Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

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 🙂

 

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

“You Can’t Send Money to the Sudan”

I totally get it. My bank is trying to protect me. I am “elderly” and I am sitting in the bank officer’s office asking to wire money to my friend in South Sudan.

“I need to talk with somebody,” she says and comes back with a man. I manage, barely, to keep from rolling my eyes.

“You know,” he tells me sternly, “We are forbidden to send money to the Sudan. It’s on the prohibited list.”

“Yes,” I say brightly, “The Sudan is on the prohibited list. The South Sudan, and entirely different country, is not.”

They want to make sure I know what I am doing. They tell me true stories of people here in Pensacola sending money to scam artists. Thousands of dollars. How do I know this person?

I explain he was a State Department International Visitor on their IVLP program, that he has attended church with me, is a renowned journalist, that he has dined in my home. They are looking at me with pity.

“This isn’t thousands of dollars,” I tell them. “This is school tuition, he only asks for help this one time to keep his daughters in school. The South Sudan is going through tumultuous times.”

“I know this person,” I re-assure them. “I believe I am sending money to my friend,” I tell them. “I can afford this risk; I can afford to lose this money,” I tell them.

I have to also tell this to the international wire-banking account manager who they get on the line. We go over it all again. I sign all the papers.

A couple hours later, I get a call asking if I am really sure. What are the names of the daughters? I look up our correspondence and provide the names. The bank information is in Juba, where my friend lives, not Nigeria, not anywhere other than where my friend lives.

In only two days, my friend notifies me that the funds have arrived, and he is profoundly grateful.

A week later, my bank calls me again, concerned as to whether the funds made it to my friend, and how I felt about the experience. They are still concerned. I assure them the funds have reached my friend, he has contacted me, thanked me. I do not tell them my friend continues to raise his voice at a time when the government is transitioning, and he is trying to be a voice of reason and civility.

There is a part of me that totally understands the banks need to protect their customers, and how gullible I might appear to them. And there is a part of me that despairs at our fear of the stranger, at our fear of being taken, and at our ignorance, not even knowing that there is a Sudan, and that there is a new country called the South Sudan.

Four times in my life I have been asked to help with school expenses, in tough times, to people we know in four different countries. Four times my husband and I have wired money to people who only want to give their children a chance at a better life. We have always been thanked, We have never been asked again.

I met a woman whose theory was that none of the money that came her way was hers, that it was God’s money and she was merely the steward; it passed through her hands on the way to where God wants it to go. It helps me with requests like this, from people I know. It helps me with the homeless on the streets of Pensacola, knowing I am to freely, freely give, and God will see that it gets where it needs to go.

July 25, 2019 Posted by | Aging, Bureaucracy, Character, Charity, Cultural, Customer Service, Financial Issues, Interconnected, Money Management, Social Issues, South Sudan | Leave a comment

“Do You Have a Heartbeat?”

This morning in Pensacola the temperature was a cool 71 degrees F. and the humidity was low. It makes all the difference in the world.

“How’s your day?” I asked my friend in the pool at the YMCA, and she grimaced. “I’m off to a bad start,” she said, “I hung my suit and towel and shoes on the line outside, and after the rain last night, everything was soaked this morning.

(We really needed the rain, and we got a soaker of a storm. Today, everything is blossoming in our yard and happy, moonflowers, African Irises, Ginger, plumbago, roses – they respond to a good soaking by blooming in delight.)

I grinned at her. “Did you wake up this morning? Do you have a heartbeat? Are you breathing? Are you here at the YMCA?” I was heartless, and persistent. She laughed.

I talked about the countries I’ve lived in; how in my first African country, Tunisia, back in the day, people competed for our garbage. My cleaning lady asked permission to take glass jars with lids, to take tuna cans. She asked that I give her any clothes I didn’t want. In the Middle East, there were restaurants where people waited near parked cars to beg for the leftovers we carried. Anything. Anything would do.

Some people didn’t have a towel, much less a swim suit, or shoes to hang on a line.

We live in the midst of plenty. Even Tunisia, when we went back twenty five years later, didn’t have the poverty we saw when we lived there. We didn’t see clubbed feet, we didn’t see hunched backs, we didn’t see crossed eyes. The little villa we had lived in had a second floor. There were signs everywhere of prosperity. We didn’t see any beggars, not one.

When I get all wrapped around the axel about the state of civility in my country, about our abuses at the border, about our increasing bureaucratic hardness-of-heart toward the least of these, I need to stop and take a deep breath and spend time acknowledging how very blessed we are. It gives me strength to go on fighting.

