Sunday, March 29, 2020

Podcast Recommendation: Threshold

I listen to a lot of podcasts. Some are mildly interesting, some are riveting. One I'm going to recommend is Threshold. I discovered it recently. They have completed two seasons, I think, but I have only listened to Season One so far. Season One takes an in-depth look at the bison/buffalo in North American history and in current wildlife management programs, focusing on herds in Montana and in Yellowstone National Park. It is so interesting, and I hope some of you take time to listen to the whole season.

Apparently each season will focus on one topic. I don't yet know the topics for the next seasons. I think they may have already started Season Three. If they are all this well done, I am (and you are) in for a treat!

Where can you find podcasts? At Apple Podcast, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and lots of places. I have an app on my phone called Castbox. That's what I use. It's easy to do a search and find all kinds of interesting podcasts from all over the world. I started with CBC (Canadian Broadcast Company). They had some great ones; I especially recommend Someone Knows Something. It's not being currently produced, but what they did in the past was excellent. And once you get hooked in one, they'll often recommend others, so the ideas soon become never-ending and overwhelming. But fun! I love to listen and learn while I sew.

I wish U.S. Americans would be better educated on the buffalo and the current issues, so I hope some of you take advantage of this free resource (and our current free time) and give it a listen.




P.S. I'm aware that most people know how to find podcasts, but there are some in my generation who might be slower to catch on, so that's why I give details on how to find podcasts and how to listen. In fact, I know a certain person of my age range who used to complain "What does that mean?" when radio shows would say "listen to this wherever you get your podcasts". I was in the dark for a while, too.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Book Reviews: Two Books

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates -- 5 stars

The author writes this book to his son. He explains his own life: how he grew up on city streets, learned what it means to be a black youth in America, and as he grows up he also analyzes what American society does to the lives of black people in general and black males in particular.

As a white person who spent many years being for-the-most-part oblivious, this was an important book to read and to attempt to comprehend. To be honest, the author is so intelligent and able to deeply analyze behaviors and society and history; I had a hard time grasping it all. I do feel grateful to have had this look at my white (dominant) culture in an illuminating way. I imagine a person could read this book many times and get more out of it each time.



In Five Years by Rebecca Serle -- 4 stars

This book was pretty good.. I listened to the audio version. I think my reviews are subject to change depending on whether I read a hard copy (including Kindle) or if I listen to an audio version. I'm not completely comfortable with audio books, but I get them occasionally so I can do projects while I listen. I think I am more forgiving when listening to an audio book. So.. I don't know what I would think if I had read this myself, but I liked it pretty well as an audio book.

The idea of it was interesting. The main character is in a certain life, and then she wakes up five years ahead in the future. I liked how the author played it out. It surprised me a little, and I was glad the ending wasn't exactly what the main character thought it all meant. The book is a bit of a tear jerker, although I myself shed no tears. I can imagine me at a younger age crying over it, though.


Saturday, March 21, 2020

How Are You Coping?

During this corona virus pandemic, in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, most of Minnesota has shut down: schools, churches, bars and restaurants, hair and nail salons, malls, many businesses have cut hours, and people are encouraged to self-quarantine if possible. Husband and I are doing that. We are trying to understand enough of the virus to be wise and careful, but not too much to let ourselves get crazy-scared about it. We are trying to trust that preventative measures will pay off.

We are in the vulnerable population of "over age 65," plus Husband is diabetic. So we want to be careful. This morning Husband went to the grocery store during the first hour of opening business which is set aside for elders like us. At that time of day, everything has been freshly cleaned and stocked, and the only people there will be in that same age group. Hopefully it's safer than just shopping among the general population. We have been getting groceries delivered, but that actually is getting harder as items are not in stock. It's harder to guarantee we will get the items we want. Yesterday (Friday) I went online to place our delivery order, and the first available delivery time was Sunday night! We could have made that work but just chose not to. Many of our usual items were not even available, but he found them in person early this morning. (Everything except bread and toilet paper. We're good so far.)

Other than that, we are not feeling too much stress during this "lock-down" time. I am fully retired and Husband is semi-retired, so staying home all day is typical for us. The only things we have cut out are the social and group gatherings we would usually be participating in. To be honest, having some of them on hold for a while is a relief! Even retirement life gets to be too busy sometimes. Husband has been doing his usual two days a week of work remotely (from home). Spring is slowly approaching, so weather has been nice enough to get outside for walks, which helps keep us sane.

