Saturday, November 30, 2019

118. The Drowned World


What a fascinating book! It was written in 1962 and foresees a world in 2145 where cities like London have been submerged in water. I have this love for dystopian novels. Some may like this, but I found it something great to ponder. 

Saturday Sixteen Minute Freewrite

I did it. Today will be a full week of doing freewrites. I said, "Famous last words" about my intention of doing them daily, and here I am!

I have had a very good week. I felt very focused on the Lord during my morning times. It has been fun to go back to the Spiritual Exercises. Disappointed that Anne and Elizabeth were not able to coordinate using Exercises for Everyone with the others in their cohort, but that is OK. I can live with that. Tony's brush off of my a year ago was a good exercise for me, and it was the theme of last year to work through the Type Two's fear that we are unwanted and unloved. I feel very wanted and very loved by YOU, God. So that is all I have to write on a Post-it note from now into eternity because YOU are the one I am spending eternity with anyway. Your opinion is the only one that matters. WOW! I am not just telling myself that truth. I am actually following through and living in that truth these days. Why did it take me so long to get here?

Yesterday was a lovely day. Cold and sunny, I woke up still early but had gotten plenty of sleep. I had a bit of caffeine in the late afternoon at mother in law's so that I could stay up a bit later that night. Even with that, I could only stay up until about 9:15. Part of it was that Wonderful World of Disney Christmas special was really BAD. There were good things in it: Sting and Pentatonix especially, but many of the acts were pretty cheesy or just sounded really bad. So, I am not surprised I could not stay awake.

I had a Facetime Spiritual Direction with Anne at 7am. So good. I love that girl. Then Katherine and I went for a two-hour walk up to Chip Ross Park. I got all 10,000 steps in and a good time catching up with Katherine. I have not spent one-on-one time with her since a bit after I broke my leg. She is such a great girl.

After this, I finished The End of the Affair. It is a sad story but so well-written! Narration by Colin Firth was also a plus. 

After this, I painfully finished that Christmas special. Eighty percent bad! 

It would have been a perfect day to go get our tree, but no one could be roused to do so (including myself). So it was a low-key recovery from Thanksgiving day for all of us. I read a little bit more of The Drowned World and was considering watch the rest of the Everest movie (as a follow up after reading Into Thin Air), but I know what happens, and I just cannot do it. I am going to bring it back to the library. Too sad for me to see this in dramatic form.

We had a lovely Salsbury Steak dinner together. Then I did the weirdest thing, I saw that Twilight was free on Xfinity. What? I cannot believe I actually watched that movie. I can see the appeal for teenagers. 

After this, I went to sleep and slept a good seven hours. I think I am officially caught up and readjusted to the time change.

Today, I hope we get our tree. It is the first day of Advent tomorrow, and I want to set up our Advent Wreath at the least. I think I am also ready to go back to my Enneagram studies. I am to become an expert on Types 5 and 8 in the next few months. That will be fun. There are none of these types in my cohort (although one of the women in there sure seems more like an 8 to me than a 1). 

Friday, November 29, 2019

117. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

Wow! This man really can write. It is not a cheery subject - an adulterous affair, but it is a very compelling story, and I was drawn in from the get-go. It did not hurt that my favorite actor, Colin Firth, was the narrator. It really is a performance rather than just a narration. 

This book is part of the "Catholic novels." This book is inspired by the end of his own affair with a woman (and the book is dedicated to her). 

Friday Fifteen Freewrite

I really have been doing it every day! I said, "Famous last words" about my resolve to do this every day this week, but I really am. 

I had such a sweet time with God this morning. I think to do an Examen after such a perfect Thanksgiving day was pretty easy and sweet. I love George's mom. It was just George, Michael, Paul, and me with George's mom. She has not been feeling very well. So we offered to come and do the meal. She was shaking when we arrived. She is 90 years old, although she looks like she is 70 years old.  She is such a wonderful woman who raised a wonderful son. I am not ready for anything to happen to her. I pray she reaches a ripe old age of 100 (at least)!

I think the reduced size of the gathering makes for less stress for all of us. I think the person who causes the most stress has chosen to not be a part of our celebrations, and I do not miss it. I think that this person is on a journey that none of us can help ease. I have let it go, but it was a matter of prayer for me this morning, and it was such a good time to pray. I am resolved to pray for the healing of that person, but that person has to want to heal. That is the issue. Do they realize that their patterns are destructive? I am not sure. There is still blame being cast. There is control being exerted over others. We are just relieved to not be among those who are in the net of control. We have freedom. 

All that said is that the prayer with God was for a resolve to pray daily for relief and healing. I would not want to live with the challenge of that person's day to day existence. Mental illness is such a difficult thing, and I feel nothing but compassion and love. I know this is not about me (although I have been blamed at times).

All that said is that my kids are so fun. We laughed and learned together. I made rolls. George did the pies and turkey at home. We piled it all in the car and drove through the heart of the Willamette Valley in the cold sunshine of a late fall day. It was GORGEOUS, and I was in heaven. Europe is beautiful, but where we live is even more so. We listened to our familiar Christmas CDs on the way (thinking Grandma would not approve, but she said later that she thought that was nice that we listened to it BEFORE Thanksgiving had ended). 

We had a team effort in the remaining dishes. I did the sweet potato with brown sugar and butter glaze. I cut the last tomatoes of the season from Grandma's garden. Paul did the mashing of the potatoes and opening up of the cranberry sauce, Michael made the gravy, and George did that incredible stuffing (Brother Paul's amazing recipe - YUM!). Grandma warmed her homemade canned green beans. We threw in a warm-up of a can of corn.

