All suited up and ready to ride
What’s the perfect outing for someone who has a mild anxiety about heights? Zip lining of course.
My friend Shirley decided she was going to celebrate her 70-somethingth birthday with something new and exciting. She sent out the zip lining adventure invitation to all of her friends. I am the only who was one crazy enough to join her.
BTW: the coordinating outfits were strictly coincidental.
First stop, Wildflour Bread where we rendezvoused with our adventure leader, Tom and the rest of the crazy people who signed up for this zip trip. If you have ever needed an excuse for a trip to Sebastapol, this place is it. Not for anyone on a diet or the gluten intolerant.
After Tom managed to get everyone organized we headed off down the road to Sonoma Canopy Tours for the main event. Waivers signed and groups assigned, we loaded into the truck and headed up the hill to meet our fate.
Harnesses, gloves and helmets are fitted, then it’s on to the training area. The most important lesson is braking (keep your hand flat and press down on the wire). The hardest part for me, stepping up on the stump to get hooked onto the wire. The first, low altitude training zip went fine.
Then it was up into the trees. And through the trees and by the trees and over the trees. I have a whole new appreciation for “over the river and through the woods”. The first zip line was slow and easy although that wasn’t how it felt at the time. The next a little more of a thrill. The 4th one, maybe 5th was F A S T – whoooo hoo! Then there was a long easy ride but in order to make it all the way to the next platform you have to tuck up your legs and cannonball. Failure to tuck enough results in a long hand over hand into the landing zone. I have enough mass and a good enough tuck that I made it with zip to spare. Another short zip and then a spiral staircase leading to a rope bridge to gain some elevation and the final zip. It seemed to end just as I was the hang of it and could relax on the wire.
Like all good routines, the dismount had a certain zip of it’s own. No easy walk down a flight of stairs. Oh no! We got to lower ourselves (not really rappelling but close enough for me). The expression on Shirley’s face sums up the first moments pretty well. Swinging out to start down was scarier than anything else we’d done.
Mounting and landing on the stump remained the biggest challenge for me. Gimpy knees, thanks to the dog. Ten people huddled on a small platform mounted way the hell up in a tree was a little disconcerting but the population was constantly changing as we hooked on and flew off to the next tree. A brief threat of vertigo while waiting on one of the more flexible trees was overcome by becoming an ardent tree hugger. Once it passed and I picked the bark out of my ears I was fine.
If you want to try it (and I recommend you do, at least once) check out this group: Backroads Wine and Nature Adventures. The organizer, Tom Bold, does an awesome job.
Shirley tells me we’re going sky diving for my birthday. We’ll see.
Bye bye birdies, and cows, and bears and all the other critters
I decided it was time to make a few changes. So, not being one to do things by halves, I dropped a bomb into my life and changed almost everything. All at once.
It has been a mad couple of months. First I tried to sell one of my businesses. When that didn’t work I found someone else in a similar business and convinced him it would be a great idea if he rented a storage unit and took all of my inventory. I forwarded the phone to him, directed the email to him and will be transferring the website to him. One business down.
The sign business had been pretty slow so closing it down seemed pretty easy. One big double panel sign to finish and a boat to letter and all orders would be done. Now I’m trying to figure out how to continue doing some of the work without having a shop to do it in. If you know anyone in the Vallejo area who does a little wood working on the side I’d love an introduction.
It took from just after Christmas until February 1 to find a new place to live. One with low enough rent that would take a big dog. During that time I became an expert on identifying Craigslist rental scam ads. A little something new for the resume. Turns out if you have a big dog and want to stay close to Oakland you’re going to have to buy a house or find your rental in Vallejo, Fairfield or Antioch. Buying wasn’t an option. Fairfield is too far and Antioch is too hot. So we are in Vallejo
We spent the first night in the new place on February 9th. Today is April 16 and I still have a couple of boxes in the van that need to be brought in and unpacked. Obviously nothing critical for day to day survival. Maybe if I let it all marinate a little longer I can unload them directly into the dumpster.
I hauled stuff from Oakland to Vallejo almost every day from February 1st until well into March. The spousal unit stayed in Vallejo sorting, organizing and unpacking what he could. A dear friend (I had no idea how dear until this move) did all the heavy lifting and then spend untold hours dealing with the mountains of stuff we left behind. If it wasn’t for him I’d still be hauling loads instead of just storing the last one in the van. (Thank you Terry. It will take an ocean of wine to repay you.)
We’re home now, happy and mostly settled in. New adventures are in store and some not-so-old adventures to share now that I’m back to the keyboard.
Didn't have a picture of a washer so I'm using a picture of my cat
If you’re a regular reader of my irregular ramblings you will remember the washing machine repairs undertaken last December. If not, you can read about it here. As predicted, the problem resurfaced just a few days ago.
The machine had been working great, mainly because my husband was doing the laundry. Then I decided to wash a bathroom rug. Company was coming and I was deep into cleaning mode.
