The $1000 Round of Golf

I started playing golf because I got a great deal on golf clubs.  When I asked Tom if $220 for an entire set of clubs including the bag was a good deal, he said “Why are you asking me that?  You don’t even play golf.”  So I replied “Well maybe I’ll start if that’s a good deal on clubs.”  He rolled his eyes and said “Why don’t you just get me a set, I actually play golf and need new clubs.”  So I got us both a set.  That was 16 years ago and I’m still playing with those clubs.

Although I like the game of golf I am really just a hacker and even though Tom has been playing his entire life, he is too.  So when we were recently in St. Andrews, Scotland, of course we had to play a round of golf.  We weren’t good enough to get on the Old Course at St. Andrews, you need a handicap that I will never see, but we were good enough to play at Kingsbarns where they don’t check your handicap.  It turns out that Kingsbarns is where the Women’s British Open will be held this year in August, so I was really excited.  When you’re watching that tournament, just think that I actually played the course.

The day of the game arrived. It was cloudy and cold but not raining.  On the way to the course at 6 AM with no breakfast or coffee I sunk into my thoughts for the upcoming day.  “Why am I even playing here? I’m not good enough to justify all this money for one golf game, my handicap is so high, my game is so inconsistent that if I play well one round, I’ll be terrible the next.  Wait, did I play well my last round of golf?  Oh no, I did! That means I’ll be terrible today. I’ve never had a caddie before, he or she will be so depressed. I’m playing with three men, one of whom I’ve not met and is a high school golf coach.  I’m playing with rented clubs. The day has already become a disaster!”  Of course I was expressing these thoughts to Tom who counseled me that we were paying the caddy so he’d be nice and that I needed to think POSITIVE swing thoughts not negative.

We got to the course and Kevin and Tommy were already there.  I gave Kevin a hug as I know him and Tommy seemed like a nice guy.  So we got our clubs and our bucket of balls and went to the practice range where I tried to hit my rented clubs.  Every one I pulled out I couldn’t hit.  Because the first shot I was going to hit would be with a driver my last practice shot was with a driver.  Naturally it dribbled off the tee to about 50 yards.  It was time to go.  When I met my caddie he was not the friendliest so I am sure he drew the short straw among our caddies and got the girl.  In the picture, the guy in the background is my caddie.  Note the folded arms.  Not good body language.

Standing at the first tee, with 3 men and 3 caddies watching, my heart pounding, I closed my eyes and swung the club. It landed in the fairway and went over 100 yards! None of the men had hit into the fairway and I could see my caddie breathe a sigh of relief. There were pot bunkers everywhere and Tom was in most of them all day. To the point where his caddie started complaining about having to rake so much and muttering about charging extra for it. On hole #7, I passed by Tom’s caddie raking the 8th pot bunker Tom had hit into.  He looked up at me longingly, wishing I’m sure, he had drawn the short straw and gotten the girl as I was playing the best round I’d had in years.

I found myself walking next to Tom going to hole #9 and said “Why aren’t you hitting any of your long clubs, the woods?”

“My caddie won’t give me one” he said, pouting.

Laughing, I said “See, negative thoughts do work!”

There were three of us in the same bunker at one point and Tom said “closest to the pin getting out wins and the other two buy the beer.”  Tom’s caddie looked at the other caddies and said” closest to the pin rakes” betting against Tom.  Tom won and his caddie had to rake, much to the delight of us all.  Do any of you readers remember seeing Robin Williams and his take on golf in Scotland?  If you’d like to refresh, here is the link but beware there is profanity:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcnFbCCgTo4

We celebrated our day with dinner at a restaurant where the food turned out to be fabulous.  We were even inspired to try the national dish, haggis. Haggis is everywhere.  You can get a burger with haggis, chicken stuffed with it, appetizers of haggis which ours was.  There are haggis and whiskey bars, odes and monuments to haggis.  Ours came with neeps and tatties.  I recommend that you google haggis.  It was actually pretty good. Skip the neeps.

