Saturday, September 28, 2013


(I found this on Ellen's Facebook page and had to share it. Thanks!)

Friends of the Poor, Part 3

Thanks to everyone who donated for Ellie and me. We had a wonderful day, in the very typical Vancouver rain. We started at St. James church in downtown Vancouver with a beautiful prayer and blessing, ran in a big loop through the Columbia River waterfront area and then Fort Vancouver and back to the church.

Ellie ran way faster than me and finished twenty-ninth, just three minutes behind the high-school girls who took the first three places for the women.  Here's Ellie.

As I jogged and walked I met Muranda, who joined me for most of the run. Here she is at the end with her daughter and sister. Her daughter was among the top finishers for the youth.

All the money raised in this event will go directly to the poor and homeless in Vancouver and Camas, through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Carly's Training

SHE is training US. The latest: dissatisfied with our placement of her water dish, she tore it loose from the side of the cage, spilling all the water all over the newspaper in the bottom of the cage and the food in the nearby dish and the whole area around the cage . So after I cleaned it all up, I put the water dish on the other side and the food dish where the water dish used to be. She's happy now, and so are we.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fiction Friday: Sept. 27, 2013: Fortunately, The Milk

Fortunately, Neil Gaiman is still writing his fun and whimsical children's stories. Even more fortunately, this one is for the parents of elementary-school-age children, too. 

Would you believe your dad if he came back from the corner store, where he was supposedly just going to buy a carton of milk, hours later, with a story about being taken up in a space-and-time-ship operated (which looked like a hot-air balloon) by Professor Stegosaurus, a renowned inventor and thinker of prehistoric times?

Would you believe your dad if he said he accidentally touched together the same carton of milk from two times but instead of exploding the whole time-space continuum and ending the Universe, this touch only conjured up three purple-skinned, singing dwarfs who wore flower pots as hats?

Oh, you don't have to believe your dad's outlandish stories because you'll be reading this story, with its ingenious illustrations, to your own children...or to yourself, because you don't have to be a child to enjoy this.

Madame L found this book at her local Powell's, but you can get it for less than nine dollars in hardcover and even less than that for your Kindle, through Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

What Does the Fox Say?

Cute, but what do foxes really say? 


Cool, but that's not really what they say. Here's what foxes really say:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Friends of the Poor, Part 2

 I'll be joining Ellie in "running" (I'll actually be jogging/walking) the 5-K event on Saturday the 28th.

If you'd like to donate in either of our names, we'd be very grateful.

Here's where to go for Louise and here's where to go for Ellie. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

On This Mountain

I keep forgetting to mention that this poem was accepted and is now on display in a show, "The Intersection of Art and Poetry," at the Gallery 360 in Vancouver.  The show runs through Sept. 29.  (Anyone who knows about the training and events I've been doing this year will recognize the inspiration for the poem.)

On This Mountain

When the pain broke me
but I kept on,
When keeping on crushed me
but I climbed on,
When climbing on burned my lungs
but I breathed on:

Then the light seeped through
the cracks of my blindness
and changed what I thought I knew.
On this burning mountain,
this was where I could say
even the smallest thing I saw without
even trying.
And seeing and saying changed everything around me--
even me,
and even the spaces,
the empty spaces
around me, and the seeping light,
and that smallest thing I’d seen and said.

Only looking down from this burning mountain
could I see that
peace really is like a river
and love is the answer to something
and my theory of everything
is correct.

And that theory is this:
Tears may hurt or not
but they always dry up.

     ----Louise Wynn

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Friends of the Poor

My friend Ellie will be running in the first annual Vancouver-Camas Friends of the Poor 5K Walk-Run on Sept. 28.

There's no registration fee since the point is to raise money for the Vancouver Society of St. Vincent de Paul, an organization that provides food, clothing, shelter and other forms of assistance to people in need.*

I think I'll join her. Maybe I won't run the whole way, but do some combination of jogging and walking. Or maybe I'll just be there at the finish line to cheer for her!

If you'd like to donate to Ellie, here's where to do it. Please help!

*I remember buying clothes and household goods from the good ladies of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in various places I've lived throughout my life, and being so grateful to them for what they do and have done for me and many others.

Here's more information about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.  

