Slice of life March 6

The internet is not a fast thing on the island of Iona. Our retreat group is staying at a place called the Bishops House and it is a lovely place to be but the internet is only strong in one room and of course everyone hops on the internet at the same time. So the wheel spins and pages load very slowly.

Blessing – I’m not up to date about what is going on in the world.

Desolation – I’m not up to date about what is going on in the world.

What I do know is that it was a gorgeously sunny day here, cold and breezy with water azur blue and sheep looking especially white and fluffy in the pastures. I’m getting to know the women here on the retreat and the magic is beginning to happen. I come to retreats and the first day I wonder how I’ll ever be comfortable with a group of strangers for a whole week. And by the 2nd or 3rd day, we are getting to know each other, vulnerability and true delight happen.

Yesterday I arrived by ferry and promptly went on a 6 mile hike over mixed terrain to Columba bay. Today I went on a more leisurely stroll to north beach. I am getting so many steps on my fitbit that my watch is giving me awards for being this active 4 days in a row. My legs are feeling it and my cheeks are a little wind and sun burned.

I went out to see the stars last night. Oh my goodness! It is supposed to get really windy over the next two days and the rain is coming. But now that I’m getting to know my housemates, I’m looking forward to being cozied up in discussion and reflection.

One bummer though – I didn’t bring yarn to knit and I’ve heard the yarn store on the island might not be open. I was so hoping to buy some Iona yarn and begin knitting.

Pictures tomorrow – they take forever to load.

Slice of Life March 4

The sun was shining, the sky was blue with clouds in the distance and the views around Oban were outstanding.

We discovered at breakfast time that our B&B was really just a ”B” so we walked into town and found a great little spot serving different kinds of breakfast scones, coffee and tea, all that was needed to start another day in Scotland. Jean hadn’t slept very well and was up at midnight texting her husband and thinking about how we might spend our day today. She had a great plan and since I knew it was going to be a great day for pictures and walking around town, I was eager to go along with her ideas.

After breakfast we walked around the little traffic circle, poking our heads into some of the shops. Jean found a great painting to send back home and I found some smaller cards I might like to frame. There was a shop full of all kinds of wool and woolens and a sewing and yarn shop. But the yarn wasn’t anything special so I wasn’t tempted.

After visiting the post office, we walked around the curve of the bay towards Dunollie Castle. The castle wasn’t open but we saw Fingal’s Dogstone on the way and read the legend about how a giant tied his dog up to the stone and the circling dog chiseled away the bottom of the stone.

Fingal’s Dogstone, Dunollie castle in background

On the way back towards town we were looking at a little stone stairway headed up the hillside and these 3 ladies walking past encouraged us to head up it. Just take it slow they said, it will come back down on the other side and the views are lovely. So we did! The grove of trees on the way up cast great shadows and looked wonderful against the sky. There was a little rope swing on the far side and we each took a swing hoping it wouldn’t break beneath our weight!

cant figure out how to rotate on this ipad

Next stop was a bottle of water and a hike up to McCaig’s tower – a folly built by some rich guy that is extremely picturesque and offers great views of the whole town.

Lunch of soup and bread, tour of Oban whiskey distillery, small break back at our B and we were ready for dinner. 15,000 steps before 5 pm. There were a group of those traveling on this retreat gathering at EE Usk, a famous fish restaurant, and we joined them enjoying our dinner and meeting some of the women we had only seen on Zoom so far.

A little sliver of the moon showed up tonight. Tomorrow we take the ferry we saw earlier today.

And the last member of our retreat group made it to Oban today after her plane got cancelled twice and she had to begin again in Seattle. Poor woman!

It is so bazarre to be on this trip at a time when the rest of the world is going nuts but if nature and being outside is a remedy for craziness than I am getting a great dose of it.

Slice of Life March 3

Yesterday met all my expectations for a first day in Glasgow. We found a coffee place right across the street and I got a latte that was satisfactory enough to power me through the morning. We walked about 3 miles to the Necropololis- a Victorian cemetary on a hill just beyond the Mungo cathedral which was also beautiful to look at.

