Monday, April 7, 2014

Sweet Smells of Springtime in Seattle

This morning on my way to the gym I rolled my window down just a bit (too see out better). And there was that beautiful scent of April in Seattle. It brought me back to 26 years ago this month when I moved with my new husband and my two kids from Utah to Kent, Washington.

We got married in January of that year, but Wally was working out of town. It was April before he could come get me and the kids and we road tripped it with my car fully loaded and Wally's small truck pulling a small U-Haul trailer. If it didn't fit it was left behind. There were really only a few items that I felt bad about leaving behind.

I even brought house plants with me. My children at the time were 7 1/2 and 5. Wayne wasn't even in school yet.

Here's the interesting thing. I had never been to Washington state before that day we moved here. On our trip from Utah we spent the night with my parents in Boise.

We drove through Oregon and Washington and as we were driving west on I-90 my first thoughts were that there was no big city here. We were moving into the woods, big trees everywhere! I was briefly panicked by that thought.
Then we arrived to our apartment in Kent. At the time Wally selected Kent because it's school district had high ratings in the nation.

When we got out of the car, the first thing that hit me was that wonderful fresh, rainy spring scent in the air. I vividly remember that to this day, 26 years later.

Six months in an apartment then we moved into our home, getting the keys on Wally's birthday in October. I was 31 years old and it was my very first house. And we're still here. What started out as a great little starter home, served us well with 2 kids and is now the perfect size for retirement.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Whole Lotta Floating Going On!

Today was my fourth float at U-Float. My first float was February 15th on a Saturday afternoon. It was full of all sorts of emotions.

My second float was on March 7th. It was on a Friday evening. I came home from work, fed Wally dinner, then went to U-Float.

When I finished my second float I told Phil it was 300 times better than my first float. There were lights, there were words, there was relaxation which extended beyond the float.

My third float was also a Friday night. It was two weeks later on March 21st. This time I drove straight from the office, which is a bit of a drive. I got there right at my appointment time so I felt rushed. But I still managed to enjoy the float. I had a very different experience then with my 2nd float.

When I began 3rd float I felt like I was rotating in a circle. I can't remember if it was clockwise or counterclockwise. This went on for a few minutes. Of course there is no time in the tank. Five minutes could be 30 minutes. I felt like I went into a very deep sleep. I don't have much recollection of thoughts while in the tank.

When the piano music softly came on to let me know my hour was up I felt a little disoriented. I had a hard time figuring out how to open the door to get out. But at the same time I wasn't panicked at all. I like the feel of the water. It feels like I belong there. After my first float the darkness no longer bothers me. Not just in the tank but other places too.
Between my 3rd and 4th float I traveled out of town to visit family. I slept really well on air mattresses for four nights. I even monitored my sleep with my FitBit so I know I had less disturbances than when I sleep at home. I found that unusual.

After I came home from vacation on a Sunday evening, during the week I just felt like I needed to be in water. Like I craved the feel of it. On one of my regular gym days before work I shortened my work out and spent some time in the pool at the gym. I swam, I floated, I walked in the water.

Today was my 4th float. It was the first time I was able to get on the schedule for a Saturday morning float. My appointment was for 9:00 am. I woke about 7:30 did some things around the house then went to Auburn.

Getting in and closing the door is getting very easy for me now. I try to keep my mind clear and I use relaxation techniques like counting backwards from 10 to go into a deeper relaxation. It was a very relaxing float. When the piano music came on I kept my eyes shut a little longer. Than I stretched, rolled onto my stomach for a couple of minutes then I got out.

There was a little heater in the room which probably didn't need to be turned on, but it was on, so it made it feel like my towel was heated after my shower.

When I got out of the tank I viewed an art book that a Portland float business put together. They gave artists two sessions in the tank then asked them to create some art. It was then put together into a book. It's very cool to look at, and there are photos which I can totally relate to.

I also mentioned to Phil, that I tried hard to not think of things while in the tank, his response to me was priceless. He said, "trying not to think of anything is thinking of something." Point taken.

I have done my initial session, I have used up my 3 pack of prepaid gift certificates. They have now raised their prices to the regular rates. I'm thinking I will continue this journey going once every 3 or 4 weeks.If you are reading this and are the least bit interested in trying it I highly recommend it. Some advice I would give for first time floaters: take flip flops for getting out of the tank and in the shower, before getting into the tank after showering be sure and dry off your face. Otherwise water runs down your face and you have salt water hands, not good. Prop the door open if the darkness and small area disturb you. Go into the darkness gradually, you'll get comfortable with it.