July 24, 2019 Posted by | Africa, Aging, Beauty, Biography, Bureaucracy, Character, Charity, Civility, Community, Cultural, Exercise, Gardens, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Middle East, Pensacola, Political Issues, Quality of Life Issues, Social Issues, Spiritual, Tunisia | Leave a comment

Great Adventure: Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks Trip Map

This is an overview of the Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks great adventure 🙂

 

Before we even checked in to our hotel in Bozeman, we hit the Walmart. I had broken a part of my sunglasses, and the Walmart had an optical shop, where a very kind optician wouldn’t even charge me for fixing them. At the same time my glasses were being fixed (just a little screw) we picked up “car food.” Everyone has their own ideas of what that might mean, but for us it meant peanut butter and crackers, apples, little oranges, wasabi peas, roasted peanuts, chocolate, ice cube gum, Ghost Pepper Rice Chex mis, and some bottled water which we refilled from the faucets in our room. Wyoming and Montana water was really cold and delicious. We also picked up a few paper plates for microwaving. We had brought plastic utensils with us.

I learned several things about myself this trip; I can’t begin to assign levels of importance. I learned that while I am fit, and can still hike and travel well, I am comparatively more fit in Florida than I am in Wyoming and Glacier National Parks. There, I am about average. There are a lot of women my age still hiking and moving comfortably.

I learned I can hike in my sandals, and I much prefer it. I know we are supposed to wear closed toe shoes while hiking, but they make my feet . . . tired. Unfree. I have great sandals, and I hike in them. My feet didn’t get cold, even hiking in freezing temperatures. If I really needed to, I could wear socks with my sandals. My feet don’t like being confined 🙂

I learned that the lighting in my house is low, and that I have more wrinkles than I thought I had. I’m not sure how much I care. When I am out hiking, I don’t care at all, it is only when I am walking into a social situation that I even think about it.

I learned that AdventureMan is still my favorite travel partner; he is almost always game for anything I suggest, he doesn’t mind stopping and watching animals for a long time, he likes to eat really good food, and he is mostly patient with me when I make a navigational mistake. When we get to someplace, he almost always appreciates the research that went into making this a really cool stop. Occasionally, when the hotel or experience is not what I would have hoped, he is philosophical about it, and so it matters little. He comes up with some good suggestions, like the Rocky Mountain Museum, and going back to a very expensive restaurant we loved. I like everything optimal. It doesn’t always happen, and I am a pragmatist, I know everything can’t always be optimal.

June 21, 2019 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Fitness / FitBit, Geography / Maps, GoogleEarth, Road Trips, Travel, Values | | Leave a comment

A Thousand Kisses

Schools started Monday in our county in Florida, so now we have two grandchildren with us after school. AdventureMan is the real hero; he is not only a good teacher, he is also a lot of fun, good at playing with and entertaining the kids. I am good for explaining things and talking about things – and for 1,000 kisses.

“What is 1,000 kisses?” you might ask?

It’s a game I made up when my own son was two and a half or so, a silly game, a mommy game, where I give his tummy a whole bunch of kisses really fast with loud smacking noises. It causes hilarious gales of laughter, helpless laughter, because it tickles, because I am very noisy (and only a little scary) and well just because it’s fun.

It also teaches about consent. From the very beginning, I tell them that whenever they say “STOP” I have to stop, and without fail, when one of the grandchildren says “stop”, I stop. I want them to know about “safe” words, and I want them to know that no one has the right to do anything to their bodies without their consent.

Our eight year old grandson came in today, pulling up his shirt, and said “How about 1,000 kisses?” and I said “Aren’t you too old?” He said no, no he wasn’t.

I can still keep him pinned enough that he goes limp from laughter, but he is getting stronger and stronger and the day will come when I have to stop. For him now, the fun is in the struggle. He thinks he can beat me, but he can’t – yet. Actually, with him, almost as tall as I am, I am already ready to stop, but he is not quite there yet. At some point, very soon, I am going to have to just tell him that he is too big, too strong, and I can’t play 1,000 kisses with him anymore.

There is still his little sister, just turning five, who also showed up with her T-shirt pulled up demanding 1,000 kisses, so I think I probably have a few good years left with her. She doesn’t even bother to put up any resistance, just bursts forth with gale after gale of lilting laughter that brightens my soul and my lights up my day. Soon enough, she yells “STOP!” and we are both ready to stop, catch our breaths, and have a good chat.