Little bits of charm on the way there – seeing a kindergarten class cross the road and enter their school, chatting with two older ladies to make sure we were headed in the right direction and also to 3 muscular young men who were working on the outside of the buildings about the kinds of repair they were doing. We found a cool little pocket garden in a container built to look like a big apothecary cabinet.

We left the cemetery around 11 with enough time to walk back to our reservation for tea. But it turns out there are two tea places by the same name and we ended up at a different one and past our reservation time. Luckily we were able to get a table and enjoy the 3 story tea tray and a conversation with our young server named Cuiran from Ireland. He was excited to find out we were from Washington – we couldn’t quite understand how he got excited about our state but we had a fun conversation with him. He confirmed our travel plans to the Botanical gardens and told us we should go to a bar named Tabac that he highly recommended so we stashed our leftover tea food in our hotel room, caught the subway to the gardens and encountered our first rain as we walked to the glasshouses.

Inside it was steamy and deserted and we had a quiet stroll among all the tropical things growing there as we read the historical panels that told the history of the gardens. The gardens got locked up as we were on our way out so good timing on our part. The subway was an easy catch back to down town and we went searching for the bar. It took us awhile – Glasgow has streets and then lanes with the same name and its a bit confusing but we finally found it in one of those little lanes and had a drink and another conversation with locals. That mother and son recommended a pasta place right down the way so we went there for dinner and felt so lucky to have gotten such amazing tips from locals on our first day.

I had a lousy night of sleep however – I don’t know what time zone I’m operating on right now! It’s not Seattle time and it’s not Scotland time. Maybe somewhere in between. Today we traveled by train to Oban. I love train rides, actually anything where I get to travel and look at the scenery. I feel like the Scotland landscape I am seeing looks like eastern Washington foothills on the shores of Puget sound, like a big version of the Orcas Island. Oban looks quaint on its curved bay and are excited to explore more tomorrow.

Slice of Life March 2

I’m having trouble connecting my slice to Two Writing Teachers so I think this slice will just have to be my own experience. Although I follow other slicers and some follow me, it will be a different kind of experience this year – more intimate, as they say…..and I won’t be doing the commenting on other slicer’s writing like I usually try to do.

I arrived in Scotland yesterday. The ”before” part of this trip is that I signed up to go on a women’s retreat to Iona, Scotland in August of 2019. Two women that I know were organizing the trip and the goal was to gather 18-20 women and go on a retreat to Iona in March 2021. The women would be coming from different places but we were hoping to connect a bit before we all left on this adventure.

Then Covid came, and the lockdown, and zoom times took over the before-times and the organizers of the retreat suggested we wait a year – not abandon the trip but just put it off a year. So that happened. Some people dropped out of the trip – for all kinds of reasons but some of them for health concerns. New people who had been on a waiting list joined up.

We zoomed a bit over the course of the year. My original roommate was one who had to quit for health reasons and so I was assigned a new roommate, Jean. I was happy because I like her, but we both wondered if the trip would really happen.

Jean and I met together when Starbucks opened up after being locked down and sketched out some ideas for a little trip before the week in Iona. I felt so lucky to have been assigned a traveler who was interested in the same things I was and easy going about planning together. By last summer we both felt like the trip was going to become a reality and we began identifying hotels and flight days. We booked flights in November and then Omicron hit.

But I think by then we knew this retreat was going to go forward and we were just going to have to stay healthy, get boosted and tested and plan for a bit of craziness. We lucked out because the UK dropped the need for test before you fly. But finding a way to test before we returned to the US became a nightmare weekend of Googling and talking to other travelers.

We had a final zoom with the other women going on the trip on February 12th and I don’t think I really started to get excited until then. Now I’m here and the night long and day long travel bits to go from Seattle to Glasgow were not fun and I was exhausted but I felt proud that I made it.

Today was our first day totally in Glasgow and it was great. But now that I’ve caught myself up on writing the beginning of this journey, I need to go to bed. I’ll have to do more writing to catch up about today. But I’ll do that tomorrow.

SOL 3/1/22

I’m going to try to participate in the Slice of Life challenge this year – my 10th – but I began a trip to Scotland today and I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep up writing on this blog over the time of my trip. I have to keep track of time zones and wifi access and then the extra copy paste, right and left click craziness to load things on to my blog as well as copy and paste into the Two Writing Teachers website. I’m not using my usual technology on this trip and so an extra challenge to pay attention to.