In to the machine went the rug and another item to help balance things out. All seemed fine at first, then came the spin cycle and the banging brought me running. Flinging open the lid I found the tub laid over like a discarded top and a soggy rug heaped at the bottom. No clean rug today.
This time we replaced the shock mounts. The new ones addressed the design flaw with a carefully placed fastener. The rug is clean and I’m almost brave enough to try washing the other one.
Then again, machines have been giving me trouble lately so maybe I’ll just let Armand take care of the laundry.
Midnight Mind Chatter
The TV game show Jeopardy is advertising the latest on-line test to become a contestant. It’s coming up on March 28. My husband has been urging me to register and I’ve been “forgetting”. Last night I figured out why.
It’s not that I was concerned about failing the test. It’s that I was scared I might pass and get selected as a contestant. The mental chatter was all about how much I don’t know, how many categories I am weak in, how my high school avoidance of all things geography has come back to haunt me, an almost endless list of my data bank deficiencies. What I wasn’t paying any attention to was the 60%+ of the answers questions I do know.
What prompted me to register today was remembering something I read several weeks ago, and that changed my whole perspective. An article published on the Harvard Business Review blog pointed out a tendency for women to “round down” our accomplishments.
(W)e’ve long been taught that a 0.5 gets rounded up to 1. And even when we feel 70%, 80% or 90% qualified for a job, we’d never be so bold as to round ourselves up to 100%. We look at that margin of error and assume the worst, not the best. But rational math actually tells us that we should be rounding up in that scenario.
So this morning I rounded up and registered. In the immortal words of Jennifer Tilly in the movie Let It Ride, “Nothing ventured, nothing ventured.” (You’ll find it at the 5:30 point in this YouTube video).
Not so tiny
Not quite “Build it and they will come” but the best I can do on this Saturday morning.
If you read back in my posts you’ll encounter a number of articles about play and at least one where I express my ambition to speak and teach on the subject. That part was easy, writing about it. The standing up and actually doing it, not so much. However as more than one wise person has said, if you actually commit to a date and get on someone’s schedule to speak, you pretty much have to go through with it.
So I did. I committed to speak at the March 22nd April 5 Successful Thinkers Network meeting in Alameda. The date is still about 19 days in the future and the dry-mouth, shaky-hands, roiling-stomach part of the process hasn’t begun – yet.
I am fully occupied (distracted is a more accurate term) with writing content, getting opinions about content, rewriting content, distracting myself from writing content, avoiding writing content, changing my mind about content, and trying to read my notes about content. So far I’m not content with my content but I’m getting close.
What I’m sure of is there will be toys and, hopefully, laughter. What I want the audience to leave with is the understanding that attaining success isn’t the way to achieve happiness. Play helps lead to happiness and being happy is a key to achieving success. Pretty cool, huh?
Edited 3/15: I was a little over eager when I told you all that the date was 3/22. At that time it was actually 3/29. Whew! I really needed the extra week. Since then it’s been bumped to 4/5 to make room for a special speaker who will only be around for a few days. It’s the head guy’s father so it’s good manners to yield, right? Since I am a master procrastinator this threatens to bring my work on the whole thing to a screeching halt. To counteract this tendency I’m going to present the talk at my Womens Business Exchange meeting on 3/22. Which means I lost that extra week. Eek – back to work!
Who you gonna call?
Last year we bought a washer-dryer unit. One of those skinny, dryer-stacked-on-top, units to replace one we’d been using since Atlantis was a super power. Funds were short but laundry will not be ignored. A Craigslist search and several phone calls brought us the new (to us) unit in just a few hours.
It washed and dried just like it was supposed to but the wash cycle was NOISY. Soon the basket was out of center and the banging during the spin cycle threatened to bring down the building. Thanks to the 6-month warranty, repairs were made and the noise returned to a more acceptable jack hammer level.
Two days ago the whole thing threw itself cockeyed again. Between not being able to find the receipt with the phone number, and being pretty sure the warranty had long ago expired, we were facing either a repair bill or a new machine. Neither one of these options agree with my financial plans.
So now what? Thank you Al Gore for inventing the internet. I found a service manual on line and discovered that with the removal of just a few fasteners, we could have the whole guts of the machine out and available for inspection. And that’s exactly what we did yesterday.
First thing in the morning. First thing after coffee, breakfast and the crossword puzzles, apart came the machine. My master mechanic husband determined which parts were defective. I found a local supplier with the parts in stock. Repair was within reach.
But first I had a networking event to attend. My plans were to attend the Successful Thinkers event in Alameda, head up to Montclair to deposit a check, than down the highway to pick up the parts.
I’d completed step one and step two and was on the freeway, about 4 miles away from the parts distributor when my cellphone rang. It was Armand telling me not to buy the parts, “We don’t need them.”
I arrived home to find the machine guts upside down in the living room and a triumphantly smiling man putting the finishing touches on the shock mounts. They had shaken themselves apart and all that was required was to screw them back together again.