After dinner had settled, we played Trivial Pursuit for about two hours. It was so fun. I want to say that my hubby is a rock star. He knows so many obscure facts. He is so smart, and I marvel at his breadth of knowledge from Arts and Literature to History to Science. The boys won while Grandma and I had a late entry into being able to answer questions. It was so fun. Paul liked it so much that he continued to ask us all questions from the pile.

Homeward bound we reveled in more Mannheim Steamroller and instrumental Christmas. We came home to listen to more music. I tried to watch a Christmas special but fell asleep within minutes of getting in bed. 

Such a perfect Thanksgiving Day! 

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thursday Thirteen Freewrite

Since I had a freewrite last night too, I am only doing THIRTEEN (but mostly because it goes with THURSDAY). 

I slept until 4:30am! I probably would have slept longer, but George had set the alarm so he could get up and put the turkey in the oven. But I cannot complain. I think I am finally adjusted to the time change. It always takes me about one day of adjustment for every hour of the time change. Europe is nothing compared to the grueling time change with Southeast Asia. 

I am on Week Five of the Exercises for Everyone. I am so glad I wrote this guide. (If you want one, I give them free to anyone who wants it. I want people to experience the life-changing freedom that comes from the Spiritual Exercises. I am on a mission to tell the world!) I contemplated the "sin of the angels" today. I was so scared to do that the last time. When I did it with the Creighton University Online Retreat, it was so much easier. The actual way that Ignatius describes it made me very reluctant to do it, but I remember I had all these appointments get canceled, and I spent the whole day working through my apprehension. It ended up being so freeing for me. 

I would love to do these Exercises in a podcast form. I was thinking this morning that I would love to have someone come along who could do that for me. I often would have ideas in the past, then someone would come along and put those dreams into reality. I remember having the vision for a lip-sync to "Powder Room Politics" and Lisa O came along and put it into action. I wish I had someone to make my dream of spreading the Exercises to people in a way that is accessible for today. I do not know the first thing about doing a podcast. I wish that I did! So I am going to pray for that. I think this is so important for people. 

I am beginning to smell the turkey! I am going to make my famous French rolls. I love my mother-in-law, and I am looking forward to seeing her. 

Last night was so sweet. We all crowded in our bedroom and watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and the other one that is an animated history lesson of the pilgrims. Fun fact to know and tell: we went to the church in Amsterdam where the pilgrims worshipped before they went to the "new world"! It was just fun to watch this together even though our kids are adults.

I am going to say it. Those guys are going to make wonderful husbands for two women someday. I know I am their mom, but they are just really kind and sensitive young men. They are not flashy or fake. They are just real people. I like them a lot. I always look forward to these extended times as a family. 

I am enjoying the book Dear Bob and Sue. I am looking forward to listening to another Graham Greene novel narrated by Colin Firth too, The End of the Affair. I am having trouble transferring the last two CDs on my computer though. Quite weird. 

Well, Happy Thanksgiving to all!

GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE. Oh, I must find that one poem I love so much by Dunbar. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Wednesday Freewrite and Examen 2.0

I don't usually do two freewrites in one day, but there is no law against it. I will use it as an Examen prayer time at the end of the day. 

It has been a good day.

There was a part of me that started out this day a bit down. That is highly unusual for me. It was just this vague sense of something amiss. 

So I began it by writing a Freewrite. Writing helps me sort my brain out, get those feelings on paper, evaluate my day.

Then I had a Prayer of Examen. I did a specific one that is on my "Reimagining the Examen" app. The question was "Am I Free or Unfree?" I thought this was appropriate because I am on the part of the Exercises where one looks at Disordered Loves. Well, that was so helpful to get it all out there. I was still holding on to some things. It is partly my compassionate Type Two Enneagram self who is feeling the pain for another, but I realize that I have to let that go to God. I have to trust Him for the life of another. Sometimes, I find that it is harder for me to trust God for another's life than my own. 

That was so good. I took my candle over to the comfy chair and prayed it out. There was a release. Then I went on to meditate on Matthew 6:34 in the Message: 

"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now,
and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.
God will help you deal with whatever hard things
come up when the time comes. 

It goes back to what God has been teaching me for the last year: live in the PRESENT moment, and the present moment is safe and secure in the loving presence of God. 

So I wasn't down after that. but I also knew that I had not had face-to-face time with several friends, and they were all people that had expressed interest in getting together. So I contacted them all through Marco Polo, and some of us went back and forth a few times. I am walking Skyping with Anne early Friday, walking with Katherine later on that morning. Then I meet with Brittany on Tuesday, and Kim the next Wednesday. I am also going to meet with Nancy if she doesn't go with Kevin to Central Oregon next week, but we went back and forth and that was really good because we are both having to trust God for another person, and we both acknowledged that was very hard to do. 

I also prepared the house more for Valentina and Pieter to come and clean. It was great to see them. I started to read Fearfully and Wonderfully Made by Phil Yancy and Dr. Paul Brand. So good. 

Also, I wrote out all the things I am grateful for on my Facebook page. Ignatius said that ingratitude is the root of all sin. Must start every day with a grateful heart. 

Then I went and did my volunteer work for the library and listened to Dear Bob and SueIt made me laugh out loud a few times and have warm memories of all the National Parks I have visited. I also met a new volunteer that I could help answer questions about Dial-A-Book. 

I started to watch Man in the High Castle Season Four, but I just could not do it without my George. So I watched a video about Drs. Paul and Margaret Brand, and I was so inspired! That book club discussion is going to be so great on December 4th. I have hardly read any of the book, but all the supplementary material from Renovare Book Club has been so interesting!

