Saturday, August 25, 2012

Almost ready

Almost ready to go, that is. We leave early in the morning and by tomorrow at this time we'll be in our berth on the Schooner Heritage, which sails on Monday out of Rockland, Maine. This will be our fifth sail in the last ten years on the Heritage. Deeply familiar and relaxing, wonderful food, with old friends and probably new ones.

My book Return to Viet Nam is on the shelf at Third Place Books, a large independent bookstore in north Seattle. It's on consignment and I'll make no money having it there. But if people hear about the book - by media or by word of mouth - the bookstore will order more from their distributor. So it's up to me. The week when we get back I'll be contacting the local talk radio stations and the local newspapers. I'll say, "I've written a book about a Viet Nam veteran and his journey of healing. In the weeks before Veterans Day, it would be good for veterans and their families to hear about it." We'll see what happens.  I've been told radio stations and local newspapers look for timely fill pieces. That same week I'll talk to three other bookstores and see if they'll carry it. The library will carry it if they get hold requests. I figure, if it's supposed to happen, it will.

I made the final payment on the Vashon Island house where I'll be spending an October weekend with five other bloggers. My virtual friends, soon to be face-to-face ones.

I'm now working directly with a Kenyan travel arranger for a summer visit to Kenya and Tanzania. I've found a way to cut the costs - either by shortening the trip a bit, or by having two or three other people sign up to go. I've got a friend interested. We'll see!

A couple from Knoxville - we met them on our road trip this spring - will be staying at our house, watering various plants and keeping company with our Designer Cat, Larisa. Ruth and Dave are delighted to be spending time in my part of the world, especially in August when we almost always have glorious weather. It's 60 degrees outside now, and I'm still a little warm. Ruth, however, has on socks and a sweater. Something must happen to the blood of Pacific Northwesterners over time.

I'm taking my iPad but not my laptop. I wonder how I'll do being partially disconnected!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Bag Lady puts herself out there

It's been nine days since my last post. It's not because there's nothing going on. It's because I'm putting myself out there on multiple fronts. One of them is fun and three of them are scary.

First, the fun one. Last week my 13-year-old grandson Kyle was looking at the world map in our entryway. It's full of pins showing where Art and I have traveled. I said to him, "If you had all the money you wanted, and all the time, where in the world would you want to go?" He said, "New York City". Really? The next time he came over I said, "Kyle, by your 15th birthday I will take you to New York City." This time it was his turn. "Really, Grandma?" Really!

So yesterday I spent a couple of hours on the websites of the two home exchange clubs we belong to. I sent out about 40 requests. So far, I have six who said "no, thank you" and one who said "let me talk to my wife about this". We'll use companion fares and miles and we'll get Kyle and Grandma and Grandpa to New York City. Probably next year.

Now, the scary ones, in order of the fear intensity.

1. At the suggestion of a blogging friend, I'm coordinating a weekend gathering in October for half a dozen women. I've only met two of them in person, but I've read the blogs of the rest of them. Everyone sounds interesting and I am really looking forward to the weekend. But I am only just barely an extrovert on the personality tests. I'm much better in writing than I am in person. What if I don't have anything to say after the first ten minutes? Too late, though. I'm committed.

2. I've created a media sheet for my Viet Nam book and it's time for me to go to the library and three independent booksellers to pitch it. I get a knot in my stomach just thinking about it. I want to memorize a pitch but I can't think of a good one except, "Please put copies of my self-published book on a table before Veterans Day, so people will buy it for their veterans." Actually, I want to assume the fetal position. I am not a marketer. But we're leaving town in a week and I committed to the writers group I belong to that I'd go to all four places before then. So I went to the library today, talked to the manager and dropped off my book. I was so nervous that when she opened the book to look through it, I kept talking instead of shutting up and letting her look. I learned from that experience, anyway. I'd like to think I'll go to the first bookstore tomorrow, but I'll probably put it off because it's so scary.

3. I talked to a houseguest/friend last month about a memorable trip he and his wife took to Africa last year with a friend who coordinates travel with a private outfitter in Kenya. It sounded so interesting that my husband Art - who has always maintained he has no interest in going to Africa - agreed to go. This week I called the houseguest/friend, got the name of his friend, and called him. We spent three hours on the phone and I am now working on an itinerary for two weeks in Kenya and Tanzania - probably next August.

This is the scariest of my projects. Why? Because the cost is nearly double what we budget for travel in a year. The Bag Lady woke up from her long slumber and muttered about how we're going to run out of money if we do this.

Here's the deal. Africa is going to be a costly trip no matter when we go. Even a carefully budgeted one. But we're never going to have more money than we do now, and we're never going to be any younger than we are now. If not now, probably never. Am I willing to forego a trip to Africa to observe the Great Migration just because the Bag Lady is muttering that someday we'll wish we had that money back to put food on the table?