I highly recommend this book, I'm still reading through it. Phil commented that it was even better the second time he read it.

Here is the book with the art:

Sunny St. George, Utah Trip Part 2

After spending a couple of days with my sisters, on Saturday morning my daughter picked me up in Springville for our road trip to St. George in Southern Utah where my son and his family live.

It was a beautiful sunny day. We passed the time in the car by browsing through a AAA NYC tour book. Natalie and I are planning a trip there in August.

When we arrived in St. George we first went to visit another Aunt. My Aunt VeLois. She is the youngest in my Dad's family. She is 85 years old and lives in a lovely home in Santa Clara. We had a nice visit with her.

After our visit we then headed across the valley to Washington, Utah to what is referred to as "the fields". We arrived and were greeted by two adorable little girls outside waiting for us. Natalie and I walked down the street with them to their grade school and spent a little time on the playground.

Avea who just turned 6!

Did I mention it was very sunny? With Avea and Annelise.

Aunt Natalie with Avea.
There was also some trampoline time. It's been years since I was on a trampoline and I thought I did pretty good. Unfortunately the only photo is when I had stopped jumping.

We then went out to dinner to celebrate Avea's 6th birthday. She had picked the restaurant because she liked the sound of it, Sakura. It's a Japanese steak house and sushi. We sat up at the grill and were greatly entertained as our chef cooked our rice, noodles, chicken, steak and shrimp. Wayne had sushi and I tasted my first spring roll and a salmon piece. It was okay. I didn't gag.  The chef delighted the girls with the fire and flipping shrimp into our mouths.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, they brought out a piece of cheesecake with a Japanese flowering candle on it for Avea. Her expression was priceless.

We then went home and relaxed for a bit and then Andrea's parents came over for ice cream and cake. Earlier Avea had opened up one present and Annelise also got to open up one early birthday present I had brought her. They were both thrilled with their small quilts I had made them.

Big sister got pretty excited too!
We spent the night and in the morning we were treated to French toast and sausage. We took some photos then we had to hit the freeway.

We left in quite a dust storm which caused large tumble weeds to breeze across the highway. We had a 4 1/2 hour drive to get me to the SLC airport. We had wind, rain and then snow. At the airport they had to de-ice the wings before we could take off. For my 2 hour flight home I was entertained by the woman sitting in the middle seat who started the conversation off by saying, "sorry if I'm talking too much but I had some drinks before getting on the plane." It was an interesting flight.
The quilt on the far right is for my new baby grand daughter who will be joining the family in July. (This picture is before the binding was put on the quilts.)

It was a very wonderful trip to Utah. It was so great to spend time with so much family.

We Are Family, I Got All My Sisters With Me!

Here is a photo from 2004. Ten years ago. Nancy's husband had passed away one year earlier. And our mother passed away in February of 2004.

Trudy, Becky, Nancy and Sue

Fast forward 10 years, we're just getting better with age!

Trudy, Nancy, Becky, Sue

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sister's Spring Break - Utah 2014

This might be part 1 of 2 if I get carried away. This is an annual tradition my sisters and I do every spring. Except for last year when I ended up going by myself due to schedule issues. One of my sisters lives in Springville, Utah. My other two sisters and one brother live in Idaho. I'm in Washington state. And somehow after having been born in Utah but raised in Washington, both of my children now reside in Utah.

Years ago we started making an annual spring trip where the four of us sisters would all gather in Springville.

This year I flew out on a Wednesday and Natalie picked me up at the airport at 10 am. It was lightly raining in Salt Lake. We had a delightful lunch at Gourmandise on 3rd East. I'm pretty sure it's in the same location as a very famous Italian restaurant that was there in the 1970s. They were famous for their multiple course dinners. It was a great date spot. For the life of me I can't remember the name of it though. Gourmandise has great food and a fantastic bakery.

Then Natalie dropped me off at City Creek, where I walked around and did some minor shopping. City Creek is very pretty with lots of stores. It was still raining and I walked from City Creek over to the Joseph Smith building, formerly the Hotel Utah. There was a woman playing on the piano on the main floor. I walked up the stairs to the mezzanine where a bride and groom where having photographs taken. I just sat for a few minutes and remembered the grand hotel back in the 1970s when I was in SCL going to college.

View of South Temple from City Creek

I then walked over to Temple Square. I forgot how beautiful the flowers are in the springtime. It was incredible. I took a lot of photos.

