Month: January 2018

Blog Challenge Day 7 – What Day Are We Up To?

Blog Challenge Day 7 – What Day Are We Up To?

What Day Are We Up To?

Faster than a Shanghai Bullet Train

The Blog Challenge started out well but somehow, lately, deadlines are rushing past me faster than the Bullet Train leaving Shanghai Station. The question ‘What day are we up to?’ seems to be creeping into my thoughts more often than I care to acknowledge. The new year has just begun, so why is it in such a hurry to be over?

Where Did That Year Go?

Given the prospect of another year slipping by, I figured it might be time to make some definite plans; set some goals; find some direction. I’m guessing it’s what most people call ‘New Year’s Resolutions’, except, I don’t do them. I used to – sort of, but the goals would usually end up as fleeting thoughts that passed through my mind on their way to the dark place that thoughts disappear to. I don’t know where that place is because I’ve never successfully retrieved anything significant from there. All those goal-oriented thoughts hung around just long enough to leave a faint, whimsical memory before slipping silently into the void. All that was left was an occasional “Oh yeah, I kind of remember thinking I would do that – that was how long ago? Surely not!”.

This year I’m going to try a radical new approach and actually write the ideas down. There’s no guarantee that this will work any better than not writing them, but it’s worth a try.

The problem with writing the ideas down is a lot like writing a shopping list.

The Shopping List

The finer points of the shopping list include the following:

  • take stock of the pantry
  • scan the refrigerator for essential items, or lack thereof
  • transcribe the absent items onto a very long piece of paper, herein referred to as ‘the list’
  • drive to the store
  • spend five minutes circling the car park looking for an empty space not too far from the door
  • spend another five minutes test-driving trolleys (shopping carts) to find one with all four wheels in alignment
  • wheel the trolley to the top of the first aisle ready to start shopping
  • put your hand into your pocket to retrieve the list
  • open your wallet in the hope that the list is in there
  • search every conceivable place that an elusive list could have found its way into
  • suddenly picture the list sitting on the kitchen table, right where you wrote the very last item
  • debate whether to drive all the way home to get the list
  • decide to ‘wing it’ and shop without the list; how hard could that be – you only wrote the list an hour or so ago
  • wonder why you have a lot more items at the checkout than you remember writing on the list
  • drive home
  • wonder why you have an abundance of items that weren’t on the list and none of the urgent items that you are completely out of
  • vow to never waste time writing a list again

The Carpark

The shopping list method doesn’t work!

Which brings me right back to the radical idea of writing down the earth shattering ideas that are going to magically transform 2018 into the most productive year of my life. Since the list idea clearly isn’t an option, what next?

How or where will I write my ideas that will ensure they won’t disappear into that elusive place for homeless thoughts?

No Idea!

I haven’t quite figured that part out yet but I’m working on it.

One of the bright flashes of inspiration that lit up my otherwise dormant mind earlier today, was to incorporate the ideas into my blog. Since my website is relatively safe and secure, there isn’t too much risk of the great literary masterpieces slipping over the edge of reality into cyberspace, never to be seen again. And since the Blog Challenge is all about getting me into the habit of writing daily more frequently, the blog-full of goals should jump out and remind me to actually do something about them – hopefully.

So now that I have the ‘where to write them’ sorted out, I just have to work on the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ to write. And that is best left for another day.

Watch This Space!

 

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 3 comments
Day 6 Blog Challenge – Thank You For Making A Difference!

Day 6 Blog Challenge – Thank You For Making A Difference!

Making A Difference!

How often do we say to someone we meet, “Thank you for making a difference!”

My personal experience is – ‘not nearly enough!’ And I meet people almost daily who make a huge difference in my life; I just don’t tell them that they do. Maybe in subtle ways they get the message, but they need to hear it loud and clear.

Today I’m going to shout out to some people who are changing my world, one coffee at a time.

