Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Born Every Minute

air COOLER

One of my neighbors on NextDoor had seen these advertised around, and it was surprisingly inexpensive. He ordered, and, very chagrined, posted when it arrived, that it is just a box with a fan in the back and a tray for water. It is, indeed, a “cooler,” not an air conditioner, and has minimal effect.

I laughed, but occasionally I have also bought things which sounded too good to be true, and truly were – not what they were hyped up to be. Glad I’m not the only one.

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Home Improvements, Humor, Marketing, Shopping | , , | Leave a comment

Dirty Pool

So no, I don’t always play fair. The really cool thing about being married for a long time is that your partner and you learn tolerance and forgiveness, and in a long marriage, you really need both. A lot of both.

I’ve had a yearning for a new couch. I’m not a material girl; the last couch I bought was in 1996, and it is still in the family, living a new life as a couch and spare queen-size guest bed in our son’s house. Soon they will also inherit the really good bunk beds I inherited from my youngest sister (also in 1996) and they still have the original mattresses, mattresses with cowboys on them! They will go to keep my old couch company.

I take my time. I’ve been looking at couches for about 18 months now. I took AdventureMan with me on a tour of furniture shops, from top to bottom, and we were in total agreement, nothing was right for us.

And then I found it.

It’s small enough for our smaller house. It’s leather, in a honey camel kind of color that I love to sit in when we are staying at places like El Tovar, or Old Faithful Inn, or Timberline Lodge. It’s a lodge kind of couch, comfy. You and your friend can sit on it and drink coffee and share your hearts and solve the problems of the world, or just cry at the occasional tragedies we all sometimes face.

And look at the legs! I need furniture that is off the ground to keep the appearance in my smaller house from being too cluttered. I like light. I love these beautiful hand-carved legs!

So I go into AdventureMan’s office with my choice, and for a few seconds (it feels a lot longer than it really was) he is silent. And then he says “the cats will scratch it.”

Here’s where the dirty pool comes in. I was horrible, I will admit it.

“Who knows how long we will be here to enjoy it?” I said. “I need a couch so you can stretch out when you want to watch something on the big television. It doesn’t have to last forever; we are not going to last forever.”

And then, worst of all I said “And my Mother wants me to have it.”

How bad do I feel?

I feel sort of bad. I was really packing some punches, but pulling the “Mom wants me to have it” punch was probably a low blow. When Mom died, she left some money to be divided among my sisters and me, and some for our children. We’ve been using some of it for travel and some for renovations, but the truth is, it’s all in one of our pots, and I don’t really keep track of it, AdventureMan and I have just combined it with other incomes to share with our family and make our lives comfortable and fun.

He’s been handling a lot of the improvements and renovations. I take care of furnishings.

The truth is, he is very good to me. He is practical, and the other truth is, our cats are cats. They are destructive. I don’t know how to keep them from clawing at a leather sofa, but whether the sofa is leather or fabric, the cats will claw it, and I need a couch in my life.

“Buy the couch,” he says.

I know he will like it once it arrives. I know he will stretch out on it and eventually, he will be glad we have it. I know the cats will scratch at it and we will yell at them and clap our hands, and it will probably look really awful – down the road. It’s not like I am going to live forever. Thank you, AdventureMan ๐Ÿ™‚

February 4, 2022 Posted by | Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Civility, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Home Improvements, Humor, Money Management, Quality of Life Issues, Shopping | 2 Comments

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

Silver Linings

It’s been a funny week. We were supposed to have a new roof put on, but the ongoing rainy weather put the roofing company behind. And when the roofing materials were delivered, there was some drama and some damage, and now we are waiting for replacement pieces and sunny weather and roofers.

I went in to my Dermatologist, a young woman I adore, and she found a couple places that she wanted to hit with the liquid nitrogen “just to be sure.” She had hit one of the places, on my face, before, and nothing happened, so I wasn’t concerned. This time, I felt the impact immediately, and within a half an hour had a dramatic big red spot, reminding me of being a teenager, when you think EVERYONE sees that pimple you can’t hide.

