Yes, I am making a big deal of this feat! I resisted the temptation to enter into this small cult at work for at least a year. From parenting issues, yard and home maintenance, dog maintenance, health, work; I’m faced with new things all the time. I had this sense I wanted to join in on the logic of riding a bike to work, yet my heart held up its hands in a cross as if to say, “No… not another new thing!” I didn’t think I had space for it. There are days when I question what mystifying component is part of the equation that allows me to juggle multiple things with such vigor, and then there are days when the “the straw that broke the camel’s back” is someone asking if they can ask me a question. No! I want to shout, but usually I find composure.

I’m compelled to do a lot of things. Some of what I do is my personality, and some is the nature of life, the day to day demands we all face. The combination can at times be lethal or invigorating. As I get older I hope I’m wiser. I try to stay focused. My kids have heard me say over the years, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Even when something looks worthwhile.

But bike riding for example made sense. At our school there are several staff who ride their bikes to work. Over hill, over dell from SE, NE, SW, and Milwaukie staff not only ride their bikes to work (hopping on Max for a portion of their trip) to SW Beaverton, but one has brought his beautiful young son in tow for at least the last year. 

I know many women who feel a real sense of satisfaction in doing something themselves, or overcoming a fear. That’s not me. In fact, learning to install a dimmer switch which I attempted last December was not remotely interesting to me. I made a sincere effort, but after hours of YouTube and other input, my friend’s husband accomplished it in about 30 minutes, and while I hated inconveniencing him, I had no problem having not been successful. My front porch fountain that was built for me last year by my son and dear friend got torn apart with the house project. Even after a good effort by Bradley and myself, there it sits. I feel no sense of failure. I just wanted a dimmer switch and I want a fountain.

However, I knew that riding a bike was within reach, if only I wanted to do it, and I didn’t. But I kind of did. Being a person who loves to be productive, I recognized the multiple benefits. I would be exercising and contribute to the good of the environment, not to mention save on my Prius’ small amount of gas consumption and the wear and tear of that lengthy 8 mile round trip commute. I wasn’t interested in taking on a new challenge, yet every single day when one of those studly staff members walked in with their bike I thought, “That could be me.” And then, “Nah. I don’t want it to be me.” I don’t want to get up earlier, I don’t want to be sweaty at work, I don’t want to buy a new helmet, or put air in my tires, I don’t want to leave Winky any longer than I already do, and I also don’t want to get hit by a car.

May was apparently National Bike Month. I say apparently because I’m not exactly sure what it was, but there was some excitement over riding a bike to work and one of our eager staff members solicited everyone to take this bike awareness opportunity to get in on the action. I found myself signing up one night on a site called Love to Ride/Bike More Challenge.

There I was, committed. My first ride to work (after a couple practice rides from home) was on May 17th (you can see by the date I was dragging my feet). But after that very first ride when I entered my school, I knew I was hooked. At least, until I’m not. I’m sure a fair weather and light outside rider I will be. All the things I anticipated it to be, it was, except I am not sweaty at work, and that’s a good thing, because that could have been the deal breaker; that, and getting hit by a dump truck.

There are so many things I’ve learned in the 5 rides. One, it is scary to be in a bike lane and have a dump truck wiz by you and then exit right, just ahead of where you’re cycling. A big obstacle for me was the whole grooming piece. There are a couple of darling cyclist women at work who probably look the same when they go to bed as when they wake up. That’s not me. But I’ve figured that out, and doing a sponge bath with the washcloth and towel I carry in my backpack is working out well, although donning my sports bra after work last Friday was a little sobering; it was still damp from my morning ride. I squeezed my eyes shut and got over it.

The first morning’s ride was fraught with anxiety. I honestly didn’t know which was the front of my helmet, it had been that long. After serious consideration (I might have sent a photo text to my daughter), I wobbly was on my way. I took a different route home that night that would give me a little extra distance. The route to school was just under 4 miles, and this different route would be just over 4. I wanted to enter a roundtrip 8 miles into my Bike More Challenge. But the route home is more challenging both in elevation and traffic patterns. Stopping at a red light atop a hill caused me to catch my breath, and then look to see who was laughing. I staggered in an effort not to fall on my face as I pedaled to get my wheels moving, maneuvering re-entry into traffic.

The next bike ride I felt the cliche, “like riding a bike.” I felt as if I’d been doing it for at least a couple days. Not only was I less intimidated by the experience (by now I had the front and back of the helmet figured out), but I was able to be more aware of my surroundings, and I found myself strategizing, like how to pace myself between lights, how to navigate double turn lanes, and managing the light that stops at the top of the hill on my route back that day.

