Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Rest in Peace, Donald Rumsfeld

You can admire a man without agreeing with him. Donald Rumsfeld gave me one of my favorite quotes:

Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult ones.

I always thought he said “it is the latter category that bites us in the butt,” but maybe that was the unofficial version.

June 30, 2021 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Counter-terrorism, Cultural, ExPat Life, Political Issues | | Leave a comment

Kids Eat Healthy in New Orleans

There are times when AdventureMan and I take a grown-ups trip to New Orleans, and at those times, we eat in restaurants where the food is too rich and we come back hating ourselves. On occasion, rich is tasty, wonderful and delicious and you can’t resist.

Fortunately for us, most of the time when we head for New Orleans we have our grandchildren with us, and we have to behave ourselves.

A good friend told us about The Parkview – a historic inn, perfect for us in so many ways. We buy an annual membership to the Audubon Zoo, which is almost next door. There is a really cool park for children just across the street. There is parking on the street, and cookies every day late in the afternoon. The St. Charles streetcar stops right in front of the hotel, going in both directions. The lobby is full of fascinating exotica – stuffed peacocks, antique furniture and countless clocks. Their brochure welcomes “well-behaved children” and our grandchildren take that to heart – they want to be welcome at this hotel!

We are not always adults who behave responsibly, but when we are entrusted with our grandchildren, we are on our best behavior.

We have been delighted to find that there are places in New Orleans which welcome children, treat them respectfully and offer some healthy options.

While we have (after some hilariously awkward situations) learned to avoid the French Quarter with children, we have found some work arounds that make it a more acceptable adventure.

Felipe’s Mexican Taqueria

301 N. Peters Street New Orleans, LA 70130

This is not a fancy place, not at all. This is a place where you order at the counter, and carry food to a condiments stand and then to your table. There are no tablecloths. It is full of French Quarter workers finishing their shift providing hospitality for New Orleans visitors, tired, hungry and knowing where to find a good meal at a reasonable price, and a glass or two or three of beer. Chips and salsa, tacos, burritos, beans and rice – the basics, done well. Our grandchildren can always find something or order, no one cares if something spills, it is a little noisy and chaotic – a great place to take kids, and enough on the edge of the French Quarter as not to be a problem.

Louisiana Pizza Kitchen, French Quarter

95 French Market Pl, New Orleans, LA 70116

There are several Louisiana Pizza Kitchens, and this is the one we really like. It has so much more than pizza, and it has raw brick walls, a fun vibe, and you can take the trolley from the end of Canal street all the way to the French Market Station and avoid a lot of the FQ tawdry experience. Our grandson ordered a calimari dish that knocked our socks off, and the desserts were fabulous. When you add it all up, it’s not a cheap meal but we had a refrigerator and the kids loved having pizza for breakfast, too.

So much for the French Quarter. We don’t spend a lot of time there with children.

Two Chicks Cafe

two locations:

901 Convention Center Boulevard

or

920 Gravier Street

You can see both Two Chicks Cafe’s on the map above. The one at the convention center, near the WWII Museum, has better parking. At the one on Gravier, you will probably have to pay to park in a lot or on the street, if you can find a place. It is handy from several of the hotels. The line forms early! They have unhealthy food, but they also have fresh juices, fruit, crepes, eggs in a variety of ways to your command; you can eat healthy if you wish. The kids find this place fascinating, and more than a little French.

La Madeleine, Carrolton

Just as St. Charles turns right into Carrolton, La Madeleine is on your right, just on the corner. There are other locations, one up in Metairie near Drago’s. It is a sort of French-ish cafe that also serves meals, cafeteria style ordering offering a large variety of salads, soups, chicken, salmon, small sandwiches, you can eat healthy. Once ordered, cooked meals are delivered to your table, salads and soups are prepared as you wait in line. Of course, we always ruin it by allowing the children to choose a French pastry for dessert, but eh! We are in New Orleans! One time my granddaughter went to wash her hands and didn’t come back; I found her speaking French along with the language tape playing in the restroom. Not fancy, but a very comfortable place with children.