So here is where the silver lining comes in:

In this time of COVID, even here in a very non-compliant part of Florida, the majority of people are masked up, and my mask covers my big boo boo.

Just kidding, this photo is from a time when my niece and I were goofing around talking about how funny life is, and how the niqab (Islamic face covering) has become a necessity, as we protect one another from the contagion of COVID. She did some amazing things with eye make-up, which is what our Moslem friends do.

So today, as I skipped my morning swim and headed for the commissary, I was thankful to be masked. I also am thankful that the pool will be closed the entire week next week, so the one place where I really cannot wear a mask will not even be an issue. I can’t go there. Normally, I would feel bad about missing my swim time, but this week, it will be a good thing.

The silver lining gets better. I also have my second COVID vaccination next week, so I don’t have to worry about trying to be all heroic, trying to overcome how bad I might feel. I have the week off! I can feel as bad as I feel, or feel not bad at all.

I have some brand new shoes, and I love them, they are a Loden green and match the little hooded dress I wore, and – they have heels. I used to wear heels all the time, and then I went to sandals, mostly because I lived in really hot countries. So these shoes fit perfectly, and they are wonderful to walk in; it’s a great day to break in a new pair of shoes. On the way home, my left knee hurts a little and I remember, I also gave up heels because they threw my posture off and first it was my knees and then my hip . . .

They are lovely shoes, and I think I will wear them judiciously. Like to church, or a dinner, or someplace else where a lot of walking will not be required. I’d forgotten how good it feels not to have pain in my knees or hips!

AdventureMan and I used to have lunch out every day; he called it our daily-date, and as we sat in our kitchen today, eating take-out from Tijuana Flats, he looked at me and said “I don’t think we’ll ever go back to eating in restaurants that much, do you?” and I agreed that no, take-out was so easy. We have learned to enjoy it, and it certainly saves a lot of time. If it is cheaper, it is not so much, we still pay for the food, and we tip, we know servers are having a tough time these days, and we’ve always considered tipping to be a karma kind of thing, a cosmic kind of income-redistribution.

Pensacola was hit hard this year, by COVID, by Hurricane Sally, by heavy unnamed storms that have left a trail of blue tarped roofs littering the landscape. Rich and poor alike were hit. I am watching now to see what silver linings will come out of all this disruption and hardship?

February 26, 2021 Posted by | Aging, Civility, Cultural, Exercise, Family Issues, Health Issues, Humor, Hurricanes, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Random Musings, Values, Weather, YMCA | Leave a comment

King Cake: Diet Kryptonite

There is no real dieting during pre-Lenten Mardi Gras in Pensacola. Even in times of COVID, the Mardi Gras spirit shines through.

Our particular poison is the King Cake from Craft Bakery on Davis. It actually is not too sweet, is not loaded with excessive frosting and sugar, has just enough cinnamon, and comes in a size that two people can sliver to death in a day or two. They do have larger, more normal sizes for larger groups. These small loafs are more than enough for us.

February 6, 2021 Posted by | Food, Health Issues, Humor, Lent, Mardi Gras, Pensacola | | Leave a comment

Quality of Live: Another Perspective

I have the most creative and insightful daughter-in-law. She is a woman I really like, and one of the things I like most about her is that she sees things differently.

One day, visiting her house, as I walked down the hall, I noticed how thin I looked. My daughter-in-law had found a magical mirror!

I found a similar mirror, and when we bought the house, I put it in the same spot.

It’s a small thing, a very small, petty, vain, and gloriously irrational thing, but every time I walk down the hall and see myself as taller, and thinner, it just makes my day. I know it is only an illusion. It doesn’t matter. It makes me happy.

October 22, 2020 Posted by | Cultural, Humor, Quality of Life Issues, Women's Issues | Leave a comment

What True Love Looks Like After Forty Six Years of Marriage

Yesterday I had a quilt I really want to finish before our upcoming trip, so I loaded up the bobbins, threaded the machine, closed my door (Ragnar comes running as soon as he hears the sewing machine and loves to eat thread, lethal obsession for a cat, it gets twisted and ties up their guts) and cranked up The Best of Buddy Holly ad the Crickets.

