Today, Tom talks…To mustache or not to mustache?

Tom with the beard and mustache.

When I asked Tom if he’d write a post, he declined. It’s just not his thing.  Oh sure, he writes wordy quips at Cruise Critic asking and answering questions about particular cruises, having built himself quite a reputation as an active contributor on their boards.

Clean shaven for the first time since we were in Barcelona, Spain, sitting in a café across from Segrada Familia. See photo below.

Then, of course, he spews endless comments and observations on Facebook, often keeping him busy for hours. But, write a post? That’s not so much in his wheelhouse, so he says.

Tom, the last time he didn’t have a mustache in May, 2013. We were at a café across the street from Segrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, he’s an active participant in what I have to say in our daily posts by  researching, fact checking and proofreading each post immediately after it’s uploaded. Then, upon his suggestions, I edit each inconsistency he catches to reload the post once again. 

It’s a good system. Writing a post every day, at times rushing through it to get on with our plans, is a breeding ground for errors and I certainly have made my fair share. It’s a rare occasion that he doesn’t catch at least one mistake. 

We dined in a traditional Italian restaurant in the walled city of Lucca in July, 2013.  Note Tom’s Fu Manchu mustache. I still laugh over this photo when I know this look was all about the fact that he wasn’t thrilled about the pizza menu that didn’t have all of his favorite toppings.

There are numerous situations when neither of us had noticed an error and a year later one of us stumbles across it. Immediately, I take action to make the corrections. It’s an ongoing process that will never end as long as we continue with our story.

As for Tom’s story, in person, you’d have no trouble getting it out of him as any of his/our friends out there can attest. He’s a great conversationalist and fun to engage in conversation. He’s well read with an opinion on almost any topic that comes to light.

After unsuccessfully prodding him to tell me what he’d like to say here, I decided my only option would be to interview him and post his answers, in his words, exactly as he responded. Here we go:

Pretty carvings in the hotel in Kuta.

Are you enjoying traveling the world? 
“Yes, it’s even better than I’d anticipated”

What is your least favorite aspect of traveling?
“Airports; arriving many hours early, the long lines, the schedules with layovers, the delays and all the other BS.”

What part of traveling the world do you enjoy the most?
“The weather, being away from ice and snow.”

When you look back over the experiences of these past four years, what has been your favorite?
“The next one.”

Of your upcoming plans, which do look forward with the greatest enthusiasm?
“Of course, seeing family and friends in Minnesota.  As for our continuing journey, experiencing places we’ve never seen and, meeting the locals.”

Flower arrangement in the hotel in Kuta.

You often mention how much you love cruising? What is it about cruising that appeals to you?
“Relaxing. It’s a great means of transportation. Meeting new people, making new friends and the bread. I can eat like a normal person on a cruise!”

What do you like least about cruising?
“The muster drill on embarkation day.”

How do you feel when getting settled into a new vacation home?
“Pleasantly surprised when there’s comfortable furniture and bed. Happy if we don’t have to purchase bottled water. Looking forward to checking out the area.”

What food concerns do you have at a new location?
“Will they have the ingredients to make our pizza?  Do they have streaky pork bacon?”

Flowers in standing bowl in hotel.

What items do you find lacking in a vacation home that you wished were always available?
“Good WiFi, an electric coffee maker and a flat screen TV we can use to plug in the HDMI cord.”

How long does it take you to pack?
“It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to pack. I seldom unpack my entire suitcase. I take out underwear, shorts, tee shirts and swimming trunks. The rest stays in the bag.”

How do you feel about renting cars and driving in other countries?
“The turn signal and wipers are on the opposite side of the steering column than I’m used to.  Every time I go to use the turn signal, I turn on the wipers. We laugh every time!”

What booked plans for the future are the most exciting to you?
“The upcoming Alaskan cruise in May, 2017; a cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Chile in November, 2017 when we’ll traverse the Panama Canal, a second time (since 2013) to see the new locks; a cruise we’ve booked that sails around the southern tip of South America (Cape Horn) in December, 2017: and of course, the Antarctica cruise in January, 2018.

Precious statue near the hotel pool.

Is there anywhere you’ve lived in these past four years that you didn’t enjoy?
“Marrakech, Morocco, two weeks would have been plenty, not two and a half months. The house and staff were great, but we felt trapped living inside the souk. Didn’t like the spicy food.”

Do you ever think about stopping this year’s long journey?..
“No, it never enters my mind. In this crazy world, we’d better hurry to see everything we want to see. Who knows what the future holds?”

Why did you shave the beard and the mustache?
“The beard was just a fluke to see if I could grow one. I found out I could. At night it was irritating on the pillow.When it needed a trim it was too difficult to do so I shaved off the beard and also the mustache. Jess likes me either way.”

There it is folks, all Tom has to say for now. Perhaps we can do this more often. I know many of our readers are curious as to what he thinks about living this peculiar life. Feel free to inquire by email or via comments at the end of any post.

Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 27, 2015:

Ratnesh took this photo of us, in from of the Vuadomo Waterfall. We were hot and sweaty, but the long trek was worth it!  For more photos, please click here.

Medical emergency!…Off to local hospital for care…

Tom checked in at the reception desk at the dental office located on the hospital grounds, providing only his name.

Sooner or later medical emergencies arise. Regardless of how hard we try to attain and maintain good health, our bodies are subject to maladies we can’t always control on our own.

So was the case yesterday, Monday morning, when Tom confessed he’d been concerned about a huge bump on his gums beneath a molar with a crown. He never said a word about it all weekend knowing that most likely no dental office would be open over the weekend. He didn’t want me to worry.

Tom was his usual cheerful self even under these worrisome circumstances. 

For me, it’s not about worrying. It’s about taking action to get an appointment as quickly as possible. I can handle being worried. I can’t handle avoiding issues.

Within minutes of him alerting me to the situation I sent Mario an email, asking him for the name of a dentist and then proceeded to look online, calling the only clinic I found. They were closed for another year but referred me to the local hospital, of which we’d posted a few photos last month while on a tour of the city.

The treatment room was spacious and seemingly well equipped.

Calling the hospital I was transferred to the dental clinic to discover, “No appointments necessary. Come in between 8 to 3:30 but, not at lunchtime, 12 to 2.” Fijians value their lunch breaks as a time for nourishment and socializing. This left us with a 5 1/2 hour window. Rasnesh was available to pick us up at 2:00 pm, giving the staff time to return from lunch and get settled.

Once we arrived at the hospital, Rasnesh walked with us to the dental building on the hospital grounds as we dashed from the car in the pouring rain. He said he’d been going to the hospital’s dental clinic all his life and they do a good job. With no other options within a four hour round trip drive, we didn’t hesitate.

We could only hope for sanitary conditions.

There was no doubt Tom had an abscess which can be very dangerous if unattended causing serious and even life-threatening systemic toxicity. I was not happy he hadn’t said anything sooner but, he claims he didn’t see the necessity of me worrying over the weekend. 

Good grief. I’m not that delicate. We’ve since agreed to hold nothing back in fear of worrying one another.

Luckily, he didn’t have one of these dreaded injections.

There was no waiting room. Instead, there was a long bench outside the clinic with a reception desk a few feet inside the door. Within minutes of giving only his name, with no address, no medical history, no passport or ID check, we walked into a treatment room with a Fijian dentist.

Explaining that I was in attendance to aid with Tom’s sketchy hearing issues (years on the railroad), especially with the thick dialect of many Fijian people which he particularly struggles to hear distinctly, the dentist directed most of his comments my way as I “translated.”

The dentist handed Tom a mirror and showed us both the issue with three of his back teeth, where a raging infection was causing the teeth to be “mushy” in the gums from the infection. 

