Happy New Year!…Do we make resolutions? Do you?..Acceptance of aging in today’s world…

Riverfront property in the neighborhood.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Tom explained the only resolution he ever made years ago was to quit smoking, which lasted for eight months when he purchased a pack of cigarettes at the Minnesota State Fair the following summer. He no longer smokes.

My resolutions of the past were always the same, common with many women and men; lose weight, exercise more, or smarter. I always worked out but never understood why I didn’t lose 10, 20 pounds, or more as shown in yesterday’s photo.

Now summer in Fiji, more and more flowers have begun to bloom.

I never understood why working out 90 minutes at least five times a week had no apparent bearing on improving my health other than strength and cardiovascular endurance, until 2011 when I changed to my current way of eating. I’d already lost about 50 pounds in 2004 and kept it off for seven years through a very difficult-to-follow, low calorie, low-fat diet. 

But, why didn’t my blood lipids improve on a low calorie, low-fat 1400 calories a day diet?  It was only after I began this low carb, high fat, grain, sugar, and starch-free way of eating in August, 2011 that my lipids greatly improved along with my health. 

Pretty blooms in the neighborhood on one of our walks on a few less rainy days.

From 2011 on, I no longer had to count calories and monitor how much I consumed by eating only to satiety.  My ravenous hunger was gone along with years of pain and disability, enabling us to travel. 

Basically, I eat food in its natural state; grass-fed, free-range, organic, without grains, sugar, starch, and chemicals. (Although I’m able to consume small amounts of full-fat dairy; quality cheeses, real cream, sour cream, cream cheese and, yogurt without additives, sugar, and fruit).

Modern house in the neighborhood with a name of its own.

With Tom following along in this way of eating, now at his lowest weight in many years, not smoking, and feeling healthier than ever, he doesn’t feel compelled to adopt any new resolutions to tackle. He’ll eat what he likes on the upcoming cruise and once we settle again, he’ll return to our healthy diet. (I maintain each of my food restrictions while on cruises with the help of the usual conscientious chef and other staff, never experiencing too many obstacles).

As a result, we can’t think of a lot of resolutions we feel compelled to make in this new year. Sure, we all have personality flaws and areas in our emotional lives that could prompt thoughts of a resolution. 

Several times we’ve walked along to road, beside the local golf course.

When one is happy and enjoying good health, it’s difficult to muster the motivation to make any major life changes. Are we cocky? Not necessarily. We’re simply content.

It’s ironic how as we’ve aged, we’ve learned a few basic life principles that may have been instrumental in easing many of the realities of aging and adding to our level of happiness:
1. We don’t need to analyze everything
2. What we perceive others may say about us may stem from their own experiences
3. We have choices we can make for our own happiness which others may perceive as selfish and that’s about them, not us.
4. Life is shorter than we imagined so live every moment to the fullest 
5. Physical signs of aging can be minimized with good health. But gravity is more powerful than anything we may try to do in an attempt to postpone it, so accept it with grace and dignity.

One of the green on the golf course.

6. Avoid disharmony. Baloney…that “stuffing it” is bad for one’s psyche. Doing so gives us an opportunity to think over the situation later in a calm manner and if one can put aside ego and apologize, accept and rewarm the relationship, harmony and happiness is retained. No snipping! We’d bite our tongues before being snippy at one another.  Ignore grumpiness rather than get involved in it.
7.  Avoid stressful situations by planning ahead as much as possible. When unexpected situations arise, breathe, think and come up with a mutually agreeable solution.
8.  Don’t worry in the middle of the night. Everything is easier during the day when we have an opportunity to work on a solution. (It’s only been in the last year that I’ve learned to do this and am still working on it after considerable improvement).
9.  Take risks and stretch ourselves while making safety and health the first priority. Fear is good when it protects us, not so good when it’s irrational and immobilizes us.
10.  Appreciate, be humble, thank your God or higher power every day. Pray, as well as take action, for the things we want to achieve.

The road along the golf course.

The above may not apply to everyone although we’ve found these ten points to highly contribute to our sense of well-being making us grateful and fulfilled while making these the best years of our lives. 

None of the above has anything to do with traveling and exploring the world and everything to do with exploring and developing our own personal growth and horizons.  We’re never too old to grow and learn. 

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s New Year’s day here in the South Pacific; very hot and humid with pouring rain. In three days the journey continues…

Photo from one year ago today, January 1, 2015:

Raging sea with heavy mist on this date one a year ago on the Big Island of Hawai’i. For more photos, please click here.

Its New Year’s Eve in the South Pacific….A happy, healthy New Year to everyone!…A long ago, goofy photo!

Hahahaha! We sure didn’t look very healthy here on New Year’s Eve in 1999. We were both overweight (40 pounds each heavier than we are now), on multiple medications, and looked less healthy than we do today.  t goes to show that our way of eating coupled with low stress, happy life can contribute to one’s state of health. 

For many years in our old lives, we hosted New Year’s Eve parties often with a special theme requiring a little preparation for those so inclined. If a guest preferred to come “as is” there was no ribbing, only good cheer that they’d decided to come out on what was often a very cold, below zero degrees F, (-18C) night in Minnesota.

On New Year’s Eve in 1999/2000, when much of the world was terrified something bad was about to occur at the turn of the hands of the clock to midnight, we had our last New Year’s Eve party with a change of the millennium theme. 

Tom and I dressed as “bugs,” computer bugs” specifically as shown in this photo when many techies along with the general population worried that computers worldwide would crash. Remember that?

Photo of us two months ago today, slimmer, healthier, and happier than ever. Sure, we have a few more wrinkles than 16 years ago ,but who cares when we’re enjoying our lives and good health?

Sadly, that particular party, the first time ever, was a total bust. The weather was bad in Minnesota, the roads icy and without a doubt, a certain degree of fear left many preferring to stay home. Only six die-hard partygoers attempted the long drive to our home. 

We celebrated together, ending the night early so our guests could get home before the weather and the traffic with impaired drivers got any worse. Over the next 11 New Year’s Eves, we didn’t have a big party, instead, getting together with our fabulous neighbors, greatly reducing the risk of getting home on a bad night.

Having left Minnesota before New Year’s Eve 2012, spending it in Scottsdale, Arizona after spending Christmas with family in Henderson/Las Vegas, Nevada, we were busy finishing our preparations to leave the country on our first cruise on January 3, 2013, as mentioned in yesterday’s post.

New Year’s Eve 2013 in Marloth Park, South Africa at Jabula Lodge with Piet and Hettie.