Superior Seafood

4338 St. Charles Avenue

Our grandchildren love this place. So do their parents. So do we. Great food choices for grown-ups and for kids, some of them healthy. We started going there where we found their name on an article written for parents bringing children to NOLA; Superior Seafoods was a top listed restaurant for kindness to children. We have been there many times and the wait staff is unfailingly courteous and patient, and we are unfailingly grateful. Here, they learned to love grilled oysters. And profiterole. Huge fish sandwiches. And they don’t even realize they are learning a whole lot about how to behave in a restaurant which will, we hope, be handy for them later in life.

On the same map, above, you can also see Saba, on Magazine Street, La Boulangerie, also on Magazine, and Shaya. These are also options if your children are accepting of less familiar foods. Saba and Shaya are both “Mediterranian” or Israeli, offering Middle Eastern foods – rice, plain meats, flat bread, dips – most children can find something to eat while the grown-ups enjoy more sophisticated taste treats.

Drago’s Metairie: Home of the Charbroiled Oyster

While last, Drago’s is not least. Metairie is not that far if you have a car, literally minutes. The chargrilled oysters make this restaurant worth a trip. Children are everywhere, this is a huge restaurant, and very much a family gathering place. They have all the rich Southern and Cajun staples, and a few salads and gumbo soups and bisque, not particularly healthy choices. They do offer some non-fried fish dishes, entree’ salads and vegetable sides.

Creole Creamery

You’ve been so good! Creole Creamery is not a healthy option, but you can order a very small scoop, or you can order a sorbet, or you can tell yourself it is a reward for good behavior with all the healthy eating you have been doing 😉 The children will love this place – and so will you!

June 6, 2021 Posted by | Cultural, Food, Geography / Maps, New Orleans, Restaurant, Travel | , | Leave a comment

Origami Restaurant: A Happy Accident in New Orleans

I will spare you all the details of our latest trip to New Orleans except for one happy accident. As we were leaving the Audubon Zoo, we all decided we would like Japanese food / sushi for lunch, and we’ve been to a couple on Magazine which we considered less than stellar. Normally, I’ve done my research. Not this time. In desperation, I Google “Japanese restaurant near me” and up pops Origami, 5130 Freret St, New Orleans, LA 70115, just seven minutes away.

With no further recommendation, we decide to take a chance. It is close. We are hoping parking may be easier than on Magazine. It is between us and the nearest entrance to I-10, which we will be taking after lunch to get back to Pensacola.

We get there in six minutes. There is parking right on the street. There are customers leaving and customers entering who look a lot like us, except we have children with us.

Once inside, we love it. The waitress approaches and shows no dismay that we have children. She shows us to a spacious booth.

It is a popular place, full of locals, regulars and relaxed people. They have a huge board on the wall with daily specials, and a menu so large that as I started reading, my hungry husband pointed out that there is a lunch menu and it would be faster just to order from that.

Once we had ordered, we all went to wash hands. Washing hands was a treat! The bathroom was actually very clean, and granddaughter pointed out the flower arrangement.

So many beautiful things to look at! I love it when a restaurant creates a sensual experience beyond really good food!

A huge flock of Origami cranes!

This is exactly the kind of experience we love to have with our grandchildren – lots to look at, tactile, visual, and a great way to spend a few minutes while we are waiting for our lunch.

We all love miso soup, even though it is good for us.

I am embarrased to tell you, this is my order. So much food! It is more like a complete Bento box, with soup and salad and rolls and even the seaweed salad I adore. Sadly, we couldn’t take it with us. I shared, but it was too much food. I later saw on the menu I could have ordered just the tempura; that would have made a better meal for me. Ah well, next time 🙂

Our grandson ordered a special roll called Bye Bye Katrina. He is like his grandfather, very adventuresome.

My granddaughter was also very adventuresome, she ordered the snow crab roll and assortment. It was healthy and delicious! She tried everything.

