Saturday, January 30, 2016

Catching Up

We are having a slow weekend after a busy week.

We just completed a five mile walk along a section of the Green River Trail we had not walked before.
We parked at a little park which is frequently filled with fishermen's cars. but not today. 
 A footbridge takes us across the river. This is where the tidal salt water of the Duwamish River mixes with the fresh water of the Green River. 
 Past a Boeing office building another bridge takes us back across the river. These are all places we have seen from the highways and the light rail, but you get a much different perspective down under it all along the river. 
 Urban art. Looks like the artists had to dangle from the bridge to do their creating. 

 The Link Light Rail tracks are in the distance. The trail goes under them where they cross the river. 
 Early bloomers. Winter blooming viburnum
 and witch hazel. 
 We had seen this Starbucks from the freeway, with it's logo sign high in the sky. We added a mile to our walk because it beckoned to us to "Stop here"!
We had a good break before turning around. 
Such lovely blue sky today!
 Not much wildlife today, only some crows and this cormorant. 
 Back around the Boeing building the cultivated landscape provided winter color along with the bright border of moss. 
 As I previously mentioned, our starting point was where the salt water mixes with the fresh water. Here the Indians set up fish weirs for catching salmon, and their legend explains the rocks that protrude from the water as the tide level lowers. 
 An art installation honors the legend. 

 The tide has gone out enough now that the rocks are beginning to appear. 
 And a fisherman has found his perch. 
Friday evening we attended a performance at Irene's school. An acting troupe comes for a week and during after school hours and into the evening, from Monday through Thursday, they assemble their actors, train and coach them, and on Friday they perform. 

The performance was a wacky version of Rapunzel. Irene was a wood elf. There she is upper right. 

 The entire ensemble. A lot of kids had a lot of fun and some valuable experiences. Very impressive. 

And now the the Jake update. 

We had a busy week, as Jake found an apartment with the help of my cousin. While he continued his USPS training we began to haul mini van loads of his stuff over to the apartment. I met with the landlady and arranged for him to take occupancy on Thursday. 

We shopped for stuff he would need to get started, including several trips to the local Goodwill Store, where I found this little table and two chairs for a grand total of $38.56. 
We lucked out with a break in the rain on Thursday so we could transport his queen size mattress and box springs on the top of the van.  Jake put in a 10 hour day on Thursday and met us at his apartment, where we had been very busy getting things arranged. We were all tired so we took him out to dinner, where he was quite enthusiastic about his first day of actual on the job training. He thinks he's really going to like being a mailman. It was so good to see him happy.

Thursday was his first night in his new home. He reported that it took him seven minutes to walk to work the next morning. 

As of Sunday morning it will be just two weeks since Jake began his new life. We are incredibly grateful for all that has gone so well. 

And that is why we are taking it slow this weekend. 

Monday, January 25, 2016


I am in the desert. 
No, not literally. I am continuing to sort my photo files on my desk top hard drive. But it is nice to be plunged into New Mexico in the golden autumn right now. 

I finally made it through our 2012 New England trip. I have a lot fewer photos of slanted old homes, and the ones I did keep are straight now. I realized I had posted blogs via my lap top during that trip and then dumped all the photos onto the desk top without any editing. My 2011 New Mexico file is in better shape and I am having fun reliving it as I sort the MANY photos. 

Meanwhile, out in the garage, Jake is sorting through boxes of his stuff. He has found an apartment in the area where he wants to live, Ballard, and will be able to move in this week. His unit is in the basement of an old house, and while it's a bit more than he wanted to pay (everything in the city is expensive), he will have almost no commute to work. It's nine blocks away from the postal station he will be working out of - walking or biking distance. We haven't seen it yet, but we'll try to start moving stuff tomorrow. It's one of those cases of "It's who you know". The owner of the house knows my cousin Dan, who owns an alternative fuel business nearby. Jake has been working as a bookkeeper for Dan off and on while he has been in and out of work. Dan told the owner about Jake, and since she hadn't even listed the vacancy yet, she gave it to him. 