 

 

When you quilt, you have to be in The Flow. If you are angry, or anxious, or even too pressured, your work doesn’t flow. Buddy Holly – wow. He FLOWS. Sometimes it is Gounod’s Mass for Saint Cecelia, sometimes it is Rolling Stones, sometimes it is Basque Christmas Carols – your personal tastes can have different needs at different times.

 

AdventureMan came home after doing his workout at the Y, and running his errands, and knocked loudly at the door, so I would hear him over the hum of the machine and my friend Buddy Holly and my own singing right along with him, and when he came it, it was Peggy Sue, and my often shy, formal, reticent husband started dancing. Yes. I stopped quilting, and I joined him. It was short, and lively, and oh, we laughed. You have to take advantage of the moment ๐Ÿ™‚

 

That’s what love looks like after forty six years of marriage.

October 4, 2019 Posted by | Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Family Issues, Humor, Marriage, Music | , | 2 Comments

Glacier National Park: Traveler’s Rest

So we are having this perfect day, this glorious day. Mountains, sun, lakes, Spring, bear, isn’t this a grand life?

Well, like every life, it has its moments. We find a perfectly average place to eat; it really looks promising and then everything we order is like pulled out of the freezer kind of stuff, not awful, just not what we would ever choose if we had known. In East Glacier, however, the season has not really started yet and a lot of places just haven’t opened yet.

Then, we are ready to get settled. I know where we will be staying is near Saint Mary, and I have directions. We keep following the directions, but it isn’t working. I call the B&B and tell her I am at the gas station by the gift shop and she gives me more directions, and we follow them and something is just not right.

AdventureMan is getting frustrated, I am feeling stressed and incompetent, so I call again, and somehow, this time, we discover that I am in the wrong place, about 30 minutes from the right place, which is East Glacier Village, or just outside.

Whew. Crisis averted. We get back on the road and shortly we see where we need to be.

 

These are some of the nicest cabins I have ever seen. They feel spacious on the inside, and are beautifully done. You can see East Glacier Village and the train depot from our porch. And the mountains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We go into East Glacier Village to pick up some milk for our cereal in the morning, and we see the Two Medicine Grill, which seems to have fresh pie. We can’t resist fresh pie.

 

As we are leaving, I point out to AdventureMan the Railway Depot across the street. He said no it wasn’t. I was stunned. Sometimes this happens, and he is very adamant, and so sure that I doubt myself, but not this time. And then . . . then he did it. He said “Do you have a minute?” I held my breath so I wouldn’t laugh out loud. “Sure,” I said agreeably. So he turned the car around and zipped up and pulled into the terminal. “THIS is not the Depot!” he crowed. (Looking right at the sign that said Train Depot.) I just looked at him in amazement, and laughing, until he looked again and then he started laughing too. It was one of the best moments of the trip, and we howled with laughter all the way back to the cabin, where we sat on our balcony, looking out at the mountains, and ate our pies.

He had peach. I had cherry.

 

 

 

 

June 28, 2019 Posted by | Adventure, Hotels, Humor, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The Shakey-Head Response

 

“Where are the empty sacks upstairs from yesterday’s commissary run?” AdventureMan hollers from upstairs.

I am folding dried sheets that need ironing before our next house guests come. He comes down the stairs, asking again when I don’t answer.

“They are upstairs in the linen closet, on the ground level toward the right middle,” I respond, proud of myself for not saying “where they ALWAYS are.”

He shakes his head, no.

I just look at him. Coldly. After forty four years of marriage, I no longer drop everything to run go get him something he needs, especially when I am busy trying to finish things up before our house cleaner gets here, just as he is. He gets the message.

In thirty seconds, he hollers down “I found them!” and I holler back “Thank you for giving me that feed-back.”

I can hear the laughter in his voice when he responds “I knew you needed that feedback after my shake-head response.”

