Thursday, October 31, 2013

Two Words

Today's prompt:  If you could write a note to your younger self (as if she would have listened), what would you say in just two words.

Don't settle.
Be happy.
Don't drink.
Drive slower.
Attend college.
Speak up.
Read more.
Sleep less.
Travel often.
Keep friends.
Lose enemies.
Eat well.
Take pictures.
Journal often.
Hold on.
Let go.
Don't quit.
Quit sooner.
Breath slowly.
Listen better.
.... you get my drift.
It's never too late to start!
love, susan
Your turn!!!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Second in a series of writing prompts this week:  Hi, my name is Susan and I am (fill in the blank) an observer.
I am a lot of things.  I'm a dog lover. An adventurer. A procrastinator. Controller of the social calendar. Lover of people. Under the hood, I'm a little OCD about some things.  I'm a motorcycle rider, mom, wife, friend and like to think of myself as a worker among workers.
Truth: I don't really much like writing about myself. I have opinions and beliefs. Strong opinions about a lot of things but I don't really like putting them out there for discussion. I want you to like me and I always carry this great fear that you won't because I don't think or believe the way you do. There. I said it.
What I'm not is a great debater. I am not one to stand and argue a point with anyone. If you feel one way about something and I don't, I'll gladly let you have your way of thinking. I think I'm a pretty good listener, which is a skill I started developing a long time ago and still work at.  "Live and Let Live" is a motto that best suits how I feel about most things. 
I come from a generation where we sat at the dinner table together for dinner. I was taught to be polite to everyone and to pay my own way. I am my mother's daughter. That's something that is sometimes still a shock to me. Mom and I rarely saw eye to eye on anything but often times I now find myself thinking I am very much like her. Feels so odd. I guess we take what we want and leave the rest. She was a wonderful human being and everyone loved her. Who could ask for a better remembrance?
Okay. Whew. This was a hard prompt. Your turn.  What are you?
love, susan

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I receive a weekly email from Mama's Losin' It.  I promptly ignore all the prompts but this week I decided perhaps I might try writing a little every day using her clever ideas.
Like everything else, I want to accomplish a lot of things but there never seems to be enough time or energy in a day.
The first prompt for this week is to share a tip or trick you recently learned.
I couldn't really think of anything I most recently learned ... is that a sign of aging?  However, I wanted to share this very old (1977) photo from my senior year. I don't have a fancy schmancy machine to .pdf it so I just snapped a pic with my cell phone and did very little editing to get it here. 
Here's my tip:
I use my cell phone camera for E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.  Some event coming up? I snap a photo of the details.  Parking in a big city? I snap a pic of the cross streets so I can remember how to find my car. I have pictures of my favorite people's addresses from my rolodex so if I'm at work and want to mail a note, I can.
We were on a camping trip recently and hubby's daughter had the best bag of grain crackers she had picked up at Costco. I don't shop there but I snapped a pic of it so I could remember to look for it next time I go to the store.
There it is.  My great tip.  It's probably old news for many of you but if it helps just one person reading this, my work is done!
By the way, I'm the girl with the arm folded across her mid-section. These are my school mates and fellow yearbook editors. Whew, that seems so long ago.
love, susan

Monday, October 21, 2013

Home for the Weekend

We actually stayed home this weekend. I enjoyed every single moment of it!  I got my dying tomato plants cut up and placed in the recycle bin, made grape jelly, cleaned up my office and paid some bills. I actually read a chapter in a book before I feel asleep for a Sunday afternoon nap.
Today I am up early and trying to get excited about going to work. We're having a late "boss's day" celebration with a food fest all day. I still need to stop at the store on the way to work. Eeeks! 

Saturday night we met friends over at Keiko's for dinner. I love this one-man band who plays there occasionally. I love our friends too!  He sang us a couple of Eagle's tunes .... peaceful, easy feeling is stuck in my head.  Good times!

I took all these pics with my cell phone. I've gotten in a bad habit of not having my other camera handy for photo ops.  My smart phone takes great photos outdoors most of the time but indoors, not so much.

All in all, it was a super good weekend and I look forward to the next one!  Between now and then, I'm starting out with a good attitude and wanna keep it that way!  The color of this grape jelly helps!  love, susan

Muscadine grape jelly.
My first time making it. Tastes fabulous!

Gene picked grapes late in the week, which I made into jelly.

Muscadine grapes from Doug's garden

Friday, October 18, 2013

Food Adventures

When it gets right down to it, I love to eat.  This is a bit far removed from how I used to be, say, 30 years ago. My old high school friends and family will tell you that I was as skinny as a rail ... to a fault. Just as much as plump people don't like to be reminded of their body size, it's that way for skinny people. "Oh, you were sooooo skinny!"  Really? Like I've never heard that before?  I'm not sure why people feel they have any business talking about another person's body weight but I can only chalk it up to human nature.  I got over being skinny starting when I was about 30. I've been in love with food ever since I discovered how wonderful it can be.  Prior to that age, I was happy with a can of green beans or box of mac & cheese and a soda for dinner.  I'm not sure what flipped the switch in my mind, but to me food is much like art. There are so many colors and textures and flavors to tried. 

So traveling to Mexico City last week, I knew there was going to be some great food. I was not disappointed. We ate mostly street food. For those who never get out of town, street food is food prepared on the sidewalk right in front of you. There are street vendors everywhere in Mexico City. Surprisingly, we never saw any flies. So weird.
We noted that there were very few vegetables to be found in the street food. Onions maybe. Limes don't count at veggies. It was all good but my constitution requires some fiber so I bought a big fruit cup every day to keep things moving, if you know what I mean.

We did stop at McDonald's one day to grab a cup of coffee and use their bathrooms.  Mexico is lacking in their public restrooms. We didn't mind going into Micky D's for coffee because they do serve up a nice joe. It might be the only natural food they serve. I shot a pic of their décor for my son and daughter-in-law as we share a fascination for McDonald's décor. It's different in every region. This McD's was gorgeous!
Afterwards, we walked a while and I found these ladies cooking up a little something on the grill and I could have kicked myself for having already eaten. It looks like they have yellow peppers on the tortillas here. It was the one and only time I saw a vegetable on the grill. The tortillas were really thick, just the way I like them and tell me, don't these woman just look like experts in their field? So many places to eat, so little tummy room.
The day before we left, we decided to stroll down a street we hadn't been on.  Oh my gosh, it was like finding pastry heaven. Now, I'm not a great fan of all Mexican pastries, I think sometimes they are dry and tasteless, but this bakery caught my attention with their frosted delights. We bought a bag of goodies and headed home to make some instant Nescafe coffee in our room. If you are a traveler and you love your coffee, you should never go without some instant coffee packs. 
I'm so glad it's Friday. I am ready to make some Chicken Tortilla Soup. What's on your menu?  love, susan

These had almonds and were as so light and flaky
I could have eaten 3 of them, but I didn't.

Can you see Gene peering in the window?  LOL!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mexico City

Day 1 ~ Made it! What an interesting trip on the metro from airport to hotel. Rode the metro to the Museum of Anthropology. Nice, helpful people everywhere. Most don't speak English but we got by! One nice lady walked us several blocks to the museum. Another old man explained the peaceful demonstrations that brought thousands to the plaza Sunday morning. Interesting people everywhere! Gene ate a crispy grasshopper while I took a pass on that.
Day 2 ~ Up much too early. So glad I tucked a box of instant coffee in my backpack. Museums are closed on Mondays so we took a 3-hour bus trip to Taxco. I had money burning a hole in my pocket for some new silver earrings. Food is constantly on my mind. If ever there was a reason to live here, the food would be at top of the list! Bus ride to Taxco took us through some seriously poor areas. Regardless, there are always food stands. The day was interesting as we visited a historic Catholic church and then walked up a street with open air market where locals buy their food. People were very friendly. I'm stocked up on silver earrings! 
In Taxco
 I have never seen so many Volkswagon bugs in one place (Taxco). They use them for taxis. We rode in two of them after I nearly had heart failure walking the steep streets. The cab rides were much like the Indiana Jones ride at Universal Studios. So much fun in a "scary, I may die in a love bug" kind of way.
Butterfly exhibit at zoo a must-see
Day 3 ~ No rushing out the door this day. So many choices for what to do so decided over coffee and breakfast of tacos covered in verde salsa. I've decided in my next life I'd like to be a traveling food journalist! Squeezed too much in today. Bad backache. Saw some beautiful buildings, artwork but couldn't get into national palace due to police having it blocked off. Best part of day was sitting at cafe this morn watching people in their suits and ties going to work. Thousands of people. Few people smoke here. Thousands of peeps on metro system and nobody was rude. Some have cell phones, but I'd say less than 25% have their face stuck in them. Nobody we've seen has tattoos.
Taxco (silver is their industry here)
Day 4 ~ The Mexico City zoo was AWESOME! This may go down as my favorite day! Because the admission is free I thought it was going to be crappy. I was so wrong! We did have to pay 40 pesos ($3.15) each to enter the Insect Exhibit which has your typical tarantualas and huge cockroaches. BUT it also had a botanical room with butterflies! I woke up today feeling a little panic as I couldn't remember what day it was. After dinner of posole and flan for dessert, we walked outside to a torrential rain complete with thunder and lightening. Hoped it would clear some of the smog. Other observations I've made ... the police are everywhere and they always have their cop lights on. I surmise they want their presence known. I'm getting used to the constant sirens. The other thing I've noticed is drivers honk their horns constantly. Seems rude but I don't believe that is the intention. It's just simply "hey, I'm here!" You get used to it. I've noticed are they don't serve rice with street food. The orange juice included with breakfast is fresh squeezed and it feels like such a luxury. All the bread is sweet. There is never salt and pepper on the table. The people here love their helato (ice cream). Regarding the metro system, the first day I was scared to death but now I see that the subway is how people are able to survive here. For .25 cents a person can get anywhere in Mexico City. The metro is not for those who have social anxiety as during peaks of day you are jammed in shoulder to shoulder. Once on the metro there are always one or two "vendors" who get on and start chanting to sell their wares. Some of them have stereos complete with nice sized speakers in a backpack. They wait until the train starts and then blast the musica! A person might be put off by this but when in Mexico, do as the Mexicans do and just ignore it. The "vendors" only stay on for a stop or two and then depart. It's a hard living, no doubt. I've seen only 1 or 2 sales in the times we've taken the metro. The metro system moves 3 million people every day. Incredible! Today I noticed every time we stopped and looked like we were lost, someone nearby would ask if we needed help. I can't quite get over that. On the other hand, on our way to breakfast this morn, a nice man named Arturo stopped to talk and it turned out he wanted to show us the city ... a private tour, if you will. We were polite and thanked him but kindly said no. Afterwards, i wondered how many people would actually get in the car and go with him? Nuts! Turns out we ran into him every day after this one. So, last night the street vendor where we were going to eat was closing and he waved us across the street to a restaurant. Lesson learned: if the place has table cloths and a door, and you can't see the cook, the price goes up X3 and not nearly as good. In Mexico City stick to the street food ... it's what the locals eat!
Day Five ~ Day trip to Puebla. Ran into Arturo (the guy from yesterday who wanted to give us a private tour) this morn on way to breakfast. Decided he is a pretty good scam artist. He even produced a tear for us this morn. I'm cold-hearted at times. Today he was simply cutting into my vacation time. I'm afraid I was less kind today. Got to bus station and actually found a free bathroom. It was filthy. The ride to Puebla took us through the poorest 'hoods I've ever seen. Many abodes are concrete block and lots of tarps. Clothes hanging from place to place ... I'm guessing most don't even have wash machines. I saw lots of dogs in the streets today, some with hair so matted and dirty it made me cringe. In the poor areas there is hardly a wall that isn't tagged with graffiti. I'm glad we went to Puebla. It was very crowded on some streets and at one point we simply sat and watched the crazy bus drivers at one intersection. It seriously looked like a demolition derby! Puebla has several historic Catholic churches. We only entered one today and I think I'm pretty good to go for ever visiting another historic church. Lots of gold and high ceilings. My favorite moments this were looking down allies and finding older women cooking the most wonderful looking food on hot grills. All in all a good day but it paled in comparison to the zoo yesterday. The buses are very comfortable and have bathrooms. Anywhere you go in this city, you'd better have pesos in your pocket because you have to pay 4 pesos to use el banos, if you can find one. And, you may not know that they don't flush t-paper here, it goes in trash. Yes, even the poo paper! Poor, old sewer system.
Day 6 ~ Strolled over to the Museo of de Arte Moderno today. Very nice! Took a very long nap, then out for late lunch/early dinner. Walked in a different direction and discovered a beautiful park with one of a very few authorized replicas of the Statue of David which is in the center of a water fountain. And get this, a place where locals take their dogs to play!!! Dogs of every shape and size, off lead, just burning off some energy. Very joyful! Talked to a guy from Spain who has lived here a year. It's Friday night and Mexico City is rocking!
We packed a lot of sight-seeing into 6 days but it was fun and if I had to choose my favorite things it would be the food and the people.

You Made My Day, Dude!

A couple weeks ago while I was driving back to Portland after spending the night on the Oregon coast, we came up on some road construction ...