Now, George has just gotten home, and he is deboning the chicken that I cooked for soup. Such a guy. He also brought me another audiobook, and of all things, the narrator is none other than Colin Firth! 

What a great day it turned out to be, and tomorrow is Thanksgiving where I get to be with the people I love the most in the whole wide world. 

So what was life-giving: connecting with lovely ladies like Anne, Katherine, Brittany, and Michelle on Marco Polo and Nancy and Kim through text. Also connecting with Valentina and Pieter because they wanted to know all about our trip. Reading was also fun. Writing was also fun. The videos on the Brands was also very uplifting to my soul. 

What was deadening or out of tune with God's plan? When I first got up. I almost felt like it was somewhat spiritual. (But the weapons of warfare were there, at my disposal, and I utilized them.) 

The most meaningful part of the day: Breaking through the low feeling I felt and having a colloquy with God about the whole thing. Letting go of it and letting my day start out awesomely.

(The timer went off a while ago, but I couldn't stop writing.)

116. The Uncommon Reader

3793473. sx318 This book was a delightful surprise on my reading list! I laughed out loud so many times. (It does have one very off-color phrase about halfway through the book that does not characterize it and was totally unnecessary and totally improper!) Queen Elizabeth II is on the verge of her Golden Jubilee, 50th anniversary of her ascension to the throne, and she has discovered READING!  This new discovery even has her talking about Proust which made me laugh since I am about 30% of the way through his book, In Search of Lost Time.

Reading opens her eyes to a whole new world and causes great consternation with those around her. An avid reader would love this delightful book. 

115. Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

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This is an imaginary conversation between the Italian explorer Marco Polo and the great emperor, Kublai Khan. Polo is describing imaginary cities. I thought it quite bizarre and have a hard time believing that it was nominated for the Nebula Award for Science Fiction in 1975. It did make me want to learn more about Marco Polo (I bet most young people today just think of Marco Polo as a video messaging app.)

James Mustich put it on his list. So I obeyed and read it. Let's see what James has to say about this book:

As light as a cloud and just as beautiful, Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities floats across the mind’s sky and seduces our vision. Purporting to be a record of conversations between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, in which the inveterate traveler describes the many extraordinary cities he has encountered in his wanderings, it is in fact a fiction of poetic and philosophical charm that unfolds in brief descriptions of fifty-five fantastic places, from Anastasia, “a city with concentric canals watering it and kites flying over it,” to Zenobia, which, “though set on dry terrain . . . stands on high pilings, and the houses are of bamboo and zinc, with many platforms and balconies placed on stilts at various heights.” To read Invisible Cities is to discover an unsuspected mythology whose truths are inexplicably recognizable; it is unlike nearly every other book you will ever open. A true master of the fabulous, Calvino succeeds by making his readers feel they are as imaginative as he is.

114. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

I am on a roll of listening to audiobooks as I putter. This is a thriller on the eve of the first world war. It is the first in a series where Richard Hannay is the protagonist. The novel is written in the first person, and it kept me engaged the whole time. 

Of course, it is on the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die list that I have been obsessed with since May. (Do I need to see a doctor about this?) I never would have picked it up had it not been on the list, but I love exposure to books I would never think of reading. The narration is charming (Not sure on this book cover who "Samuel French" is because my version was narrated by Robert Powell, and he was excellent.

I now have the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock version on my Amazon Prime Waitlist. I love it! 

Wednesday Freewrite

I just pressed the button for my recertification for the National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. That is nice to get that off my plate. I already did my Power Pilates one in October. So there you go. I was going to buy the Corrective Exercises Specialist option for the next recertification, but I think I will wait until the next Black Friday sale so that I can stick to my guns about not doing any kind of class for a whole year. I will study that in the Summer of 2021. 

I am a little disappointed. I tried my hardest to stay up a little later last night so I made it to 9:05 thinking I would sleep at least until 3am, but I woke up BRIGHT EYED AND BUSHY TAILED at MIDNIGHT. UGH.

Well, I was able to finish another book (review coming soon). That makes six since I came back a week ago. Granted, I am listening to rather short audiobooks while I putter around the house. I am all caught up on things here. I just need to make rolls for Thanksgiving tomorrow and chicken soup for dinner tonight. I wonder if I should try my Instapot. 

I also contacted all the people who have wanted to meet (except Nicole) with me and gave them options. 

I will be happy to go back to work on January 7th. I was able to get my classes all set up. It looks like my 10am Pilates I class is full (because I know there will be some non-credit people in there on the first day), but my Pilates II is pretty small at this point. Changing it to T/Th really reduced the size of my class. I should see about changing back to M/W but that would mess up my weight lifting right after. I am still not knowing if I should do that class. I am still unable to do lunges with my left leg. I think I can run again and even jump a bit. So yay me.

Paul's interview was very short. I don't know if that is a good or bad sign. He applied and got an interview within 24 hours, but both the interviewers had a meeting so they asked him a few questions and went there merry way. He looked nice for it. 

I am enjoying the Exercises this week as I meditate on disordered loves. I think the hardest thing for me to give to God right now is the employment of my kids. I thought they had chosen an art field that would make them employable, and Michael got his first job so quickly. But this second job has meant many interviews, even down to the final one and then not getting it. Paul has three interviews this week. So I am grateful for interviews at least. I wish I knew more about how to get in that field. 

Well, I am going to get time with God. I just wanted to freewrite and journal here. I did want to put that Proust quote from the devotional I had while in Europe called God is With You Wherever You Go.

"It has been said that the read voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."

Something to ponder


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Tuesday Twelve Freewrite

Tuesday I just do a TWELVE-minute freewrite because I love alliterations. Everyone who knows me knows that. :) I can find an alliteration almost anywhere.