On the way home impatient drivers annoyed me, but I wasn’t intimidated. More progress! I guess it’s hard for a driver to sit still when they want to turn right into a parking lot. One driver attempted to inch her way into the parking lot, until I made eye contact with her. One of those co-workers who come in beautiful without makeup was hit by a driver who was impatient making a right turn into a parking lot. I get it! With each new experience I had new questions for my cyclist experts at work, like:

Do you use a horn? Answer: no

Do you use mirrors? Answer: no

Do you carry a lock? Answer: yes, and an extra tire tube (still not sure the extent of that)

Do you stop for school busses like a car? Answer: yes

Do you move ahead on the right in the bike lane if traffic is stopped? Answer: yes

Do you pull to the right for sirens and lights? Answer: yes

By day 3 I was feeling veteranish, like “Oh my goodness, how is this possible?” On this day I took the same route to work that I’d been taking to get home. I felt competent as I moved from the outside right into the left to make the left turn. It does help that it’s 6ish am. A man on a bike in a flannel was ahead of me in the bike lane going slower than I was, which surprised me. He jumped up onto the sidewalk, and I thought, “Oh, not a real cyclist, like me.” Then I saw another cyclist with all the gear on that all my co-workers wear, and I thought, “He’s a real cyclist, not like me.” There’s lots of time to think (and pray).

My day 3 was a Friday and I’d worked a very long day. My mind and body were ready for a change of scenery and relief from the demands of work. Yet I fretted a bit that I wasn’t doing anything relationally on a Friday night. Friday night is my favorite night to socialize because it’s a release from the work week and because I’m out already. I enjoy staying out, and then on Saturday, I like staying in. But I had a lot going on over the weekend so I’d intentionally not planned anything, feeling a bit of regret. But it soon left me as I felt satisfaction for staying late to get things accomplished, relief of leaving work, and the wind in my face as I pedaled down the rode, happy to be with myself and my bike. I surprised myself as I thought, ” This is a better remedy for exhaustion than getting into my car.” 

It has its limitations for sure. I can’t run into Costco for a $4.99 roasted chicken (unless I buy a trailer and all that jazz). It limits my after work commitments and extends my commute time. Last week I was so distraught when I realized that a second bike ride to work wasn’t going to happen because of some logistics of taking things into work. There was this and there was that, getting in the way of bike commuting. But somehow on Friday morning I overcame some obstacles and got my shower in and myself on the bike by 6:15. I didn’t have a two year old in tow, but I did have to put on my make up.

This new discovery complements my life. What an inspiration my co-workers have been, faithfully showing their prowess and nurturing my curiosity to a point of action. I don’t think I’ll be a cyclist like you, but where I am feels just right. Thanks, guys (and gals)… and my good friend, Jen too.

Tomorrow’s a bike riding day!

I was so stressed over the exterior paint color decision.

Not just the color selections, but the time it took. Back and forth to the paint store, driving by houses for ideas, scouring the Internet, paint samples on the house (cleaning the brush in between each color). I am so glad it’s done. And what a relief; I love it!


These pictures could be better, but it gives you an idea. I wish I could have been more accepting and appreciative of the faded burgundy, the wooden porch with a wheel chair ramp, and the security door and window coverings on this house. I am truly grateful to God for all He provides to me. But I found myself asking Him for forgiveness, because I really disliked some aspects of the house. I am an ongoing work in progress. I love this crisp shade of white, with grey and black. It’s like Cinderella’s gown change, except it didn’t happen in the blink of an eye. The accessories on the gown still need some work, but if I wait to post until that’s done, by then the house could be ready for a new paint job.


The actual colors are Sherwin Williams:

Duck White

Mindful Grey

Tricorn Black

Speaking of new accessories, in looking at these pictures I’m reminded that I need to get new house numbers and a new doorbell.

The guys who did this were so conscientious in everything they did. I might have mentioned that I have a crush on the main guy. It’s his care and precision that caused my heart to flutter. After talking with him I would walk away and say, “I love you.” Of course I don’t love him, but I kind of love him. I’ve had a lot of people do work for me, and never has anyone been so kind and good to do work that exceeded my expectations (this excludes my friends’ husbands). I’ve had adequate workmanship, mediocre workmanship, and bad workmanship. I also had a project end before it was finished and my calls went unanswered. Only one other worker has been stellar in his work for me. It was actually a husband and wife couple. That task was difficult, but much smaller than this.