Does anyone out there have a golf story they’d like to share?

 

What Happened in Scotland is NOT Staying in Scotland

Midnight in Cupar, Scotland. The street lamps are the only lights in the Village.  Everyone was asleep as it should be at midnight.  After renting a car we were on our way to St. Andrews after being up for 34 hours.  Portland to San Francisco to London to Edinburgh  We were two hours on the road when we got lost in Cupar.  Tom rounded a corner on what we thought was the way to the main road when it happened. The worst sound in the world at midnight in a foreign Country. The crunch,  the curb and the tire blew.

It turns out not everyone in Cupar was asleep.

As we got out of the car, a woman walked by with a cigarette dangling out of her mouth.  “That’s bad, you can’t drive on that” she said.  “You’re gonna havta move that car, this road is really busy in the morning and you’ll get a ticket.”

 

In the morning?!   How would we make it til morning?  At that point our marriage seemed really rocky.  We moved the car down the street and lo and behold there was a light.  We bolted out of the car and went into a take out pizza place that was just closing.  The proprietor took pity on us.  Tom tried to call Hertz.  His phone message was “no carrier.”  Same with mine.  The extra money we had given Verizon to have our phones work in Scotland really paid off.  The pizza guy pulled out his phone, dialed the number we gave him for Hertz and handed the phone to Tom.  They were not happy.  The Hertz person said they’d call a tow truck which would be there by 2 AM and that we’d have to come to Edinburgh Airport the next day to get a new car.  The marriage got rockier.

Paul, the cheerful tow truck driver, showed up at 1:30 AM.    He had a big flat bed tow truck which he winched the car up onto.  We got in the cab with Paul who talked all the way to St. Andrews in his Scottish accent which was difficult to understand.

One thing he did say was “Going back to the airport tomorrow is dumb. The Hertz people are nasty there and it’ll take 5 hours.  I’ll drop the car at the Kwik Fit Tire place in St. Andrews,  and you call them in the morning to see if they can either fix the tire or give (i.e. sell) you a new one.”  So he did.  Then telling us that St. Andrews was one of his favorite places he proceeded to give us a tour at 2 AM in the morning.  We saw the Castle, the University, some ruins, his favorite coffee shop and then took us to our hotel at 2:30 where we checked in exhausted.

At 8:30 AM Tom was up calling Kwik Fit.  Because it’s Scotland, it was pouring rain, cold and windy.  At Kwik Fit they told us it would be a few hours so we walked into old St. Andrews, took a tour of the Castle and perused some shops.  It was still raining and cold, and we were soaked so a cafe sounded like the perfect answer.  After Tom decided we should split a panini of tuna, tomato and mozzarella cheese, it arrived at our table.  The mozzarella was not melted on warm tuna with tomatoes, instead it looked like they had dumped a can of tuna between two slices of bread, plopped a few (3) tiny mozzarella balls on top with two tiny slices of tomato. Things were not looking good.  At this point I was very unhappy with Tom’s overall decision-making AND, especially, his driving.  He chose to go to Scotland, he was an inept driver and now he’d selected a bad cafe and a really bad sandwich.  How could I have married this guy?  How can we make it to our next anniversary?  Our future together looked as dark as the weather outside.

Back to Kwik Fit where they hadn’t even looked at the car yet. Finally someone took pity on us. They couldn’t fix the tire but they were able to sell us a brand new one which set us back about $320. At this point my T-Chart evaluation of our marriage showed a long list of negatives and zero positives.

After a few days in St . Andrews we drove on to Inverness.  I was on the edge of my seat, extremely nervous, as the roads were really narrow, mostly curbed or with rocks right up to the edge or hedge rows covering stone walls and we were driving on the left.  “Tom, watch out, you’re going to hit the curb, or a rock or something!”  After about a day of this Tom turned to me and said  “If you know what’s good for you, don’t say another word about my driving or about anything I may be about to hit.”  “Don’t you even want me to warn you if you’re going to hit something?” I asked.  “No.”  After that I tried to focus on the scenery which was wonderful but it was hard.

