Saturday, October 26, 2013

Rick Steves

Today I was in Edmonds all day. I had a glorious time learning all about traveling in Europe. From 9 to 11 a.m. I took the workshop taught by Rick Steves, European Travel Skills.

After this was Packing Light and Right from 11:30 to 1 p.m. in the Edmonds Center for the Arts. Rick Steves presented most of this workshop and Sarah Murdoch finished to tell women how to pack light and get everything they need for 2 months in one small bag that is less than 16 pounds. Sarah weighs her clothes to pick the best things for her trips as a guide in Europe. I wanted to ask how many tops she had in her suitcase because it looked like a lot. In this one small suitcase, she had a pillow, 4 pairs of shoes, countless tops, and everything she needed to never wear the same outfit twice!

I wish I could be a travel guide but I am probably too old and too fat to be considered but it sure would be fun to see the world and to help others see the world.

I didn't sign up for the workshop on France taught by Steve Smith but I wanted to go so I asked and it was okay. I learned so much about France through the informative lecture and pictures that now I want to visit France to learn more and see all these places like Loire where there are so many castles and palaces, Honfleur, Carcassonne, and Aries. I couldn't stay to the end because I was having problems with my knee from sitting for so many hours. I just couldn't do it any longer. It was only one more half hour. I hated to leave because France is glorious.

I wanted to stay for the workshop about Italy taught by Rick Steves but I couldn't because it was too long of a day just sitting for me. I really wanted to learn about Italy.

I learned that Rick Steves has these free workshops twice a year where anyone can come and learn about traveling in Europe. It's certainly worth the time and effort to come to Edmonds. I would love to live in Edmonds. I am sure drawn to this area.

Rick Steves is masterful at speaking to groups. He would easily be a popular tenured professor at any of the major universities in this country. He's a master teacher because he blends so many disciplines and areas of knowledge and makes it so easy to understand. He has more PBS shows coming up to teach everyone about Israel and the Middle East and France.

I picked up the catalog of guided tours of Europe offered through Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door. When you sign up for one of these small group tours, you learn so much local history, have local guides, time is saved not standing in long lines to popular spots, and you see the best of Europe efficiently. It is well worth the money and there are a variety of tours available. It sounds like you bring home life time friends when you go on one of these tours too.

Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door
130 4th Avenue North
Edmonds, Washington 98020

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cascade Carvers

Check out 
This is an amazing and website for the creative person
who loves to carve with wood.

It looks like there was a fun event in Ellensburg, WA
with the Northwest Carving Academy last July.

I met Linda Lunde at the Write on the Sound
writer's conference in Edmonds, WA.
She's such a nice person!
This is her husband's business that she shares.

Cascade Carvers Supply 1-800-828--5576.

Linda Lunde is the kind of person you wish was
a next door neighbor. I'm sure her husband is
fantastic and super nice too!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Garrison Keillor

Garrison Keillor is coming to Seattle on April 1, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. He will be at the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium. I don't know where this is but I am going to find out and I'm buying a ticket.

I love Garrison Keillor. I have eight of his books. I have loved listening to him for years on OPB. I love his charming stories about Swedes from Minnesota since I am 1/2 Swedish and my father was born in Minnesota and my grandparents on my fathers side were born in Sweden. Yes. I love Garrison Keillor and I'm buying a ticket.

Seattle Symphony Orchestra

I went to the Seattle Symphony on Friday. I had a great time. The Symphony played the 29th Symphony by Mozart. Of course, it was flawless as always. It's always like being in heaven sitting in one of the chairs listening to them. It is my indulgence and pleasure to listen.

The Seattle Symphony Orchestra has a new conductor. Stilian Kirov served as an Associate Conductor in Memphis and graduated from Julliard, the BEST of the BEST! He was so charming. I really like him. He is the cheerleader for the orchestra and encourages and hugs those on stage for being amazing. He was amazing. We are lucky in Seattle to have Stilian Kirov as the new Associate Conductor. I look forward to more. He's brilliant and is certainly a gifted conductor.