On New Year’s Day, we drove to San Diego to stay with our niece and her husband for two nights while we waited to board the ship at the Port of San Diego. 

In these past three years, we’ve made little hoopla of New Year’s Eve except in 2013 when we attended a party at Jabula Lodge in Marloth Park with our new South African friends, Piet and Hettie whom we’d only met on Christmas Day at the same location. 

Having never met Piet and Hettie prior to Christmas Day, we shared a table that day when Jabula Lodge became packed and we’d offered to share, making an instant connection with this wonderful couple, hopefully, friends for life.

Last year in 2014, we were still on the Big Island with two weeks remaining until we’d fly to Kauai for four months. Our remaining three family members had traveled the two-hour drive to Kona to swim with the manta rays on New Year’s Eve and stay overnight. Tom and I stayed in settling into a quiet evening as the year wound down.

Our friends, Piet and Hettie with whom we spent Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve in 2013. For more photos from that date, please click here.

There’s no disappointment for us in having another quiet New Year’s Eve. Having the opportunity to spend them each year in different parts of the world provides us with all the excitement we need. Down the road, should social activities ensue, we’ll certainly participate but, in the interim, we’re thoroughly content.

We’ll play a little Gin, enjoy a good meal, and perhaps if the WiFi signal is good enough, download a movie to watch after dinner. 

Yesterday, Susan, the property owner, arrived from another of her homes in Argentina with her significant other and stopped by in the late afternoon to say hello. What a delightful woman, who ironically was born in Wisconsin, USA! As a world traveler, a writer, a businesswoman, and an adventurer, it was wonderful to hear her stories of frequent world travel.

They were busy with plans for a few days but surely, we’ll all get together in our remaining time in Pacific Harbour, now down to a mere four days. Sunday, we’ll pack. Monday at 7:45 am our driver arrives to take us to the airport in Nausori for a non-stop flight to Sydney. 

We’re ready to begin a New Year, grateful for the New Year of the past, and hopeful for the New Year of the future. May all of our readers have a safe, happy, and healthy New Year!

Photo from one year ago today, December 31, 2014:

Late in the day yesterday on December 31st last year, we spotted these whales. The much-anticipated fluke, the tail was the prize. Wonderful! For more details and photos from that date, please click here.

Memories come to mind…Readers, thank you for the inspiration!

We often encounter unknown flower varieties when we walk in the neighborhood.

When we recall our first foray outside the US on January 3, 2013, when we embarked on the classic old-style Celebrity Century, the first cruise for both of us, the level of anticipation and excitement was indescribable.

At the time I was a little fearful of heading out to sea on such a big ship. The first few nights I lay awake from the creaking and rolling, wondering if something was wrong with the ship. 

By the time the Century made its way through the Panama Canal with the new locks being built beside it, I felt like an old ship’s hand, comfortable and at ease.

The pebbly road we walk in the neighborhood.

After 11 cruises all fear had long since dissipated as I embraced the wild seas, the rocking and rolling and what became familiar ship sounds both during the day and at night. 

When we sailed on our first Atlantic crossing in April 2013 to experience our roughest seas ever, 50 foot (15 meters) waves on the Norwegian Epic, we both wandered about the ship excited and amazed by the rough seas with nary a hint of seasickness while most passengers were tucked away in their cabins on medications and patches for seasickness.

The infirmary was packed with ill passengers while we visited with others like us, who enjoyed the excitement and for whatever reasons, don’t suffer from seasickness. 

Many homes are tucked away in the neighborhood, down long driveways, difficult to see beyond the dense vegetation.

For three days, the same few of us wandered about the ship thoroughly relishing in the unique experience while the remaining staff members who hadn’t become ill helped carry our coffee and beverages to a table. The pools were closed, as were many of the activity areas and some restaurants. 

We all managed to stay busy for the three rough days and nights at sea, watching movies in the rolling theatre, playing cards slipping and sliding on the outdoor tables, and dining in the main dining room as our plates and drinks slid across the table if we didn’t hang onto them. 

When it was finally over, the passengers began to quietly exit their cabins, all a little pale from being unable to eat and drink for three days. Within a day of smooth sailing the flurry of activities including drinking, eating, and socializing was once again in full force.

A wide array of plants and flowers are found in the neighborhood.

We treasure these memories, especially when we can look back at our over 1000 archives not only to refresh our memories in our telling of the stories but in seeing those memories in our photos. What a treasure to have this journey documented to this degree! 

We never stop appreciating our readers for being the catalyst and the inspiration to continue posting day after day. Had it just been a personal travel journal with a collection of photos, we may have made excuses day after day not to write the experiences, both big and small. 

In our old lives, I seldom wrote anything on the back of a photo describing who, what and where the photos were taken. Now, an entire story and multiple photos accompany every memorable experience.

The river winds through the area.

Knowing 1000’s of our readers throughout the world has spurred us on, day after day is life-changing. Those bringing up our site day after day to see what’s happening, at times finding only our mindless drivel or gentle ramblings over a sometimes simple life and at other times, finding an exciting memorable experience. 

No excuses are needed here to avoid posting. The only potential reasons we don’t post are due to a total lack of available WiFi service or during long travel days. Even on those days, we attempt to get something uploaded.  We’ve continued to post on sick days even if only to whine about being under the weather.

Last night, as we watched Episode 3 of Season 6, the final season of Downton Abbey, tears came to my eyes, not over a sad episode but due to the fact that we’d visited Highclere Castle in August 2014, home of the filming of this fine BBC series and its series end upcoming at Episode 9. 

Our photo. We held our breath as we approached Highclare Castle, home of the famed BBC Downton Abbey TV series. No interior photos were allowed.  Please click here for interior photos of the house

With only six more episodes to watch, for us, it’s the end of an era. Having walked the grounds and the familiar rooms of the castle, we became entrenched in its rich history and exceptional design and the very way it fit into the exceptional series.

Please click here for the first of two days of photos and stories from our visit to Highclere Castle, the filming site for Downton Abbey.

Please click here for the second of two day’s photos and story of the village of Bampton.

Last night’s episode showed several scenes in the village. The sleepy town of Bampton, England was used in the filming of the series including the interior of the church and a few other buildings. Having been inside that church, in that village, the memories brought huge smiles across our faces and for me, tears to my eyes, tears of joy for having had the experience.

This is the altar inside the church where the Mary and Matthew of Downton Abbey were married. To be able to visit this village, take this and other photos inside of this church and village, shown many times on the series, including last night’s episode (spoiler alert), was a memory we’ll always treasure, among others in our journey.