My favorite Inn was the Corregior overlooking a Loch in Fort William.  It was an old fashioned Inn, full of antiques, wonderful people, cozy, great food and a bar where Tom tasted whiskey with the proprietor. She’s looking a little crazy in the photo so I must have caught her at an awkward moment.  I could have spent hours in their dining room alone which is on the left.

We also saw our first Hairy Coo (Cow) there. Scotland has unusual cows which are celebrated but we hadn’t seen one until we were on the road and coming back to the Inn when we saw them. Luckily there was a place to pull over so we did. I couldn’t get closer but they have long hair and the hair completely covers their eyes. There was a blonde Coo there also.

With memories of the Corregior Inn fresh in our heads, our next stop was Drymen (say Drimmen like the locals do) where we had the worst hotel room so far.  Walking around the small but very picturesque town, we saw a hiking path we followed which we found out later would have led to a Castle had we kept going.  We stopped in a little cafe called Skoosh ( the only one in town), had afternoon tea and crumpets. The most wonderful couple, Denise and Robert, owned the cafe and took us under their wing.  They gave us all sorts of advice, conversation and steered us to a restaurant for dinner that we loved. We would have eaten at the hotel but this place was less money and the food was great!  Proof is in the picture which is pork with Yorkshire pudding on top of it.  Delicious!

Meanwhile the tire light had gone on in the car.  Left front tire, the brand new one.  We were losing air. After Drymen we were headed back to Edinburgh Airport where we were returning the car.  It was about 50 miles away. Between Drymen and Edinburgh is the town of Sterling and 8 miles from Sterling, we stopped in a small gas station to put air in the tire. It was raining of course.  The really nice gas station man looked at our tire and said “You’ll never make it to Edinburgh on this tire.  It has a slit in it and is bubbling.  You might make it to Sterling and there’s a Kwik Fit there where you can  get a new tire.”  You know the rest of this story.  With about 15 miles to Edinburgh, we once again had to buy a new tire.  This time we got a discount.  It was only $270.  Both of us remembered hitting a pothole which must have torn the tire. If you ever see Kwik Fit in Scotland on the stock exchange, buy stock, it’s a sure winner!  Especially if Tom is headed to Scotland.

The end of the trip was the Lake Country in England where the scenery was spectacular.  We took a train from Edinburgh to Penrith where we were renting another car. As Tom got off the train in Penrith, he hustled to get his coat and our bags but I thought he was being hasty so I took my time.  Big mistake.  Who knew I had only 30 seconds to get off the train?  Tom was on the platform with me still on the train when the door locked and we were about to leave the station. Tom was frantically waving to the conductor and with the help of a train attendant on the platform, got the conductor to stop. They let me off but were not happy.  If I had not gotten off that train the next stop was at least 70 miles away…

We had a great time in England’s Lake Country where the weather was great, the B&B’s were fabulous and we had no more drama.

I’m glad to be home!

Can anyone out there top our mishaps with your own travel mishaps?

Stay tuned for our St. Andrews $1000 round of golf.  Will the fun never end?

Cannon Beach

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We couldn’t wait to go.  We’d been looking forward to this two day get away for months.

Cannon Beach.  An idyllic coastal village an hour and a half from Portland.  big empty beach

It has a spectacular beach, a cute village, good restaurants and we had it all to ourselves.  A week before Memorial Day weekend which brings the crazy crowds of summer.  The weather left a lot to be desired.  Fog, clouds and mist.  Did we care?  Not a single bit.  We were at the Coast!  Astoria beer

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This cute café is in the Cannon Beach Hotel where we stayed.