I'm working on the itinerary even though I'm not absolutely certain yet about this trip. I'm thinking about asking friends if they'd like to go along. Six people can travel more economically than two, and the shared experience would be wonderful. Especially the three days in an orphanage, where Art fixes electrical and plumbing stuff and I read to kids while they cluster around me. Or the night in a village where we are the only foreigners, and where we buy a goat from a woman in the village and then give it to the villagers so we can share a meal. See, it's details like that I can't, can't pass up. If I have the courage to put those things on the itinerary, and to tell the Bag Lady to be quiet.

Weeks like this remind me that my Bag Lady still watches.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Are you sleeping?

Recently I've been having trouble getting to sleep. Once I do, it's fitful until about 2 a.m. After that, I'm a rock until 7:30. It hasn't always been this way. I attributed it to an older bladder that kept me waking up.

I shared a motel room with my sister on a trip back in May. One morning I woke up and she said, "Man, did you snore! And I was watching you. I think you have sleep apnea."

I was surprised, because no one had ever told me that. I figured she was being ultra sensitive since she's a first-year nursing student. Besides, my husband has sleep apnea and I was nothing like him! Art fell asleep at friends' houses after dinner, at intersections waiting for the light to change, in meetings, and his snoring kept me awake many nights. Three years ago I badgered him into being tested for sleep apnea. He did it only at my insistence, and not very gracefully. Sure enough, he was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea and fitted with a CPAP machine. He now sleeps like a rock, with no snoring.

When I got home from my trip I sent an email to my doc asking whether I could be referred to the sleep center. The first reader of my email in the doc's office sent a referral to the sleep center. The second reader was my doc, who directed me to take the Epworth test for daytime sleepiness. I scored a six; sleep apnea can be diagnosed with a score of ten. Doc said he couldn't make a strong case for referring me to the sleep center.

The next week, I got a call from the sleep center. I told them what the doc had said and they said I could come in anyway, for an evaluation. I did.

Based on several factors (weight, circumference of neck, configuration of open-mouthed throat), I was set up for a home test. I took it the night before last. I took the machine back yesterday morning. By 2:00 the results were in: I have moderate sleep apnea. I'll be fitted in the next couple of weeks with an APAP machine - it's the generation after CPAP and it delivers air at a varying pressure depending on what's needed, rather than Continuously.

As I look back, I shouldn't have been surprised. My sleep habits had changed, but it happened so gradually I hadn't noticed. I'm looking forward to my sleep aid. I expect I'll have much improved sleep.

Are you sleeping?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Time for planning

I didn't do much planning for this summer. My husband Art's knee surgery was June 8 and I knew, for the two months after, I'd be fairly indisposed, as I was his primary caregiver and his ride. I knew it would be tough. It was tougher than I'd expected, though. He was kind of cranky and I was kind of isolated and let's just say I'm very glad that's over with! After a short introspective transition I'm feeling like myself again and ready for what's next. If I claim to be saying "yes" to life, I need to get back to that.

What's coming up first is our fifth six-day cruise on the schooner Heritage, a windjammer sailing out of Rockland, Maine. We leave three weeks from today and I have nothing to wear. Sigh. I hate to shop and I've recently lost 10 pounds. I have older stuff I can drag out but nothing matches. Maybe I'll go as Raggedy Ann or maybe I'll race through Penneys this week and see what's on sale. I shouldn't be complaining, but I am.

Art's daughter Laura is having a destination wedding in October - we're flying to Cancun and driving an hour to Akumel. We'll be there six days. Again, nothing to wear. The last time I bought a dress was five years ago for Art's son Jason's wedding. I've been tasked with shopping for Art's outfit at Tommy Bahama, and I logged in today and found some simple dresses that I hope will work. As I've said, shopping is nowhere near on my top ten list of things to do. For our gift to Laura we have bought plane tickets for three of her siblings and one sister-in-law. I heard today there's a wedding video being planned, so I'll be looking through old photos in the upcoming weeks. Last I heard it was going to be a very simple affair. Not so much, though, I guess.

I'm also beginning to plan for a fall weekend gathering of some women I met online. Most likely all I'll do is coordinate, and hopefully other people will be in charge of the food. At my house, Art does all the planning and shopping and cooking, so my abilities in that area have gone pretty much dormant.

Then, in early December, we'll be having a holiday celebration for daughter Laura and her husband Brian. I thought she wanted something simple for her west coast gathering, but her mother Nancy and I talked today and I believe the event has expanded a bit to include "a few friends" as well as relatives, so now there are too many people being invited to fit in either of our houses. Nancy is checking out the venues at nearby wineries, says we don't need to cater because there are several good food people available, and wonders if we need a DJ. I'll talk to Laura this week and then it will be up to her and Nancy to hash out the details. This one isn't mine to plan, fortunately.

In January we are driving to Tucson for two months of snowbirding. Our first time. One of the weekends in January we drive to Las Vegas for the wedding of a college roommate of mine. I got a timeshare for one of the weekends and we'll be hosting another of our roommates and her husband. We roommates now live in Washington, Massachusetts and Toronto, but we still get together every couple of years. I think I'll be able to wear the dress from Tommy Bahama. That will be a relief!

Good things happening, fun things to plan. Yes!