The long time span between series seasons was due to the show’s producers wanting to give the owners of the castle and the villagers time to recover from the last disruption of filming which sends their lives into total upheaval. 

The notoriety of this series has brought new revenue streams to both the villagers and castle owners along with the commotion which they seem to have appreciated and enjoyed.

Now, as we countdown to departing Fiji in five days with more upcoming memorable treasures behind us and more awaiting us, we’ve kept the TV tuned to a combination of BBC news and Fiji’s own channel 18 for Nat Geo Wild with one episode after another of places we’ve been, the wildlife we’ve seen up close and personal and of course, places we’ve yet to visit.

The river is lined with houses many with docks and boats, able to head out to sea from this waterway.

All we have is the moment in which to live.  In another moment, it becomes but a memory. It’s those moments and memories we treasure whether it’s a face-to-face encounter with a crocodile, a visit to a world-renowned castle, or a warm and unspoken wide grin to one another… it’s all worthy of a memory!

We carry on, hopefully with humility, grace, and ease…May you continue to do so along with us.

Photo from one year ago today, December 30, 2014:

From left to right; Sarah, TJ, me, Tom, (front) Vincent, Jayden, Nik, Tracy, and Tammy, a photo we took yesterday of our remaining family members.  Tammy, Tracy, and Vincent remained in Pahoa for four more days while the others had headed home. For more details, please click here.

Wow!..Six days and counting…Four months have already passed?…Now, switching gears and countries…

We’d been warned against purchasing locally caught fish when its often caught close to the shore where bacteria is heavy in the waters from sewage disposal.  As a result, we never purchased any fish during the past four months.  I’m looking forward to cooking fish once we arrive in New Zealand.

It seems like yesterday we arrived in Fiji.  By our perception, four months in Fiji passed in the blink of an eye.  When we mention we’ll be in the US in less than 17 months, having fulfilled our goals for seeing many areas of the South Pacific it sounds far away. To us, it will transpire in no time at all.

All we have to do is look back 17 months ago to recall how quickly time has passed when we spent two weeks in Paris and then two more weeks in London.  Those memories are forefront in our minds, as if it was only a few months ago.

Dried leaves used for weaving rugs and other items.

It seems as if once we embarked on this journey time seemed to fly more quickly.  In our old lives when we took an occasional vacation (few, due to my then poor health), the days passed so quickly that all of a sudden it was Wednesday, the middle of a one week trip.  

As hard as one may attempt to live in the moment and enjoy each remaining day of a “vacation” the looming departure date is hard to ignore.  Most travelers have experienced that sensation while on vacation/holiday, especially when having a fabulous time.

Pineapple is a commonly grown fruit in Fiji, often available for the taking in many areas.  In the farmers market, they sell to visitors, not many locals.

In our lifestyle of perpetual travel we seldom feel a sense of dread in leaving a country (although I struggled leaving South Africa).  We don’t experience angst in anticipation of leaving, only a bit of discomfort over lengthy travel days where flying and waiting time exceeds eight or ten hours. 

Anything less, is a breeze.  These days, we don’t think about packing until one or two days before departure although I may start folding and organizing three of four days earlier always in an attempt to lighten the load for upcoming flights.

Pineapple leaves stripped from the pineapples are used for weaving and decorations.

Flying from Fiji’s Nausori Airport in Suva next Monday will definitely result in paying excess baggage fees.  With our luggage containing everything we own each bag is heavier than normally allowed.  Most airlines allow one checked bag each.  We have an extra third bag containing supplies, shoes, toiletries and first aid.

Each airline has its own varying weight restrictions and we’ve found we’ve paid more on multiple flights in this part of the world than in many others.

Unquestionably, our dislike of flying and its associated commotion, delays, tight quarters and baggage fees has been instrumental in our preferring cruising to flying whenever possible.  Cruising doesn’t include baggage fees, includes housing and meals and is an easy way to travel to many parts of the world in one fell swoop. 

Rows upon rows of pineapples for sale for one third the cost as in Hawaii.

After 11 cruises in the past three years, we’ve learned to avoid crowds and long queues associated with hundreds of people trying to gain access to tourist venues and getting on and off cruise-arranged buses.  We prefer to be included in small groups tours arranged by people Tom meets on the CruiseCritic website who are looking for participants in six or eight person charters. 

While on the ship, we tend to be observers of various activities rather than participants, organize meal and pool times when the crowds are lighter, instead spending time in small groups with people we meet.

The kid’s face is priceless as he checks out the big slices of locally grown watermelon at the farmers market in Suva.  Hope his dad made a purchase.

Of course, we’ll spend the better part of each morning preparing the day’s post, often sitting in a spot where we can easily chat with those around us, making the process all the more entertaining.

Need I say, we’re looking forward to being aboard the cruise a week from today.  No doubt, if available, Tom will participate in the daily “Shed,” an Australian inspired “men only” get together where they discuss “guy things.”  In some countries this gender specific gathering may be frowned upon as “sexist.”  But, in Australia, not the case.  Women are not welcomed and no one seems to care.

I’m thrilled when he’s has the opportunity for these two hours without me able to interact with other guys.  He says he enjoys it not as a means of being away from me for a few hours but for the camaraderie. How sweet, he is! Regardless of the reasons, I always find others to chat with in his absence, often other women who’s partner is also attending the “Shed.”

We stopped at a meat market in Suva but didn’t make a purchase when we had the long drive back to Pacific Harbour and had yet to grocery shop.

Today, we’re off to the Arts Village for a few final groceries to fill in the blanks for our remaining six meals, five of which we plan to have at home.  With careful planning, as always, we’ll be leaving behind only a few condiments and spices.

The sun is trying to peek out of an almost entirely cloud covered sky.  Whether today will be day 12 of rain is yet to be seen.  The hanging clothes from laundry of three days ago hasn’t fully dried.  The cool weather of New Zealand, where we’ll arrive on January 19th after the cruise, sounds rather appealing at this point.

Have a fabulous day as this holiday season winds down.


Photo from one year ago today, December 29, 2014:

A whale’s back, spotted yesterday.  I took this whale photo from the lanai at one of the rental houses on the Big Island.  On this day, one year ago, family began leaving the islands to head back to the mainland.  At this point, we had no idea when we’d see everyone again but now its on the itinerary as mentioned above.  For more photos, please click here.

Nuances of life in a developing country…Managing tech issues…

Tom was engrossed in watching the ski movie on the projection screen in Baka Blues bar/restaurant in the Arts Village.

With another power outage last night shortly after dinner continuing well into the night after we’d gone to be, we lay there feeling hot and sticky with no cooling fan to lighten the air’s thickness, counting how many days we’ve been without electricity.