It’s a yukky place to sit when you have to ask a professional to improve on their work. That’s like asking a mom to do better at scheduling or making school lunches, or housecleaning. We do that every day, so someone pointing out that we didn’t put a piece of fruit in the lunch or we need to clean the toilet would be like, duh! But truly, I could write an entire blog on things I’ve had to address with workers. The handholding, the clean up, the things that anyone would think is part of a job, but because it wasn’t “part of the quote,” I was challenged. My guy (for lack of a better term) never put me in a position of having to point out a deficiency. He anticipated needs and proceeded to address them. When I questioned something, he wasn’t offended. He might as well have handed me his heart on a platter. He might have wrapped me in his arms and told me he loved me. I could have kissed him.

But, now he and the temptation to kiss him are gone. He was going to stain the fence when we had some dry weather forecasted and a break in his schedule. But I’ve decided that instead of paying him to stain the fence, I’m going to do it. I’d scheduled him to do this big project right after Christmas when the fence had fallen over and dry rot had been discovered on part of the house. Now it’s May and he’s slammed like all contractors. As much as I’d like him around, I’ll free him up from staining the fence. Plus, I’d decided that I can’t make a move on him because he’s probably at least 10 years younger than I am. And besides, I’d have to do research on “making a move” and I’m not up for another project; I have a fence to stain!

I’d love to share the number of the couple who did the small project. Email me if you want their name. Same for “my guy.” I just think you might have to wait awhile to get on his schedule.


I’ve mentioned before that I love to listen to audio books. It’s the best thing since sliced bread, but really better. No need for me to eat bread sliced for me to enjoy it. Productivity makes me happy and multitasking is a skill I’ve honed. Especially this time of year when I’m trying to keep up on my yard, which is looking a little amazing (I’m not saying perfect). Don’t you love the orange!!? The spring rains, lots of sun, and two years of establishment for many of the plants have blossoms exploding. I can hear them saying, “Notice me! Notice me!” I know the goodness of this season has a limited life, so I’m giving these sweet braggarts as much attention as I can.

So within the last couple of months on my walks and yard work I’ve listened to a few books that I want you to love like I do. First I want to tell you that I use two platforms. One is Audible, and the other is Overdrive which is through our public library system. Audible is great because it carries most books and when I want a book I can access it on demand. But it’s a subscription of about $14.95/month, which I think is reasonable, but it’s not an extra I can budget right now. I’ve gone back and forth in being a member when they’ve offered a promotion. I just changed my membership again to their option of $9.95/year which has very limited benefits, but it’s better than nothing. Overdrive is great because it’s free, but often books aren’t available and usually you have to put requests on hold. Once you get a book, you only have two weeks to finish it before it’s returned to the library.

Book 1: My Beloved World, by Sonia Sotomayor

The audible version that I listened to on Overdrive is narrated by Rita Moreno, who I think might be more famous than Sonia Sotomayor about whom I now know more than I do the famous Rita Moreno.

Sonia Sotomayor is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and is the first hispanic to hold this position. Growing up in the Bronx, Sonia’s family struggled to make ends meet. Her mother placed a high value on education and like a sponge, Sonia soaked up education, always thirsting for more. As a young girl she was thoughtful about her family and community, and discovered she innately wanted to contribute to what’s right and fair. The TV show Perry Mason opened her eyes to the possibiity of pursuing a career in law. Coming from a poor Puerto Rican family she took nothing for granted and seized every opportunity, while remaining loyal to her family and her culture. I loved the detail about her day to day life sharing a small apartment with extended family, the foods they would buy, the meals they would cook and the rituals they shared. From that life Justice Sotomayor found her way to Princeton and then Yale, representing the Fendi family out of law school, and then became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. I loved the book, and Rita Moreno was good, too.

Book 2: It Was Me All Along: A Memoir by Andie Mitchell

I found this book when I was desperate one night to listen to another book. I was preparing to start a big casserole and didn’t want to miss an opportunity to listen to another great book while I mindlessly diced and chopped. I wasn’t back on the Audible subscription so I was using Overdrive. I must have searched for 20 books from Oprah’s book list before I finally found one that was available. I had no idea what the book was about, but I grabbed it, figuring that if it’s good enough for Oprah, it’s good enough for me. Now I think if it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for you!

