Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

“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

“Can’t I Buy You a Diamond?”

“No,” I replied. “How about we buy another house?”

So we did. It’s the house we are living in now, the house we bought, we sold, and we bought back again, and, God willing, I will never move again.

It always cracks him up that I don’t want a diamond. He says it would be cheaper to buy me a big diamond. He is right, but houses are better long term investments.

We had a great division of labor. AdventureMan worked hard, and his career took us to exotic locations, locations we both loved and found intellectually stimulating and challenging to our assumptions. He always chose his jobs in consultation with me.

I handled logistics and finances. I moved us, I packed and unpacked (AdventureMan handled movers on moving days) and I recommended investments, on which we decided together. Until we closed on this house, AdventureMan had never been through the closing process (the first time we had to place a call to the Red Cross in Germany, all planned in advance, who would verify that my husband was alive and well and standing in front of them) so that I could sign the papers with a power of attorney.

So no, diamonds are of no interest to me. I quilt, I cook, I garden, I do upholstery, I strung electrical wires – I work with my hands. When we travel, if I see some little earrings I can’t resist, real gold or real gemstones, we might buy them and they show up in my stocking at Christmas. I am content.

Oh yeh, and I like to buy houses.

AdventureMan knows me well. Last night he looked me deep in the eyes and said “With the pool closed this week, I know you’ll miss the exercise. I am willing to get up as early as eight to walk with you.”

That is a true sacrifice. AdventureMan loves his sleep, and he has earned every moment of it. I have a need to front load my day; I am an early riser and like to get it done. I don’t begrudge his sleeping in after all his years in the military rising at what he called “the crap of dawn,” and I fully appreciate his willingness to get up early and walk with me.

I love walking. This neighborhood is a great neighborhood for walking; the area between the two major thoroughfares are quiet and peaceful. Most of the houses are family owned, people are friendly, and where there are rentals, they are mostly to families with young children who want to be in this particular school district.

We are sort of looking for our next house. No, we are not going to move, but I think this is a really good neighborhood to own a small rental house. We’ve learned how important it is to have a good property manager; we wouldn’t manage it ourselves. I’m looking for something small, something we can clean up and modernize and rent out. I’m not in a hurry; we have enough going on right now with the updates on our current home, but we are who we are – we are people who need projects, who thrive facing a challenge, we are good problem solvers. And I like to have diversity in our investments.

AdventureMan is fully on board. With investments, I am the cautious one, he is more of a risk taker. Together, we do pretty well.

March 1, 2021 Posted by | Aging, Building, Cultural, Exercise, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Fitness / FitBit, Living Conditions, Marriage, Money Management, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships | Leave a comment

Pensacola: Florida Man

Today, as we were en route to pick up lunch, we were stopped at a stop light. We had been stopped there for about 45 seconds, the light was very red.

Suddenly, on our left, an SUV came rushing up and without even slowing down, much less stopping, he blasted through that very red light.

I’ve given up cursing for Lent. In the surprise and the shock of the adrenalin jolt, out popped “WTF??”

There is a character in Florida so common that he has his own meme: Florida Man. Florida Man Runs Naked Down the Interstate. Florida Man Kills Stranger With a Hammer While High on Meth. Florida Man Hit Man on Highway and Calls it In as a Deer. Oops, not that one, wrong state. But you get the picture. Generally, Florida Man thinks the rules don’t apply to him.

I had a run-in with Florida Man once, when we lived in the Tampa/St. Pete area, except Florida Man was a woman who was really PO’d with me when our two lines of cars were zippering to get on the interstate and when I zippered, even though she was honking at me in her big truck, she got infuriated that I didn’t defer, and she chased me up the highway, trying to cut me off, coming really close to hitting me. I left the highway rather than take a chance with a lunatic who was also likely carrying a gun.

Even for Florida Man, running a very very red red light at high speed without even slowing down is exceptional. And then, maybe 10 seconds later, a large Pensacola police SUV with lights and siren rolling, went zooming through the same red light, followed by another PPD vehicle.

This was worth a good ten minutes of discussion. We don’t think the police caught him (or her) as the car was going SO fast, and changing into the left lane, I am guessing the driver, just out of sight, turned left and evaded a confrontation.

AdventureMan observed that evading the police these days is a very temporary thing; clearly they were chasing this car even before he zoomed through the red light. They know the car, they’ve probably run the license, at the very least they have him on film. Two cars were chasing him; running the red light was probably just icing on the cake. So we are running the probabilities; I am saying if I know I am guilty of something, probably something serious, and the police are about to arrest me, running a red light might be a percentage play if it keeps me free another hour or day or month or two. Maybe it’s worth the risk to run that light, and likely this is not a person who is giving a lot of thought to the welfare of others.

