Oh My Gourd!

Meridian, Idaho

Last week I had a wonderful visit with my great friend Sharon. First we chatted and chatted, solving all the world’s problems.

Then she taught me how to carve gourds. Well, actually she gave me an introductory lesson. I need to practice, a lot, before I move on to more difficult gourd patterns.

And I don’t think if I practice 40 hours a week, I’ll ever do work as beautiful as Sharon does. Here are a few of her pieces.


The detail on all of her work is stunning.

I’m a sucker for leaves, and I would steal the leaf globe if I thought I could get away with it.  🙂


Sharon also makes the most amazing thunder gourds. Here’s hers. 

And here’s the one she gave us that I just LOVE.


And here’s what thunder gourds sound like:

So here are the basics on how to carve gourds. Sharon has a special wood working tool that is basically like a dentist’s drill–high speed and with a foot pedal to make it go super, super fast.


She holds the drill like a pencil and creates shapes. Oh, and she makes it look really easy, but it’s not. 🙂


Once a hole is cut into the gourd, all the innards are pulled out. It’s a bit tricky because you have to stir inside the gourd to loosen the fibers and then use tweezers to pull those fibers out the hole.


Sharon then let me take a turn on the drill. 0529151416

I tried to guide it, but like a Ouija Board pointer the drill had a mind of its own. 0529151415c

At this point of my tutorial, I figured it knew better than I did. 0529151415b

Tom and Martha, our wonderful friends in Fallon, gave us a bunch of gourds. I was supposed to give them to one of my sisters who does gourd work, but I kept them for us to experiment on. (She needs bigger gourds for her pieces. More about her work in another post.)


My hope is to make light covers for some solar lights that I recently bought.

Here’s the first prototype…


40! FORTY! XL! 40!

Barcelona, Spain by way of Meridian, Idaho

Our son, Rich, is in Barcelona, Spain, watching a football game. Not American football, but European football–soccer!

He was scheduled to be in Germany for work meetings, so why not schedule in a visit to some friends in Finland before and a soccer match in Spain after and somehow only take one day of vacation leave…

You can follow along on his travels if you want by taking a look at his blog:  http://gettoyouthcrew.blogspot.com/

Here is one of my favorite pictures of him traveling while hiking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal:


Yesterday’s post listed highlights of each visit to 39 different countries in a little over 14 years. When he landed in Spain yesterday, it became his 40th country!

I’m biased because I’m his mother, but I love yesterday’s post and copied it here…

40! FORTY! XL! 40!

14 years, 2 months, and just about 2 weeks ago I set foot in a foreign country for the first time when I went to Jamaica for spring break. Today, I’m visiting my 40th country.

It is mind boggling to me that I’ve now been to 40 different countries. It’s almost unbelievable to me that I have been to 40 different countries in just over 14 years.

Over the last ~5192 days, I have been to a new country every ~130 days. That’s…huh. Wow.

I’ve been thinking back to some memories from my travels…

Jamaica – a foam party on the beach is just gross

Canada – watching Rob get pulled out of the bathroom at the border for using the facilities without permission

Australia – didn’t get punched by the guard at the American embassy for acting out a scene from the Simpsons

New Zealand – still not sure how I convinced myself to go bungee jumping

Germany – the feeling of “what do I do with this information?” when the guy making my döner kebab told me that Mohammed Atta was a regular in his shop

Czech Republic – the shockingly violent religious art everywhere…so many beheading statues

Switzerland – Zurich is the closest I’ve felt to home outside of Seattle

Austria – renting an apartment for Xmas and cooking Xmas dinner with some fellow grad school students

The Netherlands – “and we shall enter the night”

Poland – Lela probably coming closer to murdering Rob, Ben, and I for speaking in whisper voices the entire weekend than we knew

Italy – deep fried calzones

Vatican City – did you know there’s such a thing as purple marble?

Greece – “and then you just drive to the Meteora”

The UK – torturing my mom with 5 goodbyes as we dealt with constantly re-scheduled flights due to an air traffic control system failure

Ireland – the picture I have of my mom smiling at me while biking up a hill (and I’m pretty sure cursing me for taking her picture at that time)

France – I walked across the border from Germany and they didn’t hand the country over to me, did I do something wrong?

Iceland – Megan finding a natural hot spring on the northern coast where it was possible to be both in the hot spring and the Arctic Sea/northern Atlantic at the same time

Belize – exploring the ATM cave and in the process destroying a pair of socks

Guatemala – being inside a 19 seat minibus with 25 other people (though traveling with 26 others because 1 guy was on the roof) and riding that minibus on a ferry across a very large river that was powered by 4 outboard motors attached to 55 gallon barrels welded to the side of the barge with “pilots” inside  of them

Ethiopia – I saw the building the Ark of the Covenant is in (according to the guy who runs the church who is the only guy allowed to see the Ark)

Kenya – hot air balloon ride over the Maasai Mara that finished with a champagne breakfast

Egypt – the air inside the pyramids is very ammonia-y

Norway – trying to hike through a snowstorm and eventually being smrt enough to give up and go back when the snow got to be over a foot deep (in August!)