Not even a hike through mud, water and fallen trees could dampen our spirits.  tree on trail C Beachmuddy hikeThe first mud we encountered I tried to go around.  Then you reach the point where you don’t even care.  Maybe it’s good for you, maybe you should just sit in it and smear it all over your exposed parts.  Nature’s mud.

If you go to Google images and put in Cannon Beach, Oregon, you will  see a picture of Haystack Rock.  It’s famous.  Do I have a picture to share?  No.  I took several but did I mention that it was cloudy and foggy.  Even though I took an iPhone photography class, it didn’t help me with that picture.  In fact, if you Google it you will see lots of gorgeous pictures of Cannon Beach, so you will find it worth doing.

One you won’t see is me at the top of the Astoria Column in Astoria, OR which is about a half hour from Cannon Beach and has a famous bridge crossing the mouth of the Columbia River, an incredible expanse of water, connecting Oregon with Washington.

looking down astoria towerWe climbed to the top.  400 steps, after a few beers in a brewpub.  Something we hadn’t planned to do, but upon leaving the brewpub we saw a small road sign that read “Astoria Column”.  Of course we had to follow those signs and all of a sudden found ourselves at the Astoria Column which we didn’t know existed. Astoria towerThere are scenes from Oregon painted (actually Sgrafitto, a technique of wall décor produced by applying layers of plaster tinted in contrasting colors) all the way up the tower.  Amazing.   The views from up there are incredible.  Even with the clouds.  More pictures I don’t have.

Oh sad, sad, we had to leave after two very short days, shorter than normal everyday days.  I filled my pockets with salt water taffy from the candy dish at the hotel and off we went for the short trip back to Portland.

This is completely off the topic of Cannon Beach, but I have to show you the great picture I took of Multnomah Falls last week.  It’s about 30 miles out of Portland, with great hiking and wonderful vistas.  I went there with my photography class (everyone has fancy cameras with big lenses).  I only have my trusty iPhone.

multnomah falls

It’s sunny!

Be sure to check out my website at:  http://www.lips2love.com

pink plumeria

 

New Places, New People: One Way to do it

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Have you heard of “Meetup” groups?  If you google meetup in your area, you will come up with a mind numbing number of groups people have started to meet other people.  A friend of mine started a “Couples Happy Hour meetup group” for empty nesters between the ages of 50 and 70.  What?!  She asked us to join, so I went onto the meetup site: http://www.meetup.org

This is what I found:

Portland Weekly Nude, Erotic and Fetish Photography Meetup, Portland Reiki Tummo (whatever that is), Fun, Fabulous & Flourishing For the next Fifty, Willamette Hurling Club, Puppy Play Dates, Portland Fat Mingle, you get the picture!  Of course there are very normal things there, but those aren’t as fun to post about.  It’s entertainment!

I found my friend’s meetup and joined.  Then I joined a hiking meetup and a walking tour meetup.  This is what happens when you move to a completely new place.  You become different than you were before and revert into total idiocy.  We went to one of the happy hour meetups at a bar in Beaverton we  had never been to.  At first, I wasn’t sure, but it was one of the most fun nights we’ve had in awhile.  There were only six of us there (my kind of group), and we got along and laughed all night.  Will we ever see these people again?  Of course not! It’s called a one night meetup stand.

David and Carol live across the hall from us.  They’re around our age.  David is an actor and if you ask him a question about his work, he will look down his imperial nose at you for your ignorant, idiotic question.  David also does Portland walking tours with a company that comes up when you google that very thing.   We had friends in to visit and thought a downtown walking tour would be fun.  Well, lucky us, the fates gave us David as our tour guide.

“Stevie and Tom! How great to see you!” sayith David.  Those are the most words he has ever spoken to us.  The tour starts and ends on the dot.  At the end, David walks away with his little pockets stuffed with tips.