Seattle

I arrived in Seattle on the 11th day of December. It was cold! Probably not cold in local terms but definitely cold in Aussie terms. When I left Australia on the night of 11th of December, it was hot! No, it wasn’t the shortest flight across continents in history, or space travel, it’s just the quirky bit about crossing the International Date Line that landed me in the US of A seemingly two hours after I left the fair shores of Brisbane, Australia.

But here I am in the beautiful city of Seattle, meeting some really amazing people. All have had a profound effect on me but there are some who have made a bigger difference in my life than they will ever know.

This Is A Shout-Out To RedWing Cafe!

My second home in Seattle: The RedWing Cafe

Collectively, the staff at RedWing Cafe have been responsible for maintaining my sanity, and therefore the safety of others, for the duration of my holiday. Individually, they brightened my day every time I made the twenty minute trek down the hill from 63rd Avenue S to be greeted by a warm smile, friendly hello and large Cappuccino as I walked in the door.

God Bless You All At RedWing Cafe

Anyone who knows me well or keeps up with my blogging, knows not to approach me before I am caffeinated. Am I addicted to coffee? Yes! Generally I have just one cup of coffee a day, therefore I don’t think my health is compromised in any way because of the addiction; the safety and well-being of family, friends and the general public? Now that’s a different story. My one cup of coffee, best partaken of early in the morning, is the difference between:

  • civil and grrr!
  • pleasant and ‘stand clear!’
  • ‘Hi there’ and ‘just give me the coffee and no one will get hurt!

Anthony co-owns RedWing Cafe with Su; Bringing a successful business to 9272 57th Ave S, Seattle

Su and Anthony brought their vision of a much-needed cafe to the Rainier Beach area at 57th Ave S. Their dream has made a huge difference to the lives of the locals who call this area home.

Su (and Anthony) own Redwing Cafe;

It Really Is A Serious Problem

The severity of my addiction goes beyond having a hot beverage of caffeinated liquid in either a ceramic or paper cup. If it was that easy I could simply make a cup of what is generally considered Instant Coffee, within minutes of opening my eyes each morning, and the world would be a better place for everyone. But since my discovery of the Cappuccino, especially a large one with a double shot of espresso, the instant variety is no longer a part of my vocabulary. It just doesn’t happen!

It’s Complicated!

There are Cappuccinos, and there are Cappuccinos! There are some that I struggle to describe in terms of real coffee and there are some that I would walk over broken glass to get to, well, almost. It comes down to how conscientious the Barista is about their craft – and believe me – pulling the perfect shot is almost an exact science. There is a little wriggle room, but not much. My heroes at RedWing Cafe have perfected the craft of pulling the perfect shot and consitently provide the ideal combination, every time. Steamed milk blended expertly with the perfect shot; what more could I ask?

Danielle greets everyone with the same great smile that says ‘Welcome! We’re glad you’re here.’

The Coffee Is The Best!

This is a great photo of Danielle but trust me, she looks even better with a large Cappuccino In her hand; as long as it has my name on it. Danielle, you make great coffee!

And it isn’t only about the taste of the coffee; RedWing Cafe provides the perfect place to sit, either alone or with friends, and just soak up the incredible atmosphere.

Just one of the beautiful tables handcrafted by the very talented Shawn

It’s About The Ambience …

From the amazing tables lovingly handcrafted by Shawn out of a maple tree that once shaded the owner’s backyard, to the menu that specifically caters for vegetarians and vegans but is equally enjoyed by those other people (the carnivores).

The menu caters for all tastes and a variety of dietary needs

Master Craftsman

I was lucky enough to be sitting at my favourite table when Shawn called in for a coffee. His craftmanship is reflected in so much of the outstanding decor at RedWing Cafe. Warmth and comfort emanate from every table and piece of timber on an otherwise cold, wet Seattle day.

Shawn called in for a coffee and stood humbly by one of the outstanding tables he carved for the cafe.

It all works to make RedWing Cafe my home away from home and the perfect place to write. My favourite writing-space is upstairs in either of the two back corners, but the downstairs section works just as well.