AdventureMan had the three roll assortment. It was too much food. One reason we ordered too much was that the prices were so reasonable we thought there must be less food. Not so, our grandson informed us, a friend of his parents had told them that you will always get generous portions in New Orleans, it is part of the whole Bon Temps and hospitality thing.

The waitress offered us boxes, but we were headed out on a three plus hour drive back to Pensacola without refrigeration on a hot and humid day . . . we had to decline.

We are thrilled to add this restaurant to our “healthy places to eat in New Orleans where they are also kind to children.”

Origami

5130 Freret St, New Orleans, LA 70115

June 6, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Civility, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Family Issues, Food, New Orleans, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

MomFest in New Orleans

Didn’t we just have a fest in New Orleans? On Saturday, AdventureMan and I were having chargrilled oysters at The Original Oyster House, our favorite seafood place along the Spanish Fort causeway going into Mobile.

As usual, we were having a discussion about words. I had decided that Saturday would be the beginning of Mother’s Day, and as we were meeting up with our son on Sunday, and heading to New Orleans for Monday and Tuesday, it would end up being a four day celebration. AdventureMan wondered what a four day celebration would be called. I suggested a four day weekend, and he said, no, MomQuad. I didn’t like the sound of that, so I announced, definitively, that we would call it the MomFest, which had a less legalistic and more celebratory flavor.

Sunday, too, was lovely, having time with our son where we could hear about his life and his adventures in prosecution. His accused was very sure he would not be convicted – “If they have no face, they have no case!” but our son, by his careful and painstaking work, proved him very wrong.

And Monday we headed to New Orleans, hitting the road around 0830 for an anticipated 1130 arrival.

Oops. Not so fast. Just out of Mobile we ran into massive thunderclouds and shocking bolts of lightning, and torrents of rain rushing up from the gigantic wheels of the trucks who drove hell-bent-for-leather to get their cargos in on time in spite of the weather.

The storm was easing up as we crossed the causeway into New Orleans, and by the time we got to Magazine Street, it had stopped raining and the sun began to peep out.

We love the variety available on Magazine street, and we haven’t had Ethiopian food for weeks :-).

Yes! Cafe Abyssinia, here we come again, a family tradition when we hit New Orleans just in time for lunch. Our waiter this time was delightful, a man from Chicago, related to the restaurant owner, who has actually been back to visit family in Ethiopia. He had great stories to tell about his family there, how they love hearing about America, and how they made him feel so welcome, and a part of a much bigger family.

Samson at Cafe Abyssinia

Then on to Zito’s and to Enrique’s to pick up items we had left to be fixed, polished or mended. Always a good reason to come back. We had a good visit, then headed to Creole Creamery on our way to The Parkview. Usually when it comes to ice cream flavors, AdventureMan and I go our separate ways, maybe sharing small bites with one another, but this time we both landed on the same flavor: Bittersweet Chocolate Torte. It was divine. We had to eat it sitting out in our car, as no one is allowed to sit inside and even the numbers who can come in are limited, but we were lucky. When we went back the next day, there was a long line of people outside, waiting for their turn to go inside.

I did look at VRBO for this trip, but it’s just an overnight, and oh, we love The Parkview. We love the parking, we love the park, we love the proximity to the zoo, and we love that you can catch the streetcar going in either direction just outside the front door, on St. Charles.

We had a different room this time, and I didn’t think I was going to love it, but we did. It was on the main floor, near check in and the breakfast room, but because of COVID, and in spite of the fact the hotel was fully booked, it was not noisy, the bed was huge with a good mattress and linens, and we had plenty of space.

So this was our bed. AdventureMan noticed it had a face on it, which after he described where it was, I could see it. But I also saw a heart, which he did not, and another stylized face high above, on the crown over the bed.

Can you see the face? The heart?
This is the face I saw on the top of the bed

We had dinner again at Superior Seafoods; we split the grilled oysters, each had a salad, and AdventureMan had grilled shrimp, while once again, I exercised poor judgement and had the rich and satisfying BBQ Shrimp. We had a 45 minute wait to get in – New Orleans high schools, Loyola and Tulane are having graduations, and the place is a madhouse – but we had a delightful conversation with a young couple, she was just finishing graduate school and the two of them were on a quest to eat as many oysters as possible before leaving New Orleans for Nashville.