ZIN JAM at Magnuson Athletic Club

I spent the afternoon at Magnuson Athletic Club for a special Zumba event. I signed up for a ZIN JAM taught by Meli Mastroeni-Kirkwood. The time was from 12:30 to 4 p.m. I had a great time and learned a lot. I was surrounded by amazing and gifted dancers.

Meli Mastroeni-Kirkwood is a ZIN JAMMER, which means that she has been chosen by Zumba to create choreography for Zumba instructors. She's absolutely amazing and such a gifted dancer. It is an honor to be a ZIN JAMMER and it was an honor to take a class from Meli and to learn from her. She taught choreography for five songs and we all danced and  became the instructor to teach the songs.

Magnuson Athletic Club is a gorgeous club--so big and so beautiful right near the water.

What was really amazing to me is that Meli lives in Arroyo Grande. I used to live in Arroyo Grande from 1978 to 1982. I loved it there. I didn't want to leave. Arroyo Grande has absolutely perfect weather. It is always around 65 to 70 year around with a breeze since it is on the Central California coast. I was very happy living there. I homeschooled my five children in Arroyo Grande.

It was an honor to meet Meli. She's awesome!

Weight Watchers

I had great success with Weight Watchers this last Wednesday since I lost 5.8#. It's working so far and it was a great decision to sign up again. The meetings are inspirational, encouraging, plus packed full of great information to get you through the week. So many nice people too!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Weight Watchers

I went back to Weight Watchers and yesterday was my first day. I am already doing better because I feel like I am being held accountable and I can't cheat by eating the extra or saying that this little Halloween candy bar is so small and won't hurt. I am serious because I have to be serious in order to meet all the goals I want to meet. I need to lose weight in order to be a great Zumba instructor. I need to lose weight in order to be taken seriously. I need to lose weight because some people just plain do not like fat people and won't even consider you in your world, if you are fat.

I feel like this time I can do it and I will be successful. Maybe I am just plain ready.

I started a Weight Watchers blog. I know I will have fun with that.

I bought ActiveLink and I think this is going to help to record all I do in a day to move. I'm interested to see how it works. I set it up yesterday.

I bought the monthly pass and I went to my first meeting at Wednesday noon in Northgate. So many nice people in the meeting. Sometimes I work part time at Joann Fabrics so I won't be able to attend but I will when I am able. I am happy that I went back. I'm excited to begin.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Nina Amir

At Write on the Sound, the writer's conference at Edmonds, Washington, I learned so much from workshop presenter, Nina Amir. She's published dozens of books, one is a Writer's Digest book on writing craft, HOW TO BLOG A BOOK in 2012. Her workshop, HOW TO WRITE A SHORT BOOK FAST, was full of great tips on how to market yourself as a writer and how to turn your blog writing into a book. I learned more about the process of finding new ways to use your novel writing to promote yourself as a writer. One great example she shared was about how a writer who writes cozy mysteries about knitting could start writing nonfiction short books about knitting tips, speak to groups, and then sell all her books.
Nina Amir is amazing and a great speaker who has great business tips on expanding your career as a writer to start making more money.

Rick Steves

The writer's conference, Write on the Sound in Edmonds, Washington was a great writing event on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this last weekend. The Edmonds Arts Commission did an outstanding job of orchestrating the entire conference and making it appear effortless as it went forward without any flaws. All needs were taken care of and anticipated. There was so much talent and high profile names at the conference as presenters--best selling authors, book and magazine editors with decades of experience from all across the country. I was in great conflict because I wanted to attend all the workshops and didn't want to make the hard choices.

When I saw the name Rick Steves, the travel writer, as a presenter, I wanted to attend. I've been watching Rick Steves on PBS for years. I admire him. He's the best at travel writing and sets the standard for excellence.

