Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

And Now I Can Relax

Three 2021 Calendars

The last event is over. Christmas has been decorated and celebrated, we have feasted, we have opened gifts. It is Christmas Day, we are just home again from a wonderful morning with our son, his wife, and our grandchildren. It has all been exhilarating. I am exhausted from interacting with people I love. I am relishing the mid-afternoon Christmas Day silence.

AdventureMan is in charge of dinner for tonight, and he is excited about the preparations. I am excited about what he has chosen and equally excited that I am totally off duty.

You may have guessed by now that as well as being introverted, I am also very mildly OCD. The gifts I look forward to the very most are my annual calendars; one for the quilt workshop, one for my bathroom and one for the kitchen. Even with three calendars, there are times I get busy thinking about something – a project I am working on, an obligation I need to fulfill, a problem that needs resolving, or even, to my shame, a book that engages me so entirely that the real world flies out the window.

Even with three calendars to remind me, there are occasions when I space out, don’t show up where I have promised, and face the consequences, not the least of which is beating myself up.

With my first minutes of spare time, I opened my new calendars and transferred all my current appointments and obligations to the new year. Hope springs eternal that I can keep myself organized, on track and faithful to my commitments.

One of the moments of delight in my day today was seeing my granddaughter organize her 60 shiny new Scrunchies by colors, and within the colors, by shades. She did it beautifully, sensitive to distinctions between shades and tints and color groups, exactly as I recently did with my quilting fabric collection. Sometimes a little bit of OCD is productive. There is something so satisfying about colors arranged just right.

Another thrill, on this beautiful Christmas Day, was seeing an American Bald Eagle soar past our window headed for a tree on the Bayou. We see him now and then, but not so often that the sight becomes common, and fails to thrill.

AdventureMan just checked in, ready to nap. He said “Oh! I forgot I am on duty for tonight!” and I said no, not if he didn’t want to be. This is a day to relax and to be happy. He can take a pass, fix the duck breasts tomorrow, or the next day. We have plenty in the refrigerator to feast upon, and we can cut ourselves some slack. It’s been a complicated month, full of turmoil and uncertainty, and it’s ending well. Giving ourselves time to breathe when we can is a good thing.

I hate to think that seeking peace over excitement means I must be old. There are times in my life when I couldn’t bear the boredom and needed to fill my days with events and activities. Even now, I prefer my life to have points of interest and unpredictability; it keeps things interesting. Then again, after a month of uncertainty and unpredictability, of COVID infections among those I love, and projects where we were reliant on others to meet our needs, a month with an unexpected death and ceremonial duties, a month when I couldn’t swim, one small day of peace and reflection is not such a bad thing.

December 25, 2021 Posted by | Aging, Beauty, Birds, Christmas, Family Issues, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships | Leave a comment

The Gift of Not Hurrying

Yesterday, early in the morning as I headed for the commissary, I found myself feeling relaxed. I can’t ever remember feeling so relaxed at Christmas before.

It’s been only since last Thursday that we’ve been back in our house. By Sunday, we had almost everything put away. (Today we put our last pictures back up on the walls.) But Christmas is coming, and there is a fine line. You don’t want to wait too long to do your food shopping, or everything is gone, but you also can’t buy some things, like shrimp, too early.

Today on FaceBook, I saw an entry about buying shrimp and crab at Maria’s, a local place, and everyone agreed today was the exact right day to do it, while they were still supplied and had all the add-ons. The post went on forever! I remember when I first got here, I thought if I got to the big fish dealer, Joe Patti’s, at 7:00 when they opened on Christmas Eve, I would be OK. I was SO wrong. When I got there, before 7 a.m., the line snaked all around the parking lot, and these people were serious, with food lockers and everything. Never again!

So it is unusual for me to be relaxed at this time of the year. It’s been a long time coming. My daughter-in-law has a lot to do with it, she has been eager to simplify. It’s been harder for me to let go – I was raised with a lot of shoulds. But this year we agreed we would do Christmas Eve and they would do Christmas morning and we would keep it simple.

The funny thing is, it’s really not that much more simple, but somehow, it feels more simple, more relaxed, less structured, less formal, and we all feel pretty good about it.

Once everything in the house was put away, I was able to get Christmas started. I only brought out a few things, but it was so much fun.