I like Grammarly. It really nails me on my mistakes. I am not afraid of making mistakes. Most of the time I get a score in the 90s though. It is fun to see how I do.

Well, yesterday proved to be a productive day. I listened to the presentation videos for my Integrated Resistance Training Course only ONCE and read through the 54-page booklet only once. I did go to Quizlet and had fun mastering 54 terms. I probably didn't even need to do that because I aced the exam for the course on my first try. YAY ME. I am glad that I did not put it off because of fear. This is another thing I have noticed that I do not do as much. I used to overstudy so much in college and beyond.

Speaking of studying: I am not going to take any classes from June 2020 to June 2021. I have been learning so much since 2015 when I was certified in Pilates and then became a Certified Personal Trainer. I also retooled in Transformational Prayer Ministry by going to Denver in the Summer of 2015. Then came wanting to get a certificate in Spiritual Direction and now the latest is the Enneagram. All that to say, I am going to NOT take any classes. I promise! (Famous last words - My nickname is Curious Carol, and I LOVE to learn.) I think I am tooled up to be able to be a Spiritual Director but one who deals with all aspects of a person's life: spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental.

Well, I am glad to get that class out of the way. I am recertified for both personal training and Pilates and CPR/AED. 

Today, I hope to finish my book The Thirty-Nine Steps. I also hope to set up my Pilates website. 

Good news by the way: Paul has THREE job interviews in the next week. When it rains it pours. After five months with NO bites, he has three now. Go figure. Michael has a great lead to a printing business in Salem, but he is thinking about moving back home to save on rent. The thing about Paul's interviews is one is in Bend. It looks like a great job for getting experience though. The other ones are in Albany and Corvallis. God knows best.

I am still NOT adjusted to the time difference between Europe and here. I could not keep my eyes open past 7pm and woke up this morning at 2am. I forced myself to sleep until 3am. I like the extra morning time, but I am not adjusting as well as I thought. The good thing is I have no night commitments this week. So I am trying to stay up later and later. Oh well.


- OSU Canvas Website for Winter Term
- Finish The Thirty-Nine Steps
- Start Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
- Encourage Paul as he interviews for one of his jobs today and also does a sample for his interview in Bend. 
- Decide about doing the 18th Annotation with Marge
- Make contact with Nancy
- Rendezvous with Margaret for crutches/book exchange
- Straighten up the house for cleaners coming tomorrow

Monday, November 25, 2019

113. Growing Up by Russell Baker


Such a fascinating, humorous, and delightful memoir. He was born in Virginia about the same time my mom was born in Chicago. This generation that grew up between World War I and II and survived the depression is truly a wonderful generation. I could not put this great memoir down. 

I thought his name sounded so familiar, and George reminded me that he was the host of Masterpiece Theatre from 1993-2004 which is when I came to it in earnest after marrying George who grew up on it.

This man can write. I feel like journalists are the best writers of all. This is only up to his marriage to his wife, Mimi. It is such a great read, and I highly recommend it. 

Monday Fifteen Freewrite

I am going to try and do a freewrite every day this week (famous last words - I don't know how many times I have said this and never followed through - freewrites are fun, but I move on to other things and forget that I had made that pledge, but I have a lower activity week than normal - so maybe).

I have switched back over to Chrome. I used Firefox on the ship, and I noticed how much quicker everything was. I think Edge is just so slow. I also like that Chrome runs seamlessly with Blogger. 

I am up to 1952 posts on this blog. I have been writing in it since 2004. So let's do the math. That is only about 130 a year. There were many weeks where I did not write anything. 

I am trying to decide whether I will lead one of my Boise Spiritual Direction Cohort people through the 18th annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. I wonder if that would be awkward for both us since we are peers in the same cohort. I really like this person. Still praying about this. I would have to rework the 19th annotation that I wrote last year, but that might be really nice. I think the 19th can be pretty overwhelming for people. 

Yesterday was a testament to the growth that God has done in me. It could have been stressful when our friends had not gotten tickets for the Thanksgiving Dinner for internationals, and the other friend that I had invited needed to leave just one hour and fifteen minutes into the time at the dinner. I just was not stressed at all. My Type Two personality can get stressed if I cannot meet everyone's needs, and I didn't even try to. I made no commitment to leave the event early for the other friend, and George went early to ask about whether our friends could come without tickets, and it all worked out beautifully for everyone. The event coordinators said, "BRING THEM!" The friend who wanted to leave early seemed to have a GREAT time and didn't indicate that she wanted to leave. She had no other engagement. She just wanted to study. So I didn't stress that 6:15 came around, and I needed to leave (even though our other friends had just gotten there (an hour late). I just had a grand time. 

I think the lower stress has really had an effect on my back too. I was telling Dr. Myers that until I had my leg break, I did not realize how much tension I carried in the mid to lower back. I did not want a repeat of what happened to me last time I had to be in bed for a long time (2009), and I just consciously thought about relaxing that part of my back. Letting it all go. I really carry it from the Quadratus Lumborum to the Glutes. I tense all of that up. I do not release it. I just release it now, and I do not have that "string" of pain on the left side of my back anymore. I think it was a compensation I learned long ago because I have that shorter leg on the left side. So YAY me. Less stress and less pain make Carol a very happy girl. 

So this morning, I meditated in Romans 8 (my "nervous breakdown" chapter), and GOD FREELY GIVING US ALL THINGS really jumped out at me. George and I both noticed that we came back into our environment and the stress of our kids both being out of a job just hurled over us like a wave. We both acknowledged it on our walk and then released it. God will freely give us all things. So I prayed more about that this morning. I am praying our boys have an overwhelming love for the Lord. They have an overwhelming realization of his presence in their life. I am at peace about this transition that they are both going through. Go FREELY gives. So I am praying they receive whatever he has for them this day.

This week is slow. I need to talk to Nicole about meeting. I need to take the Resistance Training Exam. I need to get my website set up for the next term. I need to start doing resistance training again myself. (I had a dream about leading a Pilates class, and I need to do that too.) I need to set up a time to meet with Elizabeth, Anne, and Kim too. I want to see Nan. I think I am going to try to do face to face time with more people.

And I need to move on with my day because my 15 is over. 

Sunday, November 24, 2019

112. The Third Man


This was my first stab at Graham Greene. I was engrossed. About 2/3rds of the way in, I realized I saw this movie many years ago! Here is the summary of the book:

Rollo Martins' usual line is the writing of cheap paperback Westerns under the name of Buck Dexter. But when his old friend Harry Lime invites him to Vienna, he jumps at the chance. With exactly five pounds in his pocket, he arrives only just in time to make it to his friend's funeral. The victim of an apparently banal street accident, the late Mr. Lime, it seems, had been the focus of a criminal investigation, suspected of nothing less than being "the worst racketeer who ever made a dirty living in this city." Martins is determined to clear his friend's name, and begins an investigation of his own. (Amazon summary)

Sunday Sixteen Minutes Freewrite

Sixteen minutes, starting now is what the Alexa just said. So, my fingers will do the walking across the keyboard.

I have started doing the Spiritual Exercises again. I might be leading someone through the 18th annotation (a shorter version of the 19th annotation which usually lasts about 34 weeks), and I realize that I need to adapt the version that I wrote to fit that. I have two women going through the 19th with me right now. I am wondering if they are feeling overwhelmed. I am wondering if I even need to make the 19th annotation that I wrote a little bit more streamlined too. I have loved doing it for the third time though. This week will be that wonderful looking at Creation around me and doing so we gratitude and thanksgiving. Perfect for this glorious week of Thanksgiving that is coming up. Tonight, we go to Calvary to host a table for the International Thanksgiving celebration. George is feeling sick, and I would prefer not to go alone, but I will go if he is still not better.

Actually, last week was such a good week for appreciating the beauty of nature too. The Rhine River and the fall leaves of the grape vineyards sloping up the steep hills, the towns we visited with fall leaves (Cologne and Amsterdam come to mind), Philosophers' Way forest. Oh, it was just beautiful, and I could take it all in and breathe it in ever so deeply! I am so excited to do this in my hometown. For the past two years, this week usually fell during the peak of the fall, and I would ride my bike two times a week through Corvallis and the gorgeous OSU campus to feast my eyes upon the colors of fall. So, I am a little past that peak, and I am not riding my bike, but I will get out and look up and about. Maybe I will see if Katherine wants to go for a walk or Sandy. I need to get back into the swing of life in Corvallis now that I am recovered from my injury and not planning to go on the epic trip we just returned from. 

Now I am getting a crazy notion to call that family member that is "intimidated" by me to see if we could maybe sit down and have coffee/tea and come to some agreement. I don't see how the person could be intimidated. I stay out of their way, and I have for years. I try my best to just be positive and encouraging. I know it is not about me, but maybe I am ready to just sit down and try to see if we can come to understand each other. That was a crazy idea. I don't know where that has come from. I think this 30+ year standoff (because I really believe that this person IS intimidated by me, but not because I am intimidating but because they do not know me and knows more OF me because of the people who know both of us and what they say about us - long story).

This morning was so good in Psalm 104, 8 and others. I decided to just listen to them being read to me and let them pour over me. Then I felt inspired to just listen to the words in Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World." I know I go back to that song over and over again, but I want to have eyes wide open to the wonderful world out there this week. That is the grace that I am seeking in the Exercises

I am also listening to the book Growing Up because it is on my 1000 Books to Read Before You Die list, and it is delightful. It is Russell Baker's memoir. He was the host of Masterpiece Theatre, and I am enthralled already. I love audiobooks to listen to as I putter around the house doing various things.

Today I will also be doing my CEU units for my Personal Training recertify. It is a resistance training class, and I am inspired to get back to it. I don't know if I am ready for the class I was in last year at OSU, but I might be ready for an easy version of the FIRM for the next month or so. I need to get back to stabilization in my kinetic chain. I am hoping the exam for this course can be done quickly and easily. 

Also, I was able to sleep until 4 am. So I think I am well on the way to adjusting to the new time zone. I have liked getting up early and spending time with God.

The most life-giving thing I have done since we got back is to do ALL the laundry from our trip and Paul's too (because he did none while we were gone). I really do love going around the house and puttering. I need to do more of that than just using my head when I am not leading my Pilates classes. 

I must also get an appointment system going for my spiritual direction and get a website up and running for my 2020 launch. I am excited about this. I don't know how to do it though. I have looked at different things, and I don't know what I am doing. I need someone to help me.

Well, that was sixteen minutes. 

Saturday, November 23, 2019

111. The House of the Spirits

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This is an epic tale told over three generations of the Trueba family. It weaves personal stories and the political history of Chile together. The writing is superb, and the narration is excellent.

Friday, November 22, 2019

110. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

1898 I really liked this book. I listened to the audiobook while up in a pressurized cabin of a plane surrounded by the thin air of 36,000 feet. I looked out my window once our plane had descended to the height of Everest (29,029 feet), and I marveled that men and women would risk their lives to summit this formidable mountain. This first-hand account is gripping. Krakauer can write. I couldn't put it down and listened to much of my transit time from Basel, Switzerland to Portland, Oregon this week.

There is really no one to blame for this tragedy on May 10, 1996. It was an act of God. It will probably remain a mystery as to why the leader of his group stayed up beyond the cut off time that he usually adhered to. So many lives lost.

My book club gave this book an 8 out of 10, and many were reading it for a second time and enjoyed it. One of our book club members, Michelle, read a letter from the father of Scott Fischer, who died in the tragedy. Michelle's mom purchased a condo from him and asked him to give us his thoughts on the tragedy. Such a poignant moment for our group.

This book is on the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die list, and that is why I recommended it to the group. Here is what the author says about why it is on the list:
Krakauer’s gripping account of the events of that tragic day, from the rigors of his own experience to the deadly horrors the fatal storm delivered, is one of the most riveting and harrowing adventure stories ever told, set down, as the author puts it, in “the calamity’s immediate aftermath, in the roil and torment of the moment.” 

Friday Freewrite Fifteen

I love to Freewrite. I had a talk with Vida and her mother in law on the boat about writing every day, and how her mother in law did this with her book club using The Artist's Way as a guide. I wish I could have talked to them more. They were nice people from Oregon. :)

Anywho, I am back to just plain old freewrites. So no charming pictures of European destination cities and villages or crazy videos of me tasting the local cuisine. Just me and my thoughts. No attention to grammar, punctuation, or spelling. Just writing continually for fifteen minutes without stopping. 

Thirty hours after returning from our wonderful trip, I hosted our book club to discuss Into Thin Air by John Krakauer, and it received an average score of 8. People really liked it, and the discussion was so stimulating to me. I am so glad that I suggested this book. It was our first time using one of the Corvallis Benton County Library Book Club Bags. It went really well. I really like this group of women. The make up of the group has shifted slightly, and I am more comfortable now than I was when I left for a break seven years ago. Or perhaps I am different. I am more and more comfortable in my own skin. More and more able to not feel uncomfortable with disagreement and debate and expressing my own opinion or emotions. I love growing up. It is so nice. 

I suppose I have to credit much of that to two things: 

1) Spiritual Direction - Making time for a monthly meeting with someone consistently for the last two years has been so healthy for me. Sister Joan was very sporadic (off and on from 2015-2017), but every time I met with her, I walked away with significant opportunities to grow, and I think I did (2016 and my sabbatical and also by setting a boundary with someone not healthy for me at the time come to mind). Then I had Fran to help me think through the whole Renovare Institute suitability and the great decision that God directed me to with just the right amount of questions and listening from Fran. Then Mike, who led me through the Spiritual Exercises so that my challenge from a family member was worked through so wonderfully with much observation and affirmation from him. Then back to Fran, and her encouragement as I embarked on this river cruise with George to keep my focus on the most important things and not worry if someone does not like me or accept me was so crucial to my soul growth. Even sitting with lawyers who can be challenging for me because of directness and absolutely falling in love with these smart women! I am going to cry. 

2) Enneagram - I will always be thankful for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as a tool for growth through my 20s-50s, but this new era of learning and studying this has added a whole new layer of "aha" moments with God. I strongly disagree with Christians who think it is a terrible thing. (That is another subject for another freewrite.) It has so helped me grow. It has helped me to stop, wake up, and listen to God when I do things that are not the person Christ has renewed me to be. This trip helped me so much to see some of my patterns and to STOP in the midst of them and smile and say, "Nope, I will not operate out of an unhealthy pattern of relating or obsess over someone not liking me or feeling like I said the wrong thing or disappointed them. I will stop and listen to that 'still, small voice' of God who speaks truth into my soul if I am quiet enough to listen." I DID stop and woke up and listened. They are little subtle things, but I can see how helpful it has been. 

That was a very fast fifteen minutes, but it was so fun. I said to our group last night that Krakauer had to write that account of the Everest disaster because writers have to write, and I am one of those people who has to write. I just have to express myself this way. (And FYI, Helper Type Two personalities really benefit going to a Healthy Type Four creative side, and this is part of that creative side that I must do - that and photos - that is why the blog and pictures with the blog were so important to me on our river journey last week. It helped me so much. I think photojournalism is my creative passion really. Pictures united with words are what makes my heart sing. So grateful for Trapdoor - Wait, the Freewrite ended eight minutes ago, and this writer is STILL writing! ACK!)   

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Rhine Getaway Day 8 - Basel, Switzerland to Home Sweet Home

We are back home. The flights from Basel to Amsterdam (KLM) and Amsterdam to Portland (Delta) went off without a hitch. It seems like they went really fast, and I SLEPT probably six hours total between them. SO YAY!   When I was awake, I watched a movie called Yesterday. So cute! I also listened to my audiobook: Into Thin Air because I am leading a book club discussion tonight. 

We came in an hour early to Portland. The only bugaboo was that only two of the eight Global Entry kiosks were working. So, it was actually longer to go through that line since we were first off the plane and could have gone to the regular immigration kiosks that were working. So much for paying extra money to expedite things. :)

Today, I am going to do a little comparison between our last cruise (Grand European Amsterdam to Budapest, 15 days) and this cruise (Rhine Getaway, Amsterdam to Basel, 8 days). 

Things We Liked Better on this Cruise: 

- PROGRAM DIRECTOR: Nancy was superb. As I mentioned in the previous post, her narration of the Romantic Rhine castles was so lovely. The program director from the last cruise was a stressed-out curmudgeon at times (refusing to even narrate for those on top of the boat when only one person wanted to stay inside). That director got more relaxed toward the end of the trip but after Nancy, I realize how terrible the last one was by comparison. 