We'll help Jake get started financially, and then he should be able to get himself back on track. It's only day 9 of  his new life and already things are sorting themselves out. I feel very relieved and I think we all feel very fortunate. 

Not only that, but yesterday Jake went skiing with his cousin. They had a good time up in the mountain sunshine, and his ankle held up.  He really is on the mend in so many ways.

I'm not sure where this day has gone, but I see that it's getting dark already. We had a good walk this morning on this dry, partly sunny day. The rain returns tomorrow. 

I guess I'll go back and visit the desert. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Finding Your Power

 Witch hazel in bloom. The power of nature to stay on her schedule.

I haven't posted for quite a while. I really wanted to check in today and let you all know that I am still alive and kicking, but I didn't really know what to say.  Then I just now read an editorial that showed me the way and what to say.

In the New York times, David Brooks writes today on The Anxieties of Impotence.  
As Anand Giridharadas writes in The International New York Times, “If anything unites America in this fractious moment it is a widespread sentiment that power is somewhere other than where you are.” 
The Republican establishment thinks the grass roots have the power but the grass roots think the reverse. The unions think the corporations have the power but the corporations think the start-ups do. Regulators think Wall Street has the power but Wall Street thinks the regulators do. The Pew Research Center asked Americans, “Would you say your side has been winning or losing more?” Sixty-four percent of Americans, with majorities of both parties, believe their side has been losing more.
In a different way, the American election has been perverted by feelings of powerlessness.

Americans are beset by complex, intractable problems that don’t have a clear villain: technological change displaces workers; globalization and the rapid movement of people destabilize communities; family structure dissolves; the political order in the Middle East teeters, the Chinese economy craters, inequality rises, the global order frays, etc.

To address these problems we need big, responsible institutions (power centers) that can mobilize people, cobble together governing majorities and enact plans of actions. In the U.S. context that means functioning political parties and a functioning Congress.

Those institutions have been weakened of late. Parties have been rendered weak by both campaign finance laws and the Citizens United decision, which have cut off their funding streams and given power to polarized super-donors who work outside the party system. Congress has been weakened by polarization and disruptive members who don’t believe in legislating.

Instead of shoring up these institutions, many voters are inclined to make everything worse. Plagued by the anxiety of impotence many voters are drawn to leaders who pretend that our problems could be solved by defeating some villain. Donald Trump says stupid elites are the problem. Ted Cruz says it’s the Washington cartel. Bernie Sanders says it’s Wall Street.

The fact is, for all the problems we may have with Wall Street or Washington, our biggest problems are systemic — the disruptions caused by technological progress and globalization, mass migration, family breakdown and so on. There’s no all-controlling Wizard of Oz to slay.

Brooks goes on to say we must work to repair institutions and have a functioning Congress. As citizens we have work to do. 

As I have read and listened and watched and studied these past weeks, I have again and again been struck by how fearful and powerless people feel. Our current political mess is a result of that. This fear was reflected by my friends at breakfast this morning, at the horror of the prospect of a Trump / Palin presidency. 

But I refuse to buy into that fear. I am determined to retain my own sense of power and to exert whatever small influence I have over the thinking of others to not react out of fear, but to examine all forms of information carefully and to think deliberately about not only what is good for me, but for my country, and to look at what is possible at each step along the way to achieving what we want our outcomes to be. 

I was reminded recently about the fear that was so prevalent in my childhood. The movie Bridge of  Spies and the TV show Madame Secretary both made reference to the duck and cover drills we did in school to "protect" ourselves from a a nuclear attack. The threat of an atomic bomb dropping on us was real and re-lived every day. But we all came through that. Cooler heads and better angels prevailed. They can and will again. We need to do our jobs to support those "cooler heads". 