We have a couple small trees out on the porch, with the lights. We can’t have a tree inside because Ragnar (the problem cat) likes to chew on wires, and a little electricity does not deter him. I used to do a lot of lights inside before. Life is simpler now 🙂

I find that simpler is good. Relaxed is good. I feel so blessed by the gift of Not Hurrying.

December 23, 2021 Posted by | Advent, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Christmas, Cultural, Family Issues, Generational, Quality of Life Issues, Spiritual | Leave a comment

Out of Control

It gets worse. The flooring people, after one week, still have not arrived. They are in communication with us, and their crew is on another job where they found some problems that need to be fixed before they can complete the work on that job. It is taking time.

Honestly, sometimes all you can do is laugh. We had to move to the Airbnb because with all our bedrooms being re-floored, we have no place to sleep in the house; our beds are all broken down to store in the family room. Our cats are confined to the living room, which, fortunately, they like well enough, as well as cats like changes of any kind, as you who have cats will know.

We are reasonable people. We know that if it were us whose floors were problematic, we would want the company to fix the problem and finish the job, even if it meant taking longer than planned.

As people who are spending time and money to stay in an Airbnb while NOTHING is getting done, it is frustrating and chaotic, and expensive. We were so careful putting things where we could find them, except we can’t always remember those special places where we put the things.

And, of course, the unexpected struck. A funeral, for a good friend and mentor, at which I will be a reader, and for which any appropriate dress is hidden in the far back of my living room, behind bookcases and mattresses and stacked furniture.

After scrambling through different channels, trying to get to my “dressy clothes I won’t need rack” in the way-back, I discovered that I could make do with something on my accessible rack in the living room.

One last little whine. The temperatures have suddenly risen; the temperatures are tropical and laden with moisture. It is hot. It is humid. Our comfortably cool weather has disappeared, reappeared, and then disappeared again as a cold front moves back and forth over Pensacola, shifting our temperatures from cool and dry to hot and humid.

There is a bright silver lining to this cloud of December mishaps – As part of my job in the church, I co-ordinate with a delightful young woman who did the same exact thing, cleared out four bedrooms to have wooden floors put in, but she and her husband did it with children! They ran into the same problem, staying in an Airbnb, the job was delayed, and they ended up staying in a total of three Airbnb’s because the ones they had booked were booked again and there was no room for extensions due to the flooring company mishaps.

“It’s a drag,” she told me, “but you will be so happy with those beautiful floors.”

She is right. She made me laugh. She was exactly the right person in the right place to help me put perspective on all this and to laugh. Her situation was so much worse, and she survived.

The cats have adjusted well to their lives confined to one room in the house. The beta male, Uhtred, who has not realized that he is now bigger (and smarter) than the alpha male, Ragnar, has found a safe place where Ragnar can’t get him and has also figured out how to open the folding door, even with its slider to prevent being opened. He is smart, and persistent, and loves to open doors. so far, we have him contained.

The right dress will show up for the funeral. It’s not about me, anyway. There is a pin I need to wear, and I know exactly where it is, in a box at the bottom of a heap of boxes I can’t access. The hamster brain keeps running on its hamster wheel, and I have to take a breath and realize that most of what I worry about will resolve itself without my getting wrapped up in anxiety.

Limbo is never a fun place to be. We want this to be over, we want to put all our furniture back, to sleep in our own house, to have our things put away in logical places where we can find them when we need them. We trust this company and want to work with them; we believe they are doing the best that they can in troubled times. We are in a good place; no immediate vacation plans, no children, not a lot on our schedule, and our Airbnb has been very gracious about extensions. I’ve given up thinking I’ll be able to have this all done, everything put away, for Christmas.

We are not comfortable being out of control. We are experiencing the discomfort of rolling with the unknown. On some level, I believe it to be a reminder that mostly control is an illusion, and that we are often oblivious to the tumult and chaos all around us, disruption can blindside us at any time. I know there is a lesson in humility involved, and I suspect another lesson in letting go and going with the flow. Like Uhtred, I persist in trying to free myself, I keep pulling at that door.

December 10, 2021 Posted by | Advent, Adventure, Aging, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Home Improvements, Hotels, Living Conditions, Moving, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Renovations | Leave a comment

Every Monkey Gets His Turn in the Barrel (3)

It’s such a common expression in our family that when I thought to title this post with this title, I checked, and sure enough, I have used this same title twice before. I didn’t know I was allowed to do that. It’s all about days when you’ve tried to do everything right, you’ve tried to maximize your chances for success, but everything seems to go wrong. We’ve learned, as the monkeys concerned, that it’s all about loss of control, and a smart monkey will just roll with it.