How fragile life is. On a quiet, calm Sunday, just making a quick trip to pick up some take-out, anything can happen.

February 28, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Circle of Life and Death, Civility, Crime, Cultural, Florida, Law and Order, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Random Musings, Stranger in a Strange Land | 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

Valentines Day, and AdventureMan Scores

My greatest fear, when AdventureMan retired, was that after the life of challenge and adventure we had led, he would be bored and restless. Instead his days are full. He supervises all the house repairs and researches financial questions, plays with the grandchildren (who are able to give him a run for his money in the games they play), he supervises the landscaping and gardening, and . . . . he cooks.

He doesn’t just cook. He tries new recipes all the time. Most of the time they are really, really good. Occasionally, we just don’t care for it. But tonight, for Valentines Day, he went all out, and oh WOW.

Tonight he fixed Wagyu filets he found at a nearby butcher shop; he stuffed them with a crab mixture, and wrapped them in bacon. Oh WOW. He pounded pepper coarsely in a mortar, and patted it onto the sides before cooking, and while they were cooking, he and made a brandy-mushroom cream sauce to serve with it.

We agreed it was his BEST Mushroom sauce ever, made with Cremini mushrooms.

We went by the Craft bakery early in the day to pick up a freshly baked Focaccia, and my paltry contribution was a leafy green salad.

We feasted. We agreed this dinner matched the best we had eaten in any restaurant we could remember. It was rich. It was flavorful. AdventureMan took full honors.

He also thought to buy our last King Cake for our dessert; Lent starts this Wednesday and King Cake will be no more for another year. We are too full to eat it. AdventureMan thinks maybe in an hour, with a little French Vanilla ice cream, but I am not so sure.

February 14, 2021 Posted by | Cooking, Cultural, Entertainment, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues | | 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

There’s No Place Like Home

Back in Pensacola; we love our sunsets and the Wolf Moon setting over the Bayou Texar:

February 5, 2021 Posted by | Pensacola, Sunsets | Leave a comment

An Edmonds Kind of Day in Pensacola

My husband had agreed to go to the Commissary with me today, and asked what time he needed to be up to go with me. “Oh, some time between 0830 and 0900 would be great.” I replied. He paled, his eyes were desperate, but he didn’t say a thing.

And he was up, early, and dressed and ready to go by 0830, which caught me by surprise, I had thought we would leave closer to nine. By quarter of nine, we were out the door and by 1000, we had finished at the commissary. I found everything I needed except radishes; I have a craving for fresh radishes, and the shelves at the commissary were a little bare.

When we reached home, my husband helped bring in all the groceries, then headed for a little bakery he discovered to pick up a sourdough baguette for dinner.

He had made a big pot of Bourride, a fish stew with aoili, the night before and wanted a rustic bread. He found Craft bakery next to a Japanese restaurant we like, and brought home two very crusty sourdough bagettes which we had loved. Today, however, the bakery was closed for the holidays.

“Nevermind,” I consoled him, “I’ve got the groceries put away; let’s go downtown for lunch, and walk through the Palafox market to see if they have any bread we like, and if they don’t, I can pick up a sourdough loaf at Joe Patti’s.” (I love Joe Patti’s sourdough bagette; they really know what they are doing. I also learned you can buy the loaves uncooked in the Joe Patti’s freezer section and bake them up yourself when you get home. Wow!)

As we are walking through the market, he remarks that this is just like Seattle. It’s a cloudy, cool, maybe a little gloomy morning with heavy overhanging clouds, and we are all involved with food – the quick trip to the commissary for basics, then the unfruitful trip to Craft Bakery, and now strolling through the market, which we often do summer Saturdays in Edmonds, Washington, or down in the Pike Place Market. You never know what you will find, but we alway find something delicious. Hand made apple sausages? Beautiful bouquets of flowers running $10 – $30? Fresh Dungeness crab, steamed in the shell?

Today, it is radishes, beautiful huge, delicious crisp radishes, which I love thinly sliced on – yep – a sourdough baguette.

We found all kinds of great vendors, even a bread vendor, but not the bread we were looking for.

The market was in full swing, and has been, we learned, since mid-September.

Strolling on, we headed for 86 Forks, in the old Pot Roast and Pinot location on Palafox, where we found spacious airy seating, and a place we could feel safe eating , no large crowd because we were early.

The concept is familiar – if you live in Seattle. You choose a base, in this case a noodle, then you choose a protein, a broth, then you choose up to four flavorings, then you can choose premium add-ons.

I chose the rice noodles with spicy tuna, Thai basil, peanuts, jalepeno slices and cilantro.

And AdventureMan had the rice noodles, spicy tuna, Napa cabbage, peanuts, green onions and cilantro. We agreed, it was a delicious lunch.