Ed is always ready with a smile and warm welcome

Everyone at RedWing Cafe makes a contribution to creating the perfect place to enjoy a great coffee and spectacular food.

Tyree takes care of the food department and makes the best Avocado Toast on the planet!

The combination of fabulous coffee, food and exceptional staff make RedWing Cafe the place to be in Seattle if you are in need of a great place to hang out.

Franky keeps everything running smoothly in the kitchen and dining room.

Franky, Tyree and Brett make sure hungry diners enjoy the best food, every time. Did I mention the Avocado Toast? You really haven’t lived until you’ve tried this RedWing Cafe speciality.

Brett creates another breakfast culinary masterpiece for a diner on-the-run

My apologies to the many people behind the scenes at RedWing Cafe that I either didn’t meet or have the opportunity to photograph; just know that you all contribute to creating a great dining experience and I thank you all sincerely.

Tristan is just one of the great Baristas who keep the coffee coming in my direction.

Thank You RedWing Cafe For Making A Difference

Judging by the people I meet at this amazing place, I’m not the only one whose life has been changed for the better by the staff at RedWing Cafe. I may only be passing through Seattle for a short time, but I will be holding up each and every one of the inspiring staff of RedWing Cafe as a yardstick by which to measure cafes in the future.

RedWing Cafe – I Thank You – And I Will Return

Ready to write!

To sit at my favourite table again and indulge in a Cappuccino and Avocado Toast, surrounded by such happy and dedicated people will be all the incentive I need to return to Seattle. I look forward to walking through the door and greeting you all with “G’Day – I’m Back!”

Until then, keep doing what you do best:

Making a difference in people’s lives, one coffee at a time, at RedWing Cafe

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 13 comments
Day 5 Blog Challenge – Advice

Day 5 Blog Challenge – Advice

“You know how advice is.
You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway.”

John Steinbeck.

My Advice? Take It Or Leave It!

  • Why do we seek advice
  • Who do we seek it from
  • And how likely are we to follow the advice given

When we ask for advice are we more likely to take it, or leave it?

This isn’t a researched-based article on the subject of advice – just the opinion of someone who has both offered and taken their share of advice over many decades.

Staring at the moon on a sleepless night …

My theory is that we seek advice when we face a dilemma of some sort: nothing more profound than that. While mulling over the options for solving the problem  – an activity usually undertaken in those early, sleep deprived hours before dawn – we often narrow the options down to just two possible solutions.

Facing Two Solutions

I used to watch a Game Show on TV called ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionnaire’. The competitor, chasing a large amount of money by successfully answering increasingly difficult questions, had the option of phoning a friend for advice once they had narrowed the challenge down to two possible answers. With the potential of taking home a million dollars, they were not going to phone just any friend; they would be very selective about whose number they dialled. Firstly, they would want to be reasonably sure the friend would pick up the phone, and secondly, they would want to be sure the friend was some sort of authority on the question being asked.

The same philosophy applies to seeking advice on any significant question. Trying to solve problems on our own can be a lonely and debilitating exercise, so it makes sense to find someone who will provide the support we need. The segment in the TV show was called ‘Phone A Friend’. And that’s what we usually do when we are forced to make a difficult decision outside of the game-show TV world (read – Real World!).

So What Is Real?

If we made a list of our personal characteristics and values and compared them to those of our friends, we would probably see more similarities than differences. So it would be a reasonably safe bet that we would turn to at least one of our friends for advice. Just like in the TV show, we’d be using availability and depth of knowledge on the subject as criteria for selection of which friend to call.

Problem Solved

So you make the call and your friend answers. You outline the problem, describe the possible solutions and wait anxiously for your friend’s response. After some probing questions for clarification and a few moments silence for pondering the points, your friend delivers the verdict. You listen, take in the advice, and thank your friend for their time and consideration.

Later, alone with your thoughts, you smile contentedly. The decision is made and you feel that a huge weight has been lifted from your shoulders. Your forward direction is signed, sealed and soon-to-be delivered. The world is a better place and your sleepless nights are a thing of the past.