Slovenia – getting lost while hiking to Bobotov Kuk and as a result having a much longer and much more rewarding hike with even better views…and still ending up at the top of Bobotov Kuk

Croatia – the guy walking the city walls who had an Adele song as his ringtone on the loudest setting ever…and also had zero fucks to give about it

Bosnia-Hercegovina – everyone in the stores was buying cigarettes. Everyone. Didn’t see a single person ever NOT buy cigarettes

Montenegro –  in the Prokletije mountains, one of the most remote mountain ranges in Europe…on the last day of my trip I run into a person with an Amgen backpack

Argentina – on a trip where I’d be spending 1/3 of the trip in my tent, and on the first day of summer in Patagonia, my first night in the tent…there’s a blizzard

Chile – returning from a brutal hike over slippery rocks in the pouring rain to find that a fox had ripped into all of our tents

(Antarctica) – penguins smell like shit

Uruguay – the sad horse that stared at the horse racing track 10 ft beyond his fence

Finland – eating sausages that were cooked in the sauna right next to a couple of naked bodies

Estonia – I ate bear. Do not eat bear.

Nepal – the best $160 I will ever spend in my life. Everest brought me to tears.

Malaysia – seeing a peacock mantis shrimp while diving in Borneo

Indonesia – nearly stepping on a spitting cobra while walking around looking at Komodo dragons

Singapore – black pepper crab

Panama – having a cop stop me on the street, point in the direction I was walking, say “no,” and put me in a cab because the neighborhood was too dangerous at 10:30 AM for a white person

Costa Rica – after the horribly long day of crossing the border from Panama and getting caught in some amazing  rain…getting to town and finding out the hostel we were trying to book didn’t actually exist

Luxembourg – the care that went into making sure the American memorial cemetery was the cleanest place I’ve ever seen


Come From Away

Meridian, Idaho

Thanks to my sister Joanne for alerting me to this story!

There’s a play that has been touring around the U.S. that sounds very interesting and is a testament to how people are so good.

Read about the play.

comefromawayCome From Away tells the true story of when seven thousand people landed on the doorstep of Gander, Newfoundland, because planes were diverted immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Thirty eight planes from around the world landed there and nearly doubled the population from about 10,000 to nearly 17,000.

The people of Gander “put the kettle on.” While the world witnessed the worst acts of humankind, the stranded passengers in Gander had their faith in humanity restored by the spirited people who comforted those who had come from away.

There have been books written about all that happened in Gander, including The Day the World Came to Town. (Which I just ordered! 🙂 )


The play is a musical written by Irene Sankoff and her husband, David Hein. They interviewed thousands of people all over the world over the course of a year before they wrote the play.

While the idea of writing a play about giving others sandwiches and a place to stay might not seem like a good idea, the authors drill down to the stories behind the story.

For example, the chairman of Hugo Boss, a German luxury fashion and style house, went to Walmart to buy underwear.

And Oz Fudge, the town constable, searched all over Gander for a flight-crew member so that he could give her a hug as a favor to her sister, a fellow law enforcement officer who managed to reach him by phone.


If the play comes here, I will definitely see it.

In the meantime, I can’t wait to start reading the book, loving every minute of affirming that People are Good!

What Would You Do with What’s in the Briefcase?

Meridian, Idaho

Last night we watched the premiere episode of CBS’s The Briefcase.

Two hard working lower-middle class American families are given a briefcase containing $101,000 and are told they can keep all the money or give all or some of it to another family in need. What neither family knows is that the other family is going through the same decision about giving money to them!

Actually they only need to decide about $100,000 because they are told that they have to spend $1000 right away.  🙂

Spending $1000 right away wouldn’t be hard.

Deciding to GIVE total strangers all, part, or none of $100,000 that someone just GAVE you would be very hard!

The Bergin and the Bronson families surprised us with their decisions.

Joe Bergin, 49, and his wife, Kim, 43, and their three teenage daughters from Matthews, North Carolina, were facing financial struggles. Joe had a heart attack over ten years ago, was laid off his salesman job soon after that, and had to put his ice-cream truck business on hold due to medical issues from a car crash. They have no health insurance.

 The Bronson family were also facing financial struggles. Dave, 32, is an Iraq war hero who lost his leg in combat. He has had over 30 surgeries to date and will likely need more. He is unable to work at this time. His wife, Cara, 30, works full time as a nurse and was a month away from delivering their second child at the time the couple faced their decision about the money.
Can you imagine if someone showed up on your doorstep with a briefcase full of one hundred dollar bills?