We’ll have spent a total of 119 days living on two islands in Fiji since arriving by prop plane on September 8, 2015 and soon to depart on January 4, 2016, only one week from today.

Running through all the days and nights we spent without power in Vanua Levu and now again in Viti Levu, in all we counted 11 days of our time in this developing country.

In the past, I’ve tactlessly referred to a few countries as “third world” and for that, I apologize to all the citizens of many countries for using this archaic expression.

In today’s world the term “developing” country is more appropriate in describing countries that may not have access to funds to provide the utmost in consistent, reliable utility and wifi services with Fiji falling into that category.

There were few diners at Baka Blues in Arts Village at our early arrival time.

Fiji, in its desire and intent in providing free medical care, good schools, and low taxes finds itself forfeiting some other aspects to life in their country; good roads, programs for the elderly, and certain assistance programs often found in other parts of the world in more “developed” countries, resulting in higher tax rates and costs of living.

I won’t get into the political climate of Fiji or other countries. Bottom line, the power has gone out on 11 different days since our arrival…10% of the time. We experienced a similar situation while living in Kenya a few years ago, frequent power outages at times lasting for over 24 hours.

Then again, living in the US, we experienced a few days of power outages every few years as a result of downed power lines from intense spring and summer storms, resulting in our eventual purchase of a gas-powered generator wired to the whole house. Those reasons for the outages may be different, although they were nonetheless annoying and inconvenient.

My biggest concern is always the food in the refrigerator and the power not being restored in time to salvage our entire cold food supply. Secondly, our concerns for running down the batteries on our phones and laptops to the point where we can no longer read or entertain ourselves, instead, sitting in the dark twiddling our thumbs, are not pleasing by any means.

The lack of fans to keep the air moving is the next concern when often the heat and humidity have contributed to the power outage when those with air-con are running their units and others, like us, running multiple floor and ceiling fans constantly.

Most diners don’t head out to bar/restaurants until later in the evening. It was quiet while we were there around 6:45 pm.

Of course, we’ve been thrilled to have screens in this more modern house in Pacific Harbour, a rarity in most developing countries. The locals seem to become immune to the bites of the mozzies and more comfortable allowing a wide array of insects and other creatures free access into their homes when leaving doors wide open. 

We’re not quite there yet and may never be. For us, it’s the mozzies more than other creatures that prevent us from leaving doors and windows without screens open all day to allow for more airflow.

When the power returned during the night, we were thrilled. We’ve learned to prepare before going to bed when the power is out; unplug the TV so it doesn’t come back on with the power; turn off lights and fans in living areas and turn on the fans in the bedroom to avoid the necessity of getting out of bed if the power is restored during the night.

There was that.  Then, over the past several days, my Windows 8.1 touchscreen laptop, purchased in Hawaii last year, developed some issues. I won’t bore our less-interested-in-technology readers as to the extent of the issues which were wide in scope. 

The only solution was to “refresh” my PC which always results in a loss of many apps and downloaded programs I use (such as MS Office) with the necessity of spending an entire day to restore these programs and apps. 

Tom enjoyed his fries and onion rings but said the beef had a spicy flavor he didn’t care for. We were in a restaurant that had a Cajun flavor most likely resulting in the use of a grill seasoned with the spices which he doesn’t like.  It was bo fault of the restaurant.

Over these years I’ve sweat bullets when either of us had what may have proven to be irreparable computer issues. Now, with more experience in repairing issues and with the experience of purchasing a new (inferior brand) laptop a few years ago in South Africa (I’d dropped and broke the screen making it unusable), I take these issues in stride. No longer do my palms sweat and no longer does my heart race while attempting to figure out a solution.

Using a cloud service to store all of our important files and documents and with our external two terabytes hard drive which we use frequently to back up our data, the bigger concern revolves around where and how to purchase a replacement if necessary.

If a new computer is to be shipped to us, there’s no way to avoid paying customs fees or such potential fees when exiting the country. In any case, yesterday, before the power went out, I was able to restore my laptop to 95% efficiency leaving only one touchscreen issue preventing me from performing the frequently used right to left-hand gesture swipe.

Need I say, I looked online for hours to find a solution for this remaining issue. Either the suggestions didn’t work or were impractical for my system. I even contacted Acer, the manufacturer, and “spoke” to one of their tech reps via a chat, requesting a solution to no avail. She said, “Do a refresh of the system,” which I’d already done.

I’ve decided to live with the remaining issues instead implementing a few extra clicks to perform a similar task, with a “workaround” for the rest. It will do for now. When we’ll be able to purchase new equipment remains a mystery at this point, most likely waiting until it’s absolutely a must resulting in our paying customs and shipping fees for a replacement for one, if not both of us.

My salad was fabulous with smoky flavored chicken and extra hard-boiled eggs. There was no dressing on the menu that worked for me so I ordered a side of sour cream, usually a good alternative.

On the agenda today?  It’s been raining 11 days in a row, soaking bursts, making walking and going out unappealing. The laundry I’d washed and hung two days ago is still damp. I may have to bring it indoors to hang it around the house, hoping it will soon dry from the airflow of the fans. 

Life in the tropics as we’ve known it over this past year including a tremendous number of rainy days, coupled with many days without power, leaves us feeling good about the next leg of our journey; easy days cruising; cool, sunny, and less humid 89 days in New Zealand; and then off to another tropical climate in Bali which by April, we’ll be ready to enjoy once again.

Photo from one year ago today, December 28, 2014:

This was one of our favorite photos while on the Big Island. The entire family took an evening trip to Mount Kilauea to see the erupting volcano and we captured this shot more by a fluke than anything. It was exciting for our kids and grandkids to see an erupting volcano with us. Who has ever had an opportunity to see an erupting volcano in a lifetime? For more volcano photos, please click here.

Day 10…No sunshine…Acceptance of conditions throughout the world…

The guard at the gate to the Government Building in Suva, the capital of Fiji.

Since arriving in Pacific Harbour it’s been cloudy and rainy for no less than 17 out of 21 days. While in Savusavu, we experienced similar amounts of rain occurring almost every day during the three-month stay. 

As positive as we attempt to be about conditions where we’re living at any given time, it would be ridiculous to say we’re not looking forward to the coo, sunny climate of New Zealand, definitely not in the tropical climate category. 

At this point, it’s hard to believe our four months in Fiji are coming to an end. Overall, we’ve enjoyed Fiji, mainly for its friendly locals, beautiful surroundings, colorful vegetation, sparkling sea, and some of the finest organic produce, grass-fed meats and free-range chicken on the planet, all at affordable prices.

Recently, dining out on several occasions has been enjoyable with many options befitting my diet, which wasn’t the case in either Savusavu or Trinity Beach when most menu items included starches, sauces, and sugar.

Distant view of the Government Building in Suva.

Fiji is truly an affordable place to visit for the long term when staying in a vacation property and perhaps at different times of the year, it rains considerably less, making it all the more ideal vacation/holiday spot during those periods. 

We remind ourselves that literally everywhere in the world has aspects that may not be ideal to the average traveler or even the long-term resident. Years ago, we often discussed how many Minnesotans retired to Arizona and Florida for the great climate.  But, after visiting both states and watching weather reports over the years, we’ve seen and experienced that their winters can be cool with inclement weather.

When we first left Minnesota to travel the world, we spent our final two months in Scottsdale, Arizona, a beautiful desert community, a haven for many retirees, making final preparations to leave the US long term.

It was warm when we first arrived in Scottsdale in early November 2012 but quickly became cool requiring we wear jackets most days. We never had an opportunity to use the pool outside our condo door. It was simply too cool.

The long fence surrounding the Government Building in Suva.

During our Scottsdale trip, we rented a vacation home for a week in Henderson, Nevada for a family gathering over Christmas. There too, it was very cool and we never used the pool in the backyard. 

On many earlier visits to son Richard in Henderson, Nevada, we recall very cool weather in the winter months. Tom and I easily recall waiting outside a casino after a show for the valet to return our car, freezing while we waited 20 minutes.

Where is the ideal year-round warm climate? Does it even exist anywhere in the world?  If it’s warm, it’s usually humid. When it’s humid, there are usually mosquitoes and a wide variety of insects and…lots of rain.

The more we travel the more we accept these realities, especially when we’ve spent such a huge portion of our travels living in a tropical environment. Over the past 12 months, we’ve lived on four islands of Hawaii, Trinity Beach, Australia, and Fiji, all considered tropical climates, all of which included clouds/rain at least 50% of the time.

The top of the President’s house in Suva.

In the past 12 months, we’ve only spent 18 days cruising. Although we spend a lot of time discussing and planning cruises, some years we spend little time actually doing so. 

In other years it’s much more such as in the upcoming 12 months, beginning on January 5, 2016, during which we’ll be sailing on five cruises encompassing 76 days, approximately 21% of the year. 

Most often, conditions on cruises are highly satisfactory with little inconvenience and adaptation required; no insects, air-con comfort throughout the ship, comfortable beds and seating, relatively good food, no shopping or cooking required, no housework, and frequently, good enough weather to spend a little time each day lounging by the pool. 

Sure, we’ve experienced rough seas on several cruises and a few bouts of “cruise cough” a harsh inevitable reality on some sailings. Once it starts it’s difficult to avoid, especially when one of us “catches” it and transmits it to the other. 

The beach in Suva has several seating areas.

Illness is a downside of cruising for which we’ve promised to be even more mindful of in our upcoming cruises.  No handshaking, touching, and too close proximity to others.  Plain and simple. 

There were a few occasions we excused ourselves as graciously as possible to leave a dinner table when upon being seated near or next to a coughing passenger. This is an awkward must-do. Even so, we’ve fallen prey to the cough on three or four occasions. 

We wash our hands no less than 12 times a day but need to increase the frequency and beef up other methods we’ve implemented over these past 11 cruises. More on that later.

Why cruise? Mainly, the opportunity to visit many parts of the world in a short period, the highly pleasing social interactions, and the relatively easy living onboard a ship continue to provide a tremendous draw for both of us.

ANZ National Stadium in Suva mostly used for rugby and football, popular sports in Fiji.

As we begin the countdown to departure and the end of 2015, not so much anxious to leave Fiji as opposed to looking forward to the next leg of our journey, we reflect on this past year as being one of considerable enjoyment, personal growth, and discovery. 

With many plans and new countries on the horizon, we hold onto our seats for yet another enriching “ride” in the awe-inspiring world in 2016.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, December 27, 2014:

Family day at the beach park on Christmas Day, posted one year ago today. Although it was raining, Vincent and Miles (not shown in this photo) were more interested in looking for fish in the shallow tide pools than stopping to eat. For more details, please click here.

Merry Christmas to all on the opposite side of the International Dateline….Pigging out at the buffet…

Hmmm…prime rib and spice drops. Tasty combination, Mr. Lyman!

It proved to be a good day although it was rainy, hot, humid and we were without power. We decided to bring our laptops, an adapter and one set of plug ins so we could recharge our laptops while at the resort, if at all possible.

The band was excellent singing many familiar songs.

As soon as we walked into the lobby of the Pearl Resort in plenty of time for our 1:00 pm buffet reservation in the Riviera Restaurant, I scoped out the plug in options finding there were plenty of possibilities. 

This was my entrée and dessert…delicious seafood.

Asking at the front desk if we could sit in the lobby and plug in our equipment after our meal, they happily obliged saying we could use the outlets and stay as long as we’d like.

Octopus, a favorite, although rather chewy.

The thought of relaxing with power after the upcoming big meal was appealing, especially with the massive doors opening to the bay offered a cooling breeze. 

The meat station had prime rib, ham and turkey. Tom had all three but I chose only the prime rib.  Tom said the ham was great.

After checking in for our reservation, I wasn’t thrilled with the table selected for us with our name imprinted on a plastic coated card. It was too near the entrance to the dining room, the band and people coming and going out to the deck. It was noisy, making it nearly impossible for Tom to hear a word I said, with his bad hearing made worsened by background noise.

Check out the size of those slabs of prime rib and prawns. It was the most tender beef we’d had in months.

We decided to make the best of it and kept the selected table when we noticed the only other available table was too tiny for two diners, my camera and our computer bag on the floor. 

This was my single plate, piled high. I didn’t eat the relatively uncooked green beans but found everything else terrific.

Immediately after we were seated, I scoped out the buffet for photos and to check my dining options. A white hatted chef was behind the food stations happily pointing to each item I’d be able to eat that didn’t include starch, sugars, grains or flour. There were more options than any buffet we’ve visited since the onset of our travels. I felt like a kid in a candy store!

Tom sure enjoyed his first plate and every other plate to come.

Back at the table, I suggested Tom get his food first while I stayed behind to watch the camera and laptop bag.  In no time at all, he returned with a small plate of meats from the carving table and alas, a large pile of candy spice drops. I couldn’t stop laughing. All of those wonderful dishes and desserts, and he had meat and spice drops!