And here's information about the life of Vincent de Paul, venerated as a saint by Roman  Catholics and Anglicans (and of course honored by everyone for his work for the poor).

RATS, Sept. 14, 2013

Megan and I did it: Officially, 30 miles in the "Ride Around the Sound" bicycle ride sponsored by the American Lung Association, on Saturday, September 14.

Since Megan's longest bike ride to that point had been 13 miles, we decided to do just the 30-mile section from Tacoma to the Southworth ferry terminal.

Somewhere on that beautiful route
Cory couldn't make it after all, as he had work all day---he'd already been at work for more than 2 hours by the time we picked up Megan to drive up to Tacoma. Jeff, as always, drove us up there, helped us do everything we needed to do, and then drove around the route to meet us, shout encouragement, and take photos whenever he could.

We got to ride across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge about 5 minutes into the ride, and then rode through the most beautiful countryside ever. 

We took it easy, wanting to make it a fun experience, not the kind of thing that would make us wonder why we had ever even bought a bike. That's why we didn't do the whole 75-mile loop from Seattle to the ferry and why we didn't add on the Leg-Buster Loop at the end.
Arriving at the ferry terminal

Bikes loaded, ready to board the ferry
This guy thinks he's going to drive the truck!

On our way to Seattle, passing Vashon Island
I can't say enough about how amazing and awesome Megan is! As I said before, this was the longest ride she'd done, and it was more than twice as long as her longest up to that point. At one point she admitted, "My legs are burning," but she rode hard and kept up. 

As always on these kinds of events, we met lots of really nice people, including Anne, a new employee in the Seattle office of the American Lung Association, who was riding in honor of her grandfather, who died of lung cancer before she could even meet him.

And the nice lady waiting in line at the ferry terminal, who let her dog sit behind the steering wheel until it was time to drive on board.

Next year, all four of us are going to do the whole 75-mile loop (at least) --- and that's a promise!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Agreeing with Putin?

I find myself in the surprising position of agreeing with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue of U.S. intervention in Syria.

Here's what Putin wrote in the New York Times.  And here's what I think he's right about:
1. The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism.

2. Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition. There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government... This internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world.

3. No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.

4. It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”

5. No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect.

6. We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.

7. If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.

Danny Lewin: A Hero on AL Flight 11

I just read about Danny Lewin, who was the first victim on 9/11. I think it's worth reading his story. 

In case you don't want to follow the link, here are some of the details: After Danny Lewin's family moved to Israel when he was 14 years old, he "fought to fit in with the Israeli sabras (tough guys)," eventually joining the Sayeret Mat'kal, Israel's elite counter-terrorism unit. Eventually he went to MIT for graduate school, and while he was there he came up with some algorithms he called “consistent hashing,"  which have been used since to speed up Internet transactions.

More of the story from
On the morning of 9/11, Lewin was scheduled to travel to Los Angeles for a business meeting for Akamai. Just after dawn, he kissed his wife and kids goodbye and drove to Logan to catch Flight 11. He was sleep-deprived, having spent most of the night occupied with the grim task of laying people off to save Akamai. Yet he remained cheerful and energetic, calling the office from the tarmac and chatting with Akamai’s attorney until the moment the flight attendants asked him to shut down for takeoff.
The moment Lewin’s friends, family and co-workers learned of his death, they say they had no doubts about what happened during his final moments. Before any facts or official reports about the events of 9/11 had been released, everyone who knew him well believed with certainty that he tried to stop the terrorists from carrying out the hijacking. It wasn’t just the fact that he was physically imposing; sheer muscle from head to toe. It was also the fact that Lewin was a trained warrior who never went down without a fight.

Because of Akamai, almost every major news site remained up and running that day, a feat that proved everything Danny promised to be possible. Today, Akamai is responsible for more than 30 percent of the world’s Internet traffic, and for keeping giants like iTunes and Facebook running smoothly.

But it isn’t just Akamai that Danny Lewin left behind. He left a family, all of whom continue to mourn his loss and honor him in every day life. He left behind countless friends and co-workers, many of them battle-hardened warriors in business or the military. To this day, most of them still can’t speak about him without choking back tears for the buoyant, brilliant computer scientist who changed their lives and inspired them never to fall behind.
I see that a book has been written about Danny Lewin, "No Better Time," by Molly Knight Raskin. I'm going to check it out of my local library and read it.* I'm not interested in biographies of famous people, but I do like to know more about people who have lived in my own lifetime and who have done something to save the world. And even though Danny Lewin couldn't single-handedly stop the hijackers of Flight 11, he did what he could, and more than most people would even have tried. And his work, before that day, has lived on, too.

In fact, according to one reviewer, if it were not for Akamai, the company Lewin founded, all the major US news sites would have been completely down on 9/11 and for days thereafter; and today Akamai carries 30% of all internet traffic.

*Oops, not available in my library. I guess I'll buy a copy. And then Madame L will review it, and then she'll pass it along to anyone else who would like to read it.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What America Is All About

After the post about 9/11, I think it's good to watch something like this. The Army guy has it right. And so do most of the other people in our country.

Sept. 11, 2001

No, I haven't forgotten. Twelve years ago and I still haven't forgotten. I still think of that day almost every day of my life, although I haven't had the nightmares for awhile now.

I still think of my friend Marta and how we walked to the Metro station through people who were running and crying, crossed streets jammed with cars that couldn't get anywhere.  I think of the people on that train who would have been in the Pentagon that day except for some meeting they'd had to attend in D.C., who didn't know what had happened to friends, family members, and colleagues who were in the Pentagon.

I still pray for those families of those who died that day. 

I still thank God for the brave passengers on Flight 93 who, I'm sure, saved my life and the lives of hundreds or even thousands of people working near Capitol Hill. When I get to Heaven --- I'm sure that's where they will be, and I hope I make it there --- I want to look for them to thank them personally.

I still can't write much more about this, not yet. It's still a chaotic incoherent mess in my mind, but it makes me think again of who my heroes are. They are people who are willing to sacrifice themselves for a great and a true cause and for the lives of other people. It's not that they're not afraid, but they have the strength of character to conquer their fear and do what is right. (So the so-called suicide bombers, who are really homicide bombers, and the cowards like Osama bin Laden who direct them, are the opposite of heroes, because their cause is wrong, and killing people in the name of a God who never asked that of them is wrong.)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Aluminum Woman, Sept. 7, 2013 (More Photos)

Some photos Jeff took from the day:

First thing they did was write my number on both arms and legs.
I did end up cutting about 3 cm off the the sleeves and legs of the wetsuit.
Thanks to Aishah for the awesome Trinity College Dublin hat!

Jeff took this movie as I finished the run.What's amazing to me is that I was still able to run/jog at that point. I admit I didn't run much on that final portion of the event, but jogged most of it and walked some. I would establish a good jogging rhythm, and then hit a wall, and lose it, but then get going again. But, like I said, I'll do much, much better next year.

Aluminum Woman, Sept. 7, 2013

I accomplished my goal, which was to complete the Aluminum Man Triathlon, my first-ever triathlon. It took everything I had, all my training and conditioning, both physical and mental, to make it. No kidding, it was hard. Next year, I've promised myself, I'll do much, much better. And I'll be doing more of these before next September, and of course continuing to train and condition myself.

So many people were supporting me. First of all was my wonderful husband Jeff, who took me to the Washington side of the Columbia River eight (8!) times in the weeks leading up to the triathlon so I could get used to swimming in the river, and paced out the distances and walked along next to me encouraging me; and who took me to the Heritage Trail at Lacamas Lake uncountable times so I could jog there and even jogged with me for a mile the last time even though his knee was swollen and hurting; and who got my bike ready for me so I wouldn't worry about flats and whatever.  Oh, yeah, and he drove me over to The Dalles three weeks before the event so we could ride the bike route together and then he waited for me while I did the running route.

Then there was my awesome trainer Derek, who helped me get stronger and faster on the bike and in running and in overall strength, helped me build speed and endurance, told me what I needed to work on outside of training, checked up on my progress, and helped me prepare mentally. He was even planning to go to The Dalles for the triathlon until I told him, "Hey, it's the day before your birthday, stay home and enjoy your family, and Jeff will text you."

This is the first message Derek sent to Jeff.