- BOAT: This boat was a four-month-old longship. The last one was their oldest ship in the fleet that would be retired after its trip back from Budapest to Amsterdam. The longships are beautifully decorated and spacious. The old ship did not have even enough room in the lounge to house all the people on the ship. The dining room was also very crowded.

- AQUAVIT TERRACE: Even though it was cold, we sat out there during the castles, and it was lovely being in the bow and having lunch service out there. There is also an inside eating area. We never ate dinner there because it was dark at that time, but I bet that it is a popular place to eat dinner in the summertime. It is much smaller and more intimate too. 

- THE CAPTAIN: Funny and polite. The last captain was very shy. You could tell he hated having to talk in front of people. 

- LOCAL MENU OPTION: There was a special menu that had the dishes from the place we were visiting. That is new since our last cruise and based on passenger feedback. We especially liked the Dutch menu.

- VERANDA DECK: We like spending time in our room, and this allowed us to still sit outside and enjoy the view. We are Oregonians. So we did not mind the cold. George had his quiet time out there almost every single day. We paid extra for this, and we feel like it was worth it. 

- NO SLOPPY DRUNK PEOPLE: Last time, we had a "party" group that did not come together but found each other and could be quite disruptive at times. They dragged throughout tours because they were so hungover from partying the night before. No such people this time. 

Things We Liked Better on Our Last Cruise

- ITINERARY: Most of the places we stopped at on the Grand European put us right in the heart of the city whereas, on this cruise, we docked in a smaller, less interesting town and were bused to the interesting cities on the tour. So this meant much more time on buses and in transit versus just getting off the boat and being there. This meant less time in the cities, and I always felt like 1-2 hours to explore the city was not enough time. 

Cologne was an exception to that as we were there until very late that evening both times, but even with that, now they bus you from a smaller city (Zons) and the boat eventually meets you at Cologne. That is a change from our last itinerary where we just walked off the boat into the heart of the city. We also like the Danube River better than the Rhine. As one person on our trip put it, it is magical, and I would have to agree. 

- FIFTEEN DAYS VERSUS EIGHT DAYS: We realized this cruise was too short. Fifteen days was much more time to enjoy Europe. Relationships had more time to form on the last cruise too. 

- LESS STAFF: There were many more waiters and waitresses in the dining room last time. There was also a concierge who would give you directions to things to do in the city. I think it was a big mistake to get rid of the concierge. 

- FEWER CHEESES: One of my favorite things about the last cruise was the vast selection of about ten local kinds of cheese at breakfast that changed with the area we were in. This time, there were the same three kinds of cheese every time.

- NO RHINE BOOKS: Last time, we had a book about the Rhine River that pointed out all the different things we were seeing on the way. I did not bring mine from last time because I assumed we would get another one. Of course, Nancy did narrate the most important part to us. Last time, I was the narrator (read from that book) for the people up on deck since our last director refused to do it. 


- FOOD: Excellent presentation and taste. I had a better strategy for eating this time so I did not gain as much weight. (Eating a very light breakfast off the buffet upstairs and only eating the heavier cooked meal twice.)

- PEOPLE: They were interesting and reciprocal in conversation. While there were still older people, there were many younger people this time. Eight days was not long enough to get to know 180 people. Last time we had fifteen and 148 people. I really like getting to know others and people on both cruises were much more relational than our Rick Steves Tour in France last year. 

- SERVICE: Even though they had less staff, the staff we did have was wonderful. It just took longer, but we did not mind. The person who took care of our room was EXCELLENT, by the way. 

- AMSTERDAM, KINDERDIJK, COLOGNE: We loved going to these places again. We got to see things we missed in Amsterdam last time. Biking the windmills was such fun in Kinderdijk, and we did two of the same things we did last time in Cologne (climbing the tower and going up to the Cologne Triangle) and loved them just as much. We also did a few new things (like eating Picasso Chocolate, oh my). The only thing that was not as interesting was going to Marksburg Castle again, but there wasn't really much to do there unless we paid that extra money for another excursion in Koblenz (This should have been on the "did not like as much category." Last time, we docked right in Koblenz very early. If we had done it this time, we could have gone into the city and toured around there and only had to pay for a taxi ride of 45 Euros to where the boat had moved on to at Marksburg Castle. As it was, it would have cost us about 100 Euros to go from Marksburg to Koblenz and back. I cannot complain though because I had spent two days researching Koblenz only to find they do not dock there. When I told the customer service this, they gave me a credit for my trouble.) It was fine to see Marksburg again, but you could not see the Rhine because of the fog. The rest of the day was a repeat, but seeing the Rhine castles in the fall was amazing. The colors just popped! It was a totally different experience than seeing it in the spring. So I didn't mind doing that again!

- FALL versus SPRING: The weather was so much colder, but I didn't mind because of the beautiful fall leaves everywhere we went, and we are Oregonians, by golly. We go out in any weather, and I had just the right clothes for it this time. While it was warmer last time, I thought it would be much warmer. Consequently, I did not bring the right clothing so I ended up being colder in the spring than in the fall! I didn't mind the light rain that only happened on one tour (Heidelburg) for about fifteen minutes. We had more rain in a downpour in Nuremberg on our first cruise. I also liked that the fall afforded us less crowding because there were fewer people visiting the places we went to. 

Personally, I did better emotionally on this trip. Not that I did not have a great time last time, but I am not as much of a people-pleaser now. I didn't need to "fit in" with others. I didn't feel excluded (something I used to struggle with) when people wanted to sit with people and were saving seats in the dining room (actually 1/3 to 1/2 of the boat included pre-established groups of 4-10 people - something that did not happen last time. The only groups last time were four Oregonians and three New Yorkers, both of whom we hung around with at different times on the trip).