 

August 15, 2018 Posted by | Aging, Communication, Family Issues, Generational, Parenting, Relationships, Values | | 2 Comments

The Least of These

 

Today in the Lectionary readings, we come to the Gospel and one of my all time favorite verses and personal life guide. If you claim to follow Jesus, there are some basics. You have to follow the old Jewish traditions of loving God with all your heart, and loving your neighbor as yourself. You have to take care of the poor, the widowed (the single mother), the mentally ill, the children. You have to welcome the stranger, for we were strangers in Egypt.

Our national policies today are taking away medical benefits from our poorest citizens, are rolling back protections against pollution and contamination of air and water and even the foods we eat. The callousness of it all appalls me. Spiritually, we pay a price. As a country, I believe we will survive, but it will take a while to undo the damage that is being done, day by day.

As a cold warrior, I am horrified, but that is not a spiritual thing 🙂

Matthew 25:31-46

31 ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 37Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” 40And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,* you did it to me.” 41Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” 44Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” 45Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Aging, Character, Civility, Community, Cultural, Faith, fraud, Free Speech, Interconnected, Lectionary Readings, Living Conditions, Social Issues, Spiritual, Stranger in a Strange Land, Values | , | Leave a comment

FitBit: Does it Count?

My sister introduced me to FitBit several years ago, and I’ve had several. From time to time I lose one and have to replace it; it’s not a big deal. I don’t have any FitBit friends, to tell you the truth, I’m a private person and I don’t want to compete with anyone for the most steps or whatever. I do it for myself, and for the sleep record.

The sleep record is interesting. The major item of interest is how distorted my own perception of my sleep is. I can think I have had a really bad night, and the sleep chart shows me that I had an hour of restlessness, but I slept soundly both before and after. Conversely, I can think I’ve slept really well, and the record shows it took me a long time to get to sleep, and I was frequently restless. To me, discovering how poorly I estimate my own sleep has been eye-opening.

Today is a day I don’t go to water aerobics, but I can feel the need for exercise. Exercise helps keep my demons at bay, keeps me from getting depressed or anxious or wrapped up in a problem. I don’t even need to do a lot, even twenty or thirty minutes of running on the trampoline sets me up well for the rest of the day.

It has always bugged me that my aqua aerobics doesn’t get counted; I don’t wear a wrist bit, I wear a clip and it isn’t water proof. But today, after running on the trampoline, I went to check my steps only to discover I had not changed the FitBit to my running clothes, so . . . my steps didn’t count.

Well, of course they count, in the greater scheme of things, but I just hate it that I would have had a good high count for today with the trampoline run, and I don’t get the credit.

And then I think of all the times that the FitBit gave me credit for steps I didn’t take – especially on trips, like in Monument Valley, when we were in a very bumpy Land Rover and somehow each bump counted as a step and I ended up with almost 30,000 steps and from climbing up on all the rocks, I had like 56 sets of stairs. 🙂 I even got badges on that day, LOL.

 

June 6, 2018 Posted by | Aging, Exercise, Fitness / FitBit, Random Musings | 1 Comment

Timberline Lodge, Government Camp, Oregon

Just as AdventureMan had a yearning to visit Crater Lake, I’ve had a longing, lo these many years, to stay at Timberline Lodge. I remember going there when I was little, maybe for lunch, maybe for a soda and for my Mom to meet up with friends, I don’t know, I was really little. All I remember is how much I loved this timbered lodge, and I told her I wanted to stay there. She said we were going back to Portland; we were just visiting the Lodge.

I’m not a believer in bucket lists. I’m a believer in doing it along the way, if you can. When AdventureMan and I married, we had a lot not-in-common, but we shared a common way of outlining and attaining our objectives in life.

  1.  Live within your income.
  2. Save for goals (retirement, education, property, etc).
  3. Have a great life along the way.

We’ve done well. When we first married, AdventureMan wanted to go to Africa and see the animals. We saved for a year and spent a month in Kenya and Tanzania before starting a family, then once we were living back overseas, we went back to various African countries on safari ten times. We worked hard, and we have a ball along the way.

But I had never had an opportunity to stay at Timberline Lodge. It’s TIME!

 

It was another case of not wanting to mention to AdventureMan that it might be a bit tricky getting up there, but although there is still a lot of snow, we didn’t have any problems on the roads. And, even though the parking lot, we are told, is full, AdventureMan, with his famous great luck, waited while I checked us in, and while he was waiting a beautiful parking spot opened up right in front of the Lodge. Woo HOOOOO!

This is our room, up on the third floor. All the beds have thick comforters and Pendleton blankets.