BUT…….

Did you take the advice of your friend or take the other option?

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 0 comments
Day 4 Blog Post Challenge

Day 4 Blog Post Challenge

I believe in starting where I’m at…

It is Day 4 of the Blog Post Challenge, yet this is just my second blog post. By my calculations I still have another two posts to write today so that when the Day 5 Challenge lands in my inbox tomorrow, I’ll be ready for it. But for now, I will just start where I’m at and focus on the number ‘Four’. Four Seasons to be precise – or lack thereof.

Where I currently live, the seasons are neatly compartmentalised into four distinct categories: hot; cool; cold; warm. There is enough variation in the weather to justify cluttering up my wardrobe with those quirky three-quarter sleeve, light weight tops that are neither hot nor cold, depending on the season. But it hasn’t always been that way. I have lived in climates that have been singularly extreme: hot and hotter; and where there were only two categories: hot or cold.

My Island Adventure

For two years I called Penang home. It was two of the most memorable years of my life and I could happily have stayed there forever, but duty called me home. Penang is a tiny island off the mainland of Malaysia. There were only two variations in the weather: it was either hot, or hotter. The ceiling fans rotated at a rapid rate twenty four hours a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year. They never stopped!

Penang has one of those climates where you step out of the shower, dry yourself off, and within seconds you need to repeat the process. But I loved it! Friends would ask if I missed winter while living in such a hot climate and the response was always a resounding – No! I still hate winter with a passion, but that’s another story.

My Inland Adventure

In 2011 Central Queensland beckoned me. I loaded up my car, a small sedan, with everything that I considered to be essential for a six-month adventure, and I drove. The car was so heavily laden that when I stopped along the way to buy a supply of coffee beans, just in case I couldn’t buy them there, I had to be very creative about how to fit them in. Had I known what was in store for me, weather wise, I could have sacrificed all those quirky three-quarter sleeve tops and made room for more practical things, like more coffee beans.

Crickey! Another hot day!

Four Seasons?

I arrived in Moura late January. It was hot! And it stayed hot – very hot, until one day the weather Gods turned the heaters off. No warning, no transition; just no more heat. Summer ended and winter began with nothing more than a day between them. At the end of winter, summer began in the same way. The cold switched off and the summer heaters turned on without any warning. No Spring, just as there had been no Autumn. The three-quarter sleeve tops stayed safely stowed until I made my way back to a temperate climate. Despite the lack of four distinct seasons, my love of living in Central Queensland persuaded me to extend my six-month adventure to five fabulous years that are etched lovingly in my Most Memorable Years album.

Those Quirky Tops!

And those quirky three-quarter sleeve tops? I’m glad I kept them. For the past four distinct seasons in my new home, they have served me well.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 6 comments
Blog Post Challenge

Blog Post Challenge

The Pen Is Poised And The Gloves Are Off!

Let The Blog Post Challenge Begin

Today I signed up for a Blog Post Challenge – to post a blog each day of January. So, I’ve taken off the gloves, the virtual pen is poised, and I’m ready to write. Given that I’m already a few days behind, I either have to write fast to catch up, or resign myself to the fact that I’ve failed before I even begin. I’ll try the former but live with the latter if I have to.

Ready To Write…

It’s Personal

My idea of blogging is that it’s a personal thing, well, for me anyway. I don’t have a set theme for my blogs, apart from the majority of them just neatly slipping into a travel theme. But I like to think I’m a personal blogger – someone who just writes because it’s fun and it usually seems like a good idea at the time. So if you choose to follow me on this quest, don’t expect miracles because there won’t be any. I’ll just be plodding along, building up my mental muscles and stretching my creative biceps as I go.

Inspiration?

When I travel, my blog is filled with photos, held together with the memories of being there. Inspiration comes easy when you have stood in front of the magnificence of the Taj Mahal, or the splendour of the Bund and Shanghai Harbour at night.

Standing in front of the Taj Mahal

The Bund – Shanghai

Or ‘No Idea’?