I’m not going to spoil the outcome for you in case you decide to watch the show yourself.

I will say that the dialogues between the couples and  between Rich and I were fascinating. There was some (what I thought was) gender role reversal. And both couples surprised their spouses many times throughout the 72 hour decision-making process.

According to People magazine:

The families have stayed in contact since the taping and say they’ve even become friends: “We talk to them a couple times a week,” says Kim, who adds that she and Joe planed a big viewing party for the series premiere.

“I would do the show again in a heartbeat,” Cara says. “We don’t regret our decision at all.”

I’m not sure I’m going to watch any more episodes, but I am glad I watched this first one.

A Picture is Worth…

Meridian, Idaho

I’m sure y’all have heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

A_picture_is_worth_a_thousand_wordsI’ve seen some amazing images lately, so I thought I’d post a few of them here today instead of typing a couple thousand words. 🙂

These pictures were all taken from Huffington Post’s article on a Hawaiian celebration of Memorial Day. 

As Memorial Day turned to dusk, more than 42,000 people gathered in Honolulu to send 6,000 floating, candlelit lanterns out into the ocean. Each one contained a handwritten note, prayer or photo and was dedicated to a loved one who has passed away.






It’s a(nother) Sign!

Meridian, Idaho

Well, I got a(nother) sign to go on  a diet this morning.


I’ve had lots of signs:

Pants don’t fit.


Three stomach rolls instead of two.


The Idaho news alerted citizens to the fact that there’s a candy shortage in our area…candy-shortage

And those signs bothered me, but apparently not enough to start cutting back on what I’m consuming.

But this morning, I got the BIG SIGN to knock it off!

I woke myself while snoring!


I only snore when I’m really getting up there in weight.

And I hate to snore…

So, it’s time to cut back.  🙂

Memorial Day

Meridian, Idaho

A few facts and stats about Memorial Day from US Memorial Day.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.

logan_engravingRegardless of the exact date or location of its origins, one thing is clear – Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

decoration-day-190x300On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).

It is now observed in almost every state on the last Monday in May with Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363). This helped ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays, though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19th in Texas; April 26th in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10th in South Carolina; and June 3rd (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

Red Poppies

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.


She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms. Michael. When she returned to France she made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children’s League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their “Buddy” Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms. Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it.

National Moment of Remembrance

The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”

Two Peeps for Le Peep

Meridian, Idaho

We went out for breakfast today at Le Peep. It’s less than a mile from our house. I’d seen it lots of times, but I had no idea until I Googled it that it was a nationwide chain.

LePeepThere are lots of items to choose, especially for breakfast. I noticed that the lunch menu wasn’t as varied, but lots on it looked great, too.

0524150814I had cranberries and granola over oatmeal. It was yummy.

0524150822And to completely overload on carbs, it came with brown sugar and a bagel. Like I needed even more simple carbohydrates…

I loved the bowl that my oatmeal was served in. The back was high and the front was low so that I could shovel it in non-stop.  🙂


The restaurant was adorned with lots of Idaho photos and paintings.

0524150839The ambiance is very casual. And my only complaint was that the tables were really close together where we were seated against one wall.

0524150814aWill I go again? Definitely! Our food was good, the service was great and quick, and the prices were very reasonable.


On the way out the door, I noticed an odd sight. There was one television in the restaurant. It was, naturally, set to a sports channel.

Two young men were eating breakfast together. And instead of facing one another so they could talk, they sat on the same side of the table so that they could watch television. Cracked me up…


Fridays with Freddie on Facebook

Meridian, Idaho

MikeRoweI love Mike Rowe. He’s a fascinating guy.

Y’all know him. He’s the one who was on Dirty Jobs and is now on CNN’s Somebody’s Got to Do It.

I started following him on Facebook about a year ago. He has some interesting things to say, but my favorite postings to read are Fridays with Freddie.


Freddie is his dog, and Friday’s posts are written by Freddie.

Yesterday’s was so funny I laughed out loud.

Here it is…

Fridays With Freddy

Alissa Marie Curtin writes,

“It was such a pleasure to meet you and Freddy this morning! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me and take a photo. It really made my morning! As I mentioned, I work at CK Contemporary Art in Union Square. I would love have you stop by sometime! We have a great show right now featuring paintings by K. Henderson. She collects pieces of childhood memorabilia and paints them with the most fantastic realism. I have included a few images below with the picture of us as well. Again it was such a treat to meet you today! I am a huge fun of yours, and Freddie’s! Alissa Curtain, 5/22/15”

Hello Alissa. It was a pleasure meeting you as well. And judging from the way you leapt from your SUV after putting it up there on the sidewalk, I’ll assume you were indeed both pleased and excited to find us in the midst of our morning stroll to nowhere. I’m not sure how the encounter unfolded from your perspective, but here’s how it went down for me.