 

 

The view from our room is out over one of the ski trails 🙂

 

 

I am totally in heaven. A dream has come true, and we are having a lot of fun. AdventureMan asked if we should bring in our swim suits, and I looked at him like he was crazy. “It’s a SKI lodge,” I informed him, a little haughtily. Oh, Intlxpatr, woe! The registration clerk looked at me and said “We do! We have an outdoor pool down at the end of this hall” and pointed down the hall. I was humbled, and the pool was beautiful; a gorgeous contrast in hot and cold. Don’t you love the skiers skiing right by the pool?

 

We ate all our meals in the Lodge, the spaces were so beautiful. This is the downstairs lounge:

 

I am such a sucker for stone fireplaces, wood floors and leather furniture. I should live in Montana!

We ate in the Rams Head restaurant, looking out over the peak of Mount Hood:

 

I ordered the cassoulet, which, when it came, I said “I thought it had chicken in it!”

 

It did, it was hiding under the endive salad.

AdventureMan ordered the charcuterie platter, and loved every bite.

He couldn’t even finish his cheese platter, not could I finish my cassoulet, too much food and we can’t take it with us.

This is the Cascade Dining Room, where we had breakfast the next morning:

 

This trip has had so many highlights, and we both agree that staying at Timberline Lodge is a life-high experience. 🙂

When talking with my Mom, she said back in the day, she and a bunch of friends from university would head over to Timberline Lodge for the weekends, and that they stayed in large bunk-room dorms, because it was all about the skiing. 🙂

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Hotels, Money Management, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | Leave a comment

Ft. Bragg, California; Where we Dined at Mayan Fusion

AdventureMan had a bug; he had found a place on Yelp called Mayan Fusion, and here we are in California, he wants Mexican-Mayan. So we head to Mayan Fusion, which is full of our demographic (retired, still physically active, travelers, etc) and the smells are delicious.

 

 

Mayan Fusion Ginger Berry Sangria

Here is where everything starts to get fuzzy for me. One of the specials of the day was this Ginger Berry Sangria. I’ve made Sangria – you know, fruit and a light wine, and this sounds interesting. The first sip had a wallop. I could have stopped drinking then, I probably should have, but oh, I do love ginger, and this “sangria” was delicious and refreshing.

Well, one sip and I lost a lot of my higher thinking functions.

I think this was my husband’s dinner. I can’t remember what it was called.

Or maybe this was my dinner.

 

Or maybe this was my dinner, but I think it might have been my husband’s.

Here was the special dip; it tasted a lot like bean dip made with several different beans; I think we started with this.

“What was in that Sangria?” I asked the elderly waitress as we were waiting for the bill and she was clearing.

“Oh, we start with a big shot of vodka . . . ” she started.

I don’t know when I last had hard alcohol, not at all in the last seven or eight years, rarely for maybe 15 years, since we left Germany.

We went straight back to the hotel and I fell sound asleep.

June 3, 2018 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Cold Drinks, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Grandkid Update

 

Grandchildren activities take up a goodly portion of our current life here in Pensacola. They are a lot of fun, and they are also exhausting.

Q, who loves to read, is the happiest we have ever known him to be. He has a teacher who truly loves children and facilitates their success. He is excelling; it is like flying to him, he loves learning. We dance for joy that he loves to read; it is one of the most valuable tools in the tool-box. He is full, each day, of joyful energy. He comes in and immediately starts to jump on the trampoline, and, after snack, will climb back on to practice his spelling or vocabulary words. Baba / AdventureMan enriches his lessons and helps him research anything he doesn’t understand. Stopping by the grocery on his way home from school this week, AdventureMan asked if Q would like a cookie, and he said “No, but some of that smoked trout would be nice.” LOL! I love it that he loves smoked fish; it’s in the genes.

N, the four year old, is hilarious. Daughter and granddaughter of women who don’t accept boundaries (her mother played rugby!), she is all girl. She loves to wear dresses, especially those with twirl and sparkle, and skirts made out of netting, skirts that remind me of ballerinas and tutus. At the ballet last week, she was totally engrossed, moving her hands in attempts to mimic that motions of the dancers. She gets into my Middle Eastern perfumes and ends up smelling like a babe from the house of the rising sun. She loves to practice writing her letters, and she paints wonderful pictures.

I think of this one as “In a Gadda Da Vida” because of the leaf and the glued on droplets :-).  You know it is me in the upper right hand corner because of the eyelashes.

 

 

I can only guess that the smiling face next to mine might be AdventureMan. Maybe he is wearing the fig leaf?

 

And here am I, in all my radiant glory. Can you figure out how I know it is me? No, not the green complexion, it is the big eyelashes and lipstick. Go girly girl!

That might be AdventureMan/Baba down at the bottom. We are never entirely sure without obvious clues.

February 25, 2018 Posted by | Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Family Issues | Leave a comment