There is a part of me saying “Oh woe is me.” It’s a part of me I hate, the catastrophic thinking, which is not thinking at all, but we feel what we feel.

It will always strike at the worst moment, this monkey getting a turn in the barrel phenomenon. Last time, it was Viking notifying us that a major trip was canceled, a day before we were leaving on another major trip, and big decisions and a lot of telephoning needed to be done. This time, disaster struck an hour before the book club meeting that I was to lead. While my husband worked his end, I walked away. I said I’ll deal with it after book club.

We’re not people who like drama. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family in Panama City. We had a condo on the beach, big enough for the six of us in the nuclear family, with sunsets and wave action and a great gathering with lots of hugs.

Thanksgiving night, we got news that one of those we had hugged tested positive for COVID. All of us are vaccinated, so we weren’t too worried. Then the next night, one of the six of us tested positive, and the next morning, another. Adventure and I tested negative, and immediately went in for our booster shots. This is not a great time to be facing an illness, even a mild one.

We bought a new-old house back early in the COVID epidemic, a smaller house, but a house we have loved for years. It’s in good condition, but we wanted to modernize critical elements, put on a new roof, fix the chimney, install tankless heating, upgrade the electricity, make it safer for aging people and more energy efficient.

The people who built the house decided, at some point, to cover their beautiful parquet floors with wall-to-wall carpeting. When my son and his wife bought the house from us, they lifted the old carpets and loved the parquet. Unfortunately, the floor was spotted with white paint, but little by little, they were working on those spots when they sold the house back to us.

We hired a company to come in and refinish, refurbish and restore the floors in four bedrooms, and scheduled it for the first week in December so we could be all moved back in and settled by Christmas. This is what my house looks like now – we have packed out almost everything from our bedrooms:

Chaos

We have a VRBO scheduled starting Saturday when the movers come to move all the furniture out of the bedrooms.

Yesterday, as careful planners often do, my husband called the flooring company to make sure everything was on track. It wasn’t. They were planning to call us to tell us that the work can’t start until Wednesday, and “likely will finish on Saturday,” which sounds way too iffy for us. AdventureMan got busy calling the movers who cannot shift the first date.

When I got home from a really good book club meeting, a meeting so good I totally stopped spinning around my hamster wheel of anxiety and forgot, for that hour, that we were facing calamity, I was ready to do my part. I got an extension on our VRBO. It’s costly, but it is convenient and will provide us with a calm, serene location while our home is in upheaval. Sigh. It’s an investment in our mental health.

I’m sad about Christmas. I’ve been working on cookies, and I put up outside lights, but inside, Christmas is lacking.

Lights

Rosettes: Swedish Christmas Cookies my mother taught me how to make

I am a woman of faith. I know that somewhere in all this are multiple blessings. When the good God shakes me out of my comfort zone, I am forced to confront my own darkness, my own failings, and sometimes my misplaced priorities.

I know all this will pass, and in the end, we will have floors we love and it will make us happy in small ways for years to come. I know that this Christmas will be very different, and less structured than before – and a part of me believes that this might be a good thing, too. Shaking things up now and then allows for change, and fresh air in stale traditions. Spending ten days in another location will be a sort of enforced retreat. It won’t be without daily obligations, but my routines are seriously disrupted, and I might learn something new.

Rolling around in that barrel from time to time might just be a good thing.

(P.S. The EPIC book club book was Code Girls by Liza Mundy, and was about World War II and its transformational effect on American women’s lives. Once consigned to babies and kitchens, they were sought after and recruited to do the tedious work of code-breaking. Their work with the Army, Navy and intelligence services was exciting, instrumental in the Allied victory over both Japan and Germany. It is an inspirational book.)

December 2, 2021 Posted by | Advent, Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Books, Character, Christmas, EPIC Book Club, Family Issues, Home Improvements, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Renovations, Sunsets, Thanksgiving | Leave a comment

The Sad And Painful Truth

AdventureMan and I have a lot in common; we share a lot of the same values and we’re in our 49th year of marriage.

And yet . . .

We also have our differences. Because AdventureMan is very commanding, I have had to learn how to gently but firmly set some boundaries.

So today he suggested we hit Shoreline Deli, which was fine with me because I love their Greek salad and I also buy a lot of my spices there. You can buy them in small quantities, and they are more fresh than the ones that stand waiting in your pantry for years.

