Walking and Talking

Paradoxical. Yeah, that’s me. I admit I check my Facebook account a couple of times a day, I post photos onto Instagram, play Words with Friends, read the news, text and FaceTime, and even – when necessary – write emails. Oh yeah, and I’m working on this blog. So I may be over-connected, just me and my little digital bubble.

At the top of Burlington Hill

But I also enjoy people – whether it’s in Five Minute Friendships, chatting to the cashier at the grocery store, you name it. But while it seems simple, it’s really become apparent how conducive walking is to conversation. We live about 10 minutes away from Burlington Hill. It’s only 450’ at the top, but we like to park about a quarter mile away and walk to the top and back, just short of an hour. Our primary objective is to get some exercise, but invariably we find ourselves discussing – life. What did you think about xxx? How do you feel about xxx? How did yesterday go? What do you want to do today? So, about that trip to xxx, should we xxx? I always look forward to these walks with my wife. I feel we have pretty good communication skills, but it just seems so natural to walk and talk.

On the trail to Hannegan Pass

One of my retirement goals this year was to get in as much hiking in my beloved North Cascades as possible. I’ve often hiked these mountains solo, but at this point in my life, it feels more prudent to have a hiking companion when my wife can’t join me. Rick, newly retired to this area, is a member of our local Sierra Club, as am I. We talked a bit about hiking, and headed out on the trails. It has been fun and interesting to walk and talk with him, and to show him some of my favorite places up in the mountains. And the more we walk and talk, the better we get to know each other, and connect as fellow travelers on this adventure we call life. 

I think of others I have walked and talked with. Multi-day backpacks in the Utah red rock wilderness with my brother-in-law John; backpacks and canoe trips with my great childhood friend John; a difficult conversation with a close family member while we walked and talked; walks in beautiful parks with visiting friends, walks with my wife’s sister and her husband around their adopted town of Port Townsend, and so many more. 

Find someone to walk with

In this most interesting and introspective stage in my life, connections and relationships mean more than ever before. I think we all feel a loss of deep, true and meaningful connections in these days of instant, impersonal digital communications. It feels like our entire social fabric is coming unraveled as we become more and more dependent on our devices, and we become an isolated island of loneliness and quiet desperation. I think we would all do well to find someone and take a walk – and talk. You may not only improve your physical health, but your emotional health as well. Let’s get walking!

Terri’s Famous Granola

My days of a “full-time” house-husband are drawing to an close when August ends and Terri retires, so today was a chance at redemption from the last time I tried to duplicate Terri’s Famous Granola. I will never be a chef, but I can follow a recipe pretty well, but the hand-written notes from last time meant the granola – while edible – did not meet the usual standards. I think I nailed it this time, but I’ll find out for sure when Terri comes home and tries it. I may be biased, but I think her recipe makes the best granola ever!

5 Minute Friendships UPDATE

I talked about 5 minute Friendships in a recent post on my blog  IAmGray . Sometimes something more happens. We had a few extra moments recently, and decided to do a little wine tasting at our favorite local winery, Dynasty Cellars. The tasting room was getting crowded, as a group of wine writers were in town to cover an annual nearby wine tasting event. There were two open spots at our table, so we welcomed Rob and Lynn to our table. Hailing from Woodinville, where there are over 90 tasting rooms for Washington wineries, they were in Bellingham for the weekend. 

The conversation was easy and relaxed, in a convivial setting, and we each shared a bit here and there, getting to know each other better. They both went to Seattle Pacific University by Queen Anne in Seattle – only blocks away from one of Terri’s sisters home! We shared memories of growing up back when the world seemed a much safer place, and places where we’ve gone wine tasting.

Turns out we have some very similar tastes in wine, and wineries, and before we knew it, they volunteered to do the driving on our next trip down to that area! Our time at the tasting room was running out, and we mentioned that we were going to be headed out to church soon. That sparked a whole new turn in the conversation, and we ended up inviting them to our church – and they accepted! Faith is a critical part of our journey, and it is always a joy to share it when appropriate (not here to shove it down anyone’s throat 🙂 

And so, just another affirmation of our desire to connect – as much as possible – with other people on this journey, and at this time. We love our 5 Minute Friendships, and the possibilities they offer!

How I Got FREE UNLIMITED BOOKS, and other Senior Deals!!

How? I joined our local library. But wait, that’s not the end of the story! For me, it all starts about April 1, 1959, when the brand-new Hollywood Library opened in Portland, OR. I was a whole 8 ½ years old, but it was in easy reach when I got my Schwinn bicycle. Exploring the shelves, doing high school homework there to escape the chaos of four younger siblings in the house,  reading, reading, always reading. I loved that library! 

Fast forward a few years, and I found myself working at Multnomah County Library Central branch, built about 1913. What a beautiful building! Working behind the scenes, in the book stacks, in the A/V area, getting the microscopic staff elevator stuck between floors, playing Mille Borne at lunch – and the selection of books was AMAZING! Great memories of an amazing place.

Years later I moved to Bellingham, WA, and found I could walk to the library during my lunch hour, select a half-dozen books, walk back, and still have time to wolf down my brown-bag lunch! I did that for 20 years, when I got another job about 30 miles south, and then eventually moved to Skagit County. Ironically enough, not too long after that, I found a new position back in Bellingham, but with 30 minutes for lunch, and a lot longer distance, library visits became a thing of the past. Yeah, I discovered Amazon books, and the bookshelves at Costco, but it wasn’t the same. I made a list of things I wanted to do once I retired, and getting set up at our local library was one of them.  

We live in a small town, about 12,000 souls, so I wasn’t expecting much, but I had to check it out. It turned out to be reasonably larger than expected, and had some unexpected bonuses! Movies on DVD by the hundreds! All those movies I never had time to watch before, now at my fingertips – going to be great when the winter rains come, and drive me inside. Narrated books on CD by the dozens and dozens! We are planning a couple of major road trips, and these are so much fun, haven’t listened to them in years. 

But wait, there’s more! Free access to Lynda.com, which offers classes in photography, writing, computer programming and more! Hoopla, where I can instantly borrow digital movies, music, eBooks and more! Freegal, free access to 15 million songs! I can go to several genealogical sites, travel info sites, American food culture sites, and language learning software! Yeah, I’m excited about all the possibilities.

Next stop was the Senior Center, right across the parking lot from the library. Also free, but …. I may wait a few years to avail myself of their offerings. One (well, two to be technical) more stops to check out something I read about in my Medicare supplement information, Silver Sneakers (or for some, Silver and Fit). 

I try to keep fit, using an elliptical exercise machine, exercise ball and elastic band, and dumbbells, but I feel like I need help targeting flexibility, balance, and proactive anti-sciatica exercises. I checked it out, and found there are two gyms  – one a mile away, and a much larger sister facility about 12 miles away. Guess what! It’s free!! OK, I will have to pay a personal trainer once for a workout tailored to my exact needs, but I’m excited about the potential. Zumba Gold, tailored for the (ahem) “active older participant,” SilverSneakers for 65+ members, and once I get really toned (I hope) fast-moving PiYo that combines pilates with Yoga.

And my wife is excited about Aqua Pilates. Me, not so much, but I told her I’d be willing to get in a swimsuit if she would. 

I’m enjoying the heck out of this summer, going on lots of fabulous hikes in our beautiful North Cascades, keeping our yard in the best shape it’s ever been in, connecting with friends, neighbors and family, but I know our summers are short up here in the northwest. So when those infamous winter rains set in, if you can’t find me at the gym, there’s a really good chance you’ll find me at  the library.