I kept on reminding myself that my primary reason for being there was not to make new friends but to be with George and to celebrate our 30th. He was my focus, and that was all the relationship I needed. Anything beyond that was the icing on the cake. As it was, we met some really lovely people on this trip. I think we will stay in touch with the Atlanta gang. 

George only had one negative interaction with another passenger, He YELLED at George because George moved his chair back unknowingly making it so that this man could not see the screen (that had nothing on it by the way). I had my back to him and heard a man yelling and did not know why. It was pretty weird. There is a way to say that nicely, but I don't think this man knows how to be very nice.

Thankfully, we were never on any tours with this man but I observed him frowning on many occasions.  Actually, there were many more unpleasant individuals on our last cruise, but we had no negative interactions but just observed them. This man's wife was also not a happy person. She complained through the entire tour of the Marksburg Castle (thankfully her frowning husband must have stayed on the boat for this tour because he was not with her), but it did not bother me (and would have five years ago). 

That was probably more information that I needed to share, but there is growth in me, and I am happy about that.

I am also pleased I was able to get meaningful time with God every day and also connect with him amid our activities. 

All in all, it was a GREAT trip, and I cannot believe it is over!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Rhine Getaway Day 7 - The Black Forest, Germany and Colmar, France

Hiking in the Black Forest of Germany
I am up really early for our flight out. I will have to make this very short as we need to get our luggage out our door at 3:30am and leave for the airport at 4:30am to catch a flight from Basel to Amsterdam and Amsterdam for Home Sweet Home!

Yesterday was another wonderful day. I had an excellent night of sleep and went to the ship's library for great time with God before anyone was up. I have really loved this little travel devotional, God is With You Wherever You Go. Yesterday's was about taking in each moment instead of trying to capture it on your cell phone camera. There was a little exercise to take five minutes out of your busy day of activity that always accompanies vacations and just breathe it all in - experience the sunset sort of thing. Then to just listen. Isn't that a great exercise for every day and not just on a vacation?

Anywho, had breakfast in the dining room (most days we grabbed lighter food from the Aqua Vit Terrace buffet and brought it back to our room to eat on our veranda) with the cutest couple in their 80s, Dominique and his wife (her middle name is Ann, but I cannot remember her first name). Dom was in the Navy and in the waters near Cuba encountering Russian ships during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Say what? LOVED his stories.

We boarded buses at 8:30am that took us on a scenic route up to the snow-covered highest point (4,898 feet) of the Black Forest of Germany.

Charming Village at the Top of the Black Forest

 It was so beautiful. Our end point brought us to chalets where some could go to the assembling of a cuckoo clock, but we went on a hike up the Ravenna Gorge. 

Then, we went to a demonstration of how to make a Black Forest Cake that was excellent! 

After busing back and lunching with more wonderful people, Frank and Janine from Massachusetts, we went to the charming Alsatian town of Colmar, France. We had Laura, the same guide from our Black Forest tour. She is a 30 year old English woman who moved to France when she was five years old because her parents wanted to have a different life for her twin sister, Rebecca, and her brother. We called her "Laura the Explorer" (because Dominique misheard her and thought she was Dora the Explorer). 

Laura the Explorer - Our Guide
She gave us a detailed, one hour walking tour. Colmar is home of the creator of the Statue of Liberty. So this replica is the first thing we saw as we entered the city. 

Laura told us about  a fun tradition that dates back centuries called "The Blessing of the Chalk." During Epiphany (January 6), Catholics mark their homes with chalk signifying that their homes are homes where Christ lives. Usually, families gather around the front door of the home, saying a prayer before a family member makes a mark on the doorpost. Then they pass it on to the next family member to make the next mark. The "CMB" refers to the names of the three Wise Men traditionally referred to as Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. It can also stand for the Latin phrase Christus mansionem benedicat, which translates to "May Christ bless this home." The numbers preceding and following symbolize the year with crosses in between. This is what having a guide to a city does for you! We would have never noticed this if not for "Laura the Explorer"! 

The Blessing of the Chalk
Tiniest House in Colmar - No Ground Floor = No taxes! 

The Unterlinden Museum was CLOSED! BUMMER!

My only critique of this tour is that she did not take us to the quintessential part of Colmar: "Petit Venise"! I have no idea why. When you think of Colmar, you think of those iconic buildings lining the canal. As it was, we walked down there by ourselves because we knew it was there but wish we could have done it for the tour as we did not have much time to walk along there because we were on a mission to taste a flaming Apple and Calvados Tarte Flambee!

Here is the video link on Instagram in case the embed one does not show up:

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I think I like the savory Tarte Flambee better than the sweet, but this was something I had to try because of the flaming presentation!

We also tried two of the famous Alsatian wines, Gewurztraminer (ladies wine) and Muscat. I liked the "Ladies Wine" better! 

After this, we went to the Dominican Church to see the famous Virgin in the Rosebush. Alas, it was closed. :(

Then, we found some Cremant D'Alsace (and I had to say that about three times until the French-speaking person behind the counter knew what I was saying - must work on my French pronunciation) and Sylvaner

We left Charming Colmar as the Christmas lights came on. By Friday, these streets will be CROWDED with people in the Christmas Market.

We came back to pack and celebrate our final dinner with great new friends. We all went around the table to share what we found to be the most life-giving thing about the trip. 

Brandy and Lydia from Atlanta. Mary Ida and Christ had already gone to bed! 

We had a great time and will forever remember our trip down the Rhine!

Tuesday Ten Minute Freewrite

I am going to go great guns for 10 minutes on this freewrite. I am meeting with a person (not sure if she wants direction - she just wanted ...