When I am not travelling, my blog is interspersed with silent pauses as I sit in silence, wondering what the heck to write about.

My day usually starts with a ritual coffee on the verandah to ease into the morning, and continues with nothing more exciting than a trip to the mailbox.

So dear followers, if you are subjected to a flowery description of the path leading to the mailbox, you’ll know I’m home from whatever exotic island I’ve recently travelled to, and I have no idea where the next inspiring thought will come from. And this is indeed the blog post challenge.

The path to the mailbox

Time Will Tell

One my favourite songs by Air Supply is ‘Making Love Out Of Nothing At All’. Now let’s see how I go making a story out of nothing at all. Can I create a gripping read out of something as mundane as opening the mailbox? Will I post a blog a day with the Blog Post Challenge? Only time will tell.

Given that I’m already a few days behind, I either have to write fast to catch up, or resign myself to the fact that I’ve failed before I even start. I’ll try the former but live with the latter if I have to.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 2 comments
The Beauty Of Seattle

The Beauty Of Seattle

Traveling – it leaves you speechless,

then turns you into a storyteller.   Ibn Battuta

The beautiful buildings of Seattle have left me speechless many times, but the beauty of the city is not only in its buildings and parks, but in its people. Seattle has some amazingly beautiful people calling this spectacular place home.

There is something special about Christmas time at Macys

At every turn, while walking around Seattle, there is something spectacular to photograph. Macys stands out with its Christmas window display, shining star, and the snowflake lights depicting what is typically winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

It is magic!

Tiny lights transform this street into a magical scene.

The lights draped around the trees transform the streets into a winter wonderland.

Pike Place – Markets

And The Shopping…

The Pike Place Market is one of the more famous landmarks of Seattle. A gathering place for tourists and locals during the day, transforms into a trendy area to dine or just take in the view of the water on the other side of the market shops, at night. And who could forget seeing the Market sign in the scene from the movie, Sleepless In Seattle?

The famous Seattle Fish Market

This  fish market holds pride of place at the front of the market, and the fishmongers still toss the fish to each other, ready to be wrapped for the waiting customer. Performing for customers and throwing the fish to each other has made the Pike Place Fish Market world-famous.

Modern buildings dwarf the icon but the Space Needle is still quintessentially ‘Seattle’

Seattle Icons

Another, and possibly older icon, is the famous Space Needle. If you ever watched an episode of Frasier on TV, you will no doubt have seen the Space Needle through the apartment window and in the logo. What used to loom large is now dwarfed by much taller buildings, but the famous icon is still reminiscent of all things ‘Seattle’.

The photo doesn’t do justice to the beauty of snow falling on Christmas Eve in Seattle

And the highlight was?

Standing on 3rd Avenue on Christmas Eve and feeling the soft snowflakes falling on and around me. My first white Christmas and it was spectacular!

On a snowy Christmas Eve in Seattle

Christmas Day in Rainier Beach, Seattle

The beauty of Seattle is matched only by the beauty of the people who call this spectacular place home. Seattleites have seemingly been touched by the magic of the city and exude the magic in everything they do.

God Bless You Seattle!

No matter where I go in Seattle I meet people who exude sincere hospitality and support:- Jennifer, Shawn and Jackson, the wonderful hosts at the Airbnb; the bus driver who stopped his bus late one night, crossed the street, and made sure we were okay as we waited for the bus home; Anthony, Su and staff at Redwing Cafe who feed my daily caffeine needs and make the best Avocado Toast on the planet; the shy young man with the great smile at Steak ‘n Shake who makes the BEST Butterfinger milkshakes; the staff at CityMD where I took my injured wrist to be checked; and far too many more to mention in one post. I love you all!

Rob, the young man with the fabulous smile at Steak ‘n Shake.

You have turned a great holiday into an unforgettable memory of a beautiful city, and I thank you all sincerely.

And the highlight was standing on 3rd Avenue on Christmas Eve and feeling the soft snowflakes falling around me. My first white Christmas! It was spectacular.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 1 comment