October 4, 2017 Posted by | Civility, Communication, Cultural, Family Issues, Humor, Living Conditions, Random Musings, Relationships | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: A Wonderful Welcome in Saguenay, Quebec

 

We awaken to a beautiful morning on the Saguenay river. As I am fixing my hair, there are dolphins – or porpoises (is there a difference?) playing just outside the open window, and whale spouts and tails from time to time. It is a glorious morning, and AdventureMan is feeling better, but not better enough to take the Zodiac ride in the park which we had scheduled.

It doesn’t matter. It is a glorious day, we have some fog as we pass along the river, but the day is beautiful. Blue skies and whales! AdventureMan snoozes after breakfast, building up energy, and I leave him alone so he can recuperate.

 

 

 

We have to go very slowly; Canadian Maritime law is humane, and protects the migrating whales.

 

 

Around noon, we dock in Saguenay:

This boat is not us, it is one of the French Soleal line. Only one boat can dock, so this time they have to use the tenders.

 

 

AdventureMan and I exit the boat to walk through Saguenay and find a bite of non-ship food to eat. Viking Ocean cruises has a lot of nice food, and most of it is lightly seasoned so as not to offend anyone. They do a great job of taking care of a lot of people, but sometimes there are slips. We ate mussels one night, and they were delicious – but served tepid! Almost cool!

We are blown away by the Saguenay welcome. We have been told these are all volunteers, they dress in old time costumes and greet the arriving passengers with welcomes, photos, flags, free little blueberry juices, free blueberry pie, a small musical group playing local music – oh, it is a total party on the dock! Many of them don’t speak English, but they understand my French and I feel terrific. They understand my French! I’ve lost so much because I so rarely get an opportunity to use it, but the fluency comes back and I feel exhilarated.

Here is the man handing out Saguenay flags to all arrivals. AdventureMan tells me that the green signifies forestry and wildlife, the yellow is for agriculture which is a mainstay of their economy and he can’t remember what the silver stands for; you would think it is white, but it is really silver and as it is the cross, he believes it has to do with faith.

These people are so much fun, and are having such a great time. So are we!

 

They get one of the passengers to try the saw – it’s harder than it looks!

This man was flipping his son all around, and they were both really having fun with this local greeting party.

Yes! Yes! a “bluet” is a blueberry! I have a new word in my French vocabulary!

They are making natural maple sugar candy here, on a bed of ice, and giving it out. I get to show our grandson this; we were reading that American children’s classic, “Little House on the Prairie” and the author, Laura Ingalls Wilder described perfectly how this is done.

You know what I love about this? This is pure generosity of spirit. There really isn’t that much going on in Saguenay that would make it a draw, but these good people with their slices of blueberry pie, their costumes, their music, and their warm welcome, have created something worth traveling to see. They have their heritage. They are proud of it, and they are happy to share it with visitors. It’s just all win-win.

I love the juxtaposition here, the First Nation representatives against the background of the Viking invaders ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

We asked one of the guides if they could recommend a good restaurant and they recommended one I had seen on TripAdvisor, just a short walk down the bicycle path. And Big Bravo for AdventureMan, the person I asked didn’t speak English, and we were trying to find the bicycle path and AdventureMan remembered “piste” from when we lived in Tunisia, and as soon as he said it, the person’s face lit up and he pointed us in the right direction.

 

It’s a perfect day. I am in short sleeves; temperatures are in the 70’s F. and the local young folk are in short shorts, halter tops and summer dresses. It is probably a wonderful late summer day to them. We dine outside at La Grange aux Hiboux.


 

 

It reminds us of places we used to eat lunch when we would get up early early on cold mornings to go to the big flea market in Metz.

We took the long way back to the ship, and passed this church.

I have to tell you something funny. Or at least it strikes me funny; I guess there are times when I am still silly and seven years old in my heart. The bay that Saguenay is situated along is called the Bay of Ha! Ha! There is a hop-on hop-off bus for cruise passengers, called, the Ho Ho. The HoHo is right next to the Bay of Ha! Ha!

Well,ย I think it is funny.

What I love, too, about Viking is their willingness to accommodate religious observances. (Did I already say this?) Tonight they are having a special dinner for those celebrating Rosh Hoshhana. How cool is that?

September 21, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Character, Civility, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps, Heritage, Humor, Marketing, Restaurant, Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments