Whether You’re First or Last, We All Get the Same Shirt!

The rhododendron is a relative of the azalea, which is prolific in Houston — a link between the old and the new in our lives!

Last weekend was the Rhody Festival here in heavenly Port Townsend. “Rhody,” for those not in the know, is short for “Rhododendron,” and the plants were more than happy to show off their vivid, colorful blooms in response to their special week. From bed races to kiddie parades and a carnival, the Rhody Festival is a slice of small-town life not to be missed by newbies such as ourselves.

Sunday was the Rhody Run, a 12-kilometer (roughly 7.5 miles) journey along town streets, into the woods, and the occasional water view. In a moment of insanity community spirit, I signed hubby and I up for it. We are not runners — neither of us enjoys the pounding on our knees. We are hikers, though, and enjoy our long walks, so why not?

We added another two or so miles to our journey by walking to and from the start, where we joined 2,00o+ of our new best friends in this quest for…what was it, exactly? I guess we were feeling the pull of “I climbed the mountain because it was there.” We could have stayed home and gazed out the view room, where it was warmer and drier!

Of the 102 women in my age group, 29 finished behind me. Only six finished behind the hubby. Our stats looked better among those who walked the course, but still. And then there was the woman who appeared to be at least 20 years older than I who was not only jogging the course, but backtracking at times to add distance to her run. Every time she left us in the dust yet again, hubby would look at me and whine. Me? I want to be like her when I grow up.

Vivid color is everywhere! This photo was taken at Butchart Gardens near Victoria, B.C.

Though late to the finish line, we got there, and we got there faster in large part because we were surrounded by others. We wanted to keep up the pace. There’s nothing like a little peer pressure to speed up the legs! At the end, we walked hand in hand across the finish line as the announcer said, “Now crossing the finish line: Henry Feldman!” (Yeah, all that and I didn’t even get to hear my name — grrr.)

Along the course, several locals had stood at the edge of the road to cheer us on. Signs promised inspiration, such as reminders that there would be beer at the end of the course. The one that stood out for me the most was, “Whether You’re First or Last, We All Get the Same Shirt!”

I loved getting that shirt. It’s a navy blue quick-dry material, with a fiesta of flowers. I earned that shirt, and I’m going to love wearing it!

Maybe we don’t just walk the course “because it’s there.” Maybe we need to be reminded about how our lives are like the Rhody Run. We don’t have to compete to be good enough. We walked our race and were pleased with our times. We finished the walk; we didn’t quit. Most importantly, we surrounded ourselves with people who helped us be better, just from the benefit of their presence and experience.
As a writer, I am, of course, looking for an audience. That process, like my walking, is often slower than I would like. Each book has its own gestation time that can’t be rushed. Even the blogging continues to morph over time as I seek my particular niche. In the meantime, I watch as some wonderful bloggers are breaking through and building bigger audiences. I cheer them as they run by, even though a little part of me says, “Will I ever have that?” Then there are the authors who pop out books like rabbits making babies, working at an astonishing clip. I will never be that kind of author.
The scent of lilacs wafts into our home through open windows.

And yet, I keep walking. I keep writing. I get discouraged at times, but I get up every morning and do it all over again. I study and work on my craft. And even when that little voice of jealousy perks up, I still enjoy and appreciate the beauty of those who run while I walk. Their success only shows me what is possible with persistence and work. I bow in admiration! In the meantime, many of you have sent me warm, encouraging messages, and I have found friends among my readers — something I value more than you know. It’s a rich journey that I’m grateful to take, even if the success of it takes a different form from what I expected.

You see, I’ve figured out one thing. Whether you’re first or last, we all get the same shirt. Might as well stay on the course!

Nothing like a parade (complete with fresh caramel corn bought from an enterprising vendor) to bring out the kid in all of us!

I Said I’d Never Talk About Fashion

When a teacher of mine suggested that I find a more narrow focus for my blog, I said, “Well, it’s for women at midlife and beyond, and we’re complex.” I am interested in too many things to limit myself, and I think many women of my age feel the same way. I decided, then, that I would meander a little, exploring and sharing whatever I found interesting — and to trust that the audience I would attract would be those women, and some men, apparently, who aren’t just interested in One Thing.

I was absolutely certain about One Thing, though. “I won’t EVER write about fashion!”

I meant it at the time. I don’t enjoy shopping, and I’m not particularly girly. But then I discovered hats and made an exception. Once done with that, though, I retreated once again into my declaration. I won’t EVER write about fashion again!”


I figured I came well prepared to Washington State with my convertible pants for hiking and multiple layers. In this part of the world, we’re a pretty casual bunch, so even though I have limited wardrobe right now (moving van is headed our way!), I have managed to be comfortable.

Then I noticed that many of the ladies in town wear scarves. Shoot, a lot of the guys do, too, and it gives them that cool, casual European look. “Hmm,” I thought. Even my Puritan brain thought, “Okay, they seem to serve an actual purpose of keeping people warm.”

In the interest of looking as though I’m “in the know,” I purchased a selection of scarves at a local store:

A Swirl of Scarves

So, I’ve bought a few more hats — also handy to have when the wind blows. Done, right? Now I can move off the fashion topic?

Not so fast.

Last weekend, Port Townsend held its annual Victorian Festival, celebrating Port Townsend’s rich Victorian history. The town is dotted with picturesque Victorian homes and buildings, created at a time when high hopes were held for Port Townsend to become a major center for commerce.

For the festival, many residents enjoy dressing in full Victorian costume for the events that include a fashion show and ball.  Here’s a link to some cool local residents who love to dress this way year-round — and no one here bats an eyelash, which is one big reason we love living here.

Hubby and I, being a little late to the party, attended just a few events, and wore our normal wardrobe. We wouldn’t miss the Victorian tea, though. We’ve been to a few at the Empress in Victoria, so we were excited about a local version. This one was held at the Blue Gull Inn B&B, and several of the ladies (hubby was the only guy) were resplendent in gorgeous gowns of taffeta and lace, with hats, gloves, the works. (Note: I apologize I did not get photos of these gorgeous gals. If I run across any, I will pass them along.)

If you haven’t been to a Victorian high tea, run to your first opportunity! Besides sipping elegant teas, you get to eat finger sandwiches and all kinds of goodies. Here’s the dessert tray to entice you:

High Tea Desserts! Yum!










Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Anyone?










We had a great time, though I confessed to feeling underdressed and promised my new buds that next year I would be better prepared. After that I started shopping online…I’m thinking a daywear dress and perhaps an evening gown

Who knew I would be pondering my own Victorian wardrobe? My God, if this keeps up I may end up writing about *gasp* shoes!