It’s not a sit-down kind of place; we stand with others who have ordered, waiting for our order to be prepared and taken out. There is always a lot to look at, and often they have something that no one else carries.

As we finish lunch, AdventureMan says “I see you found some of your favorite cookies. I saved room hoping you would share with me.”

I said “Of course, what is mine is yours.”

Very quickly I had a second thought and reframed my response. “Of course, what is mine is yours, up to half.”

At this point, I opened the little box and counted the cookies, a very plain Greek cookie with very little sugar and some cinnamon.

What does AdventureMan say? “I can’t believe you’re counting the cookies!”

He knows why I am counting the cookies. We have stylistic differences. I can buy a large 85% Cocoa chocolate bar and eat one square a day. I don’t need more, and rarely do I really want more. AdventureMan, on the other hand, has unrestrained cravings. There are things I have to hide – mixed nuts, Japanese rice crackers, cookies, cakes, and M&M’s. If I don’t set a limit, or hide them, they are free game.

I am not saying this is wrong. It is simply a stylistic difference. At the same time, if I want something special, the only way I can be sure there will be some left for me when I need it is to hide it.

I am not an ogre. I also bought beautiful mini chocolate macaroon cookies Two years ago at this time we were in the Bordeaux region of France and bought a package of traditional macaroon cookies with dark chocolate bottoms and each had one at the end of each day, and they lasted right up to our very last night before we flew back home. They were so rich and moist that one was more than enough.

AdventureMan was delighted to see the chocolate-bottomed macaroons. We each had one. I have no idea how many there are. I am not counting; AdventureMan is free to nibble as he needs. I just needed one. Well, maybe two, they are tiny, very tiny.

October 20, 2021 Posted by | Aging, Chocolate, Civility, Cultural, Diet / Weight Loss, Family Issues, Humor, Marriage, Relationships | Leave a comment

Good For You! And Good For Me!

I’m mostly getting my news in written form these days, and oh, this news from an Apple compilation features an article from the New York Post that recommends all my favorite foods, even ((take a breath)) chocolate!

LIVING

By The Sun | October 7, 2021 | 2:32pm

Popular herb could help prevent Alzheimer’s, study finds

Looking after your health can help prevent lots of diseases and issues later in life.

Taking care to eat the right things and keep active can lay the groundwork for a healthier future.

While there is no magic pill or superfood that will entirely stop a possible disease in it’s tracks, there are some items that will help to slash your risk.

Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that affects the patient and their loved ones – and studies have found a few foods that can boost your brain health and help try to prevent developing it.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

In 2020, as many as 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the CDC.

A hallmark of the disease is the build-up of amyloid beta proteins in the brain, which causes plaques.

The plaques then result in the loss of connections between nerve cells in the brain – and ultimately the death of those cells and a loss of brain tissue.

Those with Alzheimer’s also have a shortage of key chemicals in the brain, which help transmit messages.

A lack of these chemicals means the brain is unable to process certain messages how it would have previously.

While there is currently no cure for the disease, some treatments can help boost these chemical messages, and ward of some of the symptoms.

What is the popular herb that could cut your risk?

A study found that a naturally occurring compound, fenchol, could have a protective effect against Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers from the University of South Florida Health (USF Health) made this discovery.

They found out of 15 compounds studied, fenchol was the most effective at binding to and activating cell-signaling molecule free fatty acid receptor 2 (FFAR2).

The more signaling there is, the more a protein linked to the development is reduced.

This in turn lowers rates of neuron death and lessens the number of senescent neuronal cells, often dubbed “zombie” cells, and frequently found in Alzheimer’s patient’s brains.

Fenchol can be found in basil, which can be incorporated into plenty of dishes to up your intake of the compound.

Principal investigator Hariom Yadav, PhD, professor of neurosurgery and brain repair at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, said: “Fenchol actually affects the two related mechanisms of senescence and proteolysis.

“It reduces the formation of half-dead zombie neuronal cells and also increases the degradation of (nonfunctioning) Aβ, so that amyloid protein is cleared from the brain much faster.”

Fenchol is also found in fennel, lime and nutmeg.

Other foods that can boost your brain health:

Chocolate can be a great brain food. This is because cacao – the raw, pure version of cocoa – is high in flavonols.

These plant substances are thought to have a powerful antioxidant effect, including for the brain, and have even been researched for their potential to protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

Oily fish such as salmon are high in an omega-3 fatty acid called DHA.