Yum, baby octopus. Those heads are a bit tricky to chew. I ate four of these, less one head.

Of course, he went back many times sampling more and more meat and seafood items and eventually a few desserts. But, each time he went back to the buffet he returned with more spice drops. Love that guy! Five plates of food and candy? I didn’t say a word, smiling over how well he does at “home” when our daily meals deprive him of many foods he loves and yet, keeps him lean and healthy. 

I didn’t feel the least bit embarrassed when my plate was piled higher than any other diners as they left food stations. However,  a single plate was my plan piling everything I could possibly eat to fit on my plate. (I savored almost every morsel leaving only one small octopus head that was particularly chewy and several undercooked green beans, too crunchy to get down).

Tom’s second dessert plate with caramel and apple pies, brownie and more spice drops.

It was a wonderful meal. As it turned out, half of the food on my plate consisted of a variety of fish shells and I wasn’t overly full and uncomfortable. When eating only veggies and protein I never seem to get uncomfortably full, nor do I eat until a point of feeling miserable. That’s never been my thing, nor is it healthy for me when too much protein or vegetables in a single sitting can exacerbate inflammation and raise blood sugar.

A portion of the dessert table. Tom must have eaten one of those entire containers of spice drops.

Once we finished our meal, we sat quietly at the table for a while sipping our water (Tom didn’t order a cocktail when he doesn’t drink alcohol with sweets) while he munched on his spice drops.

Notice the yellow pudding to pour over the brownies or whatever else one may choose.

Finally, we asked a waitperson to find our server. After 15 minutes, we asked again. Finally, after a total of 40 minutes, we managed to see our server who experienced difficulty having us pay when all the other guests were staying at the hotel and had only to sign the slip. Service at this bar and restaurant was certainly less ideal than the impeccable service we’d experienced in the Seduce Restaurant on Tom’s birthday. Fiji time.

Decorations and imprinted name tag at our table.

The bill resolved, we headed to a seating area in the lobby, close to outlets while Tom proceeded to set up our laptops enabling us to send more Christmas wishes to family and friends throughout the world. We’d recharge the laptops sharing the plug in back and forth with a plan to head home by 5 pm when hopefully, the power would be back on.

Most diners were hotel guests, not outsiders like us.

We only lasted until 4:00 pm. The cushion-less wicker chairs cut into our legs and backs making sitting nearly impossible. We decided to call the taxi and head home, although Tom’s laptop wasn’t yet charged. My was at 98%. If we had no power throughout the evening, at least we could watch a few shows in the dark.

Tom wrapped up his meal eating a couple of candy canes. 

Walking into the house we were thrilled to see the fans whirring. The power was back on. The power also went out twice during the night awakening us both each time, lasting for a few more hours, making sleeping fitful without a fan or the wall AC unit running.

Tom didn’t have any dinner last night, although I had a few items ready in case we were hungry. By 7:00 pm, I ate a cup of salmon salad while I spotted Tom snacking on a paper napkin filled with spice drops he’d placed in his pocket. I laughed. 

The deck on the bay at the Pearl.

It was a good Christmas Day especially when we had a chance to talk to some of the family on Skype with more today, had a good meal and managed to end the day with electricity.

Today, Christmas Day in many parts of the world, we wish everyone a blessed holiday season and New Year.  May life bring each you the fulfillment of your goals, dreams and wishes, all filled with love.

Photo from one year ago today, December 26, 2014:

This was one of our favorite scenery photos taken on the Big Island, so clearly illustrating the power of the surf at the houses we rented for the family visit.  For more details, please click here.

Power outage…Christmas Day in the South Pacific…Dining out midday…Merry Christmas to all..

Another boat heading down the Qaraniqio River.

Oh, another power outage…on Christmas Day. Wonder when it will come back on. 

In yesterday’s post we failed to mention the cost of the fine dinner at Seduce Restaurant at the Pearl Resort on the evening of Tom’s birthday. Including the meal, the gratuities and the bar bill for his Margarita and my bubbly water, the grand total was FJD $256, USD $106. 

Had we been dining in many other countries such an evening could easily have cost well over USD $200, $FJD $427. As the Fiji dollar changes daily as is the case for currencies worldwide, our round trip taxi fare was FJD $4.68, USD $10 including a 20% tip. When we leave Fiji in 10 days, we’ll give Alfaan a more substantial tip as we often do when we have an opportunity to work with one special driver.

The pebbly road for part of our walk later turned into a paved road.

Yesterday afternoon, when the rain stopped for a period, we ventured out on an ambitious walk through the neighborhood. A dog living two doors from us, followed us during the entire almost hour-long walk, making every turn we made continually watching us for our next move.

A house in the area with a commonly seen stucco-type exterior and tin roof.

It reminded me of our old lives when walking our two dogs (Tom didn’t walk in those days) on a vigorous walk in the neighborhood often every day, including the cold winters unless it the temperature was too cold for their little paws walking in the winter’s snow and ice. There was more than one occasion during which I had to carry one or both of our little dogs home when the tiny pads on their feet were too cold to continue on. 

The walk, in addition to working out almost daily at the local fitness club provided me with ample exercise.  Now, with pelting rain most days and no access to a fitness center, a good walk as often as possible brings considerable energy and a sense of well being. 

A vacant lot in the neighborhood collecting debris from an adjoining building site.

In a mere 12 days I’ll be working out on the ship in an attempt to rebuild my fitness level after this lengthy hiatus without much exercise. I haven’t belonged to a fitness center since living in Trinity Beach, Austalia from June to September, 2015.

Another vacant lot behind this neighboring house.

Soon, living in Taranaki, New Zealand with several nearby fitness centers (within 20 minutes), I’ll be back at it again for another three months. At this point, I have no idea what I’ll do once we arrive in a remote area in Bali, there again, perhaps unable to find a fitness center which has been the case in Fiji.

Today is Christmas Day here in the South Pacific. After a delicious dinner and  movie last night, we wandered off to bed, content for another good day. Sure, it doesn’t feel like Christmas without all the festivities associated with the holiday celebrations we experienced in our old lives. 

Finally, we reach the paved road making walking easier.

There are no twinkling lights on the houses in the neighborhood, no front lawns littered with lighted snowmen, reindeer and Santas and few Christmas trees visible through living room windows. We’ve become used to the lack of hoopla, decorations and festivities as a normal part of our life, without disappointment or a sense of loss. 

A fairway on the Pacific Harbour/Pearl Resort golf course only steps from our house.

Instead, we revel in the spiritual aspect of Christmas easily appreciating life, our good health and the health and well being of those we love and the many blessings we’ve been given.