When I say I exercised bad judgement, it is not a reflection on the food. The food was marvelous. I am diabetic and I have no reason on earth to eat injera (Ethiopian pancake-bread) for lunch, really creamy ice cream at midday, and grilled buttery oysters and buttery BBQ shrimp for dinner. It was very foolish of me. Oh well, every now and then I allow myself a little bad judgement.

When we hit the road the next morning, the heavens opened and torrents of rain followed bolts of lightning. Traffic was a little lighter heading east. Our sweet and caring daughter-in-law texted us to fill our tanks before leaving Mississippi, as on top of the pipeline hack for ransom, a major Pensacola gas distributor had failed an EPA requirement and many Pensacola gas stations were dry. Even as far back as Biloxi, gas stations had cars lined up. We did manage to fill the tank, and we turned off the air conditioning for the rest of the drive. The situation seems to be easing in Pensacola, but there is such a fear of a gas shortage that people are panic buying.

So today’s conversation was the difference between a buccaneer and a pirate. Do you know the difference? For a fascinating glimpse into early American history, you can read this lengthy and clear explanation here.

May 13, 2021 Posted by | Chocolate, Cultural, Eating Out, Health Issues, Hotels, New Orleans, Pensacola, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel, Weather | , , , , , | Leave a comment

FamilyFest in New Orleans

Time goes on and we have heard rumors that New Orleans is actually safer than Pensacola. The family needs some time together, just to be, and we love to travel together.

To be as safe as we can be, we choose to rent a place through VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) and there is a large selection. We want to share space, and we also want this family of introverts to have space to escape one another, too. We found a beautiful place on Napoleon Avenue, close to several places we love, great walking, even a bakery, La Boulangerie, with fresh croissants and pain au chocolat for breakfast.

We have a tradition of starting at the Cafe Abyssinia – Pensacola doesn’t have any Ethiopian food, which we love for it’s flavor and healthiness. We order the Vegetarian platter, and add Doro Wat, a spicy chicken stew.

Cafe Abyssinia Vegetarian Platter plus Doro Wat

Then to the zoo. We hit paydirt, we don’t know why but the zoo is nearly empty. We have a Krewe membership, but we still had to make reservations. Totally worth it.

One of the reasons we normally stay at The Parkview is they have the most fabulous playground in the world. This time, it was a real thrill. All the houses in the neighborhood had signs in their yards saying “Thank You Drew” for the Saint’s retiring quarterback who created this wonderul playground and lives in this neighborhood.

It isn’t just a swing-set, it is also public art 🙂

The Yoga Moms do outdoor yoga near this glorious old oak

“We’re staying in a mansion!” our beautiful, imaginative grand-daughter exclaimed as she entered our rental. It was less costly and more space than spending three nights in two rooms at The Parkview.

Dining room

Kitchen

Entry with stained glass
King bedroom
Walk in closet in King master bath
Huge sleeping porch BR with 2 Queen beds
Queen suite also has bathroom
We found we really needed the washer and dryer
Queen Suite Bath with laundry, Jacuzzi tub and separate walk in shower

Part of the fun was walking to places where we could order out to eat. Magazine street has so many good restaurants; the first night was Japanese, the next day was mid-day wood oven pizza from New York Pizza. We ate it too fast to get a good picture. It was delicious!

Our favorite meal of the trip, on one of our all time favorite New Orleans restaurants, Superior Seafood, within walking distance on Saint Charles. What is not to love? It is here, long ago, that we introduced our grandchildren to grilled oysters, fish sandwiches, and profiteroles!

Sunday Brunch, so they have live music
A lot of people go just for the oysters and the bread
A socially distanced group was having a birthday party

We ordered two dozen grilled oysters to share among the six of us. They are so rich, but they went fast. Too fast to photograph!