Today was too long – especially because it began 24 hours ago on a flight from Seattle to London and finally to Glasgow. I’m exhausted and so I’m doing my best to get into this time zone but the reality is, I’m headed to bed.

More to say about this trip and whatever tomorrow brings – tomorrow.

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April 20 Poem #2

This poem was inspired by Stacie at Girl Griot who is using the “Golden Shovel” format for her poetry this month. I happen to have a favorite Lucille Clifton poem and decided to try my own.

I’ve chosen the first line: I am not done yet

Time keeps flowing on and I
continue to struggle with who I am.
Everyday shows me who I am not.
I know it is not about what I get done
but more about the power of “yes” and “not yet.”

April 5 Poem #1

I really admire those who post poetry during this month and since I’m trying to do more poetry writing this year, I’ve decided I can participate in the challenge too. So I’m going to aim for every 5th day.


She goes looking with her fingertips along the fence
raking away the dead leaves and branches collected there.

Running her fingers over the muddy soil,
she is not even sure what to look for.

What did they look like last fall when she pushed them into the dirt?
What are they supposed to look like now?

Discouraged, she stops searching and returns to the house.
“Mom, I think I killed them,” she says over the phone.

The two of them walk across the wet grass.
Side by side, they prod the dirt looking for signs of life.

It was such a wet and nasty winter, I’m sure they haven’t survived.
I’m sure we will find them honey, just give it some time.

Finally, their fingers find the stiff stalks in the ground,
poking up out of the soft, moist darkness.

Barely discernible, nestled in between the gnarled roots,
little red peony buds.

See honey-bun, they made it.
There’s more to come.


Every time I get to the end of this month of writing I am amazed that 31 days have passed. This year I’ve noticed a more consistent rhythm as far as when I start to think about opening my computer, trying to identify what I might want to write about, always watching the clock because it’s so easy to hit pumpkin time on the west coast.

Looking back over my entries this month, I would say there were only a half dozen entries with content that was being called out of me. I think that is more a result of this month being so busy with things I don’t want to write about rather than a factor of not having inspiration. I could probably fill up an entire page of prompts I don’t want to respond to!

Every year I look forward to reconnecting with bloggers I’ve become familiar with over time. I look forward to finding their entries. I’ve realized it is becoming more challenging to find some because the list has become so long and my eyes go buggy looking for their names. Even if I don’t find them every day, it is comforting to know they have showed up just like me for another year of the challenge.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers. Thank you to Julianne who turned me on to this site 10 years ago. Thank you to Pia and Stacy who I checked in with each day and Carla who gave such thoughtful feedback this year. Thank you to those others who took time to leave comments. Thank you to my mom who always wants to know “the rest of the story.”

And thank you to the rest of you who are out there writing and teaching young people to write and practicing your passion every day in the best and the worst of times.

Cheers to future writers and I’ll see you next year…. or maybe every so often throughout the year.



I was face to face and in the home of a child today!!

I was only going to deliver some paperwork to the family for them to sign but the grandma invited me in and I couldn’t refuse!! The dogs climbed all over me, the child hid behind the kitchen counter – for just a bit – and I sat – I SAT! – in a chair in the living room.

The child came out from behind the counter and brought over his Spiderman figure to show me and the littlest dog climbed behind me in the chair and I talked with grandma and made big eyes at the little guy with his toys.

And it was delightful and even though I had a mask on and my glasses were steaming up and half way through the visit I realized grandma didn’t have a mask on, I just went with it.

She’s had one half her vaccine, I’ve had two halves of mine, the child doesn’t know what’s going on, the dogs just want to cuddle – this is what it’s going to be like for awhile.

I’m glad that I’m fine with this half in and half out stuff.
I’ll wash my hands and change my clothes and try hard not to transfer anything.
I’m so happy to see a little face and the 3 dimensional body of a toddler!

I’m dying to do more than make big eyes with this little guy. I’m dying to spend more than 15 minutes in a living room with the door open. I’m dying to do what I used to do and to do it without thinking about masks, and gel and transfer.