I sat in awe as Rick Steves shared tips on travel writing and talked about the importance of telling the truth and providing practical information that will help travelers save time. He collects stories about people and feels strongly that people "carbonate your experience." Asking questions, connecting with locals, having a local travel guide are essential to the process of understanding, coupled with a background knowledge of historical and political context as you view what is before you. I would love to work for Rick Steves to learn and grow and have the adventure of traveling all over Europe. He works 12 hour days. He doesn't enjoy the nightlife. He doesn't have time because in the evening, he is transcribing his notes for the day into his computer. His life is dedicated to helping and serving those who travel and to bring understanding among all people. He's great at breaking down barriers and helping people see connections where no one thought it was possible. He deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for his work that heals and brings understanding in the world. Rick Steves is a great writer and professional speaker. I sat mesmerized and could have listened for hours plus he's so handsome and charming. I'm the proud owner of one of his books that I bought at the conference, a signed copy of Postcards from Europe. He was gracious and kind to agree to a photo.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Write on the Sound

I went to the writer's conference in Edmonds, Washington this weekend. Write on the Sound sponsored by the Edmonds Arts Commission was outstanding. Each presenter was amazing. I learned so much and am grateful that I had the opportunity to attend. I only wish I could have heard all the speakers and attended all the workshops during the weekend.

The organizers of this writer's conference did an outstanding job. Everyone was taken care of and they did a great job of anticipating needs of those who attended the conference. So much thought and planning went into this event. It was flawless and they should be congratulated! I want to attend next year and I look forward to it with great eagerness to learn and grow.

These are the workshops I attended:
On Saturday I went to:
Today I went to:

I wish I could have attended all the workshops.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Thai Cottage

I had dinner at Thai Cottage at 417 Main Street in Edmonds this evening. I selected the Cottage Garden on the menu which is stir fried mixed vegetables, including broccoli, carrots, cabbage, onions, baby corn, mushrooms, garlic, and onion sauce with steamed rice, water, and green tea. It was perfect! It couldn't have been nicer. It was delicious. What a great restaurant!

There is a Mexican Restaurant next door which looks very inviting and like it has amazing food too. It looks like Edmonds is full of great restaurants and interesting shops.

Edmonds and Edmonds Library

I love Edmonds. This is the first time I have ever been there. The words that comes to mind are precious and rare. There's something so special about Edmonds. Yes, it's being close to the ocean and being able to see the magnificent views. It's the shops that look so inviting. It's the Edmonds Library with the perfect librarian who is one of the nicest people in the world and who represents libraries and books in the best way possible. I liked her immediately.

I was sitting in the second row on the end listening to Robert Dugoni, an attorney and writer of legal thrillers. Right there I am sold because I love legal thrillers and the law.

I bought four paperback books and I talked to Robert Dugoni for a couple of minutes. I could have listened to him for hours with his stories about growing up in a family of 10, about his mother, about being an attorney, about writing, about the law, about his big EPA case that he wrote about. He's so interesting so I know I will love reading his books. He's a great speaker. He charmed everyone in the room. You can tell he is a good person.

What I like best about Robert Dugoni is that he is a champion, a hero, and someone who believes in justice and fighting to help people and do what is right. He is the best of what an attorney should be.

He mentioned Christopher Vogler, another writing hero. I've gone to a writing workshop where Christopher Vogler spoke on the Oregon Coast. He's awesome. He wrote the Writer's Journey and I have two copies both signed by Christopher Vogler. I need to read his book again.

At the Edmonds Library, it sounds like they have a perfect writing group on Mondays and a National Novel Writing Month group beginning in November.

Write on the Sound

I'm so excited to be attending the writer's conference in Edmonds, WA today. This is the first writing conference I have attended. It's called "Write on the Sound." It's going to be great. I will learn and grow and talk to interesting people who are so talented and gifted in writing.

I signed up weeks ago. I kept changing my mind about one workshop because it's so hard to make a choice. There are so many great people coming to speak. I want to go to everything and listen to everyone, but I can't be everywhere. It's really hard. They give you four choices per session but every choice is great.

I'm going to have a great time this weekend. I haven't been to Edmonds before so I will enjoy looking around. I have thought it would be nice to live in Edmonds.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Health Care

Zumba Party

I was invited to the home of Phillis Wang on Monday along with others who love Zumba and go to 24 Hour Fitness in Northgate. We had a wonderful afternoon. On the left in the photo above is Phillis in her beautiful Shoreline home. She's great at entertaining and making people feel comfortable. She's a talented artist. I'm in the middle and on the right is Camille Neilsen, one of the loved Zumba instructors at 24 Hour Fitness.