Then my cousin Russell picked me up and we met Susan and Becky in Bountiful at my aunt's place. My Dad was the oldest of 7 children. Three of his siblings are still living. They are 85, 90 and 95. On this trip I got to visit Aunt Margaret who is 90 and Aunt VeLois who is 85. Two more cousins came over for a visit. It was fun visiting and sharing family photos and stories.

Visiting with Aunt Margaret and her daughters Jill and Dana.

We left Bountiful and met Scott and Natalie for dinner at Thai Siam in Draper. There were 6 of us at dinner. We had a nice visit. From the restaurant I then drove with Sue and Becky to Springville to Nancy's home. We encountered more rain and possibly light snow flurries.

The next couple of days were spent, cleaning, visiting, eating, watching movies, visiting, sleeping on air mattresses on the floor and just having a wonderful time hanging out together.

View from Springville grocery store parking lot.

We watched lots of Hallmark channel movies, Austenland and Frozen. There was caramel corn, Girl Scout cookies and creamies.

On Saturday morning Natalie picked me up and we grabbed some breakfast at Del Taco with my nephew Scott and then we headed to St. George to spend time with Wayne and his family.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I Float

Yes, I do. And today I floated in a sensory deprivation float tank with 10 inches of salt water. It was my first experience. A friend had recently done it and enjoyed it. I did my research and was ready to give it a try.

I made my reservation and payment on line. Today I showed up 15 minutes before my scheduled time. Phil showed me to room 2. The room was pretty good size, rectangle shaped. There was a bench, a shower in the corner of the room and there was the tank. The door of the tank was closed.

His instructions were to put on the ear plugs first to get used to them, shower and then climb into the tank. The light in the room was motion activated and would turn off once I had the tank door closed. Outside the tank was provided towel, wash cloth, spray bottle of fresh water in case I need to get salt water out of my eyes and a short water noodle. He said the water noodle can be put under your neck while floating to relief the weight/tension. There was also shampoo, conditioner and body wash in the shower.

My only question to him was, "is there a light in the tank?" to which he replied "no". While he was in the room with me we did not open the tank to look inside. He did however shoe me the ambient (rope) lighting on the edge of the shower floor.

He left, I locked the door, undressed, put in my ear plugs and took a shower and washed my hair. It was then time for me to open the hatch. The door is quite large and opens over to one side. Looking inside the tank I see only blackness. At the foot of the tank are a few PVC pipes. Oh, Phil also told me that since it was my first time I would probably want to put my head towards the end of the tank closet to the door. I thought that was only reasonable.

The next 10 minutes are what I can only describe as an I Love Lucy episode. The door is open and all I have to do is step inside, lay down and close the door. Sounds easy, right? Not so easy. I step in through the opening and I'm trying to sit down to get into position when my legs start floating and next thing you know I am grabbing onto the opening to hold on. I haven't even attempted to close the lid yet.

The one thing no one told me and I never read in my research is what Epsom salt feels like in water. It's best described as gel like. And it was kind of slippery. So there I am hanging on to the side. I reach down and bring the noodle into the tank with me and I close the door.

And I lay down. And my entire body floats. And then I immediately reach up in the darkness and try to find the door. I hang on to the door handle for a very short time. Then somehow I get salt in my right eye. So I open the door and blot my eye with the wash cloth I had put fresh water on, just in case. To reach the wash cloth I once again have to hang on to the side and reach over.

I then close the lid, but this time I put the noodle in the corner of it and it gives me a couple of inches of light since the light in the room was still on. I lay there floating trying to figure out what exactly it is that scares me about the dark tank. It wasn't so much the darkness or the feeling that maybe the tank was just too big. For a moment I was thinking it would be better if there wasn't so much room to drift around in. I was worried I would float around and get disoriented and not be able to find the door to get out.

But the biggest fear in the tank was, what if I couldn't breathe? Once I figured out that was my problem, I focused on breathing. After another drop of salt water in my eye and the wet wash cloth, I then closed the lid.

And I kept breathing. I relaxed my body. I couldn't feel my legs, it was as if they weren't there unless I wiggled my foot. I tried my arms by my sides and the water made my elbows raise up to my shoulders and that felt weird. So I tossed my arms up over my head.

I could feel my hair all splayed out on the water and imagined myself a mermaid. I had the noodle under my neck for a little bit. Then removed it and my head sank a little more into the water. The water never went over my face, it barely covered over my hair line around my face.

