about.me

Do You Remember Your First Birthday?

I started this blog on October 24, 2013.  Almost exactly one year ago.  I have now posted over 100 stories which in some ways surprises even me.  I didn’t know I had so much that I wanted to say.

I  did learn quickly however that blogs are not one size fits all and I began two other blogs; The Expat Cafe and Lean, Mean and Vegan, mostly because I felt that I had different audiences I wanted to speak too and I wanted an avenue to do just that.

I only post two blog entries a week on each blog and while that might seem like a lot to some of you I follow blogs that post not only once a day but several times in that day.  Wow!  Where do they find the time to be creative or in staying motivated?

While I do have a list of story ideas on my calendar that take me well into 2015 on this blog, and I’m adding new story ideas all the time, I do not contemplate ending this blog anytime soon.

I will be blowing out a candle this week to celebrate my first birthday.  Now that I’ve learned to do the blog walk, let’s see how far I can run…

Happy Birthday to me.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Happy Birthday to me. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Florence Lince

about.me/florencelince

 

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Creative Outlets

When I was younger it was all the rage to have a diary. In fact, I was given a diary on my eleventh birthday and I remember being pretty excited about having a place to keep my personal thoughts, ideas and dreams.

I had no illusions that I would be able to write anything as compelling as Anne Frank did or even pen the outline for the great American novel in my diary. However, I did think I was destined to be a journalist when I grew up.

Perhaps it was my youth, perhaps it was my naivete, perhaps it was just not the right time for me, but when I did try to write in that diary I realized I had nothing to say. I was advised by the giver of the diary to write about my day, my dreams, my problems, even my life. I would have, except it was all downright boring.

I realized that I did not want to spend my time writing about the chores I completed, the books I read, the homework I needed to do, or the fights with family or friends I had that day. Writing it all down seemed like a colossal waste of time. I then decided that the diary would be for super special events in my life and I put it away in a drawer.

Fast forward to 2004 and the advent of Facebook, the whole world’s diary – a place where people share the chores they accomplished that day, the fights they had with family and friends, the books they read and what score they received on the latest on-line game.

My yearning to share and write went beyond Facebook and I needed an outlet to share my thoughts, and so my blogs were born. In the beginning I decided that I had something to say and I wanted an outlet to say it and so I became the journalist I wanted to be. Although I am not paid by some famous newspaper to share my thoughts, I do write about those things that mean something to me; I write about the people I meet when I travel internationally or even just when tootling around town. I write about what it feels like to be part of the human race. Mostly I write about things that mean the most to me in no particular order and in no particular rank of importance.

Everyone needs a creative outlet I suppose. I just wish so much of what gets shared on some of these outlets was really worthy of my time. I am pretty selective in what I read and even more so on what I respond to, which is why I dumped Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. I just figured that reading someone’s private diary is not what I should be spending my time on.

I wish there were a way – gently – to tell people that they do not need to share their private diary entries with the whole world. There is a reason a diary came with a lock and a key; some things should just remain private.

I do not know what happened to that first diary I received all those years ago. I do know I never filled its pages with my hopes, my dreams, or the places I hoped to travel to. My blogs are now my creative writing outlet and I try to remember that blog posts are not a dumping ground for what should be a diary entry. Besides, I’m sure they have a Facebook app for that.

Florence Lince

About.me/florencelince

 

An Expat Still Has The Right to Vote

I hope my blog story is not a surprise to the thousands of American’s living outside of the United States. Unless you have given up American citizenship you are still entitled to vote in every mid-term and Presidential election, even if you no longer live here full-time.

Mike and I haven’t been in the United States for the past three elections – be they mid-term or Presidential. That however has never stopped us from casting our vote. We were in the country of Panama in 2012 when we cast our vote in the Presidential election.

Many of the American embassies will forward your election ballet to the United States – free of charge. Each country has their own procedure for doing this and their own timeline but it is an option for expats. Allow at least three weeks lead time however for them to get your ballet on American soil before the deadline.