Ironically, the book I started while engaged in my sous chef activities was about food. Andie Mitchell’s memoir dates back to her young self through to her young adult life. Among Andie’s challenges is a father who is devoted when he isn’t drinking and her mother whose love language is cooking great food in mass quantities. Andie’s love language is eating the food. Through thick and thin, Andie walks us through every bite she chews and every flavor she craves with such detail that I was almost drooling. Except that her internal struggle is heartbreaking and the mood of chowing down on a cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven waned. The intensity with which she tells her story took me back to many relatables memories with my own family. Andie is sincere in exposing both her love and hate of food and herself, and we see the impact of both on her life. She narrates her story and I had to remind myself a couple of times that I was listening to a book, not a friend reliving her life with me. Although Andie thought she was defined by her eating habits, she brings much more to our world than having lived life with an eating disorder. She brings a different perspective to the subject and finds her way out as well. While I think this book has value for people who struggle with eating habits, for those who are in early stages of recovery from eating addictions, the book could be triggerig and you should consider carefully before reading it.

Book 3: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

I had no idea what “Born a Crime” could mean. I chose the book because the review told me it was a must read. I soon discovered the meaning of the title. I’m just halfway through and I love it. What’s funny to me is that I had no idea who Trevor Noah was before I began the book. In an effort to convince my son to at least listen to a book, if he’s not going to read one, I played a small sample of the book to him, sure that he would be seduced by the delivery of the sample I’d chosen. Immediately Bradley said, “Oh, Trevor Noah? That’s cool. I know him.” Bradley went on to tell me that he’s famous, everyone knows him, he’s on this show and that show, yadda yadda. Oh well, I know Trevor Noah now.

Trevor’s book is filled with color, no pun intended. I feel his energy for the life he lived as well as the misfortune, although he never complains, but paints a picture of things most of us can’t imagine. He also paints a picture of which many kids might dream, and maybe some adults, in the boldness with which he lives his life. What a treat to learn apartheid history, the social structures, the South Africa government, and more from this talented native who is faithful to his heritage but clearly adapted to American culture. It’s fun to hear his perspective on a life devoted to Jesus as required by his fiercely independent mom. I’ve known people who have gone to South Africa for missions work and I can piece their stories into this narrative and I feel like I kind of understand their experience. I agree: it’s a must listen.

Note: I don’t use Audible links because I’m not a big Amazon fan. This is my small way, even if it’s only one reader, to support Barnes and Noble. I cried when Borders went out of business!

It’s crazy the colors here this Spring in Portland, Oregon. The blooms are bursting from their buds like they’ve been holding their breath and can’t hold it another minute.

I took all of these shots (minus one) tonight on an early evening walk. There’s no getting my heart rate up with these show stoppers grabbing my attention. Are the colors really more vibrant and demanding of my attention, or is this behavior of a 58 year old???

I was so endeared to them, I named them. Maybe another sign of 58?

Arch Cape Weekend

I’ve been a little out of commission in the writing world, violating the advice I’ve been reading on the disciplines of writing. I went on a weekend Women’s retreat with a group from my church called THRIVE. I’ve mentioned this group before, commenting that at one point that was my mission: to thrive, not just survive. But then Kaiser stole it, so I backed off from proclaiming it to avoid any eye rolling when my back is turned. Thriving is still preferred over just surviving, and we definitely thrived at our retreat on the Oregon coast in Arch Cape. I haven’t been a women’s weekend gal and I’d never been to Arch Cape, but both were things I’d do again. Our group has incredibly gifted leaders who can calm a storm with a tempering word of God and send Satan’s spirits running like a bolt of lightening. We spent hours worshiping and digesting God’s word as much as we did listening and sharing with each other, without interruptions and distractions of the demands at home. The ocean spanned broad and deep, threatening, like our lives, while demonstrating God’s hand. Leaving this sanctuary for home was an adjustment for a few, and I hoped the weekend gave them respite that allowed for a new perspective and energy.

I Had a Birthday…that lasted a few days.

I had an unexpected wonderful birthday. The forecast was for rain (lots of it), it was a Monday, and I was working. At least I didn’t have a dental appointment. And it was the day after the Thrive weekend. God’s Spirit was plentiful but I was low on steam. And while I don’t detest my birthday, as I age I’m not a fan of it either. It’s not so much that I mind adding rings to my tree, but I fret about running out of time. Time to do so many things that I haven’t done. Things to do with ministry, writing, vacations with my kids, or finishing my daughter’s high school graduation gift: a photo journal of her life.