At 2:00 am this morning, we were startled out of bed by outrageously loud fireworks in the neighborhood. Fijians sure love their fireworks, day and night. Wide awake after the heart racing awakening, I decided to listen to a podcast on my phone to lull me back to sleep which often works better than reading.

We’ve often seen these boats heading to scuba diving on the reefs.

Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know about “sleep hygiene” that bespeaks reading and listening in bed impedes quality sleep. I tried over and over again to break the habit, often spending night after night lying in bed wide awake unable to fall back to sleep. Ultimately, the total combined amount of sleep seems to suffice to keep me alert all day.

There are many homes in the area with Qaraniqio River frontage property, docks, and boats.

When I couldn’t connect to the house wifi to download a podcast, I got out of bed to reset the router, necessary every four or five days. Once back in bed I was able to get download a few podcasts and listen to two 40-minute broadcasts. Finally, I fell back to sleep awakening at 6:30 anxious to get the day underway.

With solar power here and no sun in well over a week (its raining now as I write), its not unusual for the shower to be cool in the morning. Susan, the owner, explained there’s a switch on the wall in the master bedroom to turn on the electricity to heat the water heater. We often turn it on for an hour in the late afternoon when the water is cold for Tom’s shower and for washing dinner dishes. 

The bridge over Qaraniqio River we cross on our walk.

Preferring to shower upon awakening and not wanting to waste power overnight, my showers are often cooler than I’d like. So it goes. I guess its part of life living in the tropics, including the near-constant rain often preventing us from daily walks.

As many walks as we’ve taken since our arrival almost three weeks ago, we’ve yet to experience a single walk on a sunny day, as shown in our cloudy day photos.

A scuba diving boat heading out to sea via the Qaraniqio River in Pacific Harbour.

With today’s upcoming buffet lunch at the Pearl at 1:00 pm, we hesitated about making tonight’s dinner. I rarely eat during the day and most likely won’t feel like eating again later in the day. This low carb way has a tendency kill the appetite, only feeling hungry every 24 hours or so.

Tom, back at the carbs again during today’s buffet and perhaps after eight more slices of bread or bread-like items, most likely will be hungry by 7:00 pm. With this in mind, I’m making a few items just in case. By 1:00 pm, when Alfaan picks us up, I’ll have everything prepped and ready to complete later in the day when we return from the Christmas lunch.

Hibiscus, prolific year-round are the most commonly seen flowers in tropical climates.

Its a good day, this Christmas Day 2015. The love we feel from family and friends from afar, the love with share with one another, and the joy we experience each and everyday, making this day as special and as meaningful as all the rest.

May all of our readers and their family and friends have a joyous Christmas Eve and Christmas Day filled with love and wonder. We feel all of you with us, each and everyday. We appreciate each and every one of you for sharing this life with us. Have a beautiful Christmas!

Photo from one year ago today, December 25, 2014:

I wish we’d taken more family photos last Christmas when family was visiting. When I was preoccupied with everyone being there, I just didn’t take many photos of “people” always one of my photo-taking downfalls. We all spent Christmas Day at a picnic at a beach park in Hilo, Hawai’i, on yet another cloudy day. For more details, please click here.

A birthday celebration in Fiji…Memorable for both of us!.. My faux pas at dinner!…

Tom in front of the tall Christmas tree at the Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour, Fiji on the evening of his 63rd birthday. 

Last evening at 6 pm, Alfaan picks us up for the short taxi ride to the Pearl Resort and Spa, a popular resort in Pacific Harbor known for excellent dining options including Seduce Restaurant, where we’d arranged an early  dinner reservation.

The lobby at the Pearl Resort.

It’s not that we prefer dining early as is typical for some seniors. We’ll easily wait to dine until 8 pm on cruise ships and when dining out with others. However, when we’re alone, with a goal of taking photos before dark, we often opt for an earlier reservation.

My amuse-bouche of prosciutto-wrapped asparagus with truffle mayonnaise with dollops of balsamic sauce.

As has been the case over the past few weeks, it’s been raining almost every day, often all day and night with no sunny breaks in between. We haven’t used the pool in over a week when the sun peeked out on two extremely hot and humid days when only by lounging in the cool water did we experience a little relief.  

Tom’s amuse-bouche of sushi with raw fish and truffle mayonnaise.

Once we arrived at the resort, taking a few photos inside and out, we stopped for a drink at the main entry area bar for less than optimum service. It took 15 minutes for Tom to get his papaya Margarita after placing the order. I ordered bubbly water with lime. Fiji time. 

At this point we wondered if the Seduce Restaurant would be the five star establishment as claimed by many reviewers in TripAdvisor. As it turned out we weren’t disappointed at all. 

He ate two plates of bread.  I didn’t say a word.

As a matter of fact, we experienced some of the finest service we’ve had in a long time, readily leaving a generous tip for our server. Impeccable!  Perfect timing!  Warmth and kindness! Attention to detail!. All elements of great service by most diners standards.

Complimentary wines with dinner.

The food? With weekly menu changes, the options were limited with four starters (none of which worked for me or that Tom would like), four entrees and four sides. The entrees included small portions of potatoes of one variety or another which I swapped for a few cut spears of delicious crunchy asparagus.

We both selected the same entrée, a platter of garlic butter, grilled seafood including mussels on the half shell, prawns, lobster tail, scallops and local tender white fish. The portions of each item were small, although together the servings were adequate. 

My fresh plate of food after the previous lobster tail went flying off the plate.

Tom’s platter included the roasted potatoes and, get this, he ate eight slices of a baguette dipping it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar! Guess he’s had his bread fix until we head out again tomorrow for the Christmas lunch buffet back to the Pearl Resort for the buffet in the Riviera Restaurant.  

Tom’s similar seafood platter with roasted potatoes.

Our meal began with a complimentary amuse-bouche, Tom’s a sushi roll as shown in this photo (first time he tried sushi, didn’t love it, ate it anyway) and mine was tailor-made asparagus wrapped in prosciutto with a truffle mayonnaise…small…delicious. I could have made a meal of that alone.

The entrée was buttery and delicious. I’d handed over my phone for the food list before ordering leaving me unconcerned that my meal would be perfect, and it was.

Tom was served this flourless chocolate cake with raspberry coulis and a scoop of coffee-flavored ice cream. 

As soon as our plates arrived stacked with seafood, our waiter asked if we’d like a photo taken of the two of us.  Tom started to stand saying he’d come over to my chair and crouch down next to me for the photo while I grabbed the camera off the table. 