The last day to register to vote in these mid-term elections was October 6, 2014. Knowing this, one of the first things Mike and I did when we arrived back here in the US in July was to update our voter registration information so that we could vote in the mid-term elections.

Here are some helpful links in case you are an expat but you have never registered to vote:

Vote from Abroad.org

Democrats Abroad

Republicans Abroad

According to the Association of American Residents Overseas,

Many U.S. elections within the past ten years have been decided by a margin of victory of less than 0.1%.  All states are required to count every absentee ballot as long as it is valid and reaches local election officials by the absentee ballot receipt deadline which differs by state.

The right for US citizens who reside overseas to vote was not part of the election standards until 1986. That year the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) was put into law.

Seeing that someone went to all the trouble of giving me a law to use I think it only fair that I do so as much as possible.  I hope you will join me.

Florence Lince

About.me/florencelince

A Walk amongst the Art

I love art. When Mike met me I owned quite a few paintings and sculptor pieces. He had never actually met anyone who would go to an art show and drop $1,000 or more on a painting, until he met me.

This coming weekend here in Olympia is the forty-ninth Olympia Arts Walk. Mike is doing his best to remain calm and while he won’t be able to keep me away at least he knows I do not have it in my mind to buy anything. Honest.

The city of Olympia has hosted these events twice a year for the past 24 years, one event in the spring and one in the fall. For this event 96 local and small business owners have opened their doors and they will be displaying artwork from mostly local artists in their establishments.

Over this two-day event, Friday, Oct. 3 from 5 to 10 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 4 from noon to 5 p.m., I will be armed with a map of the participating downtown businesses and I’ll be strolling along the arts walk path.

Cover art for the forty-ninth Olympia Arts Walk.

Because there are over ninety artists participating there is no way for me to see all of the artwork, most of which will be for sale. It will therefore be enough for me to just walk amongst the art for a time, to get to meet some new and hopefully interesting people, and to see some of the new businesses that have opened in the city’s core during the past year.

There will be food for sale, musical performances by various bands scattered throughout the downtown area and a new event, a Culinary Throwdown, to keep everyone entertained.

The Arts Walk was created as a showcase for local talent and it is a signature event here in Olympia. Many of the younger entrants of the event have actually gone on to study art at a university because of the positive feedback they have received from participants. There are many ways to give back to ones community and providing encouragement, and even becoming a patron of an aspiring artist isn’t a bad way to go.

Raised as I was in Buffalo, NY, I was exposed to the world-renowned Albright – Knox Art Gallery and I even took art classes there as a child. While the teachers were nice it didn’t take long for everyone to see that I wasn’t the second coming of Grandma Moses. I have however always appreciated artistic talent in others, no matter the medium.

The Arts Walk is not just a showcase for painters. There will be sculptures, Native American art, bead work, pottery, jewelry, photography, woodworking, blown glass and perhaps thee-dimensional art pieces.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” I have always found this to be true. Good works of art move me and take me away to other places, to other times, to other dimensions. I am therefore looking forward to my walk amongst the art.

Florence Lince

About.me/florencelince

About Face

While Mike and I were traveling I needed to be on social media. Mostly I needed to be on so that family and friends and my parents could make sure we were safe and doing well. We did everything from Pinterest, to Twitter, to LinkedIn and yes, even Facebook while we were away and they served their purpose.

I was however never in love with any of these social media channels and I found facebook to be my least favorite one. When I learned that you could un-follow someone’s posts without actually un-friending them I realized it was all a fake numbers game and I set out to see how many people were actually even reading my posts. The number wasn’t as high as my follow number suggested so I un-friended everyone who had un-followed me. I mean if none of these people were even going to see or read my posts why on earth was I reading all of their posts I wondered? And if you can tune out someone exactly how is this social behavior?

All of these supposed social media channels are therefore nothing more than media outlets. People want higher and higher follow numbers but they do not necessarily want to connect with anyone or have a dialogue on anything meaningful or even share anything useful with anyone else. There isn’t anything social about any of them.

The other down side to all this social media sharing is where I began to learn how so many of the people I once considered good friends were completely misguided in their political and social views. Foolishly I thought that since we were friends in grammar school or high school we should still be connected today. It was through their postings on their social media channels that I learned that many of them had not evolved in their thinking and many of them were just not the sort of people I would want to associate with. I realized we just didn’t have anything to talk about. Learning so much about some of these people only saddened me more.

Since the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections I have noticed an incredibly high number of postings (by people whom I assumed had high IQ’s) being posted without first fact checking the post. Some of the stories they posted were misleading while others were downright lies. This made me sit and wonder, didn’t anyone fact check anything before they posted? I think you know the answer to this.

Realizing that all of these people were just exercising their right to free speech, and thinking ahead to the 2014 mid-term elections and the even more horrific thought about the 2016 national election still to come, I came to the larger realization that I too had free speech rights and I could do with my social media as I chose. And so I chose to hit the delete key. I wish I had done it months ago.

Someone on LinkedIn recently asked everyone what they planned to do the second they retired. There were a ton of answers like sleep in, take longer vacations, play with the grandchildren more, but the response that drew the largest number of ‘likes’ was the man who answered, “stop doing social media”.

What do I do with all my new-found free time now that I have deleted my facebook account? I’m reading more books, I’m writing more stories, I’m cooking and experimenting in the kitchen once again, I’m connecting with more fellow bloggers, and I’m taking longer walks.

Oh, yeah…, and I’m smiling more.

Florence Lince

About.me/florencelince

Corn As High As An Elephant’s Eye

When we traveled I was always on the look out for something unique to do and for information to glean that was more about topics off the beaten path. Even though we are currently ‘resting’ here in WA I am still constantly on the look out for something fun and unique to do here in the area and recently I stumbled upon Schilter Family Farms.

The farm began 75 years ago by the Schilter family who had emigrated here from Switzerland. At that time they were dairy farmers. Over time one of their sons decided that he wanted to help with the farming duties. That son, Fred was married to a woman named Patti. Fred and Patti had five children. Over time the family phased out the dairy farm and decided to grow vegetables instead. Fred and Patti’s son Jeff decided that he too wanted to work on the family farm, and so it went. Today three generations of Schilter family direct descendents work on the farm.

Sixteen years ago the family decided to begin building corn mazes for the general public to enjoy. It was the first corn maze in Thurston County, WA. They offer a different corn maze theme every year which they design themselves.

In the past they have had a Mariner Maze (that is Seattle’s major league baseball team), a CSI- Corn Scene Investigation maze, a Kasey Keller Corn Maze (born in Olympia Kasey played professional soccer with the Seattle Sounders), and last year’s Big Foot Corn maze.

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Some of the sights from the Schilter Family Farm and Farmers Market.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

This year however marks the 75th Anniversary of the movie, The Wizard of Oz, so it makes sense that this years maze would be dedicated to the movie. Complete with a swirling tornado, a little house and a tree this 5 acre, 10’ high corn maze will be open to the public from September 27th through October 31st. You have one hour to make it through the maze before they send in the flying monkey’s to help you get out (I jest but someone will come looking for you to make sure you don’t spend the night in the maze). There will be signs and markers from the movie along the way and a map to help you traverse the whole thing.

Fall is my favorite time of year. It always has been. With the leaves turning spectacular and bright colors to the chill in the air, to the cooler temperatures and the need to wear layers of clothing I’m a happy girl. I also have the opportunity this weekend to walk through my very first corn maze. I’m excited. All of the traveling I’ve done around the world and I’ve never had the opportunity to walk a corn maze and now it’s going to come off my bucket list.

The only thing is I don’t know if I should be singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, or ‘Oh, What a Beautiful Morning’.  Either way, and with either tune, I’m off to see the wizard.

Florence Lince

About.me/florencelince