At the table starting at the left is Vamila next to me. In the middle is Camille followed by Chiya on the right next to Akiko, another loved Zumba instructor with her daughter a future Zumba instructor. Phyllis, Vamila, and Chiya should be instructors because they are amazing talented dancers. Great food and great conversation. Even some practice Zumba.


Wednesday, October 02, 2013


Vimeo is a creative website that encourages film and video by anyone who wants to learn and grow and create. I'm impressed with this website and first discovered it a little over a year ago. I haven't spent a lot of time on the website but I see that those who participate and share their films have something very special by being connected to Vimeo and all that this website offers.


I watched a National Geographic special on Netflix this morning--Stress: Portrait of a Killer. It was really good and everyone should watch it. This documents the work of neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky at Stanford University who has studied baboons in the wild for decades. The documentary challenges us with the question whether civilized man can learn to thrive without stress like the baboon. Watch it to learn more.

Zumba Gold

I wish I could take Zumba Gold classes every day at 24 Hour Fitness in Northgate. I wish I could take Zumba Toning classes three times a week at 24 Hour Fitness in Northgate. I wish I could take Zumba Gold Toning classes at 24 Hour Fitness every other day in Northgate too. These are the classes I want to be teaching every day. These are the classes where I belong. This is what I need to be doing. I'm 65 and I weigh 243 so I can't be doing all the high energy jumping around that everyone else is doing. I can't always keep up with all the young people and the high intensity Zumba instructors who are doing all the jumping and moving so fast. I enjoy the slower, easier version of Zumba Gold. It is my speed.

I need Zumba Gold but I need to also be surrounded by people who also loves Zumba. 24 Hour Fitness in Northgate doesn't have Zumba Gold classes. They don't have Zumba Toning classes, which is also slower. They don't have Zumba Gold Toning classes. In my training as a Zumba Toning instructor I have learned that vertical abs exercises with Zumba are more effective than doing sit-ups on the ground and it is sure a lot more fun.

I'm working hard to learn my dance choreography as a new Zumba Gold instructor. I really wish I had someone to co-teach Zumba Gold with until I gain the confidence to go solo as an instructor. I think team teaching works great because it gives the students more people to follow. Then all the attention wouldn't all be on me. I want to be up in front. I want to help people. I want to show them that exercise and fitness is important. I want to show them that everyone is healthier with movement and there is nothing as much fun as Zumba. Zumba has brought so much happiness in my life. I hope I have a chance at my dream. I really want to teach Zumba Gold. I want to be "real." I want to help people. I already bought Zumba Gold instructor shirts from Zumba. I also bought Zumba Toning shirts too. I ordered business cards. I set up my Zumba website but I need to add more.

I love Zumba. Beto Perez, the creator of Zumba is one of my heroes. I will always admire him and appreciate all that has been added to my life with Zumba. Zumba is fun. Zumba is making life happier and bringing joy to millions. Even though life outside of the Zumba classroom isn't perfect, within the Zumba classroom, it is awesome. It is pure joy and happiness. It is movement and fun. When you are active with Zumba, you are healthier and fit.

I'm going to practice my Zumba Gold choreography today. I'm going to keep working at it hoping that someday, I will have a chance to be a Zumba Gold instructor and be able to help people. I want to help people who are overweight like me to keep moving and to make it fun. I want to help boomers to become zoomers and enjoy all the fun of Zumba but in the safe, easier, slower format of Zumba Gold.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

red turtlenecks

I bought a bunch of red turtlenecks at Fashion Bug in Corvallis, OR about six years ago when they were going out of business. It was a mega shopping event to find so many wonderful clothes at the end of the sale for only $2 so I loaded up and bought a lot. I had several, probably 10-15 red turtlenecks hanging in my walk in closet in my apartment. I wore them all the time last year. I bought several tops exactly the same because if I wrecked a couple, it wouldn't matter. So where are they now? I have a bunch of orange ones. I bought the orange ones to sell because I had the idea that I could sell them to students at OSU and make a profit. I thought I could sell them for $5 or $10 and it would still be a great bargain but I would make a profit.