The used sponge on the sink could instill a degree of concern for sanitation.  Then again, we Americans may be overly concerned about germs.

Only a few months earlier, we had our teeth cleaned while living in Trinity Beach, Australia. At that time Tom had been warned about this area as being vulnerable to infection, eventually requiring gum scaling. He sloughed it off for the future, thinking he could take care of it after we left Fiji and moved to New Zealand. Well, it didn’t wait that long. We won’t be living in New Zealand until January 19th.

Had we been in the US, the treatment would have been more comprehensive than yesterdays. I had an abscess several years ago and the area was treated and injected with antibiotics directly into the site, spending two weeks on oral antibiotics.

The dentist wrote Tom two different prescriptions for antibiotics along with a packet of non-narcotic pain meds and sent us to the hospital pharmacy across the parking lot. Now for the bill.  We had no idea how much it would be and nearly broke into laughter when we were handed the invoice for FJD $6, USD $2.76. 

The bill for the dentist visit was surprising at FJD $6, USD $2.76.

Tom started digging through his small change when I said, “How about giving them a $10 and they’ll give you change. Save the coins for the Farmers Market.”

“Good idea,” he responded and handed over the FJD $10 bill. 

Profusely thanking the dentist and receptionist we dashed across the parking lot in the rain to the pharmacy.  The prescriptions were “free,” even for us foreigners. We were shocked and surprised by the small token payment at the dentist’s office and also the free medication.

We were told to return next Monday for the dentist to determine if the infection is improving which we’ve already arranged with Rasnesh. If it’s not better, the alternative is frightening…pulling three teeth. If that’s the case, I think we’d try for another round of a different antibiotic and decide an action plan from there. 

As we entered the hospital’s pharmacy. We only waited a moment for service. The medications he received were already packaged and ready to go. Only the label was added with Tom’s name and instructions.

At this point, we’re trying to be optimistic and not project as to the possibilities. We don’t take this lightly and will do whatever is necessary to protect Tom’s health, even if it means flying back to Sydney a month earlier than planned to get to a private dentist. For now, we’ll play it by ear. Isn’t that what we always do anyway?

For now, he’s comfortable, pain-free, and diligently taking the two antibiotics as prescribed. Stuff happens. This could easily have occurred had we still been living in the US, although a more radical treatment plan may have been implemented along at a considerably higher cost.

Tom’s free prescriptions, two antibiotics, and one packet of non-prescription ibuprofen.

The cost for treatment in the US might now be as much as US $1000, FJD $2175, or more, based on the bill I received several years ago for a similar situation. In any case, we’re grateful we had an option here in Fiji, regardless of the cost, that didn’t require leaving the island at this point.

We’ll be back next week on this topic after next Monday’s visit to the dentist to see if there’s been any improvement. 

Have a wonderful day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 10, 2014:

The blue water in Maui, Hawaii changes with the sky which more often than not, is clear and sunny. For more details on last year’s post, please click here.

A blender…An usual recipe…A request from a casual encounter….Kind words from a friend…

Huge boulders placed on the beach as a breakwater or were they there all along?

A few days ago I wrote to the lovely property owners of our upcoming vacation rental in Trinity Beach, Australia beginning on June 11th. I posed a question to  Andy, the owner of the property for which I anticipated a negative response: “Is there a blender available for our use during the 89 night stay?” Only about half of our vacation rentals have had blenders.

With the huge time difference of 20 hours between Hawaii and Trinity Beach, Australia, I didn’t expect to hear back for a day or so. In no time at all, Andy replied that they had a blender and would let us use it during our stay.  We were thrilled. 

A lone tree near the shore on the Kauai Path.

Why do we so desperately need a blender? Over the past few years, as we fine-tuned our diet, we’ve stopped using products containing soy, vegetable, and seed oils and any products containing chemicals. Store-bought mayonnaise contains all of these. 