DHA is found in high levels in the grey matter of our brain – proof that we need lots of it for healthy brain function. Studies have suggested that having plentiful supplies of DHA supports learning and memory, as well as IQ.

Research suggests that eating blueberries may be particularly beneficial for our brain too, especially supporting brain health into old age.

This effect is thought to be primarily due to blueberries’ content of polyphenols, which may help to protect against oxidative stress and inflammation that can contribute to brain deterioration.

Eggs are a fantastic food for many reasons – not least for your brain.

The yolks are rich in choline, a vitamin-like substance that’s needed for the myelin sheath that surrounds nerve fibers, including in the brain.

October 7, 2021 Posted by | Aging, Food, Health Issues, News | | Leave a comment

Treasures From the Past: Cookbooks and Salmon Burgers

I used to collect cookbooks, and, at my prime, I probably had close to three hundred. I loved them, some more than others. When it comes to books, I think I may even have hoarder tendencies; it is very hard for me to part with a book.

ThIs is the first cookbook I ever bought for myself. I still love it and can’t part with it. I bought it in Nairobi in 1973. It has some great recipes, but most of all, it has an entire culture full of differences, with a guide to organizing a large camping trip into the wild, foods for invalids, pages of instructions for servants on how to do laundry, clean, etc., and an entire section on asking for what you need in Swahili.

Kenya Cookery, reprinted 1972
Table of Contents
Useful Swahili Terms

Maybe it’s an age thing, but there came a year when I realized that I really only used a few of my books, and it was time to simplify. I am now down to about thirty cookbooks, and each one reflects on stages of my life with which I am not ready to let go. Germany. Tunis. Saudi Arabia. Jordan. The South (you can’t beat the South for desserts.) And Alaska.

Both my Alaska cookbook (1947) and my Pacific Northwest cookbook (1946) are older than I am. The Alaska cookbook is from my Mom; she knew I would treasure it. I love looking through this cookbook and last night I cooked from it.

Out of Alaska’s Kitchens
Game recipes

I can imagine there might be a way to fix moose burgers that would be tasty and delightful. As a child, I remember moose burgers as being tough, always, and chewy, and, well, game-y. Our dads hunted in the Fall. There were big hooks in our basement where they hung the deer or moose when they brought the hunt in, and where they skinned and quartered the meat. The butcher would grind the moose meat and package everything up in white freezer paper. The meat would be stored in the cold storage locker, and Dad would stop by during the winters and bring something home. The only thing worse than moose burgers were bear burgers.

We never killed what we didn’t eat. Nothing was wasted. It was like it would be disrespectful to the creatures we hunted.

Pacific Northwest Cookbook

This book was left to my by my aunt. I use it to make a Pacific Northwest Bouillabaisse, and several fruit desserts made with fruits which were plentiful in season – cherries, blueberries, rhubarb, as well as apples, peaches, apricots, etc. This book is another one I will pass along rather than get rid of.

So last night I wanted to make Salmon burgers. I looked in my Alaska cookbook, and there it was.

Salmon Burger recipe

It made me laugh when I read through it. Canned milk – yes, well there are times in Alaska when fresh milk just isn’t available. Salmon was canned in big cookers in jars, and was an all day task. Corn flakes – we don’t even keep processed cereals in the house anymore. And no egg for binding, but I also remember that in the winters sometimes we didn’t have real eggs, only powdered eggs, which were good for cooking, like pancakes, but really were not at all egg like on their own.

So I used it as a guide, but changed things a little. I did brown the onion and green pepper and add it into the salmon mix. I actually did use milk, not believing it would absorb, but it did. I added an egg, just one. And I used half a cup of plain bread crumbs in place of the corn flakes. Because we like the taste of smoked salmon, I added a couple drops of liquid smoke.

Salmon burgers

BIG hit. These were moist and delicious. I started with a medium high heat, then turned it down when I flipped the burgers.

I served them with snow peas (mange tout) sauteed in garlic and butter.

I love it that salmon is so healthy and so available, and that these old cookbooks still have relevance; sometimes the oldies but goodies make a grand come back. I miss my Mom, and I miss the Aunt that gave me the PNW cookbook, but having their cookbooks keeps them a little closer.