That brings me to the meetup walking tours and Eric Wheeler.  He and his partner do independent tours for only $15 and no tips.  They are two hours but the ones we’ve been on are at least three hours and counting.  He is an architectural historian and very enthusiastic.  We were just on the Historic Sellwood Tour.  Sellwood is an area across the river in SE Portland.  Portland has hundreds of neighborhoods and different areas with individual personalities.  Since we are on a quest to find our next move-to place, this is a great way to check out areas.  We would never move to SE Portland.  It’s hip, young and crowded.  But it’s also a very cool area.  Eric also conducts exciting tours.  On ours, two women got into a heated argument about the right to have a garage.  Eric was looking from one to the other and said “Oh, isn’t it wonderful that everyone has an opinion, sometimes different, but moving right along…”

puppet store  Sellwood Puppet Museum.  World famous, these people make puppets for Disney movies, have puppets from China, Japan, Burma, Java and Thailand.  They do puppet shows, film screenings, have workshops, etc.

Sellwood church  This church founded by Reverend Sellwood was located up river and was floated down the Willamette River to be relocated in Sellwood which was named for the Reverend though he never lived there.  Great place for weddings and funerals.  There were people there about to have a funeral.  We apologized for interrupting, but the woman said “Oh, no problem, it’s just my mother and a very happy occasion!”  Interpret it how you wish!

Sellwood homeSellwood Craftsman   Sometimes Eric stops in front of innocuous homes and then points out all the wonderful architectural details

If you’re coming to Portland, look up Eric’s tours! http://www.meetup.com/Positively-Portland-Walking-Tours/

Would someone please tell me what Reiki Tummo is?!

March Madness is coming!  I couldn’t be happier.  If you want to get in on my contest which I will be posting next week for my wonderful Lipstick Customers, email me at sserleth@gmail.com.  I will send you the contest!

http://www.lips2love.com

What Just Happened?

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One year!  It’s been a whole year that we have been here.  From wondering, as we left California after 36 years, where we’d be in a year, now I know.

As we passed the “Leaving California” sign, and crossed the “Welcome to Oregon” sign, my anxiety, trepidation, and sense of adventure increased.  Had we made the right decision?  We knew nothing about Portland, hadn’t been there in 20 years.  We’d never considered moving there.  Why?  It was right next door to CA after all.  Have you ever seen an episode of “Portlandia?”

toga guy   I rest my case.

From a leaky aero bed, to settling in to our very small apartment, we have made it to today. IMG_4148

In every year, there are highs and lows.  Here are some of ours.

The Lows.

Most of them concern our very small loft apartment.  It’s hot!  We have huge windows, but only one opens and no breeze.  No balcony either so no outdoor space.

We’re downtown, it’s noisy!  Street cleaning takes place at 3am.  We are right above a bottle return  center.  We are above the Safeway which is good and bad.  Safeway delivery trucks are not quiet.  Traffic, buses and trains, oh my!

We have an abundance of homeless and street bums.  Why?  The Safeway, subsidized housing all around us.  The generosity Portland shows these people is legendary, so come they do.  I was coming out of Safeway one day and sitting right in a row were 5 bums.  The leader asked me for money and I said I had none.  He said “Come on!  we’re just trying to have some sushi for lunch here.”  Definitely creative.

Oh I forgot Tom’s job hunt!  That took a whole 8 months.

Now for the good!

Newcomers Club.  The best thing I ever did.  All the incredible hiking.  Multnomah Fallslower half of falls  Our trip to Bend and hiking Smith RockAt the top

The Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden r.garden    All the new things to see and discover.  The wine country, Mt Hood, the Columbia River, the fruit loop

apples

The restaurants are wonderful.  Living downtown enables us to experience so many and we can walk to them.  The Portland Art Museum is right across the street.  No sales tax!  The price listed is what you pay.  Powells book store.

Best of all are the quality of life things.  Fewer people, friendly and really nice people, less traffic, and of course all the new friends we have made.