My entree, BBQ Shrimp. Fussy and messy but oh, so good!
Our grandson’s Catfish Sandwich, huge, and he ate it all!
Our granddaughter had the “kid’s” fish portion, also huge. Don’t you love that the catsup comes in a silver sauce server?

One of the highlights of the trip came at the time our waitress asked if we wanted dessert. When five of us ordered profiteroles, she exclaimed “Five?” She seemed so shocked! We assured her we wanted five portions (and a slice of carrot cake for one of the party) and she brought five, two profiterole each, SO good. They provide a bittersweet hot chocolate sauce in a silver server which you can pour over the profiteroles.

The next morning we all scrambled to strip our beds and pile all the sheets and towels in near the washer and dryer, make sure we left the kitchen as we found it, dishes washed, garbages emptied. It was a small price to pay for such a spacious and lovely location.

And the reward was breakfast at the new Two Chicks location, closer to the French Quarter hotels. We fortunately got there early, before the line formed outside to get a table!

I love to leave New Orleans with a taste of morning crepes in my mouth 🙂

We had picked up some items we had left to be polished and plated over a year ago. There they sat, with my name on them, but one of the pieces I was sure wasn’t mine. It is a bath box, and I was sure it was copper. When I picked it up, it wasn’t copper at all, it was sparkling brass. Zito’s Polishing and Plating does a fabulous job making our pieces from the Middle East look great again. Another stop was Enrique’s, to have some of our carpets mended.

So it wasn’t all walking and eating, we also had business to take care of, things we can’t get done in Pensacola.

On the way home, we saw a billboard nearing Mobile for Dick Russel’s, and we thought we would give it a try. We had to wait a half an hour, socially distanced and masked, although many of the people had noses out or a mask just hanging off an ear as they waited outside. The people waiting kept telling us we would love the BBQ.

The biscuits were fresh, and really good
BBQ Turkey, beans and cole slaw
Pulled pork, onion rings and greens

The truth is, we will never go back. BBQ is personal, and we were both horrified by the sauce, which others raved about. It tasted mostly like catsup to us. Sauce, in our humble opinion, makes the BBQ. This did not thrill our hearts.

All in all, however, a great family trip, our first outing as a family for over a year.

May 13, 2021 Posted by | Cultural, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Food, Hotels, Local Lore, Music, New Orleans, Public Art, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Social Issues, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Creme Chantilly: Happy Easter, Mom

Easter week, and I allow myself Creme Chantilly with my morning coffee.

Cream whipped with powdered sugar and a little vanilla for Easter morning crepes with the ham and other Easter dishes, it is a bittersweet treat this year; sweet and joyful that we can gather as a family to celebrate Easter, our good health, our hopes for the years to come, and sad, too, because most of what I have learned in terms of meal preparation and entertaining, I learned from my Mom.

My Mom died a year ago this week, in Seattle, one of the earliest victims of the COVID virus. I am still coming to grips with the way she died. When she went into the hospital, they were trying to figure out what this virus was, and how do deal with it. Even those already in Seattle could not visit nor sit by her bed. Flying from Pensacola to Seattle was unthinkable, but such a temptation. She was brave. We all FaceTimed, and she told us we were good, and we were loved. She faced her demise valiantly.

Rest in Peace, Mom. I am thinking of you all this week, and drinking your Creme Chantilly in my coffee.

April 6, 2021 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Circle of Life and Death, Cultural, Easter, Family Issues, Heritage, Hot drinks, Quality of Life Issues | Leave a comment

Bird in a Basket

We’re home from tutoring, and I ask my granddaughter if she would like some strawberry crepes for an afternoon snack.

“How about Bird in a Basket?” she counters. This girl knows what she wants.

My husband is even better than I am at teaching the grandchildren to cook. He has them doing eggs over easy, eggs sunny side up, omelettes and even baked beans.

She watches me cut the hole, butter the bread and turn on the stove. She is attentive at my elbow as I break the eggs into the holes. (She says she is not ready to do it herself.) And then, as it cooks, she loses interest and runs off to chat with AdventureMan.