As I floated I was trying to remember how I was feeling so I could record it. I had no sense of time. I was to spend 60 minutes in there. I thought to myself, am I supposed to try to fall asleep, or am I sleeping already? Then my breathing would get very slow and I would take deep breaths.

The tank was a very comfortable temperature. My skin wasn't cold at all. If I moved a foot or an arm, it would shift my entire body. Sometimes I would feel the pipe at the end of the tank. Sometimes it felt like I drifted off to one side. At one point I did a foot jerk, that thing you do when you are sleeping. But I didn't think I was sleeping, but maybe I was.

I had no aches or pains while in the water. Sometimes I felt like I was just laying on the bottom of the tank, but I wasn't. A couple of times I would put my hand underneath my back to feel the gap of water between my back and the bottom of the tank.

I resisted rolling over to float on my stomach which I kind of really wanted to do, but I don't know what I would do with my face, trying to keep it out of the water. Let me say, salt water in your eyes does not feel good.

When the 60 minutes was up, as Phil said would happen, piano music starts playing in the tank, it gradually gets louder and louder. I found the lid and pushed it open. It takes a bit of effort to open it all the way off to the side. Then as I stepped out I realized I probably should have had the plastic mat to step on since I was a little slimy and the floor a little slippery. I was going to bring my flip flops but forgot them. That would have helped.

After getting out I closed the lid and hit the shower one more time. But not before glancing at my face once in the mirror to see the dried salt on my cheeks.

After getting dressed I went out to the front area of the spa and just sat for a few minutes and relayed my experience to Phil. I think he was a little surprised when I told him I did manage to close the lid.

I'm glad I have my first float over with. I think I will be able to immensely enjoy it more the second time. And even though I wore ear plugs, my ears still have a little moisture in them.

The say a lot of the benefits of floating are felt later, after the float. I'm hoping I sleep really well tonight. I can already visualize though when I lay down I'm going to be seeing that black tank and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Here is the place I went to:

Added 2/17/14. The last two nights have been some of the best sleep I've had. And during a windstorm too. Here is a paragraph from UFloat's website, This is what I experienced.
 Can I fall asleep in the tank?

Yes and falling asleep is encouraged, as you will find that one hour of sleep in the tank is equal to about 4 hours of rest. Since you are very buoyant in the water, your body and spine are supported better than any mattress. Because you are lying in water and not on a bed, there are no pressure points on your body which allows blood to circulate freely throughout your body. The interesting thing about the float experience and level of relaxation that can be achieved, is that a lot of people aren't sure if they fell asleep or not during their float because it puts our brain in the Theta state that is experienced between being awake and sleeping, even if you do not actually fall asleep.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Epic 27 Hours in Portland, Oregon

Friday, December 27th
Arrive in historic downtown Portland from Kent at 2:15 p.m. We are to meet Scott and Natalie nearby at 3:00 p.m. We park the car, easy street parking, pay the meter and walk to the riverfront. It's December, it's low 40s outside. We go back in the car and wait. I watch the people carrying their pink bakery boxes across the street. I then look up the address and realize we are two blocks from Voodoo Doughnuts. That was on our list of things to do on Saturday.

Natalie and Scott arrive early. We put their luggage in the trunk and walk over to take our place in line for doughnuts. I have had Voodoo Doughnuts once before when my son Wayne brought us home a box. We stood outside in line for about 20 minutes, then it was our turn to enter. Once inside there was still a small line. We carefully selected one dozen donuts and a key ring. The dozen included flavors such as maple bars with bacon, Mexican chocolate cake donut, Arnold Palmer and various chocolate iced variations.

We enjoyed doughnuts in the car as we drove to our hotel in the Nob Hill district of Portland. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express which offered free parking. It was a nice hotel.

4:50 p.m.
We leave the hotel to meet Scott's family for dinner at Kell's Brew Pub. Which according to my GPS system would take us about 8 minutes to get there for our 5:00 p.m. dinner reservations. As we approached a nearby intersection we had a split second to make the decision of going straight or turning right. We made the turn which we then discovered, just circled us back around to where we should have been to go straight.

It also took us to a train track right as the flashing lights came on. The bar was slow to lower and I was tempted, but I had passengers with me and I wanted to see them another Christmas. So I stopped and waited for the train. And waited some more. Then we saw the train. And then we waited while it slowly inched down the tracks. It was the longest freight train I have ever experienced in my life of driving.

And then it stopped on the tracks. And then it crept slowly. Then a lady got out of her car to go see if there was an end in sight. And the train just kept on creeping down the tracks. Scott contacted his family who by now were seated at the restaurant to inform them we would be late.