So, I wasn’t giving my birthday a lot of thought, yet there was a bit of a skip in my step when I left for work. I figured that the day would be mostly uneventful. Both of my kids were away at school, so I knew they wouldn’t be celebrating with me. I’d made plans with a friend to have dinner that night, and I’d hoped my heart would be content with that. But almost immediately surprises of birthday wishes, cards, and small gifts greeted me when I arrived to work. First of all, Bradley called and sang Happy Birthday to me. Then I was met with one of our family home made boxed chocolate cakes with canned frosting that we’ve been eating for our birthdays since the kids’ first birthdays. Bridgette had made it and brought it in the Friday before.

Tradition: Boxed chocolate cake with canned frosting.

A friend surprised me with another birthday cake, and throughout the day I received enough food to meet our staff calorie requirements for a couple of days. When I got home that night there was more love left for me at the door step and another friend came over briefly. It was wonderful and exhausting, and not once did I consider my age, what was missing in my life, or the possibility that I’m running out of time to accomplish some goals.

So in the end, thank you to my friends; fifty eight is great.


Such a Good Man

Last week-end I attended the memorial service of a good man. He was the dad of a dear friend, who is also a good woman. But this post isn’t about her. Yet her good dad produced many good things, and she (and her sister) are two of those good things.

Being good sounds like it might be easy because being great seems like a higher achievement. Like being good is where you are while you inch your way up (or catapult for some) to being great. But it’s not easy to be good, because the person who is good usually doesn’t set out to be good, and that’s what’s great. They make sacrifices, they take the higher road, and they humble themselves even when they’re right. Those basic acts prove to be the most difficult for most of us; they distinguish one person from the next. A person who sets out to be great emphasizes his own needs over others, which often gets in the way of being good, and that’s not so great.

Jerry wasn’t on a mission or inching himself up to achieve greatness. He went to work every day where his customers could count on his shoot it straight fashion advice. Like clockwork, his girls looked out their bay window as their eyes searched the road, anticipating his car driving toward home. On Halloweens he made costumes that surpassed his young girls’ expectations and trick or treaters returned each October to Cherryhill Drive for the man who made them giggle. He made biscuits and took them to the neighbors, and he created patterns in his lawn when he mowed, not to be great, but because he gave everything his best effort.

What else rounds off a good man? A sense of humor. He passed that on to his daughters, but my dear friend in particular can make anyone laugh, including at her daddy’s memorial service. Contrary to what most people know, Hollywood didn’t invent the red nose day, my friend did. However, no “day” is needed for her to don her red nose anywhere and anytime she’s inspired. I half expected it at the service.

Jerry was such a good man. There’s nothing greater than that.

Painting my House

Not quite there.

Have you done this? Have you searched the paint stores, the Internet, Pinterest, the home décor magazines for the right paint colors and combinations for your exterior house color? Have you driven slowly past homes taking pictures, probably mistaken for a private eye, or worse, a potential burglar? Have you painted samples on your house, thinking you’ve got the right color, then painted it on another portion of your house to discover you like it in one light, but not another? Then to decide you really do like it after all, or maybe, you still don’t? Then, which colors will best camouflage the dents in the gutters: light or dark?

This project has kept me up and kept me from doing things like, well, writing. It’s expensive and I’ll have to live with it for a very long time. Choosing a wedding dress is easier than this! Last week my painter informed me that there was a window of dry weather forecasted so we’d need to pick the colors so he could get the paint. After I aborted my weekend plans (kind of), and multiple trips to the paint store, I set to trying samples on the house that might have passed for a patchwork SOS from high up into sky. I was finally able to find peace with a decision. I was so grateful for the input of a friend who I trust with these kinds of things.

On Thursday the base color got painted and some of the trim. I like the color, but I still have some decisions to make. I’ve decided the trim is like the accessories of an outfit; it can make or break the curb appeal of my house with one wrong stroke. I came home from work and started working on the garage paint decisions, trying every combination. I don’t want an obnoxiously loud contrast, but I’d like a bold contrast. Oh my goodness, how can this be so difficult?!

I was hoping to post a solid before and after picture, but this thing is still in the works so you just get a before and middle picture. An “after” is a little ways out because our record breaking sun has turned to April showers.

The good news about this? My contractor isn’t leaving me quite yet, which makes me happy. My crush (have I mentioned this?) hasn’t waned .

I’ll keep you posted (on the painting).