And on a more personal note, our son Jake has been fighting his own battles. When he called us last Sunday morning to say he needed to come talk to us, we looked at each other and thought "Oh oh". 

I don't want to go into details. Our son has a right to privacy. But the result is that he is now living with us for a while. He has been accepted as a trainee with the US Postal Service and is in the orientation process for his new career. Sunday was day one of taking power over his new life, a life that he has decided he does really want to live, and on his own terms. We now celebrate each day as progress toward that goal.

One thing that I do know is that among my blog family are a group of powerful women, and a man or two as well.  Stay strong, don't hide from the forces of fear, and use your power well.  The world needs us.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Sorry, I Didn't Hear You

I went to the Audiologist today to have my hearing tested.

I had been putting it off. The last time I had my hearing tested was 2008. My husband and my daughter said it was time for me to go. I am having trouble hearing soft consonants, which makes it difficult to understand less than clear speakers, like my grandchildren. I have a hard time participating in conversation in a group with a noisy background. I need clear speech on TV shows or I miss a lot of the dialogue. English accents are hard to decipher, and that's most of PBS.

The results are in. I have significant enough hearing loss that I am now a good candidate for hearing aids. I knew it was true, but I have been dreading it.

Hearing aids are a miracle if they work, but so often they don't. My mother never found any that worked for her. But technology is vastly improved in the last few years. My older sister gave up on hers in the last two years, after trying two different sets. She said she couldn't find any that worked for her. 

Now I get to go down that road. I will be referred to an ENT specialist first, and then to the Hear Center, where an Audiologist will determine what sorts of aids will work for me. There will be a range of styles and technology levels to select from. I will make a guided choice. Then I will have 30 days to try them out. 

The technology will determine the cost, anywhere from $1300 to $3000 per ear. Of course there is no insurance coverage for hearing aids. Most people I know have had their aids replaced at least once as new technology comes along. There will be service appointments and parts replacements. Once you begin down this road, it doesn't end. 

Do any of you have experience with hearing aids? 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Sorting Photos and Experiencing Memories

I have thousands of photos stored on the hard drive of my desktop computer. And that's only since 2011.

I started taking digital photos when my first grandchild was born in January 2003. For many years, as we traveled, and as we  visited our grandchildren in Colorado, or they came to see us, I had photos printed and put into albums. The photos were also stored on CDs. From 2007 to early 2011 we stored photos on a previous hard drive and saved them all to an external hard drive in 2011. I always planned to sort and cull those photos before we dumped them from the hard drive to the external, but never got it done. They are a mess, with duplicate shots and unimportant stuff and categories the don't always make sense. Someday I may get to sorting them out, maybe. 

That is also the case for the photos currently on the hard drive, dating from 2011 to present. This month I began the process of culling and editing and regrouping them into a more sensible order. In doing so I have been smiling a lot as I remember fun times, work projects, and especially visits with the grandkids. 

Are you ready for some cuteness? 
Jill and her family were still living in Colorado in the spring and summer of 2011, but they always came to visit in June and again in August. They stayed with us and we had all kinds of adventures, both at home and away. 

 We did a lot of pretending in our garden at the Reeder Homestead. 

Kids grow up fast. I am watching that happen in speeded up version as I sort through these photos. Such fun.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Slow Day and a Busy Mind

We got off to a slow start today. It was raining hard and there was no need to hurry.

It was 11:00 before we finally went off to the grocery store. Tom never goes with me to shop for groceries, except the last two times. He went so he could buy Powerball tickets. I guess we'll have something to listen for this evening. Last time we got one number match out of three tickets. Dream on.

Last evening we listened to, and watched the President give his SOTU speech. I was inspired and uplifted by his words and his presentation. I know many don't agree with his politics, but how he can be so despised and hated confounds me. He is truly a GOOD man. 

I loved some of his lines. These are not exact quotes, because I don't feel like taking the time to look them up again:
     Food stamp recipients didn't cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did.
     When there's trouble anywhere else in the world, they don't call China or Russia, they call US. 