He added Sriracha, that’s what the red is in his noodles.

It was a great lunch, and we left just as others were coming, so it all worked out well. We went by Joe Patti’s, I ran in. The place was packed with beach-goers, buying out Joe Patti’s either to take for a week on the beach or to take back to Alabama, or Georgia, or Mississippi, or Texas . . . the parking lot was a mad house. I was in luck, there were no sourdough baguettes left, nor any other baguettes, but to the side was a sourdough boule, and a boule is just right for two people who intend to finish off last night’s bourride with aioli, and sourdough, and fresh market radishes.

For me, this was a wonderful day. It was cool, and comfortable. We found all kinds of goodies, and had a great walk through the market, both coming and going.

Edmonds, Washington is a beautiful little port city just north of Seattle with a ferry coming in and out to take you over to the Olympic Peninsula. Their slogan – It’s an Edmonds Kind of Day – means it doesn’t get much better. So we had an Edmonds Kind of Day in Pensacola.

January 2, 2021 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Cultural, Food, Living Conditions, Marketing, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Seattle, Shopping | , , , | Leave a comment

Festive Pensacola Lights

When the weather gets cold, come late afternoon, I shed my clothes and put on a cocoon of warm nightgown and purple hooded floor length fleece robe, just around sunset.

Yesterday, around lunch time (AdventureMan was finishing off a leftover crepe from Christmas morning), AdventureMan asked if I could forestall my cozy couture for an early evening date – going out to look at the Christmas lights of Pensacola.

We drove from East Pensacola to East Hill to North Hill, and into downtown Pensacola, then circled back through the southern part of East Pensacola. In truth, far fewer lights than we had expected. If people are feeling festive, they are keeping it low key this year.

One house decorates year after year in a joyful excess, each year adding more and more:

I don’t even have it all in this one photo. The details are endless, and the time it must take to set this up is a gift to the community.

AdventureMan is already thinking ahead to next year. He knows what I want – a simple creche. Here is one at a nearby church, much bigger than I want, but the idea. I want the Nativity, with Jesus, Mary and Joseph, a couple angels, a couple sheep, the three Wise Men and a camel, in honor of our time living in the Middle East. You know, keeping it simple.

In East Pensacola, we saw several groups of people out walking, looking at the lights. In North hill, there was one house with a beautiful tree on a lit balcony, which made me long to be in the Garden District of New Orleans where the houses decorate so lushly and tastefully.

Downtown Pensacola usually lights up all the trees, top to bottom, a magical sight, but this year only Palafox south of Garden is fully lit:

We love La Rua, and almost bought a house there when we first arrived in Pensacola. On La Rua, there is a grand house, beautifully decorated, and this was the last stop we made before heading home.

December 27, 2020 Posted by | Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Christmas, Cultural, Entertainment, Pensacola | | Leave a comment

Stormy Christmas Eve in Pensacola

Around two in the morning last night the wind started blowing and one of our wind shutters came loose and banged. It banged once, not too loudly, so I didn’t even get up to see if I could fix it. This morning, Christmas Eve morning, dawned with sheets of rain.

I’m not complaining. We have had weeks of beautiful weather – other than when the storms blew in. This early day squall is just that – a small thing. The forecast is that it will usher in freezing temperatures for tonight. The rain should quit by 2, when Pensacola folk start heading toward church services and family gatherings, and tonight and Christmas Day should be unseasonably cold.

I’m sure there has been a Christmas in Pensacola when it hasn’t rained, but I can’t remember it. I am thankful for rain on Christmas Eve; it makes it so much easier to wrap those last presents and cook up a couple more dishes for tonight and tomorrow.

We’ve been introducing our grandchildren to family traditions. They were over for breakfast, and then my granddaughter (7) and I decorated sugar cookies and gingerbread men, while our grandson (10) and AdventureMan made baked beans – learning chefly knife skills in the process. As the icing dried on the cookies my granddaughter and I took a walk to the playground; it was like a summer day in Alaska, around 70 degrees F. Pizza for lunch, and then watching Elf, which they had never seen, and we all howled with laughter.

That night was clear and beautiful, and just after sunset, I went out to see if I could see the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. I could! It was clearly visible with the naked eye! I quickly ran inside to call to AdventureMan to join me, and together we relished the awe inspiring event. In my photo, I see you can even see Jupiter’s moons:

Yeh, it’s a little squiggly; I was using my zoom on my camera, and just breathing made it less clear.

From our house to your house, we wish you a Merry Christmas, full of peace and good will, love of family and neighbors, and comfort and joy.

December 24, 2020 Posted by | Advent, Arts & Handicrafts, Christmas, Cooking, Cultural, Family Issues, Holiday, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships, Weather | Leave a comment