We have obviously made the right choice!  I highly recommend shaking up your life and trying something new. We were in a rut and didn’t know it, but knew we had to do something. I have three friends who are in the throes of figuring out what to do.  Making a change is hard.  You don’t know what you’ll find, but you may just find happiness.

I know the next year will be even better.  We will be in our apartment for a bit longer and then we are moving.  I can’t wait to see where we’ll be in a year!

You can shake it up right now with new lips for Valentine’s Day. valentine lips

You don’t have to go red.  There are other colors perfect for the day.  For instance:  Heartbreaker heartb

Let me know if you want to shake up your lips!  To see  more colors, go to my website:  http://www.lips2love.com  I’m also on Facebook at:  Stevie Sells Lipstick.  You can leave me a message there.

Going Back, Is it Possible?

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Twenty Seven and a half years ago, we bought a large neglected estate in Larkspur, Ca.  At the time it was rented to 12 rock musicians, one of whom was living in the greenhouse outside.  In spite of the black painted everything, kicked in paneling, mirrored ceilings, orange shag carpeting in the kitchen, stuffed iguana in the refrigerator and appliances from the turn of the century, we loved it!  Once you pulled back the floor to ceiling disgusting curtains there were 3 sets of sliders leading to a large veranda.  The ceilings were 20′.  It had a two story brick fireplace and the living room was huge.  Outside on the veranda, you overlooked the two story teahouse, moon gate and reflecting pool.  There was also a gazebo on the hillside.  Everything was in disrepair.  In spite of all sorts of advice not to buy it, we did.Front_Tea_House_Helo_477a[1]

The neighborhood was ecstatic!  They went from 12 rock musicians and lots of dubious activity to a couple with 2 small children.  We were instantly popular!  We spent the next 25 years restoring, maintaining, updating, gardening, you name it.  Every weekend.  We poured our hearts, souls, and lots of money into it.

In 2005 we did a big remodel.  It was supposed to be done in stages, which would have been very smart,  but all that got tossed out the window when the cabinet maker, who was in high demand, had a window where he could start our kitchen.  The kitchen was being moved from one end of the house to the other, so it was a big project.  Meanwhile our contractor had started the master bedroom.  Oh boy, pretty soon it was all happening at once!  We were, as it turned out, in over our heads.  Debt up to our eyeballs!  When 2008 hit, boom.  But oh, my kitchen… kitchen

We sold our house in 2011.  We knew that sooner or later we’d sell it as it was a maintenance nightmare.  But it was very emotional and hard!  Have you ever staged your house to sell?  Well, check your ego.  The stagers will gently let you know that you have no taste, and if your furniture were used the house would never sell, ever.  I think they used one or two of our pieces, so we had to store everything else!

2011 was the bottom of the housing market and our house, being very unique didn’t sell.  We took it off the market and a couple weeks later got a call from a realtor representing a couple from New York with 3 children who fell in love with it from afar.  They came out to see it and gave us the great compliment of saying it was even better than the pictures.  Sometimes online dating works!  They bought it.

A long story to get to the real story!  As bad as the whole experience was, the people who bought it are wonderful.  We have stayed in touch and see them when we go back to CA.  In November we got an email saying they would be out of town over Christmas and if we were coming to CA to see our kids, would we like to house sit?  Yes!

But wait.  Could we go back and actually stay there?  Would it be weird?  I am here to tell you, you can go home again.  I was nervous but it was wonderful.  They haven’t changed anything we’ve done and I felt like I had never left.  The owls are still hooting in the early mornings, and it is quiet at night.  Our son and wife and grandson came up for two days and stayed with us there.  We had a big family dinner with them, our daughter, son-in-law, the twins and his parents.  It was like old times.  That did make me a little sad.  We saw all our neighbors.  Why did it work?  I think we were free to just enjoy the place without all the responsibilities that went with it.  I have finally moved on!  It took a few years, but it now feels good.Frederic Larson

Do you think you could go back too?  Any experiences?  I’d love to hear about them!