He talked about wanting everyone to vote, not suppressing voting, and drawing district lines that reflected the people living there, not manipulated for political party outcomes. 

I thought he was especially strong in appealing to our better natures. The current political climate is so toxic, so riddled with hate speech and fear mongering.

And yet, I fear this is the case far too often. 

How did I spend the rest of my day? Well, I worked for a while on my photo sorting project. That can be a subject for another day. And I did a lot of reading.

I like to follow politics and current affairs. We get a daily newspaper and I skim read the headlines throughout, and select some articles to read more thoroughly. I usually find one or two editorials to read. 

I also read a lot on line. Facebook links lead me to more than I have time to puruse. One link I have subscribed to now comes to me via email, the Opinion section of the New York Times. There I read today an interesting editorial about how we need to stop evaluating teachers based on testing, and instead consider teachers as learners, look at how we teach them in college, how lacking the on-the-job training and mentoring are, and begin to institute year long paid internships for teachers. Yes!

I got into a debate on Facebook over an editorial written by David Brooks called "The Brutality of Ted Cruz" that I shared on Facebook.  It's very good.

Thomas Friedman wrote today about "The Age of Protest" and the concern that when you raise your voice in protest, you need to settle more quietly into a discussion of the issues before calling for reactive action. 

Paul Krugman writes to assure us that the economy is not tanking and under President Obama things are a whole lot better than they were, even if we have a lot to do to level out the income inequality.

That's some of what's rolling around in my brain today. I did manage to do 11 miles on the stationary bike out in the garage, while reading a novel just for entertainment.

Now it's dark and time to cook dinner. I'll see if I can get my mind going in a different direction. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Big Weekend

In the last post I talked about working in the yard Saturday morning.

Saturday evening we celebrated Isaac's 13th birthday. We met at a small Chinese restaurant for dinner. 

I tried using my new selfie stick, but we would have had to make everybody move, so Isaac just took the photo instead. 
Then we went back to their house for dessert and gifts. 
 The theme for this birthday ( you may recall there is always a theme!) was Oregon Ducks. If you ask him why he likes the Ducks so much, he will say that he got interested in them because of their former quarterback, Marcus Mariota, who was drafted into the NFL as the 2nd pick overall by the Tennessee Titans. And he likes their uniforms, and ducks, and "just because". Of course there are family connections to Oregon as well. 

 Compared to some of the elaborate themed birthday cakes Jill had made, she said she got off easy on this one. 
 Happy Birthday to you, Isaac. My grandson is now a teenager!

Sunday morning was another big occasion. 
I was geared up and ready for some football at 10:00, as the Seahawks played the Minnesota Vikings in the "Frigid Bowl", the wild card round of the NFL playoffs, in -7 degree weather. I understand it did warm up to zero by the time the game was over. 

It was a crazy game, with the Seahawks defense holding the Vikings to only field goals, and the Seahawks shut down until the 4th quarter, when they quickly scored a touchdown and a field goal to take the lead 10-9.  And then they couldn't do any more and the Vikings took the ball down the field to kick the winning field goal with 23 seconds to go, and they missed! We still can't believe it!
Seahawks win! And on we go to the next round, which will be warmer, in Charlotte, NC. 

Sunday afternoon we needed to go for a walk, for exercise, and to just walk off that game. We went to the Des Moines Creek Trail. 

 We walked four and a half miles and ended our walk on the pier.
 The Mountain was out over the Des Moines Marina. 
 Tom found a squid fisherman to talk to. 
 It was getting late in the afternoon, the Golden Hour. 
Back at home, I turned on the Golden Globes, but didn't watch very closely. I really don't know most of the movies and shows and actors they were honoring anymore. I will go see some of the movies. Most of the TV shows are cable channels we don't get. 

We ended the day with three TV shows we really like, Madame Secretary, The Good Wife, and of course, Downton Abbey. 

It was a good weekend!