My rumpled lobster soiled clothes were a sight to see after dinner when our waiter took this photo.

As I picked up the camera to hand to the waiter, the strap caught the shell portion at the end of my lobster tail and alas…my lobster went flying in the air landing on the floor with pieces on my lap and upholstered chair.  Oh, my.

If we didn’t have an audience I’d surely have gone into hysterics. Tom surely would have joined me. After all, it was a precious lobster tail over which my mouth had been watering.

The commonly seen  Fijian lali bell, used to announce special events was located near the entrance to the resort.

Our kindly waiter wiped up the mess and brought me a totally fresh plate. I could tell it was an entirely new plate of food when I noticed the numbers of the items and the arrangement had changed.

Cleaning up my clothes luckily all dark with a moistened linen napkin, we proceeded to enjoy our meal and each other. Complimentary wines were included with the meal and my adorable piglet, drank both the red and white after downing his Margarita, leaving only a few sips in the sizable glass of white wine, once the beautiful complimentary birthday dessert arrived unbeknown to either of us.  He always stops drinking alcohol when he has a dessert.

Christmas décor near the entrance to the resort.

I’d mentioned it was his birthday upon making the reservation and once again as we were seated.  One never know what treats a fine restaurant may have in store for an unsuspecting birthday celebrant. He wasn’t disappointed when the luscious complimentary plate arrived after the table was cleared and cleaned. Chocolate cake. That had been a while.

He didn’t weigh himself today nor did he care. Once the Christmas buffet is over tomorrow, he’ll be back to eating low carb with me and will drop any gain in a matter of a few days. Last night, he fit into a dressy pair of shorts he hadn’t worn comfortably in a few years. 

Fresh flowers in a Christmas display in the lobby.

Back at home by 10 pm, we got comfortable and watched the finale of Survivor Cambodia, which we’ve saved for this particular evening. With Cambodia on our itinerary in less than seven months, it was particularly fun to watch that series. Not that we’ll be living as they do on that show. Ha.

With the humidity rampant making sleeping uncomfortable lately we’ve turned on the wall air con unit when we’ve gone to bed. With the comfortable bed, good blanket and cool room, we’ve managed to get some decent sleep these past nights, for the first time in many months after the heat in Savusavu.

Unusual display table in the lobby. Lots of legs.

OK, folks, that’s the story of the birthday celebration.  Tom expresses a heartfelt thanks to all of the good wishes through email, comments, and Facebook. He had a great time reading and responding, appreciating every birthday greeting. 

Today, Christmas Eve on this side of the world, we’re staying put in the pouring rain, sending Christmas greetings to family and friends. I’ll cook a lovely dinner, nothing special, just a nourishing good meal…minus bread, potatoes and dessert. 

For those on this side of the International Dateline, Merry Christmas!  For those celebrating Christmas Eve tomorrow, Merry Christmas!

Photo from one year ago today, December 24, 2014:

The photo was taken from our lanai in Pahoa on Christmas Eve day. With 12 of our family members having arrived on the Big Island, everyone busily scrambled to unpack, prepare for Christmas and partake in exciting Big Island adventures. Tom and I stayed home busily spending the day preparing home made pizza for Christmas Eve dinner and food to pack for the Christmas Day picnic at a beach park in Hilo. For more details, please click here.

Happy birthday, Tom…Letter to my husband on his special day…

When we played bingo at the Princeville Senior Center last March while living in Kauai  Tom, as always had a great time.

To my dearest husband on your birthday,

This is your fourth birthday since we changed our lives on October 31, 2012. Each year, without gifts, without parties, without the usual hoopla, you stand only with me, your wife, your lover, your travel companion, and your friend. 

As much as I’d like to have a stack of beautifully wrapped gifts to present to you, not only would I be unable to find appropriate items in Fiji befitting your taste but, there’s no room in your solitary suitcase for superfluous items.

There are no birthday cards for sale at the stores or anything that could be construed as wrapping paper or a bow. As a result, on our first birthdays after we began our journey, we both agreed that birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas would be celebrated over a good home-cooked meal, a night in a nearby resort, or dinner in a great local restaurant.

Tonight, we’ll do just that with a reservation at TripAdvisor’s top-rated restaurant in Pacific Harbour, Fiji, Seduce, at the Pearl Resort. Then again, with only ten possibilities listed in the sleepy town, number one may not be that special. We don’t care. We’ll be together, celebrating you, celebrating us.

To say I’m grateful for being together with you can’t possibly express the depth of my gratitude for having you in my life, in this life, on these unusual terms; homeless but not poor; without a car but not without a means of transportation; without personal possessions other than a laptop, phone and bag of clothes; without a bed or sofa we can call our own, never knowing how comfortable the next one will be, and without a kitchen stocked with gadgets and food befitting a foodie like me. 

Instead, we are rich, not so much in a monetary way although we afford our lifestyle with a budget and careful planning, we’re rich in a life we never dreamed possible; the ability to travel the world, to feast our eyes upon some of the earth’s greatest treasures, to see nature as we never imagined, to meet people who’ve enriched our aging spirits with new thoughts, often inspiring us to reach for more, not greedily, but with grace and dignity.

You’ve allowed me to fulfill my personal dreams of having an opportunity to express myself in the written word and now adding the pleasure of taking photos along the way, always attempting to perfect my limited skills. 

Had I painted a picture of what I’d have dreamed life could be at this stage, I’d have painted a picture with much less than I have now with you. To have this sense of freedom to travel anywhere in the world with you, is beyond any thoughts I may have ever fashioned in our old lives.

And you, my love…your gentle and loving demeanor, your patience with me for all my quirkiness, your never-ending sense of humor has taught me to laugh at myself, your ability to make the best cup of French press coffee on the planet and your sharing equally, if not more, in all of the daily tasks. 

As a determined and independent businesswoman for most of my adult life, it’s refreshing at this point in life to feel free from always being in charge. Sharing the responsibilities and joys of this life with a competent, dedicated, and skilled partner has only enriched life in so many ways.

And, the playfulness…and the good humor…and the sudden bouts of laughter…and the never-ending hugs and kisses that could easily, in this 24/7 togetherness, waft away due to familiarity and somehow doesn’t, after all this time.

Happy birthday, my love. May you spend this next new year of your life and many years to come, filled with awe and wonder of the world we’re experiencing now, the world we’ve yet to experience, and the world in which we live blissfully together. 

You are dearly loved, appreciated, and admired,

Photo from one year ago today, December 23, 2014:

The sunrise in Pahoa, Big Island, on this date one year ago. The remainder of the family members were arriving later in the day. For more details, please click here.