I look around my apartment and I keep finding stuff missing. Wish I had an army of detectives. Wish I was married to a good Mensa Jewish attorney who was retired, loves to travel and likes to dance and likes to laugh.


I was up in Everett this afternoon because I checked out a very nice apartment in Mukilteo. Since I was going up to Everett, I thought I would bring along my checkbook for BECU to close my account. I had been told several times by multiple sources that I needed to go to Everett to close my account when I talked to people on the phone, in the Northgate Branch and in Lake City. I didn't think there was a rush since I had my card and checkbook locked up and wasn't using it.

I had no idea what I was going to find. I'm very surprised, shocked, and disappointed.

Well, let's start out at the beginning. I've been auditioning banks since I wanted to find a bank that I could count on and trust to give me good service and do what they said they would do. I wasn't asking for the moon. I just wanted what I think every consumer wants. I opened up an account with BECU because I like Boeing. I love Sid the Science Kid, which BECU sponsors. I thought BECU represents intelligence that I could count on. The Seattle Times highly recommended BECU at the time I started my account. My son recommended them too, although he didn't have personal experience. So I opened up an account when the Northgate Branch opened nearby. I didn't like it that that it is mainly an ATM bank. I'm not an online bank person. I told them that and that I wanted paper statements in the mail. I made that clear. I didn't apply for any kind of credit. I didn't ask for a car loan for anything requiring credit. I just wanted to check them out and see how it went. They gave me a credit card. I haven't even activated it to this day. I didn't use it once.

Well, it didn't go so well today. I haven't used my checkbook or debit card since July of 2012. No one has access to them since I have it all locked away so I thought everything was fine. I thought everything was dormant and it wasn't a rush to close my account. Boy, was I wrong. I was thinking that I should have stayed home but if I had stayed home, I still would be in the dark about what was happening. I didn't know all this was going on.

I found out that all this time my account was charged by Vimeo every month even though I had contacted Vimeo last year canceling my account. I opened up an account with Vimeo because I auditioned with Biggest Loser, the television show since I have weight to lose. I cancelled my account by calling, e-mailing, and writing a letter. I had no reason to use the account anymore. I haven't used it since. I thought it was done. All this time Vimeo has been charging my account with BECU every month. BECU has not bothered to contact me to tell me about the non-sufficient funds charges. I haven't been getting paper statements. No phone call. So I walked into a bill to close out my account of over $320 when I thought I didn't owe anything and they were supposed to give me money. I had $167. in my account. On top of this they were charging a line of credit on my account with charges in addition to the other ones and negatively reporting me to the credit reporting agency. Discover didn't tell me even though they are monitoring my account. I had no idea this was all going on. No one told me.

Yes, I have a lot to learn. My husband of over 39 years used to take care of all this. He passed away two years ago. I need to do better but I expected better from BECU. When I said that I wanted paper statements and didn't do online banking, I expected that they would have contacted me. The branch manager, Suzanne told me more than once at the conclusion of all this that I was expecting too much and I should go to another bank. She said that BECU had acted appropriately.

Shouldn't NSF alerts be brought to the attention of a branch manager and shouldn't someone check it out? What if it were an elderly person who was ill? What if someone passed away? Shouldn't BECU care? Why doesn't BECU care? I certainly don't feel cared about. It turned out worse than I even thought.

I believed in BECU and I believed in Boeing. Years ago I submitted my invention to professors at OSU to work with Boeing. I tried to get small passive exercise machines put under seats in jets, especially for long distance travel to prevent blood clots in the legs. No one helped me. I think it is a great idea since it is hard for people to sit on a 16 hour flight without exercising their legs.

I had gone to BECU a few months ago asking for a mortgage and I was disappointed that they wouldn't help me. I had walked away from my home because I couldn't get help I needed and didn't want to stay on acreage after my husband passed away. I was told to walk away by two mortgage brokers.