So far our two adult children are doing OK. Son's job site has closed, but he is still getting paid. Daughter's job is still up and running. I'm crossing my fingers for her; she doesn't get paid if she doesn't work.

How are you doing, dear reader? I know for some people being cooped up at home is not fun. I hope you are finding ways to keep yourself happy.

For me, life these days has been quite fun. It is relaxing to have no obligatory events, and we can stay home and enjoy ourselves. As introverts, this suits us well. I have been doing my usual: sewing and reading. Here are some of the things I have been working on lately:



I also decided to work through a block book that I have, from A-Z. These are the blocks I have made so far. I'm a little bit into the B's.

Oh.. my sisters and I are feeling lucky to have completed a fun and healthy trip to Panama last month. Just this week Panama suspended all international flights, and they now have several confirmed cases of Covid-19 there. Prayers for them and for the world!

May we all enjoy good health and learn to appreciate our quieter world for now.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Panama Memories

I am so grateful for my trip to Panama. Here are some fun memories:

riding a boat through the canal (we were close enough to the canal wall that I could touch it)

hanging out with my sisters:

beautiful scenery

swimming in the Chagres River and in the Caribbean Sea:

Happy memories forever.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Another Adventure in Panama

One day we decided to go to Fort San Lorenzo. It is a place we remembered visiting when we were kids (my older sister) or remembered seeing in pictures (me). It's the site of an old fort that was built in the 1500s to protect the area from pirates and marauders. The info on the signage there says that ironically, this fort was attacked often. The ruins that are still there now are from the 1700s. They are crumbling and needing to be held up with supports. Apparently Panama is looking for someone who can help restore/maintain the ruins so that they don't completely collapse. Anyone know some experts?

I have scanned some of our parents' old slides. This picture is in about 1951, the family visiting Fort San Lorenzo. Even the signs have changed, as it was owned, at the time, by America but is now Panamanian.

us at the current sign in 2020

In 1950s, the ground was messy and bumpy.

Now it's much more grass-like and appears easier to walk on.

my brother, his friend, and my two sisters in 1950s

me, 2020

Our parents took this from the fort.. it shows where the Chagres River meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Here we are in the same spot, 67+ years later. It was awesome and emotional being in these old spots that our parents lived and moved. They would be so pleased to know that we got to go back and learn about our first home. The next pictures are from our recent visit.


The visitors' center there is new, and one must now pay to get in. I feel sorry for the people who work there, because the road into the fort is long, VERY bumpy, full of potholes.. our driver had to dodge and swerve around all the big holes.. quite a physical feat just driving us in and out of there. Can you imagine commuting on that road every day?

More about Panama in my next post or two.



Thursday, February 20, 2020

Our First Adventure in Panama

One of our first days in Panama was one of our best and most interesting. Our guide, Alex, suggested that we visit the Embera tribe. We pretty much did anything he suggested, because he knew a lot more about the opportunities than we did.

First we had a canoe ride over to the Embera village. Our canoe driver was Reigu. He was quiet with a nice smile and sooo helpful. (He spoke Spanish but not English.) Every time I turned around I saw him grabbing our bags and carrying them all for us, like a Sherpa, and he was also always present when we had to walk over bumpy, rocky paths to get to our final spot - the waterfall. His arm would be right there to help steady us or catch us if we lost our balance. Same with Alex. He was fabulous. I might write something just about him later on.

Such beautiful kids! The Embera people are small and appear to be kind and happy. They speak their own language and Spanish. They rely on tourists to provide an income and any extras we can. We brought along fruit which the kids loved. I also had some packs of gum in my pocket. You should have seen the kids jump to life when I pulled those out and handed them out. I mimed to them "sharing" since I only had a few packs with me. We did see them share, but boy were they grabby at first when I had those packs of gum in view. LOL!

They fed us a delicious meal of fresh fish and fried plantain. Yummy!

They (with interpreters) explained how they dye reeds and make their cloth. Unfortunately I couldn't hear most of what they said. Then they danced and we danced!

Alex helped find some families with young kids, and we gave them five quilts! Highlight of the day!

After all the dancing and hanging out, they set out tables of their wares to sell.. beautiful bracelets, earrings, various kinds of cloth, bowls, etc. Then we departed and got back on the water to find the waterfall.

arriving at the waterfall.. we jumped in and swam in our clothes. It was refreshing and so fun! This part of the trip was an "Alex Special." Most tourists don't get to go to the waterfall. We experienced many Alex Specials during the week.