I’ve been making a walnut (a nut, not a seed) oil dressing and yesterday, I made a bacon grease mayo that was delicious. With our low carb high fat (LCHF), grain, starch, and sugar-free way of eating, saving the grease from nitrate-free bacon over several days, left us with the one cup of clear, clean, chemical-free oil needed to make a perfect mayo.

You may cringe at this thought. If I were to try to explain how it’s safe if not healthful on our way of eating to consume bacon grease every day on our salads, it would take me more than the 1000+ post we’ve done so far. 

A bushy path to the beach on the Kauai Path.

There are numerous scientific books I’ve posted here that explains it better than I. If you’d like to see that list again, please feel free to write to me and I’ll resend you the list that is the basis of this way of eating.

Oh, it’s easy for me to talk about health when I’ve been suffering from an infection for over a week, now slightly better on day two of taking Cipro. No diet, no lifestyle change, and no exercise modality can make any of us exempt from illness. If there was, we’d be doing it! Being sick in a strange land is awful.

The beach in downtown Kapaa.

So for those of you who either have adopted this way of eating or are considering doing so, here’s the recipe:

Jess’s Baconnaise
2 egg yolks from pasteurized eggs (readily available at most grocery stores)
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1 T. lemon juice
1 cup bacon fat, strained or not (Don’t refrigerate it before using, only after it’s made. If the bacon fat is solid, place it in hot water in the sink to let it liquefy. Don’t heat it in the microwave. Hot grease won’t work. It will cook the egg yolks which you don’t want).

Place yolks, mustard, and lemon juice into a blender or food processor. Blend on low for 15 seconds. Put the lid on the blender removing that little plastic cup in the middle of the lid. Turn on to the lowest speed. As slowly as you possibly can, drizzle the grease into the hole in the lid of the blender. Season as you’d like with salt and pepper or other spices. Store in a glass jar with a lid. It keeps two weeks in the refrigerator.

A house during construction above the Kauai Path which has a magnificent distant view of the sea.

Please don’t consume a high fat and high carb diet together. It’s a lethal combination! It’s that way of eating that is causing diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and obesity all over the world. 

Please read about this way of eating before adopting this lifestyle to see if its right for you and also check with your doctor, although most doctors didn’t study nutrition in medical school for more than a few hours and still believe in the low fat, high grain diet that we were fed by congress in the 1970s. Read the book by Nina Teicholz, The Big Fat Surprise, if you’d like to see the facts.

Anyway, enough pontificating for today.  I apologize if I bore those of you who have little interest in these topics. 

In any case, Andy offered the blender and we were almost as appreciative of Andy in Australia as were with Mario in Fiji who purchased a stove for us as told in this post of a few weeks ago. 

The Kauai Path is well maintained and has several restroom buildings such as this and lifeguard vehicles with surfboards for aiding in water rescues.

Gosh, maybe it really is OK to ask for what we want. In our old lives, we hesitated to ever ask for anything we wanted or needed from others. We always tried to do it ourselves, never wanting to impose. How we’ve learned from experience!

Continuing on…yesterday, I received an email from a lovely woman I’d met while on the tour of the Princeville Botanical Garden, asking for a reading list on my anti-inflammation way of eating.  

I wouldn’t normally bring up my diet on a tour but when I refused to taste the fruit from the trees and the sugar-added-chocolates during the cacao beans demonstration, I was asked why I refused to taste either. In brief, I explained, and yet, the questions kept coming during breaks on the tour. Today, after I’m done here, I will send Barbara the list. If you’d like a copy of this list, please send me an email.

In every direction, a mountain view enhances the exquisite scenery in Kauai.  On most days, there are full clouds hovering over the mountains. The sky is seldom totally clear for more than an hour.

Then, early this morning while checking my email, I was blown away by a message Tom received from Jerry (and Vicki) whom we met on the beach in Hanalei when we first arrived in Kauai. 