After approximately 25 minutes of train watching we were then blessed to move across the tracks and on our way to dinner. I might also add I was the first car at the track and there was a center barrier which made it difficult to simply turn around and find another route.

Dinner was very, very good. There were 9 of us. It was fun to visit with Scott's parents, sister and nieces. For 9 people we actually only ordered 3 different menu items plus appetizers. I would highly recommend their Irish Nachos. They are kind of like extremely loaded potato skins. For dinner I had a sausage roll over mashed potatoes with a glaze sauce. Others also had that as well as fish and chips and shepherd pie. I can't wait to go back there. I guess we have a Kell's in Seattle at Pike Place. I'll be sure to go there sometime.

From there we headed back to the hotel where in the process of making a "hard left" turn as instructed by Scott in the back seat, I proceeded to run a red light as announced loudly by Natalie, also in the back seat. Luckily the drivers in town were very patient, they honked but no one had jumped the green light so we were safe and protected.

There was one brief moment after hearing Natalie shout, "red light" where I looked out my driver's side window and saw nothing but headlights. What they saw in my face, I will never know.

We decided to drive around in the Nob Hill area which was very fun. The trees on NW23rd all had lights on them, restaurants were open and shop windows were decorated. We then drove up to Pittock Mansion. Natalie and Scott had toured it earlier in the day. At night time, the drive was interesting, it was very dark. We got up to the driveway of the house and then drove back down the hill. But I can say I've been there now.

Saturday, December 28th
9:00 a.m. we were meeting to go down the street for breakfast. We arrived about 9:30 to put our name in at Besaw's. We were told about a 25 minute wait. We walked around the neighborhood a little bit. Then found Wally a warm seat to wait inside. We waited one hour to get our table. The food was delicious. And I learned about pullman Brioche. Pullman is the style of pan it's baked in so the top stays flat. I will be buying me one of those loaf pans.

Their breakfast potatoes are made with rosemary. I had Croque Madam which is thin sliced ham in-between slices of Brioche with a gruyere sauce served with eggs on top of it. With the potatoes. Very good.

From there we went to Salt and Straw. It's an ice cream parlor in a really old movie theatre building. Cute little place. I know ice cream after breakfast is not the norm. However, we knew we wouldn't be back in that area so Natalie and I indulged. It was very good.

From there we thought we might drive around a little bit. Natalie and Scott needed to be to the airport about 2:30 for their Saturday afternoon flight home.

I asked my phone how to get to Forest Park (not really knowing what or where it was). And we followed the GPS directions along the river in an industrial area where we saw lots of oil companies and a cool bridge. We continued to drive on a little winding road going up and up into the side of this hill. We got to the top and there were houses. And that was it. Just houses. So Scott turned into one of the driveways to turn us around to go back down the hill. And the car died. And the car would not start back up.

We are in someone's driveway, it appeared they were not at home. We were at the top of a very narrow winding road and they needed to be to the airport in 2 hours and we had plans to drive home that afternoon.

We popped the hood and the four of us stood around looking at the engine. Isn't that what you do when your car dies? We tried to start it a couple of times. Then Natalie says to me, "Mom do you want me to check you in?" Humor to ease a tense situation. I had been sure we did a Facebook check in for all our restaurant adventures.

I stood there in front of my old trusty 12 year old Toyota and offered a silent pray pleading for assistance and safety. I took the car keys and sat down and turned the ignition and it started. We immediately all hopped into the car and Scott took us down from the side of the hill out to the main road.

We then made our way back to the downtown historic district. We parked and walked along the river and took a few photos. It was a gray overcast day, in the mid 40s, but pleasant.

We then found our way to the airport and dropped Natalie and Scott off, way early. Good thing they had their iPads to keep them entertained.

I then took Wally to yet another landmark site in Portland, Fabric Depot. It was my second visit there. they boast 1 1/2 acres of fabric, notions, crafts and more. And everything in the store was 20% off. And Portland does not have sales tax. I did my job and boosted the Oregon economy.

Then it was a late lunch for Wally and I then we hit the road again to head home. We stopped off at Cabela's. I'd heard a lot about it but had yet to experience it. It was quite interesting. Then we were homeward bound and created by very thick fog when we arrived in Kent.

It was a great short trip and very fun to visit and explore a new city and to spend time with Natalie and Scott.

And that was my epic 27 hours in Portland, Oregon.