October 5, 2021 Posted by | Aging, Books, Cooking, Cultural, Food, Kenya, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Recipes, Wildlife | | 1 Comment

Friday Night Special: Mushroom Soup Forestiere

Mushroom Soup

Who knew, this late in life, that AdventureMan would develop this new talent? This week he had a bug in his brain; he had loved making the steak with mushroom sauce last Saturday night and now he wanted to make a very French/German version of mushroom soup, sort of a Forestiere, so he researched recipes, watched a few YouTube videos and created a brandy-laced soup that totally knocked my socks off.

At Fresh Market, his favorite market in Pensacola, he found the special mushrooms, and a crusty loaf of French bread, a mild goat cheese and a Country Pate by Les Trois Petits Couchons, established 1975 in Brooklyn, N.Y.

He was so busy all those years managing, commanding, strategizing, traveling, and I did all the cooking. I did fine – I have a few good recipes, and we moved so often that I could just use them again at the next post. Most of what I did was survival cooking, i.e. I had an obligation to get a meal on the table three times a day, and it had to be something my husband and son would eat. I did fine, but it wasn’t exquisite, and there was only dessert when we were having guests.

AdventureMan takes cooking to a whole ‘nother level. He loves taking his time, scouting out the special ingredients, even growing the herbs to garnish the platters. For him, this is a lot of fun. For me, I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.

October 1, 2021 Posted by | Aging, Cooking, Cultural, Family Issues, Food, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues | 1 Comment

Into The Great Wide Open, Day 10, Lamar Valley, Gardiner, Montana and Reflections

We are up at 6:30 without even setting the alarm, and head out to pick up coffee and go directly to Lamar Valley. Once again, no biscotti. AdventureMan buys a muffin, too sweet for me.

Great clouds

There was a heavy rain last night, the day is very clear, partly cloudy, with rays of sun beaming down. It is beautiful. Just past Roosevelt Lodge, and the turn to Lamar Valley, a truck in front of us slows down as a group of bison approach the road, maybe 20 of them, and start a trek across the bridge over the Yellowstone River. Cars start to pile up behind us, but they are all the kinds of early morning people who are respectful, there is no honking or people exiting their cars to take photos, and it is really a delightful experience. 

On the other side of the bridge is a trail the bison are climbing to get wherever bison go. Why shouldn’t they take the easy route, rather than down into the basin, cross the river, struggle up the other side? 

Because it’s so beautiful and I cannot resist . . .

We saw lots of groups looking for wolves in Lamar Valley, and bear, but we saw no wolves or bear. Often they are just little dots, off in the distance. We see many anglers casting their lines in the Soda Butte River, having the time of their life. Maybe they are all catching and releasing; I never see any fish being taken back to the cars. 

Ranger heading down into Slough Creek

When we got to the Soda Butte the light was beautiful. It has been blocked off since the time we walked around it and attracted the attention of a very annoyed bison, probably because people like us were attracting too much negative attention of territorial bison. 

We went into Gardiner for breakfast, eager to get back to Tumbleweeks, a combination book store and cafe we particularly like. I had hot cereal with fruits, and . . . a slice of coffee cake, full of huckleberries and raspberries. One bite and I knew I was in trouble – it was SO sweet. And I ate the whole thing, knowing I would pay the price. (I did. The next morning I had the worst blood sugar reading I’ve had all year. I am usually so careful. I still remember that slice of coffee cake with great fondness.Sometimes we can’t help what we love.)

Tumbleweeds is doing gang-buster business, of course. You have a good product, it attracts business. They also are located next to Flying Pig adventure rafting business, and they have a sign that says “You do not get fast tracked because your rafting trip is about to leave.” I can only imagine the situations that have led to the posting of that sign. We heard one of the guides say to the cashier that they were closing down; “once the rains came the season is over.” People are closing up outside the park, also, clearly, inside. Yesterday, in the coffee line at the Mammoth Springs Hotel, we learned that there is noplace in Mammoth Springs serving breakfast; they tell people to go into Gardiner. 

En route back into the park from Gardiner, there is not even a person at the gate to check our pass. Back in Mammoth Springs, we walk around the village, visit the old Mail Carriers House, and head back to A23, our cabin. We ask the housekeeper about all the empty cabins, and she says “Yes, many cabins have been blocked because we don’t have people to care for them.”

I have a friend, a little younger, who asked me how aging is impacting the way we travel. I remember telling her first, that it hadn’t. Then, as I thought about my answer, I had to go back to her and tell her that we have changed, and because AdventureMan would get sick and tired from so much driving, we had devised a strategy of “shorter days, longer stays.”