After searching longer than usual for the elusive odor that allows my sphincter to involuntarily spasm, I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever begin my long-awaited constitutional. I finally found the necessary scent on the outskirts of the gutter, mixed in with some pine needles and a Zagnut wrapper. I had barely completed my compulsory two and half spins before last nights dinner was halfway to the pavement, neatly transformed into a robust pair of perfectly formed, jumbo tootsie rolls. I was fast, but The Biped was faster. (Lately, my Human Butler has taken to snatching my turds from midair, before they actually hit the ground. He says it’s preferable to “scraping my shit off the street,” though I’m not sure that pulling my feces straight out of my anus and walking around with the prize in a periwinkle sack puts either one of us in the most elegant light. Whatever. It’s a small price to pay for getting to crap whenever the spirit moves you.)

Anyway, I had just pinched my last loaf directly into His Majesty’s bagged hand, when the squeal of your brakes snapped us both to attention. Though initially alarmed by your entrance, I want to say that you handled the encounter with more grace than other females of your species have exhibited in similar circumstances. However, there’s something you should know about the photo you posted. Just behind your back, dangling from the Biped’s thumb and forefinger, is the aforementioned bag of dogshit.

You see, when the situation calls for it, The Biped can be both discreet and dexterous, and I have to say that I was impressed by the skillful way he managed to keep my excrement from ruining an otherwise splendid encounter. Trust me – had you come upon us just a few seconds earlier, the resulting photo would have not been suitable for framing.

Anyway, thanks for recognizing me. The cat downstairs watched the whole thing from the window and is still seething with jealousy. Which is as it should be. And good luck with your art thing.


PS. I like the rodent with the deformed hand, but the two-legged bat in black underpants is troubling.

Mike-3 Mike-2 Mike-1

Oh, Amma!

Meridian, Idaho

I had a wonderful treat yesterday — a massage!

I haven’t had one for a very, very long time. Too long.

I’ve had several different types of massages (deep tissue, sports, etc…), but my favorite type of massage is called an Amma.


The Amma massage is an ancient style of therapeutic deep tissue massage that has been perfected for the last 5000 years. It affects your body throughout, loosening muscle, joints, and connective tissues to allow your body to function properly.

Chinese in origin, this technique implements deep tissue therapy, pressure, friction, and touch. The technique affects not only tissue, but energy channels throughout the body. The nervous system, cardiovascular system, and respiratory systems all are affected, allowing your body to function more productively.

Yesterday’s massage was with a new (to me) therapist. And she did a great job, but I just didn’t experience the same connection with her as I did with Kerri–my first Amma therapist.

I first saw Kerri over four years ago. I was feeling depleted and was hoping that a massage would help. I (naturally) did a Google search on ‘energizing massage Boise’ and Kerri’s Web site came up. I called and made an appointment.

I filled out a brief health survey. Then Kerri and I sat down for a brief chat. I told her how I came across her practice and what I was after–relaxation and energy.


Sounds like an oxymoron, but I was hoping that if I could relax then I would have more energy.

As I got ready for the massage, I glanced around the room. Everything was tranquil from the soft colors to the music and the light essential oil aromas.

The massage table was soft and warm. Perfect!

Kerri came in and explained that Amma is based in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and that she would do and ask things that might not happen during another type of massage session.

“Ooooookaaaaayyyy”, I said a bit nervously.

She then asked me to open my mouth so she could look at my tongue. In TCM the tongue is examined to determine overall health. For example, a red tipped tongue indicates that a person might be suffering from insomnia and stress.

meridian-3Kerri took one look at my tongue and said, “You eat your food hard.” I thought about it for a minute and agreed. I prefer apples over applesauce and I like my veggies al dente. She continued on to say that by eating so much of my food under cooked, I was missing some key nutrients.

There were more physical exams like taking my pulse in several locations and examination of the temperature of my hands and feet.

Then the massage started. An Amma massage incorporates both deep tissue pressure and small circular movements.

Much of the small circular movements are along meridian lines and intended to generate chi–life’s energy force.


When Kerri finished, I tried to tip her, but she said, “I don’t accept tips. I consider what I do a medical treatment and you don’t tip your doctor.”

As I left the office, I thought, “Well, that was nice.”

And it was. Very nice.

But it wasn’t until later in the day and over the next few days that I realized how GREAT I felt.


My energy level was higher. I was happier. My body felt more connected with my mind. And I was very, very relaxed.

I continued seeing Kerri every four to six weeks for massages until she quit to raise her daughters.

And while I was seeing her, I felt amazing! 🙂