See this link here from the day we met Vicki and Jerry. We only spent a few hours together on that special day.  They were leaving the next day but a friendship blossomed that we’ll always cherish and remember. We’ve been lucky to meet so many wonderful people here in Kauai!

I couldn’t resist posting this photo of Tom and Jerry, one more time, as we approach the end of our time in Kauai. Here it is! It bespeaks the fun we had that afternoon.

This photo makes us smile as we recall how lucky we were to meet Jerry and Vicki in January.

Today, Jerry wrote the following in his message. I blush over the accolades but so admire him for taking the time and effort to share his thoughts with us. Here it is:

“Hello Tom:  Some days, I speed read Jessica’s blogs.  Of late, I am hanging on every word.  I am so glad I/we met you and Jessica.  She says and writes what she thinks, in a way putting into simple words what we think, but somehow can’t get out.  Ah, what a teacher.  Teaching is a way to see the world thru nature and our interdependence on one another.  The May 13, 2015 blog was special.  It strikes one’s emotions and reminded me of a saying I once read in “golf in the kingdom”—-we are all kites in the wind, attached only by a mere thread.  but even a kite, a symbol of freedom in the wind, cannot fly without a conductor, someone to help it get going.  Thank you, Jerry, Hanalei Beach January 19, 2015, Kauai, Hawaii.”

Jerry, thank you!  Your words warm our hearts and validate the degree of effort we exercise daily in posting and sharing endless photos. We’ll always remember you both. But, as we soon leave Kauai in nine days, guess what? We’re taking you with us! As you hopefully continue to follow us each day!

                                               Photo from one year ago today, May 14, 2014:

Taking a few more photos in the souk as we wound down our last day in Marrakech, we spotted this colorful swirl of scarves. For details from that final date and our total expenses for the two and a half months in Morocco, please click here.

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down…Not really…How much time do we have left?…Reading list…Tom adds a story!

This Marigold was one of the most beautiful we’ve seen. 

Here’s the song from 1971 by the Carpenters that popped into my head first thing this morning when I noticed the cloudy day and the Monday morning. Sorry about the ad which you can push past.  Sure brings us back to the reality that this song was popular 44 years ago. Gee, didn’t I just turn 44?  Ha! Where did the time go?

The days, the weeks, the months are flying by so quickly now, there’s hardly time to stop and reflect upon days passed. The weekend wafted by in a flurried mix of long walks, good movies, good food and speaking to friends on Skype. 

Pink Orchids, common to the Hawaiian Islands.

“They” (whoever “they” are) say as we age and eventually retire, time flies more quickly. Perhaps, as we age, it’s not about time flying faster and more about the fact that we are more resilient and less stressed with the daily activities around working, raising a family (or not), and trying to “make it.”

Once we retire, we let the dreams go of fame, wealth, and prosperity (for those of us who haven’t achieved those levels) and we comfortably settle into a life of reality. Here’s who I am. Here are those who love me.  Here’s how much I can spend to live. Here’s what I can realistically accomplish in the years I have left to live.

The vibrant hot pink in these orchids was breathtaking.

Have you ever counted the years you may have left on this earth using your expected longevity based on your health and heritage? I do every so often, realizing that at 67, my life may end in 20 years. Then I recall back to 20 years ago, trying to get a frame of reference as to how much time I may actually have left.  

Twenty years ago, I married Tom. I was as happy as I could be. Now, these 20 years later, most of which were happy, some of which were wrought with worry and strife, as life often is, I realize that I do have enough time to complete my mission, health and safety providing.

The color of these tiny flowers is almost florescent. We’ve yet to find the name. With the help of our reader, Annie, these are Pentas. Thanks, Annie!

And aren’t we kind of like a company needing our own mission statement to decide what we want to accomplish and how we’ll go about achieving it? Many of us go through life waiting for the “next best thing” to happen to determine our path.