So they did that: Derek sent encouragement for Jeff to read to me and/or show to me, and Jeff texted him photos and progress reports throughout the morning.

And then there were my friends from spin class and boot camp and church. So many people called and texted and e-mailed me, and Ronda and Joan even drove over to The Dalles to cheer for me in person. By the way, a special shout out to Ronda, who was my inspiration for even attempting this. She is an amazing example for me, and it made a huge difference to see both of them there as I started the swim, at each transition, and then at the end.

I even had a cheering squad all the way from Salt Lake City, Utah, sending their love the night before the triathlon. Note the progression as short attention spans reach their limits.

I'll post some photos from the event itself soon.

By the way, next Saturday Megan and Cory and I are doing the RATS (Ride Around the Sound) to raise money for the American Lung Association.

Here's my page, and Megan's page, and Cory's page.  And then, there will be even more goals to accomplish....for updates, check here, same bat-time, same channel...

Friday, September 6, 2013


So now we have six wonderful, beautiful and amazing small parrots in our home. Carly is the first one who didn't come to us as a gift or semi-rescue parrot.

The people at the pet store named this sun conure Carl, but they told us they don't know who chose that name or why, and don't know if "it" is a male or female. We think she's a girl, so we're calling her Carly. But even if she isn't (and we're not sure if or when we'll have her/him tested), Carly will be a good name.

The people at the pet store had taken good care of Carly, taught her tricks*, and most importantly taught her to trust people. You could see they really loved her as they all gathered around to say good-bye to her and asked us to let them know how she likes her new home.

*The tricks they taught Carly: "Dead Bird," "No Bite" (!), "Wing," and "Foot."

We're now teaching her "Kiss," "Okay, Enough Kisses," "Dance," "Step Up," "Step  Down," and "Share." We think we'll be able to teach her some human words, as she listens to us imitate her squawks and gurgles and then repeats them after us.

Carly and Mada are starting to get along already, as we remind Mada to "Be Nice," a trick he is still learning, and Carly to "Share," a trick she never had to do in the pet store.

More photos will follow!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Diana Nyad: Find a Way

More on Diana Nyad:

This was her FIFTH attempt to make that swim from Cuba to Florida.

She said, "Never, ever give up." Sound familiar? (I watched her interview with someone from CBS News and was astounded that they interrupted her right in the middle of her saying she was "more of a human spirit story than a sports story."

They did let her finish saying that her mantra was, "Find a way."

In yesterday's paper I read these three messages she had for the world:
The 64-year-old Nyad swam up to the beach just before 2 p.m. EDT, about 53 hours after starting her journey from Havana on Saturday....

"I have three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you're never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team," she said on the beach....
It was Nyad's fifth attempt and what she had said would be her last try to complete the approximately 110-mile swim. She tried three times in 2011 and 2012. Her first attempt was in 1978.

Thank you, Diana Nyad, for these three messages and for the even greater message of your heroic example.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Another Hero: Diana Nyad

From NPR:

Updated At 2:06 pm EST. Nyad Reaches Key West:

Jellyfish stings, an asthma attack and sheer exhaustion all stopped Diana Nyad in the past. But on her fifth try, the 64-year-old Nyad became the first person to swim unaided from Cuba to Florida, a distance of more than 100 miles.
Thank you Diana Nyad for being such an inspiration to me and everyone!

More from the NPR report:
Nyad made her first attempt in 1978 — in a shark cage — but came up short. She then gave up long-distance swimming for decades. In her 60s, she has made another push. In three previous attempts since 2011, jellyfish stings, an asthma attack and shoulder pain kept her from reaching Key West.
This time, she wore a full bodysuit to protect her from stings.
As notes, Australian Susie Maroney made the Cuba-Florida swim in 1997 at the age of 22 using a shark cage, which not only protects the swimmer, but also helps pull the swimmer along and makes the water less choppy.
And Walter Poenish, who was 84 at the time, claimed he made the swim in 1978 with the help of a shark cage and the use of flippers.
The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame does not recognize either of those crossings because they were aided.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sitting in Church

“Anyone who thinks sitting in church can make you a Christian must also think that sitting in a garage can make you a car.” —Garrison Keillor

(from my niece Nancy, with thanks!)