Not all people representing a business are professional. Sometimes people represent themselves when they are at work and they gossip and they don't always represent the business. When information that only BECU knew during the loan process got around, I shook my head in disappointment and still do.

So you ask, why hadn't I gone up to Everett to close my account. It's kind of a long way up there. It seemed longer than it really is. I hadn't been to Everett until today. It's a nice area and I really like Mukilteo. I'm trying to find a nice apartment at a lower price that I can afford.

I always pay my bills on time. I pay them every month. I care about my credit. I want to be able to buy a home or a condo. I care about doing the right thing. I'm a responsible person.

Yes, I should have closed out my account a long time ago. I guess I still wanted to believe that BECU was part of the good guy team even though I had been disappointed.

I talked to Chris and poured my heart out about all that has happened. He was nice to me. His supervisor, Sue was disappointing. She was severe and harsh and certainly didn't show that she cared. Tears were coming down my cheeks. Sue was glaring and leaning forward and I was thinking she belongs on Wall Street and she must be a Republican and I was wishing Les was taking care of all this. I saw her laughing with others in the back and they were looking my way. I wonder if the CEO of BECU saw a video of how they reacted to me, if it is the way BECU wants to be represented?

Who was the hero in all this? My son, Daniel. I called him on my cell phone. It went straight to voice mail and he called me back. Daniel cares about me. He's my CFO. He answers the phone even though he works day and night. He calls me a couple of times a week. He talked to Chris and to Suzanne on the phone. He was in my corner. He wants me to bank with Ally Bank, the online bank. Maybe I need to do this because then he could monitor the account too and I could be fixed up with the other budgeting program he uses and talks about that shows you graphs and charts of where your money is being spent.

So how is it left? They backed off NSF charges. They charged me for the charges I didn't know anything about regarding a credit line. It was actually in their best interest not to tell me about the NSF charges since they could charge this credit line to make even more money. Suzanne refuses to write a letter to right the wrong of trying to destroy my credit. She says everyone acted appropriately. She won't fix any of it even though she has the power to do so since she is the manager.

I didn't close my account because I want them to start the process with Vimeo to challenge it. I hear back from them tomorrow.

Umpqua Bank sent me flowers when they heard that my husband died. Umpqua Bank gives great coffee when you walk in the door and give you a really great cookie, the kind you give to someone who is family and that you care about. Umpqua Bank lets you sit down and read the Wall Street Journal. When I told this to the manager, she said that I should go to Umpqua Bank again. Umpqua Bank hasn't been charging me every month. They send me a statement in the mail every month. They are nice when I walk through the door.

Chase Bank helps me with any charges that need disputing. They are there to help in the process. Chase wouldn't have treated me this way. BECU says this is on me and my responsibility to get this taken care of.

I have also liked West Coast Bank, which is now Columbia Bank. I have had an account with them since high school, which was Commercial Bank in Salem, Oregon. I found through the years that I could trust them.

The Branch Manager at BECU in Everett said that I need to stay with these banks. I guess I have expected too much from BECU.

So what happened? What is the final outcome?
On October 2nd in the afternoon I received a phone call from the Branch Manager, Suzanne saying that my account would be closed and that the charges would be written off. She said I would receive an e-mail when I said twice that I wanted to receive notice in the mail or I would need to drive up to the bank to completely close out my account. I said that I have been consistent in wanting statements and notifications through the mail. She finally agreed to send me a statement in the mail saying that I have a zero balance and that my account was closed. Hopefully I will receive it in the mail or I will need to drive up again to Everett to the BECU to close my account. The manager again said that they would not deal with Vimeo and that was my responsibility. I closed my Vimeo account and contacted them again as I had a year ago so hopefully this is resolved. It is a big lesson to me to be watchful and vigilant and not assume everything is okay until I check everything out.

I must say that I thought I had left it last year with Vimeo as a free account. I think that Vimeo is a very creative website for anyone who creates film and video. I haven't spent a lot of time on the website but I think it is an amazing opportunity for anyone interested in creating film and video to be connected with this website.