Reassembly of the machine commenced and after the inevitable putting it together, then taking it apart again to fix something that fell off, then putting it back together, then pulling the machine out to pick up the tool that fell behind it, then pushing it back in to place, we loaded it up with the towels used to sop up all the water spilled when we turned the tub upside down, and started it up. Water flowed, the tub filled and . . . nothing happened.
It was about 5pm by then and I was done for the day. The towels were going to have to soak overnight. There was no way I was going to extract another screw or remove another panel that night. It had to be one of the two electrical connections but they are carefully tucked away behind those screwed in panels so it had to wait.
Bright and early this morning (after coffee, breakfast and the crossword puzzles) we broke out the sockets, ratchets and screwdrivers. Had the panels off in record time (practice has its rewards). Checked the electrical connection at the motor and found it not quite in position. A quick unplug, replug then back on went the panels, back in when the screws. The towels started to agitate and there was celebration and congratulations all around
A little later Armand had to go check on the machine because he couldn’t hear it running. That’s because it runs so smoothly and so quietly that even with the laundry room door open it’s hard to detect any noise. It has never run this well.
There is a real likelihood that the original problem will recur (a design flaw) but we know how to fix it now, and how to do it much faster and easier.
The latest story from Diane:
“So I go to play a local course late one afternoon. I’d be lucky if I could finish nine. This kind faced older gentleman comes over to me with this great big smile, puts his hand on my shoulder and says to whoever is in ear shot. ” This is one famous lady. They’re making a movie about her”. To say I was stunned is a gross understatement. Is he all there? Is it possible this is a case of mistaken identity? Who does he think I am?
Well later after playing, I saw him again and told him I was not who he thought I was. He was so surprised. He said, “You look just like her, the coach from MTSU”. So I asked him her name, but he couldn’t remember.
The next time I saw him I asked again, and he said his son who works in the pro shop knows her name. His son said Starks, Miss Starks.
The older gentleman said “Yup you look just like her.”
Well I finally had a chance to look up Miss Starks. I am sending the article I found. Boy was I ever surprised.
You never know…..
Diane's Look-Alike Dr. Catana Starks
Dr. Catana Starks. Read about her here. No surprise that Diane’s story happened on a Tennessee golf course.
Hands full in South Beach
I’m spending this week in Miami – lucky me. The photo was taken in South Beach – just as glamorous as it is on TV. The drinks are three times as big as they appear in the photo. Enough to fill large to go containers and then we had left overs at the golf course the next day. Waste not; want not.
Nashville to Sheboygan Falls
I arrived in Nashville Fri before last. Spent the night and drove to Atlanta to see my friend Gwen’s granddaughter who’s attending medical school there.
My traveling buddies flew home on Monday and I had Tuesday to prepare to fly to Wisconsin.
I love it here in Wisconsin. Last year I spent a weekend and vowed to spend more time on my next visit. So, lucky me, I got to be here a whole week.
Why Wisconsin? The Shivas Irons Society has an annual event called the Seamus Mc Duff Fall Finale here and it is coupled with a board meeting. The Society was founded based upon a book called Golf In The Kingdom written by Michael Murphy who is also the founder of Esalen.
I’m staying in Sheboygan Falls which is a hop skip and jump away from Kohler. Herb Kohler the sink, toilet, faucet guy founded this beautiful well planned village. In case you don’t know, he also owns St. Andrews , The Home Of Golf in Scotland as well as Whistling Straits here in Kohler.
Quit Qui Oc Golf Course, Wisconsin
One of my fellow Shivas members is on the board of the Kohler Arts Center and we’ll be having lunch at the museum cafe after which I get to experience the exhibits. Ah yes indeed. Lucky me.
I played golf last week at a place called Quit Qui Oc which is a combination French and Indian name meaning a crooked place in the river. It is so beautiful!!
I apologize that I cannot send photos at this time. I’m still in tech jail. But not for long I’m going to take a course.
Today’s report from the road came in shortly before 1:00pm this afternoon. Our travelers left Hot Springs AK, drove through Memphis TN and headed for Tunica MS.
Why Tunica you might ask? Apparently Tunica’s claims to fame are the casinos. Huge casinos. Huge casinos out in the middle of the cotton and soy bean fields. According the the Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau, the nine world-class casino hotels provide “the best gaming, sensational dining and the hottest live entertainment between Atlantic City and Las Vegas”. Who knew?
After Tunica, Diane and her merry band of sidekicks headed toward Nashville. By the time they arrived in area it was too late to stop at Diane’s sister’s place so they decided that they might as well see another state. At the time of this report they are in Bowling Green KY.
After a very late night, Diane rose early to play golf. She found a regulation course and played 9 glorious holes. She says the golf gods were smiling upon her. Even her misses were excellent and she closed out the round with a score of 39. I could almost see her smile through the phone lines.
Day 7 - Bowling Green KY