She can smell when they are finished; she has the family nose. She handily eats the whole thing!

April 6, 2021 Posted by | Cooking, Cultural, Food, Generational, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships | | Leave a comment

The Ninth Circle of Hell: Treachery

It’s a normal, peaceful, quiet Friday afternoon when my husband says “I want you to see this” and everything changes. He is about to clean out the cat litter box, when, (and really, this is propitious, not a bad thing) he spots blood on a recent stool. I quickly find a jar and a plastic spoon, scoop out the incredibly smelly bloody mess and seal it quickly. Within minutes, we are in the car and on our way to the veterinarian with Ragnar.

Our veterinarian is not the poshest vet in town, but he is one we consider very knowledgeable and down to earth. He may seem unemotional – that’s probably a good thing when dealing with sick or hurt animals and their anxious owners – but we always feel confident he will tell us the truth as he knows it, and he knows a lot.

It’s first come, first served unless it’s an emergency, and they are all emergencies on a Friday afternoon. There is already a long line waiting to sign in. We get in line, and before the office has even opened for the afternoon, there is a long line behind us.

My husband is a good man; he has offered to take Ragnar by himself. For many years, I had all the cat-to-the-vet duties, and he is trying to even things out, trying to give me a break, and in return, when it might be really serious, I always go with him so he doesn’t have to make a serious decision about an animal he loves by himself.

Going to the vet is probably one of my least favorite experiences in the world. I am empathetic. I am empathetic with people, and also with animals. My sense of smell is very strong. At the veterinarian office on this Friday, I smell the damp fur of anxiety, the involuntary urine, the smell of sickness and fear, and I have to do breathing patterns to keep down my own overwhelming sense of sorrow and turbulent stomach.

There is a lot of noise, people talking, dogs yipping, the waiting cats mostly scared and silent. There is one dog, somewhere, scared and in pain, and he makes a long, low, loudly mournful moan, time after time. It is the ninth circle of hell, the circle of treachery, and although we are trying to do the right thing for our little loved ones, they are in misery, and betrayed by the people they love and count on to take care of them.

We wait a long time, two hours, before the vet can even see us, and it is not the vet we trust, but an associate vet.

So the good news is that she is a compassionate veterinarian, and also knowledgeable; she wins our trust. Another piece of good news, Ragnar, although ill, is docile and curious. He is greatly unafraid, both a blessing and a curse, but part of his nature. She analyzes the sample, tells us it is full of bacteria, speculates briefly on the cause and gives us a container full of half pills to take home, advising us that they taste bad and to wrap them in butter or cream cheese.

We are all so glad to get out of there we come home and take naps. We are emotionally spent. Being home again helps. Snoozing helps.

The veterinarian very kindly had the pills split in half for Ragnar and soon it was time to give him his first pill, which is truly a two person job. Ragnar is usually ver good about taking pills, but there are two problems. The first is that the pill tastes very bad. The second is that because it is split in half, it has corners and is not so easy to swallow as a round pill. We also discovered that cream cheese was not a good medium for Ragnar; we wasted a half a pill and thoroughly frightened our cat during the cream-cheese experiment, and we had cream-cheesy cat drool throughout the house.

In very short time, Ragnar is back to being fully his lively, curious, fearless, active self and, at the risk of being indelicate, his stool was back to normal, and not bloody. He still has to take the pills, but with butter, we are getting it done and he forgets and forgives by a minute or two after the pill trauma.

March 23, 2021 Posted by | Circle of Life and Death, Cultural, Family Issues, Pets | , | Leave a comment

The Covid Conversation

It’s been an interesting week. Last week, there was no swimming. It was a welcome break in terms of sleep; no alarm, being lazy (LOL, being lazy is sleeping until 0600 instead of 0530) taking a walk now and then when I needed movement . . .

It was also handy because at my annual skin scan, my adorable dermatologist wrinkled her brow as she looked at me through her magic magnifier and said “Oh! we need to take care of THAT!” and THAT was prominently on my cheek.