On this trip, we discovered we still have the energy, we can do more than 10,000 steps per day, but we have to do it earlier, and later, and we have to have a rest or a nap in the middle of the day. Our transition days are the hardest, when we have driven further and we really need a nap and our room isn’t ready yet. 

In spite of rests we are sleeping very well, mainly due to quiet locales and cooler nights, also good mattresses. We also need our reading glasses more often, for maps, for menus, for directions, for bills and receipts, for fine print in guide books.

So we are packing, tomorrow is another transition day, Mammoth Springs to Teton Village, just outside Jackson Hole, WY.

I like my small suitcase; it is easy to manage, and I have enough clothing because I wear the same things over and over. I only brought the one sweatshirt; sweatshirts take up a lot of room. I brought too many short sleeve shirts. I brought one very casual dress and one dress that works for dinner, and one linen dress I use for travel and for transition days. All three of those items did heavy duty in the two weeks. One skirt got baggy because I wore it so often, it was pure cotton; the skirt that had some spandex in it kept its shape better. 

As we sit outside on our porch, we talk with some people we have talked with before; we were talking with them when I spotted the elk walking by behind our cabins, so they also got some shots. They were up this morning at 3:30 to go out with a Wolf spotting team and they saw lots and lots of wolves in Lamar Valley, and watched two packs of wolves meet up with each other. 

We have never seen wolves in Lamar Valley. We go there a lot, but I guess not early enough and/or not with the right people.

Tonight, we have our last dinner at Wonderland, but this is a valuable and hilarious evening. We know they open at five, so we make it a point to be there at 4:30. 

The word is out. Wonderland already has a line about twenty-five people long when we arrive. We are behind a group that is talking about having been out this morning watching for wolves, and they saw two packs of wolves meeting up, something no-one has seen before.

We can’t even look at each other. We have heard this phrase often, on safari in Africa. The wildlife spotters work together, they contact one another, they do their best to make sure their clients spot the game they want to see. 

So we’ve been looking for wolves and never saw a one. 

Next time, we might have to bite the bullet and hire a game spotter. We kind of prefer being on our own, not being in a group with other people, not being subject to someone else’s agenda, not being a part of those big groups along the side of the road. But this is our last night in Yellowstone, and we are thinking we might need to bend a little if we want to see wolves.

Squash Soup
Grilled Chicken Caesar
Caldera Burger

Dinner at Wonderland is delicious, as always. I have the squash soup and a grilled chicken Caesar, and AdventureMan has the Caldera Burger, which he loves. We love to watch the Wonderland team work together; they are a great team.

September 15, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Beauty, Cultural, Eating Out, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Random Musings, Relationships, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Salmon Piccata; Reward for a Long Week

As we sat down for dinner last night, I reminded AdventureMan that when he retired (maybe the second or third or fourth time) he said he wanted to learn to cook seafood, maybe he’d like to take a class.

All on his own, with recipes from the Barefoot Contessa, the Pioneer Woman, Southern Living, the Pensacola News Journal, how-to videos on YouTube and all kinds of other internet sources, his dream has been realized. Not only can he cook seafood, but he does it really well.

Last night was the end of a long week; a week with the grandchildren, a week of continuing organization and efforts for upgrades to the house that give us pleasure, a week of errands in preparation for an upcoming trip and the normal duties of every day life. As a special treat, AdventureMan volunteered to make a Salmon Piccata, which I adore, and he also roasted green beans and tiny potatoes in oil and garlic, and put together a beautiful green salad.

To top it all off, he found a gorgeous Sancerre to go with it. I can’t drink a lot of wine any more, not just due to being diabetic, but also because as I age, I seem to be developing a smidgeon of better judgement. If I can only drink a little, I want it to be something I like a lot. AdventureMan has found the perfect formula; for every really good bottle of wine we buy, he writes a check for an equivalent amount to the Salvation Army, to feed, house and care for the poor. It may not work for everybody, but it works for us.

Sometimes happiness is looking back and seeing how far you’ve come. Sometimes being content is finding joy in the everyday incremental refinements we make in life. A man who will create a magical dinner on a hot summer’s day when I am exhausted is my kind of guy.

August 7, 2021 Posted by | Aging, Character, Cooking, Cultural, Entertainment, Family Issues, Food, Living Conditions, Marriage, Quality of Life Issues, Values | , | Leave a comment