For many years I did this along with a thought that quality of life was based on how hard you worked, how hard you loved, and how kind you were, all of which were thrown into a bucket waiting for “luck” to be thrown into the mix. I’ve learned it doesn’t work that way. It took a long time.

When I turned 50 years old, one day I woke up and got it. I wasn’t going to make the billions I dreamed of and live the life commensurate with those billions. 

Golden tipped Anthurium.

I wasn’t going to be standing at a podium in front of an applauding audience extolling the virtues of hard work and dedication, along with a magic potion of all the insightful morsels of every motivational speaker I’d ever heard.

Nope, this is it. This is the life I chose and the person I chose to live it with. Now 17 years after my revelation, I’m happy. (We’ve been together for 24 years, married for 20). Oh, it’s not jumping up and down happy, although at times we both feel that way. Instead, as I awake each day I hear these words in my head, “Yeah, another day I can have a whack at it!” I’m grateful, to say the least. He is too.

This is Poinsettia in its offseason.  Still lovely.

This life has nothing to do with luck. Happiness has nothing to do with luck. For both of us, it has everything to do with sacrifice, letting go, stepping outside the box, being fearless, strict adherence to health and well being and above all, a determined choice to get along with one another and allow ourselves the privilege of being happy.

So many couples (bear with me, single people) waste years of their lives together in disharmony. How many times have we heard from the one left behind how they wished they’d have been more tolerant, more patient, more loving? Not us, we decided to do that now. If I want to curse him or vise versa, we can save it for when the other is gone in 20 years, 30 years, or who knows?

What a peculiar growing thing!

Ah, enough pontificating. On with the reading list which will not be belabored by any means.

Here’s Tom most recent reading material:
1.  Railroad War by Leon Speroff
2.  Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin
3.  Dial M, The Murder of Carol Thompson by William Swanson
4.  Stolen from the Garden by William Swanson
5.  Vince Flynn, Minnesota author who’s since passed away, having written about a dozen books, all of which Tom’s read since we left.
6.  Why Coolidge Matters by Charles C. Johnson
7.  Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robison
8.  Preposterous Papa by Lewis Meyer (This book was written by friend Richard’s uncle about the life of his grandfather). 

Tiny puffs, miniature Bottle Brush flowers.

Here’s what I’m reading:
1.  Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore and Dr. Eric Westman
2.  Wheat Belly Total Health by Dr. William Davis
3.  Altered Genes, Twisted Truth by Steven M. Druker
4.  The Big Fat Surprise by Nin Teicholz
5.  The Paleo Manifesto by John Durant

You can copy and paste any of these titles into the amazon link on the right side of the page for more details or email us for assistance or with questions.

Today’s post reminded Tom of a story he wanted to share.  Here it is:

“A successful man was giving a speech about how he achieved his success.
He told the story of losing all his money gambling in Las Vegas and he didn’t have the 10 cents required in those days to use the toilet.

He explained his predicament to the first guy he sees outside the restroom door asking if he’d give him a dime for the toilet. The guy pulled a dime out of his pocket and handed it to him.
As he entered the restroom he notices the last person had left the toilet door open. So he used the toilet.

After exiting the restroom he put the dime into a slot machine and hit a $100.00 jackpot. He took the $100 to play blackjack, winning $1000.
He then played craps and won $10,000.

He used this money to invest in stocks on Wall St. and made tens of millions.

In closing his speech he said if he could find the man who helped him he would give him half of his worldly goods.

A man stood up in the audience and said, “I’m the guy who gave you the dime in Vegas!”
The speaker replied, “Not you, sir. It was the guy who left the toilet door open.”

Thanks for sharing, Honey!

Have a magnificent Monday, rainy day, or not.

This wasn’t our photo that we posted it one year ago. The shop keepers wouldn’t allow photos of their clothing on display. On this date, we discussed gender roles as we perceived them in Marrakech. For more details, please click here.