for a vintage convertible.














View from a Hospital Waiting Room

medium_4929685747A writer observes, a witness to ordinary events.  These views of a hospital waiting room came this week from the Surgery Center at Providence Sacred Heart in Spokane, WA.

l) The best of a person surfaces.

2) Tattered copies of Good Housekeeping and Golf Magazine aren’t being read.  No one seems to be reading.  One person is knitting away with bright orange yarn.  The eyes are not on you but they are on alert, watching while waiting.

3) “I can’t read,” says Linda, who has been waiting for twenty-six years every year for results of her son’s heart surgery.  “I pace.”

4) “Look for the large picture of Jesus at the end of the corridor.  Then, you’ll know you’ve found the Skybridge waiting rooms,” said nurse Jennifer.

5) The complex here is huge.  It’s a true fact.  A given.  If you look even the slightest bit lost, the first passerby will stop to give directions.

6) Expect dedicated staff.  Amber told Bud as she was attempting to remove his wedding ring over his swollen finger, “I don’t want to hurt you.” 

7) “Don’t worry,” said nurse Jennifer, “We won’t have to cut it off.  Oh, we have the tools but we have our ways.”  Until finally, she said, “Amber is the Grand Marshall.  Knew she could do it.” 

8) Patience is their strong point.  The ring finally comes off with the help of a Windex-like and a jell product.

9) A waiting room can be different than you think.  Bill, who is a volunteer, along with his wife who is volunteering at the neo-natal unit, was with me at one of the huge windows.  We were looking outside in my attempt to locate the outdoor lot in which Bud had parked.  A man came to us.  “I know every inch of this place.  I’ll be glad to show her.”  Not only did he direct me to the car, but to the Madison Inn across the complex, carried two heavy food cases to my room, and left with a smile.

10) You, too, must either wash your hands, or use a sani-station.  High alert here to prevent germs.

11) Travel light.  Bud brought a big book.  Thought he could do some reading before surgery. That, added to a heavy purse and my book, made the tote bag heavier with each step outside the waiting room.  In a large complex, there can be a lot of walking.

12) Communication is top-notch via instruction sheets and brochures.  Especially helpful for those waiting for news of loved ones is the large wall screen which lists current location: procedure, recovery, phase 2, etc. of patients, and well as time they began that phase.

13) Dr. Steve Murray, also a philosopher, told Bud before surgery, “We can appear to move slow.”  

14) A waiting room has a quiet atmosphere.  Everyone waits for a physician or pa to come with news.  In Bud’s case, “It went well.”  Four percent would hear a different report.






Gentle Thoughts to Help Your Day Go More Smoothly

Don’t complain that you have too much on your plate, too little time, or are never caught up.

Your day can go effortlessly with much accomplished if you stay calm, relaxed and focused.

The secret to finding this wondrous flow to get much done with little effort is to give up trying to control the way things are going. As a wise person said, “We’re not in control anyway. It’s acting as if we ARE that exhausts us.”

Instead, acknowledge that the world is swiftly changing around you.

Here are a few things which can steady your ship and bring you joy:

l) Enter your day regally, like a prince or princess, not rushing. Get up a little earlier. Take a walk, read something inspirational, pray, write in your journal.

2) The most important thing in life is to DECIDE what is the most important

3) Instead of looking for the worst in a person, change your thinking to what are their best qualities and the joy in a relationship magically returns.

4) We can’t change many of the things that are happening but we CAN change our minds about them.

Lao Tzu said, “Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.

Plans Now for the Few Lookout Towers That Remain


A few years ago there were hundreds of lookout towers throughout the vast primitive and wilderness areas of the Colville Forest in Eastern Washington State. Now there are just a few. Drones and aircraft do the job once done by a person who looked and reported fires happening below in the beautiful mountains.

The Forest Service is considering upgrading the sturdiest (like this one pictured above on Crowel Ridge on Salmo Mountain, above Sullivan Lake). “We’ll put in a picnic table which can’t be moved but that will be about it. But it will cost over twenty thousand to make it habitable.”

So why we wondered, would anyone chose this as a camp site?

“You’re closer to the moon and the stars. When night comes, it does it quickly. One minute it’s light, then there is complete darkness,” explained Ranger Nan Berger.

Miles up the mountain enroute to this tower, we passed unbelievable and amazingly beautiful campsites rangers call “dispersed.” They are sites which are sprinkled along Sullivan Creek, each one as individual as the camper who chooses it, all free, elegantly arranged within the forest adjacent to the cold, turbulent water flowing over a rocky streambed. No registration required either, but if you want to swim in Sullivan Lake, a small day fee is required.

There are birds here called “dippers,” little black guys who got their name because they jump up and down, fly and dive and swim underwater.

This is Grizzly Bear and Caribou country so food is “on lockdown” and either placed ten feet up or in your vehicle.

Best times, always to find a creek spot, are the weekends following the big holiday campouts: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or Labor Day. Otherwise there is East and West and numerous other smaller Sullivan Lake campgrounds with small fees, not at all like Disney in Orlando asks for a simple tent site: sixty dollars, and they’re always full!

If you like summer adventures, you might be interested in Passport in Time, a government volunteer program for those who want to help rebuild structures in the forests across the country.

People become so fond of wilderness camping (places where no feet have trod) that they seek these marvelous places across the country. Sorry, only a few wilderness areas are in the East.

It’s still time to find huckleberries. Perhaps, another joy of summer will be Roman Nose Mountain in Idaho out of Sandpoint where they’re just beginning to ripen. Get your bucket and come along.