(A brief aside because I cannot resist – when I was shown to the exam room, the tech asked if I wanted a gown and I said yes, and then, not being a smart-mouth but because I wanted to understand, I asked “What is the alternative? Like I stand here naked? Do people do that?” Sometimes I really am a stranger in my own land, and maybe I’ve missed some growing lack of self-consciousness? The tech laughed and said “No, there are people who will NOT take their clothes off!” I tried to comprehend that and totally failed. “So what’s the point of a skin scan?” I asked, “How can they be examined?” The tech said “We pull at their clothes a little and look underneath, but yeh, it’s not complete.” Totally boggled my mind.)

I have never been so happy about masking in my life. Having a big crispy spot about the size of a quarter on my cheek makes me feel like a teen-ager again, like every eye will be fixed on my boo-boo.

With my mask covering my big blotch, I got my second COVID vaccination. Yes, I might be suggestible, and then again, I am not a big baby, but my arm was sore almost immediately. By evening, I had chills so bad I was taking hot baths to feel warm enough. I had a headache just between my two eyes, and I was SO tired. The next day, I felt the same. Finally, the second night, I took an Aleve and slept wonderfully. The next morning, I was fine.

So I really needed the week off from swimming. One funny thing about the COVID vaccination, and again, who knows, it may be in my mind, but all of a sudden I have a sharp sense of smell again. It comes from my father’s side of the family, some of us have it and some of us don’t, but I think it had faded, and right now, it is noticeably back again, and oh, what joy it brings me.

So all the health drama is over now, I am back at swimming, and we continue to have work done to make our house safer and more energy efficient. A roof inspector, seeing our stack of photo albums (labeled Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, etc.) asked us if we had ever been to Alaska, and that started a great conversation, one we are hearing over and over as more people get vaccinated.

“We’ve decided we don’t want to wait any longer. We don’t know how many good years we have left. We are going to travel now, while we can,” he said.

He and his wife want to see Alaska. They want to see France. We had a great conversation, and I sent him some information by e-mail.

COVID has had its gifts, and awareness is one of them. Couple after couple have told us the same thing, this feeling of urgency to do it now, while we can.

We have four trips booked. One, a passage from Japan through Kamchatka and the Aleutians and the Alaskan Gulf, we’ve had booked for over a year. Another is a trip which COVID cancelled, but we want to do it and have scheduled it again. Another is coming up soon, a trip with our family to New Orleans, where we will continue to socially distance in a VRBO near Magazine, near the Audubon Zoo, near the Saint Charles trolley and several of our favorite restaurants with our family, and one back out to Yellowstone and Glacier, staying in cabins, mostly with kitchens. We’re good with take-out; in fact we’ve grown to really like it.

Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite

It’s not a hardship for us. We are introverts. We travel quietly. We stop and observe. I take photos. At night, I write reviews and research possibilities for the next day’s route. Part of the fun I have in life is finding really fun places to stay, some of which, like El Tovar at the Grand Canyon, or Ahwahnee in Yosemite, (LOL, “Yo! Semite!”) have to book far in advance, like sometimes a year out or more. Right now, several of the most popular cruises are already booked in 2021 and 2022 by people a lot like us, yearning to be back out on the road.

El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon

People in Florida are concerned about another wave of COVID following Spring Break. I am thinking here we are, all eager to get back on the road, us restless Boomers, and we’ve forgotten the pounding compelling imperatives of youth – meeting, mating, maybe even committing. But that’s another conversation . . .

March 13, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Circle of Life and Death, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Fitness / FitBit, Health Issues, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

“Plenty of Sunshine Heading our Way”

We’ve been having Seattle weather – weeks of cold, dreary, cloudy days and heavy fog some mornings causing bad accidents. We are ready for some Spring. And it’s coming, starting today:

Plenty of sunshine heading our way!

The original Disney version of this song

March 3, 2021 Posted by | Cultural, Heritage, Living Conditions, Music, Pensacola, Weather | Leave a comment